Anti-Russian propaganda appearing in Dutch school textbooks
Tue, 09 Jun 2015 08:23
Several days ago a Dutch parent posted two images from his daughter's school workbook on his facebook page. The schoolbook is "Themes in Social Studies 1 for VMBO-KGT", VMBO standing for "preparatory middle-level vocational education", and is a school track in the Netherlands, which is similar to high school. The schoolbook is provided to VMBO students (aging approx. 15-16 y/o) during the last two years of this school track.Part of the description of the workbook reads, "The workbook is updated on an annual basis and contains many current and diverse sources with assignments." The workbook has certainly been updated, as Russia has been painted as quite an unfriendly country, clearly in line with the ongoing Western anti-Russia propaganda.
The following two images were found on page 67 of the workbook, Chapter 7: countries without democracy. The first image shows Russia as the 'evil' country trying to take Ukraine, while Europe is pictured lending a 'helping' hand. One of the questions students are asked, is: "What is Russia doing, and what is Europe doing in this picture?" Well, that isn't difficult to answer: Evil-looking Russia is obviously trying to devour poor Ukraine, while friendly Europe is looking on concerned!
(C) M. Philipsen
The second image (entitled 'How free is the world?') is that of a map that shows how free (green) or not free (red) a country is. Russia is pictured as a 'not-free country' while the U.S. and Europe in particular are illustrated as the 'most free'.(C) M. Philipsen
What is it, I wonder, that makes these 'educators' think that Russia is a country that isn't free? Could it be the human rights ''problem'' regarding homosexuality in Russia? Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and President Putin actually had a discussion on this matter. Rutte mentioned the laws that prohibit the propagation of homosexuality, which have been put into effect in several Russian regions. According to the Prime Minister this can lead to the limitation of rights for sexual minorities. The president Putin then pointed out that these laws are not being practised on a federal level, but on a regional level. It represents what the people have voted for in those regions. In contrast to the above, Putin reminded Rutte that there are organisations in the Netherlands that support pedophilia:Putin: "I can hardly imagine that a lawyer in Moscow would allow an organisation that supports pedophilia to function. In Holland, however, it is possible. There is such an organisation. I can also hardly imagine that there would be a party in the parliament of our country that would oppose participation of women in political matters. But here there is a party that does so. We just need to learn to listen better to each other, to respect one another, do you understand?
Indeed, just imagine, an organisation appearing in Russia, that supports pedophilia?! If that'd be the case, I think that in certain areas of the Russian Federation, people would get some guns..."
Exactly the reaction most ordinary people in 'the Free West' would have.I'm not quite sure whether I'd define a country that has allowed the establishment of pro-pedophilia organisations, or a political party that opposes the participation of women in politics, to be among the 'most free'. Free to do what, exactly? Abuse children? I'd rather define such a country as being under a regime that is lacking in basic moral fibre, and careless about taking its citizens' best interests at heart.
Meanwhile in Kiev, an LGBT parade has been violently interrupted by radicals supported by the Right Sector. As Kristina Rus states:
With one hand the Ukrainian government is defending the rights and safety of sexual minorities from the radicals, while with the other hand it is arming these same radicals with heavy artillery to murder the children of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, under the unwavering support of Western "beacons of democracy and justice".
This is the kind of regime that the Netherlands, along with its western allies, particularly its 'BFF', the U.S., supports. On May 2, 2014, the Media Relations Office of Canada wrote: "As friends, allies and partners for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Canada and the Netherlands will continue to work closely to support the Ukrainian people as they move towards elections to establish a peaceful government that respects their democratic rights." A fascist government that promotes the killing of innocent people, and doesn't appear to care much about sexual minorities either - which supposedly is one of the things that PM Rutte finds important - is the 'peaceful' government they've helped to establish in Ukraine.Regarding Russia devouring Ukraine, the truth is opposite to what Dutch children are being taught. As the situation escalated in Ukraine, with many thanks to the Free West in particular, Russia has tried numerous times to ease the situation and has sent many humanitarian convoys to those in need in the country, and continues to do so. In fact:
Since August 2014, Russia has sent over 25,000 tons of humanitarian aid '-- mainly food products, medicine and construction materials '-- to the people in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who have been suffering from a humanitarian crisis resulting from a military operation launched by Kiev authorities in Donbas in April, 2014.
This type of help appears to be seriously lacking from the West. On the contrary, they appear to be providing lethal arms to Ukraine in order to prolong the 'devouring of Ukraine'.Obviously, a lot more can be said about how the illustrations in this schoolbook are unfounded. They would be laughed about in most other contexts, but when schoolchildren are being primed to take them seriously, the situation is no laughing matter. It's pretty clear that there is only one reason why Russia is put in a bad light here: the mainstream media - on behalf of 'Uncle Sam' - says Russia is evil, and so it is, the message must resound everywhere, regardless of the truth. This serves as a good example of how this godless system the West has created poisons youths' minds, and illustrates how easily Big Lies can be disseminated throughout society.If I was a parent, I'd take a critical look at my children's study material and inform them of what truly goes on on this planet. The school system doesn't allow students to think critically, and rather spoon-feeds 'information' that is not backed up with facts.
Britain pulls out spies as Russia, China crack Snowden files: report
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:24
Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:55am EDTLONDON (Reuters) - Britain has pulled out agents from live operations in "hostile countries" after Russia and China cracked top-secret information contained in files leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Sunday Times reported.
Security service MI6, which operates overseas and is tasked with defending British interests, has removed agents from certain countries, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials at the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Office (interior ministry) and security services.
Snowden downloaded more than 1.7 million secret files from security agencies in the United States and Britain in 2013, and leaked details about mass surveillance of phone and internet communications.
The United States wants Snowden to stand trial after he leaked classified documents, fled the country and was eventually granted asylum in Moscow in 2013.
He went to Russia via Hong Kong, and although he claimed in 2013 that the encrypted files remained secure, Britain believed both Russia and China had cracked documents which contain details that could allow British and American spies to be identified, the newspaper said, citing officials.
However an official at Cameron's office was quoted as saying that there was "no evidence of anyone being harmed." A spokeswoman at Cameron's office declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
A Home Office source told the newspaper that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not grant Snowden asylum for nothing.
""His documents were encrypted but they weren't completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted," the source said.
A British intelligence source said Snowden had done "incalculable damage".
"In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to stop them being identified and killed," the source was quoted as saying.
British security agency GCHQ declined to comment, and representatives from other British intelligence services did not respond to requests for comment.
The Russian and Chinese governments were not immediately available for comment.
The revelations about the impact of Snowden on intelligence operations comes days after Britain's terrorism law watchdog said the rules governing the security services' abilities to spy on the public needed to be overhauled.
Conservative lawmaker and former minister Andrew Mitchell said the timing of the report was "no accident".
"There is a big debate going on," he told BBC radio. "We are going to have legislation bought back to parliament (...) about the way in which individual liberty and privacy is invaded in the interest of collective national security.
"That's a debate we certainly need to have."
Cameron has promised a swathe of new security measures, including more powers to monitor Briton's communications and online activity in what critics have dubbed a "snoopers' charter".
Britain's terrorism laws reviewer David Anderson said on Thursday the current system was "undemocratic, unnecessary and - in the long run - intolerable".
He called for new safeguards, including judges not ministers approving warrants for intrusive surveillance, and said there needed to be a compelling case for any extensions of powers.
(Reporting By Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Polina Devitt; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalind Russell)
Email Article>> Next Article: U.S. plans to store heavy arms in Baltic, Eastern Europe: source
U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe - NYTimes.com
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 14:28
RIGA, Latvia '-- In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.
The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia's annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.
It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the United States and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance's members closest to the Russian frontier.
After the expansion of NATO to include the Baltic nations in 2004, the United States and its allies avoided the permanent stationing of equipment or troops in the east as they sought varying forms of partnership with Russia.
''This is a very meaningful shift in policy,'' said James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral and the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. ''It provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies, although nothing is as good as troops stationed full-time on the ground, of course.''
The amount of equipment included in the planning is small compared with what Russia could bring to bear against the NATO nations on or near its borders, but it would serve as a credible sign of American commitment, acting as a deterrent the way that the Berlin Brigade did after the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961.
''It's like taking NATO back to the future,'' said Julianne Smith, a former defense and White House official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a vice president at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies.
The ''prepositioned'' stocks '-- to be stored on allied bases and enough to equip a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers '-- also would be similar to what the United States maintained in Kuwait for more than a decade after Iraq invaded it in 1990 and was expelled by American and allied forces early the next year.
The Pentagon's proposal still requires approval by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and the White House. And political hurdles remain, as the significance of the potential step has stirred concern among some NATO allies about Russia's reaction to a buildup of equipment.
''The U.S. military continues to review the best location to store these materials in consultation with our allies,'' said Col. Steven H. Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. ''At this time, we have made no decision about if or when to move to this equipment.''
Senior officials briefed on the proposals, who described the internal military planning on the condition of anonymity, said that they expected approval to come before the NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels this month.
The current proposal falls short of permanently assigning United States troops to the Baltics '-- something that senior officials of those countries recently requested in a letter to NATO. Even so, officials in those countries say they welcome the proposal to ship at least the equipment forward.
''We need the prepositioned equipment because if something happens, we'll need additional armaments, equipment and ammunition,'' Raimonds Vejonis, Latvia's minister of defense, said in an interview at his office here last week.
''If something happens, we can't wait days or weeks for more equipment,'' said Mr. Vejonis, who will become Latvia's president in July. ''We need to react immediately.''
Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University who has written extensively on Russia's military and security services, noted, ''Tanks on the ground, even if they haven't people in them, make for a significant marker.''
As the proposal stands now, a company's worth of equipment '-- enough for about 150 soldiers '-- would be stored in each of the three Baltic nations: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Enough for a company or possibly a battalion '-- about 750 soldiers '-- would be located in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary, they said.
American military specialists have conducted site surveys in the countries under consideration, and the Pentagon is working on estimates about the costs to upgrade railways, build new warehouses and equipment-cleaning facilities, and to replace other Soviet-era facilities to accommodate the heavy American weaponry. The weapons warehouses would be guarded by local or security contractors, and not by American military personnel, officials said.
Positioning the equipment forward saves the United States Army time, money and resources, and avoids having to ship the equipment back and forth to the United States each time an Army unit travels to Europe to train. A full brigade's worth of equipment '-- formally called the European Activity Set '-- would include about 1,200 vehicles, including some 250 M1-A2 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and armored howitzers, according to a senior military official.
The Army previously said after the invasion of Crimea last year that it would expand the amount of equipment it stored at the Grafenw¶hr training range in southeastern Germany and at other sites to a brigade from a battalion. An interim step would be prepositioning the additional weapons and vehicles in Germany ahead of decisions to move them farther east.
Army units '-- currently a battalion from the Third Infantry Division '-- now fly into the range on regular rotations, using the same equipment left in place. They train with the equipment there or take it to exercises elsewhere in Europe.
That, along with stepped-up air patrolling and training exercises on NATO's eastern flank, was among the initial measures approved by NATO's leaders at their summit meeting in Wales last year. The Pentagon's proposal reflects a realization that the tensions with Russia are unlikely to diminish soon.
''We have to transition from what was a series of temporary decisions made last year,'' said Heather A. Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The idea of moving prepositioned weapons and materials to the Baltics and Eastern Europe has been discussed before, but never carried out because it would be viewed by the Kremlin as a violation of the spirit of the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia that laid the foundation for cooperation.
In that agreement, NATO pledged that, ''in the current and foreseeable security environment,'' it would not seek ''additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces'' in the nations closer to Russia.
The agreement also says that ''NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries.'' Many in the alliance argue that Russia's increasingly aggressive actions around NATO's borders have made that pact effectively moot.
The Pentagon's proposal has gained new support because of fears among the eastern NATO allies that they could face a Russian threat.
''This is essentially about politics,'' Professor Galeotti said. ''This is about telling Russia that you're getting closer to a real red line.''
In an interview before a visit to Italy this week, Mr. Putin dismissed fears of any Russian attack on NATO.
''I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO,'' he told the newspaper Corriere Della Sera. ''I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people's fears with regard to Russia.''
An American Oligarch's Dirty Tale of Corruption | New Eastern Outlook
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:46
Rarely does the world get a true look inside the corrupt world of Western oligarchs and the brazen manipulations they use to enhance their fortunes at the expense of the public good. The following comes from correspondence of the Hungarian-born billionaire, now naturalized American speculator, George Soros. The hacker group CyberBerkut has published online letters allegedly written by Soros that reveal him not only as puppet master of the US-backed Ukraine regime. They also reveal his machinations with the US Government and the officials of the European Union in a scheme where, if he succeeds, he could win billions in the plunder of Ukraine assets. All, of course, would be at the expense of Ukrainian citizens and of EU taxpayers.
What the three hacked documents reveal is a degree of behind-the-scene manipulation of the most minute details of the Kiev regime by the New York billionaire.
In the longest memo, dated March 15, 2015 and marked ''Confidential'' Soros outlines a detailed map of actions for the Ukraine regime. Titled, ''A short and medium term comprehensive strategy for the new Ukraine,'' the memo from Soros calls for steps to ''restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.'' To do the restoring, Soros blithely notes that ''General Wesley Clark, Polish General Skrzypczak and a few specialists under the auspices of the Atlantic Council [emphasis added'--f.w.e.] will advise President Poroshenko how to restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.''
Soros also calls for supplying lethal arms to Ukraine and secretly training Ukrainian army personnel in Romania to avoid direct NATO presence in Ukraine. The Atlantic Council is a leading Washington pro-NATO think tank.
Notably, Wesley Clark is also a business associate of Soros in BNK Petroleum which does business in Poland.
Clark, some might recall, was the mentally-unstable NATO General in charge of the 1999 bombing of Serbia who ordered NATO soldiers to fire on Russian soldiers guarding the Pristina International Airport. The Russians were there as a part of an agreed joint NATO''Russia peacekeeping operation supposed to police Kosovo. The British Commander, General Mike Jackson refused Clark, retorting, ''I'm not going to start the Third World War for you.'' Now Clark apparently decided to come out of retirement for the chance to go at Russia directly.
