Breaking! - Pilot had a club foot and narcolepsy
Just heard the term 'Psychological Autopsy' in regards to the Germanwings pilot on FoxNews Radio!
Karlis Graubics, Jr.
Associate Executive Producer for Shows #569 & #599
The co-pilot of the Germanwings Airbus was a convert to Islam
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 04:07
According to Michael Mannheimer, a writer for German PI-News, Germany now has its own 9/11, thanks to the convert to Islam, Andreas Lubitz.Translation from German:
All evidence indicates that the copilot of Airbus machine in his six-months break during his training as a pilot in Germanwings, converted to Islam and subsequently either by the order of "radical", ie. devout Muslims , or received the order from the book of terror, the Quran, on his own accord decided to carry out this mass murder. As a radical mosque in Bremen is in the center of the investigation, in which the convert was staying often, it can be assumed that he - as Mohammed Atta, in the attack against New York - received his instructions directly from the immediate vicinity of the mosque.
Converts are the most important weapon of Islam. Because their resume do not suggests that they often are particularly violent Muslims. Thus Germany now has its own 9/11, but in a reduced form. And so it is clear that Islam is a terrorist organization that are in accordance with §129a of the Criminal Code to prohibit it and to investigate its followers. But nothing will happen. One can bet that the apologists (media, politics, "Islamic Scholars") will agree to assign this an act of a "mentally unstable" man, and you can bet that now, once again the mantra of how supposedly peaceful Islam is will continue. And worse still, the attacks by the left against those who have always warned against Islam, will be angrier and merciless.
For now the German Islam supporters like never before have their backs against the wall.
Michael Mannheimer, 26.3.2015
The Daily Mail today writes:
Police investigating the Germanwings crash said tonight they had made a 'significant discovery' at the home of pilot Andreas Lubitz, who deliberately ploughed the Airbus A320 into the French Alps.
Officers refused to reveal details of the potential breakthrough but said it was not a suicide note.
Hopefully we'll know in a few days if this article is accurate.
AP News : Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:31
By FRANK JORDANS and DAVID McHUGHPublished: 21 minutes agoMONTABAUR, Germany (AP) - Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have hidden evidence of an illness from his employers, including having been excused by a doctor from work the day he crashed a passenger plane into a mountain, prosecutors said Friday.
The evidence came from the search of Lubitz's homes in two German cities for an explanation of why he crashed the Airbus A320 into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
Prosecutors didn't say what type of illness - mental or physical - Lubitz may have been suffering from. German media reported Friday that the 27-year-old had received treatment for depression.
Duesseldorf prosecutors' office spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said in a written statement that torn-up sick notes for the day of the crash "support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues."
Such sick notes from doctors excusing employees from work are common in Germany and issued even for minor illnesses.
Herrenbrueck said other medical documents found indicated "an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment," but that no suicide note was found. He added there was no indication of any political or religious motivation for Lubitz's actions.
Germanwings and its parent company Lufthansa declined immediately to comment on the new information.
Investigators had removed multiple boxes of items from Lubitz's apartment in Duesseldorf and his parents' house in Montabaur, near Frankfurt.
A German aviation official told The Associated Press that Lubitz's file at the country's Federal Aviation Office contained an "SIC" note, meaning that he needed "specific regular medical examination." Such a note could refer to either a physical or mental condition, but the official - who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said the note does not specify which.
However, neighbors described a man whose physical health was superb.
"He definitely did not smoke. He really took care of himself. He always went jogging. I am not sure whether he did marathons, but he was very healthy," said Johannes Rossmann, who lived a few doors down from Lubitz's home in Montabaur.
German news media painted a picture of a man with a history of depression who had received psychological treatment, and who may have been set off by a falling out with his girlfriend. Duesseldorf prosecutors, who are leading the German side of the probe, refused to comment on the anonymously sourced reports, citing the ongoing investigation.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said there was a "several-month" gap in Lubitz's training six years ago, but would not elaborate. Following the disruption, he said, Lubitz "not only passed all medical tests but also his flight training, all flying tests and checks."
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had issued Lubitz a third-class medical certificate. In order to obtain such a certificate, a pilot must be cleared of psychological problems including psychosis, bipolar disorder and personality disorder "that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts."
The certificate also means that he wasn't found to be suffering from another mental health condition that "makes the person unable to safely perform the duties or exercise the privileges" of a pilot's license.
Experts say it's possible that someone with mental health problems could have hidden them from employers or a doctor without specialist training.
"It's a high-stakes situation for pilots because they know if they give the wrong answer, they could lose their license," said Dr. Raj Persaud, fellow of Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists. "A very good psychologist or psychiatrist who spends in-depth time with him would be able to pick up (a problem), but you have to throw an awful lot of resources at it to do that and often, I don't think (pilots) are getting in-depth assessments," Persaud said.
The president of the German pilots union Cockpit said medical checkups are done by certified doctors and take place once a year.
"At the moment all the evidence points clearly in one direction and it's the most likely scenario, there's no doubt about that," Ilja Schulz told The Associated Press. "But all the pieces must be put together to see whether there were any other factors that played a role, or not. Only then can you draw lessons that will improve security in future."
French investigators, who are in charge of the probe into the plane crash, believe the 27-year-old locked himself inside the cockpit and then intentionally smashed the Germanwings plane into a mountainside on Tuesday during a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
People in Montabaur who knew Lubitz told AP they were shocked at the allegations that he could have intentionally crashed the plane, saying he had been thrilled with his job at Germanwings and seemed to be "very happy."
Germanwings, a low-cost carrier in the Lufthansa Group, said it was setting up a family assistance center in Marseille for relatives of those killed in the crash.
"In these dark hours our full attention belongs to the emotional support of the relatives and friends of the victims of Flight 9525," Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said in a statement.
Frank Jordans reported from Berlin. Associated Press Writers Joan Lowy in Washington, Maria Cheng in London, and David Rising and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.
Anti depresants in home?
What happened to me if they just came in here was such an agenda that final kinds of crazy shit including transmitters
'I'm planning a heinous act that will be remembered forever': Killer pilot's ex-girlfriend says he shared chilling prophecy before Alps crash and woke up from nightmares shouting 'we're going down' | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:23
Andreas Lubitz told former girlfriend he was planning an act so horrifying his name would be remembered foreverHe was a master of hiding his darkest thoughts and frightened his former lover so much she decided to leave himStartling revelations add weight to claims the pilot concealed medical condition that should have stopped him flyingComes after it emerged Lubitz should have been off sick on day he deliberately crashed plane into mountainsideTorn-up sick notes have been found in 27-year-old's flat which showed he had hidden extent of illness from airline By David Williams and Sam Marsden and Tom Kelly In Dusseldorf For The Daily Mail
Published: 19:28 EST, 27 March 2015 | Updated: 21:07 EST, 27 March 2015
Killer pilot Andreas Lubitz told his ex-girlfriend he was planning an act so heinous his name would be remembered for ever, it was sensationally claimed last night.
Lubitz was a tormented, erratic man who was a master of hiding his darkest thoughts and would wake up from nightmares screaming 'we're going down', his former partner said.
She revealed to a German newspaper how Lubitz ominously told her last year: 'One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it.'
When she heard about the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 on Tuesday, she remembered Lubitz's menacing prophecy. 'I never knew what he meant, but now it makes sense,' she told Bild.
Scroll down for video
Menacing prophecy: Andreas Lubitz - pictured competing in a half-marathon in 2013 - told his ex-girlfriend he was planning a heinous act a year before he deliberately condemned his 149 passengers and crewmates to their deaths when he crashed in the French Alps
Erratic: Lubitz (pictured) was a master of hiding his darkest thoughts and would wake up from nightmares screaming 'we're going down'
Relationship: Lubitz and his ex-girlfriend lived in a smart flat on the outskirts of Dusseldorf, understood to be in the block pictured above
Investigators suspect Germanwings crash was intentional
His personal problems and erratic behaviour was so severe that she was frightened and decided to leave him.
She added: 'When I heard about the crash, there was just a tape playing in my head of what he said, ''One day I will do something that will change the system and everyone will then know my name and remember me''.
'I did not know what he meant by that at the time, but now it's clear.'
Police will want to interview the unnamed former girlfriend in detail about the pilot's state of mind. The couple had been together for seven years and lived in a smart flat on the outskirts of Dusseldorf. One report claimed they were engaged and planned to marry next year.
Lubitz had reportedly ordered two new Audis for them just before the tragedy in an apparent desperate last attempt to win her back. But she appeared to have rejected his offer, as only one car was ever delivered.
The startling revelations that Lubitz had long-plotted a spectacular act adds weight to claims the pilot concealed a medical condition that should have stopped him flying.
It comes after German investigators yesterday revealed the 27-year-old should have been off sick on the day he deliberately condemned his 149 passengers and crewmates to their deaths in the Alps.
Investigators revealed today that medical sign-off notes were found at Lubitz's home - including at least one that covered the day of the crash - and Dusseldorf University Hospital confirmed he had been a patient there over the past two months, although it would not disclose his condition.
Analysis: Police officers carry DNA samples of victims of the disaster to be tested at a mobile laboratory set up near the crash site
Samples: Investigators at the Germanwings crash site revealed they have retrieved more than 400 body parts belonging to the disaster's 150 victims - but have not found an intact body. Above, DNA testing is carried out in the makeshift forensics laboratory near the crash site
It also emerged that Lubitz was familiar with the area of the French Alps where he brought down the Airbus A320, having previously completed a gliding course there.
Unusually, he had worked as a flight attendant for nearly a year before becoming a pilot, which led to teasing from his colleagues. Some airline crew even nicknamed him 'Tomato Andi' '' apparently a reference to the juice popular with passengers.
As investigators continue to scour his complicated background, it also emerged that the fitness fanatic was receiving treatment for his mental health issues and apparently feared his flying licence would be taken away if his airline learned the extent of his psychological breakdown.
At least one of the medical certificates found by investigators covered Tuesday, the day Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and calmly crashed the aircraft. Reports in Germany last night claimed that two doctors had signed him off sick on the day of the disaster.
More sick notes are said to have covered other days when he flew despite being told not to. But police said they found no suicide note in a five-hour search.
Speaking to MailOnline tonight, a Germanwings spokesman stressed the company was unaware of any medical notes and said it had been Lubitz's responsibility to tell his employers he was unfit to fly.
Described as a man whose life-long obsession had been to become a pilot, it has been suggested he may have feared his flying licence might not be renewed on medical grounds. One friend said he 'would have died' if he had not passed his flying exams.
Search teams continue to scour the crash site, in which debris and human remains were scattered over an area of two square miles
Rescuers workers earlier today said they have recovered the bodies of 14 of the 150 victims and returned them to the base of the mountain
Crash site: Recovery workers are still scouring the area where the plane crashed down and have recovered the bodies of some of those killed
CAPTAIN'S CROWBAR FURY The captain of the Germanwings plane desperately tried to break down the cockpit door with a crowbar after Andreas Lubitz locked him out, it emerged yesterday.
The flight recorder showed that Patrick Sonderheimer repeatedly knocked on the door of the cockpit as the plane began to descend.
But he resorted to using a crowbar to try and get through the armoured panel as the plane plunged fatally towards the Alps.
German newspaper Bild yesterday reported that he had attempted to use an axe, and a Germanwings spokesman confirmed that such a tool was on board the aircraft.
But it emerged last night that the only axe on the plane would have been in the cockpit, meaning it was out of reach of the captain.
The disclosures will raise more questions for Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, as to how he was allowed to fly a passenger jet when he was known to suffer from depression '' and to have suffered burnout and mental illness.
Unusually, Lubitz's file with the German Civil Aviation Authority had been 'flagged' with the warning that he needed regular psychological assessment before being allowed to continue to fly.
Lawyers believe the families of victims could win up to £100million in a joint action against Lufthansa and Germanwings, which had claimed Lubitz was '100 per cent fit to fly' but then admitted he slipped through their safety net.
Belgian Christian Driessens, whose brother Claude died in the crash, said: 'I don't understand how a serious company can let a depressed man pilot a plane.' Police have ruled out any religious or political motive for the crash.
Ralf Herrenbrueck, of the German prosecutors office, said yesterday that torn-up sick notes 'support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues'.
He said seized documents indicated 'an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment'.
Police are investigating whether Lubitz had stopped taking any medication he was on. As well as having been signed off from training with depression in 2008 and suffering a 'depressive episode' in 2009, it was reported that Lubitz had continued to receive mental health support right up until this week's crash.
He had been described as 'unflyable' while at flying school and had been downgraded on several occasions due to depression. He had received psychiatric treatment for an 18-month period, according to reports.
Residents join airline staff in a memorial service for the victims of the Germanwings crash at St-Lambertus-Kirche in Dusseldorf, Germany
Mourners comfort each other after a service in Haltern am See, home to the 16 schoolchildren and two teachers who died in the crash
Lubitz seemed overwhelmed by stress after he started his pilot training course with Lufthansa, said the boss of fast food restaurant where he had previously worked.
Airline bosses stressed last night that Lubitz had not presented the company with a sick note for last Tuesday '' and it had not known he had been signed off.
The flyer, a keen half-marathon runner, grew up in the small town of Montabaur where his businessman father and piano teacher mother owned an imposing detached property, worth some £330,000.
A friend said: 'For him there was ever only one goal '' to fly. It was a dream he had had since primary school. His room was plastered with pictures of planes and the Lufthansa logo could be seen everywhere. Pictures of old planes, new planes, of the largest planes '' everywhere you could see aviation stuff.'
AIRLINE THAT ALLOWED KILLER PILOT TO FLY NOW FACES TENS OF MILLIONS IN LEGAL PAYOUTS The airline that allowed Andreas Lubitz to fly could face compensation claims of tens of millions of pounds, it emerged last night.
Lufthansa '' which owns the budget carrier Germanwings '' is offering immediate aid of up to 50,000 euros (£36,500) per passenger to relatives, it was revealed yesterday.
But families of the 149 victims may launch a 'class action' for compensation which could see the airline involved in lawsuits for years.
Airlines are automatically liable to pay up to £105,000 for each death under the 1999 Montreal Convention '' an international agreement on compensation for aviation disasters. But victims' relatives can make much bigger claims if they can prove they have suffered losses as a result of the crash. In order to reject the demands, the airline must prove that it was not negligent or a third party was responsible '' which could be difficult for Germanwings as there is evidence that Lubitz crashed on purpose.
Airline spokesman Thomas Jachnow confirmed a report on Lufthansa's offer by German daily Tagesspiegel. The airline had not previously detailed the level of the payments to relatives, which are separate from eventual compensation claims.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr had said earlier that the airline would 'honour international arrangements regulating liability', and noted that the company already has offered immediate financial aid to anyone requiring help.
Touching: Photographs and handwritten notes were left in tribute by friends and family who visited the memorial near the crash site
Grief: Relatives of the victims overcome with emotion after attending a tribute in honour of their loved ones in Le Vernet, France on Thursday
In memory: French authorities installed an engraved stone tribute to the victims, where mourners gathered to lay flowers and candles
BA made to follow its rivals and ban lone pilots in the cockpit
British Airways is being forced to follow the lead of other UK airlines and ban pilots sitting alone in their cockpits.
It had resisted calls by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority for it to fall into line with other British airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Monarch in enforcing the policy to stop a repeat of Tuesday's Alps plane tragedy.
'I LEFT HIM ALONE IN THE COCKPIT' A pilot who once flew with Lubitz last night told how he left him alone in a cockpit to use the toilet.
'I remember him well,' said Frank Woiton, 48, 'and I left my seat from time to time in the air to use the toilet.
'When I flew with him he told me of his training and how happy he was.
'He said that he wanted to fly long-haul routes and become a captain.
'He had mastered the plane very well, he had everything under control. That's why I left him alone in the cockpit, to go to the toilet.'
He also told how he volunteered to fly the day after the crash after several Germanwings crews refused to board their aircraft.
The father-of-two added: 'I am proud to be a pilot. Right now. The passengers and the crew trust me with their lives. By the unfathomable act of this man endless confidence is destroyed that now must be laboriously rebuilt.'
But European safety regulators last night issued a 'temporary recommendation' for airlines 'to ensure that at least two crew, including at least one qualified pilot, are in the flight crew compartment at all times of the flight'. Such recommendations are effectively mandatory.
Last night the CAA issued an official statement saying: 'The CAA has been closely co-ordinating with colleagues at the European Aviation Safety Agency since the Germanwings incident and we believe this recommendation is a proportionate step to enhance aviation safety for the travelling public.
We remain in close contact with all UK airlines, and it is the individual airline's responsibility to determine how to comply with this recommendation, following a review of their cockpit security procedures.'
BA has declined to explain its reasoning insisting: 'We don't discuss security issues.' It repeated that line again last night.
However the CAA said cockpit rules were an 'operational issue' and not a security issue.
The details were published in a major new aviation safety information bulletin issued last night and relating to 'authorised persons in the flight crew compartment.'
But fears have been expressed by some that 'knee-jerk' reactions could perversely leave planes more vulnerable to terrorist attack.
The aim of the new rule is to help prevent a repeat of Tuesday's tragedy when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, locked his captain out of the cockpit of the Germanwings Airbus and flew the packed plane into a mountainside.
British Airways carries 40million passengers a year to 175 destinations in 79 countries, at the rate of around 750 to 800 flights a day, including 43 to the USA. It has 281 aircraft of which 134 are long-haul and 147 short-haul. It employs 3,600 pilots and 15,600 cabin crew.
BA was the only one of the eight major UK airlines to refuse to implement new cockpit rules when they were first announced on Thursday.
Disaster prevention: easyJet will introduce new rules to ensure two crew members are in the cockpit at all times in the wake of the disaster
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Who Is Brice Robin? After Marseille Prosecutor Live Press Conference On Andreas Lubitz, 4 Things To Know About High-Profile French Investigator
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 18:01
French Prosecutor Brice Robin of Marseille announced Thursday that a Germanwings pilot might have intentionally crashed a plane carrying 150 people over the French Alps after locking his co-pilot out of the cabin. The pilot, Andreas Lubitz, was breathing normally and did not speak as the plane descended, Robin said.
''He had no reason to disable contact with other planes,'' said Robin, who is overseeing the criminal investigation. ''We could hear the cries minutes before the plane crashed. ... The intention was to destroy this plane."
The pilot in the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash on Tuesday was reportedly banging on the cockpit door after he was locked out by Lubitz. The Germanwings flight was traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany, when it started to rapidly descend before crashing in the French Alps. All 150 people on board, including 144 passengers and six crew, died in the crash.
Robin said Wednesday that the identification of the bodies in the Germanwings disaster would take several weeks. Below are some things to know about Robin as the plane crash investigation continues.
1. He was part of an investigation in 2013 that saw police arrest 21 people in raids on the horsemeat industry across southern France on suspicion that horses were being used to develop medicines sold fraudulently for food.
2. He also worked on the shooting of Monegasque Helene Pastor-Pallanca in 2014. The death of the Monaco heiress in Nice made headlines after police found "suspicious" financial transactions on bank accounts belonging to her son-in-law, Robin said. Pastor was a member of one of Monaco's richest families.
3. He served as the prosecutor of a match-fixing scandal involving several players from the French championship handball club Montpellier.
4. He visited the plane crash site and was stunned by the damage, noting "the body of the plane is in a state of destruction. There is not one intact piece of wing or fuselage."
Terrain warnings, gear warnings ?
Charlie Thompson on ADS-B
There are two ADS-B systems in use world-wide.
They go by the following names: 978UAT and 1090ES.
(I have a 978UAT system in my Cirrus and it transmits/receives on 978 MHz).
The 978UAT ADS-B version transmits and receives data from a network of ground stations scattered throughout
the coverage area. Sort of like a cell tower network.
All the “big iron” that flies above FL180 uses the 1090ES system.
The “ES” stands for “extended squitter”. The 1090ES ADS-B system operates on the
same 1090MHz frequency as the legacy transponders that you and I know as “mode A” and “mode C”.
A 1090ES ADS-B system “replies” when interrogated by secondary surveillance radar (SSR) which transmits an interrogation pulse train on 1030MHz
(just like our legacy transponders). But instead of squawking “mode A” 4-digit squawk code or “mode C” altitude data a 1090ES system
replies with a 56-bit blast of data that contains lots of stuff. I looked through the 1090ES specifications and there IS in fact an
“intent” data block. As in ….what is the intent of the aircraft? So yes they may have in fact decoded the “intent” data block showing
FMS/Autopilot target altitude settings. I cite this paragraph from the attached reference:
5.1 SELECTED VERTICAL INTENTION (REG. 4016)
The selected vertical intention report (Reg. 4016) contains five data subfields, each incorporating
their own independent status bit. The maximum acceptable update interval for any of the data subfields in
this transponder register is 1 second. In general, if data updates are missing for a time no longer than
twice the specified maximum update interval or 2 seconds (whichever is greater), then the status bit for
this data item (if specified for the given field) must indicate that the data is invalid and the subfield in the
register itself should be filled with zeroes. The update interval for each data subfield in the register should
be sufficient to ensure that the maximum latency of each data value is not exceeded. (Note: If all five of
the status fields in the register are simultaneously cleared, then the register itself is no longer valid. Its
corresponding bit in the Mode S common usage capability register  should be cleared.)
The purpose of the data in register 4016 is to provide access to information about the aircraft’s
intentions with respect to altitude changes during flight. This information could improve the effectiveness
of conflict-probe applications and could provide an aid to air-traffic controllers in maintaining vertical
separation among aircraft.
This register is the most complicated of the EHS register set (4016, 5016, and 6016) with respect to
the variety and complexity of data sources that must feed into the register’s data fields. Different avionics
configurations must deal with this register in different ways. See reference 4 for examples of the logic
required to populate this register using typical Airbus and Boeing Mode S avionics installations.
Some final comments about 1090ES reception: Cheapo hobby kits are available that can decode 1090ES transmissions.
However, unlike 978UAT all interrogations to 1090ES system come from a secondary surveillance radar (SSR) rotating antenna.
These interrogating radars which trigger an “extended squitter” reply are co-located with ATC primary radar antennas.
The replies from the 1090ES transponder on the other hand can be received by anyone anywhere. I have a 1090ES receiver in my Cirrus so I can
get traffic info on the “big iron”. Many hobbyists in Europe have little receivers and plot airplanes on maps on their PC, etc.
If you are still awake :-) I guess the bottom line is that 1090ES ADS-B does have the capability to report auto-pilot target altitude settings.
Attached are a couple of references for your insomnia.
I hope this makes sense…if not fire back with your questions and I’ll try to answer them tonight.
Could The New Air Traffic Control System Be Hacked? : All Tech Considered : NPR
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:34
The current radar-based air traffic control system (shown here) will eventually be replaced with a new system called NextGen, which will rely on GPS. A number of computer security experts are concerned that NextGen is insecure and vulnerable to hackers. John Moore/Getty Imageshide caption
itoggle caption John Moore/Getty ImagesThe current radar-based air traffic control system (shown here) will eventually be replaced with a new system called NextGen, which will rely on GPS. A number of computer security experts are concerned that NextGen is insecure and vulnerable to hackers.
John Moore/Getty ImagesThe Federal Aviation Administration is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar upgrade of the nation's air traffic control system. The new system is called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. It will be highly automated. It will rely on GPS instead of radar to locate planes, and it is designed to allow air traffic controllers and pilots to pack more planes, helicopters and eventually drones into our skies.
But a number of computer security experts are concerned that the cornerstone of NextGen is insecure and vulnerable to hackers.
The current air traffic control system relies on radar.
Last week, I went flying with Mike Eynon, a private pilot and computer security expert. His plane is not equipped with the NextGen system, so we were on radar the entire time. Air traffic control pinged Eynon's plane, and a transponder built into his plane answered back '-- telling controllers where he was and who he was.
This call-and-response system has been in place for decades. But it's slow and not as accurate as GPS. Also, radar ground stations take up a lot of space and are expensive to maintain; and pilots can turn their transponders off.
The old system is getting overwhelmed.
In fact, when Eynon and I went up, the skies were so crowded over San Francisco that we weren't allowed into the airspace; instead, we headed west over the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's problems like this that NextGen was built to solve.
'Chaos In The System'
The cornerstone of this new system is automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast or ADS-B. Basically, planes will be equipped with GPS and will constantly send out little radio broadcasts announcing to the world who they are and where they are. (NextGen is being phased in over the next eight years. By 2020, planes will be required to use ADS-B to enter the more crowded areas of U.S. airspace.)
And recently, ADS-B has caught the attention of hackers.
"All this research was to try to prove to myself that air travel was still safe," says Brad Haines. "I basically failed at that." Haines is a slightly built Canadian computer consultant with multicolored hair. Online, everyone knows him as RenderMan. Haines is basically a hacker. He likes to take things apart and figure out how they work.
It turns out that ADS-B signals look a lot like little bits of computer code. But unlike traffic on the Internet, these signals are unencrypted and unauthenticated. And for computer security geeks like Haines, these are huge red flags. He soon realized he could spoof these signals and create fake "ghost planes" in the sky.
"The threats can be things like, if I can inject 50 extra flights onto an air traffic controller's screen, they are not going to know what is going on," he says.
Brad "RenderMan" Haines was able to spoof the signals used in the NextGen system and create fake planes in the sky. Courtesy of Brad Haineshide caption
itoggle caption Courtesy of Brad HainesBrad "RenderMan" Haines was able to spoof the signals used in the NextGen system and create fake planes in the sky.
Courtesy of Brad HainesNow, this hack won't make planes fall out of the air, but it could be dangerous. A fake plane could cause a real pilot to swerve '-- or a series of ghost planes could shut down an airport.
"If you could introduce enough chaos into the system '-- for even an hour '-- that hour will ripple though the entire world's air traffic control," Haines says.
Haines and a partner, Nick Foster, were not only able to create a radio capable of broadcasting spoofed signals, they were also able to hook a radio to a free online flight simulator game called Flight Gear. They used the game to create a ghost plane '-- a plane that would appear to be real to air traffic controllers using ADS-B '-- and then they buzzed San Francisco International Airport.
Here's a video that shows real air traffic as it mixes with a fake signal.
Haines and Foster didn't actually broadcast this signal '-- but all they would have needed to do in order to do that would have been to add an antenna and amplifier to their radio, and turn it on.
At a hacker conference in Las Vegas, Haines gave a talk spelling out exactly how to do it. (See his presentation slides.)
'A Collision Course With History'
More than 4,500 miles away in France, Andrei Costin, a Romanian grad student, realized the same thing. Working independently, Costin built a little software-defined radio hooked to a computer that created fake ADS-B signals in a lab. (Read Costin's white paper.)
His setup cost less than $2,000. Building and deploying ADS-B across America has cost considerably more. "This technology by now cost $1.1 billion," Costin said.
And it's not just Romanian grad students and Canadian hackers who have expressed concerns about the security of the next generation of air traffic control.
Last year, Air Force Maj. Donald L. McCallie, studying cyberwarfare at the Air Force Institute of Technology, wrote about the same kinds of attacks, and concluded that this system may put us "on a collision course with history."
Until now, the FAA has been reluctant to respond. It hasn't released data from its own security test, and the agency's initial response both to the Air Force paper and the more recent hacks has been muted.
Initially, the agency released a one-paragraph statement that said in part: "An FAA ADS-B security action plan identified and mitigated risks and monitors the progress of corrective action. These risks are security sensitive and are not publicly available."
Pilot Mike Eynon says the FAA "seems to almost be taking the stance of security through obscurity, which only works for a short period of time."
Eynon is not only a pilot; he knows something about security. He's the co-founder of Silver Tail Systems, a computer security firm that's been backed by the CIA.
"I always am a firm believer in making the system transparent and having others actually help you make the system more secure by understanding it," Eynon says.
In the past week, the FAA has become a bit more forthcoming. Officials there say as the NextGen system has been phased in, it has never recorded a spoofed or ghost plane in the sky over the U.S. And they say that even if a hacker did create a ghost plane, there are systems in place that would automatically catch it and weed out the fake signal before it could confuse air traffic controllers or pilots.
The FAA is building a network of more than 700 ADS-B receivers spread across the country. Although eventually the agency plans to decommission hundreds of radars, hundreds more will remain in place.
Weeding Out The Fakes
FAA officials told NPR that NextGen will validate ADS-B signals in three ways.
First, the system will use existing radars to check to make sure that ADS-B signals are real.
Second, it will automatically check to make sure that correct ADS-B receivers are picking up ADS-B messages. So, for example, if someone created a spoofed or ghost plane flying in Montana but sent the signal to an ADS-B receiver in California, the NextGen system would automatically recognize that signal as fake and weed it out before air traffic controllers could see it.
Finally, the system will use physics to try to pinpoint exactly where every ADS-B signal is sent from. It will track when each ADS-B message is received by each ADS-B station, then use the slight time differences to nail down where the signal originated. This technique is called multilateration. But for it to work, there must be multiple listening stations receiving every ADS-B signal.
"If the FAA is really using multilateration, that's a great sign," says Haines' partner, Nick Foster. "But I still wonder if it would be possible to fool the system on the edges. I think the FAA should open it up and let us test it."
Other researchers like Capt. Domenic Magazu at the Air Force Institute of Technology agree. Magazu is concerned that these techniques might not help pilots spot fake ADS-B signals quickly.
A paper by Magazu on this topic will appear this fall in the Journal of Aviation and Aerospace Perspectives.
And researchers from Brad "RenderMan" Haines to Air Force Maj. Donald McCallie have all asked the FAA to be more transparent about how it's testing a multibillion-dollar system the public will soon rely on to keep it safe in the air.
ADS-B Vulnerability Remains a Serious Concern | Business Aviation: Aviation International News
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:14
An article in AIN's September issue addressed concerns that have been raised about the security of the ADS-B system, which is headed for widespread deployment around the world. ADS-B is designed to replace radar as the primary method for surveillance of airborne traffic. ADS-B can replace low-resolution radar detection of transponder-equipped aircraft with ''automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast'' or ADS-B signals, which broadcast speed, location and other information to properly equipped ground stations and other aircraft. ADS-B out-equipment, mandatory in the U.S. starting in 2020, transmits ADS-B information, while the more sophisticated ADS-B in equipment receives ADS-B information and makes it available to pilots.
ADS-B is not secure, according to a white paper published by Eurecom, a teaching and research consortium of seven European universities and nine international partners based in Sophia Antipolis, France. The paper was authored by Andrei Costin and Aur¨lien Francillon. ''In this paper,'' they wrote, ''we demonstrate that attacks are both easy and practically feasible for a moderately sophisticated attacker. Attacks range from passive attacks (eavesdropping) to active attacks (message jamming, replaying of injection).'' What they mean by ''replaying of injection'' is creating fake ADS-B targets and injecting them into the ATC system so that controllers and pilots ''see'' false ADS-B targets that appear to be real aircraft. This so-called ''spoofing'' or injection of fake targets is one of the most urgent concerns of those raising questions about ADS-B security. And Costin and Francillon have demonstrated false injection, in a closed and safe test rig. They point out that injecting a false target ''would require only an amplifier and an antenna to actually emit the radio signals.''
Addressing System Vulnerabilities
What concerns the authors of this white paper most is that, ''Surprisingly, despite years of standardization, development, thorough testing and ongoing deployment, by design the ADS-B protocol used in commercial air traffic doesn't specify mechanisms to ensure that protocol messages are authentic, non-replayed or adhere to other security properties. Given the budget involved, and the sensitivity of air traffic, it is surprising that such a system was not designed with security in mind.''
The white paper outlines specific security ADS-B vulnerabilities:
' Lack of entity authentication to protect against message injection from unauthorized entities.
' Lack of message signatures or authentication codes to protect against tampering of messages or impersonating aircraft.
' Lack of message encryption to protect against eavesdropping.
' Lack of challenge-response mechanisms to protect against replay attacks.
' Lack of ephemeral identifiers to protect against privacy tracking attacks.
Filling these security holes is achievable, according to the white paper, and one way to do so would be to incorporate public key infrastructure (PKI) as ''a viable solution for securing ADS-B in the short and long terms. The first and simplest thing that would greatly enhance the security of ADS-B is to add integrity verification to ADS-B messages.''
The white paper authors believe that regulators should require avionics manufacturers to incorporate security integrity checking and PKI distribution processes into their ADS-B products. By doing this, they wrote, ''the message injection is suddenly not possible or at least not as easy to accomplish.''
The paper's conclusion asserts that ADS-B security issues have been well documented in previous studies and by the hacker community, but ''the fundamental architectural and design problems of ADS-B have never been addressed and fixed. Also, given the efforts in terms of time and money invested so far and still to be invested, it is unclear why such mission-critical and safety-related protocols [are not] addressed at all and [there is no] security chapter in the main requirements specifications document.''
In response to AIN's questions about ADS-B security for the September article, the FAA explained that it has ways to filter out spoofed ADS-B targets, although any details about such methods are secret. ITT Exelis, which is building the U.S. ground-station ADS-B network, told AIN: ''The U.S. national ADS-B system has received the [FAA] information security certification and accreditation. The accreditation recognizes that the system has substantial information security features built in, including features to protect against the type of spoofing attacks cited in recent media reports. Exelis cannot divulge details on the security features built into the ADS-B system.''
Costin, the white paper co-author, is encouraged that concerns about ADS-B security are getting some new attention. He worries, however, that in the context of modern technology the FAA is na¯ve when it says it knows how to deal with spoofed targets but that such information is ''security sensitive.'' In an emailed response to AIN, Costin wrote, ''Countless times history [has] shown that in IT/info security, 'security by obscurity' failed epically, starting from small companies and ending with giants and seasoned players; and in the long run it turned bad for them and, worse, it turned bad for their paying and unsuspecting customers. Unless the results are made public and the community can assess both the results and the 'ways' the FAA, Eurocontrol and ATC-concerned bodies are securing ADS-B and mitigating the threats and risks against described vulnerabilities''all these done in an open and transparent dialogue framework''there are doubts about full security. Indeed, [the FAA's statement that] 'We have ways of validating the data that shows up on a controller's screen' is true''there are various procedures and backup plans for the cases of 'ghost [spoofed] aircraft,' and mostly it is because ATC is still a human-centric technology, where a lot of work is done by humans (coordination, voice communication and so on). However, our point is that the system should be secured from the architecture and design, not as a side effect of the legacy.''
AIN asked a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association whether controllers are being trained on how to deal with spoofed ADS-B targets or other security-related ADS-B issues. The spokesman said, ''I was able to confirm with our safety and tech folks, there is no special training in place with ADS-B in regards to the matter that you asked about, the security matters and the possible hacking threats. [There is] no special training at this point.''
And where are the bodies anyway?
Large Hadron Collider
CERN started up on 3-24 and crash was on the 25th. CERN is 130 miles just north of the crash.
Fly By Wire Email
I'm a pilot in the military-industrial complex and I fly a Navy variant of a Boeing 708 and I agree 100% with your assessment of fly by wire and flight engineers. I love knowing that if the shit hits the fan and we lose all power and/or hydraulics I can still fly the good old 708 since it uses all old-school manual controls.
Don't get me wrong, it's a pig, but it always works. Also my FEs kept me from doing stupid shit all the time.
