Cover for No Agenda Show 743: Misgendering
July 30th, 2015 • 2h 52m

743: Misgendering


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Airstream financing
Podcast HOF Speech
Sandy - Partnership model
Chalice & The Blade
MK Ultra
Making Sex a Sacred Pleasure '-- Center for Partnership Studies
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:50
An Interview with Riane Eisler by Jyotsna Sreenivasan for New Moon Network, March/April 1996
What if sexuality were a sacred, celebrated part of our religion and culture? What if sexual love, nurturing, and women's life-giving powers were seen as the most important subjects of art and literature? What if children were taught these values along with their ABCs? That's the vision of Riane Eisler, author of the influential best-seller The Chalice and The Blade.
In her new book, Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body (Harper and Row, 1995), Eisler argues that a world in which sexual love is sacred is also a world of peace, caring, and respect for others. Eisler challenges current Western notions of sexuality by revealing that prehistoric European egalitarian cultures actually revered sexuality and bodily pleasure as part of their religion. She contrasts this with many modern religious traditions, which revere war, martyrdom, and asceticism while denigrating sexuality and pleasure.
I interviewed Eisler to learn how she would have parents and teachers (in this day of sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and teen pregnancy) foster a responsible, healthy sexuality in our children.Jyotsna Sreenivasan: I think many people would agree with you that sexuality is a wonderful part of life. But is it dangerous to tell children about the pleasures of sexuality? Will it lead them to have sex too early and be at risk for diseases and pregnancy?
Riane Eisler: To tell a child that sex is pleasurable is hardly news! Children become aware of the pleasure of masturbation very early. The notion that if we don't tell children about sex, they'll never find out is silly. Sexual images are all around us. The question is: How do we help children learn about sexuality not in the gutter, not from misogynist song lyrics? Parents and schools have a responsibility to teach kids a partnership model of sexuality -- a model in which one person is not dominant over the other, but where both are equal.
JS: How do you recommend that parents teach their children about sexuality?RE: Sex education is often taught by parents in a cloud of fear, sin, and guilt -- because parents are afraid children will get into trouble. I recommend that parents teach children sexual responsibility to themselves and others, and not to feel ashamed of their bodies. Children should learn that their bodies are sacred and miraculous.
JS: Recently we've been hearing from some members of Congress that we need to bring shame and guilt back into sex education. What is your response?
RE: Bringing more shame into sex education is cruel, and it doesn't work. A few centuries ago, shame did not prevent people from having sex. It just led to a lot of infanticide, abandonment of children, and the death of children in orphanages. Thirty years ago shame and guilt led to illegal abortions. In addition, shame and guilt often totally deprived women of their capacity for sexual pleasure. That's criminal.
JS: How do we teach children the responsibility that goes along with sex?RE: The crux is to teach children to value their bodies enough to decide what they want to do, and how they want to be treated. We can help children set goals that they can follow themselves. I prefer the term "self-regulation" to "self-discipline," because discipline implies punishment. "Regulation" means there are consequences associated with our actions, and that therefore we want to think about and plan our actions and our lives.
JS: If you had a chance to design a sex education curriculum for schools, what would it look like?
RE: Sexuality can't be isolated from the rest of our lives, and it can't be too clinical. I would start with a discussion of life goals, and I would combine sex education with parenting education, emotional literacy and nonviolent conflict resolution. Even first-graders can be taught these things, in small increments.
Parenting education is an effective way of helping children not have children. They can meet and play with a baby, and learn what it takes to care for a baby. From these experiences they learn that babies take a lot of work and that babies can't really give them the love they want.
JS: I found your discussion about human sexual evolution in Sacred Pleasure fascinating. Would you teach this in sex education classes?
RE: Yes. In Sacred Pleasure I show that our sexuality is one thing that makes us human. We don't have sex just to procreate, as most other animals do. We have the desire to have sex at any time, not just when a woman is fertile. We use sex as a "pleasure bond" between people. This pleasure bonding is one of our higher faculties that distinguishes us from most other animals. It's important for children to understand this.
JS: Say your 15 year-old daughter comes to you asking for birth control. You really do not want her to have sex so early. What should you do?
RE: it is unwise to tell a child, "No, you can't have contraception." When you tell an adolescent no, that's a challenge. The worst thing for a parent to do is to say, "Absolutely not." The child will want to do the thing they are forbidden to do. I suggest that parents be clear and open about their feelings, and their reasons. You can say, "I think you are too young for this, both physically and emotionally. There are many things for you to consider. But I want you to think about this yourself." Encourage her to talk it over with other people she trusts -- peers, teachers, or other adults. You might recommend some good books for her to read on the subject. You can ask that she make no decision at all for two weeks or a month, until she has given the subject serious thought, and has talked to others. Then offer to talk to her again. The main thing is to keep the lines of communication open.
JS: What about boys -- are there particular things we should teach our sons about sexuality?
RE: For both boys and girls, we need to explore how we can introduce more flexible gender roles. If boys start feeling that sex and pregnancy are their responsibilities too, they won't want to "score" by having sex with or impregnating as many girls as possible.JS: How would you recommend talking to children about homosexuality?
RE: There is a lot of hate-mongering out there about homosexuality. So the first thing to say is that homosexuals are just people who have a different attraction sexually. You can tell children that gay people face many problems -- a great deal of discrimination and difficulty. Try to dispel some of the myths -- gay people do not attack people sexually any more than straight people. Also point out to children that just because boys hug each other, or girls hold hands, that doesn't mean you're gay, or that what you're doing is sexual. Everyone needs affection.
JS: As you mentioned, kids see unhealthy images of sexuality all around them. In some advertisements, sex is linked to violence, or children are shown in sexual poses. How should parents deal with this?
RE: Parents need to take a strong stand about the ads. They can say, "I will boycott Calvin Klein because their ads demean sexuality and promote the exploitation of children." They can write letters to advertisers with offensive ads, and get the PTAs to write letters telling the advertisers they won't buy their products unless they change their policies. They can teach kids to look at media portrayals of sexuality and ask, "Is there something wrong here?"
JS: I think a lot of parents reading this may be nodding their heads in agreement with your views, but still may feel uncomfortable with talking to their children about sexual pleasure for fear their kids will engage in sexual experimentation.
RE: Sexual experimentation will happen whether parents talk about sex with their kids or not. The key is to give children a new ethic, a new morality, of sexuality. It isn't immoral to have sexual desires. It is highly immoral to pressure someone to have sex against their will. We must teach kids about sexual harassment, about unacceptable touches, about date rape, about sexual abuse. It is important for children to learn that there are boundaries, and that they don't have to please someone else by letting the other person touch them sexually. And we need to help them look at what they want in their lives in the longer term.
JS: It sounds like you recommend that parents teach children this new sexual morality, help them to set their own goals, then step back -- that parents should not try to control the child's sexuality.
RE: If we help children set goals they can follow themselves, if we can equip our children with a partnership morality, they will manage to make good decisions most of the time -- and that is the best we can hope for.
JS: What do you see in our future in terms of attitudes toward sexuality?
RE: Three hundred years ago there were hardly any democratic governments. And that seems strange to us. But today there are people who try to suppress open discussion of sexuality, just as the discussion of democracy was suppressed years ago. So the struggle to discuss sexuality, and to reclaim pleasure, is only the latest step in our struggle for a more equal world -- a world of partnership. And maybe three hundred years from now, it will seem just as strange that sexual violence, child sexual abuse, reproductive freedom, and freedom of sexual choice were not always seen as important political matters.
Jotsna Sreenivasan writes young adult novels, including THE MOON OVER CRETE (Holy Cow! Press, 1994), which was serialized in New Moon. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband Mark, and works for the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Riane Eisler '-- Center for Partnership Studies
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:44
NEWS FLASH: Groundbreaking new report on more accurate way to measure the economy. Please click on the report image to download a .PDF of the report.
Introduction to the CPS Website
For more information, click here to see the "Overview of the CPS Website" video.
Caring Economy Campaign (CEC)
If we bring Caring and the Economy together, what would our lives and our world look like?
To view "Hidden in Plain View", the Caring Economy Campaign brochure, click on the image to the right to download the .PDF.
Watch this video and Join the Campaign
Public Policy Work:Social Wealth IndicatorsWhen GDP (Gross Domestic Product) keeps rising at the same time that joblessness is dangerously high and childcare and education are slashed, it's clear that we urgently need new measurements that give policymakers and the public a more accurate picture of true economic health. In partnership with the Urban Institute, CPS is developing new Social Wealth indicators. These more accurate and inclusive measurements provide the missing empirical evidence essential so policies no longer marginalize the majority: women, children and members of racial and other minorities.
Caring Economy Leadership ProgramCPS' online Caring Economy Leadership Program is prepares participants to join a growing international chorus of voices speaking out for a saner, more practical economic system -- one that acknowledges that the work of caring for people and the planet is the essential foundation of economic success.
People everywhere are hungry for a new conversation about economics. We invite YOU to help lead the conversation.
Coalition and Movement-Building:Together we can bring about real change. There's strength in numbers. The Caring Economy Campaign coalition brings together diverse organizations representing women, children, civil and human rights, caregivers, health care workers, teachers, socially responsible businesses, faith based activists, environmentalists, as well as bloggers, think tanks, thought leaders, and others working to create a more caring and prosperous economy. The website facilitates supports this coalition and movement-building through blog postings, fact sheets, videos, reports, action items, and other resources.
Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV)The Global Council and National/International Partners of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence invite you.....
CPS' Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) was founded to build more caring and compassionate cultures by breaking cycles of violence in our families and in our family of nations.
Our new Caring and Connected Parenting Guide'--is an indispensable resource for parents and others who care about children. Download if for free now!
Latest Articles and Sample Resources Protecting the Majority of Humanity: Toward an Integrated Approach to Crimes against Present and Future GenerationsBy Dr. Riane Eisler, June 2013
Economics as if Caring Mattersby Riane Eisler, March-April 2012"In this superb piece, Riane Eisler tries to untangle the limitations of both capitalism and socialism. There is no place for a caring economy in these models -- no value given to caring for our trees or, as emphasized in this piece, our children. New models are needed, and the author presents the beginning of one. If economics moves in any direction, it should be this one." Jeff Madrick, Challenge Editor.
The State of the Union: Our Real Social WealthBy Dr. Riane Eisler and Kimberly Otis Published in Blogher, January 2012
Dr. Riane Eisler Speaks at UN General Assembly on Sustainable Development ABC Live story on new approaches to economics and development by Dr. Riane Eisler with other world renowned leaders on UN General Assembly panel.
The Full-spectrum, Job-creation Proposal by Dr. Riane Eisler urges for an investment in our human infrastructure'--presented to U.S. President Barack Obama and used by U.S. policy-makers in drafting their final 2009 job creation program.
See more Articles and Resources
Tic are urges, like sneezing
From Jeremy:
I've acknowledged the sniffing thing for months and have refrained from mentioning anything. I even noticed you trying to duck it under the noise gate. I knew it was a tick and figured you'd eventually switch it to another one that listeners wouldn't have to bare. I know you've been through a lot and I'm glad you're working with your therapist. Although it's completely annoying, I hope folks can listen past it and appreciate the actual content of the show that we all value. I believe that now you've addressed it with your audience, it will soon disappear. It does have to stop though as NA can't possibly be called the "Best Podcast in the Universe" with one of the hosts incessantly sniffing. Your a professional dammit, get ahold of yourself!
Theodore Kasczinski "Industrial Society and Its Future"
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''743, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1743^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". January 16, 2003.
Six Week Cycle
TIMER BOMB-Isis-inspired Florida man planned to detonate nail bomb on beach, FBI says | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:31
Harlem Suarez planned an attack on a Florida beach, authorities say. Photograph: Alamy
A man described by the FBI as an Islamic State sympathizer who hoped to mount attacks on US soil was charged on Tuesday with plotting to detonate a nail-filled backpack bomb on a Florida beach.
A criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday charges 23-year-old Harlem Suarez of Key West with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the US. Authorities say Suarez came to the FBI's attention through his Facebook posts praising Isis and containing extremist rhetoric.
In April, Suarez allegedly posted: ''Be a warrior, learn how to cut your enemies head and then burn down the body learn how to be the new future of the world Caliphate'' '' a reference the Isis goal of building a regional fundamentalist entity.
The FBI says he later added a request ''from any brother. How to make a bomb send me a video or something, what do I need to make it.''
Suarez made his first court appearance on Tuesday in Miami and was being held without bail. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
The complaint says Suarez told an FBI informant he wanted to make a timer bomb, bury it on a Key West beach and detonate it remotely. Suarez was arrested on Monday after taking possession of an inert explosive device provided by an FBI informant. Suarez had given the informant some bomb supplies, including two boxes of galvanized nails, the backpack and a cellphone to be used as a detonator, according to the complaint.
''I can go to the beach at the nighttime, put the thing in the sand, cover it up, so the next day I just call and the thing is gonna, is gonna make, a real hard noise from nowhere,'' Suarez told an FBI source in a recorded call, according to the complaint.
Suarez was being monitored for months by US authorities and never made an actual explosive, and there was no indication in the FBI complaint that he had contact with any Isis militants overseas. Still, Miami's FBI special agent in charge, George Piro, said the alleged threats had to be taken seriously.
''There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,'' Piro said.
Among other things, the FBI says Suarez also sought to make an Isis recruitment video using a script he wrote himself. It eventually was made under FBI surveillance at a motel in Homestead, according to the complaint, with Suarez dressed in a black tactical vest, black shirt, mask and yellow-and-black scarf.
''American soil is the past, we will destroy America and divide it in two, we will rais(e) our black flag on top of your white house and any president on duty (cut head),'' Suarez says in a script for the video.
The FBI says Suarez also ordered an AK-47 assault rifle on the internet and intended to have it delivered to a Key West pawn shop. Although he could legally purchase the weapon, the FBI says, Suarez incorrectly filled out paperwork and it was returned to the seller.
Several dozen people have been charged in the US with attempting to fight alongside the Islamic State and other militants or with lending them material support.
Distraction of the Week
clarence from daktari - Google Search
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 02:56
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Lion Murderer Walt Palmer Has Done More For Conservation Than You Have
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:57
Lion murderer Walt Palmer is an asshole. But, he's also an asshole who's contributed more money to animal conservation in Africa than pretty much anyone else. In fact, trophy hunters like him are a large part of the reason we still have animals like lions at all.
Hunting is one of those things that, if you don't do it, probably flies in the face of your carefully curated 21st century morals. Everyone likes animals, so killing them is wrong, right? The fact is that there's far more nuance to the argument than that.
There's the hunting-for-food argument: The animals in question live full, natural lives eating healthy food, running free and fucking their brains out, then die instantaneously with a single, humane shot (at least that's the idea). Conversely, the animals you buy in nice little packages at the supermarket have all been the subjects of industrialized torture. Grass-fed, free-range, GMO-free and organic? Those are just labels; wild-harvested meat is the real health food deal and its superior quality is so great that you can taste it.
There's also the hunting for population control argument: You see, our own population is out of control. So much so that we've altered the natural world almost completely, to the point where it can't exist without our intervention. Nearly every large animal is now the subject of a management plan, where its numbers need regular thinning to ensure the environment is able to support the population and to foster genetic diversity in that population. Sure, the Department of Wildlife Services could just unceremoniously cull numbers (and it does, in vast quantities), but why spend tax money on that when hunters will actually pay to do the same? The number of hunting tags issues per-animal in each state and region is specifically pegged to population control and the fees from them contribute to conservation efforts.
And then there's trophy hunting. Which, full disclosure: I think is dumb. But, because it attaches a large economic incentive to the continued presence of animals that often live in conflict with us humans, it contributes to, if not outright ensures their survival. Let's look at why that is.
First, are there numbers that back this up? Can the link between high-dollar trophy hunting of endangered species and their conservation be quantified? Conservation Magazine studied the issue and found:
''According to a 2005 paper by Nigel Leader-Williams and colleagues in the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy the answer is yes. Leader-Williams describes how the legalization of white rhinoceros hunting in South Africa motivated private landowners to reintroduce the species onto their lands. As a result, the country saw an increase in white rhinos from fewer than one hundred individuals to more than 11,000, even while a limited number were killed as trophies.''
What's going on there is that a specific economic incentive was introduced that benefited the white rhino population. Yes, this resulted in some being killed and turned into the world's most morbid umbrella stands or whatever, but by and large, the white rhino population was able recover from the brink of extinction specifically thanks to trophy hunting.
Your social media outrage didn't save the white rhino in South Africa, assholes like Walt Palmer did.
In fact, conservation and hunting have long gone hand in hand. Noted big game hunter Teddy Roosevelt is widely considered the originator of the modern conservation movement thanks to his acknowledgement that managed use for profit, rather than simply setting aside vast tracts of land for no purpose but preservation, was a viable model for protecting our natural heritage.
Teddy famously stated:
''The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.''
What he and conservationists found was that, to justify its existence in the harsh reality of the human world, nature needed to economically justify its existence.
Today, trophy hunting takes place in 23 sub-Saharan African nations, generating over $200 million and attracting over 18,000 clients each year. That's money spent in the economies of multiple African nations directly pegged to the continuing presence of big game animals. It's a large economic incentive for conservation of these species. And it's growing.
This chart, from a study conducted by the University of Pretoria, demonstrates the increased economic value of trophy hunting in southern Africa. The explosive growth in South Africa is largely due to ranch land that had been dedicated to livestock being given over to game ranching. Elephants and lions are now worth more to landowners than cows and chickens.
Because a hunter like Walt Palmer is prepared to fly over and pay someone a large sum of money to kill a big, endangered critter, an economic opportunity attached to that critter is created. So, an enterprising individual will do anything from breeding to fostering to protecting and/or providing a habitat for a population of those critters. In order for that economic opportunity to last and for the investment to pay off, many more critters need to be added than the Walts of this world can ever kill. And because Walt and his pals want prime examples of that critter hanging on their trophy room walls, those critters need to be happy, healthy and wild. Yes, Walt will kill some of them, but many more will be able to go about their happy, healthy, wild lives as a result.
Yes, most of Walt's spend does get pocketed by greedy capitalist types. But that's the entire idea here. The greedy capitalist types are the ones earning a profit off the happy, healthy, wild population of critters. This isn't some government boondoggle, it's capitalism at its finest, creating employment and making the rich richer and all because they've got that happy, healthy population of critters.
How does the economic impact of hunting compare to tourism? After all, some tourists are paying to see animals, thereby giving them economic value too. In 2013, all tourism (not just people seeing animals) netted the South African economy $5.84 billion, which is a lot more money than hunting brings in.
But, that hunting is taking place in areas where tourists don't often go. Game ranches have reached an equivalent total area to national parks in South Africa, effectively doubling the land on which large animals have to grow and roam.
Trophy hunting is also present in countries which do not otherwise have significant tourist economies, places like Ethiopia, Chad and the Central African Republic. Again providing economic incentive for the conservation of animals that otherwise might not exist in struggling economies and through political instability.
The average tourist in South Africa spends $64 a day on stuff like food and hotel rooms and transportation and maybe even tour of a national park. It costs a hunter up to $35,000 to kill a single lion in that country.
How does the economic benefit of hunting compare to money provided by charities? The World Wildlife Fund, for instance, spends $224 million a year, but that's spread across the globe on programs inducing deforestation, habitat destruction and curbing carbon emissions. Some is spent on anti-poaching initiatives, but it does not equal the economic incentive for conservation in Africa that trophy hunting does.
Trophy hunting is also a powerful anti-poaching tool. If an animal is worth a large sum of money, the people invested in earning that money are motivated to prevent losses. This doesn't help national parks, where hunting of any kind is forbidden, but it does prevent the illegal taking of protected species on private land.
Walt has been photographed with at least one lion kill, previous to the one that caused the current furor. It's been reported that he paid up to $55,000 for this latest hunt. That's at least $100,000 that he's personally put into African economies, money that wouldn't have been spent if there weren't lions to hunt. That's money which is a specific economic motivation for conservation. How much money have you and your Facebook friends contributed directly to big game conservation in Africa? I'm guessing that for most of you, it's much, much less.
The 800lbs gorilla in the room here is obviously the allegedly illegal nature of Walt's hunt. According to reports, the lion he killed was illegally lured out of a national park for the express purpose of the kill (without his knowledge, according to Walt) and the asshole made a bad shot, wounding rather than killing the lion, leading to nearly two days of suffering before another hunter put it out of its misery. All that seriously sucks and just adds layers of asshole to the already asshole act of killing a lion. But, in all this talk of bad Yelp reviews and doxxing and closed dental practices, I figured there should at least be some discussion of the conservation benefits trophy hunting like this does, in fact, bring to animals. All hunters should not be tarred by Walt's brush.
Maybe instead of just tweeting with a hashtag, this encourages you to actually do something substantial for animal conservation, just like Walt Palmer has.
IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Turkey's Attack On ISIS Is A Conspiracy Orchestrated By Obama And Erdogan In Order To Advance The Islamic Caliphate - Walid Shoebat
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 07:52
By Walid Shoebat
The charade began when Americans got excited when Turkish warplanes directly began to target ISIS locations early Saturday for a second straight day. But then all of the sudden, Turkey switched plans and opened a second front, not on ISIS, but against the PKK Kurdish rebel sites that were fighting ISIS.
The Turkish jets then hit shelters and storage facilities belonging to the PKK in seven areas in northern Iraq, including Mount Quandil where there are no ISIS and is where the PKK's headquarters are located. Even the Turkish media outlets were more enthusiastic about the Turkish air force's bombing the Kurdish militia than about bombing ISIS. ''The camps of the PKK,'' they excitedly reported, ''have been covered with fire.''
All this unravelled two days after Obama spoke with Erodgan of Turkey by phone regarding attacks on ISIS and the Kurds.
But the question that begs an answer is that if it is true that Turkey had a sudden willingness to join the fight against ISIS, why then did Turkey orchestrate a second front, not against ISIS, but against the very enemies of ISIS, the Kurdish rebels in Syria and Iraq?
Fact is, for months, Ankara had been reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS despite gains made by the extremist group on Turkey's doorstep. So as it seems, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using it's minor attack on ISIS to deceive the world and use it as a pretext to attack the Kurdish PKK and even block access to all pro-Kurdish newspapers and news agencies which was denied ''by decree of court''.
The strangest observance is that even ISIS, has not so far made any statements regarding Turkey's so-called bombings of ISIS in any of its media outlets.
This makes the situation quite fishy, especially that Obama and Erdogan had a phone conversation on the 22nd of July prior to the attacks on the 24th where Turkey got the green light from Obama. Erdogan himself clearly stated: ''In our phone call with Obama, we reiterated our determination in the struggle against the separatist organization and the Islamic State'' Erdogan told reporters adding that ''we took the first step last night.''
'''...reiterated our determination in the struggle against the separatist organization '...''?
This would be the Kurds, the U.S. allies against ISIS whom Erdogan says that Obama is determined to struggle against. The Kurdish PKK and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG) has been America's most effective battlefield partners against ISIS and Obama says nothing?
Kurdish female fighter
In the American psyche, the Kurds are friends, they even recruit women fighters and have heroic stories on how they were the best boots on the ground to combat ISIS. So Erdogan and Obama had to create a smokescreen. The United States has relied on Syrian Kurdish fighters affiliated with the PKK while making gains against ISIS. So Turkey is at war with U.S. 'friends' more so than they are at war with America's 'enemies' and the latest strikes on ISIS is all a charade.
And if one is to know them by their fruits, there are millions of indigenous Kurds who are continually terrorized and murdered while ISIS terrorists have freely traveled and used official border crossings to go to Syria and return to Turkey; they are even treated at Turkish hospitals by Erdogan's own daughter Sumeyye Erdogan.
With closer cooperation between Iran and the U.S. following a recent nuclear agreement, it then becomes clear that Turkey's shift in policy to show 'a skirmish against ISIS' is necessary and a suicide bombing by ISIS that killed 32 people is easily orchestrated which mainly killed Kurds anyway.
This whole charade is necessary. ISIS is an enemy of Iran as it is an enemy to the U.S. and Turkey walks a tight rope between its Ottoman expansionist dreams into Syria and its apparent alliance with the West. Turkey fears that the increased cooperation between Iran and Washington in the battle against ISIS would sideline Turkey's sphere of influence, so now it needs to have a face for 'a war on ISIS'.
Now the U.S. supposedly got Turkey's promise that it can use Turkish bases at Incirlik, which will soon be open to coalition forces, so they say, to presumably fight ISIS. This remains to be seen. In the past the U.S. had to traverse 1,000 miles to target ISIS in Syria.
Either way, Turkey could care less about the ISIS threat. After all, even if the U.S. eventually defeats ISIS, the United States will clear the runway for the Ottomans to set its foot in Syria as a peacekeeping force just as the United States cleared the runway for Iran to encroach into Iraq and become the peacekeeping force there. Both beasts intend to consume much flesh. It is after all, a Caliphate Agenda in progress while all credit goes to Obama, Islam's man in the White House.
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Ooops - Now Turkey Switches Back
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:17
Turkey is on their own side in the all-against-all fray in Syria and Iraq:
Turkey Attacks Kurdish Militant Camps in Northern Iraq
With the centennial of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire approaching, maybe the Turks see an opportunity for a commemorative revival.
