763: Transjester

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 9m
October 8th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Kevin B66Sir Black Balls of TWiT, Sir Thomas Nussbaum, Duke of the Southern US Sir Gene Naftulyev, Sir James Doebbler, Sir Richard Moffatt

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Thomas Nussbaum, Squire Stickton, Sir Christopher Dolan, Sir Robert Goshko-Baron of Strathcona County, Gary Zachman

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb


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Green Poop
About | w2eu.info '' Welcome to Europe (en)
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:21
w2eu.info provides information to refugees and migrants that might be useful on their journey to and through Europe. We want to give access to counseling and useful contacts in different european countries.
From the very start at the outer borders of Europe, many forces are going in an inhuman direction: people are refused entry, are imprisoned and deported. Nevertheless they are coming - challenging the migration regime. And there are movements supporting them in their struggle for a better life.
"I can see clearly now what Europe looks like, that it sends its armiesto fight us at the sea and puts us in awful prisons. Together we have tostart a second journey to another safe place that might exist in thefuture."(Eritrean woman, arriving on the island of Lesvos)
We welcome all travellers on their difficult trip and wish all of them a good journey - because freedom of movement is everybody's right!
General advice:
We intend to keep the available information up-to-date. But the asylum system changes all the time and you will have to contact specialized lawyers and counselors to find out if the information is still valid!
If you find anything on the site that is no longer valid, please let us know by sending an email.
There are always exceptions to the rule: the asylum system is depending very much on the particular case. Specialized lawyers may sometimes find possibilities. Contact counselors in the country where you have arrived.
Active participation:
- Spread this site and link it.
- We are always in need of translators from English into French, Arabic and Farsi.
- This web guide is a work in progress:
If you have any other special information, don't hesitate to send us your material.
If you have further topics and questions that need an answer, let us know.
If you know people in different European countries who are experienced in counseling, bring them into contact with us.
Mailto: contact(at)w2eu.info
The information given on this website may have changed. Although we try to update it regularly, you should contact the groups and organisations listed for each country, to be sure about what to expect. If you notice any changes on your journey that might be important for others, please inform us via the contact form.
bordermonitoring.eu is the parent organization of w2eu.info. It is a recipient of monies from George Soros' Open Society Foundation and part of the Migrants Rights Network http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2015/job-opportunities-open-society-foundations
Boots on the ground report
Hi Adam,
Unfortunately we couldn't attend the Boulder meet up this year. I had a flight that night to Germany. While traveling I fell behind on TBPITU. Looking forward to hearing some real deconstruction.
Seeing Germany and the migrants first hand was very interesting. While in Hamburg I saw hundreds of immigrants walking the streets. When asked about their feelings toward the mass immigration, every German citizen replied the same. They said that these people are hurting and need help. That they felt good about helping others in need. Their only complaints were that senior citizens of Germany received around 650 euros a month for social security, these new immigrants were receiving 800 a month even though they never worked in Germany. It was sad to see a person in retirement digging through trash bins for plastic bottles to be recycled. A person who worked their whole life and gave to the government for their future retirement, and they have to spend any free time dumpster diving to make ends meet. The other complaint was that the reason these poor people were even traveling to the EU was because of the damn Russians. They are all in on the Russians being all the world's problems.
Just thought you may find this interesting. As always you can use any of these stories if you want. Can't wait to get caught up on the show. Hopefully my wife to be and myself can attend the next meetups!
Thank you for your service,
Sir Kelby Konig (Self Proclaimed Future JCD)
The UN Refugee Agency is working to relieve a global crisis. You can help. '-- Kickstarter
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 22:00
For months, we've all watched the steady unfolding of a humanitarian crisis. Waves of refugees, driven from their homes by violence and war, have given up everything to escape. They've crossed nations on foot and open water in cramped, unsafe boats, just to reach someplace '-- anyplace '-- safe. UNHCR's job is to help them survive and recover: to provide aid and shelter, reunite families, and support people as they struggle to build new lives.
This year alone, half a million refugees have found their way to Europe. Many of them arrive exhausted, malnourished, and carrying the few possessions they could save. Six thousand more are arriving in Greece each day. More than half of the refugee population is under 18. Often, children end up separated from their loved ones, lost in strange new places.
UNHCR is helping, in Europe and around the globe. And you can help them. At the invitation of the White House, we're joining the effort to support their important work. Any money you give through this campaign will go directly to USA for UNHCR to provide aid to people who need it '-- everything from food, water, and warm clothes to special care for children separated from their families.
Look above to see what your support could provide to people in need, from the most basic necessities to the tools to keep communities together. This is a complex and evolving crisis, and there are no overnight solutions. But even a small contribution can give a family a place to sleep, or a child a set of dry clothes '-- and to them, that helps a lot.
USA for UNHCR is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations to USA for UNHCR are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
WeHo Confidential: OMFG RentBoy.com Raided By FBI '-- You All Are Fucked
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:18
We'll keep this simple. RentBoy.com was raided by the FBI. The CEO and its employees were arrested! The raid was kinda epic as the servers are down, leading us to believe the site was hosted locally. YASS BITCH! They have YOUR data!FYI: Between 2010 and 2015, Rentboy.com had more than $10 million. More than $1.4 million from six bank accounts was seized in connection with the probe, according to court documents.Usually, large site like these depend on hosted data centers like RackSpace or CloudFlare, which would require additional subpoenas to aquire but we have a feeling the Feds got all your info very easily.So if you're a RentBoy (AKA prostitute) or a past customer, be prepared to lawyer up! THIS IS GONNA BE BAD! The evidence is in their hands! Your digital prostitution records are now being reviewed!Let this be a warning to competitive sites '-- they're cumming for you!We'd love to be on the team that gets to filter through the private pics! LOL this is the best gay darma we've seen in awhile!On a more serious note, how the fuck is anyone going to pay THE RENT this month? If your friends start getting evicted, you'll know their true occupation on the 1st!In other news...nobody over 40 is getting laid this evening.UPDATE: READ THE FULL AFFIDAVIT HERE >>> http://bit.ly/1Ju8dzHBlack Prune & Lil' Nestly
Why Did the Feds Take Down RentBoy? | emptywheel
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:23
Yesterday, federal officers (overwhelmingly Department of Homeland Security, not FBI) busted the 7 people who run RentBoy.com, the largest online portal for male escorts. In doing so, they put 10,000 sex workers out of business '-- or pushed them into more dangerous means of meeting customers.
This is the second time the Feds have taken down a sex worker portal. In June 2014, Feds took down RedBook, which included links to ads but also had a lot of chat rooms. At one level, then, that bust was even more of an assault on First Amendment rights, but the operators were also indicted on money laundering charges (and FBI found profiles of people under 18 posting advertisements, which it used to ratchet up the pressure). Thus far, at least, there's no indication of additional charges against RentBoy's operators, even though two outlets yesterday claimed there were money laundering charges involved. Though as I'll explain, I wouldn't be surprised to see immigration charges, I bet the government will charge the money laundering they've already leaked to the press, and I fully expect once the government wades through the servers they seized yesterday, they'll come up with a list of advertisers who were also underage.
The bust leaves me with several questions. As Conor Friedersdorf asks, why is this a priority of law enforcement? Aren't there more pressing crimes '-- like bank money laundering '-- to pursue, or more dangerous forms of sex trafficking?
Some potential answers may lie in some observations from the complaint.
Where did this come from?RentBoy has been operating happily since 1997. So why did the Feds choose to take it down yesterday?
One hint about where this inquiry may have come from is on page 19-20 of the complaint, after all the salacious descriptions of slang for kinds of sex and discussions of a few escorts' profiles that have been highlighted in other reporting on this. RentBoy twice applied for an H1B for its accountant, Marco Soto Decker.
In September 2010 and March 2013, EASY RENT SYSTEMS, INC. applied to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services for an H1-B non-immigrant work visa on behalf of SOTO DECKER. The application identified that EASY RENT SYSTEMS, INC. runs RENTBOY.COM which ''revolutionized the escorting industry by moving it online and away from agencies and disreputable bars.'' The application also said that SOTO DECKER had been operating as the accountant from July 2012, a position that reported directly to JEFFREY HURANT and which required him to prepare all financial statements and to strategically analyze, manipulate, and interpret financial data ''in order to develop strategies and make recommendations critical for the CEO to utilize in his work to successfully mange and grow the company.''
In connection with the application, EASY RENT SYSTEMS, INC. also submitted a job offer letter addressed to SOTO DECKER dated July 20, 2012, which identified the duties and responsibilities of the position. Among those duties was meeting with market, IT, sales, and customer service staff to review monthly expenses and see revenue and expenses optimization; supervising the company's daily e-commerce transactions; managing the entire accounting, budgeting and reconciliation process for the company's events, including the HOOKIES [an awards ceremony RentBoy puts on].
The application also included some of EASY RENT SYSTEM, INC.'s books and records. Among the expenses identified was a listing for ''Viagra '-- Sean.'' In addition, the application included numerous articles about RENTBOY.COM. Man of those articles identified unambiguously that the escorts advertising on RENTBOY.COM were having sex with their customers in exchange for money.
In other words, RentBoy's parent company twice applied to DHS for an H1B visa for its accountant, the more recent application of which DOJ alleges included clear evidence the company was buying Viagra for an employee and reporting on the company made it clear that RentBoy sold sex.
Note, the complaint didn't tell us what happened with those applications. That there were two of them suggests Soto Decker may have either gotten it renewed (I need to double check but I believe it is still the case you can get two H1Bs for a total of 6 years, then you have to go home to your home country for a period) or been denied in the first application. Assuming he got the H1B would also suggest that immigration authorities not only agreed with Easy Rent that Soto Decker was a skilled employee (there's no reason to doubt that) but also that the company could find no Americans to do an accounting job. Immigration authorities are very lenient with those H1B determinations, but they almost certainly could have refused that visa back in 2013.
Still, that application to DHS in March 2013 was almost 30 months ago, and there's just one sign I saw of active investigation since in the complaint. That detail appears on page 14.
HURANT was present at the 2015 HOOKIES, where he provided an undercover agent a card with the RENTBOY.COM name on one side. On the opposite side the card says ''Jeffrey Davids, Principal.'' It also lists his email address as ''[email protected]'' HURANT was asked by the undercover agent how the Hookies awards started. HURANT responded ''Have you ever had sex with anyone and it was so good you had to tell someone? That's what it's all about!''
In other words, in March 2013, Easy Rent submitted an H1B application that may have given DHS an opening to start this investigation. Two years later, they had an undercover officer attend the Hookies and get RentBoy's CEO to say some damning things.
That timeline '-- if it indeed shows the span of the investigation '-- is interesting for several reasons.
First, it would suggest the investigation was started while Loretta Lynch was still US Attorney in Eastern District of NY (more on that in a sec). If this investigation started in 2013, it means Lynch, now the Attorney General, may well have been the one ultimately overseeing the investigation.
Second, the investigation '-- with an undercover officer attending awards ceremonies and who knows what else '-- was active after the time the head of RedBook pled guilty in December 2014. DOJ had a proof of concept in that earlier bust.
Finally, as a reader noted, the investigation had already started before the time, in July, when a RentBoy escort exposed his discussions with Tim Geithner's brother, David, at Gawker. That is, this investigation is not retaliation for a RentBoy escort embarrassing the family member of a very powerful New Yorker. But the bust did happen after that. (And if I were that escort, I'd be very worried about what evidence that DHS seized yesterday might be used in a blackmail case against me.)
One more note on timing: One of the employees busted yesterday, Diana Milagros Mattos, left Easy Rent in June, in spite of being its highest commissioned sales agent. There's no explanation of why she left. I find that worth noting.
Why was this charged in EDNY?I always ask this question, but you have to ask it. Why was this charged in the Eastern District of NY, when RentBoy is headquartered in Manhattan, in the Southern District, and only one of the employees appears to live in EDNY (though the complaint reviews three profiles whose owners live in Brooklyn)? When asked yesterday, one of the Feds apparently simply said, ''the Internet is everywhere.'' But that response raises more questions than it answers.
I raise this not just for the Loretta Lynch connection, but also because by virtue of JFK airport's location in EDNY, where many defendants get flown into, the district has developed a slew of precedents having to do with asserting a fairly aggressive jurisdiction overseas. Again, it's possible this whole thing started from an immigration inquiry. But I wonder whether there's some more to it, especially since RentBoy has facilities in England.
In other words, is this just the first step in a larger, more international crackdown?
What other investigative means did they use?As noted, someone leaked to several outlets yesterday this case involved money laundering, but there's no hint of that in this complaint or even that they used investigative methods to prove it. While RentBoy's ISP, Cogent Communications, is mentioned in an aside '-- in the context of how communications with the ISP described Soto Decker's responsibilities '-- there's no mention of any orders for traffic logs or other electronic service provider records. Still, it's fairly clear the Feds do have some records from Cogent they aren't yet telling us about.
Then there's the means by which the agent who wrote this, Susan Ruiz, identified aliases of some of the employees. In footnote after footnote, she says she compared the defendant's driver's license picture with an online picture and decided they were the same person. Neither those aliases nor the means by which she identified them are critical at this point. But I would suggest she almost certainly used more reliable means to connect the identities of these people. That could just be an insider's testimony, but it could also include traffic logs connecting certain computers with the online profiles using those aliases.
In other words, I suspect they've got electronic records they don't want to tell us about, even as simply as records obtained from Cogent using a subpoena.
Why didn't they bust DaddysReviews.com?As the complaint makes clear, RentBoy has clear warnings against advertising sex and prices (which will be one of the defenses the accused will use). It bills itself as an escort site that will not permit the selling of sex.
To prove that the profiles the complaint describes in depth involve prostitution, it relies heavily on DaddysReviews.com, which is a review site that not only describes completed acts of sex, but the price paid for that sex.
I'm going to ask people who know the industry better than I about this. But I do wonder why DHS and DOJ chose to bust the site that doesn't explicitly tie sex to payment, but didn't bust the one that does.
Update: One suggestion on this question is that DaddysReviews wouldn't be prosecuted because they don't take money.
GOOGLE DEMANDS DATA-13 Cool Facts About the 2017 Porsche 911
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:12
A few additional thoughts:
Regarding the horsepower figures, Jonny should have added a sentence or two about the fact that just about the worst kept secret in the automotive universe is that Porsche continually underestimates the performance figures of its sports cars. It is commonplace for independent sources like MT, CD, R&T, EVO, etc. to report zero to 60 times, for instance, several tenths of a second faster than those reported by Porsche. So, while it may be true that, literally translated, the horsepower figures, once converted to SAE standards, are lower than the number reported by Porsche, it is also likely that the pre-conversion number is possibly 5% lower than the engine's actual horsepower output.
Regarding the "rightsizing" of the engine and the negative implications of the additional weight of the turbos and required ducting, I also believe Jonny should have added some commentary about the fact that, in real world (i.e., stop and go) operation, there will likely be no actual reduction in emissions. The EU emission tests are known to be completely flawed as they "test" emissions when an engine is not running under stress and the turbos are not operating under significant boost. This, of course, negates the purpose of the turbos in the fist place. R&T did an excellent write up about this subject and is worth Googling.
Former Reuters social media editor convicted of aiding L.A. Times hack - LA Times
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:40
Matthew Keys, former deputy social media editor for the Reuters news agency, was convicted Wednesday for his role in a conspiracy to hack Los Angeles Times and Tribune Co. servers.
Keys, 28, who also was a web producer for KTXL Fox 40 in Sacramento, a Tribune-owned television station, provided members of the hacker group Anonymous with login information for Tribune servers in 2010.
Though Keys faces up to 25 years in prison at his sentencing, U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said prosecutors are "likely" to seek less than five years.
Keys' attorney, Jay Leiderman, said they will appeal after Keys' sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 in Sacramento.
''He shouldn't be doing a day in jail,'' Leiderman said. ''With love and respect, [The Times'] story was defaced for 40 minutes when someone found it and fixed it in three minutes. What do you want, a year a minute?''
Keys, who works as a managing editor for Grasswire, a news curation website, said he will continue to report until his sentencing.
Edward Snowden, who exposed the mass-surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, tweeted about Keys' potential sentence, followed by #PrisonPolicy.
''I appreciate the support that everyone is sending my way,'' Keys said in response. ''This affects our ability to keep sources confidential. I hope they funnel that outrage and anger into progress.''
In their indictment, federal prosecutors alleged Keys conspired with Anonymous members to access the Tribune Co.'s servers "for the purpose of learning how to alter and damage it." According to federal authorities, Keys provided a username and password for Tribune servers to hackers in an online chat room after he left KTXL in late October 2010.
A jury convicted Keys of one count of conspiracy to make changes to Tribune's website and damage its computer systems, one count of transmitting malicious code and one count of attempting to transmit malicious code.
With the information from Keys, prosecutors say, a hacker accessed a news story on The Times' website and changed a headline on a story about tax cuts to read: "Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337."
"[T]hat was such a buzz having my edit on the LA Times," the hacker, using the screen name "sharpie," wrote to Keys, according to the indictment.
"Nice," Keys, using the screen name "AESCracked," allegedly replied.
Keys said he was using a virtual private network "to cover my tracks," according to the indictment.
Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that Tribune spent more than $5,000 responding to the attack and restoring its systems.
According to the indictment, Keys conspired with hackers via a chat room known as "internetfeds."
Keys had written about gaining access to the chat room and communicating with hackers in a blog post for Reuters last year. Keys said the chat room was a "top secret" place where "elite hackers assembled."
"If there was a political or economic reason behind their mayhem, so much the better. If not, they did it for kicks," he wrote of the hackers' motivations for their attacks.
He wrote in the post about the hack on The Times' site, without acknowledging any personal involvement.
Keys was fired from Reuters shortly after federal prosecutors launched their case against him, though the company said he was let go for social media activities.
''Although this case has drawn attention because of Matthew Keys' employment in the news media, this was simply a case about a disgruntled employee who used his technical skills to taunt and torment his former employer,'' U.S. Atty. Benjamin Wagner said in a statement. ''Although he did no lasting damage, Keys did interfere with the business of news organizations, and caused the Tribune Company to spend thousands of dollars protecting its servers. Those who use the Internet to carry out personal vendettas against former employers employers should know that there are consequences for such conduct.''
In an interview with The Times following his conviction, Keys used an expletive to describe the government's case against him and tweeted the same sentiment. He said prosecutors only went after him after he published information in 2011 that he gleaned from unnamed online sources, and refused to cooperate with federal investigators in a separate probe.
''They would love it if journalists who get background or go into dark places would play ball in criminal investigations,'' Keys said of prosecutors. ''But we're under no obligation to do that. That's how we get out our stories '' by protecting our sources.''
An earlier version of this post misquoted Keys as saying, "But we're under no obligation to do that. That's how we get out our sources - by protecting our sources." It should have said, "But we're under no obligation to do that. That's how we get out our stories - by protecting our sources."
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He drew similarities between the case against him and the government seizure of Associated Press phone records and the prosecution of a New York Times reporter for refusing to divulge a source, as examples. He had no part in the hacking of The Times site, in which the headline of an article was defaced, he said.
''Are you guys really that offended?'' Keys asked a Times reporter. ''Shame on the Tribune Co. for being complicit in this.''
U.S. Atty. Matthew Segal, lead prosecutor in the case, said Keys' assertion that he was targeted by the government as retribution for his work and to have him reveal his sources was baseless. ''It's silly,'' he said.
Segal said Keys signed a confession and offered to cooperate with authorities.
''Anybody with any doubt as to what happened here can read the statement that Keys wrote and gave to the FBI,'' Segal said. ''He admitted what he did and offered to cooperate.''
Keys said that when FBI agents executed a search warrant at his home in 2012, he was under the influence of medication and was directed by an agent to write the statement. Keys said the statement was coerced and that he and his lawyers intend to address the issue on appeal.
Navy establishes permanent cyber division
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 13:35
Navy establishes permanent cyber divisionBy Sean LyngaasOct 02, 2015The Navy is working to get a handle on its cyber threat exposure. Without a running tally of IT systems and the provenance of their parts, network operators don't know what's on or off; what's vulnerable or secure.
Navy officials are trying to build on the momentum of the yearlong Task Force Cyber Awakening to drive a lasting, more secure cyber posture at the service. And so the chief of naval operations last month established the Navy Cybersecurity Division, a 40-person office responsible for evaluating big cyber investments and ensuring policy requirements.
One of the chief tasks of the new division, according to Vice Adm. Ted Branch, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance, will be to "make sure that they have the requirements right at the front end so we can bake in some of the cybersecurity, as opposed to having it bolted on like we have done up until now."
The task force was a deep dive into the cyber postures of the service's many components, from the Naval Sea Systems Command to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. It set priorities for boosting resiliency and led the Navy to reallocate approximately $300 million in fiscal 2016 budget to help treat the service's cyber vulnerabilities.
The task force came at "a time of need," Branch said at an Oct. 1 press briefing. "We had a lot going on without a lot of focus and pursuit of our 2013 incursion."
Branch was referring to a breach, attributed to Iranian hackers, of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the service's massive internal computer network. A months-long operation known as Operation Rolling Tide, which drove the hackers off of the unclassified portion of NMCI, has become a blueprint for Navy cyber operations.
The task force initially focused on the transport layer of Navy networks, where the 2013 breach had occurred, Branch said. Drawing on modeling done by experts at Johns Hopkins University, the task force ranked and prioritized vulnerabilities on Navy networks and then suggested remedies. Officials later broadened the scope of assessment to include weapon and facility systems.
Troy Johnson heads the new cyber division. Johnson spent 22 years as a cryptologist and information operations planner in the Navy, and played an integral role in the cyber task force.
The systems commands that contribute the building blocks that make up Navy networks will need to mature, according to Branch. "The expertise that needs to be resident in systems commands for design and engineering frankly isn't there yet, certainly not in the capacity that we need it to be," he said.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas
Global nuclear facilities 'at risk' of cyber attack - BBC News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:39
Image copyrightAPImage caption Iran's nuclear enrichment systems were hit by the Stuxnet virus that targeted centrifuges The risk of a "serious cyber attack" on nuclear power plants around the world is growing, warns a report.
The civil nuclear infrastructure in most nations is not well prepared to defend against such attacks, it added.
Many of the control systems for the infrastructure were "insecure by design" because of their age, it said.
Published by the influential Chatham House think tank, the report studied cyber defences in power plants around the world over an 18-month period.
Cyber criminals, state-sponsored hackers and terrorists were all increasing their online activity, it said, meaning that the risk of a significant net-based attack was "ever present".
Such an attack on a nuclear plant, even if small-scale or unlikely, needed to be taken seriously because of the harm that would follow if radiation were released.
In addition, it said "even a small-scale cyber security incident at a nuclear facility would be likely to have a disproportionate effect on public opinion and the future of the civil nuclear industry".
Unfortunately, research carried out for the study showed that the UK's nuclear plants and associated infrastructure were not well protected or prepared because the industry had converted to digital systems relatively recently.
This increasing digitisation and growing reliance on commercial software is only increasing the risks the nuclear industry faces.
There was a "pervading myth" that computer systems in power plants were isolated from the internet at large and because of this were immune to the kind of cyber attacks that have dogged other industries.
However, it said, this so-called "air gap" between the public internet and nuclear systems was easy to breach with "nothing more than a flash drive". It noted that the destructive Stuxnet computer virus infected Iran's nuclear facilities via this route.
The story of Stuxnet
Image copyrightGetty ImagesIn 2009, a malicious computer program called 'Stuxnet' was manually uploaded into a nuclear plant in Iran.The worm took control of 1,000 machines involved with producing nuclear materials, and instructed them to self-destruct.What made the world's first cyber-weapon so destructive?
The researchers for the report had also found evidence of virtual networks and other links to the public internet on nuclear infrastructure networks. Some of these were forgotten or simply unknown to those in charge of these organisations.
Already search engines that sought out critical infrastructure had indexed these links making it easy for attackers to find ways in to networks and control systems.
Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: "Security, including cyber security, is an absolute priority for power station operators."
"All of Britain's power stations are designed with safety in mind and are stress-tested to withstand a vast range of potential incidents," he added. "Power station operators work closely with national agencies such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and other intelligence agencies to always be aware of emerging threats."
In addition, said Mr Parker, the industry's regulator continuously monitors plant safety to help protect it from any outside threats.
In June this year the International Atomic Energy Agency held its first international conference about the cyber threats facing plants and manufacturing facilities. At the conference Yukiya Amano, director of the IAEA, said both random and targeted attacks were being directed at nuclear plants.
"Staff responsible for nuclear security should know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage if systems are actually penetrated," he said in a keynote address to the conference.
The civil nuclear industry should do a better job of measuring cyber attack risks and improve the way it defends against them, according to Chatham House. Many plants examined by the report's researchers lacked preparedness for large-scale attacks that took place outside office hours.
"The nuclear industry is beginning - but struggling - to come to grips with this new, insidious threat," said Patricia Lewis, research director of Chatham House's international security programme.
Wikileaks Exposes Secret Deal to Get Saudi Arabia on UN Human Rights Council
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:44
By Michaela Whitton / theantimedia.orgTwo years after the controversial appointment of Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council, leaked diplomatic cables have revealed the UK was a key player in the election of the Gulf State '-- despite the Saudis' appalling human rights record.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) is tasked with the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. What's remarkably under-reported (yet unsurprising) is the claim that notorious human rights abuser, Saudi Arabia, pledged $1 million to UNHRC prior to winning the blood-stained seat.
What is surprising is the next chapter in the farcical saga.
In a classic case of you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, the leaked cables '-- translated by UN Watch '-- allege that a secret vote trading deal was made by Britain and Saudi Arabia to ensure both countries were elected to the council.
Passed to Wikileaks in June, the classified files refer to Saudi talks with British diplomats prior to the November 2013 vote in New York.
One read: ''The delegation is honoured to send to the ministry the enclosed memorandum, which the delegation has received from the permanent mission of the United Kingdom asking it for the support and backing of the candidacy of their country to the membership of the human rights council (HRC) for the period 2014-2016, in the elections that will take place in 2013 in the city of New York.''
The leaked files then elaborate on the trading of ''support'' between the two countries:
''The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.''
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said, ''Based on the evidence, we remain deeply concerned that the UK may have contracted to elect the world's most misogynistic regime as a world judge of human rights.'' The latest glimpse into Britain's shoulder-rubbing with prolific human rights violators was revealed as the Saudi kingdom pummels Yemen for the sixth month and Saudi blogger Raif Badawi languishes behind bars for writing about democracy.
As the kingdom that has beheaded over 100 people this year prepares to crucify a 17-year-old for taking part in demonstrations, Britain's insincere boasting about being a strong promoter of human rights sounds more hollow than ever.
War on Crazy
Families Of Teens Who Died After Hypnosis By Principal Will Get $600,000`
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:38
The Sarasota County School District in Florida has agreed to pay $200,000 to each of three families whose teens died after a principal hypnotized them.
It's the end to a bizarre case that started in April 2011, when North Port High School Principal George Kenney admitted that he hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley. The teen died by suicide a day later.
A subsequent investigation found Kenney had hypnotized up to 75 students and staff at the school for various reasons, according to the Herald-Tribune. Two of those students were Marcus Freeman, 16, and Brittany Palumbo, 17. They both died earlier that year, Freeman in a car crash and Palumbo by suicide.
The school board met on Tuesday and approved a $600,000 settlement for the families in a 4-0 decision. The civil case was due to go to trial on Oct. 12.
"The Sarasota County School Board has agreed to settle a suit filed by the families of three former North Port High School students in an effort to bring closure to the litigation," board spokesman Scott Ferguson said Wednesday. "The school board has concluded that a mutually acceptable settlement is in the best interests of all parties involved."
The Herald-Tribune reports on Freeman:
Kenney hypnotized Freeman, a quarterback for the North Port High football team, to help him concentrate and not worry about pain during games, according to court documents. Kenney began to teach Freeman how to hypnotize himself.
After a painful dentist visit on March 15, 2011, Freeman drove home with his girlfriend. His girlfriend said that during the ride Freeman got a strange look on his face and veered off of Interstate 75 near Toledo Blade Boulevard. Freeman later died from his injuries; his girlfriend survived.
McKinley was found dead in his room on April 8, and his roommate said that he'd been hypnotized by Kenney at least three times, including the day of the suicide.
According to the Herald-Tribune, Palumbo's parents said Kenney diagnosed her with anxiety and hypnotized her to help improve her SAT scores. Her parents said she died by suicide not long after finishing her college applications, according to ABC Action News.
There was no criminal link between Kenney's hypnosis sessions and the deaths, but the principal was charged in 2012 with two misdemeanor counts of practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license, according to ABC News. He pleaded no contest and spent a year on probation.
He gave up his teaching license in 2013, The Associated Press reports, and now runs a bed and breakfast in Waynesville, North Carolina.
The families' lawyer, Damian Mallard, didn't immediately return calls for comment but has repeatedly pegged Kenney's hypnosis sessions as unauthorized medical practice. He told the Herald-Tribune that the families are still grieving and are unhappy with Kenney's lack of punishment.
''It's something they will never get over," Mallard said. "It's probably the worst loss that can happen to a parent is to lose a child, especially needlessly because you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a license."
Hillary Clinton gun plan: Is it feasible? - CSMonitor.com
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:07
Hillary Clinton's new gun control proposal might do more than tighten restrictions on firearm sales. It could also be a demonstration of how to circumvent Congress by using assertive presidential power.
That's because Mrs. Clinton said on Monday that if elected, she would use executive action to expand background checks for gun purchases. Under current federal law, such checks are required for sales through licensed gun stores, but not for private party sales, sometimes made at gun shows or over the Internet.
''If Congress refuses to act to end this epidemic of gun violence, I'll take administration action to do so,'' tweeted Clinton after announcing her plan at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
Gun control and gun rights issues have long been among the most emotional and contentious items on Washington's agenda.
Anti-gun advocates are frustrated that mass shootings such as last week's tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., don't lead to political action tightening gun access. Gun rights advocates say there is no evidence most proposals would halt such shootings '' and that tighter gun controls could lead to firearms registration or more drastic government action that impinges on Second Amendment gun ownership rights.
In a Congress already polarized between the parties, that sort of argument inevitably produces gridlock of the first order. Clinton, as a longtime proponent of gun controls, is looking for a way around that legislative jam.
Not incidentally, the former secretary of State is also looking for a way to stand out politically on guns. That applies to her primary fight against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as a possible general election campaign against a GOP nominee. Guns are one issue on which Clinton is well to the left of Senator Sanders.
Unmarried women, African-Americans, and Hispanics '' all core Democratic constituencies '' have among the lowest rates of gun ownership in America. Only 13 percent of non-married women own firearms, for example, wrote Cook Political Report national editor Amy Walter in 2013.
''[T]he political profile of a ... non-gun owner looks a lot like a Democratic voter,'' Ms. Walter wrote.
Clinton's proposal to use the power of the presidency to move the gun issue may thus be an attempt to cement her appeal to her base, while undercutting Sanders.
As to substance, the executive action that Clinton is pushing would redefine any private party who sells a significant number of guns as being ''in the business'' of retailing firearms. That would put them on the same legal footing as gun stores, notes Clinton's white paper on the subject.
Right now, private parties can sell guns to in-state customers who they have no reason to believe aren't eligible for gun ownership without conducting a background check. Many of these sales occur at or near gun shows, or over the Internet. They've long been a target of gun control groups.
Clinton's plan would also close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows a gun sale to proceed without a background check if that federal check isn't completed in three days. More than 2,500 gun purchases that otherwise would have been prohibited were completed last year because of this loophole, according to the Clinton campaign. This move would require congressional legislation, however, which makes it much less likely to occur.
Clinton also wants to repeal the law that bans crime victims from suing gun manufacturers '' another item that would require legislative action.
One final point on Clinton's background check proposal: If it's really that easy, why hasn't the current Democratic president done it? President Obama has not been shy about pushing the boundaries of executive branch power in the area of immigration, after all. And he's previously taken executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. One would think he would be eager to unilaterally redefine active private-party sellers as gun dealers.
''Is Obama, who has been visibly frustrated by government inaction, thinking of undertaking such an executive action?'' writes left-leaning Greg Sargent on his "Plum Line" blog at The Washington Post. ''Will Clinton's public vow to undertake such action raise the pressure on the administration to do the same?''
Nevada lawmaker wants study of medications prescribed to mass shooters - News3LV
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 20:47
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) --As the nation learns more about the mass-casualty shooter at a rural Oregon community college, a state lawmaker would like to learn more about drugs used to treat mental illness while one of Nevada's federal lawmakers says it is time for lawmakers to act to try to end mass shootings.Armed with more than a dozen firearms, extra ammunition and body armor, Chris Harper-Mercer left behind a document which investigators say detailed his poor state of mind. He killed nine people Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., and wounded several more before killing himself.
It has been disclosed that Harper-Mercer graduated from a school for children with learning and emotional challenges. Oregon law enforcement officials say he was struggling with mental health issues.
Local Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore says that while a lot of people want to blame guns for mass shootings, she believes we need to take a look at psychiatric drug treatments prescribed to those struggling with mental illness.
Journalists have learned that the shooter's screen name on social media was "lithium love." Lithium is used as a psychiatric medication.
While there is no confirmation of medications that Harper-Mercer was prescribed, Fiore says with some drugs known to cause violence, suicidal and homicidal actions, we need more scientific proof that they work.
"We have to look into what is being prescribed and what is in these meds just like clinical studies," Fiore told News 3 this weekend. "Why don't we do studies on the medication all of these shooters were taking and take that medication off the market?
"Obvioulsy, medications can alter your mind just as alcohol can alter the mind," she said.
In reaction to the shooting, nearly the 1,000th mass shooting in the country since the Sandy Hook School shootings, Nevada's longest-serving U.S. lawmaker says it is time for action."It's unacceptable that yet another community in our nation is mourning because of a senseless act of gun violence," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in an email. "Yet again, families have been torn apart. Yet again, a school has been shattered by a gun massacre. This violence must stop.
"Americans want us to act. We cannot dodge this conversation forever," the Democrat wrote. "We do not yet know the motivation behind this hateful act, but we stand united as a nation in pursuing justice for the innocent lives lost.''
Constitutional Amendment Process
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:34
The authority to amend the Constitution of the United States is derived from Article V of the Constitution. After Congress proposes an amendment, the Archivist of the United States, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is charged with responsibility for administering the ratification process under the provisions of 1 U.S.C. 106b. The Archivist has delegated many of the ministerial duties associated with this function to the Director of the Federal Register. Neither Article V of the Constitution nor section 106b describe the ratification process in detail. The Archivist and the Director of the Federal Register follow procedures and customs established by the Secretary of State, who performed these duties until 1950, and the Administrator of General Services, who served in this capacity until NARA assumed responsibility as an independent agency in 1985.
The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution. Since the President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, the joint resolution does not go to the White House for signature or approval. The original document is forwarded directly to NARA's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for processing and publication. The OFR adds legislative history notes to the joint resolution and publishes it in slip law format. The OFR also assembles an information package for the States which includes formal "red-line" copies of the joint resolution, copies of the joint resolution in slip law format, and the statutory procedure for ratification under 1 U.S.C. 106b.
The Archivist submits the proposed amendment to the States for their consideration by sending a letter of notification to each Governor along with the informational material prepared by the OFR. The Governors then formally submit the amendment to their State legislatures. In the past, some State legislatures have not waited to receive official notice before taking action on a proposed amendment. When a State ratifies a proposed amendment, it sends the Archivist an original or certified copy of the State action, which is immediately conveyed to the Director of the Federal Register. The OFR examines ratification documents for facial legal sufficiency and an authenticating signature. If the documents are found to be in good order, the Director acknowledges receipt and maintains custody of them. The OFR retains these documents until an amendment is adopted or fails, and then transfers the records to the National Archives for preservation.
A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States). When the OFR verifies that it has received the required number of authenticated ratification documents, it drafts a formal proclamation for the Archivist to certify that the amendment is valid and has become part of the Constitution. This certification is published in the Federal Register and U.S. Statutes at Large and serves as official notice to the Congress and to the Nation that the amendment process has been completed.
In a few instances, States have sent official documents to NARA to record the rejection of an amendment or the rescission of a prior ratification. The Archivist does not make any substantive determinations as to the validity of State ratification actions, but it has been established that the Archivist's certification of the facial legal sufficiency of ratification documents is final and conclusive.
In recent history, the signing of the certification has become a ceremonial function attended by various dignitaries, which may include the President. President Johnson signed the certifications for the 24th and 25th Amendments as a witness, and President Nixon similarly witnessed the certification of the 26th Amendment along with three young scholars. On May 18, 1992, the Archivist performed the duties of the certifying official for the first time to recognize the ratification of the 27th Amendment, and the Director of the Federal Register signed the certification as a witness.
Links to Constitutional Amendment Information in the Treasures of Congress Exhibit
Election 2016
5 Ways Donald Trump Perfectly Mirrors Hitler's Rise To Power | Cracked.com
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:23
Ideally, time will prove me crazy and incorrect, but approaching the Trump candidacy as a comedy sketch that will never come true could potentially be the most tragic mistake this country will ever make, and you don't need to look any further than the publicly documented words and actions of the man himself to see just how true that is. We talk about it on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by my Cracked co-worker Randol Maynard and comic/activist/word doctor Genevieve Mueller. Specifically, we talk about all of the terrifyingly real ways that, no matter how crazy it sounds, Donald Trump is the closest the United States has ever come to producing our very own version of Adolf Hitler. Here are a few reasons why.
#5. He Blames A Specific Group Of Immigrants For All Our Problems (And Promises To Eliminate Them From Our Society)Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Seriously, while you've been chuckling it up about Donald Trump's crazy hair and stupid facial expressions, have you taken a few minutes to read his nightmare scenario of an immigration policy? It's right there on his website for the world to see, and it is nothing short of terrifying. It kicks off with his three "core principals" of immigration reform:
If that first point doesn't make it clear enough that he's specifically referring to Mexican immigrants, his plan to pay for that wall certainly does. In short, he wants Mexico to pay for it. Why? Because they've been "taking advantage" of us by sending millions of illegal immigrants our way for decades now, to the absolute financial ruin of the average American. Covering all of the problems with that logic could be an article all its own, but what's particularly audacious and, in my opinion, just as revealing is his suggestion that Mexico has benefited from the "faulty trade deals" we've made with them. He's undoubtedly referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is ironic as all get-out, because one of the most devastating side effects of that program was that it flooded the Mexican market with U.S. government subsidized corn, forcing millions of farmers in that country out of business.
Inevitably, this led to huge numbers of people migrating north to look for work, often in the agriculture industry. This influx of workers willing to do tedious, sometimes back-breaking manual labor in return for absurdly low wages undoubtedly played a huge role in keeping American farms afloat.
I say his reference to NAFTA is revealing because, at the end of the day, Donald Trump is a businessman. He knows all about who reaped the financial rewards of NAFTA, and it for damn sure wasn't Mexico. So, if you're the type who's numbing the terror of the coming Trump presidency by assuring yourself that all he cares about is money, you're probably right. It's just that now he's landed on a way to once again capitalize ...
commons.wikimedia.orgTrump International Border Wall-Casino-Hotel isn't just going to build itself.
... on one of the most lopsided trade agreements in history by recasting the victims of its most egregious ramifications into the villains who used it to "take America to the cleaners."
Even scarier is exactly how he plans to make "Mexico" pay for that wall. Among his chief complaints are "remittances" or, in layman's terms, money that illegal immigrants earn and send back to their families in their home country. According to his sources, that totaled $22 billion in 2013 alone. Think about that -- to pay for a wall to keep people from coming to this country looking for a better way to support their family, he's going to somehow take that money from millions of people who are here right now just because they wanted to make life a little better for their family. He doesn't say exactly how he'll accomplish that part, which makes the fact that this bit is so vague unspeakably uncomfortable.
donaldjtrump.comWhat are you??!??!!?
What's that all about? Whatever it is, I can't help but think it will be bad times for people working illegally in this country who might have money in transit to people at home when it takes effect. It could be something as simple as forcing businesses to register all their employees to prove they aren't working here illegally and forfeiting some of those businesses' assets in the name of cutting off those remittance payments if it's found that they are. So, while you hear "make Mexico pay" and laugh it off, what he could just as easily mean is "freeze the bank accounts of businesses that are found to be employing illegal immigrants." If there's anything our government has had plenty of practice at over the past decade or so, it's taking the money of groups we determine to somehow be a threat to our safety. What he's actually proposing is only crazy if you want it to be.
He also stretches the premise to include crime, going into detail about an incident where two illegal immigrants attacked and killed a woman with a hammer. He touched on that idea early in his campaign also, when a woman in San Francisco was tragically shot and killed by a man who was also here illegally. He referred to San Francisco as a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants at the time and promised to stop that kind of thing if he gets elected. If that sounds like some kind of empty threat, his immigration policy makes it clear that it's not.
donaldjtrump.comYou shouldn't worry about money in a sanctuary. Just enjoy yourself.
Right, but "sanctuary city" is just some kind of made-up talking-point phrase, right? Not really. There's something taking hold in this country right now that's spread to 57 cities so far called the "welcoming movement." Basically, it involves cities taking in mass amounts of refugees from various war-torn or otherwise devastated regions around the world. At some point, his immigration policy stops limiting itself to Mexicans crossing the border and starts referencing the 2 million or so people we allow in the country as guest workers, refugees, and dependents.
The "dependents" part is particularly chilling when you read that part of his policy involves eliminating "birthright citizenship," which is the idea that if you were born in this country, you're a citizen of this country. That's how it works now, but it wouldn't be quite that easy in Trump's version of America. If you're the child of parents who are here illegally, you might as well have been born in Mexico. Cities that refuse to see it that way will be "defunded." In other words, providing aid and shelter to immigrants will have severe consequences for those who depend on government assistance to survive. So, poor people, of course.
The plan concludes by promising that all of this is meant to help Americans struggling in poverty fight their way to the middle class ... and that's when the implications get even more terrifying.
#4. He'll Sell His Hate As Hope For The Poorest Citizens In This CountryFlickr/Michael Vadon
Do I even need to tell you why anything in the previous entry reeks of Nazism? If so, take a quick read through Hitler's 25-point plan for the Nazi party, which mostly just says Jews need to be expelled from the country because they're a drain on resources that should be going toward making life better for natural German citizens. Life was rough in Germany at the time, and at some point it got so rough that people were willing to go along with blaming it all on Jews if the plan offered some sort of hope that things would get better.
Mention the parallels between Trump and Hitler to most people today, and they'll point out that things aren't nearly as bad in this country as they were in Germany at the time. What these people will all inevitably have in common is that they're white.
By the end of the first paragraph of his immigration plan, it's clear that Trump's not just hoping to appeal to white racists, if at all.
donaldjtrump.comWhen you see it ...
At several points he goes to great lengths to suggest that black and Hispanic people in poor communities are among the biggest victims when it comes to losing jobs at the hands of illegal immigration (the link just points to a Breitbart article; also, foreshadowing alert), and that reform in that area should be largely aimed at helping them prosper and reach the middle class.
So, if you're among those who think the country is in too good of shape to elect Donald Trump, imagine you live in an inner-city neighborhood in a place like Baltimore or Chicago. You can't, because you don't, but you know it's pretty fucking terrible because you watch The Wire like a responsible adult should. Are you thinking about those communities when you say America is too well off for things to get out of hand? The ones you tweeted all the hashtags about, for example?
Even worse, it's not just minorities he mentions; it's teens. Someone wanting to draw some Nazi parallels might refer to them as youths. Wait, wait, wait ... "What the hell does Donald Trump have to offer young black voters?" you ask? I can't know for sure, but before I make a suggestion, have a look at this creepy shit.
donaldjtrump.comHe's really pitching those fringe white racists pretty hard, huh?
A refugee program for American kids? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Sure, we've had a natural disaster or two that sent people fleeing into the welcoming arms of a strange state, but since when do we need a running program that offers American kids a place to flee to? And what are they fleeing from?
Guns and poverty, dummy! See all those links in his pitch about kids needing a refugee program? It's my job to click them for you right now! They are:
- A statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte called "Asylum Abuse: Is It Overwhelming Our Borders?"
- A Breitbart column with the headline, "3 In 4 Refugees On Food Stamps, Many Using Other Forms Of Public Assistance"
- A (say it with me) Breitbart column with the heading, "Black American From Gang-Besieged Baltimore: 'Where Can I Get Asylum?'"
Typical Trump rhetoric, yeah? But remember who he's saying it to. He's not even looking in the direction of the "vocal minority" we think he's catering to; this is tied to his reasoning for taking "American" kids without parents out of their current situation and placing them somewhere more stable. You know, maybe with a little more opportunity, even. I feel kind of weird putting "American" in quotes back there, but please know that I did it only to remind you that, if you click that link, you'll see he's speaking to one very specific community.
breitbart.comOrioles fans?
I don't think I need to remind you, since you did change your profile picture that one time so you already know, but it's a community that, for a long time, has felt like the people in power have not only ignored their problems but actively participated in making them worse.
So, what if, instead of selling deporting Mexican immigrants to fringe conspiracy theorists on the far right, he goes directly to the poorest inner-city neighborhoods and sells it as Mexicans taking opportunities that could just as easily be theirs? Remember, he's not just wanting to deport people here illegally currently; he wants no more birthright citizenship at all. Would that be retroactive to kids who already have it? I don't know, but he's devout in his claims that deporting illegal immigrants won't break up families, so you do the math.
And, make no mistake, filling the jobs left behind by immigrants being forced out of this country is absolutely a need he'll have to address. We learned that the hard way when Georgia imposed strict enforcement of bans on employing undocumented workers. Farmers quickly lost an astounding 40 percent of their workforce and, in turn, about $140 million in crops that were left untended due to labor shortages. When they tried to stop the bleeding by "allowing" prison inmates to do the work instead, the plan failed when most of them balked at being asked to perform such grueling tasks.
So ... he's going to sell teens on deporting immigrants by promising that they'll get sweet farming jobs that even criminals don't want?
Maybe a shot at washing a dish or two? Nope. Stripping away birthright citizenship wouldn't just drain the workforce; schools would feel it in a huge way as well, from grade school all the way through college. Maybe escaping the streets of Chicago to work on a farm isn't appealing enough to make any young voters vote yes on what definitely won't turn into a genocide situation of some sort, but going to college on the taxpayers dime somewhere in California might.
How's that for an uncomfortable situation for a liberal to be in? It's not like kids of illegal immigrants going to taxpayer-funded schools isn't a thing that comes up in the immigration debate. There's a Breitbart article about it and everything. What happens when Trump turns that around and asks his rivals to explain why children of illegal immigrants deserve that kind of thing more than children of parents who were born here? Parents who may not even be around anymore, because they live in a constant cycle of poverty and violence that consumes families on a daily basis. A cycle those kids are still forced to live in every day. What does the other side say to that? You can't exactly blame it on not wanting to send innocent kids back to a country that's overrun by guns and violence when you're addressing a demographic living under those exact conditions, you know? Who's speaking for them? Who can offer them some sort of hope or opportunity? I hate to say it, but at some point, the clearest answer to that question is going to be Donald Trump.
donaldjtrump.comOh, look, there's an eagle over his shoulder!
Remember, he wants to shut down immigration of all sorts, including those "welcoming" areas that let refugees from other countries seek refuge in their city and enjoy their taxpayer-funded social services. As I write this he's going on record to say he'd allow zero Syrian refugees in this country. So what becomes of those "sanctuary cities" that have programs in place that help immigrants and refugees assimilate to life in a new place with more opportunity? If I'm connecting the dots correctly, it sounds like they'll be expected to replace those refugees from foreign countries with refugees from poverty- and crime-ridden American cities, or risk having their government funding cut altogether.
Still, that is going to leave all those shitty farm jobs out there left to do. Who gets stuck with that work? Easy answer!
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El Chapo Is Reportedly Offering $100 Million for the Capture of Donald Trump "Dead or Alive" - Yahoo News
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:22
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Hillary had second secret email address | New York Post
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:24
A second secret email address used by Hillary Rodham Clinton while she was secretary of state was revealed Monday.
The email address, published by The New York Times, was used in exchanges between Clinton and longtime adviser Sydney Blumenthal, and is from the same private email server that was uncovered earlier this year.
''Fyi. The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered,'' Clinton wrote Blumenthal from the ­email address HRod17@clintonemail.com.
The two were discussing strategies to help the opposition rebels oust Moammar Khadafy in Libya as that country descended into chaos in 2011.
Clinton's office insisted just two months ago that the only private email address used by the former secretary of state during her tenure was hdr22@clintonemail.com.
In a 2015 letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Clinton's lawyer acknowledged that the HRod17 email address existed, but stated explicitly that it was ''not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.''
The time stamps and content of the messages make clear that this statement was inaccurate, according to the Times report.
The first private email use was seen as a breach of protocol. Clinton's advisers handed over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department so they could comply with an investigation. But, according to Vice News, those emails will not be made public until 2016.
Clinton admitted to deleting thousands of others, claiming they were personal.
The revelation of a second email address raises questions about Clinton's transparency and her relationship with Blumenthal.
The longtime Clinton confidant was not working at the State Department at the time, but advising American contractors that sought to do business in war-torn Libya.
In another email after Blumenthal suggested the new Libyan leader, Mohamed Magariaf, would ''seek a discrete relationship with Israel,'' Clinton wrote to her deputy Jake Sullivan, ''If true, this is encouraging. Should consider passing to Israelis,'' according to the Times.
Blumenthal's coordination with Clinton raises the likelihood of additional scrutiny as she runs for the White House.
While he was not given a job in the State Department by the Obama administration, Blumenthal was employed by Bill and Hillary Clinton's philanthropic organization, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research and ''message guidance,'' according to the Times.
At the same time, the Times reported, Blumenthal also was helping to craft Hillary's 2016 presidential campaign message by working as a consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge.
Bungling Surgeon Ben Carson Left Sponge In Patient's Brain! - The National Enquirer
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:19
Judging by White House wannabe Ben Carson's track record as a neurosurgeon, his presidential campaign should be declared dead on arrival!
In a bombshell investigation into his medical career, The National ENQUIRER has exclusively learned the now retired doc allegedly butchered one patient's brain '-- and EVEN left a sponge in another's skull!
According to at least six malpractice lawsuits against Carson obtained by The ENQUIRER, the Republican candidate allegedly rushed patients into surgery, and brandished a scalpel like a meat cleaver!
''He's totally untrustworthy!'' one former patient, Karly Bailey, told The ENQUIRER. The Florida woman claimed Carson spent ''maybe 14 minutes'' with her and her parents before performing a delicate brain tumor operation that ruined her life at age 9.
''My parents told him they weren't authorizing him to remove the whole tumor because of the risk,'' said Karly, now 27.
''But he did what he goddamned pleased! He tried to remove all of the tumor, and injured my nerves and brain stem.
''I was paralyzed on my right side. I've never fully recovered. I have chronic fatigue, and my eyes dance around. It's like having permanent vertigo. My face droops and people are really cruel.''
Karly's family slapped Carson '-- then director of pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital '-- with a lawsuit.
But in a 2011 affidavit, Carson shockingly called Karly's post-op problems ''unavoidable.''
The conservative candidate, 64, built his medical reputation on being the first surgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head.
But The ENQUIRER uncovered complaints about the married father of three dating back to 1986 '-- a year before his success with the twins.
One alleged bungled operation involved a patient identified as John P. Sparco. In court papers, he claimed Carson and three other surgeons operated on him to remove what they claimed was a deadly tumor.
The tiny tumor turned out to be benign and non''life-threatening. But during the procedure, he suffered ''irreversible'' injuries, including deafness in one ear, dizziness and slurred speech.
His lawyer said: ''To strangers he appears to be drunk.''
Carson was slammed for another alleged botched surgery in 1999. After he operated on a girl from Michigan, X-rays taken later at another hospital found the patient's severe post-op pain was the result of a shunt that was put in ''upside down.''
In another horrifying case, a 69-year-old Florida woman claimed her eardrums were perforated during a 2008 operation for facial pain performed by Carson's team.
When the pain recurred, Carson told the patient, Darlene King, that she might have a tumor. But surgery revealed the lump was actually ''a sponge he had left in (her) brain''!
Yet another Florida woman, Merryl Reynolds, accused Carson of negligence during 2010 spinal surgery on her 15-year-old son, Austin. He ''is now paralyzed from the waist down,'' she claimed.
Maryland patient Mary Perna, 58, consulted Carson in 1994 for side effects of multiple sclerosis. According to Mary, he said the cure was brain surgery.
When the surgery did nothing to help, she claimed Carson came into her hospital room ''in a highly agitated state,'' and admitted he hadn't reviewed pre-op MRIs. He allegedly said that if he had, ''We never would have done the (surgery).''
In March 2013, Carson announced he was retiring as a surgeon, saying: ''I'd much rather quit when I'm at the top of my game.''
Watch The Video Planned Parenthood And Its Media Allies Deny Exists
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:49
Carly Fiorina challenges Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others to watch the Planned Parenthood videos depicting organ harvesting.
At last night's CNN debate, Carly Fiorina did what the country's major media have by and large failed to do: She simply mentioned the horrifying videos showcasing Planned Parenthood's participation in the fetal organ harvesting trade:
''As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.''
After her powerful statement, Planned Parenthood and its public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker lobbied journalists to claim that Carly had made up her claims. Many complied. Here, for example, is the Washington Post's response:
Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility.
On the other hand, CNN said that Fiorina's claim was true but said it was misleading, since part if it is eyewitness testimony and part of it is images of aborted children. Others went full truther, such as this media outlet, which called it ''totally made up.'' Sarah Kliff, who gained fame for defending her failure to cover the story of Kermit Gosnell '-- a serial murderer and abortion doctor who snipped babies spinal cords after they were delivered '-- on the grounds it was just a ''local crime'' story), published a piece at Vox headlined ''Carly Fiorina is wrong about the Planned Parenthood Tapes. I know because I watched them.''
There have been 10 videos exposing Planned Parenthood since July. The media have struggled to cover most of the them, even though they are full of scandalous information about human organ harvesting. In addition to the 10 videos, lengthier footage of the hours-long meetings from which they were gleaned is also available. Everyone who cares about humanity should watch these videos, which are available here.
A few of the videos are graphic, such as this one which shows Planned Parenthood officials picking through a young boy who was recently aborted. This one also has graphic footage. The videos are very difficult to watch, such as this scene which shows a technician lifting the tiny hand and arm of a recently killed human.
As for Fiorina's quote, she is likely referring to the entirety of the 10 videos, including the seventh video released by the Center for Medical Progress. Watch the full video for yourself. It does, in fact, show a fully formed fetus, heart beating and legs kicking. And it shows this while Holly O'Donnell, a former organ harvester who worked for StemExpress at a Planned Parenthood affiliate, graphically discuss the harvesting of a brain from a baby whose heart was beating.
WARNING: This video contains graphic imagery of an aborted child and descriptions of harvesting a brain from a male baby whose heart was beating. It also shows a baby born alive at the same age as the baby whose face and head was cut open to harvest the brain.
This is by no means the only video, and other videos include far more graphic footage of aborted children. But the scandal is that the media never covered the shocking claims of this video, not that Fiorina brought them to people's attention.
At CNN debate, Carly Fiorina urges others to watch Planned Parenthood videos | PolitiFact
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:47
One of the Planned Parenthood videos shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.' "
'-- Carly Fiorina on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 in the CNN debate
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Following the release of several videos claiming to prove Planned Parenthood illegally profits off of aborted fetal tissue, many anti-abortion politicians have called for cutting off federal funding to the women's health organization. At the second Republican debate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina laid out defunding Planned Parenthood as a priority.
"I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes," she said on the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Sept. 16. "Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.' "
The videos, which amount to at least a dozen hours, are produced by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. They primarily show people posing as tissue brokers and talking with Planned Parenthood employees about procuring fetal tissue for medical research.
Fiorina's claim makes it sound like there is actual footage of Planned Parenthood examining an aborted fetus whose heart is still beating, while someone says "we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." There isn't.
Fiorina is likely talking about this 10-minute Aug. 19 video. (Warning: The video contains extremely gruesome footage.) The video shows an interview with a woman talking about a scene similar to the one Fiorina describes; the video's creators have matched her interview with grisly stock footage of a fetus outside the womb.
In the video, the Center for Medical Progress interviews a woman identified as Holly O'Donnell, a former procurement technician for StemExpress. StemExpress is a biomedical company that previously worked with Planned Parenthood to collect tissue for medical research, but the company ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood amid the ongoing controversy.
O'Donnell talks about a time when she saw a fully-formed aborted fetus, with its heart still beating, in a pathology lab at a California Planned Parenthood clinic while she was on a job.
"I'm sitting here looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don't know what to think," O'Donnell said. According to O'Donnell, her supervisor then told her they would procure the brain because the fetus was well-preserved.
The Center for Medical Progress video does not show actually show footage of O'Donnell's experience, and there's nothing else in the video to corroborate O'Donnell's story. Additionally, the supervisor in O'Donnell's story does not say anything about keeping the fetus alive specifically for the purpose of harvesting the brain.
To dramatize O'Donnell's interview, the video cuts to a fetus outside the womb, placed on what appears to be some sort of examination surface, and the fetus' legs are moving. The Center for Medical Progress says the source of the footage is the Grantham Collection, an organization that hopes to stem abortion by promoting graphic images of the procedure. We don't know the circumstances behind this video: where it came from, under what conditions it was obtained, or even if this fetus was actually aborted (as opposed to a premature birth or miscarriage).
Our ruling
Fiorina said one of the Planned Parenthood videos shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."
One of the Center for Medical Progress' videos attacking Planned Parenthood shows an interview with a woman identified as a former tissue procurement technician, who tells about an experience in a Planned Parenthood pathology lab where she sees a fetus outside the womb with its heart still beating. According to the woman, her supervisor said they would procure the fetus' brain. The video's creators added footage of an aborted fetus on what appears to be an examination table, and its legs are moving. But Fiorina makes it sound as if the footage shows what Planned Parenthood is alleged to have done. In fact, the stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content. We rate her statement Mostly False.
Fetus Video Referenced by Carly Fiorina Released in Full | TIME
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:46
The video that Carly Fiorina graphically described at the last Republican presidential debate, depicting a moving fetus on a table following an apparent abortion, was released online in its entirety Tuesday morning, according to Gregg Cunningham, the founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, who collected the footage.
Cunningham, an anti-abortion activist, declined to identify the date, location or authors of the video in an interview with TIME Monday night, saying his group makes agreements of confidentiality in an effort to acquire images of abortions. He also made no claim that the images shown in the video had anything to do with Planned Parenthood, the organization that Fiorina and others have targeted for federal defunding. ''I am neither confirming or denying the affiliation of the clinic who did this abortion,'' Cunningham said.
During the debate on Sept. 16, Fiorina denounced the images on videos that had been produced by a separate group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). ''As regards [to] Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,'' she said. ''Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.''
