761: Deconflicting

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 57m
October 1st, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir K.G. of Chilesburg, Amarjeet Singh

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Norman McDonough, Jeff Carnahan, Mark K, Sir Sean Connelly, Sir Roy Grow

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hi Adam , great analysis on the Syrian refugees situation.. amen fist bump
about the Russian air strikes , ISIS is taking a beating on every front
, more than 40 strikes so far , and somebody isn't happy about it apparently
I read many articles saying that the US is demanding a proof from Russia
that the airstrikes are targeting ISIS ..(just Wow)
still trying to obfuscate the idea that there are only two teams
fighting on the ground : the Syrian army vs ISIS and other jihadist groups.
a lot of concentration in the western media on criticizing the Russian
strikes on the city of "Homs", why? because some of the VERY FEW oil
fields that are still under the government's control are located east of
the city kilometers away from ISIS (where the coalition never targeted
as it happens) , they see it as an empowerment of the Syrian regime and
they'd prefer ISIS there to the Syrian army.
anywayS we're seeing a progress electricity & fuel wise by the hour
because of that, besides securing Homs's surroundings would make the
connection between Damascus, Lattakia & Aleppo much safer and would
result more military advances west to east till actually "degrading" ISIS.
Presidential Determination and Memorandum -- Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:09
SUBJECT: Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008
Pursuant to section 404 of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (22 U.S.C. 2370c-1) (CSPA), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Somalia; and to waive in part the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to South Sudan to allow for the provision of International Military Education and Training, and Peacekeeping Operations assistance, and support provided pursuant to section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2014, to the extent such assistance or support would be restricted by the CSPA.
I hereby waive such provisions accordingly.
You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, along with the accompanying Memorandum of Justification, and to publish the determination in the Federal Register.
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Spectral (2016) - IMDb-THE MARTIAN
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:39
EditA sci-fi/thriller story centered on a special-ops team that is dispatched to fight supernatural beings that have taken over New York City.
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Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:38
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Syria's Eastern Front: The Iraq Factor - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:49
The United States should use its close relations with Iraq's Sunni Arab tribes to reduce the risk of spillover from Syria.
For most of the first sixteen months of the Syrian uprising, the eastern border governorate of Deir al-Zour witnessed lower levels of violence than the main western battlegrounds in Homs, Idlib, Hama, Deraa, and Damascus. Since late May, however, escalating regime bombardment has shifted Deir al-Zour to the front lines, accentuating the Iraqi factor in the uprising and opening new options for the antigovernment rebels and their foreign backers. Yet many factors are restraining Iraq's Sunni Arab tribes from fully backing the Syrian uprising, not least Baghdad's opposition to foreign intervention in the conflict. Al-Qaeda in Iraq's potential role is also cause for concern.
THE WAR IN SYRIA'S EASTDespite being located some 280 miles from Damascus, Deir al-Zour is a key strategic outpost for the Assad regime. The governorate contains oil fields and pipeline infrastructure that feed western Syria's refineries and power stations. Most notably, the Iraq-Syria pipeline passes through the province -- although it is currently nonoperational, it may become the artery for rejuvenated oil flows between the two countries as well as Iraqi gas flows to the Arab Gas Pipeline, both of which would generate lucrative transit fees and political leverage for Damascus.
Since the 2005 Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon, Assad regime officials have increasingly taxed smuggling activity on the Iraqi border as a way to replace illicit revenues they previously harvested in Lebanon. Mid-level intelligence and military personnel draw significant incomes from smuggling syndicates that cross the border carrying livestock, cigarettes, and consumer electronics, as well as drugs, weapons, and terrorists.
Despite being a center of Syria's oil industry, Deir al-Zour is one of the country's poorest and least-developed governorates. According to the UN Development Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization, the governorate suffers from just about every negative economic indicator: high unemployment, extreme poverty, high illiteracy, high infant mortality, above-average population growth, poor roads, and inadequate electrical, sewage, water, and irrigation systems. The central government has not helped eastern Syria in any of its touted economic reform programs -- in fact, regime mismanagement of vital irrigation projects has hobbled the region's agricultural sector.
The majority of Deir al-Zour's 1.2 million inhabitants are Sunni Arabs with strong tribal, cultural, and linguistic links to Iraq. Many are resentful of the distant government in Damascus, which is culturally and religiously alien to them. Since the uprising began, the regime has sought to limit the size of protests in the governorate by pressuring senior tribal leaders (many of whom live in Damascus and Aleppo) and recruiting some tribal fighters into pro-government shabbiha paramilitaries. Although these measures slowed the uprising's spread in the east, local mukhtars (junior neighborhood-level leaders) and younger tribal figures have gradually gained power and led local tribes to join the movement.
THE ROLE OF IRAQI TRIBESThe Iraqi-Syrian desert between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is known as the Jazirah (meaning island), and its people have traditionally paid little attention to the border imposed in 1920. Local tribes have historically maintained stronger cultural, ethnic, familial, and economic ties with each other than with their respective capitals. There are two key subdivisions of cross-border tribes:
Jazirah tribes. The Shammar confederation is the largest cross-border tribal unit between the two rivers, and its members dominate smuggling in the area. Their position on the Syrian uprising is complex. On the one hand, the Shammar instinctively want to support their Syrian cousins and could gain tremendously from a friendly Sunni-led government in Damascus. On the other hand, both Baghdad and the Assad regime are intensely courting them. On May 30, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki concluded a long period of wooing by holding a special cabinet session in Ninawa province, the Shammar heartland, offering the tribesmen jobs in the security forces as well as the most traditional of incentives: government-funded irrigation of tribal farmlands. Maliki and the Shammar share a mutual enemy -- the Kurds, who have led the effort to unseat the prime minister in recent months and have a deep historical schism with the Shammar. Reflecting this divide, the Assad regime has used some Shammar sub-tribes in Syria as armed militias to suppress Kurdish activism in the northeast. Thus far, the Shammar have been following Baghdad's advice not to add fuel to the fire in Syria, at least publicly and rhetorically. On May 7, tribal leader Sheikh Abdullah al-Yawer al-Shammari told Agence France-Presse, "Enough bloodshed...As Iraqis, we are unprepared to fight for anyone."Euphrates Valley tribes. The more densely populated Euphrates River Valley has connected Syrian and Iraqi tribes for hundreds of years, with Syrian locals along the river speaking an Iraqi rather than Syrian dialect. During the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, the tribes and mosques of Deir al-Zour provided significant numbers of fighters, weapons, and other forms of support to insurgents in Anbar province. Today, news reports indicate that Iraqi tribes, primarily in the Euphrates Valley, are now reversing the flow by sending weapons and even some fighters to support their Syrian cousins in Deir al-Zour.In addition, Saudi and Qatari funding has reportedly accelerated Iraqi assistance to rebels in eastern Syria. In February and March, Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani and Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal publicly called for the arming of oppositionists in the Free Syrian Army. And a February 22 Wall Street Journal report was one of many articles to allege Gulf intervention, stating that tribal leaders "from Nineveh and Anbar are being asked by Gulf Arab officials or through intermediaries such as Jordan-based Iraqi businessmen to support the Syrian opposition."
IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. POLICYAlthough Iraqi tribal support may help Syria's eastern rebels, giving them a line of supply and a protected "rear area," it also raises some concerns. Gulf donors have strong ties to the pivotal Iraqi Shammar confederation as well as excellent capacity to boost Iraqi assistance to the Syrian opposition. Yet U.S. policymakers should weigh the repercussions that direct foreign appeals to Iraqi tribal leaders might have on future Iraqi-Gulf relations, on Baghdad's relationship with local Sunni Arab stakeholders, and on Iraq's own cohesion.
The role of affiliate group al-Qaeda in Iraq is also a concern, though some positive indicators are apparent. Syrian rebels in Deir al-Zour seem keen to limit the organization's involvement in their province, where al-Qaeda threatened and even killed local sheikhs during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Many of the Iraqi tribes providing support to their Syrian relatives are also focused on reducing al-Qaeda involvement. The more desperate the Syrian rebels become, however, the more likely they are to accept the organization's help. In a May 24 BBC interview, one Sunni rebel stated, "I tell the UN and the UN Security Council, the Syrian people can't take it anymore...If no-one helps us, we will turn to the devil himself."
To reduce blowback in Iraqi and regional affairs, the United States should monitor the situation by taking advantage of the close relationships it has forged with many senior Sunni Arab tribal leaders along the Iraq-Syria border since 2003. Only by maintaining a detailed understanding of cross-border dynamics can Washington hope to strengthen the Syrian opposition while denying al-Qaeda affiliates a greater role in either country.
Michael Knights is a Lafer fellow with The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, and the Gulf Arab states.
2 degrees by John D. Sutter
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:44
2 degrees by John D. SutterI'm spending the rest of the year reporting on a little-known but hugely important number: 2 degrees Celsius. That's the agreed upon threshold for dangerous climate change. I need your help to do it. Look for about one e-mail update per week as I explore what the world will look like if the climate warms 2 degrees -- and what would stop us short of that mark. Send ideas to john.sutter@cnn.com or @jdsutter.
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Michael Botticelli (politician) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:26
Michael P. Botticelli (born January 2, 1958) is an American public official. He serves as the Director of the White HouseOffice of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), serving as acting director after the March 2014 resignation of Gil Kerlikowske, and receiving confirmation from the United States Senate in February 2015. Prior to joining ONDCP, he worked in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Early life and education[edit]Botticelli was raised in Waterford, New York,[1] in a family with a history of alcoholism.[2][3] He received a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from Siena College and a Masters in Education from St. Lawrence University.[4]
Botticelli began drinking alcohol regularly in his junior year of high school. By his 20s, he was an alcoholic.[2] He also experimented with cocaine and marijuana.[1] He was arrested for driving under the influence following a traffic collision on the Massachusetts Turnpike in 1988.[2] A judge gave him the option of going into treatment or being sentenced to prison, and he chose to enter treatment.[3]
After achieving sobriety, Botticelli joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in 1994. He worked as a coordinator for alcoholism programs from 1994 through 1995, as contract manager for HIV-related policies and services from 1995 through 1996, as an assistant director for policy and planning from 1996 through 2000, as the chief of staff to the public health commissioner from 2000 through 2003, and as director of substance abuse services from 2003 to 2012.[5] In the latter role, he oversaw the pilot program for Quincy, Massachusetts, police to begin carrying naloxone to treat opioidoverdose, and the expansion of substance abuse treatment services in community health centers.[2][5]
Gil Kerlikowske, serving as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under PresidentBarack Obama, met Botticelli on a visit to Massachusetts, and asked him to serve as deputy director. In March 2014, following Kerlikowske's confirmation as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Botticelli became acting director. He is the first director of the ONDCP to be in recovery for substance use.[2] The United States Senate confirmed Botticelli in February 2015 by a vote of 92-0.[6] As director of ONDCP, Botticelli has advocated to expand the usage of naloxone, improved education for providers around prescription painkillers, and providing clean syringes for injection drug users to limit the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.[1]
Affiliations[edit]Botticelli is a member of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. He is a former advisory committee member of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.[7]
Honors and awards[edit]Ramstad/Kennedy National Award for Outstanding Leadership in Promoting Addiction Recovery (2008)[7]National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors Service Award (2012)[7]Personal[edit]Botticelli is openly gay and married.[2] He and his partner have dated since 1995, and were married in 2009.[8]
References[edit]^ abcSchwarz, Alan (April 25, 2015). "Michael Botticelli Is a Drug Czar Who Knows Addiction Firsthand". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2015. ^ abcdef"US drug czar has roots in Boston, alcoholism - Metro". The Boston Globe. June 22, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2014. ^ ab"Acting 'Drug Czar' Walks the Talk". NationalJournal.com. Retrieved June 24, 2014. ^"President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. January 27, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2014. ^ abJoin Together Staff (February 1, 2012). "Obama Announces Intent to Nominate New Deputy Director for ONDCP | The Partnership at". Drugfree.org. Retrieved June 24, 2014. ^Everett, Burgess (February 9, 2015). "Senate confirms new drug czar". Politico. Retrieved February 9, 2015. ^ abc"Michael Botticelli - Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy". WhiteHouse.gov. Retrieved 14 July 2014. ^WUSA 7:12 a.m. EDT April 30, 2014 (April 30, 2014). "New face of recovery: White House drug czar". Wusa9.com. Retrieved June 24, 2014. External links[edit]
Presidential Determination -- Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:25
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2015
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016
In accordance with section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the "Act") (8 U.S.C. 1157), and after appropriate consultations with the Congress, I hereby make the following determinations and authorize the following actions:
The admission of up to 85,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest; provided that this number shall be understood as including persons admitted to the United States during FY 2016 with Federal refugee resettlement assistance under the Amerasian immigrant admissions program, as provided below.
The admissions numbers shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with the following regional allocations; provided that the number of admissions allocated to the East Asia region shall include persons admitted to the United States during FY 2016 with Federal refugee resettlement assistance under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988, as contained in section 101(e) of Public Law 100-202 (Amerasian immigrants and their family members):
Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,000
East Asia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,000
Europe and Central Asia . . . . . . . . . . . 4,000
Latin America/Caribbean. . . . . . . . . . . 3,000
Near East/South Asia. . . . . . . . . . . . 34,000
Unallocated Reserve . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000
The 6,000 unallocated refugee numbers shall be allocated to regional ceilings, as needed. Upon providing notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are hereby authorized to use unallocated admissions in regions where the need for additional admissions arises.
Additionally, upon notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are further authorized to transfer unused admissions allocated to a particular region to one or more other regions, if there is a need for greater admissions for the region or regions to which the admissions are being transferred.
Consistent with section 2(b)(2) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, I hereby determine that assistance to or on behalf of persons applying for admission to the United States as part of the overseas refugee admissions program will contribute to the foreign policy interests of the United States and designate such persons for this purpose. Consistent with section 101(a)(42) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(42)), and after appropriate consultation with the Congress, I also specify that, for FY 2016, the following persons may, if otherwise qualified, be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence:
Persons in CubaPersons in Eurasia and the BalticsPersons in IraqPersons in Honduras, Guatemala, and El SalvadorIn exceptional circumstances, persons identified by a United States Embassy in any locationYou are authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
Senate panel skeptical about U.S.-China cyber accord
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:24
Senate panel skeptical about U.S.-China cyber accordBy Sean LyngaasSep 29, 2015The Obama administration's new cyber agreement with China came under bipartisan scrutiny from the Senate Armed Services Committee for its perceived vagueness and lack of enforceability and effectiveness.
The modest cyber agreement reached by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week includes a provision stating that neither government would knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, a charge that many U.S. lawmakers have leveled at China.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee's chairman, blasted the agreement at a Sept. 29 hearing as being comprised of "vague commitments" and criticized the White House for having "chosen to reward China" by asking Beijing to help build international cyber norms.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work portrayed the accord as a stepping-stone for hashing out thornier issues in cyberspace rather than an end unto itself.
"This isn't a treaty or anything like that," Work told lawmakers. "It's a confidence-building measure for us to find out if China is going to act responsibly."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the committee he was not optimistic the agreement would do away with China-sponsored cyberattacks but argued that the threat of U.S. sanctions against Chinese firms for conducting or benefiting from cyber espionage had brought Beijing to the negotiating table.
Asked if the agreement had any teeth, Clapper said penalties for violating the accord are implied rather than explicit and offered Ronald Reagan's adage of trust, but verify.
DOD vulnerabilities probed
The U.S. defense industrial base has been a target of Chinese cyber espionage, according to multiple reports. A confidential 2013 Defense Department report cited by the Washington Post said Chinese spies had hacked designs for some of the United States' most advanced weapon systems.
National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers said defense contractors are vulnerable to cyber espionage and that although the Pentagon has tightened cybersecurity requirements in contracts, "we're clearly not where we need to be."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told Rogers, "if it takes more money [to address the problem], let us know."
Cyber vulnerabilities in the weapons systems the Pentagon procures are "a big, big problem," Work said. "Many of the weapons that we have now were not built to withstand a concerted cyberthreat."
He told senators that Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is overseeing a thorough review of cyber vulnerabilities in weapons systems, and the Pentagon is requiring cybersecurity to be incorporated into the design of those systems.
The debate on Capitol Hill and at the White House over how and when to confront China in cyberspace is part of a larger search for a coherent set of cybersecurity policies, including one of cyber deterrence. Lawmakers have repeatedly bemoaned what they say is a lack of deterrence policy from the administration, and Clapper, for one, has said federal networks will continue to be hit by attacks until such a policy is in place.
"Our adversaries view our response to malicious cyber activity as timid and ineffectual," McCain said. "Put simply, the problem is a lack of deterrence."
Work later said that he and Defense Secretary Ash Carter both "recognize that we are not where we need to be in our deterrent posture," adding that "we need to improve in this area, without question."
There are three prongs of the Pentagon's approach to cyber deterrence, Work said: denial, resilience and cost imposition. Officials are further along in defending computer networks and making them resilient to attacks than they are on making it more costly for adversaries to carry out those attacks, he added.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas
Presidential Proclamation -- National Energy Action Month, 2015
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:21
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2015
- - - - - - -
As Americans, we have a profound obligation to our children and our grandchildren -- to help them live better lives than we did, and to ensure the choices we make do not limit the range of their dreams. The key to realizing a future in which our young people are not held back by choices of the past lies in the promise of a clean, sustainable America. During National Energy Action Month, we rededicate ourselves to bolstering energy efficiency, investing in innovative clean power, and working together to preserve our planet for generations to come.
My Administration remains committed to securing a stable, energy-independent future for our Nation -- and while there is much work to be done, we have made significant advances in recent years. The United States is now the world's top producer of oil and natural gas, and we have set strict fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, which are helping to wean us off our decades-old addiction to foreign oil. We are transitioning away from energy sources that contribute to climate change and threaten our health and safety -- instead moving toward clean energy sources and ambitiously investing in alternatives like wind and solar. Taking our place as a major player in clean energy, we are harnessing over 3 times as much electricity from wind and 20 times as much from the sun as we did in 2008. We also remain dedicated to ensuring the safe and secure use of nuclear power, which generates over 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity. And we will continue working to improve our energy efficiency, double our energy productivity, and explore any and all ways of saving consumers money while reducing our total energy consumption. These efforts are vital to preserving our way of life and will help protect our environment and boost our Nation's economy.
As the world's second-largest emitter, America must recognize the role we play in contributing to our planet's changing climate and do all we can to make our air cleaner and safer for our children to breathe. Through our historic announcement with China last November, the United States agreed to double the pace at which we cut our emissions, while China committed for the first time to limiting theirs. In addition, this past summer, as part of our Clean Power Plan, I announced the first set of nationwide standards aimed at reducing the carbon emitted from our country's existing power plants. This plan will aid in our fight against climate change while strengthening our economy and helping fulfill our moral obligation to leave our kids and grandkids with a stable planet. And we are leading by example in Washington: I signed an Executive Order earlier this year that aims to cut the Federal Government's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase its share of electricity consumption from renewable sources to 30 percent over the next 10 years.
Last year, the global economy grew while global emissions remained flat for the first time ever, and we have seen that our goals of addressing energy challenges and driving economic progress are mutually compatible. In that spirit, I will keep fighting to build a more sustainable society for all people by investing in clean sources of energy -- including wind, which could provide as much as 35 percent of our electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 States by 2050 -- as well as solar, which has added jobs 10 times faster than any other sector of our economy. Additionally, I recently committed to getting 20 percent of our country's energy from renewables -- beyond hydroelectric power -- by 2030. My Administration will continue supporting technology, including new and advanced nuclear technology, that moves us closer to a brighter energy future, advances energy efficiency, and develops cleaner fuels.
Though we may never see the full realization of our ambition in our time, we can still have the satisfaction of knowing we did everything within our power to leave this world better than it was. During National Energy Action Month, let us recommit to forging the future that is within our capacity to reach by supporting clean, renewable, and independent means of energy production and by taking control of our own energy consumption. Everything we have is at stake -- and we must fight for it.
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 October 2015 as National Energy Action Month. I call upon the citizens of the United States to recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
Presidential Memorandum -- Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(1) and 552(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:20
SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(1) and 552(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State:
The authority under section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) to direct the drawdown of up to $20 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense and military education and training to provide assistance for the Government of Ukraine, and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown; and(2) The authority under section 552(c)(2) of the FAA to direct the drawdown of up to $1.5 million in nonlethal commodities and services from any agency of the United States Government to provide assistance for the Government of Ukraine, and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown.
You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
Time for U.S. to gut 'malware kingpins'
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:18
Time for U.S. to gut 'malware kingpins'By Zach NobleSep 29, 2015Cyber deterrence doesn't have to be a one-nation game. During a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Sept. 29, representatives of major cybersecurity firms and think tanks urged American leaders to get more aggressive and build an international cyber enforcement coalition.
"What is the acceptable level of [information] loss for this country?" asked Richard Bejtlich, chief security strategist at FireEye. "Simply by inaction we're tolerating quite a bit right now."
For too long, the U.S. has been like a department store that allows shoplifters to run wild with everything from sensitive personal information to intellectual property, Bejtlich said. But that can and should change.
"It was difficult for us to establish a norm saying we shouldn't steal from the other nations' private sectors," he added. But now that the U.S. and China have brokered a cyber pact that addresses the protection of intellectual property rights, Bejtlich said the U.S. should press the offensive and enlist a global coalition to fight cybercrime.
He added that there are only 100 or so "malware kingpins" worldwide capable of writing the most destructive code, and by working with other countries, the U.S. could gut many hacking organizations before they do more damage.
He argued for both retaliation against hackers and preemptive strikes.
"When something significant happens like [the Office of Personnel Management breach], we should take a response," Bejtlich said, noting that vigilant technologies could enable the military to identify cyberthreats and disrupt adversarial activity before it begins.
Although Bejtlich speculated that the Defense Department's cyber outfits could work with allies to disrupt hackers' capabilities preemptively, New America Foundation Senior Fellow Ian Wallace noted the power of political and economic pressure.
"The deterrence of cyberthreats doesn't have to happen in cyberspace," he said.
Wallace called DOD's revised cyber strategy a "necessary and welcome update" with an "admirable new level of transparency." But he said DOD needs to approach cybersecurity with revolutionary vigor and expose senior commanders to more of the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity.
"Rather than treating cyber operators off to the side as techies, [what's needed is] integrating cyber operators" and having them "go on to command full-spectrum operations," Wallace said.
Bejtlich also called for a U.S. chief information security officer, with authorities comparable to those of U.S. CIO Tony Scott and U.S. CTO Megan Smith.
Nevertheless, Wallace said DOD should not become the private sector's "default choice" for cyber protection.
"If the military becomes the first place that everybody turns to, that's going to become a burden that the military cannot bear in the long term," Wallace said.
DOD's role should largely be limited to alerting companies about incoming threats, he added.
Bejtlich largely agreed, though he said the military should step in to stop an attack on critical infrastructure.
And in the long run, cybersecurity operations might need to become a separate service branch.
"If you want to be able to keep and retain the best [skilled cyber warriors] for the longest term, you're going to need to break them off," Bejtlich said. "Strategic cyber is going to need to be its own service with its own culture."
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
Memorandum -- Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 and Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:08
SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 404(c)(1) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (22 U.S.C. 2370c-1) (CSPA), to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA to Yemen, and to make the determinations necessary for such waiver. I hereby also delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 404(c)(2) of the CSPA to notify the appropriate congressional committees of such waiver and the justification for granting such waiver.
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
Child Soldiers: A Backward Step by the White House
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:08
Presidential Memorandum--Child Soldiers Prevention Act
Presidential DeterminationNo. 2011-4
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination with Respect to Section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, pursuant to section 404(c) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA), title IV of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (Public Law 110 457), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA.
You are authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, along with the accompanying memorandum of justification, and to publish it in the Federal Register.
So, let's see what the relevent part of The Child Soldiers Prevention Act says:
SEC. 404. PROHIBITION.(a) In General'--Subject to subsections (b), (c), and (d), the authorities contained in section 516 or 541 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321j or 2347) or section 23 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2763) may not be used to provide assistance to, and no licenses for direct commercial sales of military equipment may be issued to, the government of a country that is clearly identified, pursuant to subsection (b), for the most recent year preceding the fiscal year in which the authorities or license would have been used or issued in the absence of a violation of this title, as having governmental armed forces or government-supported armed groups, including paramilitaries, militias, or civil defense forces, that recruit and use child soldiers.
(c) National Interest Waiver'--(1) WAIVER'--The President may waive the application to a country of the prohibition in subsection (a) if the President determines that such waiver is in the national interest of the United States.(2) PUBLICATION AND NOTIFICATION'--Not later than 45 days after each waiver is granted under paragraph (1), the President shall notify the appropriate congressional committees of the waiver and the justification for granting such waiver.
So, in other words, if I understand this correctly, the Act prohibits the United States from selling arms, or facilitating arms sales to countries which recruit and use child soldiers, and the President has determined that it is the US interest to arm these militaries anyway. So the US is arming child soldiers, or facilitating the arming of them.
Now let's look at the definition of child soldier in the law:
(2) CHILD SOLDIER'--Consistent with the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the term `child soldier''--(A) means'--(i) any person under 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces;(ii) any person under 18 years of age who has been compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces;(iii) any person under 15 years of age who has been voluntarily recruited into governmental armed forces; or(iv) any person under 18 years of age who has been recruited or used in hostilities by armed forces distinct from the armed forces of a state; and(B) includes any person described in clauses (ii), (iii), or (iv) of subparagraph (A) who is serving in any capacity, including in a support role such as a cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave.
I have tried to find the memorandum of justification, but have been unable to. If any of you are able to find, I would be most grateful.
Now let's look at one of the prisoners who was at Guantanamo Bay:
Mohammed el Gharani is a citizen of Chad who was detained for seven years in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[1] [2] [3]
His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 269. El Qarani is a native of Saudi Arabia[4] and American intelligence analysts estimate he was born in 1986, in Medina, Saudi Arabia.[5]
On June 15, 2005 Human Rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith identified Al Qarani as one of a dozen teenage boys held in the adult portion of the prison.[6] According to Smith Al Qarani was born in November 1987.
On May 28, 2006 The Independent said Al Qarani was accused of plotting with Abu Qatada, in London, in 1999 '' when he was a 12 year old, living with his parents, in Saudi Arabia.[7]
Main article: minors detained in the global war on terrorOn January 14, 2009 U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the release of Al Qarani because the evidence that he was an enemy combatant was mostly limited to statements from two other detainees whose credibility had been called into question by US government staff.[1]
As noted, this tortured child was from Chad, one of the countries that the President gave a waiver to. Why are those two facts clanging around in my head ?
Please consider signing the NGOs letter to President Obama on this issue:http://www.hrw.org/...
When we, as adults, don't stand up against the use of children as soldiers, this is what happens.
No child should be a soldier.
We, as adults, need to take the responsibility to stand up and say "NO !"
Please, if you agree with me, contact the White House and say, "NOT IN MY NAME !"
Please, if you agree with me, contact your congressional representative and your senators and say, "NOT IN MY NAME !"
Please, if you agree with me, join the Zero Force Army. http://www.zeroforce.org/
read more information at childsoldierinitiative.org
Please stand up do the right thing, with gratitude, For Dan, Heather
The ''Edward Snowden'' Psyop Continues: @Snowden Joins Twitter Pushing for Comprehensive Asylum Reform
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:06
by Scott Creighton
''HOPE''?''BELIEVE''?idiot?The fraud that is ''Edward Snowden'' isn't over. His ''brand'' hasn't been tarnished as of late so I guess they figured they could keep using his character for still more of George Soros's operational plans. Now that he's successfully been used as the front-man for the passage of the fascist ''Freedom Act'' which gave surveillance authority to Big Business, now it's time his character finds another globalist project to sink his teeth into.
He's been on Twitter for roughly 20 hours and already has a following of more than 186,000. He follows only one Twitter feed'... the NSA. You would think the CIA would give him all the NSA updates he needs these days, but I guess that psyop is over so he's not getting the talking points memos anymore.
The ''Snowden'' character now resides on a board of directors for something called the Freedom of the Press Foundation along with a number of shady looking folks from projects like Tor for instance, which was developed by the State Department and used in countries we were working to regime change. If you use Tor and think anything you say is being kept secret, just stop. You might as well be CCing all your communications to the Department of Homeland security directly.
They have something else they push at this ''foundation'' which is a ''secure drop'' box for any alternative investigative journalists who want whistle-blowers to feel secure in giving them secrets. You might as well CC that stuff straight to the Defense Department, cus I'm sure that's what ''secure drop'' box does.
His first Tweet was something about ''Can you hear me now'' which is fitting because it's a Verizon catch-phrase featuring a character who looks an awful lot like the ''Edward Snowden'' character.
Of course, we all know by now that the Freedom Act (brought to you by the work of folks like Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and ''Edward Snowden'') empowers companies like Verizon to harvest all your data and communications and use them as they see fit. All they need now is the new CISPA (CISA) and they will have their fascist control grid in place.
''Snowden's'' little smirking jab, ''can you hear me now'' must be one of those inside jokes they don't think anyone gets but themselves.
It should be noted, Greenwald and Poitras are both on the board of directors of that honey-pot ''foundation'' ''Snowden'' is working with.
His second Tweet plays right into George Soros' operational plans to remake all the asylum rules for the EU. That's another globalist agenda they have on their plate and as coincidence would have it, ''Snowden'' makes a thinly veiled reference to that right away.
What's that line from Glengarry Glen Ross? ''Never Stop Selling''?
Think of it. ''Snowden'' is the perfect man without a country to help push George Soros' border reform agenda in Europe. Ergo, he signs up on Twitter after all this time (coincidence? I don't think so)
When he first signed up, he had 90k followers immediately. My best guess is they were from influence peddlers trolling the interwebs and they signed up all their various personas as followers as well.
Yes ladies and gents, the ''Edward Snowden'' psyop isn't over just yet. They still have more products to sell us with this CIA sheep-dipped asset. Looks like we'll have to suffer some more of his insufferable ''cool dude for rightness'' act in the days and weeks to come.
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Filed under: NSA "Leak" Scandal, Scott Creighton
Terrorist Compound Found Deep In The Heart Of Texas | American Military News
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 05:34
In the rural, deeply wooded town of Sweeny, Texas lies a terrorist ''enclave'' called 'Mahmoudberg' run by an organization called Muslims of the Americas; a group once labeled as a terrorist organization by the FBI. It was founded in New York in 1980 by Sheik Mubarak Ali Gilan.
The enclave acts as a commune, and residents are said to consist of a diverse group including a police officer and Army vet. It was discovered by the FBI after a tip from a member living in a related village in upstate New York.
What's concerning is that Muslims of the Americas is said to be connected with a Pakistani group, guilty of partnering with al-Qaeda and Hezbollah named: Jamaat al-Fuqra.
According to these newly declassified FBI documents, the Texas site is said to be ''so rural it is quite common for residents to shoot firearms for target practice or hunting on private property without interference from law enforcement.''
In the last few years, no new info has emerged and no action taken due to the groups complex legal status.
Have you heard about similar villages? Let us know in the comments below!
From WND:
Declassified FBI documents confirm the existence of an Islamic jihadist enclave in Texas that is part of a network in the U.S. identified by the Department of Homeland Security as a terrorist organization.
The enclave belongs to the network of Muslims of the Americas, which is linked to the Pakistani-based militant group Jamaat al-Fuqra, according to an investigation by the Clarion Project and ACT! For America Houston.
Jamaat al-Fuqra was founded in New York in 1980 by Sheik Mubarak Ali Gilani, an Islamic cleric in Pakistan who at one time was in Pakistani custody in connection with the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Muslims of the Americas says it has a network of 22 ''villages'' around the U.S., with headquarters at an encampment in the Catskill Mountains near Hancock, N.Y., called Holy Islamberg, as WND reported in 2006. An investigative report at the time found neighbors of Islamberg were deeply concerned about military-style training taking place there and frustrated by an apparent lack of attention from federal authorities.
Read more at WND
deconflict - Wiktionary
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 04:20
Etymology[edit]From de- + conflict.
Pronunciation[edit]Verb[edit]deconflict 'Ž(third-person singular simple presentdeconflicts, present participledeconflicting, simple past and past participledeconflicted)
(military) To change the flightpath of a craft or weapon in order that there is less chance of an accidental collision.(computer science) To resolve contradictory conclusions or responses to queries in a rule-based or deductive reasoning system.To alter (something) to avoid conflicting with something elseWe need to deconflict our schedules to find a time when we can all meet.Derived terms[edit]Anagrams[edit]
The Particular Genius That Is The Trump Tax Plan'...
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 02:31
So outspoken GOP-front-runner Donald Trump did what so many were asking him to do '' he got specific.Yesterday he unveiled what is a relatively comprehensive tax plan that now has his political enemies attempting to use it against him and his supporters declaring it as evidence he is of sound mind and economic body and is just what an economically tepid America needs at this point after years of being mired in the anti-growth policies of the Obama administration.Overall, I find the plan bold, interesting, and having the potential to do a great deal of good. There is one portion of the plan though that goes beyond those attributes. It's genius and frankly, something that could be an economic game-changer for America.
The above list is what is presently garnering the most media attention and there's little there or me to argue against. I am comfortable calling it rather Reaganesque in both scope and substance, and living in an America that mirrors the Reagan-era economy would be a wonderful thing. The Trump plan is perhaps the single most pro-growth comprehensive tax reform proposal we have seen in quite some time and a wonderful departure from the no growth/low growth Obama economy that millions are currently suffering from.
Here is where the Trump tax plan moves into the realm of truly unique (genius perhaps?) and pro-American jobs. He is proposing a one-time tax on overseas profits that would be applied to an amount that now exceeds two TRILLION dollars. Companies would have a 10% tax applied to those profits, but several years in which to pay it. The end result would be much of that money would then return back into the United States instead of remaining offshore free from U.S. tax law. And when that money returns, so too will a far greater corporate investment into the American economy which will no doubt create JOBS-JOBS-JOBS, particularly when you combine the above scenario with Mr. Trump's proposed 15% corporate tax limit. It would be a historic one-two economic punch not seen in generations and would allow the United States to re-emerge as a place that actually makes things and provides near-limitless prosperity potential for those who call this country home.
Not only would American companies be returning in droves to do business once again inside of the United States, but foreign corporations would be doing the same. We could realistically see a U.S. economy growing annually at rates of five or even six percent '' millions of new jobs, millions of people moved off of government subsidies and living proud, self-sufficient lives that contribute to the betterment of society.
The Trump tax plan is also the single most pro-Middle Class proposal voters have had put before them by any of the current candidates running for president '' more high wage jobs that then result in a lower tax burden meaning families would have more money in their own pockets to spend as they choose, not as the government mandates. And therein lies the foundation of the Trump plan '' an emphasis on the individual at the expense of Big Government, again a very Reaganesque concept and a direct contradiction to the Obama mentality that believes Big Government is both worthy and wise and thus should be fed with an ever increasing amount of your tax dollars in order to sustain its power over you.
Lower taxes. More jobs here in America. Greater freedom.
I rather like the sound of that.
What say you?
__________________D.W. Ulsterman is the author of several best-selling titles, including the just-released RACE WARS series:
An Open Letter to Airbnb & Emey About Housing and Prop F: '-- Medium
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 02:06
An Open Letter to Airbnb & Emey About Housing and Prop F:Disclosure: I would find it funny if anyone ever called me a ''paid shill,'' but I do work as the Executive Director of the Housing Rights Committee of SF, a nonprofit tenants rights organization that offers free counseling for San Francisco tenants in all types of housing, including rent-control, SROs, public housing and Section 8. Like Emey, I am a long-time SF resident and while I hope that people read things before they vote, I actually hope that they get involved in local issues beyond just reading. Unlike Emey, however, I strongly support Proposition F.
Dear Emey (Airbnb)-
I really enjoyed your recent piece'Š'--'Šthe dramatically titled ''I Have Read Prop F, and It is Way Worse Than You Think'''Š'--'Šthat is getting passed around the Internet. I know that if you say something enough, people are bound to believe it, so I thought I'd respond via an open letter. And with Airbnb, the primary funder of No on F, spending $8 million on a fear campaign to spread lies about Prop F,'Š'--'ŠI thought it would be a good opportunity to set the record straight. Never believe everything that a multi-billion dollar corporation tells you, especially with that kind of money. Unfortunately, big corporations lie all the time when it's profitable'Š'--'Šas thousands of VW owners just found out.
There's a lot of fun stuff in your piece to address'Š'--'Ša lot of which is addressed in the recent piece ''I Have Read Prop F And It's Perfectly Normal'''Š'--'Šbut I think it's important to educate voters about what's happening with housing in the city, the effects of short-term rentals and why I think we must pass Prop F to protect our neighborhoods.
First, let me get this out of the way: You say, ''It's actually really hard to find the text online'' and '''...you'll see exactly why they don't want you to read the text.'' Really? I typed ''text prop F sf'' in the search bar and whatya know? The text of Prop F! popped up in 20 seconds. (p.s., all that money you spent on Google ads is working: The No on F link pops up at the top even if you search for Pope Francis. Glad all that money is getting you something.). I guess you can fault the campaign for not including a link on its website, but to say the text is hard to find is ludicrous.
Now, on to the real issue:
Airbnb is Not Helping the Housing Crisis, It's Making It Worse
I've worked on tenants' rights and affordable housing here in the city for about 20 years, and right now, our housing situation is the worst that I've ever seen. There have been about 10,000 evictions since 2010, most fueled by real estate speculation and the new profit found in renting to high-paying tourists rather than long-term tenants (who have, you know, rights and stuff). Ellis Act, owner move-in, nuisance violations, illegal intimidation'Š'--'Šyou name it and it's happening now. Every tenant in the city knows that if they have to leave their apartment that their time in San Francisco is over.
I think what I find most fascinating (and troubling) about the discussion around Prop F is how Airbnb and the other 60 or so hosting platform companies get a complete pass on any responsibility for what their business model is doing to neighborhoods and housing markets, and the fact that they intentionally turn a blind eye to the many abusers on their sites who openly break the law (more on that later). Ignoring the law and undoing years of carefully thought out housing regulations isn't an innovation, it's simply putting profit over people. This isn't the ''sharing'' economy, it's the profit economy'Š'--'Šand right now, Airbnb is profiting off of our housing crisis.
Prop F didn't come out of nowhere, and it was not created in the backrooms of the hotel industry. I am part of the coalition of tenant and housing groups that moved to put it on the ballot when it became clear that City Hall was going to cater to corporations like Airbnb rather than solve the short-term rental issue.
Just some of the San Francisco tenants who have been evicted for no cause this year.San Francisco and literally hundreds of cities all over the world are dealing with the fact that the Airbnb model has gutted the basic foundation of housing regulations in every city where it exists (let's not forget that Airbnb was illegal in SF from its start in 2008 to February 2015, ignoring the law while city government did nothing). We have a severe housing crisis and Airbnb is making it worse: Rather than use much-needed housing for residents, we are instead using it for tourists. For cities like San Francisco with extremely tight housing markets'Š'--'Šincluding Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and New York City'Š'--'Šthe problem is even worse. For more information on the importance of regulating short-term rentals, read here.
''What concerns us is when someone purchases one or more properties with the aim to turn them into tourist rentals. We don't have enough properties to house Parisians.'' said Ian Brossat, Paris' deputy mayor in charge of housing.
Deputy Mayor Brossat could have been speaking about San Francisco.
· Over two thirds (68%) of all short-term rentals in San Francisco are for entire homes/units, not spare rooms.
· Airbnb and VRBO alone account for roughly 4,500 entire homes and apartments removed from the San Francisco rental market. They've taken away 1,000 units more than the 3,500 new units San Francisco built in all of 2014.
· In addition to Airbnb and VRBO, over 60 other companies offer short-term rentals to tourists, meaning SF may have lost up to 10,000 units to full-time tourist accommodation. That drives up rents. And it incentivizes evictions.
The Current Law Is Unenforceable
The No on F side says that we already have a law and should give it a chance to work. But we already know the law doesn't work. It was built to fail by Airbnb's friends in City Hall. Let's look at a couple of examples: Emily Benkert has 10 active Airbnb listings. Do you think she is the primary resident of each of them, as required by the current law? She's definitely not registered with the city. Or take Fergus O'Sullivan, who has left a trail of evictions and illegal tenancies. Or maybe Vic Wang who has no less than 28 active Airbnb listings. Working folks renting a spare room to make ends meet? Yeah. Right.
We also know from experience that the city did nothing for years when short-term rentals were illegal (2008''2015) prior to the new law and the city did no enforcement against even the most obvious violators.
For example, there have been 350 complaints re: short-term rentals filed with the city since the beginning of 2014 and only nine notices of violation. Only 2% of complaints are actual violations and all nine of these were issued just weeks before this current election? Coincidence?
And virtually nothing is being done about these abuses.
Why? Because the current law is unenforceable, and that's intentional. In the midst of the city's worst housing crisis in over 50 years, the law allows people like Emily and others to take multiple units and homes off the market and illegally list them on sites like Airbnb with no repercussions. And in the meantime, Airbnb continues to make money off these illegal listings.
As of September 2015, only 600 out of the 5,400 SF listings on Airbnb have actually registered with the city. Yes, that's right'Š'--'Š90% of Airbnb's listings are illegal'Š'--'Šbut under the current law, nothing happens.
''We have no way of enforcing'' the new law,
said Planning Department communications Manager Gina Simi.
That's not me talking, it's the city's own Planning Department. In a memo earlier this year the department called the current law ''unenforceable'' and laid out the ways that the current law can be flouted:
· Without Airbnb providing its data to city officials, city regulators can't be sure that every host on the site is registered and paid up.
· Officials who are supposed to enforce the law have no way to know whether somebody was or wasn't in the house for 90 days.
· The $50 registration fee isn't enough to cover the cost of administering the law.
What the law needs, according to the Planning Department, is:
· Booking data from the online services, so the department can crosscheck to see that rentals being offered are registered with the city.
· A straight cap on the number of days any unit can be rented out per year. Current law limits rentals of unit to 90 days if the owner isn't home'Š'--'Šsomething that's ''virtually impossible'' to prove.
