Podcast HOF Speech
I had to sleep with all the academy members
Image: Blue moon over Washington
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:18
Image: Blue moon over WashingtonAugust 2, 2015Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
A second full moon for the month of July is seen next to the dome of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, July 31, 2015 in Washington. In recent years, people have been using the name Blue Moon for the second of two full moons in a single calendar month. An older definition of Blue Moon is that it's the third of four full moons in a single season.
Explore further:Rare New Year's Eve 'blue moon' to ring in 2010
Presidential Proclamation -- 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:47
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 29, 2015
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MEDICARE AND MEDICAID
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. Fifty years later, these programs have been woven into the fabric of our society -- cornerstones of the fundamental belief that in America, health care is a right and not a privilege. Today, Medicare and Medicaid help tens of millions of Americans live longer, healthier lives and achieve economic security. Together, they have helped protect the quintessential American promise that opportunity, prosperity, and economic mobility are within reach for everyone who works hard and plays by the rules. On this anniversary, we pause to celebrate these landmark achievements and reflect on the ways they have improved our Nation.
As we commemorate two of America's greatest triumphs, we must not forget that the security they provide was not always guaranteed, nor was their progress inevitable or their success preordained. Before Medicare and Medicaid, only about half of all seniors had some form of insurance, and too many of our most vulnerable citizens -- including children and people with disabilities -- did not have access to quality, affordable care.
As a Nation, we chose to end that era. With hard work and determination, we fought to secure the health and peace of mind of millions of our people who previously lacked a basic measure of security. Medicare and Medicaid did not just make our country better; they reaffirmed its greatness and established a legacy that we must carry forward today. We must recognize that this work, though begun a half-century ago and continued over the decades that have followed, is not yet complete. For too many, quality, affordable health care is still out of reach -- and we must recommit to finishing this important task.
We have made important strides in this fight, and today, health care is more affordable and accessible than ever before thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Because of this law, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained the security of health insurance, including through its expansion of Medicaid. Nearly 40 million people on Medicare have taken advantage of free preventive health services, and the law has saved over 9 million seniors on Medicare more than $15 billion in prescription drug costs. It has expanded the options for home and community-based services offered by Medicaid. And since I signed this law, we have extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 13 years.
Since the Affordable Care Act became law, health care prices have risen at the lowest rate since Medicare and Medicaid were established, and as President, I am dedicated to building on this progress to ensure these programs are protected and strengthened. Earlier this year, I was proud to sign bipartisan legislation to permanently fix the Medicare physician payment system -- creating a cost-effective way to compensate doctors based on how well they help their patients get and stay healthy. I am fighting to further extend the solvency of the Hospital Insurance trust fund, align payments more closely with the value of care, and build on the Affordable Care Act by closing the Medicare Part D donut hole for brand drugs by 2017. I am committed to reducing rapidly rising prescription drug costs in both Medicare and Medicaid. And every day, I am working to convince more Governors and State legislatures to take advantage of the Federal Government's financial support to expand Medicaid and cover the millions of additional Americans who would be eligible for quality, affordable health insurance.
Five decades ago, the United States recognized our obligation to care for our fellow Americans. Today, we must ensure this promise is protected for our parents, children, and grandchildren. On the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, let us not be content with the progress we have made. Instead, let us summon the resolve of the generations that came before us and recommit to advancing this noble cause. Five decades from now, when people look back on this time, let it be said that our generation put its shoulder to the wheel and carried forward the work of making affordable health care a reality for all Americans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 30, 2015, as the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that recognize the vital safety net that Medicare and Medicaid provide for millions of Americans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
Presidential Proclamation -- World Hepatitis Day, 2015
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:49
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 27, 2015
WORLD HEPATITIS DAY, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Around the world, doctors, medical researchers, and other professionals dedicated to health care and public health are working hard every day to combat disease and build healthier communities. Their efforts have led to improved sanitation, cleaner water, better access to care, and improvements in how we diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Today, on World Hepatitis Day, we join in these efforts to improve lives here at home and abroad by raising awareness of a silent epidemic and reaffirming our commitment to combat it.
Nearly 400 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis, and more than 1 million people die each year from this disease. Yet because hepatitis often persists silently for years before revealing any symptoms, many -- including about two-thirds of the Americans who live with it -- are unaware of their infection status, which can lead to long-term liver damage and death.
Prevention and early detection are essential to saving lives. Safe and effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B are widely available, and simple blood tests for hepatitis B and C can lead to early detection and life-saving care and treatment, including the cure of the infection. I encourage all Americans to ask their health care provider about hepatitis, and to learn more by visiting www.CDC.gov/Hepatitis.
As President, I am committed to advancing the fight against viral hepatitis infections. The Affordable Care Act has increased access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans -- creating more opportunities for early detection of viral hepatitis -- and it requires most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays, including hepatitis A and B vaccines and hepatitis B and C screenings. New protections under the law also eliminate annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage and prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including hepatitis.
Guided by our Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, my Administration is working with government, private, and non-profit organizations to ensure that new cases of viral hepatitis are prevented. We also remain invested in addressing related health issues such as liver cancer, HIV infection, and substance use disorders, and the disproportionate impact viral hepatitis infections have on African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, as well as our Nation's young people.
Today, we renew our commitment to those impacted by hepatitis and to all those we have lost to this disease. Let us resolve to break the silence surrounding hepatitis, and redouble our efforts to defeat it in all its forms.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 28, 2015, as World Hepatitis Day. I encourage citizens, Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and communities across the Nation to join in activities that will increase awareness about hepatitis and what we can do to prevent it.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
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.
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.
DomesticWorld War IThe 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.
World War IIDuring 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".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. The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.
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 WarDuring 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 DrugsThe National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988, but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998, 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". The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.
Iraq WarIn early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program. 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. 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.
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. 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.
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt ActThe 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.
Ad CouncilThe 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.
InternationalThrough 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.
Psychological operationsThe 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.
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public. 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.
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.
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap."  The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.
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, 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.
See alsoReferences^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000736] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''744, 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. § 1744^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". America.gov. January 16, 2003.
Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record - The Washington Post
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 10:35
(This article, originally published Thursday evening, updated Friday morning.)
Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.
In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity.
[Iran's heat index is literally off the charts, and this is what it feels like]
Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.
To achieve today's astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr's actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).
This 165 reading, recorded at 4:30 p.m. local time Friday, comes one day after the heat index soared to 159 degrees (70 Celsius) in the same location.
Bandar Mahshahr sits adjacent to the Persian Gulf in southwest Iran where water temperatures are in the 90s. Such high temperatures lead to some of the most oppressive humidity levels in the world when winds blow off the sweltry water.
In southeast Iran, also along the Persian Gulf, Jask, Iran observed a heat index of 156 degrees (69 Celsius) on Friday (air temperature 102.2 degrees with a dew point of 91.4 degrees).
[Seattle just broke TWO incredible records '-- hot and dry]
Although there are no official records, 178 degrees (81 Celsius) is the highest known heat index ever attained. It was observed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003. In his book Extreme Weather, weather historian Christopher Burt says Dhahran, also on the Persian Gulf, registered an air temperature of 108 degrees (42 Celsius) and a dew point of 95 (35 Celsius), which computes to such an extreme heat index level.
This week's extreme heat index values have occurred as a punishing heat wave has engulfed the Middle East.
On Thursday, Baghdad soared to 122 degrees (50C) '' though its dew point was a lowly 44 (7 Celsius) given its desert environs. That combination produced a heat index of 115 '' the dry air taking a slight edge off the blistering temperatures.
A massive high pressure ridge or ''heat dome'' responsible for the excessive heat doesn't look to budge for several days, at least.
[Think it's hot here? Iraq declared a 4-day heat holiday for temps over 120 degrees]
The extreme heat over such a long duration is particularly taxing in this war-ravaged region, as Weather.com explains:
The government has urged residents to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water, but for many of the more than 3 million Iraqis displaced by violent conflict, that poses a dilemma.
Chronic electricity and water cuts in Iraq and other conflict-ridden countries make heat waves like the present one even more unbearable '' particularly for the more than 14 million people displaced by violence across the region. In the southern Iraqi city of Basrah earlier this month, protesters clashed with police as they demonstrated for better power services, leaving one person dead.
Unlike other countries in the region, Iraq lacks beaches and travel restrictions make it difficult for people to escape the sweltering heat, leaving many '' even those fortunate enough to live in their homes '' with limited options for cooling off. Some swim in rivers and irrigation canals, while others spend these days in air-conditioned shopping malls.
Notes: Credit to AccuWeather's Anthony Sagliani for posting Iran temperature information on Twitter Thursday. Heat indices given in this post were calculated using the National Weather Service definition, which may be different from heat index or apparent temperature values reported on other Web sites.
More from the Capital Weather Gang:
Why sea level is rising faster in D.C. than anywhere else on the East Coast
Why is the blue moon ''blue?'' It's not because of the color.
When does your summer heat peak? It might surprise you.
The everlasting snow pile: Buffalo's crusty concoction from 2014 is a survivor
Why a 'super El Ni±o' could still be a bust for California drought relief
Jason is currently the Washington Post's weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | US news | The Guardian
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:53
The Miami coastline: there are fears that even a 30cm rise in the sea level could be catastrophic. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty
A drive through the sticky Florida heat into Alton Road in Miami Beach can be an unexpectedly awkward business. Most of the boulevard, which runs north through the heart of the resort's most opulent palm-fringed real estate, has been reduced to a single lane that is hemmed in by bollards, road-closed signs, diggers, trucks, workmen, stacks of giant concrete cylinders and mounds of grey, foul-smelling earth.
It is an unedifying experience but an illuminating one '' for this once glamorous thoroughfare, a few blocks from Miami Beach's art deco waterfront and its white beaches, has taken on an unexpected role. It now lies on the front line of America's battle against climate change and the rise in sea levels that it has triggered.
"Climate change is no longer viewed as a future threat round here," says atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, of the University of Miami. "It is something that we are having to deal with today."
Every year, with the coming of high spring and autumn tides, the sea surges up the Florida coast and hits the west side of Miami Beach, which lies on a long, thin island that runs north and south across the water from the city of Miami. The problem is particularly severe in autumn when winds often reach hurricane levels. Tidal surges are turned into walls of seawater that batter Miami Beach's west coast and sweep into the resort's storm drains, reversing the flow of water that normally comes down from the streets above. Instead seawater floods up into the gutters of Alton Road, the first main thoroughfare on the western side of Miami Beach, and pours into the street. Then the water surges across the rest of the island.
The effect is calamitous. Shops and houses are inundated; city life is paralysed; cars are ruined by the corrosive seawater that immerses them. During one recent high spring tide, laundromat owner Eliseo Toussaint watched as slimy green saltwater bubbled up from the gutters. It rapidly filled the street and then blocked his front door. "This never used to happen," Toussaint told the New York Times. "I've owned this place eight years and now it's all the time."
Today, shop owners keep plastic bags and rubber bands handy to wrap around their feet when they have to get to their cars through rising waters, while householders have found that ground-floor spaces in garages are no longer safe to keep their cars. Only those on higher floors can hope to protect their cars from surging sea waters that corrode and rot the innards of their vehicles.
Hence the construction work at Alton Road, where $400m is now being spent in an attempt to halt these devastating floods '' by improving Miami Beach's stricken system of drains and sewers. In total, around $1.5bn is to be invested in projects aimed at holding back the rising waters. Few scientists believe the works will have a long-term effect.
Low-lying houses in Miami Beach are especially vulnerable. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images"There has been a rise of about 10 inches in sea levels since the 19th century '' brought about by humanity's heating of the planet through its industrial practices '' and that is now bringing chaos to Miami Beach by regularly flooding places like Alton Road," says Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami. "And it is going to get worse. By the end of this century we could easily have a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet. Nothing much will survive that. Most of the land here is less than 10 feet above sea level."
What makes Miami exceptionally vulnerable to climate change is its unique geology. The city '' and its satellite towns and resorts '' is built on a dome of porous limestone which is soaking up the rising seawater, slowly filling up the city's foundations and then bubbling up through drains and pipes. Sewage is being forced upwards and fresh water polluted. Miami's low topography only adds to these problems. There is little land out here that rises more than six feet above sea level. Many condos and apartment blocks open straight on the edge of the sea. Of the total of 4.2 million US citizens who live at an elevation of four feet or less, 2.4 million of them live in south Florida.
At Florida International University, geologist Peter Harlem has created a series of maps that chart what will happen as the sea continues to rise. These show that by the time oceans have risen by four feet '' a fairly conservative forecast '' most of Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Virginia Key and all the area's other pieces of prime real estate, will be bathtubs. At six feet, Miami city's waterfront and the Florida Keys will have disappeared. The world's busiest cruise ship port, which handles four million passengers, will disappear beneath the waves. "This is the fact of life about the ocean: it is very, very powerful," says Harlem.
Miami and its surroundings are facing a calamity worthy of the Old Testament. It is an astonishing story. Despite its vast wealth, the city might soon be consumed by the waves, for even if all emissions of carbon dioxide were halted tomorrow '' a very unlikely event given their consistent rise over the decades '' there is probably enough of the gas in the atmosphere to continue to warm our planet, heat and expand our seas, and melt polar ice. In short, there seems there is nothing that can stop the waters washing over Miami completely.
It a devastating scenario. But what really surprises visitors and observers is the city's response, or to be more accurate, its almost total lack of reaction. The local population is steadily increasing; land prices continue to surge; and building is progressing at a generous pace. During my visit last month, signs of construction '' new shopping malls, cranes towering over new condominiums and scaffolding enclosing freshly built apartment blocks '' could be seen across the city, its backers apparently oblivious of scientists' warnings that the foundations of their buildings may be awash very soon.
Protesters gather near the office of Senator Marco Rubio to ask him to take action to address climate change. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesNot that they are alone. Most of Florida's senior politicians '' in particular, Senator Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush and current governor Rick Scott, all Republican climate-change deniers '' have refused to act or respond to warnings of people like Wanless or Harlem or to give media interviews to explain their stance, though Rubio, a Republican party star and a possible 2016 presidential contender, has made his views clear in speeches. "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy," he said recently. Miami is in denial in every sense, it would seem. Or as Wanless puts it: "People are simply sticking their heads in the sand. It is mind-boggling."
Not surprisingly, Rubio's insistence that his state is no danger from climate change has brought him into conflict with local people. Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami, has a particularly succinct view of the man and his stance. "Rubio is an idiot," says Stoddard. "He says he is not a scientist so he doesn't have a view about climate change and sea-level rise and so won't do anything about it. Yet Florida's other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, is holding field hearings where scientists can tell people what the data means. Unfortunately, not enough people follow his example. And all the time, the waters are rising."
Philip Stoddard is particularly well-placed to judge what is happening to Miami. Tall, thin, with a dry sense of humour, he is a politician, having won two successive elections to be mayor of South Miami, and a scientist, a biology professor at Florida International University. The backyard of the home that he shares with his architect wife, Grey Reid, reflects his passion for the living world. While most other South Miami residences sport bright blue swimming pools and barbecues, Stoddard has created a small lake, fringed with palms and ferns, that would do justice to the swampy Everglades near his home. Bass, koi and mosquito fish swim here, while bright dragonflies and zebra lapwing butterflies flit overhead. It is a naturalists' haven but Stoddard is under no illusions about the risks facing his home. Although several miles inland, the house is certainly not immune to the changes that threaten to engulf south Florida.
"The thing about Miami is that when it goes, it will all be gone," says Stoddard. "I used to work at Cornell University and every morning, when I went to work, I climbed more elevation than exists in the entire state of Florida. Our living-room floor here in south Miami is at an elevation of 10 feet above sea level at present. There are significant parts of south Florida that are less than six feet above sea level and which are now under serious threat of inundation."
Nor will south Florida have to wait that long for the devastation to come. Long before the seas have risen a further three or four feet, there will be irreversible breakdowns in society, he says. "Another foot of sea-level rise will be enough to bring salt water into our fresh water supplies and our sewage system. Those services will be lost when that happens," says Stoddard.
"You won't be able to flush away your sewage and taps will no longer provide homes with fresh water. Then you will find you will no longer be able to get flood insurance for your home. Land and property values will plummet and people will start to leave. Places like South Miami will no longer be able to raise enough taxes to run our neighbourhoods. Where will we find the money to fund police to protect us or fire services to tackle house fires? Will there even be enough water pressure for their fire hoses? It takes us into all sorts of post-apocalyptic scenarios. And that is only with a one-foot sea-level rise. It makes one thing clear though: mayhem is coming."
In November 2013, a full moon and high tides led to flooding in parts of the city, including here at Alton Road and 10th Street. Photograph: CorbisAnd then there is the issue of Turkey Point nuclear plant, which lies 24 miles south of Miami. Its operators insist it can survive sea surges and hurricanes and point out that its reactor vessel has been built 20 feet above sea level. But critics who include Stoddard, Harlem and others argue that anciliary equipment '' including emergency diesel generators that are crucial to keeping cooling waters circulating in the event of power failure '' are not so well protected. In the event of sea rise and a major storm surge, a power supply disruption could cause a repeat of the Fukushima accident of 2011, they claim. In addition, inundation maps like those prepared by Harlem show that with a three-foot sea-level rise, Turkey Point will be cut off from the mainland and will become accessible only by boat or aircraft. And the higher the seas go, the deeper it will be submerged.
Turkey Point was built in the 1970s when sea level rises were not an issue, of course. But for scientists like Ben Kirtman, they are now a fact of life. The problem is that many planners and managers still do not take the threat into account when planning for the future, he argues. A classic example is provided by the state's water management. South Florida, because it is so low-lying, is criss-crossed with canals that take away water when there is heavy rainfall and let it pour into the sea.
"But if you have sea level rises of much more than a foot in the near future, when you raise the canal gates to let the rain water out, you will find sea water rushing in instead," Kirtman said. "The answer is to install massive pumps as they have done in New Orleans. Admittedly, these are expensive. They each cost millions of dollars. But we are going to need them and if we don't act now we are going to get caught out. The trouble is that no one is thinking about climate change or sea-level rises at a senior management level."
The problem stems from the top, Kirtman said, from the absolute insistence of influential climate change deniers that global warming is not happening. "When statesmen like Rubio say things like that, they make it very, very hard for anything to get done on a local level '' for instance for Miami to raise the millions it needs to build new sewers and canals. If local people have been told by their leaders that global warming is not happening, they will simply assume you are wasting their money by building defences against it.
"But global warming is occurring. That is absolutely unequivocal. Since the 1950s, the climate system has warmed. That is an absolute fact. And we are now 95% sure that that warming is due to human activities. If I was 95% sure that my house was on fire, would I get out? Obviously I would. It is straightforward."
This point is backed by Harold Wanless. "Every day we continue to pump uncontrolled amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, we strengthen the monster that is going to consume us. We are heating up the atmosphere and then we are heating up the oceans so that they expand and rise. There doesn't look as if anything is going to stop that. People are starting to plan in Miami but really they just don't see where it is all going."
Thus one of the great cities of the world faces obliteration in the coming decades. "It is over for south Florida. It is as simple as that. Nor is it on its own," Wanless admits.
"The next two or three feet of sea-level rise that we get will do away with just about every barrier island we have across the planet. Then, when rises get to four-to-six feet, all the world's great river deltas will disappear and with them the great stretches of agricultural land that surrounds them. People still have their heads in the sand about this but it is coming. Miami is just the start. It is worth watching just for that reason alone. It is a major US city and it is going to let itself drown."
Prince Charles extends climate doomsday deadline by 33 years
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:37
Prince Charles is warning that there are only 35 years left to save the planet from climate disaster, which represents a 33-year extension of his previous deadline.
In March 2009, the heir to the British throne predicted that the world had 100 months ''before we risk catastrophic climate change,'' as pointed out by Climate Depot's Marc Morano.
''Prince Charles gives world reprieve: Extends '100-Month' climate 'tipping point' to 35 more years,'' says the Tuesday headline on the Climate Depot website.
The British blog Not A Lot of People Know That announced in a July 19 post, ''Charlie Gives Us a Reprieve!''
Prince Charles, who updated his forecast in a July 18 interview with the Western [U.K.] Morning News prior to his visit to the Westcountry, began issuing warnings six years ago about imminent ecological disaster driven by climate change.
''The best projections tell us that we have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change,'' the Prince of Wales said in a speech in Rio de Janeiro, as reported by the [U.K.] Telegraph.
Four months later, he predicted in an interview with the [U.K.] Independent that the Earth had 96 months left to avoid ''irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it.''
That prediction, which he continued to reference in other interviews, would have given the world until 2017 before reaching the ''tipping point'' of environmental catastrophe driven by climate change.
Others have also extended their original ''tipping point'' predictions in recent years, much to the amusement of climate-change skeptics.
For example, Climate Depot notes that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave the world 15 years to act starting in April 2014, even though its then-chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, had set a five-year deadline in 2007.
In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore said the world may have only 10 years to reverse course, prompting climatologist Roy Spencer to comment in 2014 that, ''in the grand tradition of prophets of doom, his prognostication is not shaping up too well.''
Skeptics point out that the global mean temperature has not increased for more than 18 years, a phenomenon referred to by scientists as ''the pause.''
Digital Misfits Link JPMorgan Hack to Pump-and-Dump Fraud - Bloomberg Business
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:21
Authorities arrested four people in Israel and Florida and revealed a complex securities fraud scheme tied to the computer hacks of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other financial institutions.
Behind the alleged crimes described Tuesday is a remarkable story of unpredictable alliances in modern computer crime involving, if true, a multi-layered organization with tentacles reaching Moscow, Tel Aviv and West Palm Beach.
Officials in Israel this morning picked up two men charged in the U.S. with running a multimillion-dollar stock manipulation scheme. A third person remains at large. In another case in Florida, officials arrested two men for operating an unlicensed money-transfer business using bitcoins.
