718: Sizeist

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 59m
May 3rd, 2015
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Executive Producers: Baronet Sir Adam Kowalewski, John Porter, Eiichi Kitagawa, Scott Drummond, Lucas Groters

Associate Executive Producers: Baron Sir Dean Bertram

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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Presidential Proclamation -- Law Day, U.S.A., 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:30
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
LAW DAY, U.S.A., 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Throughout the world, the rule of law is central to the promise of a safe, free, and just society. Respect for and adherence to the rule of law is the premise upon which the United States was founded, and it has been a cornerstone of my Presidency. America's commitment to this fundamental principle sustains our democracy -- it guides our progress, helps to ensure all people receive fair treatment, and protects our Government of, by, and for the people.
This Law Day, we celebrate a milestone in the extraordinary history of the rule of law by marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was this extraordinary document -- agreed to by the King of England in 1215 -- that first spelled out the rights and liberties of man. The ideals of the Magna Carta inspired America's forefathers to define and protect many of the rights expressed in our founding documents, which we continue to cherish today.
The Magna Carta has also provided a framework for constitutional democracies throughout the world, and my Administration is committed to supporting good governance based upon the rule of law. Around the globe, we support strong civil institutions, independent judiciaries, and open government -- because the rule of force must give way to the rule of law. For more than two centuries, we have witnessed these values drive opportunity and prosperity here in the United States, and as President, I will continue to work to bolster our systems of justice and advance efforts that do the same overseas.
America is and always has been a nation of laws. Our institutions of justice are vital to securing the promise of our country, and they are bound up with the values and beliefs that have united peoples through the ages. The United States and our citizens are inextricably linked to all those around the world doing the hard work of strengthening the rule of law -- joined in common purpose by our mutual interest in building freer, fairer, more just societies.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with Public Law 87-20, as amended, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2015, as Law Day, U.S.A. I call upon all Americans to acknowledge the importance of our Nation's legal and judicial systems with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and to display the flag of the United States in support of this national observance.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Small Business Week, 2015
Sun, 03 May 2015 07:02
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 02, 2015
NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
America's small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing half of our country's private sector workforce and creating nearly two out of every three new jobs in our country. Representing the quintessential American ideals of hard work and ingenuity, small businesses -- from startups to mom-and-pop shops -- are crucial to our national prosperity and economic security. During National Small Business Week, we recommit to advancing these vital enterprises, and we celebrate their contributions to our collective American story.
From day one, my Administration has made supporting our Nation's small businesses a priority. We have fought to ensure our tax code reflects our values and encourages growth, and part of that effort includes making sure those who take risks and do the hard work of turning a good idea into a great business get a fair deal. That is why I have signed into law 18 different tax cuts for small businesses, which are helping them thrive in the 21st-century economy. By investing in our infrastructure, expanding access to credit, and assisting entrepreneurs as they start out and scale up, we are continuing to bolster America's small business community.
My Administration is committed to ensuring small businesses have the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed. Last year, we built on the success of my QuickPay initiative -- which has already generated over $1 billion in cost savings for small businesses -- by launching SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their working capital. The Affordable Care Act is working to expand insurance coverage, reduce health care costs, and improve the quality of care -- all of which help small businesses and our economy. Additionally, the law allows small businesses access to SHOP, a competitive marketplace where they can look for coverage that meets their needs and where they cannot be charged more for operating in blue-collar industries, employing women, or insuring people with pre-existing conditions. We are also focused on injecting capital into emerging, entrepreneurial communities, supporting ventures operated by women, veterans, and underserved populations. And we continue to work to open new markets for small exporters because we know trade promotion bolsters our small businesses and their employees.
Our small businesses represent what is best about our Nation -- the idea that with determination and responsibility, anyone can build a better life for themselves and their loved ¼ones. For more than two centuries, American innovation has sparked ideas that have changed our lives and the course of our history for the better. This week, we recognize the role small businesses play as pillars of our communities and engines of our growing economy, and we rededicate ourselves to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit that has forged the strongest economy the world has ever known.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 4 through May 8, 2015, as National Small Business Week. I call upon all Americans to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the competitiveness of the American economy with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Public Service Recognition Week, 2015
Sun, 03 May 2015 07:01
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 02, 2015
PUBLIC SERVICE RECOGNITION WEEK, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
A Government of, by, and for the people is sustained only through the hard work and extraordinary sacrifice of millions of citizens willing to serve the country they love. From the moment an early band of patriots first came together to secure the blessings of liberty for all, public servants have worked to create a more perfect Union. Today -- in every city and every town -- Americans proudly carry forward this tradition of service, which has built our Nation and strengthened its promise. This week, we recognize all those who dedicate their lives to this noble pursuit, and we celebrate the tremendous difference they make every day.
In the face of difficult challenges, public servants give new life to the values that bind our Nation together. Civil servants are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home. And despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration, and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it.
With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active duty service members, our Federal workforce represents extraordinary possibility. Our Government can and must be a force for good, and together, we can make sure our democracy works for all Americans. We know there are some things we do better when we join in common purpose, and with hard work and a commitment worthy of our Nation's potential, we can keep our country safe, guarantee basic security, and ensure everyone has a shot at success.
As President, I am dedicated to engaging our workforce and investing in the people who strive every day to help our Nation live up to its limitless promise. My Administration is advancing efforts to train and develop the next generation of civil servants and equip them with the skills to lead change, build coalitions, and collaborate across Government to solve big problems. We are also finding new ways to improve how we recruit, empower, and retain the most diverse and very best talent, ensuring careers in public service will continue to attract the brightest of the coming generations. I am committed ¼to lifting up the outstanding work that is done every day and to fostering an environment where all our employees feel valued, engaged, and included.
Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many. It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our Nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward. There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference. During Public Service Recognition Week, we honor the women and men who power our local, State, and Federal governments, and we recommit to tackling the toughest challenges with the most talented workforce.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 3 through May 9, 2015, as Public Service Recognition Week. I call upon all Americans to recognize the hard work and dedication of our Nation's public servants and to observe this week by expressing their gratitude and appreciation through appropriate activities, events, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Loyalty Day, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
LOYALTY DAY, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
As Americans, we are united not by the circumstances of our birth or our station in life, but by our fidelity to a set of shared ideals and unalienable rights. The principles of freedom, justice, and equality for all are at the very core of who we are as a Nation. We believe firmly in the power of democracy and opportunity -- but we know that these blessings are only what we make of them, and that our experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each new generation. Today, we recommit to the profoundly patriotic work of doing all we can to better the country we love.
Throughout the course of our history, our values have sustained us through periods of tremendous struggle and times of great prosperity. They found expression in the courage of patriots who loved this country so much that they were willing to risk everything to realize its promise. It was an enormous faith in what our country could be that led hopeful women and men to march on Washington, waving the American flag -- even as they were denied their fundamental rights. And it was the understanding that our Union is a constant work in progress that guided our forebears through places like Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall.
As a Nation, we know the journey to perfect our Union is unending, and we are strong enough to be self-critical. We can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our power to remake our country to more closely align with our highest ideals. On Loyalty Day, we reaffirm the belief that loving this great Nation requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the willingness to speak out for what is right and to recognize that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, and the values we teach our children. Let us never forget America is exceptional because we each have the capacity to shape our own destiny and change the course of our Union's history.
In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2015, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
The rich heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders spans the world and the depths of America's history. Generation after generation, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have forged a proud legacy that reflects the spirit of our Nation -- a country that values the contributions of everyone who calls America home. During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we honor the perseverance of those who courageously reached for their hopes and dreams in a new land, and we celebrate the important impact the AAPI community has made on our Nation's progress.
From the more than one million immigrants who journeyed across the Pacific and arrived on Angel Island to the Chinese-American laborers who risked their lives to link our coasts by rail, the determination of this vibrant community represents the best of our national character. In each chapter of our country's story -- in places like Selma and the grape fields of Delano, during the moments where our Nation's destiny has been decided -- AAPIs of all backgrounds have set inspiring examples as leaders and trailblazers, united by a common hope for civil rights, equal treatment, and a better tomorrow for all Americans.
Through times of hardship and in the face of enduring prejudice, these women and men have persisted and forged ahead to help strengthen our Union. Native Hawaiians have fought to protect their treasured traditions, language, and lands. And AAPI patriots have defended the beliefs for which we stand. Seventy years ago, the United States and our allies secured a lasting peace throughout the Asia Pacific region and much of the world -- a victory achieved in part by thousands of Filipino Americans who fought valiantly but were denied compensation, and also by Japanese Americans who served this country even as the freedom of their loved ones was denied.
Fifty years ago, the United States opened new doors of opportunity to more Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, ending the arbitrary and outdated policies that unfairly limited the potential of entire regions. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, which brought new Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, and Laotian communities to this country. But as we recognize the enormous progress America has made, we must also acknowledge the many struggles AAPIs continue to experience in the face of persistent inequality and bigotry, including barriers to equal access to education, employment, and health care. South Asian Americans -- especially those who are Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh -- too often face senseless violence and harassment due only to the color of their skin or the tenets of their faith. And to this day, many AAPIs continue to live in the shadows and are separated from their families due to our broken immigration system.
My Administration is committed to addressing these unmet needs and the ugly discrimination that still exists. I was proud to re-establish the White House Initiative on AAPIs soon after I took office, to foster opportunities for increased access to and involvement in Federal programs. As part of that effort, my Administration is expanding its regional network of Federal leaders and hosting community meetings across the country to better understand the needs of the diverse AAPI community. Last year, I announced my intent to take actions that would allow more high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, and I continue to call on the Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. To highlight the tremendous growth of the AAPI community and my Administration's commitment to increasing opportunity for AAPIs everywhere, this month we will host the White House Summit on AAPIs -- an unprecedented and historic all-day convening of senior Federal officials and community leaders from across the country.
As we commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we pay tribute to all those in the AAPI community who have striven for a brighter future for the next generation. Together, let us recommit to embracing the diversity that enriches our Nation and to ensuring all our people have an equal chance to succeed in the country we love.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/AAPI to learn more about our efforts on behalf of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Foster Care Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
At the heart of the American story is the simple truth that all children should have a fair chance at success, no matter who they are or where they come from. Central to this promise of opportunity are the love and support of family -- which all girls and boys deserve, but not enough have. During National Foster Care Month, we recommit to caring for all our Nation's daughters and sons, and we reaffirm our basic belief: in America, there is a place for everyone, and no young person should feel like they are on their own.
Over the last decade, our Nation has made significant progress in reducing the number of young people in foster care, but we have more work to do to ensure all children can thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Today, there are over 400,000 boys and girls in our foster care system. More than 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted, and every year, 23,000 young people age out of the system -- never having found the security of a permanent home. There also continue to be disproportionate numbers of African-American and Native American youth in the foster care system, compounding the disparities these communities too often face.
All young people, regardless of what they look like, which religion they follow, who they love, or the gender they identify with, deserve the chance to dream and grow in a loving, permanent home. When our Nation's daughters and sons lack stable homes and strong support structures, they face enormous barriers to reaching their fullest potential -- difficulties no child should have to experience, especially not on their own. And those who age out of the foster care system often face obstacles as they transition into adulthood, including challenges completing their education, remaining financially secure, and staying out of the justice system.
My Administration is committed to expanding what is possible for all our Nation's children and empowering them to overcome every challenge they face. From day one, we have been working to create a better, more-supportive foster care system, and we have taken steps to increase the safety, permanency, and well-being of America's children. Last year, we announced new initiatives to help protect the financial security of foster youth, expand their opportunities for education and employment, and keep them out of the justice system. We are partnering with State and tribal leaders to support innovative strategies that strengthen families, improve the foster care system, and prevent children from entering it in the first place, and each day we continue the fight to secure every child's right to earn their piece of the American dream.
We know that children are best raised in families, not institutions. And each year, men and women of all backgrounds open their homes and hearts to foster children. These selfless individuals step up and serve as loving parents and family members and dedicated teachers, mentors, caseworkers, and faith leaders -- helping foster children realize their highest aspirations despite the great odds stacked against them. My Administration is striving to bolster all those who support foster children by providing the resources and assistance they need. With so many children waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. That is why we are working to break down the barriers that exist and investing in efforts to recruit more qualified parents for children in foster care.
In the face of often unimaginable challenges, foster children demonstrate extraordinary courage and determination. Their resolve reminds us that we have obligations to them and to one another, and that we all share in the responsibility of lifting up our Nation's youth. This month, we honor these young people and all those who dedicate themselves to making a difference in the lives of girls and boys in foster care. Let us each recognize the large and small ways we can brighten the future of a foster child this month and every month, and together let us reach for the day when everyone knows the love and safety of a permanent home.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as National Foster Care Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by taking time to help youth in foster care and recognizing the commitment of all who touch their lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation --National Building Safety Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
NATIONAL BUILDING SAFETY MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
From skyscrapers and schools to hospitals and homes, America's buildings are the foundations of our communities. When disasters strike, we rely on the structural integrity of our buildings to keep us safe. This month, we pay tribute to the innovative professionals who implement our safety standards, and we redouble our efforts to make our buildings as resilient as our people.
All Americans can take action to protect their loved ones and their property by preparing their homes and workplaces for any disaster. If earthquakes are common where you live, you can restrain heavy appliances, anchor tall bookcases and file cabinets, and install latches on drawers and cabinet doors. To protect against hurricanes, tornadoes, and high winds, you can reinforce garage doors and prepare covers for your windows and house doors. To learn more about how to prepare for all types of disasters and improve the safety and resilience of the places in which you spend time, visit www.Ready.gov.
My Administration is committed to creating stronger, safer, disaster-resistant communities and to empowering Americans to do their part. We are collaborating with engineers, scientists, construction workers, and other professionals to develop cutting-edge tools focused on bolstering the safety of our buildings and infrastructure while also improving their energy efficiency -- because we can increase our Nation's resilience while also being good stewards of our environment. And we are working with States, tribal leaders, and local partners to ensure neighborhoods across our Nation adopt the most up-to-date building codes and standards that not only help protect individuals and their families, but also support the needs of our cities and towns.
As our Nation faces longer wildfire seasons, more severe droughts, heavier rainfall, and more frequent flooding in a changing climate, safeguarding the resilience of our infrastructure is more critical than ever. That is why, as part of my Climate Action Plan, my Administration is committed to building infrastructure that can withstand more frequent and more devastating natural disasters. To support these efforts, earlier this year I established a flood standard for new and rebuilt federally funded structures in and around floodplains, ensuring taxpayer dollars are well spent on resilient infrastructure while reducing the risk and cost of future flood disasters.
Across the United States, buildings bring us together and protect us from harm. As a Nation, our capacity to continue to withstand threats and recover quickly from disaster depends on what we do today. During National Building Safety Month, let us rededicate ourselves to making the places we live, work, and play more stable and secure for generations to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as National Building Safety Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and other interested groups to join in activities that raise awareness about building safety. I also call on all Americans to learn more about how they can contribute to building safety at home and in their communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:31
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
NATIONAL PHYSICAL FITNESS AND SPORTS MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Sports are a fundamental part of American culture. They foster our country's competitive drive, help us stay healthy, and teach us what it takes to succeed -- not only on the softball diamond or the basketball court, but also in life. Sports and fitness reflect our national character, and they help us unlock our full potential. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we recognize parents, coaches, educators, and all those who instill in our children the importance of regular exercise, and we invite all people to invest in their own wellbeing by finding a way to be active each day.
Physical fitness is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can produce long-term health benefits; it can help prevent chronic diseases, combat obesity, relieve stress, and increase the chances of living longer. By making physical activity part of your daily routine -- at least 30 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for children -- you can put yourself on the path to better physical and mental health.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, which has helped increase opportunities for physical activity and inspire Americans of all ages to lead healthy, active lives. To celebrate, the First Lady is challenging everyone to #GimmeFive things they are doing to eat better, be more active, and live more healthfully. To join the fun and find new ways to stay fit, challenge your family, friends, and colleagues to #GimmeFive this month.
Communities all across our country have embraced my Administration's national call to action and encouraged each other to stay active and make smart life choices. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is also promoting physical activity to ensure all Americans have the chances they deserve to lead healthy lives. Their I Can Do It, You Can Do It! program is working to empower Americans with disabilities and make certain they have equal opportunities to participate in regular physical activity in their schools and communities. And the Go4Life campaign is helping older Americans, including those with chronic conditions, to be active every day.
By making daily healthy choices, all Americans can strengthen their bodies and minds and build a foundation that supports their greatest aspirations. This month, let us encourage one another to get involved in sports and fitness activities and together, forge a healthier future for ourselves, our loved ones, and our Nation. To learn how you can get involved, visit www.LetsMove.gov and www.Fitness.gov.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. I call upon the people of the United States to make daily physical activity, sports participation, and good nutrition a priority in their lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
This year, approximately one in five American adults -- our friends, colleagues, and loved ones -- will experience a diagnosable mental health condition like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress, and many others will be troubled by significant emotional and psychological distress, especially in times of difficulty. For most of these people, treatment can be effective and recovery is possible. Yet today, millions of Americans still do not receive the care they need. This month, we stand with those who live with mental illness, and we recommit to ensuring all Americans have access to quality, affordable care.
In the past decade, our Nation has made extraordinary progress in recognizing severe psychological distress and diagnosing and treating mental illness, and my Administration is committed to building on that success. The Affordable Care Act extends mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to over 60 million Americans. Protections under the law also prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions like a diagnosis of mental illness and require most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays, including behavioral assessments for children and depression screenings. As part of the BRAIN Initiative, we are funding innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of conditions that affect the brain, such as mental health disorders, and to improve the lives of all who live with them. And we continue to invest in community health centers, enabling them to expand access to mental health services where they are needed most.
As Americans, we have a sacred obligation to provide those who suffer from the invisible wounds of war with the support they have earned. Earlier this year, I was proud to sign the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which authorized additional steps to address mental health and prevent suicide among veterans. This law will build on my Administration's ongoing work to bolster mental health services for service members, veterans, and their families. We recently established a new policy that will ensure the continuity of mental health medications during service members' transitions to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and we took action to make certain those receiving mental health care are connected to mental health professionals as they transition to the VA or a community provider. My Administration has also worked to increase the number of counselors available to our veterans and to expand the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line.
Despite how common it is to experience severe psychological distress, substance use problems, and mental illness, there is still considerable stigma associated with mental health treatment. This month, we must bring mental illness out of the shadows and encourage treatment for those who might benefit; it is our shared responsibility to recognize the signs of psychological and emotional distress and to support those in need. We must strive to remove the stigma around mental illness and its treatment, overcome fear and misunderstanding, and make sure all those dealing with a mental health issue know they are not alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness -- taking action to help yourself is a sign of strength. If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance, call 1-800-662-HELP. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also offers immediate assistance for all Americans, including service members and veterans, at 1-800-273-TALK.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as National Mental Health Awareness Month. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise mental health awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- Older Americans Month, 2015
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:45
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
OLDER AMERICANS MONTH, 2015
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
In America, every person who is willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to build a life of opportunity and prosperity. We learned this simple truth from our oldest generation -- the women and men who relentlessly pursued progress throughout the 20th century. Drivers of enormous change, they have enriched our Nation and bravely defended the values we cherish; they have broken down barriers and blazed pathways for all who followed; and they have raised us all and endowed us with a freer, fairer, more equal world.
After a lifetime of contributions, they have earned our care and respect, and they deserve to live out their years with dignity and independence. Our Nation is strongest when older Americans live comfortably in their golden years and have the opportunity to continue to contribute to the fabric of the country and society they helped to shape. This month, we celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifices of our elders, and we reaffirm our belief that the promise of our Nation extends to Americans of all ages.
The United States is entering a new era, and the face of our Nation is growing older and more diverse. For the next 15 years, thousands of Americans will reach retirement age every day, and by 2030, there will be more than twice as many older Americans as there were at the beginning of this century. This growing population is a tremendous national asset. By changing the way we think and talk about aging -- by focusing on the opportunities of aging rather than the limitations -- we can work to maximize the potential of this generation and ensure they continue to thrive as they age.
To address the changing landscape of aging and advance policies that help older Americans pursue their fullest measure of happiness, this summer my Administration will host the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. By connecting older Americans, their families, caregivers, advocates, community leaders, and experts, the Conference is an important chance to continue our efforts to safeguard retirement security, promote healthy aging, provide long-term services and support, and protect older Americans from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. For decades, these landmark achievements have stood as pillars of economic opportunity for millions of Americans and reflected the promise we make to our seniors. As President, I have worked tirelessly to strengthen these programs. Throughout the last half-century, the Older Americans Act has empowered older Americans by upholding their rights and supporting social and nutrition services, as well as a nationwide network of employment, training, and research programs. These vital services help millions of seniors across our Nation. I am also proud of the progress we have made during my Administration to improve Medicare, which provides essential health care and security for older Americans. And I am committed to further strengthening Medicare by bolstering access to care for beneficiaries, encouraging better outcomes, and improving long-term sustainability.
Social Security is one of the most important and successful programs ever established in the United States, and we must make certain it is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. I am fighting to ensure any reforms will protect retirement security for the most vulnerable, including low-income seniors, and maintain the robust disability and survivors' benefits that help families after they have paid into the system. To build on this legacy, I started the myRA program, a new type of savings account that provides additional pathways for Americans to build their nest egg, and I have called for new rules to require financial advisors to put their clients' interests before their own -- ensuring all who responsibly prepare for retirement receive the best advice possible.
Our elders forged a bright future for all our Nation's children, and they deserve the best America has to offer. As heirs to their proud legacy, we must reach for the world they have made possible. During Older Americans Month, we lift up all those whose life's work has made ours a little easier, and we recommit to showing them the fullest care, support, and respect of a grateful Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2015 as Older Americans Month. I call upon all Americans of all ages to acknowledge the contributions of older Americans during this month and throughout the year.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
BARACK OBAMA
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Theodore Kasczinski "Industrial Society and Its Future"
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''718, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1718^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
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Baltimore
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Signs deconstruction
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Neighborhood Service Center 7 in Baltimore | Neighborhood Service Center 7 904 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230 Yahoo - US Local
Sat, 02 May 2015 22:17
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0 reviews on Yahoo
904 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD21230Cross Streets: Between Callender St and S Poppleton StNeighborhoods: Washington Village(410) 396-1738baltimorecity.gov
KEYS Development Inc. DBA
dba COR Health Institute
Tax ID: 83 - 0343052
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904 Washington Blvd Baltimore, MD 21230
[PDF]Community Bulletin: - Historic Pigtownwww.historicpigtown.com/resources/FebMaNewsletter08.pdfWashington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council 904 Washington Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21230 (410) 385-8494. Community Bulletin: Neighborhood ...Wpnpc Baltimore, MD, 21230 - YP.comwww.yellowpages.com/baltimore-md/.../wpnpc-20088...Get reviews, hours, directions, coupons and more for Wpnpc at 904 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD. Search for other Social Service Organizations in Baltimore ...
Nonprofit Report for KEYS DEVELOPMENT INC
Sat, 02 May 2015 22:04
Basic Organization InformationKEYS DEVELOPMENT INCPhysical Address:Baltimore, MD 21230 EIN:83-0343052NTEE Category:O Youth DevelopmentO30 (Adult, Child Matching Programs)Ruling Year:2003 Sign in or create an account to see this organization's full address, contact information, and more!
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O'Malley Deconstruction
Honorable TBPITU Hosts,
As NA Producers living in the Baltimore area, we think that your analysis of getting slaves to vote Democrat is just a small portion of the unrest. The bigger issue is keeping Martin O'Malley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_O%27Malley) out of the presidential race.
He just left MD Governorship (of 8 years) in January of this year. Prior to that he was 8 year Mayor of Baltimore.
See:
"The political landscape to which he returned seemed changed and more treacherous. Before the riots, O’Malley was widely considered the only credible challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, even if voters didn’t yet seem aware of him. (Barack Obama joked at last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, with O’Malley in attendance, that O’Malley had begun his campaign by going unrecognized at his own rally.)"
And:
"It could have been a breakthrough moment for former Governor Martin O’Malley. A former mayor/governor/turned potential presidential contender cuts short a series of paid speeches in Europe to return to the still-smoldering city he once governed and where he still lives."
Anonymous in Odenton
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Judge billy hates O'Malley-2006
Sun, 03 May 2015 05:19
Will Martin O'Malley Pull a Kathleen Kennedy Townsend?
"The slugfest for governor of Maryland will end on Nov. 7, 2006. It pits Dubya's loyalist, Robert Ehrlich, the incumbent, against the challenger, Baltimore's Mayor, Marty ''Short Fuse'' O'Malley. Democrats out register Republicans in the state by a 3 to 1 margin. O'Malley's Rudy Giuliani-like persona, however, has outraged some in the Black community. Don't blame me for what happens. I'm voting for the Green Party's Eddie Boyd."
''Cassius has a lean and hungry look.''
-- William Shakespeare
Baltimore, Maryland - This state is in the midst of the roughest, toughest and dirtiest political gubernatorial campaigns in modern history. And, guess what? It makes for great theatre, too! Millions of bucks are pouring into the coffers of the two major candidates from the special interests. In one corner is the incumbent, Robert Ehrlich, a Republican and loyal Dubya devotee. A former member of the U.S. Congress, Ehrlich learned his politics on Capitol Hill at the knee of a take-no-prisoners' politico--Newt Gingrich. Yes, the same man, who before he became House Speaker, regularly drove the then-Speaker, Thomas ''Tip'' O'Neill, into serial hizzy fits.
O'Malley, meanwhile, earned his stripes in a Baltimore City, still dominated, partly, by clubhouses, ward bosses and the Old Boy-Ohs' Political Machine. After failing early on in a bid for the state senate, O'Malley eventually captured a City Council seat, from Northeast Baltimore. He then used that position to catapult himself seven years ago into the office of Mayor. It didn't hurt his career that he married the daughter of Joe Curran, the state's aging and soon retiring Attorney General. But, there's the rub, as the Bard would say. That connection, the Curran connection, may now have a downside for the politically zealous O'Malley.
In the 2002 governor race, Ehrlich trounced the Democratic nominee, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend by over 66,000 votes, about 52 to 48 percent. At the time, she was the Lt. Gov. of the state but that didn't help her much. Despite the fact that Democrats also out registered Republicans in Maryland by a 3 to 1 margin, Ehrlich became the first Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew. [1] Townsend was seen as too aloof by some of her base, and too fickle by others, and obviously, the independent voters didn't like her very much either. Was she really a Democrat, a few still to this day, wonder? In any event, Ehrlich is a brawler. He likes hammering an opponent into the ground. O'Malley is no Townsend, but he's vulnerable on a lot of counts that go beyond the much-criticized lowly status of the school system in Baltimore. [2] And, maybe the biggest count of all against him, is--O'Malley himself!
Enter Billy Murphy, a life long Democrat. He's a well known criminal trial lawyer in Baltimore. Murphy comes from one of the city's most prominent Afro-American families. He has also been a judge, like his late father before him. Murphy is now really mad at O'Malley! In fact, he's so mad, he doing a radio ad for Ehrlich attacking O'Malley. The ad stings a lot. It has been running continuously in Baltimore City and in Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. These are the two most heavily populated jurisdictions with Black majorities in Maryland. Blacks make up about 29 percent of the electorate in the state, but there are concerns that many will stay home on Nov. 7th. [3]
In the radio ad, Murphy accuses the city administration of arresting ''thousands of blacks--without ever charging them with a crime.'' He also blasts O'Malley with having ''seven police commissioners in seven years'' and insists ''morale is down'' in the police department. According to the Baltimore Sun, Murphy earned more than $100,000 in a no bid contract with the Maryland Stadium Authority back in 2004. That deal was criticized by Curran. He said the agency had ''exceeded its authority.'' Both O'Malley and the present Police Commissioner, Leonard D. Hamm, have denied Murphy's claims. Nevertheless, his kind of criticism will temper support for O'Malley in the black communities of the state. [4] Murphy also said that O'Malley has a ''history of insulting distractors, such as City State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy.'' [5] That incident happened a few years back when O'Malley, on camera, raged at the highly respected state's attorney, an African-American. Many Court House insiders consider Jessamy to be the best state's attorney, since the days of Charles E. Moylan, Jr. (1964-70). I'm sure video clips of that ugly episode between her and O'Malley will surface in the last weeks of this campaign.
I've always suspected that O'Malley's support in the Black community in Baltimore doesn't run deep. And, if push comes to shove, that shallowness will show up, like it is now in this election year. Recently, published reports have echoed Murphy's lament that black voters are ''disillusioned'' with the state's Democratic Party and with O'Malley. [6] At press time, O'Malley has a six percent lead in the polls, but that means little or nothing in a volatile election battle. His disrespecting Jessamy, in public, left deep, painful and unhealed wounds in the Black community, and with women, too. O'Malley's law and order persona has also turned a lot of Whites off. It reminds them of NYC's ex-Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, an uber-ambitious man, who didn't hesitate to trample on the civil liberties of citizens to get ahead in the political arena.
Then, there is this encounter, which I present for only anecdotal purposes. A few weeks ago, I was shopping down at the Cross St. Market, in South Baltimore, and ran into a man, who I once knew from the Stonewall Democratic Club. We started talking about politics. He said he didn't want his name used in any story for fear of reprisal. Then, he told me he couldn't vote for O'Malley. This is a life long Democrat, a strong Union man and of Irish descent to boot. I was stunned. I asked him why? He said: ''It's just an instinct thing with me. There is something about O'Malley that I don't trust. I've seen it before in other politicians. He's bright and a hard worker, but I think he would step over anybody to get ahead.'' Wow! If O'Malley can't count on that kind of traditional Democratic voter, who can he really count on?
On top of all of the above is--Peter Angelos! He's the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, another habitual Democrat and a former City Councilman from Baltimore, whose spirited advocacy at the Council's meetings in the early 60s, is still fresh in my memory. Angelos is supporting Ehrlich, too. Why? Well, I can only speculate. Angelos had a chance to pick up the mother of all legal fees for representing the state of Maryland in a law suit against the Tobacco Industry. After the case was resolved, without a trial, Curran objected to the size of the fee. Angelos got upset, since there had been a prior fee agreement covering the matter. Eventually, the size of the legal fee was cut substantially. [7] Angelos, of Greek heritage, didn't get to be a multimillionaire by acting like St. Francis of Assisi. He knows how to protect his turf and, if necessary, strike back. Angelos just had a fund raiser for Ehrlich in which he reportedly raised a quarter of million dollars. I'm sure there will be more fundraising like that in this last month. [8] Oh, I almost forgot, Angelos also got seriously annoyed directly with O'Malley, when the Mayor publicly announced that he favored a major league baseball team returning to Washington, D.C. It wasn't long after that comment that the Nationals took the field in the Capitol, cutting into the fan market in that area, that Angelos' Orioles once had exclusively for themselves. [9]
Finally, Ehrlich upset Townsend in 2002. He could do the same to O'Malley in 2006. The race is O'Malley's to lose. I say a plague on both of their Parties--and to the Duopoly that they represent. I'm voting for the Green Party's nominee, Eddie Boyd on Nov. 7th for governor. [10] Late on the evening of Nov. 7, 2006, either Ehrlich or O'Malley is going to be crying in their beer over what could have been. Don't be surprised, if it's O'Malley doing the weeping!
Notes:
[1]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiro_AgnewMost people, understandably, have a negative reaction to the mere mention of the name--Spiro T. Agnew. I don't. Maybe, it's because when he was an adjunct professor at the U. of Baltimore's School of Law in 1962, he gave me an ''A'' in Torts!
