757: Dairy Air

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 57m
September 17th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Roy of Yukon, David Lane, Russell Hickey

Associate Executive Producers: Sir James Cates

Cover Artist: pewdiepie

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Antebellum Period
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 05:55
Our historical understanding of antebellum America is heavily colored by our knowledge of the disaster that brought that era of American history to a close: the Civil War. But the people who lived through the antebellum period had no way of knowing that historians would later define their era by the war that ended it. ("Antebellum" is Latin for "pre-war.") Antebellum Americans did, however, understand and appreciate the seriousness of the increasing sectional conflict dividing the country between the slave-labor, agricultural South and the "free labor," industrializing North.
Antebellum culture in America reflected the growing sectional crisis, at times seeking to pave over sectional differences and at other times making light of them. Congressmen pushed through a "gag rule" so that the difficult subject of slavery would simply be made taboo in the chambers of government. Playwrights invented "vernacular characters" that represented the Yankee of the North and the Cavalier of the South; these exaggerated embodiments of regional stereotypes enabled audiences to chuckle at the idiosyncrasies of each group. Sometimes, however, the differences between North and South were less pronounced than the similarities; while only southerners enslaved black people, white Americans from both North and South overwhelmingly embraced anti-black racism. White people in the North rubbed burnt cork or coal on their faces to perform in "blackface," mimicking ludicrous stereotypes of African-Americans to entertain each other. This blackface minstrelsy was obviously deeply racist, but the popular form of entertainment was actually more complicated than that. The performances revealed how northerners were simultaneously fascinated by black people and derisive of them; onstage mocking of blacks provided relief for working-class whites' anxieties over their own social status as hourly wage laborers.
Other dimensions of the economic, technological, and social changes underway in Antebellum American society manifested themselves in the national culture in surprising ways. The innovations of the mass printing press made possible the first popular newspapers and advertisements (especially in the cities), and fueled an explosion of printed material'--from women's sentimental novels to classic works of literature to inflammatory abolitionist tracts. The rapid communication made possible by the telegraph facilitated the advent of mass spectator sports, in which men in saloons hundreds of miles from a horse race or boxing match could receive rapid updates on the progress and outcome. The new practice of photography dazzled Americans everywhere; they sent one another their portraits through the mail, purchased pictures of celebrities, famous political leaders and even erotic nudes, and received photographic evidence of whipped and abused slaves (whether they wanted to see it or not). The patriotic rhetoric championed by Andrew Jackson's administration empowered the common white man to feel as though he was an important part of the political culture. Partisan political machines created by both parties organized huge torchlight parades, transforming political participation into a spectacle of democracy, motivating the highest voter turnouts in American history.
Americans dealt with the rapidly changing conditions of the Antebellum era by manifesting their hopes, their values, and their anxieties on the stage and through the culture that infused their daily actions and interactions.
Dueling probably seems like a quaint stereotype or a Hollywood clich(C), but there was a time when a man would be ridiculed for failing to answer a challenge to a duel. The culture of the nineteenth century'--much more than today'--deemed honor to be a matter of life and death. If you were from an affluent family or occupied a prominent public position, and you wanted to redeem your family name, your reputation, and the honor of your home against a public insult, you had to risk your life with swords or pistols. Death before dishonor'--it was more than merely a slogan at the tattoo parlor. An American president once had to be restrained from physically beating a man who tried to pull his nose. Seriously. Clearly antebellum America was a different place from the country we know today; only by understanding its cultural life can we understand what daily experience was really like for people of the time.
At the same time, early manifestations of the America we know so well today were beginning to take shape throughout the period. Newspapers assumed, for the first time, the importance that they (hopefully) still maintain, and almost immediately they began to exploit the sensational and tawdry stories about sex, violence, and murder for which some are still known. Bustling cities grew very quickly, creating a new urban culture that was shocking to the rural majority of the antebellum American population. The growth of these anonymous metropolitan centers of vice and materialism (as most people perceived them) created a great deal of anxiety throughout the period. The large crowds amassing in America's cities craved entertainment and increasingly possessed disposable income from their wage labor; they bought magazines and books, went to the first mass sporting events to charge admission, bought liquor and reveled with prostitutes, and went to the theater. In many ways, these pastimes probably don't seem all that different from our own'--but two centuries ago it was perfectly acceptable for a white audience to seek out amusement from white actors covered in black makeup, mocking black people onstage. Blackface minstrelsy seems as bizarre today as a president beating a man for pulling his nose.
If you want to understand antebellum American culture, from the familiar to the outlandish, read on.
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Causes Of The Civil War
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 05:12
Irreconcilable DifferencesSimmering animosities between North and South signaled an American apocalypse
Any man who takes it upon himself to explain the causes of the Civil War deserves whatever grief comes his way, regardless of his good intentions. Having acknowledged that, let me also say I have long believed there is no more concise or stirring accounting for the war than the sentiments propounded by Irish poet William Butler Yeats in ''The Second Coming,'' some lines of which are included in this essay. Yeats wrote his short poem immediately following the catastrophe of World War I, but his thesis of a great, cataclysmic event is universal and timeless.
It is probably safe to say that the original impetus of the Civil War was set in motion when a Dutch trader offloaded a cargo of African slaves at Jamestown, Va., in 1619. It took nearly 250 eventful years longer for it to boil into a war, but that Dutchman's boatload was at the bottom of it'--a fact that needs to be fixed in the reader's mind from the start.
Of course there were other things, too. For instance, by the eve of the Civil War the sectional argument had become so far advanced that a significant number of Southerners were convinced that Yankees, like Negroes, constituted an entirely different race of people from themselves.
It is unclear who first put forth this curious interpretation of American history, but just as the great schism burst upon the scene it was subscribed to by no lesser Confederate luminaries than president Jefferson Davis himself and Admiral Raphael Semmes, of CSS Alabama fame, who asserted that the North was populated by descendants of the cold Puritan Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell'--who had overthrown and executed the king of England in 1649'--while others of the class were forced to flee to Holland, where they also caused trouble, before finally settling at Plymouth Rock, Mass.
Southerners on the other hand, or so the theory went, were the hereditary offspring of Cromwell's enemies, the ''gay cavaliers'' of King Charles II and his glorious Restoration, who had imbued the South with their easygoing, chivalrous and honest ways. Whereas, according to Semmes, the people of the North had evolved accordingly into ''gloomy, saturnine, and fanatical'' people who ''seemed to repel all the more kindly and generous impulses'' (omitting'--possibly in a momentary lapse of memory'--that the original settlers of other Southern states, such as Georgia, had been prison convicts or, in the case of Louisiana, deportees, and that Semmes' own wife was a Yankee from Ohio).
How beliefs such as this came to pass in the years between 1619 and 1860 reveals the astonishing capacity of human nature to confound traditional a posteriori deduction in an effort to justify what had become by then largely unjustifiable. But there is blame enough for all to go around.
From that first miserable boatload of Africans in Jamestown, slavery spread to all the settlements, and, after the Revolutionary War, was established by laws in the states. But by the turn of the 19th century, slavery was confined to the South, where the economy was almost exclusively agricultural. For a time it appeared the practice was on its way to extinction. Virginia's Thomas Jefferson probably summed up the attitude of the day when he defined the South's ''peculiar institution'' as a necessary evil, which he and many others believed, or at least hoped, would wither away of its own accord since it was basically wasteful and unproductive.
Then along came Eli Whitney with his cotton gin, suddenly making it feasible to grow short-staple cotton that was fit for the great textile mills of England and France. This in turn, 40 years later, prompted South Carolina's prominent senator John C. Calhoun to declare that slavery'--far from being merely a ''necessary evil'''--was actually a ''positive good,'' because, among other things, in the years since the gin's invention, the South had become fabulously rich, with cotton constituting some 80 percent of all U.S. exports.
But beneath this great wealth and prosperity, America seethed. Whenever you have two people'--or peoples'--joined in politics but doing diametrically opposing things, it is almost inevitable that at some point tensions and jealousies will break out. In the industrial North, there was a low, festering resentment that eight of the first 11 U.S. presidents were Southerners'--and most of them Virginians at that. For their part, the agrarian Southerners harbored lingering umbrage over the internal improvements policy propagated by the national government, which sought to expand and develop roads, harbors, canals, etc., but which the Southerners felt was disproportionately weighted toward Northern interests. These were the first pangs of sectional dissension.
Then there was the matter of the Tariff of Abominations, which became abominable for all concerned.
This inflammatory piece of legislation, passed with the aid of Northern politicians, imposed a tax or duty on imported goods that caused practically everything purchased in the South to rise nearly half-again in price. This was because the South had become used to shipping its cotton to England and France and in return receiving boatloads of inexpensive European goods, including clothing made from its own cotton. However, as years went by, the North, particularly New England, had developed cotton mills of its own'--as well as leather and harness manufactories, iron and steel mills, arms and munitions factories, potteries, furniture makers, silversmiths and so forth. And with the new tariff putting foreign goods out of financial reach, Southerners were forced to buy these products from the North at what they considered exorbitant costs.
Smart money might have concluded it would be wise for the South to build its own cotton mills and its own manufactories, but its people were too attached to growing cotton. A visitor in the 1830s described the relentless cycle of the planters' misallocation of spare capital: ''To sell cotton to buy Negroes'--to make more cotton to buy more Negroes'--'ad infinitum.'''
Such was the Southern mindset, but the tariff nearly kicked off the war 30 years early because, as the furor rose, South Carolina's Calhoun, who was then running for vice president of the United States, declared that states'--his own state in particular'--were under no obligation to obey the federal tariff law, or to collect it from ships entering its harbors. Later, South Carolina legislators acted on this assertion and defied the federal government to overrule them, lest the state secede. This set off the Nullification Crisis, which held in theory (or wishful thinking) that a state could nullify or ignore any federal law it held was not in its best interests. The crisis was defused only when President Andrew Jackson sent warships into Charleston Harbor'--but it also marked the first time a Southern state had threatened to secede from the Union.
The incident also set the stage for the states' rights dispute, pitting state laws against the notion of federal sovereignty'--an argument which became ongoing into the next century, and the next. ''States' rights'' also became a Southern watchword for Northern (or ''Yankee'') intrusion on the Southern lifestyle. States' rights political parties sprang up over the South; one particular example of just how volatile the issue had become was embodied in the decision in 1831 of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Gist (ironically from Union, S.C.) to name their firstborn son ''States Rights Gist,'' a name he bore proudly until November 30, 1864, when, as a Confederate brigadier general, he was shot and killed leading his men at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee.
Though the tariff question remained an open sore from its inception in 1828 right up to the Civil War, many modern historians have dismissed the impact it had on the growing rift between the two sections of the country. But any careful reading of newspapers, magazines or correspondence of the era indicates that here is where the feud began to fester into hatred. Some Southern historians in the past have argued this was the root cause of the Civil War. It wasn't, but it was a critical ingredient in the suspicion and mistrust Southerners were beginning to feel about their Northern brethren, and by extension about the Union itself. Not only did the tariff issue raise for the first time the frightening specter of Southern secession, but it also seemed to have marked a mazy kind of dividing line in which the South vaguely started thinking of itself as a separate entity'--perhaps even a separate country. Thus the cat, or at least the cat's paw, was out of the bag.
All the resenting and seething naturally continued to spill over into politics. The North, with immigrants pouring in, vastly outnumbered the South in population and thus controlled the House of Representatives. But the U.S. Senate, by a sort of gentleman's agreement laced with the usual bribes and threats, had remained 50-50, meaning that whenever a territory was admitted as a free state, the South got to add a corresponding slave state'--and vice versa. That is until 1820, when Missouri applied for statehood and anti-slavery forces insisted it must be free. Ultimately, this resulted in Congress passing the Missouri Compromise, which decreed that Missouri could come in as a slave state (and Maine as a free state) but any other state created north of Missouri's southern border would have to be free. That held the thing together for longer than it deserved.
In plain acknowledgement that slavery was an offensive practice, Congress in 1808 banned the importation of African slaves. Nevertheless there were millions of slaves living in the South, and their population continued growing. Beginning in the late 18th century, a small group of people in New England concluded that slavery was a social evil, and began to agitate for its abolition'--hence, of course, the term ''abolitionist.''
Over the years this group became stronger and by the 1820s had turned into a full-fledged movement, preaching abolition from pulpits and podiums throughout the North, publishing pamphlets and newspapers, and generally stirring up sentiments both fair and foul in the halls of Congress and elsewhere. At first the abolitionists concluded that the best solution was to send the slaves back to Africa, and they actually acquired land in what is now Liberia, returning a small colony of ex-bondsmen across the ocean.
By the 1840s, the abolitionists had decided that slavery was not simply a social evil, but a ''moral wrong,'' and began to agitate on that basis.
This did not sit well with the churchgoing Southerners, who were now subjected to being called unpleasant and scandalous names by Northerners they did not even know. This provoked, among other things, religious schisms, which in the mid-1840s caused the American Methodist and Baptist churches to split into Northern and Southern denominations. Somehow the Presbyterians hung together, but it was a strain, while the Episcopal church remained a Southern stronghold and firebrand bastion among the wealthy and planter classes. Catholics also maintained their solidarity, prompting cynics to suggest it was only because they owed their allegiance to the pope of Rome rather than to any state, country or ideal.
Abolitionist literature began showing up in the Southern mails, causing Southerners to charge the abolitionists with attempting to foment a slave rebellion, the mere notion of which remained high on most Southerners' anxiety lists. Murderous slave revolts had occurred in Haiti, Jamaica and Louisiana and more recently resulted in the killing of nearly 60 whites during the Nat Turner slave uprising in Virginia in 1831.
During the Mexican War the United States acquired enormous territories in the West, and what by then abolitionists called the ''slave power'' was pressing to colonize these lands. That prompted an obscure congressman from Pennsylvania to submit an amendment to a Mexican War funding bill in 1846 that would have prevented slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico'--which became known, after its author, as the Wilmot Proviso. Even though it failed to pass into law, the very act of presenting the measure became a cause c(C)l¨bre among Southerners who viewed it as further evidence that Northerners were not only out to destroy their ''peculiar institution,'' but their political power as well.
In 1850, to the consternation of Southerners, California was admitted into the Union as a free state'--mainly because the Gold Rush miners did not want to find themselves in competition with slave labor. But for the first time it threw the balance of power in the Senate to the Northern states.
By then national politics had become almost entirely sectional, a dangerous business, pitting North against South'--and vice versa'--in practically all matters, however remote. To assuage Southern fury at the admission of free California, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which made Northerners personally responsible for the return of runaway slaves. Contrary to its intentions, the act actually galvanized Northern sentiments against slavery because it seemed to demand direct assent to, and personal complicity with, the practice of human bondage.
During the decade of the 1850s, crisis seemed to pile upon crisis as levels of anger turned to rage, and rage turned to violence. One of the most polarizing episodes between North and South occurred upon the 1852 publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which depicted the slave's life as a relentless nightmare of sorrow and cruelty. Northern passions were inflamed while furious Southerners dismissed the story en masse as an outrageously skewed and unfair portrayal. (After the conflict began it was said that Lincoln, upon meeting Mrs. Stowe, remarked, ''So you are the little lady who started this great war?'')
In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act, sponsored by frequent presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas, overturned the Missouri Compromise and permitted settlers in the Kansas Territory to choose for themselves whether they wanted a free or slave state. Outraged Northern abolitionists, horrified at the notion of slavery spreading by popular sovereignty, began raising funds to send anti-slave settlers to Kansas.
Equally outraged Southerners sent their own settlers, and a brutish group known as Border Ruffians from slaveholding Missouri went into Kansas to make trouble for the abolitionists. Into this unfortunate mix came an abolitionist fanatic named John Brown riding with his sons and gang. And as the murders and massacres began to pile up, newspapers throughout the land carried headlines of ''Bleeding Kansas.''
In the halls of Congress, the slavery issue had prompted feuds, insults, duels and finally a divisive gag rule that forbade even discussion or debate on petitions about the issue of slavery. But during the Kansas controversy a confrontation between a senator and a congressman stood out as particularly shocking. In 1856, Charles Sumner, a 45-year-old Massachusetts senator and abolitionist, conducted a three-hour rant in the Senate chamber against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, focusing in particular on 59-year-old South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, whom he mocked and compared to a pimp, ''having taken as his mistress the harlot, Slavery.'' Two days later Congressman Preston Brooks, a nephew of the demeaned South Carolinian, appeared beside Sumner's desk in the Senate and caned him nearly to death with a gold-headed gutta-percha walking stick.
By then, every respectable-sized city, North and South, had a half-dozen newspapers and even small towns had at least one or more; and the revolutionary new telegraph brought the latest news overnight or sooner. Throughout the North, the caning incident triggered profound indignation that was transformed into support for a new anti-slavery political party. In the election of 1856, the new Republican Party ran explorer John C. Fr(C)mont, the famed ''Pathfinder,'' for president, and even though he lost, the party had become a force to be reckoned with.
In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its infamous Dred Scott decision, which elated Southerners and enraged Northerners. The court ruled, in essence, that a slave was not a citizen, or even a person, and that slaves were ''so far inferior that they [have] no rights which the white man [is] bound to respect.'' Southerners were relieved that they could now move their slaves in and out of free territories and states without losing them, while in the North the ruling merely drove more people into the anti-slavery camp.
Then in 1859, John Brown, of Bleeding Kansas notoriety, staged a murderous raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va., hoping to inspire a general slave uprising. The raid was thwarted by U.S. troops, and Brown was tried for treasonand hanged; but when it came out that he was being financed by Northern abolitionists, Southern anger was profuse and furious'--especially after the Northern press elevated Brown to the status of hero and martyr. It simply reinforced the Southern conviction that Northerners were out to destroy their way of life.
As the crucial election of 1860 approached, there arose talk of Southern secession by a group of ''fire-eaters'''-- influential orators who insisted Northern ''fanatics'' intended to free slaves ''by law if possible, by force if necessary.'' Hectoring abolitionist newspapers and Northern orators (known as Black, or Radical Republicans) provided ample fodder for that conclusion.
The 1850s drew to a close in near social convulsion and the established political parties began to break apart'--always a dangerous sign. The Whigs simply vanished into other parties; the Democrats split into Northern and Southern contingents, each with its own slate of candidates. A Constitutional Union party also appeared, looking for votes from moderates in the Border States. As a practical matter, all of this assured a victory for the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, who was widely, if wrongly, viewed in the South as a rabid abolitionist. With the addition of Minnesota (1858) and Oregon (1859) as free states, the Southerners' greatest fears were about to be realized'--complete control of the federal government by free-state, anti-slavery politicians.
With the vote split four ways, Lincoln and the Republicans swept into power in November 1860, gaining a majority of the Electoral College, but only a 40 percent plurality of the popular vote. It didn't matter to the South. In short order, always pugnacious South Carolina voted to secede from the Union, followed by six other Deep South states that were invested heavily in cotton.
Much of the Southern apprehension and ire that Lincoln would free the slaves was misplaced. No matter how distasteful he found the practice of slavery, the overarching philosophy that drove Lincoln was a hard pragmatism that did not include the forcible abolition of slavery by the federal government'--for the simple reason that he could not envision any political way of accomplishing it. But Lincoln, like a considerable number of Northern people, was decidedly against allowing slavery to spread into new territories and states. By denying slaveholders the right to extend their boundaries, Lincoln would in effect also be weakening their power in Washington, and over time this would almost inevitably have resulted in the abolition of slavery, as sooner or later the land would have worn out.
But that wasn't bad enough for the Southern press, which whipped up the populace to such a pitch of fury that Lincoln became as reviled as John Brown himself. These influential journals, from Richmond to Charleston and myriad points in between, painted a sensational picture of Lincoln in words and cartoons as an arch-abolitionist'--a kind of antichrist who would turn the slaves loose to rape, murder and pillage. For the most part, Southerners ate it up. If there is a case to be made on what caused the Civil War, the Southern press and its editors would be among the first in the dock. It goes a long way in explaining why only one in three Confederate soldiers were slaveholders, or came from slaveholding families. It wasn't their slaves they were defending, it was their homes against the specter of slaves-gone-wild.
Interestingly, many if not most of the wealthiest Southerners were opposed to secession for the simple reason that they had the most to lose if it came to war and the war went badly. But in the end they, like practically everyone else, were swept along on the tide of anti-Washington, anti-abolition, anti-Northern and anti-Lincoln rhetoric.
To a lesser extent, the Northern press must accept its share of blame for antagonizing Southerners by damning and lampooning them as brutal lash-wielding torturers and heartless family separators. With all this back and forth carrying on for at least the decade preceding war, by the time hostilities broke out, few either in the North or the South had much use for the other, and minds were set. One elderly Tennessean later expressed it this way: ''I wish there was a river of fire a mile wide between the North and the South, that would burn with unquenchable fury forevermore, and that it could never be passable to the endless ages of eternity by any living creature.''
The immediate cause of Southern secession, therefore, was a fear that Lincoln and the Republican Congress would have abolished the institution of slavery'--which would have ruined fortunes, wrecked the Southern economy and left the South to contend with millions of freed blacks. The long-term cause was a feeling by most Southerners that the interests of the two sections of the country had drifted apart, and were no longer mutual or worthwhile.
The proximate cause of the war, however, was Lincoln's determination not to allow the South to go peacefully out of the Union, which would have severely weakened, if not destroyed, the United States.
There is the possibility that war might have been avoided, and a solution worked out, had there not been so much mistrust on the part of the South. Unfortunately, some of the mistrust was well earned in a bombastic fog of hatred, recrimination and outrageous statements and accusations on both sides. Put another way, it was well known that Lincoln was anti-slavery, but both during his campaign for office and after his election, he insisted it was never his intention to disturb slavery where it already existed. The South simply did not believe him.
The Lincoln administration was able to quell secession movements in several Border States'--Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and what would become West Virginia'--by a combination of politics and force, including suspension of the Bill of Rights. But when Lincoln ordered all states to contribute men for an army to suppress the rebellion South Carolina started by firing on Fort Sumter, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina also joined the Confederacy rather than make war on their fellow Southerners.
''Because of incompatibility of temper,'' a Southern woman was prompted to lament, ''we have hated each other so. If we could only separate, a 'separation a l'agreable,' as the French say it, and not have a horrid fight for divorce.''
Things had come a long way during the nearly 250 years since the Dutchman delivered his cargo of African slaves to the wharf at Jamestown, but in 1860 almost everyone agreed that a war wouldn't last long. Most thought it would be over by summertime.
Article originally published in the September 2010 issue of America's Civil War.
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How's your mental hygiene today john?
Mental Hygiene Law - Admissions Process
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 01:38
MHL Admission StandardWho Applies for/Initiates Request for Hospital EvaluationWho examines at Time of ApplicationAvailable TransportWho Evaluates at Hospital Prior to AdmissionWho ConfirmsDuration of Hospital StayVoluntary (§9.13) Standard: person has a mental illness for which care and treatment in a mental hospital is appropriate; person is suitable for admission on a voluntary basisPatient makes application. (For patients under 18, see reverse #1)[Form OMH 472](See " Who Evaluates at Hospital Prior to Admission")Peace/police officers/ambulance service may transport at patient's request. [No form]Staff MD of any hospital* must confirm that the person meets the Voluntary Standard.[Form OMH 472]'-- '-- '--Indefinite.Patient to notify hospital in writing prior to leaving. If director objects, he or she must apply within 72 hours for a court order of retention. (MHL §9.13 (b))Informal (§9.15)Standard: person has a mental illness for which care & treatment in a mental hospital is appropriate; person is suitable for admission on an informal basis and does not pose a substantial threat of harm to self or others.Patient makes oral request - no written application. (Patient is served with written notice of status and rights upon admission.)(No application)Peace/police officers/ambulance service may transport at patient's request. [No form]Staff MD of any hospital* (See reverse #2) should confirm that the person meets the Informal Standard.[No form]'-- '-- '--Indefinite.Patient must be permitted to leave at any time while on informal status.Involuntary - Two Physician Certificate (§9.27)Standard: person has a mental illness for which care & treatment in a mental hospital is essential to his/her welfare; person's judgment is too impaired for him/her to understand the need for such care and treatment; as a result of his/her mental illness, the person poses a substantial threat of harm to self or others. (See reverse #3)Any of eleven parties may make application. (See reverse #4)[Form OMH 471]Two MDs using InvoluntaryStandard[Form OMH 471A]Peace/police officers/ambulanceservice may transport at examining MD's request[Form OMH 471B]Staff psychiatrist of any hospital,* other than one of the two original certifying MDs, must examine and confirm that the person meets the involuntary standard.[Form OMH 471]'-- '-- '--Up to 60 days.** Patient may be held involuntarily beyond 60 days if the hospital applies for a court order of retention and the court is satisfied the patient continues to meet the Involuntary Standard. (MHL §9.33)Involuntary - Director of Community Services (DCS) or Designee (§9.37)Standard: same as Emergency StandardDCS or Designee makes application.[Form OMH 475]DCS or Designee using Emergency Standard. (See reverse #5)[Form OMH 475A/475B]Peace/police officers must transport at DCS or Designee's request.Ambulance service is authorized to transport.[Form OMH 475]Staff MD of any hospital* must confirm that the person meets the Emergency Standard.[Form OMH 475C]Staff psychiatrist must, within 72 hours after admission, (excluding Sundays and Holidays) examine and certify that the patient meets the involuntary §9.27 Standard. [Form OMH 475D]Up to 60 days.** Patient may be held involuntarily beyond 60 days if the hospital applies for a court order of retention and the court is satisfied the patient continues to meet the Involuntary Standard. (MHL §9.33)Emergency (§9.39)Standard: reasonable cause to believe that the person has a mental illness for which immediate observation, care and treatment in a hospital is appropriate and which is likely to result in serious harm to him/ herself or others. "Likelihood of serious harm" means:a substantial risk of physical harm to the person as manifested by threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm or other conduct demonstrating that the person is dangerous to him/herself (See reverse #6). ora substantial risk of physical harm to other persons as manifested by homicidal or other violent behavior by which others are placed in reasonable fear of serious physical harm.In accordance with each appropriate section of the MHL the following parties may initiate (no application):§9.39 Not specified§9.41 Peace or police officers. (See reverse #7)§9.43 Court (through Civil Order).§9.45DCS or Designee. (See reverse #8)§9.55 Qualified psychiatrist supervising or providing treatment in an OMH licensed or operated facility without a psychiatric inpatient unit. (See reverse #9)§9.57 Director of a general hospital without a psychiatric inpatient unit, upon the recommendation of an Emergency Room MD; or, director of a C.P.E.P., upon the recommendation of a C.P.E.P.MD. (See reverse #9)§9.58 Mobile Crisis Outreach Team physician or qualified mentalhealth professional. (See reverse #10)(No application)Peace/police officers must transport at initiator's request. Ambulance service is authorized to transport.[A-F: Form OMH 474A/476A][G: Form OMH 482]Staff MD of §9.39 hospital must examine and determine that the person meets the Emergency Standard.[Form OMH 474]Staff psychiatrist must, within 48 hours after admission, examine the patient and confirm the first MD's finding that the patient meets the Emergency Standard.[Form OMH 474]Up to 15 days.** Patient may be held involuntarily beyond 15 days if he/she meets the Involuntary Standard and is converted to a §9.27 involuntary admission, in accordance with the process described above.*** (MHL §9.39 (b))C.P.E.P.**** Emergency (§9.40)Standard: person may have a mental illness for which immediate observation, care and treatment in a C.P.E.P. is appropriate and which is likely to result in serious harm to him/herself or others. "Likelihood of serious harm" means:a substantial risk of physical harm to the person as manifested by threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm or other conduct demonstrating that the person is dangerous to him/herself (See reverse #6). ora substantial risk of physical harm to other persons as manifested by homicidal or other violent behavior by which others are placed in reasonable fear of serious physical harm.In accordance with each appropriate section of the MHL the following parties may initiate (no application):§9.40 Not specified§9.41§9.43§9.45§9.55§9.57§9.58{A-G are the Same as for Emergency (§9.39) Admission}(No application)Peace/police officers must transport at initiator's request Ambulance service is authorized to transport.[A-F: Form OMH 474A/476A][G: Form OMH 482]Staff MD of C.P.E.P. must, within 6 hours after the person is received in the C.P.E.P. emergency room examine and determine that he/ she meets the C.P.E.P. Emergency Standard.[Form OMH 476]Staff psychiatrist must, within 24 hours after the patient is received in the C.P.E.P. emergency room, examine the patient and confirm the first MD's finding that the patient meets the C.P.E.P. Emergency Standard (in which case the patient must be moved to an extended observation bed).[Form OMH 476]Up to 72 hours (after which the patient must be discharged from C.P.E.P.). ** Patient may subsequently be held involuntarily if he/she meets the Involuntary Standard (§9.27) or Emergency Standard (§9.39) and is admitted to an appropriate facility in accordance with the processes described above.*****(MHL §9.40 (e) (f))* As defined in MHL §1.03 (10). Includes any facility operated or certified by OMH which provides inpatient care or treatment of the mentally ill, including a certified ward, wing or unit of a general hospital.
** Note that the patient (or the patient's representative) may, at any time, request a court hearing regarding the patient's commitment, which generally must be held within 5 days after receipt of the request. If the court denies the application for the patient's release, and the patient is on involuntary status under §9.27 or §9.37, he/she may be held for the remainder of the 60-day commitment period or for up to 30 days, after the application for release is denied, whichever is later.
*** Note that such patient's 60-day commitment period will be calculated from the day he/she was first admitted under §9.39.
**** Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program.
***** Note that such patient's 60-day commitment period (pursuant to §9.27) or 15-day commitment period (pursuant to §9.39) will be calculated from the time he/she was initially received in the C.P.E.P. emergency room.
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Presidential Proclamation -- World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:09
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 09, 2015
WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
All people deserve the opportunity to live healthy, rewarding lives. No American should have their potential limited, have their life cut short, or be deprived of their fullest measure of happiness because they do not have the mental health support they need. On World Suicide Prevention Day, we reaffirm our belief that mental health is an essential part of overall health, and together, we renew our commitment to supporting and empowering all Americans to seek the care they need.
Suicide is often related to serious depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions. That is why recognizing severe psychological distress and ensuring access to the care and services needed to diagnose and treat mental illness are crucial to our efforts to prevent suicide. Individuals can also experience emotional and mental health crises in response to a wide range of situations -- from difficulties in personal relationships to the loss of a job to bullying at school. And for some of our Nation's veterans and military service members, these challenges are compounded by the invisible wounds of war. Tragically, these crises can sometimes involve thoughts of suicide -- and we must do more to support those suffering.
All Americans can take part in promoting mental well-being and preventing suicide. Everyone can contribute to a culture where individuals are supported and accepted for who they are -- no matter what they look like, who they love, or what challenges they face -- and where it is okay to ask for help. We can do more to recognize the signs of mental health issues early and encourage those in need to reach out for support. And we must remind our loved ones that seeking treatment is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. If you or someone you know is in need of help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers immediate assistance for all Americans at 1-800-273-TALK. Veterans, service members, and their loved ones can call this number to reach the Veterans Crisis Line, and they can also send a text message to 838255.
The Affordable Care Act extends mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to over 60 million Americans, helping men and women across our country access critical care. Protections under the health care law prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like a diagnosis of mental illness, and require most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays, including behavioral assessments for children and depression screenings.
In February, I was proud to sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act to help fill serious gaps in serving veterans with post-traumatic stress and other illnesses. This law builds upon our ongoing efforts to end the tragedy of suicide among our troops and veterans. Last year, I announced 19 Executive actions to make it easier for service members and veterans to access the care they need when they need it, and our Government has focused additional resources on mental health services, including increasing the number of mental health providers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
My Administration is also committed to doing all we can to empower those facing challenges and hardship. We are dedicated to combating bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our schools and communities. We are doing more to guarantee all veterans and members of our Armed Forces -- as well as their families -- get the help they deserve while they are serving our Nation, as they transition to civilian life, and long after they have returned home. And across the Federal Government, we are working to ensure all Americans are supported in times of crisis.
Suicide prevention is the responsibility of all people. One small act -- the decision to reach out to your neighbor, offer support to a friend, or encourage a veteran in need to seek help -- can make a difference. It can help energize a national conversation and a changing attitude across America. If you are hurting, know this: You are not forgotten. You are never alone. Your country is here for you, and help is available. As we pause to raise awareness of the importance of suicide prevention, let us remember all those we have lost and the loved ones they left behind. As one people, we stand with all who struggle with mental illness, and we continue our work to prevent this heartbreak in our communities.
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 September 10, 2015, as World Suicide Prevention Day. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise awareness of the mental health resources and support services available in their communities and encourage all those in need to seek the care and treatment necessary for a long and healthy life.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
# # #
Presidential Proclamation: Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2015
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:09
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2015
PATRIOT DAY AND NATIONAL DAY OF SERVICE AND REMEMBRANCE, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
On September 11, 2001, America experienced the worst terrorist attack in her history when nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were taken from us, leaving their families and our Nation with a void that can never be filled. But those who brought hate to our shores and smoke to our skies did not expect our country to emerge stronger, and our beacons of hope and freedom to shine brighter as a result. In the years since, we have stood strong as one people '‘'‘ determined to further embolden our country's character with acts of endurance and strength; rebuilding and resilience; renewal and progress. In remembrance of the innocent victims who lost their lives and in honor of the families they left behind, let us continue to answer these heinous acts by serving our communities, lifting the lives of our fellow citizens, and spreading the hope that others tried to dim that day.
The compassion that rose in the hearts and minds of the American people on September 11 still serves as the ultimate rebuke to the evil of those who attacked us. First responders who risked and gave their lives to rescue others demonstrated the unwavering heroism that defines our great Nation. Volunteers donated time, money, and blood to ensure wounds gave way to healing and recovery. Young people, raised until then in a time of peace, stepped forward to serve and defend us, and meet the threats of our time. And people from across our country and the world joined together in the days that followed to stand up and turn toward one another with open arms, making of a tragedy something the terrorists could never abide '‘'‘ a tribute of hope over fear, and love over hate.
As we reflect on the lives we lost and pay tribute to the families who still live with extraordinary pain, let us resolve to continue embodying the American spirit that no act of terror can ever extinguish. I call on all Americans to observe this National Day of Service and Remembrance with acts of selflessness and charity. In doing so, we prove once again that the power of those who seek to harm and to destroy is never greater than our power to persevere and to build. I encourage everyone to visit www.Serve.gov to learn of the many opportunities available to give back to others and to reaffirm the fundamental truth that we are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers, and that we can forge a brighter future together.
Today, we continue our unfaltering march forward, enduring in the perennial optimism that drives us and brightening the light that the darkness of evil can never overcome. We remember and yearn for the presence of the beautiful lives lost, and we recommit to honoring their memories by shaping the days to come '‘'‘ in as stark a contrast as possible to those who took them from us '‘'‘ with courage, liberty, and love.
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day," and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized "National Day of Service and Remembrance."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2015, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Grandparents Day, 2015
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
NATIONAL GRANDPARENTS DAY, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Across America, grandparents are loving pillars of comfort and support. After a lifetime of giving back to their families and communities, grandmothers and grandfathers continue to offer compassion and wisdom to their loved ones and inspire us to be our best selves. On National Grandparents Day, we honor the sacrifices they make and continue to show our affection and appreciation for them.
We owe so much of who we are and what we have to our grandparents. With grit and dedication, they helped define a new age and open doors of opportunity for us all. From overcoming the depths of economic collapse to fighting to defend our liberty on battlefields around the world, their determination to ensure we could live better lives than they did helped secure our peace and prosperity. They created the world's largest economy and strongest middle class. They built skyscrapers, made innovative advances, and charted new frontiers. They broke down barriers and instilled fundamental values and ideals. And the extraordinary example they set in striving to forge a better future for their families and our Nation reflects the idea that we are all part of something larger than ourselves.
Today, grandparents continue serving as quiet heroes in every corner of our country. From reading bedtime stories to their grandchildren to volunteering in their communities to acting as primary caregivers, they work hard each and every day while showing love and kindness to their families and those around them. Let us continue to show them the same, and let us forever honor their tremendous efforts to nurture, guide, and drive us in all we do.
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 September 13, 2015, as National Grandparents Day. I call upon all Americans to take the time to honor their own grandparents and those in their community.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, 2015
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2015
NATIONAL DAYS OF PRAYER AND REMEMBRANCE, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Fourteen years ago, the peace of a beautiful morning was broken. The events of September 11, 2001, left a permanent mark on the spirit of every American, and our Nation is forever changed. Nearly 3,000 precious lives were taken, and their loved ones were forced to face an unthinkable grief. As we pay tribute to the innocents we lost and the first responders who put themselves in harm's way -- some even giving their own lives for their fellow citizens -- we also recognize the families whose love abides, and we reaffirm the truth that resonates in the heart of our Nation: that we will never forget that day.
Guided by a steadfast belief in the power of good over evil, people from every corner of our country came together in the aftermath of the attacks to lift each other up and restore our communities. Bound by a common sense of hope, Americans united across faiths and traditions to reject hate and work together toward a better future.
In memory of those we lost, we resolved to shape a world where events like those of September 11, 2001, could never happen again, and we see this unbreakable spirit live on every day across America. We see it in the courage of first responders who carry the memories of fallen partners with them as they continue safeguarding their communities -- prepared to make the same sacrifice for us all. We see it in the gleaming New York City Freedom Tower, which rose high where the buildings once fell. We see it in the example of extraordinary bravery set by the men and women who fought back in the Pennsylvania sky. We see it in the legacy of those killed while serving in the Pentagon, which is reflected in the enduring courage of our troops, veterans, and military families. We see it in the selflessness of all those who sacrificed to bring justice to those responsible, and who continue to defend our liberty. And as a result, we will forever march forward as a stronger people, under God and indivisible, toward a brighter day.