Naked asset grab
In his March 2015 memo Soros further writes that Ukrainian President Poroshenko's ''first priority must be to regain control of financial markets,'' which he assures Poroshenko that Soros would be ready to assist in: ''I am ready to call Jack Lew of the US Treasury to sound him out about the swap agreement.''
He also calls on the EU to give Ukraine an annual aid sum of '¬11 billion via a special EU borrowing facility. Soros proposes in effect using the EU's ''AAA'' top credit rating to provide a risk insurance for investment into Ukraine.
Whose risk would the EU insure?
Soros details, ''I am prepared to invest up to '¬1 billion in Ukrainian businesses. This is likely to attract the interest of the investment community. As stated above, Ukraine must become an attractive investment destination.'' Not to leave any doubt, Soros continues, ''The investments will be for-profit but I will pledge to contribute the profits to my foundations. This should allay suspicions that I am advocating policies in search of personal gain. ''
For anyone familiar with the history of the Soros Open Society Foundations in Eastern Europe and around the world since the late 1980's, will know that his supposedly philanthropic ''democracy-building'' projects in Poland, Russia, or Ukraine in the 1990's allowed Soros the businessman to literally plunder the former communist countries using Harvard University's ''shock therapy'' messiah, and Soros associate, Jeffrey Sachs, to convince the post-Soviet governments to privatize and open to a ''free market'' at once, rather than gradually.
The example of Soros in Liberia is instructive for understanding the seemingly seamless interplay between Soros the shrewd businessman and Soros the philanthropist. In West Africa George Soros backed a former Open Society employee of his, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, giving her international publicity and through his influence, even arranging a Nobel Peace Prize for her in 2011, insuring her election as president. Before her presidency she had been well-indoctrinated into the Western free market game, studying economics at Harvard and working for the US-controlled World Bank in Washington and the Rockefeller Citibank in Nairobi. Before becoming Liberia's President, she worked for Soros directly as chair of his Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
Once in office, President Sirleaf opened the doors for Soros to take over major Liberian gold and base metals assets along with his partner, Nathaniel Rothschild. One of her first acts as President was to also invite the Pentagon's new Africa Command, AFRICOM, into Liberia whose purpose as a Liberian investigation revealed, was to ''protect George Soros and Rothschild mining operations in West Africa rather than champion stability and human rights.''
Naftogaz the target
The Soros memo makes clear he has his eyes on the Ukrainian state gas and energy monopoly, Naftogaz. He writes, ''The centerpiece of economic reforms will be the reorganization of Naftogaz and the introduction of market pricing for all forms of energy, replacing hidden subsidies'...''
In an earlier letter Soros wrote in December 2014 to both President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Soros openly called for his Shock Therapy: ''I want to appeal to you to unite behind the reformers in your government and give your wholehearted support to a radical, 'big bang' type of approach. That is to say, administrative controls would be removed and the economy would move to market prices rapidly rather than gradually'...Naftogaz needs to be reorganized with a big bang replacing the hidden subsidies'...''
Splitting Naftogaz into separate companies could allow Soros to take control of one of the new branches and essentially privatize its profits. He already suggested that he indirectly brought in US consulting company, McKinsey, to advise Naftogaz on the privatization ''big bang.''
The totality of what is revealed in the three hacked documents show that Soros is effectively the puppet-master pulling most of the strings in Kiev. Soros Foundation's Ukraine branch, International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) has been involved in Ukraine since 1989. His IRF doled out more than $100 million to Ukrainian NGOs two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, creating the preconditions for Ukraine's independence from Russia in 1991. Soros also admitted to financing the 2013-2014 Maidan Square protests that brought the current government into power.
Soros' foundations were also deeply involved in the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought the corrupt but pro-NATO Viktor Yushchenko into power with his American wife who had been in the US State Department. In 2004 just weeks after Soros' International Renaissance Foundation had succeeded in getting Viktor Yushchenko as President of Ukraine, Michael McFaul wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post. McFaul, a specialist in organizing color revolutions, who later became US Ambassador to Russia, revealed:
Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities '-- democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. '-- but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.
Soros shapes 'New Ukraine'
Today the CyberBerkut hacked papers show that Soros' IRF money is behind creation of a National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree from Poroshenko which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine's legislature. Soros writes, ''The framework for bringing the various branches of government together has also emerged. The National Reform Council (NRC) brings together the presidential administration, the cabinet of ministers, the Rada and its committees and civil society. The International Renaissance Foundation which is the Ukrainian branch of the Soros Foundations was the sole financial supporter of the NRC until now'...''
Soros' NRC in effect is the vehicle to allow the President to override parliamentary debate to push through ''reforms,'' with the declared first priority being privatization of Naftogaz and raising gas prices drastically to Ukrainian industry and households, something the bankrupt country can hardly afford.
In his letter to Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, Soros hints that he played a key role in selection of three key non-Ukrainian ministers'--Natalia Jaresko, an American ex- State Department official as Finance Minister; Aivras Abromavicius of Lithuania as Economics Minister, and a health minister from Georgia. Soros in his December 2014 letter, referring to his proposal for a ''big bank'' privatization of Naftogaz and price rise, states, ''You are fortunate to have appointed three 'new Ukrainian' ministers and several natives (sic) who are committed to this approach.''
Elsewhere Soros speaks about de facto creating the impression within the EU that the current government of Yatsenyuk is finally cleaning out the notorious corruption that has dominated every Kiev regime since 1991. Creating that temporary reform illusion, he remarks, will convince the EU to cough up the '¬11 billion annual investment insurance fund. His March 2015 paper says that, ''It is essential for the government to produce a visible demonstration (sic) during the next three months in order to change the widely prevailing image of Ukraine as an utterly corrupt country.'' That he states will open the EU to make the '¬11 billion insurance guarantee investment fund.
While saying that it is important to show Ukraine as a country that is not corrupt, Soros reveals he has little concern when transparency and proper procedures block his agenda. Talking about his proposals to reform Ukraine's constitution to enable privatizations and other Soros-friendly moves, he complains, ''The process has been slowed down by the insistence of the newly elected Rada on proper procedures and total transparency.''
Soros suggests that he intends to create this ''visible demonstration'' through his initiatives, such as using the Soros-funded National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine's legislature.
George Soros is also using his new European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank to lobby his Ukraine strategy, with his council members such as Alexander Graf Lambsdorff or Joschka Fischer or Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, not to mention former ECB head, Jean-Claude Trichet no doubt laying a subtle role.
George Soros, now 84, was born in Hungary as a Jew, George Sorosz. Soros once boasted in a TV interview that he posed during the war as a gentile with forged papers, assisting the Horthy government to seize property of other Hungarian Jews who were being shipped to the Nazi death camps. Soros told the TV moderator, ''There was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was''well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in markets''that if I weren't there''of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would.''
This is the same morality apparently behind Soros' activities in Ukraine today. It seems again to matter not to him that the Ukrainian government he helped bring to power in February 2014 US coup d'etat is riddled with explicit anti-semites and self-proclaimed neo-Nazis from the Svoboda Party and Pravy Sektor. George Soros is clearly a devotee of ''public-private-partnership.'' Only here the public gets fleeced to enrich private investors like Mr. Soros and friends. Cynically, Soros signs his Ukraine strategy memo, ''George Soros''A self-appointed advocate of the new Ukraine, March 12, 2015.''
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
The Great Seal Bug Story - Russian Eavesdropping - Leon Theremin
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:55
Eavesdropping Detection and Counterespionage Consulting enquiries are invited from corporate, government and professional security entities.For federal procurement purposes, U.S. Government regulations classify Murray Associates Counterespionage as a Small Business, Professional Consulting Firm.Registered Vendor:' National Security Agency (NSA ARC)' DoD - CCR' Exostar SourcePass' Jones Lang LaSalle' ISNetworld' Ariba
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(above) Replica of the Great Seal bug.On display at the National Security Agency (NSA)National Cryptologic Museum
In 1946, Soviet school children presented a two foot wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States to Ambassador Averell Harriman.
The Ambassador hung the seal in his office in Spaso House (Ambassador's residence). During George F. Kennan's ambassadorship in 1952, a secret technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM) inspection discovered that the seal contained a microphone and a resonant cavity which could be stimulated from an outside radio signal.
May 26, 1960Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.displays the Great Seal bug at the United Nations.
On May 26, 1960, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. unveiled the Great Seal Bug before the UN Security Council to counter Soviet denunciations of American U-2 espionage. The Soviets had presented a replica of the Great Seal of the United States as a gift to Ambassador Averell Harriman in 1946. The gift hung in the U.S. Embassy for many years, until in 1952, during George F. Kennan's ambassadorship, U.S. security personnel discovered the listening device embedded inside the Great Seal. Lodge's unveiling of this Great Seal before the Security Council in 1960 provided proof that the Soviets also spied on the Americans, and undercut a Soviet resolution before the Security Council denouncing the United States for its U-2 espionage missions. '' U.S. Department of State
A Brief History of Russian SpyingHenry J. Hyde, Republican of IllinoisRussia's notoriety for eavesdropping and espionage stretches back even to the czars. James Buchanan, U.S. minister in St. Petersburg during 1832-33 and later U.S. President, recounted that 'we are continually surrounded by spies both of high and low degree. You can scarcely hire a servant who is not a secret agent of the police.'
An 1850-53 successor, Neil S. Brown, reconfirmed that 'the opinion prevails that ministers are constantly subjected to a system of espionage, and that even their servants are made to disclose what passed in their households, their conversations, associations, etc.' Otto von Bismarck, who represented Prussia from 1859 to 1862, stated 'it was especially difficult to keep a cypher secure at St. Petersburg, because all the embassies were of necessity obliged to employ Russian servants and subordinates in their households, and it was easy for Russian police to procure agents among these.' The tradition intensified and became more sophisticated under the Bolsheviks and their successors. The wife of the Italian ambassador in Moscow during 1927-30 said: 'Spying on the part of the authorities was so common as not even to be thought of as spying.'
Nonetheless, Western laxity in the face of these dangers also has deep roots. A confidential 1940 memo to the White House from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover related the results of an investigation triggered by British complaints that shared intelligence was being leaked to the Soviets through the Moscow embassy. The memo revealed that single U.S. employees in Moscow frequented a prostitution ring linked to Soviet intelligence and that classified documents were handled improperly and may have been obtained by Soviet workers. The code room was found open at night, with safes unlocked and code books lying on the table.
By the 1930's, technical eavesdropping supplemented human espionage. Guests at Spaso House, the U.S. ambassador's residence, at one point were given cards welcoming and warning them: 'Every room is monitored by the KGB and all of the staff are employees of the KGB. We believe the garden also may be monitored. Your luggage may be searched two or three times a day. Nothing is ever stolen and they hardly disturb things.'
In 1952, the Soviet gave U.S. representatives a carved wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States. It hung prominently for years, at least part of the time in the ambassador's study, before a tiny microphone was found in the eagle. George Kennan's memoirs describe the event. In a theme now familiar, Kennan relates that Spaso House had been redecorated under Soviet supervision, without the presence of any American supervisors, giving them opportunity 'to perfect their wiring of the house.' 'The ordinary, standard devices for the prevention of electronic eavesdropping revealed nothing at all,' but technicians decided to check again, in case our prevention methods were out of date.
'Quivering with excitement, the technician extracted from the shattered depths of the seal a small device, not much larger than a pencil . . . capable of being activated by some sort of electronic ray from outside the building. When not activated, it was almost impossible to prevent. . . . It represented, for that day, a fantastically advanced bit of applied electronics.'
In displaying this equipment to the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. charged that more than 100 similar devices had been recovered in U.S. missions and residences in the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe. Jacob Beam, U.S. ambassador from 1969 to 1973, wrote that the 'ever-present pressures' or residing in the U.S.S.R. included 'physical surveillance, and constant bugging of conversations by various types of concealed devices.'
Such Soviet monitoring techniques have been regularly discovered and occasionally publicized during the postwar period. Incidents revealed during the 1980's alone are alarming in their scope and seriousness. In 1982, we verified indications that the new embassy building had been penetrated. In 1984, we found that an unsecured shipment of typewriters for the Moscow Embassy had been bugged and had been transmitting intelligence data for years. In 1985, newspapers revealed that the Soviets were using invisible 'spydust' to facilitate tracking and monitoring of US diplomats. In December 1986, Clayton Lonetree's confession revealed that the Soviets had recruited espionage agents among Marine Guards at the embassy. Recently, we found microphones that had been operating in the Leningrad consulate for many years.
Although Moscow had developed over centuries a reputation for severe counterintelligence risks, and although the postwar period was replete with examples of this, U.S. State Department and embassy personnel continued to act like babes in the KBG woods.The Congressional RecordHenry J. Hyde, Republican of Illinois.
Note: Do not rely on the frequency or wavelength figures. See *** below.
"Electronic eavesdropping is not new. But until the Watergate incident, the general public knew little about it. This innocence was first challenged in 1960, when Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. displayed the now infamous Seal bug to the United Nations as an example of Soviet spying on this country (USA). With this dramatic revelation, bugging first became almost a household word, and widespread public interest has persisted ever since.
The triumph of the Great Seal bug, which was hung over the desk of our Ambassador to Moscow, was its simplicity. It was simply a resonate chamber, with a flexible front wall that acted as a diaphragm, changing the dimensions of the chamber when sound waves struck it. It had no power pack of its own, no wires that could be discovered, no batteries to wear out. An ultra-high frequency signal beamed to it from a van parked near the building was reflected from the bug, after being modulated by sound waves from conversations striking the bug's diaphragm.
The Great Seal launched electronic snooping as no other incident could. The feeling in many circles seems to be that if such appalling tactics are employed by major world powers, lesser applications would hardly be as startling, if indeed not justifiable."
The Electronic Invasion, Robert Brown, 1967, 1975
The original Great Seal bug.
Q. What does "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys have in common with the Great Seal's bad vibrations?