Every time I read about that Air France story about how the fly by wire system contributed to the crash it pisses me off more and more and makes me realize what a dumb-fuck system that is that Airbus installed.
We have analysed the raw data from the transponder of #4U9525 and found some more dat
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:11
We have analysed the raw data from the transponder of #4U9525 and found some more data apart from the regular position/altitude data.These are the decoded ModeS (Downlink Format 20) frames which contain replies to interrogating radar requests (Upling Format 20).
09:30:48Z.651 MCP/FMC ALT: 38000 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:48Z.936 T,3c6618,43.115341,5.671181,38000,GWI18G09:30:49Z.496 T,3c6618,43.116028,5.671692,38000,GWI18G09:30:50Z.076 T,3c6618,43.117381,5.673065,38000,GWI18G09:30:50Z.111 MCP/FMC ALT: 38000 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:50Z.553 MCP/FMC ALT: 38000 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:50Z.619 MCP/FMC ALT: 38000 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:50Z.626 T,3c6618,43.118408,5.673736,38000,GWI18G09:30:51Z.127 T,3c6618,43.119095,5.674247,38000,GWI18G09:30:51Z.636 T,3c6618,43.120453,5.675092,38000,GWI18G09:30:52Z.386 MCP/FMC ALT: 38000 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:52Z.567 T,3c6618,43.122208,5.676482,38000,GWI18G09:30:53Z.036 T,3c6618,43.122894,5.676993,38000,GWI18G09:30:53Z.546 T,3c6618,43.124271,5.678166,38000,GWI18G09:30:54Z.083 MCP/FMC ALT: 13008 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:54Z.096 T,3c6618,43.125295,5.678689,38000,GWI18G09:30:54Z.676 T,3c6618,43.125961,5.679421,38000,GWI18G09:30:55Z.156 T,3c6618,43.127157,5.680259,38000,GWI18G09:30:55Z.397 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:55Z.453 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:55Z.636 T,3c6618,43.128367,5.681109,38025,GWI18G09:30:56Z.186 T,3c6618,43.129211,5.681656,38025,GWI18G09:30:56Z.708 T,3c6618,43.129898,5.682167,38000,GWI18G09:30:57Z.267 T,3c6618,43.131626,5.683201,38000,GWI18G09:30:57Z.312 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:57Z.836 T,3c6618,43.132507,5.684020,38000,GWI18G09:30:58Z.050 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:30:58Z.296 T,3c6618,43.133011,5.684403,38000,GWI18G09:30:58Z.767 T,3c6618,43.134559,5.685425,38000,GWI18G09:30:59Z.216 T,3c6618,43.135397,5.685948,38000,GWI18G09:30:59Z.746 T,3c6618,43.136261,5.686575,38000,GWI18G09:30:59Z.988 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:00Z.146 T,3c6618,43.137451,5.687149,38000,GWI18G09:31:00Z.165 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:00Z.676 T,3c6618,43.137817,5.687660,38000,GWI18G09:31:01Z.676 T,3c6618,43.139866,5.689022,38000,GWI18G09:31:02Z.027 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:02Z.238 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:02Z.496 T,3c6618,43.141402,5.690199,38000,GWI18G09:31:03Z.030 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:03Z.456 T,3c6618,43.143494,5.691429,38000,GWI18G09:31:04Z.376 T,3c6618,43.145731,5.692945,37975,GWI18G09:31:04Z.943 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:05Z.346 T,3c6618,43.147430,5.693984,37975,GWI18G09:31:05Z.558 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:05Z.993 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:06Z.466 T,3c6618,43.149828,5.695365,37975,GWI18G09:31:07Z.164 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:07Z.346 T,3c6618,43.151367,5.696539,37950,GWI18G09:31:08Z.256 T,3c6618,43.153427,5.697752,37950,GWI18G09:31:08Z.776 T,3c6618,43.154111,5.698308,37925,GWI18G09:31:09Z.276 T,3c6618,43.154995,5.698962,37925,GWI18G09:31:09Z.712 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:09Z.960 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:10Z.326 T,3c6618,43.157364,5.700307,37925,GWI18G09:31:11Z.312 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:11Z.467 T,3c6618,43.159607,5.701713,37900,GWI18G09:31:11Z.876 T,3c6618,43.160660,5.702415,37900,GWI18G09:31:12Z.102 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:12Z.386 T,3c6618,43.161512,5.702885,37875,GWI18G09:31:12Z.846 T,3c6618,43.162211,5.703408,37875,GWI18G09:31:13Z.316 T,3c6618,43.163049,5.704128,37875,GWI18G09:31:13Z.896 T,3c6618,43.164597,5.704970,37875,GWI18G09:31:14Z.401 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:14Z.493 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:15Z.536 T,3c6618,43.168030,5.708201,37825,GWI18G09:31:16Z.416 T,3c6618,43.169380,5.708921,37825,GWI18G09:31:17Z.028 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:17Z.266 T,3c6618,43.171288,5.709294,37800,GWI18G09:31:18Z.196 T,3c6618,43.173019,5.710144,37775,GWI18G09:31:19Z.166 T,3c6618,43.175385,5.711648,37750,GWI18G09:31:19Z.262 MCP/FMC ALT: 96 ft QNH: 1006.0 hPa09:31:20Z.176 T,3c6618,43.177277,5.712891,37725,GWI18G09:31:21Z.216 T,3c6618,43.179202,5.714068,37700,GWI18G
Between 09:30:52 and 09:30:55 we can see that the autopilot was manually changed from 38,000 feet to 100 feet and 9 seconds later the aircraft started to descend, probably with the "open descent" autopilot setting.The reason why the selected altitude is 96ft is that least significant bit for altitude setting equals 16 ft, and we suspect that you can't set autopilot to 0000 altitude, so the minimum would be 100ft down rounded to 96ft in binary representation in BDS40h register.Any comments or thoughts about this?
This data has also been handled over to BEA 2 days ago.
Write up about FR24 CEO Fredrik Lindahl and Flightradar24 Company
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:55
Great write up!Published January 30, 2014 06:30http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/innovation/forskning_utveckling/article3801435.ece
Google Translate to Engishhttps://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyteknik.se%2Fnyheter%2Finnovation%2Fforskning_utveckling%2Farticle3801435.ece
Fredrik Lindahl, CEO of Flight Radar 24, has an app that allows the user to find out which aircraft it is looking at the sky. By summer the company will release a new app that contains more social functions.
Each month Flight Radar 24's website between five and six million visitors.3,000 volunteers around the world.Over three million people have purchased an app.The last financial year, sales amounted to 25 million.
Many are interested in flight. Each month Flight Radar 24's website between five and six million visitors. Over three million people have purchased an app.
- We have topped the list of the best selling reseapparna in more than 140 countries and sales continue to increase, says CEO Fredrik Lindahl.
The last financial year, sales amounted to 25 million.
Major passenger plane is displayed on a map in the app. Tap on a plane and a photo comes up along with data about the position and route. Planets path can be followed in a 3d view. It is also possible to identify the plane by pointing your phone towards the sky.
Data about the plan captured by a network of radio receivers with 3,000 volunteers around the world. They receive the aircraft's so-called ADS-B signals with information about the identity, location and speed.
The information is then sent automatically via the Internet to Flighradar24's servers.
Where it is combined with other data it collects, such as on airlines' fleets and information from the airline departure boards.
The goal is total control over all the world flight.
To improve radio coverage has the highest priority.
- It is a race where the best coverage wins. We have a head start as we want to keep, says CEO Fredrik Lindahl.
To speed up the expansion, the company builds its own radio receiver that is sent out free to volunteers who sign up on the website. Interest is not faulty.
- We get about 50 entries per day, says Fredrik Lindahl.
Underserved areas prioritized.
- But we also want to see photos of were they supposed to place the antenna before we send off a receiver, said Michael Robertson, one of the company founders.
Each week, the network is growing by about 80 points, he estimates.
Seven of the nine people on Flighradar 24 works with development.
This summer, a new app that will contain more social features. This year also launched the first service that can only be addressed to airlines.
- They use us already and I have personally seen that Boeing has a large screen with Flighradar 24 of his control room for Dreamliner, says Fredrik Lindahl.
With the new service, they should be able to easily see where they own the plan is, and relax on your own data if, for example, cargo, crew and fuel level.
FACTS next: PositioningApproximately 60 percent of the world's airplane is equipped with ADS-B transponders. New legislation in both Europe and the U.S., the proportion is increasing over time. The aim is to increase flight safety by the pilots can see other planes in the vicinity.In order to position the aircraft to an older type of transponder multilateration. It is based on the difference in time it takes for the planet's signal to reach four or more receivers. However, these must be sufficiently dense. Today, Flightradar24 method used in most of Europe and parts of North America, but as the network grows, it can be used in more parts of the world.
Flight Radar? 24Location: Stockholm.Founded: 2012.Employees: 9.Turnover in 2013 (split financial year) 25 million.
*Subject to translation errors*
Flightradar24 soars high, posts '¬2.9 million turnover
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:54
By Greg Anderson, February 06, 2014, Leave a CommentListen. Forget "productivity", the real reason why you download apps is to distract yourself when you're bored, or to impress your friends. For these reasons, Stockholm-based FlightRadar24 basically belongs in my iPhone's bottom toolbar.
We covered the company a year and a half ago, but here's a refresher: When you open up the app you're given a map view over your current location sowing the real-time position of the planes above you. Tapping on a plane you're given more info including what type of plane it is, where it's coming from, where it's going, and the path it's taking to get there. Digging deeper, you can also see real-time stats on the plane's altitude, speed, and what squawk they're broadcasting, as well as other stats on the type of aircraft.
That's cool, but the real "wow factor" comes when you open up the Augmented Reality function. Here your phone's camera opens up, and when you point it to a plane you see in the sky, a little tab on the screen will point exactly to the plane, telling you the same statistics. So have you ever looked up and wondered where that high-altitude jet is going? This is the app for you.
I'm not alone in my admiration for the app. Flightradar24 Pro has been the number one overall app in the App Store in 48 countries, and the number one travel app in 143 countries.
The professional aviation industry has also taken notice. In this video on CNBC you can see how Boeing's Dreamliner operations center keeps Flightradar24's web version up on a big screen. Another manufacturer, Airbus, uses Flightradar24 in their boardroom, which you can see at the beginning of this presentation.
Airlines and airports are also using Flightradar24, as shown here in this Aeroflot video, and in the Toronto airport tower.
In preparation of last Sunday's Superbowl, Boeing even flew a plane to chart out a #12 in support of the Seattle Seahawks. Boeing is based in Everett, Washington.
Flightradar24 is able to collect this real-time data through more than 3,000 ADS-B receivers, which collect this real-time information broadcasted by airplanes from the ground . Many of these receivers are owned by hobbyists, and by feeding their information into Flightradar24, they themselves receive much more professional features for this realtime and worldwide data.
The company has managed to take good advantage of their success. In their first annual report the company filed a turnover of SEK 26 million ('¬2.9 million) with a SEK 9 million ('¬1 million) profit. The company offers a free version of the app, but Flightradar24 Pro (with the AR function) is available for $2.99.
Our first article painted founders Olov Lindberg and Mikael Robertsson as two flight hobbyists that built their own air tracking web service for their own enjoyment, but you shouldn't see these revenues shouldn't be seen as a just a "hobbiests got lucky" story. The duo also sold their other company, Svenska Resen¤tverket AB, behind Flygresor.se and other travel bookers, to Etraveli this past January.
Both companies have been completely funded by internal capital, and the company tells us that over the last year Flightradar24 has turned down funding from some of the largest VCs in the world.
It appears it's clear skies for Flightradar24. In the future they're continuing to optimize their existing business, as well as two new projects: monetizing the strong interest Flightradar24 has gotten from aviation companies, as well launching a new app that should appeal to anyone that flies commercially on a regular basis.
We'll stay posted with their story, but in the meantime you can see a live map of the flights over ArcticStartup country, here.
About - Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:51
Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides you with real-time info about thousands of aircraft around the world. Our service is currently available online and for your iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Android device plus for Windows 8 and your Mac OS computer. Read more about our flight tracking apps.
Flightradar24 is frequently featured in the media. You can find a couple of examples here:
Flightradar24 exposes the Malaysian Prime Minister. Read more.Flightradar24 data shows how airspace was rebooted after Icelandic ash cloud. Watch video.EUROCONTROL talks about Flightradar24. Watch video.Article in German paper Bild. Read more.Article in French paper Le Monde. Read more.Our service has become very popular and each month Flightradar24.com gets more than 10 million visits and our apps have been downloaded more than 2 million times.
The technology we use to receive flight information from aircraft is called ADS-B. Roughly 60% of all passenger aircraft around the world are equipped with an ADS-B transponder. However, this percentage will continue to grow. Read more about the technology behind Flightradar24.
The majority of the data displayed on Flightradar24.com and in our apps is gathered through a network of 500+ ADS-B receivers around the world. To improve our service we are always looking for people willing to contribute data to us. Click here to find out how you can help us increase Flightradar24's global coverage.
In addition to ADS-B data, we also display data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This data provides full coverage of the airspace above the United States and Canada. However, this data is slightly delayed (up to 5 minutes) due to FAA regulations. Because of this delay, the planes generated from FAA data are of a different color (orange) than the planes generated from real-time data (yellow).
Flightradar24 would not exist if it weren't for our data feeders. As a thank you, they all get access to a premium version of Flightradar24.com.
We are also very grateful to the volunteers that update the airplane and route databases every day.
How we got hereFlightradar24 started as a hobby project in 2006 when two Swedish aviation geeks decided to build a network of ADS-B receivers in Northern and Central Europe. In 2009 we opened up the network, and made it possible for anyone with an ADS-B receiver to upload data to the network. Many parts of the world were quickly covered, but the quest to provide global ADS-B coverage is still ongoing. Hopefully with your support, we will get there.
Tabloids Claim Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Was Gay - The New Civil Rights Movement
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:13
British tabloid newspaper The Daily Star is claiming that Andreas Lubitz, the Lufthansa co-pilot authorities say deliberatley crashed the passenger plane he was flying, was secretly gay.
The Daily Star has decided, on very flimsy evidence, that Andreas Lubitz was gay.
The British tabloid was one of several publications that speculated of the infamous Lufthansa co-pilot who is accused of killing 150 people by purposely crashing the passenger plane he was flying into the side of a mountain. But the accusation they make - that Lubitz crashed the plane because he was tormented by his sexuality - is based on very little evidence.
The "gay" rumor spreading across Germany seems to center around the revelation that Lubitz had serious emotional problems he kept hidden, coupled with the report that he recently broke up with his girlfriend. This has been twisted into the story that Lubitz was a gay man forced into the closet, even though Germany is a leader in LGBT rights and Lufthansa, the German company he worked for, is openly LGBT-friendly.
The Independent added to the rank speculation this inconclusive message that a male friend posted to Lubitz's website after the crash:
"We were only talking yesterday about what we would do together when you came back. You always made me smile."
The Mirror goes one step farther, reporting that Lubitz was "mercilessly taunted" and called a "Trolley Dolly" because, before he became a pilot, he was a member of the cabin crew. (And everyone knows flight attendants are all gay?) The Mirror claims Lubitz was nicknamed ''Tomato Andy'' because co-workers thought he didn't know if he was a "fruit or veg" - a slang term for someone gay who is living as if he were straight.
The tabloids all seem to have about as much proof that Lubitz was gay as Pat Robertson has when he accuses gays of being responsible for tornadoes and hurricanes. But, hey, why let a search for facts get in the way of a good rumor?
Photo via Twitter
21 - Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air - Montreal, 28 May 1999
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:47
931. For damages arising under paragraph 1 of Article 17 not exceeding 100,000 Special Drawing Rights for each passenger, the carrier shall not be able to exclude or limit its liability.
942. The carrier shall not be liable for damages arising under paragraph 1 of Article 17 to the extent that they exceed for each passenger 100,000 Special Drawing Rights if the carrier proves that:
95(a) such damage was not due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the carrier or its servants or agents; or
96(b) such damage was solely due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of a third party.
Who Was On The Plane: Part 2 |
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 02:05
The Crash: Coming into FocusPosted by Gordon Duff, Senior Editor on March 28, 2015Among the fabricated rumors, real intel inquiries emergewww.veteranstoday.com
'... by Gordon Duff, with VT Resources
''You just can't make this stuff up!''''You just can't make this stuff up!''
Intelligence regarding the unintended altitude loss with incumbent loss of life related to Lufthansa 9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf is coming to light.
The plane may have been downed to end an investigation of massive banking fraud died to the CIA, Mossad, Crypto AG, Siemans and the Vatican Bank.
This event also gives us need to take a new look at the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In the world of fax machines, Crypto AG had developed a hardware hack that created a backdoor on all encrypted fax communication, giving their ''clients'' virtual control of not only the world banking system but almost all diplomatic correspondence as well.
Nearly half a dozen investigative ''strands'' tied to Flight 103 also lead to Crypto AG projects. We are told that today, Crypto AG has developed SECURITY protocols that tag all encrypted messages with a built-in hack, redirecting them to the Mossad for evaluation and ''valuation.''
The internet has been filled with stories about Crypto AG and Siemens for years. Most are ''cover and deception,'' pushing attention from their real tasks, manipulating the Federal Reserve System and helping the Rand Corporation rig elections, we are talking America, Britain, France, Germany and even Israel, not Iran or Nigeria.
Crypto AG is defended by a veil of lies. Google them. See who writes about them. You will find that they write about themselves, using ''the usual suspects'' as their controlled accusators.
Opening a ''Bag of Stupid''
Yesterday, a German ''blogger'' FUNDED by the Jewish Defense League, named Michael Mannheim (a pseudonym) flooded the net and neocon email-o-sphere. The story, too predicable, claimed our copilot, Germanwings 9525, had ''just'' converted to Islam.
Were they saying he did it while walking to the plane, Aldi brat in one hand, suddenly throwing the offending pork product to the ground, yelling out ''Allah Akbar, I will crash this plane and kill all when the pilot takes his piss break a few minutes into our short flight.''
Call this both a too convenient religious conversion and a touch of ''Nostra-friggin-damus'' as well. To the rest of us, we take this as a confession. Our friends in Tel Aviv, in response to their new-found inability to control any MSM narrative, tried to pull a ''Charlie.''
Intel v. Rumor
We had their first shot, the lost girlfriend. The second was the ''hidden depression ploy.'' Fail number 3 is the ''magical conversion syndrome.'' At least he didn't lose a tennis shoe and run up and down the aisle shooting blanks out of an AK 47. Humor out of place? In fact, this is the best thing we can do for the families of the dead.
They can either be part of a problem or a solution. The more people play along, the more of these staged crashes we are going to see. For deaths to mean anything, the victimization card had to be put back into the deck and the ''kill the bastards who did this card'' has to be dealt.
Here are the real questions floating around:
A Spanish intel team was aboard specializing in cyber-terrorism, they were the target (limited confirmation)The Spanish team was involved in an investigation of the ''Swiss owned'' company, Crypto AG (highly confirmed)Crypto AG is a Mossad front. (highly confirmed)From Wikipedia:
Crypto AG is a Swiss company specialising in communications and information security. With headquarters in Steinhausen, the company is a long-established manufacturer of encryption machines and a wide variety of cipher devices. The company has about 230 employees, has offices in Abidjan, Abu Dhabi, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat, Selsdon and Steinhausen, and does business throughout the world.The owner(s) of Crypto AG are unknown, supposedly even to the managers of firm, and they hold their ownership through bearer shares.Crypto AG was established in Bern by Russian-born Swede, Boris Hagelin. Originally called AB Cryptoteknik and founded by Arvid Gerhard Damm in Stockholm in 1920, the firm manufactured the C-36 mechanical cryptograph machine that Damm had patented. After Damm's death, and just before World War II, Cryptoteknik came under the control of Boris Hagelin, an early investor, and during the War essentially operated in the United States, where 140,000 units were made under licence as C-38 (see M-209). In the early 1950s, it was transferred from Stockholm to Zug as a result of a planned Swedish government nationalisation of militarily important technology/contractors, and was incorporated in Switzerland in 1952.Crypto AG has a sister company, InfoGuard AG.The company has radio, ethernet, STM, GSM, phone and fax encryption systems in its portfolio.Crypto AG has been accused of rigging its machines in collusion with intelligence agencies such as the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the United States National Security Agency (NSA), enabling such organisations to read the encrypted traffic produced by the machines. Suspicions of this collusion were aroused in 1986 following US president Ronald Reagan's announcement on national television that, through interception of diplomatic communications between Tripoli and the Libyan embassy in East Berlin, he had irrefutable evidence that Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya was behind the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing in which two US service personnel were killed and another fifty injured. President Reagan then ordered the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation. There is no conclusive evidence that there was an intercepted Libyan message.Further evidence suggesting that the Crypto AG machines were compromised was revealed after the assassination of former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar in 1991. On August 7, 1991, one day before Bakhtiar's body was discovered, the Iranian Intelligence Service transmitted a coded message to Iranian embassies, inquiring ''Is Bakhtiar dead?'' Western governments were able to decipher this transmission, causing Iranian suspicion to fall upon their Crypto AG equipment.The Iranian government then arrested Crypto AG's top salesman, Hans Buehler, in March 1992 in Tehran. It accused Buehler of leaking their encryption codes to Western intelligence. Buehler was interrogated for nine months but, being completely unaware of any flaw in the machines, was released in January 1993 after Crypto AG posted bail of $1m to Iran. Soon after Buehler's release Crypto AG dismissed him and charged him the $1m. Swiss media and the German magazine Der Spiegel took up his case in 1994, interviewing former employees and concluding that Crypto's machines had in fact repeatedly been rigged.Crypto AG rejected these accusations as ''pure invention'', asserting in a press release that ''in March 1994, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office initiated a wide-ranging preliminary investigation against Crypto AG, which was completed in 1997. The accusations regarding influence by third parties or manipulations, which had been repeatedly raised in the media, proved to be without foundation.'' Subsequent commentators  are unmoved by this denial, stating that it is likely that Crypto AG products were indeed rigged.The Question of Confirmation
We have on our hands another case of ''super-state'' terrorism. The ''Jews'' didn't do it, it wasn't the NSA or the ''Illuminati.'' As it looks now, fingers should point to ''the banks.'' But then, who are ''the banks?'' What is their mechanism of power?
I think we have seen the answer to that one, certainly Crypto AG and their partners, not simply ''Seimens,'' are a good place to begin. Those who ACCESS, control and use critical data on world financial and diplomatic communications are a bigger threat than any normal terror group.
That they think nothing of downing airliners to defend themselves. They wage war and sponsor state terrorism as a daily matter of course'...150 lives being nothing to them.
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Gordon Duff, Senior EditorGordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War.He is a disabled veteran and has WORKED on veterans and POW issues for decades.
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Who was on the plane? |
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 02:01
Here is the scenario they decided to peddleOne pilot left the cockpit and could not get in. The other pilot was not responsive until the plane crashed. An arab type terror scenario has been implied, that the pilot in the cockpit suicide crashed the plane ON PURPOSE. PROBLEM. HUGE PROBLEM
HOW DOES THAT EXPLAIN THE FIGHTER JET ESCORTS THEY EXPUNGED FROM REPORTS, FIGHTER JETS THAT ARE CUTELY CAPTURED AND SHOWN REPORTED BELOW ON THIS VERY PAGE? If you have not seen this, scroll down to the capturesThis was their ''flight recorder discovery'' and if you believe that line, I have a bag of moon rocks.Bottom line? They know they are nailed and this is the only scenario they have other than a remote controlled crash that can possibly fit what happened '' an autopilot disabling followed by a perfectly controlled power descent straignt into a mountain. Either they explain it this way, or the are FORCED TO ADMIT THIS WAS A REMOTE CONTROL WHACK JOB. FAT CHANCE THEY EVER WILL
If they try to back peddle from the ''pilot crashed it on purpose'' angle and just say the pilot passed out, that is a fail because autopilot was in control and even in the extremely likely event it was not in control, absent a pilot a plane will keep flying straight and level until it runs out of fuel. It will not go into a dive by itself.
The biggest problem they can never overcome is the fighter jets that followed it until it hit the mountain, and then, rather than assess the situation, they bugged out. THAT SAYS IT ALL, they cannot back track from that cold hard fact.They really are stuck with the suicide crash option. Will people believe it? NOT IF THEY KNOW ABOUT THE FIGHTER JETS. ARCHIVE AND POST!It looks to me like Germany paid some ''holocaust reparations'' with an airplane!Germanwings downing a legitimate black opThis is easy to tell, because now there are many theories popping up to divert and distract. There is one new theory, however, that got my interest and may actually be a clue if it is legit. This theory is that the fighter jets shot the A320 right before impact with the mountain and it was smoking as it hit. This could be plausible for the following reason:
The A320 is a full fly by wire aircraft. If a pilot pushes a pedal or pulls a lever, it is not hooked up to the mechanics in any way whatsoever. And if this A320 was equipped with collision avoidance, this full fly by wire attribute most likely would not have allowed it to hit the mountain, most likely it would have pulled up on time and missed. If this is the case, then the fighter jets would have been needed to shoot the tail flaps out, which are needed to make the aircraft pull up and if the tail is disabled, the collision avoidance would not have been able to stop the crash.
Absent the tail, the plane could still proceed at full throttle into the mountain and whatever debris came off the tail would most likely have simply followed the plane into the mountain and not left a separate debris path. This fits the eyewitness scenario quite well, and would explain the roaring sound people heard continue for several seconds, this could have easily been caused by a missile launch to blow the tail out.
Other scenarios, such as a laser brought it down are in my opinion just diversions, but I will certainly give the scenario of smoke coming from the aircraft after it was shot while approaching the mountain fair consideration. Fighter jets and collision avoidance disabling certainly fit that scenario.
After allWhy would the fighter jets be there to begin with, and then leave the scene immediately after a crash that would have been obvious to them? No aircraft, even an ultralight, would go unnoticed by a fighter jet designed to hunt and kill, THEY KNEW THAT CRASH HAPPENED, WHY DID THEY LEAVE THE SCENE IMMEDIATELY? If they did not cause it, it would have been their job to stick around, assess the situation and report back to the base what the situation was. They did not do this, BIG QUESTION: WHY NOT?Mails being tampered with '' if you are trying to get through with information and are not seeing it here, it is because it got blocked. I have found what might be a good mail provider and will try to circumvent this problem.
''It is inexplicable how such a thing could happen to a technically perfect aircraft with experienced, trained at Lufthansa pilots'' '' Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr
MY RESPONSE: IT IS NOT INEXPLICABLE, READ THE FOLLOWING:New info on Germanwings crashIt has now been determined that the descent was a perfectly controlled full throttle dive of a perfectly working aircraft straight into the side of a mountain. And I know how it happened, details below.Why no identifiable bodies? I got the answer:Many people on the web are asking where the people are and how an airplane can just ''vanish'' into such tiny pieces. I have the answer. The crash was done in a way that caused the bodies to be erased so no person outside the controlled group of investigators could possibly identify anyone on the flight.How do you cause bodies to vanish and an airplane to turn into such small pieces?By having the crash occur at a very high speed. And this particular crash happened at 600 plus MPH.
A 600 plus MPH impact is proven by how badly the plane shredded. And 600 plus MPH crashes do not happen outside of willful intent.
Chris wrote:About the remote control capabilities of the 757/767 aircraft, you are right. They were revolutionary aircraft, and Popular Science covered their release in detail in the early 1980's. In one of the many reports they did, they talked about how the aircraft were hijack proof and ground controllable. I cannot find anything on this now, it seems 911 has done away with history and the report that mentioned this is not on the web. Someone is going to have to dig through the basement to find it in print.
My response:I had a subscription to Popular science at that time and remember this. Additionally, in 2002 I accidentally got into a secure area of the Boeing web site where pilots were posting about this system and how it had been removed from all the aircraft after 911. Those who had experience with airbus said the system was still in A320 aircraft because Airbus had not been compromised (their coding was more secure).
And this would explain why the fighter jets which accompanied this Germanwings flight all the way to it's death and then left the scene did not shoot it down, even though it is more than obvious they were either responsible for the crash or ordered to witness it. If erasing bodies and making them unidentifiable to all but a very controlled group of investigators was needed to conceal who was on that flight, remote controlling the aircraft into a mountain after a steep dive at full throttle would be the best way to do it, and now investigators at the scene have said the largest body part they have found is the size of a briefcase. Absolutely no one can be visually identified.
Normal plane crashes do not have such small debris and erased bodies because pilots slow the plane down and it crashes at around 200 mph, not 600 plus.
Beyond all doubt, the fighter aircraft were responsible for this crash and whoever ordered this crash wanted the bodies erased. This is why the fighter jets did not shoot the plane down even though they were clearly responsible for it's demise. If they had shot the plane, it would have fallen in large pieces and would have had the bodies be intact. By using remote to crash the plane after a full throttle dive, they ensured a perfect crash scene with obliteration of evidence.This is why no communication with the pilots happened, they were totally blacked out even after the tower declared an emergency and made repeated attempts to contact the pilots long before the crash actually happened and received no response. This is highly unusual, if not completely unprecedented except for the other obvious government jobs, '' 911 and flight 370.
They are testing conspiracies to see what will work to fool the public on forums and blogs right now, before releasing ''what the black boxes said.'' The most prevalent theory for why the pilots were silent is slow depressurization blacked everyone out with no one noticing. This is bunk.
FOR THE RECORD: The plane peaked out at 38,000 feet, stayed there for ONE MINUTE, and then did it's death dive. That is not long enough to black out everyone from a loss of cabin pressure, or ''slowly depressurize the cabin'' and once the plane hit 25,000 feet, people would have woken up even if this theory is what happened. It is an obvious hoax theory. The plane was simply not high enough long enough for this theory to hold any water.
Unfiltered mail blurbs from mails that made it.Hello, Jim. This info. ought to be good for a sarcastic comment vis-a-vis sep 11 '' might want to consider the remnants look like confetti, but the plane in 5 side polygon was claimed it drove through multi-foot thick reinforced concrete walls in a row and 2 others punched through steel framed towers, too. Shouldn't we then see a 40 foot deep divot hole in the mountainside? tim
Come back to you again with this. Check the flight path radar. At video 016 it is getting hazy (why?). At 019 you still see the big plane on the right of GWI/18G '.... At 020 this plane is vanished. AWAKS could do that '' you know that better tan me cause you are the specialist. Looks for me like a warning to Merkel concerning not following US instructions concerninbg WW III '..... Please check '....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7PYLmKg8jM
P.S.: The flight had been directed over the Alps, pretty far away from the direct route. There, where the plane came down, no French citizens could be hit.
you asked the question Who was on the plane?
In the news moments ago they said that there have been two engineers of Delphi on board of this plane.
Maybe it might be a small piece of info but to get the full pic we need to put them all together.
Update 22:28 GMTDoes this figure of Co-pilot look inserted into background ie faked? The BBC are pushing this story.
Iran, P5+1 Discuss New Ideas, Solutions Expected on Sunday / Sputnik International
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 02:06
Politics01:20 29.03.2015(updated 02:20 29.03.2015) Get short URL
LAUSANNE (Sputnik) '' Certain progress has been made in the ongoing Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has announced, adding that concrete decisions are expected to be made on Sunday.
"We have made some progress in the form of developing new ideas, but we don't have any solution yet. We hope that we can come to a conclusion on these new ideas and make some solutions tomorrow," Araqchi told journalists on Saturday, answering a question from a Sputnik reporter.
Earlier, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who arrived in Lausanne on Saturday, announced that the P5+1 group of international negotiators and Tehran "have never been so close to a deal," but stressed that some critical issues remain unsolved.
China's chief negotiator at the Iran nuclear talks, Wang Qun, told RIA Novosti on Saturday that Russia and China were working on new proposals to resolve the remaining differences on the Iranian nuclear program.The West has been accusing Iran of working on the development of nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program. Tehran has repeatedly stressed that its nuclear activities are aimed at meeting Iran's growing energy needs and are for peaceful purposes only.
Since November 2013, Tehran and the P5+1 group, which includes Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have been holding talks aimed at reaching an agreement that will ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.
The most recent round of negotiations on Iran started in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday and will last until Sunday, March 29.
The final agreement on Iran's nuclear activities is expected to be reached by July, 2015. The political framework for the deal should be agreed upon by the end of March.
P5+1 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:42
China, Russia, and the United States joined the three EU3 countries in June 2006 to offer another proposal for comprehensive negotiations with Iran.
Up to now, the UN Security Council has adopted six resolutions in response to the Iranian nuclear program. The first resolution (1696) was adopted in July 2006 which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
The next three years saw the adoption of three more resolutions, (1737) in December 2006, (1747) in March of 2007, and (1803) in March 2008, which have imposed gradual sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities believed to be involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
UN Security Council Resolution (1835), adopted in September 2008, restated the Security Council's demands made in resolution (1696) of 2006 but without imposing additional sanctions.
The last Security Council resolution (1929), adopted in June 2010, saw the expansion of more sanctions on Iran for its lack of cooperation and its continued uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
Role of GermanyEditGermany is the key trading partner of Iran. Iran's nuclear program depends mainly upon German products and services. For example, the thousands of centrifuges used to enrich the uranium are controlled by Siemens "Simatic WinCC Step7" software. Around 50 German firms have their own branch offices in Iran and more than 12,000 firms have their own trade representatives in Iran. Several well-known German companies are involved in major Iranian infrastructure projects, especially in the petrochemical sector, like Linde, BASF, Lurgi, Krupp, Siemens, ZF Friedrichshafen, Mercedes, Volkswagen and MAN (2008).
In 2005, Germany had the largest share of Iran's export market with $5.67 billion (14.4%). In 2008, German exports to Iran increased by 8.9 percent and comprised 84.7 percent of the total German-Iranian trade volume. The overall bilateral trade volume until the end of September 2008 stood at 3.23 billion euros, compared to 2.98 billion euros the previous year. The value of trade between Tehran and Berlin increased from around 4.3 billion euro in 2009 to nearly 4.7 billion euro in 2010.
The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce has estimated that economic sanctions against Iran may cost more than 10,000 German jobs and have a negative impact on the economic growth of Germany. Sanctions would especially hurt medium-sized German companies, which depend heavily on trade with Iran. There has been a shift in German business ties with Iran from long-term business to short-term and from large to mid-sized companies which have fewer business interests in the US and thus are less prone to U.S. political pressure.
2013 Interim agreementEditA round of the talks between Iran and the P5+1, chaired by EU High Representative Baroness Ashton, was held in the Kazakh city of Almaty on 26-27 February 2013. The two sides agreed to meet again in the city on April 5''6 to continue the talks after holding expert-level talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul on 17-18 March 2013.
In a further meeting of the P5+1 in Geneva on 16 October 2013 Iran stated that it may allow unannounced visits to its nuclear sites as a "last step" in a proposal to resolve differences with the West. Lowering uranium enrichment levels could also be part of a final deal, according to an Iranian official.
On 24 November 2013, an interim agreement was reached between the P5+1 countries and Iran in Geneva, Switzerland. It is expected to lead to a six month freeze and partial rollback of portions of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement. It represents the first formal agreement between the Unites Ststes and Iran in 34 years.