As we solemnly reflect on those taken from us too soon by acts of depravity, let us continue to stand with their loved ones and recommit to forging a tomorrow where the sun sets on an America that knows everlasting freedom, security, and peace.
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 Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2015, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that the people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
Presidential Proclamation -- National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, 2015
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:07
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2015
NATIONAL HISPANIC-SERVING INSTITUTIONS WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Our higher education system is one of the crown jewels of our Nation, and investing in it is a hallmark of America. In an economy where knowledge is the most valuable asset, the best way to get ahead and ensure mobility to the middle class is to earn a college degree. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) help make the promise a college education provides a reality for many Hispanic students across our country, enabling them to secure a better future for themselves and their families. This week, let us recognize the tremendous impact these institutions have and rededicate ourselves to continuing our support of their valuable work.
An education can broaden horizons and empower us to be better people and better citizens, and no one should be left out of that opportunity. Roughly one-quarter of students in our Nation's public schools today are Hispanic, yet less than one-fifth of Hispanics in the United States have a college degree. HSIs help address this disparity, moving us closer to the day when we have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. HSIs serve more than half of our Nation's undergraduate Hispanics, and they work to provide more Americans -- especially low- and middle-income students -- with the chance to thrive in an institution of higher learning.
Hispanics are projected to account for almost one-third of our Nation's population by 2060, and ensuring they have access to the best education possible is important to securing America's success. In the last few years, we have seen the dropout rates for Hispanics significantly decrease, while college enrollment has steadily risen. But more work remains to be done to ensure all our people can realize the American dream, and that is why my Administration has pledged $1 billion in funding over the course of this decade to support HSIs. Additionally, I announced a plan that would open doors of opportunity for millions of people by making community college free for responsible students willing to work hard -- because in America, nobody should be denied a college education simply because they do not have the resources to pay for it.
At the heart of our country is a basic bargain: that with determination and grit, you can get ahead -- no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from. By working to provide many Hispanics with the chance they deserve to get a higher education, HSIs embody this truth and pull the country we all call home a little closer to its founding ideals: that all 2 of us are created equal and all of us should have the chance to make of our lives what we will. This week, let us recommit to strengthening these institutions and pledge our support to all who attend them.
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 September 14 through September 20, 2015, as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week. I call on public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that acknowledge the many ways these institutions and their graduates contribute to our country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
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PR
ILOVELAUNDRYTOUR.COM
Ahmed the Bomber
FacePage responses to Ahmed, Texas are racists!
Why wasn't the school evacuated?
"He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward."
The kid showed it to his engineering teacher. The teacher didn't care. It might be because there's no engineering program so he's a ghost. So the kid throws it in his bag. He knew it would go off during class because he "invented" it.
Migrants
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Gülen said Germany first. Witness the "migrants"
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Facebook vows to help Germany combat racist, xenophobic content - CNET
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 05:43
Facebook is stepping up efforts to remove racist content posted on its German website as the country grapples with an overwhelming influx of refugees.
Germany's Justice minister, Heiko Maas, said after meeting with Facebook executives Monday that the social-networking giant had agreed to work with an Internet watchdog to identify and remove content deemed hateful or xenophobic, according to a Reuters report. The partnership comes just days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Facebook to do more to combat racist comments and hate posts on the social network's German version.
"This is a joint task for the whole of society, and I am very grateful to Facebook that they are taking their responsibly in this joint task," Maas told a news conference in Berlin, according to Reuters.
Facebook pledges to help Germany identify and remove racist and hateful posts.Kim Kulish/Corbis
Facebook, which relies on user reports to deal with offensive or prohibited content, has also formed a partnership with Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers, a German watchdog group that monitors online hate speech.
The social network also plans to create a task force to examine the issue of hate speech, inviting community groups, companies and politicians to share their expertise on the topic. The company also plans to launch a broad campaign to promote a counter campaign that will debate and challenge the views of xenophobia.
"The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than 1 billion people," Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, Facebook policy manager in Germany, said in a statement. "It is a constant challenge to balance the interests of this diverse population and we are always looking for ways to make our policies and processes more effective and sensitive to the concerns of local communities."
The announcement underscores the challenge of policing social networks across international borders where there are different standards for what is considered free speech. In Germany, for example, criminal law bans public incitement of hatred against a segment of the population based on its national, racial, ethnic or religious background. Violation of the law is punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
Maas accused the social network in August of not doing enough to thwart racist comments and hateful posts, saying in a letter to Facebook Public Policy Director Richard Allan that he had received many complaints from users that their protests over racists posts had been ignored.
German officials made the request for stepped up policing in the face of a surge of asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq. Germany is now taking in 50,000 refugees each week and expects to have more than 800,000 by the end of the year.
The Menlo Park, California-based company updated its community standards in March to clarify the content that people are and aren't allowed to share. Facebook has also said that it may geographically target areas in accordance with laws of specific countries, even if the content doesn't violate the Facebook's standards.
That revision followed efforts by social networks across the Internet to respond to a rising tide of high-profile posts, tweets and photos that have upset and offended many users. The actor Robin Williams' death in last summer led some Twitter users to send vicious messages to his daughter Zelda, prompting her to delete the app from her phone. That same month, Anita Sarkeesian, an academic highlighting how women are portrayed in video games, was so disturbed by the tweets she received that she fled her home for fear of safety.
In February, Dick Costolo, Twitter's then-CEO, took personal responsibility for what he called an inadequate response to the chronic abuse and harassment that occurs daily on the social network, saying that he believed the bullying behavior is driving away users.
Over the last several months, the community-curated news site Reddit has been caught in a maelstrom of controversy over its policies regarding the freewheeling commentary that has made it a sometime symbol of the Internet's darker side and led to the departure of a number of prominent employees.
Updated at 10:45 p.m. PTwith Facebook statement.
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EXCERPT:
For that answer, let's go to the globalist experts on dealing with various manufactured ''crises'', shall we?
The following quotes are from the International Crisis Group made up of folks like George Soros , Thomas R. Pickering and Lawrence Summers just to name a few. (for reference: ''The independence of Crisis Group's board members has been criticized[12] and the ICG has been criticized for ''serving Western interests''.[13] A July 2014 special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together 10 critiques of the organisation from the Left.[14] )
The current wavelet of refugees arriving in Europe '' a very small number compared to the throngs scratching out a bare living in Syria's immediate neighbourhood '' suggests how close to full-to-capacity Syria's neighbours are, absent a further major new injection of funds. If we can't stop the war, for now, let's at least do what we can: find ways to make life moderately bearable for these people in the safety of their countries of first refuge'...
We think it (the ''refugee crisis'') might offer the opportunity for the U.S., in particular, to create a zone free of aerial attacks (which wreak the greatest destruction, especially through the use of barrel bombs)'...
So what we are left with '' as we continue attempts to feel out stakeholders' evolving positions, hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough '' is a three-pronged approach to the refugee crisis: we should pursue ways to lower the levels of violence in Syria (for instance by dissuading or stopping the regime from using barrel bombs); pour vastly more funds into efforts to help the displaced in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries to sustain themselves where they are; and address the problem of desperate on-migration by accommodating refugees as they arrive in Europe, the Gulf and elsewhere'...
The priority should be to explore ways to construct a viable transition in Syria, but premised on the acknowledgment that little progress will be possible if key stakeholders do not have some guarantee that their core interests in a future Syria will be safeguarded. International Crisis Group an influential globalist think-tank
Understanding The Refugee ''Crisis'' of 2015 (or'... Enter the ''Refugee Truther'') | American Everyman
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:09
by Scott Creighton
UPDATE:Germany is demanding Facebook help their efforts by removing posts that are critical of their efforts to demand refugees are accepted across Europe
''German Justice Minister Heiko Maas wants Facebook Inc. to remove racist posts targeting asylum seekers after several attacks on refugee camps in Germany over the past week.''
'--'--'--''
At a time when everyone was being told we had to STOPKONY from killing all the children, I and a few others braved the rampages of the online thought police and wrote the truth about the fraudulent propaganda campaign. It didn't take long for the leader of that particular marketing campaign to wind up naked and high as a kite on the side of the road and as a result, his astroturfing campaign subsequently crashed into the rocky shoreline. Yet the campaign to recolonize Africa continues to this day unfortunately.
By the same token, a few days after alleged shooting of Malala, when we were being told we HAD to ''LOVE MALALA!'' or else, I and a few others were writing about the ridiculousness of the story and I even went so far as to suggest it was all about pushing an agenda of global for-profit charter school systems which would serve the interests of the masters of the universe in many, many ways. Turns out, with her fake little scar and her fake Peace Prize, Malala is busy spending her days running around promoting global for-profit charter school systems that will teach poor kids around the world of the wonders of Westernized neoliberal, free market ideology. She now lives in London of course.
Do I even need to mention the ''Snowden truthers'' and the scores of ''alternative'' truth-tellers like Dave Lindorff who attacked us for simply investigating and writing the truth about what was really going on? Do I need to mention the ''Freedom'' Act and the privatization of the surveillance state which is what I said the ''Snowden'' psyop was all about from the start?
How about the American Gladio campaign, which is apparently still going on today. Or the fake ''ISIS'' threat always showing up in nations Barack Obama needs to bomb into (or BACK into) submission?
Contrary to how it might appear, I'm not patting myself on the back, though I know my detractors will say I am.
What I am doing is pointing out that whenever a major agenda unfolds, whenever the ''crisis'' in support of that agenda takes shape, for one reason or another, you can always count on a certain measure of ''truth-tellers'' to get on board with the official narrative (at least in principle if not in totality) in the early stages of the effort and in recent years there have been very few programs bigger in scope and reach than the recolonization of Africa, the global for-profit ''education'' of third world populations and the fascist privatization of the surveillance state. Yes, they need to strip US citizens of certain constitutional rights and they need to do that on a very selective basis, hence ''common sense'' gun legislation via ''mental hygiene'' laws. And they need an ever shifting continuous threat for the long war, the endless war, the covert drone strike war at all places at all times. Thus, fake mass casualty events and fake beheading videos. But don't let certain ''truth-tellers'' hear you speak about those.
That's kinda like asking certain ''truthers'' what hit the Pentagon or what happened to the 80 or so security camera videos the FBI took from surrounding locations minutes after the attack.
Today, there is another ''crisis'' brewing and a number of ''truth-tellers'' don't want to go anywhere near the truth of the matter. But I will. Because that is what I do.
So let's talk about the sanctified story of the ''refugee crisis'' and how it's being used for a number of various globalist agendas.
Who says it's being used for globalist agendas? Well they do of course. You just have to know where to look.
Yep. Let the wholesale slandering of the ''refugee truther'' begin. It's alright. I can take it.
The Syrian refugee 'crisis' is NOT a result of President Obama's four year effort to force regime change in Syria via a unconventional warfare campaign of terrorist destabilization.
The refugees are a partly result of terror campaign being waged by Obama and his various Wahhabist allies in Saudi Arabia. But not the ''crisis'' as it is being presented today. We have to make a distinction between the two things.
Let's face the facts. There are a number of displaced persons in Syria and from Syria who find themselves in that unenviable position because Barack Obama has been allowed to do the bidding of the masters of the universe by employing scores of ''moderate'' destabilization mercenaries who have been caught killing civilians, destroying key infrastructure and even using sarin gas chemical weapons in Syria.
Now Obama has unleashed the CIA to run drone strike campaigns in the country which end up killing vastly more civilians than they do ''terrorists''
Recent propaganda videos have been the catalyst for various nations who were sitting on the sidelines prior to their publication and these nations now pretend to hold a mandate from their civilian populations to join in with the Coalition of the Willing in an effort to bomb certain areas of Syria back into the stone ages.
These are unremarkable facts of the history of this regime change operation requiring no level of ''conspiracy theory'' to understand them and more importantly, to accept them.
So it makes perfect sense that in certain areas of Syria, areas targeted by the Obama administration to be considered ''lawless'' and without governmental legitimacy, citizens of these areas would rather flee their life-long homes and communities rather than being forced to live under the new invading regime. It's what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya for instance.
For that matter, it's the same thing that happened in Poland and across the rest of Europe as the German military machine rolled into their countries.
The same thing that happens in the West Bank as illegal home demolitions and the creeping scourge of illegal Israeli settlements continue unabated.
Wars of naked aggression, be they overt or covert, hard or ''soft'' power, produce refugees. That's a fact and one that the fake progressive left has to accept is a direct consequence of their beloved Peace Prize wearing president. It's not the mythical ''barrel bombs'' of Assad that cause this: it's globalist, free market wars of conquest that Barack Obama has continued and escalated since promising all that ''CHANGE'' back in 2008. And that cannot be denied.
However, given that, what's really behind this sudden concern over the ''refugee crisis'' from the complicit corporate media and Obama's State Department? Were is this coming from after 4 years in Syria, 11 years in Iraq and 14 years bombing and occupying Afghanistan?
Why now?
First of all, let's look at the various ''hearts and minds'' propaganda efforts surrounding this sudden development of a moral center among the mainstream media outlets who openly applaud things like ''humanitarian bombings'', enhanced interrogation and Shock and Awe answers to phony WMD threats.
And that's to say nothing of collect cricket noises we heard coming from the MSM in response to the IDF killing over 500 children in Gaza last year.
Anyone notice a theme developing in the following stories from just today and yesterday?
Need another set of clues?
Do I really need to go on? I can you know.
What you are looking at is a concerted effort (via a talking points memo more than likely) to put a child's face on the ''refugee crisis'' in order to sell it more effectively to the general public.
As you can see, historically, this marketing strategy has a well developed history. Some campaigns met with success. Others, less so. But it is undeniable that the spin masters who think they hold the real keys to control in this country are clearly engaging in a ''wont someone think of the children'' marketing campaign in order to gin up support for their ''refugee crisis'' solutions.
Very few will tell you how the general population really feels about this new developing ''crisis'' but some will. In fact, if you look closely, they will also provide a little insight into the purpose of the child-centric campaign.
As a researcher focusing for more than a decade on inequality and the stigmatisation of working-class people and communities, particularly connected to council estates, I fear what will follow this summer's refugee crisis. Harrowing images of people being packed into trains, and children's bodies washed up on beaches has led to an almost involuntary reaction to offer help among European people who still live with the legacies of the 1939-45 war. As a result, the government policy U-turn means that Britain can now take in refugees and the chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that some of the £12bn international aid budget can be offered to local councils to help house refugees in the UK'...
My research over many years in poor and structurally disadvantaged community's shows clearly that fear and anger are ever present. The constant competition for limited resources, whether social and physical, like housing and state benefits, or symbolic resources, such as value and respect, generate an acute anxiety among communities that are being squeezed by a government. Guardian
Yes, marketing like we have seen developing produces ''an almost involuntary reaction'' of support, doesn't it? In support of what though is the key question.
When I simply Google ''refugees'' and then take a peek at current images circulating around the interwebs, do I see mainly children in those images? No. I see this:
Yes, there are professionally produced, heart rendering images of children lying on beaches, wet children being bravely walked out of the surf and desperate looking kids holding up signs, in English of course, with a whole bunch of young men sitting behind them in camps halfway around the world who haven't a clue what the sign they hold really says.
Hey. You want to make $5 kid? Sit over here, hold this sign and look at the camera. Great. Here you go.
All of these heart breaking images certainly exist and yes, there are certainly displaced families in Syria and elsewhere who are currently being sought out and photographed right at this very moment.
But there are displaced families in Yemen we are bombing right now. Where are the calls to stop the Saudis? Why aren't we pushing for a no-fly zone over them?
And there are STILL displaced families in Haiti in spite of the billions of dollars Sleazy Bill Clinton embezzled from the global donations meant to help them relocate. What about those kids? Can no one figure out how to work a camera down there?
And that's too say nothing of displaced families in Detroit, New Orleans and all across America as a result of Great Sub-Prime Loan economic terrorism leveled at working middle class families not that long ago. Were is their tear-jerking MSM campaign?
I think it's clear that we are being sold a bill of goods here. TPTB understand as bad as things really are in this country and other Westernized nations across Europe, the last thing people want/need at this point is a wave of new, desperate, working age young men rolling into their countries to further depress the wage structure.
Now whether you agree with that assessment of the predictable results of this integration, you cannot deny it is a fear, legitimate or not, that many struggling working class people in these countries will have.
So clearly, playing up the children aspect of this ''refugee crisis'' provides those who are pushing it a certain advantage when it comes to swaying public opinion or at least silencing certain dissent.
Do we know this is an orchestrated campaign from TPTB, this push to force various nations to accept untold numbers of refugees? Yes we do.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called for a special EU refugee summit, urging unity after an angry reaction to a suggestion by one of her ministers that states that did not take in their share of asylum seekers could face financial penalties.
The proposal by interior minister Thomas de Maiziere was forcefully rejected by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are among eastern European states that have resisted European Union plans to share out refugees.
Merkel later took a more conciliatory tone, calling for Europe to come together on the refugee issue. NBC
Apparently someone let the cat out of the bag a little early and now Merkel has to hold a summit so she and the other globalist lapdogs in power can twist arms and make threats behind closed doors.
According to Merkel and the folks she really serves, it is imperative that certain nations open their doors for easy access to these mostly young, military age undocumented and mainly Muslim (Wahhabist?) men sent to them by the same power structure that sent Wahhabist mercs to places like Syria, Libya and Afghanistan not that long ago.
And perhaps a clue to at least one real agenda behind all of this is hiding in the revelation of those states opposed to this mandatory open immigration policy.
Facing opposition from ex-Communist states, EU ministers failed on Monday to break a deadlock over sharing responsibility for accepting some of the hundreds of thousands who have sought asylum in Europe'...
A senior Czech official said threats to cut such funding had no basis in law'...
Slovakia insisted it would never support mandatory refugee quotas. NBC
Ultimately, when I start trying to piece together a developing ''problem, reaction, solution'' crisis, I like to turn to our friends over at the Council on Foreign Relations to see if they have voiced an opinion on the subject and if so, I try to piece a timeline of their efforts since of course we all know, Hillary Clinton gets her marching orders from them (as does the very MSM I've been writing about thus far)
So, has the CFR been promoting anything to do with the ''refugee crisis'' as of late?
Aside from bombing Assad and the legitimate government of Syria, what exactly is being proposed as a solution to this ''crisis''?
For that answer, let's go to the globalist experts on dealing with various manufactured ''crises'', shall we?
The following quotes are from the International Crisis Group made up of folks like George Soros , Thomas R. Pickering and Lawrence Summers just to name a few. (for reference: ''The independence of Crisis Group's board members has been criticized[12] and the ICG has been criticized for ''serving Western interests''.[13] A July 2014 special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together 10 critiques of the organisation from the Left.[14] )
The current wavelet of refugees arriving in Europe '' a very small number compared to the throngs scratching out a bare living in Syria's immediate neighbourhood '' suggests how close to full-to-capacity Syria's neighbours are, absent a further major new injection of funds. If we can't stop the war, for now, let's at least do what we can: find ways to make life moderately bearable for these people in the safety of their countries of first refuge'...
We think it (the ''refugee crisis'') might offer the opportunity for the U.S., in particular, to create a zone free of aerial attacks (which wreak the greatest destruction, especially through the use of barrel bombs)'...
So what we are left with '' as we continue attempts to feel out stakeholders' evolving positions, hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough '' is a three-pronged approach to the refugee crisis: we should pursue ways to lower the levels of violence in Syria (for instance by dissuading or stopping the regime from using barrel bombs); pour vastly more funds into efforts to help the displaced in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries to sustain themselves where they are; and address the problem of desperate on-migration by accommodating refugees as they arrive in Europe, the Gulf and elsewhere'...
The priority should be to explore ways to construct a viable transition in Syria, but premised on the acknowledgment that little progress will be possible if key stakeholders do not have some guarantee that their core interests in a future Syria will be safeguarded. International Crisis Group an influential globalist think-tank
And there you have it, straight from the globalist horse's mouth.
Vast sums of money, a ''refugee crisis'' slush fund, if you will.No-fly zones in Syria under the cover of which NATO bombings ala Libya will certainly ensueAnd the exporting of scores of undocumented (Wahhabist?) Arabic speaking men of fighting age to nations across Western Europe and other at risk countries (Like the UK after Corbyn perhaps?)All of that culminating in the ''priority'' for these guys which is'... regime change in Syria by any means necessary.
Thus is the reality of the ''refugee crisis'' taking shape right now before our very eyes.
No, it is not an authentic organic campaign for human dignity. Nor is it really about helping the displaced children of the world chased from their homes and communities by the same Wahhabist mercs who were hired by the same think-tanks who are pushing this agenda behind closed doors.
It's about money, it's about power, it's about conquest.
Now let the cries of ''refugee truther'' commence. After all, it's the only argument they got.
'--'--''
CLEARLY WE NEED INDEPENDENT MEDIANOW MORE THAT EVERPlease help keep us up and running if you can.Speaking truth ABOUT power since June 26, 2007(For my mailing address, please email me at RSCdesigns@tampabay.rr.com)
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The Crisis of 'Regime Change Refugees' | Consortiumnews
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:55
The West's dominant prescription toward the crisis of war-torn regions and the destabilizing refugee flow that has followed is to have more ''regime change,'' particularly in Syria. But the reality is that the West's fondness for violent ''regime change'' is the core reason for the refugees, says James Paul.
By James Paul
The huge flow of refugees into Europe has created a political crisis in the European Union, especially in Germany, where neo-Nazi thugs battle police almost daily and fire-bombings of refugee housing have alarmed the political establishment. There is also the wider crisis in the EU over which countries will take in refuges and how many.
The public has been horrified by refugee drownings in the Mediterranean, deaths in trucks and railway tunnels, thousands of children and families, caught in the open, facing border fences and violence from security forces. Religious leaders call for tolerance, while EU politicians wring their hands and wonder how they can solve the issue with new rules and more money.
Afghan commandos demonstrate their skills for U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Camp Morehead, Afghanistan, April 23, 2012. (Defense Department photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Meanwhile, the refugee flow has been increasing rapidly, with no end in sight. The German government has estimated that it will take in 800,000 asylum-seekers during 2015. The overall flow into Europe for the year will probably be well above a million. Germany and Sweden are the main destinations.
Fences cannot contain the desperate multitudes. A few billion euros in economic assistance to the countries of origin, recently proposed by the Germans, are unlikely to buy away the problem. Only a clear understanding of the origins of the crisis can lead to an answer, but European leaders do not want to touch this hot wire and expose their own culpability. In the U.S., there is little sensible analysis either.
The migrants coming to Europe are mostly fleeing conflicts. The data on origins make that clear. The migrants are coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent from Eritrea, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa. These are all countries with vicious conflicts '' conflicts that (with the exception of Nigeria) began with Western military intervention, direct or indirect and continued to be fueled by intervention In Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia the intervention was very direct. In Syria, Pakistan and Eritrea, it has been less direct but very clear nonetheless.
The term ''regime change refugees'' helps focus on where the primary responsibility lies. It changes an empty conversation in the direction of reality. Official discourse in Europe and the United States frames the civil wars and economic turmoil in terms of fanaticism, corruption, dictatorship, economic failures and other causes for which Western governments and publics believe they have no responsibility.
The Western leaders and media stay silent about the military intervention and regime change, interventions that have torn the refugees' homelands apart and resulted in civil war, state collapse and extremely violent conditions lasting for long periods.
Some European leaders, the French in particular, are arguing in favor of further military intervention in these war-torn lands on their periphery as a way to ''do something'' and (ironically) ''end the violence.'' Overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be popular among the policy classes in Paris, who choose to ignore how counter-productive their overthrow of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi was just a short time ago and how counter-productive has been their clandestine support in Syria for the Islamist rebels.
The intensive Western bombing campaign in Syria (now joined by France), aimed in theory at the forces of the Islamic State, are killing many civilians and further destabilizing the war-ravaged country.
The aggressive nationalist beast in the heart of the political class of Europe and the United States is ready to engage in more military adventures. These leaders are not ready to learn the lesson, or to beware the ''blowback'' from future interventions. This is why we need to look closely at the ''regime change'' angle, to beware upcoming proposals for more intervention, and to increase public resistance to further war. It is clear enough that the crisis of migration and war has been ''Made in Europe'' and ''Made in USA.''
Author of Syria Unmasked, James Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN.
International Crisis Group - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:12
The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a transnational non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1995 that carries out field research on violent conflict and advances policies to prevent, mitigate or resolve conflict. It advocates policies directly with governments, multilateral organisations and other political actors as well as the media.[1]
In many respects the new Group was unique for what it was not: it was not designed to deliver humanitarian assistance; it was not a mediating body; it was not a human rights organisation, and it was not adverse to recommending international military intervention to end conflicts.
The ICG was founded after a chance meeting in January 1993 between Morton I. Abramowitz former US diplomat and then-President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Mark Malloch Brown, then future World Bank Vice-President on a flight to Sarajevo.[2][page needed] The international community's difficulty in responding to the Bosnian War provided the catalyst for "an independent organisation that would serve as the world's eyes and ears on the ground in countries in conflict while pressing for immediate action."[2][page needed]George Soros was involved in discussions early on and provided seed money.[2][page needed] Disaster relief specialist Fred Cuny made significant contributions to disaster relief in Bosnia, and was brought on board later that year, though participation was cut short by his death in 1995.[2][page needed]
In November 1994, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced plans for the ICG, while former Congressman Stephen J. Solarz toured foreign capitals to promote the new organisation and raise funds, gaining early support from Martti Ahtisaari (President of Finland), Gareth Evans (Foreign Minister of Australia) and Bernard Kouchner (founder of M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res and future French Foreign Minister).[2][page needed] A January 1995 meeting in London brought many international figures together, and approved a proposal for an annual budget of $8m and 75 full-time staff. In mid-1995 it was formally registered in the US as a tax-exempt non-profit organisation.[2][page needed] From 1996 to 1999, ICG had an annual budget of around $2m and around 20 full-time staff; by 2008 its budget was $15m.[2][page needed]
Following the death of its first president, Nicholas Hinton, in January 1997 and his replacement by Alain Destexhe, ICG moved its headquarters from London to Brussels.[2][page needed] Destexhe resigned in October 1999 and was replaced by Gareth Evans, with Martti Ahtisaari becoming Chairman both from the beginning of 2000.[2][page needed]Louise Arbour became president in July 2009,[2] succeeded in September 2014 by Jean-Marie Gu(C)henno.[citation needed]
OrganizationEditPurposeEditThe International Crisis Group gives advice to governments and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. It combines field-based analysis, policy prescription, and advocacy, with key roles being played by senior management and board members. By its own accounts, the International Crisis Group plays a major role in four ways:
Providing early warning in blog posts and social media, in the monthly CrisisWatch bulletin, and through specific "crisis alerts", e.g., in Yemen, Thailand, Somalia and Venezuela;Contributing behind-the-scenes support and advice to peace negotiations, e.g., in Colombia, Burundi, Northern Uganda, and Sudan;Producing highly detailed analysis and advice on specific policy issues in conflict or potential conflict situations, helping policymakers in the UN Security Council, regional organisations, donor countries and others with major influence, and in the countries at risk themselves, do better in preventing, managing and resolving conflict, and in rebuilding after it;Offering new strategic and tactical thinking on intractable conflicts and crises, e.g., on the Iran nuclear issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, internal conflict in Myanmar and Sino-Japanese tensions.FundingEditCrisis Group raises funds from mainly western governments, charitable foundations, companies and individual donors. In 2011/2012, 49% of its funding came from governments, 20% from philanthropic organisations, and 31% from individuals and private foundations.[citation needed] During 2012/2013 "unrestricted income for annual operations" was $18.3 million with total expenditure of $21.9 million, with 49% of funds coming from governments, 23% from individuals and corporate foundations and 30% of 'philanthropic organisations',[3] where the difference between corporate foundations and 'philanthropic organisations' was not explained. At the beginning of ICG, funding was much less diverse, mainly from co-founder George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute.[4]:551, note 28 ICG has an Advisory Council, which includes corporations like Chevron and Shell, as well as one member who is listed on its website as "Anonymous".[5] Crisis Group has been criticised for serving the interests of its corporate and government funders.
OfficesEditCrisis Group's international headquarters have been in Brussels, with 'advocacy offices' in Washington DC, where it has been based as a legal entity, New York, London and Moscow. ICG has had field offices in 30 locations, with teams of analysts dispatched to areas at risk of outbreak, escalation, or recurrence of conflict. Based on the information these teams have been gathering, ICG has created analytical reports with recommendations for world leaders and organizations. All reports and conflict alerts, are publicly available.[citation needed] The monthly CrisisWatch bulletin is online since 2003.[6]
As of January 2014[update] ICG operated 31 field offices in Abuja, Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut, Bishkek, Bogot, Bujumbura, Cairo, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Gaza, Guatemala City, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Kabul, Kathmandu, Mexico City, Nairobi, Port-au-Prince, Pristina, Rabat, Sanaa, Sarajevo, Seoul, Tbilisi, Tripoli, and Tunis.[4] ICG 's website also stated that "of 116 ICG positions on 1 February 2014, 63 were based in the field in 26 locations".[3]
Officers and staffEditBoard of TrusteesEditCrisis Group Board of Trustees has been co-chaired by Mark Malloch Brown and Ghassan Salam(C), Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences. As of September 2014[update] ICG's President and Chief Executive was Jean-Marie Gu(C)henno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. He was preceded by Louise Arbour, formerly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She was preceded from January 2000 to July 2009 by Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia.[3] The Vice Chair of the Board is Ayo Obe, lawyer, columnist and TV presenter from Nigeria.[3] As of January 2014[update] the Board consisted of the following "other trustees":[7]
AwardsEditThe ICG's "In Pursuit of Peace Award" was established in 2005, and is associated with a gala event in New York City. Recipients include U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush;[why?]Hillary Rodham Clinton; Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martti Ahtisaari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and financier and philanthropist George Soros.[8]
The 2013 joint award to Brazil's ex-President Lula and Burma's President Thein Sein[8] caused controversy due to Burma's human rights record, with the award ceremony coinciding with the publication of a Human Rights Watch report of ethnic cleansing by Thein Sein's administration.[9][10][11]
Countries and territories with ongoing Crisis Group activityEditCrisis Group is currently[when?] covering some 70 areas of actual or potential conflict through analysts operating from regional or field bases, or consultants.
Africa:Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, C´te d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, ZimbabweAsia:Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, UzbekistanEurope:Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, North Caucasus, Serbia, TurkeyLatin America and the Caribbean:Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, VenezuelaMiddle East/North Africa:Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Western Sahara, YemenCriticismEditThe independence of Crisis Group's board members has been criticized[12] and the ICG has been criticized for "serving Western interests".[13] A July 2014 special issue of Third World Quarterly brought together 10 critiques of the organisation from the Left.[14]
ReferencesEdit^"It is not a campaign organization in the familiar grass-roots, or now social-media sense, but it is certainly a high-level advocacy one, seeking constantly to communicate directly with government policymakers and those who influence them, and with a strong media profile." - The International Crisis Group: The Role of a Global NGO in Preventing and Resolving Deadly Conflict, Gareth Evans, 17 May 2012^ abcdefghijkICG, Fifteen Years on the Front Lines, 1995-2010 crisisgroup.org^ abcdAbout ICG ICG, accessed 7 April 2015^ abBerit Bliesemann de Guevara Studying the International Crisis Group Third World Quarterly, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 545-562. DOI:10.1080/01436597.2014.924060 Taylor & Francis^ICG website as of 6 September 2015 wherein it lists "Individual Members" of its Advisory Council as "Anonymous, Samuel R. Berger, Stanley Bergman & Edward Bergman..."^CrisisWatch online, ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015^ICG Crisis Group's Board of Trustees ICG website, accessed 7 April 2015^ abICG, 26 November 2012, In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner: Peace, Prosperity and the Presidency^William Corliss, Asia Times Online, 22 April 2013, Conflicted peace prize for Thein Sein^Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, 22 April 2013, Myanmar's ruler to get peace prize, despite 'ethnic cleansing' charge^Human Rights Watch, April 22, 2013, Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Arakan State^ICG Soros blog 2 December 2012^Stephen Lendman Independent Libyan Fact-Finding Mission January 27, 2012, orientalreview.org^Knowledge Production in Conflict: the International Crisis Group Third World Quarterly, 2014, Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 545-722. Taylor & FrancisExternal linksEdit
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Please Ignore The Freudian Slip: Pentagon Backtracks, Denies US Special Forces Are In Syria | Zero Hedge
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 19:31
When NBC reported earlier that DoD confirmed US special forces were on the ground in Syria "assisting Kurdish forces in fight against ISIS" it crashed the entire carefully-structured US diplomatic narrative. Not that US spec ops are or are not on the ground in Syria - of course they are - but just like with the Russia/Ukraine escalation and even the Greek negotiation with Brussels, the question has always been one of PR spin: who will be the first to admit responsibility for upcoming escalation and who will be stuck with the blame if the 'worst case' scenario were to unravel.
As such US admission would then permit Russia to admit its own troops are on the ground in Syria, "purely to fight ISIS of course" and nothing to do with protecting their vital interest, i.e., Syrian territorial sovereignty from being used by Qatar gas pipelines, in the process setting off the next stage of pre-war foreplay, one in which both sides officially admit they are on the ground, if not to challenge ISIS, then certainly to use the Assad presidency as a proxy smokescreen for whatever comes next.
Which is why we were counting the minutes until the scrambling Pentagon would vehemently deny the NBC report. The answer: just under 4 hours.
Which incidentally may be the first official "please ignore the Freudian slip" excuse in Pentagon history.
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EU approves military action against migrant smugglers in Mediterranean
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:18
(C) Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters
The European Union has approved military action against human traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea, AFP reported, citing sources. The authorities plan to seize and destroy vessels to break up networks operating out of war-torn Libya.In June, the EU launched European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) "to undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers." Now it will be allowed to stop and if necessary destroy boats which are used to carry illegal migrants.
"The conditions have been met" to launch the new phase of the military operation, one European diplomat told AFP.
However, the second phase of the operation, which was approved Monday, still restricts EU NavFor Med to action in international waters. The third phase would involve military action against people smugglers inside Libyan territorial waters, aiming to destroy their boats and networks before they set sail, AFP reports.
Earlier, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that record number of asylum seekers had crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 so far. According to the agency, 432,761 migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea, which is more than double the total for 2014.
The "vast majority of arrivals" were registered in Greece (309,356 people) and Italy (121,139 people), the IOM said.
A total of 2,748 asylum seekers died while crossing the Mediterranean, according to the agency, adding that the Channel of Sicily "is notoriously the deadliest route in the Mediterranean Sea."
According to Robert Ðrepinko, head of the organized crime unit at Europol, "the number of criminal activities is growing with the same speed as the number of illegal migrants." He added that many of the traffickers used to smuggle illegal drugs, but have shifted their focus to people since the refugee crisis began.
A recent report by the Washington Post revealed that smuggling network is prospering amid refugee crisis. Smugglers offer their help to those fleeing war and persecution at a significant cost, thus taking advantage of the asylum seekers' situation.
The options which are offered to refugees by smugglers vary from a simple RV journey over a bridge to a plane that will fly refugees directly from Turkey to Sweden.
"As a global criminal enterprise, it is very lucrative," Patrik Engstr¶m, head of the Swedish national police's national border policing section, told the paper.
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Who's to Blame for Syria Mess? Putin! | Consortiumnews
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:19
Exclusive: Official Washington's new ''group think'' is to blame Russia's President Putin for the Syrian crisis, although it was the neocons and President George W. Bush who started the current Mideast mess by invading Iraq, the Saudis who funded Al Qaeda, and the Israelis who plotted ''regime change,'' says Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Sen. Lindsey Graham may have been wrong about pretty much everything related to the Middle East, but at least he has the honesty to tell Americans that the current trajectory of the wars in Syria and Iraq will require a U.S. re-invasion of the region and an open-ended military occupation of Syria, draining American wealth, killing countless Syrians and Iraqis, and dooming thousands, if not tens of thousands, of U.S. troops.
Graham's grim prognostication of endless war may be a factor in his poll numbers below one percent, a sign that even tough-talking Republicans aren't eager to relive the disastrous Iraq War. Regarding the mess in Syria, there are, of course, other options, such as cooperation with Russia and Iran to resist the gains of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda and a negotiated power-sharing arrangement in Damascus. But those practical ideas are still being ruled out.
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Russian government photo)
Official Washington's ''group think'' still holds that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ''must go,'' that U.S. diplomats should simply deliver a ''regime change'' ultimatum not engage in serious compromise, and that the U.S. government must obstruct assistance from Russia and Iran even if doing so risks collapsing Assad's secular regime and opening the door to an Al Qaeda/Islamic State victory.
Of course, if that victory happens, there will be lots of finger-pointing splitting the blame between President Barack Obama for not being ''tough'' enough and Russia's President Vladimir Putin who has become something of a blame-magnet for every geopolitical problem. On Friday, during a talk at Fort Meade in Maryland, Obama got out front on assigning fault to Putin.
Obama blamed Putin for not joining in imposing the U.S.-desired ''regime change'' on Syria. But Obama's ''Assad must go!'' prescription carries its own risks as should be obvious from the U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. Ousting some designated ''bad guy'' doesn't necessarily lead to some ''good guy'' taking over.
