759: Geopolitical Chernobyl

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 36m
September 24th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Otaku

Associate Executive Producers: Baronettes Dame Bang Bang, Morgan. Alex Ten Hamsel, Jason Lane

Cover Artist: pewdiepie

Chapters

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Start of Show
Woodstock
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TODAY
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Slip #33
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We have been 'assigned' to some 'techno experts'
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Trailer Names:
Raptor
Surveyor
Prowler
Cougar
Cheyenne
Wolverine
Columbus
Hideout
Sabre
White hawk
Redwood
Pioneer
Komfort
Qwest
Durango
Cyclone
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Boulder (Estes park) guy vacuuming trees
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We've got a cold war in a warming planet?
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Clockboy
I have standing on muslim integration.
Pim Fortuyn
Milestones
Is clock boy the new balloon boy?
Earon
Email from dude named Mohammed
ITM!
As a native Arab speaker, who lives in the area, reads local and international new sources and No Agenda. I have few takes about the Irani deal.
I'll just summarize then in bullet points because you might actually find one single point worth deconstructing.
At this stage, Iran can only depend on Russia and China to buy most of it's technology. This includes shitty airplanes and arms.
Most Iranians are sick of the religious elite. But the elite are pushing them into a sectarian war to keep them all rallied behind the religious government.
The deal will lead to an increase of Irani oil Supply, and will further drive the price down to ridiculous levels.
The deal will negatively affect Dubai. since it's a major channel to get products and goods into Iran.
At this stage, Saudi and Irani are fighting a market share war and this is keeping prices down.
Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. and are trying to rebelize East Saudi, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Many businesses are set to be privatized in Iran. Perfect economic hitman moment.
Major US companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and Apple are drooling to reach an untapped new market.
Most tech companies are now cloud supported, selling physical products in Iran will mean that internet will be less restrictive.
Instead of fighting Iran from the outside, the plan is to break them from the inside using McDonalds and Starbucks.
In general, the deal is perfect for the US.
TYFYC!
A Dude Named Mohammed
Terror Trains
Email from producer at Thalys
Thalys employees getting a anti-terrorims training. Fun fact, spoke with Dutch and Belgium employees, they all read the news, but haven't heard anything from management about this training. I'm guessing it's an pr move.
http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/19/thalys-train-employees-practice-facing-terror-scenarios.html
Also, what would they expect an unarmed train manager (conductor) to do against an armed person?
And then this story
http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/09/thalys-terror-scare-youth-handed-over-to-immigration-officials/
Some kid without a ticket hiding in the bathroom, happens all the time.
The bathrooms are designed to be opened on the outside with a key. Normally you first deal with it yourself, ask the person to leave the bathroom, if not you open it and write them up. If you feel threatened, or the person is not cooperating, you call railway security. They follow a simular procedure, except it will be 4-6 guys with handcuffs and batons.
What did this kid do or say that made the response team to come out and put Rotterdam railway station on semi lock down for 3 hours?
I know the guy who was the chef on that train, he's assertive enough to deal with the situation and not panick.
Another rumor is that there was an undercover cop on the platform, saw the kid jump in last minute and called it in. He of course doesn't follow railway procedure and called his dispatch.
My guess is that they all got a hard on and came out full force.
Raw
What would you do if your school's Internet shut down? - Daily Genius
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:53
If you are not aware, ''A Dude Named Ben'' refers to the generic and often ignored systems administrators who work at/in organizations.
When the IRS lost all their emails, they claimed total ignorance, and had no idea who their tech people were. This video below is entertaining and can explain the origin or the term, but has very little bearing on this post.
Enough background! Let's get into it.
Every school has at least one ''Dude Named Ben''. I often find in times of crisis, such as massive hardware failures, Technology Directors and School Administrators do not know how to support the process and procedures needed to literally save critical technology infrastructure.
In many situations, the school administration and the head of technology do not have the professional experience required to deeply understand infrastructure, therefore, they avoid managing or being directly involved in situations related to critical infrastructure.
The fact is a good manager or leader can always help a person who is working on a tight timeline and is highly stressed, and often feeling totally isolated with the problem.
Here are some simple steps to take to assist any Dude Named Ben, without getting in the way.
Make the Timeline and TargetsUnless the situation is dangerous or hazardous, the first thing that should be done after the briefing is to set the timeline and targets. Many people want to just start working, this is not a good idea. People need to talk out problems. Most people relate well to time and urgency.
Start by asking what steps have to be taken to get the status quo back.Then ask what needs to be done to determine what caused the problem and prevent it from happening again.Then start inquiring how long each step should take, in a normal situation.Now there is a set of goals and a general understanding of how long it should take to complete them all. If time is actually lacking, then start asking the tough questions such as, ''Which of these steps could we skip, and be operation but not perfectly operational by our deadline?''
This is where leadership matters. This is where ownership of the consequence can shift, and the system administrator(s) can work and feel supported. There is always a chance of failure, and people working in fear are not going to work as well as someone who is being supported by leadership.
Also, this process builds confidence. When administrators take time to listen and understand, the barriers come down and an honest explanation and list of issues will surface.
Set Some Rules for HealthYes, I know how it sounds, but it is important. If you have a team that must pull a 12 hour plus shift, or work in some adverse conditions, then make a plan to keep people healthy. Provide food, drinks, and mandatory breaks. Set points where everyone steps away from the problem, reviews the targets and timeline and reflect on the work. This is a great time to make adjustments and reconsider some priorities.
A manager or leader can control and manage all of these things for the team that is handling the problem(s). It is one less thing the team has to worry about, and they will appreciate it. Odds are, the problem will be more complex than it seemed initially. So having a team that is willing to go that extra mile without being asked will make all the difference.
This is an Opportunity, so Seize itWhen things break, and have to be rebuilt, it is an opportunity to make improvements.
It is critical to know why the failure happened, and to mandate that steps be taken toprevent it, not to fix it. Fixing can imply that the old system needs to be patched and kickstarted back to life, only to once again fail.
Seizing the opportunity could cost some more time, but the benefits often outweigh the loss of time. Identify those who will suffer the most for the lack of the resource(s). Explain the problem, and that the idea is not to fix but to expand and improve. Use the word opportunity often, and get the stakeholders to agree.
Your Dude Named Ben is a person. Remember that. If you can form and manage teams, you can help in times of crisis. Trust me, it is not fun being that guy -sitting alone- and knowing everyone is waiting for you to pull-off a miracle.
More from Tony at TonyDePrato.com
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Kurds: Refugee tripped by Hungarian camerawoman is former Nusra militant | Al Bawaba
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:51
Osama Abdul Mohsen (center), poses with his sons and two welcomers at Atocha train station in Madrid, September 17, 2015. (AFP/File)
Follow >,,,,,,,,,,,Hungarian video journalist Petra Laszlo of Hungary's N1TV station was fired after tripping a fleeing Syrian migrant father and son as they fled from police this month, but Kurdish media claimed on Sunday night that she may have been stopping a Nusra militant from infiltrating the country.
Laszlo was filming police attempting to control hundreds of migrants - among them Syrian refugees - at the R¶szke collection point in southern Hungary, which was set up to deal with the thousands of migrants pouring into the country daily.
She was caught on film deliberately tripping a father carrying his young son as he ran away from police, and also reportedly kicked a young girl during the incident. Adding to the international outcry after the event was the fact that her station is associated with the far-right racist Jobbik party.
However, the Kurdish Rudaw reported late Sunday night that Osama Abdul Mohsen - the refugee tripped by Laszlo - was in fact a member of the radical Nusra Front, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in April of 2013 and was later blacklisted by the UN as a terrorist organization.
The report cited the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish opposition party in Syria, as making the revelation on Saturday.
After being tripped on the Hungarian border with Serbia, the report notes Abdul Mohsen later arrived in Spain where he was offered a job with the famous Real Madrid soccer club. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was among those welcoming him.
"However, the Kurdish group PYD alleged in its official media that Abdul Mohsen had fought alongside the Nusra Front before leaving Syria with his family in the spring of 2015," read the report.
In a ironic twist given the Real Madrid welcome, PYD also said Abdul Mohsen "was involved in the violent suppression of Kurdish riots in the city of Qamishlo in 2004 following a football match were (sic) more than 50 Kurds were killed by the Syrian security forces."
The alleged Nusra Front militant served as coach of the al-Fatwa soccer club in Deir Ez Zor between the years of 2004 and 2010, reports Rudaw.
According to PYD, Abdul Mohsen in fact instigated the violence after the soccer game between al-Fatwa and the Jihad soccer club of Qamishlo.
PYD also shared a photo of Abdul Mohsen in which he identified as a Nusra Front militant and admitted to fighting against Kurdish forces near Amudeh, Serekaniye and Afrin. The picture was said to be taken from his Facebook page before it was closed earlier this year.
This article has been modified from the source material.
The Constitution and the Inauguration of the President
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 07:18
In order to ensure a smooth transition of power, there is a need for a period of time between the election and and the swearing in of the new period. New presidents have to choose cabinet members and other key administration members, as well as get up to speed on security issues and simply began the task of physically moving a new team to Washington. For the old president, this time in office is referred to as "the lame duck" period, a term taken from Wall Street that used to refer to people who could not pay off their loans--persons, like the lame duck president, without much capital.Before the enactement of the 20th Amendment in 1933, the new president was not sworn until the March following the election. This long delay caused problems. In the "secession winter" after the election of Abraham Lincoln, President James Buchanan watched as secessionists seized federal forts and arsenals. By March 1861, when Lincoln finally took office, the Civil War was nearly lost before it even began. Seven decades later, in the middle of the Great Depression, the lame duck period of president Herbert Hoover seemed far too long. Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt barely communicated and the country waited for decisive action from its newly chosen leader. In response, the 20th Amendment was proposed and adopted.
The 20th Amendment moves the date of inauguration from March to "noon on the 20th day of January." Under the Constitution, the old president continues to hold full power through 11:59:59, and then power shifts at noon. Article II, Section 1 requires that the new president, before executing any duties, take a prescribed oath or affirmation. To avoid a constitutional power vacuum, the Inauguration Day program is certain to schedule the swearing in for as close as possible to noon. The Chief Justice of the United States typically administers the oath, although the Constitution does not require that the oath be performed by the Chief Justice.
The oath specified in Article II does not include four words recited in all recent inaugurations: "So help me God." The first known use of the phrase "So help me God" in a presidential inauguration was by Chester Arthur, on September 22, 1881, following the death in office of President James Garfield. In 2008, atheist activist Michael Newdow unsuccessfully sued in federal court to block the use of the phrase "So help me God" in Barack Obama's inauguration.
On three occasions, presidents (Arthur, Coolidge, and Obama) have re-taken oaths after questions were raised about first attempts. The most recent do-over occurred in 2009 after Chief Justice Roberts got the oath's words out of order in the public inauguration ceremony.
AMENDMENT XX
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933. Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.
Section 1.The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2.The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day....
George Washington taking the oath of office on April 30, 1789
Article. II.
Section. 1. Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Calls Intensify for More Debates on the Democratic Side - First Draft. Political News, Now. - The New York Times
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 07:09
PhotoFormer Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland called for additional debates at the Democratic National Committee's meeting last week in Minneapolis.Credit Adam Bettcher/Getty Images North AmericaMartin O'Malley's call for more Democratic presidential debates at the party's summer meeting last week may have been the loudest, but it was neither the first nor the last.
A growing number of party activists, from New Hampshire to Iowa, are voicing concern about the Democratic National Committee's plan to hold six debates over all, with only four coming before the first four states finish voting. The party fears a lower number will of debates will diminish its ability to drive the discussion as the Republican contest, led by Donald J. Trump, dominates the news, and that a flabby process will leave the ultimate nominee unprepared for the general election.
The timing of the New Hampshire debate, sandwiched between the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, has particularly rankled activists in the state, who have openly protested the decision.
Martha Fuller Clark, a state senator in New Hampshire who is not yet backing a candidate, said that she approached the party chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, at the meeting in Minnesota last week and expressed her disappointment.
''She seemed unwilling to consider a revision of the schedule,'' Ms. Fuller Clark said. ''She just said that whatever schedule she put out, people would be unhappy with.''
''If there isn't an opportunity for lots of debates and consideration, it's just really, I think, making it much more difficult'' for the candidates to reach voters before the voting begins, she said.
Many activists have argued that the decision to abbreviate the debate schedule was done to benefit Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner in most polls for the nomination.
Former State Senator Burt Cohen, who is supporting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, accused Ms. Wasserman Schultz of ''putting her finger on the scale'' to help Mrs. Clinton.
''Debbie Wasserman Schultz has to schedule more debates and do it with more sensitivity to the primary schedule,'' he said, adding that if she did not, she should consider leaving her post, a comment he later tried to play down, saying it was premature to suggest such a thing.
A spokeswoman for the national party declined to comment. But party officials have insisted they were trying to bring as much voter interaction through forums and other means as possible, and suggested they began looking toward the Republican Party's efforts to control its own debate process as far back as January. Ms. Wasserman Schultz has strenuously objected in private conversations to claims she tried to help Mrs. Clinton.
Still, in past cycles, there were many more debates, including unsanctioned debates, and they began earlier. But in 2004 and 2008, there were no penalties for taking part in the unsanctioned debates, which made up the majority of them in those years. This cycle, David Mercer, a former party official, noted, candidates who take part in unsanctioned debates risk being barred from the official forums.
Some Democratic activists point out that all of the Republican candidates, including those complaining now, agreed to the sanctions that were ultimately put in place.
Still, during the spring of negotiations between the party committee and the campaigns, the Clinton campaign had pushed for a lower number on the debate spectrum, while Mr. O'Malley's campaign had called for many more.
When Mr. O'Malley, the former Maryland governor who has been struggling to gain traction in the polls, but trying to position himself as the best alternative to Mrs. Clinton, used his speech at the summer meeting to condemn the party, he was met with cheers. Many high-ranking party activists have privately shared their concerns over the debate schedule, complaining that the criticisms risk getting amplified on places like MSNBC's ''Morning Joe'' program.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton declined to comment. But even some of her supporters are encouraging a change in the schedule.
''I'm very supportive of the more the merrier in terms of debate,'' said State Senator Lou D'Allesandro of New Hampshire, a Clinton supporter. ''It's a stage that's ready-made for her. Why limit anything in this business? That's not the American way.''
Sandy Opstvedt, an uncommitted party committee member from Iowa, said she also wants to make her voice heard to Ms. Wasserman Schultz.
''I think the debates actually help the candidates, and they just become more adept at debating,'' said Mrs. Opstvedt, who, like Mr. O'Malley, described it as an opportunity to showcase the party's ideas.
Donna Brazile, a national party vice chairwoman, said that she could understand the perspective from both sides.
But she also noted that there's the possibility of another candidate joining the race: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
His presence ''might turn all of this upside-down,'' she said. ''Starting out with six is productive, but it could grow.''
Hillary Clinton President Health Scare '-- Candidate Is Hiding Multiple Sclerosis And A Series Of Strokes, Report Claims | Radar Online
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:51
In a bombshell exclusive, The National ENQUIRER reported the 67-year-old Democratic front-runner is suffering from the early stages of the debilitating disease MS. A political insider close to her and husband Bill told The ENQUIRER. "She's been working with her staff to keep the medical drama under wraps, and she's doing her best to deal with it."
What is the difference between Jackson Hole and Jackson, WY? | United States Forum | Fodor's Travel Talk Forums
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:44
I'm really confused about these 2 towns -- Jackson Hole and Jackson, WY. How are they related to each other? Which one is the airport? Our flight is going to Jackson, WY. Which one is the downtown/sightseeing place? Where should we stay? Know any nice campground in the city?Thanks!
WATCH: Pope Francis Stops His Motorcade to Bless Daughter of Immigrants | Sojourners
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:24
Jesus said, ''Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.''
Pope Francis paraded through Washington D.C., on Sept. 23, and took Jesus' words literally.
After Francis' security detachment turned away a young girl who had gotten over the barricade fence to greet him, he quickly called her over for a blessing.
According to a local news station in Los Angeles, 5-year-old Sofi Cruz was urging the pope to support immigration reform. NBC4 reports:
In an interview with NBC4 before the trip, Sofi said she wanted Pope Francis to speak personally to President Barack Obama about legalizing all immigrants. Her parents are immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico, Sofi said.
She didn't get a chance to say anything to the Pope, but told Telemundo that she was happy to meet him and give him a yellow shirt. The shirt included the message, "Papa Rescate DAPA" -- Pope Rescue DAPA, which stands for deferred action for parents of Americans.
WATCH:
MILESTONES-Ma'alim fi al-Tariq - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:48
Ma'alim fi al-Tariq, also Ma'alim fi'l-tareeq, (Arabic: معاÙم في اÙطريق) or Milestones, first published in 1964, is a short (12 chapters, 160 pages) book by EgyptianIslamist author Sayyid Qutb in which he lays out a plan and makes a call to action to re-create the Muslim world on strictly Quranic grounds, casting off what Qutb calls Jahiliyyah.
Ma'alim fi al-Tariq has been called "one of the most influential works in Arabic of the last half century".[1] It is probably Qutb's most famous and influential work and one of the most influential Islamist tracts written. It has also become a manifesto for the ideology of "Qutbism". Commentators have both praised Milestones as a ground-breaking, inspirational work by a hero and a martyr,[2] and reviled it as a prime example of unreasoning entitlement, self-pity, paranoia, and hatred that has been a major influence on Islamist terrorism.[3]
English translations of the book are usually entitled simply "Milestones", the book is also sometimes referred to as "Signposts". The title Ma'alim fi al-Tariq translates into English as "Milestones Along the Way", "Signposts on the Road", or different combinations thereof.
History[edit]Ma'alim fi al-Tariq marked the culmination of Qutb's evolution from modernist author and critic, to Islamist activist and writer, and finally to Islamist revolutionary and theoretician. It was written in prison, where Qutb spent 10 years under charges of political conspiracy against Egypt's Nasser regime, and first published in 1964. Four of its thirteen chapters were originally written for Qutb's voluminous Quranic commentary, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an (In the shades of the Qur'an).[4]
Less than a year after its publication, Qutb was again arrested and brought to trial in Egypt under charges of conspiring against the state. Excerpts from the book were used to incriminate Qutb and he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging in 1966.[5] His death elevated his status to Shaheed or martyr in the eyes of many Muslims. Milestones became a bestseller and widely distributed across the Arab speaking world. To date, close to 2,000 editions of the work are said to have been published.[6]
Contents[edit]In his book, Qutb seeks to set out "milestones" or guiding markers along a road that will lead to the revival of Islam from its current "extinction."
Sharia[edit]According to Qutb, the Muslim community has been "extinct for a few centuries" and reverted to Jahiliyyah ("The state of ignorance of the guidance from God") because those who call themselves Muslims have failed to follow "the laws of God" or Sharia (also shariah, Shari'a, or Shari'ah), traditional Islamic law. Following the sharia is not just important but a defining attribute of Muslims, more necessary than belief itself, because "according to the Shari'ah, 'to obey' is 'to worship'." This means Muslims must not only refrain from worshipping anything other than God, they must not obey anything other than God: "anyone who serves someone other than God"'--be that someone (or something) a priest, president, a parliament, or a legal statute of a secular state'-- is "outside God's religion", although he may "claim to profess this religion".
Qutb sees sharia as much more than a code of religious or public laws. It is a "complete" way of life based on "submission to God alone," crowding out anything non-Islamic. Its rules range from "belief" to "administration and justice" to "principles of art and science." Being God's law, sharia is "as accurate and true as any of the laws known as the 'laws of nature,'" such as gravity or electricity, and part of the universal law "which governs the entire universe".
The modern Muslim world has errored by approaching the Qur'an for the sake of "discussion, learning and information" or "to solve some scientific or legal problem." In fact it should be approached as a source of "instruction for obedience and action" to remove man from the servitude of other men and to the servitude of God.
When of God's law is established on earth, it will lead to blessings falling on all mankind. Sharia is "the only guarantee" against "any kind of discord" in life. and will "automatically" bring "peace and cooperation" among individuals. Knowledge of the "secrets of nature, its hidden forces and the treasures concealed in the expanses of the universe," will be revealed "in an easy manner." The "harmony between human life and the universe" of sharia law will approach the perfection of heaven itself.
Just as sharia is'--in Qutb's view'--all encompassing and all wonderful, whatever is non-Muslim (or Jahiliyyah) is "evil and corrupt," and its existence anywhere intolerable to true Muslims. "Islam cannot accept or agree to a situation which is half-Islam and half-Jahiliyyah ... The mixing and co-existence of the truth and falsehood is impossible." "We will not change our own values and concepts either more or less to make a bargain with this jahili society. Never!" In preaching and promoting Islam, for example, it is very important not to demean Islam by "searching for resemblances" between Islam and the "filth" and "the rubbish heap of the West."
According to Qutb, to ignore this fact and attempt to introduce elements of socialism or nationalism into Islam or the Muslim community (as Egypt's Arab Socialist Union government was doing at the time), is against Islam. Qutb stresses that in the early days of Islam, Muhammad did not make appeals to ethnic or class loyalty. Though these crowd-pleasing appeals would have undoubtedly shortened the thirteen years of hardship Muhammad had to endure while calling unresponsive Arabs to Islam, "God did not lead His Prophet on this course. ... This was not the way," and so must not be the way now.
Islamic vanguard[edit]To restore Islam on earth and free Muslims from "jahili society, jahili concepts, jahili traditions and jahili leadership," Qutb preaches that a vanguard (tali'a) be formed modeling itself after the original Muslims, the companions (Sahaba) of Muhammad. Qutb believes these Muslims successfully vanquished Jahiliyyah principally in two ways:
They cut themselves off from the Jahiliyyah'--i.e. they ignored the learning and culture of non-Muslim groups (Greeks, Romans, Persians, Christians or Jews), and separated themselves from their old non-Muslim friends and family.They looked to the Qur'an for orders to obey, not as "learning and information" or solutions to problems.Following these principles the vanguard will fight Jahiliyyah with a twofold approach: preaching, and "the movement" (jama'at). Preaching will persuade people to become true Muslims, while the movement will abolish "the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system" by "physical power and Jihaad". Foremost amongst these organizations and people to be removed is the "political power" which rests on a complex, "interrelated ideological, racial, class, social and economic support," but ultimately includes "the whole human environment." Force is necessary, Qutb explains, because it is naive to expect "those who have usurped the authority of God" to give up their power without a fight.
Remaining aloof from Jahiliyyah and its values and culture, but preaching and forcibly abolishing authority within it, the vanguard will travel the road, gradually growing from a cell of "three individuals" to ten, from ten to a hundred, until there are thousands, and blossom into a truly Islamic community. The community may start in the homeland of Islam but this is by no means "the ultimate objective of the Islamic movement of Jihad." Jihad must not merely be defensive, it must be offensive, and its objective must be to carry Islam "throughout the earth to the whole of mankind."
True Muslims should maintain a "sense of supremacy" and "superiority," on the road of renewal, but it is important that they also prepare themselves for a "life until death in poverty, difficulty, frustration, torment and sacrifice", and even to brace themselves for possibility of death by torture at the hands of Jahiliyyah's sadistic, arrogant, mischievous, criminal and degraded people. Qutb ends his book by an example of persecution against Muslims from the Quran's "surat Al-Burooj", enjoining modern-day Muslims to endure the same or worse tortures for the sake of carrying out God's will. After all, "this world is not a place of reward"; the believer's reward is in heaven.
Influences[edit]Islamic[edit]Two of Qutb's major influences were the medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiya, and contemporary Pakistani Islamist writer Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. Both used the historical term jahiliyya to describe contemporary events in the Muslim world.[33]
Two other concepts popularized by Qutb in Milestones also came from Maududi:
al-'ubudiyya, or worship, (which is performed not only by praying and adoring but by obeying); andal-hakimiyya, or sovereignty, (which is God's over all the earth and violated when His law, the sharia, is not obeyed).[34]Qutb's precept'--that sharia law is essential to Islam. and that any self-described "Muslim" ruler who ignores it in favor of man-made laws is actually a non-Muslim who should be fought and overthrown'--came from a fatwa of Ibn Taymiya.[35]
Non-Islamic[edit]Qutb's intense dislike of the West notwithstanding, some of his ideas have been compared to European fascism:[36][37][38][39]
the decline of contemporary Western civilization and "infertility" of democracy;inspiration from an earlier golden age and desire to restore its glory with an all-encompassing (totalitarian) social, political, economic system;belief in malice of foreign and Jewish conspiracies; andviolent revolution to expel alien influences and to reestablish the power and international supremacy of the nation/community;[40]although it differs from that ideology in being based on religion and not on race or ethnicity. Fascism having made some impact among anti-British Arab Muslims before, during, and after World War II.[41] The influence of particular fascist thinkers (particularly French fascist Alexis Carrel) in Qutb's work is disputed.[42] Though these claims can be dis-proven, Qutb believed in the Social Justice and redistributive economics of Islam and wished to see this equality prevail once again hence his adhering to the Islamic Society, also his dislike of the Jews was not about race as was the case with the Nazis, rather a feeling that they were indeed plotting from the minute of Islam's conception to destroy the Muslim Ummah and finally Qutb does state that neither democracy nor dictatorship work as he believes in a society freed from the authority of man whether it be through democratic or undemocratic processes .
The centrality of an Islamic 'vanguard' (Arabic: tali'a) in Qutb's political program also suggests influence from Leninist thinking.[43]
Criticism[edit]Qutb's book was originally a bestseller and became more popular as the Islamic revival strengthened. Islamists have hailed him as "a matchless writer, ... one of the greatest thinkers of contemporary Islamic thought,"[44] and compared to Western political philosopher John Locke.[45] Egyptian intellectual Tariq al-Bishri has compared the influence of Milestones to Vladimir Lenin's pamphlet What Is To Be Done?, where the founder of modern Communism outlined his theories of how Communism would be different from socialism.[4] Author Gilles Kepel credits Milestones with "unmasking" the socialist and "nominally" Islamic "faces" of the Egyptian regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser Qutb lived under.[46]
Outside the Islamist context, however, Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq has been criticized by Muslims for the takfir of "jahili" Muslims, and by non-Muslims for its accusations against same, particularly following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Takfir[edit]The claim that the entire world was jahiliyya meant that mainstream Muslims were not actually Muslims, which meant they were potentially guilty of apostasy, a capital crime in traditional sharia. Critics allege that Qutb's Milestones helped to open up a Pandora's box of takfir (declaring a Muslim to be an infidel) that has brought serious internal strife, in particular terrorism, to the Muslim world in recent decades.[47][48]
Christians and Jews as Polytheists[edit]Qutb repeatedly proclaims that "serving human lords" is intolerable and is a practice Islam "has come to annihilate." Christians and Jews are guilty of it since, according to Qutb, they give priests and rabbis "the authority to make laws" and "it is clear that obedience to laws and judgments is a sort of worship." Because of this, Qutb says, these religions are actually polytheist, not monotheist. According to at least one source, Qutb helped reverse the historical trend towards tolerance and equality for minority `people of the book` in the Muslim world.[49]
Western and Jewish Conspiracies[edit]Qutb asserted that "World Jewry" was and is engaged in conspiracies whose "purpose" is:
to eliminate all limitations, especially the limitations imposed by faith and religion, so that Jews may penetrate into body politics of the whole world and then may be free to perpetuate their evil designs. At the top of the list of these activities is usury, the aim of which is that all the wealth of mankind end up in the hands of Jewish financial institutions which run on interest.
He also alleged that the West had a centuries-long "enmity toward Islam" which led it to create a "well-thought-out scheme ... to demolish the structure of Muslim society." At the same time, "the Western world realizes that Western civilization is unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind," and "the American people blush" with shame when confronted with the "immoralities" and "vulgarity" of their own country in comparison with the superiority of Islam's "logic, beauty, humanity and happiness".
Olivier Roy has described Qutb's attitude as one of "radical contempt and hatred" for the West,[52] and complains that the propensity of Muslims like Qutb to blame problems on outside conspiracies "is currently paralyzing Muslim political thought. For to say that every failure is the devil's work is the same as asking God, or the devil himself (which is to say these days the Americans), to solve one's problems."[53]
Milestones and Islam[edit]Other questions involve Qutb's ideas of sharia and freedom.
Sharia[edit]Qutb's ideology is premised upon sharia law and its application to every aspect of life. He does not explain or illustrate how any specific statutes are better or different from man-made law '-- evidence to support assertions in Ma'alim fi al-Tariq is limited to scriptural quotations '-- but does assure readers sharia is "without doubt ... perfect in the highest degree", and will free humanity from servitude to other men.
Some, such as scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl, have questioned Qutb's understanding of sharia, and his assumptions that sharia is not only perfect but accessible to mortals in its completeness.[55] While Islamic scholars of sharia traditionally have two decade-long training from schools such as Al Azhar, all Qutb's formal post-secondary schooling was secular.[56]
Qutb's assertion that the Qur'an should be approached as a source of "instruction for obedience and action" (following the fundamentalist prescription that "the Quran is our law,"[57][58][59]) comes under modernist criticism that of 6000 verses in the Quran only 245 concern legislation, and only 90 of those concern constitutional, civil, financial or economic matters.[60] Qutb's general assertion that the sharia is all-encompassing '-- a "complete way of life" with rules on everything from "administration and justice" to "principles of art and science" '-- is challenged by the Modernist claim that sharia law (as revealed to man) is notably short on solutions to modern problems such as traffic control, price stability, or health care.[61]
Freedom[edit]Qutb explains that sharia law needs no human authorities for citizens to obey and thus frees humanity from "servitude" because
God's law has "no vagueness or looseness" which would necessitate judges to settle disputes over interpretation, andno need for enforcement authorities because "as soon as a command is given, the heads are bowed, and nothing more is required for implementation (of sharia) except to hear it."This uniquely free socioeconomic system not only frees Muslims to be true Muslims, but explains why offensive jihad to "establish the sovereignty of God", i.e. true Islam, "throughout the world" would not constitute aggression towards non-Muslims but rather "a movement to wipe out tyranny" and to introduce "true freedom" to mankind, since even the most contented and patriotic non-Muslim living in a non-Muslim state is still obeying a human authority. These non-Muslims must be freed by Islamic jihad, just as the non-Muslims of Persia or Byzantium were freed by invading Muslim armies in the 7th Century AD.
The problem alleged here[64] is that while true Muslims who believe in sharia law might in theory obey it without any state or police to enforce it, non-Muslims would have no such incentive, since by definition they do not consider Islamic law to be divine. However, if obedience were not voluntary, offensive jihad would lose its rationale as a movement to wipe out tyranny.
