721: Effer in the P Me

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 6m
May 14th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Seth Griffin, Sir Chase, Sir Fletcher of Cockermouth Castle, James Spann

Cover Artist: Mr. FABULOUS

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is it true that all fetuses start out in a female form? | Yahoo Answers
Sun, 10 May 2015 20:18
Yes all fetuses start out is female, though they are already male or female at the DNA level. Actually all fetuses start out as tadpoles more or less. The changes occur if the fetus creates certain male hormones, which sometimes doesn't happen in a baby that is male DNA wise, and sometimes does happen in a fetus that is female DNA wise.The cells that become the clitoris in a girl, become a penis in the boy. The clitoral hood and foreskin are the same in the begining. The ovaries become the testes, and the labia the scrotum.
"Initially, all human fetuses are female, in that the default pathway is to develop into a female. During the eighth week of gestation, the presence of a Y chromosome and a functional locus for the SRY gene product, also called the testes determining factor (TDF), determines if testicular development will occur. This process converts the inherently female fetus into a male one, as a steadily increasing surge of testosterone is then produced by the testes. Much of the testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone, which is the key hormone to virilize the fetus. Along the biochemical pathway, other recently identified gene products likely play an additional role in the masculinization of the fetus.
Further progression toward the eventual male phenotype occurs as antim¼llerian hormone is produced, inhibiting the formation of m¼llerian ducts, which would lead to female genital development. The fetal brain is also affected by this process. The corpus callosum, amygdala, cerebellum, and portions of the preoptic area of the hypothalamus are larger in brains exposed to testosterone. Corresponding parts of the brain are smaller in female, or testosterone-deprived, fetuses. Indeed, in the absence of testosterone, the fetus continues its progression in the female state. Development of the ovaries and the female genital tract is likely triggered by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is present in both male and female fetuses, but whose effect is masked by the testosterone surge in males.
The gender identity of a fetus, and later an infant, is still incomplete. Yet, current research indicates that because of the expected hormonal exposure secondary to genetic sex, a certain gender bias probably exists in all newborns. This rudimentary gender identity, although incomplete, is an important determinant in gender development. The dimorphism of the brain itself suggests this. Nevertheless, variations may occur when endogenous or exogenous factors create a fetal environment where hormone levels do not follow the genetically determined pattern. The gender bias of these infants may be tilted away from one that correlates with the genotype. Such variations are discussed below. "http://www.emedicine.com/ped/topic2789.h...
"8th WEEK: Major organs begin development.Now about size of hen's egg.Embryo is 1" long and about 4 grams.Hands and feet are seen.Baby is extremely reactive to its environment.Male sex hormone (testosterone) produced by testesMasculine development in males - no change in females."http://www.dcdoctor.com/pages/rightpages...
"When the genitals begin to formMale and female genital systems are identical through the sixth week of gestation or the eighth week of your pregnancy. By week 12 to 14, your baby's external genitalia are recognizably male or female, but they're still not completely formed. On ultrasound, if your baby is cooperating and is positioned in a favorable way, his or her sex can be identified as early as the 16th to 18th week of your pregnancy. Of course, if your baby is "hiding his stuff" (positioned in such a way as to prevent identification), it will make no difference how far along in your pregnancy you are--you won't find out your baby's sex"http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,52...
Sorry that's the best I can find in the time I am willing to spend doing your research for you.
Nigel Farage withdraws resignation as UKIP leader '-- RT UK
Mon, 11 May 2015 15:28
Published time: May 11, 2015 14:50Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). (Reuters/Matt Dunham)
Nigel Farage has withdrawn his resignation as leader of UKIP, initially tendered as pledged after losing his election bid for the South Thanet constituency on Thursday.
UKIP Chairman Steve Crowther said in a statement: ''As promised Nigel Farage tendered his official resignation as leader of UKIP to the NEC.''
However, Crowther says the offer was ''anomalously rejected by the NEC members who produced overwhelmingly evidence that the UKIP membership did not want Nigel to go.''
''The NEC also concluded that UKIP's general election campaign had been a great success,'' Crowther added.
''We have fought a positive campaign with a very good manifesto and despite relentless, negative attacks and an astonishing last minute swing to the Conservatives over fear of the SNP, that in these circumstances, 4 million votes was an extraordinary achievement,'' he added.
Therefore, Nigel Farage withdrew his resignation ''and will remain leader of UKIP,'' Crowther added.
''In addition the NEC recognized that the referendum campaign has already begun this week and we need our best team to fight that campaign led by Nigel.''
''He has therefore been persuaded by the NEC to withdraw his resignation and remains leader of UKIP,'' Crowther confirms.
Farage tendered his resignation after failing to secure his target seat of South Thanet in Kent, south east England. He came in second place with 16,026 votes (32 percent), losing to the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay with 18,838 votes (38 percent).
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Presidential Proclamation -- National Women's Health Week, 2015
Mon, 11 May 2015 19:32
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 11, 2015
NATIONAL WOMEN'S HEALTH WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
The security of quality, affordable health care should not be a privilege -- it should be a fundamental right for every person, regardless of their sex or gender. Today, the Affordable Care Act is helping to secure this right for women across our Nation. The law is saving money for women and their families, and it is saving lives -- of our mothers, daughters, and sisters -- and helping more women achieve their fullest potential. During National Women's Health Week, we reaffirm the belief that ensuring all women and girls have the opportunity to live full and healthy lives is vital to their success and to the prosperity of our Nation; we celebrate the difference the Affordable Care Act has made for countless women; and we recommit to building on its success because we know that when women succeed, America succeeds.
Over the past year, millions of women have gained the security of knowing their personal and professional goals will not be jeopardized just because they face a health challenge. Because of the Affordable Care Act, women can no longer be charged different premiums than men for the same coverage or be denied insurance based on pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy or violence-related injuries. The law also requires most insurance plans to cover basic health services, including contraceptive, prenatal, and maternity care. And today, tens of millions of women are benefiting from expanded access to preventive care under the law -- services which can lead to early detection of some of the many health challenges that disproportionately affect women. Because these preventive services -- like screenings for breast cancer, domestic violence, and osteoporosis -- are available without cost sharing, women are not forced to choose between health care necessities and other essential expenses.
The equality that all women deserve is inextricably linked to safeguarding access to preventive services and treatment and eliminating disparities in health outcomes. My Administration is committed to strengthening the Affordable Care Act, and we are striving to reach all those who have yet to enroll and gain access to the crucial services it provides. Every day, we are working to make women's health care more affordable, increase women's access to sexual and reproductive health services, and improve maternal and child health outcomes.
As we celebrate National Women's Health Week, we rededicate ourselves to advancing women's health and building a healthy future for all women and girls across our country. To learn more and to access additional information and resources, Americans can visit www.WomensHealth.gov and www.GirlsHealth.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 10 through May 16, 2015, as National Women's Health Week. I encourage all Americans to celebrate the progress we have made in protecting women's health and to promote awareness, prevention, and educational activities that improve the health of all women.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh 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
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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''721, 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. § 1721^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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Ministry of Truth
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London Review of Books
Tue, 12 May 2015 15:28
It's been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama's first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan's army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration's account. The White House's story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida's operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.
The most blatant lie was that Pakistan's two most senior military leaders '' General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI '' were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she'd been told by a 'Pakistani official' that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he'd spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who '' reflecting a widely held local view '' asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was 'quite possible' that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, 'but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo '' if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.'
This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden's whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration's account were false.
'When your version comes out '' if you do it '' people in Pakistan will be tremendously grateful,' Durrani told me. 'For a long time people have stopped trusting what comes out about bin Laden from the official mouths. There will be some negative political comment and some anger, but people like to be told the truth, and what you've told me is essentially what I have heard from former colleagues who have been on a fact-finding mission since this episode.' As a former ISI head, he said, he had been told shortly after the raid by 'people in the ''strategic community'' who would know' that there had been an informant who had alerted the US to bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad, and that after his killing the US's betrayed promises left Kayani and Pasha exposed.
The major US source for the account that follows is a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. He also was privy to many aspects of the Seals' training for the raid, and to the various after-action reports. Two other US sources, who had access to corroborating information, have been longtime consultants to the Special Operations Command. I also received information from inside Pakistan about widespread dismay among the senior ISI and military leadership '' echoed later by Durrani '' over Obama's decision to go public immediately with news of bin Laden's death. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
*
It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA's station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001. Walk-ins are assumed by the CIA to be unreliable, and the response from the agency's headquarters was to fly in a polygraph team. The walk-in passed the test. 'So now we've got a lead on bin Laden living in a compound in Abbottabad, but how do we really know who it is?' was the CIA's worry at the time, the retired senior US intelligence official told me.
The US initially kept what it knew from the Pakistanis. 'The fear was that if the existence of the source was made known, the Pakistanis themselves would move bin Laden to another location. So only a very small number of people were read into the source and his story,' the retired official said. 'The CIA's first goal was to check out the quality of the informant's information.' The compound was put under satellite surveillance. The CIA rented a house in Abbottabad to use as a forward observation base and staffed it with Pakistani employees and foreign nationals. Later on, the base would serve as a contact point with the ISI; it attracted little attention because Abbottabad is a holiday spot full of houses rented on short leases. A psychological profile of the informant was prepared. (The informant and his family were smuggled out of Pakistan and relocated in the Washington area. He is now a consultant for the CIA.)
'By October the military and intelligence community were discussing the possible military options. Do we drop a bunker buster on the compound or take him out with a drone strike? Perhaps send someone to kill him, single assassin style? But then we'd have no proof of who he was,' the retired official said. 'We could see some guy is walking around at night, but we have no intercepts because there's no commo coming from the compound.'
In October, Obama was briefed on the intelligence. His response was cautious, the retired official said. 'It just made no sense that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad. It was just too crazy. The president's position was emphatic: ''Don't talk to me about this any more unless you have proof that it really is bin Laden.''' The immediate goal of the CIA leadership and the Joint Special Operations Command was to get Obama's support. They believed they would get this if they got DNA evidence, and if they could assure him that a night assault of the compound would carry no risk. The only way to accomplish both things, the retired official said, 'was to get the Pakistanis on board'.
During the late autumn of 2010, the US continued to keep quiet about the walk-in, and Kayani and Pasha continued to insist to their American counterparts that they had no information about bin Laden's whereabouts. 'The next step was to figure out how to ease Kayani and Pasha into it '' to tell them that we've got intelligence showing that there is a high-value target in the compound, and to ask them what they know about the target,' the retired official said. 'The compound was not an armed enclave '' no machine guns around, because it was under ISI control.' The walk-in had told the US that bin Laden had lived undetected from 2001 to 2006 with some of his wives and children in the Hindu Kush mountains, and that 'the ISI got to him by paying some of the local tribal people to betray him.' (Reports after the raid placed him elsewhere in Pakistan during this period.) Bank was also told by the walk-in that bin Laden was very ill, and that early on in his confinement at Abbottabad, the ISI had ordered Amir Aziz, a doctor and a major in the Pakistani army, to move nearby to provide treatment. 'The truth is that bin Laden was an invalid, but we cannot say that,' the retired official said. '''You mean you guys shot a cripple? Who was about to grab his AK-47?'''
'It didn't take long to get the co-operation we needed, because the Pakistanis wanted to ensure the continued release of American military aid, a good percentage of which was anti-terrorism funding that finances personal security, such as bullet-proof limousines and security guards and housing for the ISI leadership,' the retired official said. He added that there were also under-the-table personal 'incentives' that were financed by off-the-books Pentagon contingency funds. 'The intelligence community knew what the Pakistanis needed to agree '' there was the carrot. And they chose the carrot. It was a win-win. We also did a little blackmail. We told them we would leak the fact that you've got bin Laden in your backyard. We knew their friends and enemies' '' the Taliban and jihadist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan '' 'would not like it.'
A worrying factor at this early point, according to the retired official, was Saudi Arabia, which had been financing bin Laden's upkeep since his seizure by the Pakistanis. 'The Saudis didn't want bin Laden's presence revealed to us because he was a Saudi, and so they told the Pakistanis to keep him out of the picture. The Saudis feared if we knew we would pressure the Pakistanis to let bin Laden start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaida. And they were dropping money '' lots of it. The Pakistanis, in turn, were concerned that the Saudis might spill the beans about their control of bin Laden. The fear was that if the US found out about bin Laden from Riyadh, all hell would break out. The Americans learning about bin Laden's imprisonment from a walk-in was not the worst thing.'
Despite their constant public feuding, American and Pakistani military and intelligence services have worked together closely for decades on counterterrorism in South Asia. Both services often find it useful to engage in public feuds 'to cover their asses', as the retired official put it, but they continually share intelligence used for drone attacks, and co-operate on covert operations. At the same time, it's understood in Washington that elements of the ISI believe that maintaining a relationship with the Taliban leadership inside Afghanistan is essential to national security. The ISI's strategic aim is to balance Indian influence in Kabul; the Taliban is also seen in Pakistan as a source of jihadist shock troops who would back Pakistan against India in a confrontation over Kashmir.
Adding to the tension was the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, often depicted in the Western press as an 'Islamic bomb' that might be transferred by Pakistan to an embattled nation in the Middle East in the event of a crisis with Israel. The US looked the other way when Pakistan began building its weapons system in the 1970s and it's widely believed it now has more than a hundred nuclear warheads. It's understood in Washington that US security depends on the maintenance of strong military and intelligence ties to Pakistan. The belief is mirrored in Pakistan.
'The Pakistani army sees itself as family,' the retired official said. 'Officers call soldiers their sons and all officers are ''brothers''. The attitude is different in the American military. The senior Pakistani officers believe they are the elite and have got to look out for all of the people, as keepers of the flame against Muslim fundamentalism. The Pakistanis also know that their trump card against aggression from India is a strong relationship with the United States. They will never cut their person-to-person ties with us.'
Like all CIA station chiefs, Bank was working undercover, but that ended in early December 2010 when he was publicly accused of murder in a criminal complaint filed in Islamabad by Karim Khan, a Pakistani journalist whose son and brother, according to local news reports, had been killed by a US drone strike. Allowing Bank to be named was a violation of diplomatic protocol on the part of the Pakistani authorities, and it brought a wave of unwanted publicity. Bank was ordered to leave Pakistan by the CIA, whose officials subsequently told the Associated Press he was transferred because of concerns for his safety. The New York Times reported that there was 'strong suspicion' the ISI had played a role in leaking Bank's name to Khan. There was speculation that he was outed as payback for the publication in a New York lawsuit a month earlier of the names of ISI chiefs in connection with the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008. But there was a collateral reason, the retired official said, for the CIA's willingness to send Bank back to America. The Pakistanis needed cover in case their co-operation with the Americans in getting rid of bin Laden became known. The Pakistanis could say: ''You're talking about me? We just kicked out your station chief.'''
*
The bin Laden compound was less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy, and a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters was another mile or so away. Abbottabad is less than 15 minutes by helicopter from Tarbela Ghazi, an important base for ISI covert operations and the facility where those who guard Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal are trained. 'Ghazi is why the ISI put bin Laden in Abbottabad in the first place,' the retired official said, 'to keep him under constant supervision.'
The risks for Obama were high at this early stage, especially because there was a troubling precedent: the failed 1980 attempt to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. That failure was a factor in Jimmy Carter's loss to Ronald Reagan. Obama's worries were realistic, the retired official said. 'Was bin Laden ever there? Was the whole story a product of Pakistani deception? What about political blowback in case of failure?' After all, as the retired official said, 'If the mission fails, Obama's just a black Jimmy Carter and it's all over for re-election.'
Obama was anxious for reassurance that the US was going to get the right man. The proof was to come in the form of bin Laden's DNA. The planners turned for help to Kayani and Pasha, who asked Aziz to obtain the specimens. Soon after the raid the press found out that Aziz had been living in a house near the bin Laden compound: local reporters discovered his name in Urdu on a plate on the door. Pakistani officials denied that Aziz had any connection to bin Laden, but the retired official told me that Aziz had been rewarded with a share of the $25 million reward the US had put up because the DNA sample had showed conclusively that it was bin Laden in Abbottabad. (In his subsequent testimony to a Pakistani commission investigating the bin Laden raid, Aziz said that he had witnessed the attack on Abbottabad, but had no knowledge of who was living in the compound and had been ordered by a superior officer to stay away from the scene.)
Bargaining continued over the way the mission would be executed. 'Kayani eventually tells us yes, but he says you can't have a big strike force. You have to come in lean and mean. And you have to kill him, or there is no deal,' the retired official said. The agreement was struck by the end of January 2011, and Joint Special Operations Command prepared a list of questions to be answered by the Pakistanis: 'How can we be assured of no outside intervention? What are the defences inside the compound and its exact dimensions? Where are bin Laden's rooms and exactly how big are they? How many steps in the stairway? Where are the doors to his rooms, and are they reinforced with steel? How thick?' The Pakistanis agreed to permit a four-man American cell '' a Navy Seal, a CIA case officer and two communications specialists '' to set up a liaison office at Tarbela Ghazi for the coming assault. By then, the military had constructed a mock-up of the compound in Abbottabad at a secret former nuclear test site in Nevada, and an elite Seal team had begun rehearsing for the attack.
The US had begun to cut back on aid to Pakistan '' to 'turn off the spigot', in the retired official's words. The provision of 18 new F-16 fighter aircraft was delayed, and under-the-table cash payments to the senior leaders were suspended. In April 2011 Pasha met the CIA director, Leon Panetta, at agency headquarters. 'Pasha got a commitment that the United States would turn the money back on, and we got a guarantee that there would be no Pakistani opposition during the mission,' the retired official said. 'Pasha also insisted that Washington stop complaining about Pakistan's lack of co-operation with the American war on terrorism.' At one point that spring, Pasha offered the Americans a blunt explanation of the reason Pakistan kept bin Laden's capture a secret, and why it was imperative for the ISI role to remain secret: 'We needed a hostage to keep tabs on al-Qaida and the Taliban,' Pasha said, according to the retired official. 'The ISI was using bin Laden as leverage against Taliban and al-Qaida activities inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. They let the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership know that if they ran operations that clashed with the interests of the ISI, they would turn bin Laden over to us. So if it became known that the Pakistanis had worked with us to get bin Laden at Abbottabad, there would be hell to pay.'
At one of his meetings with Panetta, according to the retired official and a source within the CIA, Pasha was asked by a senior CIA official whether he saw himself as acting in essence as an agent for al-Qaida and the Taliban. 'He answered no, but said the ISI needed to have some control.' The message, as the CIA saw it, according to the retired official, was that Kayani and Pasha viewed bin Laden 'as a resource, and they were more interested in their [own] survival than they were in the United States'.
A Pakistani with close ties to the senior leadership of the ISI told me that 'there was a deal with your top guys. We were very reluctant, but it had to be done '' not because of personal enrichment, but because all of the American aid programmes would be cut off. Your guys said we will starve you out if you don't do it, and the okay was given while Pasha was in Washington. The deal was not only to keep the taps open, but Pasha was told there would be more goodies for us.' The Pakistani said that Pasha's visit also resulted in a commitment from the US to give Pakistan 'a freer hand' in Afghanistan as it began its military draw-down there. 'And so our top dogs justified the deal by saying this is for our country.'
*
Pasha and Kayani were responsible for ensuring that Pakistan's army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission. The American cell at Tarbela Ghazi was charged with co-ordinating communications between the ISI, the senior US officers at their command post in Afghanistan, and the two Black Hawk helicopters; the goal was to ensure that no stray Pakistani fighter plane on border patrol spotted the intruders and took action to stop them. The initial plan said that news of the raid shouldn't be announced straightaway. All units in the Joint Special Operations Command operate under stringent secrecy and the JSOC leadership believed, as did Kayani and Pasha, that the killing of bin Laden would not be made public for as long as seven days, maybe longer. Then a carefully constructed cover story would be issued: Obama would announce that DNA analysis confirmed that bin Laden had been killed in a drone raid in the Hindu Kush, on Afghanistan's side of the border. The Americans who planned the mission assured Kayani and Pasha that their co-operation would never be made public. It was understood by all that if the Pakistani role became known, there would be violent protests '' bin Laden was considered a hero by many Pakistanis '' and Pasha and Kayani and their families would be in danger, and the Pakistani army publicly disgraced.
It was clear to all by this point, the retired official said, that bin Laden would not survive: 'Pasha told us at a meeting in April that he could not risk leaving bin Laden in the compound now that we know he's there. Too many people in the Pakistani chain of command know about the mission. He and Kayani had to tell the whole story to the directors of the air defence command and to a few local commanders.
'Of course the guys knew the target was bin Laden and he was there under Pakistani control,' the retired official said. 'Otherwise, they would not have done the mission without air cover. It was clearly and absolutely a premeditated murder.' A former Seal commander, who has led and participated in dozens of similar missions over the past decade, assured me that 'we were not going to keep bin Laden alive '' to allow the terrorist to live. By law, we know what we're doing inside Pakistan is a homicide. We've come to grips with that. Each one of us, when we do these missions, say to ourselves, ''Let's face it. We're going to commit a murder.''' The White House's initial account claimed that bin Laden had been brandishing a weapon; the story was aimed at deflecting those who questioned the legality of the US administration's targeted assassination programme. The US has consistently maintained, despite widely reported remarks by people involved with the mission, that bin Laden would have been taken alive if he had immediately surrendered.
*
At the Abbottabad compound ISI guards were posted around the clock to keep watch over bin Laden and his wives and children. They were under orders to leave as soon as they heard the rotors of the US helicopters. The town was dark: the electricity supply had been cut off on the orders of the ISI hours before the raid began. One of the Black Hawks crashed inside the walls of the compound, injuring many on board. 'The guys knew the TOT [time on target] had to be tight because they would wake up the whole town going in,' the retired official said. The cockpit of the crashed Black Hawk, with its communication and navigational gear, had to be destroyed by concussion grenades, and this would create a series of explosions and a fire visible for miles. Two Chinook helicopters had flown from Afghanistan to a nearby Pakistani intelligence base to provide logistical support, and one of them was immediately dispatched to Abbottabad. But because the helicopter had been equipped with a bladder loaded with extra fuel for the two Black Hawks, it first had to be reconfigured as a troop carrier. The crash of the Black Hawk and the need to fly in a replacement were nerve-wracking and time-consuming setbacks, but the Seals continued with their mission. There was no firefight as they moved into the compound; the ISI guards had gone. 'Everyone in Pakistan has a gun and high-profile, wealthy folks like those who live in Abbottabad have armed bodyguards, and yet there were no weapons in the compound,' the retired official pointed out. Had there been any opposition, the team would have been highly vulnerable. Instead, the retired official said, an ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden's quarters. The Seals had been warned by the Pakistanis that heavy steel doors blocked the stairwell on the first and second-floor landings; bin Laden's rooms were on the third floor. The Seal squad used explosives to blow the doors open, without injuring anyone. One of bin Laden's wives was screaming hysterically and a bullet '' perhaps a stray round '' struck her knee. Aside from those that hit bin Laden, no other shots were fired. (The Obama administration's account would hold otherwise.)
'They knew where the target was '' third floor, second door on the right,' the retired official said. 'Go straight there. Osama was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up. Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit.' Some of the Seals were appalled later at the White House's initial insistence that they had shot bin Laden in self-defence, the retired official said. 'Six of the Seals' finest, most experienced NCOs, faced with an unarmed elderly civilian, had to kill him in self-defence? The house was shabby and bin Laden was living in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof. The rules of engagement were that if bin Laden put up any opposition they were authorised to take lethal action. But if they suspected he might have some means of opposition, like an explosive vest under his robe, they could also kill him. So here's this guy in a mystery robe and they shot him. It's not because he was reaching for a weapon. The rules gave them absolute authority to kill the guy.' The later White House claim that only one or two bullets were fired into his head was 'bullshit', the retired official said. 'The squad came through the door and obliterated him. As the Seals say, ''We kicked his ass and took his gas.'''
After they killed bin Laden, 'the Seals were just there, some with physical injuries from the crash, waiting for the relief chopper,' the retired official said. 'Twenty tense minutes. The Black Hawk is still burning. There are no city lights. No electricity. No police. No fire trucks. They have no prisoners.' Bin Laden's wives and children were left for the ISI to interrogate and relocate. 'Despite all the talk,' the retired official continued, there were 'no garbage bags full of computers and storage devices. The guys just stuffed some books and papers they found in his room in their backpacks. The Seals weren't there because they thought bin Laden was running a command centre for al-Qaida operations, as the White House would later tell the media. And they were not intelligence experts gathering information inside that house.'
On a normal assault mission, the retired official said, there would be no waiting around if a chopper went down. 'The Seals would have finished the mission, thrown off their guns and gear, and jammed into the remaining Black Hawk and di-di-maued' '' Vietnamese slang for leaving in a rush '' 'out of there, with guys hanging out of the doors. They would not have blown the chopper '' no commo gear is worth a dozen lives '' unless they knew they were safe. Instead they stood around outside the compound, waiting for the bus to arrive.' Pasha and Kayani had delivered on all their promises.
*
The backroom argument inside the White House began as soon as it was clear that the mission had succeeded. Bin Laden's body was presumed to be on its way to Afghanistan. Should Obama stand by the agreement with Kayani and Pasha and pretend a week or so later that bin Laden had been killed in a drone attack in the mountains, or should he go public immediately? The downed helicopter made it easy for Obama's political advisers to urge the latter plan. The explosion and fireball would be impossible to hide, and word of what had happened was bound to leak. Obama had to 'get out in front of the story' before someone in the Pentagon did: waiting would diminish the political impact.
Not everyone agreed. Robert Gates, the secretary of defence, was the most outspoken of those who insisted that the agreements with Pakistan had to be honoured. In his memoir, Duty, Gates did not mask his anger:
Before we broke up and the president headed upstairs to tell the American people what had just happened, I reminded everyone that the techniques, tactics and procedures the Seals had used in the bin Laden operation were used every night in Afghanistan '... it was therefore essential that we agree not to release any operational details of the raid. That we killed him, I said, is all we needed to say. Everybody in that room agreed to keep mum on details. That commitment lasted about five hours. The initial leaks came from the White House and CIA. They just couldn't wait to brag and to claim credit. The facts were often wrong '... Nonetheless the information just kept pouring out. I was outraged and at one point, told [the national security adviser, Tom] Donilon, 'Why doesn't everybody just shut the fuck up?' To no avail.
Obama's speech was put together in a rush, the retired official said, and was viewed by his advisers as a political document, not a message that needed to be submitted for clearance to the national security bureaucracy. This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following. Obama said that his administration had discovered that bin Laden was in Pakistan through 'a possible lead' the previous August; to many in the CIA the statement suggested a specific event, such as a walk-in. The remark led to a new cover story claiming that the CIA's brilliant analysts had unmasked a courier network handling bin Laden's continuing flow of operational orders to al-Qaida. Obama also praised 'a small team of Americans' for their care in avoiding civilian deaths and said: 'After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.' Two more details now had to be supplied for the cover story: a description of the firefight that never happened, and a story about what happened to the corpse. Obama went on to praise the Pakistanis: 'It's important to note that our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.' That statement risked exposing Kayani and Pasha. The White House's solution was to ignore what Obama had said and order anyone talking to the press to insist that the Pakistanis had played no role in killing bin Laden. Obama left the clear impression that he and his advisers hadn't known for sure that bin Laden was in Abbottabad, but only had information 'about the possibility'. This led first to the story that the Seals had determined they'd killed the right man by having a six-foot-tall Seal lie next to the corpse for comparison (bin Laden was known to be six foot four); and then to the claim that a DNA test had been performed on the corpse and demonstrated conclusively that the Seals had killed bin Laden. But, according to the retired official, it wasn't clear from the Seals' early reports whether all of bin Laden's body, or any of it, made it back to Afghanistan.
Gates wasn't the only official who was distressed by Obama's decision to speak without clearing his remarks in advance, the retired official said, 'but he was the only one protesting. Obama didn't just double-cross Gates, he double-crossed everyone. This was not the fog of war. The fact that there was an agreement with the Pakistanis and no contingency analysis of what was to be disclosed if something went wrong '' that wasn't even discussed. And once it went wrong, they had to make up a new cover story on the fly.' There was a legitimate reason for some deception: the role of the Pakistani walk-in had to be protected.
The White House press corps was told in a briefing shortly after Obama's announcement that the death of bin Laden was 'the culmination of years of careful and highly advanced intelligence work' that focused on tracking a group of couriers, including one who was known to be close to bin Laden. Reporters were told that a team of specially assembled CIA and National Security Agency analysts had traced the courier to a highly secure million-dollar compound in Abbottabad. After months of observation, the American intelligence community had 'high confidence' that a high-value target was living in the compound, and it was 'assessed that there was a strong probability that [it] was Osama bin Laden'. The US assault team ran into a firefight on entering the compound and three adult males '' two of them believed to be the couriers '' were slain, along with bin Laden. Asked if bin Laden had defended himself, one of the briefers said yes: 'He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight.'
The next day John Brennan, then Obama's senior adviser for counterterrorism, had the task of talking up Obama's valour while trying to smooth over the misstatements in his speech. He provided a more detailed but equally misleading account of the raid and its planning. Speaking on the record, which he rarely does, Brennan said that the mission was carried out by a group of Navy Seals who had been instructed to take bin Laden alive, if possible. He said the US had no information suggesting that anyone in the Pakistani government or military knew bin Laden's whereabouts: 'We didn't contact the Pakistanis until after all of our people, all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace.' He emphasised the courage of Obama's decision to order the strike, and said that the White House had no information 'that confirmed that bin Laden was at the compound' before the raid began. Obama, he said, 'made what I believe was one of the gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory'. Brennan increased the number killed by the Seals inside the compound to five: bin Laden, a courier, his brother, a bin Laden son, and one of the women said to be shielding bin Laden.
Asked whether bin Laden had fired on the Seals, as some reporters had been told, Brennan repeated what would become a White House mantra: 'He was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don't know '... Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks '... living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield '... [It] just speaks to I think the nature of the individual he was.'