A. They both contain a Lev Termen (aka Leon Theremin) invention.
If Thomas Edison had come of age in Lenin's Soviet Union, he might have led the double life of Lev Termen. Among Termen's myriad prescient brainstorms were the first electronic surveillance system, a gadget that opened doors at a hand signal and a 1920's version of television that broadcast 100 lines of resolution onto a five-foot-square screen - far superior to any competitor. For decades he worked in "mailboxes," top-secret Soviet research centers, on countless, still-undisclosed projects for the vast Soviet security apparatus. Those we know of include the listening device hidden in the Great Seal of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and exposed in 1960 at the United Nations by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
But in the West Termen became famous as Leon Theremin, who in 1919 created an instrument named after him, a radio-sized box that, with a carefully precise wave of the hands over its antennas, produced sounds that Depression-era listeners found uncanny, heavenly, astounding, unsettling or puerile. As composer Albert Glinsky rightly insists in his exhaustively researched and revealing biography, this frequently clumsy instrument was the first foray into the brave new world of electronic music. Essentially a radio-feedback device, it was impossibly sensitive, often screeched out of tune, required ridiculously deft technique while being advertised as the perfect instrument for the musically illiterate, and was plagued with problems from irreducible portamento (gliding) to unvarying tone and timbre. Still, its magic captured the imagination of millions and has since invaded pop culture, from the eerie theme for the 1930's radio show "The Green Hornet" to movies like "Spellbound."
The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" features Theremin-like sounds produced by an Electro-Theremin, played by its inventor, Dr. Paul Tanner.
The Electro-Theremin is heard often in Hollywood movies, songs and in TV theme music. Unlike its original inspiration, one plays the Electro-Theremin by physically touching it.
Electronic instruments, like Dr. Tanner's Electro-Theremin (Tannerin) and Robert Moog's many synthesizers, trace their roots to Leon Theremin.
Theremin's are still available (kit or assembled) from several sources.' Harrison Instruments' Moog Music' Theremin Kitsand, of course, eBay.
Theremin : Ether Music and EspionageAlbert Glinsky, Robert Moog, 2000
In the early 1950's, a Soviet listening device was found in the American embassy in Moscow. This came to the attention of the world when it was displayed at the United Nations in May, 1960. It was a cylindrical metal object that had been hidden inside the wooden carving of the Great Seal of the United States - the emblem on the wall over the ambassador's desk - which had been presented to him by the Soviets.
The Great Seal features a bald eagle, beneath whose beak the Soviets had drilled holes to allow sound to reach the device. At first, Western experts were baffled as to how the device, which became known as the Thing, worked, because it had no batteries or electrical circuits. Peter Wright of Britian's MI5 discovered the principle by which it operated. MI5 later produced a copy of the device (codename SATYR) for use by both British and American intelligence.
How the Thing worked.A radio beam was aimed at the antenna from a source outside the building. A sound that struck the diaphragm caused variations in the amount of space (and the capacitance) between it and the tuning post plate. These variations altered the charge on the antenna, creating modulations in the reflected radio beam. These were picked up and interpreted by the receiver.
From The EavesdroppersS. Dash, R.F. Schwartz, R.E. Knowlton, 1959 & reprinted 1971
The Great Seal bug was discovered in 1952, but its existence was not made public until 1960.
However... here is one interesting leak.
In 1958-9, Richard F. Schwartz (Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania) wrote the following in a book called The Eavesdroppers...
"... a microphone vibration measuring device has recently been proposed, in detail, by Stewart (Chandler Stewart, "Proposed Massless Remote Vibration Pickup," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, July 30, 1958, pp. 644-645)..."
"... Another report, allegedly published in a Washington paper although search failed to verify it, mentioned a device beamed into the Russian embassy to pick up conversation there. Supposedly, the beam was aimed at the centerpiece of the Russian emblem, but whether there was a transponder there, or whether this piece was just a convenient metallic surface, is not certain. At any rate, such reports lend credibility to the explanation given here."
Readers were cautioned in the book's Introduction that ...
"Because of our promise to conceal the source of information where concealment was requested, the factual report necessarily omits naming many names and places, and often disguises a factual situation so as to prevent an identification with the original occurrence, but preserves all the while the basic truth of the occurrence and its relevance to the sturdy."
In short: the 'Washington paper' report was probably fictitious; it was not the Russian embassy; not the Russian seal; and it definitely was a transponder (Why else mention it?). Word about The Thing was now out.
Information from confidential sources..."Initially, I can only add that Peter Wright, formerly of MI5 said in his book "Spycatcher" (pp. 20, 62, 116, 292) that he had interviewed German scientists who had been repatriated from Russia (where they had been taken at the end of WWII). He claimed that they said that they had developed the system for the Soviets. The basic problem back in those days was to develop a decent amount of clean RF energy up at UHF. In that development process the scientists produced small "target" devices to use as markers in testing their radar systems. It is my suspicion that someone who had used such devices decided to put a flexible wall in that device to make it into a microphone. That's just a guess however.
Also, I interviewed a little old man 10 or more years ago who I happened to meet at a trade show. The things he said convinced me that he had indeed had access to information on the discovery of that device and another device in Warsaw. Only someone with access to classified information would have known the details that he related. Unfortunately, I misplaced his card and have no recollection of his identity now (I'm afraid that that anecdote sounds like something that would appear in the National Enquirer).
Rumor was that the Brits had prevented the signal from the passive cavity resonator and alerted us to its presence. The little old man said that he had been carrying a audio amplifier from a thing called a Schmidt Kit*, around in the attic of Spaso House. The amplifier he used had a crystal diode in series with a short wire rod that acted as an antenna at the audio input connector. He couldn't say how he happened to be using that sort of rig at the time. (Possibly someone had told him to do so because that's what the Brits had done. That part of the story is still vague).
He said that when he got over the vicinity of the ambassador's office, he could hear the ambassador talking in the office below (through the amplifier). He then went below, knocked on the door of the ambassador's office and called the ambassador out into the hallway to tell him what he had observed. The ambassador understood and asked him to come in to carry on his inspection. The ambassador kept up a conversation on other matters during the process. The tech soon discovered that the signal was emanating from the great seal. He first suspected that there was a transmitter in the wall behind the seal so he lifted the seal from the nail from which it was suspended and put it down on the floor. The signal disappeared. He could see no evidence of an installation in the wall behind the place where the great seal had been.
He put the seal back up on the wall with no reappearance of the signal. Then, suddenly the signal came back on. He surmised that the device in the great seal might have been getting its operating power from the nail in the wall but knew that it was not possible because there was only one conducting path for electric current and that was the nail.
Ultimately, they discovered the device inside the seal itself and the little old man did not seem to know the details of that part of the work.
We got what was probably a copy that was fabricated by the Brits. I'm not sure about that, but it makes sense. It came to me through our R&D people who did interface with the Brits. Us ops-types weren't usually introduced to the Brits for operational reasons. We were friends but we didn't want to run across them in the field and raise the spectre of operational activity when we didn't want to.
I took the unit to a training facility where there was plenty of space and tested it with very good results.
Later, we built our own, more elaborate device and I installed two of them operationally. They sounded like plain old FM bugs when operating. Our problem was to keep from sterilizing people with the signal at the LP end. I suspect they are still in place in those targets."
(We sincerely appreciate this contribution from a first-hand source. Thank you for adding to the history of The Thing. ~Kevin)
P.S. * "So, uh... what's a Schmidt Kit?"TheSchmidt Kitconsisted of a radio receiver that would tune over a limited frequency range (centered on 70 MHz I think) and that had headphone output only (no speaker). There was also the audio amplifier with a phono jack for the input and headphone output. An induction coil for use against telephone lines (I think) and possibly a metal preventor were also included. There was an eavesdropping transmitter for VHF that was battery operated and I think one for operation from the a.c. mains. The one operating from mains power used a number of resistors to drop the mains voltage down to that needed for the filaments for the tubes. The resistors got warm enough to cook food on and the entire thing would burn up when put into a masonry wall, etc., which acted like an oven. (The mains power transmitter might have been sold separately.)
It all fit into a normal-sized briefcase (tan colored) and there was a simple combination lock on the latch.
It was manufactured up in the NY City area and marketed to law enforcement, etc.
All of the electronics used vacuum tubes as there were no transistors in those days.
Dear Mister Murray:
Your article on The Great Bug Storyis very interesting. I may be able to add to your knowledge of the device which in the post Soviet press received a big mention after Doctor Theremin's death. It is calledBuran, translated ''storm''.
I am a retired former US Army Sergeant who in my military profession was a radar repairman. In early 1955 I was assigned to a Signal Corps technical intelligence unit in Japan. It had 5-6 enlisted men and one junior officer. Its mission was to perform preliminary field analysis of captured enemy material (CEM) on largely communications related equipment and other activities tasked to us. We had a shop with test equipment and a photography facility. I was sent here because of a previous assignment in this kind of activity.
Later that year our primary mission was expanded to include technical support to various intelligence activities in the Far East Area. Three field engineers (Tech Reps) arrived and were given assignments which will not be discussed. In 1956 came a young solider, a PFC with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. In those years, there was no Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for Ph.D. as they and EEs got the same MOS 333 for electrical research assistant.
Meanwhile, a special requirement came from a customer for a certain kind of bug. I was assigned to Ph.D. as his assistant because of experience in radar and microwaves. He was tasked to design a bug based on Theremin's device. In a security secure location we were given a demonstration of how a room is swept for such bugs. We were given the opportunity to physically examine the test bug but were not permitted to disassemble it. It operated somewhere between 1.1 GHz and 1.5 GHz.
Back in the shop, Ph.D. started to calculate the design for his device. We obtained a 3 GHz Radar Echo box and an RF Signal Generator used in radar testing to see how the echo box would react when energized. One end was removed and covered with a metallic foil. Its reaction to sound showed as deflections on the meter, the activity we were looking for.
The design was completed and the component parts were fabricated in 2 or 3 secure machine shops, none of which would have had parts for a complete assembly. We did all the silver plating in our shop. The parts were assembled but we needed a receiver to test it. A chassis was purchased on the Japanese market on which one of the engineers designed a four miniature vacuum tube high gain audio amplifier. We found a crystal diode adapter used for radar testing which we modified to hold the rod antenna on one end. Inside the adapter was a 1N21B cartridge crystal normally used in crystal mixers (converters) at the front end of some radar receivers. The prevented output which was audio was coupled into the amplifier which was microphonic and had a high noise level. Our device was energized by the RF signal generator which gave a low power output even when turned to maximum output. Anyhow, the bug worked and the design considered successful. We found them to have a dominant mode and also to resonate at other frequencies which may have been useful. Also discussed was how much of the bug's emission was either AM or FM or did it do both. We were handicapped by time and the non availability of proper test equipment to carry the experiments further. All of it was very interesting.
The nickname Error Indicatorwas attached to the device. At some time in the 1970's or 80's I saw the nickname mentioned in a New York Times article on eavesdropping. I think it was described well in Spycatcher or another book where the diaphragm in the Soviet bug was damaged during disassembly as it was very thin and fragile. Our diaphragm was made from the thinnest copper sheet available and silver-plated. It is probable that the performance of our bug would have been improved with a very thin foil.
I think the exterior appearance of our bug was based on the one we examined at the sweeping demonstration which we thought was a copy of the Soviet piece. Ph.D. took note of a visible bit of the innards through the small vent holes and took it from there, although, we had no knowledge of what really was inside. Both bugs had small vent holes, about 1/8 inch, spaced equidistantly on radii on both ends. The Soviet bug shown on page 5 has very large vents.
The story says that more than a 100 similar bugs were found. Were they all alike? Were there improvements made to them? The bombardment of the Moscow embassy with microwaves leads me to believe that there were other bugs, or none, to cause harassment and fear in employees and to keep us guessing.
Our unit was disestablished in December 1957 and I went back into radar. There was much interesting and productive work done in our little shop. I think those in the community who were our customers didn't want to see us shut down. In 1963 I was returned to the intelligence community in Europe where I was a Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems Analyst, an impressive title. In retired in 1967 after twenty years of service. I hope you found my story interesting.
(I did... extremely interesting. Thank you. ~Kevin)
From a trusted source who has requested anonymity - added 2/15/10
"This device is simple in concept but very complex in construction. A remote transmitter sends a strong radio frequency signal aimed at the bug, with a directional antenna if possible. A separate antenna is used to receive the signal which is reflected from the bug -- and everything else around it. The trick here is to sense the reflectance variations caused by the bug and ignore other variations such as heating systems rattling ducts, etc. In order to make the bug work, its antenna needed to be resonant near the incoming frequency with it's resonant frequency changed by the movement of a diaphragm. The diaphragm is of course moved by sound pressure.
The standard quarter wave antenna length explanation is probably not correct since the bug antenna did not appear to be connected to anything like a ground plane. More likely it was a half wavelength at the excitation frequency. To make all of this work, the resonant cavity under the diaphragm and bug antenna had to be carefully matched. Diaphragm position had to be close to the the post for good sensitivity but not so close that it would touch the post as components aged.
One last problem in the operation was the excitation signal. It didn't take a genius to discover the transmitted signal and subsequently the reflected signal. It would be important in operation of the bugging system to turn it off when a sweep team was seen in the area. The rumor is that this device was detected as the sweep technician dialed his receiver past the excitation frequency and heard voices.
This sort of bugs is not likely to be found in corporate or residential eavesdropping situations. Lax access control, easily installed computer keystroke recorders, high tech baby monitors and cordless phones that broadcast conversations make the work of a modern day Theremin unnecessary."
*** Our source brings up several interesting points:' the antenna's wavelength,' the size of the cavity,' and the reason this type of bug is not found in common use.
It appears the exploded view of The Thing (above) is mistaken. The antenna length was probably a rough guess, based on the original photo. The frequency of operation was likely calculated based on this guess, using a 1/4 wavelength formula.
As our source perceptively pointed out, the figures do not make sense.
Using the original photo, the antenna length appears to be closer to 8.5 inches. That coupled with a frequency of operation (1.1-1.5 GHz) provided (above) by our retired U.S. Army Sergeant technician who actually examined The Thing, calculates the antenna as being... one full wavelength!
This makes better sense, as so does the physical size of the resonate cavity, now.