Why Turkey is attacking PKK
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:22
BEIRUT (AP) -- Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a plan to rout the Islamic State group from a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border - a plan that opens the possibility of a safe haven for tens of thousands of displaced Syrians but one that also sets up a potential conflict with U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces in the area.The move further embroils Turkey, a key NATO ally, in Syria's civil war, and also catapults it into a front-line position in the global war against IS.A senior Obama administration official said Monday that U.S. discussions with Turkey about an IS-free zone focused on a 68-mile stretch still under IS control. The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes there, which will accelerate now that the U.S. can launch strikes from Turkish soil, the official said.No agreement between Turkey and the U.S. has yet been finalized, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that any joint military efforts with Turkey would not include the imposition of a no-fly zone. The U.S. has long rejected Turkish and other requests for a no-fly zone to halt Syrian government air raids, fearing it would draw U.S. forces further into the civil war.While details of the buffer-zone plan have yet to be announced, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara and Washington have no intention of sending ground troops into Syria but wanted to see Syria's moderate opposition forces replace IS near the Turkish border."Moderate forces like the Free Syrian Army will be strengthened, a structure will be created so that they can take control of areas freed from ISIL, air cover will be provided. It would be impossible for them to take control of the area without it," Davutoglu told Turkey's A Haber television. ISIL is an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group.The discussions came amid a major tactical shift in Turkey's approach to IS. After months of reluctance, Turkish warplanes started striking militant targets in Syria last week, and allowed the U.S. to launch its own strikes from Turkey's strategically located Incirlik Air Base.Turkey has also called a meeting of its NATO allies for Tuesday to discuss threats to its security and its airstrikes. Davutoglu said "NATO has a duty to protect" Turkey's border with Syria and Iraq, and that Ankara will seek the alliance's support for its actions at the meeting in Brussels.But a Turkish-driven military campaign to push IS out of territory along the Turkish border is likely to complicate matters on the ground.U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, who have been the most successful in the war against IS, control most of the 910 kilometers (565 miles) boundary with Turkey, and have warned Ankara against any military intervention in northern Syria.The Islamic State controls roughly a 60-mile stretch of that border, wedged between Turkish-backed insurgents with Islamist ideologies to the left and Kurdish forces from the People's Protection Unit, known as the YPG, to the right.The Turkish-U.S. plan raises the question of which Syrian rebel forces would be involved in a ground operation against IS. The U.S. has long complained about having no reliable partners among them. Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged earlier this month that the U.S. has only 60 trainees in a program to prepare and arm thousands of moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against IS militants.The Obama administration official said the U.S.-led coalition was looking to anti-IS forces such as Syrian Kurds and the Free Syrian Army. He did not elaborateSyria's main Kurdish militia - the YPG or the People's Protection Units - is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and maintains bases in remote parts of northern Iraq.Nawaf Khalil, head of the Germany-based Kurdish Center for Studies, said Ankara is likely trying to limit advances by the Syrian Kurdish forces by using the war against IS as a pretext and to steer Washington away from the YPG, but "this will not work."In a reflection of the complexities involved, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday refused to draw a distinction between the Islamic State group and the PKK."There is no difference between PKK and Daesh," Cavusoglu said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State group. The PKK is fighting the IS "for power, not for peace, not for security," he said.Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said "Turkey has a right to defend itself" against the PKK.In a series of cross border strikes since Friday, Turkey has not only targeted the IS group but also Kurdish fighters affiliated with forces battling the extremists in Syria and Iraq.Also, the YPG and an activist group said Turkish troops had shelled the Syrian border village of Til Findire, targeting Kurdish fighters and hitting one of their vehicles on Sunday night. The village is east of the border town of Kobani, where the Kurds handed a major defeat to the Islamic State group earlier this year.But Turkish officials dismissed the claims, insisting their forces were only targeting the IS group in Syria, and the PKK in neighboring Iraq.An Ankara official said Turkey returned fire after Turkish soldiers at the border were fired upon, in line with Turkey's rules of engagement."The Syrian Kurds are not a target of the operations. Our operations only target IS in Syria and PKK in Iraq," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without authorization.Late on Monday, a major in Turkey's military police died after suspected PKK militants fired on his car in the southeastern province of Mus, said the region's governor, Vedat Buyukersoy. The major was among the highest ranking Turkish officers to be killed in attacks in recent years.Turkish police raided homes in a neighborhood in the capital earlier in the day, detaining at least 15 people suspected of links to the Islamic State group, the Turkish state-run news agency said. The number of suspects detained in a major anti-terror operation launched on Friday has reached 1,050, according to the office of Turkey's prime minister.However, in the absence of a no-fly zone to neutralize Syrian President Bashar Assad's warplanes, it is not clear how the possible buffer zone may be considered a safe haven where displaced people could return.And despite the U.S. and Turkey's shared interests in fighting the Islamic State, the Turks have also prioritized defeating Assad. While the U.S. says Assad has lost legitimacy, it has not taken direct military action to try to remove him from office and says he is not the target of its efforts in Syria.Ege Seckin, a Turkey expert at IHS Country Risk, said IS is a national security threat for Turkey, but was nonetheless secondary."The two key points in Turkey remain: one - topple the Assad regime, and two - prevent the establishment of a continuous Kurdish territorial entity in the region," he said.---Pace reported from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Bassem Mroue in Beirut; Vivian Salama in Baghdad; Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal and Josh Lederman and Wendy Benjaminson in Washington contributed to this report.
Jonathan Idema - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 03:53
Jonathan IdemaIdema during his 2004 trial in Kabul, Afghanistan.
BornJonathan Keith Idema(1956-05-30)May 30, 1956Poughkeepsie, New York, USADiedJanuary 21, 2012(2012-01-21) (aged 55)[1]Bacalar, MexicoJonathan Keith "Jack" Idema (May 30, 1956 '' January 21, 2012) was a former army reserve special operations non-commissioned officer with a controversial history. In September 2004 he was found guilty of running a private prison in Afghanistan and torturing Afghan citizens. At the time, Idema had been portraying himself as a U.S. government-sponsored special forces operative on a mission to apprehend terrorists. However, the U.S. government has repeatedly denied most of such claims.[2]
Idema was released early by Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai in April 2007, departing Afghanistan in early June, having served three years of a ten-year sentence.[3]
Idema died of AIDS in Mexico in late January 2012.[1]
Questionable behavior[edit]At the center of the controversy is Idema's claim that while in Afghanistan he was acting on behalf of the U.S. government and that he was an advisor to the Northern Alliance. At other times, Idema told people he was in Afghanistan doing humanitarian work or that he was a "security consultant" for journalists.[4] He also actively sought media attention for himself and his activities '' to the point of offering interviews in return for payment '' even though he himself said he was operating covertly.[5][6]
Many believe Idema to be a con artist or impostor, based on his refusal or inability to demonstrate verifiable proof for his claims, on legal records that contradict his assertions about his background, as well as on a prior conviction for mail fraud and a history of criminal activity. Some have suggested that he may also be delusional in having concocted a fantasy-type personality for himself as a highly trained covert operative combating international terrorism, despite a brief and mostly non-notable military record (which states that Idema was in the Special Forces strictly in a support capacity).[7] This opinion was echoed by Major Scott Nelson, the U.S. military spokesperson in Kabul at the time of Idema's arrest in 2004.[6] The judge in Idema's 1994 fraud trial also questioned Idema's psychological state and ordered him to undergo evaluation prior to his sentencing. The report said that while he was not "mentally ill", Idema had a "personality disorder which would affect his interaction with persons exhibiting similar traits, such as supervisors, attorneys, doctors, judges and other persons in positions of power or authority."[8]
In the early 1990s, Idema said he had uncovered a plot by the Russian mafia to smuggle nuclear weapons out of Russia. Before that he said he participated in covert operations in Latin America. Furthermore, he said that as a soldier he parachuted out of airplanes accompanied by his dog Sarge, who was also trained as a bomb-sniffer. (Idema reportedly saved Sarge's genetic material with the hopes of later cloning the pet.)[9]
Idema was not without his supporters, usually found among blogs sympathetic to his situation. The contributors to these blogs believe that he is being unjustly punished for actions condoned, if not officially sanctioned, by the U.S. military. However, there has been little support for Idema's claims in general media outlets. Indeed, many members of the media who encountered Idema while they were on assignment in Afghanistan regard him as a fraud.[5][6]
Idema was litigious, filing law suits or threatening legal action against his detractors '' usually those who have disclosed information about his past, but also those whom he has accused of fraud or libel. For instance, he tried to sue Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Studios over the 1997 film The Peacemaker.[10] Idema charged that the Special Forces operative played by George Clooney was modeled on him. A judge dismissed Idema's claim and ordered him to pay US$267,079 in attorney fees.[11]
Early life[edit]Idema was raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, graduating from high school there in 1974. In February 1975 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His father H. John Idema, a former Marine and World War IIveteran, believed that his son was a "dedicated American".[8][12] H. John Idema died in November 2008.[13]
Military service[edit]There is a discrepancy between what Idema says his military experience was as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces and what is stated in his official military record. Idema has repeatedly stated on television, radio, and in writing that he acquired 12 years of Special forces service, 22 years of combat training, and 18 years of covert operations experience.[14]
Idema's military career was short and contained several reports of poor performance, with no record that he acquired any combat experience. Two years after enlisting in the Army in 1975, he qualified for the Special Forces.[14]
According to his military record obtained in the course of his 1994 fraud trial, after serving one term of service Idema was not allowed to reenlist, likely due to poor performance. He had received numerous negative remarks from superior officers in addition to participating in three non-judicial punishment proceedings. Idema was cited for "failure to obey orders, being derelict in the performance of his duty, and being disrespectful to a superior commanding officer."[15] One superior officer, Capt. John D. Carlson stated that Idema "is without a doubt the most unmotivated, unprofessional, immature enlisted man I have ever known."[15][16]
However, he was given an honorable discharge and allowed to join the United States Army Reserve 11th Special Forces Group working to provide logistical support.[7] In a November 1, 1980 letter of reprimand, Major Paul R. Decker wrote that Idema "consistently displayed an attitude of noncooperation with persons outside his immediate working environment, disregard for authority and gross immaturity characterized by irrationality and a tendency toward violence."[15] In January 1981, Idema was relieved of his Army Reserve duties, his last position was the assistant sergeant of operations and intelligence.[15] After leaving the Army reserves, he became a member of the Individual Ready Reserve until he left the military completely in 1984.[14]
Business interests[edit]Several years after he left the Army, Idema became involved in the paintball business, opening a paintball supply and equipment company in Fayetteville, North Carolina named Idema Combat Systems. He later segued that business into a paramilitary clothier and supply company operating under the same name.[7][17]
Sometime in the early 1980s Idema founded Counterr Group (also known as US Counter-Terrorist Group), a business entity which, according to its website, specializes in expert training for counter-terrorism, assault tactics and other security-related services.[18]
Counterr Group's legal status and ownership is questionable '' according to a Soldier of Fortune article published in 2004, Idema is mentioned as the owner.[19] The company website lists a PO Box address in Fayetteville, but there is no record of the company's registration in that state. However, a company called "Counter Group, Inc." was incorporated in 1997 by William L. London, a lawyer who has represented Idema in several lawsuits. (The status for this company is listed as "suspended" as of 2004.)[20]
The only company in North Carolina registered to Jonathan Idema is Idema Combat Systems, which according to state records was incorporated in January 1991 and dissolved in July 1994.[21] Moreover, the websites for Counterr Group are registered to Thomas R. Bumback,[22] a business associate of Idema's who is believed to be the company's current director.[4][5] There is a record of Counterr Group being formed in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1983, but the company is listed as "inactive."[23]
Idema also owned a company called Special Operations Exposition and Trade Show Inc which hosted organized conventions for military equipment suppliers.[24]
There are two other known companies '' Isabeau Dakota, Inc. and Star America Aviation Company, Ltd. '' that have connections to Idema. The latter claims to be an aviation support company founded in July 2008 with operations based out of Dubai.[25] Both companies are registered to William "Skip" London in North Carolina,[26][27] but Isabeau Dakota is listed a shell company; its last annual report, filed in 2002, identifies "H. John Idema" (Idema's father) of Poughkeepsie, New York as president and sole officer, and it lists no significant assets or business activity.[26] The website for Star America Aviation is also registered to Bumback[28] and the websites for Counterr Group and Star America Aviation are very similar, including the use of imagery depicting Idema, while he was in Afghanistan and prior to his arrest.[18][25]
According to his father's obituary notice, Idema is said to be a "Green Beret with an organization involved in the War on Terror."[13] Idema's former Afghan charity[29] "Northern Alliance Assistance" at 450 Robeson Street, Fayetteville, NC 28302 is now listed as a dog kennel.[30]
Idema became a proprietor of Blue Lagoon Boat Tours out of Bacalar, Mexico.[citation needed] using the false name of "Jack Black". He was charged by his wife Penny Alesi of attempted murder and infecting her with HIV. His arrest warrant and publicity surrounding the wife beating charges were picked up in a number of local Mexican newspapers and the US media. Specifically Wired Danger Room, Virginian Pilot and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC on YouTube as well as other blogs.
Fraud conviction[edit]In addition to his occasional entrepreneurial pursuits, Idema has a substantial criminal record. Over the years Idema has been charged with impersonating an officer, conspiracy, passing bad checks, assault, possession of stolen property, and discharging a firearm into a dwelling. In January 1994, Idema was arrested and charged with 58 counts of wire fraud defrauding 59 companies of about $260,000. He was convicted of the charges, sentenced to six years in prison (paroled after having served three years) and was subsequently ordered to pay restitution.[5][7]
On August 15, 2001 a jury awarded Idema $781,818 for property damage and $1 million for punitive damages. The award came after a jury decided that a property manager improperly sold some of his belongings while Idema was serving his fraud sentence. Two property managers were hired by Idema to take care of a building that housed equipment for two of his businesses, Special Operations Exposition and Trade Show Inc., and Idema Combat Systems. According to the lawsuit, equipment was missing, damaged or destroyed, and holes were punched in the walls of the building. Idema sued both property managers and their wives on April 10, 2000, but everyone except for one property manager was later dropped from the suit.[31]
In June 2005, an investigator sued Idema alleging that he wasn't paid when Idema won the 1.8 million dollar lawsuit. The investigator claimed that Idema orally agreed to pay 15% of any amount collected, he also claimed that Idema failed to pay court reporters, expert witnesses, and others who helped him with his case. Idema never collected the 1.8 million because the property manager that was found guilty declared bankruptcy and Idema settled for 650,000 dollars that he obtained through law suits filed against insurance carriers. Idema's father was the insured.[32]
Lithuania and nuclear weapons smuggling[edit]In 1993 Idema was contracted to train police forces in the former Soviet republic of Lithuania. After his return, he contacted officials from both the Pentagon and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), claiming to have uncovered a conspiracy by the Russian Mafia to smuggle nuclear material out of Lithuania. According to Idema, FBI agents demanded he provide the names of his contacts. He refused, claiming that the FBI was infiltrated by KGB agents and that his sources would have been killed.[12]
It was around this time that Idema was being investigated for wire fraud and eventually convicted in 1994. Idema asserted that the fraud charges were fabricated by FBI agent Earl Edwin Pitts, who he claims supervised the case against him, in retaliation for Idema's earlier refusal to provide sources in the smuggling plot.[33] However, the FBI began their investigation into Idema's activities as early as May 1991, before he even approached the Bureau about Lithuania.[4] Furthermore, there is no evidence that Pitts was involved in any capacity in the fraud case against Idema.[citation needed]
Afghanistan[edit]Entry and credentials[edit]Illegal entry into Afghanistan was one of the charges leveled against Idema and two other Americans accompanying him '' former soldier Brent Bennett and televisionjournalistEdward Caraballo. That charge was eventually dropped.[citation needed]
Idema first traveled to Afghanistan in November 2001 to conduct what he said was "humanitarian relief" work.[34] It was at this time that he involved himself in the research Robin Moore was conducting for his book The Hunt for Bin Laden. He was actually working for National Geographic with Gary Scurka.
According to Gary Scurka, a reporter for CBS News, Idema contacted him a few weeks after the September 11 terror attacks and announced he was going to Afghanistan to do humanitarian-aid work, saying he was to work with Knightsbridge International and the Partners International Foundation, two aid groups run by former military personnel.[12] This led to Scurka and Idema presenting a film documentary project for National Geographic.[35]
Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long traveled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan where they were arrested for visa problems and held in a cell overnight. The three were freed after their captors received a letter from the US embassy in Uzbekistan, written by an officer in the US Defense Attache's Office, describing Idema and Scurka as "contracting officers from the Defense Department who arrived to the Republic of Uzbekistan for an official trip." The letter, which was verified as authentic by the director of the Department of State's press office, was dated November 2, 2001 and asks Uzbekistan's ministry of foreign affairs for help in issuing visas to Idema, Gary Scurka, and Greg Long.[36]
Greg Long was a member of Partners International Foundation. According to sources familiar with Idema's activities in Afghanistan[who?], Idema joined Partners International Foundation at the same time Scurka received a National Geographic assignment to produce a documentary on humanitarian aid work in Afghanistan. A memo signed by the president of National Geographic TV says Scurka would be going to Afghanistan with KnightsBridge International, and the leader of KnightsBridge, Ed Artis, would be working with Idema. Artis was sued by Idema.[36]
Author Robert Young Pelton believes that Idema then used those letters and what appears to be a falsified or modified military ID. Idema claimed he had a visa similar to those carried by US special forces[37] to convince the Afghan commanders and other people of his official status.[38][39]
After Idema entered Afghanistan, both humanitarian organizations quickly became wary of Idema's intentions. In December 2001, Edward Artis, director of Knightsbridge, wrote to U.S. Army Special Operations Command warning them of Idema's activities, stating:
''[Idema] is a very dangerous person by virtue of his carelessness and stupidity, and before he gets someone killed... he needs to be removed from the area. I feel that given the amount of time that he has been allowed to run around telling people he has been working for the U.S. Embassy, Pentagon, Special Ops under cover or the CIA, that he has garnered or bought enough contacts to pose a real threat to not only me and those near me but the over all mission of the United States and the Coalition that is fighting there."[14]''Idema later filed suit against Artis and Knightsbridge but the case was dismissed and a monetary judgement was in turn placed against him.[14]
Activities[edit]Idema led a group he called "Task Force Saber 7" consisting of two other Americans and several Afghans. The group may have been operating in Afghanistan with independent financial backing or with funds from two lawsuit settlements Idema had won a few years earlier, one of which was for $1.8 million.[40][41] He frequently interacted with reporters, often going to great lengths in his interviews to stress connections with the CIA and Special Forces. Some supporters suggest that he was a former member of an unspecified covert operations unit, reactivated and positioned in Afghanistan to hunt for Osama Bin Laden under operation Alec Station. Relationship to the Northern Alliance was denied by their official representative in the United States.
Some critics of Idema claim that his attempts to create a high profile with the media make it unlikely that Idema was officially connected with any branch of the military; covert operatives go to great lengths to avoid public appearances and media, and are barred from unauthorized contact. The fact that Caraballo, who was not a soldier, was with Idema in Afghanistan to document his activities strained credibility that Idema was operating covertly.[42]
Idema was known to have a volatile temper that seemed to be particularly directed against news correspondents assigned to Kabul. On several occasions, Idema threatened journalists with bodily harm or death, and in one particular instance, at a dinner in December 2001 he threatened to kill a reporter from Stars and Stripes because the reporter had disclosed Idema's fraud conviction.[43]
It has been recorded that Idema did frequently contact the Defense Department through the front office of General William G. Boykin, and that his information was duly acknowledged. However, all of those contacts were outside the US Military operating channels and were all one-sided calls from Idemas personal phone. Boykins office repeatedly asked Idema to stop making these unsolicited phone calls, because they were disruptive; time consuming; and Boykin could not be of assistance. Idema continued calling Boykins office to establish some sort of self-serving relationship, until his arrest. While the US government was aware of Idema's activities in Afghanistan, they stated there was unequivocally no relationship between them.
The United States Central Command stated that Coalition forces received one detainee from Idema on May 3, 2004. Idema claimed that the individual was associated with the Taliban. Once in US custody, however, the detainee was determined not to be who Idema claimed, and was released in the first week of July.[44]
The United States was not the only government that had contact with Idema in Afghanistan; On three occasions, Idema tricked the Canadian led NATO mission into providing explosives experts and bomb sniffing dogs.[45] According to a spokesman for the ISAF, Idema called for and received technical support after his vigilante team raided compounds on June 20, 22, and 24 of 2004. ISAF personnel believed they were "providing legitimate support to a legitimate security agency."[45]
Idema also received assistance from Yunus Qanooni; former minister, senior Afghan government security advisor, and influential member of the Northern Alliance.[46] In one video tape presented at Idema's trial, Yunus Qanooni thanked Idema for uncovering an assassination plot against him. In the same tape Qanooni volunteered his personal security troops to help Idema with arrests.[47] Another tape appeared to show Qanooni's forces assisting Idema in a house raid.[46]
On July 4, 2004 the United States Central Command released a media advisory that read:
''U.S. citizen Jonathan K. Idema has allegedly represented himself as an American government and/or military official. The public should be aware that Idema does not represent the American government and we do not employ him.[42][44]''In perhaps the most terse assessment of Idema's alleged involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom, Billy Waugh, senior CIA covert operative and decorated former Green Beret who was a member of the Agency-run "Jawbreaker" team, said:
''We only had 80 guys involved in our [Afghanistan] operations and Idema wasn't one of them.[48]''Arrest, trial and sentencing[edit]Idema and his associates Brent Bennett and Edward Caraballo were arrested on July 5, 2004 by Afghan police during a raid in which they found eight Afghan men (some hanging from their feet) bound and hooded in detention. The arrest of Idema occurred only about three months after 60 Minutes II broke the story about the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.
Idema claimed to have had private contact with Lieutenant General Boykin and several other senior Pentagon officials. Regarding Boykin, Idema somehow obtained the phone number for Boykins office in the Pentagon and started making unsolicited calls from Afghanistan via his SatPhone. He was looking to establish a relationship with Boykin's office (or anyone else) to obtain funding for his efforts. The executive assistants answering Boykins phone couldn't stop Idema's constant and unwanted calls, emails, and faxes. Other senior officials in Boykins office ultimately intervened, and Idema was asked on multiple occasions to "cease and desist" with his unsolicited calls. Idema ignored these requests and continued making random phone calls to Boykins front office until his arrest. Idema subsequently stated that he had a relationship with Boykins office. The only relationship that ever existed had to do with personnel in Boykins office politely trying to get Idema to stop his unwanted phone calls, emails, and faxes.
He tried further to prove his official status when he claimed to be working for the US Counter Terrorism group, the same group that some sources say he founded.[49] He claimed his group had prevented assassination attempts on Education Minister Yunus Qanooni and Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim. He also claimed the FBI interrogated several militants captured by his group and that after his arrest, the FBI removed from his premises hundreds of videos, photos and documents. Some of the pieces were later returned to Idema and his defense team. One of the videotapes shows Afghanistan's former education minister Yunus Qanooni thanking Idema for the arrest of two people, and offering his full cooperation in future raids.
The Defense Department's only official contact with Idema was accepting one prisoner who was held for a month by the US military[50] but added that officials declined his offer to work with the government in capturing terror suspects in Afghanistan. In early 2004, Idema was in contact with Heather Anderson, the Pentagon's Acting Director of Security. Anderson was under the supervision of the chief official responsible for intelligence matters in Donald Rumsfeld's office. Idema told the Afghan court that Anderson commended his work but Anderson said she later turned down Idema's request to work in Afghanistan for the Pentagon. Idema continued to contact Anderson's office in hopes of establishing a relationship.[51]
Idema, Caraballo and Bennett were charged with entering the country illegally, running a private prison, and torture.[12] Idema's American attorney was John Tiffany. During the trial, Idema charged that he, Caraballo, and Bennett were being beaten while in Afghan custody; however, US authorities stated the men were being treated humanely.
On 15 September 2004, a three-judge Afghan panel headed by Judge Abdul Baset Bakhtyari sentenced both Idema and Bennett to a ten-year prison term, while Caraballo received eight years. Idema and Bennett's sentences were later cut to five and three respectively. Caraballo claimed he was filming Idema and Bennett for a documentary on counterterrorism. Four Afghans working with Idema were sentenced to between one and five years imprisonment.
Caraballo was later pardoned by President Hamid Karzai and later returned to the United States. Bennett was freed early for good behavior on September 30, 2006.
Caraballo's lawyer said that the day before Caraballo left Afghanastan, Caraballo and Bennett lived in a filthy 6 by 8-foot cell with four suspected Al Qaida terrorists; the American prisoners were moved to a different prison for better protection.[52] In a more recent assessment, the cell in which the prisoners lived was described as "posh".[53]
Amnesty and refusal to leave prison[edit]On April 10, 2007, the Associated Press reported that Idema would soon be released from prison and then sent back to the United States, and that the Afghan government had granted him amnesty.[54] However, under the amnesty that commuted his sentence he was effectively released on April 4.
Idema refused to leave the prison, first demanding that his passport, personal effects, and documents that he says proves his official connection with the US government be returned to him. According to him, he was owed compensation for $500,000 worth of equipment, mostly computers, weapons and cameras, that was confiscated by the Afghan government when he was arrested.[55] Having obtained through the offices of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul a new passport as well as money to apply for a visa to India, Idema insisted that his belongings be returned and that a pet dog previously owned by Bennett be allowed to travel with him.[56][57]
Idema also filed another lawsuit against the US government, reaffirming allegations initially made in 2005 that he and his associates had been illegally imprisoned, except that this time, Idema was claiming that he was tortured. According to US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, "Petitioners allege that United States officials ordered their arrest, ordered their torture, stole exculpatory evidence during their trial and appeal, exerted undue influence over Afghan judges, and either directly or indirectly ordered judges who found petitioners innocent not to release petitioners from prison." This was a shift from the earlier strategy on the part of Idema to exonerate himself on the basis that he was acting on a Pentagon-approved mission. Instead the focus was on the trial itself, specifically whether or not due process was observed, with the added claim of being a torture victim. In both instances Idema accused the U.S. government of deliberately withholding information.[58]
Judge Sullivan subsequently ordered the FBI and the US Department of State to answer the allegations. Attorneys from the US Justice Department have requested the case be dismissed on the grounds that Idema's sentence had been commuted.[54][59] Idema's lawyer said the government coordinated Idema's amnesty to avoid having to respond to allegations of misconduct.[56][60]
Idema's allegations of withheld evidence were originally made during his Afghan trial in 2004. When the men were arrested in early July, the tapes were confiscated by the FBI. Caraballo's lawyer, Michael Skibbie, claims that he was only allowed to access a portion of the tapes weeks after he requested access. Several of the tapes were used; however, Skibbie said several important tapes were damaged, missing or partly erased after the FBI took custody of them. Some of the footage Skibbie obtained was shown in court. The court tapes showed Idema being greeted at an airport by high level Afghan officials, Idema being thanked by Yunus Qanuni, Qanooni's troops working with Idema, captured suspects confessing during interrogation, and ISAF forces helping Idema.[47][50]
As he was playing out his legal options, Idema said that another reason he hadn't left was because he feared for his life, ostensibly at the hands of the Afghan government. "I could drive through the Policharki [sic] gates right now. Then what happens? I get arrested. [The intelligence service] will arrest me for not having an Afghan visa and they'll torture me and kill me. If I'm lucky, I'm only going to be tortured," he said.[55] On June 2, 2007, Idema left the prison and was immediately flown out of the country.[citation needed]
Relationship with the media[edit]Idema had some success convincing members of the media that he was a terrorism expert. This allowed him to secure interviews and in some instances get his "terrorism videos" broadcast on television. After indicating to journalists that he had the videos in his possession, he would usually agree to provide them in exchange for money.[5][61] Since Idema's questionable history has come to light, the news media has been criticized for its willingness to distribute any content or information coming from him.