Though these are separate cases, some of the individuals are linked. A principal in the alleged securities-fraud scheme is a business associate of one of those charged in the Florida bitcoin operation, a friendship dating back more than a decade to their days at Florida State University.
The two are also identified in a previously unreported FBI memo that connects them to the investigation of the hack of JPMorgan as well as to incidents at Fidelity Investments Ltd. and E*Trade Financial Corp. JPMorgan officials argued initially that one of the largest U.S. bank hacks in history was the work of the Russian government.
None of the documents outlining the charges mention the JPMorgan hack, nor do prosecutors tie the securities fraud and money-transfer schemes to each other.
However, a person familiar with the investigation said that data stolen from JPMorgan, including tens of millions of e-mails and names of customers, may have been sought for promoting stocks through a massive spam campaign.
Stock ManipulationThe alleged pump-and-dump scheme was several years old by the time of the Wall Street hacks. At least five stocks were manipulated in 2011 and 2012, according to the grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
The stock fraud is described as a ''pump-and-dump'' scheme in which promotional e-mails were sent to victims, encouraging them to buy ''hot'' stocks, according to a parallel complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The perpetrators secretly sold their own holdings, it said, earning at least $2.8 million in illegal profits.
Two Israelis and an American are charged with the fraud. Two unidentified men from New Jersey and Florida, described as co-conspirators and not charged, picked the publicly traded companies as targets for manipulation, prosecutors said. In some cases, they sought to press private companies to go public so they could be targeted.
The men charged are Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, both Israeli citizens, and Joshua Samuel Aaron, a U.S. citizen who resided in both the U.S. and Israel.
According to the indictment, Aaron acted as the conduit between the unnamed U.S. conspirators and Shalon, the scheme's main Israeli architect.
Aaron wasn't arrested.
Elements of the case apparently began to unravel this month. Investigators had hoped to arrest Aaron in Tel Aviv, where he lives with his wife, according to people familiar with the probe. Aaron and his wife were in St. Petersburg as recently as Sunday, based on social-media posts from her account. In Russia, Aaron is outside the reach of U.S. law-enforcement authorities. Investigators may have determined that he was no longer likely to return to Israel.
Florida ConnectionOne of Aaron's friends from his Florida State days is Anthony Murgio, a 31-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida.
Murgio is charged in a complaint also filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, alongside the securities complaints. Prosecutors say Murgio created a Bitcoin-exchange business in 2013 that laundered at least $1.8 million in the digital currency for tens of thousands of customers, including hackers receiving payment for ''ransomware'' attacks on PCs.
The documents allege that Murgio operated the exchange with an accused co-conspirator, Yuri Lebedev, under the guise of a front company, the Collectables Club Private Member Association, which lists Murgio's West Palm Beach address. Lebedev was also charged.
Prosecutors allege that Murgio tried to keep Coin.mx's activities hidden and used multiple Russian payment processors to ''wash'' illicit funds.
Both Murgio and Aaron traveled frequently to Russia, and a person involved in the investigation said there were links between the suspects and members of Russia's cyber underground.
Joshua Aaron, left, Anthony Murgio, center, and Joshua's wife Alona Aaron on a recent trip to Russia. An FBI memo from 2014 linked Joshua Aaron and Anthony Murgio to the hacks of several U.S. financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase and Co.
Though U.S. officials didn't connect the alleged criminal activities of Murgio and Aaron, the men were linked in the FBI's October memo to the hack of the three financial institutions. Bloomberg News learned their identities earlier this year but held off reporting about them at the request of the FBI, which said the information would compromise the investigation.
Upon learning that Murgio and Aaron were accused of crimes, a friend from Florida State expressed dismay at the alleged schemes. ''That's absurd,'' said Bryan Ravit, a Phi Kappa Sigma brother of Murgio who lives in Winter Park, Florida.
''They are very stand-up guys,'' Ravit said in an interview. ''I would trust them with my life.''
None of those charged with securities fraud or in the bitcoin scheme could be reached for comment.
Surprising TwistAmong the surprising twists of the JPMorgan investigation is that hackers appear to have broken into the digital version of Fort Knox to steal relatively innocuous data -- specifically e-mails of JPMorgan's customers that could be used for spam.
The cybercriminals behind the JPMorgan hacks mowed through data at several major banks and brokerages, including Fidelity and E*Trade, for more than a year beginning in the fall of 2013, according to cyber-security firms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation memo. They contributed to a hodgepodge of scams, mainly securities fraud and spamming e-mails, according to one person familiar with the investigation.
It's not clear if the JPMorgan hackers sought data other than the names, addresses and e-mails eventually removed from the bank's main data center. U.S. officials believe the cyberattacks were done with the help of expert hackers in Russia, according to a second person familiar with the case.
One reason to target brokerage houses is to commit account-takeover fraud. Criminals steal users' logins and passwords to hijack their trading accounts and use their money to pump up the value of penny stocks and other thinly traded securities. Such schemes are often accompanied by spamming campaigns to inflate further the value of the shares. The criminals, who also own the stocks, can then cash out of the shares in their own accounts, a classic ''pump and dump.''
Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, declined to comment. The bank has said that it discovered no fraud against account-holders related to the attack.
Fidelity has multiple layers of security and has no indication that customer accounts or information were affected, a spokesman said. A representative for E*Trade didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Over almost three months, intruders at JPMorgan had unrestricted access to its main data center, which controls critical functions for the bank and the broader U.S. financial system. They accessed at least 100 servers and stole 40 gigabytes of data, defying the security of a company that spent $250 million to protect its computers in 2014.
Sandwiched between last year's attack on Sony by North Korea and the sack of Target Corp's payment registers in late 2013, the JPMorgan breach quickly took its place in a menacing list of cyber milestones. It sparked a fight between U.S. investigators and a bank security team staffed with former Pentagon cyber warriors, who saw something darker than mere criminal behavior.
The case may now become an object lesson in the complexities of tracing cyberattacks to the true culprits. In June, JPMorgan reassigned Chief Information Security Officer Greg Rattray amid staff discord over his handling of the breach. Rattray and his boss, Jim Cummings, a former head of the U.S. Air Force's cyber-combat unit, were the chief advocates of the theory that the Russian government was involved in the breach, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in February.
JPMorgan declined to make Cummings and Rattray available for comment.
Digital MisfitsWhile bank officials ran their own investigation into the massive breach, FBI officials focused early on an oddball collection of digital misfits.
Murgio wrote in a personal blog that he and Aaron had operated an online marketing company with a global clientele. Murgio ran a series of unsuccessful restaurant ventures and had been previously accused of stealing $110,000 in state sales tax collected from his business customers. He received a deferred prosecution, and the charges were dropped after he paid the taxes owed to Florida.
Named one of Tallahassee's top 100 singles in 2010, Murgio listed his favorite outfit as ''really tight jeans that I can hardly sit down in'' and Ayn Rand's ''Atlas Shrugged'' as his favorite book.
After losing a long battle with the landlord of a downtown Tallahassee nightclub blocks from the Florida State University campus, Murgio, who ran the club, had a confrontation with police in October 2011 over a noise complaint.
Six months later, he filed for Chapter 7 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida, citing $539,000 in debt.
His debts persisted. On a March 2013 application for indigent status in the tax case, Murgio reported $350,000 in debt, and said his only monthly income was $1,200 in veterans benefits.
Around that time, Murgio began taking frequent trips to Russia, posting videos of himself in Russian bars and with beautiful girls, one marked #Likealittleexcitedboy.
On social media, friends asked why he was suddenly spending so much time in Russia. Two of the visits coincided with the computer breaches: He was in Moscow in April 2014, when Fidelity was hacked, and again in early August, when hackers were active in JPMorgan, according to his posts.
Executive Order -- Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:08
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CREATING A NATIONAL STRATEGIC COMPUTING INITIATIVE
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to maximize benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. In order to maximize the benefits of HPC for economic competitiveness and scientific discovery, the United States Government must create a coordinated Federal strategy in HPC research, development, and deployment. Investment in HPC has contributed substantially to national economic prosperity and rapidly accelerated scientific discovery. Creating and deploying technology at the leading edge is vital to advancing my Administration's priorities and spurring innovation. Accordingly, this order establishes the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). The NSCI is a whole-of-government effort designed to create a cohesive, multi-agency strategic vision and Federal investment strategy, executed in collaboration with industry and academia, to maximize the benefits of HPC for the United States.
Over the past six decades, U.S. computing capabilities have been maintained through continuous research and the development and deployment of new computing systems with rapidly increasing performance on applications of major significance to government, industry, and academia. Maximizing the benefits of HPC in the coming decades will require an effective national response to increasing demands for computing power, emerging technological challenges and opportunities, and growing economic dependency on and competition with other nations. This national response will require a cohesive, strategic effort within the Federal Government and a close collaboration between the public and private sectors.
It is the policy of the United States to sustain and enhance its scientific, technological, and economic leadership position in HPC research, development, and deployment through a coordinated Federal strategy guided by four principles:
The United States must deploy and apply new HPC technologies broadly for economic competitiveness and scientific discovery.The United States must foster public-private collaboration, relying on the respective strengths of government, industry, and academia to maximize the benefits of HPC.The United States must adopt a whole-of-government approach that draws upon the strengths of and seeks cooperation among all executive departments and agencies with significant expertise or equities in HPC while also collaborating with industry and academia.The United States must develop a comprehensive technical and scientific approach to transition HPC research on hardware, system software, development tools, and applications efficiently into development and, ultimately, operations.This order establishes the NSCI to implement this whole-of-government strategy, in collaboration with industry and academia, for HPC research, development, and deployment.
Sec. 2. Objectives. Executive departments, agencies, and offices (agencies) participating in the NSCI shall pursue five strategic objectives:
Accelerating delivery of a capable exascale computing system that integrates hardware and software capability to deliver approximately 100 times the performance of current 10 petaflop systems across a range of applications representing government needs.Increasing coherence between the technology base used for modeling and simulation and that used for data analytic computing.Establishing, over the next 15 years, a viable path forward for future HPC systems even after the limits of current semiconductor technology are reached (the "post- Moore's Law era").Increasing the capacity and capability of an enduring national HPC ecosystem by employing a holistic approach that addresses relevant factors such as networking technology, workflow, downward scaling, foundational algorithms and software, accessibility, and workforce development.Developing an enduring public-private collaboration to ensure that the benefits of the research and development advances are, to the greatest extent, shared between the United States Government and industrial and academic sectors.Sec. 3. Roles and Responsibilities. To achieve the five strategic objectives, this order identifies lead agencies, foundational research and development agencies, and deployment agencies. Lead agencies are charged with developing and delivering the next generation of integrated HPC capability and will engage in mutually supportive research and development in hardware and software, as well as in developing the workforce to support the objectives of the NSCI. Foundational research and development agencies are charged with fundamental scientific discovery work and associated advances in engineering necessary to support the NSCI objectives. Deployment agencies will develop mission-based HPC requirements to influence the early stages of the design of new HPC systems and will seek viewpoints from the private sector and academia on target HPC requirements. These groups may expand to include other government entities as HPC-related mission needs emerge.
(a) Lead Agencies. There are three lead agencies for the NSCI: the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The DOE Office of Science and DOE National Nuclear Security Administration will execute a joint program focused on advanced simulation through a capable exascale computing program emphasizing sustained performance on relevant applications and analytic computing to support their missions. NSF will play a central role in scientific discovery advances, the broader HPC ecosystem for scientific discovery, and workforce development. DOD will focus on data analytic computing to support its mission. The assignment of these responsibilities reflects the historical roles that each of the lead agencies have played in pushing the frontiers of HPC, and will keep the Nation on the forefront of this strategically important field. The lead agencies will also work with the foundational research and development agencies and the deployment agencies to support the objectives of the NSCI and address the wide variety of needs across the Federal Government.
(b) Foundational Research and Development Agencies. There are two foundational research and development agencies for the NSCI: the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). IARPA will focus on future computing paradigms offering an alternative to standard semiconductor computing technologies. NIST will focus on measurement science to support future computing technologies. The foundational research and development agencies will coordinate with deployment agencies to enable effective transition of research and development efforts that support the wide variety of requirements across the Federal Government.
(c) Deployment Agencies. There are five deployment agencies for the NSCI: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These agencies may participate in the co-design process to integrate the special requirements of their respective missions and influence the early stages of design of new HPC systems, software, and applications. Agencies will also have the opportunity to participate in testing, supporting workforce development activities, and ensuring effective deployment within their mission contexts.
Sec. 4. Executive Council. (a) To ensure accountability for and coordination of research, development, and deployment activities within the NSCI, there is established an NSCI Executive Council to be co-chaired by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Director of OSTP shall designate members of the Executive Council from within the executive branch. The Executive Council will include representatives from agencies with roles and responsibilities as identified in this order.
(b) The Executive Council shall coordinate and collaborate with the National Science and Technology Council established by Executive Order 12881 of November 23, 1993, and its subordinate entities as appropriate to ensure that HPC efforts across the Federal Government are aligned with the NSCI. The Executive Council shall also consult with representatives from other agencies as it determines necessary. The Executive Council may create additional task forces as needed to ensure accountability and coordination.
(c) The Executive Council shall meet regularly to assess the status of efforts to implement this order. The Executive Council shall meet no less often than twice yearly in the first year after issuance of this order. The Executive Council may revise the meeting frequency as needed thereafter. In the event the Executive Council is unable to reach consensus, the Co-Chairs will be responsible for documenting issues and potential resolutions through a process led by OSTP and OMB.
(d) The Executive Council will encourage agencies to collaborate with the private sector as appropriate. The Executive Council may seek advice from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology through the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and may interact with other private sector groups consistent with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Sec. 5. Implementation. (a) The Executive Council shall, within 90 days of the date of this order, establish an implementation plan to support and align efforts across agencies in support of the NSCI objectives. Annually thereafter for 5 years, the Executive Council shall update the implementation plan as required and document the progress made in implementing the plan, engaging with the private sector, and taking actions to implement this order. After 5 years, updates to the implementation plan may be requested at the discretion of the Co-Chairs.
(b) The Co-Chairs shall prepare a report each year until 5 years from the date of this order on the status of the NSCI for the President. After 5 years, reports may be prepared at the discretion of the Co-Chairs.
Sec. 6. Definitions. For the purposes of this order:
The term "high-performance computing" refers to systems that, through a combination of processing capability and storage capacity, can solve computational problems that are beyond the capability of small- to medium-scale systems.
The term "petaflop" refers to the ability to perform one quadrillion arithmetic operations per second.
The term "exascale computing system" refers to a system operating at one thousand petaflops.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; orthe functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Here's How CISA Helps the NSA Scrape the Internet Backbone to Read Your Emails at Will
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 11:16
By Donny Shaw
The National Security Agency is sitting on a new surveillance apparatus, awaiting congressional action to help them begin collecting a massive amount of new data on people in the U.S. that they can view and share without a warrant.
According to documents made available to the press by Edward Snowden, in 2012 the Department of Justice secretly approved the NSA to begin using cyber threat indicators as selector terms for conducting ''upstream'' surveillance, a technique that involves the use of interception equipment to pull information directly from the switches and cables that make up the Internet. It's likely, however, that the NSA hasn't had a lot of cyber threat information to work with up to this point; most of that information is held by private companies.
Now it appears that Congress may be ready to help the NSA get the information they need to finally crank up their cybersecurity surveillance system. The Senate this week is expected to take up a bill, the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA), that would incentivize companies to liberally share ''cyber threat indicators'' with the Department of Homeland Security by granting them legal immunity from any surveillance laws when they do so.
The companies would be allowed to leave their users' personal details in the information they give to the government unless they affirmatively know that it is not directly related to a threat, and the DHS would be required to share all of the information with the NSA and other federal agencies.
But that's just the beginning of how CISA would massively violate privacy.
Any information shared with the government under CISA could be used to turn on the NSA's latent cybersecurity surveillance powers. As revealed by the Snowden documents, cyber threat indicators can be used by the NSA as selectors to target the warrantless interception and collection of information from the Internet backbone. These selectors '-- things like email address, IP addresses, ranges of IP addresses, phone numbers, or strings of computer code '-- are used as filters to select and extract data from Internet traffic.
Importantly, any ''incidental'' data that is picked up along the way that is not directly related to the threat, including any and all personal data that is hacked or targeted as part of the cyber threat, can be indefinitely retained by the NSA. This could be a massive amount of data if a threat involves a company like Google, Bank of America, or AT&T.
Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which the government uses to authorize its upstream collection programs, allows the NSA to retain, share, and use information about U.S. persons related to criminal investigations, including (but not limited to) those involving cybersecurity crimes.
The NSA, FBI, and other law enforcement entities are allowed to query the databases that are assembled under Section 702 at will using U.S. persons identifiers (e.g. email addresses and phone numbers of people who live in the U.S.) to access communications that can be used in criminal investigations. This is the warrantless process that has become known as the ''backdoor search loophole.'' All of this can be done without a warrant under Section 702 because that law was supposed to only be used to investigate foreign suspects.
There's no way to know exactly how much CISA will expand the NSA's ability to collect and query data on Americans' communications, but the leaked documents suggest that the cyber threats shared under CISA will help them add a major new plank to their activities that they have lobbying for for years. The broad legal immunity provisions in CISA should help the NSA get a huge amount information to input into the system from a wide range of data-rich industries, including insurers, banks, casinos, telecoms, hospitals, airlines, and more that have already announced their support for the bill.
How you can help the show...
Stop CISA: Join EFF in a Week of Action Opposing Broad ''Cybersecurity'' Surveillance Legislation
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 13:05
Posted on July 28, 2015 by willyloman
from Common Dreams
How do you kill a zombie bill like CISA? Grassroots action. That's why EFF and over a dozen other groups are asking you to join us in a Week of Action to Stop CISA. The Senate is likely to vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) in the coming weeks, and only you can help us stop it.
We keep hearing that CISA and the other ''cybersecurity'' bills moving through Congress are ''must-pass'' legislation. But just like the original version of CISA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), we think grassroots activism can stop this legislation in its tracks.
CISA is fundamentally flawed because of its broad immunity clauses for companies, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers. Combined, they make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise. The bill may even make things worse for Internet users in several ways. That's why we're launching a week of action to make sure Congress is getting the message loud and clear: CISA must not pass.
[read more here]
Filed under: CISA, CISPA, Fascism, fascism in America, Fascism²
Wyden Blasts Plan to Have Tech Companies Report ''Terrorist Activity'' '' Whatever That Is
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 13:12
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is blocking a major intelligence bill to prompt further debate on what tech companies are calling an impossible requirement that would lead to massive over-reporting of useless information.
A provision introduced into the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Bill by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein would require Internet and tech companies to report every instance of ''terrorist activity'' '-- without defining what that ''terrorist activity'' is.
''There is no question that tracking terrorist activity and preventing online terrorist recruitment should be top priorities for law enforcement and intelligence agencies,'' Wyden said in a statement on Tuesday. ''But I haven't yet heard any law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggest that this provision will actually help catch terrorists, and I take the concerns that have been raised about its breadth and vagueness seriously.''
In a critique of the proposal, the Center for Democracy and Technology argued that it would ''turn online service providers into law enforcement watchdogs,'' and force them to distinguish between different forms of speech using a set of opaque criteria.
''It's so important that Sen. Wyden has put a hold on this bill,'' Emma Llans", director of the center's Free Expression Project, told The Intercept. The mandatory reporting provision ''has hardly been debated at all,'' she said. ''It's not clear what problem it's trying to solve.''
Law enforcement already has a vast amount of social media data to look through. FBI Director James Comey testified earlier this month to the Senate Intelligence Committee and responded directly to Feinstein's provision, saying that tech companies like Twitter are actually ''pretty good'' about reporting content that is genuinely troubling.
Data Act implementation hung up on definitions
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:18
Data Act implementation hung up on definitionsBy Zach NobleJul 29, 2015Looking for the ''display gallery'' of federal finances the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act could provide?
The feds need to hammer out more definitions first.
''Treasury and [the Office of Management and Budget] have gotten off to a good start,'' said Government Accountability Office head Gene Dodaro in a July 29 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. But, in true GAO fashion, Dodaro added that ''much more needs to be done.''
At the Data Act's core: financial transparency.
But to achieve that transparency, painting a coherent picture of all federal spending across myriad agencies, Uncle Sam needs to get all those agencies on the same page.
Dodaro noted that OMB and Treasury have released standards for 27 of the 57 financial data elements that will need to be reported under the law, yet other definitions are lacking.
''Program activity'' is officially defined; ''program'' is not.
''It's very problematic not having this definition,'' Dodaro noted, saying it's impossible to see what ''the aggregate federal investment is in a set of programs'' or to identify returns on such investments without a standard definition. ''This is not a way to run a government.''
Dodaro called for a complete inventory of federal programs to help ID instances of waste.
''[C]reating a comprehensive list of federal programs along with related funding and performance information is critical for identifying potential fragmentation, overlap, or duplication among federal programs or activities,'' Dodaro advised in his written testimony. ''Until these steps are taken and linked to the appropriate program activity data element, OMB and Treasury will be unable to provide a complete picture of spending by federal programs as required under the [Data A]ct.''
Robert Taylor, Treasury's deputy assistant inspector general for audit, noted that Data Act implementation has been slowed in part by of a mix of traditional and agile program management.
The combination of methods ''conceptually'' made sense, he said, but a lack of clear definitions and delineations has hampered progress.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) made the case that mandating reporting wasn't enough; agencies need to be forced to keep their reporting open and understandable.
He pointed to a recent $331,000 grant -- from which agency, he didn't say -- that funded a project merely described as ''research in strong interaction theory.''
''That was the extent of the information we had [under Data Act reporting],'' Meadows said.
After digging into it, Meadows said, he discovered the project was meant to study whether people act angrier when they're hungry by having snack-deprived toddlers stab voodoo dolls with pins.