More often, ''regime change'' produces bloody chaos in the target country with extremists filling the vacuum. The idea that these transitions can be handled with precision is an arrogant fiction that may be popular during conferences at Washington's think tanks, but the scheming doesn't work out so well on the ground.
And, in building the case against Assad, there's been an element of ''strategic communications'' '' the new catch phrase for the U.S. government's mix of psychological operations, propaganda and P.R. The point is to use and misuse information to manage the perceptions of the American people and the world's public to advance Washington's strategic goals.
So, although it's surely true that Syrian security forces struck back fiercely at times in the brutal civil war, some of that reporting has been exaggerated, such as the now-discredited claims that Assad's forces launched a sarin gas attack against Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21, 2013. The evidence now suggests that Islamic extremists carried out a ''false flag'' operation with the goal of tricking Obama into bombing the Syrian military, a deception that almost worked. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.'']
Even earlier, independent examinations of how the Syrian crisis developed in 2011 reveal that Sunni extremists were part of the opposition mix from the start, killing Syrian police and soldiers. That violence, in turn, provoked government retaliation that further divided Syria and exploited resentments of the Sunni majority, which has long felt marginalized in a country where Alawites, Shiites, Christians and secularists are better represented in the Assad regime. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''Hidden Origins of Syria's Civil War.'']
An Obvious Solution
The obvious solution would be a power-sharing arrangement that gives Sunnis more of a say but doesn't immediately require Assad, who is viewed as the protector of the minorities, to step down as a precondition. If Obama opted for that approach, many of Assad's Sunni political opponents on the U.S. payroll could be told to accept such an arrangement or lose their funding. Many if not all would fall in line. But that requires Obama abandoning his ''Assad must go!'' mantra.
So, while Official Washington continues to talk tough against Assad and Putin, the military situation in Syria continues to deteriorate with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda's affiliate, the Nusra Front, gaining ground, aided by financial and military support from U.S. regional ''allies,'' including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni-led Persian Gulf states. Israel also has provided help to the Nusra Front, caring for its wounded troops along the Golan Heights and bombing pro-government forces inside Syria.
President Obama may feel that his negotiations with Iran to constrain its nuclear program '' when Israeli leaders and American neocons favored a bomb-bomb-bombing campaign '' have put him in a political bind where he must placate Israel and Saudi Arabia, including support for Israeli-Saudi desired ''regime change'' in Syria and tolerance of the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen. [See Consortiumnews.com's ''On Syria, Incoherence Squared.'']
Privately, I'm told, Obama agreed to '-- and may have even encouraged '-- Putin's increased support for the Assad regime, realizing it's the only real hope of averting a Sunni-extremist victory. But publicly Obama senses that he can't endorse this rational move. Thus, Obama, who has become practiced at speaking out of multiple sides of his mouth, joined in bashing Russia '' sharing that stage with the usual suspects, including The New York Times' editorial page.
In a lead editorial on Saturday, entitled ''Russia's Risky Military Moves in Syria,'' the Times excoriated Russia and Putin for trying to save Assad's government. Though Assad won a multi-party election in the portions of Syria where balloting was possible in 2014, the Times deems him a ''ruthless dictator'' and seems to relish the fact that his ''hold on his country is weakening.''
The Times then reprises the ''group think'' blaming the Syrian crisis on Putin. ''Russia has long been a major enabler of Mr. Assad, protecting him from criticism and sanctions at the United Nations Security Council and providing weapons for his army,'' the Times asserts. ''But the latest assistance may be expanding Russian involvement in the conflict to a new and more dangerous level.''
Citing the reported arrival of a Russian military advance team, the Times wrote: ''The Americans say Russia's intentions are unclear. But they are so concerned that Secretary of State John Kerry called the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, twice this month and warned of a possible 'confrontation' with the United States, if the buildup led to Russian offensive operations in support of Mr. Assad's forces that might hit American trainers or allies.
''The United States is carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, which is trying to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, as well as struggling to train and arm moderate opposition groups that could secure territory taken from the extremists.''
Double Standards, Squared
In other words, in the bizarre world of elite American opinion, Russia is engaging in ''dangerous'' acts when it assists an internationally recognized government fighting a terrorist menace, but it is entirely okay for the United States to engage in unilateral military actions inside Syrian territory without the government's approval.
Amid this umbrage over Russia helping the Syrian government, it also might be noted that the U.S. government routinely provides military assistance to regimes all over the world, including military advisers to the embattled U.S.-created regime in Iraq and sophisticated weapons to nations that carry out attacks beyond their own borders, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Clearly, the Times believes that what is good for the U.S. goose is not tolerable for the Russian gander. Indeed, if Russia's assistance to the Syrian government leads to a ''confrontation'' with U.S. forces or allies, it is Russia that is held to blame though its forces are there with the Syrian government's permission while the U.S. forces and allies aren't.
The Times also defends the bizarre effort by the U.S. State Department last week to organize an aerial blockade to prevent Russia from resupplying the Syrian army. The Times states:
''The United States has asked countries on the flight path between Russia and Syria to close their airspace to Russian flights, unless Moscow can prove they aren't being used to militarily resupply the Assad regime. Bulgaria has done so, but Greece, another NATO ally, and Iraq, which is depending on America to save it from the Islamic State, so far have not. World leaders should use the United Nations General Assembly meeting this month to make clear the dangers a Russian buildup would pose for efforts to end the fighting.''
Given the tragic record of The New York Times and other mainstream U.S. media outlets promoting disastrous ''regime change'' schemes, including President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 and President Obama's bombing campaign in Libya in 2011, you might think the editors would realize that the best-laid plans of America's armchair warriors quite often go awry.
And, in this case, the calculation that removing Assad and installing some Washington-think-tank-approved political operative will somehow solve Syria's problems might very well end up in the collapse of the largely secular government in Damascus and the bloody arrival of the Islamic State head-choppers and/or Al Qaeda's band of terrorism plotters.
With the black flag of Islamic terrorism flying over the ancient city of Damascus, Sen. Graham's grim prognostication of a U.S. military invasion of Syria followed by an open-ended U.S. occupation may prove prophetic, as the United States enters its final transformation from a citizens' republic into an authoritarian imperial state.
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.
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Finland to raise taxes on high earners to cover cost of refugees - Independent.ie
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 05:44
Published 10/09/2015 | 13:30
Finland's centre-right government on Thursday proposed to increase taxes on capital gains and on those with higher incomes, money its finance minister said would help cover the costs of migrants coming into the country.
The move may also counter accusations that the budget is e largely hitting the poor and middle class.
Finance minister Alexander Stubb said the highest bracket of capital gains tax would be raised by one percentage point while those earning more than '‚¬72,300 would be required to pay a so-called solidarity tax for two years. The limit previously was '‚¬90,000.
The budgetary measures proposed today will partly cover the higher expenses of immigration which are estimated to rise to 114 million euros this year, he said.
The total budget for 2016 would amount to '‚¬54.1bn with a budget deficit of '‚¬5bn.
The parliamentarians would also pitch in the effort to save money, with all 200 members taking an unpaid holiday for a week, while all government ministers will forgo one week's pay.
The government on Tuesday presented labour market reforms including reductions in holidays to boost competitiveness in the sputtering economy. This prompted a hostile reaction from trade unions who saw the plan to implement the reforms by force as a rebuff of Finland's traditional consensus politics.
Finland's economy is shrinking for a fourth year in a row due to weak demand from European and Russian markets and problems affecting its main export industries including technology.
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The Refugee ''Crisis'' of 2015: One of Obama's Destabilization Mercenaries Caught Posing as a ''Refugee'' | American Everyman
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:30
by Scott Creighton
(Just a brief note. I am currently neck-deep in how-to video editing videos and pulling my hair out)
Over at Obama's personal Mockingbird website, the Huffington Post, we see they are busy spending their time debunking any criticism of the UN/Germany/US/CFR/International Crisis Group refugee campaign on behalf of ObamaGod.
One of the things they are trying to downplay is a photo which emerged showing a guy wearing terrorism gear in one shot and touristy-looking ''refugee'' garb in the next.
The Huffington Post is quick to point out ''no. He isn't ''ISIS''! He's a REBEL!''
Ah. There's the distinction of the year. I wonder if that means he's the one who used sarin gas on civilians last year.
And yes, that is the same guy.
The first before-and-after image is that of a man profiled by the Associated Press who was a Free Syrian Army commander before fleeing the conflict. Now, he hopes to bring his family to the Netherlands. The flag photo is from years ago and unrelated to refugees, or possibly even the Islamic State. HuffPuff
As I wrote this morning and talked about last night with Tom Kiely, this latest major PR campaign being run by the likes of the CFR and the International Crisis Group is nothing more than a cover story. As was explained in this morning's article, the first major concern for the folks at ICG regarding this campaign is garnering ''vast sums'' of money and then the next is killing off Assad.
Is it any wonder we all of a sudden see their Wahhabist terrorists (oh I'm sorry'... ''rebels'') that have been fighting and failing in Syria now posing as ''refugees'' so they can help foster an atmosphere which will permit the wholesale NATO bombing campaign in Syria?
Wasn't that kid who supposedly died last week from a Kurdish family? Don't the Kurds want to see Assad gone as well?
Anyone aside from me starting to see a pattern developing?
The article at HuffPuff tries to debunk 5 different ''myths'' that have developed around this ''Refugee Crisis''
It was written by Nick Robins-Early, formerly of the New Republic
Nick seems dedicated to pushing the refugee crisis on his Twitter account. He came at his current profession of journalism via a slightly different route than most:
Freie Universit¤t BerlinMaster's degree,International Relations and AffairsMcGill UniversityBachelor's degree,Political ScienceYeah, he's a poly-sci / international relations guy. Now he poses as a journalist and is working hard for the German ''refugee crisis'' campaign. And where did he go to school? Oh, Germany.
Are these moderate terrorists from Syria posing for the camera for a reason? Do they want us to see them and have the ''ISIS Mixed in with Refugees'' stories published for a purpose? And if so, what does it serve?
Either way you look at it, there he is and you can't deny it. You can try to whitewash it like Nick did on behalf of the CFR, but it's hard to deny the facts when they are wearing bright green ''thanks'' shirts and staring you in the face.
Either this guy was photographed by accident being shipped off to his next destabilization campaign or'... somebody wanted to make damn sure there was some kind of paper-trail linking terrorists (or ''ISIS'' as was first reported) to these refugees using the manufactured crisis to gain entry to various countries across the EU.
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Filed under: Refugee "crisis", Scott Creighton, The ISIS Crisis
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The end of Schengen '' POLITICO
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:22
German police check vehicles at the border crossing between Salzburg in Austria and Freilassing in Germany | EPA
Forum
How a human tsunami has shattered a European dream.
By Michael Binyon
9/14/15, 10:34 AM CET
Updated 9/14/15, 11:37 AM CET
LONDON '-- No country is more committed to European integration than Germany. All the grand schemes to bring Europeans together '-- the single currency, the push for common policies, the abolition of frontier controls within the European Union '-- have Germany at their heart.
But Berlin's announcement Sunday that it is to reimpose frontier controls with Austria strikes a deadly blow at of one of the few agreements that has turned these visions into reality '-- the Schengen treaty, which removed passport controls along thousands of miles of Europe's frontiers.
Is Schengen now dead? And is this the beginning of the end for an ''ever closer union'' in Europe?
* * *
Germany insists that its new border check points are temporary, an emergency response to the thousands of migrants pouring in from the south. When the human tsunami dies down, the interior minister suggested, these controls will be lifted, the trains from Austria will start running again and Germany will continue to champion a Europe without borders.
It sounds like wishful thinking.
For more than a year, Europe has been struggling with an ever-increasing flow of desperate migrants '-- refugees from wars and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, young men fleeing dictatorship in Eritrea, poor people from across Africa and the Middle East seeking a better life. They have been smuggled across the Mediterranean in leaky boats, transported like cattle in airless lorries, forced by gangs to clamber across frontiers in Turkey, Greece and the Balkans. And almost all have had one destination: Germany.
Altogether, estimates say, some 800,000 may arrive in Germany in one year. And Germany, like Sweden, the only other European nation to have offered shelter to so many, now finds that its voters have had enough. Unless the flow is cut back or stopped, there will be riots, violence and racial attacks. Angela Merkel's government is reeling and populists are denouncing cherished European principles.
This is not the first time a country has temporarily reimposed border controls, permitted under the 1985 Schengen treaty (now incorporated in EU law) in cases of emergency or national security. But the move comes as the clamor for a permanent crack-down becomes ever louder, not only in Germany but also in France, Italy, Hungary and the European heartlands.
It is not only the refugee crisis that has exposed the failings of a frontier-free Europe: the exploitation by organized crime of the open borders to escape into other countries, safe in the knowledge that there will be no hot pursuit and little police intelligence to catch them, has caused rising anger and frustration.
Free movement around 26 countries for 400 million Europeans is now seriously threatened.
And then there is terrorism. The recent attempted murders by a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris highlighted the ease with which terrorists can travel across borders to plot massacres. Interior and transport ministers warned after an emergency meeting in Paris there would have to be more spot checks, proper cross-frontier intelligence and amendments to Schengen to impose controls when necessary.
This triple assault means that free movement around 26 countries for 400 million Europeans is now seriously threatened. Many Europeans look enviously at Britain and Ireland, which were granted opt-outs when the treaty was signed, and still retain full border inspections '-- with some notable success in stopping terrorists and catching illegal immigrants. No such option is open to anyone else. The 1997 Amsterdam treaty insisted that any new EU applicant had to remove internal frontiers. Three non-EU members, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, have already joined in. Three new members, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus, will be forced to do so soon.
European idealists and those desperate to keep frontiers passport-free argue that new border checks would not solve any problems. The challenges are mostly from outside Europe. The refugees will keep coming, they say, and human traffickers will still evade border police. Terrorism knows no frontiers. And organized crime often has its roots far beyond Europe. They argue that political crises in the Middle East '-- war, extremism and religious persecution '-- must still be resolved, and border controls treat the symptoms rather than the causes.
These are poor arguments. Schengen, the treaty bearing the name of the little Luxembourg town where it was signed, has two massive weaknesses that have never been properly tackled. First, it will only work if Europe's common external frontier is massively strengthened. But where is this frontier? Often in countries least able to cope, running between Greece and Turkey, Malta and Libya, Hungary and Serbia, Sicily (Italy) and Tunisia. Only a paltry sum has been given to Frontex, the EU border force, to boost patrols, stop drug smugglers and check migrants. Secondly, the intelligence formerly gathered at frontier posts is never now properly passed on. Countries have no way of tracking who is entering or leaving unless police data is routinely made available.
The real weakness of Schengen, however, is that it runs counter to the growing mood in Europe.
This is more nationalist, more insular, suspicious of Brussels, skeptical of pan-European solutions, resentful of paying out for poorer neighbors, determined to reassert more local control and angry at the remoteness of decision-making. It is not a pretty or an idealistic mood. It has been fanned by the repeated crises over the euro, a growing north-south divide, austerity, slow economic growth and Europe's utter failure to find common solutions to the tragedies of migration and asylum.
* * *
While Brussels dithers, populist parties demand quick national solutions. Little wonder that Marine Le Pen is said to be on course to win power in France or that smaller countries accuse Germany of imposing austerity on all of them. Schengen is in danger of being the first victim of this mood, as governments scramble to show voters that they are in command.
A blanket re-imposition of border posts would be hugely expensive, cause massive delays and anger tourists and businessmen alike. But not everyone needs to be stopped. Passport controls could be selective, based on intelligence or random inspections. The mere possibility of interrogation would strengthen security across Europe. It works in Britain and Ireland. Germany may find that having imposed checks with Austria, it will now have to do the same on every frontier if human trafficking is to be halted.
And despite the wailings of European idealists, the general public would not object. Schengen's days are numbered.
Michael Binyon is a foreign affairs analyst and former diplomatic editor of the Times of London.
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Yahoo News Digest '-- Border-free Europe unravels as refugee crisis hits...
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 11:28
EuropeTwo decades of frontier-free travel across Europe unraveled on Monday as countries reestablished border controls in the face of an unprecedented influx of refugees, which broke the record for the most arrivals by land in a single day. Germany's surprise decision to restore border controls on Sunday had a swift domino effect, prompting Austria to deploy its army to help control the rush of people trying to leave Hungary before it starts arresting illegal refugees on Tuesday.
We have to pull ourselves together today; if not, Europe will be torn apart.
Luxembourg Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn
Monday's measures were the biggest threat so far to the Schengen system of a passport-free Europe. Ministers from the bloc gathered in Brussels to try to heal deep divisions over refugee policy. A quota system to redistribute 160,000 refugees has created tension between EU countries. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of the loudest critics of immigration, which he calls a threat to Europe's Christian heritage, told officers at the border to be humane but ''uncompromising.''
You will meet with people who have been deceived. You will be met with temper and aggression.
Viktor Orban
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Caliphate!
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One in five Syrians say Islamic State is a good thing, poll says - The Washington Post
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 01:22
A recent survey of 1,365 Syrians from all 14 governorates of the country found some surprising attitudes. Consider this: A fifth of those interviewed said the Islamic State -- the brutal Islamist group known for its beheadings, that rules over large swaths of Syria and Iraq -- is a positive influence on the country. And 82 percent said that they believe the Islamic State was created by the United States and its allies.
The Syria survey was conducted by ORB International, a U.K.-based market research firm, from June 10 to July 2. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.
The majority of Syrians interviewed said they believe that the situation is worsening, and only 21 percent said they preferred their life today than when Syria was fully controlled by Bashar al-Assad's regime. Nearly half of Syrians surveyed said they opposed U.S.-coalition airstrikes, and nearly 80 percent said that the war has gotten worse because of the influx of foreign fighters. Yet there is also sense of hope: The majority of Syrians surveyed said a diplomatic solution was possible to end the war, and that Syrians can set aside their difference and live side by side again.
Read more:
As tragedies shock Europe, a bigger refugee crisis looms in the Middle East
The unbelievable damage Islamic State has done to ancient sites in Iraq and Syria
What a year of Islamic State terror looks like
Sudarsan Raghavan has been The Post's Kabul bureau chief since 2014. He was previously based in Nairobi and Baghdad for the Post.
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Blame of intelligence manipulation, is meant to protect Obama from ridicule over "JV Team"
U.S. general says never ordered Islamic State intelligence manipulation | Reuters
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:05
U.S. President Barack Obama sits next to Commander of Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin III during in a briefing from top military leaders while at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, September 17, 2014.
Reuters/Larry Downing
WASHINGTON The head of the U.S. military's Central Command on Wednesday told a Senate hearing on the conflict against Islamic State that he never asked for intelligence reports to be skewed to present a more positive view of military operations in Iraq and Syria.
General Lloyd Austin made the comments after the Pentagon's inspector general confirmed last week that it had opened an investigation into allegations Central Command officials had suppressed intelligence.
Appearing before a Senate committee, Austin was asked by Sen. Angus King whether he ever ordered or even hinted to intelligence officers that they "sweeten" their reports to present a more positive view of the U.S. fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"Absolutely not, Senator King," Austin responded. "Absolutely not."
A U.S.-led coalition is conducting air strikes in Syria and Iraq targeting the Islamic State. The United States first started attacking the Islamist militant group inside Syria about a year ago, but has been unable to wrest its control from major cities there or in Iraq.
Analysts working for Central Command, which oversees the war in Syria and Iraq, say the leadership of their intelligence wing suppressed or rejected negative assessments of the U.S. position in the conflict against Islamic State and al Qaeda, according to media reports.
A spokeswoman for the Pentagon's inspector general on Friday said its office had opened an investigation to address whether there was any "falsification, distortion, delay, suppression, or improper modification of intelligence information."
Austin, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that his expectation is that he received "candid and accurate intelligence assessments from my staff."
He also assured Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri that those who complained about their reports being distorted would not face retaliation.
"We're going to cooperate fully and we'll make sure that we abide by the spirit of this investigation," Austin said. He assured the senators that once the investigation was complete, he would take appropriate action based on its findings.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Andrew Hay)
Centcom Chief Denies Ordering Intel Edited to Sugarcoat ISIS War -- News from Antiwar.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:05
Faced with questions during his Senate testimony about an ongoing Pentagon investigation into intelligence tampering by Central Command (Centcom), Centcom commander Gen. Lloyd Austin refused to discuss the matter directly, but did deny that he'd ever ordered any ''skewing'' of intelligence reports.
The investigation stems from complaints by analysts at the DIA, the Pentagon's main intelligence body, who say that Centcom took their reports, edited them so the conclusions were more upbeat about the war against ISIS, and passed them on to Congress and the president as the basis for policy decisions.
The investigation is being conducted by the Inspectors General, who have already informed Congress, based on their preliminary findings, that the intelligence reports they've received were likely ''reworked'' to defend Centcom's position that the war is going well.
Centcom is struggling to figure out what their official stance on this is, initially defending the skewing of the intelligence as totally within their purview as the ones managing the war, and now insisting that the edits they made were totally innocuous and that the reports remained pessimistic.
Gen. Austin insisted that he would take unspecified ''action'' if the allegations turn out to be true, but Centcom's narrative on the matter suggests that they consider anything they did to manipulate intelligence as totally their call, and they seem to be viewing the probe as an unwelcome intrusion.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
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Egyptian Military Fired on Tourists During Picnic, Witnesses Say - NYTimes.com
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:21
CAIRO '-- The mistaken airstrike by the Egyptian military that killed a dozen people on a Mexican tourist trip in the Western Desert hit at a picnic in the middle of the day, witnesses said Monday, raising new questions about both the extent of the error and the official explanations.
The convoy of four sport utility vehicles was about three hours southwest of Cairo on a typical tourist trip through the White Desert, an unearthly Western Desert area of chalk rocks, at around midday on Sunday when a diabetic passenger complained that she needed to eat, according to a tour-guide official, witnesses and others briefed on the events.
So, with the blessing of their police escort and the added security of an Apache military helicopter buzzing on the horizon, the Egyptian guide and his four drivers pulled about a mile off the road to prepare a meal.
It was then that the helicopter opened fire, killing at least a dozen people '-- including at least two visiting Mexicans '-- while wounding a tourist policeman and at least 10 others.
Some were gunned down as they tried to flee toward the top of a nearby sand dune, said Essam Monem, a resident of the area who arrived that night and saw the bodies in the sand.
The helicopter crew had mistaken the tourist picnic for a camp of Islamist militants operating in the area, the Interior Ministry said in a statement early Monday. But the accident has nonetheless killed more tourists than any terrorist attack in recent years. Analysts say it has threatened to do new damage to Egypt's already crippled tourist industry by raising questions about both the competence of the security forces and the prevalence of the militants they were attempting to hunt.
''What we saw was not just the lack of training of the military forces but also their desperation,'' said Mokhtar Awad, a researcher at the Center for American Progress who tracks Egyptian militant groups, noting that Islamic State militants in the area had also released photographs on Sunday that appeared to show they had beaten back an army unit in battle earlier the same day.
''It tells you how chaotic the situation is,'' he said, ''if they feel so desperate to put an end to this that they end up taking out what we gather is the first thing they see.''
Initial reports Sunday night from Egyptian security officials had said that the error took place late at night, when mistaking tourists for militants might be less hard to imagine.
In its statement on Monday, the Interior Ministry sought instead to blame the tour guides, suggesting that the convoy had entered a ''banned area'' without permission.
A Mexican tourist group ''was present in the same banned area'' as a group of ''terrorist elements'' that the military and police forces had been chasing, the ministry's statement said. It also said a team had been formed to look into ''the reasons and circumstances of the accident and the justifications for the presence of the tourist group in the aforementioned banned area.''
But the official union of tour guides and friends of the trip's leader, who was killed in the attack, circulated photographs of the convoy's official permit on the Internet. Union officials and friends of the guide said the tour had stuck to a common, widely used tourist route, passed through several police checkpoints, and moved only with the approval of its tourist police escort.
The group had ''no information that this region is banned, no warning signs, and no instructions from checkpoints on the road, or the Tourism & Antiquities policeman present with them,'' Hassan el-Nahla, the chairman of the General Union of Tourist Guides, said in a statement.
''Egypt will pay the price of the impact of this incident on the tourism industry,'' he said.
Although the helicopter that conducted the attack was military, a spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces sought to deflect responsibility, saying ''when it comes to tourists, it is a Ministry of Interior issue, not ours.''
''This incident has nothing to do with the army even if the army and police carried out the operation together,'' the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Samir, said. ''This is the system of this country, and you don't have the right to question it.''
In Mexico, Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu told a news conference that two Mexican citizens had been killed and six more were wounded; reports in the Egyptian state media had initially said that eight Mexicans had died in the accident.
''We are waiting for the appropriate Egyptian authorities to give us access to better information that will allow us to know the situation of the rest of the affected people,'' Ms. Ruiz Massieu said.
In a formal diplomatic note to the Egyptian ambassador, Mexico ''expressed its deep consternation for these deplorable events and demanded that an expedited, exhaustive and thorough investigation is carried out.''
Merna Thomas reported from Cairo, and David D. Kirkpatrick from London. Jared Malsin contributed reporting from Cairo, and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City.
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Greek coast guard seizes Libya-bound ship carrying weapons | Reuters
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:53
Wed Sep 2, 2015 | 11:21 AM EDT
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek authorities have seized a freighter carrying an undeclared shipment of weapons en route from Turkey to Libya, coast guard officials said on Wednesday.
A coast guard patrol boat raided the vessel on Tuesday, 20 nautical miles northeast of Crete. The freighter, with a crew of seven and which had sailed from the Turkish port of Iskenderun, was escorted to Heraklion port on the island.
The United Nations has imposed an embargo on weapons shipments to Libya, which is plagued by factional conflict.
"The ship's crew is being questioned and the content of its containers will be checked," a coast guard official said, declining to be named.
The coast guard provided no further details of what kind of arms the freighter had on board, or its ownership.
A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the cargo included weapons but said it was fully documented and was destined for the Sudanese police force. The vessel was also carrying building materials for Libya, he said.
"If investigations by the Greek authorities show that the consignment is going to receivers other than those stated in the documentation, and if that is shared with us, naturally measures could be taken," foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said.
Libya is divided between two rival governments battling for control, leaving a security vacuum being exploited by migrant smugglers and Islamist militants.
Bilgic said that the company which owned the ship was registered in the Greek port city of Piraeus and that the vessel had begun its journey in Famagusta in northern Cyprus and had also passed through the Egyptian port of Alexandria. It came to Iskenderun on Aug. 25 and left four days later, he said.
The vessel's documentation indicated that it was supposed to travel on to Misrata and Tobruk in Libya, before traveling back to Beirut, Bilgic said.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos in Athens and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Editing by Matthias Williams and Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)
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Shut Up Slave!
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Obama directs agencies to use behavioral science -- FCW
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:27
Management
Obama directs agencies to use behavioral scienceBy Bianca SpinosaSep 16, 2015The White House is directing agencies to use behavioral science to revamp customer service and reach people more effectively.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Sept. 15 requiring agencies to use behavioral science data to design government policies ''to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs.''
The executive order asks agencies to identify programs where applying behavioral science insights could improve public welfare, program outcomes and costs.
It's part of an ongoing effort in the administration to change the way agencies reach customers.
The White House launched the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team last year. Several of SBST's pilot programs demonstrate the use of ''nudge theory,'' an aspect of behavioral science that involves ''nudging'' citizens in a certain direction using positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions.
In one of the pilot programs, SBST worked with the Farm Service Agency to notify farmers about the availability of microloans. The FSA sent a new outreach letter to randomly selected zip codes providing information about the program, a shortened URL to reach the site, and customized contact information for loan officers in the farmer's own county.
The SBST also helped the Department of Defense redesign emails sent to service members regarding a change in their savings plans. DOD made the language more concise, listed action steps, and personalized the emails and subsequently doubled the rate of enrollment. DOD also highlighted to veterans that they had earned an education and career-counseling benefit instead of just notifying them of their eligibility, which led to a nearly 9 percent increase in veterans accessing the DOD application for this benefit.
Another example of behavioral science research at work involves eight personalized text messages sent to low-income students and their parents reminding them about financial aid paperwork. The SBST says the texts boosted college enrollment among low-income students by 9 percent.
The executive order directs federal agencies to take action in four areas:
-- Streamlining access to programs: Agencies should look for opportunities to help qualifying individuals, families, and businesses access programs and benefits by streamlining processes that may otherwise limit participation.
-- Improving the presentation of information: Agencies should look for opportunities to improve how the government presents information to consumers, borrowers, and program beneficiaries by giving greater consideration to ways in which information format, timing, and medium can affect understanding.
-- Structuring choices carefully: Where programs and policies offer choices, agencies should carefully consider how the presentation and structure of those choices, including default settings and the number and arrangement of options, can empower participants to make the best choices for themselves and their families.
-- Considering a full range of incentives: Where policies create incentives to take specific actions, such as saving for retirement, agencies should consider how the frequency, presentation, and labeling of benefits, tax credits, and other incentives can more effectively and efficiently promote those actions, with a specific focus on opportunities to use nonfinancial incentives.
About the Author
Bianca Spinosa is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with her on Twitter: @BSpinosa
A Neuroeconomic Perspective on Charitable Giving by David V. Yokum, Filippo Rossi :: SSRN
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 23:21
Abstracthttp://ssrn.com/abstract=1950345
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Arizona - College of ScienceUniversity of Arizona - College of ScienceJuly 10, 2009
Abstract: Psychologists and economists, particularly those assuming that people are rational egoists, have struggled to understand the causes of voluntary donation for decades. Why would a person decide to sacrifice part of his or her material payoff in order to increase the well being of others? In the first part of this paper, we outline a core set of possible motivations, and then consider how those motivations can be used to construct behavioral models that can also be tested in terms of what we know about brain function. We emphasize the role of other'regarding preferences and argue that there are moral judgments, independent of any consideration of payoffs, that partially determine when and to whom such preferences exist. In the second part of the paper, we argue that a neuroeconomic perspective can help understand charitable giving, and then discuss recent neuroimaging studies that demonstrate this potential.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: Moral psychology, Neuroeconomics, Charitable giving
Open PDF in BrowserDownload This PaperDate posted: October 29, 2011 Paper commentsNo comments have been made on this paper
Using Behavioral Science Insights to Make Government More Effective, Simpler, and More People-Friendly | whitehouse.gov
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 23:14
''It makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so that it can deliver on the functions that the American people are looking for. We should all want a government that's smarter, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.''
-President Obama, July 8, 2013
This month marks one full year since the launch of the first-ever Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), which was created in response to the President's call to make government programs more effective and efficient. SBST comprises leading experts who have been recruited into government to harness behavioral science insights to help Federal government programs better serve the nation while saving taxpayer dollars.
Members of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team visit the Oval Office to brief the President on their work.
SBST had a successful first year, launching a wide variety of evidence-based pilots with objectives ranging from connecting veterans with employment and educational counseling benefits to helping struggling student borrowers understand their loan repayment options.
In one recent pilot, SBST collaborated with the Department of Defense (DOD) to help members of the Armed Forces continue contributions to their Roth Thrift Savings Plans. Due to a change in the military pay system in January 2015, nearly 140,000 members needed to re-enroll in their plans online, or else their contributions would be suspended indefinitely. SBST worked with DOD to redesign their planned communications to better serve our service members, by making the language clear and concise, charting out clear action steps for service members to take, and personalizing the emails.
Results from the first week of the pilot indicated that the redesigned email led 22% more service members '' 3,770 individuals '' to re-enroll compared to the original message. Since the redesigned email was more effective at prompting re-enrollment after just one week, DOD sent a version of the redesigned email to the entire population in follow-up messages, demonstrating the rapid scalability of insights from these types of low-cost pilots.
The President's FY 2016 Budget, which was announced earlier this week, supports funds for an expansion of SBST. To mark the one-year anniversary of SBST, the team met with President Obama last Friday.
We would love to hear your ideas for other issues SBST could address to help the government better serve the American people. Also, let us know if you're interested in joining the effort. Send us your thoughts at sbst@gsa.gov.
Maya Shankar is Senior Advisor for Social and Behavioral Sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
FBI '-- BRIU
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:12
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Executive Order -- Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People | whitehouse.gov
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 15:11
EXECUTIVE ORDER
- - - - - - -
USING BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE INSIGHTS TO
BETTER SERVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that behavioral science insights -- research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them -- can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people.
Where Federal policies have been designed to reflect behavioral science insights, they have substantially improved outcomes for the individuals, families, communities, and businesses those policies serve. For example, automatic enrollment and automatic escalation in retirement savings plans have made it easier to save for the future, and have helped Americans accumulate billions of dollars in additional retirement savings. Similarly, streamlining the application process for Federal financial aid has made college more financially accessible for millions of students.
To more fully realize the benefits of behavioral insights and deliver better results at a lower cost for the American people, the Federal Government should design its policies and programs to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs. By improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Government, behavioral science insights can support a range of national priorities, including helping workers to find better jobs; enabling Americans to lead longer, healthier lives; improving access to educational opportunities and support for success in school; and accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.
NOW, THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Behavioral Science Insights Policy Directive.
(a) Executive departments and agencies (agencies) are encouraged to:
(i) identify policies, programs, and operations where applying behavioral science insights may yield substantial improvements in public welfare, program outcomes, and program cost effectiveness;
(ii) develop strategies for applying behavioral science insights to programs and, where possible, rigorously test and evaluate the impact of these insights;
(iii) recruit behavioral science experts to join the Federal Government as necessary to achieve the goals of this directive; and
(iv) strengthen agency relationships with the research community to better use empirical findings from the behavioral sciences.
(b) In implementing the policy directives in section (a), agencies shall:
(i) identify opportunities to help qualifying individuals, families, communities, and businesses access public programs and benefits by, as appropriate, streamlining processes that may otherwise limit or delay participation -- for example, removing administrative hurdles, shortening wait times, and simplifying forms;
(ii) improve how information is presented to consumers, borrowers, program beneficiaries, and other individuals, whether as directly conveyed by the agency, or in setting standards for the presentation of information, by considering how the content, format, timing, and medium by which information is conveyed affects comprehension and action by individuals, as appropriate;
(iii) identify programs that offer choices and carefully consider how the presentation and structure of those choices, including the order, number, and arrangement of options, can most effectively promote public welfare, as appropriate, giving particular consideration to the selection and setting of default options; and
(iv) review elements of their policies and programs that are designed to encourage or make it easier for Americans to take specific actions, such as saving for retirement or completing education programs. In doing so, agencies shall consider how the timing, frequency, presentation, and labeling of benefits, taxes, subsidies, and other incentives can more effectively and efficiently promote those actions, as appropriate. Particular attention should be paid to opportunities to use nonfinancial incentives.
(c) For policies with a regulatory component, agencies are encouraged to combine this behavioral science insights policy directive with their ongoing review of existing significant regulations to identify and reduce regulatory burdens, as appropriate and consistent with Executive Order 13563 of January 18, 2011 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and Executive Order 13610 of May 10, 2012 (Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens).
Sec. 2. Implementation of the Behavioral Science Insights Policy Directive. (a) The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and chaired by the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, shall provide agencies with advice and policy guidance to help them execute the policy objectives outlined in section 1 of this order, as appropriate.
(b) The NSTC shall release a yearly report summarizing agency implementation of section 1 of this order each year until 2019. Member agencies of the SBST are expected to contribute to this report.
(c) To help execute the policy directive set forth in section 1 of this order, the Chair of the SBST shall, within 45 days of the date of this order and thereafter as necessary, issue guidance to assist agencies in implementing this order.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 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) Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the requirements of this order.
(d) 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.
BARACK OBAMA
THE WHITE HOUSE,September 15, 2015.
Obama issues Orwellian executive order
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:33
Welcome to President Obama's brave new world.
Federal agencies have been directed to hire psychologists to experiment and find ways to better manipulate the American people to the federal government's will.
''A growing body of evidence demonstrates that behavioral science insights '' research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them '' can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people,'' Obama wrote in an executive order released Tuesday on WhiteHouse.gov. The origin of the order can be traced back to a 2013 policy proposal entertained by the White House called ''Strengthening Federal Capacity for Behavioral Insights.''
The president's new order said streamlined applications for federal financial aid and automatic retirement payments are two examples where behavioral-science lessons applied to government programs have been effective.
''Police State USA: How Orwell's Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality'' chronicles how America has arrived at the point of being a de facto police state, and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the Constitution. Order today!
''[T]o more fully realize the benefits of behavioral insights and deliver better results at a lower cost for the American people, the federal government should design its policies and programs to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs,'' Obama wrote, the Washington Examiner reported.
Obama has not hidden his interest in using federal resources to employ behavioral science techniques on the public. The White House launched a Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, or SBST, in February 2014 and then celebrated its one-year anniversary on the White House blog.
''SBST had a successful first year, launching a wide variety of evidence-based pilots with objectives ranging from connecting veterans with employment and educational counseling benefits to helping struggling student borrowers understand their loan repayment options,'' the Obama administration wrote Feb. 9, 2015.
SBST will now move forward to identify programs that will ''most effectively promote public welfare, as appropriate, giving particular consideration to the selection and setting of default options.'' The team's work is done under the purview of the National Science and Technology Council.
David Limbaugh's book chillingly documents the destructive ''transformation'' of the United States '-- get ''The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama's War on the Republic''
Two figures whose research played a key role in bringing the new initiative to fruition were Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein (once deemed Obama's regulatory czar), and Richard Thaler, a University of Chicago economist, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
''The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book 'Nudge' that government policies can be designed in a way that 'nudges' citizens toward certain behaviors and choices,'' the Daily Beast reported.
