Wat is er aan de hand in het Kremlin? - Het Nieuwsblad Mobile
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 16:35
Op vrijdag heeft de Russische president Vladimir Poetin gevraagd aan de media om dit weekend in Moskou te blijven omdat er een 'zeer belangrijke persconferentie gegeven zal worden'.
Terwijl de geruchten over Vladimir Poetin, die sinds begin maart niet meer in het openbaar werd gezien, steeds wilder worden (ook baby's, dood en terminaal ziek worden overwogen), hebben tientallen witte vrachtwagens in het holst van de nacht materiaal afgezet voor een podium. Het podium wordt opgebouwd op het Rode Plein.
Om het nog verwarrender te maken kondigde het Kremlin vrijdagavond aan dat het met 'groot nieuws zal uitpakken op een persconferentie dit weekend'. Elke journalist in Rusland wordt dan ook vriendelijk verzocht om in Moskou te blijven of naar de hoofdstad te trekken voor 'de belangrijke mededeling'.
Patricia Paay praat uren met Adam en accepteert excuses - AD.nl
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 18:52
Adam Curry (50) heeft zijn excuses aangeboden aan zijn ex Patricia Paay (65) in een urenlang gesprek dat tot 2 uur 's nachts duurde. De twee hadden elkaar sinds hun plotselinge scheiding in 2009 niet meer zo uitvoerig gesproken. ,,Het hoge woord is eruit.''
,,Ik vond het lief dat hij sorry heeft gezegd. Sorry voor de foute keuze die hij gemaakt heeft'', vertelt Paay in De Telegraaf. Ze verweet hem dat hij hun scheiding niet goed heeft afgewikkeld, maar concludeert na het gesprek dat Adam geen miljoenen meer heeft liggen voor een financile regeling. ,,De mensen die altijd dachten dat de miljoenen bij ons binnenstroomden kan ik uit de droom helpen. Ze zijn er niet, of niet meer. Ik weet zelf niet hoe het zit. Maar hij heeft ze ook niet liggen. 'Ik heb er z(C)lf naast gegrepen' vertelde hij me. Nou ja, ook goed, dan is het hoge woord er nu maar uit; ik zal het zelf moeten doen.''
MickyLa Paay blikt tevreden terug op het uitgebreide gesprek met Adam, die weer vrijgezel is na zijn scheiding met Micky Hoogendijk. ,,Hij zei sorry voor dat hij zichzelf zo heeft laten gaan en mij daardoor ook, na l die jaren. Al die jaren waarin tussen ons nooit iets was voorgevallen. Het zomaar, pats boem, over en voorbij. 'Wil je een kopje thee?' vroeg hij die ochtend. Dat was scary, want dat had hij nog nooit gevraagd. De schrik sloeg me om het hart. Ik dacht nog: hij gaat me vertellen dat hij ziek is. Sch(C)den, dat kwam gewoon niet in me "p!''
Ondanks dat ze niet meer samen is met Adam, maakt ze zich zorgen om hem. ,,Nu is hij alleen. En hij is nog nooit alleen geweest. Ik vond hem er moe uitzien, zorgelijk ook. Ja, hij zal het zich ook allemaal anders hebben voorgesteld. Het is hem allemaal niet in de koude kleren gaan zitten. Hij heeft, dat begreep ik uit onze avond met elkaar ook meteen, geen gemakkelijke tijd met die vrouw gehad.''
ChristinaHet stel heeft samen (C)(C)n dochter, Christina, van 24 jaar. Zij was de reden dat Adam de scheiding met Micky eerder niet wilde bevestigen en ook zij hield voet bij stuk. ,,We moeten lachen om de geruchten'', liet de kunstenares in januari los aan het AD.
Daarna klapte Adam toch uit de school. ,,Ik moet iets bekennen, ik heb mezelf gecensureerd de afgelopen tijd, uit eigen belang. Ik heb de laatste maanden in een mediastorm gezeten tussen m'n vrouw en m'n ex-vrouw. Daar was met name mijn onschuldige dochter Christina het slachtoffer van, vandaar dat ik zelf maar even zweeg. Micky en ik leven niet langer samen, ik ben er vrij zeker van dat dat niet gaat veranderen. Ze is niet eens in het land momenteel. Ze heeft het niet zo op Austin en, waarschijnlijk, en dat dat weet ik zeker, ook niet zo op mij.''
Lees alles over Patricia Paay in ons dossier.
Patricia met dochter Christina tijdens de premi¨re van The Sound of Music, in november. (C) bruno.Met Christina in september 2010. (C) bruno.Adam en Micky in betere tijden, in 2013. (C) bruno.
Presidential Proclamation --National Poison Prevention Week, 2015
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:08
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 13, 2015
NATIONAL POISON PREVENTION WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
Household and environmental poisons pose risks to Americans of all ages. While children under age 6 account for half of all cases of poison exposure, more than 90 percent of poisoning deaths occur among people over the age of 20. Poisonings are more common and more deadly than many people realize -- but they are often avoidable and treatable, and every person can take action to guard against these preventable tragedies. During National Poison Prevention Week, we raise awareness of the precautions each person can take to protect their loved ones, as well as what to do in the event of a poison emergency.
Most poisonings take place at home where cleaning products, cosmetics, and other chemicals are stored. That is why it is important for parents and caregivers to keep poisonous items out of their children's sight and reach. These items should be properly labeled and stored in their original containers -- especially medicine, which is a major source of poisoning among young people and adults. Before taking medication, whether over-the-counter or prescribed, Americans should ensure they understand the instructions, including the proper dosage and how to avoid unsafe drug interactions, and discuss any questions with a doctor or pharmacist. Everyone should also be aware of local environmental poisons, including plants, insects, and berries; practice safe food preparation and handling to avoid food poisoning; and guard against carbon monoxide by installing detectors for this colorless, odorless gas.
If you suspect someone has been poisoned, fast action is essential. Do not wait for signs of poisoning. You should immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Help line can also connect you with experts to discuss questions about medication and other non-emergency situations. Last year, I was proud to sign the Poison Center Network Act, which reauthorized funding for the Poison Help line and also supported poison control centers and nationwide efforts to raise awareness about poison prevention and the resources available in local communities.
Education and awareness about poisons can save lives. I encourage all people to speak out about the importance of poison prevention and discuss these commonsense steps with their loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors. To learn more, visit www.PoisonHelp.HRSA.gov. Information about safe drug disposal is available at www.DEAdiversion.USDOJ.gov.
To encourage Americans to learn more about the dangers of accidental poisonings and to take appropriate preventative measures, the Congress, by joint resolution approved September 26, 1961, as amended (75 Stat. 681) has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the third week of March each year as "National Poison Prevention Week."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 15 through March 21, 2015, as National Poison Prevention Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week by taking actions to protect their families from hazardous household materials and misuse of prescription medicines.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Congressional Dish on The Stream
Talking to yourself cellphone fake
More Chip & Sign vs Pin
I remember you mentioning on the show that you used a 'chip' credit card in Europe, and instead of entering a PIN the machine pooped out a slip for you to sign.
I just received a new Amex card that has a chip for the first time, and I did a search because I was wondering if I needed to select a PIN. It turns out, it's not a 'Chip & PIN' card, it's a 'Chip & Signature' card (FAQ here: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/chip/faqs.html?linknav=us-loy-chipsig-faqs). So you put the card in so it reads the chip, but you still have to sign the slip instead of entering a PIN. Kind of defeats the enhanced security of using a PIN, no? *facepalm*
Hope all is well, safe travels --
Baroness Tanya :-)
Kevin's Ebola Joke
Girl scout cookies not tasting the same
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
DomesticWorld War IThe first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.
World War IIDuring World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities. The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold WarDuring the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on DrugsThe National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988, but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998, is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States". The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.
Iraq WarIn early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program. The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts. On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America. Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt ActThe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.
Ad CouncilThe Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.
InternationalThrough several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.
Psychological operationsThe US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public. Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap."  The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia, as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.
See alsoReferences^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''704, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
Über driver from Kabul
Afghanistan wazirustan Pakistan
100 year agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan about the waziristan region
Pakistan doesn't want to give it back
Ahgahns are fighting for it
Durand Line - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:03
The Durand Line (Pashto: Ø¯ ÚÛÙØ±ÙÚ Ú(C)Ø±ÚÙ') is the border, 2,640 kilometers (1,640 mi) long, between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was established in 1893 by agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat and civil servant of British India, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Amir, to fix the limit of their respective spheres of influence and improve diplomatic relations and trade. Afghanistan ceded various frontier areas to British India to prevent invasion of further areas of the country. Afghanistan was considered by the British as an independent princely state at the time, although the British controlled its foreign affairs and diplomatic relations.
The single-page agreement contains seven short articles, including a commitment not to exercise interference beyond the Durand Line. A joint British-Afghan demarcation survey took place starting from 1894, covering some 800 miles of the border. The resulting line later established the "Great Game" buffer zone between British and Russian interests in the region. The line as slightly modified by the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 was inherited by Pakistan following its independence from the British in 1947 becoming its modern border with Afghanistan.
The Durand Line cuts through the Pashtun tribal areas and further south through the Balochistan region, politically dividing ethnic Pashtuns, as well as the Baloch and other ethnic groups, who live on both sides of the border. It demarcates Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan and Gilgit''Baltistan of northern and western Pakistan from the northeastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan. From a geopolitical and geostrategic perspective, it has been described as one of the most dangerous borders in the world. Although recognised internationally as the western border of Pakistan and shown as such on global maps, it remains unrecognized in Afghanistan. According to Aimal Faizi, spokesman for the Afghan President, the Durand Line is "an issue of historical importance for Afghanistan. The Afghan people, not the government, can take a final decision on it."
§Historical backgroundThe area in which the Durand Line runs has been inhabited by the indigenous Pashtuns since ancient times, at least since 500 B.C. The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned a people called Pactyans living in and around Arachosia as early as the 1st millennium BC. The Baloch tribes inhabit the southern end of the line, which runs in the Balochistan region that separates the ethnic Baloch people.
ArabMuslims conquered the area in the 7th century and introduced Islam to the Pashtuns. It is believed that some of the early Arabs also settled among the Pashtuns in the Sulaiman Mountains. It is important to note that these Pashtuns were historically known as "Afghans" and are believed to be mentioned by that name in Arabicchronicles as early as the 10th century. The Pashtun area (known today as the "Pashtunistan" region) fell within the Ghaznavid Empire in the 10th century followed by the Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis, and finally by the Durranis.
In 1839, during the First Anglo-Afghan War, British-led Indian forces invaded Afghanistan and initiated a war with the Afghan rulers. Two years later, in 1842, the British were defeated and the war ended. The British again invaded Afghanistan in 1878, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War, withdrawing a couple of years later after attaining some geopolitical objectives. During this war, the Treaty of Gandamak was signed, ceding control of various frontier areas to the British Empire.
In 1893, Mortimer Durand was dispatched to Kabul by the government of British India to sign an agreement with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan for fixing the limits of their respective spheres of influence as well as improving diplomatic relations and trade. On November 12, 1893, the Durand Line Agreement was reached. The two parties later camped at Parachinar, a small town near Khost in Afghanistan, which is now part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, to delineate the frontier.
From the British side, the camp was attended by Mortimer Durand and Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum, Political AgentKhyber Agency representing the British Viceroy and Governor General. The Afghan side was represented by Sahibzada Abdul Latif and a former governor of Khost province in Afghanistan, Sardar Shireendil Khan, representing Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. The original 1893 Durand Line Agreement was written in English, with translated copies in Dari or Pashto language. It is believed however that only the English version was actually signed by Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, a language he could not read or understand.
The resulting agreement or treaty led to the creation of a new province called at the time North-West Frontier Province now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province of Pakistan which includes FATA and Frontier Regions.
It also included the areas of Multan, Mianwali, the Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan. These areas were part of the Durrani Empire from 1709 until the 1820s when the Sikh Empire followed by British invaded and took possession. They were annexed with the Punjab Province of Pakistan as late as 1970, after the one unit of Pakistan was dissolved by PresidentYahya Khan, resulting in a shrunken NWFP (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
§Demarcation surveys on the Durand LineThe initial and primary demarcation, a joint Afghan-British survey and mapping effort, covered 800 miles and took place from 1894 to 1896. "The total length of the boundary which had been delimitated and demarcated between March 1894 and May 1896, amounted to 800 miles." Detailed topographic maps locating hundreds of boundary demarcation pillars were soon published and are available in the Survey of India collection at the British Library. The complete 20-page text of these detailed joint Afghan-British demarcation surveys is available in several sources, which point out that "J. Donald and Sardar Shireendil Khan settled the boundary from Sikaram Peak (34-03 north, 69-57 east) to Laram Peak (33-13 north, 70-05 east) in a document dated 21 November 1894. This section was marked by 76 pillars. The boundary from Laram Peak to ... Khwaja Khidr (32-34 north) ... was surveyed and marked by H. A. Anderson in concert with various Afghan chiefs ... marked by (39) pillars which are described in a report dated 15 April 1895. L. W. King (issued a report dated) 8 March 1895 (on) the demarcation of the section from Khwaja Khidr to Domandi (31-55 north) by 31 pillars. The line from Domandi to New Chaman (30-55 north, 66-22 east) was marked by 92 pillars by a joint demarcation commission led by Captain (later Lt. ColonelSir) Henry McMahon and Sardar Gul Muhammad Khan (who issued a) report dated 26 February 1895. McMahon also led the demarcation commission with Muhammad Umar Khan which marked the boundary from new Chaman to ... the tri-junction with Iran ... by 94 pillars which are described in a report dated 13 May 1896." In 1896, the long stretch from the Kabul River to China, including the Wakhan Corridor, was declared demarcated by virtue of its continuous, distinct watershed ridgeline, leaving only the section near the Khyber Pass, which was finally demarcated in the treaty of 22 November 1921 signed by Mahmud Tarzi, "Chief of the Afghan Government for the conclusion of the treaty" and "Henry R. C. Dobbs, Envoy Extraordinary and Chief of the British Mission to Kabul." A very short adjustment to the demarcation was made at Arundu (Arnawai) in 1933-34.
§Cultural Impact of the Durand LineShortly after demarcation of the Durand Line, the British began connecting the region on its side of Durand line to the vast and expansive Indian railway network. Concurrently, Afridi tribesmen began risen up in arms against the British, creating a zone of instability between Peshawar and the Durand Line. Further, frequent skirmishes and wars between the Afghan state and the British Raj starting in the 1870s made travel between Peshawar and Jalalabad almost impossible. As a result, travel across the boundary was almost entirely halted. Further, the British recruited tens of thousands of local Pashtuns into the British Indian Army and stationed them throughout British India and southeast Asia. Exposure to India, combined with the ease of travel eastwards into Punjab and the difficulty of travel towards Afghanistan, led most Pashtuns to orient themselves towards the heartlands of British India and away from Kabul. By the time of Indian independence, political opinion was divided into those who supported a homeland for Muslim Indians in the shape of Pakistan, and those who believed that a united India would be a better option. Having been cut off from Afghan life for approximately 70 years, no prominent political or religious figures voiced any support for unification with Afghanistan.
§British Raj declares war on AfghanistanThe Durand Line triggered a long-running controversy between the governments of Afghanistan and British India, especially after the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Afghan War when Afghanistan's capital (Kabul) and its eastern city of Jalalabad were bombed by the No. 31 and No. 114 Squadrons of the British Royal Air Force in May 1919. Nevertheless, Afghan rulers reaffirmed in the 1919, 1921, and 1930 treaties to accept the Indo-Afghan frontier.
The Afghan Government accepts the Indo''Afghan frontier accepted by the late Amir
The two high contracting parties mutually accept the Indo-Afghan frontier as accepted by the Afghan Government under Article V of the Treaty concluded on August 8, 1919
'--Article II of the November 22, 1921 finalising of the Treaty of Rawalpindi
§Territorial dispute between Afghanistan and PakistanPakistan inherited the 1893 agreement and the subsequent 1919 Treaty of Rawalpindi after its partition from the British India in 1947. There has never been a formal agreement or ratification between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan believes and international convention under uti possidetis juris supports the position that it should not require one; courts in several countries around the world and the Vienna Convention have universally upheld via uti possidetis juris that binding bilateral agreements are "passed down" to successor states Thus, a unilateral declaration by one party has no effect; boundary changes must be made bilaterally.
At the time of independence, the indigenous Pashtun people living on the border with Afghanistan were given only the choice of becoming a part either of India or Pakistan. Further, by the time of the Indian independence movement, prominent Pashtun nationalists such as Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgar movement advocated a united India, and not a united Afghanistan - highlighting the extent to which infrastructure and instability together began to erode Pashtun self-identification with Afghanistan. By the time of independence, popular opinion amongst Pashtuns was split amongst the majority who wished to join the newly formed state of Pakistan, and the minority who wished to remain part of a united India.
Some scholars have suggested that the Durand Line was never intended to be a boundary demarcating sovereignty, but rather a line of control beyond which either side agreed not to interfere unless there were an expedient need to do so.[who?] Memoranda from British officials at the time of the Durand Agreement incline towards this view. Scholars suggest that the frontier agreement was not of the form of an "executed clause", which usually caters for sovereign boundary demarcation and which cannot be unilaterally repudiated. Rather, they conjecture that it is of the form of an "executory clause", similar to those pertaining to trade agreements, which are ongoing and can be repudiated by either party at any time. This is, however, a matter of ongoing debate. Other legal questions currently being considered are those of state practice, i.e. whether the relevant states de facto treat the frontier as an international boundary, and whether the de jure independence of the Tribal Territories at the moment of Indian Independence undermine the validity of Durand Agreement and subsequent treaties.
On July 26, 1949, when Afghan''Pakistan relations were rapidly deteriorating, a loya jirga was held in Afghanistan after a military aircraft from the Pakistan Air Force bombed a village on the Afghan side of the Durand Line. In response, the Afghan government declared that it recognized "neither the imaginary Durand nor any similar line" and that all previous Durand Line agreements were void. They also announced that the Durand ethnic division line had been imposed on them under coercion/duress and was a diktat. This had no tangible effect as there has never been a move in the United Nations to enforce such a declaration due to both nations being constantly busy in wars with their other neighbors (See Indo-Pakistani wars and Civil war in Afghanistan). In 1950 the House of Commons of the United Kingdom held its view on the Afghan-Pakistan dispute over the Durand Line by stating:
His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom has seen with regret the disagreements between the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan about the status of the territories on the North West Frontier. It is His Majesty's Government's view that Pakistan is in international law the inheritor of the rights and duties of the old Government of India and of his Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in these territories and that the Durand Line is the international frontier.
At the 1956 SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) Ministerial Council Meeting held at Karachi, capital of Pakistan at the time, it was stated:
The members of the Council declared that their governments recognized that the sovereignty of Pakistan extends up to the Durand Line, the international boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it was consequently affirmed that the Treaty area referred to in Articles IV and VIII of the Treaty includes the area up to that Line.
'--SEATO, March 8, 1956
Pakistan withdrew from SEATO on November 7, 1973, and the organization was finally dissolved in June 1977.
§Contemporary eraPakistan's largest intelligence agency (the ISI), which began with the birth of the nation, has been heavily involved in the affairs of Afghanistan since the late 1970s. During Operation Cyclone, the ISI with full support/funding from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the White House in the United States recruited huge numbers of mujahideen militant groups on the Pakistani side of the Durand line to cross into Afghanistan's territory for missions to destroy the Soviet-backed Afghan government. Afghanistan KHAD was one of two secret service agencies believed to have been conducting bombings in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP) during the early 1980s. U.S State Department blamed WAD (a KGB created Afghan secret intelligence agency) for terrorist bombings in Pakistan's cities in 1987 and 1988. It is also believed that Afghanistan's PDPA government supported leftistAl-Zulfiqar organization of Pakistan, the group accused of the 1981 hijacking of a Pakistan International Airlines plane from Karachi to Kabul.
After the collapse of the pro-Soviet Afghan government in 1992, Pakistan obviously being aware of article 2 of the Durand Line Agreement, where it mentions "The Government of India (Pakistan) will at no time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the side of Afghanistan", created a puppet state in Afghanistan run by the Taliban. According to a summer 2001 report in The Friday Times, even the Taliban leaders challenged the very existence of the Durand Line when former Afghan Interior MinisterAbdur Razzaq and a delegate of about 95 Taliban visited Pakistan. The Taliban refused to endorse the Durand Line despite pressure from Islamabad, arguing that there shall be no borders among Muslims. When the Taliban government was removed in late 2001, the new Afghan PresidentHamid Karzai also began resisting the Durand Line.
"A line of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers."
The Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO) depicts the line on their maps as a de facto border, including naming the "Durand Line 2310 km (1893)" as an "International Boundary Line" on their home page. However, a map in an article from the "General Secretary of The Government of Balochistan in Exile" extends the border of Afghanistan to the Indus River. The Pashtun dominated Government of Afghanistan not only refuses to recognize the Durand Line as the international border between the two countries, it claims that the Pashtun territories of Pakistan rightly belong to Afghanistan. Many in Afghanistan as well as some Pakistani politicians find the existence of the international boundary splitting ethnic Pashtun areas to be at least objectionable if not abhorrent. Some argue that the 1893 treaty expired in 1993, after 100 years elapsed, and should be treated similarly to the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. However, neither the relatively short Durand Line Agreement itself nor the much longer joint boundary demarcation documents that followed in 1894-6 make any mention of a time limit suggesting the treaty should be treated similar to the Curzon Line and Mexican Cession or any other international boundary agreement (none of which have time limits.) In 2004, spokespersons of U.S. State Department's Office of the Geographer and Global Issues and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office also pointed out that the Durand Line Agreement has no mention of an expiration date.
Recurrent claims that (the) Durand Treaty expired in 1993 are unfounded. Cartographic depictions of boundary conflict with each other, but Treaty depictions are clear.
'--A spokesperson for U.S. State Department's Office of the Geographer and Global Issues
Because the Durand Line divides the Pashtun and Baloch people, it continues to be a source of tension between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In August 2007, Pakistani politician and the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Fazal-ur-Rehman, urged Afghanistan to recognize the Durand Line. Press statements from 2005 to 2007 by former Pakistani PresidentMusharraf calling for the building of a fence on the Durand Line have been met with resistance from numerous Pashtun political parties within Afghanistan. Pashtun politicians in both countries strenuously object to even the existence of the Durand Line border.
Aimal Faizi, spokesman for the Afghan President, stated in October 2012 that the Durand Line is "an issue of historical importance for Afghanistan. The Afghan people, not the government, can take a final decision on it."
§Recent border conflictsIn July 2003, Pakistani and Afghan forces clashed over border posts. The Afghan government claimed that Pakistani military established bases up to 600 meters inside Afghanistan in the Yaqubi area near bordering Mohmand Agency. The Yaqubi and Yaqubi Kandao (Pass) area were later found to fall within Afghanistan. In 2007, Pakistan erected fences and posts a few hundred meters inside Afghanistan, near the border-straddling bazaar of Angoor Ada in South Waziristan, but the Afghan National Army quickly removed them and began shelling Pakistani positions. Leaders in Pakistan said the fencing was a way to prevent Taliban militants from crossing over between the two nations but Afghan President Hamid Karzai believed that it is Islamabad plan to permanently separate the Pashtun tribes.Special Forces from the United States Army have been based at Shkin, Afghanistan, seven kilometers west of Angoor Ada, since 2002. In 2009, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and American CIA have begun using unmanned aerial vehicles from the Afghan side to hit terrorist targets on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line.
The border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been one of the most dangerous places in the world, due largely to very little government control. It is legal and common in the region to carry guns, and assault rifles and explosives are common. Many forms of illegal activities take place, such as smuggling of weapons, narcotics, lumber, copper, gemstones, marble, vehicles, and electronic products, as well as ordinary consumer goods. Kidnappings and murders are frequent. Numerous outsiders with extremist views came from around the Muslim world to settle in the Durand Line region over the past 30 years. While most of the time the Taliban cross the Durand Line from Afghanistan into Pakistan and carry out attacks inside Pakistani cities, sometimes they cross from the Pakistani side of the border and attack Afghan security forces. Recently, 300 Taliban militants from Afghanistan's territory launched attacks on Pakistani border posts in which 34 Pakistani security forces were believed to be killed. It is also believed Swat District Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah is hiding somewhere inside Afghanistan. In June 2011 more than 500 Taliban militants entered Upper Dir area from Afghanistan and killed more than 30 Pakistani security forces. Police said the attackers targeted a checkpost, destroyed two schools and several houses, while killing a number of civilians.
The governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are both trying to extend the rule of law into the border areas. At the same time, the United States is reviewing the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) Act in Washington, D.C., which is supposed to help the economic status of the Pashtun and Baloch tribes by providing jobs to a large number of the population on both sides of the Durand Line border.
Much of the northern and central Durand line is quite mountainous, where crossing the border is often only practical in the numerous passes through the mountains. Border crossings are very common, especially among Pashtuns who cross the border to meet relatives or to work. The movement of people crossing the border has largely been unchecked or uncontrolled, although passports and visas are at times checked at official crossings. In June 2011 the United States installed a biometric system at the border crossing near Spin Boldak aimed at improving the security situation and blocking the infiltration of insurgents into southern Afghanistan.
Between June and July 2011, Pakistan Chitral Scouts and local defence militias suffered deadly cross border raids. In response the Pakistani military reportedly shelled some Afghan villages in Afghanistan's Nuristan, Kunar, Nangarhar, and Khost provinces resulting in a number of Afghan civilians being killed. Afghan sources claimed that nearly 800 rounds of missiles were fired from Pakistan, hitting civilian targets inside Afghanistan. The reports claimed that attacks by Pakistan resulted in the deaths of 42 Afghan civilians, including children, wounded many others and destroyed 120 homes. Although Pakistan claims it was an accident and just routine anti Taliban operations, some analysts believe that it could have been a show of strength by Islamabad. For example, a senior official at the Council on Foreign Relations explained that because the shelling was of large scale it is more likely to be a warning from Pakistan than an accident.
"I'm speculating, but natural possibilities include a signal to Karzai and to (the United States) that we can't push Pakistan too hard."
The Durand Line ethnic division question has not yet formally reached the United Nations, which could play a major role in settling the disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and other NATO states often ignore this sensitive issue, likely because of potential effects on their war strategy in Afghanistan. Their involvement could strain relations and jeopardise their own national interests in the area. After the Death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and the countless insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, U.S. military leaders said that terrorist safe havens in Pakistan must go. This came after the November 2011 NATO bombing in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed. In response to that incident, Pakistan decided to cut off all NATO supply lines as well as boost border security by installing anti-aircraft guns and radars to monitor air activity. Regarding the Durand Line, some rival maps are said to display discrepancies of as much as five kilometers.
§Further reading"The Durand Line (Special issue)". Internationales Asienforum44 (1-2). 2013. 
§References and notes^ abcSmith, Cynthia (August 2004). "A Selection of Historical Maps of Afghanistan - The Durand Line". United States: Library of Congress. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^"The total length of the boundary which had been delimitated and demarcated between March 1894 and May 1896, amounted to 800 miles." The long stretch from the Kabul River to China, including the Wakhan Corridor, was declared demarcated by virtue of its continuous, distinct watershed ridgeline, leaving only the section near the Khyber Pass, which was finally demarcated in 1921: Brig.-Gen. Sir Percy Sykes, K.C.I.E., C.B., C.M.G., Gold Medalist of the Royal Geographical Society. "A History of Afghanistan Vol. II". MacMillan & Co. Ltd, 1940, London. pp. 182''188; 200''208. Retrieved 2009-12-05. ^ abAn adjustment to the demarcation was made at Arundu in the early 1930s: Hay, Maj. W. R. (October 1933). "Demarcation of the Indo-Afghan Boundary in the Vicinity of Arandu". Geographic Journal. LXXXII (4). ^ abcHasan, Khalid (February 1, 2004). "'Durand Line Treaty has not lapsed'". Pakistan: Daily Times. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^ ab"No Man's Land". United States: Newsweek. February 1, 2004. Retrieved 2011-02-11. Where the imperialists' Great Game once unfolded, tribal allegiances have made for a "soft border" between Afghanistan and Pakistan--and a safe haven for smugglers, militants and terrorists ^Bajoria, Jayshree (March 20, 2009). "The Troubled Afghan-Pakistani Border". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^ ab"Japanese nationals not killed in Pakistan: FO". Pakistan: Dawn News. September 7, 2005. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^Walker, Philip (24 June 2011). "The World's Most Dangerous Borders: Afghanistan and Pakistan". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 12 September 2012. ^ abc"No change in stance on Durand Line: Faizi". Pajhwok Afghan News. October 24, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-11. But Afghanistan has never accepted the legitimacy of this border, arguing that it was intended to demarcate spheres of influence rather than international frontiers. ^ abcGrare, Fr(C)d(C)ric (October 2006). "Carnegie Papers - Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations in the Post-9/11 Era". Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^ abcdefEnd of Imaginary Durrand Line: North Pakistan belongs to Afghanistan by Wahid Momand^ abGovernment & Politics: Overview Of Current Political Situation In Afghanistan"(3) The Durand Line is an unofficial porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1893, the British and the Afghan Amir (Abdur Rahman Khan) agreed to set up the Durand line (named after the foreign Secretary of the Indian government, Sir Mortimer Durand) to divide Afghanistan and what was then British India.^ abDurand Line^ ab"Country Profile: Afghanistan". Library of Congress Country Studies. August 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^"The History of Herodotus, Chapter 7". George Rawlinson. piney.com. 440 BC. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (Firishta). "History of the Mohamedan Power in India". Persian Literature in Translation. Packard Humanities Institute. Retrieved 2007-01-10. ^"Baloch". Encyclop...dia Britannica Online Version. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^"Kingdoms of South Asia '' Afghanistan (Southern Khorasan / Arachosia)". The History Files. Retrieved 2010-08-16. ^Multan city History^BRIG.-GEN. SIR Percy Sykes, K.C.I.E., C.B., C.M.G., GOLD MEDALIST OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. "A HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN VOL. II". MACMILLAN & CO. LTD, 1940, LONDON. pp. 182''188; 200''208. Retrieved 2009-12-05. ^ abcdPrescott, J. R. V.. Map of Mainland Asia by Treaty. Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 1975. pp. 182''208. ISBN 0-522-84083-3. ^Muhammad Qaiser Janjua. "In the Shadow of the Durand Line; Security, Stability, and the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan". Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, California, US, 2009. pp. 22''27; 45. Retrieved 2009-12-14. ^"The Road to Kabul: British armies in Afghanistan, 1839-1919". National Army Museum. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^"Afghanistan 1919-1928: Sources in the India Office Records". British Library. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 1919 (May), outbreak of Third Anglo-Afghan War. British bomb Kabul and Jalalabad; ^Jeffery J. Roberts, The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2003), page 121.^Over 90% of present African nations signed both the Organization of African Unity (OAU) charter and the 1964 Cairo Declaration, both of which "proclaimed the acceptance of colonial borders as the borders between independent states...through the legal principle of uti possidetis." Hensel, Paul R. "Territorial Integrity Treaties and Armed Conflict over Territory". Department of Political Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, US. Retrieved 2009-12-05. ^Hensel, Paul R.; Michael E. Allison and Ahmed Khanani (2006) "Territorial Integrity Treaties, Uti Possidetis, and Armed Conflict over Territory." Presented at the Shambaugh Conference "Building Synergies: Institutions and Cooperation in World Politics," University of Iowa, 13 October 2006.^"The Durand Line: History and Problems of the Afghan-Pakistan Border" Bijan Omrani, published in Asian Affairs, vol. 40, Issue 2, 2009, p.177-195.^"Rethinking the Durand Line: The Legality of the Afghan-Pakistani Frontier", Bijan Omrani and Frank Ledwidge, RUSI Journal, Oct 2009, Vol. 154, No. 5,^Baxter, Craig (1997). "The Pashtunistan Issue". United States: Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^Durand Line, 1956, page 12.^Durand Line, 1956, page 13^President Ronald Reagan Meeting Mujahideen and CIA in Pakistan (images)^"Pakistan Knocking at the Nuclear Door". Time. March 30, 1987. Retrieved May 24, 2010. ^Kaplan, Robert D. (August 23, 1989). "How Zia's Death Helped the U.S". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010. ^Pear, Robert (June 25, 1989). "F.B.I. Allowed to Investigate Crash That Killed Zia". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010. ^"Interview with Peter Tomsen,". PBSFrontline. Retrieved 2011-02-11. President George H. W. Bush's special envoy and ambassador to the Afghan resistance from 1989 to 1992 ^ abThe Unholy Durand Line, Buffering the Buffer by Dr. G. Rauf Roashan. August 11, 2001.^Pakistan's Ethnic Fault Line by Selig S. Harrison, The Washington Post. May 11, 2009.^"Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO)". Retrieved 2009-12-05. ^ abPAN, Durand Line not a legitimate border: Zoori, August 3, 2009.^Daily Times - Durand Line Agreement: 1893 pact had no expiry limit: expert, by Mohammed Rizwan. September 30, 2005.^ abcNewsweek, No Man's Land - Neighbor's Interference^Dawn News, Fazl urges Afghanistan to recognise Durand Line^PAN, Pashtuns on both sides of Pak-Afghan border show opposition to fencing plan, January 3, 2007.^PAN, More protests against fencing, January 10, 2007.^PAN, Fencing plan may defame Pakistan: Fazl, January 10, 2007.^PAN, Peshawar-based lawyers warn to move SC against fencing, January 10, 2007.^PAN, Governors oppose border fencing, January 9, 2007.^PAN, ',m,'Protesters flay border fencing, January 7, 2007.^PAN, Border fencing a conspiracy: Taliban, January 7, 2007.^PAN, Pakistani forces start fencing: Governor, January 7, 2007.^ abRFE/RL Afghanistan Report^ NGA Geonames database^Clash erupts between Afghan, Pakistani forces over border fence - South Asia^Fire Base Shkin / Fire Base Checo. Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.^http://www.newkerala.com/news/fullnews-4285.html^Khan, Kamran. "Pakistan's Tribal Areas". PBS Frontline. Retrieved 2011-02-11. ^Amber Robinson (9 June 2009). "Soldiers disrupt timber smuggling in Afghan province". Retrieved 14 February 2013. ^Abdul Sami Paracha (28 June 2002). "Timber smuggling from Afghanistan on the rise". Dawn. Retrieved 14 February 2013. ^"Six Pakistanis held in Afghanistan on timber smuggling charge". Dawn. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 14 February 2013. ^"Pakistan suggests curbs to end smuggling from Afghanistan". 30 November 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2013. ^The News.pk, 36 soldiers die in cross-border Chitral attack, August 28, 2011.^The Frontier Post,Pakistan,Peshawar. Thefrontierpost.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.^Open Congress - S.496 - Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009^Biometric system installed in Spin Boldak. June 9, 2011.^"Pakistan fires missiles into Khost, say border police". Pajhwok Afghan News. 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2011-07-06. Nearly a dozen missiles were fired from Pakistan into Afghanistan's southeastern Khost province over the past 24 hours, border police said on Friday. ^"Afghanistan won't fire back on Pakistan: Karzai". Reuters. 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2011-07-06. ^ abNichols, Michelle (July 7, 2011). "Afghanistan, Pakistan to coordinate amid cross-border confusion". United States: Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-09. ^Tolo News, Terrorist Safe Havens in Pakistan Must Go, Joint Chiefs Head Says . 10 December 2011^Pakistan boosts border security after airstrike^Boone, Jon (November 27, 2011). "Nato air attack on Pakistani troops was self-defence, says senior western official". The Observer. Retrieved November 27, 2011. §External linksThe Durand Line Agreement (1893): '-- Its Pros and Cons"The Durand Line: History and Problems of the Afghan-Pakistan Border" Bijan Omrani, published in Asian Affairs, vol. 40, Issue 2, 2009."Rethinking the Durand Line: The Legality of the Afghan-Pakistan Border", Published in the RUSI Journal, Oct 2009, Vol. 154, No. 5Khyber.org - Text of the Durand Line Agreement, November 12, 1893No Man's Land - Where the imperialists' Great Game once unfolded, tribal allegiances have made for a "soft border" between Afghanistan and Pakistan--and a safe haven for smugglers, militants and terrorists.Fly-over of part of the Durand LineThe Durand LineCulture, Politics Hinder U.S. Effort to Bolster Pakistani BorderWashington Post March 30, 2008Border Complicates War in AfghanistanWashington Post April 4, 2008Facts on the Durand Line
IRIN Asia | AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN: Focus on bilateral border dispute | Afghanistan | Pakistan | Conflict
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:02
Islamabad , 30 October 2003 (IRIN) - Senior Pakistani, Afghan and US diplomats and military officials jointly visited the Pakistan-Afghanistan border last Saturday to ascertain where the boundary should lie, according to a US army statement issued from the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan on Wednesday.Mandated by a six-month-old tripartite commission tasked with resolving problems on the controversial border, the officials visited four border posts on the Afghan side in Nangarhar Province, having earlier visited the area in July to confirm locations, confirmed by satellite pictures, for three Pakistani posts, the statement said.