· A way to cover the actual cost of administering the law, which the two-year, $50 registration fee doesn't come close to doing.
Were any of those suggestions included when the Board of Supervisors amended the law in July? NO. Rather than give the law teeth with real enforcement mechanisms, as their own Planning Department requested, all the supervisors added was window dressing, the new Office of Short-Term Rental Administration that has no new enforcement powers.
Airbnb and Other Companies Could Stop Abuse Right Now But Refuse
Here's the kicker, Emey: Airbnb and the other companies could put a stop to the vast majority of short-term rental abuse by simply allowing only units or homes legally registered with the city to be listed on their site. No registration? No listing. Pretty simple. they refuse, despite the clear number of bad actors abusing the system, because they make money off of those illegal listings. Thanks Airbnb!
Criminal Penalties? You're In Jail? Really?
The criminal penalties section, including the penalty being a misdemeanor, comes directly from the current law, you know the one that Airbnb now asks you to ''let work'','Š'--'Šwe didn't invent this nor did we create the penalties for misdemeanors. Try reading Supervisor Chiu's legislation before you try to scare folks about Prop F.
Not knowing about a law isn't an excuse if you end up breaking it. This applies to almost every law, not just Prop F.
Spying On Your Neighbors? What Planet Do You Live On?
I'm not even sure where to start with this. The billboards with people using binoculars to spy on each other? Incentivizing people to spy? Puh-leeze.
Prop F simply lets San Franciscans protect our neighborhoods when City Hall can't or won't. Right now, if you see Airbnb abuse'Š'--'Šsay, apartments in your rent-controlled building illegally turned into tourist hotels, disrupting life for everyone'Š'--'Šthere's not much you can do. Prop F at least gives you a chance to make your case in court and have a shot at getting it fixed but that only happens if the City fails to act.
Lawsuits are how we protect our rights when government won't help. Lawsuits helped right the wrongs done to victims of tobacco industry lies and Enron's fraud. What the No on F side doesn't want you to know is that what they really fear isn't neighbors suing neighbors, but rather neighbors suing Airbnb and other web hosting platforms for breaking the law.
With regards to neighbors suing neighbors, you still have to get and pay for a lawyer. You have to do intensive, rigorous investigation. And you have to actually provide strong evidence to prove your case. You may get your costs back, but only if you win. Not a guarantee'Š'--'Šyou need a strong case. Seeing someone enter or leave a home once with suitcases isn't enough to clear that bar.
We have experience with this. The expedited condo conversion law had a provision that condo conversions would be halted if a lawsuit was filed'Š'--'Šnot won, just filed'Š'--'Šand there were predictions of the courts being overrun by lawsuits, just like No on F says now. In the end no lawsuits were ever filed.
This section also came from the current law:
In addition, an owner, or, business entity in violation of this Chapter or a Hosting Platform in violation of subsection may be liable for civil penalties of not more than $1,000 per day for the period of the unlawful activity. If the City or the interested Party is the prevailing party, the City or the interested Party shall be entitled to the costs of enforcing this Chapter 4A, including reasonable attorneys' fees, to the amount of the monetary award, pursuant to an order of the Court.
That's what Prop F does'Š'--'Šit simply gives interested parties (neighbors) the right to take action to ensure that the law is enforced. This is how Americans have protected themselves from corporate abuse since the 1800s. In Prop F, it simply means that if the city doesn't take action or resolve your complaint in 90 days, then you have the right to sue to ensure that they do. Why? Because we don't trust City Hall to enforce the law, since it hasn't enforced the current one.
If you really believe a multi-billion dollar corporation is spending $8 million on the No on F campaign because it's deeply concerned about your privacy rights (read Airbnb's terms of service'Š'--'Šyou don't have any privacy) or cares about your relations with your neighbors, I've got a bridge to sell you.
Banning In-Law Units for Short-Term Rentals (ABSOLUTELY)
To answer your questions, yes: Prop F does ban the use of in-law units for short-term rentals. This might be the first true thing that the No on F side has said, and the provision is there for a good reason.
The city spent years working on legislation finally passed in 2014 to legalize an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 in-law housing units, specifically to increase affordable housing opportunities for working families who live in San Francisco, not tourists. It makes no sense to turn around a year later, in the midst of a massive housing crisis, to suddenly use those same units for short-term rentals to visitors. Owners of in-law units would not be harmed because those units are not their primary residences.
But if you don't believe me, then check out what then-Supervisor Chiu said about in-law units in his own press release.
''As housing costs have skyrocketed and working families are struggling, we must act quickly to address San Francisco's affordability crisis,'' said Board President David Chiu. ''That's why I'm introducing legislation that will create a pathway to legalize tens of thousands of in-law units, which will help tenants live in safe, affordable housing and homeowners have a good, long-term economic investment.'' (November 2013; emphasis added)
Evictions are on the rise in San Francisco because of the huge profits to be made by Airbnb-ing.$8 Million Dollar Fear Campaign
One question I had before this campaign started was whether or not Airbnb would spend more fighting Prop F than the $10 Million PGE (another benevolent corporation) did in 2008 to fight Prop H, an initiative to create public power in San Francisco. Or whether or not they would spend more than the real estate industry did last year to fight Prop G, the real estate speculation tax.
See a pattern? Any time citizens try to regulate corporations, they respond by spending millions to stop it. Like any other corporation, Airbnb is fighting fair, reasonable regulations by making the simple idea of regulation seem radical, or dare I say, ''extreme.''
San Francisco is losing its arts and its artists due to the housing crisis.Unfortunately, we know from sad experience that big companies lie to protect their profits. Just ask any Volkswagen diesel owner.
I can say pretty safely that in all my years of political involvement that I have never been on the same side of a local issue as Dianne Feinstein. But as a former Mayor, she understands what short-term rentals are doing to the city and why it matters so much.
Other cities like Santa Monica, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona banned Airbnb. Prop F does nothing of the sort'Š'--'Šit simply sets fair, reasonable rules for those wishing to rent out an extra room from time to time, or their entire house when on vacation. Prop F holds corporations like Airbnb accountable by limiting 'hosting platforms' to listing only units that are properly registered with the City, so the city can enforce the law. It's not rocket science. We're just trying to reasonably regulate one of the most vital assets'Š'--'Šhousing'Š'--'Šthat the city has in the face of a wealthy tech industry that wants to commodify absolutely everything without regard for who it hurts along the way.
Being held accountable is why Airbnb is spending $8 million against Prop F.
Don't believe the corporate lies. San Francisco deserves better.
Join me, the Tenants Union, Sierra Club (and even Dianne Feinstein) and vote Yes on Prop F.
Sweden's feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all >> The Spectator
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 01:53
If the cries of 'Je suis Charlie' were sincere, the western world would be convulsed with worry and anger about the Wallstr¶m affair. It has all the ingredients for a clash-of-civilisations confrontation.
A few weeks ago Margot Wallstr¶m, the Swedish foreign minister, denounced the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia. As the theocratic kingdom prevents women from travelling, conducting official business or marrying without the permission of male guardians, and as girls can be forced into child marriages where they are effectively raped by old men, she was telling no more than the truth. Wallstr¶m went on to condemn the Saudi courts for ordering that Raif Badawi receive ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed secularism and free speech. These were 'mediaeval methods', she said, and a 'cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression'. And once again, who can argue with that?
The backlash followed the pattern set by Rushdie, the Danish cartoons and Hebdo. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world's 'rich and varied ethical standards' '-- standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her 'unaccept-able interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia', and I wouldn't bet against anti-Swedish riots following soon.
Yet there is no 'Wallstr¶m affair'. Outside Sweden, the western media has barely covered the story, and Sweden's EU allies have shown no inclination whatsoever to support her. A small Scandinavian nation faces sanctions, accusations of Islamophobia and maybe worse to come, and everyone stays silent. As so often, the scandal is that there isn't a scandal.
It is a sign of how upside-down modern politics has become that one assumes that a politician who defends freedom of speech and women's rights in the Arab world must be some kind of muscular liberal, or neocon, or perhaps a supporter of one of Scandinavia's new populist right-wing parties whose commitment to human rights is merely a cover for anti-Muslim hatred. But Margot Wallstr¶m is that modern rarity: a left-wing politician who goes where her principles take her.
She is foreign minister in Sweden's weak coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, and took office promising a feminist foreign policy. She recognised Palestine in October last year '-- and, no, the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and Gulf Co-operation Council did not condemn her 'unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Israel'. I confess that her gesture struck me as counterproductive at the time. But after Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a Palestinian state as he used every dirty trick he could think of to secure his re-election, she can claim with justice that history has vindicated her.
She moved on to the Saudi version of sharia law. Her criticism was not just rhetorical. She said that it was unethical for Sweden to continue with its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia. In other words, she threatened Swedish arms companies' ability to make money. Saudi Arabia's denial of business visas to Swedes threatened to hurt other companies' profits too. You might think of Swedes as upright social democrats, who have never let worries of appearing tedious stand in the way of their righteousness. But that has never been wholly true, and is certainly not true when there is money at stake.
Sweden is the world's 12th largest arms exporter '-- quite an achievement for a country of just nine million people. Its exports to Saudi Arabia total $1.3 billion. Business leaders and civil servants are also aware that other Muslim-majority countries may follow Saudi Arabia's lead. During the 'cartoon crisis' '-- a phrase I still can't write without snorting with incredulity '-- Danish companies faced global attacks and the French supermarket chain Carrefour took Danish goods off the shelves to appease Muslim customers. A co-ordinated campaign by Muslim nations against Sweden is not a fanciful notion. There is talk that Sweden may lose its chance to gain a seat on the UN Security Council in 2017 because of Wallstr¶m.
To put it as mildly as I can, the Swedish establishment has gone wild. Thirty chief executives signed a letter saying that breaking the arms trade agreement 'would jeopardise Sweden's reputation as a trade and co-operation partner'. No less a figure than His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hauled Wallstr¶m in at the weekend to tell her that he wanted a compromise. Saudi Arabia has successfully turned criticism of its brutal version of Islam into an attack on all Muslims, regardless of whether they are Wahhabis or not, and Wallstr¶m and her colleagues are clearly unnerved by accusations of Islamophobia. The signs are that she will fold under the pressure, particularly when the rest of liberal Europe shows no interest in supporting her.
Sins of omission are as telling as sins of commission. The Wallstr¶m non-affair tells us three things. It is easier to instruct small countries such as Sweden and Israel on what they can and cannot do than America, China or a Saudi Arabia that can call on global Muslim support when criticised. Second, a Europe that is getting older and poorer is starting to find that moral stands in foreign policy are luxuries it can no longer afford. Saudi Arabia has been confident throughout that Sweden needs its money more than it needs Swedish imports.
Finally, and most revealingly in my opinion, the non-affair shows us that the rights of women always come last. To be sure, there are Twitter storms about sexist men and media feeding frenzies whenever a public figure uses 'inappropriate language'. But when a politician tries to campaign for the rights of women suffering under a brutally misogynistic clerical culture she isn't cheered on but met with an embarrassed and hugely revealing silence.
Bernie Sanders Hits 1 Million Online Donations Faster Than Obama
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 01:49
Bernie Sanders has reached 1 million online donations in a faster time span than Barack Obama did in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. The Vermont independent, fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination, hit the target hours before the third-quarter fundraising deadline.
The news is a strong boost to a campaign that has been focused on small donations from the public rather than from big donors and super PACs. In keeping with this theme, the campaign posted the achievement to Reddit, where the SandersForPresident subreddit is currently the largest focused on a presidential campaign. At the time of writing, it has more than 110,000 subscribers.
The achievement beats the record Obama set during his campaigns. For 2012, Obama reached the same benchmark on Oct. 17, 2011. And in his 2008 campaign, the then-senator reached the milestone in February of that year.
The campaign team has not yet announced how much Sanders has raised this quarter. In the last quarter, Sanders' $15 million in donations was eclipsed by Hillary Clinton's $47 million. The Sanders campaign also revealed that 99 percent of donations were under $250, the average being $33.51. This may sound like bad news, but according to CNN, Sanders is running a campaign that aims to spend money slower than Clinton.
Nonetheless, Sanders has some catching up to do in the polls. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll places Clinton at 53 percent of potential Democratic primary voters and Sanders at 38 percent. However, when Joe Biden, who has not announced a run, is included, the lead narrows: Clinton polls at 42 percent, compared to Sanders at 35 percent.
Twitter recently rolled out a feature that allows contributors to donate directly to candidates, but it's unclear how much of Sanders' support comes from the microblogging platform.
A Celebrity Struggle: Staying Off Twitter, for Good - NYTimes.com
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:34
Lena Dunham announced Monday that she was no longer managing her own Twitter account.
''I didn't want to cut off my relationship to it completely,'' she said in aRe/code podcast interview. ''But it really, truly wasn't a safe space for me.''
There are many ways to say goodbye to Twitter. Ms. Dunham has chosen one of the tamest: asking her team to manage her account and interactions with her 2.81 million followers on the social media platform. In doing so, she joins Ashton Kutcher (with over 17.1 million followers) and other formerly loose-fingered celebrities who have decided that their Twitter presence belongs in more capable hands than their own.
It may be difficult for Ms. Dunham to continue to resist the platform's call.
Just two days after the interview was posted, she clarified, through Twitter, that she continues to compose her own tweets. As she explained on the podcast, they are then posted by someone else because she does not have direct access to her account or know her own password.
While many stars have declared themselves to be done with Twitter, the service is often able to coax them back. (Indeed, Mr. Kutcher often appears to have retaken the reins.)
Some stars can barely make it a week. Nicki Minaj, for instance, deleted her account entirely in 2012 after a feud with one of her own fan sites, but returned to the service just nine days later.
The rapper's rival, Iggy Azalea (who has been accused of following Ms. Minaj's lead before), had a similar experience in February of this year. She came back, even after writing that ''the Internet is the ugliest reflection of man there is.''
Prince, Sinead O'Connor, Jaden Smith, John Mayer '-- all of them Twitter quitters, all of them now busily tweeting once more.
Many who leave Twitter are provoked by a particular incident. Chrissy Teigen left after a statement about mass shootings in America caused a nasty response from other users. Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams, was harassed off the platform after her father committed suicide last year. Both of them have since returned.
Those who are able to leave permanently often do so because the website begins to interfere with their careers.
Joss Whedon, the director of ''The Avengers'' movies and creator of the beloved ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' television series amassed a sizable following on Twitter but quit when he decided it was distracting him from his work. He described his thought process to BuzzFeed in May.
If I'm going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place,'' he said. ''And this is the least quiet place I've ever been in my life.''
Damon Lindelof, another writer, best known as the showrunner of ''Lost,'' left Twitter in 2013 and is still off.
''I'm a much happier and well-balanced person for being off of Twitter,'' he told The Daily Beast earlier this year.
Louis C.K. might be the most recognizable celebrity to stop Tweeting for good. In a radio interview this year, he elaborated on what he disliked about the platform.
''Any time I tweeted anything I was like, 'Ugh don't like the way that came out.' And then four and a half million people saw it! It was the worst things I ever said, heard and seen by the most people.''
The actress Megan Fox still has a Twitter account, but has also committed to leaving the platform for good. Her most recent Tweet, from more than two years ago, explains why she hasn't come back.
More Gun Control? The FBI Just Released Its List of Things Deadlier Than 'Assault Rifles'
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:18
Everyday there's a murder in the United States. And everyday, the U.S. public gets hit with another demand for more ''gun control.''
The FBI just released its 2014 list of crime statistics, and there are some data findings that conflict with the calls for more firearms regulations.
The Uniform Crime Reports ''2014 crime in the United States'' breaks down murder by state, and includes the U.S. territories of the Virgin Islands and Guam.
It shows that there were 11,961 murders in 2014 (there were 31 total in the U.S. territories). And 8,124 of those were committed by firearms.
This is how those numbers look in perspective:
Notice that total murders and firearms murders have dropped again.
More salient for the ''gun control'' conversation, however, is the focus on so-called ''assault rifles.'' It turns out that murders by all rifles (as reported by the FBI), including homicides by those semi-automatic rifles that some refer to as ''assault rifles,'' were only 248 of those murders.
Further contextualizing this statistic is that the total number of murders committed by people's hands and feet came to 660 '' more than double the homicides committed by all rifles.
More precisely, there were 142% more murders by hands and feet in 2014 than by all rifles combined.
That means these:
And these:
Are deadlier than ''assault rifles'' in the United States.
Ku Klux Klan Leader Busted Having Sex With Black Male Prostitute | Guardian Liberty Voice
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:10
In what can only be called ironic justice, Ku Klux Klan leader Frazier Glenn Miller, the same man who killed three people at a Jewish community center a few weeks ago, was busted while having sex with a black male prostitute in the back seat of a car. Miller, who told an investigator he had lured the prostitute for the purpose of beating him up, was caught with his pants down engaging in acts that were too graphic to be described by authorities.
Miller is reported to have a lengthy and complex history with the law dating back to the 1980s. His involvement with the ''white nationalist party'' and the Ku Klux Klan has landed him in plenty of trouble with the FBI, who eventually cut a deal with Miller in exchange for his ratting out his fellow party members. He then entered a witness protection program after participating with law enforcement to catch other white nationalists. His deal included a greatly reduced prison sentence of just five years, and the protection of a brand new identity, which was furnished to him by the FBI.
Miller's behavior and criminal activities have surprised law enforcement officials, but it was the incident in the back of a car that shocked investigators the most. An official commenting on the case declined to give exact details of what police found ''Grand Dragon'' Ku Klux Klan leader Miller doing when he got busted having sex with a black male prostitute, but described the activities as ''salacious'' and ''shocking'' given the fact that Miller had long been involved with the KKK.
Earlier this month, Miller was arrested for killing three people outside a Jewish community center while shouting racist slurs, including ''Heil Hitler.'' He is currently being held without bail while awaiting trial. The Daily Beast recently published an article which insinuates that Miller could also possibly have been involved with the murder of three black men at a gay book store in 1987. After those murders, Miller fingered two of his associates in the white nationalist party as the perpetrators, but both men he accused had alibis that checked out after a police investigation, and the murders were never solved.
In the same piece, Daily Beast writer Charlotte Lytton hints that Miller's frolic with the black male prostitute might be due to his need for power and control over those he hates, and points to cases in which white slave owners often became involved with those they held captive.
That may be the case, or perhaps Miller is a repressed gay man himself. Studies have shown that the more homophobic a man is, the more stimulated he gets when watching sexual situations between men. This has led to a belief among psychiatrists and other medical professionals that homophobia often can indicate a person's own homosexuality.
Miller, the Ku Klux Klan leader and admitted anti-Semite, was once busted having sex with a black male prostitute in the backseat of a car, shocking law enforcement officials and revealing a very sad irony. He is currently awaiting trial for the Jewish community center murders and won't be making any more deals with the feds anytime soon.
By: Rebecca Savastio
New York Magazine
New York Daily News
The Daily Beast
ku klux klan
65 or Older? In Texas, You Can Go to College For Free | Texas Standard
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:02
It seems that every year, we hear how college is becoming more and more expensive.
For the school year that just started in August, full-time students at the University of Texas at El Paso are paying close to $20,000 for a full courseload. At Baylor, they're paying $54,000. But some students have figured out how to go to college for free.
Alice Smith will tell you it isn't easy '' but it's doable. ''You can't just walk off the street and say ''I want to take classes; you've gotta be able to get in,'' she says.
The biggest requirement? Students must be 65 or older to attend.
''All my life I loved going to school so, whenever I had the money, and the time, I'd go take a class,'' Smith says. ''But, you know? When you got the time you don't have the money and vice versa. So, when I turned 65, I remembered that '' from one of the schedule books for classes, there was a thing in there for over 65 waver. So, I went and looked it up and sure enough, if you are over 65 in the State of Texas and you can go to the University of Texas six hours free every semester.''
In fact, seniors can take classes '' for free '' at most public colleges in the state. They can be taken for credit, toward a degree.
Connie Cooper is with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She says over 65-students must maintain a 2.0 average for undergraduate classes and a 3.0 average if they want to pursue a graduate degree. ''We just don't get a lot of questions about this program,'' Cooper says.
Picture this: About 25 million people live in Texas. About 13 percent are 65 or older. This is a state where close to 3 million people could '' potentially '' go to college for free. But only 2,000 took advantage of the waver last year.
One reason may be that the program is flying under the radar.
John Wyatt also works for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He says there's nothing secret about the program. ''Well, we certainly try to make the information available to everybody,'' he says. ''There's information on it on our college for all Texans website.''
Prospective students just have to dig for it. But I'm gonna help you with some details. The program is called the Texas Education Code 54.365 c. Not a friendly name, granted. But admissions officers will know what you're talking about.
Since the program is optional '' meaning a school can deny a request for tuition waiver '' Alice Smith fears the legislature would simply cut it altogether, if more people took advantage.
''I don't know how this new governor is,'' she says, ''but if the old governor was still in office '' he'd be closing that loophole faster than you whistled Dixie!''
But that hasn't happened yet. And 68-year-old grandmother Alice Smith is proof the benefit gets results. She graduated with a BA in History from UT-Austin in 2014.
Songwriter received just $5679 for 178 million streams | Digital Trends
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:58
Songwriter Kevin Kadish, who co-penned Meghan Trainor's Grammy nominated singleAll About That Bass, claims he received just $5,679 in royalties '-- even though the track was streamed over178 million times. That means that it took well over 31,000 streams for him to make just one dollar in royalties. While Kadish notes that the copyright for the song and the resulting royalties were split between him and Trainor, he complained to members of Congress this week that this is an unfairly low rate.
Related: Songwriting organizations take to the Senate for better pay from streaming
''That's as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career and No. 1 in 78 countries,'' he said according to The Tennessean. ''But you're making $5,600. How do you feed your family?'' And Kadish certainly isn't an unknown songwriter. Since 2000, he's written songs for Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Meat Loaf, Michelle Branch,M¶tley Cr¼e's Nikki Stix and many others.
His testimony was part of a roundtable hosted by the House Judiciary Committee in hopes of making music copyrights more equitable. Representative Doug Collins is the lead sponsor of the proposed Songwriter Equality Act which aims to improve royalty payouts to music publishers and songwriters. Currently, the mechanical licenses that the government requires streamers to pay songwriters are non-negotiable, according to the Royalty Exchange. (As Ars Technica notes, songwriters also receive royalties from ''performance licenses,'' which can sometimes be negotiated.)
While a complicated issue, it's one that can make or break the career of successful songwriters. Right now, Collins is hoping that a more equitable solution can be reached with less governmental involvement.
''There is inequity at this point '-- how you solve that inequity there may be some disagreement,'' said Collins to The Tennessean. ''But we're moving to some ideas that would remove the governmental barriers. Almost everyone said, except for the ones who want status quo, that the government part of it is something that could be removed, and there's a better way to fix that.''
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Jon Hendren Discusses Edward Scissorhands Instead of Edward Snowden
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:32
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It's not easy making cable news programs look any sillier than they already are, but when you invite a well known Twitter wiseass on-air to talk about the issues of the day, it only brings out the absurdity. Although, at least in the eyes of the producers of HLN's The Daily Share, perhaps Jon Hendren, better known as @fart, may not have been famous enough to be considered a threat. Hendren, a "DevOps thought leader" in the Bay Area, (read about his antics here and here), was asked to come on the program this morning to talk about the emergence of Edward Snowden on Twitter.
"Why is Snowden any different from ISIS?" host Yasmin Vossoughian asked.
"He's a hero, he's doing what any one of us should've done in that situation," Hendren replied. "He's got a voice, he's been isolated for so long. He's got valid things to say, we should listen to what he says."
Of course, Hendren was talking about Edward Scissorhands the whole time. "I think to cast him out, to make him invalid in society, simply because he has scissors for hands, I mean that's strange," Hendren said. "I mean people didn't get scared until he started sculpting shrubs into dinosaur shapes and what not."
The host, oblivious to what Hendren was actually saying, continued on like a pro, letting him pontificate on the plight of Tim Burton's early-'90s creation.
I got in touch with Hendren after the broadcast to ask him how the hell that all happened.
ESQUIRE.COM: So why did they reach out to you in the first place?
JON HENDREN: I honestly don't know. I got an email last night asking if I wanted to come on and replied immediately saying, "Yes I absolutely would," before I even read the entire email.
Had you been tweeting about Snowden being on Twitter recently?
I think a couple years ago I tweeted something in support of him? I'm guessing they must have found it by searching for something. This maybe?
Haha. Do you get the sense the producers knew you were a "Twitter personality" or whatever? They didn't mention your handle at any point, did they?
I have no clue what they knew or didn't know about me. I really wanted to ask, but I didn't want to ruin it by asking how they found me. I think the word "@fart" appears on the screen at some point, or so they say. I haven't watched it myself.
Was your plan all along to pretend you were talking about Scissorhands? Did it throw you off that she never seemed to acknowledge it?
Yeah. I believe Edward Scissorhands is a hero and was unfairly treated by the American people. I was surprised that they didn't cut me off immediately, so I just kept rolling with it assuming at some point they'd hang up, and they never did for some reason.
Did you hear back after the call ended? Did they say, like, thanks for coming on?
Not at all. The producer came over the call and said "Thanks, we're clear," and hung up. It just sounded like business as usual on their end.
Where would you rank this in your oeuvre, as it were? Better than getting the Smash Mouth guy to eat all those eggs?
Oh, I have no idea. It was just something fun to do, we'll see how everyone likes it after the initial surprise wears off.
Do you think your brave stance here is going to help people see Edward Scissorhands in a new light? It's not his fault he was created that way.
Well he's innocent of any wrongdoing. People just got afraid when they saw what he was capable of. I would have done the same thing in his shoes. Or boots or whatever they were.
Are you still working in "DevOps"?
Yes, I'm a DevOps thought leader. I work at ScriptRock. We make software and do thought leading.
Why Scientests Finding Water On Mars Is Blatant Misogyny
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:13
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Hi, my name isn't really important but what is important is the bold fact that I am a proud third wave feminist who is outraged by the recent discovery of water on mars. I'll go by the pseudonym Cynthia Whitehead to avoid the massive harassment I will certainly endure at the hands of the white-cis internet trolls. First of all let's go down the list of why the field of 'science' is a tool of white-cis, capitalist patriarchy: 1) the STEM fields are almost purely dominated by white men despite the fact that we have been rallying and trying to get our sisters of color in there for DECADES. 2) The scientific community as a whole pretty much only researches men's problems, breast cancer research has fallen to the wayside almost entirely. 3) All the MEN in this field fail to acknowledge the fact that they are privileged and don't deserve the wages they're earning. All white male scientists should be taxed at 80%'-- to be donated to feminist research charities, but that's a discussion for another article.
The obvious choice of the STEM community to pick Mars, the MALE planet (women are from Venus) should be disgusting enough. Why not Venus, huh, why didn't these misogynist assholes go look for water on Venus? I'll tell you why, sisters, pure misogyny. Pure capitalism in action and these sexist overlords aren't stopping there. As we all know there's water on Venus but Venal-water denialism has reached an all time high which culminated in the 'discovery' of water on the male planet, once again placing all the blame of the world on women and femininity as a whole. I hope one day STEM stops oppressing women and we are allowed to rise up. What a tragic day for women worldwide.-Cynthia WhiteheadUPDATE: THIS ARTICLE RIGHT HERE PUTS A NEGATIVE SPIN ON MY OBVIOUSLY CORRECT, FEMINIST VIEWS. PLEASE, IF YOU SEE THIS ARTICLE ON FB OR TWITTER DON'T SHARE IT. -Cynthia Whitehead
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Outer Space Treaty
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 22:26
The General Assembly,
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space covering its work during 1966, 1 and in particular the work accomplished by the Legal Subcommittee during its fifth session, held at Geneva from 12 July to 4 August and at New York from 12 September to 16 September,
Noting further the progress achieved through subsequent consultations among States Members of the United Nations,
Reaffirming the importance of international cooperation in the field of activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and the importance of developing the rule of law in this new area of human endeavour,
1. Commends the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, the text of which is annexed to the present resolution;
2. Requests the Depositary Governments to open the Treaty for signature and ratification at the earliest possible date;
3. Expresses its hope for the widest possible adherence to this Treaty;
4. Requests the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space:
(a) To continue to work on the elaboration of an agreement on liability for damages caused by the launching of objects into outer space and an agreement on assistance to and return of astronauts and space vehicles, which are on the agenda of the Committee;
(b) To begin at the same time the study of questions relative to the definition of outer space and the utilization of outer space and celestial bodies, including the various implications of space communications;
(c) To report on the progress of its work to the General Assembly at its twenty-second session.
1499th plenary meeting,19 December 1966.
ANNEXTreaty on Principles Governing the Activities of Statesin the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, includingthe Moon and Other Celestial Bodies The States Parties to this Treaty,
Inspired by the great prospects opening up before mankind as a result of man's entry into outer space,
Recognizing the common interest of all mankind in the progress of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,
Believing that the exploration and use of outer space should be carried on for the benefit of all peoples irrespective of the degree of their economic or scientific development,
Desiring to contribute to broad international co-operation in the scientific as well as the legal aspects of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,
Believing that such co-operation will contribute to the development of mutual understanding and to the strengthening of friendly relations between States and peoples,
Recalling resolution 1962 (XVIII), entitled "Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space",which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 1963,
Recalling resolution 1884 (XVIII), calling upon States to refrain from placing in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction or from installing such weapons on celestial bodies, which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 October 1963,
Taking account of United Nations General Assembly resolution 110 (II) of 3 November 1947, which condemned propaganda designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, and considering that the aforementioned resolution is applicable to outer space,
Convinced that a Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, will further the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
Have agreed on the following:
The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.
Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.
There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such investigation.
Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.
States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation and understanding.
States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.
The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall also not be prohibited.
Article VStates Parties to the Treaty shall regard astronauts as envoys of mankind in outer space and shall render to them all possible assistance in the event of accident, distress, or emergency landing on the territory of another State Party or on the high seas. When astronauts make such a landing, they shall be safely and promptly returned to the State of registry of their space vehicle.
In carrying on activities in outer space and on celestial bodies, the astronauts of one State Party shall render all possible assistance to the astronauts of other States Parties.
States Parties to the Treaty shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the Treaty or the Secretary-General of the United Nations of any phenomena they discover in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, which could constitute a danger to the life or health of astronauts.
States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.
Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air or in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.
A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.
Article IXIn the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, States Parties to the Treaty shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and shall conduct all their activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty. States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose. If a State Party to the Treaty has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by it or its nationals in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities of other States Parties in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, it shall undertake appropriate international consultations before proceeding with any such activity or experiment. A State Party to the Treaty which has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by another State Party in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, may request consultation concerning the activity or experiment.
Article XIn order to promote international co-operation in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in conformity with the purposes of this Treaty, the States Parties to the Treaty shall consider on a basis of equality any requests by other States Parties to the Treaty to be afforded an opportunity to observe the flight of space objects launched by those States. The nature of such an opportunity for observation and the conditions under which it could be afforded shall be determined by agreement between the States concerned.
Article XIIn order to promote international co-operation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, States Parties to the Treaty conducting activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, agree to inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results of such activities. On receiving the said information, the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be prepared to disseminate it immediately and effectively.
Article XIIAll stations, installations, equipment and space vehicles on the moon and other celestial bodies shall be open to representatives of other States Parties to the Treaty on a basis of reciprocity. Such representatives shall give reasonable advance notice of a projected visit, in order that appropriate consultations may be held and that maximum precautions may betaken to assure safety and to avoid interference with normal operations in the facility to be visited.
Article XIIIThe provisions of this Treaty shall apply to the activities of States Parties to the Treaty in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by a single State Party to the Treaty or jointly with other States, including cases where they are carried on within the framework of international intergovernmental organizations.
Any practical questions arising in connection with activities carried on by international intergovernmental organizations in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be resolved by the States Parties to the Treaty either with the appropriate international organization or with one or more States members of that international organization, which are Parties to this Treaty.
Article XIV1. This Treaty shall be open to all States for signature. Any State which does not sign this Treaty before its entry into force in accordance with paragraph 3 of this article may accede to it at anytime.
2. This Treaty shall be subject to ratification by signatory States. Instruments of ratification and instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, which are hereby designated the Depositary Governments.
3. This Treaty shall enter into force upon the deposit of instruments of ratification by five Governments including the Governments designated as Depositary Governments under this Treaty.
4. For States whose instruments of ratification or accession are deposited subsequent to the entry into force of this Treaty, it shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession.
5. The Depositary Governments shall promptly inform all signatory and acceding States of the date of each signature, the date of deposit of each instrument of ratification of and accession to this Treaty, the date of its entry into force and other notices.
6. This Treaty shall be registered by the Depositary Governments pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Article XVAny State Party to the Treaty may propose amendments to this Treaty. Amendments shall enter into force for each State Party to the Treaty accepting the amendments upon their acceptance by a majority of the States Parties to the Treaty and thereafter for each remaining State Party to the Treaty on the date of acceptance by it.
Article XVIAny State Party to the Treaty may give notice of its withdrawal from the Treaty one year after its entry into force by written notification to the Depositary Governments. Such withdrawal shall take effect one year from the date of receipt of this notification.
Article XVII
This Treaty, of which the English, Russian, French, Spanish and Chinese texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Depositary Governments. Duly certified copies of this Treaty shall be transmitted by the Depositary Governments to the Governments of the signatory and acceding States.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed this Treaty.
DONE in triplicate, at the cities of London, Moscow and Washington, the twenty-seventh day of January, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven.
1. Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-first Session, agenda items 30, 89 and 91, document A/6431.
Here's why NASA's Mars rovers are banned from investigating that liquid water - ScienceAlert
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 22:21
This week, NASA scientists announced that they had found chemical evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars. While they make a compelling case, the existence of seasonal rivers of briney water will never be 100 percent confirmed until we can see it and touch it and analyse it, and if it's not actual humans on Mars doing that, we'll have to study it vicariously through our far-flung robots.
Except we can't. Not as long as those far-flung robots originated on Earth, anyway. Right now, NASA's Curiosity rover is about 50 kilometres from the site that scientists suspect holds liquid Martian water, but thanks to an international treaty signed in 1967, it's not allowed to go anywhere near it.
This is because to get where it is on the surface of Mars, Curiosity had to travel 225 million kilometres from Earth through space, and along the way it could have picked up dirt and dust and all kinds of mysterious microbes that make it far from sterile. As Marcus Strom points out atThe Sydney Morning Herald, "That's a long way to go without having the right sort of shower."
Gross, Curiosity. Just go stand over there, will you? No, no, keep going, further. Yep, keep going. Okay that's good, thank you!
And while scientists do their best to sterilise their space-faring equipment once it arrives at its destination via what Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy describes as "a very intense ultraviolet tanning salon", if they can't guarantee sterilisation, there's no going near that water.
"Because liquid water appears to be present ... we have to take extra precautions to prevent contamination by Earth life," Rich Zurek, the chief scientist for NASA's Mars program, explained during a Reddit AMA yesterday. "Our current rovers have not been sterilised to the degree needed to go to an area where liquid water may be present."
As Akshat Rathi writes for Quartz, every country on Earth is bound by the stipulations of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forbids "anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth".
Not that NASA couldn't sterilise the crap out of its rovers if it wanted to. As UNSW astrobiologist Malcolm Walter told The Sydney Morning Herald, they could blast Curiosity with crazy amounts of heat and radiation that would wipe out anything and everything that managed to survive the journey from Earth without a shadow of a doubt, but then they'd be wiping out the rover's internal electronics in the process. Not exactly practical.
"In order to be completely sterile, they'd have to use really powerful ionising radiation or heat, both of which would damage the electronics," says Walter. "So they go as far as they dare."
What's the solution? We all know that NASA is planning on sending humans to Mars for the first time in mid-2030, so maybe some lucky astronauts will get to see liquid Martian water with their own eyes. Another option would be to send robots to Mars that are capable of building other robots that can investigate that water with little risk of contamination. Last year, NASA announced that it's developing robots that can 3D-print infrastructure on Mars, so this could well be a possibility.
Until then, Curiosity and its rover buddy Opportunity will just have to revel in the ambigious state of their cleanliness, and stay the hell away from the water.
How Weird Twitter's @fart became a DevOps idol
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:45
Jon Hendren is a special kind of Twitter user. He exists in that place called Weird Twitter, where users tell in-jokes, spew political commentary, and reveal love affairs with their cats.
According to legend, Hendren (better known as @fart) is committed to making sure Hermit Thrush doesn't have sex in 2015, and he once convinced the lead singer of Smash Mouth to eat a lot of eggs. But he's not just a Twitter personality and comedy writer. Hendren is also a DevOps thought leader.
DevOps, a portmanteau of development and operations, is the latest technology slang to gain popularity among developers and technologists. Some have even proclaimed that 2015 will be the year of DevOps.
So... what even is it? According to Hendren, DevOps is ''mostly just a way of reorganizing all your nerds and making them talk to each other more.''
In software development, this structured communication between the teams that build and execute a product is important. But like ''the cloud,'' ''disruption,'' and other esoteric tech terms that have been widely adopted into human speech, DevOps is letting itself get take away. Every day it gets trendier, and every day people jump on board the DevOps boat.
And these were the people Hendren couldn't stand; the self-appointed ''thought leaders'' and DevOps experts.
So he became one. Hendren took tens of thousands of followers he'd racked up (largely thanks to meaningless, insidery comic relief) and switched gears.
''They go around to conferences and give talks and lectures that really say nothing'--there's this community of guys who take themselves really seriously,'' says Hendren.
It's worth noting that Hendren truly is a DevOps guy'--that's part of what he does for a company called ScriptRock'--but he took it to a new level on Twitter. ''I mostly began saying, 'I'm the most incredible person on Earth and the greatest thought leader.'''
Slowly his DevOps reach began to spread as he coined terms like ''data beans" (which means literally nothing) and blogged about his advancement as a DevOps ''thought lord.'' And while his followers weren't necessarily software developers or entrepreneurs (some had been Hendren fans since he began writing comedy for Something Awful in 2005), even those following him for the laughs eventually came to understand the simplicity behind DevOps.
His mockery of DevOps culture was a way to expose the emperor without any clothes'--essentially helping people understand this mythical "thing" doesn't exist in some obscure, high-level technology hive-mind. It's really just business practices based around... you know, common sense.
As Hendren wrote:
If everyone suddenly knew what DevOps was, there would be no need for DevOps thought leaders and they would all start to vanish from photographs like in ''Back to the Future'' when Marty kissed his mom. That's what I'm trying to do'--make the old DevOps thought leaders kiss their moms. And in turn, I will let their moms kiss me if the moms want to.
To a certain extent, it worked: Hendren became a DevOps Twitter thought leader'--whatever that means'--raking in new followers who think he's a serious influencer in the field. Not everyone's a fan, though. People who have made careers evangelizing DevOps don't see the humor in his experiment.
''They don't typically acknowledge what's going on, even though they are aware of it,'' Hendren said. ''But we were at [a DevOps event in Chicago], and one of the guys came up to me and said, 'You're a big asshole.'''
To quantify just how far his influence reaches, Hendren and his colleague Greg Pollock tested DevOps Twitter advertisements. The duo bought two separate silos of targeted advertising; one included Hendren's 76,000 followers, and the other didn't.
''It was frightening; I don't know if people take him seriously,'' Pollock said. ''I know that Twitter's advertising algorithm, which is the core of Twitter's business, takes him seriously.''
His data found that the targeted DevOps advertising that included Hendren's followers accounted for 23 percent of the total DevOps audience on Twitter. And that 600 ad impressions were served thanks to his followers alone over the course of a day and a half.
Some software companies have even caught on to this trend.
Between tweets filled with Taylor Swift music videos and complete and utter nonsense, @fart became a DevOps thought leader and took a Twitter community with him. The satire had worked, thwarting Twitter's algorithm at least insomuch as its inability to identify true intentions.
''There's an opportunity for some education, at least for people in the tech industry who aren't developers just to know what their friends are talking about, and give starter kit information on it,'' he said. ''I don't want to be the guy that goes into details and gives acronyms and shows you how to automate your infrastructure. That's not funny at all.''
Although he inadvertently became a DevOps spokesperson by tweeting and writing about data beans and ''kissing a data elf,'' he's going to keep at it, because apparently, it works.''My goal is to remain funny so people will pay attention to it,'' he said.
Perhaps 2015 is the Year of DevOps after all. As long as @fart is tweeting about it.
Photo by Jon Hendren/Twitter | Remix by Jason Reed
Phony Ambassador Running Obama's Anti-Islamic State Diplomacy - Washington Free Beacon
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:38
After scandal prevented confirmation, McGurk confirmed himself and took title anyway
BY:Adam KredoSeptember 30, 2015 12:00 pm
The Obama administration official most likely in line to become the next U.S. envoy to the Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) has falsely presented himself as an official U.S. ambassador by the administration for the last five months, according to documents reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
Brett McGurk, a deputy special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition who serves under General John Allen, was temporarily appointed by the administration as an ambassador on Oct. 18, 2014.
He was conferred this rank through a little-known legal loophole that allows the administration to bypass congressional confirmation of an individual for a period of no longer than six months. Ambassadors confirmed by the Senate have the title for life.
McGurk's temporary ambassadorship, which cannot be extended under U.S. law, ended in April of this year. Yet McGurk has continued to use the honorific when defending the administration's Syria policy on television and print media.
Until last night when the Free Beacon contacted the State Department to inquire about the discrepancy, McGurk's official biography on the State Department website also falsely credited McGurk with the rank of ambassador.
State Department officials also have referred to him as ''Ambassador McGurk'' in press briefings well after the term of this title expired, the Free Beacon found.
Following multiple inquiries from the Free Beacon on Tuesday the State Department altered the website to remove the honorific.
McGurk was nominated in 2012 to serve as President Obama's ambassador to Iraq. His appointment was withdrawn after the Free Beacon reported on a series of leaked emails sent from his official State Department account describing an intimate relationship with former Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon, who resigned her position as a result of the controversy.