In addition to the reasons our source lists for this type of bug falling out of favor, there is one more... A very powerful microwave radio signal is required to make this bug work. (You may remember hearing about the embassies in Moscow being bombarded by microwave signals.) One can get away with this unchallenged, in a closed society, if you are the government, and no one knows the reason for the signals. Today, in most of the world, a powerful microwave signal like this would be instantly discovered, tracked to the source and challenged.
The Thing was a good thing while it lasted, however, we can not become complacent. This technique still has value when used in a lower power and highly focused manner. The technique also works at other frequencies, like light (laser beam eavesdropping). ~Kevin
From a source who has requested anonymity - added 4/29/12I am a former Foreign Service Officer.
I have a certain amount of first hand, and a larger amount of 2nd hand knowledge about the thing, having worked for a couple of years in the early 1960s in the organization that was responsible for dealing with it and all similar problems - the division of technical services of the office of security of the department of state: abbreviated as O:SY/T.
I knew the tech who actually discovered the thing (slightly), and heard from him in detail exactly how he found it. Some of your published accounts are a little inaccurate, but not essentially so.
It was found using a basically untuned crystal video receiver, so we did not know what the activating frequency was. Much more sophisticated tech surveillance countermeasures receivers came into use later.
In the early 1960s the device and the great seal were both on display in SY's little conference room - the room used for briefing people on technical surveillance countermeasures problems, and I got to handle and inspect them both many times. I also studied the various reports on how it functioned, prepared by several US Government labs and contractors. I also got to see and study various US government versions and developments from the thing.
The State Departments overseas facilities were very high priority and highly vulnerable targets for Soviet-bloc intelligence, so we got to experience, so to speak, many more and much more interesting tech surveillance attacks than other parts of the US government. The recognition of this fact led to the launching of a very serious science-based tech surveillance countermeasures effort.
We did get launched, to a significant extent, by the Brits, but that is more a 1950s than a 1960s story.
The bald gent shown in your photo with Mr. Reilly is Bud Hill, the then director of SY/T, my boss in the early 1960s. A first-rate scientist, although he tended to depreciate that and describe himself as being 'only an electrical engineer'. His hiring by the Department of State marked the beginning of a serious American scientific response to tech surveillance countermeasures.
The great seal device was inherently resonate at multiples of a particular frequency, and this gave rise to a certain amount of confusion (in some places) about the frequency of the signal that activated it. As a consequence of its extreme simplicity it also inherently created both AM and FM modulation, so there was again some confusion about the character of the surveillance receiver. It was probably a straightforward zero-IF receiver that delivered the amplitude modulation of the re-emitted signal as audio output.
A drawing and description of the device was published in Scientific American sometime in the 1960s or early 1970s - in connection, if I recall correctly, with the amateur scientist column. I was, to say the least, surprised to see it. It was very accurate. (left)
The carved space within the seal indicated that the device found was a later generation device - the earlier one(s) had been bigger. And the Soviets much have changed them out from time to time, as improvements were made.
Our inspect-able transparent room-within-a-room acoustically secure conference rooms were one response to tech surveillance problems. I was in charge of that program for a while. They have been widely discussed elsewhere - and were shown off by the Iranians, so they are not so secret, and I have nothing to add about them.
O:SY/T had several early significant successes, due to a combination of new science, more scientifically trained people, greater cooperation from other agencies, etc..
During my service in O:SY/T we pulled a huge wired microphone array out of the embassy in Moscow. 57 of them, if I recall. The event was described in the NY Times at some length.
Someone should do a complete and science-based account of "The Moscow Signal"; a technical surveillance story that continued through the 1960s and after. It is, I think, a much more interesting story than that of the Great Seal device, and it very likely had its origins in the same organization. They are both 'spy beam' stories.
You have not mentioned many of the individuals who were important to the US scientific response to soviet tech surveillance, but I do not feel able to or entitled to present the fuller story. Other than to note that I feel that the driving intellectual force behind this was the Department of State, and not the CIA or some part of the Department of Defense. I have noted a tendency by some to rewrite history about this.
You might want to follow up on the events connected to the departure of Otto Otepka. His presence in the Department of State as a spy for the McCarthy people in congress - after McCarthy's departure - did the Department of State and especially its Office of Security great harm. The 'events' (see the NY Times) resulted in both Reiley's and Hill's forced departures.
My last acts in that unfortunate drama were to urge, in a meeting with associates from CIA, NSA and other agencies, that some attempt be made to shift some of SY/T's TEMPEST-related activities out of State and more into the direct management of my organization's natural organizational competitors - the CIA...
I have just stumbled over the Scientific American article that I mentioned.
The description and drawing in Scientific American appeared in March 1968 at pages 132-133. The drawing is very accurate, but is not accompanied by much description. For example, it shows, but not mention, that the pedestal face adjacent to the diaphragm is not smooth. It had, if I recall, machined groves and machined radial lines, presumably to reduce any air cushion effect as the diaphragm vibrated.
The pedestal and diaphragm together made up a sort of air-variable capacitor, which altered the resonant behavior of the cavity.
I do not recall there being any vent holes designed to avoid an air-cushion effect; I question any description that says that their were some.
The story of how we couldn't figure it out, and that we relied on the Brits to tell us how it worked is, to say the least, an exaggeration.
It was studied by some of our premier scientific establishments, and well understood by them. If I recall correctly, The Navel Research Lab (a not sufficiently known body), Bell Labs, and a special commission put together by the National Academy of Science all looked at it - I remember being quite impressed by some of the studies. They addressed both the device itself and some very significant improvements that could be made to it.
Some research turned up quite old French and German patents and other publications that could have inspired the device, The French had a communication system for taxicabs that operated on a somewhat similar principle - a super-regenerative transponder that only 'came on' (emitted a modulated signal) when the central station sent out a query signal that pushed the local oscillator into action.
Our aim was to greatly increase the Q, so that it would not respond to any old source, but only to one of a specific frequency. Increasing the Q also increased the modulation, effectively increasing the maximum distance between the power source and the device.
The diaphragm excursion was, if I recall correctly, very small. The diaphragm was quite delicate. I think that a military lab that played around with it found that out to their sorrow.
Later models had a much more complex interior structure - one had a helical member, instead of a post - supporting the non-moving plate of the 'variable capacitor'. Probably part of the effort to increase the Q. I recall seeing US versions with dipole rather than monopole antennas. And I know that the Germans also worked up advanced versions of their own.
Battery operated bugs that could be switched on and off remotely were and are pretty common.
Great Seal-like devices were eventually entirely superseded (at least in high-threat environments) by devices that were powered by radiate energy that stored that energy and that could be switched on and off without regard to whether the power source was active or not.
But more primitive Great-Seal like devices devices that did not store energy continued to be used by major powers in third world countries for years.
The development of systems that stored radiated power and that could be switched on and off remotely, and other information, tended to make some of us believe that the Moscow Signal was not a radio-biological weapon at all, but rather part of an evolved bugging system.
All this soon led to devices that drew their power from strong rf fields that were 'naturally present', like those arising from local TV transmitting stations, and that could also be switched on and off remotely - by very subtle and hard to detect signals.
As detection systems improved, the bugs also evolved, returning signals with modulation schemes (eg spread spectrum) designed to avoid quick and easy discovery - at least by the counter-surveillance receivers of the day.
The evolution was intended, of course, to eliminate the ability to detect Great-seal type devices by simply illuminating the bugged area with a swept frequency transmitter and looking for an AM or FM modulated return of the frequency being used. I notice that even today some venders of bug-detection systems have never progressed past this point.
Later on, devices that stored collected data and delivered it in well-hidden bursts, on command, came into use.
I know of nothing that indicates that the Soviets were using that technology for these purposes in the early 1960s. The recording devices in use back then were simply too bulky, power-consuming and unreliable. Consider the failures of such devices in the early era of space satellites and undersea and underground cable tapping ventures.
I believe that everything that I have mentioned here is both long-since public knowledge, if not actually declassified, as well as being very old technology - as I have not been in the business in any way for almost fifty (!) years.
Thank you for sharing your most interesting and illuminating contribution to the history of The Great Seal Bug. ~Kevin
The Great Seal Bug - Part II
The Great Seal Bug - Part III
Please help document this historic bug in greater detail.
If you have any knowledge, personal recollections, photographs, or know the current whereabouts of the original Great Seal or its bug, please contact me.
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The Thing (listening device) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:55
The Thing, also known as the Great Seal bug, was one of the first covert listening devices (or "bugs") to use passive techniques to transmit an audio signal. Because it was passive, being energized and activated by electromagnetic energy from an outside source, it is considered a predecessor of RFID technology.
Operating principlesEditThe Thing was designed by L(C)on Theremin, who also made the eponymous theremin. It consisted of a tiny capacitive membrane connected to a small quarter-wavelengthantenna; it had no power supply or active electronic components. The device, a passive cavity resonator, became active only when a radio signal of the correct frequency was sent to the device from an external transmitter. Sound waves caused the membrane to vibrate, which varied the capacitance "seen" by the antenna, which in turn modulated the radio waves that struck and were re-transmitted by the Thing. A receiver demodulated the signal so that sound picked up by the microphone could be heard, just as an ordinary radio receiver demodulates radio signals and outputs sound.
Theremin's design made the listening device very difficult to detect, because it was very small, had no power supply or active electronic components, and did not radiate any signal unless it was actively being irradiated remotely. These same design features, along with the overall simplicity of the device, made it very reliable and gave it a potentially unlimited operational life.
The principle of a resonant cavity microphone was patented by Winfield R. Koch of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1941. In US patent 2,238,117 he describes the principle of a sound-modulated resonant cavity. High-frequency energy is inductively coupled to the cavity. The resonant frequency is varied by the change in capacitance resulting from the displacement of the acoustic diaphragm.
Technical detailsEditThe device consisted of a 9-inch (22.86 cm) long monopole antenna (quarter-wave for 330 Megahertz(MHz) frequencies, but able to also act as half-wave or full-wave, the accounts differ) - a straight rod, led through an insulating bushing into a cavity, where it was terminated with a round disc that formed one plate of a capacitor. The cavity was a high-Q round silver-plated copper "can", with the internal diameter of 0.775 in (19.7 mm) and about 11/16 in (17.5 mm) long, with inductance of about 10 nanohenry. Its front side was closed with a very thin (3 mil, or 75 micrometers) and fragile conductive membrane. In the middle of the cavity was a mushroom-shaped flat-faced tuning post, with its top adjustable to make it possible to set the membrane-post distance; the membrane and the post formed a variable capacitor acting as a condenser microphone and providing amplitude modulation (AM), with parasitic frequency modulation (FM) for the re-radiated signal. The post had machined grooves and radial lines into its face, probably to provide channels for air flow to reduce pneumatic damping of the membrane. The antenna was capacitively coupled to the post via its disc-shaped end. The total weight of the unit, including the antenna, was 1.1 ounce (31 grams).
The length of the antenna and the dimensions of the cavity were engineered in order to make the re-broadcast signal a higher harmonic of the illuminating frequency. (Note that the transmitting frequency is higher than the illuminating one.)
The original device was located with the can under the beak of the eagle on the Great Seal presented to W. Averell Harriman (see below); accounts differ on whether holes were drilled into the beak to allow sound waves to reach the membrane. Other sources say the wood behind the beak was undrilled but thin enough to pass the sound, or that the hollowed space acted like a soundboard to concentrate the sound from the room onto the microphone.
The illuminating frequency used by the Soviets is said to be 330 MHz.
The Thing was discovered in a stroke of luck by a technician with an untuned video receiver '-- a wideband receiver with a simple diode detector/demodulator, similar to some field strength meters. It was then located during a technical surveillance counter-measures "sweep" of the Ambassador's office, using a signal generator and a receiver in a setup that generates audio feedback ("howl") if the sound from the room is transmitted on a given frequency; the generator was tuned to 1800 MHz. The device was first assumed to operate on this frequency, but tests showed it was unstable and insensitive. Peter Wright, a British scientist, then got the Thing operating reliably at 800 MHz.
The membrane of the Thing was extremely thin, and was damaged during handling by the Americans; Wright had to replace it. Wright's examination led to development of a similar British system codenamed SATYR, used throughout the 1950s by the British, Americans, Canadians and Australians.
The simplicity of the device caused some initial confusion during its analysis; the antenna and resonator had several resonant frequencies in addition to its main one, and the modulation was partially both amplitude modulated and frequency modulated. The team also lost some time on an assumption that the distance between the membrane and the tuning post needed to be increased to increase resonance.
There were later models of the device, some with more complex internal structure (the center post under the membrane attached to a helix, probably to increase Q), and some American models with dipole antennas. Maximizing the Q-factor was one of the engineering priorities, as this allowed higher selectivity to the illuminating signal frequency, and therefore higher operating distance and also higher acoustic sensitivity.
United NationsEditOn the fourth day of meetings in the United Nations Security Council, convened by the Soviet Union over the 1960 U-2 incident where a U.S. spy plane had entered their territory and been shot down, the U.S. ambassador showed off the bugging device in the Great Seal to illustrate that spying incidents between the two nations were mutual and to allege that Nikita Khrushchev had magnified this particular incident under discussion out of all proportion as a pretext to abort the 1960 Paris Summit.
^Hacking Exposed Linux: Linux Security Secrets & Solutions (third ed.). McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. 2008. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-07-226257-5. ^Glinsky, Albert, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 2000^US Patent 2238117, Koch, Winfield R, "Ultra high frequency modulator", published 1941-04-15, assigned to Radio Corporation of America(RCA). Retrieved 24 September 2013. "US 2238117 A" Google Patent Search^Brown(?), Robert. M. (1967). "Electronic Eavesdroping". Electronics World (Ziff-Davis Publishing Company). Volume 77 (Issue3-6): p. 23. Retrieved 24 September 2013. ^"Design How-To: Eavesdropping using microwaves - addendum". EE Times (eetimes.com). United Business Media. 12 November 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2013. ^Pursglove, S. David (1966). "Great Seal Bug". Electronic Design (Hayden Publishing Company). Volume 14 (Issues 14-17): p.35. Retrieved 24 September 2013. ^ abMurray, Kevin. "THE GREAT SEAL BUG STORY". Retrieved 2007-03-24. ^George F. Kennan, Memoirs, 1950-1963, Volume II (Little, Brown & Co., 1972), pp. 155, 156^Davis, Henry. "Eavesdropping using microwaves - addendum". Retrieved 2007-03-24. ^United Nations Security CouncilVerbatim Report860. S/PV/860 page 15. 26 May 1960. Retrieved 2008-08-29.ReferencesEditExternal linksEdit
SAG-AFTRA Threatening To Sue 'An Open Secret' Director Amy Berg | Deadline
Mon, 08 Jun 2015 21:57
Leaders of SAG-AFTRA tried to sanitize director Amy Berg's explosive documentary about the sexual abuse of child actors in Hollywood, threatening to sue her if she didn't remove all references to the union from An Open Secret, which opens in a platform release in three cities beginning today. It may be the first time a Hollywood union has ever threatened to take legal action against a filmmaker over the content of a film.