No video released by the Center for Medical Progress showed the image Fiorina described, but one of the CMP videos does include a brief edited clip from the video Cunningham released on Tuesday, showing a fetus on a stainless steel background with its leg moving.
David Daleiden, who created the Center for Medical Progress videos, edited in the Cunningham footage to illustrate a story that he had been told on camera of a medical technician witnessing an abortion that resulted in an extracted fetus with moving legs and beating heart.
The full source video, which is extremely graphic, lasts about 13 minutes, and shows a fetus being extracted from the mother, placed in a metal bowl, prodded with medical instruments and handled by someone in the room. At times the fetus appears to move, and at other times it appears to have a pulse. There are no images on the full video of any attempt to harvest the brain of the fetus, and there is no sound. Cunningham said the jump cuts in the video are the result of the camera being turned off and on.
Cunningham says he is confident the procedure was an abortion, and not a miscarriage, owing to the lack of medical treatment offered to the fetus. He said he estimated the age of the fetus at about 17 and a half weeks. ''It is unimaginably more horrifying than the clip that we licensed for CMP to use and that Carly Fiorina made reference to in the debate,'' Cunningham said.
A retired Air Force Reserve colonel and former Pennsylvania state representative, Cunningham founded the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform with the aim of spreading images of abortions and fetal remains, in an effort to shift the national debate. He said he worked as an intelligence officer at the Pentagon, where he learned the importance of using graphic images in wartime propaganda to establish popular sympathy for victims and anger at enemies.
His group, he said, had gathered hundreds of hours of abortion footage and thousands of still photos. Many are published online. ''My hat is off to David Daleiden,'' Cunningham said. ''What he has managed to accomplish is to shift the terms of the debate away from choice to a visualization of what is being chosen.''
UPDATE: Hours after the publication of the video, several medical experts raised questions about whether the video showed an abortion or a miscarriage. Current medical guidelines do not call for resuscitation of a fetus at 17 and a half weeks. For a fuller discussion of the accepted medical practice, click here.
Caitlyn Jenner Claims She No Longer Feels Like A Woman And Asks Everyone To Call Her Bruce Again
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 11:28
Talk about flip-flopping! Bruce Jenner AKA Caitlyn Jenner is making headlines again. Sources close to Jenner have disclosed that she's now having doubts whether she's really a woman and is in the process of asking everyone to call her Bruce again. Jenner claims that after lots of soul searching, she is certain about this decision.
Earlier this year, Bruce Jenner made national headlines when he revealed on a 20/20 interview that he was going through a gender transition. Jenner's announcement was a huge victory for the LGBT community that was lacking a high profile celebrity. Jenner, is a retired professional athlete who won the men's decathlon at the 1976 Olympics and a member of the notorious Kardashian family.
Coming out as LGBT is definitely a courageous but nerve wrecking experience which enables a person to live a more authentic life. Let's hope that this is a final decision for Bruce and that he's completely comfortable with himself now.
This week’s edition of In Touch Magazine reveals that Caitlyn attended a party at Transparent actress Judith Light’s home, and after she had a few drinks in her – she transformed back in to Bruce! An insider at the party dished to the tabloid, “Caitlyn started drinking – a lot – and it wasn’t long before she was disheveled, as the night went on she looked more and more like a man. She acted like a total wino, she polished off a couple of bottles of chardonnay herself, and didn’t even bother to touch up her make-up.”
Shut Up Slave!
Minister jumps in garish orange socks - here's the explanation - MX.dk
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:11
Sundheds- og ...ldreminister Sophie L¸hde fra Venstre er i dag hoppet i et par skrigende orange sokker med teksten "#Depressionsucks - Ta' snakken".
FAKTA OM DEPRESSION' 33 % af alle 16-24-¥rige oplever at f¸le sig deprimeret, ulykkelig eller nedtrykt' En depression i ungdoms¥rene ¸ger risikoen for at udvikle en depression i voksenlivet med 2-3 gange' Kun 35 % af unge med en depression s¸ger hj...lp' Det estimeres, at 60 % af alle, der fors¸ger selvmord, har en ubehandlet depressionKilde: Depressionsforeningen
Det er nemlig European Depression Day, og det markerer DepressionsForeningen med kampagnen #Depressionsucks.
L†S OGS…: 26-¥rige Cille: Er livet overhovedet v...rd at leve?
"Jeg har taget sokkerne p¥, fordi det her er for vigtigt til at lade v...re. Vi skal turde 'ta' snakken', n¥r livet g¸r rigtig ondt, for tabu og tavshed g¸r det ikke nemmere at komme igennem en depression '' tv...rtimod," skriver ministeren i en mail til metroxpress.
Form¥let med kampagnen er nemlig at bryde tabuet om depression blandt unge. Forekomsten af depression hos b¸rn og unge er nemlig stigende, samtidig med at debutalderen er faldende.
L†S OGS…: Nye tal: S¥ meget koster sygdom det danske samfund
Selvom det m¥ske ikke er de mest moderigtige sokker, har Sophie L¸hde t...nkt sig at beholde sokkerne p¥ resten af dagen.
"De luner jo dejligt p¥ en lidt k¸lig efter¥rsdag. Derfor har jeg dem p¥ hele dagen, senest under mit m¸de med Bedre Psykiatri i formiddags. Og de kommer selvf¸lgelig ogs¥ med ud p¥ min l¸betur med statsministeren i eftermiddag."
L†S OGS…: Ekspert: Derfor skal du ikke v...re bange for at spise kage
Og ministeren er ikke den eneste, der har taget sokkerne p¥ i dagens anledning. P¥ Instagram kan man se en del danskere g¸re det samme.
"Ta' snakken - Talk about it," skriver Instagrambrugeren t_i_t_t_i_ for eksempel til dette billede.
L†S OGS…: Hver tredje voldt...gtsoffer f¥r PTSD
L†S OGS…: Han var sekunder fra selvmord: S¥dan reddede hunden hans liv
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MK (Mind Kontrolle) Ultra Program: PsyOps & Satanic ...https://intheknow7.wordpress.com/mk-ultra-monarch-program-basic-info/Harriman (BBH) Bob Hope was a sadistic Monarch Mind Control Prog'mr who .... the image of the orange/black/white insect and those specific color combos act ...AMERICA'S HORRIFYING SECRET........MIND CONTROL.theconspiracyzone.podcastpeople.com/posts/28155Oct 3, 2012 -Mind control is also known as satanic ritual abuse and Near Death Torture. ..... and then implemented at China Lake was color programming, which will ..... An orange book is used to specify some of the NSA's security levels.Another Side of The Music Industry: Monarch Mind Control ...www.collective-evolution.com/.../monarch-mind-control-popular-music/Oct 8, 2013 - In full, Monarch Mind Control (MMC) is noted as a mind control ..... pillars in the Tree of Life '' White, Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Clear. Each color was assigned a personality and a job and then walled off with amnesia.WIZARD OF OZ and the ILLUMINATI MIND CONTROLIn step with Wizard of Oz mind-control programming, the wicked witch ... The Rainbow--with its seven colors have long had an occult significance of being a great ..... four slices of bread and butter, a small custard pie, an orange and nine large ...MK Ultra | Marijuana Strain Reviews | AllBudhttps://www.allbud.com/marijuana-strains/hybrid/mk-ultraRating: 3.8 - 'Ž9 votes
MK Ultra is an Indica dominant medicinal marijuana strain that has ultra-strong ... It has a leafy appearance that is green in color with hues of brown and orange.
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Burger King's Halloween Black Whopper Is Causing Green Poop
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:55
Burger King is a rainbow of surprises these days.
The company recently unveiled a black Whopper for Halloween, a version of the chain's signature sandwich served on a dark bun. But people who eat the A.1. Halloween Whopper say it goes in one color... and comes out another.
Not everyone is put off by the goblin-green Halloween side effect. In fact, several customers seem to be looking forward to it:
One note of caution: Use care when scrolling through the #GreenPoop hashtag as some people are posting visual evidence.
Also on HuffPost:
Dartmouth Removes New Native American Head Amid Ethnicity Questions - WSJ
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:50
Dartmouth College has removed the new director of its Native American Program after tribal officials and alumni accused her of misrepresenting herself as an American Indian.
The Ivy League school hired Susan Taffe Reed last month to serve as a liaison between the college and Native Americans, saying her role as president of the Eastern Delaware Nations would be instrumental in helping guide Indian students.
But her appointment...
Analysis help provided by 'Phantom'
A NASA Experiment Is Going to Light Up the Sky With Beautifully Colored Clouds Tonight
'The vapors will be ejected from a sounding rocket launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA explains that it has actually been injecting various vapor tracers into the atmosphere since the 1950s—these trails help scientists understand “the naturally occurring flows of ionized and neutral particles” in the upper atmosphere by injecting color tracers and tracking the flow across the sky.'
'Tonight, NASA says it’s ejecting four different payloads of a mix of barium and strontium, creating “a cloud with a mixture of blue-green and red color.”'
Tracers - Clouds and Trails
'Commonly used vapors that are released in space are:
Tri-methyl aluminum (TMA),
Lithium, and
According to the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (http://nano.pse.umass.edu/), Trimethylaluminum:
'Highly flammable liquid and vapour', 'Catches fire spontaneously if exposed to air', 'In contact with water releases flammable gases' and 'Causes severe skin burns and eye damage'.
It should also, according to the Center, not be allowed 'contact with air'.
ISIS' cash-flow problem
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:30
The ISIS economy is struggling.
A little more than a year after declaring an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the extremist group is having a hard time keeping the promises it made to those living in its territory, Newsweek reports.
Experts and caliphate residents told Newsweek there was a widening income gap between ISIS fighters and average civilians, which is breeding more resentment among those under ISIS control.
Some of the cash crunch comes from falling oil prices and airstrikes targeting oil facilities, and sources contend that ISIS spends more on weapons than on fulfilling the needs of the people living under its control.
To make up for its reported drop in revenue, ISIS is said to rely more on taxation, the group's main source of income.
About 8 million people live in ISIS' self-declared caliphate, according to Newsweek.
A brain drain is also hobbling the ISIS economy, however. The extremists have restrictive laws in place about women in the workplace, Newsweek notes. There has also been a "steady departure of professionals" from ISIS territory, according to the magazine. With so many people fleeing, there are fewer people for ISIS to tax.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, confirmed this to Business Insider last week.
"The people who have highly desirable skill sets like doctors are fleeing," Gartenstein-Ross said. "The oil industry ... is another area where they haven't preserved the level of talent that they need."
Even though ISIS relies on taxation as its main form of revenue, oil brings in a lot of money as well. The group brought in an estimated $100 million in 2014 from selling crude on the black market.
ISW/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
The brain drain also hurts ISIS' claims that it provides all the services of a self-sustaining government.
"If people are leaving because of ISIS' inability to provide basic governance, that calls their legitimacy into question," Gartenstein-Ross said.
The cost of local services and everyday items in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has risen dramatically since ISIS took over, according to Newsweek.
"Before ISIS came, 1 liter of fuel was 30 cents; now it is $2," Sayf Saeed, a dental student who left Mosul for Baghdad in June, told Newsweek. "A container of cooking gas was $5; now it's $25."
ISIS' claims to help the poor also aren't holding up.
"The only relief kitchen is run by locals," Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, an activist from Raqqa, Syria, told Newsweek. "Every day there's a line round the block. They give out one meal a day to the starving."
Residents are also struggling to pay the taxes and financial penalties that ISIS has imposed.
Part of ISIS' revenue loss might stem from the Iraqi government's decision to stop paying the salaries of government employees working in ISIS-controlled areas. ISIS most likely made hundreds of millions of dollars from imposing taxes of up to 50% on the salaries of government employees, according to Newsweek.
APISIS fighters parading down a main road at the northern city of Mosul in 2014.
With people fleeing and the Iraqi government fighting to keep worker salaries out of the hands of ISIS militants, the extremist group looks to have a cash-flow problem.
The nonprofit Rand Corporation estimated that ISIS brought in $1.2 billion in 2014, but nearly half of that was one-time money that came from robbing Iraqi banks.
Paying fighters alone could cost up to $360 million a year, according to Newsweek. This means that as more people flee ISIS territory and taxation revenue dries up, ISIS will have a problem funding its planned expansion.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that the caliphate will collapse anytime soon.
"ISIS is happy to run a state that's a lot like the Taliban's rule of Afghanistan in the 1990s," Ben Bahney, an international policy analyst at Rand, told Newsweek. "This is mostly about implementing its version of the rule of law, which requires bodies and guns much more than bricks and mortar."
Jeremy Corbyn accused of snubbing the Queen after rejecting Privy Council invitation - ITV News
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:52
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. Credit: PA WireJeremy Corbyn is facing fresh questions over whether he will pledge allegiance to the Queen in person after refusing an invite to be sworn into the Privy Council.
The Labour leader, a stanch Republican, turned down the chance to attend a meeting of the council on Thursday because of "private engagements", his spokesperson said.
Membership of the group is granted to the leader of the opposition to allow them to receive secret briefings from the security services.
Mr Corbyn's decision will increase speculation over whether he is willing to kneel before the Queen and swear an oath of allegiance to her - traditional protocol for when a new member is appointed.
Jeremy was invited but couldn't make it due to private engagements.
'' Spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn
The Queen helps appoint leaders of the opposition to the Privy Council. Credit: PA WireThe Islington MP could try to avoid the process altogether by joining the body without ever having to meet the Queen, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper claims Mr Corbyn may attempt to use a loophole which allows the Privy Council to appoint a new member without them being present - a method only previously used for members based overseas.
An unnamed member of the Council is quoted as saying:
Firstly it is deeply insulting and secondly it is not grown up '' not to go to see the monarch is just extraordinary.
I am sure that what they would have done is not make him kneel.
But what this really means is that he is not prepared to put himself in the position of a serious leader who can be trusted.
'' Source speaking to The Telegraph
Jeremy Corbyn comprehensively won the Labour leadership election. Credit: ITV NewsA spokesperson for the Labour leader said no alternative date had yet been set for the process and that he was "unsure" about the protocol of by-passing the need to swear the oath on purpose.
Shortly after his landslide victory in the Labour leadership election, Mr Corbyn, 67, said he would have to consult with colleagues about how to approach the kneeling part of the ceremony.
"I didn't know that was involved actually....It's the first I've heard about it and I want to discuss that with colleagues, the whole process", he said.
Last month, Mr Corbyn was heavily criticised for not singing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain commemoration.
David Cameron accused Mr Corbyn of having "Britain-hating" ideology Britain in a highly personal attack in his speech to the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday.
Last updated Thu 8 Oct 2015
From Pope Francis to Angela Merkel: the top contenders for the 2015 Nobel '‹peace '‹prize | World news | The Guardian
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:31
Pope Francis, John Kerry, Angela Merkel and Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The winner of this year's Nobel peace prize is to be named on Friday morning, putting an end to a period of speculation and volatile betting. Past experience, however, suggests that bookies' odds are an unreliable guide: the Oslo-based prize committee has shown itself to be leak-proof, inscrutable and quite capable of springing surprises, such as the award to Barack Obama only a few months into his tenure, and to the European Union in 2012.
Adding to the intrigue, the committee was embroiled in an unprecedented internal coup in March, when its Labour party chairman of five years was ousted by rightwingers and replaced by a former Conservative party leader and business executive, Kaci Kullmann Five. The committee's decision on Friday will be scrutinised, in Norway at least, for signs of the political pendulum swinging.
Here are some of the contenders for this year's prize:
Pope FrancisThe Argentinian pontiff surged into the running after it emerged the Vatican had played a key role in brokering the re-establishment of relations between the US and Cuba last December. His successful visit to both countries last month and his enthusiastic embracing of the causes of social justice and stopping climate change have not hindered his chances, either.
His odds are improved by general popularity, a friendly demeanour and apparent flexibility on the interpretation of some Catholic dogma, such as the ban on the ordination of married priests. The image was tarnished somewhat by the news that he had met a Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who had become a figurehead for American religious hardliners because of her refusal to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.
On the other hand, it transpired he had also given an audience to a former pupil and his same-sex partner on the same US visit. His adherence to the Vatican's line on the role of women would make him a hard sell in Norway.
Angela MerkelThe German chancellor has recently emerged as one of the bookies' favourites after opening her country's doors to refugees, a decision that could provide haven for more than 800,000 people fleeing the Syrian conflict and other wars. It was a dramatic gesture that served to highlight the miserly response of most other European leaders and triggered extraordinary scenes at railway and bus stations as Germans turned out to welcome the new arrivals.
While the emotional power of such scenes helped make Merkel a frontrunner, it cannot hurt, either, that she hails from the same centre-right political camp as the Nobel chairwoman. On the negative side, Merkel's open-door policy has created strains and tensions among the state governments hosting the refugees.
Train services from Austria have been suspended and border controls introduced in some places to mitigate the influx of people, forcing Merkel on to the defensive. Greece, which has found itself on the wrong end of her penchant for fiscal austerity, would not take kindly to her winning, nor presumably would be the many migrants from the Balkans now facing deportation and reduced benefits.
John Kerry and Mohammad Javad ZarifUntil the refugee crisis in Europe reached its climax over the summer, the US secretary of state and the Iranian foreign minister looked to be obvious favourites for the prize. Over two years of intensive diplomacy the two men crafted a deal on Iran's nuclear programme that many had thought impossible.
In the course of countless late nights in a succession of European cities, during which Kerry and Zarif, representatives of two hostile nations, came to spend more time with each other than with any other foreign official, they overcame the enormous technical complexity of the issue and the entrenched opposition from hardliners at home.
The deal has since been endorsed by the UN security council and survived critical scrutiny in the US and Iranian legislatures. It was a victory for tenacious diplomacy, and its supporters argue, with some justification, it averted another war in the Middle East as well as being a significant victory against nuclear proliferation. On the other hand, the agreement has yet to begin being implemented and is the subject of ongoing, bitter attack from US Republicans and the Israeli government.
Much will depend on whether the new majority on the Nobel committee minds offending these constituencies by awarding the Obama administration a second prize.
Mussie ZeraiMussie ZeraiThis Eritrean priest set up a hotline for refugees from his country and beyond who found themselves in peril on the dangerous journey to Europe. He set up a centre to field calls from north Africa and from leaky, drifting boats on the Mediterranean.
He has meanwhile become an advocate for refugees in the face of poor conditions and hostility across much of Europe. If the Nobel committee was looking for an everyman hero, Zerai could fit the bill. On Tuesday, Paddy Power had him as their joint favourite, along with the the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Odds on both: 6/1.
Denis MukwegeDenis MukwegeThe Congolese gynaecologist has been on the Nobel committee's radar for several years for his determined and often lonely work with rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was awarded the European parliament's Sakharov prize for human rights work in 2014. Could his next award be the Nobel?
Victor OchenVictor OchenThe 33-year-old youth activist is a survivor of the chronic conflict and insecurity of northern Uganda, having seen his elder brother abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group. He set up the African Youth Initiative Network to work with other child victims and help them recover from their trauma.
Who would you like to see win the Nobel peace prize?Let us know in the comments or via the form below. We will use your nominations in a future piece.
Agenda 2030
Perfect! Bill Nye connects global warming to movie 'The Martian' and gets burned
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 20:40
The good news: Bill Nye has at least temporarily stopped lecturing about abortion ''science.'' The bad news: He's returned to lecturing about ''climate change'' with the help of a recently released fictional movie:
He's totally on to something you guys:
Doesn't Nye have another planet-saving private flight to catch or something?
Ministry of Truth
FBI '-- Owner of Polygraph.com Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Training Customers to Lie
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 15:41
WASHINGTON'--A former Oklahoma City law enforcement officer and the owner of Polygraph.com has been sentenced to two years in prison for training customers to lie and conceal crimes and other misconduct during polygraph examinations.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Assistant Commissioner Matthew Klein of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Internal Affairs and Special Agent in Charge Scott L. Cruse of the FBI's Oklahoma City Division made the announcement.
Douglas G. Williams, 69, of Norman, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty on May 13, 2015, to two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering. Chief U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the Western District of Oklahoma imposed the sentence.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Williams owned and operated Polygraph.com, an Internet-based business through which he trained people how to conceal misconduct and other disqualifying information when submitting to polygraph examinations in connection with federal employment suitability assessments, background investigations, internal agency investigations and other proceedings. In particular, Williams admitted that he trained an individual posing as a federal law enforcement officer to lie and conceal involvement in criminal activity from an internal agency investigation. Williams also admitted to training a second individual, posing as an applicant seeking federal employment, to lie and conceal crimes in a pre-employment polygraph examination. Williams also admitted to instructing the individuals to deny receiving his polygraph training.
The investigation was conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Internal Affairs and the FBI's Oklahoma City Division. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Heidi Boutros Gesch and Brian K. Kidd of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section.
Rage Against the Machine bassist thinks ISIS, moon landing are fake
Sat, 03 Oct 2015 15:21
What's This?
Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine's performs at Coachella in Indio, Calif., on April 29, 2007.Image: AP Photo/Branimir Kvartuc/Associated Press
By Yohana Desta2015-10-02 22:10:57 UTC
Wake up, sheeple. Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford has some theories about ISIS and the moon landing.
The rocker and self-described "conspiracy theorist" doesn't believe the violent terrorist group ISIS or the 1969 moon landing are real. In a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone, Commerford shared his conspiratorial theories about why neither is to be believed.
Here are his views on ISIS:
"I don't believe that all the different factions in the Middle East have gotten together and said, 'OK, we all hate each other and we all hate America, so let's all put on the ISIS uniform and join forces and just become ISIS.' That's a bunch of shit. I don't believe the Jihadi John beheading video. Go look at those videos and study them, and see if you don't think they're fake."
He also has a theory about the (extremely gruesome) videos ISIS has released:
"They're not real. They're high-def. They have a soundtrack. The parts of those videos that you couldn't fake are edited out. At first, I thought it was edited out by our government so our kids wouldn't be seeing it on the Internet, but no. That's the way those videos came. The knife starts to cut the neck, and then it fades out. There's too much stuff that doesn't look real. They've edited out the parts that would be too hard to fake. We created Jihadi John and ISIS so we can go drop bombs."
He also believes the victims murdered by ISIS in the gruesome videos were "already dead." It's not just the fault of the government, he says, but something much worse, "a global conspiracy of people whose names we'll never know, but they're the ones who really run the show because they're the ones with the deepest pockets."
Then, there are his theories about the moon landing, which he says never actually happened:
"I can't help but look at the lunar landing and go, 'We didn't go to the moon.' We never went there. My dad worked for NASA on the Apollo missions, and I've always felt it's been fake since I was a kid. The one thing I always questioned: We put the flag on the moon. Why did we put a metal rod on the top of it? Why wouldn't we just plant it into the moon's surface and have the astronaut pull it out and let it go and we can watch it do its dance on the moon? It would've been an image we couldn't have faked and one that we would have never forgotten."
He's also shared this theory with others ... namely Buzz Aldrin, better known as the second human in history to walk on the moon.
"I got into it with Buzz Aldrin five years ago at a John Cusack movie premiere. There were a bunch of people gathered around, and I said, "I have a question: You have all these missions to the moon. How come there's no pictures of the flags on the moon?" He said, "Well, those are highly degraded by radiation by now." I said, "You left a lot of stuff on the moon. It seems that somebody with a telescope or satellite would snap a picture of that so we could see it. It'd be on the cover of every newspaper."
For some reason, this "frustrated" Aldrin, who ended up leaving the premiere.
Well, at least we know Commerford definitely believes Limp Bizkit is real.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Topics: Entertainment, Islamic State, Music, rage against the machine
NA-Tech News
Allowing acceptable ads in Adblock Plus
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:52
What is this about?Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising not considered annoying to be viewed. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way.
Have you already signed our Acceptable Ads Manifesto?
Why is this feature enabled by default?Unfortunately, this is the only way to accomplish the goals described above. But if the majority of Adblock Plus users have this function activated, advertisers will have the incentive to produce better ads.
But I hate all ads!No problem, you can disable this feature at any time. To do so:
On Firefox: click the Adblock Plus icon and choose Filter Preferences from the menu. Uncheck "Allow non-intrusive advertising" and you are done.
On Chrome: right-click the Adblock Plus icon in the address bar on the right, then choose Options and uncheck "Allow non-intrusive advertising."
On Opera: click the Opera menu button in the left corner at the top (on OS X: click Window at the top), choose Extensions, find Adblock Plus there, click on Options and uncheck "Allow non-intrusive advertising."
On Internet Explorer: click the Adblock Plus icon in the status bar on the right, then choose Options and uncheck "Allow non-intrusive advertising."
On Safari: click the Adblock Plus icon in the address bar on the left, choose Options, and uncheck "Allow non-intrusive advertising"
On Android: click the Adblock Plus icon in the notification bar at the top, then uncheck "Acceptable Ads / Allow some non-intrusive advertising."
Which ads are "acceptable"?We currently have the following requirements:
Static advertisements only (no animations, sounds or similar)Preferably text only, no attention-grabbing imagesAd placement:Ads should never obscure page content (e.g. require users to click a button to close the ad before viewing the page).For pages featuring a reading text ads should not be placed in the middle, where they interrupt the reading flow. However, they can be placed above the text content, below it or on the sides. The same applies to search results pages: paid search results cannot be mixed with organic results.When ads are placed above the content of a main page, they should not require the user to scroll down. The available vertical space is likely to be at least 700 pixels. Advertising should not occupy more than one-third of that height. Paid search results on search pages are allowed to occupy more space, but they should never outnumber organic results.When placed on the side ads should leave enough space for the main content. The available horizontal space can be expected to be at least 1000 pixels, and advertising should not occupy more than a third of that width.Advertising should be clearly marked as such with the word "advertising" or its equivalent, and it should be distinguishable from page content, for instance via a border and/or different a background color.Marking and placement requirements do not apply for hyperlinks with affiliate referrer IDs embedded in the content of the page. Additional criteria for hyperlinks with affiliate referrer IDs:Redirects originating from the hyperlink should not present any other webpage than the destination page.In texts, not more than 2 percent of the words can be hyperlinked for monetization purposes.Hyperlinks should not be formatted or behave differently than other links.Hyperlinks should not be misleading, in either content or placement.These criteria are not necessarily final; we are always working at improving them. In particular, we want to require that every user's privacy is respected (e.g. mandatory Do Not Track support). However, we are not yet in a position to enforce that requirement.
Will all "acceptable" ads be unblocked?No. Unfortunately, it isn't technically possible to recognize ads that meet our Acceptable Ads criteria automatically. We have agreements with some websites and advertisers which stipulate that only advertising matching our criteria will be displayed when Adblock Plus users visit these particular sites. These ads will be unblocked, i.e. added to the Acceptable Ads exception list which is enabled per default.
No applicant will be favored or treated differently, and no one can buy their way onto the whitelist. Everyone has to comply with the criteria and everyone has to go through the same process before the ads qualify as "acceptable."
What if an ad is allowed that doesn't meet the requirements?Please report it as you usually would. If an advertiser abuses his placement on the exception list we can always remove it from the list.
How can I see what you are allowing?The "Allow non-intrusive advertising" checkbox simply adds one more filter subscription to your list. You can view the filters here. Also, the special treatment of this filter subscription - which was added for reasons of usability - can be disabled by going to "about:config" and changing the extensions.adblockplus.subscriptions_exceptionscheckbox preference to false. This will allow you to view the filters for this subscription as usual.
Do you have questions or suggestions concerning this list? Feel free to get in touch with the community in our forum or contact us directly via email.
How can I get my website whitelisted?The process of getting your ads whitelisted takes about 10 working days:
If your website has ads that comply with the Acceptable Ads criteria, simply fill out this form.Someone from Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, will contact you to determine the exact ads, and check whether they comply with our criteria.After you have made any necessary changes, both sides sign an agreement.We submit the whitelisting proposal in the forum and the ads are whitelisted at the same time. The topic will stay open in order for the community to declare concerns if and when the candidate does not meet the requirements.Are you stupid? Nobody wants this!The results of our user survey say something different. According to it, only 25 percent of Adblock Plus users are strictly against any advertising. They will disable this feature and that's fine. The other users replied that they would accept some kinds of advertising to help websites. Some users are even asking for a way to enable Adblock Plus on some websites only.
acceptable ads manifesto
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:54
We, the undersigned, want to make the Internet a better place for everyone. We'll start by getting rid of obnoxious ads.
To preface, we don't philosophically dislike advertising '' much of it is entertaining and even useful. And certainly a lot of the free stuff we enjoy on the Internet owes its existence to the advertisers who support those websites.
But we don't want obtrusive pop-ups, or obnoxious blinking ads, or 30-second pre-roll video ads running amok on our computers and mobile phones. We wouldn't tolerate that in the physical world; why should we accept them just because it's digital? Imagine a billboard jumping in front of your car while on the freeway, or a newspaper ad suddenly opening up and covering all the words you are reading. Why should online ads get special treatment? Moreover, the noisier that online ads get, the more people install adblockers to stop them. It's an unwinnable, downward spiral.
We believe that advertisers, ad agencies and ad networks all have both a responsibility and an opportunity to create ads that are respectful of users and therefore less inclined to be avoided. We call them ''Acceptable Ads,'' and they were first developed by Adblock Plus over months of conversation with active users of their open source add-on. There is actually a market incentive that favors these acceptable ads, because these are the ads that are most welcomed, least blocked and most viewed. Everybody wins.
So here are the principal tenets of our Acceptable Ads Manifesto:
1) Acceptable Ads are not annoyingPeople don't need to be tricked into clicking. Advertising can rise above the noise by being useful '' and even tasteful. The blinking and jiggling just annoys the real buyers, which means the people who do click did it either out of curiosity or because they are an unsupervised 6-year-old. Either way, an intrusive ad is not going to generate a sale '' and it might just get you some negative press and ill will.
2) Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort page contentUsers can very well become interested in an ad, but advertising is not the reason one visits a website. You visit a site for its content, and therefore the page should not be sullied by ads that disrupt or obscure that content without permission '' pop-ups and pop-unders, pre-roll video ads and the like. When ad placement and structure are done well, they may actually inspire you to explore more without resorting to nasty tricks.
3) Acceptable Ads are transparent with us about being an adIf it's an advertisement, just say so! There's a place for ads, and there's a place for editorial. And there's even a place for
advertorials or native ads if they're not camouflaged as editorial content. Good stuff is always welcome, but it needs to be genuine.4) Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting at usWe could be in the library, or on an airplane, or in a meeting '... you never know when we're going to click on an ad. So please don't embarrass us with blaring sounds by default. If we want to listen, we'll click.
5) Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site we are onWebsite publishers need to manage the user experience with the user's benefit in mind: don't let inadvertently selected advertisers harm your brand. Accepting just any kind of ad to be shown on your website might be profitable in the short term, but allowing advertisers to compromise the user experience with obnoxious ads '' or even scams '' will not pay off in the long run. In short, Acceptable Ads aim to be appropriate to the audience of the site they are displayed on.
In summary, Acceptable Ads are the ones we, the users, decide we acceptWhy have more than 300 million consumers installed adblocking software on their computers? To stop annoying advertisements! Unfortunately, blocking all ads deprives legitimate websites of critical revenue, and stops perfectly good advertising from being seen. Fortunately, users can whitelist the websites and ad networks that present only Acceptable Ads, which means you can use adblockers selectively to tip the balance in favor of ads that truly inform. You are in control!
With your vote-up of this manifesto, we can encourage advertisers, ad agencies, publishers, websites and their users to come together and support these guidelines for Acceptable Ads. Collectively, we can make the Internet a better place for everyone. We invite you to join us!
Signed, the Members of the Acceptable Ad Coalition:
redditCustomer CommonsPageFairThe Anti-Advertising AgencyAdblock Plus (eyeo)
ADBLOCK PLUS-Wladimir Palant - Google Search
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:58
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Slowly Africa joins the Internet fast lane | Africa | DW.COM | 20.09.2012
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:49
Glass fiber optic cables are bringing broadband to the larger African cities, delighting users and inspiring hope of future progress. But the majority of Africans are still denied any sort of Internet access.
When asked which African countries are not connected to the new glass fibre optic network, engineer Ali Drissa Badiel has to pause for thought. He works in Addis Ababa for the UN's International Telecommunications Union and advises countries in sub-Saharan Africa on expanding and improving their telecommunications networks.
"Almost all African countries are in the process of connecting up to the glass fiber optic network," Badiel told DW. "Data transmission via fiber optics is far better than the old microwave system they used to have," he said.
Undersea cables
Not so long ago, if you wanted to transport the Internet across large distances, you had to accept that the rate of data transmission would be slow. Sub-Saharan Africa had to battle with congested networks and breakdowns. But two years ago the undersea fibre optic cable EASSy (Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System) went into operation. It runs along the East African coast connecting 21 countries to the rest of the world, some of which (such as Ethiopia and Sudan) are being networked up for the first time.
WACS (West Africa Cable System), which has been in operation since May, is even more impressive. It runs from South Africa along the West African coast to Europe.
Education could benefit from increased broadband access
Only coastal states are connected directly to the cable and they pass on their Internet access to neighboring countries in the interior. Regional bodies such as ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) are responsible for coordinating this.
"Burkina Faso has access to the glass fiber optic network via Ivory Coast and Togo, Mali is connected up via Senegal and Niger via Benin," Badiel explains. Answering our initial question, he says he knows of only one African country not connected up to the world's broadband network - "the newly independent state of South Sudan!"
Video streaming
Much has changed since Africa acquired access to the glass fiber optic network. Communication costs have dropped, and applications that use large amounts of data (such as Skype, which streams live video) can now be used to the full extent of their capabilities for the first time.
African Internet users are ecstatic. "We are now using the glass fiber optic network and the difference to the old system is very noticeable," says Musi from Ethiopia. "With the glass fiber optic network everything goes very quickly, unfortunately it is not very widely available in our country." Rueben, a student, says many people studying can now carry out research from their laptops or even their mobile phones. "That gives us cause for optimism about the future of our country," he believes.
Broadband roll-out too slow
This enthusiasm for broadband in Africa may be immense, but only a minority has access to the Internet and this hasn't changed with arrival of the glass fiber optic network. Africa accounts for just six percent of global connectivity. Even in Nigeria, the country with the highest number of Internet users on the continent, two out of three inhabitants are deprived of entry into the World Wide Web.
Internet access remains out of reach for many Africans
Even though prices have fallen, many people simply can't afford an Internet connection.
African countries are failing to roll out country-wide broadband access fast enough. Adbulbaker Ibrahim is an environment researcher at the University of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Lagos. He says their telecommunications provider is still preoccupied with bringing the glass fiber optic network to the whole country. "Nigeria is a big country and this will take time."
Bracing for a cyber future
Africa's criminal fraternity has already woken up to how they can exploit faster Internet connections. As elsewhere, African countries, too, are having to combat Internet fraud and data theft. The risk of cyber attacks on government installations is also rising. Exact figures are not available, because such incidents are not yet systematically recorded. A number of countries, though, have already appointed Computer Incident Response Teams, groups of computer forensic experts which offer advice to their respective governments.
The teams are given training by the ITU (International Teelcommunications Union) and IMPACT (International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threat).
Africa is connecting up to the global glass fiber optic network, but the goal of universal, fast Internet connectivity is still a long way off. Rwanda is a positive exception. It is working hard to make high speed Internet available to all its citizens across the whole country and wants to become a center for information technology in Africa.
why not utilize fiber for internet in africa? - Google Search
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:07
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Internet access is no longer a luxury | Africa Renewal Onlinewww.un.org/africarenewal/.../internet-access-no-longer-lu...Home; Internet access is no longer a luxury. Internet access is no longer a luxury. Fibre-optics could leap-frog Africa into the future. By: .... are slow in passing laws that provide guidance on the development and use of ICT infrastructure.Google Fiber Comes to Africa | MIT Technology Reviewwww.technologyreview.com/.../google-tries-to-...Nov 20, 2013 - Pushing cheap broadband'--and more use of Google'--the search giant installs a fiber ... Africa has the lowest Internet connectivity rate of any continent. ... He would not say how much money the fiber project cost the company.Fiber optic cables finally bring reliable Internet to Liberia ...www.pri.org/.../fiber-optic-cables-finally-bring...Public Radio International
Nov 10, 2011 -Fiber optic cables finally bring reliable Internet to Liberia, West Africa ... The cable will connect South Africa and west African countries with France ... Emmanuel Dolo is trying to apply for a scholarship, but he's not having much luck. ... Sometimes you pay for 60 minutes and you only get to use 20 minutes.Is fibre optic cable key to Africa's economic growth? - BBC.comwww.bbc.com/news/business-32079649British Broadcasting Corporation
Mar 31, 2015 - We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes ... In financial terms, fibre internet is way beyond the grasp of most ... However, not all believe that fibre is the right solution for Africa.Internet in South Africa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_in_South_AfricaThe Internet in South Africa, one of the most technologically resourced countries ... Commercial Internet access for businesses and private use began in June 1992 .... However, Broadband technologies are not universally available and many .... is a proposed 29,000 km-long, 40 to 60 Tbit/s capacity, fibre optic cable system.How Bad Is Africa's Internet? - IEEE Spectrumspectrum.ieee.org/.../internet/how-bad-is-africas-internetJan 29, 2013 - In 2008, Africa had only three fiber-optic links to the global Internet: two in the ... of use make it especially well suited to widespread Internet monitoring, ... Not only did the cables vastly expand international data capacity on the ...Slowly Africa joins the Internet fast lane - Deutsche Wellewww.dw.com/en/slowly-africa-joins-the-internet-fast.../a-16251854Sep 20, 2012 - Glass fiber optic cables are bringing broadband to the larger African cities, ... Not so long ago, if you wanted to transport the Internet across large ... Communication costs have dropped, and applications that use large amounts ...What mobile broadband in Africa can teach America about ...www.techpolicydaily.com/internet/mobile-broadband-africa-can-teach-a...Dec 26, 2013 -Africa is the world's final frontier for the internet. ... According to the ITU (0), fixed broadband subscriptions in Africa have not grown much and stand at ... than build entirely new fiber networks, it makes sense to use engineering ...[PDF]Study on international Internet connectivity in sub ... - ITUhttps://www.itu.int/.../IIC_Africa...International Telecommunication Union
No part of this publication may be reproduced, by any means whatsoever, ..... Internet use in sub-Saharan Africa and draws comparisons with the rest of the world. ..... two missing links, namely the optical fibre links between Benin and Burkina ...Memory Lane: Revisiting Internet Access for African Higher ...https://www.carnegie.org/.../desk-and...Carnegie Corporation of New York
Sep 4, 2015 - ... and use of, internet and electronic resources for African universities. ... Workers digging a trench for underground fiber optic cable in Madagascar. ... ''social good '' organizations that could not afford prevailing market rates.
Is fibre optic cable key to Africa's economic growth? - BBC News
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:47
Image caption In the developed world fibre optic cables like this are what keep many people connected The elite of Kenya's much-heralded entrepreneurship revolution work in an ultra-modern. co-working space overlooking the bustle of Nairobi.
Their businesses are reliant on the high-speed internet available here.
The Nairobi Garage is one of a limited number of work spaces in the city boasting a dedicated 25 megabits per second [Mbps] fibre internet connection.
Fibre is definitely not the norm in Kenya - a country viewed as a leader in African technology innovation. In financial terms, fibre internet is way beyond the grasp of most entrepreneurs and small businesses.
A 25Mbps connection costs in the region of $4,000-$5,000 (£2,700-£3,380) a month.
Image caption Nairobi Garage is one of the tech hubs that have made the Kenyan capital a technology powerhouse Pulling together"Tech is taking off in Kenya thanks in large part to the arrival of fibre internet - unfortunately the cost of this to companies is still extremely high.
"Large companies like banks can afford the prices of corporate internet, but for start-ups and SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] the costs are crippling," says Hannah Clifford, general manager at Nairobi Garage.
Over 100 small businesses have started out life in the communal work space, which currently accommodates 30 start-ups all using the stable high-speed internet connection offered at a subsidised cost.
"Through shared work spaces like Nairobi Garage, which is aimed at supporting the start-up sector, young businesses and entrepreneurs are able to get internet access as part of their office space at very affordable rates.
"High-speed, reliable internet is vital for these young businesses to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley," she says.
Image caption A decent internet connection is vital to the success of many start-ups 'Human right'Companies such as Liquid Telecom are working to make fibre internet a reality across Africa. By the end of the year it will have spent about $500m (£337m) laying more than 18,000Km of fibre cable on the continent, making it the owner of the largest fibre network in Africa.
It has also started working on providing fibre-to-the-home - a service now beginning to be enjoyed by some customers in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Chief executive Nic Rudnick is convinced that fibre roll-out is a human right as well as a business necessity. He says the "backbone" Liquid is laying will contribute to Africa's economic growth.
"Liquid Telecom was founded based on a conviction that telecoms connectivity is now a basic human right. We've devoted a tremendous amount of time, strategic thinking and good old-fashioned hard work to create the largest and fastest single fibre network across Africa," says Mr Rudnick.
"Traffic comes onto it from across Africa and from other continents. Access is not limited to just our direct business and retail customers. We sell capacity to other operators.
"I firmly believe that the small businesses of Africa need access to affordable broadband to grow. Fibre is key to the future economic prosperity of Africa."
Image caption Liquid Telecom chief executive Nic Rudnick believes internet connectivity is a human right Image caption The company is working hard to increase its cable infrastructure In the etherHowever, not all believe that fibre is the right solution for Africa.
Alan Knott-Craig, founder of South Africa's Project Isizwe, believes wireless technologies are the way forward. He aims to bring free internet to everyone in South Africa by installing wi-fi hotspots in low-income areas across the country.
"Fibre is not the future for Africa. The distances are too big, the existing footprint too small. Wireless is the future," he says.
According to Mr Knott-Craig, satellite and microwave technologies will dominate African transmission networks in the future, while wi-fi and 3G will provide connectivity over that last mile to the home or office.
Image caption Workers haul part of a fibre optic cable onto the shore at the Kenyan port town of Mombasa in 2009 One reason for this, he believes, is that wi-fi is the most suitable form of connectivity for mobile devices - Africa's breakthrough technology - and as such, is the best way to achieve universal internet access.
"Wi-fi is the only economically feasible technology. Not only is it robust, but most families already have access to a wi-fi-enabled device," he says.
Satellite nation?Not surprisingly, satellite connectivity provider, Gilat Satcom, agrees.
The company points to the fact that fibre laying in Africa has mostly been restricted to big cities. But World Bank data estimates that only 37% of Africa's population actually live in these urban areas.
Satellite is the therefore the most effective way to reach rural areas, and thus the majority of the population, Gilat believes.
"In the smaller cities, towns and rural areas, wireless broadband and satellite are still the only practical options," says Dan Zajicek, Gilat Satcom's chief executive.
Image caption Project Isizwe aims to bring free internet to all in South Africa by installing wi-fi hotspots in low-income areas "Despite a few predictions that demand for satellite would start to drop away as the amount of operational fibre in Africa increased, the opposite has occurred," he says.
As demand for satellite connectivity is expected to take-off, providers such as Gilat are racing to improve their technologies so that costs can come down.
"We think that rural Africa will continue to depend on satellite capacity over the next few years," says Mr Zajicek.
"The good news for people and businesses in Africa is that we expect a significant fall in prices as a new generation of satellites are being launched to replace old satellites.
"Improvements in compression techniques used by the smart satellite providers will also reduce costs passed on to end-users."
A standard unlimited 1Mbps satellite package for a small business will start from $50 (£34) per month, says Gilat.
Join the dotsOne thing everyone agrees on is that widespread internet access can have a profoundly positive effect, particularly on small businesses and in lower-income areas.
"The most immediate impact is making it easy to find jobs online and apply electronically," says Isizwe's Mr Knott-Craig.
"There are job seekers that have been recorded at 1am on a Monday morning searching for jobs," adds the projects chief operations officer, Zahir Khan.
Image caption Mobile phones are one way to get rural communities online using 3G or 4G technology "We have students and learners that are using the services daily for research to improve the quality of their assignments and report submissions," he says.
Another point of agreement is that the cost of internet must come down if this impact is to be felt.
"3G is virtually ubiquitous in Africa, provided you have money. If you are poor the internet is inaccessible because 3G data rates are simply too expensive. The need and the highest impact is in low income communities," Mr Knott-Craig says.
In the meantime, technology hubs remain a lifeline for small business in much of Africa.
"It's great to be able to provide fast internet in a continent that is still seen by many outsiders as being behind - and because of this, mobile and web businesses will be the future of Kenya's success, that, I'm sure," says Nairobi Garage's Hannah Clifford.
"It's really inspiring to see these changes happening."
Google Fiber Comes to Africa | MIT Technology Review
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:46
Pushing cheap broadband'--and more use of Google'--the search giant installs a fiber backbone for ISPs in Kampala, Uganda.
Vital links: Blue lines represent new fiber installations in Kampala.
Google is making one of its biggest moves yet into the business of providing Internet infrastructure, installing a fiber-optic backbone to dramatically improve connectivity in Kampala, Uganda.
The calculus is simple for Google: the more that people do online, the better its core business of selling Internet ads can be. That's why the company has been stringing fiber-optic connections to homes in Kansas City and other U.S. cities and has toyed with the idea of launching fleets of balloons or blimps that could beam wireless Internet access down to rural areas throughout the world.
The new network for Kampala'--installed in recent months but announced Wednesday'--will enable as many as 10 mobile carriers and Internet service providers to boost data rates by a factor of 100 in most areas of the city, which has three million residents. The backbone connects cellular towers to new fiber lines that are, in turn, connected to larger fiber networks and undersea cables.
Most of the fast access'--up to two gigabits per second in some cases'--is intended for mobile devices, but ISPs could also extend the fiber network directly into institutions like hospitals and universities, says Kai Wulff, access field director for the Google effort, called Project Link. ''Our goal is to connect more people in Kampala to fast, quality Internet,'' he says. He would not say how much money the fiber project cost the company.
Whatever Google's motives, the effort should lead to better service, lower prices, and economic benefits for Ugandans, says Erik Hersman, director of iHub, a startup incubator in Nairobi, Kenya. Google's strategy ''seems to be to sell wholesale to the ISPs in Uganda for a lot less than they currently pay, hoping to spur a race to the bottom on data prices,'' he says. ''If they're able to engineer a reduction in prices, that's huge.''
Indeed, lowering the cost will be vital for expanding Internet access to places that don't have it. About 2.7 billion of the world's seven billion people can get online; the rate is lowest in Africa, where 16 percent of its one billion residents have Internet connections of some kind. The U.N. Broadband Commission says that for Internet use to increase in Africa, prices would have to be under $5 per month.
Wulff declined to predict the final prices that end users might pay in Kampala, since those fees will be determined by carriers and ISPs that will pay Google to use its backbone. Three of the region's 10 service providers have already signed agreements to use it.
Wulff says Google has no immediate plans to wire up other cities. For now, Google is focused on proving the business model in Kampala and encouraging other infrastructure providers to follow suit.
A bigger challenge will be to bring the Internet to areas that lack any Internet connectivity at all. Many technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, are experimenting with using television frequencies to extend broadband access to such far-flung areas. And Facebook recently announced an industry coalition called Internet.org that's geared toward expanding Internet access, with an initial focus on improving the efficiency of data transmission in areas that already have connectivity.
Evernote is in deep trouble
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 13:14
In 2012, the note-taking app Evernote became one of the first ''Unicorn'' startups, joining the exclusive club for private tech companies worth $1 billion or more.
That year, Evernote passed 30 million registered users, brought its total funding to $270 million, and seemed like a sure-fire candidate to hit the public market in the coming years.
Fast forward three years, and the tables have turned.
Despite reaching 150 million registered users this year, Evernote has been slow to develop the revenue side of its business and is grappling with departures and cost-cutting, according to interviews that Business Insider conducted with more than a half dozen current and former employees of the company.
Evernote has laid off roughly 18% of its workforce in the past nine months, and said it will shut down three of its 10 global offices last week. Earlier this year, it replaced its long-time CEO Phil Libin with former Google exec Chris O'Neill.
''It's going to be a tough road ahead,'' one source familiar with the matter told us. ''They want to go public, and, to do that, the focus on revenue now has to be a ruthless prioritization on things that make money.''
Depending on where you stand, Evernote is either a sinking ship or a maturing company going through a normal transition cycle. But most people we spoke to seem to agree that the company has failed to take advantage of its red-hot growth and make enough money from much of its huge user base '-- and is starting to show early signs of being an ailing unicorn.
It's a sobering reality check about the business challenges that can derail even the hottest tech sensations.
Wrong prioritiesSeveral former employees believe a lack of focus hampered Evernote's growth. Instead of focusing on its core note-taking product and on converting users to the paid service, Evernote spent more time releasing a bunch of new products and features that only helped it grab news headlines, they said.
For example, in early 2014, a former TechCrunch writer published a scathing blog post hammering Evernote's glitch-filled product. Libin quickly addressed the issue, even personally reaching out to the writer and vowing in an all-hands meeting to focus on improving ''quality'' that year.
But six months later, Evernote was back to pumping out new releases that often didn't live up to expectations.
''There was a feeling that we were working on the wrong priorities,'' a former employee said. ''It was clear the motive was to just continually drum up press. They had no idea how to optimize and improve growth.''
This person said Evernote didn't have a formal market-research or usability-testing team as robust as what companies of its scale have until earlier this year.
Another source said that until last year A/B testing was not always taken seriously, referring to a standard web-company technique in which two different versions of the same product are tested in the market.
That resulted in inferior products with lots of bugs, drawing bad reviews and heavy criticism from its users. PenUltimate, a handwriting app Evernote acquired in 2012, received a lot of complaints when it rolled out an updated version for the first time in 2014, causing the company to issue an apology and another update within a week.
Skitch, an app that lets you add captions or markups to photos, has a three-star rating (out of five) on the Apple App Store, while Work Chat, the new messaging feature it released last year, is seeing a lot of negative feedback on its own forum.
Evernote Food, a standalone app that lets users share recipes and food photos, entirely shut down last month, as did other experimental products like Evernote Hello and Peek.
''It was kind of like move on to the next shiny thing, let's just talk about the next thing we're going to do,'' another former employee said. ''There was no prioritization circled down. None of that structure existed at all.''
But another former employee notes that the seemingly scattershot approach was not as random as it appeared. "Everything was done with intent," he said. The messaging feature, which was criticized as being a naked attempt to mimic hot messaging-upstart Slack, was conceived as a way to draw more people into Evernote's "ecosystem" and ultimately to boost paying subscribers.
And elements of some shuttered products, such as the structured data technology used in Evernote Food, have since been incorporated into the core Evernote product.
Failure to convert 'free' usersEvernoteNew Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill, left, with former CEO Phil Libin.
Evernote originally grew users quickly by following the ''freemium'' model, in which the product is offered for free in the hopes of eventually turning those users into paying customers.
The problem is most of those users haven't converted to the paid service, taking a toll on Evernote's overall business '-- last year, TechCrunch pegged the company's revenue at around $36million, and while revenue has increased, we've heard the numbers are still short of internal expectations.
Evernote recently began adding new pricing tiers, designed to offer more options for nonpaying users to give the company money.
That move is long overdue, say some people close to the company, who say the company spent too much time experimenting with random products instead of refining its monetization efforts.
An Evernote spokesperson said the number of paying users is currently in the "millions," that 20,000 businesses use the company's business version of the product, and that the number of users paying Evernote for the first time is up 40% from the same time last year. But she declined to provide specific revenue figures, as the company is privately held and does not disclose its financials.
Tightening the beltWith the greater focus on revenue growth, Evernote is becoming more disciplined with its spending, according to multiple sources.
The layoffs were the first signs, but cost-saving is showing up in perks too.
Evernote used to provide house-cleaning services every two weeks to all employees, but that's gone now. Most people could easily request to work in overseas offices for three weeks, fully covered by the company, but that's more tightly controlled, a former employee said. Any new requests for the monthly electric-car-charging stipend have been suspended too. Some offices say their food has been downgraded from specialized delivery service to a mix of vendors catering food.
Amanda Edwards/GettyImagesThe hosts of "MythBusters" were invited to last year's EC4.
But perhaps the biggest savings will come from canceling its annual developers conference, called Evernote Conference, which has been held in San Francisco for the past four years. Last year's conference featured celebrities like the hosts of ''MythBusters'' and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman.
''If someone cancels a developers conference, it's usually a sign that there's stress around cash management,'' said Jason Lemkin, a veteran tech entrepreneur and venture investor. ''It doesn't mean the company's going under, but it's usually one of the first things to go.''
Evernote appears to be downsizing the team in charge of the platform it provides for developers. Among the employees let go in the recent round of layoffs were its director of developer relations, Chris Traganos, as well as several members of his team.
But contrary to recent rumors of Evernote closing off its API, the company said it's still open, and we've heard its platform integrations could get even stronger in the coming weeks.
Evernote also told us it never intended to have its annual developers conference in the Bay Area this year, because 75% of its users come from outside of the US. Instead, it recently held a 1,500 person event in South Korea and large events in other cities as well.
All of the changes are causing some employees to leave the company, according to various insiders. One former employee said companies like Uber, Twitter, and Dropbox have been poaching a lot of its talent. One of the floors at its Redwood City headquarters is like a "ghost town," said one insider.
''There's been a fair number of people who left, not necessarily because they're disgruntled or unhappy. People are just making decisions to figure out if this new version of Evernote is for them or not.''
A respectable moveDespite all the troubling signs, the fact that Evernote is taking the initiative to try to fix its problems is encouraging, said Byron Deeter, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.
"They could have probably BS'd around a little longer. But if you actually want to build a great company and try to make a run at the big vision, then you do need to take a step back when things aren't working optimally, and then try to take the two steps forward," said Deeter, whose firm has investments in Evernote competitors such as Box.
''I suspect what they're doing is cutting now so they can control their own destiny later,'' he added.
Lemkin also agreed, pointing out that new CEOs could often bring renewed energy to the company. ''Having a new CEO can often reinvigorate a company, especially if he or she can bring in good management team. [O'Neill's] got a huge customer base and a great brand,'' he said.
One former employee said the team at Evernote has been excited about O'Neill's arrival about two months ago. "I really think Chris O'Neill is making some smart decisions, and I would say most people in the office, even though it's pretty painful, thinks this guy has a good plan," the source said.
Evernote isn't in dire straits yet.
It still has a large user base, and as most subscription-based software companies do, it could probably improve its cash flow by cutting back on some of its investments.
But being a billion-dollar ''unicorn'' and being truly worth its perceived value is another story '-- and Evernote may be quickly drifting away from the glorified "unicorn" status.
''It's not a fundamentally flawed business. It's just not working as well as people expected it to,'' Deeter said. ''They're still likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They're just probably not worth billions today.''
Some VCs we spoke to anticipated Evernote will have to show substantial improvement in the next 12 to 18 months, or, otherwise, it could even be sold off to others. But the real damage, perhaps, may not be in its business: It's that Evernote is losing its edge as a cool company in the Valley, making it harder to recruit talent and form partnerships for the future.
As one of the former employees told us, ''It's a shame because Evernote used to be the place you wanted to go. It was the top-tier company where you pretty much did cutting edge stuff. And little by little, that faded away.''
$50B federal telecom RFP coming in mid-October
Sat, 03 Oct 2015 16:30
$50B federal telecom RFP coming in mid-OctoberBy Mark RockwellOct 02, 2015Mark your calendars: the General Services Administration plans to release the final request for proposals for its huge next-generation telecommunications contract on Oct. 16.
Mary Davie, GSA's assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services, named the new target release date for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions RFP in an Oct. 1 tweet. EIS is the cornerstone contract for the agency's NS 2020 telecommunications strategy, and will serve as the successor to Networx.
The mid-October release isn't surprising, as GSA officials have been telling vendors for weeks that they would likely miss the initial Sept. 30 deadline.
In mid-September, GSA officials told FCW that the release of the final RFP for the 15-year, $50 billion telecom contract was on track, but hedged a few days on the exact release date because of the complicated approval cycle for big federal contracts.
GSA also has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to fill out the RFP's cybersecurity sections. Those changes have been noted in GSA's EIS Interact online community. They include optional Colocation Hosting Center Service for all potential EIS customers, consolidating and expanding previous Managed Firewall, Intrusion Detection and Prevention, and Anti-Virus services into a new Managed Prevention Service.
According to GSA, the RFP also supports DHS' cybersecurity mission with an optional DHS Intrusion Prevention Security Service, which uses both classified and unclassified Government Furnished Information to monitor, identify and mitigate potential cybersecurity threats.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
'Mass suicide' protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory - Telegraph
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:47
Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for the likes of Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP, among many others, has had a grim history of suicides at its factories. A suicide cluster in 2010 saw 18 workers throw themselves from the tops of the company's buildings, with 14 deaths.
"We were put to work without any training, and paid piecemeal," said one of the protesting workers, who asked not to be named. "The assembly line ran very fast and after just one morning we all had blisters and the skin on our hand was black. The factory was also really choked with dust and no one could bear it," he said.
Several reports from inside Foxconn factories have suggested that while the company is more advanced than many of its competitors, it is run in a "military" fashion that many workers cannot cope with. At Foxconn's flagship plant in Longhua, five per cent of its workers, or 24,000 people, quit every month.
"Because we could not cope, we went on strike," said the worker. "It was not about the money but because we felt we had no options. At first, the managers said anyone who wanted to quit could have one month's pay as compensation, but then they withdrew that offer. So we went to the roof and threatened a mass suicide".
The worker said that Foxconn initially refused to negotiate, but that the workers were treated reasonably by the local police and fire service.
A spokesman for Foxconn confirmed the protest, and said that the incident was "successfully and peacefully resolved after discussions between the workers, local Foxconn officials and representatives from the local government".
He added that 45 Foxconn employees had chosen to resign and the remainder had returned to work. "The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly," he said.
Instasnoop app lets you secretly follow people on Instagram
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:28
Instagram is great, but sometimes it seems like the company is neglecting one of the most fun and potentially unhealthy aspects of the app '-- good ol' fashioned Instagram stalking.
We've all been there.
You just want to check up on how an ex is doing and suddenly you're scrutinizing the comments section and trying to figure out whether that's her new boyfriend.
It's normal. Maybe not good for you, but definitely normal.
But there are all sorts of things that can go wrong while you are Instagram stalking someone. Who can forget that feeling of dread when you accidentally double-tap on a photo late at night, mistakenly "liking" the photo.
These problems are what a new app, Instasnoop, is focused on fixing.
The app creates an alternative universe for you to safely snoop around to your heart's content. Instasnoop links to your Instagram and lets you browse, but only in very specific ways.
Here's what it does:
You can't ''like'' anything. As the developers put it, ''You can look at an Instagram profile without accidentally liking an image and having to delete your account, move to China, and never resurface on social media again.'' Preach.You can pinch to zoom. Because you definitely need to know who the heck was in the background of that shot.You can create a "Snooplist." This is powerful. Your Snooplist is who you want to follow without letting them know that you follow them.Lastly, you can view a snapshot of your own Instagram network, easily seeing who you follow who doesn't follow you back.Instasnoop is everything you wanted Instagram to give you, but weren't sure you could really handle. Now we'll see '-- the power is in your hands.