Lithuania[edit]In 1995, while Idema was awaiting sentencing for fraud charges, he agreed to provide information to CBS News about the nuclear materials smuggling plot he allegedly uncovered. Gary Scurka produced a 60 Minutes piece entitled "The Worst Nightmare", based in part on Idema's account. According to Scurka, the network declined to credit Idema during the broadcast because of the fraud conviction, even though he was a major source for the story. A CBS spokesperson claimed that the story took 6 months to fully investigate, by which time it was very different from the one Idema gave.[5] Both the 60 Minutes story and a companion piece published in US News and World Report received the prestigious "Renner Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting".[5][62]
The lack of credit given to Idema prompted Scurka and Caraballo to begin making a documentary film with the working title, Any Lesser Man: The Keith Idema Story. According to promotional materials, the documentary was to be "the real story of one lone Green Beret's private war against KGB Nuclear Smuggling, Soviet spies, Arab terrorists, and the FBI." It was never completed.[5][12]
Marecek murder trial[edit]Idema and Scurka again worked together as consultants for the 48 Hours story about Colonel George Marecek, a highly decorated Special Forces soldier accused and later convicted of murdering his wife. The two were fired from the project because they were determined to be taking an advocacy role for the defense. They opened a "Free Marecek" office in the town where the trial was taking place. In December 2000, 48 Hours ran the story on Marecek which included material from Idema, and Scurka's research.[5] Idema also took a leading part in the formation of Point Blank News (PBN) to support Marecek.[63]
September 11 attacks[edit]On the day following the attacks, Idema gave an interview as a "counterterrorism adviser" to KTTV, the Fox network affiliate in Los Angeles. During his broadcast news appearance, he said that the hijackers might have seized three Canadian jetliners, in addition to four American planes.[5]
Afghanistan[edit][edit]Idema sold tapes to many publishers that he claimed showed an Al Qaeda training camp in action. The tapes showed men in camouflaged tunics and ski masks storming buildings, practicing drive-by shootings, and attacking golf courses. CBS bought the right to broadcast the tapes before any other network, they were used in a 60 Minutes II episode called, "Heart of Darkness" in mid January 2002.[5] CBS presented Idema and the tapes he supplied as reliable.[64]
Idema made more money from the same tapes when he sold them to The Boston Globe, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, the BBC, and others rights to rebroadcast the Al Qaeda training camp footage with still pictures.[5]
The authenticity of the several hours of tape is disputed because the supposed tactics shown are not ones Al Qaeda operatives utilize. Moreover, men who were shown in the footage occasionally communicated in English and laughed, providing credence to the notion that the tapes were fake and entirely staged.[5] Some major outlets, including NBC Nightly News and CNN declined to broadcast the tapes because of the credibility issue.
Idema in September 2008 Al Qaeda video[edit]Al Qaeda itself appears to have used some of Idema's footage in their September 2008 video release. In a segment released by ABC, Idema appears "to threaten to kill an Afghan citizen during an interrogation." Al Qaeda claims to have "captured" the footage from Idema, but its provenance remains unclear.[65]
[edit]Idema sought to show that he had inside knowledge of Al Qaeda's collaboration with state governments, although his statements would not be considered particularly insightful, correct or original. For instance, he has made suggestions that there was collaboration among North Korea, several Middle-Eastern countries and Al Qaeda, and that was ample evidence linking "Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to Al Qaeda and to the attacks on September 11," and that in Afghanistan, the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda was "common knowledge." He also has said that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a supporter of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations "with money, with equipment, with technology, with weapons of mass destruction."[5][66] He also claimed to have firsthand knowledge of nuclear weapons being smuggled from Russia to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.[5]
Idema in September 2009 Al Qaeda video[edit]An Al Qaeda video released in September 2009 appears to contain video clips of Idema torturing an Afghan by dunking his head in a bucket of water. This footage was used to make the case that the US is involved in torture in Afghanistan.[67]
Media coverage[edit]Task Force Dagger: The Hunt for bin Laden (ISBN 0-375-50861-9), by The Green Berets author Robin Moore, had sections devoted to Idema, referred to in the book as a special forces operative named "Jack" (he was also featured on the book's cover). Unknown to Moore, Idema had added a number of fictional episodes to the book that he would later use to support his claims. In the manuscript Idema also included appeals for donations to charities listed under his and his wife's address '' charities that have since come under investigation. He managed to do this by altering the final manuscript without Moore's consent before it was sent to the publisher. Random House quietly dropped the book from print after publishing what had become a work of fiction that even its author had disavowed.[14] Moore has since regretted Idema's involvement and insisted that the publisher refused to include his corrections.[5]Robert Young Pelton, in his book about private security contractors, Licenced to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror (ISBN 1-4000-9781-9), devotes a chapter to Idema's exploits in Afghanistan, including his controversial involvement in Moore's book Task Force Dagger: The Hunt for bin Laden.Mariah Blake, "Tin Soldier: An American Vigilante In Afghanistan, Using the Press for Profit and Glory,"Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2005.Stacy Sullivan, "Operation Desert Fraud: How Keith Idema marketed his imaginary Afghan war,"New York Magazine, October 25, 2004.Peter Bergen's article published in Rolling Stone, "Jack Idema: Shadow Warrior," examines Idema's military career.Eric Campbell's book on reporting in war zones, Absurdistan (ISBN 0-7322-7980-1), has a few chapters on Idema.Idema's claims are given full support in Barry Farber's NewsMaxcolumn"The Case Against Keith Idema, July 22, 2004.Newsweek had a short section on Idema called "An Afghan Mystery" by John Barry and Owen Matthews in the July 26, 2004 edition.In February 2009, in an article entitled Laptop may hold key to high-level scam, the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana wrote of a police report that Idema had attempted to obtain a laptop used by jailed military imposter Joseph A. Cafasso, also a former Fox News consultant, from the 63-year-old woman with woman Cafasso had recently been living. The woman was frightened of Idema and so turned the laptop over to police.Wired Danger Room,Narco Blog,Sipse - Mercenary Located in Bacalar,Informativa - Denounced for Rape and Abuse, NotaCaribe - Former Green Beret Investigated for Domestic Violence in Bacalar,DQR - Rambo Barricaded in Bacalar,DQR - Enslaved by Rambo,DQR - Soulless Green Beret,DQR - More Niceties of the Green Beret,DQR - Rambo Slave with AIDSIdema died of AIDS on January 21, 2012 in Mexico.[68][69][70][71][72][73][74]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abPrice, Jay (25 January 2012). "Fayetteville Con Man Dies in Mexico". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 31 January 2012. ^David Rodhe (2004-07-23). "U.S. Army Accepted Afghan Prisoner From Vigilante Suspect". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-10-18. American military officials said they took the Afghan man into custody because Mr. Idema identified him as a terrorist wanted by American forces. But interrogators determined that the Afghan was not the suspected terrorist Mr. Idema claimed him to be, and freed the man ^"Afghans free US 'bounty hunter'". BBC News. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-13. ^ abcBergen, Peter. "Jack Idema: The Shadow Warrior". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2009. ^ abcdefghijklmnopBlake, Mariah; A.G. Basoli (January 2005). "Tin Soldier: An American Vigilante In Afghanistan, Using the Press for Profit and Glory". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2006-12-27. ^ abcEhrlich, Richard S. (August 28, 2004). "U.S. mercenary made his mark with viciousness". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-03-30. ^ abcdSengupta, Kim (July 11, 2004). "Bad company: `Jack' Idema and the bounty hunters of Kabul". London: The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2007-03-10. Records show that Idema served with the 11th Special Forces Group as a "rigger" '' essentially a supporting role ensuring that equipment and supplies reached those in the frontline. ^ abBarnes, Greg (July 10, 2007). "Pride, prison shadow Idema". Article ID: 6446821 (The Fayetteville Observer). Retrieved 2007-03-05. ^Rohde, David (July 11, 2004). "Portrait of a U.S. Vigilante in Afghanistan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-05. ^"Adventures of Jonathan Idema in Kabul". Court TV. Retrieved 2006-12-16. ^"U.S. Says American Detainees Not Beaten". Yahoo News, reposted on forum. August 24, 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-16. ^ abcdeSullivan, Stacy (2004-10-04). "Keith Idema's Operation Desert Fraud". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2007-04-10. ^ ab"H. John Idema". Poughkeepsie Journal. November 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-09. ^ abcdefRobberson, Tod (2004-08-30). "Records seem to discredit self-proclaimed Special Forces expert.....Out of service since '84, man accused in Afghan case never saw combat". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2007-03-10. According to a copy of his military records, Mr. Idema trained and qualified for Special Forces in 1977. Mr. Idema then switched to reserve status, where he remained until he left the Army in 1984. There is no record of any combat service. ^ abcdKing, Mary F. (June 15, 1994). "Facsimile of a memorandum regarding Jonathan Keith Idema"(PDF). United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina. Retrieved 2007-04-09. ^Young Pelton, Robert (2006). Licenced to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror. Random House. p. 241. ^""Good" Paintball Equipment". Orion Foundation. Retrieved 2007-03-07. ^ ab"Counter-Terrorist Group". Official website. Retrieved 2007-03-29. ^Brass, Martin (August 2004). "After a Lifetime of Skating on the Edge, Has Keith "Jack" Idema Finally Slid Over?". Soldier of Fortune. Retrieved 2007-06-05. ^"Record for Counter Group, Inc.". North Carolina Secretary of State. Retrieved 2007-06-04. ^"Record for Idema Combat Systems". North Carolina Secretary of State. Retrieved 2007-06-04. ^"WHOIS search results for". Network Solutions. Retrieved 2007-06-04. ^"NYS Department of State Division of Corporations Entity Information: Counterr Group, Inc.". New York State Department of State. Retrieved 2007-06-04. ^Greenwood, Al (2001-08-16). "Jury Awards Former Soldier 1.8 Million". Fayetteville Observer. pp. 1A, 5A. ^ ab"STAR America Aviation Services Group". Retrieved 2008-08-20. ^ ab"Record for Isabeau Dakota, Inc.". North Carolina Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-08-20. ^"Record for Star America Aviation Company, Ltd.". North Carolina Secretary of State. Retrieved 2008-08-20. ^"WHOIS search results for". Network Solutions. Retrieved 2008-08-20. ^J.S. Newton (November 27, 2001). "Fayetteville's Idema doing 'humanitarian relief' work in Afghanistan". Reprinted from the Fayetteville Observer. ^"The Ultimate Pet Resort- Home Page". ^Greenwood, Al (2001-08-16). "Jury Awards Former Soldier 1.8 Million". Fayetteville Observer. pp. 1A, 5A. ^Greenwood, Al (2005-07-03). "Fayetteville man sues Idema". Fayetteville Observer. ^Farber, Barry (2004-07-22). "The Case of Keith Idema". Newsmax. Retrieved 2006-12-17. ^Newton, J.S. (November 27, 2001). "Fayetteville man in Afghanistan". Article ID: 750924 (The Fayetteville Observer). ^Pelton. Licensed to Kill (op. cit.). p. 233. ^ abBarnes, Greg (2004-08-22). "Embassy letter opened doors". Fayetteville Observer. pp. 1A, 5A. ^"Profile: Jonathan 'Jack' Idema". BBC News. 2004-09-15. Retrieved 2007-07-04. ^"Dog of War". Asia Times Online. 2004-08-21. Retrieved 2007-01-15. ^Pelton. Licensed to Kill (op. cit.). ^Greenwood, Al (July 3, 2005). "Fayetteville man sues Idema". The Fayetteville Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-04-09. ^Greenwood, Al (August 16, 2001). "Jury awards former soldier $1.8 million". Article ID: 727104 (The Fayetteville Observer). ^ ab"Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees". CNN broadcast transcript. Do secret warriors, people working in black ops, do they usually have cameramen following them? ^Ehrlich, Richard S. (August 28, 2004). "U.S. mercenary made his mark with viciousness". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-03-30. In one truly terrifying display, Mr. Idema threatened to murder an American reporter working for Stars and Stripes newspaper after the journalist revealed that Mr. Idema served time in a U.S. prison several years earlier for a "white-collar crime." ^ ab"News Release No. 04-07-43: Detainee Received from Jonathan Keith Idema". Headquarters United States Central Command. July 22, 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-15. [dead link]^ ab"Mercenaries dupe ISAF soldiers in Afghanistan". CBC News. 2004-07-15. Retrieved 2014-05-11. ^ ab"Footage gives credence to torture suspects' claims". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2007-03-10. ^ abConstable, Pamela (2004-08-24). "Alleged Vigilantes Show Footage of Afghan Operations U.S. Defendants Seen Meeting Officials". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-14. ^Pelton. op. cit. p. 239. ^Denyer, Simon (2004-08-16). "Private Jail Leads to Trial". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-07. ^ abTulley, Andrew (July 2004). "US now linked to 'vigilantes' in Afghanistan". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2007-09-14. ^North, Andrew (August 2004). "US admits 'bounty hunter' contact". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-06-02. ^Barnes, Greg (September 25, 2004). "Idema moved to new prison". Article ID: 965377 (The Fayetteville Observer). ^Barnes, Greg (April 1, 2005). "Court cuts Idema time". Article ID: 996570 (The Fayetteville Observer). ^ abApuzzo, Matt (April 11, 2007). "Idema to leave Afghan prison". Associated Press (The Fayetteville Observer). Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-04-11. ^ ab"American convict decides to stay in Afghan jail despite president's pardon". Associated Press (International Herald Tribute). May 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. ^ abJ.K. Idema, et al., v. Ronald Neumann, et al., No.5 CV 2064 (EGS), United States District Court for the District of Columbia, "Reply Memorandum in Support of Respondents' Motion to Dismiss on Grounds of Mootness"^J.K. Idema, et al., v. Ronald Neumann, et al., No.5 CV 2064 (EGS), United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Exhibit 1: "Supplemental Declaration of Edward P. Birsner."^"US 'to release Kabul trial files'". BBC News. August 16, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-04. ^"Afghanistan set to release American convicted of torturing detainees". University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Jurist). April 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-11. ^Apuzzo, Matt (2007-04-10). "Imprisoned terrorist hunter to be freed". Yahoo. Retrieved 2007-04-20. [dead link]^Pelton. Licensed to Kill (op. cit.). pp. 237''238. ^"Past IRE Awards, 1995". Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. ^"Officer's Privilege: The Col. George Marecek story". Retrieved 2007-01-10. ^"Heart of Darkness". CBS Worldwide Inc. 2002-01-17. Retrieved 2006-12-31. ^"New Al Qaeda Tape Surfaces Despite US Efforts to Block It". ABC News. September 18, 2008. ^Lopate, Leonard (2003-03-06). "Behind The Lines". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2007-01-10. ^Paul Schemm; Hadeek Al-Shalchi (September 22, 2009). "Al-Qaida predicts Obama's fall by Muslim nation". Associated Press. ^Jorge Luis UC RAMIREZ. "V­ctima de Sida, en su domicilio de Bacalar: Notifican a embajada de EU" [Victim of AIDS Dies at his home in Bacalar] (in Spanish). Diario Del Quintana Roo. Archived from the original on 2012-12-06. ^"Obituary: Jonathan 'Jack' Idema, Robert Fortune Sanchez". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles: Tribune Co). January 26, 2012. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved November 11, 2014. ^Price, Jay (January 25, 2012). "Fayetteville con man dies in Mexico". News Observer. Retrieved November 11, 2014. ^Martin, Douglas (January 29, 2012). "Jonathan Idema, Con Man and Afghan Bounty Hunter, Dies at 55". The New York Times. ^Hoyt, Mike (January 27, 2012). "RIP: Jonathan "Jack" Idema, Media Con Man". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved November 11, 2014. ^Gutcher, Lianne (January 27, 2012). "The dark truth behind the man who claimed he had Bin Laden in his sights". The Independent (London). ^Beckhusen, Robert (2012-01-26). "Vigilante Torturer Dies in Mexico". Wired. External links[edit]
Why Turkey and the PKK are resuming a deadly conflict | euronews, world news
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:44
The Turkish military has begun a major campaign against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after a series of incidents apparently brought to an end a period of relative calm between the two sides.But what has caused the breakdown of what had once looked like a road to peace and what are the motivations driving both Turkey and the PKK?
The end of Turkish-PKK peace deal?After nearly three decades of open conflict between Turkey and the PKK, which claimed tens of thousands of lives, the two sides began a peace process in 2012 and a delicate truce has been in place since April 2013.
However, expectations of the peace deal have never come close to being satisfied. Turkey had wanted the PKK to disarm and to leave Turkish soil. It has not fully done either. The PKK, seeking an independent homeland including parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey itself wishes to be recognised as a legitimate body with a right to defend itself.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu justified the recent airstrikes on the PKK as a result of an escalation in violence from the other side. He pointed out that 281 terrorist attacks have taken place in Turkey since the June 7 elections. On July 12 the leaders of the PKK announced that their members would disrupt the construction of dams and kidnap workers. In the city of Urfa two policemen were shot dead in their homes. Another one has been killed in Adıyaman.
After last week's Turkish strikes on its positions in Iraq, the PKK has said that this truce has ''no meaning anymore.''
The rise of ISIL?Kurdish groups have been heavily involved in the fight against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.This has allowed them to develop their military capability despite being officially designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US.In Syria, Kurdish interests are represented mainly by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military arm the People's Protection Units (YPG). These groups have been receiving US air support to help them fight ISIS gaining them international credibility and fuelling hopes for the creation of an independent state.
Turkey had until last week refrained from joining the conflict against ISIL. But after the Suruc bombing, Turkey announced it would work with the US and strike targets belonging ISIS, while at the same time hitting PKK operations. It explicitly and implicitly equates both groups as ''terrorists''.Turkey denies it is targeting the PYD and YPG in Syria, despite the YPG's claims to the contrary.
The domestic context in TurkeyThe June elections left the ruling AK Party without a majority in parliament for the first time in over a decade. It is also struggling to attract any partners into a coalition and many expect new elections in November.On one hand president Recep Erdoğan's party lost support to the Kurdish HDP, which gained much more of the non-Kurdish vote than expected in the west of the country. On the other it lost nationalist voters who saw the peace talks with the PKK as a betrayal.The AKP's leadership likely sees military operations against the PKK as a good way to win back those nationalist voters in new elections.Growing violence carried out by Kurds in Turkey could also erode the popularity of the HDP among non-Kurds.
From the PKK side, the elections can also be seen as an explanation for a return to armed action. According to Turkish sources, when the Kurdish-dominated HDP won 82 seats in parliament in June's election the PKK interpreted it as a 'Yes' vote in a referendum on self-rule. Furthermore, the PKK had potentially lost leverage over Kurdish politicians who now had a direct mandate from the people. Amid this ongoing political process, and in particular alongside the rising political fortunes of leaders like HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, one way for the PKK leadership to ensure they maintained their positions in Kurdish political life was to move the focus away from talking and back to direct armed struggle.
U.S. approves possible sale of $5.4 billion in missiles to Saudi Arabia | Reuters
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:15
WASHINGTON The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to Saudi Arabia of $5.4 billion in additional PAC-3 missiles built by Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the sale would benefit a key U.S. partner in the Middle East. Notification to Congress was sent on Tuesday and follows a major nuclear deal with Iran. The missile sale approval could help reassure Saudi Arabia about the U.S. commitment to its security.
"Lockheed Martin is supporting the U.S. government and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as they discuss the potential sale of additional PAC-3 Missiles as part of the upgrade of the Royal Saudi Air Defense Force," Lockheed said in a statement.
The company said the PAC-3 missile defends against incoming aircraft and missiles, and it is currently used by the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.
The State Department also approved on Wednesday a possible sale to Saudi Arabia of $500 million worth of ammunition.
A State Department spokesman said that proposed sale would resupply the Royal Saudi Land Forces to continue protecting the country's southern border from attacks by militia groups.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Emily Stephenson and Eric Walsh)
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Ads for Podcasts Test the Line Between Story and Sponsor -
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:52
For the last several months, Lisa Chow, a reporter for and co-host of ''StartUp,'' a podcast about starting a business, has been interviewing engineers at Ford Motor.
But Ms. Chow was not interviewing Ford employees for a news story. She was making an advertisement for Ford to run on her podcast, between news segments.
The goal of the interviews, Ms. Chow said, is to record ''a funny moment, a revealing moment or a humanizing moment'' '-- like the one she had with Katie Allanson, a Ford engineer who helped make a weighted suit that simulates the experience of old age.
In the interview, Ms. Allanson said about those who wore the suit: ''I had a couple people tell me, 'I've been really hard on my mom.' That one really resonated with me as well, because my parents are getting older too.''
Podcasts '-- audio stories that can be saved and played on a computer or smartphone '-- have reached new levels of popularity, as illustrated by the success last year of ''Serial,'' a story of a 16-year-old murder case that was downloaded over 80 million times. New podcasts are popping up seemingly every week, and larger media brands '-- including BuzzFeed and The New Republic '-- are also trying out the format.
The uptick in popularity has made podcasting a rare cause for optimism in serious journalism. Podcasting often offers an in-depth form of reporting that advertisers want to pay for and that is attracting talent largely from radio.
Behind much of podcasting's growth, though, is the embrace of ads in which hosts gush over products or even do reporting for advertising spots. That has led to a clash between those coming from public radio and those with a commercial radio background, with some expressing concern that journalists, who rely on trust, are using their position of confidence to push products.
The line between advertising and news has never been quite as sharp on commercial radio as on public radio. Commercial D.J.s and hosts have endorsed advertisers' products since the medium's early days. But because of Federal Communications Commission rules forbidding advertising on public radio, those journalists, who have flocked to podcasts, stayed out of the endorsement business '-- until the advent of stand-alone podcasts, which are not regulated by the F.C.C.
Audio | Native Advertising in the 'StartUp' Podcast Series Starting at about 11:50 in this episode of ''StartUp,'' the reporter Lisa Chow interviews an employee of Ford, one of the show's sponsors.
''I'm utterly sympathetic to podcast hosts and entrepreneurs trying to fund their work,'' said Jay Allison, producer of ''The Moth Radio Hour,'' a widely distributed radio show in which people tell true stories about themselves. ''I confess, though, to feeling uncomfortable hearing public radio people in the role of pitch person for product, since I'm counting on them for something else.''
So-called native advertising '-- ads that echo the look or feel of journalism they accompany, like the one Ms. Chow helped create for Ford '-- has quickly gained currency at online news outlets. But native ads have perhaps no more traction than in audio journalism. On dozens of podcasts, hosts and reporters are responsible for producing news stories as well as advertisements.
''We try to make ads as compelling for the listener as the rest of the show,'' said Matt Lieber, a co-founder of Gimlet Media, the company that produces ''StartUp.'' ''We go to Ford and say, 'What's the most interesting thing about Ford?' And that's what we talk about in the podcast.''
The reliance on native ads has worked so far. For-profit podcast creators, which rely almost entirely on advertising for revenue, keep popping up, and Gimlet says it is breaking even. Networks like Gimlet; Panoply, from the online magazine Slate; and Midroll Media all started within the last three years. Last week, E. W. Scripps bought Midroll for a price the companies would not disclose. National Public Radio says its revenue from podcasting has tripled since 2013. Public Radio Exchange, another nonprofit podcast distributor, projects that sponsorship revenue '-- the majority of which comes from podcasts '-- grew ninefold from 2013 to 2015.
Audio | Native Advertising in 'Theory of Everything' Podcast Starting at about 17:35 in this episode of ''Theory of Everything'' the host, Benjamen Walker, talks about his personal experience with a mattress by Casper, one of the show's sponsors.
In ads, hosts often discuss their own experiences using a product. In ''Theory of Everything,'' a general-interest program on Public Radio Exchange, Benjamen Walker has talked about the virtues of mattresses made by Casper and of an online history class he took on the Great Courses '-- products he came to like after advertisers gave them to him.
Advertisers are naturally attracted to being associated with well-liked hosts. ''When the host is personally reading the ad and telling a story about the product in her own words, it lands with the audience in a different and more authentic way than a traditional ad spot,'' said Mark DiCristina, marketing director at MailChimp, an email marketing company that is one of the most prolific podcast advertisers.
Mr. Walker and other podcasters say they draw inspiration from a tradition outside journalism: commercial radio hosts who are paid to endorse products on the air.
''That form of advertising is as old as radio itself,'' said Andy Bowers, the chief content officer at Panoply. ''I used to love old reruns of Jack Benny as a kid. His show was brought to you by Jell-O.''
The difference here, some in the radio world say, is not so much what the ads sound like, but who is delivering them.
''For serious journalists to be reading ads is a little problematic, I think, because the old firewall between editorial and journalism is completely broken down,'' said Curtis Fox, an independent radio producer.
There has been opposition internally, with some podcast hosts resisting native ads. P. J. Vogt and Alex Goldman, the hosts of ''Reply All,'' a technology program from Gimlet, recently asked if they could stop explicitly endorsing products such as Microsoft Outlook. They said they would rather just talk about the experience of using them. Their bosses obliged, and now the hosts instead discuss their personal experiences with products.
Those critics '-- and some podcast hosts '-- worry about a slippery slope. The F.C.C. has no oversight over podcasts. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising, has warned publishers to clearly label native ads but has not issued any guidelines.
That freedom has given organizations such as National Public Radio the chance to experiment with other ways of identifying their supporters as well as the responsibility of creating guidelines for themselves.
''You won't hear overt promotion, such as endorsements, testimonials, specific product prices or calls to purchase,'' Isabel Lara, an N.P.R. spokeswoman, said of the network's podcasts. ''But you may hear how you can engage the sponsor or its products or services a little more directly than what the F.C.C. would allow.''
At some podcast networks, including at Gimlet and Midroll, the hosts are given veto power over who advertises on their shows.
''It isn't a daily occurrence, but there isn't a week that goes by where we haven't had to turn down an advertiser,'' said Lex Friedman, who runs ad sales at Midroll.
Many podcasters say they also try to be clear with listeners about what is an ad and what is journalism, separating them with music and disclaimers.
But the distinction hasn't always been clear to others recruited to help make the ads.
Last November, a Gimlet employee emailed Linda Sharps, a parenting blogger from Eugene, Ore., to ask if a producer could interview her 9-year-old son about a website he had built with the online publishing platform Squarespace.
Ms. Sharps eagerly said yes. Only when the interview aired did she learn it was for a Squarespace ad.
Feeling duped, she began posting on Twitter about the show's advertising policies. Alex Blumberg, a co-founder of Gimlet and the host of ''StartUp,'' called Ms. Sharps and apologized, saying that it had been an error. Gimlet eventually aired an episode of ''StartUp'' about the story.
Ms. Sharps later said she forgave Gimlet.
''My son was a little bummed at the time,'' Ms. Sharps said recently in an email. ''I think his reaction was something like, 'I'm in an ad? But I hate ads! I skip them on YouTube all the time.' ''
Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ | Techdirt
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:24
If you talk to the reporters who work for various big media companies, they insist that they have true editorial independence from the business side of their companies. They insist that the news coverage isn't designed to reflect the business interests of their owners. Of course, most people have always suspected this was bullshit -- and you could see evidence of this in things like the fact that the big TV networks refused to cover the SOPA protests. But -- until now -- there's never necessarily been a smoking gun with evidence of how such business interests influences the editorial side.Earlier this month, we noted that the Hollywood studios were all resisting subpoenas from Google concerning their super cozy relationship with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, whose highly questionable "investigation" of Google appeared to actually be run by the MPAA and the studios themselves. The entire "investigation" seemed to clearly be an attempt to mislead the public into believing that it was somehow illegal for Google's search engine to find stuff that people didn't like online. A court has already ruled that Hood pretty clearly acted in bad faith to deprive Google of its First Amendment rights. As the case has continued, Google has sought much more detail on just how much of the investigation was run by the MPAA and the studios -- and Hollywood has vigorously resisted, claiming that they really had nothing to do with all of this, which was a laughable assertion.
However, in a filing on Thursday, Google revealed one of the few emails that they have been able to get access to so far, and it's stunning. It's an email between the MPAA and two of Jim Hood's top lawyers in the Mississippi AG's office, discussing the big plan to "hurt" Google. Beyond influencing other Attorneys General (using misleading fake "setups" of searches for "bad" material) and paying for fake anti-Google research, the lawyers from Hood's office flat out admit that they're expecting the MPAA and the major studios to have its media arms run a coordinated propaganda campaign of bogus anti-Google stories:
Media: We want to make sure that the media is at the NAAG meeting. We propose working with MPAA (Vans), Comcast, and NewsCorp (Bill Guidera) to see about working with a PR firm to create an attack on Google (and others who are resisting AG efforts to address online piracy). This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The "live buys" should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this). After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform. Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google's stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed.