''This firm is litigation counsel to SAG-AFTRA,'' wrote attorney Douglas Mirell, in a letter to Berg and the film's producers, dated December 3, 2014. ''Demand is hereby made,'' the letter states, that ''no'...references to SAG, to SAG-AFTRA, or to any SAG-AFTRA committees be included in any portions of this documentary.'' Mirell's letter was copied to David White, the guild's national executive director; Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union's chief operating officer and general counsel; and Pamela Greenwalt, the guild's chief communications and marketing officer, who all knew about its contents.
The guild leaders, through their outside litigation counsel, demanded that Berg delete all references in the film to the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee. They also wanted Berg to remove all references to one of her main target's longtime connection to that committee. And they demanded that Berg cut a large portion of her interview with the co-founder of BizParentz, the organization that has done more than any other to raise awareness of child abuse in Hollywood. They even demanded that Berg cut a scene showing the front of the union's building and the large ''SAG-AFTRA One Union'' logo emblazoned on it.
But Berg stood her ground. She refused to cut SAG-AFTRA out of her film, and the union did not carry out its threat to sue. At least not yet. And now it claims that it didn't threaten to sue. The correspondence, obtained by Deadline, says otherwise.
Related'An Open Secret's Difficult Road To Distribution
The relationship between Berg and the union had been rocky from the start. She and the film's producers, Matthew Valentinas and Gabe Hoffman, had been looking into the sexual abuse of child actors since 2011 and had uncovered some disturbing information about Michael Harrah, a manager of child actors and a former child actor himself who'd been a longtime member of the SAG Young Performers Committee, which he co-founded in 1975 and chaired from 2001-2003.
Berg contacted SAG-AFTRA to set up an interview with Harrah, but the guild offered two other committee reps instead '' actress Elizabeth Sarah McLaughlin, the chair of the committee, and Leslie Slomka, the committee's staff liaison. But Berg held firm; she wanted Harrah. It was going to be an ambush.
''Ms. Berg's colleagues were less than forthcoming and forthright when asked the reasons why they wanted to interview Mr. Harrah,'' Mirell later wrote in an email to Alonzo Wickers IV, the attorney for Berg's Disarming Films. ''While prevaricating about the content and topics of their desired interview, Ms. Berg's colleagues ultimately refused SAG-AFTRA's offer to interview either of these two women; instead, they insisted upon interviewing only Mr. Harrah. Once this adamant insistence upon speaking only with Mr. Harrah became clear, SAG-AFTRA's role was limited merely to coordinating the logistics of that interview.''
A guild rep was on hand during the interview, and when it was over, so was Harrah's long service to the guild. Berg sat down with Harrah for the interview at the union's offices in Hollywood on March 26, 2014. He abruptly resigned from the committee a few days later. ''Mr. Harrah voluntarily resigned as a member of the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee within a matter of days following the interview,'' Mirell told Wickers. ''No public statement by SAG-AFTRA accompanied Mr. Harrah's voluntary resignation from that committee.''
Harrah, the film reveals, had questionable relations with some of the child actors he once represented; some of them even lived with him at his home. During the interview, Berg asked him if he is ''attracted to young boys.''
''Not particularly, no,'' he replied.
Joey Coleman, a former child actor who was once Harrah's client, presents evidence in the film that appears to contradict that '' a taped telephone conversation in which Harrah acknowledges that he'd made ''unwanted'' advances towards him when Coleman was a kid.
''I didn't like when you tried to have me sleep in your bed and touch me and everything,'' Coleman told Harrah on the phone. ''I hated that.''
''Yeah, and that was something unwanted I shouldn't have done,'' Harrah replied, unaware that he was being taped. ''And there's no way you can undo that. But it certainly is something I shouldn't have done.''
Harrah told the filmmakers, however, that he doesn't remember having ever done anything improper with Coleman. ''I don't know what Joey is remembering, but I don't remember anything that would have caused him to feel that way,'' he says in the film. ''All I can say is that as a result of the situation he was in, not only with me but with others, that that was how he perceived something. It's certainly wasn't anything I intended. And that was going to be my response to it.''
Harrah, who has never been charged with any crimes against children, told Deadline that he hasn't seen the film, but said that ''the allegations, as I understand them, are not true.''
Asked about his taped phone conversation with Coleman, in which he appears to acknowledge having done ''something unwanted,'' Harrah said: ''I did not acknowledge that. I didn't say what they claim I said.''
Asked if he ever had sexual contact with a minor, he told Deadline: ''It's just not something I think I should respond to. If I deny it, people are going to say, 'Of course he would say that.' No matter what you say, this is an emotional question and people make up their minds without listening to the facts. No matter what I say, it won't sound right. There's no way to answer 'When did you stop beating your wife?' I am an easy target. I'm a single man, I've never been married, and I work with children. I do not believe that I have ever harmed anyone.''
In the film, Harrah says that he had been molested when he was a child actor, but was vague about the details. ''I suppose somebody did, but I would be hard-pressed to remember anything specific,'' he said. ''But it was not uncommon, let's put it that way.''
A former child actor who served for many years with Harrah on the Young Performers Committee said he was surprised by the allegations against Harrah. ''It doesn't fit with the Michael Harrah I know,'' he said. ''No one ever came forward to me and said that Michael was trouble. He's an unusual person, to say the least, but his contributions to the welfare of children were genuine. He counseled many young people.''
One of Harrah's other former clients, a former child actor who is identified in the film only as James G., recounts how Harrah had invited him to come live at his home while trying to break into show business. ''You know,'' he says in the film, ''being up sometimes really early to go to these auditions and stuff, that's when Michael Harrah approached me and said, 'Well, you can come stay at my house with the other guys that are there.' He had three other guys stayin' in the house that were his clients.'' The kids' ages, he said, were ''from 10-11, to 16-17, but I still thought it was rather odd, you know, that someone would let their 10-year-old son move in with, at the time I think, a mid-50s-year-old man.''
''Many of the kids that I worked with,'' Harrah says in the film, ''couldn't have even been able to take advantage of being in the industry had they had to have their families move here with them.'' Even so, he said, ''I do see the possibility that things can be misinterpreted, and I try to be very aware of that. No matter how closely you're working with someone, and you do work closely with clients in these situations, there still has to be that professional line in there where you say, 'We're not stepping over this.' ''
Harrah told Deadline that there are currently young people ''in their 20s'' living with him. Asked if 11-year-old kids had ever lived with him, he said: ''There have been kids that come and go.''
In the film, he also attempts to explain how child molesters are sometimes misunderstood. ''So much of what goes on in these situations happen almost by accident,'' he said. ''You get the idea that someone out there was a child predator and they were preying on children and everything they did was to steer the child into this. A lot of the ones that I at least was aware of, they just sort of fell into it.'' And this is the advice he says he's given to child actors who have been molested: ''Where I've had the opportunity to talk to someone about it and said, 'Look, this is not a terrible thing unless you think it is. It's just something that happens to you in your life.' ''
Berg also got Harrah to admit that he had not complied with California's Child Performers Protection Act, which requires criminal background checks on managers, publicists and photographers who have unsupervised access to young performers.
''I have to confess that I haven't signed up yet myself and I should go and do that,'' he told Berg. ''I don't know. Is it going to be effective? We have yet to see. There's nobody running around saying to me, 'Have you signed up yet? Why not?' '' Indeed, that's the main problem with the well-intentioned law '' no one is enforcing it.
Asked if he'd signed up yet, he told Deadline: ''I haven't. I suppose I should. I don't know. The great thing about laws is that passing them is easy; doing something about them is another story.''
A few weeks after she interviewed Harrah, Berg spoke with SAG-AFTRA's Greenwalt. She wanted to know what, if anything, the guild planned to do about the troubling allegations she'd uncovered. Greenwalt followed up with an email, telling Berg that the guild is ''not a law enforcement organization, nor do we have the power to investigate crimes,'' and telling her that she should contact the proper authorities.
''I write to respond to the question you raised during our conversation yesterday,'' Greenwalt wrote. ''Although you did not tell us when you originally requested that we assist you in contacting one of our members for an interview, you apparently had information about alleged wrongdoing relating to a specific individual whom you eventually interviewed. In our conversation yesterday, you implied that unspecified inappropriate acts may have been committed by this individual with several unidentified child actors. If this is true, SAG-AFTRA would share the horror and outrage that any legitimate institution in our industry would have against such criminal conduct. At this point, you have presented no information or evidence of such wrongdoing. If you have such information or evidence, we strongly urge you to take it immediately to the appropriate law enforcement authorities so that they can investigate promptly and pursue the matter vigorously and prosecute, as appropriate, to the greatest extent the law allows. In our view, delaying reporting of meaningful, substantial information in the interest of furthering documentary production is an unwarranted risk to any children involved.''
Greenwalt told her that ''as a labor union, SAG-AFTRA negotiates and enforces collective bargaining agreements on behalf of our members and advocates for legislation and administrative policies benefitting the industry and our members. This has historically included particular efforts to protect young performers' financial security and ensure their safety on set.'' She assured her, however, that if the police turn up any evidence ''that SAG-AFTRA believes can be incorporated in our efforts to protect our members in their work environment, be assured that we will act on such.'' The guild, however, has no jurisdiction over child actors outside the workplace, where the vast majority of reported cases of sexual abuse of child actors has occurred.
''SAG would prefer an extremely narrow definition of the term 'workplace,' '' the producers said in a statement to Deadline. ''Being at the home of a member of their Young Performers Committee, a founding member, prominent person, for work purposes, for lessons, or on their way to an audition or something, is a more realistic definition of the term.''
Berg told that she called the cops on Harrah, but there is no record of it. ''First, I would like to assure you that we immediately brought all appropriate information to the attention of law enforcement when it originally became available to us,'' she told Greenwalt last June.
Harrah told Deadline that he has not been contacted by the police. Asked if the LAPD had received any complaints about Harrah, Rose Gaeta, a detective with the LAPD's sexually exploited child unit, told Deadline: ''We don't have anything on file that anything has ever been reported to the Los Angeles Police Department.''
In her letter to Greenwalt, Berg said: ''I understand that SAG-AFTRA is not a law enforcement agency and lacks the power to investigate. It is heartening that SAG-AFTRA is committed to act on any evidence revealed in the course of such an investigation. While SAG-AFTRA is certainly limited in its ability to investigate criminal acts, I believe it is still quite reasonable to ask whether SAG-AFTRA plans to pursue any sort of internal investigation or review of the actions performed by Mr. Harrah in his official capacity.''
Berg told her that ''An investigation or review would seem appropriate given that the allegations relate to actions taken against young performers. Mr. Harrah's work for SAG-AFTRA has encompassed policy and regulatory issues directly concerning the well being of young performers. Specifically, there has been an allegation that during an official meeting, while serving as vice-chair of the Young Performers Committee, Mr. Harrah acted to prevent SAG-AFTRA resources from being used to aid a police investigation into allegations of child abuse occurring within the entertainment industry.''
Asked if he'd ever lobbied to keep the union from spending resources to assist to assist such a police investigation, Harrah told Deadline: ''I don't recall anything specific.''
Berg, who is on a mission to force the industry to crack down on the abuse of child actors, urged the union to get more involved. ''I would greatly appreciate hearing how SAG-AFTRA plans to act moving forward,'' she told Greenwalt. ''Additionally, I would like to immediately begin a conversation about the subject of young performers' welfare in general and the steps that SAG-AFTRA can take to help solidify their safety. While supervision is available on set, unfortunately, professional relationships and trust can be exploited outside of a well-supervised and strictly professional context. As the premier professional organization advocating for and educating young performers about their right to a safe working environment, what does SAG-AFTRA do to ensure its youngest members are educated about the issues and risks they can face, even while pursuing their career off of a set, to ensure the safety they deserve?''
Greenwalt replied on September 18, telling Berg that the guild had yet to receive any information from her about Harrah's alleged misconduct '' nor a phone call from the police '' and that the guild was not about to embark on a ''witch hunt.''
''We are still waiting for your response to our direct request to provide us with any evidence or information you may have that supports your claim of wrongdoing,'' she wrote. ''To date, we have not received supporting evidence. With such evidence, SAG-AFTRA will take all appropriate steps available to us to investigate and/or to remedy a situation of possible harm facing a young performer, including cooperating with the appropriate authorities investigating the matter. We will not, however, embark on an unfounded witch hunt based on rumor and innuendo. We can only consider taking action if we have evidence or information that supports the allegation. We therefore reiterate our request for any evidence or additional information you may have that supports your allegation and we continue to urge you to go immediately to law enforcement and deliver to them any and all evidence at your disposal so that an appropriate investigation can be undertaken right away. Please note that it is our understanding that in order to avoid interfering with any active law enforcement investigation(s), internal investigations should be coordinated with law enforcement. As mentioned, SAG-AFTRA has not been contacted by any law enforcement agency relating to this matter. Therefore, we would appreciate you advising us of the law enforcement agency and/or individual you have contacted so we can reach out to them before taking additional action.''
In a statement to deadline, Greenwalt said: ''When this production was first brought to our attention, we specifically requested that the producer provide to us any information she had about potential bad acts and urged her to immediately take her information to law enforcement. She failed to present to us any information about her allegation. We are also unaware of any action taken by the producer to report this information to the police. Whether or not she did, we remain unaware of any action triggered by, or investigation commenced by law enforcement as a result of her allegations.''