Gates also objected to the idea, pushed by Brennan and Leon Panetta, that US intelligence had learned of bin Laden's whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture. 'All of this is going on as the Seals are flying home from their mission. The agency guys know the whole story,' the retired official said. 'It was a group of annuitants who did it.' (Annuitants are retired CIA officers who remain active on contract.) 'They had been called in by some of the mission planners in the agency to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?' At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.
'Gates told them this was not going to work,' the retired official said. 'He was never on the team. He knew at the eleventh hour of his career not to be a party to this nonsense. But State, the agency and the Pentagon had bought in on the cover story. None of the Seals thought that Obama was going to get on national TV and announce the raid. The Special Forces command was apoplectic. They prided themselves on keeping operational security.' There was fear in Special Operations, the retired official said, that 'if the true story of the missions leaked out, the White House bureaucracy was going to blame it on the Seals.'
The White House's solution was to silence the Seals. On 5 May, every member of the Seal hit team '' they had returned to their base in southern Virginia '' and some members of the Joint Special Operations Command leadership were presented with a nondisclosure form drafted by the White House's legal office; it promised civil penalties and a lawsuit for anyone who discussed the mission, in public or private. 'The Seals were not happy,' the retired official said. But most of them kept quiet, as did Admiral William McRaven, who was then in charge of JSOC. 'McRaven was apoplectic. He knew he was fucked by the White House, but he's a dyed-in-the-wool Seal, and not then a political operator, and he knew there's no glory in blowing the whistle on the president. When Obama went public with bin Laden's death, everyone had to scramble around for a new story that made sense, and the planners were stuck holding the bag.'
Within days, some of the early exaggerations and distortions had become obvious and the Pentagon issued a series of clarifying statements. No, bin Laden was not armed when he was shot and killed. And no, bin Laden did not use one of his wives as a shield. The press by and large accepted the explanation that the errors were the inevitable by-product of the White House's desire to accommodate reporters frantic for details of the mission.
One lie that has endured is that the Seals had to fight their way to their target. Only two Seals have made any public statement: No Easy Day, a first-hand account of the raid by Matt Bissonnette, was published in September 2012; and two years later Rob O'Neill was interviewed by Fox News. Both men had resigned from the navy; both had fired at bin Laden. Their accounts contradicted each other on many details, but their stories generally supported the White House version, especially when it came to the need to kill or be killed as the Seals fought their way to bin Laden. O'Neill even told Fox News that he and his fellow Seals thought 'We were going to die.' 'The more we trained on it, the more we realised '... this is going to be a one-way mission.'
But the retired official told me that in their initial debriefings the Seals made no mention of a firefight, or indeed of any opposition. The drama and danger portrayed by Bissonnette and O'Neill met a deep-seated need, the retired official said: 'Seals cannot live with the fact that they killed bin Laden totally unopposed, and so there has to be an account of their courage in the face of danger. The guys are going to sit around the bar and say it was an easy day? That's not going to happen.'
There was another reason to claim there had been a firefight inside the compound, the retired official said: to avoid the inevitable question that would arise from an uncontested assault. Where were bin Laden's guards? Surely, the most sought-after terrorist in the world would have around-the-clock protection. 'And one of those killed had to be the courier, because he didn't exist and we couldn't produce him. The Pakistanis had no choice but to play along with it.' (Two days after the raid, Reuters published photographs of three dead men that it said it had purchased from an ISI official. Two of the men were later identified by an ISI spokesman as being the alleged courier and his brother.)
*
Five days after the raid the Pentagon press corps was provided with a series of videotapes that were said by US officials to have been taken from a large collection the Seals had removed from the compound, along with as many as 15 computers. Snippets from one of the videos showed a solitary bin Laden looking wan and wrapped in a blanket, watching what appeared to be a video of himself on television. An unnamed official told reporters that the raid produced a 'treasure trove '... the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever', which would provide vital insights into al-Qaida's plans. The official said the material showed that bin Laden 'remained an active leader in al-Qaida, providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions to the group '... He was far from a figurehead [and] continued to direct even tactical details of the group's management and to encourage plotting' from what was described as a command-and-control centre in Abbottabad. 'He was an active player, making the recent operation even more essential for our nation's security,' the official said. The information was so vital, he added, that the administration was setting up an inter-agency task force to process it: 'He was not simply someone who was penning al-Qaida strategy. He was throwing operational ideas out there and he was also specifically directing other al-Qaida members.'
These claims were fabrications: there wasn't much activity for bin Laden to exercise command and control over. The retired intelligence official said that the CIA's internal reporting shows that since bin Laden moved to Abbottabad in 2006 only a handful of terrorist attacks could be linked to the remnants of bin Laden's al-Qaida. 'We were told at first,' the retired official said, 'that the Seals produced garbage bags of stuff and that the community is generating daily intelligence reports out of this stuff. And then we were told that the community is gathering everything together and needs to translate it. But nothing has come of it. Every single thing they have created turns out not to be true. It's a great hoax '' like the Piltdown man.' The retired official said that most of the materials from Abbottabad were turned over to the US by the Pakistanis, who later razed the building. The ISI took responsibility for the wives and children of bin Laden, none of whom was made available to the US for questioning.
'Why create the treasure trove story?' the retired official said. 'The White House had to give the impression that bin Laden was still operationally important. Otherwise, why kill him? A cover story was created '' that there was a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions. All to show that bin Laden remained important.'
In July 2011, the Washington Post published what purported to be a summary of some of these materials. The story's contradictions were glaring. It said the documents had resulted in more than four hundred intelligence reports within six weeks; it warned of unspecified al-Qaida plots; and it mentioned arrests of suspects 'who are named or described in emails that bin Laden received'. The Post didn't identify the suspects or reconcile that detail with the administration's previous assertions that the Abbottabad compound had no internet connection. Despite their claims that the documents had produced hundreds of reports, the Post also quoted officials saying that their main value wasn't the actionable intelligence they contained, but that they enabled 'analysts to construct a more comprehensive portrait of al-Qaida'.
In May 2012, the Combating Terrrorism Centre at West Point, a private research group, released translations it had made under a federal government contract of 175 pages of bin Laden documents. Reporters found none of the drama that had been touted in the days after the raid. Patrick Cockburn wrote about the contrast between the administration's initial claims that bin Laden was the 'spider at the centre of a conspiratorial web' and what the translations actually showed: that bin Laden was 'delusional' and had 'limited contact with the outside world outside his compound'.
The retired official disputed the authencity of the West Point materials: 'There is no linkage between these documents and the counterterrorism centre at the agency. No intelligence community analysis. When was the last time the CIA: 1) announced it had a significant intelligence find; 2) revealed the source; 3) described the method for processing the materials; 4) revealed the time-line for production; 5) described by whom and where the analysis was taking place, and 6) published the sensitive results before the information had been acted on? No agency professional would support this fairy tale.'
*
In June 2011, it was reported in the New York Times, the Washington Post and all over the Pakistani press that Amir Aziz had been held for questioning in Pakistan; he was, it was said, a CIA informant who had been spying on the comings and goings at the bin Laden compound. Aziz was released, but the retired official said that US intelligence was unable to learn who leaked the highly classified information about his involvement with the mission. Officials in Washington decided they 'could not take a chance that Aziz's role in obtaining bin Laden's DNA also would become known'. A sacrificial lamb was needed, and the one chosen was Shakil Afridi, a 48-year-old Pakistani doctor and sometime CIA asset, who had been arrested by the Pakistanis in late May and accused of assisting the agency. 'We went to the Pakistanis and said go after Afridi,' the retired official said. 'We had to cover the whole issue of how we got the DNA.' It was soon reported that the CIA had organised a fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad with Afridi's help in a failed attempt to obtain bin Laden's DNA. Afridi's legitimate medical operation was run independently of local health authorities, was well financed and offered free vaccinations against hepatitis B. Posters advertising the programme were displayed throughout the area. Afridi was later accused of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison because of his ties to an extremist. News of the CIA-sponsored programme created widespread anger in Pakistan, and led to the cancellation of other international vaccination programmes that were now seen as cover for American spying.
The retired official said that Afridi had been recruited long before the bin Laden mission as part of a separate intelligence effort to get information about suspected terrorists in Abbottabad and the surrounding area. 'The plan was to use vaccinations as a way to get the blood of terrorism suspects in the villages.' Afridi made no attempt to obtain DNA from the residents of the bin Laden compound. The report that he did so was a hurriedly put together 'CIA cover story creating ''facts''' in a clumsy attempt to protect Aziz and his real mission. 'Now we have the consequences,' the retired official said. 'A great humanitarian project to do something meaningful for the peasants has been compromised as a cynical hoax.' Afridi's conviction was overturned, but he remains in prison on a murder charge.
*
In his address announcing the raid, Obama said that after killing bin Laden the Seals 'took custody of his body'. The statement created a problem. In the initial plan it was to be announced a week or so after the fact that bin Laden was killed in a drone strike somewhere in the mountains on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border and that his remains had been identified by DNA testing. But with Obama's announcement of his killing by the Seals everyone now expected a body to be produced. Instead, reporters were told that bin Laden's body had been flown by the Seals to an American military airfield in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and then straight to the USS Carl Vinson, a supercarrier on routine patrol in the North Arabian Sea. Bin Laden had then been buried at sea, just hours after his death. The press corps's only sceptical moments at John Brennan's briefing on 2 May were to do with the burial. The questions were short, to the point, and rarely answered. 'When was the decision made that he would be buried at sea if killed?' 'Was this part of the plan all along?' 'Can you just tell us why that was a good idea?' 'John, did you consult a Muslim expert on that?' 'Is there a visual recording of this burial?' When this last question was asked, Jay Carney, Obama's press secretary, came to Brennan's rescue: 'We've got to give other people a chance here.'
'We thought the best way to ensure that his body was given an appropriate Islamic burial,' Brennan said, 'was to take those actions that would allow us to do that burial at sea.' He said 'appropriate specialists and experts' were consulted, and that the US military was fully capable of carrying out the burial 'consistent with Islamic law'. Brennan didn't mention that Muslim law calls for the burial service to be conducted in the presence of an imam, and there was no suggestion that one happened to be on board the Carl Vinson.
In a reconstruction of the bin Laden operation for Vanity Fair, Mark Bowden, who spoke to many senior administration officials, wrote that bin Laden's body was cleaned and photographed at Jalalabad. Further procedures necessary for a Muslim burial were performed on the carrier, he wrote, 'with bin Laden's body being washed again and wrapped in a white shroud. A navy photographer recorded the burial in full sunlight, Monday morning, May 2.' Bowden described the photos:
One frame shows the body wrapped in a weighted shroud. The next shows it lying diagonally on a chute, feet overboard. In the next frame the body is hitting the water. In the next it is visible just below the surface, ripples spreading outward. In the last frame there are only circular ripples on the surface. The mortal remains of Osama bin Laden were gone for good.
Bowden was careful not to claim that he had actually seen the photographs he described, and he recently told me he hadn't seen them: 'I'm always disappointed when I can't look at something myself, but I spoke with someone I trusted who said he had seen them himself and described them in detail.' Bowden's statement adds to the questions about the alleged burial at sea, which has provoked a flood of Freedom of Information Act requests, most of which produced no information. One of them sought access to the photographs. The Pentagon responded that a search of all available records had found no evidence that any photographs had been taken of the burial. Requests on other issues related to the raid were equally unproductive. The reason for the lack of response became clear after the Pentagon held an inquiry into allegations that the Obama administration had provided access to classified materials to the makers of the film Zero Dark Thirty. The Pentagon report, which was put online in June 2013, noted that Admiral McRaven had ordered the files on the raid to be deleted from all military computers and moved to the CIA, where they would be shielded from FOIA requests by the agency's 'operational exemption'.
McRaven's action meant that outsiders could not get access to the Carl Vinson's unclassified logs. Logs are sacrosanct in the navy, and separate ones are kept for air operations, the deck, the engineering department, the medical office, and for command information and control. They show the sequence of events day by day aboard the ship; if there has been a burial at sea aboard the Carl Vinson, it would have been recorded.
There wasn't any gossip about a burial among the Carl Vinson's sailors. The carrier concluded its six-month deployment in June 2011. When the ship docked at its home base in Coronado, California, Rear Admiral Samuel Perez, commander of the Carl Vinson carrier strike group, told reporters that the crew had been ordered not to talk about the burial. Captain Bruce Lindsey, skipper of the Carl Vinson, told reporters he was unable to discuss it. Cameron Short, one of the crew of the Carl Vinson, told the Commercial-News of Danville, Illinois, that the crew had not been told anything about the burial. 'All he knows is what he's seen on the news,' the newspaper reported.
The Pentagon did release a series of emails to the Associated Press. In one of them, Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reported that the service followed 'traditional procedures for Islamic burial', and said none of the sailors on board had been permitted to observe the proceedings. But there was no indication of who washed and wrapped the body, or of which Arabic speaker conducted the service.
Within weeks of the raid, I had been told by two longtime consultants to Special Operations Command, who have access to current intelligence, that the funeral aboard the Carl Vinson didn't take place. One consultant told me that bin Laden's remains were photographed and identified after being flown back to Afghanistan. The consultant added: 'At that point, the CIA took control of the body. The cover story was that it had been flown to the Carl Vinson.' The second consultant agreed that there had been 'no burial at sea'. He added that 'the killing of bin Laden was political theatre designed to burnish Obama's military credentials '... The Seals should have expected the political grandstanding. It's irresistible to a politician. Bin Laden became a working asset.' Early this year, speaking again to the second consultant, I returned to the burial at sea. The consultant laughed and said: 'You mean, he didn't make it to the water?'
The retired official said there had been another complication: some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden's body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains '' or so the Seals claimed. At the time, the retired official said, the Seals did not think their mission would be made public by Obama within a few hours: 'If the president had gone ahead with the cover story, there would have been no need to have a funeral within hours of the killing. Once the cover story was blown, and the death was made public, the White House had a serious ''Where's the body?'' problem. The world knew US forces had killed bin Laden in Abbottabad. Panic city. What to do? We need a ''functional body'' because we have to be able to say we identified bin Laden via a DNA analysis. It would be navy officers who came up with the ''burial at sea'' idea. Perfect. No body. Honourable burial following sharia law. Burial is made public in great detail, but Freedom of Information documents confirming the burial are denied for reasons of ''national security''. It's the classic unravelling of a poorly constructed cover story '' it solves an immediate problem but, given the slighest inspection, there is no back-up support. There never was a plan, initially, to take the body to sea, and no burial of bin Laden at sea took place.' The retired official said that if the Seals' first accounts are to be believed, there wouldn't have been much left of bin Laden to put into the sea in any case.
*
It was inevitable that the Obama administration's lies, misstatements and betrayals would create a backlash. 'We've had a four-year lapse in co-operation,' the retired official said. 'It's taken that long for the Pakistanis to trust us again in the military-to-military counterterrorism relationship '' while terrorism was rising all over the world '... They felt Obama sold them down the river. They're just now coming back because the threat from Isis, which is now showing up there, is a lot greater and the bin Laden event is far enough away to enable someone like General Durrani to come out and talk about it.' Generals Pasha and Kayani have retired and both are reported to be under investigation for corruption during their time in office.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's long-delayed report on CIA torture, released last December, documented repeated instances of official lying, and suggested that the CIA's knowledge of bin Laden's courier was sketchy at best and predated its use of waterboarding and other forms of torture. The report led to international headlines about brutality and waterboarding, along with gruesome details about rectal feeding tubes, ice baths and threats to rape or murder family members of detainees who were believed to be withholding information. Despite the bad publicity, the report was a victory for the CIA. Its major finding '' that the use of torture didn't lead to discovering the truth '' had already been the subject of public debate for more than a decade. Another key finding '' that the torture conducted was more brutal than Congress had been told '' was risible, given the extent of public reporting and published expos(C)s by former interrogators and retired CIA officers. The report depicted tortures that were obviously contrary to international law as violations of rules or 'inappropriate activities' or, in some cases, 'management failures'. Whether the actions described constitute war crimes was not discussed, and the report did not suggest that any of the CIA interrogators or their superiors should be investigated for criminal activity. The agency faced no meaningful consequences as a result of the report.
The retired official told me that the CIA leadership had become experts in derailing serious threats from Congress: 'They create something that is horrible but not that bad. Give them something that sounds terrible. ''Oh my God, we were shoving food up a prisoner's ass!'' Meanwhile, they're not telling the committee about murders, other war crimes, and secret prisons like we still have in Diego Garcia. The goal also was to stall it as long as possible, which they did.'
The main theme of the committee's 499-page executive summary is that the CIA lied systematically about the effectiveness of its torture programme in gaining intelligence that would stop future terrorist attacks in the US. The lies included some vital details about the uncovering of an al-Qaida operative called Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who was said to be the key al-Qaida courier, and the subsequent tracking of him to Abbottabad in early 2011. The agency's alleged intelligence, patience and skill in finding al-Kuwaiti became legend after it was dramatised in Zero Dark Thirty.
The Senate report repeatedly raised questions about the quality and reliability of the CIA's intelligence about al-Kuwaiti. In 2005 an internal CIA report on the hunt for bin Laden noted that 'detainees provide few actionable leads, and we have to consider the possibility that they are creating fictitious characters to distract us or to absolve themselves of direct knowledge about bin Ladin [sic].' A CIA cable a year later stated that 'we have had no success in eliciting actionable intelligence on bin Laden's location from any detainees.' The report also highlighted several instances of CIA officers, including Panetta, making false statements to Congress and the public about the value of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' in the search for bin Laden's couriers.
Obama today is not facing re-election as he was in the spring of 2011. His principled stand on behalf of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran says much, as does his decision to operate without the support of the conservative Republicans in Congress. High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of US policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no.
The many problems with Seymour Hersh's Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory - Vox
Tue, 12 May 2015 17:56
On Sunday, the legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh finally released a story that he has been rumored to have been working on for years: the truth about the killing of Osama bin Laden. According to Hersh's 10,000-word story in the London Review of Books, the official history of bin Laden's death '-- in which the US tracked him to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan; killed him in a secret raid that infuriated Pakistan; and then buried him at sea '-- is a lie.
Hersh's story is amazing to read, alleging a vast American-Pakistani conspiracy to stage the raid and even to fake high-level diplomatic incidents as a sort of cover. But his allegations are largely supported only by two sources, neither of whom has direct knowledge of what happened, both of whom are retired, and one of whom is anonymous. The story is riven with internal contradictions and inconsistencies.
The story simply does not hold up to scrutiny '-- and, sadly, is in line with Hersh's recent turn away from the investigative reporting that made him famous into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.
A decade ago, Hersh was one of the most respected investigative journalists on the planet, having broken major stories from the My Lai massacre in 1969 to the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. But more recently, his reports have become less and less credible. He's claimed that much of the US special forces is controlled by secret members of Opus Dei, that the US military flew Iranian terrorists to Nevada for training, and that the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria was a "false flag" staged by the government of Turkey. Those reports have had little proof and, rather than being borne out by subsequent investigations, have been either unsubstantiated or outright debunked. A close reading of Hersh's bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate.
What Seymour Hersh says really happened to Osama bin Laden
White House officials watch the 2011 raid to kill Osama bin Laden (Pete Souza/The White House via Getty)
The truth, Hersh says, is that Pakistani intelligence services captured bin Laden in 2006 and kept him locked up with support from Saudi Arabia, using him as leverage against al-Qaeda. In 2010, Pakistan agreed to sell bin Laden to the US for increased military aid and a "freer hand in Afghanistan." Rather than kill him or hand him over discreetly, Hersh says the Pakistanis insisted on staging an elaborate American "raid" with Pakistani support.
According to Hersh's story, Navy SEALs met no resistance at Abbottabad and were escorted by a Pakistani intelligence officer to bin Laden's bedroom, where they killed him. Bin Laden's body was "torn apart with rifle fire" and pieces of the corpse "tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains" by Navy SEALs during the flight home (no reason is given for this action). There was no burial at sea because "there wouldn't have been much left of bin Laden to put into the sea in any case."
In this telling, the yearslong breakdown in US-Pakistan relations, which had enormous ramifications for both Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan, was all staged to divert attention from the truth of bin Laden's killing. The treasure trove of intelligence secured from bin Laden's compound, Hersh adds, was manufactured to provide evidence after the fact.
What is the proof?The evidence for all this is Hersh's conversations with two people: Asad Durrani, who ran Pakistan's military intelligence service from 1990 to 1992, and "a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad." Read that line again: knowledgeable about the initial intelligence. Not exactly a key player in this drama, and anonymous at that.
Hersh produces no supporting documents or proof, nor is the authority of either source established. We are given no reason to believe that either Durrani or the "knowledgeable official" would have even second- or thirdhand knowledge of what occurred, yet their word is treated as gospel. His other two sources are anonymous "consultants" who are vaguely described as insiders.
Beyond that, Hersh's proof is that he finds the official story of the Osama bin Laden raid to be unconvincing. And he points out that in the first days after the raid, the administration released details that cast bin Laden in a negative light '-- saying he tried to use one of his wives as a shield, for example '-- that it later walked back. But raising questions about the official story is not the same as proving a spectacular international conspiracy.
If that seems like worryingly little evidence for a story that accuses hundreds of people across three governments of staging a massive international hoax that has gone on for years, then you are not alone.
On Sunday night, national security journalists and analysts on Twitter picked through the story, expressing dismay at its tissue-thin sourcing, its leaps of logic, and its internal contradictions.
Some of the problems with Hersh's history of Abbottabad
Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Getty Images)
Perhaps the most concerning problem with Hersh's story is not the sourcing but rather the internal contradictions in the narrative he constructs.
Most blatant, Hersh's entire narrative turns on a secret deal, in which the US promised Pakistan increased military aid and a "freer hand in Afghanistan." In fact, the exact opposite of this occurred, with US military aid dropping and US-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan plummeting as both sides feuded bitterly for years after the raid.
Hersh explains this seemingly fatal contradiction by suggesting the deal fell apart due to miscommunication between the Americans and Pakistanis. But it's strange to argue that the dozens of officials on both sides would be competent enough to secretly plan and execute a massive international ruse, and then to uphold their conspiracy for years after the fact, but would not be competent enough to get on the same page about aid delivery.
And there are more contradictions. Why, for example, would the Pakistanis insist on a fake raid that would humiliate their country and the very military and intelligence leaders who supposedly instigated it?
A simpler question: why would Pakistan bother with the ostentatious fake raid at all, when anyone can imagine a dozen simpler, lower-risk, lower-cost ways to do this?
Why not just kill bin Laden, drive his body across the border into Afghanistan, and drop him off with the Americans? Or why not put him in a hut somewhere in Waziristan, blow it up with an F-16, pretend it was a US drone strike, and tell the Americans to go collect the body? (Indeed, when I first heard about Hersh's bin Laden story a few years ago from a New Yorker editor '-- the magazine, the editor said, had rejected it repeatedly, to the point of creating bad blood between Hersh and editor-in-chief David Remnick '-- this was the version Hersh was said to favor.)
"helping Obama boost US-Pakistan relations seems like an unusual hobby for an al-Qaeda leader"
If Pakistan's goal is increased US aid, why do something that will virtually force the US to cut aid, as it indeed did? For that matter, why retaliate against the US for the raid that you asked them to conduct? Pakistan's own actions against the US, after all, ensured that it had less influence in Afghanistan.
By the same token, why would the US cut a secret deal with Pakistan to allow that country a "freer hand" in Afghanistan '-- essentially surrendering a yearslong effort to reduce Pakistani influence there '-- rather than just taking out bin Laden without Pakistan's permission?
There are smaller but still troubling inconsistencies. Why, for example, would the US need to construct a massive double of the Abbottabad compound for special forces to train in, if the real compound were going to be totally unguarded and there would be no firefight?
See also, for example, the intelligence material that the US brought back from bin Laden's compound and then displayed to the world. Hersh says that, in fact, bin Laden had spent the previous five years a hostage of Pakistani intelligence rather than an active member of al-Qaeda. The intelligence "treasure trove" was thus a fabrication, cooked up by the CIA after the raid to back up the American-Pakistani conspiracy.
This is a strange thing to argue, as Carnegie Endowment Syria research AronLund points out, because al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri subsequently said the intelligence materials were real, and had quoted from them himself. So either Hersh is wrong or, Lund writes, "Zawahiri is helping Obama forge evidence to boost US-Pakistan relations, which seems like an unusual hobby for an [al-Qaeda] leader."
when facts seem to contradict his claims, his answer is that this only shows how deep the rabbit hole goes
In other words, for Hersh to be correct that the intelligence material was faked, and thus that bin Laden was a secret prisoner of Pakistani intelligence, and thus that the raid to kill him was a staged American-Pakistani ruse, then al-Qaeda would have had to be in on it '-- even though al-Qaeda was also the supposed victim of Pakistan's plot.
As for Hersh's story of what really happened to bin Laden's body '-- "torn to pieces with rifle fire" and thrown bit by bit out the door of the escaping helicopter, until there was not enough left to bury '-- it is difficult to know where to begin. It is outlandish to imagine small arms fire reducing a 6-foot-4 man "to pieces," not to mention the sheer quantity of time and bullets this would take. Are we really to believe that special forces would spend who knows how long gleefully carving up bin Laden like horror movie villains, and then later reaching into the body bag to chuck pieces of him out of a helicopter, for no reason at all? On the most sensitive and important operation of their careers?
When Hersh acknowledge the vast evidence against his theory, he typically dismisses it out of hand, at times arguing that it is in fact proof that the Pakistani-American-Saudi architects of this plan were so brilliant that they spent years meticulously engineering their actions at every level so as to appear to be doing the opposite of what Hersh suggests.
For example, Hersh says the CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Bank, was a key player in helping the Pakistanis stage the bin Laden raid. But the year before the raid, a Pakistani journalist publicly named Bank (many suspect, and Hersh agrees, that this was done at Pakistani intelligence's behest), thus imperiling his life, forcing him to flee the country and sparking a diplomatic incident that set back US-Pakistan relations. Hersh says this entire monthslong incident was staged, a "cover in case their co-operation with the Americans in getting rid of bin Laden became known."
Hersh's story is littered with such justifications: when facts seem to squarely contradict his claims, his answer is that this only goes to show how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Seymour Hersh's slide off the rails
The prison at Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Seymour Hersh helped bring systemic American abuses at the facility to light. (Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty)
In early 2004, Hersh reported one of the most important stories of the Iraq War: the torture of detainees at the American-run prison complex in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. In a series of articles for the New Yorker, Hersh revealed horrific and systemic American torture, as well as its authorization at the highest levels of the Bush administration. While earlier investigations by the Associated Press and Amnesty International had uncovered aspects of this story, the depth of Hersh's reports proved both damning and shocking, contributing to a public backlash against both Abu Ghraib and the war itself.
The Abu Ghraib stories were in line with Hersh's reputation as one of the most respected investigative reporters alive. That reputation goes back to 1969, when Hersh uncovered the My Lai massacre, in which American troops killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. He later broke elements of the Watergate story while working for the New York Times.
In recent years, however, Hersh has appeared increasingly to have gone off the rails. His stories, often alleging vast and shadowy conspiracies, have made startling '-- and often internally inconsistent '-- accusations, based on little or no proof beyond a handful of anonymous "officials."
Supporters of Hersh will often point to his earlier stories in defense of his more recent work, saying that we should trust his sources and not dismiss his reporting so easily. Fair enough. But Hersh's stories on Abu Ghraib or My Lai or Watergate were sourced with documented evidence (in the case of Abu Ghraib, a damning internal military report) and interviews with firsthand participants.
For his bin Laden story, however, he has no documented evidence, and his sources are limited to a couple of "consultants," one "retired official with knowledge," and a Pakistani spymaster who left that world 23 years ago. If Hersh still has his once-famous connections in the American intelligence world, they do not show up here.
Similarly, Hersh's earlier blockbusters were all quickly confirmed by dozens of independent reports and mountains of physical proof. That's how such expos(C)s typically work: the first glint of sunshine brings a rush of attention, which uncovers more evidence and encourages more sources to come forward, until the truth is incontrovertible.
That is not how things have gone with Hersh's newer and more conspiratorial stories. Rather, they have tended to remain all alone in their claims, and at times have been debunked. This is not, in other words, the first time.
The growing list of conspiracy theoriesThe first hints came in the latter years of the Bush administration, when Hersh reported repeatedly that the US was on the verging of striking Iran. These included reports stating that the US might even bomb Iran with a nuclear warhead, and later that the administration had considered using US special forces disguised as Iranians to launch a "false flag" attack as a premise for war.
These reports seemed a bit far-fetched, particularly since Hersh kept predicting a strike that never came. And, troublingly, they were often sourced to perhaps one or two anonymous "consultants" or "former officials" who were said to "have knowledge" of high-level discussions.
The Iran stories were difficult to accept on anything much more than faith. How do you prove that Dick Cheney never had a meeting in his office during which someone verbally proposed pinning a false flag attack on Iran? You can't. In any case, Hersh had a long record of excellence, and who was going to doubt Cheney's capacity for hawkishness?
The moment when a lot of journalists started to question whether Hersh had veered from investigative reporting into something else came in January 2011. That month, he spoke at Georgetown University's branch campus in Qatar, where he gave a bizarre and rambling address alleging that top military and special forces leaders "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta ... many of them are members of Opus Dei." He suggested that they belong to a network first formed by former Vice President Dick Cheney that is steering US foreign policy toward an agenda of bringing Christianity to the Middle East.
They do see what they're doing '-- and this is not an atypical attitude among some military '-- it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.
... That's the attitude. "We're gonna change mosques into cathedrals." That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.
As Blake Hounshell pointed out at the time, there is no evidence for any of this '-- many of the US military leaders that Hersh named are known as personally liberal and not outwardly religious, and in any case both Opus Dei and Knights of Malta are Catholic service organizations very different from the shadowy forces portrayed in Dan Brown novels.
The next year, in 2012, Hersh reported in the New Yorker that the Bush administration had secretly armed and funded an Iranian terrorist group known as the MEK in 2005. Two sources, neither with direct knowledge, told Hersh that American special forces had flown the Iranians all the way to Nevada to train at a base there. This detail was both spectacular and puzzling: the US has bases throughout the world, including several in the Middle East; why bring terrorists to Nevada?
To be clear, the story was never specifically discredited, but neither has it ever been confirmed by any subsequent investigations into Bush-era national security policy, of which there have been many. Hersh's story was greeted skeptically by many reporters and analysts. Hersh is still employed by the New Yorker, but he has not written an investigative piece for the magazine since.
The Syria chemical weapons story
A UN chemical weapons inspector in Ghouta, Syria. (Ammar al-Arbini/AFP/Getty)
Since the 2012 MEK story, Hersh has published his primary investigative work in the London Review of Books.