2014 negotiations on a comprehensive agreementEditU.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the lead negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman told a Senate hearing that Iran's ballistic missile program would be addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal. On 10 February 2014, Iran's defense minister said they successfully test-fired two new domestically made missiles.  Next day, Iran laid out "red lines" related to its ballistic missile program, atomic sites and uranium enrichment ahead of talks of the next step in nuclear talks, which resumed in Vienna February 18. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, also a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, said "defense-related issues are a red line for Iran" and that Tehran "will not allow such issues to be discussed in future talks."
Senior officials of the P5+1 and Iran met February 18-20 in Vienna and agreed on a framework for future negotiations. The P5+1 and Iran are preparing to have monthly meetings to try and forge a final, comprehensive deal. The next round of monthly senior-level meetings is scheduled to March 17 to 20, 2014 in Vienna.
Former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold claimed that the comprehensive agreement being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 focused on increased transparency instead of a reduction in nuclear capability. Former U.S. State Department official and advisor on Iran's nuclear program Robert Einhorn said such an agreement would need to both increase transparency and lengthen Iran's timeline for breakout.
ReferencesEdit^"'Substantive' talks over Iran's nuclear program - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^"History of Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue | Arms Control Association". Armscontrol.org. ^"Nuclear talks between Iran and E3+3 to continue in November". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. ^"Germany's Pivotal Role in the Iranian Nuclear Standoff - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^wired.com: "How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History" (Zetter) 07.11.11^wired.com: "Stuxnet Missing Link Found, Resolves Some Mysteries Around the Cyberweapon" (Zetter) 02.26.13^ abc"German-Iranian trade up 7.8 percent". Payvand.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^The Cost of Economic Sanctions on Major Exporters to Iran^Iran warns Germany: Don't let 'Zionists' harm your interests^"Germany-Iran trade grows 9% in 2010". Payvand.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^http://tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=229816^Laurence Norman and Jay Solomon (9 November 2013). "Iran Nuclear Talks End Without Deal". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 November 2013. ^"PressTV - Positive Iran-P5+1 talks in Almaty, Israel's total defeat: Report". Presstv.ir. Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^James Reynolds (2013-10-16). "BBC News - Iran nuclear checks most detailed ever - Ashton". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-26. ^Iran test-fires long-range missile, Reuters, 10 February 2014^Iran sets 'red lines' ahead of fresh nuclear talks, AFP, 11 February 2014^"Next Round of Iran Nuclear Talks to be held in Vienna from March 17". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 20 February 2014. ^Framework Is Set for Iran Nuclear Talks, Wall Street Journal; 19, Feb, 2014^Gold, Dore. "Inspections: The Weak Link in a Nuclear Agreement with Iran". ^"Experts Discuss Framework for a Final Iran Nuclear Agreement". Brookings Institution. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
Wendy Sherman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia-ALBRIGHT GROUP!
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:41
Originally a social worker, Sherman began her career working to help battered women and the urban poor.
As part of the neighborhood movement, she worked as a social activist, alongside activists like Geno Baroni and Art Naparstak on problems related to low-income housing.
Sherman's early jobs were in partisan politics and social work. These included working as the director of EMILY's List, which provides money to pro-choice, female, Democratic political candidates. She also worked as director of Maryland's office of child welfare and as the president and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation, an arm of Fannie Mae.
Sherman has worked in a variety of positions in both government and non-profit organizations: chief of staff for three years for then Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski, campaign manager for Mikulski's first successful Senate campaign, Special Secretary for Children and Youth in Maryland (a cabinet-level position), Director of Maryland's Office of Child Welfare, supervising protective services, foster care, adoptions, and group homes.
Sherman directed Campaign '88 for the Democratic National Committee, where she oversaw field and political operations, communications, Congressional relations, constituency operations, issue development and coordination with all federal, state and local campaigns during the 1988 general election.
From 1991 to 1993, Sherman specialized in strategic communications as a partner in the political and media consulting firm of' Doak, Shrum, Harris and Sherman. Prior to that, she directed EMILY's List, the largest financial and political resource for pro-choice Democratic women candidates.
From 1993 to 1996, Sherman served under United States Secretary of StateWarren Christopher as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, where she directed the legislative efforts of the State Department with the U.S. Congress. Among other issues, she led the efforts to obtain the funding for Russia and the newly independent states after the break-up of the Soviet Union and support for the Dayton accords.
After working as CEO and President of the Fannie Mae Foundation, she then returned to the State Department as Madeleine Albright's counselor, with the rank of Ambassador, appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate. She advised United States Secretary of StateMadeleine Albright on issues of foreign policy, provided guidance to the Department and undertook special assignments.
She has been a Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, Albright's international strategic consulting firm, since the group's formation in 2009. She advised Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign, and she has served with Thomas Donilon as an agency review lead for the State Department in the Obama presidential transition.
Chief US nuclear negotiator with IranEditOn September 21, 2011, she was appointed to the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the United States Secretary of State.
In this capacity she has led the US team during six negotiating rounds between Iran and world about Tehran's nuclear energy. Before negotiation between Iran and 5+1 in Geneva in October 2013 she made a comment about the Iranian strategy for negotiation in the senate committee stating ''we know that deception is part of the DNA.'' which caused her some trouble and a number of Iranian officials including some parliament members asked her to apologize.
North Korea nuclear negotiationsEditWendy Sherman was the Clinton administration's policy coordinator for North Korea. The Clinton Administration had first arrived at the 1994 Agreed Framework under which, North Korea agreed to freeze and dismantle its nuclear weapons program, including its main reactor at Yongbyon (Sherman continues to defend the 1994 deal and her involvement in it, stating that "during the Clinton administration not one ounce of plutonium was added to the North Korean stockpile"). Sherman later headed North Korean negotiation policy until 2001. In 2001, following years of secret negotiations with Kim Jong Il, North Korea had promised not to produce, test or deploy missiles with a range of more than 300 miles. That offer would prevent North Korea from fielding missiles that could strike the United States. North Korea also offered to halt the sale of missiles, missile components, technology and training.
In 2001, in a New York Times op-ed, Sherman recommended that the only way the US deal could deal with North Korea's disputed programs and prevent them achieving a nuclear capability was through diplomacy, writing that Kim Jong Il now "appears ready to make landmark commitments".
In 1999, James Baker criticized her team's negotiating strategy with North Korea as "appeasement" '' that was rewarding the North Korean regime for minimal concessions, and he said that as a result they would fail to prevent their nuclear program. In 2011, John Bolton said that Wendy Sherman had been central in forming a policy on North Korea that was "nothing less than appeasement."
Fannie MaeEditFrom April 1996, Sherman became founding President and CEO of the newly created Fannie Mae Foundation, which was developed by Fannie Mae and endowed with $350 million in Fannie stock, with the goal of promoting home ownership and mortgages across wider sectors of American society. She has also been a member of the operating committee of Fannie Mae. At Fannie Mae, she set in place the groundwork for the newly recreated foundation.
In 1996, she described her mission as the first president of the Fannie Mae Foundation:
In other words, it is broadly reaching out to American citizens and saying to them: "You can have access to affordable housing. You might be able to get started on the path to homeownership, and we can at least give you some information that might help you get on your way."
In addition, two other programs came over. One is the New Americans Program, which is an effort to reach out to new citizens and immigrants to this country, because it was found in some research done in 1995 by Fannie Mae that immigrants who are renters are three times more likely to become homeowners than are other renters '' because part of the American dream is to become a citizen and own your home.
The last piece is an initiative trying to end some of the discriminatory practices in the mortgage lending business. We have a beginning of a program, where we are going to work with community colleges and other partnerships to help folks take courses and get into the mortgage lending business, so that the people who sit across the table '' they become loan officers '' may look a little bit more like you, might understand your culture and your values.EditOn February 27, 2015, Sherman told a conference at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace "The Koreans and Chinese have quarreled with Tokyo over so-called comfort women from World War II. There are disagreements about the content of history books and even the names given to various bodies of water. All this is understandable, but it can also be frustrating." She continued "Of course, nationalist feelings can still be exploited, and it's not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy. But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress." Her comments were condemned by South Korea, but an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies said the reaction to Ms Sherman's remarks seemed excessive, and that her comments were in line with US policy.
U.S. nuclear negotiator declines setting deadline on Iran deal
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:39
Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:50pm EDTBy Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lead U.S. nuclear negotiator declined to give a final deadline on Tuesday for negotiating a final nuclear agreement with Iran, but said participants mean to finish the international talks at the end of the current four-month extension.
"Our intent is absolutely to end this on Nov. 24 in one direction or another. But what I can say to you is we will consult Congress along the way," Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of State for political affairs, said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Iran and six world powers agreed to extend nuclear talks, and the temporary agreement, by four months after they failed to reach a July 20 deadline for a long-term deal. The deal would gradually lift sanctions, which have crippled Iran's economy, in exchange for curbs on Tehran's atomic program.
Many members of the U.S. Congress are skeptical about the talks and say they are concerned that Iran is negotiating only to win lighter sanctions while secretly continuing its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
"I've been skeptical of the Iranians' sincerity from day one. And I cannot say that I am any less skeptical today than I was six months ago," said New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations panel.
Sherman declined to discuss in the public hearing how long a final comprehensive agreement with Iran, including invasive inspections of its nuclear facilities, should last.
She said only, "We believe the duration of this should be at least double-digits. And we believe it should be for quite a long time."
Several committee Republicans said they were unhappy with the status of the talks. "The goalposts keep moving," said one, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker who is the party's leader on the panel.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Grant McCool)
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Yukiya Amano - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:36
Japanese Ministry of Foreign AffairsEditAmano held different posts in the foreign ministry such as the Director of the Science Division and Director of the Nuclear Energy Division in 1993. As a member of the Diplomatic service, he was posted in the Embassies of Japan in Vientiane, Washington and Brussels, in the Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and was Consul General of Japan in Marseille.
In August 2002, he was appointed Director-General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs, and in August 2004, he was appointed Director-General of the Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Science Department. In these positions, he was involved in international negotiations such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty extension, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention verification protocol, amendment of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. He represented Japan as a governmental expert on the UN Panel on Missiles in April 2001 and in the UN Expert Group on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education in July 2001.
International Atomic Energy AgencyEditIn 2005, Amano served as the ambassador from Japan to the IAEA. From September 2005 to September 2006, Amano served as the Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors. During this time, the IAEA and its Director General Mohamed ElBaradei received the Nobel Peace Prize. Amano represented the IAEA as the chairman at the Nobel Prize award ceremony held in December 2005.
In September 2008, the Japanese government announced that it had nominated Yukiya Amano to be the next Director General of the IAEA. On 2 July 2009, he was elected by the Board of Governors as Director General for the IAEA in the sixth round of voting. He defeated South African representative Abdul Samad Minty, his primary rival. On 3 July 2009 all 145 IAEA member states formally appointed Yukiya Amano "by acclamation".
On 1 December 2009, Amano began his first term as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In November 2010, British newspaper The Guardian reported on a U.S. diplomatic cable originating a year earlier in Vienna and supplied to the newspaper by WikiLeaks, detailing a meeting between Amano and an American ambassador. The author of the cable summarized a statement by Amano in which the latter offered that he "was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program." In March 2012, Amano was accused by several former senior IAEA officials of pro-western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence and of sidelining sceptics.
Views on nuclear proliferationEditIn an interview mid-2009 with the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Yukiya Amano said he was "resolute in opposing the spread of nuclear arms because I am from a country that experienced Hiroshima and Nagasaki".
Views on nuclear powerEditYukiya Amano said, at the Center for Energy Sustainability and Economics' Nuclear Power Forum, "it is vital that concerns regarding safety and security are addressed. Safety and security are primarily the responsibility of each sovereign state. However, the IAEA has a strong role to play, because an accident or malicious act may have far-reaching and cross-border consequences." 
According to Amano, "(t)here has been a very significant improvement in the efficient and safe performance of the nuclear industry in the past two decades. This reflects factors including improved design, better operating procedures, a strengthened and more effective regulatory environment and the emergence of a strong safety culture. The IAEA promotes an integrated approach to nuclear safety, focusing on management systems, effective leadership and safety culture. It is important that countries´ safety and security infrastructures keep pace with developments in all areas of nuclear science and technology. We must never be complacent."
Official visit to the PhilippinesEditOn 10 December 2010, at the opening session of the Nuclear Power Forum organised by Center for Energy Sustainability and Economics and Arc Media Global, Amano said that the IAEA has "provided assistance in strengthening the country´s capabilities in nuclear science and technology and energy planning" as well as "advice on developing a Human Resource Development Plan for Nuclear Energy." At the Forum, Amano said the Philippines "plays an important role at the global level, for example by chairing the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Philippines assumed presidency of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010, which discussed peaceful use of nuclear energy, non-proliferation, and disarmament of nations developing nuclear weapons. Amano also visited the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant on 11 December 2010, during the Forum's second day. According to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the IAEA can assess the possible rehabilitation of the plant. During Amano's official visit, he held meetings with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. The Philippine government is also looking at expanding its cooperation with the IAEA in training health professionals in the use of cancer radiotherapy.
Involvement in nuclear emergency after Japanese earthquake and tsunamiEditAfter the Fukushima I nuclear accidents on 11 March 2011, Amano held a meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Tokyo on 18 March. Amano, "who had just arrived from the agency's headquarters ... said he would dispatch a team 'within days' to monitor radiation near the damaged plant." At the meeting, Amano said Kan "agreed on the necessity to disclose as much information as possible on the unfolding nuclear crisis in Fukushima. 'What's important is coordination with international society and better transparency,' Mr. Amano told reporters before the meeting."
Mohamed ElBaradei - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:35
Family and personal lifeEditElBaradei was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. He was one of five children of Mostafa ElBaradei, an attorney who headed the Egyptian Bar Association. ElBaradei's father was also a supporter of democratic rights in Egypt, supporting a free press and an independent judiciary.
ElBaradei is married to Aida El-Kachef, an early-childhood teacher. They have two children: a daughter, Laila, who is a lawyer living in London; and a son, Mostafa, who is an IT manager living in Cairo. They also have two granddaughters, Maya and Nina.
A native speaker of Arabic, ElBaradei is also fluent in English and French, and knows ''enough German to get by, at least in Vienna.''
Education and early careerEditElBaradei earned a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Cairo in 1962, a master's degree in international law at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and a J.S.D. in International Law at the New York University School of Law in 1974. His thesis was titled "The right of passage through straits in time of peace".
His diplomatic career began in 1964 in the Ministry of External Affairs, where he served in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, in charge of political, legal, and arms-control issues. From 1974 to 1978, he was a special assistant to the foreign minister. In 1980, he became a senior fellow in charge of the International Law Program at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. From 1981 to 1987, he was also an adjunct professor of international law at the New York University School of Law.
In 1984, ElBaradei became a senior staff member of the IAEA Secretariat, serving as the agency's legal adviser (1984 to 1993) and Assistant Director General for External Relations (1993 to 1997). ElBaradei is currently a member of both the International Law Association and the American Society of International Law.
Public career as IAEA Director General (1997''2009)EditElBaradei began to serve as Director General of the IAEA, which is based in Vienna, on 1 December 1997, succeeding Hans Blix of Sweden. He was re-elected for two more four-year terms in 2001 and in 2005. His third and last term ended in November 2009. ElBaradei's tenure has been marked by high-profile, non-proliferation issues, which include the inspections in Iraq preceding the March 2003 invasion, and tensions over the nuclear program of Iran.
First term as Director GeneralEditAfter being appointed by the IAEA General Conference in 1997, ElBaradei said in his speech that, ''for international organizations to enjoy the confidence and support of their members, they have to be responsive to [members'] needs; show concrete achievements; conduct their activities in a cost-effective manner; and respect a process of equitable representation, transparency, and open dialogue.''
Just a couple of months before ElBaradei took office, the Model Additional Protocol was adopted, creating a new environment for IAEA verification by giving it greater authority to look for undeclared nuclear activities. When in office, ElBaradei launched a program to establish ''integrated safeguards'' combining the IAEA's comprehensive safeguard agreements with the newly adopted Additional Protocol. In his statement to the General Conference in 1998, he called upon all states to conclude the Additional Protocol: ''One of the main purposes of the strengthened-safeguards system can be better achieved with global adherence. I would, therefore, urge all states with outstanding-safeguards agreements to conclude them, and I would also urge all states to accelerate their consideration of the Model Additional Protocol and enter into consultations with the Agency at the earliest possible opportunity. We should work together to ensure that, by the year 2000, all states [will] have concluded outstanding-safeguards agreements and also the Additional Protocol.'' ElBaradei repeated this call through his years as the Director General of the IAEA. In November 2009, 93 countries had Additional Protocols in force.
ElBaradei's first term ended in November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. These attacks made clear that more needed to be done to protect nuclear material and installations from theft or a terrorist attack. Consequently, ElBaradei established a nuclear security program to combat the risk of nuclear terrorism by assisting member states to strengthen the protection of their nuclear and radioactive material and installations, the Nuclear Security Fund.
Second term as Director GeneralEditOne of the major issues during ElBaradei's second term as the director general of the IAEA was the agency's inspections in Iraq. ElBaradei disputed the U.S. rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq from the time of the 2002 Iraq disarmament crisis, when he, along with Hans Blix, led a team of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. ElBaradei told the UN Security Council in March 2003 that documents purporting to show that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium from Niger were not authentic.
ElBaradei described the U.S. invasion of Iraq as "a glaring example of how, in many cases, the use of force exacerbates the problem rather than [solves] it." ElBaradei further stated that "we learned from Iraq that an inspection takes time, that we should be patient, that an inspection can, in fact, work," and that he had "been validated" in concluding that Saddam Hussein had not revived his nuclear weapons program.
In a 2004 op-ed piece on the dangers of nuclear proliferation, in the New York Times (12 February 2004), ElBaradei stated that "[w]e must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security '' and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use." He went on to say "If the world does not change course, we risk self-destruction."
Third and final term as Director GeneralEditThe United States initially voiced opposition to his election to a third four-year term in 2005. In a May 2005 interview with the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of StateColin Powell, charged former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International SecurityJohn Bolton with an underhanded campaign to unseat ElBaradei. ''Mr. Bolton overstepped his bounds in his moves and gyrations to try to keep [ElBaradei] from being reappointed as [IAEA] head,'' Wilkerson said. The Washington Post reported in December 2004 that the Bush administration had intercepted dozens of ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and was scrutinizing them for evidence [that] they could use to force him out. IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said the agency worked on "the assumption that one or more entities may be listening to our conversations." "It's not how we would prefer to work, but it is the reality. At the end of the day, we have nothing to hide," he said. Iran responded to the Washington Post reports by accusing the U.S. of violating international law in intercepting the communications.
The United States was the only country to oppose ElBaradei's reappointment and eventually failed to win enough support from other countries to oust ElBaradei. On 9 June 2005, after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice and ElBaradei, the United States dropped its objections. Among countries that supported ElBaradei were China, Russia, Germany, and France. China praised his leadership and objectivity, and supported him for doing "substantial fruitful work, which has maintained the agency's role and credit in international non-proliferation and promoted the development of peaceful use of nuclear energy. His work has been universally recognized in the international community. China appreciates Mr. El Baradei's work and supports his reelection as the agency's director general." France, Germany, and some developing countries, have made clear their support for ElBaradei as well. Russia issued a strong statement in favor of re-electing him as soon as possible.
ElBaradei was unanimously re-appointed by the IAEA board on 13 June 2005.
EditIn 2008, ElBaradei said that he would not be seeking a fourth term as director general. Moreover, he said, in an IAEA document, that he was "not available for a further term" in office. In its first five rounds of voting, the IAEA Board of Governors was split in its decision regarding the next director general. ElBaradei said, "I just hope that the agency has a candidate acceptable to all'--north, south, east, west'--because that is what is needed." After several rounds of voting, on 3 July 2009, Mr. Yukiya Amano, Japanese ambassador to the IAEA, was elected as the next IAEA director general.
ElBaradei and U.S. RelationsEditElBaradei, leader of the National Coalition for Change, has been a major voice for democratic change in Egypt since 2009 and was a significant leader during the recent protests. However, he has a rocky history with the U.S. government and supports some policies that do not support current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. During his tenure as Director General of the IAEA (1997-2009), for instance, ElBaradei downplayed claims of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program, which undermined U.S. efforts to press Iran over its safeguards violations. According to a 3 July 2003 article in Time Magazine, ElBaradei also maintained that Iraq's nuclear program had not restarted before the 2003 Iraq War, contradicting claims by the Bush Administration. He told the German news magazine Der Spiegel on 12 July 2010 that he wanted to open the Gaza Strip '' Egypt border and accused Israel of being the biggest threat to the Middle East because of their nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei has called for international criminal investigation of former Bush administration officials for their roles in planning the war on Iraq.
Multinational control of the nuclear fuel cycleEditIn an op-ed that he wrote for the Economist in 2003, ElBaradei outlined his idea for the future of the nuclear fuel cycle. His suggestion was to ''limit the processing of weapon-usable material in civilian nuclear programs, as well as the production of new material, by agreeing to restrict these operations exclusively to facilities under multinational control.'' Also, ''nuclear-energy systems should be deployed that, by design, avoid the use of materials that may be applied directly to making nuclear weapons.'' He concluded by saying that ''considerable advantages would be gained from international co-operation in these stages of the nuclear-fuel cycle. These initiatives would not simply add more non-proliferation controls, to limit access to weapon-usable nuclear material; they would also provide access to the benefits of nuclear technology for more people in more countries.''
Non-nuclear-weapon states have been reluctant to embrace these proposals due to a perception that the commercial or strategic interests of nuclear-weapon states motivate the proposals, a perception that the proposals produce a dependency on a limited number of nuclear fuel suppliers, and a concern that the proposal restricts their unalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Technical cooperation and cancer controlEditElBaradei's work does not only concentrate on nuclear verification. Another very important aspect is development through nuclear technology. In 2004, ElBaradei sponsored a comprehensive global initiative'--the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT)--to fight cancer. In one of his statements, ElBaradei said: ''A silent crisis in cancer treatment persists in developing countries and is intensifying every year. At least 50 to 60 percent of cancer victims can benefit from radiotherapy, but most developing countries do not have enough radiotherapy machines or sufficient numbers of specialized doctors and other health professionals.'' In the first year of operation, PACT provided cancer-treatment capacity in seven member states, using the IAEA's share of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
In his speech to the 2008 General Conference, ElBaradei said that ''development activities remain central to our work. Our resources have long been insufficient to keep pace with requests for support, and we have increasingly made use of partnerships with other organizations, regional collaborations and country-to-country support. I again emphasise that technical cooperation is not a bargaining chip, part of a political 'balance' between the development and safeguards activities of the agency.''
International Crisis GroupEditElBaradei served on the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization that enjoys an annual budget of over $15 million and is bankrolled by the Carnegie, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as George Soros' Open Society Institute. Soros himself serves as a member of the organization's Executive Committee.
Egyptian politicsEdit2011 Egyptian revolutionEditDuring the early days of the Egyptian Revolution, ElBaradei's speechwriter and long-time associate Laban Coblentz and other IAEA colleagues of ElBaradei contradicted the notion that ElBaradei had only recently become engaged in Egyptian politics, saying he had never relinquished his focus on human rights deficiencies in his home country. Coblentz noted that ElBaradei had first confronted Mubarak in early 2003, during the lead-up to the Iraq War, as well as on subsequent encounters.
Coblentz also pointed out the role that social media played in convincing ElBaradei that the young people of Egypt were ready for change: ''It was really this last 14 months, where someone I knew as not being particularly computer savvy, taught himself to use Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and started to do in virtual space what was forbidden to do by the Mubarak regime, the freedom of assembly by large groups.''
While speaking at the HarvardKennedy School of Government on 27 April 2010, ElBaradei joked that he is "looking for a job" and is seeking to be an "agent of change and an advocate for democracy" within Egyptian politics. He also made clear that his wife is not very enthusiastic about any potential run.
On 27 January 2011, ElBaradei returned to Egypt amid ongoing turmoil, with the largest mass protests in 30 years, which had begun two days earlier, on 25 January 2011. ElBaradei declared himself ready to lead a transitional government if that was the will of the nation, saying that, "If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down." Subsequently, "when he joined protesters Friday after noon prayers, police fired water cannons at him and his supporters. They used batons to beat some of ElBaradei's supporters, who surrounded him to protect him." On 28 January 2011, ElBaradei was reported to have been placed under house arrest in Egypt. However, the next day, when he was interviewed by Al Jazeera, he said that he was unaware of any such arrest.
Later on, ElBaradei arrived in Tahrir Square to join thousands of other protesters against the Mubarak regime and spoke directly to the people, stating that they "have taken back [their] rights" and that they cannot go back. A number of Egyptian political movements have called on ElBaradei to form a transitional government. ElBaradei has also stated that "the people [of Egypt] want the regime to fall." In response to the appointment of Omar Suleiman as the new vice president of Egypt, ElBaradei stated that it was a "hopeless, desperate attempt by Mubarak to stay in power. I think [that] it is loud and clear...that Mubarak has to leave today." Additionally, ElBaradei restated his position that, when Egypt does become a democratic nation, "there is no reason to believe that a democracy in Egypt would not lead to a better relationship with the US based on respect and equity."
The Guardian reported that ElBaradei has been mandated by the Muslim Brotherhood and four other opposition groups to negotiate an interim "national salvation government." However, BBC reports that the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition party banned by Mubarak's regime, has not consented to the choice of ElBaradei as the representative of the opposition. "The people have not appointed Mohamed ElBaradei to become a spokesman of them. The Muslim Brotherhood is much stronger than Mohamed ElBaradei as a person. And we do not agree [that he should represent] this movement. The movement is represented by itself, and it will [appoint] a committee. . .to [delegate its representatives]."
His appointment is controversial largely because of the long periods that he has spent outside the country. His appointment is seen as a recognition of the importance of various Western nations' support of the revolts.
Possible presidential candidacyEditElBaradei's name has been circulated by opposition groups since 2009 as a possible candidate to succeed President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt's highest executive position.
ElBaradei did not make any clear statements regarding his intentions to run for the office; however, he has demanded that certain conditions be met to ensure fair elections accompanied by changes to the constitution that will allow more freedom for independent candidates before he would actually consider running for the presidency. Several opposition groups have endorsed him, considering him a neutral figure who could transition the country to greater democracy.
On 24 February 2010, ElBaradei met with several opposition leaders and notable intellectuals at his home in Cairo. The meeting was concluded with an announcement for the formation of a new non-party-political movement called the "National Association for Change." The movement aims for general reforms in the political scene and mainly article 76 of the Egyptian constitution, which places restrictions on free presidential elections, especially when it comes to independent candidates. The banned political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was represented at the meeting by one of its key figures; however, its stand in accepting a non-member of its group as a representative is still unclear. It is also unknown whether Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League who met with ElBaradei a day earlier, will be part of the new movement.
On 7 March 2011 it was announced that ElBaradei intended to run for the presidential elections, this intention was later clearly stated in a live interview by ElBaradei to the ON TV channel 10 March 2011. On 14 January 2012 ElBaradei declared he would not run for president.
On 4 July 2013 ElBaradei was mentioned as a favorite to head a transitional Egyptian government amid the 2013 Egyptian coup d'(C)tat as the prime minister.
President of Constitution PartyEditOn 28 April 2012, ElBaradei launched the Constitution Party (DL). This date was too late to allow him to run for the presidency. The party claims itself as liberal, in order to protect and promote the principles and objectives of the 25 January 2011 Revolution according to liberal ideals. ElBaradei became a prominent figure of the Egyptian opposition. On 24 November, DL formed together with the secular parties the National Salvation Front, a coalition of the primary opposition parties against President Mohamed Morsi's decrees. On 5 December 2012, he became the coordinator of National Salvation Front.
Vice PresidentEditMohamed ElBaradei was involved in the coup d'(C)tat that toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against the perceived mismanagement of the country, the refusal of Morsi to form a coalition government, and the authoritarian influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on what had been a secularMuslim-majority state for decades. ElBaradei was one of the opposition figures who met with Defence Minister Abdul Fatah al-Sisi in the days before the coup; he was described by Reuters as the "designated negotiator" for the political opposition. ElBaradei gave support to the military's plan to oust Morsi and begin implementing a "political road map" for Egypt, including the installation of Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour as interim president of Egypt. He was present when General Sisi announced the temporary suspension of the constitution and the removal of Morsi from power.
In the political transition following Morsi's ejection from the presidency, ElBaradei was immediately mentioned as a candidate for interim prime minister. He reportedly denied interest in the position at first. There were reports that ElBaradei would be named prime minister, which were retracted after objections by the Nour Party, on 7 July. He was sworn in as Vice President, responsible for international relations, on 14 July 2013.
14 August government raids and resignationEditOn 14 August 2013, following a violent crackdown by security forces on supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, in which at least 525 people were killed, ElBaradei resigned as vice president. In his resignation letter, ElBaradei stated: ''...I always saw peaceful alternatives for resolving this societal wrangling. Certain solutions were proposed, which could have led to national conciliation, but things have come this far ... It has become difficult for me to continue bearing the responsibility for decisions with which I do not agree and the consequences of which I fear. I cannot bear the responsibility for a single drop of blood before God, before my own conscience or the citizens...'' He then left the country for Vienna, where he was previously based in his UN capacity.
After his resignation, an Egyptian law professor at Helwan University, Sayyed Ateeq, filed lawsuit against ElBaradei, accusing him of a "betrayal of trust". As Ateeq told Reuters, "Dr. ElBaradei was entrusted with this position and he had a duty to go back to those who entrusted him and ask to resign." The case will be heard in Cairo in September.
During his tenure as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, ElBaradei has been recognized with many awards for his efforts to ensure that nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes.
2005 Nobel Peace PrizeEditOn 7 October 2005, ElBaradei and the IAEA were announced as joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for their "efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way." ElBaradei donated all of his winnings to building orphanages in Cairo. The IAEA's winnings are being spent to train scientists from developing countries to use nuclear techniques in combating cancer and malnutrition. ElBaradei is the fourth Egyptian to receive the Nobel Prize, following Anwar Sadat (1978 in Peace), Naguib Mahfouz (1988 in Literature), and Ahmed Zewail (1999 in Chemistry).
In his Nobel lecture, ElBaradei said that the changing landscape of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament may be defined by the emergence of an extensive black market in nuclear material and equipment, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and sensitive nuclear technology, and the stagnation in nuclear disarmament. To combat proliferation, ElBaradei has suggested keeping nuclear and radiological material out of the hands of extremist groups, tightening control over the operations for producing the nuclear material that could be used in weapons, and accelerating disarmament efforts. ElBaradei also stated that only one percent of the money spent to develop new weapons would be enough to feed the entire world and that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience and no role in our security.
United Nations Secretary GeneralKofi Annan said that he was delighted that the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to the UN nuclear watchdog and its head, ElBaradei. "The secretary general congratulates him and the entire staff of the agency, past and present, on their contributions to global peace," a spokesman for Annan said.
Postage issuesEditEgypt Post on 8 October 2005 commemorated this award by issuing a set of two postage stamps. In 1 June 2009, to commemorate 4th Extraordinary Session of PAPU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Cairo between the 1st and 9 June, Egypt Post issued a set of 16 stamps bearing African winners of Nobel Prizes, among which one is of ElBaradei
Other awards and recognitionEditThis article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.ElBaradei has received many awards for his work as director of the IAEA:
ElBaradei has also received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Dublin, Trinity College; New York University; the University of Maryland; the American University in Cairo; the Free Mediterranean University (LUM) in Bari, Italy; Soka University of Japan; Tsinghua University of Beijing; the Polytechnic University of Bucharest; the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid; Konkuk University in Seoul; the University of Florence; the University of Buenos Aires; the National University of Cuyo in Argentina; Amherst College and Cairo University.
He is also a member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation's Ibrahim Prize Committee.
PublicationsEditElBaradei is the author or editor of several books:
El Baradei, Mohamed. The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co, 2011. ISBN 9780805093506 According to WorldCat, the book is held in 915 libraries Translated into Polish, German, Dutch,and ArabicEl Baradei, Mohamed, E. I. Nwogugu, and John M. Rames., editors. The International Law of Nuclear Energy: Basic Documents. Dordrecht: M. Nijhoff, 1993.2 v.ISBN 9780792317470El Baradei, Mohamed. Atoms for Peace: A Pictorial History of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 1957-2007. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, 2007. ISBN 9789201038074ReferencesEdit^Jahn, George (30 November 2009), ''Outgoing IAEA chief leaves complex legacy,''Associated Press, Retrieved 5 February 2011 on msnbc.com.ElBaradei, who describes himself as having a Muslim background, sometimes cites his favorite Christian prayer when speaking of his role on the world stage.