Law enforcement never got involved, but after An Open Secret screened at the DOC NYC film festival in November, the lawyers did. ''SAG-AFTRA has received information from individuals who have seen one or more versions of An Open Secret that this documentary includes an interview of Michael Harrah overlaid by a chyron that identifies Mr. Harrah as a member of the SAG Young Performers Committee,'' guild attorney Mirell told Berg's lawyer. ''Please be advised that Mr. Harrah is not now '' and was not at the time this documentary was screened '' a member of, or in any other way affiliated with, the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee. Whatever allegations may have been leveled against Mr. Harrah have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with SAG-AFTRA or any of its committees. However, since this chyron is clearly meant to suggest otherwise, demand is hereby made that any and all versions of An Open Secret be immediately re-edited to delete this chyron's reference to SAG and that no other references to SAG, to SAG-AFTRA, or to any SAG-AFTRA committees be included in any portions of this documentary.''
Berg, however, refused to re-edit the film. ''We have been advised that we do not need to make any edits to the film that SAG-AFTRA requested,'' the producers said in a statement to Deadline. ''Michael (Harrah) was current at time of the interview, which is how we believe he should correctly be labeled. We do note clearly in the end that Michael Harrah later resigned'...We were never given the date when Harrah officially resigned from SAG-AFTRA. We were only told 'within days' of the Harrah's interview with Amy Berg.''
In a statement, to Deadline, SAG's litigation attorney Mirell doubled down on his threat to sue. ''As the producers' attorneys conceded to me, there is no connection between SAG or SAG-AFTRA and any alleged misconduct,'' he said. ''In fact, we received a commitment from the producers' attorneys to edit out the inaccurate information of which we were then aware, and to make any additional edits to the documentary to prevent any possible claim of a connection between SAG or SAG-AFTRA and any alleged misconduct. If it turns out that the producers did not live up to this commitment, our firm has been authorized to pursue all appropriate legal remedies.''
SAG-AFTRA is mentioned early on in the film when Harrah says, ''I'm one of the founding members of the then-Screen Actors Guild Young Performers Committee '' now SAG-AFTRA '' and I have been a chair of the committee in the past. Now I'm just a foot soldier.''
The union's leaders wanted that removed from the film.
About halfway through the film, the union's Hollywood headquarters are show with a man walking in front of the big SAG-AFTRA One Union logo near the front door.
SAG-AFTRA wanted that out, too.
The union is mentioned again when Anne Henry, the co-founder of BizParentz Foundation, and one of the industry's leading advocates for the protection of child actors, related an incident that took place during a meeting of the Young Performers Committee in March 2005 after the Los Angeles Times ran a story about Bob Villard, a famous publicist and acting coach for many well-known child actors, who'd recently been arrested on child molestation charges.
''In a Screen Actors Guild meeting,'' Henry says in the film, ''we were all serving on the Young Performers Committee at the time, which is a national committee at the Screen Actors Guild, and another parent brought a news article from the LA Times that described Bob Villard's arrest, and the fact that the LA Police Department was looking for additional victims for Villard, and said, 'I request that SAG look into the idea of distributing this article or putting out an alert or something to their members, that it seems like a safety-related thing that we maybe should let everyone know.' And Michael Harrah had a very odd reaction that day. He vehemently opposed SAG getting involved. Harrah did not feel that SAG should be stepping forward, even in the wake of the LA Police Department asking for more victims. So SAG did not step forward and send the news out that day.''
SAG-AFTRA leaders wanted that removed from the film as well.
As Henry tells her story, the viewer sees an image of the SAG-AFTRA website's ''Safety Tips'' for the parents of child actors. The union also insisted that that be cut out of the film.
''I'm disappointed to hear that SAG-AFTRA officials initially felt the need to keep the truth from their members, and surprised that they would attempt to censor any film,'' Henry told Deadline. ''I trust that staffers now realize that SAG, as an organization, was victimized by predators, just as many of the parents and children in the film were. Predators use organizations like SAG to give themselves legitimacy, which they use, in turn, to get access to children. The protection of their brand should be secondary to the protection of their members. I am hopeful that all industry organizations, including SAG-AFTRA, will embrace the idea that they are vulnerable, and that they will view this film as a learning tool for their staff and members.''
Asked if he ever spoke out against the union offering assistance to a police investigation into allegations of child abuse in the entertainment industry, Harrah told Deadline: ''I think they have many priorities at this point that are more prevalent, but I have never seen a reluctance to do what they needed to do.''
''Well, I don't know that we've hidden them,'' Harrah says in the film about the victims of child molestation. ''I would think you would want to not hide it, but you would want to protect the child, whose identity is going to come out the more you play it out. A situation like this never helps anybody. And yes, the sooner we can get it under control, the better, but the less the child has to live with the stigma of it having happened, I think it's better for them, not only career-wise, but personally.''
Six months after Villard was arrested in 2005, SAG and AFTRA co-sponsored an educational workshop produced by the SAG Foundation about child safety and the threat posed to child actors by sexual predators.
SAG-AFTRA's litigation attorney also accused Berg of attempting to use the union to drum up publicity for her movie. ''It has likewise come to the attention of SAG-AFTRA,'' he wrote in an email to Berg's attorney, ''that Ms. Berg has repeatedly and deliberately attempted to draw SAG-AFTRA into her publicity and promotional efforts for An Open Secret by telling multiple reporters that they should contact SAG-AFTRA to find out 'what we were doing about' the issue of alleged child sexual abuse and exploitation in Hollywood.''
Complaining that Berg ''reportedly repeated the misidentification of Mr. Harrah as 'a member of the SAG Young Performers Committee' '' when discussing the film with reporters, Mirell said that ''an even more inflammatory and fallacious reference to Mr. Harrah as 'a SAG committee chief who manages child actors' is contained in an article that appeared in the online edition of the International Business Times.''
''All such false and misleading statements made in connection with any and all efforts to market, promote, advertise or otherwise publicize An Open Secret '' including all references to SAG SAG-AFTRA and/or any of its committees '' must immediately cease,'' he wrote.
Had Berg relented, viewers of the film would not have known that Harrah had been a co-founder of the Young Performers Committee; that he had served on it for the better part of 40 years; that he had chaired or vice-chaired it for many of those years, and that he was a sitting member of the committee when he was interviewed. The guild's litigation attorney even tried to keep his email a secret, warning Berg's attorney that it ''constitutes a confidential legal communication and may not be published in any manner.''
Berg, her attorney said, would not accede to the guild's demand. ''SAG-AFTRA is an extremely influential organization in the entertainment industry,'' he told the guild's lawyer. ''Mr. Harrah was a member of SAG's Young Performers Committee for decades '' he told Ms. Berg that he co-founded it in 1975 '' was a member of the committee when he allegedly engaged in improper conduct with a young actor who appears in the documentary, and was a member of the committee when Ms. Berg interviewed him about the sexual exploitation of minors in the entertainment industry. Under these circumstances, there is no legal requirement or editorial justification for stripping the documentary of any references to SAG, SAG-AFTRA, or the Young Performers Committee.''
By January, the guild had stopped ''demanding'' and started ''asking'' that it be removed from the film. ''The reason why we have asked that references to SAG, SAG-AFTRA and to any of its committees be removed from An Open Secret is because of the possibility that a reasonable viewer of this documentary will falsely conclude that the union or its Young Performers Committee somehow has some relationship to Mr. Harrah's allegedly improper conduct,'' the guild's attorney told Berg's attorney in an email dated January 27, 2015. ''In truth, of course, there is absolutely no connection whatsoever between Mr. Harrah's former service as a member of the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee and any allegations of personal misconduct by him.''
The guild could have told that to reporters when they called, but instead it chose to threaten a lawsuit to have all references to the union removed from the film. If SAG-AFTRA had had its way, An Open Secret would have been a much shorter film.
Related'An Open Secret' Trailer Released As Producers Stand By Claims From Accuser Convicted Of Fraud
''SAG-AFTRA and the filmmakers are clearly on the same side in the fight to protect child actors,'' BizParentz's Henry told Deadline. ''Instead of threatening the filmmakers, the union's leaders should use the film to educate its members and the parents of child actors.''
Greenwalt, the union's spokesperson, maintains that the guild's ''demand'' that all references to SAG-AFTRA be removed from the film was not a threat to sue. In the next breath, however, she threatened to sue. ''While we reserve our rights to pursue litigation if this union is portrayed inaccurately, we have not yet threatened to sue this producer,'' she said in a statement. ''Nor did we attempt to suppress any factual or accurate information in this production. Rather, we requested that those errors, of which we became aware, were corrected, and that no reference to SAG-AFTRA be made that inaccurately ties this union to any alleged misconduct. Notably, the producers' attorneys' agreed to our request.''
In fact, the guild's leaders demanded that all references to the union and its Young Performers Committee be edited out of Berg's film, whether they were inaccurate or not. And Berg's attorney only agreed to change the way Harrah is identified in the film '' to put his service on the Young Performers Committee in the past tense, as he had resigned shortly after being interviewed by Berg. Berg's attorney did not, as the guild claims, agree to the that that all references to the guild be removed from the film.
For the record, Deadline gave the guild a chance to respond to all elements of this story on Thursday afternoon, and while Deadline was waiting for the guild's response, guild officials gave several exclusive elements of this article to The Hollywood Reporter, which last night posted a ''Now THR has learned'' story on its website.
It's the kind of duplicity and CYA that the guild has shown throughout this affair.
''On the whole, the multiple inaccuracies in this article portray SAG-AFTRA in a false light,'' Greenwalt said of this article. ''In fact, we have no connection whatsoever to any of the allegations made by this producer. The union has advocated for young performers interests for more than half a century. SAG-AFTRA and before it, SAG and AFTRA, included contract language specifically protecting minor performers on the set and has advocated for legislation and policies that protect young performers throughout the industry. In light of this we reject any insinuation that we are not acting to protect our members, particularly our youngest members, at all times.''
Except, of course, when those young members were living at the home of the former chairman and co-founder of the guild's Young Performers Committee.
Brian Peck convicted of sexually abusing Nickelodeon child star STILL working with kids | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 14:08
Brian Peck served 16 months in prison after admitting two counts of abusing a Nickelodeon child actor He was charged with eight counts of sexual abuse, including abuse by 'by anesthesia or controlled substance'Actor, 54, was in two X-Men movies and all three Living Dead movies and is now featured in controversial documentary on pedophile abuse in HollywoodSince release from prison he has been dialogue coach, worked on Disney series and played teacher and claims to be friend of Charlie SheenOnly banned from direct contact with children, so he is able to work on children's series and on sets with underage actors Tracked down by Daily Mail Online, he refused to comment on his 2004 conviction but not-for-profit says he shows why laws need to be changed By Hugo Daniel For Dailymail.com
Published: 13:37 EST, 8 June 2015 | Updated: 14:53 EST, 8 June 2015
As he strolls through Hollywood, X-Men and Living Dead actor Brian Peck does not seem to have a care in the world.
A regular at horror conventions, Peck has a lengthy and continuing Hollywood career, and claims a friendship with Charlie Sheen.
But in fact Peck is a convicted child sex offender - who used his movie industry role to abuse a Nickelodeon star, and who astonishingly is not banned from working with children.
Peck was tracked down by Daily Mail Online as a controversial movie documentary - An Open Secret - is released.
Dubbed 'The movie Hollywood doesn't want you to see', An Open Secret tells the story of five victims who say they were molested as young boys trying to make it in the film business.
Peck is featured in the film, but Daily Mail Online has obtained full details of the charges which were leveled against him.
Scroll down for video
Out and about: Brian Peck in Los Angeles. The convicted child abuser continues to work in Hollywood after serving time in prison for abusing a Nickeloden child star thanks to laws not banning all contact with children
Cult figure: Peck is a fixture at horror conventions and was pictured on his way to being interviewed by a specialist publication, at horror shop Monster-a-Gogo in Hollywood
Perhaps most disturbingly, he is only prohibited from direct contact with children, not from being part of productions in which children are acting - meaning that since being convicted he has worked on a Disney show and a horror movie set in a high school.
He played a 'Sex Ed Teacher', according to the movie's credits.
Peck, 54, was convicted in 2004 Peck was convicted of a lewd act against a child and oral copulation of a person under 16.
In court documents obtained by Daily Mail Online the victim is only named as John Doe, to protect his identity.
The child did not want his identity revealed for fear of it having a negative affect on his career.
Peck had been coaching the youngster in acting at his home when the offenses happened and was only arrested after the budding actor's parents reported him to police.
The documents show Peck was originally charged with 11 counts including: lewd act upon a child; sodomy of a person under 16; attempted sodomy of a person under 16; sexual penetration by foreign object; four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16; oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance; sending harmful matter; and using a minor for sex acts.
In the end he pleaded 'no contest' to two counts - lewd act against a child and oral copulation - and the court found him guilty of both. The remaining counts were dismissed.
Pedophile actor Brian Peck seen after his release from prison
Guilt: The court documents which show how Brian Peck was convicted of two counts of child abuse. The victim was called John Doe because he did not want to have his career ruined by the ordeal
Sentencing: The first part of Peck's sentencing hearing sentenced him to a year in jail. He was later sentenced to four months for the other count to which he plead guilty, taking the total to 16 months in prison
Child involvement: Peck worked on Disney show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody in 2006-07 despite being convicted of sex crimes against a boy aged under 16 just two years earlier
Count two says Peck: 'Willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body of John Doe, who was 15 years old, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desires of the defendant, who was at least 10 years older than John Doe.'
Count six says Peck: 'Did unlawfully, being over the age of 21 years, participate in an act of oral copulation with John Doe, a person under the age of sixteen years.'
An Open Secret names Peck as one of several abusers who have worked in Hollywood and features interviews with victims who bravely spoke out about what happened to them.
However, its credibility has been questioned because one of the five men is Michael Egan - who later withdrew four lawsuits against Hollywood bigwigs including Bryan Singer. Peck's victim is not featured in An Open Secret although the film highlights his case.