Qutb's political philosophy has been described as an attempt to instantiate a complex and multilayer eschatological vision, partly grounded in the counter-hegemonic re-articulation of the traditional ideal of academic jargon.[65]
^The Age of Sacred Terror by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, New York : Random House, c2002, p.63^Moussalli, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, 1992, 14-15^What has been the impact of Milestones?^ abKepel, Prophet, (1986), p.43^Qutb was executed despite the fact that he was not the instigator or leader of the plot to assassinate the President and other Egyptian officials and personalities, only the leader of the group planning it. (Sivan, Emmanuel, Radical Islam : Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, Yale University, 1985, p.93.;(Fouad Ajami, "In the Pharaoh's Shadow: Religion and Authority in Egypt," Islam in the Political Process, editor James P. Piscatori, Cambridge University Press, 1983, p. 25-26.)^Lisbeth Lindeborg, Dagens Nyheter, (Stockholm, Sweden), Oct. 25, 2001.^Although the photo is from other sources, it is identified on the BBC Documentary ''[[The Power of Nightmares]]'' as being the only known photo of Qutb at his trial immediately preceding his execution.^Sivan, Radical Islam, p.65, 128; Kepel, Muslim, p.194^Two terms Qutb uses: al-'ubudiyya, or `worship` and al-hakimiyya (also al-`uluhiya), `sovereignty,` appear in The Four Key Concepts of the Qur'an by Abul-a'la Mawdudi. (Kepel, Proph¨t p. 48.)^Sivan, Radical Islam, p.97-8.^Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism^Abou El Fadl, Khaled (2005). The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. Harper San Francisco. pp. 82''3. In Milestones he [Qutb] attempted to offer a description of the genuine Islamic society and the true Islamic faith, but in reality, Qutb's book did nothing more than attempt to add an Islamic veneer to a thoroughly fascist ideological construct.... Qutb provided a more detailed vision of the idealistic and utopian Islamic state. In this regard, Qutb, unlike Abd al-Wahhab, was influenced by Western thinkers, particularly the German fascist philosopher Carl Schmitt. Although Qutb does not once mention Schmidt in his works, a careful reading of Milestones on the Road reveals that many of Qutb's ideas, constructs and phrases are clearly adapted from the works of Schmidt. ^(quoted in The Great Theft) Enemy in the Mirror: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1999. p. 199. ^(quoted in The Great Theft) Al-Azmeh, Aziz (1996). Islam and Modernites. London: Verso Press. pp. 77''101. ^Berman, Terror and Liberalism (2003) p.60+^example: Opinion piece by Jack Bloom in The Sowetan (Johannesburg), October 2, 2001,^See Discussion section.Aziz Al-Azmeh, Islam and Modernites, London, Verso Press, 1996 p. 77-101.)Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, Verso, 2002, p.274^edited by John Arquilla, Douglas A. Borer (2007). Information Strategy and Warfare: A Guide to Theory and Practice. Routledge. ISBN 9781135984151. Although for obvious reason jihadi ideologues do not cite Lenin as an inspiration, their concepts and logic, especially Sayyid Qutb's betray this influence. Having been educated in Egypt in the 1940s, Qutb would certainly have been exposed to Lenin's writings. To key concepts from Qutb come straight from Lenin: jama'a (vanguard) and manhaj (program). ^Ahmad S. Moussalli, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: the Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb, by American University of Beirut, 1992, p.14-15^"Syed Qutb - John Locke of the Islamic World," Muqtedar Khan, The Globalist, July 28, 2003^Kepel, Prophet, (1986), p.52^Kepel, Prophet, (1986), p.65, 74-5, Cook, David, Understanding Jihad, University of California Press, 2005, p.139^Toth, James (2013). Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199790968. ... the intolerance of Qutb's followers in takfiring the slightest deviation from peity irritatied many Egyptians. ^Thompson, Elizabeth F. (2013-04-15). Justice Interrupted. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674076198. Qutb also challenged establishment Islam, which viewed jihad as primarily defensive and which preached tolerance toward Jews, Christians, and other `people of the book.` Milestones in effected reversed the historical trend toward equality among Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. It essentially restored the hierarchy of the premodern Ottoman era. ^Roy, Olivier, Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah, Columbia University Press, 2004, p. 250.^Roy, Olivier, The Failure of Political Islam, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.19-20^Abou El Fadl, Khaled, The Great Theft, Harper San Francisco, 2005, p.82^Gilles Kepel, Le Proph¨te et Pharaon : aux sources des mouvements islamistes Seuil, 1993, p. 58.^Muslim Brotherhood^Constitution of Saudi Arabia "The Quran is supposed to be the supreme law of the land ..."^King Faisal of Saudi Arabia speaking in 1966 about whether the KSA would adopt a constitution: "Constitution? What for? The Koran is the oldest and most efficient constitution in the world." from: Political Power and the Saudi State by Ghassane Salameh footnote page 7, which in turn is from Le Monde, June 24, 1966^"Islam - Society and Change" by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi from Voices of Resurgent Islam, ed. John L. Esposito, (1983), p.233^Schirazi, Asghar, Constitution of Iran, I. B. Tauris, 1998^Sayyid Qutb's Milestones and equality^Mura, Andrea (2014). "The Inclusive Dynamics of Islamic Universalism: From the Vantage Point of Sayyid Qutb's Critical Philosophy". Comparative Philosophy. Retrieved 2015-05-12. References[edit]Berman, Paul (2003). Terror and Liberalism. W.W. Norton. Haddad, Yvonne Y. (1983). "Sayyid Qutb: ideologue of Islamic revival". In Esposito, J. Voices of the Islamic Revolution. Hasan, S. Badrul (1982). Syed Qutb Shaheed. International Islamic Publishers. Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad : the trail of political Islam. Jon Rothschild (trans.). Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-1-86064-253-1. Kepel, Gilles (1985). The Prophet and Pharaoh: Muslim Extremism in Egypt. Jon Rothschild (trans.). Al Saqi. ISBN 0-86356-118-7. Moussalli, Ahmad S. (1992). Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: the Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb. American University of Beirut. Mura, Andrea (2014). "The Inclusive Dynamics of Islamic Universalism: From the Vantage Point of Sayyid Qutb's Critical Philosophy". Comparative Philosophy5 (1): 29''54. Qutb, Sayyid (1981). Milestones. The Mother Mosque Foundation. Qutb, Sayyid (2007). Milestones. Maktabah Publishers. Sivan, Emmanuel (1985). Radical Islam : Medieval Theology and Modern Politics. Yale University Press. External links[edit]
Muslims FURIOUS at This Texas Mayor After She STOPPED Their 'Sharia Court' '' See Her EPIC Response | Top Right News
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:34
byGina Cassini |Top Right News
What would you do if you found out that Muslims were operating a Sharia court in your town '-- or, more importantly, what would your elected officials do?
One Texas mayor took action, and Muslims are furious..
As Top Right News reported, back in January, an Islamic Tribunal was established in Irving, Texas.
Although the Muslim so-called ''judges'' claim this is just for religious disputes and marital issues, it has created plenty of outrage '-- not just in Texas, but nationwide.
That's when the Mayor of Irving, Beth Van Duyne, made her stand. She posted on Facebook denouncing illegal entities that try to act outside the Constitution. Including Sharia ''law''.
Muslim leaders went nuts. Van Duyne came under fire for being ''anti-Islamic'' when she spoke against the Shariah Law tribunal, which was never approved by the City Council.''It fuels anti-Islamic hysteria,'' Zia Sheikh, imam at the Islamic Center of Irving, told the Dallas Morning News.
The Mayor was even attacked by the Dallas Morning News as ''Islamophobic.''
Van Duyne would not back down. In fact she DOUBLED down.
She proposed, and the city of Irving just passed a law that says no foreign or Sharia laws will be given merit. This means that only the laws of the United States will be followed and adhered to in the city of Irving.
WATCH video of the contentious meeting where Van Duyne stood up to dozens of angry Muslims:
Although not specifically named this means that the practice of any foreign laws within the city of Irving are prohibited.
Muslims don't like this because this means their Sharia Tribunal is illegal, and they feel that it is an affront on their religion.
This is the United States and the Constitution is the only law of the land. No one gets to come up and say that they want to follow their own special laws.
The line has been drawn for sure in Texas. We salute Mayor Van Duyne for her courage under fire.
Clockmaker Ahmed Mohamed's sister was once suspended from school for threatening to blow it up
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 04:22
''I got suspended from school for three days from this stupid same district, from this girl saying I wanted to blow up the school, something I had nothing to do with'...I got suspended and I didn't do anything about it and so when I heard about Ahmed, I was so mad because it happened to me and I didn't get to stand up.''
She had nothing to do with the threat and yet did nothing about being suspended? Where were her parents? If I had a child in school who was suspended over a false accusation, I'd be at the principal's office in a matter of minutes. And would the school really suspend her on a hearsay accusation from one other girl '-- even in what The Daily Beast hysterically calls ''a hotbed of Islamophobia''? It is unlikely, given the risk of complaints and even litigation from the parents, that they would have taken such a step without substantial evidence.
And so the plot thickens further. Why didn't Ahmed's father exploit this accusation in his ongoing quest to fight ''Islamophobia''? Could it be because the accusation was true?
'''Man, I Went Viral': My Day With Ahmed Mohamed, the Most Famous Boy on Earth,'' by Randy R. Potts, Daily Beast, September 17, 2015 (thanks to all who sent this in):
'...After the MSNBC segment, Eyman and I sit down in the hallway where she says the same thing happened to her as Ahmed.
''I got suspended from school for three days from this stupid same district, from this girl saying I wanted to blow up the school, something I had nothing to do with.''
Eyman talks with the slightest lisp, almost imperceptible, but it becomes stronger as she gets emotional.
''I got suspended and I didn't do anything about it and so when I heard about Ahmed, I was so mad because it happened to me and I didn't get to stand up, so I'm making sure he's standing up because it's not right. So I'm not jealous, I'm kinda like'--it's like he's standing for me.''
Eyman said her suspension was in her first year of middle school, ''my first year of attempting middle school in America. I knew English, but the culture was different, the people were different.''
This part of Texas is a hotbed of Islamophobia. Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne in March claimed Muslim clergy were ''bypassing American courts'' by offering to mediate disputes between worshippers according to Islamic law. Residents of Farmersville last month fought against creation of a Muslim cemetery in their town. Garland was the site of a ''draw Muhammad'' contest hosted by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller that was subsequently attacked by two gunmen inspired by ISIS'....
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Arielle Zuckerberg, Zuck's Youngest Sister, Is Joining Kleiner Perkins | TechCrunch
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:51
Arielle Zuckerberg, the youngest sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is joining Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers next month in a bid by the firm to inject youth and diversity into its line-up of partners.
TechCrunch understands from sources near the VC firm that Zuckerberg, a former Googler who is currently a product manager with phone management app firm Humin, will start her new role as associate partner for Kleiner Perkins on October 19. (Kleiner Perkins declined to comment when we contacted the company.) Our source tells us that the 26-year-old '-- the youngest of the four Zuckerberg siblings '-- is being brought on as ''personable'' partner to interface with and relate to early-stage startups for the firm's growth fund.
That's just one side of the new hire. Zuckerberg is one of three new arrivals aimed at bringing on younger and, most importantly, more diverse additions. Speaking on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco today, Kleiner Perkins general partner John Doerr announced two new partners '-- Swati Mylavarapu, formerly of Square, and Muzzammil Zaveri, formerly of Tencent '-- while hinting at another unnamed hire joining soon '-- that's Zuckerberg.
''I made it really clear even at Kleiner Perkins, where I'm deeply committed to diversity, we have done more and should do more to get to a 50/50 world where everyone can make a difference. We can be better,'' Doerr told interviewer Colleen Taylor.
Despite the potential to be overshadowed by big brother Mark Zuckerberg and elder sister Randi, Arielle has developed a reputation for being reluctant to cash in on her name and she appears acutely aware of diversity issues.
''I don't know how to solve men's problems'... and I think there's a lot of evidence that men don't know how to solve women's problems,'' she told the New York Post last year. ''It's not just women. Companies that don't have diverse employees are putting themselves at a disadvantage.''
Hiring a young female with a growing reputation is a major win for Kleiner Perkins, particularly given the company's high-profile court case with Ellen Pao, who filed a lawsuit accusing the firm of gender discrimination. Though the jury ruled against Pao on all four of her claims, the affair was hugely damaging for the reputation of the firm, which counts numerous other women among its ranks, including Mary Meeker and Beth Seidenberg.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has seemingly been in repair mode since. In June, it carved out $4 million for a new fund, dubbed KPCB Edge, in an effort to regain its status as a go-to venture capital firm for young entrepreneurs, including by bringing in three newer and younger employees: Anjney Midha, 23; Ruby Lee, 23; and Roneil Rumburg, 22.
But a reported deal to ''acquire'' Social+Capital to bolt on a fresher approach to venture investing fell apart earlier this year.
In July, speaking at a conference, Doerr went as far as saying of the venture industry more broadly: ''We collectively are pathetic on the issue. Six percent of venture capitalists are female'...that's just dumb.''
Gender and equality issues aren't the only areas where Kleiner Perkins has been challenged. The firm has struggled for the kind of success that rival firms' have enjoyed. For example, it jumped into investments like Twitter, Facebook and, reportedly, Snapchat, later than some of its longtime peers. Other investments, including Zynga and Quirky (which just filed for bankruptcy), have meanwhile produced disappointing results.
Washington Has Now Lost the Middle East | New Eastern Outlook
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:05
It's not at all surprising except in how fast it's going. Within the space of little more than a decade, since the ill-fated Bush Administration decision to invade and occupy Afghanistan then Iraq in March 2003, the United States of America has managed to lose strategic influence and allies across the entire Middle East. Not only the Shi'ite Iranians, whom President Obama believes are now beholden to Washington, but also for the first time Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states and Egypt are in the process of finding new allies or cooperation partners, and they are in the east, no longer the west.
On September 11, 1990 in an address to a Joint Session of Congress then President George Herbert Walker Bush triumphantly spoke of the United States as sole superpower, creating what he termed the New World Order. The Soviet Union had just dissolved in a chaos. Under the Bush and later Clinton presidencies, right up until the present day, Washington policy has been to go further and to devalue, destroy, deconstruct and dismember the Russian Federation, much as they did with Qaddafi's Libya after Hillary Clinton's 2011 war there.
During the 1990s President Bill Clinton supported introduction of US-financed economic ''shock therapy,'' with heavy support from billionaire financial wheeler-dealer friend, George Soros, and Soros' Open Society Foundations. Soros personally brought Harvard boys like Jeffrey Sachs to Russia after they had devastated Poland, Ukraine and other former communist states in eastern Europe. The corrupt Yeltsin regime, busy swilling vodka and lining their pockets with dollars, cared not about their fellow Russian countrymen.
Times have indeed changed for Washington since those days after 1990. Today the Sole Superpower, the Unchallengeable Hegemon, is challenged as never before, mired in its worst economic depression since the 1930's. The government has a federal debt more than 103% of GDP. Real unemployment, not the phoney Labor Department definition, stands today above 22%. The Federal Reserve is eight years into the worst financial crisis in history, unable to raise interest rates above zero percent.
And now, the strategic fulcrum of global US power projection since 1945, control of the energy flows of the Middle East, is vanishing like cotton candy in the winds.
Washington Panic
The most telling proof of their loss of influence in Middle East is the reaction of the Obama Administration to recent Russian activities to bring an end to Washington's horrible war in Syria, the true source of the refugee crisis presently creating social tensions across Europe.
On September 12 Barack Obama spoke out against Russia's recent Syrian activities. Obama rejected Russia's calls for increased military cooperation against ISIS, declaring that Russia's strategy of backing the Syrian government against ISIS is ''doomed to failure.'' Referring to the fact that Russian aid was going directly to the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, whom Washington demands resign, Obama attacked Russia's recent reported military aid: ''The strategy they're pursuing right now of doubling down on Assad is a mistake.'' Double down is a term from Blackjack that here clearly means to engage in risky behaviour when one is already in a dangerous situation.
The logic of Washington's position of demanding Assad go is absurd. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeatedly stresses, Russia, which has been an ally of Syria for decades, will continue to supply military assistance to the legitimate Assad government in their battle to defeat Islamic terrorists: ''I can only say once again that our servicemen and military experts are there to service Russian military hardware, to assist the Syrian army in using this hardware. And we will continue to supply it to the Syrian government in order to ensure its proper combat readiness in its fight against terrorism.''
Why the panic
What has Washington freaked out is not the possibility that Russia will make the situation worse in Syria. After more than one year of destructive bombing by US and NATO planes creating the present EU Syrian refugee crisis, the situation could hardly get much worse if Russia's actions manage to isolate ISIS. What scares Washington warhawks is the possibility that Russia's strategy could succeed in ending the ISIS reign of terror.
The Russian call is to form an international coalition, inviting the USA to join together with states in the region and with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). At a September 15, 2015 meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan the heads of the CSTO member states denounced terrorism in Iraq and Syria, particularly of the Islamic State. They declared that they are ready to deploy forces in Syria under UN auspices much as NATO. This is a new development not appreciated in Washington, that two play the game. CSTO states will discuss their strategy of creating a global coalition against ISIS at the UN General Assembly meeting end of September. The CSTO includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrghzstan, and Tadjikistan. Russia as well holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month.
According to the report of Thierry Meyssan, French editor ofVoltaire.netbased in Damascus, the latest Russian support to Assad regime's war on the terrorists includes creation of a Joint Syrian-Russian Military Commission, the transmission of Russian satellite intelligence, the arrival of numerous Russian experts, and the delivery of sophisticated weapons. It also includes significant modernization and expansion of the Syrian Port, Latakia.
Russia's arecent activities expanding the port at Latakia caught NATO by surprise
A recent report in the GermanDer Spiegelfurther claims that recent Russian deliveries include the advanced Russian Armoured Personnel Carrier, BTR-82A. The BTR-82A is presently in use by the armies of Russia and Kazakhstan. It's features are impressive. It can perform combat operations 24 hours a day. Its main armament is a 30mm dual-feed automatic cannon that can fire armour piercing-tracer projectiles, high-explosive fragmentation-incendiary and high-explosive-tracer ammunition. In addition it has a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, three forward-facing 81mm smoke grenade launchers on each side. The gunner's station has a day/night fire control system. The commander has advanced communications and topographic maps. A surveillance camera with laser range finder eables the commander to detect enemy targets within the range of 3km. Oh, and the vehicle has some of Russia's most robust KAMAZ 740.14-300 turbo diesel engines with 300hp, and a maximum speed of 100 km/hour even over rough terrain and, to boot, is fully amphibious with water-jet propulsion.
The respected blogger, Saker, citing Russian sources, believes that Russia is also sending the Syrian Army battlefield systems which could greatly help them, including counter-battery radars (radars which spot where the enemy's artillery is shooting from) and electronic warfare systems. Saker points out that from a military strategy point, the real potential game-changer Russia has added in recent days is selection of the port of Latakia. He notes, ''the Russians apparently have chosen the city of Latakia as their delivery point. Unlike Damascus, Latakia is an ideal location: it is safe but not too far away from the frontlines, and it is relatively near the Russian base in Tartus. The airport and naval port are also reportedly easy to protect and isolate. There are already reports that the Russians have lengthened the runways and improved the infrastructure at the Latakia airport and that heavy AN-124s have been observed landing there. As for the Russian Navy '' it has been sending ships to the Latakia airport.''
He concludes, ''In other words, instead of limiting themselves to Tartus or going into the very exposed Damascus, the Russians appear to have created a new bridgehead in the north of the country which could be used to deliver equipment, and even forces, to the combat area in the north'... This, by the way, would also explain the panicked rumors about the Russians sending in their Naval Infantry units from Crimea to Syria: Naval Infantry forces are ideal to protect such a base and considering that the front lines are not that far, it would make perfect sense for the Russians to secure their bridgehead with these units.''
What is also going on as I suggested in an earlier article is a Russian diplomacy that is giving Saudi Arabia and the Arab OPEC members an alternative to their failed war strategy of financing any and every anti-Assad Jihadi terrorist. The new Saudi moarch and his advisers seem to have realized that the neo-conservative warhawks feeding ISIS and Al Qaeda's Al-Nusra Front and the Muslim Brothers in the Middle East next have their sights aimed at toppling the Saudi and other Gulf monarchies. By brokering or mediating an informal end to the recent Sunni-Shi'ite war that Washington fostered, Russia has removed a major proxy prop that has kept those wars running.
That leaves only Erdogan's Turkey as the main patron of ISIS. This is a qualitatively new situation since the war began some 4 years ago, and an ideal time for the Russian combined increased support for the Syrian National Army and the legitimate government of Assad and to make a major new international diplomatic offensive to end the fighting.
This is what is perhaps most upsetting the war planners in Washington. They realize they are on the verge of losing or most likely already have lost any remaining shred of power or influence over the countries of the entire Middle East including over Iran, the centerpiece of Obama Middle East policy at present. On September 21 Iran's Deputy Foreign Ministerfor Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian is in Moscow discussing the Middle East and Syria. Iran has been working very closely with Russia in recent weeks to build a strategy to end the Syrian ISIS threat.
And Israel?
Of course a major factor feeding destabilization of Islamic Middle East governments has been Israel's Netanyahu government. Here Putin has again shown a skillful presence, as Netanyahu distances Israel from Washington over Iran and other issues.
According to the news site, DEBKA.file, said to be a conduit for Israeli military and Mossad intelligence, at the end of August Russia's Putin proposed to Israel for Moscow to undertake responsibility for guarding Israel's Mediterranean gas fields, along with the offer of a Russian investment of $7-10 billion for developing Leviathan, the largest well, and building a pipeline to Turkey for exporting the gas to Europe.''A multibillion Russian investment in the field would make it a Russian project which neither Syria nor Hizballah would dare attack, even though it belongs to Israel,'' they noted.
The report claims the offer was ''made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in confidential phone conversations and through quiet envoys.'' DEBKA.file goes on to say the revelations of recent stepped-up military aid to Syria and Russian cooperation with Iranian forces in Syria have entirely changed the Israeli strategy calculus: ''The Israel Defense Forces must therefore revamp its posture on the Syrian front, and reassess its sponsorship of the select rebel groups which are holding the line in southern Syria against hostile Iranian or Hizballah cross-border attacks on northern Israel. The changing attitude was suggested in views heard in the last couple of days from top Israeli security officials, who now say that leaving Assad in office might be the better option, after all.''
They add, ''The Russian air force and navy are the strongest foreign military force in the eastern Mediterranean. The US deploys nothing comparable. Israel's military strength is substantial but no one is looking for a military clash with the Russians'...''
If DEBKA.file's report is accurate, the latest Russian Middle East peace strategy of diplomacy through strength has just dealt a devastating defeat to Washington's strategy of wars everywhere.
If Russia is able now to forge a genuine, honest coalition of nations to isolate and destroy Washington-created Frankenstein monster called ISIS or IS, and to allow Syrians to settle their problems with the duly-elected President, Bashar al-Assad in free elections without the US-financed NGOs of George Soros or the National Endowment for Democracy, the world will take a giant step away from war.
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''.
China Puts NINE Amateur Satellites in Orbit
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:04
'Broadband Opportunity' Report Misses Opportunity to Strengthen Smart Infrastructure Agenda
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:02
WASHINGTON, DC '-- Today, the White House's Broadband Opportunity Council issued its first report on ways to promote broadband deployment and adoption. Having gathered input from public and private stakeholders, the Council issued several recommendations for agency action as well as guiding principles for agencies, such as the FCC, to consider going forward.
A Good Start on Smart Infrastructure, but Not Enough
''The Report makes many sound recommendations about making broadband deployment easier,'' said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. ''Most notably, the Report proposes a series of measures that would, if implemented, significantly advance installation of Dig Once conduits. Installing fiber-ready tubes could allow the Federal government to encourage private investment into 'middle mile' networks, making it cheaper to connect small towns and rural cell phone towers across America with high-speed fiber backbones. For a penny on the dollar of the cost of digging up a road anyway, Dig Once conduits could transform the economics of the broadband market.''
''But the Report stops short of saying what should be uncontroversial: Federal money shouldn't fund government-owned broadband networks before the Dig Once approach has been tried,'' continued Szoka. ''Letting private providers bid to lease Dig Once conduits and deploy their own networks gives private companies an opportunity to upgrade their networks '-- or deploy new ones, as Google Fiber has started doing. If no private providers come forward, state and local governments can still deploy their own networks in that conduit. But at least they won't have wasted taxpayer dollars building networks that private capital would have paid for. Smart policy would start with smart infrastructure, not unnecessarily displacing private enterprise. There's good reason for caution: Government ownership of broadband networks inevitably means greater control, censorship and surveillance'--and should be undertaken only as a last resort.''
Broadband Taxes Won't Help Broadband Deployment
''It's ironic that the report's top recommendation appears to be taxing broadband,'' said Tom Struble, TechFreedom Policy Counsel. ''When the report talks about using 'rulemakings or guidance to open financing resources for broadband investments,' what it really means is that the FCC will soon force all broadband users to start paying Universal Service Fund 'fees' in order to fund programs that benefit only a small number of users. These undemocratic taxes, set by the FCC without even an annual budget, are the most regressive taxes in America, and have risen steadily to fund programs rife with waste, fraud, and abuse.''
About Dig Once Conduits
Dig Once conduits are empty tubes, usually installed under roads, through which multiple strands of broadband fiber can be installed later by any number of private or public network providers. Estimated to add 1% to the cost of a road project, they are also estimated to lower the cost of deploying that portion of a broadband network by 90% '-- without disruption to road users and nearby residents. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) proposed legislation in 2009 and 2011 would have required the Department of Transportation to install DIg Once conduits in certain highway projects. Eshoo abandoned her legislation, despite diverse support from Google as well as cable providers, after the Administration issued an Executive Order in 2012 promising that Federal Agencies would coordinate on Dig Once Conduits. That Order has largely proven toothless.
###
We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on promoting broadband deployment, including:
Roadmap by which governments at all levels can promote broadband deployment''The FCC's Section 706 Power Grab is Dangerous, and Ignores Marketplace Realities,'' a summary of our comments on the FCC's annual report on broadband deployment''Don't Blame Big Cable. It's Local Governments That Choke Broadband Competition,'' Berin Szoka and Jon Henke in Wired.comA Third Way on Muni Broadband, TechFreedom & ICLE statement, summarizing comments opposing petitions asking the FCC to preempt state laws governing muni broadbandAbout TechFreedom:
TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.
Provision Forcing Companies to Report Supposed ''Terrorist Activity'' Struck From Bill
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:02
A provision that would have forced tech companies like Twitter and Facebook to report every inkling of ''terrorist activity'' on their services to law enforcement was removed from the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Bill on Monday.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., put a hold on the bill in July because of the proposal supported by Sen Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. The proposal generated intense and negative responses from technologists and privacy supporters who said it would turn tech companies into ''law enforcement watchdogs.''
Wyden celebrated his victory in a press release on Monday. ''Going after terrorist recruitment and activity online is a serious mission that demands a serious response from our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,'' he wrote. ''Social media companies aren't qualified to judge which posts amount to 'terrorist activity,' and they shouldn't be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users' speech.''
The provision was removed during negotiations prior to the the bill's expected approval by unanimous consent '-- the tradition for passing the Intelligence Authorization.
One problem with the provision was that no one actually knew what it meant by ''terrorist activity.''
When Feinstein mentioned the provision during an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in July, FBI Director James Comey didn't endorse it, instead replying that Twitter is already ''pretty good'' at reporting suspicious content to the FBI.
Putin's Master Stroke In Syria
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:51
Russia Articles, Putin Articles
B/C 300
Putin's Master Stroke In SyriaBy Brother Nathanael KapnerSeptember 21, 2015(C)
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THERE ARE MANY WAYS to die in Syria, but fighting Putin is not one of them.In spite of the Jews crying for a ''no fly zone,'' Putin vows he won't allow it. And besides, US jets don't want to be targets of Russian anti-aircraft missiles supplied to Syria.
For when Russia's embassy in Damascus was recently bombed by 'rebels,' Putin demanded that ''concrete action'' be taken by the ''foreign sponsors'' who he blamed for the attack.
Those are fighting words and Jewmerica got the message.
With a Russian military canton deployed to Al Assad International Airport with an air bridge from Russia involving military aircraft, such as Antonov-124 Condor transport flights, any attempt at a ''no fly zone'' will be met with a quick ruski reply.
''The tables are turning on those who conspired against Syria,'' boasts Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem.
''Russia's participation in fighting ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria will show that the US never had a real strategy for fighting terrorism in Syria,'' he added.
Of course, Jewmerica's real strategy has been to topple Assad and install a Zionist-friendly puppet. It's not working. Putin outsmarts any country led by Jews.
Obama's warning to Putin that his deployments in Syria are ''doomed to fail'' and that he has to ''get a little smarter'' was met by a shrug, letting Jewry's 'schwartza' squawk away.
For with Iran now unfettered due to the nuclear deal, Putin is providing Syria with satellite intelligence, digital communications, code-breakers, drones, and non-combatant personnel with their own defense forces.
Iran is also underwriting military spending to Russia's defense industry for both themselves and their decades-old ally Syria.
But what's turning the tide is Russia's satellite intelligence system now deployed in Syria.
Syria's army is getting 'real time' military intelligence and feedback on their operations, and is able to coordinate wide operations and simultaneous attacks under a more concentrated command and control system with sustained success.
They can monitor the Takfiri movements much better and the terrorists are no longer able to travel with impunity.
Within the past few days, the Syrian Armed Forces, Hezbollah, and Iranian paramilitary squads, in various combinations, have performed many different sorties across western Syria with hundreds of the terrorist bastards dead. Syria should soon get Palmyra back.
SYRIAN SOLDIERS are particularly motivated because one of their latest martyrs was the pacifist, father-figure, Syrian archaeologist, Khaled Asaad, who'd been working to preserve Palmayra all of his life.
Not only did ISIS destroy his carefully preserved and curated ancient ruins, they tortured him to death.
Who benefits from this bloodbath? Jews, not America.
All blocking of the Zionist quest for a Greater Israel the Jews are determined to crush despite the carnage.
Can the US government be cleansed of its own bloodstained hands?
Only the blood of deep repentance and restitution can wash away their sins.
Papal security shines spotlight on information sharing
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:46
The Pope's Visit
Papal security shines spotlight on information sharingBy Mark RockwellSep 21, 2015Department of Homeland Security components have been preparing for months for Pope Francis' first visit to the United States, including the establishment of communications and information exchange operations involving federal, state and local agencies in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
But, given the sensitive nature of the security surrounding the papal visit, DHS isn't saying much about the specifics of their preparations.
A Sept. 15 a statement by the Secret Service concerning the Papal events in Washington illustrated the logistical complexity of the visits, listing more than 30 organizations, local and federal agencies involved, as well as inventory of more than 120 street closures for various masses, parades and other activities in the two-day visit to Washington alone.
In Philadelphia, DHS and the Secret Service showed off a new Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC) that will be used by most of the more than 70 agencies cooperating on securing papal events in that city. News organizations invited for a pre-visit tour of the MACC had to promise not to divulge the facility's location. Similar facilities were set up in Washington and New York.
At the Philadelphia facility, almost 100 people will coordinate information in meeting facilities equipped with telephones, and video feeds from around the city displayed on five projection screens and two mega-screen televisions, according to the Secret Service.
"Part of the reason for this very facility is information sharing," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told reporters in remarks during the MACC tour in Philadelphia. "It's something we do all the time in connection to events like this, and on an ongoing basis. And it's something that, frankly, we are becoming better and better at."
Johnson has declared the visits to all three cities as National Special Security Events, which require coordination and planning by multiple law enforcement agencies, headed by the Secret Service.
The Secret Service didn't respond to FCW inquiries about general details of the MACC or other facilities related to the Pope's tour. DHS deferred all questions about the events to the Secret Service, a component agency.
The silence isn't surprising. Ahead of the visit, various media reports said ISIS and other terror groups could see it as a chance to strike, although federal law enforcement agencies have said that there are no known credible threats.
The specter still looms, however. ABC News reported on Sept. 15 that the FBI and DHS had arrested a 15-year-old boy in Philadelphia in late August who had been planning a ''homeland attack '... targeting a foreign dignitary.'' The identity of the dignitary wasn't mentioned in a DHS/FBI bulletin distributed to law enforcement, but ABC News said it was Pope Francis. A memo quoted by the network said the boy was ''inspired by [ISIS] and looked to mount an assault that included multiple attackers, guns and explosives.''
On another front, the Federal Aviation Administration sent out a notice on Sept. 21 reminding the public that the air space around Washington, New York and Philadelphia and surrounding communities would be ''No Drone Zones'' from Sept. 22 through Sept. 27.
''If you plan to attend any of the Papal visit events, please leave your drone at home,'' said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in the statement. ''Anyone flying a drone within the designated restricted areas may be subject to civil and criminal charges.''
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.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, 2015
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:42
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 18, 2015
NATIONAL HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Ensuring all members of our American family have access to higher education is fundamental to our society. A college degree can help secure a place in the middle class and broaden horizons for people of every background and belief. For years prior to the Civil War, this promise was withheld from African Americans, and the lack of a structured higher education system often prohibited them from earning their rightful piece of the American dream. This week, we recognize the sacrifices made by those who fought for the right of all our Nation's students to have equal access to a quality education, and we recommit to carrying their legacy forward by pledging our support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and all who attend them.
Countless champions from every corner of our country banded together to create the first HBCUs to resolve injustices and enable more people to realize their full talents and abilities. Though the barriers to higher education for African Americans have not been completely broken down, more than 100 HBCUs across our country have educated millions of students. These institutions help build the foundation for our middle class -- they are places where dreams take flight and where opportunities flourish. Generations of African Americans have learned and grown at HBCUs, which have made extraordinary contributions to academia and produced some of our Nation's finest thinkers and greatest innovators.
HBCUs are doing their part to help the United States reach our goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, because roughly half of the students that walk these halls of learning are the first in their families to go to college. Additionally, HBCUs are home to many who otherwise might not be able to afford a college education -- over 70 percent of those enrolled at HBCUs are from low-income backgrounds. My Administration is dedicated to ensuring these institutions have the resources they need, and I have made clear that all Federal agencies are expected to assist with this mission and help all students grow and thrive. To further support our goals for this decade, we have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen HBCUs and provide financial aid for those who attend them, and earlier this year I announced a plan to open doors of opportunity for even more of our people by making community college free for responsible and hardworking students. In America, nobody should be denied an education because they do not have the resources to pay for it.