[2]. http://www.mabe.org/Monitor.August.2006.htm andhttp://www.gazette.net/stories/081905/poliMaciss_31871.shtml andhttp://www.stmarystoday.com/Duncan%20attack%20on%20OMalley.htm andhttp://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,210508,00.html
[3]. ''Md. Democrats' Biggest Worry: Will the Black Voters Show Up?,'' Andrew R. Green, 10/01/06, Baltimore Sun.
[4]. ''Ehrlich Ad Slams Arrests,'' Doug Donovan, 09/28/06, Baltimore Sun and ''Hamm Highly Critical of Ehrlich Ad,'' Doug Donovan, 09/28/06, Baltimore Sun.
[5]. ''Attorney Compared Police Tactics to Hitler's,'' Len Lazarick, 09/29/06, Baltimore Examiner.
[6]. ''Ticket Worries Black Senators,'' Doug Donovan, 10/05/06, Baltimore Sun.
[7]. http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2002/1210b02.htm
[8]. Peter Angelos has come a long way from Darley Ave and Hartford Rd, near Clifton Park, in Baltimore, where his parents once had a popular restaurant. He's made some enemies along the way. On balance, however, I think he's a big asset for the city and the state and the Greek-American community is rightly proud of him. Angelos deserves his success. He worked hard for it.
[9]. ''Baseball's Political Box Score,'' Blair Lee, 10/01/04, Gazette.net
[10]. http://www.baltimoregreens.org/boyd0216.php
Judge William ''Billy'' Murphy, Jr. | Flex Your Rights
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:56
When the Governor of Maryland sought an attorney to serve on the Judicial Appointments Committee, Governor Ehrlich called Judge Billy Murphy ''an attorney who has won more cases in front of more judges in Maryland'' a man respected and known across the state for his legal acuity and expertise inside and out of the courtroom. A member of the Board of Governors of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association and the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the recipient of the inaugural Charles Hamilton Houston Award for Lifetime Achievement in Litigation, the Firm's founder and senior partner, Judge William H. ''Billy'' Murphy, Jr., graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1965 and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1969 where he was a member of the Law Review.
He has practiced law for over thirty years, including three years as a judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the highest level Maryland trial court. Judge Murphy has tried numerous high-profile criminal and civil cases including some of the most celebrated criminal and civil cases in Maryland history. Making history comes naturally to Judge Murphy, as he comes from one of the most distinguished African-American families in the country. His father, William H. Murphy, Sr., was one of the first African-American judges in Maryland. His great-grandfather, founded the Afro-American Newspaper. His sister, Laura Murphy, is a top lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union and heads their Washington D.C. office.
In 1998, Judge Murphy successfully defended fight promoter Don King and Don King Productions, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in United States v. Don King and Don King Productions, Inc.; and he currently represents Mr. King and his corporation in other matters, including Mike Tyson v. Don King and Don King Productions, a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A member of the team of lawyers which sued Ernst and Young in Devan v. Ernst and Young in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 1998, Judge Murphy obtained from them a settlement of $185 million dollars last year, the largest single-defendant settlement in Maryland history. He has obtained multi-million dollar results in complex civil cases and has been recognized in numerous publications as one of the best litigators in the history of Maryland.
Judge Murphy has handled cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, the state and federal courts of the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia, and in the United Kingdom.
Immediately after graduation from law school, he served as law clerk for Robert C. Murphy, the Chief Judge of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the state's mid-level appellate court (Judge Murphy, who is no relation, retired in 1997 as the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the state's highest appellate court).
He successfully ran for judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 1980, unseating an incumbent after ten years of successful practice. That year, Baltimore Magazine profiled him as one of the top five lawyers in the state. When he resigned from the Circuit Court in 1983, the Baltimore Sun wrote that he had the best win-loss record of any criminal lawyer in Baltimore and observed that his peers considered him to be ''extraordinarily gifted'' and ''one of the best defense attorneys of his time.''
Warfield's Magazine, a Baltimore business publication, profiled him in a cover story and said:''Murphy has pulled off more than a few courtroom miracles. That reputation has made him one of the most sought-after defense attorneys in Maryland. * * *
''There are many, including seasoned prosecutors and judges, who see Murphy as a shining example of what a defense lawyer should be: a tireless advocate who fights to the death for his clients. A Maryland federal judge speaks without hesitation of his integrity'...
''He's the kind of guy you see much too little of in the legal profession in this day and age,' says Joseph Murphy, a former defense lawyer who now is a Baltimore County judge (Judge Murphy, who also is not related, is now the Chief Judge of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland). 'He's someone who can fight as hard as the battle can be fought in the courtroom and then turn it off and not carry a grudge into the next case. My personal experience is very favorable compared to other lawyers I've opposed over the years or seen in my courtroom.'
''As for his theatrics, Billy Murphy makes no apologies. 'I look at it this way,' he explains. 'A trial lawyer who isn't able to use the full spectrum of techniques has arbitrarily limited himself. If a trial judge pushes you, you've got to push back. I used to say that my client is a child of God and everybody else is a son of a bitch.'''
In 1996, Judge Murphy was again named by Baltimore Magazine as one of the top ten criminal lawyers in Maryland. In 1997, The magazine rated him one of the 25 smartest people in Baltimore and in 1998, he was named one of the top four criminal lawyers in Maryland. For the last fifteen years he has had an AV-rating with Martindale-Hubbell. In describing Judge Murphy, Baltimore Magazine said:
''When we set out to find Baltimore's smartest people, we were looking for the kind of smart that turns us on: passionate, smart, sexy smart-what we like to call drop dead brilliant.''In particular, what they said about him is as follows:
''Lawyer Billy Murphy is scary-smart. Like, that thing you learned today? He probable already knows it.
''The defense attorney also knows every trick in the book'... But it's Murphy's mental agility that makes him the master defender.
'''You're formulating your defense and reformulating it, even as the trial takes place,' the Mt. Vernon resident said a few years ago. 'You've got to be nimble enough not to be wedded to one point of attack.' An M.I.T. engineering grad, Murphy wired his practice years ago so that he could check precedents, draft motions, and send e-mail while in court.
''Murphy would have made a brilliant engineer''he sped through Poly high school with straight 100'²s in physics, chemistry, and calculus. But his most difficult career choice was not between law and engineering. It was between law and his true love, jazz. 'When I passed the bar, my first reaction was elation,' Murphy recalled. 'And then I said, 'S''t. This means I probably can't be a musician.'
''But Murphy seems to have reconciled himself to the legal life. Maybe his practice of yoga smoothed the way. 'It's an extension of my Christian beliefs,' Murphy said. 'If God is like the pinnacle of the mountaintop, each religion can be viewed as a different road up the same mountain. Intelligent people look for the fastest way to get to the top of the mountain.''
Jason Downs - Murphy, Falcon & Murphy
Sun, 03 May 2015 05:36
Role at Murphy, Falcon & MurphyMr. Downs is an associate attorney at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, where he handles both criminal defense and civil litigation cases. Mr. Downs participates in all phases of litigation and serves as lead-counsel or co-counsel on a variety of complex matters involving allegations of fraud, conspiracy, and civil forfeiture, to name a few.
Legal ApproachIn the courtroom, Mr. Downs is known as a thorough, tough, aggressive attorney who leaves no stone unturned in ensuring his clients' rights are protected. But working with his clients, he is known for his compassionate and caring approach, and has a reputation for going above and beyond a client's expectations.
Career HighlightsMr. Downs honed his trial skills at the same agency former United States Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledges is ''the best public defender's office in the country.'' In his nearly decade-long work with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (''PDS''), Mr. Downs was lead counsel on 26 major jury trials against federal prosecutors, with an astounding record of success. Specifically, Mr. Downs' success rate in felony jury trials was 282% higher than the Superior Court average. Despite many courtroom victories in high-profile matters involving testimony from a variety of witnesses, including FBI analysts, scientific experts, and civilian witnesses, Mr. Downs is most proud of his final trial with PDS. There, Mr. Downs successfully represented his client against well-regarded federal prosecutors effectively arguing nuanced forensic testimony and complex matters involving conspiracy law. After rapidly amassing an impressive portfolio of success, he was promoted to Training Director, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in PDS's storied history to hold the position. As Training Director, Mr. Downs was responsible for ensuring approximately 200 PDS attorneys and private attorneys on the Criminal Justice Act Panel received up-to-date litigation training on novel trends in expert testimony, trial techniques, and substantive law.
Early YearsGrowing up in Baltimore, Mr. Downs developed a passion for justice early in life. Seeing his contemporaries be negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, he decided to become an attorney to serve his community. He dedicated himself to learning about the law and protecting the rights of the accused'--which led him first to law school, and then to PDS.
EducationMr. Downs graduated magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore with a bachelor's degree, and earned a juris doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law where he was inducted into the Order of Barristers for excellence in trial advocacy. During law school, Mr. Downs was a member of the Trial Team, winning the national championship his final year. Mr. Downs was also a recipient of the Excellence in Litigation Award sponsored by the Center for Forensic Economic Studies.
FamilyMr. Downs is married and currently lives in Washington, D.C.
Et CeteraMr. Downs is a frequent lecturer on litigation techniques. He has conducted lectures regarding trial lawyering for several institutions including the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and Georgetown Law Center.
When Mr. Downs is not actively litigating or teaching trial lawyers, he practices martial arts. He holds a black belt in Chung Do Kwan, and has successfully competed in various martial arts competitions.
Firm News
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The changing context of who gets called a 'thug' in America - The Washington Post
Fri, 01 May 2015 04:02
As violence flared up in pockets of Baltimore on Monday, the city's mayor had some strong words for those participating in the riots. ''Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who in a very senseless way are trying to tear down what so many have fought for,'' Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters.
One word in particular stuck out: ''Thugs.''
It was a word that Rawlings-Blake later said she regretted using.
''We don't have thugs in Baltimore,'' the mayor said at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in West Baltimore on Tuesday. ''Sometimes, my own little anger translator gets the best of me.''
The word ''thug'' spiked on Merriam-Webster's Web site overnight, as lexicographer Kory Stamper noted on Twitter. Some others, said her colleague Peter Sokolowski, were ''racism,'' ''bigot,'' ''violence,'' ''riot'' and ''martial law.''
[After a night of rioting in Baltimore, fear of violence leads to closures]
Currently, Merriam-Webster defines ''thug'' as ''a brutal ruffian or assassin.''
Stamper also tweeted that ''thug,'' as a word, has shifted in application and was once used to refer to ''hired goons sent in by the powerful to break up protests, union rallies,'' and the like.
We asked her to elaborate.
'' 'Thug' has, in some sense, always been used to paint people as lawless, violent, corrupt (regardless of whether they were or not),'' Stamper wrote in an e-mail to The Post.
The word's first English use came in about 1810, derived from a Hindi & Urdu word meaning ''thief.''
Merriam-Webster's senior etymologist James Rader wrote in a blog post last year that the earliest English uses stem from a ''vigorous'' British campaign ''against bands of highway robbers known as thugs. . . . The thugs were supposedly members of a centuries old hereditary criminal cast who befriended travelers and after winning their trust strangled them and plundered their goods.''
Even belonging to a group of thugs, Rader wrote, became punishable by a lifetime in jail under an ''extraordinary legal measure'' used to target the groups. Those thugs who were captured could turn in others in exchange for a reduced sentence.
''Thuggee'' stories soon became the subject of popular rumor, epitomized by 1839's ''Confessions of a Thug.'' Rader largely credits that book with popularizing the idea that a ''thug'' was ''any brutal ruffian,'' detaching the word from its original, specific context. And that context was itself ''largely a product of British imagination,'' Rader notes.
(The early British and American history of the word was also traced in a Gawker essay published shortly after people began to protest the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions.)
''Thug'' went in a slightly different direction in the United States, Stamper says. In the 1900s, ''thug'' meant ''someone who was a habitual criminal.'' In the 1930s, it meant a ''gangster.''
Eventually, ''thug'' became the flag tied at the center of a tug-of-war between burgeoning American unions and the people who wanted to stop them.
''The unionization of American labor seemed to be a haven for ''thug'' use, where the word was used almost entirely of violent agitators, for goons hired to break unionizers and unionizers themselves,'' Stamper wrote.''This isn't that surprising: It was the age of sensationalism in journalism, and 'thug,' with its criminal overtones, was a great smear for both sides.''
Chicago was more or less the epicenter of ''thug'' as a union battle slur. Stamper points to a couple of examples: ''In 1889, 'thugs' broke up another meeting of car-men, who were discussing their dissatisfaction with the Chicago political machine (according to the Tribune).''
''Thug'' became a union tool in a headline from the front page of the May 17, 1890, edition of the Chicago Tribune:
(Chicago Tribune)
Stamper goes on:
''From that point on, 'tough' and 'thug' were the favored smears used for anyone who disrupted union meetings or a workday. Unionizers seem to have been branded with 'thug' more often than those hired to bust unions were. That trend changed as unionization became more common: by the teens, 'thug' was used as often of people hired by employers to break strikes or target union leaders as it was of union sympathizers. As union struggles died down, so too did use of 'thug' in this way.''
As this second context for the word faded, ''thug'' popped up elsewhere, before settling into the context in which the word is used today. Anti-war protesters during Vietnam were ''thugs.'' So were civil rights protesters in the 1960s and '70s. Anti-nuclear protesters were ''thugs'' in the two decades after that, Stamper notes.
[A political test for a mayor '-- and a new governor]
The word kept shifting contexts. Rapper Tupac Shakur celebrated ''Thug Life'' with a stomach tattoo and side project.
Per Gawker:
In the 1990s, there was something of a thug renaissance. The maligned and marginalized gay-rights movement had begun to reassert itself and claim queerness as a positive attribute, and many black men similarly responded to their demonization by finding solidarity in the old negative labels. Nobody typified or explained this celebration of ''thug life'' better than Tupac.
The aim was ''to reclaim and transform the meaning of words in order to evade the surveillance of nonblack onlookers or to affirm self-worth,'' Wellesley College professor Michael Jeffries writes in his survey of hip-hop semiotics and politics, Thug Life.
Just as the N-word was reclaimed and recast, Jeffries wrote, according to Gawker, ''rap acts since the mid-1990s have embraced the word thug as an unapologetic affirmation of their experiences as black men . . . insulted by mainstream America.''
But that reclaiming has always been partial. As when applied to Baltimore now, by the city's own mayor, ''thug'' remains a charged word.
''Though it's a charged word, it's not surprising to see 'thug' show up in commentary on protesters today,'' Stamper writes. ''It has a long history of such use.''
More reading:
What you really need to know about Baltimore, from a reporter who's lived there for over 30 years
A Freddie Gray primer: Who was he, how did he die, why is there so much anger?
Obama urges country to do 'soul searching' in wake of Baltimore riots
Abby Ohlheiser is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.
Continue reading
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David Simon on Baltimore's Anguish | The Marshall Project
Sat, 02 May 2015 18:09
David Simon is Baltimore's best-known chronicler of life on the hard streets. He worked for The Baltimore Sun city desk for a dozen years, wrote ''Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets'' (1991) and with former homicide detective Ed Burns co-wrote ''The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood''1 (1997), which Simon adapted into an HBO miniseries. He is the creator, executive producer and head writer of the HBO television series ''The Wire'' (2002''2008). Simon is a member of The Marshall Project's advisory board. He spoke with Bill Keller on Tuesday.
BK: What do people outside the city need to understand about what's going on there '-- the death of Freddie Gray and the response to it?
DS: I guess there's an awful lot to understand and I'm not sure I understand all of it. The part that seems systemic and connected is that the drug war '-- which Baltimore waged as aggressively as any American city '-- was transforming in terms of police/community relations, in terms of trust, particularly between the black community and the police department. Probable cause was destroyed by the drug war. It happened in stages, but even in the time that I was a police reporter, which would have been the early 80s to the early 90s, the need for police officers to address the basic rights of the people they were policing in Baltimore was minimized. It was done almost as a plan by the local government, by police commissioners and mayors, and it not only made everybody in these poor communities vulnerable to the most arbitrary behavior on the part of the police officers, it taught police officers how not to distinguish in ways that they once did.
Probable cause from a Baltimore police officer has always been a tenuous thing. It's a tenuous thing anywhere, but in Baltimore, in these high crime, heavily policed areas, it was even worse. When I came on, there were jokes about, ''You know what probable cause is on Edmondson Avenue? You roll by in your radio car and the guy looks at you for two seconds too long.'' Probable cause was whatever you thought you could safely lie about when you got into district court.
Then at some point when cocaine hit and the city lost control of a lot of corners and the violence was ratcheted up, there was a real panic on the part of the government. And they basically decided that even that loose idea of what the Fourth Amendment was supposed to mean on a street level, even that was too much. Now all bets were off. Now you didn't even need probable cause. The city council actually passed an ordinance that declared a certain amount of real estate to be drug-free zones. They literally declared maybe a quarter to a third of inner city Baltimore off-limits to its residents, and said that if you were loitering in those areas you were subject to arrest and search. Think about that for a moment: It was a permission for the police to become truly random and arbitrary and to clear streets any way they damn well wanted.
How does race figure into this? It's a city with a black majority and now a black mayor and black police chief, a substantially black police force.
What did Tom Wolfe write about cops? They all become Irish? That's a line in ''Bonfire of the Vanities.'' When Ed and I reported ''The Corner,'' it became clear that the most brutal cops in our sector of the Western District were black. The guys who would really kick your ass without thinking twice were black officers. If I had to guess and put a name on it, I'd say that at some point, the drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism. I think the two agendas are inextricably linked, and where one picks up and the other ends is hard to say. But when you have African-American officers beating the dog-piss out of people they're supposed to be policing, and there isn't a white guy in the equation on a street level, it's pretty remarkable. But in some ways they were empowered. Back then, even before the advent of cell phones and digital cameras '-- which have been transforming in terms of documenting police violence '-- back then, you were much more vulnerable if you were white and you wanted to wail on somebody. You take out your nightstick and you're white and you start hitting somebody, it has a completely different dynamic than if you were a black officer. It was simply safer to be brutal if you were black, and I didn't know quite what to do with that fact other than report it. It was as disturbing a dynamic as I could imagine. Something had been removed from the equation that gave white officers '-- however brutal they wanted to be, or however brutal they thought the moment required '-- it gave them pause before pulling out a nightstick and going at it. Some African American officers seemed to feel no such pause.
What the drug war did, though, was make this all a function of social control. This was simply about keeping the poor down, and that war footing has been an excuse for everybody to operate outside the realm of procedure and law. And the city willingly and legally gave itself over to that, beginning with the drug-free zones and with the misuse of what are known on the street in the previous generation as 'humbles.' A humble is a cheap, inconsequential arrest that nonetheless gives the guy a night or two in jail before he sees a court commissioner. You can arrest people on ''failure to obey,'' it's a humble. Loitering is a humble. These things were used by police officers going back to the '60s in Baltimore. It's the ultimate recourse for a cop who doesn't like somebody who's looking at him the wrong way. And yet, back in the day, there was, I think, more of a code to it. If you were on a corner, you knew certain things would catch you a humble. The code was really ornate, and I'm not suggesting in any way that the code was always justifiable in any sense, but there was a code.
In some districts, if you called a Baltimore cop a motherfucker in the 80s and even earlier, that was not generally a reason to go to jail. If the cop came up to clear your corner and you're moving off the corner, and out of the side of your mouth you call him a motherfucker, you're not necessarily going to jail if that cop knows his business and played according to code. Everyone gets called a motherfucker, that's within the realm of general complaint. But the word ''asshole'' '-- that's how ornate the code was '-- asshole had a personal connotation. You call a cop an asshole, you're going hard into the wagon in Baltimore. At least it used to be that way. Who knows if those gradations or nuances have survived the cumulative brutalities of the drug war. I actually don't know if anything resembling a code even exists now.
For example, you look at the people that Baltimore was beating down in that list in that story the Sun published last year2 about municipal payouts for police brutality, and it shows no discernable or coherent pattern. There's no code at all, it's just, what side of the bed did I get up on this morning and who looked at me first? And that is a function of people failing to learn how to police. When you are beating on 15-year-old kids and elderly retirees '' and you aren't even managing to put even plausible misdemeanor charges on some arrestees, you've lost all professional ethos.
The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was Martin O'Malley3. He destroyed police work in some real respects. Whatever was left of it when he took over the police department, if there were two bricks together that were the suggestion of an edifice that you could have called meaningful police work, he found a way to pull them apart. Everyone thinks I've got a hard-on for Marty because we battled over ''The Wire,'' whether it was bad for the city, whether we'd be filming it in Baltimore. But it's been years, and I mean, that's over. I shook hands with him on the train last year and we buried it. And, hey, if he's the Democratic nominee, I'm going to end up voting for him. It's not personal and I admire some of his other stances on the death penalty and gay rights. But to be honest, what happened under his watch as Baltimore's mayor was that he wanted to be governor. And at a certain point, with the crime rate high and with his promises of a reduced crime rate on the line, he put no faith in real policing.
Originally, early in his tenure, O'Malley brought Ed Norris in as commissioner and Ed knew his business. He'd been a criminal investigator and commander in New York and he knew police work. And so, for a time, real crime suppression and good retroactive investigation was emphasized, and for the Baltimore department, it was kind of like a fat man going on a diet. Just leave the French fries on the plate and you lose the first ten pounds. The initial crime reductions in Baltimore under O'Malley were legit and O'Malley deserved some credit.
But that wasn't enough. O'Malley needed to show crime reduction stats that were not only improbable, but unsustainable without manipulation. And so there were people from City Hall who walked over Norris and made it clear to the district commanders that crime was going to fall by some astonishing rates. Eventually, Norris got fed up with the interference from City Hall and walked, and then more malleable police commissioners followed, until indeed, the crime rate fell dramatically. On paper.
How? There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail '' forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form.
My own crew members [on ''The Wire''] used to get picked up trying to come from the set at night. We'd wrap at like one in the morning, and we'd be in the middle of East Baltimore and they'd start to drive home, they'd get pulled over. My first assistant director '-- Anthony Hemingway '-- ended up at city jail. No charge. Driving while black, and then trying to explain that he had every right to be where he was, and he ended up on Eager Street4. Charges were non-existent, or were dismissed en masse. Martin O'Malley's logic was pretty basic: If we clear the streets, they'll stop shooting at each other. We'll lower the murder rate because there will be no one on the corners.
The city eventually got sued by the ACLU and had to settle, but O'Malley defends the wholesale denigration of black civil rights to this day. Never mind what it did to your jury pool: now every single person of color in Baltimore knows the police will lie '-- and that's your jury pool for when you really need them for when you have, say, a felony murder case. But what it taught the police department was that they could go a step beyond the manufactured probable cause, and the drug-free zones and the humbles '' the targeting of suspects through less-than-constitutional procedure. Now, the mass arrests made clear, we can lock up anybody, we don't have to figure out who's committing crimes, we don't have to investigate anything, we just gather all the bodies '-- everybody goes to jail. And yet people were scared enough of crime in those years that O'Malley had his supporters for this policy, council members and community leaders who thought, They're all just thugs.
But they weren't. They were anybody who was slow to clear the sidewalk or who stayed seated on their front stoop for too long when an officer tried to roust them. Schoolteachers, Johns Hopkins employees, film crew people, kids, retirees, everybody went to the city jail. If you think I'm exaggerating look it up. It was an amazing performance by the city's mayor and his administration.
The situation you described has been around for a while. Do you have a sense of why the Freddie Gray death has been such a catalyst for the response we've seen in the last 48 hours?
Because the documented litany of police violence is now out in the open. There's an actual theme here that's being made evident by the digital revolution. It used to be our word against yours. It used to be said '-- correctly '-- that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street. The smartphone with its small, digital camera, is a revolution in civil liberties.
And if there's still some residual code, if there's still some attempt at precision in the street-level enforcement, then maybe you duck most of the outrage. Maybe you're just cutting the procedural corners with the known players on your post '' assuming you actually know the corner players, that you know your business as a street cop. But at some point, when there was no code, no precision, then they didn't know. Why would they? In these drug-saturated neighborhoods, they weren't policing their post anymore, they weren't policing real estate that they were protecting from crime. They weren't nurturing informants, or learning how to properly investigate anything. There's a real skill set to good police work. But no, they were just dragging the sidewalks, hunting stats, and these inner-city neighborhoods '-- which were indeed drug-saturated because that's the only industry left '-- become just hunting grounds. They weren't protecting anything. They weren't serving anyone. They were collecting bodies, treating corner folk and citizens alike as an Israeli patrol would treat the West Bank, or as the Afrikaners would have treated Soweto back in the day. They're an army of occupation. And once it's that, then everybody's the enemy. The police aren't looking to make friends, or informants, or learning how to write clean warrants or how to testify in court without perjuring themselves unnecessarily. There's no incentive to get better as investigators, as cops. There's no reason to solve crime. In the years they were behaving this way, locking up the entire world, the clearance rate for murder dove by 30 percent. The clearance rate for aggravated assault '-- every felony arrest rate '' took a significant hit. Think about that. If crime is going down, and crime is going down, and if we have less murders than ever before and we have more homicide detectives assigned, and better evidentiary technologies to employ how is the clearance rate for homicide now 48 percent when it used to be 70 percent, or 75 percent?
Because the drug war made cops lazy and less competent?
How do you reward cops? Two ways: promotion and cash. That's what rewards a cop. If you want to pay overtime pay for having police fill the jails with loitering arrests or simple drug possession or failure to yield, if you want to spend your municipal treasure rewarding that, well the cop who's going to court 7 or 8 days a month '-- and court is always overtime pay '-- you're going to damn near double your salary every month. On the other hand, the guy who actually goes to his post and investigates who's burglarizing the homes, at the end of the month maybe he's made one arrest. It may be the right arrest and one that makes his post safer, but he's going to court one day and he's out in two hours. So you fail to reward the cop who actually does police work. But worse, it's time to make new sergeants or lieutenants, and so you look at the computer and say: Who's doing the most work? And they say, man, this guy had 80 arrests last month, and this other guy's only got one. Who do you think gets made sergeant? And then who trains the next generation of cops in how not to do police work? I've just described for you the culture of the Baltimore police department amid the deluge of the drug war, where actual investigation goes unrewarded and where rounding up bodies for street dealing, drug possession, loitering such '' the easiest and most self-evident arrests a cop can make '' is nonetheless the path to enlightenment and promotion and some additional pay. That's what the drug war built, and that's what Martin O'Malley affirmed when he sent so much of inner city Baltimore into the police wagons on a regular basis.
The second thing Marty did, in order to be governor, involves the stats themselves. In the beginning, under Norris, he did get a better brand of police work and we can credit a legitimate 12 to 15 percent decline in homicides. Again, that was a restoration of an investigative deterrent in the early years of that administration. But it wasn't enough to declare a Baltimore Miracle, by any means.
What can you do? You can't artificially lower the murder rate '' how do you hide the bodies when it's the state health department that controls the medical examiner's office? But the other felony categories? Robbery, aggravated assault, rape? Christ, what they did with that stuff was jaw-dropping.
So they cooked the books.
Oh yeah. If you hit somebody with a bullet, that had to count. If they went to the hospital with a bullet in them, it probably had to count as an aggravated assault. But if someone just took a gun out and emptied the clip and didn't hit anything or they didn't know if you hit anything, suddenly that was a common assault or even an unfounded report. Armed robberies became larcenies if you only had a victim's description of a gun, but not a recovered weapon. And it only gets worse as some district commanders began to curry favor with the mayoral aides who were sitting on the Comstat data. In the Southwest District, a victim would try to make an armed robbery complaint, saying , 'I just got robbed, somebody pointed a gun at me,' and what they would do is tell him, well, okay, we can take the report but the first thing we have to do is run you through the computer to see if there's any paper on you. Wait, you're doing a warrant check on me before I can report a robbery? Oh yeah, we gotta know who you are before we take a complaint. You and everyone you're living with? What's your address again? You still want to report that robbery?
They cooked their own books in remarkable ways. Guns disappeared from reports and armed robberies became larcenies. Deadly weapons were omitted from reports and aggravated assaults became common assaults. The Baltimore Sun did a fine job looking into the dramatic drop in rapes in the city. Turned out that regardless of how insistent the victims were that they had been raped, the incidents were being quietly unfounded. That tip of the iceberg was reported, but the rest of it, no. And yet there were many veteran commanders and supervisors who were disgusted, who would privately complain about what was happening. If you weren't a journalist obliged to quote sources and instead, say, someone writing a fictional television drama, they'd share a beer and let you fill cocktail napkins with all the ways in which felonies disappeared in those years.
I mean, think about it. How does the homicide rate decline by 15 percent, while the agg assault rate falls by more than double that rate. Are all of Baltimore's felons going to gun ranges in the county? Are they becoming better shots? Have the mortality rates for serious assault victims in Baltimore, Maryland suddenly doubled? Did they suddenly close the Hopkins and University emergency rooms and return trauma care to the dark ages? It makes no sense statistically until you realize that you can't hide a murder, but you can make an attempted murder disappear in a heartbeat, no problem.
But these guys weren't satisfied with just juking their own stats. No, the O'Malley administration also went back to the last year of the previous mayoralty and performed its own retroactive assessment of those felony totals, and guess what? It was determined from this special review that the preceding administration had underreported its own crime rate, which O'Malley rectified by upgrading a good chunk of misdemeanors into felonies to fatten up the Baltimore crime rate that he was inheriting. Get it? How better than to later claim a 30 or 40 percent reduction in crime than by first juking up your inherited rate as high as she'll go. It really was that cynical an exercise.
So Martin O'Malley proclaims a Baltimore Miracle and moves to Annapolis. And tellingly, when his successor as mayor allows a new police commissioner to finally de-emphasize street sweeps and mass arrests and instead focus on gun crime, that's when the murder rate really dives. That's when violence really goes down. When a drug arrest or a street sweep is suddenly not the standard for police work, when violence itself is directly addressed, that's when Baltimore makes some progress.
But nothing corrects the legacy of a police department in which the entire rank-and-file has been rewarded and affirmed for collecting bodies, for ignoring probable cause, for grabbing anyone they see for whatever reason. And so, fast forward to Sandtown and the Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray gives some Baltimore police the legal equivalent of looking at them a second or two too long. He runs, and so when he's caught he takes an ass-kicking and then goes into the back of a wagon without so much as a nod to the Fourth Amendment.
So do you see how this ends or how it begins to turn around?
We end the drug war. I know I sound like a broken record, but we end the fucking drug war. The drug war gives everybody permission to do anything. It gives cops permission to stop anybody, to go in anyone's pockets, to manufacture any lie when they get to district court. You sit in the district court in Baltimore and you hear, 'Your Honor, he was walking out of the alley and I saw him lift up the glassine bag and tap it lightly.' No fucking dope fiend in Baltimore has ever walked out of an alley displaying a glassine bag for all the world to see. But it keeps happening over and over in the Western District court. The drug war gives everybody permission. And if it were draconian and we were fixing anything that would be one thing, but it's draconian and it's a disaster.
When you say, end the drug war, you mean basically decriminalize or stop enforcing?
Medicalize the problem, decriminalize '-- I don't need drugs to be declared legal, but if a Baltimore State's Attorney told all his assistant state's attorneys today, from this moment on, we are not signing overtime slips for court pay for possession, for simple loitering in a drug-free zone, for loitering, for failure to obey, we're not signing slips for that: Nobody gets paid for that bullshit, go out and do real police work. If that were to happen, then all at once, the standards for what constitutes a worthy arrest in Baltimore would significantly improve. Take away the actual incentive to do bad or useless police work, which is what the drug war has become.