Peck was convicted in October 2004 and sentenced to 16 months in jail but after completing his sentence returned to Hollywood and resumed his work as an actor and dialogue coach.
According to IMDB he has worked on several children's shows since he got out.
He also worked alongside director Bryan Singer '' himself the subject of a sex abuse lawsuit, which was dropped, and for which the lawyer who brought it has now apologized - on X-Men and X-Men 2 before his arrest.
Peck also appears on the X-Men 1.5 DVD commentary.
According to his IMDB page, Peck worked on Disney show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody in 2006-07.
He also played a role of a 'Sex Ed Teacher' in a 2009 short horror movie called Queerantine set in a high school.
He is listed as a dialogue coach on 2010 children's movie Jack and the Beanstalk, which starred Chevy Chase.
And more recently he is listed as a dialogue coach on 22 episodes of Charlie Sheen's comedy series Anger Management.
Speaking about his friendship with Sheen in a 2012 interview with website Love Horror, the apparently well-connected Peck said: 'Currently I am working with Charlie Sheen as a dialog coach on his new sitcom Anger Management, we are having a blast and I adore Charlie.'
It is not known whether the makers of any of these movies or shows were aware of Peck's convictions although information about his crimes is easily accessible.
Perhaps most bizarrely, Peck's profile on IMDB even says: 'Registered Sex Offender'.
Key role: Brian Peck was in all three Living Dead movies, the only actor to feature in the original and both the sequels
Unaffected: Brian Peck at a Monsterpalooza convention in 2012. He remains a fixture on the circuit for such events
Questions: Brian Peck in a 2009 short horror movie called Queerantine set in a high school. He played 'Sex Ed Teacher' according to the movie credits
Peck is a cult figure in the horror movie world after being the only actor to appear in Return of the Living Dead 1, 2 and 3.
Daily Mail Online photographed the actor heading into a Hollywood costume store where he did a sit down interview with niche magazine Gore Noir about his role in the movies.
Danna Kelley, 35, a shop worker at Monster-A-Gogo, said the actor is also regular at horror fan conventions.
She said: 'He's a cult figure. I know that he does horror conventions like Monsterpalooza at the Burbank Hilton, that's really what he talked about the most, autographs and such for Return of the Living Dead.'
Danna had no idea about Peck's convictions and when made aware of them, she added: 'If I had known that I would have thought of him completely different.
'He wouldn't be the first one, there's so many, it's just horrible. I'm sure not many people know about that.
'I'm sure if these events [the conventions] knew, they wouldn't want that stigma attached to them.
'He shouldn't be allowed around children, period.'
Friendship: Pedophile Brian peck claimed that he had 'a blast' with Charlie Sheen (with his father Martin) while working on Anger Management as a dialogue coach. IMDB lists him as being involved in 22 episodes of the show
Concerned: Amy Berg (left) featured Peck in her documentary An Open Secret, which was made with information from Anne Henry (right) who runs the non-profit BizParents and wants tougher laws against pedophiles working in Hollywood
Daily Mail Online confronted Peck at his Los Angeles home and asked if he had seen An Open Secret or if he has plans to, he said: 'No I haven't. I don't plan on it.'
Asked if he had an opinion on his abuse being a subject of the movie, he said: 'I don't have any comment on it.'
And asked if he thinks he should still be allowed to work in Hollywood, he said: 'I've no comment about it.'
Asked finally is he was sorry to the actor he abused, he said: 'I don't have any comment on it, I really don't.'
He's still working on camera. It's a complete scandal
Anne Henry who runs BizParents, on Brian Peck
Anne Henry, who runs the non-profit BizParents which helps families of children in the industry, and whose research formed much of the basis of An Open Secret, said Peck's sex offending and ability to return to the industry highlighted the need for enhanced protection for children in Hollywood.
'Brian Peck's actual sex offender conviction of a child actor was related to a show which was on Nickelodeon,' she said.
'I applaud that child. It is rare that a child of that stature would prosecute because they understandably fear for their career.
'I think he handled it incredibly well, managing to cover his identity to this day.'
Due to campaigning by BizParents, the state of California passed the Child Performer Protection Act in 2012 '' but, as it stands, registered sex offenders are still allowed to work in Hollywood without difficulty.
She said: 'The law applies to people who have direct contact with children, so Brian Peck would no longer be allowed to coach a child actor as he did in the conviction.
'Before 2012 this was legal and I would say he [Peck] is one of the top three reasons for the law's existence because we could see this was a bad thing.
'He could, however, still work on set as an actor or crew member.
'In California there's another law that the parents must be in sight or sound of the minor at all times on set.
'He's still allowed to work on sets with children on them because crews are exempt (from checks) and because the parents are supposed to be there. That's the safety net.'
For Henry and other campaigners the current safeguards are not enough.
She said: 'For me as a mum I'm horrified that he's allowed to work in our industry at all. I don't care where he goes but he shouldn't be in our industry.
At home: Brian Peck's home in Los Angeles suggests that his career remains financially healthy as both the cars parked outside have personalized registrations which relate to his film career
Casual: The pedophile who served 16 months for his abuse of a Nickelodeon child star appeared unfazed in Los Angeles. Approached by Daily Mail Online and asked about his crimes, he declined to comment
Wheels: The pedophile and horror actor's Mercedes is worth upwards of $31,000 as new, while his Honda Element also has a custom plate named after roles he has been involved in
'I wish that Hollywood had more moral fiber and would police itself and not allow people with those kind of criminal records to work.'
Henry added she thinks Peck relies on favors from pals in the movie business to get his roles, saying: 'He was an actor then became a dialogue coach. It's the person who gets the kids ready, makes sure their lines are together.
'It's the kind of job title you might give a friend you were trying to give employment too.'
She called on Peck to quit the industry, adding: 'People [convicted of such crimes] kind of go under the radar but not Brian Peck. He's still working on camera. It's a complete scandal.'
Executive producer of An Open Secret Matthew Valentinas, a Boston lawyer, has also spoken out about the lack of regulation in Hollywood. He told Elle magazine: 'Animals have more protection and rights on a film set than children do.'
An Open Secret struggled to land a distribution deal because it paints the industry in a bad light. Executive producer Gabe Hoffman told website Deadline last month: 'We went to everybody and anybody at all the biggest companies and got turndowns everywhere'.
However it finally landed a deal with Rocky Mountain Pictures and Vesuvio Entertaiment and went on a 20 city US theatrical release which began in Denver and Seattle on June 5.
Henry hopes it can make a similar impact to Sea World expose Blackfish.
She added: 'In my dream world I would like this to be as big as Blackfish, where everybody just knows and it becomes common knowledge. If that happens predators wouldn't be in our industry they would go somewhere else where there was less scrutiny and less of a light shone on them.'
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Controversial 'An Open Secret' Tanks In Initial Limited Rollout | Deadline
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 14:09
Amy Berg's controversial documentary An Open Secret, which addresses allegations of teen sexual molestation in Hollywood, performed poorly in its initial runs in nine theaters this weekend in Denver and Seattle, distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures said today.
''In 26 years, it's the lowest-grossing film we've ever had,'' Rocky Mountain's Ron Rodgers said by phone this morning. ''We knew it would be challenging subject matter.'' Rodgers said one of the film's ''best showings'' was in Seattle, where it grossed about $200. Beyond that, Rodgers declined to provide specific figures for the movie, a version of which screened at last year's DocNYC festival.
''I don't think we've had any interference from Hollywood and I don't jump onto conspiracy theories,'' said Rodgers. ''We've faced controversy before'' with Dinesh D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America. ''Hollywood tried to ignore it, but then it did so much business, they had to eventually address it. But I don't see any indication there was any interference now.''
Rocky Mountain released 2016: Obama's America in 2012, riding election year momentum in the U.S., eventually grossing nearly $33.5M.
An Open Secret will head to New York next weekend, playing the Regal E-Walk. Rodgers said an L.A. run will likely depend the film's performance next week. ''Hopefully we can turn it around in New York.''
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War on Drugs
Cheap, synthetic 'flakka' dethroning cocaine on Florida drug scene
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 20:49
Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:27pm EDTBy David Adams and Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) - For decades, South Florida has battled drug traffickers who ship boatloads of cocaine from South America. Now the region is dealing with a new epidemic - cheap, synthetic drugs that arrive from China through the mail.
As authorities in the Sunshine State battle with the surge of Alpha-PVP, better known as "flakka" or "gravel," police departments have begun equipping officers with field detection kits, employing sniffer dogs at mail facilities and training patrol units to look for signs of delirium.
The drug's popularity, however, is only growing. In 2014, the first year it appeared in the state, authorities in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, recorded 190 incidents involving flakka. By early May of this year, the number of incidents involving the drug had already raced past 275.
"Cocaine was king, until this year," said Detective William Schwartz, a veteran narcotics officer with the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
Unlike cocaine, flakka, is both cheap and accessible. The drug is widely advertised for sale online by Chinese companies and can be shipped in large quantities to U.S. addresses by established global delivery companies. Once it hits the streets, a single dose can sell for as little as $5.
Flakka, which was placed on the U.S. list of illegal controlled substances in 2014, is chemically designed to mimic cathinone, a natural stimulant found in the leaves of the khat plant, chewed traditionally in the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa.
It gets its nickname from the Spanish slang for a slender and attractive woman, and is similar to ecstasy or MDMA, and so-called "Molly." It is sold as small clear crystals that can be popped in the mouth or smoked.
Users are said to feel a sense of super human strength and delirium.
While flakka has also shown up in parts of Ohio, Houston and Chicago, it has made the most substantial U.S. inroads in South Florida, which historically has had one of the country's highest rates of drug use.
Florida's long, contiguous coastline and numerous airports have made the state a leading U.S. entry point for cocaine, heroin and marijuana, mostly funneled from South America through the Caribbean.
"We are ground central," said Robert C. Hutchinson, deputy special agent for Homeland Security Investigations in Miami. "We want to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control."
Synthetic drug seizures - almost all of which is flakka - accounted for 34 percent of Broward's crime lab reports in the first three months of 2015, overtaking cocaine which dropped to 30 percent, Schwartz said.
"That's the first time in my memory that a drug has ever surpassed cocaine," he added. "We are crossing the threshold into a new world."
One kilo, worth $50,000 on the street, can be bought from online companies in China for as little as $1,500, drug experts say.
Law enforcement agencies face big obstacles because flakka is not illegal in China. Manufacturers there typically classify the drug as a legitimate "research chemical," and offer discreet delivery by mail.
Gil Kerlikowske, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said China had dramatically increased its criminal investigations into synthetic drugs but its huge ports and vast territory made it harder to tackle.
The Obama administration has raised the issue of flakka in talks with China, according to the U.S. State Department.
What has law enforcement and drug treatment professionals most concerned are flakka's long-term effects. First-time users can take three to four days to return to a normal state of mind, while for repeat users, it could be 14 to 16 days, according to drug treatment professionals.
Dr. Peter Ventre, a psychiatrist at Fort Lauderdale Hospital, said a girl in her early 20s recently suffered symptoms similar to a stroke or brain bleeding after using flakka.
"Now she can't talk, can't recognize anybody and can't walk on her own," he said.
Last month, police in Melbourne, southeast of Orlando, arrested a 17-year-old girl after finding her running down a street naked, covered in blood and screaming "I am god! I am Satan!," according to the police report.
"They're convinced they're being chased by wild animals or people who are trying to kill them," said James Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University.
He said some 27 people have died from flakka-related overdoses in the last eight months in Broward County alone.
"It's the most intense, rapidly emerging drug problem since the 1980s with the emergence of crack cocaine," Hall added.
(Reporting by David Adams and Zachary Fagenson, editing by Jill Serjeant and G Crosse)
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More Dangerous Than Cocaine, Cheaper Than a Big Mac
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 13:38
Broward Sheriff's Office | Reuters
Alpha-PVP, a powerful stimulant nicknamed Flakka, is shown after being seized by Broward County police in this image released on May 28, 2015.
The hottest designer drug to hit the underground market is a cousin of bath salts known as flakka. Placed on the U.S. list of illegal controlled substances in 2014, flakka's popularity has surged, especially in Florida, where it arrives in droves from China through the mail. The drug has reportedly also shown up in Ohio, Texas and Illinois. Other states, such as New York, have issued warnings about it.
Flakka is part of a chemical class of drugs called cathinones, and it's designed to mimic the stimulative effects of the cathinone found in the leaves of the khat plant chewed in some parts of the world.
Flakka '-- its chemical name is alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, or Alpha-PVP '-- comes in the form of white or pink crystals that can be swallowed, snorted, injected or vaped. "Vaporizing, which sends the drug very quickly into the bloodstream, may make it particularly easy to overdose," the National Institute on Drug Abuse warned in April. The term flakka apparently comes from the Spanish slang for a slender and attractive woman ("la flaca"). The drug is also referred to as gravel because its white crystal chunks have been compared to aquarium gravel.
Read more from The Fiscal Times
The drug has effects similar to MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly. It acts as a re-uptake inhibitor of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, leading users to feel "excited delirium." Some users can have hallucinations that result in violent behavior, or experience spikes in body temperature (up to 105-106 degrees Fahrenheit) and paranoia. In addition, the drug can cause muscles to break down, a result of higher body temperatures, leading to kidney complications and, potentially, the need for long-term dialysis.
Flakka may be more addictive than meth and some have said it can be more dangerous than cocaine because it's difficult to control the exact dose an individual takes. A small overdose can lead to extreme symptoms, including death. The effects of the drug can take days to wear off.
Plus, flakka is cheap. A dose can reportedly go for $3 to $5. On the street, one kilo can cost $50,000, but ordered online from China '-- where it isn't illegal '-- one can go for as little as $1,500, according to experts cited by Reuters.
Read MoreWhat were the most popular drugs on Silk Road?
As the drug becomes more popular, stories and videos showing the strange behavior of alleged users are cropping up '-- and news outlets have been rushing to share them. A girl in Melbourne, Fla. ran through the street screaming that she was Satan while on a flakka trip. A man in Melbourne ran naked through the streets claiming to be God before "committing a sexual act on a tree." In Fort Lauderdale last month, a man high on flakka impaled himself while trying to scale a fence around the police station.