Obama's executive order requires SBST to issue guidance to federal agencies on how to implement his policy directive within the next 45 days.
SBST will also consider different ways of labeling ''benefits, taxes, subsidies, and other incentives'' to ''more effectively and efficiently promote'' the president's policy goal.
What do YOU think? Sound off on Obama's behavioral experiments on Americans
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Study: 20 Percent Of Teens Wake Up During Night To Check Facebook CBS Sacramento
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:37
September 15, 2015 11:18 AM
(Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MENLO PARK, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) '-- A new study finds that 20 percent of teenagers wake up during the night to check their Facebook.
According to the Irish Mirror, researchers found that teens waking up in the middle of the night to use Facebook or other social media sites are leaving them tired at school.
The study also found that more than a third of those aged 12 to 15 wake up at least once a week to check or post messages.
''It seems important to discourage social media use during the night,'' Dr. Kimberly Horton, of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods, told the Irish Mirror. ''No effort to develop regular bedtimes or lengthen time in bed would compensate for the disruption nighttime use can cause.''
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Clock Bomber Kid
Why Mohamed Elhassan, the Dallas Imam Who Played Defense Attorney in Quran-Torching Church, Says He "Admires" Terry Jones | Dallas Observer
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 23:48
Mohamed Elhassan, a Sufi imam and business owner here in Dallas, lost his case for the Koran last month in Terry Jones' Florida church.
When Florida pastor Terry Jones finally made good on the threat he'd been toying with in the press for months, to burn a Quran in his church, it set off days of deadly protests in Afghanistan. And while U.S. military officials and lawmakers work to undo the damage he caused, and President Obama condemns the book-burning, Jones is seeking retribution. His church in Gainesville, Florida, denies responsibility for the riots.
There is a Dallas man involved in all of this: Sheik Mohamed Elhassan, who played defense attorney in Jones's mock trial and failed to sway the "court" at the Dove World Outreach Center. He's the man referred to in most news reports simply as "a Dallas imam." And he's not shying away from the controversy. As a matter of fact, he says, he is looking for a local church where he can mount an appeal.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Elhassan told Unfair Park that while he doesn't feel Jones gave him enough time to make his case, he's still "proud to be a defender of the Holy Quran."
Even after the violent response to the Quran burning in Jones's church, Elhassan says he doesn't feel responsible for the backlash. "I went there to make it not happen," he says.
He says he appreciates Jones giving him a forum to defend the Quran in terms of Sufism, a more mystical, new-age reading of the text. "I admire Terry Jones for doing that," he says.
"From my heart, I feel very OK. But I have some people who don't like that from my Muslim brothers. I see their faces, they don't want me to go and talk. But this is my opinion. I'm not living in Sudan, or Saudi Arabia. I'm living in a free land," Elhassan says.
Elhassan says he heard Jones's church was looking for someone to bring a legal defense of the Quran in their court, and was glad to be the one they picked."They put an ad on their channel: 'Whoever feels in himself he has the power to defend Quran is welcome,'" he recalls. "I was chosen by accident. It was not a setup, as other media said."
Elhassan says he knew Jones had threatened to burn a Quran in the past, but understood that this time the church was simply holding a trial.
"They said they were not going to do it," he says. "So I went there. But when they did burn the Quran, I was not there." He says Jones gave him and his family the opportunity to leave the church before the book met its sentence.
Still, Elhassan says he didn't nearly get a fair shake in their trial, and he's looking to make it right.
"It was far from fair. It was not fair," he says, "so now we are doing an appeal. I am looking for a brave priest like Terry Jones, because I am going to bring all the evidence that the Quran is not guilty." Today, he says, he's making calls to local churches in Dallas and Irving, hoping to find another pastor interested in church into a courtroom for the Quran.
Elhassan, who was born in Sudan, is no stranger to debate -- he ran against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir last year, and says he faced the same backlash he's hearing now from traditional Muslims who disagree with his "New Testament" view of the Quran. He says he has serious issues with the hardline, traditional readings of the text, and he's writing a book about his reading of the Koran -- with working titles like Jesus Among Us With the Quran, or The New Understanding of the Quran.
"Now Terry Jones has made a path," he says. "People need to understand the meaning of the Holy Quran. Whoever follows the Old Testament needs to ask himself why he does not go to the market and kill everybody, any nonbeliever wherever he finds them."
Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school UPDATED / Boing Boing
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 23:42
Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.
He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.
He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.
When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That's who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.
Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, ''It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?"
They did take him into custody.
Mohamed was booked, fingerprinted and taken to juvenile detention. He has been suspended for three days.
The Mohamed family came to America from Sudan. Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, is a frequent candidate for president in Sudanese elections.
Anil Dash is collecting suggestions for ways of helping Ahmed Mohamed. I've seen proposals to buy him a life membership to a local makerspace, which seems like a good start.
Update: Irving High School Principal Daniel Cummings sent an unrepentant letter to parents yesterday, urging parents to tell their children to immediately report "suspicious items."
''He just wants to invent good things for mankind,'' said Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president. ''But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.''
He's not the only one who thinks so. Not much for local politics, Mohamed wasn't paying attention over the summer, when Mayor Beth Van Duyne became a national celebrity in anti-Islamic circles, fueling rumors in speeches that the religious minority was plotting to usurp American laws.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations took note.
''This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving's government entities are operating in the current climate,'' said Alia Salem, who directs the council's North Texas chapter and has spoken to lawyers about Ahmed's arrest.
''We're still investigating,'' she said, ''but it seems pretty egregious.''
Meanwhile, Ahmed is sitting home in his bedroom, tinkering with old gears and electrical converters, pronouncing words like ''ethnicity'' for what sounds like the first time.
He's vowed never to take an invention to school again.
Irving 9th-grader arrested after taking homemade clock to school: 'So you tried to make a bomb?' [Avi Selk/Dallas Morning News]
(Image: Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News)
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After Detention, Texas Student's Clock Project, Mistaken for Bomb, Is Invited to White House - NYTimes.com
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:29
U.S.
[Video: Irving MacArthur student arrested after bringing homemade clock to school Watch on YouTube.]
Irving MacArthur student arrested after bringing homemade clock to school
Video by The Dallas Morning News
A high school student in Texas whose hobby is inventing thought he had a great idea for a project: to build his own clock.
The effort landed him in handcuffs and juvenile detention on Monday, accused of making a hoax bomb.
The detention of Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex., near Dallas, generated a national furor even after the police said on Wednesday that he would not be charged as questions arose about whether he was targeted because of his religion.
The episode even came to the attention of the nation's top leaders, who deplored the treatment of the young man. ''Cool clock, Ahmed,'' President Obama said on Twitter. ''Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.''
Mr. Obama's staff went on to invite Ahmed to come to the White House for Astronomy Night, to be held Oct. 19, an event bringing together scientists, engineers, astronauts, teachers and students to spend an evening stargazing from the South Lawn. The president's spokesman held out the encounter as a case study in unreasoned prejudice in an era when the country is fighting Islamic terrorism at home and in the Middle East.
''This episode is a good illustration of how pernicious stereotypes can prevent even good-hearted people who have dedicated their lives to educating young people from doing the good work that they set out to do,'' said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.
Careful not to appear to be bashing teachers just two days after Mr. Obama chastised Republicans for doing so, Mr. Earnest nonetheless said, ''In this instance, it's clear that at least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him. That's too bad, but it's not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment and to search our own conscience for biases in whatever form they take.''
The episode provoked widespread discussion about bias and improper police conduct toward a nonwhite, Muslim student of Sudanese heritage who happens to have a love of tinkering.
''It would not have occurred if he did not have a Muslim name and have a heritage from the Muslim world,'' said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, calling it a symptom ''of the growing Islamophobia in our nation.''
''We have seen almost no pushback,'' Mr. Hooper said. ''When businesses declare themselves Muslim-free zones that sends a message that it is O.K. to do these things.''
Thousands of people took to social media on Wednesday, many posting photos of themselves with clocks. The Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, encouraged Ahmedto ''stay curious,'' and the chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, urged him to ''keep building.''
''If you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you,'' Mr. Zuckerberg said.
Ahmed said he brought the clock, which he had fashioned with a digital face in an inexpensive box, to school on Monday to show to an engineering teacher, who said it was ''nice'' but then told him that he should not show the invention to other teachers.
But when it beeped during an English class, Ahmed revealed the device to his English teacher, according to an account in The Dallas Morning News. ''She was like, it looks like a bomb,'' he said.
In a video posted on the newspaper's website, Ahmed described how he was eventually taken from school by the police. ''They took me to a room filled with five officers,'' he said. ''They interrogated me, and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention.''
He said he was fingerprinted, and mug shots were taken at a juvenile detention center. He was not allowed to call his parents but was released when they came to get him.
The clock had a digital display, built into a metal case with a circuit board.
On Wednesday, the Irving police chief, Larry Boyd, said the police were justified in detaining the teenager based on the information they had at the time, when initially it was ''not immediately evident that it was the experiment.''
But the chief said in a news conference that the police were not pursuing charges.
''We have no evidence to support that there was an intention to create an alarm,'' he said. He said the situation could be ''challenging'' as the police try to work on relations with Muslims and other communities.
Asked whether the police would have reacted differently if Ahmed had been white, Chief Boyd said they would have followed the same procedures. ''You can't take things like that to school,'' he said.
Ahmed said the clock itself was housed in a box you could get at Target for $5 or $10, but the officers accused him of making a ''movie bomb'' or a hoax device made to look like a bomb.
''It made me feel like a criminal,'' he said. He was suspended for three days.
The Irving Independent School District said in a statement on Wednesday that the information released to the public about the incident was ''unbalanced,'' but officials said they could not comment further because of federal student privacy law.
The school district said it would release more information about the case if Mr. Ahmed's family consented in writing. In the meantime, it would continue to handle the case in accordance with the district's student code of conduct.
On social media, Twitter users shared messages through #IStandWithAhmed.
The story generated its share of jokes.
Soon after the detention, a police spokesman, James McLellan, was quoted by The Dallas Morning News as saying that Ahmed never claimed his device was anything but a clock.
But officers not believe Ahmed was giving them the whole story.
''He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation,'' he said.
''It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for?''
The school also released a letter after the incident warning parents they needed to remind students to report suspicious behavior and items.
The letter dated Sept. 15 was signed by the high school principal, Dan Cummings, who explained that the police had responded to a ''suspicious looking item'' on campus.
CYBER!
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Obama faces growing momentum to support widespread encryption - The Washington Post
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:11
White House officials have backed away from seeking a legislative fix to deal with the rise of encryption on communication devices, and they are even weighing whether to publicly reject a law requiring firms to be able to unlock their customers' smartphones and apps under court order.
For the past year, law enforcement and the intelligence community have warned that an inability to obtain decrypted data is putting public safety and national security at risk, arguing it will allow criminals and terrorists to communicate securely. They have appealed to tech companies to voluntarily come up with solutions for their own products, and they don't want to rule out legislation entirely.
But over the summer, momentum has grown among officials in the commerce, diplomatic, trade and technology agencies for a statement from the president ''strongly disavowing'' a legislative mandate and supporting widespread encryption, according to senior officials and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
[Read the NSC draft options paper on strategic approaches to encryption]
Their argument: Ruling out a law and supporting encryption would counter the narrative that the United States is seeking to expand its surveillance capability at the expense of cybersecurity. They say the statement from the president also would help repair global trust in the U.S. government and U.S. tech companies, whose public images have taken a beating in the wake of disclosures about widespread National Security Agency surveillance.
And, they argue, it would undercut foreign competitors' claims that U.S. firms are instruments of mass surveillance.
Strong pushback has come from national security officials who think that they ought to be able to retrieve text messages, photos and other material when they have a warrant and who think that their inability to do so is hampering criminal and counterterrorism investigations. If they can't gain access to decrypted data, they warn, there will be a tragedy that could have been averted.
[As encryption spreads, U.S. grapples with clash between privacy, security]
''The encryption issue .'‰.'‰. both in this country and abroad is going to have a major impact on how law enforcement and intelligence do their jobs,'' said a senior administration official, who was given permission to be interviewed, but on the condition of anonymity because of the topic's sensitivity. ''It's not surprising that they want to make sure that the public discourse includes a healthy debate about their issues as well.''
The official said that the White House's goal is ''driving towards a consensus where we can get an administration position out there.'' But ''there are people that have very strong opinions on both sides of this issue.''
Privately, law enforcement officials have acknowledged that prospects for congressional action this year are remote. Although ''the legislative environment is very hostile today,'' the intelligence community's top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, ''it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.''
There is value, he said, in ''keeping our options open for such a situation.''
Litt was commenting on a draft paper prepared by National Security Council staff members in July, which also was obtained by The Post, that analyzed several options. They included explicitly rejecting a legislative mandate, deferring legislation and remaining undecided while discussions continue.
None mentioned calling for legislation.
[Why the fear over ubiquitous encryption might be overblown ]
In October, FBI Director James B. Comey, in a speech at the Brookings Institution, said he was ''focused on trying to get the law changed'' so that companies would be required to unlock data and devices for law enforcement, when it has a warrant. ''I'm hoping we can now start a dialogue with Congress on updating'' the law, he said.
By July, the tone of law enforcement officials had softened. ''We do believe that it's important now, rather than seeking a legislative fix across the board, that we try to work with the individual companies'' to achieve solutions, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates testified before Congress. Each company knows its systems best, she said. ''What works for Apple might not be the best solution for another of the communications providers,'' she said.
Some White House aides had hoped to have a report on the issue to give to the president months ago. But ''the complexity of this issue really makes it a very challenging area to arrive at any sort of policy on,'' the senior official said. A Cabinet meeting to be chaired by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, ostensibly to make a decision, initially was scheduled for Wednesday, but it has been postponed.
The senior official said that the delays are due primarily to scheduling issues '-- ''there are a lot of other things going on in the world'' '-- that are pressing on officials' time.
What is clear, though, is that the law enforcement argument is ''just not carrying the day,'' said a second senior official, who, like several others, was not authorized to speak on the record. ''People are still not persuaded this is a problem. People think we have not made the case. We do not have the perfect example where you have the dead child or a terrorist act to point to, and that's what people seem to claim you have to have.''
[FBI chief: Terrorist group turning to encrypted communications]
The draft paper was a ''snapshot at a point in time'' and does not reflect recent updates, the first senior official said. Nonetheless, other officials said, they capture themes heard in the current debate.
Notably, in drawing up the paper, aides had removed an option included in an earlier draft that would have encouraged legislation or other ''compulsory'' actions. No one, including law enforcement, officials said, thinks it is a realistic option today.
The option to ''disavow legislation'' was added in July at the urging of officials at economic and trade agencies, a third senior official said.
This option, NSC aides said in the paper, ''would remove technology companies' most consistent grievance with the administration,'' and it might improve cooperation on the issue of encryption.
''Overall, the benefits to privacy, civil liberties and cybersecurity gained from encryption outweigh the broader risks that would have been created by weakening encryption,'' the paper stated.
This option also would ''clearly differentiate'' U.S. policy from moves by China and others to mandate decryption and would bolster the United States' reputation ''as a leading source'' of secure products and services, it added.
But, the paper said, the option would ''not provide any relief'' to law enforcement in the near term.
Litt, in his e-mail, quipped: ''I think one could equally or more accurately say that it will not provide ANY relief, ever.''
He also took issue with the assertion that a strong statement from the United States could dissuade authoritarian regimes from seeking compulsory legislation of their own. ''Really?'' he wrote. ''Does anyone seriously believe that if the U.S. says we won't seek access, the Chinese and Russians will say, 'OK, you are right. We'll give up?' I don't think so.''
Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She focuses on issues relating to intelligence, technology and civil liberties.
Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
Top Intel Lawyer Says Terror Attack Would Help Push for Anti-Encryption Legislation
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:09
The intelligence community's top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, told colleagues in an August email obtained by the Washington Post that Congressional support for anti-encryption legislation ''could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.''
So he advised ''keeping our options open for such a situation.''
Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, is well known for making flip comments. But in this case, his private observation offered insight into just how eager some officials are to come up with examples to support their argument that end-to-end encryption '-- which precludes law enforcement from intercepting communications between two parties '-- presents an imminent danger to national security.
The Post story was about the lack of momentum for legislation that would require firms to be able to unlock their customers' smartphones and apps under court order.
A senior official granted anonymity by the Post acknowledged that the law enforcement argument is ''just not carrying the day.'' He told the Post reporters: ''People are still not persuaded this is a problem. People think we have not made the case. We do not have the perfect example where you have the dead child or a terrorist act to point to, and that's what people seem to claim you have to have.''
On Tuesday, Amy Hess, a top FBI official, told reporters that the bureau has ''done a really bad job collecting empirical data'' on the encryption problem. FBI Director James Comey has attempted to provide examples of how law enforcement is ''going dark,'' but none have checked out. Only Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been able to provide an example of encrypted technology maybe blocking one possible lead in a murder investigation.
Caption: Robert Litt at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
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Can feds dodge the Cisco router hack? -- FCW
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:43
Cybersecurity
Can feds dodge the Cisco router hack?By Zach NobleSep 15, 2015Hackers have claimed new territory, hacking into commercial routers, but federal agencies may not have anything to fear '' at least, not anything more than the private sector.
FireEye's Mandiant team announced that they had discovered 14 Cisco routers implanted with ''SYNful Knock'' malware in four countries '' Ukraine, Philippines, Mexico and India '' on Sept. 15.
"This is the ultimate spying tool, the ultimate corporate espionage tool, the ultimate cybercrime tool," FireEye Chief Executive Dave DeWalt told Reuters.
Cisco said it alerted customers of the problem in August.
Hackers didn't exploit a hardware or software vulnerability, but instead used ''valid administrative credentials or physical access to the victim's device'' to implant the malware, Cisco wrote in a blog post.
As FireEye and Reuters both noted, commercial routers haven't really been thought of as vulnerable to takeover, despite the fact that they operate outside of the full gaze of organizational security tools.
''Imagine for a second that every bit of data going in and out of [global] companies could be compromised without any knowledge of it,'' the FireEye team wrote. ''You might first assume that all of the databases or servers would need to be under attacker control. But the router's position on the edge of the network can now be turned against you to achieve this goal.''
DeWalt said it was likely a nation with sophisticated cyber capabilities behind the attack, but didn't name a probable culprit.
FCW asked the Homeland Security Department and Cisco for estimates of the number of Cisco devices currently being used by federal agencies, but neither organization was able to offer figures. (FireEye noted, as Cisco did, that Cisco doesn't seem to be to blame for these attacks; fault appears to lie with organizations having poor controls over router access.)
A Cisco spokeswoman said that federal agencies don't appear to face any greater risk than the private sector, and urged agencies to limit physical access to routers and ensure privileged credentials are protected.
''[W]e haven't found this on our current Fed customers' networks and we're currently working with all our customers to identify indicators of compromise that can help them determine their exposure to this attack method,'' FireEye Communications Director Dan Wire told FCW. He added the caveat, ''We can only report on what we actually found and can't make assumptions if federal agencies are impacted.''
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team refused to comment on the attack.
Feds may be in the clear for now, but the threat is likely to persist.
''We believe that the detection of SYNful Knock is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attacks utilizing modified router images (regardless of vendor),'' FireEye's announcement warned. ''As attackers focus their efforts on gaining persistent access, it is likely that other undetected variants of this implant are being deployed throughout the globe.''
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
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DOD looks to Silicon Valley to automate cyber response -- FCW
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:59
Cybersecurity
DOD looks to Silicon Valley to automate cyber responseBy Mark RockwellSep 16, 2015DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen says more automation could also make attacking DoD targets less attractive for hackers.
Pentagon CIO Terry Halvorsen says Defense Department efforts to tap Silicon Valley entrepreneurial and tech development expertise could help take care of some repetitive cybersecurity maintenance drudgery, freeing up cyber defenders for more important tasks.
In a media conference call on Sept. 15, Halvorsen said he hopes DoD's six-month-old effort to develop cyber defense technologies with Silicon Valley companies will produce tools that automatically take care of everyday cybersecurity chores such as software patching, system diagnostics and data logging. He's also looking to Silicon Valley to help develop better defenses against first-time ''Zero-Day'' attacks.
Those automated capabilities, he said, will not only allow the agency to move IT personnel to more critical work, but could also make attacking DoD IT less attractive to less sophisticated cyber marauders.
Smaller scale attacks based on commonly available exploits may cost attackers only a few dollars to launch, but can cost the DoD huge sums to defend against, he said. Automating the responses to such simple attacks can raise the costs of making the attack in the first place, he said. ''If the response is fast enough, it can make it too expensive to play'' for some smaller attackers, he said.
Earlier in September, Halvorsen called for industry help in changing the economics of cyberspace so that it is more costly for hackers to inflict damage and cheaper for the Pentagon to defend itself.
Halvorsen is also looking to California for scarce cyber personnel, hoping the lure of working on huge, meaningful national defense projects can outweigh the Valley's advantages.
The Pentagon's IT offices don't have the in-house cafes and other amenities that some high-tech company offices have, but it offers a greater purpose, according to Halvorsen. ''That Valley atmosphere encourages people to stay at work,'' he said. ''We suffer. We can't pay like the [private] cybersecurity sector. However, we do offer the chance to work on projects with huge scale and importance.''
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
NCI Agency and Microsoft sign cyber cooperation agreement
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:26
Within the wider framework of the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership (NICP), the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency announced on 15 September the signing of the Government Security Program (GSP) agreement with Microsoft.
The GSP is a programme designed by Microsoft, addressing government agencies, in order to evaluate and protect existing systems and maintain more secure infrastructure. Forty-four different agencies from twenty-six governments worldwide are already involved in the programme creating a forum and collaborative environment where exchange visions and foster transparency, reliability and integrity in order to improve cybersecurity.
"We see this signing as another step forward in the NATO -Industry Cyber Partnership, building a stronger cyber defence network today with Microsoft, but also with other Industry partners across the world" said Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Assistant Secretary General of NATO's Emerging Security Challenges Division.
The announcement was made at the opening of NATO's annual cyber conference, where progress in the NATO -Industry Cyber Partnership, including greater information-sharing was the focus of discussions between top NATO officials and senior executives from North American and European Industry.
Intelligence sharing
The agreement expands technical information sharing between Microsoft, other GSP parties and the NCI Agency. The NCI Agency will gain access to technical information, and documentation about Microsoft products and services, as well as information about internet safety, threat intelligence, online training tools and guidance to help mitigate the effects of cyberattacks across the region. A practical effect will be, for instance that Microsoft will provide the Agency with data about hosts that have been infected with botnet exploits, and the Agency will be able use this data to identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities in these systems.
"NATO is facing new and increasingly dangerous threats to cybersecurity across the world and these threats could affect national economies and citizens. To avoid it, NCI Agency strongly believes in rapid and early information sharing on threats and vulnerabilities with leading companies worldwide, such as Microsoft. Trust is the key to success," said Koen Gijsbers NCI Agency General Manager.
For more information contact: Michal Olejarnik, NCI Agency Communication Manager,Michal.olejarnik@ncia.nato.intor +32 475 90 70 40.
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Candanavia
"There's Just No Cash" Oil Price Increase Will Not Come Fast Enough To Save Alberta
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:15
Submitted by David Yager via OilPrice.com,
''There's just no cash.'' That's the Coles Notes from a senior banker describing the book of oil service loans he manages for one of Alberta's leading lenders. There's simply not enough cash flow to support current levels of debt.
Bankers and borrowers have kicked the can down the road about as far as they can as more oilfield service (OFS) and exploration and production (E&P) companies default on their loans and seek more relief on lending covenants. While a significant oil price increase to lift all the sinking boats will surely come, it won't happen soon enough. More of the same won't work.
Oil industry debt is everyday news. But the discussion is about the symptoms, not the ailment.
Companies cannot borrow their way out of debt. Equity capital is only available at distressed valuations. Specialized OFS assets will fetch only a fraction of replacement cost'--if somebody actually wants them. Although oil and gas reserve valuations are down by half, borrowers are being forced to sell them anyway to repair balance sheets. The last four months of 2015 will be very difficult for any company with meaningful amounts of debt. Same for their lenders, the other signatories to the loan agreement.
As the banker said, ''There's just no cash.'' Here's what it means.
The foundation of global credit markets is based upon the borrower's capability, obligation and commitment to pay the money back. The amount of money anybody can or should borrow is dependent upon free cash. Not forecast cash flow, not earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), not good intentions. Free cash. How much money is available to service debt after all the other bills are paid. This is the key factor behind every credit application, from a car loan or home mortgage to an operating line of credit or senior secured term debt. The more free cash you generate, the more you can borrow. When free cash drops, the opposite is true.
But what happens when an entire industry can no longer service previous levels of debt?
ARC Financial produces a weekly chart calculating revenue, spending and upstream cash flow for the entire Canadian E&P sector for the current and preceding 14 years. Selected data has been reproduced below. MNP added 1998, 1999 and 2000 from prior reports. ARC calculates total revenue from all oil and gas produced, then deducts direct lifting and operating costs, taxes and royalties and the administrative cost of running the business. The result is ''after-tax cash flow,'' which is the free cash available for exploration, development, dividends and, of course, debt servicing.
Gross revenue from production sales is in blue and after-tax cash flow in red. The green line is 2015's estimated cash flow compared to prior years. The figures are not corrected for inflation.
While the 2014 numbers aren't finalized, ARC estimates total revenue was an all-time record $149.2 billion, generating after-tax cash flow of $67.1 billion, the second-highest in history. Combined with capital inflows from debt and equity and inter-company transfers, E&Ps invested $75 billion on conventional and oilsands capital expenditures (CAPEX, not shown). CAPEX in 2014 was also at an all-time record which created fabulous revenue and earnings for OFS.
This year is brutal. ARC expects revenue to plunge 33.6 percent to $99 billion, the lowest number since 2009. Except for the recession, you have to go back to 2004 to find total revenue that low. But because today's production mix is increasingly composed of high-cost oilsands, cash flow is expected to be only $28.9 billion, 43 percent of 2014's levels. This is the lowest level of after-tax cash flow generated by producers since 2001.
ARC's estimated CAPEX this year is only $39.1 billion, 52 percent of last year's levels. That's why the active rig count is the lowest in years.
If the whole industry only has 43 percent of 2014's cash flow, then in theory it can only carry 43 percent of last year's debt. Of course, debt is not evenly distributed but the point is clear; the industry's macro balance sheet is under severe stress. When Canada's Big Six banks reported their earnings for the third quarter ended July 31, 2015 it was noted these lenders had total exposure to the upstream oil and gas industry of about $44 billion. Including other sources of debt (bonds, other banks, equipment leasing companies), this figure is likely only a fraction of total obligations. It could easily be $60 billion, probably much more. With so many private operators complete figures are impossible to compile.
At current oil prices, too many producers are not generating enough free cash for their debt levels. For oilsands, some bitumen is undoubtedly produced at a cash loss. Success at current prices is based entirely on geology. Some reservoirs are less price sensitive than others. Some E&Ps have less debt than others. Hedges on future production locked in last year at much higher prices cushioned the problem. As they expire, they cannot be replaced.
When you see reports that some producers are cutting staff, slashing dividends and selling properties, that's because they've hit the debt-to-free-cash wall. OFS is also in tough shape. E&Ps have demanded suppliers cut prices and vendors have complied. Free cash from operations is either nominal or non-existent. Some are in default, some are in special credit and some are insolvent. Service companies are also slashing or cancelling dividends. Like E&Ps, you pay your shareholders AFTER you have paid your banker.
So, if too many outfits are seriously over-levered for current prices, now what? How this affects different companies is as diverse as the companies themselves. The quickest way to de-lever balance sheets is to sell things'--either shares or assets'--to raise cash. But to whom? At what price? What if this can't be done?
Lenders are also in this mess up to their nostrils. They've been hoping this problem would just go away, a strategy with significant merit considering the alternative. The first quarter of 2015 was mostly shock and awe as prices tumbled. Where's the bottom? It came on March 17 when benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed US$43.39. Or so everyone thought. The first quarter average price was US$48.54. Awful, but surely it couldn't get worse.
The second quarter looked promising as WTI recovered significantly, reaching US$61.36 on June 10. The average price in Q2 was US$57.85. There was optimism that the worst was over. Borrowers requesting covenant waivers and forbearance letters were, for the most part, accommodated. No need to panic. Rising oil prices saved the day in 2009. Perhaps this would happen again.
But the summer of 2015 has been brutal and set the tone for the rest of the year. Oil started to slide in July, averaging only US$50.90, and fell further in August until WTI reached a new six year low of US$38.22 on August 24. It closed on Friday September 4 at US$45.77. Futures markets, which showed materially higher forward prices earlier this year, indicate few believe crude will recover soon. The October 2016 WTI price was only US$51.59 on September 4. October 17 was US$55.47. No hedging opportunities now.
What will lenders do? When Canada's Big Six banks reported results for the quarter ended July 31, 2015, they declared Gross Impaired Loans of $13.8 billion, about $1.8 billion more than the same period in 2014. They set aside more funds for bad oil and gas loans but also published explanations of how their oilpatch exposure was manageable. But things got much worse in August. This figure will surely rise for year-end reports prepared as of October 31, 2015.
In the next few months, non-performing loans (offside of covenants) will be split into two categories: salvageable and hopeless. The former could live to fight another day. The latter may end up with new owners, new lenders or completely insolvent with assets auctioned to the highest bidder.
Salvageable loans will be those where management has demonstrated its understanding of the seriousness of breaching covenants and will have done everything possible to work with the bank, keep the credit in place and preserve shareholders' equity. This includes cutting costs, slashing or eliminating dividends and raising equity or selling assets to reduce debt and de-leverage. Key elements include lender relationship management, presentation of all relevant data, credible forecasts and respect for who is really driving the bus. Covenants will be amended and stretched. There will be a serious effort by lenders to keep these borrowers and loans solvent to maintain the debt as an asset on their own balance sheets.
Hopeless loans will be dealt with increasingly expeditiously. These are companies with business models that no longer work or companies which are unable or unwilling to present the information lenders require to further amend credit terms that have already been amended. Impossible demands for cash will be made from asset sales or equity injections. When this can't be done, the file will be moved to special credit. There, the lender will do whatever it must to recover as much cash as possible. Options include selling the debt or the assets at whatever price can be secured. Shareholders' equity will be zero, current management will likely be replaced and companies may disappear.
Back in the last half of the 1980s, things were equally awful. Then, at least one major bank converted its loan to a drilling contractor to equity, in the form of preferred shares, coined ''distress prefs.'' The covenants were as rigid as the debt, but it worked. Whether lenders and borrowers will become this creative this time is not yet known. The story goes the largest drilling contractor in Canada in the 1980s was the Royal Bank of Canada. It's safe to say they don't ever want to get back into this business.
There are significant pools of capital '' equity and debt '' waiting patiently to exploit opportunities. Valuations and calling the bottom have been major obstacles. Lenders will take care of that. Owners and equity holders on the wrong side of their debt will no longer be in a position to dictate price or value. Deals will get done.
There is great remorse on all sides. Companies are realizing when business was good they got greedy and tried to grow faster than cash flow permitted, and used debt instead of equity to lever shareholder returns. Lenders are realizing they loaned money to management teams which talked a good story but in the end didn't have the business model or know-how to manage the company through a serious and prolonged slump.
To remain competitive, the Canadian oilpatch must seriously de-lever. Everybody '' lenders and borrowers '' will be taking a haircut until total debt is in line with free cash. Many companies will become ''second owner businesses'' as new lenders or owners restructure and reduce debt until it reaches a level the market can support.
It would be great to be wrong but oil prices will not solve this problem anytime soon.
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F-Russia
OPEC, Russia and the Emerging New World Order Emerging | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:57
By the day it's becoming clearer that what I have recently been saying in my writings is coming to be. The OPEC oil-producing states of the Middle East, including Iran, through the skillful mediation of Russia, are carefully laying the foundations for a truly new world order. The first step in testing this will be if they collectively succeed in eliminating the threat to Syria of the Islamic State, and prepare the basis for serious, non-manipulated elections there.
For much of my adult life I have been fascinated by the enormous energy inside our Earth and how in fact the Earth moves as almost a living organism. Most fascinating I find is tectonic motion and their connection to earthquakes and volcanoes. Not the human destruction they sometimes cause but the sheer energy. Tectonic motion involves the huge plates that our Earth is divided into which are in constant micro-motion. At critical junctures which Earth science or geophysics has yet to be able to predict far ahead, the motion of those tectonic plates cause earthquakes and determine where earthquakes will occur.
In the political, more accurately geo-political sphere, we are now witnessing huge tectonic motion, and destructive it is not. It involves a new attractive force drawing the Middle East OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran and other Arab OPEC countries, into what will soon become obvious as a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation. It transcends the huge religious divides today between Sunni Wahhabism, Sufi, Shi'ism, Orthodox Christianity.
That tectonic motion will soon cause a political earthquake that well might save the planet from extinction by the endless wars the Pentagon and their string pullers on Wall Street and the military industrial complex and the loveless oligarchs who own them seem to have as their only strategy today.
Russia in OPEC?
In an interview with the London Financial Times, Russia's most important oilman, Igor Sechin, CEO of the state-owned Rosneft, confirmed rumors that Saudi Arabia's monarchy is seeking a formal market-share agreement with Russia, even going so far as offering Russia membership in OPEC, to stabilize world oil markets. In the interview, Sechin, considered one of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies, confirmed the Saudi offer. The Financial Times (FT) is an influential media owned until this past July by the Pearson Group an asset tied to the Rothschild family who historically also dominate Royal Dutch Shell.
The London paper chose to emphasize Sechin's rejection of the Saudi offer. However, most instructive is to read between the lines of what he said. He told a Singapore commodities conference organized by the FT, ''It needs to be recognised that Opec's 'golden age' in the oil market has been lost. They fail to observe their own quotas [for Opec oil output]. If quotas had been observed, global oil markets would have been rebalanced by now.''
Sechin well knows the background to the Saudi oil price war and the fact it was triggered by a meeting between US State Department's John Kerry and the late Saudi King Abdullah in the desert Kingdom in September 2014, where Kerry reportedly urged the Saudis to crash oil prices. For Kerry the aim was to put unbearable pressure on Russia, then hit by US and EU financial sanctions. For the Saudis, it was a golden opportunity to eliminate the biggest disturbing factor in the OPEC domination of world oil markets''the booming production of US unconventional shale oil that had made the USA the world's largest oil producer in 2014.
Ironically, as Sechin told the FT, the US-Saudi deal and the US financial sanctions have backfired on the US strategists. The Russian ruble lost more than 50% of its dollar value by January 2015. Oil prices similarly fell from $103 a barrel in September 2014 to less than $50 today. But Russian oil production costs are calculated in rubles, not dollars. So, as Sechin states, the dollar cost of Rosneft oil production has dropped dramatically today from $5 a barrel before the sanctions to only $3 a barrel, a level similar to that of Arab OPEC producers like Saudi Arabia. Rosneft is not hurting despite sanctions. USA shale oil by contrast is unconventional and vastly more costly. Industry estimates depending on the shale field and the company, put costs of shale in a range of $60-80 a barrel just to break even. The current ongoing shakeout in the US shale industry and prospects of rising US interest rates dictate the demise of shale oil from the US for years if not decades to come as Wall Street lenders and shale company junk bond investors suffer huge losses.
Unknotting the 'not' knot
I would like to indulge in a brief exercise in imagining what some form of close coordination between Russia and a Saudi-led OPEC grouping would look like. I call it ''unknotting the 'not' knot,'' the knot over control of world oil flows that has held the world in a hypnosis of wars and murder, hate for too long.
First the new grouping between Russia and the Mideast oil states would have to negotiate stable market relations between themselves and their prime markets such as China and the EU. Alexander Mercouris in a very insightful piece suggests that the Sechin statement to the FT can be seen as an opening Russian negotiating position with the Saudi OPEC offer.
At the Singapore commodities conference, Rosneft's Sechin indicated that China and Russia this year have agreed to a total of various oil deals amounting to some $500 billion over the next 20 years or $25 billion a year for Rosneft. Saudi Arabia was formerly China's largest oil source until Russia's Rosneft entered in a major way. That was a strategic decision for Russia as for China and not a mere market-driven one. Now, regardless what Sechin did or did not say to the FT, there is no good reason for Russia not to untie the knot of world oil to the Anglo-Americans and enter into serious negotiations with Saudi Arabia on strategic cooperation of some consequent form.
Quotas could be agreed so that Russia and Saudi Arabia and OPEC act much as the Anglo-American oil companies did in 1928 to end literal wars between the British Rothschild group behind Royal Dutch Shell and the Rockefeller Standard Oil companies for world oil market control, wars that raged across the world from Mexico to Baku, from Kuwait to Texas.
The Anglo-American oil wars were ended in a meeting at the Achnacarry Scotland castle of Royal Dutch Shell's Sir Henry Deterding in 1927. The American and British oil companies formally agreed to a ''ceasefire'' which resulted in the creation of the enormously powerful Anglo-American oil cartel, later dubbed the 'Seven Sisters.' The peace agreement was formalized in 1927, at Achnacarry, the Scottish castle of Shell's Sir Henri Deterding. John Cadman, representing the British government's Anglo-Persian Oil Co. (British Petroleum), and Walter Teagle, president of Rockefeller's Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon), gathered under the cover of a grouse shoot to create the most powerful economic cartel in modern history. The Seven Sisters were effectively joined at the hip, acting in the world as one at least until 1945.