But the task of the tripartite commission formed by the US to resolve border disputes between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two key allies in the US-led war on terrorism, seemed to have become a "mapping exercise", according to one analyst.
"The commission seems to be arguing about local, technical disputes. What I've heard from sources seems to suggest that it's become a bit of a mapping exercise, more than anything else," Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author of the best-selling book, Taliban, told IRIN from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.
Formed in June to resolve security issues between its member states, the commission has already held meetings in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the issue of a colonial-era border demarcation, already the cause of much public acrimony between the two countries, still, somehow controversially, unresolved.
SECURITY THE TOP PRIORITY
Security was the top priority when the two sides talked about border issues, but, despite remaining concerns, as a member of the tripartite commission, he felt a balanced and positive attitude from the Pakistani side in their last meeting, Helaluddin Helal, the Afghan deputy interior minister, told IRIN in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
"I believe the international community's pressure has made the Pakistani government act responsibly: that is why they have received our factual criticism, or claim, and promised to look at it. This was not the case in the past," he maintained.
"This is an old issue that won't go away so soon. It is a controversy that will take some time before it is resolved. Perhaps, the involvement of the United States will facilitate a solution," the veteran journalist, Rahimullah Yusufzai, told IRIN from his village near Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) town of Mardan.
However, as the executive editor of the Peshawar bureau of The News, an English broadsheet, Yusufzai said he did not think that a proper solution could be worked out until Afghanistan elected its first post-conflict government in June 2004. "Until a proper government is elected next year, this commission can prepare maps, exchange views and prepare the ground for the new government," he noted, pointing to the fact that the Hamid Karzai-led, US-backed government was still only an "interim administration".
THE DURAND LINE
The issue at stake is a border delineation agreed to in 1893 between Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary in British India, and the king of Afghanistan. The Afghan government says the agreement, separating British India from Afghanistan along what is known as the Durand Line, was valid only for 100 years and expired in 1993. The Pakistani government consistently maintains that there is no dispute and that the Pakistan-Afghanistan border stands as it always has, without doubt.
"These two countries are existing side by side since 1947. There is no Durand Line - it is finished. As far as we're concerned, it is a story of the past. There is just the Pakistan-Afghanistan border," Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan, the Pakistani presidential spokesman, told IRIN in the capital, Islamabad.
Last week, after Pakistan announced it had begun fencing its border with Afghanistan, Sultan told a private television channel that the move had been considered necessary to block the infiltration of Islamic militants into Afghanistan. "It shall also clearly mark the border," he stated, but declined to reveal how long the fence was going to be.
The Durand Line is said not to have been in doubt when Pakistan was established in 1947. However, in later years, the legitimacy of Pakistan's 2,250-km border with Afghanistan came to be questioned periodically by successive Afghan governments, with Pakhtun tribes, which straddle both sides of the border, also chipping in with their demand for a provision allowing easier access to each other.
It was usual for countries sharing borders to have some disputes or misunderstandings, Abdul Hamid Mubarez, the Afghan deputy information and culture minister, told IRIN in the capital, Kabul. "But we live in the contemporary world and this is not a time of land occupations or intrusions; in fact, it is a time of coexistence, reconciliation and negotiation," Mubarez, a famous journalist active for 50 years, added, saying he believed the dispute could be solved through talks.
"Border problems erupt mainly when the people on both sides of a border are from the same tribes and they sometimes end up with tension and disputes among them," he said, pointing out that both Pakistan's and Afghanistan's closely linked economic interests should serve to facilitate the resolution of political issues through "comprehension and understanding".
"Actually, this controversy has existed for over 100 years. The people in the tribal areas were opposed to the Durand Line, because kin were separated from each other, most families were divided by it," Haji Adeel, a former Speaker of the NWFP provincial assembly, told IRIN from the province's capital, Peshawar. "The Pakhtuns want to be together, they want that there should be no geographical division among them."
"[The Durand Line] was not a natural border of Afghanistan, but an imposed border by Britain to protect its boundaries from Russia. History proves that the land beyond the Durand Line was a part of Afghanistan, but we are not raising - and have never raised - land claims," Mubarez stressed.
"We have always been asking that the destiny of the Pashtuns and the Baluchis on the other side of the border should be specified, and, if today, Pashtuns and Baluchis themselves want to live on the other side, we have no objection," he maintained.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition forces hunting for remnants of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network in Afghanistan said the tripartite commission's meetings had made useful achievements. "One of the achievements is good communication that did not exist in the past," Col Davis Rodney told IRIN in Kabul.
Better communication helped in facilitating operations being conducted along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, he said. "We are being assisted by Pakistan in the east; that is certainly a positive development," Rodney stressed.
Thousands of Pakistani troops have been deployed in the rugged, mountainous hinterlands of the NWFP and the southwestern province of Balochistan, both of which border Afghanistan, to hunt for escaped Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders thought to have taken refuge in Pakistan's semi-autonomous Tribal Areas. The presence of the troops is also considered essential to efforts to thwart the suspected movement of militants across border terrain that is difficult to police, Pakistani authorities have said.
The tribal agencies of North Waziristan and South Waziristan, both of which lie just across the border from the three "flashpoint" Afghan provinces of Paktia, Paktika and Khowst, have been cited as likely sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives for over two years, Yousufzai wrote in an analysis for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in early October.
"Their Pashtun population is largely sympathetic to the mainly Pashtun Taliban," he wrote, pointing out that the three adjacent Afghan provinces, mainly inhabited by Pashtun tribes, were the most dangerous for coalition soldiers, with missile attacks on coalition bases and convoy ambushes almost a matter of daily routine.
"The only problem we have is the concern of cross-border terrorism by the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies, who are trained and given money in Pakistan," Asadullah Wafa, the governor of Afghanistan's Paktia Province, told IRIN.
With over 10 million Pashtun citizens of its own, Pakistan sought to offset Afghan territorial claims and rejections of the Durand Line as an international border by supporting Afghan Islamic parties, beginning in the early 1970s, an International Crisis Group (ICG) report said in August.
Many Afghans believed that Pakistan had exacerbated the ethnic component of the bilateral conflict by pursuing a lopsided policy of supporting Pashtun Islamic rule, the ICG report added, referring to Islamabad's perceived need for a stable western border, the acquisition of strategic depth against India and the prospect of using Afghanistan as a gateway to Central Asian markets sharpening its resolve to support the Taliban despite heavy political, diplomatic and economic costs.
"Pakistan cannot be connected to rich Central Asia without a friendly Afghanistan, and Afghanistan cannot send Central Asian products outside without having good relations with Pakistan," Mubarez said, noting that this was a critical issue for both countries. "We have no alternative but to seek solutions through discussions. We cannot be separated from each other. If there is a united Europe today, we should also work in the region to get closer," he added.
Moreover, the hunt for resurgent Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants provided a specific reason for Pakistani military presence on the border, Mubarez said. "We also want to get rid of [the Taliban]. So, in short, I should say that a special and complicated situation exists which requires patience and tolerance," he added.
However, the presence of over 60,000 troops in the lawless Tribal Areas has not been without negative incidents.
Soon after Pakistan decided to send military forces into the Mohmand Agency in search of Al-Qaeda members in late June - prompting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to boast during a tour of the US, UK, Germany and France that this was the first time in over a century that such a force had entered that area - the Afghan government accused Pakistan of "intruding into Afghan territory" and setting up border posts inside Afghanistan.
One claim said Pakistani forces had moved as much as 40 km into Afghan territory, a charge that incited a large and incensed mob to attack the Pakistani embassy in Kabul in early July. Soon thereafter, sporadic firing by Afghan and Pakistani forces from their border outposts at each other increased in volume, and authorities on both sides moved swiftly to contain the damage before it snowballed into full-blown conflict.
"The recurring exchange of fire between Pakistani and Afghan troops along their common border comes as a powerful wake-up call, marking a considerable deterioration in the already half-frosty ties between the two countries," Farhan Bokhari, a leading Pakistani analyst, wrote in the popular Gulf News, soon after the first border skirmish in July.
Karzai apologised for the incident and offered compensation for the damage suffered by the mission, but reiterated his claim that Pakistani forces had intruded "about 600 metres into Afghan territory", backing down from Kabul's earlier assertion of forces having penetrated 40 km into Afghanistan, the Dawn daily, a leading English broadsheet, reported at the end of July.
Soon afterwards, the newspaper quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying Pakistani forces had not crossed the border. "In fact, we are minus one kilometre from the zero line," it quoted the official as saying.
"The initial claim was an alleged intrusion by Pakistani troops 500 to 600m into Afghanistan," Sultan said, adding that the tripartite commission was set up when the issue was raised, and following Pakistan's vehement denial.
"As far as we're concerned, nowhere and never have Pakistani troops intruded into Afghan territory," he asserted, adding that the commission had then set up a sub-committee which visited both sides of the border to ascertain for itself the state of affairs and then presented its findings at a recent meeting in Rawalpindi. The commission was scheduled to meet again in mid-November, in Kabul, he added.
"The committee is using all the instruments available, through satellites and on the ground, to establish the correct state of affairs," Sultan stated, referring to a satellite-based Global Positioning System introduced in late July to work out coordinates and match these to maps to resolve the problem.
Then, at a detailed briefing at the Pakistan army's corps headquarters in Peshawar, attended by Afghan representatives, US military officials and senior Pakistani civil servants, "the Afghans brought Russian maps of the [Pakistani-Afghan] border, the Americans had their own maps and we gave them ours," Dawn quoted one Pakistani senior official as saying.
"I think that's partly the reason the problem exists," Yusufzai said, referring to the British maps used by Pakistan and the Russian maps produced by Afghanistan. "They both have different delineations, so, obviously, there's going to be a difference of opinion," he noted.
Then, after a tripartite commission meeting held in Bagram in mid-August, the Afghan government requested US mediation in ensuring that a re-demarcation of the Durand Line was done - a request quickly shot down by Pakistan, which termed it "unacceptable" in a communiqu(C) to the Kabul administration, another leading Pakistani English broadsheet, The Nation, reported.
"[Pakistan] had conveyed to Kabul that the present Afghan government was interim and, as such, had no authority to touch such a significant matter," the newspaper said, adding that the Afghan government wanted the mandate of the commission to be expanded to empower it to make decisions.
Ahmed Rashid agreed, pointing out that while the Commission is "certainly a high-powered crew, what is needed is a bigger mandate". "It should be one that has some political powers," he said, warning that, otherwise, the "sensitive issue" would just linger on.
"The Afghans don't see the issue as we do, and Pakistan can't take its position unilaterally. If it does, it would be ignoring the feelings of the Afghans," he said.
"That is the real problem: there is a lack of trust," agreed Yusufzai.
"The real question is: why didn't the Pakistan government get a pliant government - that's the Taliban - to do something about it when they were in power?" Rashid asked, adding that it was important to put into perspective the fact that there was a big power-play going on in Kabul. "The hardliners want him [Karzai] to take a tougher line and therefore, every time this issue crops up, they stand to see Karzai get embarrassed. They want to embarrass him politically into taking a stand he might not do otherwise," he said.
The FAA Says You Can't Post Drone Videos on YouTube | Motherboard
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 09:45
If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year.
The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes's flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency. It said that if he did not stop flying ''commercially,'' he could be subject to fines or sanctions.
"This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence," the letter reads. "After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid."
The hobby use of drones and other model aircraft has never been regulated by the FAA, but the agency has been adamant about making a distinction between hobby and commercial use, which has led to much confusion over the last couple years.
Where, exactly, does commercial use begin and hobby use end, for instance? If you fly for fun, but happen to sell your footage later, were you flying for a "commercial purpose?" What if you give it to a news organization that runs it on a television station that has ads on it? What if you upload it to YouTube and Google happens to put an ad on it? What if you decide to put an ad on it?
The letter makes clear that at least some in the FAA (this one was sent by Michael Singleton, an aviation safety inspector in the FAA's Tampa office) take a very wide view of what is "commercial."
"With this letter the FAA is claiming that drone-obtained art created by a hobbyist becomes retroactively 'commercial' if it is ever sold, or if, as here, it is displayed on a website that offers monetization in the form of advertising," Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney specializing in drone issues told me. "Selling art is unquestionably one's right, and the government is forbidden from infringing upon that right."
Hanes told me that his videos are technically "monetized" on YouTube but that he has never received a payment from Google and the revenue he's technically earned from Google's ads is less than a dollar.
"I've been flying only for fun, as a hobby," he told me.
FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told me he is looking into specifics of the case, but said that, often, competitors will alert local enforcement offices about drone use. The question then, is can someone really have a "competitor" if they're not flying commercially?
"In general, whenever we receive a complaint about an unauthorized UAS operation, we contact the operator and educate them about the regulations so they can comply," Dorr said. "It's not uncommon for a competitor who is not flying a UAS to alert us to such operations. I don't know if that was the case here."
Hanes's case is without precedent. The FAA 'has sent many cease-and-desist letters to commercial drone operators, but those letters have mainly been in response to registered businesses that advertise drone-for-hire services on their websites. To my knowledge, the agency hasn't sent letters like this to hobbyists. Hanes's website redirects to his YouTube page, and he offers no traditional commercial services.
The FAA has said it 'has the ability to fine or otherwise enforce certain restrictions on drones (which have not yet been tested in court). In the past, those fines 'have been as much as $10,000. Those restrictions are supposed to stop pilots from flying over people and from flying above 500 feet. Some of Hanes's videos show him flying in ways that could potentially run afoul of those restrictions.
Dorr, who was not involved in sending the letter to Hanes, reviewed some of his videos in response to my inquiry. He says it's possible the letter was sent because of those potential safety violations. It's worth mentioning that the FAA's drone enforcement strategy is a bit of a mess. Regional safety offices decide initial enforcement, often without contacting FAA headquarters or 'considering things such as the First Amendment.
"It would behoove the FAA Office of Chief Counsel to make it abundantly clear to all aviation safety inspectors that the First Amendment is alive and well," Sachs said.
The fact that Hanes received a letter or was contacted by the FAA, then, isn't nuts. The FAA is well within its rights to at least tell a drone operator to not fly dangerously.
But why, then, is the FAA hiding behind the sham argument that he's flying "commercially"? And, if the agency decides that putting videos on YouTube is a business use of a drone, what does it mean for the thousands of other people who post drone videos online?
Update: The FAA says it's now looking further into how its safety inspectors send letters like this.
"The FAA's goal is to promote voluntary compliance by educating individual UAS operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws," the agency said. "The FAA's guidance calls for inspectors to notify someone with a letter and then follow up. The guidance does not include language about advertising. The FAA will look into the matter."
George Friedman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:47
George Friedman (born 1949 in Budapest, Hungary) is an Americanpolitical scientist and author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer, financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation STRATFOR. He has authored several books, including The Next 100 Years, The Next Decade, America's Secret War, The Intelligence Edge, The Coming War With Japan and The Future of War.
BiographyFriedman's childhood was shaped directly by international conflict. He was born in Hungary to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust. His family fled Hungary when he was a child to escape the Communist regime, settling first in a camp for displaced persons in Austria and then immigrating to the United States, where he attended public schools in New York City, and was an early designer of computerized war games. Friedman describes his family's story as ''a very classic story of refugees making a new life in America." He received a B.A. at the City College of New York, where he majored in political science, and a Ph.D. in government at Cornell University.
Prior to joining the private sector, Friedman spent almost twenty years in academia, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During this time, he also regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services as well as the Office of Net Assessments, SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, National Defense University and the RAND Corporation, on security and national defense matters.
Friedman pursued political philosophy with his early work focusing on Marxism, as well as international conflict, including examination of the U.S.-Soviet relationship from a military perspective. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Friedman studied potential for a U.S.-Japan conflict and co-authored The Coming War with Japan in 1991. He is also the author or co-author of books examining topics as diverse as the Frankfurt School and warfare, including The Future of War, The Next Hundred Years, The Intelligence Edge, and America's Secret War.
In 1996, he founded STRATFOR, a private intelligence and forecasting company, and has served as the company's CEO and Chief Intelligence Officer. Stratfor's head office is in Austin, Texas.
Personal lifeFriedman is married to Meredith Friedman (n(C)e LeBard), has four children, and lives in Austin, Texas. She has been Vicepresident of Stratfor for international relations and communication. She also coauthored several publications, e.g. "The Coming War with Japan".
The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School (1981). Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-1279-X.The Coming War With Japan, with Meredith LeBard (1991). St Martins Press. Reprint edition, 1992, ISBN 0-312-07677-0.The Future of War: Power, Technology and American World Dominance in the Twenty-First Century, with Meredith Friedman (1996). Crown Publishers, 1st edition, ISBN 0-517-70403-X. St. Martin's Griffin, 1998, ISBN 0-312-18100-0.The Intelligence Edge: How to Profit in the Information Age with Meredith Friedman, Colin Chapman and John Baker (1997). Crown, 1st edition, ISBN 0-609-60075-3.America's Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between the United States and Its Enemies (2004). Doubleday, 1st edition, ISBN 0-385-51245-7. Broadway, reprint edition (2005). ISBN 0-7679-1785-5.The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (2009). Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-51705-X.The Next Decade: What the World Will Look Like (2011). ISBN 0-385-53294-6.Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe (2015). Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-53633-X.See alsoReferences^"George Friedman Biography". Literary Festivals. Retrieved 12 July 2012. ^ ab"The U.S. Stays on Top", Smithsonian, July 2010 ^"George Friedman Biography". Literary Festivals. Retrieved 12 July 2012. ^Details' about Meredith Friedman und Stratfor, based on former informations about executives on Stratfor's homepage which meanwhile has been deleted.^Booknotes interview with Friedman and Meredith LeBard on The Coming War With Japan, June 9, 1991..External linksPersondataNameFriedman, GeorgeAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican businessman and political scientistDate of birth1949Place of birthBudapestDate of deathPlace of death
Cordon sanitaire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:53
Cordon sanitaire (French pronunciation: '[kÉ--ÊdÉ--Ì sanitÉÊ]) is a French phrase that, literally translated, means "sanitary cordon". It originally denoted a barrier implemented to stop the spread of disease, such as the Black Death. The term has also often been used in English in a metaphorical sense to refer to attempts to prevent the spread of an ideology deemed unwanted or dangerous, such as the containment policy adopted by George F. Kennan against the Soviet Union.
§For diseaseA cordon sanitaire is generally created around an area experiencing an epidemic of disease. Once the cordon is established, people from the infected area are no longer allowed to leave. In the most extreme form, the cordon is not lifted until the infection is extinguished, forcing everyone inside to either die or survive. The tactic was used during the Black Death, for instance during the Great Northern War plague outbreak. The first actual use of the term cordon sanitaire was in 1821, when French troops were deployed to the border between France and Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains in order to prevent a deadly fever from spreading from Spain into France.
Since the twentieth century, the tactic has been rarely used: prior to 2014, the last time it was used was in 1918, when the Polish-Russian border was closed to stop the spread of typhus. A cordon sanitaire was more likely to be used as a plot device in fiction, such as in Albert Camus' The Plague. However, in August 2014, a cordon sanitaire was established around some of the most affected areas of the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak.
§In diplomacyThe seminal use of "cordon sanitaire" as a metaphor for ideological containment referred to "the system of alliances instituted by France in post-World War I Europe that stretched from Finland to the Balkans" and which "completely ringed Germany and sealed off Russia from Western Europe, thereby isolating the two politically 'diseased' nations of Europe."
French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau is credited with coining the usage, when in March 1919 he urged the newly independent border states (also called limitrophe states) that had seceded from Russian Empire and Soviet Russia to form a defensive union and thus quarantine the spread of communism to Western Europe; he called such an alliance a cordon sanitaire. This is still probably the most famous use of the phrase, though it is sometimes used more generally to describe a set of buffer states that form a barrier against a larger, ideologically hostile state.
§In politicsBeginning in the late 1980s, the term was introduced into the discourse on parliamentary politics by Belgian commentators. At that time, the far-rightFlemish nationalistVlaams Blok party began to make significant electoral gains. Because the Vlaams Blok was a racist group, the other Belgian political parties committed to exclude the party from any coalition government, even if that forced the formation of grand coalition governments between ideological rivals. Commentators dubbed this agreement Belgium's cordon sanitaire. In 2004, its successor party, Vlaams Belang changed its party platform to allow it to comply with the law. While no formal new agreement has been signed against it, it nevertheless remains uncertain whether any mainstream Belgian party will enter into coalition talks with Vlaams Belang in the near future. Several members of various Flemish parties have questioned the viability of the cordon sanitaire. Critics of the cordon sanitaire claim that it is also undemocratic.
With the electoral success of nationalist and extremist parties on the left and right in recent European history, the term has been transferred to agreements similar to the one struck in Belgium:
In Belgium, the far-right party Vlaams Blok was excluded by cordon sanitaire in 1989, although it gained 17.17% of public votes.After German reunification, East Germany's former ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or SED), reinvented itself first (in 1990) as the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and then (in 2005 before the elections) as the Left Party, in order to merge with the new group WASG that had emerged in the West. In the years following 1990, the other German political parties have consistently refused to consider forming a coalition with the PDS/Left Party on a federal level (which was possible in 2005), while on state levels, so-called red-red coalitions with the SPD were formed (or red-red-green). The term cordon sanitaire, though, is quite uncommon in Germany for coalition considerations. A strict political non-cooperation (in which The Left would participate, should the instance ever arise) is only exercised against right-wing parties, such as the Republicans, and even the Republicans have exercised a cordon against the neo-Nazi National Democrats.In the Netherlands, a parliamentary cordon sanitaire was put around the Centre Party (Centrumpartij, CP) and later on the Centre Democrats (Centrumdemocraten, CD), ostracising their leader Hans Janmaat. During the 2010 Cabinet formation, Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) charged other parties of plotting a cordon sanitaire; however, there never was any agreement between the other parties on ignoring the PVV. Indeed, the PVV was floated several times as a potential coalition member by several informateurs throughout the government formation process, and the final minority coalition under Mark Rutte between Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Christian Democratic Appeal was officially "condoned" by the PVV (although it did not hold seats in the cabinet, the PVV agreed not to bring down the government, but did so anyway in 2012).In France, the policy of non-cooperation with Front National, together with the majoritariantwo-round electoral system, leads to the permanent underrepresentation of the FN in the National Assembly. For instance, the FN won no seats out of 577 in the 2002 elections, despite receiving 11.3% of votes in the first round, as no FN candidates won a first-round majority and few even qualified (either by winning at least 12.5% of the local vote with 25% turnout or by being one of the top two finishers with less) to go on to the second round. In the 2002 presidential election, after the Front National canditate Jean-Marie Le Pen unexpectedly defeated Lionel Jospin in the first round, the traditionally ideologically-opposed Socialist Party encouraged its voters to vote for Jacques Chirac in the second round, preferring anyone to Le Pen.In Sweden, the political parties in the Riksdag have adopted a policy of non-cooperation with the Sweden Democrats in the municipalities. However, there have been exceptions where local politicians have supported resolutions from SD.In Norway, all the parliamentary parties had consistently refused to formally join into a governing coalition at state level with the right-wing Progress Party until 2005 when the Conservative Party did so. In some municipalities however, the Progress Party cooperates with many parties, including the center-left Labour Party.In Canada, resistance to the formation of coalition governments among left-of-center parties has often been attributed to an unwillingness to be seen as collaborating with the Bloc Qu(C)b(C)cois, which advocates for the independence of Quebec.^A history of England from the conclusion of the great war in 1815. 1890. ^, 1927^ abcMcNeil, Donald G. "Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas". www.nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2014. ^Donald G. McNeil Jr. (August 13, 2014). "Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. ^Gilchrist, Stanley (1995) [1st. pub. 1982]. "Chapter 10: The Cordon Sanitaire - Is It Useful? Is It Practical?". In Moore, John Norton; Turner, Robert F. Readings on International Law from the Naval War College Review, 1978-199468. Naval War College. pp. 131''145. ^^"- Nulltoleranse mot Frp-samarbeid", Arbeiderpartiet[dead link]^"Guardian: Cameron: vote for anyone but BNP". The Guardian (London). 18 April 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2010. ^BBC News (3 November 2008). "UKIP rejects BNP electoral offer". Retrieved 19 November 2011. ^Traynor, Ian (9 July 2009). "UK diplomats shun BNP officials in Europe". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 October 2009.
Intermarium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:11
MiÄdzymorze (Polish pronunciation: [mjÉndÍzÉ¨ËmÉ--ÊÉ]), known in English as Intermarium, was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader J"zef PiÅsudski, for a federation, under Poland's aegis, of Central and Eastern European countries. Invited to join the proposed federation were the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia),Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
The Polish name MiÄdzymorze, which means "Intersea" or "Between-seas," was rendered into Latin as "Intermarium." 
The proposed federation was meant to emulate the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, that, from the end of the 16th century to the end of the 18th, had united the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Intermarium complemented PiÅsudski's other geopolitical vision'--Prometheism, whose goal was the dismemberment of the Russian Empire and that Empire's divestment of its territorial conquests.
Intermarium was, however, perceived by some Lithuanians as a threat to their newly established independence, and by some Ukrainians as a threat to their aspirations for independence, and was opposed by Russia and by most Western powers, except France.
Within two decades of the failure of PiÅsudski's grand scheme, all the countries that he had viewed as candidates for membership in the Intermarium federation had fallen to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, except for Finland (which nonetheless suffered some territorial losses in the Winter War).
§CommonwealthA Polish-Lithuanian union and military alliance had come about as a mutual response to a common threat posed by the Teutonic Order. The alliance was first established in 1385 by the wedding of Poland's Queen Jadwiga and Lithuania's Gediminid dynasty in the person of Grand Duke Jogaila, who became King WÅadysÅaw II JagieÅÅo of Poland.
A longer-lasting federation was subsequently established via the creation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, an arrangement that lasted until the late-18th-century Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Under the Commonwealth, proposals were advanced for the establishment of an expanded, Polish-Lithuanian-Muscovite or Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian, Commonwealth. These proposals were never implemented.
§Czartoryski's planBetween the November and January Uprisings, in 1832''61, the idea of resurrecting an updated Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was advocated by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, residing in exile at the H´tel Lambert in Paris.
In his youth Czartoryski had fought against Russia in the Polish-Russian War of 1792 and would have done so again in the KoÅciuszko Uprising of 1794, had he not been arrested at Brussels on his way back to Poland. Subsequently in 1795 he and his younger brother had been commanded to enter the Russian army, and Catherine the Great had been so favorably impressed with them that she had restored to them part of their confiscated estates. Adam Czartoryski had subsequently served Emperors Paul and Alexander I as a diplomat and foreign minister, during the Napoleonic Wars establishing an anti-French coalition. Czartoryski had been one of the leaders of the Polish November 1830 Uprising and, after its suppression by Russia, had been sentenced to death but eventually allowed to go into exile in France.
In Paris the "visionary" statesman and former friend, confidant and de facto foreign minister of Russia's EmperorAlexander I acted as the "uncrowned king and unacknowledged foreign minister" of a nonexistent Poland.
In his book, Essai sur la diplomatie (Essay on Diplomacy), completed in 1827 but published only in 1830, Czartoryski observed that, "Having extended her sway south and west, and being by the nature of things unreachable from the east and north, Russia becomes a source of constant threat to Europe." He argued that she would have done better, cultivating "friends rather than slaves." He also identified a future threat from Prussia and urged the incorporation of East Prussia into a resurrected Poland.
His diplomatic efforts anticipated PiÅsudski's Prometheist project in linking efforts for Polish independence with similar movements of other subjugated nations in Europe and in the east, as far as the Caucasus.
Czartoryski aspired above all to reconstitute'--with French, British and Turkish support'--a Polish''Lithuanian Commonwealth federated with the Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians and all the South Slavs of the future Yugoslavia. Poland, in his concept, could have mediated the conflicts between Hungary and the Slavs, and between Hungary and Romania. The plan seemed achievable during the period of national revolutions in 1848''49 but foundered on lack of western support, on Hungarian intransigence toward the Czechs, Slovaks and Romanians, and on the rise of German nationalism.
"Nevertheless," concludes Dziewanowski, "the Prince's endeavor constitutes a (vital) link (between) the 16th-century Jagiellon (federative prototype) and J"zef PiÅsudski's federative-Prometheist program (that was to follow after World War I]."
§PiÅsudski's "MiÄdzymorze"J"zef PiÅsudski's strategic goal was to resurrect an updated, quasi-democratic, form of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while working for the disintegration of the Russian Empire, and later the Soviet Union, into its ethnic constituents. (The latter was his Prometheist project.) PiÅsudski saw an Intermarium federation as a counterweight to Russian and German imperialism.
According to Dziewanowski, the plan was never expressed in systematic fashion but instead relied on PiÅsudski's pragmatic instincts. According to British scholar George Sanford, about the time of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 PiÅsudski recognized that the plan was not feasible.
§OppositionPiÅsudski's plan faced opposition from virtually all quarters. The Soviets, whose sphere of influence was directly threatened, worked to thwart the Intermarum agenda. The Allied Powers assumed that Bolshevism was only a temporary threat and did not want to see their important (from the balance-of-power viewpoint) traditional ally, Russia, weakened. They resented PiÅsudski's refusal to aid their White allies, viewed PiÅsudski with suspicion, saw his plans as unrealistic, and urged Poland to confine itself to areas of clear-cut Polish ethnicity. The  Lithuanians, who had re-established their independence in 1918, were unwilling to join; the Ukrainians, similarly seeking independence, likewise feared that Poland might again subjugate them; and the Belarusians, who had little national consciousness, were not interested either in independence or in Pilsudski's proposals of union. The chances for PiÅsudski's scheme were not enhanced by a series of post-World War I wars and border conflicts between Poland and its neighbors in disputed territories'--the Polish-Soviet War, the Polish-Lithuanian War, the Polish-Ukrainian War, and border conflicts between Poland and Czechoslovakia.
PiÅsudski's concept was opposed within Poland itself, where National Democracy leader Roman Dmowski argued for an ethnically purer Poland in which minorities would be Polonized. Many Polish politicians, including Dmowski, opposed the idea of a multicultural federation, preferring instead to work for a unitary Polish nation-state.Sanford has described Pilsudski's policies after his resumption of power in 1926 as similarly focusing on the Polonization of the country's Eastern Slavic minorities and on the centralization of power.
While some scholars accept at face value the democratic principles claimed by PiÅsudski for his federative plan, others view such claims with skepticism, pointing out a coup d'(C)tat in 1926 when PiÅsudski assumed nearly dictatorial powers. In particular, his project is viewed unfavorably by most Ukrainian historians, with Oleksandr Derhachov arguing that the federation would have created a greater Poland in which the interests of non-Poles, especially Ukrainians, would have gotten short shrift.
Some historians hold that PiÅsudski, who argued that "There can be no independent Poland without an independent Ukraine," may have been more interested in splitting Ukraine from Russia than in assuring Ukrainians' welfare. He did not hesitate to use military force to expand Poland's borders to Galicia and Volhynia, crushing a Ukrainian attempt at self-determination in disputed territories east of the Bug River which contained a substantial Polish presence (a Polish majority mainly in cities such as Lw"w, surrounded by a rural Ukrainian majority).
Speaking of Poland's future frontiers, PiÅsudski said: "All that we can gain in the west depends on the Entente'--on the extent to which it may wish to squeeze Germany," while in the east "there are doors that open and close, and it depends on who forces them open and how far." In the eastern chaos, the Polish forces set out to expand as far as feasible. On the other hand, Poland had no interest in joining the western intervention in the Russian Civil War or in conquering Russia itself.