Download the app on iOS for free.
mac & Cheese
Crispy, Crunchy... Crickets? UConn Food Truck Has Unusual Menu - NBC News
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:39
The University Of Connecticut in Storrs is serving up tacos with a twist. They have added roasted crickets to their list of ingredients. NBC Connecticut
"College kids love outrageous, out-of-the-box food finds, so it was just a matter of time before insects hit the campus scene," said Joy Bauer, MS RDN, nutrition and health expert for TODAY and founder of
Nourish Snacks. "It's a bit creepy to think about eating crickets, but they're actually rich in protein, and when roasted and milled into flour they produce a mild, neutral flavor that can be easily worked into baked goods."RELATED:
Many College Students Aren't Warned About Substance Use Risks: SurveyCouture says the critters are meant to be eaten as toppings for the food truck's offerings. Right now, they're dishing out Asian-inspired tacos. As the weather cools, they'll switch to comfort food like stews and chilis.
"Dining has changed a lot in college. Whereas before you could put mac and cheese out every night, now you have to kind of push yourself and give everybody more options," Couture said.
The 50 Fittest Colleges in the U.S.: What Makes Them So Healthy?Crickets definitely aren't for everyone.
"I guess if you're up for an adventure, you can add them straight up as a taco topper," Bauer said. "Personally, I'm going to stick with salsa."
U Conn Mac and Cheese Kid -- a Symptom of Rape Culture? | National Review Online
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:37
And if you laughed at the video, you're part of the problem.According to a piece in the Hartford Courant, it is totally wrong of you to laugh at that now-infamous viral video of the drunk UConn college student demanding mac and cheese '-- because it's kind of like a drunk college student demanding sex without consent.
''Did you laugh at the UConn student demanding his favorite jalapeno-flavored drunk food?'' Holly Wonneberger asks in a piece titled ''Why UConn Mac And Cheese Attack Isn't Funny.''
''Did you think the belligerent, slurring and entitled kid was funny?'' she continues. ''If you did, let me tell you why you're wrong.''
Wonneberger, a former UConn student, maintains that the ''belligerent entitlement'' displayed by Drunk Mac and Cheese Kid ''is something that [she], and most (if not all) of [her] friends, dealt with regularly while being there.'' She insists the video is not only ''not amusing'' but actually ''terrifying.'' Yes '-- ''terrifying'' and ''horrifying'' are among the words she uses to describe it.
After all, she explains, this dude demanding mac and cheese is clearly representative of a campus culture where dudes similarly demand sex:Some people may think this is funny because it's a drunken kid demanding snack food.
Imagine this outburst wasn't just about mac and cheese.
Imagine all of the circumstances in this scenario, but instead, someone is demanding a phone number, sex or repeated non-consensual contact. (For the record, I experienced these demands during my time at UConn). Imagine an unrelenting, entitled and privileged perpetrator. Imagine if, even when if others are present, no one intervenes.
PP must start giving R's $$ who will then leave them alone
Bill Ackman's latest wager: Bloomberg for president
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 05:07
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a press conference regarding Super Bowl XLVIII, which New York and New Jersey will host at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on October 10, 2013 in New York City.(Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty Images)
Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, who got rich making wagers, is now betting that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will run for president of the United States in 2016 '-- and win.
"My view is Michael Bloomberg is going to run for president and my view is he is going to win," Ackman said to Stephanie Ruhle of Bloomberg TV. "I would do everything in my power to get this guy elected," Ackman said at a Bloomberg Markets conference in Manhattan.
The billionaire investor said he is speaking from the heart and not because he was at a Bloomberg-hosted event. He also insisted it is more than just wishful thinking that Bloomberg, who founded and runs data and media empire Bloomberg L.P., will enter the 2016 election.
"I have some feeling of what it's like to be Michael Bloomberg," Ackman said when asked why Bloomberg would run. "The answer is because he is going to die," Ackman said of the 73-year-old Wall Streeter turned politician. "He will regret not running," said the hedge fund manager, who talked passionately about what he thinks Bloomberg thinks about when he thinks about dying. "This is his chance," he said of Bloomberg's ability to win the White House.
To be sure, Wall Street players were supporters of Bloomberg when he was Mayor of New York City, and they helped get him elected to a controversial third term in 2009. The Boston native worked at securities firm Salomon Brothers before starting his own firm, which also caters to banks and brokerage houses like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.
"I think the country is ready for a business-oriented, philanthropic, straight-talking business guy to run for office," Ackman said. But he dismissed real-estate developer Trump as well as Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton, saying "Hillary has proven not to be a strong candidate."
Others people who have suggested Bloomberg would make a good presidential candidate include media mogul Rupert Murdoch and writer Michael Wolff in a column for USA TODAY.
Wolff: There's one obvious Trump slayer
Ackman also defended drug-maker Valeant, which has seen its stock plummet amid concerns about how it prices its drugs. Shares of the Canada-based drug-maker tumbled last month on news that Democrats on the House oversight committee have been pushing for subpoenas seeking documents related to price hikes earlier this year of 525% and 212% in two of its heart drugs.
The stock losses have hurt Ackman's hedge fund performance, as well as a slew of other hedge fund that have piled into the stock behind him.
Ackman called certain drug price hikes "egregious" but said he does not support price controls. "I don't defend that kind of behavior, but I do think it's important that it doesn't lead to regulation that will stifle innovation," he said.
Valeant acquires most of its drug portfolio through serial acquisitions of smaller companies. Research and development makes up just 3% of spending '-- a position Ackman defended as smart business sense.
"Valeant believes they are not good at drug development," he said. "They are making a massive contribution to drug development" by acquiring drugs rather than making them, he said.
Big-name hedge funds plummet '-- again
Follow Kaja Whitehouse on Twitter: @kajawhitehouse.
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1Lgx9zZ
Maisonneuve | Law V. Lust
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 04:42
VALERIE SCOTT KNOWS ALL ABOUT SEX. After all, she has spent decades of her fifty-seven years selling it. Sitting in the living room of her east-end Toronto apartment, she chain-smokes cigarettes while sifting through court documents spread across her cluttered dining room and coffee tables. Out her window, high-rises stretch across the city. In those buildings littering the skyline, countless people are having sex. Some of them are paying for it. And Scott has been fighting for nearly thirty years to ensure that they can keep doing so. She is at a critical juncture in her effort to forge a future for the world's oldest profession.
It was four months after the December 2013 ruling in Canada v. Bedford, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's existing prostitution laws. Although prostitution itself was never illegal in Canada, Scott'--along with sex workers Terri-Jean Bedford and Amy Lebovitch'--challenged the constitutionality of three prostitution provisions, arguing that the laws violated sex workers' human right to security of the persons under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These laws included the ''communicating law,'' which prohibited sex workers from engaging in a public space for the purpose of solicitation; the ''bawdy house law,'' which made it illegal for sex workers to see clients on a regular basis at indoor locations; and the ''living off the avails of prostitution law,'' which meant anyone working for a sex worker, such as a driver or security guard, could face criminal charges.
After a seven-year challenge, the court's ruling seemed like a surreal victory. ''I kept thinking this couldn't be real. How could we get a favourable decision?'' says Scott, who is the creator and legal coordinator of advocacy organization Sex Professionals of Canada. The federal government was given one year to either introduce new legislation or decriminalize prostitution.
Scott and her peers were actively lobbying the government to follow New Zealand's example; the nation decriminalized sex work in 2003. Under decriminalization, clients can pay consenting adults for sexual services. Municipalities can create zoning bylaws and regulate advertising. A 2008 review of the New Zealand law found that, since decriminalization, workers are less isolated, able to work together and have a more positive relationship with the police.
But the Canadian government opted to follow Sweden's so-called Nordic model of criminalizing the purchase of sex'--a decision that left many sex workers feeling left out of the conversation. On June 4, 2014, Minister of Justice Peter MacKay tabled Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. ''No model that involves full decriminalization or legalization will ever make prostitution a safe endeavour,'' MacKay said in Parliament. ''There will always be an inherent danger in this degrading activity.'' On December 6, 2014, Bill C-36 became law.
For the first time in history, the purchase of sex in Canada is criminalized. Under C-36, it is not illegal for sex workers to sell sex, but it is illegal for clients to purchase their sexual services'--a catch-22 intended to end the cycle of demand. ''The government has shifted the focus to the johns and created a legislative regime that assumes two things: that all johns are predatory and that all sex workers are vulnerable and exploited. Those are the two new issues,'' says Alan Young, the Osgoode Hall Law School professor who challenged the old laws in the Bedford case. Scott has a different way of explaining the change: clients can't legally communicate consent during their transaction. ''We are raping our clients, but they are paying us to rape them,'' she says.
The old communicating law was reintroduced, stating that sex workers can't communicate with clients in areas close to a school, daycare or playground'--although the actual distances aren't specified. Anyone who receives a material or financial benefitfrom sex workers can also be charged, except those who have a ''legitimate living arrangement'' with the worker. And finally, the legislation prohibits third parties from advertising sexual services, but allows sex workers to do it themselves'--another first in Canada.
Bill C-36 was created with the purported purpose of protecting sex workers, but the very people it aims to protect say it will create a more dangerous and precarious working environment. ''They finally listened to me, and now they are kicking me in the head,'' Scott says. ''[According to the government] We are too damaged to know what's right and wrong, and they are going to save us.''
JULIE GRANT felt the effects of Bill C-36 even before it became law. In November 2014, the Toronto escort agency where she had worked for ten years told her that it would be shutting down due to the incoming legislation'--the agency couldn't survive both the advertising ban and the provision prohibiting individuals from financially benefitting from sex workers. ''The owner said she couldn't take the legal risks as she believed they would be doing stings at some point in 2015,'' Grant says. Under the old legislation, escort agencies could technically be charged for living off the avails of prostitution. However, this wasn't always enforced unless someone made a complaint to the police. With the new legislation, many agencies and sex workers fear the government is trying to prove a point and will put the new law to work. When Grant's agency shut down, her former boss suggested she help other sex workers find clients. ''She was hoping escorts like myself would help others who had no internet access to advertise, but it's illegal for me to place another escort's ad,'' says Grant.
C-36 complicates things for the publications that run escort ads. ''We are sex-positive and we have always been supportive of the idea that people have a right to their own sexuality,'' says Alice Klein, co-founder of Toronto's Now magazine. ''There was just no ground from an ethical point of view to discriminate and say somehow that was a category of business that was absolutely beyond the pale.''
In 1990, Now was charged for those classifieds under the former law for communicating with the purpose of solicitation. ''It was obviously very poor form on the part of the police to try to shut down a vehicle of independent journalism and free expression,'' says Klein. The charges were eventually withdrawn and Now continued to run sex ads in its classified section. It was through this fight that Klein met Scott and the two began working together, going over the legislation.
When Bill C-36 was first tabled in June 2014, Klein sought legal consultation from Young as a pre-emptive measure. He recommended that the magazine transition their business to comply with their understanding of what the law says. ''We are asking our advertisers to assure us that they are independent workers who are submitting ads on their own behalf,'' says Klein. Though it is still difficult to prove that sex workers are themselves posting the ads and that Now is in compliance with the law, Klein worries that the police could raid the office any day.
This ban on third-party advertising is meant to dissuade pimps and traffickers from exploiting workers. But often, the agencies, friends or colleagues sex workers turn to to post their advertisements also keep them safe.
With the agency shuttered, Grant started to feel differently about her own security'--after all, she had worked with them for most of her career. The agency had facilitated the screening process and prided itself on maintaining a list of clients who qualify as ''bad dates'' (potentially dangerous people or time wasters who don't show up to appointments) that went back ten years. ''The screening was incredible and that's why I started with them in the first place,'' she says. ''No individual has the screening ability of a long-standing agency.'' The company also dealt with the logistics by managing escorts' bookings and schedules and provided them with drivers who brought them to their out-call locations such as hotels and waited for them until their date was over. Almost overnight, all of those support services disappeared.
Other escort agencies across the country are also choosing to shut down, while some are rebranding instead. According to a 2014 Now interview with the owner of Cupid's Escorts, the Toronto agency, established in 2001, decided to pivot their business model. Instead of sex, the agency now sells intimacy and companionship. Nearly-nude photos on the website were replaced by images of women in cocktail dresses and the agency no longer provides condoms. Kyle Kirkup, a Toronto-based criminal law expert who testified at the Bill C-36 committee hearings last summer, says decisions like this are troubling from a public health standpoint. ''We want people to be practicing safe sex,'' he says. Michelle Cade, now independent, worked at Cupid's a year and a half ago. She views her former agency's rebranding as a game of semantics. ''You are now paying for our time. What we do during those hours is anyone's guess,'' she says. While Cupid's pre-emptive move gained attention, other agencies across the country have maintained their websites and advertising of escorts. Still, the possibility of being raided by police is very real. ''I think if you are the owner of an escort agency, every day there is a risk that the police are going to show up and charge,'' says Kirkup.
When her agency closed shop, Grant transitioned to independent sex work. She was able to hire her own driver and bring along many of her regular clients. But she now has to deal with clients directly and provide her real phone number'--something she thinks could compromise her safety and identity. And because some newspapers are refusing to print her ads even though she places them herself, she has seen a drop in her income. ''I just closed a bank account because the fees were going to eat the $200 I had left in it,'' she says. ''I am looking at renting out part of my place to try to pay the bills.''
As the executive-at-large at Sex Professionals of Canada, Grant knows that her personal experience is not out of the ordinary. She receives calls twenty-four hours a day from people across the country expressing their concerns about losing clients and not being able to make ends meet. ''We are losing income like crazy and people are facing this wall of poverty that they had escaped in large part because of sex work,'' she says. ''This law forces people in the sex trade to work secretly, independently from each other and untraceably.''
BILL C-36 CHIPS AWAY at the one element that was allowing sex workers to survive financially: their clients. Sex workers can sell sex, but clients can't buy it. Men and women can work indoors, but it's illegal for clients to come over. ''I don't know how you are supposed to install a safe indoor workspace when you can't tell anyone you are working there,'' says Katrina Pacey, executive director of Vancouver's Pivot Legal Society, who also served as an intervener in the Bedford case. These factors can force sex workers to make riskier decisions.
Young senses that out of desperation and faced with a lack of options, many workers will return to street-level prostitution to find clients'--a strategy that is inherently more dangerous. A 1997 Statistics Canada report found that in 1995, four in ten incidents of procurement in street prostitution involved another crime'--half of the time, it was a sexual assault or another form of assault. Since then, sex work has repeatedly been listed as a risky occupation.
But not all workers have gone to the streets'--or have noticed major changes since the passing of C-36. Rebecca Richardson, a twenty-seven-year-old PhD student at the University of Toronto and independent sex worker, says that things have mostly been business as usual since the law passed'--she doesn't think that police will spend time arresting johns as they simply don't have the resources. But she has seen a negative change in the screening process for independent workers. ''The only thing that has an impact on the working women I know and myself is that the criminalizing of clients means people are scared to share their personal information,'' she says. Put simply, many workers now struggle to obtain screening information they require for security and assurance.
Mark* is thirty-five, a lawyer, and married father of two. He has also been seeing sex workers on a regular basis since the age of seventeen, and is one of Richardson's clients. He says that C-36 misconstrues the reality of who johns are in order to bolster a political agenda. ''The majority of clients are either married and unfulfilled, or single and lonely,'' he says. ''They aren't bad guys, and they aren't doing a bad thing.'' He remembers hearing some whispers of concerns within the client community in the lead up to last December, but he never worried that he would be a potential police target. ''Relax, Chicken Little. Nothing's going to change,'' he says. ''I'm more afraid of being caught by my wife than by the police.''
But more police crackdowns may be inevitable in the future. The government has pledged $20 million in funding over five years to support the new bill. Half is supposed to be going to law enforcement (leaving some sex workers concerned about an increase in raids and sting operations), while the rest is expected to go to prostitution abolitionist groups that are in favour of the legislation and want to see women exit the industry, although no specific exit strategies have been discussed as of now.
The anticipation has many sex workers worried. Lebovitch wouldn't be surprised if the funds are used to conduct the same sort of sweeps that workers saw under the old laws: before big events, the police will target street workers. ''There is still this idea in the legislation that we are not autonomous people who are working like everyone else,'' she says. ''But I don't get it, it's human rights. People are having their rights violated.''
THERE IS A FUNDAMENTAL disagreement on how to best protect the men and women involved in sex work. On one side, you have the Grants, the Youngs and the Scotts who say that decriminalization of sex work is the only way to ensure safety and security; that opening the industry as a legitimate business with proper oversight, along with targeted laws against violent behaviours, will help chase out the exploiters and end the violence. ''We don't ban marriage because domestic violence exists,'' says Pacey, who has worked with women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, an area with high levels of sex work, since 2001. ''Instead, we make sure that we are there for women who are victims of violence in the context of their relationship.'' They argue that the Criminal Code already has four statutes dealing with human trafficking, as well as provisions for underage prostitution'--crimes that they say need to be differentiated from voluntary sex work.
On the other side, you have people saying that sex work is inherently violent and degrading, that its mere existence means that workers will never be safe. And this belief doesn't only come from those who have never been involved in the industry. ''It was never the laws that beat, raped and killed me and my friends'--it was men,'' says sex worker-turned-activist Trisha Baptie. Working at the corner of Franklin and Salsbury in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for more than a decade, Baptie experienced violence and abuse from clients, including one incident where a man hit her with a crowbar and she ended up in the hospital.
Baptie exited the industry in 2001 after getting help from an outreach worker. She then started anti-prostitution group Formerly Exploited Voices Now Educating (better known as EVE). Baptie is happy with most of the new legislation, especially the language in the law's preamble that emphasizes the exploitation and violence that she feels is inherent in prostitution. But she does disagree with the government maintaining an updated version of the communicating law, which effectively criminalizes street-based sex workers.
Anti-prostitution groups are now taking their fight further, to the root of what they say is a larger societal problem: that men feel the need to engage in the commodification of women, whether that is seen through the purchase of sex or through women being exploited in pornography. Baptie also wants to see governments, both federal and provincial, do more to help women avoid prostitution in the first place, or safely exit sex work after they start. However, she says that the $20 million in funding provided by the government isn't enough to achieve these goals.
THE NEW LEGISLATION, created with the purpose of protecting sex workers, has yet to be enforced on its own. ''It's an odd situation to be in where you have a real significant change in the law, without a real idea whether it is going to change anything,'' says Young. ''But you know that it doesn't make the situation any better for sex workers.'' Some say that Bill C-36 exists to serve a symbolic purpose. ''Even though this law is supposed to focus on sex workers' safety, it's all about advancing an ideological framework,'' says Robyn Maynard, an outreach worker at Montreal sex worker advocacy group Stella, l'amie de Maimie. Members of Canada's legal community, including Young and Kirkup, also say that the law was written to target and appease the Conservative Party's core base, mixing individual moral values into the country's legislation. ''It's a game of cynical politics,'' says Kirkup. ''They lost the battle on same-sex marriage, they lost the battle on abortion but they are really going to go for sex workers.''
There was some hope that the Ontario government would intervene and review the constitutionality of the legislation. But in April 2015, upon the Ontario attorney general's recommendations, Premier Kathleen Wynne stated that there was ''no clear unconstitutionality'' in the law. It appears that going forward, the only way to strike down C-36 is to build a brand new constitutional challenge. The last challenge took seven years to go from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to the Supreme Court, requiring thousands of work hours, hundreds of people flown in to testify and what would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Looking back, Scott remembers having only $40 available. Young took on this case pro-bono and they received $32,000 in legal aid.
This time around, a successful challenge will require the plaintiffs to gather new evidence as to how the new law is harming sex workers. But they will also have to build new evidence that looks into clients' behaviours and demonstrates that not all are predators. Scott and Lebovitch say this evidentiary record inherently means that people will have to die in order for the courts to see how the new laws are harming sex workers. ''Tragedy has to happen for people to realize that what we are talking about is really fucking important, and that's a really dangerous thing to wait for,'' says Lebovitch. ''We're just going to wait around until we have evidence? That doesn't make sense.''
Starting a new challenge could take another seven years. But Young wouldn't be surprised if someone decided to file something sooner. That's why he and his team are spending the summer bringing their previous research together and setting out a step-by-step process of how one would have to proceed to challenge this law. ''I don't know whether or not I can do it because it was draining last time, but I have a lot of concerns about a job not being done or completed properly,'' Young says.
Scott has been fighting this battle for more than half her life, and she is now starting to think that she won't live to see changes in the law. But still, she can't give up'--not yet. ''No government, no army has ever been able to stop sex work and for two simple reasons: sex and money,'' she says. ''You want to stop sex workers, you have to stop sex and you have to stop money. You think you're up to that job?''
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
OIL IS EVERYTHING-PETROLEUM CONOMY-Russian Military Presence in Syria: Reasons and Goals
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 04:34
Islamic State is a global, quasi-Islamic fanatic millenaristic sect. By its very nature it is resilient to human casualties. It lacks a developed economy or infrastructure, which means that attempts to fight it with airstrikes and special operations are unlikely to succeed.
As this article is being written, Russia has deployed over 2,000 officers and soldiers in Syria, plus at least 34 Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters, Su-34 and Su-24 bombers and Su-25ground-attack planes. Russian military bases, including the main air base near Latakia, are being defended by motorized rifle and marine units, as well as by a certain number of tanks, artillery systems and helicopter gunships. Russian air-defense systems are also deployed near these bases.
''No land operations or participation of Russian army units has ever been considered or ever could be,'' President Vladimir Putin told journalists in New York after his meeting with US President Barack Obama. At the same time, Russian officials are making much vaguer statements about providing air cover for the Syrian army. It appears that such air strikes could be launched anytime now. It is already possible to talk about reconnaissance missions and the assistance being provided by Russian radio-technical reconnaissance and electronic countermeasure (ECM) systems to Syrian and Iraqi government forces. Russia has also vastly expanded arms shipments to Syria and Iraq.
What are the reasons behind Russia's decision to interfere in the conflict? Primarily, judging by available data, it is obvious that the US strategy to combat Islamic State (IS) has failed completely. This defeat is the result of the inability of the United States to create the slimmest, albeit reliable and efficient, ground force on the frontlines with IS that can launch an offensive. It seems also that the US faced systemic issues in training allied armies. By the way, it has had to grapple with the same issue before, for instance in Georgia in the run-up to the 2008 conflict against Russia. The second factor is that the Syrian army has been exhausted recently and requires more assistance.
Islamic State is a global, quasi-Islamic fanatic millenaristic sect. By its very nature it is resilient to human casualties. It lacks a developed economy or infrastructure, which means that attempts to fight it with airstrikes and special operations are unlikely to succeed. IS can be defeated only in a lengthy and bloody ground war to recapture IS territory, occupy it and mop up the region. Having combat boots on the ground would be vital in this war.
The combat value of the Iraqi army, created with US assistance, proved to be low after a series of shameful setbacks and loosing much of its cutting-edge weapons. Only the intervention of the Iranian army, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and the Shia militia helped prevent a looming catastrophe. Attempts by the US to train and equip certain units of the Syrian opposition were even more discouraging, since they ended with most trainees joining the Jabhat al-Nusra front or voluntarily surrendering.
Meanwhile, US allies among Persian Gulf monarchies have become entangled in the war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, where their armed forces also proved to be highly ineffective. In Yemen, people wearing slippers and shabby national costumes fired old Soviet-era missiles at state-of-the-art tanks and armored vehicles imported from the US or Europe. Videos of this kind are frequently posted online and are reminiscent of the footage from the First Chechen War.
Meanwhile, Islamic State is growing into a formidable threat not only to the Middle Eastern countries, but also to other regions such as Central Asia. IS has strengthened its influence in Afghanistan and in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. It came as shocking news in April of this year that Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, former commander of Tajikistan's OMON special police who was trained in Russia and the West and was highly respected in his country, joined IS.
Tensions in Tajikistan have been fueled by differences between the authorities and the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. A recent evidence of instability was an armed insurrection led by Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda, who was supported by a number of military personnel.
The remaining terrorists from the Russian North Caucasus have accepted IS control.
The IS expansion has been halted recently, but the very survival of that pseudo-state, which controls a large territory and has safe [training] bases, is dramatically increasing the threat of destabilization in the Middle East and Central Asia and the risk of large-scale terrorist attacks in Europe (including Russia), South Asia and China.
Ensuring the security of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which have close ties with Russia, is highly important for Moscow not only because they are members of Russia-led integration groups. More importantly, the Russian-Kazakh border is completely transparent and very difficult to protect technically. Kazakhstan has a 39,000-strong army, of whom about 20,000 are in the land forces and are unlikely to properly respond to a large-scale regional crisis. In a worst-case scenario, Russia will have to send its troops to defend Kazakhstan's southern border. In other words, there is a looming threat of a large war, which Russia may have to wage alone or with China's assistance.
Russia has two options: to fight IS in the Middle East now, or do it in the Caucasus and in Central Asia later. It's obvious that it must fight this war away from the borders of the former Soviet Union and so avoid large-scale land operations, and hence large casualties.
The army of Syrian President Bashar Assad is an effective military force with considerable combat experience, although it has suffered a number of losses. It must fight this war to the bitter end, for a victory by IS and other radical Islamic groups would result in the genocide of Alawites and Christians.
The Syrian army's major losses in manpower can be compensated by the inflow of pro-Iranian fighters and by Iranian troops. That army is now the only organized force capable of waging large offensive operations in that region. At the same time, additional arms deliveries and other technical assistance, if coordinated with Iran's efforts, would strengthen the Iraqi army and so contain substantial IS forces. The support by Kurdish militia will be useful too.
Unlike the US and allies' air groups, Russia's aircraft provide direct support and will act in coordination with the Syrian land forces and so will have a bigger influence on fighting.
Even if Russian military involvement boils down to air and missile strikes, the use of reconnaissance and electronic countermeasure systems, Russian forces are still liable to sustain casualties. For example, Islamic State and other anti-government forces in Syria wield a considerable number of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). Su-30SM and Su-34 fighters, and Su-24 bombers, which have already been deployed at the Latakia air base, can launch precision-guided munitions. Theoretically, this could minimize the time spent within range of MANPADS. Upgraded Su-25SM ground-attack planes can also use these weapons, but we don't know which Su-25 versions are being deployed in Syria. It appears that Russia has much fewer precision-guided munitions than the United States and leading NATO countries. Consequently, one cannot be sure that all or most missions will involve the use of these weapons systems. Some military aircraft may be lost. One should not rule out possible terrorist acts and special operations against Russian forces either. However, we must choose between limited casualties today and many thousands of casualties during a hypothetical large war in Central Asia later on, and this choice should be understood with clarity.
Vassily Kashin is Senior Research Fellow at the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. He holds a Doctorate in Political Science.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Center for Security Policy | Russia's endgame in Syria: Follow the Money
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 04:33
Articles | October 6, 2015 | Economic Warfare, Middle East, Politics & Policy, RussiaAs Vladimir Putin orders airstrikes against rebels of all stripes fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime, there are important strategic economic goals behind Russia's actions in Syria. The short term goal is easy to discern: prevent Assad's collapse as no alternative suitable to Russian interests exists, preserve Russia's only naval base in the Middle East at Tartus, and promote Russia both at home and abroad as a world power that counterbalances American hegemony.
Much of the media has focused on Putin as a personal driver of Russian behavior. While forays into Georgia and Ukraine have accomplished the tactical goals of preventing increased European Union presence in Russia's sphere of influence, these have come at a high cost both politically and economically in the form of isolation and sanctions. Putin seems to have concluded that intervening in Syria in the name of fighting terrorism can only help repair Russia's battered image.
It is important to at least try to understand Putin's motivation without delving too much into psychoanalysis. He is on record as lamenting the collapse of the Soviet Union as ''the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.'' In power since 2000, the former KGB officer is an ardent Russian nationalist, a promoter of a personality cult concerned with his country's standing and perception in the world. With his career spent in the service of the state, he is not one to take a background role in world affairs. Putin has effectively used Russia's alliance with Iran as an effective tool to undermine the US, both regionally in the Gulf and globally with the nuclear deal.
The current buildup at Tartus and Latakia is nothing new: since Hafez al-Assad's rise to power in 1970, the Former Soviet Union and then Russia was and is a stalwart ally, long attempting to position Syria as a counterbalance to American and Israeli military superiority in the Middle East.
Russia's actions are also a message to the world: unlike the US, which abandoned long-time ally Hosni Mubarak during his time of need in Egypt, Russia is prepared to intervene, militarily if necessary, to preserve a friendly regime in danger. Therefore, it pays for autocrats to court Moscow, especially if they possess valuable resources or are in prime strategic locations.
While Vladimir Putin ostensibly espouses the acceptable goal of a global alliance against IS, the strategic context is that he has entered into a sectarian alliance with Shia Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the proxy army Hezbollah (The P4+1) against the American-backed Sunni alliance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the UAE, all of whom insist that Assad has no future in Syria.
Through its airstrikes, Russia continues to advance the prior Syrian strategy of focusing efforts against pro-Western rebels, with the recognition that, while dangerous, the Islamic State is the one party in the conflict the West will never support.
The Islamic State will take advantage of both the respite, and the propaganda value of being the recognized number one enemy of the infidel coalition, which it uses to rally supporters simply by pointing out that its enemies are gathering to destroy the renewed Caliphate.
The one strategic motivation for Russia that has been widely ignored is the economic one. Qatar, the richest country in the world per capita and also owner of the world's largest natural gas field, proposed in 2009 to jointly construct a gas pipeline running through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and into Europe. Assad, not wanting to provoke Moscow, refused to sign on. Instead, he floated an alternative: an Iran-Iraq-Syria and possibly Lebanon pipeline, to then follow under the Mediterranean to Europe. The Qatar-Turkey pipeline would run through majority Sunni countries with the exception of Syria's Alawite regime. Assad's counter proposal follows the Shia crescent.
Russia, not wanting to lose its primary market in Europe, is adamantly opposed to a prospective Qatari project. A military presence in Syria will guarantee that even if Assad is removed from power, the pipeline will not be built. It will look on favorably to the Iranian proposal, provided Gazprom and other state-owned companies get their share of the pie.
Pipeline politics in the region have a long and varied history of Russian involvement. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was built only after Moscow's demand for an alternative pipeline for Azeri oil to Russia was met. During the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, US intelligence officials determined that an explosion on the pipeline near the Turkish-Georgian border was carried out via Russian government cyber warfare. Days after the explosion, Russian fighter jets bombed positions in Georgia close to the pipeline. Although the BTC pipeline was built precisely to avoid Russian interference, the Kremlin has never let that stop them.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have also begun construction on a joint natural gas pipeline, the TANAP. This project's stated goal is to reduce the EU's dependence on Russian natural gas, a prospect that cannot please Moscow. Both the BTC and TANAP bypass Armenia, a Russian ally and wary of its neighbors in the Caucasus.
As the endpoint for the Qatari project, Turkey is adamant in calling for Assad to step down or be removed, which dovetails with the proposed Sunni pipeline. By clearing the way through Syria, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can receive a handsome return on their investment in backing jihadis fighting Assad. On the other hand, Iran will not sit idly by and leave potential billions of dollars in the hands of its ideological and regional enemies.
Russian intervention in Syria is just beginning. There is every possibility that it will expand as more targets are found, perhaps those that are in the way of the proposed Iranian pipeline, directly threatening Damascus and by extension, the Russian monopoly of gas exports to Europe. For the time being, Putin has the world's attention.
Pentagon Teams up With Apple, Boeing to Develop Wearable Tech - NBC News
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:17
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter awarded $75 million on Friday to help a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.
Carter said funding for the Obama administration's newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing, Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.
"This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products," Carter said.
He was speaking at NASA's Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley. The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group's total five-year funding level to $171 million.
Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did. "I've been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided box and invest in innovation here in Silicon Valley and in tech communities across the country," Carter said.
Read More: Nearly Half of America Wants 'Wearable' Tech
The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base. The Pentagon established its first institute in 2012 to help advance the development of 3-D printing.
The institute funded on Friday aims to use high-end printing technology to create specialized, stretchable electronics that could be embedded with sensors and worn by soldiers. The technology also could ultimately be used to integrate sensors directly onto the surfaces of ships or warplanes, allowing real-time monitoring of their structural integrity.
Carter also met on Friday with the Defense Science Board for a briefing on its latest study on how autonomous military drones and robots should be in the future.
Boeing subsidiary wants to use drones to infect PCs with Hacking Team spyware | Network World
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:16
Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues.
After attending IDEX 2015 (International Defense Exhibition), Boeing subsidiary Insitu become interested in using its surveillance drones to deliver Hacking Team malware for even more surveillance.
In April, an Insitu mechanical engineer intern sent an email to the Hacking Team, which stated:
We see potential in integrating your Wi-Fi hacking capability into an airborne system and would be interested in starting a conversation with one of your engineers to go over, in more depth, the payload capabilities including the detailed size, weight, and power specs of your Galileo System.
An internal Hacking Team email said Insitu was interested in infecting a target through Wi-Fi via an airborne drone. Before giving Insitu any information, the Hacking Team asked the company to first "sign and stamp the NDA."
While reporting on the Hacking Team's intention to infect computers via drone, The Intercept specifically mentioned Insitu's ScanEagle surveillance drone which is used by militaries; the company also has drones marketed for law enforcement.
USMCField service representative for The Insitu Group holding ScanEagle while on aerial surveillance service contract for the Marines.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael P. SnodyComputers displaying ScanEagle data almost a decade ago in 2006.
The Hacking Team was developing mini and micro versions of a TNI (Tactical Network Injector) which was to be "ruggedized" and "transportable by drone," according to an internal email dated July 1 with a subject of "roadmap." A "new set of external antennas for the TNI" was marked as "done." There was no mention of a range capability to know how far away a drone could infect a target's PC with Hacking Team's Remote Control System, aka Galileo.
Regarding Hacking Team's TNI, The Intercept explained:
A TNI is a portable, often laptop-based, physical device, which an operator would use to plug into a network the target is using '-- such as an open Wi-Fi network in a hotel or coffee shop. When the targeted person uses the Internet for some ordinary activity, like watching a video or downloading an app, the device intercepts that traffic (so long as it is unencrypted) and injects the malicious code that secretly installs Hacking Team's spyware.
After "thinking outside the box" about Hacking Team's spyware delivered via drone or more traditional methods, Bitcoinist suggested that the malware could be used to "as a way to track online payment behavior. For example, if someone would be using a Bitcoin client on their computer '' or mobile device '' that kind of activity could technically be monitored as well. As a result, government officials can start linking a person's ID to a Bitcoin address."
Hacking Team and Windows 10
It was previously reported that Hacking Team provided services like "social engineering exploits, public exploits, private exploits and zero-day exploits" to help its buyers infect victims. In the same email dated July 1 that discussed using a drone to inject malware on a target's computer, the Hacking Team talked about Windows 10 and Microsoft's Edge browser. The plan was to release a new "smaller version" of its RCS to coincide with Microsoft's release of Windows 10 this month.
According to Bing and Google translations of the email written in Italian, that remote control system for Windows 10 would include:
Support for Offline on infection Win10"Social" Support for Edge browserNew set of certificates that expired after the release of RCS10Additionally, Windows 10 was discussed under "desktop:"
Monitor the spread of Skype (which is the default on Windows 10?)Insert Windows machines 10 in RITEOther "desktop" features developed for Hacking Team's RCS10 for Windows include: "creation of a new elite;" a "version 'AV friendly' might replace the soldier;" "video encryption key device-related modules" and an "introduction of anti-memory scan" or "support for UniversalApp."
If v10 is "easy to implement and very widespread," then v 10.1 would "support OneDrive."
Hacking Team noted its release of RCS10 is expected around ISS USA in October. That is likely a reference to ISS World America (Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Intercept) where Hacking Team is scheduled to present:
Zero in On Your Target: Advanced Social Engineering TechniquesSolving the Impossible: A Live Demonstration of Unconventional Surveillance Tools from Hacking TeamNew Cutting-Edge Surveillance Tools from Hacking TeamThere's so much more to uncover about Hacking Teams' software and methods to infect computers and smartphones for surveillance. It might be wise to check out translations of Hacking Team's "roadmap" email, as it includes interesting tidbits about active and passive attack vectors as well as the company's spyware capabilities for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, OSX and Windows.
Additionally, when searching through WikiLeaks dump of Hacking Team emails, there are 11,561 hits when searching for "Microsoft," as well as 125 results when searching for "Win10."
4 Russian warships launch 26 missiles against ISIS from Caspian Sea '-- RT News
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:13
Four Russian Navy warships have fired a total of 26 missiles at the position of the terrorist group Islamic State in Syria, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced. The missiles were fired from the Caspian Sea.
''Four missile ships launched 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets. According to objective control data, all the targets were destroyed. No civilian objects sustained damage,'' Shoigu said.
READ MORE: Russian warships attack ISIS positions in Syria from Caspian Sea (VIDEO)
The missiles flew some 1,500 km before reaching their targets, probing their efficiency.
READ MORE: Russian jets hit 12 ISIS targets in Syria, 'cause panic among extremists'
The missile attacks came from Russia's fleet in the Caspian Sea, which borders Russia, Iran and three other littoral countries. The precision weapons hit all intended targets. The attacks required cooperation from Iran and Iraq, as the missiles had to travel through their airspace to reach Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had worked with its partners to plan the flight path so that the missiles traveled only over desolate areas and didn't pose any danger to civilians.
LATEST VIDEO: Watch Russian warships firing cruise missiles from Caspian Sea to hit ISIS positions in Syria. 4 ships...
Posted by RT Play on Wednesday, October 7, 2015Four warships of the Caspian fleet were involved in the missile attacks, the Gepard-class frigate Dagestan and the Buyan-M-class corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliky Ustyug. They fired cruise missiles from the Kalibr NK (Klub) VLS launchers. The missiles used are capable of hitting a target within 3 meters at a range of up to 2,500 km.
Earlier, Russian warships played a key part in deploying the Russian warplanes to Syria, delivering equipment and supplies to an air base near Latakia and the Navy's old base in Tartus.
READ MORE: 'We are seeking bigger role for Russia than Americans' - Iraq defense committee chairman
Russia has spent a week delivering airstrikes at terrorist forces in Syria, conducting over 120 combat sorties. Now the Navy is joining Russia's Air Force in the operation.
European Depression Association
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:12
Welcome to the European Depression AssociationThe European Depression Association (EDA) is an alliance of organisations, patients, researchers and healthcare professionals from 19 countries across Europe. We support and give a voice for those affected by depression.
Click on your country to see where we are active, contact your national representative or learn more about facts and figures in your country
European Depression Day1 October 2015 - move with us against depressionEach year EDA organizes European Depression Day to raise awareness of depression across Europe. Join us today to campaign against depression:
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Read our ManifestoHTML Forms powered by Wufoo.MembersThe Board Members guide the work of the European Depression Association, providing strategic direction and guidance to the national representatives. The national representatives are the lead contact for European Depression Day activities in their respective countries.
President: Dr Vincenzo CostigliolaExecutive Director: Ms Amelia MustaphaSecretary General: Dr Giuseppe TavorminaVice President: Ms Stephanie WooleyTreasurer: Dr Juan MendiveOther Board Members:Prof Nicolas Zdanowicz, Ms. Marylou Selo, Dr Detlef Dietrich, Dr Eva Palova, Dr Mark Agius, Prof Ivan Urlic, Dr Howard Young.
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ISIS driving Toyotas a little too often, US Treasury wonders why '-- RT USA
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:07
ISIS has many faults, but it sure knows a good car when it sees one. The US Treasury is now pressing Toyota about why so many of its vehicles are being driven around by the terrorist group, as evidenced in their propaganda videos.
Toyota has issued a statement to explain that this is part of a wider probe into terrorist supply chains and capital flow, according to ABC. The company also says it does not know how its trucks ended up in ISIS hands in such a quantity, and is ''supporting'' the inquiry.
READ MORE: Russian anti-terror operation in Syria Live updates
The model most popular with Islamic State drivers seems to be the Hilux, similar to Tacomas and Land Cruisers. This overseas version is a mainstay in ISIS propaganda videos, often loaded to the brim with heavy weapons.
The company says the cars in the videos aren't recent models, but ABC spoke to the Iraqi ambassador to the US, Lukman Faily, who said that in addition to re-purposing old vehicles, the terrorist group has been acquiring ''hundreds'' of ''brand new'' ones in recent years.
''This is a question we've been asking our neighbors,'' the ambassador said. "How could these brand new trucks... these four-wheel drives, hundreds of them - where are they coming from?''
Some of the other cars paraded in victory parade videos include Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Isuzu.
''Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,'' said Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations. Wallace is CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, a group specializing in tracking terrorist finance channels.
''ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,'' he said. ''But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet - a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that's very concerning to us.''
But according to Lewis, ''It is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated.''
The current inquiry isn't the first time somebody's asked about Toyota popping up frequently in IS hands. A report last year by Public Radio International exposed a delivery by the US State Department of 43 Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels '' the ''moderate'' ones, as has been the Western line since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. Australian media has also this year been circulating reports of some 800 vehicles stolen, and authorities believing they may have been shipped to war zones in the Middle East.
As this goes on, Toyota's sales of Hiluxes and similar models appear to be going through the roof. Since 2011, the figures for Iraq have tripled in 2013 to 18,000 vehicles sold. The number has been fluctuating since.
Brigadier General Saad Maan with the Iraqi army suspects an outside middleman was used to smuggle the trucks into Iraq.
Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, responsible for shipping the vehicles to the region, told ABC news in an email they have ''no way to know'' how to track vehicles appropriated by illegal means. Whereas a spokesman for the dealership in Syria said all operations with the country were halted in 2012.
Although he doesn't think Toyota is making any profit from it, Wallace believes the company should do more to investigate and disclose the illegal channels, and to put in place the regulations that would ''make sure we don't see videos of ISIS using Toyota trucks in the future.''
The company wrote back to Wallace in response to his comments, saying, again, that it halted all operations, and that it's actively working with US authorities, but won't provide further details of the cooperation so as not to ''compromise its efforts to understand and prevent diversion, or make it easier for illicit groups to penetrate our supply chains or those of any other company.''
''We briefed Treasury on Toyota's supply chains in the Middle East and the procedures that Toyota has in place to protect supply chain integrity,'' said Ed Lewis, the car giant's Washington-based director of public policy and communications.
The company says it has a ''strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,'' Lewis said.
Facebook's History of Spying - ohryan.ca
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:59
Reading Wikipedia this morning, I came across an interesting tidbit from the days when facebook was still thefacebook.com. As seen in The Social Network, after launching the site Mark Zuckerberg was under investigation for potentially stealing the idea from the Winklevoss brothers.
Not covered in the movie though, while this investigation was going on Zuckerberg did a little investigating of his own, by accessing the email accounts of the investigators:
Zuckerberg knew about the investigation so he used TheFacebook.com to find members in the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. He examined a history of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members have ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. In the cases in which they had failed to login, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members' Harvard email accounts, and he was successful in accessing two of them. In the end, three Crimson members filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg which was later settled.
~ The History of Facebook, Wikipedia
The way I read this, thefacebook.com was logging failed passwords! Meaning, when you entered an incorrect password on thefacebook.com's login page, the website would save the text you entered. Obviously websites have to have a record of your password in order to authenticate you. Passwords are normally encrypted in such a way that developers cannot access the password. The wikipedia article doesn't say whether or not regular passwords were encrypted.
However, if you were intending to use a website you created to log into email accounts of the site's users, collecting passwords that failed would give you more passwords to try when logging in to those user's third party email accounts.
Zuckerberg was caught breaking in to 2 accounts, but one has to wonder how many other accounts he broke in to. Remember, in 2004 (prior to gmail), email accounts did not have 2-factor authentication, they did not detect suspicious login activity, they did not have the security features we've come to take for granted. Anybody could log into any body else's email accounts undetected.
Password security is the most basic of implicit trust between a website and its users. A site that is logging passwords and password attempts cannot be trusted, period.
Who knows if or how the culture at Facebook has changed. Nevertheless, if the company's CEO was willing to exploit users for personal gain in the early days, what sort of things are they willing to do when governments or other powerful entities pressure them?
A Short History of U.S. Bombing of Civilian Facilities
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:32
On October 3, a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital run by M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res in Kunduz, Afghanistan, partially destroying it. Twelve staff members and 10 patients, including three children, were killed, and 37 people were injured. According to MSF, the U.S. had previously been informed of the hospital's precise location, and the attack continued for 30 minutes after staff members desperately called the U.S. military.
The U.S. first claimed the hospital had been ''collateral damage'' in an airstrike aimed at ''individuals'' elsewhere who were ''threatening the force.'' Since then, various vague and contradictory explanations have been offered by the U.S. and Afghan governments, both of which promise to investigate the bombing. MSF has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation by a commission set up under the Geneva Conventions.
While the international outcry has been significant, history suggests this is less because of what happened and more because of whom it happened to. The U.S. has repeatedly attacked civilian facilities in the past but the targets have generally not been affiliated with a European, Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization such as MSF.
Below is a sampling of such incidents since the 1991 Gulf War. If you believe some significant examples are missing, please send them our way. To be clear, we're looking for U.S. attacks on specifically civilian facilities, such as hospitals or schools.
Illustration: Matt Bors
Infant Formula Production Plant, Abu Ghraib, Iraq (January 21, 1991)
On the seventh day of Operation Desert Storm, aimed at evicting Iraq military forces from Kuwait, the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Infant Formula Production Plant in the Abu Ghraib suburb of Baghdad. Iraq declared that the factory was exactly what its name said, but the administration of President George H.W. Bush claimed it was ''a production facility for biological weapons.'' Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chimed in to say, ''It is not an infant formula factory. It was a biological weapons facility '-- of that we are sure.'' The U.S. media chortled about Iraq's clumsy, transparent propaganda, and CNN's Peter Arnett was attacked by U.S. politicians for touring the damaged factory and reporting that ''whatever else it did, it did produce infant formula.''
Iraq was telling the truth. When Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected to Jordan in 1995, he had every incentive to undermine Saddam, since he hoped the U.S. would help install him as his father-in-law's successor '-- but he told CNN ''there is nothing military about that place. '... It only produced baby milk.'' The CIA's own investigation later concluded the site had been bombed ''in the mistaken belief that it was a key BW [Biological Weapon] facility.'' The original U.S. claims have nevertheless proven impossible to stamp out. The George W. Bush administration, making the case for invading Iraq in 2003, portrayed the factory as a symbol of Iraqi deceit. When the Newseum opened in 2008, it included Arnett's 1991 reporting in a section devoted to '-- in the New York Times' description '-- ''examples of distortions that mar the profession.''
Air Raid Shelter, Amiriyah, Iraq (February 13, 1991)
The U.S. purposefully targeted an air raid shelter near the Baghdad airport with two 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs, which punched through 10 feet of concrete and killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians. A BBC journalist reported that ''we saw the charred and mutilated remains. '... They were piled onto the back of a truck; many were barely recognizable as human.'' Meanwhile, Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said: ''We are chagrined if [civilian] people were hurt, but the only information we have about people being hurt is coming out of the controlled press in Baghdad.'' Another U.S. general claimed the shelter was ''an active command-and-control structure,'' while anonymous officials said military trucks and limousines for Iraq's senior leadership had been seen at the building.
In his 1995 CNN interview, Hussein Kamel said, ''There was no leadership there. There was a transmission apparatus for the Iraqi intelligence, but the allies had the ability to monitor that apparatus and knew that it was not important.'' The Iraqi blogger Riverbend later wrote that several years after the attack, she went to the shelter and met a ''small, slight woman'' who now lived in the shelter and gave visitors unofficial tours. Eight of her nine children had been killed in the bombing.
Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory, Khartoum, Sudan (August 20, 1998)
After al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the Clinton administration targeted the Al Shifa factory with 13 cruise missiles, killing one person and wounding 11. According to President Bill Clinton, the plant was ''associated with the bin Laden network'' and was ''involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.''
The Clinton administration never produced any convincing evidence that this was true. By 2005, the best the U.S. could do was say, as the New York Timescharacterized it, that it had not ''ruled out the possibility'' that the original claims were right. The long-term damage to Sudan was enormous. Jonathan Belke of the Near East Foundation pointed out a year after the bombing that the plant had produced ''90 percent of Sudan's major pharmaceutical products'' and contended that due to its destruction ''tens of thousands of people '-- many of them children '-- have suffered and died from malaria, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases.'' Sudan has repeatedly requested a U.N. investigation of the bombing, with no success.
Train bombing, Grdelica, Serbia (April 12, 1999)
During the U.S.-led bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war, an F-15E fighter jet fired two remotely-guided missiles that hit a train crossing a bridge near Grdelica, killing at least 14 civilians. Gen. Wesley Clark, then Supreme Allied Commander Europe, called it ''an unfortunate incident we all regret.'' While the F-15 crew was able to control the missiles after they were launched, NATO released footage taken from the plane to demonstrate how quickly the train was moving and how little time the jet's crew had to react. The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau later reported that the video had been sped up three times. The paper quoted a U.S. Air Force spokesperson who said this was accidental, and they had not noticed this until months later '-- by which point ''we did not deem it useful to go public with this.''
Radio Television Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia (April 23, 1999)
Sixteen employees of Serbia's state broadcasting system were killed during the Kosovo War when NATO intentionally targeted its headquarters in Belgrade. President Clinton gave an underwhelming defense of the bombing: ''Our military leaders at NATO believe '... that the Serb television is an essential instrument of Mr. Milosevic's command and control. '... It is not, in a conventional sense, therefore, a media outlet. That was a decision they made, and I did not reverse it.'' U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told the Overseas Press Club immediately after the attack that it was ''an enormously important and, I think, positive development.'' Amnesty International later stated it was ''a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.''
Chinese Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (May 7, 1999)
Also during the Kosovo war, the U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia's capital, killing three staff and wounding more than 20. The defense secretary at the time, William Cohen, said it was a terrible mistake: ''One of our planes attacked the wrong target because the bombing instructions were based on an outdated map.'' The Observer newspaper in the U.K. later reported the U.S. had in fact deliberately targeted the embassy ''after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.'' The Observer quoted ''a source in the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency'' calling Cohen's version of events ''a damned lie.'' Prodded by the media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the New York Times produced its own investigation finding ''no evidence that the bombing of the embassy had been a deliberate act,'' but rather that it had been caused by a ''bizarre chain of missteps.'' The article concluded by quoting Porter Goss, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as saying he believed the bombing was not deliberate '' ''unless some people are lying to me.''
Red Cross complex, Kabul, Afghanistan (October 16 and October 26, 2001)
At the beginning of the U.S-led invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. attacked the complex housing the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul. In an attempt to prevent such incidents in the future, the U.S. conducted detailed discussions with the Red Cross about the location of all of its installations in the country. Then the U.S. bombed the same complex again. The second attack destroyed warehouses containing tons of food and supplies for refugees. ''Whoever is responsible will have to come to Geneva for a formal explanation,'' said a Red Cross spokesperson. ''Firing, shooting, bombing, a warehouse clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem is a very serious incident. '... Now we've got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.''
Al Jazeera office, Kabul, Afghanistan (November 13, 2001)
Several weeks after the Red Cross attacks, the U.S. bombed the Kabul bureau of Al Jazeera, destroying it and damaging the nearby office of the BBC. Al Jazeera's managing director said the channel had repeatedly informed the U.S. military of its office's location.
Al Jazeera office, Baghdad, Iraq (April 8, 2003)
Soon after the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. bombed the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera, killing reporter Tarek Ayoub and injuring another journalist. David Blunkett, the British home secretary at the time, subsequently revealed that a few weeks before the attack he had urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb Al Jazeera's transmitter in Baghdad. Blunkett argued, ''I don't think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don't actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy.''
In 2005, the British newspaper The Mirror reported on a British government memorandum recording an April 16, 2004, conversation between Blair and President Bush at the height of the U.S. assault on Fallujah in Iraq. The Bush administration was infuriated by Al Jazeera's coverage of Fallujah, and according to The Mirror, Bush had wanted to bomb the channel at its Qatar headquarters and elsewhere. However, the article says, Blair argued him out of it. Blair subsequently calledThe Mirror's claims a ''conspiracy theory.'' Meanwhile, his attorney general threatened to use the Official Secrets Act to prosecute any news outlet that published further information about the memo, and, in a secret trial, did in fact prosecute and send to jail a civil servant for leaking it.
Palestine Hotel, Baghdad, Iraq (April 8, 2003)
The same day as the 2003 bombing of the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad, a U.S. tank fired a shell at the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign journalists were then staying. Two reporters were killed: Taras Protsyuk, a cameraman for Reuters, and Jose Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecinco. An investigation by the Committee to Protect Journalists concluded that the attack, ''while not deliberate, was avoidable.''
This story has been updated to include the April 8, 2003, attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.
Ashley Judd Reveals Sexual Harassment by Studio Mogul | Variety
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:28
As part of this week's Variety Power of Women issue, Ashley Judd shared a story that she's never publicly revealed before. When she was filming Paramount's ''Kiss the Girls'' in the late 90s, Judd was sexually harassed by a mogul from a rival studio, who kept summoning her to his hotel room under the pretense of talking about roles in his movies. The situation escalated until the mogul, who Judd declined to name, tried to get Judd to watch him take a shower. Judd spoke to Variety about what happened, how she internalized the shame and eventually stood up for herself.
Ashley Judd: I was sexually harassed by one of our industry's most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses. I was making ''Kiss the Girls'' at the time, and here I was, a declared feminist. I had completed a minor in what was then called women's studies, which we now call gender studies. And yet I did not recognize at the time what was happening to me. It took years before I could evaluate that incident and realize that there was something incredibly wrong and illegal about it. And I think that's what's happening in Hollywood with regard to female crew members, above-the-line and below-the-line talent, and pay disparity. We're individually and collectively coming to a realization and acceptance that this is an entrenched part of the reality, and I think that talking about it is essential to the process of becoming aware, accepting that this is reality and then ultimately taking action.
See More:How Women in Hollywood Are Finally Taking a Stand Against Sexism
In my example, there was no casting involved. This was just twirling the lasso. I think it's very important to note that I considered myself empowered. He was very stealth and expert about it. He groomed me, which is a technical term '' Oh, come meet at the hotel for something to eat. Fine, I show up. Oh, he's actually in his room. I'm like, Are you kidding me? I just worked all night. I'm just going to order cereal. It went on in these stages. It was so disgusting. He physically lured me by saying, ''Oh, help me pick out what I'm going to wear.'' There was a lot that happened between the point of entry and the bargaining. There was this whole process of bargaining'--''Come do this, come do this, come do this.'' And I would say, ''No, no, no.'' I have a feeling if this is online and people have the opportunity to post comments, a lot of the people will say, ''Why didn't you leave the room?'', which is victim-blaming. When I kept saying no to everything, there was a huge asymmetry of power and control in that room.
This will be familiar to all the women to whom this has happened. I have a feeling we are a legion. I was with a bunch of other actors, and it was critical that it was actors: The exact same thing had happened to them by the exact same mogul. Only when we were sitting around talking about it did we realize our experiences were identical. There was a mutual strengthening and fortification of our resolve. One of the things that comes to mind for me: there was a really big feature that was done on this person in a national magazine, and there were all these allegations that they controlled the interview and had people listening in. And I thought, ''If someone had come and talked to me, I don't care. I will absolutely share that experience.'' Part of the strategy that keeps girls and women constrained in their professional experiences is retaliation and ridicule.
See More:Variety's Power of Women 2015
The ultimate thing when I was weaseling out of everything else was, ''Will you watch me take a shower?'' And all the other women, sitting around this table with me, said, ''Oh my god'--that's what he said to me too.'' In that moment, I told him something like, ''When I win an Academy Award in one of your movies.'' He said, ''No, when you get nominated.'' I said, ''No, no, when I win an Academy Award.'' That was a small moment of power when I was able to contradict him and hold to my reality. And then I got out of there. And by the way, I've never been offered a movie by that studio. Ever.
I beat myself up for a while. This is another part of the process. We internalize the shame. It really belongs to the person who is the aggressor. And so later, when I was able to see what happened, I thought: Oh god, that's wrong. That's sexual harassment. That's illegal. I was really hard on myself because I didn't get out of it by saying, ''OK motherf'--er, I'm calling the police.''
That's what I should have done, because I'm smart. That also contributed to my journey of coming forward, because I felt bad about myself initially for the way I maintained my safety and got out of the room. When, in fact, what I did was exceedingly clever and brilliant and self-preserving. That's another element of how we internalize those attitudes and talking to other people is so crucial is being able to take action.
See More:Female-Driven Movies Make Money, So Why Aren't More Being Made?
A few years later, I attended a gathering for the literati in New York at the premiere of ''Double Jeopardy.'' I was getting ready to say something out loud across the crowded table to him. He looked at me and tried to shut it down. I was no longer that na¯ve ing(C)nue who couldn't identify what was happening as it was happening. I was getting ready to nail him on it, and he said, ''I think I'll let you out of that deal we made.'' He knew I would come into my power.
This happened to be a man who did this to a woman. But this system is one that all of us participate. I feel like I could have easily had a breakthrough conversation about what happened with men as I could with those women. We're all part of the problem, but we're all part of the solution. This is one of those incidents where any work I needed to do on it was completed when I confronted him. Healing comes in a lot of different ways. Some things require intensive, contained work. Some things could be resolved with a good run or punching bag or an interaction with the perpetrator, in which one is able to take one's power back.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed.
I Want My Progressive TV! What If MSNBC Dumps the Left? | The Nation
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:26
Most PopularThis means that on weekends, MSNBC will continue to feature a diverse group of hosts, though they've nearly vanished from the rest of the cable network's schedule. MSNBC's weekday and prime-time hosts had been the most racially diverse in the business. But now, out of the network's 16-plus hours of programming a day, only two are led by people of color: Jos(C) Diaz-Balart and Tamron Hall. Maybe MSNBC plans to fix that when it fills Sharpton's 6 pm slot, but for now the weekdays are looking awfully white.
* * *
OK, that's all a huge shake-up, but in itself it's no putsch. After all, MSNBC has had straight-news daytime lineups before while running the lefty Maddow and Keith Olbermann at night. It's true that Hayes and O'Donnell are ''under the microscope,'' an MSNBC insider told me, but ''not in the service of getting away from a progressive'' sensibility. ''MSNBC has carved out an important space in terms of its perspective and opinion; it's unique, and we plan on continuing that for prime time,'' this person said, adding that if Hayes and O'Donnell are booted, their replacements will be ''in their vein.''