Their secret pact was formalized as the 'As Is' agreement of 1928, or the Achnacarry Agreement. British and American oil majors agreed to accept the existing market divisions and shares, to set a secret world cartel price, and to end the destructive competition and price wars in what became the Red Line Agreement. Britain forced a weakened France to agree in 1927 to let the Americans into the Middle East and revise the secret wartime Sykes-Picot accords to re¬‚ect that. A Red Line was drawn from the Dardanelles down through Palestine, to Yemen and up through the Persian Gulf.
The Anglo-American Red Line Agreement has led to oil wars and world wars since 1928
The history of the past approximately 88 years since that secret Anglo-American oil cartel agreement is not understandable if that fateful Achnacarry Red Line Agreement and its ensuing political corollaries are not understood.
Now what is very likely to emerge in the current extraordinary situation is a negotiated arrangement between Putin's Russia and the Saudi-led OPEC oil producers of the Middle East, including Iran, to devise a new ordering of world energy supply, one independent of the near century of Anglo-American domination. The benefits of such a new world ordering are simply too great for all involved parties to ignore.
Whether or not Igor Sechin is ready to think in such terms, it is abundantly clear by his diplomacy that President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are. Not that Sechin is incapable, but the recent sacking of Vladimir Yakunin, chief executive officer of OAO Russian Railways shows that Putin is prepared to move the global situation even if it is not to the liking of his closest old circle of friends, if he deems it for a greater good of Russia.
What would be in it for Russia? Huge benefits. It would secure the world's largest pool of hydrocarbons''oil and gas''by the nations of the contiguous land mass that British ''father'' of geopolitics, Sir Halford Mackinder referred to as the ''World island''''Russia, China, Indian subcotinent, South Asia, and now radiating in an arc deep into the entire Middle East oil belt and on into Egypt in North Africa. It would provide Russia safe markets outside the Anglo-American current war zone.
Russia would be in an entirely new negotiating position vis-a-vis German and EU economic sanctions. It would also transform the political map of the so-called American Century that emerged out of the war in 1945 with Truman's decision to drom the atomic bombs on Japan.
In such an accord with Russia, the oil producing countries of the Middle East would join as central parties to the unfolding economic boom that is emerging out of the China One Belt, One Road new Economic Silk Road rail and sea port infrastructure project.
That project, to recall, is already well underway, and Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union states have recently agreed with China to integrate the rail route development of both. The development of huge new sea ports in Myanmar and other sites around Eurasia and the Indian Ocean will directly link the Gulf countries to that Eurasian booming new economic market and beyond.
The inclusion of Iran, a geopolitical essential for all parties, as well as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab OPEC states, along with Egypt, together in an alliance with the negotiated military support of the one state in the world today able to challenge the USA, namely, Russia, would end more than a century of Anglo-American colonial wars and destruction in the region, the most recent of which is the Washington-CIA-instigated series of destructive Color Revolutions dubbed the ''Arab Spring.''
Resolution of the US-UK-instigated Syrian war and their unleashing of the so-called IS on the world''lest we forget, that war and the role of the terror of the IS is the source of the ongoing refugee crisis that is destabilizing all Europe'' such a peaceful resolution, absent the demands of Washington that President Assad go into exile, or that US-sponsored terrorist groups like al-Nusra and the Muslim Brotherhood take power, would be the first sign of this cooperation between Russia and the influential oil states of the Middle East. It would deal a devastating blow to the Washington warhawks.
As this new world ordering, including Saudi-led Arab OPEC states, Russia, China and all Eurasia becomes more likely by the day, Secretary John Kerry, CIA chief John Brennan, as well as incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Francis ''Fighting Joe'' Dunford, an outspoken Russophobe, along with the various neo-con Washington think-tanks, Defense Secretary and Democratic Party neo-con Ash (as in ashes of war) Carter, Susan Rice, war-mongering UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Vice President Joe Biden (possibly the next US President), the entire USA military industrial complex, the Wall Street money financing it, and families such as Rockefeller, Bush, Clinton, McCain, Gates, Buffett'--all these poor unhappy people are beginning to feel suddenly naked, standing in the Arctic cold frozen waters without even a paddle or an ice-breaker to navigate.
I can empathize with their feeling, but I can't feel sorry for them in any way. Their time has gone for all the good they have managed not to do. It's past time for real American citizens to retake their country. After all, aren't we the majority? We just forgot we can also be good. We should leave the war matrix behind.
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''.
US Drones Attack Syria's Military
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:10
by Steven Lendman
On September 11, a publication called Russian Spring reported US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on Syrian military positions '' ''disguised as an airstrike on ISIS.''
Syrian journalists learned details of what's happening. Numerous civilians were killed. According to Syrian military sources, covert US drone strikes against its forces and positions happened before, part of Washington's phony war on ISIS.
On September 1, the Washington Post headlined ''US launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria,'' saying:
CIA and US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operatives ''are flying drones over Syria'' '' conducting targeted air strikes. WaPo lied claiming it's against ''senior Islamic State operatives,'' citing official US sources.
Obama's stepped up bombing complicit with Britain, France, Canada, Australia and Israel heads thing closer to full-scale naked aggression '' to destroy Syrian sovereignty, eliminate an Israeli rival, and isolate Iran ahead of perhaps inventing a pretext to attack the Islamic Republic.
War plans were made years ago, updated as needed. The Iran nuclear deal did nothing to change longstanding US hostility toward Tehran.
Regime change remains official US policy '' wanting Iranian sovereign independence destroyed like what's ongoing in Syria. Maybe Washington has an Islamic State invasion in mind, perhaps aided by US air power.
America targets all independent government worldwide for regime change '' wanting subservient US-controlled vassal states replacing them, a nightmarish scenario for endless conflicts, mass slaughter and destruction and possible nuclear war threatening everyone, everywhere if launched.
Previous articles explained Washington uses ISIS terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers. Obama's Iraq and Syria bombing campaigns support them, targeting infrastructure, and apparently Syrian military positions.
In September 2014, Sergey Lavrov said if US and other Western forces bomb Syria, ''(t)here are reasons to suspect (the campaign may attack) government troops'...on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad's army.''
He commented shortly after Obama announced US plans to allegedly bomb ISIS in Syria '' a ruse, part of Washington's plan to oust Assad.
On September 13, on Russia's Channel 1 Sunday Times program, Lavrov said ''Russia has information that the US knows the position of the IS, but does not bomb them.''
[read more here]
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US Drones Attack Syria's Military, "Disguised as an Airstrike against ISIS"
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:17
On September 11, a publication called Russian Spring reported US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on Syrian military positions - "disguised as an airstrike on ISIS."Syrian journalists learned details of what's happening. Numerous civilians were killed. According to Syrian military sources, covert US drone strikes against its forces and positions happened before, part of Washington's phony war on ISIS.On September 1, the Washington Post headlined "US launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria," saying:
CIA and US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operatives "are flying drones over Syria" - conducting targeted air strikes. WaPo lied claiming it's against "senior Islamic State operatives," citing official US sources.
Obama's stepped up bombing complicit with Britain, France, Canada, Australia and Israel heads thing closer to full-scale naked aggression - to destroy Syrian sovereignty, eliminate an Israeli rival, and isolate Iran ahead of perhaps inventing a pretext to attack the Islamic Republic.
War plans were made years ago, updated as needed. The Iran nuclear deal did nothing to change longstanding US hostility toward Tehran.
Regime change remains official US policy - wanting Iranian sovereign independence destroyed like what's ongoing in Syria. Maybe Washington has an Islamic State invasion in mind, perhaps aided by US air power.
America targets all independent government worldwide for regime change - wanting subservient US-controlled vassal states replacing them, a nightmarish scenario for endless conflicts, mass slaughter and destruction and possible nuclear war threatening everyone, everywhere if launched.
Previous articles explained Washington uses ISIS terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers. Obama's Iraq and Syria bombing campaigns support them, targeting infrastructure, and apparently Syrian military positions.
In September 2014, Sergey Lavrov said if US and other Western forces bomb Syria, "(t)here are reasons to suspect (the campaign may attack) government troops...on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad's army."
He commented shortly after Obama announced US plans to allegedly bomb ISIS in Syria - a ruse, part of Washington's plan to oust Assad.
On September 13, on Russia's Channel 1 Sunday Times program, Lavrov said "Russia has information that the US knows the position of the IS, but does not bomb them."
Its actions don't reflect its publicly stated objective. "Analyzing (them), one cannot but suspect...ulterior motives beyond the stated goal of fighting the Islamic State," said Lavrov.
"Some our colleagues among the coalition members told us they sometimes knew where certain ISIL regiments were stationed but the coalition's command - which is, obviously, the US - did not give them the permission for an airstrike." Washington "conspired towards goals that were not declared ones."
Its war on Syrian sovereignty continues despite Western nations saying "they clearly understand (ISIS) is the main threat in the Middle East and North Africa," not Assad.
If everyone realizes that, but many whisper it, fearing to say it out loud, it is necessary to implement that in action.
Lavrov explained Russia will continue fulfilling its contractual obligations to Syria - supplying arms, munitions and training, as well as humanitarian aid. "These are no mysteries or secrets," he explained. "Our military-technical cooperation seeks to" defeat ISIS.Washington uses mercenary terrorists and its military might to advance its imperium - by crushing fundamental freedoms wherever they exist, including at home, complicit with rogue partners.
Stephen Lendmanlives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PMCentral time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
Big Pharma
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Antidepressant Paxil Is Unsafe for Teenagers, New Analysis Says - NYTimes.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 12:46
Fourteen years ago, a leading drug maker published a study showing that the antidepressant Paxil was safe and effective for teenagers. On Wednesday, a major medical journal posted a new analysis of the same data concluding that the opposite is true.
That study '-- featured prominently by the journal BMJ '-- is a clear break from scientific custom and reflects a new era in scientific publishing, some experts said, opening the way for journals to post multiple interpretations of the same experiment. It comes at a time of self-examination across science '-- retractions are at an all-time high; recent cases of fraud have shaken fields as diverse as anesthesia and political science; and earlier this month researchers reported that less than half of a sample of psychology papers held up.
''This paper is alarming, but its existence is a good thing,'' said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, who was not involved in either the original study or the reanalysis. ''It signals that the community is waking up, checking its work and doing what science is supposed to do '-- self-correct.''
The authors of the reanalysis said that many clinical studies had some of the same issues as the original Paxil study, and that data should be made freely available across clinical medicine, so that multiple parties could analyze them.
The dispute itself is a long-running one: Questions surrounding the 2001 study played a central role in the so-called antidepressant wars of the early 2000s, which led to strong warnings on the labels of Paxil and similar drugs citing the potential suicide risk for children, adolescents and young adults. The drugs are considered beneficial and less risky for many adults over 25 with depression.
Over the years, thousands of people taking or withdrawing from Paxil or other psychiatric drugs have committed violent acts, including suicide, experts said, though no firm statistics are available. Because many factors could have contributed to that behavior, it is still far from clear who is at risk '-- and for whom the drugs are protective.
The maker of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, said it stood by the original conclusions, given what was known at the time. The company also noted that it had provided all the data for the new analysis, ''an unprecedented level of data sharing that speaks to our absolute commitment to transparency.''
The team that reanalyzed the data included several longtime critics of the original study, including a psychiatrist who has been a paid expert witness in lawsuits against Glaxo. But with the company's permission they spent about a year poring over Glaxo's files on the study, combing through summaries, internal trial reports and a sample of what is known as patient-level data, the detailed descriptions of what happened for each person in the original trial.
Interactive Feature | Three Popular Psychology Studies That Didn't Hold Up Researchers re-did 100 published psychology studies, and many did not check out. These are three of the studies, and some possible explanations for why they couldn't be replicated.
The original study began in the late 1990s, when antidepressant makers started testing the drugs in young people. Antidepressant trials are an extremely tricky enterprise, in part because anywhere from a third to more than half of subjects typically improve on placebo. Choices about how to measure improvement '-- and how to label side effects '-- can make all the difference in how good a drug looks.
And so it was in the Paxil study. The original research, led by Dr. Martin Keller of Brown University, tracked depression scores over eight weeks in three groups of about 90 adolescents each, one taking Paxil, one on placebo pills and one taking imipramine, an older generic drug for depression. The Paxil group did no better than the other two groups on the study's main measure '-- a standard depression questionnaire '-- but did rate higher on other, ''secondary'' measures, like another scale of mood problems, the authors reported.
Researchers consider secondary measures like these as akin to circumstantial evidence, potentially meaningful but not as strong as the primary ones.
The drug's manufacturer '-- SmithKline Beecham, now a part of GlaxoSmithKline '-- submitted the trial and others to federal regulators, who told the company that the drug was on track for approval for use in adolescents.
Interactive Feature | Retracted Scientific Studies: A Growing List The retraction by Science of a study of changing attitudes on gay marriage is the latest in a growing number of prominent withdrawals of the results of studies from scientific literature.
But critics began picking apart the study soon after it was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, charging that it was not at all convincing, and that serious side effects had been played down.
Dr. Keller and his co-authors responded at the time that the testing of antidepressants in young people was a new area, that the paper was upfront about its use of secondary measures and that charges of bias were baseless. Glaxo stood by the team's conclusions.
Prescriptions of antidepressants to young people surged in the wake of the study, increasing by 36 percent between 2002 and 2003, according to one analysis. The growth slowed after regulators ordered the black-box warnings on labels.
The reanalysis delivers the same critique as before '-- no clear effectiveness, and mislabeling of serious side effects '-- only from the inside, using voluminous data from the study itself. Its authors include Jon Jureidini, of the University of Adelaide in Australia, an early critic, and Dr. David Healy, a professor of psychiatry at Bangor University in Wales, who, with the help of a BBC reporter, Shelley Jofre, first noticed and made public the serious side effects in the early 2000s and who has acted as an expert witness against Glaxo.
In an interview, Dr. Healy said that five of six adverse events labeled ''emotional lability'' in the original study involved suicidal thinking or behavior but were not presented as such. The patient-level files provided detail on what, exactly, happened in those cases: One teenager was hospitalized after taking 80 Tylenol tablets. Another overdosed on Paxil and other medications after a ''disagreement with her mother.'' Others suffered ''severe suicidal ideation,'' and one was ''admitted due to severe suicidal and homicidal ideation, towards his parents.'' No completed suicides occurred.
''When I first heard about this new analysis, I suspected it might be biased,'' said Dr. Erick Turner, an associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the report. ''But I did my own analysis and found, as they did, no significant effect.''
Dr. Turner added, ''The only way to really know about adverse events is to dig into the patient-level data.''
Dr. Keller and his co-authors strongly disputed the reassessment of their work. In a joint statement, he and his team said they incorporated secondary measures before knowing which patients were taking Paxil and which were not '-- not afterward, as the new analysis claims, for some of the measures. ''In summary, to describe our trial as 'misreported' is pejorative and wrong,'' they conclude.
Study finds young people on antidepressants more prone to violence | The Japan Times
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 12:18
LONDON '' Young people taking antidepressants such as Prozac and Seroxat are significantly more likely to commit violent crimes when they are on the medication, but taking higher doses of the drugs appears to reduce that risk, scientists said Tuesday.
In research published in the PLoS Medicine journal, the scientists said that while their finding of a link does not prove that such drugs cause people to be more violent, further studies should be conducted and extra warnings may be needed in future when they are prescribed to people aged 15 to 24.
Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of widely prescribed drugs, including fluoxetine, branded by Eli Lilly as Prozac, and GlaxoSmithKline's paroxetine, branded as Paxil or Seroxat, designed to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
For this work, researchers led by Seena Fazel of Britain's Oxford University used a unique study design which aimed to avoid confounding factors by comparing the same individuals' behavior while they were on and while they were off medication.
''The point of the design is that we're comparing people with themselves,'' Fazel told reporters at a briefing, adding that this helped minimize the impact of genetics or lifestyle factors.
Using matched data from Sweden's prescribed drug register and its national crime register over a three-year period, they found about 850,000 people were prescribed SSRIs, and 1.0 percent of these were convicted of a violent crime.
While in most age groups the likelihood of criminal violence was not significantly different when people were taking SSRIs and when they were not, in 15- to 24-year-olds there was a distinct increase '-- of 43 percent '-- in their risk of committing violent crime while on the medication.
The results also found a higher risk of young people being involved in violent arrests, non-violent convictions and arrests, nonfatal injuries and having alcohol problems when they were taking the antidepressants '-- but also that those who took lower doses had a higher risk of being violent.
Fazel stressed that the findings raised several questions and should be investigated further before any changes were recommended on prescribing SSRIs. He said it was possible that young people taking lower doses of antidepressants were not being ''fully treated'' for their mental disorder, leaving them more likely to engage in impulsive behavior.
He added, however, that if the results are confirmed in further studies, ''warnings about the increased risk of violent behavior among young people taking SSRIs might be needed.''
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America's Most Admired Lawbreaker - The Huffington Post
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:51
Letter From the EditorsBackstage at Johnson & JohnsonOn May 20, about 100 stock analysts gathered in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to hear good news from top executives at Johnson & Johnson: The company had 10 new drugs in the pipeline that might achieve more than a billion dollars in annual sales.
For 129 years, New Brunswick has served as the headquarters of J&J, America's seventh most valuable public company. With consumer products from Band-Aids to baby powder, Neutrogena to Rogaine, Listerine to Visine, Aveeno to Tylenol and Sudafed to Splenda, Johnson & Johnson is the biggest and, according to multiple surveys, most admired corporation in the world's most prosperous industry'--healthcare.
But the real money'--about 80 percent of its revenue and 91 percent of its profit'--comes not from those consumer favorites, but from Johnson & Johnson's high-margin medical devices: artificial hips and knees, heart stents, surgical tools and monitoring devices; and from still higher-margin prescription drugs targeting Crohn's disease (Remicade), cancer (Zytiga, Velcade), schizophrenia (Risperdal), diabetes (Invokana), psoriasis (Stelara), migraines (Topamax), heart disease (Xarelto) and attention deficit disorder (Concerta).
How J&J Makes Its MoneyAds for many of these products dominate our television screens and magazine pages. Each drug relies on its own elaborate marketing plan and carefully pitched promotional materials, used by hundreds of salespeople whose incomes turn on how much product they can push to the thousands of doctors who write prescriptions. All command increasing portions of our health insurance premiums and our own wallets, as well as our hopes and anxiety when we or our loved ones fall ill.
What follows is the backstage story of how an iconic company marketed a blockbuster drug that raised those hopes and fed on that anxiety. It is a story that in its depiction of strategies, tactics and mindset should make us wonder about the prescription drugs that are so much a part of our lives.
The show that Johnson & Johnson put on that morning for the analysts at the hotel, which the company owns, would produce positive headlines in the news that afternoon. But the upbeat talk in the lavishly appointed ballroom was a world apart from the drab setting where a Johnson & Johnson whistleblower says she sat in a sales meeting being drilled on promotional materials she was told should not be left behind for fear that federal regulators might see them.
In the ballroom, the Wall Street people watched J&J executives talk about the miracle drugs they were moving through clinical tests'--not about how their colleagues might, as investigators later charged, massage data to conceal potentially damaging test results.
Whether it was the head of central nervous system research or the woman in charge of the drive to intercept diabetes before it strikes, everyone on the podium easily answered questions from the analysts on issues ranging from cell structures to potential market sizes to development timelines. They exuded passion and confidence'--which was nothing like how Johnson & Johnson executives, however well-rehearsed by batteries of lawyers, would comport themselves under oath when asked to answer for how they marketed Risperdal, the company's billion-dollar antipsychotic drug.
To sit in the back of the room watching the impeccably dressed, articulate men and women who are orchestrating Johnson & Johnson's trailblazing cures for cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, AIDS and mental illness, and to watch the Wall Street crowd digesting it and calculating the potential cash flows and returns on investment, was to watch the free market dream come true. The best and the brightest on that stage were doing well and doing good. Creating wealth by fighting pain, disease, death.
One could imagine Robert Wood Johnson, who founded the company with two of his brothers in New Brunswick in 1886 looking down proudly on the Hyatt ballroom'--and in dismay at the grand jury hearings, depositions and trials that told the Risperdal story.
Putting Patients FirstR.W. Johnson had worked at various jobs in and around America's fledgling patent medicine industry before launching Johnson & Johnson as the world's first supplier of surgical dressings and bandages. His enterprise was propelled by a single, big idea'--that English scientist and surgeon Joseph Lister's pioneering adaptation of Louis Pasteur's work in microbiology could be turned into a worldwide market for antiseptic supplies that would ward off infections in wounds and surgery. With sales offices and factories spread across the globe and with annual revenues of $74.3 billion in 2014, his company had come a long way since creating a first aid kit for railroad workers in 1888 or the first prescription contraception product for women in 1931.
Even before Johnson & Johnson had grown little beyond a single factory with 14 workers in a small New Jersey town, its founder had donated supplies to soldiers in the Spanish-American War and to victims of a series of earthquakes and other natural disasters through the early 20th century. That public service ethic was memorialized in writing by Johnson's son Robert Wood Johnson II, who built the company mightily over a 31-year reign that ended in 1963. The founder's heir wrote what became the company's ubiquitous, even cult-like, ''Credo'''--a 308-word statement that declares, up front, ''We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, and patients, to mothers and fathers, and all others who use our products and services.''
Robert Wood Johnson IIEmployees and ''the world community'' come next. After them, the credo holds, the company's ''final responsibility'' is to shareholders.
Patients first. Profits last.
The credo is mentioned seven times in the current chairman and chief executive's latest annual letter to shareholders. As is tradition, it is reprinted in full at the beginning of the annual report. It is also carved in stone in the lobby of J&J headquarters and posted at all significant company events'--including that morning's stock analysts' conference.
But the world in which Johnson & Johnson thrives today seems to have corroded the credo.
The Boy with 46DD BreastsThe morning of the conference, thousands of claims involving Risperdal were sitting on dockets across the country. Company lawyers had just filed motions appealing a $2.5 million verdict handed down by a jury in a Philadelphia courtroom 60 miles south of the Hyatt.
The jury found that Risperdal had deformed an Alabama boy after Johnson & Johnson had encouraged his doctor to prescribe it without warning of its risks. Austin Pledger, who suffers from severe autism and is now 21 years old, started growing breasts when he was 12 that eventually measured 46DD.
The Food and Drug Administration had prohibited Johnson & Johnson salespeople from trying to promote Risperdal to doctors to treat children because of its feared side effects, including hormonal disorders. The company was also not allowed to promote it to treat the elderly except for the most serious psychotic disorders; it was thought to cause strokes, diabetes and other ailments in that population. But by the time young Austin started growing breasts, Johnson & Johnson was reaping more than half of its Risperdal sales from prescriptions written for children to alleviate all kinds of behavior disorders, and for the elderly, who were given the drug for simple symptoms of dementia or restlessness.
Austin Pledger, at 2 years oldJohnson & Johnson emails, sales training manuals and business plans produced as evidence in the case revealed that the company organized special sales units illegally targeting doctors who treated the elderly and children. State mental institutions treating children, whose drugs would be paid for by Medicaid, were targeted, too.
When it came time to explain their conduct at trials and to federal investigators, Johnson & Johnson executives and salespeople have unwaveringly, even indignantly, defended themselves. One salesman, who otherwise fit the salt-of-the-earth mold that R.W. Johnson had envisioned for his company's employees, gave thousands of Risperdal samples in child-sized doses to Austin Pledger's doctor in Birmingham, Alabama. Yet he insisted under oath in February he didn't recall stepping around kiddie furniture and toys as he walked into an office with a sign that said ''pediatric neurologist,'' and that he had no way of knowing that the doctor wasn't treating adults.
Pledger v. Janssen
Feb. 3, 2015 (p. 19-20, 51-52, 55-56)
Pledger v. Janssen
Feb. 4, 2015 (p. 31-32, 35-36, 38, 66-67)
More generally, Johnson & Johnson's defense'--as expressed to me over three hours of conversations with lead in-house litigator Joseph Braunreuther, who asked not to be quoted, as well as by others working for the company'--is that the drug benefits many people, which is true, and that the law governing promotion to prohibited populations, called off-label sales, is vague, unworkable and punishes companies for providing information about the drug to doctors who treat patients who could be helped by it.
Johnson & Johnson declined to allow anyone to speak on the record about any of the Risperdal litigation or investigations, but as company Vice President for Media Relations Ernie Knewitz put it, "In our opinion, significant ambiguity exists about what is or is not permissible regarding the communication of truthful and non-misleading scientific information about FDA-approved pharmaceutical products. Like doctors, patients, and others in the industry, we share an interest in greater regulatory clarity on the rules for appropriate promotion and scientific exchange, and we are working through industry groups to bring clarity and consistency to the rules that apply to those communications.''
The Boy With 46-DD Breasts'The Cost of Doing Business'Johnson & Johnson has already settled thousands of cases involving illicit promotion of Risperdal, including Department of Justice civil and criminal complaints, for a total fast approaching $3 billion.
But on the morning of the analysts' meeting, the company was still manning the battle stations with squadrons of lawyers fighting off another 4,200 cases, apparently willing to risk a few more bad verdicts while hoping to weed out the weakest cases and wear the opposition down in order to save on final settlement costs of the strongest claims.
Yet all of that meant little to the stock analysts. ''Oh, they've already reserved for that stuff,'' one of them told me during a coffee break. He meant that in Johnson & Johnson's financials, there had been money taken from earnings and put into a column vaguely called ''accrued liabilities,'' in order to account for the expected billions that might still have to be paid out in verdicts or settlements.
''It's their cost of doing business,'' the analyst added, perhaps unintentionally echoing the view of one senior J&J lawyer who told me that the cases against his company are the unavoidable price of dealing with a litigation system easily abused by those targeting big corporations.
''All the big pharmas'' have lawsuits, the analyst concluded, sipping an espresso. ''It's just not a big deal.''
Indeed, with before-tax profits of $20.6 billion for 2014, putting aside $500 million or even $1 billion a year over 15 years to cover payouts for boys with 46DD breasts and other claims that might come along doesn't put much of a dent in the company's financials. As Johnson & Johnson declared in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission three weeks before the analysts' conference, ''In the Company's opinion '... the ultimate outcome of legal proceedings, net of liabilities accrued in the Company's balance sheet, is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial position.''
Thus, as Johnson & Johnson's press materials habitually point out, the company has recorded 51 years of increases in the dividends paid to shareholders.
''All the big pharmas have lawsuits,'' the analyst concluded, sipping an espresso. ''It's just not a big deal.''
The Industry of Our TimesTrue, eight of the other nine largest pharmaceutical companies in the world have settled federal claims over the last decade related to allegations similar to what Johnson & Johnson was accused of in selling Risperdal, although their conduct was arguably less egregious. They, too, seem to have settled the charges without torpedoing their profit and loss accounts.
However, the fact that this illegal conduct is not a ''big deal'' on Wall Street and only the occasional subject of news coverage should make it a big deal to the rest of the world: The drug companies seem to be able to break the rules with relative impunity, or at least without suffering the kind of punishment that would actually hurt'--their stock prices taking a hit or senior executives being held personally responsible.
Big Pharma is a big deal. The financial pages are filled almost daily with news of multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions among drug companies. Of the M&A deals announced so far this year in the United States, eight of the 30 largest involve drug-makers. Other headlines herald breakthroughs of the kind Johnson & Johnson executives were touting in the ballroom in New Brunswick. At the same time, healthcare policy wonks, government budgeters, insurers and patients are becoming increasingly panicked over who is going to pay for the miracle profits demanded by the manufacturers of these miracle products.
In terms of fortunes now being made and the industry's impact on our economy, Big Pharma (or a little pharma that develops a miracle drug) is fast becoming today's go-go industry. Profit margins often exceed those of industries, such as software, that we think of as modern gold mines. Only now the products have to do with life or death.
Amid the swirl of multi-billion dollar takeover deals generated by the prospects of a promising new drug, can we trust these companies? Can the data from the trials conducted to test their products that they submit to the Food and Drug Administration be trusted? Can we rely on corporations that are looking over their shoulders at Wall Street not to inflate revenue by selling a drug to people that the FDA has walled off as targets or for purposes that have not been sufficiently tested and for which the FDA has not granted approval?
Or are the lawsuits like those brought against Johnson & Johnson and other drug companies less about corporate wrongdoing and more about trial lawyers and whistleblowers (who get paid a portion of the winnings) looking for a payoff when drugs that comfort or even save the many result in side effects that afflict the few?
These questions are only going to loom larger as miracle drugs and miracle profits increasingly dominate the news, our budgets and our quest to live long, healthy lives. That is what makes the Johnson & Johnson Risperdal story important. It is why an examination of internal company and FDA documents produced in recent Risperdal suits and from Freedom of Information Act requests, supplemented by interviews with those involved in these events, is revealing.
The documents also demonstrate that as head of Risperdal sales and then head of the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that marketed Risperdal, Alex Gorsky, the current Johnson & Johnson chairman and chief executive, had a sustained, hands-on role in what the company has since admitted in a plea bargain (that nonetheless named no individuals) was illegal activity. That raises significant questions about whether our legal system can, and will, ever hold the high-ranking people who run our largest corporations, rather than inert corporate entities, responsible for wrongdoing.
The Houdini act that enabled Gorsky, the then-Risperdal sales manager, not only to escape responsibility but also to be promoted to the top of his industry's most admired company raises equally significant questions about the standards of conduct we can expect from those who run what is becoming the world's most powerful industry, and about how much we can rely on the medicines they sell.
Through company spokespeople, Gorsky declined repeated requests to be interviewed about Risperdal, though he did testify in a deposition prior to the company's guilty plea, saying, ''I don't believe that we '... marketed the product in an inappropriate manner.''
The DocuSerialThe Johnson & Johnson Risperdal story is a complex, roller coaster tale. The details count. They are important in understanding the people and impulses behind the drugs we take. To tell that story in a way that is digestible but complete, The Huffington Post Highline and I are trying something new: a DocuSerial. It's a reconstruction of an old story-telling genre that allows us to deploy the modern tools of digital communication to engage readers in old-fashioned, long-form feature journalism.
Every day for the next 15 days, a new chapter of the Johnson & Johnson story will be posted here. Along with the text, we will post not only a rich array of photos and graphics, but also links to every document'--court transcripts, internal emails, FDA staff memos'--referred to in that day's chapter. That way, you will be able to delve more deeply into the materials that are quoted. (You'll also be able to make sure I held true to the context of the material I quote.)
Those chapters already posted in prior days will be stored on a readily accessible, expanding file, so that you can catch up on, or review, the unfolding narrative. At the end of the 15 days, the entire story, along with all illustrations, videos and documents'--as well as the most important comments on or critiques of the DocuSerial'--will be available in a complete package, which will then be updated as events and the ensuing discussion evolve.
A Plan Too Big for its Legal MarketWell before Risperdal was approved by the FDA and went on sale in February 1994, Johnson & Johnson had made the coming of the drug into something akin today to the launch of an Apple product.
The company needed a blockbuster that would replace and surpass its original antipsychotic drug, Haldol, which had gone on sale in the late 1960s.
Haldol had been invented in the laboratories of Paul Janssen, a legendary Belgium chemist whose father had founded a small pharmaceutical research lab in the 1930s. R.W. Johnson II had purchased the company in 1961 in what became a critical pivot by Johnson & Johnson away from medical supplies and toward the blossoming, high-margin prescription drug business.
Haldol and competitors, such as Thorazine, were considered ''first-generation'' antipsychotics'--drugs that could treat symptoms associated with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder (manic depression, usually causing severe mood swings) and schizophrenia (typically defined as a severe brain disorder causing people to interpret reality abnormally, as with hallucinations).
In order to hit J&J's projections, Risperdal would have to be used by tens of millions'--not simply a portion of the one percent of Americans having the most severe psychotic disorders.
But Haldol had come ''off-patent'' in 1986. That meant that the years during which the product was protected from being copied were over. Inexpensive generic versions of Haldol had decimated the brand name's revenues by 1992.
The business plan the Janssen executives had drafted projected an average of more than $1 billion in U.S. sales of Risperdal every year through the turn of the century. (U.S. sales were about two-thirds of worldwide sales for these kinds of prescription drugs.) That meant that Risperdal would have to be used by tens of millions'--not simply a portion of the one percent of Americans having the most severe psychotic disorders.
Dr. Paul Leber memo
Dec. 21, 1993
Right from the beginning, the FDA took a different view. In a memo to his colleagues a week before the final approval, the agency doctor in charge of the Risperdal application reported that he and Janssen scientists and executives had reached an ''impasse'' over the label that the FDA would allow.
Risperdal Label
Current 2015
A prescription drug's label is a dense, multi-page document given to doctors so that they know what a drug is supposed to be used for, what side effects to look out for and what the appropriate doses are. It is based on a series of tests conducted by the drug's manufacturer, or ''sponsor'''--first on animals, then usually on humans over three increasingly stringent phases. All the steps along the way, which can take three to 10 years, are done in close consultation with the FDA, which reviews the testing data that the sponsor submits.
Janssen wanted the label for Risperdal to include ''side by side'' statistical comparisons with the wildly popular Haldol. This was unacceptable, the FDA doctor wrote, because it ''invites a comparison that leads to the conclusion that Risperdal has been shown to be superior to [Haldol] when, in fact, it has not.''
In other words, Janssen wanted its new drug to seem like a step up from its now-generic, inexpensive product. But the clinical data didn't prove that.
There was another issue lurking in Janssen's push to have Risperdal compared to Haldol. By then Haldol and its generic knock-offs were being widely used to address a broad range of behavior disorders, including dementia in seniors and attention deficit disorders in children'--not just severe ''psychotic disorders,'' such as hallucinations or delusions. Risperdal could never replace Haldol as Johnson & Johnson's latest bestseller if it was sold as only appropriate for psychotic disorders.
An ambitious plan drafted by Janssen in anticipation of the drug's 1994 rollout put the problem bluntly: ''The anticipated growth of the antipsychotic market does not create enough room for the Risperdal sales forecast.''
But the FDA held firm. Its approved label limited Risperdal to the ''management of manifestations of psychotic disorders'' in adults'--severe illnesses causing hallucinations or delusions.
Worse, drawing on the data Janssen had submitted, the FDA specified that the ''antipsychotic efficacy of Risperdal was established in short term (6 to 8 weeks) controlled trials of schizophrenic patients.'' Schizophrenics were only about a third of the psychotic disorders market, which was itself a small subset of the target population Janssen had in mind.
''It would be misleading to suggest that the safety and efficacy of Risperdal has been established in the elderly,'' the regulators wrote.
Compounding the problem for J&J's business strategists, the FDA's December 29, 1993, letter officially approving the sale of Risperdal warned that the agency would ''consider any advertisement or promotional labeling for Risperdal false, misleading or lacking fair balance'' if it stated or implied that ''Risperdal is superior to haloperidol [Haldol].''
The letter was signed by Dr. Robert Temple, a highly regarded specialist in clinical trials who had joined the FDA in 1972.
''Our role is not to decide that one drug is more effective than another drug, or to say that they're equally effective, even if one is much more expensive,'' Temple, now the FDA's Deputy Center Director for Clinical Science, told me. ''If the data that the sponsor submits demonstrates that the drug is effective and the potential benefits of its intended use outweigh the risks, we approve it. But,'' he added, ''it has never been clear to me that Risperdal was more effective than Haldol, and we never allowed them to claim that.''
No Old Folks,No KidsFDA Response
S. Danese, Oct. 4, 1994
Later in 1994, when Janssen submitted for FDA approval some promotional materials meant for doctors who treat the elderly, it got back another letter bomb. This one struck at the heart of what the company's strategic planners envisioned as a key market. ''It would be misleading to suggest that the safety and efficacy of Risperdal has been established in the elderly,'' the regulators wrote.
The following year, Janssen submitted a new proposal to the FDA to conduct studies among geriatrics that would justify expanding the label to meet those market aspirations. Again, the FDA refused to go along.
''You appear to be exploring Risperdal's potential value for a much broader and more diffuse clinical target, namely 'behavioral disturbances in demented patients,''' Dr. Paul Leber of the FDA wrote. That label, he continued, ''would also encompass a range of other clinical findings, e.g., anxiety, depression, agitation, aggressiveness, verbal outbursts, wandering, etc. that would not necessarily be considered psychotic manifestations.''
Seeming to anticipate the mental institutions and nursing homes that were a big part of the market targeted in Johnson & Johnson's business plan, Leber added, ''Some [of these symptoms] '... might even be construed by some as appropriate responses to the deplorable conditions under which some demented patients are housed, thus raising an ethical question regarding the use of antipsychotic medications for inappropriate behavioral control.''
Leber and the FDA appeared to have Johnson & Johnson boxed in.
A year later, in August 1996, Janssen submitted another proposal to the FDA. This time, it involved expanding the label to include children. Again, the agency rebuffed the company, declaring, ''Your supplement [to the approved label] proposes the expansion of Risperdal use into pediatric patients, however, you never state for what child or adolescent disorders Risperdal would be intended. Indeed, you acknowledge that you have not provided substantial evidence from adequate and well-controlled trials to support any pediatric indications, nor developed a rationale to extend the results of studies conducted in adults to children.''
''Your rationale for proposing this supplement,'' the agency concluded, ''appears to be simply that, since Risperdal is being used in pediatric patients, this use should be acknowledged in some way in labeling.''