In other words, Jim Hood and the MPAA were out and out planning a coordinated media attack on Google using the editorial properties that supposedly claim to have editorial independence from the business side. Notice that with the WSJ piece, they flat out admit that the editorial will be based on the ideas that "we" have developed. If you work for the WSJ, your editorial independence just got shot down. Remember when CBS stepped in and interfered editorially with CNET for giving an award to Dish at the same time that CBS was in a legal fight over that same device? That resulted in reporters quitting.This is worse.
This is an out and out case where the MPAA is admitting to a plan whereby it will use mainstream media properties to run bogus and misleading stories to "attack" Google, to further the MPAA's (believed, but misleadingly so) business interests. Is this really how the Today Show and the WSJ pick their editorial topics?
The "plan" goes even further after that, getting the MPAA to find (and almost certainly pay for) a lawyer to work with the "shareholder" previously identified to file legal filings against Google.
Following the media blitz, you want Bill Guidera and Rick Smotkin to work with the PR firm to identify a lawyer specializing in SEC matters to work with a stockholder. This lawyer should be able to the [sic] identify the appropriate regulatory filing to be made against Google.
As Google notes in its legal filing about this email, the "plan" states that if this effort fails, then the next step will be to file the subpoena (technically a CID or "civil investigatory demand") on Google, written by the MPAA but signed by Hood. As Google points out, this makes it pretty clear (1) that the MPAA, studios and Hood were working hand in hand in all of this and (2) that the subpoena had no legitimate purpose behind it, but rather was the final step in a coordinated media campaign to pressure Google to change the way its search engine works. It's pretty damning:The document thus shows that the CID was not the foundation of a legitimate investigation'--rather, it was a ''final step'' that would be issued only ''if necessary'' to further pressure Google to capitulate to the demands of AG Hood and his supporters.
The court has yet to rule on what else Hollywood needs to turn over, but just from what's coming out already, serious questions are being raised (1) about Jim Hood and his office and what they were up to as well as (2) the editorial independence of the media arms of the MPAA studios, including both NBCUniversal ("the Today Show") and NewsCorp. (the Wall Street Journal).
Windows 10? Here are privacy issues you should consider
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:13
Windows 10 has just arrived and there's a new Privacy Policy and Service Agreement from Microsoft coming swiftly in its wake.
The new policies take effect on 1 August and there are a few unsettling things nestling in there that you should be thinking about if you're using the company's services and software.
The Privacy Statement and Services Agreements combined come to 45 pages. Microsoft's deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez wrote that they are ''straightforward terms and polices that people can clearly understand.'' The reality is, you're probably not going to read them. So I did'...
And, like so many other companies, Microsoft has grabbed some very broad powers to collect things you do, say and create while using its software. Your data won't be staying on your computer, that much is for sure.
Data syncing by defaultSign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company's servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.
You can deactivate that by hopping into settings, but I'd argue that it should be opt-in rather than on by default. Many users won't get round to turning it off, even though they would probably want to.
Cortana knows *a lot* about what you're doing'...
Cortana is a sexy spy in the machineTurn on Cortana, the virtual assistant, and you're also turning on a whole host of data sharing:
To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.
Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.''
Lots of things can live in those two words ''and more.'' Also note that because Cortana analyzes speech data, Microsoft collects ''your voice input, as well as your name and nickname, your recent calendar events and the names of people in your appointments, and information about your contacts including names and nicknames.''
Realistically, Cortana can't work in the semi-magical way it does without being able to gobble up all that information. But it's worth being aware of just how wide-ranging its access to your and your friends'/contacts' data is.
Whatever happens, Microsoft knows what you're doing'...The updated terms also state that Microsoft will collect information ''from you and your devices, including for example 'app use data for apps that run on Windows' and 'data about the networks you connect to.'''
Advertisers will know exactly who you areWindows 10 generates a unique advertising ID for each user on each device. That can be used by developers and ad networks to profile you. Again, you can turn this off in settings, but you need to know where to look:
Where to go to kill the ad tracking ID in Windows 10'...
Your encryption key is backed up to OneDriveNot necessarily a bad thing but something you should be aware of. When device encryption is turned on, Windows 10 automatically encrypts the drive its installed on and generates a BitLocker recovery key. That's backed up to your OneDrive account.
Open the window and Microsoft can do pretty much what it wants with your data'...
Microsoft can disclose your data when it feels like itThis is the part you should be most concerned about: Microsoft's new privacy policy assigns is very loose when it comes to when it will or won't access and disclose your personal data:
We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services.
I'm not suggesting Microsoft and its lawyers are alone in making provision for such sweeping power over your data, but we should all be very careful about relying on the ''good faith'' of corporations. I'm not even sure such a thing exists.
'ž¤ Privacy Statement | Services Agreement [Microsoft] h/t to EDRI for flagging up a number of these issues.
Read more about Microsoft's new stuff:
Review: Windows 10 reimagines the OS with flexible and functional design7 reasons you should make Microsoft Edge your default browser, and one reason you probably won't
Lawmakers Dangle 10% Rate for Some Tech Profit in U.S. Tax Plan - Bloomberg Politics
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:34
U.S. companies would be eligible for a discounted 10 percent tax rate on a portion of profits from patents, formulas and other intellectual property in a plan that marks a major step toward a revamp of international tax rules.
The proposed ''innovation box'' released Wednesday by Representatives Charles Boustany and Richard Neal would provide a significant incentive for companies to generate profits in the U.S. and receive a discount off the 35 percent corporate tax rate. The draft plan will invite a lobbying push in coming months as companies seek to ensure their income qualifies for the low tax rate.
The proposal likely will be a boon for technology and pharmaceutical companies and high-tech manufacturers, while retailers may not see much benefit.
Boustany, a Louisiana Republican, and Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, unveiled details that will be incorporated into a broader effort by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to change the U.S. international tax system. The discussion draft is subject to change.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, wants a one-time tax on about $2 trillion of stockpiled overseas profits to fund highway construction as part of a transition to a system in which companies could repatriate future foreign profits without paying U.S. taxes.
Tax IdeasRyan's plan and the innovation box will face immense technical and political hurdles, the same ones that have prevented Republicans from advancing their biggest tax ideas since they took control of Congress in 2011.
Congress is nearing a temporary extension of highway programs through October. That gives Ryan and his allies a three-month time frame to reveal the rest of their international tax plan and demonstrate that it's plausible and politically acceptable to both parties.
The innovation box, which wasn't in previous Republican plans, would cost the government revenue and would need to be paired with other provisions that make it harder for companies to avoid taxes.
The bipartisan cooperation from Boustany and Neal on the innovation box -- along with similar Senate work by Ohio Republican Rob Portman and New York Democrat Charles Schumer -- shows that influential members of both parties want to pursue a tax system like the one the U.K. is implementing.
''Today, our tax code has erected barriers for innovators, forcing them to move overseas to create these exciting new products that are changing the way we live and work every day,'' Boustany said in a statement. ''We want that activity here in the United States.''
Linking Taxes, HighwaysBoustany and Neal don't have an official revenue estimate for their plan yet. There's some initial reluctance from President Barack Obama's administration to the concept of an innovation box, even though Ryan and Obama agree on the idea of linking international taxes to highway funding.
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was asked Tuesday on Twitter whether the administration could support an innovation box.
He responded by expressing support for the research and development tax credit, saying it ''directly encourages investments in new innovation'' and has the ''best bang-for-buck.''
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Wednesday that a bipartisan tax-and-infrastructure plan was ''doable'' though it was ''nowhere near the point'' of having a plan he can take to Obama.
'Ruffling Some Feathers'''It's going to require a little push, because it's hard,'' Lew said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. ''There is no way to do this without it ruffling some feathers, but it's worth it because it's going to help us pay for infrastructure in a meaningful way and it will help fix the broken business tax system.''
Under current law, U.S. companies owe the full 35 percent rate on profits they earn around the world. They receive tax credits for payments to foreign governments, and then only have to pay the residual U.S. tax when they bring the money home.
That system encourages companies to book profits overseas and leave them there. That's exactly what companies such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. have done by holding intellectual property in low-tax jurisdictions and using it to generate lightly taxed foreign profits.
Those maneuvers have attracted the attention of governments around the world. They are writing coordinated rules through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that could force companies to locate their intellectual property and research jobs in countries where they have real economic activity.
Corporate RateRepublican lawmakers, worried about the steady erosion of the U.S. tax base, are now trying to mimic what other countries have done. They're trying to do it without touching the corporate rate, saving that issue for 2017, when they hope to have a president more interested in lowering individual and corporate rates together.
Here's how the Boustany-Neal proposal would work:
Companies would calculate which of their profits are attributable to intellectual property such as patents, inventions, computer software, formulas and processes. Marketing intangibles such as brand names and trademarks wouldn't count.
They would multiply that profit by a fraction where the numerator is domestic research and development spending and the denominator is the company's total budget, after subtracting the cost of goods sold, interest, losses and taxes.
The resulting number would get the 10 percent tax rate.
Companies would also be able to repatriate intellectual property tax-free.
A House Republican tax aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the proposal, said there were no estimates yet for what percentage of corporate profits would qualify for the break and how much intellectual property would be repatriated.
Complying with FCC rules on Wifi - PRPL
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:33
This page will compile all relevant information available on the FCC's new regulations on 5Ghz Wifi and the OpenWrt's community recommendations for hardware manufacturers.
The Regulation[edit]The FCC in spring 2014 created a rule, Part 2.1033(b)(13), detailed at which reads as follows:
Applications for certification of U-NII devices in the 5.15-5.35 GHz and the 5.47-5.85 GHz bands must include a high level operational description of the security procedures that control the radio frequency operating parameters and ensure that unauthorized modifications cannot be made.
The final definition is at 15.407(i):
Device Security. All U-NII devices must contain security features to protect against modification of software by unauthorized parties.
(1) Manufacturers must implement security features in any digitally modulated devices capable of operating in any of the U-NII bands, so that third parties are not able to reprogram the device to operate outside the parameters for which the device was certified. The software must prevent the user from operating the transmitter with operating frequencies, output power, modulation types or other radio frequency parameters outside those that were approved for the device. Manufacturers may use means including, but not limited to the use of a private network that allows only authenticated users to download software, electronic signatures in software or coding in hardware that is decoded by software to verify that new software can be legally loaded into a device to meet these requirements and must describe the methods in their application for equipment authorization.
(2) Manufacturers must take steps to ensure that DFS functionality cannot be disabled by the operator of the U-NII device.
Additionally, these requirements were further described in publication 594280 at where the requirement for applicants for certification is described as follows:
An applicant must describe the overall security measures and systems that ensure that only:
Authenticated software is loaded and operating the device.The device is not easily modified to operate with RF parameters outside of the authorization.A set of questions must be answered by the manufacturer related to security as part of certification (II. Software Security Description Guide) The questions are as follows:
Software Security DescriptionGeneral DescriptionDescribe how any software/firmware update will be obtained, downloaded, and installed.Describe all the radio frequency parameters that are modified by any software/firmware without any hardware changes. Are these parameters in some way limited, such that, it will not exceed the authorized parameters?Are there any authentication protocols in place to ensure that the source of the software/firmware is legitimate? If so, describe in details; if not, explain how the software is secured from modification.Are there any verification protocols in place to ensure that the software/firmware is legitimate? If so, describe in details.Describe, if any, encryption methods used.For a device that can be configured as a master and client (with active or passive scanning), explain how the device ensures compliance for each mode? In particular if the device acts as master in some band of operation and client in another; how is compliance ensured in each band of operation?Third Party Access ControlHow are unauthorized software/firmware changes prevented?Is it possible for third parties to load device drivers that could modify the RF parameters, country of operation or other parameters which impact device compliance? If so, describe procedures to ensure that only approved drivers are loaded.Explain if any third parties have the capability to operate a US sold device on any other regulatory domain, frequencies, or in any manner that is in violation of the certification.What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device?For modular devices, describe how authentication is achieved when used with different hosts.If a device has a UI, the manufacturer must also answer a few more questions (III. Software Configuration Description Guide). The questions are:
Software Configuration DescriptionUser Configuration GuideTo whom is the UI accessible? (Professional installer, end user, other.)What parameters are viewable to the professional installer/end-user?What parameters are accessible or modifiable to the professional installer?Are the parameters in some way limited, so that the installers will not enter parameters that exceed those authorized?What controls exist that the user cannot operate the device outside its authorization in the U.S.?What configuration options are available to the end-user?Are the parameters in some way limited, so that the installers will not enter parameters that exceed those authorized?What controls exist that the user cannot operate the device outside its authorization in the U.S.?Is the country code factory set? Can it be changed in the UI?If so, what controls exist to ensure that the device can only operate within its authorization in the U.S.?What are the default parameters when the device is restarted?Can the radio be configured in bridge or mesh mode? If yes, an attestation may be required. Further information is available in KDB Publication 905462 D02.For a device that can be configured as a master and client (with active or passive scanning),if this is user configurable, describe what controls exist, within the UI, to ensure compliance for each mode. If the device acts as a master in some bands and client in others, how is this configured to ensure compliance?For a device that can be configured as different types of access points, such as point-to-point or point-to-multipoint, and use different types of antennas, describe what controls exist to ensure compliance with applicable limits and the proper antenna is used for each mode of operation. (See Section 15.407(a))Background[edit]The requirement on 5Ghz Wifi is due to the fact that three channels, 120, 124 and 128, in the 5Ghz range are shared between unlicensed devices, such as wifi, and Terminal-area Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR). TWDR is used at 45 airports in the US as an additional safety measure beyond standard weather radar. In order to allow this sharing while still protecting airline passengers, the FCC required that devices operating on these frequencies use a technique called Dynamic Frequency Switching.
In Dynamic Frequency Switching, a device senses whether a weather radar is active on a frequency it wants to use. If the device senses a radar signal, it will change frequencies to prevent a conflict. Additionally, the device will check regularly whether frequencies which were once safe still are and vice-versa.
The FCC's primary concern with 5ghz devices seems to be that in the past some devices could be trivially modified in order to turn off DFS. By doing so, the device was no longer operating within it's legal authorization and even more importantly was behaving in a manner which could endanger aircraft landing.
Linux regulatory system overview[edit]The Linux regulatory system for Wifi consists of three major components: the regulatory module, wireless drivers, and CRDA. Both the regulatory module and wireless drivers are part of the kernel. CRDA exists in userspace and therefore can only communicate with the regulatory module via IPC mechanisms. CRDA is optional and the regulatory system functions without CRDA included.
List of possible methods of complying[edit]The following workarounds have been suggested to allow companies to comply with the FCC rule. They're NOT recommended, just listed for now. Explanations will be added later.
Authentication of Linux WiFi DriverAuthentication of WiFi Firmware and Calibration DataAuthentication of Peripheral FirmwareAuthentication of the Root File SystemCountry Code Setting (set in hardware)Validation of User-Installed CodeIsolation of User-Installed CodeProtection of Execution EnvironmentsHiding debug messages during bootWhat does U-NII mean?
Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure. U-NII is a radio band in the 5Ghz range designated for unlicensed users with certified devices. A U-NII device is one that operates on the U-NII band.
What's certification?
Almost all intended or unintended radiators in the US must receive an FCC Certificate of Compliance. This certification verifies that the device complies with FCC spectrum allocations and rules. There are few exemptions to this rule, the most common one being that very few copies of the device are made (ten, I think).
Intentional, unintentional radiators, what's that?
A intended radiating device is any device that is deliberately designed to produce radio waves. This would cover any sort of radio transmitting device, such as a router, computer with a Wifi adapter, amateur radio device or TV transmitter. An unintentional radiator is one produces radio waves within itself which may be unintentionally radiated from the device. Examples of unintentional radiators are TVs, PCs without any form of wireless communications and electric motors.
I don't live in the US, why is this relevant to me?
As a large market, manufacturers can't afford to avoid the US market. Combined with the inherent costs of maintaining multiple hardware and software platforms means that manufacturers will have to minimize changes between regulatory regimes. This implies that any requirements necessary for the US market will radiate out into other markets. Additionally, it's possible other regulatory regimes will add similar requirements.
Does this requirement apply to OpenWrt itself?
No, not directly. The FCC regulates devices which produce radio waves. The software, by itself, does not produce radio wave therefore software, open source or not, is not regulated by the FCC. That said, the mechanism for controlling transmission characteristics in order to comply with regulatory requirements could be implemented in software, and in the case of Linux is implemented in software. This mechanism would be considered part of the device for regulatory purposes.
So if it doesn't apply to OpenWrt itself, why is this an issue to OpenWrt?
The growth and quality of OpenWrt, like most open source software, is dependent on the ability of the community to innovate. As part of this, users need to guarantee their modifications work as anticipated. If routers software is locked down completely, there's no way for an individual to install their modified software on their own, personally-purchased router. This lead to a situation where the community can't participate and neutralizes many of the benefits of manufacturers using open source software. This is to say nothing of the fact that users wouldn't be able to use their own devices as they see fit.
New FCC Rules May Prevent Installing OpenWRT on WiFi Routers
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:31
Many cheap WiFi routers are sold with the vendor firmware, but the most popular ones likely also support OpenWRT, which some users may prefer as it is much more customizable. However, this may soon become more difficult according to a talk at the upcoming ''Wireless Battle of the Mesh'' which will take place on August 3-8 in Maribor, Slovenia.
The talk scheduled for August 6 at 15:00 is entitled ''openWRT vs. FCC '' forced firmware lockdown?'' and Simon Wunderlich, the speaker, provided the following abstract:
The new FCC rules are in effect in the United States from June 2nd 2015 for WiFi devices such as Access Points. They require to have the firmware locked down so End-Users can't operate with non-compliant parameters (channels/frequencies, transmit power, DFS, '...). In response, WiFi access point vendors start to lock down firmwares to prevent custom firmwares (such as OpenWRT) to be installed, using code signing, etc. Since the same type of devices are often sold world wide, this change does not only affect routers in the US, but also Europe, and this will also effect wireless communities.We would like to discuss:
What are your experiences with recently certified WiFi Hardware?How can we still keep OpenWRT on these devices?What can we suggest to Hardware vendors so that they keep their firmware open for community projects while still compliant with the FCC?The rule in question is listed on the FCC website with the question ''What are the software security requirements for non-SDR devices and what limitations apply to software configuration control for such devices?'' and the critical part of the answer being ''require all devices to implement software security to ensure that the devices operate as authorized and cannot be modified''.
It will be interesting to see how all this develops, and whether it will have some real consequences on the hackability of access points.
Thanks to Zoobab for the tip.
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Words Matter
I mean - the new like | Mental Floss
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:11
Those who've been following this blog for a long time probably remember my old Weekend Word Wraps, and all the complaining I used to do about expressions like, like. And you might remember my suggestion for those who felt the need to insert like into every other sentence, to use it's not unlike, instead'--in order to snap the habit.
So, the sentence She was, like, a raging lunatic that night, becomes She was not unlike a raging lunatic that night'--much harder to say.
Now that like has mercifully waned in popularity, I have a new bone to pick: I mean.
It's everywhere!!! Have others noticed this, or is it just me?
You can't have a conversation with anyone any more without them peppering every couple sentences with an I mean.
"She was a raging lunatic that night. I mean, I didn't know what to do. I mean, she was so annoying."'
Is that what you mean? Really? As annoying as you with your I means?
And it's moved beyond conversation, into e-mail now. Just look at this screen grab from an e-mail I found in my inbox yesterday.
Out of hand, right?
What's going on here? Any ideas? Any annoying phrases or words that really get your goat these days?
Tsipras and Varoufakis Approve of Home Evictions and Expropriation of Depositors
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:28
Posted on July 27, 2015 by willyloman
from Global Research
'... Last Wednesday, both Tsipras and his former finance minister went even further by giving their consent to a reform package that will facilitate foreclosures and home evictions. Given the disastrous economic situation, high unemployment and the ongoing capital controls, thousands of home owners will fall into arrears with their interest and repayment installments in the coming months and thus become victims of this new legislation, which will go into effect on 1 January 2016.
Tsipras and Varoufakis, who loved posing as the advocates of the common people during their election campaign, are thus frankly siding with collecting agencies and openly turning their backs on working people strangled by debt.
However, there was worse to come in Wednesday's vote. Pretending to ''protect ''Greek taxpayers, Tsipras and Varoufakis also gave their consent to the EU's Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD). This legislation provides for the replacement of bailouts of banks with taxpayers' money by the partial expropriation of savers, depositors and shareholders.
[read more here]
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Greece's Syriza makes military deal with Israel that only US has made
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:28
Posted on July 27, 2015 by willyloman
(Anymore questions about Syriza? No?)
from Mondoweiss
Greece's ruling ostensibly left-wing Syriza party signed a ''status of forces'' accord with Israel on July 19. The Jerusalem Post explains that the agreement ''offers legal defense to both militaries while training in the other's country.''
That is to say, it is a pact in which Greece agrees to help the Israeli military'--which has illegally militarily occupied and colonized Palestinian sovereign territory for almost five decades and which, practically bi-annually, demolishes infrastructure and massacres civilians and journalists (whom it deliberately targets when soldiers are ''bored'') in Gaza.
Only one other country in the world has signed such an accord with Israel; that country is the US, which calls its uncritical support of Israel the ''special relationship.''
''We very much appreciate your visit here during a difficult period for Greece,'' Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and an aggressive war hawk, told his Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos at a meeting in the Israeli Defense Ministry. ''This underlines the importance of relations between the countries,'' Ya'alon added.
Kammenos defended the deal on ''anti-terrorism'' grounds. He insisted that the ''Greek people are very close to the people in Israel.''
[read more here]
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Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger 'Plan B' for Greece, awaits treason charges
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:45
"The prime minister, before we won the election in January, had given me the green light to come up with a Plan B. And I assembled a very able team, a small team as it had to be because that had to be kept completely under wraps for obvious reasons," he said.
Yanis Varoufakis (right), Greece's former finance minister, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Mr Varoufakis recruited a technology specialist from Columbia University to help handle the logistics. Faced with a wall of obstacles, the expert broke into the software systems of the tax office - then under the control of the EU-IMF 'Troika' - in order to obtain the reserve accounts and file numbers of every taxpayer. "We decided to hack into my ministry's own software programme," he said.
The revelations were made to a group of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and life insurers - many from Asia - hosted as part of a "Greek day" on July 16 by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF).
Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that the quotes were accurate but some reports in the Greek press had been twisted, making it look as if he had been plotting a return to the drachma from the start.
"The context of all this is that they want to present me as a rogue finance minister, and have me indicted for treason. It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history," he said.
"It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe," he said.
The goal of the computer hacking was to enable the finance ministry to make digital transfers at "the touch of a button". The payments would be 'IOUs' based on an experiment by California after the Lehman banking crisis.
A parallel banking system of this kind would allow the government to create euro liquidity and circumvent what Syriza called "financial strangulation" by the ECB.
"This was very well developed. Very soon we could have extended it, using apps on smartphones, and it could become a functioning parallel system. Of course this would be euro denominated but at the drop of a hat it could be converted to a new drachma,'' he said.
Mr Varoufakis claimed the cloak and dagger methods were necessary since the Troika had taken charge of the public revenue office within the finance ministry. "It's like the Inland Revenue in the UK being controlled by Brussels. I am sure as you are hearing these words your hair is standing on end,'' he said in the leaked transcripts.
Mr Varoufakis said any request for permission would have tipped off the Troika immediately that he was planning a counter-attack. He was ready to activate the mechanism the moment he received a "green light" from the prime minister, but the permission never came.
"I always told Tsipras that it will not be plain sailing but this is the price you have to pay for liberty," he told the Telegraph.
"But when the time came he realised that it was just too difficult. I don't know when he reached that decision. I only learned explicitly on the night of the referendum, and that is why I offered to resign," he said. Mr Varoufakis wanted to seize on the momentum of a landslide victory in the vote but was overruled.
He insisted that his purpose had always been to go on the legal and financial offensive within the eurozone - placing Greece's eurozone creditors in a position where they would be acting outside EU treaty law if they forced Grexit - but nevertheless suggested Syriza did have a mandate to contemplate more radical steps if all else failed.
"I think the Greek people had authorised us to pursue energetically and vigorously that negotiation to the point of saying that if we can't have a viable agreement, then we should consider getting out," he said in the tape.
"[German finance minister Wolfgang] Schauble believes that the eurozone is not sustainable as it is. He believes there has to be some fiscal transfers, some degree of political union. He believes that for that political union to work without federation, without the legitimacy that a properly elected federal parliament can render, can bestow upon an executive, it will have to be done in a very disciplinary way.
"And he said explicitly to me that a Grexit is going to equip him with sufficient terrorising power in order to impose upon the French that which Paris has been resisting: a degree of transfer of budget-making powers from Paris to Brussels."
Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that Mr Schauble had made up his mind that Greece must be ejected from the euro, and is merely biding his time, knowing that the latest bail-out plan is doomed to failure.
"Everybody knows the International Monetary Fund does not want to take part in a new programme but Schauble is insisting that it does as a condition for new loans. I have a strong suspicion that there will be no deal on August 20," he said.
He said the EU authorities may have to dip further into the European Commission's stabilisation fund (EFSM), drawing Britain deeper into the controversy since it is a contributor. By the end of the year it will be clear that tax revenues are falling badly short of targets - he said - and the Greek public ratio will be shooting up towards 210pc of GDP.
"Schauble will then say it is yet another failure. He is just stringing us along. He has not given up his plan to push Greece out of the euro," he said.
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Concerned About "Treason" Charges, Varoufakis Issues Public Statement On "Cloak And Dagger" Drachma "Plan B"
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:45
Over the weekend, the media world was abuzz with the leaked recording made during a July 16 "Greek Day" meeting by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) which included a group of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and life insurers in which it was reveaked that Yanis Varoufakis had been in the process of preparing Greece for a cloak and dagger "Plan B" which included as its highlight a process for returning to the Drachma.
Previously we presentted both the Kathimerini framing of this leak, as well as the recording itself (which was hardly supposed to be made public).
Overnight, the Telegraph's Ambrose-Pritchard reported that "Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that the quotes were accurate but some reports in the Greek press had been twisted, making it look as if he had been plotting a return to the drachma from the start.
"The context of all this is that they want to present me as a rogue finance minister, and have me indicted for treason. It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history," he said.
"It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe," he said.
It remains to be seen if treason charges are forthcoming but Varoufakis isn't wasting time, and after giving unofficial on the record comments to the Telegraph, moments ago he issued the following public statement on his blog. The highlights are ours.
* * *
Statement by Yanis Varoufakis on the FinMin's Plan B Working Group & the parallel payment system
During the Greek government's negotiations with the Eurogroup, Minister Varoufakis oversaw a Working Group with a remit to prepare contingency plans against the creditors' efforts to undermine the Greek government and in view of forces at work within the Eurozone to have Greece expelled from the euro. The Working Group was convened by the Minister, at the behest of the Prime Minister, and was coordinated by Professor James K. Galbraith. (Click here for a statement on the matter by Professor Galbraith).
It is worth nothing[ZH: sic, we hope] that, prior to Mr Varoufakis' comfirmation of the existence of the said Working Group, the Minister was criticized widely for having neglected to make such contingency plans. The Bank of Greece, the ECB, treasuries of EU member-states, banks, international organisations etc. had all drawn up such plans since 2012. Greece's Ministry of Finance would have been remiss had it made no attempt to draw up contingency plans.