Two of these articles have focused at great length on the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Syria, that killed hundreds of civilians. An extensive UN report, while barred from formally assigning responsibility, pointed out that the chemical weapons were delivered by munitions only used by the Syrian military, and had been fired from an area entirely controlled by Syrian military forces. Independent investigations by human rights groups pointed the finger at forces loyal to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. So did the US government.
Hersh, in his two articles, states that this is all false. In December 2013, he claimed that the Obama administration, seeking to justify its threat to strike Syria in retaliation, had willingly downplayed or ignored evidence that the chemical weapons had in fact been launched by the al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra. He cited a handful of anonymous (and, strangely, often retired) "officials" who warned of a "deliberate manipulation of intelligence" and compared Ghouta to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the US escalation in Vietnam.
Then, in April 2014, Hersh came out with a different story: the government of Turkey, he stated, had orchestrated the Ghouta chemical weapons attack with Jabhat al-Nusra as a false flag operation. Assad was innocent. Turkey and the al-Qaeda branch had cooked up the plan, intending that the attack would be blamed on the Syrian government, thus leading the United States to attack Syria. (You will notice, again, Hersh's preoccupation with false flag operations.)
The accusation of a Turkish-jihadist conspiracy to lure the US into war with Syria seemed stunning '-- and, to many, outlandish. Could it be true? No independent investigation has yet confirmed it, and the story has been exhaustively and repeatedly debunked, including by Eliot Higgins and Dan Kaszeta, two respected analysts who focus on small arms and chemical weapons in Syria.
As time goes on, Hersh's stories seem to become more spectacular, more thinly sourced, and more difficult to square with reality as we know it. Perhaps one day they will all be vindicated: the Opus Dei special forces cabal, the terrorist training in Nevada, the American plan to nuke Iran, the Turkish false flag in Syria, even the American-Pakistani bin Laden ruse.
Maybe there really is a vast shadow world of complex and diabolical conspiracies, executed brilliantly by international networks of government masterminds. And maybe Hersh and his handful of anonymous former senior officials really are alone in glimpsing this world and its terrifying secrets. Or maybe there's a simpler explanation.
WATCH: 'Why conspiracy theories are rational to believe'
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Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article at one point referenced the My Lai massacre and Ghouta chemical weapons attack as occurring in 1969 and 2014, respectively, when in fact those were the years when Hersh's stories on the incidents were published. Other references to those events in the story described their timing accurately. The article has been corrected.
A GALLERY OF FAKE DEAD BIN LADENS | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
Tue, 12 May 2015 22:24
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A GALLERY OF FAKE DEAD BIN LADENSBy Michael RiveroFirst off, whoever was killed in that house was not shot by any US forces!
Pakistan actually shot the man claimed to be bin Laden.
At about 1:20 a.m. local time a Pakistani helicopter was shot down by unknown people in the Sikandarabad area of Abbotabad. The Pakistani forces launched a search operation in the nearby area and encountered with a group of unknown armed people. A fire exchange followed between the two sides.
When the fire exchange ended, the Pakistani forces arrested some Arab women and kids as well some other armed people who later confessed to the Pakistani forces they were with someone they thought was Osama Bin laden when the fire was exchanged and "Bin Laden" was killed in the firing.
What appears to have happened is that President Obama tried to steal the Pakistanis' thunder by sending in the SEAL team to capture the body, then claim victory for the US. But as the "victory" was leaked to the press, word finally reached the White House from Abbotabad that the dead man wasn't the real Osama Bin Laden (who had died of Marfan Syndrome in December of 2001), so the body was dumped into the ocean and a flurry of hastily made (and very sloppy) fake photos leaked to the internet and members of Congress to cover up the latest monumental goof!
UPDATE: Sy Hersh has published an article confirming the above attempt by Obama to grab the glory for the death of "Osama." But the story is even more interesting in that the man who was killed was not Osama Bin Laden to begin with! The first fake photo, used by Reuters' and the British Press.
US Senator Scott Brown confirmed that this was the image he was shown as part of an official US government briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested he had viewed them as part of an official briefing, and he argued that they were too graphic to be released to the public and could enflame terrorists.
Oops.
Brown later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.
And here is how the fake was made!The mouth and beard from a photo of the real Bin Laden in the mid 80s was photoshopped onto the head of another dead man."If at first you don't succeed, lie, lie again!" -- Motto of the White House
Another photo that was leaked onto the net following the collapse of the first fake. The White House strategy appears to have been to "test" the fakes with leaks, then go with the first image that appeared to fool everyone. This one did not.Ignoring the bullet hole this guy looks very healthy for ten years of dialysis. The nose is also too narrow. But the main reason to disregard this as another likely fake is simple. This image is tainted green to make it look like a night vision image, yet the soldier at right is looking off left, apparently able to see just fine without night vision goggles. And finally, there is something missing from this image that should be there (besides night vision goggles).
There is an illumination source to the upper right of the camera taking this image. You can see the resulting shadows on the jaw line and cheek of the soldier. More to the point, there is clearly a shadow from the soldier's face extending left from his face and falling on the floor and the side of "Osama's" face. Yet there is no trace of a similar shadow from the face of "Osama" above the beard near the right eye. And didn't the White House say "Osama" was shot above the LEFT eye?Source image for the second fake is found; a clip from the movie "Blackhawk Down."
Flipped left to rightAnd merged with another fake bin Laden.Third fake!
The people who want to send your children off to die in wars on Israel's enemies are nothing if not persistent. After the above Blackhawk Down failed, they tried once more.
This is a simple morph, again exposed when the original source image was located by a WRH reader.The real Osama Bin Laden ...
... died of natural causes, specifically Marfan Syndrome, in December 2001.
News of Bin Laden's Death and Funeral 10 days ago Islamabad - A prominent official in the Afghan Taliban movement announced yesterday the death of Osama bin Laden, the chief of Al-Qaeda organization, stating that bin Laden suffered serious complications in the lungs and died a natural and quiet death. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, stated to The Observer of Pakistan that he had himself attended the funeral of bin Laden and saw his face prior to burial in Tora Bora 10 days ago. He mentioned that 30 of Al-Qaeda fighters attended the burial as well as members of his family and some friends from the Taleban. In the farewell ceremony to his final rest guns were fired in the air. The official stated that it is difficult to pinpoint the burial location of bin Laden because according to the Wahhabi tradition no mark is left by the grave. He stressed that it is unlikely that the American forces would ever uncover any traces of bin Laden.
Even Fox News reported Bin Laden was dead in 2001 ... until it was decided that a live Bin Laden was more useful to the war hawks than a dead one!
Click for larger image
In 2007, shortly before her own assassination, Benazir Bhutton confirmed that Osama Bin Laden was dead.
The above is from the last known video of the real Bin Laden, just weeks before his death. Note the indications on his skin of the effects from dialysis.Every Bin Laden shown on TV since then has been a phony to justify wars, TSA, and the loss of your civil protections.
In one notorious case, the FBI simply took the face from a Spanish politician, photoshopped it, and claimed it was Bin Laden.
In another case, the CIA openly admitted making fake Bin Laden videos.Finally, a photo used to support the claim that a 24 (or 29; the story kept changing) year old woman was Bin Laden's wife, the Daily Mail published the following photo.
Take a close look at the fingers in the Daily Mail photo of the passport. This is another photoshop creation and a very clumsy one at that. The face seems to be an overlay as well and not part of the actual image of the passport.Fool me once ...
Common sense will tell you that if you have real evidence of a real event, you do not need, nor would you risk, using a fake piece of evidence, because of the fake is exposed, doubt is cast on the real evidence. So, if the US Government is showing phony bin Laden photos to the Senater Armed Services Committee, it means all the evidence must be fake.
The above photo is supposedly of the White House staff deep in concentration while watching the execution of Bin Laden. But it is a posed and staged shot. Nobody bothered to turn on the laptop computers on the table!
Defenders of the official story have written in to claim that the laptops have privacy screens so that only the person directly in front can read the screens, and this is why they all appear black. But I took a photo of a computer with a privacy screen and the screens blur the image when viewed from the side, but still allow light through.
Pathetic attempt by Obama to take credit for 'getting' Bin Laden.
Sent in by a reader!
It is known that ears are as unique as fingerprints. NO two are exactly the same and ears are used for identificatrion on photos where fingerprints are not available.
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The Detail in Seymour Hersh's Bin Laden Story That Rings True - NYTimes.com
Wed, 13 May 2015 08:26
From the moment it was announced to the public, the tale of how Osama bin Laden met his death in a Pakistani hill town in May 2011 has been a changeable feast. In the immediate aftermath of the Navy SEAL team's assault on his Abbottabad compound, American and Pakistani government accounts contradicted themselves and each other. In his speech announcing the operation's success, President Obama said that ''our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.''
But others, including top Pakistani generals, insisted that this was not the case. American officials at first said Bin Laden resisted the SEALs; the Pakistanis promptly leaked that he wasn't armed. Then came differing stories from the SEALs who carried out the raid, followed by a widening stream of new details from government reports '-- including the 336-page Abbottabad Commission report requested by the Pakistani Parliament '-- and from books and interviews. All of the accounts were incomplete in some way.
The latest contribution is the journalist Seymour Hersh's 10,000-word article in The London Review of Books, which attempts to punch yet more holes '-- very big ones '-- in both the Obama administration's narrative and the Pakistani government's narrative. Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan's military-intelligence agency, held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and that ''the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden's whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S.''
On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh's. Beginning in 2001, I spent nearly 12 years covering Pakistan and Afghanistan for The Times. (In his article, Hersh cites an article I wrote for The Times Magazine last year, an excerpt from a book drawn from this reporting.) The story of the Pakistani informer was circulating in the rumor mill within days of the Abbottabad raid, but at the time, no one could or would corroborate the claim. Such is the difficulty of reporting on covert operations and intelligence matters; there are no official documents to draw on, few officials who will talk and few ways to check the details they give you when they do.
Two years later, when I was researching my book, I learned from a high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the ISI had been hiding Bin Laden and ran a desk specifically to handle him as an intelligence asset. After the book came out, I learned more: that it was indeed a Pakistani Army brigadier '-- all the senior officers of the ISI are in the military '-- who told the C.I.A. where Bin Laden was hiding, and that Bin Laden was living there with the knowledge and protection of the ISI.
I trusted my source '-- I did not speak with him, and his information came to me through a friend, but he was high enough in the intelligence apparatus to know what he was talking about. I was confident the information was true, but I held off publishing it. It was going to be extremely difficult to corroborate in the United States, not least because the informant was presumably in witness protection.
I do not recall ever corresponding with Hersh, but he is following up on a story that many of us assembled parts of. The former C.I.A. officer Larry Johnson aired the theory of the informant '-- credited to ''friends who are still active'' '-- on his blog within days of the raid. And Hersh appears to have succeeded in getting both American and Pakistani sources to corroborate it. His sources remain anonymous, but other outlets such as NBC News have since come forward with similar accounts. Finally, the Pakistani daily newspaper The News reported Tuesday that Pakistani intelligence officials have conceded that it was indeed a walk-in who provided the information on Bin Laden. The newspaper names the officer as Brigadier Usman Khalid; the reporter is sufficiently well connected that he should be taken seriously.
This development is hugely important '--it is the strongest indication to date that the Pakistani military knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts and that it was complicit in hiding a man charged with international terrorism and on the United Nations sanctions list.
I cannot confirm Hersh's bolder claims '-- for example, that two of Pakistan's top generals, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the former army chief, and Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the director of the ISI, had advance knowledge of the raid. But I would not necessarily dismiss the claims immediately. Hersh's scenario explains one detail that has always nagged me about the night of Bin Laden's death.
After one of the SEALs' Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound, neighbors called the police and reported hearing both the crash and the subsequent explosions. The local police told me that they received the calls and could have been at the compound within minutes, but army commanders ordered them to stand down and leave the response to the military. Yet despite being barracked nearby, members of the Pakistani Army appear to have arrived only after the SEALs '-- who spent 40 minutes on the ground without encountering any soldiers '-- left.
Hersh's claim that there was little or no treasure trove of evidence retrieved from Bin Laden's home rings less true to me. But he has raised the need for more openness from the Obama administration about what was found there.
Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times and the author of ''The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2004.''
Seymour Hersh Succumbs To Disinformation -- Paul Craig Roberts - PaulCraigRoberts.org
Wed, 13 May 2015 18:11
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Knight Foundation invests $1 million in creator-driven podcast collective Radiotopia >> Nieman Journalism Lab
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:09
May 12, 2015, 9 a.m.
The money will help PRX's collective of public media-minded shows develop sustainable business models and expand with new shows and producers.
A little over a year ago, a group of public radio-minded podcast producers banded together with an idea: to combine their powers to grow a shared audience and develop a better business model for fledgling audio entrepreneurs.
Radiotopia, as the name suggests, is as aspirational as it is practical, a place for independent producers to learn from one another and try to make lasting shows that connect with listeners. Since launch, they've grown to 11 shows from seven, with monthly downloads growing to 7.5 million from 900,000. And they're making money: They expect a 45 percent increase in sponsorships over last year, according to PRX.
''It succeeded beyond what we expected for growth, and it whet our appetite for much more,'' said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, which created Radiotopia. ''It's hard to see the ceiling in terms of the potential growth for new shows, the audiences we could reach.''
Now Radiotopia is getting a big push towards the future with a $1 million grant from the Knight Foundation to help expand into new shows and new listeners. (Disclosure: Knight is also a funder of Nieman Lab.) Specifically, the Knight grant will be used to support the operations of existing shows by improving production quality and funding new stories and ongoing projects.
PRX will also hire an executive producer for Radiotopia, who will oversee the expansion and collaborate with individual producers to share lessons and develop stories. And the grant will seed a pilot fund that will be used to discover new shows and audio talent who could become part of the collective.
Roman Mars, producer of Radiotopia show 99% Invisible, said Knight's support will help make it possible for more people to move into producing their shows full-time. ''The reason why this money is good is it gives you this ramp-up time to have some space and positioning and resources so you can make it sustainable,'' he said. ''The hard part is quitting your job so you can put out a show every week. You can't do that right away.''
Radiotopia thrives off collaboration, Mars said, as producers share their skills with one another. This grant makes it possible for them to do things like help each other improve their audio quality and think creatively about long-term planning. ''We come together in these ways and each of us brings a different set of expertise,'' he said.
Knight backed the launch of Radiotopia in February 2014 with a $200,000 grant '-- one still remembered in the closing credits of Radiotopia episodes' closing credits, alongside the usual paeans to Mailchimp and Squarespace.Chris Barr, Knight director for media innovation, said that Radiotopia has demonstrated its ability to rethink how audio storytelling is conceived, delivered, and supported. ''Their experiences can help establish a means for independent producers to become more sustainable and draw in new funding,'' he said in a statement.
Knight is investing in Radiotopia as podcasts and audio storytelling are capturing more attention from the public. Some attribute that to shows like Serial, but as Pew's State of the News Media found, listenership has been steadily growing for a number of years.Whatever the causes, many media companies '-- some with a history in radio and more without '-- are vying for attention between our ears. But podcasting remains a fairly new form of media, and advertising remains at an early stage as well.Shaprio attributes the rise of podcasts to our devices, not just our smartphones but the proliferation in apps like Stitcher or Apple's native Podcasts app. ''The Serial effect served to shine a spotlight on all those trends and showed there's an audience far beyond the know audience of early adopters or even listeners of public radio,'' he said.
The original idea behind Radiotopia was to help shows like 99% Invisible, Theory of Everything, and Radio Diaries by creating a kind of federation of independent audio producers. Specifically, the shows could cross-promote and mingle listenerships and negotiate for sponsorships as a group. Sponsorships make up the bulk of revenue for the shows, Shapiro said, and working as a collective allows PRX to sell across the network of programs and share the revenue.
As Radiotopia has grown, so has the need for more help to track sponsorships across shows and coordinate with individual producers on the types (preroll, midroll) and language of the spots. But Radiotopia is also interested in developing other lines of support for podcasts, not limited to events, crowdfunding, and individual donations, Shapiro said.
The bridge between the initial grant from Knight last year and today's funding was a Kickstarter campaign that aimed to raise over $200,000 to support the network. With help from 21,800 backers they raised $620,412, which was a record for an audio project on the crowdfunding site.
Mars said what's important for Radiotopia's shows is the community, not just the money. Mars has previously used Kickstarter to fund 99% Invisible and said the campaigns demonstrated the connection listeners felt with show and their investment in its success. The key is finding ways to make that connection endure, to tap into that inclination from ''support from viewers like you'' without basing it around specific projects.
''The key component that can't be ignored is that we have an audience that is primed to give through decades of public radio asks,'' he said.
They plan to grow that audience by bringing in a more diverse collection of shows and personalities, Mars said. The pilot fund will enable Radiotopia to expand its network in big and small ways, through open calls for submissions as well as specifically targeted requests. Mars said they need to do better in terms of diversity, reaching out to people of color and women for their ideas. But they also need to expand outside what can be a limited public media mindset of the themes or topics that could be a show.
''My dream of this is we would say, 'We really want a video game show hosted by a woman of color,' and we put it out into the world and see who comes back,'' he said.
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Podcasting and the Selling of Public Radio - The Awl
Wed, 13 May 2015 17:42
A couple of weeks ago, NPR and two of its most influential member stations, WNYC and WBEZ, invited a large group of media and marketing people to Le Poisson Rouge, a nightclub in Greenwich Village, for an event called ''Hearing is Believing.'' Its purpose was to persuade brands to advertise on public media podcasts. Onstage, some of the most listened-to podcasters'--Jad Abumrad, Guy Raz, Glynn Washington, Brooke Gladstone, Lulu Miller'--presented public radio's offerings: an intimately engaged audience, a unique narrative platform, a chance for ''Mail Kimp''-level virality. Later, after an indie band performed, Ira Glass, the host of This American Life and producer of Serial, told a reporter for AdAge, ''My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market.'' He added, ''Public radio is ready for capitalism.''
In 1961, during a broadcast-industry convention, the message public media delivered to the private sector was quite different: In what has become known as the ''wasteland speech,'' Newton Minow, then-chairman of the FCC, criticized the corrosive effects of commercial media and mapped out a vision for ad-free, publicly supported alternatives. ''The people own the air,'' Minow reminded the crowd. The efforts of Minow and his fellow social democrats coalesced into the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act, which led to the founding of PBS and NPR, and established the rule that so-called noncommercial educational broadcasters must make clear where their money comes from'--but without advertising in order to limit private influence on public airwaves.
Since then, the FCC has required that public broadcasters acknowledge their sponsors through underwriting spots'--short, neutral, non-promotional messages made for ''identification purposes only.'' But on the internet, those rules are basically null; there is no publicly owned digital commons to regulate, and the FCC has no say yet over public broadcasters' websites, apps, or podcasts.
''Podcasts are not donated airwaves. They're podcasts,'' Erik Diehn, the vice president of business development at Midroll Media, a podcast media company, told me over the phone. ''There's no exchange happening where the broadcaster has to agree not to take ads because they are being given this grant of a public good.'' Midroll Media produces original shows like WTF with Marc Maron and Comedy Bang! Bang! and sells advertising on nearly two hundred podcasts, including shows from Public Radio International (an NPR rival), like Studio 360 and Science Friday. The company's ads'--''integrated, native, often host-read spots'''--are hugely effective compared to most internet advertising, so businesses pay good money for them. Podcasts, which tend to run one or two ads before the show and two or three ads during the show, can earn around three hundred dollars per ad if they average at least ten thousand listeners. For the elite circle of shows with over four hundred thousand listeners'--generally the iTunes Top 50'--a single ad spot can net over ten thousand dollars.
While there are a few legal hurdles facing public media's entry into the free market, for the first time, U.S. public radio will be able to broadcast commercials.1 And because hosts and producers aren't just offering ad space, but effectively branding content, they are threatening a long-protected public trust.
NPR has allowed corporate sponsorship of their podcasts since at least 2003. Back then, funding credits followed on-air rules for underwriting: a short, neutral message, usually at the start of a show. Sponsor, slogan, website. This year, NPR began rolling out longer, more promotional spots, as in calls to action for a business, in the middle of their shows. On Car Talk, Ray Magliozzi makes first-person approvals of products punctuated with his signature laugh. In a recent episode of Fresh Air with guest Louis C.K., an ad for stamps.com'--though not voiced by Terry Gross'--is scored with music from the soundtrack to Louie. NPR's new flagship podcast, Invisibilia, runs two thirty-second spots together in the middle of the show, produced with funky music and lively voices that interchange, Radiolab-style.
''These credits cannot be voiced by NPR journalists, but non-journalist hosts of entertainment podcasts may voice credits,'' Bryan Moffett, interim president and CEO of National Public Media, which handles NPR's corporate sponsorships, told me in an email. ''We will not offer endorsements, testimonials, specific product prices, or promotional calls to purchase. Podcast credits may mention an offer or discount for podcast listeners, and tell them where or how to get it, however.'' NPR's podcast sponsorship guidelines have yet to be further defined, Moffett said. But NPR is committed to maintaining ''a non-commercial posture with sponsorship on digital platforms because users expect us to have the same sound and non-commercial feel everywhere they listen or experience NPR.''
When I asked Kerri Hoffman, chief operations officer (also my former boss) at the Public Radio Exchange, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that produces and distributes shows like Reveal'--whose host Al Letson has started reading ad copy mid-show'--about their podcast sponsorship policy, she said, ''We actually encourage our hosts to deliver spots in keeping with the sound of the show. We do ask that they identify sponsors as such'--to make it clear that it is a paid sponsorship.'' As for underwriters sending producers gifts, as podcast advertisers sometimes do, so that personalities can personally endorse products, she told me, ''I think this is absolutely of concern with news shows. It is a little less clear with entertainment programs.'' She told me producers do a great job policing themselves. Most shows on Radiotopia'--PRX's podcast network funded, in part, by large grants and listener support'--make sure that sponsor products aren't too closely aligned with show topics, for example.2
Maximum Fun, a non-profit podcast network like Radiotopia, takes a more old-school approach to underwriting. ''Generally speaking, we try not to have more than two ad spots in a show, we keep them short and avoid personal endorsements, hard selling, and products we don't like,'' Jesse Thorn, host of Bullseye and the network's president, wrote in an email. ''We're listener-supported, and we love to have companies support us as well, but advertising isn't the core of what we do.''
In this early stage of podcasting, listener expectations are far from set. The ''sonic environment'' of podcasts, as Diehn put it, isn't like that of the radio dial, which makes the difference between commercial and noncommercial channels clearer. When listeners subscribe to podcasts'--six is the average number'--they don't necessarily hear institutions or networks; they hear individual producers from a variety of backgrounds making similar choices. ''So when you hear an ad on This American Life that sounds not too different from WTF, it's all consistent in the listener's soundscape.'' He added, ''Those ads tend to not be obtrusive. They tend to sound good. They tend to sound like the rest of the show. So I think as long as you stay in that range of listener expectations, you're not going to offend listener tastes too much.''
Benjamen Walker, host of the Radiotopia podcast Theory of Everything, isn't so sure about the true cost of these ads. ''No one's getting paid enough for what that means: using your own credibility, your own voice'--the reason people are listening to your show'--to read the ad copy,'' he told me over the phone. Walker has started reading ads at the end of his show, the way Roman Mars does in his podcast, 99% Invisible. ''The show's over. That bothers me a lot less,'' he said. But when it comes to public radio people reading ad copy at the beginning or middle of a show, Walker told me ''that's a terrible, terrible idea.''
''The leg up that public media folks have going into podcasting comes from this connection to the listener-supported content model,'' he said. ''And for us to endanger that with the fucking ads seems like a terrible idea. Who's going to want to give support for their favorite podcast when they hear eight million ads?''
Advertising on public radio doesn't totally undermine the virtues that make public radio public or worth supporting; we accept ads on city subway platforms and in non-profit magazines.3 However, what makes these ads troubling is that they don't sound like ads: They sound like public radio. They exploit a special kind of trust listeners reserve for noncommercial educational media'--a trust built over decades and deeply connected to the distance producers have maintained from a profit motive'--to get listeners to buy things. Advertisements, no matter how relevant or blended-into-the-tone-of-the-show they are, serve only to extract dollars from the listener. Public radio serves a civic good.
When Jay Allison, the great curator and de facto leader of public radio here in the states, gave a speech in 2011, he defined public radio as ''a mission-based enterprise.'' He said:
Mission can become inconvenient sometimes, too much work. Understandably, as an enterprise, we crave success, too. And money. For one thing, those are quantifiable. And this is tricky, because when success and audience numbers and money are the goal, our mission can become a burden. There are easier ways to get money, and we get lazy. '... The original purpose of public broadcasting, I think it's worth remembering, was broadly educational. Education is an unassailable civic good.
We're getting lazy.
Think of the old Newton Minow principle: what interests the public '‰ the public interest. Clicking around the internet, it's clear that we've entered another wasteland, only now we face the omnidirectional pressures of data brokers and targeted advertising, of competition for likes, shares, and unique visitors, of the entrepreneurial (journopreneurial?) class's gospel of monetization. With their ''personalized storytelling'' and ''especially sticky audiences,'' podcasts might seem like a ''pretty natural fit'' for native advertising. But shouldn't public media, of all things, avoid mixing commerce and culture?
''This line between what is public media and what is not doesn't exist anymore,'' Walker says. ''But I think aesthetically you, as a creator, can guard what you do and what you don't do with your own voice.'' Public media organizations would be served well, then, to at least write out their podcast sponsorship guidelines'--as they would a privacy policy'--to keep ads minimized and commercial pressure away from people making art and news. Do you air ads in the middle of a show or in the credits? Who produces and voices the ads? How long should they be? Can anyone sponsor a show? Do you treat entertainment different from news? Should producers be sent gifts from their underwriters? And really, listeners should have the final word.
Maybe, once the dominant public radio sound'--which owes everything to This American Life's twee first-person storytelling and fake populism'--is sold off, a rising generation of listeners and podcasters will want to organize around something different, online. Something more community-minded. Or something that at least takes its audience more seriously. Maybe something closer in spirit to Radio 4, Home of the Brave, PRX Remix, Berlin Community Radio, The Biggest Story in the World, or Paper Radio. A new, more democratic, public media for the internet. What would that sound like?
Here are the legal hurdles. First, public broadcasters, like any registered U.S. nonprofits, need to pay tax on revenue from advertisements, defined by the IRS as: messages containing qualitative or comparative language; price information or other indications of savings or value; an endorsement; or an inducement to purchase, sell or use any company, service, facility, or product. Also, according to Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a non-profit tax lawyer, nonprofits can't raise a substantial amount of money'--the number is around twenty percent of total income'--from unrelated business, or they risk losing their tax-exempt status. Finally, by inserting ads into their podcasts, public radio stations run the risk of violating contract agreements, like with music publishers who limit use of their recordings to noncommercial purposes.
The distinction between crowdfunding and real public funding is worth keeping in mind. As Astra Taylor writes in The People's Platform, ''Crowdfunding allows individual creators to raise money from their contacts, which gives well-known and often well-resourced individuals a significant advantage. In contrast, a government agency must concern itself with the larger public good, paying special attention to underserved geographic regions and communities.''
As a case study of one, here are my own habits when it comes to audio-related stuff and giving money. I am a twenty-four-year-old white male whose annual income falls under fifty thousand dollars, and as of May 12th, 2015, I listen to real radio more often than podcasts, but I do subscribe to the following shows through an app called Podspace on my Moto E smartphone, which I usually hook up to a monaural Tivoli speaker around bedtime: Fugitive Waves, The World in Words, Theory of Everything, FACT MIXES, Car Talk, Ideas, 99% Invisible, The Bugle, Short Cuts, Comedy Bang! Bang!, In Our Time, Between the Ears, Love + Radio, Re:Sound, and Radio Diaries. I give five dollars a month to MPBN to support public media in my home state of Maine. I started giving ten dollars a month to WMBR in Cambridge, where I live now, during one of their pledge drives, because I love them and want to help them however I can. I gave forty dollars to Radiotopia's Kickstarter campaign. I did not give anything to Serial when Sarah Koenig asked for money, not because I was annoyed by the manufactured vox pop commercial but because the show felt like blockbuster entertainment, and I don't see the point of supporting just one show.
Photo by Patrick Breitenbach
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Shut Up Slave!
PODCAST LICENSE-David Cameron to unveil new limits on extremists' activities in Queen's speech | UK news | The Guardian
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:52
David Cameron will tell the national security council that Britain has been a 'passively tolerant society' for too long. Photograph: Scott Heppell/PA
A counter-terrorism bill including plans for extremism disruption orders designed to restrict those trying to radicalise young people is to be included in the Queen's speech, David Cameron will tell the national security council on Wednesday.
The orders, the product of an extremism task force set up by the prime minister, were proposed during the last parliament in March, but were largely vetoed by the Liberal Democrats on the grounds of free speech. They were subsequently revived in the Conservative manifesto.
The measures would give the police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the ''harmful activities'' of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ''threat to the functioning of democracy''.
The aim is to catch not just those who spread or incite hatred on the grounds of gender, race or religion but also those who undertake harmful activities for the ''purpose of overthrowing democracy''.
They would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web and social media or in print. The bill will also contain plans for banning orders for extremist organisations which seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places, but it will fall short of banning on the grounds of provoking hatred.
It will also contain new powers to close premises including mosques where extremists seek to influence others. The powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities that misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism will also be strengthened.
Related:It wasn't just Lib Dems who opposed Theresa May's counter-extremism plans
Cameron will tell the NSC: ''For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.
''This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.
''Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
''We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society.''
The home secretary, Theresa May, will say: ''The twisted narrative of extremism cannot be ignored or wished away. This government will challenge those who seek to spread hatred and intolerance by forming a new partnership of every person and organisation in this country that wants to defeat the extremists.''
The proposals arose out of the response to the killing in May 2013 of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London, and the murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham a month earlier.
A separate bill will be introduced later in the parliament to revive and extend the so-called snoopers charter, which would include the retention of records of phone calls, emails and other data.
David Cameron Unleashes Frightening Attack on 'Tolerance' Through Proposed Extremism Laws - Truthdig
Thu, 14 May 2015 02:33
Less than a week into his second term as prime minister, David Cameron is set to introduce a series of tough new laws redefining what it means to be an extremist in Britain.
''For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach,'' states a briefing released by Cameron's office.
Anyone expressing an ideology that the government views as ''extreme'' will be required to apply for permission to print or post to social media, and as part of the strategy, Cameron will fast-track powers to allow British police to vet the online conversations of those considered extremists. According to The Independent, the new package is expected to include:
' The introduction of banning orders for extremist organizations that use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription.
' New Extremism Disruption Orders to restrict people who seek to radicalize young people
' Powers to close premises where extremists seek to influence others
' Strengthening the powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities that channel funds toward extremism and terrorism
' Further immigration restrictions on extremists
' A strengthened role for Ofcom (the U.K.'s communications regulator) to take action against channels that broadcast extremist content.
Vetoed in March by former coalition partners the Liberal Democrats on the grounds that it violates free speech, the legislation package is expected to be pushed through by the new Conservative majority as part of the Queen's Speech proposals at the end of May.