§FailureIn the aftermath of the Polish-Soviet War (1919''21), PiÅsudski's concept of a federation of Central and Eastern European countries, based on a Polish-Ukrainian axis, lost any chance of realization.
PiÅsudski next contemplated a federation or alliance with the Baltic and Balkan states. This plan envisioned a Central European union including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece'--thus stretching not only west-east from the Baltic to the Black Sea, but north-south from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. This project also failed: Poland was distrusted by Czechoslovakia and Lithuania; and while it had relatively good relations with the other countries, they had tensions with their neighbors, making it virtually impossible to create in Central Europe a large block of countries that all had good relations with each other. In the end, in place of a large federation, only a Polish-Romanian alliance was established, beginning in 1921. Compare the history of the Little Entente (1920-1938).
PiÅsudski died in 1935. A later version of his concept was attempted by interwar Polish Foreign Minister J"zef Beck, a PiÅsudski prot(C)g(C), whose proposal during the late 1930s of a "Third Europe"'--an alliance of Poland, Romania and Hungary'--also gained little ground before World War II supervened.
Despite the Polish-Soviet Non-Aggression Act of 1932 the Kremlin joined in alliance with the Nazi Party to divide central and eastern Europe into two parts for each power to control. The failure to create a strong counterweight to Germany and the Soviet Union, such as PiÅsudski's MiÄdzymorze, according to some historians, doomed the prospective member-countries to their eventual fate as victims of World War II.
§World War II and sinceThe concept of a "Central European Union"'--a triangular geopolitical entity anchored in the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic or Aegean Seas'--was revived during World War II in WÅadysÅaw Sikorski's Polish Government in Exile. A first step toward its implementation'--1942 discussions between the Greek, Yugoslav, Polish and Czechoslovak governments in exile regarding prospective Greek-Yugoslav and Polish-Czechoslovak federations'--ultimately foundered on Soviet opposition, which led to Czech hesitation and Allied indifference or hostility. A declaration of the Polish Underground State from that period called for the creation of a Central European federal union, without domination by any single state.
Other forms of the concept have survived into the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including regional-security proposals that were not framed as being Polish-led. Poland's neighbors, however, continued to perceive the idea as imperialist.
After the Warsaw Pact collapsed, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, paving the way for other post-Communist nations to also join; and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, in 2004. Ukraine had also expressed interest in joining under the Viktor Yushchenko administration, while the Yanukovych government of Ukraine had no such desire.
In 2004 Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic states joined the European Union; in 2007, Romania and Bulgaria; and in 2013, Croatia.
On 12 May 2011 the Visegrad Group countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) announced the formation of a battlegroup under the command of Poland. The battlegroup would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of the NATO command. In addition, starting in 2013, the four countries would begin military exercises together under the auspices of the NATO Response Force. Some scholars see this as a first step toward close cooperation in the Central Europe region.
In view of the Ukrainian Crisis Stratfor has been discussing an alliance system remembering the Intermarium. Given the re-emergence of Russian power, the idea of the Intermarium '-- supported by the United States, and focused on Russia '-- would become inevitable. Statements of Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, on pre-positioning essentially announced a new Intermarium, or its small beginning. The area in which the equipment to counter threats from Russia would be pre-positioned stretches from the Baltic states through Poland and then skips to Romania and Bulgaria on the Black Sea. It should signal to the Russians that whatever happens in Ukraine, the next line of countries is the line that triggers the alliance. 
Janusz Cisek, Kilka uwag o myÅli federacyjnej J"zefa PiÅsudskiego, MiÄdzymorze '' Polska i kraje Europy Årodkowo-wschodniej XIX-XX wiek (Some Remarks on J"zef PiÅsudski's Federationist Thought, MiÄdzymorze '-- Poland and the East-Central European Countries in the 19th''20th Centuries), Warsaw, 1995.Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (Transaction Publishers) New Brunswick, NJ. 2012.Marian Kamil Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy" ("A Polish Pioneer of a United Europe"), Gwiazda Polarna (Pole Star), vol. 96, no 19 (September 17, 2005), pp. 10''11.M.K. Dziewanowski, Czartoryski and His Essai sur la diplomatie, 1971, ASIN: B0072XRK6.M.K. Dziewanowski, Joseph Pilsudski: a European Federalist, 1918''1922, Stanford, Hoover Institution, 1979.Peter Jordan, Central Union of Europe, introduction by Ernest Minor Patterson, Ph.D., President, The American Academy of Political and Social Science, New York, Robert M. McBride & Company, 1944.Jonathan Levy, The Intermarium: Madison, Wilson, and East Central European Federalism, ISBN 1-58112-369-8, 2006 SÅawomir Åukasiewicz, Trzecia Europa: Polska myÅl federalistyczna w Stanach Zjednoczonych, 1940''1971 (Third Europe: Polish Federalist Thought in the United States, 1940''1971), Warsaw, Institute for National Remembrance (Instytut PamiÄci Narodowej), 2010, ISBN 978-83-7629-137-6.Anna Mazurkiewicz (University of GdaÅsk), review of SÅawomir Åukasiewicz, Trzecia Europa: Polska myÅl federalistyczna w Stanach Zjednoczonych, 1940''1971, in Polish American Studies: A Journal of Polish American History and Culture, Published by the Polish American Historical Association, vol. LXVIII, no. 1 (Spring 2011), ISSN 0032-2806, pp. 77''81.Piotr Okulewicz, Koncepcja "miedzymorza" w myÅli i praktyce politycznej obozu J"zefa PiÅsudskiego w latach 1918''1926 (The Concept of MiÄdzymorze in the Political Thought and Practice of J"zef PiÅsudski's Camp in the Years 1918''1926), PoznaÅ, 2001, ISBN 83-7177-060-X.Antoni Plutynski, We Are 115 Millions, with a foreword by Douglas Reed, London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1944.David J. Smith, Artis Pabriks, Aldis Purs, Thomas Lane, The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Routledge (UK), 2002, ISBN 0-415-28580-1Google Print, p.30 (also available here).^Aviel Roshwald, "Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires: Central Europe, the Middle East and Russia, 1914''1923", Routledge (UK), 2001, ISBN 0-415-17893-2, p. 37^Richard K Debo, Survival and Consolidation: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1918-192, McGill-Queen's Press, 1992, ISBN 0-7735-0828-7, p. 59.^James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0471-9, p. 432^Andrzej Paczkowski, "The Spring Will Be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom", Penn State Press, 2003, ISBN 0-271-02308-2, p. 10^David Parker, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, W. W. Norton & Company, 2001, ISBN 0-393-02025-8, p.194^Mark Hewitson, Matthew D'Auria Europe in Crisis: Intellectuals and the European Idea, 1917-1957 2012 Page 191 "... of the other national movements that had found themselves included in PiÅsudski's project, especially the Lithuanians. ... The somewhat nostalgic image of 'Intermarium', the land of cultural and historical diversity destroyed by the wave of "^Miloslav Rechcgl, Studies in Czechoslovak history Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in America - 1976 Volume 1 - Page 282 "This new policy, which was labeled the Intermarium, or Third Europe Project, called for the establishment of ..."^Fritz Taubert Mythos M¼nchen: 2002 page 351 "... range d(C)tente with Germany and in the chance of creating a Polish-led "Third Europe" or "Intermarium" as illusory."^Tomasz Piesakowski, Akcja niepodlegÅoÅciowa na terenie miÄdzynarodowym, 1945-1990, 1999, p. 149: "... przyjmujÄ
c ÅaciÅskie okreÅlenie 'Intermarium' (MiÄdzymorze). PodkreÅlano, Å¼e 'Intermarium' to nie tylko pojÄcie obszaru geopolitycznego zamieszkanego przez 16 narod"w, ale idea wsp"lnoty wszystkich wolnych narod"w tego obszaru."^"J"zef Pilsudski, Polish revolutionary and statesman, the first chief of state (1918''22) of the newly independent Poland established in November 1918." (J"zef Pilsudski in Encyclopedia Britannica)"Released in November 1918, [PiÅsudski] returned to Warsaw, assumed command of the Polish armies, and proclaimed an independent Polish republic, which he headed." (PiÅsudski, Joseph in Columbia Encyclopedia)^Timothy Snyder, Covert Polish missions across the Soviet Ukrainian border, 1928''1933 (p.55, p.56, p.57, p.58, p.59, in Cofini, Silvia Salvatici (a cura di), Rubbettino, 2005).Timothy Snyder, Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist's Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine, Yale University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10670-X, (p.41, p.42, p.43)^"Pilsudski hoped to build not merely a Polish nation state but a greater federation of peoples under the aegis of Poland which would replace Russia as the great power of Eastern Europe. Lithuania, Belorussia and Ukraine were all to be included. His plan called for a truncated and vastly reduced Russia, a plan which excluded negotiations prior to military victory."Richard K Debo, Survival and Consolidation: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1918''1992, Google Print, p. 59, McGill-Queen's Press, 1992, ISBN 0-7735-0828-7.^ ab"Pilsudski's program for a federation of independent states centered on Poland; in opposing the imperial power of both Russia and Germany it was in many ways a throwback to the romantic Mazzinian nationalism of Young Poland in the early nineteenth century."James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, p. 432, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0471-9^Oleksa Pidlutsky, "Figures of the 20th century. J"zef PiÅsudski: the Chief who Created a State for Himself," Zerkalo Nedeli (the Mirror Weekly), Feb. 3''9, 2001, available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.^ ab"The essence of [J"zef PiÅsudski's "federalist" program] was that after the overthrow of tsardom and the disintegration of the Russian empire, a large, strong and mighty Poland was to be created in Eastern Europe. It would be the reincarnation of the Rzeczpospolita on "federative" principles. It was to include the Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian and Ukrainian lands. The leading role, of course, was to be given to the Polish ethnic, political, economic and cultural element. [...] As such two influential and popular political doctrines with regard to Ukraine'--the "incorporationist" and the "federalist"'--even before the creation of Polish statehood, were based on ignoring the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination and put forward claims to rule over the Ukrainian territories..."Oleksandr Derhachov, editor, Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis, Chapter: "Ukraine in Polish concepts of foreign policy," Kiev, 1996, ISBN 966-543-040-8.^Roman Szporluk, Imperiia ta natsii, Kiev, Dukh i Litera, 2001, ISBN 966-7888-05-3, section II(Ukrainian)^ abBetween Imperial Temptation And Anti-Imperial Function In Eastern European Politics: Poland From The Eighteenth To Twenty-First Century. Andrzej Nowak. Accessed September 14, 2007.^ abAlfonsas Eidintas, Vytautas Zalys, Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918''1940, Palgrave, 1999, ISBN 0-312-22458-3. Google Print, pp. 78''81^Marian Kamil Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy" ("A Polish Pioneer of a United Europe"), Gwiazda Polarna (Pole Star), Sept. 17, 2005, pp. 10''11.^"The Prince [Czartoryski] thus shows himself a visionary (emphasis added], the outstanding Polish statesman of the period between the November and January Uprisings." Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy," p. 11.^Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy," p. 10.^Dziewanowski, Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy, p. 10.^Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy," pp. 10''11.^ abDziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy," p. 11.^"Adam Czartoryski's great plan, which had seemed close to realization (emphasis added) during the Spring of Nations in 1848''49, failed..." Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy," p. 11.^Dziewanowski, "Polski pionier zjednoczonej Europy", p. 11.^ abJonathan Levy (6 June 2007). The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism. Universal-Publishers. pp. 166''167. ISBN 978-1-58112-369-2. Retrieved 11 April 2011. ^ abJanusz Cisek (26 September 2002). KoÅciuszko, we are here!: American pilots of the KoÅciuszko Squadron in defense of Poland, 1919-1921. McFarland. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7864-1240-2. Retrieved 11 April 2011. ^ abJoshua B. Spero (2004). Bridging the European divide: middle power politics and regional security dilemmas. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7425-3553-4. Retrieved 11 April 2011. ^Review of Joseph Pilsudski: A European Federalist, 1918''1922, by M. K. Dziewanowski. Reviewed by Kenneth F. Lewalski in the Journal of Modern History, March 1972. Accessed September 16, 2007.^ abGeorge Sanford, Democratic Government in Poland: Constitutional Politics since 1989. Palgrave Macmillan 2002. ISBN 0-333-77475-2. Google Print, pp. 5''6^Adam Bruno Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, Beacon Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8070-7005-X, Google Print, p.185^ abcdPolish-Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw. Accessed September 30, 2007.^Norman Davies, White Eagle, Red Star, Polish edition, Wydawnictwo Znak, 1997, ISBN 83-7006-761-1, p.228^Piotr Åossowski, Konflikt polsko-litewski 1918''1920, KsiÄ
Å¼ka i Wiedza, 1995, ISBN 83-05-12769-9, p.13''16 and p.36^(Polish)Wojna polsko-bolszewicka. Entry at Internetowa encyklopedia PWN. Last accessed on 27 October 2006.^ ab"Pilsudski dreamed of drawing all the nations situated between Germany and Russia into an enormous federation in which Poland, by virtue of its size, would be the leader, while Dmowski wanted to see a unitary Polish state, in which other Slav peoples would become assimilated."Andrzej Paczkowski, The Spring Will Be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom, p. 10, Penn State Press, 2003, ISBN 0-271-02308-2^Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman, Elisabeth Glaser, The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment After 75 Years, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-521-62132-1, Google Print, p.314^Roman Dmowski has been quoted as saying: "Wherever we can multiply our forces and our civilizational efforts, absorbing other elements, no law can prohibit us from doing so, as such actions are our duty."J. Tomaszewski, Kresy Wschodnie w polskiej mysli politycznej XIX i XX w./MiÄdzy PolskÄ
. Polska myÅl polityczna XIX i XX wieku, vol. 6, Warsaw, 1988, p. 101. Cited through: Oleksandr Derhachov, ibid.^Aviel Roshwald, Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires: Central Europe, the Middle East and Russia, 1914''1923, 2001, Routledge (UK), ISBN 0-415-24229-0, Google Print, p.49^Yohanan Cohen, Small Nations in Times of Crisis and Confrontation, SUNY Press, 1989, ISBN 0-7914-0018-2Google Books, p.65^"The newly founded Polish state cared much more about the expansion of its borders to the east and southeast ('between the seas') than about helping the dying [Ukrainian] state of which Petlura was de facto dictator." "A Belated Idealist," Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror Weekly), May 22''28, 2004. Available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.)PiÅsudski is quoted to have said: "After Polish independence we will see about Poland's size." (ibid)^A month before his death, Pilsudski told an aide: "My life is lost. I failed to create a Ukraine free of the Russians."
Statement by the Press Secretary on Approval of a New IMF Program for Ukraine
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:36
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 11, 2015
We welcome today's approval by the IMF board of a new four-year $17.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Ukraine. The EFF, which is underpinned by an ambitious series of economic reforms, underscores both the commitment of the Ukrainian government and central bank to take the steps needed to lay a foundation for robust growth, and the commitment of the international community to provide financing to help stabilize Ukraine's economy as it implements these reforms. The United States is working alongside international partners to provide Ukraine with the financial support it needs as it continues to take steps that will transform the Ukrainian economy and strengthen its democracy.
March 12, 2015 5:45 PM EDT
Announcing the 5th White House Science Fair!The President is hosting the 5th White House Science Fair on March 23rd, welcoming more than one hundred of the Nation's brightest young minds with some showcasing innovative inventions, discoveries, and science projects. The President will meet with and congratulate these students, who, as budding engineers, scientists, and researchers are on deck to help solve some of the greatest challenges of our time.
March 12, 2015 3:00 PM EDT
The Promise of Wind EnergyWind energy continues to be one of America's best choices for low-cost, zero-pollution renewable energy '' and it is one of our strongest tools to combat climate change.
March 12, 2015 11:57 AM EDT
Protecting Vital Waters as Marine SanctuariesNOAA is expanding two existing sanctuaries off California's North-central coast. The expansion will more than double the current size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, ensuring that we are protecting all that the region has to offer.
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OPERATION CLEANUP-BBC News - Yanukovych ally Peklushenko in new Ukraine mystery death
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 23:30
12 March 2015Last updated at 14:33 ET A former regional governor has been found dead in Ukraine, the latest in a series of deaths involving allies of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.
Oleksandr Peklushenko, former head of Zaporizhzhya, had suffered a gunshot wound to the neck and authorities said initial inquiries pointed to suicide.
A member of Ukraine's Party of the Regions, he was being investigated over the dispersal of protesters last year.
Five other officials also died in mysterious circumstances this year.
All of them supposedly took their own lives in the past six weeks
Stanislav Melnyk, 53, an ex-MP was found shot dead in his bathroom on 9 March Mykhaylo Chechetov, former party deputy chairman, died after apparently jumping from a window in his 17th-floor flat on 28 February; he had been accused of abuse of office and fraud Serhiy Valter, a mayor in the south-eastern city of Melitopol, was found hanged on 25 February; he too had been accused of abuse of office Oleksandr Bordyuh, a former police deputy chief in Melitopol linked to Mr Valter, was found dead at his home on 26 February Oleksiy Kolesnyk, ex-head of Kharkiv's regional government was found hanged on 29 January An interior ministry source told Interfax Ukraine news agency Mr Peklushenko, 60, had committed suicide in the village of Sonyachne, near Zaporizhzhya city.
However officials said other theories were being investigated including murder.
He had been governor of the southern Ukrainian region from 2011 to 2014.
Ukraine's Kanal 5 TV reported that he had been suspected of arranging for demonstrators to be dispersed by pro-government thugs at the height of the protests against Mr Yanukovych's rule in January 2014.
A month later, the president fled to neighbouring Russia, prompting the fall from power of his political party.
Russia then moved to annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine, an area seen as a stronghold of Mr Yanukovych's party.
TASS: World - Ex-governor of Ukraine's Zaporizhia region found dead in his home
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:28
KIEV, March 12 /TASS/. Alexander Peklushenko, the former governor of Ukraine's Zaporizhia region, has been found dead in his home, Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian parliament deputy and an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on Thursday.
"There are grounds to believe that he had been driven to suicide," Gerashchenko said in an interview aired by a Ukrainian television channel.
Peklushenko's body - with a bullet in the neck - was found in the Solnechnyi village on Thursday. Law enforcers are working at the scene.
Peklushenko was a member of the Party of Regions and the head of the party's branch in the Zaporizhia region. He was appointed governor of the Zaporizhia region in 2011. Prior to that he had been a deputy of Ukraine's Verkhovnaya Rada (parliament) of the IV-VI convocations.
Another two members of Ukraine's Party of Regions, Mikhail Chechetov and Stanislav Melnik, were found dead some time ago. A number of high-ranking officials committed suicides in Ukraine from January 26 to February 28. Nikolay Sergiyenko, the former first deputy head of the Ukrzheldoroga railway company who was appointed by Ukraine's former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov shot himself from a hunting rifle; Alexey Kolesnik, the former governor of the Kharkiv region, hanged himself in his home on January 29 without leaving a suicide note. The 57-year-old mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter, hanged himself on February 25 hours before a court hearing on his case. The body of Alexander Bordyuga, the deputy chief of the Melitopol police department, was found in a garage on February 26.
OSCE Official Concerned By Russia's Suspension Of CFE Treaty
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 09:49
The chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Political Affairs and Security for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has raised concerns about Russian military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and its "complete suspension" of work under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).
The chairman, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, said in a statement on March 13 that he was "disappointed in Russia's decision to turn its back on its international obligations" under the CFE treaty.
Wicker rejected Russia's argument that its withdrawal from the treaty was forced by NATO actions.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin's "aggression against Ukraine, including the movement of Russian military hardware and troops, clearly demonstrates" that he intends "to spark an arms race that could threaten security and stability in Europe."
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 09:50
The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe (from the Atlantic to the Urals) and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry. The treaty proposed equal limits for the two "groups of states-parties", the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact.
§BackgroundIn 1972, US president Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev reached a compromise agreement to hold separate political and military negotiations. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) would deal with political issues, and Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) with military issues. The CSCE resulted in 1975 in 35 nations signing the concluding document: the Helsinki Final Act. Negotiations for MBFR were stalled by the USSR in 1979 because of NATO's decision to deploy new intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. In 1986, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev proposed in the context of MBFR negotiations to reduce ground and air forces, and to include conventional and nuclear weapons from the Atlantic to the Urals. This proposal was later that year formalized during a Warsaw Treaty meeting. NATO's North Atlantic Council of foreign ministers issued the Brussels Declaration on Conventional Arms Control, which called for two distinct sets of negotiations: one to build on the Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBM) results of the Stockholm Conference and the other to establish conventional stability in Europe through negotiations on conventional arms control from the Atlantic to the Urals (ATTU). In 1987, the Stockholm Document entered into force and provided for the first time for a negotiated right to conduct on-site inspections of military forces in the field.
Informal talks between the 16 NATO and the 7 Warsaw Treaty nations began in Vienna on February 17, 1987 on a mandate for conventional negotiations in Europe, which would set out treaty negotiating guidelines. Several months later, on June 27, NATO presented a draft mandate during the 23-nation conference in Vienna. The mandate called for elimination of force disparities, capability for surprise attack, and large-scale offensive operations, and the establishment of an effective verification system. Meanwhile, in December the INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union was signed, effectively allowing mutual inspections. During the May''June 1988 Moscow Summit, US President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev emphasized the importance of stability and security in Europe, specifically calling for data exchange, verification of these data, and then reductions. In December Gorbachev announced at the United Nations a unilateral withdrawal of 50,000 troops from Eastern Europe, and demobilization of 500,000 Soviet troops.
§CFE negotiationsIn January 1989, NATO and the Warsaw Treaty members produced the Mandate for the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The mandate set out objectives for the CFE Treaty and established negotiating principles, and formal negotiations began on March 9, 1989 in Vienna. When US President George H.W. Bush and France's President Fran§ois Mitterrand met in May, Bush announced the acceptance of reductions of combat aircraft and helicopters. He also proposed a ceiling of 275,000 personnel stationed in Europe by the US and Soviet Union. Bush's proposal was formally adopted during the 1989 Brussels NATO summit and subsequently presented in Vienna. In November the Berlin Wall fell and in the following months revolutions broke out in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Bush and Gorbachev agreed to speed up arms control and economic negotiations. Bush proposed even steeper reductions, and the Soviet Union negotiated and concluded troop withdrawal agreements with Warsaw Treaty states.
§SignedThe Treaty was signed in Paris on November 19, 1990 by 22 states. These were divided into two groups:
the then-16 NATO members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.the then-six Warsaw Treaty states: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union§RatificationIn 1991 the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty dissolved and Czechoslovakia was in the middle of splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which explains why the treaty was ratified by 30 rather than 22 states:
The then-16 NATO membersThe eight former USSR republics that have territory west of the Urals, and the other six former Warsaw Treaty members. These former USSR republics include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. The six Warsaw Treaty members include: Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania. The former non-USSR Warsaw Treaty members (but Albania) and the three Baltic states became NATO members in 1999 or 2004. In 1994 several former USSR republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). As of 2006 the following countries are CSTO members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Uzbekistan.The treaty entered into force on July 17, 1992. Russia notified other signatories of its intended suspension of the CFE on July 14, 2007.
§AmendmentOn May 31, 1996, the treaty was amended by the so-called flank agreement, which relaxed the restrictions for Russia and Ukraine in the flank region defined in Article V, subparagraph 1(A) of the treaty.
§Troop ceilingsThe CFE Treaty sets equal ceilings for each bloc (NATO and the Warsaw Treaty), from the Atlantic to the Urals, on key armaments essential for conducting surprise attacks and initiating large-scale offensive operations. Collectively, the treaty participants have agreed that neither side may have more than:
20,000 tanks;20,000 artillery pieces;30,000 armoured combat vehicles (ACVs);6,800 combat aircraft; and2,000 attack helicopters.To further limit the readiness of armed forces, the treaty sets equal ceilings on equipment that may be with active units. Other ground equipment must be in designated permanent storage sites. The limits for equipment each side may have in active units are:
16,500 tanks;17,000 artillery pieces; and27,300 armoured combat vehicles (ACVs);The treaty further limits the proportion of armaments that can be held by any one country in Europe to about one-third of the total for all countries in Europe - the "sufficiency" rule. These limits are:
13,300 tanks;13,700 artillery pieces;20,000 armoured combat vehicles (ACVs);5,150 combat aircraft; and1,550 attack helicopters.All sea-based Naval forces are excluded from CFE Treaty accountability.
§Regional arrangementsIn addition to limits on the number of armaments in each category on each side, the treaty includes regional limits to prevent destabilizing force concentrations of ground equipment.
§DestructionTo meet required troop ceilings, equipment had to be destroyed or, if possible, converted to non-military purposes.
§VerificationThe treaty included unprecedented provisions for detailed information exchanges, on-site inspections, challenge inspections, and on-site monitoring of destruction. Treaty parties received an unlimited right to monitor the process of destruction. Satellite surveillance was used to verify placement and progress on destruction of large military equipment like vehicles and tanks.
§Joint Consultative GroupFinally, the Treaty established in Vienna a body composed of all Treaty members, called the Joint Consultative Group (JCG), which deals with questions relating to compliance with the provisions of the Treaty. The group aims to:
Resolve ambiguities and differences in interpretationConsider measures that enhance the Treaty's viability and effectivenessResolve technical questionsLook into disputes that may arise from the Treaty's implementation§ImplementationAfter the treaty entered into force, a 4-month baseline inspection period began. Twenty-five percent of the destruction had to be completed by the end of 1 year, 60% by the end of 2 years, and all destruction required by the treaty completed by the end of 3 years.
The principal accomplishment was the large-scale reduction or destruction of conventional military equipment in the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains (ATTU) region during the first 5 years the Treaty was in effect. By the end of the Treaty's reduction period in 1995, when equipment limits took effect, the 30 States Parties completed and verified by inspection the destruction or conversion of over 52,000 battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. In addition, they have conducted/accepted over 4,000 intrusive on-site inspections of military units/installations, and of specified areas.
NATO mostly fulfilled its obligations by destroying its oldest equipment. Also, NATO members with newer equipment, such as the United States, agreed to transfer some of this equipment to allies with older equipment.
§Compliance problems§NATOThe US plans to create bases in Romania and Bulgaria would, according to Russia, constitute a breach of the treaty. NATO officials dispute this and say that the US bases are not intended as permanent and thus cannot be seen as a breach, but the agreements signed with both Romania and Bulgaria in 2006 specifically allow for permanent bases under direct American control and The Washington Times also obtained the confirmation of a senior US official that the facilities are intended to be permanent.
§Former Soviet republicsA June 1998 Clinton administration report stated that Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan were not in compliance with the CFE treaty. Violations ranged from holdings of treaty-limited equipment (TLE) in excess of CFE ceilings to denial of full access during treaty inspections. The report concluded that the compliance issues were not "militarily significant" and Russia and Ukraine, the former USSR republics with the largest holdings among the Eastern bloc, remained within their treaty limits.
In the run-up to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) November 1999 Istanbul summit, NATO members perceived three treaty compliance problems. First of all, the continuing existence of Russian equipment holdings in the "flank" region (i.e. Russia's North Caucasus Military District) were in excess of agreed treaty limits. Secondly, the Russian military presence in Georgia was beyond the level authorised by the Georgian authorities. Thirdly, the Russian military presence in Moldova lacked the explicit consent of the Moldovan authorities.
During the summit, 30 OSCE members signed the adapted CFE treaty and Russia assumed the obligation to withdraw from the Republic of Moldova, reduce her equipment levels in Georgia and agree with the Georgian authorities on the modalities and duration of the Russian forces stationed on the territory of Georgia, and reduce their forces in the flanks to the agreed levels of the Adapted CFE Treaty. These agreements became known as the "Istanbul Commitments" and are contained in 14 Annexes to the CFE Final Act and within the 1999 Istanbul Summit Declaration.
NATO members refused to ratify the treaty as long as Russia refused to completely withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia soil. While Russia partially withdrew troops and equipment from Georgia and Moldova, it did not do so completely as requested by NATO.
§Follow-up agreements§Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE-1A)CFE-1A negotiations began shortly after the original CFE Treaty was signed in 1990. CFE-1A is unlike the original CFE treaty not a legally binding treaty, but a political commitment that simultaneously came into force with the CFE treaty and served as a follow-up agreement. The commitment was that all signatories of the CFE Treaty have undertaken steps to improve further confidence and security in the ATTU region. CFE-1A commits the 30 members of the treaty to establish manpower limits and, if necessary, to reduce the existing manpower levels within the CFE area of application to reach these limits. The United States is limited under this commitment to have no more than 250,000 troops in the area of application. As an additional source of security assurance, the CFE -1A agreement requires the parties to provide advanced notification of increases made to the force levels. The compliance with the CFE-1A agreement by a member is evaluated during on-site inspections conducted under the CFE Treaty.
§Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE-II)The Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (also known as the adapted CFE treaty) is a revision of the original treaty and was signed during the November 1999 Istanbul summit and took into account the different geopolitical situation of the post-Cold War era by setting national instead of bloc-based limits on conventional armed forces. NATO members refused to ratify the treaty as long as Russia refused to completely withdraw its troops from Moldovan and Georgian soil. While Russia partially withdrew troops and equipment from Georgia and Moldova, it did not do so completely as demanded by NATO. The linkage between the ratification of the adapted treaty and the complete withdrawal has no legal basis, but is rather a political decision made by NATO members.
§Suspension by RussiaAfter Russia was not willing to support the US missile defense plans in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for "moratorium" on the treaty in his April 26, 2007 address. Then he raised most of his points for rewriting the treaty during the Extraordinary Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, held in Vienna on June 11''15 at Russia's initiative. As his requests were not met during this conference, Putin issued a decree intended to suspend the observance of its treaty obligations on July 14, 2007, effective 150 days later, stating that it was the result of "extraordinary circumstances (...) which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures," and notified NATO and its members. The suspension applies to the original CFE treaty, as well as to the follow-up agreements.
§MotivesAn explanatory document from Russia's presidential administration mentions several reasons for its intention to suspend compliance. First of all, Russia considers the linkage between the adapted treaty ratification and the withdrawal of troops from Georgia and Moldova as "illegitimate" and "invented". Russia also considers the troop-withdrawal issue a bilateral Russia''Georgia and Russia''Moldova issue, not a NATO''Russia issue. Secondly, the three Baltic states, which border Russia unlike the rest of NATO (excluding Poland and Norway), are not covered under the original CFE treaty as they were still part of the Soviet Union when the treaty was signed. Also, the Baltic states like all NATO members did not ratify the adapted CFE treaty. Russia's wish for a speedy ratification and accession of the Baltic states to a ratified treaty, hoping to restrict emergency deployments of NATO forces there, was not fulfilled.
Thirdly, Russia emphasized that NATO's 1999 and 2004 enlargements increased the alliance's equipment above the treaty limits. Consequently, Russia demands a "compensatory lowering" of overall NATO numerical ceilings on such equipment. Fourthly, Russia mentioned that the planned basing of U.S. military units in Romania and Bulgaria "negatively affects" those countries' compliance with the CFE Treaty's force ceilings. Fifthly, the document demands a "removal" of the flank (i.e., North Caucasian) ceilings on Russian forces by a "political decision" between NATO and Russia, ostensibly to "compensate" Russia for the alliance's enlargement. Sixthly, Russia wants to re-negotiate and "modernize" the 1999-adapted CFE treaty as soon as it is brought into force. Russia would proceed unilaterally to suspend the treaty's validity unless NATO countries bring it into force by July 1, 2008, or at least comply with its terms on a temporary basis, pending the treaty's re-negotiation.
Most likely, but not mentioned in Russia's explanatory document, the above-mentioned "extraordinary circumstances" are also a referral to the US plans for a missile defense complex in Poland, with a radar component in the Czech Republic. Another likely reason is that NATO members refused to ratify the Adapted CFE Treaty due to the continuing presence of several hundred Russian troops in Moldova'--something they consider to violate the obligations Russia assumed during the 1999 Istanbul summit. However, there is no legal connection between the Adapted CFE treaty and the Russian withdrawal from Georgia and Moldova. The linkage between these two security issues was a decision made by NATO member states to protest against the Second Chechen War and was used as a reason not to ratify the treaty. Russia never accepted this decision'--a decision also made six months after the Istanbul summit. Russia also considered the original CFE treaty to be outdated and strategically flawed as it does not take into account the dissolutions of the Warsaw Treaty or the Soviet Union.
In Russia even Vladimir Ryzhkov, an opposition leader and an independent member of the Duma agrees that Russia was forced to respond. However he also speculated that Putin's suspension by decree is "primarily an election-year message to the country: "Your leader won't budge, no matter who formally becomes next President"."
§ReactionsNATO immediately expressed regret over Russia's decision to suspend the treaty, describing it as "a step in the wrong direction", but hoped to engage Moscow in what was described as constructive talks on this issue. The United States along with several European states such as Germany, Poland and Romania also expressed their disappointment.Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) General Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev expressed support for Putin's decree.
On 25 November 2011 the UK stopped sharing military data with Russia.
§ConsequencesRussia hoped that the suspension would spur ratifications of the adapted treaty by NATO countries. Russia emphasized that the moratorium does not mean that the door is closed to further dialogue. In the event that the mentioned issues should be settled, Russia stated that it would promptly ensure collective observance of the treaty provisions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the consequences of the suspension are the halting of inspections and verifications of its military sites by NATO countries and that it will no longer have the obligation to limit the number of its conventional weapons. In practice, Russia already halted such verification visits in June 2007 after an extraordinary CFE treaty conference held in Vienna turned a deaf ear to Russia's complaints. Consequently, military delegations from Bulgaria and Hungary had been denied entry to Russian military units.
Yuri Zarakhovich speculated in Time that the above-mentioned "immediate measures" will be a build-up of its forces in areas bordering NATO eastern members, in particular Poland and the Baltic states.Time further speculated that other measures could include troop buildups along southern borders in the Caucasus, new pressures on Ukraine to maintain the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea beyond the 2017 withdrawal deadline, and a refusal to leave Moldova.
§Ending of Treaty by Russia"The Russian Federation has taken the decision to halt its participation in meetings of the [consulting group] from March 11, 2015. Therefore, Russia is ending its actions in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, announced in 2007, completely," a statement from the Foreign Ministry said. 
^ abFEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, "Chronology: CFE Treaty Negotiations and Implementation, 1972-1996", n.d.^ abUS DEPARTMENT OF STATE, "Fact Sheet: Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty", June 18, 2002^ abFEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, "Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE)", n.d.^ abcdefghUS DEPARTMENT OF STATE, "CFE treaty and CFE-1A agreement - Conventional Armed Forces in Europe", July 13, 1992^"Final Document of the First Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength". Retrieved 2009-03-06. ^ abcNAVY TREATY IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM, "Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty", n.d.^Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie (2006), The role of Verification in International Relations: 1945-1993, p. 112 ^OSCE, "Joint Consultative Group", n.d.^J. COOPER, "Washington calls 5,500 U.S. troops "hardly any" but 1,200 Russians in PMR must go" in The Tiraspol Times, June 13, 2007^http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/apr/24/20060424-121528-1841r/?page=all^W. BOESE, "CFE Compliance Report Issued; Treaty Adaptation Talks Continue" in Arms Control Today, June/July 1998^ abNATO, "Questions and Answers on CFE", n.d., p. 2^Most of the Russian troops are in the process of withdrawing from Georgia (see Russian Group of Forces of the Transcaucasus), though the current agreements will leave Russian troops in Gudauta in Abkhazia (See: ), and with peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia (See: ) and the Abkhaz/Georgian boundary line (See: IISS Military Balance 2007)^ abcdefghV. SOCOR, "Kremlin Would Re-write Or Kill CFE Treaty" by The Jamestown Foundation, July 18, 2007^BBC NEWS, "Russia suspends arms control pact", July 14, 2007^ abcdY. ZARAKHOVICH, "Why Putin Pulled Out of a Key Treaty" in Time, July 14, 2007^ abA. KRAMER, "Russia Steps Back From Key Arms Treaty" in The New York Times, July 14, 2007^These US plans would not be possible without the 2002 unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by the US as this treaty prevented the establishment of new anti-missile defenses sites. See: BBC NEWS, "Q&A: US missile defence", July 3, 2007. The CFE treaty could thus become (after the ABM treaty) the second major Cold War treaty that was suspended.^ abN. VON OTFRIED, "Das Wort zur Ta" in Der Spiegel, July 15, 2007 (German)^I. MARSCHALL, "Russia changes game by leaving CFE treaty" in The Kuwait Times, July 15, 2007^X, "CFE Treaty '' Time to end the hypocrisy" in Pravda, July 15, 2007^S. LEBIC, "Suspension of CFE Treaty is a 'step in the wrong direction,' NATO says" in The Independent, July 16, 2007^AFP, "US, NATO 'disappointed' at Russian pullout of arms treaty", July 15, 2007^UNI, "Gorbachev backs Putin for suspending CFE Treaty", July 15, 2007^"UK halts military data sharing with Russia."RIA Novosti, 25 November 2011.^X, "Moscow moratorium of CFE Treaty to spur ratification - official", July 2, 2007^L. SHANGLIN, "NATO regrets Russian withdrawal from CFE treaty", July 15, 2007^R. WEITZ, "Extraordinary Conference Fails to Achieve Agreement on CFE Treaty Dispute" in World Politics Review, June 19, 2007^. RT http://rt.com/news/239409-russia-quits-conventional-europe. Retrieved 11 March 2015. §External links
Iran - The Letter
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Iran
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:26
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 11, 2015
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAN
On March 15, 1995, by Executive Order 12957, the President declared a national emergency with respect to Iran, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 17011706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Iran. On May 6, 1995, the President issued Executive Order 12959, imposing comprehensive sanctions on Iran to further respond to this threat. On August 19, 1997, the President issued Executive Order 13059, consolidating and clarifying the previous orders. I took additional steps pursuant to this national emergency in Executive Order 13553 of September 28, 2010, Executive Order 13574 of May 23, 2011, Executive Order 13590 of November 20, 2011, Executive Order 13599 of February 5, 2012, Executive Order 13606 of April 22, 2012, Executive Order 13608 of May 1, 2012, Executive Order 13622 of July 30, 2012, Executive Order 13628 of October 9, 2012, and Executive Order 13645 of June 3, 2013.
While the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran that went into effect on January 20, 2014, and was renewed by mutual consent of the P5+1 and Iran on July 19, 2014, and November 24, 2014, marks the first time in a decade that Iran has agreed to and taken specific actions that stop the advance and roll back key elements of its nuclear program, certain actions and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 15, 1995, must continue in effect beyond March 15, 2015. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to Iran declared in Executive Order 12957. The emergency declared in Executive Order 12957 constitutes an emergency separate from that declared on November 14, 1979, by Executive Order 12170. This renewal, therefore, is distinct from the emergency renewal of November 2014.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
THE LETTER-GOP Senators Take Orders from AIPAC | Consortiumnews
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 00:06
By reaching out to Iran in a bid to sabotage negotiations to limit its nuclear program, Sen. Tom Cotton and his 46 Republican colleagues not only show their contempt for President Obama and the U.S. Constitution but their obeisance to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and AIPAC, explains Gareth Porter.
By Gareth Porter
The ''open letter'' from Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican senators to the leadership of Iran, which even Republicans themselves admit was aimed at encouraging Iranian opponents of the nuclear negotiations to argue that the United States cannot be counted on to keep the bargain, has created a new political firestorm.
It has been harshly denounced by Democratic loyalists as ''stunning'' and ''appalling'', and critics have accused the signers of the letter of being ''treasonous'' for allegedly violating a law forbidding citizens from negotiating with a foreign power. But the response to the letter has primarily distracted public attention from the real issue it raises: how the big funders of the Likud Party in Israel control Congressional actions on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.
The infamous letter is a ham-handed effort by Republican supporters of the Netanyahu government to blow up the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran. The idea was to encourage Iranians to conclude that the United States would not actually carry out its obligations under the agreement '' i.e. the lifting of sanctions against Iran.
Cotton, R-Arkansas, and his colleagues were inviting inevitable comparison with the 1968 conspiracy byRichard Nixon, through rightwing campaign official Anna Chennault, to encourage the Vietnamese government of President Nguyen Van Thieu to boycott peace talks in Paris. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''LBJ's 'X' File on Nixon's 'Treason.''']
But while Nixon was plotting secretly to get Thieu to hold out for better terms under a Nixon administration, the 47 Republican senators were making their effort to sabotage the Iran nuclear talks in full public scrutiny. And the interest served by the letter was not that of a possible future president but of the Israeli government.
The Cotton letter makes arguments that are patently false. The letter suggested that any agreement that lacked approval of Congress ''is a mere executive agreement'', as though such agreements are somehow of only marginal importance in U.S. diplomatic history. In fact, the agreements on withdrawal of U.S. forces from both the wars in Vietnam and in Iraq were not treaties but executive agreements.
Equally fatuous is the letter's assertion that ''future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.'' Congress can nullify the agreement by passing legislation that contradicts it but can't renegotiate it. And the claim that the next president could ''revoke the agreement with the stroke of a pen,'' ignores the fact that the Iran nuclear agreement, if signed, will become binding international law through a United Nations Security Council resolution, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has pointed out.
The letter has provoked the charge of ''treason'' against the signers and a demand for charges against them for negotiating with a foreign government in violation of the Logan Act. In a little over 24 hours, more than 200,000 people had signed a petition on the White House website calling such charges to be filed.
But although that route may seem satisfying at first thought, it is problematic for both legal and political reasons. The Logan Act was passed in 1799, and has never been used successfully to convict anyone, mainly because it was written more than a century before U.S. courts created legal standards for the protection of First Amendment speech rights. And it is unclear whether the Logan Act was even meant to apply to members of Congress anyway.
AIPAC Marching Orders
The more serious problem with focusing on the Logan Act, however, is that what Cotton and his Republican colleagues were doing was not negotiating with a foreign government but trying to influence the outcome of negotiations in the interest of a foreign government.
The premise of the Senate Republicans reflected in the letter '' that Iran must not be allowed to have any enrichment capacity whatever '' did not appear spontaneously. The views that Cotton and the other Republicans have espoused on Iran were the product of assiduous lobbying by Israeli agents of influence using the inducement of promises of election funding and the threat of support for the members' opponents in future elections.
Those members of Congress don't arrive at their positions on issues related to Iran through discussion and debate among themselves. They are given their marching orders by AIPAC lobbyists, and time after time, they sign the letters and vote for legislation or resolution that they are given, as former AIPAC lobbyist MJ Rosenberg has recalled.
This Israeli exercise of control over Congress on Iran and issues of concern to Israel resembles the Soviet direction of its satellite regimes and loyal Communist parties more than any democratic process, but with campaign contributions replacing the inducements that kept its bloc allies in line.
Rosenberg has reasoned that AIPAC must have drafted the letter and handed it to Senator Cotton. ''Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel,'' he tweets, ''unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.''
AIPAC apparently supported the letter, but there may be more to the story. Sen. Cotton just happens to be a prot(C)g(C) of neoconservative political kingpin Bill Kristol, whose Emergency Committee on Israel gave him nearly a million dollars late in his 2014 Senate campaign and guaranteed that Cotton would have the support of the four biggest funders of major anti-Iran organizations.
Cotton proved his absolute fealty to Likudist policy on Iran by sponsoring an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 that would have punished violators of the sanctions against Iran with prison sentences of up to 20 years and extended the punishment to ''a spouse and any relative, to the third degree'' of the sanctions violator.
In presenting the amendment in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Cotton provided the useful clarification that it would have included ''parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids''.
That amendment, which he apparently believed would best reflect his adoption of the Israeli view of how to cut Iran down to size, was unsuccessful, but it established his reliability in the eyes of the Republican Likudist kingmakers. Now Kristol is grooming him to be the vice-presidential nominee in 2016.
So the real story behind the letter from Cotton and his Republican colleagues is how the enforcers of Likudist policy on Iran used an ambitious young Republican politician to try to provoke a breakdown in the Iran nuclear negotiations. The issue it raises is a far more serious issue than the Logan Act, but thus far major news organizations have steered clear of that story.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. [This story first appeared at Middle East Eye.]
OMG! Cotton is Kristol's Protege LobeLog
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 00:09
IranPublished on March 11th, 2015 | by Jim Lobe
by Jim Lobe
Yesterday's speculation that Bill Kristol may have played matchmaker between Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and those billionaire donors like Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson may not have been so idle.
A friend with a good database has sent us the following two items:
While in Iraq, Cotton also struck up a correspondence with Kristol'--a fellow former student of Mansfield at Harvard'--and when he was subsequently stationed at Arlington National Cemetery, in a prestigious unit called the Old Guard that oversees the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the two men met frequently over drinks and dinner at Washington's downtown Mayflower Hotel. Kristol saw a kindred spirit in Cotton's aggressive national-security hawkishness, and the men developed what Kristol describes as 'a bond beyond pure policy.''' [The Atlantic, The Making of a Conservative Superstar, September 17, 2014)
Cotton has been close with the Standard's editor, Bill Kristol, since striking up a friendship over email while deployed in uniform, and introduced himself to the Washington community while stationed across the river in Fort Myer.'' [Politico, The Last Best Hope for GOP Hawks?, April 30, 2013]
So this relationship, which must have opened up promising vistas for Cotton, goes back nearly a decade at least. And to think they were both mentored by Harvey Mansfield, one of this country's most influential followers of Leo Strauss and author of the almost cartoonishly patriarchal 2006 polemic, Manliness (which provoked one hilarious New York Timesreviewer to ask, among other questions, ''when was the last time he [Mansfield] left the faculty club?'')
I mean, really, this vision of the older Kristol counseling the young soldier on his career path over drinks at the Mayflower Hotel'--with its 1920s-era murals of the woodlands, the sea, and the ruins of Greek temples'--sounds like a Straussian wet dream. Kristol, of course, is Strauss's ''philosopher'' who cultivates and advises the ''gentleman'' about the ways of the world, knowing that, although he the philosopher lacks the charisma and the common touch to appeal to the masses, his eager (and manly) gentleman-protege may well become ''prince'' and thus the instrument for implementing his political agenda. No wonder the Weekly Standard'sman-crush on Cotton and Kristol current promotion of Cotton as the 2016 Republican vice-presidential candidate!
Of course, the backing of billionaires'--like Adelson and Singer'--doesn't hurt in promoting the philosopher and the gentleman and their common priorities such as, notably, supporting Bibi and the Israeli Right and attacking Iran.
Photo: Bill Kristol, Tom Cotton and two other Kristol proteges (Michael Goldfarb and Noah Pollak). Credit: Bill Kristol's Twitter Feed.
About the AuthorThe Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency, Inter Press Service, Jim Lobe is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy.
Bill Kristol on Twitter: "And the GOP nominee (Walker, Bush, Rubio, Jindal, whoever) should pick Cotton as VP just to make liberal heads explode."
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 00:11
@COG803'@DreShmurdaMar 11Lol RT @BillKristol: And the GOP nominee (Walker, Bush, Rubio, Jindal, whoever) should pick Cotton as VP just to make liberal heads explode.
0 retweets0 favoritesReply
International Day of Nowruz
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:34
The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Nowruz celebrates the start of the Persian spring festival March 21 ever year. It occurs on or around the time of the March equinox.
Nowruz celebrations can include traditional folk dances.Nowruz celebrations can include traditional folk dances.(C)iStockphoto.com/tunartWhat do people do?About 300 million people worldwide celebrate Nowruz, with traditions and rituals particularly strong in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, the Caucasus, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. Events may include folk dance performances, special concerts, and tree planting ceremonies.
Public lifeInternational Nowruz Day is a global observance. The Nowruz festival is a public holiday in some countries, such as Iran.
BackgroundNowruz is an ancestral festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. It was proclaimed as an official UN observance because it promotes peace and solidarity, particularly in families. The day also focuses reconciliation and neighborliness, contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities.
International Day of Nowruz ObservancesWeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observedSunMar 212010International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance MonMar 212011International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance WedMar 212012International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance ThuMar 212013International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance FriMar 212014International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance SatMar 212015International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance MonMar 212016International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance TueMar 212017International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance WedMar 212018International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance ThuMar 212019International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance SatMar 212020International Day of NowruzUnited Nations observance Quick FactsThe UN's International Day of Nowruz, also known as Nowruz, No-Ruz, No-Rooz or No Ruz, is observed on March 21 each year.International Day of Nowruz 2015Saturday, March 21, 2015International Day of Nowruz 2016Monday, March 21, 2016Name in other languagesNameLanguageInternational Day of NowruzEnglishDa Internacional de NowruzSpanish× ××¨××HebrewÙÙØ±ÙØ²Arabicëë£¨ì...KoreanInternationaler Norooz-TagGermanList of dates for other yearsOther calendarsRelated links
The FCC is Illegally Rewriting the Communications... - TechFreedom
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:41
Today, the Federal Communications Commission released new net neutrality rules in a 400-page order that prompted lengthy, detailed dissents from Commissioners Pai and O'Rielly.
''This order represents the triumph of political forces over sound policymaking,'' said TechFreedom President Berin Szoka. ''It effectively destroys nearly 18 years of bipartisan consensus. It's a radical break even from the FCC's proposed rules. In fact, the entire rulemaking may founder in court simply because Wheeler refused to issue a further NPRM to adequately develop the record. Politicization of the process may also cost the FCC the deference agencies usually enjoy when they've followed normal processes.''
''Essentially, the FCC is saying, 'just trust us,''' said ICLE Executive Director Geoffrey Manne. ''But the Order is brimming with reasons not to. Perhaps the Order's most astonishing admission is that the FCC intends to use its newly asserted authority under Title II not only to ensure, as it claims throughout in the Order, the ability to protect an open Internet, but also to saddle broadband providers and other services with whatever other regulations in Title II the FCC deems appropriate. This sly caveat, buried deep in the Order, nullifies the FCC's fevered assurances that it will preserve the light touch approach begun under President Clinton.''
''The FCC is effectively, and illegally, rewriting the Communications Act,'' argued Szoka. The Order mentions 'tailoring' in one form or another 77 times, but doesn't reference even once the Supreme Court's decision last year holding that such radical tailoring is a job for Congress, not regulators. The Order allows the FCC to go much, much further than it has gone today '-- but also to do the opposite. We're now just one presidential election away from Republicans using the FCC's new standard of 'forbearance without evidence' to gut not just net neutrality rules, but the entire Act. To say that opening the door to such political ping-pong brings 'certainty' makes a mockery of the word. The only way to restore sanity at the FCC is for Congress to finally update the Communications Act.''
''The FCC has never gotten far enough in court to face the significant Constitutional arguments against its power grab,'' concluded Manne. ''But the Order reveals the weakness of the FCC's First Amendment arguments. The FCC justifies its expansive interpretation of Sections 201 and 202 by claiming that broader rules will 'remove ambiguity.' But such an approach is decidedly not 'no more burdensome than necessary,' as First Amendment review requires. In fact, the FCC admits that its claimed authority grants the agency the nearly unfettered discretion to issue future rules. That is does so while disclaiming any need to justify such future rules under Title II today portends a dire future for free expression on the Internet as the FCC embarks on this regulatory slippery slope.''
We can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more of our work on net neutrality and Title II, including:
Highlights from legal and policy comments filed by TechFreedom and the International Center for Law & Economics on net neutrality, and our reply commentsThe FCC's Net Neutrality Victory is Anything But, by Geoffrey Manne, in WIREDAre Democrats Serious about Net Neutrality?, about hearings on Open Internet legislation proposed by RepublicansCoalition letter urging Congress to rein in the FCC's authority on net neutralityThere's No Middle Ground on Title II, by Berin SzokaNet Neutrality's Hollow Promise to Startups, an op-ed by Geoffrey Manne and Berin Szoka in ComputerworldUnderstanding Net(flix) Neutrality, an op-ed by Geoffrey Manne in FORBESThe Feds Lost on Net Neutrality, But Won Control of the Internet, by Berin Szoka and Geoffrey Manne, in WIRED
FCC Cites Soros-Funded Group 46 TIMES In New Regs | The Daily Caller
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:42
2:19 PM 03/12/2015
New internet regulations finally released by the Federal Communications Commission make 46 references to a group funded by billionaire George Soros and co-founded by a neo-Marxist.
The FCC released the 400-page document on Thursday, two weeks after it passed new regulations, which many fear will turn the internet into a public commodity and thereby stifle innovation.
''Leveling the playing field'' in that way has been a clear goal of Free Press, a group dedicated to net neutrality which was founded in 2003.
As Phil Kerpen, president of the free-market group American Commitment, first noted, Free Press is mentioned repeatedly in the FCC document. Most of the references are found in footnotes which cite comments by Free Press activists supporting more internet regulation.
The term ''Free Press'' is mentioned 62 times in the regulations. Some are redundant mentions referring to the same Free Press activists' comments in favor of more oversight. In total, the FCC cited Free Press' pro-net neutrality arguments 46 times.
The FCC received more than 4 million public comments as it was weighing the net neutrality initiative, but Free Press and other activist groups have received the most attention by pressuring the FCC and the White House on behalf of their cause.
One argument made against the FCC's regulatory push is that the general public is largely happy with its internet service. Support for net neutrality was seen as the domain of special interest groups like Free Press.
The activist group has big money behinds its effort. It has received $2.2 million in donations from progressive billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundations and $3.9 million from the Ford Foundation.
And one of Free Press' co-founders, Robert McChesney, a communications professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has not been shy about his desire to see the internet regulated heavily. (RELATED: A Leading Net Neutrality Activist's Neo-Marxist Views)
But internet regulation appears to be only part of McChesney's more radical agenda of completely revamping how the media operate in the U.S.
''In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles,'' McChesney wrote in a 2009 essay.
''Only government can implement policies and subsidies to provide an institutional framework for quality journalism,'' he said.
''The news is not a commercial product. It is a public good, necessary for a self-governing society. Once we accept this, we can talk about the kind of media policies and subsidies we want,'' McChesney once argued.
Sentiments such as these have raised questions about whether the FCC's new regulations will eventually lead to oversight of internet content.
''The unthinkable has become thinkable, and the free-market Internet '' one of freedom's greatest triumphs '' is set to be reduced to a public utility, subject to pervasive economic regulation and, in turn, to content control,'' American Commitment's Kerpen wrote in an open letter to McChesney after the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of the regulations.
McChesney, who is currently on Free Press' board of directors, made a series of progressive proposals in a 2010 book, ''The Life and Death of American Journalism.'' He suggested spending $35 billion on federal subsidies for public media outlets. He also proposed creating a journalism branch of AmeriCorps and said it would be a good idea to give each American a $200 news voucher which could be given only to publicly-owned media outlets.
''Advertising is the voice of capital,'' McChesney said in a 2009 interview with the Socialist Project. ''We need to do whatever we can to limit capitalist propaganda, regulate it, minimize it, and perhaps even eliminate it. The fight against hyper-commercialism becomes especially pronounced in the era of digital communications.''
FCC commissioner Ajit Pai blew the whistle on the agency's attempt to sneak the new regulations in under the radar. He pressed FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to release the proposed regulations so that the public could view them before the commission voted on the measure. Wheeler refused.
In his dissent, Pai, a Republican, slammed the commission's secrecy and also mentioned Free Press as one of the activist groups which received special attention on the matter.
''What the press has called the ''parallel FCC'' at the White House opened its doors to a plethora of special-interest activists: Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, just to name a few,'' Pai wrote.
''Indeed, even before activists were blocking Chairman Wheeler's driveway late last year, some of them had met with White House officials. But what about the rest of the American people? They certainly couldn't get White House meetings. They were shut out of the process. They were being played for fools.''
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The FCC's Other Absurd Power Grab
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 17:22
Muni Broadband Preemption is Illegal, Counter-Productive
Overshadowed by the unveiling of net neutrality rules yesterday, the FCC also released its Order on municipal broadband petitions filed by utilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina. The Commission had voted on February 26th to preempt state laws in TN and NC that restrict the expansion of government-run broadband networks.
''This is just another empty political stunt,'' said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. ''For months, the FCC has claimed that states are prohibiting muni broadband. In fact, they're merely imposing safeguards to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize networks outside their municipality, to ensure a level playing field between government-run and private providers, and so on. The FCC's contorted jurisdictional theory won't allow it to strike down absolute bans, only these generally sensible safeguards. So, perversely, the FCC may actually encourage states to ban muni broadband outright '-- which would be an ironically self-fulfilling prophecy.''
''This is a polarizing distraction from the real issue: clearing barriers to broadband deployment and building fiber-ready infrastructure, primarily at the local level,'' continued Szoka. ''If cities want faster broadband and more competition, they should start by cutting fees and red tape. Every time a street is dug up, a 'Dig Once' conduit should be installed underneath and leased to private providers. Such policies could greatly speed up broadband upgrades and entry by new providers like Google Fiber. Ultimately, these pro-deployment reforms must be implemented by Congress, state legislators and municipalities. Federal preemption legislation to set consistent standards may well be appropriate, just as it was when Congress clearly ordered the FCC to ensure that local zoning laws didn't hamstring home installation of satellite TV dishes. But by starting yet another partisan fight about the FCC's overreach, Tom Wheeler is poisoning the waters for real pro-deployment reforms.''
''The FCC is trying to sidestep its 2004 loss at the Supreme Court on this issue,'' explained Szoka, citing Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, in which the Court struck down the FCC's preemption of an outright state ban on muni broadband because, while Section 253 of the Communications Act specifically authorized FCC preemption, it failed to make ''unmistakably clear'' whether that applied to state laws governing muni broadband.
''The FCC knows it's on far weaker legal ground today,'' concluded Szoka. ''Section 706 doesn't mention preemption at all; indeed, only by claiming that Section 706 is inherently ambiguous can the FCC argue with any plausibility that Section 706 confers any authority at all. Of course, Section 706 can't be both ambiguous and unmistakably clear, so the FCC is trying to change the legal standard, claiming the Communications Act gives it sweeping preemption powers over any state laws governing telecom services short of outright bans. This flies in the face of other Supreme Court decisions recognizing states' 'absolute discretion' to limit the powers of their municipal corporations. And even before a court reaches these federalism questions, it may reject the FCC's absurd claim that Section 706 gives the agency carte blanche to do whatever it asserts will somehow promote broadband.''
Szoka can be reached for comment at email@example.com, and and see our other work on Section 706 and promoting broadband deployment, including:
''We Need More Google Fibers, Not Government-Run Internet,'' a statement on President Obama's white paper on ''Community-Based Broadband Solutions''''The FCC's Section 706 Power Grab is Dangerous, and Ignores Marketplace Realities,'' a summary of our comments on the FCC's annual report on broadband deployment''The Feds Lost on Net Neutrality, But Won Control of the Internet,'' Berin Szoka and Geoffrey Manne in Wired.com''Don't Blame Big Cable. It's Local Governments That Choke Broadband Competition,'' Berin Szoka and Jon Henke in Wired.com''Net Neutrality Regulation is Bad for Consumers and Probably Illegal,'' a summary of TechFreedom's legal comments to the FCC on Net NeutralityA Third Way on Muni Broadband, TechFreedom & ICLE statement, summarizing comments opposing petitions asking the FCC to preempt state laws governing muni broadband
FCC: Broadband Providers Not Entitled to First Amendment Protections | CNS News
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:11
(CNSNews.com) '' Two weeks after passage, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally released its landmark ''net neutrality'' regulations Thursday morning.
Among its many determinations, the FCC stated that broadband providers do not enjoy First Amendment protections because they do not have a right to free speech.
''The rules we adopt today do not curtail broadband providers' free speech rights,'' the commission said on page 268 of its decision, noting that because they merely serve as a means for others to express themselves, broadband providers are not entitled to free speech rights themselves.
''When engaged in broadband Internet access services, broadband providers are not speakers, but rather serve as conduits for the speech of others," the FCC stated.
However, the point is a matter of contention because the decision also says that providers ''shall not block lawful content, applications, [or] services.'' (page 284).
The commissioners acknowledged that such a problem has not arisen to date, stating, ''The record reflects that broadband providers exercise little control over the content which users access on the Internet.''
If broadband providers did exercise such control, the commission suggested, they may have some justification for seeking First Amendment protections.
''Claiming free speech protections under the First Amendment necessarily involves demonstrating status as a speaker,'' the decision stated. ''Absent speech, such rights do not attach.''
After finding that broadband providers themselves do not have a right to free speech, the FCC said that its new net neutrality rules protect the First Amendment rights of those who use the providers to access the Internet.
''Indeed, rather than burdening free speech, the rules we adopt today ensure that the Internet promotes speech by ensuring a level playing field for a wide variety of speakers who might otherwise be disadvantaged,'' the decision continued.
Even if the ruling does constitute a potential violation of Internet providers' First Amendment rights, a majority of the five commissioners said, there was a compelling governmental interest in doing so.
''Even if they were engaged in speech, the rules we adopt today are tailored to the important government interest in maintaining an open Internet as a platform for expression, among other things,'' the decision concluded.
The regulations passed on a 3''2 vote on February 26, with the FCC's three Democratic commissioners voting in favor of the new net neutrality rules and its two Republican commissioners voting against.
The rules must be approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) next, after which they will proceed to a period of congressional review before being published in the Federal Register.
After their publication, they are expected to face judicial scrutiny.
Related: Congressional Republicans Differ on Ways to Curb Net Neutrality Rules
Related: Federal Communications Commission Passes Controversial Net Neutrality Rules
Disney's $1 Billion Bet on a Magical Wristband | WIRED
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:08
The Magicband wields access to the park, replacing virtually every transaction you'd make inside.
If you want to imagine how the world will look in just a few years, once our cell phones become the keepers of both our money and identity, skip Silicon Valley and book a ticket to Orlando. Go to Disney World. Then, reserve a meal at a restaurant called Be Our Guest, using the Disney World app to order your food in advance.
The restaurant lies beyond a gate of huge fiberglass boulders, painstakingly airbrushed to look like crumbling remnants of the past. Crossing a cartoon-like drawbridge, you see the parapets of a castle rising beyond a snow-dusted ridge, both rendered in miniature to appear far away. The Gothic-styled entrance is teensy. Such pint-sized intimacy is a psychological hack invented by Walt Disney himself to make visitors feel larger than their everyday selves. It works. You feel like you're stepping across the pages of a storybook.
If you're wearing your Disney MagicBand and you've made a reservation, a host will greet you at the drawbridge and already know your name'--Welcome Mr. Tanner! She'll be followed by another smiling person'--Sit anywhere you like! Neither will mention that, by some mysterious power, your food will find you.
''It's like magic!'' a woman says to her family as they sit. ''How do they find our table?'' The dining hall, inspired by Beauty and the Beast, features Baroque details but feels like a large, orderly cafeteria. The couple's young son flits around the table. After a few minutes, he settles into his chair without actually sitting down, as kids often do. Soon, their food arrives exactly as promised, delivered by a smiling young man pushing an ornately carved serving cart that resembles a display case at an old museum.
We tend to acclimate quickly if technology delivers what we want before we want it.
It's surprising how the woman's sensible question immediately fades, unanswered, in the rising aroma of French onion soup and roast beef sandwiches. This is by design. The family entered a matrix of technology the moment it crossed the moat, one geared toward anticipating their whims without offering the slightest clue how.
How do they find our table? The answer is around their wrists.
Their MagicBands, tech-studded wristbands available to every visitor to the Magic Kingdom, feature a long-range radio that can transmit more than 40 feet in every direction. The hostess, on her modified iPhone, received a signal when the family was just a few paces away. Tanner family inbound! The kitchen also queued up: Two French onion soups, two roast beef sandwiches! When they sat down, a radio receiver in the table picked up the signals from their MagicBands and triangulated their location using another receiver in the ceiling. The server'--as in waitperson, not computer array'--knew what they ordered before they even approached the restaurant and knew where they were sitting.
And it all worked seamlessly, like magic.
No matter how often we say we're creeped out by technology, we tend to acclimate quickly if it delivers what we want before we want it. This is particularly true of context-aware technology. Just consider how little anyone seems to mind now that the Google Maps app mines your Gmail. Today, Google Maps is studded with your location searches, events you've arranged with friends, and landmarks you've chatted about. It's delightful, and it took hold faster than the goosebumps could. The utility seems so obvious, your consent has simply been assumed.
The same idea is taking hold at Disney World: How did they find our table?
A Friction-Free WorldWalt Disney borrowed against his own life insurance to pay for Disneyland's original design, and according to friends and family, he never seemed happier. It was his sandbox. ''You will find yourself in the land of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,'' he crowed in early brochures for the park. ''Nothing of the present exists.'' The expansion of Disney's empire brought Disney World to life in 1971, and within that world, Epcot was to be the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Disney wanted people to move in and live with technologies the rest of us could barely imagine. In a way, the MagicBands and their online platform, MyMagicPlus, realize that dream. But not in the way he imagined.
The design of the bands themselves teach users how they work. Access points have an encircled Mickey logo which matches that of the bands, showing that they can be touched together for access. Matt Stroshane/DisneyThe MagicBands look like simple, stylish rubber wristbands offered in cheery shades of grey, blue, green, pink, yellow, orange and red. Inside each is an RFID chip and a radio like those in a 2.4-GHz cordless phone. The wristband has enough battery to last two years. It may look unpretentious, but the band connects you to a vast and powerful system of sensors within the park. And yet, when you visit Disney World, the most remarkable thing about the MagicBands is that they don't feel remarkable at all. They're as ubiquitous as sunburns and giant frozen lemonades. Despite their futuristic intentions, they're already invisible.
Part of the trick lies in the clever way Disney teaches you to use them'--and, by extension, how to use the park. It begins when you book your ticket online and pick your favorite rides. Disney's servers crunch your preferences, then neatly package them into an itinerary calculated to keep the route between stops from being a slog'--or a frustrating zig-zag back and forth across the park. Then, in the weeks before your trip, the wristband arrives in the mail, etched with your name'--I'm yours, try me on. For kids, the MagicBand is akin to a Christmas present tucked under the tree, perfumed with the spice of anticipation. For parents, it's a modest kind of superpower that wields access to the park.
Every new experience with technology gently nudges our notions of what we're comfortable with.
If you sign up in advance for the so-called ''Magical Express,'' the MagicBand replaces all of the details and hassles of paper once you touch-down in Orlando. Express users can board a park-bound shuttle, and check into the hotel. They don't have to mind their luggage, because each piece gets tagged at your home airport, so that it can follow you to your hotel, then your room. Once you arrive at the park, there are no tickets to hand over. Just tap your MagicBand at the gate and swipe onto the rides you've already reserved. If you've opted in on the web, the MagicBand is the only thing you need.
It's amazing how much friction Disney has engineered away: There's no need to rent a car or waste time at the baggage carousel. You don't need to carry cash, because the MagicBand is linked to your credit card. You don't need to wait in long lines. You don't even have to go to the trouble of taking out your wallet when your kid grabs a stuffed Olaf, looks up at you, and promises to be good if you'll just let them have this one thing, please.
This is just what the experience looks like to you, the visitor. For Disney, the MagicBands, the thousands of sensors they talk with, and the 100 systems linked together to create MyMagicPlus turn the park into a giant computer'--streaming real-time data about where guests are, what they're doing, and what they want. It's designed to anticipate your desires.
Which makes it exactly the type of thing Apple, Facebook, and Google are trying to build. Except Disney World isn't just an app or a phone'--it's both, wrapped in an idealized vision of life that's as safely self-contained as a snow globe. Disney is thus granted permission to explore services that might seem invasive anywhere else. But then, that's the trick: Every new experience with technology tends to gently nudge our notions of what we're comfortable with.
The Magicband sports RFID and a radio inside, which allows sensors to locate its wearer. Adam VoorhesDesigning the ExperienceDisney shrouds its creative process in secrecy. This is both strategic and cultural: The company doesn't want its magic tainted by the messy realities behind the curtain. That's particularly true of the MagicBands. Piecing together their origin required more than two dozen interviews with executives at Disney and with designers and engineers who worked on the project but could speak only anonymously due to non-disclosure agreements.
Though the team behind this sprawling platform eventually swelled to more than 1,000 people, the idea started years ago with a handful of insiders. People jokingly called them the Fab Five'--an almost sacrilegious reference to Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. In 2008, Meg Crofton, then president of Walt Disney World Resort, told them to root out all the friction within the Disney World experience. ''We were looking for pain points,'' she says. ''What are the barriers to getting into the experience faster?'' The Fab Five were not just Imagineers, the demigods of fun who create Disney's attractions. They also included high-level veterans of the company's sprawling operations division, executives intimately familiar with the gnarly realities of running the park'--from catching people trying to scam the ride-reservation system to making sure parents are reunited with lost kids.