At the same time, a State Department official who had served in Iraq during McGurk's tenure hinted at the existence of a video purportedly showing a ''State Department VIP on the roof of the Republican Palace in Baghdad receiving, um, pleasure of an oral nature from another State Department officer not his wife, or even his journalist mistress at the time.''
The description was widely assumed to refer to McGurk.
Following that controversy, McGurk was appointed to a new, non-confirmable post as the administration's deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran.
In October 2014, the administration informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it was temporarily conferring on him ambassador status. ''This rank will not exceed six months,'' states a document submitted to the committee.
The title was conferred in order to give McGurk the ''appropriate level of professional stature'' and greater credibility on the international stage, the White House stated in the document.
In the months since the appointment expired, the administration has continued to refer to McGurk as an official ambassador.
In an Aug. 19 State Department press briefing, for instance, John Kirby referred to several meetings held by ''Ambassador Brett McGurk.'' He is also listed on the State Department's website ''Ambassador Brett McGurk.''
''Ambassador Brett McGurk'' also appeared on the weekly news program Meet the Press in June and August, after his rank expired.
When introduced and identified both times as ''ambassador'' by then-host Chuck Todd, McGurk made no attempt to correct the record, transcripts show.
When asked to address the discrepancy on Tuesday, a State Department official acknowledged that the agency's website had listed the wrong title.
''At the time of Brett McGurk's appointment as Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the President also conferred the personal rank of ambassador,'' the official said. ''While the primary appointment of Deputy Special Presidential Envoy remains current, we will update our website as we understand the personal rank was temporary and has now expired. We work hard to keep our websites up to date and regret when oversights occur.''
One congressional aide familiar with the situation told the Free Beacon that the ''State Department has been very vocal that he needs to be referred to as an ambassador.''
The issue has raised further concerns among some who say that McGurk does not have the credibility to replace Gen. John Allen, the current envoy to the global coalition, when he steps down later this year.
Recent reports have indicated that ''at least some of [Allen's] responsibilities will fall to'' McGurk when the four-star general leaves his post.
Now that McGurk's term as an ambassador has expired, his ability to serve on behalf of the global coalition could be dramatically impaired, according to sources familiar with the situation.
''For someone who already has a history of poor judgment, the decision to falsely employ the title 'ambassador' may disqualify Mr. McGurk from future posts,'' said a second congressional source apprised of the situation.
The source said McGurk's previous behavior in Iraq leaves him unfit to serve in such a senior and key position.
''These decisions have already sown serious seeds of doubt in his professionalism and character,'' the source said. ''This major credibility problem is a product of his own creation.''
Ahmed's High School Receives Bomb Threat
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:35
A bomb threat was called into MacArthur High School this morning, prompting an immediate evacuation at the same Irving, Texas, high school where freshman Ahmed Mohamed brought in a homemade clock-in-a-box on Sept. 14 that school officials deemed a ''hoax bomb.''
Police spokesman James McClellan confirmed that someone called the school's main phone at 9:45 AM from an anonymous number and said a bomb would explode in 30 minutes. According to KDFW-4 (FOX), school officials took the call seriously. Teachers and staff evacuated the school, moving all students to the football field while police swept the campus, searching each building. Officers found nothing suspicious, giving an ''all clear'' and students were allowed to return to class around 10:45 AM.
Police called the bomb threat a ''hoax'' and continue to investigate the incident, objectively to locate the individual behind the bomb threat, who, when found, could face state felony charges and receive from two to six months in jail plus a $10,000 fine.
During the threat, some parents chose to pick up their children after getting a text alert or automatic phone call about the evacuation. One mother told KDFW-4 she didn't feel comfortable leaving her child there because she wasn't getting enough information from the district.
MacArthur is the same high school where Ahmed Mohamed brought in his homemade clock project that did not resemble a clock but instead a possible suitcase bomb and resulted in the teen's arrest at the time, although no charges were filed. Under the Texas Safe Schools Act of 1995 and state's education code, Irving ISD officials acted in response to today's bomb threat no differently than they reacted to Mohamed's confusing-looking clock. The boy continues to espouse himself a target because of his Muslim faith, although Breitbart Texas reported that zero tolerance policies, not racism or Islamophobia, were behind his arrest.
Mohamed's parents since unenrolled him from MacArthur High School and withdrew him from Irving ISD. The 14-year-old is believed to be overseas, invited to visit Qatar by the Qatar Foundation, which gives to educational causes. Their sister institution, the Qatar Foundation International (QFI), recently granted the Arabic Immersion Magnet School in the Houston Independent School District $75,000.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.
Why Did Susan G. Komen Pull the Plug on Planned Parenthood? - The Atlantic
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 04:07
My colleague Jeffrey Goldberg has done some reporting on the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood because the organization was under congressional investigation. According to his sources, that was a pretext--the new rule was passed specifically in order to give the foundation a cover for cutting off Planned Parenthood.
Komen, the marketing juggernaut that brought the world the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign, says it cut-off Planned Parenthood because of a newly adopted foundation rule prohibiting it from funding any group that is under formal investigation by a government body. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida Republican, who says he is trying to learn if the group spent public money to provide abortions.)
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new "no-investigations" rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization's new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is "pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."
Goldberg clearly disapproves of the decision. Though I'm pro-choice, I don't share the outrage that was roiling my Twitter feed this morning. It is, as Josh Barro noted, absurd to pretend that abortion is somehow incidental to Planned Parenthood's services, and since money is fungible, giving them money is probably helping to fund abortion provision. Since I think this is a very tough issue on which reasonable people can disagree, I can see why the federal government, and private foundations, would decline to fund their operations.
Nor do I think that this is somehow fatal--indeed, the news of the Komen foundation's funding withdrawal was met by an outpouring of donations that, as of this writing, has nearly replaced the lost funds. And I don't think that's an accident. If Planned Parenthood didn't provide abortions--if it had decided, post-Roe, to continue doing all the contraception provision and pelvic exams, but to stay out of the abortion side of the business--many of the people who now send them large checks probably wouldn't bother. I'd guess that a considerable portion of their donor base is making an expressive commitment to abortion rights, but of course, the flip side of that is people who make an expressive decision not to give them money.
I do wonder what this moment means in terms of the political landscape. It's possible that this new VP has single-handedly pushed this organization to discontinue their funding, but someone hired her knowing that she was pro-life, and ultimately it was the board that voted to do this, so presumably it must have some support beyond one former gubernatorial candidate.
This strikes me as significant. Susan G. Komen is part of the broad constellation of "women's groups" that tend to hand together on various issues, including (maybe especially) abortion. Why would they cut ties to a group that in past decades would have been a natural ally?
I'm tempted to credit shifting public opinion, but polling about abortion has been pretty stable over the last 15 years. It could be a shift in the donor base, or the board itself. Or perhaps it's a more subtle shift in opinion. While most people think that abortion should be legal, most people don't support the current state of abortion law; polling seems to suggest that the majority either wants abortion to be illegal in all cases, or legal only in the first trimester--and even then, possibly only in the case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. A majority of people polled say that abortion is morally wrong. And pro-life identification runs neck-in-neck with pro choice.In that environment, you can see why an organization that does not itself have a mission to support abortion access would want to pull back from funding Planned Parenthood, even for related services. Unfortunately, while they easily could have declined to fund PP without much backlash, de-funding them sends an extremely explicit message that is probably going to cost them significant public support. Which is a pity, because early detection and treatment of breast cancer is a mission that we should all be able to agree on.
Susan G. Komen Foundation pulls Planned Parenthood funding - CBS News
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 02:14
Female Nurse Holding Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon
Female Nurse Holding Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon
One of the most prominent charities working to prevent and cure breast cancer, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, has cut its ties with the women's health organization Planned Parenthood, that organization confirmed on Tuesday. Reacting to the news, Planned Parenthood decried Komen for having "succumbed to political pressure" related to abortion politics.
Planned Parenthood said representatives for Komen have been notifying Planned Parenthood divisions throughout the country that it will stop providing funding for breast cancer screenings and prevention.
"We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement. "Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count."
Planned Parenthood said Komen did not respond to requests to meet about the termination of the partnership, the support of which has directly enabled 170,000 women to receive breast cancer exams in the past five years.
Planned Parenthood is the subject of investigations by Republican members of Congress for allegedly using federal dollars toward providing abortions. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chair of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, opened an investigation into the matter in 2011 but nothing has yet come of it.
A statement by Komen to CBS News denied that the charity was politically pressured. "Grant making decisions are not about politics," Komen wrote. The statement also said the organization did make changes to its grant-making process and "implemented more stringent eligibility and performance criteria."
Leslie Aun, a spokesperson for Komen, told the Associated Press that Komen crafted new guidelines that prohibits organizations under investigation from the government from receiving financial support.
Anti-abortion groups have in recent months been targeting Komen, an organization that raised more than $400 million to fight breast cancer in 2010, for its relationship with Planned Parenthood. The anti-abortion organization Life Issues Institute launched a campaign to persuade Komen to halt its partnership with Planned Parenthood, which, according to the Associated Press, granted $650,000 to Planned Parenthood last year.
On its Facebook page, Bradley Mattes, executive director of the Life Issues Institute wrote: "The continued, collective efforts of the pro-life movement have paid off. Our work to educate Komen donors to the reality that the organization has financially supported the nation's largest chain of abortion mills has caused Komen to halt the financial hemorrhaging. Evidently, Komen had to choose between political ideology and financial viability. They made a good choice."
Planned Parenthood said it's working to raise money so that cancer screenings don't stop. It has received a commitment of $250,000 from the Amy and Lee Fikes' foundation.
(C) 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Convicted Killer Mistakenly Released From Jail
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 22:12
By Sky News US Team
A computer glitch has led to a convicted killer being mistakenly released from a Louisiana prison, say authorities.
Benjuel Johnson, 32, walked out of the Dixon Correctional Institute, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, on 23 September.
Officials issued a warrant for his arrest on Monday after recognising the error.
Johnson was released from the Dixon Correctional Institute on 23 September
Johnson was accidentally freed on good behaviour for prior charges, authorities said.
As guards processed his release, a run of his name through the prison's computer system failed to indicate a manslaughter conviction.
He was then transferred to a different detention facility on a separate charge, but disappeared after posting a $10,000 bond, WAFB-TV reports.
US marshals are leading the search.
Johnson was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2010 fatal shooting of 31-year-old Cordies Gales.
Jim Carrey's ex dies of apparent suicide
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 22:10
Jim Carrey's ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, has died of an apparent suicide, according to reports.(Photo: Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic)
Jim Carrey's ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, has died of an apparent suicide, according to reports.
Reuters reports that White, an Irish-born make-up artist who was pictured out with Carrey in the past several months, was found dead in her Los Angeles apartment on Monday night, according to Los Angeles deputy chief coroner Ed Winter.
News outlets have put White's age at 28 or 30.
Winter said a drug overdose was suspected because several pills were found near her body. The death was called into authorities as a suicide but a final determination has yet to be made, Winter said.
On Sept. 24 White tweeted, "Signing off on Twitter, I hope I have been a light to my nearest and dearest."
In a statement to USA TODAY, Carrey said he was stricken by the news.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of my sweet Cathriona," says Carrey. "She was a truly kind and delicate Irish flower, too sensitive for this soil, to whom loving and being loved was all that sparkled. My heart goes out to her family and friends and to everyone who loved and cared about her. We have all been hit with a lightning bolt."
Jim Carrey and Cathriona White, seen together on May 21 in New York City. (Photo: JosiahW/AKM-GSI)
TMZ says White and Carrey, 53, met in 2012, had an on-and-off romance and rekindled their relationship in May before splitting up last week.
The actor tweeted a picture credited to White on Sept. 16.
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Anatomy of a Media Hoax? #IStandWithAhmed - Mike Cernovich Presents Danger & Play
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:43
As someone who has been lied about in Newsweek, Real Clear Politics, and even MSNBC, I look behind the story for the real story. If you believe the headlines, a bunch of racists in Irving, Texas arrested Ahmed Mohamed. Why? Because they are racist. What really happened?
How to Understand the News:Ask, ''What does the media establishment want be true?''In every story there's a narrative, which some call ''analysis.'' For example I was recently in Budapest, Hungary to report on the ''refugee crisis.'' According to the media, women and children were fleeing war-torn Syria.
In reality, over 70% of the ''refugees'' from Syria are able-bodied men. (Budapest, Hungary refugee photo album.) Now maybe Western countries should welcome young men with free housing and welfare. That's a fair debate to have. You can make valid arguments for either position.
Yet we cannot have that debate, as the media obscures the facts to push a narrative. Some very important people want to change the demographic make-up of Europe and the U.S.
We are thus told that women and children are seeking refuge in Western countries, when the truth is that most ''refugees'' are men in the prime years of their lives.
What does the media want to be true of #IStandWithAhmed?''Red necks in Texas arrested a Muslim boy for bringing in a clock, because racism'' is the story everyone is looking for. All facts must be massaged to fit the narrative.
For example, Ahmed did indeed bring in a clock to school. (Note: Ahmed did not build a clock.)
This was the clock Ahmed brought into school.
Perhaps we can still criticize the school officials for calling the police. Yet shouldn't the media give us all of the facts?
Ahmed first showed the ''clock'' to a male teacher. This teacher told him not to show it to anyone else.
Ahmed then showed the clock to a female teacher, who freaked out and called the police. (Does this mean women should not be allowed to teach? If that question offends you, then why did you rush to the narrative that whites arrested Ahmed because of racism?)
Why did Ahmed keep showing the ''clock'' to teachers? Was he perhaps trolling for an overreaction?
Ahmed was arrested by a black police officer. (Does this mean black police officers should not be hired? Again, if you want to make this story about simple narratives, then that's a fair question.)
Who is the racist in this picture?
Ahmed immediately went to his lawyer's office. His sisters posted this selfie on Twitter.
Does this look like the face of an innocent kid who was traumatized by racist police officers?
Ahmed and his father look awfully happy for ''victims'' of discrimination.
It's almost as if they had a plan, and that this plan worked.
There is more to this story than the media is showing, isn't there?
Meet Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed (Ahmed's father), a multi-millionaire, social justice warrior, and potential tax fraud.Ahmed is a lovable kid who was victimized. Or was he? His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, has a lengthy history as a troll and publicity hound. But that's too negative. He is also a sophisticated and intelligent man.
Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed is a self-made multi-millionaire. He started from the bottom and worked his way up to the top, ultimately selling his taxi cab company for millions of dollars. His success will somehow be used to show how unwelcoming America is to Muslim immigrants.
Yet that's not all Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed has done. Mr. Elhassan Mohamed is a political activist who also trolls for attention. He has made two unsuccessful runs for the president of the Sudan.
In a Feb. 2015 interview (Irving resident makes his second bid for election as President of Sudan), Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed claimed to be serving as president of the AlSufi Center in Irving Texas.
According to the non-partisan watchdog group GuideStar, the AlSufi Center was shut down for tax issues. (See, Nonprofit Profile for AlSufi Center.)
Why did this organization not file its tax paperwork? Did it have something to hide?
The story is a bit more complicated, isn't it?
As we know from the Rolling Stone rape hoax, the Duke Lacrosse scandal, and countless other examples: Hate crime hoaxes are common. They are also lucrative, brining fame and money to the ''victims.''
This potential hoax is different, as an element of truth.
Yes, Ahmed was arrested.
The question is whether he brought in a suspicious looking device and showed it to every teacher in order to elicit a hysterical reaction.After all, school officers have suspended students from school or had them arrested for making a pop tart into the shape of a gun, wearing an NRA t-shirt, and bringing in a maple leaf that looked like marijuana.
Schools have become kid prisons.
We don't call public schools ''kid prisons'' for nothing. School is where dreams go to die. #IStandWithAhmed
'-- Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) September 16, 2015
Was Ahmed, if he's a victim at all, a victim of racism, Islamophobia, or of school's anti-male zero-tolerance disciplinary policies?
Ahmed was not arrested for bringing in a time bomb.Ahmed was not arrested because his teacher thought he had a bomb. He was arrested for violating a Texas law making it illegal to bring a ''hoax bomb'' into school.
Trial lawyer Mark Bennett explains why this law is unconstitutional.
Yes, it's a bad law. It was a bad arrest.
But the arrest appears to have been orchestrated by Ahmed's family who understood the law and knew how to troll for a reaction.
Ahmed's story might be true.In a big enough world, improbable events occur. Yes, it could be that the son of a multi-millionaire presidential candidate and attention whore happened to be wearing a NASA shirt on the same day he was arrested for showing his suitcase clock to several teachers, and that the arrest made him so sad that his family started taking joyful selfies.
Or it could be a public relations coup by an attention-hungry father.
Even if Ahmed's story is true, how serious a problem is Islamophobia? Ahmed's dad, after all, is a multi-millionaire. Those ''racists'' didn't stop him from building a hugely successful business that he'd have never been able to build in a Muslim-run country.
And if Ahmed's story is true and is proof of racism, why aren't there more like it?
Either Ahmed's story is a hoax or it's a highly improbable event.Whether Ahmed's story is true or really one of those great random stories, the media lies.
Most of you had no idea that the ''clock'' looked nothing like a clock, or that the ''clock'' was showed to several teachers until a hysterical reaction was received, and that Ahmed's dad is a savvy public relations hound who was president of an organization that didn't file it tax forms and may have not paid taxes it owed.
I don't know what the truth is, and welcome civil dissent. I'll be updating this story as it develops.
UPDATE: Mark Cuban appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the story. Cuban confirmed two facts:
Ahmed was a puppet (his sister was feeding him answers).Ahmed showed the ''clock'' to every teacher until he finally got the desired response.This was a troll job/hoax.
Fast forward to the 50 second mark.
Driver Privacy Act of 2015 (S. 766) - GovTrack.us
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:40
Vote '-- Sep 29, 2015 1:49 p.m.On Ordering the Previous Question: H.Res. 444: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3495) to amend title XIX of ...
Passed 243/182
Legislation Coming Up '-- Sep 29, 2015 4:54 a.m.H.R. 719: TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015
This bill has been added to the Senate's floor schedule for the next legislative day.
Last Action: This bill has been passed in the House and the Senate, but the Senate made changes and sent it back to the House on September 17, 2015.
Passed House '-- Sep 28, 2015H.R. 2786: Cross-Border Rail Security Act of 2015
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 412 - 0 (Roll no. 520).
Explanation: This bill passed in the House on September 28, 2015 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.
Introduced:Mar 17, 2015
Status:Reported by Committee on Mar 25, 2015
The committees assigned to this bill sent it to the House or Senate as a whole for consideration on March 25, 2015.
Sponsor:John Hoeven
Senior Senator from North Dakota
Text:Read Text >>Last Updated: Mar 17, 2015Length: 4 pages
Prognosis:39% chance of being enacted
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About the billFull TitleA bill to limit the retrieval of data from vehicle event data recorders, and for other purposes.
Summary (CRS)3/17/2015--Introduced.Driver Privacy Act of 2015Declares that any data in an event data recorder required to be installed in a passenger motor vehicle (as provided for under Department of Transportation [DOT] ... Read more >
The bill's title was written by its sponsor.
HistoryMar 17, 2015
This is the first step in the legislative process.
Read Text >>
Mar 25, 2015
Reported by Committee
A committee has issued a report to the full chamber recommending that the bill be considered further. Only about 1 in 4 bills are reported out of committee.
Passed Senate
Passed House
Signed by the President
This is a Senate bill in the United States Congress (indicated by the ''S.'' in ''S. 766''). A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.
DetailsCosponsors3 cosponsors (1I, 1R, 1D) (show)(joined Mar 17, 2015)
(joined Apr 29, 2015)
(joined Jul 8, 2015)
Committee AssignmentsThe committee chair determines whether a bill will move past the committee stage.
VotesThere have been no roll call votes related to this bill.
Related BillsLegislative action may be ocurring on one of these bills in lieu of or in parallel to action on this bill.
S. 1732 (Related)Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015
Reported by CommitteeLast Action: Jul 15, 2015
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Prognosis39% chance of being enacted.
Only about 21% of bills that made it past committee in 2013''2015 were enacted. [show factors | methodology]
The following factors determined this bill's prognosis:
The bill was referred to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation. '–²
There is at least one cosponsor from the majority party and one cosponsor outside of the majority party. '–²
Key: '–² Correlated with successful bills. Correlation may not indicate causation.
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Presidential Proclamation -- National Arts and Humanities Month, 2015
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:22
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 28, 2015
- - - - - - -
Over centuries of change -- through trial and triumph -- the arts and humanities have chronicled history in ways that have brought the past to life and provided a vivid vision for our journey forward. Today, we continue to live in an ever-changing world, and the arts and humanities help us experience it in truer colors and tones. When we harness our artistic creativity -- from canvases to concertos -- we can give shape to our emotions and channel our innermost hopes. During National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate artistic expression in all its forms and honor the ways they help define the great American story.
America's future is bright -- and our Nation's spirit of reinvention has long allowed us to pursue progress that knows no bounds. The arts and humanities generate opportunities for us to individually and collectively reflect on our beliefs and disrupt our assumptions. As artists open our hearts and minds, they embolden our dreams, connect us in common purpose, and inspire us to reach for the tomorrow we seek.
As our society progresses, we must never underestimate the power of young minds, and as a Nation we must give our daughters and sons every opportunity to grow, thrive, and explore the heights of their imagination. If we continue to instill in them the optimism of America's promise -- that all things are possible for all people -- they will grow up believing, as they should, that nothing is out of their reach. More than anyone, our young people have the ability to renew the world we share, and my Administration is dedicated to empowering them through the arts and humanities so they can chart bold paths and write America's next great chapters.
Every stroke of the brush, stitch of the needle, or moment of the memoir uniquely marks our society and contributes to our national character. This month, we recognize the ways the arts and humanities have forever changed our country, and we recommit to ensuring every American has the opportunity and the freedom to question, discover, and create.
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 October 2015 as National Arts and Humanities Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to celebrate the arts and the humanities in America.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth 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.
Donald Trump's ''Progressive'' Tax Plan Perfectly Illustrates the Role His Candidacy is Designed to Perform: Get Jeb Elected
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:22
by Scott Creighton
''I'm not a populist,'' Trump said. ''No, I'm not. I'm a man of great common-sense.'' That's one way to put it. But judging by his supply-side (trickle down) tax proposal, conventional Republican is another. The Atlantic
Donald Trump (''The Donald'') has finally released his tax plan after much ado. He created a ton of free publicity for it by hinting at it's content over the last few weeks with every opportunity he had. The Donald claimed it would make the folks on Wall Street ''hate him'' but that, sayeth The Donald, was OK because he's a man of ''common sense'', a man of the people.
Fact is, now that his plan has been released, the only real big winners in it are Big Business and the Super Wealthy'... and of course, people like The Donald.
The big loser would be the government. His plan would bankrupt Uncle Sam like a Donald Trump run business in record time, the deficit would rise off the charts like a lying Al Gore on a high-low in his global warming movie. That of course would force another ''crisis'' and result in the decimation of still more public services and the austerity hawks would be served.
In short, in spite of The Donald's appeal to a growing segment of the republican voters who are rejecting the ''business as usual'' neocon/neo-liberal elements of the established Republican Guard here in 'Merika!, fact is, The Donald himself is nothing more than a sheepdog looking to bring those wayward voters of the Red State flock back into the warm and fuzzy fold of Reaganomic Trickle-Down ideology.
More specifically, The Donald's tax plan is nothing more than a slightly revised version of Jeb Bush's unpopular tax plan. So what The Donald is doing is helping Jeb normalize his image to the republican base.
Who are the current top candidates in the Republican primary right now? Are they establishment congress-critters? Are they austerity hawks like Scott Walker? In a word'... no.
In the GOP race, Trump is the first choice of 21 percent of Republican primary voters '-- followed by Carson at 20 percent and Rubio and Fiorina tied at 11 percent each. NBC News
52% of the people who bother answering polls want a republican president with no previous attachments to the current political system. Trump is obviously a businessman, Carson is a surgeon and Fiorina was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
Mr. Austerity, Scott Walker, was one of the first to drop out of the race. Jeb Bush is garnering something like 7% thanks to his association with his brother who helped create the devastation of the last bubble collapse in 2007-2008.
People on the republican side of the fake two party system are rejecting Business as Usual ideology being pushed by the Business Party (Republican and Democrat parties) and understandably so.
Look at what is happening on the fake left side of the divide. Bernie Sanders is doing his best to pretend to be a populist as well and his stock is rising with every email they find of Killary's swept under a rug someplace in Libya or Syria.
The only reason he's not the front-runner, yet, is because no one actually thinks he can win. Or no one thinks he'll live long enough to be sworn in (what is he, a hundred years old?)
The Business Party of America is in trouble. They have zero credibility because everyone knows they are all bought and paid for. So of course, they have to run some candidates who will shepherd the flocks back into the fold like Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea divide. Only difference is, they have every intention to crush them under a wave of austerity once they've passed that notorious point of no return.
Enter Bernie Sanders and The Donald.
Don's tax plan makes this point very clear as does Bernie's stance on things like Israel and the endless wars of ''humanitarian'' aggression taking place in the Middle East.
Trump's ''populist'' tax plan is as follows:
Four tax brackets instead of seven: Right now there are seven federal income tax brackets. Trump wants to get it down to four. The first would be a zero-percent rate for the households described above. Individuals making $25,001 to $50,000 (or couples making $50,001 to $100,000) would pay 10 percent in federal income taxes and keep most of their current exemptions and deductions. Those making $50,001 to $150,000 (or couples making $100,001 to $300,000) would pay 20 percent and keep more than half of their current deductions. The highest tax bracket would be 25 percent and apply to those making more than $150,001 per year, along with couples making more than $300,001. Those in the highest tax bracket would see most of their deductions disappear.Cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent: Trump would lower the corporate tax rate for all companies '-- from mom-and-pop shops up to massive Fortune 500 corporations '-- to 15 percent, which he said will stimulate the economy and make all of these proposed tax cuts feasible.Eliminate various penalties and deductions: Trump wants to get rid of the ''marriage penalty,'' ''death tax'' and alternative minimum tax, which he says unfairly hurt middle-class taxpayers. He also wants to reduce or eliminate ''most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich,'' along with ''corporate loopholes that cater to special interests.'' He would keep deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving.Allow corporations to bring cash back to the U.S.: Trump estimates that U.S. corporations are keeping as much as $2.5 trillion overseas. He wants them to bring that money back into the country and would offer a one-time incentive of a deeply discounted tax rate of 10 percent. After that, Trump would no longer allow corporations to defer taxes on income earned overseas, although he would keep the foreign tax credit.(Though he claims his plan will eliminate various loop-holes and deductions the rich use currently, he has published no specifics on those, so we don't know what those are)
As you can see, the working poor and middle income Americans would save a little money each year under The Donald's plan but that amount per family or per worker would be minuscule in comparison to what Big Business and the super wealthy like The Donald would save.
With no inheritance tax (which only applies to the very wealthy anyway) the offspring of The Donald look to save BILLIONS of dollars'... literally'... since it currently stands at 40% and The Donald's net worth is reportedly somewhere around 10 billion dollars.
Since he's giving Big Business a tax break by reducing the corporate rate to a paltry 15%, looks like The Donald's net worth will increase on that one given all the businesses he runs.
He also plans a tax holiday for all those companies holding trillions of dollars in off-shore accounts, allowing them to bring them back home at a ''one time only'' rate of 10%. The last time this happened was under Obama a couple years ago and the time before that, under Bush. So much for a ''one time only'' deal.
And of course, reducing the top tax rate from 39.6 to 25% would make for yet another immediate payday for The Donald.
[I]t appears likely that Trump's plan would be a financial boon for someone of his wealth. Trump and his wife would pay 25 percent, instead of the current 39.6 percent, on any income above $300,001. An income statement he released alongside his personal financial disclosure report this past summer reported his 2014 income as $362 million.
His proposal to eliminate the 40 percent tax on inheritances of more than $5.4 million would allow him to pass on his estate to heirs tax-free, a savings worth billions given his estimated net worth of more than $10 billion.
And by cutting 10 percentage points from the current corporate tax rate of 35 percent, the Trump Organization and its hundreds of subsidiaries would pay less '-- assuming they don't already use tax strategies to reduce their effective rate below 15 percent. AP
Clearly, these major giveaways to Big Business and the Super Rich dwarf any gains to be seen by the average American worker, who, by the way, is now forced to pay the ''tax'' of an insurance policy which was mandated by ObamaGod and backed by the Supreme Court under the guise that it was a ''tax'' being paid to Big Insurance.
[relevant:US health insurance deductibles rise sharply, far outpacing wage gains ]
The Donald's plan, in spite of his ''populist'' billing saying it was going to ''soak the rich and make them pay their fair share'', is nothing more than more of the same trickle-down, supply-side neo-liberal ideology that's currently being rejected by most of the republican unwashed masses.
Yet here is the phony ''alternative'' candidate (backed religiously by the phony ''alternative'' truth-teller, Mike Rivero) pushing for more of the same. So why is that?
Well, as I have said from the very start of all of this'... Donald Trump's job is to get Jeb Bush elected. Or, more specifically, Trump's role is to create a narrative that can be used to explain HOW Jeb Bush is 'elected'
Over at Slate they did a comparison between Trump's and Bush's tax plans.
Bush's tax plan would replace the seven tax brackets we have today with just three rates: 28 percent, 25 percent, and 10 percent (today's top rate is 39.6 percent). He would also almost nearly double the standard deduction that most families take, which he says would mean there would be 15 million more Americans who owed no federal income tax liability.Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan would replace the seven tax brackets we have today with four rates: 25 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent, and (wait for it) zero for married couples earning less than $50,000. As a result, he says, more than 31 million additional households would not owe any federal income tax. This is far better marketing than Bush's mumblings about the standard deduction. The campaign's white paper also says the tax code would be simpler, and all non-tax-owing households would get ''a new one page form to send the IRS saying, 'I win.''' Who doesn't want to win?Bush's tax plan would lower the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan would lower the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.Bush's tax plan would lower the top rate on capital gains from 23.5 percent to 20 percent. So would Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan.Bush's tax plan would eliminate the estate tax (which only hits multimillion-dollar estates to begin with). So would Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan.Bush's tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax. So would Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan.As a sort of half-hearted populist gesture, Bush's tax plan would eliminate the carried interest loophole, which largely benefits private equity and some hedge fund managers. So would Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan. (Because both of them lower rates so much across the board, though, neither would probably end up taxing those financiers much more, and could end up giving many of them a cut.)Bush's tax plan would futilely try to pay for itself in part by eliminating various deductions and loopholes. So would Trump's extra-luxurious tax plan.You see, The Donald is not going to end up being the republican candidate in 2016. That role is already slated for Jeb Bush.
The Donald has promised to back whichever republican candidate emerges as the victor from all of this. He wont run as an independent, just like the other sheepdog, Bernie Sanders, has promised.
When he backs out, and he will, The Donald will throw his support behind Jeb mainly due to the fact that Jeb's tax plan is so ''similar'' to The Donald's.
Maybe Jeb is forced to make some changes to his in respect to The Donald's in exchange for his support. Maybe it's something else.
Whatever the case may be, The Donald, for all his counter-establishment ''populist'' appeal to the wayward flock of the republican party, will get behind Jeb Bush for 2016.
Now don't get me wrong; that wont be enough to get Bush ''elected''. But it will be enough to serve as a narrative when the poll numbers don't match the primary election results (electronic voting machines anyone? Let's face it'... Jeb's brother was the one who helped pass the Help America Vote Act which pumped tens of millions of dollars into that industry in the first place)
The stories will go something like this:
Q: Why don't the primary results match the poll numbers from state to state?A: Because republicans who supported Trump don't want to go on record supporting Bush but they still don't want Killary so they ''hold their noses'' and ''vote for the lesser of two evils''Even if The Donald isn't capable of actually normalizing Jeb's supply-side trickle-down economic dinosaur of a tax-plan, it doesn't really matter because the narrative of an explanation is set in place.
''It's not what it IS. It never is. It's what it can be MADE TO LOOK LIKE''The Trump candidacy is a shadow puppet morality play. It's Kabuki Theater. He's the blow-hard comb-over Pied Piper leading the disgruntled out of town right straight to the Bush 2016 camp set off in the woods somewhere with it's tiny little 7% approval rating.
So just sit back and watch the reality show that is our current ''democratic'' political system here in 'Merika!
Trying to take this site to the next level via video production is taking a bit of time and effort and it's going to require some equipment I simply don't have the money to acquire at this time. If you can, please help with that process. Anything you can do will be appreciated. I'm putting off fixing my car in order to facilitate this process. I could certainly use your help. ThanksCLEARLY WE NEED INDEPENDENT MEDIANOW MORE THAT EVERPlease help keep us up and running if you can.Speaking truth ABOUT power since June 26, 2007(For my mailing address, please email me at RSCdesigns@tampabay.rr.com)
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Filed under: "Decision" 2016!, campaign 2016, class warfare, CTHULHU 2016!, Donald Trump, Election 2016, Electronic Voting Scams, Globalization, Neoliberalizing America, Scott Creighton, The Miracle of America, war on the middle class
Tax Reform | Donald J Trump for President
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:16
The Goals Of Donald J. Trump's Tax Plan
Too few Americans are working, too many jobs have been shipped overseas, and too many middle class families cannot make ends meet. This tax plan directly meets these challenges with four simple goals:
Tax relief for middle class Americans: In order to achieve the American dream, let people keep more money in their pockets and increase after-tax wages.Simplify the tax code to reduce the headaches Americans face in preparing their taxes and let everyone keep more of their money.Grow the American economy by discouraging corporate inversions, adding a huge number of new jobs, and making America globally competitive again.Doesn't add to our debt and deficit, which are already too large.The Trump Tax Plan Achieves These Goals
If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households '' over 50% '' from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, ''I win,'' those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.All other Americans will get a simpler tax code with four brackets '' 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% '' instead of the current seven. This new tax code eliminates the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II.No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. This lower rate makes corporate inversions unnecessary by making America's tax rate one of the best in the world.No family will have to pay the death tax. You earned and saved that money for your family, not the government. You paid taxes on it when you earned it. The Trump Tax Plan Is Revenue Neutral
The Trump tax cuts are fully paid for by:
Reducing or eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich.A one-time deemed repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at a significantly discounted 10% tax rate, followed by an end to the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad.Reducing or eliminating corporate loopholes that cater to special interests, as well as deductions made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rate on corporations and business income. We will also phase in a reasonable cap on the deductibility of business interest expenses.DETAILS OF DONALD J. TRUMP'S TAX PLAN
America needs a bold, simple and achievable plan based on conservative economic principles. This plan does that with needed tax relief for all Americans, especially the working poor and middle class, pro-growth tax reform for all sizes of businesses, and fiscally responsible steps to ensure this plan does not add to our enormous debt and deficit.
This plan simplifies the tax code by taking nearly 50% of current filers off the income tax rolls entirely and reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to four for everyone else. This plan also reduces or eliminates loopholes used by the very rich and special interests made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rates on individuals and companies.
The Trump Tax Plan: A Simpler Tax Code For All Americans
When the income tax was first introduced, justone percent of Americans had to pay it. It was never intended as a tax most Americans would pay. The Trump plan eliminates the income tax for over 73 million households. 42 million households that currently file complex forms to determine they don't owe any income taxes will now file a one page form saving them time, stress, uncertainty and an average of $110 in preparation costs. Over 31 million households get the same simplification and keep on average nearly $1,000 of their hard-earned money.
For those Americans who will still pay the income tax, the tax rates will go from the current seven brackets to four simpler, fairer brackets that eliminate the marriage penalty and the AMT while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II:
Income Tax RateLong Term Cap Gains/ Dividends RateSingle FilersMarried FilersHeads of Household0%0%$0 to $25,000$0 to $50,000$0 to $37,50010%0%$25,001 to $50,000$50,001 to $100,000$37,501 to $75,00020%15%$50,001 to $150,000$100,001 to $300,000$75,001 to $225,00025%20%$150,001 and up$300,001 and up$225,001 and upWith this huge reduction in rates, many of the current exemptions and deductions will become unnecessary or redundant. Those within the 10% bracket will keep all or most of their current deductions. Those within the 20% bracket will keep more than half of their current deductions. Those within the 25% bracket will keep fewer deductions. Charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions will remain unchanged for all taxpayers.
Simplifying the tax code and cutting every American's taxes will boost consumer spending, encourage savings and investment, and maximize economic growth.
Business Tax Reform To Encourage Jobs And Spur Economic Growth
Too many companies '' from great American brands to innovative startups '' are leaving America, either directly or through corporate inversions. The Democrats want to outlaw inversions, but that will never work. Companies leaving is not the disease, it is the symptom. Politicians in Washington have let America fall from the best corporate tax rate in the industrialized world in the 1980's (thanks to Ronald Reagan) to the worst rate in the industrialized world. That is unacceptable. Under the Trump plan, America will compete with the world and win by cutting the corporate tax rate to 15%, taking our rate from one of the worst to one of the best.
This lower tax rate cannot be for big business alone; it needs to help the small businesses that are the true engine of our economy. Right now, freelancers, sole proprietors, unincorporated small businesses and pass-through entities are taxed at the high personal income tax rates. This treatment stifles small businesses. It also stifles tax reform because efforts to reduce loopholes and deductions available to the very rich and special interests end up hitting small businesses and job creators as well. The Trump plan addresses this challenge head on with a new business income tax rate within the personal income tax code that matches the 15% corporate tax rate to help these businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers grow and prosper.
These lower rates will provide a tremendous stimulus for the economy '' significant GDP growth, a huge number of new jobs and an increase in after-tax wages for workers.
The Trump Tax Plan Ends The Unfair Death Tax
The death tax punishes families for achieving the American dream. Therefore, the Trump plan eliminates the death tax.
The Trump Tax Plan Is Fiscally Responsible
The Trump tax cuts are fully paid for by:
Reducing or eliminating deductions and loopholes available to the very rich, starting by steepening the curve of the Personal Exemption Phaseout and the Pease Limitation on itemized deductions. The Trump plan also phases out the tax exemption on life insurance interest for high-income earners, ends the current tax treatment of carried interest for speculative partnerships that do not grow businesses or create jobs and are not risking their own capital, and reduces or eliminates other loopholes for the very rich and special interests. These reductions and eliminations will not harm the economy or hurt the middle class. Because the Trump plan introduces a new business income rate within the personal income tax code, they will not harm small businesses either.A one-time deemed repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at a significantly discounted 10% tax rate. Since we are making America's corporate tax rate globally competitive, it is only fair that corporations help make that move fiscally responsible. U.S.-owned corporations have as much as $2.5 trillion in cash sitting overseas. Some companies have been leaving cash overseas as a tax maneuver. Under this plan, they can bring their cash home and put it to work in America while benefitting from the newly-lowered corporate tax rate that is globally competitive and no longer requires parking cash overseas. Other companies have cash overseas for specific business units or activities. They can leave that cash overseas, but they will still have to pay the one-time repatriation fee.An end to the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad. Corporations will no longer be allowed to defer taxes on income earned abroad, but the foreign tax credit will remain in place because no company should face double taxation.Reducing or eliminating some corporate loopholes that cater to special interests, as well as deductions made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rate on corporations and business income. We will also phase in a reasonable cap on the deductibility of business interest expenses.
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Excuse me but how is the internet a force of peace? ISIS also recruits throught the internet?
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:02
It is neither a force of peace nor a force of war. It depends how it is used. Obviously, the ruling classes have a huge advantage in the use of internet. "Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, promoted access to the Internet as ''an enabler of human rights'' and a ''force for peace'' on Saturday, as he announced that his company would help the United Nations bring Internet connections to refugee camps".
Partial Transcript of Charlie Rose's Interview with Vladamir Putin
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:59
from Kremlin.ru
CHARLIE ROSE: You will speak to the United Nations in a much-anticipated address on Monday. It will be the first time you have been there in a number of years. What will you say to the UN, to America, to the world?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Since this interview will be aired prior to my speech, I do not think it reasonable to go into much detail about everything I am going to speak about, but, broadly, I will certainly mention some facts from the history of the United Nations. Now I can already tell you that the decision to establish the United Nations was taken in our country at the Yalta Conference. It was in the Soviet Union that this decision was made. The Soviet Union, and Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union, is a founding member state of the United Nations and a permanent member of its Security Council.
Of course, I will have to say a few words about the present day, about the evolving international situation, about the fact that the United Nations remains the sole universal international organisation designed to maintain global peace. And in this sense it has no alternative today. It is also apparent that it should adapt to the ever-changing world, which we discuss all the time: how it should evolve and at what rate, which components should undergo qualitative changes. Of course, I will have to or rather should use this international platform to explain Russia's vision of today's international relations, as well as the future of this organisation and the global community.
CHARLIE ROSE: We are expecting you to speak about the threat of the Islamic State and your presence in Syria that is related to that. What is the purpose of your presence in Syria and how does that relate to the challenge of ISIS?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I believe, I am pretty certain that virtually everyone speaking from the United Nations platform is going to talk about the fight, about the need to fight terrorism, and I cannot avoid this issue, either. This is quite understandable because it is a serious common threat to all of us; it is a common challenge to all of us. Today, terrorism threatens a great number of states, a great number of people '' hundreds of thousands, millions of people suffer from its criminal activity. And we all face the task of joining our efforts in the fight against this common evil.
Concerning our, as you put it, presence in Syria, as of today it has taken the form of weapons supplies to the Syrian government, personnel training and humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. We act based on the United Nations Charter, i.e. the fundamental principles of modern international law, according to which this or that type of aid, including military assistance, can and must be provided exclusively to legitimate government of one country or another, upon its consent or request, or upon the decision of the United Nations Security Council. In this particular case, we act based on the request from the Syrian government to provide military and technical assistance, which we deliver under entirely legal international contracts.