Ever since Mr Varoufakis announced the existence of the Working Group, the media have indulged in far-fetched articles that damage the quality of public debate. The Ministry of Finance's Working Group worked exclusively within the framework of government policy and its recommendations were always aimed at serving the public interest, at respecting the laws of the land, and at keeping the country in the Eurozone.
Regarding the recent article by ''Kathimerini'' newspaper entitled ''Plan B involving highjacking and hacking'', Kathimerini's failure to contact Mr Varoufakis for comment and its reporter's erroneous references to ''highjacking tax file numbers of all taxpayers'' sowed confusion and contributed to the media-induced disinformation. The article refers to the Ministry's project as described by Minister Varoufakis in his 6th July farewell speech during the handover ceremony in the Ministry of Finance. In that speech Mr Varoufakis clearly stated: ''The General Secretariat of Information Systems had begun investigating means by which Taxisnet (Nb. the Ministry's Tax Web Interface) could become something more than it currently is, to become a payments system for third parties, a system that improves efficiency and minimises the arrears of the state to citizens and vice versa.'' That project was not part of the Working Group's remit, was presented in full by Minister Varoufakis to Cabinet, and should, in Minister Varoufakis' view, be implemented independently of the negotiations with Greece's creditors, as it will contribute considerable efficiency gains in transactions between the state and taxpayers as well as between taxpayers.
In conclusion, during the five months of negotiations that gripped Europe and changed the debate throughout the Continent, the Ministry of Finance did everything possible to serve the public interest against many odds. The current media campaign to besmirch these efforts will fail to dent the legacy of a crucial five month struggle for democracy and common sense.
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Iran woos Europeans into oil industry
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:46
TEHRAN July 27 (Shana)''Iranian petroleum officials have held talks with more than 30 European firms on the sidelines of a business conference in Vienna, a deputy petroleum minister said.
Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia, deputy minister for international affairs and trading, said Iran has set a number of conditions for the presence of foreigners in its petroleum sector which include engaging in Iranian firms in petroleum projects as well as transporting technical savvy to Iran.
Besides, the presence of foreigners must bring Iran economic profits, stressed Zamani-Nia.
Following Iran's deal with the P5+1, European companies have lined up to step in Iran's oil industry, said the top official.He further added that Iran's petroleum industry has dramatically developed during the past 12 years that the country was targeted by western sanctions for its nuclear program.
Employing the capabilities of the private sector manufacturers and services companies in Iran is seriously sought by the petroleum ministry in the future partnerships with foreign firms as well, he added.
UPDATE 2-Iran hails new cooperation with France's Total
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:32
Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:27am EDTBy Sam Wilkin
DUBAI, July 29 (Reuters) - Iran looked ahead to working closely with French energy company Total, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told the Shana agency after a meeting in Tehran with France's foreign minister on Wednesday.
"A new chapter of cooperation with the French company Total will begin to develop Iranian oil fields," Shana quoted Zanganeh as saying after a meeting with Laurent Fabius.
"Total was active in developing Iranian oil projects for more than 20 years (before sanctions)... the door is again open for this company's activities in developing oil fields."
Fabius was in Tehran for a one-day visit in which he met senior ministers and conveyed an invitation from French President Francois Hollande to his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to visit Paris in November.
"Today's talks about oil and energy were very positive and I hope the results will also be satisfactory," Shana quoted Fabius as saying.
Total had been involved in the development of Iran's giant South Pars gas field, which holds about half of Iran's gas reserves, but the project had been overshadowed by haggling over contract terms.
Under pressure from the French and U.S. government, the French company eventually stopped all production in Iran in 2010.
In an interview to Russian media, Total's CEO Patrick Pouyanne had said the group was looking at opportunities in liquefied natural gas projects, but that Total's participation would depend on the terms offered by Tehran to foreign investors.
Iran plans to hold its major post-sanction oil and gas conference in London this December, where a senior delegation will discuss new contract terms. [ ]
A spokeswoman for Total had no immediate comment. (Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris; editing by William Hardy)
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Shut Up Slave!
Metal Detectors: Sen. Avella Working On Legislation For CBS New York
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:42
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) '-- Coming to a theater near you: metal detectors '-- maybe.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) has announced he's developing legislation that would require theater, indoor mall and stadium owners to provide enhanced security, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.
''Either a metal detector and security or security officers with the wand that they can wave,'' he said.
NY Senator Working On Legislation For Metal Detectors At Theaters, Stadiums And MallsThe move comes amid a string of mass shooting events across the country.
Avella said he immediately began developing a legislative solution following the theater shooting in Louisiana last week, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.
''Something has to be done and when you think about it, it's hard to realize that we live in a different world; but we do,'' he said.
NY Senator Working On Legislation For Metal Detectors At Theaters, Stadiums And MallsAvella said he knows it will cost money, so he plans to include as part of the legislation a public/private partnership ''where the state will pick up half the cost.''
As for the potential inconvenience of metal detectors, Avella said it would be worth it if it saves just one life.
Last August, Yankee Stadium started using metal detectors at Gate 2 and installed them at all gates before the start of this season.
The move was part of Major League Baseball's 2015 mandate to standardize security at all 30 ballparks.
Minnesota TSA official: PreCheck status handed out "like candy" - Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:01
Mark ReillyManaging EditorMinneapolis / St. Paul Business JournalHow do you solve a problem like the TSA?
New TSA chief vows to fix airport security
The Jailhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast
Michael Fein | Bloomberg
TSA agents failed 67 of 70 in-house security tests to spot undercover agents carrying'... more
Security at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport doesn't come off very well in a new report that says the Transportation Security Administration is emphasizing speed over caution.
The New York Times has an interview with new TSA head Peter Neffenger, who is pledging to step up training and refocus the agency on prioritizing security. Much of the story, though, focuses on the TSA's recent fumbles, like failing 67 of 70 in-house security tests to spot undercover agents carrying concealed weapons, and conflicting internal communications over whether agents should concentrate on screening passengers or moving them through security.
Minneapolis comes up a lot. A security official at MSP Airport notes that an internal TSA performance report gave more attention to wait times than security; he says that when he reported concerns to TSA headquarters, the agency tried '-- unsuccessfully '-- to transfer him. The TSA denied the move was retaliatory.
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War on Men
Frigid offices, freezing women, oblivious men: An air-conditioning investigation - The Washington Post
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:02
You can spot them. The frozen ones who come outside at lunch like sun-seeking turtles, cardigans balled up next to them, bare shoulders defrosting in the noon sunlight, no matter how wilting it is outdoors.
Every single woman I talked to in downtown Washington on a hot, humid July afternoon was thawing out.
''I. Am. Fuh-reezing. Feel my hand '-- I'm still cold,'' said Ruth Marshall, 64, who was seated on a park bench, face to the sky. And, yes, her hand felt like a cold steak.
''I have to come out here for 30 minutes at a time just to warm up,'' said Marshall, the director of administration at a construction firm where the air conditioning is set to Arctic.
It's the time of year desperate women rely on cardigans, pashminas and space heaters to make it through the workweek in their frigid offices. And their male colleagues barely notice.
[Are menopausal women to blame for why it's so cold in your office?]
''Is your office too cold?'' I asked a clutch of men '-- pinstripes, charcoal pants, crisp shirts with the faint outline of undershirts beneath.
They looked at me as if I spoke in Finnish, confident faces contorted in puzzlement.
''Nah, I don't know what you're talking about.''
So I asked another guy in a navy suit eating a taco.
''No. It's fine.''
Two dudes in matching blue shirts and red ties?
''Fine.'' ''No.'' Zippity happity do da fine.
Hmm. A pattern?
Let's be scientific about this, then. How about a female-centric office? At Emily's List, which raises money for women running for office, the temperature setting must be female-friendly, right?
[Take our poll: Is your office too cold?]
''It's freezing '-- here's my sweater,'' said one of the outdoor she-turtles who works at the woman-powered firm.
''But we don't have control over the temperature on our floor,'' she clarified. ''It's set for the whole building.''
By a man, perhaps?
How about men and women who work in the same office? (Because we're doing top-notch investigative work here.)
I found a trio, two women '-- shoulders bare '-- and a man, in handsome navy twill pants and a smart, checkered, button-down shirt, eating lunch together.
They all work together at a company that deals with international education issues. How's the weather inside while they're working on educating the globe?
''It's fine.''
You know I don't have to tell you who said what.
[From the archives: A/C setting can push couples to the boiling point]
So there you have it: the gender divide, thermostat edition. All these women who actually dress for the season '-- linens, sundresses, flowy silk shirts, short-sleeve tops '-- changing their wardrobes to fit the sweltering temperatures around them.
And then there are the men, stalwart in their business armor, manipulating their environment for their own comfort, heaven forbid they make any adjustments in what they wear.
That's right, my friends. Air conditioning is another big, sexist plot.
''It's been going on for years, every building I've been in. It's awful,'' said Marshall, who has worked in Washington since 1973. ''Everything is set at 70 degrees for those testosterone-toting people.''
Marshall explained how frustrating it is to put on a pretty summer outfit and then get hit with that blast of cold. ''And you have to put on some jacked-up sweater you left at your desk.''
Okay. I think Marshall was finally heated up.
Setting the temperature to suit men is wrong in ways that go far beyond summer fashion.
Frozen workers make more errors and are less productive, according to Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis and director of Cornell's Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, who studied office temperatures about a decade ago.
Researchers had their hands on the controls at an insurance office for a month. And when they warmed the place from 68 to 77 degrees, typos went down by 44 percent and productivity went up by 150 percent.
Plus, the U.S. Energy Department estimates that you can save about 11 percent on power bills by raising the thermostat from 72 to 77 degrees.
And the men can just switch to more reasonable fashion choices for warmer offices. I see plenty of tan, summer suits around town. And even some linen or seersucker from the Southern delegations to D.C.
But come on, men, be bold.
I'm talking short suits. They're adorable! Plus, we'd all love to see your knees, guys.
Petula is a columnist for The Washington Post's local team who writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas prices, among other things.
Millennial email
Hi Adam,
Just wanted to let you know that I really liked the last two shows about the dire state of my generation.
I've only donated twice, but am heading over to set up monthly payment plan. It'll be small, but considering what a cheapskate I am it should speak volumes about how I feel about the show.
Your coverage of the whole "millennial everybody gets a trophy stuff" has been really interesting. I'm 25 and have worked really hard to buy a house out here in southern california. I sometimes feel like I'm the only 25 y/o who cares about anything other than bitching about how unfair everything is. I can't hang out with anyone under the age of 35 because everyone my age is so damn pathetic.
I'm able to fake it pretty well, in fact I'm a college instructor and healthcare administrator that interacts with millennials all day long.
I can have a good time and everything but It starts to make me feel a little crazy when I realize how little I have in common with these people. I went home from work today to put new wheel bearings on my car and negotiate with a window guy to replace my home's windows, while my 26-29 year old students went home to binge watch netflix and whine about republicans.
I'm not bragging about myself or something, in fact most of the time I feel like i don't really fit in. Haha I mostly pretend to be in my mid-thirties at work and it seems to work out pretty well. No one expects a 25 y/o to be capable of self-reflection and accountability so its a pretty easy sell!
Your show makes me feel normal, which is nice. You guys do a great job of being cynical without being too negative. That's a tough thing to do. Keep it up!
Take it easy,
Russia's Putin says opposes MH17 tribunal ahead of U.N. vote | Reuters
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:25
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26, 2015.
Reuters/RIA Novosti/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin
MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he opposed the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute those who shot down a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, hours before a U.N. vote on such a proposal.
Putin's comment was the latest to indicate Russia may block moves at the United Nations, co-sponsored by the Netherlands, to set up a U.N.-backed tribunal into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014.
Kiev and many Western countries accuse pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile, charges Moscow denies.
All 298 people on board, the majority of them Dutch, were killed and the Netherlands is leading an international investigation into the incident.
"The Russian president confirmed the unchanging position that it is inexpedient to create such a judicial body," the Kremlin said in a statement following a phone call between Putin and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The Dutch, along with Malaysia, Australia and most Western countries, are pushing for the tribunal, which they say would have the authority to investigate impartially and demand the extradition of suspects, whichever country might be harboring them.
Russia has said setting up a tribunal before investigations are complete would risk further politicizing the incident. Putin also regretted that Russia's own draft resolution, which demands justice for the victims but does not establish a tribunal, did not win the U.N. Security Council's backing.
The Netherlands said in a statement that it believed a tribunal would be the best way of achieving impartial justice.
"In order to avoid the risk of politicizing justice, it is best to set up the tribunal before deciding what the circumstances of the crash were," the Dutch government said.
The downing of the plane triggered a new round of Western economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and deepened the worst stand-off between Moscow and the West since the Cold War ended.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in more than 15 months of fighting in east Ukraine between the rebels and forces loyal to Kiev.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alison Williams)
Flaperon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:35
A flaperon is a type of aircraft control surface that combines aspects of both flaps and ailerons. In addition to controlling the roll or bank of an aircraft, as do conventional ailerons, both flaperons can be lowered together to function similarly to a dedicated set of flaps. Both ailerons could also be raised, which would give spoilerons.
The pilot has separate controls for ailerons and flaps. A mixer is used to combine the separate pilot input into this single set of control surfaces called flaperons. The use of flaperons instead of separate ailerons and flaps can reduce the weight of an aircraft. The complexity is transferred from having a double set of control surfaces (flaps and ailerons) to the mixer.
Many designs that incorporate flaperons mount the control surfaces away from the wing to provide undisturbed airflow at high angles of attack or low airspeeds.
When the flaperon surface is hinged below the trailing edge of a wing, they are sometimes named "Junker Flaperons", from the doppelfl¼gel type of trailing edge surfaces used on a number of Junkers aircraft of the 1930s, such as the Junkers Ju 52 airliner, and Junkers Ju 87Stuka iconic World War II dive bomber.
Notable aircraft using flaperons include the V-22 Osprey; and the experimental aircraft Zenith STOL CH 701, Zenith STOL CH 750, Zenith STOL CH 801. Kitfox, Vans RV-12, ICP Savannah and the IBIS[1]
Research[edit]Several technology research and development efforts exist to integrate the functions of aircraft flight control systems such as ailerons, elevators, elevons, flaps and flaperons into wings to perform the aerodynamic purpose with the advantages of less: mass, cost, drag, inertia (for faster, stronger control response), complexity (mechanically simpler, fewer moving parts or surfaces, less maintenance), and radar cross section for stealth. These may be used in many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and 6th generation fighter aircraft. Two promising approaches are flexible wings, and fluidics.
In flexible wings, much or all of a wing surface can change shape in flight to deflect air flow. The X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing is a NASA effort. The Adaptive Compliant Wing is a military and commercial effort.[2][3][4]
In fluidics, forces in vehicles occur via circulation control, in which larger more complex mechanical parts are replaced by smaller simpler fluidic systems (slots which emit air flows) where larger forces in fluids are diverted by smaller jets or flows of fluid intermittently, to change the direction of vehicles.[5][6][7] In this use, fluidics promises lower mass, costs (up to 50% less), and very low inertia and response times, and simplicity.
See also[edit]References[edit]^"Ibis Canard homebuilt airplane: J.C.Junqua RJ.03 IBIS" (in English and Fran§aise). Retrieved 27 April 2011. ^Scott, William B. (27 November 2006), "Morphing Wings", Aviation Week & Space Technology ^"FlexSys Inc.: Aerospace". Retrieved 26 April 2011. ^Kota, Sridhar; Osborn, Russell; Ervin, Gregory; Maric, Dragan; Flick, Peter; Paul, Donald. "Mission Adaptive Compliant Wing '' Design, Fabrication and Flight Test"(PDF). Ann Arbor, MI; Dayton, OH, U.S.A.: FlexSys Inc., Air Force Research Laboratory. Retrieved 26 April 2011. ^P John (2010). "The flapless air vehicle integrated industrial research (FLAVIIR) programme in aeronautical engineering". Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering (London: Mechanical Engineering Publications) 224 (4): 355''363. doi:10.1243/09544100JAERO580. ISSN 0954-4100. ^"Showcase UAV Demonstrates Flapless Flight". BAE Systems. 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-22. ^"Demon UAV jets into history by flying without flaps". (London: Associated Newspapers Limited). 28 September 2010. The anatomy of an STOL Design by Chris Heintz [1]
Drone Nation
Kentucky man shoots down drone hovering over his backyard | Ars Technica
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:46
William H. Merideth
Further ReadingThe way William Merideth sees it, it's pretty clear-cut: a drone flying over his backyard was a well-defined invasion of privacy, analogous to a physical trespassing.Not knowing who owned it, the Kentucky man took out his shotgun and fired three blasts of Number 8 birdshot to take the drone out.
"It was just right there," he told Ars. "It was hovering, I would never have shot it if it was flying. When he came down with a video camera right over my back deck, that's not going to work. I know they're neat little vehicles, but one of those uses shouldn't be flying into people's yards and videotaping."
Minutes later, a car full of four men that he didn't recognize rolled up, "looking for a fight."
"Are you the son of a bitch that shot my drone?" one said, according to Merideth.
His terse reply to the men, while wearing a 10mm Glock holstered on his hip: "If you cross that sidewalk onto my property, there's going to be another shooting."
The men backed down, retreated to their car, and waited for the police to arrive.
"His only comment was that he hoped I had a big checkbook because his drone cost $1,800," Merideth added.
The Kentuckian was arrested Sunday evening in Hillview, Kentucky, just south of Louisville and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He was released the following day. The Hillview Police Department did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.
The report of the downed drone comes a month after Ars reported on a similar incident in Modesto, California. But in that case, the drone operator was flying his drone over his parents' farm, and it was shot down by a neighbor.
Here, Merideth, who operates a local trucking company, said that he had seen "two or three" different drones in his backyard previously over the last year and was disturbed by their presence. "What recourse do we have?" he asked.
The 43-year-old man claimed that law enforcement officials, including the county jailer, told him privately that they agreed with his actions. "The people that own the drones and the people that hate guns are the only ones that disagree with what I did," he said. "Now, if I'd have had a .22 rifle, I should have gone to jail for that. The diameter of those things are going to come down with enough force to hurt somebody. Number 8 birdshot is not. Number 8 is the size of a pinhead. The bottom line is that it's a right to privacy issue and defending my property issue. It would have been no different had he been standing in my backyard. As Americans, we have a right to defend our rights and property."
So what's next in this bizarre tale?
"We have a lawyer and there's a court date and then there's going to be a hearing," Merideth said. "It's not going to stop with the two charges against me, which I'm confident that we'll get reduced or get dismissed completely."
And what would Merideth like to tell this errant drone operator when he meets him again?
"I would just like [him] to get some education on his toy and learn to respect the rights of the people," he said. "It's fine and dandy, and I think it's cool there's a camera on it, but just take it to a park or something'--he's not a responsible drone owner."
Anti-Drone Systems Are Starting to Take Off
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:44
Camera drones have opened a whole new world of possibilities for photographers looking for a way to capture aerial images, but the meteoric rise in drone adoption has also opened up Pandora's box as well. Now a new industry is emerging alongside the booming drone industry: anti-drone defense systems.New technologies are being developed in order to keep drones away from places they shouldn't be or doing things they shouldn't do.
Just last week, multiple drones kept firefighters grounded during a wildfire in Southern California. State senators responded by introducing new bills that give firefighters permission to take down drones that are interfering with rescue operations.
That's just one case in which authorities would like to have more control over the flight of consumer drones. Another would be the possibility of weaponized camera drones flying around. A lighthearted video of a fireworks-shooting drone went viral earlier this year, but people weren't laughing as much when a flying handgun drone was spotted on YouTube earlier this month:
The 18-year-old man that uploaded that video is now being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
As the number of these incidents and concerns mount, anti-drone defense systems may soon be a booming industry. The Wall Street Journal reports that quite a few companies are working on various solutions to neutralizing drones in the air.
Some of the systems use radio-frequency jamming to disrupt or hijack a drone's communication capabilities, forcing it to land or change course. A UK-based company called Blighter Surveillance offers this type of technology in a $1 million system called AUDS (the Anti-UAV Defence System). Here's a 3-minute video showing how AUDS works:
Other devices use high-powered lasers to shoot drones right out of the air from distances of hundreds of meters. One such device is an anti-drone laser being developed by a group of European defense companies, which apparently uses a consumer telephoto lens to spot its target. It successfully destroyed a flying drone from a distance of about 550 yards at a recent test:
An anti-drone laser. Still frame from Wall Street Journal.
Here's a 2-minute-long report by the Wall Street Journal on the rise of anti-drone technologies:
These anti-drone systems are just one way of addressing these new drone security issues. On the drone side of things, some manufacturers, including market leader DJI, have begun building ''no fly zone'' restrictions directly into the onboard firmware.
It'll also be interesting to see whether governments begin forcing drone makers to build extra security measures into the drones themselves '-- things like kill switches or ways for authorities to take control.
Danielle Moodie-Mills | About Danielle
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 06:27
Danielle Moodie-MillsFollow @DeeTwoCents
Educator, Advocate & Recovering Lobbyist Creator, Producer & Writer of PolitiniDanielle is an educator, advocate and government affairs specialist; and Advisor to the FIRE Initiative. She is also the creator of Politini. From the classroom to Capitol Hill she's spent her career promoting social justice. She was previously the lead education lobbyist for the National Wildlife Federation, and served as an aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg (NYC) and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-11). She is the Editor-in-Chief of threeLOL and her writings are frequently published in The Atlantic, Essence, and Huffington Post. She serves on the Board of SMYAL.
Named one of the top Forty-Under-40 national LGBT leaders by The Advocate magazine
Recognized as one of the top 100 emerging African American leaders by The Root
Profiled as a Change Agent by Womenetics
Donate Today - Planned Parenthood
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:25
Planned Parenthood has been the target of hackers seeking to intimidate and silence us. Hundreds of thousands of patients who rely on for health information and services have been denied access.
The attacks on Planned Parenthood are an attempt to cut people off from care, plain and simple. We can't let that happen, and we won't. Please chip in what you can to help make sure patients can get the care they need '-- and ensure that Planned Parenthood can't be silenced.
There's a New Planned Parenthood Video, But There's Just Nothing There | Mother Jones
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:05
Another day, another video hit job on Planned Parenthood. Apparently the strategy here is to release new videos every three or four days and hope that mere repetition is enough to convince people that something'--something'--must be wrong here. Over at National Review, Ian Tuttle is disturbed:
At the 10:22 mark of the Center for Medical Progress's latest video, released today, there is a picture of a hand. By the curve of the thumb and the articulation of the fingers, one can see that it is a right hand. It was formerly the right hand of an 11.6-week-old fetus; it is now part of the various organic odds and ends being sifted through on a plate in the pathology lab of a Planned Parenthood clinic.
....I keep calling it a hand. Maybe I shouldn't....But I see a hand '-- five fingers and lines across the joints, like you learn to sketch in art class. I see a hand in form no different from my own. Or no different from Horowitz's hands, or Edison's, or Michelangelo's.
The most famous image Michelangelo painted was of hands: God's hand extended to Adam's....The sculptor Auguste Rodin spent much of his life fashioning hands....Rodin prefigured Heidegger's observation: ''My hand . . . is not a piece of me. I myself am entirely in each gesture of the hand, every single time.''....Galen of Pergamon, the great Greek physician, in his treatise On the Use of the Various Parts of the Body, noted that to man alone had the Creator chosen to give the hand, the only instrument ''applicable to every art and occasion'':
....The gods, the arts, survival, history '-- all that we are has required, literally, many hands. In the hand, the whole man, and in the man, the whole cosmos.
Now, in a pie dish, for sale.
That's very poetic, but like the video itself, tells us nothing. Yes, Planned Parenthood donates fetal tissue to medical research facilities. They charge enough to cover their costs, nothing more. Among the tissue they donate are hands. And this is not a sinister "black market," as the video claims: It's done in the open with the permission of the mother, and the tissue is transferred only to qualified researchers.
The idea behind the video, of course, is that it's supposed to automatically trigger disgust in us. And it does. After all, most of us felt a little disgusted when we dissected frogs in 9th grade biology. It's just part of human nature, and the Planned Parenthood haters are smart to take advantage of it.
But you know what? I'm an organ donor. I'm not sure my organs are actually safe for harvesting anymore, but if they are, then my body will be chopped up and used for its best and highest purpose when I'm dead. Some organs will be used for transplants, I hope. Some will be given to research laboratories. Some may end up as the raw materials for other stuff. If I were alive and watching, I'd probably feel pretty queasy. And yet, no one really blinks an eye at the routine job of harvesting organs and tissue from dead people who have given their permission.
This is no different. It's every bit as altruistic and admirable as harvesting useful tissue from adults. Period.
So far, the worst anyone has come up with from these videos is that some of the Planned Parenthood folks caught on tape used a "tone" that was unfortunate. Give me a break. This is the way any doctor talks among other health care professionals. They're experienced enough to talk plainly about their work in private, and they make jokes about it like any normal person. It's simply wrong to pretend that this is anything ominous.
And that hand on the pie dish? Who knows? It might save someone's life someday.
POSTSCRIPT: And I'll repeat what I said before. If you think abortion is murder, then of course you object to the use of organs and tissue from aborted fetuses. If you don't, then you think it's fine. There's nothing new going on here. It's just a slightly different twist on the same fight between pro-lifers and pro-choicers that's been going on for decades
Burning Flags
Don't Forget To Laugh! Facing protests, Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' Reminds Us That the Art of a Joke Is All About Context '' Tablet Magazine
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:04
Mel Brooks originally unleashed The Producers on the world in 1968 as a film, for which he won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. In 2001, he adapted the script for the stage, earning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Producers remains one of the most popularly and critically successful musicals ever made. Which means that plenty of us really like laughing at Hitler.
The plot is simple enough: Max and Leo, two Broadway producers, scheme to become millionaires by putting on the worst flop Broadway's ever seen. Their search for a lousy script leads them to Springtime For Hitler: A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden, a love letter to Hitler written by Nazi sympathizer Franz Liebkind. After procuring the exclusive rights to the script from Liebkind'--which they earn by swearing their eternal allegiance to Hitler'--they convince the flamboyantly gay and notoriously lousy director Roger de Bris to sign on to the production, with permission to make Springtime for Hitler ''just as gay as anyone could possibly want.'' But though Max and Leo are sure Roger's antics will offend audiences and force their show to close immediately, camping up Hitler backfires. Audiences love the show, and critics rave. Max and Leo learn a lesson as their flop becomes a hit: Hitler, in the right hands, can be a real treat for audiences.
Alas, not everyone understands the humor in seeing the 20th century's cruelest dictator prance around stage like a mincing queen, as I discovered this summer during a regional production I've been performing in at the Olney Theatre Center in suburban Maryland. Several weeks into our run, our company management and a few of our actors began receiving messages via email and Twitter from a man who was concerned about our willingness to joke about such sensitive material.