This week, we reaffirm our support for HBCUs and recognize the great impact they have had on students throughout history. Education is freedom -- freedom to learn, to grow, and to achieve our highest goals and aspirations. Let us honor the heroes who helped extend this right to more people, and let us rededicate ourselves to defending it so that all of America's sons and daughters -- no matter where they come from or what they look like -- can fulfill their God-given potential.
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 20 through September 26, 2015, as National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week. I call upon educators, public officials, professional organizations, corporations, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that acknowledge the countless contributions these institutions and their alumni have made to our country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth 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
Remarks by the President at Screening of VICE Documentary, "Fixing the System"
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:39
South Court AuditoriumEisenhower Executive Office Building
5:36 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, hello, hello. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, I just wanted to stop by and just say thank you, because we have in this audience some people who are doing outstanding work on behalf of criminal justice reform. I want to thank Angie for the introduction. I want to recognize a couple of members of Congress who are here, who have been great champions of this. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson from the great state of Florida. (Applause.) And a great champion of this issue, he is working tirelessly in the Senate to advance some important legislation, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. (Applause.)
We also have former Attorney General and buddy of mine, Eric Holder. (Applause.) I know our current Attorney General I think had to leave a little bit earlier, but obviously is deeply involved in these efforts. I want to thank Shane Smith and everybody at VICE for the great work and efforts that they've made in the production of what you're going to be seeing here today. (Applause.) And then there's a guy named Al Sharpton over here. (Laughter.) What's up, Al? (Applause.) He's been working on these issues for a while.
America spends $80 billion a year keeping folks locked up. We represent 5 percent of the world's population, 25 percent of its inmates. That's not an indicator that we want to be the leader in. Keep in mind that I'm the father of two kids, and I care about them being safe and I am fiercely protective of them. And I think it is important for all of us to recognize that in too many communities crime destroys lives and hope and opportunity, and we cannot diminish the impact of crime. And I think everybody here recognizes that we have to have a criminal justice system that is effective and that prosecutes individuals in a fair way to ensure that we as a society are able to maintain peace and order and security. That's not something that anybody here would argue against.
But what we also know is that for too many individuals, particularly nonviolent offenders caught up in an environment in which drugs are pervasive and opportunity is lacking, the punishment does not fit the crime.
Too often, prosecutions, arrests are not being applied in a way that reflects our belief in equality under the law. And the effects of this mass incarceration ripple through families and communities, especially communities of color in ways that are not just a problem of the here and now, but continue across generations. So as a society, we have to acknowledge that there is something wrong when we are locking up this many folks with this kind of frequency, concentrated in a handful of communities in cities and towns and counties across this country.
And that's why, in July, I visited the El Reno federal penitentiary in Oklahoma -- the first President, apparently, to have ever visited a prison -- because the people in these prisons are deserving of our attention. They're human beings with hopes and dreams, who in many cases have made profound mistakes but are American citizens nonetheless. (Applause.)
It was interesting during that visit, we had a chance to meet with corrections officers and wardens and those who manage the system. They have an extremely difficult and often dangerous job. And we expressed our appreciation for what they do. But they also recognized that we could be doing better in how we administer justice.
And I met with a group of prisoners, and what was striking was the degree to which so many of these young people -- and many of them were young; there were some older ones who were there, often because they had been serving time for mistakes they had made during their youth. And I said at the time -- I think you may hear me say it in this program -- that they weren't so different from me. I made mistakes when I was young. I didn't always follow a straight path. The primary difference between me and them was I had more of a cushion. I had second chances. In some cases, I had resources or I was in an environment in which when I made a mistake as a teen, that I could recover from it.
And these young people didn't have any margin for error. And that notion that as a consequence of youthful mistakes they could end up in a lifelong cycle of crime, where the prospect of them being able to recover and reenter society with gainful employment and the ability to be part of their children's live and to be citizens appear remote -- the notion that that's how we think our criminal justice system should work, that that should be the end result, there's something un-American about that.
This is a country that believes in second chances. And right now we've got millions of people who aren't getting it. So we've got to make sure that our criminal justice system works. We've got to make sure that our criminal justice system keeps people safe. We have to respect the incredibly difficult job that police officers have, and remind ourselves that they are protecting and serving us, and they have a right to go home too. We have to recognize that there are prosecutors and judges throughout the system who want to do the right thing and feel compassion, and understand the human stories that are involved in this thing, but are bound by laws that all too often have been created because of politics or misguided theories as opposed to being based on the evidence and what's required to keep people safe.
The bottom line is we've got to make sure that our criminal justice system does not perpetuate a cycle of hopelessness, but rather lifts people up. And there's no contradiction between us being concerned and vigilant when it comes to keeping our streets safe and our children safe, and also making sure that our system is fair and just and does not consign an entire class of people to a life on the margins.
And that means that we've got to support sentencing reform efforts, like the one that these members of Congress are supporting, so that we can more effectively use our resources to protect the public. It means that we have to stay focused on prevention programs and alternatives like drug courts that can intercede with young people before they're locked into a path from which they cannot recover. It means that providing education and job training and focus inside of prisons is not being soft on crime; it is being smart about -- (applause) -- what is needed in order to make sure that people can recover from their mistakes.
And the good news is that people from federal, state and local governments, from law enforcement and the judiciary, from business and entertainment, and local communities are finding common ground on this issue. What's encouraging is this is one of the few areas where we're seeing some really important bipartisan conversations taking place, and members of the faith community stepping up alongside civil rights advocates in really significant and meaningful ways. And so I'm encouraged by it.
You represent the possibilities of shaping a coalition that makes this aspect of America more consistent with our ideals and our values. And for your extraordinary work, I want to thank you. But recognize this is going to be hard work. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to happen soon. We are just going to have to keep on pushing at the federal level, but also at the state and local levels. We've got a great Attorney General currently, and we had a previous Attorney General who cared deeply about this.
But we need states attorneys and local prosecutors, and sheriffs, and departments all across this country to internalize these issues as well, because the federal system is just a very -- is a small portion of our overall criminal justice system. And it's not something that I can direct by fiat to change. This is something that's going to have to be a collaboration with everybody.
So that's enough talking. Thank you for the great work you're doing. And enjoy the show. (Applause.)
END 5:48 P.M. EDT
Presidential Proclamation -- National Farm Safety and Health Week, 2015
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:39
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 18, 2015
NATIONAL FARM SAFETY AND HEALTH WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Since the days of our Revolution when farmers across the Colonies took up arms in defense of our country, America's farmers and ranchers have played a critical role in shaping our progress and forging a better future for coming generations. Through centuries of hard work, they have supplied our Nation with products and services essential to the economic and physical well-being of our society. This week, we recognize all those serving on our farms, and we recommit to safeguarding their health and livelihoods.
Farmers and ranchers make tremendous contributions to the way of life our ancestors fought to establish, yet they face considerable hazards in the course of their daily responsibilities. To protect the safety of those working on America's farms, my Administration has taken steps to guarantee they have the knowledge, tools, and resources necessary to mitigate and reduce risks to themselves and their families. From handling hazardous chemicals and machinery to working in potentially dangerous areas such as silos or grain elevators, our Nation's farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers should be able to secure the prosperity of their land, their loved ones, and their country without sacrificing their own.
That is why the Federal Government has partnered with farm families, organizations, and businesses to ensure the well-being of those who work on farms. We have strengthened our commitment to those who provide nutrition, clothing, and energy to our people, including by developing nationwide training guidelines that aim to reduce the threats posed to America's next generation of farmers and ranchers. Each year, thousands of people are injured on farms and ranches in America, and I remain committed to pursuing pragmatic, responsible solutions to prevent these tragedies from occurring.
Across our country, those who work on farms bolster our economy and nourish our people by providing what we need at a most human level, helping to uphold America's founding creed: Out of many, we are one. This week, let us recognize the steadfast dedication and commitment of agricultural producers and their families, and let us reaffirm our resolve to promote their health and safety.
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 20 through September 26, 2015, as National Farm Safety and Health Week. I call upon the agencies, organizations, businesses, and extension services that serve America's agricultural workers to strengthen their commitment to promoting farm safety and health programs. I also urge Americans to honor our agricultural heritage and express appreciation to our farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers for their contributions to our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth 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
Comments | VW Is Said to Cheat on Diesel Emissions; U.S. to Order Big Recall - NYTimes.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:38
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European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Managing the refugee crisis: Immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:18
The sudden rise in the number of people who are forced to flee their homes to escape violence and seek refuge, in their own countries or abroad, is a test for the European Union. The European Agenda for Migration presented by the Commission in May set out a comprehensive approach to migration management. Since then, a number of measures have been introduced '' including the adoption of two emergency schemes to relocate 160,000 people in need of international protection from the Member States most affected to other EU Member States. The current refugee crisis, however, requires further, immediate action. The College of Commissioners today set out a set of priority actions to be taken within the next six months (Annex 1). President Juncker will present these to European Heads of State and Government tonight at an informal Summit.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "In spite of our fragility, our self-perceived weaknesses, today it is Europe that is sought as a place of refuge and exile. This is something to be proud of, though it is not without its challenges. The first priority today is and must be addressing the refugee crisis. The decision to relocate 160,000 people from the most affected Member States is a historic first and a genuine, laudable expression of European solidarity. It cannot be the end of the story, however. It is time for further, bold, determined and concerted action by the European Union, by its institutions and by all its Member States."
What has been done
Europe's response has been comprehensive and decisive in the past months:
We tripled our presence at sea, increasing three fold the resources and assets available for Frontex Joint Operations Poseidon and Triton. Over 122,000 lives have been saved since then. Every life lost is one too many, but many more have been rescued that would have been lost otherwise '' an increase of 250%.We have mobilised EU funding in support of the most affected Member States '' allocating over '‚¬70 million in emergency funding, on top of the '‚¬7 billion in multiannual funding allocated to Member States over the period from 2014-20 to support their efforts in the field of migration and border management (Annex 2).We have redoubled our efforts to tackle smugglers and dismantle human trafficker groups. Cheap ships are now harder to come by, leading to less people putting their lives in peril in rickety, unseaworthy boats. As a result, the Central Mediterranean route has stabilised at around 115,000 arriving during the month of August, the same as last year.The European Union is also the number one donor in the global efforts to alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis. Around '‚¬4 billion have been mobilised by the European Commission and Member States in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance to Syrians in their country and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. The European Commission has also allocated '‚¬1.8 billion from the EU's financial means to set up an 'Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration in Africa'.We have collectively committed to resettling over 22,000 people from outside of Europe, showing solidarity with our neighbours.With the adoption of the Commission's second relocation proposal yesterday, Member States have demonstrated solidarity and agreed to relocate 160,000 people in clear need of international protection from the Member States most affected to other EU Member States.Priority Actions for the Next 6 Months
The most pressing need is to support Member States managing exceptional numbers of refugees on their territory. This requires action both inside and outside the EU.
1. Operational measures
Full roll-out of the Relocation Schemes and Migration Management Support Teams working in hotspot areas: The Support Teams will have an instant impact on the most critical point in the chain '' where the most affected Member States are finding the sheer number of arrivals too great to manage effectively. Staff and national experts from other EU Member States deployed by EU agencies (Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office [EASO], Europol) will help identify, screen and register migrants on entry to the EU, as well as to prepare and organise the return operations for those who have no right to stay. The Support Teams can only work in partnership with national authorities. Member States under pressure now need, as a priority, to finalise with the Commission and start to implement their roadmaps for the Support Teams working in hotspot areas by the end of this week. Member States should also identify a network of liaison officers for all relevant local and national government agencies by the end of this week so that the first relocation decisions can be implemented swiftly.Trigger the Civil Protection Mechanism or Rapid Border Intervention Teams, to call on immediate practical support of the EU and other EU Member States:The EU Civil Protection Mechanism can be activated to mobilise various types of in-kind assistance, including modules (teams and equipment), shelter, medical supplies and other non-food items, as well as expertise.Member States can request the deployment of Rapid border intervention teams to provide immediate border guard support in cases of urgent or exceptional migratory pressure. The Mechanism provides operational assistance for a limited period of time. Frontex funds and deploys national technical and human resources drawn from Member States.Normalisation of the Schengen area and lifting internal border controls: The temporary re-introduction of border controls in recent weeks by some Member can be justified in crisis situations under the Schengen Borders Code. But it can never be more than a short-term measure. What is needed now is action to restore the normal process of migration management as quickly as possible. Should these measures be prolonged or additional measures be requested, the Commission will formalise its assessment on the situation by adopting an opinion on the basis of the Schengen Borders Code.Stepping up the diplomatic offensive and intensifying cooperation with third countries: the Valletta Summit on Migration on 11-12 November 2015 will be an opportunity to show the new priority of migration issues in the EU's relations with African partners; the High-level Conference on the Western Balkans route in October 2015, will be the place to discuss the common task of tackling today's pressures and restoring stability to the management of migration via the Western Balkans route. The EU will also continue means working closely with key international organisations such as the UNHCR, the United Nations Development Programme and, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross to help tackling the refugee crisis at a global level.2. Budgetary Support
Increasing the emergency funding for the most affected Member States: The emergency funding available under the EU budget in this area has already been doubled this year, to reach '‚¬73 million which has already been exhausted. The Commission will come forward next week with a proposal to add '‚¬100 million to this budget for 2015.Increasing the funding for the three relevant EU agencies by '‚¬1.3 million to cover 60 staff for Frontex, 30 for EASO and 30 for Europol for 2015. In addition, the emergency funding for the most affected Member States and the funding for Frontex, EASO and Europol will be increased by '‚¬600 million for 2016. The EU's Agencies play an essential role in ensuring cooperation and in using the expertise available to best effect. They are now being asked to be far more active on the ground than was originally envisaged. The EU Agencies working on migration related areas therefore need a major injection of resources.Restoring funding for food aid via the World Food Programme to 2014 levels. Most EU Member States have reduced their contributions to the World Food Programme, some by up to 99% (Annex 3). The Commission will increase emergency humanitarian aid and civil protection resources by '‚¬200 million for 2015 to provide immediate resources to respond to demands from UNHCR and the World Food Programme and other relevant organisations in order to help refugees immediately.Increasing humanitarian aid by '‚¬300 million in 2016 to be ready to help refugees' essential needs like food and shelter. Increasing support for Syrian refugees: The Commission will propose next week to reinforce the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) in 2015 by '‚¬300 million to allow an increase of the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis and provide assistance to third countries hosting refugees from Syria. Together with a further reorientation of funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession, this will allow the total EU level funding for the Trust Fund in this phase to reach more than '‚¬500 million. Member State contributions should match the EU funding: so that the Fund would reach a total of at least '‚¬1 billion. This would be a powerful global demonstration of the EU's commitment to help Syrian refugees.Addressing the shortfall in funding for the Syria crisis: Only 38% of the funding requirements have been met. The impact of this shortfall is dramatic. UNICEF has reported that in recent months, up to 5 million people '' about half of whom are children '' have suffered major interruptions to their water supplies, with major risks of disease as a consequence. The EU and Member States should commit to cover half of this gap.Working with our immediate neighbours: For many years, pressure has been building on Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan as millions of refugees have fled Syria. Addressing the political turmoil is complex but we must redouble our efforts: The EU is ready to mobilising '‚¬1billion for Turkey and '‚¬17 million for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to help our neighbours tackle the migration challenge.Aid for Africa: The establishment of the Emergency Trust Fund with an initial capital contribution of '‚¬1.8 billion has already provided a tangible demonstration of what the EU will contribute and needs to be matched by Member State contributions.3. Implementing EU law
Progress is being stalled by the fact that the track record of implementation of EU law in the field of asylum is poor. The European Commission has today taken 40 infringement decisions against 19 Member States (see IP/15/5699).In particular, the Commission will work with the Greek authorities to prioritise a normalisation, within the next six months, of the situation since Dublin transfers were suspended in 2010. Greece will notably need to ensure adequate personnel is appointed to the Asylum Service and First Reception service; put in place an effective return system; improve the absorption of EU finds and address the reception needs arising from the increased migratory flows.4. Looking Forward: A Robust system that will bear the test of time
Protecting the EU's borders: This means strengthening Frontex and enhancing its mandate, and taking ambitious steps towards establishing a European Border and Coast Guard. The Commission will come forward with a proposal in December 2015.A long-term, EU-wide system ofresettlement and relocation: The Commission will table a proposal for a permanent resettlement scheme in March 2016. A proposal for a permanent relocation mechanism is already on the table. The Commission will further reform of the Dublin Regulation in March 2016.A credible and effective return policy: The full implementation of the measures set out in the Commission's recent action plan on return would restore credibility to the EU's return system. This requires better information-sharing, increased resources at both EU and national level, stepping up the role of Frontex, and a new emphasis on readmission in our relations with third countries.Opening legal channels for migration: The Commission will table a legal migration package including the revision of the Blue Card in March 2016.Background
On 23 April 2014, in Malta, Jean-Claude Juncker presented a five point plan on immigration, calling for more solidarity in the EU's migration policy as part of his campaign to become European Commission President.
Upon taking office, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker entrusted a Commissioner with special responsibility for Migration to work on a new policy on migration as one of the 10 priorities of the Political Guidelines, the political programme based on which the European Parliament elected the Commission.
On 13 May 2015, the European Commission presented its European Agenda on Migration, setting out a comprehensive approach for improving the management of migration in all its aspects.
On 27 May 2015, the European Commission already came forward with a first package of implementing measures of the European Agenda on Migration, including relocation and resettlement proposals, and an EU Action plan against migrant smugglers.
On 25-26 June 2015, the European Council agreed to move forward on the proposals made by the European Commission in the European Agenda on Migration, focusing on relocation and resettlement, returns and cooperation with countries of origin and transit.
On 20 July 2015, the Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed to implement the measures as proposed in the European Agenda on Migration, notably to relocate people in clear need of international protection from Italy and Greece over the next two years, starting with 32,256 in a first step, and to resettle 22,504 displaced persons in clear need of international protection from outside the EU.
On 9 September 2015, the Commission proposed a new set of measures, including an emergency relocation mechanism for 120,000 refugees, as well as concrete tools to assist Member States in processing applications, returning economic migrants, and tackling the root causes of the refugee crisis.
On 14 September 2015, Member States adopted the Decision to relocate 40,000 refugees in clear need of international protection from Italy and Greece.
On 23 September 2015, Member States adopted the Decision to relocate 120,000 refugees in clear need of international protection from Italy, Greece and other Member States directly affected by the refugee crisis.
For more information
European Commission Communication: Managing the refugee crisis: Operational and budgetary measures under the European Agenda on Migration
Annex I: Priority Actions under the European Agenda for Migration to deliver within six months
Annex II: Migration Management Support Teams working in 'hotspot' areas
Annex III: The Rapid Border Intervention Teams mechanism (RABIT)
Annex IV: Financial Support to Member States under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund
Annex V: Member State and Commission Contributions to the World Food Programme
Annex VI: The EU Regional Trust Fund ("MADAD Trust Fund") in response to the Syrian Crisis
Annex VII: Implementing the Common European Asylum System
IP/15/5699: More Responsibility in managing the refugee crisis: European Commission launches 40 infringement procedures to make European Asylum System work
Factsheets: the European Agenda on Migration Explained
Fact sheet on return
Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs Website
ANNEX I: Priority Actions under the European Agenda for Migration to deliver within six months
Operational measures
The Commission and the EU agencies will:
Assist Member States to take all necessary steps to roll out the relocation decisions, organising on-the-spot coordination and putting in place a network of national contact points. Follow up on action points from this week's meeting with Member States on relocation.Support the goal of making the Support Teams for the "hotspots" operational this week. The agencies' role will be to provide direct expertise in areas like the correct identification of migrants; the Commission will provide coordination between the different actors.Within the next fortnight, bring together Member States and the UNHCR to determine practical arrangements to implement the resettlement scheme.Member States under pressure should:
Finalise and start to implement their roadmaps for relocation and for the Support Teams for the "hotspots" this week; identify a network of liaison officers for all relevant local and national government agencies by the end of this week.Trigger the Civil Protection Mechanism or request Rapid Border Intervention Teams, to call on immediate practical support of the EU and other EU Member States.All Member States should
Identify national contact points for relocation this week to allow candidates to be swiftly identified and transferred; send a liaison officer to Italy and Greece to support on-the-spot screening; identify the reception capacity to be used for relocated people.Notify to Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office, within a week of the finalisation of national roadmaps for Support Teams for the "hotspots", what national expertise will be made available.Identify and notify to Frontex by the end of September an emergency reserve of border assets which could be used in Rapid Border Intervention Teams triggered this year.Notify to the Commission by the end of September civil protection assets which will be held ready to deploy under the civil protection mechanism if called upon this year.Put in place a system of contingency planning for possible increases in asylum applications this year.Confirm continuing support to the Frontex joint operation TRITON and respond urgently to the call for assets for operation POSEIDON.Apply to Frontex for the coordination and financial support available still this year for joint return flights and pre-return assistance.Stepping up budgetary support
The Commission will present the necessary proposals next week to the European Parliament and the Council.The institutions are invited to adopt the proposals for 2015 in a fast-track procedure:
Increase the Emergency Fund of the Asylum, Integration and Migration Fund by '‚¬80m and the Internal Security Fund-Borders '‚¬20m. This will be used for urgent needs to increase reception capacity, boost the administrative capacity to process asylum claims, and support the capacity to respond to pressure at the external border.Increase as from 2015, the capacity of the three key EU agencies with 120 additional posts: 60 posts for Frontex, 30 for EASO and 30 for Europol for 2015.Increase the funds for humanitarian aid by '‚¬200 million to provide immediate resources to respond to demands from UNHCR and the World Food Programme and other relevant organisations in order to help refugees immediately.Increase the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) in 2015 by '‚¬300 million to allow an increase of the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis (Madad Fund) and provide assistance to third countries hosting refugees from Syria. Together with a further reorientation of funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession, this will allow the total EU funding for the Trust Fund in this phase to reach more than '‚¬500 million.The Commission will propose to the European Parliament and the Council in the coming weeks the following changes to the proposed 2016 budget:
A new package of '‚¬600 million to increase the emergency funding budget of the Asylum, Integration and Migration Fund and the Internal Security Fund-Borders and to finance increased funding for Frontex, EASO and Europol in order to be ready to respond to immediate needs for migration management, reception, return and border controls.Increase humanitarian aid by '‚¬300 million to be ready to help refugees' essential needs like food and shelter.The EU should overhaul the allocation of EU funds for Turkey, such that a total of '‚¬1 billion could be available for refugee-related actions in 2015-16.
Member States should immediately commit to:
Restore funding for food aid via the World Food Programme to 2014 levels to stabilise the supply of food to Syrian refugees.Match the EU budget contribution to the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis (Madad Fund), to support Syrian refugees (in any country outside the EU) to reach at least '‚¬1 billion in total.Match the '‚¬1.8 billion of EU funding to the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa.Make immediate use of the pre-financing resources (over '‚¬300 million) now being transferred to Member States to implement national programmes under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund-Borders.Examine the use of their current Structural Funds programmes in terms of supporting migration-related measures, with a view to proposing changes to the Commission.Implementation of EU law on Asylum
Member States should commit to take urgent steps to transpose, implement and fully apply EU legislation covering the European Asylum System, including on reception conditions, asylum procedures, and who qualifies for asylum.
Next Legislative Steps
The European Parliament and the Council should fast-track the following Commission proposals on the table:Safe Countries of Origin, including TurkeyThe amendment to the Dublin Regulation to introduce a crisis relocation mechanismThe Commission will bring forward the following new proposals:
Establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard and extension of the Frontex mandate (December 2015)Legal migration package including revision of Blue Card (March 2016)Further reform of the Dublin Regulation (March 2016)Proposal for a structured system on resettlement (March 2016)ANNEX 2: Financial Support to Member States
Annex 3: Member State and Commission Contributions to the World Food Programme
'‚¬ in thousands
31/12/2014
13/09/2015
Average 5 years
Austria
946
653
Belgium
20.436
9.253
19.223
Bulgaria
111
101
73
Cyprus
8
4
4
Croatia
6
Czech Republic
121
90
169
Denmark
54.770
40.428
41.684
Estonia
151
104
Finland
27.892
17.345
22.232
France
18.392
14.164
20.588
Germany
240.947
117.315
158.172
Greece
30
51
Hungary
41
30
Ireland
17.069
13.869
16.766
Italy
25.311
19.734
18.458
Latvia
4
Lithuania
32
10
16
Luxembourg
9.709
8.487
8.806
Malta
Netherlands
70.969
75.099
61.637
Poland
219
Portugal
8
18
Romania
6
Slovakia
12
10
Slovenia
33
28
48
Spain
6.174
3.653
14.790
Sweden
74.770
3.775
60.800
UK
327.453
230.733
231.297
TOTAL
895.386
554.087
675.863
EU
297.340
157.190
238.933
EU + Member States
1.192.726
711.277
914.796
(2014 and 2015, until 13/09) [source: WFP website
http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260179/why-west-should-listen-hungary-muslim-refugees-raymond-ibrahim
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:46
http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260179/why-west-should-listen-hungary-muslim-refugees-raymond-ibrahimviewport, width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0 description, Heed the nations experienced with the Islamic influx. rating, general generator, Drupal 7 (http://drupal.org) twitter:card, summary twitter:url, http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260179/why-west-should-listen-hungary-muslim-refugees-raymond-ibrahim twitter:title, Why the West Should Listen to Hungary on Muslim Refugees twitter:description, Heed the nations experienced with the Islamic influx. twitter:image:src, http://www.frontpagemag.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_full/public/uploads/2015/09/lk_1.jpg?itok=AEWIjqsd
Why David Cameron's PigGate is totally believable
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 03:34
No one does sleaze quite like the posh English male. A new unauthorized biography of British Prime Minister David Cameron alleges that, while a student at Oxford University, he performed, as a judge might put it, a lewd act on a deceased pig.
This may sound unconscionably scandalous to Americans, who tend to think of English gentlemen as charming Hugh Grant types with floppy hair and crooked smiles. But let me assure you, Brits know that upper class males, behind the pleasant fa§ade, are often debauched baboons. And so we're rolling our eyes at our genteel PM's animal antics. "PigGate," as Cameron's alleged episode of porcine intimacy is being called on Twitter, is exactly what we have come to expect from privileged males who attend top private high schools and then go on to Oxford or Cambridge. Elite clubs such as The Piers Gaveston Society '-- which Cameron belonged to when he supposedly violated a dead farm animal '-- are just part of the package for posh boys.
Indeed, our top-end universities' most coveted societies, most famously Oxford's Bullingdon club, boast initiation rituals and traditions that would make members of even the most notorious U.S. frat house wince. It's an extension of British boarding school culture (think "fagging," where younger pupils are made to act as servants for older boys), plus a perceived need by the elite to create secretive, seedy bonds between the young gentlemen who will go on to join the old boys' network that still dominates so many of Britain's political and financial institutions.
According to Cameron's Oxford contemporary, James Delingpole, The Piers Gaveston Society, which was formed in 1977, has "Bacchanalian parties at grand country mansions fueled by champagne, caviar, and illegal drugs." The annual summer ball, say insiders, is "basically a very well-organized orgy" where the society's all-male members (12 good-looking former public school boys) wear drag and have sex with Oxford's prettiest girls.
The 200-year-old Bullingdon Club, meanwhile, has a reputation for boisterous, flashy behavior, including trashing restaurants, then ostentatiously paying for the damage in full. In 2010, members allegedly ripped up bathroom plumbing at a fancy country house hotel, while more recently Britain's Daily Mirror claimed that the new member initiation ceremony involved setting fire to a £50 note (worth around $80) in front of a homeless person. Former Bullingdon alumni include not only David Cameron but also his chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and London mayor, Boris Johnson.
The Black Cygnets Society at St Hugh's College, Oxford, made headlines in 2013 when it hosted a "fox hunt" event. Male members wore red coats while the invited women (mostly first year students) dressed as sexy "foxes" and tried to avoid being mauled by the men.
The salacious details of these clubs' activities could have been pulled from an Evelyn Waugh novel or a biography of a 1970s rock band. So we ordinary Brits, instead of angrily condemning upper class antics, choose to find them entertaining and make excuses: "Oh, they're just being posh twits," we say.
For sure, these stories and the scandal in which the British prime minister finds himself embroiled are hugely amusing. And it's no small comfort to critics of Cameron that he will likely have to endure the snorts and squeals of his opponents for years to come.
But perhaps, in light of our PM's shame, we Brits should rethink our laissez faire attitude toward the elite. University administrations should look to shut down these elitist societies, punish the students who flout the rules and, in doing so, help these "traditions" fade into history. Clubs like Bullingdon and Piers Gaveston are just archaic hangovers. Surely, it's time we cured them.
Aurora movie theater crime scene - Photos - Shocking photos from inside the Aurora movie theater crime scene and shooter's home - NY Daily News
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 03:31
James Holmes' white two-door hatchback is photographed with shattered windows outside the movie theatre in Aurora following the deadly shooting. Holmes' was apprehended by police, behind the cinema, next to his car, without resistance. 14 of 49
Hillary Clinton Health Issues '-- Tell All Claims | Radar Online
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:41
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Radar exclusively obtained an advance copy of Unlikeable -- The Problem with Hillary by Edward Klein before its official publication date of September 28. And the allegations inside are sure to rock Clinton's presidential campaign!
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According to Klein, Clinton is secretly facing "mounting health issues" that cannot be ignored.
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Among her issues are "blinding headaches" that have "frequently plagued her," he claimed. As Radar reported, other insiders have claimed she has had a series of strokes and may be suffering from MS.
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"For the first time I've known her, she's showing self-doubt about her strength and vitality," a friend told Klein.
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Bouts of insomnia have "worried her, because it sapped her energy just when she needed it most for the campaign," Klein wrote.
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The friend continued, "She is exhausted and depressed a lot of the time."
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In fact, the friend claimed, Clinton even turned to sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta in her desperation, but they offered no relief. Said the friend, "She said they made her less sharp the next day."
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As Radar reported, Clinton suffered a life-threatening blood clot on her brain in late 2012. Since then, Klein claimed, she has "constantly worried she was developing another blood clot'..."
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"There were incidents on the campaign trail when she felt faint and nearly swooned," he claimed. "Those incidents were kept secret."
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For more stunning allegations from Klein's explosive book, stay with Radar!
Bernie Sanders: Warmonger, Nationalist, Xenophobe - A Little Rebellion
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:22
Bernie Sanders has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last few weeks as many on the Left are not yet ready to crown Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee just yet.
Sanders is a confessed socialist who hits all the right progressive buzzwords and slogans, stroking a populism that generally has a lot of success in American politics. But instead of speaking truth to the American people - as Ron Paul did, setting intellectual fire to the empire and corporate class, telling people what they need to hear - Sanders tells them what they want to hear.
Welfare, goodies, "free" stuff, tax the rich. It's all low-hanging fruit for problems that need to be struck at the root in order to be solved.
Money must not be our God, he says, as he plans to take it from you and centralize it in Washington, DC using the armed thugs of the state (he's for gun control for you, of course, but lots of guns are needed to enforce his will). Little does he know that the regulatory-welfare state is and always has been a tool of the political class, oligarchs, corporations and centralized power in general. Political power, no matter how pretty the velvet glove masking the the iron fist is, is reactionary and conservative against the decentralizing forces of liberty, markets and spontaneous order.
It is understandable to be ignorant of economics. Most, if not all, politicians are. As the great Thomas Sowell puts it, "The first lesson of economics is scarcity. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."
It isn't Bernie's economics that surprises me, it is his other positions that scare me even more - positions that progressives are generally fairly decent on, like foreign policy and immigration.
But this is what I get for granting even a modicum of chance to a politician.
On immigration, Sanders sounds just like Donald Trump. Nationalist and nativist, Sanders preys on irrational anti-immigrant fears about them "taking our jobs," calling open borders a "right-wing Koch scheme."
Really, Bernie? Despite the fact that open immigration is good for economies, trade, peace - and, oh ya, doesn't involve the use of armed government agents harassing people and enforcing a police state - Sanders doesn't want to hear it. As Robby Soave, the author of the Reason piece linked above, puts it, "But for 'internationalist' socialist Democrat Sanders, hatred of the rich outweighs concern for the material well-being of the world's poor."