The proposed legislation has already drawn criticism from civil liberties groups that claim the ban on extremists could be adapted to cover anyone, including protesters the government disagrees with.
As Emma Norton, a legal officer at the civil liberties organization Liberty, noted in a statement, ''Just a few months after the prime minister marched in Paris in defense of free speech [in the aftermath of the attacks on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo] he proposes measures to help shut it down.''
''Driving those who despise diversity underground does nothing to challenge their beliefs,'' she said, adding, ''you don't protect democracy by undermining the freedoms that sustain it.''
'--Posted by Roisin Davis
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Extremism | Definition of extremism by Merriam-Webster
Thu, 14 May 2015 04:53
Full Definition of EXTREMISM1
: the quality or state of being extremeSee extremism defined for English-language learners First Known Use of EXTREMISM1865
Rhymes with EXTREMISMabsurdism, activism, Adventism, alarmism, albinism, alpinism, anarchism, aneurysm, anglicism, animism, aphorism, Arabism, archaism, asterism, atavism, atheism, atomism, atticism, Bahaism, barbarism, Benthamism, biblicism, blackguardism, bolshevism, boosterism, botulism, bourbonism, Brahmanism, Briticism, Caesarism, Calvinism, can-do-ism, careerism, Castroism, cataclysm, catechism, Catharism, centralism, chauvinism, chimerism, classicism, communism, concretism, conformism, cretinism, criticism, cronyism, cynicism, dadaism, dandyism, Darwinism, defeatism, de Gaullism, despotism, die-hardism, dimorphism, Docetism, do-goodism, dogmatism, Donatism, Don Juanism, druidism, dynamism, egoism, elitism, embolism, endemism, erethism, ergotism, erotism, escapism, Essenism, etatism, eunuchism, euphemism, euphuism, exorcism, expertism, fairyism, familism, fatalism, feminism, feudalism, fideism, fogyism, foreignism, formalism, futurism, gallicism, galvanism, gangsterism, genteelism, Germanism, giantism, gigantism, globalism, gnosticism, Gongorism, Gothicism, gourmandism, gradualism, grangerism, greenbackism, Hasidism, heathenism, Hebraism, hedonism, Hellenism, herbalism, hermetism, hermitism, heroism, highbrowism, Hinduism, hipsterism, hirsutism, hispanism, Hitlerism, hoodlumism, hoodooism, hucksterism, humanism, Hussitism, hybridism, hypnotism, Ibsenism, idealism, imagism, Irishism, Islamism, Jansenism, jim crowism, jingoism, journalism, John Bullism, Judaism, Junkerism, kabbalism, kaiserism, Krishnaism, Ku Kluxism, laconism, laicism, Lamaism, Lamarckism, landlordism, Latinism, legalism, Leninism, lobbyism, localism, locoism, Lollardism, luminism, lyricism, magnetism, mammonism, mannerism, Marcionism, masochism, mechanism, melanism, meliorism, Menshevism, Mendelism, mentalism, methodism, me-tooism, modernism, Mohockism, monachism, monadism, monarchism, mongolism, Montanism, moralism, Mormonism, morphinism, mullahism, mysticism, narcissism, nationalism, nativism, nepotism, neutralism, nihilism, NIMBYism, nomadism, occultism, onanism, optimism, oralism, Orangeism, organism, ostracism, pacifism, paganism, Pan-Slavism, pantheism, Parsiism, passivism, pauperism, phallicism, pianism, pietism, Platonism, pleinairism, pluralism, pointillism, populism, pragmatism, presentism, privatism, prosaism, Prussianism, puerilism, pugilism, Puseyism, Pyrrhonism, Quakerism, quietism, rabbinism, racialism, rationalism, realism, reformism, rheumatism, rigorism, robotism, Romanism, Rousseauism, rowdyism, royalism, satanism, saturnism, savagism, scapegoatism, schematism, scientism, sciolism, Scotticism, Semitism, Shakerism, Shintoism, skepticism, socialism, solecism, solipsism, Southernism, specialism, speciesism, Spartanism, Spinozism, spiritism, spoonerism, Stalinism, standpattism, stoicism, syllogism, symbolism, synchronism, syncretism, synergism, talmudism, tarantism, tectonism, tenebrism, terrorism, Teutonism, titanism, Titoism, toadyism, tokenism, Toryism, totalism, totemism, transvestism, traumatism, tribalism, tritheism, Trotskyism, ultraism, unionism, urbanism, utopism, Vaishnavism, vampirism, vandalism, vanguardism, Vedantism, veganism, verbalism, virilism, vitalism, vocalism, volcanism, voodooism, vorticism, voyeurism, vulcanism, vulgarism, Wahhabism, warlordism, welfarism, Wellerism, witticism, womanism, yahooism, Yankeeism, Yiddishism, Zionism, zombiism tag **/@-moz-document url-prefix() {.scrabble_speedbump_container .speedbump_blurb {margin:0;padding:25px 0 0 0;}}]]>Learn More About EXTREMISM div iframe {background: white !important;border: 0;height: 721px; /* changed from 790px to maintain 16:9 aspect ratio. */margin: 0;padding: 0;width: 1282px; }#video-overlay .overlay-content > div {border: 0;box-shadow: 1px 0 10px #222222;height: 721px; /* changed from 790px to maintain 16:9 aspect ratio. */margin: 0 auto;padding: 0;width: 1282px;position: relative;top: 50%;/* Firefox */top: -moz-calc(50% - 360px);/* 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ITS A BACKDOOR INDEMNIFIED!-USA Freedom Act Passes House, Codifying Bulk Collection For First Time, Critics Say - The Intercept
Thu, 14 May 2015 02:28
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
After only one hour of floor debate, and no allowed amendments, the House of Representatives today passed legislation that opponents believe may give brand new authorization to the U.S. government to conduct domestic dragnets.
The USA Freedom Act was approved in a 338-88 vote, with approximately equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans voting against. The bill's supporters say it will disallow bulk collection of domestic telephone metadata, in which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has regularly ordered phone companies to turn over such data. The Obama administration claims such collection is authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which is set to expire June 1. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently held that Section 215 does not provide such authorization.
Today's legislation would prevent the government from issuing such orders for bulk collection and instead rely on telephone companies to store all their metadata '-- some of which the government could then demand using a ''specific selection term'' related to foreign terrorism. Bill supporters maintain this would prevent indiscriminate collection.
''A vote in favor of this bill is a vote to end dragnet surveillance in the United States,'' Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., a co-sponsor of the legislation, claimed on the House floor ahead of the vote.
However, the legislation may not end bulk surveillance and in fact could codify the ability of the government to conduct dragnet data collection.
''We're taking something that was not permitted under regular section 215 '... and now we're creating a whole apparatus to provide for it,'' Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said on Tuesday night during a House Rules Committee proceeding.
''The language does limit the amount of bulk collection, it doesn't end bulk collection,'' Rep. Amash said, arguing that the problematic ''specific selection term'' allows for ''very large data collection, potentially in the hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions.''
In a statement posted to Facebook ahead of the vote, Rep. Amash said the legislation ''falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans' data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.''
''While I appreciate a number of the reforms in the bill and understand the need for secure counter-espionage and terrorism investigations, I believe our nation is better served by allowing Section 215 to expire completely and replacing it with a measure that finds a better balance between national security interests and protecting the civil liberties of Americans,'' Congressman Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said in a statement explaining his vote against the bill.
The USA Freedom Act also makes reforms to the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and adds transparency measures that allow tech companies to report on intelligence requests they receive from the government.
Not addressed in the bill, however, are a slew of other spying authorities in use by the NSA that either directly or inadvertently target the communications of American citizens.
Lawmakers offered several amendments in the days leading up to the vote that would have tackled surveillance activities laid out in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12333 '-- two authorities intended for foreign surveillance that have been used to collect Americans' internet data, including online address books and buddy lists.
The House Rules Committee, however, prohibited consideration of any amendment to the USA Freedom Act, claiming that any changes to the legislation would have weakened its chances of passage.
The measure now goes to the Senate where its future is uncertain. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to schedule the bill for consideration, and is instead pushing for a clean reauthorization of expiring Patriot Act provisions that includes no surveillance reforms.
Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have threated to filibuster any bill that extends the Patriot Act without also reforming the NSA.
Sam Sacks is a writer and reporter living in Washington, D.C. He is the co-founder of the watchdog news site The District Sentinel.
Photo: A new National Security Agency data center in Bluffdale, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)
section215.org registered on May 28 2011!
Google Public Policy Blog: A strong vote to reform our surveillance laws
Thu, 14 May 2015 02:27
Posted by Susan Molinari, VP, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Americas We're grateful that the U.S. House of Representatives just approved the USA Freedom Act, which -- as I blogged last week -- takes a big step toward reforming our surveillance laws while preserving important national security authorities. It ends bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, allows companies like Google to disclose national security demands with greater granularity, and creates new accountability and oversight mechanisms.
The bill's authors have worked hard to forge a bipartisan consensus, and the bill approved today is supported by the Obama Administration, including the intelligence community. The bill now moves to the other side of the Capitol, and we hope that the Senate will use the June 1 expiration of Section 215 and other legal authorities to modernize and reform our surveillance programs, while recognizing the importance of protecting Americans from harm. We believe the bill approved today achieves that goal.
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Trade Promotion Authority | United States Trade Representative
Thu, 14 May 2015 03:34
For more than 30 years, Congress has enacted Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) laws to guide both Democratic and Republican Administrations in pursuing trade agreements that support U.S. jobs, eliminating barriers in foreign markets and establishing rules to stop unfair trade.
TPA does not provide new power to the Executive Branch. TPA is a legislative procedure, written by Congress, through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and spells out a detailed oversight and consultation process for during trade negotiations. Under TPA, Congress retains the authority to review and decide whether any proposed U.S. trade agreement will be implemented.
With Trade Promotion Authority, the United States will be able to pursue 21st century trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers, service providers, farmers and ranchers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.
What is TPA?Since 1974, Congress has enacted TPA legislation that defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment. TPA reaffirms Congress's overall constitutional role in the development and oversight of U.S. trade policy.
Key elements of TPA'--
(1) TPA outlines Congressional guidance to the President on trade policy priorities and negotiating objectives.
(2) TPA establishes Congressional requirements for the Administration to notify and consult with Congress, with the private sector and other stakeholders and with the public during the negotiations of trade agreements.
(3) TPA defines the terms, conditions and procedures under which Congress allows the Administration to enter into trade agreements, and sets the procedures for Congressional consideration of bills to implement the agreements.
Why is TPA important?TPA SUPPORTS U.S. JOB GROWTHEvery $1 billion in exports of U.S. goods and services supports more than 5,000 U.S. jobs. In 2012, exports of U.S. goods and services supported an estimated 9.8 million American jobs, including 25 percent of all manufacturing jobs. Expanded exports have added 1.3 million American jobs since 2009, and those export-supported jobs pay 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage. The way to support more of these high-paying jobs is to expand trade and investment opportunities. And the way to make sure that happens is to support TPA.
TPA HELPS EXPORT MORE 'MADE IN AMERICA' PRODUCTS ABROAD
We know that exports support American jobs. And we know that U.S. trade agreements sustain those job-supporting exports: our agreements with just 20 partners support 46 percent of our country's goods exports overall. In fact, exports accounted for a third of U.S. growth since 2009. The trade agreements we're working on right now '' T-TIP and TPP '' account for 65 percent of the world's goods and services trade and would account for 69 percent of U.S. goods exports. TPA will help to get those agreements in force and support American jobs.
TPA MAKES TRADE AGREEMENTS BETTER- AND THE U.S. MORE COMPETITIVE GLOBALLYThrough TPA, Congress outlines high-standard objectives and priorities for U.S. negotiators to pursue in trade agreements, a process which helps build consensus on U.S. trade policy. Upwards of 250 trade agreements between other countries are in force and many more are currently being negotiated. While these agreements are not the high-standard, comprehensive trade agreements the U.S. negotiates, foreign companies have better and cheaper access to these markets and this places U.S. workers, businesses and farmers at a relative disadvantage. In fact, China and Europe are currently negotiating agreements with other Asia-Pacific partners that could displace U.S. goods, services and agriculture products and set standards that exclude the U.S. exports from their markets.
Updating TPA ensures our trading partners know U.S. negotiators have the support of Congress when we call for greater ambition and stronger, high-standard trade agreements. This is particularly important on newer issues affecting our ability to compete in the global economy, such as leveling the playing field between state-owned enterprises and our private firms. Moreover, high-standard agreements encourage countries outside U.S. trade agreements to raise their own standards. And that helps American businesses and workers compete better globally.
TPA ENSURES TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN TRADETPA bills establish consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the trade agreement negotiation process '' ensuring that Congress, stakeholders and the public are closely involved before, during and after the conclusion of trade agreement negotiations. And TPA explicitly retains Congress's ultimate authority to decide whether the United States will implement any trade agreement.
Since the Administration notified Congress of our intent to enter negotiations of the TPP in 2009, USTR has closely followed Congressional objectives and notification and consultation provisions required under TPA. USTR has consulted hundreds of times with Congressional committees with jurisdiction over international trade negotiations, consistently requesting input on the direction, focus, and content of TPP negotiations. And USTR continually meets with Members and staff from other committees regarding particular issues of interest.
In addition to our congressionally mandated committees of industry and public sector advisers , the United States consults with all interested stakeholders at each trade agreement negotiating round and in between. We do this to share information and get views that make the negotiated product better. For TPP, these stakeholders have included representatives from academia, labor unions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. Under TPA, this activity would continue and be strengthened.
Resource List:
The President's 2014 Trade AgendaUSTR 50th Anniversary Trade FactsTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)Testimony by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman before the House Committee on Ways and Means - July 18, 2013United States Trade Representative Michael Froman Testimony on the 2014 Trade Agenda - April 3, 2014 Jobs Supported by State Exports, 2013 FTA Partners- Total Goods Exports & Imports Bureau of Economic Analysis
Feud with Warren breaks open amid 'fast track' vote - The Washington Post
Wed, 13 May 2015 16:31
Grass-roots liberal movements gave birth to two Democratic stars over the past decade: one who rode a wave of antiwar sentiment into the White House and the other who became the ideological standard-bearer in the party's fight against big banks and corporate greed.
Now, in a battle few saw coming three years ago, President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are locked in an increasingly personal feud over a global trade deal that the president is trying to finalize in his last years in the White House. The clash has become a defining battle for Democrats, as Obama seeks '-- and Warren resists '-- ''fast-track ­authority'' from Congress that would give him a freer hand to cut trade deals.
The immediate goal for Obama is to make it easier to win approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations that would affect roughly 40'‚percent of the global economy.
The Democratic infighting is beginning to shape the economic themes of the campaign to succeed Obama in the Oval Office. Warren has said repeatedly that she will not run but that she is focused on trying to force the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, further to the left on economic issues.
Warren appears to have won the initial battles. Senate Democrats on Tuesday stalled an effort to move the Trade Promotion Authority measure as the overwhelming majority of them supported a friendly-fire filibuster.
Senate Democrats blocked legislation on Tuesday that would have given President Obama the power to grant ''fast-track'' authority to move trade deals quickly through Congress. (Reuters)
Clinton, meanwhile, has provided almost no cover for Obama on the trade issue even though she played a role in the early talks on the TPP and has long claimed the ''pivot to Asia'' as one of her most important accomplishments as Obama's first secretary of state.
[Clinton hedge on trade leaves Obama without political cover]
Against this backdrop, the bad blood between the White House and Warren has spilled into the open.
What began with a slight jab at Warren's trade views '-- ''She's wrong on this,'' Obama told MSNBC three weeks ago '-- has escalated into a series of daily barbs and retorts carried out on cable TV and Internet interviews, on radio shows and from the official podium at the White House.
Over the weekend, Obama used a rather harsh turn of phrase '-- ''a politician like everybody else'' '-- against Warren, who has carefully constructed an image as a principled voice in the wilderness taking unpopular political stands to help the voiceless working class.
Warren returned fire in interviews and appearances Monday and Tuesday, accusing the president of duplicity because he ''won't actually let people read the agreement'' before Tuesday's procedural vote in the Senate.
''The president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated but that is still held in secret,'' she told NPR on Tuesday morning.
Behind the scenes, according to Democratic aides and lobbyists, Warren is encouraging Democrats to oppose the TPA bill. She has paid particular attention to junior members of her state's House delegation.
It is an unusual time in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) '-- who once declared that his top goal was to make sure Obama was not reelected in 2012 '-- now boasts about a handwritten letter the president sent him after McConnell voted for Loretta E. Lynch's appointment as attorney general.
And on trade they are open allies. Aides said McConnell and Obama talked strategy over the phone Monday. Republicans, in general, said they have never before worked this closely with the Obama White House on a domestic policy issue.
Allies of Warren were taken aback by the personal nature of the president's remarks.
''I think the president was disrespectful to her, the way he did that. I think the president has made this more personal than he needed to,'' Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has led opposition to the trade legislation, told reporters after Tuesday's vote.
Brown said that some of Obama's comments were perceived as insults directed not only at Warren but also at other Democratic opponents of the trade deal.
[Why President Obama is so annoyed with Elizabeth Warren]
But some pro-trade Democrats said they understood why the president feels so strongly that Warren was overreaching in her criticisms. ''I mean, I think it's a president that wants a trade agreement, and I think a member of his party is going out of her way, and that bothers him, so that's all I can say,'' Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday.
The Obama-Warren relationship has never been particularly close, but it wasn't openly hostile until recent weeks.
Since the late 1990s, as a Harvard law professor and expert on bankruptcy law, Warren has been an influential voice on long-term wage trends affecting the middle and working classes. At the time, she had few allies in Washington beyond then-Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.), whose late-night calls to her Cambridge, Mass., office she likes to recall in her speeches.
After the Wall Street crash of 2008, she served as the head of a congressionally appointed panel overseeing the implementation of a $700 billion bank bailout. She became a special adviser to Obama and had an important role in one of the key pieces of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that rewrote regulations for financial institutions: the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Republicans made clear that they would filibuster any nominee to head the CFPB, and eventually Obama gave up on appointing Warren '-- to the dismay of many liberal activists, who by then had begun to view her as the more pure liberal fighter.
But the appointment to the relatively obscure CFPB turned out to be the best thing to never happen to Warren. Instead, Senate Democrats recruited her to return to Massachusetts to run against Sen. Scott Brown (R) in 2012.
With her future somewhat intertwined with the president's, Warren used a high-profile speech at Obama's nominating convention to break away from Brown in what looked like a neck-and-neck race until the early fall.
She raised more than $42'‚million for her Senate race '-- a staggering sum for a first-time candidate for office '-- fueled by millions of small-dollar donors drawn to her message.
Warren's tenure in the Senate has been focused on banking and Wall Street, and she has made countless appearances in liberal settings or with liberal media outlets to argue that wage stagnation is causing the middle class to fall behind.
Democrats largely latched onto this message for the 2014 midterm elections, and Warren became a star on the campaign trail, working for other candidates. But the effort paid little dividend to anyone but Warren. Democrats lost nine Senate seats and were relegated to their smallest number of House seats since before the Great Depression.
This year Warren has been more willing to prod fellow Democrats, including Obama and Clinton.
Clinton has responded by signaling that her 2016 campaign will embrace many Warren-advocated ideas, seeking out the senator's views in private meetings and writing a piece for Time magazine that praised Warren for holding ''powerful people's feet to the fire.''
Recently, Obama grew tired of Warren's tactics on the trade bill '-- some of which resemble what Republicans used against the 2010 health-care law. The president is particularly irked by Warren's representations that the ­Pacific trade deal is being kept secret. The White House points out that members of Congress are allowed to review its current stages in a classified room in the Capitol basement.
Obama also resents her assertion that future trade deals would roll back portions of the Dodd-Frank law.
''On most issues, she and I deeply agree,'' Obama told Yahoo News on a visit to Nike's headquarters in Oregon, where he trumpeted the trade deal. ''On this one, though, her arguments don't stand the test of fact and scrutiny.''
Paul Kane covers Congress and politics for the Washington Post.
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The Verizon-AOL Deal: It's About Mobile Ad Revenue - The Atlantic
Tue, 12 May 2015 16:49
My wife leansin. A year ago, after nine hours of labor, she received an epidural and immediately asked me to pass the iPad so she could send a note to work. I suggested that this time should be for us and for the little girl who was making her way into the world, but it's hard to argue with a woman who's eight centimeters dilated. Besides, why not send the note? Soon enough the baby, our second, would be out. The pause for an epidural was the most calm we would see for months. We are all in the thick of it, in the mash-up of work and family, in the confounding blur of everything, instantly, at once, the way life happens now. Why waste a moment?
A year after The Atlantic published Anne-Marie Slaughter's ''Why Women Still Can't Have It All,'' the plutocratic wave of feminism continues to roll in. Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In looks to dominate the best-seller lists for months to come. Both accounts are full of stories like the iPad in the delivery room, stories of women furiously multitasking, worrying about family over champagne at a United Nations event, or diagnosing children with head lice while aboard a corporate jet. Men are mostly offstage. Slaughter, to her great credit, talks repeatedly about her husband, noting that he has done everything possible to support both her career and their two sons, including taking on the lion's share of parenting duties while she commuted for two years from Princeton to Washington, D.C. Sandberg, too, talks about her husband's role at home (in her book's dedication, she credits him with ''making everything possible''). But in the ensuing discussion of gender politics, which has been conducted almost entirely by women, for women, men are far more anonymous'--implacable opponents of progress in the upper echelons, helpless losers elsewhere. Meanwhile, the good husbands'--the selection of whom is ''the most important career choice'' young women can make, according to Sandberg'--are as silent as the good wives once were.
FCC adds $9 billion to broadband subsidy fund | PCWorld
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:51
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to shift US$9 billion over five years from traditional telephone subsidies to broadband subsidies, in an effort to bring high-speed Internet services to 5 million U.S. residents who don't have access.
The FCC, as expected, voted on a proposal to shift $1.8 billion a year from the rural telephone subsidies in its Universal Service Fund to its broadband-focused Connect America Fund, amounting to a 70 percent increase in broadband deployment subsidies.
''Thanks to the Connect America Fund, we've taken a serious bite out of the lack of broadband access in America [and] put ourselves on a path to remedying that,'' FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said.
The FCC vote provides $1.8 billion a year, starting in 2015, to a broadband deployment fund where large carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications have the first shot at accepting the subsidies. If the large carriers turn down the subsidy, the FCC would conduct an auction to give the subsidy to other carriers.
The commission also voted to ask for public input on a series of questions about its broadband subsidies, including whether the agency should require that carriers getting subsidies deliver download speeds of 10Mbps, instead of the current 4Mbps requirement.
Broadband speeds are increasing in many areas, ''but the last thing we want is for USF to result in some kind of second-class status for broadband in rural areas,'' Wheeler said.
The FCC voted in October 2011 to begin transitioning subsidies for traditional telephone service in its Universal Service Fund to broadband subsidies. To date, the new Connect America Fund has spent $438 million to expand broadband to about 1.6 million U.S. residents and $300 million to expand mobile broadband service.
The broadband fund subsidizes deployments in rural communities and other areas where it would be expensive to build networks.
The commission's two Republican members raised questions about the Connect America Fund plan, with Commissioner Ajit Pai protesting a provision that would allow carriers to raise the so-called rate floor, the minimum amount they can charge for basic phone service and still get the subsidy, from about $14 to $20.46 a month in some rural areas. The rate floor increase would be phased in through 2017.
''The rate floor targets our farmers, our ranchers, our small-town entrepreneurs and other rural Americans with a significant rate hike,'' he said. ''It will harm access to service for some of the most vulnerable consumers in rural America.''
Some rural lawmakers and consumer groups have also protested the rate hikes. The rate floor is congressionally mandated to keep telephone service rates in rural and urban areas relatively comparable, so that some parts of the country are not subsidizing service for other parts, Wheeler noted.
Also on Wednesday, the commission voted to seek pubic comments on a proposal to run spectrum sharing experiments in the 3.5 GHz band.
The proposal would largely implement recommendations from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in 2012. The PCAST report called on the U.S. government to share its spectrum in the 3.5GHz band now used by radar systems. Radar systems could share the spectrum with other wireless services using small cells, the report said.
The spectrum-sharing plan is the future of spectrum management, said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. ''What we are poised to do with this band is creative, innovative and will serve as the blueprint for making smarter use of our airwaves going forward,'' she said.
Grant Gross Washington CorrespondentGrant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for the IDG News Service, and is based in Washington, D.C.More by Grant Gross
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Deprecating Non-Secure HTTP | Mozilla Security Blog
Wed, 13 May 2015 19:27
The real reason for deprecating HTTP and enforcing even non-important websites to use HTTPS, so that restrictive governments can ensure they're arresting the right party upon mere suspicion or curiosity.
Encryption also encourages more waste of energy versus just using plain text, and usually requiring people to upgrade to the newer and faster hardware.
If there were other more legitimate reasons aside from fear, we would have been told by now.
This is more like the analogy; because I do not feel safe traveling streets having rowdy bars at night, I'm going to carry a gun (or be a vigilante) versus just choosing to avoid the troubled streets at night. People have choices, and I think I'll choose not to use encryption when I obviously do not need it the majority of my time. Makes me sick to see people devote themselves to writing code and climbing the ladder of life, only to endorse such meaingless policies for promoting controversies. What a waste of time.
Can't Agree more¼
Richard Barnes (Firefox Security Lead) sold his soul to the devil and this is why he is pushing this agenda. All CAs have been compromised, which makes any SSL certificate insecure. I personally consider the PKI as good as clear text. If Barnes is a bit intelligent, he should know this. By forcing websites owners to buy SSL certificates, he is opening the door on privacy and censor those who the government do not like the content (of course to protect the poor and vulnerable children from dangerous website like wikileaks).
Complete and utter rubbish.
Even if a CA is compromised, you don't give the CA your private key, they simply sign your public key and it's up to web clients to determine if they consider your certificate valid.
Your assertion that ''All CAs have been compromised'' is pure brilliance'... care to produce some actual evidence to back that up?
It doesn't matter whether you give the CA your private key or not if the CA has been compromised, because those with control over the CA can MITM any connections you make and you'll be unable to tell.
Because non encrypted connections are way better against MITM /s
Check out https://letsencrypt.org/
I'm afraid he's right. Tell people they care about security and then to use an allready compromised tecnology. So sad most people don't know this. Conspiracy?? '' well '' sometimes when they cry wolf '' a wolf will come. Look at documentaries on youtube about the 2008 crises '' about 9/11 '' how the federal reserve robs every american. So many strange things going on. Bush saying PUBLICLY ''Let's us not listen to conspiracy theories. Let us focus our time on catching the terrorrists''. If you dont want comspiracy theories, then let the public see the evidence instead of hiding 90% of it. It's sad, and most likely they will get away with it.
About Lets Encrypt
Thu, 14 May 2015 05:23
Let's Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public's benefit. Let's Encrypt is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).
The key principles behind Let's Encrypt are:
Free: Anyone who owns a domain name can use Let's Encrypt to obtain a trusted certificate at zero cost.Automatic: Software running on a web server can interact with Let's Encrypt to painlessly obtain a certificate, securely configure it for use, and automatically take care of renewal.Secure: Let's Encrypt will serve as a platform for advancing TLS security best practices, both on the CA side and by helping site operators properly secure their servers.Transparent: All certificates issued or revoked will be publicly recorded and available for anyone to inspect.Open: The automatic issuance and renewal protocol will be published as an open standard that others can adopt.Cooperative: Much like the underlying Internet protocols themselves, Let's Encrypt is a joint effort to benefit the community, beyond the control of any one organization.ISRG is a California public benefit corporation, and is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. ISRG's mission is to reduce financial, technological, and education barriers to secure communication over the Internet.
ISRG is proudly sponsored by a diverse group of organizations, from non-profits to Fortune 100 companies. We believe we can set an example for how everyone interested in a more secure Internet can work together to provide digital infrastructure for the public's benefit. See this page for more on our sponsors.
Our current board members are:
Josh Aas (Mozilla) '-- ISRG Executive DirectorStephen Ludin (Akamai)Dave Ward (Cisco)J. Alex Halderman (University of Michigan)Andreas Gal (Mozilla)Jennifer Granick (Stanford Law School)Alex Polvi (CoreOS)Peter Eckersley (EFF) '-- ObserverOur TAB consists of technical experts from major supporting organizations, as well as independent experts with strong CA/PKI industry experience.
Rich Salz (Akamai)Joe Hildebrand (Cisco)Jacob Hoffman-Andrews (Electronic Frontier Foundation)J.C. Jones (Mozilla)Russ Housley (Independent)Ryan Hurst (Independent)
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Keeping Your Car Safe From Electronic Thieves - NYTimes.com
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:37
PhotoCredit Gary HallgrenLast week, I started keeping my car keys in the freezer, and I may be at the forefront of a new digital safety trend.
Let me explain: In recent months, there has been a slew of mysterious car break-ins in my Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. What's odd is that there have been no signs of forced entry. There are no pools of broken glass on the pavement and no scratches on the doors from jimmied locks.
But these break-ins seem to happen only to cars that use remote keyless systems, which replace traditional keys with wireless fobs. It happened to our neighbor Heidi, who lives up the hill and has a Mazda 3. It happened to Simon, who lives across the street from me and has a Toyota Prius.
And it happened to our Prius, not once, but three times in the last month.
The most recent incident took place on a Monday morning 10 days ago. I was working at my kitchen table, which overlooks the street in front of my house. It was just after 9 a.m., when one of my perky-eared dogs started to quietly growl at something outside.
I grabbed my coffee cup and wandered to the window, where I saw two teenagers on bikes (one girl, one boy) stop next to my 2013 gray Prius.
I watched as the girl, who was dressed in a baggy T-shirt and jeans, hopped off her bike and pulled out a small black device from her backpack. She then reached down, opened the door and climbed into my car.
As soon as I realized what had happened, I ran outside and they quickly jumped on their bikes and took off. I rushed after them, partly with the hope of catching the attempted thieves, but more because I was fascinated by their little black device. How were they able to unlock my car door so easily?
When the police arrived, they didn't have much of an answer. (The thieves didn't get away with anything; after all the break-ins, we no longer keep anything in the car.) I called Toyota, but they didn't know, either (or at least the public relations employee didn't know).
When I called the Los Angeles Police Department's communications desk, a spokesman said I must have forgotten to lock my car. No, I assured him, I had not. But his query did make me question my sanity briefly.
I finally found out that I wasn't crazy in, of all places, Canada.
The Toronto Police Service issued a news release last Thursday warning that thieves ''may have access to electronic devices which can compromise'' a vehicle's security system. But the police did not specify what that ''device'' actually was.
Thieves have been breaking into and stealing cars with the help of electronic gadgets for several years now. Jalopnik, the car blog, has written about a ''secret device''used to unlock cars. And dozens of other websites have told stories about burglars hacking into cars. As these reports illustrate, and videos online show, in some instances thieves are able to drive away with the cars without needing a key.
Still, I continued my search. Diogo M"nica, a security researcher and chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Public Visibility Committee, said that some sophisticated thieves have laptops equipped with a radio transmitter that figures out the unique code of a car's key fob by using ''brute force'' to cycle through millions of combinations until they pick the right one.
The most famous case, he said, was in 2006 when thieves were able to steal David Beckham's $100,000 BMW X5 by using such a rig.
Security researchers I spoke with said that most cars with a keyless entry system can be hacked.
But none of the contraptions Mr. M"nica or others told me about seemed to be what those teenagers used.
A more likely answer came from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a trade group for auto insurers and lenders, which issued a warning last month about a ''mystery device'' that can emulate a key. In one YouTube video, the group compiled surveillance footage that showed thieves using the gadget to open doors with ease.
Similar reports have surfaced on The Register, a technology news site, and on car message boards, about a simple $30 device made in China and Eastern Europe that allows thieves to break into and steal BMWs. Since I don't own a BMW, that wasn't right, either.
I finally found what seems like the most plausible answer when I spoke to Boris Danev, a founder of 3db Technologies, a security company based in Switzerland. Mr. Danev specializes in wireless devices, including key fobs, and has written several research papers on the security flaws of keyless car systems.
When I told him my story, he knew immediately what had happened. The teenagers, he said, likely got into the car using a relatively simple and inexpensive device called a ''power amplifier.''