You didn't ask me about the rough rides, or as I used to hear in the western district, ''the bounce.'' It used to be reserved '-- as I say, when there was a code to this thing, as flawed as it might have been by standards of the normative world '-- by standards of Baltimore, there was a code to when you gave the guy the bounce or the rough ride. And it was this: He fought the police. Two things get your ass kicked faster than anything: one is making a cop run. If he catches you, you're 18 years old, you've got fucking Nikes, he's got cop shoes, he's wearing a utility belt, if you fucking run and he catches you, you're gonna take some lumps. That's always been part of the code. Rodney King5 could've quoted that much of it to you.
But the other thing that gets you beat is if you fight. So the rough ride was reserved for the guys who fought the police, who basically made '-- in the cop parlance '-- assholes of themselves. And yet, you look at the sheet for poor Mr. Gray, and you look at the nature of the arrest and you look at the number of police who made the arrest, you look at the nature of what they were charging him with '-- if anything, because again there's a complete absence of probable cause '-- and you look at the fact that the guy hasn't got much propensity for serious violence according to his sheet, and you say, How did this guy get a rough ride? How did that happen? Is this really the arrest that you were supposed to make today? And then, if you were supposed to make it, was this the guy that needed an ass-kicking on the street, or beyond that, a hard ride to the lockup?
I'm talking in the vernacular of cops, not my own '-- but even in the vernacular of what cops secretly think is fair, this is bullshit, this is a horror show. There doesn't seem to be much code anymore '' not that the code was always entirely clean or valid to anyone other than street cops, and maybe the hardcore corner players, but still it was something at least.
I mean, I know there are still a good many Baltimore cops who know their jobs and do their jobs some real integrity and even precision. But if you look at why the city of Baltimore paid that $5.7 million for beating down people over the last few years, it's clear that there are way too many others for whom no code exists. Anyone and everyone was a potential ass-whipping '' even people that were never otherwise charged with any real crimes. It's astonishing.
By the standard of that long list, Freddie Gray becomes almost plausible as a victim. He was a street guy. And before he came along, there were actual working people '-- citizens, taxpayers '-- who were indistinguishable from criminal suspects in the eyes of the police who were beating them down. Again, that's a department that has a diminished capacity to actually respond to crime or investigate crime, or to even distinguish innocence or guilt. And that comes from too many officers who came up in a culture that taught them not the hard job of policing, but simply how to roam the city, jack everyone up, and call for the wagon.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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RoboCop
Bod Cameras will result in Citizen cameras being banned
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Ottomania
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Turkey returns 'genocide' motion to European Parliament - DIPLOMACY
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:49
Turkey returns 'genocide' motion to European ParliamentBRUSSELS / ANKARA
Turkey has returned to the European Parliament an April 15 motion describing the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians during World War I as genocide, as a senior EU official warned Ankara about the consequences of its reaction to statements made by countries and organizations labeling the mass killings genocide.
More:Turkey returns 'genocide' motion to European Parliament - DIPLOMACY
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MARIE IS THE SHILL-Turkish mayor posts picture calling Harf 'dumb blonde' - CNNPolitics.com
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:27
At least, that's the newest form of solidarity being espoused by U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, who posted a photo of himself with lightened hair Thursday after a Turkish official tweeted a picture that called a State Department spokeswoman a "dumb blonde."
Acting Spokeswoman Marie Harf had been targeted in a series of vitriolic tweets Wednesday by the outspoken mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, who blasted Harf in terms many view as sexist during a rant about the Obama administration's handling of the Baltimore protests.
In one of several tweets, he posted a screengrab from a Turkish online publication that included a picture of Harf and text that read "You were saying the Turkish police is using disproportionate force; where are you now, dumb blonde?"
In turn, Bass posted a picture of himself on Instagram with his hair digitally altered to appear blond. The picture was accompanied by the caption "#American diplomats: we're all blonde" in both English and Turkish.
Bass also raised Gokcek's tweets with Turkish officials, as did Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, herself a former State Department spokeswoman, according to State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke.
In his tweets, Gokcek challenged Harf to speak out about the Baltimore protests, saying it was hypocritical of her to stay silent given the State Department's criticism of Turkish police in 2013 following a violent crackdown on protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square and Gezi Park.
The protest, which began over plans to turn the park into a mall, ultimately transitioned into demonstrations against the government of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dozens were injured when police moved in to disperse the protestors using tear gas and water cannons.
In another tweet, Gokcek wrote, "Blonde girl, the government's attitude was worrying when we had Gezi, now it's 'normal' for you to have a curfew.
For her part, Harf told reporters she would not dignify the personal criticisms with a response on Wednesday, but she did address Gokcek's claims about the unrest in Baltimore.
"I would put our record here in the U.S. of openly, transparently addressing challenges when we have them here at home up against any other countries on the planet," she said, and cited President Barack Obama's comments the day before condemning both the riots and their root causes.
This is not the first time Harf has been targeted for her appearance.
Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, wrote in February that Harf's glasses are "the smartest thing about her."
Around the same time, the National Review referred to Harf and her then-colleague Jen Psaki as "the hapless PR duo" and "chuckleheaded cheerleaders."
While Harf turned down the opportunity to respond to Gokcek's characterization of her this week, she was quick to defend Psaki after Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said the former spokeswoman "looks way out of her depth" and "doesn't look like she has the gravitas for the job."
Harf took O'Reilly on via Twitter, saying ".@statedeptspox explains foreign policy w/ intelligence & class. Too bad we can't say the same about @oreillyfactor: http://bit.ly/WfVr6v"
US ambassador responds to Ankara Mayor G¶k§ek: 'We are all blonde' - POLITICS
Fri, 01 May 2015 18:18
U.S. Ambassador to
Mayor Melih G¶k§ek and U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, by posting a photo-shopped blonde haired picture of himself on Instagram.
Ambassador Bass posted the photo with the caption, ''American Diplomats: We Are All Blonde,'' referring to G¶k§ek's targeting of Harf in his tweets when criticizing the disproportionate use of police force in the Baltimore riots.''Come on blonde, answer now,'' G¶k§ek said in English in a tweet posted early April 29, including an image from the recent riots in Baltimore, as well as the photo of Marie Harf with a caption reading: ''Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?'' The image was originally published on a pro-government online news website.
Harf declined to comment on G¶k§ek's remarks in the State Department's Daily Briefing on April 29.
''I really don't think I'm going to dignify them with a response,'' she said.
Many national and international organizations had criticized Turkish police officers for using disproportionate force during the massive Gezi Park protests in 2013.
G¶k§ek, a veteran politician from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), also slammed CNN International and the Economist for the same reason in separate tweets.
'American diplomats: we are all blondes' - BBC News
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:49
'American diplomats: we are all blondes'The US Ambassador to Turkey has shared this photoshopped image of himself on Instagram
The US Ambassador to Turkey has Photoshopped his hair blond, in an escalating war of words between Turkish and US officials.
More:'American diplomats: we are all blondes' - BBC News
Turkish mayor posts picture calling Harf 'dumb blonde' - CNNPolitics.com
Sun, 03 May 2015 01:37
At least, that's the newest form of solidarity being espoused by U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, who posted a photo of himself with lightened hair Thursday after a Turkish official tweeted a picture that called a State Department spokeswoman a "dumb blonde."
Acting Spokeswoman Marie Harf had been targeted in a series of vitriolic tweets Wednesday by the outspoken mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, who blasted Harf in terms many view as sexist during a rant about the Obama administration's handling of the Baltimore protests.
In one of several tweets, he posted a screengrab from a Turkish online publication that included a picture of Harf and text that read "You were saying the Turkish police is using disproportionate force; where are you now, dumb blonde?"
In turn, Bass posted a picture of himself on Instagram with his hair digitally altered to appear blond. The picture was accompanied by the caption "#American diplomats: we're all blonde" in both English and Turkish.
Bass also raised Gokcek's tweets with Turkish officials, as did Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, herself a former State Department spokeswoman, according to State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke.
In his tweets, Gokcek challenged Harf to speak out about the Baltimore protests, saying it was hypocritical of her to stay silent given the State Department's criticism of Turkish police in 2013 following a violent crackdown on protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square and Gezi Park.
The protest, which began over plans to turn the park into a mall, ultimately transitioned into demonstrations against the government of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dozens were injured when police moved in to disperse the protestors using tear gas and water cannons.
In another tweet, Gokcek wrote, "Blonde girl, the government's attitude was worrying when we had Gezi, now it's 'normal' for you to have a curfew.
For her part, Harf told reporters she would not dignify the personal criticisms with a response on Wednesday, but she did address Gokcek's claims about the unrest in Baltimore.
"I would put our record here in the U.S. of openly, transparently addressing challenges when we have them here at home up against any other countries on the planet," she said, and cited President Barack Obama's comments the day before condemning both the riots and their root causes.
This is not the first time Harf has been targeted for her appearance.
Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, wrote in February that Harf's glasses are "the smartest thing about her."
Around the same time, the National Review referred to Harf and her then-colleague Jen Psaki as "the hapless PR duo" and "chuckleheaded cheerleaders."
While Harf turned down the opportunity to respond to Gokcek's characterization of her this week, she was quick to defend Psaki after Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said the former spokeswoman "looks way out of her depth" and "doesn't look like she has the gravitas for the job."
Harf took O'Reilly on via Twitter, saying ".@statedeptspox explains foreign policy w/ intelligence & class. Too bad we can't say the same about @oreillyfactor: http://bit.ly/WfVr6v"
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Genocide can also be slow [email]
ITM Adam,
On the last show you discussed the Armenian genocide and used a 'regular' definition for genocide. Keep in mind that the definition is more broad and applies to current problems in the Western world.
You spoke about cultural marxism before. The influx of (islamic) migrants from the Middle East/Northern Africa is part of this. It is currently called 'white genocide' that western countries are introducing replacement level immigration of these people. Simply the birth rate is enough to reduce the original population to a minority level. This proces is also genocide IF it is planned by some outside force. The question is how to define that outside force.
This agenda is certainly being promoted by the political left. They can count on votes from these immigrants and they exhibit a lot of etno-masochism, being very apologetic about the wrongdoings of the whites (which deserves a debate). In the Netherlands we even had a Turkish-Dutch deputy-minister (Albayrak) giving shape to the 'general pardon', granting illegal aliens a permanent status. Who knows who she let into the country? The experiment went well and Obama did something similar with the Mexican illegals. The measure was overcast by other news.
Legal definition of genocide
Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and]forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
Source: http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/pdf/osapg_analysis_framework.pdf
Take care, I love the show,
Sir Hendrick
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U.S. Department of State Launches "Free the Press" Campaign
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:59
The U.S. State Department will launch its third annual ''Free the Press'' campaign on Friday, April 25 at the United States Mission to the United Nations.
The Free the Press campaign is part of the Department's honoring of World Press Freedom Day on May 3. This year, the Department will profile journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The Department will direct the world's attention to their plight and call on their governments to protect and promote the universal human right to free expression.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski will launch the campaign at an April 25 event at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York by announcing the first two cases of journalists under threat. From April 28 to May 2, the Department Spokesperson will highlight emblematic cases of journalists or press outlets under threat around the world at the daily press briefing.
The cases will be profiled daily on www.HumanRights.gov.
For more information, please contact Chanan Weissman at weissmanc@state.gov or 202 647 4043.
More information on Assistant Secretary Malinowski and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is available on Twitter and Facebook. For more information on the State Department's work on democracy, human rights, and labor rights follow @State_DRL or @HumanRightsGov visit http://www.state.gov/j/drl/
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Boeing vs Airbus
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Airbus to sue in US, German spying row - BBC News
Fri, 01 May 2015 00:03
Aviation giant Airbus says it will file a criminal complaint over allegations that German intelligence helped the US carry out industrial espionage.
German media reports suggest the country's spy agency BND collected data on European firms at the behest of the US National Security Agency.
An Airbus statement quoted by AFP news agency said it was "alarmed" by the reports but did not want to speculate.
The company said it had asked for more information from the German government.
"We are aware that large companies in the sector, like ours, are targets of espionage," read the statement.
"However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion."
Leaks from a secret BND document suggest that its monitoring station at Bad Aibling checked whether European companies were breaking trade embargos after a request from the NSA.
Germany's Interior Minister has come under pressure since the revelations Airbus was named by the German press as one of the firms that was targeted. It is believed that BND eavesdropped on online, phone and other communications in order to gather information.
It is also alleged that it spied on France's presidential palace and foreign ministry, and the European Commission.
According to the reports, the agency did not target German or US officials in the surveillance, as they are protected by a BND-NSA agreement signed in 2002.
However, it has emerged that the German government knew about NSA spying on European arms businesses as early as 2008. The government found "shortcomings" in the BND's operations, German TV reports.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has denied claims of a cover-up.
Mr de Maiziere said he had no knowledge of malpractice at German intelligence agencies, but called for the internal BND report to be presented to a parliamentary committee.
Airbus to take legal action over alleged German, US spying
Fri, 01 May 2015 18:15
BERLIN (AP) '-- European aviation company Airbus said Friday it is taking legal action following reports that it was targeted by German and U.S. intelligence agencies.
The company, which makes civilian and military aircraft and is a fierce rival of U.S. manufacturer Boeing, said it will file a criminal complaint with prosecutors in Germany against "persons unknown." That's a common procedure in Germany which requires authorities to investigate.
"We are aware that as a major player in this industry we are a target for intelligence activities," the company said in a statement. "In this particular case there appears to be a reasonable suspicion of alleged industrial espionage. We are alarmed by this and have therefore asked the German government for information and we are in dialogue with them."
Airbus stressed that it was made aware of the allegations by press reports and didn't have any information of its own on the matter.
The German government has pledged to cooperate with lawmakers investigating claims that the country's foreign intelligence agency overstepped boundaries by helping the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdrop on European officials and companies.
The claims were reported in several German media over the past two weeks, including news weekly Der Spiegel, Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the mass-circulation newspaper Bild.
Der Spiegel reported Friday on its website that Germany's spy agency, known by its acronym BND, was asked to monitor the Saudi Arabian phone number of an Airbus employee tasked with applying for government export licenses.
Germany has played a key role in the surveillance of telecoms traffic in the Middle East in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. But recent German media reports suggest that the 'selectors' '-- keywords and numbers that the NSA provided so the BND could filter through vast amounts of phone and email chatter '-- included email addresses of senior French diplomats, among others.
The allegations have proved uncomfortable for the German government, which two years ago reacted angrily to reports that the NSA spied on senior German officials.
REVEALED: HOW SCHUBLE SPIED FOR THE AMERICANS, AND TOLD LIE AFTER LIE ABOUT CLUBMED'S PROBLEMS | The Slog.
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:16
Trolley geeks constantly telling me that some posts at The Slog are 'disappeared' because I don't know my publish from my delete button might be interested in a BBC piece that slipped into the public domain yesterday '' and was then picked up by several Greek websites.
The gist of it is this: The BND secret service once run by the delightfully tonto Wolfgang Sch¤uble has been routinely spying on its EU 'partners' working directly for the US National Security Agency (NSA).
The NSA regularly '' ie, daily '' supplies German agents and BND technical centres with updated lists of names, mobile numbers and IP addresses to monitor. Used under the cover of the usual ''combating the war against terrorism'' bollocks, it transpires now that the Chancellery has known the full strength of this deception for seven years'...since 2008. Equally disturbing is that there are so many EU-based companies on the lists, the espionage has involved the commercial as well as political sectors.
Sch¤uble was Federal Minister of the Interior in the First Merkel cabinet from 2005 to 2009. This was his second term as Head Spook of the Bundesrepublik, and over the years he built an unparalleled reputation for using the media as propaganda weapons. In October 2013, Sch¤uble was accused by the former Portuguese Prime Minister, Jos(C) S"crates, of regularly salting the European media with 'stories' against the government prior to the Portuguese bailout.
In August 2007 Wheelchair Wolfie told the media and the Bundestag a blatant pack of lies about the use of Trojan malware in 'suspected' computers. The man now bidding to run the eurozone Fiskalunion told Spiegel that ''such cyber spying will only be carried out in a handful of exceptional cases, and only target those suspected of planning terror attacks''.
At the time, Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar wondered in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau ''how the high-court mandated ''core privacy'' can be maintained in light of such a strategy''.The answer is of course that it couldn't be'....and hasn't been.
But the true extent of Sch¤uble's perfidious hypocrisy can only be appreciated in the context of his feigned outrage just ten months ago at the 'revelation' that America had been spying on Germany. The current top spymaster Thomas de Maiziere said there was ''disproportionate and serious political damage'' compared to the scant advantage gained by the spying. And Shifty Sch¤uble said, ''This is so stupid, it can only make you weep.'' Well, it takes one to know one: personally Wolfie, your austerity codswallop makes me want to scream, but each to his own form of frustration.
Not just people in Greece but also other EU members should pay close attention to this latest in a long line of revelations about Herr Sch¤uble. He is a scheming, machiavellian deceiver with the ethics of a scorpion, and a trust factor of -82. He lied in 2007 about surveillance, he persuaded Papandreou to lie about the size of Greek debts in 2010, he has persistently lied about ''the cost'' to Germany of Greek default, he lied about the Spanish 'recovery earlier this week, he lied about the situation in Portugal during 2012, he lied to the Cypriots in 2013, and he orchestrated a foul FinMin attack on Yanis Varoufakis last week. This last bit of bullying has now backfired on Whining Wolfie, but lest we forget, here's a reminder: the eurozone is about to get an amoral secret policeman as its head of eurozone fiscal matters'....a man happy to let the US ride roughshod over EU citizens' privacy, happy to work with an ECB Chairman at the same game, ever-ready to depict the Greeks as cardboard Untermenschen, and willing to pull any stunt '' however despicable '' in order to ''win''.
Just as Conservative Party policies on austerity, EU Treaty renegotiation and national debt reduction have been shown up as irrelevant, impossible and unachievable respectively, so too the Labour hierarchy's traditional stance on standing up for the vulnerable small people, equality before the Law, and the ethical use of security surveillance is once again shown clearly to be incompatible with EU membership. And both Parties continue to be committed to a 'special relationship' with a US whose CIA, State department and bought Congressmen represent the greatest threat on the planet to peace.
You will look in vain or this story in the British media, for it is absent. You see, its Truths don't suit any of the media ideologues '' from Alan Rusbridger to the Barclay twins. So from my humble role in the mediascape, I offer this plea: even if you vote for someone else, on my knees Mrs Worthington, don't, don't, don't put a cross against either of these two rotten UK Establishment degeneracies.
Footnote: over the last four years, The Slog has had four posts removed without explanation. Two of them were about ECB Chairman Mario Draghi, one about Angela Merkel's role in the DDR, and one made allegations about Boris Johnson 'sitting on' the Elm House enquiry.
Related at The Slog: Voting abstention '' a simple and clear rationale.
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Boeing 787 Dreamliners contain a potentially catastrophic software bug | Ars Technica
Fri, 01 May 2015 19:35
A software vulnerability in Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner jet has the potential to cause pilots to lose control of the aircraft, possibly in mid-flight, Federal Aviation Administration officials warned airlines recently.
The bug'--which is either a classic integer overflow or one very much resembling it'--resides in one of the electrical systems responsible for generating power, according to memo the FAA issued last week. The vulnerability, which Boeing reported to the FAA, is triggered when a generator has been running continuously for a little more than eight months. As a result, FAA officials have adopted a new airworthiness directive (AD) that airlines will be required to follow, at least until the underlying flaw is fixed.
"This AD was prompted by the determination that a Model 787 airplane that has been powered continuously for 248 days can lose all alternating current (AC) electrical power due to the generator control units (GCUs) simultaneously going into failsafe mode," the memo stated. "This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane."
The memo went on to say that Dreamliners have four main GCUs associated with the engine mounted generators. If all of them were powered up at the same time, "after 248 days of continuous power, all four GCUs will go into failsafe mode at the same time, resulting in a loss of all AC electrical power regardless of flight phase." Boeing is in the process of developing a GCU software upgrade that will remedy the unsafe condition. The new model plane previously experienced a battery problem that caused a fire while one aircraft was parked on a runway.
The memo doesn't provide additional details about the underlying software bug. Informed speculation suggests it's a signed 32-bit integer overflow that is triggered after 231 centiseconds (i.e. 248.55 days) of continuous operation.
F.A.A. Orders Fix for Possible Power Loss in Boeing 787 - NYTimes.com
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:15
PhotoMany mechanical components in the Boeing 787 have been replaced with electrical ones for lower weight and more economical operation, but that has also made it much more reliant on electrical power than previous generations of planes.Credit Randall Hill/ReutersFederal regulators will order operators of Boeing 787 Dreamliners to shut down the plane's electrical power periodically after Boeing discovered a software error that could result in a total loss of power.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday that Boeing found during laboratory testing that the plane's power control units could shut down power generators if they were powered without interruption for 248 days, or about eight months. The findings were published in an airworthiness directive.
Boeing said the problem had occurred only in lab simulation and no airplane had experienced it. Boeing said that powering the airplane down would eliminate the risk that all power generators would shut down at the same time.
The company said it was working on a software update that should be ready by the fourth quarter this year.
Boeing has so far delivered 264 787s to carriers including Japan Airlines, Air India and Ethiopian Airlines. It alerted operators about the potential problem two weeks ago.
The plane maker said that power was shut down in all airplanes in service in the course of the regular maintenance schedule, and that it would be rare for a plane to remain with power on without interruption for eight months.
No immediate action is required from operators whose planes had a power cycle in the last 120 days, according to Boeing.
The Boeing 787 was built with a lighter carbon composite structure, and many mechanical components have been replaced with electrical ones to save weight and provide more economical operation. As a result, it is also much more reliant on electrical power than previous generations of airplanes.
The 787 has six electrical generators. Two 250-kilovolt-ampere units are mounted on each of the two engines, and two 225-kilovolt-ampere units are used as backup generators. The generators provide power for a variety of functions on the aircraft, including running the plane's avionics, pressurizing the cabin and de-icing wing parts.
Each generator is linked to a control unit. Boeing found that if the four engine generators were left on continuously for about eight months, a software internal counter would overflow and cause the control units to enter a fail-safe mode. The F.A.A. warned that this could result in a loss of all electrical power, regardless of whether the plane was in flight.
In the event that the main power generators all failed, however, the plane's main lithium-ion battery could provide power to the flight deck for six seconds until a ram air turbine, or RAT, deploys. This fan turbine provides a small amount of emergency power that would allow pilots to turn the engines' power back on or fly the plane to an airport.
The 787's electrical systems have experienced a series of problems since the plane entered service in 2011. The entire 787 fleet was grounded for more than three months in early 2013 after two incidents involving lithium-ion batteries, including a fire on a parked 787, which eventually required Boeing to redesign the battery casing as well as the internal fuel cells.
Qatar Airways and other operators have also reported failures with the plane's main electrical panel, which led to the grounding or delay of flights.
Last year, Boeing received a waiver from the F.A.A. that allowed it to deliver its first 787-9, a stretched version of the Dreamliner, even after two components failed to meet airworthiness regulations.
One of those components was linked with the ram air turbine and needed to be redesigned to improve its reliability after it failed a noncertification flight test. The redesign was not be ready until early 2015, more than six months after the first 787-9 entered service in mid-2014.
When Boeing sought the exemption, it argued that the chances of a dual engine failure and total loss of power were extremely remote.
A version of this article appears in print on May 1, 2015, on page B5 of the New York edition with the headline: Regulators Order Power Fix for Boeing 787 .
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DONT LOOK OVER HERE!-To keep a Boeing Dreamliner flying, reboot once every 248 days
Sun, 03 May 2015 02:32
The 787 Dreamliner has been plagued with battery woes since its early days, to the point where the Federal Aviation Administration kept it from flying the skies in the past. And while those technical difficulties are apparently taken care of, Boeing's flagship airliner could be on the way to more trouble soon. According to the FAA, there's a software bug in the 787 Dreamliner that can cause its electrical system to fail and, as a result, lead to "loss of control" of the plane. But why? The FAA says this is triggered by the aircraft's electrical generators, which could give out if they have been powered on continuously for over eight months.
"A Model 787 airplane that has been powered continuously for 248 days can lose all alternating current electrical power due to the generator control units simultaneously going into failsafe mode," the FAA said in a statement warning of the flaw. "We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane." Boeing, for its part, is aware of the problem and has reset the power on 787 Dreamliners currently in service. Most importantly, the company's already working on an update that will patch the software vulnerability -- though there's no word on when its jets will receive it.[Image credit: Associated Press]
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Retired US Airforce captain Field McConnell
Only wants to clear name of German Wings FO Andreas Lubitz
Data as presented by officials:
FO set auto pilot to descend to 90 feet
Then says pilot increased speed to 400 knots with 3000 fpm descent
Auto Pilot won't allow for this to happen
Would need re-programming of FMC, which was NOT reported as done
Cannot hand-fly with such accuracy under 10K feet at that speed
Certainly not a low hour FO 250 kt below 10k ft is forbidden
Therefore assumed Uninterruptible Autopilot was engaged
GW9525 was taken out by Mirage aircraft
Crew & possible pax cabin is incapacitated by the air injection system
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LOT Polish Airlines Announces 2014 Profit On Core Business -- WARSAW, Poland, April 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:31
WARSAW, Poland, April 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- LOT ended 2014 in the black. With more than PLN 99 million ($26 million) profit on its core business of flying, LOT earned 40 percent more than it planned. This is the company's first profit in seven years.
LOT was supposed to end 2014 with PLN 70 million ($19 million) profit on its core business but it is almost 30 million ($8 million) above the Restructuring Plan assumptions and 103 million ($27 million) more than in 2013.
"The company is steadily improving its situation, stabilizing its financial condition and getting ready for rapid growth in the next year," said Sebastian Mikosz, CEO, LOT Polish Airlines. "The positive result on the core business, which is a key indicator of our company's health, is of utmost importance since it has been achieved regardless of the compensation measures required by the European Commission."
"Because of the public aid received, we had to cut the number of flights by almost eight percent in 2014, compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, we carried two percent more passengers and increased the revenue in comparison with 2013, while keeping a similar cost level," continued Mikosz.
The company owes its positive results to consistent changes and initiatives included in the Restructuring Plan. Most of them were added as early as in 2013, but 2014 was the first full year to have seen the results. LOT continues to modernize and expand its sales channels, including mobile solutions. The quality of service is gradually improving. New products are being added to address new passenger groups in the market.
The new philosophy of building a network has also paid off. LOT has increased its connecting capacities by as much as over 40 percent in its Warsaw hub. Such connecting options are among the reasons why LOT has become the first choice for a constantly growing number of passengers from Poland as well as the entire Eastern and Central Europe region.
2014 was also the first year to have seen the Dreamliner effect since it was only in the entire past year that all long-haul flights were operated exclusively with these aircraft. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not only popular among passengers but provides tangible benefits, such as fuel savings. LOT currently operates six Dreamliners on its schedule network, leases them to other airlines and operates long-haul charter flights in the winter season. An efficient use of the Dreamliner fleet is included in the Restructuring Plan.
"The results in 2014 show we can operate effectively in this very competitive market, and there is a place for such a carrier as LOT," added Mikosz. "However, we have to remember that this is just the first step of transformation and more challenges are ahead. This year, we are bound to repeat the financial success, as it is our goal to achieve sustained profitability and to move from restructuring to a rapid growth of the company."
LOT has also improved other indicators. The EBITDA -- indicator of company performance which determines the cash flow generating ability -- also improved. EBITDA in 2014, is PLN 291 million ($77 million), compared to 2013 PLN 156 million ($41 million) and 2012 a minus PLN 346 million ($91 million).
The normalized net profit, i.e. without one-offs and accounting effects, is also positive and amounts nearly to PLN 36 million ($9.5 million). Taking into account the one-offs and accounting effects, related to the increase of currency exchanging rates (mainly of the dollar), a minus appears at the net result at the level of 263.4 million ($70 million). This is only an artificial accounting record having no effect on the actual financial health of the company. It is because the relationship between LOT's earnings and spending in foreign currencies is fairly in balance. Therefore, no currency is in fact exchanged, but only the amounts are booked in PLN according to the valid standards. The net profit in the previous year amounted to PLN 26 million ($7 million). The normalized net profit in 2013 was a minus 67 million ($18 million).
Owing to the consistent improvement of its financial condition, LOT postponed and considerably reduced by as much as two thirds, the money it received from the second state aid tranche. At the end of 2014, LOT received PLN 127 million ($34 million.). It should be emphasized that the amount of state aid has no effect on the result.
The company's growth policy for 2016 is underway. It will be announced in the next few months new short- and long-haul destinations. LOT will start flying on those routes at the beginning of the next year when the Restructuring Plan is formally ended.
About LOT Polish AirlinesLOT Polish Airlines is a modern, European carrier bringing connectivity to CEE region with more than 40 destinations in the world, including Europe, North America and Asia. High quality of services and professionalism of LOT crews have been honored a number of times with awards for the best airline in Central and Eastern Europe. LOT as the flag carrier of Poland is the first in Europe which operates a fleet of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Since 2003 LOT is a member of Star Alliance whose network offers more than 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries all over the world.
Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101101/LA92109LOGO
SOURCE LOT Polish Airlines
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F-Russia
Russian politician labels U2 album 'gay propaganda', and he wants Apple investigated over it - Newstalk
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:25
2 days agoRussian politician labels U2 album 'gay propaganda', and he wants Apple investigated over itAlexander Starovoitov, of the right wing LDPR party, has asked the attorney general to investigate Apple's distribution
U2 album 'Songs of Innocence' had its critics, millions in fact, but none quite like this. A Russian politician has requested an investigation into Apple for distributing ''gay propaganda'' to minors with the release of the album.
Alexander Starovoitov, of the right wing LDPR party, has asked the attorney general to investigate Apple's distribution, the Guardian reports.
Apple distributed the album by delivering free into users' iTunes accounts, sending the album to over 500 million people in September of last year.
The problem stems from the album's cover, which shows Larry Mullen and his 18-year-old son Elvis embracing, with both men topless. The image is a metaphor, the and say, for attempting to hold on to innocence.
However that's not how it's being seen by Mr Starovoitov, who says it's an advertisement for sex between men. One Russian lawyer has reportedly told a newspaper he's ready to sue Apple for the moral damage done to his son.
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comments powered by 20:59 30 Apr 2015Eoin Brennan
Shut Up Slave!
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Resisting Restrictions on the Right to Record | Re/code
Sun, 03 May 2015 03:56
Some years ago, not too long after 9/11, I stood before what could be mistaken for a fairy-tale glass castle, a building known as PPG Place in Pittsburgh. I was attempting to photograph it. A rather angry guard approached and challenged me; however, before he could do or say much, two local police officers came to my aid and politely but firmly explained to the guard that the only problem they saw was his harassment of a photographer.
Amid the current debate about police body cameras and the taping of police by citizen videographers, I recall that incident with both gratitude and growing concern.
Following public outcry over shocking footage of several police shootings, we hear increased calls for more police-worn body cameras as a means of increasing officer accountability. At the same time, in the past few weeks there have been several accusations of police officers attempting to prevent members of the public from photographing them '-- including an instance in which an officer appears to have approached a bystander and then simply grabbed and smashed her cellphone.