CHARLIE ROSE: The Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States welcomed your assistance in the fight against the Islamic State. Others have taken note of the fact that these are combat planes and manpad systems that are being used against the conventional army, not extremists.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is only one regular army there. That is the army of Syrian President al-Assad. And he is confronted with what some of our international partners interpret as an opposition. In reality, al-Assad's army is fighting against terrorist organisations. You should know better than me about the hearings that have just taken place in the United States Senate, where the military and Pentagon representatives, if I am not mistaken, reported to the senators about what the United States had done to train the combat part of the opposition forces. The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more. It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS. That is the first point.
Secondly, in my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter. We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only.
In this connection, we have proposed cooperation to the countries in the region, we are trying to establish some kind of coordination framework. I personally informed the President of Turkey, the King of Jordan, as well as the Saudi Arabia of that, we informed the United States too, and Mr Kerry, whom you have mentioned, had an in-depth conversation with our Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on this matter; besides, our military stay in touch and discuss this issue. We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists.
[read more here]
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U.S. Turns to 'Zero Dark Thirty' Writer for Anti-ISIS Propaganda - The Daily Beast
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:56
Second Draft09.28.158:00 PM ET
The State Department says it's losing the information war to ISIS'--and is tapping HBO, Snapchat, and a screenwriter with deep CIA connections to help turn things around.
The Obama administration is turning to HBO, Snapchat, and a controversial, Oscar-winning screenwriter to help them fight ISIS.
Earlier this year, the State Department convened a group of friends in the U.S. film industry, social media, and premium cable TV to brainstorm ways to counter jihadist propaganda.
''This sort of thing usually ends up with executives from DC and Hollywood high-fiving each other and throwing around some cringeworthy ideas.''
In June, State Department officials and counterterrorism advisors traveled to Sunnylands (nicknamed the ''Camp David of the West,'' due to its history of being a super-exclusive vacation spot for celebrities and politicians) in Rancho Mirage, California, for a summit on how to effectively fight a propaganda and media war against extremist networks abroad. ISIS, for instance, has already mastered the art of ripping off Hollywood techniques to make recruiting and propaganda films, and basically has its own Twitter army. The June meetings were essentially a sequel to a three-day summit convened by the White House in February on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) through community-based strategies.
Industry and government sources tell The Daily Beast that attendees included Mark Boal (Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty), and executives from HBO, Snapchat, and Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC. (Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron weighed the idea of banning Snapchat out of fear that terrorists send encrypted communications via the video messaging service.)
Boal's participation, especially, seems like a perfect fit. Zero Dark Thirty, the famous 2012 Oscar-bait that dramatized the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden, was made with the help of the CIA and its press office'--some would say too much help. The film is packed with falsehoods that push the CIA's thoroughly debunked narrative that torture is what got Bin Laden. Additionally, Boal and ZDT director Kathryn Bigelow fªted CIA officers with gifts like tequila and pearls as they were offered unprecedented access to information on the OBL mission. (The female officer who partly inspired the movie's main character said she had ''developed a friendship'' with the pair.)
And now he could be moving on to the State Department, presumably for less controversial, revisionist fare.
''U.S. filmmakers and social-media folks met with a bunch of international and regional filmmakers and broadcasters [at the Sunnylands estate],'' a senior State Department official told The Daily Beast. ''We had people who were at the top of their field. The goal was to continue the dialogue started at the [White House] summit.''
Sunnylands was in charge of pulling together the roster of talent, and invited the State Department to participate. One of the goals was to connect Middle Eastern filmmakers with influential Hollywood figures to start plotting ''how to engage and empower storytellers [to] create alternative and positive narratives, and how to talk about youth empowerment,'' according to the official, who works on these initiatives.
For instance, these filmmakers discussed producing content that promotes stories of young people living in the region who have rejected Islamist terror and work to improve their communities'--entrepreneurial work, starting small businesses, launching NGOs, doing volunteer work, and so forth.
''It's the best way to provide a counter narrative to extremists,'' the official said, suggesting that these this kind of ''positive'' media'--aired in the Middle East and elsewhere'--could help push back against jihadist hype and ideally put a dent in the increase in terrorist recruitment.
Some counterterrorism veterans skeptical that the collaboration will amount to much. ''Reaching out to Hollywood makes sense in principle,'' Will McCants, a former State Department senior counterterrorism adviser who helped set up State's anti-jihadist digital outreach, told The Daily Beast. ''But this sort of thing usually ends up with executives from DC and Hollywood high-fiving each other and throwing around some cringeworthy ideas. What you'd want instead is the [government] guy in the trenches talking to the edgy independent filmmaker. That'll get you closer to the sensibility ISIS is tapping into.''
(McCants recalls that during his time at State he was pitched by a company that wanted to fly Hollywood writers and producers to Kabul for at least a week to help craft a positive national narrative for the Afghans. The price tag for that was approximately $4 million.)
Other recent attempts at this model'--fighting Islamic extremist narratives through media and social media'--have been going on for years with little discernible effect. The State Department has already tried trolling terrorists on its own on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and online message boards, with unimpressive results at best. The department's 2013 YouTube spoof of al Qaeda propaganda videos was widely panned, and a 2012 study on U.S. digital outreach, published in The Middle East Journal, found that these types of initiatives were doing little to curtail anti-American sentiment on the internet in the Middle East. (A paltry four percent of posts expressed a positive view of the outreach, and only 4.8 percent exhibited happy thoughts about American foreign policy.)
''ISIS's message is that Muslims are being killed and that they're the solution,'' Alberto Fernandez, coordinator at the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, told The Atlantic earlier this year. ''We don't have a counter-narrative that speaks to that. What we have is half a message: 'Don't do this.' But we lack the 'do this instead.' That's not very exciting. The positive narrative is always more powerful, especially if it involves dressing in black like a ninja, having a cool flag, being on television, and fighting for your people.''
The State Department also maintains the American Film Showcase, an exchange program run by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that aims to use cinema as a tool to foster cultural understanding. The program, which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once hailed as being part of ''smart power diplomacy,'' includes both documentaries and narrative films.
''Through a cooperative agreement with the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts'...in 2015-2016, [the Bureau] will send 50 films and more than 70 filmmakers and film experts to approximately 40 countries around the world,'' Susan Pittman, a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, told The Daily Beast. ''It will also host workshops in Los Angeles for emerging filmmakers.''
One of the initiatives of the Showcase includes a USC workshop in partnership with the Department's Special Representative to Muslim Communities that will provide TV-drama producers from several countries lesson on how to ''improve narrative techniques and more effectively incorporate social causes into their programming,'' according to Pittman. The bureau also has plans to start a new six-week film-mentoring program with industry leaders in Los Angeles next year.
The State Department working with allies in Hollywood to undermine foreign enemies is hardly a new concept. In the early 1950s, the State Department collaborated with dozens of Hollywood filmmakers to create roughly 400 feature and short films highlighting the superiority of American civil society. The films targeted European and Asian rural audiences, and the project was described at the time as, ''the greatest celluloid propaganda drive ever attempted in foreign countries.''
And as the Obama administration's shortcomings in the online arena in the ISIS war appear to persist, the White House is kicking off yet another CVE summit on Tuesday, which President Obama will be hosting while in New York City for the annual UN General Assembly.
''I will be participating in the global youth summit with dozens of organizations and young people from dozens of countries coming together on initiatives they have built [that started at the summit last February], Lisa Monaco, an adviser to President Obama on homeland security and counterterrorism, told reporters. ''We've got a set of topics that we'll be building on Tuesday morning'...to address the whole life cycle of terrorist violence that we're trying to go after with the whole of government approach.''
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the summit will underscore the ''partnership against violent extremism to [include] not only national governments, but also civil society, including women, young people, religious leaders, as well as the private sector and local community leaders, and also multilateral groups.''
''We are going to keep trying to foster greater involvement of the technology sector that is developing a digital strategy for promoting private countering-violent-extremism efforts, and also greater philanthropic support for these private efforts,'' Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, told reporters.
The State Department's latest CVE back-and-forth with Hollywood'--which would ideally help fill the void for the ''do this instead'''--is still in an embryonic stage. Any potential future partnerships or collaboration with, say, HBO, Snapchat, or Boal have yet to be announced. As for whether or not this will actually lead to progress in a media war against the Islamic State, that's an entirely open question. But since ISIS propagandists have been so keen to adopt the flashy editing techniques of Hollywood and horror movies, perhaps it's a sign that Hollywood might as well help others fight back.
HBO, Snapchat, and Boal did not respond to The Daily Beast's requests for comment.
'--with additional reporting by Kimberly Dozier and Noah Shachtman
Merkel Demands Zuckerberg Censor Facebook at this Year's UN Fascism Forum | American Everyman
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:42
by Scott Creighton
On Friday, more than 300 CEOs, heads of state, UN and civil society leaders got together at something called the UN Private Sector Forum to discuss this year's mega-neo-liberal agendas to be carried out across the globe.
This public/private/privatization (a.k.a. ''fascism'') get together has been taking place in the UN since 2008 and it notably comes right before the historic meeting which is going to take place tomorrow between Putin and President Peace Prize.
According to the UN website, this is an invitation only meeting which featured folks from such responsible global citizens as Monsanto, Facebook, Google, Pepsi, UBS, the Business for Peace foundation, Global Business Coalition for Education (global charter school systems), the International Chamber of Commerce, General Electric and tons of other venture capitalist firms from all over the planet.
To give you an idea of what this looks like, here is a pic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel sitting between Mark Zuckerberg, Ban Ki Moon and Bono at a dinner table.
Right before dinner, Angela Merkel was overheard trying to get Zuckerberg to agree to implementing some sort of censorship program on Germany's version of Facebook. In the past she has said ''When people stir up sedition on social networks using their real name, it's not only the state that has to act, but also Facebook as a company should do something against these [people],''
On Friday, it was reported that an open microphone caught her talking to Zuckerberg about doing something about all the ''hate speech'' on Germany's Facebook pages. By ''hate speech'' she means ''people who oppose an open door policy'' for all those ''Syrian'' refugees (it was disclosed just yesterday that at least 33% of the refugees flooding into Europe are doing so on fake Syrian passports)
The German leader asked Zuckerberg about hate speech posts, with the Facebook CEO responding: ''We need to do some work.''
Merkel followed up: ''Are you working on this?'' Zuckerberg was heard replying: ''Yeah.''
The transmission was then cut off as the luncheon began. RT
Zuckerberg was there to push his Internet.org scheme. He claims it's all about raising people up out of poverty while empowering them with HIS internet access but the reality is, his plan involves only providing access to a limited number of approved websites. The kinder, gentler, more fascist internet is what Mark plans to provide the billions of people in the world who live without it.
He also intends to make sure they have access to Facebook of course. A Facebook with new restrictions on free speech, of course.
Mark's glorious ''walled garden'' approach to saving the people of the world from a life without Facebook hasn't been received very well by the real civil society (that means the ones that don't attend fascist CashApaLooza forums like this one)
In April, 65 organizations from around the world sent an open letter to Mr. Zuckerberg complaining that the project violated the principles of net neutrality in the guise of ''access for impoverished people.'' New York Times
Zuckerberg also announced plans to connect some of the refugee camps to the internet in the coming days. That way they can post various propaganda and ''hearts and minds'' campaign rhetoric online everyday.
Bono is also very big on the connectivity scheme as well. He and Zuckerberg had someone ghost-write an Op Ed for them yesterday about using Facebook's Internet.org to save the world by bringing people together with their walled garden of ''freedom''
Where governments lay the foundation, the private sector can build'... All the global(ist) goals must be scored '-- but the goal of connectivity for everyone everywhere will surely hurry this game-that's-not-a-game to its successful conclusion. Hurry being the operative word here. Bono and Zuckerberg
And hurry they will. They are hurrying to get as big a piece of the fascist slush-fund pie that they can get. And it's a big fucking pie.
''Now is the time to mobilize the (fascist) global business community as never before (hurry!). The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible (read as ''complicit'') companies to deliver solutions.'' UN website
Hurry is definitely the operative word here.
They have to hurry because the global system of fascist neo-liberal economic ideology is crumbling before our very eyes and though they seem to be able to manage it via a couple fake left candidates (Tsipras, Sanders,Clinton) and phony republican ''outsiders'' (Trump) the truth is, populism is on the rise and in countries all across the globe, people are starting to stand up for themselves against the masters of the universe these assholes gleefully serve.
They also have to hurry because they need to clamp down on dissent before they can push through their corporate Declaration of Independence called TPP and TTIP.
As far as Merkel's comment to Zuckerberg is concerned, it simply illustrates how fascism can be seamlessly integrated into modern-day life.
''We are committed to working closely with the German government on this important issue,'' Debbie Frost, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, said via e-mail. ''We think the best solutions to dealing with people who make racist and xenophobic comments can be found when service providers, government and civil society all work together to address this common challenge.'' Bloomberg
The ''solution'' goes something like this:
Someone dares to speak their mind about an issue like the manufactured refugee ''crisis'' in a way that contradicts the PC message handed down from on high via the stenographers of the MSM.''Civil society'' actors, a.k.a. corporatist not-for-profit NGOs, monitor Facebook, Twitter and other social media for the heretics and label their comments as ''racist'' or ''xenophobic'' when they are actually neither, just people posting legitimate concerns about various ongoing neo-liberal operations.Since government has empowered the internet service providers and complicit companies like Facebook and Google to take action against citizens without due process, in direct conflict with their 1st amendment rights'...'... people who don't have their minds right, get excluded from the conversation thus making the internets safe for ''democracy''In a system like this, who do you complain to? Where to you go to receive a just and equitable hearing on the matter? To the government who has handed over all control to Big Business? To Facebook or Verizon? The NGOs?
You have no recourse, which is why it's perfect. And in the end, when they are successful in ending online anonymity, you won't even be able to go to another IP address or an online cafe in order to partake of the wonders of the internet because you will be a modern day unperson.
If they really believed in the crap they are pushing, in the rightness of their cause and the purity of their message, they wouldn't need to implement programs like these. But they know they are at a distinct disadvantage because their message, their ideology, depends on lies. Lies, false flags, deceit and manipulation. And they know they can't expect to win the hearts and minds campaign in a fair fight of ideology verses ideology. So, they see fit to rig the game, to tilt the table in their favor by dismissing and marginalizing voices of reason calling out on the fringe.
For those of you who are interested, try reading the full Lewis Powell Memo of 1971. It'll make these things a little clearer for you.
Trying to take this site to the next level via video production is taking a bit of time and effort and it's going to require some equipment I simply don't have the money to acquire at this time. If you can, please help with that process. Anything you can do will be appreciated. I'm putting off fixing my car in order to facilitate this process. I could certainly use your help. ThanksCLEARLY WE NEED INDEPENDENT MEDIANOW MORE THAT EVERPlease help keep us up and running if you can.Speaking truth ABOUT power since June 26, 2007(For my mailing address, please email me at RSCdesigns@tampabay.rr.com)
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Edward Snowden has joined Twitter, and his first follow is perfect
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:38
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden appears to have joined Twitter.
A verified account tweeting under the handle @snowden tweeted:
That's his only tweet so far, and he is also following just one account.
More to follow
More: You might have missed it, but the US just agreed that Edward Snowden was right
Portland flyer tries to get Volkswagen owners to sell cars | Fusion
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:24
It's a rough time for Volkswagen owners. They've just discovered their car company lied to them about the emissions standards of their vehicles, and now they have to deal with environmentalists accusing them of harboring Nazi sympathies as well.
This photo was posted to the Instagram account for Lardo Sandwiches of Portland, with the claim that the note was found on the windshield of a VW car in the city.
Got a note from a 'sympathetic and concerned' citizen today. @dontmovetoportlandoregon #thistownneedsanenema #pdxnow
A photo posted by @lardopdx on Sep 28, 2015 at 8:22am PDT
It makes some pretty heavy charges against the Volkswagen owners of America. Not only were you unknowingly hurting the environment, you were doing it in the service of Nazis. Yes, the Nazis were behind the whole thing, because life is 1940s comic book. (Volkswagen was founded by the Nazis and became a private company after World War II.)
This just goes to show that, whether it's a parking ticket, a dead leaf, or an accusation of Nazi collaboration, you will never find anything good under a windshield wiper.
RelatedA quick primer on Volkswagen's Nazi originsThe year of bad robotsHow a fluke got Volkswagen caught
Amazon will now pay you to deliver packages | The Verge
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:20
Amazon today launched a new service that pays part-time drivers in exchange for delivering packages. The service, called Amazon Flex, launches today in Seattle, and will soon come to Manhattan, Chicago, and seven other US cities, according to its website.
As The Guardian reports, Amazon Flex appears to have taken its cue from Uber and other "gig economy"-based services. Drivers will be paid $18 to $25 an hour to deliver packages ordered with Amazon Prime Now, the company's one-hour delivery service, though the site suggests it will eventually expand to include other Amazon deliveries. To qualify, drivers must provide their own car, own an Android smartphone, and pass a background check. They can choose to work for two-, four-, or eight-hour shifts.
"Be your own boss."
Amazon says the service will allow drivers to earn extra money on their own schedule, echoing other sharing economy-based services. "Be your own boss," the site's tagline reads, "deliver when you want, as much as you want." But the growing industry has come under criticism and legal pressure. Uber has faced particularly fierce backlash over its refusal to treat its drivers as full-time employees, rather than independent contractors. The company is currently appealing a ruling in California that granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by a group of drivers demanding stronger protections.
After Seattle, Amazon Flex will launch in Manhattan, Chicago, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland. The company has not set a timeline for its expansion.
Verge Video:Postmates' push for universal one-hour delivery
The Seven Pillars of Stupidparty Hate
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:11
Am I being Hyperbolic? Am I being opinionated? I plan to steer clear of that.
I feel it in my fingersI feel it in my toesBigotry is all around meAnd so the feeling growsKris Kobach is Secretary of State of Kansas, and as such he is a Pillar of the Stupidparty. He is also considered one of the driving forces behind ALEC written legislation. His demeanor in consoling a caller who implies laws may be suspended for African Americans continues the race baiting policies that have epitomized his time in Kansas.Somewhere over the rainbowlies are none too fewAnd the hate that you fear is our fateReally is coming trueBy Patrick Andendall http://buff.ly/1cmJzIL
''I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.''
The NRA is a pillar of the Stupidparty. While most NRA members are open to sensible conversation '' they are largely unaware of the fact that the NRA is not a democracy. Little do these members know that they are in fact treated like sheep, oblivious that their views are barely relevant '' since the NRA agenda is effectively driven by the nine person nominating committee '' and that is how the the NRA has become such an odious organisation. It has been hijacked by extremists '' but of course Stupidparty disciples don't care- and nor does the Stupidparty itself '' because the NRA call's the shots. You think I'm being hyperbolic? Opinionated? We never need opinions to eviscerate the Stupidparty '' the facts are simply too abundant.First let me quote the ever so Conservative Forbes magazine ''If you're looking for a sure fire recipe to boost gun sales, there's nothing like putting a heavy dose of paranoia, along with a large dollop of racist fear mongering, into the atmosphere to get the job done'--and NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre has certainly done his part. In an op-ed published Wednesday by The Daily Caller , LaPierre twisted more than a few facts while arguing that the world is hell and attempting to navigate your way through it without a semi-automatic weapon at your side can only be perceived as sheer madness.''
Now before we get to the next statements consider the following fact:
Since Obama was elected Zero guns have been removed, there are now more Guns! This in spite of ever mounting school shootings (1700% more likely than in European schools) rising incidents of fatal ,obscene and racist police shooting fatalities, rising gun fatalities (France has 98% less '' adjusted for population) '' nothing has been done and most disturbingly of all'--nothing will be done. It is as simple that. It is so simple that Stupidparty disciples simply remain totally clueless '' and we know this because Wayne La Pierre gets roaring approval when he states the following:
More recently La Pierre said ''At the National Rifle Association's annual convention, the group's vice president, Wayne LaPierre, told Americans not to vote for someone like President Obama or Hillary Clinton '' and not because of the content of their character. In a surprising turn of events, LaPierre managed to out-racist Ted Nugent and out-crazy Sarah Palin, both speakers who work hard for those distinctions during their own talks during each year's convention.
During LaPierre's talk, fear-mongering and hyperbole were on full display. According to LaPierre's view, the next 650 days are ''the most dangerous days in history for the Second Amendment''
Is he insane? Nothing can happen in the next 650 days!. No he is not insane '' he is a liar and the Stupidparty base loves lyars and they hate the truth and they hate the facts. Am I being hyperbolic absolutely not '' because calling LaPierre a liar is really just a courtesy. Consider following statement that he made:
''I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.'' This is from a man '' an aging white man, who has a long history of racism. But this statement is not simply racist, it is misogynistic. How much ignorance and hate can you pack into so few words. How come this guy is a pillar of the Stupidparty '' a hero the the Stupidparty base?
Of course Stupidparty is so absurd that they fail to recognize that this bigoted statement applies to about 75% of the US population.
Donald Trump is a pillar of the Stupidparty. He may well initiate a Presidential Campaign. If he ran he would probably secure about 45-47% of the national vote. I have been told (hearsay) that when Donald Trump enters a room full of high society types, charity functions etc'--that no one wants anything to do with him. He is universally loathed by people who sort of know how the game is played. I wonder why? Lets start with the recent Ebola scare:
A Stupidparty mind would not recognize how loathsome and stupid that statement was. How the hell does he and his support group think Ebola spreads and how does Ebola get contained. Ebola spreads by fear and panic, it spreads by believing in Myth, cultural or religious claptrap. Yes its is scary and fairly contagious '' but the bigger the threat the more you need to follow the advice of public health experts, of Scientists.Am I being Hyperbolic? Am I being opinionated? No '' get a grip and ask the following questions a) how was Ebola contained and b) how was the USA protected from a significant outbreak. It was contained by experts going to the source, putting their lives at risk and treating and educating the impacted populations. A dear friend and wonderful young lady went to Guinea to be part of that effort '' you can find out about her experiences here, here and here. If you are even remotely familiar with the facts, you would understand how vile the above tweet was. The two American missionaries Trump was tweeting about would probably have died. If brave caring people were not prepared to go to ''far away places'' maybe millions would have died in Africa alone- if all of America thought like Trump and his fans, maybe millions of Americans would have died. Hateful, ignorant, tribal bigotry costs lives '' how does he think diseases spread'--civil strife, tribal genocide and Wars occur? While Trump was propagating hate '' my friend in Guinea'--while she was having dinner in some dive in Conakry (Capital of Guinea) with a couple of co workers '' one of them received a call. This turned out to be a call from President Obama '' thanking that person for the what they were doing. They were not even Americans '' but Obama was offering support and encouragement to the people on the front lines. The same people that Trump would leave to die, if they got sick.
But Trump's bigotry and buffoonery does not stop there. For Donald Trump is a ''birther''. Birthers are people who choose to believe Obama was born in Kenya. Birthers are either ignorant or racist. In Trumps case we can rule out the former because Trump has the resources to understand the facts. Trump had the resources to send investigators to Hawaii. But he never cared about the facts. How do I know? Well what the media has failed to dwell on is that Trump revealed his true colors during a CNN interview with Suzanne Malveau: when Trump cited a (mis) quote from the president'sgrandmother that said Obama was born in Kenya. In fact, the recording to which he refers shows Sarah Obama repeatedly saying through a translator, ''He was born in America.''You can listen to the actual tape yourself'--something that this sorry excuse for a . . . (controlling myself) . . . clearly refused to do. CNN pointed out that they had the actual tape, with the correct translation. Donald Trump refused to listen, had zero interest in the facts, and just ploughed on spewing his bile. But Stupidparty Disciples don't care.
Now to be fair some very objective observers will argue that Trump is not so much of racist as he is a Jackass. Nobody in their right mind could deny the latter. Perhaps in a different context I could give him some benefit of the doubt. But the problem is that 51% of the Stupidparty base are ''Birthers'' '' and they are not all narcissistic jackass's but they are either ignorant or racist (or both). So if Donald trump is merely a Jackass '' he is willfully inflaming Racism. Personally I struggle to see the difference. But there is more. A racist might look at high rates of Crime in the Black community and conclude that by being Black you are likely to be a criminal. A non racist might look at the same numbers and see a socioeconomic problem. The problem with former approach is that it not only creates an intellectual dead end to an evident problem, but by marginalizing a minority with the use of inflammatory language '' the problem will not only be self perpetuating, but will get worse. Trump is also guilty of this latter approach.Donald Trump gets quite agitated when a Mexican director wins Best Movie at the 2015 Oscars. No such agitation has been apparent when White Foreigners have walked away with such honors countless times. What is it about Trump and Mexicans. Announcing his Presidential campaign, in what must have been a carefully crafted speech'--we see not Trump the Statesman but Trump the ''Hatesman'':
''When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best,'' Trump said. ''They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.''
''And some I assume are good people,'' he added.
Donald Trump said he would force the people of Mexico to build his vowed border wall to keep immigrants out of the United States, warning that if his order was not fulfilled, he would do something ''severe.''
When asked how he might force the country to build this wall, Trump said in an interview that aired on CNN's ''State of the Union'' Sunday, ''you force them because we give them a fortune. Mexico makes a fortune because of us. A wall is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.''
The 2016 presidential candidate added: ''I'd build it. I'd build it very nicely. I'm very good at building things.
Trump has since been fired by NBC '' but the Stupidparty base are not deterred because they have been stirred, Trumps poll ratings have surged as the slaughter of basic decency has occurred. For that is Stupidparty.
51% of Stupidparty Disciples Are ''birthers.'' http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49554.html
If we were in the period of Christs life, a time when deity's were a dime a dozen, the Roman Emperor Caligula Trump would not only demand to be worshiped as a God '' but he would truly believe that he was a God. The only difference being that Donald Trump does not have the excuse of having drunk water through lead laden pipes. Here's the thing '' Donald Trump loves himself so much, an aging white dishonest entitled wealthy narcissistic'--that by comparison he can only hate the opposite. Donald Trump is a racist.
Joni Ernst is a pillar of the Stupidparty, as one of the best and brightest Stupidparty shooting stars (I call them shooting stars '' because their shine can never out last the light of day) she was chosen to give the Stupidparty rebuttal to the Obama 2015 State of the Union speech. As an aside, I have already written about each of these ''responders'' since Obama became President and demonstrated how rotten the the core all but one are. But our women Joni is something special as she tries to turn Jesus Christ into a hateful bigot. Evidently Jesus would not want people to get healthcare. According to Joni Ernst Jesus had contempt for the poor. Us ''liberals'' want you to believe that Jesus was a caring individual. If you are remotely confused about who Jesus was '' if you even suspect Jesus of being a bigot, of being a Misogynist, of disliking foreigners of liking Guns etc etc '' well just in case '' I have put all that into perspective. So what type of person would proactively try and turn a good man into a toad. Well that would be a hateful person with a long list of perverted notions.How bad are her views:Puzzle '' Find a single value that can be identified with Jesus.She supports a ''personhood'' amendment that could make all abortions illegal and endanger birth control and in vitro fertilization.She has called for President Barack Obama's impeachment.She thinks states should be free to nullify federal laws.She has vowed to vote for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.Ernst has proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency as a means of cutting federal spending.Ernst has expressed her support for allowing law-abiding citizens to ''freely carry'' weaponsShe carries a ''beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter,'' in her purse in part to protect her ''from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important''She buys into the conspiracy theory that the United Nations' ''Agenda 21'' is a secret plan to usurp democracy.She suggested that an international cabal would relocate her constituents to Des MoinesShe told the Des Moines Register editorial board in May that the United States really did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.She would support legislation that would allow ''local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement'' Obamacare.She has spoken in favor of privatizing Social Security and waxed nostalgic about the time, before food stamps, when ''wonderful food pantries'' took care of the poor.She is opposed to a federal minimum wage and has said that $7.25 an hour suffices for Iowans. On the subject of global warming, Ernst has stated: ''I don't know the science behind climate change. (This is Koch code designed to hinder any actions on the issue)She co-sponsored a failed bill to amend the Iowa constitution to have marriage legally defined as between one man and one woman.[23][87] She opposes same-sex marriage.[88]She had been active with one of the most nefarious groups in the USA '' the highly secretive and Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. Understanding how utterly repulsive ALEC '' is a vital responsibility for every Citizen that is remotely interested in salvaging their emaciated DemocracyDespite her clear history of close association with the Koch brothers, Joni Ernst claims she doesn't have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race.She is Koch puppet. The Hill, the Koch's took a ''particular interest in helping her campaign.'' Ernst was the first candidate in an open 2014 Senate race to benefit from ''maxed out'' personal contributions by the Koch's. And Koch-backed groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners Action Fund poured millions of dollars into Iowa, where Ernst enjoyed a $14 million outside-spending advantage over Braley.Koch Puppet: Last June, Ernst told attendees at a secret Koch donor summit in Dana Point, California that, although she started as ''a little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa,'' it was ''the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.'' Ernst told business leaders in Des Moines complaining about negative ads run Koch groups ''that she doesn't have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race'' This is a lie'-- listen to the below audio.The report pointed out that Ernst frequently reminded voters and now constituents of her combat veteran status, and she has not corrected others when they suggest she led troops into battle. Ernst did not lead her troops into combat as one of the ads supporting her claims. Her troops were not combat personnel, and their mission was not combat. Essentially, she was in charge of a group of truck drivers.I am sure that the mission of supply delivery had many potential hazards, but driving trucks from one secure area to another secure area is not combat even if personnel were armed with M-16s.Throughout the world '' far right parties have a reputation for being anti Semitic. How does a far right party suddenly fall in love with Israel?''An upcoming Republican National Committeetrip to Israel is being fully funded by a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights organization.
The trip, which will take 60 RNC members to Israel for nine days beginning Saturday, is being paid for by a subsidiary of the American Family Association, which the law center in a news release last week called a ''hate group'' known for its ''extremism and its demonizing attacks on minorities.''
The 47 Senators who are the literal Pillars of the Stupidparty. Does it not strike you as odd that suddenly the Stupidparty is showing an unadulterated love for Israel. What other far right (hate) Group on the planet loves Israel? Do you really believe that Sarah Palin's Church in Alaska was never antisemitic, that evangelicals who all believe that Jews are going to hell, they who blame Jews for the Crucifixion of Jesus '--suddenly none of these people are anti Semitic?The Stupidparty has only one Jew in the whole of congress. Back in 2014 they also only had one, Eric Cantor and he pretty much admitted that his party had an anti Semitic problem. The National Jewish Democratic Councilreleased a statement on Cantor's remarks:''It's both admirableand disturbing in the extreme to hear Majority Leader Cantor's candid remarks regarding the dual challenges of racism and anti- Semitism that he has detected in the House GOP caucus.''
So what is really going on. Actually nothing but hatred is going on. You think I'm being hyperbolic? You think I'm being opinionated. Really? Well get a grip.
Now just look at the above photo through the eyes of a Stupidparty Disciple. First they will see that Arab kid and this will rekindle all that Muslim profiling, the Iraq attached us on 9/11 nonsense, fear of those insane cowardly Terrorists. Then they look at the Jewish kid and they think, well that kid is doomed to hell, but the Jews have done a pretty good job of containing /Killing Arabs '' the second coming of Jesus will be in the Middle East, Arabs are worse than Jews'--so keep the area cleansed of Arabs'...'... But this is only half the story.
One must also consider the Stupidparty Disciple hatred of Obama '' therefore anything he does must be wrong. Obama '' like every other foreign leader, is simply trying to nudge Israel into complying with International law. But Obama must wrong because a) he is Obama and b) he talks to foreigners (forgetting that Netanyahu is a foreigner) '' because hate has no logic. But there is one more big piece to the story. Jewish money is having a huge impact on the Stupidparty. Just one Billionaire Zealot Sheldon Adelson (advocates using Nukes on Arabs) pretty much single handedly financed Newt the Gingrich 2012 Presidential effort (Gingrich immediately starts Parroting the views of Netanyahu), once that campaign hit the rocks Abelson was happy to provide unlimited funds to Mitt Romney (Romney immediately starts Parroting the views of Netanyahu). As it was Romney was such a flawed candidate that Adelson held back from contributing much more than around $100m. But all that is now just the tip of the Iceberg. How did the leader of the Traitorous 47, Tom Cotton get elected '' Yes it was $1,000,000 from ''the emergency committee for Israel''* '' plus other such contributions. *The Emergency Committee for Israel is a right-wing[1] 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization in the United States.[2] The group's board members include Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and conservative writer Rachel Abrams,[2] wife of Elliott Abrams.[3] Noah Pollak is its executive director.[2] This organisation also accused the Occupy Wall Street movement of being anti Semitic '' which if one has knowledge of the mechanics of the that protest group '' is just infantile
It is not just Adelson who is trying to buy up American Democracy and put it into lap of a foreign Government. Other Jewish Billionaires such as Paul Singer, Seth Klarman are upping the ante -big time.
Why would an anti Semitic party bend over backwards to behave in a Traitorous fashion?
Salon and the New York Times reports: Donors say the trend toward Republicans among wealthy, hawkish contributors is at least partly responsible for inspiring stronger support for Israel among party lawmakers who already had pro-Israel views.''Giving Netanyahu the floor of the U.S. Congress to criticize a standing president, writing letters to Iranian statesmen doing the same, and now partnering with Israel to further what Netanyahu sees as its interests and placing those interests before those of the United States indicates a radical appropriation of the political process.
Now one could conceivably see these actions as emanating from sincere belief, but, given the huge dollars flowing into the coffers of those who toe the Netanyahu line, one can more logically see these actions as motivated by things other than love of Israel. Indeed, that same New York Times article quotes Geoffrey Kabaservice, a Republican Party historian: '''Israel did not traditionally represent that kind of emotional focus for any element of the Republican Party,' he said. 'But the feeling now is that it is a winning issue, as it helps them to appear strong on foreign policy.''' That, and collect bundles of cash.
So the anti Semitic party, boasting just one Jew (a New Yorker) in Congress (compared to 28 Democrats)- is happy to promote War in return for tons of money and all the political advantages of exciting it's bigot base by disrespecting a Black American President. Their hatred runs so deep and taps such a lucrative vein of electoral Gold that they not only had contempt for the Logan act '' but almost certainly worked with Netanyahu's secret intelligence to undermine US foreign policy. This is not legal '' but investigating such charges and putting 47 Senators into jail is not a task for a Black President. For example, If Obama had actually succeeded in removing one gun from one dyed in the wool moron -he may have invoked a civil uprising motivated by seeking a good ol'fashioned lynching. So imagine the likelihood of seeking justice for the 47 traitorous Senators
Just for the record, the reasons why trying to undercut outreach to Iran is totally unacceptable, are explained here
Other forms of hate:Any one one who is capable of critical thinking would not understand that the problems surrounding Ferguson'-- are rooted in a long history of racial antagony. This history is explained here.
Only 22% percent of SP disciples believe Ferguson raises important racial questions.
Similarities to the way the peoples of Ferguson and Palestine are treated is explored hereI have analyzed the Stupidparty's and the far Right affinity for domestic terrorism hereConfederate bigotry is discussed hereThe reason for institutionalized Misogyny within the Stupidparty is explained here
The motivations of the four Stupidparty disciples looking to destroy Obamacare can only be explained by blind hatred'--explained hereWhy does Stupidparty hate Science '' explained here and hereThe racial motivations behind Voter suppression are explained hereSupremely Stupidparty John Robert's infantile notions about race are explored hereI let the Pope explain why it is not OK to rape and pillage the planet here
Indicators of rife bigotry in the Stupidparty base
Have I missed a Pillar of the Stupidparty? May be Fox News? or it's sister in crime Hate Radio?
So has one of our parties become a hate GrOuP? Have I been Hyperbolic? Have I been opinionated? If so where? Are any of my statistics, case studies erroneous in any way? If you do vote for the Stupidparty do you really feel comfortable with the company you keep? How are you conducting yourself to get the hate genie back in the bottle? Or are you enabling hatred? Is it time get off that bandwagon?Since I avoid opinions '' I must leave the answer to this question up to you, the very patient and curious reader. By coming to your own decision, it becomes your responsibility.
I am just the messenger.
Putin Sends Bibi Packing | Real Jew News
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:59
IsraHell Articles, Putin Articles
Putin Sends Bibi PackingBy Brother Nathanael KapnerSeptember 27, 2015(C)
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LIKE A DOG WITH HIS TAIL between his legs, Netanyahu walked away from his recent meeting with Putin empty-handed.Somehow, Putin was not impressed by Netanyahu's grand entrance complete with the chiefs of the IDF and Israeli intelligence.
Bibi came crying to Putin that Iran and Syria are arming the ''terrorist'' group Hezbollah in Lebanon and that Syria is opening up a second front ''for Iran'' in the Golan Heights.
Israel and Syria may be in a technical state of war, but the Syrians have kept the armistice on the Golan Heights marked by the UN-brokered cease-fire ''Purple Line.''
Assad has no intentions of violating the cease-fire, and Putin knows it.
Thus Putin retorted, ''As for the firing into Israeli territory, as I understand the situation, these attacks are being carried out using back-yard production weapons systems.''
Then, with a chuckle, he cut right to the chase:
''I think we are all aware that the Syrian army today is not in a state to be up to opening a second front. It has enough to do just trying to save Syria's own statehood.''
Touch(C) Vladimir! Nothing like Russian diplomacy to cut through Jewish smoke. Straight answers meet Jewish bunk head on.
Putin then showed Bibi the door with a short, non-committal statement about ''understanding'' Israel's position.
Sending Bibzy straight to his corner, the chronic megalomaniac came back to Tel Aviv trying to wipe egg off his face as ''Mister Security.''
Netanyahu twisted Putin's statement to say that Israel will ''coordinate'' its operations in Syria with Russia and of bombing sites of alleged ''Iranian weapons trafficked to Hezbollah.''
BUT BIBZY'S ''Existential Threat to Israel'' song and dance falls flat in Moscow. The Kremlin isn't the adoring US Congress that fawns all over Jews bearing cash and votes.
For with Russia's increasedfootprint in Syria, the ability of the Israeli army to make air strikes has been severely limited, lest it hits Russian military assets by mistake.
It also pressures Israel into stopping their own clandestine military aid and supply lines to the Jewmerica-backed Syrian 'rebels,' particularly around the Golan Heights.
The ''Existential Threat'' mantra works much better with Jews than hard-boiled Russians:
''No one strikes alliances with the weak,'' Netanyahu told Mossad officers. ''In a changing world, Israel must be a power. Not just a regional power, but a world power,'' he added.
Yet Putin told Bibi to go back to his side of the Purple Line and stay there.
And stay there he will. The future belongs to Christian Russia, not Christ-hating Jews.
Health insurers eye higher costs for the 'lazy' - The Local
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:45
Digital tools such as the Fitbit could be used to monitor customers' activity. Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP
Swiss health insurers could demand higher premiums from customers who live sedentary lifestyles under plans to monitor people's health through wearable digital fitness devices.
CSS, one of Switzerland's biggest health insurers, said on Saturday it had received a ''very positive'' response so far to its pilot project, launched in July, which is monitoring its customers' daily movements.
The MyStep project, developed in conjunction with the University of St Gallen and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, is using digital pedometers to track the number of steps taken by 2,000 volunteers until the end of the year, synchronizing that data with an online portal on the CSS website.
The project, the first of its kind in Europe by an insurer, ''should reveal whether and how insurance companies can introduce an appropriate offer tailored to customers' needs,'' Volker Schmidt, head of technology at CSS, said in a statement.
The pilot also aims to discover to what extent insured people are willing to disclose their personal data, and whether self-monitoring encourages them to be more active in everyday life, pushing them to take 10,000 steps a day.
''So far the response has been very positive'', Schmidt told newspaper Blick on Saturday.
At the moment digital tools can only legally be used with those taking out supplementary insurance, but Schmidt feels such technology could also benefit Switzerland's compulsory basic insurance.
''Given the increased cost of healthcare, we will inevitably have to promote individual responsibility in order to strengthen solidarity between insured people,'' he told the paper.
The implication is that people who refuse to be monitored will be subject to higher premiums, said Blick.
Peter Ohnemus of Dacadoo, a company specializing in collecting health data, agrees that digital tools could be useful to insurers and push people to take responsibility for their health.
''There's no solidarity if someone who does a lot of sports and takes care of their health has to pay the same high premiums as someone who smokes, drinks and drives and does not play sports,'' he told Blick.
Fitness wristbands such as Fitbit are just the beginning of a revolution in healthcare, believes Ohnemus.
''Eventually we will be implanted with a nano-chip which will constantly monitor us and transmit the data to a control centre,'' he said.
Obesity in Switzerland now costs the health service eight billion francs a year, according to figures from the Federal Office of Public Health, rising from 2.7 billion in 2002.
The Fake Traffic Schemes That Are Rotting the Internet - Bloomberg Business
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:04
The euphoria escalated again around 2010 with the arrival of programmatic advertising, a typically banal industry term for what is, essentially, automation. The ideal programmatic transaction works like this: A user clicks on a website and suddenly her Internet address and browsing history are packaged and whisked off to an auction site, where software, on behalf of advertisers, scrutinizes her profile (or an anonymized version of it) and determines whether to bid to place an ad next to that article. Ford Motor could pay to put its ads on websites for car buffs, or, with the help of cookies, track car buffs wherever they may be online. Ford might want to target males age 25-40 for pickup-truck ads, or, better yet, anybody in that age group who's even read about pickups in the past six months.
That's a stunningly attractive proposition to advertisers: surgical strikes on a carpet bombing scale. Ominous for privacy advocates, sure, but nirvana for agencies, publishers, and advertisers. At long last, they'd know where every last dollar went and whether it did its job.
Amram is at Heineken USA now, where the annual ad budget is in the $150 million range. In 2013 the company replaced its old stubby bottles with a fashionably long-necked version that supposedly keeps the beer cold longer. ''We had a healthy investment in TV, local media, and digital,'' he says. ''We thought digital would come close and compete with television in terms of effectiveness.''
Late that year he and a half-dozen or so colleagues gathered in a New York conference room for a presentation on the performance of the online ads. They were stunned. Digital's return on investment was around 2 to 1, a $2 increase in revenue for every $1 of ad spending, compared with at least 6 to 1 for TV. The most startling finding: Only 20 percent of the campaign's ''ad impressions'''--ads that appear on a computer or smartphone screen'--were even seen by actual people.