Students of socialism/progressivism and its history shouldn't be surprised, however. The movement has always been nationalistic, xenophobic and fearful of immigration.
After Sander's conservative views on immigration hit the web, the Twitterverse was all over it.
On war, Sanders doesn't sound very different at all from the right-wingers and corporate oligarchs he claims to oppose.
Howard Lisnoff at Counterpunch details Sanders's pro-war voting record, revealing that Sanders voted with the Democrats almost 98% of the time. 98%! When Bill Clinton was committing mass murder in the Balkans, Sanders played the part of party loyalist, gangster and defender of the war machine.
In spite of claims of being antiwar, his ''hawkish'' support of Clinton's military actions in the 1999 Kosovo War caused one of his advisers to quit. When antiwar activists occupied Sanders' office in 1999 because of that support of Clinton's war policies, he had them arrested.
On Afghanistan and Iraq, Sanders may have had some minor quips with how the wars were being waged, but made sure that they were fully funded and supported.
In 2001, Sanders did not support the vote in Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone! This vote was followed by his support for appropriations to support boththe war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War.
Then Sanders supported only a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. When impeachment was on the so-called table against George W. Bush in 2006, he said that impeachment was ''impractical.''
And on Israel, Sanders might as well be Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio.
Sanders, like his Democratic allies, has supported Israel's aggressive Middle East policies against Palestinian statehood. He supported HR 282, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which was similar to the resolutions leading to the Iraq War. Indeed, it appears that Sanders is even to the political Right of many liberal Democrats!
Under a Sanders administration, the Klansmen running Israel would undoubtedly continue to receive the same, if not more, support - militarily and financially - for their colonization, occupations, land-rustling and mass murder campaigns.
In fact, if Bernie had it his way, I am sure the Obama madness in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Africa would also stay on autopilot. Who knows how many innocents would #FeelTheBern of a Sanders missile, bomb or drone strike?
There is an unfortunate and horribly mistaken assumption that progressives are peaceniks or opposed to war. Maybe some Republicans wars, but on principle, the socialist mindset has always been about centralized state power, coercion and the militarized ordering of society from the top-down. Leftists loved WW1 because it finally gave them the excuse to run the economy and society like a chessboard. We planned in war, we can plan in peace!
But the rise of Sanders, like the rise of his mirror-image Donald Trump, is important because it shows that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo, know that something is wrong and are looking for answers.
Sanders and Trump are tapping into that frustration with great success. It is important that we see what fascism looks from all angles so that we can witness its ugliness and, most importantly, refute it with the message of peace and human liberty. Let the progressives and conservatives have the central government! The captain of a sinking ship is not the job for libertarians and those who believe in the principles of liberty.
So thank you, Bernie, for being another reminder of what progressivism/socialism really is: warmongering, nationalist, statist and an ally of the oligarchy.
The Earth is flat and 'they' don't want you to know
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:09
By Joseph L. Flatley on September 20th, 2015
In the year 1543, the Pope teamed up with Copernicus, the Church of England, and possibly Aristotle (who, inconveniently, had died in 322 B.C.) to convince unsuspecting Europeans that, despite the Earth's obvious flatness, it's actually a sphere, and that the sun is the center of the universe. In the years since, the usual bad guys'--Catholics, Jews, and bankers'--have jealously guarded the secret of the flat Earth. And with the birth of the space age, NASA (basically a joint project between the Freemasons and the Nazis) got involved. That, at least, is the story according to the Flat Earth Truthers, a small but vocal group who believe that the world is flat, and that this knowledge is the key to understanding whoreallyruns the world.
Eric Dubay is arguably the most visible Flat Earth Truther. Onhis Bloggerbio, Dubay describes himself as just another 30-something American cool dude, ''living in Thailand where I teach Yoga and Wing Chun part-time while exposing the New World Order full-time.'' That work involves publishing expos(C)s like ''Dinosaur Hoax '' Dinosaurs Never Existed!'' and ''Adolf Hitler vs. The Jew World Order.'' That's right'--theJewWorld Order.
Dubay's latest e-book is titled200 Proofs Earth is Not a Spinning Ball. In it, he lays out the basics of modern flat Earth theory. The moon, he writes, is a self-luminescent, semitransparent object, not solid at all. The International Space Station, which you canactually see through a telescope, is really a drone or a hologram (like the planes that hit the World Trade Center). And the Earth itself is a disc, like the emblem on the flag of the United Nations, or an old Beatles record. The North Pole is in the center of the disc, where you secure it to the turntable, and traveling south takes you to the beginning of Track 1 (''Taxman''). Antarctica, instead of being a continent, is a wall of ice that rings 'round the edge of the disc, holding the oceans in place.
According to Dubay, this is all common sense. And it was once common knowledge, before the world's secret rulers brainwashed everyone. But as Brian Dunning notes on hisSkeptoidpodcast, the idea that our ancient ancestors believed in a flat Earth is actually a modern myth. For as long as people have been observing and measuring the Earth, it seems, it's been understood that we live on a globe. Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid'--none of them doubted this. Eratosthenes, a Greek geographer and mathematician who died 200 years before the birth of Christ, determined the circumference of the earth within 2 percent of its exact measurement.
Earth's flatness was once common knowledge, before the world's secret rulers brainwashed everyone.
This is pretty much where the flat Earth debate ended, regardless ofwhat you may have heard about Christopher Columbus. That is, until the 1800s, when an Englishman named Samuel Rowbotham (known by the pen name Parallax) decided that since his Bible said that the Earth is flat, then indeed the earth has to be flat. To prove it, he would run around England with his surveying equipment, taking measurements that he then twisted to ''prove'' whatever he wished'--the definition of pseudoscience.
Parallax was a major influence on the Flat Earth Society, founded in 1956 by another Englishman, Samuel Shenton. After Shenton's death in 1971, the society (then little more than a somewhat amusing newsletter) was taken over by an American, Charles K. Johnson. Like those before him, Johnson's flat Earth beliefs were firmly rooted in the Bible. ''If earth were a ball spinning in space,'' he toldNewsweekin 1984, ''there would be no up or down.'' And if there is no up or down, Jesus couldn't have ascended into heaven.
According to Rich Hopkins, a flat Earth truther known as ''MrThriveAndSurvive'' to the 10,000-plus subscribers of his YouTube channel, ''the Aztecs, Mayans, Sumerians, the Bible, the Koran'--all of 'em said that the Earth is flat and not moving. All of 'em!'' Even today, he says, ''[M]any places in the east don't believe we're on a round spinning ball. It's mostly a Western phenomenon. The Muslim nations, they know it's a joke that we went to the moon.''
Except, of course, that isn't true'--and it's highly insulting to the larger, non-Western portion of the world.
Hopkins says that he became aware of the flat Earth this spring. He made the discovery while conducting his version of scientific research on YouTube. At the time, he was just another prepper, pushingcolloidal silver curesand preaching the imminent collapse of societyto a small YouTube audience. But then he saw a newscast from Michiganabout something called a superior mirage, an optical illusion resulting from a weather event known as an inversion. In this case, the mirage was a tiny, upside-down reflection of the Chicago skyline that appeared, Fatima-like, over Lake Michigan.
''I've always been a meteorologist and a weatherman,'' says Hopkins, referring to his service as an aerographer's matein the Navy in the 1980s. ''I've always been into science to some degree anyways. '... I was paid for it for four years in the Navy, so I call myself a meteorologist.''
Spotting the Chicago skyline from the shores of Lake Michigan called into question everything he thought he knew about how the universe works, so Hopkins began experimenting. First he took a pair of binoculars out into the desert near his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Driving around, crudely surveying the landscape, he could see for miles and miles. That was too far, he thought, but only if you assumed a curved Earth. If the Earth was flat, he reasoned, seeing so far wouldn't be a problem.
Once convinced that the Earth was flat, Hopkins started thinking about the cosmos, and what he refers to as ''the biblical thing.''
''So I went online one day and tried to search, 'What is the difference between moonlight and sunlight, the properties?' You won't find anything. You won't find a thing.''
''The Bible says the moon is its own light,'' he explains, seemingly referring to a description in Genesis of ''the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.'' That set him to pondering. ''So I went online one day and tried to search, 'What is the difference between moonlight and sunlight, the properties?' You won't find anything. You won't find a thing. And you mean nobody's ever studied this? I can't believe that.''
So he conducted an experiment (chronicledhere) using an old table, a black leather wallet, and a laser thermometer. On a clear night, he used the table to shield half of the wallet from the moonlight. Measuring both sides of his wallet with the thermometer, he determined that the moonlit portion was cooler than the half that lay under the table. He concluded, as any reasonable person might, that the moon had to be a star. More evidence that we are being lied to about the true nature of space, and the true nature of our planet.
In the three months since Hopkins started promoting flat Earth theories, his subscriber count has increased fourfold. I'm going to suggest that this newfound popularity'--and the popularity of what should be a long-dead idea'--is only one small symptom of what Michael Moore famously called the ''fictitious times'' that we live in. As I write this, a popular conspiracy blog just posted aseriesofstoriesdetailing the ''lies'' that the establishment is using to keep us down,man. Included in the list are vaccinations (bad), Pearl Harbor (inside job), chemtrails (they really are a thing), and the fact that water has memory (suppressed by Big Science, for some reason). It seems to me that these ideas are gaining traction because, while many are increasingly willing to radically questioneverything, there hasn't been a corresponding willingness to marry that skepticism with any sort of intellectual rigor. It's important to question authority, but questioning isn't enough. One also needs to be able to think.
Since Hopkins's flat Earth ideas involve all the traditional conspiracy tropes (and since conspiracy theory itself has anti-Semitism in its DNA) I had to ask: Does he believe that the Holocaust happened?
''I don't know,'' Hopkins says. ''I wasn't there. Like, a lot of people say, 'Do you believe in the Holocaust?' I wasn't there, I don't know. All I know is that the people that win the wars write the history.'' He refuses to believe something just because it's taught in school. ''I guess I'd have to go over to Germany and do some forensic examination to prove it.''
This isn't science, and this isn't skepticism. It's stupidity. While this one guy's crank idea probably isn't too terribly dangerous, it reflects a larger problem of rejecting scientific understanding'--not an inability to understand science, but a refusal of its methods and conclusions. How will we possibly hope to thrive and survive, mister, if we're wasting precious time and energy trying to figure out if the Earth is round, if the moon is real, or if the Holocaust even happened? Everything's up in the air, floating over an obviously, demonstrable, inarguably flat Earth.Illustration by Max Fleishman
19 Utterly Bizarre Dutch Words You Need To Know About
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:06
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Maggy Van Eijk is the UK social media editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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Driver Licenses From Five States Won't be Valid IDs for Domestic Flights | Travel + Leisure
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 13:58
BySamantha Shankman September 17, 2015
Driver's licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and the American Samoa will no longer be enough to get on a domestic commercial flight.
Starting in 2016, travelers from four U.S. states will not be able to use their driver's licenses as ID to board domestic flights'--a pretty major development considering an estimated 38 percent of Americans don't have passports.
The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered ''noncompliant'' with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five places, getting a license doesn't require proof of citizenship or residency.
The new rules will go into effect sometime in 2016 (the exact date has not been announced), and there will be a three-month forgiveness period, during which people with these licenses will be warned that their IDs are no longer valid for flights.
Here's the breakdown: if you're from one of these states, ''acceptable'' IDs include passports and passport cards, as well as permanent resident cards, U.S. military ID, and DHS trusted traveler cards such a Global Entry and NEXUS.
The TSA will also accept Enhanced Driver's Licenses, the kind that are currently used to replace passports for travel to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Of the noncompliant states, only New York and Minnesota issue enhanced licenses.
For families from these states, at least children under 18 years old do not need ID when traveling with a companion.
Media group launches global fact-check network - Yahoo News
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 13:51
'Œ‚HomeMailSearchNewsSportsFinanceWeatherGamesAnswersScreenFlickrMobileMore'‹PoliticsCelebrityMoviesMusicTVGroupsHealthStyleBeautyFoodParentingMakersTechShoppingTravelAutosHomesTry Yahoo News on Firefox >>Skip to NavigationSkip to Main contentSkip to Right rail👤Sign In''‰Mail'šHelpAccount InfoHelpSuggestions
Presidential Appointment: Fatima Noor - The Muslim ObserverThe Muslim Observer
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 13:34
The University of Memphis'‚¬' Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program graduate Fatima Noor has been appointed special assistant in the Office of the Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security.
She majored in psychology with minors in Spanish and international relations. She recently completed a month-long research fellowship in psychology hosted by Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh; her research will be ongoing for this program. Noor was a leader in many honor societies at the U of M. She has done volunteer work with World Relief Memphis and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
16-36
The Mobile Video Ad Lie '-- Medium
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 13:27
The Mobile Video Ad LieNYPost.com site loads 10Mb on iPhone, with no videos or video ads to be seenI've long been tired of online and mobile video ad shenanigans. I am not looking for it in everyday Internet browsing life, but it pops up everywhere anyway'Š'--'Šand I know what to look for in a very complicated puzzle of URLs. If I were looking for it, it would probably be way worse.
I had heard about heavy mobile web pages, and wondering what was loading that took up SO MUCH BANDWIDTH, I turned on Charles Proxy on my desktop and ran my iPhone's IP traffic through it, and I only visited one mobile website to test it out: NYPost.com'Š'--'Šmy guess is there are plenty of other similar sites that will exhibit similar behavior.
NYPost.com on iPhone 6, Mobile Safari, 8/27/15 at 7.10am MTThere were exactly two advertisements on the entire website that I saw. One was merely a small banner (''The Next President of the United States?'') that persisted as I scrolled down, and the other was a 300x250 flat image for ''Tamara Mellon: New Arrivals''; both of them have an (x / info logo) in the top right corner. Here's a link to a few mobile phone screenshots of the website on my phone.There was no auto-play video on the mobile website, which means that no visible video was playing while I was on the site for the 5 minutes during which Charles Proxy recorded what was loading in the background. It's quite likely that there were unviewable ads fraudulently loading behind the sole 300x250 ad I saw.Here are the highlights of what happened between 7:09am and 7:14am on 8/27/15 during my visit to NYPost.com:
Over 900 HTTP/HTTPS callsTotal sum of response body sizes = 10.8 million bytes, or about 10.3 megabytes. A great deal of this appears to be large JPG files like which are frame-by-frame images of ads. These include: Pur Water Filters (example), and Crest Toothpaste (example)My full IP address (changed in the file by me to 50.xxx.xxx.xxx) is being passed around like chips at a Super Bowl party: a total of 291 times'Š'--'Šthere are hundreds of ''pixel sync'' calls, where ad networks and companies essentially ''compare notes'' on who you are. Adap.tv (AOL/Verizon) for example matches to a whole bunch of other companies by name like Audience Science, DataXu, Turn, Yashi, TheTradeDesk etc:One company's syncing calls to match my user identifier with theirs[Download the Excel file and see for yourself.]
Tracking URLs Give CluesIt's nice to use a simple tool like Ghostery which gives you the name of a company putting ad or pixel code on a site you are visiting, but often to truly understand sketchy traffic you need to look at the tracking or origination URLs (which usually helpfully, because humans often have to troubleshoot them, are human-readable). For example:
One of 179 trk.fusevid.com tracking calls made on the NYPost.com pageThe ''adv_name'' appears to be the advertiser name, AdapTV in this case (owned by AOL-Verizon now). Advertiser IDs are often useful to compare, and I've mentioned IP address. It also passes the user agent (browser), and identifies the device as an iPhone. The supplier here appears to be someone called ''PocketMath'', and the website is correctly identified as NYPost.com (sometimes tags for other publishers will show up on publisher websites, perhaps when a publisher or ad network is trying to fill an advertiser or other network's order but doesn't have the inventory and so puts ad tags where they shouldn't). The CPM occurs in some as well.
Across the 179 trk.fusevid.com that you can see in the file, several names recur and patterns emerge: Network partner or advertiser names show up in the tracking URLs(each seeming to occur 20 times): 495communications, AdapTV, Branovate, LiveRail, lkqd, Marimedia, outfox, and TinyLove with associated effective CPMs ranging from 2to 60 (these could be dollar numbers or just weights).
This might indicate that multiple networks or advertisers are paying for traffic that just isn't there.A big part of whatever this scheme is, appears to be a pretty new company called LKQD, with a serving URL of lkqd.net (their Twitter account has 13 followers at the time I write this). They appear to be serving up tags with three different pid's (publisher ID?): 16, 49, and 72, which might mean that they or someone else is pretending this site is multiple different sites, but in adtech it's hard to be quite sure! But 4 of the 8 VAST tags in the serving 'waterfall' for fusevid.com come from LKQD. If they are a tech provider caught up in some sketchy scheme, they probably should know better, especially given theirCEO's LinkedIn profileclaims patents he files on viewability from when he worked at Vindico.
Similarly, LiveRail, the video ad serving company and network acquired by Facebook last year for over $400 million, is involved if only by loading lots of tags on the same page in a short period of time (see the file).
I don't know for sure who owns fusevid.com which shows up all over the place here'Š'--'Šthe domain has a private/anonymous registration, which itself is sometimes a warning sign that something is Rotten in Denmark. But http://cdn.fusevid.com/ appears to point to besttv20.origin.cdn.level3.net. Other similar domains such as besttv56.flashvod.it.best-tv.com indicate that fusevid is hosted with Best-TV, which references tools to ''Quickly and easily insert ads into your video content to drive revenue''. Brightcove's video platform may have indirect involvement.
The large JPG files I referenced earlier make up the majority of the payload of this page'Š'--'Šand are coming from the images.fusevid.com domain. Here again are those example1 andexample2 of the image files.
Remember, I didn't see any video content nor any video ads at all. If there is not willful fraud here, loading ads in the background that are impossible to see, then at the very least it is 'user-hating' irresponsible behavior to have a 10+mb payload with hundreds of http calls in a mobile browser.
Online advertising has a tragedy of the commons problemMany publishers simply must have a sense that something nasty is going on'Š'--'Šwhen their users complain about slow page loads on mobile web'Š'--'Šbut they either don't have the tech savvy and/or more likely, they won't ask questions about how their site could possibly be monetizing as well as it is when simple math indicates that their users aren't watching that many video streams. Many simply turn a blind eye.
Ad industry insiders talk about ''improving viewability'''Š'--'Šbut make no mistake, these are likely not mistakes made by inexperienced workers'Š'--'Šjust as mobile ads that pop up iTunes Store pages for mobile app installs are not casual errors'Š'--'Šthis is an industry that persists by helping already-fraught businesses like newspapers and online publishers survive at the expense of the advertisers who supposedly help us users have free content.
Is it any wonder desktop ad blocking has been on the rise, and many iOS users are excited at the prospect of using content blocking in iOS9 to get rid of mobile ads? The industry has only itself to blame.
And if the already-meager mobile ad money coming in the door to these publishers is largely fraud as it might well be, they've soon to have a lot more problems at hand.The Second Time: in 4 minutes I got 32Mb of payload across 1,405 calls!If you've read this far, you're clearly either interested in this craziness, or a masochist. It gets better or worse, depending on your viewpoint. I did the experiment a second time. This time, I did actually see an ad unit and an ad'Š'--'Šthe PUR water ad mentioned before. But I saw only a handful of seconds of the ad before it was replaced with a circle spinning and then an animation of a cart of gold bricks and the ad started again, again running for only a few seconds. This video unit was on the 10th iPhone 6 screen as I scrolled down'Š'--'Šso highly unlikely to ever be seen anyway.
I stopped it there, after 33.6 million bytes coursing through my poor iPhone this time for the privilege of loading nypost.com'Š'--'ŠI think it would have gone on forever most likely. Gold bricks indeed.
Donald Trump Is Saving Our Democracy -- NYMag
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 00:45
Far from destroying it, he’s exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process.
He's a direct descendant of Mark Twain's 19th-century confidence men: the unhinged charlatan who decides to blow up the system.Photo: Michele Asselin/Contour by Getty ImagesFar from destroying our democracy, he's exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process.
As the summer of Donald Trump came to its end '-- and the prospect of a springtime for Trump no longer seemed like a gag '-- the quest to explain the billionaire's runaway clown car went into overdrive. How could a crass, bigoted bully with a narcissistic-personality disorder and policy views bordering on gibberish ''defy political gravity,'' dominate the national stage, make monkeys out of pundits and pollsters, and pose an existential threat to one of America's two major parties?
Of course, it was the news media's fault: The Washington Post charted the correlation between Trump's national polling numbers and his disproportionate press coverage. Or maybe the public was to blame: Op-ed writers dusted off their sermons about Americans' childish infatuation with celebrities and reality television. Or perhaps Trump was just the GOP's answer to the ''outsider'' Bernie Sanders '-- even though Sanders, unlike Trump, has a coherent ideology and has spent nearly a quarter-century of his so-called outsider's career in Congress. Still others riffled through historical precedents, from the third-party run of the cranky billionaire Ross Perot back to Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin, the radio-savvy populist demagogues of the Great Depression. Or might Trump be the reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy (per the Times' Thomas Friedman), Hugo Chvez (the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens), or that avatar of white-racist resentment, George Wallace (George Will)? The historian Richard Hofstadter's Goldwater-era essay on ''the paranoid style'' in American politics was once again in vogue.
In the midst of all the hand-wringing from conservatives and liberals alike, Politico convened a panel of historians to adjudicate. Two authoritative chroniclers of 20th-century American populism and race, Alan Brinkley of Columbia and David Blight of Yale, dismissed the parallels. Brinkley, the author of the definitive book on Long and Coughlin (Voices of Protest), said Trump was a first in American politics, a presidential candidate with no ''belief system other than the certainty that anything he says is right.'' Blight said Trump's ''real antecedents are in Mark Twain'' '-- in other words, fictional characters, and funny ones.
There is indeed a lighter way to look at Trump's rise and his impact on the country. Far from being an apocalyptic harbinger of the end-times, it's possible that his buffoonery poses no lasting danger. Quite the contrary: His unexpected monopoly of center stage may well be the best thing to happen to our politics since the arrival of Barack Obama.
In the short time since Trump declared his candidacy, he has performed a public service by exposing, however crudely and at times inadvertently, the posturings of both the Republicans and the Democrats and the foolishness and obsolescence of much of the political culture they share. He is, as many say, making a mockery of the entire political process with his bull-in-a-china-shop antics. But the mockery in this case may be overdue, highly warranted, and ultimately a spur to reform rather than the crime against civic order that has scandalized those who see him, in the words of the former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, as ''dangerous to democracy.''
Trump may be injecting American democracy with steroids. No one, after all, is arguing that the debates among the GOP presidential contenders would be drawing remotely their Game of Thrones-scale audiences if the marquee stars were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. When most of the field '-- minus Trump '-- appeared ahead of the first debate at a New Hampshire forum broadcast on C-SPAN, it caused little more stir than a soporific pageant of congressional backbenchers addressing the empty floor of the House. Without Trump, even a relatively tame Trump, would anyone have sat through even a third of the three-hour-plus trainwreck that CNN passed off as the second debate?
What has made him more entertaining than his peers is not his superficial similarities to any historical analogues or his shopworn celebrity. His passport to political stardom has been his uncanny resemblance to a provocative fictional comic archetype that has been an invigorating staple of American movies since Vietnam and Watergate ushered in wholesale disillusionment with Washington four decades ago. That character is a direct descendant of Twain's 19th-century confidence men: the unhinged charlatan who decides to blow up the system by running for office '-- often the presidency '-- on a platform of outrageous pronouncements and boorish behavior. Trump has taken that role, the antithesis of the idealist politicians enshrined by Frank Capra and Aaron Sorkin, and run with it. He bestrides our current political landscape like the reincarnation not of Joe McCarthy (that would be Ted Cruz) but of Jay Billington Bulworth.
Trump's shenanigans sometimes seem to be lifted directly from the eponymous 1998 movie, in which Warren Beatty plays a senator from California who abandons his scripted bromides to take up harsh truth-telling in rap: ''Wells Fargo and Citibank, you're really very dear'…/'…Loan billions to Mexico and never have to fear'…/'…'Cause taxpayers take it in the rear.'' Bulworth insults the moderators of a television debate, addresses his Hollywood donors as ''big Jews,'' and infuriates a black constituent by telling her he'll ignore her unless she shells out to his campaign. Larry King, cast as himself, books him on his show because ''people are sick and tired of all this baloney'' and crave an unplugged politician who calls Washington ''a disaster.''
Trump also sounds like Hal Phillip Walker, the unseen candidate of the ''Replacement Party'' whose campaign aphorisms percolate throughout Robert Altman's post-Watergate state-of-the-union comic epic, Nashville (1975). His platform includes eliminating farm subsides, taxing churches, banning lawyers from government, and jettisoning the national anthem because ''nobody knows the words, nobody can sing it, nobody understands it.'' (Francis Scott Key was a lawyer.) In r(C)sum(C) and beliefs, Trump is even closer to the insurgent candidate played by Tim Robbins and reviled as ''a crypto-fascist clown'' in the mockumentary Bob Roberts (1992) '-- a self-congratulatory right-wing Wall Street success story, beauty-pageant aficionado, and folksinging star whose emblematic song is titled ''Retake America.'' Give Trump time, and we may yet find him quoting the accidental president played by Chris Rock in Head of State (2003): ''If America was a woman, she would be a big-tittied woman. Everybody loves a big-tittied woman!''
Thanks to Trump, this character has leaped off the screen into real life, like the Hollywood leading man in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. As a human torpedo blasting through the 2016 campaign, Trump can inflict more damage, satirical and otherwise, than any fictional prototype ever could. In his great comic novel of 1959, The Magic Christian, Terry Southern anticipated just the kind of ruckus a Trump could make. Southern's protagonist is a billionaire named Guy Grand who spends his fortune on elaborate pranks to disrupt almost every sector of American life '-- law enforcement, advertising, newspapers, movies, television, sports, the space program. Like Trump, he operates on the premise that everyone can be bought. In one typical venture, he pays the actor playing ''an amiable old physician'' on a live network medical drama a million bucks to stop in mid-surgery and tell the audience that if he speaks ''one more line of this drivel,'' he'll ''vomit right into that incision I've made.'' The network, FCC, and press go into a tizzy until viewers, hoping to see more such outrages, start rewarding the show with record ratings.
There have already been some modest precedents for Trump's real-life prank '-- most recently, Stephen Colbert, who staged a brief stunt run for president in 2007. The comic Pat Paulsen, a Smothers Brothers acolyte, ran for president intermittently from 1968 into the '90s, aiming to call attention to the absurdity of politics. His first run was under the banner of the STAG (Straight Talking American Government) Party; later, he ran consecutively as a Republican and a Democrat. (''I like to mix it up,'' he explained.) Paulsen came in a (very) distant second to Bill Clinton in the 1996 New Hampshire primary, one of four primaries where he qualified for the ballot that year. But a judge threw him off the ballot in California, declaring, ''I do not want to reduce the campaign for an important office like president of the United States to some kind of farce.''
Some kind of farce, nonetheless, is just what the modern presidential campaign has devolved into. By calling attention to that sorry state of affairs 24/7, Trump's impersonation of a crypto-fascist clown is delivering the most persuasively bipartisan message of 2016.
Trump lacks the comic chops of a Colbert or Paulsen, and, unlike the screenwriters of movies like Bulworth and Nashville,he is witless. His instrument of humor is the bitch-slap, blunt and cruel '-- Don Rickles dumbed down to the schoolyard. But when he hits a worthy target and exerts himself beyond his usual repertoire of lazy epithets (Loser! Dope! Slob!), he is funny, in part because his one-liners have the ring of truth. When Eric Cantor endorsed Jeb Bush, Trump asked, ''Who wants the endorsement of a guy who lost in perhaps the greatest upset in the history of Congress?'' When Trump's presidential rivals attended a David and Charles Koch retreat, he tweeted: ''I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch brothers. Puppets?'' Twitter inspires his best material, as does Bush. Among Trump's many Bush put-downs is this classic: ''Why would you pay a man $1.3 million a year for a no-show job at Lehman Brothers '-- which, when it folded, almost took the world with it?'' The exclamation point in Bush's sad campaign logo, JEB!, has effectively been downsized to a semicolon by Trump's insistence on affixing the modifier ''low-energy'' to his name every chance he gets.
The most significant Trump insult thus far is the one that heralded his hostile takeover of the GOP. The target was Reince Priebus, the overmatched Republican National Committee chairman. Following the debacle of 2012, Priebus had vowed that his party would reach out to minorities and curb the xenophobic and misogynist invective that drives away the voters without whom it cannot win national elections. When Trump lampooned John McCain's sacred record as a POW as gleefully as Republicans had Swift Boated John Kerry, the chairman saw his best-laid plans for a ''big tent'' GOP imperiled by an unauthorized sideshow. ''Party donors,'' no doubt with his blessing, let it be known to the Washington Post that, in a lengthy phone conversation, he had persuaded Trump to ''tone it down.'' Hardly had the story surfaced when Trump shot it down: He said Priebus's call had been brief and flattering, and that he hadn't agreed to change a thing. As Priebus beat a hasty retreat, Trump joked that manipulating him wasn't exactly like ''dealing with a five-star Army general.'' Soon the chastened chairman was proclaiming Trump a ''net positive'' for his party. When Trump deigned to sign a faux legal document pledging not to run as a third-party candidate, Priebus had to show up at Trump Tower to bear witness, like a lackey summoned to an audience with the boss. That ''pledge'' served Trump's immediate goal of securing his spot on primary ballots, but come next year it will carry no more weight than a certificate from the now-defunct Trump University.
Trump's ability to reduce the head of his adopted party to a comic functionary out of a Gilbert-and-Sullivan operetta is typical of his remarkable success in exposing Republican weakness and hypocrisy. The party Establishment has been trying to erect a firewall against the onslaught by claiming, as George Will has it, that Trump is a ''counterfeit'' Republican and that even ''the assumption that today's Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible.'' Thus voters should discount Trump's ''bimbo'' tweets, anti-immigration fulminations, and rants about Mexican ''rapists'' as a wild man's ravings that don't represent a party that reveres women, welcomes immigrants, and loves Hispanics. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, in its own effort to inoculate the GOP from Trump, disparages him as a ''casino magnate'' '-- an epithet it doesn't hurl at Sheldon Adelson, the still-bigger casino magnate who serves as sugar daddy to the neocon hawks the Journal favors.
Trump does take heretical economic positions for a Republican '-- ''The hedge-fund guys are getting away with murder!'' '-- but on the matters of race, women, and immigration that threaten the GOP's future viability in nonwhite, non-male America, he is at one with his party's base. What he does so rudely is call the GOP's bluff by saying loudly, unambiguously, and repeatedly the ugly things that other Republican politicians try to camouflage in innuendo, focus-group-tested euphemisms, and consultantspeak.
In reality, Trump's most noxious views have not only been defended by conservative stars like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and late summer's No. 1 best-selling nonfiction author, the radio host Mark Levin, but also by the ostensibly more ''mainstream'' Republican candidates. Trump is picking up where his vocal fan Sarah Palin left off and is for that reason by far the favored candidate of tea-party Republicans, according to a Labor Day CNN-ORC poll. Take Trump's peddling of ''birtherism,'' for instance. It's been a right-wing cause since well before he took it up; even Mitt Romney dipped into that racist well in 2012. It took a village of birthers to get Republicans to the point where only 29 percent of them now believe that Obama was born in America (and 54 percent identify him as a Muslim), according to an August survey by Public Policy Polling. Far from being a fake Republican, Trump speaks for the party's overwhelming majority.
Charles Krauthammer, another conservative apoplectic about Trump's potential to sabotage the GOP's 2016 chances, is arguing that Trump's incendiary immigration stand is also counterfeit Republicanism '-- an aberrational ''policy innovation.'' The only problem is that Cruz, Walker, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson have all supported Trump's ''policy innovation'' calling for an end to the ''birthright citizenship'' guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. In Pew's latest survey on the issue '-- taken in May, before Trump was in the race '-- 47 percent of Republicans agreed as well. Even more Republicans (62 percent) support building a wall along the Mexican border (as does Krauthammer), much as they did in 2012 when Herman Cain did Trump one better by proposing an ''electrified fence.'' Trump's draconian call for deporting illegal immigrants en masse is also genuine, not counterfeit, Republicanism. Romney had not only argued for ''self-deportation'' in his last presidential campaign but in 2008 had called for newly arrived illegal immigrants to be deported immediately and for the rest to be given just enough time ''to organize their affairs and go home.''