That last sentence hinted at efforts Janssen had already quietly made to expand the sale of Risperdal beyond the limits of the label. By 1997, overall Risperdal sales in the U.S. had reached $589 million. That was a huge jump from launch-year revenue of $172 million in 1994, and it meant that the drug was somehow being prescribed for patients outside the narrow boundaries of the label.
How?
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Ottomania
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Turkish magazine Nokta raided and copies seized for mock Erdogan selfie | World news | The Guardian
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:25
Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at funeral prayers on 10 September for Okan Tasan, a Turkish army officer killed in a Kurdish rebel attack. Photograph: Burhan Ozbilici/AP
Turkish police raided a magazine on Monday over a mocked-up ''selfie'' of a smiling president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with the coffin of a soldier '' an allusion to comments that families of soldiers killed by Kurdish rebels could be happy about their martyrdom.
An Istanbul prosecutor's office banned the latest edition of Nokta magazine from being distributed and ordered raids on its offices over charges of ''insulting the Turkish president'' and ''making terrorist propaganda'' after the cover was published online, the magazine said in a statement.
Related:The Guardian view on Turkey: growing autocracy threatens a crucial country | Editorial
''Our cover that prompted the police raid may be harsh, disturbing or even cruel. [But] these are not crimes for a media institution; this is our form of speech,'' it said.
The cover depicted a grinning Erdogan in shirt sleeves taking a selfie while in the background a coffin draped in the red Turkish flag is borne in state by soldiers.
The image was a clear reference to escalating violence between the state and Kurdish militants, who have killed more than 100 security personnel in past weeks. But it is also an implicit criticism of comments Erdogan has made on military deaths.
Erdogan has been widely criticised for comments made at the funeral of one soldier killed in clashes.
''How happy is his family and all his close relatives, because Ahmet has reached a very sacred place,'' he was widely quoted as saying across Turkish national media.
The Nokta statement explained its mock picture as a reaction to those comments.
''President Erdogan said martyrdom is a cause for happiness. People take selfies when they feel happy. Our cover is ironic and carries a high dose of criticism,'' it said.
Erdogan's domination of the media, much of it owned by conglomerates with business ties to the AK party, has pushed Turkey '' which is a candidate for membership of the European Union '' towards the bottom of global press freedom rankings.
It ranks 154th out of 180 countries in the world press freedom index in 2014.
The council of Europe commissioner for human rights, Nils Muinieks, expressed concern over raids against Nokta.
''Ban, raids & arrest worsen already worrying situation re freedom of expression in Turkey. Authorities must keep the media free,'' he tweeted.
The section editor of the magazine was freed after being detained for several hours by the Turkish police accused of insulting Erdogan and ''terrorist organisation propaganda'', Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported.
Scores of people have been investigated on accusations of insulting Erdogan, who has become increasingly intolerant of criticism in recent years. Last week a 17-year-old high school student was jailed for 11 months after making a speech found to have denigrated the head of state, Hurriyet reported.
Nokta magazine had previously been banned for eight years for a previous controversial cover. It restarted publishing only in May this year.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in a Kurdish insurgency that began in 1984. A ceasefire broke down in July.
The PKK is deemed a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU and Turkey.
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The White House would be a tiny wing of Turkey's new presidential palace - The Washington Post
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 15:00
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week unveiled his new palace in the outskirts of the country's capital, Ankara. The gaudy residence boasts 1,000 rooms and apparently cost some $350 million to construct. Its total area, according to the AFP, encompasses some 2,150,000 square feet. Unsurprisingly, such largesse has led to criticism.
Ahead of the complex's official unveiling, which took place on Turkey's Republic Day on Oct. 29, opposition politicians declared that they would boycott the event '-- one deputy said it made Moscow's Kremlin compound look "like an outhouse." It has almost 50 times the floor space of the White House.
Activists are also furious that the gigantic complex has been erected in an area that was supposed to be protected forested lands and led to a significant mowing down of trees. Mass protests last year against Erdogan's government were initially inspired by state plans to build a commercial development in a small park in Istanbul.
On the left, Google Earth image of the new Ak Saray in Ankara. On the right, the White House in Washington, D.C. The images are to scale.
Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (known by the acronym AKP) withstood a string of corruption scandals and triumphed in elections this year, which led to the then-Turkish prime minister taking up the role of the country's President. The opening of the new palace '-- dubbed the Ak Saray, or "white palace," but also a play on the ruling party's name '-- is rich with symbolism.
The new structure marks a shift from the Canakya palace in downtown Ankara, which has been the residence of the Turkish president dating back to the republic's revered founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Arguably, no Turkish leader since Ataturk has dominated the country's politics as much as Erdogan, who sees the new palace as an echo of the new Turkey emerging under his watch.
"The new Turkey should assert itself with something new," he recently told reporters. "The presidential office has been arranged in a very special way, we have paid particular attention to this."
Until now, the post of the president has been a largely ceremonial role, but under Erdogan it will clearly not be.
The architecture of the palace is supposed to be a blend of modernism with gestures to Turkey's Ottoman heritage. Here's Erdogan himself on the structure's design:
We need to convey the message that Ankara is a Seljuk capital. We paid great attention to that. We paid attention to Ottoman themes in the interior, also adding elements reflecting the modern world. We had it constructed as a smart building. '... [Such are] the requirements of being a great state.
The Seljuks were a Turkic tribe turned political dynasty that entered Anatolia beginning in the 11th century AD. They're considered the progenitors of the Ottomans, who would go on to build one of the most powerful empires in Europe and the Middle East that lasted until its collapse at the end of World War I. Turkey emerged out of the ashes of that empire and, under Ataturk's stewardship, went down a very different path: a secular nationalist state that looked to the West and rejected elements of the country's Muslim, Ottoman heritage.
Erdogan, who critics accuse of inspiring a creeping Islamization in the country, has taken pains to reclaim that legacy. In an interview in 2011, he told me that it would be "self-denial" for Turkey not to embrace its Ottoman past. He went on:
We were born and raised on the land that is the legacy of the Ottoman empire. They are our ancestors. It is out of the question that we might deny that presence. Of course, the empire had some beautiful parts and some not so beautiful parts. It's a very natural right for us to use what was beautiful about the Ottoman Empire today.
His new home does little to dispel the impression that he sees himself as Turkey's new Sultan.
Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.
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EuroLand
Behold The European Recovery: Deutsche Bank To Fire 25% Of All Workers
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 16:11
Deutsche Bank has witnessed an exodus of executives this year in what's been a tough stretch for the German lender. Here's a brief recap of the bank's recent trials and travails for those who need a refresher:
The bank, which has paid out more than $9 billion over the past three years alone to settle legacy litigation, has become something of a poster child for corrupt corporate culture.
In April, Deutsche settled rate rigging charges with the DoJ for $2.5 billion (or about $25,474 per employee) and subsequently paid $55 million to the SEC (an agency that's been run by former Deutsche Bank employees and their close associates for years) in connection with allegations it deliberately mismarked its crisis-era LSS book to the tune of at least $5 billion.
But it was out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak, because early last month, the DoJ announced it would seek to extract a fresh round of MBS-related settlements from banks that knowingly packaged and sold shoddy CDOs in the lead up to the crisis. JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Citi settled MBS probes when the DoJ was operating under the incomparable (and we mean that in a derisive way) Eric Holder but now, emboldened by her pyrrhic victory over Wall Street's FX manipulators, new Attorney General Loretta Lynch is set to go after Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC,UBS AG and Wells Fargo & Co.
As for the employee exodus:
Co-CEOs Anshu Jain and J¼rgen Fitschen were shown the door (well, technically they resigned, but with shareholder support plummeting amid skepticism about both financial targets and ongoing legal problems, it's easy to read between the lines) in June after which the bank's global head commercial real estate Jonathan Pollack defected to BlackStone. Pollack's departure came just one month after the bank's head of structured finance Elad Shraga left to start his own fund. Shraga was instrumental in helping Deutsche become "an award-winning arranger of asset- and mortgage-backed debt." Shraga had been with Deutsche Bank for 15 years.
Well now - and this follows similar cuts across Wall Street and underscores the extent to which Mario Draghi hasn't succeeded in printing the EMU back to economic prosperity - quite a few more employees will be departing, only this time, the departures will be ... how should we put this ... oh yes, ''mandatory.'' Here's Reuters:
Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) aims to cut roughly 23,000 jobs, or about one quarter of total staff, through layoffs mainly in technology activities and by spinning off its PostBank (DPBGn.DE) division, financial sources said on Monday.
That would bring the group's workforce down to around 75,000 full-time positions under a reorganization being finalised by new Chief Executive John Cryan, who took control of Germany's biggest bank in July with the promise to cut costs.
Cryan presented preliminary details of the plan to members of the supervisory board at the weekend.
A spokesman for the bank declined comment.
The bank is primarily reviewing cuts in the parts of its technology and so-called back office operations that process transactions and work orders for client-facing staff. A significant number of the some 20,000 positions in that area will be reviewed for possible cuts, a financial source said.
Whether or not the move will do anything to appease impatient shareholders (the same shareholders who ultimately forced out Jain and Fitschen for foot-dragging on efforts to boost profitability) or, more importantly, to improve the bank's utterly corrupt corporate culture remains to be seen but we can't say we're optimistic.
The cuts, it should be noted, aren't unexpected. As Cryan noted after taking the helm, "the investment bank's securities and derivatives trading businesses can't continue to soak up capital. We cannot afford that luxury. Reducing this reliance should not place us at a competitive disadvantage as the market has anyway already moved in that direction." Fair enough. We just hope there are still some competent people around to manage this:
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Agenda 2030
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Climate Change is MAN made, not xir or zir made?
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Global warming hiatus 'may NOT end soon' '' UK Met Office ' The Register
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:19
Climate-change followers will know there hasn't been any global warming since around the turn of the century. Observers had been expecting that to change, perhaps from this year, but now a fresh report from the British weather bureau suggests it may be business as no-warming usual for a while yet.
In a nutshell the UK Met Office climatologists say that a long-expected El Nino is finally starting in the Pacific Ocean, which will probably cause significant warming. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), another ocean mechanism in the Pacific, also looks likely to heat the planet up from this point.
But, no doubt upsettingly for people who may be desperate for a return to a warming world (for instance the workforce at the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, dependent on global warming for its raison d'ªtre) there's a third and very powerful factor to consider: the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
The AMO has actually been heating the world up since the mid-1990s, though not strongly enough to raise temperatures, but now it looks set to swing into a negative phase and cool the planet off, probably for a long time, as AMO phases typically last several decades. The Met Office's new report (pdf), just out today, has this to say about the AMO:
The current warm phase is now 20 years long and historical precedent suggests a return to relatively cool conditions could occur within a few years ... Observational and model estimates further suggest AMO shifts have an effect on global mean near-surface temperatures of about 0.1°C. A rapid AMO decline could therefore maintain the current slowdown in global warming ...
The Met Office doesn't care for phrases such as "hiatus" or even "pause" to describe the absence of global warming for the last fifteen years or so: it describes the flat temperatures as a "slowdown".
But it's all the same thing. One should note that the Met Office report is strongly hedged '' its title even ends in a question mark, in the style of headlines-to-which-the-answer-is-no.
But it isn't just the Met Office that believes the AMO may be headed into a cold spell. Scientists studying Atlantic hurricanes have noted that these massive storms have been mostly less common and less powerful in recent years, and the suggestion is that this trend may be set to continue, with the underlying mechanism being a switch in the AMO to a negative phase.
Meanwhile, it appears quite possible that 2015 will be a record warm year globally '' though not in Europe or America. However, as NASA climate chief Gavin Schmidt pointed out in 2013, "one more year of numbers isn't in itself significant".
Just as it took quite a few years before the hiatus could be said to be ongoing, it will require several years of climbing temperatures before it can be said to be over.
Those climbing temperatures may be imminent - but, if the AMO plunges into a strong negative cycle, they just may not be, either. ®
Sponsored:Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
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'Climate Change Deniers Are As Bad As Hitler'. Yale History Professor Goes Full Godwin
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:32
There. I've just precised a long article which appeared in the New York Times over the weekend with the title The Next Genocide.
Rather worryingly it was the work not of some fruitcake environmental activist but of someone who really ought to know better '' a professor of history, at Yale no less, called Timothy Snyder.
It starts dramatically with an Einsatzgruppe commander lifting a Jewish child in the air and saying: ''You must die so that we can live.''
This is a classic move from the liberal-left playbook. Sock 'em with an emotive image which lays out the terms of your argument, viz: every time you say you don't believe in climate change another baby dies. And, oh, by the way, did I also mention it makes you a Nazi?
Well, I suppose Professor Snyder has got to find some way of selling his books. Really, though, if he'd tried to write a bestseller called Little Red Cook: How To Diet The Mao Great Famine Way or Back To The Land: Rediscover Your Inner Peasant With Pol Pot or Dying for Success: 10 No Nonsense Boardroom Tips from Joseph Stalin he could scarcely have misrepresented history to more dubious ends.
Yes, the Nazis were very green. Snyder got that bit right. They passed the first national environmental laws: the Reich Nature Protection Law of 1935. They were big on organic food (Himmler wanted his SS to eat nothing but). They were into animal rights. (In 1933 Goering said that anyone found guilty of animal cruelty or experimentation should be sent to concentration camps. No really). And of course Hitler himself was mostly vegetarian and fiercely anti-smoking.
But where Snyder goes completely wrong is with paragraphs like this:
Hitler spread ecological panic by claiming that only land would bring Germany security and by denying the science that promised alternatives to war. By polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the United States has done more than any other nation to bring about the next ecological panic, yet it is the only country where climate science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy and question the validity of science '-- an intellectual stance that is uncomfortably close to Hitler's.
His argument is so weird, incoherent and far-off here that you half expect him to go on to explain how it was the Jews who were responsible for the Holocaust and how Churchill provoked World War II.
Certainly, the way he chooses to put ''deniers'' in the same category as Hitler could scarcely be further off-beam.
As I put it in Watermelons:
There's only one side of this debate which believes its cause is so just and urgent that it relieves them of the need to observe any standards of decency. There's only one side which thinks it's OK to: rig public enquiries, hound blameless people out of their jobs, breach Freedom of Information laws, abuse the scientific method, lie, threaten, bribe, cheat, adopt nakedly political positions in taxpayer-funded academic and advisory posts that ought to be strictly neutral, trample on property rights, destroy rainforests, drive up food prices (causing unrest in the Middle East and starvation in the Third World), raise taxes, remove personal freedoms, artificially raise energy prices, featherbed rent-seekers, blight landscapes, deceive voters, twist evidence, force everyone to use expensive, dim light bulbs, frighten schoolchildren, bully adults, increase unemployment, destroy democratic accountability, take control of global governance and impose a New World Order.
In other words Professor Snyder, it's your friends the greens who are the true heirs to Nazism. They're the ones fomenting the crisis of hysteria which has led to so much bad policy, environmental destruction and human misery.
And the good guys '' the heirs to the people who stood up to the Nazis '' are all those deniers you so casually malign.
They're the ones who've checked their facts, rejected Malthusianism and pessimism, who recognise that the best hope for the planet is by harnessing human ingenuity and energy, not by trying to constrain and curtail it.
But obviously, you'd need to be a serious historian to be aware of these subtleties.
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Ministry of Truth
BBG Ham radio project
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 12:33
Yes, There Is a War on Advertising. Now What? | Digital - Advertising Age
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 12:04
So Which Ad-Blocking Parasite Are You Going to Go After?The industry has taken tentative steps, like beginning to research lawsuits against ad blockers or taking refuge in branded content that consumers might like and ad blockers might miss. But largely, the ad industry has no coherent strategy to confront a movement that threatens its online existence. That's partly because whatever popularity ad blockers gain reflects consumer wishes. Forcing ads on people who've gone out of their way to avoid them doesn't bode well for the brand messaging therein.
"We don't want to anger consumers," Mr. Jaffe said "Everybody needs to move carefully."
In the same breath, many industry executives say it's finally time to get a plan together. "It had to get big enough to be an important issue, and I think we've reached that inflection point," said WPP Digital President and Xaxis Chairman David Moore, who also serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Tech Lab.
The IAB broached the topic during its board meetings in May and followed up with a member summit in July that convened the IAB and IAB Tech Lab boards as well as a number of sales and technology executives. One suggestion: Follow the lead of Hulu and several other sites that refuse to show content when visitors arrive bearing ad blockers -- but take that approach much bigger. "I advocated for the top 100 websites to -- beginning on the same day -- not let anybody with ad blockers turned on" access the sites, Mr. Moore said.
The Washington Post last week began experimenting with the approach on its own site at least. "The test we're currently running uses a few different approaches to see what moves these readers to either enable ads on The Washington Post, sign up for a newsletter or subscribe," a spokeswoman said, adding that the company works to respect users' privacy and keep intrusive ads out. "Many people already receive our journalism for free online, and in the long run, without income via subscriptions or advertising, we won't be able to deliver the journalism that people coming to our site expect from us."
More content producers should insist consumers let them serve ads, said Eric Franchi, co-founder of the ad network Undertone, one of many companies that stands to lose as blocking takes hold. "What if those publishers asked consumers to whitelist them in order to be able to access content?" he wrote in a recent email newsletter. "This would be a flight to media quality. An old colleague of mine used to call it 'media that matters.' Publishers whose content is unique and matters enough to consumers to be whitelisted naturally survive and in fact thrive in this scenario."
Attendees of the IAB meeting rated the top-100 blocker-blackout "a good idea," according to Mr. Moore -- with slim odds of seeing it actually happen.
Late last month, the IAB Tech Lab held another meeting, this time bringing together four CEOs of companies that counter ad blocking -- PageFair, Secret Media, Sourcepoint and Yavli -- to school the IAB's domestic and international members on the technological ways to fight back.
"The most important takeaway is that the ad-blocking firms themselves all reference very similar centralized lists of code to block," said Scott Cunningham, a senior VP at the IAB and general manager of its Tech Lab. That means publishers may not have to fight a war on multiple fronts against each of the individual ad blockers, but could instead identify a way to combat them simultaneously.
"At this stage of the game, it's going to be up to the IAB to sort out what the most viable option is and get back to the membership for their input," Mr. Moore said. "Once that occurs, I think you'll see a strategy emerge before the end of the year."
Web publishers are also exploring the possibility of suing the ad-blocking companies. The ad blockers "are interfering with websites' ability to display all the pixels that are part of that website; arguably there's some sort of law that prohibits that," Mr. Moore said. "I'm not by any means a lawyer, but there is work being done to explore whether in fact that may be the case."
"The IAB has a number of different outside counsels, and they're all counsels engaged by different companies," Mr. Cunningham said. "We're keeping a good temperature gauge around finding out what could be done."
But the organization is far from a conclusion on whether legal action is a viable option.
The other, perhaps more Pollyannaish avenue, calls for rethinking digital advertising before more consumers want to annihilate it. The IAB Tech Lab has organized one working group to determine how to serve ads without slowing down page-loading, one of the most cited reasons for people to install ad blockers, and another to research the attitudes of people now using ad blockers.
While Hulu blocks people who block ads, other video players are considering less confrontational approaches. "We are definitely looking at different ways to address the issue," said Joe Marchese, president-advanced ad products, Fox Networks Group. "We are evaluating what we want our response to be. But before we say, 'No, you can't watch a show,' we want to be able to provide viable options."
Since acquiring the ad-tech firm TrueX, which Mr. Marchese founded, in December, Fox has been testing ways to limit the commercial load on its digital platforms. Most recently, it introduced a commercial-free opportunity in "MasterChef Junior" in partnership with the California Milk Advisory Board. The sponsorship allows viewers to interact with a 60-second ad at the start of the show and watch the rest of the episode sans commercials.
The "MasterChef Junior" partnership is an example of one way the industry can combat ad blocking, Mr. Marchese said.
"The reason people are using ad blockers has a lot to do with the advertising ecosystem digitally," he said. "We can block the ad blockers, but technology always finds another way. It isn't a long-term solution. It's incumbent on us to find better answers and fix the relationship."
Letting viewers select or direct their ad experiences isn't exactly new, with companies such as Hulu and YouTube having experimented in the area, but it remains the exception.
Others are counting on branded content to irritate consumers less than display ads and, no less important, evade ad blockers' notice. Many sponsored posts survive the gaze of ad-blocking software, both on publishers' own sites and on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Delivering large reach for advertisers via that sort of advertising, however, probably requires distribution through those social networks, increasing publishers' reliance on allies that can be fickle.
The good news is that even if Apple's move does make ad blocking in Safari easier and more popular, web browsers are not the key battleground on mobile devices.
"The vast majority of activity is occurring in apps," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group. About 90% of mobile content consumption happens in apps, Mr. Wieser said in a report this summer.
Apps account for about seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption on mobile devices, according to ComScore's U.S. Mobile App Report.
Advertising is following suit. Marketers will spend $20.8 billion to reach consumers via mobile apps in 2015 but only $7.9 billion on mobile browsers, according to projections by eMarketer. When mobile spending surpasses desktop advertising next year, eMarketer says, app ad dollars will reach nearly $30 billion, compared with the mobile web's $10.8 billion.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on how it addresses ad blocking in apps. But publishers should concentrate on protecting advertising there, Mr. Wieser suggested. "If you improve marginally how well you monetize app-based activity, that could more than make up for money lost by ad blocking on the mobile web," he said.
But given the existing ability of AdBlock Mobile to erase ads from apps including The New York Times, publishers may need to figure out a way to protect ads there sooner than later.
"We are aware of the issue of ad blocking and are studying it with some degree of concern, particularly as it pertains to mobile," said Michael Zimbalist, senior VP-advertising products and research and development at The New York Times, in a statement. "One of the things we are very focused on strategically is improving the quality of mobile advertising so that it is always respectful of, and additive to, the user experience."
Contributing: Ana Radelat, Jeanine Poggi
One of the most-cited reasons to install an ad blocker is to reduce the time it takes to load web pages. But how much of a difference do blockers actually make?
Ad Age examined seven publishers' desktop sites including its own to see how quickly -- or slowly -- their home pages load with two of the most popular ad blockers installed, AdBlock and Adblock Plus.
Using the developer tools built into Google's Chrome desktop browser and with caching disabled, Ad Age logged load times under three conditions: with no ad blocker running, with only AdBlock enabled and with only Adblock Plus. We ran each real-world test three times and calculated the average.
The results were more ambiguous than the buzz over blockers would suggest, with some sites indeed loading more quickly when stripped of their ads -- but others more slowly. '--TIM PETERSON
Load Time in Seconds
Ad Age3.704.333.78AOL5.325.045.99BuzzFeed7.997.288.91ESPN5.614.766.06The New York Times4.342.065.02The Wall Street Journal6.314.494.9Yahoo3.394.444.17Chart by Chen Wu.
Debates
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Political campaign funding is just like advertising. Dishonest. Only Trump can be honest
People should take note of trumps ability to use positive reinforcement consistently
Trump got suckered into the Fiorina debate
Trump is Jason Calacanis
Trump is a good listener
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Artist paints portrait of Donald Trump with period blood
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:35
What's This?
By Lindsey Robertson2015-09-15 22:18:38 UTC
There has been no shortage of Donald Trump in headlines recently '-- in no small part thanks to his disparaging remarks about women and minorities.
One of Trump's most notable quotes was in reference to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who served as moderator during the first GOP presidential debate last month and grilled Trump on his history of sexist remarks about women. Trump later implied that Kelly must have been on her period. "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her '-- wherever."
Artist Sarah Levy used Trump's menstruation comments for a more productive purpose; instead of spewing hot air, Levy created artwork.
She used a paintbrush and a tampon to craft a portrait of Donald Trump using what she says was her own menstrual blood.
It's hard to think of a more fitting medium. The title of the portrait: "Whatever."
Levy's website states "the goal is to auction [the painting] off and give the money to an organization that helps Mexican immigrants in the U.S., because ol' Don would hate that."
The controversial artwork isn't over yet.
"I still have more blood so thinking of doing a few more portraits until I run out," Levy told The Huffington Post.
Proceeds from posters of the painting, which Levy is selling on Etsy for $20, will be donated to immigrants' rights.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Topics: blood, Conversations, Donald Trump, menstruation, painting, period, portrait, Watercooler
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War on Men
Angee's name should be lul de behanger
Silicon Valley thinks all assistants are female
War on Africa
Tom's - wedges in Africa?
War on Ca$h
Finextra: Finextra news: Third of Brits expect day-to-day mobile payments within five years
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:50
With contactless cards and mobile payments growing in popularity, a quarter of Brits think that in just five years' time they will no longer need cash, according to a survey for Lloyds Bank.
Recent data from Barclaycard shows that contactless spending in the UK has tripled in the last 12 months, and of more than 2000 people quizzed by Ipsos Mori for Lloyds, 43% agree that the technology is the future.With Apple Pay arriving in the country over the Summer, over a third of respondents expect to be using a mobile device as a day-to-day method of payment in the next five years. There are still many unconvinced though, with nearly half of those quizzed saying that mobile will never be a main method for payments. However, young people are far more enthusiastic than those over 45.
When asked about why they don't currently use mobile to make payments, 44% say they do not think it is secure or safe, 18% don't have the right phone, and 17% don't know anything about mobile payments.
When asked about 10 years from now, respondents are open to more unusual payment methods, with a quarter thinking they will pay with wearable tech such as watches or wristbands. More than one in five think they will be regularly using their fingerprint, and seven per cent think they will make payments using a microchip embedded in their body.
Meanwhile, 39% of people think they will no longer need cash in 10 years time, rising to 48% for 20 years time. Half of those aged between 55 and 75 are likely to think that they will always need to have cash compared to 40% of those aged between 18 and 54.
We're all gonna die!
Fukushima dumps first batch of once-radioactive water in sea - ASIA
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:51
TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture on September 14, 2015. The operator of Japan's Fukushima on September 14 began releasing previously radioactive groundwater from the crippled nuclear plant into the sea, saying a filtration process had made the discharge safe. AFP Photo
Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Sept.14 began releasing previously contaminated water into the sea, but the man tasked with preventing another meltdown warned other highly radioactive fluid still stored on site could pose a major threat. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which operates the plant in eastern Japan, discharged 850 tons of formerly contaminated water it had extracted from the ground near the plant into the sea, saying a filtration process had now made it safe. Sept.14 was the first time the plant, whose reactors went into meltdown after being hit by a huge tsunami in 2011, has released once radioactive water into nature after a years-long battle with fishermen, who feared it could destroy their livelihood. But Dale Klein, the chairman of a committee created to ensure the nuclear meltdown is never repeated, said other highly radioactive water used to cool the reactors four years ago and which is still kept in tanks in the plant could be dangerous. "The risk that you run is that you have all these tanks full of water," Klein told AFP in an interview. "The longer you store the water, the more likely you are going to have (an) uncontrolled release," he said, adding that he would like to see the supplies released from storage in the next three years. TEPCO has faced criticism for its handling of the meltdown, which saw thousands of people evacuated as radiation poisoned the air, land and water and has already cost some $57 billion in compensation for residents.
Four years later it is still extracting some 300 tons of contaminated water from the ground every day, which had been stored in tanks before TEPCO started releasing it into the sea after purification on Sept.14. The move is a milestone for the company, which said a filtration system removing highly radioactive substances like strontium and caesium meant the groundwater was now safe to release into the natural environment. Fishermen had argued that the discharge even of the groundwater would heighten contamination concerns and hurt their already battered reputation.
They had fought to stop the water being released into the sea, even after it is filtered, but eventually bowed to pressure from TEPCO, which is struggling to find space to store the tainted supplies. But it has yet to find a solution to deal with another highly radioactive 680,000 tons of water that was used to cool the reactors during the meltdown, which is still stored on site.
Fishermen are opposed to the fluid being released into the sea, even after it is filtered. "I would much rather see Japan move to a long-term solution of the controlled release, rather than have an unexpected release" that could be caused by pipebreaks or other failures, said Klein. Torrential flooding this month in an area not far south of the plant added to contamination concerns, flushing away at least 293 plastic bags of plants and soil that had been collected in the clean up. The tsunami, following a 9.0 magnitude quake, triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster in a generation and prompted Tokyo to shut down the 50 reactors nationwide used to generate electricity. This month saw the evacuation order lifted for Naraha, the first of seven municipalities fully emptied after the explosion whose residents can return permanently, but the full clean up is expected take decades.
September/15/2015
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDEO-State Dep't Slaps Down Russian Reporter's Suggestion That US Regime Change, Not Assad, is to Blame for ISIS | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:40
State Department spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday slapped down a Russian reporter who suggested the presence and growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria was attributable not to the Assad regime but to the U.S. promoting regime change in the region.
VIDEO-State Dep't on Russia's Syria Involvement: There's No Need for Two Coalitions Against ISIS | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:37
State Department spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday dismissed the notion of a second coalition against the ISIS involving Russia, Iran and the Assad regime. Russia could help the existing anti-ISIS coalition, but there is no place in it for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said.
VIDEO-Tapper on Media's Coverage of Trump: 'Chicken and Egg Thing' | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:33
Video cross-posted here at NewsBusters. During an appearance on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday night, CNN's Jake Tapper pushed back agaubst the idea that the media fueled Donald Trump's presidential campaign and instead stressed that there ''is a chicken and egg thing there.''
VIDEO-Hearing Military Operations Islamic State | Video | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:05
September 16, 2015General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, testified testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on combating ISIS.*'... read more
General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, testified testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on combating ISIS.* General Lloyd vowed to take appropriate action regarding a Defense Department Inspector General investigation involving Central Command possibly skewing ISIS intelligence.'‚In addition, he announced that only four or five U.S.-trained Syrian fighters remained on the battlefield against ISIS and that the U.S. would not reach its goal of training 5,000 fighters in the near term.'‚Defense Under Secretary for Policy Christine Wormuth also provided testimony.'‚Committee Chair Senator John McCain (R-AZ) heavily criticized the U.S. strategy in Iraq and Syria, calling it a failure.
* The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or DAISH/DAESH in Arabic is a militant group that has called itself the Islamic State. close
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*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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VIDEO-What is Russia's role in Syria? - BBC News
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:45
As Russia strengthens its military relationship with Syria, the BBC's Paul Adams looks at what is known about the ties between the two countries.
Russia has always been Syria's main military backer, but in recent weeks there are signs of increased support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
VIDEO-Migrants undeterred by Hungary border crackdown | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:14
With Hungary cracking down on illegal border crossings from Serbia, thousands of refugees and migrants are trying to evade security forces to find a new route to western Europe. Nathan Frandino reports.
TRANSCRIPT +
The crisis at the Hungarian border has reached a breaking point. Police are resorting to tear gas and water cannons to deter the protesting migrants demanding entrance from Serbia. Hungary's crackdown has forced refugees and migrants to search for a new route. Buses have been shuttling people by the hundreds to Croatia, where police are registering some and sending them to reception centers. One Syrian man on Serbia's side of the border says they just want to continue on their journey. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED SYRIAN MAN, SAYING: "We just want to pass. We don't want anything." For those still crossing through Hungary, they now face deportation. A court there already found this Iraqi man guilty of illegally crossing the country's border. He's been sentenced to a one-year expulsion. And many more migrants have already been caught... Despite the crackdown, those arriving in Greece say they are not deterred. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PREGNANT SYRIAN REFUGEE FROM DEIR AL-ZOR, RIM, SAYING: "We are desperate, we are fleeing for a better future for my daughter and the baby I am expecting. I am leaving to offer a better life to my children. If I have to climb mountains or die to succeed, I will." And with a long road ahead of them, the journey appears to be getting more difficult than ever.
VIDEO-Sugar beet waste product could be billion dollar 'wonder material' | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 03:12
A natural material made from sugar beet waste to thicken paints, bulk out food, and potentially even manufacture airplane wings has been devised by Scottish scientists. Jim Drury reports.
TRANSCRIPT +
The root of the humble sugar beet is used to make much of the world's sugar. But the remainder of the plant is destroyed or made into cheap animal feed. But now Scottish scientists are transforming the sugar byproduct into a wonder material named Curran. SOUNDBITE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF CELLUCOMP, DR DAVID HEPWORTH, SAYING: "The feed stock that we use is from a sidestream of the sugar producing industry. It's the waste pulp that comes after they're removed the sugar, which is then pressed and dried into pellets for ease of shipment. So you can see the bottom of this stick here I've got the dried pellets.....but obviously we want to take this material and turn it into something that has a lot more value." In its factory near Edinburgh, Cellucomp is doing just that. Having originally demonstrated Curran's strength by using it to make fishing rods, the firm turned its attention to selling it in granule form, for use in industrial liquids and composites. Its creators say Curran is eco-friendly, twice as strong as carbon fibre, with impressive viscosity. Decorating guru Cait Whitson worked with Cellucomp to create her new range of Whitson paint. SOUNDBITE FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF WHITSON PAINT, CAIT WHITSON, SAYING: "One of the things I wanted to talk about was durability and one of the things that excited me about the Curran product was that a very small amount of Curran adds a significant amount of durability to the paint product. Secondly was the rheology, about how the paint flowed from the brush." Whitson says Curran makes paint scrub-resistant, avoids unsightly brush marks, and helps prevent cracking. With the paint additive business worth a billion dollars, Cellucomp could be sitting on a goldmine. It wants to expand production fivefold within three years. SOUNDBITE CELLUCOMP CEO, CHRISTIAN KEMP-GRIFFIN, SAYING: "There are all kinds of potential applications that Curran can be used for. It can go into things like paint and coatings, it can go into concrete, cosmetics. It can even be used for drilling fluids, be an additive to go into your food, and go into composites. So you can imagine one day airplane wings made from Curran." All of which paints a very bright future for Cellucomp.
VIDEO-New U.S. poet laureate on migrant crisis: We must respond | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:56
New U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of migrant farm workers in California, says the world must respond ''in whatever way'' to the plight of migrants and refugees in Europe. Display (no reporter narration).
TRANSCRIPT +
DISPLAY (NO REPORTER NARRATION) As the son of migrant farm workers, the new U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera knows a thing or two about migration. Having spent his childhood in tents and trailers as his family moved around California, Herrera has been immersed in migrants community his entire life. It was this upbringing that has made Herrera sympathetic to the story of migrants - both here in the U.S. with last year's surge in unaccompanied minors and in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have arrived this year, fleeing war and poverty. "It's very tragic. It's very tragic. And as human beings we must think about that. And we must respond to that in whatever way, in whatever way. Maybe it's a very personal way. Maybe it's a letter written. Maybe there's a community organization or committee. Or maybe as poets we can write something," Herrera said. The biggest flow of immigrants into Western Europe since World War Two has sown discord across the continent, fuelling the rise of far right political parties and jeopardizing the 20-year-old achievement of Schengen's border-free travel. The crisis has pitted countries that are comparatively open, led by Germany, against those, many in former Communist eastern Europe, who argue that the welcoming approach has made the problem worse by encouraging people to make dangerous voyages.
VIDEO-Biden thumps Trump for selling 'sick message' | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 01:23
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Republican presidential contender Donald Trump is selling a "sick message" about immigrants in America based on xenophobia. Biden, considering a run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, told a small group of Latinos gathered at his home on Tuesday that they should not lose heart watching Trump climb in the polls while taking a hard line on immigration. Trump, leading the pack of Republicans seeking their party's 2016 nomination, has accused Mexico of sending criminals and rapists to the United States. He has promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants and deport the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States. Biden told his guests that he had seen Trump talking on television just before speaking to the poolside cocktail party, and decided to cast aside remarks his staff had prepared recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month. "There's one guy absolutely denigrating an entire group of people, appealing to the baser side of human nature, working on this notion of xenophobia in a way that hasn't occurred in a long time," Biden told the group of about 75 people. "This isn't about Democrat - Republican. It's about a sick message. This message has been tried on America many times before. We always, always, always, always overcome," he said. Biden, who is Catholic, urged the group not to feel "down" about Trump's popularity, noting that Pope Francis was about to visit the United States and likely would have a very different message about welcoming immigrants. "The American people are with us. I know it doesn't feel that way. But I'm telling you, the American people agree with us," Biden said. Biden, whose son Beau died recently, has said he is not sure he has the emotional capacity to make what would be his third run for president. His poll numbers have climbed as he explores the possibility and as the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, grapples with a controversy over her use of a private email server while secretary of state. At the end of his remarks, a few people in the crowd shouted, "Run Joe, run!" Biden, making the sign of the cross as he hurried away from the podium, said "Oh no, no, no, no, no" as if to stave off the topic.
VIDEO-Cuban migrants come ashore on Miami Beach | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:47
Finally on land, one Cuban migrant makes a call home. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN MIGRANT SAYING: "Tell her I'm here in American soil. I landed, I came. Don't ever forget that I came!" Eleven men, one woman, and a dog made the journey from Cuba to Miami in a small boat. And they say they're lucky to be alive. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MIGRANT CARLOS GARCIA SAYING: "Six days of very bad weather. We really thought that we were going to die and God brought us over here. We saw the light." They were greeted with kindness on Miami Beach. The Delano Hotel provided food and water. Some people gave them clothes. And there was another unexpected gift. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WITNESS JERRY HOLMES SAYING: "The guy actually came out, he walked what was going on. He found out what actually happened, the things they went through and just gave everyone a hundred dollars and went back inside." Under U.S. policy, Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil on smuggler vessels without visas are permitted to stay. After being checked in by border patrol...they'll start their new life in America.