You want proof? Not only are the suits keeping Maddow, who pulls MSNBC's highest numbers (she often beats Anderson Cooper on CNN, although Fox's Megyn Kelly crushes them both), but they won't rule out bringing back Olbermann. ''I've heard plenty of people I know to be credible who say that Andy would be open to it, given the right conditions,'' a different MSNBC insider told me. Of course, since the ''right conditions'' might never materialize, any talk of Olbermann's return could be a feint. But the point is that MSNBC wants big names with ratings punch, and being a lib is not necessarily a problem.
''I don't think Andy or anyone else in the corporation has a problem with high-rated liberal content,'' my source said. The issue is rather the overall impact of remaking MSNBC in NBC's image. ''The message from the top is that NBC and MSNBC share one set of values'--as of today. If that's the guideline,'' the source added, ''that sets a different tone.''
Mainstream news standards, which turn on he-said/she-said attempts at ''balance,'' can eclipse the truth. But MSNBC's he-opined/she-opined standards, especially in daytime, had become boring: one uninspired if liberal show after another, all of them indistinguishable, featuring the same stories, the same guests, but different hosts. And, ultimately, boring hurts the left'--it always has. Poor ratings don't prove that progressive thought is unpopular, just that MSNBC had become predictable. Function followed format, and the format was flat.
This wasn't inevitable. In fact, one of MSNBC's most popular shows was born by cracking open the formula. Up With Chris Hayes debuted in September 2011, offering two hours of nuanced, complex, and often surprising political talk every Saturday and Sunday morning. The New York Times called Hayes ''Generation Y's wonk prince of the morning political talk-show circuit.'' Hayes, The Nation's editor at large, created an exciting new habitat: He brought on academics, little-known activists, and still-lesser-known ''regular'' people affected by DC policies. He told his guests, ''The first and foremost important rule of the show: We're not on television'--no talking points, no sound bites.'' Get a FREE PDF copy of our 150th anniversary issue.Sign Up
Ratings were good, and social media even better. MSNBC president Phil Griffin was so happy with Up that, in February 2012, he added Melissa Harris-Perry (then a Nation columnist) to the weekend, and a year later moved Hayes to the showcase 8 pm slot (at which point Kornacki took over as the host of Up).
Sadly, that's when the straitjacket of the one-hour format began to tighten. Hayes continues to push beyond talking points in his prime-time show (All In was MSNBC's only show to win an Emmy this year), but too often the whole presentation feels rushed.
Still, with Up, Hayes'--as well as Maddow, who busts conventions in other ways, like starting her show with uninterrupted, 18-minute-long stories'--proves that progressives can thrive on cable news. The MSNBC overhaul doesn't mean that lefty politics can't survive in mass media, but what it does indicate is that new ideas and formats need to come from a new generation of producers who can take us beyond cable's Big Three.
* * *
In fact, over the last several years, a whole world of more or less progressive TV news has emerged'--streaming, on demand, on mobile, and, increasingly, on cable TV itself. Vice News, Fusion, and Free Speech TV are available on cable and satellite, as are Al Jazeera America and Russia Today.
As for web TV, HuffPost Live now streams eight hours of original programming a day. Cenk Uygur's nightly show The Young Turks is one of the most-watched online news shows in the world, having racked up more than 2 billion views on YouTube. Even MSNBC is producing its own digital alt-news channel, the assertively lowercased shift by msnbc.
The flurry of news sources is part of a larger, perhaps counterintuitive, wave of digital media rushing to produce old-media TV fare. It's a trend that Michael Wolff captures in the title of his new book, Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age. Media companies don't want to bet on one platform to the exclusion of others. As Wade Beckett, Fusion's chief programming officer, told me: ''The opportunity for us is that we are seeing a lot of activity from digital-media companies trying to get on TV, and legacy-media companies trying to buy a way into growing digital audiences.''
With a few exceptions, most of these news sources aim dead-on at young demographics (or, as a friend of mine calls it, ''news with tattoos''). We're not talking about the traditionally coveted 25-to-54 ''demo,'' but about the even more coveted millennials, loosely defined as between the ages of 18 and 34. (The median age for Fox viewers is 68; for MSNBC, 61; CNN is break- dancing at 58.)
These newer outlets aren't often explicitly political. Few are as obsessed with Beltway or horse-race politics (or plane crashes) as CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. Their progressivism tends to be more embedded in their emphasis on activism, diversity, and environmental issues, and in deep-dig cultural reporting.Ad Policy
Or, in the case of Vice, in a dude-against-the-machine ethos.
* * *
Vice News is making the most ambitious entry into TV news. Before the end of the year, it expects to launch a daily half-hour newscast on HBO, as well as on the streaming service HBO Now. That's in addition to expanding its Emmy-winning weekly HBO series from 14 to 35 episodes a year through 2018.
Under the headline ''HBO-Vice Deal Should Scare the S*** Out of TV News,'' Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein calls the daily newscast ''groundbreaking.'' Vice's deeply immersive, sneakers-on-the-ground style of reporting could, Wallenstein writes, ''reinvigorate the whole notion of being a news brand, and make it relevant to younger audiences in a way that's not just commercially viable but truly vital to a democracy dependent on an informed citizenry.''
Whew. Those are big expectations, even for Vice's gonzo co-founder Shane Smith. The late, great media critic David Carr once thought Smith's promises that Vice News would become ''the next CNN'' and ''the next MTV'' were ''outrageous.'' By 2014, however, Carr allowed that those claims ''are becoming truer every passing day.'' Citing a Peabody Award''winning series, The Islamic State, and Simon Ostrovsky's ''remarkable dispatches'' from Ukraine, Carr wrote, ''I'm just glad that someone's willing to do the important work of bearing witness, the kind that can get you killed if something goes wrong.'' (In August, Turkish authorities arrested three Vice journalists, charging them with aiding terrorists. The two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were released last month; Mohammed Ismael Rasool, an Iraqi journalist based in Turkey, is still being held.)
Fusion, a cable and digital network launched almost two years ago, is still reaching for Vice's moxie. The original idea behind Fusion, jointly owned by Univision and ABC, was to attract young Latinos whose first language is English. But finding that focus too constricting, Fusion soon branched out to target all millennials'--a generation so vast and diverse (its 83 million members far exceed the boomers' 75.4 million) that, as The New York Times wrote in a piece about Fusion's struggles, its members ''sometimes seem united only in the dreams of marketers.'' Programming chief Beckett acknowledges that the network is ''still in an awareness-building stage.''
Fusion TV does have a powerful draw: Univision's immensely popular Jorge Ramos. In his first English-language newscast, he hosts Fusion's weekly America With Jorge Ramos. Who can forget that Donald Trump recently had him physically removed from a news conference, telling Ramos (who holds dual Mexican/US citizenship), ''Go back to Univision''?
But most of Fusion's news coverage comes via investigative documentaries (like the Emmy-nominated Pimp City, on sex trafficking in the United States). Weekly series include TheCannabusiness Report and Drug Wars. Fusion has won one GLAAD award and was nominated for another for its reporting on LGBT issues. ''Fusion,'' says Beckett, ''is hell-bent on standing up for individuality and diversity in today's America by telling under- reported stories.''Ad Policy
In a promo for her news and culture talk show Come Here and Say That, Alicia Menendez, formerly of HuffPost Live (and the daughter of Senator Robert Menendez), both enacted and spoofed the industry obsession with the millennial market. ''Upper management asked me to do a promo and say how frequently I use Twitter and Instagram,'' she said. ''I'm in your pants whenever you want.'' Of course, she meant she's on the smartphone in your pocket, but the sex and devices and rock-and-roll point is made.
Probably the most social-media-ized of the alt-newscasts is HuffPost Live. Remarkably, it had hosted some 28,000 guests from more than 100 countries as of April. It's done this, co-creator Roy Sekoff tells me, by upending the sort of dull talk-show conventions that MSNBC's liberal dayside had embraced. With Skype and Google Hangout, ''we redefined what an expert is. If you have skin in the game, you're an expert.'' Instead of flipping through a ''golden Rolodex,'' he says, ''we have our people scour social media and ask, 'Would you like to come on and expand on that?'''
Sekoff has put his finger on the stifling cable formats that are turning off younger viewers, not to mention older ones like me. ''They literally get the same five people'' to talk Trump or the Iran deal or China, Sekoff complains. ''We don't do that.''
HuffPost Live is also breaking convention by allowing shows to run longer if the conversation gets interesting and also by rotating hosts. ''We're not personality-driven,'' Sekoff says. And while that doesn't always make for compelling viewing, it does seem to be working by at least one measure: HuffPost Live, Sekoff says, is getting 100 million video views a month.
This should come as no surprise, but most of the news channels mentioned here are owned by enormous media corporations. Rupert Murdoch has a 5 percent stake in Vice, while the Disney- and Hearst-owned A&E has another 10 percent. Fusion's ABC co-parent is also owned by Disney. Both Fusion and Vice have run up against their corporate grandparents' strictures. According to The New York Times, Disney put Fusion ''on notice'' to avoid stories that could offend consumers'--like those based on hacked e-mails from Sony. In negotiations with Vice, the Times wrote, Disney and Hearst insisted on a clause protecting them ''in the event that Vice content 'embarrasses Hearst or Disney in any way.'''
You also have to wonder how much net-neutrality champion Huffington Post will champ on now that it's been bought by Verizon, one of the leading neutrality opponents. Same question goes for all of the news properties owned by media companies, including the Comcast-owned MSNBC, which has not been vigorously covering net neutrality.
This is one thing that sets Free Speech TV apart. ''We're not owned by a billionaire, a corporation, or a government. We are unbought and uncompromised in our ability to present a progressive view of the world,'' says FSTV executive director Ron Williams.
Less millennial-centric than Vice or Fusion, the two-decade-old FSTV grew the old-fashioned way: by televising radio talk shows and gradually upping the visuals. So you can watch Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, shows with former Current TV hosts Stephanie Miller and Bill Press, and Ring of Fire with Mike Papantonio, Bobby Kennedy Jr., and Sam Seder. FSTV is trying to raise the funds to bring on Elon James White's web series This Week in Blackness every weekday. And Thom Hartmann's ''Brunch With Bernie'' segment has been airing for years, long before Sanders's presidential bid.
Williams knows that you may not be aware of any of this. Up until recently, he says, ''We didn't market ourselves so well.'' With 14 hours a day of live (or ''near-live'') content, both on TV and streaming, FSTV outdoes HuffPost Live's eight hours. But while the network is in 40 million homes, thanks largely to satellite providers DirecTV and Dish, it doesn't yet have its own channel on a big-time cable provider.
For all its shortcomings, MSNBC remains the closest thing we have to a daily, hour-by-hour counterweight to Fox News. Vice, Fusion, and HuffPost Live are not going to become the Anti-Fox; they lack the motivation of a direct competitor. You need to be on the same stage'--literally the same ''platform'''--of big, bold, mass-market commercial TV to duke it out with Fox News.
Take the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Media Matters surveyed the major news networks (almost all owned by companies that lobbied for the TPP) from August 1, 2013, to May 10, 2015, and found that on cable, only MSNBC mentioned the TPP with any frequency: 124 times, compared with Fox's 12 and the Time Warner''owned CNN's mere two. Of those 124 mentions, the overwhelming majority (103) came from the now-canceled Ed Show.
''People are concerned about what the brand is becoming,'' one of the MSNBC insiders tells me. ''Is there space to be against the war, not simply skeptical of it in a he-said/she-said way?''
Although MSNBC never was or could be as dogged a Fox-fighter as, say, Jon Stewart, it's basically what progressives have on daily cable. Money, ratings, and popularity are what the media's made of. But MSNBC, at its best, is also attempting something deeper: trying to dig us out from under what Stewart calls ''Bullshit Mountain.'' MSNBC has the shovels; it needs to hold on to its will.
Harvard Debate Team Lose to NY Inmates in Prison Competition | GOOD
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:23
A touching story decades in the making. byCraig Carilli
Government-enforced monopolies can reduce innovation and prevent access to life-saving drugs, warns Doctors Without Borders byDJ Pangburn
The Planet
A $7 million conservation project takes to the sky. byAarian Marshall
Actor Randy Quaid detained in Canada -report
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 01:20
TORONTO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. actor Randy Quaid was arrested in Montreal by Canada Border Services Agency officials, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported on Wednesday.
Officials did not confirm that the actor was arrested and the CBC did not report what he was charged with. Quaid had sought asylum in Canada in 2010, claiming that business associates sought to harm him.
Evi Quaid, the actor's wife, told CBC her husband was detained on Tuesday after attending a regular check-in with the immigration agency's office in Montreal.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) could not immediately comment.
Quaid, 65, is known for movies such as "The Last Picture Show" and "The Last Detail," for which he received an Oscar nomination. He is the older brother of actor Dennis Quaid.
In an unverified Twitter account on Wednesday, Evi Quaid said Randy Quaid was arrested by a CBSA agent on Oct 6. She also tweeted that she wanted to renounce the citizenship she was given in 2010.
Quaid, a Texas native, had sought asylum in Canada in 2010, alleging a long-standing plot by former business associates, who he has called "star whackers," to steal his wealth. He has said eight of his acting friends have been murdered in recent years.
Quaid and his wife were arrested in California in 2010, once on charges of failing to pay their bill at a hotel, and another time on suspicion of burglary and entering a building without consent. (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by David Gregorio)
NASA and The European Space Agency Prep Public for Alien Disclosure | World Truth.TV
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:34
First NASA chief scientist, Ellen Stofan openly admitted that alien life is 'imminent' and just last Tuesday, Dr. John Grunsfeld of NASA's Science Mission Directorate announced that the agency was 'on the verge' of discovering life on planets other than earth.
Stofan and Grunsfeld hide the fact that NASA has been lying to the public about known extraterrestrial life for decades now, and that ETs have likely have been visiting earth for centuries.
Grunsfeld told a House Committee:
''Are we alone? Many, many people on planet Earth want to know'.... We are on the cusp of being able to answer that question.''
And Stofan's recent comments were even more bold:
''I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade . . .I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20-30 years. We're on the verge of things that people have wondered about for millennia. Within all of our lifetimes we're going to understand that there is life on other bodies in the solar system. We're going to understand the implications of that for life here on Earth.''
Her declaration is synchronized with the agency's recent discovery of water of five of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons. We were also told by NASA recently, that their Kepler mission found another 'earth' in the 'habitable zone' in our Universe circulating around a star that resembles our sun. NASA defines 'habitable' based on the ability of a planet to pool water ostensibly to support life as we know it.
And then there's the Guardian article titled ''Is Kepler 425b humanity's best chance to find alien life?'' that discusses how earth's twin '' an exoplanet more similar to our own than has ever before been known is a likely case for alien life '' never mind the 12 other hospitable planets that the Seti Institute is researching, and the fact that we've assumed all life would require the same things as ourselves, without considering that other sentient beings might not even have physical form.
Russia has even threatened the US, essentially saying, ''tell the world about aliens or we will.''
But there is more to the story '' as usual '' than NASA and the European Space Agency, or even Seti are revealing.
Beginning in early March 2015, there was an alleged meeting on the moon involving up to 70 private individuals along with about 120 officials representing different secret space programs and national governments who heard plans about disclosing the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Dr. Michael Salla and David Wilcock have been giving 'air time' or you could say 'Internet real estate' to a whistleblower named Corey Goode. He is also known as GoodETxSG. He has his own Facebook page titled after the Sphere Being Alliance, a life-form(s) he has been working with to help disclose the massive extent of our corporate military industrial complex into space.
Whether you believe his wild testimony of secret space programs and bases on the moon or not, the very fact that thousands of people are signing up to see him be interviewed by Wilcock on Gaiam TV is a testament to just how ready people are to be told the truth about extra terrestrial life.
When you pontificate the facts, GoodETxSG is showing up precisely when the largest space-related military industrial complex arm is admitting openly that alien life exists after decades of cover-ups and numerous possible murders, or the defaming of military personal, astronauts, and scientists who have been trying to tell us the same thing for some time now.
While it may be difficult to swallow the facts as Goode tells us '' particularly that dozens of extra terrestrials have been manipulating our genetic code, and that the military industrial complex is even more bloated in space as it is here on earth '' his testimony is at least worth hearing, and then deciding upon for yourself.
You can catch up rather quickly on what Goode has already 'disclosed' via Divine Cosmos, David Wilcock's website, or you can go directly to Gaiam to watch his interviews. Coupled with NASA's recent statements, and Russia's threats, it seems something is brewing '' perhaps the pressure is truly immense enough finally, that these agencies will now have to tell the truth.
Founder of WorldTruth.Tv and WomansVibe.com Eddie (5588 Posts)Eddie L. is the founder and owner of WorldTruth.TV. This website is dedicated to educating and informing people with articles on powerful and concealed information from around the world. I have spent the last 30+ years researching Bible, History, Secret Societies, Symbolism
>> William Cooper Predicted Rise In School Shootings In His Book Behold A Pale Horse
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:24
Cooper predicted fast and furious along with ties between mass shooters and psychotropic drugsKristan T. Harris | The Rundown Live
Author, broadcaster and former naval intelligence officer William Cooper has predicted many events which have come to fruition in recent years, making him one the more accurate philosophers of his era.
In his book Behold a Pale Horse, published in 1991, William Milton Cooper painted a picture of a government willing to manufacture and use any catastrophic event to further a global agenda to destroy America's sovereignty by confiscating our guns.
In chapter 12 of his book in Behold a Pale Horse, Cooper goes on to warn us of a rise in school shootings in order to justify stricter gun laws. He believed the government was willing to encourage importation of firearms for criminals to use in order to accomplish this agenda. This later became Eric Holder's Fast & Furious scandal.
''The government encouraged the manufacture and importation of firearms for the criminals to use. This is intended to foster a feeling of insecurity, which would lead the American people to voluntarily disarm themselves by passing laws against firearms. Using drugs and hypnosis on mental patients in a process called Orion, the CIA inculcated the desire in these people to open fire on schoolyards and thus inflame the anti-gun lobby. This plan is well under way, and so far is working perfectly. The middle class is begging the government to do away with the 2nd Amendment.''
The author also tied in the usage of psychoactive and/or psychotropic drugs with mass shootings. Almost all mass shooters are on some form of mind altering drugs, and some even have bizarre ties to odd military programs.
Cooper in his broadcast Hour of the Time, warned about 9/11 and named Osama Bin Laden by name. He went on to provide evidence and expose the governments complacency and inability to find Osama Bin Laden leading up to the days of September 11th, 2001.
''Whatever is going to happen they're going to blame on Osama Bin Laden don't you even believe it. Another social illusion, social engineering project to change the minds and the attitudes and the beliefs of the people of the world and especially the united states to bring about one world social totalitarian government. Can you believe what they were saying for a while, that Timothy Mcveigh, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, the defense intelligence agency, can not find Osama Bin Laden in their wildest dreams but Timothy Mcveigh and Terry Nichols could? And recruit him to be their partners in blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building? How stupid can you be, these guys didn't have a nickel between them.''
Although William was very accurate on many of his political predictions he also was known for his fringe belief in UFO's, which he rebuked near the end of his life. He believed that the UFO conspiracy is being used to cover-up a real top secret government aircraft program.
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Oregon shooting: Chris Harper-Mercer 'discharged from army after suicide attempt' - Telegraph
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:43
The gunman who shot dead nine people at a college in Oregon last week was discharged from the army after attempting suicide, according to officials quoted by The Wall Street Journ
Chris Harper-Mercer was discharged after one month of basic training at Fort Jackson, in South Carolina, in 2008.
The revelation adds to evidence of his troubled state of mind long before he opened fire at Umqua Community Collage and raises fresh questions about how he was able to buy an assortment of firearms.
The Wall Street Journal said the army declined to discuss details of Harper-Mercer's discharge but law enforcement officers investigating the mass shooting said it came after he tried to take his own life.
Crucially, he was not given a dishonourable discharge which can affect an individual's ability to legally buy guns.
Harper-Mercer opened fire in a classroom last Thursday.The victims included three students in their first week of college.
The attack ended when the 26-year-old gunman killed himself after being wounded by plainclothes police officers.
Since then neighbours have spoken of a troubled young man who had a keen interest in guns.
His mother, Laurel Harper, posted a number of messages on online message boards describing his battle with Asperger's syndrome and she kept loaded rifles at home.
She and Harper-Mercer shared an apartment outside Roseburg where investigators recovered eight firearms.
''We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific events that unfolded on Thursday,'' the family said in a statement Saturday. ''Our thoughts, our hearts and our prayers go out to all of the families of those who died and were injured.''
Harper-Mercer left a two-page note setting out his anger before launching his attack.
In it he described his unhappiness at not having a girlfriend and wrote: ''Other people think I'm crazy but I'm not. I'm the sane one.''
Report: Saudi Officials to Behead 28 Muslims for Holy Mecca Stampede - The Gateway Pundit
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:41
1,300 Muslims died in this year's Mecca stampede.28 more Muslims will join them.
The head of the Hajj pilgrimage committee blamed ''Africans'' for the deadly stampede in September that killed over from 700 to 1,300 pilgrims.
Saudi officials blamed pilgrims for not following the rules for the deadly stampede. Others blamed the convoy of the son of the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for the tragedy.
About two million Muslims from 180 countries arrived in Saudi Arabia this year for the annual pilgrimage.
The Saudis bulldozed the bodies after the deadly stampede.
Just like garbage''
Pictures emerge of #Saudi officials bulldozing bodies of dead #Hajj pilgrims like garbage & dumping them into a pile. pic.twitter.com/6uKtbuF9Rm
'-- Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) September 26, 2015
The Saudi Kingdom will behead 28 Muslims who reportedly caused the stampede in Mecca last month.ABNA reported:
While collecting bodies and providing medical care for the wounded of today's incident in Mina have not ended yet, an Arabic media reported that 28 people who were involved in the incident to be executed tomorrow!
According to Beirut Daily al-Diyar it is so possible that the king of Saudi Arabia to order the execution of who caused this deadly accident.
''This religious decree will be issued immediately in Mina tomorrow; they will be charged with violating security issues and disobeying orders which claimed the lives of more than 1000 pilgrims and brought disrepute for Saudi authorities,'' al-Diyar daily added.
It is important to say that so far Saudi authorities have refused to accept responsibility for the accident and blamed pilgrims for this event. So the authenticity of the news is uncertain.
At least 1,300 people have been killed and nearly 805 others injured in a crush during Hajj pilgrimage rituals outside Mecca.
'Failure in Nuclear Security': The Moldova Wake-Up Call - ABC News
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:35
Dramatic video released overnight shows what authorities say are the early stages of a nightmare scenario for the U.S.: Criminal gangs with access to nuclear material from Russia, prepared to sell to ISIS.
The videos, covering two raids conducted in Moldova in the last 10 months, show the plots as they were foiled by Moldovan authorities reportedly working with the FBI -- the latest in a series of troubling incidents involving some material that could be used in the construction of a deadly dirty bomb.
''It's undeniable evidence of a failure in nuclear security. Material that was supposed to be under authorized control was found outside of it,'' Will Tobey of Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs told ABC News.
As reported in an investigation by The Associated Press, ISIS never got close to the nuclear material in the Moldovan operations, and the buyers were really undercover agents. The amount of radioactive material sold was said to be small and of low quality.
Analysts and nuclear security observers told ABC News today that the threat from black market nuclear material has been relatively low-level but constant since the break-up of the Soviet Union, and has recently taken an even more challenging turn as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has just about reached its nadir in terms of nuclear security.
Russia announced in November that it will not send diplomats to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, the first time the Russians have shunned the summit in years.
''The U.S. and, frankly, the Russian activities in this issue have been very significant over two decades,'' Tobey told ABC News. ''But unfortunately, the Russians have decided to end the cooperation, and it leaves us with very little opportunity to affect nuclear security in Russia.''
A list compiled by the Terrorism Research Initiative details more than 360 smuggling and security ''incidents'' in the Black Sea region from 1990 to 2011 -- by far the most stemming from Russia.
The former head of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, said that if the Russians ''aren't helping, it makes the smuggling market that much more lucrative and that much harder to stop.''
''It's very difficult to be confident we are stopping every one of these types of smuggling operations,'' said Olsen, now an ABC News contributor.
Representatives for the Russian government at its embassy in Washington did not respond to request for comment today.
Several U.S. counter-terrorism officials downplayed the Moldovan busts '' the most recent of which took place in December 2014 and February 2015 -- saying that the country's security services were going public now to show they've been serious about cracking down on the black market for nuclear material in order to discourage smugglers.
The criminal gangs selling the material to buyers tried to drive up the price of the illicit material by claiming it was powerful and radioactive, and that there were competing buyers from a Middle Eastern terrorist group, a law enforcement official told ABC News.
"Our assessment was that the sellers were financially motivated not ideologically-driven," the official said, echoing comments by other counter-terrorism officials today.
Of the handful of Moldovan stings leading to arrests, the FBI was involved in the two cases they deemed most serious, officials said. In the case in February involving cesium, the sample sold to the undercover officers wasn't radioactive, as the sellers had claimed, officials said.
The FBI was "unable to determine" whether there were any criminal kingpins from large networks who got away and still have radioactive material, one official said, adding that those arrested may have been the only individuals directly involved.
''President Obama has made preventing nuclear terrorism one of the United States' top foreign policy priorities, labeling it in his 2009 Prague speech 'the single most important threat' to U.S. national security," the White House National Security Council said in a statement. The statement referenced the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit ''where global leaders will discuss the evolving threat of nuclear terrorism and highlight steps that can be taken together to counter nuclear smuggling and deter, detect and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism,'' but did not mention Russia's expected absence.
Olsen and other experts told ABC News today that while the threat of nuclear terrorism is very low relative to the day-to-day threats the U.S. faces, the consequences of an attack would be ''catastrophic.''
''I worry about it every night,'' said Sharon Squassoni, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Proliferation Prevention Program. ''You have to look at the consequence versus probability. If you look at the probability of a terrorist group either acquiring or putting together a full-up nuclear weapon, the probability is low. But the consequence is off the charts.''
Squassoni was specifically referring to a fully-formed nuclear device -- believed well beyond ISIS's capabilities -- but said the math gets scarier for dirty bombs, which can use conventional explosives in combination with highly radioactive material.
''The probability of a terrorist organization getting its hands on radioactive material is much higher,'' she told ABC News. ''It doesn't have the kind of catastrophic effect a nuclear detonation would have, but it is still something that we completely want to prevent a group like ISIS from getting... You could imagine an explosive device with radioactive material detonated in any American city '' that's truly a weapon of terror.''
ISIS rarely discusses even an interest in nuclear material -'' outside of an admittedly ''far-fetched'' scenario when a British captive held by the group once purportedly ruminated about ISIS buying a nuke from Pakistan -'' and top current and former U.S. counter-terrorism officials told ABC News other threats are more immediately concerning, such as ISIS's reported possession of chemical weapons.
Olsen said that he suspects even a dirty bomb is likely beyond ISIS at this point, but it was hardly a reassuring thought.
''I think it's clear that they have the resources, they have the money to buy and apparently there are circles of gangs in eastern Europe willing to sell,'' he said. ''The intention itself is quite concerning.''
State Trooper Vehicles Hacked
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:21
Car-hacking research initiative in Virginia shows how even older vehicles could be targeted in cyberattacks.A state trooper responding to a call starts his vehicle, but is unable to shift the gear from park to drive. The engine RPMs suddenly spike and the engine accelerates, no foot on the pedal. Then the engine cuts off on its own.
The unmarked 2012 Chevrolet Impala from the Virginia State Police's (VSP) fleet has been hacked -- but luckily, by good hackers.
This is what police officers could someday face in the age of car hacking. It's just one in a series of cyberattacks waged on the VSP's Impala and on one of its 2013 Ford Taurus marked patrol cars as part of an experiment by a public-private partnership to test how state trooper vehicles could be sabotaged via cyberattacks. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in May first announced the initiative, which was aimed at protecting the state's public safety agencies and citizens from vehicle-hacking.
Among the organizations that worked on the project were the Virginia State Police, the University of Virginia, Mitre Corp., Mission Secure Inc. (MSi), Kaprica Security, Spectrum, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Digital Bond Labs, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The research was conducted in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division and the US Department of Transportation's Volpe Transportation Systems Center.
Car-hacking has shifted into overdrive this past year, mainly thanks to research by famed car hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who this summer demonstrated how they were able to remotely control a 2014 Jeep Cherokee's steering, braking, high beams, turn signals, windshield wipers and fluid, and door locks, as well as reset the speedometer and tachometer, kill the engine, and disengage the transmission so the accelerator pedal failed.
There were no state troopers driving into ditches or rolling into highway exit ramps after losing control of the gas pedal: unlike Miller and Valasek's video demonstration of those hacks with a journalist behind the wheel, the VSP research didn't hack moving vehicles. But the Virginia project demonstrated how even non-networked, older-model vehicles are also susceptible to cyberattacks.
The hacks of the VSP cruisers require initial physical tampering of the vehicle as well. The researchers inserted rogue devices in the two police vehicles to basically reprogram some of the car's electronic operations, or to wage the attacks via mobile devices, which they demonstrated.
The project evolved out of concerns by security experts as well as police officials of the dangers of criminal or terror groups tampering with state police vehicles to sabotage investigations or assist in criminal acts. And unlike most car-hacking research to date, it includes the creation of prototype solutions for blocking cyberattacks as well as data-gathering for forensics purposes.
Perhaps a bigger surprise than the car hacks themselves was that a police department would agree to participate in potentially sensitive cyberattack research. But Capt. Jerry L. Davis of the Virginia State Police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, says there was no hesitation by law enforcement officials in the state when the project was first proposed. "Our executive staff was aware of the issue in the arena and some of the cascading effects that could occur if we didn't start to take a proactive" approach, Davis says.
The VSP even tested out some of the attacks on its students. "We wanted to be able to convey that message to them: you need to consider [cyberattacks] as you respond to incidents," he says. While he says there's been no confirmed cyberattacks on VSP vehicles thus far, "then again, we don't know what we don't know."
The VSP has around 155 2012 Chevrolet Impalas in its fleet, and 427 2013 Ford Tauruses, as well as a mix of other vehicle makes and models. Neither Ford nor GM worked directly on the project, but both carmakers were apprised of it. They also provided rare public statements about vehicle cybersecurity when contacted by Dark Reading.
"The University of Virginia study is helpful to remind industry, regulators, law enforcement and consumers that cybersecurity is an issue that requires focused attention. The staged cyber-attack on a Ford vehicle required unrestricted physical access to the interior to install a device that provided remote access to the electronic control module. This study does not simulate any immediate real-world risk," Ford said in its statement. "It highlights the need to be vigilant about vehicle security and to avoid plugging in devices or technologies that do not have proper security safeguards. And, it serves as a reminder that all connected computing systems should have appropriate safeguards in place to mitigate the threat of cyber-attacks."
GM declined to comment directly on the project, but noted that it's working on securing its vehicles from cyberattacks: "GM takes matters such as potential cyber threats, which affect our customers' safety and security very seriously. We are taking a layered approach to in-vehicle cybersecurity and are designing many vehicle systems so that they can be updated with enhanced security measures as potential threats evolve," GM said in its statement. "We recently created an integrated organization, Vehicle and Vehicle Services Cybersecurity, which consists of internal experts who work with outside specialists, and is actively working to minimize risks of unauthorized access to vehicles and customer data."
The Hacks
In addition to the gearshift, instrument panel, and engine hacks, researchers from Mitre Corp. also wrote attack code that opened the trunk, unlocked the passenger doors and locked the driver's door, and ran the windshield wipers and wiper fluid.
"We think this is really not about car hacking as it is about coming up with strategies" to protect vehicles from attack, says Brian Barrios, portfolio director of Mitre's National Cybersecurity FFRDC.
The first set of attacks by Mitre occurs via a smartphone app connected via Bluetooth to a hacking device planted in the vehicle, he says. "This car [the Impala] doesn't have Bluetooth or cellular" connectivity built in, he says, so connectivity was provided via the Mitre device.
"This is custom software we" wrote for the attacks, Barrios says. The attacks would require some knowledge of the car model's electronics, he notes, so it's not an attack "the average person" could pull off.
"But it's not so advanced that it's outside the realm of possibility," he says.
Kaprica Security built a real-time device to thwart such attacks and to gather forensic data from an attack. Sagar Momin, engineer and co-founder of Kaprica, says his proof-of-concept tool could be plugged into the car's so-called On Board Diagnostic s (OBD) II in the form of a dongle. "It will record any forensics or other issues," he says. "It knows when there are abnormal messages [to the car]" and blocks them, he says.
The processor is faster than the car's own network, aka the CAN (Controller Area Network) bus, so it's able to determine whether to block or allow a message to pass to the car's controls. Data is written to an SD card, where it's stored for forensics investigation purposes. A state trooper could plug in the device when he got into the vehicle, Momin says.
MSi performed its own set of attacks on the VSP's marked Ford Taurus cruiser. One attack basically performs a denial-of-service hack that blocks the car from starting. The researchers also were able to remotely start up the car from a smartphone-borne attack, and lock and unlock the car such that the driver would be trapped in the vehicle unless he or she rolled down the window to manually open the door.
"A policeman would get out of the car to see what's wrong, he looks under the hood and the car starts itself and the dashboard is going crazy. Horns blow, lights blink, and he decides this car is no good," says Barry Horowitz, chair of the systems and information engineering department at the University of Virginia and one of the leaders of the VSP project. "That could take a half hour or 45 minutes and delay his mission."
The researchers also used a device placed in the vehicle that monitors the ODB II port and detects any hacking tools plugged into the car's port, as well as any attacks over the CAN bus. Like the Kaprica tool, it stops any attacks and collects attack information for forensic analysis afterward.
---Video credit: Justin Naumann, Red Titan Films. Video edit by Dave Harding
The Endgame
VSP's Davis says the new age of car hacking means law enforcement will be faced with considering the cybersecurity of its fleet. "We understand with vehicles that not being connected [to the Internet] is a good thing. Taking a look at systems and components embedded in there and how they communicate together: is this something I need to consider in my purchase?"
He says VSP already has in place technicians who investigate computer fraud, so forensics analysis out of a potential car hack would be another aspect of their duties.
"Police cars are less equipped with electronics, and police communicate through private networks so they are not as vulnerable as a consumer. But the [cruisers] have many of the same features as a consumer car has," and are potentially hackable, UVA's Horowitz says.
"The next question is what do you do about it? What kind of data can be extracted from a car and at the scene of an accident? These attacks [demonstrated] are based on putting devices on the car. You could have an inspection procedure when you get into the car, and at an incident, [the police] would check the consumer's car" for such devices, he says. If the cars have built-in forensics gathering capabilities, that data could be analyzed to confirm whether a traffic incident was due to a cyberattack, he notes.
"There are crashes every day" and it's impossible to tell if a cyberattack was the cause, says Frank Byrum, chief scientist for Defense contractor Spectrum. "Someday someone will claim responsibility for something. Then what do the automakers do? This is an engineering problem."
Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full BioMore Insights
A NASA Experiment Is Going to Light Up the Sky With Beautifully Colored Clouds Tonight
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 21:05
If you're on the east coast tonight, keep an eye on the sky between 7pm and 9pm: NASA is launching a test of some new tech that will include releasing colorful vapor tracers 130 miles above the Earth. It sounds like it's going to be beautiful.
The vapors will be ejected from a sounding rocket launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA explains that it has actually been injecting various vapor tracers into the atmosphere since the 1950s'--these trails help scientists understand ''the naturally occurring flows of ionized and neutral particles'' in the upper atmosphere by injecting color tracers and tracking the flow across the sky.
Tonight, NASA says it's ejecting four different payloads of a mix of barium and strontium, creating ''a cloud with a mixture of blue-green and red color.'' Here's an example of a barium release provided by NASA; on the upper left you can see the barium's ''ionized component, which has become elongated along the Earth's magnetic field lines.''
And here's another tracer shot from a launch using lithium vapor and trimethyl aluminum over the Marshall Islands:
Helpfully, NASA also has a guide to which tracer chemicals produce what types of color, compared to fireworks:
The idea is to test how well this rocket can eject payloads into orbit, eventually being used to shuttle micro-sats and other experiments into lower orbit. It's also a test to see how well the rocket's payloads can be for using vapor tracers to study the atmosphere itself, including phenomena like the aurora borealis, according to NASA.
But for most of us, it'll just be a beautiful light show: NASA says the vapor trails will be visible as far north as central Long Island, and as far south as Jacksonville, North Carolina. Keep an eye out, and post your pictures here.
Tonight's launch is actually pretty interesting, sky show aside. NASA is testing a sounding rocket'--which are used to launch payloads like satellites and other orbital payloads'--that's been modified using some emerging fabrication tech, new materials, and 3D printing, too. For instance, board the launch will be three different types of carbon nanotube materials being sent up for testing, and there will be 3D-printed structures on board, too.
Then there's a new fabrication process for building rockets: The front section of the rocket was created using something called ''near net'' shaping. Normally, the pieces of the rocket would be machined out of aluminum and welded together, explains NASA, which calls that ''expensive'' and ''risky.'' With near net shaping, the fabrication process, in this case of a rocket cylinder, is pared down to a single step producing a single piece, no welding required.
According to NASA, all of these processes and materials could end up making a 60% reduction in mass on spacecraft and launch rockets. We may not see any of that technology for a few years''but tonight, starting at 7:00 pm ET, look up and see the beautiful evidence of its launch (and post your pictures!).
Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.
Why ad blockers are good for the ad industry-'--commentary
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:58
For centuries, advertisers have deployed the same basic ad strategy of delivering mass appeal messages to as broad an audience as possible, as often as possible. And while the channels and technology available to reach and engage targeted audiences have grown exponentially over the years, advertisers have largely remained on the sidelines of innovation.
As consumer frustrations mount over the current state of digital advertising, leading millions to download ad-blocking technology,the time for change is now. This is one of the most consequential issues that the advertising and publishing industries have ever faced '-- and it's long overdue. There is no doubt an opportunity for the industry to come together.
Zero Creatives | Getty Images
With so much at stake, it is easy to see why some are tempted to develop technological workarounds that ignore the underlying issues that gave rise to ad blockers in the first place. Smart players, however, are radically rethinking how brands will reach, engage and persuade consumers in the future and on how content creators will reconnect the advertising experience to the user in a seamless way.
Rather than trying to fit the advertising experience that has ruled for centuries into a device that fits into your pocket, brands and content creators must shift their strategy to embrace value-driven engagement that understands and addresses individual consumer needs while respecting their content experience is now fundamentally changing '' in real time.
An overwhelming majority '-- 73 percent of consumers '-- say they are more likely to engage with online advertisements when the ads are personally relevant, according to an August 2015 survey from Rubicon Project. They want brand information at their fingertips that makes their lives easier and addresses their immediate needs. They also want it done in a way that respects their user experience in a manner that is additive to the over all content experience.
In short, users are asking for an improved ad experience that is less intrusive and more relevant to their daily lives.
This is the opportunity facing the advertising sector and the global publishing and application developer communities: to bring advertising into the 21st century by empowering the user with greater control of their brand engagement while engineering a seamless and inviting user experience.
An ad blocker that robs the lifeblood of a truly free Internet, while at the same time charges the largest publishers a tax to allow ads to be delivered without user consent or control, is not the solution.
Simply put, the current connected consumer's frustration with digital advertising is not a problem that is fixed with an ad blocker. This is an opportunity to be embraced; users expect some form of value exchange for the incredible content they have at their fingertips. The next move belongs to the advertisers, content creators and advertising technology leaders who must come together to deliver a better ad experience for consumers. The alternative? Keep doing what we've been doing for years and watch the online advertising industry cede its prominent role fueling the growth of the incredible universe of content and free expression it currently supports.
Commentary by Gregory R. Raifman,a founding Board Member of the Advertising Industry's Trustworthy Accountability Group and the president of Rubicon Project, a leading advertising technology company. Follow him on Twitter @gregraifman
Microsoft's unveils first laptop, new phones
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:45
Images of SeptemberFri, Oct 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goalsFri, Jun 06, 2014 -(1:08)
VIVID '' Sydney's spectacle of lightFri, May 30, 2014 -(1:37)
Lots of data, lots of fears
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:41
Big Data
Lots of data, lots of fearsBy Zach NobleOct 06, 2015Big data, big rewards and big headaches.
In a new survey, federal agency leaders were nearly unanimous in saying their big data analytics projects have had positive impacts, but they were almost equally concerned about managing the torrents of data.
The poll of federal business and technology decision-makers was conducted by Beacon Technology Partners and underwritten by Unisys. The results were presented Oct. 6 at an FCW event, "Big Data: The Path to Mission-Centric Analytics," in Washington, D.C.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents with ongoing big data projects said the projects had "improved their ability to predict trends and quantify risk," and 93 percent said the speed and quality of decision-making had risen thanks to such projects.
But among the respondents merely considering big data, nearly three quarters said they worried that big data projects would tax legacy systems, and close to 70 percent wondered whether they would be able to effectively analyze all the data they were collecting (seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak).
Beacon Technology's James Warrick, who presented the survey data at the event, described the challenge of deploying a true big data analytics program as a "three-legged stool. It requires staffing, it requires infrastructure, and it requires very robust tools."
Given agency resource constraints and the difficulty of putting a clear value on big data, Warrick said, many respondents said their agencies were hesitant to take the plunge. Four in 10 said their agency had no big data plans in place. Among those who are pursuing big data analytics, just 16 percent had a program deployed and fully in place. Thirty-eight percent were piloting one or more projects, and the rest either had projects in the planning stages or were simply investigating.
"It is unfortunate that many federal programs are missing the opportunity to leverage advanced data analytics since a number of programs are successfully using these tools to achieve breakthrough results," said Rod Fontecilla, vice president for advanced data analytics at Unisys Federal, in a statement. "Forward-thinking agencies within the federal government have proven the value of advanced data analytics in mission areas ranging from protecting against potential threats related to goods and people crossing our borders to projects for evaluating the potential delinquency risk of federal loan programs," he said.
As they looked to turn big data into positive action, federal leaders said they'd be hiring more data analysts (68 percent) and looking to consultants for help (70 percent) over the coming year. But as Government Accountability Office Chief Scientist Tim Persons noted at the Oct. 6 event, even crafting a data-analytics job can prove challenging for agencies -- much less finding a qualified candidate to fill it.
Persons, in his keynote address, pointed out that for every federal job, "we have to code a position according to an [Office of Personnel Management] code." Persons added, "There is no number code for this [data scientist] position. So any federal agency wanting to do this is going to have to take an existing code and ... start tweaking."
Warrick, echoed Person's point. "This is not just bodies," he said. "It's the type of skill sets being sought. There is an abiding uneasiness whether the traditional means of hiring personnel will really work for acquiring big data expertise."
Explore the findings here.
Troy K. Schneider contributed to this report.
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering cloud, big data and workforce issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
Senate to tackle CISA next week
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:40
Senate to tackle CISA next weekBy Mark RockwellOct 06, 2015Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, the latest bill in an ongoing legislative effort to craft a legal framework for private companies to share information on cyber threats with government and with each other, is bound for the Senate floor the week of Oct. 12, according to its lead sponsor..
Under CISA, said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, IT managers at companies facing a cyber attack could "pick up the phone and call their competitor without a lawyer" to warn of the tactics the attacker is using, without worrying about legal liability. The bill, Burr said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 4th Annual Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, would also allow transmission of the forensic data about the attack to the government without fear of liability, and would allow the government to push information out to companies about ongoing attacks and to share information that might prevent future attacks.
CISA would give network operators and other private firms certain protections from antitrust and consumer privacy liabilities when they report cyber threat information to government, or share it with each other. Participation by companies in reporting cyberattack information under the legislation would be voluntary.
The measure stalled in the Senate this summer under the weight of dozens of amendments concerning privacy issues with the bill itself, and more general arguments over foreign policy and spending. If it passes, it will have to be conferenced with two companion bills in the House of Representatives.
The Senate bill has been heavily contested by privacy groups that say the measure could expose too much personally identifiable data to the government, as well as by legislators concerned about government surveillance.
Mistrust of government's ability to properly handle personal data has also grown since the repeated breaches of government databases and the release of government documents by Edward Snowden, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a keynote at the summit.
DHS, Burr said, is the agency with the privacy framework to handle the resulting civilian data under the reporting system.
Burr and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Intelligence Committee's vice chair, defended the measure, saying they have worked hard to relieve privacy concerns and that they expected a vigorous debate on 21 expected amendments that made the final cut.
The White House is looking for legislative action on cybersecurity, because "cybercriminals aren't waiting," said Michael Daniel, the administration's cybersecurity coordinator. But there is some daylight between the details of the Senate bill and what administration officials want.
One sticking point is whether attack data should be shared in "real time" or "near-real time."
Mayorkas said DHS would likely report the information out in near-real time, allowing his agency to give data a "final scrub" to remove personally identifiable information "that doesn't necessarily serve investigators."
Speaking to reporters after the panel, Feinstein and Burr pushed back, saying real-time dissemination of the data would be most effective and incentivize better private sector participation.
"If you set up a system that deals in near-real time, there will be some segment that won't use it because they believe it won't be used effectively," Burr said. Companies reporting information under the program, he said, would be doing so believing it will be used to help it stop an attack on itself and other companies, he said. Without immediacy, he said, there's less reason to use it.
Feinstein expects the heavy opposition from privacy groups and from some senators to continue, but added that the bill is the product of long discussions with industry, privacy groups, and others, as well as from her long personal experience in crafting and honing information sharing legislation.
"You can't satisfy everyone no matter what you do. I think that's where we are now," she said.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
Message to the Congress -- Supplementary Social Security Agreement with the Czech Republic
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:39
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 06, 2015
Pursuant to section 233(e)(1) of the Social Security Act, as amended by the Social Security Amendments of 1977 (Public Law 95-216, 42 U.S.C. 433(e)(1)), I transmit herewith the Supplementary Agreement Amending the Agreement on Social Security between the United States of America and the Czech Republic (the "Supplementary Agreement"). The Supplementary Agreement, signed at Prague on September 23, 2013, is intended to modify a certain provision of the Agreement on Social Security between the United States of America and the Czech Republic, with Administrative Arrangement, signed at Prague on September 7, 2007, and entered into force January 1, 2009 (the "U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement").
The U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement as amended by the Supplementary Agreement is similar in objective to the social security agreements already in force with most European Union countries, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Norway, and the Republic of Korea. Such bilateral agreements provide for limited coordination between the United States and foreign social security systems to eliminate dual social security coverage and taxation, and to help prevent the lost benefit protection that can occur when workers divide their careers between two countries.
The Supplementary Agreement amends the U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement to account for a new Czech domestic health insurance law, which was enacted subsequent to the signing of the U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement in 2007. By including the health insurance law within the scope of the U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement, this amendment will exempt U.S. citizen workers and multinational companies from contributing to the Czech health insurance system, when such workers otherwise meet all of the ordinary criteria for such an exemption.
The U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement, as amended, will continue to contain all provisions mandated by section 233 of the Social Security Act and other provisions that I deem appropriate to carry out the purposes of section 233, pursuant to section 233(c)(4) of the Social Security Act.
I also transmit for the information of the Congress a report required by section 233(e)(1) of the Social Security Act on the estimated number of individuals who will be affected by the Supplementary Agreement and its estimated cost effect. The Department of State and the Social Security Administration have recommended the Supplementary Agreement and related documents to me.
I commend the Supplementary Agreement to the U.S.-Czech Social Security Agreement and related documents.
novelty food ban in eu
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:03
De Europese Unie dreigt een stokje te steken voor de verkoop van eetbare insecten in Nederlandse winkels.
Het Europees Parlement debatteert volgende week woensdag over de zogeheten Novel Food-wetgeving. Met deze nieuwe regels moeten alle voedingsmiddelen die voor mei 1997 in Europa nog niet in aanzienlijke mate werden geconsumeerd, uitgebreid getest worden voordat ze worden toegelaten op de Europese markt.
Philip den Ouden, directeur van de Federatie Nederlandse Levensmiddelen Industrie (FNLI), begrijpt er niets van dat Brussel de opmars van deze producten een halt lijkt toe te roepen. 'žWij vinden dit een buitengewoon rare toestand. Iedereen heeft de mond vol over duurzaam en alternatieve eiwitten. Insecten zijn al jaren op de markt en zijn veilig en nu zouden ze ineens door de hele Brusselse papierwinkel moeten worden goedgekeurd.''
Willem A op 7-10, 15:06Kijk, dat vind ik nu weer niet zo erg.
hvt op 7-10, 14:43hoezo maakt Europa (Brussel) uit wat ik wil eten!!! Straks moet ik van Brussel ook nog verplichte kost eten op de dagen die zij bepalen. Stop met die onzin en ga lekker buiten spelen.
E. Weegels op 7-10, 14:32Europa...(C)(C)n groot lobbycircus. Het belang van de burger staat niet voorop, maar dat van bedrijven . Als iemand insecten wil eten...eet smakelijk. Laat Eu zich daar niet me bemoeien. E. Weegels
Israel could send the first privately-funded mission to the Moon on a Falcon 9 rocket | The Verge
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:01
SpaceIL '-- an Israeli nonprofit competing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition '-- will use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to launch its lunar lander into space, the group announced today in Jerusalem. The rocket will launch the team's vehicle into lower Earth orbit sometime in the second half of 2017. From there, the rocket will carry the lander farther into space, and then the spacecraft will propel itself the rest of the way to land gently on the Moon.
With today's announcement, SpaceIL is the first of the 16 Lunar X Prize teams to book a ride off the planet. If the mission succeeds, it will be the first Israeli mission '-- as well as the first private spaceflight mission '-- to soft-land a vehicle on the lunar surface. Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL, claimed the group isn't focused on the competition, but they are confident they can win. "I promise you once we land on the Moon, we'll look around and see we are the first," he said.
SpaceIL is the first of the 16 Lunar XPRIZE teams to book a ride off the planet
Only three nations have ever landed a spacecraft intact on the Moon: the United States, Russia, and China. Many countries have slammed lunar orbiters or probes into the Moon to study its environment, but gently landing a spacecraft is trickier. The Moon is big enough to have a gravitational pull, but it doesn't have an atmosphere to slow incoming objects. Spacecraft in lunar orbit must fire retro-rockets, very precisely, in the opposite direction of the Moon. That way they can slowly descend without slamming into the rock. It's a delicate procedure that usually requires a lot of time and money, which is why only government agencies have been able to do it up until now.
Those challenges are what prompted the formation of the $30 Million Google Lunar X Prize competition. The X Prize Foundation is an international nonprofit that sponsors competitions to help benefit humanity; the contests are meant to inspire people to create technology that will benefit society '-- such as tools to measure ocean acidification or ways to convert carbon emissions into useful resources. The Lunar X Prize wants teams to come up with soft-landing lunar robots, using technologies and strategies that can help reduce the cost of spaceflight.
After gently touching down on the Moon, the landers must explore up to 500 meters of the surface, as well as transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth during thier exploration in order to qualify as winners. The teams competing in the contest have until December 31st, 2017 to get their spacecraft on to the Moon. X Prize doesn't specify how these teams should reach the Moon.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket during launch. (SpaceX)
The first team to reach the Moon before the end of 2017 will win $20 million, while the second team to do so will receive $5 million. The rest of the money will be awarded as bonuses for completing certain technical challenges. To get the grand prize purses, the teams must show that 90 percent of their funding came from private sources. That means the winner of the Lunar X Prize will also garner bragging rights: that group will be the first private mission to reach the Moon. With today's announcement, SpaceIL is significantly ahead of most of the competition.
SpaceIL purchased room on the Falcon 9 launch through Spaceflight Industries, a private aerospace company that sets up "ride shares" on rockets. If you have technology you want to get into space, the company will help find room for your spacecraft on an upcoming launch; your technology will just have to share the ride with hardware from other organizations and government entities. This method allows commercial companies to get vehicles into space for a fraction of the cost of a full rocket launch. "We're almost like an airline," says Jason Andrews, co-founder of Spaceflight Industries. "If you had to pay for your own Boeing 737 to travel from Boston to Los Angeles, it'd be very expensive. But if you're able to buy just a seat on that plane, it's much cheaper."
Sparrow will be the last one off in the cosmic carpool
Spaceflight Industries purchased an entire Falcon 9 rocket at the end of September for an undisclosed amount. Buying a ticket to take a ride on the Falcon 9 cost SpaceIL around $10 million, Privman says '-- about a tenth of the cost of a full rocket launch. An individual launch would have taken up a significant portion of SpaceIL's budget, which is currently about $36 million. SpaceIL is relying on philanthropists and donations for funding.
The team's lander, temporarily named "Sparrow," will sit in a designated capsule on the Falcon 9 rocket, among other secondary payloads. The rocket will deploy all other spacecraft aboard first, once it reaches lower Earth orbit '-- and Sparrow will be the last one off in the cosmic carpool. Once Sparrow is alone, the Falcon 9 will reignite the engine in its upper stage, carrying the lander a significant way toward the Moon. The lander will then detach from the rocket and propel itself the rest of the way to the lunar surface. When it lands, the Sparrow will "hop" across the Moon's exterior before taking off and then landing 500 meters away using fuel left over in its tanks.
An artist rendering of SpaceIL's Sparrow after separating from the Falcon 9's upper stage. (SpaceIL)
It won't be the first time SpaceX has delivered a payload beyond lower Earth orbit. (The Falcon 9 transported NASA's DSCOVR space weather satellite to Lagrangian Point 1 '-- an area of space located 1 million miles away from Earth; that's more than four times the distance from our planet to the Moon.) However, SpaceX still hasn't fully recovered from the explosion of its Falcon 9 this past June. The company has yet to announce when its next launch will be, and many of the Falcon 9's previously scheduled launches have been postponed. It's possible these conflicts could push back the SpaceIL mission.
SpaceIL will spend that time before its 2017 launch developing the Sparrow lander, which hasn't been built yet. The team is currently doing tests on some of the lander's electronics, and engineers will start the process of integrating these components into the lander very soon, says Privman. Now that SpaceIL knows how much room it'll have on the rocket, it can adjust the Sparrow's design to fit snugly.
The other competitors aren't far behind
Meanwhile, time is running out for the other 15 Lunar X Prize teams. Now that one of the competitors has secured a rocket, the others have a little over a year to do the same. "At least one team needed to submit their notification of a launch contract plan, and it needed to be reviewed, verified, and accepted by us," says Chanda Gonzales, senior director of the Google Lunar X Prize. "The remaining teams have until the end of 2016 to also do all three steps '-- or they are done."
The other competitors aren't far behind, though. Moon Express '-- the team from Mountain View, California '-- recently bought three launches from New Zealand-based spaceflight company Rocket Lab. The group plans to use Rocket Lab's experimental Electron rocket, which has never flown before, to get three versions of its MX-1 lunar lander into space. The launches still need to be approved by the X Prize Foundation before they can be considered part of the competition. That's what puts SpaceIL in the lead '-- though it's not clear how long it'll stay there.
Global Warming at 4 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs Per Second
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:59
Our climate is absorbing a lot of heat. When scientists add up all of the heat warming the oceans, land, and atmosphere and melting the ice, they find our climate is accumulating 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs worth of heat every second.
This warming is due to more heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels means we are emitting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. This is the main contributor to global warming.
To communicate the sheer amount of heat our planet is accumulating, we have created this widget, embeddable on blogs and also available as a Facebook app, an iPad app, and an iPhone app. To help get the word out on just how much global warming our planet is experiencing, add the widget to your own blog or use the widget on Facebook, like it and share it.
To get the iPhone or iPad app, visit this site on your device and use the big ''Get...'' button to get instructions. The app is not available through the Apple App Store.
Accumulating HeatThe earth has warmed rapidly over the past century due mainly to human activity, and especially over the past few decades. The increased greenhouse effect has warmed the land and air and melted ice, but most of it (about 90%) has gone into heating the oceans. Several Skeptical Science contributors worked together to publish a scientific paper1 which combined the land, air, ice, and ocean warming data. It found that for recent decades the earth has been heating at a rate of 250 trillion Joules per second.
''Joules per second'' is a difficult unit of measure to appreciate, and is especially foreign to people who are unfamiliar with science. This widget attempts to put that heating into terms that are easier to visualize. 250 trillion Joules per second is equivalent to:
Learn More About...Climate HeatCarbon DioxideImpacts
The Climate and HeatThe earth's climate system absorbs heat in many different ways. Increases in the temperatures that people experience day to day are only one of several reservoirs for accumulating heat. While changes in the atmosphere are the easiest to recognize, they are also the most variable and subject to ''noise''. Changes in the ocean, where most of the heat is going, have been more steady, while the melting of vast stores of ice is accelerating. The earth continues to warm, day after day, at a concerning rate.
Learn More About Heat in the...OceanAtmosphereLandMelting IceTrends
Climate TrendsWhen the energy from all of the earth's ''heat'' reservoirs is combined, the clear, decades long trend is unequivocal and staggering. With the exception of short ''hiatus'' periods, the earth has been gaining heat, virtually continuously, at an average rate of 250 trillion Joules per second, and this trend shows no serious sign of ending.
Greenhouse GasesWithout greenhouse gases, the temperature at the surface of the earth would be a mere -15°C (5°F). Life on earth is made possible by greenhouse gases.
The earth's atmosphere is mostly transparent to incoming sunlight, which passes through and warms the surface of the earth. Warm objects in turn emit another wavelength of light, one invisible to the human eye, termed ''infrared radiation''. Like visible light, infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere and into space.
But small traces of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are not transparent to infrared radiation. They absorb and re-emit that energy, trapping some of that heat within the atmosphere.
Climate ChangesChanges in the climate are visible all around us. Some are subtle and seemingly inconsequential, but these changes are accelerating and undeniable.
Spring comes earlier. Tree lines and species are migrating poleward and upward. Glaciers and Arctic ice are retreating at an alarming rate4. Sea levels are rising5. Every day, more and more studies point towards a changing and warming world in new and sometimes unexpected ways.
Climate Change FingerprintsThe indicators that recent climate change is the result of burning fossil fuels, rather than from some unknown natural variation, are clear and consistent with what we do know.
There are subtle differences to how the world will warm due to greenhouse gases compared with other potential sources (such as an increase in the warmth of the sun). Most importantly, scientists know that greenhouse gases would cause the upper atmosphere to cool rather than warm.
We also know that the source of the additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to burning fossil fuels. The carbon in fossil fuels differs from atmospheric carbon because it has less of the isotope known as 13C (Carbon-13), a heavier-than-normal version of carbon. Plants generally prefer the lighter and more common 12C (Carbon-12) for photosynthesis, so fossil fuels, which are produced from decayed plant matter, are deficient in 13C. As a result, when we burn fossil fuels we cause the percentage of 13C in the atmosphere to drop, and this change has been detected.
450 ppmScientists have established that climate change greater than 2°C (4°F) will likely be extremely dangerous. We are likely to have committed our planet to that degree of warming when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reach 450 ppm (parts per million). The natural, pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide (CO2) was around 285 ppm. The level of CO2 is currently near 400 ppm.
That level of carbon dioxide, 400 ppm, has not been seen in the atmosphere for millions of years.