''The room basically stopped,'' Amram recalls. The team was concerned about their jobs; someone asked, ''Can they do that? Is it legal?'' But mostly it was disbelief and outrage. ''It was like we'd been throwing our money to the mob,'' Amram says. ''As an advertiser we were paying for eyeballs and thought that we were buying views. But in the digital world, you're just paying for the ad to be served, and there's no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.''
Bot Prevalence by Browser AgeSource: The Bot Baseline: Fraud In Digital Advertising by White Ops, Inc.
Increasingly, digital ad viewers aren't human. A study done last year in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers embedded billions of digital ads with code designed to determine who or what was seeing them. Eleven percent of display ads and almost a quarter of video ads were ''viewed'' by software, not people. According to the ANA study, which was conducted by the security firm White Ops and is titled The Bot Baseline: Fraud In Digital Advertising, fake traffic will cost advertisers $6.3 billion this year.
One ad tracked in the study was a video spot for Chrysler that ran last year on Saveur.tv, a site based on the food and travel lifestyle magazine. Only 2 percent of the ad views registered as human, according to a person who was briefed on data provided to the study's participants. Chrysler, which doesn't dispute the data, ceased buying ads on the site once it became aware of the ''fraudulent activity,'' says Eileen Wunderlich, the automaker's spokeswoman. White Ops, which left out the names of the advertiser and website in its published study, declined to comment. Executives at Bonnier, the publishing company behind Saveur.tv, say they screen every impression and that the White Ops study looked at 5,700 ads, a very small number. They also say there are multiple methods for detecting nonhuman traffic, and that there's no single standard used by the industry. ''We weren't aware of any problem or complaint. If it had been brought to our attention we would have fixed it,'' says Perri Dorset, a Bonnier spokeswoman.
Fake traffic has become a commodity. There's malware for generating it and brokers who sell it. Some companies pay for it intentionally, some accidentally, and some prefer not to ask where their traffic comes from. It's given rise to an industry of countermeasures, which inspire counter-countermeasures. ''It's like a game of whack-a-mole,'' says Fernando Arriola, vice president for media and integration at ConAgra Foods. Consumers, meanwhile, to the extent they pay attention to targeted ads at all, hate them: The top paid iPhone app on Apple's App Store is an ad blocker.
''I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the Internet than ad tech,'' says Bob Hoffman, a veteran ad executive, industry critic, and author of the blog the Ad Contrarian. ''It interferes with everything we try to do on the Web. It has cheapened and debased advertising and spawned criminal empires.'' Most ridiculous of all, he adds, is that advertisers are further away than ever from solving the old which-part-of-my-budget-is-working problem. ''Nobody knows the exact number,'' Hoffman says, ''but probably about 50 percent of what you're spending online is being stolen from you.''
Bonnier is a 211-year-old Swedish media conglomerate. Like a lot of traditional publishing companies, it has struggled in its transition to the Internet era. Generating digital revenue to offset declines in the print business is paramount, and video ads are particularly lucrative. Last year the company began to build videocentric sites for Saveur and several of its other titles, including Outdoor Life, Working Mother, and Popular Science.
About half of Saveur.tv's home page is taken up by a player that automatically plays videos with simple kitchen tips. In early September, the spots (How to Stir a Cocktail, Step One: ''Hold the spoon between pointer and middle finger'‰'...''), were preceded by ads from Snapple and Mrs. Meyer's household cleaning products.
The challenge for Bonnier was building an audience. That can be done organically'--by coming up with lots of content, promoting it until people start watching, persuading advertisers to buy in. Or there's a modern shortcut: Buy traffic. Which doesn't necessarily mean fake it. Publishers often pay to redirect human users from somewhere else on the Internet to their own sites, and companies such as Taboola and Outbrain specialize in managing this kind of traffic. Website A hires Taboola, which pays Website B to put ''content from around the Web'' boxes at the bottom of its pages. Viewers, enticed by headlines like ''37 Things You Didn't Know About Scarlett Johansson,'' click on a box and are redirected to Website A. But redirects are also expensive. In practice, only 2 percent of people on a site click on these boxes, and Website A has to compensate Website B handsomely for giving up precious visitors.
Less ethical methods are cheaper. Pop-ups'--those tiny browser windows that you ignore, click to close, or never see'--are one way to inflate visitor numbers. As soon as that window appears on your computer, you're counted as someone who's seen the ads. An even more cost-effective technique'--and as a rule of thumb, fake is always cheaper'--is an ad bot, malware that surreptitiously takes over someone else's computer and creates a virtual browser. This virtual browser, invisible to the computer's owner, visits websites, scrolls through pages, and clicks links. No one is viewing the pages, of course; it's just the malware. But unless the bot is detected, it's counted as a view by traffic-measuring services. A botnet, with thousands of hijacked computers working in concert, can create a massive ''audience'' very quickly.
All a budding media mogul'--whether a website operator or a traffic supplier'--has to do to make money is arbitrage: Buy low, sell high. The art is making the fake traffic look real, often by sprucing up websites with just enough content to make them appear authentic. Programmatic ad-buying systems don't necessarily differentiate between real users and bots, or between websites with fresh, original work, and Potemkin sites camouflaged with stock photos and cut-and-paste articles.
Bonnier wasn't that audacious. But even its own executives say the content on the video sites was unlikely to create and sustain much of an audience on its own. So they turned to several different traffic brokers'--or audience networks, to use the industry euphemism. Sean Holzman, Bonnier's chief digital revenue officer, described the practice as normal for big-time publishers, especially those rolling out new products, because advertisers won't bother with sites that don't already have an audience. ''It was a test, a way to prime the pump and see if we could build these sites at this price point,'' he says. ''You usually have to keep buying some traffic, because the audience you're getting isn't as sticky.''
It's also common for publishers not to tell their advertisers when they're buying traffic, and in most cases, Bonnier didn't. When advertisers asked, says spokeswoman Dorset, the company was open about its buying traffic. Holzman says there was no intent to deceive anyone. The company hired security firms, he adds, including DoubleVerify, to vet the sites for bots and was assured they were buying real human visitors. But he says they weren't paying top dollar for their traffic. Among audience networks, he says, ''there are some you might call Toyotas, others we'd consider Mercedes. We were priced at the Toyota level.''
The traffic market is unregulated, and sellers range from unimpeachable to adequate to downright sleazy; price is part of the market's code. The cheap stuff is very easy to find. On LinkedIn there's a forum called ''Buying & Selling TRAFFIC,'' where 1,000 ''visitors'' can be had for $1. Legit traffic is a lot more expensive. Taboola, for example, charges publishers from 20 to 90 per visitor for video content, targeted to a U.S. audience on desktops only. A publisher like Bonnier can sell a video ad for 1 to 1.2 per view in a programmatic auction, which is how the company sold most ads on its video sites. If Bonnier had gone with Taboola, it might be losing 19 per view or more.
Soon after it started buying traffic, Bonnier's numbers began to jump. In the summer of 2014, several of the video sites had almost zero visitors, according to ComScore. By December, Saveur.tv had 6 million monthly visitors and WorkingMotherTV.com, 4 million, according to site data provided by Bonnier. In May traffic surged again: 9 million for Saveur.tv; 5 million for WorkingMotherTV.com. The numbers didn't pass muster with at least one big ad firm: SiteScout, which aggregates and lists ad space for sale from more than 68,000 websites, says it blocks several of these new Bonnier sites for ''excessive nonhuman traffic.'' Bonnier says it doesn't work directly with SiteScout and was unaware its video properties had been blocked.
(Bloomberg.com, which like Bloomberg Businessweek is owned by Bloomberg LP, reported 24.2 million unique visitors in the U.S. in August, according to ComScore. The site purchases between 1 percent and 2 percent of its traffic from Taboola and Outbrain. ''In the past, we have engaged with a few other vendors,'' says global head of digital Paul Maya, ''but we weren't confident in the quality of the audience, despite assurances from the vendor, and canceled those deals.'')
Bonnier declined to reveal its traffic suppliers, but an analysis by SimilarWeb, a traffic-analysis firm, shows most of it arrived from a handful of identical-looking sites with names like Omnaling.com and Connect5364. com, each describing itself as ''an advertising network technology domain.'' Essentially the domains work like fire hoses, pumping traffic anywhere on the Internet. They're registered anonymously but have shared computer addresses with other sites, including one called Daniel-Yomtobian.com. Daniel Yomtobian is the chief executive officer of a traffic supplier in Sherman Oaks, Calif., called Advertise.com.
When reached by phone, Yomtobian is gregarious and friendly. He describes Advertise.com as an ad network that sells more than 300 million page visits each month to companies that want to boost their traffic. Among his customers is Bonnier, which, he says, mainly purchased his cheapest-possible traffic, including ''tab-unders.'' Say you're watching a movie on Netflix. A tab-under opens up another window beneath the one playing the movie. You may never see that new window, which displays an Advertise.com customer's website, but Advertise.com's customer still generates another page view. Repeat a few thousand times, and you build traffic numbers.
''I've found Advertise.com selling every type of worthless traffic I am able to detect,'' says Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard Business School professor who researches the digital economy. ''And doing so persistently, for months and indeed, years.''
Yomtobian allows that tab-unders are ''low-quality traffic'' and that Bonnier complained about that. But he says his firm checks the traffic of its supplying partners for bots and sends only real humans to the Bonnier websites. ''We would never deliver traffic that we don't think is real,'' he says. Yomtobian also disputes Edelman's claims that Advertise.com's traffic is worthless. After all, people sometimes do see tab-unders and click on them. ''There is a huge distinction,'' he says, ''between worthless traffic and low-quality traffic.''
You've probably never visited MyTopFace.com. It's a cosmetics advice site that sells ad slots for anywhere from 73 to $10 per 1,000 views, with video ads fetching far more money than display ads, according to SiteScout. As of early September, the top story on MyTopFace, an article with an accompanying video called ''Smokey Eye Makeup'--Kim Kardashian Look,'' was at least 5 months old. Stale content seems like the worst way to attract readers, but if the readers are bots, it doesn't matter. So MyTopFace could have made as much as $9 for every 1,000 visitors, assuming it kept costs close to zero and was able to acquire traffic at a rate of $1 per 1,000. MyTopFace ran ads from companies and brands such as American Express and Hebrew National hot dogs.
After more than a dozen e-mails and phone calls, the operator of MyTopFace agreed to meet with Bloomberg Businessweek. He's 28, lives in Brooklyn, and introduces himself as Boris Boris (although a number of his network's sites are registered under other names). On a warm September afternoon, he shows up at a trendy Flatbush Avenue cafe with his wife and their 1-month-old son in tow. He's wearing a pair of brown, tortoiseshell glasses and sports a goatee with a waxed, handlebar mustache.
Boris says he was born in eastern Ukraine and made it to the U.S. when a Russian-owned business in New York heard about his Internet marketing skills through the (C)migr(C) grapevine and got him a temporary visa. After a few months of fine-tuning, he helped a Brooklyn meat processor's website vault to the top of Google searches. ''They were happy, and I knew I could stay,'' Boris says. ''And I knew that I could find success in the USA, too.''
But Boris saw that the real opportunities in Web advertising lay elsewhere. In less than five years, he's built a minipublishing empire, Boris Media Group, largely through the acquisition of cheap'--and, often, fake'--traffic. Along with MyTopFace, his portfolio includes several low-maintenance properties, such as MaryBoo.com, which offers health and beauty tips to pregnant women. Boris's LinkedIn profile says his sites combine to reach more than 10 million viewers daily, which would get him in four days what the Los Angeles Times gets in a month.
Boris's traffic number is difficult to verify'--he declined to provide a full list of his websites. But for much of the summer, MyTopFace offered from 30,000 to 100,000 ad impressions for sale each day, according to SiteScout.
During the interview, he freely admits he buys many of the visitors to his websites. He spends about $50,000 per year buying high-quality traffic for MyTopFace from Facebook (nothing nefarious there'--you create an account for your business and then pay Facebook to advertise in people's news feeds). And then he spends another $50,000 or so on cheap traffic whose origins he isn't as sure about. Facebook traffic is real people, and costs about 100 times more per visitor than the mysterious cheap traffic.
Bloomberg Businessweek asked two traffic-fraud-detection firms to assess recent traffic to MyTopFace; they agreed on the condition that their names not be used. One found that 94 percent of 30,000 visitors were bots; the other put the bot traffic at 74 percent. Boris didn't dispute the findings or appear at all concerned. ''If I can buy some traffic and it gets accepted, why not?'' he says. And if advertisers don't like it, he adds, ''they should go buy somewhere else. They want to pay only a little and get a lot of traffic and results. If they want all human traffic, they should go direct to the publisher and pay more.''
In a later e-mail, he explains his business differently. ''Our network doesn't buy traffic, we buy advertising that brings us traffic,'' Boris writes. His operation uses antibot filters, he adds, and any advertiser that does find bot traffic can refuse to pay for it. In any case, fraud would be impossible, he says.
One prominent source of Boris's advertising revenue is Myspace. The once-dominant social network's new owner, the ad-tech firm Viant, relaunched it in 2013 with a focus on video. It has invested in Myspace exclusives, as well as custom-made video players that other sites can embed, much like YouTube's.
When visitors went to MyTopFace.com last summer, a Myspace player would pop up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. First, an ad would show, followed by the editorial content'--a 15-second video of a guy driving a car at night.
The guy-driving-at-night video, called Hitboy, was one of several put together by a Myspace employee to serve as placeholders, according to Viant. They appear whenever Myspace blocks a site from showing its actual video content. That might happen, say, if the site violates Myspace's terms or conditions or if Myspace loses the rights to show a video that had been featured.
But the placeholders are still preceded by ads. Kozy Shack pudding, Chevrolet, Unilever, and various Procter & Gamble brands such as Tampax and Always have all paid for the privilege. Boris says the checks he cashed came through an affiliate program where Viant splits ad revenue with publishers who showed its players.
Viant's executives say they have an affiliate program, but they've never heard of Boris or MyTopFace.com. They declined to name a single company that participates in the program. Boris says he put the Myspace players on his sites after being contacted by a middleman, whom he won't name. ''My balls will be cut off,'' he says.
Ad slots on MyTopFace.com run anywhere from 73 to $10 per 1,000 views.
Chris Vanderhook, Viant's chief operating officer, says the company has technology that checks for nonhuman traffic. ''If a website has 80 or 90 percent bot traffic, then yes, we will try to remove this site from any ad rotation,'' he says. Yet Boris's MyTopFace, which, again, according to the estimates provided to Bloomberg Businessweek, had between 74 percent and 94 percent nonhuman traffic, hasn't been cut off. Vanderhook says that must mean Viant's software sees some value to it. If a website has a Myspace player showing ads, he says, ''we deemed that it was still quality enough to auction off.''
Myspace's placeholder videos appeared on about 100 websites in August, according to Telemetry, a fraud-detection firm. If anything, some of the sites are even more creative than MyTopFace. Take RealMovieTrailers.com. The site lists a nonexistent address in New York as its headquarters. The phone number doesn't work. Image searches of its designers' headshots reveal they're stock photos, reused hundreds of times around the Internet. The photo of one designer, Roland Henry, also shows up on a Moroccan travel site as an ecstatic customer named Mohammed Hijazi. Another, Henry Gardner, is on an erectile-dysfunction-treatment page, where he's an unnamed customer declaring it's ''the absolute best.'' The identity of RealMovieTrailers' actual operators isn't clear; the site's address is registered anonymously, and no one responded to an e-mail sent to an address listed on the site.
In September, after Bloomberg Businessweek asked Viant about its content, Myspace players began showing non-placeholder videos. But if the counters embedded in the players are accurate, those placeholders are some of the most watched clips in Internet history. Hitboy has amassed 690 million views. Even bigger is Surfing, which looks like someone butt-dialed a video: five seconds of black screen with some muffled background noise. According to the Myspace counter, Surfing has been viewed 1.5 billion times. That would make it bigger than any YouTube video in history'--with the exception of Gangnam Style.
Programmatic advertising has become such a tangle of data firms, marketing firms, strategy firms, and ad tech companies that it can be hard even for the biggest brands to keep track of it all. Three years ago executives at Kellogg started to notice that spots for Cheez-It, Pop-Tarts, and Special K were running on sketchy websites, hidden in pop-under windows, or compressed into screens as tiny as a single pixel. Others were displayed on sites where much of the ''audience'' was bots. ''It turns out I'm buying from this guy down the street who opens up his coat and says, 'Hey, you want to buy some ads?''‰'' says Jim Kiszka, the food company's senior manager for digital strategy.
The situation became more infuriating when Kellogg tried to get a simple breakdown: How much was each part of the labyrinthine digital-ad process costing? Answers were impossible to come by. Kellogg asked for itemized bills from the various ad agencies and data companies it hired, but they all refused. ''It wasn't a smoking gun,'' Kiszka says. ''It was more like a detective story where you had to piece together the evidence. And it was clear that in a system with that little transparency, there was bound to be problems.''
In response, Kellogg's in-house ad department assumed control of its contracts with publishers and ad platforms such as Google and Yahoo, removing the agencies from the process. Kellogg started using software that alerted it when ads ran on suspect sites and refused to do business with any sites that wouldn't allow third-party validators to screen for bad traffic. Kiszka says the company has seen a 50 percent to 75 percent drop in bot traffic and a significant jump in its return on investment in advertising for Raisin Bran and Corn Flakes.
Bot Traffic by Domain CategorySource: The Bot Baseline: Fraud In Digital Advertising by White Ops, Inc.
Ad fraud may eventually turn into a manageable nuisance like shoplifting, something that companies learn to control without ever eradicating. Advertisers generally see lower levels of fraudulent traffic by dealing directly with publishers rather than using programmatic exchanges. Of course, that also means missing out on the scale that automation provides. Sites such as Facebook, with its billion-plus users, are relatively bot-free, if expensive, places to run an ad. Earlier this year, Facebook said advertisers would have to pay only when their ads are actually seen by humans.
There's also the possibility that the multitudes of smaller ad tech players will get serious about sanitizing their traffic. Walter Knapp, CEO of Sovrn Holdings, a programmatic exchange, says he was as alarmed as anyone at the rise of ad fraud. He decided it was a matter of survival. ''There are 2,000 ad tech companies, and there is maybe room for 20,'' he says. ''I looked around and said, 'This is bulls---.''‰''
About 18 months ago, he set to figuring out how much of his inventory'--ad spaces for sale'--was fake. The answer mortified him: ''Two-thirds was either fraud or suspicious,'' he says. He decided to remove all of it. ''That's $30 million in revenue, which is not insignificant.'' Sovrn's business eventually returned to, and then surpassed, where it was with the bad inventory. Knapp says his company had a scary few months, though, and he keeps part of a molar on his desk as a memento. ''I was clenching it so hard, I cracked it in half,'' he says.
He dismisses the idea that it's hard to tell genuine traffic from fake. ''The whole thing about throwing your hands in the air and saying, 'I don't know, maybe it's real, maybe it's not real,''‰'' he says. ''You can absolutely find out.'' He sees it the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart saw smut. ''How can you tell it's porn? You know it when you see it,'' Knapp says. ''Like, go to the website, man.''
(Correction: Changes description of SiteScout in the 20th paragraph.)
Design Credits:Stephanie DavidsonDorothy GambrellAdam Pearce
New video shows extent of haj disaster (graphic images)
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:58
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The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
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TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
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Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
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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)
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If there is liquid water on Mars, no one'--not even NASA'--can get anywhere near it - Quartz
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:27
NASA claims to have found evidence of liquid water on Mars. If true, you'd expect the US government to scramble to set up a new mission to test the claim. After all, discovering that Mars has life or even that in can support life will be one of the greatest discoveries ever.
But that won't happen so quick. NASA's press statement makes it seem that scientists have certain evidence of flowing water. They do not. What they have is chemical evidence that gives a strong suggestion of liquid water mixed with salts. More importantly, however, even if NASA was 100% certain that there is liquid water on Mars, it could not do anything about it.
The world's space powers are bound by rules agreed to under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that forbid anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth.
Terrestrial life has been shown to be very resilient. Microbes are found in almost every nook and cranny of this planet, even the driest and hottest parts. Earth's microbes survived nearly two years stuck on the outside of the International Space Station and even on a camera on the moon. All probes that land on Mars are cleaned to be sterilized of life but no-one yet knows how strict you need to be to ensure that bacterial life cannot form viable, self-sustaining colonies on Mars.
All space missions to an alien world are bound by planetary protection protocols. On Mars, these protocols determine which areas a mission can and cannot land, and how far it can explore after landing. And the more we learn about Mars, as a 2014 report makes it clear, the more special regions are being found where we can't send missions.
Areas that are warm or wet enough to support Martian life are out of bounds. Polar ice caps, caves, and regions with volcanic activity are such special regions. Even regions where ice is found as deep as five meters below the surface are on the list.
And even that won't cover all eventualities. The Mars 2020 Rover, for instance, carries a plutonium-powered heat generator, which can, if it falls on the surface, cause ice deep inside to melt and create liquid water. Its exploration area, then, is further restricted. The irony is that all these restrictions mean NASA has to stay away from the very regions where it may find water or Martian life.
NASA's hype around the discovery of liquid water on Mars can be explained by its constant need to increase funding for its work. And that attention seems to be helping. But it won't be eager to tell you that its human mission, currently planned for 2030, will inevitably contaminate Mars with microbes, and break the rules of an international treaty.
Indeed, what's the guarantee that all those objects and rovers we've sent to Mars haven't already contaminated the red planet?
How A Little Lab In West Virginia Caught Volkswagen's Big Cheat : NPR
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 06:57
Diesel car engines like this one in a 2012 Volkswagen Golf are among those that include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Patrick Pleul/DPA/Landovhide caption
itoggle caption Patrick Pleul/DPA/LandovDiesel car engines like this one in a 2012 Volkswagen Golf are among those that include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.
Patrick Pleul/DPA/LandovVolkswagen was recently brought to its knees when scientists discovered the company had installed a device in its diesel-powered cars to fool emissions tests. Its stock price tanked, its reputation has been damaged and its CEO resigned on Wednesday.
So who made the discovery that sent the German car giant into a tailspin? A group of scientists at West Virginia University.
WVU research assistant professor Arvind Thiruvengadam and his colleagues test and experiment on cars and engines. He admits his is not the sexiest lab on campus, but he says he got superexcited when they won a grant in 2012 to test a few diesel cars.
"Our happiness was, 'Wow, we are going to be the first guys to test diesel cars on the road,' " he says. "And then after that, when we were getting the data we were like 'OK, we're going to write a lot of journal papers, and we'll be happy if three people read these journal papers.' That's our happiness at that point."
The International Council on Clean Transportation is a nonprofit that tries to provide independent science to government agencies that regulate the environment. It hired the university to do a standard emissions tests on diesel cars in the U.S. Volkswagen has been hyping diesel cars that are environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. Volkswagen had the boldest claims and the highest sales, but Thiruvengadam tested two VW cars and found that the claims of low emissions never panned out in the real world.
"We were never seeing those low emissions during most part of our drives on the interstate. That part of the emissions program was interesting," he says.
In none of their road tests could they get their two Volkswagen cars to meet the claims, even though a BMW they tested did fine. Very early on it was pretty clear to the scientists that something was wrong.
He says the team kept double-checking its procedures. "And then, I mean, we did so much testing that we couldn't repeatedly be doing the same mistake again and again," he says.
Volkswagen was cheating. That's what everyone in the project began to suspect but wouldn't dare to say out loud.
"It's the sort of thing you just don't go around accusing companies of doing unless you're absolutely sure," says John German, with the International Council on Clean Transportation '-- the group that commissioned the test. German immediately suspected Volkswagen had done something not completely unheard of in the car business: install what's called a defeat device.
"The quick definition is something that tells the computer when you're on the official test cycle and when you're not. And when you're not, you change how the emission control system works," he says.
German says the deceit doesn't just stop with a programmer writing code.
"It's both writing the code, but you also need to do validation. So someone had to take these vehicles out, test them on the standard test cycle, make sure that the emission controls are supposed to be working when they're supposed to be working," he says.
German's group turned its data over to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. He says things like this start with one little lie or cheat at a time.
"You take a little step, you don't get caught. So yeah, you take another little step," he says. "And then maybe you don't even realize how far over the line you are."
So does he feel vindicated?
"I think vindicated is the wrong word. I feel satisfaction that we have contributed to something that will have a major impact on public health," he says. "But vindication implies that we are out to get somebody. And we weren't. We had no idea that this was out there."
The question now for investigators and prosecutors from Korea to Germany to the U.S. is how many people at Volkswagen knew and how far up that knowledge went.
UK Trident programme - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 05:27
This article covers the entire British Trident nuclear weapons programme. For a technical discussion of the Trident I and Trident II missiles, see Trident (missile)The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them.
Trident itself is an operational system of four Vanguard-classsubmarines armed with Trident II D-5ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. It is the most expensive and the most powerful capability of the British military forces.
Operated by the Royal Navy and based at Clyde Naval Base on Scotland's west coast, at least one submarine is always on patrol to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent. Under the terms of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review,[1] each will be armed with a maximum of eight missiles and 40 warheads, although their capacity is much larger.
The UK Trident programme was announced in July 1980, and patrols began in December 1994. Since 1998, Trident has been the only British nuclear weapon system in service. Its stated purpose is to provide "the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat."[1]
Trident replaced the earlier submarine-based Polaris system, which was in operation from 1968 to 1996. Work on a potential replacement for the Trident system has begun, although no final decisions have been taken.
History[edit]In 1980 the Government of the United Kingdom announced its intention to replace its independent nuclear deterrent, and formally sought permission to acquire the Trident I C-4 missile then in service with the US Navy.[2]
Trident would replace the UK Polaris programme system of four Resolution-class submarines, equipped with the US-built Polaris A3 missile. These missiles were originally armed with triple ET.317 warheads aimed at a single target, later upgraded by the UK Chevaline programme to two hardened warheads accompanied with countermeasures.[3]
Following the acceleration of the US Trident II D-5 programme, the existing Polaris Sales Agreement was modified in 1982 to permit the supply of the more advanced missiles.[4] Under the agreement, the UK would lease 65 Trident II D-5 missiles from a larger pool of such weapons based at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in the United States. The US would retain responsibility for the maintenance of the missiles, and the UK would manufacture its own warheads and submarines.[5]
The entire project was projected to cost £5 billion, including the four submarines, the missiles, new facilities at Coulport and Faslane and a five per cent contribution to Trident II D-5 research and development. The option for a fifth submarine was discussed at the time but later discounted, and the number of missiles leased was later reduced from 65 to 58.[6]
The UK programme's future was secured the following year when the Conservative government won the general election, defeating the Labour opposition which had pledged to cancel the programme.[7]
The Vanguard-class submarines were built between 1986 and 1998 by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The first British Trident missile was test-fired from HMS Vanguard on 26 May 1994, and Vanguard went on to begin the first Trident patrol in December of that year. According to the Royal Navy, at least one submarine has always been on patrol ever since.[8]
Trident has been the UK's sole nuclear weapons system since the retirement of the WE.177 tactical nuclear weapon following the 1998 Strategic Defence Review.[9]
UK nuclear policy[edit]The UK Trident programme was initiated during a period of increased tension known as the Cold War, and its capabilities were designed to deter powerful Warsaw Pact forces. By the time of the first Vanguard patrol in December 1994, the Soviet Union no longer existed and UK nuclear policy was gradually adjusted during the following years.[5]
The final decision on firing the missiles is the responsibility of the British Prime Minister. Upon taking office, the Prime Minister writes four identical letters of last resort, each of which is locked in a safe aboard a Vanguard submarine. In the event of irrevocably losing contact with the UK, the commanding officer must follow the instructions in the letter if he believes that the United Kingdom has suffered an overwhelming attack.[10] The exact content of the letters is not disclosed, and they are destroyed without being read upon the election of a new Prime Minister.
Under the terms of the missile lease arrangement, the United States does not have any veto on the use of British nuclear weapons, which the UK may launch independently.[11]
Cold War policy[edit]The Trident system was designed to provide an ongoing independently-controlled deterrent against major threats to the security of the United Kingdom and NATO.[2] At the time, these threats were perceived to come from the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies.[5] To provide an effective deterrent, the system was intended to "pose a potential threat to key aspects of Soviet state power" while remaining invulnerable to surprise or Pre-emptive nuclear strike.
As with Polaris, Trident would be owned and operated by the UK but committed to NATO and targeted in accordance with plans set out by its Supreme Commander in Europe. The system would be used independently only if "supreme national interests" required it.[12]
The independent deterrent was seen as necessary in case the Soviet Union believed that it could threaten nuclear attack on Western Europe without the risk of US retaliation, because of US fears of a Soviet counter-strike against its own population centers.[2] Without a credible US umbrella, European leaders would be susceptible to nuclear blackmail which could force them into major concessions.[13]
It was considered crucial that the independent British deterrent could penetrate existing and future Soviet anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities. A powerful ABM system, the ABM-1 Galosh, defended Moscow and NATO believed that the USSR would continue to develop its effectiveness. The deterrent logic required the ability to credibly threaten the destruction of the Soviet capital and other major cities.[5] The expensive Chevaline upgrade to Polaris had been designed to keep pace with the ABM developments, but the full MIRV capabilities of the Trident missiles were deemed necessary to assure the credibility of the deterrent into the late 1990s and beyond.[2]
Post-Cold War policy[edit]The USSR collapsed in 1991, and NATO military posture was relaxed. Trident's missiles were "detargetted" in 1994, ahead of the maiden voyage of the first Vanguard-class SSBN.[14] This means that the warheads are no longer aimed at specific targets but await coordinates that can be programmed into their on-board computers and fired within 15 minutes.
Although designed as a strategic deterrent, the changed nature of conflict led the government to conclude that a sub-strategic (but not tactical) role was required. The 1994 Defence White Paper stated, "We also need the capability to undertake nuclear action on a more limited scale in order to ... halt aggression without inevitably triggering strategic nuclear exchanges." A later statement read, "We also intend to exploit the flexibility of Trident to provide the vehicle for both sub-strategic and strategic elements of our deterrent." On 19 March 1998 Defence SecretaryGeorge Robertson was asked to provide a statement, "on the development of a lower-yield variant of the Trident warhead for the sub-strategic role." He replied, "The UK has some flexibility in the choice of yield for the warheads on its Trident missiles."[15]
The government announced in 1998 that each submarine would carry no more than 48 warheads, and further reduced this to a maximum of 40 warheads split between eight missiles in 2010.[16]
Design, development and construction[edit]Trident required the design and construction of four very large submarines, the development, testing and assembly of a new generation of warheads, as well as the construction of new shore facilities. This work began in 1980 and the first patrol took place in late 1994. Submarine production continued until 1998, and it is believed that new warheads are still being assembled at a trickle rate. In addition, the UK government provided five per cent of the costs towards the development of the Trident II D-5 missile.[17]
Vanguard-class submarines[edit]The Vanguard class submarines were designed and built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, now BAE Systems Submarine Solutions. The Devonshire Dock Hall was built specifically for the construction of the submarines. The missile compartment is based on the system used on the American Ohio class, although with capacity for only 16 missiles, rather than the 24 aboard an Ohio boat.
The 'Vanguard' submarines were designed from the outset as nuclear-powered ballistic missile platforms able to accommodate the Trident II D-5. This required the boats to be significantly larger than the previous Resolution class, and they are some of the largest submarines ever built, only eclipsed by the American Ohio and Russian Typhoon- and Borei-classes.
In addition to the missile tubes, the submarines are fitted with four 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes and carry the Spearfish heavyweight torpedo[18] allowing them to engage submerged or surface targets at ranges up to 65 kilometres (40 mi; 35 nmi). Two SSE Mark 10 launchers are also fitted allowing the boats to deploy Type 2066 and Type 2071 decoys, and a UAP Mark 3 electronic support measures (ESM) intercept system is carried. A 'Core H' reactor is fitted to each of the boats during their long-overhaul refit periods, ensuring that none of the submarines will require further re-fuelling for the rest of their service lives.[19]
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher laid the keel of the first boat, HMS Vanguard, on 3 September 1986.[20] The fourth and final boat, HMS Vengeance, was launched on 19 September 1998.
Warheads[edit]The British government maintains that the warheads used in the UK Trident system were "designed and manufactured in the UK at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston". However, declassified US Department of Energy documents indicate that development of the non-nuclear elements of the warhead may have taken place alongside those of the US W76 nuclear warhead fitted in some US Navy Trident missiles.[21] However, the United Kingdom did help develop US nuclear weapons through the British contribution to the Manhattan Project so either way the claim has validity.
The National Audit Office noted that most of the warhead development and production expenditure was incurred in the US.[22][23] The US President authorised the transfer of nuclear warhead components to the UK between 1991 and 1996.[24] This has led the Federation of American Scientists to speculate that the UK warhead may share design information from the W76; a practice encouraged by the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement.[25]
Nine joint US/UK underground nuclear tests were carried out at the Nevada Test Site between 1983 and 1991,[26] with many or all of these believed to be tests of the British-variant Trident physics package.[27]
The final warheads have been assembled at the AWE facilities near Aldermaston and Burghfield since 1992, and are transported to storage facilities in Scotland by heavily guarded overland convoys.[28]
Trident II D-5 Missiles[edit]UGM-133 Trident II D-5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the US Navy as well as the Royal Navy.[29] The British government contributed 5% of its development costs under the modified Polaris Sales Agreement.
The development contract was issued in October 1983, and the first launch occurred in January 1987. The first submarine launch was attempted by the USS Tennessee in March 1989. The launch attempt failed because the plume of water following the missile rose to a greater height than expected, resulting in water being in the nozzle when the motor ignited. Once the problem was understood relatively simple changes were very quickly made but the problem delayed the Initial Operational Capability of Trident II until March 1990.[30]
Trident II D-5 was designed to be more sophisticated than its predecessor Trident I C-4, and have a greater payload capacity. It is accurate enough to be used as a first strike weapon. All three stages of the Trident II D-5 are made of graphite epoxy, making the missile much lighter than its predecessor.[31]
By February 2012, there had been 137 consecutive successful test flights since 1989, and the first test from a British Vanguard-class submarine took place in 1994.[32]
The missile has a range of 11,300 km (7,000 mi), a top speed of over 21,600 km/h (13,400 mph) (Mach 17.4) and a CEP (accuracy) of less than 120 m (390 ft). The missile uses an inertial guidance system combined with star-sighting, and is not dependent on GPS.
Cost[edit]The total acquisition cost of the Trident programme was £9.8 billion, or £14.9 billion at 2005 prices, 38% of which was incurred in the U.S. In 2005/2006, annual expenditure for running and capital costs was estimated at between £1.2bn and £1.7bn and was estimated to rise to £2bn to £2.2bn in 2007/2008, including Atomic Weapons Establishment costs. Since Trident became operational in 1994, annual expenditure has ranged between 3% and 4.5% of the annual defence budget, and was expected to increase to 5.5% of the defence budget by 2007/2008.[23][33] Each missile costs nearly £17 million.[34]
Various studies have put the cost of the programme much higher '' according to Greenpeace, replacing the program would cost £34bn,[35] while the upkeep of the system over its 30-year life could run up to £130bn.[36] According to the BASIC think tank, cancelling the program would save the budget over £83bn over the next 50 years.[37]
Trident system in operation[edit]The Trident system is made up of 58 leased Trident II D-5 missiles, four native Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines and 160 operational thermonuclear weapon warheads, together with command-and-control and other supporting infrastructure.
Each of the submarines can carry up to 16 Trident II D-5submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), with each missile capable of carrying up to 12 independently targetable nuclear warheads. This makes for a potential maximum of 192 warheads per submarine. The current loading is unknown, although the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review set out that in the future each submarine would be armed with 8 missiles and a maximum of 40 warheads.
Most of the warheads have a yield of 80-100 kilotons, although there has been speculation that some missiles may be armed with a single low-yield nuclear warhead of 10-15 kilotons.[10][38]
Patrols[edit]The principle of operation is known as continuous at-sea deterrence, which means that at least one submarine is always on active patrol. A second submarine is normally undergoing maintenance and the remaining two are in port or on training exercises.
During a patrol, the submarine is required to remain silent for three months and is allowed to make contact with the base only in a dire emergency. The submarine navigates using mapped contour lines of the ocean floor and patrols a series of planned "boxes" measuring several thousand square miles. A 1000-metre aerial trails on the surface behind the submarine to pick up incoming messages. Intelligence is constantly relayed to the vessel, giving details of shipping movements and potentially hostile aircraft or submarines in the area.
Most of the crew never know where they are and no one on board would know which targets were selected.[10]
Command and control[edit]Only the Prime Minister or a designated survivor can order the missiles to be fired. These orders would likely be issued from the Pindar command bunker under Whitehall in central London. From there the order would be relayed to the CTF 345 operations room at the Northwood Headquarters facility in Hertfordshire, the only facility allowed to communicate with the Vanguard commander on patrol.
Two personnel are required to authenticate each stage of the process before launching, with the submarine commander only able to activate the firing trigger after two safes have been opened with keys held by the ship's executive and weapons engineering officers.
At the end of the Cold War, the US Navy installed devices to prevent rogue commanders persuading their crews to launch unauthorised nuclear attacks. These devices prevent an attack until a launch code had been sent by the Chiefs of Staff on behalf of the President. The UK took a decision not to install equivalent devices onto Vanguard on the grounds that an aggressor might be able to eliminate the British chain of command before a launch order had been sent.[39][40][41]
The process by which a Trident submarine commander would determine whether the British government continues to function includes, amongst other checks, establishing whether BBC Radio 4 continues broadcasting.[42] If the UK Government no longer functions, the letters of last resort drafted by the Prime Minister would be retrieved from a safe bolted to the control room deck.
Possible Infiltration[edit]Cuts to the UK's maritime patrol fleet in the 2010 Security Defence Review potentially allowed Russia to gain "valuable intelligence" on the country's nuclear deterrence according to senior RAF officers. Subsequently, plans to buy eight Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton drones were moved forward considerably.[43][44]
Missile and warhead inventory[edit]While the theoretical capacity of the four Vanguard-class submarines is 64 missiles and 768 warheads, currently 58 missiles are cyclically leased. The UK leases the missiles from a general pool, together with the Atlantic squadron of the USN Ohio-class SSBNs at King's Bay, Georgia[10] (previously the UK maintained its Polaris missiles). The pool is 'co-mingled' and missiles are selected at random for loading on to either nation's submarines.
The number of warheads is significantly less than originally intended, due to the changed strategic situation after the demise of the USSR. Currently there are 200 warheads, and the number may fall close to 160 in the near future, however, this can change at any given moment depending on the strategic situation.
In the Strategic Defence Review published in July 1998, the British government stated that once the Vanguard submarines became fully operational (the fourth and final one, Vengeance, entered service on 27 November 1999), it would "maintain a stockpile of fewer than 200 operationally available warheads."[45] The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has estimated the figure as about 165, consisting of 144 deployed weapons plus an extra 15% as spares.[46] Spares are usually needed within the supply chain, including the maintenance workshops.
At the same time, the government indicated that warheads "required to provide a necessary processing margin and for technical surveillance purposes" were not included in the "fewer than 200" figure.[47] However, as recently declassified archived documents on Chevaline make clear, the 15% excess (referred to by SIPRI as for spares) is normally intended to "provide the necessary processing margin" and "surveillance rounds do not contain any nuclear material" being completely inert. These surveillance rounds are used to monitor deterioration in the many non-nuclear components of the warhead, and are best compared with inert training rounds. The SIPRI figures correspond accurately with the official announcements and are likely to be the most accurate. The Natural Resources Defense Council speculates that a figure of 200 is accurate to within a few tens.[48] In 2008 the National Audit Office stated that the UK stockpile was of fewer than 160 operationally available nuclear warheads.[49]
Basing[edit]"Trident" is based at HMNB Clyde, in the West of Scotland. This comprises two facilities, a submarine berth at Faslane near Helensburgh, and an ordnance depot at RNAD Coulport.
Faslane was chosen at the height of the Cold War because of its position on the deep and easily navigable Gare Loch and Firth of Clyde. This position provides for rapid and stealthy access through the North Channel to the patrolling areas in the North Atlantic, through the GIUK gap to the Norwegian Sea.
Coulport is used to store the warheads and provides loading and unloading facilities.
In addition, repair, refuelling and refit of the Vanguard class submarines is carried out at HMNB Devonport near Plymouth.
Politics[edit]According to the British House of Commons' Defence Select Committee, the original purpose of Trident was to discourage aggression against the UK, its allies and its interests from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
Opposition[edit]The Trident system received significant opposition during its development. The most visible opposition has stemmed from the more general use of nuclear weapons, and also from Trident's status under international law. Trident is also seen by some, such as the Scottish National Party, as a sticking point in relations between the Scottish Parliament and Westminster, since the submarines which carry the missiles are based at HMNB Clyde in Scotland.
Former Vulcan squadron commander and current vice-president of CND Air Commodore Alastair Mackie has referred to Trident as Britain's 'stick-on hairy chest'.[50]
Scottish politics[edit]All major pro-independence Scottish political parties, such as the Scottish National Party, Scottish Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity, have policies opposing the presence of the Trident system in Scotland. Some members and ex-members of those parties, such as Tommy Sheridan, have taken part in blockades of the base at Faslane.
In addition to more general anti-nuclear feeling, some[who?] see Trident as symbolic of differences in political opinion between Scotland and the rest of the UK - for example, in a major House of Commons vote the majority of Scottish MPs voted against upgrading the system, while a substantial majority of English MPs, Welsh MPs and Northern Irish MPs voted in favour.[51]
In April 2013, thousands of Scottish campaigners, MSPs, and union leaders, rallied against nuclear weapons. The Scrap Trident Coalition wants to see an end to nuclear weapons, and says saved money should be used for health, education and welfare initiatives. There was also a blockade of the Faslane Naval Base, where Trident missiles are stored.[52]
Activism[edit]Several groups have taken action against Trident, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Trident Ploughshares, a group set up specifically to oppose the Trident system. In 2006 a year-long protest at Trident's base at Faslane, named Faslane 365, was initiated with the aim of blockading the base every day for one year. By 26 January 2007, 50 groups had taken part in blockades, leading to 474 arrests.