''It's outrageous '... that we're spending money on poking voodoo dolls when you're hangry,'' chimed in IT Subcommittee Chair Will Hurd (R-Texas).
The Data Act, as thus far implemented, may have failed to clearly show where that $331,000 was going, but feds are still confident in its potential.
''Based on over 25 years of experience in the federal government, I have seen few federal management reforms that hold as much promise as the Data Act,'' testified Treasury's David Lebryk, calling the act ''comprehensive and transformational.''
Hurd called on the witnesses to report any troublesome agencies to Congress as they work to ''untangle the web of federal agency receipts '... to create a clear picture of government spending.''
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
Einstein approved, GSA nominees move forward and pondering a federal fog
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:08
News in Brief
Einstein approved, GSA nominees move forward and moreBy FCW StaffJul 29, 2015Senate panel approves Einstein authorizationThe Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill on July 29 that would codify the Department of Homeland Security's Einstein intrusion-detection program.
The bill would require all federal agencies to implement stronger protections and state-of-the-art technologies to defend against cyberattacks, and it address shortcomings in deployment and adoption of DHS's Einstein continuous diagnostics and mitigation cybersecurity program.
The bill, sponsored by the committee's ranking Democrat, Tom Carper of Delaware, was approved 9-0.
GSA IG Ochoa confirmed; Roth moves forwardSenators confirmed one General Services Administration nominee on July 29, and moved a second closer to the finish line.
The full Senate confirmed Carol Fortine Ochoa to be GSA inspector general. And the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved by voice vote the nomination of Denise Turner Roth as administrator of the General Services Administration.
Executive order calls for computing strategyPresident Barack Obama issued an executive order July 29 that laid the groundwork for a cross-agency high-performance computing strategy.
The directive established the National Strategic Computing Initiative, a ''whole-of-government'' initiative to deliver an investment strategy for making the most of HPC, which is essentially computing at scale. The departments of Energy and Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation, will be the lead agencies for the new initiative, the order stated. A council co-chaired by the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will coordinate R&D and deployment related to the initiative.
''Maximizing the benefits of HPC in the coming decades will require an effective national response to increasing demands for computing power, emerging technological challenges and opportunities, and growing economic dependency on and competition with other nations,'' the order said.
Agencies participating in the initiative should accelerate ''delivery of a capable exascale computing system that [integrates] hardware and software capability to deliver approximately 100 times the performance of current 10 petaflop systems,'' the directive stated.
Cisco engineer floats 'fog computing' for federal agenciesOrganizations have long focused on bringing data to a central repository for analysis, but according to a Cisco engineer, the Internet of Things (IOT) has changed the game.
The explosion of Web-connected devices -- over 29.5 billion devices will be connected in 2020, according to IDC -- means a "a lot of data has been created at the edge of the network, so the network edge analytics is extremely important to consider as part of the entire technology strategy," Kapil Bakshi, a distinguished engineer at Cisco Systems, said in an interview.
To analyze IOT data at the network edge, Bakshi floated the idea of "fog computing," which he described as having enough compute capability to do processing, network storage and analysis.
When asked which federal agencies have a good handle on IOT devices, Bakshi gave three examples. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with all their ongoing scientific experiments, are well aware of the data they are collecting, he said. And the sheer number of devices the Defense Department is deploying with its soldiers makes that agency well-attuned to the IOT.
Big data analytics needn't be costly. The software and hardware of a traditional enterprise-class database typically costs at least $20,000 per terabyte, but new technologies such as MapReduce and NoSQL have cut that figure below $1,000, according to Bakshi.
About the Author
Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.
ITA official tracks data for cyber insights
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:06
ITA official tracks data for cyber insightsBy Sean LyngaasJul 29, 2015The proliferation of data at the Defense Department via mobile devices and other means has made perimeter-focused defense an outdated notion, according to Thomas Sasala, chief technology officer at the Army's Information Technology Agency.
The data boom means there is no ''hard outer shell,'' or enterprise firewall through which to make DOD networks impregnable, Sasala said July 29 at an FCW-sponsored event in Washington, D.C. ''Our attack surface is bigger than we want it to be and in some cases, it's completely unknown how big it is in reality.''
Sasala's comments echo those of other federal IT officials urging a paradigm shift toward assuming hackers will always find a way into networks and focusing on ways to limit the damage done. His organization is part of a seismic shift underway at the Pentagon to a single IT services provider that is expected to yield gains in efficiency and scale.
Reliance on a signature-based security system makes zero-day vulnerabilities '' those unknown to IT professionals '' a challenge for the Pentagon. ''The system is not smart enough to know and look for abnormal behavior,'' Sasala said With the specter of zero-days never far from their thoughts, Pentagon officials have urged software vendors to get them patches more quickly.
The ITA CTO also made clear the extent to which DOD networks are flooded with cyber incidents '' about 190 million different incidents in one recent month, he said. Of those, a tiny fraction (in the hundreds) are investigated, making analytics all the more important to hone in on serious threats, Sasala added.
Such robust analysis of cyber incidents requires large storage capacity, a point that Nick Psaki, a former Army IT official, picked up on later in the conference. While servers and switches have ''progressed dramatically'' over the last 10 years, storage technology has lagged as the ''broken leg of the stool,'' said Psaki, who is now a system engineer at Pure Storage, a Mountain View, Calif.-based firm.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas
China hacking map, getting behind Einstein and Alabama cyber
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:03
News in Brief
China hacking map, getting behind Einstein and Alabama cyberBy FCW StaffJul 31, 2015NSA map shows China hacking points across U.S.A National Security Agency document obtained by NBC News pinpoints more than 600 alleged victims of Chinese cyber espionage across the United States.
The document, part of a threat briefing prepared in February 2014, shows corporate, private and government targets allegedly hit by Chinese hackers over the course of five years, NBC News reported.
Google and defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin were apparently among the targets of the hacking, which the report linked to the Chinese government.
DHS secretary calls for Einstein legislationDepartment of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called on Congress to pass legislation that would fully authorize his agency's Einstein cybersecurity program to protect the .gov environment.
Johnson said in a statement that he strongly supported the Senate's cybersecurity legislation, just after the measure was approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "Now, I urge the Senate to move quickly and pass this bill," he said.
Johnson said the bill, introduced by Rep. Tom Carper (D-Del.), will accelerate deployment of DHS' intrusion detection and prevention system across government and ensure that agencies know they are legally allowed to share information on network traffic with DHS for "narrowly tailored purposes." Some agencies have feared that making such disclosures under Einstein could cause legal problems for them.
The House passed a measure in April that contains similar provisions authorizing the program.
Army opening cyber campus in AlabamaThe Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is setting up a new facility in Alabama for cyber education and research, Defense Systems reported.
The 66,000-square-foot facility at Redstone Arsenal will host experts in hardware, software, firmware, forensics and industrial control systems, among other fields, according to Defense Systems.
About the Author
Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.
PSC takes on OPM, FBI lags on info sharing, Joint Chiefs' email crashes and more
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:52
News in Brief
PSC takes on OPM, FBI lags on info sharing, Joint Chiefs' email crashes and moreBy FCW StaffJul 30, 2015PSC: Where are all the notifications?The Professional Services Council hammered the Office of Personnel Management for failing to notify tens of millions of feds, contractors and others that their sensitive personal data has been breached.
"Unfortunately, it has now been more than four weeks since the first public release of the existence of the second [background check information] breach and still no notifications have been sent out," wrote PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway in a July 29 letter to OPM's new acting director, Beth Cobert. "These estimated 21.5 million employees and their family members are not sure of their exposure."
When OPM acknowledged the first breach of 4.2 million personnel records on June 4, the agency announced its notification plan -- and the contractor that would be providing credit monitoring -- on the same day.
When OPM announced that 21.5 million people had potentially been affected by the second breach on July 9, it was a different story. A contract award for second-round credit monitoring is not scheduled to be awarded until mid-August.
"This is an unacceptable delay in notifications," Soloway said. "Contractors and other affected individuals should be treated the same as the [4.2] million federal employees [and] former federal employees covered by the first data breach, who were notified within days of being affected and provided protections immediately."
Soloway called for immediate notifications for the 21.5 million people and 18 months of credit monitoring under existing contracts. Congress is currently hashing out whether affected individuals should receive even longer credit-monitoring terms.
OPM did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Audit: FBI's info sharing improves with agencies, lags with private sectorThe FBI has more work to do if it wants to make its sharing of cyberthreat information with the private sector more effective, according to an audit published July 30 by the Justice Department's inspector general.
The information shared is often not considered useful because it is "already known, lacks context or is outdated," the report states. Going the other direction, private firms conveyed the sense that sharing information with the FBI is "akin to sending information into a black hole because they often do not know what becomes of it."
Nonetheless, the audit found that information sharing among members of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a 19-agency group charged with predicting and thwarting cyberthreats, had improved significantly since a 2011 audit.
The recurring challenge of competition with the private sector for talent was also raised in the latest audit. Former FBI officials have gone on to top positions at cybersecurity firms, presumably with higher salaries. The audit recommends that the FBI try to recruit people who are motivated by the mission rather than the money.
Joint Chiefs' unclassified email network taken downThe Joint Chiefs of Staff's unclassified email network was taken down July 30, apparently in the midst of a potential cyberthreat.
"We continue to identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks across our networks," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson said in a statement. "With those goals in mind, we have taken the Joint Staff [unclassified] network down and continue to investigate. Our top priority is to restore services as quickly as possible."
Another bill seeks to strengthen DHS' cyber handHouse Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has introduced legislation aimed at strengthening the Department of Homeland Security's defense of civilian agency networks against cyberthreats.
The bill would amend the 2002 Homeland Security Act to require the DHS secretary and the Office of Management and Budget director to develop an intrusion detection and response plan covering agencies other than the Defense Department and intelligence outfits.
The measure would also task those individuals with assessing best practices for preventing data exfiltration in the event of a hack.
"In light of the massive OPM hacks, it's clear that our nation's federal digital infrastructure isn't capable of effectively detecting and defending against these cyberthreats," McCaul said in a statement. "Currently, the Department of Homeland Security's hands are tied in responding to ever growing cyberthreats. Providing DHS with similar abilities to defend federal networks that the Department of Defense uses to protect military networks is common-sense legislation."
18F's open-source repo guideIn a July 29 blog post, the General Services Administration's 18F announced an "Open Source Style Guide" to help organizations effectively document code repositories.
House of Representatives seeking new CIO
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:45
House of Representatives seeking new CIOThe two-month search for a new CIO for the U.S. House of Representatives has flown mostly under the radar, but the post is still open -- and applications are being considered.
Former House CIO Nelson Moe left in May to become CIO for the state of Virginia, and Deputy CIO Catherine Szpindor has been serving as acting CIO since then. The House's Office of the Chief Administrative Officer has not actively advertised the vacancy, instead choosing to work with a private recruiting firm. But if you're interested in applying, more information is available here.
Posted by Jonathan Lutton on Jul 30, 2015 at 12:33 PM
Greek 'Rescue' is Berlin's Tar Baby, Worse than WWI Reparations | New Eastern Outlook
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:55
By now it is clear that far from a sensible resolution of the relatively solvable Greek crisis, the agreement pushed on Greece above all by the Merkel coalition in Berlin, with the willing complicity of Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, is preprogrammed to not merely fail but also to detonate a tsunami of consequences which likely will begin the chaotic breakup of the European Monetary System and its Euro. What's also becoming clear is the clash of geopolitical interests between Washington, France and the IMF on the one side and Germany, with support from tiny Finland on the other side. For those conscious of the barest facts of history, the cruel irony is that Germany is imposing on ''defeated'' Greece conditions more severe than the post World War I Versailles Reparations conditions under the so-called Dawes Plan in 1924.
The terms of the deal amount to a brazen theft of the most prized Greek state assets by a German state bank, the Kreditanstalt f¼r Wiederaufbau (KfW). According to a report in the GermanS¼ddeutsche Zeitung, the Greek government has agreed to a German demand to place ownership with the KfW of some '¬ 50 billion of Greek state assets such as ports, airports, highways and other national property, including no doubt the state offshore oil and gas rights that are believed to hold hundreds of billions of Euros worth of hydrocarbons. Those assets will then be privatized by an entity owned in effect by the German state KfW bank. The proceeds will go to repay the EU creditors' lending to Greece that went largely to bail out French and German banks.
The fund, modelled on the disastrous East GermanTreuhandFund that asset-stripped former Communist German Democratic Republic after its union with West Germany in November 1989, will be based in Athens, but its Greek employees will be supervised by relevant EU agencies, and controlled at the top apparently by the FrankfurtKreditanstalt f¼r Wiederaufbau.
It was Wolfgang Sch¤uble, then German Interior Minister, who negotiated the terms of unification of East Germany into West Germany. The East German Treuhand was set up as part of that, to hold all Communist GDR state assets to prepare them for privatization. Following the assassinations of Deutsche Bank chairman Alfred Herrhausen'--a key adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl who advocated massive debt forgiveness for former communist countries such as Poland and construction of a high-speed rail linking Berlin to Moscow'--the first head of Treuhand, Detlev Rohwedder, was also assassinated by professional terrorists who were curiously never apprehended. Rohwedder's replacement at Treuhand, Birgit Breuel, daughter of a prominent German private banker, was a regular guest at the Bilderberg think-tank meetings. She managed to turn industrial East Germany into a wasteland of deindustrialization and tourism.
Here an historical note is in also order about the integrity of having the KfW as ''guardian'' of Greek state assets. It was the KfW, via its then-daughter bank, IKB in D¼sseldorf, which first triggered the global panic that was named the USA sub-prime real estate crisis in July of 2007. IKB had bought billions worth of US dodgy real estate bonds marketed to them by Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and other Wall Street firms. The KfW, as the largest shareholder of IKB took responsibility and the chairman of KfW was forced to leave amid heavy criticism for failed understanding of bank risk. Today the chairman ofKreditanstalt f¼r Wiederaufbauis Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch¤uble.
A Greek Dawes Plan
While the comparison to theTreuhandof Germany in the 1990's is apt, there is a more poignant and more precise model that applies, that of the US-instigated Dawes Plan of 1924.
The Versailles Treaty imposed on a defeated Germany in 1919 contained an infamousArticle 231, the War Guilt Clause. It made Germany and her allies the sole guilty ones for World War I and all its damages. German Weimar hyperinflation in 1922-1923, ignited by the French military occupation of the Ruhr industrial heart of Germany, was resolved in April 1924 when the Bank of England's Montagu Norman and New York J.P. Morgan Bank got German banker Hjalmar Schacht to be head of the GermanReichsbankunder suspicious circumstances.
With their man Schacht in control of the German national bank, J.P. Morgan stepped in with a new scheme to collect German war reparations. The French attempt to collect at gunpoint had utterly failed.
The reparations technically would be paid to allied victors Britain and France. Britain and France in turn would turn those reparation payments over to the US Government. J.P. Morgan & Co. had been the main creditor illegally financing munitions purchases in the USA in the period before 1917, when the United States was officially neutral. The new debt collection plan was drafted by an American banker close to the Morgan group, General Charles G. Dawes, who sat on the Allied Reparations Committee.
Under the Dawes Plan, French troops would immediately evacuate the Ruhr. Germany would pay a sum of one billion Reichsmarks the first year rising to 2.5 billion annually. The German Reichsbank, then a public state bank, was forced to become a private independent central bank in effect controlled by The House of Morgan. In return for a loan of $100 million from a consortium of Wall Street banks led by J.P. Morgan, Germany would place its tax receipts under the direct control of an American debt collector agent in Berlin.
At Versailles in 1919 the Allied victors had systematically stripped Germany of her most vital economic resources. All her valuable colonies, especially Tanganyika and South West Africa, were taken by Britain. The growing economic markets of the Ottoman Empire, opened through the expansion of the Baghdad Railway, along with the Deutsche Bank oil rights of the Turkish Petroleum Company were gone.
Germany herself had lost her most valuable source of iron ore for her steel industry: Alsace-Lorraine and the east, including Silesia, with its rich mineral and agricultural resources. Germany had lost 75 per cent of her iron ore, 68 per cent of her zinc ore and 26 per cent of her coal as a consequence of Versailles. Alsatian textile industries and potash mines were gone. Her entire merchant fleet, a fifth of her river transport fleet, a quarter of her fishing fleet, 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 railroad cars and 5,000 motor trucks were taken by the Allied powers after Versailles.
All was justified as part of an as yet undefined German war 'reparations' levy. In 1921 the Allied reparations Committee, under what was termed the London Ultimatum, fixed the total owed by Germany to the Allies at the unpayable sum of132 billion gold marks.
Washington and Wall Street, through the House of Morgan, then organized the Dawes Plan to take the German tax revenues in order to further extract their pound of flesh for Germany's ''sole war guilt.''
Under the Dawes Plan, Germany paid reparations for five years, until 1929. At the end of 1929, she owed more than at the beginning. It was a scheme of organized looting and debt vassalage by the international banking community dominated by J.P. Morgan in New York. Guarantees were made for reparations payments from special funds in Germany. An Agent-General for Reparations, S. Parker Gilbert, a J.P. Morgan bank partner, was installed in Berlin to collect the repayments for the American banks. With their risk thus all but nil, New York banks began a vastly profitable lending to Germany, money which was recycled back to the banks of New York in the form of reparations, with commission and interest. It was a vast international credit pyramid at the top of which sat, ultimately, the New York banks.
Between 1924 and 1931 Germany paid 10.5 billion marks in reparations, but borrowed 18.6 billion marks from abroad. German recovery after 1923, under the guiding hand of Montagu Norman and hisReichsbankcolleague, Hjalmar Schacht, was all controlled by the borrowings from the House of Morgan and Wall Street. It was similar to the borrowing frenzy in Greece as they were overwhelmed by ''cheap'' French and German bank credits to buy homes, new cars and such after joining the Eurozone. When the music of cheap foreign loans stopped, the edifice collapsed.
Forgetting the lessons of history
In the Greek case, with the clear collusion of Prime Minister Tsipras, Finance Minister Varoufakis and now Euclid Tsakalotos, the German Government, with cruel irony, is using the same model that was imposed on defeated Germany in the 1920's. Today Berlin is imposing impossible debt repayment terms on Greece, debts that had little to do with the Greek people or even their government, but rather with the excesses of the French and other EU and Wall Street banks during the years of easy money.
At this point, as the shock-wave dynamic is working through the Eurozone, Berlin has set off a chain-reaction. In many ways it is similar to that by the revenge-obsessed French government in May, 1931, when they deliberately brought down the Vienna, AustriaCreditanstaltbank to punish Germany for creating a trade alliance with Austria. That French act set off a chain reaction that brought the inter-linked German banking system into collapse and triggered an economic depression which paved the way for the German NSDAP candidate, Adolf Hitler, with support of the German ultra-conservative Catholic Center Party, under Chancellor Franz von Papen, to become German Chancellor in 1933.
The Tar Baby
Forcing a country and a people to swallow guilt at all, let alone sole guilt for the Greek debt crisis, is a pre-programmed plan to political and economic suicide. It could be that the German government has just set into motion the suicide of the European Monetary Union with its insistence on its rigid demands on Greece for repayment of unpayable debts. Be sure that some in Washington and Wall Street are smiling at all this.
The Euro threat to displace the dollar as world reserve currency, the main pillar of America's hegemony position that allows it to finance its wars and Color Revolutions with unwilling money from others, looks much less as the Eurozone sinks into a ''Tar Baby'' quagmire of mutual recrimination and growing EU economic misery.
Joel Chandler Harris, author of the original Tar Baby story in his Tales of Uncle Remus, today would recognize immediately that B'rer Fox'--Christine Lagarde and the US Treasury behind her'--has lured B'rer Rabbit in Berlin to start punching her Tar Baby, Greece, for not ''respecting'' her sufficiently. Now B'rer Rabbit is stuck in the tar. Lagarde's IMF, conveniently, has leaked a confidential IMF report dated July 14 (French Bastille Day) after the much-touted Berlin deal with Greece was forced on the Greek Parliament.
The IMF document states that ''Greece's debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far.'' The IMF, one of three Troika members along with the European Central Bank and the EU Commission, may be the first one to ''exit,'' that is to walk away from Greece and from the Troika. Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch¤uble has made IMF participation in the Greek deal mandatory to any deal. Now, under its own rules, the IMF is not allowed to participate in a bailout if a country's debt is deemed unsustainable and there is no prospect of it returning to private bond markets for financing.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
EU's Greek Austerity Plan Rejected By The IMF -- Paul Craig Roberts - PaulCraigRoberts.org
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 03:20
Copyright .(C) Paul Craig Roberts 2014.- Please contact us for information on syndication rights.
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New 2010 IMF Reform Deadline
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:36
During a virtual press release by Chrstine Lagarde today, she was asked the question on the 2010 reforms. Her answer gives the 15th of September as the deadline for the reforms to be enacted by the United States before the interim steps (Plan B) are implemented.
MS. LAGARDE:First of all I don't think we should give up on the 2010 reform. We take every day as it comes. We take every contact with Congress representatives as they come. But I very much hope that we can continue to hope for a positive resolution of this 2010 reform, which is completely in the hands of the U.S. authorities. We have nearly 80 percent support in the membership, but we need the key member. Now, the IMFC, which is one of the key governing institutions of the IMF, has decided that if by the 15th of September this matter is not resolved satisfactorily, then we have to select the interim step that we will take forward in order to make sure that there is an element of down payment on the quota increase. So I'm not suggesting that the quota increase that was decided under the 14th review, which is often referred to as the 2010 reform will be completely delivered upon. That would be wishful thinking on my part. But I know that an interim step is very much in the cards and that it will be considered as a down payment compared with what we should achieve under the 2010 reform.
And she also mentions that the decline in Chinese's stock market will not affect the SDR review.