With women, too, Trump embarrasses the GOP by saying in public what ''real'' Republicans keep private. The telling moment in the Fox News debate was not when Megyn Kelly called him out for slurring women as ''fat pigs'' and ''dogs'' but the cheers from the audience at Trump's retort, in which he directed those same epithets at Rosie O'Donnell. (No one onstage protested.) When Trump attacked Kelly the next day in language that seemed to refer to menstruation, most of his GOP rivals made a show of rallying around Kelly. But the party's real stand on the sanctity of female biology had been encapsulated in the debate by Walker's and Marco Rubio's endorsement of a ban on abortions for women who have been raped or risk dying in childbirth. No wonder Trump's bloodying of Kelly gave him another uptick in polls of Republican voters.
Republican potentates can't fight back against him because the party's base has his back. He's ensnared the GOP Establishment in a classic Catch-22: It wants Trump voters '-- it can't win elections without them '-- but doesn't want Trump calling attention to what those voters actually believe. Poor Bush, once the Establishment's great legacy hope, is so ill-equipped to pander to the base that he outdid Trump in defending the nativist term anchor babies by applying it to Asians as well as Mexicans. (Bush also started mimicking Trump's vilification of hedge-fund managers.) The candidates who have gone after Trump with the greatest gusto '-- Graham, Paul, Carly Fiorina, Jindal, George Pataki '-- have been so low in the polls they had nothing to lose. (Even so, all except Fiorina have fallen farther after doing so '-- or, in Rick Perry's case, fallen out of the race altogether.) The others were painfully slow to challenge him. That cowardice was foretold in June when most of the presidential field waited days to take a stand against the Confederate flag following the Charleston massacre. If they're afraid to come out against slavery a century after Appomattox, it only follows that they'd cower before a billionaire who insults his male adversaries' manhood as reflexively as he attacks women's looks. As Steve Schmidt, the 2008 McCain campaign manager, has said, Trump had all but emasculated Bush by the time Bush belatedly started fighting back. In the second debate, Fiorina finished the job by counterpunching Trump with more vigor than Bush could muster.
He surfaces in Terry Southern's hilarious character Guy Grand.In this excerpt from the 1959 novel The Magic Christian, the eccentric billionaire employs his fortune to prank American media and show business from the inside, exposing its inanity.
August Guy Grand himself was a billionaire. He had 180 millions cash deposit in New York banks, and this ready capital was of course but a part of his gross holdings.
In the beginning, Grand's associates, wealthy men themselves, saw nothing extraordinary about him; a reticent man of simple tastes, they thought, a man who had inherited most of his money and had preserved it through large safe investments in steel, rubber, and oil. What his associates managed to see in Grand was usually a reflection of their own dullness: a club member, a dinner guest, a possibility, a threat '-- a man whose holdings represented a prospect and a danger. But this was to do injustice to Grand's private life, because his private life was atypical '... he had a very unusual attitude towards people '-- he spent about ten million a year in, as he expressed it himself, ''making it hot for them.'' '...
''There's no biz like show biz,'' he liked to quip to the other troupers, '' '... oh, we have our ups and downs, heck yes '-- but I wouldn't trade one whiff of grease paint on opening night, by gosh, for all the darned chateaux in France!''
Thus did he enter the field, not nominally of course, but in effect. There was at this time a rather successful drama hour on Sunday evening. ''Our Town Playhouse'' it was called and was devoted to serious fare; at least the viewers were told it was serious fare '-- truth to tell though, it was by any civilized standard, the crassest sort of sham, cant, and weak-kneed pornography imaginable. Grand set about to interfere with it.
His arrival was fairly propitious; the production in dress rehearsal at that moment was called All Our Yesterdays, a drama which, according to the sponsors, was to be, concerning certain emotions and viewpoints, more or less definitive.
Beginning with this production, Grand made it a point that he or his representative contact the hero or heroine of each play, while it was still in rehearsal, and reach some sort of understanding about final production. A million was generally sufficient.
The arrangement between Grand and the leading actress of All Our Yesterdays was simplicity itself. During final production, that is to say, the Sunday-night nation-wide presentation of the play, and at the top of her big end-of-the-second-act scene, the heroine suddenly turned away from the other players, approached the camera, and addressed the viewers, point-blank:
''Anyone who would allow this slobbering pomp and drivel in his home has less sense and taste than the beasts of the field!''
Then she pranced off the set.
Half the remaining actors turned to stare after her in amazement, while the others sat frozen in their last attitudes. There was a frenzy of muffled whispers coming from off-stage '... Then there was a bit of commotion before it was actually faded '-- one of the supporting actors had been trained in Russian methods and thought he could improvise the rest of the play, about twelve minutes, so there were one or two odd lines spoken by him in this attempt before the scene jerkily faded to blackness. '...
The third time something like this happened, the producer and sponsor were very nearly out of their minds. Of course they suspected that a rival company was tampering with the productions, bribing the actors and so on. Security measures were taken. Directors were fired right and left. Rehearsals were held behind locked doors, and there was an attempt to keep the actors under constant surveillance, but '... Grand always seemed to get in there somehow, with the old convincer.
In the aftermath, some of the actors paid the breach-of-contract fine of twenty-five or fifty thousand; others pleaded temporary insanity; still others gained a lot of publicity by taking a philosophic stand, saying that it was true, they had been overcome with nausea at that drivel, and that they themselves were too sensitive and serious for it, and had too much integrity, moral fiber, etc. '...
Meanwhile the show went on. People started tuning in to see what new outrage would happen; it even appeared to have a sort of elusive comic appeal. It became the talk of the industry; the rating soared '-- but somehow it looked bad. Finally the producer and the sponsor of the show were put on the carpet before Mr. Harlan, the tall and distinguished head of the network.
''Listen,'' he said to the sponsor as he paced the office, ''we want your business, Mr. Levet, don't get me wrong '-- but if you guys can't control that show of yours '... well, I mean goddamn it, what's going on over there?'' He turned to the producer now, who was a personal friend of his: ''For Christ's sake, Max, can't you get together a show, and put it on the way it's supposed to be without any somersaults? '... is that so hard to do? '... I mean we can't have this sort of thing going on, you know that, Max, we simply cannot have '...''
''Listen, Al,'' said the producer, a short fat man who rose up and down on his toes, smiling, as he spoke, ''we got the highest Trendex in the books right now.'' '...
The critics for the most part, after lambasting the first couple of shows as ''terrific boners,'' sat tight for a while, just to see which way the wind was going to blow, so to speak '-- then, with the rating at skyrocket level, they began to suggest that the show might be worth a peek.
''An off-beat sleeper,'' one of them said, ''don't miss it.'' ''New comedy,'' said a second, ''a sophisticated take-off on the sentimental.'' And another: ''Here's humor at its highest.'' Almost all agreed in the end that it was a healthy satire.
After interfering with six or seven shows, Grand grew restive. ''I'm pulling out,'' he said to himself, ''it may have been good money after bad all along.''
It was just as well perhaps, because at the point when the producer and sponsor became aware of what was responsible for their vast audience, they began consciously trying to choose and shape each drama towards that moment of anomaly which had made the show famous. And somehow this seemed to spoil it. At any rate it very soon degenerated '-- back to the same old tripe. And of course it was soon back to the old rating as well '-- which, as in the early, pre-Grand days, was all right, but nothing, really, to be too proud of.
All of this should make Democrats feel pretty confident about 2016. A couple of conspiracy theorists on the right have speculated that Trump is a Hillary Clinton plant. But Trump has hurt Clinton too. Her penchant for dodging controversial questions '-- fracking, the Keystone pipeline, the Trans-Pacific trade pact '-- looks still worse when contrasted with Trump's shoot-from-the-hip decisiveness. Even when asked to name her favorite ice-cream flavor during a July appearance at a New Hampshire Dairy Twirl, she could do no better than ''I like nearly everything.''
It's not a coincidence that the Joe Biden buzz heated up just as Trump started taking off. The difference between Clinton's and Biden's views is negligible, but some Democrats may be in the market for a candidate of their own who will wander off the reservation and say anything in the echt Trump manner. Yesterday's ''gaffes'' are today's authenticity. Whatever happens with Biden, the Clinton campaign seems oblivious to the possibility that Trump is a double-edged sword, exposing her weaknesses even as he undermines the GOP. When he boasted in the Fox News debate that the Clintons had no choice but to attend his last wedding because he had given them money, he reduced the cloudy questions about transactions between the Clinton Foundation and its donors to a primal quid pro quo that any voter can understand.
As the Trump fallout has rained down on Clinton, so it has on the news media and political pros who keep writing his premature obituary. He has been dismissed as a lackluster also-ran in both debates '-- compared to the ''impressive'' Fiorina, Rubio, John Kasich, whoever. No one seems to have considered that more Republican primary voters may have cared about Tom Brady's endorsement of Trump hours before the CNN debate than the substance of the event itself. Throughout, Trump's rise has been accompanied by a veritable ''Dewey Defeats Truman'' festival. After the McCain smackdown in July, political analysts at the Times, the Washington Post, and CNN all declared that he had reached a ''turning point'' presaging his demise. The Times' version of this consensus ran as a column in ''The Upshot,'' the paper's rubric for data-driven reporting. It argued that because Republican ''elites'' had been outraged by the incident, it would ''probably mark the moment when Trump's candidacy went from boom to bust.'' This conclusion ultimately proved no more predictive than the ostensibly data-driven Literary Digest poll proclaiming Alf Landon the certain victor over FDR in 1936. Given the hostility of the GOP base to elites in general and McCain in particular (unless he's on a ticket with Palin), it was a better-than-even bet that Trump's numbers would go up, as they did.
An ''Upshot'' entry almost two weeks after the Fox News debate dug in further: ''The Most Important Story in the G.O.P. Race Isn't About Donald Trump.'' The more important story, it turned out, was the relative ''boomlets'' for the not-Trump candidates. But Trump continued to be the most important story, not least because of how he kept drowning out the supposed boomlets of the other candidates. Trump, we've been told, is sucking the oxygen out of a GOP contest whose other contenders constitute a ''deep bench of talent'' (the Times) and ''an embarrassment of riches'' (Peggy Noonan). But Trump is the oxygen of the GOP race, and that deep bench's embarrassing inability to compete with him is another important story. Even so, guardians of journalistic propriety (and some readers) have implored the upscale press to resist emulating cable news and stop paying Trump so much attention. Some journalists who condescended to write about him have asked forgiveness for momentarily forsaking sober policy debate and stooping so low. The Huffington Post announced it was relegating Trump coverage to the Entertainment section.
That summer of denial is now kaput, but many of the press's usual empirical tools are impotent against Trump. Columnists and editorial writers across the political spectrum can keep preaching to their own choirs about how vile he is, but they are not likely being read, let alone heeded, by Trump fans. Diligent analyses of his policy inconsistencies are built on a false premise because Trump has almost no policies, just ad hoc opinions that by his own account he forms mainly by reading newspapers or watching Sunday talk shows. When writers for both the Times and Journalop-ed pages analyzed Trumponomics, they produced the same verdict: Nothing Trump said added up. Kimberley Strassel, a conservative columnist at the Journal who regards the Republican field as ''teeming with serious candidates,'' has complained that Trump is ''not policy knowledgeable.'' That's for sure. You won't catch him following the example of ''serious'' candidates like Fiorina, Rubio, and Walker, who regurgitate the boilerplate drilled into them by foreign-policy tutors. Why bother, Trump explains, since ''one of the problems with foreign policy is it changes on a daily basis.'' Such thinking, or anti-thinking, may not win over anyone at the Aspen Institute or the American Enterprise Institute, but does anyone seriously doubt that it plays to much of the Republican-primary electorate? That's precisely what is spooking conservatives like Strassel.
Reflections on the candidate from Jeremy Pikser, co-writer of the Warren Beatty comedy Bulworth.When you watch Donald Trump run for president, do you see an entertainer?Well, I don't think anybody would pay money to go see him in a theater. I know I wouldn't. I think of him as a reality-show entertainer. And now he's converted celebrity television shows into politics. American President instead of American Idol.
And that's what accounts for his popularity?He's not pretending American politics is anything other than theater.
Why has that been such a problem for the other Republican candidates?Oh, because they look fake! Fake and puny. He looks honest and strong. He's not honest, not compared to any other human being on the planet. But compared to the other Republican candidates? And most of the Democratic ones? He is honest. Plus, Trump is a professional entertainer in a way that they're not. My guess is he's better at what he does than any of them are at what they do.
Do you see Trump as a satirist in the vein of Jay Bulworth, who tells hard truths as a candidate because he believes he's about to die?Trump is really the anti-Bulworth, because Bulworth had nothing to lose. Trump's branded himself as a product, and he's selling that brand. He's more brazen than honest. It's the stuff of satire, but it's not satire. I wish it were satire. Satire inherently has a critical aspect to it. He's not critical of this stuff at all. He believes in doing whatever you can get away with.
What's exhilarating, even joyous, about Trump has nothing to do with his alternately rancid and nonsensical positions on policy. It's that he's exposing the phoniness of our politicians and the corruption of our political process by defying the protocols of the whole game. He skips small-scale meet-and-greets in primary-state living rooms and diners. He turned down an invitation to appear at the influential freshman senator Joni Ernst's hog roast in Iowa. He routinely denigrates sacred GOP cows like Karl Rove and the Club for Growth. He has blown off the most powerful newspapers in the crucial early states of Iowa (the Des Moines Register) and New Hampshire (the Union-Leader) and paid no political price for it. Yet he is overall far more accessible to the press than most candidates '-- most conspicuously Clinton '-- which in turn saves him from having to buy television ad time.
It's as if Trump were performing a running burlesque of the absurd but intractable conventions of presidential campaigns in real time. His impact on our politics post-2016 could be as serious as he is not. Unsurprisingly, the shrewdest description of the Trump show's appeal has come from an actor, Owen Wilson. ''You can't help but get a kick out of him,'' he told the Daily Beast, ''and I think part of it is we're so used to politicians on both sides sounding like actors at press junkets '-- it's sort of by rote, and they say all the right things. So here's somebody who's not following that script. It's like when Charlie Sheen was doing that stuff.'' As Wilson says, for all the efforts to dismiss Trump as an entertainer, in truth it's his opponents who are more likely to be playacting, reciting their politically correct and cautious lines by rote. The political market for improvisational candor is as large as it was after Vietnam and Watergate, and right now Trump pretty much has a monopoly on it.
He also makes a sport of humiliating high-end campaign gurus. When Sam Clovis, a powerful Evangelical conservative activist in Iowa, jumped from the cratering Perry to Trump in August, it seemed weird. Despite saying things like ''I'm strongly into the Bible,'' Trump barely pretends to practice any religion. The Des Moines Registersoon published excerpts from emails written just five weeks earlier (supplied by Perry allies) in which Clovis had questioned Trump's ''moral center'' and lack of ''foundation in Christ'' and praised Perry for calling Trump ''a cancer on conservatism.'' But, like Guy Grand in The Magic Christian, Trump figured correctly that money spoke louder than Christ to Clovis. He was no less shrewd in bringing the focus-group entrepreneur Frank Luntz to heel. After Luntz convened a negative post-debate panel on Fox News that, in Luntz's view, signaled ''the destruction'' of Trump's campaign, Trump showered him with ridicule. Luntz soon did a Priebus-style about-face and convened a new panel that amounted to a Trump lovefest. One participant praised Trump for not mouthing ''that crap'' that's been ''pushed to us for the past 40 years.'' It's unclear if Luntz was aware of the irony of his having been a major (and highly compensated) pusher of ''that crap,'' starting with his role in contriving the poll-shaped pablum of Newt Gingrich's bogus ''Contract With America.''
A perfect paradigm of how lame old-school, top-heavy campaigns can be was crystallized by a single story on the front page of the Times the day after Labor Day. Its headline said it all: ''Clinton Aides Set New Focus for Campaign '-- A More Personal Tone of Humor and Heart.'' By announcing this ''new focus'' to the Times, which included ''new efforts to bring spontaneity'' to a candidacy that ''sometimes seems wooden,'' these strategists were at once boasting of their own (supposed) political smarts and denigrating their candidate, who implicitly was presented as incapable of being human without their direction and scripts. Hilariously enough, the article straight-facedly cited as expert opinion the former Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom '-- whose stewardship of the most wooden candidate in modern memory has apparently vanished into a memory hole '-- to hammer home the moral that ''what matters is you appear genuine.''
We also learned from this piece that Clinton would soon offer ''a more contrite tone'' when discussing her email woes, because a focus group ''revealed that voters wanted to hear directly from Mrs. Clinton'' about it. The aides, who gave the Times ''extensive interviews,'' clearly thought that this story was a plus for their candidate, and maybe the candidate did, too, since she didn't fire them on the spot. They all seemed unaware of the downside of portraying Clinton as someone who delegated her ''heart'' to political operatives and her calibration of contrition to a focus group. By offering a stark contrast to such artifice, the spontaneous, unscripted Trump is challenging the validity and value of the high-priced campaign strategists, consultants, and pollsters who dominate our politics, shape journalistic coverage, and persuade even substantial candidates to outsource their souls to focus groups and image doctors. That brand of politics has had a winning run ever since the young television producer Roger Ailes used his media wiles to create a ''new Nixon'' in 1968. But in the wake of Trump's ''unprofessional'' candidacy, many of the late-20th-century accoutrements of presidential campaigns, often tone-deaf and counter­productive in a new era where social media breeds insurgencies like Obama's, Trump's and Sanders's, could be swept away '-- particularly if Clinton's campaign collapses.
Another change Trump may bring about is a GOP rethinking of its embrace of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashing unlimited campaign contributions. Citizens United was supposed to be a weapon wielded mainly against Democrats, but Trump is using it as a club to bludgeon Republicans. ''I'm using my own money,'' he said when announcing his candidacy. ''I'm not using lobbyists, I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich.'' By Washington etiquette, it's a no-no for a presidential candidate to gloat about his wealth. Especially if you're a wealthy Republican, it's axiomatic that you follow the George H.W. Bush template of pretending to savor pork rinds. But Trump has made a virtue of flaunting his fortune and glitzy lifestyle '-- and not just because that's the authentic Trump. His self-funding campaign may make him more effective than any Democrat in turning Citizens United into a political albatross for those who are enslaved to it.
Having no Citizens United''enabled political-action committee frees him to remind voters daily that his Republican adversaries are bought and paid for by anonymous wealthy donors. The notion of a billionaire playing this populist card may seem counterintuitive, but paradoxically Trump's populism is enhanced by the source of his own billions. His signature business, real-estate development, is concrete, literally so: He builds big things, thus visibly creating jobs, and stamps his name on them in uppercase gold lest anyone forget (even when he hasn't actually built them and doesn't actually own them). This instantly separates him from the ''hedge-fund guys'' and all the other unpopular one percenters who trade in intangible and suspect financial ''products,'' facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs, and underwrite much of the Republican presidential field and party infrastructure, to some of the Republican-primary electorate's dismay. The simplicity and transparency of Trump's campaign funding are going to make it harder for his rivals '-- and perhaps future presidential candidates '-- to defend their dependence on shadowy, plutocratic, and politically toxic PAC donors.
The best news about Trump is that he is wreaking this havoc on the status quo while having no chance of ascending to the presidency. You can't win the Electoral College in 2016 by driving away women, Hispanics, blacks, and Asian-Americans, no matter how large the margins you pile up in deep-red states. Republicans who have started fretting that he'd perform as Barry Goldwater did on Election Day in 1964 have good reason to worry.
But Goldwater won the nomination in the first place by rallying a disaffected hard-right base that caught the GOP Establishment by surprise, much as the remnants of that Establishment were blindsided by Ronald Reagan's insurgency that almost denied the nomination to Gerald Ford in 1976. Trump's ascent, like the Goldwater and Reagan rebellions, makes it less likely that the divide between the GOP's angriest grassroots and the party elites who write the checks will be papered over in 2016, as it was by the time the 2008 and 2012 Republican conventions came to order.
Probable as it may be that Trump's poll numbers will fade and that he will flame out before the Republicans convene in Cleveland in July, it's not a sure thing. If the best his intraparty adversaries can come up with as dragon slayers are his fellow outsiders '-- the joyless scold Fiorina, who presided over the firing of 30,000 Hewlett-Packard workers (a bounteous gift to Democratic attack ads), or the low-low-energy Carson, who has never run anything except an operating room '-- that means they have no plan. And thanks to another unintended consequence of the GOP's Citizens United ''victory,'' the PACs it enables will keep hopeless presidential candidates financially afloat no matter how poorly they are faring in polls and primaries, thereby crippling the party's ability to unite early behind a single anti-Trump alternative. In a worst-case scenario, the GOP could reach the spring stretch with the party's one somebody still ahead of a splintered field of nobodies.
By then, Trump's Establishment nemeses, those who march to the beat of the Journal editorial page and Krauthammer and Will, will be manning the backroom battle stations and writing big checks to bring him down. The specter of a brokered Republican convention loomed briefly in 2012, when Romney was slow to lock up the nomination. Should such a scenario rear up again in 2016, the Koch brothers, no fans of Trump, could be at the center of the action. Whatever happens, there will be blood. The one thing Trump never does is go quietly, and neither will his followers. As Ross Douthat, a reform conservative, wrote in August, Trump has tapped into the populist resentments of middle-class voters who view the GOP and the elites who run it as tools of ''moneyed interests.'' If the Republicans ''find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message,'' he added, the pressure of that resentment will keep building within the party, and ''when it bursts, the GOP as we know it may go with it.''
Even if this drama does not play out to the convention, the Trump campaign has already made a difference. Far from being a threat to democracy or a freak show unworthy of serious coverage, it matters because it's taking a much-needed wrecking ball to some of what has made our sterile politics and dysfunctional government as bankrupt as Trump's Atlantic City casinos. If that's entertainment, so be it. If Hillary Clinton's campaign or the Republican Party is reduced to rubble along the way, we can live with it. Trump will not make America great again, but there's at least a chance that the chaos he sows will clear the way for those who can.
*This article appears in the September 21, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.
Hillary Clinton emails: FBI refuses to cooperate in server probe - Washington Times
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:48
The FBI refused to cooperate Monday with a court-ordered inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's email server, telling the State Department that they won't even confirm they are investigating the matter themselves, much less willing to tell the rest of the government what's going on.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had ordered the State Department to talk with the FBI and see what sort of information could be recovered from Mrs. Clinton's email server, which her lawyer has said she turned over to the Justice Department over the summer.
The FBI's refusal, however, leaves things muddled.
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''At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time,'' FBI General Counsel James A. Baker wrote in a letter dated Monday '-- a week after the deadline the Justice Department had set for the FBI to reply.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that is pursuing at least 16 open-records cases seeking emails from Mrs. Clinton and her top aides, said at this point it's not even clear what Mrs. Clinton provided, since all that's been made public at this point are the former secretary of state's public comments and some assertions, made through her lawyer, to the State Department.
Judicial Watch is prodding the courts to try to delve more deeply into Mrs. Clinton's emails, and the group said a number of questions persevere about both Mrs. Clinton and top aides such as Huma Abedin, who did public business on an account tied to the server Mrs. Clinton maintained.
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''We still do not know whether the FBI '' or any other government agency for that matter '' has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department,'' Judicial Watch said.
''We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI '' an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties '' is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist,'' the group said in its own court filingMonday afternoon.
Judicial Watch did release more than 50 pages Monday of emails it obtained from Ms. Abedin's account on Mrs. Clinton's server, and said it was clear she was talking about ''sensitive'' topics that shouldn't have been discussed on an insecure account.
Many of those were details of Mrs. Clinton's movements overseas, such as hotels she was staying at.
''These emails Judicial Watch forced out through a federal lawsuit show that Huma Abedin used her separate clintonemail.com account to conduct the most sensitive government business, endangering not only her safety but the safety of Hillary Clinton and countless others,'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
He questioned what reason Ms. Abedin '-- who did maintain an account, huma@clintonemail.com, on State.gov servers '-- would have for using the other account for important business. Mrs. Clinton said she kept only one account, the one on the clintonemail.com server, because it was more convenient, but that reasoning does not appear to apply to Ms. Abedin.
The State Department is making all of Mrs. Clinton's emails public under order of Judge Rudolph Contreras. But the department has said it won't make all of the emails public from Ms. Abedin or other top Clinton aides Cheryl Mills or Philippe Reines. Instead the department only plans to release those messages specifically requested in open-records demands.
Mrs. Clinton turned over about 30,000 email messages in December, while her aides turned over more than 100,000 pages between them, with the final set only being returned, by Ms. Abedin, earlier this month, the department said in court filings.
Without those documents in hand, the State Department has been unable to do full and complete searches in response to subpoenas, congressional inquiries or Freedom of Information Act requests.
Story Continues '†'
Kids with cancer and their parents ejected from park near White House - The Washington Post
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 20:52
(Update: Secret Service chief apologizes for how group of cancer-stricken kids was treated)
The U.S. Secret Service ordered hundreds of parents and their cancer-stricken children out of Lafayette Square on Saturday night, barricading the park for at least two hours and disrupting the group's plans for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness of and research funding for childhood cancer, participants said.
Some of the parents and children expressed hurt and disappointment that the Secret Service and Park Police, citing security precautions, virtually shut down part of a two-day event called CureFest for Childhood Cancer.
''We ended up waiting at the gates for two hours, and they never let us in,'' said Natasha Gould, an 11-year-old from Canada who started a blog after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this year. ''And to be clear, the entire crowd was half kids. I cried last night in my hotel room because it was my first CureFest, and I couldn't believe people were acting like they don't care about children.''
In a statement e-mailed late Sunday, Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the closures on Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park were ''put into place based on standard [Secret Service] protocols prior to protectee movements in the vicinity of the White House Complex.''
He added, ''The Secret Service would like to express its regret for not communicating more effectively with this group concerning the timeline for protectee movements in the vicinity of Lafayette Park.''
Organizers, aligned with the Truth 365 grass-roots child-cancer advocacy program, had obtained a permit to hold ''A Night of Golden Lights,'' in which participants would light electric candles.
But as the closure continued on, some of the sick children, fatigued by the wait or the need to receive medication, had to return to their hotel rooms, organizers said. Others began crying, and some parents became enraged. Attendees said the group of at least 700 people was not allowed access to personal items they left behind, such as chairs and blankets.
Police officers and agents on the scene told some parents that the closure was necessary because President Obama had left the White House from an entrance near the square to address the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual gala.
''At first, we were patient. I mean we're a peaceful community; we're fighting for kids' lives,'' said Anthony Stoddard of New Hampshire, who, after the death of his 5-year-old son, started an initiative to light public buildings in gold as a show of support for children who have cancer. ''But after about an hour, or hour and a half, it started getting a little angry, some of the fathers.''
Some parents considered the park closure excessive, perhaps driven by the agency's embarrassment over previous high-profile security lapses. Others read into it signs of a White House snub of their cause.
''I feel like this may be overcompensating for glaring errors that the Secret Service has made in past years. And again, we understand the need to keep our president safe. But we think a little consideration would have gone a long way,'' said organizer Michael Gillette, a documentary filmmaker from Fairfax City, Va. ''When we get shut out of the president's front yard, it's just disheartening.''
The candlelight vigil came about partly because of the group's inability to persuade the White House to light up the mansion in gold as a symbol of support for the cause, as it has done for other causes, organizers said. So they decided to hold a candlelight vigil of their own. Last year was the first.
The group had a permit to stage an event from 7 to 9 p.m., Stoddard said. They had already set up a stage for speakers and an acoustic musical performance, and welcoming music had started to play, when authorities ejected them.
''Police were telling a lot of people in our group to leave because it was so close to the road there was a traffic issue. It got really frustrating. No one was giving us answers about when we would get in. So finally, about 10:30, we gave up,'' Stoddard said. ''It was heartbreaking.''
Staff writer Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.
Our warmest summer (and almost definitely our warmest year) on-record, visualized - The Washington Post
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 19:18
January 2015 was the second-warmest January on record. That's according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculates relative temperatures by comparing measurements from a slew of monitors around the world to the baseline average temperatures of the 20th century. Januarys in the 20th century were, on average, 12 degrees Celsius across land and ocean surfaces. January 2015 was 12.77 degrees Celsius.
February 2015 was the second-warmest February on record. March was the warmest March. April was fourth-warmest April; May, the warmest May. June was the hottest June. July was the hottest July. August was the hottest August.
From January through August, here's how the world's temperatures compared to the averages. A few places, like the North Atlantic near Greenland, saw record-cold temperatures. Far more places saw record heat.
The year 2015, the NOAA announced last week, will almost certainly end up as the hottest year on record -- "almost certainly" meaning that there is a 97 percent chance of that happening.
The NOAA also provides data on global land and ocean surface temperatures relative to the 20th century average, all the way back to 1880. Over time, global temperatures have gotten warmer and warmer and warmer.
In the United States, which has not uniformly seen the same record temperatures as many other places in recent months, the warmest year on record was 2012.
The graph above doesn't, by itself, prove that the world is getting warmer in line with the predicted effects of climate change. But it certainly doesn't do anything to disprove that the world is getting warmer, either. Scientists predict that the presence of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere will trap heat and cause the Earth to get warmer. The Earth, with some regularity, is getting warmer, as the amount of those gases has increased.
On Thursday, the same day that the NOAA released its new data, a group of 11 members of the House Republican caucus advanced a resolution aimed at acknowledging climate change. The primary political debate centers on whether or not humans are responsible and whether it is economically prudent to work to combat the problem. The resolution addresses that latter point somewhat obliquely and mentions the human role in climate change only at the very end. It also seems unlikely to be adopted by the full House.
That despite being introduced in the warmest summer of the warmest year on record. The question at this point seems only to be the extent by which 2015 will pass the previous warmest global year on record.
That year, incidentally, was 2014.
Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.
Silver Prices to Soar? This New Major Buyer Thinks So
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:44
It's no secret silver prices are down and out. But play close attention to the basic fundamentals of supply and demand, and you'll discover the gray metal could be setting up investors for massive rewards.India Increases Silver Imports 48% Year-Over-YearAs it stands, we are seeing a new major buyer emerge in the silver market. India, the country with an appetite for gold, is buying a significant amount of the ''other'' precious metal.In August, $363.41 million worth of silver was imported into India. Last August, only $245.16 million worth of silver was imported into India. (Source: Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry, last accessed September 16, 2015.) This represents a year-over-year increase of 48%!Demand for silver elsewhere in the global economy is solid, too.So far this year, the U.S. Mint has already sold more than 34.3 million ounces of silver in American Eagle coins. (Source: U.S. Mint, last accessed September 16, 2015.) In the first nine months of 2014, the U.S. Mint sold 32.33 million ounces of silver in American Eagle coins. So, demand at the Mint is running roughly six percent higher this year than last year. But what is important to note here: back in July, the Mint halted its silver coin sales because it was sold out. Hence, this year's sales numbers are distorted.Silver Supply Side Getting CrushedWhen looking at the supply side, production is slumping.Take Canada, one of the world's major silver producers, for example. Year-to-date, silver mine production in Canada has declined by 20%. In the first seven months of 2014, silver production in Canada amounted to 287,857 kilograms. In the same period of 2015, this figure was 227,860 kilograms. (Source: Natural Resources Canada, last accessed September 16, 2015.)As silver prices started to fall from their peak in 2011, major silver producers started cutting back on their exploration and development budgets. I predicted this would happen simply because, as silver prices fell, mines that produced silver at over US$15.00 an ounce would need to be closed so they were not operating at a loss. Thus, a lot of production was taken off the table.Where Are Silver Prices Headed Next?In respect to silver prices, don't be too concerned about what happens on a daily basis. Pay attention to the fundamentals and have a long-term perspective.Personally, I expect silver prices to outperform many asset classes in the years ahead'--including gold. I say this because of the math. If silver moves 100% higher from current price levels, it only goes to $30.00 an ounce'--and silver has traded at that price many times before. For gold to go up 100%, it has to move to $2,400 an ounce'--a price it has never seen before.The chart below plots an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks silver miners. At the bottom of the chart, you will see silver prices plotted.Chart courtesy ofwww.StockCharts.comCompanies that mine silver have seen their stock prices fall in price at twice the rate silver prices have fallen. From their highs in early 2015, silver miners are down about 40%, while the price of silver is down only 20%.I see tremendous opportunity in the depressed prices of quality silver mining companies.
Time To Consider Nationalizing The Greedy Pharmaceutical Industry
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:44
Just look at how their prices drive up the cost of Medicare! We pay for the bulk of their research already:
Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.