^"History '' Muslim Public Affairs Council (October 2006: MPAC presents inaugural "Human Security Award" to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.)". Muslim Public Affairs Council. Retrieved 5 February 2011. ^Ø§ÙØ§ÙØªØµØ§Ø¯ÙØ(C) : ÙÙØ§ÙØ(C) Ø§ÙØ£ÙØ¨Ø§Ø Ø§ÙÙ
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ÙØ¯Ø§Ù Ø±Ø§Ø¨Ø¹Ø(C) Ø§ÙØ¹Ø¯ÙÙØ(C). Aleqt.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-14.^"Mohamed ElBaradei". Notable Biographies. 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^ ab"Director General ElBaradei's Biography". International Atomic Energy Agency. Retrieved 5 February 2011. ^"Mohamed ElBaradei Interview'--Nobel Prize for Peace". The American Academy of Achievement. 3 June 2006. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2011. ^Julius Library Catalog at NYU Law (entry for Mohamed El Baradei, ''The right of passage through straits in time of peace [microform] / by Mohamed M. El-Baradei,'' Thesis (S.J.D.)--New York University, 1974, Retrieved 4 February 2011), julius.law.nyu.edu/record=b418078~S0.^N.Y.U. L. Rev.60 (index): i'--x (front matter). 1985. Google search result.^"IAEA Board Reappoints Director General Mohamed ElBaradei". IAEA. 13 June 2005. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^"Board Meeting on Director General Appointment". IAEA. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^ElBaradei, Mohamed (29 September 1997). "Strengthened Safeguards System: Status of Additional Protocols". IAEA. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^"Strengthened Safeguards System: Status of Additional Protocols". IAEA. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^ElBaradei, Mohamed (23 September 2005). "Nuclear Security '' Measures to Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism". IAEA. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^Boyle, Jon (22 October 2007). "Iran seen to need 3''8 yrs to produce bomb". Reuters. Retrieved 21 June 2008. ^"Iraq war wasn't justified, U.N. weapons experts say". CNN. 21 March 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^Lynch, Colum; Linzer, Dafna (2 November 2004). "U.N. Nuclear Agency Chief Urges Iran to Suspend Activities". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^ElBaradei, Mohamed (2 December 2004). "Saving Ourselves from Self Destruction". IAEA. Retrieved 21 June 2008. ^ abVoice of America: IAEA Postpones Decision on ElBaradei's Third Term[dead link]^ abc"ElBaradei Set to Win Third Term". Arms Control Today. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^"ElBaradei 'has nothing to hide'". BBC News. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^"Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Jianchao's Press Conference on 16 December 2004". China-botschaft. 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^"US agrees to back UN nuclear head". BBC News. 9 June 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2008. ^"IAEA chief ElBaradei will not seek fourth term". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^Voice of America: IAEA Chief ElBaradei Will Not Seek Another Term[dead link]^"5-Vote impasse reopens race to head UN atom watchdog". Reuters. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011. ^de Nesera, Andr(C) (2 February 2011). "Former Egyptian Diplomat ElBaradei Face of Opposition to President Mubarak". Voice of America. ^Pleming, Sue (19 September 2007). "Rice swipes at IAEA, urges bold action on Iran". Rueters. ^Follach, Erich (12 July 2010). "Interview with Mohammed ElBaradei". Der Spiegel. ^"Former IAEA head suggests Iraq war crime probe of Bush administration."AP, 22 April 2011.^ElBaradei, Mohamed (16 October 2003). "Towards a Safer World". The Economist. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^American Society of International Law: The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Taking Stock after the May 2008 Preparatory Committee Meeting ?^"IAEA Nobel Peace Prize Cancer and Nutrition Fund". IAEA. May 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^ElBaradei, Mohamed (29 September 2008). "IAEA At a Crossroads (Abridged Version)". IAEA. Retrieved 1 December 2009. ^Crisis Group's Board of Trustees '' International Crisis Group^Tirone, Jonathan (1 February 2011). "ElBaradei's Decade Of Scolding Mubarak Belies Image Of Distant Bureaucrat". Bloomberg. Retrieved 9 July 2012. ^"Thursday's Intriguing People". CNN. Retrieved 9 July 2012. ^"Nonproliferation & Arms Control : Challenges & Opportunities". Harvard University Institute of Politics. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^Memmott, Mark (27 January 2011). "ElBaradei Back In Egypt; Says It's Time For A New Government". NPR. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^AP (1 February 2010). "Five People Killed During Protests in Egypt". FoxNews.com. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^Mubarak Faces His Biggest Challenge Amid Nationwide Protests^Thousands in Cairo defy curfew^ElBaradei's speech on Tahrir Square^"Video '' Breaking News Videos from". CNN.com. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^Kevin Connolly (31 January 2011). "Egypt protesters step up pressure on Hosni Mubarak". BBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^"Egyptian opposition wants ElBaradei to run for president". Tehran Times. 8 October 2009. ^"El Baradei to run for president of Egypt?". Daily Times. 7 October 2009. ^"Arab League chief refuses to rule out Egypt presidential bid". Earth Times. 20 October 2009. ^ElBaradei to form 'national association for change'^"Ø§ÙØ¨Ø±Ø§Ø¯Ø¹Ù ÙØ¹ÙÙ ØªØ±Ø´ØÙ ÙÙØ±Ø...Ø§Ø"Ø(C)". Masrawy.com. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^"ElBaradei, in Protest, Drops Bid for Egypt's Presidency". New York Times. 14 January 2012. ^"Sources: ElBaradei Tops List to Head Egypt Government", Voice of America News, retrieved 4 July 2013.^UK Independent, July 3, 2013, "Profiles: Adly Mansour and Mohamed ElBaradei - Egypt's incoming leaders" http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/profiles-adly-mansour-and-mohamed-elbaradei--egypts-incoming-leaders-8686258.html^BBC News (28 April 2012). "Baradei launches new Egyptian party, but too late for election". Retrieved 28 April 2012. ^"Ø§ÙØ¯Ø"ØªÙØ±" ÙØªÙØ¯Ù
Ø¨Ø£ÙØ±Ø§ÙÙ ÙÙØ¬ÙØ(C) Ø§ÙØ£ØØ²Ø§Ø¨ Ù"Ø§ÙØ¨Ø±Ø§Ø¯Ø¹Ù": ÙØ¯ÙÙØ§"ÙÙ
ÙÙÙ Ø§ÙØ´Ø¨Ø§Ø¨"". Al-Masry Al-Youm. Retrieved 30 August 2012. ^"Mohammed ElBaradei Favorite To Head Egypt's Interim Government". Reuters. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. ^"ElBaradei said to turn down interim Egypt prime minister post". The Times of Israel. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. ^"Egyptian interim president nominates two for leadership posts". Retrieved 7 July 2013. ^"Egypt's Salafist party rejects choices for premier, vice-president". Al Arabiya. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013. ^Aya Batrawy, "Egypt's defense minister defends ousting president", Associated Press, 14 July 2013.^"Egyptian security forces storm protesters' camps". The Washington Post. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. ^"Egypt's VP Mohamed ElBaradei resigns in protest against crackdown". Los Angeles Times. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. ^"Unedited alleged letter of resignation of interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei". Al Jazeera. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013. ^ ab"Cairo court sets trial date for ElBaradei". Al Jazeera. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013. ^"Now Mohamed ElBaradei faces the wrath of Egyptian army after resigning from cabinet". The Independent. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013. ^ abNoueihed, Lin (20 August 2013). "Egypt's ElBaradei faces court for 'betrayal of trust'". Reuters. Retrieved 20 August 2013. ^The Nobel Foundation: Mohamed ElBaradei, The Nobel Peace Prize 2005^Peoples Daily: Int'l community hails IAEA, ElBaradei's winning of Nobel Peace Prize^Stamps number EG029.05 and EG030.05 (of the WADPNumbering System commemorating the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to ElBaradei]^MCIT | News | Egypt Post to Host the Fourth PAPU Extraordinary Session^Stamp number EG021.09 of the WNS commemorating the 4th Extraordinary Session of PAPU Plenipotentiary Conference]^"Der Bundespr¤sident / "Vision¤r f¼r eine Menschheitsfamilie" '' Ansprache von Bundespr¤sident Horst K¶hler anl¤sslich der Verleihung des Groen Verdien". www.bundespraesident.de. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2011. ^Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award Laureates since 1982^ abYale University: ElBaradei Will Speak at Yale^Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: ElBaradei Remarks at Georgetown University^MPAC: Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei to be Presented with MPAC's Human Security Award^Arriv(C)e de Gra§a Machel au Comit(C) d'attribution du Prix Mo Ibrahim^ abAmherst: Amherst College To Honor Atomic Agency Head, Princeton President and Five Others at Commencement 25 May^University Philosophical Society: Honorary Patrons^World Nuclear University: Inaugural Ceremony of the World Nuclear University '' Part Two^Center za mir: "Centar za mir '' Mostar"^ZERO NUCLEAR'S FOUR STATESMEN, ELBARADEI TO BE HONORED^Richard Erdman and the EastWest Institute: Statesman of the Year Award^Entrega del IV Premio Sevilla-Nodo^Indian Express: ElBaradei chosen for Indira Gandhi Peace Prize^University of Georgia: 2009 Delta Prize Recipient^IAEA: Biography of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei^WorldCat item recordExternal linksEditArticlesThe 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, photoessay by Scott LondonWhat Price, Peace?, Mohamed ElBaradei (LL.M '71, J.S.D. '74), NYU Law School, Autumn 2006Paul C. Warnke Lecture on International Security: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Illusion or Possibility, Council on Foreign Relations, 4 November 2009Full transcript of BBC's interview with Dr ElBaradei '' May 2007 CASMIIWashington intercepts ElBaradei phone calls for information to displace him, Washington Post, 11 December 2004Nomination of ElBaradeiEdit
Fereydoon Abbasi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:35
Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani (Persian: ÙØ±ÛØ¯ÙÙ Ø¹Ø¨Ø§Ø"Û ; (born 11 July 1958) is an Iranian nuclear scientist who was head of Atomic Energy Organization from 2011 to 2013.
Early life and educationEditAbbasi was born in Kazerun, Iran, on 11 september 1958. According to Mashregh News, an Iranian news website, he holds a PhD in nuclear physics.
Abbasi was a professor of nuclear physics at Shahid Beheshti University and has reportedly been a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He reportedly did nuclear research at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). Prior to his appointment as head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), he chaired the physics department at Tehran's Imam Hossein University.
Abbasi was appointed head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) by then PresidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad on 13 February 2011 to succeed Ali Akbar Salehi. The IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, presented a report to its board in May 2011 that laid out new information on possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme. The director of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, recently wrote to Abbasi-Davani to reiterate the agency's concerns about the existence of a possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme and stressing the importance of Iran clarifying these issues.
The report stated: "Based on the Agency's continued study of information which the Agency has acquired from many member states and through its own efforts, the Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organisations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile... there are indications that certain of these activities may have continued beyond 2004."
Abbasi was removed from office on 16 August 2013 and Salehi replaced him in the post.
ControversyEditAbbasi has regularly been linked to Iran's alleged efforts to make the nuclear weapon, a process called weaponization. According to an ISIS report citing an expert close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Abbasi was a key scientist in the alleged Iranian covert nuclear weapons program headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, a strong supporter of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Abbasi personally directed work to calculate the yield of a nuclear weapon as well as work on high energy neutron sources, this expert added.
According to the same report, the IAEA had information that Abbasi was the head of the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), which was a follow-on organization to the Physics Research Center. Both of the organizations acted as fronts for scientific work on a possible Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Designation by the UNEditAbbasi is "listed in an annex to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747 of 24 March 2007, as a person involved in Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile activities". This resolution imposes an asset freeze and travel notification requirements. Abbasi is described as a "Senior Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) scientist with links to the Institute of Applied Physics, working closely with Mahabadi (also designated by the UN).
Assassination attemptEditReferencesEditPersondataNameAbbasi Davani, FereydoonAlternative namesAbbasi-Davani, FereidounShort descriptionNuclear scientistDate of birthc. 1958Place of birthRasht, IranDate of deathPlace of death
Ali Akbar Salehi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:34
Early life and educationEditSalehi is full professor and was chancellor of the Sharif University of Technology and a member of the Academy of Sciences of Iran and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy. He served as the chancellor of the Sharif University of Technology from 1982 to 1985 and once again from 1989 to 1993. While chancellor, Salehi was involved in an attempt to obtain dual-use technologies from a European supplier, according to David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, citing some 1,600 telex documents from the 1990s. He was also chancellor of Imam Khomeini International University for two years (1988''1989).
An ISIS report claims the Physics Research Center acted as a front in the late 1980s and early 1990s to obtain illicit nuclear technologies. ISIS claims that, as head of Sharif University, was aware of purchases.
Salehi was appointed as permanent representative of Iran to International Atomic Energy Agency by the then presidentMohammad Khatami on 13 March 1997 and remained in the post until 22 August 2005. On 18 December 2003, Salehi signed the Additional Protocol to the safeguard agreement, on behalf of Iran. He was replaced by Ali Asghar Soltanieh.
Salehi was deputy secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference under Ekmeleddin Ä°hsanoÄlu from 2007 to 2009. He resigned on 16 July 2009 when then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed Salehi as the new head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, replacing Gholam Reza Aghazadeh who resigned on 10 July. Salehi resigned from office on 23 January 2011 when Ahmadinejad nominated him as foreign minister.
On 13 December 2010, Ahmadinejad dismissed Manouchehr Mottaki for unknown reasons and appointed Salehi in an acting capacity. On 23 January 2011, Ahmadinejad nominated Salehi to become foreign minister. The Iranian Parliament voted him on 30 January and he became the foreign minister of Iran, gaining 146 positive votes.The European Union and the Treasury of the United Kingdom had put Salehi into the sanction list as an asset freeze target on 18 November 2009 due to his previous involvement in Iran's nuclear programme. The EU waived this designation when he became foreign minister in 2010. His term as foreign minister ended on 15 August 2013 when Mohammad Javad Zarif took the position in the electedPresidentHassan Rouhani's government. A day after, Rouhani appointed Salehi as head of Atomic Energy Organization for a second time on 16 August 2013. Salehi replaced Fereydoon Abbasi in the post.
SanctionsEditAs the head of the AEOI when Iran was facing increased scrutiny in light of International Atomic Energy Agency findings, Salehi was designated for financial sanctions and travel restrictions by the European Union and the United Kingdom. Salehi and Ernest Moniz joined 2015 Geneva Iran and P5+1 nuclear talks to discuss more about technical aspects of Iran nuclear program. 
ReferencesEditPersondataNameSalehi, Ali AkbarAlternative namesShort descriptionIranian politicianDate of birth24 March 1949Place of birthKarbala, IraqDate of deathPlace of death
Mohammad Javad Zarif - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:33
Early life and educationEditZarif was born on 7 January 1960 in Tehran. According to The New Republic, Zarif is born to an "affluent, religiously devout and politically conservative merchant family in Tehran". He was educated at the Alavi School, a private religious institution.
Zarif was shielded from TV, radio, and newspapers by his parents as a youth. Instead, he became exposed to revolutionary ideas by reading the books of Ali Shariati and Samad Behrangi.
At age 17, he left Iran for the United States. Zarif attended Drew College Preparatory School, a private college-preparatory high school located in San Francisco, California. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, from which he gained a BA in International Relations in 1981 and an MA in the same subject in 1982. Following this, Zarif continued his studies at the Graduate School of International Studies (now named the Josef Korbel School of International Studies) at the University of Denver, from which he obtained a second MA in International Relations in 1984 and this was followed by a PhD in International Law and Policy in 1988. His thesis was entitled: "Self-Defense in International Law and Policy".
Initial missions in USEditZarif was appointed a member of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations in May 1982'--largely due to his English-speaking ability and relationships in America, rather than formal diplomatic training. As a junior diplomat Zarif was involved in negotiations to win the release of U.S. hostages held by pro-Iranian gunmen in Lebanon, according to the memoirs of former United Nations envoy Giandomenico Picco. Even though the United States did not make a promised reciprocal goodwill gesture at the time, Zarif remained committed to improving ties.
In 2000, Zarif served as chairman of the Asian preparatory meeting of the World Conference on Racism and as the chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Commission. Zarif was also professor of international law at the University of Tehran. He served as the vice president of Islamic Azad University in charge of foreign affairs from 2010 to 2012 under Abdollah Jasbi. He has served on the board of editors of a number of scholarly journals, including the Iranian Journal of International Affairs and Iranian Foreign Policy, and has written extensively on disarmament, human rights, international law, and regional conflicts.
Representative at the United NationsEditHe served as Iran's representative at the United Nations from 2002 to 2007. He was closely linked with developing the so-called "Grand Bargain," a plan to resolve outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran in 2003. Zarif, during his time at the UN, held private meetings with a number of Washington politicians, including the then-Senators Joseph Biden and Chuck Hagel. Zarif resigned from office on 6 July 2007. He was succeeded by Mohammad Khazaee in the post.
In 2007, Zarif was a headline speaker at an American Iranian Council conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey including Chuck Hagel, Dennis Kucinich, Nicholas Kristof, and Anders Liden to discuss Iranian-American relations, and potential ways to increase dialogue and avoid conflict.
Minister of Foreign AffairsEditOn 23 July 2013, it was reported that Zarif is Rouhani's choice for minister of foreign affairs. This was not confirmed by the president-elect's office until 4 August when Rouhani officially nominated Zarif for the position to the Parliament. He was confirmed by the Parliament with 232 votes, replacing Ali Akbar Salehi in the position.
He welcomed the first visit by a foreign leader to Iran since Rouhani assumed the presidency ten days after his approval as Foreign Minister with the arrival of Oman's sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Stories spread that there was a secret agenda to his meetings with Iranian officials, involving claims that he came to convey messages from the United States and then to relay Iran's response to White House officials. On 5 September 2013, having congratulated the Rosh Hashana, Zarif said on Twitter that Iran does not deny the Holocaust, distancing the government from the often belligerent stances by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Genuineness of Zarif's tweeting in English was confirmed by CNN's Christiane Amanpour. On 27 September 2013, he met with U.S.Secretary of StateJohn Kerry during P5+1 and Iran summit. It was the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in last six years. After the meeting, Kerry said that "We had a constructive meeting, and I think all of us were pleased that Foreign Minister Zarif came and made a presentation to us, which was very different in tone and very different in the vision that he held out with respect to possibilities of the future."
After the breakup of talks on 12 November, Zarif rejected John Kerry's claim that Iran had been unable to accept the deal "at that particular moment". He said "no amount of spinning" could change what had happened in Geneva, but it could "further erode confidence". Zarif appeared to blame France for "gutting over half" of a US draft deal. Representatives from Iran and the so-called P5+1 - met again on 20 November.
In October 2014 during talks between senior American, Iranian and European diplomats produced no breakthrough agreement on curbing Iran's nuclear program, but officials said they still aim to reach a deal by the Nov. 24 deadline. A senior State Department official characterized each step of progress in the talks as ''chipping away'' at complex, technical differences, with virtually every sentence requiring an appendix of further explanation. ''We continue to make progress, but there is still a substantial amount of work to be done,'' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the difficult and secretive negotiations.
Iran and the US will explore ways to give impetus to nuclear talks when their chief diplomats meet in Geneva. Dr Zarif and US secretary of state John Kerry will confer ahead of a fresh round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers on settling their 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Lower-level negotiators on both sides will meet at the same venue on Thursday to iron out technical details ahead of negotiations on 18 January between Iran and the ''P5+1'' powers '' the US, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain. Speaking at a Tehran news conference, Zarif said the purpose of the talks with Kerry ''is to see if we can speed up and push the negotiations forward''.
In February 2015 Dr Zarif said that Iran did not favor another extension of the talks on limiting its nuclear program and expected economic sanctions to be quickly lifted if an accord was reached. ''Sanctions are a liability; you need to get rid of them if you want a solution,'' Mr. Zarif told a security conference in Munich. ''This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity,'' he said of the long effort to forge an agreement. ''It may not be repeated.'' The nuclear talks have already been extended twice and face a late March deadline for working out the main outlines of an accord. The deadline for a detailed agreement is the end of June.
Geneva AgreementEditOn 21 November it was reported by Iranian negotiators that progress was being made in talks in Geneva with world powers, expressing hope to bridge differences and sign an elusive deal over Tehran's nuclear drive. "Differences of opinion remain and we are negotiating over them. God willing we will reach a result," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in statements carried by Iranian media, after a one-hour meeting with Baroness Ashton. On 24 November 2013, the Geneva interim agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action, was a pact signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consists of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.
Personal lifeEditZarif is married and has a daughter and a son who were born in the US. He met his wife in summer 1979 through his sister. They married in Iran but moved to New York within several weeks in the midst of the Iranian revolution. In addition to his native Persian, he is fluent in English.
ReferencesEditExternal linksEditArticlesPersondataNameZarif, Mohammad JavadAlternative namesShort descriptionIranian politicianDate of birth7 January 1960Place of birthTehran, IranDate of deathPlace of death
Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:31
The Comprehensive agreement on Iranian nuclear program is a topic in a series of negotiations among Iran and the P5+1 '-- United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany.
The prospective agreement is to be achieved based on the context of the Geneva agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The Geneva agreement was an interim deal forged on 24 November 2013, under which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program for relief from some sanctions. The interim agreement went into effect on 20 January 2014. Later the parties agreed to extend their talks. The first extension deadline was set to 24 November 2014 and, when it expired, the second extension deadline was set to 1 July 2015.
List of declared nuclear facilities in IranEditThe following is a partial list of nuclear facilities in Iran (IAEA, NTI and other sources):
Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) '-- small 5MWt research reactorEsfahan, Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF)Natanz, Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) '-- plant for production of low enriched uranium (LEU), 16,428 installed centrifugesNatanz, Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) '-- LEU production, and research and development facility, 702 installed centrifugesFordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) '-- plant for production of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235, 2,710 installed centrifugesArak, Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40 Reactor) '-- 40MW heavy water reactor (under construction)Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)Negotiations under the Joint Plan of ActionEditFirst round: 18''20 FebruaryEditThe first round of negotiations was held at the UN's center in Vienna from 18-20 February 2014. A timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement was achieved, according to Catherine Ashton and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Second round: 17''20 MarchEditDiplomats from the six nations, as well as Ashton and Zarif, met again in Vienna on 17 March 2014. A series of further negotiations were to be held before the July deadline.
Fourth round: 13''16 MayEditThis fourth round of Vienna negotiations ended on 16 May 2014. The Iranian and U.S. delegations headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political AffairsWendy Sherman held a bilateral meeting. Both sides intended to begin drafting a final agreement, but made little progress. A senior U.S. official said "We are just at the beginning of the drafting process and we have a significant way to go," while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters that "the talks were serious and constructive but no progress has been made" and "we have not reached the point to start drafting the final agreement." The U.S. official emphasized that negotiations had been "very slow and difficult," saying talks would resume in June and all parties want to keep the 20 July deadline and adding: "we believe we can still get it done." Negotiators had made progress on one issue, the future of Iran's planned Arak reactor, but remained far apart on whether Iran's capacity to enrich uranium should shrink or expand. The U.S. delegation also raised the issues of Iran's ballistic missile program and military dimensions of its past nuclear research. EU High RepresentativeCatherine Ashton conducted negotiations with Zarif and Wendy Sherman joined the talks at the end the last meeting.
Fifth round: 16''20 JuneEditThe fifth round of talks ended on 20 June 2014, "with substantial differences still remaining." The negotiating parties will meet again in Vienna on 2 July. Under Secretary Sherman noted after the talks that it was "still unclear" whether Iran would act "to ensure the world that its nuclear program was strictly meant for peaceful purposes." Foreign Minister Zarif said the United States was making unreasonable demands of Iran, saying "the United States must take the most difficult decisions."
Under the Geneva interim agreement Iran agreed to convert some of its up to 5 percent LEU into an oxide powder that is not suitable for further enrichment. According to the monthly IAEA report released during this round the conversion of LEU has not been started yet. This means that Iran's LEU stockpile "is almost certainly continuing to increase for the time being, simply because its production of the material has not stopped, unlike that of the 20 percent uranium gas."
Sixth (final) round: 2''20 JulyEditThe sixth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group started in Vienna on 2 July 2014. The parties are headed by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western foreign ministers arrived at Vienna to break a deadlock in the nuclear talks with Iran, but their joint efforts failed to advance the negotiations. "There has been no breakthrough today," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague on 13 July 2014 after meetings with the foreign ministers of USA, France, Germany and Iran. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "It is now time for Iran to decide whether they want co-operation with the world community or stay in isolation." The European foreign ministers left Vienna the same day. The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the talks had "made some important headway."  After three days of talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister Secretary of State Kerry headed back to Washington where he will consult with President Barack Obama and Congress leaders. No decision on an extension of negotiations beyond the 20 July deadline has been taken yet. In order to continue talks a decision of each member of P5+1 is required.
Wrapping-up the sixth round the Foreign Minister Zarif said that the achieved progress convinced the sides to extend their talks and the ultimate deadline would be November 25. He also expressed the hope that the new British foreign secretary Philip Hammond "will adopt a constructive diplomacy" towards Iran. Several sources reported that all parties were prepared to extend negotiations but extension faced opposition in the United States Congress. Republicans and Democrats in Congress made it clear that they view a prolongation of the talks as allowing Iran to play for time. The Republican chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign AffairsEd Royce said he hoped "the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran".
Before the expiration of the six months imposed by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) the sides agreed to extend negotiations by four months with a final deadline set for 24 November 2014. Additionally, in exchange for Iranian consent to convert some of its 20% enriched uranium into fuel for a research reactor, United States will unblock $2.8 billion in frozen Iranian funds. Negotiations will resume in September. John Kerry said that tangible progress had been made, but "very real gaps" remained. Ed Royce stated that he did not see "the extension as progress".
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has testified before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of the talks. At her testimony on 29 July 2014 she said: "We made tangible progress in key areas, including Fordow, Arak, and IAEA access. However, critical gaps still exist..." Both Republicans and Democrats have insisted that a final agreement be put to a vote.
Negotiations under the First Extension of JPAEditSeventh (first extended) round: New YorkEditNegotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program were resumed on 19 September 2014. They started on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts were given the opportunity to join the talks. The talks were planned to last until September 26.
Eighth round: ViennaEditNegotiating teams of Iran and the P5+1 have held their eighth round of talks in Vienna on 16 October 2014. The meeting was led jointly by Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Ashton and the parties made an effort to sort out their differences. Ashton's spokesman stated: "Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase".
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov pointed that the issues of Iran's enrichment programme, the schedule for sanction lifting and the future of the reactor in Arak were not settled and the subjects of inspection and transparency, duration of the agreement and some others were not completely agreed yet. Ryabkov expressed his opinion that a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will require no ratification. "We are negotiating a binding document, but under a generally recognized doctrine international political liabilities are equated with legal," he said and admitted that some resolutions of the Security Council on Iran will need to be adjusted.
Ninth round: MuscatEditThe round of talks took place on November 11 in the Omani capital Muscat and lasted one hour. At the meeting, Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi exchanged views with their counterparts from the P5+1. The round, chaired by former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, was scheduled to brief the P5+1 members on Kerry and Zarif's talks. Local media reported that some representatives of the parties remained in Muscat to continue the talks.
Tenth round: ViennaEditNuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 resumed in Vienna on 18 November 2014 with participation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, and foreign ministry officials. The talks were supposed to continue until the 24 November 2014 deadline.
Secretary of State John Kerry, after meeting British and Omani foreign ministers in London and Saudi and French foreign ministers in Paris, will arrive in Vienna for talks with Zarif and Ashton. Kerry's meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal were considered critical. After his Paris talks with Kerry Saudi Foreign Minister was due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
At IAEA meeting held on 20 November in Vienna the agency's Director General Yukiya Amano, referring to allegations related to Iran's engagement in weaponization activities, said that "Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures." The same day at a press conference in Brussels The International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) presented its 100-page investigation report and claimed that Iran was hiding its nuclear military program inside a civil program. The report was endorsed by John Bolton and Robert Joseph and authored by ISJ President Alejo Vidal'Quadras, a professor in nuclear physics and the former Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The tenth round of nuclear negotiations and the first extension of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 have ended on November 24. The two sides have failed to cut a deal at this round of talks and agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action for the second time. The new deadline for a comprehensive deal was set to 1 July 2015. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said it was not possible to meet the November deadline due to wide gaps on well-known points of contention. He stressed that while 1 July was the new deadline, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1. According to Hammond, expert level talks will resume in December and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference after the Vienna talks: "Today the Iranian nuclear program is internationally recognized and no one speaks about our enrichment right..." While answering a question about "fundamental gaps over how much enrichment capacity Iran would be allowed to retain", Secretary of State John Kerry said in a news conference: "I'm not going to confirm whether or not there's a gap or not a gap or where the gaps are. There obviously are gaps. We've said that."
Negotiations under the Second Extension of JPAEditEleventh round: GenevaEditNegotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were resumed on 17 December 2014 in Geneva and lasted one day. No statements were issued after the closed-door talks either by the U.S. negotiating team or by EU spokesmen. Deputy foreign minister Araqchi said that it was agreed to continue the talks "next month" at a venue to be decided. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that Arak heavy-water reactor and sanctions against Iran were the two key outstanding issues in the nuclear talks.
Twelfth round: GenevaEditThe round, held at the level of political directors of Iran and the P5+1, took place on 18 January 2015 following the four-day bilateral talks between the United States and Iran. EU political director Helga Schmid chaired the meetings. After the talks France's negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere told reporters: "The mood was very good, but I don't think we made a lot of progress." "If there is progress it is a very slow one and there are no guarantees that this progress will transform into a decisive shift, breakthrough, into a compromise," Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov told journalists, adding that "major disagreements remain on the majority of disputed issues." 
Thirteenth round: GenevaEditRepresentatives of Iran and the P5+1 met on 22 February at the EU mission in Geneva. Nicolas de la Riviere said after the meeting: "It was constructive, we will know results later."
Bilateral and trilateral talksEditU.S.-Iran bilateral talksEditAccording to a statement of the United States Department of State bilateral nuclear consultations between the U.S. and Iranian officials "will take place in the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations". The talks were held on 7 August in Geneva and only few details about them were provided. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and included Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. The Iranian delegation included Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi.
Deputy Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the bilateral talks were useful and focused on "the existing differences" in the negotiations. Deputy Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi made it clear that Iran will not accept a weak enrichment programme, while saying "we will not accept that our uranium enrichment programme becomes something like a toy".
The second round of the bilateral talks between representatives from the USA and Iran took place in Geneva on September 4''5. The negotiations consisted of 12 hours long political talks and 8 hours long expert talks. The third round of the bilateral talks between the two countries took place in New York on 18 September 2014.
According to The Associated Press, the United States has turned negotiations with Iran into a series of bilateral talks between the two countries that "race to seal a deal".Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and WMD, participating in a panel, said: "Any deal will have to be struck between Washington and Tehran and then ratified by the P5+1 and ultimately the UN Security Council."
On 14 October, Iranian negotiators headed by the deputy foreign minister held a bilateral meeting with senior U.S. officials William Burns and Wendy Sherman in Vienna. Among other issues the negotiators set the stage for the trilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry, Baroness Ashton, and Foreign Minister Zarif that was convened for the next day.
The U.S. and Iranian delegations met on December 15 to 16 in Geneva in preparation for the multilateral talks, led by the US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. A member of Tehran's team told IRNA that uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions were sticking points in the bilateral talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif met with Secretary of State John Kerry on 14 January in Geneva and on 16 January in Paris. According to Al-Monitor the negotiators have worked intensively to try draft a joint document called the Principles of Agreement. The document is supposed to be an element of the framework agreement between Iran and P5+1, which is to be completed by March.
Two rounds of bilateral negotiations between Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry occurred on 6 and 8 February on the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich. During the conference, Mohammad Zarif gave an interview in which he claimed that IAEA inspected Iran for 10 years or more and found no evidence that Iran's program wasn't peaceful. He also claimed that JPA did not imply step-by-step removal of sanctions and the removal of sanctions has been "a condition for an agreement". Foreign Minister Zarif stated: "I don't think if we don't have an agreement, it'll be the end of the world. I mean, we tried, we failed, fine." IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who also took part in the conference, pointed out that Iran must provide urgent clarification on key aspects of its nuclear program. Making this more specific Yukiya Amano said: "Clarification of issues with possible military dimension and implementation of the Additional Protocol and beyond is essential."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif held three bilateral meetings in Geneva on 22 and 23 February.The Associated Press reported progress on a deal that would freeze Iran's nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then "ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms." After the talks Mohammad Zarif spoke about "a better understanding" between the parties and John Kerry said: "We made progress." The columnist Charles Krauthammer commented on the leaked "sunset clause" that an agreement, containing this and other concessions to Iran, will mean "the end of nonproliferation."
Iran and U.S. foreign ministers and their teams continued the bilateral nuclear talks on 2-4 March in the Swiss city of Montreux. Iran's foreign minister has rejected as "unacceptable" President Barack Obama's demand to freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years, saying "Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands." After the talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Riyadh, where he will meet separately the Saudi Arabia's King Salman and the foreign ministers of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Another bilateral meeting between Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif and US Secretary of State Kerry took place on 16 March in Lausanne. Among the issues discussed at the meeting was the open letter to Iranian leaders, signed by 47 Republican U.S. senators. After the talks a senior U.S. official told reporters it was not clear if the end-March deadline for a framework agreement could be met.Los Angeles Times reported that it was also unclear whether the framework, if reached in March, would be a detailed document or a vague one. The sides were still divided on some crucial issues and Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he wanted no written agreement until all details are settled.
U.S.-EU-Iran trilateral talksEditIran, the EU and the United States held two trilateral meetings at the foreign minister level in New York in September 2014. The U.S. Department of State has argued that there are points when it makes sense for the foreign ministers at the trilateral level to get together to talk. "In part because the majority of the sanctions are EU and US, the trilateral makes sense."
On 15 October, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Secretary of State John Kerry have met again, this time in Vienna. A senior U.S. Department of State official said at a briefing with reporters that the parties were focused on the November 24 deadline and had not discussed an extension of the talks. The negotiators were working on a full agreement '' the understandings and the annexes to them. "This is a situation where unless you have the detail, you do not know that you have the agreement," explained the official.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held talks on November 9''10 in Muscat seeking to bridge differences on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Officials from all delegations have abstained from briefing reporters. The talks ended without an imminent breakthrough.
After arriving in Viena on 20 November John Kerry met for more than two hours with Mohammad Zarif and Catherine Ashton. It was not reported whether they made any headway.
Main PointsEditUranium stockpile and enrichmentEditIran's nuclear enrichment capacity is the biggest stumbling block in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement. The Security Council in its resolution 1929 has required Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. For many years the United States held that no enrichment program should be permitted in Iran. In signing the Geneva interim agreement the United States and its P5+1 partners shifted away from zero enrichment to limited enrichment objective. Additionally, they have determined that the comprehensive solution will "have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon" and once it has expired Iran's nuclear program will not be under special restrictions.
Limited enrichment would mean limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges. Shortly before the comprehensive negotiations began, Iran was estimated to have 19,000 centrifuges installed, mostly first generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium-235. The Iranians strive to expand their enrichment capacity by a factor of ten or more while the six powers aim to cut the number of centrifuges to no more than a few thousand.
Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA, said in a radio interview that the agency does not have a complete picture of Iran's nuclear profile since inspectors have been kept out of some sites. In particular, IAEA has not been able to assess "how much uranium has been produced in Iran over these years" and to verify the completeness of Iran's declaration about the number of its centrifuges. Heinonen also pointed out that Iran has an "unfortunate history of misleading and not disclosing all its nuclear material."
Western analysts argued there were two distinct paths to deal with Iran's nuclear program: complete dismantling or allowing limited activities while preventing Iran from a nuclear "breakout capability". The measures that would lengthen breakout timelines include "limits on the number, quality and/or output of centrifuges". The former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security AffairsRobert Joseph has argued that attempts to overcome the impasse over centrifuges by using a malleable SWU metric "as a substitute for limiting the number of centrifuges is nothing more than sleight of hand." He has also quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying "any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East."
In order to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, constraints should be put on its uranium enrichment. This should include the number and quality of centrifuges, research and development of more advanced centrifuges, the size of low-enriched uranium stockpile. The constraints are interrelated with each other - the more centrifuges Iran would have, the less stockpile the United States and P5+1 can accept, and vice versa. Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, estimated in May 2014 that Iran's stockpile was large enough to build 6 nuclear weapons and it had to be reduced. Lengthening breakout timelines requires a substantial reduction in enrichment capacity and many experts talk about an acceptable range of about 2000-6000 first-generation centrifuges. But Iran stated that it wants to extend its capability substantially. In May 2014 Robert J. Einhorn, former Special Advisor on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the U.S. Department of State, expressed confidence that if Iran will continue to insist on that huge number of centrifuges, there would be no agreement, since this robust enrichment capacity would bring the breakout time down to weeks or days.
Plutonium production and separationEditUnder Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that a good deal will be one that cuts off Iran's uranium, plutonium and covert pathways to obtain nuclear weapon. Secretary of State John Kerry has testified before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs and expressed great concerns about the Arak nuclear reactor facility. "Now, we have strong feelings about what will happen in a final comprehensive agreement. From our point of view, Arak is unacceptable. You can't have a heavy-water reactor," he said. President Barack Obama, while addressing the House of Representatives and Senate, emphasized that "these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb."