But the incidents that raised the public outcry were brought to light not by police-worn body cameras, but by recordings made by members of the public. While recording technology alone is no guarantee of justice, a knee-jerk rush to equip police with video cameras is a half-measure at best. Clear and consistent procedures regarding body camera use are not yet established, making them as much a threat to individual privacy as they are a protection for officers and the public.
And even legislation to prevent tampering would not dissuade a corrupt police officer from deleting footage, or turning off a body camera altogether, if it meant covering up a more serious crime than breaking procedure. It is the accessibility of recording technology to both the police and public that best aids trust and justice. Such technology '-- in the hands of all '-- can be both a bad cop's worst nightmare and a good cop's best ally.
As we argue about the right to be forgotten, or the transparency, accountability, and privacy issues surrounding the use of police body cameras, let's not forget the more fundamental aspects of public good that would be impacted by laws that attempt to restrict recording by the public in public places.
And yet, at the same time as the calls for police body cameras grow louder, we are seeing Texas lawmakers trying to introduce legislation that prohibits public recording of police from a distance of less than 25 feet. Had such a law been in place back in Pittsburgh when I was trying to photograph a beautiful building, and had I been videotaping instead, would I have become guilty of a crime as the officers rushed to my aid?
Texas is not unique: This sort of legislation has been proposed before from time to time, and multiple citizens have been forced to take legal action against overzealous law enforcement officers who misunderstood the legality of photography and videography in a public space.
The use of recording devices by the public and in public should be much less controversial than the use of police body cameras, but the argument made in support of laws like the one proposed in Texas is that they would protect police from public interference. The reality, however, is that such laws would harm both the public and the police in ways that legislators have probably not anticipated.
Hindering the police in the conduct of their duties is already illegal '-- whether or not the hindrance involves a camera. If a videographer's presence interferes with police action, the police can already instruct him or her to, in the words of the ACLU, ''cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.''
Banning all videotaping of police by citizens from a particular distance, however, would only give bad officers a powerful tool to cover improper or illegal actions, while at the same time limiting the availability of evidence that could exonerate and protect good police officers from false allegations.
Beyond the concerns related to police officers, however, such laws would also hinder private citizens' ability to effectively and thoughtfully integrate the growing use of cameras and data storage technologies into their lives.
This is an issue of growing importance because we, as a society, are adapting to technology. Our behaviors and brains are actively changing in response to technology. Wearable cameras that augment our ability to recall moments and experiences, for example, are no longer the stuff of science fiction.
A quick tally of the electronics I currently carry reveals three different cameras, four different radios potentially transmitting and receiving data, and five different data-storage devices (and lest you think I am highly unusual in my use of technology, you should know that I have only tallied a phone, a watch, and a small travel camera). These devices help me. For some, they are essential life-enhancing tools.
As I and others grow to rely on these devices in our day-to-day interactions, how will laws such as the proposed Texas ban on taping police from a certain distance affect us? Instead of preventing the ''hindering'' of police, such laws are likely to dissuade people from augmenting their senses and memories with helpful technology. In the process, they would criminalize uses of technology that would otherwise improve quality of life or even alleviate medical conditions.
For example, should police officers arrest a passenger wearing a Google Glass device (say, in a car stopped for a traffic violation) for videotaping them from too close a distance? What if the person wearing that device were an autistic child using it to get prompts regarding the facial expressions of those around her? (Google Glass apps have already been created for that particular purpose.) Would that child be ''hindering'' the police?
Would such users require a medical waiver to exempt them from a law like the one introduced in Texas? Would people with cognitive or sensory disorders have to do without an assistive device in the presence of law enforcement officers, or forego its benefits in public altogether lest an officer pass by too closely?
Given our increased use of video cameras and related technologies, my concern about such laws extends beyond First Amendment issues; I am even more concerned about the potential criminalization of the basic human right to pursue a happier, healthier, safer and more dignified life through the use of new devices that might trigger the laws' prohibitions. And even more broadly, I worry about well-intentioned yet poorly considered laws ultimately restricting our right to record, remember and share our memories.
As we argue about the right to be forgotten, or the transparency, accountability, and privacy issues surrounding the use of police body cameras, let's not forget the more fundamental aspects of public good that would be impacted by laws that attempt to restrict recording by the public in public places. Do we not have a right to preserve our memories, visual or otherwise?
Ahmed Amer, associate professor of computer engineering at Santa Clara University, studies data storage technologies and has also worked on developing low-cost wearable computing and augmented-reality devices. He is an amateur photographer who, a decade later, remains grateful to the two police officers who acted to keep him safe and protect his right to photograph in public. Reach him @aamer.
GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 2051. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, PUBLICATIONS, AND NOTICES
Sun, 03 May 2015 03:54
GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 2051. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, PUBLICATIONS, AND NOTICESGOVERNMENT CODETITLE 10. GENERAL GOVERNMENT
SUBTITLE B. INFORMATION AND PLANNING
CHAPTER 2051. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, PUBLICATIONS, AND NOTICES
SUBCHAPTER A. OFFICIAL SEALS
Sec. 2051.001. ADOPTION OF SEAL. A commission or board created by state law and a commissioner whose office is created by state law may adopt a seal with which to attest an official document, certificate, or other written paper.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER B. PAPER SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
Sec. 2051.022. STATE AGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER REQUIRED ON STATIONERY. (a) A state agency shall print a telephone number for the agency on the letterhead of its official stationery.(b) In this section, "state agency" means:(1) a board, commission, department, office, or other agency in the executive branch of state government that was created by the constitution or a statute of the state, including an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code;(2) the legislature or a legislative agency;(3) the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, or a state judicial agency; or(4) a river authority.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER C. NOTICE BY PUBLICATION IN NEWSPAPER
Sec. 2051.041. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:(1) "Governmental entity" means an institution, board, commission, or department of:(A) the state or a subdivision of the state; or(B) a political subdivision of the state, including a municipality, a county, or any kind of district.(2) "Governmental representative" includes an officer, employee, or agent of a governmental entity.(3) "Notice" means any matter, including a proclamation or advertisement, required or authorized by law to be published in a newspaper by a governmental entity or representative.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.042. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. (a) This subchapter applies only to the extent that the general or special law requiring or authorizing the publication of a notice in a newspaper by a governmental entity or representative does not specify the manner of the publication, including the number of times that the notice is required to be published and the period during which the notice is required to be published.(b) This subchapter does not apply to the publication of a citation that relates to a civil suit and to which the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure apply.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.043. PUBLICATION IN AT LEAST ONE ISSUE REQUIRED. Except as provided by Section 2051.046(b) or 2051.048(d), a notice shall be published in at least one issue of a newspaper.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.044. TYPE OF NEWSPAPER REQUIRED. (a) The newspaper in which a notice is published must:(1) devote not less than 25 percent of its total column lineage to general interest items;(2) be published at least once each week;(3) be entered as second-class postal matter in the county where published; and(4) have been published regularly and continuously for at least 12 months before the governmental entity or representative publishes notice.(b) A weekly newspaper has been published regularly and continuously under Subsection (a) if the newspaper omits not more than two issues in the 12-month period.(c) This section does not apply to the publication of a notice to which Section 2051.0441 applies.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1130, Sec. 1, eff. June 20, 2003.Sec. 2051.0441. TYPE OF NEWSPAPER REQUIRED FOR PUBLICATION IN CERTAIN COUNTIES. (a) This section applies only to a notice published by a governmental entity or representative in a county:(1) with a population of at least 30,000 and not more than 36,000 that borders the Red River; or(2) that does not have a newspaper described by Section 2051.044 published in the county.(b) The newspaper in which a notice is published under this section must:(1) devote not less than 20 percent of its total column lineage to general interest items;(2) be published at least once each week;(3) be entered as periodical postal matter in the county where published or have a mailed or delivered circulation of at least 51 percent of the residences in the county where published; and(4) have been published regularly and continuously for at least 12 months before the governmental entity or representative publishes notice.(c) A weekly newspaper has been published regularly and continuously under Subsection (b) if the newspaper omits not more than two issues in the 12-month period.Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1130, Sec. 2, eff. June 20, 2003.Amended by: Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 768 (H.B. 1812), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011.Sec. 2051.045. LEGAL RATE CHARGED FOR PUBLICATION. The legal rate for publication of a notice in a newspaper is the newspaper's lowest published rate for classified advertising.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.046. NOTICE OF COUNTY. (a) A notice of a county shall be published in a newspaper published in the county that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate.(b) If no newspaper that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate is published in the county, the notice shall be posted at the door of the county courthouse.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.047. NOTICE OF CERTAIN CONSERVATION AND RECLAMATION DISTRICTS. A conservation and reclamation district, other than a river authority, created under Article XVI, Section 59, of the Texas Constitution that furnishes water and sewer services to household users satisfies a requirement of general, special, or local law to publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the district is located by publishing the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the district.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.048. NOTICE OF OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION. (a) This section applies only to a political subdivision other than a county or a conservation and reclamation district under Section 2051.047.(b) A notice of a political subdivision shall be published in a newspaper that is published in the political subdivision and that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate.(c) If no newspaper published in the political subdivision will publish the notice at or below the legal rate, the political subdivision shall publish the notice in a newspaper that:(1) is published in the county in which the political subdivision is located; and(2) will charge the legal rate or a lower rate.(d) If no newspaper published in the county in which the political subdivision is located will publish the notice at or below the legal rate, the political subdivision shall post the notice at the door of the county courthouse of the county in which the political subdivision is located.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.049. SELECTION OF NEWSPAPER. The governmental entity or representative required to publish a notice in a newspaper shall select, in accordance with this subchapter, one or more newspapers to publish the notice.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.050. TIME OF PUBLICATION. A notice must be published in a newspaper issued at least one day before the occurrence of the event to which the notice refers.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.051. BILL FOR PUBLICATION. A newspaper that publishes a notice shall submit a bill for the publication with a clipping of the published notice and a verified statement of the publisher that:(1) states the rate charged;(2) certifies that the rate charged is the newspaper's lowest published rate for classified advertising; and(3) certifies the number and dates of the publication.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.052. CANCELLATION OF PUBLISHING CONTRACT. The comptroller or a district or county official required to publish a notice may cancel a contract executed by the comptroller or official for the publication if the comptroller or official determines that the newspaper charges a rate higher than the legal rate.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Amended by: Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 937 (H.B. 3560), Sec. 1.64, eff. September 1, 2007.Sec. 2051.053. REFUSAL OF NEWSPAPER TO PUBLISH NOTICE OR CITATION. (a) The refusal of a newspaper to publish, without receiving advance payment for making the publication, a notice or citation in a state court proceeding in which the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party and in which the cost of the publication is to be charged as fees or costs of the proceeding is considered an unqualified refusal to publish the notice or citation.(b) The sworn statement of the newspaper's publisher or the person offering to insert the notice or citation in the newspaper is subject to record as proof of the refusal.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER D. GEOSPATIAL DATA PRODUCTS
Sec. 2051.101. DEFINITIONS.In this subchapter:(1) "Geospatial data product" means a document, computer file, or Internet website that contains:(A) geospatial data;(B) a map; or(C) information about a service involving geospatial data or a map.(2) "Governmental entity" has the meaning assigned by Section 2051.041.(3) "Registered professional land surveyor" has the meaning assigned by Section 1071.002, Occupations Code.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.Sec. 2051.102. NOTICE REQUIRED. (a) A governmental entity shall include a notice as provided by this subchapter on each geospatial data product that:(1) is created or hosted by the governmental entity;(2) appears to represent property boundaries; and(3) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted by or under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor or land surveyor authorized to perform surveys under laws in effect when the survey was conducted.(b) The notice required under Subsection (a) must be in substantially the following form:This product is for informational purposes and may not have been prepared for or be suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying purposes. It does not represent an on-the-ground survey and represents only the approximate relative location of property boundaries.(c) The notice required under Subsection (a) may:(1) include language further defining the limits of liability of a geospatial data product producer;(2) apply to a geospatial data product that contains more than one map; or(3) for a notice that applies to a geospatial data product that is or is on an Internet website, be included on a separate page that requires the person accessing the website to agree to the terms of the notice before accessing the geospatial data product.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.Sec. 2051.103. EXEMPTION.A governmental entity is not required to include the notice required under Section 2051.102 on a geospatial data product that:(1) does not contain a legal description, a property boundary monument, or the distance and direction of a property line;(2) is prepared only for use as evidence in a legal proceeding;(3) is filed with the clerk of any court; or(4) is filed with the county clerk.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.
GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 2051. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, PUBLICATIONS, AND NOTICESGOVERNMENT CODETITLE 10. GENERAL GOVERNMENT
SUBTITLE B. INFORMATION AND PLANNING
CHAPTER 2051. GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, PUBLICATIONS, AND NOTICES
SUBCHAPTER A. OFFICIAL SEALS
Sec. 2051.001. ADOPTION OF SEAL. A commission or board created by state law and a commissioner whose office is created by state law may adopt a seal with which to attest an official document, certificate, or other written paper.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER B. PAPER SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
Sec. 2051.022. STATE AGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER REQUIRED ON STATIONERY. (a) A state agency shall print a telephone number for the agency on the letterhead of its official stationery.(b) In this section, "state agency" means:(1) a board, commission, department, office, or other agency in the executive branch of state government that was created by the constitution or a statute of the state, including an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code;(2) the legislature or a legislative agency;(3) the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, or a state judicial agency; or(4) a river authority.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER C. NOTICE BY PUBLICATION IN NEWSPAPER
Sec. 2051.041. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:(1) "Governmental entity" means an institution, board, commission, or department of:(A) the state or a subdivision of the state; or(B) a political subdivision of the state, including a municipality, a county, or any kind of district.(2) "Governmental representative" includes an officer, employee, or agent of a governmental entity.(3) "Notice" means any matter, including a proclamation or advertisement, required or authorized by law to be published in a newspaper by a governmental entity or representative.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.042. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. (a) This subchapter applies only to the extent that the general or special law requiring or authorizing the publication of a notice in a newspaper by a governmental entity or representative does not specify the manner of the publication, including the number of times that the notice is required to be published and the period during which the notice is required to be published.(b) This subchapter does not apply to the publication of a citation that relates to a civil suit and to which the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure apply.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.043. PUBLICATION IN AT LEAST ONE ISSUE REQUIRED. Except as provided by Section 2051.046(b) or 2051.048(d), a notice shall be published in at least one issue of a newspaper.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.044. TYPE OF NEWSPAPER REQUIRED. (a) The newspaper in which a notice is published must:(1) devote not less than 25 percent of its total column lineage to general interest items;(2) be published at least once each week;(3) be entered as second-class postal matter in the county where published; and(4) have been published regularly and continuously for at least 12 months before the governmental entity or representative publishes notice.(b) A weekly newspaper has been published regularly and continuously under Subsection (a) if the newspaper omits not more than two issues in the 12-month period.(c) This section does not apply to the publication of a notice to which Section 2051.0441 applies.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1130, Sec. 1, eff. June 20, 2003.Sec. 2051.0441. TYPE OF NEWSPAPER REQUIRED FOR PUBLICATION IN CERTAIN COUNTIES. (a) This section applies only to a notice published by a governmental entity or representative in a county:(1) with a population of at least 30,000 and not more than 36,000 that borders the Red River; or(2) that does not have a newspaper described by Section 2051.044 published in the county.(b) The newspaper in which a notice is published under this section must:(1) devote not less than 20 percent of its total column lineage to general interest items;(2) be published at least once each week;(3) be entered as periodical postal matter in the county where published or have a mailed or delivered circulation of at least 51 percent of the residences in the county where published; and(4) have been published regularly and continuously for at least 12 months before the governmental entity or representative publishes notice.(c) A weekly newspaper has been published regularly and continuously under Subsection (b) if the newspaper omits not more than two issues in the 12-month period.Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1130, Sec. 2, eff. June 20, 2003.Amended by: Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 768 (H.B. 1812), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011.Sec. 2051.045. LEGAL RATE CHARGED FOR PUBLICATION. The legal rate for publication of a notice in a newspaper is the newspaper's lowest published rate for classified advertising.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.046. NOTICE OF COUNTY. (a) A notice of a county shall be published in a newspaper published in the county that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate.(b) If no newspaper that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate is published in the county, the notice shall be posted at the door of the county courthouse.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.047. NOTICE OF CERTAIN CONSERVATION AND RECLAMATION DISTRICTS. A conservation and reclamation district, other than a river authority, created under Article XVI, Section 59, of the Texas Constitution that furnishes water and sewer services to household users satisfies a requirement of general, special, or local law to publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the district is located by publishing the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the district.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.048. NOTICE OF OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION. (a) This section applies only to a political subdivision other than a county or a conservation and reclamation district under Section 2051.047.(b) A notice of a political subdivision shall be published in a newspaper that is published in the political subdivision and that will publish the notice at or below the legal rate.(c) If no newspaper published in the political subdivision will publish the notice at or below the legal rate, the political subdivision shall publish the notice in a newspaper that:(1) is published in the county in which the political subdivision is located; and(2) will charge the legal rate or a lower rate.(d) If no newspaper published in the county in which the political subdivision is located will publish the notice at or below the legal rate, the political subdivision shall post the notice at the door of the county courthouse of the county in which the political subdivision is located.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.049. SELECTION OF NEWSPAPER. The governmental entity or representative required to publish a notice in a newspaper shall select, in accordance with this subchapter, one or more newspapers to publish the notice.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.050. TIME OF PUBLICATION. A notice must be published in a newspaper issued at least one day before the occurrence of the event to which the notice refers.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.051. BILL FOR PUBLICATION. A newspaper that publishes a notice shall submit a bill for the publication with a clipping of the published notice and a verified statement of the publisher that:(1) states the rate charged;(2) certifies that the rate charged is the newspaper's lowest published rate for classified advertising; and(3) certifies the number and dates of the publication.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Sec. 2051.052. CANCELLATION OF PUBLISHING CONTRACT. The comptroller or a district or county official required to publish a notice may cancel a contract executed by the comptroller or official for the publication if the comptroller or official determines that the newspaper charges a rate higher than the legal rate.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.Amended by: Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 937 (H.B. 3560), Sec. 1.64, eff. September 1, 2007.Sec. 2051.053. REFUSAL OF NEWSPAPER TO PUBLISH NOTICE OR CITATION. (a) The refusal of a newspaper to publish, without receiving advance payment for making the publication, a notice or citation in a state court proceeding in which the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party and in which the cost of the publication is to be charged as fees or costs of the proceeding is considered an unqualified refusal to publish the notice or citation.(b) The sworn statement of the newspaper's publisher or the person offering to insert the notice or citation in the newspaper is subject to record as proof of the refusal.Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.SUBCHAPTER D. GEOSPATIAL DATA PRODUCTS
Sec. 2051.101. DEFINITIONS.In this subchapter:(1) "Geospatial data product" means a document, computer file, or Internet website that contains:(A) geospatial data;(B) a map; or(C) information about a service involving geospatial data or a map.(2) "Governmental entity" has the meaning assigned by Section 2051.041.(3) "Registered professional land surveyor" has the meaning assigned by Section 1071.002, Occupations Code.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.Sec. 2051.102. NOTICE REQUIRED. (a) A governmental entity shall include a notice as provided by this subchapter on each geospatial data product that:(1) is created or hosted by the governmental entity;(2) appears to represent property boundaries; and(3) was not produced using information from an on-the-ground survey conducted by or under the supervision of a registered professional land surveyor or land surveyor authorized to perform surveys under laws in effect when the survey was conducted.(b) The notice required under Subsection (a) must be in substantially the following form:This product is for informational purposes and may not have been prepared for or be suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying purposes. It does not represent an on-the-ground survey and represents only the approximate relative location of property boundaries.(c) The notice required under Subsection (a) may:(1) include language further defining the limits of liability of a geospatial data product producer;(2) apply to a geospatial data product that contains more than one map; or(3) for a notice that applies to a geospatial data product that is or is on an Internet website, be included on a separate page that requires the person accessing the website to agree to the terms of the notice before accessing the geospatial data product.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.Sec. 2051.103. EXEMPTION.A governmental entity is not required to include the notice required under Section 2051.102 on a geospatial data product that:(1) does not contain a legal description, a property boundary monument, or the distance and direction of a property line;(2) is prepared only for use as evidence in a legal proceeding;(3) is filed with the clerk of any court; or(4) is filed with the county clerk.Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 127 (H.B. 1147), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.
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The mobile-home trap: How a Warren Buffett empire preys on the poor | The Seattle Times
Sun, 03 May 2015 02:15
Billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett controls a mobile-home empire that promises low-income borrowers affordable houses. But all too often, it traps those owners in high-interest loans and rapidly depreciating homes.
First of a series
EPHRATA, Grant County '-- After years of living in a 1963 travel trailer, Kirk and Patricia Ackley found a permanent house with enough space to host grandkids and care for her aging father suffering from dementia.
So, as the pilot cars prepared to guide the factory-built home up from Oregon in May 2006, the Ackleys were elated to finalize paperwork waiting for them at their loan broker's kitchen table.
But the closing documents he set before them held a surprise: The promised 7 percent interest rate was now 12.5 percent, with monthly payments of $1,100, up from $700.
This report is a collaboration between The Seattle Times and The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative newsroom based in Washington, D.C.
The terms were too extreme for the Ackleys. But they'd already spent $11,000, at the dealer's urging, for a concrete foundation to accommodate this specific home. They could look for other financing but desperately needed a space to care for her father.
Kirk's construction job and Patricia's Wal-Mart job together weren't enough to afford the new monthly payment. But, they said, the broker was willing to inflate their income in order to qualify them for the loan.
''You just need to remember,'' they recalled him saying, ''you can refinance as soon as you can.''
To their regret, the Ackleys signed.
The disastrous deal ruined their finances and nearly their marriage. But until informed recently by a reporter, they didn't realize that the homebuilder (Golden West), the dealer (Oakwood Homes) and the lender (21st Mortgage) were all part of a single company: Clayton Homes, the nation's biggest homebuilder, which is controlled by its second-richest man '-- Warren Buffett.
Buffett's mobile-home empire promises low-income Americans the dream of homeownership. But Clayton relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can't afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance, an investigation by The Seattle Times and Center for Public Integrity has found.
Kirk and Patricia Ackley spent thousands to prepare their land, then were stuck with a higher loan rate than promised. Their home was taken in 2012. (Katie G. Cotterill and Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate Buffett leads, bought Clayton in 2003 and spent billions building it into the mobile-home industry's biggest manufacturer and lender. Today, Clayton is a many-headed hydra with companies operating under at least 18 names, constructing nearly half of the industry's new homes and selling them through its own retailers. It finances more mobile-home purchases than any other lender by a factor of six. It also sells property insurance on them and repossesses them when borrowers fail to pay.
Berkshire extracts value at every stage of the process. Clayton even builds the homes with materials '-- such as paint and carpeting '-- supplied by other Berkshire subsidiaries.
When homes got hauled off to be resold, some consumers already had paid so much in fees and interest that the company still came out ahead. Even through the Great Recession and housing crisis, Clayton was profitable every year.
More than a dozen Clayton customers described a consistent array of deceptive practices that locked them into ruinous deals: loan terms that changed abruptly after they paid deposits or prepared land for their new homes; surprise fees tacked on to loans; and pressure to take on excessive payments based on false promises that they could later refinance.
Former dealers said the company encouraged them to steer buyers to finance with Clayton's own high-interest lenders.
Under federal guidelines, most Clayton mobile-home loans are considered ''higher-priced.'' Those loans averaged 7 percentage points higher than the typical home loan in 2013, according to a Times/CPI analysis of federal data, compared to just 3.8 percentage points for other lenders.
Buyers told of Clayton collection agents urging them to cut back on food and medical care or seek handouts in order to make house payments. And when homes got hauled off to be resold, some consumers already had paid so much in fees and interest that the company still came out ahead. Even through the Great Recession and housing crisis, Clayton was profitable every year, generating $558 million in pre-tax earnings in 2014.
The company's tactics contrast with Buffett's public profile as a financial sage who values responsible lending and helping poor Americans keep their homes.
Berkshire Hathaway spokeswoman Carrie Sova and Clayton spokeswoman Audrey Saunders ignored more than a dozen requests by phone, email and in person to discuss Clayton's policies and treatment of consumers. In an emailed statement, Saunders said Clayton helps customers find homes within their budgets and has a ''purpose of opening doors to a better life, one home at a time.''
(Update: After publication, Berkshire Hathaway's Omaha headquarters sent a statement on behalf of Clayton Homes to the Omaha World-Herald, which is also owned by Berkshire. The statement and a closer look at Clayton's claims can be found here.)
First, a dreamAs Buffett tells it, his purchase of Clayton Homes came from an ''unlikely source'': Visiting students from the University of Tennessee gave him a copy of founder Jim Clayton's self-published memoir, ''First a Dream,'' in early 2003. Buffett enjoyed reading the book and admired Jim Clayton's record, he has said, and soon called CEO Kevin Clayton, offering to buy the company.
''A few phone calls later, we had a deal,'' Buffett said at his 2003 shareholders meeting, according to notes taken at the meeting by hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson.
The tale of serendipitous dealmaking paints Buffett and the Claytons as sharing down-to-earth values, antipathy for Wall Street and an old-fashioned belief in treating people fairly. But, in fact, the man who brought the students to Omaha said Clayton's book wasn't the genesis of the deal.
''The Claytons really initiated this contact,'' said Al Auxier, the Tennessee professor, since retired, who chaperoned the student trip after fostering a relationship with the billionaire.
CEO Kevin Clayton, the founder's son, reached out to Buffett through Auxier, the professor said in a recent interview, and asked whether Buffett might explore ''a business relationship'' with Clayton Homes.
At the time, mobile-home loans had been defaulting at alarming rates, and investors had grown wary of them. Kevin Clayton was seeking a new source of cash to relend to homebuyers. He knew that Berkshire Hathaway, with its perfect bond rating, could provide it as cheaply as anyone. Later that year, Berkshire Hathaway paid $1.7 billion in cash to buy Clayton Homes.
Berkshire Hathaway quickly bought up failed competitors' stores, factories and billions in troubled loans, building Clayton Homes into the industry's dominant force. In 2013, Clayton provided 39 percent of new mobile-home loans, according to a Times/CPI analysis of federal data that 7,000 home lenders are required to submit. The next biggest lender was Wells Fargo, with just 6 percent of the loans.
Clayton provided more than half of new mobile-home loans in eight states. In Texas, the number exceeds 70 percent. Clayton has more than 90 percent of the market in Odessa, one of the most expensive places in the country to finance a mobile home.
To maintain its down-to-earth image, Clayton has hired the stars of the reality-TV show ''Duck Dynasty'' to appear in ads.
The company's headquarters is a hulking structure of metal sheeting surrounded by acres of parking lots and a beach volleyball court for employees, located a few miles south of Knoxville, Tenn. Next to the front door, there is a slot for borrowers to deposit payments.
Near the headquarters, two Clayton sales lots sit three miles from each other. Clayton Homes' banners promise ''$0 CASH DOWN.'' TruValue Homes, also owned by Clayton, advertises ''REPOS FOR SALE.'' Other nearby Clayton lots operate as Luv Homes and Oakwood Homes. With all the different names, many customers believe that they're shopping around.
House-sized banners at dealerships reinforce that impression, proclaiming they will ''BEAT ANY DEAL.'' In some parts of the country, buyers would have to drive many miles past several Clayton-owned lots, to reach a true competitor.
Guided into costly loansSoon after Buffett bought Clayton Homes, he declared a new dawn for the moribund mobile-home industry, which provides housing for some 20 million Americans. Lenders should require ''significant down payments and shorter-term loans,'' Buffett wrote.
He called 30-year loans on mobile homes ''a mistake,'' according to notes Tilson took during Berkshire Hathaway's 2003 shareholders meeting.
''Home purchases should involve an honest-to-God down payment of at least 10% and monthly payments that can be comfortably handled by the borrower's income,'' Buffett later wrote. ''That income should be carefully verified.''
But in examining more than 100 Clayton home sales through interviews and reviews of loan documents from 41 states, reporters found that the company's loans routinely violated the lending standards laid out by Buffett.
Clayton dealers often sold homes with no cash down payment. Numerous borrowers said they were persuaded to take on outsized payments by dealers promising that they could later refinance. And the average loan term actually increased from 21 years in 2007 to more than 23 years in 2009, the last time Berkshire disclosed that detail.
Clayton's loan to Dorothy Mansfield, a disabled Army veteran who lost her previous North Carolina home to a tornado in 2011, includes key features that Buffett condemned.
Mansfield had a lousy credit score of 474, court records show. Although she had seasonal and part-time jobs, her monthly income often consisted of less than $700 in disability benefits. She had no money for a down payment when she visited Clayton Homes in Fayetteville, N.C.
Vanderbilt, one of Clayton's lenders, approved her for a $60,000, 20-year loan to buy a Clayton home at 10.13 percent annual interest. She secured the loan with two parcels of land that her family already owned free and clear.
The dealer didn't request any documents to verify Mansfield's income or employment, records show.
Mansfield's monthly payment of $673 consumed almost all of her guaranteed income. Within 18 months, she was behind on payments and Clayton was trying to foreclose on the home and land.
Many borrowers interviewed for this investigation described being steered by Clayton dealers into Clayton financing without realizing the companies were one and the same. Sometimes, buyers said, the dealer described the financing as the best deal available. Other times, the Clayton dealer said it was the only financing option.
Former dealer: 'They give you a loan that you can't pay back'
Not only borrowers, but dealers of Clayton homes have felt mistreated by the company, said Kevin Carroll, who until a few years ago owned Carroll's Mobile Homes in southern Indiana.
Carroll, who won Clayton awards for sales volumes, said his problems with the company began after CEO Kevin Clayton helped him with a loan from subsidiary 21st Mortgage in 2008 to buy out his business partners.
Two weeks after the loan documents were signed, Clayton Homes told Carroll it was shuttering the manufacturing plant, only 70 miles away, that supplied Carroll's inventory.
Carroll said he was unable to obtain Clayton parts for the homes in his inventory and said Clayton stopped helping him get new homes to sell. Carroll's business lost money, and he could no longer afford the loan payments.
Clayton representatives hounded him with phone calls demanding payment, he said. In 2010, he had to surrender his company and the land underneath it to meet his mounting debts.
''They entrap you,'' said Carroll, who sued Clayton for fraud, but the case was dismissed. ''They give you a loan that you can't pay back and then they take from you.''
Kevin Carroll, former owner of a Clayton-affiliated dealership in Indiana, said in an interview that he used business loans from a Clayton lender to finance inventory for his lot. If he also guided homebuyers to work with the same lender, 21st Mortgage, the company would give him a discount on his business loans '-- a ''kickback,'' in his words.
Doug Farley, who was a general manager at several Clayton-owned dealerships, also used the term ''kickback'' to describe the profit-share he received on Clayton loans until around 2008. After that, the company changed its incentives to instead provide ''kickbacks'' on sales of Clayton's insurance to borrowers, he said.
Ed Atherton, a former lot manager in Arkansas, said his regional supervisor was pressuring lot managers to put at least 80 percent of buyers into Clayton financing. Atherton left the company in 2013.
During the most recent four-year period, 93 percent of Clayton's mobile-home loans had such costly terms that they required extra disclosure under federal rules. Among all other mobile-home lenders, fewer than half of their loans met that threshold.
Customers said in interviews that dealers misled them to take on unaffordable loans, with tactics including last-minute changes to loan terms and unexplained fees that inflate loan balances. Such loans are, by definition, predatory.