He explained it like this: In a normal scenario, when you walk up to a car with a keyless entry and try the door handle, the car wirelessly calls out for your key so you don't have to press any buttons to get inside. If the key calls back, the door unlocks. But the keyless system is capable of searching for a key only within a couple of feet.
Mr. Danev said that when the teenage girl turned on her device, it amplified the distance that the car can search, which then allowed my car to talk to my key, which happened to be sitting about 50 feet away, on the kitchen counter. And just like that, open sesame.
''It's a bit like a loudspeaker, so when you say hello over it, people who are 100 meters away can hear the word, 'hello,' '' Mr. Danev said. ''You can buy these devices anywhere for under $100.'' He said some of the lower-range devices cost as little as $17 and can be bought online on sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist.
Mr. Danev said his company was in talks with several car manufacturers to install a chip that can tell how far the key is from the car, thereby defeating the power-amplifier trick.
While I can't be 100 percent certain this is the device they used to get into my car, until car companies solve the problem, he said, the best way to protect my car is to ''put your keys in the freezer, which acts as a Faraday Cage, and won't allow a signal to get in or out.''
Which is why my car key is now sitting next to a tub of chocolate ice cream.
A version of this article appears in print on April 16, 2015, on page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: Yes, I Meant to Freeze the Keys.
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Caliphate!
Death hug: ISIS fighters reportedly posing as gays to lure homosexuals to their death | Fox News
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:39
In the latest example of ISIS' barbarity toward gays, members are pretending to make passes at suspected homosexuals to draw them out, only to kill them, say activists. (Twitter)
The latest evidence of ISIS' boundless cruelty is the terror group's new tactic of tricking gays into coming out by posing as homosexuals, only to lure their innocent prey to death by public execution, say human rights advocates.
The radical Islamist group's hatred of gays has been widely known, as grim images and video have circulated on the web showing men being thrown to their deaths from buildings solely for their sexual orientation. But now, say horrified activists in Syria, ISIS fighters have taken their intolerance to a new low. Recent photos on social media show the doomed, blindfolded men being hugged just before they are killed.
"They hug the men to show the people who are watching that ISIS is not at fault."
- Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently activist
"ISIS has never forgiven one person," said Abu Mohammed Hussam, of the activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. ''They kill people and then say... God will forgive. They hug the men to show the people who are watching that ISIS is not at fault."
Based in Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the de facto capital of ISIS' self-proclaimed caliphate, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently is a daring network of activists who are either still trapped in the city or have escaped to tell the world what the terrorist army is doing there.
''ISIS tries to scare us with constant death threats, but we are no longer afraid, we have become accustomed to death,'' Abu Ibrahim RaqqAwi, the pseudonym of the group's founder, told FoxNews.com last year.
ISIS considers several so-called offenses punishable by execution, including homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy and consorting with the enemy.
LGGBTQQIAAP
Vienna brings in gay pedestrian crossing lights - BBC News
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:54
It is hoped the eye-catching change will improve road safety, a Vienna spokeswoman said Dozens of traffic lights in the Austrian capital have been changed to show gay couples crossing the road instead of the traditional lone figure.
Vienna has changed the signal images at 120 pedestrian crossings - also showing heterosexual couples - in preparation for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Officials said the signals were a sign of Vienna's open-mindedness.
Toni Mahdalik of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria called the initiative gender politics "gone mad".
He said the money would have been better spent on reducing poverty and improving unemployment figures.
It is hoped the signals, which show couples holding hands and with love hearts above them instead of a gender-neutral figure, will also improve safety.
The unusual symbols are attracting the attention of drivers and pedestrians, a spokeswoman for Vienna's city lighting department said.
Many of the millions who watch Eurovision include a huge gay fan base and last year's winner, bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst, became a global gay icon with the song Rise like a Phoenix.
About 40 countries are taking part in the 2015 Eurovision contest. The final will be held on May 23.
Hillary 2016
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing - FAQ Library
Thu, 14 May 2015 03:08
U.S. CURRENCY FAQs
What is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing doing to help blind and visually impaired Americans with banknote identification?
BEP has worked closely with the public to study ways to improve paper currency, including ways to help the public more readily identify currency denominations. These efforts have already resulted in design changes in 1996 and 2004 to improve security and to feature larger, high-contrast numerals with distinct background colors, and for Series 1999 to include a machine-readable feature.
BEP continues to explore and develop solutions for those who are blind and visually impaired:
BEP has been working with the private sector since 2004 to help develop an even lower cost, hand-held currency reading device to supplement hand-held readers that are already commercially available.In late 2006, BEP issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking updated information about currency readers.In June 2007, BEP issued another RFI specifically to gather information regarding cell phone technology that can be used to allow people who are blind or visually impaired to use camera cell phones as currency readers.Recently, the BEP issued a series of RFIs to open communication and provide an avenue for updated information about technologies or materials with potential application to assist those who are blind and visually impaired to easily identify the denomination of U.S. paper currency. The results of these RFIs are currently being reviewed.
To maintain this avenue of communication, the BEP has renewed the latest RFI, which can be located on the Federal Business Opportunities website ( www.fbo.gov ) under RFI-09-0005.
The BEP commissioned a study to examine various aspects of the use of U.S. currency by the blind and visually impaired population of the United States. The study will be used in support of the BEP's efforts to identify and recommend method(s) to improve the ability of those who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. paper currency.
When will the next currency redesign be unveiled and issued?
The new $20 note entered circulation on October 9, 2003, the new $50 note entered circulation on September 28, 2004, and the new $10 note entered circulation on March 2, 2006. The redesigned $5 note was issued on March 13, 2008, and the $100 note entered circulation on October 8, 2013. For more information about the new currency designs, go tonewmoney.gov.
Will there be a recall or devaluation of the older-series notes?
There will be no recall or devaluation of the older-series notes, which will be removed from circulation as they wear out. Older worn notes will be replaced with the new notes.
What's the largest sheet of uncut currency I can buy?
The 32-note sheet of uncut currency is the largest size available. The largest denomination sheets that are available are the 16-note $100 sheets. We also sell $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 denomination sheets.
What is currency paper made of?
Currency paper is composed of 75% cotton and 25% linen.
How durable is paper currency?
It would take about 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backwards) before a note will tear.
What is the weight of a note?
The approximate weight of a note, regardless of denomination is (1) one gram. There are 454 grams in one (1) U.S. pound, therefore, there are 454 notes in (1) one pound (Avoirdupois system). Using the troy system, there are (12) twelve ounces in (1) one pound; therefore, if one note weighs approximately (1) one gram, then (1) troy pound contains approximately 375 notes.
What was the highest denomination note ever printed?
The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934. These notes were printed from December 18, 1934, through January 9, 1935, and were issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury. The notes were used for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and were not circulated among the general public.
Why were certain individuals chosen to be pictured on our paper currency?
The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for the selection of the designs, including the portraits, which appear on paper currency. The July 11, 1862 Act of Congress provided:
"That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and is hereby authorized, in case he shall think it expedient to procure said notes, or any part thereof, to be engraved, printed, and executed, in such form as he shall prescribe, at the Treasury Department in Washington, and under his direction; and he is hereby empowered to purchase and provide all machinery and materials, and to employ such persons and appoint such officers as may be necessary for this purpose."
The portraits currently appearing on the various denominations of paper currency were adopted in 1929 when the size of the notes was reduced. Prior to the adoption of this smaller sized currency, a special committee was appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to study this aspect of the design. It was determined that portraits of Presidents of the United States have a more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public than any others. This decision was somewhat altered by the Secretary of the Treasury to include Alexander Hamilton, who was the first Secretary of the Treasury; Salmon P. Chase, who was Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War and is credited with promoting our National Banking System; and Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. All three of these statesmen were well known to the American public.
Treasury Department records do not reveal the reason that portraits of these particular statesmen were chosen in preference to those of other persons of equal importance and prominence. By law, only the portrait of a deceased individual may appear on U.S. currency and securities. Specifics concerning this law may be found under United States Code, Title 31, Section 5114(b).
Who is featured in the portraits on U.S. paper currency?
$1 Note (Face) - George Washington (1st U.S. President) (Back) - The Great Seal of the United States$2 Note (Face) - Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S. President) (Back) - The Declaration of Independence$5 Note (Face) - Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President) (Back) - Lincoln Memorial$10 Note (Face) - Alexander Hamilton (1st Secretary of the Treasury) (Back) - U.S. Treasury Building$20 Note (Face) - Andrew Jackson (7th U.S. President) (Back) - White House$50 Note (Face) - Ulysses Grant (18th U.S. President) (Back) - U.S. Capitol$100 Note (Face) - Ben Franklin (Statesman) (Back) - Independence Hall$500 Note* (Face) - William McKinley (25th U.S. President) (Back) - Numeral 500 and the ornamental phrase "Five Hundred Dollars"$1000 Note* (Face) - Grover Cleveland (22nd & 24th U.S. President) (Back) - Numeral 1000 and the ornamental phrase "One Thousand Dollars"$5000 Note* (Face) - James Madison (4th U.S. President) (Back) - Numeral 5000 and the ornamental phrase "Five Thousand Dollars"$10,000 Note* (Face) - Salmon Chase (U.S. Treasury Secretary under Lincoln) (Back) - Numeral 10,000 and the ornamental phrase "Ten Thousand Dollars"$100,000 Note* (Face) - Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S. President) (Back) - Numeral 100,000 and the ornamental phrase "One Hundred Thousand Dollars". This note never appeared in general circulation, and was only used in transactions between Federal Reserve Banks* = Notes no longer in print or circulation
Have any African Americans been pictured on U.S. currency?
There are no African Americans pictured on U.S. currency. There were four African American Registers of the Treasury, however, whose signatures appeared on the currency. They were Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon and James C. Napier. Until the series 1923 currency, the two signatures on almost all currency (except Fractional Currency and Demand Notes) were of the Treasurer and the Register. During this period four of the 17 registers were African American. The fifth African American whose signature appeared on currency was Azie Taylor Morton. Ms. Morton was the 36th Treasurer of the United States. She served from September 12, 1977, to January 20, 1981.
What is the average life span of a Federal Reserve Note?
Please go to the Federal Reserve Board website for Federal Reserve Note life span information.
Why is green ink used to print U.S. currency?
The reason for the selection of green as the color for the backs of U.S. currency has long been among the more popular questions put to the BEP. No definite explanation can be made for the original choice; however, it is known that at the time of the introduction of small-sized notes in 1929, the use of green was continued because pigment of that color was readily available in large quantities, the color was relatively high in its resistance to chemical and physical changes, and green was psychologically identified with the strong and stable credit of the Government. In the course of preparing this history, much attention was given to the matter. Extensive research developed evidence in support of the following explanation:
With the growing popularity of U.S. currency and the development of photography in the mid-1800s, it was customary to print the notes in black combined with colored tints as a deterrent to counterfeiting. The early camera saw everything in black. Features that were distinguishable on a note by color variant lost their individuality when reproduced photographically. However, the counterfeiter soon discovered that the colored inks then in use could easily be removed from a note without disturbing the black ink. He could eradicate the colored portion, photograph the remainder, and then make a desired number of copies to be overprinted with an imitation of the colored parts. The solution to the problem lay in the development of an ink that could not be erased without adversely affecting the black coloring. Such an ink was developed and the patent rights were purchased by Tracy R. Edson, who later was one of the founders of the American Bank Note Company. This is one of the same firms that produced the first paper money issued by the United States. The faces of these and other early notes produced under contract were printed with a green tint, presumably of the protective ink.
It is not unusual in printing with oil-base-type inks, such as was the "patent green," for the color to strike through to the opposite side of a sheet. It might, therefore, be conjectured that the backs of the early notes were printed in a darker shade of ordinary green to make the tint "strike through" less obvious.
Since the transition of printing money exclusively at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was gradual, it is logical to assume that the backs of the notes produced there during the intervening period were printed in green for the sake of uniformity. Once the BEP was on full-scale production, there was no reason to change the traditional color and so the practice was continued.
What is the origin of the $ sign?
The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for, however, the most widely accepted explanation is that the symbol is the result of evolution, independently in different places, of the Mexican or Spanish "P's" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. The theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, is that the "S" gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent of the "$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.
What is legal tender?
31 USC 5103. Legal Tender United States coins and currency (including Federal Reserve Notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve Banks and National banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.
However, there is no Federal statute which mandates that private businesses must accept cash as a form of payment. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.
What is a Celebrity Note?
A celebrity note is a note upon which the portraits of well-known personalities (such as Santa Claus and movie stars) are temporarily affixed. They, for the most part, are found to be genuine United States currency. Private businesses produce these novelty items by purchasing new currency notes from banks and subsequently apply the picture of a well-known personality over the engraved portrait on the note by means of a pressure-sensitive adhesive. These businesses then charge their customers premium prices.
There are at least two statutes, 18 USC 333 and 18 USC 475, which may apply to celebrity notes . 18 USC 333 prescribes criminal penalties against anyone who "mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued".
Big Pharma
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Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine'--And America Wants It | WIRED
Tue, 12 May 2015 15:56
Cuba has for several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed. Until'--maybe'--now.
The Obama administration has, of course, been trying to normalize relations with the island nation. And last month, during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's visit to Havana, Roswell Park Cancer Institute finalized an agreement with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine and begin clinical trials in the US. Essentially, US researchers will bring the Cimavax vaccine stateside and get on track for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
''The chance to evaluate a vaccine like this is a very exciting prospect,'' says Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park. She's excited, most likely, because research on the vaccine so far shows that it has low toxicity, and it's relatively cheap to produce and store. The Center for Molecular Immunology will give Roswell Park all of the documentation (how it's produced, toxicity data, results from past trials) for an FDA drug application; Johnson says she hopes to get approval for testing Cimavax within six to eight months, and to start clinical trials in a year.
How did Cuba end up with a cutting edge immuno-oncology drug? Though the country is justly famous for cigars, rum, and baseball, it also has some of the best and most inventive biotech and medical research in the world. That's especially notable for a country where the average worker earns $20 a month. Cuba spends a fraction of the money the US does on healthcare per individual; yet the average Cuban has a life expectancy on par with the average American. ''They've had to do more with less,'' says Johnson, ''so they've had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community.''
Despite decades of economic sanctions, Fidel and Raul Castro made biotechnology and medical research, particularly preventative medicine, a priority. After the 1981 dengue fever outbreak struck nearly 350,000 Cubans, the government established the Biological Front, an effort to focus research efforts by various agencies toward specific goals. Its first major accomplishment was the successful (and unexpected) production of interferon, a protein that plays a role in human immune response. Since then, Cuban immunologists made several other vaccination breakthroughs, including their own vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B, and monoclonal antibodies for kidney transplants.
The thing about making such great cigars is, smoking is really, really bad for you. Lung cancer is the fourth-leading cause of the death in Cuba. Medical researchers at the Center for Molecular Immunology worked on Cimavax for 25 years before the Ministry of Health made it available to the public'--for free'--in 2011. Each shot costs the government about $1. A Phase II trial from 2008 showed lung cancer patients who received the vaccine lived an average of four to six months longer than those who didn't. That prompted Japan and some European countries to initiate Cimavax clinical trials as well.
To be fair, Cimavax probably won't be a game-changing cancer drug in its current form. The vaccine doesn't attack tumors directly, instead going after a protein that tumors produce which then circulates in the blood. That action spurs a person's body to release antibodies against a hormone called epidermal growth factor, which typically spurs cell growth but can also, if unchecked, cause cancer. (Although most people normally think of a vaccine as something that prevents a disease, technically a vaccine is a substance that stimulates the immune system in some way.) So the point of Cimavax is to keep lung tumors from growing and metastasizing, turning a late-stage growth into something chronic but manageable.
But in the US and Europe, people with lung cancer already have treatment options with the same goal. Roswell Park researchers say they plan to explore the vaccine's potential as a preventative intervention'--making it more like a traditional vaccine. Furthermore, epidermal growth factor plays an important role in many other cancers, like prostate, breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer. ''All those things are potential targets for this vaccine,'' says Kelvin Lee, an immunologist at the company. Mostly for financial reasons, Cubans didn't test Cimavax that way at all.
And that drug isn't the only one with potential in the Cuban pharmacopeia. Thomas Rothstein, a biologist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, has for six years worked with the Center for Molecular Immunology on another vaccine to treat lung cancer called Racotumomab, with an entirely different mechanism. (It messes with a particular lipid found in tumor cell membranes.) ''Investigators from around the world are trying to crack the nut of cancer,'' Rothstein says. ''The Cubans are thinking in ways that are novel and clever.''
Although President Obama has used his executive power to lift some restrictions against medical and research equipment, Congress must lift the Cuban embargo before collaborative research can ramp up. Johnson hopes to see Cuba embrace more entrepreneurialism in science, and see the US soak up more creative approaches to medical research. Constrained by politics, the Cuban researchers had to innovate in ways the US and Europe did not. Now maybe they'll be able to teach their colleagues what they learned.
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USA about to get Cuba's lung cancer vaccine
Wed, 13 May 2015 08:25
Rob Quinn, Newser staff10:26 a.m. EDT May 12, 2015
Cuban President Fidel Castro enjoys a cigar in 1978 before he gave up smoking stogies.(Photo: 1978 photo by Phil Sandlin, AP)
(NEWSER) '' Closer American ties with one of the world's major cigar exporters could actually be good news in the fight against lung cancer. Cuba has developed Cimavax, an effective lung cancer vaccine, and American researchers can now finally get their hands on it, reports Wired. After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Cuba for a trade mission last month, the Buffalo-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute struck a deal with Havana's Center of Molecular Immunology to develop a vaccine, allowing clinical trials involving Cimavax to begin in the US, Bloomberg reports. Cimavax, which stops tumors from growing, was 25 years in the making and has been available for free to Cuban patients since 2011, Wired reports.
So how did such a small and poor country create a world-leading therapeutic vaccine? Roswell Park CEO Candace Johnson, who hopes to start clinical trials in the U.S. within a year, tells Wired that the country's biotech industry has thrived despite'--and perhaps even because of'--the U.S. embargo. "They've had to do more with less, so they've had to be even more innovative with how they approach things," she says. "For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community." Experts say they're excited not just by the potential of Cimavax, but by other novel Cuban cancer treatments that could now be available to US researchers. (The U.S. has approved the first ferry service to Cuba in 50 years.)
Cuba through the years:
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Kissinger On Board
Theranos jump-starts consumer lab testing - Fortune
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:43
Last month Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a bill that gives consumers there the most robust and explicit rights in the country to order any lab tests they want, without having to go through a doctor. Ducey signed the bill at the Scottsdale laboratory of Theranos, the blood analytics company, with company founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes standing a few steps behind him.
Theranos co-authored the bill with staffers of its sponsor, Heather Carter, a state representative from Cave Creek, Ariz., Carter says. The law furthers Holmes's oft-stated goal of advancing preventative medicine by allowing patients to learn of disease before symptoms become manifest.
''Arizona's law is historic and can serve as a model for our nation,'' Holmes says in an email. ''It is essential to the creation of a modern health care system that enfranchises and empowers individuals and their physicians to get access to the information they need in time to change outcomes, encourages transparency in pricing, and focuses on preventive care and early detection, all of which will reduce health care costs, and most importantly, save lives.''
Holmes's objectives in this instance also happened to dovetail with broader currents of thought in contemporary society, including what has been called the ''Quantified Self'' movement, and what cardiologist-writer Eric Topol has referred to as the growing ''democratization'' of lab testing. In his recent book, The Patient Will See You Now'--whose title alludes to the upending of the traditional physician-patient hierarchy'--Topol predicts that we will all eventually be performing lab tests on our smartphones.
Whether because of this favorable zeitgeist or Holmes's persuasiveness'--she testified on the bill's behalf before the Arizona house and senate health committees'--the bill, introduced in February, passed swiftly and nearly unanimously (60-0 in the house, 26-2 in the senate), before being signed into law April 6. It takes effect July 3.
Just two weeks after it was signed, David King, the CEO of Laboratory Corp. of America LH , told Bloomberg Business that his company would be strengthening its involvement in the consumer lab test market. ''We need to retake that territory for ourselves,'' he told that publication. ''It's something consumers increasingly want to have access to, and it's something we're doing already and our capabilities are being utilized without us getting the benefit from a branding perspective.'' (At the moment, LabCorp performs some direct consumer lab tests under contract with Direct Laboratory Service, which runs an online direct-to-consumer portal.)
At the same time, in a statement emailed to Fortune for this story, F. Samuel Eberts III, LabCorp's chief legal officer and vice president of corporate affairs, sounded a more cautionary note: ''We support the democratization of lab testing,'' he wrote, ''but not all tests and results are created equal. Some test ordering and result delivery are most appropriately handled through the traditional doctor-patient relationship.'' He said LabCorp played no role in the Arizona legislation.
The leading independent lab, Quest Diagnostics DGX , took no position on the Arizona law, according to a spokesperson. She says the company already performs some direct consumer screening tests through its Blueprint for Wellness program and ''through our relationships with several large retailers, pharmacies, super markets, urgent care providers and lab resellers.''
On the day the bill was signed into law, however, a spokesperson for Quest's 49-percent-owned Arizona subsidiary, Sonora Quest, offered negative comments to a radio station: ''We continue to maintain that the management of personal health is most effective when it involves a partnership with a primary care provider.'' That spokesperson added that Sonora Quest had always declined to fill any self-ordered tests'--even though Arizona's old law permitted a limited number of designated tests to be self-ordered.
Holmes dropped out of Stanford in 2004, when she was 19, to found Theranos. After developing and honing its proprietary testing techniques while working on drug trials for pharmaceutical companies, Theranos started offering lab tests to the public in November 2013. The most distinctive aspect of Theranos's tests is that the vast majority of them are performed on a just a few drops of blood, drawn nearly painlessly from a pricked finger. Venipuncture is still used for certain less common tests the company hasn't yet adapted for fingerprick analysis. In addition, this year the company has begun performing a class of rare, sophisticated tests, known as ''esoterics,'' which independent labs ordinarily send to specialized ''reference'' labs. Theranos still uses venipuncture for those, and performs them at its lab in Newark, Calif.
The second most distinctive thing about Theranos's tests is their very low and transparent prices. Unlike the major labs, Theranos posts all its prices publicly'--charging everyone the same, regardless of insurance situation. The company says it never charges more than half the Medicare reimbursement rate, and often charges much less. (A set of tests, or ''panel,'' relating to fertility costs $34.95, for instance, which is 70% off the Medicare reimbursement price, the company says.)
In practice Theranos's prices average roughly half what an insured consumer would pay for a doctor-ordered test at an independent lab (like Quest or LabCorp), and a smaller fraction of what they'd pay a hospital-affiliated lab. (My last routine blood tests, drawn at my physician's office for an annual physical and then analyzed by a hospital-affiliated lab in the New York metropolitan area last month, cost me $433 out of pocket, even after application of my ''gold''-level insurance discounts and payments. Had I not been insured, the lab's price for those tests would have been $2,411, according to the explanation of benefits sent me. The same tests, according to Theranos's price menu, would have cost me $75.)
The techniques that enable Theranos to perform tests on such tiny samples at such low cost are closely held trade secrets, and the company's opacity in this regard has triggered controversy within the profession. (For a fuller discussion, see a cover story on Theranos and Holmes that I wrote last June.)
When Holmes started providing lab services to the public, she did it in partnership with Walgreens, which committed to gradually incorporate Theranos Wellness Centers, as they're called, into a significant percentage of its 8,200 stores nationwide. Holmes chose to make Arizona her showcase state for the rollout because of its large Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured populations, according to a Theranos spokesperson. Theranos's dramatic price advantage would quickly become manifest to both patients and taxpayers, Holmes felt.
So far 40 Theranos Wellness Centers have opened at Walgreens across the Phoenix metropolitan area. (There's another one in Palo Alto, where the company is based.) The Phoenix centers are serviced by Theranos's federally licensed lab at Scottsdale's SkySong Center, a technology innovation hub run jointly by private developers and Arizona State University.
Representative Carter met Holmes at the ribbon-cutting for one of Theranos's first two Arizona-based Wellness Centers, which was in Carter's district in north Phoenix. Carter asked Holmes about direct consumer lab testing at their very first meeting, Carter recounts in an interview. Because of her family medical history, she explains, she was eager to run certain tests herself without always having to first consult a doctor. Holmes explained that she is a strong proponent of the concept, which is core to realizing her long-term vision.
At the moment, the nation's laws and practices on direct consumer lab testing are a confusing patchwork. Thirteen states prohibit such testing outright, according to Theranos, while another ten'--including Arizona until its new law takes effect in July'--are ''limited access'' states, where consumers can directly order only a designated list of approved tests. The remaining 27 states and the District of Columbia permit direct testing, according to Theranos, although only Virginia had said so explicitly in legislation prior to the Arizona law; the remaining states are presumed to permit it since they don't expressly forbid it.
But the fact that such testing is already legal in most states has not made it easy, common, or cheap. Such tests are not generally reimbursed by insurers, and they are usually obtained through specialty online services like WellnessFX and Direct Laboratory Services. Those companies, which do not operate in a handful of states, have doctors on contract who write lab test requisitions for customers who order online, and then send the customers to get their tests performed by Quest and LabCorp respectively.
In Arizona, because of Theranos's presence, consumer testing may become easier, cheaper, and'--for those who don't like needles being stuck in their arms'--more pleasant than it has been previously.
If there proves to be a major market for consumer lab tests, and labs start aggressively vying for that business, competing labs will need to post their prices, too, which could lead to price competition. But publicly posting low prices for direct-to-consumer tests may also make it hard for labs to charge higher prices to other payers, including Medicaid and Medicare. Some states specify that Medicaid must get the best price, while Medicare regs bar labs from charging it ''substantially in excess'' of their usual charges to others.
The Arizona legislation provides that when a consumer does directly request a test, the results, when reported to the consumer, ''shall state in bold type that it is the responsibility of the person who was tested to arrange with the person's health care provider for consultation and interpretation of the test results.''
Because of physicians' fears of incurring liability for not acting on health tests ordered by their patients without their knowledge'--an objection raised by some physicians during the legislative process, according to one of Carter's staffers'--the final law gives doctors immunity from lawsuits based on their failing ''to review or act on'' tests they did not order or authorize.
The law also forbids labs from directly submitting claims for reimbursement to insurers for consumer-ordered lab tests. But this provision was added to deal with an administrative issue that had arisen, according to a Theranos spokesperson. If an insurer eventually chooses to reimburse consumer-ordered tests, she says, nothing will prevent a consumer from filing a claim and being paid.
Representative Carter says that since the bill became law, she's been surprised by the number of constituents and neighbors who have personally thanked her for it, commenting on how they've long desired the right the law now gives them.
''People are really, really talking about it,'' says Carter. ''This one really stands out.''
Theranos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:41
TheranosPrivateIndustryHealth careFounded2003FounderElizabeth HolmesHeadquartersPalo Alto, California, United StatesKey people
Elizabeth Holmes, Chairman, CEO and Founder, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, President and COO,[1]George P. Shultz, Board Member, William J. Perry, Board Member, Samuel Nunn, Board Member, Henry A. Kissinger, Board Member, Richard Kovacevich, Board Member, Gary Roughead, Board Member, James N. Mattis, Board MemberProductsBlood testsServicesMedical testsWebsitehttp://www.theranos.comTheranos is a privately held health technology and medical laboratory services company based in Palo Alto, California that has developed novel approaches for laboratory diagnostic tests using blood.[2] The company's blood testing platform uses a few drops of blood obtained via a fingerstick rather than vials of blood obtained via traditional venipuncture,[3] and utilizes microfluidics technology.[4]
Theranos was founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes with the goal of streamlining and standardizing blood tests by creating a handheld device. Holmes, then a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering at Stanford University, left the university early, at age 19, to start the company with a bridge loan from a venture capitalist.[5] Before leaving Stanford, Holmes had founded a software company and worked on a protein microarray for the detection of SARS in Singapore.[1] Holmes' Stanford chemical engineering professor Channing Robertson encouraged her to start the company and was a director.[1] The company had raised $16 million in two rounds of initial fundraising,[6] and $28.5 million in a third round in 2006.[7]
In 2007, Theranos filed suit in court in Santa Clara accusing former employees of breaching company secrecy.[1] Theranos filed suit in California against a former partner of McDermott Will & Emery for intellectual property theft, but the case was dismissed in June 2012; another case against the law company in Washington, D.C. was also dismissed in August 2013.[8][9]
In 2010, Theranos raised an additional $45 million from a single unnamed investor,[6] bringing its total funding to more than $70 million. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ATA Ventures, Tako Ventures, Continental Properties Inc.,[10] and Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.[1]
In 2006, Holmes was named one of Inc. magazine's "30 under 30" for her work with Theranos.[11] In 2012, the Palo Alto-based company moved its headquarters into a building previously occupied by Facebook to accommodate rapid growth, and opened a second site for manufacturing operations in Newark, California, in 220,000 sq ft offices owned by BioMed Realty Trust.[12][13] The company was noted as an example of disruptive technology in 2013 by Bill Frist,[14] and as one of the 10 Top Medical and Technological Innovations of 2013 by Healthline.[15]
As of 2013[update] the company had been secretive about its plans and operations in order to maintain confidentiality - ''operating deeply in 'stealth mode''' - and had rarely issued public statements or granted interviews to the media.[1] An exclusive interview with Holmes in the Wall Street Journal in September 2013 marked a shift to going more public.[16]
In February 2015, the fact that information about the technology had appeared in the mainstream press including The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, San Francisco Business Times, Fortune, Forbes, Medscape, and Silicon Valley Business Journal, but not in the peer-reviewed biomedical literature, was noted in a JAMA editorial.[17]
GovernanceEditWhile other aspects of its operations remain secretive,[18] Theranos corporate governance has been the subject of various press disclosures and subsequent news reports.
In July 2013, the composition of the Theranos board of directors changed markedly, with departure of Channing Robertson (emeritus professor, chemical engineering, Stanford University),[19] experienced pharma and biotech executive Robert B. Shapiro (former chairman/CEO of the Pharmacia, Monsanto, and G.D. Searle group of companies), and financier Pete Thomas (principal, ATA Ventures).[1][18] Remaining from the original board were Theranos President and COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani and former Secretary of State George Shultz; added to the new board were Riley P. Bechtel (chairman of the board at Bechtel Group), Richard Kovacevich (former Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO), Sam Nunn and Bill Frist (former U.S. Senators), Henry Kissinger (former Secretary of State), William Perry (former Secretary of Defense), William Foege (epidemiologist, former director U.S. CDC), James Mattis (General, USMC, retired) and Gary Roughead (Admiral, USN, retired),[18][20][21] several of whom are members of Stanford'sHoover Institution,[16] with medical doctors Frist and Foege, and lawyer/executive Bechtel being added most lately (in 2014).[22][23][24]