Despite these statements, some analysts have feared that Obama administration might accept dangerous concessions to achieve a deal with Iran. For example, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and Chief of Staff to Undersecretaries of State for Arms, believed that such concessions were being proposed, and, as he explained: "... most dangerous is that we are considering letting Iran keep the Arak heavy water reactor which will be a source of plutonium. Plutonium is the most desired nuclear fuel for a bomb, it has a lower critical mass, you need less of it which is important in building missile warhead."
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of IranAli Akbar Salehi said in an interview that the heavy water reactor of Arak was designed as a research reactor and not for plutonium production. It will produce about 9 kg of plutonium but not weapons-grade plutonium. Dr. Salehi explained that "if you want to use the plutonium of this reactor you need a reprocessing plant". "We do not have a reprocessing plant, we do not intend, although it is our right, we will not forgo our right, but we do not intend to build a reprocessing plant." Further in the interview Salehi expressed his opinion that the pressure on Iran has not been genuine, it has been just an excuse to put "political pressure" and the concern about developing nuclear weapons was "fabricated".
According to information provided by the Federation of American Scientists, a sizable research program involving the production of heavy water might raise concerns about a plutonium-based weapon program, especially if such program was not easily justifiable on other accounts. Gregory S. Jones, a senior researcher and a defense policy analyst, warned that if the heavy-water-production plant at Arak was not dismantled, Iran would be granted a "plutonium option" for acquiring nuclear weapons in addition to the dangerous centrifuge enrichment program.
Agreement's durationEditAccording to an editorial in the Washington Post, the most troubling part of the Geneva interim agreement has been the "long-term duration" clause. This provision means that when the duration expires, "the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party" to the NPT. Thus, once the comprehensive agreement expires, Iran will be able to install an unlimited number of centrifuges and produce plutonium without violating any international accord." Many Western analysts have referred to the comprehensive agreement as a "final" nuclear agreement with Iran "but clearly it will only be a long-term interim agreement".
Iran wants any agreement to last for at most 5 years while the United States prefers 20 years. The twenty years is viewed as a minimum amount of time to develop confidence that Iran can be treated as other non-nuclear weapon states and allow the IAEA enough time to verify that Iran is fully compliant with all its non-proliferation obligations.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in May 2014: "Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. '... This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors' front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought." This and other declarations of jihadist principles by Ayatollah Khamenei leave no doubt about Iran's adoption of religiously-inspired combat against the United States and the West. These principles include aramesh (hudna) and such a truce cannot exceed 10 years.
Some analysts suggested that if a single 20-year duration for all provisions of the agreement is too constraining, it would be possible to agree on different durations for different provisions. Some provisions could have short duration, and others could be longer. A few constraints, like enhanced monitoring at specific facilities, could be permanent.
Possible covert paths to fissile materialEditIran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. "We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so," Iran's president Hassan Rouhani said, according to a translation of an interview with him. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pronounced a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa's actual existence.
The Iranian uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz (FEP and PFEP) and Fordow (FFEP) were constructed covertly and designed to operate in a similar manner. The facilities were declared by Iran only after they were revealed by other sources. Thus, only in September 2009, Iran notified the IAEA about constructing the Fordow facility. The 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions stated among the key judgments : "We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons." Additionally the Estimate stated that after 2003 Iran has halted the covert enrichment for at least several years.
The Estimate also stated: "We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities '-- rather than its declared nuclear sites '-- for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon." Despite this assessment some analysts have argued that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, as well as most public discussions, were focused on Iran's overt nuclear facilities while there existed alternative paths to obtain fissile material. Graham Allison, former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Oren Setter, a research fellow at Belfer Center, compared this approach with Maginot's fixation on a single threat "that led to fatal neglect of alternatives". They have pointed out at least three additional paths to obtain such material:
Covert makeCovert buyHybrid pathway (a combination of overt and covert paths)William Tobey, former Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, has outlined the possible ways to nuclear weapons as follows:
Break out of the Nonproliferation Treaty, using declared facilitiesSneak out of the Treaty, using covert facilitiesBuy a weapon from another nation or rogue factionSome sources published recommendations for agreement provisions relating to monitoring and verification in order to prevent covert activities and to provide tools to react if needed. One of the sources warned the P5+1 that "if the monitoring elements that we recommend are not pursued now to diminish the risks of deception, it is difficult to envision that Iran would be compliant in the future, post-sanctions environment." According to the recommendations the agreement with Iran should include:
A requirement to cooperate with the IAEA inspectors in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutionsTransparency for centrifuges, mines and mills for uranium ore and yellowcakeMonitoring of nuclear-related procurementObligation to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol and to provide the IAEA enhanced powers beyond the ProtocolAdhering to the modified Code 3.1Monitoring of nuclear research and development (R&D)Defining certain activities as breaches of the agreement that could provide basis for timely interventionIAEA inspectionEditAccording to multiple resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1929), enacted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, Iran is obligated to cooperate fully with the IAEA on "all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA..." On 11 November 2013 the IAEA and Iran signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to cooperate and resolve all present and past issues in a step by step manner. As a first step, the Framework identified six practical measures to be completed within three months. The IAEA reported that Iran had implemented those six measures in time. In February and May 2014 the parties agreed to additional sets of measures related to the Framework. In September the IAEA continued to report that Iran was not implementing its Additional Protocol, which is a prerequisite for the IAEA "to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities." Under those circumstances, the Agency reported it will not be able to provide "credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran"
The implementation of interim Geneva Accord has involved transparency measures and enhanced monitoring to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. It was agreed that the IAEA will be "solely responsible for verifying and confirming all nuclear-related measures, consistent with its ongoing inspection role in Iran". IAEA inspection has included daily access to Natanz and Fordow and managed access to centrifuge production facilities, uranium mines and mills, and the Arak heavy water reactor. To implement these and other verification steps, Iran committed to "provide increased and unprecedented transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA."
Thus, there have been two ongoing diplomatic tracks '-- one by the P5+1 to curb Iran's nuclear program and a second by the IAEA to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of Iran's past nuclear activities. Although the IAEA inquiry has been formally separate from JPA negotiations, Washington said a successful IAEA investigation should be part of any final deal and that may be unlikely by the deadline of 24 November 2014.
One expert on Iran's nuclear program, David Albright, has explained that "It's very hard if you are an IAEA inspector or analyst to say we can give you confidence that there's not a weapons program today if you don't know about the past. Because you don't know what was done. You don't know what they accomplished." Albright argued that this history is important since the "infrastructure that was created could pop back into existence at any point in secret and move forward on nuclear weapons."
Iranian and IAEA officials met in Tehran on 16 and 17 August 2014 and discussed the five practical measures in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation agreed in May 2014.Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, made a one-day visit to Tehran on 17 August and held talks with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials. After the visit Iranian media criticized the IAEA while reporting that President Rouhani and the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi both tried "to make the IAEA chief Mr. Amano understand that there is an endpoint to Iran's flexibility." The same week Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan said that Iran will not give IAEA inspectors access to Parchin military base. Yukiya Amano has noted previously that access to the Parchin base was essential for the Agency to be in position to certify Iran's nuclear programme as peaceful. Tehran was supposed to provide the IAEA with information related to the initiation of high explosives and to neutron transport calculations until 25 August, but it failed to address these issues. The two issues are associated with compressed materials that are required to produce a warhead small enough to fit on top of a missile. During its 7-8 October meetings with the IAEA in Tehran, Iran failed to propose any new practical measures to resolve the disputable issues.
On 19 February 2015 IAEA has released its quarterly safeguards report on Iran. While testifying before the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, the ISIS's President David Albright commented on Iran's reaction to this report: "the Iranian government continues to dissemble and stonewall the inspectors and remains committed to severely weakening IAEA safeguards and verification in general."
Nuclear-related issues beyond the negotiationsEditThere are many steps toward nuclear weapons. However, an effective nuclear weapons capability has only three major elements:
Fissile or nuclear material in sufficient quantity and qualityEffective means for delivery, such as a ballistic missileDesign, weaponization, miniaturization, and survivability of the warheadEvidence presented by the IAEA has shown that Iran has pursued all three of these elements: it has been enriching uranium for more than ten years and is constructing a heavy water reactor to produce plutonium, it has a well-developed ballistic missile program, and it has tested high explosives and compressed materials that can be used for nuclear warheads.
Some analysts believe that Iran's nuclear program should be negotiated in its entirety '-- it must include not only fissile material discussions but also ballistic missile development and weaponization issues.
Priorities in monitoring and preventionEditHenry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, has explained in his recent book (2014): "The best'--perhaps the only'--way to prevent the emergence of a nuclear weapons capability is to inhibit the development of a uranium-enrichment process ..."
Joint Plan of Action has not explicitly addressed the future status of Iran's ballistic missile program. However, having been an interim agreement, it could not take into account all the issues that should be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement. If a comprehensive agreement with Iran "does not tackle the issue of ballistic missiles, it will fall short of and may undermine ... UN Security Council Resolutions." Moreover, shifting "monitoring and prevention aims onto warheads without addressing Iran's ballistic missile capacity also ignores U.S. legislation that forms the foundation of the sanctions regime against Iran".
Additionally, "monitoring warhead production is far more difficult than taking stock" of ballistic missiles and the US government is far less good at detecting advanced centrifuges or covert facilities for manufacturing nuclear warheads.
Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and a holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), highlighted the view that the United States and other members of the P5+1, along with their attempts to limit Iran's breakout capability and to prevent it from getting even one nuclear device, should mainly focus "on reaching a full an agreement that clearly denies Iran any ability to covertly create an effective nuclear force."
Ballistic missile programEditIran's ballistic missiles have been tied to its nuclear-weapons program. Security Council Resolution 1929 "decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons." In May''June 2014 a United Nations panel of experts submitted a report pointing to Iran's engagement in ballistic missile activities. The Panel reported that over the last year Iran has conducted a number of ballistic missile test launches, which were a violation of paragraph 9 of the resolution.
Director of U.S. National IntelligenceJames Clapper testified on 12 March 2013, that Iran's ballistic missiles were capable of delivering WMD. According to some analysts, the liquid-fueled Shahab-3 missile and the solid-fueled Sejjil missile have the ability to carry a nuclear warhead. Iran's ballistic missile program is controlled by IRGC Air Force (AFAGIR), while Iran's combat aircraft is under the command of the regular Iranian Air Force (IRIAF).
The United States and its allies view Iran's ballistic missiles as a subject for the talks on a comprehensive agreement since they regard it as a part of Iran's potential nuclear threat. Members of Iran's negotiating team in Vienna insisted the talks won't focus on this issue.
A few days before 15 May, date when the next round of the negotiations was scheduled, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the IRNA news agency that Western expectations on limits to Iran's missile program were "stupid and idiotic" and called on the country's Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles.
In his testimony before the United States House Committee on Armed Services, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Singh argued "that Iran should be required to cease elements of its ballistic-missile and space-launch programs as part of a nuclear accord." This question was off the table since Iran's Supreme Leader has insisted that Iran's missile program is off-limits in the negotiations and P5+1 officials have been ambiguous.
According to Debka.com, the United States in its direct dialogue with Iran outside the P5+1 framework demanded to restrict Iran's ICBM, whose 4,000 kilometers range places Europe and the United States at risk. This demand did not apply to ballistic missiles, whose range of 2,100 km covers any point in the Middle East. These medium-range missiles may also be nuclear and are capable of striking Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan stated at a press conference on August 2014 that Iran's missile capability issue was not included in the comprehensive talks with the P5+1 countries and "will by no means be negotiated with anyone".
In a Senate committee hearing former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has expressed believe that Iran's missile program and its ICBM capability, as well as its support of the terrorism, should also be on the table.
Possible military dimensionsEditSince 2002, the IAEA has become concerned and noted in its reports that some elements of Iran's nuclear program could be used for military purposes. More detailed information about suspected weaponization aspects of Iran's nuclear program '' the possible military dimensions (PMD) '' has been provided in the IAEA reports issued in May 2008 and November 2011. The file of Iran's PMD issues included development of detonators, high explosives initiation systems, neutron initiators, nuclear payloads for missiles and other kinds of developments, calculations and tests. The Security Council Resolution 1929 reaffirmed "that Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA."
In November 2013 Iran and the IAEA have signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to resolve all present and past issues. In the same month the P5+1 and Iran have signed the Joint Plan of Action, which aimed to develop a long-term comprehensive solution for Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA continued to investigate PMD issues as a part of the Framework for Cooperation. The P5+1 and Iran have committed to establish a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation of the Joint Plan and "to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern" with respect to Iran's nuclear program, including PMD of the program and Iran's activities at Parchin. Some analysts asked what happens if Iran balks and IAEA fails to resolve significant PDM issues. According to the U.S. Department of State, any compliance issues wouldn't be discussed by the Joint Commission but would be dealt "at the expert level, and then come up to the political directors and up to foreign ministers if needed." Thus, an unresolved issue might be declared sufficiently addressed as a result of a political decision.
Prior to the signing of an interim nuclear agreement, it was commonly understood in Washington that Iran must "come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program," as Undersecretary Wendy Sherman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011. The Iranians have refused to acknowledge having a weaponization program. Meanwhile, analysts close to the Obama administration begin to boost so-called limited disclosure option. Nevertheless, 354 members of U.S. Congress were "deeply concerned with Iran's refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency." On 1 October 2014, they sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating that "Iran's willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran's intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement."
Some organizations have published lists of suspected nuclear-weaponization facilities in Iran. Below is a partial list of such facilities:
Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)Kimia Maadan Company (KM)Parchin Military ComplexPhysics Research Center (PHRC)Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC)In September 2014 the IAEA reported about ongoing reconstructions at Parchin military base. The Agency has anticipated that these activities will further undermine its ability to conduct effective verification if and when this location would be open for inspection. A month later, The New York Times reported that according to a statement by Yukiya Amano, the IAEA Director General, Iran had stopped answering the Agency's questions about suspected past weaponization issues. Iran has argued that what has been described as evidence is fabricated. In his speech at Brookings Institution Yukiya Amano said that progress has been limited and two important practical measures, which should have been implemented by Iran two months ago, have still not been implemented. Mr. Amano stressed his commitment to work with Iran "to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme". But he also warned: "this is not a never-ending process. It is very important that Iran fully implements the Framework for Cooperation - sooner rather than later."
Supreme leader's Fatwa against nuclear weaponEditAli Khamenei, Iranian leader issued a Fatwa (religious edict) denouncing nuclear weapon and calling it as "Haraam" (Forbidden by religion). American officials noticed the topic several times and called it as a point to start discussions. In an interview in Jordan, Kerry said he respects the idea. Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa's actual existence. Khamenei's official collection of fatwas does not include banning nuclear weapons.
Arak reactorEditThe head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said in April 2014 that a dispute between world powers and Iran over its heavy water reactor at Arak had been "virtually resolved" and the reactor will be redesigned to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it.
In May 2014, after the fourth round closing, Abbas Araqchi announced on Iranian TV that Arak reactor will remain a heavy water facility and would continue its work with 40 megawatts of power.
In June 2014, Salehi announced that Iran was redesigning the Arak reactor to produce less than 1 kg of plutonium per year, compared to 9''10 kg per year with the original design. Princeton University experts had proposed a redesign involving changing the reactor's fuel and reducing its power level, with a similar effect on plutonium production. However, the concern remained that this redesign could be reversed.
After the sixth round of negotiations Abbas Araqchi had made clear that "any agreement about Arak or Fordo nuclear facilities is denied".
Uranium enrichmentEditFrance's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on 10 June 2014 that the biggest point of disagreement in the talks is how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed. The six powers say Iran may keep some hundreds of centrifuges while the Iranians say they require hundreds of thousands of centrifuges. "...what is the purpose of having thousands of centrifuges if we're not heading towards an atomic bomb? So the question that will be asked in the coming weeks is whether Iran is really ready to accept to give up the atomic bomb or not," Fabius said.
Negotiating countriesEditIslamic Republic of IranEditThe United States and Iran cut off diplomatic ties in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where 52 Americans were held hostage for more than a year. After Barack Obama's inauguration, he personally authorized talks with Iran in order to reach out to this country.
The FATF has been "particularly and exceptionally concerned" about Iran's failure to address the risk of terrorist financing. Iran was included in FATF blacklist. In 2014 Iran remained a state of proliferation concern. Despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran has continued to violate its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is "completely peaceful and has always been carrying out under supervision of the IAEA". Some analysts argue that "Iranian actions, including the evidence of work on weaponization, the development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the placement of the program within the IRGC" indicate that Iran's arsenal is not virtual.
According to policy documents published by the Obama administration, it believes in the efficacy of traditional Cold War deterrence as the remedy to the challenge of states acquiring nuclear weapons. Another assumption of the administration is that the Iranian regime is "rational" and hence deterrable. Dr. Shmuel Bar, former Director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, has argued in his research that the Cold War deterrence doctrine will not be applicable to nuclear Iran. The inherent instability of the Middle East and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional, and internal pressures, and the proclivity of many of the regimes toward military adventurism and brinkmanship give little hope for the future of the region once it enters the nuclear age. By its own admission, the Iranian regime favors revolution and is against the status quo in the region. Shmuel Bar has characterized the regime as follows:
"Since its inception, it has been committed to 'propagation of Islam' (tablighi eslami) and 'export of revolution' (sudur inqilab). The former is viewed by the regime as a fundamental Islamic duty and the latter as a prime tenet of the regime's ideology, enshrined in the constitution and the works of the Imam Khomeini. Together they form a worldview that sees Islamic Iran as a nation with a 'manifest destiny': to lead the Muslim world and to become a predominant regional 'superpower' in the Gulf, the heart of the Arab world, and in Central Asia." A quite different approach to Iran has been proposed by The Economist:
"The disastrous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the failed Green revolution'--which sought to topple him in 2009'--and the chaotic Arab spring have for the moment discredited radical politics and boosted pragmatic centrists. The traditional religious society that the mullahs dreamt of has receded... Although this hardly amounts to democracy, it is a political marketplace and, as Mr Ahmadinejad discovered, policies that tack away from the consensus do not last. That is why last year Iran elected a president, Hassan Rohani, who wants to open up to the world and who has reined in the hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared on 4 September 2014 that the way forward for his regime is to ramp up its "eqtedar" (might). Ayatollah Jalal Ganje'i has explained that Iranian regime intended to achieve this by one of two ways: to expand regional influence through the export of terrorism, officially described as "export of revolution" or to develop nuclear weapons.
The fighters from Hezbollah and Quds forces have been publicly operating in several foreign territories. Iran and pro-Iranian proxies have been military involved in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and other regional nations. Iranian state TV has been showing the pictures of the commander of Quds force in foreign territories and pointing to the Islamic Republic's indispensable power and influence in the Middle East. Iranian leaders have been attempting to reassert their power and supremacy in the region more publicly and sending the signal to other states that "Iran is in fact the sole regional power to rely on rather than the United States and Western allies."
Iran has developed a close and cooperative relationship with Cuba and Venezuela against the United States. Having limited military capabilities and substantial distance from the region, Iran, in case of a conflict with the United States, would be able to launch an asymmetrical offensive against the United States "through surrogate terrorist states and paramilitary organizations." Iran and Hizbullah also maintain a considerable presence in other countries of Latin America.
On 4 January 2015 President of Iran Hassan Rouhani pointed out that the Iranians cause was not connected to a centrifuge, but to their "heart and willpower". He added that Iran couldn't have sustainable growth while it was isolated. So he would like some economic reforms passed by referendum. These words could be considered as willingness to work with international powers. But a few days later Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who makes final and conclusive decisions on all matters of Iranian national security, warned that "Americans are impudently saying that even if Iran backs down on the nuclear issue, all the sanctions will not be lifted at once." Iran should therefore "take the instrument of sanctions out of enemy's hands" and develop "economic of resistance."
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, testifying in January 2015 before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, said about Iranian nuclear ambitions:
"They're trying to develop nuclear weapons. There is no sensible explanation for the extent, the money, the talent they've devoted to their nuclear thing, other than that they want a nuclear weapon. It can't be explained any other way.""They give every indication, Mr Chairman, that they don't want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel. So it's a very threatening situation."P5+1EditUnited StatesEditIn its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010 the United States has stated that in Asia and the Middle East '' where there were no military alliances analogous to NATO '' it had mainly extended deterrence through bilateral alliances and security relationships and through its forward military presence and security guarantees. According to the Review Report: "The Administration is pursuing strategic dialogues with its allies and partners in East Asia and the Middle East to determine how best to cooperatively strengthen regional security architectures to enhance peace and security, and reassure them that U.S. extended deterrence is credible and effective." Since 2010 the U.S. position has been less clear and it seems "to be deliberately lowering its profile - either because it might interference with negotiations by the 5+1 or because it has less support within the Obama Administration."
Two weeks after the Geneva interim deal was achieved, President Barack Obama disclosed in an interview that while taking office, he decided to "reach out to Iran" and open up a diplomatic channel. He emphasized: "the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that." The President also expressed strong belief that an end state can be envisioned, where Iran will not have breakout capacity. Barack Obama, however, added: "If you asked me what is the likelihood that we're able to arrive at the end state that I was just describing earlier, I wouldn't say that it's more than 50/50."
About fourteen months after the Geneva interim agreement was signed, President Barack Obama reiterated his assessment that the chances to "get a diplomatic deal are probably less than 50/50." Shortly afterwards, in his State of the Union presented to a joint session of the United States Congress, the President announced: "Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we've halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material." The accuracy of this statement has been challenged by some media sources. For example, based on experts' assessments Glenn Kessler from the Washington Post has come to the conclusion that between 2013 and 2014 the amount of nuclear material, which could be converted by Iran to a bomb, has been increased. Olli Heinonen observed that the interim agreement "is just a step to create negotiation space; nothing more. It is not a viable longer term situation." Jeffrey Lewis observed that Obama's statement was an oversimplification, and that while Iran's stockpiles of the "most dangerous" nuclear materials had declined, overall stocks had increased. Right-wing publications The Federalist and The Washington Free Beacon have said that the Iranians have exploited loopholes in the interim agreement and made significant progress on all areas of their nuclear program. Right-wing commentator Fred Fleitz stated in The National Review Online that the "number of nuclear weapons Iran could make from its enriched uranium has steadily risen throughout Mr. Obama's presidency". Both, the mainstream Washington Post and the conservative National Review Online, presented the Center for Security Policy's chart that illustrates Iran's build-up of nuclear material since 2009.
United KingdomEditUnited Kingdom is interested in constructive relationship with Iran. For decades Iran has been regarded as a threat to the security of the UK and its regional partners in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. The UK believes that negotiations in Vienna are the most appropriate framework for coping with Iranian nuclear intentions. The British Government is satisfied with the convergence of UK and US policy on Iran and with a united front maintained by the P5+1 countries. It also assures that the agreement with Iran does not imply any diminution in the commitments to the alliances in the region and to the struggle against terrorism. Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons expressed opinion that the comprehensive agreement should include the issues of Parchin Military Complex.
Non-negotiating countries' positionsEditSaudi ArabiaEditSaudi Arabia fears that a deal with Iran could come at expense of Sunni Arabs. President Barack Obama paid a visit to Riyadh in March 2014 and assured King Abdullah that he is determined to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that USA will not accept a bad deal. However, an editorial in Al Riyadh newspaper claimed that the president did not know Iran as the Saudis did, and could not convince them that Iran will be peaceful.
IsraelEditAfter the meetings between Western foreign ministers and Iranian counterpart on 13 July 2014 Prime Minister of IsraelBenjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Fox News warned that "a bad deal is actually worse than no deal." He explained that allowing Iran to stockpile nuclear material or to preserve the capability of uranium enrichment in return for the presence of international inspectors would lead to a "catastrophic development". At his meeting with Barack Obama in Washington in October 2014, Benjamin Netanyahu warned the U.S. President not to accept any Iran deal that would allow Tehran to become a "threshold nuclear power." Netanyahu's remark highlighted the long-standing disagreement between Israel and the Obama administration on the nuclear talks with Iran.
In his speech presented to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on 3 March 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the negotiated deal was bad because of its two major concessions: leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. "It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb," said the Prime Minister. Netanyahu also urged the leaders of the world "not to repeat the mistakes of the past" and expressed his commitment that "if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand."
What-if analysisEditOil pricesEditIran needs oil at $136 a barrel to finance its spending plans. In 2013 it spent $100 billion on consumer subsidies, about 25% of GDP. "Sanctions mean it cannot borrow its way out of trouble".
Collapse of negotiationsEditUndersecretary of State Wendy Sherman warned that a failure of the nuclear negotiations with Iran will lead to a dangerous escalation by both Tehran and the West. "That is why I say the stakes are quite high here," she said on 23 October 2014. "The alternatives are quite terrible."
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has supposed that if the parties don't reach an agreement by the 30 June 2015, the United States may turn on its ability "to use cyberweapons to attack Iranian nuclear facilities" and Iran may turn on its ability "to wage covert war through its proxies in the Middle East."
Cutting a bad nuclear deal with IranEditA deal "that removes the most important sanctions but does not extend Iran's breakout scenario to at least six months, that does not address the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear work, that does not allow for rigorous monitoring and transparency, that places only short duration constraints that are easily reversible, and that unravels sanctions against Iran's support for terrorism and gross human rights violations as well" is a bad deal. This definition has been given by a former senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense J. Matthew McInnis at his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 18 November 2014.
A bad deal will leave everyone in the region uncertain about Iran's intentions and potential nuclear weapons capabilities. It will lead other countries to take potentially dangerous decisions, such as acquiring nuclear weapons or making strategic accommodation with Iran. According to McInnis, "In the worst case scenario, we could eventually face a nuclear Iran, for whom classic containment and deterrence approaches are unlikely to be effective."
Testifying before the Committee David Albright said that in order to avoid a bad nuclear deal with Iran "the P5+1 must hold strong on achieving an agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program to a reasonable civilian capability, significantly increases the timelines for breakout to nuclear weapons, and introduces enhanced verification that goes beyond the IAEA's Additional Protocol."
Albright also highlighted at his testimony that a "sound deal" will require Iran to address IAEA's concerns about PMD of its nuclear program before a deal is finalized or the economic or financial sanctions are relieved. To achieve a "verifiable solution" Iran will have to significantly reduce the number of its centrifuges and uranium stocks, as well as to limit its centrifuge R&D programs.
U.S. President versus CongressEditThe President remains in overall control of foreign policy and defense. "Mr Obama would probably veto any bill that tightened sanctions against his wishes."
According to Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School professor and a former Bush administration official, President Obama has the authority to "waive most if not all sanctions against Iran for the remaining two years of his term." If he does so, the deal with Iran "will be tenuous". The President believes that Congress will not cooperate on this issue now. "So if he wants a deal with Iran (which he clearly does), Obama must strike the deal on his own." If President Obama suspends sanctions the entire sanctions regime will probably collapse. "The end result would be a deal that expires when Obama leaves and a sanctions regime in tatters. Iran will then have exactly what it wants '-- relief from sanctions, a deal that doesn't block it from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability ... and a revived economy," has argued Jennifer Rubin, a lawyer and a columnist for The Washington Post."
The lawyer Alan Dershowitz is of the view that if "Congress chooses to assert its constitutional power to participate in foreign policy decisions", Obama would not have a completely free hand in making a deal with Iran. In case of a constitutional conflict between these branches of government, the Supreme Court may resolve the conflict but it is unclear how the judges would deal with it.
Next Supreme Leader AppointmentEditThe Supreme Leader is the most powerful man in Iran. He has the ultimate say on Iran's foreign policy and nuclear programme. Iran's Supreme Leader is appointed by the Assembly of Experts in the event of the death, resignation, or dismissal of the leader. While the Assembly of Experts has the formal role in the appointment, in practice the decision will be influenced by powerful lobbies. The most powerful political organization is Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that has control over the military, politics, economy, and nuclear program. The IRGC and the office of the current Supreme Leader will be the key selecting players. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American scholar at Harvard University, has argued that the IRGC will attempt to choose an individual who serves its objectives: "obtaining nuclear capabilities, having a monopoly over economic and political affairs, having power in foreign policy and having the capability to intervene in other countries' affairs without hurdles from any political figures including the Supreme Leader."
Clifton W. Sherrill, an assistant professor of international relations at Troy University, has come to the conclusion that with "no consensus successor and with concerns that dividing power among a council may diminish the strength of the regime, the conditions are ripe for an IRGC power grab." Explaining the role of the IRGC, Sherrill has written (2011): "Today, it has its own air force, navy, and infantry; maintains its own intelligence service; runs strategic think tanks, defense research and development programs, and its own universities; coordinates Iranian support for Islamist terrorist groups abroad; and holds primary responsibility for the regime's nuclear weapons program."
U.S. nuclear umbrellaEditSome sources reported on 5 March 2015 that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to offer Gulf States a nuclear umbrella to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat.
The United States has already offered its allies '-- European and such as Japan and South Korea '-- a nuclear umbrella. However, as it was stated before the United States Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, after the U.S. New START commitment some allies "are beginning to wonder if it leaks."
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The Coming China Crisis | naked capitalism
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:05
By Richard Vague, the managing partner of Gabriel Investments and the chairman of The Governor's Woods Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization. Previously, he was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Energy Plus, and also co-founder and CEO of two consumer banks, First USA and Juniper Financial. He is also the author of The Next Economic Disaster, a book with a new approach for predicting and preventing financial crises. Originally published at Democracy Journal
On the morning of September 8, 2016, the Wenzhou Credit Trust, one of the many trust companies in China, went into default. The firm discontinued all new lending and suspended redemption and interest payments on its trust certificates, the equivalent of deposits made by its customers.
At the time, the failure didn't seem all that unusual. A handful of trust companies'--''shadow lenders'' that make loans, often the riskiest ones, outside of China's conventional banks'--had done the same in recent years. But within a week, another trust company went into default, and the following week, so did seven more. Angry trust-certificate holders protested in Wenzhou and Chongqing but were quelled by police. Those protests hardly seemed noteworthy at first'--for years, there had been hundreds of protests and disturbances across China'--but it turned out they presaged something new.
Within a month, more than 50 trust companies defaulted. The protests escalated and spread throughout the country. In the panic, new real-estate lending plummeted, putting more downward pressure on real-estate prices and hurting local economies. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets plunged. The prices of iron, steel, coal, copper, aluminum, and other commodities'--including oil'--accelerated their downward spiral.
The government of China, which in recent years had tolerated these failures as part of its attempt to introduce more risk into the system, dramatically reversed course and intervened, injecting funds into these lenders and assuring customers that it would stand behind these institutions. This calmed equity markets, but commodity prices continued to sag and the renminbi fell, bringing the specter of devaluation.
By winter, the impact had shattered markets and companies throughout Asia and Australia, and markets were in retreat in Europe and the United States.
The Great Panic of China was in full swing.
The future, of course, doesn't have to unfold this way. China, the world's second-largest economy, could still act to prevent much of the above from happening.
But what cannot be changed is this: China, fueled by runaway lending, has produced far more housing, steel, iron, and a host of other goods than it knows what to do with, amassing unprecedented levels of overcapacity and, by my estimate, making a staggering $2-$3 trillion in problem loans in the process. And since GDP growth is more a measure of capacity being created than capacity actually needed, even China's high rate of GDP growth, fueled almost entirely by continued ultra-high levels of lending growth, compounds rather than solves China's fundamental overcapacity problem.
Which means that the global economic boost from China, the world's only major growth engine since the crash of 2008 in the West, is rapidly diminishing and will soon largely end. The only question is how.
China's bad-debt problem is unprecedented in scale, but not in nature. In the United States in 2007 and 2008, we saw our own economy crumble under the weight of bad debt. And the system didn't know what hit it: On the eve of our own collapse, even though more than $1 trillion of bad mortgages had already been made and major financial fallout was inevitable, banks' loan-loss provisions'--the amount they set aside to cover bad loans'--were near an all-time low, while consumer net worth and the stock market were at all-time highs.
Neither of the two dominant economic theories of our time forecast the coming storm. The doves'--those more in favor of lower interest rates and government stimulus'--were sanguine, unconcerned by rapid loan growth. The hawks'--those more focused on curbing the money-supply expansion through higher interest rates'--were sounding dire warnings of inflation. Both were wrong, but neither has since changed its theory.
Our 2007-08 meltdown was entirely foreseeable, despite claims to the contrary. It was not a ''black swan'' event. Examining the historical record leads to the conclusion that major financial crises can be anticipated so long as you're on the lookout for the red flag of rapidly rising levels of private debt. If we are to avoid repeating history, we would do well to observe the Chinese predicament, understand its implications for the global economy, and apply lessons to our own economy.
Our Private-Debt Problem
The ongoing debate in Washington over government debt misses the point. In the years leading up to the U.S. crisis, the remarkable fact was not an increase in the level of federal debt, but the explosion in the size of privatedebt relative to GDP, which rocketed from 120 percent of GDP in 1997 to 165 percent in 2007. By contrast, federal debt barely changed, declining from 63 percent of GDP to 62 percent during that same period. Private debt is the sum of consumer debt, including mortgages and business debt. In my view, a healthy private-debt ratio would be no more than 125 to 150 percent of GDP.
While many observers missed the signs, some saw that private debt was somehow key to the American crisis, since the rapid increase in home mortgages was widely discussed as a culprit. And a closer look at the historical data shows that this relationship between private data and financial busts appears to be universal: When we examine financial crises in other countries, we see that'--even when these crises were attributed to other causes'--private debt was the fundamental factor. Private debt can be good when overall levels in a country are low or moderate, and when, for example, it is used to finance projects whose income can repay that debt. The problems come when private-debt growth is too rapid or reaches levels that are too high.
That certainly was the case in Japan in the years before its 1991 financial crisis:
The chart shows a familiar picture. In the years before the crisis, Japan saw a major spike in private debt. And that's the same picture we see in crisis after crisis.
As I've previously written, there is a formula to predicting these crises. A financial meltdown is probably on the horizon if the ratio of private debt to GDP rises by roughly 17 percent or more over the course of five years and exceeds 150 percent. That rise in private debt will likely fuel runaway growth before the crash (think the 1920s, or Japan's boom in the 1980s). But those gains will be evanescent. Driven by private-debt growth, they'll eventually give way to a financial crisis.
In past crises'--1929, Japan in 1991, the United States in 2008'--high government debt was not the culprit, since in each case the ratio of government debt to GDP was generally flat or declining. Nor did they correlate with any of the long list of other widely cited causes, including current account deficits and interest rates. (Rapidly rising government debt generally becomes an issue after a crisis, as tax revenue plummets and deficits rise, government ''safety net'' programs get higher use, and governments counteract declining private spending with higher government spending.)
Why does runaway growth in private debt lead to financial crisis? First, because it means that far too much of something has been built or produced. It was primarily housing in the United States in 2008; in Japan in 1991, it was primarily commercial real estate. And second, because it means far too many bad loans have been made in the process. By 2007, for example, the U.S. banking system had roughly $1.5 trillion in total capital, but an estimated $2.5 trillion in problem loans.
If too much capacity and too many bad loans are the problems, the solutions are time and capital: time for organic growth to absorb the excess capacity, and capital to repair banks and borrowers. Monetary and fiscal policies might soften the blow, but since they do not address those two fundamental issues, they cannot solve the underlying problem.