Trident Ploughshares describe their opposition as follows:
We believe that the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons is totally immoral and irresponsible and that the Trident system is illegal under international law. Our disarmament action is necessary since the UK government has to date shown no signs of any intention to dismantle the system. As citizens we have both a right and a duty to uphold international humanitarian law. The UK's Trident nuclear weapons system is based on four submarines which carry between 12 and 16 missiles, each of which can deliver a number of 100 kiloton warheads to individual targets - mass destruction on an unimaginable level.[53]Legality[edit]On 8 July 1996 the International Court of Justice, the highest court of the United Nations, handed down an advisory opinion that stated that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would in most cases violate various articles of international law, including the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On 19 December 2005 Rabinder SinghQC and ProfessorChristine Chinkin, a colleague of Cherie Blair at Matrix Chambers, handed down a legal opinion at the request of Peacerights[54] which specifically addressed
"whether Trident or a likely replacement to Trident breaches customary international law"[55]
Drawing on the ICJ opinion, Singh and Chinkin argued that:
"The use of the Trident system would breach customary international law, in particular because it would infringe the "intransgressible" [principles of international customary law] requirement that a distinction must be drawn between combatants and non-combatants."[55]
In addition, Singh and Chinkin argued:
"The replacement of Trident is likely to constitute a breach of article VI of the NPT...[and that] [s]uch a breach would be a material breach of that treaty."[55]
On 25 January 2007, Des Browne, UK Defence Minister, defended the use of Trident:
"I do not believe it makes sense to say that nuclear weapons are inherently evil. In certain circumstances, they can play a positive role - as they have in the past. But clearly they have a power to do great harm," he said.
"Are we prepared to tolerate a world in which countries which care about morality lay down their nuclear weapons, leaving others to threaten the rest of the world or hold it to ransom?"[56]
In May 2015 a whistleblower, AB William McNeilly published a document via Wikileaks describing numerous vulnerabilities of the programme, mostly resulting from personnel negligency and non-compliance with established security procedures.[57] McNeilly, who had been serving aboard HMS Victorious, described several safety and security flaws which included the following:[58]
ID cards were rarely checked, while bags could easily be taken on board without being searchedA fire broke out in one missile compartment; another missile compartment was being used as a gymThere were failures in testing whether missiles could be safely launchedAlarms were often muted by crew members to avoid listening to themSome crew members displayed "clear psychopathic tendencies";[59] one incident involved a crew member who, having lost a pair of flip flops, began "throwing things everywhere, looking for them [...] he punched lockers and went on shouting and banging for over ten minutes ['...] When someone trying to sleep said 'what's your problem?' he responded by verbally assaulting him."Personal electronics such as e-cigarettes, laptops, phones, and tablets could be brought aboard despite such devices being banned; similarly it was possible for McNeilly to record a book with his phone in an area where no recording devices were allowedWriting about McNeilly's disclosures for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Heather Williams noted ruefully that "the kind of nuclear security breaches he cites are neither new nor surprising."[60] A swift inquiry concluded, however, that no safety breaches had occurred. In a letter to parliament, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stated that "[m]ost of McNeilly's concerns proved to be either factually incorrect or the result of mis- or partial understanding."[61]
Replacement[edit]The Vanguard-class submarines were built with a 25-year life expectancy, taking them into the 2020s. The Trident II D-5 missiles are expected to continue in service until at least 2042 following an upgrade.
The government has begun planning a new submarine-based system, and has announced its intention to replace the four vessels as they reach the age of 25 (possibly to be extended to 30) years. Costs are uncertain, depending on whether the replacement programme buys new-design boats, modifies the design of the existing Astute class SSN to carry ballistic missiles, or simply acquires new Vanguard-class submarines. A final decision to proceed with the replacement has not yet been taken.
It is also uncertain whether the replacement programme will buy three submarines or four. Four submarines would guarantee "continuous at-sea deterrence". Three submarines would present a risk that continuity could be stretched. The proposed British replacement of Trident is a programme replacing the existing Trident weapons system based on four Vanguard class submarines each armed with 16 Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
The US are extending the life of their Trident submarines to 30''40 years and Professor Richard Garwin, a US nuclear weapons expert and adviser to three US presidents, has advised British MPs that the same could be done in the UK saving £5 billion and allowing time for a rethink of British nuclear strategy.[10]
There is some opposition to the replacement programme (particularly in Scotland where the system is located)'--both from those who want to take the opportunity for full nuclear disarmament and those, such as the Liberal Democrats, who would prefer a less costly alternative. Initial proposals to replace the Trident system were passed by the House of Commons by a majority of 248 on 14 March 2007.[62]
Trident Reviews[edit]Trident Alternatives Review[edit]The product of an 18-month study led by the Cabinet Office, the 2013 Trident Alternatives Review was aimed at establishing whether or not there exist credible alternatives to the UK's CASD submarine-based nuclear deterrence posture, in the context of the wider national debate around Trident.
Accordingly, the review analyzed a range of combinations, delivery systems, and warhead designs as possible alternatives to the current system in an attempt to test their effectiveness against potential targets as well as to discern their affordability.[63]
The review, however, established that all but one of the alternatives to the UK's current nuclear posture would be more costly. This, the report determined, is due largely to the great amount of time the UK would need to develop effective warheads for cruise missiles, which would necessitate the construction of two additional submarines to "fill the gap" between the expiration of the current fleet and the launch of an alternative cruise missile-based system in approximately 2040.[63][64]
The single less costly alternative to like-for-like renewal would entail a reduction from four to three submarines-an alternative which, according to the report, would render the UK more vulnerable to being targeted by an adversary who can act when there is no submarine on patrol.[64]
Ultimately, the Trident Alternatives Review came to the conclusion that there exist alternatives to Trident that "would enable the UK to be capable of inflicting significant damage such that most potential adversaries around the world would be deterred", although no alternatives would "offer the same degree of resilience as the current posture". The review asserted that whether or not cruise missile-based systems offer a credible alternative to the current nuclear posture would be contingent upon a political judgment on whether the UK could accept a "significant increase in vulnerability" and a diminishment in whom it could deter unilaterally.[63]
The publication of the report was met with a mixed and varied reception from different political parties and NGOs in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament. While it was welcomed by David Cameron as having confirmed the necessity of like-for-like replacement of Trident, Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Danny Alexander deemed it a demonstration of the fact there are "credible and viable alternatives to the UK's current approach to nuclear deterrence." Members of the NGO community, including the executive director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), Paul Ingram, criticized the report for its limited scope and its failure to engage with a wider array of considerations related to nuclear weapons, including environmental and humanitarian considerations.[64][65][66]
The Trident Commission[edit]In 2011, the non-proliferation and disarmament think-tank BASIC launched an independent cross-party Commission in order to initiate a deeper national debate on the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons policy and examine questions around the contentious issue of Trident renewal. The Commission operated under the chairmanship of former Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne); former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind; and Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Foreign Secretary.[67]
After three years of deliberation, the Commission released their final report on 1 July 2014 and suggested, with a number of important caveats, that the UK should retain a nuclear deterrent. Most notably, the conclusion acknowledged the significance of the UK's role in disarmament, asserting that, "it remains crucial that the UK show keen regard for its position within the international community and for the shared responsibility to achieve progress in global nuclear disarmament." [68]
BASIC's interpretation of the report also focused on this point, emphasising that the commissioners "agreed that the health of the global strategic environment, particularly nuclear non-proliferation, is critical to national security and is a central consideration. They talk of the need for Britain to maintain its 'glide path down towards disarmament,' to ensure that the renewal decisions the next government will be taking have consistency with the trajectory set by successive recent governments, and that the UK should continue to be 'at the forefront of the multilateral disarmament process." [69]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ ab"Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review"(PDF). Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-20. ^ abcd"The Future United Kingdom Strategic Deterrent Force"(PDF). The Defence Council. July 1980. Retrieved May 17, 2012. ^Priest, Andrew (September 2005). "In American Hands: Britain, the United States and the Polaris Nuclear Project 1962''1968". Contemporary British History19 (3): 353''376. doi:10.1080/13619460500100450. ^"Lockheed Martin Receives $15.5-Million Annual Support Contract For The U.K.'S Trident Missile Program". Lockheed Martin. March 15, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2012. ^ abcd"The UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent". Select Committee on Defence Eighth Report. House of Commons. June 20, 2006. Retrieved May 20, 2012. ^Fairhall, David (July 16, 1980). "£5 billion Trident deal is agreed". The Guardian. Retrieved June 2, 2012. ^"Politics 97". BBC News. June 9, 1983. ^"Vanguard Class". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Royal Navy. Retrieved June 2, 2012. ^Fenwick, Toby (2012). "Dropping the bomb: a post Trident future"(PDF). Centre Forum. p. 19. Retrieved June 2, 2012. ^ abcdeMichael Bilton (2008-01-20). "Dive bombers". London: The Sunday Times magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-24. ^Ministry of Defence, reply to a request about the UK nuclear deterrent^Dombey, Norman (April 2007). "What is Trident for?". London Review of Books29 (7): 33''34. ^Kahn, Herman (1984). Thinking about the Unthinkable in the 1980s. Simon & Schuster. pp. 106''107. ISBN 0-671-60449-X. ^Trident, Hansard, 11 Jul 2005, Column 662W^Greenpeace (June 20, 2006). "Annex A: Making Trident more usable and more threatening". Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence. House of Commons. Retrieved June 2, 2012. ^Ministry of Defence Fact sheet 4: Current system. From The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent^Ritchie, Nick (July 2009). "Nuclear Warhead Activities at AWE Aldermaston"(PDF). Trident Ploughshares. Retrieved June 2, 2012. ^Royal Naval Website. "Vanguard Class Ballistic Subs (SSBN)". Retrieved 18 June 2007. ^Jane's Fighting Ships, 2004''2005. Jane's Information Group Limited. p. 794. ISBN 0-7106-2623-1.^[1]^"Stockpile Stewardship Plan: Second Annual Update (FY 1999)"(PDF). U.S. Department of Energy. April 1998. Retrieved 2007-03-15. ^Dan Plesch (March 2006). "The Future of Britain's WMD"(PDF). Foreign Policy Centre. p. 15. Retrieved 2007-03-15. ^ abMinistry of Defence and Property Services Agency: Control and Management of the Trident Programme. National Audit Office. 29 June 1987. ISBN 0-10-202788-9. ^"National Security Directive 61"(PDF). The White House. 2 July 1991. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-03-15. ^"Britain's Next Nuclear Era". Federation of American Scientists. 7 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-03-15. ^"United States Nuclear Tests July 1945 through September 1992"(PDF). U.S. Department of Energy. December 1994. Retrieved May 20, 2012. ^"British Nuclear Testing". The Nuclear Weapon Archive. August 23, 2007. Retrieved May 20, 2012. ^Edwards, Robert (November 12, 2005). "If a nuclear convoy should crash'...". New Scientist. Reed. Retrieved May 20, 2012. ^"Lockheed Martin-Built Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 130th Consecutive Successful Test Flight". Lockheed. December 28, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2012. ^Parsch, Andreas. "UGM-133". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Retrieved 2009-02-14. ^Spinardi, Graham (1994). From Polaris to Trident: The Development of Fleet Ballistic Technology. Cambridge. p. 159. ISBN 0-521-41357-5. ^"Lockheed Martin-Built Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 137th Successful Test Flight". Lockheed. March 14, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012. ^"The Future of the British Nuclear Deterrent"(PDF). Research paper 06/53. House of Commons Library. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-15. ^Trident missile factfile, BBC, 23 Sept 2009. Retrieved Apr 2013.^Q&A: Trident replacement, BBC, 22 Sept 2010. Retrieved Apr 2013.^Revealed: the £130bn cost of Trident replacement, The Guardian, 18 Sept 2009. Retrieved Apr 2013.^Study counts cost of Trident, Financial Times, 21 Mar 2012. Retrieved Apr 2013.^"United Kingdom Nuclear Forces - Trident-II D5". Weapons of Mass Destruction. Federation of American Scientists. December 4, 2006. Retrieved May 15, 2012. ^Ministry of Defence (UK) (15 November 2007). "Nuclear weapons security - MoD statement". BBC Newsnight. Retrieved 19 May 2008. ^British nuclear weapon control (streaming video), Susan Watts, BBCNewsnight, November 2007^"BBC press release November 2007". Bbc.co.uk. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2010. ^Peter Hennessy. The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War, 1945-1970. Allen Lane, The Penguin Press. 256 pages. ISBN 0-7139-9626-9^"UK to Spend £600m on Spy Drones To Protect Britain From Russian Incursion". International Business Times. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2015. ^Kaye, Yasmin (30 May 2015). "RAF cuts to Nimrod patrols allows Russians to spy on Trident submarines, wanrs experts". Retrieved 19 June 2015. ^"Factsheet 22: Nuclear Deterrent". Strategic Defence Review. July 1998. ^http://www.sipri.org/contents/expcon/uk.pdf^"Written Answers to Questions". Commons Hansard. 14 July 1998. ^NRDC: Nuclear Data - Table of Global Nuclear Weapons Stockpiles, 1945-2002^Ministry of Defence: The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability. National Audit Office. 5 November 2008. ISBN 978-0-10-295436-4. Retrieved 2008-11-09. ^http://www.defencemanagement.com/feature_story.asp?id=14687^BBC News - Scots Labour MPs rebel on Trident^"Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters attend Glasgow march against Trident". Daily Record. 13 April 2013. ^"Introducing Trident Ploughshares". Trident Ploughshares. 1 January 2004. ^About Peacerights^ abchttp://www.peacerights.org/reports/195 (paragraph 1 and 2)^Weaver, Matthew (25 January 2007). "UK must retain nuclear deterrent, says Browne". The Guardian (London). ^"Royal Navy submariner defends attack on Trident safety". BBC News. Retrieved 18 May 2015. ^"Trident whistleblower: nuclear 'disaster waiting to happen'". Wikileaks. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015. ^"Navy whistleblower claims Trident is disaster waiting to happen". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-05-24. ^Williams, Heather (1 June 2015). "Britain's Trident, and the need to support nuclear personnel". thebulletin.org. Retrieved 8 June 2015. ^MacLellan, Kylie (28 May 2015). "UK says rejects whistleblower's warning over nuclear submarines". Reuters. Retrieved 8 June 2015. ^"Trident plan wins Commons support". BBC News. 14 March 2007. Retrieved 2006-04-14. ^ abc"Trident Alternatives Review"(PDF). GOV.UK. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^ abcGolan-Vilella, Robert. "UK Review Doubts Trident Alternatives". Arms Control Association. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^"UK has alternatives to Trident - Danny Alexander". BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^Ingram, Paul. "Reading the findings of the UK Trident Alternatives Review"(PDF). British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^"Trident Commission". British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^"The Trident Commission: Concluding Report"(PDF). British American Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014. ^"A BASIC Guide to Interpreting the Trident Commission's Concluding Report"(PDF). British American Security Information Council. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
Google will let companies target ads using your email address | The Verge
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:47
Google will soon let advertisers tap into one of the most lucrative types of ad targeting: email addresses. The search giant is rolling out a new tool called Customer Match, which lets advertisers use a list of email addresses to target specific users across Google services. To be targeted through this technique, you only need to be logged into your Google account and have given your email address to a retailer, perhaps by buying something from their website or giving it out to sign up for a loyalty program. Google says the individual email addresses are anonymized through Customer Match. That means companies won't be able to create personalized profiles of individuals, but they will still be compiling lists with general customer habits like YouTube viewing and Google search histories to target ads with.
For instance, Google will let a retailer you've shopped at upload your email address to Customer Match so that it can serve up ads while you're watching YouTube, searching Google for related products, or checking your Gmail inbox while signed into that email account. The ad product also lets companies create a general audience profile based on existing customers' habits and interests to target new customers when they use Google services.
Customer Match raises some valid privacy concerns
Google rose to the upper echelon of tech titans by amassing a lion's share of the web advertising market. Now, the company is looking for new forms of ad revenue as more consumers gravitate toward mobile devices, where an ad's money-making potential is reduced. Further complicating Google's position are strategic moves from Apple and Facebook to reduce the strength of the web. Apple is doing this by allowing new ad-blocking software on iOS 9, accessible only from using its own mobile Safari web browser as opposed to Google's Chrome. Facebook, on the other hand, has created a robust web and mobile ad service from within its social network while expanding the variety of the web's information, from news articles to videos, users can access right from their News Feed.
By tapping into email addresses, as both Facebook and Twitter do with their own respective products, Google can take higher cuts of the more costly and better targeted ads being served even from within the Gmail and YouTube apps on mobile devices. Google calls Customer Match a "privacy-safe" product, but that may not quell the concern of users who feel that advertisers are getting even more specific with their ad targeting.
Why Humanity Keeps Putting Off the Trip to Mars | TIME
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:45
The new movie The Martian, the story of an ill-fated NASA mission to Mars, takes place in the relatively near future. While some of the science has been nit-picked'--though relatively little, considering it's a movie'--one aspect is, historically speaking, completely believable: the idea that human beings would be sending manned missions to the Red Planet is the very near future.
As NASA revealed that scientists have found evidence of water on Mars on Monday, our solar system neighbor became the focus of renewed interest'--but it's been decades since humankind first heard that a Mars mission was imminent.
It started in the mid-1960s, even before the moon landing, as the fifth-ever class of astronauts chosen by NASA were told that a Mars mission could possibly be in their future. By 1969, with the lunar landing a success, they had a timeline: engineer Wernher von Braun said the American space program could get there by 1982, while the more cautious Vice President Spiro Agnew was aiming for the year 2000 at the latest.
MORE:A Brief History of the Search for Water on Mars
A panel headed by Agnew was, later that year, settled on a middle ground: ''If Congress compromises on a maximum NASA budget of $7.65 billion by 1980,'' TIME reported, ''the Martian touchdown can be achieved in 1986.'' Over the next few years, the 1986 deadline continued to be discussed. (Attention, Hollywood: By 1972, NASA even got into the weeds with the question of what to do about the astronauts' inevitable romantic entanglements during a 590-day mission.)
Fast-forward to the mid-1980s. Humankind was not on Mars.
But that didn't mean we weren't still trying. By 1985, the idea of a joint U.S.-Soviet mission was floated by space experts from around the world. It was to be a Cold War-defying act of scientific greatness, made possible by splitting the bill. The deadline that time around: 2010.
Hopes of that idea becoming reality were temporarily dashed the following year by the Challenger space shuttle disaster, which led NASA to recalibrate its entire mission, but by 1988 it was back on track. ''A manned trip to Mars, long the stuff of science fiction, now appears to be just a matter of time. The mystic planet, glowing red and ever brighter in the night skies, is heading toward its closest approach to the earth in 17 years this September, tantalizingly near and beckoning,'' TIME noted in a cover story about the progress the U.S. and the USSR were both making in research and preparation for such a trip.
MORE:What the Modern Presence of Water on Mars Means
By the start of the '90s, President George H. W. Bush had adjusted the target to aim for ''astronauts on the red sands of Mars by 2019,'' per TIME. Science experts like TIME's Michael Lemonick agreed that 2020 was a ''reasonable'' estimate for when we'd get there. But, as the next decade progressed, there was more and more news of probes and rovers going to Mars, and less and less news of potential manned missions. At the dawn of a new century that trend continued.
The Jan. 26, 2004, cover of TIMEThen, however, George W. Bush announced that Mars was once again a priority for NASA. The summer before the 2004 election, he laid out a plan for returning to the moon around 2015 and getting to Mars not too long after. ''[Though] the year 2030 was bandied about in the press as a target for putting a man on Mars, the President was careful not to set a date,'' TIME's Jeffrey Kluger noted. Some experts at the time even saw 2030 as unnecessarily far away; with real dedication to the mission, they estimated, the 2010 date could have been met.
And now 2010 has come and gone, and 2030 is practically just around the corner. But we haven't given up: just about a month ago, none other than Buzz Aldrin declared that he wanted to see humans on Mars by 2039.
So The Martian may yet become even more scientifically accurate than its creators could have planned, something that future astronauts may well find worth raising a glass (of Martian water) to celebrate.
Read TIME's Jeffrey Kluger on The Martian: The Martian Celebrates the Gutsy Ambition That We've Denied the Real NASA
Read a 1972 imagining of a mission to Mars, here in the TIME Vault:1986: A Space Odyssey to Mars
How my Apple Watch saved my life
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 02:42
The lifesaving Apple Watch.
It was a Friday, about a month ago. I woke up feeling a bit odd; nothing that felt serious, just a slight lack of focus and a little discomfort in my upper body '' maybe too much sticky date pudding last night. A cup of tea will fix it, I told myself.
I strapped on my Apple Watch and unlocked the iPhone 6, filled the kettle and set it going. And then, for no particular reason, I felt for my pulse on my right wrist. The beat wasn't right: two regular thumps and then three or four in rapid succession, almost a buzz instead of a beat.
Aware now that something wasn't right, I tapped the Watch and swiped up to bring up the Heart Rate Glance app. It showed 50 beats a minute, a bit slow perhaps. I tapped it again. This time it showed 150 beats a minute! Not good. I opened Cardio, the heart rate app, on my iPhone, and got the same result. Then to the Health app on the iPhone, where the health and fitness data from the watch is displayed on a dashboard. It showed irregularity, with spiking of between 120 and 150 beats a minute.
The watch uses its green LEDs paired with light-sensitive photodiodes to detect blood flow through your wrist. The blurring is caused by the very fast oscillation of the LED sensors.
I phoned my doctor, who suggested I get to his rooms immediately if not sooner. He checked my pulse and blood pressure, grimaced and phoned for an ambulance. Thirty minutes later I was in the emergency department at Knox Private Hospital and soon after admitted to the cardiac unit for observation and treatment of atrial fibrillation (the erratic heartbeat) followed by an angiogram. Next day a stent was installed in a fairly well-blocked artery, a problem of which I had previously been no more aware than I was of the fibrillation.
In short, the Apple Watch and the healthcare apps on it and the iPhone probably saved my life or, at least, saved me from partial paralysis from a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation is the result of a malfunction in the electrical system controlling the heart. It can occur without being noticed and can sort itself out without medical intervention. It can be treated with drugs or by an electrical charge administered by a specialist. After correction it may return without notice. It is insidious in that in even fairly extreme cases such as mine its seriousness is not readily apparent.
My blocked artery could have produced a heart attack, but the danger of fibrillation is stroke. A fibrillating heart does not properly clear oxygenated blood from its left atrium to the ventricle below and then on to the brain and elsewhere. Clots can form and be carried to the brain and cause strokes.
Without the watch's alert I would probably have ignored it, putting it down to indigestion or a glass too much of that Barossa product. I didn't feel sick, just a bit off-colour, but in fact I was at serious risk.
My cardiologist said probably one in 10 adult Australians have experienced some degree of fibrillation without being aware of it. The Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2010 more than 11,000 Australians died of stroke and that in the same year it was associated with a further 21,000 deaths.
I spent a week in the cardiac ward, was prescribed a lot of pills, and made fully aware that I needed to pay attention to my blood-pumping system. I have changed my diet to minimise cholesterol and reduce my weight, I take a 40-minute walk every day, ride a bike at the weekend, limit consumption of the Barossa product and regularly check my activity on the watch and iPhone.
Four sensors on the underside of the watch collect heart-rate information using a technology called photoplethysmography. Two sensors are green and infrared LEDs. The other two are photodiodes'‹. Blood is red because it reflects red light but absorbs green light. The watch uses its green LEDs paired with the light-sensitive photodiodes'‹ to detect blood flow through your wrist. Blood volume is greater when your heart beats and absorption of green light is greater. The LEDs flash hundreds of times a second, allowing the watch to calculate your heart rate.
Heart monitoring is only one of many ways Apple Watch can measure one's condition. The accelerometer measures movement and the GPS gives the distances travelled on a, say, bike. Cold weather and skin conditions '' tattoos, for instance '' can impede accuracy. But to use external heart monitors strapped to your chest the watch reads by Bluetooth.
Finally, while I think it's important not to become an obsessed hypochondriac, I feel happier now that my watch and its buddy the iPhone are at the heart of the matter.
Did NASA time its Mars announcement to coincide with 'The Martian'? - Yahoo News
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 00:49
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Here's Everything We Know So Far About Finding Water on Mars
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 00:48
Big news broke this morning as NASA scientists announced the first direct evidence for water on Mars. Let that sink in for a moment. Water. On Mars. It's very exciting stuff, just in time for the big opening weekend of The Martian. Here's what we've learned so far about this momentous discovery.
The first hints of water on Mars appeared about five years ago, but there wasn't sufficient data on the exact chemical composition of those dark streaks. Since then, NASA scientists have worked diligently to combine the Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera images with spectral data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (or CRISM) to get a clearer picture. And it worked! Per Gizmodo's Maddie Stone:
Images collected by the Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera show that ''recurrent slope lineae'''-- dark streaks that resemble flow paths on Martian slopes '-- appear to be seasonal, fading when inactive and reappearing annually over multiple Martian years. These features alone hint at the presence of flowing water, but the real clincher comes in the form of spectral data, collected by the Reconnaissance Orbiter's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer: Hydrated perchlorate salts within the flow paths. Hydrated salts (which contain water in their molecular structure) are powerful evidence of evaporated brine, possibly from an underground reservoir.
You can read the full scientific paper at Nature Geoscience. The jury is still out on exactly how Mars might have gotten its liquid water, but this latest data should provide further clues.
Naturally, NASA released lots of very pretty pictures of the Martian surface to coincide with the announcement; check out this gallery of some of the most eye-popping images. You can find even more photos at NASA's site. Also savor this nifty animation:
For those pondering what it all means, the discovery brings us one step closer to possibly finding evidence of life on Mars '-- most likely weird microbial life, but life nonetheless. It also stokes the passions of would-be space travelers by raising the possibility that the red planet could be a viable habitat for a future human colony.
A few NASA scientists popped over to Reddit for an AMA to answer all those burning questions about exactly how much water we're talking about (more like a tap water leak than Niagara falls) and whether or not you could drink it (not a good idea). Here are some of the highlights.
All of this is especially exciting in light of the ongoing construction of NASA's next mission to Mars, the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight for short), which will study the interior structure of the planet:
''Exploring Mars' deep subsurface will shed light on how the planet has evolved geologically over time, but InSight could also offer clues about Earth's future and the evolution of rocky planets at large.... According to NASA, the technical capabilities of InSight represent a critical step toward a manned mission to the Red Planet, which the space agency hopes to ship off in the 2030s.''
You read that right: a manned mission to Mars, possibly even eventual colonization of the red planet. Some scientists think we might even be able to grow vegetables on Mars: the soil up there is capable of supporting plant germination. In fact, it might even be as good as some of the poorer soils here on Earth.
Ah, but not so fast. Paleofuture's Matt Novak interviewed JPL's legendary Gentry Lee back in 2012, who helped put two landers on Mars '-- plus two orbiters around it '-- a good 40 years before Curiosity. He's learned a few things from his years in the trenches. And for all his enthusiasm for exploring the red planet, Lee remains doubtful about a manned mission to Mars:
''I'm not against human spaceflight and I believe that once robots have done what they can do, if they have asked questions that only an interactive intelligence can answer it will be time to send human beings there. But the idea that a human mission to Mars is on the horizon just defies all logic. I see no national or international will that is long enough in perspective or vision '-- in other words, under the changing political climates around the world '-- to sustain such an activity at such an enormous cost.''
Here's hoping Lee's pessimism proves unfounded, and humanity finds the will to keep reaching for the stars. Until then, we can all flock to see The Martian this weekend.
Image: A still from Lujendra Ojha presentation of the data for NASA today, showing precisely where along the gullies the discovery was made, 2015.
caliphate jingle
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 21:00
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Volkswagen suspends Audi, Porsche, VW engineering chiefs; former CEO investigated | Autoweek
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 20:10
Neusser, Hackenberg and Hatz suspended in growing diesel scandalVolkswagen has suspended three top executives from the Audi, Porsche and VW brands in response to the diesel scandal, Automotive News Europe reports.
Audi development chief Ulrich Hackenberg, VW research and development boss Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, and Porsche development head Wolfgang Hatz are suspended. All three were rumored to have been slated for dismissal earlier last week, before the actual meeting of the VW board on Friday.
The Friday meeting of the board did not result in their dismissals, though it did result in the departure of Christian Klingler, VW sales and marketing chief, for reasons reported to be unrelated to the diesel crisis. The company also announced a new Volkswagen CEO on Friday of last week, with Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller taking over the job following the departure of Dr. Martin Winterkorn earlier in the week.
Reuters reports that all three suspended executives have denied that they knew about the illegal emissions-cheating software efforts. Sources last week reported that Volkswagen was getting closer to identifying the engineers who were responsible.
Dr. Neusser has been a member of the Board of Management for the Development Division of Volkswagen brand since 2013, and served as the head of VW Group powertrain development since 2012. Dr. Hackenberg has been a member of Volkswagen's Brand Board for Development since 2007 and has been a member of the Board of Management of Audi AG since 2013, overseeing Audi's technical development. Hatz has been a member of Porsche AG Board of Management in charge of Research and Development since 2011, and also the head of engine and transmission development for the entire Volkswagen Automotive Group.
The company did not assign responsibility for the emissions-cheating software on the three executives who were suspended and did not make any specific allegations against them.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that German authorities have launched an investigation into fraud allegations against Dr. Martin Winterkorn, formulating it as "allegations of fraud in the sale of cars with manipulated emissions data." The former CEO indicated that he was unaware of any wrongdoing on his part in resigning last week, and voiced his desire to give the company a fresh start.
Scoop: Narco-Dollars for Beginners
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:22
Narco-Dollars For BeginnersHow The Money Works In The Illicit Drug Tradea 13 Part SeriesBy Catherine Austin FittsFirst published by Narco News
Originally published in Narco News * click here forSpanish version
Richard Grasso, former Chairman of the NY Stock Exchange,greeting a Colombian FARC commander
"The recent departure of New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso makes this article, first published in 2001, very prescient, especially in the light of Mr. Grasso's trip to Colombia where he met FARC commanders responsible for providing security for narco-traffickers.Was Grasso making an in person sales call to negotiate with the drug cartel which was threatening to pull their investments from the stock exchange?That might be worth a $140 million pay package." '' Uri Dowbenko
Narco-Dollars For Dummies (Part 1)How The Money Works In The Illicit Drug TradePart 1 in a 13 Part SeriesBy Catherine Austin FittsOriginally published by NarcoNews
A Simple Framework:The Solari Index and the Dow Jones Index
The Solari Index is my way of estimating how well a place is doing. It is based upon the percentage of people in a place who believe that a child can leave their home and go to the nearest place to buy a popsicle and come home alone safely.
When I was a child growing up in the 1950's at 48th and Larchwood in West Philadelphia, the Solari Index was 100 percent. It was unthinkable that a child was not safe running up to the stores on Spruce Street for a popsicle and some pin ball. The Dow Jones was about 500, the Solari Index was 100 percent and our debt per person was very low. Of course I did not think about it that way at the time. All I knew was that life on the street with my buddies was sweet.
Today, the Dow Jones is over 9,000, debt per person is over $100,000 and my favorite hairdresser in Philadelphia ...[ click here for full text of article ]
How Zoe Quinn and Margaret Pless Tried Getting Mike Cernovich Swatted - Crime & Federalism
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:01
"doxing & hacking & SWATing tend to be a package deal." - Zoe Quinn
Several weeks ago I heard about an interesting case raising First Amendment issue. In that case, Zoe Quinn, an online agitator and professional panhandler sought to silence her ex-boyfriend for sharing his tale of emotional abuse.
Although relationship drama is nonsense I don't care about, something interesting happened. Zoe Quinn obtained a protective order against Eron Gjoni that prevented him from talking about her. At all.
The protective order seemed clearly unconstitutional. I obtained the court records to learn more. Since then my life has been permanently altered.
I have had:
The State Bar called on me.The police have been called on me.My home address and pictures of my home posted.Threats about hacking my site were made.False accusations that I have threatened women with rape were made.How Doxing Leads to Swatting.
Although it's easy to dismiss the campaign of harassment against me as drama, Zoe Quinn and her co-conspirator Margaret Pless, a graduate student in New York, upped the ante.
Margaret Pless posted pictures of my home address. Zoe Quinn, who had talked to Margaret Pless before posting the address, retweeted my home address and detailed pictures of my home to her over 30,000 Twitter followers.
Zoe Quinn knew of the dox in advance.
After retweeted that "best journalism" to her 30,000+ plus followers, Zoe Quinn backtracked. She claimed she had no idea Margaret Pless doxed me. This is a lie.
On October 21, Margaret Pless posted the following comment to a blog dedicated to cyberstalking me. The comment read:
"I'm preparing an article about Cernovich for my own site....I'm holding it because Zoe Quinn says she wants to talk to me."
Why did Zoe Quinn and Margaret Pless post pictures of my home as well as my home address?
What good reason exists for posting not only the exact address where I reside but also pictures of my home? There is a good reason.
Zoe Quinn and Margaret Pless were trying to get me Swatted.
Oh, sure, they will say, "No way!"
They will act as if they are precious little snowflake who would do such a thing. What do the experts have to say?
What is Swatting?
Wikipedia notes:
Swatting is the act of tricking an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing a 9-1-1 dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an on-going critical incident. Episodes range from large to small, from the deployment of bomb squads, SWAT units and other police units and the concurrent evacuations of schools and businesses to a single fabricated police report meant to discredit an individual as a prank or personal vendetta. While it is a misdemeanor or a felony in the USA in and of itself to report any untruth to law enforcement, swatting can cause massive disruption to the civil order and the public peace by the hoaxed deployment of police and other civic resources such as ambulances and fire departments. The term derives from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), a highly specialized type of police unit.
How do I know Zoe Quinn and Margaret Pless wanted to get me Swatted?
I was able to avoid the Swatting because I saw something far worse happened to a Los Angeles District Attorney who writes under the name "Patterico."
Patterico almost lost his life after a Swatting incident, and he began researching Swatting. His research revealed the following:
I met personally with the nationwide experts on swatting in December 2011: the FBI office in Dallas, Texas. They told me that swatting is an extreme form of harassment '-- and that swatters typically combine swatting with other forms of harassment, including: complaining to the victim's workplace, defaming the victim online, ''Googlebombing'' the victim, publishing the victim's address online, filing phony reports of criminal activity by the victim, and so forth.
Does that sound familiar? If not, let me refresh your memory:
Margaret Caroline Pless posted my information online. This included my personal home address as well as pictures of my home.
Zoe Quinn has encouraged her followers to report me to the State Bar, which is their only way to complain to my workplace, as I am self-employed.
Before publishing the article, Margaret Pless spoke to Zoe Quinn. ("I'm holding it because Zoe Quinn says she wants to talk to me.")
Zoe Quinn a/k/a Chelsea Van Valkenburg called this "good journalism," and shared my address and pictures of my home with her 30,000+ Twitter followers.
Margaret Pless encouraged her blog readers to call the LAPD on me, even though I have not committed any crimes.
Margaret Pless called the police on me.
Randi Harper, a drug addict who has been in jail, falsely accused me of making rape threats.
There has been a non-stop campaign of harassment against me, including calling me a stalker, harasser of women, and a rapist.
Zoe Quinn's harassment and doxing of me is verifiable.
The abuse I faced is real and verifiable.
Unlike the threats Zoe Quinn claims to have faced, I have been falsely accused of crimes and doxed by the actual account of Zoe Quinn, Margaret Pless, and Randi Harper.
This doesn't make me a helpless victim. It is what it is.
Yet when the media refuses to acknowlege that I have been a victim (by their standards) of harassment, doxing, and a potential Swatting, we know that there is a serious problem with ethics in journalism.
UPDATE: Zoe Quinn has all but confessed to trying to get Mike Cernovich Swatted.
On January 3, 2015, it seems Ms. Quinn's guilty conscience got the best of her. She published to her Twitter timeline: "doxing & hacking & SWATing tend to be a package deal."
As Ms. Quinn and Ms. Pless doxed Mike Cernovich, posting detailed images of his home and publishing that information to 30,000+ people, one doesn't need to draw too many inferences to conclude that their intent was to get Cernovich Swatted.
Before Ahmed's fame: fantastic inventions and a fight with authority | Dallas Morning News
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 14:49
LM Otero/The Associated Press
Ahmed Mohamed's intelligence shone through in the classroom, in robotics club, and in the homemade inventions he would often cram into his backpack.
If you want to know Ahmed Mohamed '-- not the hoax bomb suspect or the vindicated celebrity, but the motormouth kid with a schoolbag full of inventions and a head full of questions '-- ask a teacher.
Ask at Sam Houston Middle School, where the boy from Sudan mastered electronics and English, once built a remote control to prank the classroom projector and bragged of reciting his First Amendment rights in the principal's office.
It's also the school where Ahmed racked up weeks of suspensions, became convinced an administrator had it in for him and '-- before he left for the high school where he turned famous '-- prompted Irving ISD to review claims of anti-Muslim bullying.
If you want to know about the boy before the fame, ask Ralph Kubiak: Ahmed's seventh-grade history teacher and fellow outsider.
'Weird little kid'
''He was a weird little kid,'' said Kubiak, now 62 and retired. ''I saw a lot of him in me. That thirst for knowledge '... he's one of those kids that could either be CEO of a company or head of a gang.''
Kubiak didn't fit the mold either. To say he taught Ahmed Texas history in seventh grade would be to miss the point of what he calls his ''ministry for 12 years at Sam Houston: to make sure these children knew the truth about their rights.''
With a thick beard sprouting from a button-down shirt, Kubiak was the teacher who played Steppenwolf songs in class and segued from the textbooks into his personal memories of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.
He wanted his students '-- 4 out of 5 at Sam Houston are considered poor by the state '-- to question the world and its expectations of them. Not to let adults control them.
Ahmed was as good a disciple as anyone.
The boy showed up at the school in sixth grade with almost no English: bespectacled, small for his age and far from the continent where he was born. But a year later, sitting below the posters of black leaders in Kubiak's classroom, he could discuss similarities between Judaism, Christianity and his faith, Islam.
''He was secure enough in his religion to look at the other side,'' Kubiak said. The teacher remembered talking about the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, agreeing with Ahmed that they twisted Muslim scripture to control ignorant people.
''I said, 'Don't they read their own Quran?' Kubiak recalled. ''He said, 'A lot of folks don't.'''
Elaborate gizmos
Not that the preteen was a full-time philosopher. Another teacher remembered Ahmed after school: He and his friends would line up on opposite ends of a field, careen into each other at full speed, then get up and do it again.
But Ahmed's intelligence shone through in the classroom, in robotics club, and in the homemade inventions he would often cram into his backpack.
Some of his middle school teachers were surprised to hear that MacArthur High staff called police this month after Ahmed brought a homemade clock to class. He had dragged far more elaborate gizmos into Sam Houston all the time.
When a seemingly possessed projector kept shutting off midlecture, young boys' snickers surrounded Ahmed's desk, where he sat with a hand-built remote control in his lap.
When a tutor's cellphone went dead, Ahmed's jerry-rigged battery charger brought it back to life.
Some of these creations looked much like the infamous clock '-- a mess of wires and exposed circuits stuffed inside a hinged case, perhaps suspicious to some. But no one interviewed by The Dallas Morning News remembered Ahmed getting into trouble for bringing his creations to Sam Houston.
The boy found trouble other ways.
'He just went on and on'
It didn't take Ahmed long to learn fluent English. Once he did, he had a habit of overusing it '-- trying to impress classmates with a nonstop stream of chatter, teachers said, and often annoying them instead.
''I love him dearly, but sometimes it got to be a little much,'' Kubiak agreed. ''He just went on and on.''
Kubiak, who once went to school in Colonial pantaloons to promote the U.S. Constitution, said he chided Ahmed after hearing that the boy tried to get out of detention by reciting the First Amendment in the principal's office.
''That was genius, son,'' Kubiak recalled saying sarcastically. ''What did she do?''
''He said, 'She gave me Saturday detention.'''
Detention wasn't the worst of it. While his discipline record is confidential and his father didn't want to discuss it, the file was thick by some accounts.
Ahmed said he was suspended for several weeks in sixth grade. A family friend, Anthony Bond, said the boy and a cousin were blowing soap bubbles in the bathroom, and the school overreacted.
''Kids are kids,'' said Bond, who has known Ahmed since he enrolled at Sam Houston. ''He was a little boy in a new environment, and they were acting out.''
There was more trouble in seventh grade. Kubiak said he sent Ahmed's classwork to the district's reassignment center until he finished his punishment. ''He still ended up with an A in my class,'' he said.
By eighth grade, the young inventor was complaining of bullying '-- not just by students, but by staff.
In November, Bond wrote a letter to the superintendent, school board president and other officials, protesting that Ahmed had been suspended for defending himself during a hallway fight.
A larger boy had been choking Ahmed, Bond wrote. What's more: ''Ahmed also alleges that everyday, students in the school are calling him 'Bacon Boy and Sausage Boy and ISIS Boy.'''
Ahmed blamed an administrator at the school who, Bond wrote, the boy felt ''has been terrorizing him since the 6th grade'' '-- hindering him from praying in school and unfairly punishing him. The News is not naming the administrator because it has not yet been able to investigate Ahmed's complaints.
Bond's letter called the boy's treatment ''Muslim bashing'' '-- previewing outrage from people across the world after Ahmed blamed Islamophobia for his handcuffing this month.
Bertha Whatley, who was Irving ISD's attorney last year, said ''high-level'' officials at the district reviewed Bond's letter. Bond said the principal overturned the suspension after meeting with Ahmed.
Kubiak was no longer Ahmed's teacher in eighth grade, but he said the two still talked in the hallways nearly every day. Discussions of politics or religion sometimes turned to his resentment at the powers that be. ''His eyes were pretty watered up'' the day he told Kubiak he was being bullied, the teacher said.