VIDEO-Putin says Russia will continue aid to Assad | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:39
Moscow will continue to provide military assistance to the Syrian government in its war with insurgents. That was the message Tuesday from Russian President Vladimir Putin while in Tajikistan. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "We have supported the Syrian government. I would like to say that, as it confronts a terrorist aggression, we have provided and will provide all the necessary military and technical support. And we call on other countries to join us." Moscow's been the key international ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the protracted Syrian conflict -- saying it has "military experts" on the ground. But the U.S. believes Moscow wants to establish a forward operating air base in Syria, prompting a warning earlier this week from State Department spokesman John Kirby, that Russian military assistance won't help bring about a political solution to end the fighting. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY SAYING: "We still believe there is an opportunity to pursue that kind of transition in concert with Russian authorities. What would make it incredibly difficult to get there is continued support to the Assad regime from a military perspective" Moscow has come under increased international pressure in recent days to explain its moves in Syria...but all it has said so far is that continuing dialogue between Moscow and Washington is, quote, "indispensable".
VIDEO-Car Wars: Hackers hit the road | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:38
Hacking cars has evolved from a science fiction movie plot to an everyday threat as automakers begin to rely more heavily on wireless capabilities. Reuters technology correspondent Jim Finkle explores the growing threat on American streets.
TRANSCRIPT +
VIDEO-No, Bernie Sanders is not going to bankrupt America to the tune of $18 trillion - The Washington Post
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:58
Here is the full speech made by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Liberty University in Virginia on September 14, 2015. (Liberty University)
The big policy headline today comes from the Wall Street Journal, which delivers this alarming message:
Price Tag of Bernie Sanders' Proposals: $18 Trillion
Holy cow! He must be advocating for some crazy stuff that will bankrupt America! But is that really an accurate picture of what Sanders is proposing? And is this the kind of number we should be frightened of?
The answer isn't quite so dramatic: while Sanders does want to spend significant amounts of money, almost all of it is on things we're already paying for; he just wants to change how we pay for them. In some ways it's by spreading out a cost currently borne by a limited number of people to all taxpayers. His plan for free public college would do this: right now, it's paid for by students and their families, while under Sanders' plan we'd all pay for it in the same way we all pay for parks or the military or food safety.
But the bulk of what Sanders wants to do is in the first category: to have us pay through taxes for things we're already paying for in other ways. Depending on your perspective on government, you may think that's a bad idea. But we shouldn't treat his proposals as though they're going to cost us $18 trillion on top of what we're already paying.
And there's another problem with that scary $18 trillion figure, which is what the Journal says is the 10-year cost of Sanders' ideas: fully $15 trillion of it comes not from an analysis of anything Sanders has proposed, but from the fact that Sanders has said he'd like to see a single-payer health insurance system, and there's a single-payer plan in Congress that has been estimated to cost $15 trillion. Sanders hasn't actually released any health care plan, so we have no idea what his might cost.
But health care is nevertheless a good place to examine why these big numbers can be so misleading. At the moment, total health care spending in the United States runs over $3 trillion a year; according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over the next decade (from 2015-2024), America will spend a total of $42 trillion on health care. This is money that you and I and everyone else spends. We spend it in a variety of ways: through our health-insurance premiums, through the reduced salaries we get if our employers pick up part or all of the cost of those premiums, through our co-pays and deductibles, and through our taxes that fund Medicare, Medicaid, ACA subsidies, and the VA health care system. We're already paying about $10,000 a year per capita for health care.
So let's say that Bernie Sanders became president and passed a single-payer health care system of some sort. And let's say that it did indeed cost $15 trillion over 10 years. Would that be $15 trillion in new money we'd be spending? No, it would be money that we're already spending on health care, but now it would go through government. If I told you I could cut your health insurance premiums by $1,000 and increase your taxes by $1,000, you wouldn't have lost $1,000. You'd be in the same place you are now.
By the logic of the scary $18 trillion number, you could take a candidate who has proposed nothing on health care, and say, ''So-and-so proposes spending $42 trillion on health care!'' It would be accurate, but not particularly informative.
There's something else to keep in mind: every single-payer system in the world, and there are many of them of varying flavors, is cheaper than the American health care system. Every single one. So whatever you might say about Sanders' advocacy for a single-payer system, you can't say it represents some kind of profligate, free-spending idea that would cost us all terrible amounts of money.
Since Sanders hasn't released a health care plan yet, we can't make any assessment of the true cost of his plan, because there is no plan. Maybe what he wants to do would cost more than $15 trillion, or maybe it would cost less. But given the experience of the rest of the world, there's a strong likelihood that over the long run, a single-payer plan would save America money. Again, you may think single-payer is a bad idea for any number of reasons, but ''It'll be too expensive!'' is probably the least valid objection you could make.
There are some proposals that involve spending new money that we never would have spent otherwise, like starting a war that ends up costing $2 trillion. But in every case, whether we're doing something new or doing something we're already doing but in a new way, the question isn't what the price tag is, the question is whether we think what we'd get for that money makes spending it worthwhile.
For instance, Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure. That's a lot of money, but it's significantly less than experts say we need to repair all of our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, and so on. And infrastructure spending creates immediate jobs and has economic benefits that persist over time, which we'd also have to take into account in deciding whether it's a good idea. But just saying, ''$1 trillion is a lot of money!'' doesn't tell you whether or not we should do it.
The conservatives who are acting appalled at the number the Journal came up with are also the same people who never seem to care what a tax cut costs, because they think cutting taxes is a moral and practical good, in the same way that liberals think providing people with health coverage is a moral and practical good. For instance, Jeb Bush recently proposed a tax cut plan whose 10-year cost could be as high as $3.4 trillion. That's a lot of money that the government wouldn't be able to spend on the things it's doing right now, although the campaign argues that we'd get much of that money back in increased revenues because of the spectacular growth the tax cuts would create. If you remember the claims that George W. Bush's tax cuts would create stunning growth and prosperity for all, you might be just a bit skeptical of the Jeb campaign's similar assertions. But in any case, we can't evaluate the value of Jeb's plan just by saying that $3.4 trillion is a big number. If you knew that the average family in the middle of the income distribution would get less than $1,000 from Jeb's plan, while the average family in the top one percent would get a tax cut of over $80,000, then you'd have a better sense of whether it's a good or bad idea.
As a general matter, when you see a headline with an unimaginably large number, chances are it's going to confuse you more than it will enlighten you. The question when it comes to government should always be not what we're spending, but what we're getting for what we spend.
Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Plum Line blog, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.
VIDEO-Full Video: Donald Trump Speech at Dallas, Texas Rally at American Airlines Center, Sept. 14, 2015 | Shallow Nation
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 21:04
Watch live video and replay of Donald Trump's speech at a rally in Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Center on Monday, September 14, 2015. See it in real time via live stream video below at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT local time). Thereafter the full replay video will be posted. Details below.
UPDATE: Full replay video is below.
The live stream video is posted above for the event with GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump which starts at 6 pm. CT local time; 7 p.m. ET. Use World Clock to find the equivalent in your own time zone on Monday, September 14 or Tuesday September 15 accordingly.
Free tickets for the Make America Great Again rally are no longer available, according to reports, as the 20,000-seat capacity venue has already sold out. Local attendees can sign up for a waiting list; details via the American Airlines Center official site are here.
Photo credit: screenshot
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VIDEO-FULL: Donald Trump Speech On National Security In Los Angeles Aboard USS Iowa - YouTube
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 21:02
VIDEO-Angee. The First Truly Autonomous Home Security System. by Angee Inc. '-- Kickstarter
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:38
Angee gives you a full 360° view of your home -with voice recognition, at-the-door identification, motion-detecting rotation, advanced learning, cordless portability, and a number of additional features, all without any subscription fees. Angee is a welcome addition to any space.
Home is where we keep everything precious to us. Of course we want to keep it safe. But existing security systems are not smart and frustrating to use. Angee combines complex technology and beautiful design in an intelligent system that's personalized, completely automated and incredibly easy to use.
Home security is a necessity, but it doesn't have to be a burden. Even when you are home, Angee's got you covered. Record and stream videos, check your calendar '-- it's voice controlled and very clever.
Angee couldn't be simpler to set up. Simply unbox it, connect it with your smartphone, add security tags at entry points around your house, and your home is completely secured.
Whether its your smartphone, iPad or your smart watch we have designed the mobile experience to be the perfect natural extension of the experience you have using Angee. Connect to your home from anywhere and instantly understand what's going on there.
Angee arms and disarms based on your proximity through a two-step authentication process of phone and voice recognition. No need to enter a code every time you enter or leave your home.
Putting trained guards at all your windows and doors would be foolproof, but not very convenient. The entrances and exits of your home are the most important places to monitor, and that's why Angee is the world's first smart security system with complete perimeter security. Just stick security tags to doors and windows, and Angee will know exactly who comes and goes.
Angee's built-in battery enables it to sustain power in case of an outage. You'll receive a notification if the power goes out and Angee will continue monitoring. If your wi-fi goes offline, Angee will notify you and continue to record and any activity at home, saving the footage to its local storage.
Angee detects activity 360° around it and can turn towards whatever is happening in the vicinity. You'll have a complete view of what's going on at your home, even when you're away. Angee's state-of-the-art motion-tracking technology is also great for streaming and recording family videos.
With the best technology on the market, we've built an incredibly advanced night vision camera, so Angee can see in the dark, even when you can't.
Angee tells you what's happening at home via a streamlined mobile app. You'll receive instant notification if something out of the ordinary happens, and you can also use the app to connect with Angee remotely to see what it sees.
Privacy is the flipside of security. Who wants to be on camera all the time? Angee gets that. So it will turn away whenever you ask, whether you're having a romantic moment or you just need some privacy. Or you can set it not to record you, and only film people it doesn't recognize. Angee monitors when and how you want it to.
You talk '' Angee listens. Angee can understand what you say and who you are. To give you the second step of authentication, set a voice password so that Angee can identify you. You can use your voice as a backup when your phone is dead. Angee is customizable and it's up to you what level of security you choose.
A cool side effect of voice recognition is that all of its intelligent functionality is voice-controlled, so it gives you hands free communication, access to your favorite online services, and more. Angee also recognizes the voices of you and your family, so it will always personalize and contextualize its response.
The security element is paramount, but Angee does much more. Angee is a way to connect to your home, and to give you additional freedom and comfort when you're there.
It can double as a personal assistant by recording those all-too-often missed moments, answering your phone calls, or checking your calendar. It can even remind you to close your windows if rain is in the forecast '' all on voice command.
Offering an optimal balance of security and convenience, Angee is great for homeowners, renters, travelers, small business owners, Airbnb-hosts, or anyone else in search of a little peace of mind.
Our system is autonomous. This is important because the only way to effectively secure your home is to eliminate human interaction, namely arming and disarming the system manually.
To make a system truly autonomous'--a feat only we have achieved'--requires making it work reliably. It all comes down to the ability of the system to sense human presence'--your presence'--at home, no matter what room you're in, at all times, and under all circumstances.
While other systems use only the main device to sense human presence, we use a combination of multiple methods. Angee uses security tags to monitor the area effectively. The tags are placed at all entry points to your home. The tags are a combination of motion and proximity sensors so they can detect when someone has entered and left the space as well as create a "network" sensing proximity of nearby phones more reliably than any single device ever can. As a result - Angee will always know who is at home.
To evaluate what is going on at your home and whether there is a potential threat, Angee also uses a combination of other parameters, including entry and exit patterns, changes in the background noise, and voice differentiation, all while monitoring motion and sound to identify and record any suspicious activity. Moreover, with Angee you can also easily set up to four activity zones in Angee's sight of view. Angee will keep any eye and alert you when these zones are trespassed. Angee is very easy to use'--in fact it's seamless'--it just works.
Angee has been built with data protection best practices in mind. Angee core developers are experienced with real-time embedded software development. We are striving to develop high quality software by internally following similarly strict revision rules as they are used in the top open-source projects (i.e. Linux kernel).
Combining electronics and mechanical design as we developed Angee, we were confronted with paradoxes and contradictory demands on its functionality. We set our goal clearly: To overcome these challenges without compromising the experience we envisioned, making the form substantial and the design compelling.
To build such an advanced system with great user experience, we often had to pioneer and innovate our way through. And the result? Form meets the desired function completely. You can read more about the challenges on our blog.
We will have an open REST API so other developers and enthusiasts can integrate Angee into their applications and solutions. IFTTT platform support will be also available to everyone.
Everyone can live an easier life with the right technology, but it doesn't have to be distracting. It should be powerful, but subtle. Angee is a project we believe has the potential to enhance our lives, by changing the way we live in our homes.
We make products for everyone, so we listen to everyone. By listening to the community, we are constantly improving our product and meeting people's needs. We are on the forefront of technological innovation, but more importantly we are on the forefront of your experience with technology.
"In the future, smart hardware and technologies will be omnipresent. They will be easy to use ¼¼¼and perfectly integrated into our environment. These systems will understand and predict ¼¼¼what we need, saving us time and energy, and making our lives easier and more productive. ¼¼¼Angee is a big step toward this future''. Tomas Turek, CEO and Co-Founder
It's the 21st century, yet securing our homes is still a frustrating experience.
What started with the curiosity of the founder soon developed into the relentless passion of our talented programmers and designers. We all came together 18 months ago to develop a better way to protect our homes.
We started by learning from people's experience with early versions of smart security systems. As a tech-first company, we are now coming to Kickstarter with home security which is one step ahead of the competition. Our team is inspired to make the smartest home security system ever; useful, convenient, and tailored to each individual's needs.
After the initial phase of analyzing the problem and the available solutions, we experimented extensively, creating prototypes to test individual aspects of our solution. We have gathered the necessary expertise, but soon realized that to scale, we needed both capital and serial production experience.
To make up for what we lacked, we partnered with a well-established hardware company who had offered to help. We made our first prototype in just four months and it exceeded everyone's expectations, except ours. After this very short and intensive sprint, the big company offered to buy us. We decided to stay independent and invest our own money to pursue our vision of a smarter technology for a simpler life.
Learning from our mistakes, we re-imagined the whole concept of our product, starting with the original idea and applying all our hard-earned knowledge. Our willingness and ability to sacrifice everything we had done up to that point then start from scratch was the single best decision that has enabled us to create such a remarkable product.
Now our second prototype is ready, and we are excited to introduce it to the world.
As a hardware startup we have created an excellent functional prototype, but to scale to serial production we need your help.
Essentially there are three reasons why we are going to Kickstarter.
Validate our product concept: Autonomous, intelligent, communicative home security, which goes beyond just making your home safe to make your life more convenient. Bolster a passionate community that enables us to improve our products and keep satisfying the real needs of people. Create a brand whose mission is to make technology more functional, but less distracting in our everyday lives ''Great people are driven toward great things, The Angee project has attracted the best and most insane young talents. Together we are creating a beautiful, intuitive product people will love.'' - Rosta, Our CTO
The money we are asking will go primarily into the tooling and fixtures for serial production. Additionally some of the proceeds will go toward regulatory certification and pilot production.
After successful Kickstarter funding we will take our final version of the prototype and fine-tune it into the pre-production shape. This includes primarily software tuning where we are integrating couple really advanced technologies and we want the experience to be really smooth. Importantly, we will be working on the certification process and also on tooling for serial production.
Risks and challengesIn this project, a greater than usual amount of time was spend in the R&D, given the innovation we are pushing this was both exhilarating and required.
With numerous prototypes and experiments leading to constant optimizations, we have continually improved our Design for Manufacturing, the system infrastructure and the software solutions to make it all smoothly fit together. Consequently we have a very solid plan and good understanding of the challenges lying ahead of us. Our passion for making Angee exceptional has accelerated our learning enormously.
Together with Dragon Innovation and other field experts we have gone through technological due diligence to have even better understanding of the process that will follow and making sure we are able to produce Angee and deliver it to your door on time.
First thing after Kickstarter, we are heading to China to meet possible Contract Manufacturers and consequently to prepare solid production plan. We have a strong team, however unexpected component delays and shortages can occur. If this happens, you will be the first to know and we will work hard to quickly solve the problem.
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
VIDEO-Let's Do It In The 80's & Bits & Pieces III (REMASTERED) Stars on 45 - YouTube
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 20:33
VIDEO-Body Language Success: Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3308: Hillary Clinton's Apology - Certainly Late, Yet Was It Sincere? - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:47
Last week on Nightline, Hillary Clinton made an apology for not keeping separate her personal emails and her Secretary of State-related emails. What follows is a nonverbal analysis of this crucial portion of the interview.
Beginning at 0:55, Mrs. Clinton says, "... Um, but I do think I - could have and should have done a better job, ah, answering questions earlier. As I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should'veused two accounts, one for personal, one for - ah, work-related emails, ah. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility, ah, and I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can ..."
During this very important segment, Mrs. Clinton displays several shoulder shrugs (simultaneous with her spoken words outlined above in bold-red). A shoulder shrug should never be used in the midst of an apology. Never. It sends signals of:
"I Don't Know""I Don't Care" or "What Does It Matter?"Moreover an apology should never include:Torso Angled back in Chair (away from interviewer or audience) Head & Neck angled back, tilted back (although this is not as pronounced here as with some of her interviews)Crossed Ankles (very commonly used by Mrs. Clinton)Intertwined Fingers Note also that the former Secretary of state is using a lower volume, lower tone and slower rate of speech than for her is typical. And although lowering one's pitch, rate and volume are certainly valuable tools in helping to regulate our emotions' and moods' - these changes do not in isolation indicate or project sincerity. She's been coached to modify her voice in this manner - yet she's not pulling it off.Taken in parts or in toto - Hillary Clinton's apology is insincere. In addition, she's sending signals of impatient dismissal and strong feelings consistent with, "I'm only saying this because I have to." Mrs. Clinton feels she should NOT have had to apologize. She still feels she did nothing illegal. Thus while her apology is not a sincere one, this would be a similar nonverbal (and paralanguage) display for nearly all of us who felt we were forced into an apology which was not owed.
See also:
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3307: Donald Trump on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight ShowNonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3258: Hillary Clinton speaks out on "inaccuracies" of private email controversyNonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3264: Hillary Clinton, Likability, Perceived Trustworthiness and Body LanguageNonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3234: Whole Foods Market, Message to Customers, Damage Control and Body Language Faux Pas Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2512: Matthew Cordle's YouTube Confession and the Death of Vincent Canzani "I Killed a Man" - What His Body Language Tells Us
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VIDEO-Alleged FIU Foot Sniffer Arrested | NBC 6 South Florida
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 13:23
Authorities have arrested a man wanted by FIU authorities for allegedly smelling women's feet on campus. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015)
Authorities have arrested the man wanted by Florida International University authorities for allegedly smelling women's feet on campus.
Eddy Juan, 52, was taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon in the area of Southwest 59th Street and Southwest 97th Court in Miami-Dade.
FIU Police sent out an alert on Monday, asking for the public's help identifying the man with an apparent foot fetish.
Police said he had been crawling underneath tables at the FIU Library to smell women's feet. He had been caught in the act in photos.
The man wanted for allegedly sniffing women's feet on the FIU campus has been detained. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015)
Records show Juan is a registered sex offender. He has a wrap sheet dating back to 1992. His previous run-ins with the law includes charges of lewd and lascivious behavior on a child and indecent exposure.
On Tuesday, investigators said a subject matching Juan's description was spotted riding a scooter in the area of 51st Street and Southwest 104th Avenue.
Officers attempted a traffic stop, but Juan attempted to flee and subsequently crashed.
He was taken into custody without further incident and is being charged with violation of sexual offender registration, fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, aggravated assault and resisting without violence.
The man wanted by FIU authorities has been detained for allegedly sniffing women's feet on campus. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015)
FIU Police released a statement after the arrest, saying in part:
"On Tuesday afternoon, a member of the public saw the person and called Miami-Dade Police Department. Police officers saturated the area and located the individual riding a scooter. The individual attempted to flee and was apprehended and arrested. FIUPD appreciates the involvement of the concerned citizens of Miami-Dade County, who provided the information that led to this arrest."
Published at 5:48 PM EDT on Sep 15, 2015
VIDEO-15 vragen en antwoorden voor wie de draad kwijt is in het vluchtelingendebat
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 12:01
Een Syrische vluchteling bij de grens met Hongarije bekijkt de kaart op zijn telefoon. Samen met zijn familie is hij op weg naar Duitsland. Foto: Thomas Campean / Hollandse Hoogte
Ruim vier jaar geleden barstte een gruwelijke burgeroorlog uit in Syri. Miljoenen mensen sloegen in hun eigen land op de vlucht. Maar al snel trokken ze de grens over - op weg naar Turkije, Libanon en Europa. In de wirwar aan nieuwsberichten zou het goed kunnen dat je de draad bent kwijtgeraakt.
Dus bij dezen in sneltreinvaart: de 15 vragen over de vluchtelingencrisis die je niet durfde te stellen.
1. Ok(C), vertel, hoe groot is het probleem?Er is niemand die de omvang van het drama beter kan uitleggen dan de Zweedse professor Hans Rosling. Hij laat zien dat landen als Turkije, Libanon en Jordani pas echt van een 'crisis' kunnen spreken. Relatief gezien komen er maar weinig vluchtelingen naar Europa.
Het verhaal van Rosling in een notendop:
Twaalf van de twintig miljoen Syrirs hebben hun huis verlaten.Acht van die twaalf miljoen Syrirs zijn in andere delen van het land gaan wonen.Vier van de twaalf miljoen Syrirs zijn neergestreken in Turkije, Libanon en Jordani.Ongeveer 250.000 Syrirs zijn in Europa beland.Het filmpje van Rosling is een paar maanden oud: intussen zijn er (volgens de laatste telling in juli) nog eens 100.000 Syrirs in Europa gearriveerd.
2. Zo'n 350.000 Syrische vluchtelingen dus. Is dat veel of weinig?De Hongaarse premier Viktor Orbn waarschuwde onlangs dat Europeanen een minderheid op hun eigen continent worden. Maar in dit tempo kan dat nog eeuwen duren. Ten opzichte van de totale Europese bevolking - ongeveer 630 miljoen inwoners - vormen de Syrische vluchtelingen namelijk een kleine groep: zo'n 0,05 procent. Er wonen ongeveer evenveel mensen in de stad Utrecht.
In de top 10 van landen die de meeste vluchtelingen ontvangen, staat dan ook geen enkel Europees land. Maar dat neemt weer niet weg dat het aantal vluchtelingen in Europa stijgt. Er zijn sinds de jaren negentig niet zoveel vluchtelingen geweest.
Tip: klik op de twee knoppen bovenaan.
3. Als ze naar Europa komen, waar gaan de meeste vluchtelingen dan naartoe?In Europa ontvingen Duitsland, Zweden, Itali, Frankrijk en Hongarije in 2014 de meeste vluchtelingen. Duitsland is verreweg de populairste bestemming. Vorig jaar gingen er zo'n 200.000 mensen naartoe en voor 2015 verwacht Duitsland 800.000 nieuwkomers (dit cijfer is niet te checken, sommige experts denken dat het overdreven is).
Maar wie de aantallen in perspectief plaatst, ziet dat de meeste Syrische vluchtelingen nog altijd in Syri, Libanon, Turkije en Jordani zijn. Om de zoveel tijd pleit een politicus voor meer 'opvang in de regio,' maar dit gebeurt al lang en op immense schaal. In Libanon bestaat inmiddels een kwart van de inwoners uit Syrische vluchtelingen.
4. En hoeveel vluchtelingen komen hierheen?Nederland kreeg vorig jaar 24.500 asielaanvragen. Daarmee staan we op de achtste plek van Europa. Relatief gezien (per 100.000 inwoners) staan we nog lager in het ranglijstje: op de dertiende plek. Trouwens, in de jaren negentig kwamen er m(C)(C)r vluchtelingen naar Nederland dan nu. Toen vroegen gemiddeld 35.000 mensen per jaar asiel aan, in de jaren nul waren dat er nog 16.000 en sinds 2011 is dit aantal gestegen naar 20.000.
5. Zijn er eigenlijk geen rijke landen in het Midden-Oosten die de Syrische vluchtelingen kunnen opvangen?Goed punt. Amnesty International schreef het eind 2014 nog: 'De zes Golfstaten - Qatar, de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, Saoedi-Arabi, Koeweit, Oman en Bahrein - hebben nul hervestigingsplaatsen geboden voor Syrische vluchtelingen.' Je leest het goed: nul.
Volgens de vluchtelingenorganisatie van de Verenigde Naties zijn er wel 500.000 Syrirs in Saoedi-Arabi. Zij kregen eerder een werkvisum en mochten na afloop van hun visum blijven.
6. Even over die reis: hoe komen de vluchtelingen in Europa? Allemaal met de boot?De beelden van volgepropte, gammele bootjes zijn zo indringend dat je zou denken dat dit de enige manier is waarop mensen naar Europa komen. Niets is minder waar: als je naar de data kijkt, zie je dat de Middellandse Zee voor (C)(C)n derde van de asielzoekers de toegang tot Europa vormt. Minstens zo belangrijk is de route via de lange oostgrens. En bovendien komt (C)(C)n derde van de asielzoekers gewoon legaal binnen, via het vliegtuig, op bijvoorbeeld een werk- of studievisum.
7. Toch begrijp ik niet waarom vluchtelingen honderden euro's betalen om in een gammele boot te stappen. Waarom nemen ze niet allemaal het vliegtuig?We roepen opnieuw de hulp in van onze Zweedse professor Hans Rosling.
Dat wil zeggen: vluchtelingen willen niets liever dan het vliegtuig nemen. Ze hebben daar eigenlijk ook het recht op, maar de luchtvaartmaatschappijen zijn bang dat ze een boete krijgen als ze economische migranten aan boord nemen. En dus weigeren ze uit voorzorg iedereen die geen visum heeft.
8. Wacht even - dus die professor zegt dat ons grensbeleid indirect verantwoordelijk is voor duizenden slachtoffers?Ja. Sinds afgelopen mei houden wetenschappers van de Vrije Universiteit bij hoeveel mensen er omkomen aan de zuidgrens van Europa. Tussen 1990 en 2013 waren het er 3.188. Let wel: het gaat hier om geregistreerde doden. In werkelijkheid zijn er veel meer mensen omgekomen. Zo zijn er volgens de Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie in 2014 maar liefst 2.223 vluchtelingen verdronken in de Middellandse Zee. Begin deze week stond de teller voor 2015 al op 2.760. Het aantal slachtoffers neemt, kortom, snel toe.
9. Dat is verschrikkelijk. Toch vraag ik me af: zitten hier niet veel economische 'gelukzoekers' bij?Je hoeft geen professor te zijn om te bedenken dat de Syrirs die hun land ontvluchten vrijwel allemaal oorlogsvluchtelingen zijn. Zij krijgen dan ook bijna altijd asiel, net als de meeste vluchtelingen uit Eritrea, Irak en Afghanistan.
Maar het is belangrijk om te weten dat nog niet zo lang geleden - begin dit jaar - asielzoekers uit de Westelijke Balkan de grootste groep vormden. Vooral uit Kosovo en Servi staken tienduizenden mensen de grens over. Dit zijn economische migranten op zoek naar werk. Zij misbruiken het asielsysteem eigenlijk: ze weten dat ze teruggestuurd worden, maar in de tussentijd kunnen ze soms wel illegaal werk doen en/of een uitkering ontvangen.
Bron: EASO. (1 juni 2015)10. Ok(C), ik begrijp best dat we iets aan het vluchtelingenprobleem moeten doen. Maar toch, ondertussen wordt er ook op onze ouderenzorg bezuinigd.Volgens de begroting van 2015 geeft Nederland 632 miljoen euro uit aan asielzoekers. Hier zit alles bij in: van de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst tot de asielzoekerscentra. 632 miljoen euro is natuurlijk een groot bedrag, maar relatief gezien valt het mee. Het is 0,24 procent van de totale overheidsuitgaven.
Ter vergelijking: aan de ouderenzorg gaf de overheid in 2013 ongeveer 7 procent van haar budget uit - bijna 30 keer zoveel dus. Op de opvang van vluchtelingen wordt bovendien flink bezuinigd. In 2013 was het budget nog 746 miljoen; in 2018 moet dat zijn gedaald naar 582 miljoen.
11. Nog even hoor, maar zijn die Syrirs niet al rijk zat? Waarom zouden ze anders allemaal een smartphone hebben?De journalist James O'Malley geeft in de Britse krant The Independent een helder antwoord op deze vraag: omdat mobiele telefoons relatief goedkoop zijn en - zeker als je een lange reis maakt - heel nuttig. En bedenk: de wereld bestaat al lang niet meer uit louter rijke landen, waar mensen hippe telefoons kunnen kopen, en arme landen waar mensen verhongeren. De meeste landen zitten ergens tussen die uitersten in. Syri was voor de uitbraak van de oorlog geen rijk land, maar ook niet arm.
12. Je bedoelt dat de vluchtelingen die hier komen relatief gezien juist wat rijker zijn?Precies. Naarmate andere landen rijker worden, moeten we dan ook op m(C)(C)r migranten rekenen, niet minder. Reizen is immers een kostbare aangelegenheid - een ticket op een van die gammele bootjes kost al gauw duizend euro. De (C)cht arme sloebers komen ¼berhaupt hun land niet uit of blijven onderweg steken in Turkije, Libanon of Jordani.
13. Wat een uitzichtloze situatie is dit. Kun je nu eindelijk over de oplossingen beginnen?Jazeker. We kunnen een hek om Nederland zetten, het Vluchtelingenverdrag opzeggen en al onze humanitaire pretenties vaarwel zeggen. Dan moeten we dus ook ophouden met ons druk maken over verdronken kinderen. Niet ons probleem.
14. Doe even normaal, natuurlijk is dit ook ons probleem. Zijn er geen oplossingen waar mijn geweten mee kan leven?Die zijn er ook ja. Het goede nieuws is dat Europa al het beste asielsysteem ter wereld heeft. Het slechte nieuws is dat dit systeem nagenoeg onbereikbaar is. We bouwen steeds hogere muren die er niet voor zorgen dat er minder mensen komen, maar dat migranten steeds gevaarlijkere routes nemen. En juist doordat er geen veilige wegen naar Europa zijn, kunnen mensensmokkelaars handenvol geld verdienen.
Dat kan anders. We kunnen migranten de kans geven om al buiten Europa asiel aan te vragen - precies wat staatssecretaris Klaas Dijkhoff (Veiligheid en Justitie, VVD) nu voorstelt. Degenen die recht hebben op een vluchtelingenstatus kunnen vervolgens gewoon met het vliegtuig komen.
Maar op de korte termijn zal dit de vluchtelingenstroom natuurlijk niet stoppen. Als we willen voorkomen dat er nog meer mensen sterven, zullen we dan ook veilige routes naar Europa moeten creren. We zouden ook meer kunnen investeren in de opvang in de regio en in bijvoorbeeld Griekenland en Bulgarije. En we zouden vluchtelingen eerlijker kunnen verdelen over Europa, met een verdeelsleutel die we gezamenlijk afspreken.
15. Kan ik zelf nog iets doen voor vluchtelingen in Nederland?Natuurlijk. Allereerst kun je politici oproepen om echt aan de slag te gaan met de bovenstaande oplossingen. Teken een petitie, demonstreer en stuur een verontwaardigde tweet de wereld in. Er zijn inmiddels ook tientallen initiatieven om iets concreters te doen. Op de site ikwilietsdoenvooreenvluchteling.nlstaan ze allemaal op een rij. Bedenk: geld doneren is bijna altijd effectiever dan spullen geven. De kosten om de spullen te vervoeren wegen vaak niet op tegen het nut van nog een tweedehands winterjas.
Dit stuk is gebaseerd op de vele artikelen die de correspondenten Karel Smouter en Maite Vermeulen in de afgelopen twee jaar over migratie schreven. Een eerdere versie is voorgelegd aan wetenschappers van de Vakgroep Migratierecht van de Vrije Universiteit. Zij beantwoorden op hun 'Verblijfblog' allerlei andere vragen over vluchtelingen.'‹
De tien beste ideen voor een humaan asielbeleidEuropa schendt voortdurend mensenrechten bij het bewaken van haar grenzen. Dat kan anders. Tot besluit van hun drie maanden lange reis langs de randen van Fort Europa noteerden Karel Smouter en Maite Vermeulen vorig jaar de tien beste ideen voor een humaan asielbeleid.
Lees het artikel hier.
Quizvraag: waar ligt dit vluchtelingenkamp?Om een troosteloos vluchtelingenkamp te vinden, hoef je Europa niet uit. 'We worden hier niet behandeld als mensen, maar als beesten. Het is hier net Guantanamo Bay. Alhoewel? Daar krijg je tenminste nog te eten.'
Lees het artikel hier.
Vijf vragen over het drama in de Middellandse Zee (en: het echte drama daarachter)Wat deed Europa tot nu toe om de vluchtelingencrisis aan te pakken? En werkt dat?
Lees het artikel hier
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VIDEO-More kids getting drunk on hand sanitizer - CNN.com
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:53
Story highlightsHuge increase in poison control calls related to kids ingesting hand sanitizerIngesting even small amounts of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoningIt also contained enough alcohol to make her dangerously drunk. She arrived at the emergency room slurring her words and unable to walk.
Is hand sanitizer toxic?
Since 2010, poison control center hotlines across the United States have seen a nearly 400% increase in calls related to children younger than 12 ingesting hand sanitizer, according to new analysis by the Georgia Poison Center.
"Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there's a percentage of them going to the emergency room," said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the center's director.
The amount of alcohol in hand sanitizer ranges from 45% to 95%. Ingesting even small amounts -- as little as two or three squirts in some cases -- can cause alcohol poisoning. By comparison, wine and beer contain about 12% and 5% alcohol, Lopez said.
Hand sanitizer doesn't help in schools
Nhaijah's blood-alcohol level was .179, twice what's considered legally drunk in an adult, according to Dr. Chris Ritchey, who treated her in the emergency room at Gwinnett Medical Center near Atlanta. Doctors had to watch Nhaijah overnight at a nearby children's hospital for signs of brain trauma, since the alcohol had caused her to fall and hit her head, he said.
"That was very scary," Nhaijah's mother, Ortoria Scott, said. "It could have been very lethal for my child."
Laundry detergent pods are 'real risk' to children
Alcohol poisoning can cause confusion, vomiting and drowsiness. In severe cases, a child can stop breathing.
Lopez said 3,266 hand sanitizer cases related to young children were reported to poison control centers in 2010. In 2014, the number increased to 16,117 cases.
Last week, Lopez sent a letter to Georgia's school systems warning about children drinking hand sanitizer. He explained that some children do it intentionally in order to get drunk, while others do it on a dare from friends. Still others, he said, drink sanitizer because it looks tasty.
"A kid is not thinking this is bad for them," Lopez said. "A lot of the more attractive (hand sanitizers) are the ones that are scented. There are strawberry, grape, orange-flavored hand sanitizers that are very appealing to kids."
Lopez recommends parents and teachers store hand sanitizer out of reach of children and monitor its use. He said nonalcohol based products or sanitizing wipes can also be used.
VIDEO-Mississippi college instructor suspected of killing partner, college professor commits suicide | Fox News
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:46
An instructor at Mississippi's Delta State University suspected of killing the woman he lived with and a colleague -- possibly as the result of a love triangle -- died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound late Monday, authorities said.
Local media, citing the Washington County Sheriff's office and other agencies, reported that Shannon Lamb, 45, was being chased by police in his black Dodge Avenger on Highway 1 near Greenville when he pulled the car over, bailed out on foot, and ran into some woods along the side of the road.
Delta State University police chief Lynn Buford told the Associated Press that the pursuing officers heard a single gunshot before finding Lamb wounded. The suspect was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Cleveland Police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham told reporters that Lamb was returning from Arkansas when a license plate reader picked up his plate as he crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River. Bingham said police followed Lamb but did not try to apprehend him, and were waiting for backup to pursue Lamb on foot when they heard a single shot. When backup arrived, they searched and found Lamb with a gunshot wound to the head.
Late Monday, the university lifted a campus lockdown that had been in place since Lamb allegedly shot and killed Professor Ethan Schmidt, 39, as Schmidt sat at his desk in a university office. The university said Tuesday classes were canceled and a candlelight vigil would be held in Schmidt's memory Tuesday evening.
"We're relieved that this tragedy is over," University President William LaForge told AP.
Police believe that hours before Lamb shot and killed Schmidt, he murdered his domestic partner, 41-year-old Amy Prentiss, at the home the couple shared in Gautier, Miss., approximately 300 miles from Delta State's campus in Cleveland.
Lamb, a geography and social science education instructor, allegedly believed Prentiss was also in a relationship with Schmidt. However, authorities early Tuesday declined to formally identify a motive for the crimes.
Approximately an hour before Lamb died, Bingham denied the suspect had been in contact with law enforcement. That contradicted information given by Gautier Police Lt. Scott Wilson and another unidentified officer, who told a news conference they had spoken with Lamb and "he's not going to jail." The unidentified officer said anyone coming into contact with Lamb should use extreme caution. They did not elaborate on how or when they spoke with the suspect.
Lamb received a doctorate in education from Delta State University in the spring of 2015, according to his resume posted on the university's website. He started working there in 2009 and taught geography and education classes, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, according to the resume.
LaForge said Lamb was teaching two online classes this semester.
Reports of Schmidt's shooting sent the campus into a lockdown Monday morning. Law enforcement personnel poured over the grounds in search of the gunman.