Read the full transcript here.
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LONE WOLF-Assailant in Garland, Texas, attack bought gun in 2010 under Fast and Furious operation - LA Times
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:49
Five years before he was shot to death in the failed terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, Nadir Soofi walked into a suburban Phoenix gun shop to buy a 9-millimeter pistol.
At the time, Lone Wolf Trading Co. was known among gun smugglers for selling illegal firearms. And with Soofi's history of misdemeanor drug and assault charges, there was a chance his purchase might raise red flags in the federal screening process.
Inside the store, he fudged some facts on the form required of would-be gun buyers.
What Soofi could not have known was that Lone Wolf was at the center of a federal sting operation known as Fast and Furious, targeting Mexican drug lords and traffickers. The idea of the secret program was to allow Lone Wolf to sell illegal weapons to criminals and straw purchasers, and track the guns back to large smuggling networks and drug cartels.
Instead, federal agents lost track of the weapons and the operation became a fiasco, particularly after several of the missing guns were linked to shootings in Mexico and the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona.
Soofi's attempt to buy a gun caught the attention of authorities, who slapped a seven-day hold on the transaction, according to his Feb. 24, 2010, firearms transaction record, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, the hold was lifted after 24 hours, and Soofi got the 9-millimeter.
As the owner of a small pizzeria, the Dallas-born Soofi, son of a Pakistani American engineer and American nurse, would not have been the primary focus of federal authorities, who back then were looking for smugglers and drug lords.
He is now.
In May, Soofi and his roommate, Elton Simpson, burst upon the site of a Garland cartoon convention that was offering a prize for the best depiction of the prophet Muhammad, something offensive to many Muslims. Dressed in body armor and armed with three pistols, three rifles and 1,500 rounds of ammunition, the pair wounded a security officer before they were killed by local police.
A day after the attack, the Department of Justice sent an "urgent firearms disposition request" to Lone Wolf, seeking more information about Soofi and the pistol he bought in 2010, according to a June 1 letter from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, to U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch.
Though the request did not specify whether the gun was used in the Garland attack, Justice Department officials said the information was needed "to assist in a criminal investigation," according to Johnson's letter, also reviewed by The Times.
The FBI so far has refused to release any details, including serial numbers, about the weapons used in Garland by Soofi and Simpson. Senate investigators are now pressing law enforcement agencies for answers, raising the chilling possibility that a gun sold during the botched Fast and Furious operation ended up being used in a terrorist attack against Americans.
Among other things, Johnson is demanding to know whether federal authorities have recovered the gun Soofi bought in 2010, where it was recovered and whether it had been discharged, according to the letter. He also demanded an explanation about why the initial seven-day hold was placed on the 2010 pistol purchase and why it was lifted after 24 hours.
Asked recently for an update on the Garland shooting, FBI Director James B. Comey earlier this month declined to comment. "We're still sorting that out," he said.
Officials at the Justice Department and the FBI declined to answer questions about whether the 9-millimeter pistol was one of the guns used in the Garland attack or seized at Soofi's apartment.
It remains unclear whether Soofi's 2010 visit to Lone Wolf is a bizarre coincidence or a missed opportunity for federal agents to put Soofi on their radar years before his contacts with Islamic extremists brought him to their attention.
Though Islamic State militants have claimed to have helped organize the Garland attack, U.S. officials are still investigating whether Soofi and Simpson received direct support from the group or were merely inspired by its calls for violence against the West.
Comey suggested that the attack fits the pattern of foreign terrorist groups indoctrinating American citizens through the Internet. He referred to it as the "crowdsourcing of terrorism."
In a handwritten letter apparently mailed hours before the attack, Soofi said he was inspired by the writings of Islamic cleric Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
"I love you," Soofi wrote to his mother, Sharon Soofi, "and hope to see you in eternity." In a telephone interview, Sharon Soofi described the letter and said her son had been shot twice in the head and once in the chest, according to autopsy findings she received.
At the time of the 2010 gun purchase, Soofi ran a Phoenix pizza parlor. His mother said that was about the same time he met Simpson, who worked for Soofi at the restaurant. They later shared an apartment, a short drive from the Lone Wolf store.
Reached by telephone, Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf, denied that his store sold the gun to Soofi. "Not here," Howard said before hanging up.
Sharon Soofi said her son had told her he wanted the pistol for protection because his restaurant was in a "rough area." She said he also acquired an AK-47 assault rifle at the end of last year or early this year, when authorities believe he and Simpson were plotting an attack on the Super Bowl in Arizona.
"I tried to convince him that, what in the world do you need an AK-47 for?" she said in a telephone interview. Soofi told her they practiced target shooting in the desert. Her younger son, Ali Soofi, was living with his brother and Simpson at the time, she said, but left after becoming frightened by the weapons, ammunition and militant Islamist literature.
She blamed Simpson for radicalizing her son, who she said had no history of religious extremism. A month before Soofi bought the pistol, Simpson was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI about his plans to travel to Somalia and engage in "violent jihad," according to federal court documents.
Simpson was jailed until March 2011 and convicted of making false statements. But the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the false statements were connected to international terrorism. Simpson was released and placed on probation.
After the Garland attack, the FBI arrested a third man, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, and charged him with planning the Garland attack. At a detention hearing on June 16, prosecutors and an FBI agent provided details about the plot, but avoided discussing the history of the firearms.
Sharon Soofi said she found her son's letter in her post office box. It was dated the Saturday before the attack, and postmarked in Dallas on Monday, the day after the assault, suggesting he dropped it in the mailbox before he and Simpson arrived in Garland. "In the name of Allah," the letter began, "I am sorry for the grief I have caused."
He referred to "those Muslims who are being killed, slandered, imprisoned, etc. for their religion," and concluded, "I truly love you, Mom, but this life is nothing but shade under the tree and a journey. The reality is the eternal existence in the hereafter."
Copyright (C) 2015, Los Angeles Times
ISIS could use drones to bomb sporting events, music festivals '' intelligence sources '-- RT UK
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:23
Security sources claim the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) could use the easily affordable home assembly drones to drop explosives on open air sporting and cultural events, causing mass casualties which could be filmed by on-board cameras.
An unnamed counter-terrorism source told the Express that terror groups had been ''trying to launch a drone-borne bomb attack for some time, as these machines are getting more hi-tech every year.''
The unidentified source said groups were planning a ''spectacular'' which could be filmed and posted online for propaganda purposes.
''ISIS is obsessed with re-creating the horror of 9/11 and believes this may be possible by launching a multi-drone attack on large numbers of people in a synchronized attack,'' the source said.
While unmanned aerial vehicles are best known for their military role, rapidly developing drone technology has led to a civilian market flooded with cheaply available versions which can cost as little as £100.
In March, a report published by the House of Lords EU Select Committee highlighted some of the risks derived from the rapid increase in the use of commercial and civilian drones for services including photography and land-surveillance.
They said the high demand could stagnate if there is even one serious accident and recommended authorities design an app to monitor levels of drone traffic.
Their report came just months after a near collision between a civilian drone and a passenger jet at Heathrow Airport sparked questions about the effectiveness of current safety legislation.''2014 could be described as the year of the drone,'' the report said.
''As the year drew on, drones were found 'buzzing' close to a nuclear power station in France, and a near miss was reported between a small drone and a passenger aircraft landing at Heathrow Airport.''
Report for DHS Warns That Booting Extremists Off Twitter Might Upset Them
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:05
Kicking U.S.-based ISIS supporters off social media could provoke them to engage in lone-wolf attacks, according to a report prepared for the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by The Intercept.
''If social media activity is disrupted '-- for example, through targeted and sustained account suspensions by the hosting companies '-- lone offender attacks may become more likely as law enforcement pressure could cause some U.S.-based individuals to mobilize on their own, in an attempt to avoid disruption,'' says the report, issued in May by a group of regional anti-terrorism centers.
Here is an excerpt of the report, which is titled ''Field Analysis Report: (U//FOUO) Assessing ISIL's Influence and Perceived Legitimacy In The Homeland: A State And Local Perspective.'' (It refers to ISIS, or the Islamic State, as ISIL):
But take that conclusion with a grain of salt. The footnote indicated by the asterisk there reads: ''This forward-looking assessment of possible future developments related to ISIL messaging is based on an analytic exercise conducted by State and Local Fusion Center intelligence and law enforcement personnel, and moderated by Intelligence Community tradecraft experts provided by DHS & I&A'' '-- that last one presumably being the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
An ''analytic exercise'' could easily be a bunch of people sitting around, speculating in the absence of facts about things they don't really know about. And fusion centers, the notoriously inept entities established around the country by the Bush administration after 9/11, are particularly suspect. The centers were ostensibly intended to help local, state and federal authorities share information about public threats. Repeated studies of fusions center, including a particularly devastating 2012 Senate report, have found them to be useless, wasteful and intrusive.
Typically, the argument about keeping terrorists online versus booting them off is about whether the value of being able to monitor them for important information about radicalization and attack-planning exceeds the danger they will radicalize susceptible people into taking action those people wouldn't otherwise take.
FBI Director James Comey has described radical Twitter users as the ''devil'' on people's shoulders who ''all day long [is] saying 'Kill, kill, kill, kill.''' But, as he explained during a July 9 press conference, ''There's actually a discussion within the counterterrorism community about whether it makes sense to shut down Twitter accounts affiliated with terrorist organizations or to allow them to operate as a way to gather intelligence.''
Several lawmakers have urged social media companies to remove terrorist content or report it directly to the government. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., got a provision inserted into the Senate's intelligence authorization bill approved on July 7 that would force all social media companies to directly report every instance of ''terrorist activity'' they become aware of. However, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., blasted the provision in a statement on Monday, saying that tech companies are understandably baffled by the vague, impossible and seemingly useless requirement.
Groups like former Bush aide Fran Townsend's Counter Extremism Project work to shame Twitter into purging ISIS supporters from the Twitterverse. State Department officials and others say ISIS' social media message is powerful, and hard to contradict at times, as it appeals to disenfranchised people all over the world.
DHS spokesperson S.Y. Lee declined to comment on the report's conclusion. A spokesperson for the Delaware Information and Analysis Center, listed as the lead source of the report, did not respond to a request for comment.
Intercept reporter Jana Winter contributed to this story.
FBI's Key West Counterterrorism Sting Target ''A Little Slow''
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:10
Photo: Harlem Suarez/Facebook
The news spread quickly when federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday night that FBI agents had foiled an Islamic State-linked plot to bomb a beach in Key West, Florida.
The alleged attacker, 23-year-old Cuban-American Harlem Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, hardly looks the part of an Islamic State fighter.
In a selfie posted on Facebook, Suarez has closed-cropped brown hair and tattoos that cover his right arm, left shoulder and chest. He wears a Batman T-shirt and a sleeveless hoodie.
The U.S. government alleges that Suarez conspired with an FBI informant and undercover agents to bomb a stretch of beach in Key West. The FBI affidavit supporting the criminal complaint portrays Suarez as a bumbler who lived with his parents '-- not an uncommon description for targets of FBI counterterrorism stings.
Indeed, in Suarez's case no sophisticated surveillance operation was necessary: Suarez came to the attention of a law enforcement agency simply because he announced his support for the Islamic State online.
On April 8, an unidentified individual went to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office because he had received a friend request from Suarez, who had written, among other things, on his Facebook page: ''We are the islamic state We are isis Muslims'' and ''We are you behad cristians isis.''
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office referred the tip to the FBI. In May, an FBI informant friended Suarez on Facebook. Suarez, who had posted a number of ISIS videos and statements to his Facebook page, allegedly told the informant in an online chat that he had two guns, and was looking for a rifle and a bulletproof vest.
In a phone conversation, according to the affidavit, Suarez told the informant that he had ''thought about traveling to the Middle East and that he had been trying to contact someone from Syria.'' In the FBI document, there is no confirmation, or even suggestion, that Suarez had been in contact with a member of the Islamic State.
With Suarez, the FBI followed its sting playbook to a tee. The informant recorded Suarez making video, as occurred in the sting involving Sami Osmakac, a mentally ill Albanian-American from Florida who was also caught up in a counterterrorism sting.
In the video, Suarez wore a black tactical vest, black shirt, black face mask and a yellow and black scarf. ''I call to other brothers worldwide to create a caliphate in the Middle East,'' Suarez had written in his video script, according to the affidavit. ''Destroy our enemies against us.''
A couple of weeks later, on June 3, the informant introduced Suarez to an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as an Islamic State operative who could supply explosive devices. Suarez allegedly talked of an attack on July 4 in Marathon, Florida, or in Miami Beach.
''They would know that, you know, it's coming from Islamic State,'' Suarez allegedly said.
The Independence Day plot didn't happen, of course. It's unclear why, from the FBI affidavit. There is some suggestion that Suarez had cold feet. The undercover agent had to ask Suarez in a phone conversation on July 13 if he was playing games, according to the affidavit.
''No, I don't,'' Suarez answered. ''I'm not playing no games.''
The agent then asked if Suarez if he was ''true to the Islamic State.''
A one-word answer followed: ''Yeah.''
The first undercover agent introduced Suarez to a second agent, a supposed bomb maker for the Islamic State. On July 27, Suarez met with the second undercover agent in Key West and accepted from him what he believed was a backpack bomb. In truth, the device was inert. FBI agents then arrested Suarez, and he was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
One of Suarez's former co-workers on a hotel cleaning staff told the local newspaper he was a ''a little slow.''
Suarez is the latest man to be arrested as part of an increased push to nab Islamic State sympathizers in FBI counterterrorism stings. These stings, like the ones over the previous decade that targeted so-called lone wolf Qaeda sympathizers, are catching people of questionable capacity who may not even be in contact with the Islamic State. Some of these recent targets have been described as mentally ill.
In Suarez's case, it's questionable whether he could have moved a terrorism plot forward were it not for the FBI. When he tried on his own to purchase an AK-47 using his real name and address, according to the FBI affidavit, the seller turned him away.
The reason: Suarez was incompetent. He had filled out the paperwork incorrectly.
REPORT: Navy to Charge Officer Who Fired on Islamist During Chattanooga Terror Attack
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:41
Navy Lt. Commander will reportedly be charged for shooting at Chattanooga terroristLt Commander Timothy White and Islamist killer Muhammad Abdulazeez
A report at The Navy Times in July confirmed that one of the Marines shot during the Chattanooga terrorist attack exchanged fire with the terrorist. Navy Lt. Cmdr Timothy White also shot back at the terrorist.
But rather than being celebrated as a hero, Lt. Commander White may be charged for discharging a firearm on federal property.Allen West reported this week that Lt. Commander Timothy White
Ladies and gents, resulting from the text message I received yesterday, I can confirm that the United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property.
The text message asked if it would be possible for Lt.Cmdr White to reach out to me. To wit I replied, affirmative.
What kind of freaking idiots are in charge of our Armed Forces '-- pardon me, our ''unArmed Forces''? What would they prefer that Abdulazeez had been able to kill all the Marines and Sailors at the Naval Support Reserve Center? Let me draw an interesting contrast: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is more concerned about lifting the ban on transgendered Sailors. Mabus has a problem in that for the first time since 2007 the US Navy will not have a Carrier Battle Group operating in the Persian Gulf. But this knucklehead has no problem with the Navy seeking to destroy the career of a Sailor, a commander of an installation, returning fire against an Islamic jihadist attack. I do not care if it was his personal weapon, he deserves a medal for facing the enemy.
Folks, this has become the Obama military that will not implement policies for our men and women in uniform to be protected '-- but will punish them if they do protect themselves. What ever happened to the Navy of John Paul Jones, Farragut, Halsey, and Nimitz? What has happened in our America where we believe that our men and women in uniform '-- especially the commanders '-- are just targets for these damn Islamic jihadists?
Lt Commander Timothy White is pictured with his family.Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.
HAIR-Can Hillary mansion-hop her way into middle-class hearts? - Kate Bennett - POLITICO
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 03:11
Is Hillary Clinton's fondness for private jets, pricey highlights in her hair and mansion-hopping with rich fundraisers undercutting her appeal to the middle-class'--and her chance at wooing voters from the defiantly non-coiffed Bernie Sanders?
After a week that saw her getting busted boarding a fuel-guzzling (French-made!) private jet in Iowa only minutes after announcing her platform to stop climate change, and having her ever-changing hairdo tended to at the Bergdorf Goodman salon of Manhattan celebrity stylist John Barrett'--who charges $600 for a cut-and-blow dry, thank you very much'--Clinton planned to rest her heels at two private fundraisers, hosted by friends, in the Washington, D.C., area on Thursday night.
Story Continued Below
Clinton is expected at the posh homes of two wealthy local bundlers, Heather Podesta and Ray and Shaista Mahmood. Podesta is having the first ''Conversation with Hillary,'' as the events were being touted, at her Kalorama mansion, while the Mahmoods took the later two-hour time slot, opening the doors of their Mount Vernon, Virginia, estate from 7 to 9 p.m.
Guests at both parties have ponied up the maximum donation of $2,700 each to rub shoulders with Mrs. Clinton. For Podesta, owner of Heather Podesta + Partners, a lobbying group with clients such as Snapchat and AIG, the soiree will cement her status as a ''Hillblazer,'' someone who has committed to raising at least $100,000 for Clinton's campaign. The Mahmoods are no strangers to hosting political fundraisers at their sprawling 8-bedroom home; as vice president, Al Gore once arrived on their lawn by helicopter. Ray Mahmood, a Pakistani-American real estate developer, is a vocal supporter of Democratic politicians and uses his VIP connections to champion Pakistani causes and open dialogue about the Muslim faith. In addition to raising money for Clinton's previous senate and presidential campaigns, Mahmood also donated more than $10,000 to The Clinton Foundation last year. Neither Podesta nor Mahmood returned requests for comment.
Still, there is scuttlebutt in D.C. society circles that, after several recent passes through the capital, Clinton could be running up against some local fundraising fatigue. Stay tuned.
Top Clinton aide accused of receiving overpayments at State Department - The Washington Post
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:46
State Department investigators concluded this year that Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Rodham Clinton's closest aides, was overpaid by nearly $10,000 because of violations of rules governing vacation and sick leave during her tenure as an official in the department.
The finding '-- which Abedin has formally contested '-- emerged publicly Friday after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and others seeking more information about an investigation into possible ''criminal'' conduct by Abedin concerning her pay.
The letters also sought the status of an inquiry into whether Abedin had violated conflict-of-interest laws related to her special employment situation, which allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a private firm with close ties to the Clintons.
The finding that Abedin, a longtime Clinton confidante who now serves as vice chairwoman of her presidential campaign, had improperly collected taxpayer money could prove damaging to Clinton's candidacy, as Republicans charge that government rules were routinely bent to benefit Clinton and her aides.
At the same time, the letters, which for the first time have publicized an internal pay dispute that has been simmering for months, could bolster Democratic claims that congressional Republicans are using their oversight role to hurt Clinton politically.
Grassley indicates in the letters, which were provided to The Washington Post, that he is describing information from an inquiry by the State Department's Office of Inspector General. A spokesman for Grassley said the senator's office has not independently confirmed the allegations.
In letters sent Thursday to Abedin, Kerry and the Office of Inspector General, Grassley wrote that staff of the inspector general had found ''at least a reasonable suspicion of a violation'' of the law concerning the ''theft of public money through time and attendance fraud'' as well as ''conflicts of interest connected to her overlapping employment.''
Grassley also raised the possibility that efforts to investigate Abedin's actions were thwarted because many of her exchanges were sent through Clinton's private e-mail server.
According to Grassley's description of the investigation, Abedin's time sheets indicated that she never took vacation or sick leave during her four years at the State Department, from January 2009 to February 2013. But the investigation, the senator wrote, found evidence that Abedin did take time off, including a 10-day trip to Italy, and that she told colleagues in e-mails that she was out ''on leave.''
A spokesman for Clinton's campaign declined to comment. Attorneys for Abedin said she learned in May that the State Department's inspector general had concluded that she improperly collected $9,857 for periods when she was on vacation or leave.
Abedin responded with a 12-page letter contesting the findings and formally requesting an administrative review of the investigation's conclusion, a process that remains ongoing.
Her attorneys say the conclusion that Abedin was overpaid relied on a finding that she had done no work while on the Italy trip and in the weeks after she gave birth in December 2011. However, they wrote that the evidence uncovered by the inspector general made it clear that she had worked extensively during those times.
''Huma Abedin is widely known as one of the hardest-working people in all of Washington during the nearly two decades she was in public service,'' said Karen Dunn, an attorney for Abedin. ''The IG report found a multitude of instances when she was working even when she was on maternity leave, yet its central charge was that she owes back pay for work missed while on leave. It simply doesn't add up.''
Abedin's attorneys said the inquiry resulted in a finding only about the pay issue and not about any possible conflicts of interest posed by her work arrangement or issues related to the use of Clinton's private e-mail server.
Doug Welty, a spokesman for the Office of Inspector General at the State Department, said he couldn't comment on the existence of a probe into Abedin. A State Department spokesman also declined to comment.
Grassley also alleged that Clinton's highly controversial private e-mail arrangement interfered with the investigation.
The committee ''has learned that the OIG had reason to believe that e-mail evidence relevant to that inquiry was contained in e-mails Ms. Abedin sent and received from her account on Secretary Clinton's non-government server, making them unavailable to the OIG through its normal statutory right of access to records,'' Grassley wrote.
Since 2013, Grassley has been inquiring about Abedin's ''special government employee'' status, which during her final six months at the State Department allowed her to take outside employment with the Clinton Foundation and Teneo, a firm led by longtime Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band.
Grassley's letter to Kerry claimed that Abedin had exchanged 7,300 e-mails that ''involved'' Band but did not specify how many of those were direct correspondence between the two.
In one instance, Grassley wrote, Band allegedly e-mailed Abedin to request her help in landing a White House appointment for a friend who led a charity that later hired his firm and donated to the Clinton Foundation.