''This kid was being pushed. At least he thought he was being pushed,'' Kubiak said. ''He's got a habit for attracting or being in situations '-- being on the outside.''
Ahmed wasn't the only one.
Kubiak, the eternal civil rights ideologue, was growing uncomfortable with Sam Houston's administration. He complained to the superintendent that the school was too quick to suspend children and said he refused to use a new student evaluation system that ''wrote some kids off.'' He was booted down to teach sixth grade last year '-- and he knew he was done.
''They didn't force me into retirement,'' Kubiak said. ''But I was damn sure glad to go.''
Ahmed and Kubiak never got to say goodbye on their last day at Sam Houston.
Staff rushed the students out the door before they could find each other, Ahmed recalled. He tried to email Kubiak later, but the district had already switched off the account.
A few months later '-- after a misunderstood clock and sudden fame interrupted his first month of high school '-- Ahmed wondered if his old teacher had noticed.
He grinned wide last week when a reporter told him that Kubiak had called.
Minutes later, the boy was on the phone with Kubiak, his bare feet dangling from an unmade bed. They spoke not of politics or religion, but of New York and Good Morning America. Of whether middle-school persecutors regretted it now.
''I told you one day I'm going to be '-- and you told me yourself '-- I'm going to be really big on the Internet one day,'' Ahmed said.
But privately, Kubiak worried about fame's effect on ''an immature, fertile mind.''
At Sam Houston, he said, he'd often warn his students ''to keep the adults out of it.''
''The adults have an agenda,'' he would say. ''The adults are using you.''
The day after Kubiak and Ahmed spoke, a public relations consultant walked into Ahmed's house with plans for a national tour: Google and California, the United Nations and Dr. Oz.
The next time Kubiak tried to reach the boy, he had to leave a voice mail.
He phoned again the next day and didn't hear back.
He's begun to suspect the adults have Ahmed at last.
Obama, Zuckerberg back out of scandal-plagued foundation gala | Washington Examiner
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 02:23
While many donors and political figures will attend the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) gala tonight, many prominent figures, like President Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elton John and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have reportedly passed up the event in favor of other activities.
The $2 billion affair in New York City titled "The Future of Impact" was intended to attract a star-studded guest list and celebrate the accomplishments of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. But instead the event appears to be representative of the respect the Clintons have lost this past year, as Hillary faces questioning about her private email server and the former president may have to step down from his role with CGI.
Obama, who has attended every CGI gala in the past, will skip for the first time this year, citing scheduling conflicts. Obama has yet to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary, and while he had history working with Clinton while she was his secretary of state, the two-term Vice President Joe Biden may jump into the race soon.
Additionally Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and French economist Thomas Piketty were both asked to deliver presentations on income inequality, but both declined, according to a Politico report. Hillary Clinton may lead a panel on economic opportunity for women, but since she has distanced herself from CGI's efforts since launching her campaign, her role will be otherwise minimal.
Numerous donors have dropped their sponsorship of the foundation recently, and it has become increasingly difficult for the CGI to raise money. The weekend will focus on bolstering those efforts, but at the hands of Chelsea Clinton, not her parents. The younger Clinton is slated to take the reins of the foundation as her mother steps back from her role during the campaign and her father's role is called into question.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are all scheduled to appear at the dinner this weekend.
Top Story
"I ... know that some of it is not real and you can create any reality that you want," she said.
'09/27/15 5:11 PM
Approximately 92% (or 99%) of USHCN surface temperature data consists of estimated values | Watts Up With That?
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 02:22
An analysis of the U.S. Historical Climatological Network (USHCN) shows that only about 8%-1% (depending on the stage of processing) of the data survives in the climate record as unaltered/estimated data.
Guest essay by John Goetz
A previous post showed that the adjustment models applied to the GHCN data produce estimated values for approximately 66% of the information supplied to consumers of the data, such as GISS. Because the US data is a relatively large contributor to the volume of GHCN data, this post looks at the effects of adjustment models on the USHCN data. The charts in this post use the data set downloaded at approximately 2:00 PM on 9/25/2015 from the USHCN FTP Site.
According to the USHCN V2.5 readme file: ''USHCN version 2.5 is now produced using the same processing system used for GHCN-Monthly version 3. This reprocessing consists of a construction process that assembles the USHCN version 2.5 monthly data in a specific source priority order (one that favors monthly data calculated directly from the latest version of GHCN-Daily), quality controls the data, identifies inhomogeneities and performs adjustments where possible.''
There are three important differences with the GHCN process. First, the USHCN process produces unique output that shows the time-of-observation (TOBs) estimate for each station. Second, USHCN will attempt to estimate values for missing data, a process referred to as infilling. Infilled data, however, is not used by GHCN. The third difference is that the homogenized data for the US stations produced by USHCN differs from the adjusted data for the same US stations produced by GHCN. My conjecture is that this is because the homogenization models for GHCN bring in data across national boundaries whereas those for USHCN do not. This requires further investigation.
Contribution of USHCN to GHCNIn the comments section of the previously referenced post, Tim Ball pointed out that USHCN contributes a disproportionate amount of data to the GHCN data set. The first chart below shows this contribution over time. Note that the US land area (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 6.62% of the total land area on Earth.
Percentage of Reporting GHCN Stations that are USHCN
How Much of the Data is Modeled?The following chart shows the amount of data that is available in the USHCN record for every month from January, 1880 to the present. The y-axis is the number of stations reporting data, so any point on the blue curve represents the number of measurements reported in the given month. In the chart, the red curve represents the number of months in which the monthly average was calculated from incomplete daily temperature records. USHCN will calculate a monthly average with up to nine days missing from the daily record, and flags the month with a lower-case letter, from ''a'' (1 day missing) to ''i'' (nine days missing). As can be seen from the curve, approximately 25% of the monthly values were calculated with some daily values missing. The apparently seasonal behavior of the red curve warrants further investigation.
Reporting USHCN Stations
The third chart shows the extent that the adjustment models affect the USHCN data. The blue curve again shows the amount of data that is available in the USHCN record for every month. The purple curve shows the number of measurements each month that are estimated due to TOBs. Approximately 91% of the USHCN has a TOBs estimate. The green curve shows the number of measurements each month that are estimated due to homogenization. This amounts to approximately 99% of the record. As mentioned earlier, the GHCN and USHCN estimates for US data differ. In the case of GHCN, approximately 92% of the US record is estimated.
The red curve is the amount of data that is discarded by a combination of homogenization and GHCN. Occasionally homogenization discards the original data outright and replaces it with an invalid temperature (-9999). More often it discards the data and replaces it with a value computed from surrounding stations. When that happens, the homogenized data is flagged with an ''E''. GHCN does not use values flagged in this manner, which is why they are included in the red curve as discarded.
Reporting USHCN Stations and Extent of Estimates
The next chart shows the three sets of data (TOBs, homogenized, discarded) as a percentage of total data reported.
Extent of USHCN Estimates as a Percentage of Reporting Stations
The Effect of the ModelsThe fifth chart shows the average change to the raw value due to the TOBs adjustment model replacing it with an estimated value. The curve includes all estimates, including the 9% of cases where the TOBs value is equal to the raw data value.
Change to Raw USHCN Value after TOB Estimate
The sixth chart shows the average change to the raw value due to the homogenization model. The curve includes all estimates, including the 1% of cases where the homogenized value is equal to the raw data value.
Change to Raw USHCN Value after Homogenization Estimate
Incomplete MonthsAs described earlier, USHCN will calculate a monthly average if up to nine days worth of data are missing. The following chart shows the percentage of months in the record that are incomplete (red curve) and the percentage of months that are retained after the adjustment models are applied (black curve). It is apparent that incomplete months are not often discarded.
Number of USHCN Monthly Averages Calculated with Incomplete Daily Records
The next chart shows the average number of days that were missing when the month's daily record was incomplete. After some volatility prior to 1900, the average incomplete month is missing approximately two days of data (6.5%).
Average Number of Days Missing from Incomplete USHCN Monthly Averages
A Word on InfillingThe USHCN models will produce estimates for some months that are missing, and occasionally replace a month entirely with an estimate if there are too many inhomogeneities. The last chart shows the frequency this occurred in the USHCN record. The blue curve shows the number of non-existent measurements that are estimated by the infilling process. The purple line shows the number of existing measurements that are discarded and replaced by the infilling process. Prior to 1920, the estimation of missing data was a frequent occurrence. Since then, the replacement of existing data has occurred more frequently than estimation of missing data.
Infilled data is not present in the GHCN adjustment estimates.
Amount of USHCN Infilling of Missing Data
ConclusionThe US accounts for 6.62% of the land area on Earth, but accounts for 39% of the data in the GHCN network. Overall, from 1880 to the present, approximately 99% of the temperature data in the USHCN homogenized output has been estimated (differs from the original raw data). Approximately 92% of the temperature data in the USHCN TOB output has been estimated. The GHCN adjustment models estimate approximately 92% of the US temperatures, but those estimates do not match either the USHCN TOB or homogenized estimates.
The homogenization estimate introduces a positive temperature trend of approximately 0.34 C per century relative to the USHCN raw data. The TOBs estimate introduces a positive temperature trend of approximately 0.16 C per century. These are not additive. The homogenization trend already accounts for the TOBs trend.
Note: A couple of minutes after publication, the subtitle was edited to be more accurate, reflecting a range of percentages in the data.
It should also be noted, that the U.S. Climate Reference Network, designed from the start to be free of the need for ANY adjustment of data, does not show any trend, as I highlighted in June 2015 in this article: Despite attempts to erase it globally, ''the pause'' still exists in pristine US surface temperature data
Here is the data plotted from that network:
Of course Tom Karl and Tom Peterson of NOAA/NCDC (now NCEI) never let this USCRN data see the light of day in a public press release or a State of the Climate report for media consumption, it is relegated to a backroom of their website mission and never mentioned. When it comes to claims about hottest year/month/day ever, instead, the highly adjusted, highly uncertain USHCN/GHCN data is what the public sees in these regular communications.
One wonders why NOAA NCDC/NCEI spent millions of dollars to create a state of the art climate network for the United States, and then never uses it to inform the public. Perhaps it might be because it doesn't give the result they want? '' Anthony Watts
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VIDEO-Kimmel: Pope Should Have Met with Kim Kardashian or Kim Jong-un Instead of Kim Davis | MRCTV
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:52
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel took time out of his opening monologue on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live to grumble over the news that Pope Francis secretly met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis last week during his visit to the U.S. and quip that it would have been better if he met with Kim Kardashian or murderous North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un instead.
Emphasizing that while the Pope may have returned to the Vatican, Kimmel started off by admitting that ''he's still giving us a lot to think about'' as he ''somehow carved out time to meet with Kim Davis.''
VIDEO-Miliband chides U.S. over Syrian refugee response | Reuters.com
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:17
International Rescue Committee president, David Miliband says the U.S. should resettle more Syrian refugees. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID MILIBAND, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE, SAYING: "So far, just over 1,800 Syrians have been admitted and with the greatest respect -- the respect of someone who is a visitor to your country even though I work here now but not yet a citizen -- I would say this 1,800 figure is not fitting for the global leadership role the United States has played over a very long period in refugee resettlement." The one-time British foreign secretary was scolding the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday...amid a European refugee crisis of unprecedented scale. Thousands continue to flood Europe's borders...by boat and on land...many fleeing Syria's violent civil war. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE, OMAR, SAYING: "I am very sad to leave my country, but it is the only choice I have." While Washington has pledged to take in 15,000 more refugees annually over the next two years... The plan has faced stiff opposition from Republican lawmakers, citing fears about terrorism. But it's opposition David Milliband seems determined to break down...by shaming the world's most powerful nation into doing more.
VIDEO-Air strike on Yemen wedding party kills over 130 | Reuters.com
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 12:56
The death toll from an air strike on a wedding party in Yemen has jumped to 131, medics said on Tuesday, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Yemen's war that drew strong condemnation from the U.N. secretary-general. Rob Muir reports.
It was an air-strike on a wedding reception..one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since Yemen's civil war began. More 130 people were reportedly killed. Residents of al-Wahija say two missiles smashed into tents hosting the wedding reception of a local man. They say he was affiliated with a Houthi group, Iranian-backed rebels currently fighting the Sunni-affiliated government in exile for control of the country. A Saudi-led Arab coalition that's been launching air-attacks on the Houthis since March, denies involvement in the wedding party attack. They say local militias may be responsible. Among the dead, were women and children...the latest casualties in a war that has claimed more than 4500 lives.
VIDEO-Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards | Video | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 04:27
September 29, 2015Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.'‚Republican'... read more
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.'‚Republican committee members criticized the non-profit organization that provides reproductive health and maternal and child health services for its use of government funding. close
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*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
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VIDEO-Rep. Jordan to Cecile Richards on Planned Parenthood Videos: Why Did You Apologize? | MRCTV
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 04:10
When asked which statements Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was referring to when she first issued an apology for the undercover video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and sale of aborted baby body parts, Richards said she felt it was "inappopriate to have a clinical discussion in a non-confidential, non-clinical setting."
VIDEO-Rep slams GOP Chairman on Planned Parenthood (VIDEO)
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:11
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VIDEO-Kim Davis lawyer claims Pope Francis met controversial clerk during DC visit | Fox News
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:53
Published September 30, 2015The lawyer for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed earlier this month after refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claimed Tuesday that Davis met with Pope Francis during the pontiff's visit to Washington D.C. last week.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican that the meeting took place.
Attorney Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel said in a statement that Pope Francis met Davis and her husband on September 24 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington. On that day, the pope spoke to a joint meeting of Congress before departing for New York later in the afternoon.
The statement did not say who initiated the meeting or how it came to be, though Staver did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Davis' situation while she was in jail. He declined to name them.
Davis was in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, where the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, presented her with an award for defying the federal judge.
Staver said Francis told Kim Davis in English, "Thank you for your courage" and told her to "stay strong." The pope then allegedly held out his hands and asked Davis to pray for him. Staver said Davis responded, "I will. Please pray for me", to which Francis responded that he would.
The statement then said the pope gave the couple two rosaries that he had personally blessed. Staver said Kim and Joe Davis would give the rosaries to her parents, both of whom are Catholic.
Davis has repeatedly refused to grant or authorize marriage licenses for same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court's ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Davis has said such marriages cannot be reconciled with her Apostolic Christian faith.
Francis touched on Davis' case during a press conference held aboard the papal plane while returning to Rome from Philadelphia, his last stop on the six-day, three-city U.S. tour.
Francis said he didn't know the case in detail, but he upheld conscientious objection as a human right.
"It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," Francis said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Olympic-Level Troll Hijacks HLN Segment on Edward Snowden to Defend Edward Scissorhands - YouTube
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:46
VIDEO-Leaked Audio: Hillary Clinton Calls at Private Fundraiser for Infrastructure Bank to Resemble Clinton Global Initiative - Washington Free Beacon
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:39
Exclusive: Union-backed project would be modeled on work of controversial nonprofit
Hillary Clinton / AP
BY:Alana Goodman and Lachlan MarkaySeptember 30, 2015 11:59 am
Hillary Clinton told donors at a private fundraiser in New York last Thursday that she plans as president to create a ''national infrastructure bank'' modeled on the Clinton Global Initiative, according to a recording of her remarks obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
This was the first time that Clinton, who has long supported the formation of a government-controlled bank to invest in national infrastructure projects, cited the Clinton Global Initiative'--the flagship arm of her family's controversial foundation'--as an investment model for her proposed bank.
Clinton said CGI's ''public-private'' partnership with labor unions has created tens of thousands of jobs, and argued that a federal infrastructure bank could take on this type of project.
''Think of what we can do on a national scale,'' said Clinton.
Clinton's plan for a national infrastructure bank dovetails with the financial interests of some of her most prominent supporters. Her comments could also give ammunition to critics who say that the Clintons' philanthropic operations, including CGI, have been plagued with conflicts of interest and financial mismanagement.
''I want to see if we can create what is called an infrastructure bank,'' said Clinton. ''It's like a revolving loan fund so we can take it out of to a great extent the annual fight over appropriations. If we can get it funded with a combination of public and private funds, we can do this.''
Clinton cited as an example a $15 billion project she said the Clinton Global Initiative is running with labor union pension funds to train people for ''clean energy work.''
''The Clinton Global Initiative that my husband started has a project with a lot of labor union pension funds. They have put $15 billion into a fund to train workers to be able to do energy efficiency and other clean energy work,'' said Clinton. ''Think of what we can do on a national scale. '... There is no doubt in my mind this is a win-win.''
The Clinton fundraiser was hosted at the Greenwich Village home of John Zaccaro, a convicted felon. Clinton did not take questions after her remarks, which is unusual for a prominent candidate at a closed-door fundraising event.
Clinton's campaign website says the proposal would ''leverage public and private capital to invest in critically important infrastructure projects, including energy infrastructure projects.''
Supporters of such a bank say it would help spur investment and job creation by letting the private sector invest in public projects. But the concept has also been criticized as a magnet for cronyism that could allow government officials to hand out loans to allies as political favors.
''The basic premise is if we throw enough public and private money into a bucket and then let private parties sort of draw on it to build better roads, the whole problem will sort itself out,'' said Adam J. White, counsel at Boyden Gray & Associates, a law firm that focuses on federal regulation. ''That strikes me at best a recipe for a failed transportation policy and at worst an opportunity for wasting billions of dollars.''
White said recent controversies over the green energy company Solyndra and the Export-Import bank also show the potential for ''favoritism, waste, politicalization.''
Clinton's plan could also be a windfall for some of her top financial supporters.
One likely beneficiary would be Robert Wolf, a Clinton donor and former bundler for the Obama campaign who previously chaired UBS Americas. Wolf runs the consulting firm 32 Advisors, which has contributed between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
The firm announced the formation of a new infrastructure practice in April to help clients obtain funding for infrastructure projects. It brought on Michael Likosky, an expert in infrastructure financing and government planning, to lead the practice. Likosky has also advised CGI on infrastructure projects, and billed himself in July as ''an Expert to the Clinton Initiative.''
Another donor that could benefit from a national infrastructure bank is Mary Scott Nabers, head of the consulting firm Strategic Partnerships, Inc. The firm helps clients to procure government contracts for public-private infrastructure projects. Nabers has contributed between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Labor unions, which represent a major voting bloc and well of financial support for Clinton, would also benefit significantly from a national infrastructure bank.
Union officials said they hoped that their project with CGI'--which was cited by Clinton at her recent fundraiser'--would help ''spur creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to spur subsidized bonds for public works projects,'' the Chicago Tribunereported in 2011.
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
VIDEO-Fraud claims follow Trump University - CNNPolitics.com
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:26
Story highlightsDonald Trump's Trump University was in business for five yearsThe New York attorney general called Trump University a scamThis type of positive messaging has attracted voters across the country, vaulting Donald Trump to the top of presidential primary polls.
More than a decade ago, Donald Trump launched another nationwide campaign with that same winning promise, but the results have been mixed and controversial.
He called it Trump University.
From 2005 until it closed in 2010, about 10,000 students across the nation signed up for the program that promised success in real estate by offering courses and seminars based on the principles of the business mogul himself.
"At Trump University, we teach success," Trump said in a 2005 infomercial when the program was launched. "That's what it's all about. Success. It's going to happen to you."
Now, Trump is facing three separate lawsuits -- two class action suits filed in California and one filed by New York's attorney general -- which argue the program that took in an estimated $40 million, but was mired in fraud and deception.
"We started looking at Trump University and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN's New Day after filing suit in 2013.
Schneiderman's case argues that Trump and Michael Sexton, the former president of the program, engaged in fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct, and that although the program promised to offer courses taught by experts personally selected by Trump, the teachers were neither handpicked nor experts.
Trump University's courses ranged from $1,495 three-day seminars to $35,000 "Gold" level programs that allowed for personal mentoring, real estate field trips and access to the expertise that made Trump a billionaire.
Affidavits within the case additionally show some students felt the program consisted of worthless information they could have obtained for free elsewhere. Others said they simply did not receive the services they paid for.
"I have not been able to get in touch with anyone after I signed up for the trump Gold Elite Program," student Kathleen Meese wrote in an affidavit.
Another enrollee, Michele Cintron, who paid $25,000 to have special access to high level mentors said in an affidavit that a "non-existent 'power team" was unable to be reached.
As for investing knowledge, student Maribel Paredes described Trump University in an affidavit as "a bad investment on my part."
CNN was unable to reach these former students for comment. Other former students who wrote affidavits for the lawsuits declined to be interviewed.
Trump: I've been 'a little childish'
Most of the students never met or laid eyes on Donald Trump, but representatives of the program, which is now called Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, say students were never promised they would meet Trump in person.
Trump's attorney Alan Garten said many students were satisfied with the courses and the lack of success of some should not be attributed to the program.
"All we can do is provide the tools for people to go out there and apply these things," Garten said. "I can't control what happens out in the real world. If someone goes and takes our classes and decides to sit on their couch and not apply them, I can't help that, OK?"
He added that Trump University should not be blamed for some enrollees having trouble selling real estate in the midst of the economic collapse of 2008.
Garten provided CNN with 14 affidavits from satisfied students and said those who complained about the program are a "miniscule" amount out of the approximate 10,000 who enrolled.
Garten said Trump will continue to fight each of the three lawsuits until he wins, even if legal fees outweigh the profits Trump earned from the courses.
The fight has carried on for more than five years, although Trump recently won an important victory. A California judge handed down a ruling which will make it harder for former students of Trump University to get any money back in damages, even if those students can eventually prove the courses were fraudulent.
"We're very confident we are going to win," Garten said.
Trump's tax plan carries big price tag
VIDEO-PP-EUGENICS-Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong | TED Talk | TED.com
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 03:42
Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend '-- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.
VIDEO-Listen: Warmist Thom Hartmann asks Skeptic: 'Why should you not be in jail?' 'You are killing people.' Blames skepticism for 'dead children' 'I am calling you a criminal' | Climate Depot
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:39
Nationally syndicated radio host Hartmann debated with CFACT Climate Skeptic Paul Driessen on September 21, 2015. The heading on Hartmann's website is 'Climate Change Deniers Should Be In Prison'
Hartmann to Driessen: 'You are paid to lie to people.'
'I am talking about racketeering, organized crime. I am calling you a criminal.'
Driessen talks of why he is skeptical and Hartmann responds: 'That's what you should be in jail for' - 'You are killing people.' - 'You have five million climate refugees.'
'Dead children -- you're responsibility.' - 'It's all the consequence of climate change.'
By: Marc Morano - Climate DepotSeptember 29, 2015 2:55 PM with 1 comment
VIDEO-Carl Icahn warns of another market crisis | Reuters.com
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VIDEO-Trump promises to simplify and streamline tax code | Reuters.com
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VIDEO-Former VW boss investigated for fraud | Reuters.com
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VIDEO-Charlize Theron addresses U.N. panel on AIDS | Reuters.com
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VIDEO-The Regime Change Alchemist George Soros Pushing for Major EU Policy Fixes Due to Refugee ''Crisis'' | American Everyman
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:11
John goes on to voice support for Soros' plan forcing EU nations to take in these refugees.
Mr. Soros' contribution to the globalist agenda website gives all of us unwashed masses a clear look into his plan to solve the ''crisis'' currently facing the EU.
Essentially, what Mr. Regime Change Billionaire says in his 6-point plan is that the EU and other Westernized nations have to accept a universal asylum program which will take from the various nations their right to determine who enters their nation and how while also suggesting all of those nations take out trillions of dollars in various forms of loans in order to pay for the relocation of these individuals.
And oh yeah'... he also says we should allow various corporations to become ''sponsors'' of these immigrants, ensuring they will all get an equitable piece of the cheap labor workforce.
First and foremost (after all the precious money of course, more on that later) Mr. Soros demands the EU adopt a universal asylum plan, run by some singular EU entity, which will determine how many ''refugees'' flood into each country and when.
The European Union needs to accept responsibility for the lack of a common asylum policy, which has transformed this year's growing influx of refugees from a manageable problem into yet another political crisis. Each member state has selfishly focused on its own interests, often acting against the interests of others. This precipitated panic among asylum seekers, the general public, and the authorities responsible for law and order. Asylum seekers have been the main victims.
The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way, and at a pace that reflects Europe's capacity to absorb them. To be comprehensive, the plan has to extend beyond the borders of Europe. It is less disruptive and much less expensive to maintain potential asylum-seekers in or close to their present location. Soros
When a man who has admittedly used migrant terrorists to undermine legitimate governments across the world starts calling for forced open-door policies across the EU (and the world mind you, more on that in a second) you had better stand up and take notice.
When it's already been proven that some of these ''refugees'' are our destabilization terrorists from the FSA and at least a third of them are trying to enter other nations with fake Syrian passports, you REALLY better stand up and take notice.
Soros' new world order plan for mandated asylum integration doesn't stop at the boundaries of the EU. He wants the plan to be run by the UN and forced on every nation on the planet.
Similarly, a European plan must be accompanied by a global response, under the authority of the United Nations and involving its member states. This would distribute the burden of the Syrian crisis over a larger number of states, while also establishing global standards for dealing with the problems of forced migration more generally. SorosNow remember, this plan doesn't involve simply delivering the new destabilization mercs (or slaves) to the doorstep of various countries and then just turning them loose. Oh no. There would have to be some form of international agency which would control how they were used, where they lived, where they worked and how they were getting along after being dropped off.
Imagine Russia being forced to accept 500,000 ''refugees'' from George Soros' NGO agency with their fake passports led by former FSA terrorists. And then imagine Soros and his ''Open'' Society foundation being able to dictate what they did once they were let loose in the country.
Anyone starting to understand the usefulness of this operation?
Let's continue.
Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, China, South Africa'... once you expand this ridiculous globalist framework past the borders of the EU, the possibilities for regime change via ''refugee crisis'' are endless, aren't they?
And remember, you don't have to have a billion FSA Wahhabist terrorists with fake Syrian passports for this to work on a global scale. Once your operatives are finished in one country, they simply become ''refugees'' again and get packaged up and sent on to the next project.
As for the real refugees, they are shipped around as what the neo-liberals like to call ''flexible work-forces'', essentially, stateless slaves to be brought into a country via a corporate 'sponsor' and obligated by the new international laws to work exclusively for them.
Finally, to absorb and integrate more than a million asylum seekers and migrants a year, the EU needs to mobilize the private sector '' NGOs, church groups, and businesses '' to act as sponsors. This will require not only sufficient funding, but also the human and IT capacity to match migrants and sponsors. SorosWow. First it was ''humanitarian intervention'' and now we are looking at the possibility of the birth of the ''humanitarian slave trade''
Gotta hand it to these fucks. They have absolutely no shame when they think the lights are turned down low enough.
You see, it's always the money with these guys. They can't help themselves. In the case of Mr. Soros' 6-point plan, his first deals with'... the money of course. He's calling for the creation of yet another slush-fund, this one totaling 16 billion dollars a year for the first two years (and of course it will grow to more money and be extended for more years). That money will be printed out of thin air by the various for-profit central banks of Europe and the United States, making sure the banksters lock us even further into debt while generating more and more profits for them.
Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide '‚¬15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs '' and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity, which will have the added benefit of providing a justified fiscal stimulus to the European economy. SorosLet's break that down a bit.
The corporate ''sponsors'' will get guaranteed free labor who wont have a chance at forming unions of course, which will be housed at state cost and provided healthcare at state cost. Which means they can pay them virtually nothing, vastly increasing the profit margins of these corporate ''sponsors''
The housing stipend will go to the developers making them rich.
The healthcare will go to privatized insurance companies which will do nothing for the refugees making them richer as well.
''Education''? Does Gordon Brown's global charter school system factor into this plan? Of course it does.
And that of course is to say nothing of the NGO that will be charged with handling the vast sums of slush-fund wealth prior to doling it out to the various nations (do you think the ''Open'' Society may have a bid in for that role?)
The longstanding terrorist regime change operation in Syria is drawing to a close.
Russia is going to be stepping in and the United States, Britain and France are already engaged in ''humanitarian'' bombing campaigns targeting key Syrian infrastructure across the country.
Our destabilization terrorists (moderate FSA ''activists'') have to flee before Putin wipes the floor with them.
So, faced with this reality, the masters of the universe asked themselves ''OK. Where do we send the next?'' and apparently a young, forward thinking suck-up in one of their think-tanks came up with the idea ''Why not everywhere?''
One pretext, one narrative, to rule them all.
The biggest hurdle to running regime change operations in unfriendly nations is recruiting. You don't always have neo-Nazis sitting around feeling depressed in targeted countries like Soros found in Ukraine.
You don't always have willing accomplices heading up the military of various nations like they found in Gen. al-Sisi in Egypt.
So often times, you have to import desperate, fanatical terrorists, like the Wahhabists we sent into Syria. Like al Qaeda we sent into Afghanistan. Like the Contras.
This plan of Soros' handles that issue. It forces targeted nations to accept a number of ''refugees'' without being able to fully vet their histories or backgrounds. It puts the decision of who is sent and where in the hands of a globalist, unaccountable entity. If you are foolish enough to believe that system isn't being designed by people like George Soros with regime change in mind, you're an idiot.
Soros does nothing to help the indigenous people of the world. His version of an ''open'' society is currently on display in places like Kosovo and Ukraine.
I certainly hope this new plan from the likes of George Soros helps people understand what this recent refugee ''crisis'' is all about. All the fake photos, all the hearts and minds stories, Merkel demanding Facebook censor unfavorable refugee posts'... they point to a concerted effort to mobilize the gullible masses on this issue and that in itself should be a rather unmistakable clue. Soros' plan just makes it obvious to those of us less oblivious to how the world really works.
Soros doesn't give a shit about the real Syrian refugees out there. And neither does the MSM for that matter.
So what do they care about?
Well, now you have your answer and it comes straight from the horse's mouth.
Trying to take this site to the next level via video production is taking a bit of time and effort and it's going to require some equipment I simply don't have the money to acquire at this time. If you can, please help with that process. Anything you can do will be appreciated. I'm putting off fixing my car in order to facilitate this process. I could certainly use your help. ThanksCLEARLY WE NEED INDEPENDENT MEDIANOW MORE THAT EVERPlease help keep us up and running if you can.Speaking truth ABOUT power since June 26, 2007(For my mailing address, please email me at RSCdesigns@tampabay.rr.com)
VIDEO-The President Speaks at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals | The White House
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:07
September 27, 2015 | 27:58 | Public Domain
President Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in New York City. September 27, 2015.
Download mp4 (1030MB) | mp3 (67MB)
VIDEO-Indian PM Modi to meet with Silicon Valley execs | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:05
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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)
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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-France launches air strikes against Islamic State in Syria | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:01
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VIDEO-Climate change: Why beef is the new SUV (Opinion) - CNN.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:57
Well, 1.27 pounds (0.58 kilos) of brisket, to be exact.
But before I get into the business of explaining where this meat came from, and why eating this stuff has a massive, unexpected effect on climate change, I feel the need to confess something: That huge slab of brisket, which came to me by way of Snow's BBQ, a delightful shack of a place out here in the heart of Texas beef country, easily was one of the most food-orgasm-y things I've tasted.
The phrase "OHMYGOD" dropped out of my mouth, involuntarily.
And I don't eat much meat.
A colleague of mine had a better line.
"I mean, f--- Al Gore, right?"
I write about climate change for a living and appreciate what the former U.S. vice president has done (or has tried to do, in his own wooden way) to raise awareness about what I consider to be one of the most critical issues facing the planet and people. But, in that moment, I had to laugh and agree with my co-worker.
Forget the climate.
This stuff was too good.
Here, take a look.
Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas, was rated the best barbecue in the state by Texas Monthly in 2008.
Daniel Vaughn, BBQ editor at Texas Monthly, and the No.1 carnivore I know -- this is a man who has developed white bumps on his tongue, apparently from failing to eat nonmeat food groups -- helped me dissect the meal. Note the salt-and-pepper "bark" at the edge of the meat, the red tree rings where the smoke that cooks the beef, slowly, overnight, has left its artistic mark. The cloudlike strips of beef were so tender locals insist you peel them apart with your fingers, not a fork and knife.
Knowing the beef's backstory only adds to the experience.
The barbecue "pitmaster" at Snow's is 80-year-old Norma Frances Tomanetz. White hair, red apron. Everyone calls her "Tootsie." Tootsie's shift starts at 9 p.m. and ends the next day after about 600 pounds of beef have been served. Her recipe is simple: salt and pepper. And, in addition to working here -- again, at age 80 -- she also serves as a middle-school custodian, helps manage a cattle ranch and takes care of two sick family members. (They could use your prayers, by the way.)
Texas beef people are lovably tough.
You want to root for them.
But there's "an inconvenient truth" about beef consumption, too, as I would discover on a trip through the supply chain of that meal: Beef is awful for the climate.
Don't blame me alone for bearing the bad news. In a Facebook poll, thousands of you overwhelmingly voted for me to report on meat's contribution to climate change as part of CNN's Two° series. You commissioned this highly personal topic over more widely feared climate change bad guys such as coal, deforestation and car pollution.
Cattle and climate?
They're not often used in the same sentence.
But eating beef, as I'll explain, has come to be seen, rightly, in certain enviro circles, as the new SUV -- a hopelessly selfish, American indulgence; a middle finger to the planet. It's not the main driver of global warming -- that's burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation -- but it does contribute significantly.
Globally, 14.5% of all greenhouse gas pollution can be attributed to livestock, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the most reputable authority on this topic. And a huge hunk of the livestock industry's role -- 65% -- comes from raising beef and dairy cattle.
Take a look at how beef compares with other foods.
The world is faced with the herculean task of trying to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, measured as an increase of global temperature since the start of the Industrial Revolution, when humans began burning fossil fuels. That's the point at which climate change is expected to get especially dangerous, leading to megadroughts, mass extinctions and a sea-level rise that could wipe low-lying countries off the map. That one little number -- 2 degrees -- is the subject of international negotiations in December in Paris, which are critical if we're to avert catastrophe.
We've already warmed the atmosphere 0.8 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution; and the World Bank says we're locked in to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming based on the pollution we've already put into the atmosphere.
It will be hard to meet the 2-degree goal no matter what; it will be impossible if livestock pollution isn't part of the mix, said Doug Boucher, a PhD ecologist and evolutionary biologist who is director of climate research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"We can't hit that goal without it," he told me.
In Texas, as in most places, however, no one seems too worried.
"Everybody here in Central Texas goes for beef," Tomanetz told me. "People are gonna eat what they wanna eat -- what their appetites call for."
Any vegetarians around?
None she's knows, personally.
"They won't eat their beef," she said with a grin, "so somebody else will."
70-mile mealIt wasn't long before I wished somebody else had.
The night after I ate at Snow's, it felt like a grapefruit was trying to climb out of my esophagus. I ate 0.61 pounds of the beef I was served, leaving 0.66 pounds of the stuff on my tray. I gave the leftovers to a guy at the hotel desk because I couldn't stand to look at it anymore. I felt so crazy-uncomfortable, so full.
The next morning, over a decidedly small, vegetarian breakfast, I calculated the climate change pollution associated with my massive meal. I did so with the help of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and from Anne Mottet, livestock policy officer at the FAO.
Result: Nearly 29 kilograms of CO2-equivalent gases.
O'Brien Meats in Taylor, Texas, supplies high-quality beef to Snow's BBQ.
From the atmosphere's perspective, that's about the same as burning enough fuel to drive an average American car 70 miles, or 113 kilometers.
A 70-mile meal.*
That's San Antonio to Austin, Texas.
Granted, this is a beyond-ridiculously-oversized portion of meat. And, depending on how you calculate beef's climate footprint (Mottet, from the FAO, provided me with her organization's estimate for beef cattle raised in feedlots in North America), you could arrive at very different results.
Regardless of the exact mileage, however, this is illustrative of an indisputable fact: Beef contributes to climate change in a substantial and outsize way.
Why is that the case?
And where does all of that pollution come from?
I went on the road to find out.
Where are you city slickers?First stop: I wanted to meet a cow like the one I ate at Snow's. And, as it turned out, I wouldn't need to travel far. Kerry Bexley, who opened Snow's BBQ with Tomanetz in 2003, owns a ranch nearby. Some of the cattle he raises may end up being smoked and served as brisket at the restaurant. Possibly even mine.
If only I could find Bexley and his ranch. I kept getting lost en route.
Where are you city slickers? he asked over the phone.
We're close!
I had no idea where we were.
We drove maybe 20 miles (an estimated 0.36 pounds of North American beef, in terms of the climate pollution) out of the way before arriving at the rolling green pasture where Bexley raises about 65 or so "momma and baby" cows for slaughter. These cattle chomped on tufts of grass, making hilariously bug-eyed faces while we talked.
Bexley is a gray-goateed guy with an endearing "King-of-the-Hill" twang in his voice. He doesn't think too much about climate change, but when he does he pictures factories and coal mines -- or highways packed with gas-belching cars.
"I would picture the industries -- the large industries," he told me. "A coal-fired power plant or a chemical plant. I think of larger areas, industrial areas."
Standing in the field, I found it hard to imagine, too.
There's a bizarrely satisfying explanation for that, though.
You don't see or hear the cattle burping.
'Cattle are very polite'If you want to talk about beef's contribution to climate change, you really have to talk about cow burps (and, to a lesser extent, farts).
Scientists don't love the b-word, though.
"We call it eructation," said Andy Cole, retired research leader at the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, nearly eight hours by car from Bexley's ranch. (To avoid that, I flew from Austin. I know, not exactly green of me.)
"Cattle are very polite," Cole told me. "They don't burp out loud."
My bad. Sorry, cows.
Regardless of verbiage, the focus for Cole and other scientists in Bushland is clear: They want to know how much climate-change pollution cows produce as part of their digestive process. I like to think of it as a Cow Burp Research Station.
Their work sounds silly, but it's vital for two reasons.
One: Cattle digest food differently than we do. They're ruminant animals, meaning they have multichamber stomachs where a whole bunch of bacteria hang out waiting to digest cellulose from the grass they eat. Humans -- like all other nonruminants -- can't digest grass. Cows, goats and sheep can, which is fairly incredible when you think about it. They're taking plant material that is hard to digest, and not particularly nutritious, and making food out of it. One byproduct of this magical digestive process, however, is methane. An average cow in North America, raised in a feedlot, belches out 117 pounds (53 kilograms) of this stuff per year, according to 2006 guidelines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Pigs and chickens don't do that.
And two: Methane is a superpotent greenhouse gas, with 25 times as much global warming potential as carbon dioxide, which is the main climate villain.
Understanding how and what we know about the climate-change emissions from beef is so important, because there's rampant misinformation on this topic. On one hand, you have activists who say, incorrectly, that eating meat, especially beef, is the main driver of climate change. It isn't. Fossil fuels are. (If you want to get into the weeds on that subject, take a look at this report in the journal Animal Feed Science and Technology. Oh, you don't subscribe?) Then, you have other environmentalists who claim beef shouldn't be a big part of the climate conversation -- since it will be impossible for the world to meet its climate targets if we don't get off fossil fuels pronto.
Without jumping into the fray, researchers out here in the Texas Panhandle are collecting data that helps clear things up. They use all sorts of curious, sci-fi methods to try to understand exactly how much methane is produced. They put cattle inside metal chambers, for example, to measure their burps; they have specialized feeding systems that track how much methane comes out of their nostrils while they're eating a treat; and Richard Todd, a research soil scientist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, is experimenting with lasers as a way to track methane emissions coming off the pastures where cattle are raised.
Todd has arranged these lasers -- "not the kind that will burn through steel or anything" -- in a crosshatch pattern over a field in the Texas Panhandle.
The near-infrared lasers are set to a frequency that detects methane.
Like all ruminant animals, cattle burp methane as they digest grass.
Others, I'm told, are doing similar work from airplanes and cell phone towers.
This invisible pollution adds up. According to the FAO, which bases some of its stats on work like this, 43% of global greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef cattle come from this "enteric fermentation" -- or methane burping.
Thinking back to my meal at Snow's, about 12.5 of the 29 kilograms of CO2-equivalent gases came from burping cows. Of the estimated 70 miles you could drive on that much climate-change pollution, about 30 of them come from cow burps.
It's the biggest part of beef's climate footprint.
'Beef Capital of the World'Snow's BBQ buys all of its meat from a wholesaler called O'Brien Meats in Taylor, Texas. Outside, there's a life-size statue of a cow stuck to the front, like a mermaid on a pirate ship. Inside, I met lab-coat wearing butchers who trim slabs of brisket for Bexley's exacting specifications. You might think that transporting and refrigerating beef would be a big part of its contribution to climate change. But for all the talk of "food miles," processing, refrigeration and transit-related emissions from beef production only account for 8% of its footprint, according to the FAO.
To use the miles analogy again, that's only 5.6 of 70 miles.
Andy O'Brien, who runs the place, told me most of the meat he sells to Bexley likely comes from a feedlot in the Texas Panhandle, possibly in Hereford, Texas, the self-described "Beef Capital of the World," about 475 miles northwest of the meat shop in Taylor.
So that's where I went next.
Warren White, the cowboy-hat-and-jeans-wearing manager of Mc6 Cattle Feeders, a feedlot in Hereford, agreed to give me a tour.
The first thing you notice about being anywhere near Hereford is the smell: the sweet-earthy stench of cow manure, strong enough to stick to your shoes.
The smell, though, offers only a hint of how many cattle really are hanging out in this board-flat part of the country. At the Mc6 feedlot alone, the capacity is 55,000 head of cattle. Jayce Winters, spokeswoman for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, told me 3 million cattle live within a 150-mile (241-kilometer) radius of nearby Amarillo at any given time.
More ruminant animals means more methane burps, of course. And more poop. About 5% of the emissions associated with beef, the FAO says, come from "manure storage and management."
Walking around a feedlot can ping the this-seems-wrong center of your brain. The cattle are organized in numbered pens that seem to stretch to the horizon. Each animal has a number clipped to its ear, making the cattle look like some sort of now-defunct motorcycle gang. They poop and pee all over the place, sometimes while looking you right in the eye.