The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
''What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?'' said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use ''alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.''
Turing's price increase is not an isolated example. While most of the attention on pharmaceutical prices has been on new drugs for diseases like cancer, hepatitis C and high cholesterol, there is also growing concern about huge price increases on older drugs, some of them generic, that have long been mainstays of treatment.
While some price increases have been caused by shortages, others have resulted from a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced ''specialty drugs.''
Cycloserine, a drug used to treat dangerous multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, was just increased in price to $10,800 for 30 pills from $500 after its acquisition by Rodelis Therapeutics. Scott Spencer, general manager of Rodelis, said the company needed to invest to make sure the supply of the drug remained reliable. He said the company provided the drug free to certain needy patients.
In August, two members of Congress investigating generic drug price increases wrote to Valeant Pharmaceuticals after that company acquired two heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, from Marathon Pharmaceuticals and promptly raised their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent respectively. Marathon itself had acquired the drugs from another company in 2013 and had quintupled their prices, according to the lawmakers, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland.
Daraprim Pyrimethamine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:44
Pyrimethamine (trade name Daraprim) is a medication used for protozoal infections. It is commonly used as an antimalarial drug (for both treatment and prevention of malaria), and when combined with the sulfonamide antibioticsulfadiazine) to treat Toxoplasma gondii infections in immunocompromised patients, such as HIV-positive individuals.
It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[1]
Medical uses[edit]Pyrimethamine is typically given with a sulfonamide and folinic acid:[2]
Sulfonamides inhibit dihydropteroate synthetase, an enzyme that participates in folic acid synthesis from para-aminobenzoic acid. Hence, sulfonamides work synergistically with pyrimethamine by blocking a different enzyme needed for folic acid synthesis.Folinic acid (leucovorin) is a folic acid derivative converted to tetrahydrofolate, the primary active form of folic acid, in vivo without relying on dihydrofolate reductase. Folinic acid reduces side effects related to folate deficiency in the patient.It is primarily active against Plasmodium falciparum, but also against Plasmodium vivax.[3] Due to the emergence of pyrimethamine-resistant strains of P. falciparum, pyrimethamine alone is seldom used now. In combination with a long-acting sulfonamide such as sulfadiazine, it is widely used, such as in Fansidar though resistance to this combination is increasing.[3] It has been used in the treatment of actinomycosis and isosporiasis, and for the treatment and prevention of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia.[citation needed]
In 2011, researchers discovered that pyrimethamine can increase Ÿ-hexosaminidase activity, thus potentially slowing down the progression of late-onset Tay''Sachs disease.[4] It is being evaluated in clinical trials as a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.[5]
Mechanism of resistance[edit]Resistance to pyrimethamine is widespread. Mutations in the malarial gene for dihydrofolate reductase may reduce its effectiveness.[6] These mutations decrease the binding affinity between pyrimethamine and dihydrofolate reductase via loss of hydrogen bonds and steric interactions.[7]
Side effects[edit]Pyrimethamine can cause a rash, and if higher doses are used (such as for toxoplasmosis), it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, dry mouth, weight loss, and diarrhoea, Central nervous system effects include headache, ataxia, and rarely seizures and haematologic side effects such as leucopenia and anaemia.[2]
Contraindications[edit]Pyrimethamine is contraindicated in patients with:[2]
Folate-deficiency anaemiaEpilepsyPregnancy, especially, during the first trimester due to the possible detrimental effects an antifolate such as pyrimethamine might have on organogenesisInteractions[edit]Other antifolate agents such as methotrexate and trimethoprim may potentiate the antifolate actions of pyrimethamine, leading to potential folate deficiency anaemia and other blood dyscrasias.[2]
Physicochemistry[edit]It is a white, colourless, crystalline powder and is practically insoluble in water and slightly soluble in ethanol, chloroform, and acetone.[3] It is unstable in the presence of air and light.[3] It is chemically a diaminopyrimidine derivative.[3]
Mechanism of action[edit]Pyrimethamine interferes with tetrahydrofolic acid synthesis from folic acid by inhibiting the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR).[8] Tetrahydrofolic acid is needed for DNA and RNA synthesis in many species, including protozoa.[8] It has also been found to reduce the expression of SOD1, a key protein involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.[9][10]
Synthesis[edit]Condensation of phenylacetonitrile with ethyl propionate in the presence of sodium ethoxide gives the cyanoketone (3). Treatment with diazomethane affords the methyl enol ether of that compound (4). Condensation with guanidine affords pyrimethamine (5).
Availability, price[edit]In the U.S. as of 2015, with the acquisition of Daraprim tablets by Turing Pharmaceuticals,[13] pyrimethamine has become a single-source and specialty pharmacy item, and the cost of pyrimethamine has increased.[14] The cost of a monthly course for a person on 75 mg rose to about $75,000/month, from $13/tablet to $833/tablet.[15] Outpatients can no longer obtain pyrimethamine from their community pharmacy, but only through a single dispensing pharmacy, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, and institutions can no longer order from their general wholesaler, but have to set up an account with the Daraprim Direct program.[14]
References[edit]^"WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines"(PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014. ^ abcdRossi, S, ed. (2013). Australian Medicines Handbook (2013 ed.). Adelaide: The Australian Medicines Handbook Unit Trust. ISBN 978-0-9805790-9-3. ^ abcdeBrayfield, A, ed. (13 December 2013). "Pyrimethamine". Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. Pharmaceutical Press. Retrieved 12 April 2014. ^Osher, E; Fattal-Valevski, A; Sagie, L; Urshanski, N; Amir-Levi, Y; Katzburg, S; Peleg, L; Lerman-Sagie, T; Zimran, A; Elstein, D; Navon, R; Stern, N; Valevski, A (March 2011). "Pyrimethamine increases β-hexosaminidase A activity in patients with Late Onset Tay Sachs.". Molecular Genetics and Metabolism102 (3): 356''63. doi:10.1016/j.ymgme.2010.11.163. PMID 21185210. ^"Pyrimethamine ALS trial". ^Gatton M.L. et al. (2004). "Evolution of resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in Plasmodium falciparum". Antimicrob Agents Chemother48 (6): 2116''23. doi:10.1128/AAC.48.6.2116-2123.2004. PMC 415611. PMID 15155209. ^Sirichaiwat C et al. (2004). "Target guided synthesis of 5-benzyl-2,4-diamonopyrimidines: their antimalarial activities and binding affinities to wild type and mutant dihydrofolate reductases from Plasmodium falciparum". J Med Chem47 (2): 345''54. doi:10.1021/jm0303352. PMID 14711307. ^ ab"PRODUCT INFORMATION DARAPRIM TABLETS". TGA eBusiness Services. Aspen Pharmacare Australia Pty Ltd. 5 December 2011. p. 1. Retrieved 12 April 2014. ^Limpert, AS; Mattmann, ME; Cosford, ND (2013). "Recent progress in the discovery of small molecules for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)."(PDF). Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry9: 717''32. doi:10.3762/bjoc.9.82. PMC 3678841. PMID 23766784. ^Lange, DJ; Andersen, PM; Remanan, R; Marklund, S; Benjamin, D (April 2013). "Pyrimethamine decreases levels of SOD1 in leukocytes and cerebrospinal fluid of ALS patients: a phase I pilot study.". Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Frontotemporal Degeneration14 (3): 199''204. doi:10.3109/17482968.2012.724074. PMID 22985433. ^Russell, P. B.; Hitchings, G. H. (1951). "2,4-Diaminopyrimidines as Antimalarials. III. 5-Aryl Derivatives". Journal of the American Chemical Society73 (8): 3763. doi:10.1021/ja01152a060. ^Logemann, W.; Almirante, L.; Caprio, L. (1954). "Studien in der heterocyclischen Reihe. I. Mitteil.: Eine neue Synthese der 2.4-Diamino-6-alkyl-5-aryl-pyrimidine ("Daraprim")". Chemische Berichte87 (3): 435. doi:10.1002/cber.19540870324. ^Turing Pharmaceuticals AG Turing Pharmaceuticals AG Acquires U.S. Marketing Rights to DARAPRIM® (pyrimethamine) 10 August 2015, PR Newswire Association LLC^ abMonica V. MahoneyNew Pyrimethamine Dispensing Program: What Pharmacists Should Know PharmacyTimes, July 17, 2015^Daraprim Prices, GoodRx, Inc. accessed 9 September 2015, quote: 60x 25 mg tablets varied between US$45,615.80 and US$49,226.25.External links[edit]
How plumbing (not vaccines) eradicated disease
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:41
Vaccines get all the glory, but most plumbers will tell you that it was water infrastructure - sewage systems and clean water - that eradicated disease, and they're right.Disease Before Plumbing
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans despised all things Roman, including bathing. There was a widespread belief that getting wet caused illness. This contempt and fear of bathing persisted through the Dark Ages.
Some Europeans defied local customs by bathing, but this was usually done over great protest. When Queen Elizabeth bathed, her servants panicked, fearing she would become ill and die.
This resistance to bathing was brought across the Atlantic to America, influencing habits all the way into the 1800s. In 1835, Philadelphia almost passed an ordinance forbidding wintertime bathing. Ten years later, Boston did outlaw bathing, except by medical directive. (Though this law was not widely enforced, it does illustrate the American resistance to bathing as late as the mid 1800s.)
How Plumbing Eradicated Disease
Before plumbing was widely used, indoor facilities consisted of a washstand and a washbowl, a pitcher, and a chamber pot or commode. Human waste was thrown into the street or anywhere convenient.
This total lack of sanitation in urban areas filled with rats and other vermin provided the perfect environment to spread disease. The Black Plague alone killed 75 million - 200 million people - including 1/3 of Europe's population. Though this disease is not entirely eradicated, human infection has become a rare occurrence. The last plague epidemic in America was in the early 1900's.
Polio and Plumbing
Polio thrives in fecal matter and is easily transmitted through human waste. Plumbing and water sanitation in India is way behind the rest of the industrialized world. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are good, polio is rare. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor, the disease can spread rapidly.
Immunization efforts have received a lot of publicity and have garnered most of the credit for India being declared "polio free" by the World Health Organization. As recently as 2009, India reported 762 cases of polio, and at that time, these numbers made India the polio capital of the world. In 2014, there are currently no "official" documented cases of polio, but without proper sanitation there is no way this can last.
A Polio Breeding Ground
India is the second most populous nation in the world, with an estimated population of 1.2 billion. Currently, 780 million Indians do not have a toilet; 96 million Indians do not have access to clean drinking water. In rural areas, open defecation is still more common than attempting to dispose of human waste in a more sanitary fashion, such as burying it.
There have been some efforts to improve sanitation, but they pale in comparison to the extensive efforts to vaccinate Indians. Over 9 billion has been spent in this vaccination public health campaign. In some parts of India, children have received as many as 30 doses of the oral polio vaccine before their fifth birthday. Bill Gates, the World Health Organization, and GAVI have ardently been pushing vaccines on people who still don't have access to clean drinking water or the sanitary means to dispose of human waste.
They Say Tomato, I say Tomatoe
The current polio vaccine campaign in India is highly controversial due to the high rate of vaccine injury and death. There were 53,000 cases of NPAFP, a non-polio acute flaccid paralysis, among those vaccinated. NPAFP is a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from polio and twice as deadly that is caused by the live, weakened, polio viruses in the vaccine. Incidences of the disease rose and fell with the number of doses of the vaccine administered. To call this disease anything other than polio is semantic subterfuge, a whitewash for Big Pharma's image.
In the past 13 months, India has reported 53,563 cases of NPAFP at a national rate of 12 per 100,000 children'--way above the global benchmark set by WHO of 2 per 100,000." - Jan, 13 2014 quote from LiveMint Newpaper, the second largest business newspaper in India.
It would be less expensive in human cost and far more effective to improve India's water infrastructure, improving India's sanitation and hygiene.London England and Cholera
In the 1800's the European infant mortality rate was very high, from 25% to 70%. In the early-to-mid 1800s, London had little in the way of water infrastructure. The majority of people used town pumps and communal wells to get their drinking water. Waste disposal was far from adequate. Most Londoners dumped raw sewage and animal wastes into open pits known as "cesspools" or directly into the Thames River. Unfortunately, the Thames River was also the source of drinking water for many Londoners.
Cholera spreads easily through contaminated water and food and kills very quickly; it often proves fatal within hours of the first symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea.
In 1854, yet another outbreak struck London, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Europeans. In Soho, a suburb of London, there were more than 500 fatal cases of cholera in ten days.
Dr. John Snow, who lived near Soho, was able to directly investigate what was causing the outbreak. Five years earlier, Dr. Snow had written an article about what he believed caused cholera. It was in the water, he argued. This idea flew in the face of the "wisdom" of his time. In the 1850s, doctors believed that bad vapors, or a "miasma in the atmosphere" caused disease. Dr. Snow dared to believe something different, to try something different, believing he might see different results.
Dr. John Snow Traced Cholera To Its Source
Dr. Snow traced the cholera outbreak to the Broad Street pump. He persuaded the town officials to remove the pump handle, and the cholera outbreak abruptly ended. Some time later, the outbreak was traced back to a woman cleaning a dirty diaper in the well.
Though it took some time, Dr. Snow convinced the authorities that fecal matter was contaminating the water supply. Today Dr. John Snow is widely regarded as the father of epidemiology.
Refugee Camps, Dysentery Epidemic, and Poor Sanitation
The Rwandan refugee camps set up in Zaire in 1994 struggled with outbreaks of dysentery. Sanitation was poor; the refugees defecated openly in common areas. Human waste built up in the same areas where the refugees drew water that was used for cooking and drinking. Heavy rain flooded the area and dysentery became epidemic, at its peak it was killing 2,000 people a day.
Refugee camps have always been a haven for diseases related to poor sanitation. Once U.S. and UN officials brought in purified water and encouraged people to use outhouses and latrines for defecation, the incidences of dysentery fell.
Chicago's Population Grew from 350 in 1835 to More than 60,000 by 1850
The industrial revolution drove rapid population growth. Chicago's water infrastructure wasn't designed to handle such a rapid rise in population. Chicago was dealing with many different diseases, but it had especially high rates of typhoid fever. The source of the rapid increase in disease was traced to the city's water and sanitation.
The majority of the city's sewage was directed to the Chicago River, which flowed right back into Lake Michigan, which provided the city's drinking water. This, of course, contaminated Chicago's drinking water and created a cycle of disease.
It took many years to solve the problem, but in the early 1900s Chicago modernized their water infrastructure. They reversed the flow of several rivers and streams, and as a result, typhoid fever and all other infectious diseases plummeted.
Conclusion
Sanitation prevents disease by removing the cause of disease transmission, but this is not new information. Moses taught sanitation. He made many rules for encampments. The Greeks and the Romans created elaborate systems of aqueducts, baths, and drainage. When the Roman Empire crumbled, sanitation became a lost art. Civilization paid the price: plague after plague struck areas of dense population.
Smallpox continued to infect Europe's population until plumbing infrastructure became commonplace. Although, sanitation ended this disease, the smallpox vaccine takes the credit.
When most of us think of a conscientious objector, we think of someone who refused military service for moral or religious reasons. In the 1800s, the term came into use for someone who refused vaccinations for their children. There was a great deal of resistance to the smallpox vaccine. Some statistics placed fatalities from the vaccine as high as 1 in 200.
In modern times, objections to vaccines are mounting. Refusing to vaccinate is as controversial today as it was when the first vaccines were forced on British citizens almost 200 years ago.Vaccines often contain toxins like aluminum and mercury, and many vaccines contain aborted fetal tissues. The reality of vaccine injury and death is making the news, though the propaganda and out and out lies from pharmaceutical companies cause a polarized division between those who are pro vaccine and those who are against.
If you are reading this, you probably have access to running water and a working toilet. If you choose to forego vaccines for yourself or your children, bear in mind that you will need additional protection to avoid contracting illnesses. Exercise, sleep, stress management, and a truly healthy diet are all essential for an immune system to work at optimal efficiency.
While the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical companies are quick to take credit for our increased life expectancy, in truth, they are not the heroes. Have you thanked a plumber lately?
If you're looking to increase your body's ability to protect itself against disease, check out Make Your Immune System Bulletproof with These Natural Remedies. Also, see How to How to Detoxify from Vaccinations & Heavy Metals.
Not a Joke '' Saudi Arabia Chosen to Head UN Human Rights Panel
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:29
The United Nations has been criticised for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role '' despite the country having ''arguably the worst record in the world'' on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.
Critics, including the wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi '' sentenced to 1,000 lashes for blogging about free speech '' labelled the appointment ''scandalous'', saying it meant ''oil trumps human rights''.
UN Watch, an independent campaigning NGO, revealed Mr Trad, Saudi Arabia's ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council.
As head of a five-strong group of diplomats, the influential role would give Mr Trad the power to select applicants from around the world for scores of expert roles in countries where the UN has a mandate on human rights.
Such experts are often described as the 'crown jewels' of the HRC, according to UN Watch, which has obtained official UN documents, dated 17 September, confirming the appointment.
The Saudis' bid emerged shortly after it posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners, to cope with what Amnesty International branded a ''macabre spike'' in the use of capital punishment, including beheadings, this year.
''Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women's rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,'' he said.
Of course, the Saudis seem to get away with everything. Including a key role in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. See:
Meanwhile, this is merely the latest embarrassment for the UN. Recall the post from earlier this month:
Finally, for several articles highlighting egregious Saudi human rights abuses, see:
Sanders Rips Ben Carson For Saying He Wouldn't Back A Muslim President, ''This Is The Year 2015!'''...
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:29
Via Salon:
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders lit into GOP hopeful Ben Carson for saying that he ''would not ever advocate putting a Muslim in charge of this nation.''
''This is the year 2015,'' Sanders told NBC News at a campaign field office in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
''For a long, long time in the history of America, there were people who would say, 'You know, we don't want a Catholic to be president of the United States.' And then John F. Kennedy became president in 1960,'' he explained.
''And then people said, 'Oh, we don't want a black guy '-- African American to be president of the United States,' and then finally Barack Obama became president of the United States,'' he continued.
''Look, you judge candidates for president not on their religion, not on the color of their skin, but on their ideas on what they stand for,'' Sanders concluded. ''That's what democracy is supposed to be about. So I was very disappointed in Dr. Carson's statement and I disagree with him.''
TEX PE. CODE ANN. § 46.08 : Texas Statutes - Section 46.08: HOAX BOMBS
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:28
(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
(1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or
(2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 4831, ch. 852, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Renumbered from Penal Code Sec. 46.09 by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.
The Daily Bell - Texas Police Are Alarmingly Sensitive
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:28
STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Texas Police Are Alarmingly Sensitive
By Philippe Gastonne - September 21, 2015
Earlier this week, school resource officers at MacArthur High School were notified by the Irving ISD officials about a student in possession of a suspicious device. The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb. School resource officers questioned the student about his intentions and the reasons why he brought the device to school. The student only would say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at that time about any other details.
Having no other information to go on, and taking into consideration the device's suspicious appearance and the safety of the students and staff at MacArthur High School, the student was taken into custody for possessing a hoax bomb. Under Texas law, a person is guilty of possessing a hoax bomb if he possesses a device that is intended to cause anyone to be alarmed or a reaction of any type by law enforcement officers.
Following standard procedure the student was handcuffed for his safety and for the safety of the officers and was transported to a juvenile processing area of the police station. Recognizing additional facts were required, the student was released to his parents, so further investigation could be completed. The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there is no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm. No charges will be filed and the case is considered closed. '' Irving (Tx) Police Department statement, Sept 16, 2015
Last week's much-publicized and completely unnecessary arrest of young Ahmed Mohamed brought to light an alarmingly (pun intended) broad Texas law against so-called "hoax bombs." The statute is an open invitation for police to detain anyone for anything.
In Texas, you are a criminal if you possess any device that causes "alarm or reaction of any type" by the police. By this standard, it is a crime to call the police on your telephone. Doing so will cause a police operator to hear a ring. As soon as he or she reacts to that ring by, say, answering it, you will be guilty.
The Irving Police Department's own statement reveals the macabre, Orwellian reactions of both school administrators and police in Ahmed's case.
"The student would only say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at the time about any other details."
Well, yes. That is because it was a clock. He had no other details to give.
"Following standard procedure the student was handcuffed for his safety and for the safety of the officers."
The concern for everyone's safety was laudable but limited. At no point did anyone call demolition experts to defuse the possible bomb. Why not? Because they could see the device was a clock, not a bomb.
"The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment."
This is false. Ahmed had already told everyone who would listen that it was a homemade experiment. The follow-up investigation revealed nothing new.
Fortunately, the police did not file charges against Ahmed. If they believe in equal justice, they will file charges against the school authorities.
Who brought in the police? School administrators. They realized the device was not dangerous. Otherwise, they would have evacuated the school. They called the police and caused alarm anyway, thereby violating the hoax bomb statute.
Ahmed Mohamed may have the last laugh. Everyone from President Obama to Mark Zuckerberg praised his invention and offered help.
The next person arrested under this ludicrous law may not be so lucky.
Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:26
Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.
The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
''What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?'' said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use ''alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.''
Turing's price increase is not an isolated example. While most of the attention on pharmaceutical prices has been on new drugs for diseases like cancer, hepatitis C and high cholesterol, there is also growing concern about huge price increases on older drugs, some of them generic, that have long been mainstays of treatment.
Although some price increases have been caused by shortages, others have resulted from a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced ''specialty drugs.''
Cycloserine, a drug used to treat dangerous multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, was just increased in price to $10,800 for 30 pills from $500 after its acquisition by Rodelis Therapeutics. Scott Spencer, general manager of Rodelis, said the company needed to invest to make sure the supply of the drug remained reliable. He said the company provided the drug free to certain needy patients.
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What is an ex-NSA Employee Doing at Uber?
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:25
One has to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say they have left the employ of an outfit like the National Security Agency (NSA), which seeks to know, well, almost everything about us.
Nonetheless, we note with interest this development: A former NSA employee has now joined the staff at Uber, the rapidly expanding '-- some might say exploding '-- provider of ride shares.
Perhaps the word ''exploding'' should be used advisedly: This ex-NSA fellow, Charlie Miller, made a name for himself recently when he and another man '-- Chris Valasek who, like Miller, also just joined Uber '-- demonstrated that they could mount a remote hack on an automobile, essentially take it over and, potentially, kill the driver.
At WhoWhatWhy, we've been especially interested in the potential threat from car hackers because of the mysterious death of journalist Michael Hastings, whose Mercedes suddenly sped up, left a straightaway, mounted a curb, plunged into a tree, and exploded, sending the engine flying a long distance, something engines aren't known to do.
We have no idea how Uber plans to use Miller's talents. Presumably the company has no particular reason to fear that the cars of its ''independent'' drivers would be hacked '-- though perhaps such a concern was indeed the reason for these hires.
In any case, one could certainly imagine how Miller's former employers might like to know more about where we all travel and who we are with.
At NSA, Miller was a ''global network exploitation specialist.'' Techopedia.com defines network exploitation as ''a technique through which computer networks are used to infiltrate target computers' networks to extract and gather intelligence data'....''
Edward Snowden gave us all a reason to start paying attention to the vast, darkness-enshrouded, ''national security'' apparatus. We would do well to try and learn more about the precise relationships between that apparatus and large corporations that play a growing role in our lives.
Related front page panorama photo credit: National Security Agency headquarters (NSA / Wikimedia), Charlie Miller (Alexander Klink / Wikimedia), UBER Launch Party (5chw4r7z / Flickr)
The post What is an ex-NSA Employee Doing at Uber? appeared first on WhoWhatWhy.
Internet Association Files Briefing In Support Of FCC's Net Neutrality Order
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:24
Beckerman: ''Internet companies and their users demand an open Internet, free of throttling, blocking, and other forms of discrimination online.''
Washington, DC '' Today, the Internet Association filed an Amicus Curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order. This is the first time the Internet Association has commented on the specifics of the final FCC Open Internet Order.
The brief argues that the FCC properly used its authority to adopt rules that protect an open Internet. In previous filings, the Internet Association has maintained that the FCC should use all of its authority to create rules that prevent paid prioritization, blocking, and other forms of discrimination online. The Internet should continue to be a place where Internet companies can compete on an even playing field, and users, not broadband providers, pick winners and losers.
''Internet companies and their users demand an open Internet, free of throttling, blocking, and other forms of discrimination online. The FCC created strong, enforceable rules that prevent gatekeepers from censoring the Internet, and the Order should be upheld by the Court,'' said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association.
In the brief, the Internet Association outlines why enforceable net neutrality rules are necessary to protect Internet users:
''ISPs have absolute control of the physical layer of their networks. That control, coupled with the fact that 'all end users generally access the Internet through a single broadband provider,' places them in the unique position of 'gatekeeper' with respect to edge providers that might seek to reach its end-user subscribers. This power 'distinguishes broadband providers from other participants in the Internet marketplace '... who have no similar 'control [over] access to the Internet for their subscribers and for anyone wishing to reach those subscribers.'''
The brief also highlights the increasing importance of mobile broadband and the need to apply the net neutrality order to mobile broadband because it ''is becoming a fundamental tool in bridging economic, educational, and social divides.'' With more people accessing the Internet through their mobile device now than ever before, the need to ensure the equal treatment of content via mobile broadband has never been more imperative.
''There is only one Internet. Users expect to get what they pay for '' access to an uncensored Internet regardless of how they connect,'' said Beckerman. ''The FCC Order correctly provides users on mobile broadband the same protections they expect connecting from their home or office. Upon reviewing the Order, we are encouraged that the FCC is also monitoring the points of interconnection that could be used to create a bottleneck that degrades a user's Internet connection,'' Beckerman concluded.
To view the brief, click here.
###
American "humanitarian interventions"
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:22
"According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, there are more than three million Syrian refugees in the Middle East. Inside Syria itself, over 17 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including those internally displaced. Only 350,000 Syrians are estimated to have travelled to Europe. They are the ones you see on television. In Iraq, some 1.8 million people were displaced between January and September 2014, a declared United Nations emergency, and Iraqis are currently the second-largest refugee group in the world." "The situation in Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere is much the same. There is a common denominator behind all of these refugee flows: they are, in whole or in part, the product of American "humanitarian interventions"."
Queen of England
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:22
"Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is worth £17 billion. Her investments in the arms trade include firms that produce the uranium used in depleted uranium shells."
UK has sold arms to 19 countries that the UN lists for grave violations against children
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:20
"In the last five years the UK has sold arms to 19 of the 23 countries that the UN lists for grave violations against children, or where child soldiers are used in conflict, despite the fact that the UN has told governments to ''expressly prohibit'' such sales. In Somalia the UN has documented the recruitment of 1293 child soldiers. Yet the country has received £6.7m of arms from the UK since 2010." "Many parts of the world still haemorrhage wealth to Europe, even as we believe we're "helping" them through our aid programmes. For example, it was recently calculated that governments and multinational companies are extorting $50 billion annually out of Africa, through schemes avoiding tax payments to some of the poorest companies of the world." (thanks Amir)
Why US media don't report when Syrian rebels kill children?
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:18
"At least 14 civilians, including seven children, were killed Sunday when rebels in Syria shelled a government-controlled neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo, the government and an activist group said." "The rebel coalition, known as the Army of Conquest alliance, includes Syria's al-Qaida branch, the Nusra Front, and the extremist Jund al-Aqsa group, and is backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia."
Syriza voted back into office amid mass abstention in Greek election
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:37
Posted on September 21, 2015 by willyloman
by Bill Van Aukin, from the WSWS
'... In Sunday's election, a clear plurality, 45.2 percent of the Greek electorate voted with their feet, staying away from the polls in record numbers. This figure, a 9 percent increase in abstentions over last January, is all the more significant in a country where voting is compulsory.
The record low turnout Sunday was a clear expression of the mounting alienation of the masses of working people from the entire political setup in Greece, from the old, discredited and diminished parties that dominated Greece over the previous four decades'--New Democracy (ND) and PASOK'--to the new and supposedly ''left'' Syriza.
What emerges most clearly from Sunday's vote is that none of the political parties can present themselves as a credible opponent of austerity. Not one of them can give political expression to the popular will of Greek working people, clearly expressed in the July referendum, to conduct a fight against the capitalist system that is responsible for the mass unemployment and mass impoverishment that have been imposed over the past five years.
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Filed under: Alexis Tsipras, Globalization, Greek Elections 2015, Greek referendum, Neoliberalizing Greece, Syriza
Business As Usual Triumphs in Greek Election
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:37
by Steven Lendman
It's all over but the postmortems. Western bankers, large investors and other corporate interests triumphed on Sunday as expected '' over fairness, equity and justice.
Greece remains Troika occupied territory, its sovereignty and soul lost, its people assured of greater suffering than already, its economy strip-mined for profit, its deplorable status the future of Europe and America, headed toward becoming thirdworldized ruler-serf societies unfit to live in.SRYIZA retained power by a larger than expected margin '' with nearly all votes counted, achieving a 7.4% margin over New Democracy (35.5% to 28.1%).
It'll hold 145 seats in the 300 member parliament, majority control easily within reach with a coalition partner, likely Independent Greeks like before, expected to be announced on Monday or early in the week.
The Wall Street Journal said SRYIZA's victory ''confounded opinion polls (suggesting) a much closer race, and possibly even a defeat for Mr. Tsipras' party.''
A record low turnout at less than 55% showed popular disgust with business as usual. SRYIZA effectively got 20% support from the electorate, far from a mandate, a stinging disapproval, showing popular opposition to its policies.
Alexis Tsipras lied claiming otherwise, saying ''(t)he Greek people have given us a clear mandate to discard whatever kept us stuck in the past. It's a crystal clear mandate to escape from the old, corrupt establishment that governed this country for so many years.''
He's part of the same ugly system '' pro-business, anti-populist, pretending to be otherwise, committed to harsher austerity than his predecessors, dismissive of millions of suffering Greeks, their needs and rights ignored so bankers and other corporate predators can profit from their misery.
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Filed under: Alexis Tsipras, Globalization, Greek Elections 2015, Greek referendum, Neoliberalizing Greece, Syriza
U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies - NYTimes.com
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:49
KABUL, Afghanistan '-- In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.
''At night we can hear them screaming, but we're not allowed to do anything about it,'' the Marine's father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. ''My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it's their culture.''
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ''boy play,'' and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene '-- in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages '-- and doing little when they began abusing children.
''The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,'' said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. ''But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did '-- that was something village elders voiced to me.''
The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.
After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military.
Four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the commander.
''The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),'' Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who hopes to save Sergeant Martland's career, wrote last week to the Pentagon's inspector general.
In Sergeant Martland's case, the Army said it could not comment because of the Privacy Act.
When asked about American military policy, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote in an email: ''Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.'' He added that ''there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.'' An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.
The American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban. It also reflects a reluctance to impose cultural values in a country where pederasty is rife, particularly among powerful men, for whom being surrounded by young teenagers can be a mark of social status.
Some soldiers believed that the policy made sense, even if they were personally distressed at the sexual predation they witnessed or heard about.
''The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban,'' a former Marine lance corporal reflected. ''It wasn't to stop molestation.''
Still, the former lance corporal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending fellow Marines, recalled feeling sickened the day he entered a room on a base and saw three or four men lying on the floor with children between them. ''I'm not a hundred percent sure what was happening under the sheet, but I have a pretty good idea of what was going on,'' he said.
But the American policy of treating child sexual abuse as a cultural issue has often alienated the villages whose children are being preyed upon. The pitfalls of the policy emerged clearly as American Special Forces soldiers began to form Afghan Local Police militias to hold villages that American forces had retaken from the Taliban in 2010 and 2011.
By the summer of 2011, Captain Quinn and Sergeant Martland, both Green Berets on their second tour in northern Kunduz Province, began to receive dire complaints about the Afghan Local Police units they were training and supporting.
First, they were told, one of the militia commanders raped a 14- or 15-year-old girl whom he had spotted working in the fields. Captain Quinn informed the provincial police chief, who soon levied punishment. ''He got one day in jail, and then she was forced to marry him,'' Mr. Quinn said.
When he asked a superior officer what more he could do, he was told that he had done well to bring it up with local officials but that there was nothing else to be done. ''We're being praised for doing the right thing, and a guy just got away with raping a 14-year-old girl,'' Mr. Quinn said.
Village elders grew more upset at the predatory behavior of American-backed commanders. After each case, Captain Quinn would gather the Afghan commanders and lecture them on human rights.