However, Grassley did not release the e-mail in question, nor did he allege any wrongdoing by Abedin. And the timeline of events does not clearly support an allegation of conflict of interest: The Band friend was named to a White House panel in 2010, before her charity hired Teneo and before Teneo hired Abedin.
Band did not respond to requests for comment. Dunn, Abedin's attorney, said: ''We are unaware of this e-mail and Senator Grassley has not shared it with us or the media. But every piece of this letter has issues with accuracy and we have no reason to believe this is an exception.''
Tom Hamburger covers the intersection of money and politics for The Washington Post.
Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.
Carol Leonnig covers federal agencies with a focus on government accountability.
State Dept. overpaid Hillary aide nearly $10,000 | Washington Examiner
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:12
State Department investigators have uncovered that one of Hillary Clinton's closest aides, Huma Abedin, was overpaid by nearly $10,000 during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, reported the Washington Post. The revelation was made public by letters of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department's Office of Inspector General.
"In May 2013, the Department of State allegedly paid Ms. Abedin $33,000 for 'unused' leave, though it is unclear whether she should have been entitled to such a payment," Grassley wrote to Kerry.
Abedin improperly received taxpayer funds because she received payment while she was away from her job, despite not requesting leave, according to the Post. She never took any vacation or sick time off work during her more than four years on the job, despite having taken at least one 10-day trip to Italy, according to Grassley's letter.
Abedin reportedly formally contested the allegation and has asked for an administrative review of the State Department investigation's conclusion.
More from the Washington Examiner
Some observers say Jeb Bush seemed unprepared when Hillary Clinton attacked him as both spoke to the National Urban League meeting in Ft. Lauderdale Friday. Members of the Bush circle say Bush wasn't surprised at all. Whatever the case, Bush, who spoke after Clinton, had to make a quick decision: Should he ignore Clinton's attack and give the speech he planned to give, or should he include a response, if only a brief one, to show that he will not let Clinton's accusations go unanswered?
There's no doubt Clinton slammed Bush directly and repeatedly, focusing on the concept of opportunity and a "right to rise" on which Bush has based his campaign.
'08/01/15 7:31 PM
Grassley's letter asks that Kerry respond to his inquiry about payment made to Abedin by Aug. 10.
Kerry will skip a visit with Israel, the main U.S. ally in the Middle East and an opponent of the deal.
'08/01/15 2:41 PM
Fiorina Botoxed Frozen Forhead
Facebook Expands in Politics, and Campaigns Find Much to Like
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:20
PhotoThe Facebook offices in Washington, D.C. The social networking giant has introduced several tools to help campaigns reach voters. For example, it allows candidates to hold question-and-answer sessions on the site, as Hillary Rodham Clinton did this month.Credit Zach Gibson/The New York TimesWASHINGTON '-- When Gov. Scott Walker kicked off his presidential bid this month, supporters who visited his website could view photographs of him, peruse his announcement speech and read about the Wisconsin Republican's life and accomplishments.
Using a bit of code embedded on its website, the Walker team was able to track who visited the donation page, tell which potential backers shared interests with existing supporters and determine who was learning about the candidate for the first time. It could then use that information to target prospective voters with highly personalized appeals.
Those supporters who had already given money, for instance, were served an ad seeking another donation. But new supporters received a more modest request: to provide their email address or to click on a link to the campaign's online store.
While it is no surprise that campaigns are devoting a greater share of their budget and energy on digital initiatives, Facebook, already a major player in past cycles, has been working to expand its digital dominance in the political realm.
PhotoFacebook has doubled the size of its government and politics team since the last presidential vote, and the company says it is on track to increase its revenue from previous election cycles.Credit Zach Gibson/The New York TimesFacebook '-- which has 189 million monthly users in the United States '-- has pitched its tools and services to every presidential campaign in the 2016 race, not to mention down-ballot races, to showcase new features as candidates seek to reach and recruit new supporters and potential donors.
Some estimate that 2016 will usher in roughly $1 billion in online political advertising, and Facebook says it is on track to increase its revenue from previous cycles.
Since 2012, Facebook has doubled its government and politics team, which includes a political ad sales group, a data communications team and employees devoted solely to Democrats or Republicans. Katie Harbath, who was previously the chief digital strategist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, oversees the political strategy side of Facebook's Washington-based team.
And Facebook has rolled out several tools since the last presidential election to help campaigns reach voters more efficiently and effectively. The two most important, campaigns and operatives said, are the site's improved video capacities and the ability for campaigns to upload their voter files directly to Facebook.
Another feature allows candidates to hold question-and-answer sessions on the site, as Hillary Rodham Clinton did this month.
''Facebook is going to be the advertising monster of 2016,'' said Zac Moffatt, a co-founder of Targeted Victory, a Republican technology firm that ran Mitt Romney's 2012 digital effort. ''They have the largest audience, a dominant set of tools for advertising and the most aggressive approach to allowing campaigns to leverage their data to maximize efficiency and minimize waste.''
Continue reading the main storyWho Is Running for President?Campaigns can now include what Facebook describes as a ''call to action'' at the end of their videos '-- in most cases, a link that allows users to donate to the campaign or sign a petition.
Video represents a tremendous growth area generally. When Facebook announced its new video capacities in September 2014, it had one billion video views a day. Now the site has four times as many.
Another innovation allows a campaign to upload its voter file '-- a list of those they hope will turn out to vote or can be persuaded to do so '-- directly to Facebook, where it can target those users. Integrating this deep and rich source of information about voters also allows campaigns to find and reach other Facebook users who resemble, in behavior and interests, those in their existing voter file.
The emphasis on reaching increasingly segmented voters reflects the narrowing of the electorate, in which campaigns are devoting more and more money and effort to finding their supporters and turning them out on Election Day, rather than trying to win over uncommitted voters.
But the practice also raises potential privacy concerns. ''I think most users really have no idea how much information Facebook collects about them or how Facebook is able to infer from even a post to a friend what their political orientation might be,'' said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights group. ''If you're a Facebook user, Facebook knows everything you've said, everything you've posted, everything you've clicked on.''
Facebook is not alone in allowing campaigns to reach voters in more sophisticated ways. Snapchat, the fast-growing video- and photo-sharing mobile app, allows advertisers to target users pegged to a certain event (like a presidential debate), or in a certain geographical area (like users in early nominating states such as Iowa or New Hampshire).
Continue reading the main storyTwitter also allows advertisers or campaigns to reach users in specific ways. They can, for instance, direct their ads to people using a certain keyword or hashtag '-- #StandWithRand, the hashtag used during Senator Rand Paul's recent filibuster, for example '-- or users in a single ZIP code. Or they can upload an email list of voters they are trying to reach.
Facebook also learns the behavior of its users, allowing the site to optimize for voter preferences. Those who are more likely to stop and watch a video will be shown one, while those inclined to click a link and sign a petition or donate money, for example, will receive a link.
''There's a level of precision that doesn't exist in any other medium,'' said Crystal Patterson, a government and politics outreach manager at Facebook, who works with Democrats. ''It's getting the right message to the right people at the right time.''
Which is why, several days before Mr. Walker's official announcement July 13, his digital team convened a conference call with a roomful of Facebook employees to walk through the final touches of the candidate's online kickoff, featuring everything from behind-the-scenes glimpses of him taking the stage to appeals to buy T-shirts.
''We can get away with doing a little bit more because this is our prom night, this is our Super Bowl,'' said Justin LoFranco, the creative and content director for the Walker campaign, on the call.
In the lead-up to his announcement, Mr. Walker's team also rolled out his campaign logo in a nine-day tease on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. In a trick the team picked up from the way the music industry sometimes reveals album covers, the campaign unveiled one square each day until the entire logo revealed itself.
''It's a way to get folks engaged,'' said Matt Oczkowski, the chief digital officer for the campaign. ''We saw a 30 percent lift on Instagram off this promotion, and we didn't have to spend any money.''
Mr. Walker's digital squad was also working furiously behind the scenes '-- to make sure, among other things, that they were directing Facebook users to the campaign website.
''Raising money and list building is the bread and butter of presidential campaigns,'' Mr. Oczkowski said. ''It's not the sexiest or most innovative thing out there in terms of doing new stuff, but it is the basic blocking and tackling.''
Find out what you need to know about the 2016 presidential race today, and get politics news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the First Draft newsletter.
A version of this article appears in print on July 31, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Facebook Expands in Politics With New Digital Tools, and Campaigns Find Much to Like.
Secret Service expert claims Hillary Clinton and Bill have 'business relationship' | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 10:28
Hillary Clinton's marriage is 'fake', an expert on the Secret Service claimedRobert Kessler said Clintons have 'business relationship' for their careers He also claimed Mrs Clinton treats those beneath her with 'contempt'By Daniel Bates In New York For The Daily Mail
Published: 18:38 EST, 30 July 2015 | Updated: 11:26 EST, 31 July 2015
Hillary Clinton's marriage with her husband is a 'total fake' and is just for the benefit of her Presidential campaign, an expert on the Secret Service has claimed.
Robert Kessler said that Mrs and Mrs Clinton have entered into a 'business relationship' to further their careers.
He also claimed that Mrs Clinton, the leading Democratic Presidential candidate, has disdain for ordinary people and treats those beneath her with 'contempt'.
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Hillary Clinton's marriage is a 'total fake' and is just for the benefit of her presidential campaign, an expert on the Secret Service has claimed
Mr Kessler is a US author and investigative journalist who has written extensively on the Secret Service.
Earlier this year in his latest book he claimed that Mr Clinton has a blonde mistress who his security detail nicknamed 'Energizer'.
In an interview Mr Kessler turned his fire on the Clintons' marriage.
He said: 'Agents say that it's a business relationship. It's not a marriage at all. It's a total fake, like everything else about Hillary. It's just a big show and a scam.
'Hillary Clinton pretends to be this champion of the little people - she's gonna help the middle class, she's compassionate.
'But the reality behind the scenes is she treats her agents and others less powerful than she is with contempt.
Watch and decide: Clintons' marriage just for show?
He also claimed that Mrs Clinton, the leading Democratic Presidential candidate, has disdain for ordinary people and treats those beneath her with 'contempt'
'In fact she's so abusive to her agents that behind assigned to her detail is considered a form of punishment. That tells you something about her character.'
Mr Kessler has written 20 books about the Secret Service, the FBI and the CIA and is a regular contributor to the Washington Post.
He broke the story that agents working for President Obama used prostitutes whilst on official business in Colombia.
Exclusive: Paula Jones says Hillary shouldn't be running
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Distraction of the Week
Cecil's brother Jericho believed alive despite reports
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:41
Eric Miller | Reuters
Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental in Bloomington, Minnesota, on July 29, 2015, during a protest against Cecil's killing.
A representative for the Minnesota dentist accused of illegally killing the lion nicknamed Cecil reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service late Thursday afternoon, after the agency said attempts to reach him had failed.
The case has sparked international outrage, and has trended for days on social media.
"Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement was contacted by a representative of Dr. Walter Palmer," according to a statement sent to CNBC on Friday. "The service's investigation is ongoing and appreciates that Dr. Palmer's representative voluntarily reached out to the service."
On Saturday, Zimbabwean officials said in a statement that Cecil's brother Jericho was believed to have been taken out during an illegal hunting operation in Hwange National Park. This has since been denied by researchers tracking Jericho to Reuters and The Guardian.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Zimbabwe's Conservation Task Force Chairman Johnny Rodrigues said "it is with great sadness and regret that we report that Jericho was shot dead at 4pm this afternoon. We are absolutely heartbroken," Rodrigues said, adding that more information will be released soon.
Read MoreCecil the lion: Does killing lions help save them?
However, Brent Stapelkamp,a researcher monitoring the pride via GPS tag, told Reuters: "He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told CNBC on Thursday that Palmer had not responded to attempts to contact him.Attempts by CNBC since Wednesday to contact Palmer for a comment have resulted in no response.
Palmer became the subject of international attention'--and the target of widespread anger'--when it was revealed that he had killed and beheaded an adult male lion near a national park in Zimbabwe.
The animal wore a GPS collar because it was part of an ongoing study sponsored by Oxford University. Zimbabwean authorities have already arrested Palmer's hunting guide and the owner of the land where the lion was shot, after details suggested the hunt was illegal.
--CNBC's Javier E. David and Reuters contributed to this article.
Zimbabwe Reveals Shocking Truth About "Cecil the Lion" Animal Rights Groups Are Desperate to Cover Up
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:31
Both social media and the progressive mainstream media have been in an uproar over the past few days about the death of ''Cecil,'' a 13-year-old lion in Zimbabwe.
Cecil was killed in an organized licensed hunt by a big game hunter, Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer, who has now gone into hiding after receiving numerous death threats from outraged animal rights activists.
However, it would appear that the outrage surrounding the death of Cecil is what is commonly known as a ''First World Problem,'' as residents of Zimbabwe were mostly unaware of, and really don't care about, the death of just another lion.
''What lion?'' was the response of acting Information Minister Prisca Mupfumira, after being asked about the death of Cecil.
Though the government had yet to give an official response to the lion hunt, local authorities opened an investigation into whether the professional guides who led the hunt abided by the rules and regulations in place for such things.
According to Yahoo News, that hasn't stopped angry animal rights and anti-hunting activists from ruining the life of Dr. Palmer, with some calling for his arrest, extradition and even death for hunting the lion with a bow and arrow and finishing it off with a gun.
But most people in Zimbabwe don't care about the dead lion, as they have much greater problems to deal with, such as an 80 percent unemployment rate, insane monetary inflation and a hugely corrupt government.
''Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,'' said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare. ''What is so special about this one?''
The truth is, most locals in Zimbabwe actually look forward to the big game hunts that Westerners engage in, as the high price tag for the hunts means money pumped into the local economy, not to mention the meat from such hunts is required by law to be given to local tribes and villages.
''Why are the Americans more concerned than us?'' said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father of two. ''We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.''
Lions and other large animals are typically viewed as dangerous by the local population, and if these animals are not hunted, their populations will explode and bring about all sorts of other issues, like rampant disease and increased attacks on people.
If only as much outrage over a dead and dismembered lion were directed at those who kill and dismember hundreds of thousands of babies per year, our society might have a moral leg to stand on.
Please share this on Facebook and Twitter to show that if the people of Zimbabwe don't care about the death of Cecil the lion, there is no reason any of us should care either.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Donald Trump defends his big-game hunting sons after death of Cecil the lion | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:59
Donald Jr and Eric Trump were photographed with a leopard and other big game kills in the past and this week Mia Farrow tweeted in disgustTrump is in Scotland for women's gold competition at his Turnberry course and was questioned about his son's hunting He said his sons 'love to hunt' and are proud members of the NRA - and said: 'I am a big believer in the Second Amendment.' By Alexander Lerche In Turnberry, Scotland For Dailymail.com
Published: 10:40 EST, 30 July 2015 | Updated: 14:07 EST, 30 July 2015
Donald Trump today leapt to the defense of his sons for hunting endangered wildlife in Africa.
The Republican frontrunner was questioned about his sons Eric and Donald Jr after Mia Farrow tweeted a picture of them
The property magnate made his remarks while giving a press conference at his Trump Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, during the Women's British Open.
Trump spoke for a full 30 minutes, giving an insight into his future diplomacy skills.
But when questioned about photographs of his sons with a dead leopard in relation to the killing of Cecil the lion, Trump simply said his 'sons love to hunt'.
Trophy: Donald Jr (left) and Eric Trump (right) posing with a leopard they shot on a hunting trip to Africa in pictures which emerged three years ago. Today their father defended them.
Kill: Donald Jr poses with the tail of an elephant which he appears to have just cut off. The pictures surfaced in 2012
Happy hunter: Don, seen here with a 40' Cape Buffalo Bull, is said to have 'the precision of a true marksman'
Costly sport: The kill fee for this Waterbuck was $1,997.00
Arrival: Trump with Eric and his daughter Ivanka as they arrive by helicopter at Turnberry today
He said: 'My sons love to hunt. They are members of the NRA, very proudly. I am a big believer in the Second Amendment.
'But my sons are hunters, Eric is a hunter and I would say he puts it on a par with golf, if not ahead of golf.
'My other son, Don, is a hunter. They're great marksman, great shots, they love it.
'I em, like golf. I don't do that.'
But he could not be drawn into comment on the specific issue of shooting endangered animals.
The pictures of his sons surfaced three years ago and showed them taking part in a hunting trip to Zimbwawe - the same type of trip which resulted in the death this month of Cecil the lion.
In one of the photos, 34-year-old Donald Jr holds the sawed off tail of an elephant and another the knife that likely cut it.
Another photo shows the brothers standing beside a 12'8' crocodile hanging from a noose off a tree.
The pictures were posted on the website for the company that ran the hunting trip to the Matetsi area of Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls.
At the time Donald Jr denied that he leaked the photos over Twitter: 'Not a PR move I didn't give the pics but I have no shame about them either. I HUNT & EAT game'.
'I AM A HUNTER I don't hide from that,' he said to another critic on Twitter.
The company, called Hunting Legends, detailed the brothers' trip and said that it was not the first for them.
Though the pricing for the trip is not publicly available, the 2012 'trophy fees' for each of the animals they shot, included at least $2,795.00 for the kudu and another $1,997.00 for the waterbuck they were pictured with.
'The Trump's [sic] soon showed their metal and it was evident from the word go that these two amazing young men are everything but the 'city slickers' you would expect!' the Hunting Legends site reads.
'They meant business from the outset of the hunt.'
The tour guide went on to say that they had 'the precision of a true marksman'.
In 2012 Trump had said he was 'surprised' at his sons' interest in hunting.
'They're hunters and they've become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I'm surprised they like it,' he told TMZ.
In Turnberry today Trump also spoke about America's 'special relationship' with the United Kingdom.
Trump proudly claimed he had done 'a great service to Scotland' for building his multi-million pound golf resort in Aberdeen.
And he even stated he would 'get along very well' with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He said: 'I think we would be very close with Britain, we had such a great relationship with this part of the world, and I think many other parts of the world.
Shamed: Mia Farrow last night tweeted her disgust at Trump's sons' hunting in the wake of Cecil the lion's death
Boast: Eric posed with another of his kills and his rifle in Zimbabwe. His brother robustly defending their hunting
Big kill: The pair pose with the 12'8' crocodile that they killed on the trip, which was not their first
New look: Donald Trump has a new red version of his Make America Great Again hat. The white one has sold out at his Trump Towers store
Here for the golf: Donald Trump is in Scotland for the Women's British Open at his Turnberry course
'I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I think I'd get along well with him.
'Obama and him, he hates Obama. Obama hates him. We have unbelievably bad relationships
'Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. She was the worst Secretary of State in the history of our country.
'I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir. I don't know him, but I was there, I have major business there.
'I have a very good relationship with people in Russia. I have a great relationship with the people of Russia.
'I think I would probably get along very well with them. I'd get along very well with the people from China.
'The problem we have is the people running China, Mexico, Japan, all of the leaders running those countries are much smarter, sharper, more cunning than our leaders.
'They're taking advantage of us because our people don't have a clue, our leaders don't have a clue.'
He referenced his own non-politically correct attitude and even admitted he was not a diplomat before claiming 'the world takes advantage of the United States'.
Trump said: 'I'm not known as a politically correct person, for good reason' and that he 'did not think' a US president needed to be diplomatic while in office.
Donald Trump: Number one with Hispanics and expecting to win
Dr Palmer (left), an avid big game hunter who has killed dozens of animals, has admitted to being the one who shot and killed Cecil the Lion (not pictured) in Zimbabwe
Walter Palmer (pictured left with a bear and right with a leopard) is a specialist bow and arrow hunter who has admitted killing Cecil the lion
He added: 'I think there's been too much diplomacy. I think we're so politically correct in our country that people are sick and tired of it.
'I certainly don't want to be diplomatic. I mean we're diplomatic in our country and everybody hates us all over the world.
'The world hates the United States. The world takes advantage of the United States on trade and just about everything.
'We don't get along with China. China should love us. They don't like us and they're taking our money.
'I'm speaking for most people. I would say President Obama is incompetent and he's done a terrible job as president.'
In Turnberry Trump received a positive reception from locals.
Golf caddy Michael Hopkins, 53, has worked at the Turnberry club for 35 years and praised Trump for turning the resort around.
He said: 'I think he's been good for Turnberry. He's put a lot of work into it and spent $200 million on doing the place up which is great because it's been needing it for years.
'I can't really comment on his political ambitions as it's an American thing, but we have a close relationship with the US.
Posing with their prey: Eric sits atop one of their kills. In his responses to critics on Twitter, Donald Jr said that the animals were used as meat for hungry villagers who do not eat the animals
The group: The brothers, seen bottom center and right, went on the trip run by a company called Hunting Legends
'Local people here really like him, he's spent a lot of money on this place and looks after his caddies.
'About 90 per cent of people who come here are from the US, about 10 per cent or so are from Europe, and most of what you hear is very positive.
'What we've seen getting done so far, nobody could not like. We're all quite happy with what he's done with the place.'
Golf enthusiast, Mike Wallace, 42, a lorry driver from Glasgow, had come down to Turnberry to catch some of the action and said: .
Mike said he 'admired' Trumps renovation of the club, but said he was convinced his presidential candidacy was a 'PR stunt'.
He said: 'You have to admire the work and effort he's invested in Turnberry. It's a completely different place to golf since he started dealing with it.
'Everything is clean and well turned out, and it gives a great image of Scotland for all the visitors.
'It's hilarious he's running to be US president. But really, I think it's a PR stunt and he'll go straight back to business if he doesn't win.
Praised: Locals spoke positively of Trump as he inspected his Turnberry coast. The golf resort looks out onto the Firth of Clyde and on a good day, Northern Ireland is visible
Arrival: Trump flew to Scotland on his private jet then took a Trump helicopter from Prestwick Airport to Turnberry
'It's tough to see how your average American, or Scot even, could relate to someone that wealthy who wants to run their country.