Feedlots, which are where more than nine in 10 cattle in the United States spend part of their lives, are bemoaned by many environmentalists and animal rights activists for being allegedly cruel and for their contributions to water and air pollution.
But, when it comes to the climate, feedlot ethics are anything but simple.
That's because, according to some studies, feedlots actually are the most efficient way to raise beef cattle. This is logical when you think about it, and all comes back to what they're eating and how long it takes the cattle to grow to "slaughter weight."
In a feedlot, cattle eat corn, not grass.
So they don't produce as much methane.
Plus, they're fattened up quickly, then killed.
So, cynically, that means there's less time for them to pollute.
That's partly why the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association claims this country produces the "world's most sustainable beef."
But to fully understand feedlots, you also need to understand the feed.
'Just like Corn Flakes'White, the manager of Mc6 Cattle Feeders, walked me to the one part of his feedlot that smells, surprisingly, less like cow s--- and more like cereal.
Tons of corn roared out of a grain elevator, landing in a massive heap.
White picked up some of the stuff and sifted it around in his hand.
It was still warm from on-site processing.
"If you add sugar and milk, it'd be just like Corn Flakes," he said.
At capacity, the cattle here consume 1.5 million pounds of the stuff per day.
Where does it come from?
Somewhere in the Midwest, he told me.
The "somewhere" I visited on the final stop on this beef-climate odyssey was Auburn, Illinois. That's where I found Garry Niemeyer, a corn and soybean farmer, and former president of the National Corn Growers Association, who told me he sells most of his corn to feedlots such as White's in Hereford, Texas. (Some of it, he said, is used to produce ethanol and then byproduct of that becomes food for cattle.)
I met him on the first day of harvest: September 8.
Niemeyer and I rode in an air-conditioned tractor while enormous red "combine" machines started the several-day process of mowing through his rows of corn. These machines are incredible up close: They not only snap the corn stalks, they remove the ears of corn -- each stalk has only one -- and almost-instantly strip the school-bus-yellow kernels of corn off the dimpled cobs, and toss the cobs aside.
It's not the harvest that creates the most climate pollution here, however.
It's the fertilizer.
The fertilizer farmers apply to corn -- which feeds many cattle -- also contributes to climate change.
Niemeyer told me he "applies" 0.79 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per bushel of corn. Some of that is "knifed" into the ground with giant farm equipment, and other times it's sprinkled on the surface of the land. Some of it is liquid, some of it is solid pellets. Fertilizer is expensive stuff, and Niemeyer uses less than he used to -- down from 1.2 pounds per bushel in the 1990s, he told me, proudly noting that this reduces pollution in a nearby lake and the Gulf of Mexico, which suffers an oxygen-dead zone in the summer because of excessive fertilizer runoff.
But it's still a huge amount. And one unwanted offshoot of all this fertilizer use -- and something people out here aren't thinking much about -- is nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide is kind of the ultimate greenhouse gas.
About 300 times as powerful as CO2.
Largely because of fertilizer, producing food such as corn for beef cattle accounts for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions from beef and dairy, according to the FAO.
When it comes to beef, it's second only to burps.
And growing food for our food takes a wider environmental toll.
About 70% of this planet's agricultural land is used for livestock production, according to a 2006 report from the FAO. And in total, 30% of all terrestrial land on Earth -- all of it! -- is used for livestock.
These are truly astounding figures.
True, some of that land is well suited for cattle grazing. "Eighty-five percent of the land we produce cattle on in the United States isn't suitable for other food production," said Daren Williams, spokesman for the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "You can't turn the Flint Hills of Kansas into spinach fields."
"The argument that we should stop raising ruminant animals on land that is made for ruminant animals is frankly nonsense," he added. "We'd be taking vast amounts of land out of food production at a time when we need more not less" because of population growth.
These land-use choices do matter, though.
Internationally, for example, rainforests very often are cleared to make room for beef cattle. In the Amazon, cattle production accounts for an estimated 50% to 80% of all deforestation, according to Boucher from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Deforestation is one of the reasons beef from Latin America and the Caribbean is among the worst, per pound, in terms of its effect on climate change. (Europe, North America, Russia and Australia are among the more-efficient beef producers, according to the FAO.)
"Cutting down forests means you're cutting down trees, and half of the tree is carbon," said Boucher. "When you burn it or let it rot, that produces carbon dioxide."
Carbon dioxide, of course, is a heat-trapping gas.
These so-called "land use changes" make up 15% of beef's overall contribution to climate change.
'Meth corn'In Illinois, I watched cornfields zip by the window as Sean Bolton (spelled "like Michael Bolton," he told me) drove a truck full of Niemeyer's just-harvested corn down the highway to a towering grain elevator for storage. We could see a blue-gray rainstorm mounting on the horizon as we approached the drop-off.
Bolton is 43 and has spent his life doing odd jobs here and there, driving trucks, installing office cubicles -- you name it. Lived all over: Texas, Phoenix, New Jersey, Idaho, Germany, Nebraska. He doesn't look past flaws in the corn industry.
"It's like meth corn, I guess you could say," he told me.
Meaning: This corn is grown with so much anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer that's also an ingredient in methamphetamine ("You ever seen 'Breaking Bad?'" he asked), that you could compare it to an illicit drug. He sees this as somehow unnatural, which is a claim Niemeyer and others dispute, noting that technology and fertilizer have helped make corn much more resource-efficient.
But what about climate change?
Is Bolton concerned about that?
"I think climate change is a government scare tactic," he said.
Here's the thing, though: Whether he accepts climate science or not (the climate is changing, and we are to blame, as 97% of climate scientists agree), and whether he cares about beef's contribution to climate change or not, Bolton is eating less beef.
"Me and the wife eat a lot of chicken and pork these last few years," he told me.
"Because the price of steak has just skyrocketed."
"We splurge every now and then," he said, "but I'm not a billionaire, by any means."
Bolton isn't alone.
While the United States is one of the top meat-consuming countries, per capita, our rate of beef consumption actually has been leveling off for a decade or so. Take a look at the trend line.
Chalk that up both to increasing prices and greater awareness.
Beef now is seen as carrying a host of health, and, increasingly, environmental costs.
But consumption is going up internationally, and the trend in the United States is not yet pronounced enough to breathe a sigh of relief. The FAO expects meat consumption to increase 73% by 2050, which could be disastrous for the climate. It's true there are some parts of the world where iron levels are low and where more meat consumption actually would be healthy and would combat malnutrition. But for the industrialized world, meat consumption already is seen by many as unhealthily high.
There may be ways to use technology to make beef production more climate-efficient. Scientists are working on new types of cattle feed that will make cows less gassy and therefore less harmful to the climactic system. Researchers in Argentina have experimented with putting backpacks on cattle, using them as tanks to trap the methane they're burping. And, in the long term, other scientists, like those at Modern Meadow, are trying to engineer meat from cell "cultures," in hopes of minimizing ethical and environmental concerns about beef production.
The mainstream industry also says it's making changes.
"Are we perfect? Absolutely not," said Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, a PhD animal biologist who is executive director of global sustainability at the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association, an industry group. "But I think that this is an industry that gets very excited about continuous improvement. And sustainability is something that they hold very near and dear. It's very personal. They are the original stewards of the land."
The beef industry in the United States reduced its climate emissions by 2% between 2005 and 2011, she told me, with much of that improvement coming from better packaging, with less plastic, better corn yields and faster-growing animals. Cutting back on food waste, Stackhouse-Lawson said, also would further reduce emissions from the livestock industry.
The FAO, for its part, estimates that using local "best practices" for livestock production could reduce the sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 30% globally.
That's not insignificant.
But it's likely not as effective -- or immediate -- as cutting back on beef.
'Climate carnivore'Climate change is a numbers game.
If we want to meet the goal of stopping warming short of 2 degrees -- which is of the utmost importance -- we have to cut back on pollution of all types.
Fossil fuels must be the central part of these efforts.
But beef, too, can be seen as essential.
A 2014 study published in the journal Climatic Change makes this clear. If current meat-consumption trends continue, agricultural pollution will amount to 12 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent gases per year by 2050, the study's authors find. That amount of pollution alone could help put us on a path to whiz right by the 2-degree target, they write.
With new (but expensive) technology, we might get to 8.3 billion tonnes.
Better, but still not safe.
Dietary changes would get us much further.
If the world adopted a "climate carnivore" diet, in addition to the technology, for example, then agricultural emissions would drop to 4.9 billion tonnes in 2050.
The authors define a "climate carnivore" as someone who replaces three-quarters of beef, ruminant and dairy meals with chicken or other nonmethane burping animals.
I think of this as the Chick-fil-A approach.
More chicken, less beef.
Going for a "flexitarian" diet -- replacing three-quarters of beef or lamb meals with vegetables and other sources of protein that aren't meat and dairy -- goes further still, generating only 3.1 billion tonnes of agricultural pollution per year.
Either way, "if you want to be certain to reach the 2-degree target, we have to reduce beef consumption," said Fredrik Hedenus, associate professor of energy and environment at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and the lead author of the report on beef's contribution to climate change.
Other studies have shown fully vegetarian and vegan diets are, in fact, the most climate-friendly. Think about it: Vegetables are lower on the food chain, and therefore require fewer resources to produce. We don't have to raise food for our vegetables to eat; we do raise corn for cows. Those of you who go vegan or veggie should know that the climate thanks you.
But moderate dietary changes would help us hit the 2-degree target, too.
It wouldn't be so hard to become a "climate carnivore."
If I'd ordered 1.27 pounds of whole chicken at Snow's BBQ, instead of beef, for example, I would have created climate pollution equivalent to driving 6.5 miles, not 70, according to a calculation using data provided by Anne Mottet, a livestock researcher at the FAO.
I understand these choices likely would have real, and unwelcome, effects on the beef industry. I'm torn about that, honestly, since I respect the people who helped produce the brisket I ate in Texas. I don't blame them directly for the emissions associated with their trade. But I've also stood on the shores of the Marshall Islands, which scientists say may no longer exist if seas rise as much as would be reasonably expected at 2 degrees Celsius of warming. Climate change, as Pope Francis and others have argued, will hurt the poor and vulnerable most. We all should do our part to help cut emissions. It's a moral imperative. And while I can't ensure, on my own, that my electricity comes from 100% renewable sources, I can decide what to eat.
Our diets are a rare chance for us to take control of our climate footprints, as researchers explained to me. We don't need governments or utilities to help.
Apathy is all that stands in the way.
Two° challenge: Submit a 'climate carnivore' recipe
I'd like to think people would try to reduce their climate footprints out of the goodness of their hearts, but incentives could provide a needed push. Perhaps boosting the price of beef should be considered. That worked on Sean Bolton, the truck driver in corn country. The European Union puts a price on carbon pollution from cars, for example, but doesn't apply those levies to beef and lamb, the carbon-heavy foods. Labeling should be up for discussion, too. I'd want to know, for example, how many pounds of CO2 are associated with steak versus fish. And if I saw that info in the grocery store, it might alter my choices.
Whatever gets us there, those of us in the industrialized world -- where meat consumption levels already are too high for our health, for the environment and for the climate -- need to start thinking of meat, and particularly beef, as a rare treat.
Not an every-day or every-meal sort of thing.
'Tender love and care'Strangely enough, this is something I could have learned back at the start of my journey, at Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas. It's likely unintentional, but a "climate carnivore" sensibility is baked into the way the place does business.
That's because Snow's BBQ is only open one day per week.
And for one meal.
Which is basically breakfast.
Aside from special events, Snow's BBQ is open only on Saturday morning.
Tomanetz, the 80-year-old pitmaster, beamed when she told me her restaurant was named the best BBQ place in Texas in 2008. "It takes a lot of tender love and care to prepare a brisket that's so well liked by so many people," she said.
So, to recap, this is meat that available only once per week.
You have to drive to the middle of nowhere to get it.
And it's some of the best in the world.
In other words: the definition of a treat.
Afterward, if you're me, you're so freaking full you never want to eat beef again.
I have to think that if more of us went on the Snow's diet -- the once-a-week, beef-as-treat diet -- we'd actually be OK. We need to wean ourselves from our addiction to fossil fuels, too, of course. Reducing beef consumption, alone, won't fix climate change.
But it would help ensure we hit the 2-degree target.
If you do go to Snow's, give Tomanetz a hug for me.
And, a word of advice: Order a smaller plate.
More than a pound of anything is way too much.
That's especially true for beef.
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*Math behind the 70-mile meal: Here's how I calculated 1.27 pounds of beef produces the same amount of carbon-dioxide-equivalent pollution as burning enough gasoline to drive 70 miles. According to the FAO's Anne Mottet, eating North American beef, raised in a feedlot, produces about 50 kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of edible beef (it's 35.2 kg CO2e per kg of carcass weight). I converted my 1.27 pound meal into kilograms: 0.576. And then multiplied that by 50 to find that my meal produced about 28.8 kg of CO2e emissions. The U.S. EPA says 0.411 kg of CO2e are emitted per mile driven in a standard American car. (To get that figure, the EPA assumes the car has a fuel efficiency of 21.6 miles per gallon.) So, if you divide 28.8 by 0.411, you get my answer: about 70 miles. Note that this figure does not account for all carbon emissions associated with the lifecycle of a car, only the emissions associated with burning fuel to drive 70 miles. By using different estimates for how much CO2e is associated with a kilogram of beef, and including or excluding different aspects of production, you could arrive at very different mileages. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, the PhD animal biologist at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, for example, told me the FAO numbers sound "high," but not unreasonable. The crucial point is emissions associated with beef production are far higher, per unit, than those associated with chicken, pork or vegetables.
VIDEO-The Martian and Nasa '' a coincidence too good to be true? | Film | The Guardian
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:14
Show me the way to go home ... Matt Damon in The Martian. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox
It could hardly have come at a more spookily appropriate time: just when film-fans and the media are getting excited about the entertaining new sci-fi movie The Martian, about a troubled Nasa mission to Mars, released this week in the UK and the US. Matt Damon's lovely chops in his space-helmet are all over the airwaves and the billboards, promoting a film with which Nasa has cooperated, with generous use of their branding. And now Nasa itself has chosen this moment to get us all excited about some news about the red planet.
They've offered an answer to David Bowie's famous question about whether there is life on Mars. Well '... yes! Or rather '... not exactly! But there is water. Water that could sustain life! Possibly! Nasa has now revealed that there is evidence of stain-marks on Mars's canyons and crater-walls: water is trickling downhill before drying up in the valleys and plains. The water flows could lead Nasa or another country's space agency to potential sites where life on Mars could be found.
The Martian trailer: Matt Damon makes Mars homeExciting stuff. You would have to be a very dull and earthbound sort of person not to be intrigued by this. But as our science editor Ian Sample points out, discovering residual evidence of water on Mars is not exactly new. Pictures beamed back to Earth way back in the 1970s showed evidence of dried-up rivers once submerged beneath ancient lakes and Nasa's probes are always discovering circumstantial evidence of water on Mars. Ten years ago, its Mars Global Surveyor probe sent back pictures of what may have been water bursting through a gully, and four years ago Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter camera captured images of what appeared to be streams flowing down crater walls.
Of course, perhaps only a cynic would say that Nasa has to keep alive in all our hearts the romance and glory of space travel to stay in tax-funded existence, and so the possibility of water on Mars is an article of faith. And if there is an entertaining movie about a Nasa mission to Mars, which at certain points is almost a feature-length ad for Nasa '... well why not time your latest announcement to coincide with its release? To coin a phrase: it isn't rocket science.
Related:The Martian review - Ridley Scott's playful sci-fi runs out of fuel before reaching home
When I heard about the news from Nasa, I put on my DVD edition of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey which, among its extra features, includes a film of the promotional speech given at the time by Arthur C Clarke, who wrote the story on which the film was based. To uproarious laughter from his audience, Clarke revealed that the Apollo management committee had rescheduled an official meeting so that they could get to the premiere.
And then Clarke revealed something truly staggering. Here is what he said: ''As you know in the last few weeks, there has been this tremendous excitement among the astronomers over the extraordinarily precise and rhythmic radio impulses coming from a point between Vega and Altair [that is, two of the stars in the 'summer triangle' formation, respectively in the Lyra and Aquila constellations] which may yet turn out to have a natural explanation, but its periodicity and characteristics are so extraordinary that no explanation as yet seems very feasible. Sooner or later we expect we will receive proof that other intelligence exists in this universe.''
Oh my God! Just as 2001: A Space Odyssey was coming out '... space aliens were trying to make contact! With beeping radio signals! Weren't they? It must have been huge news at the time. It must have boosted ticket sales for 2001. Why has this mindblowing event been forgotten? Perhaps, after all the excitement died down, scientists did indeed discover a ''natural explanation'' of the sort Clarke warily acknowledged, and everyone dropped the matter.
Well, never mind. If Nasa scientists and film-makers and their respective PR teams can find a common interest, why not? Cinema flourishes, and who knows? Maybe there is water on Mars '' and much else besides.
VIDEO-Elizabeth Warren just delivered the defense of Black Lives Matter other politicians won't - Vox
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:12
Liberal champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Sunday delivered a stirring defense of Black Lives Matter, characterizing it as a modern and necessary civil rights movement.
The full-throated defense of the movement contrasted with comments from other national politicians, whose remarks on Black Lives Matter have ranged from cautious to missing the point '-- like when Martin O'Malley said that "all lives matter."
One of the most powerful moments in the speech came when Warren criticized opponents of Black Lives Matter, who say the movement to end racial disparities in the criminal justice system is inciting violence. "Watch them when they march through the streets '-- 'hands up, don't shoot' '-- not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives," she said at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. "To fight for their lives."
Warren: It goes even deeper than criminal justice disparitiesWarren's remarks went further than the disparities in the criminal justice system, speaking to voting rights, economic inequality, housing discrimination, and predatory banking practices:
Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed '-- voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process. '...
Today, 90 percent of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3 percent '-- more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009, the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.
Ultimately, Warren called for various policies to help bring down these disparities '-- from police-worn body cameras that would help hold officers accountable to steps that would make voting simpler and easier, such as automatic voter registration and making Election Day a holiday.
Warren on why "it is important to cause necessary trouble"Warren finished her speech with a powerful anecdote, characterizing Black Lives Matter as a continuation of the civil rights struggles of more than 50 years ago:
Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and doughnuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier '-- in May of 1961 '-- he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The attorney general promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the US Army would arrive in time.
After the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the attorney general. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn't make it in time. He said that he was "never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear." And then he said something I'll never forget. He said that his parents didn't want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn't want him to "cause trouble." But he had done it anyway. He told me, "Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble."
Read the full speechThank you. I'm grateful to be here at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. This place is a fitting tribute to our champion, Ted Kennedy. A man of courage, compassion, and commitment, who taught us what public service is all about. Not a day goes by that we don't miss his passion, his enthusiasm, and '-- most of all '-- his dedication to all of our working families.
As the senior senator from Massachusetts, I have the great honor of sitting at Sen. Kennedy's desk '-- right over there. The original, back in Washington, is a little more dented and scratched, but it has something very special in the drawer. Ted Kennedy carved his name in it. When I sit at my desk, sometimes when I'm waiting to speak or to vote, I open the drawer and run my thumb across his name. It reminds me of the high expectations of the people of Massachusetts, and I try, every day, to live up to the legacy he left behind.
Sen. Kennedy took office just over 50 years ago, in the midst of one of the great moral and political debates in American history '-- the debate over the Civil Rights Act. In his first speech on the floor of the Senate, just four months after his brother's assassination, he stood up to support equal rights for all Americans. He ended that speech with a powerful personal message about what the civil rights struggle meant to the late President Kennedy:
His heart and soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.
"We should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace." That's what I'd like to talk about today.
A half-century ago, when Sen. Kennedy spoke of the Civil Rights Act, entrenched, racist power did everything it could to sustain oppression of African Americans, and violence was its first tool. Lynchings, terrorism, intimidation. The 16th Street Baptist Church. Medgar Evers. Emmett Till. When Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood before the nation and declared during his 1963 inaugural address that he would defend "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever," he made clear that the state would stand with those who used violence.
But violence was not the only tool. African Americans were effectively stripped of citizenship when they were denied the right to vote. The tools varied '-- literacy tests, poll taxes, moral character tests, grandfather clauses '-- but the results were the same. They were denied basic rights of citizenship and the chance to participate in self-government.
The third tool of oppression was to deliberately deny millions of African Americans economic opportunities solely because of the color of their skin.
I have often spoken about how America built a great middle class. Coming out of the Great Depression, from the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up for most Americans. But there's a dark underbelly to that story. While median family income in America was growing '-- for both white and African-American families '-- African-American incomes were only a fraction of white incomes. In the mid-1950s, the median income for African-American families was just a little more than half the income of white families.
And the problem went beyond just income. Look at housing: For most middle class families in America, buying a home is the number one way to build wealth. It's a retirement plan '-- pay off the house and live on Social Security. An investment option '-- mortgage the house to start a business. It's a way to help the kids get through college, a safety net if someone gets really sick, and, if all goes well and Grandma and Grandpa can hang on to the house until they die, it's a way to give the next generation a boost '-- extra money to move the family up the ladder.
For much of the 20th century, that's how it worked for generation after generation of white Americans '-- but not black Americans. Entire legal structures were created to prevent African Americans from building economic security through home ownership. Legally-enforced segregation. Restrictive deeds. Redlining. Land contracts. Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class, but systematic discrimination kept most African-American families from being part of it.
State-sanctioned discrimination wasn't limited to home ownership. The government enforced discrimination in public accommodations, discrimination in schools, discrimination in credit '-- it was a long and spiteful list.
Economic justice is not '-- and has never been '-- sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won't stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won't prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, "the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice."
The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found '-- against violence, against the denial of voting rights, and against economic injustice.
The battles were bitter and sometimes deadly. Fire hoses turned on peaceful protestors. Police officers setting their dogs to attack black students. Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. But the civil rights movement pushed this country in a new direction. The federal government cracked down on state-sponsored violence. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all called out the National Guard, and, in doing so, declared that everyone had a right to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress protected the rights of all citizens to vote with the Voting Rights Act.
And economic opportunities opened up when Congress passed civil rights laws that protected equal access to employment, public accommodations, and housing.
In the same way that the tools of oppression were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came together to protect black people from violence, to ensure access to the ballot box, and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter.
Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom '-- but we have not made enough progress.
Fifty years later, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know '-- and say '-- the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. We've seen sickening videos of unarmed black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air '-- their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protestors have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets. And it's not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church. We must be honest: Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed '-- voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process.
Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth. But then, Republicans' trickle-down economic theory arrived. Just as this country was taking the first steps toward economic justice, the Republicans pushed a theory that meant helping the richest people and the most powerful corporations get richer and more powerful. I'll just do one statistic on this: From 1980 to 2012, GDP continued to rise, but how much of the income growth went to the 90 percent of America '-- everyone outside the top 10 percent '-- black, white, Latino? None. Zero. Nothing. 100 percent of all the new income produced in this country over the past 30 years has gone to the top 10 percent.
Today, 90 percent of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3 percent '-- more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009 the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.
The 2008 housing collapse destroyed trillions in family wealth across the country, but the crash hit African Americans like a punch in the gut. Because middle-class black families' wealth was disproportionately tied up in home ownership and not other forms of savings, these families were hit harder by the housing collapse. But they also got hit harder because of discriminatory lending practices '-- yes, discriminatory lending practices in the 21st century. Recently several big banks and other mortgage lenders paid hundreds of millions in fines, admitting that they illegally steered black and Latino borrowers into more expensive mortgages than white borrowers who had similar credit. Tom Perez, who at the time was the assistant attorney general for civil rights, called it a "racial surtax." And it's still happening '-- earlier this month, the National Fair Housing Alliance filed a discrimination complaint against real estate agents in Mississippi after an investigation showed those agents consistently steering white buyers away from interracial neighborhoods and black buyers away from affluent ones. Another investigation showed similar results across our nation's cities. Housing discrimination alive and well in 2015. Violence, voting, economic justice.
We have made important strides forward. But we are not done yet. And now, it is our time. I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression, and the pain that confronts African Americans every day. But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.
Listen to the brave, powerful voices of today's new generation of civil rights leaders. Incredible voices. Listen to them say: "If I die in police custody, know that I did not commit suicide." Watch them when they march through the streets '-- "hands up, don't shoot" '-- not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives. To fight for their lives.
This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.
Once again, the task begins with safeguarding our communities from violence. We have made progress, but it is a tragedy when any American cannot trust those who have sworn to protect and serve. This pervasive and persistent distrust isn't based on myths. It is grounded in the reality of unjustified violence.
Policing must become a truly community endeavor '-- not in just a few cities, but everywhere. Police forces should look like, and come from, the neighborhoods they serve. They should reach out to support and defend the community '-- working with people in neighborhoods before problems arise. All police forces '-- not just some '-- must be trained to deescalate and to avoid the likelihood of violence. Body cameras can help us know what happens when someone is hurt. We honor the bravery and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers show every day on the job '-- and the noble intentions of the vast majority of those who take up the difficult job of keeping us safe. But police are not occupying armies. This is America, not a war zone '-- and policing practices in all cities '-- not just some '-- need to reflect that.
Next, voting.
It's time to call out the recent flurry of new state law restrictions for what they are: an all-out campaign by Republicans to take away the right to vote from poor and black and Latino American citizens who probably won't vote for them. The push to restrict voting is nothing more than a naked grab to win elections that they can't win if every citizen votes. Two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated critical parts of the Voting Rights Act. Congress could easily fix this, and Democrats in the Senate have called for restoration of voting rights. Now it is time for Republicans to step up to support a restoration of the Voting Rights Act '-- or to stand before the American people and explain why they have abandoned America's most cherished liberty, the right to vote.
And while we're at it, we need to update the rules around voting. Voting should be simple. Voter registration should be automatic. Get a driver's license, get registered automatically. Nonviolent, law-abiding citizens should not lose the right to vote because of a prior conviction. Election Day should be a holiday, so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote. Early voting and vote by mail would give fast food and retail workers who don't get holidays day off a chance to proudly cast their votes. The hidden discrimination that comes with purging voter rolls and short-staffing polling places must stop. The right to vote remains essential to protect all other rights, and no candidate for president or for any other elected office '-- Republican or Democrat '-- should be elected if they will not pledge to support full, meaningful voting rights.
Finally, economic justice. Our task will not be complete until we ensure that every family '-- regardless of race '-- has a fighting chance to build an economic future for themselves and their families. We need less talk and more action about reducing unemployment, ending wage stagnation, and closing the income gap between white and nonwhite workers.
And one more issue, dear to my heart: It's time to come down hard on predatory practices that allow financial institutions to systematically strip wealth out of communities of color. One of the ugly consequences of bank deregulation was that there was no cop on the beat when too many financial institutions figured out that they could make great money by tricking, trapping, and defrauding targeted families. Now we have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we need to make sure it stays strong and independent so that it can do its job and make credit markets work for black families, Latino families, white families '-- all families.
Yes, there's work to do.
Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and doughnuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier '-- in May of 1961 '-- he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The attorney general promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the US Army would arrive in time.
After the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the attorney general. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn't make it in time. He said that he was "never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear." And then he said something I'll never forget. He said that his parents didn't want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn't want him to "cause trouble." But he had done it anyway. He told me, "Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble."
The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that black lives matter. That black citizens matter. That black families matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made enough progress. As Sen. Kennedy said in his first floor speech, "This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means." So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the "necessary trouble" until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom. Thank you.
VIDEO-The ever-changing route of migrants into Europe | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:50
The movement of thousands of migrants fleeing war-torn nations into Europe shows no sign of letting up. But the route they take is ever changing. Despite rumors that no more migrants were being let into Hungary, some are still making their way in along the border town of Beremend. With a cool, damp autumn on the horizon, they have only these temporary shelters to protect them for the elements. They're met by residents in the Hungarian town with mixed feelings. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) UNIDENTIFIED BEREMEND RESIDENT, SAYING: "I don't think the situation is too good, unfortunately. I believe the situation might escalate into something even more serious." (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) BEREMEND RESIDENT, TIMEA ILLESNE POTHORSZKI, SAYING: "It doesn't affect me, no. And I feel ver y sorry for them. I sympathize with them, that is the truth. Last night too, I saw, that it was raining, so I feel wholeheartedly sorry for them." Meanwhile, thousands more migrants are streaming into Croatia from Serbia in the border town of Strosinci, where they then hope to head further north and west. More than 60,000 migrants have crossed into Croatia from Serbia in the past week, after Hungary erected a towering, steel fence along its border with Serbia. Syrian refugee Abdul Malek says he's at a loss, and doesn't put much faith in the authorities. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE, ABDUL MALEK, SAYING: "Our food is finished. Our water is finished. And, as you see, there is a lot of ladies, and a lot of babies here. So what we can... what we can do? I don't know why they do like this for us?" EU leaders have pledged at least 1 billion euro for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and closer cooperation to stem migrant flows into Europe -- in what has become the worst migrant crisis since World War Two.
VIDEO-Ukraine to beef up border with new U.S. radar technology | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:48
Ukraine's military, which is monitoring its volatile eastern border, will soon receive new radar technology upgrades after signing a deal with a U.S. company. Nathan Frandino reports.
A new U.S.-Ukraine venture is coming to Ukraine's volatile eastern border. This camera is part of the Elevated Early Warning Systems... a blend of radar and imaging technologies made by U.S. firm Aeroscraft, which aims to improve border monitoring capabilities. Two stationary towers like this one will be installed by the end of the year at the Ukraine-Russia border, where a conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels has killed nearly 8,000 people. The Honorable Oleg Gladkovskiy is with the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIRST DEPUTY SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE COUNCIL OF UKRAINE, HON. OLEG GLADKOVSKIY, SAYING: "We signed an agreement with AEROS to supply equipment which give us possibility to protect our border. It's very important in such dramatic time for Ukraine." Gladkovskiy and others visited on Friday the Aeroscraft facilities in California, where they were shown demonstrations of the technology. Aeronautical engineer John Wertz explains how the technology works. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AEROSCRAFT AERONAUTICAL ENGINEER, JOHN WERTZ, SAYING: "The software that we're using allows the data from the radar and from the camera to come into one workstation and really allow the operator to get an idea of what's going on in the area, not just where there are objects of interest but what those objects are and what they're doing in relation to each other." Six more towers equipped with the systems are planned to be added next year.
VIDEO-Weekly Address: Dispose of Your Expired and Unwanted Prescription Drugs | The White House
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:44
September 26, 2015 | 4:11 | Public Domain
In this week's address, on ''National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day,'' the President spoke about the importance of preventing and treating substance use disorders.
Download mp4 (155MB) | mp3 (10MB)
VIDEO- Putin: Does Anyone Even Listen To Us? : Information Clearing House - ICH
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:42
Putin: Does Anyone Even Listen To Us?
"We are not invading anyone?" - "Why are you threatening us?"
Putin answers questions from a UK journalist in relation to his intentions of getting along with the US. The treaty that he refers to in the conversation is the The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty or ABMT). The United States withdrew in 2002.
Posted September 25, 2015
VIDEO-Lena Dunham talks student loans with Hillary Clinton | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:38
In an interview for her new email newsletter, lennyletter.com, actress and director Lena Dunham interviews presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about issues relevant to young people, including student loans. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Actress and director Lena Dunham interviewed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her new online newsletter lennyletter.com, which is set to launch on Tuesday, according to reports. In a clip from the interview released on Friday (September 25), Dunham asked Clinton what she would do about the burden on young people from student loan debt, if she were elected president. Dunham created the newsletter, which will be emailed to subscribers, with her friend and executive producer on her show "Girls", Jenni Konner. According to the website, topics will include "feminism, style, health, politics, friendship and everything else", targeted at a young, female audience.
VIDEO-The (Best) Donald Trump Interview The Media All But Ignored... - UlstermanBooks.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:24
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VIDEO-New CEO Mueller to VW's rescue? | Reuters.com
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:21
Volkswagen bets on Porsche boss Matthias Mueller as a new CEO to help it ride the storm over its US emissions scandal. But, as Ivor Bennett reports, the crisis deepens as officials in Europe and the US step up investigations.
Is this the man to steer VW out of trouble? As expected, Matthias Mueller is stepping out of the driving seat at Porsche, and taking the wheel of its parent. The announcement finally coming after a day of closed door meetings at company HQ. SOUNDBITE (German) MATTHIAS MUELLER, CEO, VOLKSWAGEN, SAYING: ''I will personally do everything I can to win back the trust of our customers, our colleagues, our partners, investors and the general public.'' Mueller's been part of the VW machine since the 1970s. But the top job only came available on Wednesday after Martin Winterkorn stepped down. For CCLA's James Bevan, appointing a successor has come too soon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "Change is required but I have to say that I think it's a very early announcement in the context of the gravity of the challenges that VW faces. It's well recognised that there's a strong cadre of underlying managers but I do worry that this does not deal with the fundamental governance issues that VW must recognise." The company has promised to dismiss those tainted by the emissions scandal. And is reportedly considering a new corporate structure. But the end of the crisis is still not in sight. It's emerged that 2.8 million vehicles in Germany were affected by the emissions test manipulations, that were originally discovered in the U.S. Where a multi-state investigation has now been launched. Baader Bank's Robert Halver. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKET ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "It's easier to predict the next day's lottery numbers than it is to say how much this will cost VW." Rumours of Mueller's appointment had seen the company's shares jump 4 percent in early trading. But that soon disappeared - closing down 4 percent, VW is now the cheapest auto stock in the world.
VIDEO-Putin Lectures Obama on Arab Spring: "Do You Realize What You Have Done?" - The Gateway Pundit
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 00:49
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the UN General Assembly today in New York City.
Putin lectured Barack Obama on the Arab Spring disaster, something Obama supported.
''Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster '-- and nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have forced that situation: Do you realize what you have done?''
Barack Obama supported regime change in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and Syria.Today the Middle East is a bastion of Islamist violence, poverty, and human suffering.
More here.
VIDEO-Elizabeth Warren just gave the speech that Black Lives Matter activists have been waiting for - The Washington Post
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 16:06
Speaking in Boston, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says black Americans still face violence, economic injustice and restrictions to voting rights. She highlights the efforts of activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. (Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate)
In a Sunday speech on racial inequality, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for broad policing reform '-- including de-escalation training and body cameras for all police officers '-- and likened the current Black Lives Matter movement to the civil rights movement that won black Americans the right to vote in the 1960s.
"None of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets." Warren said. "This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter."
In the address, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post prior to her delivery, Warren draws direct parallels between the civil rights movement and the current anti-police-brutality movement, and it sought to link issues on economic inequality with systemic racism. She traces racial economic inequality, citing inequities in the housing system, as well as decrying restrictions to voting rights.
"Economic justice is not '-- and has never been '-- sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won't stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won't prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside," Warren declared. "The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found '-- against violence, against the denial of voting rights and against economic injustice."
Warren's address, delivered at the Edward Kennedy Institute in Boston, was perhaps the most full-throated endorsement to date by a federal lawmaker for the ongoing protest movement, and it drew immediate praise from some of the most visible activists.
"Senator Warren's speech clearly and powerfully calls into question America's commitment to black lives by highlighting the role that structural racism has played and continues to play with regard to housing discrimination and voting rights," said DeRay Mckesson, a prominent activist who said he hopes to meet with Warren to further discuss racial injustice. "And Warren, better than any political leader I've yet heard, understands the protests as a matter of life or death '-- that the American dream has been sustained by an intentional violence and that the uprisings have been the result of years of lived trauma."
[Black Lives Matter movement finds influencing 2016 contest a challenge]
Born out of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of Michael Brown last summer, the current protest movement has upended the efforts of Democratic presidential candidates to reach out to black voters. The three candidates have faced protests and interruptions at some of their campaign events. Both former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have met with some of the most visible activists, and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mckesson have agreed to meet soon.
The activists have called for a host of police reform measures, including body cameras, de-escalation training, special prosecutors in cases of police killings and a review of police union contracts.
"It is a tragedy when any American cannot trust those who have sworn to protect and serve," Warren said. "This pervasive and persistent distrust isn't based on myths. It is grounded in the reality of unjustified violence."
But the topics of police violence and reform have yet to gain significant traction in the Republican primary. In a three-hour debate held earlier this month, the topics weren't brought up once '-- by either the moderators or candidates.
[Why Hillary Clinton and her rivals are struggling to grasp Black Lives Matter]
At times, Warren's speech read as if it could have been authored by the activists themselves '-- unyielding in its criticism of police violence and even invoking the phrase "hands up, don't shoot," a Ferguson rallying cry that conservatives have attacked as a lie because the Justice Department concluded that Michael Brown's hands were most likely not up in the air when he was shot and killed by Darren Wilson.
"We've seen sickening videos of unarmed, black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air '-- their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protesters have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets," Warren said. "And it's not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church [in Charleston, S.C.]. We must be honest: 50 years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared."
Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.
VIDEO-Explore Another Insulin Treatment Option
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 04:39
Toujeo® is a long-acting human insulin analog indicated to improve glycemic control in adults with diabetes mellitus.
Limitations of Use: Toujeo® is not recommended for treating diabetic ketoacidosis.
Toujeo® is contraindicated during episodes of hypoglycemia and in patients hypersensitive to insulin glargine or any of its excipients.
Warnings and Precautions
Toujeo® contains the same active ingredient, insulin glargine, as Lantus®. The concentration of insulin glargine in Toujeo® is 300 units per mL.
Insulin pens and needles must never be shared between patients. Do NOT reuse needles.
Monitor blood glucose in all patients treated with insulin. Modify insulin regimens cautiously and only under medical supervision. Changes in insulin strength, manufacturer, type, or method of administration may result in the need for a change in insulin dose or an adjustment in concomitant oral antidiabetic treatment. Changes in insulin regimen may result in hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
Unit for unit, patients started on, or changed to, Toujeo® required a higher dose than patients controlled with Lantus®. When changing from another basal insulin to Toujeo®, patients experienced higher average fasting plasma glucose levels in the first few weeks of therapy until titrated to their individualized fasting plasma glucose targets. Higher doses were required in titrate-to-target studies to achieve glucose control similar to Lantus®.
Hypoglycemia is the most common adverse reaction of insulin therapy, including Toujeo®, and may be life-threatening.
Medication errors such as accidental mix-ups between basal insulin products and other insulins, particularly rapid-acting insulins, have been reported. Patients should be instructed to always verify the insulin label before each injection.
Do not dilute or mix Toujeo® with any other insulin or solution. If mixed or diluted, the solution may become cloudy, and the onset of action/time to peak effect may be altered in an unpredictable manner. Do not administer Toujeo® via an insulin pump or intravenously because severe hypoglycemia can occur.
Severe life-threatening, generalized allergy, including anaphylaxis, can occur. Discontinue Toujeo®, monitor and treat if indicated.
A reduction in the Toujeo® dose may be required in patients with renal or hepatic impairment.
As with all insulins, Toujeo® use can lead to life-threatening hypokalemia. Untreated hypokalemia may cause respiratory paralysis, ventricular arrhythmia, and death. Closely monitor potassium levels in patients at risk of hypokalemia and treat if indicated.
Fluid retention, which may lead to or exacerbate heart failure, can occur with concomitant use of thiazolidinediones (TZDs) with insulin. These patients should be observed for signs and symptoms of heart failure. If heart failure occurs, dosage reduction or discontinuation of TZD must be considered.
Drug Interactions
Certain drugs may affect glucose metabolism, requiring insulin dose adjustment and close monitoring of blood glucose. The signs of hypoglycemia may be reduced in patients taking anti-adrenergic drugs (eg, beta-blockers, clonidine, guanethidine, and reserpine).
Adverse Reactions
Adverse reactions commonly associated with Toujeo® include hypoglycemia, allergic reactions, injection site reactions, lipodystrophy, pruritus, rash, edema and weight gain.
Important Safety Information for Toujeo® (insulin glargine injection) 300 Units/mL SoloStar
Toujeo® SoloStar® is a disposable prefilled insulin pen. To help ensure an accurate dose each time, patients should follow all steps in the Instruction Leaflet accompanying the pen: otherwise they may not get the correct amount of insulin, which may affect their blood glucose levels.
Do not withdraw Toujeo® from the SoloStar® disposable prefilled pen with a syringe.
VIDEO-Trump: GOP rivals want to 'start World War III over Syria' | TheHill
Mon, 28 Sep 2015 02:24
Donald Trump on Friday accused his GOP rivals of seeking to ''start World War III over Syria'' and suggested the U.S. let Russia take up the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
"They want to start World War III over Syria. Give me a break," Trump said at the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.
"You know Russia wants to get ISIS right. We want to get ISIS. Russia's in Syria. Maybe we should let them do it?," he continued. "Let them do it. What the hell are we crazy?"Trump's statements come as Russia builds up its forces in Syria to help embattled leader Bashar Assad take on ISIS. The U.S. is also leading a coalition against the terror group, but also opposes Assad's regime and has urged him to relinguish power.
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Monday at the UN General Assembly, with Syria a likely topic of discussion.
Foreign policy has appeared to be a stumbling block for GOP front-runner Trump at times.
In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt earlier this month, Trump appeared to mix-up the names of top terrorists and confused the Kurds with the Iranian "Quds" force '' a special military unit.
Trump initially slammed Hewitt for asking "gotcha" questions, but during the second GOP debate suggested he had just been confused by Hewitt's pronunciation of foreign names.
Trump has touted his foreign policy, noting that he was opposed to the Iraq war, pledging to do more for America's veterans and blasting President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. He has said he would pick top experts for his administration and rely on their advice.
On Friday, he said that the U.S. had only empowered Iran by invading Iraq.
"I said don't go into Iraq. I'm the most militant person here, the most militaristic person you'll ever meet. I believe in the military strongly but I didn't want to see us invade Iraq," he said.
"We spend $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place that I love by the way'... we got nothing. We can't even go over there."
Trump also said Iraq and Iran were growing closer.
"And right now as you are standing here, Iraq is negotiating with Iran . They're going to merge and Iran is going to get the oil'... and the one that gets the rest of it is going to be ISIS."


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