At the current rate, adding 2 ppm per year, we will reach 450 ppm around the year 2038, a mere 25 years from now.
Impacts of Climate ChangeNot all effects of climate change can be anticipated, and not all effects that are anticipated may come to pass, but the number of expected, negative impacts on human society present a clear and worrying danger.28 Some of these impacts are already being felt, to varying degrees, although many will not seriously present themselves until temperatures increase by 2°C or more (although we have already committed to more than 1.4°C of warming, depending on actual climate sensitivity).
Ecosystem changes, species range shifts and extinctionsThreats to food suppliesThreats to water suppliesIncreased and more frequent damage from storms, fires and floodsChanges and increases in disease vectorsIncreased morbidity and mortality from heat waves, floods and droughtsIt is important to realize that no matter how strong these impacts are felt now, they will grow worse over time, and when they do, we will have no ability to reverse any of them.
Ocean HeatMore than 90% of all heat being absorbed by the earth, each and every day, is going into the oceans.
The ocean, when viewed from a climate perspective, is often considered in three layers:
The surface to 700 meters down.700 meters to 2000 meters down.2000 meters down to the bottom (average is about 3800 meters).For some time, scientists believed that ocean warming would be restricted to the upper 700 meters and that global warming would take a very long time to penetrate deeper than that. Recent studies2 and modern measurement techniques have shown, however, that the ocean below 700 meters is heating as well, and the amount of energy that it takes to do so is staggerring.
Learn More About...The Ocean: How We KnowScientists2 use ocean heat content measurements from ARGO floats, as well as data from expendable bathythermographs (XBT) and mechanical bathythermographs (MBT).
Argo is an international project to collect information on the temperature and salinity of the upper part of the world's oceans. Argo uses robotic floats that spend most of their life drifting below the ocean surface, reaching depths of 2000m and spending periods of approximately 10 days below the surface. Floats take temperature and salinity measurements as they rise to the surface. After surfacing they transmit their data to satellites and then submerge to repeat the data collection cycle. Currently, there are roughly 3000 floats producing 100,000 temperature/salinity profiles per year.
A bathythermograph is an instrument which has a temperature sensor and is thrown overboard from ships to record pressure and temperature changes as it drops through the water. These were the main instruments used to measure OHC before the ARGO float network was deployed starting about a decade ago to provide more accurate and consistent data.
The Ocean: What We KnowThe ocean accounts for more than 90% of the heat absorbed by the earth in the past 30 years.The total increase in heat content of the oceans over the period from 1955-2010 was 24 x 1022 (240,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) Joules.The energy absorbed by the oceans will not quickly dissipate.As the ocean warms it expands, leading to marked sea level rise.Increased ocean temperatures help to warm the atmosphere.Increased ocean temperatures help to generate and intensify storms.Warmer waters, combined with ocean acidification, are pushing some forms of marine life beyond their limits.The AtmosphereChanges in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere are the easiest to measure and the most obvious in an individual's personal experience, but the atmosphere is also the most variable. One very warm year can be followed by several cold ones, while one region may experience an unusual cold snap while many other parts of the globe endure record warmth. Many factors can influence global atmospheric temperatures over short time frames of a few years, which in turn disguises the insistent, uninterrupted warming which is occurring overall.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere has warmed by 0.8°C (1.4°F) in the past century. This warming is more exaggerated at the poles, leading to even greater swings in temperatures further from the equator. Yet it still accounts for only 2% of total heat absorbed by the earth's climate.
VariabilityScientists and statisticians have worked together to try to quantify and eliminate the most obvious forms of variability in global atmospheric temperatures by using standard statistical methods. In one study6, the authors found that after removing the influence of the most significant three factors (ENSO events, solar variations, and aerosols) the seemingly chaotic, drunken meanderings of the earth's temperature straightened into a clear, steady increase in global temperatures.
In particular, in the past decade, a quiet sun, an increase in La Ni±a (cold) events, and an increase in aerosols have worked to temporarily slow global warming. This sort of hiatus period is often seen in climate models, when negative factors happen to combine to temporarily overwhelm the global warming signal. It is clear, however, from the evidence that any respite is temporary.
The atmosphere, ocean, land and ice continue to absorb heat, and global warming is going to continue well into our future.
ENSO EventsThe Pacific is not only the world's largest ocean, but it also boasts by far the largest expanse of water along the equator, where the sun's rays are strongest. Periodic events, termed El Ni±o and La Ni±a, lead to three common states in the equatorial regions of the Pacific. These states in turn affect air temperatures and precipitaiton around the globe, and so are keys to understanding and predicting short-term climate variations.
El Ni±o events denote the spread of warmer than usual waters across much of the equatorial Pacific. This raises temperatures globally.La Ni±a events denote the piling up of warmer waters in the western Pacific and the spread of cooler than usual waters across the eastern Pacific, off the coast of South America. This reduces temperatures globally.ENSO neutral conditions, when neither an El Ni±o nor a La Ni±a is present, is the third state.One way to view temperature changes without the confusing influences of ENSO events is to compare apples to apples. Compare all El Ni±o events to each other, La Ni±a to each other, and neutral conditions. When this is done, again, the constant, upward trend in global temperatures becomes clear.
Solar VariabilityThe sun supplies virtually all of the energy that fuels the earth's climate, but changes in solar activity are necessary to account for changes in the earth's climate. While the sun did warm slightly in the early part of the Twentieth century, it has since begun to quiet again. These minor changes in solar output, however, are not nearly strong enough to account for warming this century, although they do contribute somewhat to dampening recent anthropogenic warming. A ''hot'' sun, for example, emits roughly 1367 Watts/meter2, while a ''cool'' sun emits 1365.5 Watts/meter2, a difference between ''hot'' and ''cold'' of only about one tenth of one percent.
One study7 used a statistical test on the temperature data, and found that while solar activity can account for about 11% of the global warming from 1889 to 2006, it can only account for 1.6% of the warming from 1955 to 2005, and had a slight cooling effect (-0.004°C per decade) from 1979 to 2005. Multiple other studies 689 confirm this conclusion.
AerosolsVolcanoes emit sulfate aerosols which reflect incoming sunlight, cooling the planet. A large volcanic eruption such as the Pinatubo eruption in 1991 can have a global cooling effect of 0.1°''0.3°C (0.18°''0.54°F) for several years 10.
However, mega-eruptions or a series of eruptions can have a cooling effect that take decades to wear off, giving a perceived warming effect as temperatures return to normal. Scientists have studied past volcanoes11, particularly over the past few centuries, and found that early 20th century warming resulted, in part, from a recovery from earlier periods of heavy vulcanism. In short, a lack of volcanic activity had some part in temperature rise over the first half of the 20th century. However, it has played little part in the modern global warming trend that began in the 1970s.
More recently, in the past decade, scientists12 have found that the increase in greenhouse gases was exceeded by an even greater increase in sunlight-reflecting sulfate aerosols, which originate from the rapid industrialization of China. Chinese coal-burning in particular doubled in the 4 years from 2003-2007, and makes up some 77% of the 26% global aerosol increase over that time. Unfortunately, aerosols fall out of the atmosphere fairly quickly, while carbon dioxide remains there for centuries or longer.
The Atmosphere: What We KnowOnly 2.3% of warming goes into the atmosphere.Within one year, from summer to winter, global mean tropospheric temperatures vary by as much as 1.5°C (2.7°F).Year to year, from one season to the next, global mean tropospheric temperatures can vary by as much as 1°C (1.8°F).Year to year, from one season to the next, global mean surface air temperatures can vary by as much as 0.2°C (0.36°F).A minimum of 17 years is needed to accurately detect and confirm a trend '-- a steady change '-- in the rise of atmospheric temperatures.A variety of natural (temporary) factors combined in the past decade to produce a strong cooling influence on atmospheric temperatures.The known anthropogenic warming component has offset and overpowered natural cooling factors, so that a slight warming trend is still detectable.Natural cooling factors (a preponderance of La Ni±a events, weak solar output, increased anthropogenic aerosols) are temporary, while the effects of anthropogenic CO2 are effectively permanent.The Atmosphere: How We KnowScientists have successfully measured air temperatures around the globe, both at the surface and in the troposphere and stratosphere, in the present as well as in the distant past.
Surface air temperatures have been accurately measured and homogenized '-- meaning ''made comparable'' '-- using scientific instruments and rigorous collection and analysis techniques.
Tropospheric and stratospheric temperatures have been accurately measured using an array of long-lived satellites which measure the radiation, primarily microwaves, emitted by the atmosphere.
Past temperatures have been measured using a variety of different proxies, which have been compared to check their validity and confirm their accuracy. Proxy methods include the measurement of the frequency of stable atmoic isotopes, such as 17O and 18O (''heavy hydrogen''), in ice cores and ocean sediments, the evaluation of ancient pollen, flora and fauna in lake and ocean sediments,and other methods.
The LandUntil 2001, scientists had mostly concentrated on detecting heat uptake by the atmosphere and oceans and by melting ice. That year, however, a group of scientists published a study3 which attempted to measure the heat uptake by the lithosphere '-- the outermost rocky shell of the earth. That study found that heat absorbed by land actually roughtly matches the amount of heat absorbed by melting ice (such as the Greenland Ice Sheet, polar ice caps, and glaciers). The heat absorbed (only) by land also substantially matches that absorbed to date by the atmosphere.
Thus, the heat uptake by the continents is a tangible and necessary component in computing the total increase in heat in the entire earth system due to anthropogenic warming. This uptake accounts for about 2% of the heat absorbed by the earth's climate system.
Melting IceThe earth houses vast amounts of water in the form of (once) permanent ice. This includes ice at the Arctic and Antarctic poles, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and over 130,000 glaciers. Due to global warming, much of this ice is melting at an alarming rate26. That permanent ice melt, in turn, absorbs a lot of heat and produces a vast amount of liquid water. Still, this ice melt only accounts for 2% of the total heat absorbed by the earth's climate.
Melting Ice: GlaciersGlaciers are dynamic, living rivers of ice. They are fed at their source by precipitation which falls as or freezes into ice. Packed and forced to flow by gravity, these rivers slowly and inexorably carve valleys down mountain sides, until the ice reaches an altitude below which temperatures are above freezing, and they melt.
While these glaciers continue to be fed from above '-- subject to potential changes in precipitation patterns due to climage change '-- as global temperatures rise, the altitudes at which their ice melts also rise, shortening and in some cases completely eliminating the glacier.
Nearly 1% of all heat absorbed by the earth's changing climate currently goes into shrinking the size of glaciers. More importantly, measurements show that this ice loss is accelerating131415 .
Melting Ice: GreenlandThe Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is a unique feature on earth. Greenland is the world's largest island, at 2,166,086 square kilometers (836,109 sq mi). It is home to one of only two permanent ice sheets on earth, most of which is between 2 and 3 kilometers (1 and 2 miles) thick. If the entire ice sheet were to melt it would raise sea levels by 7.2 meters.
The coastal regions have been observed to be losing ice mass while the interior is in approximate mass balance. The overall result is that the Greenland ice sheet is losing ice mass1617. Further evidence suggests that although ice losses have up to this point primarily occurred in the South and Southwest portions of Greenland, these losses are now spreading to the Northwest sector of the ice sheet18. The current rate of loss is over 250 gigatons (billion tons) per year, and that rate has been continuosly accelerating.
Melting Ice: ArcticArctic ice represents one pole (which is very different from the other). The Arctic is an ocean, surrounded by land, at one end of the globe (the North Pole). In that position, for a good portion of the year it receives no sunlight at all, while for an equal portion it receives extended, albeit very indirect, daylight '-- at times for 24 hours a day.
With this dynamic, the water in the Arctic is able to freeze over completely during the winter. In the summer months, some Arctic ice has always melted, but prior to recent decades, the bulk of the ice remained completely frozen. Since 1979, scientists have been using satellites to track the ice extent, which is erratically but systematically shrinking. Satellite radar altimetry and satellite laser altimetry find that Arctic sea ice has also been thinning1920. The Arctic is expected to have a completely ice free summer sometime this century21. This means that each winter the ice is not re-freezing to the winter extent and volume of the previous year.
Year after year, despite the ongoing fluctuations, the Arctic is losing ice mass.
Melting Ice: AntarcticAntarctic ice represents one pole (which is very different from the other). Antarctica is a continent, at one end of the globe (the South Pole). In that position, for a good portion of the year it receives no sunlight at all, while for an equal portion it receives extended, albeit very indirect, daylight '-- at times for 24 hours a day. Due to the altitude of its mountains it contains masses of ice which have no opportunity to melt, regardless of climate change.
At lower altitudes, the ice is subject to melting. Beyond this, much of the ice in Antarctica rests in the ocean, submerged by its own weight. But as the ocean waters warm, that ice is melting from beneath22. The result of this warming is that Antarctica is losing ice mass23.
Winter Antarctic sea ice extent is increasing, although it melts completely back to the Antarctic coast each summer, so it is of no consequence in the planetary heat budget. Ozone levels over Antarctica have dropped causing stratospheric cooling and increasing winds, which lead to more areas of open water that can be frozen24. In addition, the Southern Ocean is freshening because of increased rain and snowfall as well as an increase in meltwater coming from the edges of Antarctica's land ice25. Fresh water freezes more readily than salt water.
Melting Ice: What We KnowArctic sea ice is thinning and losing mass.Summer Arctic sea ice is gradually retreating, and may be completely gone within this century.The Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing mass.The Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass.The vast majority of the world's glaciers are losing mass.Melted ice will add dramatically to sea level rise.Less ice means less reflected sunlight, which will add significantly to global warming.Melting ice currently accounts for about 2% of the earth's climate system heat uptake.Melting Ice: How We KnowScientists employ a variety of instruments and craft to measure ice mass. In the early 20th century, such measurements were restricted to visiting and directly observing the outer edges of the Arctic ice pack. Scientists still visit the reaches of the earth, using ever more sophisticated instruments, including floating buoys with arrays of sensors and cameras, to catalog the state of the Cryopshere '-- the world of snow and ice on earth.
Today, changes in the elevation of large ice sheets are measured with extreme accuracy using both laser and radar altimetry. Sensors based on aircraft or satellites measure the distance from the sensor to the ice surface. By repeating the measurements over time, changes are determined. The twin GRACE satellites, launched by NASA in 2002, use lasers to measure minute changes in the distance between the two craft. These variations in distance in turn reflect variations in mass in the earth below, and so act as a measurement (again, over time) of changes in mass loss of the ice sheets. Other satellites use photography, both visible and infra-red, to catalog the ice extents in the Arctic and the size of glaciers.
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Sharp, J. Graham Cogley, Carsten Braun, and Claude Labine, Sharply increased mass loss from glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Nature 473, 357''360 (19 May 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10089.Hock, R., M. de Woul, V. Radić, and M. Dyurgerov (2009), Mountain glaciers and ice caps around Antarctica make a large sea-level rise contribution, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07501, doi:10.1029/2008GL037020.Church, J. A., N. J. White, L. F. Konikow, C. M. Domingues, J. G. Cogley, E. Rignot, J. M. Gregory, M. R. van den Broeke, A. J. Monaghan, and I. Velicogna (2011), Revisiting the Earth's sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L18601, doi:10.1029/2011GL048794.Wouters, B., D. Chambers, and E. J. O. Schrama (2008), GRACE observes small-scale mass loss in Greenland, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20501, doi:10.1029/2008GL034816.Velicogna, I. (2009), Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE, Geophys. 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Gonzlez, Boo-Keun Khim, R. M. McKay, S. Passchier, S. M. Bohaty, C. R. Riesselman, L. Tauxe, S. Sugisaki, A. L. Galindo, M. O. Patterson, F. Sangiorgi, E. L. Pierce, H. Brinkhuis, A. Klaus, A. Fehr, J. A. P. Bendle, P. K. Bijl, Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic ice sheet during Pliocene warmth, Nature Geoscience 6, 765''769 (2013), doi:10.1038/ngeo1889M.A. King, R.J. Bingham, P. Moore, P.L. Whitehouse, M.J. Bentley, and G.A. Milne, Lower satellite-gravimetry estimates of Antarctic sea-level contribution, Nature, 2012. doi: 10.1038/nature11621Turner, J., J. C. Comiso, G. J. Marshall, T. A. Lachlan-Cope, T. Bracegirdle, T. Maksym, M. P. Meredith, Z. Wang, and A. Orr (2009), Non-annular atmospheric circulation change induced by stratospheric ozone depletion and its role in the recent increase of Antarctic sea ice extent, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L08502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037524.R. Bintanja, G. J. van Oldenborgh, S. S. Drijfhout, B. Wouters, and C. A. Katsman, Important role for ocean warming and increased ice-shelf melt in Antarctic sea-ice expansion, Nature Geoscience 6, 376''379 (2013), doi:10.1038/ngeo1767A. Shepherd, E. R. Ivins, G. A, V. R. Barletta, M. J. Bentley, S. Bettadpur, K. H. Briggs, D. H. Bromwich, R. Forsberg, N. Galin, M. Horwath, S. Jacobs, I. Joughin, M. A. King, J. T. M. Lenaerts, J. Li, S. R. M. Ligtenberg, A. Luckman, S. B. Luthcke, M. McMillan, R. Meister, G. Milne, J. Mouginot, A. Muir, J. P. Nicolas, J. Paden, A. J. Payne, H. Pritchard, E. Rignot, H. Rott, L. Sandberg S¸rensen, T. A. Scambos, B. Scheuchl, E. J. O. Schrama, B. Smith, A. V. Sundal, J. H. van Angelen, W. J. van de Berg, M. R. van den Broeke, D. G. Vaughan, I. Velicogna, J. Wahr, P. L. Whitehouse, D. J. Wingham, D. Yi, D. Young, H. Jay Zwally, A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance, Science 30 November 2012:Vol. 338 no. 6111 pp. 1183-1189, doi:10.1126/science.1228102R. Bintanja, G. J. van Oldenborgh, S. S. Drijfhout, B. Wouters, and C. A. Katsman, Important role for ocean warming and increased ice-shelf melt in Antarctic sea-ice expansion, Nature Geoscience 6, 376''379 (2013), doi:10.1038/ngeo1767Skeptical Science, ''Positives and Negatives of Global Warming''Skeptical ScienceSkeptical Science was founded in 2007 by John Cook as a combination database and website intended to help people to see through the myths, fabrications, and confusion behind the misrepresentation of climate science. It delves into what the actual scientists really say, supported by references to the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Today, Skeptical Science has grown into a reference source for the layman, a living rebuttal to the multitude of myths about climate change, and a topical blog that keeps people up to date on current state of the quickly evolving field of climate science. Rebuttals to myths are written at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. Blog posts cover scientific papers, current events, and the ongoing state of the climate.
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The Skeptical Science TeamGet the iPhone Heat Widget AppWant to put the Heat Widget on your iPhone, to show your friends, family and co-workers? Just follow these simple steps.
1. At the end of these instructions, you'll click the link below to open the iPhone version of the widget.
2. After the app opens in your browser, click the ''Share'' icon at the bottom.
3. On the subsequent screen, click the ''Add to Home Screen'' to add this app to your iPhone.
4. You'll see the app placed on your Home Screen. When you go back into Safari, just close the app page.
Note: The iPhone App is not available through the App Store (it's what's know as a ''Web App''). You can only get it by visiting the link and adding it using the steps above.
Get the iPad Heat Widget AppWant to put the Heat Widget on your iPad, to show your friends, family and co-workers? Just follow these simple steps.
1. At the end of these instructions, you'll click the link below to open the iPad version of the widget.
2. After the app opens in your browser, click the ''Share'' icon at the bottom.
3. On the subsequent screen, click the ''Add to Home Screen'' to add this app to your iPad.
4. You'll see the app placed on your Home Screen. When you go back into Safari, just close the app page.
Note: The iPad App is not available through the App Store (it's what's know as a ''Web App''). You can only get it by visiting the link and adding it using the steps above.
Oregon shooter's mom Laurel Harper made online posts of son's guns and Asperger's - CBS News
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:44
PORTLAND, Oregon -- The mother of a gunman who killed nine people and himself at an Oregon community college allowed her troubled son to have guns and acknowledged in online posts that he struggled with autism, but she didn't seem to know he was potentially violent.
The online writings by Laurel Harper date from a year ago to nine years ago and offer fresh insight into the gunman, 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer, and his relationship with his mother.
Harper and son shared an apartment outside Roseburg, and had moved from California several years ago.
CBS This MorningStudent remembers mom who died in Oregon college shootingOregon's Umpqua Community College reopened Monday, not for classes, but for grief counseling. Authorities are still investigating Thursday's mass...
Investigators have recovered 14 firearms - six found at Umpqua Community College, where the killings occurred, and eight at the apartment. Neighbors of the mother and son in California, where they lived before moving to Oregon in 2013, have said Harper-Mercer and his mother would go target shooting together.
Investigators say Harper-Mercer's mother has told them the son was struggling with some mental health issues.
In her online postings, Laurel Harper talked about her love of guns and her son's emotional troubles but there are no hints of worry that he could become violent.
Victims of Oregon shootingVictims' ages range from 18 to 67
"I keep two full mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be 'dropping' by my house uninvited without acknowledgement," reads a 3-year-old posting.
She was referring to a Glock handgun and to military-style rifles. A Glock and a military-style rifle were among the weapons seized after the Roseburg shooting rampage.
Laurel Harper wrote in another posting: "I love the long guns & I have an AK-47 en route." She complained about gun-control efforts in "lame states."
She posted several times that her son had Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.
One posting reads: "He's no babbling idiot nor is his life worthless. He's very intelligent and is working on a career in filmmaking."
She wrote that she read aloud to her unborn son from Donald Trump's "The Art of The Deal."
Investigators have not yet said whether they suspect a motive in last Thursday's shooting rampage, where Harper-Mercer killed eight students and a teacher before killing himself.
CBS Evening NewsOregon shooter's arsenal revealedInvestigators said more than a dozen weapons were found in Chris Harper Mercer's possession including a Smith and Wesson, Taurus .40 caliber pist...
Harper-Mercer's social media profiles suggested he was fascinated by the Irish Republican Army and frustrated by traditional organized religion.
Posts on an online blog that appears to belong to Mercer reference multiple shootings, including one in Virginia in August that left a television news reporter and cameraman dead. The last upload on the blog was made when a documentary about the Newtown shooting was posted.
In one post on the blog about Vester Flanagan, the man who killed the reporter and cameraman in Virginia, Mercer apparently wrote, "I have noticed that so many people like [Flanagan] are alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."
While living in California, Harper-Mercer graduated from a learning center for students with learning disabilities and emotional problems. His parents divorced when he was a teenager and he lived with his mother.
He Harper-Mercer brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines when he went to the campus the morning of the shooting.
Harper-Mercer's father, Ian Mercer, still lives in California. Over the weekend he said he had no idea his son had any guns.
NBC's must-see Clinton TV - POLITICO
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:27
But hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski weren't comfortable with blindly agreeing to a simulcast, the source said, since the two hosts couldn't guarantee the town hall wouldn't be made up entirely of ''softball questions.'' According to the source, the ''Morning Joe'' crew felt justified by their decision after seeing the town hall.
An MSNBC spokesperson pushed back on the characterization that ''Morning Joe'' was pressured to show the town hall, saying instead that an internal discussion about the event led to the decision that highlighting the news-making moments of the town hall was more valuable to viewers than airing it in its entirety.
(NBC has announced that Donald Trump has accepted an invitation to appear in his own ''Today Show'' town hall, though a date hasn't been set.)
Sources in the Clinton and NBC camps acknowledged that four appearances in such a short period was an unusual phenomenon. But they noted the arrangements were made with separate bookers at the various shows, and explained that a variety of factors led to the burst of air time.
Clinton was in Miami to kick off her Latinas initiative with singer Marc Anthony, so a Telemundo appearance made sense. And her headquarters is based in New York, enabling the brief performance on SNL '' which is always in need of a big name guest for its season premiere. (She appeared alongside actress Kate McKinnon, who plays Clinton on the show and is an outspoken Clinton supporter). The former secretary of state was also a great get for Sharpton's new Sunday morning time slot '' she was able to pre-tape on Thursday.
As for the crowning appearance, a ''Today'' show town hall from New Hampshire, that event had been in the works for weeks. ''It was [all] a coincidence,'' one Clinton campaign staffer said.
NBC News declined to comment. Sources at Telemundo said they had arranged their interview separately and directly with the campaign. An SNL spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Sources at competing networks noted that as the Democratic front-runner, and one who avoided interviews for months, any network would jump at the chance to have Clinton on. Since each separate outlet provided her with a different audience '--from Hispanics at Telemundo to the millennials who watch SNL and the moms who watch ''Today'' '-- if anything, the competitors said, it looked like a coordinated effort engineered by the Clinton campaign.
''[Networks] always have to be concerned, every network does, with over saturation on any one topic and across all their platforms. On the other hand, sometimes saturation drives the ratings up. Donald Trump has certainly been doing that for months,'' Feldstein said. ''[Clinton] will choose places that are friendly places that have reach, places that have the most exposure and that's the name of the game when you're campaigning '... if CBS could offer more venues, or ABC, they'd go with that."
The Clinton family has a history with NBC, for better and for worse. During the 2008 election cycle, the Clinton campaign nearly boycotted an MSNBC-hosted debate after an MSNBC correspondent made disparaging comments about the campaign ''pimping out" Chelsea Clinton. But three years later, Chelsea Clinton was hired as a highly paid correspondent for the network, a position she held until 2014. According to a Vanity Fair report in August, many within the network felt like she "had been hired to maintain access to and curry favor with the Clintons.''
Clinton's ''Saturday Night Live'' performance, where she was ''Val'', the easy-going bartender chatting with 'Hillary Clinton,' played by McKinnon, proved to be a big hit '-- both for Clinton and NBC. Early ratings from Nielsen revealed that the premiere rose 13 percent from the season premiere last year, the show's highest household rating since January.
The candidate, often criticized for being stiff and scripted, showed she was able to laugh at herself. During the ''Weekend Update'' portion about the Democratic debate, she was described as ''the woman who has already won'' while her rival, Bernie Sanders, was referred to as the ''lorax'' and the other three Democratic candidates were "three mannequins from Jos. A. Bank.''
The segment ended with an ''I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message'' statement, before an announcer voice said ''Joke!"
The next morning featured Clinton's pre-taped interview with Al Sharpton, the first Sunday iteration of his show, ''Politics Nation.'' It was a relatively gentle interview where she answered questions about what differentiated herself from her Democratic opponents, what her presidency would look like and race relations. The Telemundo interview was equally tame, focusing on immigration, income inequality and which Donald Trump remark she found most shocking.
On the ''Today Show'' Monday, Clinton was greeted in front of the town hall by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, with a backdrop of supporters with Clinton signs. Inside the venue, the show cut to several shots of her meeting and greeting supporters. But after the warm welcome, Guthrie kicked off the interview with some hard hitting questions about why Clinton comes off as dishonest and stiff, and often followed up and pushed Clinton on other issues brought up by the town hall participants.
''You've been in politics for 20 years, so it's not like people don't know you. To just get real about it, are you having a problem connecting?'' she asked, as part of an interview that took place before the town hall began.
While NBCUniversal's Clinton marathon may have ended, the two sides aren't finished with each other just yet.
In an online advertisement released Monday by the Clinton campaign, a snippet from a package Andrea Mitchell created and narrated is used to describe the Congressional Benghazi Committee as part of a plot to bring Clinton down. POLITICO has learned NBC News has sent the Clinton campaign a letter objecting to the use of the clip. On Tuesday, Mitchell said on her show that "NBC News in no way authorized them to use any of our material and we had no idea this was coming.''
Hadas Gold is a reporter at Politico.
Eerste Kamer stemt versneld in met verbod op kindbruiden - nrc.nl
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:11
De 35 nieuwe leden van de Eerste Kamer van dit jaar. Foto Martijn Beekman/ANP
BinnenlandDe Eerste Kamer heeft dinsdag ingestemd met een wetsvoorstel waardoor buitenlandse huwelijken met minderjarige meisjes niet meer door Nederland worden erkend. De Senaat besloot het wetsvoorstel met voorrang aan te nemen vanwege de grote toestroom van vluchtelingen uit Syri.
De oorspronkelijke stemming stond gepland voor 24 november. De Eerste Kamer besloot echter het wetsvoorstel als een hamerstuk te behandelen. Over hamerstukken wordt niet vooraf gedebatteerd en het betreffende wetsvoorstel wordt zonder stemming aanvaard. Zowel het kabinet als de Tweede Kamer had gevraagd om een snelle behandeling van de nieuwe wet. In de oude situatie zou die pas begin 2016 ingaan. Nu kan de wetswijziging sneller van kracht worden.
Momenteel erkent Nederland huwelijken met meisjes vanaf 15 jaar, mits ze voor de burgerlijke stand zijn voltrokken. Dat wordt in de nieuwe situatie opgetrokken naar 18 jaar. Onder bepaalde voorwaarden konden minderjarige meisjes nog trouwen in Nederland, maar wordt ook verboden. Verder wordt het moeilijker om zogenaamde neef/nichthuwelijken te voltrekken.
RTV Noordmeldde vorige week op basis van een intern document van de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) dat er 22 Syrische minderjarige meisjes onderweg zouden zijn naar hun meerderjarige echtgenoot in het asielzoekerscentrum in Ter Apel. Daar zouden gemiddeld drie kindbruiden per week asiel aanvragen. De IND heeft nog niet willen ingaan op de geruchten, maar zegt bezig te zijn de juiste cijfers te achterhalen.
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Lees meer over:Eerste KamerhamerstukkindbruidenSenaat
Koningslied kostte totaal 574.000 euro - Nederland - TROUW
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:10
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'Kan mijn dochter nog alleen op stap?' - Asielbeleid - TROUW
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:09
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Opnieuw grote vechtpartij in Duits opvangcentrum - BUITENLAND - PAROOL
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:08
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Volkskrant met NOS en RTL naar rechter om MH17 | Binnenland | de Volkskrant
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:07
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Ook Amsterdam weert oude dieselbusjes uit de binnenstad | Economie | de Volkskrant
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Obama's U.N. plan: Globalize cops against 'violent extremists'
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:59
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, shown here with Baltimore police, announced the new ''Strong Cities Network'' to plug local departments into international cooperation and ''shared resources'' with their peers across the globe.
President Obama's new ''Strong Cities Network,'' announced with little fanfare last week at the United Nations, appears to be another effort to strip authority from local police departments and to demonize conservative Christians, say advocates of civil and religious liberties.
The stated goal of the program is to connect local police departments with their peers around the world in an effort to combat ''violent extremism,'' according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who announced the program to the U.N. on Sept. 30.
Lynch, with New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio by her side, told world leaders that the time has come for a more globalized and comprehensive effort to combat violent extremism. She said:
''Until now, we have lacked that mechanism. We haven't had the benefit of sustained or coordinated cooperation among the growing number of cities and municipalities that are confronting this ongoing challenge. Communities have too often been left isolated and alone. But through the Strong Cities Network that we have unveiled today, we are making the first systematic effort in history to bring together cities around the world to share experiences, to pool resources and to forge partnerships in order to build local cohesion and resilience on a global scale. Today we tell every city, every town and every community that has lost the flower of its youth to a sea of hatred '' you are not alone. We stand together and we stand with you.''
De Blasio called it a global coalition of cities seeking to combat extremism and terrorism in all of its ''many forms,'' and he assured the ACLU that the program would not lead to the profiling of Muslims.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.
So far, about two dozen other cities have signed up including Paris, London, Mumbai, Montreal, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Tunis, Oslo, Beirut and Palermo, among others.
Pastor Shahram Hadian of the Everette, Washington-based Truth in Love Project, said it's no coincidence that the project was launched at the United Nations.
''So who are they going to target when they talk about violent extremism?'' asked Hadian, a former Muslim who grew up in Iran and now travels nationwide teaching churches and law enforcement about the dangers of Shariah law. ''Well, if you look at their track record, it always seems to be that your violent extremists are your Christians, your veterans and your Second Amendment advocates.''
National media blackout
Paul McGuire, a Fox News and History Channel contributor who has authored several books including the new release, ''The Babylon Code: Solving the Bible's Greatest End Times Mystery,'' said it's also interesting how little media coverage was given to Obama's Strong Cities global policing program.
''There was no national media coverage whatsoever of the Strong Cities Network; it was completely buried,'' McGuire said. ''So the question is, why? This is massive because it's such a contradiction to the Constitution, and there was no consultation with Congress, and they did a complete end-run around everything that our Constitution stands for.''
Like Hadian, McGuire sees a sinister motive in the use of the term ''violent extremism,'' which he said is an attempt to draw a moral equivalency among all religions, even though 99 percent of all religious-based violence in the world today involves Muslims killing non-Muslims.
''That's code for 'We're going to crack down on Christian values and conservative values,' because they've already announced that they're pro-Islamic,'' McGuire said. ''Proof that both political parties are involved in this, is the fact that not one single Republican has brought it up. This is a direct intrusion of the U.N. into the sovereign status of the U.S. at every level, and not one single Republican brought it up.''
WND reported in August that the Obama administration is, indeed, targeting conservatives in its campaign against ''violent extremism.'' The FBI, according to the report, sent out a bulletin to state, local and national law enforcement warning of attacks against Muslims by ''militia extremists'' even though no proof of such an impending attack existed.
Police and veterans are also under pressure to conform to Obama's agenda of giving special concern to Muslims and other minorities in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, riots.
Hadian said that as racial tensions increase in U.S cities, often stoked by paid outside radicals to whom the government turns a blind eye, it appears Obama is trying to goad the so-called ''right wingers'' into an attack.
''They tried the race bait, and it hasn't really happened the way they had planned,'' he said. ''Perhaps Muslim baiting is now a part of their plan, even though the true narrative is the exact opposite as we've seen in Roseburg, Oregon, and in Garland, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Oklahoma City; Fort Hood, Texas; and the Boston Marathon.''
In each of those attacks, Muslims or Muslim sympathizers were identified as the attackers, with their targets being innocent Christians, civilians or the military.
Even in Charleston, South Carolina, it was black Christians who were targeted, in that case by an anti-Christian young white man, Dylan Roof, with mental health problems.
When a young Muslim couple was killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last year in an argument over a parking space, the Council for American-Islamic Relations tried to paint the crime as motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry. This theory was debunked by all the evidence collected by police, but CAIR has never retracted its statements.
So CAIR, in bed with federal law enforcement, is looking hard to pin a ''hate crime'' on a conservative Christian so they will have their poster child for a police-state crack down on free speech along with new gun-control laws, Hadian said.
''That's CAIR's modus operandi now, saying not just that you're an Islamophobe but that you're inciting violence (against Muslims) whenever you say anything critical of Islam,'' Hadian said.
CAIR was exposed as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terror-financing trial ever conducted on U.S. soil, yet several of its leaders have gone on to fill advisory roles within the Obama administration.
'Waiting for someone to attack a Muslim'
So the threat to Christians is real, said Hadian, and that's why it's important to balance the truth about Islam and its Quranic calls to jihad and Shariah with a call for evangelization and love.
''It's not about hating Muslims. We want to save them, reach out to them with the truth of the gospel, and we know this is a spiritual battle,'' he said. ''At the same time, we are becoming targets. It seems like at everyone one of these (mass shooting) events they are going to go out of their way to paint the extremist as some right-wing guy, and it just seems to fall apart every time they try to push that narrative.''
Pastor Shahram Hadian
''I have no problem encouraging people to defend their homes and their lives, but we certainly don't need to go on the offensive because this is what they are looking for,'' Hadian said. ''They're waiting for someone to attack a Muslim so they can say, 'Aha, see, I told you so.'''
'Eyes in the sky'
Enlisting global ''cooperation'' against the ''violent extremist'' should send chills down the spine of every American, said John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer, founder of the Rutherford Institute and author of ''Battlefield America: The War on the American People.''
''As I have been saying for quite a while, we have practically moved into a global government already,'' Whitehead told WND.
''You look at the NSA's Five Eyes Program, and this is spread around the world,'' he said. ''They've created basically an electronic concentration camp, and they're working with Google to do it. In essence, globalism armed with technology is going to happen and under Obama we've moved closer and closer to federalizing the police. The FBI is moving into several local police departments, most recently in Oakland (California). Their main job is to use social media to track people.''
Now, with Strong Cities Network, U.S. cities will be cooperating and ''sharing resources'' with foreign governments around the world. Local police are already training with FBI, DHS and even the military. Obama's new program lays the groundwork for them to train with foreign police units under the banner of the U.N.
John Whitehead
''With the Strong Cities program we see the goal is to have global police, so it's going to be very hard to rein in global cops,'' Whitehead said. ''Cops who were trained locally are going by the wayside, dealing solely with local cops is going to be a thing of the past. It's sort of in your face, it's saying the U.N. is going to be a global police force, working in this country one way or the other. New York City, L.A., Chicago are going to lead the way. Americans better get ready for this because what it means is, our Constitution is being replaced, and the constitutional protections we have eventually will be gone.''
Among the first steps taken will involve merging some of the law-enforcement capacities within regions, with U.S. cops cooperating more closely with those of Mexico and Canada, Whitehead said.
''They're working to fuse them together, so local autonomy, local authority, will be diluted and eventually eliminated,'' he said. ''They're already globalizing, technology demands it.
''Google is moving quickly with robotics, driverless cars, and coordinating everything on the web under one umbrella,'' he continued. ''Amazon was paid $600 million to build an intelligence cloud for the FBI, DHS and CIA.''
Eric Schmidt, the renowned software engineer, is involved in international elitist groups such as the secretive Bilderbergs, Whitehead said, and Hillary Clinton spoke at the last three major events for Google.
''You have John Podesta (Hillary Clinton's campaign manager). Eric Schmidt. Google, Amazon,'' he said. ''They want world government. Hillary wants it, Obama wants it. So that is where it is heading.''
Paul McGuire
McGuire said the U.N. will always pick a ''politically correct'' situation in which to intervene.
It will not intervene to stop the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, but it will intervene to protect transgenders, Islam or perceived racial bias by police.
That's why U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the protection of civil rights during the Ferguson uprising in August 2014 even as rioters were looting, turning over police cars and burning buildings.
Gun control tops U.N. agenda for law enforcement
''Whatever the U.N. moves into, it's always a politically correct situation. So when the Michael Brown protests were going on, the U.N. secretary general demanded that police adhered to what he called 'U.S. and international standards,' and he's basically taking authority over local police forces,'' McGuire said.
Another critical aspect of the U.N. agenda is universal gun registration and gun control.
''We all know that you have to get rid of the guns to bring in the dictatorship. Hitler did this, the Soviets did it,'' McGuire said. ''So they know that, and that's why Hillary Clinton wants to overhaul gun laws and Obama is now talking about using executive actions to enact gun control.''
After finishing the research for his latest book, ''The Babylon Code,'' which he co-authored with journalist Troy Anderson, McGuire said he came to an unavoidable conclusion.
''I believe we are now reaching a tipping point that is going to happen very soon,'' McGuire said. ''It could happen overnight and most likely after a crisis event. The U.N. is already in control of a great deal, but we are going to see the U.N. come out of the shadows and openly exercise its authority over the United States. They will still have some kind of illusion of the United States for the masses, but I believe the elites are ready to bring global government out of the closet, and we're going to see a very radical, aggressive change. They want to do this by 2030, and in Paris they're going to announce another round of sweeping changes (in November) and then you look at all the trigger points, the Syrian war, the international debt crisis, etcetera.''
Using refugees, mass waves of immigrants
While the Strong Cities Network talks on its website about ''building social cohesion'' in American cities, the policies of the globalists are achieving just the opposite. They are using Islam and Muslim refugees to ''break down social cohesion all over the world,'' McGuire says, setting the stage for mass unrest. The solution will be police-state crackdowns.
''They're using refugees in Germany to take over towns and cities. And here in U.S., they're using refugees to war on the social cohesion of our society. So they're going to slam-dunk the global government, and it will be a terrorist crisis or financial crisis that triggers it,'' McGuire said.
This is made obvious by the fact that the majority of ''refugees'' are healthy Islamic men between the ages of 18 and 45.
''That's an army. The Europeans aren't stupid,'' McGuire said. ''They have strategically allowed this in collusion with the pope, who softened the people up with his statements, and so the purpose of this is, you've broken down the Euro-centric identity with European Western values, and even though it's not Judeo-Christian values but Western nonetheless, in their customs and culture that produces a culture of excellence.''
By forcibly injecting waves of Islamic migrants into Europe, the stage has been set for riots and violence should a crisis occur, such as a financial meltdown or terror attack where public services get disrupted.
''That will demand a police-state crack down,'' McGuire said. ''And the other half of the equation is you create Shariah law, and you break apart that non-Islamic consensus so Europe no longer has a European culture and is therefore more likely to assimilate into globalism.
''That synergistically with the Muslim refugees would produce anarchy throughout Europe that would demand an authoritarian police state takeover, and suddenly the U.N. is no longer a set of 'would you please do this, or please do that' type recommendations. You've created the trigger points and the crisis points. You've created on top of it a huge number of people who will always vote socialist. The same potential exists here as in Europe, a crisis and then an authoritarian U.N. government moving in to take control of the mayhem. It's dark and dirty, and most people do not want to face it, but it's a real danger.''
If anyone doubts that sinister motives lie behind efforts like the Strong Cities Network, McGuire says all they need do is study the words of the world's most elite globalists, such as Henry Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger
''Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government.''
'' Kissinger in an address to the Bilderberg meeting at Evian, France, May 21, 1991, as transcribed from a tape-recording made by one of the Swiss delegates.
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London woman charged after alleged #killallwhitemen tweet | UK news | The Guardian
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:36
Bahar Mustafa is charged with sending a communication conveying a threatening message and sending a grossly offensive message via a public communication network. Photograph: Twitter/Twitter
A student diversity officer who came to prominence in a race row after allegedly tweeting the hashtag #killallwhitemen has been charged by police with sending a threatening communication.
Bahar Mustafa, of Goldsmiths, University of London, is set to appear at Bromley magistrates court on 5 November.
The 28-year-old from Edmonton, north-east London, faces two charges. One is sending a communication conveying a threatening message between 10 November 2014 and 31 May 2015. The second is for sending a grossly offensive message via a public communication network between 10 November 2014 and 31 May 2015.
Mustafa was initially accused of racism for asking white men not to attend a students' union meeting intended for ethnic minority women and non-binary attendees.
She then became embroiled in a separate row, accused of using the hashtag #killallwhitemen on her Twitter account, which has since been deleted.
A Met police spokesman said in a statement: ''A woman interviewed under caution regarding a complaint of racially motivated malicious communication made on a social media network has been summonsed to court.''
Mustafa is neither an employee of Goldsmiths nor a student, but an employee of the independent students' union, elected by union members.
Mustafa remained in her position as welfare and diversity officer after a petition for a motion of no confidence fell short of the 3% of union members required to trigger a poll.
After the furore, Mustafa denied that her initial request for white men to stay away from a union meeting was racist or sexist, and said she had received rape and death threats.
This article was amended on 7 October 2015. It originally referred to ''non-binary'' women. That should have been non-binary attendees. This has been corrected.
60,000 Antelope Died in Four Days and No One Knows Why - NBC News
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 22:16
In May 2015, nearly half of all the saigas, a critically endangered antelope that roams the steppe of Kazakhstan, died off. Albert Salemgareyev
Now, the researchers have found clues as to how more than half of the country's herd, counted at 257,000 as of 2014, died so rapidly. Bacteria clearly played a role in the saigas' demise. But exactly how these normally harmless microbes could take such a toll is still a mystery, Zuther said.
"The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species," Zuther said. "It's really unheard of."
Saigas, which are listed as critically endangered by the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature, live in a few herds in Kazakhstan, one small herd in Russia and a herd in Mongolia. The herds congregate with other herds during the cold winters, as well as when they migrate to other parts of Kazakhstan, during the fall and spring. The herds split up to calve their young during the late spring and early summer. The die-off started during the calving period.Field workers were able to take detailed samples of the saigas' environment '-- the rocks the animals walked on and the soil they crossed '-- as well as the water the animals drank and the vegetation they ate in the months and weeks leading up to the die-off.
The researchers additionally conducted
high-quality necropsies of the animals, and even observed the behavior of some of the animals as they died. The females, which cluster together to calve their young, were hit the hardest. They died first, followed by their calves, which were still too young to eat any vegetation. That sequence suggested that whatever was killing off the animals was being transmitted through the mothers' milk, Zuther said.Tissue samples revealed that toxins, produced by Pasteurella and possibly Clostridia bacteria, caused extensive bleeding in most of the animals' organs. But Pasteurella is found normally in the bodies of ruminants like the saigas, and it usually doesn't cause harm unless the animals have weakened immune systems.
So far, the only possible environmental cause was that there was a
cold, hard winter followed by a wet spring, with lots of lush vegetation and standing water on the ground that could enable bacteria to spread more easily, Zuther said. That by itself doesn't seem so unusual, though, he said.Another possibility is that such flash crashes are inevitable responses to some natural variations in the environment, he said. Zuther said he and his colleagues plan to continue their search for a cause of the die-off.
This is a condensed version of an article that appeared on Live Science. Read the original story
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South Carolina floods show how global warming is altering our weather
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 22:09
What's This?
Hunter Baker surveys flood damage to his neighborhood near the flooded Black Creek, following heavy rains in Florence, South Carolina, Monday, October 5, 2015.By Andrew Freedman2015-10-05 16:26:20 UTC
The epic amount of rain that led to deadly, catastrophic flooding across large parts of South Carolina and North Carolina is an example of exactly the type of supercharged storm system climate scientists have been warning about for years as a likely consequence of global warming.
This storm, like others that have come before it '-- from a massive deluge that flooded Oklahoma City to a flooding event in Houston, both of which occurred earlier this year '-- are examples of how the atmosphere is behaving in new ways now that there's more water vapor and heat for weather systems to work with.
It's not that heavy downpours and floods didn't occur before manmade global warming became evident (for the record, they did). The issue now is that these events are even more severe than they otherwise would have been. And they are becoming more frequent in many areas.
Though there are significant limits on what climate scientists can say at this point about an event like the South Carolina floods, it's well-established that global warming has already led to a measurable increase in global atmospheric water vapor levels, and this moisture can be wrung out as heavier bursts of rain or snow.
It is also well-established in scientific literature that precipitation is increasingly falling in short, intense bursts rather than long-lasting, generally lighter events.
Percent changes in the annual amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events, defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events from 1901 to 2012 for each region.
Image: National Climate Assessment
The risk for extreme precipitation events is increasing in many parts of the world.
One study, for example, showed that a 1-in-100 year winter-rainfall event in parts of the United Kingdom is already occurring more frequently, becoming a 1-in-80 year event.
This means that an event with a 1% chance of occurring each year now has a 1.25% risk of occurring in any particular winter, which translates to a 25% increase in risk, according to Oxford University scientists.
Water vapor and the Carolina firehoseWhile it's too soon to say precisely how global warming may have affected the rare confluence of events that conspired to dump at least 26.88 inches of rain in less than four days on South Carolina, changes in extreme precipitation events are one of global warming's most well-documented climate change impacts.
First, consider how significant this rainfall event has been. Charleston and Columbia saw so much rain in four days that they both blew past their previous records for the all-time wettest October, along with setting numerous other milestones.
Across South Carolina, nearly 400 roads and 158 bridges were closed on Monday due to the flooding that killed nine. More than two dozen evacuation shelters are open, and 30,000 residents are still without power.
The record-shattering rains in Charleston and Columbia, as well as other parts of North and South Carolina, were rarer than a 1-in-1,000 year event, based on recurrence intervals from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This means that they'd have just a 0.1% chance or less of occurring in a given year.
As many climate scientists will say, though, we seem to be seeing more and more 500-year to 1,000-year events lately, to the point where the definition of such events and their return intervals may need to change.
How did this happen?There were four main meteorological players in this extreme weather event, each of which raised the odds for a record rainfall event in the Carolinas and caused weather forecasters to sound the alarm for the Palmetto State as early as midweek last week.
These atmospheric players include an upper-level low-pressure area across the Southeast; a stationary front with an area of low pressure riding along it; Hurricane Joaquin, which passed off the East Coast and moved close to Bermuda; as well as a strong area of high pressure parked across southern Quebec.
These weather systems led to multiple moisture feeds directed at the Carolinas in firehose-like fashion for an unusually long time. Rainfall rates of 1-to-4 inches per hour or higher were recorded in the Charleston area and other locations for multiple hours at a time.
The creeping progress of the weather pattern, with the blocking high across Quebec playing a role in this, helped keep this firehose in place for days '-- from Thursday through Monday. Some studies have shown that stuck weather patterns have become more common in recent years, potentially tied to rapid Arctic warming, though this link is not accepted by all of the mainstream climate science community.
Think of some of these weather systems as pipelines directly connected to major moisture sources: the unusually mild waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean; milder-than-average waters of the western Atlantic; and a water-laden Hurricane Joaquin.
Climate change increases risk of extreme rainfall eventsAcross the U.S. as a whole, the frequency of 2-inch or greater rainstorms has increased in recent decades, and extreme precipitation events have been on the rise across the Northern Hemisphere as well.
A Climate Central analysis released in May found that 40 of the lower 48 states have seen an overall increase in heavy downpours (the days where total precipitation exceeded the top 1% of all rain and snow days) since 1950.
However, South Carolina was one of the few states that did not see an increase, based on that analysis. In fact, it saw a slight decrease in the frequency of heavy precipitation events. Neighboring states, including Georgia and North Carolina, did see increases, though.
Sea surface temperature departures from average in degrees C on October 4, 2015, with the area the heavy rain formed over circled in blue.
Image: WeatherBell Analytics
In general, warm air holds more moisture and evaporates more moisture from the soils and the ocean, which is also milder than it used to be. Ocean temperatures off the Southeast are above average for this time of year, which may have added more water vapor to this event, thereby giving the storm more energy to work with.
Specific so-called "climate attribution" studies examining the role that global warming may have played in this event may take several weeks to months for scientists to complete.
Michael Mann, who directs Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, told Mashable in an email that this storm is "yet another example, like Sandy, or Irene, of weather on 'steroids,' another case where climate change worsened the effects of an already extreme meteorological event."
"In this case, we're seeing once-in-a-thousand year flooding along the South Carolina coastline as a consequence of the extreme supply of moisture streaming in from hurricane Joaquin," he said.
Image: Mic Smith/Associated Press
Joaquin intensified over record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, which both allowed it to intensify rapidly despite adverse wind shear, and which provided it with unusually high levels of moisture '-- moisture which is now being turned into record rainfall.
Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado, is a prominent climate scientist who has been outspoken about tying global warming to the characteristics of extreme weather events. He has pointed out, in scientific papers and public appearances, that because global warming has added heat and moisture to the atmosphere, every weather event that occurs now is different than it would have been had it occurred several decades ago.
Image: Chuck Burton/Associated Press
For example, this storm occurred during a year that has at least a 97% chance of being Earth's warmest on record, and at a time when the planet's oceans are the warmest they've been since such records began in the late 19th century.
The tricky part for scientists lies in figuring out exactly how those changes manifest themselves, and how significant they are relative to other factors, such as natural climate variability.
"Global warming means more ocean heat and abundant surface water vapor waiting to be gathered by a storm," Trenberth wrote in an email to Mashable. A slow-moving storm such as this one, he said, "dumps it all in one place."
"This is increasingly occurring in different places and times and is to be expected from climate change," Trenberth said.
He also cited the ongoing strong El Ni±o event in the tropical Pacific, which has helped drive global ocean temperatures to their highest temperature on record, as a possible factor behind this storm system.
"El Ni±o means all action is in [the] Pacific," which suppresses tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic. "This means build up of heat that waits for an opportunity to escape in some sense."
Myles Allen, who leads the climate dynamics group at the University of Oxford and has participated in several climate attribution studies, was more cautious about linking the South Carolina extreme rainfall and flooding to global warming.
"All other things being equal, increasing atmospheric moisture resulting from large-scale warming would allow more such events to occur," he wrote in an email to Mashable.
"But other impacts of climate change, such as changing circulation patterns, could work in the opposite direction: so it's an interesting question whether human influence on climate made this event more or less likely to occur, but not one on which we should jump to conclusions without doing the necessary analysis," he said.
Sea level rise makes matters worseFor coastal residents of the Carolinas, particularly those in Charleston, there was another climate change-related factor that helped accentuate the flooding: sea level rise.
Onshore winds associated with the squeeze play between a surface low-pressure area in the Southeast and the high-pressure area over the northeast helped drive high tides in Charleston to levels not seen since Hurricane Hugo made landfall there in 1989.
This exacerbated flooding caused by heavy rain, since the tide level prevented waters and sewage from draining out of the city at times.
According to Ben Strauss, a climate scientist at Climate Central who focuses on sea level rise, this flood event was a preview of what's to come for cities like Charleston as they face the prospect of more coastal flood events.
"This provides a mostly unrelated preview of what high tide could look like in Charleston after [the] sea level rise we could see later this century," Strauss wrote in an email.
Water levels for Charleston, South Carolina, showing the peak tide on October 4, 2015. Red marks water level above the predicted value.
Climate Central's sea level rise report for South Carolina found that more than 800 square miles of land lie less than 4 feet above the high-tide line in South Carolina, including $24 billion in property value.
"Every coastal flood today is already wider, deeper and more damaging because of the roughly 8 inches of warming-driven global sea level rise that has taken place since 1900," the report found. "Since sea level rise multiplies extreme coastal flood risk, and global warming contributes to sea level rise, global warming multiplies flood risk."
Topics: Climate, South Carolina flood, U.S., World
No Agenda 2016 Episode 23 | No Agenda 2016
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 22:02
Topics include: Carson and Trump on a Muslim president, Trump's getting slammed by the media and Hillary on Face the Nation and Democratic candidates in general. Trump 'denies' global warming and ABC stumps for Jeb Bush while Mike Rogers weighs in on Hillary's email woes.
Police raid home of 17yo student charged over alleged Facebook threat: Teen attended same school as Parramatta gunman - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:21
Police raid the home of the 17-year-old who allegedly threatened a police station on Facebook.
Police have raided the western Sydney home of a teenager charged with threatening a police station on his Facebook page.
The 17-year-old student, who attended the same school as the teenager who fatally shot a police accountant last week, was charged on Tuesday night with assaulting and intimidating police, two counts of resisting arrest and using a carriage to menace, harass and offend.
Police seized two laptops and other items after raiding the boy's home at Guildford. Officers were at the house for more than an hour.
Neighbour Maggie Semaan said the student and his family were good neighbours.
"They're very nice people. They're quiet. We've never known that there was any trouble," she said.
Photo Police carry out belongings of a teenager who allegedly threatened a police station on Facebook.ABC News: Siobhan Fogarty"Good and quiet and friendly. They're very nice people."
She said she was surprised to hear the teenager had allegedly threatened police.
"Shocked. What can we do? I know we have to be scared but I've known the people," she said.
"They seem quiet people, very nice people. We've never heard anything about them that's bad."
The teenager has been given strict conditional bail and will appear at a children's court on November 9.
Police said they spoke to the teenage boy on his way to Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta on Tuesday morning in relation to alleged posts on social media.
Photo The teenager was given strict conditional bail and will appear at a children's court in November.AAP: Paul MillerHe was arrested outside the school.
It is alleged he used Facebook to post a video showing New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione discussing Friday's shooting, and wrote the caption "merryland [sic] police station is next hope they all burn in hell".
Police said he threatened and intimidated officers who spoke to him near the school on Tuesday morning.
On Friday, fellow student Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad shot and killed 17-year police force veteran and accountant Curtis Cheng at close range outside the NSW Police headquarters in Parramatta.
The Year 10 student was killed by police in front of the building after he fatally shot Mr Cheng.
There was a heavy police presence at the school on Tuesday morning, which is just metres from the scene of last week's fatal shooting, as students returned for the first time since the attack.
The NSW Department of Education offered counselling to students and teachers.
Several students expressed their shock at the shooting incident, describing Farhad as quiet, polite and "a nice kid".
Students who knew Farhad said he enjoyed playing basketball at the school.
More on this story:Posted Tue 6 Oct 2015, 8:30 PM AEDTMore Stories
Boze burgers belagen staatssecretaris Dijkhoff | NOS
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:15
De staatssecretaris net voor zijn vertrek uit Oranje NOS
In het Drentse dorp Oranje hebben boze dorpsbewoners de auto van staatssecretaris Dijkhoff belaagd. Dijkhoff was in Oranje om de bewoners op een besloten bijeenkomst bij te praten over de komst van 700 extra asielzoekers.
Toen hij wilde vertrekken, blokkeerden dorpsbewoners de weg met auto's. De chauffeur van de staatssecretaris draaide daarop om, en wilde via een andere kant het dorp verlaten. Daar werd de weg echter door een vrouw geblokkeerd.
Toen de auto tot stilstand kwam, trokken dorpsbewoners een deur open, rukten er een spiegel af en trapten tegen het voertuig. De vrouw werd aan de kant geduwd en de de auto van Dijkhoff reed weg.
In het vakantiepark in Oranje worden al 700 vluchtelingen opgevangen. Dijkhoff heeft besloten dat er nog eens 700 bij komen. Eerder wilde het COA al 1400 mensen in Oranje opvangen, maar na protesten van omwonenden werd dat teruggebracht tot 700.
Volgens de burgemeester van Midden-Drenthe en commissaris van de koning Tichelaar is de komst van 1400 asielzoekers in strijd met de afspraken.
ISIS throw 4 more gay men to their deaths | Gay Star News
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:11
'Gay' man is blindfolded and thrown off a building in Ninevah.
05 October 2015 by Darren WeeIslamic State (ISIS) militants executed four more gay men in Iraq over the weekend.
Two young men were thrown off the roof a building in Mosul under the pretext they were a gay couple.
'On Sunday afternoon, Daesh called on the people of Mosul to gather in the square of Bab al-Toub in order to witness the execution of the two allegedly men,' an eyewitness told ARA News.
'The victims were taken to the top of a building and were brutally thrown off the roof.'
Also on Sunday, the Terror Monitor group tweeted photos of a separate execution of two 'gay' men, who were thrown from a building in Ninevah into a pile of cement blocks.
The photos show an imam reading out their sentence and large crowd of spectators:
WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURES #IRAQ#IslamicState (#ISIS) Barbaric Terror Group Throw 'Gay' Man To His Death In #Nineveh . pic.twitter.com/FIXrdPBSCj
'-- Terrormonitor.org (@Terror_Monitor) October 4, 2015
ISIS has branded LGBTI people 'the worst of all creatures.'
The jihadist group executed nine men and a boy accused of being gay in Syria last month and claimed responsibility for the killings of at least 30 other gay men.
Citing NSA Spying, European Court Kills Data Transfer Agreement Between EU & US
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:10
Discover what's up in the business of marketing each Friday.