'He gives a lot chat about things and I can't imagine he's overly informed on many of them, a lot of what I've read about him saying seems like his own personal views.
'He's definitely done something right in Turnberry. You can't fault him for that.'
Julie Kennedy, 29, a barmaid and amateur golfer from Ayr, had gone to Turnberry to watch the Women's British Open.
She said she would not like it if Trump were to become the next US president because he seemed 'too self-obsessed'.
Julie said: 'He's obviously well-liked in the area because of how much he's done for the club and the jobs he's made by doing it all up.
'I only found out yesterday he's wanting to be president. It's got to be a joke, he's far too self-obsessed to run a country.
'I've seen him on the telly and he's an idiot with the way he deals with people. He'd end up starting more wars and we'd get pulled into them.
'It bothers me that people buy into his persona just because he's so rich and gets so much attention, he's a businessman, not a politician.'
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Blocked From Trade Pact By Its Failure on Slavery, Malaysia Suddenly Gets a Passing Grade
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 11:13
The State Department on Monday took Malaysia off a list of countries with particularly egregious human trafficking records, clearing the path for the country's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, one of the top political priorities for the Obama administration.
The move to officially upgrade Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the department's annual report on human trafficking came despite scant evidence that the country has improved oversight of the businesses that enslave workers within its borders. It has raised concerns among some anti-trade activists that the decision was made for purely political reasons.
The trade promotion authority that Congress approved, which was signed into law by President Obama in June, came with a condition: No country on Tier 3 of the human trafficking report could get ''fast-track'' status for trade agreements signed with the United States.
In other words, trade deals with a Tier 3 country could not go to Congress for a guaranteed up-or-down vote without the possibility of filibuster or amendment. Malaysia is one of 12 countries negotiating TPP. The White House tried on multiple occasions to neutralize this language without success. So the State Department's upgrade for Malaysia could be seen as a Plan B.
The shift has been rumored for weeks. Malaysia controls a key oil shipping lane to China, and the U.S. sees it as a key strategic partner in efforts to neutralize China's growing influence in Asia.
The Communications Workers of America, which opposes TPP, condemned the Obama Administration for ''placing the completion of the TPP ahead of human trafficking concerns.'' Furthermore, CWA legislative director Shane Larson said the change ''tramples on our country's basic values. '... We simply should not be rewarding bad actor countries like Malaysia with inclusion in trade deals.''
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who wrote the anti-trafficking provision into the trade promotion authority, pronounced himself ''profoundly disappointed'' with the change on Malaysia in a statement. He suggested that the report was ''subject to political manipulation,'' and vowed hearings, investigations and potentially legislation on the issue.
Despite the White House's contention that trade deals like TPP are ''the most progressive in history,'' it appears to be overlooking significant forced labor violations to get it passed.
In 2014, the State Department demoted Malaysia to Tier 3 status for being a destination ''for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking.'' Malaysia's 4 million foreign workers are threatened by large smuggling debts and confiscated passports that put them at the mercy of recruiting companies. Women in particular, recruited for hotel or beauty salon work, are routinely coerced into the commercial sex trade. And forced labor runs rampant in agricultural, construction and textile industries, producing the same goods that would get duty-free access to U.S. markets under TPP.
There is little evidence that anything has changed for Malaysia's foreign workers. Just a couple months ago authorities discovered a mass grave of 139 Rohingya Muslims, who fled discrimination in Burma and were sold into slavery upon their escape. Trafficking enforcement remains weak; in April, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun criticized the country for doing too little to stop slavery. The Wall Street Journal found persistent forced labor abuses on Malaysian palm oil plantations in an article published Sunday.
The State Department's 2015 report reads almost exactly like last year's with a few words changed, the way middle school students avoid plagiarism for book reports. But they allege that, while ''the Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking '... it is making significant efforts to do so.''
The total evidence for this includes amendments to an existing anti-trafficking law that were not passed into law by the time the report was written; a pilot program to aid trafficking victims housed in government facilities; and increased investigations and prosecutions of trafficking operations, even though convictions in 2014 fell by more than half compared to the previous year, from nine to four.
Caption: An abandoned people-smuggling camp in Malaysia.
Why Russia Shut Down NED Fronts
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:41
Exclusive: The neocon-flagship Washington Post fired a propaganda broadside at President Putin for shutting down the Russian activities of the National Endowment for Democracy, but left out key facts like NED's U.S. government funding, its quasi-CIA role, and its plans for regime change in Moscow, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The Washington Post's descent into the depths of neoconservative propaganda '' willfully misleading its readers on matters of grave importance '' apparently knows no bounds as was demonstrated with two deceptive articles regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and why his government is cracking down on ''foreign agents.''
If you read the Post's editorial on Wednesday and a companion op-ed by National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delusional, paranoid and ''power mad'' in his concern that outside money funneled into non-governmental organizations represents a threat to Russian sovereignty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 8, 2014, as part of the observance of the World War II Victory over Germany.
The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians have enacted laws requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as ''foreign agents'' '' and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman's NED.
The Post's editors wrote that Putin's ''latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an 'undesirable' organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a 'threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.'
''The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED's grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin's ramparts. '...
''The new law on 'undesirables' comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations 'foreign agents' if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.''
But there are several salient facts that the Post's editors surely know but don't want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance U.S. policy interests and, if needed, help in ''regime change.''
The secret hand behind NED's creation was CIA Director William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert operation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to establish NED in 1983. Casey '' from the CIA '' and Raymond '' from his assignment inside President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council '' focused on creating a funding mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. To partially replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. ''Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,'' Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III '' as Casey urged creation of a ''National Endowment.''
NED Is Born
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money '-- within NED '-- for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured. But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA's congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill. The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented, not fully recognizing the significance of the demand.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration's choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy. Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED's first (and, to this day, only) president.
Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that ''Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.''
Currently, Gershman's NED dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds to various NGOs, media outlets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the middle of political destabilization campaigns against governments that have gotten on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. For instance, prior to the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russian regime in Kiev, NED was funding scores of projects.
A second point left out of the Post's editorial was the fact that Gershman took a personal hand in the Ukraine crisis and recognized it as an interim step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that called Ukraine ''the biggest prize'' and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Putin.
''Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,'' Gershman wrote. ''Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.'' In other words, NED is a U.S. government-financed entity that has set its sights on ousting Russia's current government.
A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russian law requiring outside-funded political organizations to register as ''foreign agents'' was modeled on a U.S. law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. In other words, the U.S. government also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.
If the Post's editors had included any or all of these three relevant factors, you would have come away with a more balanced understanding of why Russia is acting as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full story. By concealing all three points, the Post's editors were tricking you and other readers into accepting a propagandistic viewpoint '' that the Russian actions were crazy and that Putin was, according to the Post's headline, ''power mad.''
But you might think that Gershman would at least acknowledge some of these points in his Post op-ed, surely admitting that NED is financed by the U.S. government. But Gershman didn't. He simply portrayed Russia's actions as despicable and desperate.
''Russia's newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy on Tuesday was declared an ''undesirable organization'' prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,'' Gershman wrote, adding:
''This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the 'foreign agents' law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.''
The reference to how a ''foreign agents'' registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn't good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the op-ed.
So would an acknowledgement of where NED's money comes from. How many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?
Not surprisingly, Gershman couldn't find the space to include any balance in his op-ed '' and the Post's editors didn't insist on any.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (fromAmazonandbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer,click here.
DOD awards massive health records contract
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:27
DOD awards massive health records contractBy Zach NobleJul 29, 2015The team of Leidos, Accenture and Cerner is getting the Defense Department's massive electronic health records contract '' and the military appears to be getting a bargain.
The Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization, or DHMSM, contract was initially estimated to have an $11 billion lifecycle cost through 2030, but the actual award announced July 29 is for a fraction of that amount: $4,336,822,777 over 10 years if the options are exercised.
"We feel confident that we made a good source selection," said Chris Miller, Defense Healthcare Management Systems program executive officer, on a call with reporters. "Competition has worked, costs have come in below our estimates. We're very happy with the results we've got."
Big competitionEpic Systems, the electronic health records (EHR) industry leader, had partnered with IBM to bid on the contract, and was widely considered to be the favorite for the win.
EHR vendor Allscripts had teamed up with Computer Sciences Corp. and Hewlett-Packard for its bid, and PricewaterhouseCoopers briefly led another team bid. According to the DOD award announcement, there were six bids in all.
But it was Epic's rival Cerner -- which had long touted its edge in providing EHR interoperability -- that pulled off a coup. The fact that the behemoth Epic wouldn't win was hinted at earlier in the day (and reported early by NextGov), before the official 5 p.m. announcement.
"Market share really wasn't a consideration," said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. "We wanted someone who had proven they could do what we needed to get done."
Kendall added that the Defense Department is prepared to weather a bid protest, though he isn't certain one will come.
"There is a clear best value, and I think that will be clear to the people who weren't selected," he said.
A massive undertakingIn tackling the contract, the Cerner team will have its work cut out for it.
DHMSM aims for a single, commercial product that includes full interoperability with the Veterans Affairs' VistA health records system as well as private-sector systems, while serving some 9.6 million service members, retirees and dependents.
The system will need to be deployable from the front lines of combat all the way home, accessed by more than 150,000 professional providers at 55 hospitals and more than 600 clinics, said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.
Several years of upgrades are included in contract.
The system will need to run along some 50 legacy systems, gradually replacing some and working with others, Miller noted, as the consolidation of military health services continues.
What's nextChange management will be critical, Miller noted, saying more than 25 percent of the contract will go to support and training to ensure clinicians know how to use it.
"Today is just the beginning," he noted. "The hard part is about to start."
DHMSM is scheduled to be tested at eight sites in the Pacific Northwest starting at the end of 2016, with a full rollout by 2022.
That schedule could still change, however. "We want this to be an event-driven program, not a schedule-driven program," Kendall said. "We're not going to take risks to stick to a schedule."
Conversely, he added, "we'd like to go more quickly" if possible.
Kendall also spoke to what he called a "big misconception" about interoperability between the military and the VA.
"We are interoperable with the VA today," he said.
Kendall said the new system would merely provide an opportunity to "enhance" the existing interoperability.
Miller, meanwhile, rebuffed concerns about "vendor lock," noting that the Defense Department will own all of the data rights under the contract.
"We own 100 percent of our data," he noted. "People cannot charge us to share our data."
He added that it remains to be hashed out whether the data centers running the new military health records system will be Defense Department-owned or owned by the vendor.
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
Army issues guidance for commercial cloud migration
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 01:51
Army issues guidance for commercial cloud migrationBy Sean LyngaasJul 30, 2015The office of the Army chief information officer on July 30 published guidance for migrating Army systems and applications to commercial cloud providers. The guidance signed by Army CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell stipulated that commands bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that systems and applications within their portfolios are rationalized.
The document is the latest step in fulfilling a directive to migrate all enterprise-level systems and applications to Defense Department-approved hosting environments by the end of fiscal 2018. IT migration was one of the key tenets of an Army cloud strategy unveiled in March.
''Transitioning to cloud-based solutions and services advances the Army's long-term objective of reducing ownership, operation and sustainment of hardware and other commoditized information technology,'' the new guidance stated. That transition is part of the Joint Information Environment initiative, a DOD-wide move to standardize and consolidate IT networks for better security.
A ''plan of action and milestones'' is required for systems and applications that Army IT operators decide to ditch but won't be able to by the end of fiscal 2018, the directive said. New applications and systems, and those that won't be killed off, need to undergo an IT cost-benefit analysis.
The guidance forbids certain sensitive applications and systems from being moved to ''off-premise'' commercial cloud providers, including weapons systems, mission command-and-control systems, and those designated as critical intelligence systems.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas
How 'fog computing' makes the IoT run
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:02
How It Works
How 'fog computing' makes the IoT runBy Zach NobleJul 31, 2015''Fog computing'' describes a way of loading processing power onto devices, from smartphones to simple sensors, at the furthest edges of networks.
On the surface, the core concept seems to be a reversal of the trend toward the cloud because it seeks to restore computing to the periphery of the network. But instead of being a replacement, it's a developing complement.
Rather than shuttling every scrap of data back to a data center, fog computing allows analysis to take place on the network's edge, saving time and bandwidth and, ideally, optimizing decision-making.
''The usefulness of computing at the edge is manyfold, but, for example,'...imagine a network of sensors managing anti-collision capability in a congested airport taxiway system,'' said Mike Younkers, director of U.S. federal systems engineering at Cisco Systems. ''Having decision power within the taxiway instead of at some data center off-site, based on the physics of propagation delay alone, illustrates another tangible use case.''
Fog computing is often kicked around in high-level discussions of far-flung Internet of Things or Internet of Everything networks, but there's a more immediate example of the concept. As the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims has noted, smartphone apps showcase the principle underpinning fog computing: The individual device handles some of the data and processing, thereby relieving network stress.
And Gary Hall, chief technology officer for federal defense at Cisco, said the interplay between fog and cloud is much like an earlier computational disruption.
''Cloud computing has many similarities to mainframe computing, where data is aggregated in centralized locations and accessed from remote devices,'' Hall said. ''Fog computing brings in concepts from distributed computing.''
And they don't have to conflict.
''When distributed computing via PCs gained prominence, it was highly disruptive to the mainframe computing model,'' Hall added. ''The big difference this time around is that cloud and fog are deeply integrated and complementary.''
As the Internet of Things balloons to 50 billion devices by 2020 and data streams threaten to grow faster than the networks that support them, fog computing seems poised to prove a crucial consideration '-- and not just when it comes to big data.
''Everyone is fixated on 'big data,' which by my definition requires data to be centralized, either physically or virtually, [but big data] analytics does not solve all classes of problems,'' Younkers said. ''Fog computing provides analytics at the edge, which allows for some very clever and innovative solutions.''
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
Provocative new study finds bullies have highest self esteem, social status, lowest rates of depression
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:19
A just-published Canadian study has added heft to a provocative new theory about bullying: that the behaviour is literally in the genes, an inherited trait that actually helps build social rank and sex appeal.
If accepted, the hypothesis rooted in evolutionary psychology could transform how schools confront the persistent and often-shattering problem.
Conventional wisdom has long suggested that bullies are ''maladapted,'' troubled people, lashing out because they had been abused or harassed themselves or at least had dysfunctional home lives.
But researchers at Simon Fraser University surveyed a group of Vancouver high school students and found bullies were the least likely to be depressed, had the highest self-esteem and the greatest social status.
''Humans tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy,'' says Jennifer Wong, the criminology professor who led the study. ''When you're in high school, it's a very limited arena in which you can establish your rank, and climbing the social ladder to be on top is one of the main ways '... Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.''
Most anti-bullying programs try to change the behaviour of bullies '-- and they usually don't work, says Wong, who reviewed the literature on program outcomes for her PhD thesis. That's probably because the behaviour is biologically hard-wired, not learned, she says.
Wong recommends that, instead of trying to change how bullies think, schools expand the range of competitive, supervised activities they can participate in '-- giving them a less harmful channel for their dominating tendencies.
Indeed, fascinating research involving another Canadian expert offers some support for that idea. A pilot project at an Arizona school sought to steer students identified as bullies into high-status ''jobs'' '-- like being the school's front-door greeters '-- to focus their aggression on something less harmful.
Bullying fell ''dramatically'' in its wake, says Tony Volk, a Brock University psychologist who helped pioneer the genetic theory of bullying and took part in an upcoming study of the Arizona project.
Meanwhile, separate research Volk is working on offers more evidence bolstering the concept: the bullies among 178 teenagers surveyed by the professor and his colleagues got more sex than everyone else.
''The average bully isn't particularly sadistic or even deeply argumentative,'' he says. ''What they really are is people driven for status.''
The hypothesis may be a hard sell in the anti-bullying world, however, where the notion that many people bully because it is in their nature '-- and can't be easily changed '-- is troublesome.
Rob Frenette, co-founder of the advocacy and support group Bullying Canada, says he has yet to encounter a bully who did not have some underlying issue '-- such as violence at home '-- that was a likely environmental trigger for the bullying.
''This is kind of stepping backward and that's concerning,'' he said of Wong's study. ''I don't want parents who have a child who is considered a bully to think, 'Well, it's something they're born with and there's nothing we can do to adjust their behavior.' ''
Frenette, who has cerbral palsy, knows bullies, literally. For more than 11 years, he was a frequent victim, receiving death threats, being pushed down stairs and once having the back of his neck burned by girls on a school bus.
Some of the best reader comments on a new study about bullyingSociety tends to be focusing a lot on youth bullying, but you see the same things among adults. This is a societal issue, not just youth. Kid bullies turn into teen bullies and evolve to adult bullies. Adult bullies tend to rise to management, receive status and recognition in the workplace and community for ability to ''tackle tough issues and people'', and are often celebrated as strong and capable leaders. Hard wired or not, people, of all ages and stages, in our society are rewarded for bully-type behaviour all the time. '-- Tash Taylor.
You know, I've been hearing this my whole life, that all boys in all schools fight. It was certainly what we were all told from a young age. But truth be told, it never happened in my high school. Nobody got beat up. I can remember maybe one physical fight in five year I was there (which was basically two kids who shoved each other). I was pretty low status socially and I did get bullied '' but nobody ever, even once laid a hand on me. The idea of getting shoved into lockers, getting beat up '' it was basically something I knew from TV but it never happened in my personal experience. Not questioning your personal experience at all. Just wondering if this is really the inevitability people claim. For disclosure, I went to a private Jewish school, not sex segregated. Make of that what you will. '-- avatar16
I think the idea of increasing competition in schools is a sound one. It would be interesting to know if there is any correlation (anecdotally, my impression is that there is) between the removal of competitiveness from schools over the last few decades and the apparent increase in bullying. Of course, I suspect there are too many educators that would be too horrified by the notion of increased competition among students for this to actually happen. On the other hand, the increase in bullying, like autism, may also be due to the vast broadening of the definition of the word. What I do know is Frenette's cookie cutter definitions and approaches don't work on bullies but do validate victims very effectively and that Wong's findings make a great deal of sense to me. '-- SeaChange9898
I have written two books on workplace mobbing (which is what is really going on in most cases of bullying). I like this article because the usual boilerplate on bullying is so useless, both with kids and adults. Bullying is about power and emotion and is incentivized unless those with the greatest power send a clear message that it is intolerable. This study looks like a good start to the extent that it explores alternate approaches to the usual ''bad bully/innocent victim'' meme. I would also add that with adults ''bully'' has become a stigmatizing word often applied by actual mob groups to their target. In other words, the term has become useless. '-- rgschwindt
These comments represent the standard of debate we aspire to on nationalpost.com
At Bullying Canada, he sees the staggering scope of the problem. The group's 24/7 support line fielded a 312,000 calls and 86,000 emails last year from bullying victims and their parents.
But the type of bullies Frenette cites, and that often are the public face of the problem, form a separate category, well-defined by psychologists, called bully-victims, says Volk, the St. Catharines, Ont., professor. They are the ones who are troubled themselves and strike out in visible, blatant ways that quickly come to the attention of authorities, he said.
Evidence indicates it is the ''pure'' bullies, however, who account for 80-90% of bullying, yet are more socially adept, more popular and fly more under the radar, says Volk.
They are the focus of the evolutionary psychology theory, which says bullying is an adaptive behavior, a genetic edge to gain better sexual opportunities, physical protection and mental health. Or, as the title of Wong's paper puts it, ''survival of the fittest and the sexiest.''
Wong and student Jun-Bin Koh surveyed 135 teenagers from a Vancouver high school. A standard questionnaire '' asking things like how often they were ''hit, kicked or shoved'' '' divided the students into the categories of bully, bystander, victim or victim-bully.
Some of the differences were not statistically significant, but bullies '-- about 11% of the group '-- came out on top on three main outcomes: they scored highest on self-esteem and social status and lowest on depression, says Wong's paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
She admits the research is less than definitive, but is now hoping to repeat it with a much larger sample size and more statistical power.
Still, Wong recommends a rethinking of how schools tackle bullying, saying that merely punishing the perpetrators not only fails to work, but in some cases enhances their status.
She concedes, however, that some educators are likely to ''vehemently'' oppose her suggestion of channeling bullies into ''prosocial'' behavior by adding more competition into schools.
Frenette certainly rejects the argument that existing programs are not working. They may not be perfect but they do help, and reports of bullying are decreasing across the country, he said.
On the other hand, at a time when society was less attuned to the bullying problem, those girls who burned his neck faced no repercussions '-- and seem to have changed little since, he says. One was recently charged by police with a slew of criminal offences.
Volk does not believe bullies are exactly ''hard-wired,'' more that they have a genetic predisposition, which could be countered by changes in their environment. Changes like giving them ways to more positively channel their aggressive bent.
''These kids aren't stupid, they know what they're doing, they're doing it for a reason,'' he says. ''We're not saying give up on punishment necessarily, but what about the carrot?''
How do you think society should deal with bullies: the carrot or the stick? Have your say below. As part of an experiment to improve our website, we'll select and highlight exemplary comments later today.
Light Aircraft crash at Blackbushe. - Page 2 - PPRuNe Forums
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:35
31st Jul 2015, 19:00 #21 (permalink) Join Date: Jun 2009
There is an eye-witness account on the Flyer Forum.
31st Jul 2015, 19:32 #22 (permalink)The Analog Kid
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park
It was very strongly thermic today (and yesterday) in the southern UK. I was flying (paragliding) most of the afternoon and the cores were 1000ft/min and tiny. Doesn't make for very stable approaches.