The Potential for Crisis in China
The problem for China in 2015 is that it looks a lot like the United States in 2008 or Japan in 1991.
The growth in the ratio of private debt to GDP over the last five years is an astonishing 60 percent, and that ratio now exceeds 200 percent. China's runaway debt growth has primarily been in business loans, and now its total business loans are greater than in the United States, even though, based on exchange rate, U.S. GDP is 82 percent larger than China's. (For China, we use the term ''private debt'' for the sum of business and consumer debt, though some analysts refer to it as ''non-government debt.'')
Quite simply, China has produced and built far too much capacity, through overinvestment in steel and cement firms and in accelerated housing development. In the process, it has amassed the largest buildup of bad debt in history.
The cause of the accelerated rise in private debt starting in 2008 was the collapse of the export market that had fueled China's growth to that point. From 1999 to 2006, China's exports-to-GDP ratio had exploded by 95 percent. China's net exports, as measured in dollars, were the highest in recorded history. But they were growing on the shaky foundation of the debt-fueled expansion of the West that led to the crash of 2008. When that demand evaporated, China's exports evaporated too. Addicted to its rapid expansion, China built a lot of real estate and produced lots of goods'--both unjustified by actual demand'--to fill the export hole, all financed by an unprecedented rise in private debt that is almost certain never to be fully repaid.
As a result, China is now sitting on top of the greatest accumulation of bad debt and overcapacity in history. According to the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance, more than one in five homes in China's urban areas is vacant, with 49 million sold but vacant units, and 3.5 million homes that remain unsold. Behind those vacant and unsold units is private debt, both loans to developers and mortgage debt. Housing values in China increased on the same perilous trajectory as in the United States before 2008 and Japan before 1991'--and they have now started a similar decline. Meanwhile, real estate was 6 percent of U.S. GDP at the peak in 2005; today, it is as much as 20 percent of China's GDP.
There are other red flags. China produced 8 percent of the world's furnace iron in 1980; it now produces 61 percent, even though the rest of the world still continues to produce every bit as much as it has in the past. As China's iron production accelerated in the period from 2002 to 2011, iron prices increased twelvefold in response to debt-fueled demand. (Increases in debt cause increases in prices.) But now that iron capacity has piled up beyond need, prices have tumbled by over 50 percent, and the excess capacity is so great that even the demand generated by rapid credit growth can no longer prop prices up. Also, China used more cement in the period from 2011 to 2013 (6.6 gigatons) than the United States did in the entire twentieth century (4.5 gigatons).
These are but a few of many examples. Researchers at a Chinese state planning agency said recently that China has ''wasted'' $6.8 trillion in investment. Overcapacity is so significant in many sectors that it will take years for it to be absorbed by organic demand. Ironically, this problem is compounded by China's own continued high growth rates, since high GDP growth is a measure of the creation of additional capacity even if that capacity is not needed.
Good and sound loans, by definition, result in commensurate GDP growth. So when private-loan growth outstrips GDP growth, much of that excess'--from one-quarter to one-half, based on evidence from other crises'--will be problem loans. Based on this formula, China today is likely to have an estimated $1.75 trillion to $3.5 trillion in problem loans'--a figure well in excess of the $1.5 trillion of total capital in China's banking system.
Of course, China's banks and shadow lenders are not reporting bad loans close to this amount. But neither did U.S. banks: On the eve of the U.S. crisis, banks were making loan-loss provisions at very low levels. Lending booms create the false appearance of prosperity, and fraud and corruption can make the picture even prettier.
Some dismiss these warning signs, noting that many economic prophets wrongly made the same dire predictions for China during the late 1990s. But there's a big difference: In 1999, China's overall level of private debt was 111 percent of GDP; today, it's almost double that, at 211 percent. In 1999, it had plenty of room to power growth through continued private-debt expansion, and the debt boom in the West fueled unprecedented export demand. The opposite is true today.
China's Future'--and the World's
China's slowdown is already underway. Nominal GDP growth has already slowed from over 15 percent in 2011 to around 7 percent in the last year'--and some analysts believe it's actually closer to 4 percent. The decline will continue to play out, perhaps dramatically, over the next three to four years. How well or badly it plays out, however, depends on the approach the government takes to simultaneously managing both the short-term problem (slowing growth) and the longer-term problem (the overhang of private debt).
The trouble for China is that these two challenges summon conflicting responses. GDP growth in any economy is largely dependent on private-credit growth, yet the Chinese private sector is massively overleveraged. Ramping up credit might reverse the slowdown but will further increase bad debt and compound the ultimate problem; reining in debt, on the other hand, would help the debt problem but slow down growth.
True, China's economy is largely a closed system that can make'--and suspend'--its own rules, which means China's leaders can prop up their lending system for a time. (Even Japan was able to prop up its banks for several years after its stock market collapse.) What they can likely no longer do, however, is effectively prop up real estate and commodity prices. Over time, because the decline in real estate and commodity prices is evidence of China's overcapacity and those assets are collateral for so much debt, it will be China's Achilles' heel.
The fundamental problem is that China has misused debt to grow far faster than income growth prudently allowed. While on the surface the choices look bad, China'--with its vast assets and low central government debt'--in fact has the tools to navigate this crisis yet. China's impulse is to return to practices that have succeeded in the past, so it's difficult to imagine it abandoning the three pillars of its past growth strategy: exports, business credit growth, and infrastructure spending. But there is now a diminishing return from each: exports are constrained by low global demand; businesses are already overleveraged; and China has already built too many roads to nowhere.
Since these will not suffice, China will likely consider other growth channels: increasing consumer credit growth; ramping up other categories of government spending such as military spending; encouraging continued migration of rural populations to the cities; and perhaps even renewed devaluation. But these options, if employed, will still collectively fall short.
China's consumers reportedly do have low leverage, but household debt is already growing much more rapidly than is prudent, and is ultimately limited by household income. And consumer debt in China may be higher than indicated due to high levels of unreported, informal consumer lending. Further, China's consumers have put a major portion of their savings in real estate'--many own several apartments'--so the ongoing decline in housing values will discourage consumers from taking on significant new debt.
Increased government spending could help pick up the slack, especially if it is focused on areas where there is not already too much capacity, such as military spending. But even here, the scope and pace of additional spending are inherently limited by operational realities. China hopes to bring hundreds of millions more rural Chinese citizens to the cities, to increase both wages and housing demand. But these plans crucially depend on job growth to support these migrants, and job creation has been a leading casualty of slowing exports. Finally, devaluation works best when matched with high global demand, risks driving out badly needed foreign capital, and, in any event, would likely be matched by competitive devaluations from other nations.
Both ''rebalancing'' and ''reform'' are cited as important parts of the solution. Rebalancing is needed'--China's growth has been far too dependent on investment by its businesses as compared to consumption by its households. But rebalancing is hard work that will take years, not quickly enough to reverse China's decelerating growth. Reform of business practices is needed as well, but that too will be very difficult, and likely won't happen fast enough.
Some believe that through continued high productivity gains, China can sustain high growth without worsening its private-debt picture. But in recent years private-debt growth has almost equaled China's increased productivity, calling into question the sustainability of those increases absent continued high private-debt growth.
Panic and the Path of Contagion
Because there are few good choices to adequately boost growth, the continued decline in commodity prices and real estate will make the problem loans in China's banks worse, as a massive amount of the country's private debt is secured by commodities and real estate. Based on its recent behavior, the Chinese government will likely address deteriorating bank loan quality with an overt and broad guarantee to consumers for deposits and possibly also wealth and trust certificates. It will also quietly fortify these lenders with capital. If China pursues these policy choices, it will indeed avoid an immediate financial crisis. But it ultimately cannot reverse the trend of decelerating growth over the next three to four years'--perhaps to a level approaching zero'--and China will be left facing a ''lost'' generation of very low growth similar to the last 20 years in Japan.
The question facing the rest of the world is whether there will be a crisis in other countries because of China's troubles. What will the path of financial contagion be?
Financial contagion is not some mysterious force that overtakes the healthy and unsuspecting. Any impact on non-Chinese companies and countries will come from: 1) overlending to troubled Chinese banks and businesses; 2) an overconcentration of exports to China; 3) a dependence on high commodity prices; and 4) a currency devaluation necessitated in an export-oriented country because of a devaluation by China.
Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region have significant export concentrations to China and will be adversely affected by China's slowdown, as will many countries in Africa and South America. Europe has exposure too, especially in the area of high-end automobiles and luxury goods. The United States has more limited exposure, but some sectors such as high-tech and construction have significant sales in China.
Although there are allegedly low levels of foreign debt in China, these levels may be underreported; banks that have lent to companies or banks in China face real risk as growth decelerates. Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK are among those with the highest lending exposure to China. Countries dependent on high oil and other commodities prices are also at risk. If China devalues its currency, many of its export-oriented Asian neighbors would be forced to follow suit'--and in fact may act to devalue ahead of China'--bringing the specter of a banking crisis to these countries.
Reckoning with Private Debt
In the 1980s and early '90s, my formative business years, the media regularly trumpeted the news that Japan was ascendant and would eclipse the United States as the world's business leader. When Japanese firms purchased iconic properties such as Rockefeller Center in New York and Pebble Beach golf resort in California, it was confirmation of that trend. In the 1980s, Japan reached 18 percent of world GDP. Today its share of GDP has fallen to 7 percent. We now know that its seeming path to dominance was paved with runaway private debt.
While China's trajectory might not be the same as Japan's, there are profound similarities. China has had years of runaway private-debt growth, and its GDP growth is now decelerating. There is no doubt that China, with a population over 1.3 billion, will be an increasingly important player in the world, economically and otherwise. But there has been a tendency to overestimate what China can achieve economically over the near term. America's economy is almost twice the size of China's, and our relative influence will continue to reflect that difference.
Indeed, we should take a more balanced view of China. With its growth, China has had a significantly higher profile in a variety of policy areas. It has been more assertive in military matters. It has expressed a desire to have the renminbi take its place as one of the world's reserve currencies'--in essence competing with the U.S. dollar for a bigger role in the world's economy. U.S. policy-makers have struggled with how to respond to this assertiveness. Much of it should be unsurprising, given China's rise to its current position as the world's second-largest economy. But even with its successes, China now presides over enormous and in some respects unprecedented internal problems, and we should understand the limitations they impose on what the country can achieve in the near term and resist making policy blunders by overestimating its relative strength.
So what should China do? My recommended course is for the country to directly address not slowing growth, which is only a symptom, but the real problems: overcapacity and excessive private debt. In this scenario, China would prudently slow both lending and growth, allowing demand to begin to catch up with overcapacity. What's more, China would also preemptively recapitalize its lenders.
However, my recommendation goes well beyond China's past cosmetic bank cleanups. It needs to take the further step of requiring lenders to broadly, quickly, and decisively restructure debt with overburdened corporate borrowers'--to provide, in other words, real debt relief and restructuring that allows those corporations to resume productive investment, not simply accounting sleight of hand. Otherwise, high debt will linger for years as a long-term drag on China's economic prospects.
Large-scale corporate debt relief would be complex and difficult. But the lesson from Japan's experience, where the private-debt-to-GDP ratio reached a staggering 221 percent, and timely and meaningful debt restructuring was not adopted, is that it's necessary. A generation later, Japan's private-debt-to-GDP ratio is still a stifling 170 percent and remains the neglected central issue in Japan's lackluster growth.
China may never undertake such systemic private-debt restructuring, but it is the surest path to revitalizing its beleaguered business sector, remedying overcapacity issues, stabilizing prices, and restoring reasonable growth. By alleviating rather than simply disguising China's high private-debt-to-GDP problem, it would leave corporations in a much better position to lead renewed (and, hopefully this time, more measured) growth after the slowdown.
Lessons for America
Runaway private debt brought America to its economic knees in 2008. It did the same to Japan in 1991. And it is in the process of doing the same to China. Yet the schools of economic thought that dominate thinking and policy-making in Washington pay scant attention to private debt. And so our economists and politicians will continue to err in forecasting crises, and will also make inadequate repairs after the fact. Just as runaway private debt causes crisis, the overhang of private debt after the crisis constrains growth. Private debt has been underemphasized by economists in some measure because of the view that for every borrower there is a lender, and thus private debt ''nets'' to zero. This view neglects consideration of the distribution of debt: Lenders tend to be institutions, and borrowers tend to be those middle- and lower-income households most needed to sustain economic growth. Private debt has also been underemphasized because public debt seems more our public responsibility, and private debt seems more off-limits'--the domain of the private sector and ''the invisible hand.''
Seven years after our own crisis, private debt in the United States stands at 143 percent of GDP'--lower than its apex of 167 percent in 2008, but still high. The high level of private debt in the United States represents a drag on economic growth, most starkly evident in the almost nine million of the nation's 53 million mortgages that remain underwater. In fact, private-debt levels across the globe remain sky-high'--not that anybody's paying attention. The piling up of private debt over decades smothers demand and dampens economic growth.
China's economic challenges offer the United States an opportunity to learn and recalibrate our economic thinking. Like China, we should now concentrate on scaling back private debt (which we did not do in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis). We need to act differently this time around if we are to avoid having our recovery swamped by the next slowdown (from China or anywhere else). Debt relief in the form of restructuring or partial debt forgiveness should be seriously considered as an option. What if we were to let lenders write down underwater mortgages over an extended time frame (30 years)? While less necessary today, if this had been done in 2008, it would have made an enormous difference in the trajectory of the recovery.
Our policy-makers should move beyond the fixation with public debt and turn their attention to the true problem of private debt. They should recognize the inadequacy of the timeworn tools of monetary and fiscal policy and lead a discussion of strategies'--especially restructuring'--to address the key issue of historically high private-debt levels. Indeed, low private debt, combined with low capacity (the supply of housing, factories, etc.), was the precondition for the economic boom we experienced in the post-World War II decades.
China's downturn will only add to our challenges. The modern world has had four major economic engines'--the United States, China, Europe, and Japan'--which together constitute 60 percent of world GDP. While the United States moves toward respectable growth, both Europe and Japan'--also hobbled with high private debt'--are struggling to show any progress.
But it is China we should be worried about. China is facing a generation of dramatically slower growth. Its slowdown will cause trouble for its trading partners and lenders across the globe. And while the economic impact in the United States will be softer than in any other major country, China is now so large that we too will feel it.
The question is whether we will also learn from it.
Periscope, Twitter's answer to Meerkat-style live streaming, is now available | The Verge
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:00
Live-streaming apps are the thirstiest of all media. A Facebook post wants a like, a tweet begs for favs, and a snap means little without a response. But for sheer drop-everything, look-at-me arrogance, nothing beats the push notification that says "LIVE NOW." I'm doing literally anything, the notification says. Watch now, or you'll miss out forever.
The surprise emergence of Meerkat as a social phenomenon this year has been accompanied by a frequent complaint: the links are usually dead by the time you click them. All that thirst, and it's totally unslaked. But even as the app began to be discovered by celebrities and other high-profile users, Twitter employees began shouting that a better solution was on the horizon: Periscope, an app the company acquired in January for a reported $100 million. Periscope, they said, was more than a way to stream yourself live: it's also a way to play those streams back.
Replays are Periscope's killer feature
And now we can see for ourselves. Periscope arrives today on iPhone, with streams also viewable on the web. (An Android version is forthcoming.) Like Meerkat, it allows you to broadcast whatever you're doing '-- whether it's breaking news or making breakfast '-- live, through video, with a couple of taps. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope can save streams so that you can replay them later. It turns out to be Periscope's killer feature '-- and the main reason that it's likely to become my live-streaming platform of choice.
For everything it got right, Meerkat still looks like an app built in eight weeks '-- which it was. Periscope has been in development for more than a year, and the app arrives showing nice attention to detail. You sign in with Twitter, and the first thing you see is a list of streams that are currently live. Below it, you'll see a list of recent streams. Not all can be played back '-- when you record yourself, you can stop your stream from being replayed with a single tap. But they save by default, and the result is an app that can actually be browsed.
Periscope is warm and fuzzy
Where Meerkat in its current incarnation is a bare-bones utility, Periscope is more warm and fuzzy. It introduces the world to the concept of infinite hearts '-- while you watch a stream, you tap to send the person recording it a heart. As soon as you tap, the heart appears on the screen for you and the rest of the audience to see. And you can tap as many times as you like '-- you can even double-tap to send two hearts simultaneously. It seems silly, but the multi-heart approach serves a purpose: they let the person recording know that their audience still appreciates what they're doing, even several minutes into a stream.
The result is that on popular streams '-- like that of retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, an early user '-- hearts fizz furiously in the corner of the screen throughout every broadcast, rising up like soda bubbles. "It's like the crowd going wild '-- who doesn't like that?" says Kayvon Beykpour, Periscope's co-founder. It's all part of an approach to make broadcasting less intimidating to the average person. "We don't want this to be a tool for very few people," he says. Like a lot of people lately, Beykpour says broadcasting is finally a tool ready to be embraced by the masses.
You won't be able to launch Periscope directly from the Twitter app, at least not for a while. "We don't think we need to start there," Beykpour says. "We think this deserves to be a separate experience indefinitely." Still, there's a reason Twitter scooped up Periscope: Twitter is a mostly live experience, and so is its new broadcasting app. "We always thought that what we were building, if successful, could be a real-time visual pulse of what's happening around the world," Beykpour says. The vision for Twitter is much the same.
The push notifications are out of control
The big problem with Periscope and its peer apps, as I see it, is that crazy thirst for engagement. Imagine getting a push notification each time every single person you follow on Twitter tweeted. That's Periscope in a nutshell '-- but instead of easily digestible tweets the notifications lead to livestreams, some of which are many minutes long. The result, at least for me, was turning off push notifications for Periscope as soon as I could. And I was following fewer than 50 people! I'll still use the app, but on my terms '-- and the team really ought to develop some more granular controls around notifications.
Of course, that I can browse it on my terms is only thanks to the fact that Periscope thought to make its streams available for replays. I'm not quite prepared to say the app is a Meerkat killer '-- Meerkat has been growing its user base at 30 percent a day, and it just announced a big new round of investment this morning. But for now at least, Periscope better matches the way that most of us actually use the internet. As of today, Meerkat has a lot of catching up to do.
Verge Video:What is the future of communication?
There was an explosion in New York City, and seconds later I was watching it live on Periscope | The Verge
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:58
I was browsing on Twitter when someone posted an image of a smoking building, fire trucks, and a message about a crazy explosion. Then I got a push notification on Periscope, the new live-streaming app from Twitter, about a broadcast from the scene of the accident. Suddenly I was watching a video of the fire and smoke from a block away. No news media had yet arrived on the scene.
I learned that this was potentially a building which had collapsed. Or maybe it was a gas main that exploded. It was the scene of tragedy, were people had been injured and killed. The broadcaster, Andrew Steinthal, got within a hundred feet or so before police arrived and asked everyone to disperse. Steinthal faced the camera, said how scary the whole thing had been, then signed off from his first Periscope reporting.
I was on the scene, but lacking real information
Dozens of others streams quickly popped up in his place. I had less information than I would if I had waited for a formal news crew to arrive, report out what was happening, and then pass that information back to me. With the smartphones in our pockets, we're all citizen journalists now.
As Meerkat and Periscope connect live video to the real time distribution network of Twitter, some uncharted new forms of media creation and consumption are going to emerge. We've had live-streaming apps before, and seen civilian coverage of events like Occupy Wall Street and Ferguson, but this new generation of apps is about to reach a much big audience at a much faster pace.
The live chat under the feed I watched was full of questions, concern, and gratitude for the stream. Periscope also allows users one emoji, hearts, so a disconcerting stream of colored hearts were juxtaposed against the fire and smoke.
Update March 26th, 3:50PM: According to a report from The New York Post, up to 30 people were injured in a partial building collapse. My heart goes out to anyone hurt. This was a story about the way technology is changing how we experience and report these events. I think that's something worth writing about, but my apologies to anyone who was offended.
Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins - NYTimes.com
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:00
PhotoEllen Pao, center, now interim chief of the social media news site Reddit, outside of the courthouse on Friday.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York TimesSAN FRANCISCO '-- One of Silicon Valley's most famous venture capital firms prevailed on Friday over a former partner in a closely watched suit claiming gender discrimination, but hardly got away unscathed.
The plaintiff, Ellen Pao, had accused the firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, of discriminating against her in the course of her employment and eventual dismissal.
The decision handed Kleiner a sweeping victory in a case that had mesmerized Silicon Valley with its salacious details while simultaneously amplifying concerns about the lack of diversity in the technology industry.
Even with her loss in the case, Ms. Pao's suit succeeded in prompting debate about women in technology and venture capital, said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University.
''This case sends a powerful signal to Silicon Valley in general and the venture capital industry in particular,'' Ms. Rhode said. ''Defendants who win in court sometimes lose in the world outside it.''
Kleiner and its lawyers did little to celebrate the win, with the lawyer Lynne C. Hermle saying that it ''never occurred to me for a second that a careful and attentive jury like this would find either discrimination or retaliation.'' Kleiner issued a statement saying it was committed to supporting women.
Continue reading the main storyDocumentThe case pit a venerable venture capital firm, which nurtured such famous Internet start-ups as Google and Amazon, against a former junior partner who claimed that she was discriminated against and was ultimately let go after complaining.
Ms. Pao waved to the jury as she left the courtroom for the last time, a smile fixed on her face. ''If I've helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,'' she said in a brief news conference.
Her suit, filed in Superior Court here, claimed that Kleiner did not promote her because of her gender, that it retaliated against her for complaining, that it failed to prevent gender discrimination and that it fired her in 2012 for complaining.
The suit asked $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. Ms. Pao is now interim chief of the social media news site Reddit.
After the jurors rejected each of her four claims, they were found to be one vote short on a claim about her termination. For two hours, doubt reigned, the media unspooled possible outcomes and the jury went back to work. In the end, the problem seemed more juror confusion than anything else, and the claim went down with the others.
The jurors said in interviews they did not take on the role of ''conscience of this community,'' as one of Ms. Pao's lawyers had urged in the closing arguments. They focused on the facts at hand, and concluded it was Ms. Pao's own performance that held her back.
One juror, Steve Sammut, 62, said it was difficult coming to a verdict.
''We were split there for a while,'' he said, adding that a key point was how Ms. Pao's reviews at Kleiner deteriorated over time. He also said the witnesses for Kleiner, most of whom came from the firm, helped seal the case.
Another juror, Marshalette Ramsey, 41, said she believed Ms. Pao was discriminated against. The male junior partners at Kleiner ''had those same character flaws that Ellen was cited with,'' but they were promoted, she said.
''I'm going home emotional,'' said Ms. Ramsey.
Ms. Pao joined Kleiner in 2005 as chief of staff to John Doerr, the firm's best-known partner. She became a junior investing partner, failed to make senior partner and was fired in 2012.
It was the most prominent trial in Silicon Valley in memory for many reasons, including Kleiner Perkins's reputation as the quintessential venture capital firm. But the suit, filed in 2012, also came as the freewheeling ways of the male-dominated technology industry increasingly drew scrutiny.
Episodes of men behaving badly make the news frequently here, whether it is sexism or harassment in the workplace or just derogatory attitudes toward women. Critics are increasingly drawing a straight line between such behavior and the small percentage of women who are engineers and executives, and the even smaller percentage of women who are venture capitalists.
PhotoJohn Doerr, right, a Kleiner Perkins partner, outside of court earlier this month. During testimony, Mr. Doerr agreed that the percentage of female venture capitalists was ''pathetic,'' though he came across as an ambivalent figure during his hours on the stand.Credit Robert Galbraith/ReutersAccording to research from Babson College, the percentage of female venture capitalists is 6 percent, down from 10 percent at the peak of the dot-com boom in 1999.
The suit and the trial introduced a number of colorful phrases that were said to have been uttered to or about Ms. Pao. Most were heavily disputed by the defense, but they made it appear that Kleiner has been slow to evolve since it was formed in the early 1970s.
''Kleiner Perkins has been significantly tainted by the facts that have come out in this proceedings,'' Ms. Rhode of Stanford said.
During the trial, numerous details emerged, including Mr. Doerr's telling an investigator that Ms. Pao had a ''female chip on her shoulder.'' Chi-Hua Chien, a partner, said women should not be invited to a dinner with former Vice President Al Gore because they ''kill the buzz.'' A senior partner at the time, Ray Lane, joked to a junior partner that she should be ''flattered'' that a colleague showed up at her hotel room door wearing only a bathrobe. Another senior partner, Ted Schlein, seemed never to have heard of the exhortation of Sheryl Sandberg, a senior Facebook executive, that women should ''sit at the table,'' testifying, ''I really don't think it was a very big deal to us who sits at a table or who does not.''
Ms. Pao is married to Alphonse Fletcher Jr., a Wall Street financier whose hedge fund is bankrupt. Pension funds are suing to recover their money amid accusations of fraud. Kleiner tried to insert Mr. Fletcher into the case, which would have raised questions about Ms. Pao's motives in bringing suit, but Judge Kahn refused to allow it.
Mr. Fletcher did not attend the trial.
In a sign that the struggle over the place of women in Silicon Valley is only beginning, gender discrimination suits have recently been filed against two prominent companies, Facebook and Twitter.
The suit against Twitter, by a former engineer, Tina Huang, claims that the process for promotion is not clear and is biased in favor of men, a claim that Ms. Pao also made about Kleiner. The suit seeks class-action status. Twitter said in a statement that it was committed ''to a diverse and supportive workplace.''
The suit against Facebook is narrower. Chia Hong, a former manager, says she was ''discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against'' because of her sex and race, culminating in her termination. Ms. Hong is represented by Lawless & Lawless, one of the firms representing Ms. Pao. Facebook has said that it works ''extremely hard'' on diversity and believes that it treated the employee in question fairly.
The Kleiner trial, which took 24 days before it went to the jury on Wednesday, offered a glimpse of the Silicon Valley elite at work and play.
Ms. Pao accidentally learned about the dinner Mr. Gore was having because she was living in the same San Francisco building. She met Mr. Fletcher at an exclusive fellowship that Mr. Doerr recommended her for. Even after being fired by Kleiner in 2012, Ms. Pao was paid $33,333 a month for the next six months, plus benefits and bonus. Most Americans could never imagine such handsome remuneration, terminated or not.
But it was competitive and even combative, with sharp elbows and tears. Ms. Pao, it emerged in testimony, compiled a ''resentment'' chart of colleagues who, she believed, wronged her. People worked through holidays and maternity leaves. The pressure to discover the newest new thing was immense. One great investment '-- a Google, a Facebook, an Amazon '-- could make your reputation for life.
As for the rest of life, there was not much of it for the junior partners. One of the stranger points brought up in testimony was how Ms. Pao, before she was married, had dated a colleague for six months without ever realizing he was still living with his wife.
A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Venture Capital Firm Prevails in Bias Case Riveting Silicon Valley .
Will Facebook Messenger Kill Email? '-- Backchannel '-- Medium
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 04:20
Last year Facebook made us install its messaging app. Now it's recruiting developers to make sure we use it for just about everythingIn April 2014, Facebook took a step that it knew would mightily piss off its users. If people wanted to communicate directly with a friend or family member, they could no longer do so within the mobile Facebook app. Those who tried to would haughtily be instructed to download a separate Facebook app, Messenger.
Resistance was futile. Every time you tried to send a message on Facebook with their Apple or Android phone, you got the equivalent of a punch in the mouth, demanding a switch to the messaging app. No matter that many people did not want to install another Facebook app, or felt that the company was already too much of a presence in their lives: in the course of using Facebook, it's almost impossible to avoid sending a message to someone, or wanting to read a message someone sent to you. It was punch, punch, punch'... until you're pummeled into surrender. Facebook is reporting that, so far, 600 million users have raised the white flag and now use Messenger monthly.
Facebook's VP of Messaging Products, David Marcus, admits that the transition at virtual gunpoint ''was actually not a super popular move when it happened.'' But today at Facebook's F8 developer conference, the company made some announcements that revealed why it was so vital to make that move.
Here's the big picture: Messenger is no longer just a part of Facebook, but a standalone platform to conduct a wide variety of instant communications, not only with friends, but with businesses you may deal with as well. It will compete with other messaging services such as Snapchat, Line and even Facebook's own WhatsApp by offering a dizzying array of features, many of them fueled by the limitless imagination and self-interest of thousands of outside software developers. You will use Messenger to share ESPN clips and movie trailers. You will not only be able to make voice calls on Messenger (that happened months ago), but make payments to friends and retailers (that happened last week) and conduct ongoing dialogues with airlines, package services and maybe even the DMV.
Some of these new functions will replace activities formerly performed on your browser. Others allow you to do things you might have done in other apps''--'or other Messenger services. Perhaps most notably, Messenger is muscling in on email.
Facebook has always believed that the asynchronous nature of email was unsuited to the instant, always-on rhythms of the ''social graph'' that binds us to our connections, and has long tried to offer an escape hatch from the tyranny of the inbox. While Messenger isn't explicitly trying to kill email, it is trying to wean you off email for many kinds of communication.
In fact, Facebook hopes that Messenger will become as integrated into your life as its main app is. Right now, in terms of time spent by users, the number one app by far is Facebook. Below are various browsers, email services, and apps. By sucking functionality away from those others, Facebook is aspiring to make Messenger a second home for mobile users, the go-to place for instant communications.
No wonder its ascension is the major announcement in today's massive developer conference.
To help with the transformation of Messenger, Facebook made a marquee hire, the aforementioned Marcus, 41. He is a native Parisian who had previously been the president of PayPal, a wildly successful division of eBay in the process of spinning off into a public company. Now Marcus is just one of a bunch of executives answering to a 30-year-old tyro. (Technically, he reports both to CEO Zuckerberg and VP of Growth, Engagement and Mobile Adoption Javier Olivan.) He says he's loving it. Instead of doing lots of things that are ''not fun,'' his focus is now ''related to building things to solve real problems''--'it's a lot of fun.''
He arrived last August after Facebook had already begun the forced march of its users to Messenger. Marcus, who had once gotten heat for haranguing his employees at PayPal for not using the company's mobile payments app, thought it was an absolutely necessary move. ''The team realized that it was very hard to actually compete effectively at real time mobile messaging if you are not in a dedicated app,'' says Marcus. ''So by actually removing the functionality [from the larger Facebook app], we solved all of these problems and provided people with a much better user experience than they had inside the main app. I'm glad the team took that step because now we have a product that we control entirely. We control every single pixel and every line of code of that experience.''
Before today the conventional wisdom was that Facebook needed that control mainly so it could update and revamp Messenger without waiting for an upgrade of the cumbersome main app. Also the separation would enable Messenger to run fast. But now it's clear that separating the functionality of messaging from the mothership app makes it feasible to operate Messenger as a platform, allowing thousands of third parties to provide a limitless number of features and distractions. The more goodies that they attach to Messenger, the less you will use other services and email, and you will have fewer and fewer reasons to ever venture outside of Facebook's world.
Facebook had already been developing its own little mini-apps within Messenger, festooning it with stickers, emoticons, voice clips and a selfie function. But Facebook wanted much more. ''We decided the best way of addressing the need for people to express this wide range of emotion inside of a conversation was not to built these tools ourselves but to open up Messenger as a platform, to enable developers around the world to be super creative and come up with use cases,'' says Marcus.
He demonstrates by going into the app and choosing someone to message. One touch offers an array of the first group of more than 40 apps that will be available on the launch of the platform. They are generally focused on the tiny-bite-size form of communication that is the prime means of interaction among young people and, increasingly, among everyone, except Leon Wieseltier. The app he chooses is GIPHY, which offers a choice of GIF clips to embed in a message. Another one allows you to take a picture of yourself and stretch a piece of it so you look even more bizarre than you are. There's the ESPN app that lets you share the day's highlights, or the FX app for clips from action movies. The Weather Channel app frees you from leaving Messenger to find out the forecast. Another app lets you find the perfect movie clip to send to a friend in a given situation. Down the road, L'Oreal is developing a Messenger app that lets teenage girls (and anyone else) give themselves a virtual makeup treatment and ask friends what they think. The wave of apps, says Marcus, will incorporate richer media like music and film; one imagines the likes of Spotify and Netflix getting involved.
''It starts to create a real platform out of Messenger's conversational engine and enables apps to get massive distribution,'' says Marcus.
While those apps position Messenger to better compete with others of its ilk, Facebook is breaking new ground in a service that will roll out soon that allows users to start Messenger threads with online retailers and service businesses for what Marcus calls ''high signal events.'' These are persistent conversations that track a transaction or reservation. Examples might include an online purchase, where a merchant would send a Messenger user an ''interactive receipt.'' (The first partners in the Businesses on Messenger service, which is in what Facebook calls a ''preview'' are the retailers Everlane and zulily.) In the case of an airline, after you book your ticket, you can initiate an interactive thread. It will show your itinerary, allow you to change your reservation, inform you when it's time to go to the airport, notify you of gate changes and delays, and so on. Other use cases could include things like movie tickets, food delivery and restaurant reservations''--'pretty much everything in the ''Uber of X'' category. (Of course, the data generated on those transactions would be a valuable addition to the Everest of information Facebook already has on its users.)
In those cases, most if not all of the communicating is done between you and an automated system. Marcus calls this ''a baby step towards a long journey of reinventing business communications.''
These cases are interesting because it's one of many ways where Facebook is moving from a service centered around people you know to one that's increasingly involved in stuff that might have nothing to do with your friends. ''You've actually got two graphs inside of Facebook,'' says Marcus. ''You've got the people graph, but you also have the business graph, which is basically represented by Pages [the business equivalent of a profile page] and a bunch of other things.'' Marcus contends that this will be a superior way of communicating with businesses, better than email or even an electronic assistant service such as Siri or Google Now.
Messenger could also be a way to conduct financial transactions, especially now that Facebook has instituted peer-to-peer payments within Messenger. If both parties have added debit cards or another financial component to their accounts, a person can send a friend a few bucks through the app. Unlike some other messaging services that are implementing this through third-party payment systems (Snapchat uses Square, for instance), Facebook has its own infrastructure, making it possible to imagine all sorts of transactions in the future. (As the former Paypal leader, Marcus offers his current employer considerable guidance on this, but he makes clear that payments were already planned when he arrived at Facebook.)
Marcus argues that people will eventually understand that the conversational paradigm offered by Messenger will prove the best way to do business in such cases. After all, he notes, literal conversation was the original platform for commerce. ''If you had a rabbit that I wanted and I had a wolf skin that you wanted, we would talk about it,'' he says. ''But when you look at websites or different forms of commerce today, it's not very conversational. It's almost like the guy trying to sell you something is screaming at you, and you can't reply, so you throw him money and he throws you the product.''
So when does Marcus think that the conversational paradigm will eclipse email? ''It's hard to say. People might want to have both for a while because they are used to having emails,'' he says. ''Over time, as we build capabilities and more interaction in those threads, the utility goes up, and the need for you to have something else goes down.''
And Facebook won't even have to punch you in the mouth to make this happen.