The two-year old Snowden-NSA spying revelations have fueled a growing climate of hostility toward Google, Facebook and other US tech companies in Europe. And earlier today, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) cited Snowden to kill a long-established Safe Harbor agreement that allowed the transfer and processing of data between servers in the US and Europe.
The case has broad implications for companies that do business in Europe beyond the tech sector. As a practical matter, every company moving any kind of data or personal information involving EU citizens outside of Europe will need to comply with stringent EU privacy rules (that are about to get stricter). It also potentially ''Balkanizes'' privacy enforcement across Europe, likely giving country-level regulators more power over non-EU entities and corporations.
The ruling probably also sets the stage for private legal remedies by EU citizens against corporations doing business in Europe before local data protection authorities and courts. The Safe Harbor agreement had effectively preempted such individual rights and potential claims. Thus the fallout from the CJEU decision could make doing business in Europe much more complex and potentially costly.
The underlying action was brought against Facebook by Austrian student and privacy activist Max Schrems, who complained about Facebook's alleged lack of data protection under EU law. He argued that in light of the 2013 Snowden revelations, the transfer of data from Facebook's Ireland-based subsidiary to the US violated European regulations because it exposed EU data to US government spying.
Irish regulators denied the complaint on the basis of the international US''EU Safe Habor agreement. It was appealed and went to Ireland's highest court. The decision today by the CJEU invalidates the agreement and remands the matter to Irish data protection regulators to consider Schrems's complaint.
At issue is whether ''transfer of the data of Facebook's European subscribers to the United States should be suspended on the ground that that country does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data.'' The CJEU decision, embedded below, makes the Irish regulator's decision a foregone conclusion: the answer is yes.
The IAB sent out a public statement on the decision that laments its potential impact on EU''US business relations:
Today's decision by the European Court of Justice jeopardizes thousands of businesses across the Atlantic. For nearly 15 years, the Safe Harbor agreement has provided IAB member companies with an efficient means to comply with EU privacy law. Thanks in part to the Safe Harbor agreement, The US and EU are among the world's most vibrant digital advertising marketplaces, together representing $84 billion in annual revenue, or nearly two thirds of global digital advertising revenues. This robust digital advertising ecosystem has provided citizens across Europe with countless free digital services, including news, entertainment, email, and social networks. The weakening of the Safe Harbor agreement limits European consumers' access to valuable digital services and impedes trade and innovation. We urge the US and EU to agree on new rules for the transatlantic transfer of data, taking into account the CJEU's judgment.
The UK, Germany, France and Spain have all been discovered spying on their own populations, as the NSA was. So there's irony (or hypocrisy) in the CJEU's decision. Complying with EU data protection rules doesn't therefore mean that EU citizens' data won't be spied on or exposed to government authorities.
I have limited ability to comment on the technology implications of the CJEU decision, except to say that US tech companies will either need to maintain European servers and not do any data transfer between countries or adopt tougher EU privacy standards globally.
Either way one looks at it, the decision creates new uncertainty and major challenges that will probably need to be resolved politically in a new agreement. But given the CJEU's skepticism and cynicism, there's no guarantee that any new international agreement would be trusted and upheld.
Postscript: The following statement about the decision was issued today by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker:
Since 2000, the Safe Harbor Framework has proven to be critical to protecting privacy on both sides of the Atlantic and to supporting economic growth in the United States and the EU. We are deeply disappointed in today's decision from the European Court of Justice, which creates significant uncertainty for both U.S. and EU companies and consumers, and puts at risk the thriving transatlantic digital economy. Among other things, the decision does not credit the benefits to privacy and growth that have been afforded by this Framework over the last 15 years.
For the last two years, we have worked closely with the European Commission to strengthen the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, with robust and transparent protection, including clear oversight by the Department of Commerce and strong enforcement by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
The court's decision necessitates release of the updated Safe Harbor Framework as soon as possible.
We are prepared to work with the European Commission to address uncertainty created by the court decision so that the thousands of U.S. and EU businesses that have complied in good faith with the Safe Harbor and provided robust protection of EU citizens' privacy in accordance with the Framework's principles can continue to grow the world's digital economy.
About The AuthorGreg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
This one Toyota pickup truck is at the top of the shopping list for the Free Syrian Army '-- and the Taliban | Public Radio International
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:04
The Hilux, a pickup truck Toyota has built since the late 1960s, isn't available in the US, but it's popular around the globe, including with insurgent groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks.
Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army's wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, is a fan of the truck.
"Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground," he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.
"You can absolutely expect for many of those trucks to be mounted with crew-served machine guns or other type of equipment, military equipment, that the opposition forces have access to. I mean, that's one of the reasons why the Toyota Hilux is such an important force multiplier, because it could be used both for humanitarian purposes and for operational purposes as well."
Syria is only the latest war zone where the Hilux has been a vehicle of choice. The BBC's Kabul correspondent, David Loyn, saw the Hilux put through its paces by the Taliban in the 1990s, and credits the truck with having given Taliban forces a battlefield edge.
"They perfected very fast-moving maneuver warfare, and they did it with Hilux trucks," he says. "The Jane's Defense Weekly analysis of the seizure of Kabul in 1996 was that it was a textbook operation, from three sides, a coordinated piece of warfare using these Hilux trucks as very fast-moving troop-moving vehicles."
Loyn ranks the Hilux among the great game-changers of modern warfare. "You have seen in many wars in the past, a sort of symbolic weapon: the longbow at Agincourt, the Huey helicopter in Vietnam and, I think, the Hilux truck in Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban was [as] significant and iconic a weapon as those."
Check out how the crew of BBC television's Top Gear sinks a Hilux pickup truck in a river, smashes it with a wrecking ball, then sets it on fire. And fails to kill it. No wonder fighters are attracted to the Hilux.
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US Officials Ask How ISIS Got So Many Toyota Trucks - ABC News
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:03
U.S. counter-terror officials have asked Toyota, the world's second largest auto maker, to help them determine how ISIS has managed to acquire the large number of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs seen prominently in the terror group's propaganda videos in Iraq, Syria and Libya, ABC News has learned.
Toyota says it does not know how ISIS obtained the vehicles and is ''supporting'' the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the Treasury Department -- part of a broad U.S. effort to prevent Western-made goods from ending up in the hands of the terror group.
''We briefed Treasury on Toyota's supply chains in the Middle East and the procedures that Toyota has in place to protect supply chain integrity,'' said Ed Lewis, Toyota's Washington-based director of public policy and communications.
Toyota has a ''strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,'' Lewis said. He said it is impossible for the company to track vehicles that have been stolen, or have been bought and re-sold by middlemen.
ISIS militants race through Raqqa in a propaganda training film released online in September 2014.Toyota Hilux pickups, an overseas model similar to the Toyota Tacoma, and Toyota Land Cruisers have become fixtures in videos of the ISIS campaign in Iraq, Syria and Libya, with their truck beds loaded with heavy weapons and cabs jammed with terrorists. The Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told ABC News that in addition to re-purposing older trucks, his government believes ISIS has acquired ''hundreds'' of ''brand new'' Toyotas in recent years.
''This is a question we've been asking our neighbors,'' Faily said. ''How could these brand new trucks... these four wheel drives, hundreds of them -- where are they coming from?''
ISIS propaganda videos show gunmen patrolling Syrian streets in what appear to be older and newer model white Hilux pick-ups bearing the black caliphate seal and crossing Libya in long caravans of gleaming tan Toyota Land Cruisers. When ISIS soldiers paraded through the center of Raqqa, more than two-thirds of the vehicles were the familiar white Toyotas with the black emblems. There were small numbers of other brands including Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Isuzu.
''Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,'' said Mark Wallace, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who is CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit working to expose the financial support networks of terror groups.
''ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,'' Wallace told ABC News. ''But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet -- a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that's very concerning to us.''
Toyota says many of the vehicles seen in ISIS videos are not recent models. ''We have procedures in place to help ensure our products are not diverted for unauthorized military use,'' said Lewis, the Toyota executive.
But, Lewis added, ''It is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated.''
Questions about the ISIS use of Toyota vehicles have circulated for years. In 2014, a report by the radio broadcaster Public Radio International noted that the U.S. State Department delivered 43 Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels. A more recent report in an Australian newspaper said that more than 800 of the trucks had been reported missing in Sydney between 2014 and 2015, and quoted terror experts speculating that they may have been exported to ISIS territory.
Attempts to track the path of the trucks into ISIS hands has proven complicated for U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Toyota's own figures show sales of Hilux and Land Cruisers tripling from 6,000 sold in Iraq in 2011 to 18,000 sold in 2013, before sales dropped back to 13,000 in 2014.
Brigadier General Saad Maan, an Iraqi military spokesman, told ABC News he suspects that middlemen from outside Iraq have been smuggling the trucks into his country.
''We are spending our time to fight those terrorists so we cannot say we are controlling the border between Iraq and Syria,'' he conceded. ''We are deeply in need for answers.''
In a statement to ABC News, Toyota said it is not aware of any dealership selling to the terror group but ''would immediately'' take action if it did, including termination of the distribution agreement.
Toyota distributors in the region contacted by ABC News said they did not know how the trucks reached ISIS.
Sumitomo, a Japanese conglomerate that ships vehicles to the region, wrote to ABC News, ''In terms of how anyone operating outside of the law obtain vehicles for misappropriation, we have no way to know and therefore cannot comment.''
A spokesman for former owners of the Toyota dealership in Syria said its sales operation was halted in 2012.
The former owners, a Saudi company called Abdul Latif Jameel, said it ''made the decision to cease all trading activities in the country and fully divested the business in October, 2012,'' according to a spokesperson.
Wallace, of the Counter Extremism Project, said his organization wrote directly to Toyota earlier this year to urge the company to do more to track the flow of trucks to ISIS, and noted that the trucks are stamped with traceable identification numbers.
''I don't think Toyota's trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more,'' Wallace said. ''They should be able to figure it out... how are these trucks getting there. I think they should disclose that, put a stop to that, and put policies and procedures in places that are real and effective to make sure that we don't see videos of ISIS using Toyota trucks in the future.''
Earlier this year, Toyota responded to Wallace's organization with similar language the company has used to answer questions from ABC News, writing that Toyota stopped entirely its sales of vehicles in Syria several years ago.
Toyota told ABC News that after company officials briefed the U.S. Treasury team and that Treasury indicated the meeting was ''helpful.''
''We cannot provide further details of our interaction with Treasury as we do not want to compromise its efforts to understand and prevent diversion, or make it easier for illicit groups to penetrate our supply chains or those of any other company,'' Lewis said.
Treasury officials told ABC News they could not comment publicly about the agency's engagement with specific private companies. But in response to questions about Toyota, the officials said investigators are ''working closely with foreign counterparts and stakeholders'' on the issue.
ABC News' Randy Kreider and Mazin Faiq contributed to this report.
Anti-'Violent Extremism' Plan Worries NYC Muslims | Al Jazeera America
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:58
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at the United Nations on Tuesday that his city will join an international coalition of municipalities that share information and best practices in order to counter violent extremism.
Civil rights advocates and Muslim organizations in the United States, however, worry the move to join the Strong Cities Network (SCN) could lead to abuses by law enforcement, especially against the Muslim community
Twenty-one organizations sent the mayor's office a letter on Sept. 21 urging de Blasio to meet with them to discuss the program, Politico reported.
The letter said that previous initiatives in other cities have stigmatized ''Muslim communities as suspicious and in need of special monitoring,'' and have transformed ''the relationship between Muslims and schools and social service providers into security-based engagements.''
SCN is the brainchild of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a London-based think tank that says the network of cities will "facilitate systematic sharing of knowledge, expertise and lessons learned on building social cohesion and community resilience to prevent violent extremism '... through both regional workshops and international conferences."
The effort has the endorsement of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who on Monday called the Strong Cities Network a ''vital tool.''
In signing up for the program New York joins almost two dozen other cities, including London, Paris, Mumbai, Denver, Minneapolis and Oslo. The U.S. State Department will provide money through 2016 to develop the network. After that, charities will take over funding of the program, ISD said.
ISD policy and research head Jonathan Birdwell told Al Jazeera the network will be sensitive to the concerns of Muslim communities and won't neglect the dangers of right-wing groups. Since the network is launching now, he asks civil rights groups to give it a chance.
But rights organizations told de Blasio that ''the reality is that CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) is targeted overwhelmingly at Muslims. '... Indeed, we are not aware of a single CVE outreach program in the U.S. that is aimed at any other community.''
The mayor's office told Politico that de Blasio only decided to join the information-sharing initiative Tuesday, and that he understands the groups' fears. The mayor's office had not responded to a request for further comment at the time of publication.
Linda Sarsour, head of the Arab American Association of New York, said the NYPD has established criteria for radicalization that make expressions of faith grounds for suspicion. She pointed to a New York City Police Department document called ''Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,'' which says that ''giving up cigarettes, drinking, gambling and urban hip-hop gangster clothes; Wearing traditional Islamic clothing, growing a beard; Becoming involved in social activism and community issues'' are all indicators that someone is developing a violent interpretation of Islam. The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera.
De Blasio ''shares the same ideology of the last administration, where violent extremism and terrorism is only associated with Muslims. You are no different than [Ray] Kelly [the former NYPD police commissioner]. If you are going to run a Countering Violent Extremism program, you can't tell me you're different,'' Sarsour told Al Jazeera.
Launch of Strong Cities Network to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism | OPA | Department of Justice
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:57
Cities are vital partners in international efforts to build social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism. Local communities and authorities are the most credible and persuasive voices to challenge violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations in their local contexts. While many cities and local authorities are developing innovative responses to address this challenge, no systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.
''The Strong Cities Network will serve as a vital tool to strengthen capacity-building and improve collaboration,'' said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. ''As we continue to counter a range of domestic and global terror threats, this innovative platform will enable cities to learn from one another, to develop best practices and to build social cohesion and community resilience here at home and around the world.''
The Strong Cities Network (SCN) '' which launches September 29th at the United Nations '' will empower municipal bodies to fill this gap while working with civil society and safeguarding the rights of local citizens and communities.
The SCN will strengthen strategic planning and practices to address violent extremism in all its forms by fostering collaboration among cities, municipalities and other sub-national authorities.
''To counter violent extremism we need determined action at all levels of governance,'' said Governing Mayor Stian Berger R¸sland of Oslo while commenting on their participation in the SCN. ''To succeed, we must coordinate our efforts and cooperate across borders. The Strong Cities Network will enable cities across the globe pool our resources, knowledge and best practices together and thus leave us standing stronger in the fight against one of the greatest threats to modern society.''
The SCN will connect cities, city-level practitioners and the communities they represent through a series of workshops, trainings and sustained city partnerships. Network participants will also contribute to and benefit from an online repository of municipal-level good practices and web-based training modules and will be eligible for grants supporting innovative, local initiatives and strategies that will contribute to building social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism.
The SCN will include an International Steering Committee of approximately 25 cities and other sub-national entities from different regions that will provide the SCN with its strategic direction. The SCN will also convene an International Advisory Board, which includes representatives from relevant city-focused networks, to help ensure SCN builds upon their work. It will be run by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a leading international ''think-and-do'' tank with a long-standing track record of working to prevent violent extremism:
''The SCN provides a unique new opportunity to apply our collective lessons in preventing violent extremism in support of local communities and authorities around the world'', said CEO Sasha Havlicek of ISD. ''We look forward to developing this international platform for joint innovation to impact this pressing challenge.''
''It is with great conviction that Montr(C)al has agreed to join the Strong Cities Network founders,'' said the Honorable Mayor Denis Coderre of Montreal. ''This global network is designed to build on community-based approaches to address violent extremism, promote openness and vigilance and expand upon local initiatives like Montr(C)al's Mayors' International Observatory on Living Together. I am delighted that through the Strong Cities Network, the City of Montr(C)al will more actively share information and best practices with a global network of leaders on critical issues facing our communities.''
The Strong Cities Network will launch on Sept. 29, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT, following the Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. Welcoming remarks will be offered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who will also introduce a Keynote address by U.S. Attorney General Lynch. Following this event, the Strong Cities International Steering Committee, consisting of approximately 25 mayors and other leaders from cities and other sub-national entities from around the globe, will hold its inaugural meeting on Sept. 30, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT.
For more information, please visit www.strongcitiesnetwork.org or contact Sabine Barton via email at:info@strongcitiesnetwork.org or telephone: +44 207 493 9333.
Strong Cities Network: Did the UN just install a global police force? -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:57
While people were in a daze of reverie following the lunar eclipse and the Pope's U.S. visit, a very important yet overlooked announcement was made by the Department of Justice."Launch of Strong Cities Network to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism" rang the bell to usher in a global-local initiative to ferret out extremism at the local level - yes, in the United States. Symbolically, it could also signal a turning point when it comes to local authorities and their treatment of the residents at large. Indeed, it is a global enmeshment that most Americans are either a) in the total dark about, or b) going hysterical over, if they've heard about it.
Honestly, either of those reactions is understandable when you start digging into the announcements and its sponsors only to find the typical convoluted, global-psycho-babble that signals to the astute that they are about to lose their rights and be perceived as domestic terrorists. But can anyone really say for sure? Of course not. Not when the message is written in Newspeak gibberish.
What is the Strong Cities Network and why did some U.S. cities join up?
On the face of it, SCN is to strengthen the bond between cities in the U.S. and global cities in the fight against violent extremism, internationally and at the local level. It will funnel help to local authorities of those cities which hop on board.
From the press release:
While many cities and local authorities are developing innovative responses to address this challenge, no systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.
Technically, SCN doesn't have much to do with the U.N. but people think of the U.N. because this action is global and the launch was announced on the margins of U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 29 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. To a lot of people, that match-up doesn't bode well. The Keynote address came from U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.All cities are encouraged by them to join up, but the major U.S. cities that are currently a part of it are actually among the founding "Steering" committee. New York, Denver, Atlanta and Minneapolis are among the couple dozen founding cities across the world. They will all "steer" simultaneous action among city authorities and officials. And while SCN tries to portray itself as for the little guy, that couldn't be further from the truth if you really browse around their website and cut through the B.S. language. Citizens will have virtually nothing to do with their decisions and actions unless they are of high community affluence. Just look at the information of their first global summit and see who it's intended for and who will speak.
SCN's Internation Advisory Board is run by by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) which considers itself a leading international "think-and-do" tank. It began as The Club of Three, started in the mid-1990s by Lord Weidenfeld. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue was created in 2006 as an umbrella organization and also created initiatives like Against Violent Extremism, Extreme Dialogue, Counter Extremism and European Muslim Women of Influence.
Regular readers to this site probably don't just think in terms of the U.N. power grab - but the myriad NGOs, institutes, think tanks, initiatives, corporate foundations etc. that seal and bolster global authority. That's what this reeks of.
See if you can figure out the actual goals as extracted from the DOJ press release:
Garnering partnership of cities in international efforts to build social cohesion and resilience to violent extremismUsing persuasive voices of authorities and communities to challenge violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestationsCapacity-building and improvement of collaborationTo counter a range of domestic and global terror threatsTo enable cities to learn from one another, to develop best practicesWill empower municipal bodies to fill this gap while working with civil societySafeguard the rights of local citizens and communitiesDetermine action at all levels of governance to counter violent extremismCoordinate our efforts and cooperate across bordersConnect cities, city-level practitioners and the communities through a series of workshops, trainings and sustained city partnershipsProvide an online repository of municipal-level good practices and web-based training modules and grants supporting innovative, local initiatives and strategiesInternational Steering Committee of approximately 25 cities and other sub-national entities from different regions that will provide the SCN with its strategic directionUse collective lessons in this international platform for joint innovationDoes that leave you scratching your head as to what is really going to happen? It should, unless you know for a fact what social cohesion and community resilience really means. Their definition of violent extremism isn't even laid out.The launch was made following the Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. A better way to counter terrorism would be to stop funding it! And stop projecting the Western-backed terrorism onto the people as though they are guilty. That's why these actions should be a big concern.Truthfully, the declaration of actions provided by SCN under Club of Three are clear as mud, and must undergo more inquiry and scrutiny before ever recognizing their actions as legitimate. Some of the inquiry might include a look at why the DOJ is bolstering this global "Steering" committee.
While some outlets are reading "social cohesion" to mean partnering up with Muslim fanatics to install Sharia Law in the U.S. - a more likely observation is that this initiativedeflectsfrom the major unresolved issue of State violence supported in some local law enforcement sectors.
If an initiative (or the DOJ) wanted to make sure violent extremism doesn't happen to communities, it would address this systemic issue first instead of funnel more power its way and strengthen it "systemically" on an international scale.
US proposes nearly $2 million fine against drone operator
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:54
US proposes nearly $2 million fine against drone operatorOctober 6, 2015 by By Joan LowyIn this photo taken June 19, 2015, the Transportation Department's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) building in Washington. The FAA proposed a record $1.9 million fine Tuesday against an aerial photography company for flying drones in crowded New York and Chicago airspace without permission. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday proposed a record $1.9 million fine against an aerial photography company for flying drones in crowded New York and Chicago airspace without permission.
SkyPan International Inc. of Chicago operated 65 unauthorized flights between March 2012 and December 2014 in some of the nation's most congested airspace, the FAA said in a statement.
Forty-three flights were in the heavily restricted Class B New York airspace without air traffic control clearance, the agency said. Class B airspace is generally from the ground up to 10,000 feet(3,000 meters) in altitude and in an approximate 40 mile radius around an airport.
The drones also lacked the two-way radio, transponder and altitude-reporting equipment required of manned aircraft.
Flying drones in violation of federal regulations "is illegal and can be dangerous," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We have the safest airspace in the world, and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations."
Karl Brewick, a SkyPan production coordinator, said the company had not had a chance to review the fine proposal and had no immediate comment. SkyPan has 30 days to respond to the FAA.
The previous largest fine for drone operations was $18,700, proposed in September against Xizmo Media, a New York video production company, the FAA said.
Tuesday's announcement comes one day before an FAA official is expected to face tough questioning at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on what the agency is doing to address safety hazards created by drones flying too close to manned aircraft.
FAA officials have said they are receiving multiple reports daily of drones flying in the vicinity of airports and manned aircraft. Most of the flights appear to be unauthorized.
Hobbyists and commercial operators who have received permission to fly drones are supposed to stay 5 miles (8 kilometers) away from an airport and fly no higher than 400 feet (120 meters). Between November 2014 and August 2015, the FAA received over 700 reports by pilots of drone sightings.
Also, the U.S. Forest Service has reported 18 unauthorized drone flights above or near wildfires, and that 10 of the incidents hampered aerial fire-fighting operations.
Explore further:Lawsuits challenge US drone, model aircraft rules (Update)
(C) 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
US proposes nearly $2 million fine against drone operatorOctober 6, 2015 by By Joan LowyIn this photo taken June 19, 2015, the Transportation Department's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) building in Washington. The FAA proposed a record $1.9 million fine Tuesday against an aerial photography company for flying drones in crowded New York and Chicago airspace without permission. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday proposed a record $1.9 million fine against an aerial photography company for flying drones in crowded New York and Chicago airspace without permission.
SkyPan International Inc. of Chicago operated 65 unauthorized flights between March 2012 and December 2014 in some of the nation's most congested airspace, the FAA said in a statement.
Forty-three flights were in the heavily restricted Class B New York airspace without air traffic control clearance, the agency said. Class B airspace is generally from the ground up to 10,000 feet(3,000 meters) in altitude and in an approximate 40 mile radius around an airport.
The drones also lacked the two-way radio, transponder and altitude-reporting equipment required of manned aircraft.
Flying drones in violation of federal regulations "is illegal and can be dangerous," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We have the safest airspace in the world, and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations."
Karl Brewick, a SkyPan production coordinator, said the company had not had a chance to review the fine proposal and had no immediate comment. SkyPan has 30 days to respond to the FAA.
The previous largest fine for drone operations was $18,700, proposed in September against Xizmo Media, a New York video production company, the FAA said.
Tuesday's announcement comes one day before an FAA official is expected to face tough questioning at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on what the agency is doing to address safety hazards created by drones flying too close to manned aircraft.
FAA officials have said they are receiving multiple reports daily of drones flying in the vicinity of airports and manned aircraft. Most of the flights appear to be unauthorized.
Hobbyists and commercial operators who have received permission to fly drones are supposed to stay 5 miles (8 kilometers) away from an airport and fly no higher than 400 feet (120 meters). Between November 2014 and August 2015, the FAA received over 700 reports by pilots of drone sightings.
Also, the U.S. Forest Service has reported 18 unauthorized drone flights above or near wildfires, and that 10 of the incidents hampered aerial fire-fighting operations.
Explore further:Lawsuits challenge US drone, model aircraft rules (Update)
(C) 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Al-Qaeda Video Uses Slain Bengali Fighter to Promote Jihad, Martyrdom
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:50
NOTE: The following materials are for information purposes only and may not be copied, reproduced, or transmitted without the explicit permission of SITE Intelligence Group and specific attribution to SITE Intelligence Group.
DetailsMultimediaCreated: 05 October 2015
Al-Qaeda's media arm, as-Sahab, released a video using the story of a slain Bengali fighter to promote jihad and martyrdom.
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Physicians (or is it Doctors) without Borders
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:49
So after I posted yesterday, Doctors without Borders issued a statement. The statement is lacking on various fronts:1) it was late.2) it called for an investigation when the reality warrants none: we know that it was US forces which attacked and US admitted so.3) it basically diluted the statement by insisting on talking about "coalition" forces and Afghan forces when the war crime was committed by US forces.4) it said that this was "unacceptable". Why do I find this language unlike statements that MSF made about Syria?
Toward Saner, More Effective Prison Sentences - NYTimes.com
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:18
The sentencing reform bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday falls far short of what is needed, but it is a crucial first step on the long path toward unwinding the federal government's decades-long reliance on prisons as the answer to every ill.
For starters, it is worth noting the bipartisan nature of this legislation. In a Senate that can't agree on the time of day, top Republican and Democratic senators '-- most notably Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as well as a longtime supporter of harsh sentencing laws '-- negotiated for months to produce a concrete set of fixes.
Among the most significant are those that would reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for many drug crimes. These sentences are jaw-droppingly long '-- from five years for a first offense up to life without parole for a third. The new bill would cut the life sentence to a 25-year minimum, and would cut the 20-year sentence for a second offense to 15 years.
These may seem like minor tweaks to pointlessly long sentences, and for the most part they are. But when half of all federal inmates are in for drug crimes, even small changes can make a real difference.
Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, with Democratic senators including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, second from right, during a press conference about sentencing reform on Thursday.
Win Mcnamee / Getty Images
In addition, the bill would give federal judges more power to impose sentences below the mandatory minimum in certain cases, rather than being forced to apply a strict formula. This would shift some power away from prosecutors, who coax plea deals in more than 97 percent of cases, often by threatening defendants with outrageously long punishments.
Other provisions would give more inmates the chance to earn early release by participating in educational and other rehabilitative programming; seal or expunge juvenile records, so people are not burdened for life because of crimes they committed when they were young; and make it easier for older inmates to seek early release '-- a smart idea because they are by far the costliest to keep imprisoned and the least likely to commit new crimes.
Finally, and critically, many parts of the bill are retroactive, which means thousands of current federal inmates could benefit immediately. In particular, 6,500 prisoners are still serving time under an old law that punished crack-cocaine offenses far more severely than powder-cocaine offenses. When the law was altered to reduce the disparity in 2010, the change applied only to new cases, leaving thousands of inmates serving unjustly long sentences for no good reason.
There is still a long way to go. Four decades of extreme sentencing policies have deadened the public's sensitivity to what five years behind bars means, let alone 25 or more. Many people assumed that those serving long sentences must, by definition, be the worst offenders. But that has not been true; moreover, excessive sentences do little to deter crime. Studiessuggest that certainty in punishment is more important to effective deterrence than the punishment's severity.
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So much of American sentencing policy has been driven by irrational, fact-free scare-mongering. This new bill would, at the very least, provide volumes of data that could show '-- as otherlegislative efforts have already shown '-- that it's possible to reduce both prison populations and crime at the same time.
Obama Goes Beyond Mere Gun Control, Hints at Confiscation - Breitbart
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:16
In the mid-1990s Australia and Great Britain both instituted what were virtually complete bans on firearm possession.
Obama referenced the bans thus:
We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours '-- Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.
And Obama is not the only one who suggested taking a gun-free approach to American life. The anti-Second Amendment message was also pushed by Slate, Vox, and Dan Savage.
For example, on October 1 Slate ran a story reminding readers that Australia enacted their gun ban in response to an attack on April 28, 1996, wherein a gunman ''opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania.'' Thirty-five were killed and 23 others wounded in the attack. Twelve days later Australia's government banned guns, period.
On October 2 Vox explained that Australia ''confiscated 650,000 guns'' via a ''mandatory gun buyback'' program which forced gun owners to hand their firearms over for destruction. Vox claims the result was that ''murders and suicides plummeted' and suggested such a path might be an option for America following ''the murder of at least 10 people at Umpqua Community College.''
Vox did not mention that ''firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide'' began plummeting in America in the mid-1990s as well. But in America, the decrease in violent crime did not correlate with a gun ban but with a rapid expansion in the number of guns privately owned. The Congressional Research Service reported that the number of privately owned firearms in America went from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million privately owned firearms in 2009. Subsequently, the ''firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide'' rate fell from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 and finally to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.
But none of this made any difference to Dan Savage, who responded to the attack on Umpqua Community College by calling for the Second Amendment's repeal. Savage tweeted, ''F**k the NRA, f**k the gun nuts, f**k the Second Amendment '-- better yet, repeal the Second Amendment.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.
Customers Claim Burger King's Halloween Whopper Causing Green Poop CBS Miami
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:54
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) '-- Have you taken on a walk on the dark side yet with Burger King's A1 Halloween Whopper?
If you have, you may have noticed that while the seasonal black-bunned burger goes in one color, it may come out another.
According to some folks who have downed the black-colored bun, there is an unexpected side effect, they're passing green poop after eating their meal.
Social media is lighting up with folks using the hashtag #greenpoop.
The Miami-based chain unveiled the Halloween Whopper last month and said the bun's black color comes from the A1 steak sauce.
A Burger King representative said the bun contains less than 1-percent food dye, and the dyes ''are commonly used in the industry and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.'' The company did not state whether the bun contains Green #3, a food dye known to cause green-colored stool.
CBSMiami.com has requested a statement from Burger King and we are waiting an official company response.
In the meantime, #GreenPoop is trending and the company is certainly getting a lot of publicity.
Okay, so you get the idea. The tweets go on and on.
One note of caution: Be careful when scrolling through the #GreenPoop hashtag as some people are posting visual evidence.
Top 10 Colors: Spring 2016 Pantone Fashion Color Report - from Pantone.com
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:52
Influenced by the world of art, new global doors opening and the desire to disconnect from technology and unwind, designers this season have gravitated toward a palette that is first and foremost calming. Paying homage to the beauty of natural resources, colors emerging in the Spring collections serve as vehicles that transport wearers to more tranquil, mindful environs which encourage relaxation first, followed by curiosity and exploration.
Designers were also inspired by the contrast of urban design and lush vegetation, leading to unexpected color combinations and collections reminiscent of architecture, travel and nostalgia. By creating looks that truly represent the world we live in, both constructed and organic, designers sought to awaken a sense of reflection, followed by playful escapism. Artists, many of whom are known for bold color usage and strong shapes and lines, played an influential role in this season's styles '' from Matisse, Picasso and Frank Stella to Esther Stewart and Sam Falls. With Cuba and other destinations south of the border top of mind, designers are playing with courageous color statements that aren't afraid to be vibrant but at the same time are combined with quieting, classic and more natural tones.
"Colors this season transport us to a happier, sunnier place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "With our culture still surrounded by so much uncertainty, we are continuing to yearn for those softer shades that offer a sense of calm and relaxation."
A Unisex PaletteColors this season transcend cultural and gender norms. Vivid brights give way to excitement and optimism, though quiet stability prevails in this season's palette. For Spring 2016 there are truly no perceivable distinctions in color choices between the men's and women's collections, both of which focus on a desire to breathe and reflect, then play.
The soothing, calming nature of colors in the Spring collections are led by Rose Quartz, a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Like a serene sunset, flushed cheek or budding flower, Rose Quartz reminds us to reflect on our surroundings during the busy but lighthearted spring and summer months.
The fashion and design communities, and consequently, consumers, have been in love with orange for several seasons. Coming to the fore this Spring is, Peach Echo, a shade that emanates friendlier qualities, evoking warmth and accessibility. It is an all-encompassing, tempered companion in the playful orange family.
Weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, Serenity comforts with a calming effect, bringing a feeling of respite even in turbulent times. A transcendent blue, Serenity provides us with a naturally connected sense of space.
A maritime-inspired blue, Snorkel Blue plays in the navy family, but with a happier, more energetic context. The name alone implies a relaxing vacation and encourages escape. It is striking yet still, with lots of activity bursting from its undertones.
While the majority of the Spring/Summer palette trends toward calmness, a few diversions from the theme emerge that offer a contrast. With Buttercup designers reveal a shining beacon transporting its wearer to a happier, sunnier place.
A shade of aqua that leans toward the green family, Limpet Shell is clear, clean and defined. Suggestive of clarity and freshness, its crisp and modern influences evoke a deliberate, mindful tranquility.
As in most any season, the need for neutrals arises. Essentially a basic, the subtlety of the lilac undertone in, Lilac Gray, adds a distinctive edge to this classic gray shade.
The high energy Fiesta is a harbinger of excitement, encouraging free-spirited exploration to unknown but welcoming locales. A strong and fiery, yellow-based red, the vivid Fiesta provides a stark contrast to the calming, softer nature of this season's palette.
A transitional color that will take us through the seasons, Iced Coffee manifests as another strong neutral for the season. With its natural earthy quality, the softness and subtlety of Iced Coffee creates a stable foundation when combined with the rest of this season's palette.
Green Flash calls on its wearer to explore, push the envelope and escape the mundane, radiating an openness that combines with the rest of the palette in unexpected but serendipitous ways. The popularity of this brilliant hue is representative of nature's persistent influence even in urban environments, a trend continuing to inspire designers.
The top ten colors for men's and women's fashion for Spring 2016 are:PANTONE 13-1520 Rose QuartzPANTONE 16-1548 Peach EchoPANTONE 15-3919 SerenityPANTONE 19-4049 Snorkel BluePANTONE 12-0752 ButtercupPANTONE 13-4810 Limpet ShellPANTONE 16-3905 Lilac GrayPANTONE 17-1564 FiestaPANTONE 15-1040 Iced CoffeePANTONE 15-0146 Green Flash
A Smart Bomb in Every Garage? Driverless Cars and the Future of Terrorist Attacks | START.umd.edu
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:50
September 28, 2015Jeffrey W. Lewis
The following is part of a series of thought pieces authored by members of the START Consortium. These editorial columns reflect the opinions of the author(s), and not necessarily the opinions of the START Consortium. This series is penned by scholars who have grappled with complicated and often politicized topics, and our hope is that they will foster thoughtful reflection and discussion by professionals and students alike.
Over the four years of the Syrian insurgency, rebel groups have demonstrated extraordinary ingenuity in turning regularly available consumer electronics into crude but effective weaponry. One of the most striking examples was the ''Sham II,'' an improvised armored vehicle constructed of armor plate welded to an automobile chassis. The most ingenious bit of technological improvisation in this vehicle was the primary weapon, a 7.62 millimeter machine gun that was remotely operated via a PlayStation controller from the relative security of the vehicle's interior.[i]
But what if the rebel group could have used an armored, driverless vehicle as the platform for the Sham II? Such a weapon would not only provide greater safety for the militants, but could be blown up remotely should the need arise, effectively making it a cruise missile on wheels.
This is much more than a theoretical counterfactual. One of the most concerning terrorist groups of today, the militant group Daesh, also known as ''The Islamic State'' or ''ISIS,'' makes extensive and effective use of car bombs driven by suicidal members. What if they could reliably deliver their bombs without sacrificing their combatants? More disturbing, what if heretofore less lethal groups already operating in Europe and the United States could gain the advantages of a vehicular suicide bomber without the challenges of recruiting, radicalizing, and training the bomber? These are questions we must consider as the promising new technology of driverless vehicles becomes established over the next few years.
A New Era in Driving
''After a lifetime of driving, repairing and studying automobiles, I have come to an unavoidable conclusion '' we are the weakest link in a car. As car components go, human beings are deeply substandard '' we have imperfect perception, we are ruled by emotion, and we vary wildly in quality.''
Peter Cheney, The Globe and Mail[ii]
In May 2015, Google announced that prototypes of its newest generation of autonomous cars would be hitting the streets in California over the summer, all part of the company's ambitious plan to put America firmly on the road to driverless vehicles by 2020. Google, along with several major automobile manufacturers, has invested heavily in autonomous vehicle technology over the last several years, and driverless cars have now travelled thousands of miles with an admirable safety record. There are few significant technological hurdles to be overcome, so the main question is how quickly the transition from human to computer drivers will occur.
The potential benefits of such a shift are many. Automobile accidents currently kill more than 30,000 Americans every year, with the majority of those accidents being caused by operator error. Automated vehicles should reduce this number tremendously. Furthermore, there are a great many Americans'--millions of elderly people or people with physical disabilities'--who are currently unable to operate a car safely and would benefit immensely from access to driverless vehicles. In addition, the potential to network and coordinate autonomous cars will significantly reduce congestion on the nation's highways, saving time and reducing pollution and fuel consumption.
Rather than technological, the existing hurdles to introducing this potentially revolutionary technology are for the most part social and legal. For example, if an autonomous vehicle were to cause an accident, who would be responsible? The passengers, even if they had no influence? The vehicle manufacturer? The software developer?
These concerns focus on an important issue'--what happens when something goes wrong. Accidents will always happen and new technologies will inevitably fail in surprising ways. So while this is a necessary and valuable discussion, to this point there has been little public discussion devoted to a related issue'--the deliberate misuse of the technology. Driverless vehicles could easily be perverted into a ghastly weapon'--a guided missile making full use of sophisticated electronics to direct it interactively to its target in real time. The first precision guided munition used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War was, after all, a cruise missile guided by the same GPS technology that guides driverless cars.[iii]
Concerns regarding the potential misuse of technologies such as GPS are nothing new. More than a decade ago, experts on the ''precision revolution'' in American munitions noted that the commercial availability of such systems could provide ''economical precision weaponry'--previously available to only the most sophisticated armed forces'--to nearly everyone.''[iv] The U.S. government is already worried about hobbyist drones being used as terrorist weapons and in January 2015, convened a meeting between members of the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA to address these concerns. Driverless cars have the potential to be a much greater threat than commercially available drones ever will be.[v] Potentially more damaging, however, would be the over-reaction and backlash that such an attack might produce.
It is therefore necessary that we begin a public discussion regarding potential misuse before the technology has matured. If thinking with regard to security'--preventing intentional misuse of the technology'--consistently accompanies thinking with regard to safety'--preventing accidental misuse'--it is plausible that engineers will be able to build in safeguards to reduce both the risk of deliberate misuse and to aid in forensic investigation and attribution of blame.
From Bombs to Car Bombs
''The car bomb provided an efficient container and an efficient delivery system. It yielded far greater administrative, industrial, and economic damage for a given operation. And it required fewer volunteers to place it on target.''
-Sean MacStiofain, Revolutionary in Ireland[vi]
In May 2015, the extremist group Daesh group captured the city of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's Anbar province, after nearly 17 months of conflict. The most important weapon in Daesh's arsenal during this successful offensive has been the car bomb. During the first three weeks of May alone Daesh deployed no fewer than 57 car bombs (vehicular born improvised explosive devices'--VBIEDs), most of which were piloted by suicide bombers.[vii] These bombs killed and injured hundreds. The majority of Daesh's vehicular bombs were armored Humvees that were originally given to the Iraqi military by the United States and were later captured by Daesh. Humvees are the delivery vehicle of choice since they are armored, making it difficult to stop them by killing the driver, carry a large payload, and have off-road capability. The combination of American armored vehicles and jihadi suicide bombers has become so effective that JIEDDO (Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization), the unit created by the Pentagon in 2006 to combat IEDs, is now hurrying to develop appropriate counter-measures.[viii]
The VBIED is the product of many years of technological innovation by militant groups. Stationary bombs have been a mainstay of guerilla and terrorist groups for decades, and no less a figure than Che Guervara detailed the virtues of roadside bombs in his treatise ''On Guerilla Warfare.''[ix] Sean MacStiofain, one of the leaders of the provisional IRA, oversaw the addition of car bombs to the IRA's arsenal in the mid-1970s because of the numerous advantages that they provided. Car bombs soon came to be used by militant factions in Lebanon's civil war for the same reasons.
Interactive Guidance
''The simplest method of obtaining target discrimination is through its recognition by intelligence.''[x]
-National Defense Research Council, 1946
There was, however, a major limitation to the car bomb. For decades it remained essentially a stationary mobile bomb. That is, the militants still needed to stop the vehicle and get away, complicating planning, and limiting their ability to place the bomb on target in real time. Militants solved this problem of real time interactive guidance on December 15, 1981.
On that day, a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the compound of Iraq's Embassy in Beirut. The driver detonated the explosives, causing a massive blast that leveled the building, killed 61 people, and injured more than 100. Among the dead was Iraq's ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Razzak Lafta.[xi] This was the first known suicide bombing in the Middle East. Within the next two years there were five more high-profile suicide bombings in Lebanon that killed hundreds, including the massive car bombs that leveled the American Embassy in Beirut and the U.S. Marine Barracks at Beirut International Airport, both in 1983. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s suicide bombing spread throughout the world and was used by militant groups in many different ways. As suicide bombing became a regular form of attack VBIEDs remained the most lethal variant by far.
It is still relatively common to view suicide bombing through the lens of individual pathology'--to see each suicide attack as the act of a deranged individual with no regard for human life. It is, however, far more appropriate to view suicide bombing as a form of technology'--a type of guidance system that allows human intelligence to affect delivery and detonation of a bomb directly in real time. As I have explained in my book The Business of Martyrdom: A History of Suicide Bombing, such a conceptualization allows us to see the bomber for what he or she really is'--a flesh and blood substitute for the costly, sophisticated electronic guidance systems developed by advanced states.[xii] VBIEDs and their kin truly are smart bombs, the smartest yet developed, which is why between 2001 and 2013 suicide bombings killed on average 4.5 times more people than any other form of terrorist attack.[xiii]
Terrorist groups may well promote their suicide bombers as heroes or martyrs, but in reality the bombers are disposable control elements whose destruction is a necessary and anticipated part of the attack. Training young people so that they are willing and able to accept their role and take their own lives at a time and place that the group determines is one of the greatest challenges that militant groups must manage to maintain a campaign of suicide bombing over time. Making the GPS technology technology that nation-states use for their precision guided munitions'-- readily accessible to militants by integrating it into vehicular control systems runs the risk of making vehicular smart bombs more accessible.
''Our Answer''
''To me, the robot is our answer to the suicide bomber.''
Bart Everett, US Navy Researcher[xiv]
Much of the funding for research into autonomous vehicles came from the American government, driven by a desire to reduce military casualties by removing as many people as possible from the battlefield. The benefits provided by unmanned vehicles such as drones are so significant that their use has increased exponentially over the last decade to the point that they now provide surveillance, targeting, and weapon delivery around the world.
In contrast to suicide bombing's low-tech approach, drones and other autonomous vehicles represent another path toward intelligent guidance. This is a high-tech, hardware and software intensive path that has drawn upon many different academic fields to produce electronic substitutes for human powers of cognition.
This transition to autonomous vehicles in both civilian and military life promises tremendous benefits but will at the same time impose costs. One of those costs is the simple availability of the technology. In his analysis of the impact on robots and warfare, author Peter Singer cautioned about what he calls ''Open Source Warfare,'' by which he meant the ability of states simply to buy off-the-shelf hardware and software and to reconfigure them, effectively eliminating the decades of costly research that countries like the United States have invested in these technologies'--and of course undermining the advantages these technologies were intended to confer on their developers.[xv]
The idea of ''Open Source Warfare'' waged by states is consistent with the appropriation of technology by non-state actors and it is easy to imagine both being very interested in autonomous vehicles. If such technology was originally meant to be our answer to dealing with the challenges posed by suicide bombers, there is no reason to think that other groups and states might end up viewing it as their answer to the problem of developing a weapon as effective as the suicide bomber.
''What if cars could become our trusted partners?''
-Daniela Rus, MIT Researcher[xvi]
It is almost certain that as autonomous vehicles become more reliable and available someone, somewhere, will try to use them as a weapon. Even under the best of circumstances autonomous vehicle technology promises to be very disruptive and many people will have reason to be anxious about the social impact of the shift to driverless vehicles. A destructive attack utilizing such vehicles might be the catalyst that could transform such concern into genuine fear and resistance.
It is therefore necessary that consumers have reason to feel confident that the developers of these vehicles have taken into account the need for both safety, in the form of accidents, and security, in the form of deliberate misuse.
While there is no shortcut for dealing with the social impact of such a revolutionary change in driving, there is every reason to expect that an ongoing, systematic effort to manage issues of both safety and security can produce a set of measures that will deter uncommitted potential attackers, prevent more determined individuals and groups from carrying out attacks successfully, and guarantee the rapid apprehension of any that do successfully mount an attack using the technology.
[iii] Richard D. Easton and Eric F. Frazier, GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones (Lincoln, NB: Potomac Books, 2013), 110.
[iv] Michael Russell Rip and James M. Hasik, The Precision Revolution: GPS and the Future of Aerial Warfare (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002), 335.
[vi] Sean MacStiofain, Revolutionary in Ireland. (Edinburgh: Gordon Cremonisi, 1975) 243.
[ix] Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare Chapter 1 ''General principles of Guerilla Warfare.''
[x]Guided Missiles and Techniques, Summary Technical Report of Division 5, National Defense Research Committee, Volume 1 (Washington DC 1946) 198.
[xi] ''Bomb razes Iraqi Embassy; 25 die'' Chicago Tribune Dec. 16, 1981, A3; the final tally of 61 deaths was reported the following month. ''Rescue Efforts End in Beirut'' New York Times January 12, 1982, A3.
[xii] Jeffrey W. Lewis, The Business of Martyrdom: A History of Suicide Bombing (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2012).
[xiv] Quoted in Peter W. Singer, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), 62.
[xvi] Michael Leiedke, ''Toyota Joins with Stanford, MIT in Driverless Research,'' Columbus Dispatch 5 September 2015
Jeffrey Lewis, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the International Studies Program for The Ohio State University, where he has taught for more than 10 years. Lewis's research focuses on the history of science and technology, particularly their importance for national policy and security concerns.His well-received book "The Business of Martyrdom," which he began as a START postdoctoral student, has been billed as the only comprehensive history available of suicide bombing from its origins in Imperial Russia to the current day. "The Business of Martyrdom" examines the bombers, their societies, and the organizations that train and sponsor them.
Presidential Proclamation -- German-American Day, 2015
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:46
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 05, 2015
- - - - - - -
Throughout our history, German Americans have woven distinct threads into the fabric of our country. In extraordinary ways -- by crossing the Atlantic, planting roots in communities across our country, and spurring shared advances -- German Americans have proven our Nation's diversity makes our society ever stronger. On German-American Day, we celebrate the immeasurable ways their talents and ideas have helped shape the progress of our time.
Since their earliest days on America's shores, the German people have striven to realize the fundamental promise that everyone deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will. Building up our society as architects and artists, inventors and engineers, they continue to push boundaries and bolster dreams in their communities and across our country. From their service in our Armed Forces to our classrooms, we see the strength and passion of German heritage integrated into the identity of our American family.
The stories of German-American men and women also remind us of the important partnership between our two nations. In the 70 years since the end of World War II and the quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Americans and Germans have inspired each other and worked to address key challenges that affect the world we share. From combatting violent extremism and climate change to expanding economic and educational opportunity for women and girls, our common principles bind us together as inseparable allies. As we commemorate the strong friendship between our peoples, may we never forget our unique histories, and may we continue working together to reach for a more peaceful and prosperous future.
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 6, 2015, as German-American Day. I encourage all Americans to learn more about the history of German Americans and reflect on the many contributions they have made to our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
Op-Ed: Selling suicide with George Soros' money | Washington Examiner
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:36
As Connecticut lawmakers begin public hearings on assisted suicide this month, national advocacy groups like Compassion & Choices will mobilize to help create the illusion that the proposed bill is a grassroots initiative.
It isn't.
Contrary to the claims of those legislators who are promoting the bill, there is no grassroots cry for assisted suicide. Rather, there is an effort by well-funded advocacy groups to make Connecticut the leader in assisted suicide in the Northeast.
If the General Assembly votes to legalize the practice, it will be the first state legislature to do so. Lawmakers have already promised to push it forward. They know there is a payoff for promoting this bill, much of it coming from George Soros through Compassion & Choices.
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Soros has been one of the biggest donors to Compassion & Choices. In 2010, Compassion & Choices was listed as one of the "top 75 Grantees" of the Soros American Foundations.
Receiving $1 million from the Soros Foundation in 2010, Compassion & Choices has been able to convince Connecticut lawmakers that it would be in their best interest to promote "death with dignity" in the state.
Selling suicide to lawmakers involves convincing them that it is in their best interest. Changing the name of their suicide group was the first step. In a filing in Colorado on Oct. 29, 2004, the Hemlock Foundation for End of Life Choices changed its name to Compassion & Choices.
Life memberships were grandfathered -- perhaps no one noticed the irony -- and quickly forgotten was all of the negative publicity that accompanied Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society. Humphry's wife and his ex-wife ended their lives through suicide.
Connecticut's residents are already seeing the marketing campaign. The advocates have advanced their cause with compelling stories of suffering patients whose last hours were eased by a courageous family member who assisted with the suicide.
Also from the Washington Examiner
Graham is scheduled to begin a 10-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state.
'10/06/15 12:16 PM
But the New York Times reported that in Washington and Oregon, suicide-prescribing doctors who submitted forms to the state admitted that all of those who chose the suicide option chose it because of fears of a lack of autonomy -- not protracted pain.
While most of those promoting assisted suicide in Connecticut promise that their bill will finally end the kinds of painful deaths that so many people fear, the reality is that Connecticut has some of the best hospice care and pain management in the country.
That may change now that Soros has also gotten involved in the funding for palliative care. In 2010, Soros gave $2.7 million to the Partnership for Palliative Care.
At a conference in Chicago called "Heights of Compassion: Bridges to Choice," advocates from palliative care and the assisted suicide communities held joint meetings in an attempt to find "common ground" enabled by more than $3.7 million of Soros' money.
Soros will continue this commitment. In 1994, he donated $15 million to the Project on Death in America. In an introduction to the 2003 Report of Activities of the Project on Death in America, published by the Open Society, Soros wrote a personal essay titled "Reflections on Death in America," in which he disclosed that he admired his mother's having "joined the Hemlock Society."
Also from the Washington Examiner
The energy secretary said Russia's intervention in Syria could raise energy prices and interrupt supplies.
'10/06/15 12:13 PM
Soros claimed that his mother "had at her hand the means of doing away with herself." He recalls asking her "if she needed my help."
Attempts to pass assisted suicide bills will continue. But suicide is still a hard sell. Massachusetts' voters just defeated a similar bill. Maine has also. But, in Connecticut, the legislature is attempting to bypass the voters.
If it does this, it will empower those promoting suicide in Vermont, New Jersey, Kansas and Hawaii. Massachusetts will try again. For Soros, it will be money well spent.
Anne Hendershott is a distinguished visiting professor of public affairs at King's College in New York City and the author of "The Politics of Deviance" (Encounter Books). She is a Connecticut resident.
Top Story
Energy secretary said Russia's intervention in Syria could raise energy prices, interrupt supplies.
'10/06/15 12:13 PM
Gov. Brown Signs Hard-Won Right-to-Die Legislation --- lobbied by health insurance foundation related non-profit Compassion and Choices
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:33
After Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows terminally ill patients to legally end their life, the mother of Brittany Maynard -- who became a symbol of the movement -- said the new law brings some meaning to her daughter's death. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports. (Published Monday, Oct. 5, 2015)
California will become the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives using doctor-prescribed drugs after Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday he signed one of the most emotionally charged bills of the year.
Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, announced he signed the legislation after thoroughly considering all opinions and discussing the issue with many people, including a Catholic bishop and two of Brown's doctors.
"In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death," the governor wrote in a signing statement that accompanied his signature on the legislation. "I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.
He added he wouldn't deny that right to others.
Until now, Brown had declined to comment on the issue.
State lawmakers approved the bill Sept. 11. A previous version failed this year despite the highly publicized case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to end her life. Her mother, Deborah Ziegler, lives in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, and retold NBC7 she wanted to hug Brown for signing the bill.
"I believe that this brings some meaning to my daughter's death, and it doesn't take away the pain, but it's hard to describe," she said. "It's bittersweet, it's bittersweet."
Since her daughter's death, Ziegler has said her daughter's death is emotional and deeply personal. She has made passionate pleas to lawmakers since the passing, asking for them to pass the legislation.
"Whether or not someone becomes terminally ill in your family or not, the passage of this act could be good for your family, regardless of that because the openess that we're gonna bring to end-of-life cases and those conversations," Ziegler said.
In her Carlsbad home, holding a photo of her daughter, she talked about a conversation she had with her daughter about the bill, shortly before her passing.
"She equated the bill to her legacy a gift and her gift to me in lieu of grandchildren because she knew that I would love to be a grandma and she said 'mom, I'm giving you this instead,' and it would probably run your butt around like grandkids to work on this," Ziegler said.
Opponents said the bill legalizes premature suicide, but supporters called that comparison inappropriate because it applies to mentally sound, terminally ill people and not those who are depressed or impaired.
Religious groups and advocates for people with disabilities opposed the bill and nearly identical legislation that had stalled in the Legislature weeks earlier, saying it goes against the will of God and put terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death.
The measure was brought back as part of a special session intended to address funding shortfalls for Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor. The governor had criticized the move to bypass the usual process.
The bill he received includes requirements that patients be physically capable of taking the medication themselves, that two doctors approve it, that the patients submit several written requests, and that there be two witnesses, one of whom is not a family member.
California's measure came after at least two dozen states introduced aid-in-dying legislation this year, though the measures stalled elsewhere. Doctors in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already can prescribe life-ending drugs.
Maynard's family attended the legislative debate in California throughout the year. Maynard's mother, Debbie Ziegler, testified in committee hearings and carried a large picture of her daughter as she listened to lawmakers' debate.
In a video recorded days before Maynard took life-ending drugs, she told California lawmakers that no one should have to leave home to legally kill themselves under the care of a doctor.
"No one should have to leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering, and to plan for a gentle death," Maynard said in the video released by right-to-die advocates after her death.
The Catholic Church targeted Catholic lawmakers before the bill's passage and urged the governor to veto it.
"Pope Francis invites all of us to create our good society by seeing through the eyes of those who are on the margins, those in need economically, physically, psychologically and socially," the California Catholic Conference said in a statement after its passage. "We ask the governor to veto this bill."
You can read the memo Brown issued when signing the bill by clicking here.
Published at 12:40 PM PDT on Oct 5, 2015
Copyright Associated Press
Lies and Truth '' Obama's UNGA Speech Dissected | New Eastern Outlook
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:31
To those who bothered to listen to President Obama's UN General Assembly speech without falling asleep like Secretary John Kerry clearly wished to do, there was a stark contrast to that speech which followed from the Russian President. First before Barack Obama completed his first sentence we could feel his emotion. It was projecting a contempt and arrogance of a special variety: ''We have the biggest, baddest military; we call the shots, you peons of the nations of the world.''
Going through the official Obama text it's difficult to find even one sentence where he speaks honestly. It's an example not of grey propaganda but black. I cite several of the most egregious instances.
Near the start after the usual pious homage to the 70-year history of the United Nations, Mr. Obama says, ''the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war '-- by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power.''
I am challenged to think of one single strong democracy accountable to their people that US interventions of the past years have supported. On the contrary look at the actual record since the US invasion and destruction of Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003. Then we have seen the US State Department's launching, under Hillary Clinton, of the NGO and social media-steered Arab Spring destabilizations under the false flag of installing democracy. ThenWashington went on to the destruction of Africa's most stable, peaceful state, Qaddafi's Libya. And in 2013 the US-directed Maidan coup d'etat to install a neo-nazi band of hooligans in Kiev to try to destabilize Russia. Every covert and overt US intervention has brought the world a giant step closer to World War III. The latest move in that direction is US insistence on placing the most advanced nuclear bombs on German soil making a major destabilization of the current status quo between NATO and Russia.
Further on in the Obama speech, after nice sounding words about the wonderful principles of the UN Charter, ''collective endeavor,'' and of ''diplomatic cooperation between the world's major powers,'' he inserts a bizarre non-sequitur: ''I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.'' A kind of modern cover version of the 1970's Jim Croce song that might be titled, ''You don't mess around with Barack'...'' So much for the UN Charter. Here is the mailed fist under the velvet glove that all too often these last decades is the substance of US foreign political and military policy.
Then Mr. President goes on to speak of dictators and tyrants. Trying to deflect accusations that the US creates regime change via NGOs, Barack Obama declares, ''It is not a conspiracy of US-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it's technology, social media'...'' The truth is just that of US-backed NGOs as most in the UN audience know from personal experience with US-Congress financed NGOs like National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the Soros Open Society Foundations. It is precisely this Washington regime change by ''US-backed NGOs that expose corruption,'' via the ''weaponization of democracy and human rights,'' which is toppling legitimate regimes that refuse to bow to Washington's agenda, from Brazil to Syria. As the recent Snowdon and other revelations confirm, precisely the US-based social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others are tied to or work closely with the CIA, State Department, NSA, and facilitate the NGO regime change.
Now comes a whopper. The President of the United States states, ''No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world's problems alone. In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.''
With due respect, Mr President, if you learned that hard lesson after wasting ''trillions of dollars,'' not from your Treasury, but from US taxpayers and Chinese and others invested in your US Treasury bonds, to finance that debacle called the Iraq War, why are you in Syria today? What are you doing training the Ukraine military today? Why are you meddling all over the world to stir people up? Why are you building military bases on every piece of dirt around the world where you can dig a hole to plant the American flag? You even admit it was a total fiasco. There is a significant reality disconnect in Washington today.
Finally the US president hits the real point of his current discontent: Russia. ''Consider Russia's annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine. America has few economic interests in Ukraine'...we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today. That's the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia.'' This statement skillfully ignores the reality of the Ukraine events of 2013-2014.
It is a documentable matter of record that it was a Washington-sponsored Color Revolution that launched the November, 2013 Maidan Square protests against the legal, elected government of corrupt-but-legitimate President Viktor Yanukovich. It was ignited by US-backed NGOs of George Soros and others within seconds after a tweet from US-backed now Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, calling for ''EuroMaidan'' protests against the legitimate decision of the Yanukovich cabinet to accept an offer, a very economically attractive one, from Russia to join their emerging Eurasian Economic Union, receive a reduction of Russian gas costs of 30% and an offer to buy $15 billion of Ukraine state debt.