''They're going to assume the client is unsophisticated, and they're right,'' said Felix Harris, a housing counselor with the nonprofit Knoxville Area Urban League.
Some borrowers felt trapped because they put up a deposit before the dealer explained the loan terms or, like the Ackleys, felt compelled to swallow bait-and-switch deals because they had spent thousands to prepare their land.
Promise deniedA couple of years after moving into their new mobile home, Kirk Ackley was injured in a backhoe rollover. Unable to work, he and his wife urgently needed to refinance the costly 21st Mortgage loan they regretted signing.
They pleaded with the lender several times for the better terms that they originally were promised, but were denied, they said. The Ackleys tried to explain the options to a 21st supervisor: If they refinanced to lower payments, they could stay in the home and 21st would get years of steady returns. Otherwise, the company would have to come out to their rural property, pull the house from its foundation and haul it away, possibly damaging it during the repossession.
They both recall being baffled by his reply: ''We don't care. We'll come take a chainsaw to it '-- cut it up and haul it out in boxes.''
Nine Clayton consumers interviewed for this story said they were promised a chance to refinance. In reality, Clayton almost never refinances loans and accounts for well under 1 percent of mobile-home refinancings reported in government data from 2010 to 2013. It made more than one-third of the purchase loans during that period.
Of Washington's 25 largest mobile-home lenders, Clayton's subsidiaries ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for the highest interest rates in 2013. Together, they ranked eighth in loans originated.
''If you have a decrease in income and can't afford the mortgage, at least a lot of the big companies will do modifications,'' said Harris, the Knoxville housing counselor. ''Vanderbilt won't even entertain that.''
In general, owners have difficulty refinancing or selling their mobile homes because few lenders offer such loans. One big reason: Homes are overpriced or depreciate so quickly that they generally are worth less than what the borrower owes, even after years of monthly payments.
Ellie Carosa, of Napavine, Lewis County, found this out the hard way in 2010 after she put down some $40,000 from an inheritance to buy a used home from Clayton priced at about $65,000.
Clayton sales reps steered Carosa, who is 67 years old and disabled, to finance the unpaid amount through Vanderbilt at 9 percent interest over 20 years.
One year later, Carosa was already having problems '-- peeling paint and failing carpets '-- so she decided to have a market expert assess the value of her home. She hoped to eventually sell the house so the money could help her granddaughter, whom she adopted as her daughter at age 8, attend a local college to study music.
Carosa was stunned to learn that the home was worth only $35,000, far less than her original down payment.
''I've lost everything,'' Carosa said.
Ellie Carosa put down some $40,000 to buy a mobile home from Clayton homes that was priced at about $65,000. She soon learned it was worth far less than her down payment. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
'Rudest, most condescending' agentsBerkshire's borrowers who fall behind on their payments face harassing, potentially illegal phone calls from a company rarely willing to offer relief.
Carol Carroll, a nurse living near Bug Tussle, Ala., began looking for a new home in 2003 after her husband had died, leaving her with a 6-year-old daughter. Instead of a down payment, she said, the salesman assured her she could simply put up two acres of her family land as collateral.
Berkshire doesn't disclose details about loan failures
In a letter to shareholders last month, Warren Buffett wrote that a ''very high percentage'' of Clayton's borrowers kept their homes during the 2008 housing meltdown thanks to the company's ''sensible lending practices.''
But the company has provided scant data to back up Buffett's claims.
''I wouldn't give much credence to those comments,'' said James Shanahan, an analyst with Edward Jones who follows Berkshire Hathaway.
Typically, lenders disclose loan information, such as size of loans and their down payments, delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures. Regulators rely on the information to protect consumers and shareholders.
But Clayton Homes doesn't have to make these details public because it is part of a bigger company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Each year since 2010, Berkshire has declared in SEC records that 98 percent of its loan portfolio is ''performing.'' But its definition of ''nonperforming'' '-- found elsewhere in the documents '-- is narrow. Berkshire's impressive-sounding ratio ignores loans that are delinquent and homes that already have been foreclosed or repossessed.
Across the industry, about 28 percent of non-mortgage mobile-home loans fail, according to research by Kenneth Rishel, a consultant in the field for 40 years. Clayton's failure rates are 26 percent at 21st Mortgage and 33 percent at Vanderbilt, said Rishel, citing his research and conversations with Clayton executives.
In a brief email, 21st President Tim Williams said those numbers were ''inaccurate,'' but he declined to provide the company's figures.
'-- Daniel Wagner and Mike Baker
In December 2005, Carroll was permanently disabled in a catastrophic car accident in which two people were killed. Knowing it would take a few months for her disability benefits to be approved, Carroll said, she called Vanderbilt and asked for a temporary reprieve. The company's answer: ''We don't do that.''
However, Clayton ratcheted up her property-insurance premiums, eventually costing her $803 more per year than when she started, she said. Carroll was one of several Clayton borrowers who felt trapped in the company's insurance, often because they were told they had no other options. Some had as many as five years' worth of expensive premiums included in their loans, inflating the total balance to be repaid with interest. Others said they were misled into signing up even though they already had other insurance.
Carroll has since sold belongings, borrowed money from relatives and cut back on groceries to make payments. When she was late, she spoke frequently to Clayton's phone agents, whom she described as ''the rudest, most condescending people I have ever dealt with.'' It's a characterization echoed by almost every borrower interviewed for this story.
Consumers say the company's response to pleas for help is an invasive interrogation about their family budgets, including how much they spend on food, toiletries and utilities.
Denise Pitts, of Knoxville, Tenn., said Vanderbilt collectors have called her multiple times a day, with one suggesting that she cancel her Internet service, even though she home-schools her son. They have called her relatives and neighbors, a tactic other borrowers reported.
Buyers told of Clayton collectors urging them to cut back on food and medical care or seek handouts in order to make house payments.
After Pitts' husband, Kirk, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, she said, a Vanderbilt agent told her she should make the house payment her ''first priority'' and let medical bills go unpaid. She said the company has threatened to seize her property immediately, even though the legal process to do so would take at least several months.
Practices like contacting neighbors, calling repeatedly and making false threats can violate consumer-protection laws in Washington, Tennessee and other states.
Last year, frequent complaints about Clayton's aggressive collection practices led Tennessee state officials to contact local housing counselors seeking information about their experiences with the company, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.
Treated like car ownersMobile-home buying tips
Explore a variety of financing options before you begin home shopping.
Shop around, and be aware of which companies own the lots you are visiting.
Resist pressure to buy the same day you shop.
Scrutinize all fees and charges listed on your loan documents.
Ensure that your monthly payments will be manageable, and don't expect a chance to refinance.
Finalize a financing agreement before putting money down or making land improvements.
Be aware that many mobile homes depreciate in value.
Test your loan's terms in our interactive calculator.
Mobile-home buyers who own their land sites may be able to finance their home purchases with real-estate mortgages, which give them more federal and state consumer protections than the other major financing option, a personal-property loan. With conventional home mortgages, companies must wait 120 days before starting foreclosure. In some states, the foreclosure process can take more than a year, giving consumers a chance to save their homes.
Despite these protections, two-thirds of mobile-home buyers who own their land end up in personal-property loans, according to a federal study. These loans may close more quickly and have fewer upfront costs, but their rates are generally much higher. And if borrowers fall behind on payments, their homes can be seized with little or no warning.
Those buyers are more vulnerable because they end up being treated like car owners instead of homeowners, said Bruce Neas, an attorney who has worked for years on foreclosure and manufactured-housing issues in Washington state.
Tiffany Galler was a single mother living in Crestview, Fla., in 2005 when she bought a mobile home for $37,195 with a loan from 21st Mortgage. She later rented out the home.
After making payments over eight years totaling more than the sticker price of the home, Galler lost her tenant in November 2013 and fell behind on her payments. She arranged to show the home to a prospective renter two months later. But when she arrived at her homesite, Galler found barren dirt with PVC pipe sticking up from the ground.
She called 911, thinking someone had stolen her home.
Hours later, Galler tracked her repossessed house to a sales lot 30 miles away that was affiliated with 21st. It was listed for $25,900.
Clayton wins concessionsThe government has known for years about concerns that mobile-home buyers are treated unfairly. Little has been done.
Fifteen years ago, Congress directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine issues such as loan terms and regulations in order to find ways to make mobile homes affordable. That's still on HUD's to-do list.
The industry, however, has protected its interests vigorously. Clayton Homes is represented in Washington, D.C., by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), a trade group that has a Clayton executive as its vice chairman and another as its secretary. CEO Kevin Clayton has represented MHI before Congress.
MHI spent $4.5 million since 2003 lobbying the federal government. Those efforts have helped the company escape much scrutiny, as has Buffett's persona as a man of the people, analysts say.
''There is a Teflon aspect to Warren Buffett,'' said James McRitchie, who runs a widely read blog, Corporate Governance.
Still, after the housing crisis, lawmakers tightened protections for mortgage borrowers with a sweeping overhaul known as the Dodd-Frank Act, creating regulatory headaches for the mobile-home industry. Kevin Clayton complained to lawmakers in 2011 that the new rules would lump in some of his company's loans with ''subprime, predatory'' mortgages, making it harder for mobile-home buyers ''to obtain affordable financing.''
Although the rules had yet to take effect that year, 99 percent of Clayton's mobile-home loans were so expensive that they met the federal government's ''higher-priced'' threshold.
Share your storyThe Mobile-Home Trap is an ongoing investigation. We are interested in hearing about more people's experiences with mobile homes.
If you own a mobile home or live in a mobile-home park, email Seattle Times reporter Mike Baker at mbaker@seattletimes.com.
Dodd-Frank also tasked federal financial regulators with creating appraisal requirements for risky loans. Appraisals are common for conventional home sales, protecting both the lender and the consumer from a bad deal.
Clayton's own data suggest that its mobile homes may be overpriced from the start, according to comments it filed with federal regulators. When Vanderbilt was required to obtain appraisals before finalizing a loan, company officials wrote, the home was determined to be worth less than the sales price about 30 percent of the time.
But when federal agencies jointly proposed appraisal rules in September 2012, industry objections led them to exempt loans secured solely by a manufactured home.
Then Clayton pushed for more concessions, arguing that manufactured-home loans tied to land should also be exempt. Paul Nichols, then-president of Clayton's Vanderbilt Mortgage, told regulators that the appraisal requirement would be costly and onerous, significantly reducing ''the availability of affordable housing in the United States.''
In 2013, regulators conceded. They will not require a complete appraisal for new manufactured homes.
CreditsReporters: Mike Baker, Daniel Wagner
Editors: James Neff, Alison Fitzgerald
Photographer: Ken Lambert
Video: Katie G. Cotterill and Lauren Frohne
Producer: Gina Cole
Print designer: Bob Warcup
Graphics artist: Garland Potts
Interactive: Thomas Wilburn
Art direction: Whitney Stensrud
Social media: Bob Payne
Copy editor: Laura Gordon
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Agenda 21
In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans | BDN Maine | Bangor Daily News
Sat, 02 May 2015 07:54
WASHINGTON '-- The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.
The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.
The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.
''Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,'' Schatz said.
The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the ''biggest hoax'' perpetrated against mankind.
''The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,'' Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. ''Man can't change the climate.''
The Senate, with Inhofe's support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real '-- just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.
The Democrats pushed for the climate change votes as an attempt to get Republicans on the record in advance of the 2016 elections, with polls showing that a majority of Americans believe humans are causing global warming. The votes were offered as non-binding amendments to the bill authorizing construction of Keystone.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged her colleagues to vote against the finding that climate change is significantly caused by humans.
Murkowski, chairwoman of the energy committee, has expressed worries about the impact of climate change on her state. But she said on the Senate floor that the fact the measure included the word ''significantly'' was enough to merit voting against it.
Some Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have dodged the issue of whether humans are causing climate change, often using the talking point that ''I'm not a scientist.''
President Barack Obama mocked the ''I'm not a scientist'' line in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.
''Well, I'm not a scientist, either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities,'' Obama said.
Scientists from NASA and NOAA announced last week that 2014 was the hottest year on record, continuing a warming trend that the scientists attributed to greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.
Just five Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joined the Democrats on Wednesday in voting for the finding that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.
Graham said he's not a scientist, but that he has heard enough from scientists on the issue to be convinced.
He rejected Democratic arguments that approving the Keystone XL pipeline would worsen climate change, though, maintaining that the Canadian oil sands are going to be developed even if the pipeline is not built.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
How Tesla's Powerwall Stacks Up to Conventional Energy, By the Numbers
Sat, 02 May 2015 08:11
I think about big, cheap batteries for a living, so I stayed up late and listened to the Tesla announcement. My first thoughts: These are fantastic prices for an uninterruptible power supply'--but still expensive as day-to-day electricity.
In terms of what you get compared to market prices, this is a good deal. $350/kWhr for a 10 year battery. Doesn't include an inverter but it's everything else required: cells, pack out, and power electronics. In 2015 this is a lot of battery for the money. Slam dunk as an uninterruptible power supply. All numbers below assume an electrician owes you a favor'--and an inverter.
Specs from Tesla's Powerwall product page. This is the battery designed for home use
Digging into the detail highlights the challenges that the system will face against fossil fuels. This isn't Tesla doing anything wrong, this is the challenge of the current state-of-the-art technology. Weekly cycles at a spec'd discharge rate of a 5 hour basis (2kW for 5 hours). 10 years of weekly cycles is a real number, just over 500 cycles at an 80% DoD. The problem is the cost structure hurts here: If the battery is used to its spec'd amount it works to $0.66/kWhr-cycle, or over 5 times the market rate for electricity in New Jersey, and this doesn't account for the generation that has to go into the battery. Even with heavily subsidized solar that's a combined $0.70/kWhr-cycle. Using the battery less makes it cost more based on its intended metrics: It's just an unfortunate coupling of batteries.
So this is the best-case scenario near maximum utilization; if you use the battery less over 10 years you pay more per cycle (analogous to buying more land or insurance than you need). If you buy the battery that's a sunk cost as well, so with the time value of money it's more like (very roughly) $0.70 to $0.75/kwhr-cycle. There is an extended warranty with pricing details on that which are unclear, but my guess is that it'd be hard for Tesla to make any money if the number dropped to below $0.50/kwHr-cycle. I'm making things up now so I'll stop beating this point.
On a per-kW basis installed it's roughly 10x the cost of a standard generator system, not accounting for the price of gas. Assuming gas is ~$0.03 to $0.05/kWhr and the generator setup is 20% efficient, the cost of energy is 4x to 8x, depending on hours of use.
In rough numbers: At this cost you need 10x the cycle life to compete with a generator setup at full utilization. In order to compete with utility pricing of electricity you need 10x the cycle life at 1/3rd the cost.
Playing armchair investor: They probably did this to hedge against people not buying enough cars to saturate Gigafactory supply in the short term. Despite my notes above about the challenges of the $3500+inverter, to be a part of the Tesla brand speaks to my id if not my ego.
Overall, if Tesla can deliver on what they claim here, it's an important line in the sand for this market, and it can only force prices down. Until now Sony and Panasonic have been selling similar systems for 3x the price, with little market uptake.
Everything above is subject to revision. Time makes this stuff more clear.
Update: Last night I overlooked the 7-kWhr battery at $3000. If you are getting this out of the battery every day for 10 years the price drops to $0.12/kWhr-cycle, again neglecting installation and inverter. If this is truly the spec this is an exceptional number. It is still more expensive than a genset, but not by much. Also, remember that this is the cost after you already pay for the energy to charge it. All in, based in New Jersey, this is still 2x the cost of grid-delivered energy.
Still, I am curious what the specific use case is for the 7 kWhr battery, and if Tesla expects over 3000 cycles. If so, this pack is the star of the evening.
Dan Steingart is an assistant professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University. His team listens to what batteries want and then helps them cope with what the world wants.
How many solar cells would I need in order to provide all of the electricity that my house needs? - HowStuffWorks
Sat, 02 May 2015 08:03
If you have read the HSW article entitled How Solar Yard Lights Work, then you can get a feeling for how much power a solar cell can produce. The solar panel shown in that article contains 4 cells, and each of them can produce 0.45 volts and 100 milliamps, or 45 milliwatts. Each cell measures 2 inches by 0.5 inches. In other words, with these solar cells you can generate 45 milliwatts in one square inch (6.45 square cm). For the sake of discussion, let's assume that a panel can generate 70 milliwatts per square inch.
To calculate how many square inches of solar panel you need for a house, you need to know:
How much power the house consumes on average.Where the house is located (so you can calculate mean solar days, average rainfall, etc.). This question is impossible to answer unless you have a specific location in mind. We'll assume that on an average day the solar panels generate their maximum power for 5 hours.The first question is actually pretty interesting, so let's work on it.
A "typical home" in America can use either electricity or gas to provide heat -- heat for the house, the hot water, the clothes dryer and the stove/oven. If you were to power a house with solar electricity, you would certainly use gas appliances because solar electricity is so expensive. This means that what you would be powering with solar electricity are things like the refrigerator, the lights, the compute­r, the TV, stereo equipment, motors in things like furnace fans and the washer, etc. Let's say that all of those things average out to 600 watts on average. Over the course of 24 hours, you need 600 watts * 24 hours = 14,400 watt-hours per day.
­From our calculations and assumptions abo­ve, we know that a solar panel can generate 70 milliwatts per square inch * 5 hours = 350 milliwatt hours per day. Therefore you need about 41,000 square inches of solar panel for the house. That's a solar panel that measures about 285 square feet (about 26 square meters). That would cost around $16,000 right now. Then, because the sun only shines part of the time, you would need to purchase a battery bank, an inverter, etc., and that often doubles the cost of the installation.
If you want to have a small room air conditioner in your bedroom, double everything.
Because solar electricity is so expensive, you would normally go to great lengths to reduce your electricity consumption. Instead of a desktop computer and a monitor you would use a laptop computer. You would use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent. You would use a small B&W TV instead of a large color set. You would get a small, extremely efficient refrigerator­. By doing these things you might be able to reduce your average power consumption to 100 watts. This would cut the size of your solar panel and its cost by a factor of 6, and this might bring it into the realm of possibility.
The thing to remember, however, is that 100 watts per hour purchased from the power grid would only cost about 24 cents a day right now, or $91 a year. That's why you don't see many solar houses unless they are in very remote locations. When it only costs about $100 a year to purchase power from the grid, it is hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on a solar system.
­
Tesla's new $3500 10kWh Powerwall home battery lets you ditch the grid | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
Sat, 02 May 2015 08:01
Tesla's long awaited home battery is now on the market and ready for pre-order. Late last evening, Tesla CEO Elon Musk kept his promise for his hotly anticipated announcement about the company's next product line. Musk leaked the word last week that the announcement would indeed be about the home battery he promised earlier in the year, the details of which have been quite secretive until, well, now. Musk took the stage at 8pm PST to make the announcement, in which he wowed the crowd by directing people to the Tesla website, where the stationary battery is already available for pre-order and scheduled to ship within a few months.
With this announcement, Tesla has fulfilled the conclusion posited by Wired last week: they are no longer a car company. Tesla is now a battery company first, and a car company second. Tesla isn't creating a new market, though. The Tesla Powerwall is not exactly the first home battery of its kind. Others exist. Most home batteries function approximately like this: batteries charge at night, when utility company's rates are the lowest, and can then be switched on in the morning so homeowners can enjoy that cheap energy throughout the day. Batteries, as we all understand, can be juiced up from nearly any source '' including a homeowner's solar panels, provided the correct wiring is available. So, could the new Tesla battery be used to take your home off the grid?
Related: New Tesla battery could take your home off the grid
Musk says so. The battery, which is supposed to look like a ''beautiful sculpture,'' isn't the determining factor there. Yes, the Tesla Powerwall battery is designed to be powered by what Musk calls the ''handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun.'' But a homeowner's individual ability to harness that energy is what determines the answer to the ''on or off the grid'' question. For instance, does your home have enough solar panels or wind turbines to collect all of the energy you'll need to power through another day? And not just one day, of course, because you'll need to store enough energy to make it through the days when you can't generate enough new power, like when the sun isn't shining bright. How many Powerwall batteries would your home need to run day after day? You'll have to do the math.
Here's what we CAN tell you. In 2013, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,908 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 909 kWh per month '' according to the US Energy Information Administration. That means, if you're an ''average'' consumer of electricity, you'll be using 30 kWh per day, meaning that you'd need at least 3 batteries to cover your power usage for 1 day if you had a power outage or were living off-grid. Of course, you could use less that that if you are smart. For a homeowner with large and efficient solar panels, this probably makes a lot of sense.
The new home battery is a Tesla-branded product, but the car-turned-battery company won't actually be in the business of producing the energy storage contraptions. That job will be carried out by a number of partners, including SolarCity, the solar installation company run by a pair of Musk's cousins. In fact, some SolarCity customers are using the Powerwall batteries already, through a leasing program that Tesla and SolarCity launched, possibly to test the market.
The Tesla Powerwall battery system is priced at $3,000 to $3,500, depending on the model your home needs, and installation charges would be additional. The $3,500 option provides 10kWh, and is designed to be a backup power supply for power outages and people wanting to live off-grid. The less expensive $3,000 version will have a 7kWh capacity, and is designed primarily to help a homeowner deal with fluctuations in energy pricing and supply to cut the cost of their power.
What's the take-away? The new Tesla Powerwall battery, which can clearly be used for either home or business use, is one more notch in the belt for Elon Musk. It's a wall-mounted rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that looks way more stylish and chic than a traditional old-school lead-acid battery. The real purpose of this battery, though, is to get people excited about the prospect of turning away from fossil fuels. Musk doesn't envision that every home in America will have a Tesla battery in the next X number of years. What he hopes, though, is that Tesla's newest product will light a fire under other innovators in the industry to get busy working on accessible solutions to help every day people take control of their energy consumption, and the environmental costs associated with it, over a longer timeline. Could the new Tesla Powerwall give the world a big push in the right direction? Definitely.
Watch the entire battery-powered announcement here:
+ Tesla Motors
Images via Tesla Motors
Boko Haram
Nigeria: UN Envoy Welcomes Release of 200 Nigerian Girls Held Captive By Boko Haram
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:22
The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, has welcomed the release of 200 girls from captivity by Boko Haram and called for the immediate release of all abducted girls, ahead of his meeting tomorrow with Nigerian President-Elect.
"It is time to end the nightmare," said Mr. Brown, who will have talks with Nigerian President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow about the missing girls.
Some 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, located in Nigeria's restive north-eastern Borno state, in April 2014, as the militant group ramped up brutal attacks targeting the African country's children.
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"I will talk to President-Elect Buhari tomorrow about how the international community can provide air and military help to free the girls. And I will also offer help for safe schools which allow girls to participate in education, free of fear," he added.
"For a year families have not known whether their daughters are dead or alive, married off, sold off or violated as a result of their captivity," the Global Education Envoy emphasized.
"Now that some girls have been released we want all girls released. And we want them home with their families in days - not months or years," Mr. Brown urged.
Since Boko Haram began targeting schools and children, hundreds of thousands of children have been displaced from their homes and deprived of their rights to live and grow up in safety and peace.
"We need more secure, better prepared, safe schools to make girls and parents know everything is being done to protect them," Mr. Brown emphasized.
"Today 10 million children don't go to school in Nigeria," Mr. Brown said. "By creating safe schools and communities where girls are free of fear we can get every child into school and learning."
According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 300 schools were damaged or destroyed and at least 196 teachers and 314 schoolchildren killed by the end of 2014 as a result of the conflict in northeast Nigeria between Boko Haram and military forces.
Ebola
Possible Sexual Transmission of Ebola Virus '-- Liberia, 2015
Sun, 03 May 2015 03:41
Athalia Christie, MIA1, Gloria J. Davies-Wayne, MPH2, Thierry Cordier-Lasalle, DESS2, David J. Blackley, DrPH1, A. Scott Laney, PhD1, Desmond E. Williams, MD, PhD1, Shivam A. Shinde, MBBS2, Moses Badio, MSc3, Terrence Lo, DrPH1, Suzanne E. Mate, PhD4, Jason T. Ladner, PhD4, Michael R. Wiley, PhD4, Jeffrey R. Kugelman, PhD4, Gustavo Palacios, PhD4, Michael R. Holbrook, PhD5, Krisztina B. Janosko, MS5, Emmie de Wit, PhD5, Neeltje van Doremalen, PhD5, Vincent J. Munster, PhD5, James Pettitt, MS5, Randal J. Schoepp, PhD4, Leen Verhenne, MD6, Iro Evlampidou, MD6, Karsor K Kollie, MPH3, Sonpon B. Sieh3, Alex Gasasira, MBChB2, Fatorma Bolay, PhD7, Francis N. Kateh, MD3, Tolbert G. Nyenswah, MPH3, Kevin M. De Cock, MD1
On March 20, 2015, 30 days after the most recent confirmed Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) patient in Liberia was isolated, Ebola was laboratory confirmed in a woman in Monrovia. The investigation identified only one epidemiologic link to Ebola: unprotected vaginal intercourse with a survivor. Published reports from previous outbreaks have demonstrated Ebola survivors can continue to harbor virus in immunologically privileged sites for a period of time after convalescence. Ebola virus has been isolated from semen as long as 82 days after symptom onset and viral RNA has been detected in semen up to 101 days after symptom onset (1). One instance of possible sexual transmission of Ebola has been reported, although the accompanying evidence was inconclusive (2). In addition, possible sexual transmission of Marburg virus, a filovirus related to Ebola, was documented in 1968 (3). This report describes the investigation by the Government of Liberia and international response partners of the source of Liberia's latest Ebola case and discusses the public health implications of possible sexual transmission of Ebola virus. Based on information gathered in this investigation, CDC now recommends that contact with semen from male Ebola survivors be avoided until more information regarding the duration and infectiousness of viral shedding in body fluids is known. If male survivors have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal), a condom should be used correctly and consistently every time (4).
On March 14, 2015, a woman from Monrovia aged 44 years (patient A) developed headache, weakness, joint pain and nausea. She went to a hospital on March 19, and was triaged as a suspected Ebola patient to a nearby transit center (a facility for rapid isolation, diagnosis, and referral of Ebola patients). On March 20, Ebola was confirmed by reverse transcription''polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Genomic sequencing of Ebola virus from her blood specimen identified six mutations not found in 25 other genomes sequenced from Liberia (5) or in 107 genomes obtained from Guinea, Mali, and Sierra Leone (6''8). The investigation found no history of travel by patient A, no interaction with visitors from Sierra Leone or Guinea, no recent funeral attendance, and no contact with a person with symptoms consistent with Ebola.
Patient A did report unprotected vaginal intercourse on March 7, 2015, with an Ebola survivor (survivor A), a man aged 46 years from another community in Monrovia. Survivor A had experienced onset of symptoms consistent with Ebola, including fever, anorexia, and headache on September 9, 2014, and was admitted to an Ebola treatment unit on September 23. His first test by RT-PCR on September 28, 2014, was indeterminate (positive on one assay with a cycle threshold of 40 indicating a low viral load and negative on a second assay). A second specimen was negative by RT-PCR on October 3, 2014. Survivor A was discharged from the Ebola treatment unit on October 7, 2014 and reported no subsequent illness or symptoms.
Survivor A had multiple family members with whom he lived or interacted with confirmed or suspected Ebola during the same period as his symptoms and Ebola treatment unit admission (Table). His older brother was confirmed with Ebola on September 5, 2014, from a postmortem blood specimen. Survivor A's younger brother and daughter were admitted to an Ebola treatment unit on September 23, 2014, with symptoms consistent with Ebola. His younger brother died on September 25 and his daughter died sometime before September 28. No laboratory results were available for survivor A's younger brother or daughter. Survivor A's son entered a holding center on October 8, 2014, was confirmed to have Ebola on October 11 and died soon thereafter.
A new blood specimen was collected from survivor A on March 23, 2015, as part of patient A's case investigation. The specimen was negative for Ebola virus by RT-PCR. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for Ebola virus glycoprotein- and nucleoprotein-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies were positive; immunoglobulin M (IgM) was undetectable. A semen specimen, collected from survivor A on March 27, 2015, was positive by RT-PCR with a cycle threshold of 32. Complete genome sequencing of the viral RNA from survivor A's semen has not been possible to date given the low level of detectable viral nucleic acid. However, the partial sequence obtained so far (28% of the genome) closely matches the sequence from patient A. A rapid diagnostic test was conducted to evaluate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as a possible reason for long-term viral shedding. The HIV test was negative.
In addition to patient A, survivor A reported recent unprotected vaginal intercourse with a woman aged 45 years (contact A) with no history of illness. Intercourse with contact A occurred on three to five occasions between the last week of February and March 15, 2015. A blood specimen collected from contact A on March 27, 2015 was negative for Ebola virus''specific IgG and IgM.
Since January 21, 2015, all new confirmed cases of Ebola in Liberia have been epidemiologically linked to a single transmission chain (CDC Liberia Ebola Response Team, unpublished data, 2015). Ebola viral RNA from three of the 22 confirmed cases in this transmission chain (with onset dates of January 8, January 27, and February 9, 2015) were sequenced and compared with the genetic material from patient A. None of the sequences from these isolates shared the mutations observed in patient A's isolate.
Discussion
Available epidemiologic and laboratory findings indicate that patient A may have been exposed to Ebola virus through sexual contact with survivor A, whose semen was PCR-positive 199 days (September 9, 2014 to March 27, 2015) after his likely Ebola onset. Although the diagnostic RT-PCR in September was indeterminate, survivor A's positive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, specifically against the viral nucleoprotein, indicate previous Ebola virus infection. His clinical course and epidemiologic links suggest that he had Ebola in early September 2014. The diagnostic tests were performed 18 and 24 days after symptom onset, and the results may have reflected convalescence. Although less likely, it is also possible that his Ebola virus infection occurred later and the indeterminate test result reflected the absence of Ebola virus in September 2014.
Ebola virus RNA in survivor A's semen in March 2015 does not prove the presence of infectious virus. However, the absence of patient A's genetic signature in sequenced RNA from three patients in Liberia's last known cluster of epidemiologically-linked cases makes it unlikely that patient A was infected from unrecognized, ongoing community transmission. Culture of survivor A's semen specimen for Ebola virus is planned to determine whether viable virus was present.
It is not possible to definitively ascribe Ebola infection in patient A to transmission from survivor A, and another sexual partner or other source cannot be excluded. However, the timing of intercourse between survivor A and patient A, the subsequent illness in patient A, the presence of viral RNA in survivor A's semen, matching genetic sequences (where coverage has been obtained) in isolates from survivor A and patient A, and the lack of other known exposures suggest possible sexual transmission. Enrichment methods are being applied to survivor A's semen sample to amplify existing Ebola virus RNA and complete genomic sequencing. Other limitations of the investigation include 1) the relatively small number of sequenced genomes from Ebola patients in this epidemic, which limits an assessment of the generalizability of the molecular findings; and 2) incomplete laboratory results and Ebola treatment unit and hospital records for some of survivor A's family members, preventing confirmation of Ebola and exact dates of death.
Previously, CDC and WHO recommended abstinence or condom use for at least 3 months following recovery from Ebola. However, to prevent transmission of Ebola, contact with semen from male survivors should be avoided. If male survivors have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal), a condom should be used correctly and consistently every time until further information is known. Used condoms should be handled and disposed of safely to avoid contact with semen. After handling of condoms, or following any physical contact with semen, skin should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. Based on information from this investigation, CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Government of Liberia issued updated recommendations for survivors (4,9,10).