But the Fab Five's workaday roles belied a grand vision for Disney's future. ''They came back with a drawing of the Magic Kingdom without turnstiles,'' Crofton says. But, she adds, there was a ''domino effect in making one decision. Everything was wound together.'' No one knew this better than John Padgett. He was the project's most forceful advocate, and his name appears first on more than a dozen patents associated with MyMagicPlus. Within the company, this cascade of new technologies, and the dream of overhauling the park, thrilled some and threatened others, who fretted over the sheer complexity of it all.
The band's design reinforced two key values: Everyone is equal, and everyone is welcome.
The Fab Five drew particular inspiration from the then-nascent wearables market. The possibilities seemed nearly endless. They were especially intrigued by the Nike SportBand, a FuelBand predecessor that synced with a heart rate monitor and a pedometer in your shoe and fed data to a wrist-mounted display. Nike was using it in virtual events like the Human Race, a global, virtual 10K run that used wearers' pedometer data. What if Disney did something like that, the Fab Five thought. What if a band could be the key that unlocked everything at Disney World?
They assembled Frankenstein-like mock-ups using spare parts cribbed from hardware catalogs and torn-down gadgets. The team debated whether visitors would unlock the experience with a band, a lanyard, or even a Mickey Mouse hat. Their vision finally began lurching off the workbench in the first months of 2010, in a decommissioned theater that once hosted the Mouseketeers Live Show. ''That lab became the place to showcase the vision,'' says Nick Franklin, who with Crofton oversaw the team. ''It became the blueprint for the development teams.''
The Fab Five were stationed in an area of the park designed to evoke a studio backlot. The building itself looked a bit like a small-town movie house in the 1950s, complete with a marquee framed in bright lights. It was fronted with broad windows that had been blacked out, and the place appeared to be closed. The benches out front offered a quiet place where harried parents could rest for a moment, then yell at pouting children: We came 3,000 miles to get here, and you will have a good time!
Tucked away in a vestibule behind the glass, within earshot of those unsuspecting visitors, were 30 or so designers and engineers arrayed at makeshift desks, highly stressed and occasionally hung over from a night spent drowning their frustrations. ''It was just weeks and weeks of long days and traveling to Orlando,'' says one consultant who worked on the project. ''At the end of day, the only thing to do was drink with the team.'' The oblivious families wandering past offered one of the few diversions from their grueling work schedule.
The room they shared was maddeningly cold because they couldn't turn off the AC. Everyone suspected it was part of the same system cooling guests at Toy Story Mania next door. And messing with that thermostat was tantamount to sending a cash cow to the slaughterhouse. So to make up for it, Disney staffers offered mountains of sweatshirts and blankets and gloves from the park's many gift shops. Despite the conditions, the work inched forward. Great swathes of MyMagicPlus'--the MagicBands and their readers, along with pieces of the web portal for making ride reservations'--already worked. The bands themselves had been designed, as had the kiosks that would light up with a pleasing chime anytime you swiped.
That already represented a slew of feats, chief among them the MagicBand's novel tear-away design that ensured they'd fit nearly every wrist on the planet. The band looks simple enough: a colorful center panel surrounded by a dove-gray border. But if the band is meant for a child, a parent simply peels away that gray outer edge. Adults can wear it as is, intact. ''We had models ranging from what we called the Shaq wrist to that of a child, and everything in between,'' says another designer. Disney was adamant that the band's design reinforce two key values: Everyone is equal in the park, and everyone is welcome.
An illustration of the passes, cards, and maps that the system replaces. Kent PhillipsIt took one engineer six months to get the tear-away channel just right: It had to be easy to tear, but it couldn't inadvertently come apart. Meanwhile, the readers had to be intuitive enough for people to instantly know how to use them. The design has a novel and clever cue: Simply touch the circled Mickey icon on the band to the circled Mickey icon on the reader. When everything works, the reader flashes green and emits a pleasing tone; if something goes wrong, it glows blue'--never red. Red lights are forbidden at Disney, as they imply something bad happened. Nothing bad can happen at Disney World.
Beyond the vestibule, through a set of double doors, was a sound stage with a full-scale demo of the revamped Disney World experience. It was a cavernous space covering 8,000 square feet, with 50-foot ceilings. By 2012 it had been divided into a dozen or so ''rooms,'' using enormous black curtains that hung from the ceiling. Each room stood in for a stage in a visitor's trip, from the living room where the family might reserve its rides online to the hotel's shuttle bus to the hotel check-in to the lines for Space Mountain to the futuristic restaurant-booking system they'd invented. ''We were using the interfaces and technologies that would ultimately get deployed,'' Franklin says. This was an x-ray version of the Disney World experience'--a view directly into the bones of the park's commercial infrastructure.
All these vignettes playing out on the soundstage were a way of getting Disney's board of directors to sign off on the $1 billion cost of deploying the full system. The dress rehearsal worked. People like CEO Bob Iger and Pixar board-member John Lasseter, who was new to Disney and on a path toward reinventing its animation studio, were led through a two-hour tour that unfurled according to a fastidious, continuously refined script. They loved it.
What followed was two years of grinding work transforming a scripted prototype into a real-world performance, then another 18 months rolling it out in the park. The soundstage became a training ground for Disney's employees, who are called cast members. Today the soundstage has been disassembled. There are few photos documenting what happened there, due to the secrecy of the project and Disney's mandate to never show the mess behind the magic.
By the summer of 2013, when MagicBands first trickled into public tests, they would change almost every detail of the meticulously plotted choreography that rules Disney World itself.
Inside Be Our Guest, the restaurant where your food manages to find you, without you ever having to ask. Matt Stroshane/DisneyThe Era of Invisible DesignTom Staggs has the ramrod posture, trapezoidal jaw, and friendly face of a former varsity star you encounter at your high school reunion. When we meet in a teleconference, he's at Disney's corporate headquarters in Burbank, California, and I'm in a large room hidden within the support wings of Disney World, a continent away. I'm surrounded by charts and graphs, projected onto the wall, displaying all the information constantly flowing in from the park. Here, beneath a speckled drop ceiling, at a long folding table, in a room that looks like its been set for a PTA meeting, you can imagine the park breathing in people in, breathing out data.
Staggs, now the chief operating officer of the Walt Disney Company as a whole and until recently the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, is widely thought to be in line to become Disney's next CEO. He was the one who had to sell Iger and the Disney board on MagicBand. Like many corporate bigwigs, he has a talent for hiding radical ideas in a cloak of suave common sense calibrated to calm Wall Street. But every sentence he utters seems to be a koan that encapsulates years of teeth-gnashing about the ever-expanding borders of high technology.
Staggs couches Disney's goals for the MagicBand system in an old saw from Arthur C. Clarke. ''Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,'' he says. ''That's how we think of it. If we can get out of the way, our guests can create more memories.'' He offers a story about how a program called Fast Passes once guaranteed a ride time at premier attractions like Space Mountain. It used to be that those passes were issued at the rides themselves, and stamped with a designated return time. You had to be there when it opened, because passes went quickly and unless you were a scheduling savant, it was hard to hold passes for more than one ride at a time. You'd see families waiting outside for the park to open, then fathers sprinting for a kiosk to get enough passes for everyone in the family. ''I used to be that sprinter,'' Staggs says.
You make people happier not by giving them more options but by stripping them away.
You can see why he'--and Disney'--would be so keen on the bands. Instead of telling your kid that you'll try to meet Elsa or ride It's a Small World, Franklin says, ''you get to be the hero, promising a ride or a meet-and-greet up front. Then you can be freer to experience the park more broadly. You're freed to take advantage of more rides.'' There is an elegant business logic here. By getting people exploring beyond the park's top attractions, overall use of the park goes up. People spend less time in line. They're doing more, which means they're spending more and remembering more. ''The whole system gave Disney a way of understanding the business,'' says Franklin, who stepped down last July as Disney's executive vice president of next-generation experience. ''Knowing we need more food here, how people are flowing through the park, how people are consuming the experiential product.''
It also allows Disney to optimize employees. The goal was to create a system that would essentially replace the time spent fiddling with payments and tickets for moments of personal interactions with visitors. The MagicBands and MyMagicPlus allow employees to ''move past transactions, into an interactive space, where they can personalize the experience,'' Crofton says. What started as a grand technology platform has inevitably changed the texture of the experience.
Meanwhile, the digital world'--and the ease with which we carry it around in our phones'--has filled our lives with new expectations and endless entertainment options. ''I can't think of a business that isn't affected by more choice and more access to information and an increasing desire for personalization,'' says Staggs. So if you're a theme park, you have a strange dilemma that echoes the dilemmas we face in our digital lives. ''Walt Disney World is vast. There's more to do than you could do in a month,'' Staggs says. ''That choice is overwhelming.''
The access points glow green when things go as planned, but blue if there's an exception. You won't find any alarming shades of red in the Magic Kingdom. Matt Stroshane/DisneyIn fact, it's called the paradox of choice: You make people happier not by giving them more options but by stripping away as many as you can. The redesigned Disney World experience constrains choices by dispersing them, beginning long before the trip is under way. ''There are missions in a vacation,'' Staggs says. In other words, Disney knows that parents arrive to its parks thinking: We have to have tea with Cinderella, and where the hell is that Buzz Lightyear thing, anyway? In that way, the park isn't a playground so much as a videogame, with bosses to be conquered at every level. The MagicBands let you simply set an agenda and let everything else flow around what you've selected. ''It lets people's vacations unfold naturally,'' Staggs says. ''The ability to plan and personalize has given way to spontaneity.'' And that feeling of ease, and whatever flows from it, just might make you more apt to come back.
Will the world at large ever become something akin to Disney World, loaded with sensors attuned to our every move, designed to free us? There are signs. It's already starting to appear on Disney cruise ships, and Staggs says airlines, sports leagues, and sports teams have asked about the technology. ''We're just at the beginning of understanding what to do with this,'' he says. What Staggs doesn't share, but what former team members do, is that Disney already has conceived, designed, and engineered many more features that seem to border on science fiction'--features even more ambitious than delivering your food to you without your having to ask.
The MagicBand contains sensors that let guests swipe onto rides and allow Disney to pinpoint their location. At Be Our Guest, they're what enable the radios in the table and ceiling to triangulate your location so your server can find you. If Disney decides to install those sensors throughout the park, a new world of data opens up. They could have Mickey and Snow White find you. They might use the park's myriad cameras to capture candid moments of your family'--enjoying rides, meeting Snow White'--and stitch them together into a personalized film. (The product teams called this the Story Engine.) But they might also know when you've waited too long in line and email you a coupon for free ice cream or a pass to another ride. And with that, they'll have hooked the white whale of customer service: Turning a negative experience into a positive one. It recasts your memories of a place'--that's why casinos comp you drinks and shows when you lose at the tables.
Though Franklin wouldn't comment on the particulars of these possibilities, he did offer an intriguing summary of them. ''What people call the Internet of Things is just a technological underpinning that misses the point, '' he says. ''This is about the experiential Internet. The guest doesn't need to know how it happened. It's about the magic of the food arriving.''
These are the experiences that many more designers will soon be striving for: invisible, everywhere, and, in a word, mundane. Which is its own kind of magic.
*This story originally stated that the design lab was next door to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, instead of Toy Story Midway Mania. It also stated that the lab was begun in 2008. This referred to a previous iteration of the lab at another location. Finally, the story stated that John Lasseter was a Disney board member, instead of a member of Pixar's board. We regret the errors.
Spy accused of helping teens join ISIS claims he worked for Canadian intelligence - World - CBC News
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:10
An accused spy detained in Turkey for allegedly helping three British girls join ISIS claims he worked for a Canadian intelligence agency, according to a Turkish intelligence report obtained by CBC News.
Mohammad Al Rashed, a Syrian who purportedly went by the alias Dr. Mehmet Resit, allegedly helped the girls cross from Turkey into Syria shortly after they flew from London to Istanbul on Feb. 17.
According to the intelligence report, Rashed accompanied the three teens '-- two aged 15 and one 16 '-- on a bus to Gaziantep, a town near the Turkey-Syria border often used as a staging point by those looking to join ISIS. Rashed allegedly left the girls with "individuals involved in human trafficking" with the understanding they would be taken to Syria.
In a witness statement included in the report, Rashed claims he worked for Canadian intelligence and travelled occasionally to the Canadian Embassy in Jordan to share information he had gathered.
He claims he relayed information about his trip with the three British teens to Canadian intelligence on Feb. 21, and told Turkish authorities his ultimate goal was to obtain Canadian citizenship.
Rashed was detained on Feb. 28. According to the intelligence report, plane and bus tickets in the girls' names were found in his possession, as well as video of the girls meeting the human traffickers and setting off for the Syrian border. Similarly, photos of passports and images of passport stamps for at least 20 other people were found in his possession.
The report also says Turkish authorities have screen shots of text messages Rashed sent to Canadian intelligence officials.
A Turkish news channel on Friday released a video, reportedly filmed by the man in question, in the border town of Gaziantep. The video shows a man with three girls.
"At points, you can hear the Syrian suspect telling the girls not to forget their bags. You can see him on camera, at points, as well," CBC's Nil Koksal reported from Istanbul.
The Turkish media outlet Dogan quoted Rashad as saying he had accompanied at least 25 foreign fighters so far to Gaziantep.
Rashed purportedly entered Turkey 33 times using his Syrian passport and received multiple money wire transfers from people in England "with Arab names." According to the report, there is no evidence that Canadian intelligence officials sent Rashed money at any point.
Yesterday, CBC News learned that Rashed is not an employee of CSIS. Turkish intelligence said they couldn't find evidence that cash was exchanged between CSIS and Rashed, Koksal reported.
Earlier today, the Turkish foreign minister said Rashed is a Syrian national working for a country in the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, but did not elaborate further.
"The person who helped the three British girls into Syria is a Syrian national working for another country within the coalition. The situation is so complicated," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
Rashed appeared in a Turkish court on March 4 and remains in custody.
CSIS's Syrian asset?18:24
Ray Boisvert, former CSIS director of intelligence and president of I-SEC Integrated Strategies, said the story about possible ties to CSIS is plausible, but there are too many unanswered questions about whether the Syrian man was really a source.
"Sometimes people claim to be affiliated to an organization when, in fact, they are about five times removed," Boisvert told CBC's Power & Politics.
Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa, told host Rosemary Barton that the issue is murky '-- and likely political.
"I think some of this is really about Turkish politics and Turkey pushing back '-- because it is under such pressure from Western powers to do something about the foreign fighter issue and provide more help about ISIL," Wark said.
Synopsis | Four Blood Moons - Theatrical One Night Event
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:37
'Something is about to Change'FOUR BLOOD MOONS is a theatrical one night event exploring a rare lunar phenomenon that over the centuries has accompanied both tragedy and triumph for the Jewish people. From Pastor John Hagee's New York Times best-selling book of the same name (750,000 copies in print from Worthy Publishing), FOUR BLOOD MOONS is in theaters March 23.
''The heavens are 'God's billboard.' He's been sending signals to earth, and we haven't been picking them up,'' Hagee says. ''Two blood moons, in 2014 and 2015, point to dramatic events in the Middle East and, as a result, changes in the whole world.''
Produced by Rick Eldridge (THE ULTIMATE GIFT, BOBBY JONES:STROKE OF GENIUS) FOUR BLOOD MOONS is directed by Academy Award winner® Kieth Merrill, written by Eldridge and Merrill. A Goose Creek Production presented by 4BM Productions, it is produced in association with ReelWorks Studios and The WTA Group.
FOUR BLOOD MOONS combines scripture, science, history and big-screen live action spanning centuries, including previous similar lunar occurrences and the earth-shaking changes around them. It also examines our current four blood moon cycle'--and its possible meaning for Israel, the Middle East and the world.
An array of historians, religious scholars and commentators appear in FOUR BLOOD MOONS and offer their insight'--filmmaker, speaker and author Dinesh D'Souza; radio host and author Dennis Prager; and noted author and historian David Barton to name just a few.
''A blood moon occurs at a lunar eclipse when the earth comes between the sun and the moon. As the sun shines through our atmosphere, it throws a shadow on the moon, making the moon look red.''John Hagee
Only three times in the past 500 years have four of these blood moons (or tetrads) occurred back to back and on major Jewish holy days. The fourth tetrad began April 15, 2014, on Passover. In October last year, the second blood moon appeared on the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as Sukkot). Blood moons in 2015 land on the same holy days.
What happened in the past around such occurrences?
1493 '-- Spain's rulers had expelled all Jews and Columbus had discovered America, an eventual haven for the Jewish people.1948-49 '-- The founding of Israel.1967-68 '-- Following the Six-Day War, Jerusalem rejoins the state of Israel.FOUR BLOOD MOONS examines the biblical passages seemingly connected to these events'--in Joel and Acts'--where it says the ''sun will be darkened'' and the moon will appear as blood in advance of God's world-changing action on earth.
Hagee points out that during this four blood moon cycle, all of which touch on Jewish holy days, a solar eclipse also will occur''a combination of events that will never repeat.
Whatever the results, audiences at FOUR BLOOD MOONS will see a compelling and entertaining exploration of these spiritual, celestial and historical events. And they will leave the theater convinced that something is about to change that could impact us all.
For interviews, contact: Michael Conrad Michael@Lovell-Fairchild.com 214-616-0320
For press material, Click Here.
Blood Moons Film: 'The Heavens Are God's Billboard' - US - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:37
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In a cinematic one-night event, Pastor John Hagee's best-selling book, Four Blood Moons, is slated to hit theaters this month.
Through the lens of scripture, science, and history, the big-screen production will examine the significance of the blood moons cycle for Israel, the Middle East, and the rest of the world.
"The heavens are 'God's billboard.' He's been sending signals to earth, and we haven't been picking them up," Hagee said.
"Two blood moons, in 2014 and 2015, point to dramatic events in the Middle East and, as a result, changes in the whole world," he said.
CBN's Erick Stakelbeck, who spoke to Hagee last year about his book, also makes an appearance in the movie.
Four Blood Moons is scheduled to open March 23. For more information,visit the film's website.
Blood Moon Prophecy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:39
The Blood Moon Prophecy is a theory studied and taught by some Christian ministers, such as John Hagee and Mark Biltz, which states that an ongoing tetrad (a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses, with six full moons in between, and no intervening partial lunar eclipses) which began with the April 2014 lunar eclipse is a sign of the end times.
On April 15, 2014, there was a total lunar eclipse. It was the first of four consecutive total eclipses in a series, known as a tetrad; a second one took place on October 8, 2014, (the remaining two eclipses will take place on April 4, 2015 and September 28, 2015). It is one of eight tetrads during the 21st century AD. As with most eclipses, the moon appeared red during the April 15 eclipse. The red color is caused by Rayleigh scattering of sunlight through the Earth's atmosphere, the same effect that causes sunsets to appear red. Hagee also connects the solar eclipse of March 20, 2015 in the middle of the sequence.
The idea of a "blood moon" serving as an omen of the coming of the end times comes from the Book of Joel, where it is written "the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." This phrase is again mentioned by Saint Peter during Pentecost, as recorded in Acts.
Around 2008, Biltz began predicting that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur in the fall of 2015 with the seven years of the great tribulation beginning in the fall of 2008. He said he had "discovered" an astronomical pattern that predicted the next tetrad would coincide with the end times. When the prediction failed, he pulled the article from his website, but continued to teach on the "significance" of the tetrad.
Hagee would seize on Biltz' prediction to write Four Blood Moons, which would become a best seller, spending more than 150 days in Amazon.com's top 150 by April 2014. For the week ending March 30, 2014, it was the ninth best selling paperback, according to Publishers Weekly. By mid-April, Hagee's book had hit No. 4 on the The New York Times best-seller list in the advice category. Hagee's book (and subsequent sermon series at his home congregation, Cornerstone Church) did not proclaim that any specific "end times" event would occur (as did Biltz in his original prophecy), but claimed that every prior tetrad of the last 500 years coincided with events in Jewish and Israeli history that were originally tragic, yet followed by triumph.
§Media attention and criticsHagee and Biltz's speculations gained mainstream media attention in publications such as USA Today and the Washington Post.Earth & Sky reported receiving "a number of inquiries about Blood Moon", prompting a response. Despite the attention, it is not clear if many people actually believe the ideas. According to Christian Today, only a "small group of Christians" saw the eclipse as significant.
Writing for Earth & Sky Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd point out that the referenced verse also says the "sun will be turned into darkness", an apparent reference to a solar eclipse. They note that since the Jewish Calendar is lunar, one sixth of all eclipses will occur during Passover or Sukkot. Furthermore, there have been 62 tetrads since the first century AD, though only eight of them have coincided with both the feasts. Thus, the event is not as unusual as Hagee and Biltz imply. Additionally, three of the four eclipses in the tetrad will not even be visible in the biblical homeland of Israel, casting further doubt on Hagee and Biltz's interpretation. Writing for Space.com, Geoff Gaherty said he was saddened that "'prophets of doom' ... view these life-enriching events as portents of disaster" and said the eclipse was "hardly something to be concerned about".
In January 2014, Mike Moore, the then General Secretary of Christian Witness to Israel, wrote a lengthy article dismissing the claims of Biltz and Hagee. Moore's view was that no significance can be drawn from the eclipses.
^ abcBruce McClure; Deborah Byrd (March 30, 2014). "What is a Blood Moon?". Earth & Sky. Retrieved April 4, 2014. ^ abcElizabeth Weise (April 3, 2014). "Blood moon eclipse on April 15 is a special event". USA Today. Retrieved April 3, 2014. ^ abcdSarah Pulliam Bailey (April 15, 2014). "'Blood moon' sets off apocalyptic debate among some Christians". Washington Post. Religion News Service. Retrieved April 15, 2014. ^Joel 2:31^Acts 2:20^"Bestsellers for week ending March 30". Newsday. April 3, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2014. ^http://christiannews.net/2014/04/14/upcoming-blood-moon-lunar-eclipses-spark-woes-discussion-about-end-times-bible-prophecy/^Samantha Blake (April 5, 2014). "Lunar Eclipse April 15, 2014: Four Blood Moons a sign of End Times?". Christian Today. Retrieved April 6, 2014. ^"Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar Eclipse Series Not a Sign of Apocalypse". Space.com. April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^Mike Moore (20 January 2014). "Blood Moon Rising". Retrieved 31 October 2014. §External links
Operation BENELUX: More Bosnian Terror | The XX Committee
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:07
Today's news beings word of the arrest of four Islamist terrorists by Bosnian authorities. The four men, three Bosnians and one Swedish national, were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in a Scandinavian country, presumably Sweden. Three men were arrested by authorities while trying to leave Bosnia by car '-- a bomb was found in the trunk '-- while the fourth man was picked up in Sarajevo.
Details remain sketchy at this hour, but the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) admits to two raids on Sarajevo locations subsequent to the arrests. The improvised explosive device had been requested by radicals in Scandinavia for use there. Think of it as a bespoke bomb.
The multinational and interagency effort to round up this terror cell before they were able to launch an attack '-- left of boom as counterterrorism professionals like to say '-- was termed Operation BENELUX. It was led by SIPA in coordination with Dutch and Swedish authorities, as well as the Bosnian intelligence service, OSA.
The Bosnian daily Avaz has details on the arrested terrorists: Osman Abdel Salah (the Swedish citizen, born 1962), Adis RamiÄ (born 1979), Amar Å ljivo (born 1975) and Enver DÅ¾anko (born 1973).
This is a developing story'....watch this space for more information. This seems to be another case where intelligence-led terrorism prevention and security collaboration worked in saving lives '... but in Bosnia there's usually a complicated, and not always edifying, backstory too.
UPDATE (13 Mar, 1700 EST): Sarajevo media are reporting the arrest of a fifth member of the terrorist ring today in Sarajevo, but his name has not been released.
UPDATE (13 Mar, 1710 EST): Swedish police are expressing skepticism that the arrests are related to jihadist terrorism. They believe the plot stems from a Balkan gang war in the southern Swedish city of Malm¶ which has gotten ugly of late.
UPDATE (14 Mar, 0945 EST): The Sarajevo daily Avaz has identified the fifth suspect in SIPA custody as Å½eljko Malenica (which is not a normal name for Bosnian Muslim, FWIW).
UPDATE (14 Mar, 1010 EST): SIPA is not commenting on Swedish reports that police there consider this to be a gang-related case. Sarajevo considers this to be a case of terrorism, per the SIPA spokeswoman, as reported today by the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje.
This blog has reported prodigiously on Bosnia's connections to transnational jihadism and terrorism; here are some recent highlights, which may help with the background to this breaking story.
Bosnia and the Global Jihad Revisited
Bosnia's Jihad Comes to America
How Iranian Intelligence Trained Bosnian Terrorists
Iran's New Secret Balkan Spy-Terror Offensive
Austria and the Bosnian-Syrian Jihad Connection
Operation DAMASCUS, Part II
Vienna Calling: How Austria Became a Hub of Global Jihad
And if you want the full background to this messy story '-- it's got spies, Bin Laden, Iranians, plus terrorists from a couple dozen countries '-- there's a detailed book you should really read.
4 arrested in Bosnia for Scandinavia terror attack plans
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:07
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) '-- Bosnian police say they have arrested four men suspected of building an explosive device intended for a terrorist attack in an unspecified Scandinavian country.
Three suspects were arrested at the border while trying to leave Bosnia with the explosive device in the trunk of their car, while a fourth was simultaneously arrested in Sarajevo, police said on Friday.
The arrests were the result of a coordinated operation also involving officials from Netherlands and Sweden.
The four suspects, including one Swedish and three Bosnian nationals, are suspected of having built the bomb in Bosnia after receiving "a request" from Scandinavia.
Gay Marriage Or States Rights?
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 03:34
Brother NathanaelMarch 11, 2015 @ 8:19 pmText ''Text'' Text
Gay Marriage Or States Rights?By Brother Nathanael KapnerCopyright 2015
It's coming down to the wire.
In April, the Supreme Court decides if states have the right to ban same-sex marriage.
If the court denies that right then ''States Rights'' are over forever and only a federal ruling class will henceforth decide what states and individuals of those states can and cannot do.
With four Jews on the highest bench holding a pro-same-sex stance, the death of liberty is only one month away.
Does the 14th Amendment which guarantees 'equal protection' forbid states from treating homosexual couples differently than heterosexual ones?
Does discriminating against homosexual couples have as its main component, 'animus,' that is, 'bearing malice,' toward homosexuals?
This is how the debate is being spun by the legal apparatus who've turned the Constitution into a 'living Constitution' far from the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
An evolving, I mean, mutating 'living Constitution' is not even law at all. It's silly putty in the hands of Jewish judges to impose their will on the rest of us.
For instance, Judge Richard Posner recently ruled that restricting who can marry derives from a ''tradition of hate.''
Following Posner, Judge Dale Cohen of Florida overturned the state's ban on sodomite marriages citing the 14th Amendment.
But Congress passed the 14th Amendment after the Civil War to grant citizenship to former slaves. It has nothing to do with homosexuals.
The Founding Fathers considered sodomy and same-sex relations as morally repugnant crimes.
That's why the Thirteen States adopted British sodomy laws which carried the death penalty.
But this is not what the debate is about. It's not a ''14th Amendment'' debate. It's not an 'animus' debate. It's a States Rights issue. Period.
What people do in private will have repercussions for them.
You want to be a homosexual, go ahead. But don't override States Rights, our last shelter of freedom.
Come April, ''States Rights'' is about to be sodomized forever.
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Brother NathanaelMarch 11, 2015 @ 8:34 pmDear Real Jew News Family,
''States Rights'' IS our last protection against the FEDERALIZED JEW agenda.
JEWS have taken TOTAL CONTROL of the CENTRAL Government and DEEPLY EMBEDDED in every political, juridical, financial, and information venue in this JEW-RUINED country.
Now the wicked FREEDOM-HATING, TRUTH-HATING, MORALITY-CORRUPTING (for the goys) want to shove their HOMOSEXUAL depravity ''same=sex'' marriages down our throats by DENYING states to BAN morally repugnant same-sex marriages.
Even Thomas Jefferson, who wanted to mitigate the ''death penalty'' for homosexual acts, wanted to have the homosexuals CASTRATED.
But today, with JEWS infesting our court system, everything the Founding Fathers envisiones and encscribed BY LAW has morphed into a ''Living Constitution'' where SICK JEWS twist and turn the ORIGNINAL INTENT of our founding document, the US Constitution.
Woe to your country when Jews, queers, and women, rule over you!'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--'--''On A Very Discouraging Note
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hvtMarch 11, 2015 @ 9:14 pmWOW! You tell it like it is dear Brother! You hold back no punches and I salute you!
America, you are staggering like a drunken whore,Even to the point of entrance at Hell's door!Your foundational motto: IN GOD WE TRUST'...You have trampled underfoot! Can't you see the dustOf decaying morals? Of lust, pride and vanity?You are on the verge of losing your very sanity!
America, home of Miss Liberty'...land of the free (?)'...Your slip is showing'...dragging in filth and debris!Still, you plod along shunning all of God's holy ways.Even Nineveh applied for an extension of days!But you say, ''Attention I want. I'll be a global shocker.''Listen-up! Surely, Jesus will be your boat-rocker!
America, you are no longer little sweet sixteen'...Nor are you a dainty ballerina or a beauty queen.Having joined in the stoning of His prophets and saints,Your make-up's make-up clearly resembles war-paint!If you could see all things from beginning to end'...To which side, God's or satan's, would your knees bend?
America, open up the Book, the end is not hidden!Are you not concerned that you are backslidden?Redeem the time for good. Check out God's Holy Writ!See where in His blueprint you might exactly fit.The sinfulness abounding throughout your storied landIs hideous mocking of Heaven's most righteous plans.
America, won't you obey His ageless, instructive words?You can't run from them'...even in your souped-up Birds!The Day of the Lord, like a thief in the night, will comeFor a people listening for His trump'...not a bongo drum!It's up to you, America! Wha'd'ya say you get in His Mood?He is coming'...ready or not'...and His name is not dude'...But, Jesus. Yes, Jesus!
America, He loves you so!
CyclingSimmonsMarch 11, 2015 @ 9:44 pmAmazing to think that the Jews just do whatever they want, and that they actually run America.
They are out to destroy the Christian Faith, and their biggest supporters are Christian Zionist Evangelicals.
My uncle was a lawyer for the US Government, and many years ago would warn me that the Government had unspeakable plans for redefining marriage.
He couldn't even bring himself to speak of it for it is/was a shame to even speak of these things once upon a time. Now darkness is light, and light is said to be darkness.
Check Out St George the Dragon Slayer @www.CrushTheSerpent.BlogSpot.com
RogerMarch 11, 2015 @ 9:45 pmIt is not only about States' Rights!
The SCUS case is about States' Rights, but the real issue is about God's rights delegated by a much higher law to the Church.
It is about the freedom of the Church to teach, mandate and follow a moral code. The freedom of the Church to govern where the federal government has no right '-- in the consciences and souls of individuals, and to rule and to judge the actions of individuals - and civil rulers as to the morality of their actions.
To bind and loose in Heaven and on earth.
Same-sex marriage is an attack on God and religion and the sacraments '-- on families and on the innocence of children '-- on the good conscience of every individual in the state of grace.
It is a SIN that cries to Heaven for vengeance! This unholy rite of the Synagogue of Satan is set to destroy our nation!
CorneliusMarch 12, 2015 @ 5:39 amObamaCare was also a States Rights issue.
That was never mentioned by the opponents of the program, instead they argued the details of the program. This guaranteed they would lose.
This case will prove once again that Congress is nothing but a group of traitors in hoc to the Jews who run this country.
The Elder of Zyklon-BMarch 12, 2015 @ 6:21 am''Come April, ''States Rights'' is about to be sodomized forever.''
That's right RJN readers. This kosher sodimization will open the door wide open for more usurpation of rights that will be denied the Jew worshiping and Negroid deifying American sports fan.
''USA, USA!'' the well trained Chris Kyle worshiping goyim shout as King Bibi comes to Congress again to stoke the fires for war with Iran.
That's right sports fans. Go ahead while you are at it and get on board another Talmudically inspired war against Christian Russia.
That will be great for the economy you know.
Decadent antichrist Jewmerica under the leadership of Jews, queers, and brainless women takes on Russia, China and the rest of the world while simultaneously declaring war on its own people who reject the Jew World Order and all of the accompanying depravity and decadence.
Do you really think that in the days to come under Talmudic governance that it won't be a hate crime punishable by death to criticize die Juden?
Think again sports fans because that is what the Judeo Bolsheviks did in Russia when the tiny minority seized power, and you can bet your last vaccine that they will do it here in the ''home of the free and the brave.''
''Die Juden sind unser ungl¼ck.''
MichaelMarch 12, 2015 @ 7:06 amAnd to add insult to the ruling, Easter is 5 April if I am correct.
The gay marriage (oxymoron) ruling will be handed down very near this date. Bet on it.
This country is crucified upside down by Jews. God's judgment will follow afterward.
steviebMarch 12, 2015 @ 7:29 amYou're exactly right Roger.
This is about religious freedom as well as state's rights.
If they do pass this it will be ignored, and there won't be a thing they can do about it'...
JohnMarch 12, 2015 @ 8:02 amThe ''Living Constitution'' is bad but is only made possible by Christians who believe in a ''Living Bible''.
The Constitution is a man made instrument that is subject to the whims of man. It was designed to ''Form a more perfect Union'' and to keep it's citizens obedient to that union through deception, NOT to guarantee human rights and freedom as many believe.
Scripture has also erroneously been subjected to the whims of mans ''interpretation'' which is why Christianity doesn't resembles Scriptural teaching.
Thankfully Yahweh will soon put an end to mans faulty documents of repression, restore His truth, His Kingdom and relieve us of corrupt leaders, deviants and false ''Christian'' teachers, and of course false Jews.
Our so called ''Constitutional rights'' and our natural right to control ''OURSELVES'' were abolished when we were forced by mandate to buy into an ungodly insurance and medical industry.