31st Jul 2015, 20:09 #23 (permalink) Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reading, UK
Interesting vertical profile during the latter part of the circuit:
31st Jul 2015, 20:33 #24 (permalink) Join Date: Nov 1999
Hi Dve R. Interesting graphic. Where does it come from please?The vertical profile doesn't look odd to me. Looks like a regular rate of descent unless I've missed something. What is your interpretation?
It would appear from that graphic that it was a tight circuit though. I know the Phenom is a small aircraft but it's wings level on final quite late according to that graphic.
31st Jul 2015, 21:16 #25 (permalink) Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reading, UK
The vertical profile doesn't look odd to me. Looks like a regular rate of descent unless I've missed something. What is your interpretation?It's not that easy to see on the graphic - I probably should have exaggerated the vertical scale to make it more obvious.The Phenom is approximately 1250' AMSL when it's roughly abeam the motorway junction (top LH of picture), but by the time it's over the scrubland just S of the A30, it has climbed to 1750' (EGLK elevation: 325'). Fifteen seconds later, it's descending at 3000 fpm as it intercepts the runway heading.
The data is from an in-house ADS-B monitoring project that my company runs, mainly focussing on LHR arrivals and departures, but by default we capture data from other flights in the vicinity.
And yes, before anyone asks, the AAIB have been made aware of the existence of the data.
31st Jul 2015, 21:35 #26 (permalink) Join Date: Nov 1999
Thanks Dave. Interesting data. Cheers.
31st Jul 2015, 22:03 #27 (permalink) Join Date: Apr 2009
Dave, interesting stuff. Are you in a position to comment on groundspeed?
31st Jul 2015, 22:04 #28 (permalink) Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: North of Antartica
The graphical plot is very interesting. Looks like a very tight circuit (although the plot does not give speed data). Out of interest what was the QNH/QFE. That climb at the base leg could be trying to bleed back the speed or might be a correction for altimeter mis-setting. I watched a student pilot do same thing under pressure once.
Last edited by Heli-phile; 1st Aug 2015 at 05:13.
31st Jul 2015, 22:36 #29 (permalink) Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Axminster Devon
Dave Reid. I am sorry that you can change the vertical scale '' with my little ruler I had satisfied myself that the aircraft had pretty well settled at the SOP circuit height of 1200 ft QFE (1525 ft QNH) on the deadside. Now I do not know ! To say the least, this was an untidy circuit.
Heli-phile. I would not have thought the circuit was too tight. Dave may give us the real detail, but we might judge that the aircraft was perhaps twice as fast on the deadside of the airfield as on its final approach. In other words the pilot seems to have given himself a reasonably gentle finals turn. Knowing that the railway on his right is the airspace boundary between Blackbushe and Farnborough, the pilot is nicely positioned downwind so he can see it.
1st Aug 2015, 02:18 #30 (permalink) Join Date: Jun 2012
Now the DM have picked up on the AvGen data and now using it to push their story.Let's be cautious of these lazy journos picking at any opinion we might have.
1st Aug 2015, 05:49 #32 (permalink) Join Date: Jul 2010
The landing distance available on RWY 25 is only 1059m, even for a Phenom 300 with typical reserves four people and typical Middle East luggage volumes, that is pretty short. What is the Runway End Safety Area for that end? If that runway is wet, ungrooved, even the Mustangs that live there shouldn't really be landing on a strip that size. You've had a Premier 1 come off the end before and an overweight King Air 200 crashed a decade ago or so there.The Phenom 300 landing performance is notably better than the smaller 100 but with little over 1000m LDA, there's very little breathing space for error?
Seems strange that such a wealthy entity as a multi-billion turnover construction group would choose Blackbushe over Farnborough to save a few hundred pounds on fees unless their choice was more to do with privacy and anonymity with a distinct family name to deal with. Why else choose a very marginal runway length?
1st Aug 2015, 07:08 #33 (permalink) Join Date: Apr 2009
Oh come on, it's not quite in 1.43 territory but it can't really be described as "very marginal" for a private op.This aircraft didn't just trundle off the end of a 1059m LDA runway when the unfactored LDR at max landing weight is in the 800m territory; it was obviously going at a fair rate of knots.
1st Aug 2015, 07:22 #34 (permalink) Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Scotland & Abu Dhabi
Says a lot about TAG that someone would choose to land next door rather than use the far superior facilities at Farnborough....
1st Aug 2015, 07:24 #35 (permalink) Join Date: Aug 1999
Do we know if the pilot was a professional or a family member?
1st Aug 2015, 07:50 #36 (permalink) Join Date: May 2003
Is the Phenom 300 not a multi pilot type ? News outlets reporting only 1 pilot.
1st Aug 2015, 07:59 #37 (permalink) Join Date: Nov 2005
You assuming it landed on the numbers and not floated half down the runway before touching down .. LDA is exactly that, what's available! What you actually have available when wheels touch down is very different..
1st Aug 2015, 08:01 #38 (permalink) Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Agion Oros
I agree with fairflyer, very little margin here, RWY 25, THR 324 ft, LDA 1059m, and the quoted landing distance for this aircraft is 799m at MLW, Sea Level, ISA.It would interesting what biz jet pilots are factoring into their landing distances especially taking into account single crew, VFR approach. As previously stated 1059m gives very little time to decide to go around or stop, worst still without P2 to make the call.
Again, it's difficult to know why such a wealthy family, doesn't opt for multi crew, with the added safety of two crew, less distraction from PAX in P2 seat, and Farnborough would have been a much better option based on the distances, and emergency resources.
Last edited by athonite; 1st Aug 2015 at 08:42.
1st Aug 2015, 08:06 #39 (permalink) Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lost again...
awqward.I don't think it says anything at all about TAG - I think it says something about the people who make the choices for the aircraft concerned.
I assume you're referring to the costs at Farnborough. Those "Vastly superior facilities", that you refer to, cost vastly superior sums of money.
OH(And no - I don't work for TAG).
1st Aug 2015, 08:16 #40 (permalink) Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reading, UK
Dave, interesting stuff. Are you in a position to comment on groundspeed?
Groundspeed over the threshold was 149 kts. IAS and ROD (both as of a couple of seconds previously) were 154 kts and approximately 1900 fpm (baro and inertial ROD readouts differ slightly). Height was roughly 400' AMSL (75' AAL) after correction for the QNH of 1017.Quote:
Is the Phenom 300 not a multi pilot type ? News outlets reporting only 1 pilot.
The Phenom 300 has dual controls, but is certificated for optional single-pilot operation (with the RHS available, if required, for a 10th passenger).
Sending a message? Bin Laden plane crash 'doesn't make sense'
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:25
A plane crash that killed three members of the bin Laden family "doesn't make sense", according to a pilot who regularly flies into Blackbushe Airport.Speaking to Sky News, Simon Moores explained how the Phenom 300 jet, which came down over a car auction site in Hampshire on Friday, "has every conceivable state-of-the-art safety function you can possibly imagine".He explained how the plane takes approximately 750m to 800m to land - but as Blackbushe's runway is 1,300m, there should have been no reason for the aircraft to overshoot as it arrived from Milan's Malpensa Airport.
Raising questions as to how the crash could have happened, Mr Moores asked: "Why, if (the pilot) thought his angle was completely wrong - which is what happened in this case - didn't he power up the engines, simply go round, and try again?"
All four people on board the private jet were killed after it crash-landed on dozens of cars and burst into flames.
The plane's pilot was a Jordanian national - and according to Hampshire Police, the three Saudi Arabian passengers were Osama bin Laden's stepmother, sister and brother-in-law.
Arab media have named those relatives as Rajaa Hashim, Sana bin Laden and Zuhair Hashim, and it is thought they were visiting the UK on holiday.
In a statement, Saudi's Ambassador to the UK wrote: "His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud... has paid his condolences to the family and relatives of Mohammed bin Laden at Blackbushe Airport in Britain for the great loss they have suffered."
Osama bin Laden, a former al Qaeda leader, was shot dead by US forces in Pakistan four years ago.He was disowned by the bin Laden family in 1994 after Saudi Arabia stripped him of citizenship over his militant activities - and a few years later, he claimed responsibility for the 11 September attacks of 2001.
The bin Laden family is one of the most prominent business dynasties in Saudi Arabia, and it is thought Osama had many stepmothers, as well as more than 50 siblings.
Shortly after Friday afternoon's accident, the Saudi Embassy said it was working with British authorities to investigate the incident and ensure the handover of the bodies for funerals and burials in Saudi Arabia.
No one on the ground was injured - but one witness said the jet resembled a missile as it came "flying down".
Sky News footage shows the aftermath of the crash, with debris visible among dozens of damaged cars.
Andrew Thomas, who was paying for a car at the time of the crash, said it was an "aggressive fire" and there was "explosion after explosion".
He added: "At one stage, it felt like the fire was going to rip across the whole car park."
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is looking into the cause of the crash.
Turkey's Political Influence Felt as Washington Turns Its Back on Kurds Fighting ISIS
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:59
Some of the most successful fighters against the Islamic State are being isolated and attacked by America's new favorite ally in the region.
Kurdish militias are achieving the stated goals of the Obama administration '-- to ''degrade and ultimately destroy'' ISIS '-- as well or better than any other fighting force. From Kobane to the recent liberation of Tel Abyad, Kurdish militias have won hard-fought victories against ISIS fighters in Syria, while preventing the advance of ISIS into northern Iraq.
What's more, the Kurds in northern Syria have established a political order like few others in this region of the world. Known as Rojava, the Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria are governed through participatory decision-making forums that include councils made up of women, Christians, Yazidis and Muslims. David Graeber, a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, calls Rojava a ''remarkable democratic experiment.''
But those gains are now in danger as Turkey, which has a long history of enmity towards ethnic Kurds and fears the potential for a Kurdish state to its immediate south, in northern Syria or Iraq, flexes its political muscle in Washington and applies its military might in the Middle East.
Behind the scenes, American lobbyists employed by Turkey started working to block U.S. military assistance to Kurdish fighters last year, lobbying disclosures show.
This past week, the Turkish government made two critical air bases available to U.S. forces, a long-sought concession that allows the U.S. military to launch anti-ISIS raids more quickly. And it began its own airstrikes against ISIS. But that move is increasingly being seen as something of a feint, with Turkey's main focus being a new offensive against Kurdish militants.
Simultaneously with its announcement about U.S. access to the air bases, the Turkish government broke its truce with Kurdish militants. During the past week, the Turkish military began attacking Kurdish bases in Iraq and allegedly in Syria as well. The Turkish government says its campaign is simply a response to an attack by the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), a separatist group, and has emphasized that it is also targeting ISIS.
On Friday, Turkey launched a series of mass arrests. Though some ISIS supporters were detained, the ''vast majority'' of arrests, according to the local press, were of leftists and Kurds. And on Tuesday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a crackdown on the People's Democratic Party, a Kurdish-leftist political party that gained seats in parliament for the first time last month.
Turkey intends to use the increased airstrikes to create a ''safe zone'' for Sunni Arab militias, which as the New York Times noted, would come at the expense of Kurdish fighters.
Rather than condemn the attacks on the Kurds, the Obama administration praised Turkey's government for making its air base available.
Turkey's role as a coalition partner in the campaign against ISIS has been and remains the subject of some controversy. For years, foreign jihadi fighters trickled through Turkey's porous border to join the ranks of ISIS. The Guardian reported on Saturday that a recent U.S.-led raid on an ISIS official responsible for selling black market oil to traders in Turkey revealed direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members
Vice President Joseph Biden remarked on this strange relationship with Turkey in a speech in October 2014. Turkey, Biden said, is ''so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar Assad's government] and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad '-- except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.''
Biden quickly apologized, as good an example as any of the pressure to maintain long-standing U.S.-Turkey business and military relationships '-- and the intractable power of the Turkish lobby, which is among the biggest spenders on foreign lobbying in Washington and a major sponsor of congressional junkets.
Turkey employs an all-star lobbying team of former government officials, including former Democratic lawmakers Dick Gephardt and Al Wynn; former Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson; retired Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Goss; and, until he was indicted in June and left the Dickstein Shapiro law firm, former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert. Others on the payroll include Brian Forni, a former Democratic aide, the law firm Greenberg Traurig, and Goldin Solutions, a media strategy firm.
A number of public relations firms and lawyers help sponsor junkets to American politicians and journalists to visit Turkey. Turkish Coalition of America, a Turkish interest group that helps to sponsor the trips, retained Brown, Lloyd and James, the lobby group that, in an ironic twist, previously represented Assad's wife.
Recently, the Turkish lobby has worked to block military support to the Kurds working to defeat ISIS.
The battle has been over legislation that would allow President Obama to bypass the Iraqi government in Baghdad and directly provide Iraqi Kurds with the heavy weapons and armored vehicles needed to battle ISIS. In the House, Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Elliot Engel, D-N.Y., the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and ranking member, introduced a bill last November, and then again in March, to provide the administration with the appropriate authority to arm the Kurds.
David Thompson, a former Capitol Hill staffer retained by the Turkish government, lobbied House Republican leaders on the Royce-Engel legislation in late 2014. The firm contacted aides to GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise regarding the bill, according to the statement filed by Thompson's law firm, Dickstein Shapiro, with the Justice Department in January.
Turkish interests say they have legitimate concerns about the bill. ''Supporting a militia for money and then unleashing them into the wild of terrorism we think is irresponsible,'' said Gunay Evinch, a longtime attorney for the Turkish government and former president of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.
''There are tidal wave kind of ripple effects that could be caused just by flooding a particular group within a broader group with heavy weapons and it could dwarf the ISIS problem or multiply it to many types of problems,'' Evinch added. Evinch said that he was speaking only on behalf of the ATAA board of directors, not the Turkish government. He noted that he met with Turkish embassy officials, who said they had supplied information to congressional intelligence officials about the dangers of supplying Kurdish forces with weapons.
Human rights watchdogs point out that in some areas of Iraq, Kurdish forces have been linked with efforts to segregate Arab and Kurdish refugees.
Embassy officials and Thompson did not respond to multiple request for comment about the bill. The Turkish embassy later sent a fact-sheet claiming, ''Though acting with different motivations, [ISIS] and the PKK share similar tactics and goals.''
President Erdogan has been clear about the threat posed by Kurdish militias. ''I say to the international community that whatever price must be paid, we will never allow the establishment of a new state on our southern frontier in the north of Syria,'' Erdogan said last month.
''Turkey has legitimate concerns about the international and American long-term policy towards Syria as well as in Iraq,'' G. Lincoln McCurdy, the president of the Turkish Coalition of America, said in October. McCurdy, whose group organizes congressional junkets to Turkey and serves as the treasurer of a pro-Turkey political action committee, noted that he is working to improve Turkey's image as a member of the anti-ISIS coalition, and stressed the need to highlight Turkey's role as a major host country for refugees.
''We're in a very strong position because of the PACs,'' McCurdy explained to a gathering of Turkish American leaders and Turkish embassy officials in March. He pointed to the strong pro-Turkey sentiment of Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., a freshman lawmaker and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
At the event, Boyle took the stage, praising Turkey as ''one of our best friends, if not the best friend, in the region.'' He went on to chide his fellow lawmakers for introducing ''nine anti-Turkish resolutions,'' a reference to legislation to recognize the Armenian genocide and condemn Turkey's efforts to restrict Internet freedom. ''This is wrong and counterproductive and bad for U.S.-Turkish policy,'' he declared. About a week after Boyle's remarks, McCurdy's Turkish Coalition PAC contributed $1,000 to Boyle's reelection campaign.
When the Royce-Engel bill to arm Kurds against ISIS was reintroduced this year, most members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee signed on as co-sponsors. Boyle was not among them. Asked why he did not sign onto the legislation, Boyle's spokesperson declined to comment.
Earlier this summer, the Senate rejected a similar bill to arm the Kurds fighting ISIS, with opponents citing White House concerns that such an effort would sow division within Iraq's unity government.
It's not the first time Washington has turned its back on the Kurds.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush's public suggestion that Iraqis ''take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside'' encouraged a Kurdish and Shiite uprising against the Baathist regime. But when the uprising occurred, the Bush administration provided no support and thousands of Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis were slaughtered by the Saddam regime.
CORRUPT ERDOÄAN TERRORIZES TURKEY
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:23
CorruptErdoÄandeserves a public hanging in front of the Atat¼rk mausoleum. The corrupt AK Party as well as corrupt ErdoÄan are benefitting from an environment of chaos and the possibility of a snap election as they win back voters who had drifted away in the general election and cost the AK Party its parliamentary majority. ErdoÄan opens prayers in his palace mosque every week asking Allah for forgiveness!With coalition talks between party representatives under way, the corrupt AK Party uses controlled chaos to direct people who may fear political and economic instability into voting for the AK Party in an early election. Corrupt ErdoÄan can take his palace and shove it!CorruptErdoÄan, emulating Morsi, faces the hangman's noose. When violence increases in Turkey, support for the AK Party goes up. The AK Party is the political child of fear. The AK Party ruled with fear. There is more than enough predisposition towards fear in the electorate's will.As acts of violence increase in Turkey, there is a surge in support for the AK Party. The AK Party benefitted from previous instances of increased violence such as the G¼neÅ HarekatÄ± (Operation Sun) by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) against Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) militants in 2007. The 2013 bombing in ReyhanlÄ±, a district of Hatay province, increased support for the AK Party.The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) managed to beat the odds and pass the election threshold in the June general election, allowing it to field 79 deputies in the next Parliament and causing the AK Party to lose the overall majority it enjoyed since 2002. The HDP managed to receive around 13 percent of the total vote, coming first in 16 of the country's 81 provinces, generally in the mainly Kurdish populated East and Southeast. This translates into 80 deputies in Parliament.ErdoÄan's full-blown attack on the HDP began on July 22, when the PKK's military wing, the heroic People's Defense Forces (HPG), claimed responsibility for the killing of two police officers in CeylanpÄ±nar in the southeastern province of ÅanlÄ±urfa to avenge a suicide bombing two days earlier in the town of Suru§, also in ÅanlÄ±urfa. Thirty-two people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the attack in Suru§, a Kurdish town on the Syrian border.The explosion in Suru§ occurred shortly after a Kurdish group had gathered at the Amara Cultural Center to issue a press statement about a trip they were planning to take to help rebuild Kobani, a Kurdish town in Syria across the Turkish border that was destroyed following weeks of fighting between Kurdish groups and ISIS, which was eventually pushed out of the town.CorruptErdoÄancannot cool down, because he sees the Damoclean sword over his head. ErdoÄan was behind the deadly suicide attack in Suru§, as corrupt ErdoÄan's intention is to sow chaos to pave the way for the AK Party to come to power as a single party in an early election. The suicide bombing in Suru§ was carried out on the instructions of Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MÄ°T), as part of ErdoÄan's plan. ISIS cells under the control of Fidan's shady team were finally put into action in Suru§.Together with other figures in the ruling party, corrupt ErdoÄan is trying to provoke clashes between ISIS and PKK in Turkey in order to sway public opinion in favor of a Turkish military incursion in Syria based on the perception that the country's Southeast is out of control. By creating chaos ahead of a possible early election, corrupt ErdoÄan hopes the AK Party will win the additional seats in Parliament needed for single-party rule.ErdoÄan wants the AK Party to return to single-party rule because he knows any situation to the contrary means he will be held accountable for his involvement in huge corruption and the illegal provision of arms to terrorist groups in Syria.Following the bombing in Suru§, there were a number of attacks in provinces near the Syrian border in southern Turkey, which are home to sympathizers of both ISIS and the PKK. A series of Turkish air strikes on outposts of PKK in northern Iraq have coincided with attacks on Turkish military personnel inside the country by PKK militants.The Turkish government uses ISIS as a pretext to attack the heroic PKK. Turkey's government is waging a new war against the Kurds, now struggling to get an internationally recognized political status in Syrian Kurdistan. Turkish jet fighters regularly bomb Kurdish PKK bases in Qandil, in Southern Kurdistan.Turkey is evidently unsettled by the rapprochement the PKK seems to be establishing with the U.S. and Europe. Alarmed by the PKK's victories against ISIS, as well as its strengthening international standing, Ankara, has been bombing the PKK positions in the Qandil mountains, where the PKK headquarters are located.Ankara hoodwinked that its air base at Incirlik is open to coalition forces, presumably to fight ISIS, but the moment Turkey started bombing, it targeted Kurdish positions. Those attacks not only open a new era of death and destruction, but also bring an end to all possibilities of resolving Turkey's Kurdish issue non-violently.Had the Turkish military attacked the PKK alone, and not in addition to attacking ISIS, it would probably have received widespread international condemnation. So to add legitimacy to its attacks against the heroic PKK, whose affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed wing, the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG) have been resisting ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups since 2013, Turkey declared that it will also attack ISIS. This would give it cover for its attacks against Kurdish fighters.The AKP government, dissatisfied with the results of last month's parliamentary elections, also wants to hold new elections, to push the mainly Kurdish HDP Party below the required 10% threshold, and thus force them out of parliament. The government thinks that bombing the heroic PKK, beloved and admired by all peoples of the world, will generate Turkish nationalist enthusiasm that will work in the AKP's favor to help it regain a majority in early elections.In the blinding desire to destroy ISIS, the White House forgot about Erdogan's dark side. The point of all this maneuvering is that Erdogan hopes to leverage wartime fervor into a favorable nationalist coalition or a new election with a better outcome for himself. The U.S. military is now helping Turkey's hardliners achieve their goals against the very Kurdish fighters whose close coordination with U.S. bombers have pushed ISIS back from Kobane and disrupted its supply lines. All the while, Turkey sat on its hands and refused to halt lucrative ISIS smuggling.Twenty million Kurds live in Northern Kurdistan occupied by Turkey, ten million in Eastern Kurdistan occupied by Iran, seven million in Southern Kurdistan occupied by Iraq, and three million in Western Kurdistan occupied by Syria. The wish of forty million Kurds cannot be ignored by civil society. Support an independent Kurdistan now. Viva Kurdistan! CorruptErdoÄan suffers from the Xenogiannakopoulou Syndrome,using the kangaroo justice as a political tool to gag political opponents. AK, the Turkish branch of Muslim Brotherhood, plans to establish Sharia and theocracy. CorruptErdoÄansays: The mosques are our barracks and armories, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers!Influence peddling has brought billions of euros in bribes toErdoÄanfamily. The Foundation of Youth and Education in Turkey, T'RGEV, controlled by corrupt ErdoÄan's son Bilal ErdoÄan, serves as a corruption center where bribes are transferred by businessmen whose companies are granted public tenders.T'RGEV has been pushed into the spotlight after a graft probe into corruption and bribery erupted on December 17 of 2013. Revelations against four Cabinet ministers, businessmen and bureaucrats were widely circulated after opposition parties read out in Parliament excerpts from the summaries of investigation proceedings. This included revelations that businessmen were forced to donate to T'RGEV in order to win public tenders. All corruption was coordinated by Bilal ErdoÄan.Egypt plans to revoke the Egyptian citizenship granted to Bilal. Morsi, who was ousted from office in a military coup in June 2013, had given Bilal Egyptian citizenship on April 13, 2013, two months prior to the military intervention. Bilal used an Egyptian passport to flee to Georgia during the huge corruption scandal! Egyptian citizenship was also granted to several other Turks close to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood.ErdoÄan and the AK Party government have launched a self-declared war against the Hizmet movement, inspired by the ideas of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah G¼len, after a corruption probe went public on Dec. 17, 2013, incriminating senior members of the government, the sons of three former ministers and government-affiliated figures as well as family members of corrupt ErdoÄan.Bilal's name has been in the spotlight ever since a voice recording surfaced revealing huge corruption. During five wiretapped phone conversations, corrupt ErdoÄan is heard telling his son to dispose billions of dollars hidden in several relatives' homes on the day police raided a number of locations as part of the operation. Towards the end of the recordings, Bilal tells his father that he and others have finished the tasks corrupt Erdogan gave them, the whole sum was zeroed.Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) celebrates its 13th year in power. AKP stated aim is to rule Turkey single-handedly until 2023, the centennial of Republic, if not beyond. Party propaganda even speaks about its 2071 targets, which basically means that the AKP wants to put its stamp on the entire 21st century.This much power feels good for those who hold it. It also attracts a lot of power-worshippers. But it has a terrible consequence, pointed out nicely more than a century ago by Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
This much power has corrupted AKP, and this corruption only becomes more absolute as the party's power becomes more and more absolute. A notable person who recently spoke about this transformation from victim to aggressor is former bureaucrat DurmuÅ YÄ±lmaz, who served for years as the governor of the Central Bank under AKP.It is this YÄ±lmaz, somebody from the religious core of the AKP universe, who spoke out against ErdoÄan's populist and irrational jabs at the current Central Bank administration. YÄ±lmaz has now joined the Nationalist Action Party (MHP).