Investigations of several other recent Ebola cases in West Africa have suggested sexual transmission from survivors but have not been confirmed (CDC Emergency Operations Center, unpublished data, 2015). Additional studies are planned to determine clearance, persistence, and shedding of Ebola virus in body fluids of survivors and to evaluate possible sexual transmission of infection. Use of RT-PCR testing of semen (e.g., evidence of two negative tests) might be a useful tool for assessing and counseling male survivors on measures they should take to prevent transmission of Ebola virus. CDC and other public health partners are reviewing existing data to determine the validity and feasibility of potential recommendations.
Transmission of Ebola in West Africa has diminished over the past few months. However, awareness of possible sexual transmission from survivors to partners and the importance of prevention measures is needed. Sufficient supplies of condoms and counseling to promote their correct and consistent use should be provided as part of the response in Ebola-affected countries. In addition, efforts should be undertaken to prevent the possibility of sexual transmission from stigmatizing survivors.
AcknowledgmentsAlvin Gray, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia. Phillip Talboy, Maureen O'Rourke-Futey, Serena Fuller, CDC Liberia Ebola Response Team. Action Contre la Faim. International Rescue Committee.
1CDC; 2World Health Organization; 3Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia; 4US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; 5National Institutes of Health; 6M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res, 7Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research
Corresponding author: Athalia Christie, akc9@cdc.gov, 202 213-7405
ReferencesRodriguez LL, De Roo A, Guimard Y, et al. Persistence and genetic stability of Ebola virus during the outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1995. J Infect Dis 1999;179(Suppl 1):S170''6.Rowe AK, Bertolli J, Khan AS, et al. Clinical, virologic, and immunologic follow-up of convalescent Ebola hemorrhagic fever patients and their household contacts, Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Commission de Lutte contre les Epid(C)mies Kikwit. J Infect Dis 1999;179(Suppl 1):S28''35.Martini GA, Schmidt HA. [Spermatogenic transmission of the "Marburg virus." (Causes of "Marburg simian disease")]. Klin Wochenschr 1968;46:398''400.CDC. Ebola (Ebola virus disease). Transmission. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2015. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/.Kugelman JR, Wiley MR, Mate S, et al. Monitoring of Ebola virus Makona evolution through establishment of advanced genomic capability in Liberia. Emerg Infect Dis 2015. Epub ahead of print.Baize S, Pannetier D, Oestereich L, et al. Emergence of Zaire Ebola virus disease in Guinea. N Engl J Med 2014;371:1418''25.Hoenen T, Safronetz D, Groseth A, et al. Virology. Mutation rate and genotype variation of Ebola virus from Mali case sequences. Science 2015;348:117''9.Gire SK, Goba A, Andersen KG, et al. Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak. Science 2014;345:1369''72.World Health Organization. Sexual transmission of the Ebola virus: evidence and knowledge gaps. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2015. Available at http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/rtis/ebola-virus-semen/en/.Republic of Liberia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Official statement of the Ministry of Health, Incident Management System of Liberia: latest on the Ebola virus disease. March 29, 2015.What is already known on this topic?
Ebola virus persists in seminal fluid following recovery, but the duration of viral shedding and the likelihood of sexual transmission are not known. Earlier studies have demonstrated that the virus can be isolated from semen as long as 82 days after symptom onset, and that semen can be positive by reverse transcription''polymerase chain reaction, indicating presence of viral RNA, up to 101 days after onset. Possible sexual transmission was reported in 1968 for Marburg virus, a related filovirus, but has not been clearly documented for Ebola.
What is added by this report?
Ebola virus can persist in the seminal fluid of convalescent men for longer than previously recognized and can potentially lead to sexual transmission of Ebola.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Until more information is known, contact with semen from a male survivor should be avoided. If male survivors have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal), a condom should be used correctly and consistently every time. Additional studies are planned to examine Ebola virus persistence in body fluids of male and female convalescent patients and the likelihood of sexual transmission.
Relationship to survivor A
Age (yrs)
Date of symptom onset
RT-PCR results
Test dates
Date of death
Brother
62
August 22
Positive
September 5
Unknown (before September 5)
Brother
36
September 9
Not done
'--
September 25
Survivor A
46
September 9
Indeterminate
September 28
Living
Negative
October 3
Daughter
14
September 16
Not done
'--
September 23''28
Son
12
October 2
Positive
October 11
Unknown
All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from typeset documents. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr) and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.
**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.
Caliphate!
Nederlands bedrijf vindt olie in Tunesi|Nieuws| Telegraaf.nl
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:44
Exclusieve artikelen van de Telegraaf redactie
za 02 mei 2015, 07:48
Wouter van BergenAmsterdam - Het jonge Nederlandse oliebedrijf Mazarine Energy heeft een aanzienlijke hoeveelheid olie gevonden in de Tunesische woestijn.
Dat meldt het bedrijf na een eerste proefcampagne in het gebied, waarvoor het een vergunning heeft gekregen van de Tunesische overheid.
Het reservoir dat Mazarine ontdekt heeft, is goed voor zo'n 5000 vaten olie per dag. Daarmee stijgt de Tunesische olieproductie in (C)(C)n klap met 8% zodra de winning nog voor het eind van dit jaar begint. In totaal zitten er in het gebied minimaal zo'n 10 tot 20 miljoen vaten olie, waarmee het bedrijf dus nog 10 tot 20 jaar denkt voort te kunnen.
Lees hier verder over deze Nederlandse vondst(C) 1996-2015 TMG Landelijke Media B.V., Amsterdam.Alle rechten voorbehouden.e-mail: info@dft.nlGebruiksvoorwaarden | Privacy | Cookies | Cookie-voorkeuren
MIC
A-10 Victory in the House
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:20
A-10 Victory in the HouseMay 1, 2015
This week the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment offered by Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) to prohibit the Air Force from retiring the A-10. This amendment, added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2016, protects key close air support and combat search and rescue capabilities that we need to protect our troops in combat. It also requires an independent assessment of the capabilities or platforms needed to eventually replace the A-10. You can see her remarks on her amendment below:
Many Members of Congress are reluctant to challenge Generals and exercise their constitutional prerogative to question whether executive branch policies and budget decisions truly make us safer as a nation. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) is a notable exception, and her fight for the A-10 has persuaded her colleagues to preserve the platform and earned her recognition as an ''unconventional new star.''
It's not the first time McSally has taken on senior leadership at the Pentagon. When she was an Air Force pilot, she successfully sued then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 over the constitutionality of a policy to require military women in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya'--the customary head-to-toe gown'--when they left base. A separate amendment she added to the FY 2016 NDAA furthered oversight of compliance with the revised policy.
Chickenhawkstake note: standing up for our troops isn't just the right thing to do, it's politically smart as well. POGO looks forward to seeing more unconventional stars emerge, and to helping them create a galaxy of tough congressional oversight and accountability.
Mandy Smithberger is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics:National Security
Related Content:Congressional Oversight, A-10
Authors:Mandy Smithberger
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Latest PodcastPodcast; Social Media, Internet Provides Opportunities, Challenges for LawmakersThe Congressional Management Foundation offers the Gold Mouse Awards annually to members of Congress who make the most of the opportunity the digital world offers them. POGO spoke with members of Rep. Mike Honda's communications team about their award.
House panel votes to keep the A-10 Warthog flying another year | TheHill
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:28
The House Armed Services Committee voted early Thursday morning to keep the A-10 attack jet flying another year, as the panel marked up its 2016 defense policy bill.
An amendment, proposed by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), would prohibit the Air Force from taking any moves to retire the plane, something it has been trying to do for several years under budget constraints.
The amendment passed by voice vote after emotional debate by members of the committee, particularly military veterans on the panel, who argued for and against keeping the plane, which is designed to support ground troops in battle.
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McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, A-10 pilot and squadron commander, led the case for keeping the attack jet, arguing it had superior loitering capabilities and a powerful weapons load, even bringing in a real, but non-live, ammunition round. Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) said one of his sons, who served in Afghanistan, said when the A-10s came, ''the enemy scattered'' '-- and that other aircraft did not scare them as much.
''Coming from the farm, if it ain't broke, don't fix it,'' said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) added, ''It is the all-purpose sledgehammer of the skies.''
Former Marine and Iraq veteran Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) led the argument for retiring the A-10, arguing the money could be better spent elsewhere, pointing to roadside bombs '-- the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
''There are far more that will die [from roadside bombs than] from scenarios where only A-10s can provide close air support,'' said Moulton.
He proposed an alternate amendment that would allow the Air Force to take steps to retire as many as 164 A-10s, but leave more than 100 in service. That amendment failed.
McSally argued that 100 would leave only three squadrons '-- down from the current nine '-- and would not be able to fulfill even current requirements.
Other veterans on the committee jumped into the fray, with retired Navy SEAL Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) arguing there was not yet an adequate replacement for the A-10.
"You don't cut your main chute if you don't know what your reserve looks like,'' he said.
McSally argued that the A-10 also performs combat search and rescue for downed pilots. The A-10 would prevent a downed U.S. pilot from being captured and lit on fire by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) like a downed Jordanian pilot was earlier this year, she said.
But Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, voiced support for his fellow Marine's amendment.
Hunter said he did not know why Congress was forcing the Air Force to conduct the close air support mission and keep the A-10 when it didn't want to.
Otherwise, support for each amendment fell largely on party lines.
The panel's chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), voted in support of McSally's amendment, saying he was persuaded by the fact that the Air Force keeps deploying the A-10, including a dozen earlier this month in the fight against ISIS.
Ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who supported Moulton's amendment, said after the votes that he was ''deeply disturbed'' that Congress was preventing the Air Force from retiring the plane but was not doing anything to lift spending caps that were constraining the Pentagon's budget.
Moulton said the Air Force would like to keep the A-10 in an ''ideal world'' with enough money and less-advanced adversaries. But, he said, ''We live in a real world.''
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) responded that troops in her state are currently deployed to Iraq, and the ''threat is real.''
''Presently, A-10s support these operations. I and the troops I represent appreciate the A-10,'' she said.
PedoBear
Central African Republic: UN Peacekeeping Missions 'Should Be Investigated for Sexual Crimes'
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:54
interview
By Isaac MugabiA leaked internal UN report has revealed that around 14 French peacekeepers are suspected of sexually abusing children in Central African Republic (CAR). Some of the children are said to have been as young as eight.
The report was leaked by a senior UN official and given to British newspaper The Guardian by Paula Donovan, co-director of the organization AIDS- Free World. French President Francois Hollande has promised tough punishment for any soldier found guilty of sexual abuse and a defense ministry spokesman said efforts were being made to verify the truth of the accusations. DW spoke to Paula Donovan.
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DW: These abuses allegedly took place around refugee camps inside CAR in 2013 and 2014. Can you tell us more about what is alleged to have happened?
Paula Donovan: It seems as though roughly 10 to 12 children are known to the UN as having been victims of sexual abuse by a variety of different French soldiers. Six of those children were interviewed directly by the UN, UNICEF and the Commission for Human Rights officers on the ground. The interviews took place in May and towards the end of June and the interviewers asked questions which the children answered about the abuses that they had themselves suffered or had witnessed.
In most cases it was soldiers asking or demanding that if children wanted some small food rations or a little bit of water or cash, they would have to perform oral sex on the soldiers. The soldiers seemed to have been extracting these sexual abuses out of the children independently or in teams. It's not like a pedophile ring or anything along those lines. Soldiers at random seemed to have decided that they could exploit and sexually abuse various kids in different states of distress. Some of these children were homeless, hungry and desperate. Others had been either separated from their families or even lost their parents during the conflict in early December 2013. So it's quite an ugly scene.
Usually when we hear of rape in conflict areas, we think of the victims being women and girls. It seems that most of the children abused in this case were boys. Were girls not affected in this specific case?
All the children interviewed were boys and all the children mentioned by those interviewees were boys.
The whistleblower, a senior UN official, was suspended from his position at the UN for leaking this document to French authorities. What does this say about the UN's willingness to actually tackle this problem and bring it out into the open?
I don't know why there is such a focus on the person who gave this document to the French prosecutors. I haven't spoken to him or had any contact with him. But from the way I have heard this described, I don't think that this is a case of leaking. I think this is a case of delivering a document without going through the proper protocol channels according to the UN.
With such a horrendous situation on the ground in CAR, and so much misconduct at the very top levels of the United Nations doing damage control and just trying to manipulate things for political purposes to prevent the UN's reputation from being damaged, but with so much awful stuff happening to children and so many perpetrators of grotesque crimes at large, I will never understand this singular focus on one man who took a document that was going to end up in the hands of French authorities eventually anyway, and brought it directly to the French himself. To consider that the high crime among all these vicious, violent and disgusting crimes, makes absolutely no logical or ethical sense to me.
What in your eyes should be the next step in addressing this case?
I believe that all appropriate authorities with any wherewithal should conduct criminal investigations and ensure that as many children who were affected by these abuses or may still be affected by these abuses in CAR who can possibly be located, are located and assisted. That should happen immediately. It should be all hands on deck with the victims as the very first concern of everyone - from member states, from the French to other member states and to all branches of the United Nations that could be appropriately involved.
That's one thing. And on a parallel level, I think that the handling of this case and the tremendous numbers of sexual exploitations and abuse allegations throughout the world in peacekeeping operations are so miserably dealt with by the United Nations, they never ever seem to come to light unless the media gets involved and then suddenly there's a scramble to do the right thing or to control the damage. I think this needs a full commission of inquiry, completely independent of the UN, that will look into every aspect of sexual exploitation and abuse by both military and civilian peacekeeping personnel and all the headquarters and other staff who are supervising and running peacekeeping missions around the world. This all needs to be thoroughly investigated and looked into by an independent commission that member states should be calling for.
Paula Donovan is the co-director of AIDS-Free World.
Drone Nation
Dem proposes new 'hostage czar' after U.S. drone killed an American held by Al Qaeda
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:32
Sen. John Delaney (D-Md.) is planning to introduce legislation that would create a new ''hostage czar'' position in the federal government, in an effort to try harder to locate and recover American hostages.
Delaney's bill is a response to the accidental killing of Warren Weinstein in January by a U.S. drone strike against an Al Qaeda compound. Weinstein lived in Delaney's congressional district.
Warren Weinstein, a 72-year-old American development worker who was kidnapped in Pakistan by Al Qaeda in 2011, was accidentally killed in a U.S. drone strike in January. Now, a House Democrat wants to create a federal hostage czar to fight harder for the return of U.S. hostages held abroad. (AP Photo)
Delaney did not say his bill would look to return U.S. hostages by offering ransom, something most Republicans and Democrats agree should be avoided, since it would create an incentive to capture more hostages. But he did say other steps could be taken to help ensure the safety of U.S. hostages, including more aggressive action to find out where they are being held.
''Tragically, we were not able to bring Warren Weinstein home,'' Delaney said. ''We lost Warren 1,251 days after his capture. After 1,251 days we still didn't have the most important piece of information needed to begin to bring him home: we didn't know where he was.''
''In my view, we have to look at that hard fact and reform our practices and policies,'' he said. ''I believe a hostage czar is essential to an effective security operation.''
Delaney said his bill would require the czar to coordinate the work of various federal agencies to help find and retrieve hostages, and work on specific strategies for bringing them home.
The position would also create a single point of contact for the families of hostages. The czar would be allowed to keep these families informed with updates as long as they don't compromise U.S. intelligence activities.
US-led airstrikes 'kill 52 civilians in northern Syria' - Yahoo News
Sat, 02 May 2015 17:24
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Ministry of Truth
NBC's Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story is More Troubling than the Brian Williams Scandal - The Intercept
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:50
(updated below '' Update II)
Throughout 2012, numerous American factions were pushing for U.S. intervention in Syria to bring down the regime of Bashar Assad, who throughout the War on Terror had helped the U.S. in all sorts of ways, including torturing people for them. But by then, Assad was viewed mostly as an ally of Iran, and deposing him would weaken Tehran, the overarching regional strategy of the U.S. and its allies. The prevailing narrative was thus created that those fighting against Assad were ''moderate'' and even pro-Western groups, with the leading one dubbed ''the Free Syrian Army.''
Whether to intervene in Syria in alliance with or on behalf of the ''Free Syrian Army'' was a major debate in the West through the end of that year. Then-Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry was openly discussing ways for the U.S. to aid the rebels to bring about regime change. Sen. Joe Lieberman was saying: ''I hope the international community and the U.S. will provide assistance to the Syrian Free Army in the various ways we can.'' Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while ruling out direct military intervention, said: ''[W]e have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people's right to have a better future.''
A U.N. resolution calling for Assad to step down was supported by NATO states but vetoed by China and Russia, who were concerned that it would be depicted as a ''regime change'' endorsement to justify Western military intervention. By the following year, John Kerry, by then Obama's secretary of state, was arguing that direct U.S. military action in Syria against Assad '-- a full-scale bombing campaign '-- was a moral and strategic imperative.
As it turns out, the ''moderate'' ''Free Syrian Army'' was largely a myth. By far, the most effective fighting forces against Assad were anything but ''moderate,'' composed instead of various Al Qaeda manifestations and even more extreme elements. After the U.S. and its Gulf allies funded and armed those groups for a while, the U.S. did ultimately go to war in Syria, but more in alliance with Assad than against him.
In December 2012 '-- as the pro-intervention cause was strengthening '-- a group of five journalists working for NBC News, including its star international reporter Richard Engel, was kidnapped inside Syria. They were held for five days, threatened with death, treated inhumanely, and forced to record a video in which Engel was made to call for an end to U.S. involvement in Syria. Scrawled on the walls of the room where the video was recorded was graffiti of pro-Assad messages along with well-known Shiite references.
The obvious intent was to make it appear that these NBC journalists had been kidnapped and mistreated by Shiite forces associated with Assad. By all accounts, the kidnappers went to great lengths to make their hostages believe that as well, and they succeeded. Engel and his fellow captives believed (understandably) they had been kidnapped by pro-Assad forces, only to be rescued by brave and kind Sunni rebels who freed them. Once they were released, NBC said at first that the journalists had been ''kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group,'' but Engel quickly gave numerous interviews unequivocally stating that the captors were aligned with Assad and that he was rescued by anti-Assad forces. That then became unquestioned fact on NBC.
As but one of many appearances, Engel appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 21 and recounted in detail what happened. He described how he was in ''a very rebel-friendly area,'' traveling with a ''rebel commander'' and his team, when they were ''ambushed'' by ''government people'': pro-Assad forces. ''We knew it was government by what they were saying,'' Engel explained.
Engel then described how the rebel commander heroically tried to sacrifice his own life to save the journalists, but to no avail: the ''pro-government forces'' brutalized, tortured and threatened the reporters and even executed some of the rebels:
And so, we knew we were with pro-government forces. The rebel commander was saying to them, kill me, these guys are journalists, they have nothing to do with it. Kill me, I'm a rebel commander. Let them go '...
They drive from there to one of their safe houses, don't know exactly where, but roughly in this area up here. So it is a farm house. They take the guard, the rebel commander's guard out of the truck. Kill him. Execute him '...
And then they took all of us, including the rebel commander, in the safe house. He continually said let them go. '... We were here, they wanted to move us here, to Fou'a. And Fou'a is a place that is very hard core Shia, very loyal to the government. It's mostly surrounded by the rebels, it is being air-supplied by the Syrian government. '... So this is a hand-in-glove relationship between the government and this very nasty militia group.
The ordeal ended, Engel said, only when his pro-government captors accidentally ran into a rebel checkpoint, where the rebels heroically killed some of Assad's forces and freed the journalists, treating them with great compassion:
I don't know who are these guys and we talk to them a little bit and it was quite clear they were from the rebel group and they couldn't have been nicer to us. They were hard fighters, clearly good shots. '... And then they brought us back to the headquarters, gave us food and water, let us make a phone call. And then they escorted us personally to the border.
Three days earlier, in a December 18 appearance on Maddow's show, Engel '-- after describing how brutal and inhumane his captors were '-- actually linked them to both Iran and Hezbollah in response to a question from David Gregory:
I think I have a very good idea of who they were. This was a group known as the Shabiha. This is a government militia. These are people who are loyal to President Bashar al Assad. They are Shiite.
They were talking openly about their loyalty to the government, openly expressing their Shia faith. They are trained by Iranian revolutionary guard. They are allied with Hezbollah.
As Huffington Post's Michael Calderone details, Engel told this story in various ways in numerous different media forums.
There were ample reasons at the time to be suspicious that this was a scam (perpetrated on (not by) Engel and his fellow captives) to blame Assad for the abduction. There was skepticism expressed by some independent analysts '-- although not on NBC News. The truly brilliant political science professor and blogger As'ad AbuKhalil (who I cannot recommend enough be read every day) was highly skeptical from the start about the identity of Engel's captors, just as he was about the pro-intervention case in Syria and the nature of the ''Free Syrian Army'' generally (in August 2012 he told me: ''Syria is one of the biggest propaganda schemes of our time. When the dust settles, if it does, it will be revealed'').
On December 18 '-- the day the Engel story became public '-- Professor AbuKhalil published an email from ''a knowledgeable Western journalist'' pointing out numerous reasons to doubt that the kidnappers were aligned with Assad, including the fact that prior kidnappings had been falsely attributed to pro-Assad forces. He argued that the Engel abduction ''seems very much like a setup, like the kidnappers wanted him to think he was taken by Shiites.'' AbuKhalil himself examined the video and wrote:
I looked at the video and it is so clearly a set up and the slogans are so clearly fake and they intend to show that they were clearly Shi'ites and that they are savages. If this one is believable, I am posing as a dentist.
Of course, I am not saying that Engel was [in] on this plot. I think that they were really kidnapped but that the kidnappers of the Free Syrian Army typically lied to them about their identity, which has happened before.
Other knowledgeable bloggers raised all sorts of questions about whether Engel's captors were actually Sunni rebels posing as pro-Assad soldiers.
As it turns out, that seems to be exactly what happened. Last night, Engel posted a new statement on the NBC News website stating that, roughly one month ago, he had been contacted by The New York Times, which ''uncovered information that suggested the kidnappers were not who they said they were and that the Syrian rebels who rescued us had a relationship with the kidnappers.'' That inquiry from The NYT caused him to re-investigate the kidnapping, and he concluded that ''the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia'' and that ''the group that freed us'' '-- which he had previously depicted as heroic anti-Assad rebels '-- actually ''had ties to the kidnappers.''
That's all fair enough. Nobody can blame Engel '-- a courageous reporter, fluent in Arabic '-- for falling for what appears to be a well-coordinated ruse. Particularly under those harrowing circumstances, when he and his fellow captives believed with good reason that their lives were in immediate danger, it's completely understandable that he believed he had been captured by pro-Assad forces. There is no real evidence that Engel did anything wrong in recounting his ordeal.
But the same is most certainly not true of NBC News executives. In writing his new account, Engel does not mention the most important and most incriminating aspect of The New York Times reporting: that NBC officials knew at the time that there was reason to be highly skeptical of the identity of the captors, but nonetheless allowed Engel and numerous other NBC and MSNBC reporters to tell this story with virtually no questioning.
In a very well-reported article this morning, The NYT states that ''Mr. Engel's team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.'' That rebel group is ''known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade'' and is ''led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj.'' Amazingly, NBC executives knew that this was at least very possible even during Engel's kidnapping, and yet:
NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab's possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels's captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.
In other words, NBC executives at least had ample reason to suspect that it was anti-Assad rebels who staged the kidnapping, not pro-Assad forces. Yet they allowed Engel and numerous other NBC and MSNBC personalities repeatedly and unequivocally to blame the Assad regime and glorify the anti-Assad rebels, and worse, to link the hideous kidnapping to Iran and Hezbollah, all with no indication that there were other quite likely alternatives. NBC refused to respond to The NYT's questions about that (The Intercept's inquiries to NBC News were also not responded to at the time of publication, though any responses will be added (update: an NBC executive has refused to comment)).
The Brian Williams scandal is basically about an insecure, ego-driven TV star who puffed up his own war credentials by fabricating war stories: it's about personal foibles. But this Engel story is about what appears to be a reckless eagerness, if not deliberate deception, on the part of NBC officials to disseminate a dubious storyline which, at the time, was very much in line with the story that official Washington was selling (by then, Obama was secretly aiding anti-Assad rebels, and had just announced '' literally a week before the Engel kidnapping '-- ''that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country's legitimate representative''). Much worse, the NBC story was quite likely to fuel the simmering war cries in the West to attack (or at least aggressively intervene against) Assad.
That's a far more serious and far more consequential journalistic sin than a news reader puffing out his chest and pretending he's Rambo. Falsely and recklessly blaming the Assad regime for a heinous kidnapping of Western journalists and directly linking it to Iran and Hezbollah, while heralding the rebels as heroic and compassionate '-- during a brewing ''regime change'' and intervention debate '-- is on the level of Iraqi aluminum tubes.
At the very least, NBC owes a serious accounting for what happened here, yet thus far refuses to provide one (note how, as usual, the media outlets who love to sanctimoniously demand transparency from others refuse to provide even a minimal amount about themselves). There were '-- and are '-- a lot of shadowy interests eager to bring about regime change in Syria and to malign Iran and Hezbollah with false claims. Whether by intent or outcome, that's what this story did. If it was not only false at the time, NBC executives repeatedly broadcast it, but recklessly disseminated with ample reason to suspect its falsity, that is a huge journalistic scandal.
UPDATE: About this story, Professor AbuKhalil this morning emailed this comment about what happened here at NBC:
This is a culture: they all were part of a charade to promote and champion the Free Syrian Army when that very army was kidnapping innocent Lebanese Shi'ites and killing people on sectarian grounds. They didn't want to believe it.
He also passed a long an email from a Western correspondent based in the region, asking not to be identified, who said: ''Everybody knew that it was a Sunni group tied to the [Free Syrian Army] that had kidnapped [Engel] from the moment it happened: people were talking about it in South Turkey, journalists, opposition people.'' That's essentially what Professor AbuKhalil '-- and others '-- said at the time.
On a different note: as I noted above, Engel claimed repeatedly that the anti-Assad rebels killed some of his pro-government captors when rescuing him. He stated the same thing in a Vanity Fair article he wrote recounting his kidnapping. But as The New York Times notes today, Engel now acknowledges that he never saw a body:
UPDATE II: In addition to AbuKhalil and the other above-cited sources, The Daily Beast's Jamie Dettmer expressed serious doubts about the Engel/NBC story almost immediately. Writing on December 22, he said, among other things, that ''the NBC version '... omits much and is at odds with what security sources involved in the freeing of the group say happened,'' and that ''the gunmen who seized the crew may also have included rogue members of the rebel [Free Syrian Army] '' something top FSA commanders are keen to obscure.'' Moreover:
NBC's security advisers were convinced that there was some FSA involvement in this and contacted wealthy Syrian-American donors of the rebel group, pointing out that Richard had been supportive of the uprising against Assad.
That there was ample reason to doubt Engel's belief about the identity of his captors is proven by how many people publicly called it into doubt. That NBC's broadcasts reflected none of this doubt, and instead allowed a one-sided tale that we now know to be false to go unquestioned by the entire network is bad enough. That these executives seemed to have had ample reason to doubt the story themselves makes it far worse than just merely ''bad'': it is the type of systematic journalistic deceit and propaganda that we have seen over and over, almost always on the side and in service of the U.S. government's agenda of endless war.
Photo: Anadolu/AP TV
NA Book Club
Dear Adam and John,
Just a quick note for the NoAgenda bookclub, continuing John's
recommendations of Jacques Ellul.
You already have Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" on the NA
bookclub reading list but you might also like Neil Postman's
"Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology" which updates
J.Ellul's "The Technological Society" (and the sequel "The Technological
System").
Ellul can be heavy on the sociological jargon - and Postman's
"Technopoly" is for a more general audience so it might be more
accessible for the NA listeners.
Best wishes,
--adam muir
(NA Producer since 2010).
NA Tech News
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Tech news: report on the iPhone not auto correcting and S to an A
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Errata Security: Some notes on why crypto backdoors are unreasonable
Fri, 01 May 2015 18:38
Today, a congressional committee held hearings about 'crypto backdoors' that would allow the FBI to decrypt text messages, phone calls, and data on phones. The thing to note about this topic is that it's not anywhere close to reasonable public policy. The technical and international problems are unsolvable with anything close to the proposed policy. Even if the policy were reasonable, it's unreasonable that law enforcement should be lobbying for it.Crypto is end-to-endThe debate hinges on a huge fallacy, that it's about regulating industry, forcing companies like Apple to include backdoors. This makes it seem like it's a small law. The truth is that crypto is end-to-end. Apple sells a generic computer we hold in our hand. As a user, I can install any software I want on it -- including software that completely defeats any backdoor that Apple would install. Examples of such software would be Signal and Silent Circle.It seems reasonable that you could extend the law so that it covers any software provider. But that doesn't work, because software is often open-source, meaning that anybody can build their own app from it. Starting from scratch, it would take me about six-months to write my own app that would talk to other people using the ZRTP encryption standard.
Well, presumably if you couldn't regulate the software on the phone, you could regulate a service in the Internet. That doesn't work, either. Such services could be located in another country, because there are no real national borders in cyberspace. In any event, such services aren't "phone" services, but instead just "contact" services. They let people find each other, but they don't control the phone call. It's possible to bypass such services anyway, by either using a peer-to-peer contact system, or overloading something completely different, like DNS.
Like crypto, the entire Internet is based on the concept of end-to-end, where there is nothing special inside the network that provides a service you can regulate.
The point is this. Forcing Apple to insert a "Golden Key" into the iPhone looks reasonable, but the truth is the problem explodes to something far outside of any sort of reasonableness. It would mean outlawing certain kinds of code -- which is probably not possible in our legal system.