Scripture teaches us to have Faith in Yahweh and Yahshua Messiah and repent of sin. But the world we live in teaches us to continue in sin and have faith in the medical establishment for salvation.
Can anyone say ''The mark of the Beast?''
CitizenfitzMarch 12, 2015 @ 9:21 amWe all know which way the SCOTUS ruling will go.
Jews are predictable like that.
sandorMarch 12, 2015 @ 9:42 amWhile I'm hesitant to adjudge the legitimacy, veracity or sinfulness of homosexual practices, I can see clearly its tactical importance as yet one more method to bewilder, splinter and alienate the population from one another.
The masters of destruction and chaos are at it again. If you succumb to the homosexual marriage 'raging debate', you've taken you eye off the ball once again.
They're plying the politics of division everywhere they can.
DanMarch 12, 2015 @ 2:34 pmHere in IL we have legal gay marriage and it isn't banned. I guess it could be banned by the IL government in the future. So that is why they want to prevent a possible future ban, on a Federal level.
But it is just on the gay marriage issue, state rights would still apply on other issues. For the time being.
BMarch 12, 2015 @ 3:12 pmPlease explain why it is that Judaism and Zionism stands for killing, stealing, and lying to the Goyim.
Maybe the name of Zion National Park could be disputed in a court trial, because of the reason of great immorality.
OonaMarch 12, 2015 @ 5:37 pmBrother Nathanael '... you're brilliant.
I'm still chuckling over the way you skewered the Supreme Court nincompoops in one sharp phrase:
''The US Constitution is, indeed, nothing but ''silly putty'' in their hands.''
Single-payer health care - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 09:03
Many nations worldwide have single-payer health insurance programs. These programs generally provide some form of universal health care, which are implemented in a variety of ways. In some cases doctors may be employed, and hospitals run by, the government such as in the United Kingdom or Spain. Alternatively the government may purchase healthcare services from outside organizations, such as the approach taken in Canada.
AustraliaEditHealth care in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions. Medicare is the publicly funded universal health care venture in Australia. It was instituted in 1984 and coexists with a private health system. Medicare is funded partly by a 1.5% income tax levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), but mostly out of general revenue. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance. As well as Medicare, there is a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that considerably subsidises a range of prescription medications. The Minister for Health, currently Peter Dutton, administers national health policy, elements of which (such as the operation of hospitals) are overseen by individual states.
CanadaEditHealth care in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded health care system, which is mostly free at the point of use and has most services provided by private entities. It is guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act of 1984. The government assures the quality of care through federal standards. The government does not participate in day-to-day care or collect any information about an individual's health, which remains confidential between a person and his or her physician. Canada's provincially based Medicare systems are cost-effective partly because of their administrative simplicity. In each province each doctor handles the insurance claim against the provincial insurer. There is no need for the person who accesses health care to be involved in billing and reclaim. Private insurance represents a minimal part of the overall health care system.
Competitive practices such as advertising are kept to a minimum, thus maximizing the percentage of revenues that go directly towards care. In general, costs are paid through funding from income taxes, except in British Columbia, the only province to impose a fixed monthly premium which is waived or reduced for those on low incomes. There are no deductibles on basic health care and co-pays are extremely low or non-existent (supplemental insurance such as Fair Pharmacare may have deductibles, depending on income). A health card is issued by the Provincial Ministry of Health to each individual who enrolls for the program and everyone receives the same level of care. There is no need for a variety of plans because virtually all essential basic care is covered, including maternity and infertility problems. Depending on the province, dental and vision care may not be covered but are often insured by employers through private companies. In some provinces, private supplemental plans are available for those who desire private rooms if they are hospitalized. Cosmetic surgery and some forms of elective surgery are not considered essential care and are generally not covered. These can be paid out-of-pocket or through private insurers. Health coverage is not affected by loss or change of jobs, as long as premiums are up to date, and there are no lifetime limits or exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
Pharmaceutical medications are covered by public funds for the elderly or indigent, or through employment-based private insurance. Drug prices are negotiated with suppliers by the federal government to control costs. Family physicians (often known as general practitioners or GPs in Canada) are chosen by individuals. If a patient wishes to see a specialist or is counseled to see a specialist, a referral can be made by a GP. Canadians do wait for some treatments and diagnostic services. Survey data shows that the median wait time to see a special physician is a little over four weeks with 89.5% waiting less than three months. The median wait time for diagnostic services such as MRI and CAT scans is two weeks, with 86.4% waiting less than three months. The median wait time for surgery is four weeks, with 82.2% waiting less than three months. In addition, there is concern of a "brain drain" as high-quality medical graduates leave Canada for better-paying careers in the U.S.
SpainEditBuilding upon less structured foundations, in 1963 the existence of a single-payer healthcare system in Spain was established by the Spanish government. The system was sustained by contributions from workers, and covered them and their dependents. The universality of the system was established later in 1986. At the same time, management of public healthcare was delegated to the different autonomous communities in the country.
While previously this was not the case, in 1997 it was established that public authorities can delegate management of publicly funded healthcare to private companies. Additionally, in parallel to the single-payer healthcare system there are private insurers, which provide coverage for some private doctors and hospitals. Employers will sometimes offer private health insurance as a benefit, with 14.8% of the Spanish population being covered under private health insurance in 2013.
In 2000, the Spanish healthcare system was rated by the World Health Organization as the 7th best in the world.
TaiwanEditHealthcare in Taiwan is administrated by the Department of Health of the Executive Yuan. As with other developed economies, Taiwanese people are well-nourished but face such health problems as chronic obesity and heart disease. In 2002 Taiwan had nearly 1.6 physicians and 5.9 hospital beds per 1,000 population. In 2002, there were a total of 36 hospitals and 2,601 clinics in the country. Per capita health expenditures totaled US$752 in 2000. Health expenditures constituted 5.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 (or US$951 in 2009); 64.9 percent of the expenditures were from public funds. Overall life expectancy in 2009 was 78 years.
The current health care system in Taiwan, known as National Health Insurance (NHI), was instituted in 1995. NHI is a single-payer compulsory social insurance plan which centralizes the disbursement of health-care funds. The system promises equal access to health care for all citizens, and the population coverage had reached 99% by the end of 2004. NHI is mainly financed through premiums, which are based on the payroll tax, and is supplemented with out-of-pocket payments and direct government funding. In the initial stage, fee-for-service predominated for both public and private providers. Most health providers operate in the private sector and form a competitive market on the health delivery side. However, many health care providers took advantage of the system by offering unnecessary services to a larger number of patients and then billing the government. In the face of increasing loss and the need for cost containment, NHI changed the payment system from fee-for-service to a global budget, a kind of prospective payment system, in 2002.
United KingdomEditHealthcare in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter, meaning England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare, generally referred to as the National Health Service or NHS. Each country having different policies and priorities has resulted in a variety of differences existing between the systems. That said, each country provides public healthcare to all UK permanent residents that is free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. In addition, each also has a private healthcare sector which is considerably smaller than its public equivalent, with provision of private healthcare acquired by means of private health insurance, funded as part of an employer funded healthcare scheme or paid directly by the customer, though provision can be restricted for those with conditions such as AIDS/HIV.
The individual systems are:
United StatesEditA number of proposals have been made for a universal single-payer healthcare system in the United States, most recently the United States National Health Care Act, (popularly known as H.R. 676 or "Medicare for All") but none have achieved more political support than 20% congressional co-sponsorship.
Advocates argue that preventative health care expenditures can save several hundreds of billions of dollars per year because publicly funded universal health care would benefit employers and consumers, that employers would benefit from a bigger pool of potential customers and that employers would likely pay less, would be spared administrative costs of health care benefits, and inequities between employers would be reduced. Advocates also argue that single payer could benefit employers by reducing health care costs, producing a more competitive labor market and reducing inequities between employers, producing a more fluid economy and increasing economic growth, aggregate demand, corporate profit, and quality of life. Also, for example, cancer patients are more likely to be diagnosed at Stage I where curative treatment is typically a few outpatient visits, instead of at Stage III or later in an emergency room where treatment can involve years of hospitalization and is often terminal. Others have estimated a long-term savings amounting to 40% of all national health expenditures due to preventative health care, although estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and The New England Journal of Medicine have found that preventative care is more expensive.
Any national system would be paid for in part through taxes replacing insurance premiums, but advocates also believe savings would be realized through preventative care and the elimination of insurance company overhead and hospital billing costs. An analysis of a single-payer bill by Physicians for a National Health Program estimated the immediate savings at $350 billion per year. The Commonwealth Fund believes that, if the United States adopted a universal health care system, the mortality rate would improve and the country would save approximately $570 billion a year.>
Recent enactments of single-payer systems within individual states, such as in Vermont in 2011, are seen as possible routes to enacting single-payer on the federal level. In December 2014, Vermont canceled its plan for single payer health care.
National policies and proposalsEditMedicare in the United States is a single-payer healthcare system, but is restricted to only senior citizens over the age of 65, people under 65 who have specific disabilities, and anyone with End-Stage Renal Disease. Government is increasingly involved in U.S. health care spending, paying about 45% of the $2.2 trillion the nation spent on individuals' medical care in 2004. However, studies have shown that the publicly administered share of health spending in the U.S. may be closer to 60% as of 2002. According to Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt, U.S. Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) represent "forms of 'social insurance' coupled with a largely private health-care delivery system" rather than forms of "socialized medicine." In contrast, he describes the Veterans Administration healthcare system as a pure form of socialized medicine because it is "owned, operated and financed by government." In a peer-reviewed paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers of the RAND Corporation reported that the quality of care received by Veterans Administration patients scored significantly higher overall than did comparable metrics for patients currently using United States Medicare.
The United States National Health Care Act, is a perennial piece of legislation introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) every year since 2002. The act would establish a universal single-payer health care system in the United States, the rough equivalent of Canada's Medicare, the United Kingdom's National Health Service, and Taiwan's Bureau of National Health Insurance, among other examples. Under a single payer system, all medical care would be paid for by the Government of the United States, ending the need for private health insurance and premiums, and probably recasting private insurance companies as providing purely supplemental coverage, to be used when non-essential care is sought. The bill was first introduced in 2002, and has been reintroduced in each Congress since. During the 2009 health care debates over the bill that became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. H.R. 676 was expected to be debated and voted upon by the House in September 2009, but was never debated.
The Congressional Budget Office and related government agencies scored the cost of a single payer health care system several times since 1991. The General Accounting Office published a report in 1991 noting that "[I]f the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer, as in Canada, the savings in administrative costs [10 percent of health spending] would be more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage.'' The CBO scored the cost in 1991, noting that "the population that is currently uninsured could be covered without dramatically increasing national spending on health" and that "all US residents might be covered by health insurance for roughly the current level of spending or even somewhat less, because of savings in administrative costs and lower payment rates for services used by the privately insured. A CBO report in 1993 stated that "[t]he net cost of achieving universal insurance coverage under this single payer system would be negative" in part because "consumer payments for health would fall by $1,118 per capita, but taxes would have to increase by $1,261 per capita" in order to pay for the plan. A July 1993 scoring also resulted in positive outcomes, with the CBO stating that, "[a]s the program was phased in, the administrative savings from switching to a single-payer system would offset much of the increased demand for health care services. Later, the cap on the growth of the national health budget would hold the rate of growth of spending below the baseline." The CBO also scored Sen. Paul Wellstone's American Health and Security Act of 1993 in December 1993, finding that "by year five (and in subsequent years) the new system would cost less than baseline."
State proposalsEditSeveral single-payer state referendums and bills from state legislatures have been proposed, but, with the exception of Vermont, all have failed. In December 2014, Vermont canceled its plan for single payer health care.
CaliforniaEditCalifornia attempted passage of a single-payer bill as early as 1994, and the first successful passages of legislation through the California State Legislature, SB 840 or "The California Universal Healthcare Act" (authored by Sheila Kuehl), occurred in 2006 and again in 2008. Both times, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. State Senator Mark Leno has reintroduced the bill in each legislative session since.
HawaiiEditIn 2009, the Hawaii state legislature passed a single-payer health care bill that was vetoed by Republican Governor Linda Lingle. While the veto was overridden by the legislature, the bill was not implemented.
IllinoisEditIn 2007, the Health Care for All Illinois Act was introduced and the Illinois House of Representatives' Health Availability Access Committee passed the single-payer bill favorably out of committee by an 8''4 vote. The legislation was eventually referred back to the House rules committee and not taken up again during that session.
MassachusettsEditMassachusetts had passed a universal health care program in 1986, but budget constraints and partisan control of the legislature resulted in its repeal before the legislation could be enacted. Question 4, a nonbinding referendum, was on the ballot in 14 state districts in November 2010, asking voters, "[S]hall the representative from this district be instructed to support legislation that would establish health care as a human right regardless of age, state of health or employment status, by creating a single payer health insurance system like Medicare that is comprehensive, cost effective, and publicly provided to all residents of Massachusetts?" The ballot question passed in all 14 districts that offered the question.
MinnesotaEditThe Minnesota Health Act, which would establish a state-wide single payer health plan, has been presented to the Minnesota legislature regularly since 2009. The bill was passed out of both the Senate Health Housing and Family Security Committee and the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee in 2009, but the House version was ultimately tabled. In 2010, the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote as well as the House Health Care & Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee. In 2011, the bill was introduced as a two-year bill in both the Senate and House, but did not progress. It has been introduced again in the 2013 session in both chambers.
MontanaEditIn September 2011, Governor Brian Schweitzer announced his intention to seek a waiver from the federal government allowing Montana to set up a single payer health care system. Governor Schweitzer was unable to implement single-payer health care in Montana, but did make moves to open government-run clinics and, in his final budget as governor, increased coverage for lower-income Montana residents.
OregonEditThe state of Oregon attempted to pass single payer health care via Oregon Ballot Measure 23 in 2002, and the measure was rejected by a significant majority. Previous bills, including the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act, have been introduced in the legislature but have never left committee. The Affordable Health Care Act may be reintroduced in the 2013 session.
PennsylvaniaEditThe Family Business and Healthcare Security Act has been introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature numerous times, but has never been able to pass.
VermontEditIn December 2014, Vermont canceled its plan for single payer health care. Vermont passed legislation in 2011 creating Green Mountain Care. When Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law, Vermont became the first state to functionally have a single payer health care system. While the bill is considered a single-payer bill, private insurers can continue to operate in the state indefinitely, meaning it does not fit the strict definition of single-payer. Representative Mark Larson, the initial sponsor of the bill, has described Green Mountain Care's provisions "as close as we can get [to single-payer] at the state level."
Vermont abandoned the plan in 2014, citing costs and tax increases as too high to implement.
Public opinionEditAdvocates for single payer point to support in polls, although the polling is mixed depending on how the question is asked. Polls from Harvard University in 1988, the Los Angeles Times in 1990, and the Wall Street Journal in 1991 all showed strong support for a health care system comparable to the system in Canada. More recently, however, polling support has declined. A 2007 Yahoo/AP poll showed a majority of respondents considered themselves supporters of "single-payer health care," and a plurality of respondents in a 2009 poll for Time Magazine showed support for "a national single-payer plan similar to Medicare for all." Polls by Rasmussen Reports in 2011 and 2012 showed pluralities opposed to single payer health care.
A 2001 article in the public health journalHealth Affairs studied fifty years of American public opinion of various health care plans and concluded that, while there appears to be general support of a "national health care plan," poll respondents "remain satisfied with their current medical arrangements, do not trust the federal government to do what is right, and do not favor a single-payer type of national health plan."Politifact rated a statement by Michael Moore "false" when he stated that "[t]he majority actually want single-payer health care." According to Politifact, responses on these polls largely depend on the wording. For example, people respond more favorably when they are asked if they want a system "like Medicare."
Advocacy groupsEditPhysicians for a National Health Program the American Medical Student Association and the California Nurses Association are among advocacy groups that have called for the introduction of a single payer health care program in the United States. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 59% of physicians "supported legislation to establish national health insurance" while 9% were neutral on the topic, and 32% opposed it.
If you discuss Single Payer on the next show please consider responding to these questions and comments.
The term Single Payer is deceptive. Why isn't it called Government Health Care, Welfare Medicine or any name that reflects what it really is?
If the government is paying for the maintenance of your body won't they then be in a position to directly or indirectly tell you how to use it?
Mandatory vaccines and fines for people who need treatment for something they did not get the vaccine to prevent.
Direct taxes on behaviors that increase medical costs, e.g. motorcycles, alcohol, child birth and anything perceived to be an unnecessary risk.
Won't this system provide medical care that will be the same as what is received by those in V.A. hospitals?
Today if I need to see a doctor I can see a doctor immediately or at least the same day. Is it not true that in other counties where the government pays there is a long wait for service?
If two people need a knee operation and there is a waiting list will the government give the same service to a 22 year old unemployed skate boarder and 30 year old construction worker? Or, will the government give priority to the one of them and make the other wait?
I live in a city where you send your kid to Catholic schools until they go to college if you want them to have a chance, parents pay for those schools. The government pays for the public schools, the charter schools and the STEM schools; 50% of those kids fail to graduate.
Do you think the government will provide better medical care than it does education?
I see single payer as a slave system. The government pays to maintain your body so they will get to tell you how to use it. I'll be listening on Sunday, if I'm wrong about this let me know.
Mac 'n' cheese-only restaurant to open in Logan Square this April - Chicago Tribune
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:40
ByEmily WickwireTribune reporter
Logan Square bar-crawlers, you're in luck.
Russ Grant (East Room, Parts and Labor, Boiler Room) and Laura Piper (One North Kitchen) announced plans to open a mac 'n' cheese-only restaurant (2354 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Logan Square next month.
The fast-casual joint, which does not yet have a name, will be in the same building as Grant's low-key bar, East Room.
"We just wanted to do a place that's close to where all the kids are," said Piper, who will serve as the eatery's new chef. "Something near a bunch of bars that's quick-serve where you can grab something to eat between the bars."
The idea to create a joint that served only the cheesy comfort food originated at Piper's restaurant, One North Kitchen, where her spruced-up takes on mac 'n' cheese are popular among customers.
"Right now, we have a jalapeno-bacon and buffalo chicken (mac 'n' cheese)," Piper said. "As we tossed around ideas for a quick-serve restaurant, Russ came over here and he loved it."
The menu will be entirely mac 'n' cheese, and will use "very simple, very straightforward, high-quality ingredients." At first the restaurant will serve just regular mac 'n' cheese and buffalo chicken mac 'n' cheese, though Piper said customers can upgrade either one with bacon or add hot sauce.
As for why mac 'n' cheese, "It's just one of those things that makes you feel better," she said. "If you grew up in this country, you grew up on mac 'n' cheese of some kind."
The restaurant is slated to open mid- to late-April.
Copyright (C) 2015, Chicago Tribune
Rational Conflict | Yanis Varoufakis
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:49
A brief history of Rational Conflict
Rational Conflict was my first (single-authored) book. Its origins lie in my PhD thesis even though it shares not a single word with that document. The thesis was a typically dry microeconometric investigation of various parametric optimisation models of industrial strike activity.
Although intensely proud of my PhD thesis at the time, soon after I realised I did not want to publish it as a book. Indeed, within months I had laid it to rest on some dusty shelf never to be retrieved again. The reason was twofold:
First, disillusionment with econometric analysis (once I grasped the enormous chasm separating that which we are actually testing from the theory we pretend to be testing). Secondly, because soon after completing my thesis I was taken with game theory and the following conundrum that it posed for anyone interested in conflict:If we could have developed a brilliant theory of conflict, then the possibility of rational conflict (that is, of conflict between rational agents) would, necessarily, wither (as well-informed rational antagonists would have no reason to go through the motions of 'fighting').
This paradox struck me as an excellent opportunity to cast a critical gaze on the foundations of game theory in particular and neoclassical theory in general. Thus the seed of Rational Conflict entered my mind while I still lived in the UK (and taught at the University of East Anglia).
The actual book began to take shape after I moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1988. Thanks to the generosity of the Economics Department at the University of Sydney (they allowed me a lengthy teaching-free period right at the outset), I got down to work. The book saw the light of day in 1991 (Oxford: Blackwell).
As is often the case, Rational Conflict, being my first book, was written for myself, even though I was under the illusion (while writing it) that it was meant to appeal to large numbers. Soon after its publication I realised that only a handful of those who cared about the philosophical and political issues raised by the book also possessed the technical skills to follow the argument. Meanwhile, those who had the technical skills lacked the interest in the political philosophy of the enterprise. Still, I was glad I wrote it thus confirming that I had, essentially, written it for myself. I suppose that we all deserve to write one book for ourselves. Nonetheless, at that stage I resolved that any future books would be readable by those whom they might benefit the most.
Dust cover blurb
Conflict is a disconcerting notion. It brings to mind war, strikes, discord and, to the horror of economists, inefficiency. These days, when social scientists are urged to adopt game theory in their pursuit of social explanation, a theory of conflict becomes a study in the failings of common sense or of communication difficulties experienced by agents. In any case, conflict is seen as a technical difficulty calling for a technical solution.
In this path-breaking book, Yanis Varoufakis rejects this perception as too impoverished. Starting with a demystification of game theory and using examples from industrial relations, diplomatic games, hostage crises and the law, he places its findings in a philosophical perspective and argues that there is a lot more to conflict than in immediately obvious. However disagreeable it may be within a popular culture, conflict possesses a creative edge and forms a crucial symbiotic relationship with Reason and Liberty that is in danger of being obscured if the sirens of game theory are heeded.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgements
Part I Preliminary Perspectives
Chapter 1 Introduction 3
Chapter 2 Reason and War
Reason's narrow gate 15 Parametric and strategic perspectives 24 Fighting for freedom I 25 The enemy within 28 Conclusion 31
Part II Game Theory: Concepts and Critique
Chapter 3 Foundations of Equilibrium Conflict
The Leviathan trap 37 Deliverance 41 Equilibrium reluctance 64 Conclusion 75Chapter 4 War and Peace as Games
Inescapable Carnage 82Logic's backward march 90Conclusion 100 Chapter 5 Conflict by Agreement
Conditions for communication 104 Informational equity and consensus 113 Information inequity:a chance for conflict? 129 Conclusion 136 Chapter 6 Conflict Beyond Equilibrium
The illusive paradox 141 Counterfactuals andconditional probabilities 146 Mixed feelings, mixed strategies 151 Backward versus forward induction:the Cunning of Reason 159 Rationalizable conflict 173ConclusionPart III Reason, Conflict and Emancipation
Chapter 7 Praxis and the Self
The consequences of indeterminacy 185 Dualism contra dialectics 195 Praxis and Sartre's theatre:the struggle for self-realization 206 Erasure versus synthesis:the post-modern challenge 212 Conclusion 220 APPENDIX: Explaining conflict as an investment in lower risk aversion 224
Chapter 8 Social Conflict and Liberty
Beyond the cave 230 The origins of solidarity I:coalitions, norms and evolution 236 The origins of solidarity II:history versus evolution 243 Fighting for freedom II 257 Conclusion 275 Bibliography 285 Index Like this:LikeLoading...
Yanis Varoufakis, Paris Match Issue 3434, March 18, 2015 Photos | Getty Images
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:48
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Danish European Union opt-outs referendum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:29
Denmark holds a number of "opt-outs" from European Union policies. These opt-outs relate to the Common Security and Defence Policy, citizenship, police and justice, and the adoption of the euro. The two largest parties in the Danish parliament, the Social Democrats and Liberals, reached an agreement in 2014 that a referendum on converting the justice opt-out into an opt-in would be held in the first quarter of 2016, following the next Danish general election due by September 2015, regardless of the outcome of the election.
§BackgroundOne or more referendums on abolishing one or more the opt-outs were announced by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his speech on 22 November 2007 after he won the 2007 parliamentary election. It was not announced whether the referendum would only offer a full repeal of all opt-outs, or a case-by-case choice, and no date was announced, except that it would be before the 2011 Danish parliamentary election. The V/K (Liberal-Conservative) government had been planning to hold a referendum on abolishing the opt-outs (or at least the euro opt-out) since at least 2004, following a favourable change in public opinion, but the discussions and controversy regarding the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and the Treaty of Lisbon had delayed this.
The referendum was originally expected to be held in the autumn of 2008 but following Ireland's rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon, Fogh Rasmussen stated that this would not happen. In early 2009, it was announced that Fogh Rasmussen expected to hold a referendum on Denmark joining the Eurozone in 2010, as he believed it was possible to meet the demands of the Euro-sceptic Socialist People's Party.
§Lars L¸kke Rasmussen GovernmentFollowing the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Secretary General of NATO in 2009, his successor, Lars L¸kke Rasmussen, announced that the opt-outs would be put to a referendum "when the time is right", which was seen as an indication that he did not necessarily intend to proceed with a referendum. Following a meeting with the European Commission president Jos(C) Manuel Barroso in mid-May 2009, L¸kke Rasmussen stated that he hoped at least a referendum on the common currency would take place before the next parliamentary elections in 2011. At the same time, he said that Denmark was already using the euro (because of the currency peg); but they had decided to call it "danske kroner". However, no referendum was held and L¸kke Rasmussen's coalition lost the election in the autumn of 2011.
The leaders of the three largest opposition parties, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Villy S¸vndal, and Margrethe Vestager had suggested that a referendum on abolishing the opt-outs concerning the Common Security and Defence Policy and the Justice and Home Affairs be held on 23 March 2010.
§Competitiveness PactDuring the European sovereign debt crisis in early 2011, during negotiations over a new "Competitiveness Pact" to stabilise the euro and reform economic governance in the European Union, L¸kke Rasmussen proposed to hold a referendum on the opt-outs before June 2011 to have a mandate to participate in the negotiations over the Competitiveness Pact. However, some politicians warned that Rasmussen's low popularity might cause the referendum to result in a protest vote against him and his government. The Prime Minister's suggestion was criticised by an "expert", claiming that the time for a referendum was ill-chosen, pointing out that Denmark was set to hold general elections later that year. Politiken suggested that this might be his deliberate intention, pointing out that the parties currently in opposition had different opinions on two of the opt-outs (although all parties in the opposition wanted to abolish the defence opt-out). Pia Kj...rsgaard, leader of the Dansk Folkeparti, didn't like the Prime Minister's wording.
§Helle Thorning-Schmidt governmentAfter the victory of the left-wing coalition under Thorning-Schmidt in the September 2011 elections, the new government announced that it planned to hold referendums on abolishing the defence opt-out and on either abolishing the justice opt-out or modifying it to a flexible opt-in like that of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland to allow Denmark to participate in measures which it chooses. However, in June 2012 Thorning-Schmidt announced that she didn't anticipate holding a referendum before a certain amount of stability and order returned to the situation in Europe, possibly not before the end of the government's term, citing the "anxiety and uncertainty" surrounding the European project at the time. In August 2013, Lars L¸kke Rasmussen, the leader of the opposition Venstre (Denmark) proposed that a referendum on the opt-outs of EU defence and justice co-operation, as well as on the Unified Patent Court, leaving opt-outs from European citizenship and the Euro, coincide with the 2014 European election. The proposal was rejected by the Minister for European affairs, Nick H...kkerup, who argued that the timing was not right. In October 2014 Thorning-Schmidt announced plans to hold a referendum on converting the justice opt-out into an opt-in following the next Danish general election due by September 2015, due to concerns that the opt-out would force Denmark to leave Europol. The two largest parties in parliament, the Social Democrats and Liberals, reached an agreement that the referendum would be held in the first quarter of 2016 regardless of the outcome of the election.
Denmark obtained four opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty following the treaty's initial rejection in a 1992 referendum. The opt-outs are outlined in the Edinburgh Agreement and concern the Economic and monetary union (EMU), the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and the citizenship of the European Union. With these opt-outs the Danish people accepted the treaty in a second referendum held in 1993.
The EMU opt-out means that Denmark is not obliged to participate in the third phase of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, that is, to replace the Danish krone with the euro. The abolition of the euro opt-out was put to a referendum in 2000 and was rejected. The CSDP opt-out originally meant Denmark would not be obliged to join the Western European Union (which originally handled the defence tasks of the EU). Now it means that Denmark does not participate in the European Union's foreign policy where defence is concerned. Hence it does not take part in decisions, does not act in that area and does not contribute troops to missions conducted under the auspices of the European Union. The JHA opt-out exempts Denmark from certain areas of home affairs. Significant parts of these areas were transferred from the third European Union pillar to the first under the Amsterdam Treaty; Denmark's opt-outs from these areas were kept valid through additional protocols. Acts made under those powers are not binding on Denmark except for those relating to the Schengen Agreement, which are instead conducted on an intergovernmental basis with Denmark. The citizenship opt-out stated that European citizenship did not replace national citizenship; this opt-out was rendered meaningless when the Amsterdam Treaty adopted the same wording for all members. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, Denmark can change its opt-out from a complete opt-out to the case-by-case opt-in version applying to Ireland and the United Kingdom whenever they wish.
In November 2007, the social-liberal broadsheet Politiken was in favour of a referendum and supported a case-by-case vote on all four opt-outs; it saw the possibility to break the "yes-or-no" deadlock over EU politics in Denmark. In January 2008, the liberal-conservative broadsheet Jyllands-Posten supported Denmark abolishing all four opt-outs.
A poll from early June 2008 saw a clear majority in favour of repealing the defence and judicial issues opt-outs, a very close race regarding the euro and a clear majority against repealing the citizenship opt-outs. Following an increase in support for abolishing the opt-outs, support dropped in mid-May 2009; in January 2009, 49.8% were in favour of having the Euro as Danish currency, dropping to 45.2% against and 43.7% in favour in May 2009. Support for abolishing opt-outs on legal and defence cooperation has also dwindled to equal numbers pro and against.
Afterwards support for abolishing the opt-outs increased again. As of October 2009, there was a majority in favour of abolishing each one of the four opt-outs, the only difference being in the size of majority: Absolute majorities were in favour of entering the Eurozone (50% in favour, 43% opposed) and of a Common European Defence (66% in favour, 21% opposed). There were relative majorities in favour of judicial cooperation (47% in favour, 35% opposed) and European Citizenship (40% in favour, 30% opposed). When asked, how they would vote when they had to decide about all four opt-outs in a package, a relative majority of 42% would vote in favour of abolishing the opt-outs and 37% would vote in favour of keeping the opt-outs.
Following the European sovereign debt crisis, particularly the financial market turmoil of 2011, support for the euro dropped dramatically.
^ ab"Aftale om Danmark i Europol". Retrieved 2015-01-26. ^Olsen, Jan M. (22 November 2007). "Denmark to Hold New Referendum on Euro". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-11-22. [dead link]^Charter, David (30 October 2008). "Denmark currency crisis prompts euro re-think '' Times Online". London: Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-22. ^Parker, George; Eaglesham, Jean and Benoit, Betrand (1 January 2003). "Danes face second referendum on joining euro". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-10-17. ^Danish PM says possible autumn referendum on EU opt-outs '-- EUbusiness.com '' business, legal and economic news and information from the European Union[dead link]^"Europa '' Nachrichten '' Kopenhagen strebt in die Euro-Zone". FTD.de. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-17. ^Lisbeth Kirk. "EUobserver.com". EUobserver.com. Retrieved 2010-12-17. ^"Besked om EU-afstemning efter sommer" (in Danish). Politiken. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-11. ^"Fogh aflyser EU-afstemninger" (in Danish). Politiken. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-07. ^"Fogh klar til eurovalg n...ste ¥r" (in Danish). Politiken. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-22. ^"S og R raser over L¸kkes EU-n¸l" (in Danish). DR. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-15. ^"L¸kke R.: Euro-vote this term?". Politiken. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. ^"L¸kke: Vi skal stemme om euroen" (in Danish). Politiken. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24. ^"Oppositionen vil stemme om EU-forbehold" (in Danish). Politiken. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-25. ^http://euobserver.com/9/31912/?rk=1^^http://politiken.dk/politik/ECE1211676/ekspert-loekkes-varslede-eu-afstemning-er-daarlig-timing/^http://politiken.dk/politik/ECE1212057/pia-kjaersgaard-loekke-taler-sort/^Pop, Valentina (4 October 2011). "New Danish government rolls back border controls". EUObserver.com. Retrieved 18 October 2011. ^Brand, Constant (13 October 2011). "Denmark scraps border-control plans". European Voice. Retrieved 18 October 2011. ^"Danish prime minister skips referendum commitments". EU Observer. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012. ^Lauritzen, Thomas; Jens Bostrup (26 June 2012). "Thorning udskyder afstemning om EU-forbehold". Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 26 June 2012. ^"Danish opposition agrees to quick EU referendum". 2013-08-12. Retrieved 2013-09-26. ^"PM rejects opposition call for swift EU referendum". Copenhagen Post. 2013-08-13. Retrieved 2013-09-26. ^Steensbeck, Bjarne (2014-10-07). "Regeringen g¸r klar til opg¸r med retsforbeholdet". DR. Retrieved 2014-10-08. ^"Danish PM postpones EU referendum". EurActive. 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2014-10-08. ^"Denmark moves closer to EU referendum on justice rules". Reuters. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2014-12-10. ^Motivations and consequences of the Danish CSDP opt-out (Revue Strat(C)gique n. 91''92): http://www.stratisc.org/Strategique_91-92_TDM.htm^Europolitics (7 November 2007). "Treaty of Lisbon '' Here is what changes!". Europolitics ' 3407. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-22. ^Politiken mener >> Blog Arkiv >> Hvorn¥r & hvordan - EU la carte[dead link]^Courrier internati onal, eurotopics : the european press in 3 languages[dead link]^sp?langue=uk&publication=16/01/2008&cat=POLITICS&pi=2#2 Courrier international, eurotopics : the european press in 3 languages[dead link]^"Danes Assess Reversion of EU Exemptions: Angus Reid Global Monitor". Retrieved 2008-08-07. ^ ab"Poll: Danes say no to euro". Politiken. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. ^The above mentioned percentages do not sum up to 100%; the option "doesn't know / doesn't want to answer" accounts for the difference. In a vote however (as opposed to a poll) only "yes" and "no" answers are counted, which means all the above questions would get an absolute majority of "yes" in favour of repealing the opt-outs. |url=http://img.borsen.dk/img/cms/cmsmedia/857_content_2_3900.pdf^Wienberg, Christian (27 September 2011). "Debt Crisis Pushes Danish Euro Opposition to Record, Poll Shows". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? - LA Times
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:53
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California's winter was as well.