Read MoreAmateurs are buying DIY hacking kits off the dark web
Last year, authorities in Florida's Broward County recorded 190 incidents involving the drug, the news service reported Wednesday. In just over four months this year, the number of incidents had already climbed over 275. Official seizures of synthetic drugs, the vast majority of which are of flakka, overtook cocaine as the most common drug in the county's crime lab reports over the first quarter of the year.
"Cocaine was king," Detective William Schwartz of the Broward County Sheriff's Office told Reuters, "until this year."
Sylvia Mathews Burwell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 00:32
Sylvia Mary Mathews Burwell (born June 23, 1965) is an American politician who has been the 22nd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services since 2014. Previously she was the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2013 to 2014.
She was president of the Walmart Foundation beginning in January 2012, and she was previously the president of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, her program focused on combating world poverty through agricultural development, financial services for the poor, and global libraries. She was Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Foundation before its reorganization in 2006. She came to the Foundation in 2001, after serving as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C., since 1998.
She was nominated by President Barack Obama on April 11, 2014, to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services after the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius. Burwell's nomination was confirmed by the Senate on June 5, 2014 by a vote of 78-17.
Early lifeMathews was born and raised in Hinton, West Virginia. She is the daughter of Cleo (n(C)e Maroudas) Mathews, a former Hinton mayor, and Dr. William Peter Mathews, a retired optometrist. Her maternal grandparents, Vasiliki (Mpakares) and Dennis N. Maroudas, were Greek immigrants, as were her paternal grandparents.
Education and early careerIn 1982, she was a Youth For Understanding exchange student in Japan. While still in college, she served as an intern for West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall, as governor's aide to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and worked on the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign. She later worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign.
She was an Associate at McKinsey & Company from 1990 through 1992. She also served as Staff Director for the National Economic Council from 1993 to 1995. She was Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1995 to 1997. Mathews served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1998, along with future Center for American Progress founder John Podesta. In 1998, Bowles left and Podesta was elevated to chief of staff, and Burwell moved to the OMB to serve as Jack Lew's deputy director from 1998 to 2001.
She is a Member of the University of Washington Medicine Board, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Aspen Strategy Group and the Nike Foundation Advisory Group.
Mathews received a bachelor's degree in government, cum laude, from Harvard University in 1987 and a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She was a Director of MetLife and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company from January 2004 to April 2013. She often returns to West Virginia and to West Virginia University to speak, and a scholarship was established in her honor to support aspiring WVU political science students.
In 2005 Mathews was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of The 50 Women to Watch -- 2005 world wide. She was mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Patty Stonesifer, who had announced plans to step down as CEO of the Gates Foundation in 2008. However, on May 12, 2008, the foundation announced that Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes would assume the CEO position. Reportedly, Mathews and the foundation's other presidents approved of Raikes' appointment. Mathews was named Obama/Biden Transition Agency Review Lead for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She married attorney Stephen Burwell in February 2007. They have two children.
Office of Management and Budget DirectorOn March 3, 2013, President Obama nominated Burwell to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. A confirmation hearing was held on April 10, and on April 24 the U.S. Senate confirmed Burwell to be the head of the OMB in a 96-0 vote.
In October 2013, during the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, Burwell sent the email initiating the process that closed national parks, visitors' centers and even the ''panda-cam'' at the National Zoo. "Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations," Burwell wrote in a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies. She ordered the action because there was no "clear indication" that Congress would strike an agreement on a continuing resolution before the end of the day Tuesday. "We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations," Burwell said in a statement.
Health and Human Services SecretaryOn April 11, 2014, Obama nominated Burwell to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, succeeding Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation the day before. Her tenure as HHS secretary coincided with the second open-enrollment period for healthcare insurance, in October 2014. This expanded Medicaid and opened the Health Insurance Marketplace. Burwell was confirmed as Department of HHS secretary on June 5, 2014. She was sworn into office on June 9, 2014. On October 9, 2014 the Secretary faced reporters with questions about the federal government response to the Ebola virus disease and the upcoming Annual enrollment period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which begins on November 15. The HealthCare.gov website had completed various testing actions with regard to load, end-to-end, Alpha, and other aspects. The Secretary noted the website had reduced the application process complexity by reducing the number of screens from over seventy to just over a dozen website pages.
References^"Walmart Foundation Names New President". news.walmart.com. October 14, 2011. ^Budget Chief Is Choice as New Health Secretary^Memmott, Mark. "'I Knew It Wouldn't Be Easy,' Outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius Says : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^"Beckley Post-Herald 'º 11 February 1958 'º Page 5". Newspapers.com. February 11, 1958. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^"Obama taps Hinton native for budget chief >> The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia". Register-herald.com. March 5, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^ abDavid M. Kinchen (November 5, 2005). "Hinton Native Sylvia Mathews Named One of World's 50 Women to Watch by Wall Street Journal". Huntington News Network. ^Outstanding Young Women of America - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^"What is the history of Sylvia Burwell and the latest information about Sylvia Burwell?". thetimes-tribune.com/. April 27, 2015. ^Strom, Stephanie (February 7, 2008). "Gates Foundation Head to Leave Longtime Post". The New York Times. ^Ben Gose (May 12, 2008). "Gates Foundation Picks Microsoft Veteran as New CEO". philanthropy.com. ^"Economics and International Trade Team Leads". change.gov. March 4, 2013. ^"Q&A | Sylvia M. Mathews, president of the Gates Foundation Global Development Program". seattletimes.com. March 17, 2007. ^"OMB Leadership". Retrieved April 10, 2014. ^Reilly, Mollie (March 3, 2013). "Sylvia Mathews Burwell To Be Nominated As White House Budget Chief: Sources". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 3, 2013. ^Nomination of Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell, of West Virginia, to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Hearing before the Committee on the Budget, United States Senate, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, April 10, 2013^U.S. Senate Periodical Press Gallery. Senate.gov. Retrieved on August 17, 2013.^"Meet Sylvia Burwell, the woman who ordered the government shutdown - News - MSN CA". News.ca.msn.com. October 2, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^"Shutdown begins, federal agencies close". TheHill. Retrieved April 14, 2014. ^Goldstein, Amy (June 5, 2014). "Senate confirms Burwell as new secretary of HHS". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 June 2014. ^"Secretary of Health and Human Services: Sylvia Mathews Burwell". Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 10 June 2014. ^Kaiser Health News and Health Affairs. Secretary Burwell on Health Care Policy. C-Span. (October 9, 2014). retrieved 9 October 2014. http://www.c-span.org/video/?322005-1/hhs-secretary-sylvia-burwell-health-care-policyExternal links
VIDEO-State Dept vs Associated Press Iran disclosure 12 | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 14:18
Created by an anonymous useron June 12, 2015
Clip 1 of debate over the Obama administration abandoning the condition that Iran come clean on the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program
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VIDEO-State Dept vs Associated Press Iran disclosure 22 | Video | C-SPAN.org
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Clip 2 of debate over the Obama administration abandoning the condition that Iran come clean on the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program.
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VIDEO-Networks Skimp on Obama Administration's Plan to Force Diversity in Rich Neighborhoods | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 00:13
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
The major broadcast networks refused to take notice on Thursday night of plans by President Obama and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to force the diversification of American neighborhoods and particularly those mainly consisting of wealthy Americans.
With the ''big three'' of ABC, CBS, and NBC on the sidelines, the Fox News Channel program Special Report offered a full segment on the regulations that host Bret Baier noted has Republicans ''charging that President Obama wants control over who lives in your neighborhood and [that] he's using the power of the purse strings to pursue it.''
VIDEO-FLASHBACK: ABC's '08 Prediction: NYC Under Water From Climate Change By June 2015 | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 00:09
[See NewsBusters for more.] New York City underwater? Gas over $9 a gallon? A carton of milk costs almost $13? Welcome to June 12, 2015. Or at least that was the wildly-inaccurate version of 2015 predicted by ABC News exactly seven years ago. Appearing on Good Morning America in 2008, Bob Woodruff hyped Earth 2100, a special that pushed apocalyptic predictions of the then-futuristic 2015.The segment included supposedly prophetic videos, such as a teenager declaring, "It's June 8th, 2015. One carton of milk is $12.99." (On the actual June 8, 2015, a gallon of milk cost, on average, $3.39.) Another clip featured this prediction for the current year: "Gas reached over $9 a gallon." (In reality, gas costs an average of $2.75.)
VIDEO-Chris Hayes, Wendy Davis Tag Team to HitBush on Parenting, Graham on Abortion | MRCTV
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 00:08
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
On Thursday night's edition of MSNBC's All In, host Chris Hayes turned to none other than former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate and abortion activist Wendy Davis to trash Jeb Bush over his views concerning the need for two-parent households and Senator Lindsey Graham's introduction of a bill in the Senate that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks.
Offering little more in than liberal talking points, the pair conversed back and forth on Bush's supposed hit on single parents and Graham's introduction of a bill that mirrors that of legislation that passed the House on May 13 and how both serve as further examples of the Republican Party's supposedly anti-women views.
VIDEO-NBC's Mitchell Boosts 'Personal' Hillary's NYC Campaign Rally | MRCTV
Sat, 13 Jun 2015 23:41
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
On the 12 June 2015 edition of NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell touted how Hillary Clinton's upcoming NYC campaign rally will be "focusing on her late mother, Dorothy Rodham '' twice abandoned as a child by her parents; forced to make her way across country and work as a maid." Mitchell played two clips from a campaign video where Mrs. Clinton spoke highly of her mom, and underlined that "Clinton credits her mother for her passion and values '' especially fighting for women and children '' one reason she wants to be president."
The journalist did point out how socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is "challenging her [Clinton] from the left" and that "recent polls show a big jump in the number of people who think she's not honest or trustworthy since the controversies over her e-mails and donations to the family foundation." But she also played up that "Clinton is counting on people caring more about her plans for the future than the past."
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VIDEO-Man who joined ISIS trained in the US - CNNPolitics.com
Thu, 11 Jun 2015 22:26
Residents examine a damaged mosque after an Iraqi Air Force bombing in the ISIS-seized city of Falluja, Iraq, on Sunday, May 31. At least six were killed and nine others wounded during the bombing on Sunday.
A car bomb, believed to be set by ISIS militants, explodes at the gate of a government building near the provincial governor's compound in Ramadi on Saturday, May 16.
Iraqi soldiers fire their weapons toward ISIS group positions in the Garma district, west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, on Sunday, April 26. Pro-government forces said they had recently made advances on areas held by Islamist jihadists.
A member of Afghanistan's security forces stands at the site where a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up in front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on April 18. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosion killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100 others, a public health spokesman said.
Iraqi counterterrorism forces patrol in Ramadi on April 18. Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital after days of intense clashes with ISIS left the city at risk.
Thousands of Iraqis cross a bridge over the Euphrates River to Baghdad, as they flee Ramadi on Friday, April 17.
Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters gather before attacking ISIS militants in Ramadi on Wednesday, April 15.
People leave their hometown of Ramadi on April 15. ISIS' offensive in Ramadi shows its resilience despite months of U.S.-led airstrikes and a recent defeat in the northern city of Tikrit.
Security forces arrive to Ramadi to join the battle against ISIS on April 15.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces help Yazidis as they arrive at a medical center in Altun Kupri, Iraq, on April 8.
A Yazidi woman mourns for the death of her husband and children by ISIS after being released south of Kirkuk on April 8.
Security forces in Tikrit chant slogans against the ISIS militant group on Friday, April 3. They had just reopened the main gate of their base, which was closed for months while ISIS occupied the city.
People in Tikrit inspect what used to be a palace of former President Saddam Hussein on April 3.
A member of Iraq's security forces beats a suspected ISIS member who was captured in Tikrit on Wednesday, April 1.
On April 1, Shiite militiamen celebrate the retaking of Tikrit, which had been under ISIS control since June. The push into Tikrit came days after U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS bases around the city.
Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen prepare to attack ISIS militants in Tikrit on Tuesday, March 31. Ousting ISIS from Tikrit was an important step for the coalition, which is trying to thwart the extremist group's quest to grow its caliphate.
Iraqi security forces launch a rocket against ISIS positions in Tikrit on Monday, March 30.
An Iraqi soldier searches for ISIS fighters in Tikrit on March 30.
Smoke billows after a mortar shell hit an Anbar governorate building in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11. ISIS launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city.
Iraqi Shiite fighters cover their ears as a rocket is launched during a clash with ISIS militants in the town of Al-Alam, Iraq, on Monday, March 9.
Displaced Assyrian women who fled their homes due to ISIS attacks pray at a church on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, on Sunday, March 1. ISIS militants recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians in Syria.
A Kurdish marksman looks over a destroyed area of Kobani on Friday, January 30, after the city had been liberated from the ISIS militant group. The Syrian city, also known as Ayn al-Arab, had been under assault by ISIS since mid-September.
Smoke billows in Kirkuk as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position against ISIS militants on January 30.
Kurdish people celebrate in Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkish-Syrian border, after ISIS militants were expelled from Kobani on Tuesday, January 27.
Collapsed buildings are seen in Kobani on January 27 after Kurdish forces took control of the town from ISIS.
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, reacts during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, January 23. ISIS would later kill Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
ISIS militants are seen through a rifle's scope during clashes with Peshmerga fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 21.
An elderly Yazidi man arrives in Kirkuk after being released by ISIS on Saturday, January 17. The militant group released about 200 Yazidis who were held captive for five months in Iraq. Almost all of the freed prisoners were in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect, Kurdish officials said.
Smoke billows behind an ISIS sign during an Iraqi military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, November 25.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish People's Protection Units join forces to fight ISIS in Kobani on Wednesday, November 19.
A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after ISIS militants fired mortar shells toward an area controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Monday, November 3.
Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on Thursday, October 30, after retaking the area from ISIS.
ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they combat ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on October 18.
Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds were held there after crossing from Syria into Turkey. Tens of thousands of people fled Kobani to escape ISIS.
Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 30.
Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zumar, Iraq, on Monday, September 15.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq's Diyala province, on August 24.
Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq's Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People's Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.