A consequence of these 2013 changes, noted Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business Times, was that "Theranos' board'... consists mainly of directors with diplomatic or military backgrounds."[18] While two physicians have subsequently been named to the board, and published reference has been made to a "deep medical advisory group,"[24] as of January 2015, no scientific or medical advisory board information appears in the company's public information.
Theranos 1.0 DeviceEditAs described in general terms for a business periodical in 2006, Theranos' device design uses a fingerstick to draw a microliter sample of blood into a disposable cartridge, which is loaded into a the device's "reader" for analysis; results are sent wirelessly from the reader to a secure database, from where they go online to the patient or patient's physician.[11] The company's device claims include that the results will be received faster than the usual three-day delay for centralized laboratory testing,[1] that up to 30 blood tests can be performed on a single sample,[25] and that its design will ensure accuracy by reducing or eliminating human handling and delays associated with traditional tests.[25]
While the company reports that tests are being performed at a CLIA-certified laboratory, as of January 2015 the documentation on each test including analyte being detected, the approved means of detection, the criteria and statistics related to the analysis are not yet available at the sites of Theranos or its partners.[26]
Services and service cost claimsEditTheranos disclosed to Inc. magazine that it initially targeted its blood testing services at new-to-market drugs involved in clinical trials, because frequent testing is required to indicate whether a new drug therapy is efficaceous or causing adverse reactions.[11] Since this disclosure, Theranos has begun to offer services directly to consumers via Theranos Wellness Centers located inside Walgreens stores (beginning in 2013),[27][28] with, as of January 2015, one posted location in Palo Alto, CA, and forty posted locations in Phoenix, AZ.[29] While reports have appeared that Theranos' blood tests mainly cost under $10, as of January 2014, prices had been posted for more than 235 available tests at Walgreens, Inc. (online, via outlink to the Theranos site), ranging in price from $1.55 to $117.96 (for an "Auto" urinalysis and a genotypic test for Hepatitis C virus, respectively), with many in the range of $2 to $20, and typical panel prices being on the order of tens of dollars (e.g., with the combined tests of a standard Comprehensive metabolic panel of protein, electrolytes, sugar, cholesterol, and kidney and liver enzyme tests[30] accruing at Walgreens-Theranos to ~$45.)[32] (As noted, full information on each test is not available at the Walgreens or Theranos sites, as of January 2015.[33]) Based on its calculations regarding its pricing and test use by American consumers, the company has made claims that low-cost blood tests could save U.S. Medicare and Medicaid, on average, around $20 billion per annum.[25]
Other patentsEditAs of September 2014[update], Theranos held more than 10 patents,[34][better source needed] including patents on wearable blood monitors and influenza virus detection.[3][35] The medical device for analytemonitoring (medicine) and drug delivery is "ingestible, implantable or wearable [...] comprising a microarray which comprises a bioactive agent capable of interacting with a disease marker biological analyte; a reservoir which comprises at least one therapeutic agent and is capable of releasing the therapeutic agent(s) from the medical device; and a plurality of microchips comprising a microarray scanning device capable of obtaining physical parameter data of an interaction between the disease marker biological analyte with the bioactive agent."[36] A 2014 patent is for information management systems and methods using a biological signature, which may be used to verify the identity of the individual who may be granted access to a secured location, item, and/or service or to search or aggregate records for an individual.[37]
Among Theranos' software-based inventions are "Systems and methods for response calibration", a patent for calibrating user responses to questions, as for example in health surveys.[38] Another patent is for assisted medical and associated lifestyle decision making[39] or methods and systems for assessing clinical outcomes using "computer-assessed methods, medical information systems, and computer-readable instructions that can aid an end-user in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment".[40]
ReferencesEdit^ abcdefghLeuty, Ron (30 August 2013). "Theranos: The biggest biotech you've never heard of". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^"Theranos". Manta.com. ^ abRago, Joseph (2013-09-08). "Elizabeth Holmes: The Breakthrough of Instant Diagnosis". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-16. ^Scott, Cameron (8 November 2013). "Small, fast and cheap, Theranos is the poster child of med tech '-- and it's in Walgreen's". Singularity Hub. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^"Developing the Future of Home Healthcare (podcast)". The DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar. ^ abTimmerman, Luke (8 July 2010). "Theranos Raises $45M For Personalized Medicine". Xconomy. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^"Theranos raises $28.5M for device tracking effects of drugs on patients". VentureBeat. 7 December 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Overly, Jeff (5 August 2013). "McDermott Ducks Health IT Client's IP Theft Suit". Law360 (LexisNexis). Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Tillman, Zoe (5 August 2013). "Malpractice Suit Against McDermott Dismissed". ALM. pp. The Blog of Legal Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Klein, Julie (2010-07-08). "Theranos raises $45M to help patients track drug reactions". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2013-09-16. ^ abcAdkins, Jasmine D. (2006-06-22). "The Lifesaver". Inc.Retrieved 2013-09-16. ^Torres, Blanca (11 April 2012). "Theranos revealed as Newark center's mystery tenant". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Segall, Eli (29 June 2012). "Theranos growing close to home in Palo Alto". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Boyer, E.J. (1 October 2013). "What three health care trends is Bill Frist watching?". Nashville Business Journal. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Radcliffe, Shawn (5 December 2013). "10 Top Medical and Technological Innovations of 2013". HealthlineNew. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^ abLeuty, Ron (9 September 2013). "Secretive Theranos emerging (partly) from shadows". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^John P. A. Ioannidis (February 17, 2015). "Stealth Research: Is Biomedical Innovation Happening Outside the Peer-Reviewed Literature?". JAMA313 (7): 663''664. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17662. ^ abcdRon Leuty, 2013, "Theranos: The biggest biotech you've never heard of" San Francisco Business Times (online), Aug 30, 2013, accessed 28 January 2014. Quote: "Theranos continues to move stealthily. Requests to speak with Holmes or other executives, board members and the company's financiers were consistently rebuffed, and the company declined to provide any answers to written questions."^Stanford Engineering, 2014, "Channing Robertson Timeline," see [1], accessed 28 January 2014^Leuty, Ron (2 August 2013). "Theranos adds Kovacevich to all-star board". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Leuty, Ron (29 July 2013). "Quiet Theranos adds former Wells chief Kovacevich, 'Mad Dog' Mattis to power-packed board". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Anon., 2015, "Company Overview of Theranos, Inc.: '...Key Developments," in BloombergBusiness (online), see [2], accessed 28 January 2014^Anon., 2014, "Theranos Appoints Riley P. Bechtel to its Board of Directors," BusinessWire (online), March 25, 2014, see [3], accessed 28 January 2015.^ abMarco della Cava, 2014, "Change Agents: Elizabeth Holmes wants your blood, USA Today (online), July 26, 2014, see [4], accessed 28 January 2014^ abcRoper, Caitlin (2014-02-18). "This Woman Invented a Way to Run 30 Lab Tests on Only One Drop of Blood". Wired. Retrieved 2014-03-06. ^See, for instance, the "Drug Screen, Multi Class" page, in the reference for the Theranos outlink at Walgreens, [5], and the Theranos home page, accessed 28 January 2015.^Chokshi, Dave (2014-02-03). "A 3-Fold Plan for a New Preventive Medicine". Scientific American (guest blog). ^"WAG to offer Theranos lab services". Zacks Equity Research. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-16. ^See for instance, [6], accessed 28 January 2015.^MedlinePlus, 2015, "Comprehensive metabolic panel", see [7], accessed 28 January 2015^For further instances, as of January 2015: posted prices for a DNA-based Chlamydia-Gonorrhea panel was $29.95, for a multi-class drug screen was $49.95, for a sexually transmitted infection panel was $59.95, a test for extractable nuclear antigen antibodies at $73.95, etc. See immediately preceding reference, Walgreens (2015).^See, for instance, the "Drug Screen, Multi Class" page, in the preceding reference for the Theranos outlink at Walgreens, [9] accessed 28 January 2015.^"Patents held by Theranos". Retrieved 30 September 2014. ^Segall, Eli (29 June 2012). "Theranos founder dropped out of Stanford to start company". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 9 March 2014. ^Theranos, Inc. (January 24, 2012). "Medical device for analyte monitoring and drug delivery". US Patent Office. Retrieved 24 February 2015. ^Theranos, Inc. (January 24, 2012). "Information management systems and methods using a biological signature". World Intellectual Property. Retrieved 24 February 2015. ^Theranos (April 3, 2014). "SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR RESPONSE CALIBRATION". United States Patent and Trademark office. Retrieved 24 February 2015. ^Theranos (April 3, 2014). "Assisted medical and associated lifestyle decision making". World Intellectual Property. Retrieved 24 February 2015. ^Theranos (Sep 11, 2012). "Methods and systems for assessing clinical outcomes". US Patent Office. Retrieved 24 February 2015. External linksEdit
Theranos Appoints Riley P. Bechtel to its Board of Directors | Business Wire
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:40
PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Theranos, Inc. today announced the appointment of Riley P. Bechtel to its Board of Directors.
Mr. Bechtel is chairman of the board and a director of Bechtel Group, Inc. Previously, he held the positions of chairman and chief executive officer from 1996-2014, president and chief executive officer from 1990-1996 and president and chief operating officer from 1989-1990. Mr. Bechtel joined the company full-time in 1981 and served in a variety of operational roles, both domestically and overseas. Prior to Bechtel, he practiced law at Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges.
Mr. Bechtel also serves as a director of Fremont Investors, Inc. and a member of Fremont Group's Board of Advisors. He is a member of Conservation Fund's Corporate Council, Indian School of Business Governing Board, National Petroleum Council, Ocean Exploration Trust's Board of Directors, Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, and UC Davis' Board of Advisors, and was admitted to the California State Bar in November 1979.
Mr. Bechtel joins existing Theranos Board members Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Henry A. Kissinger; Richard Kovacevich; James Mattis; Samuel Nunn; William J. Perry; Gary Roughead; George P. Shultz; and Sunny Balwani, Theranos President and Chief Operating Officer.
About Theranos
Headquartered in Palo Alto, Theranos, Inc. is a consumer healthcare technology company. Theranos' clinical laboratory offers comprehensive laboratory tests from samples as small as a few drops of blood at unprecedented low prices. Founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos' mission is to make actionable health information accessible to people everywhere in the world at the time it matters, enabling early detection and intervention of disease, and empowering individuals with information to live the lives they want to live. www.theranos.com
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Bundled payments [email]
Great job attempting to bring up bundled payments! Even though John shot it down I think that was the most air time that bundled payment initiatives have ever gotten!
Just for your own knowledge it is CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) that is behind pushing bundled payments. Medicare and Medicaid are ran by the same people so if one is doing something they typically both are. They just have different requirements and target different groups of people. John was close in saying that medicare is insurance and medicaid is welfare. Not quite though. They are both health insurance plans, but medicaid is only for poor folks.
Also the bundled payment is per diagnosis. The result of bundled payment is a quicker DC to home and less diagnostic measures being performed.
One last distinction. It isn't necessarily the facility that gets all of the money up front. Once a bundled payment amount is determined, whoever is providing treatment can pull funds from the bundle to provide care. So a patient can move from facility to facility and they basically bring their bundle with them. When the bundle runs out they better hope they're better!
Either way no one really cares enough to look into it so we don't really know. For that reason I admire your attempt on Sunday! I'm bummed it got shut down.
Talk to you soon,
Trevor
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FOK.nl / Nieuws / 'Prik ook jongens tegen baarmoederhalskanker' / FOK!frontpage
Wed, 13 May 2015 17:58
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US commander in Europe to visit Ukraine
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:32
Published time: May 12, 2015 14:45
Lt Gen. Frederick B. Hodges (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)
A US military delegation headed by Army Commander in Europe, Lieutenant-General Frederick 'Ben' Hodges, prepares to visit training center in western Ukraine. Since April, US paratroopers have been training Ukraine's National Guard.
''The US delegation will visit the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) at the Academy of Ground Forces named after Hetman Petro Sahaidachny,'' Ukrainian Defense Ministry's spokesperson Viktoria Kushnir said on Tuesday.
The IPSC was set up at a former Soviet military range near the city of Yavoriv area in the Lvov Region, just a few dozen kilometers from the Polish border. Yavoriv operations site is the largest military firing range in Europe, covering 40,000 sq km. In September 2014, the site hosted vast international military exercises with 1,300 servicemen from 15 countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and the UK.
Paratroopers of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vincenza, Italy, arrived to Yavoriv in mid-April to provide training for Ukrainian government troops. There are reportedly 290 American instructors operating at Yavoriv.
READ MORE: US military instructors deployed to Ukraine to train local forces
The joint drills were agreed by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and US Vice-President Joe Biden early in spring. The US paratroopers' training is expected to last for 24 weeks and involves some 900 servicemen from several Ukrainian National Guard units.
Russia's Foreign Ministry warned in April that the deployment of American military instructors to Ukraine is actually working to undermine the Minsk peace deal reached between Kiev and rebels of the Donbass region in the east of Ukraine.
''This begs the question: Do they understand whom are we talking about? As they are the same Ukrainian ultra-nationalists from volunteer battalions, who wore Nazi emblems and blurred themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during reprisal raids in Donbass,'' the Russian ministry's spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said at the time.
READ MORE: US military instructors in Ukraine undermine Minsk peace deal '' Moscow
Although the American military insisted its servicemen are bound to remain at the Ukrainian training site, it was reported in late April that American instructors were spotted in the warzone in eastern Ukraine.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused the US troops of conducting real operations in urban environments.
''It's not happening at the Yavoriv training site in the Lvov Region as reported by Ukrainian TV, but directly in the combat zone near Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha,'' he said.
READ MORE: US military instructors in eastern Ukraine combat zone '' Russian military
Ukrainian armed forces are expected to take part in 11 international military exercises in 2015. One of the drills aimed at promoting NATO standards in Kiev troops, the US-Ukrainian Rapid Trident ground drills, are scheduled to be held in Yavoriv training site.
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The Singing Sailor Subsurface Defense System
Thu, 14 May 2015 04:23
In the search for foreign submarines, the Swedish military just had their biggest mobilization for decades. But, they found nothing. Voices are heard for more resources.
It's all hands on deck. Even for The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society. On the 27th of April, The Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System was installed into the sea in the archipelago due east of Stockholm. The Singing Sailor is a subsurface sonar system sending out the Morse code: "This way if you are gay". For any submarines passing close by, The Singing Sailor also features the message ''Welcome to Sweden. Gay since 1944.'' (the year Sweden legalized homosexuality) as an animated neon sign.
- If there is a submarine down there beneath the Baltic waves and the crew should happen to see or hear the Singing Sailor they are welcome to join us in the Stockholm Pride Parade on the 1st of august. In times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever. We want to break-up with the violence. Our invitation is also extended to Swedish subs and military personnel and all others that want to join us, says Daniel Holking, Communications-and fundraising manager with the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.
The Singing Sailor is also a contribution to the debate that we all should shift military resources into development and rethinking security.
'' If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict-resolution methods there would be peace in the world a long time ago, says Anna Ek, president of The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is the world's oldest peace organization and three times associated with winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It is an association of people who are convinced that conflicts can be avoided through cooperation, resources and diplomacy. Military rearmament in itself is a major contributing cause of conflict.
For pictures, documentation and more info, please see http://www.svenskafreds.se/singingsailor/
Support the Singing Sailor and The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society by a PayPal donation to singingsailor@svenskafreds.se
For more information please contact:
Anna Ekanna.ek@svenskafreds.sePresident of SPAS+ 46 70-954 05 13
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White House says concerned about Syria chemical weapons allegations | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
Wed, 13 May 2015 21:02
WASHINGTON: The White House Wednesday said it is concerned that international inspectors have received "credible allegations" that chemical weapons are still being used in Syria.
The government of Bashar al-Assad had pledged to hand over its chemical weapons stockpiles after the United States threatened military intervention in 2013 following sarin gas attacks that killed hundreds of residents in a Damascus suburb.
But international inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"We're aware that the OPCW continues to receive credible allegations that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is still taking place," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.
"Attempts by the OPCW to resolve some gaps and inconsistencies in Syria's declaration of their chemical weapons have gone unresolved," he said, noting the OPCW continues to investigate.
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DPRK
North Korea defense minister executed for snoozing at events: report - MarketWatch
Wed, 13 May 2015 16:28
North Korea has executed its disgraced defense minister for falling asleep at formal events, among other offenses, with the execution carried out using an anti-aircraft gun, a report said Wednesday. North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol had held his post for less than a year but was sacked and sentenced to death for allegedly snoozing during military events and even talking back to supreme leader Kim Jong Un, Agence France-Presse reported, citing South Korean intelligence. Hyon was executed in front of "hundred of officials," killed by powerful anti-aircraft fire, a method the AFP report said was "reserved for senior officials whom the leadership wishes to make examples of." North Korean defense ministers are typically in charge of logistics and military exchanges, with the rest of defense policy handled by a communist party committee, the report said.
North Korea Reportedly Kills Its Defense Chief in Horrific Way for Falling Asleep During Meeting With Kim Jung Un | Video | TheBlaze.com
Thu, 14 May 2015 13:13
Update: The spy agency in South Korea later clarified that its intelligence had not verified the North Korean defense chief's execution, but confirmed he was ''purged.''
Original story follows.
'--
SEOUL, South Korea (TheBlaze/AP) '-- South Korea's spy agency says it has information that North Korea executed its defense chief for sleeping during a meeting and talking back to young leader Kim Jong Un.
Lawmaker Shin Kyoung-min said the National Intelligence Service told a closed-door parliamentary committee Wednesday that People's Armed Forces Minister Hyon Yong Chol was executed in Pyongyang in late April.
A man watches a television showing news coverage of the reported execution of North Korea's defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol, at a railway station in Seoul on May 13, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has had his defence minister executed with anti-aircraft fire for insubordination and dozing off during formal military rallies, South Korean intelligence said, hinting at possible instability in the Pyongyang leadership. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
The intelligence service told lawmakers that Hyon was killed by an anti-aircraft gun.
''The NIS official said it had been confirmed by multiple sources,'' Shin Kyoung-min told Reuters, adding that ''it is still just intelligence, but he said they were confident.''
NIS didn't tell lawmakers how it got the information and wouldn't comment when contacted by the Associated Press.
Kim Jong Un has orchestrated a series of purges since taking power in late 2011, among them were reportedly that his uncle and an ex-lover. Reuters reported that other executions, according to NIS, included 15 officials this year.
Watch Reuters' report:
South Korea's spy agency has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea. Information said about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.
From the breaking news you need to know to the hottest trends circling the Web, TheBlaze has it all. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope.
Inflategate
Where are the boycotts of NFL by women????
MIC
Which NFL teams got your federal tax dollars? | NJ.com
Mon, 11 May 2015 15:24
TRENTON '-- At the same time Congress and the president have imposed caps on military spending, the Department of Defense has paid $5.4 million in taxpayer money to 14 NFL teams across the country, including $377,500 to the Jets, with the bulk spent by the National Guard.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) last week called out the New Jersey Army National Guard for the spending, which, in part, paid for a segment at Jets home games in which soldiers were featured on the big screen, thanked for their service and given tickets to the game.
Flake said most in the general public believe the segments were heartfelt salutes by their hometown football team, not an advertising campaign paid for with their money. The Guard defended the arrangement as an effective recruitment tool for the force, and the Jets pointed out numerous other ways in which they support the military.
Here's a full list of NFL teams that have received taxpayer money from the military for similar arrangements:
Christopher Baxter may be reached at cbaxter@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cbaxter1. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.
CYBER!
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China developing network-killing cyber attack tools, warns US government - IT SECURITY GURU
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:15
Dan Raywood is the editor in chief of the IT Security Guru. A journalist with more than 13 years experience, Dan has been at the forefront of the information security industry.As the news editor of SC Magazine he covered breaking stories such as Stuxnet, Flame and Conficker and the online hacktivist campaigns of Anonymous and LulzSec, and broke the news on the EU's mandatory data breach disclosure law and a vulnerability which affected more than 200 sites.
Contact Dan on dan@itsecurityguru.org, by phone on 0207 1832 839
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CSI: Cyber TV show on CBS: season 2 | canceled + renewed TV shows | TV Series Finale
Mon, 11 May 2015 22:31
While we still don't know the fate of the origiinal CSI series yet, we do know that one of the franchise's shows will be on the schedule next season. CBS has renewed newbie CSI: Cyber for a second season.
On CSI: Cyber, Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) heads the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI. It's a unit at the forefront of solving illegal activities that start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world. This crime drama also features the talents of James Van Der Beek, Hayley Kiyoko, Charley Koontz, Shad Moss, and Peter MacNicol.
?Airing on Wednesday nights, CSI: Cyber has been averaging a 1.44 rating in the 18-49 demographic with 8.31 million viewers. Those aren't stellar numbers but they're apparently good enough for a CSI series to score a renewal (Stalker, which had a slightly better demo, has been cancelled). It likely doesn't hurt that next season will be the original CSI's final bow and the network wants to keep the franchise going.
What do you think? Do you like the new CSI: Cyber series? Do you think it should have been cancelled or renewed? Did you like Stalker better?
More about: CSI: Cyber, CSI: Cyber: canceled or renewed?, CSI: Cyber: ratings, Stalker
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Wednesday TV Ratings: Empire, The 100, CSI: Cyber, Criminal MindsMar 12, 2015
Saturday TV Ratings: In an Instant, Boxing, Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon, CSI: CyberMar 8, 2015
Wednesday TV Ratings: CSI: Cyber, Nashville, American Idol, The 100, Black-ishMar 5, 2015
CSI: CyberMar 4, 2015
Stalker: To Be Cancelled or Renewed for Season Two?Feb 25, 2015
CSI: Cyber, Battle Creek: New CBS Shows Debut in MarchDec 5, 2014
CBS Announces Returns of The Mentalist, Undercover Boss, Survivor, Amazing RaceNov 4, 2014
NCIS: New Orleans, Scorpion, Madam Secretary, Stalker: CBS Orders Full SeasonsOct 28, 2014
CSI: CBS Cuts Season 15 EpisodesOct 23, 2014
CBS Announces Premiere Dates for Fall 2014 ScheduleJun 24, 2014
CBS Announces Fall 2014-15 ScheduleMay 14, 2014
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Agenda 21
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Lucky break kept major hurricanes offshore since 2005 - GeoSpace - AGU Blogosphere
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:16
By Larry O'Hanlon
A map showing all of the North Atlantic storm tracks from 2006 to 2013, color coded by intensity. A new study finds that the U.S. experienced a hurricane ''drought'' over the last nine years, with no storms of category 3 or higher making landfall.Credit NOAA
For the last nine years the United States has dodged the hurricane bullet: No major tropical cyclones have made U.S. landfall. Such a remarkable ''hurricane drought'' has never been seen before '' since records began in 1851. It beats the previous record of eight years from 1861-1868, say researchers who have looked into the probabilities of the unusual streak, what it means for the chances of hurricanes this year and whether or not insurance premiums reflect the risks. Their conclusion: the hurricane drought is mostly a matter of dumb luck.
The last major hurricane '' of Category 3 or higher '' to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. There have been other damaging storms '' Ike (Category 2, 2008), Irene (Category 1, 2011), Sandy (Category 1, 2012), and several category 3 or higher storms have hit Cuba in the past nine years. But the U.S. has managed to avoid the peak power of these storms, with one result being that many people don't feel high premiums are justified for insurance against wind damage '' which is the highest cost damage done by major hurricanes.
''There's been a lot of talk about how unusual the string is, and we want to quantify it,'' said hurricane researcher Timothy Hall of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and lead author of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
To figure the odds of such a long 'drought,' Hall and Kelly Hereid, who works for ACE Tempest Reinsurance in Stamford, Conn., used a computer model that takes into account the major factors known to enable or suppress hurricanes '' like storm-fueling high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and hurricane-suppressing El Ni±o conditions in the Pacific.
The researchers simulated the years 1950 through 2012 a thousand times to learn how often under that known range of conditions virtual hurricanes managed to cross into 19 U.S. states ranging from Texas to Maine. That gave Hall and Hereid enough data to begin to say something about the odds of major storms making landfall in the U.S. and the chances of hurricane droughts.
Typically, about a quarter of all tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic make landfall in the U.S., said Hall. Their analysis shows that the mean wait time before a nine-year hurricane drought occurred is 177 years. That suggests the current situation is rare, but far from impossible. They also found that the average annual odds of at least one U.S. landfall is 0.39, or a little greater than one-in-three. Those odds have no more connection to how many hurricane-free years came before the landfall than the outcome of a coin toss does to preceding tosses coming up heads or tails. ''The current year forgets the year before,'' said Hall.
The results suggest that there is nothing unusual underlying the current hurricane drought. There's no extraordinary lack of hurricane activity, for example.
''When we looked qualitatively at the nine-year drought, they aren't inactive seasons,'' said Hall. There has been no significant change in the number of North Atlantic tropical cyclones, the amounts of energy powering them, nor any other hurricane metric. ''I don't believe there is a major regime shift that's protecting the U.S.''
On the other hand, now, just a few months in advance of the 2015 season, there are some known factors that could extend the hurricane drought another year. El Ni±o has finally taken hold in the Pacific, which tends to lead to strong winds over the Atlantic that make it hard for hurricanes to form. If so, that weighs the dice in favor of another year without a major hurricane landfall in the U.S., and that could affect insurance rates.
''My co-author is from the reinsurance industry,'' said Hall, referring to the firms that essentially insure the insurance companies. ''It's their clients who have to pay the premiums.'' And because reinsurers don't want to lose market share to smaller, temporary boutique insurers who pop up and offer lower rates, they're pressured to drop their rates to compete.
''Many (boutique insurers) don't last more than a few years, but they drive the rates down,'' said Hall. ''But if at some point (premiums) become decoupled from actual risk, it is a problem.''
'' Freelance science journalist Larry O'Hanlon acts as AGU's blogs manager and social media coordinator.
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Eat more insects, aim of new cookery kit created by student - Market Business News
Thu, 14 May 2015 05:14
Product design student Courtney Yule has created a cookery kit to encourage us to include insects in our daily dietary intake. Insects, like grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles are widely eaten in many parts of the world, but not so much in western developed nations.
Ms. Yule Tweets that people should try the chocolate cricket fondue.
Even though insects are low in calories and fat, but high in protein and minerals, most people in western cultures prefer consuming high calorie processed foods, which is probably partly why obesity rates are so much higher than in several Asian countries, where insects are popular.
Insect eating is common to many cultures in North, Central and South America; and Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. About 80% of the world's countries are known to eat more than 1,000 species of insects.
Insects are good for you, says Ms. Yule, and could help feed the world's growing population. (Image: Twitter)
As part of her degree show at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, Ms. Yule has designed a Starter Kit for turning insects into a meal.
Ms. Yule said she became interested in entomophagy '' the practice of eating insects, including arachnids (tarantulas) and myriapods (centipedes) '' when reading that it could be the best way to feed our world's growing population.
Harvesting insects is environmentally friendly
Insect farming, known more commonly as harvesting insects, is more environmentally-friendly than conventional livestock farming, says scientists. Raising livestock requires enormous amounts of land, crops to feed them, and animals and equipment which produce loads of greenhouse gases.
Ms. Yule's Entopod, which looks like an insect, encourages the idea of insects as a source of sustenance, while at the same time trying to help people get over the 'yuck factor' which puts so many of us off tasting them.
The Entopod includes a grinder that makes 'insect flour'. It will be exhibited at Edinburgh Napier's 2015 Degree Show from May 22.
Edinburgh Evening Newsquoted Ms. Yule, who said:
''The main barrier is obviously getting consumers to accept the idea of eating insects. Before I began this work I didn't even like to touch them, but I don't have any problem with eating them now and it is a practice which is growing in popularity every day.''
Grasshopper chocolate foundue is said to be super tasty! (Image: Twitter)
''People think nothing about eating prawns and shrimps but they have a different reaction to grasshoppers and crickets. However, the more you read about the health benefits, the less bothered you become.''
''You can do anything with insects; sweet and sour grasshopper, mealworm macaroni, lime and ginger locusts or cricket cookies.''
According to a study she carried out, the majority of people would consider eating insects. Their creepy-crawly aspect is a major obstacle however, including for those who enjoy eating shrimps or lobsters.
You would be surprised at how nice they are after the first bite, Ms. Yule said.
A starter kit to get over creepy-crawly jitters
She wondered whether interest in experimenting with entomophagy might be easier if people had a starter kit.
With the starter kid you can grind the insects into a flour and follow specially-created recipes to make shakes and other tasty treats. There are detachable containers so you can heat the food on the hob, microwave or in a conventional oven.
The Entopod.
There is even the possibility of making an insect fondue with a candle underneath. The kit also includes skewers for kebab or BBQ-type meals.
Ms. Yule added:
''A lot of people are now supplying dried insects but in the course of my research I have not seen any other products which help in preparing them to eat.''
''I am now at the stage of tweaking design components, and although the prototype is white I am also working on bright neon and anodised colours resembling the natural colouring of insects. After the degree show, I will be taking it down to the New Designers show in London in July.''
Video '' Should we all be eating insects?
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Trains Good, Planes Bad
FBI Warns of Train Derailment Threat - ABC News
Wed, 13 May 2015 18:00
Devices that could be used by terrorists to derail trains are being stolen from rail facilities around the country, the FBI warned today.
Nine derailers, a piece of railroad equipment used to derail train cars for safety purposes in railyards have been stolen recently, sources said, citing the FBI's weekly intelligence bulletin.
The theft of these items is strange since they are of little use outside of the rail industry, according to the bulletin.
Railroads have been targeted in the past by terrorists, the bulletin said.
It specifically mentioned the Oct. 1995 derailment of an Amtrak train in Hyder, Ariz. In that incident, one person was killed and 78 were injured when parts of the track were sabotaged. The FBI located a derail 50 miles from Hyder.
The bulletin does not mention a specific threat, and the FBI has no indication the derail thefts are related to terrorism. The bulletin is distributed weekly to 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies around the United States.
The bureau has also warned in the past that railways and other mass conveyances could be terrorist targets.
Common Core
Teacher Annie [email]
Hi Adam and John
No agenda has inspired me in the classroom. And for my final week of student teaching, I collaborated with my mentor teacher to do a mini unit called "Breaking the Media Mind Control". We're going to have students compare the words and phrases being used surrounding the Baltimore riots from different sources. They will look at the words used during other riots in the US and compare how people are being categorized. The end result will be deciding if using the word "thug" is intentionally used to dehumanize these people and diminish the importance of their poverty.
Many thanks to the both of you, money coming as soon as I have enough to pay the bills!
-Annie
Chiner$
Djibouti President: China Negotiating Horn of Africa Military Base
Mon, 11 May 2015 10:17
As was written, the gates to the world would be taken away from Great Britain and the U.S..
DJIBOUTI '-- China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti, the president told AFP, raising the prospect of US and Chinese bases side-by-side in the tiny Horn of Africa nation.
''Discussions are ongoing,'' President Ismail Omar Guelleh told AFP in an interview in Djibouti, saying Beijing's presence would be ''welcome.''
Djibouti is already home to Camp Lemonnier, the US military headquarters on the continent, used for covert, anti-terror and other operations in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across Africa.
'...
China is already financing several major infrastructure projects estimated to total more than $9 billion (8 billion euros), including improved ports, airports and railway lines to landlocked Ethiopia, for whom Djibouti is a lifeline port.
'...
Djibouti overseas the narrow Bab al-Mandeb straits, the channel separating Africa from Arabia and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, leading into the Red Sea and northwards to the Mediterranean.
Djibouti and Beijing signed a military agreement allowing the Chinese navy to use Djibouti port in February 2014, a move that angered Washington.
China aims to install a permanent military base in Obock, Djibouti's northern port city.
Full article:Djibouti President: China Negotiating Horn of Africa Military Base (DefenseNews)
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EuroLand
Griekenland lost schuld aan IMF grotendeels af met geld van IMF
Tue, 12 May 2015 22:03