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Payday loan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:33
A payday loan (also called a payday advance, salary loan, payroll loan, small dollar loan, short term, or cash advance loan) is a small, short-term unsecured loan, "regardless of whether repayment of loans is linked to a borrower's payday." The loans are also sometimes referred to as "cash advances," though that term can also refer to cash provided against a prearranged line of credit such as a credit card. Payday advance loans rely on the consumer having previous payroll and employment records. Legislation regarding payday loans varies widely between different countries and, within the USA, between different states.
To prevent usury (unreasonable and excessive rates of interest), some jurisdictions limit the annual percentage rate (APR) that any lender, including payday lenders, can charge. Some jurisdictions outlaw payday lending entirely, and some have very few restrictions on payday lenders. In the United States, the rates of these loans were formerly restricted in most states by the Uniform Small Loan Laws (USLL), with 36%-40% APR generally the norm.
There are many different ways to calculate annual percentage rate of a loan. Depending on which method is used, the rate calculated may differ dramatically. E.g., for a $15 charge on a $100 14-day payday loan, it could be (from the borrower's perspective) anywhere from 391% to 3733%.
Although some have noted that these loans appear to carry substantial risk to the lender, it has recently been shown that these loans carry no more long term risk for the lender than other forms of credit. These studies seem to be confirmed by the SEC 10-K filings of at least one lender, who notes a charge-off rate of 3.2%.
The loan processThe basic loan process involves a lender providing a short-term unsecured loan to be repaid at the borrower's next payday. Typically, some verification of employment or income is involved (via pay stubs and bank statements), although according to one source, some payday lenders do not verify income or run credit checks. Individual companies and franchises have their own underwriting criteria.
In the traditional retail model, borrowers visit a payday lending store and secure a small cash loan, with payment due in full at the borrower's next paycheck. The borrower writes a postdated cheque to the lender in the full amount of the loan plus fees. On the maturity date, the borrower is expected to return to the store to repay the loan in person. If the borrower does not repay the loan in person, the lender may redeem the check. If the account is short on funds to cover the check, the borrower may now face a bounced check fee from their bank in addition to the costs of the loan, and the loan may incur additional fees or an increased interest rate (or both) as a result of the failure to pay.
In the more recent innovation of online payday loans, consumers complete the loan application online (or in some instances via fax, especially where documentation is required). The funds are then transferred by direct deposit to the borrower's account, and the loan repayment and/or the finance charge is electronically withdrawn on the borrower's next payday.
User demographics and reasons for borrowingAccording to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Most payday loan borrowers are white, female, and are 25 to 44 years old. However, after controlling for other characteristics, there are five groups that have higher odds of having used a payday loan: those without a four-year college degree; home renters; African Americans; those earning below $40,000 annually; and those who are separated or divorced." Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses over the course of months, not unexpected emergencies over the course of weeks. The average borrower is indebted about five months of the year.
This reinforces the findings of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) study from 2011 which found black and Hispanic families, recent immigrants, and single parents were more likely to use payday loans. In addition, their reasons for using these products were not as suggested by the payday industry for one time expenses, but to meet normal recurring obligations.
Research for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation found that a majority of Illinois payday loan borrowers earn $30,000 or less per year.  Texas' Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner collected data on 2012 payday loan usage, and found that refinances accounted for $2.01 billion in loan volume, compared with $1.08 billion in initial loan volume. The report did not include information about annual indebtedness. A letter to the editor from an industry expert argued that other studies have found that consumers fare better when payday loans are available to them. Pew's reports have focused on how payday lending can be improved, but have not assessed whether consumers fare better with or without access to high-interest loans. Pew's demographic analysis was based on a random-digit-dialing (RDD) survey of 33,576 people, including 1,855 payday loan borrowers.
In another study, by Gregory Elliehausen, Division of Research of the Federal Reserve System and Financial Services Research Program at The GWU School of Business, 41% earn between $25,000 and $50,000, and 39% report incomes of $40,000 or more. 18% have an income below $25,000.
CriticismIn the mediaIn 2014 American Express sponsored a short film entitled Spent: Looking for Change which chronicles the experiences of several people with payday and auto title loans. American Express offers several low cost pre-paid cards of their own, while most payday lenders issue loan on pre-paid cards with significant transnational fees.
On the HBO program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a segment was devoted to payday lending.
Draining money from low-income communitiesThe likelihood that a family will use a payday loan increases if they are unbanked, or lack access to a traditional deposit bank account. In an American context the families who will use a payday loan are disproportionately either of black or Hispanic descent, recent immigrants, and/or under-educated. These individuals are least able to secure normal, lower-interest-rate forms of credit. Since payday lending operations charge higher interest-rates than traditional banks, they have the effect of depleting the assets of low-income communities. The Insight Center, a consumer advocacy group, reported in 2013 that payday lending cost U.S communities $774 million a year.
A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that, "We...test whether payday lending fits our definition of predatory. We find that in states with higher payday loan limits, less educated households and households with uncertain income are less likely to be denied credit, but are not more likely to miss a debt payment. Absent higher delinquency, the extra credit from payday lenders does not fit our definition of predatory." The caveat to this is that with a term of under 30 days there are no payments, and the lender is more than willing to roll the loan over at the end of the period upon payment of another fee. The report goes on to note that payday loans are extremely expensive, and borrowers who take a payday loan are at a disadvantage in comparison to the lender, a reversal of the normal consumer lending information asymmetry, where the lender must underwrite the loan to assess creditworthiness.
A recent law journal note summarized the justifications for regulating payday lending. The summary notes that while it is difficult to quantify the impact on specific consumers, there are external parties who are clearly affected by the decision of a borrower to get a payday loan. Most directly impacted are the holders of other low interest debt from the same borrower, which now is less likely to be paid off since the limited income is first used to pay the fee associated with the payday loan. The external costs of this product can be expanded to include the businesses that are not patronized by the cash-strapped payday customer to the children and family who are left with fewer resources than before the loan. The external costs alone, forced on people given no choice in the matter, may be enough justification for stronger regulation even assuming that the borrower himself understood the full implications of the decision to seek a payday loan.
Aggressive UK advertising practicesIn May 2008 the debt charity Credit Action made a complaint to the UKOffice of Fair Trading (OFT) that payday lenders were placing advertising on the social network website Facebook, which violates advertising regulations. The main complaint was that the APR was either not displayed at all or not displayed prominently enough, which is clearly required by UK advertising standards.
Aggressive collection practicesIn US law, a payday lender can use only the same industry standard collection practices used to collect other debts, specifically standards listed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices to collect from debtors. Such practices include calling before 8 o'clock in the morning or after 9 o'clock at night, or calling debtors at work.
In many cases, borrowers write a post-dated check (check with a future date) to the lender; if the borrowers don't have enough money in their account, their check will bounce.
Payday lenders will attempt to collect on the consumer's obligation first by simply requesting payment. If internal collection fails, some payday lenders may outsource the debt collection, or sell the debt to a third party.
A small percentage of payday lenders have, in the past, threatened delinquent borrowers with criminal prosecution for check fraud. This practice is illegal in many jurisdictions and has been denounced by the CFSA, the industry's trade association.
Pricing structure of payday loansThe payday lending industry argues that conventional interest rates for lower dollar amounts and shorter terms would not be profitable. For example, a $100 one-week loan, at a 20% APR (compounded weekly) would generate only 38 cents of interest, which would fail to match loan processing costs. Research shows that on average, payday loan prices moved upward, and that such moves were "consistent with implicit collusion facilitated by price focal points".
Consumer advocates and other experts argue, however, that payday loans appear to exist in a classic market failure. In a perfect market of competing sellers and buyers seeking to trade in a rational manner, pricing fluctuates based on the capacity of the market. Payday lenders have no incentive to price their loans competitively since loans are not capable of being patented. Thus, if a lender chooses to innovate and reduce cost to borrowers in order to secure a larger share of the market the competing lenders will instantly do the same, negating the effect. For this reason, among others, all lenders in the payday marketplace charge at or very near the maximum fees and rates allowed by local law.
Proponents' stance and counterargumentsIndustry profitabilityIn a profitability analysis by Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, it was determined that the average profit margin from seven publicly traded payday lending companies (including pawn shops) for pure payday lenders, the average profit margin was 3.57%. When including pawn operators, this figure more than doubles to 7.63%. Margins, which on average, are far less than other traditional lending institutions such as credit unions and banks. Comparatively the profit margins of Starbucks for the measured time period were just over 9%.
Comparing the profit margins of payday lenders to mainstream commercial lenders supports this perspective. The comparison lenders had a profit margin of 13.04%'--much higher than even Starbucks. This was over three times the percentage for pure payday lenders, and almost twice as much when including hybrid operators. These profits are not being made by small, unknown or niche lenders. These are mainstream companies with widely recognized names: Capital One, GE Capital, HSBC, Money Tree, and American Express Credit.
Charges are in line with costsA study by the FDIC Center for Financial Research found that "operating costs are not that out of line with the size of advance fees" collected and that, after subtracting fixed operating costs and "unusually high rate of default losses," payday loans "may not necessarily yield extraordinary profits."
Despite the tendency to characterize payday loan default rates as high, several researchers have noted that this is an artifact of the normal short term of the payday product, and that during the term of loans with longer periods there are frequently points where the borrower is in default and then becomes current again. Actual charge offs are no more frequent than with traditional forms of credit, as the majority of payday loans are rolled over into new loans repeatedly without any payment applied to the original principal 
The propensity for very low default rates seems to be an incentive for investors interested in payday lenders. In the Advance America 10-k SEC filing from December 2011 they note that their agreement with investors, "limits the average of actual charge-offs incurred during each fiscal month to a maximum of 4.50% of the average amount of adjusted transaction receivables outstanding at the end of each fiscal month during the prior twelve consecutive months". They go on to note that for 2011 their average monthly receivables were $287.1 million and their average charge-off was $9.3 million, or 3.2%. In comparison with traditional lenders, payday firms also save on costs by not engaging in traditional forms of underwriting, relying on their easy rollover terms and the small size of each individual loan as method of diversification eliminating the need for verifying each borrowers ability to repay. It is perhaps due to this that payday lenders rarely exhibit any real effort to verify that the borrower will be able to pay the principal on their payday in addition to their other debt obligations.
Markets provide services otherwise unavailableOpponents of excessive government regulation of payday loan businesses argue that some individuals that require the use of payday loans have already exhausted other alternatives. Such consumers could potentially be forced to illegal sources if not for payday loans. Tom Lehman, an advocate of payday lending, said:
"... payday lending services extend small amounts of uncollateralized credit to high-risk borrowers, and provide loans to poor households when other financial institutions will not. Throughout the past decade, this "democratization of credit" has made small loans available to mass sectors of the population, and particularly the poor, that would not have had access to credit of any kind in the past."These arguments are countered in two ways. First, the history of borrowers turning to illegal or dangerous sources of credit seems to have little basis in fact according to Robert Mayer's 2012 "Loan Sharks, Interest-Rate Caps, and Deregulation". Outside of specific contexts, interest rates caps had the effect of allowing small loans in most areas without an increase of "loan sharking". Next, since 80% of payday borrowers will roll their loan over at least one time  because their income prevents them from paying the principle within the repayment period, they often report turning to friends or family members to help repay the loan  according to a 2012 report from the Center for Financial Services Innovation. In addition, there appears to be no evidence of unmet demand for small dollar credit in states which prohibit or strictly limit payday lending.
A report produced by the Cato Institute and authored by Victor Stango, found that the cost of the loans is overstated, and that payday lenders offer a product traditional lenders simply refuse to offer. However, the report is based on 40 survey responses collected at a payday storefront location.
Household welfare increasedA staff report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that payday loans should not be categorized as "predatory" since they may improve household welfare. "Defining and Detecting Predatory Lending" reports "if payday lenders raise household welfare by relaxing credit constraints, anti-predatory legislation may lower it." The author of the report, Donald P. Morgan, defined predatory lending as "a welfare reducing provision of credit." However, he also noted that the loans are very expensive, and that they are likely to be made to under-educated households or households of uncertain income.
Brian Melzer with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that payday loan users did suffer a reduction in their household financial situation, as the high costs of repeated rollover loans impacted their ability to pay recurring bills such as utilities and rent. This assumes a payday user will rollover their loan rather than repay it, which has been shown both by the FDIC and the Consumer Finance Protection bureau in large sample studies of payday consumers 
Petru Stelian Stoianovici, a researcher from Charles River Associates, and Michael T. Maloney, an economics professor from Clemson University, found "no empirical evidence that payday lending leads to more bankruptcy filings, which casts doubt on the debt trap argument against payday lending."
The report was reinforced by a Federal Reserve Board (FRB) 2014 study which found that while bankruptcies did double among users of payday loans the increase was too small to be considered significant,. The same FRB researchers found that payday usage had no positive or negative impact on household welfare as measured by credit score changes over time 
Aid in disaster areasA 2009 study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Adair Morse found that in natural disaster areas where payday loans were readily available, consumers fared better than those in disaster zones where payday lending was not present. Not only were fewer foreclosures recorded, but such categories as birth rate were not affected adversely by comparison. Moreover, Morse's study found that fewer people in areas served by payday lenders were treated for drug and alcohol addiction.
Country specificAustraliaThe Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland have imposed a 48%-APR maximum loan rate, including fees and brokerage.
CanadaPayday loans in Canada are governed by their individual provinces, for example in Ontario 562% APR($21 per $100, over 2 weeks). Bill C28 supersedes the Criminal Code of Canada for the purpose of exempting Payday loan companies from the law. In addition, the provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan have imposed specific regulations on payday loans, including lower interest rate caps.
UKFCA estimates that there are more than 50,000 credit firms that come under its widened remit, of which 200 are payday lenders. Payday loans in the United Kingdom are a rapidly growing industry, with four times as many people using such loans in 2009 compared to 2006 '' in 2009 1.2 million people took out 4.1 million loans, with total lending amounting to £1.2 billion. In 2012, it is estimated that the market was worth £2.2 billion and that the average loan size was around £270. Two-thirds of borrowers have annual incomes below £25,000. There are no restrictions on the interest rates payday loan companies can charge, although they are required by law to state the effective annual percentage rate (APR). In the early 2010s there was much criticism in Parliament of payday lenders.
In 2014 several firms were reprimanded and required to pay compensation for illegal practices, wonga.com for using letters untruthfully purporting to be from solicitors to demand payment'--a formal police investigation for fraud was being considered in 2014'--and Cash Genie, owned by multinational EZCorp, for a string of problems with the way it had imposed charges and collected money from borrowers who were in arrears.
Changes in the UK lawAs of the 1st of April 2014 there has been a major overhaul in the way Payday loans are issued and repaid.
First of all the FCA will be making sure all lenders can abide by two main goals;
"to ensure that firms only lend to borrowers who can afford it""to increase borrowers' awareness of the cost and risk of borrowing unaffordably and ways to help if they have financial difficulties"On top of the main goals Martin Wheatley, the FCA's chief executive officer, said: 
''For the many people that struggle to repay their payday loans every year this is a giant leap forward. From January next year, if you borrow £100 for 30 days and pay back on time, you will not pay more than £24 in fees and charges and someone taking the same loan for 14 days will pay no more than £11.20. That's a significant saving."
''For those who struggle with their repayments, we are ensuring that someone borrowing £100 will never pay back more than £200 in any circumstance."
''There have been many strong and competing views to take into account, but I am confident we have found the right balance."
''Alongside our other new rules for payday firms '' affordability tests and limits on rollovers and continuous payment authorities - the cap will help drive up standards in a sector that badly needs to improve how it treats its customers.''
In order to achieve these goals the FCA has proposed the following:
Initial cost cap of 0.8% per day.Fixed default fees capped at £15These new proposals could put hundreds of lenders out of business
United StatesPayday is legal in 27 states, with 9 others allowing some form of short term storefront lending with restrictions. The remaining 14 and the District of Columbia forbid the practice.
As for federal regulation, the Dodd''Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) specific authority to regulate all payday lenders, regardless of size. Also, the Military Lending Act imposes a 36% rate cap on tax refund loans and certain payday and auto title loans made to active duty armed forces members and their covered dependents, and prohibits certain terms in such loans.
The CFPB has issued several enforcement actions against payday lenders for reasons such as violating the prohibition on lending to military members and aggressive collection tactics. The CFPB also operates a website to answer questions about payday lending. In addition, some states have aggressively pursued lenders they felt violate their state laws.
Payday lenders have made effective use of the sovereign status of Native American reservations, often forming partnerships with members of a tribe to offer loans over the internet which evade state law. However, the Federal Trade Commission has begun the aggressively monitor these lenders as well. While some tribal lenders are operated by Native Americans, there is also evidence many are simply a creation of so-called "rent-a-tribe" schemes, where a non-Native company sets up operations on tribal land.
Variations and alternativesAlternatives to payday loansOther options are available to most payday loan customers. These include pawnbrokers, credit union loans with lower interest and more stringent terms which take longer to gain approval, employee access to earned but unpaid wages, credit payment plans, paycheck cash advances from employers ("advance on salary"), auto pawn loans, bank overdraft protection, cash advances from credit cards, emergency community assistance plans, small consumer loans, installment loans and direct loans from family or friends. The Pew Charitable Trusts found in 2013 their study on the ways in which users pay off payday loans that borrowers often took a payday loan to avoid one of these alternatives, only to turn to one of them to pay off the payday loan.
If the consumer owns their own vehicle, an auto title loan would be an alternative for a payday loan, as auto title loans use the equity of the vehicle as the credit instead of payment history and employment history.
Payday lenders do not compare their interest rates to those of mainstream lenders. Instead, they compare their fees to the overdraft, late payment, penalty fees and other fees that will be incurred if the customer is unable to secure any credit whatsoever.
The lenders therefore list a different set of alternatives (costs expressed here as APRs for two-week terms):
$100 payday advance with a $15 fee = 391% APR$100 bounced check with $54 NSF/merchant fees = 1,409% APR$100 credit card balance with a $37 late fee = 965% APR$100 utility bill with $46 late/reconnect fees = 1,203% APROther alternatives include the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation) Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) program. Through the ARK program, the foundation has helped nearly 4,000 military families with over $1.6 million worth of emergency loans and financial counseling from the highly regarded Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
Variations on payday lendingA minority of mainstream banks and TxtLoan companies lending short-term credit over mobile phone text messaging offer virtual credit advances for customers whose paychecks or other funds are deposited electronically into their accounts. The terms are similar to those of a payday loan; a customer receives a predetermined cash credit available for immediate withdrawal. The amount is deducted, along with a fee, usually about 10 percent of the amount borrowed, when the next direct deposit is posted to the customer's account. After the programs attracted regulatory attention, Wells Fargo called its fee "voluntary" and offered to waive it for any reason. It later scaled back the program in several states. Wells Fargo currently offers its version of a payday loan, called "Direct Deposit Advance," which charges 120% APR. Similarly, the BBC reported in 2010 that controversial TxtLoan charges 10% for 7-days advance which is available for approved customers instantly over a text message.
Income tax refund anticipation loans are not technically payday loans (because they are repayable upon receipt of the borrower's income tax refund, not at his next payday), but they have similar credit and cost characteristics. A car title loan is secured by the borrower's car, but are available only to borrowers who hold clear title (i.e., no other loans) to a vehicle. The maximum amount of the loan is some fraction of the resale value of the car. A similar credit facility seen in the UK is a logbook loan secured against a car's logbook, which the lender retains. These loans may be available on slightly better terms than an unsecured payday loan, since they are less risky to the lender. If the borrower defaults, then the lender can attempt to recover costs by repossessing and reselling the car.
Postal BankingMany countries offer basic banking services, through their postal systems. The United States Post Office Department offered such as service in the past. Called the United States Postal Savings System it was discontinued in 1967. In January 2014 the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service issued a white paper suggesting that the USPS could offer banking services, to include small dollar loans for under 30% APR. Both support and criticism quickly followed, however the major criticism isn't that the service would not help the consumer but that the payday lenders themselves would be forced out of business due to competition and the plan is nothing more than a scheme to support postal employees.
See alsoReferences^Insley, Jill (2012-07-12). "GE Money refuses mortgages to payday loan borrowers". The Guardian (London). ^Michelle Hodson ,fdic.gov, 18 November 2009, How Payday Loans Work^"Ebony". Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^Mayer, Robert (2012). "Loan Sharks, Interest-Rate Caps, and Deregulation". Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^Carruthers, Bruce (2007). "The Passage of the Uniform Small Loan Law". Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^Whereas the borrower treats the whole $15 charge as an interest, while in reality some of it may be fees (e.g., processing or origination) which cover fixed costs and don't provide return on capital to the lender.^$15 on $100 over 14 days is ratio of 15/100 = 0.15, so this is a 14-day rate. Over a year (365.25 days) this 14-day rate can aggregate to either 391% (assuming you carry the $100 loan for a year, and pay $15 every 14 days: 0.15 x (365.25/14) = 3.91, which converts to a percentage increase (interest rate) of: 3.91 x 100 = 391%) or 3733% (assuming you take out a new loan every 14 days that will cover your principal and "charge", and every new loan is taken at same 15% "charge" of the amount borrowed: (1 + 0.15)365.25/14 - 1 = 37.33, which converts to a percentage increase (interest rate) of: 37.33 x 100 = 3733%).^Megan McArdle,theatlantic.com, 18 November 2009, On Poverty, Interest Rates, and Payday Loans^Paige Skiba and Jeremy Tobacman, 10 December 2007, : The Profitability of Payday Loans.^ abGold, Aaron. "Grounding the Policy Debate Through Economic Analysis". ^ ab"Payday Lending: Do Outrageous Prices Necessarily Mean Outrageous Profits". ^ abcd"CFPB Data Point: Payday Lending". ^ ab"10-K Filing: ADVANCE AMERICA, CASH ADVANCE CENTERS, INC.". ^Bachelor, Lisa (2008-05-29). "You can settle the loan on payday '' but the APR could be more than 2,000 per cent". The Guardian (London). ^"Payday Lending in America: Who Borrows, Where They Borrow, and Why" Pew Charitable Trusts, July 18, 2012^ abc"2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households". FDIC.gov. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^^"Let consumers make their own credit choices". Philly.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^Elliehausen, Gregory. (2009) "An Analysis of Consumers' Use of Payday Loans" Financial Services Research Program. p27.^"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Predatory Lending (HBO)". YouTube. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^HaworthPress.com: Howard Jacob Karger, "Scamming the Poor: The Modern Fringe Economy", The Social Policy Journal, pp. 39''54, 2004.^Lohrentz, Tim. "The Net Economic Impact of Payday Lending in the U.S.". http://www.insightcced.org/. Insight Center. Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^: Donald P. Morgan, "Defining and Detecting Predatory Lending", Staff Report no. 273. January 2007^ ab"Texas's New Payday Lending Regulations: Effective Debiasing Entails More Than the Right Message". ^"Facebook users warned about ads". BBC News. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2008-06-10. ^Credit Action Campaigns on Facebook Debt Ads. Retrieved 2012-11-21.^"Debt Collection". Federal Trade Commission. ^"Fast Cash Loans Charged by State Regulator" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-22. ^Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Payday Loan Pricing, February 2009^http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1227&context=jcfl^Mark Flannery; Katherine Samolyk (2005-06). "Payday Lending: Do the Costs Justify the Price?". Retrieved 2010-10-03. ^"Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products". ^"A Bayesian Analysis of Payday Loans and Their Regulation". ^Lehman, Tom (September 2003). "In Defense of Payday Lending". The Free Market (The Mises Institute monthly)23 (9). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Retrieved 2014-03-24. ^"Loan Sharks, Interest-Rate Caps, and Deregulation". ^"A Complex Portrait: An Examination of Small-Dollar Credit Consumers". ^"Are Payday Lending Markets Competitive?". ^""Defining and Detecting Predatory Lending", Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, Number 273, January 2007". Newyorkfed.org. 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2012-02-22. ^"The Real Costs of Credit Access: Evidence from the Payday Lending Market". ^"Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products". ^Stoianovici, Petru Stelian; Maloney, Michael T. (28 October 2008). "Restrictions on Credit: A Public Policy Analysis of Payday Lending". SSRN. Retrieved 10 August 2009. ^Sciba, Paige. "Do Payday Loans Cause Bankruptcy". ^Bhutta, Neil. "Payday Loans and Consumer Financial Health". ^"Payday Loan Choices and Consequences". ^Morse, Adair (19 February 2009). "Payday Lenders: Heroes or Villains?". SSRN. Retrieved 24 June 2011. ^"Interest rate cap, QLD". Fairtrading.qld.gov.au. 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2012-02-22. ^Annual percentage rates, NSW[dead link]^"Bill C-26: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate)". Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-46/page-166.html^"FCA rules could force quarter of payday lenders out of business". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^ abMarie Burton, Consumer Focus, Keeping the plates spinning: Perceptions of payday loans in Great Britain^"Payday Lending Compliance Review Final Report". Office of Fair Trading. p. 9. ^"Wonga attracts high interest from City of London police". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^"The Guardian newspaper, Payday lender Cash Genie may have to pay compensation to customers, 23 July 2014". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^Wheatley, Martin. "FCA's chief executive officer". FCA.org.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2014. ^"State Payday Loan Regulation and Usage Rates". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"CFPB Takes Action Against ACE Cash Express for Pushing Payday Borrowers Into Cycle of Debt". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Our first enforcement action against a payday lender". 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Payday loans". Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Retrieved 7 October 2014. ^"NY Payday Lender Crackdown May Be Tough Act To Follow". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Online lender settles New York lawsuit amid crackdown on massive 'payday' loans". 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Circumventing State Consumer Protection Laws: Tribal Immunity and Internet Payday Lending". 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Payday Lenders That Used Tribal Affiliation to Illegally Garnish Wages Settle with FTC". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"ribes' Online Lending Faces Federal Squeeze". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Alleged 'rent-a-tribe' lender temporarily barred from new business in Minnesota". 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"The Tribe That Said No". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"Ways to get quick cash besides a payday loan", The Columbus Dispatch, November 23, 2014^"Breaking the cycle of payday loan 'trap'", USA Today, September 19, 2006^"Making Payday Flexible", New Jersey Business, December 2011^"Persuading Small Employers to Advance Wages", Bloomberg Businessweek, July 19, 2011^"With Payday Loans under Scrutiny, Startup FlexWage Offers Alternatives", American Banker, June 1, 2012^"Testimony of Dr. Kimberly R. Manturuk, Center for Community Capital, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Credit for Consumers, United States House of Representatives, Hearing on 'An Examination of the Availability of Credit for Consumers,'" Page 5, September 22, 2011^"Hearing entitled 'An Examination of the Availability of Credit for Consumers'", The Committee on Financial Services, September 22, 2011^"Cash from the Boss to Replace Payday Loans", Bloomberg Businessweek, October 20, 2011^"How Borrowers Choose and Repay Payday Loans". Retrieved 26 August 2014. ^"Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) program". Pentagonfoundation.org. Retrieved 2012-02-22. ^"New FDIC guidelines allow payday lenders to ignore state laws" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-22. ^"Wells Fargo puts hold on direct deposit advance", bizjournal.com, June 2, 1997^"The cost of convenience". BBC News. 2009-12-11. ^"Decision of the Trade Mark Registry over "Log Book Loans"" (PDF). UK Intellectual Property Office. 2003-11-26. p. page 2. ^"Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"http://www.nationalreview.com/article/371777/postal-service-banking-john-berlau". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. ^"It's Time for Postal Banking". 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. External links Media related to Payday loans at Wikimedia Commons
Payday lenders warn that proposed new rules could hurt consumers - LA Times
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:32
Payday lenders complained loudly that tough new federal regulations proposed for their industry would force many operators to shut down and leave cash-strapped consumers with fewer options for getting short-term loans.
"It's apparent to me that literally hundreds of businesses would be so adversely affected by this that they would be put out of business," said Dennis Shaul, chief executive of the Community Financial Services Assn. of America, a trade group for an industry that makes about $38.5 billion in loans a year.
But President Obama said Thursday that the new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would protect consumers from predatory lending that often forces borrowers to take out more loans to repay existing ones, eventually spending more on fees that the original loan amount.
Obama expressed little sympathy for companies that couldn't live within the proposed restrictions.
"As Americans, we believe there's nothing wrong with making a profit," Obama said in touting the work of the bureau during an appearance at an Alabama community college. "But if you're making that profit by trapping hardworking Americans in a vicious cycle of debt, then you need to find a new way of doing business."
The bureau, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been looking into the payday loan industry for three years amid complaints of abuses from consumer advocates.
Use of payday and other short-term, high-interest loans, such as those secured by an automobile title, increased during the Great Recession and its aftermath as more Americans ran short of money to pay bills.
At a hearing Thursday, bureau Director Richard Cordray unveiled proposed regulations that would require lenders to determine a borrower's ability to repay upfront or make repayment more affordable, such as by limiting the number of loans a customer could take out in a given period of time.
"Extending credit to people in a way that sets them up to fail and ensnares considerable numbers of them in extended debt traps is simply not responsible lending," Corday said at the hearing in Richmond, Va.
"It harms rather than helps consumers," he said. "It has deserved our close attention, and it now leads to a call for action."
The hearing was the first step in the bureau's efforts to collect input from the industry and consumer advocates on the proposal. In the coming weeks, the bureau will convene a panel of small lenders to get their feedback and then formally propose regulations on which the public could comment.
Consumer groups generally praised the proposed regulations.
"These reforms would protect consumers against repeat rollovers or refinancing of loans because that can lead to more fees and costs, trapping consumers in debt and draining their limited resources," said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union.
She and other consumer advocates, however, warned that one of the options for lenders does not require them to determine a borrower's ability to repay before making a loan. They urged the bureau to make such a determination mandatory.
Payday lenders already take steps to determine whether customers can repay, said Lisa McGreevy president of the Online Lenders Alliance trade group.
"Everybody loses if the borrower defaults," she said. "A belief that a loan will be repaid is a basic tenet of lending."
The industry's average loan of about $350 typically tides a borrower over until payday. Altogether, with lenders operating out of about 20,000 locations nationwide, the industry collects about $8.7 billion annually in interest and fees.
Shaul, the Community Financial Services chief, said he was disappointed with the proposed regulations and accused the bureau of being biased against payday lenders.
"Often what I see here is the tendency to accept at face value the criticism of payday lending ... from our adversaries without determining if there is truth to them," he said.
He and other payday lending industry representatives promised to work with the bureau to try to improve the proposal, which they said would harm their businesses and consumers if changes were not made.
"Customers will lose many of the credit options currently available to them," said Edward D'Alessio, executive director of Financial Service Centers of America, another industry trade group.
By describing payday loans as leading to a debt trap, the bureau suggested consumers aren't smart enough to make decisions about their own money, he said during Thursday's hearing.
"Our customers are intelligent and responsible and make difficult but rational financial decisions every single day based on their own judgments of what's right for them," D'Alessio said.
Without payday lenders, which already are regulated by the states, Americans would have to seek money "from informal and even nefarious sources."
Dozens of employees of payday lending companies attended the hearing, many wearing yellow stickers declaring "Equal Access, Credit for All." Several of the employees spoke at the hearing, saying their customers needed the loans as temporary bridges through difficult times.
"Every day, we change lives," said Lana Garner, a district manager in Richmond for Allied Cash Advance. "We're not here to put people in situations. We're here to help people out of those situations."
Payday loan customers testified as well, with some saying they were treated fine and others complaining of fees that totaled much more than the original loan amount.
Dana Wiggins, director of outreach and financial advocacy for the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said calls to the group's hotline for people with loan problems showed regulations were needed.
"I just hope we keep in mind consumers want money, consumers need money," she said. "But we need to make sure as they access the funds ... they actually have the ability to repay."
Copyright (C) 2015, Los Angeles Times
VIDEO-'An Opportunity to Lie': Maher Goes Off on Ted Cruz over Country Music Remarks | Mediaite
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 04:02
Bill Maher tonight really piled on Ted Cruz with his panel, remarking that Cruz is the kind of person that would appeal to the America of 20 years ago. CNN's S.E. Cupp noted that Cruz's big problem is that he may be popular to conservatives, but is ''detestable'' to the rest of the country.
Former Congressman Barney Frank pointed out that the GOP primaries aren't exactly full of moderates, so Cruz might do fairly well in that process.
But what really pissed off Maher was Cruz's comments about switching to country music after 9/11 and abandoning classic rock because he ''didn't like how rock music responded'' to the tragic events of that day. Maher read off a huge list, growing steadily more agitated with each name, of classic rockers who performed at big fundraising concerts after 9/11 and asked what Cruz was talkng about.
Frank offered Cruz some advice: ''Try not to say something that no one will believe.''
Watch the video below, via HBO:
[image via screengrab]
Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac
VIDEO-Ted Cruz country music 9/11 pandering (VIDEO).
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:59
On Tuesday, CBS This Morning host Gayle King asked presidential candidate Ted Cruz what kind of music he listens to. Here's his response.
''You know, music is interesting. I grew up listening to classic rock and I'll tell you sort of an odd story. My music tastes changed on 9/11. And it's a very strange'--I actually, intellectually, find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me and I have to say, it'--just as a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that says, ''These are my people.'' And so ever since 2001 I listen to country music, but I'm an odd country music fan because I didn't listen to it prior to 2001."
Spoken like a normal human being with genuine, relatable interests.
There are 594 days left until the 2016 election.
VIDEO-MSNBC Guest: 'Nothing Says, Let's Go Kill Some Muslims, Like Country Music' | MRCTV
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:48
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
Yet again, MSNBC had to issue an on-air apology, after one of its left-wing guests made an outrageous statement. On the 25 March 2015 edition of Now With Alex Wagner, Ebony.com's senior editor Jamilah Lemieux responded to Senator Ted Cruz's statement about listening to country music post-9/11 by snarking, "Nothing says, let's go kill some Muslims like country music....I mean, really? That's absurd."
VIDEO-NBC Continues to Ignore Report on DEA Sex Parties Funded by Drug Cartels | MRCTV
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:28
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
After not covering on Thursday night a report that detailed how Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents attended ''sex parties'' paid for by Colombian drug cartels, NBC continued to show no interest in the multi-year scandal by making no mention of it during Friday's edition of Today.
While ABC's World News Tonight with David Muir also failed to cover this story on Thursday, ABC's Good Morning America devoted a news brief on Friday morning to the issue that ran for a scant 17 seconds.
VIDEO-Global landmarks switch off the lights for Earth Hour - BBC News
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 01:48
Landmarks around the world have been switching off their lights as part of the WWF's Earth Hour.
The global annual event aims to inspire collective action on climate change.
Alice Baxter reports.
Scottish landmarks to switch off lights for Earth Hour
VIDEO-Hero cop in Boston Marathon bombing in coma after being shot in face | Fox News
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 01:37
A Boston police officer honored for his role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing was fighting for his life Saturday, a night after he was shot in the face during a traffic stop that ended when other officers shot and killed his attacker, the city's authorities said.
Officer John Moynihan, 34, was struck just below his right eye and the bullet remained lodged below his right ear. He was listed in critical condition and was in a medically-induced coma, Commissioner William Evans said.
"When he initially came in he was responsive, but he's heavily sedated. They basically have him in an induced coma at this time," Evans said, according to MyFoxBoston.com.