Here's how he appealed to readers of his blog:
We need you to urge [the theater] to end the scenes in the Olney Theatre presentation about Adolf Hitler and the twisted ''comedy'' of ''Springtime for Hitler.'' They will tell you it is a satire. They will tell you it is their artistic freedom. They will get Mel Brooks and theater reviewers to defend how ''funny'' it is. Mr. Brooks, actors, and comedians have a right to their personal twisted sense of humor. But when symbols of racist hatred are displayed in public areas, mocking the tragedies the world has suffered, they need to take their sense of ''humor'' elsewhere. '... TELL THEM ''ENOUGH.'' '... TELL THEM ''TAKE IT DOWN.''
Several times, he stood outside our theater protesting our musical. ''SAY NO TO HITLER MUSICAL,'' read one of his signs; another warned ''HITLER NO JOKE.'' He urged citizens to call our artistic director to let him know ''they don't find Hitler to be entertaining.'' He also tried to organize larger protests, but nobody else ever showed. One evening before I started getting ready for the show, I went outside and asked him to explain his rationale for protesting a comedy. He answered that at a time when Americans are intent on eradicating Confederate imagery from public places, it's only right that they would expand their efforts in removing all symbols of hatred (e.g. Hitler, swastikas).
When I asked if it mattered how the material was used, or the fact that it was created by a Jew who fought in WWII, or the fact that the script is satirical, his answer was essentially that context doesn't matter.
But of course context matters. Brooks wasn't trying to whitewash Hitler, and he certainly wasn't trying to glorify him. As Brooks has often explained, he saw it as his goal to mock Hitler. ''You can't get on a soapbox with these orators, because they're very good at convincing the masses they're right,'' he said in an interview. ''But if you can make them look ridiculous, then you can win over the people.'' If he was going to go toe to toe with Hitler, he had to rely on the only weapon he had to annihilate his opponent: comedy.
Brooks' comedy is evident throughout The Producers'--but it's the responsibility of audiences and critics to listen for it. And that's where so many recent critics who've positioned themselves as gatekeepers of comedy have fallen short.
Take, for example, Lena Dunham's infamous New Yorker quiz, ''Dog or Jewish Boyfriend?'' which asked the reader to determine whether or not a list of 35 statements referred to her dog or her boyfriend. Though Dunham has been wildly received by pop culture critics, many took the opportunity to pounce on her and scold her for her offensive, insensitive jokes. Politico's Ben White called it ''anti-Semitic garbage.'' Even the Anti-Defamation League released a statement, calling the piece ''tasteless,'' particularly for its evocation of harmful stereotypes. Then there was the stink over Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart's successor on the Daily Show, who made jokes about women and Jews that some found offensive. The most recent controversy centered on up-and-comer Amy Schumer, one of the feistiest comics ever to grace Comedy Central Roasts. ''Don't believe her defenders,'' read a Washington Postheadline, ''Amy Schumer's jokes are racist.''
In each of these instances, the worst was assumed about the comedian, and no effort was made to understand the joke as a joke. Takedown articles were issued with dizzying speed, sometimes even accompanied with a demand for the culprit to lose their job. Who could forget the Justine Sacco debacle, where Twitter went after, and got fired, a theretofore-unknown HR worker for tweeting a joke about AIDS? The irony, of course, was that Sacco's joke actually very comically called issue to white American privilege, the very issue her critics were going on about.
But understanding that would've taken Twitter users a few seconds worth of thought, which is something that Twitter users don't often seem to have. The name of the game on Twitter, and, indeed, in a digital publishing industry that's indebted to Twitter, is speed. The joke is made, the article written and shared, the outrage provoked, and, if all goes according to plan, no time or energy is expended on thinking.
A former editor of mine, aware of this trend, once called a meeting to warn staff writers to be careful with our tweeting. Before you tweet a joke, he said, think about what the most uncharitable interpretation of that could be'--because that's the interpretation someone will certainly share. For months, before I dared joke on social media, I had to ask myself, ''What is the worst way my worst Twitter follower will read this?'' I'd heard of playing the room, but this was ridiculous.
There's been a lot of discussion the past few months about how a culture of political correctness is killing comedy. And Jerry Seinfeld is right'--it is. But there's something else that's killing comedy: our inability to read. To pay attention to context. To listen for the author's voice. To look for her intention. Do we really think Louis CK finds child molestation funny? Do we really think Gilbert Gottfried is happy about 2011 tsunami in Japan? Or is it more likely that they, like most comics, are, you know, making jokes about the things we find most difficult to deal with? Bill Maher's advice about learning to take a joke comes in handy here. So does GK Chesterton's caution against self-importance: ''Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.''
It was clear that the protester outside The Producers had only ''skimmed'' the show, and as a result, had no idea about the power of Brooks' ironic voice. Perhaps he could learn something from Brooks' grandson. In the documentary Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, Susan Stroman recalls a heart-warming exchange backstage at The Producers between Brooks and his grandson.
''Is Hitler a good guy or a bad guy?'' the boy asked.
When his grandfather told him Hitler was a bad guy, the grandson seemed taken back. ''Then why did Hitler make me laugh?''
''Hitler didn't make you laugh,'' said Brooks. ''I made you laugh.''
Previous:Watching 'The Producers,' Nearly 50 Years LaterSeinfeld: Climate of Political Correctness is Hurting Comedy
Brandon Ambrosino has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, TIME, The New Republic, Pacific Standard, and Daily Beast.
War on Cats
Push for 24-hour cat curfew to protect native animals |
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:53
Nicole Hasham -Jul 28, 2015
The government is seeking to control feral cats. Photo: Kate Leith
Cat owners who live near areas containing threatened species could be banned from allowing their pets outdoors as the federal government sets its sights on the potential killing machines.
Australia's first threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, said all cat owners should keep their pets contained 24 hours a day, saying it makes them happier and healthier, and saves native mammals.
But a veterinarian said the measure, already in place in some jurisdictions, could cause health and behavioural problems and should be implemented with caution.
The government's feral cat plan, released this month, has drawn ire from cat lovers the world over - including French film legend Brigitte Bardot - as it sets out to cull 2 million feral cats.
The plan also seeks to control the roaming habits of domestic cats, which can kill native wildlife and breed with feral cats.
The plan says the government will seek public support for expanded "24-hour containment requirements for domestic cats, particularly close to identified conservation areas of significance". It listed the measure as a high priority.
Mr Andrews said conservation areas will include 12 million hectares of land across Australia where the government plans to bait feral cats. Exact locations will be determined after consultation with experts.
It would include Commonwealth land such as national parks and defence land, and may also involve contained areas such as peninsulas where feral cat control measures have a good chance of success.
Mr Andrews said community engagement was important and "we are not planning to go in and tell people what to do".
"In terms of getting the most effective outcome, [we will] work where communities are already making these decisions," he said.
"The plan over the long term is to make this part of our culture, and then it becomes normalised '... It's a journey that Australia has to go on."
He said cat containment measures in the ACT required cats in some suburbs to be kept indoors. If allowed outside, they must be on a leash or in an enclosure.
The federal government does not have the power to make laws on domestic or feral cats, but Mr Andrews said it would work with state, territory and local governments to expand cat containment.
The plan says the measures will require "education and enforcement" and should be implemented over time "so it does not cause an unnecessary financial burden on those who cannot afford the containment options, or lead to dumping of domestic cats".
Since 2005, cat containment areas have been declared in 12 Canberra suburbs adjacent to nature reserves.
The ACT government is considering an expert report that recommends the measure be extended across the territory.
But Canberra vet Michael Archinal cautioned against a "one size fits all approach", because not all cats coped well with confinement.
"Some cats are very stressed when they are confined, it can actually induce behavioural issues and some physical problems as well," he said.
Dr Archinal said confined cats could develop bladder issues and behavioural problems because they were prevented from scratching trees, marking, exploring and finding mental stimulation.
The RSPCA says it prefers cat owners keep their pets contained, as long as the animals' needs are met.
An Animals Australia spokeswoman said it supported cat confinement, but had concerns about the government's potential baiting and trapping plans.
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Obama Nation
Health insurer Anthem's profit beats as Medicaid memberships rise | One America News Network
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:18
(Reuters) '' Health insurer Anthem Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, driven by strong enrollments in its government business, particularly Medicaid.
Managed care companies that sell government-sponsored plans for the under-insured or uninsured have benefited from the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, boosting revenue in that business.
Revenue from the government business rose 25.7 percent during the second quarter ended June 30, helped by an 11 percent rise in Medicaid membership.
The health insurance industry, which has seen two big-ticket acquisitions this month, is rapidly consolidating as insurers seek to cut costs and negotiate with doctors and hospitals over pricing.
Anthem agreed to buy smaller rival Cigna Corp last week in a deal valued at $54.2 billion to become the largest U.S. health insurer. Rival Aetna Inc offered to buy Humana Inc for $37 billion.
Anthem said it expects 2015 adjusted net income to be more than $10 per share, up from its previous estimate of more than $9.90 per share.
Analysts were expecting full-year earnings of $10.11 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Anthem's consolidated benefit ratio, a measure comparing how much it spends on medical claims with the premiums it brings in, improved to 82.1 percent in the quarter from 82.7 percent a year ago.
The metric is keenly watched by investors, who are keeping a close eye on insurers and hospitals for signs of a rise in medical use and costs.
Net income rose to $859.1 million, or $3.13 per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, from $731.1 million, or $2.56 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Anthem earned $3.10 per share, well above the average analyst estimate of $2.77.
Revenue rose 8.3 percent to $20.02 billion, topping analysts' expectations of $19.63 billion.
(Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
Jon Stewart's secret White House visits
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:48
Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal's office.
In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that ''there will be costs'' if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.
To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments '-- previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides '-- speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.
Love Stewart's jokes or hate them, he has proven to be a unique voice who is capable of turning in-the-weeds policy discussions into viral video sensations that the country is still talking about the next morning.
As the White House recognized, Stewart can, at times, be a more potent influence on policy than Obama himself. The 52-year-old funnyman is widely credited with changing how the government treated military veterans and Sept. 11 first responders and for canceling a hyper-partisan CNN talk show. His broadsides against President George W. Bush's Iraq war and a series of Obama missteps had a searing effect on how Americans thought about Washington.
Top Obama aides David Axelrod and Austan Goolsbee knew Stewart's voice mattered and made sure to field calls and emails from the host and Daily Show staff.
Looking back on Stewart's 16-year run, which ends with a final show next Thursday, Democratic and Republican officials, including many of the lawmakers and administration aides he's routinely skewered, said in interviews there are plenty of identifiable marks where Stewart has made a difference.
''I'd be hard pressed to think of a person who spoke with the same amount of authority to that big of a group of people,'' said Eric Lesser, a former Obama White House aide now serving in the Massachusetts state Senate. Reminded that he had once worked for the president of the United States, Lesser quickly added this caveat: ''People in media.''
STEWART ROSE TO prominence just as the stature of network news anchors faded. With the departure of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, a new generation of news consumers turned to Stewart for his satire and commentary, and in the process got schooled on the headlines of the day.
Even though his live TV audience averages around 1.3 million '-- a mix of liberal, educated viewers including the hard-to-reach 18 to 34-year-old males '-- Comedy Central's searchable archive system also helped the cause because every segment can live on on the Web.
''He's a modern day Will Rogers and Mark Twain,'' Sen. John McCain, a frequent Republican guest on Stewart's show, said in an interview.
Stewart's tearful opening monologue nine days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 effectively served as the opening salvo of an ongoing crusade for firefighters, policemen and other people who came to the World Trade Center site ''literally with buckets, rebuilding.''
Nearly a decade later, Stewart invited four of those responders, sick with a variety of serious ailments, to explain their health situations. Their graphic discussion helped break a legislative logjam in the Senate by shaming Republicans who at the time were filibustering a bill that would provide billions in health benefits and compensation to the 9/11 responders who had become ill after their work at Ground Zero. Congress passed the legislation three days after Stewart's show.
''What took us eight years of walking the halls of Congress, Jon Stewart in 22 minutes literally moved mountains and gave us a heartbeat again when we were flat lined,'' said John Feal, an Army veteran and post-9/11 clean-up worker.
In March 2009, Stewart discussed the new Obama administration's idea of removing veterans with private insurance plans from the VA rolls. ''That can't be right,'' he intoned. The Obama White House scrapped the plan one day after his segment aired, and veterans' advocates recall Stewart's commentary being discussed during a West Wing meeting with senior aides including then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Other examples of Stewart crusading for the vets include a May 2014 bit lampooning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki for giving mild-mannered answers to Congress about an epic backlog in medical disability claims. He diagnosed Shinseki and others in the administration as having ''PBSD: post bureaucratic stress disorder.''
''I don't think there's been a single person in the media who's more strongly influenced the support of veterans' policies than Jon Stewart,'' said Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Stewart's successes extend into simple public discourse too, most notably with an October 2004 guest appearance on CNN's ''Crossfire'' that helped change the lineup for daytime cable television talk shows. In a live segment, Stewart pleaded with co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to ''stop hurting America'' with their partisan bickering. Three months later, citing Stewart's comments, CNN cancelled the show and ended its relationship with Carlson.
''I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise,'' CNN President Jonathan Klein said at the time, according to a report from The New York Times.
Last month, Stewart had another straight-to-the-camera moment, channeling his disgust over what he said would be a ''we won't do jack shit'' national response to the gun rampage in Charleston, S.C., that left nine African Americans dead.
''The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals,'' Stewart said near the end of his nearly six-minute monologue. ''And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him.''
Many credit Stewart with helping set the tone for the sweeping national debate about the appropriateness of flying the Confederate flag, and its eventual removal from the South Carolina state Capitol.
''Whether it's guns or on the VA or anything like that, he tried to reflect back I think a national sentiment or national mood to policy makers, and he did it sometimes poignantly and he did it other times very harshly, with very harsh words and biting humor but the idea is, 'I need you to pay attention to this and I need you to do something better,' '' said Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman.
Former Vice President Al Gore gushed over Stewart's successes because of his commitment to explaining global warming science.
''At a time when many traditional news outlets shied away from clearly reporting the urgency of the climate crisis, Jon consistently cut through the absurdity of climate denial night after night,'' Gore said in an email.
In a rare interview, Sen. Al Franken, the former writer and actor on ''Saturday Night Live,'' said Stewart ''made the platform'' for serious satiric television news shows. ''None of this makes any difference if he's not hugely talented,'' he said. ''He's not only got talent. He's got a great work ethic. He's very intelligent. And he has integrity.''
While Stewart's politics are seen by many as center-left, he also has a populist streak heavy on fiscal responsibility, good government and fighting for the little guy. ''He doesn't have a permanent allegiance to the Democratic party by any means,'' said Goolsbee, the former Obama White House chief economic adviser. ''But he struck me as he's got a progressive approach and like a low tolerance for bullshit slash spin, which Washington is full of.''
Republicans caution that Stewart is no easy-to-pigeonhole liberal either.
''That's just too easy,'' said Steele, who Stewart mocked in a memorable segment by creating the RNC chairman's likeness as a blue puppet. ''It's a throw-away. If you go down that road you miss the impact if not the importance that he has had on political dialogue in this country, that he's had on policymakers.''
Steele explained that he would often hear from college Republicans while on the road asking if he had seen a Stewart clip, and that forced him to rethink GOP positions on a range of issues, from student debt and the job market for college graduates to gay marriage.
''I certainly in my efforts to expand the reach of the party made note of the fact there were things that were brought up and talked about on his show that we weren't focused on that we should take a look at,'' Steele said.
Ann Ravel, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, said Stewart and his former Comedy Central colleague Stephen Colbert didn't spark any obvious changes in campaign finance policy when they set up a super PAC during the 2012 presidential election to lampoon the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision giving corporations free speech rights to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns. But, she said, the two comedians got the country talking about esoteric campaign finance policies.
''They raised the issue to the American public in a way that no one has ever done,'' she said.
Stewart, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has repeatedly downplayed his influence. When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared on The Daily Show in January 2011 thanking Stewart for what his 9/11 first responders segment had done to break the legislative gridlock, he replied, ''Well, that's the thing that's crazy. The idea that something has to be on television to mean anything is what's so crazy. '... I do feel like we drove by a burning car on a highway and went 'Uh, someone should call that in.' ''
LATE NIGHT TV is usually the stuff of one-liners and celebrities, movie and music plugs that help Americans fall asleep. Stewart invented a different approach, with pained attempts to explain the ins and outs of a cap-and-trade bill to curb carbon emissions and frequent reminders during the Bush years that the fighting in Iraq '-- and the search for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction '-- weren't going so well.
Stewart's comic progeny will carry the torch: Daily Show alumni Colbert takes over for David Letterman on CBS this fall; John Oliver has dedicated lengthy segments of his HBO program to complicated topics like net neutrality, predatory lending and chicken farming; Larry Wilmore engages panelists on the news of the day in Colbert's old 11:30 p.m. time slot. South African comic Trevor Noah takes over The Daily Show later this year.
But do any of the above equate to Stewart?
''I'll tell you some Democrats are worried,'' said Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who says she was motivated to write her first book with the hope of being a guest on his show '-- only to find out it's coming out five days after Stewart goes off the air. ''He's done a great thing for us reminding young people why the Republican party is out of step.''
Conservatives like Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican and climate change skeptic, dismiss Stewart as a shill for Obama and the left.
''I've never seen him,'' said Inhofe, who recently was the butt of Daily Show jokes for throwing a snowball on the Senate floor to demonstrate manmade climate change isn't real. ''There's a lot of liberal press I just don't pay attention to.''
Joe Davis, a spokesman at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he doesn't buy into the premise that Stewart's work has helped clean up the VA. ''With all due respect to Mr. Stewart, the VFW over the past year testified before Congress like 30 times,'' he said. ''I don't remember him providing any expert testimony at the witness table.''
McCain, for his part, said he thinks The Daily Show ''had an effect in a more indirect way, but [it] certainly had an effect.''
''He talked to young people. Young people watch him. Young people vote,'' McCain said. ''So I don't think that there's any doubt that with his comedy'' '-- the senator smiled and held up two fingers like quotation marks as he said 'comedy' '-- ''that he had an effect on the workings of government.''
AND, QUITE OFTEN, that effect took the form of either prodding, or working in concert with, the Obama administration.
In Stewart's first show after his February 2014 visit to the White House, he picked up on the Russia-Ukraine news that Obama had spoken about in the press briefing room a few hours after their private chat. In a segment titled 'It's a Vlad, Vlad, Vlad, Vlad World,' Stewart giggled as he displayed a picture of the shirtless Russian leader '-- ''Heil Titler,'' he joked. Then he showed a video of Vladimir Putin at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and wondered if he was ''even paying attention at the Olympics? '... Or did you consider the parade of nations a browsing opportunity?''
Obama White House officials enjoyed it when Stewart was singing from the same hymnal. But they also were quick to pay attention when he turned against them.
''He's an expert shamer,'' said Dag Vega, a former White House staffer who was in charge of booking the president and other administration officials onto The Daily Show.
Axelrod, a frequent Stewart guest, kept in touch with the host by phone and email. In an interview, Axelrod said Stewart was ''a useful prod'' for the administration.
''I can't say that because Jon Stewart was unhappy policy changed. But I can say that he had forceful arguments, they were arguments that we knew would be heard and deserved to be answered,'' Axelrod said.
Goolsbee said he would often wince at Stewart's assaults on the Obama White House and Capitol Hill Democrats. He recalled one particularly tough January 2010 episode in which Stewart used a clip from the 1980s TV show 'The Wonder Years' to question why the Democrats ever expected Republicans to negotiate in good faith on issues from climate change to taxes to financial reform. ''You're just cringing,'' Goolsbee said. ''Oh God. I think the main thing that you're hoping is you're hoping in your heart of hearts he's not right.''
Like Axelrod, Goolsbee acknowledged he would stay in touch with The Daily Show staff: He emailed with his former Yale classmate and improv comedy partner Scott Bodow, who joined The Daily Show as a writer in 2002 and now is an executive producer.
That work-the-umps strategy also involved the president, who used his two Oval Office meetings with Stewart as a chance to sell the administration's ideas. At the 2011 sit-down, Goolsbee said, the president wanted to counter his critics on the left and lay the groundwork for his 2012 re-election campaign.
''The White House itself was quite interested in at least explaining its side of the story to Jon Stewart,'' Goolsbee said, ''up to and including the president.''
Obama ultimately appeared seven times on Stewart's show '-- in their last joint appearance together earlier this month the president joked that he would issue an executive order to keep the host on the air. "I can't believe you're leaving before me,'' Obama said
Who Should Be Allowed to Compete as a Female Athlete? -
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:14
Should the size and shape of a woman's breasts be considered factors in whether she is allowed to participate in elite athletic competitions like the Olympic Games? It sounds a bit ridiculous, but since 2011, breast size and shape have helped determine whether a woman may have testosterone levels deemed too high to be allowed to compete with other women.
That all changed on Monday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Swiss-based organization that settles disputes within international sport, suspendedthe testosterone policy of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which oversees track and field. The ruling is the latest development in efforts by sports officials to figure out a scientifically valid and procedurally fair way to determine an athlete's eligibility to compete as a man or a woman in elite sports.
After more than 50 years of missteps in trying to implement policies that were variously deeply flawed and well meaning, the sports community finally has a chance to get the male/female eligibility question right.
This week's decision was in response to a complaint filed by Dutee Chand, a talented young Indian sprinter, who one year ago had been ruled ineligible to compete because of a reported level of natural testosterone that exceeded the 2011 regulations governing hyperandrogenism, a condition that can lead to high levels of that hormone.
Dutee Chand
Graham Crouch for The New York Times
Decision makers often look to science to provide clear-cut answers to difficult questions of policy. In this case, the question was, who is a female for purposes of elite athletic competition?
Unfortunately, science is pluralistic and the world is complicated. The court of arbitration found this out in a hurry. ''The expert witnesses each relied on different published papers to support his or her view'' and ''no single study has established, to an appropriate level of certainty, a scientific basis to come to a definitive conclusion one way or the other,'' the court said.
Yet, the court agreed that testosterone could, potentially, be used for purposes of eligibility. The problem of course is that many other physical characteristics could also be used, like chromosomal makeup, the presence of reproductive organs or even height, but each of these markers is problematic.
So, too, is testosterone. The court found that high testosterone did not necessarily offer performance benefits so large as to justify creating ''a new category of ineligible female athletes within the female category'' and are thus ''discriminatory.''
Thus, as the court put it, the I.A.A.F. finds itself ''in the invidious position of having to reconcile the existence of a binary male/female system of athletics categorization with the biological reality that sex in humans is a continuum with no clear or singular boundary between men and women.''
The court suspended the testosterone rule for two years and will reinstate it only if the I.A.A.F. can prove that women with high testosterone benefit from a performance advantage so significant that they should be excluded from competing against other women. This does not appear to be in the cards.
So a new eligibility policy is needed. What should it be?
An obvious answer starts with realizing that science cannot provide answers in black and white when the world is colored in shades of gray.
Instead, we should look at the male/female categorization in terms of gender rather than sex. Sex is biology, gender is a social construction. An analogy to using gender to determine eligibility can be found in the idea of nationality, also a social construction. Sports bodies have rigorous rules for determining who gets to represent what nation in competition and for those who wish to change their eligibility. ''Anything goes'' is not allowed.
At the core of a new policy should be the principle that any elite athlete who, as in the case of Ms. Chand, participates consistently as a female in junior competitions, and continues to do so following puberty in senior-level competitions, should not have their eligibility questioned. Full stop. There is no need to subject her to biological tests or examine her breasts.
In its decision the court of arbitration stated the obvious: ''Dutee Chand is a woman.'' That is plenty enough justification for her to participate in female events in elite competition. It is time to face what the evidence is telling us '-- science can't answer this question, but we still can.
Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Talented Trailblazers: A Look at Influential and Trendsetting LGBT Entertainers
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:39
It's a liberating time to live in the U.S. With the milestone Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 U.S. states coming at the tail end of Pride Month, it's evident that people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) are influencing policy and equal rights in significant ways. And as evidenced by the critical acclaim for Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in ''Orange is the New Black'' and soccer star Abby Wambach helping the U.S. Women's team claim victory in the World Cup, entertainers who identify as LGBT are not only some of today's most recognizable personalities'--they're highly influential as well.
A recent Nielsen study found singer Elton John, who's long been recognized for his music and his outspokenness on LGBT rights, and singer-songwriter Barry Manilow, to be highly influential. The two were viewed as such by 56% and 47% of Americans, respectively. Influential performers like these two helped set the stage on which a new generation of LGBT musicians continue to thrive. This past year, Sam Smith became the first openly gay artist to win the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album, and in 2009 Adam Lambert was the runner-up on American Idol. And now, Lambert is considered a trendsetting LGBT entertainer, seen as one by 24% of Americans who recognize him. LGBT consumers may be most likely to recognize EDM (electronic dance music) artists, according to Nielsen's upcoming 2015 LGBT Consumer Report, but the influence of rock and pop artists such as these can't be ignored.
News personalities are among some of today's most influential LGBT entertainers across all genres. Over half of those who know Suze Orman (51%) found her to be influential. Similarly, 50% of Americans who know Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow found them to be influential.
Ellen DeGeneres is a major influencer in her own right, having come out publicly in 1997 during the fourth season of her TV sitcom, ''Ellen,'' and now in her 12th season as host of her own talk show. Compared with the average talk show host, DeGeneres boasts an awareness rating 61% higher and a likeability rating 35% higher. Additionally, she's viewed as a role model by nearly 40% of people who know her.
DeGeneres' status has certainly helped her cross her stardom from the small screen to voicing beloved characters such as Dory in ''Finding Nemo'' on the big screen, but she isn't the only LGBT star to do so. Laverne Cox, seen as a role model by more than one-third of Americans who are aware of her, and best known for her role in "Orange is the New Black,'' recently appeared as a transgender tattoo artist in Lily Tomlin's film ''Grandma.''
INFLUENCE INTO ACTIONWhether LGBT or straight, the ability to influence consumers to watch a TV show or commercial, or buy an advertiser's product, can make any entertainer more marketable '' just ask American Express, CoverGirl and J.C. Penny: they've all signed the highly influential DeGeneres as a spokeswoman. Here are examples of LGBT spokespeople who seem to be a good fit with the products they endorse, as their fans also have an affinity toward it. Compared to the general U.S. population:
Fans of Heineken spokesperson Neil Patrick Harris are 5% more likely to drink beer and 15% more likely to have consumed imported beer in the past 30 days. Adverts featuring NPH are also likely to have reached the LGBT community beyond just his fans; the top indexing category for LGBT consumers is liquor, according to the upcoming LGBT report.Fans of Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, a breast cancer survivor who partnered with WebMD recently to explore the future of health, are 26% more likely to have health insurance and 11% more likely to have bought medicine/prescription medications online in past 12 months. They're also 18% more likely to belong to health/fitness club or gym.Fans of Jim Parsons, who plays lovable nerd Sheldon on CBS' The Big Bang Theory and is a spokesperson for Intel, are more likely to own items like a wearable device (23% more likely) or a smart TV (20% more likely). They're also 25% more likely to have shopped online for consumer electronics in the past month.CAITLYN JENNER: A SHIFT IN PERCEPTIONCaitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, has gained the spotlight recently for coming out as a transgender woman. Prior to her interview with Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner '' surveyed as Bruce Jenner at the time '' was known by 86% of Americans. Following the interview on 20/20, her awareness among the general U.S. population rose to 93%, while her likability remained the about the same (24% before and 26% after the interview). Comparatively, Jenner gained ground in both influence and trendsetting after the interview, as both rose significantly from when she was surveyed as Bruce Jenner: influence increased from 19% to 27%, and trendsetting grew from 5% to 15%. Her transition wasn't universally well received, however. Her offensive rating went from 16% pre-interview to 26% post-interview.