China and Russia want it, tooThe problem with forcing Apple to give a "Golden Key" to the US government is that all governments will want such a key, too. This includes repressive regimes like China and Russia.This risks balkanizing encrypted phone calls. The Internet knows no national borders. I regularly make calls around the world using encrypted voice apps like Signal. When each country passes backdoor laws, they'll all do it differently, and they'll all break. In some cases, it'll be impossible to call another country with compatible software.This will make travel difficult. Last time I was in Japan, I used Signal to call back to the United States, using the local wifi, purely to avoid roaming charges (not even caring that it was encrypted). This sort of thing would now be illegal, because while I might have the FBI's Golden Keys installed on the phone, I wouldn't have Japan's. They would notice, and come arrest me.Even if you could get all this worked out, standardizing things, making this automatic, you've now got a hundred countries with their finger in the pie. There's no way to make this work.China and Russia want it, too (part two)The FBI's testimony stressed that they would only use the Golden Key with a lawful warrant with full Fourth Amendment protections. So would the law enforcement agencies of China and Russia -- only their lawful warrants include suppression of political dissent.Here's the deal: in the modern world where electronics are the only means of communication, crypto backdoors can make dissent nearly impossible. We saw that in Soviet Union, where even things like copy machines were tightly controlled by the state. Like it or not, the United States sets the agenda on freedom around the world. Our policy must be in support of strong crypto around the world, so that citizen's can hide data from repressive governments. There is no way to have a backdoor for United States communications while opposing backdoors elsewhere.Our country really isn't trustworthyThe elephant in the room during today's testimony is that our government really isn't as trustworthy as we'd like. It's more than just the Snowden revelations of mass surveillance of phone records.Law enforcement used "Stingray"-like devices over 100,000 times last year to intercept mobile phones. Yet, this was challenged in court zero times. Most of the time they hide from defendants that Stingrays were even used, and in the few cases where defendants challenged them, they simply dropped the case rather than expose their use.As the congressional probing demonstrated, the FBI is gathering everyone's cell location records all the time. While they don't know your exact location, they do know within a few blocks. Again, this is all secret, and not accountable to the public.The United States jails 10 time more of its people (as a percentage) than other free countries, more even than China or Russia. With 5% of the world's population we have 30% of the world's prisoners behind bars. A big piece of Hillary Clinton's 2016 platform is getting these people out of jail. It's also important to the Koch brothers (the other side of the political spectrum) -- they recently removed criminal background from application forms for their companies.We have a long way to go to reform law enforcement in this country. It's not reasonable at this time to give them vast new powers that totalitarian regimes drool over.It's improper for them to askToday's testimony by the FBI and the DoJ discussed the tradeoffs between privacy and protection. Victims of crimes, those who get raped and murdered, deserve to have their killers brought to justice. That criminals get caught dissuades crime. Crypto makes prosecuting criminals harder.That's all true, and that's certainly the argument victim rights groups should make when lobbying government. But here's the thing: it's not the FBI's job to care. We, the people, make the decision about these tradeoffs. It's solely we, the people, who are the constituents lobbying congress. The FBI's job is to do what we tell them. They aren't an interested party. Sure, it's their job to stop crime, but it's also their job to uphold rights. They don't have an opinion, by definition, which one takes precedence over the other -- congress makes that decision.Yet, in this case, they do have an opinion. The only reason the subcommittee held hearings today is in response to the FBI lobbying for backdoors. Even if this issue were reasonable, it's not reasonable that the FBI should lobby for it.ConclusionI'm a big fan of the idea that reasonable people can disagree, that there are two sides to every debate. This applies to even rancorous debates like abortion and global warming. On many issues, I defend the reasonableness of the opposing side: while I disagree with their policy, I agree that it's not unreasonable. I point this out to stress the fact that I'm not calling this policy unreasonable simply because I disagree with it.It's not merely a matter of forcing Apple to provide the FBI a Golden Key, because users would still encrypt anyway, and Russia would want their own Golden Key. Solving those problems means a public policy that looks nothing like the original one proposed. While it's reasonable for the people to bring up the subject, it's wholly unreasonable for the FBI. They serve us, they should stop acting like we serve them.
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The Internet could reach its limit in just eight years, warn engineers | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:23
Internet speeds have increased by 50-fold in the last decade alone Optical fibres have reached capacity and cannot transfer any more lightLaying down more cables may solve problem but this will increase costs'It is harder and harder to keep ahead,' said Professor Andrew EllisBy Ben Spencer Science Reporter For The Daily Mail
Published: 19:28 EST, 1 May 2015 | Updated: 05:11 EST, 2 May 2015
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The internet is heading towards a 'capacity crunch' as it fails to keep up with our demand for ever faster data, scientists have warned.
Leading engineers, physicists and telecoms firms have been summoned to a meeting at London's Royal Society later this month, to discuss what can be done to avert a web crisis.
The boom of internet television, streaming services and ever-more powerful computers has increased the strain on our communications infrastructure.
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The internet is heading towards a 'capacity crunch' as it fails to keep up with our demand for ever faster data, scientists have warned. The cables and fibre optics that send information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit within eight years, experts say
The cables and fibre optics that send information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit within eight years, experts warn.
So far, engineers have managed to keep ahead of demand, increasing internet speeds 50-fold in the last decade alone.
HOW THE WEB COULD COLLAPSEThe cables and fibre optics that send information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit.
Experts warn science has reached its limit and that fibre optics can take no more data from a single optical fibre.
The internet companies could always put down additional cables - but that will mean higher bills.
Experts say we could be faced with paying double or will have to put up with an internet that switches off intermittently.
Storing information in large 'server farms', rather than transferring it, would take the strain off the network.
In 2005, broadband internet had a maximum speed of 2 Megabits per second. Today 100Mb-per-second download speeds are available in many parts of the country.
But experts warn that science has reached its limit - that fibre optics can take no more data.
The result, according to Professor Andrew Ellis, who has co-organised the Royal Society meeting on May 11, will be higher internet bills.
Professor Ellis, of Aston University in Birmingham, told the Daily Mail: 'We are starting to reach the point in the research lab where we can't get any more data into a single optical fibre.
'The intensity is the same as if you were standing right up against the sun.
'The deployment to market is about six to eight years behind the research lab - so within eight years that will be it, we can't get any more data in.
'Demand is increasingly catching up. It is growing again and again, and it is harder and harder to keep ahead.
'We have done very well for many years to keep ahead. But we are getting to that point where we can't keep going for ever.
'Unless we come forward with really radical ideas, we are going to see costs dramatically increase.'
Optical fibres are flexible, transparent strands the thickness of a piece of a human hair. Information is transformed into light, sent down the fibre, and then transformed back into information.
Until now, internet firms have simply sent more and more data down the single fibre as demand rises. But optical fibres have reached their physical capacity, they cannot transfer any more light.
Professor Ellis thinks that within eight years, we will have reached our limit.
What the Internet really looks like: Each yellow line is one of the major fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic around the world. These are the 'plumbing' of the internet, and many are routed undersea
The internet companies could always put down additional cables - but that will mean higher bills.
'If you put down a second line, it doubles the cost,' Professor Ellis said.
'That is a completely different business model. I think a conversation is needed with the British public as to whether or not they are prepared to switch that business model in exchange for more capacity.
'Are we prepared to pay more? Or should we stop expanding capacity and put up with Netflicks juddering?'
The professor warned that it also takes a huge amount of electricity to transfer data.
'The internet uses the same energy as the airline industry - about two per cent of a developed country's entire energy consumption,' he said.
'That is just for the data transfer. If you then add the computers, the phones, the television, then it is up to eight per cent of the country's energy consumption.'
Every time internet speed increases, the electricity it takes to transfer the power also rises.
Professor Ellis said: 'That is quite a huge problem. If we have multiple fibres to keep up, we are going to run out of energy in about 15 years.
Government invests into superfast broadband to boost achievement
Optical fibres are flexible, transparent strands the thickness of a piece of a human hair. Information is transformed into light, sent down the fibre, and then transformed back into information. Until now, internet firms have simply sent more and more data down the single fibre as demand rises
'The public needs to decide whether they want to use their precious wind turbine electricity on electric cars, or on more internet.
'We need to start this discussion now.'
Not everyone, however, is convinced of the severity of the situation.
Andrew Lord, head of optical research at BT and a visiting professor at Essex University, insists scientists will come up with a solution.
Professor Lord, who will address the Royal Society meeting, said storing information in large 'server farms', rather than transferring it, would take the strain off the network.
'The internet is not about to collapse,' he said. 'It has a lot of bandwidth left in it.'
A spokesman for the Royal Society said: 'Communication networks face a potentially disastrous 'capacity crunch' as demand for data online outstrips the capacity of the optical fibres that carry internet signals.
'This meeting brings together experts to discuss why we're heading towards a capacity crunch, what can be done to avert it, and the impact if we do nothing: data rationing, the end of net neutrality and rising costs for going online.'
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Fort Huachuca bids farewell to Morse code training | Article | The United States Army
Sun, 03 May 2015 14:16
David Germain, chief of Morse code training on Fort Huachuca, Ariz., explains the history of the course and the transfer of the training to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.
Morse code training equipment from various eras of instruction are displayed on Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Air Force Airmen Bryce Hatler and Seth Jones practice their Morse code skills. Both Airmen are enrolled in the last Morse code training class on Fort Huachuca, Ariz., which began April 24, 2015.
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (April 27, 2015) -- It is the end of an era on Fort Huachuca. The last manual Morse code class began here, April 27. In the future, the course will be taught by the Air Force on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.
National Morse Code Day is celebrated on what would have been its founder's 224th birthday. Samuel F. B. Morse dispatched the first telegraph message in Morse code, May 24, 1844. The message, "What Hath God Wrought?" was dispatched from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to Alfred Vail at a railroad station in Baltimore.
The military first used Morse code during the Crimean War. Both the Union and Confederate armies heavily relied on Morse code during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln utilized it to receive military intelligence, as well as command and control his generals in the field.
Even in the increasingly high-tech world, there is still a need for this old-school mode of communication, said David Germain, chief of Morse code training and sole remaining civilian Morse code instructor at the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion.
"We train [for] Morse code because the adversary still uses Morse code," said Germain, who, along with another course instructor, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Henrichs, are training two airmen to serve as Morse code instructors in Texas.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Kilcrease agrees there is a continued need for Morse code training. "It remains the cheapest and most reliable means of communication."
Senior Airman James Gosnell, also training to become a new instructor, learned Morse code on Fort Huachuca and upon completion of his training was assigned to Osan Air Force Base, South Korea, for two years. He said the assignment was challenging. "It took me nearly two months to get up to speed learning to keep up with some of the fastest transmitters in the world," he said.
In a memo signed April 5, 1985, the Army became the executive agency for conducting the Morse code course on Fort Devens, Massachusetts. A few years later, Fort Devens consolidated Morse code training into a joint learning environment by providing training to Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.
In 1993, the Morse code course moved to Fort Huachuca, where it continued to be trained in a joint environment. The Army celebrated 30 years of being the executive agency to conduct Morse code training, April 5.
Throughout the years, the Navy and Marines reversed the training pipeline and started to send their students to Pensacola, Florida, and then to Fort Huachuca to attend Morse code training. In 2006, the Air Force followed suit.
In late 2004, early 2005, the Department of Defense sent out a message stating there was no longer a need or requirement for operators trained in only Morse code. Based on that message, the Navy no longer sent their students to Fort Huachuca to be trained - deciding instead to conduct its training in Pensacola. By 2007, the Marines also stopped attending Morse code training on Fort Huachuca.
That same year, the training consolidated two separate courses - the basic Morse code training course and the advanced Morse code training course from 22 weeks to 16 weeks. The cut in training time for the Army was due to the course not being considered as a primary military occupation specialty, but as a secondary training for three Army specialties. In 1991, the course trained an average 1,600 students annually for all the military services.
The current Morse code course is self-paced and requires 81 days for completion. However, a student successfully completed it in a record 27 days.
Master Sgt. Adella Creque, superintendent, 316th Training Squadron, said the course is hard because a student has to master one segment before moving on to the next and may fail several times before advancing.
In 2012, the Army stopped enrolling students in the Morse code course since it no longer has a requirement to train Soldiers. A cooperative agreement between the Air Force and Army allowed the training to continue on Fort Huachuca until now.
"I think [Morse code] will always be out there," Germain said. "It's cheap, easy, effective and reliable to use. There will always be a need for it."
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VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
AUDIO-The Racially Charged Meaning Behind The Word 'Thug' : NPR
Sun, 03 May 2015 14:07
NPR's Melissa Block speaks to John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, about the use of the word "thug" to describe Baltimore rioters.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A certain five-letter word has been used repeatedly over the last few days.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: ...The thugs who only want to incite violence...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: ...Our city of Baltimore to be taken over by thugs...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: ...And thugs who tore up the place.
BLOCK: Thugs, the word chosen by President Obama, Maryland's governor, Baltimore's mayor and others to describe those who looted and burned stores in Baltimore and in some cases that were later retracted with an apology. So why is thug so charged? John McWhorter has been thinking about this. He teaches linguistics at Columbia University and often writes about language and race. Welcome back to the program.
JOHN MCWHORTER: Thank you, Melissa.
BLOCK: John, I've been looking at the Merriam-Webster definition of thug, and it describes it as a brutal ruffian or assassin. What's the origin of this word?
MCWHORTER: Well, the word originates in India as a word for roughly that. And because the British ran India for a good long time, the word jumped the rails from Indian languages to English, and that's the reason that we in America have used the word for a very long time. And until rather recently, it did mean what you might call a ruffian, but of course, things have changed.
BLOCK: Well, how have they changed?
MCWHORTER: Well, the truth is that thug today is a nominally polite way of using the N-word. Many people suspect it, and they are correct. When somebody talks about thugs ruining a place, it is almost impossible today that they are referring to somebody with blond hair. It is a sly way of saying there go those black people ruining things again. And so anybody who wonders whether thug is becoming the new N-word doesn't need to. It's most certainly is.
BLOCK: Although, if you think about it, I mean, in two of the pieces of tape that we played, we heard from an African-American mayor of Baltimore and an African-American president of the United States using that word.
MCWHORTER: Yep, and that is because just like the N-word, we have another one of these strangely bifurcated words. Thug in the black community, for about the past 25 to 30 years, has also meant ruffian, but there is a tinge of affection. A thug in black people's speech is somebody who is a ruffian but in being a ruffian is displaying a healthy sort of countercultural initiative, displaying a kind of resilience in the face of racism etc. Of course nobody puts it that way, but that's the feeling. And so when black people say it, they don't mean what white people mean, and that's why I think Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Barack Obama saying it means something different from the white housewife wherever who says it.
BLOCK: You're saying that African-American, in this case, politicians, who use the word thug should be given a pass because they understand it in a different way? I mean, the mayor certainly walked back her use of the word. She didn't want to be associated with it. She said, you know, I spoke out of frustration. They're really misguided young people.
MCWHORTER: No because I think that if an African-American woman uses the word thug today, we're not always conscious of all of these overtones in the words that we use. But I think that when she said that, she didn't mean it the same way as her white equivalent would. The word means two things, just like the N-word. And I think all of us are sophisticated enough to wrap our heads around that.
BLOCK: When do you see a turning point in how the word thug is used in our culture?
MCWHORTER: Well, it seems to have made a major change with the rise in popularity and cultural influence of rap music and the iconography connected with that. I would say that the word thug in the black community had a very different meaning by 1990 than it had had in 1980. But that thug image has never been a purely negative model. It's always been part ruffian and part hero.
BLOCK: I'm thinking of Tupac Shakur who had thug life tattooed across his stomach, I think.
MCWHORTER: Exactly, and Tupac Shakur is thought of as a god by many people. If he was a thug, then clearly if a black person says thugs were messing up the neighborhood, then they mean something other than reprehensible, shall we say, N-word. We have different races in this country, and different races have different ways of using language. Thug ends up straddling different subcultures.
BLOCK: The word thug also - I can think of a number of other applications. I mean, folks on the far right might talk about jackbooted government thugs coming to take over our communities
MCWHORTER: That was the original meaning. It changed though. One of the things that Americans have a whole lot of trouble with - actually, that people in developed societies with written languages have trouble with - is that words never keep their meanings over time. A word is a thing on the move. A word is a process. And that's what's so confusing about the N-word. And that's what's so confusing now about this word, thug. Any discussion where we pretend that it only means one thing is just going to lead to dissension and confusion.
BLOCK: There are a lot of people now, John, who are saying, you know, why - and probably listening to this conversation saying, why are you talking about the meaning of this word, thug? That is really the wrong question to be asking and the wrong thing to be focusing on right now.
MCWHORTER: (Laughter). Well, to tell you the truth, my interest in all of these events is what made these whatever-you-want-to-call-thems rise up the way they did. And as far as I'm concerned, I feel that although the rioters were not articulate - they were not performing anything that I would call an exactly coherent action, the fact that this has happened is symptomatic of severe problems in Baltimore and similar cities. And the problem is the relationship between the police and young black men. Now, is it justified to tear up your own neighborhood to protest against it? I would say not. But the fact that it's happened is something that I think we can use as a possible turning point because I really believe that if a generation of young black men grew up in this country without thinking of the cops as the enemy, then America would really start turning a corner on race.
But nevertheless, thug is an interesting word, and to the extent that we need to be able to hear it as more than some antique, static, dictionary definition, then I think that that's part of the process of healing as well. Black people saying thug is not like white people saying thug.
BLOCK: John McWhorter, thanks for talking to us.
MCWHORTER: Thank you.
BLOCK: John McWhorter teaches linguistics, American studies and music at Columbia University. His latest book is "The Language Hoax."
Copyright (C) 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.
VIDEO-FBI director visits El Paso, says reports of ISIS camp across border are 'nonsense' | Latest News - Home
Sun, 03 May 2015 13:03
Published On: Apr 29 2015 08:07:13 PM CDT Updated On: Apr 29 2015 09:36:31 PM CDT
Reporter: Andrew J. Polk
EL PASO, Texas -The director of the FBI was in the Borderland Wednesday, visiting the El Paso field offices for the second time in his tenure.
Director James Comey met with local law enforcement leaders from across the region. He talked about the Islamic State, or ISIL as the FBI calls it, and the threat it poses around the world. He specifically addressed the rumored threat across the border from El Paso.
"I know since there's been a lot of attention to this in the media that has reached my eyes and ears in Washington," Comey said. "The media reports on if there is an ISIL camp across the border here in El Paso? Nonsense. Not true. It frustrates me a little bit because my folks have to run out such things, because we do run out every tip to make sure there isn't something to it. There is nothing to it."
Comey also discussed FBI work along with other agencies on public corruption and human trafficking in our region and nationally.
AUDIO-GOP Congressman: "We Know" There Are ISIS Camps Just Across The Border In Mexico - BuzzFeed News
Sun, 03 May 2015 13:00
Republican Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said ''we know'' that there are ISIS camps in Mexico within eight miles of the United States.
Salmon made the claim on Sean Hannity's radio program during a discussion about a drug tunnel found in Naco, Arizona.
''And we don't have a clue, have they done any investigation to determine whether foreign agents of terrorism have used the tunnel to get into the United States. We know there are ISIS camps'...,'' Salmon told Hannity in response to a a question about if the tunnel had been tested for biological or chemical weapons.
''Eight miles,'' interjected Hannity.
''That's right, within 8 miles,'' said Salmon. ''Do we know that any of them didn't come across? Now, the president grandstands, he did during the discussion about Homeland Security when we were trying to defund his illegal amnesty plan. He grandstanded about how we were jeopardizing national security, and is this the way they conduct national security? On a wink and a nod? And they either knew about it, which one of their folks says they did, and order people not to be near it, for reasons I can only assume, and they're not the best of assumptions.''
''Or they didn't know about it and they found out on this drug bust, and when they did find out about it, they're not letting anybody know if they've done any forensics, and if they have done forensics, what they found out.''
The claim that there are ISIS camps in Mexico seems to have originated from a report by the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, which cited anonymous sources as saying that ISIS is operating a camp around eight miles from the U.S. border near Ciudad Jurez.
The claim has been denied by the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C., the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the National Security Council, according to the fact-checking site Politifact, which rated the claim ''false.''
The U.S. State Department called the claim ''unfounded.''
Several days ago FBI Director James Comey called the claim ''nonsense, not true'' when visiting El Paso.
''I know since there's been a lot of attention to this in the media that has reached my eyes and ears in Washington,'' Comey said. ''The media reports on if there is an ISIL camp across the border here in El Paso? Nonsense. Not true. It frustrates me a little bit because my folks have to run out such things, because we do run out every tip to make sure there isn't something to it. There is nothing to it.''
Salmon said the lack of answers about the tunnel frustrated him as a member of Congress because it was hard to do oversight.
''Now how in the world is a member of Congress who's supposed to do oversight, how in the world are we supposed to make intelligent decisions about where we're spending our money and whether it's the right place and we're doing the right things if we can't even get answers to basic things like did they bring a weapon of mass destruction through that tunnel,'' added Salmon.
Salmon raised the concerns in a letter to Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson posted on his website.
Last year, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks claimed, ''it is true, that we know that ISIS is present in Ciudad Juarez or they were within the last few week.'' The Department of Homeland Security said then that this claim was not credible.
A spokesman for Salmon didn't return a request for comment on his source for the Islamic State camps claim.
VIDEO-Europe - Airbus to file complaint in Germany over alleged NSA spying - France 24
Sun, 03 May 2015 06:53
(C) Christof Stache, AFP | Archival picture shows workers at an Airbus helicopter plant in Donauwoerth, Germany in October 2014
''We've asked the government for more information,'' an Airbus spokesman in Germany said. ''We will launch a complaint against an unknown person on suspicion of industrial espionage.''
Earlier, when asked about the reports on a call with reporters following first-quarter results, Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said he wasn't surprised that Airbus, as a major aerospace and defence company, could be the target of spying efforts.
The reports by Der Spiegel magazine have caused consternation in Germany, where surveillance is a sensitive topic because of historic abuses by the Nazi security services and the East German Communists.
When allegations emerged in 2013 that the United States had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, she declared that ''spying among friends is not at all acceptable''.
Der Spiegel reported in its online edition that officials of Germany's BND intelligence service indirectly helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on European targets, including German interests, over a period of more than 10 years.
It said BND officials passed Internet IP addresses as well as mobile phone numbers to the NSA.
On Wednesday Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close Merkel ally, denied that he lied to parliament about German intelligence cooperation with US spy agencies.
German media also reported that BND officials helped US agencies spy on the French president's office, the foreign ministry in Paris and the European Commission.
Asked about the allegations, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a news conference in Brussels that he had once proposed that the Commission should have its own secret service ''because the agents are here'', although he did not know if German spies were active in the Belgian capital.
Juncker, who headed a Luxembourg government that was brought down by a spying and corruption scandal in 2013, said he knew from personal experience that secret services were very difficult to keep under control.
(REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-05-01
VIDEO-Lawyer billy murphy the new jim crow - YouTube
Sun, 03 May 2015 05:13
VIDEO-CNN Interviews Billy Murphy, Jr., About Freddie Gray
Sun, 03 May 2015 05:04
CNN Interviews Billy Murphy, Jr., About Freddie GrayApril 20, 2015Founding Partner Judge William H. ''Billy'' Murphy, Jr. is representing the family of Freddie Gray, the young man who died while in Baltimore Police custody. In this interview with CNN, Judge Murphy speaks about the information released by the police thus far, and how he hopes the city's new chief prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, will proceed.
''She comes to the office with a belief in the integrity of these kinds of investigations. We have much more confidence in her than we have in the police, because there's never been any level of confidence'--nor should there be'--in the police investigating themselves.''
Judge Murphy continues, ''Bear in mind that Baltimore has a sorry history of police brutality. And an even sorrier history in terms of a governmental response to police brutality.''
The Gray family is currently awaiting the autopsy results and the outcome of the Baltimore Chief Prosecutor's investigation.
Murphy, Falcon & Murphy wishes to express deepest condolences to the family of Freddie Gray, and our hope that the truth will finally be told.
News
VIDEO-Who is Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby? - The Washington Post
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:48
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby is 35 years old and has only been in office since January. The Washington Post's John Woodrow Cox explains who she is and the critical role she has in prosecuting the six police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)
BALTIMORE '-- Not long before Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby shocked the nation Friday with her decision to charge the six officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest, she texted her mother.
''Heads up,'' she wrote. ''National media is focusing on me.''
''You'll be all right,'' Linda Thompson said she replied.
''I know,'' her daughter responded.
That confidence was on full display as Mosby '-- who is just 35 and has been on the job for less than four months '-- stood on the Baltimore War Memorial's steps and methodically detailed the case against the officers. With a vigor seldom seen from officials handling the aftermath of Gray's death, Mosby's 16-minute statement suddenly made her a star on television and social media, a champion to those who have demanded justice for Gray and a source of outrage to police, who questioned the swiftness of her decision and her motives for bypassing a grand jury.
Marilyn Mosby Baltimore City state's attorney, says city police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray will face criminal charges, including homicide. (Reuters)
[Six officers charged in Freddie Gray's death]
Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after suffering a severe spine injury while in police custody. His death has touched off days of unrest in Baltimore.
Mosby, a political novice and the African American daughter and granddaughter of police officers, ousted a white incumbent in last year's Democratic primary by promising to hold police accountable. She echoed that sentiment Friday as she talked about Gray's relatives.
''I assured the family,'' she said, ''that no one was above the law.''
Along with a deluge of praise came a barrage of criticism.
Among the raps: She has little experience prosecuting homicides or police misconduct, according to two Baltimore defense lawyers, one of whom worked with Mosby during her five years as an assistant state's attorney. Efforts to reach Mosby for comment on Friday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Michael Davey, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore, called Friday's charges an ''egregious rush to judgment.'' He expressed skepticism that the investigation could be completed in two weeks when it involves six officers and charges that range from misconduct in office to second-degree murder.
Gene Ryan, a police union leader, called for Mosby to appoint a special prosecutor, citing in a letter ''the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case.''
He pointed to Mosby's relationship with William H. ''Billy'' Murphy Jr., the attorney for Gray's family. On Friday night, Murphy said her decision to file charges ''has given the family hope.''
Murphy raised money for Mosby's campaign and was a member of her transition team, according to Ivan Bates, a former prosecutor and longtime Baltimore defense lawyer. Maryland campaign finance records show Murphy contributed $5,000 to her campaign.
The police union also donated to Mosby, giving her $3,250, records show.
Ryan's letter also focused on Mosby's husband, Nick, a member of the Baltimore City Council who represents the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray was arrested. His political future, the letter said, ''will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation.''
At her news conference, Mosby was asked whether her husband's job presented any potential conflicts. She sharply denied that any existed.
Former Baltimore mayor Kurt L. Schmoke (D), who served on Mosby's transition team, dismissed the criticism.
''The call for her to step aside is misguided,'' said Schmoke, a former state's attorney and now president of the University of Baltimore. ''There is no basis in fact to question her integrity or independence in this matter.''
Mosby, who has two young daughters, comes from a family steeped in law enforcement experience. Her mother, her grandfather and two of her uncles were police officers in Boston.
''She always wanted to be an attorney and work for the community,'' said Thompson, her mother. ''The world's her stage right now, and she's shining like a star.''
Mosby grew up in Boston and knew by age 6 that she wanted a career in law.
After Mosby badly cut her knee in a yard littered with broken glass, her mother sued the landlord. On their day in court, the judge looked down at the youngster.
''Hi, little girl,'' her mother remembered the judge saying. ''What do you want to be when you grow up?''
Mosby didn't hesitate: ''A judge.''
Her interest in the law intensified when a 17-year-old cousin was shot and killed as he sat on a bike in the driveway of their grandparents' Boston home in 1994.
The slaying of Diron Spence '-- apparently a case of mistaken identity '-- captivated Boston and stunned Mosby, who was 14. In past interviews, she has said it helped motivate her to become a lawyer.
[Here's how rare it is for police officers to get charged in a death]
Thompson, who was 17 when Mosby was born, raised her daughter as a single mother, with help from her parents.
Mosby grew up in a largely black, working-class Boston neighborhood. She was bused to a mostly white school, where she occasionally faced racism, her mother said, but also learned to adapt.
She was bright and always strong-willed. ''She would think she could tell me what to do at times,'' Thompson said. ''And she still does at times. I have to put her in check.''
Thompson bought her daughter books on black history, and Mosby read them voraciously. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Freddie Gray, became a role model.
Mosby's late grandfather, who was a policeman for more than two decades, functioned as a father figure.
''He was the daddy she didn't have,'' Thompson said. ''He was a big man with a big heart.''
Mosby attended Tuskegee University in Alabama, where she met her husband. After graduation, she applied to Boston College Law School but was initially rejected.
Thompson encouraged her to look elsewhere, but Mosby wrote e-mails, letters and called '-- daily '-- until she was admitted.
She went on to clerk at U.S. attorney's offices in Boston and Washington, then joined the Baltimore state's attorney's office as a law clerk in 2005 and moved up the ranks. She left at the end of 2011 to work for an insurance company.
Douglas F. Gansler, then Maryland's attorney general, wanted to hire Mosby to investigate insurance cases. To his surprise, she turned him down to run for office.
She took on the incumbent state's attorney, Greg Bernstein, who raised three times as much money as she did. But her campaign's focus on the city's persistently high murder rate and police misconduct allegations resonated with voters.
The day after she was inaugurated on Jan. 8, she brought manslaughter charges against a top Episcopal bishop accused of hitting a bicyclist while driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving.
[Maryland Episcopal bishop faces manslaughter, DUI charges]
Mosby moved the case against Heather Elizabeth Cook from District Court, where it was a traffic matter, to circuit court, where she was charged with manslaughter in the death of Thomas Palermo, a father of two. Cook was defrocked this week. A trial on the manslaughter charge has been set for June.
But Gray's death represents her biggest test in office.
A week ago, her 77-year-old grandmother, also named Marilyn, asked Mosby what she felt about the case.
''You can't go on your feelings,'' she recalled Mosby saying. ''You have to go on the evidence.''
Del. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore) said the nerve Mosby showed Friday will quiet those who doubted her experience.
''Anybody who had questions about her readiness or preparedness for the job, she showed that she is competent and capable,'' Carter said. ''There is always a tendency to underestimate the young, a woman, a black woman.''
Carl Stokes, who serves with Mosby's husband on the City Council, said the case has placed the young state's attorney on a national stage. How high she rises, he said, will depend on the case's outcome.
''Now she has to show her office can handle the prosecution,'' Stokes (D) said, ''so at the end of the day we have a conviction.''
But on Friday night, at the West Baltimore intersection where riots exploded, Massieka Holness joined an exultant crowd focused only on celebrating the charges and a belief that justice was served. The 32-year-old bartender held up a piece of cardboard with a message written in black marker: ''Marilyn Mosby 4 Mayor.''
John Woodrow Cox is part of The Post's local enterprise team.
Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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VIDEO-Jake Tapper Asks O'Malley If Baltimore 'Shows that Liberal Policies Are Failing Urban America' | MRCTV
Sun, 03 May 2015 04:45
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
During an exclusive interview with former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday's edition of The Lead on CNN, host Jake Tapper asked the possible presidential candidate for what he thinks of ''conservatives who say, this shows that liberal policies are failing urban America.''
In addition to discussing the protests and rioting in Baltimore and what was then known about the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, Tapper shifted from that to discussing his record as mayor in context of what's taken place over the last week in the Charm City.
VIDEO-West Wing Week: 05/01/2015 or, ''I Think That Works!'' | The White House
Sun, 03 May 2015 03:15
This week, the President hosted the Japanese Prime Minister, joked around at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal, visited the Lincoln Memorial, took a walk with the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, and participated in a ''virtual field trip.'' That's April 24th to April 30th or, ''I Think That Works!''
VIDEO-Airbus wants answers from Germany over U.S. spying claims - Apr. 30, 2015
Sun, 03 May 2015 02:34
The aviation group, based in France, said it would file a criminal complaint about suspected industrial espionage in an attempt to force an explanation from Berlin.
"After all this reporting, with no clarification, it's time to file that application for investigation in order to find out what happened," said Airbus(EADSF) Group CEO Tom Enders on CNN's Quest Means Business.
"We have heard nothing from the German government so far, so there are plenty of questions...we are asking for a normal thing -- for clarification and investigation."
Earlier this week, Germany's Bild newspaper reported that U.S. spy agencies had targeted Airbus and other companies for years, and that the German government had been aware of it since 2008.
Germany's S¼ddeutsche Zeitung said that the NSA had used a German intelligence service listening post to spy on European countries for more than a decade. It said the main targets were senior officials in the French foreign ministry, the office of the French president, and the European Commission. Some companies were also targeted, it said.
The new claims of cooperation with the U.S. in spying activities are putting pressure on the German government, which has for years characterized itself as a victim of snooping. In 2013, the U.S. came under fire for allegedly tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.
Related: Is the government spying on you? Find out
Airbus is the only serious rival to Boeing(BA) in the large jet airliner market. The competition is fierce, and the companies have accused each other of receiving illegal state aid in the past.