When asked how the shooter could escape the victim's building so quickly, Bingham said Schmidt's office was close to an exit and "it was not hard to leave the building rapidly."
Charlie King was in a history class down the hall from where the shooting occurred.
"A few minutes into the class, we heard these popping noises and we all went completely silent," he said.
Some people thought that it might be a desk or door closing or firecrackers, but King said he thought it sounded like gunshots. A few minutes later a police officer -- gun drawn -- burst into the windowless room and ordered everyone to get against the wall away from the door. Some people also hid in a storage closet, King said. The officer didn't explain what was going on, but King said the students understood.
"We put two and two together," he said. The professor gave the students chairs to throw if the shooter came in, said King's friend, Christopher Walker Todd.
Eventually police ushered the students into another building and questioned them about what they'd seen and how many shots they heard.
Freshman Noah Joyner, 18, was in his dorm building when reports of an active shooter began to spread. He hunkered down in a bathroom and heard others desperate to get in.
"There were like people banging on the doors to have somebody let them in," said Joyner, a swimmer at the college. "It was pretty terrifying."
Charly Abraham was teaching a class of about 28 students at the university's Delta Music Institute when he and the students received a message through the university's alert system.
"Everybody's phone just sort of went off at the same time," Abraham said. Then a staff member came in and told them that the campus was on lockdown.
"We discovered it was something very serious when we started getting text messages from people all over the world," he said.
Eventually, about two hours or so after the initial lockdown, about 25 heavily armed police officers swept through the building, Abraham said. All of the students were sent back to their dorms and other people such as faculty and students who live off campus were sent to the university's coliseum, Abraham said, though most were later allowed to leave
Schmidt graduated from the University of Kansas with a PhD in philosophy in 2007. He had taught at Delta State since August 2013. He previously served as an assistant professor and director of graduate studies at Texas Tech University, and was a lecturer and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas. Schmidt wrote two books about Native Americans: ''Native Americans in the American Revolution,'' published in 2014, and ''The Divided Dominion,'' published in February 2015.
Schmidt was a member of numerous organizations at Delta State, including the Diversity Committee and the Student Success Task Force.
The 3,500-student university is in Mississippi's flat, agricultural region near the Arkansas state line. Cleveland is a city of about 12,000 people located 38 miles northeast of Greenville.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO-UN - 20,000 Measles Cases in DRC - YouTube
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 09:57
VIDEO-Exclusive: New Emails on Secret Benghazi Weapons | Fox Business
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 23:03
On the third anniversary of the Benghazi terrorist attack, emails reviewed by Fox News raise significant questions about US government support for the secret shipment of weapons to the Libyan opposition.
During the Spring of 2011, as the Obama administration ramped up efforts to topple the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a licensed American arms dealer, Marc Turi, his business partner formerly with the CIA, senior US military officials in Europe and Africa as well as a former staffer for republican Senator John McCain considered logistics for arming the rebels, according to the emails exclusively obtained by Fox Business and Fox News.
Turi is facing federal trial this December on two counts that he allegedly violated the arms export control act by making false statements. Turi denies the charges, and alleges there was a rogue weapons operation run with the knowledge of Mrs. Clinton's state department.
The email dated March 22, 2011 was sent by Admiral James Stavridis, when he was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, from his government email account to Turi's business partner David Manners.
The email was also copied to General Carter Ham, then head of the defense department's Africa command. Stavridis vouches for Manners as a United States Naval Academy classmate and "former CIA Officer with deep connections throughout the near Middle East."
"The person in charge of the operation from a US DoD perspective is General Carter Ham, the commander of AFRICOM...Clearly, what you are describing is a State Department lead"
- March 2011 Email, Admiral James Stavridis, SACEUR
Also copied on the email is Mike Kostiw who worked for Senator John McCain until February 2011 on the Senate Armed Services committee. It is not known from the emails reviewed by Fox whether the parties responded, or whether others were brought into the discussion.
Stavridis tells Manners "The person in charge of the operation from a US DoD perspective is General Carter Ham, the commander of AFRICOM...Clearly, what you are describing is a State Department lead."
Fox News contacted Stavridis who is now the dean at Tuft's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Ham, now retired, and Kostiw, in the private sector, seeking a further explanation of the email and the context in which it was sent. Stavridis said he had "nothing to add. Don't remember the email specifically. Dave Manners is a USNA classmate I've known for 40 years. Wish I could be more helpful." There was no immediate response from Ham or Kostiw. Manners turned down an earlier request from Fox to discuss the matter.
In a sworn declaration to the District Court of Arizona May 5th 2015, Manners said, "It was then, and remains now, my opinion that the United States did participate, directly or indirectly, in the supply of weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC)." The timing matters because in the Spring of 2011 the Libyan opposition was not formally recognized, and the direct supply of arms was not authorized. At that time, the CIA director was David Petraeus.
As part of Fox's ongoing reporting of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, Fox News senior executive producer Pamela Browne interviewed Turi, who recalled this email exchange--- adding it came after he applied for a license through the State Department to sell weapons.
"At that point in time, this would've been the first application where the thought process was: the US government was going (to) directly support the Libyan TNC-not use any ally, use their own resources and support," Turi explained. "I actually-we met: Kostiw, and Manners, and myself. and I said, 'Listen, we're going to need overflight permission."
Turi said support for arming the Libyan rebels came from the most senior levels of the US government. Turi's claim is consistent with a Reuters news service exclusive report from March 31, 2011 that stated "President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi...Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter."
"I'm being extremely transparent and you gotta understand from a, a person in my position, you're not going to go to a country that's under war and hold yourself out there like you're a black market arms dealer. You are committing suicide," Turi said.
"'Hey, I'm here. I'm an option for you if you wanna use that option.' Otherwise, they're gonna do it themselves and that's exactly what they wanted to do because what happens is, if you don't want a US footprint-any type of US entities that's subject to subpoena powers - what do you do? You outsource it and that's what they did."
Turi and his company, Turi Defense Group deny they shipped any weapons, arguing their concept to use an Arab ally instead, so there would be a "zero foot print" for the US government, was used but without strong security and vetting procedures in place.
March 2011 was a busy time for Hillary Clinton. Even today, congressional investigators doubt they have all of the emails from her personal server when she was Secretary of State. On March 14th, 2011, along with Chris Stevens, who was the Special Representative to the Libyan Trans National Council, Clinton met with Libya's Mustafa Jibril in Paris -- a senior member of the TNC. The next day, Secretary Clinton met with Egypt's new foreign minister Nabil el Arabi in Cairo and walked through Tahrir Square with her senior adviser Huma Abedin. At the same time, Turi's proposal, a 267-million dollar contract, was working its way through US government channels.
Turi provided Fox News with emails he exchanged - in early April 2011 - with Chris Stevens to alert him to the proposed weapons deal. The emails were previously cited by the New York Times, but Fox News has made the message traffic public.
Stevens replied with a "thank you " and wrote "I'll keep it in mind and share it with my colleagues in Washington."
As Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge first reported, a heavily redacted email released to the Benghazi committee in May clearly states that on April 8, 2011, a day after the Turi/Stevens exchange, Clinton was interested in arming the rebels using contractors:
"FYI. the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered," Clinton wrote. Significantly, the state department released emails blacked out this line, but the version given to the Benghazi select committee was complete.
In May 2011, Turi got a brokering approval from the State Department for Qatar. Federal court documents show that on June 14th, a Russian businessman wrote to Turi indicating Chris Stevens was the State Department's point man for arming the rebels.
Document 55, exhibit F, contains an email from the Russian, stating "I sent you an email days back and no answer from you....anyhow, Mr. Stevens the American embassedor (sic) in benghazi (sic) has been informed of the arrangement...and things should be ok."
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
VIDEO-Donald Trump Calls Rising CEO Pay a 'Complete Joke' | TIME
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:24
Donald Trump said Sunday in an interview with CBS that ballooning CEO pay is ''a total and complete joke,'' sounding a populist tone as he continues to stir up the Republican base in his run for president.
''It does bug me. It's very hard if you have a free enterprise system to do anything about that,'' the Republican presidential frontrunner told CBS' Face the Nation Sunday when asked about CEO pay. ''You know the boards of companies are supposed to do it but I know companies very well and the CEO puts in all his friends'...and they get whatever they want you know because their friends love sitting on the board.''
Trump takes some unorthodox views that set him apart from traditional Republicans, railing against free trade deals and the notion of cutting Medicare and Social Security. He once supported a single-payer healthcare system.
The real estate mogul and billionaire has been leading the Republican field for nearly two months, inspiring restive voters with his hardline immigration stance'--he has called for the deportation of all illegal immigrants'--and perceived willingness to tell unvarnished truths.
[CBS]
VIDEO: Smugglers 'deliberately holed boat'
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:21
A man who survived after a boat crowded with refugees and migrants from Iraq and Syria, sank near the Greek island of Farmakonisi has told the BBC he believes the smugglers deliberately holed the boat when they were just 300 metres from the shore.
At least 34 people died, almost half of them children.
The man, Jay, told the BBC's Richard Galpin, the smugglers were Syrian and had been identified and arrested by the authorities in Leros where the survivors were taken.
VIDEO-Deutsche to cull 23,000 jobs - sources | Reuters.com
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 19:05
Deutsche Bank aims to cut roughly 23,000 jobs, or about one quarter of total staff, according to financial sources - while Italy's UniCredit is reported to be planning job cuts of its own. David Pollard reports.
TRANSCRIPT +
It could be a quarter of their workforce. The number of jobs sources are telling Reuters will be shed at Deutsche Bank. In all - 23,000, the reports say. If confirmed, it would bring the workforce at the German giant down to around 75,000 full-time positions. The layoffs mainly coming in technology activities and by spinning off its PostBank division. New chief exec John Cryan took control of Germany's biggest bank in July with a promise to cut costs. That appointment came in the wake of a raft of regulatory and legal problems, including alleged manipulation of benchmark interest rates. Cryan presented preliminary details of his restructuring plan to members of the supervisory board at the weekend. The bank is also reported to be closing almost all its operation in Russia. Separately, Deutsche confirmed it is to bring the chairman of its Russian unit back to Germany. It described the move as a long-planned promotion. It says it's not linked to current probes into allegations of questionable share trades involving the bank's Moscow office. And Deutsche is not the only one reported to be culling jobs. Ten thousand positions are to be cut at Italy's biggest bank, UniCredit, according to a source speaking to Reuters.
VIDEO-Sanders: America Founded On 'Racist Principles' | The Daily Caller
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:54
4712672
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a crowd at Liberty University Monday that America was founded on ''racist principles'' and that the country ''took a huge step forward'' in electing Barack Obama in 2008.
SANDERS: I hope that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, discriminate against people based on the color of their skin. And I will also say, that as a nation '-- the truth is a nation that in many ways was created, and I'm sorry to have to say this from way back, on racist principles, that's a fact. We have come a long way as a nation. Now I know, my guess is that probably not everybody here is an admirer or a voter for Barack Obama, but the point is that in 2008, this country took a huge step forward in voting for a candidate based on his ideas and not the color of his skin.
[h/t: The Blaze]
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VIDEO-BBC pledges to become 'open platform' for creativity - BBC News
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 16:01
The BBC has pledged to work more closely with the UK's arts and science institutions to "make Britain the greatest cultural force in the world".
BBC director general Tony Hall set out plans for the next decade, saying the corporation will become an "open BBC for the internet age".
A children's iPlayer and a pool of local reporters who will share work with local newspapers are also planned.
Yet he said funding cuts would mean the loss or reduction of some services.
Lord Hall laid out the plans at the Science Museum on Monday, ahead of the BBC's charter renewal in 2016.
Citing the importance of "excellence without arrogance", he said his plans did not signal "an expansionist BBC".
He did warn, however, that funding cuts would mean it would "inevitably have to either close or reduce some services", without specifying which areas might be under threat.
Image caption Professor Brian Cox announced a strand titled The New Age of Wonder New initiatives will include an Ideas Service, which Lord Hall said would be an "open online platform" featuring material from galleries, museums and universities as well as the corporation itself.
He said: "Our new, open BBC will act as a curator bringing the best from Britain's great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone.
"Britain has some of the greatest cultural forces in the world. We want to join with them, working alongside them, to make Britain the greatest cultural force in the world.
"We are extremely ambitious for this new service.
"Where Google's mission is to organise the world's information, ours in a smaller way would be to understand it. We will work with anyone who can help us understand this ever more complex world."
Image copyrightPAImage caption The BBC is creating a new iPlayer - for children The government launched a consultation on the BBC's Royal Charter, which sets out the purpose of the BBC and how it will be governed, in July, promising to ask "hard questions" about the corporation's size and ambition.
Other BBC plans include:
A pool of reporters to provide impartial reporting on councils and public services that could be used by both the BBC and other local news outletsA children's-only iPlayer - iPlay - featuring not just television programmes but blogs, podcasts, games and educational toolsOpening up iPlayer to "showcase" content from other broadcastersNew versions of BBC education, news and entertainment services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland"Significant investment" in the BBC World Service, including a daily news programme for North Korea and more broadcasts to Russia, India and the Middle EastA news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short waveA review of the BBC's website to make sure it is "distinctive with a stronger focus on online broadcast content"New digital ways to help fans find new music or music from the BBC archiveThe director general also said he wanted to enable "producers, directors, writers, artists to have the creative freedom to do things they would find it harder to do elsewhere".
Quality drama will also be a priority, he said, and the BBC will make "bigger and bolder series" that will be made available on the iPlayer in their entirety.
Physicist and BBC presenter Professor Brian Cox also announced a science strand named The New Age of Wonder, which will be part of the Ideas Service and will be created in partnership with organisations like the Royal Institution.
Analysis - BBC media correspondent David Sillito"This is not an expansionist BBC" is perhaps the key political line in today's announcements. This is a response to the accusation that the corporation is "imperial in its ambitions" made by Chancellor George Osborne (along with several newspapers).
Partnerships with cultural bodies, sharing news with local newspapers, opening up the iPlayer to third party content - the mood music is all about co-operation rather than competition.
The second theme can be seen most clearly in the plans for bigger and bolder drama and giving people the chance to "binge" watch. The BBC is in a global marketplace - Netflix, Amazon, Google, Apple and HBO - the traditional media landscape is being blown apart.
The BBC's problem is looking after its core audience and responding to a technological transformation. It will take money and the BBC has just taken a £650m cut. Those "tough choices" mentioned in the speech is the theme that has not yet been announced.
Lord Hall described the recent agreement by the BBC to cover the £600m cost of providing free television licences for over-75s as a "tough deal" that would require "some very difficult choices" to be made.
He said: "Having already saved 40% of the BBC's revenues in this charter period, we must save close to another 20% over the next five years."
Details of how those savings will be made and which services might be under threat will be announced in the coming months, he added.
In a charter review proposals document published on Monday, however, the BBC suggests that "some existing services" might no longer be needed in future.
"Streaming news may replace rolling news," the document states. "Children may prefer iPlay to scheduled television. The Ideas Service might mean we no longer need BBC Four."
Later in the same document, though, the BBC states "it is too early to be specific about the service changes that we will need to make."
'Trojan horse'The BBC's plans for "a network of 100 public service reporters across the country" did not find favour with the Scottish Newspaper Society, who labelled the proposal "a Trojan horse which will undermine long-established publications and destroy local news agencies".
"Instead of helping local news publishers, it would make the BBC even more powerful and would further concentrate coverage of news in the hands of the state-funded broadcaster," said its director John McLellan.
The News Media Association, which represents national, regional and local news media organisations across the UK, expressed similar concerns, saying the corporation's proposals represented "BBC expansion into local news provision and recruitment of more BBC local journalists through the back door".
"The local newspaper sector already employs thousands of journalists and is the only reliable source of independent and trusted local news across the UK," said its vice chairman Ashley Highfield. "There is no deficit which the BBC needs to plug."
"Under the guise of being helpful, the BBC would end up replacing independent local news services," Mr McLellan told Radio 4's The World at One earlier, calling the plan "a further expansion of the BBC's encroachment".
Yet this accusation was rejected by James Purnell, the BBC's director of strategy, who told the same programme it was "very much not the goal" for the BBC to "take over all local journalism".
VIDEO-Charles Frith - Punk Planning: CIA Director Bill Casey - Another Spook Child Abuser
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:41
It's no coincidence that at the height of the VIP child abuse network both the British (through Maurice Oldfield and Peter Hayman) and American spy agencies were led by child abusers. The only possible agency that could have manipulated that is the Israeli spy network Mossad who I claim were the best child abuse blackmailers and appointers of power for decades.
VIDEO-HARDCORE Official TIFF trailer - starring Sharlto Copley - YouTube
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:39
VIDEO-Schengen: Controversial EU free movement deal explained - BBC News
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:14
The migrant crisis is putting pressure on the Schengen Agreement, which abolished the EU's internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc.
Germany has brought back border controls, and several other countries are taking similar measures, all allowed under the accord but only temporarily and in exceptional circumstances
Only six of the 28 EU member states are outside the Schengen zone - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK.
Non-EU nationals who have a Schengen visa generally do not have ID checks once they are travelling inside the zone.
Schengen is a town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed in 1985.
Which countries have removed internal borders?There are 26 countries in Schengen - 22 EU members and four non-EU. Those four are: Iceland and Norway (since 2001), Switzerland (since 2008) and Liechtenstein (since 2011).
Schengen took effect in 1995, the first members being: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
They were followed by Italy and Austria in 1997, Greece in 2000, and the Nordic countries in 2001.
Nine more EU countries joined in 2007, after the EU's eastward enlargement in 2004. They are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Are other countries going to remove border checks too?Andorra and San Marino are not part of Schengen, but they no longer have checks at their borders.
There is no date yet for Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, or for Bulgaria and Romania, which joined in 2007.
Which EU countries are not party to the Schengen agreement?The UK and Republic of Ireland have opted out. The UK wants to maintain its own borders, and Dublin prefers to preserve its free movement arrangement with the UK - called the Common Travel Area - rather than join Schengen.
The UK and Ireland began taking part in some aspects of the Schengen agreement, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), from 2000 and 2002 respectively.
The SIS enables police forces across Europe to share data on law enforcement. It includes data on stolen cars, court proceedings and missing persons.
Why is the migrant crisis undermining Schengen?Image copyrightReutersImage caption Hungary - inside Schengen - has proven a magnet for migrants hoping to reach Germany Germany has re-imposed controls on its border with Austria, after a record number of migrants travelled to southern Germany from Hungary, via Austria.
The influx of migrants - most of them fleeing Syria and other conflict zones - also pushed Austria to restrict road and rail traffic on its border with Hungary.
Slovakia is boosting controls on its borders with Austria and Hungary. The Dutch are introducing spot checks and Poland is also considering action.
The migrants entered the EU illegally, without Schengen visas. Hungary became a hotspot as a central gateway to the Schengen zone.
In June there was tension over Schengen when France prevented migrants - mostly Africans - entering from Italy, leaving them stranded at Ventimiglia train station.
In his State of the Union speech on 9 September the EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, called free movement under Schengen "a unique symbol of European integration".
The current crisis, he said, demanded "better joint management of our external borders and more solidarity in coping" with the influx.
Schengen has drawn intense criticism from nationalists and Eurosceptics EU-wide, such as the French National Front (FN), Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and UK Independence Party.
When can countries re-impose border controls?Image copyrightEPAImage caption A foiled attack on board a train from Amsterdam to Paris raised questions about the Schengen accord Under the Schengen rules, signatories may re-instate internal border controls for 10 days, if this is necessary for "public policy or national security" reasons. If the problem continues, the controls can be maintained for "renewable periods" of up to 20 days and for a maximum of two months.
The foiled terror attack on a train in northern France in August fuelled anxiety about Schengen. It raised the question: how did a heavily-armed man manage to board an Amsterdam-Paris train in Brussels?
An EU regulation in 2013 specified that such controls "should remain an exception and should only be effected as a measure of last resort, for a strictly limited scope and period of time".
Any state that does so has to notify EU institutions and allow EU monitoring of the controls.
Besides the current crisis, France re-imposed border controls after the bomb attacks on London in 2005.
Austria, Portugal and Germany re-imposed border controls for some major sporting events, such as the Fifa World Cup.
Image copyrightReutersImage caption German police are now routinely checking vehicles entering from Austria What else does Schengen involve?The main feature is the creation of a single external border, and a single set of rules for policing the border. Among the other measures are:
Common rules on asylum;
Hot pursuit - police have the right to chase suspected criminals across borders;
Separation in airports of people travelling within the Schengen area from other passengers;
Common list of countries whose nationals require visas;
Creation of the Schengen Information System (SIS), which allows police stations and consulates to access a shared database of wanted or undesirable people and stolen objects;
Joint efforts to fight drug-related crime.
How are non-EU citizens affected?Image copyrightAFPImage caption The Schengen visa gives non-EU nationals easy access to most of Europe A Schengen visa is necessary to travel to a Schengen country or within the area. It is a short-stay visa valid for 90 days. It also allows international transit at airports in Schengen countries.
A short-stay visa costs '‚¬60 (£44; $68).
But the visa costs '‚¬35 for Russians, Ukrainians and citizens of some other countries, under visa facilitation agreements.
The EU has no visa requirement for citizens of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia who have biometric passports. These Balkan nations all hope to join the EU. Kosovo is excluded from the arrangement.
Since the scrapping of visas for travellers from the Western Balkans there has been a surge in asylum applications from that region. Many asylum seekers are Roma (Gypsies), who are often desperately poor, marginalised and victims of discrimination.
Most of the asylum claims are submitted in Germany, which already has well-established diaspora communities from the Balkans.
An EU report says "asylum abuse has continued to afflict the visa-free scheme" and the situation "remains untenable". It calls for more aid for minorities, especially the Roma, in the Balkans, and much tighter co-operation between border authorities.
Now the EU is considering having a common list of "safe countries of origin", including the Western Balkans and Turkey. It would help speed up the processing of asylum claims, and give a legal basis for sending many Balkan applicants home. Fewer than 10% of applicants from the region get asylum in the EU.
VIDEO-A device to zap away motion sickness | Reuters.com
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:07
It's enough to make you sick... but that's just the point for Dr Qadeer Arshad from Imperial College London. He's developing a new treatment to suppress the brain signals that trigger motion sickness. It's an idea he hit upon while investigating why people with balance problems seem to be unaffected by many of the symptoms. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR QADEER ARSHAD (pron. Kad-ear Arsh-add), CLINICAL SCIENTIST AT CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL & LECTURER FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING: "And so we developed a separate line of research; a way of using brain stimulation to suppress the signals from the inner ear and the brain. And so we thought that if we suppress signals at the level of the brain from the inner ear, then this would be highly effective against motion sickness." Most people experience that queasy feeling on a boat or rollercoaster - but for around three in ten people it's much more severe, possibly leading to dizziness, nausea and vomiting. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR MICHAEL GRESTY, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING: "The reason that we can't understand these motions; the brain if you like can't understand these motions, is that there's continual conflict between what is upright and whether you should lean to balance yourself in the environment or whether you're actually experiencing a sideways acceleration force. During experiments, test subjects' vulnerability was first established on a motion simulator set to a frequency that is particularly nauseagenic. This was repeated with electrodes attached to their heads for about 10 minutes, a technique known as transcranial direct current stimulation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR QADEER ARSHAD (pron. Kad-ear Arsh-add), CLINICAL SCIENTIST AT CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL & LECTURER FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING: "When we used the test condition, we found that it took longer for the individual to develop motion sickness and that they also recovered faster." And, they say, it's completely safe... (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR MICHAEL GRESTY, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, SAYING: "For these very small amounts of electricity that you're putting through the brain there are no reported unwanted side effects or interactions." After more testing, the researchers say it could eventually lead to a consumer device such as a cap or headset, powered via the users' smart phone. A prospect which could have motion sickness sufferers spinning with delight.
VIDEO-UN Live United Nations Web TV - WHO - Press Conference Update on Ebola Situation (Geneva, 9 September 2015)
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:06
WHO - Press Conference Update on Ebola Situation (Geneva, 9 September 2015)
9 Sep 2015 - SUBJECT: WHO update on the Ebola situationSPEAKER: Dr Bruce Aylward, Special Representative of the Director-General for the Ebola Response
WHO - Press Conference Update on Ebola Situation (Geneva, 9 September 2015)
VIDEO-Turkish unrest kills nine | Reuters.com
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:01
Istanbul protesters clash with police during a solidarity march for the mostly Kurdish southeast, where at least nine people are killed in the latest outbreak of insurgent violence. Pavithra George reports.
TRANSCRIPT +
+++ RESENDING EDIT TO CORRECTLY DESCRIBE THE UNREST IN ISTANBUL AS A PROTEST, AND NOT AS THE SPREADING OF PKK-RELATED VIOLENCE +++ +++ PLEASE MAKE NO FURTHER USE OF THE OLDER VERSION OF THIS EDIT +++ Riot police in Istanbul charge at a crowd of about 200 protesters who had wanted to march in solidarity with residents of Cizre. That's the mostly Kurdish town where several were killed during earlier clashes, with tens of thousands there attending funerals for the victims. At least nine people were killed and several wounded in the latest outbreak of violence across Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast. Police fired tear gas and water cannons at small groups of angry residents in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region. Protesters here want an end to a curfew put in place in the city's central historic Sur district after clashes that left seven police officers wounded. Further east in Sirnak province, near the Iraq border, Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, killed two policeman in a car bomb attack, before escaping to this mountainous region. Turkish forces backed up by helicopters and commandoes shelled the area, killing six PKK militants. Hundreds of militants and more than 100 police and soldiers have died since a ceasefire collapsed in July, shattering a peace process launched in 2012.
VIDEO-New pot regulation bills head to California governor | Reuters.com
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:00
It's high time in California for the pot business to be regulated. And a new package of bills to do just that is now awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature. The package - approved on Friday by the legislature - would create a new state agency to oversee and license dispensaries. Activists say this is the best move for patients. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMY FARAH WEISS, ACTIVIST, SAYING: "When you have different products that are tested now at different labs you see that sometimes they come back wildly different results than what was stated on the packaging and so because this is a medicine we need to treat it as such and people need to know they're getting the right dosage and ratios when they buy a product." The bills would also set up new rules for growers and retailers to follow if they want to stay in the business.
VIDEO-Federal Authorities Reportedly Thwarted Security Threat Against Pope Francis
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 14:23
WASHINGTON -- As Pope Francis prepares to visit the United States later this month, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that federal authorities are highly concerned about possible security threats against the pope and have already ''disrupted one particular case.''
''The pope is a very '... passionate man. He likes to get out with the people and with that comes a large security risk. We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes into the United States,'' Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on ABC's ''This Week.'' ''We have disrupted one particular case in particular, but as that date approaches, I think we're all very, being very vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States.''
McCaul could not offer any details about the threat but said the Secret Service had briefed him about the Pope's security. The Secret Service, which is leading the security efforts surrounding the pontiff's visit, declined to elaborate on the case because the briefing was classified, ABC News reported.
Francis is set to arrive in the U.S. on Sept. 22, making stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia during his six-day visit. Each city should expect to seeheightened security measures, including airport-style screenings at his events. In addition, New York City law enforcement officials will impose a no-fly zone and a ban on drones.
Of particular concern is the Popemobile, which the Pope uses for motorcades, waving to spectators and onlookers along the way. The Popemobile, a Jeep Wrangler, is already in Secret Service possession and will not be used until Francis' visit, according to the Vatican.
In addition to meeting with worshippers, the Pope is also scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and address a joint session of Congress. In New York, he will address a session of the U.N. General Assembly and hold a Mass at Madison Square Garden.
VIDEO-ZDF - Islam - Effects on Germany - YouTube
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 14:23
VIDEO-Former Afghan PM Hamid Karzai says Al-Qaeda is a Myth : Information Clearing House - ICH
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 12:26
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VIDEO-New pot regulation bills head to California governor | Reuters.com
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:33
It's high time in California for the pot business to be regulated. And a new package of bills to do just that is now awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature. The package - approved on Friday by the legislature - would create a new state agency to oversee and license dispensaries. Activists say this is the best move for patients. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMY FARAH WEISS, ACTIVIST, SAYING: "When you have different products that are tested now at different labs you see that sometimes they come back wildly different results than what was stated on the packaging and so because this is a medicine we need to treat it as such and people need to know they're getting the right dosage and ratios when they buy a product." The bills would also set up new rules for growers and retailers to follow if they want to stay in the business.
VIDEO-Al Qaeda chief urges lone wolf attacks in U.S., West | Reuters.com
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:27
+++ RESENDING VIDEO AND SCRIPT TO RREP TO INCLUDE ACCESS ALL VIDEO +++ In a new audio message released online, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri calls on young Muslim men in the West to follow the example of other lone wolf-styled attackers .... ... like the Boston Marathon bombers and the men behind the Charlie Ebdo attacks in Paris. 'I call on all Muslims who can harm the countries of the crusader coalition not to hesitate,' he says, referring to countries that make up the Western-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. 'We must now focus on moving the war to the heart of the homes and cities of the crusader West and specifically America', he goes on to say. It's not clear when the recording was made. But because Al-Zawahri mentions the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar -- whose death was announced in late July -- the message could be at least two months old. In his latest message, Zawahri, a former Egyptian doctor -- seen here with Osama bin Laden in undated video -- also reiterated his position on Islamic State .... He said the group's claim to be a caliphate was illegitimate but that he would join them in fighting Western and secular forces in Iraq and Syria.
VIDEO-The Angry Arab News Service/ÙكاÙØ(C) Ø£Ù†Ø¨Ø§Ø Ø§Ùعربي اÙغاضب: Not in the US press: the Saudi spokesperson of GCC-US war crimes in Yemen is interrogated on Yemen war crimes
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:19
The Angry Arab News Service/ÙكاÙØ(C) Ø£Ù†Ø¨Ø§Ø Ø§Ùعربي اÙغاضب: Not in the US press: the Saudi spokesperson of GCC-US war crimes in Yemen is interrogated on Yemen war crimesNot in the US press: the Saudi spokesperson of GCC-US war crimes in Yemen is interrogated on Yemen war crimes
VIDEO-Austrian police expect 500 new migrant arrivals an hour | Reuters.com
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:17
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Austrian police said they are expecting around 500 migrants to arrive every hour on foot over the border from Hungary. Regional police spokesperson Helmut Marban said around 7,000 people had arrived on Saturday, but the the night was more relaxed, with just 50 people arriving at the Nickelsdorf border before 6 a.m. (0400GMT). He said provisions were in place to deal with new arrivals. Members of the Red Cross provided food, water and medical care to the migrants. A long line formed around the parking lot, as people waited to board buses to take them either to the capital Vienna, other parts of Austria or even on to Germany. Hungary plans to seal its southern frontier with a fence by September 15.
VIDEO-colour | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:13
Created by an anonymous useron October 16, 2013
Certainly it must be nothing concerning civics, modern civilization, or what civilized people should share with the world today.
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VIDEO-Vaping: The latest scourge in drug abuse - CNN.com
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 21:10
Story highlightsPeople are using vaporizer pens to discreetly get highOne town put a 6-month moratorium on new vape storesVaporizer pens are becoming the new way for drug users to not only get high, but do it discreetly -- at times right under the noses of police, parents and teachers.
And it is no local phenomenon. From big cities like St. Louis to small villages in upstate New York, these vape pens are popping up more frequently in drug busts, and the steady rise of abuse is alarming communities across the country.
E-cigarettes, or vape pens, have been around for more than a decade but have boomed in popularity recently because of marketing to nicotine users looking for a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Also fueling the trend is the accessibility of oil concentrates. A vape pen creates an inhalable vapor with a small inner coil that slowly heats, creating a vapor that is inhaled.
Water-soluble synthetics are easily converted into liquid concentrate that can go into the device cartridges and be vaped just like nicotine and other legal substances. It makes it nearly impossible to tell what is inside someone's vape. It could be nicotine, marijuana concentrate, or fruit-flavored, nicotine-free "e-liquid," popular among kids. Or worst of all, it could be a deadly concoction of chemicals, often a product of China, known as synthetic drugs.
"It's the concealment method; we don't know what is in a vape pen until we actually have it tested by a forensic laboratory," said Supervisory Special Agent John Scherbenske of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Summer surge of synthetic marijuana causes overdoses, crime
Vaping in the ERJust a few weeks ago in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Lt. Ozzy Tianga of the Broward Sheriff's Office arrested a man high getting on "flakka" with a vaporizer pen. Flakka is a deadly and cheap synthetic drug also known as "$5 insanity," and it's causing huge problems for law enforcement.
Days later, a man who'd been high on flakka was discharged from Fort Lauderdale's Holy Cross Hospital, only to go into the bathroom, vape more drugs and overdose again, said Dr. John Cunha, an emergency room physician there.
"I have had patients in my practice in the emergency room that I have walked in on that are actually vaping at the bedside," Cunha said. "...Someone could be sitting in their room in the emergency room and they could be vaping in between being seen by medical professionals, and we would have no idea what they are taking."
The scariest part is the rate at which it's trending.
Spending an afternoon in Deerfield Beach with Tianga, driving down a few miles of the main drag, Federal Highway, we passed at least a half-dozen vape shops and most of them still had temporary signs -- an indication they were brand new.
"Every time I drive, I see another store," Tianga said.
There are currently no federal minimum age or youth restrictions for e-cigarettes, according to the DEA, although most states and cities have passed laws banning the sale to minors.
One small town in upstate New York, Victor, even put a six-month moratorium on any new vaporizer stores after community outcry over the difference in federal laws regulating vape pens in comparison to cigarettes.
But the discretion of the device is the most common complaint among law enforcement, city officials, parents, teachers, and medical personnel.
Tianga said he often encounters people with vape pens, and he's left to wonder what's inside them, or what the user might be high on.
"These individuals can smoke it right in front of you. And many of times these vapes have no scent, or because they are a chemical substance the scent can be changed. It could be a fruit smell. It could be no smell at all," Tianga said. "An e-cigarette is not your traditional drug paraphernalia. So it's much more difficult for a law enforcement officer to establish probable cause to determine this is actually a device intended for the consumption of narcotics."
Deadly high: How synthetic drugs are killing kids
Hard to know who's vaping drugsIt only takes a quick search to find examples on social media of students bragging about getting high in class, in their bedrooms, discreetly with the help of vapes.
"Look on Instagram," said Barbara Carreno, spokeswoman for the DEA national headquarters in Washington. "You'll see many thousands of posts by young people, snickering about smoking it in class."
Gone are the days of getting caught smoking pot in school because you smelled like a skunk.
Among the most popular vaped synthetics, Scherbenske said, are the so-called "legal weeds" -- K2 and Spice, synthetic drugs that mimic other drugs in many ways, but can have severe side-effects, too.
"They sit in the back of the room, and they think it's funny," Tianga said. "They are vaping, and what they are vaping -- again -- I cannot determine. From the smell I cannot determine. I actually have to get the pen out of their hand and there is very few field test kits that will tell you exactly what they are vaping."
Tianga now travels around Broward County educating teachers, parents, residents, doctors and emergency response personnel about the dangers.
At a Deerfield Beach community forum, Tianga gave a chilling presentation that got audible reactions. Thirty-three people have died so far this year in Broward County from synthetic drug overdoses, with two more suspected deaths under investigation.
The mayor of Victor, the upstate New York town that temporarily banned them, said many of the concerns were about the number of teens using the devices.
"It's kind of like the Wild West of vaporing," Mayor Jason Ashton said. "There was no zoning or code laws in place to prevent or to say where that kind of store could go," "When the outcry started and I was getting phone calls daily, one idea floated out was the put a hold on it. Find out what we can and can't do. What this product really is. Does the outcry really demand this attention? It gives us time to mitigate the problem and do research. We've found that science hasn't kept up with the trend."
'The future of pot'It's a frightening combination -- both synthetics and vaporizers' gaining popularity -- each presenting new challenges to law enforcement used to dealing with the set rules of traditional drugs.
Rising usage of synthetics are being blamed for major spikes in murders in Washington, D.C.
But vape shop owners, several who tell us they never sell to anyone under 18, say the devices are helping people, not hurting them.
Carly Cromer, who manages Save on Vape in Deerfield Beach, said the goal isn't to attract people to start using nicotine.
"As an industry, it's to get people to quit smoking," Cromer said, noting that it's unfair to label the industry based on people who are abusing a product.
In Denver, where marijuana is legal, vape pen manufacturers say the ability to regulate intake with a concentrate inside a vape pen is essential for users who want to have more control over what they smoke.
Steve Berg, chief financial officer of O.Pen Vape, calls it "the future of pot."
The trend is too new for there to be data to crunch, to back up what police officers and emergency room doctors are seeing.
Email your story ideas and tips to CNNtips@cnn.com.
Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University, said there are methods of tracking almost every other type of ingestion, from smoking to shooting, to oral consumption.
"But not vaping," he said.
That's going to start changing, because it's trending upward, Hall said.
"We know that synthetics are being vaped. We know that kids are using synthetics," he said.
Some findings from studies touching on the subject are disturbing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April that e-cigarette usage among middle- and high-schoolers tripled between 2013 and 2014. Usage among high-schoolers was 13.4% last year.
Most telling, Hall said, is that some kids had never smoked before. They are new users.
Cunha predicts that by the time the research catches up, the problem will be too big to control.
"I think that these devices do have a role in helping people get off of actual cigarettes and that they may be proven safer in that case, but in the hands of teenagers and drug abusers, they are definitely a very dangerous thing to have," he said.
CNN's Patricia DiCarlo and Glen Dacy contributed to this report.
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