Perceptions, however, can vary depending on factors like age or even the region where you live. For instance, people under the age of 34 were more likely than those aged 55 and older to think of Jenner as influential and trendsetting following interview. And conversely, the jump in her offensive rating was twice as high among Americans over the age of 55. The under 34 year-old set was more likely to consider Jenner successful (38% to 42%) and a role model (13% to 19%) now than a year ago, while those over age 55 were less likely to consider her a role model (14% to 9%) and successful (44% to 34%).
Additional insights on LGBT celebrities who have broken ground in the entertainment industry, as well as the media and purchase habits of U.S. LGBT consumers, will be available in Nielsen's 2015 LGBT Consumer Report.
MethodologyNielsen Talent Analytics is the collective Nielsen intelligence, insights and solutions for linking brands and audiences to entertainment personalities. Nielsen N-Score is Nielsen's syndicated tool for evaluating the endorsement potential for personalities across the sports, television, film, music, book publishing and radio industries. Approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers who are representative of the U.S. population are surveyed on a weekly basis (English-only) and are asked to assess 50 different personalities, including awareness and likeability along with 10 other attributes. Nielsen N-Score survey data can then be linked to other Nielsen solutions to produce additional segmentation and demographic information.
Michael Moore Surprises with New ''Stealth'' Film To Be Launched at Toronto Film Fest | Showbiz411
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:49
HomeMoviesMichael Moore Surprises with New ''Stealth'' Film To Be Launched at Toronto...In the pack of titles announced today for the Toronto Film Festival: a ''stealth'' film by Michael Moore called ''Where to Invade Next.'' So far there is no distributor. The whole thing is being handled by WME and Ari Emanuel, the ''real'' Ari from ''Entourage (if you didn't know) whose brother is the mayor of Chicago.
Moore's been shooting on the sly'' (I wondered why he'd been so quiet lately.) Moore's film is definitely timed to current events, although I think his work is getting more anecdotally interesting than headline making. But we'll see come September. This is going to be the hottest ticket in Toronto, by far.
The doc will explore the military industrial complex, a subject no one can be tired of and is always eye opening no matter what your political affiliation.
Moore is the winner of the 2003 Best Documentary Oscar for ''Bowling for Columbine,'' a movie that reverberates now as every week we hear about another mass shooting somewhere. His other hit documentaries with lasting impact include ''Fahrenheit 911,'' ''Sicko'' and ''Roger and Me.''
Keep refreshing, as details come in'...
AuthorRoger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News. He writes for Parade magazine and has written for Details, Vogue, the New York Times, Post, and Daily News and many other publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals.
Hillary 2016
The Missing Hillary Emails No One Can Explain - The Daily Beast
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:44
Hide and Seek07.28.158:30 PM ET
Two very different groups are trying to track down months' worth of Clinton emails. One wants to know about her reaction to Libyan violence; the other, about her aide Huma Abedin.
Among the hundreds of emails released by the State Department from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private account, there is a conspicuous two-month gap. So far, there are no emails between Clinton and her State Department staff during May and June 2012, a period of escalating violence in Libya leading up to the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
A State Department spokesman told The Daily Beast that for the year 2012, only those emails related to the security of the consulate or to the U.S. diplomatic presence in Libya were made public and turned over to a House committee investigating the fatal Benghazi assault. But if that's true, then neither Clinton nor her staff communicated via email about the escalating dangers in Libya during those two crucial months. There were three attacks during that two-month period, including one that targeted the consulate. (Of course, email isn't the only or even the preferred way State Department officials communicate about sensitive issues'--especially if one of those officials is using a private server ill equipped to handle classified information.)
Emails from that two-month period have also drawn outside interest for an entirely different reason. In the spring of 2012, a senior Clinton aide obtained a special exemption that allowed her to work both as a staff member to the secretary and in a private capacity for Clinton and her husband's foundation.
Understandably, the State Department hasn't turned over any emails about the employment status of that aide, Huma Abedin, to the Benghazi Committee, which asked only for Libya-related material. Less understandable is Foggy Bottom's continued rebuffing of journalists' requests to obtain those messages under the Freedom of Information Act. The Associated Press has sued to obtain emails from Clinton's account about Abedin.
But the Abdein messages may come out eventually. Over the next several months, the State Department is slowly publishing online tranche after tranche of Clinton's emails. The tranche covering the spring and summer of 2012 is expected later this year.
The status of Clinton's emails has become an explosive political issue ever since TheNew York Times revealed that the then-Secretary of State was using a private email server to handle her official correspondence. Cybersecurity experts believe the homebrew system opened Clinton and her colleagues to targeting from online spies. The State Department and Intelligence Community Inspector Generals have asked the Justice Department to look into the possible disclosure of classified information.
Regarding the security situation in Libya, there was plenty for Clinton and her team to discuss via email. On May 22, 2012, the International Red Cross's Benghazi office was hit by rocket-propelled grenades.
''The attack on the International Red Cross was another attack that also involved us and threats to the compound there in Benghazi,'' testified Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, a senior State Department security chief in Libya, (PDF) before the House Oversight Committee in October 2012.
Then, on June 6, an improvised explosive device detonated outside of the U.S. consulate, ripping a 12-foot-wide hole in the compound's wall and prompting officials to release a public warning on ''the fluid security situation in Libya.''
Yet the State Department has not produced any emails to or from Clinton about the improvised bomb.
Republicans on the House committee investigating the Benghazi attack have called the absence of any email communication noting the explosive attack at the U.S. consulate ''inexplicable.''
Michael Smallberg, an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, told The Daily Beast that while special government employees are not uncommon, the lack of information about Abedin may be keeping alive questions about potential conflict of interest in her work for the secretary and the foundation's fundraising efforts.
''There are gaps of months and months and months,'' Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a March 8 interview.
''The State Department transferred 300 messages exclusively reviewed and released by her [Clinton's] own lawyers,'' Gowdy added in a May 22 statement noting gaps in the email records. ''To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility.''
Since then, the Benghazi committee has recovered one email, largely about business interests in Libya, from June 2012 after subpoenaing Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal. The email from Blumenthal does not mention threats to the U.S. consulate, and there is no response from Clinton. The State Department subsequently gave the committee its copy.
U.S. interests weren't the only ones being targeted in Benghazi. Five days after the improvised bomb damaged the consulate, an RPG hit a convoy carrying the British ambassador in Benghazi, wounding two bodyguards.
The United Kingdom and the Red Cross closed their facilities in Benghazi by the end of June 2012.
From there, the violence directed at the U.S. escalated. In a cable dated July 9, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens asked that the State Department provide a minimum of 13 security personnel for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi, noting a heightened security threat. The State Department did not fulfill Stevens's request, a Senate Intelligence Committee report (PDF) later revealed.
A Clinton aide didn't respond specifically to a request about the two-month email absence. But in a statement to reporters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill noted, ''More emails are slated to be released by the State Department next week, and we hope that release is as inclusive as possible.''
The two-month period wasn't notable only for violence in Libya. It has been the subject of questions about Clinton's email and State Department records for a different reason.
On June 3, Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide and personal friend of the Clinton family, was given the status of a ''special government employee,'' which allowed her to stay on the State Department payroll while simultaneously working for the Clinton Foundation, Teneo, a consulting firm founded by Clinton confidant Doug Band, and as a private adviser to Clinton regarding her post-State Department transition.
Conflict-of-interest laws ordinarily would prohibit that arrangement, but the special designation exempted Abedin from some ethics rules.
In 2013, the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request for State Department records on how Abedin obtained the special employee status. The news organization asked for emails about the matter.
Last week, a federal judge gave the State Department one week to respond to the AP's two-year-old request. At midnight Tuesday, just before the judge's deadline, the department's lawyers submitted a declaration identifying about 68 pages of ''potentially responsive'' documents.
That marked the first time that the department acknowledged, in its two-year dispute with the AP, the existence of any agency documents related to Abedin's arrangement.
Michael Smallberg, an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, told The Daily Beast that while special government employees are not uncommon, the lack of information about Abedin may be keeping alive questions about potential conflict of interest in her work for the secretary and the foundation's fundraising.
''Unless you come across any evidence to the contrary, there's no reason to believe she was abusing the special government position,'' Smallberg said. But, ''the State Department has allowed those concerns to fester by withholding basic information,'' Smallberg added. ''Even if she did nothing wrong, secrecy breeds mistrust.''
State Department lawyers have argued that once all of Clinton's emails are released on the agency's website, following a vetting process that will take months, the AP's request for information about Abedin will have been satisfied.
However, since some of the emails on Abedin that the AP wants likely fall within the June 2012 time frame, that might not be the case.
About seven percent of Clinton's emails have been released. All the emails are scheduled to be released on a rolling, monthly basis until the last set is released in January 2016, to comply with an order by a different federal judge. The next release is tentatively scheduled for this Friday.
UPDATE: This story has been modified to make clear that the State Department -- not the former Secretary of State herself -- is releasing Clinton's emails. The number of emails has been changed from "approximately 2,000" to "hundreds," to more accurately reflect how many messages from 2012 have been released. The story now also notes that email is hardly the only way that State Department officials communicate. And the piece has been clarified to underscore that emails about Huma Abedin's employment status would not necessarily be in the tranche of messages released to the Benghazi Committee.
Guess Who Else Is Fundraising for Clinton: Private Prison Lobbyists
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:42
Posted on July 27, 2015 by willyloman
from Common Dreams
In addition to Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is turning to lobbyists for the two biggest private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, to raise money for her 2016 presidential candidacy.
Lee Fang of The Interceptmade the discovery after examining Clinton's list of lobbyists who are bundlers for her presidential bid, released last week. Bundlers are people who raise money for campaigns by organizing and collecting contributions from other donors.
[read more here]
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Filed under: Prison "reform" plan, Prison Industrial Complex, Prison Reform 2015
Agenda 21
Hillary Clinton's climate change plan 'just plain silly', says leading expert | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:27
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walks away after answering questions from reporters following a town hall campaign stop in Nashua, New Hampshire. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters
Hillary Clinton's pledge on Sunday to support renewable energy and boost subsidies for solar panels was set up as a great unveiling '' the Democratic frontrunner's first public remarks on how her presidency would tackle climate change.
Related:Is Hillary Clinton's ambitious solar energy goal for the US workable? | Karl Mathiesen
''I personally believe climate change is a challenge of such magnitude and urgency that we need a president who will set ambitious goals,'' she said in a video posted to her campaign website.
It wasn't difficult to draw a sigh of relief from the progressive electorate that has heard only climate change denial '' loud and triumphal '' from Republican frontrunners. (Ted Cruz proudly announced in May that he had just come from New Hampshire, where there was ''ice and snow everywhere''. Trump took up the issue with typical savoir faire on Monday, declining to call climate change by name: ''I call it weather.'')
But for many who study climate change, Clinton's proposal lacked the ambition and sense of urgency appropriate to the scale of the problem.
In her initial policy proposal, Clinton pledged tax incentives that would help install half a billion solar panels nationwide within four years of taking office. She also pledged that the US would generate enough renewable energy to power every home in the country by 2027.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben said that while Clinton's support for solar was necessary, it was far from a comprehensive energy policy. ''Much of the impact of her climate plan was undercut the next day by her unwillingness to talk about the supply side of the equation,'' he said. ''Ducking questions about the Canadian tar sands or drilling in the Arctic makes everyone worry we're going to see eight more years of an 'all of the above' energy strategy, which is what we do not need to hear in the hottest year ever measured on our planet.''
McKibben is not alone in criticizing Clinton's energy policy for sounding like too little too late.
''It's just plain silly,'' said James Hansen, a climate change researcher who headed Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years. ''No, you cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest. Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.''
Last Thursday, Hansen, along with 16 prominent climate change scientists, published a discussion paper in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where it will be publicly peer-reviewed. The paper suggests that previous models for climate change are too conservative and that a sea level rise of several meters might swallow up our coasts in this century, if governments fail to rapidly and substantially diminish fossil fuel emissions. ''The economic and social cost of losing functionality of all coastal cities is practically incalculable,'' the authors wrote.
The paper was rushed to publication in an attempt to get out in front of the Paris climate talks in December, where nations are invited to bring proposals that might curtail global warming.
Hansen said the problem climate experts face is that no prominent politician in the US has backed policy that has any shot at preventing an average of 2C (3.6F) of warming in this century, a widely agreed upon point of no return for climate change.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a global temperature rise of great than 2C would result in irreversible damage to society, including ''increasingly dangerous forest fires, extreme weather, drought'' as well as other compounding climate impacts.
Despite commitments to combat climate change, under Barack Obama the US became the largest oil-producing nation in 2012, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia, by producing at full capacity.
''We have two political parties, neither one of which is willing to face reality,'' said Hansen, who now heads up the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University. ''Conservatives pretend it's all a hoax, and liberals propose solutions that are non-solutions.''
Clinton's outline would put the US on track to supply 33% of the country's electricity needs through renewables by 2027. That's a mere 8% improvement over Obama's plan.
It's not enough, according to Hansen. Renewables are a part of how the US will wean itself off fossil fuels, but the market has to be allowed to determine which combination of renewable fuels '' not just solar '' makes the most sense in each region. ''You can't just legislate that,'' said Hansen. Clinton's plan ''is going to make energy more expensive. You need to let energy efficiency and renewables and nuclear power and anything else that comes up compete.''
Hansen emphasized that whatever domestic policy we adopt towards climate change has to have a global reach, a key point absent in the solar proposal. ''In places like China and India, they have to move off of coal for electricity pretty rapidly or the world is screwed.''
Hansen said a credible candidate on climate change would be talking about policy that would allow the price of fossil fuels to rise gradually. ''You have to recognize that as long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest energy, we'll just keep burning them,'' he said.
Hansen said that a president committed to halting climate change would implement a gradually rising fee for fossil fuel extraction, collected from the fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry. In order to keep the policy revenue-neutral, the fee would be evenly distributed back to US citizens in the form of a tax dividend, completely offsetting the rise in energy costs for most consumers. Those with large carbon footprints '' like the very rich, with multiple large homes, for example '' would bear the brunt. In that way, market forces would be allowed to let renewables compete and lower the cost of clean energy.
To incentivize other countries to do the same, Hansen said, the US would have to impose equivalent tariffs on imports from countries without a carbon fee.
''It would take a few decades,'' said Hansen. ''But you could rapidly phase down emissions.''
Michael Oppenheimer, professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, who advised the Clinton campaign informally on its energy proposal, said the solar plan has to be part of a larger scheme to ''crack the back of fossil fuels''.
Oppenheimer took issue with Hansen's climate change paper in the Washington Post last week for lacking specifics on how rapidly sea levels would rise, but he said there's no doubt ''humanity better get its collective foot off the accelerator''.
Oppenheimer, a longtime participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said a combination of a strong set of incentives like solar credits have to be supported by regulation: ''Just as a solar program, it is very good and it is ambitious. If you look at the bigger picture '' which is, what are we going to do on the whole about fossil fuels and reducing and eliminating eventually our dependence on them? '' that's a larger question.
''What we don't have here yet is what is the regulatory scheme going beyond the Obama scheme,'' said Oppenheimer. ''In fact, we're going to have to accelerate the downward track if we're going to beat the climate problem.
''That discussion needs to be engaged '' and engaged quickly. I hope it's engaged during the campaign.''
Bernie Sanders is so far the only prominent political candidate to oppose the oil pipeline Keystone XL, but he has yet to present an official energy proposal to address climate change.
The candidate to keep us from 2C warming? ''That candidate has not yet appeared,'' said Hansen.
Mind-Blowing Temperature Fraud At NOAA | Real Science
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:49
The measured US temperature data from USHCN shows that the US is on a long-term cooling trend. But the reported temperatures from NOAA show a strong warming trend.
Measured : ushcn.tavg.latest.raw.tar.gzReported : ushcn.tavg.latest.FLs.52j.tar.gz
They accomplish this through a spectacular hockey stick of data tampering, which corrupts the US temperature trend by almost two degrees.
The biggest component of this fraud is making up data. Almost half of all reported US temperature data is now fake. They fill in missing rural data with urban data to create the appearance of non-existent US warming.
The depths of this fraud is breathtaking, but completely consistent with the fraudulent profession which has become known as ''climate science''
Real News
Amazon Lands New Jeremy Clarkson Car Show | Deadline
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:36
After weeks of speculation, Jeremy Clarkson has confirmed that his new car show has landed at Amazon, reuniting him with his former Top Gear colleagues James May and Richard Hammond. The series will air on Amazon Prime.
Clarkson, whose BBC contract was allowed to expire after he assaulted Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, confirmed the news on his Twitter feed. ''I'm very excited to announce that Hammond, May and I have signed a deal with @AmazonVideo,'' tweeted the outspoken presenter. ''@AmazonVideoUK now saying I can't be their chief drone pilot. Apparently they want us to make a car show.''
Former Top Gear exec producer Andy Wilman will also return for the as-yet-unnamed show, which will go into production in time for broadcast next year. ''I feel like I've climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship,'' added Clarkson on working with Amazon, in a thinly-veiled dig at former employees BBC.
''We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn't is?' quipped James May.
The deal, which covers worldwide rights, is for three seasons of the show. ''Customers told us they wanted to see the team back on screen, and we are excited to make that happen,'' said Jay Marine, VP of Amazon Prime Video EU. ''We can't wait to see what Jeremy, Richard, James and the team will create in what is sure to be on of the most globally anticipated shows of 2016.''
This is a coup for Amazon. Speculation has been rife over where Clarkson's new show would land ever since he exited Top Gear under a cloud of controversy. Netflix, as well as ITV and Sky, were all mooted as possible landing posts at different times. By nabbing the popular trio, Amazon has got its hands on an instantly recognizable global brand for its premium Prime service.
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VIDEO-George Carlin - Self Esteem Movement - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:42
VIDEO-Addicting Info '' Watch Bernie Sanders Crush Chuck Todd For Being A Media Hack
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:20
Bernie Sanders has a unique quality about him: he's a politician whose message hasn't changed since the day hey got into public office. He's honest, he's open and he progresses with the times. That's why the Senator didn't let a media hack like Chuck Todd dilute his legitimacy and drive a false narrative.
That's exactly what Todd attempted to do on the weekend's Meet the Press. When the topic of the tragic Lafayette shooting came up, Todd attempted to paint Sander's as ''pro-NRA,'' saying ''You've continue[d] to walk, straddle a line here. You talk about how your sort-of-pro-NRA votes in Vermont having to do with being about Vermont, not about the nation as a whole.''
Sanders didn't take kindly to the exploitation and mischaracterization during a time of tragedy:
''Chuck that's not what I said. I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. And I voted to ban certain types of assault weapons. And I voted to close the gun show loophole. And I voted for instant background checks. And what I said is that as a nation we can't continue screaming at each other or else we have to find common ground.''
When Todd pressed Sanders to elaborate on what common ground looks like, Sanders laid a clear plan in front of him, a plan that includes universal background checks, the banning of weapons designed not exclusively for hunting, and a close on gun-show loopholes.
Considering the fact Bernie Sanders has been given a D- rating from the NRA, coupled with his support for common-sense gun legislation, I wouldn't call him ''pro-NRA'' like Todd did.
Todd didn't do his homework.
After Sanders delivered that spanking, Todd attempted to pivot to another issue: race relations. Playing a clip from the Netroots Nation conference, where Sanders was interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists, Todd attempted to paint the situation as a racial confrontation. Sanders didn't take kindly to that.
''It wasn't a 'confrontation,' I was there to speak about immigration reform. And some people started disrupting the meeting. And the issue that they raised was in fact a very important issue, about black lives matter, about Sandra Bland, about black people getting yanked out of, in this case of Sandra Bland, getting yanked out of an automobile, thrown to the ground and ending up dead three days later because of a minor traffic violation. This is an issue that is a very important issue, an issue of concern that I strongly share.''
As if Chuck Todd couldn't embarrass himself any more than he already had, he said the Senator was seemingly ''dismissive'' of the whole underlying issue at hand. Sanders reminded Todd and his viewers that as someone who has been a member of the Civil Rights Movement for decades, his commitment to race relations is strong. He then drew parallels between institutional racism and poverty-stricken black communities as the fuel to racial tensions.
That's when Todd then pivoted again, this time to Hillary Clinton.
So here you have it: Chuck Todd tried to sandbag Bernie Sanders into being this gun-toting, NRA loving, race-ignoring demagogue. That's rich coming from guy who aired a montage of black killers during the Charleston tragedy. I wonder when NBC will fire Todd and move him over to Fox News?
Watch the exchange below, courtesy of NBC:
Featured image via NBC screen capture
VIDEO-Jack Black and Morgan Freeman Drop the Mic on the #IranDeal - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:55
VIDEO-Hearing Iran Nuclear Agreement | Video |
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:21
July 29, 2015Secretary of State John Kerry, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew,'... read more
Secretary of State John Kerry, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Iran nuclear agreement and its possible impact on U.S. interests in the Middle East. close
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VIDEO-Kerry: We Can't Reveal Contents of Secret Side Deals to American People | The Weekly Standard
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:16
Secretary of State John Kerry testified on Capitol Hill today the U.S. government will not be revealing the contents of secret side deals with Iran to the American people. Senator Tom Cotton wanted to know why it can't be made public.
Watch the exchange:
"I'd like to stick with you, Secretary Kerry," Cotton said. "Why can't we confirm or deny the content of these agreements in public? Why is this classified? It's not a sensitive U.S. government document."
"Because we respect the process of the IAEA and we don't have their authorization to reveal what is a confidential agreement between them and another country," said Kerry.
Cotton said, "So the ayatollahs will know what they agreed to but not the American people?"
Kerry said that members of Congress would be able to learn about it in a classified briefing.
AUDIO-'–¶ Trump: Climate Change A Myth, Just Bad Weather by RightWingWatch
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:30
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VIDEO-The True History and Purpose of NASA - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 06:43
VIDEO-Fiorina: Planned Parenthood 'Hypocritical' for Using Ultrasound to Harvest Body Parts | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 06:08
Carly Fiorina, a GOP presidential contender, told "Fox News Sunday" that Planned Parenthood lobbied against laws requiring that pregnant mothers be shown an ultrasound of their unborn babies prior to an abortion, and now it's using that "same technology to harvest body parts" to save the life of someone else.
VIDEO-Ohio Democrat: Black Lives Matter Protesters 'Should Be in Front of Planned Parenthood' | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:59
During a rally outside the Ohio statehouse on Tuesday, Ohio State Rep. Bill Patmon, a Democrat, said the demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement, which targets the police, should include Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.
VIDEO-Ben Carson: 'Same People Who Say that it's a Meaningless Clump of Cells are Trying to Get Livers and Lungs and Kidneys' | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:56
Ben Carson on Planned Parenthood: 'Same People Who Say It's a Meaningless Clump of Cells Are Trying to Get Livers'See More at:
VIDEO-CNN's Camerota Downplays Baby Organ Harvesting Outrage; Suggests Price Fixing | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:50
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
On the 28 July 2015 edition CNN's New Day, Alisyn Camerota made no mention of the outrage over Planned Parenthood varying its abortion techniques in order to preserve unborn babies' organs for medical research, as was revealed in two undercover videos. Instead, Camerota zeroed in on "these representatives from Planned Parenthood negotiating" over prices for these organs. She even touted how the "exchange of fetal tissue...obviously, does a lot of good. There's a lot of research '' cures for diseases that come from it."
Camerota later asked Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens, "Why not set a set price? Wouldn't that solve the problem? Because, in this video, it says '' well, sometimes, it's between $30 to $100 '' depending upon storage, and depending upon handling. And so, it makes it seem as though there's room for haggling or negotiation. Why not say, it's going to be $100 across the board, and there's no if's, and's, or buts?"
VIDEO-NBC Hosts Thrilled Network Hired Obama's Chef as Analyst | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:31
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
On Wednesday, the hosts of NBC's Today cheered the network's decision to hire former White House chef '' and husband of left-wing MSNBC host AlexWagner '' Sam Kass. Co-host Savannah Guthrie gushed: ''...we've got an exciting announcement. You guys remember Sam Kass, of course he's the former assistant White House chef, executive director of the First Lady's Let's Move campaign, and nutrition advisor to the President....He is becoming an NBC News senior food analyst.''
Guthrie added: ''So you'll be seeing him a lot right here on Today, on Nightly of course, and then also Today Food online.'' News anchor Natalie Morales declared: ''Fantastic....Good hire for us.''
VIDEO-On CNN, Giuliani: 'I'd Have' Hillary Clinton 'Under Investigation for About Five Different Crimes' | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:28
Video cross-posted here at NewsBusters. Appearing as a guest on Wednesday's New Day on CNN, during a discussion of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani asserted that he would "have her under investigation for about five different crimes right now," and that it is "outrageous that the Justice Department is not moving forward with this."
VIDEO-Nets Maintain Blackout on New Planned Parenthood Video; CNN Covers | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:19
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
As of the morning of 29 July 2015, ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the third video from the Center for Medical Progress, which featured a whistle-blower's account of "picking" through the remains of aborted babies in order to find organs that could be sold for medical research. The Big Three networks have actually devoted more time to the slaying of a lion in Zimbabwe than all three videos from pro-life organization.
The 28 July 2015 edition of CNN's The Lead actually stood out for covering this latest video. Jake Tapper noted how "anti-abortion activists released a new undercover video purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees seeming to discuss per-organ pricing of aborted fetal tissue and body parts." Correspondent Chris Frates filed a full report on the whistle-blower's account, as well as undercover video of a "Planned Parenthood official discussing per-organ pricing."
VIDEO-Cecil The Lion's Death Wakes Up The Planet! - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:16
VIDEO-Human Capital - Episode 1: Planned Parenthood's Black Market in Baby Parts - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:05
VIDEO-Debris looks like part of Boeing 777, source says -
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:35
Story highlightsWoman whose partner was on plane says she still is in disbelief that this might be part from MH370Local journalist says debris had a number on it, but it is unclear what it signifiesSource close to investigation says Boeing officials, looking at photos, see element unique to 777 partThe source said there is a unique element to the Boeing 777's flaperon, a wing component, that Boeing observers believe they are seeing in photos.
The debris was found Wednesday off the coast of Reunion Island, a French department in the western Indian Ocean. It is being examined to determined whether it is connected to flight MH370, a member of the French air force in Reunion said Wednesday.
The debris was found off the coast of St. Andre, a community on the island, according to Adjutant Christian Retournat.
Boeing officials conducted an initial assessment of the debris using photographs. The source stressed the observations are preliminary.
Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found off the coast of Reunion island.
K.S. Narendran, whose wife was on the plane, said he was reticent to call the discovery a major development.
"I think this is very early days yet. All we know is that a small part has been found. It is still a little early to suggest it does belong to MH370," he told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" from India. "I think it is premature to feel that it is all coming to a close or that we are even closer to the truth."
Sarah Bajc, whose partner, Philip Wood, was on MH370, said her "heart has been in my throat for most of the day."