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it does collect information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing.
"What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line," it said in a statement.
"Nobody knows right now what the truth is," Enders said. "If there's so much smoke, I guess there must be some fire somewhere."
Related: Fearing United plane was hacked, FBI pulls security expert off flight
-- CNNMoney's Mark Thompson and CNN's Evan Perez contributed to this article.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong)May 1, 2015: 10:36 AM ET
VIDEO-Warren Buffett defends Clayton Homes against claims of predatory lending
Sun, 03 May 2015 02:10
Warren Buffett unapologetically defended Berkshire Hathaway's lending unit on Saturday from accusations of predatory lending, telling CNBC in an interview that he's never even received as much as "one letter of complaint" about its practices.
Meanwhile, one of the world's wealthiest men also proved he can win even when he's doesn't try. Buffett told CNBC he wasn't following this year's Kentucky Derby, yet managed to correctly predict the contest's winner hours before the race was even decided.
In April, two published reports implied Clayton Homes might be fleecing struggling home owners, and suggested that buyers were being saddled with high borrowing costs and houses with falling values. Buffett, however, had a different take, and used the occasion of Berkshire's annual meeting to break his silence on the controversy.
"We are not forcing loans on anybody. If they had a loan with us they didn't like, they can pass off and borrow from somebody else," Buffett told CNBC on the sidelines of the company's meeting. "We have 300,000 loans on the books and in the last 3 years I've not received one letter of complaint from anybody."
Read MoreWorking for Buffett like a 'marriage': BNSF chief
At the meeting, Buffett said that many of Clayton's buyers posed higher risks, and charging them higher interest rates was justified.
"It's true that manufactured housing hits the lower end of the market," he said, adding that Clayton actually helps borrowers by providing reasonable loan terms.
He told CNBC that in certain cases, Clayton Homes has worked to modify loan terms for strapped borrowers.
VIDEO-Daily Press Briefing - April 29, 2015
Sun, 03 May 2015 01:36
1:42 p.m. EDT
MS HARF: Good afternoon, and welcome to the daily press briefing. I have a couple items at the top, so bear with me. First, in the State Department's Free the Press campaign '' and I think we have some photos, hopefully, coming up '' we have two cases for today's Free the Press campaign.
The first comes from Russian-occupied Crimea, where de facto authorities have shut down 11 of the 12 Crimean Tatar media outlets, including ATR TV '' I think it's up behind me now '' the last independent television station serving the Crimean Tatar population. Occupation authorities also have banned most Ukrainian language programming, replacing content with Russian programming. These restrictions on media freedom are part of a worsening situation that demonstrates Russia's disregard for the population of Crimea. Occupation authorities are systematically closing the space for freedom of expression and leading an intimidation campaign that targets independent journalists for detention and prosecution. All residents of Crimea should have access to a wide range of news, opinion, and information. We condemn Russia's abuses and call for the end of its occupation of Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, as we've said.
I think the screens have gone on to our second case, which comes from Maldives, where an investigative journalist named Ahmed Rilwan has remained disappeared since August of last year. Mr. Rilwan, who wrote often about politics, criminal gangs, and Islamic extremism, was reportedly forced at knifepoint from his residence. We call on the Government of the Maldives to credibly investigate the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan and to take steps necessary to create space for independent journalists to work without fear of violence or harassment.
And along the same lines here, moving on to the next item at the top, we congratulate Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, on being named the United Nations Educational '' I think, yeah, let's stay with the map '' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, goodwill ambassador for freedom of expression and journalist safety. As UNESCO's goodwill ambassador, Amanpour will keep freedom of expression and journalist safety on the global agenda and serve as a voice to governments, reminding them of their obligation to assure that a free press flourishes and combat the culture of impunity that leads to fear and self-censorship among all media professionals. We look forward to her work.
QUESTION: She's going to leave her position with CNN?
MS HARF: I think you'd probably ask CNN, but I doubt it.
QUESTION: Don't think so.
MS HARF: And two more items at the top. Just a quick update on what we're doing when it comes to our assistance to Nepal.
Today, members of USAID's Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, reached the hard-hit city east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur. There the DART urban search and rescue worked closely with the Nepali army and members of the community to determine where people might be trapped and to conduct searches.
Also today, a U.S. military joint humanitarian assistance survey team arrived in Nepal to support this USAID DART response effort. This is a 20-person team. It will be working with the USAID team to make recommendations on how the U.S. military can enable humanitarian access to hard-hit areas and to speed up the delivery of critical emergency supplies.
And finally, currently a USAID airlift of emergency shelter materials is headed to Nepal from the agency's warehouse in Dubai. The cargo consists of 700 rolls of plastic sheeting to help an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 people. The USAID-chartered cargo plane is expected to land in Kathmandu early morning on April 30th.
And the last item at the top, and then, Brad, I promise I am turning to you.
Today, we at the State Department, including Secretary Kerry and the rest of our team, honor the service of the longest serving foreign minister of any country, certainly a friend of the Secretary, Saud al-Faisal, who will departing his position as the Saudi foreign minister. In his 40 years of service, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has worked closely with numerous secretaries of state, including Secretary Kerry, of course. And I know folks remember him as a skilled diplomat, a wise counselor on regional issues, and a good friend to the United States.
At the same time, we look forward to working closely with his successor, Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir, who I know the Secretary has come to know particularly well during his time in Washington. He was actually at the Department today meeting with the Secretary on a host of issues. They speak quite frequently as well. The alliance, as we all know, between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is historic and enduring, and we will continue to maintain our close, productive relationship as we work together to address a number of serious challenges.
Brad, kick us off.
QUESTION: Great. Just something from yesterday. Do you have any update on the Maersk ship that was apparently being held near or at Bandar Abbas in Iran?
MS HARF: Yes. Our understanding is that as of this morning, the Maersk Tigris remains in the custody of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. It is currently anchored off the northeast coast of Larak Island, Iran. We're continuing to monitor the situation. As we've said, we have not received any reports of injuries to crew members. And as we noted yesterday, according to information received from the vessel's operators, there were no '' or there are no, excuse me, Americans aboard.
QUESTION: Do you have an update on the discussions between the United States and the Marshall Islands?
MS HARF: I do. We are in communications with officials from the Republic of the Marshall Islands as well as with the shipping company to determine the best steps forward to ensure the peaceful resolution of this incident and the safe passage of the ship and crew. The Republic of Marshall Islands has requested assistance for the release of the Maersk ship, and again, we're in communication with them about how best to affect that outcome.
QUESTION: And then yesterday there were some questions about what is actually entailed by the security compact between the United States and --
MS HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you elaborate on how '' whether shipping is covered by that and what that would mean in terms of possible military assistance?
MS HARF: Yes. So I got a little bit on this. And I think as Jeff said, the U.S. of course remains committed to freedom of navigation through international waterways, and to ensure that the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe.
Under the U.S.-Republic of Marshall Islands Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to the Marshall Islands, including matters relating to vessels flying their flag.
So right now, as I said, we're in communications with officials from the Marshall Islands to determine the best steps forward here.
QUESTION: I think '' and yesterday I think your colleague said that there had been no request up to this point regarding any military '' specifically military assistance. Is that still the case?
MS HARF: I do know they've requested assistance for the release. I haven't heard the nature of that request, though.
QUESTION: Okay.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Saudi Arabia?
MS HARF: We can.
QUESTION: We have a story saying that the Saudis are training Houthi fighters '' sorry, training fighters to fight the Houthis in Yemen, training Yemeni fighters to fight the Houthis. Do you have a view on whether that is a useful policy on the part of Saudi Arabia?
MS HARF: I actually hadn't seen that story, Arshad. I'm happy to look into it.
QUESTION: Okay. No, I'll flag it to you.
MS HARF: Thank you.
QUESTION: That's publicly, I think, acknowledged even by the Saudis.
MS HARF: Well, I know the Saudis have spoken at length to what they're doing there, so I don't have more to say than what they've said. Obviously, they can speak about what they're doing. But I'm happy to check with our team.
QUESTION: Okay.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up on that.
MS HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: I think whenever it's been asked, I think even '' who you mention '' Ambassador Al-Jubeir recently at a press conference was asked about the vetting for their training operations. And he only said, ''As best as we can.'' Is that sufficient for the United States in terms of vetting fighters in a very dangerous part of the world?
MS HARF: Well, again, they can speak more specifically to what they're doing in terms of that issue. In general, we have called on all sides to comply with international humanitarian law, which is obviously a part of what goes into vetting '' right? '' because it includes the obligation to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects, to take all feasible precaution to minimize harm to civilians. Those are, I think, things that are part of a vetting process. So I'm happy to check and see if there's more, but we've certainly called on all sides to take those things into account.
QUESTION: One more --
QUESTION: Could I --
QUESTION: Can we stick with Saudi for a second?
QUESTION: Yeah, it was Saudi. Yeah.
QUESTION: Go ahead, then.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Saudi and Yemen thing, about '' today the Secretary mentioned that he was going to be talking with High Representative Mogherini about Yemen.
MS HARF: He did.
QUESTION: Could you give us a readout on that portion of the talks and whether there is '' I know there are some kind of moves to try and get these negotiations going. The Iranian foreign minister in New York, Zarif, again today was talking about it. He ruled out the UAE as a possible choice of venue for such talks. So I wondered if there was anything that came up in the talks with the Secretary and High Representative Mogherini about a possible venue in somewhere outside the conflict, like Europe for instance.
MS HARF: Right. I don't have a lot of details to share about that part of the conversation. They did talk about the need to, as quickly as possible, move to a political dialogue, to get Yemenis at the table, to move this process forward. They talked about possible ways that could happen, but I just don't have more to share.
QUESTION: And what about '' I ask about Europe because Foreign Minister Zarif in his speech in New York specifically mentioned or made reference to the Bonn conference, which, of course, was fundamental in resolving conflicts in Afghanistan at that time. And I wondered whether in principle whether a Europe-based negotiation will be something that will be acceptable for the United States, or if it's something that's been floated.
MS HARF: We're looking at what the possible options might be. I don't have much more to share.
QUESTION: The other thing that was interesting about the Bonn conference of course was that Iran participated in it directly. Has your position on the possibility of Iran participating in such a conference in this instance evolved?
MS HARF: Well, as I've said repeatedly, that we have always been open to them having a role in discussions about issues where they can play a role '' we talked about Syria in the past '' and as the Secretary said in his press availability in New York that he was going to be talking to Foreign Minister Zarif about Yemen. So this is obviously something that everyone would have to talk about as this moves forward. But I think we've shown in the past, under the right circumstances, an openness to Iran participating in these conversations.
QUESTION: And --
MS HARF: Again, under the right circumstances.
QUESTION: Right. And that's still your stance? You're open to it under the right circumstances.
MS HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Did you read out '' sorry, I wasn't here yesterday '' did '' was there a question about any readout from the Iran-Yemen --
QUESTION: There was.
QUESTION: From the Iran-U.S. '' there was? Okay.
MS HARF: There was. I don't have much more to add.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more on the Saudis?
MS HARF: You can.
QUESTION: Just does the U.S. Government have any view other than the laudatory comments that you had about Prince Saud al-Faisal and Ambassador Al-Jubeir on the whole range of changes that had been made by the Saudi royal family? And in particular, do you have any concerns that this appears to further consolidate power in the Sudairi branch of the royal family, and potentially to disadvantage the princes who are descended from other senior Saudi elders?
MS HARF: Well, I'd say a few things. First, that our strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia is longstanding under multiple administrations, many different kings, and this will certainly continue. We're confident that we will continue to enjoy a close and productive relationship with Saudi leaders. As you know, many American officials have worked very closely with Muhammad bin Nayef who was part of this announcement, including the Secretary, including John Brennan and others who have close working relationships with him. I don't have much analysis to do for you on the lineage or which brothers were named to which positions. I think it's notable that this is a next-generation issue when it comes to Muhammad bin Nayef being the son of a first-generation prince. That's something I think that analysts can talk about what the significance of it is, but I think a lot of people have mentioned that. But again, we are looking forward to working with whoever is in those positions.
QUESTION: But it doesn't raise any concerns to the U.S. Government about stability?
MS HARF: No, it does not.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Iraq?
QUESTION: Can we stay with --
MS HARF: Saudi?
QUESTION: Yes.
MS HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: A follow-up question from yesterday. The reports of the arrests of about 100 militants: Some of them according to Saudi officials were planning attacks against U.S. embassies. Were '' do you have any confirmation on that or any additional information on those alleged attacks?
MS HARF: I don't have much more information. I know we talked about this a little bit yesterday. I think this underscores the Saudi Government's commitment to counterterrorism. We have certainly worked very closely with the Saudis for many, many years now through multiple administrations on these issues, and they've been very focused on countering threats in Saudi Arabia and in the region. I don't have much more confirmation of some of the details that have been out there.
QUESTION: On Iraq?
MS HARF: Let's move on to Iraq, yes.
QUESTION: Yes. Do you have any comment about this draft resolution at the Armed Services Committee that calls for the recognition of the Sunni fighters and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces as a country, and so they can be '' directly receive aid and weapons from the U.S., not through the central government?
MS HARF: I saw that. I saw that. And to be very clear: The policy of this Administration is clear and consistent in support of a unified Iraq, and that we've always said a unified Iraq is stronger, and it's important to the stability of the region as well. Our military assistance and equipment deliveries, our policy remains the same there as well, that all arms transfers must be coordinated via the sovereign central government of Iraq. We believe this policy is the most effective way to support the coalition's efforts.
So we look forward to working with congress on language that we could support on this important issue, but the draft bill, as you noted, in the House '' this is very early in the process here for the NDAA '' as currently written on this issue, of course, does not reflect Administration policy.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Do you '' broadly, do you support '' do you believe it's the Executive Branch's prerogative to recognize countries?
MS HARF: I do.
QUESTION: Or is it the Senate Armed Services Committee?
MS HARF: This actually is the House --
QUESTION: House Armed Services Committee.
MS HARF: -- Armed Services Committee. The Executive Branch.
QUESTION: Okay.
QUESTION:The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI facilitated ransom payment for the Weinstein family to al-Qaida in 2012. Is that a move that the State Department supports?
MS HARF: I'm happy for you to check with the FBI or the family. I'm not aware of that.
QUESTION: And then I wanted to follow up on the Maersk. Just the '' so the notion that the '' it's in custody. Has the vessel been seized? Are the crewmembers hostages? What's the status of --
MS HARF: As I said, it remains in custody. We've received no reports of any injuries to crewmembers. I don't have more for you than that.
QUESTION: And then finally, is the Administration considering the transfer of Gitmo detainee Mohamedou Slahi?
MS HARF: Mr. Slahi is not currently approved for transfer. He is eligible for a hearing before the Periodic Review Board, which is an interagency administrative body that determines whether an individual's continued detention is necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the U.S. There are currently 55 detainees eligible for review by the PRB. He's not special or distinguishable from the other 54 detainees similarly situated insofar as his eligibility for any review by the PRB.
QUESTION: So five years ago he was recommended for prosecution for his 9/11 ties, and now he's eligible to be considered for transfer. Is there any material '' is there new evidence in his case that --
MS HARF: Well, all detainees that are not currently approved for transfer, not facing charges, of which he is one, are eligible for and will receive PRB hearings to determine whether they should be approved for transfer. This is an interagency process. This Administration put in more stringent regulations governing how we transfer detainees, and because of those regulations the recidivism rate for people we've transferred has actually dropped significantly.
Yes, Mesfin.
QUESTION: Okay, Marie, thank you. During her recent visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman made some remarks regarding the Ethiopian Government and opposition. However, some people, including the opposition, have continued to criticize her for making those remarks. My question is: Did Wendy Sherman reflect the United States policy towards Ethiopia or '' when she made those statements?
MS HARF: Her statements fully reflect the U.S. Government's positions on these issues. They do. Thank you.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you, and I have one more question.
MS HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Let me pass because '' I will send an email first before; you may not have that information so I will --
MS HARF: Okay. I can come back to you.
QUESTION: No, no, no, I will send an email first --
MS HARF: Okay, perfect.
QUESTION: -- so you can prepare for the --
MS HARF: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS HARF: Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: I have two questions.
MS HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: The first ones deal with Azerbaijan. The government-owned media outlets have run a long investigative article that supposedly uncovers a U.S. plot to tarnish the country's image ahead of the European Olympic Games which take place there in June. The article portrays Secretary Kerry as pro-Armenian. Wanted to find out, first of all, what is State's reaction. Secondly, if there are plans to lodge a formal protest to the government.
MS HARF: Well, the U.S.'s longstanding support for Azerbaijan's sovereignty and independence is backed by much more than words, certainly, and the claims in this article are completely baseless and without merit.
QUESTION: And secondly, a journalist who has been detained there '' Khadija Ismayilova '' prison authorities have reprimanded her for leaking her writings to the press from prison. Has the State Department called for her unconditional release? And if not, are there plans to do so?
MS HARF: Well, we are deeply concerned by the incarceration of all those detained in connection with exercising fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan and have called for their release. We urge the Government of Azerbaijan to respect the universal rights of all of its citizens, ensure they are afforded all the fair trial guarantees to which all citizens are entitled, and allow them to freely express their views.
QUESTION: And if I could jump to another area --
MS HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- could I ask you a question about Sri Lanka?
MS HARF: Of course.
QUESTION: Okay. The parliament today passed legislation that would limit the president to two five-year terms as part of efforts to roll back some of the authoritarian measures of the previous president. Is the U.S. satisfied with the pace of reforms that are taking place in that country?
MS HARF: Well, we certainly welcome the news of the passage of measures that you mentioned that curb presidential powers as part of the government's domestic reform agenda. Certainly something we welcome.
QUESTION: Iran?
MS HARF: Sure.
QUESTION: There's a report that's come out that Secretary Sherman has said that, to quote her, ''hold your horses'' to India and other countries in their dealing with Iran.
MS HARF: I'm not sure I've ever heard her use that term, and I've spent a lot of time with her.
QUESTION: It's a Reuters (inaudible).
MS HARF: Well, Reuters '' if it's Reuters it must be right then.
QUESTION: It says '' it quotes, ''I would say 'hold your horses.' We are not quite to an agreement yet.''
MS HARF: I certainly '' I didn't see the quote, but I have heard her speak in similar ways about '' to countries, and certainly not just India. I know she's traveling there now '' but to countries around the world who inquire about whether they should move forward with trade talks or send delegations there, to say we have a lot of work left to do, we don't have a nuclear agreement yet, there's a lot of time between now and the end of June 30th, and a lot of things we have to get done certainly.
QUESTION: But India has sent a delegation and they have also received a delegation, so there's '' talks are quite advanced with --
MS HARF: Well, I wouldn't say they're advanced. There's one thing '' delegations and talking is one thing, but in terms of moving forward, all of the architecture of the major sanctions of course remain in place.
QUESTION: Okay.
MS HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Can I go to Burundi please?
MS HARF: You can.
QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Malinowski is in Bujumbura today. I wondered if you could let us know the circumstances of how this visit came about. Was it something that was long planned, before the weekend demonstrations? Who is it he's going to be meeting with and what is the purpose of the trip?
MS HARF: Yes. He is expected to arrive today on a long-planned visit. He'll be in Burundi from the 29th to the 30th. It was scheduled prior to the current unrest in the context of the Department's longstanding concern about the closing of political space in Burundi. He looks forward to the opportunity to talk with Burundian officials as well as other Burundian stakeholders about the current situation and ways to defuse tensions and create an environment for peaceful, inclusive, and credible elections. I think we'll have more of a readout for you after he gets on the ground and has the meetings.
QUESTION: It's not clear yet whether he'll meet with the president or such --
MS HARF: I don't have that in front '' I don't have a full list of meetings.
QUESTION: Okay. And I know that the United States has voiced disappointment about what's happening in Burundi at the moment. Is that a message he's also going to be bringing, that the United States wants to see the Arusha Accords met and wants to have a full and proper election take place?
MS HARF: Absolutely, absolutely. What else? A quiet day, everyone.
QUESTION: I have an Indonesia question if everybody else is quiet.
QUESTION: Marie, do you know when the coalition's next meeting in Paris is going to be?
MS HARF: The anti-ISIL coalition?
QUESTION: Yeah.
MS HARF: I do not.
QUESTION: It's a ministerial.
MS HARF: I do not. I don't think we have that locked in yet.
On Iran, I'll just say today the experts '' the P5+1, Iran, and the U.S. '' started meeting in New York as part of the NPT Conference, or they were all in town for it I guess. And they'll be meeting for a few days at the expert level.
QUESTION: And Foreign Minister Zarif actually said also that new talks are expected for Monday, in Europe, but he didn't say where.
MS HARF: Yeah, that '' I don't think that that's finalized --
QUESTION: Okay.
MS HARF: -- and I'm not sure that that's what will end up happening in the schedule. I think we'll see how the expert talks go.
QUESTION: Okay. But what level would it likely be, though?
MS HARF: I hadn't actually heard that there was something on the schedule for Monday, so --
QUESTION: Okay. And can I go to Indonesia?
MS HARF: You can, yes.
QUESTION: I wanted to have a reaction, if possible, to the executions that happened today '' yesterday, I think, time-wise '' of the foreigners who had been sentenced for '' on drug smuggling charges. What is the United States reaction to the --
MS HARF: We don't have much to say on this other than we're aware that they have executed eight foreign citizens convicted of drug trafficking. As we've said, none of these eight were American citizens.
QUESTION: And do you support '' there was a lot of calls for clemency. Would you have supported those calls?
MS HARF: I don't have much more on this one for you.
QUESTION: And I wondered also if I could ask, more broadly, there are some fears '' or some expressions, rather '' from particularly Australia that this means that they can't really have business as usual with the Indonesian Government, given that two of their citizens were executed despite their appeals for clemency. Are you concerned that this could actually heighten tensions in a part of the world where there are already significant tensions to do with other countries, not really Indonesia?
MS HARF: Well, I'll certainly let the Australians speak to how they'll react here, and we certainly hope nothing raises tensions, of course.
QUESTION: Back to India?
MS HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Following the Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, on which the U.S. has commented --
MS HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- now that India has '' more than 3,000 NGOs have been suspended, their activities and all. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS HARF: I hadn't actually seen that. I'll check and get back to you.
QUESTION: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS HARF: That's it?
QUESTION: Thanks.
QUESTION: Sorry '' oh yeah, sorry. Marie, I don't know if you've seen the comments from the Ankara mayor.
MS HARF: Oh, I wasn't sure if we were going to get through the briefing without someone (inaudible).
QUESTION: Yeah, and they're obviously pretty inflammatory, and I wondered if I could have your comment, particularly, as I see they're targeted exclusively at yourself.
MS HARF: They are. That is true. I think a couple points here. They were about the situation in Baltimore. First, that I don't think there should be any question in the minds of anyone who's paying attention here about the view of the United States Government about what's happening in Baltimore given the President's lengthy statement on it yesterday. You've heard the Attorney General and multiple other officials speak about it as well.
And I would note that the President didn't just talk about the specific incident and the investigation, but really about the fact that we have to do some soul-searching here, and spoke, I think, very deeply and personally about an issue that is clearly one that people feel very passionately about.
And I think the final thing I would probably say is that '' and I've said this before '' but I would put our record here in the U.S. of openly, transparently addressing challenges when we have them here at home up against any other countries on the planet. I mean, when you have the President of the United States, I think, speak for, what, 12 minutes yesterday; when you have wall-to-wall news coverage of this; when you have commentators and people debating and talking; U.S. Government officials saying there's going to be an investigation, that is a record of transparency, of self-reflection when we have challenges that I would put up against any other countries anywhere in the world.
QUESTION: And can I just ask '' I mean, the remarks he actually makes, though, are, in my opinion '' and I'm not supposed to have one '' pretty offensive. And I'd like to give you the opportunity to respond to his criticism of you.
MS HARF: I really don't think I'm going to dignify them with a response.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS HARF: Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:09 p.m.)
DPB #73
VIDEO-David Cameron gaffe: This is a real 'career-defining' election - YouTube
Sun, 03 May 2015 00:54
VIDEO-No Agenda Promotion - YouTube
Sat, 02 May 2015 22:28
VIDEO-Check out Obama's pronunciation of what he hails as Japan's greatest gifts to U.S. | Video | TheBlaze.com
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:39
During morning remarks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Barack Obama seemed to adopt faux Japanese accent when heralding Japan's great contributions to the United States.
''Today is also a chance for Americans, especially our young people, to say thank you for all the things we love from Japan, like karate and karaoke, Manga and anime, and, of course, emojis,'' Obama said standing with Abe for a morning in front of the South Lawn at the White House Tuesday.
The references to Japanese pop culture prompted laughter. Obama also discussed weightier matters such as trade and the 1960 White House visit by Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's grandfather.
'--
VIDEO-DHS: No regrets for bypassing Congress on immigration | TheBlaze.com
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:33
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Senate Tuesday that he has no regrets at all for going around Congress to implement President Barack Obama's several immigration-related executive actions.
''Do you regret the actions that you and the administration have taken that have gotten us to this point?'' Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Johnson at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
''No, I do not, senator,'' Johnson replied. ''I believe that the undocumented population in this country, at least half of which has been here more than 10 years, has to be reckoned with. We know they're here, and they are not priorities for removal.''
''There are millions of people in this country who are not priorities for removal,'' he added. ''There are dozens of states that allow them to have drivers' licenses.''
Obama's latest plan to provide legal protection for millions of illegal immigrants is currently on hold, due to a federal court injunction. But DHS took steps to get ready for that plan, and is lobbying the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift that injunction.
Johnson also justified Obama's immigration action by noting that Obama waited ''years'' for Congress to act. That prompted Cornyn to ask, ''So do you think it's an excuse for the president to act unconstitutionally because Congress doesn't act quickly enough to suit him?''
''I have what is in my judgment as a lawyer a very, very thoughtful opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel that we have the legal discretion to do what we did,'' Johnson replied.
Johnson spent a good part of Tuesday'd hearing fight back against Republican complaints that Obama's immigration moves violated the Constitution. He also heard complaints from Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that DHS's effort to enforce immigration laws has waned.
Cruz, for example, noted that the removal of illegal immigrants has dropped dramatically over the last several years. ''How do you explain a 41 percent drop in removals of aliens here illegally?'' he asked.
Johnson replied that removals have fallen because fewer people are being captured at the border. ''The apprehensions are in fact lower on the southern border, so the intake is lower this fiscal year in particular,'' he said.
DHS announced last week that border apprehensions are down 28 percent this year, something many Republicans see not as good news, but as a sign that DHS is becoming even more relaxed about its effort to enforce immigration law.
VIDEO-Rand Paul doesn't blame Obama for drone strike that killed two hostages | TheBlaze.com
Sat, 02 May 2015 16:32
GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday that he doesn't blame President Barack Obama for the death of two hostages who were killed in a U.S. drone strike, and generally defended the use of drones in wartime.
''I tend not to want to blame the president for the loss of life here,'' Paul told Fox News. ''I think he was trying to do the right thing.''
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade agreed with Paul and said Obama shouldn't be blamed, ''especially when these guys swore to destroy us.''
Last week, a U.S. announced that a counterterrorism operation in January accidentally killed a U.S. prisoner, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian prisoner, Giovanni Lo Porto. Both were being held by Al Qaeda.
Paul admitted he's widely seen as an ''opponent of drones.'' In 2013, he staged a filibuster in the Senate until the Obama administration clarified that it believed it would violate the Constitution to conduct a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil who posed no threat.
But Paul said there's a clear use for drones in military operations, and said legally, he believes the captors were in a war zone and thus had no due process rights that deserved protection.
''I've been an opponent of using drones about people not involved in combat,'' he said. ''However, if you're holding hostages, you kind of are involved in combat.''
''So these people were in a war zone and probably got what was coming to them, the captors,'' he added. ''Unfortunately, some innocent people lost their lives, the hostages.''
VIDEO-Angry CNN Reporter Miguel Marquez Goes Off On Baltimore Cop - " Are We Under Martial Law ? " - YouTube
Sat, 02 May 2015 07:44
VIDEO-MSNBC's Al Sharpton demands DOJ takeover of police nationwide - Spokane Conservative | Examiner.com
Fri, 01 May 2015 19:30
MSNBC activist Al Sharpton demands overturning of Constitution, DOJ takeover of police nationwide.
In a video posted Thursday by the Baltimore Sun, MSNBC host and longtime liberal activist Al Sharpton demanded that police departments across the country be taken over by the Department of Justice. He also said it would be necessary to fight states' rights to do so.
"We need the Justice Department to step in and take over policing in this country," he said. "In the 20th century, they had to fight states' rights in '-- to get the right to vote. We're going to have to fight states' rights in terms of closing down police cases.''
"Police must be held accountable," he added. "I don't think all police are bad. I don't even think most are bad. But those that are need to be held accountable.''
"What? Like Homeland Security, NWO type takeover?" one person asked on Twitter in response to the Baltimore Sun tweet promoting the video. "What happened to all politics are local? Due process?"
"Oh goody. Further erosion of Constitution," another person said. "Fed policing = exactly what our forefathers were AGAINST."
Several wondered why the Justice Department hasn't arrested Sharpton for back taxes he owes. One person suggested Sharpton is protected by the administration and will never have to pay his back taxes.
"Out of respect, we could have them wear uniforms that honor people of color," one Twitter user suggested. "How about brown shirts?"
Another person wondered if Sharpton was delivering a message from the White House. "Would this be 'police state' -- like communism? Hmmm."
Twitchy said the statement came on the heels of a meeting between Sharpton and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. After that meeting, she made remarks in front of a National Action Network backdrop complete with the slogan, "No Justice, No Peace."
"Is this an appropriate backdrop for a mayor who wants to heal a divided community?" the Twitchy staff asked. At least one person wondered why she wasn't speaking on a city-provided stage, using the hashtag "#Impeach."
Twitchy also said Sharpton shoved Fox News reporter Leland Vittert away from Rawlings-Blake. "Sharpton," Twitchy said, "isn't exactly encouraging transparency here."
"What is an MSNBC host doing trying to stop ANY reporter from talking to a politician?" one person asked. "Does MSNBC approve of its hosts blocking press access?"
Prosecutor Charges Officers in the Death of Freddie Gray (Video)
Fri, 01 May 2015 20:48
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore's top prosecutor, announced Friday morning that she would pursue criminal charges against six police officers involved in the April death of Freddie Gray, an event that sparked demonstrations and rioting across the city.
''Mr. Gray's death was a homicide,'' Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore, said at a press conference hours after she received the results of a police investigation. Gray's arrest was illegal and the way he was treated in police custody amounted to murder and manslaughter, she said, adding that he had sustained neck injuries because he was handcuffed and bound in the back of a police van without a seatbelt after his arrest on April 12.
The Guardian reported:
''To the people of Baltimore: I heard your call for 'no justice no peace','' Mosby said at a Baltimore press conference. Praising young people who had taken to the streets to protest over Gray's death, she said: ''I will seek justice on your behalf.''
''This is a moment. This is your moment,'' said Mosby. ''Let's ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You're at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.''
Whoops of joy and cries of ''justice'' were heard from bystanders as Mosby spoke. At an intersection in west Baltimore that has become the base for demonstrations, cars honked their horns and drivers pumped their fists in the air.
Officer Caesar Goodson'--the driver of the police van'--was charged with second-degree murder, while charges including manslaughter, assault, and misconduct in public office were brought against five other officers. Goodson, who has refused to cooperate with investigators, faces up to 30 years in prison.
Read more here.
'--Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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