YÄ±lmaz says: We had dreams, we had beliefs. We were not going to lie. We were going to tell the truth and accept our mistakes, even this went against our interests. We would side with the just. At this point, however, many of these ideals of mine have collapsed. What has happened in Turkey in the past four or five years has been a major blow to my dreams. Unfortunately, power makes man dirty. We have melted an iceberg with our warm breaths, but what we had at the end is a pool of mud.The result of the 13-year-long AKP experiment is a tragic story of a loss of values and the bitter triumph of Machiavellianism. The fact that the AKP's rhetoric is only getting more and more self-righteous should not blind anyone to this ugly scene. This rhetoric is actually only heavy make-up used to cover the ugly scene.
DavutoÄlu has failed to restrain corrupt ErdoÄan's authoritarian ambitions. Like any ambitious person who is prone to become a dictator, ErdoÄan exhibits his potential to threaten democracy, the rule of law and social peace, but it is DavutoÄlu's willful political impotence that turns it into a real problem.Developments suggest that instead of asserting his own personality and identity, DavutoÄlu chooses to be a minion who is nothing but a mere imitator of ErdoÄan. He sacrifices even the last remnants of his personality, dignity and willpower to ErdoÄan's unrestrained tyranny. Moreover, he reinforces his image as someone who is prone to, or ready to accept, ErdoÄan's tyranny.Turkey, the casus-belli-bully, is the world's largest prison of journalists, bloggers, and generals. Corrupt Erdogan has outlined his course declaring democracy is a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off. His dictatorial mentality can already be seen in such steps as challenging the independent judiciary, fostering nonsensical conspiracy theories to jail his opponents, imprisoning countless journalists, and issuing preposterous fines against unfriendly media companies. Much of AKP narrative about the sacred march is propaganda that appeals to the sentiments of Turkey's conservative voters, who, after decades of marginalization and humiliation by secularists, yearn for pride and glory. It is more sentiment than strategy. However, the very existence of this narrative influences the AKP's current strategies, or at least its political behavior.The most practical and harmful result is the demonization of the AKP's opponents. If the AKP's mission is a sacred one, then those who stand in its way are not just political actors with different views and interests, but malicious forces that conspire against the obvious good. Therefore, they cannot be reasoned with. They just need to be weakened, defeated or even crushed.The second problem is that the narrative of a sacred march makes AKP immune to criticism '-- because, besides small personal errors and shortcomings, how could a cause which is sacred go wrong? The third problem is that the same narrative disallows intra-party democracy within AKP. Any dispute with Erdogan is branded as fitna, which is a very negative Islamic term that denotes conflict among believers.The narrative of a sacred march might be helping AKP to keep emotions high and galvanize the party base, but it does not help making the party conscious of its mistakes, shortcomings and its true potential. It only helps deepening the polarization in Turkish society between those who celebrate the AKP's sacred march, and those who feel increasingly alienated, if not threatened, by this triumphant rhetoric.Corrupt Erdogan built his palace sprawling over 91,000 square meters (22.5 acres) inside the Ataturk Forest Farm in west Ankara. The 1,000-room palace, inspired by Seljuk architecture, is equipped with extensive security systems: bunkers, tunnels against chemical attacks, high-tech defenses against cyberattacks and espionage, deaf rooms with no electrical outlets to fend off bugging attempts and an underground war room. The palace also includes a big mosque, a grand opera house, a big library, gym, massage parlor, barbers, ballroom, and secret harem quarters. The palace, cost one billion euros, was given a name: Aksaray. It is a combination of two words, ak and saray, meaning white palace. AK is also the acronym of Erdogan's party!
Turkish military denies hit civilians during airstrikes
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:15
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Erdogan: Daesh actions bear no relation to Turkey
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:49
Erdogan: Daesh actions bear no relation to Turkey1 August 2015, 10:11 (GMT+05:00)Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Daesh's actions bear no relation to Turkey's "religion, morality, conscience or culture" Anadolu Agency reported
More:Erdogan: Daesh actions bear no relation to Turkey
Turkey's Geopolitical Gyrations
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 13:11
The Obama administration is joining with Turkey in airstrikes against Islamic State targets in northern Syria '' a shift from President Erdogan's past tolerance and even support for Islamic terrorists inside Syria '' but a more complex geopolitical game is afoot, writes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.
By Graham E. Fuller
Turkish policies towards the Middle East have been in wild oscillation over the past weeks, even months. Ankara has now finally and begrudgingly initiated military action against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in cooperation with the United States. But it has also initiated air attacks against its former Kurdish negotiating partners. Just what is going on? There may not be any coherent strategy, but the following seem to me to represent the key issues driving policy.
''At the top of the list is President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan and his quest for political survival. After the rebuff to the ruling AK Party (or AKP) in the June elections that caused it to lose its majority in parliament, ErdoÄan is now desperately trying to recover, find a reliable partner for a coalition government and, in its absence, to force new elections next month in the hopes of recouping his majority.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Given the growing impression of growing loss of coherency at the top levels of the Turkish government, it is something of a gamble that the AKP could achieve a better electoral outcome next month. Indeed the AKP may well emerge yet weaker.
That said, the AKP's best chance for a coalition partner is the nationalist MHP which opposes negotiations with the PKK (the armed Kurdish nationalist movement) or any cooperation with the PKK's ally in Syria, the YDP.
A decade ago the AKP initiated encouraging and historic negotiations with the PKK; observers had every good reason to hope for a major breakthrough on this ethnic issue that has plagued Turkey almost since its birth (as a modern state in the 1920s). But domestic politics have intervened and ErdoÄan has now irresponsibly turned his back on these negotiations, even beginning military operations against the PKK again, probably putting an end for some time to any hope of reconciliation.
Such aggressive steps delight the nationalists in the MHP, now a key potential coalition partner. In sum, short-term and short-sighted AKP electoral politics are destroying aspirations for vital national reconciliation.
ErdoÄan has another good reason as well to sabotage his own early pioneering efforts at Kurdish reconciliation: with the improving political environment of a few years ago, for the first time a Kurdish party, the Peoples's Democratic Party, is now reaching for national status as a true liberal party beyond simple Kurdish nationalism. It was that party that took away crucial votes from the AKP in the last elections and ErdoÄan has blood in his eye.
The Syrian Mess
''The second key factor is Ankara's disastrous Syrian imbroglio. ErdoÄan's decision, indeed current obsession, with overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria starting in 2011 '-- represented an abrupt reverse of a decade of warm and brotherly relations with Syria.
No AKP foreign policy failure can equal the Syrian disaster: it has intensified the butchery in Syria's savage internal conflict, damaged vital relations with Iraq and Iran, helped unleash a flood of millions of Syrian refugees into Turkey, created domestic unrest, damaged the economy, and pushed ErdoÄan into a distasteful embrace with Saudi Arabia against Assad.
In doing so, ErdoÄan has been forced to turn an ever blinder eye to the extremism of Islamist forces operating against Assad in Syria, including ISIS itself. While having little real sympathy for ISIS, ErdoÄan has nonetheless tolerated it. In the end he preferred strengthening ISIS against Damascus than deepening Turkish ties with the Kurds '-- Turkey's natural regional partners for the future.
This Turkish policy has greatly embittered most Kurds against Turkey, especially in Syria. Erdogan's Kurdish ties are now everywhere at risk: in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Only the event of a serious terrorist ISIS attack a few weeks ago on Turkish soil (targeting mostly Kurds), forced ErdoÄan to reconsider this relationship.
As a result ErdoÄan has reluctantly bowed to U.S. pressure to take a tougher position against ISIS. There is actually little love in Turkey at all for ISIS except among a very small minority of radical fundamentalists. Here too now, ErdoÄan still seems to lack a conceptual compass on these strategic issues.
Dealing with Iran
''A third driver is the nuclear deal with Iran. This momentous agreement will be changing the face of Middle Eastern geopolitics. It has raised the stakes for Ankara, making it clear that it can now ill afford to ignore Iran. Yet this should not be a serious problem for Turkey: the first decade of AKP rule saw good working relations with Tehran, and Turkey has basically avoided ideologically championing Middle Eastern Sunnis in any sectarian struggle.
This is where ErdoÄan's unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia against Syria had begun to push him in a dangerous sectarian direction that contradicts nearly all of Turkey's national interests, including ties with Iran. Ankara's recent air operations against ISIS shows some signs now of pulling back from this egregious strategic error, even as Riyadh itself has come to fear feeding ISIS any further.
In short, primarily for domestic political reasons, but also due to foreign pressures from the U.S., Iran and Iraq, Ankara is now wavering in its strategic directions. It would be wise if it joins Iran, Russia, China, Oman, and probably now the U.S., in seeking a political solution in Damascus that will lead to Assad's eventual resignation but not a toppling of the present regime.
But the implications of Obama's agreement with Ankara to establish a buffer zone in Syria along the Turkish border is disturbing; it now may drag the U.S. deeper into local ground wars and coordination with bad Turkish policies. The fact is, an Assad regime for the moment is a far better option than continuing civil war and the continuing growth of extremist jihadi forces of ISIS and al-Qa'ida who are ideally positioned to eventually eliminate moderate Islamic opposition forces against Assad.
A potential Turkish coalition government that combines the AKP (with its plurality) and a left-of-center Republican Peoples Party and the new liberal Kurdish Party would seem to offer the healthiest mixture to oversee Turkish foreign policy in these exceptionally troubled and complex times. ErdoÄan's vaulting ambitions and increasing loss of judgment and statesmanship will best be neutralized in such a coalition.
Despite the emotionalism around the Kurdish issue, a new generation of a Turkish electorate is unlikely to opt for a politician who seeks greater confrontation in the region, especially as a tool for his own ambitions.
Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American's crisis of conscience in Pakistan. (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com
Video: Four feared dead as private jet crashes into car auction - Telegraph
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:35
The Phenom 300 jet believed to be the aircraft that crashed at Blackbushe Airport (Robert Belcher/PA)
The Embraer Phenom 300 jet then flipped over and landed on a number of cars in an adjacent auction site, sparking a huge blaze.
Around 20 cars were completely destroyed.
The plane was owned by Salem Aviation, a company which is part of the Bin Laden conglomerate based in Jeddah.
If the deaths of members of the bin Laden clan are confirmed, it would be the third time the family had fallen victim to a plane crash.
On September 3 1967, Mohammed bin Laden, Osama's father, was killed when his Beechcraft 18 crashed on a landing strip near Usran in Saudi Arabia
The tail-fin number HZ-IBN was the same as that on the Embraer which crashed in Hampshire.
It was reported that the registration was retained by the bin Laden family after Mohammed's death.
In 1988 Salem bin Laden, the Millfield educated half brother of Osama, died when his aircraft drifted into high-voltage power lines in San Antonio, Texas.
In a statement following the crash, an airport spokesman said: "A Phenom 300 Jet with four persons on board crashed near the end of the runway around 3.09pm while attempting to make a landing.
An aerial view of the Blackbushe Airport crash site (Sky News)
"The scene was attended by Blackbushe Fire and Rescue within minutes, followed by Hampshire fire, police and ambulance units."
Acting Chief Inspector Olga Venner of Hampshire police said the pilot and three passengers had been on board.
She said: "sadly there were no survivors. No one on the ground has been injured."
Daphne Knowles, 70, who lives close to the airfield said the aircraft sounded to be in trouble as it came in to land.
She said: "I was in a field with the cattle and I heard an aircraft coming very, very fast from behind me. The engines were screaming far too much."
Describing the scene, another witness said: "There was a loud bang and then my son quickly came in to the auction hall where the cashiers are, saying a plane had gone down. We quickly went back out only to see a private jet had gone over the fence of the airport.
"It's actually clipped the fence, spun around and crashed into the cars where they are sold.
"The fire started at the front of the plane and worked its way from the front of the jet to the back and spread outwards onto the parked cars.
"The whole place was engulfed with very thick black smoke.
A spokesman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed it was "aware" of the incident and was "making inquiries".
VIDEO-Washington Journal Francesca Chambers Hillary | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 05:03
August 1, 2015Francesca Chambers talked about the State Department's release of the latest batch of emails Democratic presidential candidate'... read more
Francesca Chambers talked about the State Department's release of the latest batch of emails Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton kept on a private server while secretary of state.'A video clip was shown of the previous day's State Department daily briefing on the subject. close
*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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VIDEO-Anti-vaccine mother charged with kidnapping daughter - CNN.com
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 03:19
Got a tip? Click here.
Wanted for kidnapping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecutionHas distinctive chicken pox scars on her chest, arms and faceBelieved to be with her 3-year-old daughter, Lilly Baumann, who has curly, brown hairEverett's boyfriend, Carlos Lesters, answered the door. "He said 'Megan doesn't live here. She moved,' and he slammed the door in my face," Baumann recalled to CNN's "The Hunt With John Walsh."
Mother and child were gone, but Everett left behind a note for Lesters, which read:
"Dear C, If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn't be doing what's right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you, but I had to leave. I know she will be safer and happier with my family and I. Love, Meg and Lilly."
Baumann was stunned. "Then reality kind of hit me, and then the panic hit me," he recalled. "What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to find her? Where do I go from here?"
Confederate flags and live ammunitionEverett and Baumann had been together only a few months when their daughter, Lilly, was conceived. Everett ended the relationship before Lilly was born and reportedly wanted to cut Baumann out of her and her daughter's lives.
Through the intervention of Everett's mother, Pam, Baumann was able to be present for Lilly's birth and to spend time with his daughter, once or twice a week, for the first couple of years of her life.
When Everett moved in with Lesters, her new boyfriend, Baumann grew concerned about losing access to Lilly for good. He was also troubled by photos showing Lilly playing near live ammunition and surrounded with Confederate flags.
"I don't see her playing with toys in any picture. I see ammunition," Baumann said. "I spoke to Megan about it, and it was, 'Oh well,' you know, 'Take me to court'." So he did.
An unusual allianceBaumann petitioned the court for full custody, with two surprising allies in the fight: Everett's mother, Pam, and her older sister, Stephanie.
As Pam told "The Hunt," "It was going to be her way or no way. The baby was going to go to no school. It was not going to socialize. It was not going get its vaccinations and it was not going learn about anything but the Confederacy ... something had to be done about that."
Even with Everett's family on his side, the court did not grant Baumann full custody. Instead, he and Everett were granted joint 50/50 custody, alternating weeks.
But only six weeks into this new arrangement, Everett and Lilly were gone.
The Hunt for Megan EverettDetective Louis Fernandez of the Sunrise Police Department in Florida believes that someone must have helped Everett kidnap Lilly.
"There's a very high likelihood that she had assistance, both financially and logistically, to get out of this area," Fernandez told "The Hunt." "Carlos Lesters, in our opinion, hasn't had any criminal involvement at this point. He's assisted us with this case, and as far as we know, he has no information about their whereabouts."
Baumann hopes viewers of "The Hunt" can help lead authorities to Everett and Lilly. "I think if something was to happen to my daughter, I don't think Megan's going to go and seek medical attention. I don't think she's going to do anything to help the child."
"I want my daughter to be found. I want my daughter to be safe," he said.
Megan Everett has distinctive chicken pox scars on her chest, arms and face. She's known to change her hairstyle and hair color frequently. She's also believed to be with her 3-year-old daughter, Lilly Baumann, who has curly, brown hair.
If you've seen Megan or Lilly, or have any information about their whereabouts, please call 1-866-THE-HUNT or go to our website at CNN.com/TheHunt. You can remain anonymous. We'll pass your tip on to the proper authorities, and if requested, will not reveal your name.
See more of Megan Everett's case on "The Hunt with John Walsh," at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, August 2.
VIDEO-System Administrator's Day song - YouTube
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:41
VIDEO-Exclusive: Secret NSA Map Shows China Cyber Attacks on U.S. Targets - NBC News
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 02:03
Each dot represents a successful Chinese attempt to steal corporate and military secrets and data about America's critical infrastructure, particularly the electrical power and telecommunications and internet backbone. And the prizes that China pilfered during its "intrusions" included everything from specifications for hybrid cars to formulas for pharmaceutical products to details about U.S. military and civilian air traffic control systems, according to intelligence sources.
The map was part of an NSA briefing prepared by the NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) in February 2014, an intelligence source told NBC News. The briefing highlighted China's interest in Google and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, and in air traffic control systems. It catalogued the documents and data Chinese government hackers have "exfiltrated" -- stolen -- from U.S. corporate, government and military networks, and also listed the number and origin of China's "exploitations and attacks."
The map suggests that NSA has been able to monitor and assess the Chinese cyber espionage operations, and knows which specific companies, government agencies and computer networks are being targeted.
The NSA did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment.
VIDEO-Haitians eat dirt cookies to survive - YouTube
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:49
VIDEO-'¶ Adam Curry at Academy of Podcasters #PM15 - YouTube
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:44
VIDEO-Oops : Terrorist Suicide Belt Goes Off Accidentally During Terrorist Sing Along
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 10:22
A known terrorist group in Syria was having a little sing along when it ended abruptly. Very abruptly.
A bomb went off accidentally killing them all in the explosion. This video shows the terrorists singing and the aftermath of the explosions.
ISIS and terrorists in general are typically a bunch of uneducated, dangerous criminals who are totally incompetent and this video shows it.
h/t: Live Leak
VIDEO-Joint Chiefs Chairman Channels His 'Uptown Funk'
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:06
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (AP File Photo)
(CNSNews.com) - Interesting things happen when children interview adults -- in this case, children of military parents interviewing the nation's top military officer.
"How do you define your success?" a girl asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Demspey at a gathering in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Military Children Education Coalition on Thursday.
"I don't know," Demspey said -- and stopped.
"Oh, you want me to extrapolate on that?" he joked. Dempsey responded that he's proud of being a soldier, a husband and a father.
"Do you think that failure plays a part in that success?" the girl asked.
"Failure plays a part in every success," Dempsey responded. "You've experienced it already, I'm sure -- you know, overcome your own challenges. It's like Chumbawamba -- 'I get knocked down, I get backup again,' right?"
"But uh -- I'm trying to connect to the kids," Demsey said to his wife Deanie, seated next to him.
"Well, look, you don't want me to break into 'Uptown Funk You Up,' do ya?
Don't belive me, just watch, he sang.
Demspey, continuing in a more serious tone, said high school is a time to keep doors open: "Every door that you can imagine is open to you right now. Until you do something to close it. That's the great thing about being an American, actually."
Dempsey told the children that he's the grandson of four Irish immigrants; his father was a postman; and his mother was a shelf-stocker at a convenience store.
"And I'm the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I can tell you, that would not happen any place else.
"So, the doors are open. You just can't close them. But you can stumble. You just can't fall flat on your face. And I"ll leave it to your imagination to decide which are stumbles and which are catastrophes."
VIDEO-U.S., Israel Make Arrests Related to JPMorgan Bank Hacking Case - YouTube
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:45
VIDEO-13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - Official Trailer - YouTube
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:42
Matthews Dumbfounds DNC Chair: 'Tell Me the Difference Between You and a Socialist' - YouTube
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:23