"We're not sure of the extent of the damages, they rushed him up for a cat scan and at one point he was rushed to the ER and he was taken out and he's being monitored at this time. He's in tough shape," Evans said.
Moynihan and five other gang task force members, traveling in two cars, stopped a car Friday night after reports of shots fired.
The commissioner said the officers had blue lights flashing but none had pulled out their weapons. He said video from the scene shows Moynihan approaching the driver's door, and the suspect, Angelo West, 41, of Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood, suddenly pull a gun and shoot him at point-blank range.
Evans said West continued firing at the other officers as he tried to run away, emptying his .357 Magnum handgun, and was killed at the scene when police returned fire. West had a violent criminal past with several prior gun convictions, according to Evans.
A woman driving by in a car suffered a flesh wound and is recovering was in good spirits, Evans said. Three other officers were taken to a hospital with stress-related problems.
Moynihan, 34, is on the police Youth Violence Task Force and is a highly decorated military veteran, Evans said.
He is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq in 2006-2007 and was honored at the White House in May with the National Association of Police Organizations TOP COPS award. Moynihan received the award for being one of the first responders in Watertown following the April 2013 shootout with the Boston Marathon bombers.
Moynihan had helped transit police Officer Richard Donohue, who was shot in the leg and nearly bled to death when police tried to apprehend Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Lieutenant Michael McCarthy said.
Two other people in the car with West have not been charged in the shooting, Evans said, but are held on unrelated outstanding charges.
District Attorney Daniel Conley said the top prosecutor from his office will investigate the killing of West as state law requires and it will be "completely transparent."
"My thoughts and prayers are with the officer injured tonight, his family and friends and the entire Boston Police Department during this difficult time," Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement released late Friday. "These acts of violence have no place in our neighborhoods. Our community is stronger than ever, and tonight we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the on the line every day to protect our city."
Such shootings are rare in Boston, but firearms are a major concern in the city, the commissioner said.
A clergymen and anti-violence leader, the Rev. Mark Scott of the Azusa Christian Community, said he is praying for Moynihan and his family, and for a neighborhood that has been plagued by violence.
"There is much work that people have done with the police that has made our community a lot safer," he said.
Check for updates at MyFoxBoston.com
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO- Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity | Watch The Open Mind Online | PBS Video
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 01:28
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VIDEO-Islamist groups seize Syrian city Idlib for first time | Reuters
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:15
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamist groups including al Qaeda's Nusra Front have seized the city of Idlib for the first time in Syria's civil war, fighters and a monitoring group said on Saturday.
By taking Idlib, capital of a northwestern province of the same name, hardline Islamist insurgents now control a second province after Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State group which has been the target of U.S.-led air strikes.
Sunni Islamist groups have formed an alliance which includes Nusra, the hardline Ahrar al-Sham movement and Jund al-Aqsa, but not Islamic State, their rival. They launched the offensive to capture Idlib city on Tuesday.
Syrian officials could not be immediately reached for comment. State media said fighting continued and the army had managed to halt the insurgents' advances on the northern, eastern and southern sides of the city.
"The army is fighting fierce battles to restore the situation back to what it was," state television said, adding that the army had killed hundreds of fighters.
Groups taking part in the offensive to seize the city posted videos on the internet showing fighters roaming the streets. Voices in the videos said they were in the center of the city.
The film showed insurgents shooting in the air and chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) outside a compound formerly held by government forces.
"ARMY OF FATAH"
Idlib, a city whose population has been swollen by hundreds of thousands of displaced people from other parts of Syria, is close to the strategic highway linking Damascus to Aleppo and to the coastal province of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.
"They have entered the city from several sides but the major push was from the northern and western sides," said Rami Abdelrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group which monitors the civil war.
The Islamist alliance calls its operation Army of Fatah, a reference to the conquests that spread Islam across the Middle East from the seventh century.
Footage posted on the internet earlier on Saturday by Nusra Front showed dozens of fighters in the streets of what a voiceover said was Idlib city.
"This is my house, for four years I have not entered it. This is my neighborhood, this is our country and by God's will we will liberate it and settle Muslims in it," a fighter said in the video.
He was welcomed by several men. Some embraced him and wept.
In another video, fighters were shown on top of a building which bore the insignia of Assad's Baath party, trying to tear down huge posters of the president.
Syria's four-year-old war has killed more than 220,000 people and forced millions out of their homes.
(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; editing by Andrew Roche)
VIDEO-Walter Winchell's Career | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:25
January 18, 1995Mr.'Gabler, author of Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, spoke about the life and career of radio journalist Walter Winchell.
People in this videoHosting OrganizationRelated VideoFebruary 23, 19951995 Journalism Awards DinnerThree journalists received awards at this twelfth annual dinner.'Mr.'Coffey was editor of the'...
February 24, 1995Supreme Court ReportingMr.'Denniston spoke to attorneys as part of a series sponsored by the National Press Club and and the American'...
November 2, 1994Author PerspectiveMr.'Wouk humorously discussed some of his writings.
November 2, 1994The Media and SocietyMr.'Coffey discussed the state of the news media and public cynicism toward the sensationalism exhibited by some'...
VIDEO- Challenges of the Shared Economy | Yochai Benkler - YouTube
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 19:21
VIDEO-Weekly Address: Protecting Working Americans' Paychecks | The White House
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 18:49
March 28, 2015 | 2:52 | Public Domain
In this week's address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending.
Download mp4 (106MB) | mp3 (6MB)
VIDEO-Warning sounds A-320 ÄSA.... - YouTube
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 18:10
VIDEO-German Privacy Laws Let Pilot 'Hide' His Illness From Employers | TIME
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:47
For most of this week, Germanwings airlines has struggled to answer questions about the mental health of one of its co-pilots, Andreas Lubitz, who stands accused of crashing a plane full of passengers into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing everyone on board. But a stubborn set of legal barriers has hindered their search for information: Germany's data protection and privacy laws.
Carsten Spohr, the head of Lufthansa airlines, the parent company of Germanwings, was not even able to answer basic questions about the co-pilot's medical history during a press conference held on Thursday. He could not say, for instance, whether Lubitz had taken a break from his flight training due to illness. ''In the event that there was a medical reason for the interruption of the training, medical confidentiality in Germany applies to that, even after death,'' Spohr explained. ''The prosecution can look into the relevant documents, but we as a company cannot.''
That is because privacy protections in Germany are among the most stringent in the world. Under their provisions, an airline has to rely on the truthfulness of its pilots in learning about their medical histories, and it has no legal means of checking the information the pilots provide.
''There is no general rule that obliges doctors of pilots to report medical conditions relevant to their ability to fly to the authorities,'' says Ulrich Wuermeling, a Frankfurt-based lawyer who works on privacy law. On the contrary, a German doctor who reports such information could face criminal charges for violating his patients' privacy.
The flaws in that system came into focus on Friday, when prosecutors accused the Germanwings co-pilot of hiding his mental illness from his employers. In his home in the city of Dusseldorf, prosecutors claim to have found a sick note excusing Lubitz from work on the day of the catastrophe. But the note had been torn up.
The identity of the doctor who wrote the note is still unclear. But under German law, only Lubitz '' and not his doctor '' would have had the legal right to disclose the details of his health to his employers at Germanwings.
''In practice, if you are sick and your doctor finds you unfit for work, he gives you an illness-based work exemption,'' says Christian Runte, a German lawyer and expert on data protection. ''It doesn't say what the illness is. It just says you are unfit for work. And it is up to the patient whether they want to tell that to the employer or not.''
Based on the German prosecutors' findings so far, it seems Lubitz decided not to use the work exemption on the day of the disaster and instead took his seat inside the cockpit of Germanwings Flight 9525. French prosecutors investigating the crash of that plane have since accused him of deliberately crashing the aircraft after the flight captain left him alone at the controls.
The incident has raised some troubling questions about lack of communication between Lubitz's doctors and his employers at Germanwings. On Friday, the university clinic in Dusseldorf, where Lubitz was receiving care for an undisclosed condition, denied media reports that he was being treated for depression. But in describing their ''preliminary assessment'' of the evidence, the city's prosecutor said earlier in the day that Lubitz ''hid his illness from his employer and colleagues.''
In order to provide Germanwings with any details about Lubitz's mental health, his doctors would likely have needed his express permission. ''Therefore the doctor would not be in a position to inform the company directly even if he knows that this person is a pilot,'' says Wuermeling, the lawyer in Frankfurt.
In some rare cases, doctors have been able to invoke the interests of public safety in trying to circumvent German privacy law. The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt, for instance, even ruled in 1999 that a doctor was legally obligated to breach a patient's confidentiality, because that patient refused to inform close relatives that he was HIV-positive.
But as a rule, when the German legal system is compared to those in the U.S. and other European states, Germany gives more weight to personal privacy than to public safety, legal experts say. Employers are even restricted in checking the criminal records of the people they are seeking to hire, as under German law, the employer must usually rely on the applicants themselves to provide such information voluntarily.
Part of the reason for this approach to privacy is rooted in Germany history. ''In the end it probably goes back to the Nazi regime,'' says Wuermeling. ''The Nazis basically justified enormous infiltration into personal privacy with national security reasons.''
In communist East Germany, the secret police force known as the Stasi also practiced wholesale surveillance of its citizens. So as early as 1971, democratic West Germany enacted strict privacy protections, well before any such guidelines became the norm in other parts of Europe. The reunification of Germany in 1990 extended those protections to all German citizens.
In the wake of Tuesday's air disaster, however, Germany may have to reconsider the way it balances privacy against security, at least in allowing airlines the ability to screen their pilots more thoroughly. Even a week ago, data protection authorities in Germany would likely have objected to a request from Germanwings asking doctors to reveal the details of their pilots' mental health, says Runte. ''But if you ask the same question today, I think the answer could be different.''
VIDEO-Wild Tales released in UK despite similarity to Germanwings flight | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:58
Film fans raise chilling similarity between Wild Tales and Alps disasterFirst scenes of movie show madman crashing jet to murder his enemies Acclaimed Argentinian film released in UK today and is out in AmericaControversial movie was released in Germany and Spain last autumn By Martin Robinson and Maria Realf For Mailonline
Published: 09:30 EST, 27 March 2015 | Updated: 14:36 EST, 27 March 2015
An Oscar-nominated film will still be released in the UK today despite its disturbing similarities to the Alps air disaster - to the disgust of cinema-goers near to the home of one of the three British victims.
Argentinian film Wild Tales features a mass killer who locks himself in the cockpit of a passenger jet and crashes it in to the ground to murder everyone on board.
In terrifying scenes the fictional passengers panic and one tries to smash his way through a door to get to the controls in chillingly similar circumstances to the ill-fated Germanwings Airbus A320 flight.
The fictional killer invites his enemies on to the flight, including a lover who jilted him and a colleague who was hard on him at work, so he can kill them.
Despite protests the highly-acclaimed movie will be shown in British cinemas from today, however, it was released in Spain and Germany last year although it is not known if Andreas Lubitz had seen it.
Similarities: Fans have raised questions over the release of Argentinian film Wild Tales, which features a mass killer who crashes a plane, centre, into the ground
Terror: One of the passengers tries to smash his way through the plane's cockpit door after it was locked from the inside - just like what prosecutors believe Andreas Lubitz had done
Terror: The passengers, which includes the killer's former girlfriend and boss, panic as they realise the plane is going down
Trailer for film 'Avion en Argentina'
On Tuesday he locked the captain out of the Airbus A320's cockpit before setting the airliner's controls to descend into a rocky valley, obliterating the plane and killing all 150 on board.
Reports in Germany this morning suggest the locked-out pilot may have resorted to using an axe in a desperate bid to get through the armoured door as the plane hurtled towards the ground. Prosecutors said the screams of passengers aware of their fate could be heard in the final seconds.
Lubitz was said to have been depressed for years, which he may have kept secret from his employers, and may have had a breakdown before crashing his plane from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
Movie fans say what happened with the Germanwings plane has terrifying similarities with the Wild Tales movie, and have asked whether it should be pulled off the big screen.
It is a set of six short stories, meant to be black comedies, but the first 15-minute section where a pilot crashes a plane to kill everyone on board has taken on a new meaning.
In it two passengers on board chat and discover they know a man named Pasternak - a woman who used to be his lover and a former colleague who was tough on him at work.
Release: The film's distributor in Britain has said that it will not be delayed or banned despite the Alps disaster
It then emerges that everyone on the flight is connected to him and the trapped passengers then try to break in to the cockpit as the plane hurtles downwards.
Pasternak crashes the plane into his parents' house, to kill them, himself and everyone on board.
Twitter users had noted the similarities between the film, and the horrific events of Tuesday.
Sarp YelkencioÄlu 'wrote: 'The similarities between the #GermanWings crash & the scene in Damian Szifron's movie, 'Wild Tales' is mind boggling!'
Andrea Newell tweeted: 'An awful morbid coincidence...the first story of the film 'Wild Tales' and the Germanwings aircraft crash. So sad'.
Steve Summers 'wrote: 'I wonder if the Oscar nominated 'Wild Tales' will be pulled from UK cinemas given the sad unfolding events in the #Germanwings tragedy'.
But it was cinema-goers in Birmingham - only half an hour away from Wolverhampton, where Martyn Matthews, one of the three British victims, lived with his family - who were left disgusted with the decision to go ahead with the release.
Slipped through the net: Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had suffered from depression and 'burnout' which had held up his career
Search: Teams working in the difficult Alpine terrain clear scattered crash debris and search for bodies and belongings
Receptionist Josie Callow, 28, from Birmingham, said: 'You would think there would be common sense and they could delay it for the sake of the families and people affected by the shock of such a tragic accident.
'But they probably care about making money from the release and people would have already booked to see it so that is much more important to people than bereaved family's feelings.'
Her words were echoed by Abdul Rajid, 33, a cleaner from Smethwick, West Midlands.
'I heard about it and think it is disgusting if anyone goes to see it after the crash,' he told MailOnline.
'The fact that it mirrors it so closely means they surely should have waited just a little bit before releasing it here because even though it isn't on purpose, it is going to get criticised for not being sensitive at all.'
Retired teacher Jeff Baxter, 67, from Birmingham, added: 'To release it in the UK so close to the incident when a few people from this country died is very insensitive.
'Surely they could have delayed it for a few days or even weeks and then no-one would have noticed?'
But student Thomas Harris, 23, who is originally from Surrey, was more cynical.
'Maybe they haven't changed the release date because the publicity helps, they say there is no such thing as bad press,' he said.
'But I do think it is very distasteful, especially to the families involved, it isn't something you want to be seeing advertised at such a horrible time personally.'
But distributor Artificial Eye told MailOnline it will still be shown in a number of cinemas across Britain from today. It is already out in the United States.
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VIDEO-Some Americans Think the Army is Prepping for Modern-Day Martial Law?!
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:55
Conspiracy theories are running wild over the Army's planned multi-state training exercise this summer.
Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Special Operations forces will conduct realistic training exercises from July to September across the southwest '' including in 17 Texas cities.
The exercise, called Jade Helm 15, has critics worried that the Army is preparing for modern-day martial law. Some are even calling it ''the Texas takeover.''
Help This Vet Find a Little Girl He Rescued in Hurricane Katrina
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Officials say the goal is to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle different threat scenarios. The military says that these are vital skills when it comes to the ever-changing threats that military members face.
But a slideshow about the training exercise shows Texas labeled as simulated "hostile" territory, which prompted concern from some Americans.
Pentagon and local law enforcement are trying to knock down the rumors and let everyone know that the feds have no plans to take over Texas.
Watch Trace Gallager's report above. Read the Army's press release below:
Members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command will train with other U.S Armed Forces units July 15 through Sept. 15 in a multi-state exercise called Jade Helm 15.
USASOC periodically conducts training exercises such as these to practice core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies. It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training, equipment and resources possible.
While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas.
The training exercise will be conducted on private and public land with the permission of the private landowners, and from state and local authorities. In essence, all exercise activity will be taking place on pre-coordinated public and private lands.
The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas. The most noticeable effect the exercise may have on the local communities is an increase in vehicle and military air traffic and its associated noise. There will also be economic gain: an increase in the local economy, in fuel and food purchases and hotel lodging.
This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for ARSOF since they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.
During this eight-week period, ARSOF soldiers will use this opportunity to further develop tactics, techniques and procedures for emerging concepts in Special Operations warfare.
USASOC intends to conduct the exercise safely and courteously while providing the best possible training available for the nation's Army Special Operations Forces. State and local officials are being informed of the scope of Jade Helm and will continue to be updated as the exercise progresses.
VIDEO-Jury Rules Against Ellen Pao in Silicon Valley Gender Discrimination Trial
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:59
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California jury on Friday cleared venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers of gender discrimination claims brought against it by a woman former partner in a trial that transfixed Silicon Valley.
After further deliberation, the jury also cleared Kleiner on a claim that the firm had retaliated against former partner Ellen Pao by terminating her employment after she sued in 2012.
The verdict dashed Pao's hopes for personal vindication, but the trial's embarrassing disclosures about how Pao and other women were treated at Kleiner have cast a long shadow over Silicon Valley corporate culture and its lack of diversity.
The California Superior Court case laid bare the personnel matters of the firm that backed Google Inc and Amazon.com Inc, with Pao's attorneys painting Kleiner as a quarrelsome pressure cooker where a former male partner used business trips as opportunities to make advances to female colleagues.
Pao, now interim chief executive at social-news service Reddit, claimed her standing at Kleiner crumbled after she ended a brief affair with partner Ajit Nazre. Her career deteriorated after he and Kleiner started retaliating against her, amid a climate that was overall unfriendly toward women, her lawyers argued.
The firm disputed those charges, presenting evidence that Kleiner went out of its way to hire women.
Pao sought to illustrate her point with testimony from former Kleiner partner, Trae Vassallo, who said Nazre appeared at her hotel room on a business trip. He wore a bathrobe and carried a glass of wine, according to testimony.
Kleiner countered that it investigated Nazre after Vassallo complained, after which he quickly left the firm.
Some witnesses, including Pao's onetime mentor John Doerr, have testified that Pao's lack of advancement stemmed from subpar performance, not discrimination or retaliation.
But Pao's attorneys argued she laid the groundwork for the firm's highly successful investment in RPX, the patent company, and suggesting an investment in Twitter, an idea more senior partners rejected at the time.
Pao herself testified for five days and faced tough questions both from Kleiner's legal team and from jurors. One juror asked if it was ''professional to enter into an affair with a married partner?''
"Going back I would not have done it again, but I didn't think it was inappropriate at the time," Pao said, emphasizing that Nazre had told her he was separated.
The case is Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, CGC-12-520719, in California Superior Court, in the County of San Francisco.
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich and Jim ChristieEditing by Peter Henderson and Grant McCool)
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VIDEO-"How the FBI Created a Terrorist": Agency Accused of Entrapping Mentally Ill Man in Florida | Democracy Now!
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:54
"How the FBI Created a Terrorist." That's the subtitle of a new expos(C) in The Intercept by Trevor Aaronson, a journalist who investigates the FBI's use of informants in sting operations. The article tells the story of Sami Osmakac, a mentally disturbed, financially unstable young man who was targeted by an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting in early 2012. The operation involved a paid informant who hired Osmakac for a job, when he was too broke to afford inert government weapons. The FBI provided the weapons seen in a so-called martyrdom video Osmakac filmed before he planned to deliver what he believed was a car bomb to a bar in Tampa, Florida. His family believes Osmakac never would have initiated such a plot without the FBI. And transcripts of conversations obtained by Aaronson show FBI agents appeared to agree, describing him as a ''retarded fool'' whose terrorist ambitions were a ''pipe-dream scenario.'' The transcripts show how the agents worked to get $500 to Osmakac so he could make a down payment on the weapons '-- something government prosecutors wanted to prove their case. In November 2014, Osmakac was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, despite a court-appointed psychologist diagnosing him with schizoaffective disorder. We are joined by Avni Osmakac, the older brother of Sami Osmakac, and Trevor Aaronson, contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMYGOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we turn right now to our last segment. "How the FBI Created a Terrorist." That's the subtitle of a new expos(C) in The Intercept by Trevor Aaronson, a journalist who investigates the FBI's use of informants in sting operations. The article tells the story about Sami Osmakac, a mentally disturbed, financially unstable young man who is targeted by an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting in early 2012. The operation involved a paid informant who hired Osmakac for a job when he was too broke to afford inert government weapons. The FBI provided the weapons seen in a so-called martyrdom video Osmakac filmed before he planned to deliver what he believed was a car bomb to a bar in Tampa, Florida. His family believes he never would have initiated such a plot without the FBI, and transcripts of conversations obtained by Aaronson show FBI agents appeared to agree. The transcripts show how the agents worked to get $500 to him so he could make a down payment on the weapons'--something government prosecutors wanted to prove their case. This is part of an exchange between Special Agent Richard Worms and Special Agent Jacob Collins.
SPECIALAGENTRICHARDWORMS: This poor guy, he gets almost 500 bucks in his hand tomorrow, and he says, "You need me for another week?" That's a thousand bucks. Why wouldn't he show up?
SPECIALAGENTJACOBCOLLINS: Well, right, but you're a hard-working, logical human being.
SPECIALAGENTRICHARDWORMS: No, I'm trying to think, if I'm a retarded fool who is hard up for money, and I don't have a pot to [expletive] in, another $500 looks pretty good.
AMYGOODMAN: That was part of a conversation between FBI Special Agents Richard Worms and Jacob Collins referring to Sami Osmakac as a, quote, "retarded fool" in the lead-up to his arrest. In November 2014, he was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, despite a court-appointed psychologist diagnosing him with schizoaffective disorder.
Well, for more, we're joined now by two guests. In Tampa, Florida, we're joined by Avni Osmakac, the older brother of Sami. And we're joined by Trevor Aaronson, a contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Trevor is the author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism, his most recent piece in The Intercept called "The Sting: How the FBI Created a Terrorist." He's joining us from Vancouver, Canada, where he delivered a TED talk this week on Sami Osmakac. Democracy Now! invited a spokesperson from the FBI to join us on the show, but the agency declined.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Trevor, let's begin with you. Lay out this story.
TREVORAARONSON: What's particularly interesting about this case is that this is a rare, if first ever, look at behind the scenes of a counterterrorism sting operation. And organizations like Human Rights Watch have often criticized these types of sting operations for targeting mentally ill, economically desperate people who, on their owns, would not have the means to commit this type of crime. And these transcripts, the sealed transcripts that we obtained that were the accidentally recorded conversations among FBI agents as they were working the sting, certainly suggest that the FBI seems to agree with groups like Human Rights Watch, that in the case of Sami Osmakac, at least, they didn't think he was capable of committing significant violence. You know, as the transcripts you showed earlier demonstrated, they thought he was a "retarded fool." They describe his plot as "wishy-washy" and a "pipe-dream scenario."
And, you know, the transcripts also show that they went to enormous lengths to put money in Sami Osmakac's hands, to basically funnel money through an informant, who would then give it to Sami Osmakac so that Sami Osmakac could then purchase weapons from an undercover agent, which was something that the federal government insisted'--excuse me, federal prosecutors insisted they needed to show Osmakac's capacity for this type of crime. But, obviously, he didn't have that type of capacity. And so, what these transcripts show, which are transcripts that a federal judge and the FBI never wanted released, they show that they went to an enormous length to orchestrate'--and that's their word, "orchestrate"'--a situation where Sami Osmakac would be given money to then purchase weapons, and so he could be, essentially, kind of created as a terrorist in this FBI sting operation.
AMYGOODMAN: Where does the Hollywood ending come in?
TREVORAARONSON: So, as this sting was progressing, the FBI squad supervisor, Richard Worms, was talking to his agents about discussions he was having with federal prosecutors, and he described how federal prosecutors wanted a "Hollywood ending" to their sting operation. What's particularly troublesome about that terminology, I think, is that it clearly shows that the FBI was not only controlling every aspect of the sting operation, but they were controlling it in such a way that they wanted a splashy ending, a Hollywood ending, as he says.
And they essentially got a Hollywood ending. They were able to get Sami Osmakac to record a so-called martyrdom video, in which he's wearing a suicide vest and has an AK-47 leaned up against a closet door behind him'--all of which were provided by the FBI. And at the very end, they get him to attempt to deliver a car bomb, which was of course provided by the FBI. And as he backs out of a hotel parking lot, the car bomb in his trunk, FBI agents rush in and arrest him. And they essentially got their Hollywood ending. What's concerning, I think, is that, you know, this isn't the only case where a Hollywood ending has occurred. You know, Sami Osmakac is one of more than 175 so-called terrorists since 9/11 who have been caught in these types of sting operations. And you could certainly make a strong argument that in each of these sting operations, the FBI has created a Hollywood ending like we saw in Osmakac's case.
AMYGOODMAN: Why did they target him?
TREVORAARONSON: It's still unclear exactly why they targeted him. According to the FBI's official story on this, Osmakac happened to go into a Middle Eastern market that was run by an informant, a man named Abdul Dabus. And Dabus claimed that Osmakac asked him if he had al-Qaeda flags. In turn, Dabus then called the FBI, and they launched a sting operation against him. And that was the beginning of the operation, according to the government.
Sami Osmakac denies that he ever asked anyone for an al-Qaeda flag. And certainly, there's questions about how FISA evidence was used and whether the government may have used surveillance before the introduction of the informant. That is to say that before he met Dabus, the informant, did the government know or somehow want to target Sami Osmakac? And there are certainly suggestions along that line. I mean, it certainly is miraculous that Sami Osmakac would travel 45 minutes from his home and meet someone who just so happens to be an FBI informant and then target him.
But to make clear, the government, in the trial, never was able to provide any evidence that Sami Osmakac had any connections to international terrorists groups. There was nothing in the record to suggest that he was on the verge of an attack, he had connections to people who could help him with an attack. This was, at best, an idea, an idea that was manipulated by the government through an FBI informant and an undercover agent. And in the end, the capacity for that idea'--all of the weapons, all of the money'--was provided by the FBI in this very elaborately orchestrated sting operation.
AMYGOODMAN: I want to turn to Avni Osmakac, who's joining us from Tampa. What do you want people to understand about your brother's case?
AVNIOSMAKAC: Well, I just want to make clear that whatever the government is playing in the media and that everything that's gone on has been orchestrated by the government. They want you to see this. Behind the scenes, there's 128 agents working on this, informants and everything. All the YouTube videos and everything have been orchestrated by the government. The same day my brother was arrested, the next day, the guy that's holding the camera and everything behind, they all disappeared. There's been multiple informants. The next day, they disappeared, and nobody knew what was going on. During the trial, they were denying that Russell was an informant. But in the sentencing, one of the agents slipped and said they knew exactly where he was and they knew his location. And then our lawyer asked him, "So does that mean that he's working for you?" And their response was, "That's national security. We cannot discuss this with you guys." So I know for a fact'--I've been saying this since day one'--this was an FBI sting, FBI entrapment, since day one it came to the media. And I just want people to wake up and see this is not the first time this happened. It just happened in Ohio again. It happened in New York a couple weeks ago with the three guys. This has been going on. And they're targeting people that are going through their own challenges. And this needs to stop.
AMYGOODMAN: Avni, we're going to have to leave it there, but we're going to continue this discussion right after the show and post it at democracynow.org. Avni Osmakac and Trevor Aaronson, thanks for joining us.
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VIDEO-CA Dem Warns Global Warming Will Make Women Prostitutes
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:52
Lee introduced House Concurrent Resolution 29, warning that women will be forced into ''transactional sex'' to get enough food and clean water '-- all because global warming will create ''conflict and instability'' in the world.
''Women will disproportionately face harmful impacts from climate change,'' Lee's resolution reads. It continues claiming, ''Food insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health.''
Lee's document goes on to urge Congress to agree on the ''disparate impacts of climate change on women,'' and goes on to demand that Congress use ''gender-sensitive frameworks in developing policies to address climate change.''
Lee also charges that women, who are ''often underrepresented in the development and formulation of policy regarding adaptation to climate change,'' are doubtless in the best position to offer policy ideas.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
VIDEO-Harry Reid to Retire From Senate in 2016 - NYTimes.com
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:57
WASHINGTON '-- Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama's ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.
Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November's midterm elections.
''I understand this place,'' Mr. Reid said. ''I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.''
He has already confounded the new Republican majority this year by holding Democrats united against a proposal to gut the Obama administration's immigration policies as well as a human-trafficking measure Democrats objected to over an anti-abortion provision.
''I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,'' said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. ''I don't want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.''
Mr. Reid's tenure has become increasingly combative in recent years and included a procedural change on nominations that infuriated Republicans. He also came under fire for blocking floor debate, and even some of his Democratic colleagues suggested that he was stifling the Senate. Just this week, he alienated House Democrats who thought he was sabotaging a compromise on Medicare.
His departure at the end of 2016 will create an opening both at the top of the Senate Democratic hierarchy and in a Senate contest that would have been a megaspending slugfest in the presidential battleground of Nevada. Conservatives such as Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who were a favorite target of Reid criticism in 2014, would have spared no expense in trying to oust him.
Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who helped Democrats capture the Senate in 2006 and has led their political messaging operation, is considered the favorite to succeed Mr. Reid as party leader. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, could also be a contender for the job, but it is unclear how strongly he would pursue it.
Interactive Feature | First Draft First Draft provides fast-paced and comprehensive coverage of politics and elections by The New York Times.
In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, the state's former attorney general, is considered a strong Democratic candidate with Mr. Reid out; the Republican field will be fluid and is likely to include Michael Roberson, a State Senate leader.
Mr. Reid had previously insisted he was running and said he was confident that he could have triumphed next year had he decided to seek a sixth term. The onetime amateur boxer noted he might not have even run in 2010 if Republicans had not made such a point of trying to unseat him.
He also said he was worried his race would consume campaign money that would be needed in other competitive states as Democrats try to regain control of the Senate.
''I think it is unfair for me to be soaking up all the money to be re-elected with what we are doing in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, in Missouri, in Florida,'' he said. ''These are big, expensive states.''
First elected to the House in 1982, the former trial lawyer and head of the Nevada gaming commission won his Senate seat in 1986 and joined the leadership about a decade later. Mr. Reid took over the top job in 2005 after Tom Daschle, then the leader, lost his re-election bid.
After a tough election night in 2004, some other top Democrats suggested they might want to consider a leadership bid, but Mr. Reid had the election sewn up by the next day. He is the longest-serving member of Congress from Nevada, and the second-longest-serving Democratic leader after Mike Mansfield of Montana.
Like his chief adversary, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, Mr. Reid learned the workings of the Senate in the trenches as the vote-counting whip and takes pride in his floor expertise.
Unhappy with the slow pace of judicial and executive branch confirmations, Mr. Reid engineered a change in Senate procedure in 2013 that allowed Democrats to overcome filibusters against nominees with a simple majority. The change led to a flurry of new judges being named to important appeals courts, though Republicans accused him of changing the nature of the Senate and running roughshod over the minority.
After the election of Mr. Obama and Democratic gains in 2008, Mr. Reid did the deal-making and vote counting required to push through the new health care law with no Republican votes and the economic stimulus with just a handful.
''I am so happy that we were able to get the health care bill passed,'' he said, acknowledging that there were times he wondered why he did not give up. ''Like a fool, I kept coming back.''
After opposing a more forgiving immigration policy earlier in his career, Mr. Reid became a champion of granting legal status to immigrants living in the country illegally, an evolution he attributes to his relationship with his state's growing Hispanic population. He was crucial to Senate passage of bipartisan, comprehensive immigration legislation in 2013 '-- a bill the House did not take up '-- and said the advocates for the immigrants would ultimately prevail.
''We have won that debate,'' said Mr. Reid, who has also made pushing for expanded use of alternative energy a legislative priority.
His strict management of the Senate the past few years became an issue in the 2014 elections as Republicans accused him of stifling debate and denying even Democrats an opportunity to push their priorities on the Senate floor. He blamed Republicans for the legislative gridlock, citing their deep opposition to Mr. Obama and their determination to deny him any victories.
Mr. Reid said he believed the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that allowed a flood of money from superrich Americans into politics had been a disaster for Congress, even as he acknowledged that he had to adopt some of the same tactics himself to keep Democrats competitive. His push for reining in unlimited spending is likely to be a priority for him in his remaining months.
Mr. Reid said he had seen one important change for the better in the Senate: an influx of female senators.
''This place is so much better because of women,'' he said. ''Men and women are different, and they have changed the dynamic of the Senate.''
VIDEO-msnbc and #YesWeCode Grow Hope in Detroit | MSNBC
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:55
On March 27th and 28th, hope will turn into action in Detroit, Michigan, as msnbc, #YesWeCode, and Ford host a special Growing Hope event at the Ford STEAM Lab. Here, 100 students from five Detroit-area middle will participate in a two-day ''hackathon''. They'll have a chance to learn computer programming skills that help pave the way towards high-tech education and careers.
The tech products the students create at the hackathon will be judged by a high-profile panel, and over $30,000 in scholarships will be awarded. The panel will include Stephen Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press and co-host of Detroit Today on WDET, and Van Jones, #YesWeCode founder and environmental and civil rights advocate.
msnbc will present a special live broadcast from the event, hosted by Joy Reid, on March 27th at 2pm ET. Join us as we explore the remarkable work of young people who represent the hope and ingenuity that is essential to the continued revival of Detroit.
For more information on #YesWeCode, visit: yeswecode.org
Wondering how a hackathon works? Check out the msnbc Original Swimming in Their Genius: How #YesWeCode Teaches Tech, below.
msnbc Originals, 12/3/14, 5:14 PM ET
Swimming in their genius: How #YesWeCode teaches tech MSNBC.com follows promising teen Zachary Dorcinville through an inspiring weekend of ''apps not raps'' at the My Brother's Keeper #YesWeCode Hackathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
VIDEO-Michael D Higgins Parasite-Anti Water Charges Protest-Derek Byrne - YouTube
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:17
VIDEO-Bashar al Assad tells Charlie Rose Syria is "open" to dialogue with U.S. - CBS News
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:09
CBS News' Charlie Rose has interviewed embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an upcoming "60 Minutes" report. Assad's regime just entered its fifth year of a brutal civil war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 210,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In an excerpt of the interview for the "CBS Evening News," Assad responded to recent comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry regarding a potential willingness by the U.S. to negotiate with the the Syrian leader.
Politics and PowerExclusive: Charlie Rose interviews Syria's President Bashar AssadCharlie Rose interviews Syrian President Bashar Assad for his first television interview since President Obama asked Congress to approve the use ...
"I would say what we have in Syria so far is only a statement, nothing concrete yet, no facts, no new reality regarding the political approach of the United States toward our situation, our problem, our conflict in Syria," said Assad. "But as principal, in Syria we could say that every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States, regarding anything based on mutual respect."18Photos
The faces of Syria's refugeesHundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees flee Syria for Turkey as ISIS threatens them
Assad said there is currently no direct communication between his government and America's. When Rose asked Assad if he'd like for communication to begin he answered: "Any dialogue is positive, as I said, in principal, of course, without pressuring the sovereignty of Syria."You can watch more of Charlie Rose's interview Friday on "CBS This Morning" at 7:00 AM ET and this Sunday on "60 Minutes." Check your local listings.(C) 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.