Soon another commander absconded with his men's wages. Mr. Quinn said he later heard that the commander had spent the money on dancing boys. Another commander murdered his 12-year-old daughter in a so-called honor killing for having kissed a boy. ''There were no repercussions,'' Mr. Quinn recalled.
In September 2011, an Afghan woman, visibly bruised, showed up at an American base with her son, who was limping. One of the Afghan police commanders in the area, Abdul Rahman, had abducted the boy and forced him to become a sex slave, chained to his bed, the woman explained. When she sought her son's return, she herself was beaten. Her son had eventually been released, but she was afraid it would happen again, she told the Americans on the base.
She explained that because ''her son was such a good-looking kid, he was a status symbol'' coveted by local commanders, recalled Mr. Quinn, who did not speak to the woman directly but was told about her visit when he returned to the base from a mission later that day.
So Captain Quinn summoned Abdul Rahman and confronted him about what he had done. The police commander acknowledged that it was true, but brushed it off. When the American officer began to lecture about ''how you are held to a higher standard if you are working with U.S. forces, and people expect more of you,'' the commander began to laugh.
''I picked him up and threw him onto the ground,'' Mr. Quinn said. Sergeant Martland joined in, he said. ''I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated,'' Mr. Quinn recalled.
There is disagreement over the extent of the commander's injuries. Mr. Quinn said they were not serious, which was corroborated by an Afghan official who saw the commander afterward.
(The commander, Abdul Rahman, was killed two years ago in a Taliban ambush. His brother said in an interview that his brother had never raped the boy, but was the victim of a false accusation engineered by his enemies.)
Sergeant Martland, who received a Bronze Star for valor for his actions during a Taliban ambush, wrote in a letter to the Army this year that he and Mr. Quinn ''felt that morally we could no longer stand by and allow our A.L.P. to commit atrocities,'' referring to the Afghan Local Police.
The father of Lance Corporal Buckley believes the policy of looking away from sexual abuse was a factor in his son's death, and he has filed a lawsuit to press the Marine Corps for more information about it.
Lance Corporal Buckley and two other Marines were killed in 2012 by one of a large entourage of boys living at their base with an Afghan police commander named Sarwar Jan.
Mr. Jan had long had a bad reputation; in 2010, two Marine officers managed to persuade the Afghan authorities to arrest him following a litany of abuses, including corruption, support for the Taliban and child abduction. But just two years later, the police commander was back with a different unit, working at Lance Corporal Buckley's post, Forward Operating Base Delhi, in Helmand Province.
Lance Corporal Buckley had noticed that a large entourage of ''tea boys'' '-- domestic servants who are sometimes pressed into sexual slavery '-- had arrived with Mr. Jan and moved into the same barracks, one floor below the Marines. He told his father about it during his final call home.
Word of Mr. Jan's new position also reached the Marine officers who had gotten him arrested in 2010. One of them, Maj. Jason Brezler, dashed out an email to Marine officers at F.O.B. Delhi, warning them about Mr. Jan and attaching a dossier about him.
The warning was never heeded. About two weeks later, one of the older boys with Mr. Jan '-- around 17 years old '-- grabbed a rifle and killed Lance Corporal Buckley and the other Marines.
Lance Corporal Buckley's father still agonizes about whether the killing occurred because of the sexual abuse by an American ally. ''As far as the young boys are concerned, the Marines are allowing it to happen and so they're guilty by association,'' Mr. Buckley said. ''They don't know our Marines are sick to their stomachs.''
The one American service member who was punished in the investigation that followed was Major Brezler, who had sent the email warning about Mr. Jan, his lawyers said. In one of Major Brezler's hearings, Marine Corps lawyers warned that information about the police commander's penchant for abusing boys might be classified. The Marine Corps has initiated proceedings to discharge Major Brezler.
Mr. Jan appears to have moved on, to a higher-ranking police command in the same province. In an interview, he denied keeping boys as sex slaves or having any relationship with the boy who killed the three Marines. ''No, it's all untrue,'' Mr. Jan said. But people who know him say he still suffers from ''a toothache problem,'' a euphemism here for child sexual abuse.
Tech Community Grieves Over The Death Of White House Tech Advisor Jake Brewer | TechCrunch
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:47
Jake Brewer, an avid cyclist and a senior policy advisor to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, passed away during a charity bike ride this weekend.
Brewer, 34, of Alexandria, died Saturday afternoon when his bicycle went out of control at a sharp curve while on a two-day, 150-mile bike ride to cure cancer, the Washington Post reported.
Brewer worked on several tech initiatives and recently on the White House Demo Day. He led global policy, external affairs, and new product development for Change.org before joining the Obama administration.
''We set out to recruit the best of the best to join their government and help us harness the power of technology and data to innovate new solutions for the 21st century. Simply put, Jake was one of the best,'' wrote President Obama in a statement Sunday.
Many in the tech community and those who worked closely with Brewer have tweeted their condolences.
Brewer's wife Mary Katharine Ham also posted an emotional message about the tragedy on her Instagram:
We lost our Jake yesterday, and I lost part of my heart and the father of my sweet babies. I don't have to tell most of you how wonderful he was. It was self-evident. His life was his testimony, and it was powerful and tender and fierce, with an ever-present twinkle in the eye. I will miss him forever, even more than I can know right now. No arms can be her father's, but my daughter is surrounded by her very favorite people and all the hugs she could imagine. This will change us, but with prayer and love and the strength that is their companion, we can hope our heartache is not in vain'' that it will change us and the world in beautiful ways, just as he did. If that sounds too optimistic at this time, it's because it is. But there was no thought too optimistic for Jake, so take it and run with it. I will strive and pray not to feel I was cheated of many years with him, but cherish the gift of the years I had. In a life where nothing is guaranteed, Jake made the absolute, ever-lovin' most of his time with all of us. This is a family picture we took a couple weeks ago. It was taken because Jake, as always, was ready with a camera and his immense talent. All four members of our little, growing family are in it. I can never be without him because these babies are half him. They are made of some of the strongest, kindest stuff God had to offer this world. Please pray that he can see us and we'll all make him proud. God, I love him. Psalm 34:18, Philippians 1:3
A photo posted by Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammertime) on Sep 20, 2015 at 7:25am PDT
Brewer is survived by his wife and young daughter. Family and friends launched a GoFundMe memorial project to create an educational fund in his honor.
Teen prosecuted as adult for having naked images '' of himself '' on phone | US news | The Guardian
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:40
North Carolina teens are facing legal trouble over their naked selfies. Photograph: Alamy
A teenage boy in North Carolina has been prosecuted for having nude pictures of himself on his own mobile phone. The young man, who is now 17 but was 16 at the time the photos were discovered, had to strike a plea deal to avoid potentially going to jail and being registered as a sex offender.
Experts condemned the case as ludicrous. The boy was, however, punished by the courts, and had to agree to be subject to warrantless searches by law enforcement for a year, in addition to other penalties.
The young man was also named in the media and suffered a suspension as quarterback of his high school football team while the case was being resolved.
Cormega Copening, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was prosecuted as an adult under federal child pornography felony laws, for sexually exploiting a minor. The minor was himself.
''It's dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,'' said Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin and co-founder of the research website cyberbullying.org.
Related:Houston teenager fatally shoots himself while taking a selfie with a gun
Copening was charged with four counts of making and possessing images of himself and one count of possessing a naked image of his 16-year-old girlfriend.
His girlfriend, Brianna Denson, took a plea deal after being prosecuted on similar charges for having naked, suggestive pictures of herself on her cellphone.
While the pictures were technically illegal, actual sex would not be '' the age of consent for sexual intercourse in North Carolina is 16.
The pictures were discovered on Copening's phone when authorities were investigating a wider problem of sexual images allegedly being shared at school without the permission of the subjects involved. Copening turned out not to be involved in that case.
He was prosecuted for having his own and his girlfriend's image, despite them not having been shared further.
Copening and Denson's court cases were ostensibly about ''sexting'' '' the sending of sexually explicit material by text message '' but the main charges related to them making and keeping their own images.
Related:Boy, 14, added to police database after sexting female classmate naked image
In most states, these crimes are technically on the books but are not typically used to prosecute similarly aged teenage lovers under 18 who have shared images only with each other consensually, Patchin said.
Patchin said he and other experts in the field had discussed this case and had heard of ''zero examples'' of under-18s being charged for having their own naked selfie in their phone.
''Kids should not be charged for that,'' he said. ''And you don't want kids to be sending such pictures to their significant others, but I don't think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.''
The legal bind came because the two were over 16 and so could be charged as adults in North Carolina, as is common with some felonies '' but the crimes they were being charged with related to laws against sexually exploiting minors.
Each was therefore simultaneously the adult perpetrator who is considered a predator and the minor victim who needs protecting by the law.
''It's ludicrous,'' said Fred Lane, a computer security and privacy expert and author of the book Cybertraps for Educators, based in New York. ''It's crazy. It's an overreach.
''This goes back to the supreme court making child pornography unconstitutional in 1983 and each state legislating in line with that for the public good '' in order to protect children from adults producing, possessing or distributing nude images of them.
''But that was before anyone thought kids would be making and sending nude photos of themselves with publicly available digital technology.''
The federal child abuse image felony laws apply to every state. But 20 states have enacted legislation, often nicknamed Romeo and Juliet laws, to avoid prosecuting teenagers who exchange naked pictures with each other as a couple where there is no exploitation.
Even so, in many states it is still a misdemeanor offence; in others it is a so-called informal offense, where the teens are obliged to submit to ''diversion'' education about making responsible choices.
In the other 30 states there is no ''sexting'' rule to mitigate the child abuse image laws as they apply to teenage lovers consensually exchanging images purely within their relationship, or possessing nude selfies individually. In Fayetteville, the authorities decided to lay down the law.
''There are about 10 or 12 mostly conservative states where they will prosecute kids for this,'' said Lane, ''and it's a kind of moral values thing '' they are trying to make an example of them because it's believed to be inappropriate behaviour.
''There is a streak of moralizing that runs through this country that is disturbing sometimes.''
Related:Why a police record for sexting teen? | Helen Lewis
In July, Denson took a plea deal and admitted a misdemeanour. Felony charges were dropped. She was put on probation for a year, technically for exploiting herself by making and having a naked image of herself.
She was ordered to pay $200 in court costs, stay in school, refrain from using illegal drugs and alcohol, take a class in making good decisions and do 30 hours of community services. She will not be allowed to have a cellphone for a year.
In September, Copening took a similar plea deal. If both comply with the terms of their deals, then their records will be wiped after a year.
Jeff Temple, a psychology expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch, has conducted research suggesting that 30% of teens ''sext'' each other. He called for ''common sense'' from the authorities.
Temple said that if states used their laws literally, ''tens of thousands of kids would be in jail and registered as sex offenders''.
Carly Fiorina 2016: Why I Still Think Carly Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO - POLITICO Magazine
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 03:24
As a professor, hearing my name once, let alone twice, before 25 million TV viewers in an historic U.S. presidential debate is a surreal experience. ''The head of the Yale business school, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, wrote a paper recently,'' Donald Trump proclaimed in his attack on Carly Fiorina's business record, ''one of the worst tenures for a CEO that he has ever seen.'' Immediately, the phones started ringing, text messages dinging, emails beeping'--notes from thrilled old students, proud colleagues, teasing friends, pleased former teachers, curious clients, and my own immediate family in shared, flushed, utter shock. So used to being identified before large audiences as Jerry Seinfeld, I'll admit that I was surprised to hear my name pronounced correctly. But it was a bit traumatic to hear my professional title, professor and senior associate dean, blurred a bit too closely with that of my widely admired boss, who is the actual dean of the Yale School of Management. Last week on CBS's ''Face the Nation,'' Trump identified me as dean of the Yale Law School. When he makes me dean of the medical school, it will be very sad my mom is no longer around to share the joy. (Importantly, my perspective is my own, independent of any Yale affiliation.)
Trump did get something right, though: my criticism of Carly Fiorina's disastrous term as CEO of Hewlett Packard.
As Fiorina admits, I have been critical of her for over a decade'--long before she announced her political aspirations. I have studied her business record, challenged her leadership abilities and have come to agree with the assessment that she was one of the worst technology CEOs in history. I stand by that evaluation.
Fiorina can attack me all she wants, as she did when she called me ''a well-known Clintonite'' (an absurd allegation I'll get to later) who ''had it out for me from the moment that I arrived at Hewlett Packard.'' But no amount of one-liners to Trump, weekend study of Middle Eastern names or ad hominen attacks on a university professor can take someone from gross business leadership failure to leader of the free world. To do that, she'll have to own up to her missteps and try to learn from them'--which she seems disinclined to do.
Here are the facts: In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett Packard, the company lost over half its value. It's true that many tech companies had trouble during this period of the Internet bubble collapse, some falling in value as much as 27 percent; but HP under Fiorina fell 55 percent. During those years, stocks in companies like Apple and Dell rose. Google went public, and Facebook was launched. The S&P 500 yardstick on major U.S. firms showed only a 7 percent drop. Plenty good was happening in U.S. industry and in technology.
It was Fiorina's failed leadership that brought her company down. After an unsuccessful attempt to catch up to IBM's growth in IT services by buying PricewaterhouseCooper's consulting business (PwC, ironically, ended up going to IBM instead), she abruptly abandoned the strategic goal of expanding IT services and consulting and moved into heavy metal. At a time that devices had become a low margin commodity business, Fiorina bought for $25 billion the dying Compaq computer company, which was composed of other failed businesses. Unsurprisingly, the Compaq deal never generated the profits Fiorina hoped for, and HP's stock price fell by half. The only stock pop under Fiorina's reign was the 7 percent jump the moment she was fired following a unanimous board vote. After the firing, HP shuttered or sold virtually all Fiorina had bought.
During the debate, Fiorina countered that she wasn't a failure because she doubled revenues. That's an empty measurement. What good is doubling revenue by acquiring a huge company if you're not making any profit from it? The goals of business are to raise profits, increase employment and add value. During Fiorina's tenure, thanks to the Compaq deal, profits fell, employees were laid off and value plummeted. Fiorina was paid over $100 million for this accomplishment.
At the time, most industry analysts, HP shareholders, HP employees and even some HP board members resisted the Compaq deal. (Fiorina prevailed in the proxy battle, with 51.4 percent, partly thanks to ethically questionable tactics, but that's another story.) But rather than listen to the concerns of her opponents, she ridiculed them, equating dissent with disloyalty. As we saw during the debate when she attacked me, rather than listen to or learn from critics, Fiorina disparages them. She did so regularly to platoons of her own top lieutenants and even her board of directors'--until they fired her.
These facts have been documented, both with quotes from her own board members and leadership team and with raw numbers in such revered publications as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and leading tech industry journals. I also have extensive first-hand knowledge of this situation, having spoken at length with two of Fiorina's successors, past and present HP board members, fellow CEOs and scores of HP employees'--including many of her own top lieutenants who contacted me directly, such as her head of employee relations.
And I have to point out the obvious: If the board was wrong, the employees wrong, and the shareholders wrong'--as Fiorina maintains'--why in 10 years has she never been offered another public company to run?
Now, Fiorina wants to run the country. I am a firm believer in second chances. Just because Fiorina failed at an early career does not preclude her from becoming a good leader later. But I do know, having written a book on how great leaders rebound after career disasters, that to overcome failure is to admit to it and learn from it. During the debate, instead of addressing the facts and taking on my professional observations, Fiorina decided to shoot the messenger. What she failed to see is that this behavior'--sidestepping accountability by resorting to demagoguery and deflection'--is exactly why she failed as a leader the last time.
Fiorina is clever and articulate, but during events like last week's debate, it's clear that she seems to have learned very little from her reign as a tech chief. On the campaign trail as in business, she still displays four key leadership flaws:
1. She refuses to learn from failure. Properly mastered, failure is a badge of honor for heroic leadership. People like Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, Anne Mulcahy of Xerox and Ellen Kullman of DuPont have all faced crushing adversity an rebounded from it. Walt Disney, Henry Ford and four U.S. presidents'--Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jefferson and William McKinley'--all suffered bankruptcies. The difference between these people and Fiorina is that they all acknowledged their failures and learned from them, providing us with inspiring models of resilience. Fiorina thinks she can sweep obvious public facts of failure under the carpet. But what she doesn't see is that talking about failure makes you stronger; hiding it makes you weaker. Fiorina's denials inspire no one.
2. She plays fast and loose with highly misleading metrics, changing the goal posts by manipulating peer comparisons. Fiorina brags that she doubled revenues'--but she cut value in half. She talks about doubling employment at HP when all she did was combine the employment of two huge firms'--and then lay off 30,000 employees. She presents her story as rags to riches saga, from secretary to CEO, when in fact she is the daughter of a Duke University Law School dean and a federal Appeals Court judge. She just worked for a few months as a receptionist after dropping out of UCLA law school.
3. She makes irresponsible decisions. At HP, Fiorina abruptly pivoted from a strategy of chasing IT services to a splashier, but less sound strategy of ramping up in device manufacturing. While her predecessor, revered HP CEO Lew Platt, traveled coach in commercial planes, she demanded the company buy her a Gulfstream IV. More recently, her service on the Taiwan Semiconductor board indicates continued irresponsibility. Financial disclosures at the time Fiorina left the board in 2009 show that she attended just 17 percent of the company's board meetings.
4. She is intolerant of dissent and resorts to personal attacks. Rather than address the points made by her critics'--she elects to attack their character with false information, shifting the spotlight away from her. And, as much as she laid into Trump for his comments about her face, she has been known to be a queen of personal invective'--even when it comes to physical appearance. She once ridiculed the music interests and appearance of a dissenting board member Walter Hewitt, son of HP's co-founder'--as well as the allegedly dowdy look of rival Senate candidate Barbara Boxer.
Now, as for Fiorina's specific charge that I am a close adviser of the Clintons (a charge she repeated about me by name on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' recently), that is false. I am a leadership scholar and impartial in my leadership reviews. I vote for the person, not the party. I have had private meetings with four current Republican presidential candidates for private exchanges of ideas'--at their request'--pro bono, two of them in just the past 10 days.
I have never been part of any Clinton advisory group. I have personally known four U.S. presidents across parties'--including Bill Clinton and the Bushes'--and been the houseguest of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara on several occasions for small private non-political events. I have given unsolicited opinions to Bill Clinton while taking long runs with him, which we both needed. Once in 1994, I suggested to Clinton that he host regional economic summits, and he did so. I have known the Clintons as fellow participants in large recreational, non-political, intellectual/spiritual retreats where my fellow guests included prominent Republicans such as Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard.
My own CEO programs, including one just last week, hosted such Republican political titans and patriots as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, political strategist Ralph Reed and taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist.
If the Republican Party seeks great women leaders with proven track records of accomplishment and character for national office, I could recommend many, including New Hampshire's Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski and, especially, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. But Fiorina is not one of them. Her unacknowledged record of failure and intolerant, no-dissent ''my way or the highway'' leadership style might better fit high office in China or Russia'--or on ''The Apprentice'' for that matter.
I love a good comeback. I've devoted my professional life to showing that comebacks and second acts can be positive and successful. But I also know that they must be earned. In order to overcome her business past, Fiorina must acknowledge her setbacks and show the American people what she has learned. She needs to display contrition'--and earn redemption.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is senior associate dean of Leadership Studies and Lester Crown Professor of Practice Management at the Yale School of Management, as well as author ofThe Hero's Farewell: What Happens When CEOs Retire(Oxford University Press) and co-author ofFiring Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters(Harvard Business School Press). The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Yale University.
VIDEO-CLIPS-DOCS
VIDE0-Genova, allarme bomba a stazione: evacuato palazzo e treni bloccati. Ma dentro pentola c'era minestrone - Il Fatto Quotidiano
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:55
L'allarme, poi rientrato, ¨ scattato dopo una telefonata anonima. Gli artificieri hanno utilizzato una mini carica per far brillare il presunto ordigno trovato vicino i binari di Piazza Principe
di F. Q. | 23 settembre 2015Treni in ritardo e un intero palazzo evacuato per una sospetta bomba trovata non lontano alla stazione Principe di Genova. Dopo una telefonata anonima, le forze dell'ordine hanno trovato una pentola a pressione sistemata vicino ai binari. Subito ¨ scattato l'allarme. Sul posto sono arrivati gli artificieri che dentro la pentola a pressione hanno trovato i resti di un minestrone. Le operazioni sono durate una decina di minuti, come previsto. Gli agenti hanno messo una micro carica sulla valvola del coperchio e l'hanno fatta brillare.
Per precauzione la circolazione su uno dei due binari che collegano la stazione e Sampierdarena ¨ stata interrotta e per questo si registrano forti rallentamenti. Mentre ¨ stato evacuato un palazzo di via dei Fassolo, nei pressi della stazione. Nell'edificio abitano circa 40 persone. Per consentire le operazioni degli artificieri sono stati disattivati acqua, luce e gas. Interdetta anche la circolazione nella via del palazzo e in via Buozzi.
La circolazione ferroviaria ¨ ripresa alle 18.50, dopo il nulla osta della Prefettura. I treni regionali e a media-lunga percorrenza hanno registrato ritardi fino a un'ora, limitazioni di percorso o cancellazioni.
CronacaGenova, ok a nuova sede di Ingegneria: ma sar lontanissima dal centro. Rettore: ''Non ci hanno dato alternative''>>
CronacaMilano, ''le tue scarpe puzzano'': 19enne reagisce e tenta di uccidere il coinquilino
VIDEO-Chris Hayes Suggests Guy Who Told Trump Obama a Muslim Might Have Been a Plant | MRCTV
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 07:33
Maybe next week, Chris Hayes will share his views on Area 51, whether fire can melt steel and if the moon landing was faked . . .
On his MSNBC show this evening, Hayes floated the notion that the guy who told Donald Trump that President Obama is a Muslim was a plant. According to Chris, although the moment seemed to have happened "organically" [yes, but was it free range?], "who knows?" Proclaimed Chris: "until they find the guy I'm going to reserve judgment on the origins of the question."
VIDEO-CAIR to Carson: Withdraw from Presidential Race Over Islam Remarks | MRCTV
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 07:05
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director Nihad Awad called Monday for Ben Carson to withdraw from the 2016 presidential campaign after the Republican retired neurosurgeon said Islam was not consistent with the U.S. Constitution and that he would ''absolutely not'' advocate having a Muslim in the White House.
VIDEO-Nets Use Drug Price Hike to Hail Hillary's Campaign Agenda | MRCTV
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:45
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
All three broadcast networks Tuesday morning seized on a pharmaceutical company hiking the price of a prescription drug in order to promote Hillary Clinton's call for new government regulation of the industry. At the top of NBC's Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: ''5,000% hike?! The young drug company CEO under fire for raising the cost of a life-saving pill overnight....The controversial decision making it all the way to the campaign trail.''
A soundbite ran of Clinton declaring: ''Nobody in America should have to choose between buying the medicine they need and paying their rent.'' Guthrie added: ''How that CEO has become a pariah and thrust the battle over prescriptions and price-gouging into the spotlight.''
VIDEO-Gen. Petraeus to Congress: Syria is a 'Geo-Political Chernobyl' | MRCTV
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:35
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Petraeus to Congress: Syria Is a 'Geo-Political Chernobyl ... Like a Nuclear Disaster'See More at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/petraeus-congress-syria-geo-political-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster
VIDEO-ABC's WNT, CBS EN Punt on FBI Finding Lost Hillary E-Mails; CBS Skips 2016 All Together | MRCTV
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:54
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
On Wednesday evening, ABC and CBS moved on from the latest break in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal as it was revealed that the FBI has been able to recover an unknown number of previously deleted personal and work e-mails from Clinton's private e-mail server from when she was secretary of state.
Partnered with that was a second omission on Wednesday as the CBS Evening News completely ignored the 2016 presidential campaign to instead give a full segment to the five-year-old girl from California who met Pope Francis to express concern for her illegal immigrant parents.
VIDEO-Craze over teen clockmaker from Irving shifts from celebrity to conspiracy | Dallas Morning News
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:03
Conspiracy theories about Ahmed Mohamed are spreading nearly as fast as the boy's celebrity.
A week after police called a homemade clock that Ahmed brought to school a ''hoax bomb,'' then dropped the charge, viral posts have called the 14-year-old everything from a fraudulent inventor to an Islamist plant who planned all along to get himself handcuffed.
Most of these theories cite no evidence, many contradict each other and some clash with known facts '-- like a statement from Irving City Hall that the MacArthur High freshman never intended to frighten anyone with his circuit-stuffed pencil case.
Yet rumors of a sinister plot are moving into the mainstream, intersecting with celebrities like Richard Dawkins and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
''My theory: For some reason Irving is important to the Islamists,'' former Fox News host Glenn Beck told Irving's mayor in a televised interview posted Tuesday. ''And you've pissed them off, and now this is a dog whistle.''
From the couch beside him, Mayor Beth Van Duyne laughed, grinned and looked down. Before Irving became a symbol of Islamophobia to Ahmed's supporters across the world, the mayor had spent the summer giving speeches that cast suspicion on Muslims in the United States.
Beck pressed the mayor about his theory. ''It is a possibility that that's true?''
''It's nothing I want to have to face,'' Van Duyne replied. ''I would hate to think that that's true.''
She sat mostly silent for the next half hour, as Beck and James Hanson, a vice president of the Center for Security Policy, laid out their likely endgame for Ahmed's ''setup.''
''[They] weaken and weaken and then it becomes violent,'' Beck concluded. ''Any doubt this is the final throes of weakening us to the point where we don't ask any questions, to ready for the final confrontation?''
Early rumorsThe first rumors that Ahmed's clock was not just a clock were simpler than Beck's grim prediction '-- though no better supported.
A Facebook post by a self-professed electrical engineer spread by the thousands after the teen hit the news. The writer claimed Ahmed had made no ordinary clock, but a ''COUNTDOWN clock'' that would have alarmed any teacher.
But the only evidence the post offered was a stock photo of a countdown clock next to the Irving police photo of Ahmed's device. That countdown clock's dimensions didn't match the screen that Ahmed had soldered to a circuit board and strapped inside a small case.
If Ahmed hadn't made a countdown clock, some wondered, perhaps he'd made nothing at all.
''Why are you so annoyed about this kid?'' someone asked Richard Dawkins on Twitter, after the famous biologist linked a YouTube video claiming the boy had merely rearranged a store-bought clock inside a case.
''Because he disassembled & reassembled a clock (which is fine) & then claimed it was his 'invention' (which is fraud),'' Dawkins wrote back.
Ahmed, who was famous in middle school for bringing handmade gizmos to class and robotics club, did tell reporters who knocked on his door last week that the clock was ''my invention.''
But Ahmed also said the clock was a ''simple thing '... that's easy to make'' that he'd hoped his new high school teachers would understand. He said he'd soldered it together in about 20 minutes. It was no match for the hand-wired, micro-soldered radio transmitter he showed off on his bedroom floor.
Family theoriesOther theories cast suspicion less on Ahmed's clock than on his family and Muslim groups that have supported him since his ride in a police car.
On his blog, national columnist Mark Steyn called Ahmed's father ''a belligerent Muslim activist,'' citing Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed's occasional runs for president of Sudan.
Steyn didn't mention that Mohamed had campaigned in his native country by promising to end its links with terrorism and abolish repressive laws. A devotee of a mystical branch of Islam called Sufism, Mohamed also made the news a few years ago for trying to convince a Quran-burning pastor in Florida that the book espoused peace.
But after Mavericks owner Cuban told reporters that he'd heard Ahmed's sister feeding the boy answers to his questions, many have wondered if the family is coaching the boy through his fame.
The Mohameds have largely managed Ahmed's first week of celebrity via cacophonous family meetings in a cramped living room. The father rushed in and out of the house as he struggled to run his passenger pickup company between reporter visits, and Ahmed's teenage sister fielded press requests to her Gmail account.
The family sounded surprised to learn over the weekend that they were being accused of conspiracy.
''There is truth, and there is mischief,'' said the boy's father.
''Ahmed is just a 14-year-old boy who's trying to do what he loves to do,'' said his sister, Eyman Mohamed, 18. ''Just trying to build.''
Theories, theories '...Countdown clock theorySoon after Ahmed's story hit the news, a Facebook post claimed that the device he built counted down to zero. The only evidence was a catalog photo of a countdown clock that looked somewhat similar to the clock display Ahmed strapped inside a pencil case.
But the two displays had different dimensions. Police have never mentioned the clock counting down. And Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News last week that the screen flashed ''12:00'' when plugged in, ''like at home.''
Fraudulent clock theoryThe same Facebook post claimed that Ahmed didn't really make a clock, but merely reassembled the components of a store-bought clock inside a case. Other posts and YouTube videos have advanced this theory.
Ahmed's clock is still in police custody, according to the family. But last week the boy told The News that he spent just 20 minutes soldering a digital display to a circuit board and power supply, which he put inside a pencil case. His description matched a photo of the clock that police later released.
Arrested on purpose theoryOnline theories hinge on the claim that Ahmed planned to get arrested and later embarrass police in the news. Some speculate without evidence that Islamist groups plotted the operation.
No theory that The News has reviewed cites any evidence that Ahmed, who routinely brought electronic creations to his middle school and said he wanted to impress high school teachers, planned to get handcuffed and hit the news. A statement sent out Tuesday from Irving City Hall acknowledged that a police ''investigation determined the student apparently did not intend to cause alarm bringing the device to school.''
Muslim activists theoryAhmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, leads a small Irving mosque that practices Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. Mohamed was once in the national news for trying to convince a pastor who burned a Quran that true Islam is peaceful. He has run several times for president of his native country, Sudan, campaigning on a platform to end the country's support for terrorism, abolish repressive laws and let people convert from Islam.
The family appeared surprised by Ahmed's sudden fame, and in early days his teenage sisters helped him manage countless media requests and offers from corporations. A reporter for The News visited Ahmed's house several times after the boy's story went viral. The family let the reporter talk to Ahmed alone, and no one coached him during these visits.
Associated Press
OpinionMark Davis: Ahmed's parents should let the full facts come out
Kevin D. Williamson: Ahmed's clock is a phony case of Islamophobia
Marcus Jauregui: An Irving teacher draws three lessons from Ahmed's adventure
Erika Beltran: Islamophobia doesn't belong in Texas schools
Editorial: For Ahmed Mohamed, the clock that launched a thousand opportunities
Associated Press
Montel Williams: Irving officials owe Ahmed Mohamed an apology
Tod Robberson: Irving mayor is defensive on Facebook '-- then apparently thinks twice
Editorial: Overreaction in clock-bomb mix-up has chilling effect
Glenn Greenwald: Irving teen's arrest the result of anti-Muslim hysteria
Social media world explodes after Irving student's arrest for taking homemade clock to school
News
Vern Bryant/Staff Photographer
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Glenn Beck discuss conspiracy theories about 14-year-old's clock
Family: Ahmed withdraws from Irving ISD, eyes trips to United Nations and Mecca
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on conversation with Irving teen Ahmed Mohamed and what he should have done
Mixed Media: Dallas' Lucha Libre scene, Hunter Hauk on Garth Brooks, Avi Selk on #IStandWithAhmed
America stands with Ahmed Mohamed, unlike Irving leaders
From finger guns to #IstandwithAhmed clock, zero-tolerance gone too far?
Fame from arrest over clock puts teenage Ahmed Mohamed in viral vortex
UTA student behind #IStandWithAhmed says she'll help any kid facing bias
Handcuffing over homemade clock turns Irving teen into social media sensation in no time
Zero-tolerance policies may have been another factor in Irving case, experts say
Ahmed Mohamed swept up, 'hoax bomb' charges swept away as Irving teen's story floods social media
VIDEO-Democrat Clinton to unveil plan to fight drug 'price gouging' | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:04
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will unveil a plan this week to cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs. She alluded to her plan in public remarks on Monday and said she will spell it out in more detail at a health-care forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday. She pointed to a New York Times story that said while prices sometimes rise due to drug shortages, other times prices balloon as a result of a company's business strategy of buying older drugs and turning them into expensive specialty drugs. The newspaper reported how the price of a drug to treat a deadly parasitic infection soared to $750 a tablet from $13.50 after it was bought in August by a pharmaceutical company. Clinton, who leads the field seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for president in the November 2016 election, maintained her front-runner status with about 48 percent of support in a recent Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. Still, she has been under pressure to take more populist stances to widen her lead over the current second-place candidate, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton could face more hurdles if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race. Sanders already has introduced legislation in the Senate to crack down on what he called "skyrocketing" increases in prescription drug prices. On Monday, shares in biotech companies such as Immunogen and Gilead Sciences dropped after Clinton tweeted that steep prices for specialty drugs were "outrageous."