It was neo-conservative Assistant State Secretary, Victoria ''Fuck the EU'' Nuland (who says Washington today has forgotten the fine art of diplomacy?), who, together with Vice President Joe Biden and US Ambassador in Kiev, Jeffrey Pyatt, and droves of CIA agents, who made what George Friedman, US CEO of Stratfor, termed ''the most blatant coup in history,'' in Ukraine in February 2014. Washington has gone on to hand-pick the Ukraine government, even placing an American citizen, a US State department veteran as Finance Minister, and named the son of Vice President Biden to the board of the Ukraine state gas company and other such ''US interests.''
The Syrian Fraud
Finally Barack Obama comes directly to Syria, the issue that Russian diplomacy has recently exposed to world scrutiny. President Obama states, ''Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation's internal affairs '-- it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. ''
First it has never been established that Assad has killed ''tens of thousands'' of Syrian citizens. Secondly, it's a sly way to attempt to justify an insidious idea, ''Responsibility to Protect,'' (RTP) that was used by Washington in Libya in 2011 to destroy that country. RTP is a direct violation of the UN Charter. Washington's ''coalition'' bombing of Syria allegedly to destroy IS is also in violation of the UN Charter, as it is bombing a sovereign nation without being invited officially by their government as required in the Charter Washington drafted in 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks.
Moderate Syrian Opposition?
The Washington game is first to force elected President Assad out, at the same time it claims it wants to destroy ISIL (or IS or ISIS or DAESH depending on your choice of the many names). Russia's position is clear: The only organized force in Syria today capable of destroying terrorist Salafists, all terrorist Salafists, is Bashar al Assad's government and the Syrian National Army and intelligence services that remain loyal to him.
The Obama speech talks of the US support for ''moderate'' opposition rebels. Yet as far back as April 2013, when ISIS was called Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, and run now by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, the US-trained lieutenant of the late Osama bin Laden, the New York Times, quoting numerous US officials, documented that virtually all of the rebel fighters in Syria are hardline Islamic terrorists. There are no ''moderate'' oppositionists fighting today. The so-called ''moderate'' Free Syrian Army has also signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS since 2014.
On September 16, 2015, almost two weeks before the Obama UN speech, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, head of the US ''war against ISIS,'' during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Syria, admitted that the military program intended produce 5,400 trained fighters a year has so far only resulted in ''four or five'' who still remain on the ground and active in combat. The rest have all joined ISIS or Al Nusra Front of Al Qaeda, the US-backed ''moderate opposition'' to ISIL. At the same Senate hearings, Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon Undersecretary responsible for the Syrian war confirmed recent Russian statements, noting that Assad's military ''still has considerable strength,'' adding, ''it's still the most powerful military force on the ground. The assessment right now is the regime is not in imminent danger of falling.''
There is a Russian joke currently making the rounds in Moscow. Russia's Putin arrives back in the Kremlin after his September New York meeting with President Obama on Syria and other topics. A trusted aide asks how the talk with Obama went. Putin tells his aide that, in a bid to lower the temperature and calm the nerves before turning to grave topics like the wars in Syria and Ukraine, the Russian president proposed they first sit down to a game of chess. Putin tells his aide what it's like playing chess with Obama. ''It's like playing with a pigeon. First it knocks over all the pieces, then it shits on the board and finally struts around like it won.''
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
Intermodulation leads to popcorn. Sirius XM and T-Mobile denying responsibility for Sirius XM being knocked off the air near T-Mobile towers.
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:29
Sirius XM is asking federal regulators to look into reception problems reported near T-Mobile US towers in major U.S. cities.
The satellite radio company saysthe disturbance is ''alarmingly severe, extensive and frequent'' andit has done tests that show the issues only happen near T-Mobile US towers. The carrier claims it has done nothing wrong and Sirius's radios are to blame.
Sirius's signal problems were first detected last year when customers in New York City complained their radios went silent during their morning commute.
Sirius XM spokesman Patrick Reilly claims it is the operators responsibility to fix the problem.''FCC rules place responsibility on T-Mobile to remedy interference caused by its transmissions and to cooperate with us to solve the problem,'' he told The Wall Street Journal.
''T-Mobile is operating within the FCC's rules and it's clear from testing there's a problem caused by inadequate filtering in Sirius XM's receivers,'' T-Mobile US senior director of engineering and technology policy, Steve Sharky responded. The operator says Sirius's radios should be built so that they cannot be interfered with by signal irregularities.
Both companies agree the issue is a physical quirk called intermodulation, which happens when two radio frequencies combine to create a third. The new wave in this case is what is causing the disturbance. They just can't come together on who's responsibly it is to remedy the issue.
Sirius says T-Mobile's increased use of AWS-1 airwaves is the root of the problem so it wants the carrier to share in the costs to find a fix. A senior FCC official says the agency needs to understand the problem more clearly before taking action.
Analysts say potential FCC solutions could range anywhere from improving base stations to changing car antennas. The commission could also ask for more network investment from Sirius XM, according to analysts at Barclays.
T-Mobile US has approximately 46 million wireless customers while Sirius XM boasts 28 million subscribers.
Joey JacksonEditor, Production Manager[email protected] Joey Jackson is an editor and production manager at RCRWireless.com and RCRtv based in Austin, Texas. Before coming to RCR, Joey was a multimedia journalist for multiple TV news affiliates around the country. He is in charge of custom video production as well as the production of the "Digs," "Gigs," "How it works" and "Tower Stories" segments for RCRtv. He also writes daily about the latest developments in telecom and ICT news. An Oregon native, Joey graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and communications. He enjoys telling the stories of the people and companies that are shaping the landscape of the mobile world. Follow him on Twitter at @duck_jackson.
Presidential Memorandum -- Presidential Determination with Respect to Foreign Governments' Efforts Regarding Trafficking in Persons
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:20
October 5, 2015
SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Sections 110(c) and (d)(4) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
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 110(d)(4) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (the "Act") (22 U.S.C. 7107(d)(4)) to waive the application of the prohibition in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act to Yemen during Fiscal Year 2016, as applicable, and to make the determinations necessary for such waiver. I hereby also delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 110(c) of the Act 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.
Twin brothers sentenced for hacking State Department -- FCW
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:19
Twin brothers sentenced for hacking State DepartmentBy Sean LyngaasOct 05, 2015A district judge on Oct. 2 sentenced twin brothers Muneeb and Sohaib Akhter to prison for, among other things, conspiring to hack into State Department computer systems to obtain passport and visa information.
Sohaib used his position as a State Department contractor to access computer systems with the personal information of "dozens of coworkers, acquaintances, a former employer and a federal law enforcement agent investigating his crimes," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Muneeb and others helped Sohaib try to install a surveillance device inside a State Department building, authorities said.
The brothers, who are 23 and hail from Springfield, Va., were indicted by a federal grand jury on April 30 and pleaded guilty on June 26, authorities said.
The Akhter brothers may have been targeting State's Consular Consolidated Database, a system of about a dozen databases that handles visa and passport requests. The CCD has had its fair share of IT difficulties recently, whether a hardware jam that ground it to a near halt or a software glitch that took the system offline for three days and disrupted travel for thousands of people around the world.
The Akhters' case highlights challenges to the federal background check process and the easy access contractors have to government systems. Around November 2013, when Muneeb was doing contract work for a data firm in Rockville, Md., authorities said he hacked into the firm's database of federal contract information so that he and his brother could try to win bids. Despite having allegedly committed that crime, Muneeb was able to pass a government background investigation to earn a position at a defense contractor almost a year later.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas
Facing a strong backlash, person-rating app Peeple seemingly vanishes | Ars Technica
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:59
Julia Cordray is the cofounder of Peeple.
Further ReadingThe online presence of the widely lampooned purported app Peeple, which apparently allows people to rate individuals, has been pulled from the Internet. As of Monday, its website has been removed, as have its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Meanwhile, the company's Instagram account has been set to private as of Sunday.Its previous YouTube videos have also been yanked except for one, released on Saturday, entitled ''Peeple Watching Ep11 - Viral & Global in 24 Hours.'' It features the company's cofounder, Julia Cordray, essentially congratulating herself on garnering so much media attention. Cordray did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.
The app that The Washington Post famously dubbed ''Yelp for People'' has not actually materialized'--its purported release date is ''November 2015.'' No one has seen or used the app outside of a few alleged screenshots. The app development studio that Peeple reportedly has contracted with, Y Media Labs, did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.
Various press accounts have only had the vaguest of references to its details, even including a claimed market capitalization. The Post reported that ''As of Monday [September 28], the company's shares put its value at $7.6 million,'' a figure that seems oddly specific for a privately held firm with no way to independently verify it. Earlier last month, the Calgary Heraldreported that the company claimed to have taken in $270,000 in "private capital funding." The company's investors, if they are real, have not been named.
Cordray also declined to respond to an October 2 question posed by Motherboard asking about a $50,000 ''business grant from the Government of Canada'' that was referred to in a YouTube video, which has also since been deleted.
All that seems to be left of the self-proclaimed app is a short blog entry posted on Sunday to LinkedIn, where cofounder Julia Cordray doubled down on the app:
Except, there is one thing I must tell you; this has always been a positivity app.
Peeple will not be a tool to tell other humans how horrible they are. Actually, it's the exact opposite.
Peeple is a POSITIVE ONLY APP. We want to bring positivity and kindness to the world.
And now I'm going to use myself as an example for what can happen when negative comments can be made about you without your approval.
However, according to Snopes, in "Peeple Watching Ep4" (since removed) Cordray spoke this line on August 27 2015: "I think this app does really help to know and find the best in each of us and the good in each of us, but it would be pointless if it was all positive."
In the company's LinkedIn post, Cordray seemed to deny that the app is a hoax. "The answer is: It's real but not in the way it's currently being portrayed. We are in fact creating an app called Peeple and have every intention of releasing it at the end of November," she wrote.
On Monday, TechCrunch reminded the world that a very earnest attempt at such an app was previously tried'--five years ago. It failed.
Exclusive: Biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish - POLITICO
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:58
The vice president is mourning. He's also calculating.
By Edward-Isaac Dovere
10/06/15 05:08 AM EDT
Updated 10/05/15 11:26 PM EDT
AP Photo
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact '-- the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
Story Continued Below
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau's face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.''
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
Before that moment and since, Biden has told the Beau story to others. Sometimes details change '-- the setting, the exact words. The version he gave Dowd delivered the strongest punch to the gut, making the clearest swipe at Clinton by enshrining the idea of a campaign against her in the words of a son so beloved nationally that his advice is now beyond politics. This campaign wouldn't be about her or her email controversy, the story suggests, but connected to righteousness on some higher plane.
Biden has portrayed his decision about a 2016 run as purely emotional, a question of whether he and has family have the strength. That's a big part of it. But it's not all of it.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father's mind. But so are Clinton's poll numbers '-- and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
''Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that's what it is,'' said one person who's recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. ''The head is further down the road than the heart is.''
And that's how it's been for a while.
At the end of August, while friends were still worrying aloud that he was in the worst mental state possible to be making this decision, he invited Elizabeth Warren for an unannounced Saturday lunch at the Naval Observatory. According to sources connected with Warren, he raised Clinton's scheduled appearance at the House Benghazi Committee hearing at the end of October, even hinting that there might be a running-mate opening for the Massachusetts senator.
Biden and Warren were alone that afternoon, and those around them have been particularly secretive about the meeting. Warren's spokesperson didn't return requests for comment.
"His bet is that disaffection with Hillary will allow him to peel away some of her donors and operatives,'' former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who's spoken about the race with the vice president, told The Associated Press last week, trying to sum up the approach.
A month later, NBC News had sources saying Jill Biden, who's been struggling with the decision and had been reported to be torn or even opposed, now wouldn't stand in the way. Several Biden loyalists said they felt as though she'd been used by the people who've been working with the vice president's overall blessing to add fuel to the speculation.
All of this maneuvering aside, people who are close to the process are surprised at how undetailed and improvisational the planning remains more than two months after Biden trial-ballooned this campaign via Dowd '-- a known Clinton antagonist, but who also has a history with Biden dating back to her time as one of the most aggressive reporters chasing the plagiarism scandal that ran him out of the 1988 race. (Dowd didn't respond to a request for comment.)
Despite the data and the numerous conversations, Biden's still not drilling down. Sources close to him agree that he is allowing the passing time to make the decision for him, but they disagree on whether the calendar is driving him to a yes or making it easier to say no.
But parts of the timing have always been clear: Biden was never going to Las Vegas for the first Democratic debate next Tuesday, according to people familiar with the plans. Better to force Clinton to enter the first contest of the primary season with Biden's potential challenge looming. And if he's going to run, the second debate's only a month later '-- and that one's in Iowa.
Certainly, Biden's decision is an emotional one, too. The tears he is shedding are real. He feels an obligation not just to his son '-- the line in his interview with Stephen Colbert that he believes he'd be letting Beau down ''if I didn't just get up'' has become one of the touchstone moments, as people involved describe his deliberations '-- but to other people, who've told him that he's an inspiration in their own grief.
The first hurdle is whether he and his family are up to the race, and they still haven't made a final decision, according to people who know.
Those sources say Biden has thought that, perhaps, a presidential campaign is exactly what the family needs to find new purpose and a sense of renewal. And while they'll all get behind him if he runs, for now his son Hunter remains the main agitator supporting a campaign, according to people who have spoken with Biden and members of his immediate family in recent weeks. Biden's sister and confidante Valerie Biden Owens and his wife, among others, are hoping it's a no, those sources say.
Biden is a devout, Mass-every-Sunday Roman Catholic. That Pope Francis came to Washington in the midst of this decision-making process was a fluke, but still deeply meaningful to Biden.
The two didn't have a full, private meeting, but they spoke. Biden has told people about the way the pope greeted him when he took his family to Joint Base Andrews with President Barack Obama to meet the pontiff's plane.
''I know your troubles,'' Biden says Pope Francis told him. ''I'm so sorry.''
Neither of them brought up 2016.
But he has kept talking about it with Obama. Both remain tight-lipped about those conversations.
They've got lunch again Tuesday afternoon at the White House.
TERROR in the Chernobyl DEAD ZONE: LIFE - of a WILD kind - BURGEONS ' The Register
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:38
The Chernobyl "Dead Zone": a terrible wasteland swept clean of life by a foolish humanity's meddling in things best left alone. Or is it?
Not so much, it turns out. Not only were the consequences of Chernobyl relatively minor for human health* - they've actually been very positive for wildlife in the area around the abandoned nuclear plant.
According to a new scientific study just published:
Several previous studies of the Chernobyl exclusion zone indicated major radiation effects and pronounced reductions in wildlife populations at dose rates well below those thought to cause significant impacts. In contrast, our long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance. Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. Additionally survey data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.
One of the most infamous of the previous doom-mongering studies was conducted by Alexei Yablokov, the one-time chairman of Greenpeace USSR. In 2006, with the aid of Greenpeace International, Dr Yablokov assembled a large amount of material into a publication called "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment". Among other things this volume said:
The radioactive shock when the Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986 combined with chronic low-dose contamination has resulted in morphologic, physiologic, and genetic disorders in every animal species that has been studied '-- mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. These populations exhibit a wide variety of morphological deformities not found in other populations. Despite reports of a "healthy" environment in proximity to Chernobyl for rare species of birds and mammals, the presence of such wildlife is likely the result of immigration ...
The Chernobyl catastrophe has impacted on fauna and will continue to have an impact for many decades to come ...
... levels of incorporated radionuclides in some areas of Europe remain dangerous for mammals ...
The publication goes on to specifically claim that caesium contamination near Chernobyl has adversely affected wolves in the area, which is evidently not the case.
Dr Yablokov's paper was not peer reviewed and has not been taken seriously outside hippie circles (all Greenpeace staff members are required to acknowledge their status as hippies, like it or not). The fact of the Chernobyl wildlife resurgence is now confirmed by the learned journal Current Biology, so the Greenpeace view of events can be consigned to the bin.
''We know that radiation can be harmful in very high doses, but research on Chernobyl has shown that it isn't as harmful as many people think," says Professor Jim Smith of Portsmouth uni, senior boffin on the new Chernobyl study.
''There have been many reports of abundant wildlife at Chernobyl but this is the first large-scale study to prove how resilient [local animals] are.
''It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident."
So there you have it: the horrific consequences of a nuclear "disaster" are that you get a thriving national wildlife park. ®
Bootnotes*The universally accepted death toll from Chernobyl as at 2005 stood at 56: 47 workers at the accident site and nine children killed by thyroid cancer as a result of drinking contaminated milk. These will be the only deaths that can be directly shown to have resulted from Chernobyl, but one can also construct a figure saying that as many as 4,000 deaths may eventually happen as a result of it, and this is the UN assessment.
That sounds like a lot, but when you reflect that on the same basis air pollution - in large part resulting from efforts to cut carbon emissions - is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every single year just in the UK, it becomes clear just how unimportant Chernobyl was for human health - let alone the non-events at Fukushima and Three Mile Island.
Nuclear power: safe for humans, great for the natural environment.
Sponsored:VersaStack at-a-glance brochure
The Entertainment Industry Foundation Announces XQ Institute As Founding... -- LOS ANGELES and OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:11
LOS ANGELES and OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry, today announced that the XQ Institute is the founding collaborator of its national Think It Up education initiative. XQ Institute, dedicated to rethinking school in America and to creating new learning opportunities for young people that open up the possibilities of the wider world, has joined forces with EIF to help bring about a renewed sense of promise for America's public school students.
www.thinkitup.org | facebook.com/thinkitup.org | Twitter: @think_it_up | Instagram: @think_it_up
Think It Up launched in July as a new movement in support of the nation's students, teachers and schools, generating excitement about learning everywhere in America. By creating opportunities to unlock their passions, talents, and strengths, Think It Up will help students, working together with their teachers, forge lasting connections between their learning experiences now and the futures they shape for themselves. Think It Up will begin to roll out this fall by inviting public school students in grades 7-12 to work with their teachers to develop projects that both harness their passions and apply what they are learning to address real-world problems, generate new ideas and make a difference. These innovative student-powered, teacher-led learning projects will be funded on www.thinkitup.org, which will be powered by the popular teacher crowd-funding platform DonorsChoose.org.
"We are profoundly grateful for all of the XQ Institute's support and guidance, and excited to collaborate with them to call on America to become part of a movement for American education," said Entertainment Industry Foundation President and CEO Lisa Paulsen. "The XQ team dreams big about how to improve things for students and teachers, and the entertainment community is ready help make those dreams a reality," she said.
Think It Up will officially kick off on Friday, September 11, 2015, when ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC simultaneously broadcast a star-studded fundraising event in support of the national education initiative live from Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. The program will spotlight powerful stories of teachers and students working together on the types of projects to be supported through Think It Up, and include live musical performances from Justin Bieber, Kacey Musgraves, and Big Sean, and comedic sketches and more. The XQ Institute will make a significant announcement during the telecast.
"Our passion at the XQ Institute is to fuel a movement for students, to inspire great high schools, and even to rethink school itself. America must foster students who are curious, engaged, creative'--armed with the new literacies, knowledge, and skills needed to thrive. To do that, we must use our collective imagination'--across every city and town. XQ is proud to collaborate with EIF and the Hollywood community to cultivate a culture of learning," said Laurene Powell Jobs, President of the Emerson Collective and Chair of the XQ Institute's Board of Directors.
Jessica Biel, Common, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Austin Mahone, Logan Paul, Big Sean, Eric Stonestreet, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder join previously announced telecast participants Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Justin Bieber, Julie Chen, Stephen Colbert, Terry Crews, Jennifer Garner, Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Lautner, Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey, Seth Meyers, Kacey Musgraves, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Ryan Seacrest, J.K. Simmons, and Jessica Williams.
"In the most successful schools, students are agents of their own learning. They seek it out. They take charge. What they see in the media reinforces that drive. We are excited to partner with EIF to help put the needs of young people and their teachers front and center in the nation's consciousness," said Russlynn Ali, CEO of the XQ Institute and a member of the Think It Up Education Initiative and Grants Advisory Committee. "Think It Up is a galvanizing leap into a new era, drawing on all of us to support every student in America," she concluded.
As the founding collaborator, the XQ Institute is supporting Think It Up's substance and design, providing input in areas ranging from student/teacher partnerships and collaboration to developing the higher skills students need to be prepared for the real world.
iHeartMedia recently became a major supporter of Think It Up. In addition to the XQ Institute, Think It Up's other major supporters currently include Ashoka, via its Start Empathy Initiative; The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; ExxonMobil; and Staples.
About the XQ Institute XQ Institute is an organization dedicated to rethinking school in America in order to create new learning opportunities for young people and open up the possibilities of the wider world. The Institute's board of directors is chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, President of the Emerson Collective. The CEO is Russlynn Ali, former Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and Managing Director of Education at the Emerson Collective. For more information, visit www.xqinstitute.org.
About the Entertainment Industry Foundation The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), established in 1942, harnesses the collective power of the entire industry to generate awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), EIF's largest initiative, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry's resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. SU2C accelerates research to get new therapies to patients quickly. Since its founding seven years ago, SU2C has launched 16 collaborative "Dream Teams" comprising over 940 scientists from 123 leading institutions around the world. That research, including 151 planned, initiated or completed clinical trials, has led to Food and Drug Administration approval of two new treatments. In just 15 months, Hunger Is, EIF's collaboration with The Safeway Foundation, has significantly raised awareness of childhood hunger in the United States and over $10 Million to support breakfast, afterschool and out-of-school meal programs.
AboutThink It Up Think It Up is an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, created to bring broad cultural attention to the urgency of improving the learning experience in America. The national education initiative will seek to reframe the public discussion about education, create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America and build a sense of optimism about the potential of education in classrooms across the country.
Think It Up will invite 7th '' 12th grade public and charter school students to work with their teachers to develop projects that draw on their passions and help pursue their educational goals. The projects will entail rigorous skill development that prepares American youth for post-high school life, helping pave the way for career success, regardless of the path. Posted on thinkitup.org, in collaboration with DonorsChoose.org, the student-powered, teacher-led projects will be crowdfunded by citizen donors beginning September 2015. thinkitup.org will make it possible for major donors, such as corporations, philanthropists and foundations, to match some public contributions.
Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150910/265261
SOURCE Entertainment Industry Foundation
Tech-Focused 'Super Schools' Looking to Be Created with $50 Mill From Steve Jobs' Apple Fortune : Entertainment : Latinos Post
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:07
By Sade Spence (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Sep 17, 2015 01:15 PM EDT(Photo : Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
A whopping $50 million of Steve Jobs' Apple fortune is looking to be invested in the propelling of America's school system.
Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs and philanthropist, is committing $50 million dollars to XQ: The Super School Project. XQ asks Americans and educators to rethink high school tweeting, " What does it mean if our students aren't prepared to succeed in a global economy?"
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The "Super School Project" is a competition-based program. Teams will imagine what programs and factors are needed to create a more effective high school experience. Winners will receive funding to actually develop their programs as well as work with expert mentors to truly create their super school. XQ hopes to support at least five schools, and as a result "transform communities and build schools that inspire new possibilities."
"Teams will unite and take on this important work of our time: rethinking and building schools that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life," advises the XQ site.
As XQ describes the process, "Teams will first self-assemble; then, immerse themselves in the leading thinking and research on how students learn today; spend time unearthing student needs and the changing demands of the world of work; and do rigorous systems-thinking to build their ideas into the next American high school."
In a promotional video, XQ points out that American high schools have remained mostly unchanged in the last 100 years, although many advancements have been made in recent years - pulling the U.S. from the forefront of educational rankings.
Laurene Powell Jobs will not only shovel out a bit of dough to fund the project, but will also chair the XQ's board of directors. As Mashable also explains, "Powell Jobs also cofounded College Track, a program that aids students from low income and otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in higher education."
Awesome! Prospective teams better get their proposals together soon, as the deadline for the chance to create your own super school needs to be received by Nov. 15. Judges will select the finalists who will be announced in April 2016. Winners will be announced in Aug. 2016.
(C) 2015 Latinos Post. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
What if we knock down the walls?
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:07
The XQ Institute is in service of parents and pioneers, entrepreneurs and teachers, business leaders and administrators, youth and education experts'--who are joining a movement to rethink America's schools. Together, we can use our knowledge, rigor, and creativity to create a new model for school itself.
Read MoreIQ: How We ThinkIt measures your cognitive capabilities.
EQ: How We Learn In The WorldIt measures the ability to connect, collaborate, and learn from others.
IQ + EQ + That Certain SomethingXQ is the agile and flexible intelligence that prepares students for a more connected world, a rapidly changing future, and a lifetime of learning.
Russlynn Ali is the chief creative officer of XQ Institute. She brings decades of experience in many arenas to her position, prime among them a knowledge of what is truly required to design schools that will best serve American students for years to come. Before coming to XQ Institute, Russlynn served as assistant secretary of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Russlynn also serves as managing director of education at Emerson Collective.
Laurene Powell Jobs chairs XQ Institute's Board of Directors and is the president of Emerson Collective. Her two decades in the education field have convinced her that America is ready for a sea change to overhaul the system.
Deep collaborators include Yo Yo Ma, the globally accomplished musician and creator, who wants to see schools that use creativity as a window to discipline, rigor, and a better world. Geoffrey Canada'--education advocate and head of the Harlem Children's Zone'--believes it's time to look at the hard data, and think about how students need to be treated with a whole new level of respect if they are to truly excel. Leon Wieseltier'--writer, former editor of The Atlantic, advocate of true cultural discussion'--believes that we should engage deeply in conversation, debate, and ultimately resolution about the intent of our public school system in America.
From our inception, we realized this will be a many-to-many effort'--involving many talented experts at the core of the Institute collaborating with many talented participants in the movement itself. The following organizations are bringing a broad range of talents'--from deep understanding about the science of learning to design thinking skills, from fueling the movement through compelling communication to digital tools that spark new imagination, from magnifying student voice to helping the national media see the issues and solutions of our time.
Pithy, Mean and Powerful: How Donald Trump Mastered Twitter for 2016 - NYTimes.com
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:29
The actress Kim Novak, a megastar of 1950s cinema, was a near-recluse when friends urged her to take a chance and appear at the Academy Awards last year.
Sitting at home, Donald J. Trump spotted Ms. Novak, then 81, on his television screen and recoiled at her appearance. He tapped out a message on Twitter.
''I'm having a real hard time watching,'' Mr. Trump wrote. ''Kim should sue her plastic surgeon!''
To Ms. Novak, who read the message after the show, it was a devastating setback in her return to public life: She retreated to Oregon, fell into what she called ''a tailspin'' and refused to leave her house for days. In an open letter to her fans a few weeks later, Ms. Novak denounced Mr. Trump's tweet as bullying.
For Mr. Trump, a serial exploiter of old-line media, it was a painful yet potent lesson in the power of new media to agitate and motivate a vast, unseen audience. Inundated with replies of disgust and support, he eventually backtracked online (''I was always a big fan of Kim Novak'') and sent her a rueful private letter.
A year later, Mr. Trump has mastered Twitter in a way no candidate for president ever has, unleashing and redefining its power as a tool of political promotion, distraction, score-settling and attack '-- and turning a 140-character task that other candidates farm out to young staff members into a centerpiece of his campaign.
In the process, he has managed to fulfill a vision, long predicted but slow to materialize, sketched out a decade ago by a handful of digital campaign strategists: a White House candidacy that forgoes costly, conventional methods of political communication and relies instead on the free, urgent and visceral platforms of social media.
''He's used social media to replace the traditional apparatus of a political campaign,'' said Zac Moffatt, who oversaw Mitt Romney's digital outreach in 2012 and co-founded Targeted Victory, a consulting firm focused on online campaign tactics. ''Trump is living on this medium.''
Now, as Mr. Trump enters an uncertain period in his campaign, even rival campaigns acknowledge that Twitter is providing a powerful bulwark against a slide in his poll numbers, by allowing millions of supporters to make his case for him and deflect the controversies he delights in touching off.
Interactive Feature | How Donald Trump Uses Twitter (Hint: Impulsively)
His online dominance is striking: Over the past two months, on Twitter alone, he has been mentioned in 6.3 million conversations, eight times as many as Republican rivals like Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson '-- not to mention more than three times as many as Hillary Rodham Clinton and nearly four times as many as Bernie Sanders. He is retweeted more than twice as often as Mrs. Clinton and about 13 times more frequently than Jeb Bush, according to data compiled as of Friday by Edelman Berland, a market research firm that studies social media. His Twitter following (4.36 million) dwarfs that of the rest of the Republican field, and in the coming weeks, he is expected to surpass Mrs. Clinton (4.39 million).
In an interview at his office '-- interrupted repeatedly by Mr. Trump's picking up his Samsung Galaxy cellphone, loading new tweets with his index finger and marveling at his nonstop mentions (''Watch this!'' he implored) '-- the candidate compared his Twitter feed to a newspaper with a single, glorious voice: his own.
''The Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,'' he said, quoting a fan.
In the past, Mr. Trump said, when dealing with a dishonest rival ''there was nothing you can do other than sue.''
''Which I've done,'' he added. ''But it's a long process.''
Now, he simply tweets. Caustically, colorfully and repeatedly.
Suddenly, he said of his foes, ''I have more power than they do.''
''I can let people know that they were a fraud,'' he continued. ''I can let people know that they have no talent, that they didn't know what they're doing. You have a voice.''
On Twitter, Mr. Trump has assembled an online SWAT team of devoted (some say rabid) supporters who spring into action with stunning speed. In a pattern that has played out over and over, he makes a provocative remark, like one about Mrs. Fiorina's face '-- ''Would anybody vote for that?'' '-- and hundreds of thousands of strangers defend him, spread his message and engage in emotional debates with his critics, all the while ensuring he remains the subject of a constant conversation.
When Mr. Trump wanted to defend his failure to correct a white voter who declared that Barack Obama is a Muslim, he tapped out a message on Sept. 19.
It was quickly retweeted by 7,000 people, and over roughly six hours it provoked more than 1,000 discussions that mentioned him. Forty percent of those were pro-Trump in sentiment, according to Edelman Berland.
The next day, Mr. Bush fired off an unusually pointed tweet, by his standards, attacking a campaign ad about Sept. 11 that was made by allies of Mrs. Clinton. But its life cycle was comparatively short and tepid. It received only about one-twelfth as many retweets, and provoked around 200 conversations over about an hour, of which 5 percent were pro-Bush, the firm found.
Mike Berland, a political operative who worked on Mrs. Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and is chief executive of Edelman Berland, calls it the ''Wall of Trump.''
''We've never seen this before in politics,'' Mr. Berland said. ''This is not just a rally that happens once in a while. This is a continuous Trump rally that happens on Twitter at all hours. He fills the Twitter stadium every day.''
Many mornings around 3:30, Eric Popkin, a 53-year-old project manager at an architecture firm with no ties to the campaign, logs on to his computer in Orlando, Fla., and creates elaborate graphics in support of Mr. Trump that he disseminates on Twitter.
Mr. Trump's candor and style inspire a loyalty he cannot quite explain. ''It's like a sports team. If you are from New York, and you like the Jets or Giants and somebody is bad-mouthing your team, there is kind of knee-jerk reaction to defend them,'' Mr. Popkin said. ''We have an emotional connection to him. It's good old human nature.''
Interactive Feature | A Snapshot of Two Tweets What happened when Donald J. Trump and Jeb Bush posted these provocative messages on Twitter during the same time period.
Not all of the outpouring is spontaneous. Supporters have organized themselves into online squads that defend Mr. Trump. A man identifying himself as Gary Forbes has recruited volunteer ''operatives'' on Twitter, sending out daily emails directing them to emphasize pro-Trump messages (''Trump's immigration plan will protect thousands of women from abuse'') and target rival candidates (''What Jeb must do for Fox Billionaire Murdoch's $$$''). A project code-named ''Magic Kingdom'' took aim last week at Mr. Rubio, the senator from Florida, according to an email obtained by The New York Times.
Asked about the effort, Mr. Forbes directed questions to the Trump campaign. A Trump spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said the campaign had no affiliation with Mr. Forbes.
Mr. Trump, 69, is an improbable virtuoso of the tweet. He has no computer in his office (a staff member brings in a laptop to show him videos) and asks aides to print his emails for consumption the old-fashioned way. But around 2011, his staff turned him on to the possibilities of @realdonaldtrump, a sleepy account started in 2009 that largely quoted from Mr. Trump's books.
He quickly adapted to Twitter's stock in trade: endless feuds, ego stroking and casual cruelty. He usually dictates messages to his assistant during the day and types them himself at home or on the golf course, from which he has sent more than 100, according to geographic data embedded in his tweets. The most frequently used words in his tweets: ''great'' (more than 700 times), ''winner'' or ''winners'' (43), and ''loser'' or ''losers'' (34). In all, he has sent more than 28,000 tweets '-- the rough equivalent of 12 a day.
Mr. Trump has called Arianna Huffington, the liberal website publisher, ''unattractive both inside and out''; described Bette Midler as ''extremely unattractive''; and declared that President Obama had guaranteed ''you won't see another black president for generations.''
Asked about his judgment in sending those messages, he defended all but one: his mockery of Ms. Novak. ''I would have preferred I didn't send it,'' Mr. Trump said. ''That was done in fun, but sometimes you do things in fun and they turn out to be hurtful, and I don't like doing that.''
Interactive Feature | Sign Up for the First Draft Newsletter Subscribe for updates on the 2016 presidential race, the White House and Congress, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.
He has developed strong views about the rules, rituals and rhythms of Twitter. On the 140-character limit: ''I wish it were longer on 10 percent of the occasions.''
On deleting tweets: ''One of the things I do find is that when you delete it, it becomes a bigger story than having it.''
That, of course, has not stopped him from deleting tweets, like a 2013 message in which he extended ''best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.''
His followers on Twitter did not seem to mind. Back in his office at Trump Tower the other day, he kept collecting new mentions, even though he had not sent a tweet in hours.
''Look at this,'' Mr. Trump beckoned. ''So this is eight seconds ago. See that?'' Messages scrolled by in a blur. ''That's eight seconds ago these tweets came in.''
He looked up with satisfaction. ''How,'' he asked, ''can you do better than that?''
Syria Update: Air Duel between the Sukhoi Su - 30 Russian SM and Israeli F-15 - ITCW
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:25
EXCLUSIVE '' Strategika 51: Six Russian fighter jets type Multirole Sukhoi SU '' 30 SM have intercepted 4 Israeli McDonnell Douglas F-15's fighter bombers attempting to infiltrate the Syrian coast.The Israeli F 15 warplanes have been flying over Syrian airspace for months and in particular the coast of Latakia, which is now the bridgehead of the Russian forces in Syria.
The Israeli jets would generally follow a fairly complex flight plan and approach Latakia from the sea.
On the night of 1 October 02, 2015, six Sukhoi SU-30 Russian SM fighters took off from the Syrian Hmimim airbase in the direction of Cyprus, before changing course and intercepting the four Israeli F-15 fighters off the coast of Syria, that were flying in attack formation.
Surprised by a situation as unexpected and probably not prepared for a dogfight with one of the best Russian multipurpose fighters, Israeli pilots have quickly turned back South at high speed over the Lebanon.
The Lebanese army has officially announced at 2313 Z (local time) that four ''enemy aircraft'' (Israeli) had crossed the airspace of the Lebanon.
This 'incident' between the Russian and Israeli combat aircraft struck with amazement the command of the Israeli air force, which has estimated that a possible dogfight between F-15 Israelis and the Russian Su-30 would have led to the destruction of the four aircraft Israelis.
Israel has strongly protested to Moscow of the incident but the Russians demanded explanations about the presence of Israeli military aircraft in full Syrian airspace.
This incident indicates that the protection of Syrian airspace is now under the protection of the Russian air weapon. What causes gnashing of teeth in Washington.
The incident has been ignored by major news agencies but relays political and media of Israel in the United States, Europe and in the Arab world will redouble their efforts to demonize the Russian support for the Syrian Government.
Source: www.liveleak.com
Edward Snowden: US has not offered me plea deal | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:23
Snowden, who is wanted under the Espionage Act after leaking tens of thousands of top secret documents, said he had offered to do time in prison as part of a deal. Photograph: Alan Rusbridger for the Guardian
The US justice department has made no effort to contact Edward Snowden to discuss a plea deal that would see him return from exile in Russia, the NSA whistleblower said in an interview on BBC Panorama to be broadcast on Monday night.
Snowden, who is wanted under the Espionage Act after leaking tens of thousands of top secret documents, said he had offered to do time in prison as part of a deal. ''We are still waiting for them to call us back,'' he said.
His comments come just months after Eric Holder, who was US attorney-general until April, said Snowden's revelations had ''spurred a necessary debate''. He also said the ''possibility exists'' of a plea deal.
But senior figures in the security services in both the US and UK are unforgiving, wanting him to serve a long sentence both as punishment and to act as a deterrent to others.
Former head of the NSA Michael Hayden, asked by Panorama what would happen to Snowden, said: ''If you're asking me my opinion, he's going to die in Moscow. He's not coming home.''
Snowden, in his first interview with the BBC since he disclosed the documents two years ago, said: ''I've volunteered to go to prison with the government many times. What I won't do is I won't serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.''
Edward Snowden tells the BBC's Panorama that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ can hack into phones without their owners' knowledgeAsked if he was prepared to face a jail sentence, he replied: ''Of course.''
If Snowden was to return to the US without a deal, he would be tried under the Espionage Act, which would mean no jury and he would be looking at least at 30 years in jail or even a life sentence.
But Snowden does have some leverage. Even some of his critics acknowledge he has sparked a necessary debate worldwide about surveillance and privacy.
Further leverage is the embarrassment factor to the US from Snowden's receipt of prestigious awards and his general popularity, particularly among the young: since starting on Twitter a week ago, he has attracted 1.36 million followers.
In May 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii. The following month he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents, and then travelled to Russia, where he was subsequently granted asylum.
One of the consequences of the Snowden revelations has been an increasing reluctance on the part of internet service providers and social media to cooperate fully with police and security agencies in handing over data.
Mark Rowley, the head of counter-terrorism police operations in the UK, said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London on Monday that some of the internet companies and social media were immature.
Rowley said: ''Some simply undermine us by adopting a policy that if they supply data to us they will tell the subject that they have done that.''
But Simon Milner, Facebook director of policy for the UK and Ireland, told Panorama: ''We have made important strides in the last three years to ensure that Facebook is a hostile place for terrorists ... and in rare circumstances where we find somebody who is organising activities which may pose an imminent risk to life, then we can and will report those people to the authorities.''
Milner said: ''Facebook doesn't track terrorist content ... However, what we do do is rely on reports from the 1.5 billion people using Facebook to let us know when they see things on Facebook that shouldn't be there, including terrorist activity.''
Milner added: ''There is no algorithm that finds terrorist content.''
Snowden says he would go to prison to return to U.S.
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:11
The Associated Press4:27 p.m. EDT October 5, 2015
Edward Snowden appears on a live video feed broadcast from Moscow at an event sponsored by ACLU Hawaii in Honolulu on Feb. 14. The former National Security Agency worker leaked classified documents about government surveillance.(Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)
LONDON '-- Edward Snowden says he has offered to return to the United States and go to jail for leaking details of National Security Agency programs to intercept electronic communications data on a vast scale.
The former NSA contractor flew to Moscow two years ago after revealing information about the previously secret eavesdropping powers, and faces U.S. charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
Snowden told the BBC that he'd "volunteered to go to prison with the government many times," but had not received a formal plea-deal offer.
He said that "so far they've said they won't torture me, which is a start, I think. But we haven't gotten much further than that."
In an interview broadcast Monday on the BBC's "Panorama" program, Snowden said he and his lawyers were waiting for U.S. officials "to call us back."
Earlier this year, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a plea deal with Snowden was a possibility.
Snowden's revelations about the NSA, Britain's GCHQ and other intelligence agencies set off an international debate about spies' powers to monitor personal communications, and about the balance between security and privacy.
Either way, no more NSA collection of U.S. phone records
Before leak, NSA mulled ending phone program
Critics say his disclosures harmed the ability of the United States and its allies to fight terrorism. FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano told the BBC that Snowden was a traitor.
"The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?" Snowden said. "I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally.
"I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions I've made," he added. "If I'm gone tomorrow, I'm happy with what I had. I feel blessed."
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33 Dead, 130 Injured in China Knife-Wielding Spree - NBC News
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:09
A group of knife-wielding men attacked a train station in southwestern China on Saturday, killing at least 29 people and injuring more than 130 others in what Chinese officials called a terrorist strike, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Four of the attackers were also shot dead and only one was captured alive after the mayhem, which broke out about 9 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) at the Kunming Railway Station in the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
The Kunming government said the "serious violent terrorist attack was planned and organized by Xinjiang separatist forces," Xinhua reported.
Ethnic Turkish Uighur separatists have been sporadically fighting for an independent state in Xinjiang, in northwestern China, home to about 10 million Uighur, who are predominantly Muslim. More than 100 people have been killed in protests in Xinjiang in the past year.
Yang Haifei, a resident of Yunnan, told Xinhua that he was attacked and sustained injuries on his chest and back.
Yang said he was buying a ticket when he saw a group rush into the station, most of them dressed in black, and started stabbing people.
"I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife, and I ran away with everyone," he said, adding that people who were slower were severely injured.
"They just fell on the ground," he added.
Yunnan province Vice Gov. Gao Feng held an emergency meeting at No. 1 People's Hospital, where the injured are being rushed, and said hospitals have received 162 people.
State-run Yunnan News said that the men were wearing uniforms when they stormed the railway station and that gunshots were heard after police arrived.
Police investigate after a group of armed men attacked people at Kunming railway station in China's Yunnan province on Saturday. Reuters
Photos circulating online showed scattered luggage and bodies lying on the floor in blood.
'-- Eric Baculinao with The Associated Press
Al Roker apologizes for 'insensitive' grin in flood tweet
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 02:30
Al Roker in April 2013 on set of 'Today' show.(Photo: Peter Kramer, AP)
NBC weather wonk Al Roker apologized Monday for covering the historic flooding in South Carolina by tweeting a selfie with his crew, all grinning beside a disabled car trapped in a washed-out road.
The tweeted picture, now deleted, showed Roker and his two-person camera crew, clad in rain gear, smiling widely as they prepared to "report on East Coast flooding from S. Carolina" for NBC's Nightly News.
Behind them, a small green-yellow car lay on its side in a shallow hole left by the collapse of the side of a road.
Roker later said the woman who was driving that car got out safely. But the explanation came too late; outraged tweets soon appeared:
Roker realized his mistake immediately, deleted the tweet and issuing apologetic new tweets.
What does this mean? Maybe nothing.
Veteran broadcasters like Roker know better than to smile on camera while reporting tragedies, such as a mass shooting for instance. But maybe they forget the rules, and good manners, when goofing off with silly selfies on social media.
Roker, by the way, has gotten into trouble with some of his tweets in the past. In 2014, he apologized for tweeting a "low-blow" slam at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for not closing the schools before a major snow storm, forecasting he'd be a "one-term" mayor. It didn't help that he misspelled the mayor's name.
"I will say, the one tweet I do regret in the heat '-- I'm very passionate about the weather," he said later on Today. "I made a prediction that there would be only one term of his administration. I apologize for that. That was '... a little below the line."
Al Roker apologizes for 'low-blow' Bill de Blasio tweet
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getoutofdebtfree.org ' how to become a common law officer/ sheriff
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 02:21
A Memorandum of Instructions to Volunteers for Training as Common Law Peace OfficersIssued by The International Common Law Court of Justice, Brussels on May 12, 2014
(Accompanied by The Common Law Sheriffs' Training Manual)
This Memorandum is issued to those who have volunteered for training as common law peace officers and court sheriffs. It is part of a package that includes a short Training Manual and relevant documents.
We assume that if you are reading this, you are familiar with the aims and philosophy of our movement, which is to use Natural Law and our inherent sovereignty and freedom to reclaim the earth, our society, and its laws from the criminal corporate system.
Along with this memo and the Training Manual, you'll be receiving the names and emails/phone numbers of the others in your community or area who have similarly volunteered.
Please do the following upon receiving this notice:
1. Contact the others in your community who are listed and arrange an initial meeting together in a secure private place, like in one of your homes. The purpose of this meeting is to get to know each other and form yourselves into a chapter of the Common Law movement by signing the Common Law Charter (Document No. 1, enclosed). If you are the only person in your area who has volunteered to receive training, we will arrange for you to connect by phone or skype with the nearest common law group.
2. At your first meeting, appoint one among you to be the formal contact person with the central Court Office and its Field Secretary, Kevin Annett. This contact will be expected to make regular reports on your work to Kevin and the Court, and to pass on a copy of your signed Charter.
3. Discuss among yourselves your own hopes and expectations for the sheriffs' training course, along with the criminal or civil matters you want to see adjudicated in a local common law court. This will help focus your training and give it a practical outcome.
4. In addition, work out among yourselves a timetable for the training program that fits your own schedules and situations, and you can commence the training, based on the enclosed material and the general Common Manual found at www.itccs.org. Hard copies of the latter can also be obtained through this email and Field Secretary Kevin Annett at hiddenfromhistory1@gmail.com .
5. In order to recruit more people and broaden our movement, circulate to others in your community the work and websites of the Court and the general Common Law Training Manual. That way you can assemble the people to form your first citizen jury.
More advice and resources will be provided to you soon about the nuts and bolts of working as a local chapter of our movement.
The important thing right now is to not wait for others but take the initiative to discuss how you want to operate as a citizens' common law movement and as its appointed sheriffs and peace officers.
Once you have read over the Training material as a group or in conjunction with other individuals, please contact the Central Office through Kevin Annett and report on your progress. Over the coming months, Kevin will be available to come to your community and assist you directly in your training and organizing. Contact him to arrange his visit among you.
You are part of a movement that now spans over one hundred local chapters in nearly forty cities in thirteen countries (Canada, the USA, England, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Australia). We are making history together! Good luck and keep us informed!
The Central Office of The International Common Law Court of Justice, Brussels
cc: Rev. Kevin Annett at hiddenfromhistory1@gmail.com
Please mail a copy of your signed and completed Charter to this address:
Kevin Annett
1000 Walker St., Unit 223
Holly Hill, Florida USA 32117
Training Manual for Common Law Sheriffs and Peace Officers
Issued by The Secretariat of The International Common Law Court of Justice, Brussels
May, 2014 (First Edition, All rights Reserved)
(To be read in conjunction with the general Common Law Manual '' In hard copy and at www.itccs.org)
''No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it'' - United States Circuit Court 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec. 256
''Every man is independent of all laws, except those prescribed by nature. He is not bound by any institutions formed by his fellowman without his consent'' - Cruden v. Neale, 2 N.C. 338 May Term, 1796
The historic effort to reclaim the law and the world for the people rests upon the re-establishment of the Common Law and its jury courts as the cornerstone and bulwark of human liberty. And the front line defense and enforcement arms of these courts are the sheriffs and peace officers whose sworn duty is to defend the court and enact its decisions. Without such officers, and their active support by the community, the Common Law Courts and their judgements will have no effect.
This Manual's purpose is to equip everyday citizens to function as professional police officers of the Common Law courts, as licensed and accountable servants of the people and justice.
The Manual consists of the following sections:
1. A Brief History of Common Law Sheriffs
2. The Purpose and Mandate of Sheriffs as servants of the People and their Courts
3. Specific Tasks and Functions of the Sheriffs '' Mandate, Protocols and Extent of their Powers
4. Their Oath of Office, Accreditation and Licensing
5. Their Relationship with other police agencies and authorities
6. Learning from Practice '' How to Begin
1. A Brief History of Common Law Sheriffs
The origin of these sheriffs, like the common law itself, goes back over a thousand years to the Anglo-Saxon tribal communities of England, which were self-governing and independent of any foreign power like kings or popes. And to preserve such freedom, these communities understood that the people as a whole had to be responsible for their own safety and liberty.
According to one historian,
''All persons who were the victims of a crime in Anglo-Saxon England were expected to raise their 'hue and cry' and apprehend the criminal; and upon hearing their cry, every able-bodied man in the community was expected to do the 'utmost in his power' (pro toto posse suo) to chase and apprehend the accused as a 'posse'.'' (from 1215: The Year of Magna Carta by J. Danziger, 2003)
Practically, one or several people were often appointed from among the community to serve as permanent ''sheriffs'', the word coming from ''shire-reeve'', meaning a chief from the local ''shire'', or Saxon village. These sheriffs were not established as an external authority over others but as the accountable guardians of the entire community. The sheriffs were therefore the embodiment and defender of the liberties of the common people.
This tradition is preserved in America in locally elected county sheriffs who are accountable to the local citizens and not to the federal or state governments. And as we will discuss, these existing sheriffs, as the remnants of a proud tradition of local liberty, can help communities re-establish their capacity to govern themselves through their own court system.
2. The Purpose and Mandate as Sheriffs as servants of the People and their Courts
Any genuine peace officer is in office solely to defend the people from harm and tyranny, and to preserve their laws and liberties. When they subvert that purpose, they can and should be removed from their office, and its sacred trust. This is especially true when it comes to the common law court sheriffs, who are guardians not only of the people but of the ability of their laws to function.
The Common Law Sheriffs have a general purpose, namely, to protect the Courts and enforce their decisions and warrants. But as part of this aim, the Sheriffs must also help gather evidence for the Court, detain suspected criminals or those who obstruct the Court's decisions, assist juries and help the community put into practice the Court's verdicts, including by deputizing other people.
This broad purpose has five aspects, which we will discuss in detail in section three. But because the Sheriff's role is so vital in making justice practical and workable, he or she operates as an extension of the Court, which is the People themselves.
Common Law sheriffs are not lone wolf heroes: the Gary Cooper-like town cop who single handed takes down the bad guys. Save that for the movies. Sheriffs are part of a team, overseen by the Court and the common law.
That Mandate is clarified in the Sheriff's Oath of Office and licensing, which is discussed in section four.
3. Specific Tasks and Functions of the Sheriffs '' Mandate, Protocols and Extent of their Powers
The Common Law Sheriffs and those they deputize have five specific jobs to do:
a) Maintain the safety and operations of the Common Law Courts, their officers, juries and witnesses;
b) Serve Court Summonses, detain and bring into Court summoned parties, and enforce the Warrants and final Verdicts of the Court;
c) As part of their Enforcement role, assist in the seizure of forfeited property and assets of convicted individuals and bodies, arrest these individuals and their accomplices, and aid in the disestablishment of convicted criminal bodies.
d) Conduct and protect Court-authorized Crime Scene Investigations, including at mass grave sites, crime scenes, and other suspected locations of evidence relevant to Court cases.
e) Generally aid the people in assisting the Court and enforcing its decisions and verdicts, and in actively establishing and maintaining such Courts in the community.
The Sheriffs and their deputies are directly accountable to the Citizen Prosecutor's Office of the Common Law courts. That Office trains and supervises the Sheriffs and has the power to discipline or remove any Sheriff from his or her office, but only if it can be proved before the Court with proper evidence that the Sheriff has violated or exceeded his/her Oath of Office and mandate.
Sheriffs can deputize any man or woman to act as agents of the Common Law court and the Sheriffs' Office, including members of existing police forces. Deputies take the same Oath of Office as the Sheriffs and are bound by the same accountability, mandate and protocols.
In executing their duties, Sheriffs and their deputies may with the proper Court warrants enter any dwelling, physically detain, arrest and incarcerate any man or woman regardless of their authority, and seize any thing relevant to the Court and its operations and verdicts.
It is understood that the Sheriffs and deputies may only employ reasonable and proportionate force in the execution of their duties. They may not act against the Law itself or intentionally kill anyone, nor inflict harm or suffering on anyone except to defend themselves and the verdicts and operations of the Court. They are authorized by the Court to carry and use firearms and other protective devices, but must be Court-licensed to do so and receive the necessary professional training in the use of firearms and in self-defence.
It is understood that all Sheriffs and deputies must be physically and psychologically competent to perform their duties. They cannot be infirm or incapable of robust activity. As part of their licensing, they must agree to annual physical and psychological examinations by accredited specialists, under the supervision of the Citizen Prosecutor's Office of the Court.
4. Oath of Office, Accreditation and Licensing
Every Common Law Sheriff and their deputies must orally declare the following stamped and authorized Oath of Office, and sign and date it before witnesses recognized by the Prosecutor's Office:
''I (Name), being of sound mind and clear conscience, do hereby swear that I will faithfully and justly execute the Office of Common Law Sheriff or Deputy according to the best of my abilities, under the supervision of the Office of the Citizen Prosecutor.
''I understand that if I violate this Oath or betray the mandate, trust and responsibilities of my Office I will have forfeited my right to that Office and can be dismissed.
''I take this solemn Oath freely, without coercion or ulterior motive, according to my conscience as a sovereign and free man or woman, and as a citizen under the authority and jurisdiction of the Common Law and its courts.''
A copy of this Oath and of the Sheriff's Notice and Warrant to Deputize is contained in the accompanying documents, along with the Sheriff''s License.
This Oath of Office legally accredits any man or woman to be a Court-authorized Sheriff or deputy. Upon taking the Oath, the Sheriff or deputy will be issued a Sheriff's License, which is a legal piece of identification that the Sheriff/deputy must disclose in the performance of their duties. The License is issued by the Citizen Prosecutor, and must be reviewed annually by that Office after an interview process and examination of the Sheriff''s/deputies' performance, as indicated by their immediate supervisor.
5. Learning from Practice: How to Begin
This general guideline, and the training program accompanying it, is a springboard to action: a way to equip citizens to begin functioning as active community peace officers and agents of locally established common law courts. It's now time to begin trying out what you have learned, for only through practical experience will you become truly equipped as a competent professional.
It is strongly advised, therefore, to commence immediately after your training to aid in the establishment of a local court and its adjudication of a civil or criminal matter. Sheriffs have the authority to assemble citizen juries and help issue the Public Notice of Claim documents that commence common law litigation. You must begin to exercise this power and duty to make any of this effort meaningful.
Similarly, it is necessary for all candidates for Sheriff to be a recognized member of the broader common law movement, by signing the Common Law Charter that establishes a local chapter of the movement, and which is found in the Documents section. That step is essential in order to function as part of a team of citizens who express the will and efforts of the local community.
Finally, sharing your experiences and lessons with other common law peace officers is essential, as our movement grows and the Courts become more rooted in the community. It is therefore advised that you stay in touch with the central Common Law Court of Justice and its Prosecutor's Office through a formal liaison person.
We wish you more than luck, in the days ahead: for on your shoulders is the responsibility for making common law and justice a force again in our communities. And so, be courageous and bold, for you have the sacred duty to defend with your lives and honor the laws and liberties of the people. We have a world to win back!
With our thanks,
The Secretariat and the Office of Citizen Prosecutors, The International Common Law Court of Justice, Brussels
May 12, 2014
www.itccs.org / www.iclcj.com
Contact: itccscentral@gmail.com - George Dufort, LL.B., Secretary
List of Attached Common Law Documents (pdf)
1. The Common Law Charter, establishing local branches of the movement
2. The Maastricht Proclamation of April 20, 2014, annulling and disestablishing the Church of Rome and its affiliates (English version)
3. The Italian translation of the Maastricht Proclamation
4. Stand Down Notice and Order to Comply issued by the Common Law Court to all agents and officers of the Crown of England - Dated February 25, 2014
5. Stand Down Notice and Order to Comply issued by the Common Law Court to all agents and officers of the Vatican and Church of Rome '' Dated February 25, 2014
6. Order of Appointment by the Court authorizing the creation of common law Sheriffs and peace officers '' Dated February 25, 2014
7. Original Declaration of the Crown of England and the Church of Rome as criminal bodies under international law, forfeiting their wealth and authority '' Issued by the Court on September 1, 2013
8. Legal Notice from the Court authorizing the appointment of Officers of the Court, issued December 9, 2013
9. Public Oath of Oath to be sworn and signed by all Common Law Court Officers
10. Warrant allowing Sheriffs to deputize others as Court officers
11. Public Notice dissolving the corporate entity known as the Dominion of Canada after the criminal conviction of its head of state and Crown of England for Crimes against Humanity '' Dated March 7, 2013
--See the evidence of Genocide in Canada and other crimes against the innocent at www.hiddennolonger.com and at the websites of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State at www.itccs.org .
An International, multi-lingual ITCCS site can be found at: http://kevinannettinternational.blogspot.fr/
The complete Common Law Court proceedings of Genocide in Canada are found at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvhfXAd08TE - Common Law Court Proceedings - Genocide in Canada (Part One) - 1 hr. 46 mins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPKFk_L7y9g - Common Law Court Proceedings - Genocide in Canada (Part Two) - 1 hr. 47 mins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ormOIlOi4Vc - Final Court Verdict and Sentencing - 8 mins. 30 secs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IylfBxm3sMg - Authorizations and Endorsements of ITCCS/Kevin Annett by indigenous eyewitnesses - 10 mins.
--See the evidence of Genocide in Canada and other crimes at www.hiddennolonger.com and at the website of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State at www.itccs.org, and at www.iclcj.com, the site for the Common Law court network.
An International, multi-lingual ITCCS site can be found at: http://kevinannettinternational.blogspot.fr/
The complete Common Law Court proceedings of Genocide in Canada are found at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvhfXAd08TE - Common Law Court Proceedings - Genocide in Canada (Part One) - 1 hr. 46 mins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPKFk_L7y9g - Common Law Court Proceedings - Genocide in Canada (Part Two) - 1 hr. 47 mins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ormOIlOi4Vc - Final Court Verdict and Sentencing - 8 mins. 30 secs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IylfBxm3sMg - Authorizations and Endorsements of ITCCS/Kevin Annett by indigenous eyewitnesses - 10 mins.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CReISnQDbBE - Irene Favel, Eyewitness to the incineration of a newborn baby by a priest at Muscowegan Catholic Indian school, Saskatchewan, 1944
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBUd3UXt6fI - Other key testimonies from our Court case against genocide in Canada
Kevin Annett is a Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize (2013). Messages for him can be left at 250-591-4573 (Canada) or 386-323-5774 (USA). His personal website is www.KevinAnnett.com .
"I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him."Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers WindElder, Crane Clan, Anishinabe Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba
>> #PissForEquality: Feminists Fall For 4Chan Troll Campaign by Peeing Themselves Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 22:42
Feminists on Twitter have fallen for a troll campaign created by 4chan which encouraged women to post photos of themselves peeing their pants in the name of ''equality'' under the hashtag #PissForEquality.
''What if we somehow get Tumblr tards to publicly piss/shit their pants in the name of ''Equality,'' wrote one 4chan member on October 2nd.
Within 24 hours, numerous feminists on Twitter were posting images of their stained and soiled pants in order to show support for ''rape victims'' who had defecated or urinated while being assaulted (another meme created by 4chan).