Griekenland heeft dinsdag opnieuw blijk gegeven van een uitzonderlijk talent om het ene financile gat met het andere te dichten. Gisteren moest de Griekse staat 750 miljoen euro aan het IMF aflossen. Vooraf was het een raadsel waar dat geld vandaan moest komen. De oplossing blijkt eenvoudig: Griekenland heeft het geld voor de IMF-aflossing opgehaald bij... het IMF.
Het land heeft het Internationaal Monetair Fonds dus terugbetaald met IMF-geld. Dit klinkt als een sigaar uit eigen doos, maar dat is het niet. Griekenland heeft net als elk IMF-lid reserves bij het fonds uitstaan. Die bedroegen eind maart circa 600 miljoen euro. Het grootste deel is gebruikt om de aflossing aan het IMF te voldoen.
De Griekse IMF-reserves zijn daarmee in (C)(C)n klap weg. Het land kan deze truc dus niet herhalen: het was een eenmalige noodgreep. Die heeft bovendien een sterk 'uitstel van executie'-karakter, want Griekenland moet de IMF-reserves op enig moment aanvullen. Zolang het dat niet doet, moet het aan het IMF rente over het saldotekort betalen.
Bijlenen in eigen landPersbureau Reuters en het Griekse dagblad Kathimerini legden de machinaties achter de aflossing bloot. Zij baseren zich op informatie van Griekse regeringsfunctionarissen. Omdat de IMF-spaarpot minder dan 750 miljoen euro bevatte, heeft de Griekse overheid ook nog moeten bijlenen in eigen land.
Een regeringswoordvoerder maakte gisteren bekend dat de afgelopen drie weken 600 miljoen euro is 'opgehaald' bij gemeenten, pensioenfondsen, onderwijsinstellingen, staatsbedrijven, sociale verzekeringsfondsen en ziekenhuizen. Die zijn sinds 21 april wettelijk verplicht hun 'overtollige' kasreserves aan de rijksoverheid uit te lenen.
De aanslag op de IMF-reserves is de zoveelste aanwijzing dat Griekenland niet slechts de bodem van de schatkist heeft bereikt, maar daar al doorheen is gevallen. De rijksoverheid houdt zichzelf in de lucht met miljardenleningen van haar eigen banken en lagere overheden en door Griekse leveranciers eindeloos op hun geld te laten wachten. Omdat die binnenlandse leningen een keer moet worden terugbetaald,, nemen de Grieken zo feitelijk een voorschot op een derde reddingspakket.
Volgens de recentste schattingen heeft Griekenland op korte termijn minstens 50 miljard euro extra nodig om een faillissement te vermijden. Dat bedrag komt bovenop de 240 miljard die het al aan noodhulp heeft ontvangen. De kans is groot dat het geld ditmaal volledig door de andere achttien eurolanden en de Europese Centrale Bank moet worden opgebracht. Het IMF wil niet meedoen met een derde bail-out, schreef de Spaanse krant El Mundo dinsdag. Volgens de krant wil het IMF zijn handen van Griekenland aftrekken omdat de regering-Tsipras te weinig hervormingsgezind is.
Ottomania
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Turkey dismisses prosecutors, judge behind Erdogan corruption probe | Middle East Eye
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:29
Turkey dismisses prosecutors, judge behind Erdogan corruption probeThe prosecutors and judge had already been removed from their positions but will now be barred from the profession
More:Turkey dismisses prosecutors, judge behind Erdogan corruption probe | Middle East Eye
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10 members of Congress took trip secretly funded by foreign government - The Washington Post
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:18
See which lawmakers took the trip and how much it costThe state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference at Baku on the Caspian Sea in 2013 for 10 members of Congress and 32 staff members, according to a confidential ethics report obtained by The Washington Post. Three former top aides to President Obama appeared as speakers at the conference.
Lawmakers and their staff members received hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of travel expenses, silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs valued at $2,500 to $10,000, according to the ethics report. Airfare for the lawmakers and some of their spouses cost $112,899, travel invoices show.
The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as SOCAR, allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet nation, according to the 70-page report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative arm of the House.
[Congressional ethics committees protect legislators, critics say]
The report reflects the most extensive investigation undertaken by the ethics office, which was created seven years ago in response to a number of scandals on Capitol Hill, including lobbyist Jack Abramoff's illegal funding of lawmakers' trips.
The nonprofit corporations allegedly filed false statements with Congress swearing that they were sponsoring the conference. The findings have been referred to the House Committee on Ethics for investigation of possible violations of congressional rules and federal laws that bar foreign governments from trying to influence U.S. policy.
SOCAR released a statement saying that its support of the conference was no secret.
''At no time did SOCAR hide from the attendees of the conference our involvement. SOCAR has never been under investigation in this matter because the responsibility for disclosing SOCAR's financial support for the conference fell to those who were the trip's sponsors.
''We have cooperated fully. We are therefore disappointed that the compliance procedures may not have been followed correctly by the trip's sponsors and we are unclear why these disclosures were omitted.''
Tom Rust, chief counsel and staff director for the Ethics Committee, declined to comment. ''We don't comment on investigative matters,'' he said.
Kelly Brewington, a spokeswoman for the Office of Congressional Ethics, also declined to comment.
The conference, titled U.S.-Azerbaijan Convention: Vision for the Future, took place on May 28 and 29, 2013. During the previous year, SOCAR and several large energy companies sought exemptions for a $28 billion natural gas pipeline project in the Caspian Sea from U.S. economic sanctions being imposed on Iran.
The congressional investigators could not determine whether lawmakers used their official positions to benefit SOCAR or the pipeline project. They also found no evidence that the lawmakers or their staffers knew that the conference was being funded by a foreign government.
[Capitol Assets: A close-up look at congressional wealth]
The investigators noted that the lawmakers relied on representations made to them by two Houston-based nonprofit corporations, the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE) and the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ). The lawmakers told investigators that they had obtained approval for the trip from the ethics committee.
The report said members of the House Ethics Committee wrote to the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting a halt to their investigation so that the matter could be taken up by their own committee. OCE officials declined the request. A government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said OCE feared that the ethics panel, which has a reputation among watchdog groups for shielding lawmakers from embarrassing disclosures. would not take any meaningful action.
The pipeline has long been an important U.S. policy objective because it would bolster European security by offering an alternative to Russian gas.
One of SOCAR's partners was the National Iranian Oil Company, known as NIOC, a relationship that had threatened to scuttle the deal if sanctions were approved without an exemption for the Shah Deniz Natural Gas Project. SOCAR and NIOC each were partners with 10 percent of the project, while BP and Norwegian-based Statoil each held 25.5 percent. Russian-based Lukoil also had a 10 percent share and Turkish Petroleum Corp. had 9 percent.
Congress had approved two sanctions bills containing passages that exempted the project, which Obama signed into law in August 2012 and January 2013. On June 3, 2013, five days after the Baku conference, Obama signed an executive order assessing economic sanctions against Iran that also exempted the project.
The Post reported about the trip at the time, in an article noting that three former Obama political advisers '-- Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and David Plouffe '-- spoke at the conference, which was attended by current and former members of Congress. Politico also wrote about the trip and the Houston Chronicle reported that SOCAR had been a sponsor of the conference and raised questions about the nonprofits involved. Only one Western news organization covered the event, the Washington Diplomat, a monthly that writes about the diplomatic community in the nation's capital.
But no information surfaced at the time about the alleged $750,000 payment from SOCAR to the nonprofits. Ethics investigators obtained a wire transfer showing that SOCAR sent the $750,000 to AFAZ. SOCAR's legal counsel told the investigators that the money was ''dues'' that were ''intended to be used as funding for the Convention.''
The lawmakers who took the trip were Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Rub(C)n Hinojosa (D-Tex.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Ted Poe (R-Tex.) and then-Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.).
Clarke is a member of the Ethics Committee.
Another lawmaker, Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio), attended as part of a separate congressional delegation and his expenses were not paid by the conference, according to the report.
''My official visit was part of my House Armed Services and NATO responsibilities,'' Turner told The Post in a statement. ''During the visit I met with the President, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Speaker of the Parliament of Azerbaijan and received a classified briefing from U.S. personnel. I was a scheduled speaker at the conference, with former Senator Lugar. The conference did not pay my expenses and I did not receive any gifts.''
Davis told The Post that the Ethics Committee approved the trip, which he took with his wife, and that he didn't realize it had been funded by SOCAR. He said he saw the oil company's logos in Baku, but ''to be very honest about it, I didn't pay them much attention, honestly.''
He also said that during the conference he received one rug, which was delivered to his hotel room and is in storage in his basement in Chicago. He said he is considering donating the rug to a museum or a charity.
Davis also said lawmakers should ask more questions about the source of funding for conferences and congressional travel in the future.
''Some of these things that we take sometimes for granted probably require a bit more investigation or more prudence,'' he said. ''So maybe we'll exercise a bit more scrutiny. I will.''
Hinojosa, who attended the conference with his wife, said he was also unaware of SOCAR's involvement.
''Prior to the trip to Azerbaijan and Turkey, I sought approval from the U.S. House Committee on Ethics to travel,'' he said in a statement. ''I relied upon this written authorization in deciding to travel overseas. I believed the purpose of the trip was to strengthen U.S.-Turkey and U.S.-Azerbaijani relations. I received souvenirs of what I believed to be of minimal value and in compliance with the House Gift rule.''
The statement added: ''My staff and I have fully cooperated with the investigation. Importantly, the report notes that there is no evidence to suggest that Members of Congress who went on the trip knew that impermissible sponsors and organizers may have been involved and that Members relied on the sponsors' representations in good faith.''
A spokeswoman for Meeks, Ladan Ahmadi, said in a statement that the congressman ''had no reason to believe that the trip was in any way inappropriate. He understood the rug to be a permissible courtesy gift. He did receive notice from the Office of Congressional Ethics in January 2015 that it was confidentially reviewing the trip. He cooperated completely with the review, providing OCE with documents and other information in response to its request.''
Lance declined to comment, citing the ongoing ethics investigation. A senior staff member who declined to speak publicly said the congressman was unaware that SOCAR had sponsored the event and that he had returned the one rug he received after he returned to Washington. The staff member also said Lance received a pair of earrings and reimbursed the nonprofit group that helped organize the conference $100 immediately upon returning to New Jersey.
Trip organized in plain sight
Although lawmakers told investigators that they were unaware that the Azerbaijani government had underwritten the trip through its oil company, investigators noted that SOCAR organized much of the conference in plain sight. The oil company issued invitations, sponsored visa entries for the lawmakers and staff members, and hung banners and placards emblazoned with SOCAR's logo throughout the conference halls in Baku.
The investigators concluded in their report that ''a person's ignorance of the true source of travel expenses is not an absolute shield from liability for receipt of travel expenses from an improper source.''
Several members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has oversight of U.S. relations with Iran and the economic sanctions, attended the conference. They included one of the panel's most influential members, Poe, who chairs its subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.
The report said Poe was among those who did not fully cooperate with the Office of Congressional Ethics or did not acknowledge receipt of their request for information.
In a statement to The Post, Shaylyn Hynes, Poe's spokeswoman said, ''Congressman Poe did cooperate,'' providing investigators with documents and answers to their questions.
''The House Committee on Ethics then requested that the OCE cease its review because it was conducting its own investigation,'' Hynes's statement said. ''As a result, we alerted OCE that we were communicating and cooperating directly with the House Committee on Ethics, the official arbiter of House ethics matters.''
Hynes's statement added that the congressman thought the conference was being sponsored by the nonprofits.
''In its report, the OCE clearly states it did not receive any evidence that the Congressman knew that TCAE was not the sole organizer or sponsor of the travel,'' Hynes's statement said. ''The OCE further correctly found that ''Representative Poe acted in good faith reliance on information received from the purported trip sponsor and approval from the Committee on Ethics.''
According to the report, three other lawmakers who took the trip also declined to cooperate with the ethics office or did not respond: Jackson Lee, a member of the Homeland Security Committee; Lance, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Meeks, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Lance's staff member said the lawmaker had been ready to cooperate with the Office of Congressional Ethics when he was told by the House Ethics Committee that it would examine the case. Lance is now cooperating with that panel.
Meeks also provided documents to the OCE but did not give an interview to investigators after learning that the House Ethics Committee was conducting its own investigation, his spokeswoman, Ahmadi, said in a statement.
''Congressman Meeks is committed to cooperate with the Ethics Committee in its review of this matter,'' Ahmadi said in a statement.
Those who went to the conference and cooperated with the investigation said they thought the nonprofit corporations had funded the trip and reported their travel expenses on their disclosure forms. Several said they believed they did not need to disclose the gifts because their value did not exceed the $350 reporting threshold.
Lujan Grisham told ethics investigators that she did not disclose the rugs because she did not think they were particularly valuable. She also thought that they were unattractive.
''It's not a carpet I would have purchased,'' the congresswoman said.
A spokesman for Lujan Grisham told The Post that the congresswoman ''takes House Ethics rules seriously'' and sought approval for the trip by the House Ethics Committee.
''The Office of Congressional Ethics concluded, as reported by the news media, that Rep. Lujan Grisham was led to believe the travel was sponsored by a nonprofit organization, and not any other source,'' said Gilbert Gallegos, the spokesman, in a statement. ''Rep. Lujan Grisham acted in good faith as she relied on the approval by House Ethics Committee.''
Lujan Grisham has fully cooperated with the investigation, he said.
In recent years, as relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated over Iran's nuclear ambitions, Congress and the Obama administration have stepped up economic sanctions. The government of Azerbaijan, which shares a border with Iran, hired several lobbying firms to build a better relationship with policymakers in Washington.
Considering new sanctions
As Congress weighed a new round of sanctions against Iran in 2012, SOCAR opened an office in Washington, buying a building in Dupont Circle for $12 million. On April 25 and 26, 2012, a conference called U.S.-Azerbaijan Relations: Vision for Future was held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown Washington.
Among the attendees were Poe, Meeks, and Jackson Lee. Ethics investigators said it appeared that SOCAR was a ''major funder'' of the conference, citing interviews and photographs published on a Web site for the event that showed banners with SOCAR's logos inside the hotel.
At the time, Congress was considering the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act. The bill contained a provision that would exempt the gas pipeline project from Iranian sanctions. The provision said that ''nothing'' in the measure would apply to ''the development of natural gas and the construction and operation of a pipeline to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe.''
Three months later, on July 30, 2012, Obama signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against Iran and exempting the pipeline. On Aug. 1, Congress approved the sanctions legislation and the exemption. Obama signed it into law nine days later.
Before adjourning for Christmas, Congress approved another sanctions bill called the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act, which was part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. That bill also contained an exemption for the gas pipeline. On Jan. 2, 2013, Obama signed the legislation into law.
Soon, members of Congress began receiving invitations to attend a springtime conference in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan known for its mix of medieval architecture and gleaming modern buildings along the shores of the Caspian Sea.
A month before the conference, the nonprofit AFAZ was set up in Houston, home to some of the world's largest energy companies. ''Evidence revealed that SOCAR founded AFAZ in the month prior to the Convention and transferred $750,000 to an AFAZ bank account prior to the Convention,'' the OCE report said. AFAZ was created as an ''educational, cultural, business, congressional advocacy and charitable organization'' with the mission of building ''bridges between the United States and Azerbaijan,'' according to the nonprofit's Web site.
The investigators for the Office of Congressional Ethics found that AFAZ and the other Houston-based nonprofit, TCAE, were used to conceal the true source of the funding for travel and other expenses for the U.S. officials.
''The OCE found that the disclosed nonprofit sponsors contributed virtually no money towards congressional travel to Azerbaijan and played a very limited role in organizing the Convention,'' the report said.
On April 16, 2013, Kemal Oksuz, an executive in charge of the nonprofits, wrote to the president of SOCAR, requesting $750,000 to underwrite the conference, according to the report. In return, Oksuz pledged that SOCAR's ''logo will be used on all printed materials, banners and website, and that SOCAR will be recognized as the Main Sponsor of the Convention.''
On May 13, SOCAR transferred $750,000 into the Wells Fargo account of AFAZ, according to the report. Three days later, AFAZ made its first money transfer to pay for the plane tickets for the conference attendees.
''SOCAR and AFAZ provided gifts in the form of impermissible travel expenses to congressional travelers in violation of House rules, regulations and federal law,'' the ethics investigators said.
'Sponsors' provided no funding
Last summer, the Houston Chronicle published an examination of the Baku conference and interviewed Oksuz. He told the newspaper that he was not required to disclose corporate sponsorships because ''those contributions always came after the conventions.''
The investigators said five nonprofits affiliated with the Azerbaijani government said they sponsored the conference, filing sworn statements with the Ethics Committee in April and May 2013.
''The five sponsoring organizations contributed no funding for the congressional travel in spite of false affirmations on the forms they submitted to the Committee on Ethics,'' the investigators wrote in the report.
SOCAR assembled a list of lawmakers, other U.S. officials and private individuals it wanted to attend the three-day conference. The oil company invited more than 30 people to speak in Baku, according to the report, including Gibbs, Messina and Plouffe. SOCAR also invited Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had lost his reelection campaign in 2012.
In addition to SOCAR, BP, ConocoPhillips and KBR also helped to underwrite the costs of the conference, estimated at $1.5 million. Those costs included $100,000 for hotel accommodations, $75,000 for food and entertainment, and $1.2 million for travel and other expenses.
Several members of Congress and their staff members also took side trips to Turkey, traveling to Istanbul, Ankara or both, the investigators found. They included Clarke, Lujan Grisham, Hinojosa and Lance.
The Bosphorus Atlantic Cultural Association of Friendship and Cooperation, a Turkish nonprofit organization, covered the expenses, the report said. The lawmakers did not disclose the role of that nonprofit.
''Members of Congress who traveled to Turkey accepted payment of travel expenses from impermissible sources, resulting in an impermissible gift, in violation of House rules and regulations,'' the report found.
Investigators also said lawmakers received a number of gifts, including crystal tea sets, briefcases, silk scarves, turquoise earrings, gold-painted plates and Azerbaijani rugs. Some congressional staff members told the investigators they thought that the rugs were worth about $300 '-- $50 below the reporting threshold '-- and that they didn't need to disclose them on their forms filed with the Ethics Committee.
The report said ''evidence suggests'' that all lawmakers received at least one rug and some got two, one prayer-sized and one area rug. Many staff members also received rugs.
Only one lawmaker, Bridenstine, disclosed the rugs on his financial forms. He had them appraised: the smaller rug at $2,500 and the larger at $3,500. In a July 2013 letter to the Ethics Committee, he said he wanted to donate the larger rug to the House Clerk's Office.
Bridenstine was the only lawmaker to offer to pay for the rugs out of his own pocket, telling the committee that he would like to purchase the smaller rug ''at fair market value.''
But, ultimately, he decided not to keep the rugs.
''Having sought advice from the Committee on Ethics, I determined the best course of action was to return the rugs and I did so,'' he said in a statement to The Post. ''I also received a porcelain tea set which was valued at $87, well under the Foreign Gifts Disclosure Act rules, and an educational book and four local traditional music CDs.''
Amy Brittain, Kimbriell Kelly, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Steven Mufson contributed to this report.
Scott Higham is reporter assigned to The Post's investigative unit.
Steven Rich is the database editor for investigations at The Washington Post. While at The Post, he's worked on investigations involving tax liens, civil forfeiture, cartels and government oversight. He was also a member of the reporting team awarded the Pulitzer for NSA revelations. PGP Fingerprint: 69FA 5730 ADDD 5488 24FE 6EB2 B727 D930
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VIDEO-Target practice: Atmospheric Scientist John Christy exposes inaccuracy of climate models - YouTube
Thu, 14 May 2015 05:11
VIDEO-CNN's Fareed Zakaria Hypes: 'Fox News is A Favorite of ISIS' | MRCTV
Thu, 14 May 2015 03:43
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
CNN's Fareed Zakaria inserted a thinly-veiled shot at Fox News Channel during his 11 May 2015 special on ISIS. Zakaria underlined that "the angry rhetoric of cable news fits right into the script [of ISIS]." He continued that "CNN makes an occasional appearance" in the Islamist terrorist group's propaganda, but then played up that "Fox News is a favorite of ISIS, with commentators who demand boots on the ground '' playing into ISIS's dreams of a grand battle against America."
VIDEO-ABC Promotes Removing Andrew Jackson From the $20 | MRCTV
Thu, 14 May 2015 03:07
[See NewsBusters for more.] ABC and NBC on Wednesday promoted the campaign to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 and replace him with a woman. Just like when CBS pushed the concept in March and April, Good Morning America and Today didn't mention that the majority of the candidates suggested by the group Womenon20s.org were either prominent Democratic or liberal activists. GMA's Amy Robach announced, "And the group looking to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with a woman has now chosen a successor." On NBC's Today, Natalie Morales hyped, "The group Women on Twenties has sent its poll results to President Obama urging him to have them to have the Treasury Department redesign the $20 bill. So we'll wait and see if this happens."
VIDEO-Shorter Luke Russert: GOP Congressmen Don't Care Their Staffers May Die Riding Metro | MRCTV
Thu, 14 May 2015 02:47
Read more at NewsBusters | Republican Congressmen are so wedded to slashing federal infrastructure spending that they don't care that their own staffers are riding around on unsafe Metrorail subway cars. That, essentially, was the charge that MSNBC's Luke Russert made at the close of a segment on Now with Alex Wagner devoted to bashing Republicans for proposed cuts to Amtrak and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
VIDEO-Networks Continue to Shamelessly Push Need for More Infrastructure Funding | MRCTV
Thu, 14 May 2015 02:40
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Despite now knowing that the Amtrak train that derailed outside of Philadelphia on Tuesday night was going more than double the speed limit, the ''big three'' networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC continued pushing the need for more infrastructure funding and an increase in Amtrak's budget on their Wednesday evening newscasts.
On the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley parroted the point that ''[s]ome of Amtrak's equipment has been charitably described as 'antique,''' before going on fret that ''a House panel today cut Amtrak's budget even more.''
VIDEO-Obama Dismisses Wealthy Americans As 'Society's Lottery Winners' - YouTube
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:40
VIDEO-U.S. hurricane drought breaks records - CNN Video
Wed, 13 May 2015 22:15
');jQuery(owl._items[0]).find('.media__icon').remove();}}function currentVideoCollectionContainsId (currentVideoId) {var nextVideoIndex = 0,vidObj,i;if (jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {nextPlay = currentVideoCollection[getNextVideoIndex(currentVideoId)].videoUrl;if (nextPlay === undefined || nextPlay === null) {nextPlay = currentVideoCollection[0].videoUrl;}moveToNextTimeout = setTimeout(function () {location.href = nextPlay;}, nextVideoPlayTimeout);}}callbackObj = {onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);/* Add VisualRevenue event on video ad start */if (Array.isArray(window._vrq)) {window._vrq.push(['video', 'adroll', configObj.video]);}},onAdEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, blockId, adType) {/* Add VisualRevenue event on video ad stop */if (Array.isArray(window._vrq)) {window._vrq.push(['video', 'adstop', configObj.video]);}},onCVPReady: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {setCarouselDisplayIndex();},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);setNowPlaying(contentId);/* Add VisualRevenue event on video start */if (Array.isArray(window._vrq)) {window._vrq.push(['video', 'play', configObj.video]);}var idx,cvp = containerId && window.cnnVideoManager.getPlayerByContainer(containerId).videoInstance.cvp || null,prevVideoId = (window.jsmd && window.jsmd.v && (window.jsmd.v.eVar18 || window.jsmd.v.eVar4)) || '';if (cvp && typeof cvp.reportAnalytics === 'function') {if (prevVideoId.length === 0 && document.referrer && document.referrer.search(/\/videos\//) >= 0) {prevVideoId = document.referrer.replace(/^(?:http|https)\:\/\/[^\/]\/videos\/(.+\.\w+)(?:\/video\/playlists\/.*)?$/, '/video/$1');if (prevVideoId === document.referrer) {prevVideoId = '';}}if (jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {idx = getNextVideoIndex(contentId);nextVideoId = currentVideoCollection[idx].videoId;nextVideoUrl = currentVideoCollection[idx].videoUrl;currentVideoCollectionId = (window.jsmd && window.jsmd.v && window.jsmd.v.eVar60) || nextVideoUrl.replace(/^.+\/video\/playlists\/(.+)\//, '$1');}cvp.reportAnalytics('videoPageData', {videoCollection: currentVideoCollectionId,videoBranding: CNN.omniture.branding_content_page,templateType: CNN.omniture.template_type,nextVideo: nextVideoId,previousVideo: prevVideoId,referrerType: '',referrerUrl: document.referrer});}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var embedContainer = embedLinkHandler.getEmbedContainer();if (typeof metadata !== 'undefined' &&(typeof embedContainer.length !== 'undefined' &&embedContainer.length It might surprise you how long it has been since a major hurricane struck the United States. CNN's Jennifer Gray reports.
VIDEO-BBC Radio 4 - Today, 13/05/2015, May asked to define extremism in new counter-extremism bill
Wed, 13 May 2015 17:55
Theresa May said the government's counter-extremism strategy is designed to combat people who are "seeking to divide us".
The home secretary said that "we are one nation" but some people want to divide us into "them and us".
She claims the measures will be part of a bigger picture which would includea strategy to "promote British values" - which, she says, include tolerance and respect for different faiths.
"Nobody is suggesting that different views cannot be expressed but one reason for looking at extremism in this way, is the path down which it can lead people", she adds.
David Cameron is to set out a string of new powers to tackle radicalisation, saying the UK has been a "passively tolerant society" for too long.
The PM will tell the National Security Council a counter-extremism bill will be in the Queen's Speech on 27 May.
VIDEO-Obama in 'full Marxist mode' says rich people aren't 'evil,' they just have too much money | BizPac Review
Wed, 13 May 2015 17:51
President Obama doesn't hate rich people. He just thinks they shouldn't be rich.
In remarks that drew critical broadsides from conservative radio champion Mark Levin and others on the right, Obama, in addition to attacking Fox News, said rich people aren't ''evil'' per se they just have too much money.
''I'm not saying this because I dislike hedge fund managers or think they are evil,'' Obama said ''You pretty much have more than you'll ever use and your family will ever use.''
Showing that he doesn't understand most rich people work hard for their money, the president compared them to gamblers hitting a jackpot.
''If we can't ask for society's lottery winners for that modest contribution, then really this conversation is all for show,'' he told the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit.
He then lamented the wave of class warfare that he himself promoted and rode into two terms in office.
''Part of what happened in our politics and part of what has shifted '-- elites in a very mobile globalized world are able to live together away from folks who are not as wealthy,'' he said. ''What used to be racial segregation mirrors itself in class segregation.''
This is from a guy who vacations on Martha's Vineyard? What does he consider himself?
His remarks echo comments he made in a 2010 speech he made in Quincy, Ill., where he decried rich people making too much money.
''We're not, we're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money,'' he said at the time.
On his radio show Tuesday, Levin accused Obama of being in ''full Marxist mode.''
''Its Marxism. Destroy the society, the society is unjust,'' he said. ''Take from the haves, give to the have nots. And the iron fist of government has to do all the social engineering!''
He also blasted Obama's comment about kids going to private schools and clubs and ''withdrawing from the commons,'' and said Obama is ''living what he's condemning.''
''Is like Tourette's for this guy, its knee-jerk,'' Levin said. ''Private schools, private clubs 'Oops wait a minute I send my kids to private school, they're not with the commons. Wait a minute private clubs, that's where I play golf!'''
Levin also took aim at Obama saying the rich have an ''anti-government ideology.''
''Who's rioting in the streets in Ferguson, Missouri? Who's rioting in the streets in Baltimore, Maryland? Who rioted in the streets in the 1960s?'' he asked. ''Who took over college campuses in the 1960s and '70s? Who is it that wants to fundamentally transform America? Who is it the eviscerates our Constitution? Who is it that has our borders wide open with a flood of illegal aliens coming into this country?
''Obama is schitzophrenic in this. On the one hand he rails against the system, on the other hand he is the system!''
Naturally, the Twitterverse chimed in with their thoughts on the president's latest leftist rhetoric.
@AIIAmericanGirI Then he should go after the Clintons, Soros, Rich Hollywood type
'-- Noreen Anthony-Tabar (@toninmat) May 13, 2015
@AIIAmericanGirI Says the guy who's spent $50M of taxpayer's money on vacations!
'-- Darrel Parks (@DarrelParks2) May 13, 2015
http://t.co/SLOYXCY3dI '' ''rich people make to much money'' definition of #socialism#hardwork doesn't payoff
'-- Sara & Matt Sellers (@lovebindsthem) May 13, 2015
Obama says ''society's lottery winners'' are rich. But poor people spend 9% of their household income on the lottery. http://t.co/DFsJB2xFwh
'-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 12, 2015
@benshapiro Just for the record, actual lottery winners give nearly 50% of their money to Uncle Sam.
'-- Gen Yvette Sutton (@gen_yvette) May 12, 2015
@benshapiro Is he one of society's ''lottery winners?''
'-- pepeman (@pepeman) May 12, 2015
@benshapiro I'm thinking most rich people did a little more work than wandering into Circle K for a scratcher.
'-- SoCalGOPJew (@SoCalGOPJew) May 12, 2015
@benshapiro@SweetFreedom29 People who did nothing to earn their money-Obama-think that those who work hard shouldn't keep rewards.
'-- Sailor661 (@Saiilor661) May 13, 2015
Related:
Fox News fires back! Obama's attempt to smear network is 'beneath the dignity of the office.'
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feedCarmine SabiaCarmine Sabia Jr started his own professional wrestling business at age 18 and went on to become a real estate investor. Currently he is a pundit who covers political news and current events.Latest posts by Carmine Sabia (see all)
VIDEO-Obama Just Called Out Fox News For Making the Poor Out to Be "Leeches" | Mother Jones
Wed, 13 May 2015 17:31
'--Ben Dreyfuss on Tue. May 12, 2015 3:50 PM PDT
Via Politico, oh snap:
President Barack Obama criticized Fox News on Tuesday, accusing the network of portraying poor people as "leeches."
In a discussion at Georgetown University, Obama said the media made an effort to ''suggest the poor are sponges, leeches, don't want to work, are lazy, are undeserving," and he then singled out Fox News for special rebuke.
From the White House transcript:
There's always been a strain in American politics where you've got the middle class, and the question has been, who are you mad at, if you're struggling; if you're working, but you don't seem to be getting ahead. And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there's been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don't want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. And, look, it's still being propagated.
I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu'--they will find folks who make me mad. I don't know where they find them. They're like, "I don't want to work, I just want a free Obama phone"'--or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative, right? That gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress'--which is much more typical'--who's raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can't pay the bills.
And so if we're going to change how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we're going to have to change how our body politic thinks, which means we're going to have to change how the media reports on these issues and how people's impressions of what it's like to struggle in this economy looks like, and how budgets connect to that. And that's a hard process because that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news.
Amen.
Here's the video, courtesy of Media Matters:
BOOM. President Obama just called out Fox News by name for their awful coverage of poverty in America and for regularly pushing false stereotypes about poor people. Watch:
Posted by Media Matters for America on Tuesday, May 12, 2015
VIDEO-Pakistanis Knew Where Osama Bin Laden Was, U.S. Sources Say - NBC News.com
Tue, 12 May 2015 21:58
Two intelligence sources tell NBC News that the year before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a "walk in" asset from Pakistani intelligence told the CIA where the most wanted man in the world was hiding - and these two sources plus a third say that the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along.
The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking couriers to his walled complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The new revelations do not necessarily cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency's operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission. The official story focused on a long hunt for bin Laden's presumed courier, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
While NBC News has long been pursuing leads about a "walk in" and about what Pakistani intelligence knew, both assertions were made public in a London Review of Books article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Hersh's story, published over the weekend, raises numerous questions about the White House account of the SEAL operation. It has been strongly disputed both on and off the record by the Obama administration and current and former national security officials.
The Hersh story says that the "walk in," a Pakistani intelligence official, contacted U.S. authorities in 2010, that elements of ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, knew of bin Laden's whereabouts, and that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid before it launched. The U.S. has maintained that it did not tell the Pakistani government about the raid before it launched.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren called Hersh's piece "largely a fabrication" and said there were "too many inaccuracies" to detail each one. Col Warren said the raid to kill bin Laden was a "unilateral action." Both the National Security Council and the Pentagon denied that Pakistan had played any role in the raid.
AAMIR QURESHI / AFP/Getty ImagesPakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan after the U.S. raid that killed him.
"The notion that the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false," said NSC spokesman Ned Price. "As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials."
The administration's responses do not address the specific allegations in the Hersh article, including the existence of the "walk in" asset.
Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, dismissed Hersh's account. "I simply have never heard of anything like this and I've been briefed several times," said McCain, R.-Arizona. "This was a great success on the part of the administration and something that we all admire the president's decision to do. "
The NBC News sources who confirm that a Pakistani intelligence official became a "walk in" asset include the special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI's awareness, saying twice, "They knew."
Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored "deep suspicions" that ISI and al Qaeda were "cooperating." And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.