VIDEO-Greece's Tsipras resumes post as prime minister | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:03
Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras (ah-LEHK-sees SEEP-rahs) was sworn in as the country's prime minister on Monday following an unexpectedly clear election victory for his second term in parliamentary elections on Sunday. Tsipras took a civil oath of allegiance to the Greek constitution, in a break from common practice which is normally in the presence of religious leaders. After the swearing in ceremony, he walked the short distance to the Prime Minister's office for the official handover with the interim premier. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "I am returning after a few days, almost a month, to the prime minister's office with the memory of a difficult period behind me, of tough negotiations, and the battles fought right here in this room, but also bringing with me optimism and the faith that when, at some point, I will leave this office again, these memories will be forgotten and replaced by better, more constructive ones." Tsipras first came to power January but then called for new elections after his party split a month ago. He says his victory gives him a mandate for a full four-year term, extraordinary in a country that has gone through five general elections in six years amid major financial turmoil.
VIDEO-Women soar in Kabul's skies | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:02
Meet Zakia Mohammadi, a new member of Afghanistan's paragliding team. It's worth mentioning that this is a first -- females soaring above the skies of the war weary country. SOUNDBITE: Zakia Mohammadi, Female paraglider, saying (Dari): "This is the first time that I'm flying with a paraglider and I'm so excited! When I went up into the sky, I felt like a bird, freed from a cage ... I ask other girls and women to come and play any kind of sports they like ... sport is the symbol of peace. And it shows that peace is coming to Afghanistan." While women in Afghanistan's conservative Islamic society are increasingly entering the workplace, most still wear the head-to-toe burqa. And it wasn't long ago that under the rule of the Taliban in the 1990s, Afghan women were kept out of schools and public life. Getting to the top of Kabul's hills is a challenge. The team needs an army vehicle to carry equipment and a police escort to fend off possible attackers. Team member Leeda Ozori says the experience is still surreal. SOUNDBITE: Leeda Ozori, Female paraglider, saying (Dari): "When women see me they can't believe that an Afghan woman can do this. The situation isn't good, there is no security, but I'm brave and I want to do it." The paragliding team hopes to spread their wings in other Afghan provinces soon, but for the moment, security worries restrict them to gliding over Kabul.
VIDEO-McDonald's, Google and others join hunger campaign | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:52
The U.N. World Food Program is teaming up with prominent brands, like McDonald's and Google, in a new campaign to raise money to help feed the largest flood of refugees in recorded history. Bobbi Rebell reports.
TRANSCRIPT +
Some of the biggest brands in the U.S., including McDonald's and Google, are donating advertising time to help refugees. It's for a public service announcement supporting the United Nations World Food Program, and it is timed to the International Day of Peace. The hunger relief agency is running short on cash trying to help feed the largest flood of refugees in recorded history. Because of that shortfall, for example, Syrian refugees with vouchers receive less than 50 cents a day per person to buy food. World Food Program spokesperson M.J. Altman. SOUNDBITE: M.J. ALTMAN, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAM USA (ENGLISH) SAYING "We felt that joining with these companies really gave us a much needed megaphone to spread awareness at a critical time. Now more than ever, WFP and other humanitarian agencies like this need support and resources to address the refugee crisis." McDonald's commissioned the 30-second commercial for the WFP and helped recruit other companies. DreamWorks Animation secured actor Liam Neeson for the voice-over on the ad. Other participating brands include MasterCard, Burger King, Cargill, Facebook, Twitter, United Airlines, McCain Foods and OMD Worldwide. August was one of the bloodiest months in the five-year Syrian civil war. The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says, that helped drive up the number of registered refugees to more than 73,000.
VIDEO-Hungary beefs up border with army, warns migrants to stay away | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:50
As thousands of migrants and refugees pour through Europe's southern border... Hungary is taking matters into its own hands. Just days after its police clashed with refugees demanding entrance, the country's parliament has passed a law to deploy the army. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER, VIKTOR ORBAN, SAYING: "We can defend the Serbian border stretch, and we can defend the Croatian stretch but to do that we need the army to patrol together with the police, if we get the authorisation to use the military too then we can also defend the Croatian and Slovenian borders." The law gives the army the right to use rubber bullets, pryotechnical devices, tear gas and net guns against migrants. Hungary lies in the path of the largest migration wave Europe has seen since World War Two. The country has built a fence on the Serbian border to deter those crossing there, but instead the migrants are now crossing into Hungary via Croatia. Marta Pardavi of the human rights organization Hungarian Helsinki Committee calls the law unnecessary. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATION HUNGARIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE MARTA PARDAVI SAYING: "Hungary is not in war, Hungary is not at war with refugees. There is not armed conflict neither at the Hungarian border nor in country." The law comes as members of the European Union prepare for a meeting Tuesday to find a solution to the crisis...
VIDEO-CAIR: Carson should drop out of election race | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:49
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday (September 21) called on Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race because of his comments on Muslims. Carson told a Sunday morning news program that the Muslim faith is inconsistent with American principles. The remarks by Carson, who is near the top of opinion polls for the crowded field of Republican candidates, followed a controversy that erupted when front-runner Donald Trump declined to challenge anti-Muslim comments made by a supporter on Thursday. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil rights group. Nihad Awad, the executive director of CAIR, said the comments disqualify Carson for the presidency. "If he does not withdraw his comment, if he does not apologize to the Muslim community and the American public, we believe that his views are inconsistent with the United States constitution," Awad told reporters at a press conference in Washington, D.C.. "We do not know how he can lead and take the highest position in this land while disenfranchising an important American community, and that is the Muslim community, which is protected under the U.S. constitution." In a statement later on Sunday, a Carson campaign spokesman said Carson believed strongly in the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, "but he also believes that the American people are far from ready to accept a Muslim as President in our Judeo-Christian society."
VIDEO-UN Live United Nations Web TV - Herbie Hancock (UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:45
Herbie Hancock (UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
21 Sep 2015 - Remarks by Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015.
Herbie Hancock (UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
VIDEO-UN Live United Nations Web TV - Michael Douglas (UN Messenger of Peace) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:44
Michael Douglas (UN Messenger of Peace) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
21 Sep 2015 - Remarks by Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas, UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on disarmament issues, at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015.
Michael Douglas (UN Messenger of Peace) at the 2015 Global Student Observance for the International Day of Peace 2015
VIDEO-Turkish police block hundreds of Greece-bound migrants | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:43
They're on the march in Turkey... hundreds of migrants... all bound for Greece and beyond. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) SYRIAN MIGRANT, ABU BEKIR, SAYING: "I am fed up. I will go to Edirne. I don't have money. I don't have a job. Life is very difficult. But hopefully if we can cross into Hungary, life will be good." Edirne is a city on Turkey's land border with Greece, but these migrants will not make it. Police stopped them on the highway Monday and put them on buses back to Istanbul. Turkey hosts more than two million Syrian and Iraqis, but a lack of jobs and hopes for a better life in Europe are leading them to take the journey. In Edirne, Governor Dursan Ali Sahin says the migrants can no longer stay in the city and that those who register as refugees will be the first to be sent to Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) GOVERNOR OF EDIRNE, DURSUN ALI SAHIN, SAYING: "We will place them in houses or hotels. And we will give the names of the refugees we registered to UNHCR. When the European countries start to admit refugees... as the general director (of the Turkish Red Crescent) told them, they will be the first ones to go." With Turkey struggling to manage the humanitarian fallout and frustrated at what it sees as lack of support from Europe, there are fears officials there are turning a blind eye to the hundreds trying to leave the country every day.
VIDEO-Some Skype users can't make calls | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:38
Some Skype users unable to dial up Monday morning. Microsoft's text, phone and video service said there's a problem with the status settings. Users around the world finding that their status as well as those of their contacts were showing up as "offline" even though they were online. That prevents them from making calls. Many of them taking to Twitter to air their grievances. One person tweeting, "Skype is down and there is panic in the office." Other users, Skype says, are having problems trying to sign in to their accounts. Media reports say the issue has impacted users from the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, among others. Skype said, "We're working on a fix for this issue." It also said the status issue does not affect Skype users on the web. The issue not worrying investors. Microsoft's stock is up in early trading.
VIDEO-VW shares plunge on emissions scandal | Reuters.com
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:35
Shares in Volkswagen suffer their biggest ever one-day fall in early Monday trading after U.S. authorities accused the German carmaker of falsifying emissions data. As Ivor Bennett reports, VW could face penalties of up to $18 billion.
TRANSCRIPT +
Green hills, lush vegetation - it was all about being clean. But looking back at the marketing now just makes things so much worse. Volkswagen's so-called clean diesel cars apparently not that clean after all. On models including the Beetle, US authorities say VW falsified emissions data. Masking levels during testing, but pumping out up to 40 times the allowed pollutants on the road. An offence that could land them an 18 billion dollar fine. CEO Martin Winterkorn has apologised and ordered an investigation. But it didn't stop shares plunging more than 20 percent in early trading - their biggest ever one-day fall. And Matthew Beesley from Henderson Global Investors says the impact could go way beyond that. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF GLOBAL EQUITIES, HENDERSON GLOBAL INVESTORS, MATTHEW BEESLEY, SAYING: "The risk is that the diesel businesses for all manufacturers, all car manufacturers globally, will be tarnished. So whereas right now this is a problem for VW in the US, this could become a problem for VW globally and indeed it could become a problem for diesel manufacturers globally as well." The glitz of the Frankfurt car show normally gives manufacturers a boost around now. But the scandal is already having the opposite effect, says Baader Bank's Stefan Scharffetter. (SOUNDBITE)(German) STEFAN SCHARFFETTER, BAADER BANK, SAYING: "We are seeing falls in car shares everywhere today. It is affecting Daimler and BMW, not as much as VW of course, so there is a lot of uncertainty about what is happening here in the car branch in Germany and what will happen now." It was all smiles for VW in Frankfurt last week Five months on from a leadership crisis, a supervisory board meeting this week was finally expected to outline the way ahead. But it's now got a much bigger problem.
VIDEO-The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:02
VIDEO-'Hated' CEO lowering price of $750 AIDS drug Daraprim September 22
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:00
Pharmaceutical company Turing increased the price of a drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill and its CEO, Martin Shkreli, quickly became the focus of public anger. The over 4,000% increase also caught the eye of Hillary Clinton. She tweeted about it Monday, saying she wanted to put an end to drug "price gouging."
The Daily Beast declared Shkreli the "most-hated man in America," surpassing the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion.
Shkreli says he has heard the outcry.
"We've agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a price that is more affordable," Shkreli said on ABC World News Tonight.
He didn't say what that "affordable" price would be, but stressed that the company already gives away the drug for free to about half the patients who use it and that Turing plans to expand its charitable drug program.
Related: Is this CEO the new 'most-hated man in America'?
Shkreli has been defending himself on Twitter and in numerous TV interviews.
"We needed to turn a profit on the drug," Shkreli told Bloomberg, arguing that companies that owned the drug before were giving it away at $13.50.
He says it's not just about turning profit. Turing plans to use the money to research a better way to treat diseases. The drug is used by some AIDS and cancer patients. It's been around for decades but Shkreli's company just bought the rights to it in August. The main use of the drug is to treat life-threatening parasitic infections.
"They don't deserve a drug that is 70 years old," he said about Daraprim, adding: "I know what we're doing is right."
Related: 5 ways your health insurance will cost more
Shkreli is only 32-years-old. He's been called everything from a boy genius to a vulture.
"I guess some people think Daraprim access will decline instead of increase. I guarantee better access at lower prices to patients than ever," tweeted Shkreli.
Known for being very candid on Twitter -- he tweeted Monday "It seems like the media immediately points a finger at me so I point one back at em, but not the index or pinkie" -- he opted to make his account private on Tuesday night.
His outspoken tweets were one of the reasons he was ousted as CEO of his prior company, Retrophin(RTRX).
Related: Hillary Clinton tweet crushes biotech stocks
CNNMoney (New York)September 22, 2015: 7:58 PM ET
VIDEO-Let's Stop HIV Together: How are you stopping HIV? - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 03:32
VIDEO-IMMIGRANTS! Feat. Donald Trump & Tony Abbott [RAP NEWS 34] - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 16:57
VIDEO-Cassetteboy vs David Cameron - Gettin' Piggy With It - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:10
VIDEO-Apple Watch saved high school senior's life - CBS46 News
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 14:07
MARION, MA (WCVB/CNN) - A high school athlete said his Apple Watch helped save his life.
The 17-year-old Tabor Academy senior was at football practice when something felt off.
"I had pain in my chest and my back whenever I took some deep breaths,'' senior Paul Houle Jr. said.
He would have chalked it up to a hot day on the gridiron, but his Apple Watch alerted him to something serious.
"I could just feel my heart pounding, so after practice I went and took a nap, my heart rate was still at 145,'' Houle said. ''I noticed on my Apple Watch."
The Apple Watch takes your resting heart rate about every few minutes or so. Paul knew there was a problem when his resting heart rate was more than double his average.
Paul went to the hospital, where he learned he had heart, liver and kidney failure, which could have been fatal if not for his watch.
He can't play football just yet, but he has something else to look forward to - an internship next summer with Apple.
Copyright 2015 WCVB via CNN. All rights reserved.
VIDEO-WATCH: Ex-hedge funder who hiked AIDS pill cost by 5,500 percent says drug 'still underpriced'
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 00:42
Appearing on Bloomberg TV, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company that recently hiked the price of a drug used for critically ill infants and AIDS patients by 5,500 percent , defended the price increase by promising better things to come for future patients.
Martin Shkreli, 32, the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, recently purchased the rights to Daraprim and immediate increased the cost from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
Asked why the huge increase in cost, Shkreli explained that the old companies who owned the drug were ''practically giving it away almost,'' and he needs to turn a profit.
Noting that the pill sold for $13.50 and the course of treatment ''to save your life was only a $1,000,'' Shrkeli said he had to make a change.
''We know, these days, in modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more, whereas these drugs can cost a half of a million dollars,'' he explained. ''Daraprim is still under-priced relative to its peers.''
Asked if the pill really only costs $1 to manufacture, Shkreli agreed and said, ''It costs very little to make Daraprim.''
Shkreli then listed off manufacturing, distribution, and FDA costs as well as paying the people ''who make it to specifications.''
Pressed even further on the $750 cost per pill, the CEO defended the price by noting how much it brought into the pharmaceutical company annually.
''This drug was making $5 million in revenue,'' he said with a smile. ''And I don't think you can find a drug company on this planet that can make money on $5 million in revenue.''
Shkreli stated that the drug is made for a ''very very tough disease.''
''It requires a lot of attention and focus. The drug company needs to partner with the patients and make sure that it's a very cared for community. And that costs a lot of money too,'' pointing out that the company also ''gives away'' the drug for $1 for those who can't afford it.
Shkreli added: ''Patients now have a powerful ally in our company.''
Watch video below from Bloomberg TV:
VIDEO-Susan Sarandon worries pope will be assassinated - NY Daily News
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:49
Susan Sarandon fears Pope Francis will be murdered because of his progressive views, she tells Confidenti@l.
''I think they're going to assassinate him,'' she said of the pontiff, who arrives in New York on Thursday. ''I think he's done some major, major cleansing of the whole system.''
The Catholic University alum's shocking remark about the pontiff isn't the first time she's commented on the papacy.
Back in 2011, while being interviewed at the Hamptons International Film Festival, the ''Dead Man Walking'' Oscar-winner revealed she'd sent Pope St. John Paul II a copy of the book that the film was based on. As for sending one to his successor, Benedict XVI: she said: ''Not this Nazi one we have now.'' Catholic and Jewish groups criticized the comment.
''I love this Pope,'' Sarandon says. ''He's humble . . . he doesn't live in the palatial whatever. I think he's a Pope of the people.''
The political activist also told us her thoughts on Donald Trump's popularity: ''I think people are really starved for something authentic and even though he has no idea specifically what he's talking about. He speaks to the guy who wishes he could say, 'Everything's a mess, we're tired of the machine, we're tired of politics as usual.' . ... I think it's great that the Republicans have to figure out how to deal with him, it's interesting.''
Sarandon revealed she's a huge supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and hates when people dismiss him as someone unable to secure the nomination.
''Everybody said that about Obama,'' she notes. ''It's like, the laziest way to do politics as usual. To just say, 'Oh, well, he can't get elected. I think at least he'll make some very unexpected dialogue in the debates.''
The 68-year-old actress was in town for the sixth anniversary of SPiN, the downtown pingpong social club that she co-owns. Not there for the festivities was her onetime boyfriend Jonathan Bricklin, who is also a co-owner. Sarandon says she's dating someone, but declined to dish on any details.
It's been a busy summer for the actress filming a cameo in the ''Zoolander'' sequel, a new TV show with Nick Nolte and spending time with her 1-year-old granddaughter Marlowe. ''She's just the cutest little thing,'' Sarandon gushes. ''She's walking now, she's talking, she's putting her purse on her arm. It's not so easy to spoil her (now), but I intend to do my best.''
Tags:susan sarandon ,pope francis
VIDEO-Real Time with Bill Maher '' Ahmed's Clock Block (HBO) - YouTube
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:48
VIDEO-Hacked ISIS CIA MI6 STUDIO BEHEADING, JIHADI JOHN Giant ISIS Soldiers - YouTube
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VIDEO-George Clooney slips behind the wheel of his dad's 1958 red Corvette | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:47
By Bobbie Whiteman For Dailymail.com
Published: 14:26 EST, 20 September 2015 | Updated: 18:39 EST, 20 September 2015
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There can't be many fathers who don't worry when they hand over the car keys to their sons.
But George Clooney's news anchor father Nick must be proud to see how well his boy is looking after the red Chevrolet Corvette V8 C1 convertible he bought in 1958.
The actor was spotted taking a pal for a spin in the immaculate vintage car after dinner at Kazu Sushi in the Studio City neighbourhood of Los Angeles on Thursday evening.
Scroll down for video
Beautiful lines: On Saturday George Clooney took a pal for a spin in the red Chevrolet Corvette V8 C1 convertible his news anchor father Nick Clooney bought brand new in 1958
The 54-year-old is a well-known auto enthusiast who also drives a gleaming grey Lexus and a black Porsche Carrera as well as a tiny two seater electric Tango 600 plus various motorbikes.
But it's a fair bet the family 'Vette has pride of place in his heart.
It's a much-in-demand classic now with enthusiasts going to great lengths to restore their cars to their original glory.
Guys' night out: The 54-year-old and his friend were both casually dressed for dinner at at Kazu Sushi in the Studio City neighbourhood of Los Angeles
Chatting up a storm: The pair gossiped as they left the restaurant and walked back to the classic car
Gleaming grille: The 1958 model was considered to be a style icon of its times and is still much in demand now with models beautifully restored to their original condition selling for upwards of $85,000
But when Nick, 81, bought his model it was on the cutting edge of car design.
Notably, the 1958 model was considered to be a style icon of its times due to its trendy appearance which was derived from a chrome finished exterior along with double headlamps, while the white panels offset the red paintwork, according to BornRich.com.
Louvres in the bonnet and chrome rails on the trunk and white-walled tyres provided a distinctive look to the Corvette that has a material roof opened by hand - no automatic openers back in the day.
Reaching for the keys: The actor is well-known for being an auto enthusiast
Classic 'Vette: When Nick, now 81, bought his model it was on the cutting edge of car design and reportedly capable of speeds up to 116 mph depending on engine configuration
Sweet little red Corvette: George has kept the car in pristine condition
George has reportedly lined the seats with high end leather.
Capable of up to 116mph depending on the engine configuration, according to automobile-catalog.com, it does just 16.4 miles to the gallon.
The increasingly rare examples of the car in perfect condition go for upwards of $85,000.
The original owner: George with his dad at the 1997 premiere of The Peacemaker
His other ride: The superstar also drives a Porsch convertible in black, of course
Small is beautiful: He also rocks a tiny two-seater Tango 600, a British-built car that runs on electricity
George's dad bought it new when he was a radio broadcaster in Lexington, Kentucky and the actor grew up with it as one of the family cars, he told Esquire in 2013.
Meanwhile, the superstar appeared to be on a guys' night out as there was no sign of his beautiful 37-year-old wife Amal - not that she would've fitted in the two seater.
The international human rights lawyer has been travelling to the Maldives and Sri Lanka where she is representing deposed Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.
Luxury wheels: George got into the driver's seat of his high-end Lexus as beautiful wife Amal waited by the passenger door after dinner at Asanebo Sushi last December
Date night: George and the human rights lawyer enjoyed a vacation at the Ushua¯a Ibiza Beach Hotel on the Spanish island of Ibiza in August
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Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:47
VENICE, Italy '' Idealism loses out to cynicism in George Clooney's political drama The Ides of March, which opens the Venice Film Festival.
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images
Clooney directs the film, 'The Ides Of March,' starring Ryan Gosling.
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images
Clooney directs the film, 'The Ides Of March,' starring Ryan Gosling.
Clooney directs and acts in the political drama that features Ryan Gosling as a gung-ho press secretary swept into a sex scandal in the final days of a Democratic presidential primary in Ohio. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are rival campaign managers who use loyalty as a weapon in their epic battle for victory.
Marisa Tomei plays a Times reporter angling for scoops on the campaign trail. And Evan Rachel Wood, a pretty campaign volunteer eager to play in the big leagues, is yet another figure giving female political interns a bad rap.
Clooney's idealistic presidential candidate, Pennsylvania Gov. Mike Morris, has a straightforward platform: He's nonreligious but defends the freedom of religion. He also opposes the death penalty and wants to phase out internal combustion engines to reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
Clooney plays the presidential candidate, but told reporters at the festival Wednesday he is not looking to be one in real life.
"As for running for president, look, there's a guy in office right now who is smarter than almost anyone you know, who's nicer and who has more compassion than almost anyone you know. And he's having an almost impossible time governing. Why would anybody volunteer for that job?" Clooney told a news conference.
"I have a really good job. I get to hang out with very seductive people. So I have no interest," Clooney said.
For Clooney, the film wasn't so much a political movie as a morality tale, exploring the question of whether the ends justify the means. The political arena "raised the stakes," a relaxed and jocular Clooney said, but the questions the film poses reside in many areas of life.
"You could literally put this in Wall Street, or you could put it pretty much anywhere. It's all the same sort of issues. It's issues of morality. It's issues of whether or not you are willing to trade your soul for an outcome," Clooney said.
In the film, many characters use seduction to get what they want: to get closer to power, to undermine the other campaign, to win political backing.
Giamatti called his character "an unabashedly seductive guy." His play to recruit Gosling's character to the rival campaign opens the film's exploration of loyalty and friendship in politics.
"My character is all about seduction '... the whole game of politics is a kind of sexy game in America, and I think (the movie) portrays it really well," Giamatti said.
And while Clooney and his fellow actors are willing to concede that Washington and Hollywood may share seduction and power as common currency, that doesn't mean the stakes are the same. Hollywood, they suggested, commands a disproportionate amount of popular attention.
"I do think there is a huge difference between Hollywood and Washington, you know, and what we are responsible for and what influence we wield. I think sometimes it gets forgotten, that the people who are governing us have a much more important position," Hoffman said.
The film's title '--The Ides of March'-- highlights its undercurrent of betrayal. In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns the leader of imminent betrayal with the line "beware the ides of March."
"We thought that some of these themes seemed to be somewhat Shakespearean," Clooney said. "We will leave it up to people to decide who is Cassius and who's Brutus and who's Julius Caesar. Everyone has different points of view."
It is hard to shake off the film's ultimate cynicism, which seems to reflect the current mood and gridlock in U.S. politics. But perhaps such a movie requires a cynical moment. Clooney said he shelved the movie in the face of brimming optimism following the 2008 election of President Barack Obama.
"It took about a year, and that was over," he said, with irony.
Still, he expressed hope that this, too, will pass.
"Cynicism seems to be winning over idealism right now. I think it will change. I hope it will change. Soon," Clooney said.
Clooney, who has a villa in northern Italy on Lake Como, is a familiar face at the Lido. He's directed or acted in six films that have been shown in Venice since 2003, including Good Night and Good Luck, Burn After Reading and Michael Clayton.
The Ides of March is Clooney's first directorial effort to headline the festival. It is vying for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded Sept. 10.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
AUDIO-Bill Clinton Warned About Hillary's 'Discomfort' With Gay Rights During 2000 Senate Race - Washington Free Beacon
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 21:38
Former president discussed Hillary's hesitance on gay rights for oral history project
AP
BY:Alana GoodmanSeptember 21, 2015 5:00 am
Bill Clinton confessed to a close friend that Hillary Clinton was not comfortable ''around gay people who were kind of acting out'' during her 2000 Senate race, according to audio recordings obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Clinton worried that his wife's ''general discomfort'' with gay rights issues could complicate her senate bid in New York at the time, according to a contemporaneous account from Clinton's long-time friend Taylor Branch.
Branch recorded dozens of late-night interviews with Bill Clinton for an oral history project between the early 1990s and 2000. Although the president kept the sole copies of the interviews, Branch took notes and recounted the conversations into a tape recorder after each of the interview sessions ended.
Branch wrote a history of the Clinton White House based on his audio diary in 2009, but this particular conversation was not discussed in detail in his book.
According to a June 10, 1999, recording, Branch had been interviewing Bill Clinton at the White House when the president stepped out to take a phone call from Hillary. When Bill returned, he seemed preoccupied by his wife's positions on gay rights.
''[Bill] came in and he said, 'You know I've had much more contact in my life with gay people than Hillary has,''' Branch recounted at the time. ''He said, 'I think she's really a little put off by some of this stuff.'''
According to Branch, Bill expressed some regret that he signed the Defense of Marriage Act'--which allowed states to pass laws restricting gay marriage'--saying ''I thought it was right at the time, and I'm not sure that it is.''
''[Bill] said, 'Generally I support the gay agenda right down the line,''' said Branch. ''He said this was hard for me, and I'm sure there are still a few things that are hard for me to swallow.''
However, he told Branch, ''Hillary, emotionally speaking, still finds the issue harder to swallow than I do. And that it could be difficult for her in New York politics, how far she'll be asked to go.''
Branch added that Clinton was ''essentially I think saying that Hillary had kind of a conservative religious temperament, and was not likely to be comfortable around gay people who were kind of acting out, or pushing her to the limit. She did have general discomfort.''
The recordings could shed new light on why Hillary Clinton waited until 2013 to come out in favor of gay marriage, after the majority of the Democratic Party was already solidly in support.
Clinton's most competitive Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, has backed same sex marriage for decades. Another opponent, the former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, first publicly supported it in 2011.
Some gay rights activists have been critical of Clinton's record, noting that she never spoke out when her husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted 19 years ago this week. The Supreme Court struck down the act in 2013.
Clinton has also dodged questions about when she evolved on the issue. She endorsed civil unions during her 2000 Senate campaign, but not gay marriage.
In a 2004 floor debate, Clinton called marriage a ''fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man and a woman.''
''I believe that marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman,'' she said.
She clashed with NPR's Terry Gross in 2014 after the radio host pressed Clinton about whether her position was based on political expediency.
''I think you're trying to say that, you know, I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons,'' she said. ''And that's just flat wrong.''
Clinton's public position on gay marriage has shifted along with the American electorate. In 2001, just 35 percent of Americans supported same sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center, a figure that has grown to 55 percent in 2015.
The blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote in 2014 that he believed Clinton's evolution on gay rights was relatively recent, claiming that he ''saw the Clintons' irritation with and hostility to gay activists up close'' while editing the New Republic in the 1990s.
''Unlike Obama, [Hillary Clinton] was personally deeply uncomfortable with this for a long time and politically believed the issue was a Republican wedge issue to torment the Clintons rather than a core civil rights cause.''
The Clinton campaign did not return a request for comment.
VIDEO-UN Live United Nations Web TV - ID: Commission of inquiry on Syria - 15th Meeting 30th Regular Session of Human Rights Council
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:18
Interactive dialogue with:- Independent International Commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic A/HRC/30/48Agenda Item:4 Human rights situations that require the Council's attention- 15th Plenary Meeting 30th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
HRC extranet (information on daily updates, draft documentation, copies of oral statements etc.)
SPEAKERSMr. Paulo S(C)rgio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab RepublicSyrian Arab Republic (Concerned Country), Mr. Abdulmaola Al NuqariEuropean Union, Mr. Peter SorensenNorway (on behalf of Nordic States), Ms. Harriet BergGreece, Mr. Ioannis TsaousisEgypt, Mr. Amr Essameldin Sadek AhmedEcuador, Mr. Luis Espinosa SalasSaudi Arabia, Mr. Faisal Bin Hassan TradGermany, Mr. Frank JaraschTunisia, Mr. Sami BougachaFrance, Ms. Elisabeth LaurinAlbania, Ms. Filloreta KodraTurkey, Mr. Berk BaranAustralia, Ms. Emily HillQatar, Mr. Faisal Bin Abdulla Al-HenzabIreland, Ms. Patricia O'BrienUnited Arab Emirates, Ms. Aalya Helal Zaid AlshehhiNew Zealand, Mr. Carl Allan ReaichUnited States of America, Mr. Keith M. HarperAustria, Mr. Karl PrummerMorocco, Mr. Sa¯d AhougaMalaysia, Mr. Mohd Hasril Abdul HamidEstonia, Mr. Joanus KirikmaeAlgeria, Mr. Antar HassaniVenezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Mr. Edgardo Toro Carre±oBahrain, Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim BucheeriDemocratic People's Republic of Korea, Mr. Se Pyong SoSwitzerland, Mr. Alexandre FaselMaldives, Ms. Geela AliChile, Ms. Marta MaursCzech Republic, Mr. Daniel M­cKuwait, Mr. Jamal M.I. AlghunaimMr. Paulo S(C)rgio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (Comments and Answers)United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mr. Ian DuddyRomania, Mr. Adrian VieritaCuba, Ms. Anayansi Rodr­guez CamejoBelgium, Mr. Karl DhaeneJordan, Ms. Saja MajaliIraq, Mr. Hassan JanabiGhana, Mr. Ebenezer ApprekuBelarus, Ms. Inna VasilevskayaRussian Federation, Ms.Maria Khodynskaya-GolenishchevaBrazil, Ms. Regina Maria Cordeiro DunlopNetherlands, Mr. Roderick Van SchrevenLuxembourg, Mr. Jean-Marc HoscheitSlovakia, Ms. Sona DanovCanada, Ms. Catherine GodinItaly, Mr. Maurizio Enrico Luigi SerraChina, Ms. Wang YingIsrael, Mr. Eviatar ManorLatvia, Mr. Janis KarklinsCosta Rica, Ms. Elayne Whyte G"mezIran (Islamic Republic of), Mr. Mohsen Naziri AslSpain, Ms. Ana Mar­a Men(C)ndez P(C)rezPortugal, Ms. Ana Helena Pinheiro MarquesBotswana, Ms. Bokani Edith SesinyiNigeria, Mr. Peters Omologbe EmuzeThe Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Dusko UzunovskiSudan, Mr. Kamal GubaraParaguay, Mr. Juan Miguel GonzalezSyriac Universal Alliance, Ms. Sarah BakirUnited Nations Watch, Mr. Hillel NeuerCairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Ms. Salma AmerArab Commission for Human RightsAllied Rainbow Communities International, Mr. Arvind NarainInternational Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), Mr. Nicolas AgostiniInternational Commission of Jurists, Mr. Nadeb DiabUnion of Arab JuristsSyrian Arab Republic (Concerned Country), Mr. Abdulmaola Al NuqariMr. Paulo S(C)rgio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (Final Remarks)
VIDEO-Apple grapples with its first big hack | Reuters.com
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VIDEO-European leaders hope for common ground on migrant crisis | Reuters.com
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World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goalsFri, Jun 06, 2014 -(1:08)
VIVID '' Sydney's spectacle of lightFri, May 30, 2014 -(1:37)
New cookbook seeks to turn tide on insect...Thu, May 15, 2014 -(2:13)
VIDEO-Kerry says U.S. ready to take more refugees | Reuters.com
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:31
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goalsFri, Jun 06, 2014 -(1:08)
VIVID '' Sydney's spectacle of lightFri, May 30, 2014 -(1:37)
New cookbook seeks to turn tide on insect...Thu, May 15, 2014 -(2:13)
VIDEO-Regarding The Consistently Odd, "Obama Is A Muslim" Controversy... - UlstermanBooks.com
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:28
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