During the initial days of the search for the plane, there were several reports of possible debris sightings in the waters closer to where authorities believe the plane went down, but none of those was actual wreckage. Bajc said as an emotional safety mechanism she disbelieves any reports like Wednesday's discovery.
She wants verification, she told "Anderson Cooper 360˚."
"If ultimately this is the piece of the wing, then that little thread of hope that I have been holding on to will, will have to break. And reality will have to take over," she said holding back tears. "But, yeah, up until now, I and most of the family members have continued to believe that until we have a body ... we can't give up hoping they will still come back."
If this turns out to be a piece of MH370, it would be the first piece of physical evidence that the plane crashed.
Malaysian team en routeEarlier, Retournat said the debris appeared to be a wing flap and had been taken to the island, about 380 nautical miles off the coast of Madagascar.
The Malaysian government has dispatched a team to Reunion Island to investigate the debris, Malaysian Minister of Transportation Liow Tiong Lai said in New York.
"We need to verify. We have wreckage found that needs to be further verified before we can further confirm if it belongs to MH370. So we have dispatched a team to investigate on these issues and we hope that we can identify it as soon as possible," the minister said.
Malaysia Airlines said it was working with authorities to determine where the part came from.
"At the moment, it would be too premature for the airline to speculate on the origin of the flaperon," the carrier said.
CNN analysts said there are indications the airplane part could be from a Boeing 777, and if that's the case, it's likely from MH370.
Making the determination should be "very simple" because the serial numbers riveted to numerous parts of the plane can be linked to not only the plane's model, but also the exact aircraft, said CNN aviation analyst Les Abend, who flew 777s during his 30 years as a pilot.
This means crash investigators may be able to figure it out from photographs of the part, which could be an aileron, a flap or a flaperon, even before arriving on the island, he said.
Several clues
Airplane debris is being examined to see if it's connected to MH370.
There are at least three elements of the discovery that are consistent with MH370, said CNN safety analyst David Soucie. The first is that the part appears to have been torn off the aircraft.
"This is from a sudden impact, it looks like to me," Soucie said.
There also is a seal on the top of the part that "is consistent with what I would see on an inside flap on a triple 7," he said, and the barnacles on the part are consistent with the "parasitic activity" that would take place from being underwater so long.
However, the part appears to be coated in white paint, which would run counter to Soucie's other observations in that the 777's parts would be coated in zinc chromate, not paint. Soucie acknowledged, however, that the part could be coated in something from the ocean.
"If it is a part from a triple 7, we can be fairly confident it is from 370 because there just haven't been that many triple 7 crashes and there haven't been any in this area," said CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.
Antoine Forestier, a journalist on the island where the debris was found, said people who were on shore gardening saw the plane part drifting in the ocean.
Reporters from Antenne Reunion looked at the debris, which Forestier said was about 2 meters by 1 meter (6.5 feet by 3 feet).
There was a marking "BB670" on the part.
Soucie said he believes the number is a part number, though it might be from a subcontractor.
Drift possibilitiesThe head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the agency tasked by Malaysia with leading the search for MH370, said the piece of debris is "not inconsistent" with drift modeling done by Australian authorities.
"If there was something from MH370 it could have reached Reunion Island from the area we're covering," said ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan. "It's not inconsistent with the drift modeling we've done. It's not inconsistent with the search area we're covering."
Dolan would not say how likely it was that any debris would move in a westerly direction.
"There's a range of possibilities," he said. "It's not an exact science." Dolan said surface currents, wind direction and how high an object was floating in the water might all play a role.
Questions lingerMalaysia Airlines Flight 370, with 239 people aboard, disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early on March 8, 2014, bound for Beijing.
Timeline: The day MH370 disappeared
Authorities have said they still don't know why it turned dramatically off course over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, or where exactly its errant journey finished.
Theories: What happened to MH370?
An international team of experts used satellite data to calculate that the plane eventually went down in the southern Indian Ocean. Search teams have been combing a vast area of the seafloor in the southern Indian Ocean, hunting for traces of the passenger jet, about 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) from where the debris was found.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told Nine Network Australia that if the debris discovered off Reunion is determined to be from Flight 370, it's "not really going to be all that helpful in pinpointing precisely where the aircraft is."
But he said Thursday that it would provide "further evidence that we're searching in roughly the right place."
The Malaysian government eventually declared the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 an accident and all of its passengers and crew presumed dead.
CNN's David Molko, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Jethro Mullen and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Australian FM Slams Russia over MH17 Tribunal Vote: Your Veto 'Compounds the Atrocity' | MRCTV
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:29
Barely concealing her disgust, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Wednesday Russia's veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution to establish a criminal tribunal into the shooting down of a civilian aircraft over Ukraine ''only compounds the atrocity.''
VIDEO-Adam Curtis Bitter Lake 2015 - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 03:50
VIDEO-Daktari (Theme Song) - YouTube
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 02:58
VIDEO-Here's Your Reminder That Donald Trump's 2 Sons Are Also Big-Game Hunters | Mother Jones
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 02:13
'--Inae Oh on Wed. July 29, 2015 4:28 PM PDT
On Tuesday, an American dentist admitted to paying $50,000 to hunt and kill Cecil the lion, a beloved animal and popular tourist attraction in Zimbabwe. News of the killing sparked swift condemnation on social media, with many calling for Walter Palmer to be extradited to Zimbabwe to stand trial.
Amid the outrage, photos quickly resurfaced of Donald Trump's sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, posing with the dead bodies of several exotic animals, including an African elephant and leopard, they had previously hunted for sport.
When the photos initially emerged online back in 2012, the Trump brothers staunchly defended themselves, taking to Twitter to "make no apologies."
"In some parts its over populated. Bottom line with out hunters $ there wouldn't be much left of africa. Eco is nice but no $," one tweet from Trump Jr. read.
The public reminder is just the latest relic in Trump's past to stir controversy. This week alone, the New York Times dug up a series of depositions in which the GOP frontrunner for president once told a female lawyer she was "disgusting" for pumping milk for her then three-year-old daughter. The day prior, the Daily Beast published a story resurfacing an old assertion from his former wife claiming he had once raped her.
VIDEO-American Who Killed Cecil the Lion Keeps Dental Office Closed -
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:43
An American dentist who admitted that he killed a well-known lion this month in Zimbabwe and planned to mount the head kept his office closed on Wednesday as the furor about the hunt turned vitriolic and, at times, threatening.
Dr. Walter J. Palmer's neatly groomed property near Minneapolis, adjacent to a preschool, has turned from a dentist's office to a memorial to the lion, called Cecil, with red roses and more than a dozen stuffed animals laid outside the locked front door.
There was no answer to repeated knocks and doorbell rings at his large, stucco house in an affluent neighborhood. And his neighbors would not talk.
In an email distributed Tuesday night to his patients, Dr. Palmer said ''media interest'' had disrupted his practice and had caused people to overwhelm his staff with comments and phone calls. Patients seeking help were being referred to other offices for the time being.
In the hours after Dr. Palmer apologized for the shooting, saying he had killed the lion under the impression that the hunt was legal, he has gone from a dentist and longtime hunting enthusiast to the villain at the center of a virtual firestorm over the ethics of big-game trophy hunting.
In the message to patients, Dr. Palmer, who prides himself on his skills in hunting without firearms, acknowledged the controversy over big-game hunting.
''I don't often talk about hunting with my patients because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic,'' he wrote. ''I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.''
Trophy hunting, undertaken by wealthy hunters who pay tens of thousands of dollars for licenses to kill protected animals for trophies and sport, has long been a subject of global debate. Hunting advocates and some conservationists argue that, if done responsibly, the selling of expensive licenses to big-game hunters can help pay for efforts to protect endangered species.
A 2009 study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated that trophy hunters kill around 600 lions a year. Last October, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and a move that would also establish guidelines for permitting the importing of lion trophies. That proposal is under review.
When a Texas man reportedly paid $350,000 to hunt and kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia this year, the debate remained among activists. But the death of Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who wandered out of his sanctuary in a national park in Zimbabwe, struck a chord with social media users. Dr. Palmer had paid around $54,000 to hunt the animal, according to news reports.
Cecil had been closely studied by researchers at the University of Oxford since 2008 as part of efforts to study a decline in Africa's lion population and to better understand the threats the animals face. The university's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit said in a statement that Cecil's adult ''brothers'' and cubs would now most likely be killed by other male lions seeking dominance in the community.
According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the lion was shot with a crossbow after he was lured out of the sanctuary, following the scent of food. Cecil, well known to those who visited the Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was only injured by the arrow. The hunters tracked him for about two days before he was killed with a gun, conservation officials said. He was beheaded and skinned, his corpse left to rot.
On Wednesday morning, Lori Peterson was one of the protesters who assembled outside the dentist's office. She held a large homemade sign that said ''KILLER'' in black paint. On the back of the sign, the dentist's name was painted: ''WALTER JAMES PALMER.'' She posed for pictures for gawkers and reporters.
''I want to call this man out,'' said Ms. Peterson, 52, an artist from Bloomington, Minn. ''These animals need a voice.''
As more details around the killing emerged, activists used search engines to find Dr. Palmer's contact information and social media to share information about his business and his family, stirring a fever pitch of anger strong enough to effectively dismantle his digital life.
Angry people sent a surge of traffic to Dr. Palmer's website, which was taken offline. Vitriolic reviews flooded his Yelp page '-- ''Murderer,'' one reviewer wrote. A Facebook page titled ''Shame Lion Killer Dr. Palmer and River Bluff Dental'' drew thousands of users. Professional profiles of Dr. Palmer were also scrubbed from industry websites.
Jon Austin, who operates a Minneapolis-based communications firm and specializes in crisis management, said in an email that he had been asked to circulate Dr. Palmer's initial statement to the news media.
''I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt,'' Dr. Palmer said in that statement. ''I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.''
After the statement was circulated, Mr. Austin's own Yelp page was flooded by angry commenters. On Wednesday, Mr. Austin said that he had ended his involvement with the matter.
The outrage went mainstream after Zimbabwean officials publicly identified Dr. Palmer, but it expanded into all corners of the Internet after an emotional plea against hunting from the late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel, said Erin Flior, who specializes in crisis management at the Washington-based public relations firm Levick.
In an phone interview on Wednesday, Ms. Flior said that social media outrage has made digital crisis management a growing specialty in the communications field. She recalled extreme cases where clients had to move or look into changing their names.
''While I applaud the attempts of people to draw attention for positive situations,'' Ms. Flior said, ''it's always a really scary situation for an individual because you never know how far it's going to be taken.''
In 2009, Dr. Palmer paid $45,000 at an auction to help preserve an elk habitat in California. He was profiled that year in The New York Times when he shot and killed an elk from 75 yards with a compound bow in pursuit of a new bowhunting record.
Two Zimbabwean men, a farm owner and a professional hunter, are accused of helping Dr. Palmer hunt Cecil. They appeared in court on Wednesday on poaching charges. Zimbabwean officials said Dr. Palmer was also being sought on poaching charges.
In a joint statement, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe said that the farm owner did not have a hunting permit. The professional hunter's license has been suspended, the statement said.
Dr. Palmer has had past problems related to hunting. He faced probation after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to making a false statement to federal officials about where, exactly, a black bear was killed in Wisconsin.
Christina Capecchi contributed reporting.
VIDEO-Central Florida theaters issue alert on safety measures | News - Home
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:48
ORLANDO, Fla. -A message about safety is now being played at the AMC Theatres. It states, "If you happen to see any suspiciously strange characters or bad agendas, report them to our crew."
[RECOMMENDED: Family finds $1M in sunken treasure |Repo man tows car -- with baby]
It's a message that has moviegoers talking.
"It's a good message to send because there has been a lot of problems with movie theater shootings and stuff," said Brittany Cavallo.
Most recently, the shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana last Thursday that killed two people and injured nine others. Now, AMC Theatres has created a video message alerting moviegoers to look out for suspicious people or bad agendas and report it immediately.
"I think AMC is doing an awesome job because we should be protecting our people when they come and they should be feeling safe," said Regina Law.
But not everyone thinks it'll work. Lenore Mchugh said her friend was just at the movies and saw a suspicious man but couldn't do anything about it.
"She was afraid to leave because he was right on top of her, so they ran out of the theater. So in that case, what do you do?" said Mchugh.
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However, moviegoers said if this short film is the first step to keeping people safe, they're all on board.
"I think it's good to make people aware because some people just go in the theater, sit down and they are not aware of what's going on around them because they're just looking forward," said Mchugh.
Local 6 called AMC Theatres to find out why they created the message and for how long it's been running. Local 6 also called Cinemark and Regal to see if they've followed suit, but no one has returned our calls.
Published On: Aug 15 2014 02:09:02 PM EDT Updated On: Jul 28 2015 07:10:20 AM EDT
Here's a look at some of the individuals who have been arrested recently in the Sunshine State.
AUDIO-From Upspeak To Vocal Fry: Are We 'Policing' Young Women's Voices? : NPR
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:46
Women get policed more often for "vocal fry" and "upspeak" than their male counterparts. Jaqueline Bissett/Getty Images/Ikon Imageshide caption
itoggle caption Jaqueline Bissett/Getty Images/Ikon ImagesWomen get policed more often for "vocal fry" and "upspeak" than their male counterparts.
Jaqueline Bissett/Getty Images/Ikon ImagesJournalist Jessica Grose is no stranger to criticism of her voice. When she was co-hosting the Slate podcast, the DoubleX Gabfest, she would receive emails complaining about her "upspeak" '-- a tendency to raise her voice at the end of sentences. Once an older man she was interviewing for an article in Businessweek told her that she sounded like his granddaughter.
"That was the first moment I felt [my voice] was hurting my career beyond just irritating a couple listeners," Grose tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Grose sought help from a voice coach in an effort to make herself sound more professional, but Stanford linguistics professor Penny Eckert argues that women shouldn't have to change their voices to suit society.
Eckert points out that the complaints about female upspeak and vocal fry (a tendency to draw out the end of words or sentences with a low, creaky voice) ignore the fact that men also engage in those habits. "People are busy policing women's language and nobody is policing older or younger men's language," Eckert tells Gross.
Grose and Eckert join speech pathologist Susan Sankin for a conversation about upspeak, vocal fry and how women's voices are changing '-- and whether that's a problem.
Interview HighlightsOn some of the comments that came in about Jessica Grose's voice when she hosted the Slate Double X Gabfest
Jessica Grose is a freelance writer and former senior editor at Slate Magazine. She is also a former host of Slate'sDoubleX Gabfest podcast. Judith Ebensteinhide caption
itoggle caption Judith EbensteinJessica Grose is a freelance writer and former senior editor at Slate Magazine. She is also a former host of Slate'sDoubleX Gabfest podcast.
Judith EbensteinJessica Grose: There were some very impassioned commenters on our Facebook page and in my email who objected to my upspeak. I remember one in particular said I sounded like "a valley girl and a faux socialite," and there were a couple of comments that echoed that, and the tenor of them was pretty nasty. And before that I had never really thought about my voice, one way or the other. No one had ever commented on it to me. ... I was hurt '-- that sounds a little silly, I'm a big girl, I write all the time on the Internet, and so I'm used to criticism, but there's something really personal about your voice, and especially if it's something you've never thought about as unpleasant. It's not fun to hear that people find it irritating.
On linguist Penny Eckert's reaction to the criticism of young women's voices
Dr. Penny Eckert is a professor of linguistics at Stanford University and the co''author of the book Language and Gender.Linda Cicero/Stanford Universityhide caption
itoggle caption Linda Cicero/Stanford UniversityPenny Eckert: It makes me really angry. And it makes me angry, first of all, because the biggest users of vocal fry traditionally have been men, and it still is; men in the U.K, for instance. And it's considered kind of a sign of hyper-masculinity ... and by the same token, uptalk, it's clear that in some people's voices that has really become a style, but it has been around forever, and people use it stylistically in a variety of ways '-- both men and women.
On whether or not vocal fry and upspeak are a "problem"
Susan Sankin is a speech pathologist who offers vocal coaching to individuals who want to change their voices. Susan Sankinhide caption
itoggle caption Susan SankinSusan Sankin is a speech pathologist who offers vocal coaching to individuals who want to change their voices.
Susan SankinSusan Sankin: For the people who come to see me, they're unhappy with their speech. They don't like the way they sound. They sound tentative to themselves. They sound unsure to themselves as well, and they feel that when they present themselves that it sounds as if they lack confidence, even though they're very capable, and they know that they have the capacity to sound better, more confident, more assured with some help. They just have developed a speech pattern that's a habit, and they don't know how to break out of it. When we present ourselves, the way we speak is our verbal image. Much as the way people in the professional world typically don't go to work in sweats and a t-shirt, they are more concerned about how they present themselves, a lot of the clients that come to see me are concerned about how they're presenting themselves verbally.
Grose: Patterns change. Just to hop off the statement you made about wearing sweatpants; Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie to work every day. Because he is a young man, that's the dominant Silicon Valley way of dressing now. It wasn't 20 years ago or 30 years ago, but now that's what it is. And even young women in Silicon Valley '-- I've read personal essays about how they don't feel comfortable dressing up and looking cute for work because they feel like it won't get them taken seriously '-- they also have to wear hoodies and look like Mark Zuckerberg. So it sort of feels like even when the culture is changing it changes so that usually white men are still the defaults and how we should all be behaving.
On how attitudes toward hearing vocal fry, upspeak and other youthful ways of talking are generational
Eckert: I was shocked the first time I heard this style on NPR. I thought, "Oh my god, how can this person be talking like this on the radio?" Then I played it for my students, and I said, "How does she sound?" and they said, "Good, authoritative." And that was when I knew that I had a problem. ... That I was not a part of the generation that understood what that style means. ... There's been a change and those of us who are bothered by some of these features are probably just getting old.
On the idea of learning about your voice and working with it to sound the way you want to sound
Sankin: I continue to feel that glottal fry used in that way and also upspeak used as pervasively ... is just distracting from the message. For me, and I know for a lot of people, it appears to distract from what people are trying to say. And I've heard what everybody's been saying. It still has a feeling to me of sounding hesitant, less sure of yourself, and less decisive. And I might be old, too ... but there are a lot of things that I really like in spite of my age. This just happens to be one of the things that I think is just an irritating way of speaking.
I have started thinking of voice almost as the way I think about outfits. If I'm going for a job interview I'm going to wear a different outfit than when I'm out with my friends.
Jessica Grose, former host of the 'DoubleX Gabfest' podcast for 'Slate'
On accepting the wide diversity of ways people speak
Eckert: You only get change by not allowing it to be a problem to you. And I think this is something that has been huge in all of the years that people have been studying minority dialects. African-American vernacular English is a very rich dialect, and yet little kids are told they better not speak that if they want to succeed in the world. So the question is, do you knuckle under to that or do you try to make the world change a little bit? And certainly, that's how I feel about a lot of the women's styles is that if we all cower under and say do what I did in 1973 [consciously speak lower to be taken seriously], well then, what's going to change?
On why Grose stopped trying to change her voice, even after a session with a speech coach
Grose: I felt like it was blunting my emotional range. I felt when I was self-conscious about my voice it lost that expressive, connective quality ... There was something lost when I wasn't being myself, whatever that is. ... I have started thinking of voice almost as the way I think about outfits. If I'm going for a job interview I'm going to wear a different outfit than when I'm out with my friends. And before I wouldn't have thought, "Oh I use a different voice when I'm at a job interview and when I'm out with my friends", and now I do think of it a little bit more as these two separate things, whereas before I had zero awareness of it. And I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. I think it's just about wanting to change for yourself instead of feeling like you're being forced to change by external forces.
VIDEO-Planned Parenthood hacked by anti-abortion group -
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:45
Planned Parenthood chief slams 'sensationalized videos'
A group of anti-abortion hackers -- led by one who was identified as "E" by The Daily Dot, which first reported the story -- obtained data such as employees' email addresses and gained access to Planned Parenthood databases on Sunday night, the Dot reported.
"E" told The Daily Dot that the hack was motivated by the edited videos that surfaced this month. In the footage, Planned Parenthood officials speak about their group's work in tissue-donation programs. Conservatives and abortion foes have slammed the organization over the clips, and Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, has apologized for the tone used in the videos.
RELATED: No. 2 House Republican wants to block federal funds for Planned Parenthood
"Trying to mold an atrocious monstrosity into socially acceptable behaviors is repulsive," "E" told the website, adding that the group planned to release all the information shortly.
Dawn Laguens, a top Planned Parenthood official, said in a statement to CNN that the organization was investigating the breach.
Planned Parenthood exec, fetal body parts subject of controversial video
"Anti-abortion extremists are willing to do anything to stop women from accessing the reproductive health care they are seeking," she said. "Extremists have broken laws, harassed our doctors and patients, produced hack videos, and now are claiming to have committed a gross invasion of privacy -- one that, if true, could potentially put our staff members at risk."
VIDEO-New Pharma Vaccine Bill Quietly Passes House | The Edgy Truth
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:48
Right on the heels of California passing mandatory vaccine laws, here comes the 2015 Cures Act, a Big Pharma bill that has the support of the FDA. It made it through the House on July 10th.
The bill gives Big Pharma 9 billion dollars and the FDA 5 million dollars to develop even less safe vaccines. It completely lowers standards for safety.
VIDEO-C3TV - Enemies of the State: What Happens When Telling the Truth about Secret US Government Power Becomes a Crime
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:53
C3TV - Enemies of the State: What Happens When Telling the Truth about Secret US Government Power Becomes a Crimebrowsecongress2012Enemies of the State: What Happens When Telling the Truth about Secret US Government Power Becomes a CrimeJesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake and William Binney
AboutWith the post 9/11 rise of the leviathan national security state, the rule of law in the United States under the Constitution is increasingly rule by secrecy, surveillance and executive fiat.
Tags29c3by Chaos Computer Club e.V
VIDEO-Prison Reform Plan is Really About Expanding Slave Labor for the Prison Industrial Complex | American Everyman
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:27
by Scott Creighton
I just watched John Oliver (reactionary right activism presented as left-cover comedy) do a segment on Obama's new prison reform agenda and I was quite sickened by it. He failed to mention anything to do with the prison-industrial-complex when talking about how mandatory minimum sentencing laws were pushed over the past 30 year or so and also failed to mention the fact that the biggest supporters of this new agenda just happen to be the reactionary/neoliberal Koch brothers.
His segment uses the same heart-stringing pulling tricks any other standard propaganda utilizes including children crying because ''mommy'' is in jail for helping sell crack (lots of crack) to addicts, ruining their lives forever. It also used deception in that most states have repealed or at least softened mandatory minimum sentencing laws over the last decade and even California's ''three strikes'' law now states someone can't be given life unless that last strike is a serious violent crime.
I hate John Oliver. The last segment I saw of his was pushing for having the federal government ease restrictions on food ''sell by'' dates and give Big Business some tax money (or big tax breaks) for ''donating'' that outdated food to shelters or other hungry folks. Also mentioned in that little clip is the call for making it harder for someone to sue Big Business when they get sick from eating that deregulated, tax-dime paid for food they were given. That's right: Big Business has found a way to curb some of their losses in the commercial grocery business and John Oliver is their go-to guy to help them sell it as ''progressive''
The prison reform bill John Oliver alludes to, the one his segment says has the most bi-partisan support of any other legislation, is called the ''Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers In Our National System Act of 2015 or the CORRECTIONS Act'' by Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX] (Introduced 02/11/2015)
It should be noted that John never mentions the name of the legislation, probably because the producers at his HBO show don't want his ''progressive'' listeners to look it up and read a little bit about it.
Here's the ''correction'': it establishes a system by which EVERY PRISON must make contact with ''private entities'' in order to establish what they call ''recidivism reduction programs'' and the prisoners who are mandated to participate will work for those ''private entities'' for low or next to no pay in exchange for a slight reduction in their sentence.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is slave labor.
Directs DOJ to issue regulations requiring the official in charge of each correctional facility to enter into partnerships with nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community-based organizations, educational organizations, and private entities, to make recidivism reduction programming and productive activities available to eligible prisoners.CORRECTIONS Act
What are ''recidivism reduction programming and productive activities'' you ask? Well, it's right there in the bill's summary:
Directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to: (1) conduct a review of recidivism reduction programming and productive activities, including prison jobs, offered in correctional institutions; (2) conduct a survey to identify products currently manufactured overseas that could be manufactured by prisoners without reducing job opportunities for other U.S. workers; and (3) submit to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations and the Judiciary a strategic plan for the expansion of recidivism reduction programming and productive activities,including prison jobs, in Bureau of Prison facilities.
Amends the federal criminal code to direct the Bureau of Prisons to make available appropriate recidivism reduction programming or productive activities, including prison jobs, to all eligible prisoners and to assign such prisoners to such activities using the Post-Sentencing Risk and Needs Assessment System developed by DOJ. CORRECTIONS Act
The actual bill itself describes the role of ''private entities'' in this way:
''(C) Private entities that will, on a volunteer basis
''(i) deliver occupational and vocational training and certifications in Bureau of Prisons facilities;
''(ii) provide equipment to facilitate occupational and vocational training or employment opportunities for prisoners;
''(iii) employ prisoners; or
''(iv) assist prisoners in prerelease custody or supervised release in finding employment.
What this ''reform'' bill does is open up new manufacturing opportunities for Big Business in fields that are typically unacceptable to them here in the states due to the fact that US workers wont work for the pennies that laborers in Mexico, Thailand or other neoliberalised nations will. It MANDATES prison officials to meet with ''private entities'' in order to see what kind of manufacturing facilities could be installed on the property. And it does all of this under the left-cover of purporting to be about lessening the draconian sentencing mandates they imposed years ago when the prison-industrial-complex was just taking off.
Basically, it turns every prison in the United States into a work-camp in which prisoners may or may not even get paid:
Grants eligibility to a prisoner who has successfully completed a recidivism reduction program or productive activity certified by the National Institute of Corrections for time credits for each period of 30 days of successful completion of such a program or activity, except prisoners who have been convicted of certain federal crimes, including crimes involving terrorism, violence, or child exploitation. CORRECTIONS Act
In the actual bill, time credits are explained this way:
''(i) IN GENERAL.'--Subject to clauses (ii) and (iii), a prisoner who has successfully completed a recidivism reduction program or productive activity that has been certified under paragraph (2)(B) shall receive time credits of 5 days for each period of 30 days of successful completion of such program or activity. A prisoner who is classified as low risk shall receive additional time credits of 5 days for each period of 30 days of successful completion of such program or activity.
That's right. Their pay may be nothing more than ''time credits'' issued to them for each ''successful'' 30-day-stint of slave labor. And of course, who decides if the prisoner's last 30-day-stint was ''successful''? The guy managing the prison slave labor camp/business.
And if you look at the ratio of time-off to work served, for a year's service to whatever ''private entity'' they happen to be assigned to, they get a whooping 60 days off their sentence. That's ''if'' each 30 day segment is considered ''successful'' by the people making a mint off their slave labor.
And this is the ''progressive'' agenda being pushed by our president (and the Koch brothers) and reactionary front-men like John Oliver.
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Filed under: Fascism, fascism in America, Fascism², Neoliberalizing America, Prison "reform" plan, Prison Industrial Complex, Prison Reform 2015, Scott Creighton

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