None of the sources characterized how high up in ISI the knowledge might have gone. Said one former senior official, "We were suspicious that someone inside ISI '... knew where bin Laden was, but we did not have intelligence about specific individuals having specific knowledge."
Multiple U.S. officials, however, denied or cast doubt on the assertion that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid ahead of time.
First published May 11 2015, 2:45 PM
VIDEO-MINORITY REPORT | Official Trailer | FOX BROADCASTING - YouTube
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:22
VIDEO-Swedish activists deploy 'gay propaganda' defense system against lurking Russian subs '-- RT News
Tue, 12 May 2015 16:00
Published time: May 12, 2015 03:42Image from svenskafreds.se/singingsailor/
In a flashy effort to help their military fend off the perceived threat of Russian submarines, Swedish peace activists have deployed a neon underwater ''defense system'' which sends out a welcoming message reading ''this way if you are gay.''
The animated subsurface neon sign was recently installed off the coast of Stockholm by the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS). Submarines in the vicinity of the so-called ''Singing Sailor'' are welcomed by morse-coded message and captions that state in English and in Russian: ''Welcome to Sweden. Gay since 1944,'' in reference to the year Sweden legalized homosexuality.
Last October, Sweden scrambled over 200 troops, helicopters and ships on a week-long search for a suspected Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago. Since then, the Nordic country decided to invest 10.2 billion kronor ($111.9 million) in its defenses. But the NGO apparently believes their ''gay propaganda'' defense system being much cheaper is equally effective.
SPAS says that the Singing Sailor is part of its contribution to an ongoing hot debate on shifting the country's ''military resources into development and rethinking security.''
''The purpose of the Operation The Singing Sailor is to urge the Swedish government to think in new ways instead of falling back on territorial defense, conscription and rearmament '' the world doesn't need more weapons,'' SPAS said in the press release.
One of the world's oldest peace organization that prides itself with being associated with winning the Nobel Peace Prize, simply says that ''in times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever.''
READ MORE: Sweden confirms mystery 'Russian sub''...was in fact a workboat
The carefully crafted welcoming sign with a caption in Russian was apparently developed around common misconception of Russia's so-called ''gay propaganda'' ban introduced back in 2013. The law received a negative resonance in the press and has been widely been debated abroad ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. The general image of foreign news outlets centered around the perception of ''homophobic'' Russia.
In reality, the new law was designed to protect children from abuse and has nothing to do with punishing people for being homosexual. The legislation prohibiting ''propaganda of homosexuality to minors'' became an amendment to the law ''on protecting children from information harmful to their health and development''.
In addition the Swedish activists' device was designed as invitation for the Stockholm Pride Parade on August 1. ''We want to break-up with the violence. Our invitation is also extended to Swedish subs and military personnel and all others that want to join us,'' said communications and fundraising manager Daniel Holking.
VIDEO-Osama Bin Laden was an unarmed elderly 'invalid' when Navy Seals killed him and Barack Obama lied about the mission, report claims - Americas - World - The Independent
Mon, 11 May 2015 22:36
President Obama was accused of making up a number of key details that were fed to the public in the wake of the assassination, including that Bin Laden died in a fire-fight and that the Pakistani government had no role to play in the mission.
Seymour Hersh, whose previous investigations have included the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, cited unnamed intelligence officials as part of what he called his ''alternative history of the war on terror''.
Writing in the London Review of Books, Mr Hersh claimed that rather than hiding out in a compound in Abbottabad, Bin Laden was in fact being held prisoner by the Pakistani intelligence services when he was killed.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took personal responsibility, and praise, for the US finding and killing Osama bin Laden The article quotes ''a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about Bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad'', who said Pakistan had secretly detained the wanted terrorist for years to use ''as leverage against Taliban and al-Qaeda activities''.
In the immediate aftermath of the killing, Obama told the media the mission had been a secret incursion into Pakistan and that a small team of Seals fought a dramatic gun battle with men inside Bin Laden's compound.
But according to Mr Hersh's source, senior Pakistani officials willingly gave up Bin Laden's location to maintain good relations with the US and in exchange for a slice of a $25 million reward fund.
Former US Navy Seal Rob O'Neill has been revealed as the man from Team Six who shot Osama Bin Laden in the 2011 Pakistan raid They also facilitated the Navy Seals mission by cutting power to the compound and diverting the local military, it was alleged, and had even agreed with the White House upon an elaborate back story where it would be claimed that Bin Laden was killed in a drone strike in mountains on the Pakistan-Afghan border.
The White House has repeatedly insisted that Bin Laden would have been taken alive if he surrendered '' but according to the retired official quoted by Hersh, ''it was clearly and absolutely a premeditated murder''.
The Seals were given ''absolute authority to kill the guy'', the official was quoted as saying, even if they only ''suspected he might have some means of opposition, like an explosive vest under his robe''.
Locals and media gather outside the compound, pictured in May 2011, where Osama Bin Laden was reportedly killed in an operation by US Navy Seals ''The truth is that bin Laden was an invalid, but we cannot say that,'' the retired official reportedly said.
Mr Hersh also reports that White House claims Bin Laden was still receiving information from and giving orders to al-Qaeda were ''lies, misstatements and betrayal''.
''The White House had to give the impression that bin Laden was still operationally important,'' he quoted the official as saying. ''Otherwise, why kill him?''
The White House is yet to comment on Hersh's claims. On Monday, Mr Hersh appeared on CNN to defend his article.
"I am waiting for the White House to deny it," he said.
VIDEO-The Spy Among Us - CBS News
Mon, 11 May 2015 16:23
Jack Barsky held a job at some of the top corporations in the U.S. and lived a seemingly normal life -- all while spying for the Soviet Union
The following is a script from "The Spy Among Us" which aired on May 10, 2015. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Draggan Mihailovich, producer.
Tonight, we're going to tell you a story you've probably never heard before because only a few people outside the FBI know anything about it. It's a spy story unlike any other and if you think your life is complicated, wait till you hear about Jack Barsky's, who led three of them simultaneously. One as a husband and father, two as a computer programmer and administrator at some top American corporations and three as a KGB agent spying on America during the last decade of the Cold War.
The FBI did finally apprehend him in Pennsylvania but it was long after the Soviet Union had crumbled. What makes Jack Barsky's story even more remarkable is he's never spent a night in jail, the Russians declared him dead a long time ago, he's living a quiet life in upstate New York and has worked in important and sensitive jobs. He's now free to tell his story...as honestly as a former spy ever can.
Jack Barsky
CBS News
Steve Kroft: So who are you?Jack Barsky: Who am I? That depends when the question is asked. Right now, I'm Jack Barsky. I work in the United States. I'm a U.S. citizen. But it wasn't always the case.
Steve Kroft: How many different identities do you have?
Jack Barsky: I have two main identities. A German one, and an American one.
"Who am I? That depends when the question is asked. Right now, I'm Jack Barsky. I work in the United States. I'm a U.S. citizen. But it wasn't always the case."Steve Kroft: What's your real name?
Jack Barsky: My real name is Jack Barsky.
Steve Kroft: And what name were you born with?
Jack Barsky: Albrecht Dittrich. Say that three times real fast.
Steve Kroft: Just say it once slowly...(laughs)
Jack Barsky: Albrecht Dittrich.
How Albrecht Dittrich became Jack Barsky is one of the untold stories of the Cold War, an era when the real battles were often fought between the CIA and the KGB. Barsky was a rarity, a Soviet spy who posed as an American and became enmeshed in American society. For the 10 years he was operational for the KGB, no one in this country knew his real story, not even his family.
Steve Kroft: Did you think you were going to get away with this?
Jack Barsky: Yeah, otherwise I wouldn't have done it (laughs).
Young Jack Barsky
What Barsky did can be traced back to East Germany, back to the days when he was Albrecht Dittrich. A national scholar at a renowned university in Jena, Dittrich was on the fast track to becoming a chemistry professor, his dream job.Jack Barsky: Didn't work out that way, because I was recruited by the KGB to do something a little more adventurous.
Steve Kroft: Spy?
Jack Barsky: We called it something different. We used a euphemism. I was going to be a "scout for peace."
Steve Kroft: A KGB "scout for peace"?
Jack Barsky: That is correct. The communist spies were the good guys. And the capitalist spies were the evil ones. So we didn't use the word spy.
He says his spying career began with a knock on his dorm room door one Saturday afternoon in 1970. A man introduced himself, claiming to be from a prominent optics company.
Jack Barsky: He wanted to talk with me about my career, which was highly unusual. I immediately, there was a flash in my head that said, "That's Stasi."
Steve Kroft: East German secret police?
Jack Barsky: East German secret police, yeah.
PlayVideo
60 Minutes: Segment ExtrasHow does a covert spy get around?Former KGB spy Jack Barsky says he had to take circuitous routes to get in and out of the U.S.
It was a Stasi agent. He invited Dittrich to this restaurant in Jena where a Russian KGB agent showed up and took over the conversation. The KGB liked Dittrich's potential because he was smart, his father was a member of the Communist party and he didn't have any relatives in the West. Dittrich liked the attention and the notion he might get to help the Soviets.
Steve Kroft: And what did you think of America?
Jack Barsky: It was the enemy. And, the reason that the Americans did so well was because they exploited all the third-world countries. That's what we were taught, and that's what we believed. We didn't know any better. I grew up in an area where you could not receive West German television. It was called the "Valley of the Clueless."
For the next couple of years, the KGB put Dittrich through elaborate tests and then in 1973 he was summoned to East Berlin, to this former Soviet military compound. The KGB, he says, wanted him to go undercover.
Jack Barsky: At that point, I had passed all the tests, so they wanted, they made me an offer.
Steve Kroft: But you had been thinking about it all along, hadn't you?
Jack Barsky: That's true. With one counterweight in that you didn't really know what was going to come. Is-- how do you test drive becoming another person?
It was a difficult decision, but he agreed to join the KGB and eventually found himself in Moscow, undergoing intensive training.
Jack Barsky: A very large part of the training was operational work. Determination as to whether you're being under surveillance. Morse code, short wave radio reception. I also learned how to do microdots. A microdot is, you know, you take a picture and make it so small with the use of microscope that you can put it under a postage stamp.
PlayVideo
60 Minutes: Segment ExtrasJack Barsky shares some how-tos of spyingThe former KGB spy says he had to get creative when it came to dead drop operations.
The Soviets were looking to send someone to the U.S. who could pose as an American. Dittrich showed a command of English and no trace of an East German accent that might give him away. He learned a hundred new English words every day.
Jack Barsky: It took me forever. I did probably a full year of phonetics training. The difference between "hot" and "hut." Right? That, that's very difficult and, and most Germans don't get that one.
Steve Kroft: Did you want to go to the United States?
Jack Barsky: Oh yeah. Sure. There was New York, there was San Francisco, you know, we heard about these places.
Steve Kroft: Your horizons were expanding...
Jack Barsky: Oh, absolutely. Now I'm really in the big league, right?
Dittrich needed an American identity. And one day a diplomat out of the Soviet embassy in Washington came across this tombstone just outside of D.C. with the name of a 10-year-old boy who had died in 1955. The name was Jack Philip Barsky.
PlayVideo
60 Minutes: Segment ExtrasThe Original Jack Philip BarskyFormer FBI Agent Joe Reilly recalls a difficult conversation with the parents of the original Jack Barsky -- a deceased 10-year-old boy.
Jack Barsky: And they said, "Guess what? We have a birth certificate. We're going to the U.S."
Steve Kroft: And that was the Jack Barsky birth certificate.
Jack Barsky: The Jack Barsky birth certificate that somebody had obtained and I was given. I didn't have to get this myself.
Steve Kroft: Did you feel strange walking around with this identity of a child?
Jack Barsky: No. No. When you do this kind of work, some things you don't think about. Because if you explore, you may find something you don't like.
The newly minted Jack Barsky landed in New York City in the fall of 1978, with a phony back story called a legend and a fake Canadian passport that he quickly discarded. The KGB's plan for him was fairly straightforward. They wanted the 29-year-old East German to get a real U.S. passport with his new name, then become a businessman, then insert himself into the upper echelons of American society and then to get close to National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski so that he could spy on him.
Jack Barsky: That was the plan. It failed.
Steve Kroft: Why?
Jack Barsky: Because I was not given very good instructions with regard to how to apply for a passport.
When he went to apply for a passport at Rockefeller Center, Barsky was thrown off by the list of questions.
Jack Barsky: Specific details about my past, for which I had no proof. So I walked out of it.
Steve Kroft: Did the KGB have a pretty good grasp on the United States and how things worked there?
Jack Barsky: No.
Steve Kroft: No?
Jack Barsky: Absolutely not. They made a number of mistakes in terms of giving me advice, what to do, what not to do. They just didn't know.
Left to fend for himself in a country the KGB didn't understand, he got himself a cheap apartment and tried to make do with a birth certificate and $6,000 dollars in cash the Soviets had given him. His spying career at that point more resembled the bumbling Boris Badenov than James Bond...
Steve Kroft: So you were working as a bike messenger?
Jack Barsky: Right.
Steve Kroft: That doesn't sound like a promising position for a spy.
Jack Barsky: No. But there were a lot of things that I didn't know...
Steve Kroft: So how close did you ever get to Brzezinski?
Jack Barsky: Not very.
To get a Social Security card, which he would need if he wanted a real job, Barsky knew he would have to do some acting.
Jack Barsky: It was unusual for a 30-plus-year-old person to, to say, "You know, I don't have a Social Security card. Give me one." So in order to make my story stick I made my face dirty. So I looked like somebody who just came off a farm. It worked! The lady asked me, she said, "So how come you don't, you don't have a card?" And when the answer was, "I didn't need one." "Why?" "Well, I worked on a farm." And that was the end of the interview.
The Social Security card enabled him to enroll at Baruch College in Manhattan, where he majored in computer systems. He was class valedictorian but you won't find a picture of him in the school yearbook. In 1984, he was hired as a programmer by Metropolitan Life Insurance where he had access to the personal information of millions of Americans.
Steve Kroft: You were writing computer code?
Jack Barsky: Right. Yes. Lots of it. And I was really good at it.
What he didn't write, he stole, on behalf of the KGB.
Steve Kroft: What was the most valuable piece of information you gave them?
Jack Barsky: I would say that was the computer code because it was a very prominent piece of industrial software still in use today.
Steve Kroft: This was IBM code?
Jack Barsky: No comment.
Steve Kroft: You don't want to say?
Jack Barsky: No. It was good stuff. Let's put it this way, yeah.
Steve Kroft: It was helpful to the Soviet Union...
Jack Barsky: It would've been helpful to the Soviet Union and their running organizations and, and factories and so forth.
Steve Kroft: How often did you communicate with the Russians?
Jack Barsky: I would get a radiogram once a week.
Steve Kroft: A radiogram, meaning?
Jack Barsky: A radiogram means a transmission that was on a certain frequency at a certain time.
Every Thursday night at 9:15 Barsky would tune into his shortwave radio at his apartment in Queens and listen for a transmission he believed came from Cuba.
Jack Barsky: All the messages were encrypted that they became digits. And the digits would be sent over as, in groups of five. And sometimes that took a good hour to just write it all down, and then another three hours to decipher.
During the 10 years he worked for the KGB, Barsky had a ready-made cover story.
Steve Kroft: When somebody'd ask you, you know, "Where you from Jack?," what'd you say?
Jack Barsky: I'm originally from New Jersey. I was born in Orange. That's it. American. Nobody ever questioned that. People would question my, "You have an accent." But my comeback was, "Yeah, my mother was German and we spoke a lot of German at home."
Steve Kroft: You had to tell a lot of lies.
Jack Barsky: Absolutely. I was living a lie.
Steve Kroft: Were you a good liar?
Jack Barsky: The best.
You had to be a good liar to juggle the multiple lives he was leading. Every two years while he was undercover for the KGB, Barsky would return to East Germany and Moscow for debriefings. During one of his visits to East Berlin he married his old girlfriend Gerlinde and they had a son.
Steve Kroft: Did that complicate matters?
Jack Barsky: Initially it wasn't complicated at all, it got complicated later.
Steve Kroft: Because?
Jack Barsky: Because I got married in the United States to somebody else.
Steve Kroft: Did she know about your other wife in Germany?
Jack Barsky: No.
Steve Kroft: Did your wife in Germany know about the...
Jack Barsky: Not at all.
Steve Kroft: So you had two wives?
Jack Barsky: I did. I'm, I was officially a bigamist. That's, that's the one thing I am so totally not proud of.
Steve Kroft: Being a spy was all right. Being a bigamist...
Jack Barsky: In hindsight, you know, I was a spy for the wrong people. But I, this one hurt because I had promised my German wife, that you know, we would be together forever. And I broke that promise. And the one way I can explain it to myself is I had separated the German, the Dittrich from the Barsky to the point where the two just didn't know about each other.
Not only did he have two different identities, and two wives, he had a son named Matthias in Germany and a daughter named Chelsea in America. And by November 1988, a radiogram from the KGB would force him to make an excruciating choice.
Jack Barsky: I received a radiogram that essentially said, "You need to come home. Your cover may soon be broken and you're in danger of being arrested by the American authorities."
Barsky was given urgent instructions from the KGB to locate an oil can that had been dropped next to a fallen tree just off this path on New York's Staten Island. A fake passport and cash that he needed to escape the United States and return to East Germany would be concealed inside the can.
Jack Barsky: I was supposed to pick up the container and go on, leave. Not even go back home to the apartment, just disappear. The container wasn't there. I don't know what I would have done if I had found it, but I know what I did when I didn't find it. I did not tell them, "repeat the operation." I made the decision to stay.
Steve Kroft: Why?
Jack Barsky: Because of Chelsea.
Steve Kroft: Your daughter.
Jack Barsky: Yes. If Chelsea's not in the mix, that's a no brainer, I'm outta here.
Barsky had chosen Chelsea over Matthias.
Jack Barsky: I had bonded with her. It was a tough one because on the one hand I had a wife and child in Germany but if I don't take care of Chelsea, she grows up in poverty.
Steve Kroft: This may be a little harsh but it sounds like the first time in your life that you thought about somebody besides yourself.
Jack Barsky: You're absolutely right. I was quite an egomaniac. I was.
Jack Barsky was still left with the not insignificant matter of telling the KGB that he was staying in America. In a moment, we'll tell you how he duped the KGB and how the FBI changed his life.
At the end of 1988, Jack Barsky's 10-year run as a clandestine KGB agent in the United States was about to come to an end. He had ignored Soviet warnings that his cover had been blown and decided to remain in America and not return to his native East Germany. He was taking a chance that no one in America would ever find out who he really was. And he was taking a bigger chance that the KGB wouldn't retaliate for disobeying an order. The urgency with which the Soviets seemed to view the situation became clear one morning in Queens.
Jack Barsky says he was on his way to work in December 1988, standing and waiting for an "A" train on this subway platform when a stranger paid him a visit.
Jack Barsky: There's this character in, in a black coat and he sidles up to me and he whispers in my ear, he says, "You gotta come home or else you're dead." And then he walked out.
Steve Kroft: Russian accent?
Jack Barsky: Yes.
Steve Kroft: That's an incentive.
Jack Barsky: It's an incentive to go.
Steve Kroft: I mean spies get killed all the time.
Jack Barsky: They do. But not me. The entire time I always had this childlike belief that everything would be all right.
"There's this character in, in a black coat and he sidles up to me and he whispers in my ear, he says, 'You gotta come home or else you're dead.' And then he walked out."Steve Kroft: So what are you going to tell the Russians?
Jack Barsky: Well, I (sighs) I sent them, this "Dear John" letter, the goodbye letter in which I stated that I had contracted AIDS and that the only way for me to get a treatment would be in the United States.
Steve Kroft: You just wrote them a letter and said, 'I can't come back. I've got AIDS"?
Jack Barsky: There's three things I tell people that the Russians were afraid of. AIDS, Jewish people and Ronald Reagan. And they were deathly...
Steve Kroft: In that order?
Jack Barsky: I think Ronald Reagan took the top spot. They thought he would push the button.
The AIDS letter apparently worked because in East Berlin the Soviets told his German wife Gerlinde he wasn't coming back.
Jack Barsky: They went to Gerlinde and told her that I had died of AIDS. So I think they just wrote me off completely.
Steve Kroft: You were officially dead in East Germany?
Jack Barsky: Right. After five years she was able to declare me dead.
Once the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union fell apart, Barsky was a man without a country. No one would want him back. He felt his secret was safe in America. He became a family guy, with a wife, two kids, Chelsea and Jessie, and a job. He burrowed himself into suburbia, keeping a low profile.
Jack Barsky: I was settling down, I was living in the, in rural Pennsylvania at the time, in a nice house, with two children. I was, like, typical middle class existence.
And his life would have stayed quiet if a KGB archivist named Vasili Mitrokhin hadn't defected to the West in 1992 with a trove of notes on the Soviets' spying operations around the world. Buried deep in his papers was the last name of a secret agent the KGB had deployed somewhere in America: Barsky.
Joe Reilly: We were concerned that he might be running an agent operating in the federal government somewhere. Who knows? In the FBI, the CIA, the State Department. We had no idea.
Joe Reilly was an FBI agent when the bureau got the Mitrokhin tip, and the Barsky case quickly became serious enough that FBI director Louis Freeh got personally involved. The FBI didn't know who or where he was, but the best lead seemed to be a Jack Barsky who was working as an I.T. specialist in New Jersey, with a suburban home across the border in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.
Steve Kroft: Aside from his name was there anything else that made you suspicious and make you think that this was the guy you were looking for?
Joe Reilly: Yes. One thing was the fact that he had applied for a Social Security number late in life. Especially someone like him who was educated and intelligent.
The FBI began following Barsky, and when this surveillance photo caught him talking to a native of Cuba, the bureau grew increasingly concerned.
Joe Barsky: There were some indications that I could possibly be the head of a international spy ring, because I had a friend who was originally from Cuba. And it so happened that this friend owned an apartment that was rented to a Soviet diplomat. So that one and raised all kinds of flags and they investigated me very, very, very carefully.
FBI agent Joe Reilly went so far as to set up an observation post on a hillside behind Barsky's house. This is a picture he took of his view.
Joe Reilly: I got a telescope and binoculars, as if I was a birdwatcher. But I was looking at his backyard and at him. Over time, I learned a great deal about him.
Steve Kroft: Like what?
Joe Reilly: ...just watching him. Well, I became convinced that he loved his children. And that was important because I wanted to know if he would flee. There was less chance of that if, if he was devoted to his children. And he was.
But that wasn't enough for the FBI. The bureau bought the house next door to get a closer look at the Barskys.
Steve Kroft: Did you get a good deal?
Joe Reilly: I think we paid what he was asking. And we had agents living there so that we could be sure who was coming and going from his house without being too obvious in our surveillance.
Steve Kroft: You had no idea the FBI was living next door to you?
Jack Barsky: No.
Steve Kroft: Never saw...
Jack Barsky: No.
Steve Kroft: ...Joe Reilly up on the hill with the binoculars?
Jack Barsky: Absolutely not.
When the FBI finally got authorization from the Justice Department to bug Barsky's home, the case broke wide open.
Joe Reilly: Within, I'd say, the first two weeks that we had microphones in his house, he had an argument with his wife in the kitchen. And during the course of that dispute, he readily admitted that he was an agent, operating from the Soviet Union.
It was all the FBI needed to move in on Barsky. They set a trap for him at a toll bridge across the Delaware River as he drove home from work late one Friday afternoon in May of 1997.
Jack Barsky: I'm being waved to the side by a state trooper. And he said, "We're doing a routine traffic check. Would you please get out of the car?" I get out of the car and somebody steps up from, from behind and shows me a badge. And he said, "FBI. We would like to talk to you."
Joe Reilly: His face just dropped. And we told him that he had to go with us.
Jack Barsky: The first words out of my mouth were, "Am I under arrest?" And the answer was, "No." Now that took a big weight off of me, so I figured there was a chance to get out of this in one piece. And the next question I asked, "So what took you so long?"
The FBI had rented an entire wing of a motel off Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania for Barsky's interrogation.
Joe Reilly: But on the way to the motel, I remember turning to him. And I, I told him that this didn't have to be the worst day of his life. And he immediately realized that he had an out.
Jack Barsky: I said to them, "Listen, I know I have only one shot out of this and that means I need to come clean and be 100 percent honest and tell you everything I know."
The FBI questioned Barsky throughout the weekend and gave him a polygraph test that he passed. Convinced that his spying days were over, and that his friendship with the Cuban was just that, the FBI decided to keep the whole thing quiet and allowed Barsky to go back to work on Monday morning.
Steve Kroft: Was he charged with something?
Joe Reilly: No.
Steve Kroft: Even though he confessed to being a Soviet spy?
Joe Reilly: Yes.
Steve Kroft: That seems odd.
Joe Reilly: Well, we wanted him to cooperate with us. We didn't want to put him in jail. He was no use to us there.
Barsky continued to meet not only with the FBI but with the National Security Agency to offer his first-hand insights into the KGB and the Russians.
Jack Barsky: I was able to provide them with a lot of valuable information how the KGB operated.
The only people who were aware of his secret were the FBI and Penelope, his wife in America, who subsequently filed for divorce. His daughter Chelsea, then a teenager, knew only that he wanted to tell her something when she turned 18. That day finally arrived on a four-hour drive to St. Francis University.
Chelsea: He started chuckling to himself and he said, "Well, I'm a, I was a spy. I was a KGB spy." I was like "What? Really?"
Jack also revealed to Chelsea why he had decided to stay in America.
Chelsea: He said that, you know, he fell in love with me and my, my curls when I was a little baby. And then I cried.
Steve Kroft: Did he tell you everything?
Chelsea: No, he didn't. He didn't tell me 100 percent the whole truth. He left some things out at that point.
Jack Barsky: I told her everything that you can tell in four hours that is age appropriate. She was still a teenager. I may not have told her that I was married in Germany.
He waited another two years before he matter-of-factly dropped another bombshell about his past.
Chelsea: He just looked straight ahead at the TV. And he said, "Did I tell you you have a brother?" And I turned my head. I'm like, "What? Are you serious?"
The half brother was Matthias, the boy Jack had left behind in Germany. Chelsea was determined to find him. Jack didn't like the idea.
Jack Barsky: I did not feel comfortable getting in touch with him. I did not feel comfortable with my acknowledging my German past.
After a year of trying to track him down online, Chelsea finally got a reply from Matthias...
Chelsea: The subject line said, "Dear little sister." And when I saw, "Dear little sister," I just started weeping, because that meant everything to me. That meant that he accepted me.
Matthias: And this is me...
A month later, Matthias was in Pennsylvania visiting Chelsea and her brother Jessie. They hit it off. Matthias wasn't interested in seeing his father, then changed his mind.
Barsky's children, from left: Jessie, Matthias and Chelsea
Steve Kroft: Was it awkward?Jack Barsky: I just remember he stared at me for a couple of minutes. He just stared at me.
Steve Kroft: I mean he had reason to be angry with you.
Jack Barsky: When I told him the dilemma that I was faced with, he actually said, "I understand."
Steve Kroft: And what's your relationship like with Matthias now?
Jack Barsky: He feels like he's my son.
Gerlinde, the wife in Germany who thought he was dead, wants nothing to do with Jack today - or with 60 Minutes.
He has remarried and has a four-year-old daughter. They live in upstate New York where Jack has worked as director of software development for a company that manages New York's high voltage power grid, a critical piece of U.S. infrastructure. When he told his employer recently that he had once been a KGB spy, he was placed on a paid leave of absence. Before becoming an American citizen last year, he had been given a clean bill of health by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. But in the world of espionage it's often difficult to tell what's true and what's legend.
Steve Kroft: Are you telling the truth right now?
Jack Barsky: I am, absolutely. The truth as far as I know it. Yes.
Steve Kroft: As far as you know it?
Jack Barsky: Well, you know, sometimes memory fails you. But I am, I am absolutely not holding back anything.
Steve Kroft: Why tell the story now?
Jack Barsky: I want to meet my maker clean. I need to get clean with the past. I need to digest this fully.
The FBI agent who apprehended him, Joe Reilly, still believes in Barsky. And in yet another twist to this story, the two are good friends and golfing buddies.
Joe Reilly: He's a very honest person. And if you want to find out how honest someone is, play golf with them.
Steve Kroft: But you're a former FBI guy and he's a former spy. What's the bond?
Joe Reilly: It's personal. He credits me for keeping him out of prison.
After nearly 30 years, Jack Barsky went back to visit a unified Germany, first in October, then again last month.
[Jack Barsky: So that was essentially the very beginning of my career...]
He showed his kids where this improbable tale began and some other key settings in his odyssey. And he caught up with old classmates who knew him as Albrecht Dittrich.
Barsky in Germany with his American children
CBS News
Steve Kroft: When you're here in Germany...Jack Barsky: Yeah...
Steve Kroft: ...are you Albrecht or are you Jack?
Jack Barsky: No, I'm Jack. I am 100 percent Jack. You know, the, I let the Albrecht out and sometimes he interferes, but they, they get along very well now (laughs)...
The Berlin wall, which once divided east and west, is now gone except for a section that has been turned into an art display. Checkpoint Charlie, once the epicenter of the Cold War, is now a tourist attraction, full of kitsch. Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels still stand in the eastern part of Berlin, relics of another era as is the man who straddled two worlds and got away with it.
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VIDEO-Harry Wants Someone To 'Share Pressure' With
Mon, 11 May 2015 07:48
By Rhiannon Mills, Royal Correspondent
Prince Harry has told Sky News exclusively that he would like to have children now but is just waiting for the right woman.
In his most personal interview in recent years, the Prince said it would be great to have someone to "share the pressure" with.
But, speaking outside his hilltop bungalow on the remote Stewart Island off New Zealand, he admitted it could not be forced and that the "time will come".
He also spoke of his desire to earn a "wage" and to "work with normal people", even though he has not yet decided what he wants to do after he leaves the Armed Forces later this summer.
He said: "There come times when you think now is the time to settle down, or now is not, whatever way it is, but I don't think you can force these things it will happen when it's going to happen.
Play video "Harry On Life, Love And The Army"Video:Harry On Life, Love And The Army"Of course, I would love to have kids right now, but there's a process that one has to go through and... tours like this are great fun.
"Hopefully I'm doing all right by myself. It would be great to have someone else next to me to share the pressure. But, you know, time will come and whatever happens, happens."
During his one-to-one interview with Sky News, he openly chatted about how difficult the decision was to leave the armed forces in June.
He was speaking on the latest leg of his month-long tour Down Under, which has already seen him spend time with the Armed Forces in Australia and tour New Zealand.
The day before, while visiting Stewart Island, he had been shown how to open oysters and took part in a pub quiz.
He admitted he was like a "zombie" at the end of an incredibly tiring programme in Australia, but said he was hugely grateful for his opportunity, saying "it was everything I joined the Army for, and some. I can't say there was a highlight. It was all amazing."
But, for the first time so openly, he explained his reason for wanting to leave the forces and move on.
"It is a crossroads. I'm in the same position now as other people in my year group, or my rank would be in. Because I'm a non-grad, I'm slightly behind everybody else.
"And most of the guys I joined with ... have already left, for numerous reasons.
"But it is a case of, if we move on, more responsibilities come. And, I suppose with wanting to take on slightly more of (the royal duties) role, I don't really feel I would be in the right position (to help) the careers of more soldiers or to take on the responsibility of continuing to fly, for instance.
"So it is a balance, and I've tried to get it right over the last six months to a year, before I finished. And it was getting hard. As I said: I'm at a crossroads.
"A lot of guys my age, when they get to captain, they leave, and that's because a lot of guys join for the outside, for the excitement of running around in the bush with soldiers and there is a point when you have to take the next step and go to a desk and do staff college and become a major and so on. And with all that comes responsibilities and a lot of your time, which, if I'm doing this sort of stuff, it doesn't work. I don't want people to cover for me."
Play video "Rhiannon Rises To Harry's Challenge"Video:Rhiannon Rises To Harry's ChallengeHe said there were many things he enjoyed about being an active royal but any job he took on should allow him to earn a salary.
"There's a few things on the shortlist," he said. "But I don't want to speculate because I know what people are like.
"As long as people back home ... know that they can trust me, that I'm making the right decision and that whatever it is, it will be something that means I can give something back.
"This part of the role is fantastic but I and William - both of us - feel as though we need to have a wage as well; to work with normal people, to keep us sane, to keep us ticking along.
"In the future, from our point of view, if we want to make a big contribution, or a valid contribution and be taken seriously, then we need to work alongside other people."
He admitted he feels under a lot of pressure to make the right decision, but he does not want to be saddled forever with the tag of 'party prince'. In fact, he said, he "never wanted that".
"If people can trust that I'll make the right decision and hopefully, whatever that is, I'll make them proud. I've got to the stage when I'm very happy that I've done 10 years in the services. There's part of me that - especially post Australia - that would love to keep on doing that."
He said he had been unable to watch as his brother Prince William and sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge had introduced their new daughter Princess Charlotte to the world.
But he was looking forward to meeting her.
"I didn't see any coverage at all," he said. "He sent me two photos; one before everybody else, which was nice, and then another - one with her back with George back home.
"So, as I said, I'm so looking forward to seeing her, to meeting her and to holding her.
"She was a little bit late, hence I missed her. So she'll have to work on that! But apart from that, it's fantastic news for both of them. So I'm thrilled."

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Agenda 21

Atmospheric Scientist John Christy exposes inaccuracy of climate models.mp3
CNN hurricane drought LUCKY.mp3

Baltimore / Furgeson

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CYBER!

Growing-Cyberthreat-From-Iran-final.pdf
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F-Russia

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Hillary 2016

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JCD Clips

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LGBBTQQIAAP

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MIC

Olberman on NFL salutes are paid for.mp3

Ministry of Truth

CNN story on F her in the P prank.mp3
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NA-Tech News

HTTPS-FAQ.pdf

NWO

Boxer on Trade Promotion Authority-CONSPIRACIES ANYONE.mp3
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Obama Nation

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Shut Up Slave

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SnowJob

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Trains Good Planes Bad

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Networks-3-ABC- Continue to Shamelessly Push Need for More Infrastructure Funding.mp3
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