As our ''wet'' season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too.
Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins '-- that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined '-- was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir.
Statewide, we've been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water '-- and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis.
Several steps need be taken right now. First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state's water sectors, from domestic and municipal through agricultural and industrial. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. There is no need for the rest of the state to hesitate. The public is ready. A recent Field Poll showed that 94% of Californians surveyed believe that the drought is serious, and that one-third support mandatory rationing.
Second, the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated. The law requires the formation of numerous, regional groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017. Then each agency must adopt a plan by 2022 and ''achieve sustainability'' 20 years after that. At that pace, it will be nearly 30 years before we even know what is working. By then, there may be no groundwater left to sustain.
Third, the state needs a task force of thought leaders that starts, right now, brainstorming to lay the groundwork for long-term water management strategies. Although several state task forces have been formed in response to the drought, none is focused on solving the long-term needs of a drought-prone, perennially water-stressed California.
Our state's water management is complex, but the technology and expertise exist to handle this harrowing future. It will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon. Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.
Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue. This crisis belongs to all of us '-- not just to a handful of decision-makers. Water is our most important, commonly owned resource, but the public remains detached from discussions and decisions.
This process works just fine when water is in abundance. In times of crisis, however, we must demand that planning for California's water security be an honest, transparent and forward-looking process. Most important, we must make sure that there is in fact a plan.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'd like to live in a state that has a paddle so that it might also still have a creek.
Jay Famiglietti is the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine.
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Starving & sick: Sea lion pups wash ashore in record numbers, global warming blamed '-- RT USA
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:37
Published time: March 13, 2015 23:02Rescued California sea lion pups rest in their holding pen at Sea World San Diego in San Diego, California (Reuters/Mike Blake)
More than 1,500 starving sea lion pups have washed ashore on the California coast this year, many of which are on the brink of death. Animal rescuers are overwhelmed with calls to save them. A weather phenomenon caused by global warming may be to blame.
The emaciated pups are arriving at more than five times the normal stranding rate in the Golden State, from the shores of San Diego up to San Francisco.
Many are sick with pneumonia. Parasites have swarmed their digestive systems. Some are so tired that they cannot scamper away when rescuers '' or predators such as dogs '' approach them, the New York Times reported.
''They come ashore because if they didn't, they would drown,'' Shawn Johnson, the director of veterinary science at Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, told the Times. ''They're just bones and skin. They're really on the brink of death.''
Peter Wallerstein, director of Marine Animal Rescue in Los Angeles County, said his center is overwhelmed by the record number of sea lions in need of help.
''I'm just dealing with it one animal at a time, as best as we can,'' Wallerstein said in an interview with Yahoo News. ''We rescued four today [even though] we are limited to three a day because the rehab center is so full. We had to leave some adults on the beach. It's like a paramedic not having a hospital to bring a patient.''
''It's the highest number I've had in 29 years of rescues,'' he said. ''We get like 50 calls a day on sea lions.''
"I've had more than 200 so far this year," Wallerstein told KNBC. "So, we've doubled our rescues and there seems to be no end in sight."
''There are so many calls, we just can't respond to them all,'' Justin Viezbicke, who oversees stranding issues in California for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said on a conference call with reporters. ''The reality is, we just can't get to these animals.''
SeaWorld announced last Friday that it was canceling its sea lion and otter show for at least two weeks. Instead of performing, the trainers will help the park's Animal Rescue team to provide aid to the sea lions stranded along the San Diego coastline.
"SeaWorld's entire zoological staff is working tirelessly to save the lives of these emaciated and ill animals. [We] have already rescued more than 400 sea lions in 2015, which is more than twice the number of marine mammal rescues the park would average in a typical year," the theme park said in a statement. "While the temporary closure of the sea lion and otter show may be a minor inconvenience to guests, we feel that it is important to ensure we provide the highest level of care necessary to give these stranded sea lions a second chance at life.''
Experts believe this year's El Ni±o-type conditions '' bands of abnormally warm water have swept up the Pacific Coast since the waning months of 2014 '' might be responsible for driving sea lion prey deeper into the sea.
"It's been a really unusually warm year, and disruptive to the normal marine food web, from Baja all the way up to Alaska," Nate Mantua, a climatologist with NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center, told National Geographic.
NOAA has not officially declared an El Ni±o, however.
With the animals' prey further away from their nesting grounds on the Channel Islands '' an eight-island chain off the Southern California coast '' mothers are leaving their pups for longer periods of time to hunt for food. The babies then begin to starve.
''The prey source is just too far away for the mothers to go out, get food and come back and wean the pups,'' Jim Milbury of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) told Yahoo News.
The pups then try to fend for themselves, but they are too young to travel far, dive deep or truly hunt on their own, scientists told the Times.
The sea lions are turning up under fishing piers and in backyards, along inlets and on rocky cliffs. One was found curled up in a flower pot.
Even the pups that remain on the Channel Islands are suffering. The NMFS '' a part of NOAA '' found that pups on the eight islands were 44 percent underweight, Common Dreams reported. Sharon Melin, a NMFS wildlife biologist, blamed climate change.
"The environment is changing too rapidly," Melin said. ''Their life history is so much slower that it's not keeping up.''
The ocean is up to five degrees warmer in the northeast Pacific and off the West Coast '' probably a record, Mantua told the Associated Press. The same high-pressure system has caused has a four-year drought in the state.
The world experienced record-breaking ocean temperatures in 2014, and, for the first time, the rising measurements were not due to an El Ni±o phenomenon at the beginning of the year.
Sea change (idiom) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:38
Sea-change or seachange, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means "a change wrought by the sea."  The term originally appears in William Shakespeare's The Tempest in a song sung by a supernatural spirit, Ariel, to Ferdinand, a prince of Naples, after Ferdinand's father's apparent death by drowning:
"Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,Those are pearls that were his eyes,Nothing of him that doth fade,But doth suffer a sea-change,into something rich and strange,Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell."The term sea-change is therefore often used to mean a metamorphosis or alteration. For example, a literary character may transform over time into a better person after undergoing various trials or tragedies (e.g. "There is a sea change in Scrooge's personality towards the end of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.") As with the term Potemkin village, sea-change has also been used in business culture. In the United States, sea-change is often used as a corporate buzzword. In this context, it need not refer to a substantial or significant transformation, but can indicate a far less impressive change.
Safire, William (February 13, 1994). "ON LANGUAGE; Downsize That Special Sea Change". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2014. Rich and Strange: Gender, History, Modernism. pp. 3- (preview page 4 not shown in preview)The Absent Shakespeare. pp. 131''132.Data Protection: Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance. p. xx.Complexity, Management and the Dynamics of Change: Challenges for Practice. p. 78.The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups. p. 509.Shakespeare Survey, Volume 24. p. 106.
Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users - NYTimes.com
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:30
SAN FRANCISCO '-- TODAY, we're filing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency to protect the rights of the 500 million people who use Wikipedia every month. We're doing so because a fundamental pillar of democracy is at stake: the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Our lawsuit says that the N.S.A.'s mass surveillance of Internet traffic on American soil '-- often called ''upstream'' surveillance '-- violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right to privacy, as well as the First Amendment, which protects the freedoms of expression and association. We also argue that this agency activity exceeds the authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress amended in 2008.
Most people search and read Wikipedia anonymously, since you don't need an account to view its tens of millions of articles in hundreds of languages. Every month, at least 75,000 volunteers in the United States and around the world contribute their time and passion to writing those articles and keeping the site going '-- and growing.
On our servers, run by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, those volunteers discuss their work on everything from Tiananmen Square to gay rights in Uganda. Many of them prefer to work anonymously, especially those who work on controversial issues or who live in countries with repressive governments.
These volunteers should be able to do their work without having to worry that the United States government is monitoring what they read and write. Unfortunately, their anonymity is far from certain because, using upstream surveillance, the N.S.A. intercepts and searches virtually all of the international text-based traffic that flows across the Internet ''backbone'' inside the United States. This is the network of fiber-optic cables and junctions that connect Wikipedia with its global community of readers and editors.
As a result, whenever someone overseas views or edits a Wikipedia page, it's likely that the N.S.A. is tracking that activity '-- including the content of what was read or typed, as well as other information that can be linked to the person's physical location and possible identity. These activities are sensitive and private: They can reveal everything from a person's political and religious beliefs to sexual orientation and medical conditions.
The notion that the N.S.A. is monitoring Wikipedia's users is not, unfortunately, a stretch of the imagination. One of the documents revealed by the whistle-blower Edward J. Snowden specifically identified Wikipedia as a target for surveillance, alongside several other major websites like CNN.com, Gmail and Facebook. The leaked slide from a classified PowerPoint presentation declared that monitoring these sites could allow N.S.A. analysts to learn ''nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet.''
The harm to Wikimedia and the hundreds of millions of people who visit our websites is clear: Pervasive surveillance has a chilling effect. It stifles freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge that Wikimedia was designed to enable.
During the 2011 Arab uprisings, Wikipedia users collaborated to create articles that helped educate the world about what was happening. Continuing cooperation between American and Egyptian intelligence services is well established; the director of Egypt's main spy agency under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi boasted in 2013 that he was ''in constant contact'' with the Central Intelligence Agency.
So imagine, now, a Wikipedia user in Egypt who wants to edit a page about government opposition or discuss it with fellow editors. If that user knows the N.S.A. is routinely combing through her contributions to Wikipedia, and possibly sharing information with her government, she will surely be less likely to add her knowledge or have that conversation, for fear of reprisal.
And then imagine this decision playing out in the minds of thousands of would-be contributors in other countries. That represents a loss for everyone who uses Wikipedia and the Internet '-- not just fellow editors, but hundreds of millions of readers in the United States and around the world.
In the lawsuit we're filing with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, we're joining as a fellow plaintiff a broad coalition of human rights, civil society, legal, media and information organizations. Their work, like ours, requires them to engage in sensitive Internet communications with people outside the United States.
That is why we're asking the court to order an end to the N.S.A.'s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic.
Privacy is an essential right. It makes freedom of expression possible, and sustains freedom of inquiry and association. It empowers us to read, write and communicate in confidence, without fear of persecution. Knowledge flourishes where privacy is protected.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is a board member of the Wikimedia Foundation, of which Lila Tretikov is the executive director.
Wikipedia Sues NSA Over Dragnet Internet Surveillance - The Intercept
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:30
Wikipedia is suing the NSA over surveillance programs that involve tapping internet traffic en masse from communications infrastructure in the U.S. in order to search it for intelligence purposes.
The lawsuit argues that this broad surveillance, revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, violates the First Amendment by chilling speech and the open exchange of information, and that it also runs up against Fourth Amendment privacy protections.
''The surveillance that we're challenging gives the government virtually unfettered access to U.S. communications and the content of those communications,'' said Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is bringing the litigation on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, and a group of human rights and media organizations including The Nation magazine and Amnesty International, who say that their sensitive overseas communications are imperiled by the NSA's snooping.
So-called ''upstream'' surveillance involves direct access to the physical cables, switches, and routers that enable the flow of information across the internet. With its upstream efforts, the agency essentially copies virtually all international text-based communications '-- emails, instant messages, web searches, and the like '-- and searches them for terms related to its investigations. In the process, purely domestic conversations can also be swept up and retained by the NSA.
''The NSA copies and reviews the communications of millions of innocent people to determine whether they are discussing or reading anything containing the NSA's search terms,'' ACLU lawyers wrote in their complaint filed today in the United States District Court in Maryland. ''Its purpose is to identify not just communications that are to or from the NSA's targets but also those that are merely 'about' its targets.''
In an op-ed in today's New York Times announcing the lawsuit, Wikipedia's co-founder, Jimmy Wales, and Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, cited the tens of thousands of volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia entries around the world.
Many of those volunteer contributors, they note, ''prefer to work anonymously, especially those who work on controversial issues or who live in countries with repressive governments.'' The fear that the NSA could be collecting information on contributors, and perhaps sharing that intelligence with other governments, ''stifles freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge that Wikimedia was designed to enable.''
With billions of users worldwide, Wikipedia processes countless international communications and requests for data from its servers. As one NSA slide from the Snowden files indicates, the NSA is interested in HTTP, the protocol for those requests, ''because nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet uses'' it. The slide includes a picture of Wikipedia's logo. (An administration official told Reuters, ''We've been very clear about what constitutes a valid target of electronic surveillance. The act of innocuously updating or reading an online article does not fall into that category.'')
Upstream collection occurs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, a law passed in the 1970s to regulate overseas spying, and amended in 2008 to allow collection of Americans' international communications under more expansive terms '' so long as the NSA's target is a foreigner outside the U.S., and it involves broadly defined ''foreign intelligence information.''
In addition to constitutional questions, the new lawsuit argues that the 2008 law, expansive though it is, still ''authorizes surveillance only of targets' communications; it does not authorize surveillance of everyone.''
Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman with the Justice Department, said in an email that the department is ''reviewing the complaint.''
If the case moves forward at all, it will reflect the impact of Snowden's revelations.
A previous challenge by Amnesty International and others to warrantless spying on Americans' international conversations was tossed out because the court said the plaintiffs couldn't prove that their communications could be monitored under the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. The Supreme Court upheld that decision in February 2013, just a few months before the first Snowden documents were published.
The Snowden documents, and subsequent admissions by the government, said Toomey, ''have made clear that the government it not just monitoring targets, but that in order to find the communications of those targets it is monitoring the communications of nearly everyone. That broadens the scope of the surveillance at issue, and removes some of the obstacles [to getting standing] that we encountered in the previous case.''
Separate challenges to the constitutionality of collecting metadata on domestic calls, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, are awaiting decisions in three federal appeals courts.
Photo: Gregory Bull/AP
Rearranging the Chairs at CIA | Consortiumnews
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:49
CIA Director Brennan wants to make his mark on the spy agency by shifting around the lines of authority to merge analysts and operatives into specialized ''mission centers,'' but the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages, according to ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By Paul R. Pillar
Re-arranging bureaucracies has long been a favorite Washington way of pretending to make improvements. It is a handy recourse in the absence of good ideas to make real improvement.
Revising a wiring diagram is the sort of change that can be made visible to the outside world. It does not require reaching consensus about significant increases or decreases in the priority given particular programs or their budgets. It offers a basis for convincing ourselves that the bureaucracies involved will perform better, even if the main reasons we don't get everything we would like to get from those bureaucracies are to be found in the inherent, unavoidable challenges of the tasks they are assigned to perform.
CIA Director John Brennan.
The urge to reorganize is not limited to government. Revising wiring diagrams is alluring to senior managers in private sector organizations as well. It is a way of showing initiative and appearing to be dedicated both to improving the organization and keeping pace with changes in the outside world. It is one of the most visible ways for any senior manager to leave a mark and establish a legacy.
Now the Central Intelligence Agency is being hit again with the reorganization bug, with changes that Director John Brennan announced last week. The intelligence community has been subjected to this sort of thing at least as much as other parts of the federal bureaucracy.
The most notable instance was a reorganization of the community a decade ago as the most visible part of the 9/11 Commission's response to a popular demand to shake things up after a terrible terrorist attack. That change added new bureaucracy on top of continuing old organizations, and in the years since has given us little or no reason to believe that it was a net improvement.
The principal feature of the changes that Brennan announced is to move all of the agency's operational and analytical work, and not just selected parts of it, into integrated ''mission centers'' covering issue areas defined either geographically or functionally.
As with most other reorganizations, both criticism and praise tend to be overstated. Any change in a bureaucracy's performance, for good or for ill, resulting from changing the wiring diagram will not be nearly as pronounced as either critics or promoters usually would lead us to believe.
A criticism of this newest reorganization, for example, is that it would lead to still more focus on current doings at the expense of longer-range analysis. But within each issue area there is no reason to believe that worthwhile long-range analysis cannot be done in the mission centers.
Another line of criticism involves a feared compromise of the integrity of analysis because of overly close association of the analysts with operators. This would only be a problem, however, where covert action is involved.
Although some unfortunate experiences involving Central America in the 1980s demonstrate the corrupting potential, covert action '-- despite the public image of what the CIA does '-- constitutes a small (and usually well-compartmented) portion of the agency's work.
There is a substantial hazard of policy preferences influencing analysis stemming from relations with policy-makers, but that is a separate matter from relations between analysts and operators within an intelligence agency.
The justification for the changes is also overstated '-- or fuzzy and hardly compelling. MarkMazzetti's article in the New York Times about the announced changes mentions that Brennan relied heavily on ''management jargon'' to try to explain and justify what he was doing. There were all the unsurprising buzzwords about needing to ''wring inefficiencies'' out of the system and having to modernize and about not wanting to become as obsolete as Kodak, but how this makes one particular wiring diagram better than another one is difficult to see.
Brennan talked about the ''array of very challenging, complex and serious threats to our national security'' '-- the sort of language that any CIA director, at any time, uses '-- but what does that say about the supposed advantages of a particular organizational scheme? He said a central aim was to eliminate ''seams'' in coverage, but aren't there seams in any organizational arrangement, including the seams that will exist between the mission centers?
The particular organizational issues involving the CIA entail, as many such issues in other organizations do, inherent trade-offs, with each possible wiring diagram presenting both advantages and disadvantages when compared to other possible schemes.
The main advantage of the announced new arrangement is to make the interface between analysts and collectors working on the same substantive issue as close and smooth as possible. This helps the analysts to understand better the sources of some of the information on which they are relying, and it helps the collectors to understand how the information they are collecting is being used and where are the most important information gaps that still need to be filled.
A significant disadvantage is that bureaucratizing whatever is considered at the moment to be worthy of its own mission center makes for a less flexible and less nimble organization as issues change and especially as new (and sometimes difficult to recognize initially as important) issues emerge.
The seeds of future intelligence failures can be found in the seams between the centers. Interface is important not just between collectors and analysts but also between analysts working issues that are different but may turn out to be related in important ways.
Another set of disadvantages stems from breaking up what would otherwise have been critical masses of people working in the same discipline and with the same skill set. Doing so is generally not conducive to enhancing specialized skills, whether those skills involve the craft of espionage, or of analysis, or something else.
Particular mission centers, depending on who leads them and what are the relative weights of different types of people assigned to them, may tend to be co-opted by certain disciplines at the expense of the necessary professional care and feeding of those in other disciplines.
The further separation of missions and operational control from the management of employees' careers (and the new scheme will retain existing directorates, including those for operations and for analysis, for that latter purpose) will tend to exacerbate issues of personnel management, including loosening the tie between effective contribution to a specific assigned mission and reward in the form of promotions. Retention of the existing directorate structure in addition to more mission centers also makes the whole organizational structure of the agency more complicated.
A principle too rarely recognized is that the advantages of a new organizational structure are uncertain (when compared to the existing structure, which is apt to have to have evolved over time as experience has shown what works and what doesn't), but the costs and disruptions associated with any major reorganization are certain and substantial.
The disruption involves everything from having to forge new relationships with bosses, co-workers, and customers, to having to figure out exactly where new lines of responsibility are to be drawn. Rather than impeding accomplishment of the mission with such disruption, it often is better just to let people get on with their jobs '-- although anyone who makes this observation risks being rebuked as a stuck-in-the-mud resistor of change.
In the face of the inevitable trade-offs, the current organizational arrangement in the CIA, in which there are some integrated centers for selected issues such as terrorism but not for everything, is probably a reasonable compromise.
Unmentioned in much of the commentary so far on the announced changes is how much had already been done, outside the centers, to enhance communication and cooperation between collectors and analysts. This includes physical changes made years ago to locate in adjacent office space the analysts and operations officers working on the same geographic areas.
What we most need to be wary of with these latest announced changes in the CIA's organization is not some wave of corrupting influences that will destroy the integrity of analysis. We should instead ask whether this is yet another of the many examples of a senior manager using reorganization to try to make his mark and leave a legacy, especially a legacy that won't be centered on unflattering matters such as strained relations with Congressional oversight committees.
Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency's top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest's Web site. Reprinted with author's permission.)
Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was filmed stalking streets before laying explosive | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:13
Footage compiled by FBI shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on day of bombingSeen walking through Boston with brother Tamerlan before twin blastsTsarnaev stops outside restaurant, calls brother and waits for explosionWhile shocked crowds turn to look, he escapes before second blastSecurity footage has him still in the frame when deadly blast occurs Later seen running through the streets without his backpackTsarnaev, who is facing death penalty, admits carrying out the attackDefense attorneys say he was influenced by his older brother, who was killed days later in a gun battleBy Kieran Corcoran For Dailymail.com and Associated Press
Published: 21:53 EST, 9 March 2015 | Updated: 04:43 EST, 10 March 2015
New surveillance footage of a Boston bomber laying an explosive then fleeing the scene has been shown in court.
Footage shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walking through the city before pausing near the finish line, where he dropped an explosive charge that killed an eight-year-old boy.
He is seen standing in the crowd for several minutes, before calling his brother, Tamerlan. Shortly after the call, the first bomb explodes - at which point he pushes his way through the stunned crowd.
Tsarnaev managed to clear the blast zone in the 12 seconds between the first bomb exploding and his going off - but is still in the shot from a surveillance camera at the scene.
Scroll down for videos
Shock: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, cirlced top left, is pictured above in FBI surveillance video standing in a crowd the moment the first bomb goes off at the Boston marathon. While most of the crowd looks towards the blast, he heads off in the other direction
Explosion: Pictured above is the moment Tsarnaev's pressure cooker bomb exploded. It killed two people and wounded dozens more
Killer: The blast ended the life of 8-year-old Martin Richard, and also robbed his sister of one of her legs
New surveillance footage: Boston bomber fleeing explosion
Some 12 seconds later, a second explosion takes place precisely where he was standing. He is later shown running from the scene without the backpack he was carrying earlier.
It is unclear exactly how the bomb was detonated - though early claims that it primitive kitchen-timer device seem to be endorsed by the fact that Tsarnaev was still fleeing when the bomb went off.
The blast killed eight-year-old Martin Richard, as well as Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old student. Martin's younger sister, Jane, lost a leg in the blast and hundreds were injured.
The footage was shown to jurors weighing up whether to sentence Tsarnaev to death for the bombing - which his lawyers do not deny he did.
The video - nine and a half minutes in total - was compiled by FBI investigators from surveillance footage around the city.
Plotting: Dzhokhar, circled in white, is pictured here before the blasts. His brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a gun battle days later, is circled in black
Surveillance shows Tsarnaev brothers at Boston Marathon
It shows both brothers walking the streets before splitting up to set down the pressure cooker bombs near the finish line on April 15, 2013.
He is the only surviving bomber, as Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a gun battle days after the attacks.
Defense attorneys have argued that Tamerlan persuaded his brother to carry out the attacks, and as such he is not as culpable.
Seconds later, the second bomb explodes, and Tsarnaev, who prosecutors say detonated the second bomb, is seen running with a crowd of people who also are running. People are also shown jumping over metal barriers as smoke wafts over the scene.
In wait: Tsarnaev is pictured above just down the street from the site of the bomb blast
Approaching: Tsarnaev, circled in white, is seen here walking up to the spot where he dropped the explosive
Less than 30 minutes later, Tsarnaev calmly walked into a Whole Foods store in Cambridge and bought a half-gallon of milk. Jurors also saw store surveillance video of him making the purchase.
Prosecutors also showed jurors tweets from what they identified as two accounts of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
'If you have the knowledge and the inspiration all that's left is to take action,' he tweeted April 7, a little over a week before the bombings.
'I want the highest levels of Jannah,' he tweeted March 10, referring to the Islamic concept of paradise. 'I want to be able to see allah every single day for that is the best of pleasures.'
In January, three months before the bombings, he tweeted: 'I don't argue with folks who say islam is terrorism it's not worth a thing, let an idiot remain an idiot.'
Jurors also heard from victims of the bombing.
Jessica Kensky told how she and her husband, Patrick Downes, each lost a left leg in the 2013 attack. After more than 18 months of surgeries and consultations with doctors around the country, she came to the painful conclusion that her right leg would have to be amputated, too, she said.
On the run: This FBI video shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fleeing the scene of the Boston bombing after setting his explosive. He was pictured carrying the backpack earlier in the day
Fleeing: Tsarnaev is pictured again, highlighted above, fleeing from the carnage he helped create
Facing death: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is picturted above with a defense attorney in a court sketch from Monday 9 March. Federal prosecutors hope to secure the death penalty against him for his role in the bombings
Chilling: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tweeted this message around two hours after he detonated the bomb
'I did not want to become a bilateral amputee,' Kensky said. 'I wanted to paint my toenails, I wanted to put my feet in the sand, and I wanted to do all these things. To lose the second leg was a gut-wrenching, devastating decision.'
Also testifying Monday was a woman whose close friend, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, died in the second bomb blast.
Danling Zhou said Lu grabbed her arm after the first bomb exploded, looking panicked, and said 'What happened?' and 'What should we do?'
Before Zhou could answer her, the second bomb exploded.
Zhou said she looked in front of her and saw a man whose legs had been blown off. When she looked at Lu, she thought she would be OK because she seemed to still have her arms and legs, Zhou said.
Trial: Tsarnaev's case is being heard at The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston
She found out later in the hospital that Lu had died. Both women grew up in China and were graduate students at Boston University.
Prosecutors say the Tsarnaevs carried out the bombing to retaliate against the U.S. for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During opening statements, a prosecutor cited a hand-scrawled note Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left on the walls of the boat he was captured hiding in and said he believed 'he was a solider in a holy war against Americans' and had 'taken a step toward reaching paradise.'
Three people died and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs filled with shrapnel exploded near the finish line.
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New surveillance footage traces route of alleged Boston bombers | KFOR.com
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 06:19
BOSTON (CNN) '-- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's own words may determine whether he lives or dies, even if he never speaks a word at his trial.
The admitted Boston Marathon bomber has sat in silence as people who lost limbs sobbed or glared at him from the witness stand. He slouched in his chair as jurors watched videos of him both before and after two nail-packed pressure cooker bombs exploded, killing three people, claiming 17 limbs and hurting more than 260 others.
He didn't utter a peep as his tweets and words he had scribbled on the side of a pleasure boat flashed up on a big screen and were quoted in court.
At issue: Was Tsarnaev a terrorist looking to punish the United States for policies he believed were harmful to Muslims? Or, was he a goofball stoner who simply followed the lead of his older, more radical brother?
The defense team tried to portray Tsarnaev as a confused college kid who, like countless others, watches Comedy Central and cracks crass jokes. ''I wanna study a broad or two,'' he posted on his Twitter account as @J_tsar. He jokes about not seeing commercials featuring the Trix rabbit, and about ''whale watching'' outside a McDonald's fast-food restaurant.
Miriam Conrad, a member of his defense team, tried Tuesday to apply a more benign spin on tweets the government contends show him as a would-be jihadist eager for martyrdom and a free pass to paradise.
His brother was dead and police knew who he was; they were scouring the Boston suburb of Watertown for Tsarnaev when he slipped under a tarp and climbed aboard the Slip Away II, a fishing boat dry-docked in a Watertown backyard. He hid for hours before being discovered.
Bleeding, he picked up a pencil and wrote what Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb called his ''manifesto.''
Tsarnaev wrote he was jealous that his brother, Tamerlan, had achieved paradise by dying like a holy warrior; he was killed the night before during a gunbattle with police. The indictment against him says Tsarnaev helped in his brother's demise by running him over and dragging him along the road as he tried to run down police.
About the bombings, Tsarnaev wrote on the boat that he didn't enjoy killing innocent civilians, but that circumstances excused it.
''The US Government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that,'' he wrote. ''Know you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven, now how can you compete with that. We are promised victory and we will surely get it.''
Streaks of blood cover portions of his message. More than a dozen bullet holes obliterate parts of words. So ended one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history.
While in the boat, he wrote that he couldn't stand to see the U.S. government ''go unpunished'' for killing Muslims. ''We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.''
He ended with: ''Now I don't like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said '' '-- the word was lost to a bullet hole '-- ''it is allowed.''
Judge George O'Toole viewed the boat Tuesday afternoon so he could rule on a defense request to show the entire boat ''in context'' to the jury. He turned down requests by the media to accompany him.
The defense said the government only presented about 45 tweets out of about 1,100. Many were benign, about girls, cars and food as well as sleeping and disliking studying, the defense argued.
On Monday, FBI agent Steven Kimball testified about two Twitter accounts used by Tsarnaev. One account shows he tweeted on the day of the April 15, 2013, bombing:
''Ain't no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people''
His last tweet was on April 17. He sent it while on the run:
''I'm a stress free kind of guy''
His other account carried seven tweets, including this:
''strive to be a better muslim, be greedy with your time, devote most of it to the Almighty for it is his satisfaction that you need #islam''
The jury also has now seen Tsarnaev in videos, trailing his brother onto Boylston Street. Both carried heavy backpacks. He paused for four minutes, standing next to a tree in front of the Forum restaurant. In front of him stood a line of children who were leaning over the barricade and watching the race. He put his backpack down at his feet and made a phone call.
When his brother's bomb went off a block away, heads swiveled in surprise in the direction of the noise. And there was Tsarnaev walking through the crowd, looking back over his shoulder as his own bomb went off 12 seconds later. Martin Richard, an 8-year-old standing in the line of kids, took the full brunt of the blast, which tore him apart.
The bombs went off at 2:49 and 2:50 p.m., about the same time as he exchanged phone calls with his brother. The next video showed Tsarnaev in the crowd running. Other videos show him carrying on as usual: buying milk and swiping his card at his college gym. But FBI agents were already in pursuit, collecting store security videos and looking for somebody suspicious in the marathon crowd.
By Wednesday night, authorities had a good idea who they were looking for. By Thursday night, his photo had been released to the public. By the next morning, his brother was dead, and Tsarnaev was hiding in the boat, writing of martyrdom and paradise.
The Boston Marathon bombing trial: not a question of guilt or innocence but life or death
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:07
Bombing survivor Marc Fucarile leaves first day of Boston trial Brian Snyder/ReutersThe trial of the Boston Marathon bomber started with an eye-opening twist on March 4, 2015. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyer melodramatically announced in open court that ''it WAS him'' who planted one of the bombs that killed three, maimed dozens and terrified an entire city.
This admission of guilt is, however, not the equivalent of the entry of a plea of guilty, as might come about through a plea bargain with the government. (In which case the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a sentence of life).
The case is thus no longer directly about guilt or innocence, although the jury will still have to find beyond a reasonable doubt that each count has been proven.
Now, it's all about the sentence.
Does the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserve to die for his crimes? Or should he serve life in prison without possibility of parole? This is what the federal jury will decide.
The factsThe basic facts of this case are not in doubt. Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan planted two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.
In the resulting explosions, three people were killed, including a young boy, and hundreds were seriously injured. This crime was committed to avenge alleged offenses by the United States against Muslims and ''innocent civilians.'' In June 2013, the United States obtained a 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar; 17 counts carried the death penalty.
As I pointed out in my book on the historic 2004-2005 Hearings into whether or not the death penalty should be re-instated in New York state, the United States Supreme Court has said that the death penalty primarily serves three purposes: retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation.
The criteria for the death penaltyRetribution concerns moral equivalency and society's right to inflict the harshest punishment available in our criminal justice system - death - on behalf of victims and their families. In fact, the Supreme Court has refused to authorize capital punishment for crimes short of murder.
Under the Eighth Amendment ''cruel and unusual punishments'' clause, only the ''worst of the worst'' killers may be executed. The manner of the killing and the characteristics and culpability of the defendant must be carefully assessed. In 2005, for example, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juvenile offenders.
With deterrence, we ask: would execution of this 21 year old deter other terrorists from committing similar crimes? Whether the death penalty actually deters continues to be hotly debated, but it will surely be argued in Tsarnaev's case that dedicated jihadists will not only not be deterred but are prepared for death as a path to matyrdom.
The final question regarding incapacitation is a straightforward one to answer: an executed murderer can never kill again.
The judge and jury in Tsarnaev's trial must agree that one or more of these justifications for the death penalty is present in the case.
The importance of federal involvementIt is critically important that the Tsarnaev prosecution is being brought by the United States and not the state of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts excludes the death penalty as a sentence in a murder case. Indeed, polls showed that Massachusetts citizens generally opposed charging Dzhokhar with capital murder (a crime eligible for the death penalty.)
Outside the Boston courtBrian Snyder/Reuters
But, none of that matters in a federal prosecution. Federal law '' the anti-terrorism laws of the United States '' provides multiple categories of death penality-eligible crimes. These include such acts as using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy to bomb a place of public use. These categories have been aggressively invoked by federal prosecutors in the indictments in this case.
Defense counsel strategy for the remainder of this trial is to make out Dzhokhar as a pawn of his older brother. Because of that, the argument will go, his culpability is insufficient to support a capital sentence.
Will the facts show that he was substantially under Tamerlan's influence or was he independently motivated to kill Americans?
Did his youth, apparent timidity, or simplistic views on American military actions remove him from the ''worst of the worst'' category of killers? Or, is he in the same category as terrorists like the assassin ''Jihadi John,'' or the leader of Al-Shabaab?
By starting off its case with victim testimony, the prosecution is painting the picture of a cruel, heartless and unremorseful killer, the ''worst of the worst,'' who caused the death of three innocent people, including a young boy.
The government is saying, in other words, that this is a case of simple justice in which the death penalty is the only fair sentence for one whose crimes have caused so much suffering.
Republish this articleWe believe in the free flow of information. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives license, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print.
RepublishTagsBoston Marathon Bombing, death penalty
Related articlesAustralian man Van Tuong Nguyen was executed for drug trafficking in Singapore in 2005.Mick Tsikas/AAPByPip Nicholson, University of Melbourne
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan inside a holding cell as they wait for their final appeal against the death sentence at Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia in 2010.EPA/Made NagiByKate Seear, Monash University
Joko Widodo is unmoved by international pressure to halt executions in Indonesia.EPA/Francis R. MalasigByYohanes Sulaiman, Indonesian Defense University
It is hard to understand exactly where Indonesia under Joko Widodo stands on the death penalty.EPA/Mast IrhamByTim Lindsey, University of Melbourne
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U.S. President Barack Obama Brands Venezuela a "Security Threat," Implements New Sanctions | venezuelanalysis.com
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:51
Caracas, March 9, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) '' U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order this Monday slapping Venezuela with new sanctions and declaring the Bolivarian nation an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security".
The sanctions target seven individuals accused by the White House of alleged human rights violations and "public corruption", freezing their assets and barring entry into the U.S.
The figures include Justo Jose Noguera Pietri, President of the state entity, the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG) and Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron, a national level prosecutor currently taking the lead in the trials of several Venezuelan political opposition leaders, including Leopoldo Lopez.
The executive order is the latest in a series of U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela over the past few months. On February 3, the Obama administration expanded the list of Venezuelan officials barred from entering the U.S., which now includes the Chief Prosecutor Luis Ortega Diaz.
"Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems," announced White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The U.S. has failed thus far to disclose evidence that might bolster its claims of human rights violations, leading Venezuelan and other regional leaders to condemn what they regard as the arbitrary and political character of U.S. sanctions.
While regional bodies such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) have called for dialogue, Washington has so far refused to support negotiations or to recognise the organisation's stance.
"We will continue to work closely with others in the region to support greater political expression in Venezuela, and to encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to its shared commitment, as articulated in the OAS Charter, the Inter American Democratic Charter, and other relevant instruments related to democracy and human rights," reads the latest White House statement.
The order goes on to call for the release of all "political prisoners" allegedly held by the Venezuelan government, including "dozens of students".
The Venezuelan government, for its part, maintains that all of those arrested are in the process of facing trial for criminal offences linked to violent destabilization efforts spearheaded by the opposition.
Former Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma was arrested last month on charges of conspiracy and sedition related to the February 12 thwarted "Blue Coup" attempt. A Venezuelan judge found sufficient evidence linking the opposition figure to air force officials involved in the coup as well as to rightwing terrorist leaders such as Lorent Saleh, who was extradited by Colombian authorities to face charges last year.
The other high profile Venezuelan opposition leader currently facing trial is Leopoldo L"pez, who was indicted for his role in leading several months of violent opposition protests last year with the aim of effecting the "exit", or ouster, of the constitutional government. Known as the "guarimbas", these violent protests and street barricades caused the death of 43 people, the majority of whom were security personnel or Chavistas.
Ledezma and L"pez, together with far right leader Maria Corina Machado, were active in the 2002 coup against then president Hugo Chvez, which succeeded in temporarily ousting the Venezuelan leader until he was restored by a popular uprising.
All three opposition leaders also signed a "National Transition Agreement" released on the day prior to February's "Blue Coup" attempt, describing the government of Nicolas Maduro as in its "terminal phase" and declaring the need to "name new authorities" without mentioning elections or other constitutional mechanisms. Many political commentators interpreted the document as an open call for a coup against the president.
The Venezuelan government has charged the U.S. government with hypocrisy on the issue of human rights, and in particular the mass repression and incarceration of Afrodescendent communities in the U.S.
On February 28, President Maduro announced new measures imposing a reciprocal travel visa requirements on U.S. citizens seeking to enter Venezuela as well as mandating a reduction in U.S. embassy staff to levels that match the number of Venezuelan personnel in Washington.
Maduro also announced the creation of an "anti-terrorist list" of individuals barred from entering Venezuela, which will include former U.S. officials such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who have reportedly "committed human rights violations."
Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, has confirmed that the Bolivarian government will soon issue an official response to the order.
Published on Mar 9th 2015 at 4.42pm
Letter -- Declaration of a National Emergency with Respect to Venezuela
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:40
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Mr. President:)
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the "order") declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. The order does not target the people of Venezuela, but rather is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption in that country. In addition to taking action under IEEPA, the order implements the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-278) (the "Act"), which I signed on December 18, 2014, and delegates certain of its authorities.
The order blocks the property and interests in property of persons listed in an Annex to the order and would block the property and interests in property of any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:o actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions;
o significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;
o actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or
o public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;
to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in the order or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order;to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela; to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of:o a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order; or
o an activity described in the order; or
to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.In addition, the order suspends entry into the United States of any alien listed in the Annex or determined to meet one or more of the above criteria.
I have delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and relevant provisions of the Act as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the order, other than the provision suspending entry into the United States of certain aliens, and to carry out the related provisions of the Act. I have delegated to the Secretary of State the authority to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and relevant provisions of the Act as may be necessary to carry out the provision of the order and the Act suspending entry into the United States of certain aliens and the authority to issue waivers under the Act. All executive agencies are directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of the order.
I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.
Statement by the Press Secretary on Venezuela
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:39
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 09, 2015
Today President Obama issued a new Executive Order to implement and expand upon the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.
We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent. We have consistently called on the Venezuelan government to release those it has unjustly jailed as well as to improve the climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. These are essential to a functioning democracy, and the Venezuelan government has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms. The Venezuelan government should release all political prisoners, including dozens of students, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma.
The only way to solve Venezuela's problems is through real dialogue '' not detaining opponents and attempting to silence critics. The Venezuelan people deserve a government that lives up to its commitment to democracy, as articulated in the OAS Charter, the Inter American Democratic Charter, and other fundamental instruments related to democracy and human rights.
We've seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces.
It is unfortunate that during a time when we have opened up engagement with every nation in the Americas, Venezuela has opted to go in the opposite direction. Despite the difficulties in our official relationship, the United States remains committed to maintaining our strong and lasting ties with the people of Venezuela and is open to improving our relationship with the Venezuelan government.
Venezuela Sounds Alarm after Obama Invokes International Emergency Act
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:33
Santa Elena, March 10th, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com)- Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez sent an alert to international solidarity groups this afternoon, indicating that recent actions taken by the US government are meant to justify "intervention," and do not correspond with international law.
The warning came within 24 hours of an address made by US president Barack Obama, in which Venezuela was labeled an "unusual and extraordinary threat to [US] national security".
While slapping a new set of sanctions on the South American nation, Obama declared a national emergency, invoking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) against Venezuela. Other states which currently have the IEEPA invoked against them include; Iran, Myanmar, Sudan, Russia, Zimbabwe, Syria, Belarus and North Korea.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro responded to the move yesterday evening by describing it as the most aggressive step the US has taken against Venezuela to date.
The Venezuelan leader branded the declarations as ''hypocritical,'' asserting that the United States poses a much bigger threat to the world.
''You are the real threat, who trained and created Osama Bin Laden'... '' said Maduro, referring to Bin Laden's CIA training during the late 1970s to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
He also remarked upon ''double standards'' in the White House's accusations that Venezuela has violated human rights in its treatment of anti-government protestors.
''Defend the human rights of the black U.S. citizens being killed in U.S. cities every day, Mr. Obama,'' he said.
''I've told Mr. Obama, how do you want to be remembered? Like Richard Nixon, who ousted Salvador Allende in Chile? Like President Bush, responsible for ousting President Chavez? '... Well President Obama, you already made your choice '... you will be remembered like President Nixon,'' Maduro declared during a live television broadcast.
The South American president went on to outline ways in which the United States has already interfered in Venezuelan affairs, pointing to 105 official statements made by that government in the past year- over half of which demonstrate explicit support for Venezuelan opposition leaders.
The Venezuelan government previously accused the United States of playing a direct role in a thwarted coup attempt last month. The president today reminded viewers that the man believed to have financed the coup, Carlos Osuna, is currently ''in New York, under the protection of the US government.''
Maduro also requested this morning the use of the Enabling Act to pass "a special law to preserve peace in the country" in the face of US threats.
If the powers are granted by the National Assembly, Maduro plans to draft next Tuesday an "anti-imperialist law to prepare us for all scenarios and to win," he said today.
Published on Mar 10th 2015 at 4.51pm
VIDEO-Suicide bombings in Christian area of Pakistani city kill at least 14 people - CNN.com
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:06
Story highlightsThe Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for the suicide bombingsAt least 78 people were wounded in the attack, hospital official saysThe Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly attack and warned of more to come.
The explosions, which struck the Nishtar Colony area in the city of Lahore, wounded at least 78 people, said Dr. Muhammed Saeed Sohbin, medical superintendent at Lahore General Hospital.
Video from the scene aired by CNN affiliate GEO News showed twisted metal, shattered glass and panicked residents outside a church compound. Ambulance and security personnel were seen moving in. Later footage showed water cannons arriving to disperse the crowd.
Pakistani Taliban reunitedEhsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said by telephone that his group was responsible for the suicide bombings, declaring that such attacks would continue until Sharia law is implemented in Pakistan.
After a period of disunity, the terrorist group's three major splinter groups announced last week that they were joining forces again under the name Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP.
Prime Minister condemns attackThe Pakistani military has been waging a campaign against the militant group in North Waziristan, one of the loosely governed tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government held unsuccessful peace talks with the TTP last year, strongly condemned Sunday's attack, according to a statement from his office.
Sharif asked provincial governments to tighten security and "take all possible measures" to protect people and property, the statement said.
Christian couple burnedThe last major attack on Pakistan's Christian community took place in 2013, when suicide bombers struck a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing more than 80 people.
More recently, a Christian couple was burned to death in November by mob that accused them of blasphemy.
"The Christian community is a soft target for militant outfits in Pakistan," said Rabia Mehmood, a researcher at the Jinnah Institute, a Pakistani think tank. "But generally Christians and other religious minorities are under a constant threat by the extremist elements in the society and rampant religious intolerance."
Other minorities in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation have also been targeted this year. Last month, an attack on a Shiite mosque in Peshawar killed at least 19 worshipers and injured dozens of others. The Pakistani Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for that attack, too.
CNN's Sophia Saifi reported from Karachi, Pakistan, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Brian Walker and journalists Saleem Mehsud and Adeel Raja contributed to this report.
VIDEO-DEA Administrator: 'The Majority of the Heroin that is Hitting Your Streets is Coming from Mexico' | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 13:45
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DEA Chief: Majority of Heroin in U.S. Comes From Mexico See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/dea-chief-majority-heroin-us-comes-mexico
VIDEO-Charlie Rose to Kevin Spacey: 'Talk About Your Bromance with Bill Clinton' | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 13:19
Crossposted on Newsbusters.
Charlie Rose, on his March 10, 2015 PBS show, couldn't resist asking actor Kevin Spacey about his ''bromance'' with former President Bill Clinton. The star of House of Cards - who CNN recently hired for their documentary on the 2016 presidential candidates - revealed how tight he is with the ex-president.
VIDEO-'I'm Embarrassed for Them': Obama Hits Back at Republican Senators' Letter to Iran Over Nuclear Deal | VICE News
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 13:12
President Barack Obama has expressed his embarrassment for the Republican senators who tried to circumvent his authority in executing foreign policy this month by warning in an open letter to Iran's leaders that any nuclear deal their government signs with the president could be annulled after Obama leaves office.
The president's comments were made during an exclusive interview with VICE founder Shane Smith on Tuesday, in which Obama discussed a host of issues important to Americans, from Washington politics and foreign policy to college affordability and global warming. The full interview will be posted to VICE News on Monday, March 16.
On the topic of Iran, Obama said that the senators' intrusion into sensitive foreign diplomacy and their evident lack of respect for the role of the presidency is "not how America does business."
"I'm embarrassed for them," the president remarked of the letter's original 47 signatories, which included the Republican Senate leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential candidates Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Rand Paul (Kentucky). "For them to address a letter to the ayatollah '-- the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy '-- and their basic argument to them is: don't deal with our president, because you can't trust him to follow through on an agreement... That's close to unprecedented."
Related:Leaders Defend 'Progress' in Iran Nuclear Talks After Deadline Is Extended by Seven Months
On Tuesday, more Republicans came out in support of the letter, among them former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose name has since been formally added to the list of backers.
Members of the GOP caucus have sought to undermine Obama's effort to secure a deal with Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech before Congress arguing against the deal being negotiated in Geneva. House Speaker John Boehner had invited him to deliver the remarks without first consulting the Obama administration.
The Republican lawmakers' open letter stressed that a nuclear agreement made without Congressional approval might not last.
"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system," the letter said. "Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement'... The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, responded to the open letter in a statement posted on his website Thursday, saying that international foreign policy protocol prescribes that agreements are honored even when governments change guard. The subordination and "backstabbing" exhibited by the American lawmakers is an example of Washington's use of "tricks and deception," which "worries us," the leader said.
"US senators officially announce that when this government leaves, its commitments will become nullified," he said. "Isn't that the ultimate collapse of political ethics and the disintegration of the US system?"
Despite the senators' letter, and opposition from Iranian hardliners who oppose the deal, the leader has not backed away from negotiations.
Obama will continue to work toward securing a deal with Iran, in the face of what he described to VICE as the GOP's "slash-and-burn approach to politics."
"I'm prepared to take all options to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon," he said, "but the absolute best option is a diplomatic resolution."
VIDEO-Howard Dean Compares Tom Cotton's Iran Letter to Jane Fonda Visiting Vietnam | MRCTV
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 13:09
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Appearing on the Thursday edition of MSNBC's The Last Word, former Vermont Democratic Governor and MSNBC contributor Howard Dean put forth the analogy that the author of the letter sent to Iran in Republican Senator Tom Cotton (Ark.) is like to far-left actress and activist Jane Fonda visiting North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
In addition, The Atlantic's Steve Clemons praised the Iran for being ''serious'' and ''really want[ing] to achieve something'' while negotiating a deal concerning its nuclear program and specifically foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for being someone whose known by ''many of us here in Washington'' as ''a pro'' in dealing with hardliners back in Iran.
VIDEO-Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis: I try not to be liability
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:47
In a heated exchange with CNBC Anchor Julia Chatterley, he was asked whether he felt he was a liability to his government as the photo shoot might harm his efforts to promote a serious message about Greece's dire financial straits.
"Are you a liability for your channel?," he asked CNBC's Chatterley, before saying that he "tried not to be."
The Greek Finance Minister then walked out of the CNBC interview.
Dimitris Papadimoulis, member of the European Parliament for the Syriza Party, weighed in to the social media storm that has erupted since the Paris Match article.
On his Twitter page over the weekend he posted a request for the party to do "less interviews" and "more work," adding that the current situation called for "serious solutions."
The heads of the Syriza Party have also been accused of backtracking on the mandate they were elected on - namely reducing the amount of austerity Greek citizens are facing.
Athens needs to agree on a revised package of measures, despite being given the green light for a four-month extension to its current bailout program.
Varoufakis rebutted these accusations to CNBC, saying the government had not implied that it would renege on any promises.
"We said that our promises concern a full-year parliamentary term. They'll be spaced out in an optimal way and in a way that is in tune with our bargaining stance in Europe and also with the fiscal position of the Greek state," he told CNBC at the Italian event.
"This is what a responsible government does, it's what we were always were going to do. We have already started legislating for the humanitarian crisis, we are in the process of legislating for tax evaders, we will legislate on minimum wages in good time after deliberation with social partners which we always promised to do."
He criticized the press for "concocting stories" and added that the Greek government now needed "peace and quiet" in order to get "down to work to put Greece on the path of recovery."
At the conference, Varoufakis told reporters that he was confident an agreement would be reached with the country's creditors by April 20.
VIDEO-Oil Storage Squeeze May Lead to Another Price Crash - Bloomberg Business
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:37
Seven months ago the giant tanks in Cushing, Okla., the largest crude oil storage hub in North America, were three-quarters empty. After spending the last few years brimming with light, sweet crude unlocked by the shale drilling revolution, the tanks held just less than 18 million barrels by late July, down from a high of 52 million in early 2013. New pipelines to refineries along the Gulf Coast had drained Cushing of more than 30 million barrels in less than a year.
As quickly as it emptied out, Cushing has filled back up again. Since October, the amount of oil stored there has almost tripled, to more than 51 million barrels. As oil prices have crashed, from more than $100 a barrel last summer to below $50 now, big trading companies are storing their crude in hopes of selling it for higher prices down the road. With U.S. production continuing to expand, that's led to the fastest increase in U.S. oil inventories on record. For most of this year, the U.S. has added almost 1 million barrels a day to its stash of crude supplies. As of March 11, nationwide stocks were at 449 million barrels, by far the most ever.
Not only are the tanks at Cushing filling up, so are those across much of the U.S. Facilities in the Midwest are about 70 percent full, while the East Coast is at about 85 percent capacity. This has some analysts beginning to wonder if the U.S. has enough room to store all its oil. Ed Morse, the global head of commodities research at Citigroup, raised that concern on Feb. 23 at an oil symposium hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. ''The fact of the matter is, we're running out of storage capacity in the U.S.,'' he said.
If oil supplies do overwhelm the ability to store them, the U.S. will likely cut back on imports and finally slow down the pace of its own production, since there won't be anywhere to put excess supply. Prices could also fall, perhaps by a lot. Morse and his team of analysts at Citigroup have predicted that sometime this spring, as tanks reach their limits, oil prices will again nosedive, potentially all the way to $20 a barrel. With no place to store crude, producers and trading companies would likely have to sell their oil to refineries at discounted prices, which could finally persuade producers to stop pumping.
Oil investors appear to be coming around to the notion that a lack of storage capacity could lead to another price crash. In the futures market, hedge funds have spent the past few weeks cutting their bets that oil prices will rise. Instead, they've built up a record short position, increasing their wagers that prices will fall. During a March 11 interview on CNBC, Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn said he's concerned the U.S. is running out of storage, particularly as refineries enter their seasonal maintenance period, to prepare for the summer driving season. Around this time they usually cut the amount of crude they buy. Cohn said prices could go as low as $30 a barrel.
Is Oil Facing a Storage Problem in the U.S.?
The math on this can be a bit tricky. The U.S. Department of Energy measures oil storage capacity twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. As of September 2014, the U.S. had 521 million barrels of working capacity, up from 500 million in 2013. That includes the space inside tank farms and on-site at refineries. It doesn't, however, include the amount of oil that can be stored in pipelines or storage tanks near oil wells; nor does it include the amount of capacity in tankers off the coast, in transit from Alaska, or on trains. Of the 449 million barrels of total crude stocks, about 327 million are stored in tank farms or on-site at refineries.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. is using about 63 percent of its storage capacity, up from 48 percent a year ago. ''We have more space than some people tend to believe,'' says Andy Lipow, an energy consultant in Houston. The most recent estimate of storage capacity also doesn't include tanks built since September in North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas, he says.
Still, the amount of space available in the tanks at Cushing is getting tight. The storage hub will run out of room by Memorial Day, says Stephen Schork, who runs energy consulting company Schork Group. As long as oil stays cheap, he says, traders have an incentive to store it. Cushing has room for roughly 71 million barrels of oil, up from about 50 million in 2010. One of the biggest owners of tanks there is Canadian energy distributor Enbridge. ''We don't have much room left, but we're still answering the phones,'' says Mike Moeller, who manages the company's Cushing tank farm. ''Not everybody who calls is going to get space.'' He says monthly lease rates in the spot market have gone from dimes per barrel to more than a dollar in some cases.
''These producers have kept chugging away when they should have been shutting down''
Even with prices less than half what they were last summer and storage capacity growing scarcer, U.S. oil output has continued to rise. Through February, U.S. daily crude production reached 9.3 million barrels, about 1 million barrels more than a year ago. The massive storage buildup has provided oil companies with a phantom demand for their crude. Many hedged production before prices got too low, taking out futures contracts that guarantee a certain price. That's allowed them to sell oil for a price higher than the going rate of $49 a barrel, keeping many profitable despite lower prices.
Running out of room inside the nation's storage tanks might be the only way to keep companies from pumping more oil. ''These producers have kept chugging away when they should have been shutting down,'' says Dominick Chirichella, co-president of the Energy Management Institute, a New York-based advisory group. ''At some point, the fact that supply is outstripping demand has to have its moment of truth.''
The bottom line: A record 449 million barrels of oil are being stored in the U.S. Shrinking storage capacity might lead to another drop in prices.
VIDEO-Fox News analyst: 'Start killing Russians' to save Ukraine (VIDEO) '-- RT USA
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:22
Published time: March 11, 2015 13:10Edited time: March 11, 2015 13:47A military analyst has told Fox News that the only way to turn the tide in conflict in Eastern Ukraine is to ''start killing Russians.'' The former general alleged there are 12,000 Russian regular troops currently ''camped'' on Ukrainian territory.
On Tuesday, Fox News Channel aired a segment featuring Robert H. Scales, a former United States Army major general, who shared his own plan to settle the Ukrainian crisis. The recipe is simple: kill the alleged Russian soldiers roaming eastern Ukraine.
Scales acknowledged that an ongoing deployment of American troops to Eastern Europe is unlikely to change the situation and did not elaborate on who is supposed to eliminate the fabled Russian servicemen: Ukrainian troops or American GIs.
READ MORE: US, NATO say no evidence of new 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine
The interview ran as follows:
Fox News: 3,000 US troops deploying to Eastern Europe, some armor will be going with them, apparently. To what effect and what do you expect?
Robert H. Scales: I think to no effect. It's game, set and match in Ukraine. The only way the United States can have any effect in this region and turn the tide is start killing Russians. Killing Russians by'... Killing so many Russians that even Putin's media can't hide the fact that Russians are returning to their motherland in body bags. But given the amount of support we've given to the Ukrainians and given the ability of Ukrainians themselves to counterattack against 12,000 Russians camped in their country '' sadly, that's not likely to happen.
READ MORE: US govt issues logistics support tender for 300 military personnel in Ukraine
America's Fox News has been ranked the most trusted network in the US, according to a recent poll by Quinnipiac University.
In an op-ed for fellow News Corp. outlet the Wall Street Journal published on February 18, Scales called on to the Obama administration to begin sending the ''lethal defensive weapons'' Ukraine needs ''to defend itself from further incursions by Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.''
The US Army should also provide the Kiev authorities with American-made Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) and train Ukrainian troops to operate them to hunt down Russian ''command-and-control facilities and armored vehicles.''
Supply of only one weapons system to Kiev troops cannot be decisive, ''But it seems unlikely that Mr. Putin could stand significant losses in his precious armored forces for long,'' shared Scales.
Given Russia's ''flagging economy,'' it is unlikely the Russian president ''would throw the dice and escalate the conflict with a full-scale invasion of western Ukraine.''
READ MORE: Russia shrugs off US envoy's 'evidence' of Russian troops in Ukraine
In this way the US could ''preserve the sovereignty of a friendly state (Ukraine) and turn back a tyrant (Putin) who threatens Europe,'' Scales wrote.
A week ago the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported that the number of ceasefire violations in war-torn eastern Ukraine is dropping, though violations of the Minsk ceasefire agreement are still being registered.
READ MORE: Putin: E. Ukraine situation difficult, at least cities not being destroyed
(Starting from 3:17)
Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com
VIDEO-MH370: Paper towel washed up on Australian beach could be from missing plane - Mirror Online
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:45
A paper towel is being examined by experts after washing up on a beach in Western Australia over concerns it could be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The small, pre-moistened towel has been sent to the Aussie capital city of Canberra to be examined by experts after being found by a couple taking a stroll on the beach.
Nine News reports that the couple found it unopened, which they described as "very unusual".
The plane was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with more than 200 on board, but no trace of it has been found since it went missing last year.
The one-year anniversary of the plane's mysterious disappearance yesterday saw Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot admitting that the search may be scaled back.
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 planeHe told the Canberra parliament: "I can't promise the search will go on at this intensity forever, but we will continue our very best efforts to resolve this mystery and provide answers."
Australia is leading an international search team scouring the Indian Ocean, 1,000 miles off it's west coast.
Mr Abbott said those with loved ones on board the Juala Lumour to Beijing flight had been through a "harrowing nightmare."
''I do reassure the families of our hope and expectation the ongoing search will succeed," he added.
The paper towel was found in July last year, but it has only just emerged that it was discovered.
Malaysian authorities are still hopeful the plane will be found.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "The lack of answers and definitive proof - such as aircraft wreckage - has made this more difficult to bear.
"Together with our international partners, we have followed the little evidence that exists.
Malaysia remains committed to the search, and hopeful that MH370 will be found."
The plane's disappearance has baffled the world's aviation experts, with theories ranging from alien abduction to a Russia hijack to it being shot down by Malaysia's military that failed to identify the plane.
VIDEO-Moscow mystery: Questions persist about Putin's whereabouts | Fox News
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:32
The more his people seek to assure the public that Vladimir Putin is just fine, the more speculation swirls that something - a love child, terminal illness or some exotic Kremlin intrigue - is up with the Russian president
Rumors about Putin range from speculation he is sick or even dead to whispers he is about to become a father. Normally in the public eye on a daily basis, Putin has not been seen since March 5, and has canceled several engagements. Three photos released by the Kremlin, of a meeting purportedly held on Friday, only added to the mystery. The pictures showed the Russian strongman meeting and shaking hands with the head of the Russian Supreme Court, but western media darkly noted that the date the photos were taken could not be confirmed. Some noted that a calendar normally seen on his desk, and which would have effectively dated the photos, was missing.
"When the sun comes up in spring, and as soon as spring is in the air, then the fever begins," Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Thursday, according to official news agency Tass.
"The information on a baby born to Vladimir Putin is false. I am going to ask people who have money to organize a contest on the best media rumor."
- Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman
A Swiss newspaper claimed that Putin was recently in Lugano for the birth of his lovechild with his longtime alleged lover, Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva. But Preskov insisted that Putin is not a recent papa.
"The information on a baby born to Vladimir Putin is false," Peskov said, adding, "I am going to ask people who have money to organize a contest on the best media rumor."
Fueling the speculation was a report Thursday from a Kazakhstan government official who said Putin canceled a visit after he had ''fallen ill.'' Putin also missed a Thursday meeting of Russia's annual Federal Security Service, an event he has never skipped.
The website RussiaNews.net noted that "Putin umer" or "Putin has died," is now trending on the Russian Internet and that a new website that allows users to ask, "has Putin died?"
Peskov told the radio station Echo of Moscow his boss, a Karate black belt known for swimming in icy waters and riding horses bare-chested, is very much alive and as healthy as ever - even claiming his handshake could break bones.
But without an appearance from Putin, there was no shutting down the rumor machine that went into high gear after a recent planned meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, with the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus was postponed on short notice. On Wednesday, the government issued a photo of a meeting between Putin and the regional governor of Karelia, which may in fact have actually taken place as early as March 5.
Peskov told The Associated Press that Putin has a busy agenda in the coming days, including some international meetings. He said that next week the president is set to make a trip to Kazakhstan, which had been planned for this week but abruptly postponed.
Putin, 62, was last seen in public on March 5, when he hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
"There is absolutely no reason for any doubts about the state of his health," Peskov told the AP. "His health is really perfect, everything is OK with him, and he's working in accordance with his traditionally overloaded working schedule."
Intrigue has been swirling in the Russian capital since an outspoken critic of Putin, Boris Nemtsov, was killed Feb. 27 by gunmen near the Kremlin. Last week, Russian police arrested five suspects, including an alleged triggerman with close ties to Chechnya's Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov. A day after the arrests were announced, Putin awarded Kadyrov with one of Russia's highest medals, a move seen as an effort to placate the Chechen strongman.
Peskov said Putin will meet Monday with the president of Kyrgyzstan, an even that, if it happens, will cool down the rumor mill. Until then, Peskov seemed resigned to the fact that the talk will continue.
"Actually it's very hard to explain this wave of interest toward the state of his health," Peskov said. "We do appreciate the care, the global care."
VIDEO- STRATFOR: US-Hauptziel seit einem Jahrhundert war B¼ndnis Russland+Deutschland zu verhindern - YouTube
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:47
VIDEO--As nuke talks intensify, WH celebrates Iranian holiday | TheHill
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:33
The White House this week celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year most often observed by Iranians.
The festivities come amid tense negotiations between the White House and Tehran. President Obama hopes Iran will slow or stop its nuclear weapons program in exchange for removing economic sanctions.
First Lady Michelle Obama praised the holiday in remarks at the executive mansion Wednesday. The event featured a Persian dinner and a dance troop's performance.
''I think it's so fitting we're holding this celebration here today,'' Michelle Obama said. ''One of the things I love about the White House is how it truly is the people's house. It is a house that reflects the diversity of culture and traditions that make us who we are as a country. Nowruz is one of those traditions.''
The U.S. is targeting a tentative outline of the deal by the end of the month.
Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia are aiding America's efforts, with talks resuming in Lausanne, Switzerland, next week.
A group of 47 GOP Senators revolted against President Obama's strategy Monday, sending Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, an open letter promising Congress will end any agreement it finds harms American interests.
Obama on Friday said he was ''embarrassed'' by the lawmaker's actions. Khamenei, meanwhile, criticized it Thursday as proof of Western ''tricks and deceptions'' in the negotiations.
The first lady made no mention of Iran in Wednesday's speech. She did praise the ancient festival as one of ''family and community.''
''For more than 3,000 years, families and communities in the Middle East, Asia and all around the world '-- including here in the United States '-- have celebrated this holiday to mark the renewal of the Earth in springtime,'' she said. ''It's to reflect on the year before and make new commitments to good health and prosperity in the year ahead.''
Nowruz marks the start of both spring and the beginning of the Persian calendar each year.
A central facet of Nowruz celebrations are ''Haft Sin,'' or ''the seven S's'' in Persian. Participants display seven items (all beginning with ''S'' in Persian) as symbols of new hopes for the next year.
The first lady said Wednesday the White House has its own Haft Sin display this Nowruz. Example she cited included an apple for beauty, grass for rejuvenation and crushed berry spices for ''the spice of life.''
VIDEO-Ancient statues destroyed by ISIS fake, real ones safe '' report '-- RT News
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 01:31
Published time: March 14, 2015 18:55The ancient statues that Islamic State militants smashed in Mosul last month have been proved to be exact replicas of precious artifacts of Iraqi heritage. The real masterpieces of antiquity are said to be in Baghdad.
''They were copies. The originals are all here,'' Baghdad's museum director told Germany's Deutsche Welle.
The head of the antiquity department in Iraq's cultural heritage authority, Fawzye al-Mahdi, also told the German broadcaster that ''none'' of the artifacts ''were originals.''
This, experts say, explains why in a video that shows the destruction statues crumble so easily.
''The reason they crumble so easily is that they're made of plaster. You can see iron bars inside," Mark Altaweel of the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London said to Channel 4.
However, Mosul's exiled governor Atheel Nuafi, said that, while many of destroyed items were not originals, but there were real ones demolished afterward.
READ MORE: ISIS militants destroy ancient statues, relics in Iraq (VIDEO)
''There were two items that were real and which the militants destroyed,'' he told Iraq television. ''One is a winged bull and the other was the God of Rozhan.'' He also said that before destroying the museum, ISIS militants could have stolen several items.
A video appeared on Youtube in February, showing several men crashing museum statues and winged bulls monuments securing gates of ancient Nineveh, located not far away from Mosul.
Mosul Museum has the second biggest collection of ancient relics in Iraq. It owned dozens of thousands of items from Nineveh and other ancient centers of Northern Mesopotamia. In 2003, at the height of operation against Saddam Hussein, the museum was ransacked by looters, but its workers managed to save most valuable masterpieces and moved them to Baghdad before the city assault. Meanwhile, some important items were still kept there including an ancient statues and ceramics collection.
In summer 2014, ISIS took over Mosul and began destroying ritual constructions as relics are considered by the militants as ''worthless idols''.
It's not just ancient statues but also temples which the Islamic State targets. Thus, jihadists razed to the ground the Mosque of the Prophet Yunus, equaled to Bible's Jonah, the Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis worshiped by Shiah Muslims and other relics, including those honored by Christians Assyrians.
READ MORE: ISIS militants destroy ancient remains of 2,000yo city of Hatra '' Iraq govt
In February 2015 ISIS also burned the city's library as well as the libraries of a Dominican monastery and of a Catholic church. Hundreds of thousands books, rare Iraqi newspapers from the beginning of the 20th century and Ottoman Empire period maps and books were also burned or exploded in archives, while a small portion of the collection was carried off by truck in an unknown direction.
ISIS did not stop at Mosul and later in March demolished the remains of the ancient city of Hatra in the north of the country, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987, following a ''bulldozing'' of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
This week, the Islamic States threatened to beyond Iraq and destroy Egypt's Sphinx and pyramids as it was time for Muslims to erase the pharaohs' heritage.
Earlier, Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Minister Adel Shirshab called on the US-led coalition ''to activate its air strikes'' to defend the cultural heritage of the country.
READ MORE: Kuwaiti preacher, ISIS call for demolition of Egypt's Sphinx, pyramids
Shirshab and the head of the antiquities board, Qais Rasheed, said the coalition did not do enough to prevent the attacks in the ancient cities. They insist the coalition troops were able to see at least the preparations of the militants to bulldozing of Hatra.
In response to the calls and accusations, the highest military-ranking officer in the US on ruled out immediate airstrikes.
''Military campaigns are all about priorities,'' General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stressed and then pointed out that the US would consider protecting heritage sites ''as priorities shift.''
''We will consider it, but it will have to fit into all the other things we are being asked to do on behalf of Iraq,'' the Wall Street Journal cited Dempsey as saying.
At the same time, the United States plan to return to Iraq 60 cultural artifacts which were illegally smuggled to the U.S. According to the country's state department, archeological items will be repatriated on Monday.
''At a time when ISIL is destroying the ancient monuments and artifacts of Iraq's rich history, the United States continues to work towards preserving its historical legacy for the Iraqi people and for the world,'' the statement added, using one of the militant group's former abbreviations.
VIDEO- Ebola Song - YouTube
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 00:04
VIDEO-State Dept. Shuts Down Email After Cyber Attack - ABC News
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 06:25
The State Department shut down large parts of its unclassified email system today in a final attempt to rid it of malware believed to have been inserted by Russian hackers in what has become one of the most serious cyber intrusions in the department's history, U.S. officials told ABC News.
''The Department is implementing improvements to the security of its main unclassified network during a short, planned outage of some internet-linked systems,'' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement to ABC News.
The outage could last though the weekend, according to officials. But as of now there is no time limit and no real indication of when the system will be back online.
Last November, the State Department conducted similar repairs to its system stemming from a cyber-attack it suffered the month before. The attack targeted the unclassified email system and is believed to have been executed by Russian hackers.
Officials stress that throughout this process, including the attack in October, there was never any compromise to the department's classified systems.
News of this latest outage comes as presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a political controversy stemming from her exclusive use of a private email address and home-based server during her tenure as the nation's top diplomat.
In a news conference Tuesday where she addressed the email scandal, Clinton said her server was guarded by the Secret Service and ''there were no security breaches.''
VIDEO-Dad's Army - Opening Titles - YouTube
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:42