One woman even made a video of herself peeing her pants and posted in on Twitter.
The sheer hilarity of social justice warriors being so gullible as to fall for such an obvious troll again illustrates how leftists are so desperate to engage in ''virtue signaling'' that they will literally piss themselves and put photos of it on Twitter to try and earn 'progressive' social brownie points.
This is by no means the first time that feminists have openly embraced something that was originally created by 4chan to make fun of them.
The ''free bleeding'' movement, in which feminists post pictures of themselves showing menstrual blood running down their legs in order to draw attention to 'period shaming' '' was another troll campaign contrived by 4chan.
Back in August, 23-year-old Kiran Gandhi received a plethora of media attention from progressive news outlets after running the London marathon while on her period in homage to the ''free bleeding'' movement and how society run by 'male privilege' expects women to ''cover up'' when it's that time of the month.
In reality, the entire ''free bleeding'' concept was concocted by the predominantly male 4chan forum members back in January 2014.
Entitled 'Operation Free Bleeding', forum members agreed to launch a campaign to turn ''free bleeding,'' which at the time was an obscure obsession shared by a smattering of mentally disturbed women on the Internet, into a feminist cause c(C)l¨bre.
#PissForEquality and the ''free bleeding'' movement '' both created by 4chan to make fun of radical feminists '' illustrate why more and more women don't describe themselves as feminists.
3rd wave feminism has become synonymous with outlandish preoccupations like manspreading, trigger warnings, safe spaces, slut walks and free bleeding, while genuine threats to women's rights '' particularly in Islamic countries '' continue to be ignored.
This is easily the funniest feminist story of the year. Period. 'Full retard' doesn't even begin to cover it.
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.
ISIS extremists publish address of Navy Seal who killed Osama bin Laden and call for his death - Mirror Online
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 22:33
A British ISIS supporter has published the name and address of the Navy Seal who killed Osama bin Laden and called on American extremists to execute him.
Mirror Online has been monitoring jihadi chat on social media and has spotted several people linking to a text file containing instructions on how to find Robert O'Neill, who claimed to have killed the al Qaeda chief.
This information was shared by an unnamed British extremist, who dubbed O'Neill a "number one target" and called for his immediate death.
The address is now being shared on social media along with a sinister hashtag.
Dozens of extremists have now republished the Navy Seal's private information, despite apparent censorship attempts by social media firms and the website which is hosting the information.
"I leave this info of Robert O'Neill for my brothers in America and Al Qaeda in the U.S, as a number one target to eventually hunt down and kill," the ISIS supporter wrote.
The anonymous jihadi slammed O'Neil for "traveling around America putting on seminars boasting about killing Sheikh Osama".
He also posted a link to an story in the International Business Times in which O'Neill's father said the family were "not afraid of ISIS".
The Navy Seal went public with his claims in a documentary called "The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden".
He is understood to have separated from his wife over security concerns.
"We're actually looking into changing my name," she told Esquire in 2013.
"Changing the kids' names, taking my husband's name off the house, paying off our cars.
"Essentially deleting him from our lives, but for safety reasons."
We have contacted Robert O'Neill to warn him about the threats, but he has not yet responded.
University adds 'healthy' topping to tacos: crickets! - EAGnews.org
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 22:26
STORRS, Conn. '' University of Connecticut students are getting a taste of a coming food revolution '' bugs!The university's Food for Thought food truck is serving up roasted crickets for 99 cents as a topping for tacos, and it's meeting mixed reactions, Daily Campus reports.
''It reminds me of a veggie puff,'' Paula Wilmot, assistant director of the Honors Program and Learning Communities, told the news site. ''I will definitely tell my colleagues about this.''
''They're like seeds,'' political science sophomore George Pidvysotski said. ''This is the first time I've tried a bug. I would eat this.''
Civil engineering graduate student Ned Eskew, meanwhile, wouldn't even try a free sample of the bugs.
''Just, no '' because they're crickets,'' he said.
Eskew was among the majority of students who opted against crunching the crickets in his lunch during a recent sample day at the food truck designed to draw interest in the insect topping. Assistant dining services manager John Smith said UConn brought in the new topping, advertised on the side of the food truck, as an ''organic, GMO free and earth friendly'' option.
The decision is the latest in a movement people incorporating more bugs into their diets that's driven by in part by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who argues eating bugs is important for the health of the planet and humans in general.
''Keeping meat consumption to levels recommended by health authorities would lower emissions and reduce heart disease, cancer, and other diseases,'' he told The Guardian in May. ''And of course there are alternative sources of protein. For example, raising insects as an animal protein source. Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat. They make up part of the diet of two billion people and are commonly eaten in many parts of the world.
''Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets,'' Annan said.
And the Daily Caller points to a 2013 UN report that states ''insects are reported to emit fewer greenhouse gasses and less ammonia than cattle or pigs, and they require significantly less land and water than cattle rearing.''
''Compared with mammals and birds, insects may also pose less risk of transmitting zoonotic infections to humans, livestock and wildlife, although this topic requires further research,'' according to the report.
UConn get its crickets from Next Millennium Farms, which houses about 30 million crickets that are euthanized and roasted before shipment. The Wall Street Journal noted that by 2050 beef is expected to be a luxury, and will continue to drive more people toward eating bugs like crickets, which are high in protein, as well as B vitamins and minerals, and low in fat.
It's the purported health benefits and simple curiosity that convinced UConn's assistant director of retail services Charles Couture to pitch the crickets to students.
''I'll try anything,'' he said. ''I was curious, and it was a really interesting idea. I honestly thought people (at UConn) would try them.''
Next Millennium Farms' website contends those who are now trying the topping on their tacos are at the forefront of the next big thing.
''We are leading the protein revolution with a new, environmentally sound method of food production,'' the site reads. ''From cricket flour to insect protein, the revolution is coming!''
From Around The Web
How The Kardashians Fooled America: New Tell-All Blows The Lid Off TV's Fakest Family's Rise To Fame'' Social Climbing, Cheating & Plastic Surgery
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 20:39
Splash News
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Kris Jenner was devious from the start. She split from her eldest four children's father, Robert Kardashian, in 1990'-- after she was caught having an affair with much-younger soccer player Todd Waterman. "She says they kissed for the first time in the hall closet of her friend's house," Smith writes. "He says they had sex for the first time in said closet, adding'...that it was 'magical.'"
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Kim may claim she's always been ambitious, but in reality, as a teen, "she wanted to be a housewife when she grew up," Smith writes. "She was a sweet and thoughtful little girl who dreamed of being not Madonna, but a wife and mother."
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Kourtney was a "little brighter" than Kim, and would assign her little sis the "assistant" role while playing make-believe, the writer claims.
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Kim was always interested in the rich and famous. According to the author, her first boyfriend at just 13 years old was Michael Jackson's nephew T.J.
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Lucky Kim! Due to her new connections, the reality star's 14th birthday was held at Jackson's Neverland Ranch in 1994. "Even though she was growing up as a privileged youngster in Beverly Hills'...this was something entirely different and totally thrilling," Smith says.
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Moving way too fast! According to Smith, T.J. even moved in with Kim for a time at Kris and Bruce Jenner's home. At just 14, Kim told Kris she was ready to have sex for the first time.
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Kris supported her daughter's desire to have sex, and even put her on the birth control pill.
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Too much too soon? At 13, Kim began getting bikini waxes and started dieting, trying the Atkins, South Beach and cabbage soup diets.
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While Kourtney was determined to go to college, Kim "didn't harbor such aspirations, preferring to spend her evenings talking for hours on the phone to her friends rather than with her nose in a schoolbook," Smith claims.
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For her first job, Kim began working at a shop assistant at a local boutique called Body.
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At age 19, Kim went on a date with actor Joey Lawrence, who was five years her senior.
Splash News
Kim began dating eventual husband Damon Thomas when he walked into her boutique one day. "He was flashy and edgy and came into her life like a whirlwind," Smith writes. She was allegedly impressed that he had worked with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.
Splash News
Just months later, when Kim was 19, the couple got married in Las Vegas. She kept the marriage a secret, even from her family. Kourtney eventually found out, and told their mother.
Feuding with father! While Kris accepted the marriage, Robert Sr. was furious, and "refused to speak to his daughter," Smith claims. "When he finally met Damon, he didn't like him and he didn't care for the relationship." Robert died from cancer during Kim's first divorce.
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After her wedding, Kim quit Body at the advice of her husband and started selling Manolo Blahnik shoes for a higher price on eBay. "Arguably, the most useful attribute she inherited from her mother and father was'...the ability to identify a way to earn money and to exploit the opportunity fully," Smith writes.
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Thomas allegedly caught Kim hanging out with her idol Jennifer Lopez' ex-husband Cris Judd.
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First plastic surgery? Thomas also claims that he bought Kim liposuction for $3,650 during their marriage.
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She began her stint as a closet organizer and personal stylist by working for Ray J's famous sister Brandy. She eventually worked for Cindy Crawford, Serena Williams and Rob Lowe. "Kim was learning very quickly that it was all about connections in Los Angeles," Smith says.
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Eventually she was hired by Paris Hilton, who brought her onto the Hollywood scene.
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Kourtney and Khloe first opened their boutique Dash without Kim, who was "offended," Smith claims.
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Kim was introduced to Keeping Up With The Kardashians' eventual production team, Bunim/Murray, when the company worked on Hilton's show The Simple Life.
Chernobyl disaster: Exclusion zone around plant has become wildlife haven 'on par with nature reserves' | Nature | Environment | The Independent
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:53
Scientists find that the huge forested area is teeming with large animals such as red deer, wild boar and wolves
The absence of human activity in the exclusion zone has benefited the wildlife of the region
The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which was evacuated in 1986 after a devastating explosion and fire, has become a wildlife haven on a par with heavily-protected nature reserves, scientists have found.
A detailed survey of the huge forested area around the stricken plant has revealed that it is teeming with large animals such elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves despite being contaminated with radioactive fallout
This doesn't mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming and forestry, are a lot worse
Professor Jim Smith, Portsmouth University
The scientists found no evidence to support earlier studies suggesting that wildlife in the region had suffered from the radiation released after the Chernobyl accident of 1986 which sent plumes of radioactive emissions across much of northern Europe, causing radiation ''hotspots'' within the exclusion zone.
Following the disaster, more than 116,000 local residents were evacuated from the zone around Chernobyl, which covers some 4,200 square kilometres (1,622 square miles), with only key construction workers and nuclear staff allowed into the site to safeguard the stricken reactors.
The absence of human activity in the exclusion zone has benefited the wildlife of the region more than any possible damage it may have suffered as a result of coming into contact with radioactive elements, the researchers said.
The population of wolves in the exclusion zone was found to be seven times higher than in nature reserves
''It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident. This doesn't mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming and forestry, are a lot worse,'' said Professor Jim Smith of Portsmouth University, who led the study.
The researchers used a combination of field surveys and computer models to estimate the density of animal numbers throughout the exclusion zone. They found no evidence to suggest that any species of mammal had been adversely affected by the nuclear fallout.
''These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposure,'' the researchers write in their study published in the journal Current Biology.
While the numbers of elk and wild boar, for instance, were undergoing rapid decline in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the corresponding populations in the exclusion zone were increasing, the researchers found.
Numbers of elk declined rapidly in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union
The population of wolves in the exclusion zone was also found to be about seven times higher than in corresponding nature reserves in the region, they said.
''These unique data showing a wide range of animals thriving within miles of a major nuclear accident illustrate the resilience of wildlife populations when freed from the pressures of human habitation,'' said Jim Beasley of the University of Georgia and co-author of the study.
Joaquin Misses The U.S., The Hurricane Drought Continues | The Daily Caller
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:51
''The south of the island near Clarencetown was just obliterated,'' Photojournalist Eddy Rafael told The Weather Channel. ''People were running into the streets and making signals to land. You could see people tearing toward the airport '... thinking that we were going to head on to the airport. Which was kind of devastating; it really brought tears to your eyes that we couldn't come.''
On Saturday, Joaquin re-intensified, reaching wind speed levels just short of a Category 5 storm. Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach noted that Joaquin was ''the first Category 4 hurricane to track through The Bahamas in October since 1866,'' according to The Weather Channel.
After devastating the Bahamas, Joaquin moved northeast towards Bermuda, hitting the small island with wind gusts up to 64 miles per hour. Now the storm is leaving Bermuda and heading towards Europe.
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''The south of the island near Clarencetown was just obliterated,'' Photojournalist Eddy Rafael told The Weather Channel. ''People were running into the streets and making signals to land. You could see people tearing toward the airport '... thinking that we were going to head on to the airport. Which was kind of devastating; it really brought tears to your eyes that we couldn't come.''
On Saturday, Joaquin re-intensified, reaching wind speed levels just short of a Category 5 storm. Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach noted that Joaquin was ''the first Category 4 hurricane to track through The Bahamas in October since 1866,'' according to The Weather Channel.
After devastating the Bahamas, Joaquin moved northeast towards Bermuda, hitting the small island with wind gusts up to 64 miles per hour. Now the storm is leaving Bermuda and heading towards Europe.
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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].
FACT SHEET: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Boosts Made in America Exports, Supports Higher-Paying American Jobs, and Protects American Workers
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:43
Today, the United States reached agreement with its eleven partner countries, concluding negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new, high-standard trade agreement that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses, supporting more Made in America exports and higher-paying American jobs. By eliminating over 18,000 taxes '' in the form of tariffs '' that various countries put on Made in America products, TPP makes sure our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small businesses can compete - and win - in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world. With more than 95 percent of the world's consumers living outside our borders, TPP will significantly expand the export of Made in America goods and services and support American jobs.
TPP Eliminates over 18,000 Different Taxes on Made in America Exports
TPP levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses by eliminating over 18,000 taxes that various countries impose on Made in America exports, providing unprecedented access to vital new markets in the Asia-Pacific region for U.S. workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. For example, TPP will eliminate and reduce import taxes '' or tariffs '' on the following Made in America exports to TPP countries:
U.S. manufactured products: TPP eliminates import taxes on every Made in America manufactured product that the U.S. exports to TPP countries. For example, TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 59 percent on U.S. machinery products exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $56 billion in machinery products to TPP countries.U.S. agriculture products: TPP cuts import taxes on Made in America agricultural exports to TPP countries. Key tax cuts in the agreement will help American farmers and ranchers by expanding their exports, which provide roughly 20 percent of all farm income in the United States. For example, TPP will eliminate import taxes as high as 40 percent on U.S. poultry products, 35 percent on soybeans, and 40 percent on fruit exports. Additionally, TPP will help American farmers and ranchers compete by tackling a range of barriers they face abroad, including ensuring that foreign regulations and agricultural inspections are based on science, eliminating agricultural export subsidies, and minimizing unpredictable export bans.U.S.automotive products: TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 70 percent on U.S. automotive products exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $89 billion in automotive products to TPP countries.U.S.information and communication technology products: TPP eliminates import taxes as high as 35 percent on U.S. information and communication technology exports to TPP countries. In 2014, the U.S. exported $36 billion in information and communication technology products to TPP countries.TPP Includes the Strongest Worker Protections of Any Trade Agreement in History
TPP puts American workers first by establishing the highest labor standards of any trade agreementin history, requiring all countries to meet core, enforceable labor standards as stated in the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
The fully-enforceable labor standards we have won in TPP include the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively; prohibitions against child labor and forced labor; requirements for acceptable conditions of work such as minimum wage, hours of work, and safe workplace conditions; and protections against employment discrimination. These enforceable requirements will help our workers compete fairly and reverse a status quo that disadvantages our workers through a race to the bottom on international labor standards.
In fact, TPP will result in the largest expansion of fully-enforceable labor rights in history, including renegotiating NAFTA and bringing hundreds of millions of additional people under ILO standards '' leveling the playing field for American workers so that they can win in the global economy.
TPP Includes the Strongest Environmental Protections of Any Trade Agreement in History
TPP includes the highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history. The agreement upgrades NAFTA, putting environmental protections at the core of theagreement, and making those obligations fully enforceable through the same type of dispute settlement as other obligations.
TPP requires all members to combat wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing, as well as prohibit some of the most harmful fishery subsidies and promote sustainable fisheries management practices. TPP also requires that the 12 countries promote long-term conservation of whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and other marine species, as well as to protect and conserve iconic species like rhinos and elephants. And TPP cracks down on ozone-depleting substances as well as ship pollution of the oceans, all while promoting cooperative efforts to address energy efficiency.
TPP Helps Small Businesses Benefit from Global Trade
For the first time in any trade agreement, TPP includes a chapter specifically dedicated to helping small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from trade. Small businesses are one of the primary drivers of job growth in the U.S., but too often trade barriers lock small businesses out of important foreign markets when they try to export their Made in America goods. While 98 percent of the American companies that export are small and medium-sized businesses, less than 5 percent of all American small businesses export. That means there's huge untapped potential for small businesses to expand their businesses by exporting more to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside our borders.
TPP addresses trade barriers that pose disproportionate challenges to small businesses, such as high taxes, overly complex trade paperwork, corruption, customs ''red tape,'' restrictions on Internet data flows, weak logistics services that raise costs, and slow delivery of small shipments. TPP makes it cheaper, easier, and faster for American small businesses to get their products to market by creating efficient and transparent procedures that move goods quickly across borders.
TPP Promotes E-Commerce, Protects Digital Freedom, and Preserves an Open Internet
TPP includes cutting-edge rules to promote Internet-based commerce '' a central area of American leadership, and one of the world's great opportunities for growth. The agreement also includes strong rules that make sure the best innovation, not trade barriers and censorship laws, shapes how digital markets grow. TPP helps preserve the single, global, digital marketplace.
TPP does this by preserving free international movement of data, ensuring that individuals, small businesses, and families in all TPP countries can take advantage of online shopping, communicate efficiently at low cost, and access, move, and store data freely. TPP also bans ''forced localization'' - the discriminatory requirement that certain governments impose on U.S. businesses that they place their data, servers, research facilities, and other necessities overseas in order to access those markets.
TPP includes standards to protect digital freedom, including the free flow of information across borders - ensuring that Internet users can store, access, and move their data freely, subject to public-interest regulation, for example to fight spamming and cyber-crime.
TPP Levels the Playing Field for U.S. Workers by Disciplining State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)
TPP protects American workers and businesses from unfair competition by State-owned companies in other countries, who are often given preferential treatment that allows them to undercut U.S. competitors. This includes the first-ever disciplines to ensure that SOEs compete on a commercial basis and that the advantages SOEs receive from their governments, such as unfair subsidies, do not have an adverse impact on American workers and businesses.
TPP Prioritizes Good Governance and Fighting Corruption
TPP includes the strongest standards for transparency and anticorruption of any trade agreement in history. As such, TPP strengthens good governance in TPP countries by requiring them to ratify or accede to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), commit to adopt or maintain laws that criminalize bribing public officials, adopt measures to decrease conflicts of interest, commit to effectively enforce anticorruption laws and regulations, and give citizens the opportunity to provide input on any proposed measures relating to issues covered by the TPP agreement. TPP also requires regulatory transparency policies based on standard U.S. practice.
TPP Includes First Ever Development Chapter
For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, TPP includes stand-alone chapters dedicated to development and capacity-building, as well as a wide range of commitments to promote sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, reduce poverty, promote food security, and combat child and forced labor.
TPP Capitalizes on America's Position as the World Leader in Services Exports
TPP lifts complex restrictions and bans on access for U.S. businesses '' including many small businesses '' that export American services like retail, communications, logistics, entertainment, software and more. This improved access will unlock new economic opportunities for the U.S. services industry, which currently employs about 4 out of every 5 American workers.
Learn more about the deal and share it:
The Trade Page Retweet @WhiteHouse on Twitter
Roger Waters slams Bon Jovi over Israel concert
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:42
"The former Pink Floyd bassist, long an opponent of Israel's stance toward Palestine, accused Jon Bon Jovi and his band mates of standing "shoulder to shoulder" with Israel before listing many of the casualties suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government in an op-ed for Salon. Waters has routinely called on his fellow artists to boycott performing in Israel."
Agreement Reached on the Fascist TPP Trade Deal '' Obama Waiting with Fast Track in Hand
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:41
by Scott Creighton
UPDATE: Oh look. Bernie Sanders is ''disappointed'' that the TPP deal was reached and vows to ''do everything he can'' to stop it from becoming law.
10 whole people showed up to protest the TPP in Atlanta on Thursday. I guess everyone else was busy making up signs that read ''Bloomberg's Mental Hygiene Laws NOW!''
After Sunday's minor setback, business leaders, corporate lawyers and other scumbags met long into the night and have apparently twisted enough arms, bribed enough officials or sacrificed enough little brown babies to come to a working agreement on their precious Trans Pacific Partnership, the fascist ''trade'' bill they keep secret even from themselves.
Pacific Rim trade ministers reached a deal on a sweeping trade pact that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries (the USA, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), an official familiar with the talks said on Monday. Sputnik International
The agreement will unify trade standards and other legal barriers to globalist free market warfare between 12 nations including the USA, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
In what has got to be an attempt at humor, the Wall Street Journal pretended there would still be substantial debate in congress regarding this fascist corporate bill of rights.
''Resolving final differences in the pact will set the stage for debates within national legislatures, with the U.S. Congress likely posing the biggest challenge'' Wall Street Journal
I guess they forgot about ObamaGod being given Fast Track authority a couple months ago in anticipation of this very day.
With something as big as the TPP (and the TTIP), the One Party (the Business Party) legislators we have here in the states will be more than willing to put an end to their political careers in order to vote for it knowing full well, service like that in corporatist America will always be rewarded. Trying to pretend Obama will have a tough time getting the votes for this thing with the tiny little ''debate'' which will be allowed on the hill is like trying to pretend the Patriots don't cheat with regularity. Sure, you can believe it. But it takes a certain outlook on life to do so.
As Eugene Debbs and Smedley Butler roll over in their graves, the Ayn Randians of America are hosting victory orgies, smearing cannabis oil all over their genitalia and making themselves ready for the Objectivist Nirvana the TPP will usher in.
You know that ghoul who bragged about upping the price of some medication he bought the rights to from $13.00 a pill to $750? Thanks to the TPP and the glorious free market revolution to come, that prick will be able to sue the US government for all the lost profits in their super secret corporate lawyer staffed tribunal and we can pretty much guess how that will turn out.
As the worm turns in Syria and the project for a Greater Kurdistan falls apart, the fascists look to lock in as much of the Grand Pie as they can. Not surprising they cobbled together a deal in the wake of their flailing nation building effort.
Meanwhile, Barack ''CHANGE'' Obama moves just a little closer to his very own Clinton Globalist Initiative slush fund. You gotta pay greatness for great feats and the quiet transition of our open society into a full on fascist state is no small accomplishment for the Drone President of Peace.
Now all he's got to do is get those guns.
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Filed under: Fascism, fascism in America, Fascism², Fast Track 2015, Scott Creighton, TPP, TTIP
Hillary's Homosexual Platform | Real Jew News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:39
Elections 2016, America In Decline Articles
Hillary's Homosexual PlatformBy Brother Nathanael KapnerOctober 5, 2015(C)
Support The Brother Nathanael Foundation!Br Nathanael Fnd Is Tax Exempt/EIN 27-2983459
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HILLARY NOW PROMISES that homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgender perversion will be the central pillar of her administration.Speaking before hundreds of Jews and sexual perverts at the Jewish-fundedHuman Rights Campaign on Saturday, Hillary told the cheering perverts what her campaign was all about:
''I'm running for president to stand up for the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans.''
That's the best reason for running for president this country has ever heard!
To stand up for men to have anal sex with one another's feces'... for women to insert plastic penises into one another's vaginas'...and for men to impersonate women, (Bruce Jenner), is truly a patriotic pursuit that our Founding Fathers would be proud of.
That's why this country is going to hell. And Hillary will put the finishing touches to bring down God's judgment on this Jew-ruined nation.
For it was the Jews who struck down the definition of marriage at the Supreme Court.
And it was the Jews who legislated sodomite marriages as the law of the land in opposition to God's creational order.
To stand up for the RIGHTS OF JEWS to wreck the morality of America is what Hillary's campaign is really all about.
For with Jewish donors like George Soros lining up to throw their billions behind Hillary, campaigning for homosexuality guarantees big Jewish bucks.
For nothing pleases Jews (like George Soros) than to see Christian teaching toppled and all kinds of sexual deviancy holding sway.
AND WHAT MORE 'rights' do the Jews want for homosexuals?
The 'right' to have sex with minors? The 'right' to engage in bestiality? The 'right' to demand that Christian ministers join them in 'holy matrimony?'
What was once hidden is now out in the open. What was considered a shame is now a political platform.
A philosophizing man once said, ''The Jews are our misfortune.''
And Hillary is about to bring that ''misfortune'' down on us all.
How Phones Will Change Under Net Neutrality Rules | TheBlot
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:11
The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules applied to mobile broadband companies will be both good and bad for consumers in the long run.
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broke his silence on what the future of the Internet could (and likely will) soon look like in America '-- both on your computer and on your phone.
In an opinion piece published Thursday on Wired.com, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed re-classifying broadband Internet as a public utility under Title II which would, among other things, prevent companies from blocking access to legal content, slowing down connections to services without a paid arrangement or favoring their own affiliated services over unaffiliated ones.
It seeks to undo many of the problems created for consumers following a federal court's decision to overturn the FCC's ''Open Internet'' rules in 2013 '-- chief among them, a situation where Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and AT&T slowed down connections to Netflix and other streaming services until those companies agreed to pay the ISPs for a direct connection to their customers.
Read more: Netflix Goes to War with Verizon Over Connection SpeedsBut while the original Open Internet rules drafted in 2010 applied mainly to broadband companies like Comcast and Time Warner, the new proposal would go further by imposing the same regulation on mobile Internet companies like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, impacting the Internet service in millions of pockets across the country.
''Today, 55 percent of Internet traffic is carried over wireless networks,'' the FCC said in a four-page summary released Thursday. ''This proposal extends protection to consumers no matter how they access the Internet '-- whether on their desktop computer or mobile devices.''
The proposal is a breakthrough one that will have significant impact on many services offered to consumers by wireless companies as well as the limitations those companies currently use in order to make money '-- sometimes to the benefit, but often at the expense, of the consumers they serve. Here's a look at how the FCC's new net neutrality rules are likely to impact mobile Internet service, for better or worse:
No More Throttling Unlimited Customers(HuffingtonPost.com photo)
When AT&T began offering the iPhone all the way back in 2007, it saw no reason to change the mobile Internet plans offered to BlackBerry, Palm and other ''smartphone'' customers. Several years later, companies like AT&T and Verizon realized that the mass adoption of smartphones across America coupled with their unlimited data plans were crippling their networks. So, for the most part, they did away with them '-- customers who left one company for another, changed their phone plans or (in some cases) upgraded to a new phone were subjected to new plans where the more they paid, the more data they were allowed to use. Once they used up their data, their mobile Internet service either ended or they were subjected to overage charges.
The one big exception were existing customers who agreed to stay with a network in exchange for being ''grandfathered'' in to their unlimited data plan. As long as they didn't ditch one company for another or change their phone plan, they could keep their unlimited data plan. Although the number of customers still on unlimited data plans is shrinking, millions of grandfathered customers still receive unlimited data plans through AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Read more: Verizon's Big Push Against Net Neutrality BackfiresThe conversion rate from unlimited to tiered data wasn't fast enough for Verizon Wireless. Last year, as part of a ''network management approach,'' big red began slowing down '-- or ''throttling'' '-- the connection speeds of some of its unlimited data customers. When customers began to notice, they got upset. So, too, did FCC chairman Wheeler.
''Reasonable network management concerns the technical management of your network,'' Wheeler wrote in a letter to Verizon last year. ''It is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams '... I know of no past [FCC] statement that would treat as 'reasonable network management' a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for unlimited service.''
Under Wheeler's proposal announced on Thursday, Verizon and other companies would be prevented from trying that stunt a second time. If a company like Verizon or T-Mobile continues to offer a plan to customers advertising ''unlimited'' broadband speed, they would have to offer a consistent speed throughout.
However, the proposal would not have an impact on service plans that offer customers broadband speed for a set amount of data. In other words, it would still allow companies like Verizon and T-Mobile to offer low-cost broadband plans that cap fast speeds to a ''bucket'' of data '-- typically 1, 3, 5 and 10 GB '-- before slowing down speeds. The rules could also open the door for mobile Internet companies to offer tiered plans based on service speed instead of data buckets similar to how home Internet service is sold.
''Sponsored Data'' Out; ''Music Unlimited'' May Go, Too((C) Richard Levine/Demotix/Corbis photo)
When AT&T announced it would begin offering ''sponsored data'' last year, it caused an uproar among net neutrality defenders. When T-Mobile announced it would stop counting certain music streaming services against a user's allotment of data, the incentive triggered only a ripple of criticism '-- even though, like ''sponsored data,'' it goes against the principle of pure net neutrality.
Under the proposals outlined on Thursday, AT&T's ''sponsored data'' would be prohibited because the program would be considered a ''pay for play'' scheme. AT&T's sponsored data program allows customers to use a service as much as they want without their activity counting against their data cap, but only if the service pays AT&T for the privilege (to date, most of the companies that have signed up for the sponsored data program have been mobile marketing services).
But while it seem like T-Mobile's ''Music Unlimited'' plan would also be banned, just the opposite might actually be true. Under that plan, T-Mobile whitelists certain streaming music services from counting against a user's data allotment '-- allowing customers to stream music and other audio from companies like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio and Google Play Music without having to fear going over their data cap. Although T-Mobile hasn't been entirely transparent about how it partners with companies, it has made an effort to encourage streaming music services to contact them for a possible partnership, and '-- unlike AT&T's sponsored data program '-- it does not appear to charge companies in exchange for the benefit.
Read more: Where Does Comcast Really Stand on Net Neutrality?So why would AT&T be prohibited from offering essentially the same type of program while T-Mobile would be allowed? An FCC official explained to The Verge that the proposals offer a little wiggle room that would allow the Commission to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the plans offer a significant benefit to consumers or create enough detriment to companies that aren't part of the programs. Since the benefit of T-Mobile's ''Music Unlimited'' plan appears to offer more of a benefit than a detriment, it will almost certainly still be allowed '-- and competitors like Sprint and Verizon could argue as much if they wanted to steal the idea for their own customers.
Still, some die-hard net neutrality proponents say all data consideration programs should be outright banned.
''[Net neutrality] is not just about blocking and throttling,'' Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee wrote in a recent blog post. ''It is also about stopping 'positive discrimination,' such as when one internet operator favors one particular service over another.''
Berners-Lee (who wrote his post in support of network neutrality in Europe) said allowing any kind of free-data-for-some programs '-- even if it creates a benefit for consumers '-- grants broadband providers the ability to act as gatekeepers which, in turn, could chill innovation and stifle startups.
''Imagine if a new start-up or service provider had to ask permission from or pay a fee to a competitor before they could attract customers?'' Berners-Lee hypothesized. ''This sounds a lot like bribery or market abuse '-- but it is exactly the type of scenario we would see if we depart from net neutrality.''
In a comment on the website The Verge, Internet user Adam Meddaugh argued that net neutrality ''isn't a pick-and-choose affair.'' ''You either take net neutrality or you don't,'' he wrote. ''We shouldn't be bastardizing it by allowing certain things that clearly violate the principle of it.''
Price Might Go Up '-- But Maybe They Won'tWhen provisions of the Credit Reform Act banned banks from re-tooling their daily ledgers with respect to how checks and debit card purchases were processed and blocked banks from charging overdraft fees without a customer's permission, financial institutions began looking for other ways to make money.
One such program tested by some banks, including Bank of America, involved charging customers a flat per-month fee to make debit card purchases. That money-making tactic proved immensely unpopular, and banks eventually dropped their plan to charge for debit card use after customers began leaving for competitors (eventually, banks settled on charging for things like money transfers and hiking out-of-network ATM use fees).
Switching from one bank to another is easy: In most cases, customers pay outstanding debts, withdraw their cash and close their account. But thanks to lengthy service contracts, switching from one phone company to another can be a costly hassle.
Until a few years ago, there was little incentive for wireless carriers to compete with each other on plans and prices. The most-marketable quality of a wireless company was the size and strength of their network '-- maps were drawn and manipulated to show one company as a coverage leader while another company touted the speed of their 3G (and eventually LTE) service. Phone plans were rarely, if ever, promoted because wireless companies were often increasing their costs to consumers.
It wasn't until T-Mobile began attracting customers with radically-reduced, no-contract, cancel-anytime plans that companies began re-thinking their approach to charging consumers for minuscule amounts of minutes and data. To counter T-Mobile, most did away with minute allotments, offering free calling and texting with a focus on ''buckets'' of data '-- the more you paid, the more data you got.
These days, wireless companies focus less on their coverage maps and more on their budget individual and family phone plans. T-Mobile is widely credited with starting this trend '-- but the FCC could be to blame for reversing it.
By regulating what an ''unlimited'' plan should look like and doing away with things like sponsored data programs, wireless carriers may soon revert to their old ways of gouging customers in order to make a buck. Data caps and tiered plans based on connection speeds aren't prohibited under Wheeler's proposal. There's also nothing requiring a wireless provider to bundle certain services together the way most currently do for talk, text and data.
Read more: Michael Musto: The Horror of Dealing with Verizon Customer ServiceIn the future, wireless companies could recoup missed profits from the departure of sponsored data and other programs by charging customers more money for less data caps in addition to charging for access to certain transfer speeds. It could also force wireless companies to completely drop ''unlimited'' data plans, forcing once-grandfathered customers to accept plans with data caps and speed limitations or go without mobile service entirely. Companies could also require all customers purchase separate talk, text and data plans in order to get any service, even if a customer doesn't want to text or use data (some already require smartphone users to buy a base data package, while ''basic phone'' customers can opt-out).
Though all of these are a possibility, it seems the more-extreme examples are unlikely. For the past few years, T-Mobile has built a brand on offering customers a choice in reduced-price, all-inclusive plans with the option to leave the company whenever a customer wants '-- something T-Mobile calls the ''un-carrier movement.'' The company also offered to ''buy out'' a customer's existing contract with a competitor (customers pay cancellation fees, and T-Mobile reimburses those fees with a prepaid debit card). Since the un-carrier initiative launched several years ago, customers have been flocking to T-Mobile; the company has grown subscribers for several quarters. The sudden growth of T-Mobile's subscriber base has challenged other wireless companies to re-think their pricing plans '-- many of them have lowered costs, though not as drastically as T-Mobile.
If T-Mobile were to suddenly change its tune because of new FCC regulations on its mobile Internet service, it would almost certainly anger the customers who traded Verizon's reliable nationwide network for T-Mobile's ''works in most places, but, hey, you pay a lot less with no caps and all-you-can-stream'' plans. T-Mobile has reinvented its brand '-- partially through innovation, mostly through marketing '-- on the idea that big wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon are screwing customers left and right by gouging them for sub-standard services.
But at the end of the day, the big wireless companies are all for-profit machines with shareholders to appease. Their main motivating factor is growing customers and making money. Tighter regulations '-- no matter how good for consumers '-- usually leads to companies crafting devious and sneaky plans to charge customers more under the guise or promise of better service. Anyone would be naive to think the wireless companies are any different.
Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.
Patreon Hacked; Gigabytes of Source Code and User Data Dumped Online
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:03
Hackers have published almost 15 gigabytes' worth of password data, donation records, and source code taken during the recent hack of the Patreon funding website.
Further ReadingThe data has been circulating in various online locations and was reposted here by someone who said it wasn't immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the data. Security researcher Troy Hunt has since downloaded the archive file, inspected its contents, and concluded that they almost certainly came from Patreon servers. He said the amount and type of data posted by the hackers suggest the breach was more extensive and potentially damaging to users than he previously assumed."The fact that source code exists ... is interesting [and] suggests much more than just a typical SQL injection attack and points to a broader compromise," he told Ars. Referring to the inclusion of a 13.7-gigabyte database, he added: "At the very least, it means mapping individuals with the Patreon campaigns they supported. There's more data. I'll look closer once the restore is complete."
He said unpacking such a large archive file, sorting through its contents, and loading various MySQL database files takes time. Hunt, who maintains the widely visited have i been pwned? website, said he expected to index affected e-mail addresses on the service as soon as possible. Update 1: Hunt has now been able to sift through the data and has found 2.3 million unique e-mail addresses, including his own.
Further ReadingAccording to Patreon officials, user passwords were cryptographically protected using bcrypt, a hashing function that's extremely slow and computationally demanding to use. Its use was one of the saving graces of the breach, since it meant crackers would have to devote vast amounts of time and resources to crack the hashes. With the inclusion of source code, however, it's possible crackers may find programming mistakes that could significantly accelerate the process. That's precisely what crackers did last month to bcrypt-hashed password data taken during the hack of the cheaters dating website Ashley Madison. Access to the source code may also expose the encryption key said to protect social security numbers and tax IDs.Hunt isn't the only one to view the contents. Several people have posted screenshots of the purported Patreon data on social media sites, including the image included at the top of this post. If authentic, some of the contents were generated on Patreon servers as recently as September 24. As this Ars post was being prepared, a variety of Patreon subscribers, including this one, took to Twitter to say they found their e-mail addresses in the dump.
Patreon subscribers should make sure they have changed their compromised password, both on Patreon and on any other websites it may have been used. Patreon users should also be prepared for the very real possibility that anything they did on the donations site is now a permanent part of the Internet record.
Update 2: Hunt said the release appears to include the entire database taken in the hack, including a fair number of private messages sent and received by users. "Obviously all the campaigns, supporters and pledges are there too," he wrote in one tweet. "You can determine how much those using Patreon are making." In a separate tweet, he wrote: "The dollar figure for the Patreon campaigns isn't the issue, it's supporters identities, messages, etc. Everything private now public."
What became of Trade Secrets
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:00
Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 6:00 AM
I did a podcast in 2004 with Adam Curry called Trade Secrets.
The website is archived here.
Originally it was at tradesecrets.com, a domain which I later gave away. The links to the MP3s on that site are broken.
However, I have a separate zip archive of the MP3s.
And an OPML file with descriptions of each of the episodes.
PS: It's somewhat demonstrative of the archiving problem to note that in 2008 I thought I had rescued these files once and for all, for all posterity, only to find that I remapped the podcatch.com domain, and in doing so broke all the links. This time it's all on scripting.com. That will be the last domain I decommission. But in a couple of years this stuff will probably all be gone, yet again.
By Dave Winer, Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 6:00 AM. Ask not what the Internet can do for you...
US Tax Dollars and Ukraine's Finance Minister
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:51
Special Report: Though touted as the face of reform inside Ukraine's post-coup regime, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko enriched herself at the expense of a U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund '' and USAID now says it's missing some of the audit records detailing Jaresko's dealings, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The U.S. government is missing '' or withholding '' audit documents about the finances and possible accounting irregularities at a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund when it was run by Ukraine's Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of ''reform'' for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and who now oversees billions of dollars in Western financial aid.
Before taking Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister in December 2014, Jaresko was a former U.S. diplomat who served as chief executive officer of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by Congress in the 1990s with $150 million and placed under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help jumpstart an investment economy in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
After Jaresko's appointment as Finance Minister '-- and her resignation from WNISEF '-- I reviewed WNISEF's available public records and detected a pattern of insider dealings and enrichment benefiting Jaresko and various colleagues. That prompted me in February to file a Freedom of Information Act request for USAID's audits of the investment fund.
Though the relevant records were identified by June, USAID dragged its feet on releasing the 34 pages to me until Aug. 28 when the agency claimed nothing was being withheld, saying ''all 34 pages are releasable in their entirety.''
However, when I examined the documents, it became clear that a number of pages were missing from the financial records, including a total of three years of ''expense analysis'' '' in three-, six- and nine-month gaps '' since 2007. Perhaps even more significant was a missing paragraph that apparently would have addressed an accounting irregularity found by KPMG auditors.
KPMG's ''Independent Auditors' Report'' for 2013 and 2014 states that ''except as discussed in the third paragraph below, we conducted our audits in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America,'' accountant-speak that suggests that ''the third paragraph below'' would reveal some WNISEF activity that did not comply with generally accepted accounting principles (or GAAP).
But three paragraphs below was only white space and there was no next page in what USAID released.
Based on the one page that was released for 2013-14, this most recent audit also lacked the approval language used in previous audits, in which KPMG wrote: ''In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements '... present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of Western NIS Enterprise Fund and subsidiaries.'' That language was not in the 2013-14 analysis, as released by USAID.
The KPMG report for 2013-14 does note that ''The [audit] procedures selected depend on the auditors' judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. '... An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of significant accounting estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements.''
That page then ends, ''We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinion.'' But the opinion is not there.
After I brought these discrepancies to the attention of USAID on Aug. 31, I was told on Sept. 15 that ''we are in the process of locating documents to address your concern. We expect a response from the bureau and/or mission by Monday, September 28, 2015.''
After the Sept. 28 deadline passed, I contacted USAID again and was told on Oct. 2 that officials were ''still working with the respective mission to obtain the missing documents.''
Yet, whether USAID's failure to include the missing documents was just a bureaucratic foul-up or a willful attempt to shield Jaresko from criticism, the curious gaps add to the impression that the management of WNISEF fell short of the highest standards for efficiency and ethics.
A previous effort by Jaresko's ex-husband Ihor Figlus to blow the whistle on what he considered improper business practices related to WNISEF was met by disinterest inside USAID, according to Figlus, and then led to Jaresko suing him in a Delaware court in 2012, using a confidentiality clause to silence Figlus and getting a court order to redact references to the abuses he was trying to expose.
Feeding at the Taxpayer Trough
Other public documents indicate that Jaresko and fellow WNISEF insiders enriched themselves through their association with the U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund. For instance, though Jaresko was limited to making $150,000 a year at WNISEF under the USAID grant agreement, she managed to earn more than that amount, reporting in 2004 that she was paid $383,259 along with $67,415 in expenses, according to WNISEF's filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
Among the audit documents that I received under FOIA, the ''Expense Analysis'' for 2004 shows $1,282,782 being paid out as ''Exit-based incentive expense-equity incentive plan'' and another $478,195 being paid for ''Exit-based incentive expense-financial participation rights.'' That would suggest that Jaresko more than doubled her $150,000 salary by claiming bonuses from WNISEF's investments (bought with U.S. taxpayers' money) and sold during 2004.
Jaresko's compensation for her work with WNISEF was removed from public disclosure altogether after she co-founded two related entities in 2006: Horizon Capital Associates (HCA) to manage WNISEF's investments (and collect around $1 million a year in fees) and Emerging Europe Growth Fund (EEGF), a private entity to collaborate with WNISEF on investment deals.
Jaresko formed HCA and EEGF with two other WNISEF officers, Mark Iwashko and Lenna Koszarny. They also started a third firm, Horizon Capital Advisors, which ''serves as a sub-advisor to the Investment Manager, HCA,'' according to WNISEF's IRS filing for 2006.
According to the FOIA-released expense analyses for 2004-06, the taxpayer-financed WNISEF spent $1,049,987 to establish EEGF as a privately owned investment fund for Jaresko and her colleagues. USAID apparently found nothing suspicious about these tangled business relationships despite the potential conflicts of interest involving Jaresko, the other WNISEF officers and their affiliated companies.
For instance, WNISEF's 2012 annual report devoted two pages to ''related party transactions,'' including the management fees to Jaresko's Horizon Capital ($1,037,603 in 2011 and $1,023,689 in 2012) and WNISEF's co-investments in projects with the EEGF, where Jaresko was founding partner and chief executive officer. Jaresko's Horizon Capital managed the investments of both WNISEF and EEGF.
From 2007 to 2011, WNISEF co-invested $4.25 million with EEGF in Kerameya LLC, a Ukrainian brick manufacturer, and WNISEF sold EEGF 15.63 percent of Moldova's Fincombank for $5 million, the report said. It also listed extensive exchanges of personnel and equipment between WNISEF and Horizon Capital. But it's difficult for an outsider to ascertain the relative merits of these insider deals '-- and the transactions apparently raised no red flags for USAID officials, nor during that time for KPMG auditors.
Bonuses, Bonuses
Regarding compensation, WNISEF's 2013 filing with the IRS noted that the fund's officers collected millions of dollars in more bonuses for closing out some investments at a profit even as the overall fund was losing money. According to the filing, WNISEF's $150 million nest egg had shrunk by more than one-third to $94.5 million and likely has declined much more during the economic chaos that followed the U.S.-backed coup in February 2014.
But prior to the coup and the resulting civil war, Jaresko's WNISEF was generously spreading money around to various insiders. For instance, the 2013 IRS filing reported that the taxpayer-financed fund paid out as ''expenses'' $7.7 million under a bonus program, including $4.6 million to ''current officers,'' without identifying who received the money although Jaresko was one of the ''current officers.''
WNISEF's filing made the point that the ''long-term equity incentive plan'' was ''not compensation from Government Grant funds but a separately USAID-approved incentive plan funded from investment sales proceeds'' '' although those proceeds presumably would have gone into the depleted WNISEF pool if they had not been paid out as bonuses.
The filing also said the bonuses were paid regardless of whether the overall fund was making money, noting that this ''compensation was not contingent on revenues or net earnings, but rather on a profitable exit of a portfolio company that exceeds the baseline value set by the board of directors and approved by USAID'' '' with Jaresko also serving as a director on the board responsible for setting those baseline values.
Another WNISEF director was Jeffrey C. Neal, former chairman of Merrill Lynch's global investment banking and a co-founder of Horizon Capital, further suggesting how potentially incestuous these relationships may have become.
Though compensation for Jaresko and other officers was shifted outside public view after 2006 '' as their pay was moved to the affiliated entities '' the 2006 IRS filing says: ''It should be noted that as long as HCA earns a management fee from WNISEF, HCA and HCAD [the two Horizon Capital entities] must ensure that a salary cap of $150,000 is adhered to for the proportion of salary attributable to WNISEF funds managed relative to aggregate funds under management.''
But that language would seem to permit compensation well above $150,000 if it could be tied to other managed funds, including EEGF, or come from the bonus incentive program. Such compensation for Jaresko and the other top officers was not reported on later IRS forms despite a line for earnings from ''related organizations.'' Apparently, Horizon Capital and EEGF were regarded as ''unrelated organizations'' for the purposes of reporting compensation.
The KPMG auditors also took a narrow view of compensation only confirming that no ''salary'' exceeded $150,000, apparently not looking at bonuses and other forms of compensation.
Neither AID officials nor Jaresko responded to specific questions about WNISEF's possible conflicts of interest, how much money Jaresko made from her involvement with WNISEF and its connected companies, and whether she had fully complied with IRS reporting requirements.
Gagging an Ex-Husband
In 2012, when Jaresko's ex-husband Figlus began talking about what he saw as improper loans that Jaresko had taken from Horizon Capital Associates to buy and expand her stake in EEGF, the privately held follow-on fund to WNISEF, Jaresko sent her lawyers to court to silence him and, according to his lawyer, bankrupt him.
The filings in Delaware's Chancery Court are remarkable not only because Jaresko succeeded in getting the Court to gag her ex-husband through enforcement of a non-disclosure agreement but the Court agreed to redact nearly all the business details, even the confidentiality language at the center of the case.
Since Figlus had given some of his information to a Ukrainian journalist, Jaresko's complaint also had the look of a leak investigation, tracking down Figlus's contacts with the journalist and then using that evidence to secure the restraining order, which Figlus said not only prevented him from discussing business secrets but even talking about his more general concerns about Jaresko's insider dealings.
The heavy redactions make it hard to fully understand Figlus's concerns or to assess the size of Jaresko's borrowing as she expanded her holdings in EEGF, but Figlus did assert that he saw his role as whistle-blowing about improper actions by Jaresko.
In a Oct. 31, 2012, filing, Figlus's attorney wrote that ''At all relevant times, Defendant [Figlus] acted in good faith and with justification, on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein where such inequitable conduct adversely affects '... at least one other limited partner which is REDACTED, and specifically the inequitable conduct included, in addition to the other conduct cited herein, REDACTED.''
The defendant's filing argued: ''The Plaintiffs' [Jaresko's and her EEGF partners'] claims are barred, in whole or in part, by public policy, and particularly that a court in equity should not enjoin 'whistle-blowing' activities on matters of public interest, and particularly the inequitable conduct set forth herein.'' But the details of that conduct were all redacted.
In a defense brief dated Dec. 17, 2012 [see Part One and Part Two], Figlus expanded on his argument that Jaresko's attempts to have the court gag him amounted to a violation of his constitutional right of free speech:
''The obvious problem with the scope of their Motion is that Plaintiffs are asking the Court to enter an Order that prohibits Defendant Figlus from exercising his freedom of speech without even attempting to provide the Court with any Constitutional support or underpinning for such impairment of Figlus' rights.
''Plaintiffs cannot do so, because such silencing of speech is Constitutionally impermissible, and would constitute a denial of basic principles of the Bill of Rights in both the United States and Delaware Constitutions. There can be no question that Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction, which constitutes a prior restraint on speech. '...
''The Court cannot, consistent with the Federal and State Constitutional guarantees of free speech, enjoin speech except in the most exceptional circumstances, and certainly not when Plaintiffs are seeking to prevent speech that is not even covered by the very contractual provision upon which they are relying. Moreover, the Court cannot prevent speech where the matter has at least some public interest REDACTED, except as limited to the very specific and exact language of the speaker's contractual obligation.''
A Redacted Narrative
Figlus also provided a narrative of events as he saw them as a limited partner in EEGF, saying he initially ''believed everything she [Jaresko] was doing, you know, was proper.'' Later, however, Figlus ''learned that Jaresko began borrowing money from HCA REDACTED, but again relied on his spouse, and did not pay attention to the actual financial transactions'...
''In early 2010, after Jaresko separated from Figlus, she presented Figlus with, and requested that he execute, a 'Security Agreement,' pledging the couple's partnership interest to the repayment of the loans from HCA. This was Figlus first realization of the amount of loans that Jaresko had taken, and that the partnership interest was being funded through this means. '... By late 2011, Jaresko had borrowed approximately REDACTED from HCA to both fund the partnership interest REDACTED. The loans were collateralized only by the EEFG partnership interest. '...
''Figlus became increasingly concerned about the partnership and the loans that had been and continued to be given to the insiders to pay for their partnership interests, while excluding other limited partners. Although Figlus was not sophisticated in these matters, he considered that it was inappropriate that HCA was giving loans to insiders to fund their partnership interests, but to no other partners. '...
''He talked to an individual at U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C., because the agency was effectively involved as a limited partner because of the agency's funding and supervision over WNISEF, but the agency employee did not appear interested in pursuing the question.''
In the court proceedings, Jaresko's lawyers mocked Figlus's claims that he was acting as a whistle-blower, claiming that he was actually motivated by a desire ''to harm his ex-wife'' and had violated the terms of his non-disclosure agreement, which the lawyers convinced the court to exclude from the public record.
The plaintiffs' brief [see Part One and Part Two] traced Figlus's contacts with the Ukrainian reporter whose name is also redacted: ''Figlus, having previously received an audit from the General Partner, provided it to REDACTED [the Ukrainian reporter] with full knowledge that the audit was non-public. Also on or about October 2, 2012, REDACTED [the reporter] contacted multiple Limited Partners, informed them that he possessed 'documented proof' of alleged impropriety by the General Partner and requested interviews concerning that alleged impropriety.''
The filing noted that on Oct. 3, 2012, the reporter told Figlus that Jaresko ''called two REDACTED [his newspaper's] editors last night crying, not me, for some reason.'' (The Ukrainian story was never published.)
After the competing filings, Jaresko's lawyers successfully secured a restraining order against Figlus from the Delaware Chancery Court and continued to pursue the case against him though his lawyer has asserted that his client would make no further effort to expose these financial dealings and was essentially broke.
On May 14, 2014, Figlus filed a complaint with the court claiming that he was being denied distributions from his joint interest in EEGF and saying he was told that it was because the holding was pledged as security against the loans taken out by Jaresko. But, on the same day, Jaresko's lawyer, Richard P. Rollo, contradicted that assertion, saying information about Figlus's distributions was being withheld because EEGF and Horizon Capital ''faced significant business interruptions and difficulties given the political crisis in Ukraine.''
The filing suggested that the interlocking investments between EEGF and the U.S.-taxpayer-funded WNISEF were experiencing further trouble from the political instability and civil war sweeping across Ukraine.
A Face of Reform
By December 2014, Jaresko had resigned from her WNISEF-related positions, taken Ukrainian citizenship and started her new job as Ukraine's Finance Minister. In an article about Jaresko's appointment, John Helmer, a longtime foreign correspondent in Russia, disclosed the outlines of the court dispute with Figlus and identified the Ukrainian reporter as Mark Rachkevych of the Kyiv Post.
''It hasn't been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the US Government with information supplied from their US Government positions or contacts,'' Helmer wrote. ''It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.''
When I contacted George Pazuniak, Figlus's lawyer, about Jaresko's aggressive enforcement of the non-disclosure agreement, he told me that ''at this point, it's very difficult for me to say very much without having a detrimental effect on my client.'' Pazuniak did say, however, that all the redactions were demanded by Jaresko's lawyers.
I also sent detailed questions to USAID and to Jaresko via several of her associates. Those questions included how much of the $150 million in U.S. taxpayers' money remained, why Jaresko reported no compensation from ''related organizations,'' whether she received any of the $4.6 million to WNISEF's officers in bonuses in 2013, how much money she made in total from her association with WNISEF, what AID officials did in response to Figlus's whistle-blower complaint, and whether Jaresko's legal campaign to silence her ex-husband was appropriate given her current position and Ukraine's history of secretive financial dealings.
USAID press officer Annette Y. Aulton got back to me with a response that was unresponsive to my specific questions. Rather than answering about the performance of WNISEF and Jaresko's compensation, the response commented on the relative success of 10 ''Enterprise Funds'' that AID has sponsored in Eastern Europe and added:
''There is a twenty year history of oversight of WNISEF operations. Enterprise funds must undergo an annual independent financial audit, submit annual reports to USAID and the IRS, and USAID staff conduct field visits and semi-annual reviews. At the time Horizon Capital assumed management of WNISEF, USAID received disclosures from Natalie Jaresko regarding the change in management structure and at the time USAID found no impropriety during its review.''
One Jaresko associate, Tanya Bega, Horizon Capital's investor relations manager, said she forwarded my questions to Jaresko, but Jaresko did not respond.
Despite questions about whether Jaresko improperly enriched herself at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and then used a Delaware court to prevent disclosure of possible abuses, Jaresko has been hailed by the U.S. mainstream media as the face of reform in the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime that seized power in February 2014 after a violent coup overthrew democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
For instance, last January, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman cited Jaresko as an exemplar of the new Ukrainian leaders who ''share our values'' and deserve unqualified American support. Friedman uncritically quoted Jaresko's speech to international financial leaders at Davos, Switzerland, in which she castigated Russian President Vladimir Putin:
''Putin fears a Ukraine that demands to live and wants to live and insists on living on European values '-- with a robust civil society and freedom of speech and religion [and] with a system of values the Ukrainian people have chosen and laid down their lives for.''
However, from the opaqueness of the WNISEF records and the gagging of her ex-husband, Jaresko has shown little regard for transparency or other democratic values. Similarly, USAID seems more intent on protecting Jaresko and the image of the Kiev regime than in protecting America tax dollars and ensuring that WNISEF's investments were dedicated to improving the lot of Ukrainian citizens.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (fromAmazonandbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer,click here.
US Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan Targeting Taliban '' Kills 9 Staff Members
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:47
Posted on October 3, 2015 by willyloman
(In spite of how the AP presents this story, this was clearly not an accident. This hospital was serving the people of Kunduz and probably Taliban fighters. Many of the citizens of this town want the US out of their country and provide aid to the Taliban. The strike on an active hospital, even if it only served Taliban fighters, is a war-crime and I am sure it is not the first time our forces have done something like this over there. It's probably routine. It's only due to the fact that Doctors Without Borders was there, that this story is getting any attention at all (very little at that). This is a major war-crime, targeting hospitals in conflict areas. Notice the careful choice of language: ''near'' the hospital, ''collateral damage'' and the spokesman says they ''lost'' some doctors. They didn't loose them. They killed them. They know exactly where they are.)
from the AP
Nine local staffers for Doctors Without Borders were killed and 30 were missing after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.
In a statement, the international charity said the ''sustained bombing'' took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they conducted an airstrike on Kunduz at 2:15 a.m. The spokesman, U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, said the strike ''may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility'' and that the incident was under investigation. Tribus said it was the 12th U.S. airstrike ''in the Kunduz vicinity'' since Tuesday.
Doctors Without Borders said its trauma center ''was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.'' At the time of the bombing, the hospital had 105 patients and their caretakers, and more than 80 international and Afghan staff, it said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said 10 to 15 ''terrorists'' had been hiding in the hospital at the time of the strike. ''All of the terrorists were killed but we also lost doctors,'' he told a press conference. He said 80 staff at the hospital, including 15 foreigners, had been taken to safety.
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One Day After Warning Russia of Civilian Casualties, the U.S. Bombs a Hospital in the War Obama ''Ended''
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:14
(updated below '' Update II '' Update III '' Update IV '' Update V)
Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power marched to Twitter to proclaim: ''We call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo[sition and] civilians.'' Along with that decree, she posted a statement from the U.S. and several of its closest authoritarian allies '-- including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K. '-- warning Russia that civilian casualties ''will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.''
Early this morning, in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least nine of the hospital's medical staff, and seriously injured dozens of patients. ''Among the dead was the Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar,'' reported the New York Times.
Jason Cone, MSF's executive director, said the medical charity ''condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.'' He added that ''all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul & Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of MSF facilities in Kunduz,'' and that the ''precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.'' Worst of all, from MSF itself:
For its part, the U.S. military in Afghanistan issued a statement acknowledging that it carried out airstrikes, claimed they were conducted ''against individuals threatening the force,'' and conceded that ''the strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.'' But the NYT reported: ''From early on, the Taliban had respected the hospital's request not to bring weapons inside, according to staff members, and the hospital had been a refuge in the shattered city of Kunduz. It was a place where the wounded from all sides were treated.''
The medical organization noted that ''our hospital in Kunduz was the only one of its kind in NorthEastern Afghanistan.'' It referenced a now-poignant tweet it posted earlier in the week:
Now, however, the Twitter accounts of various MSF branches are filled with horrific photographs of their staff traumatized and their hospital burning as a result of U.S. bombs:
MSF's full, frequently updated, hard-to-read account of all of this is here.
This strike on a hospital in Afghanistan comes days after the Saudi-led coalition bombed a wedding in Yemen that killed more than 130 people. After days of silence from the U.S. government '-- which has actively participated from the start in the heinous bombing of Yemen '-- Ambassador Power finally acknowledged the wedding massacre, but treated it like some natural disaster that has nothing to do with the U.S.: ''Terrible news from Yemen of killing of innocent civilians & aid workers. Urgently need pol solution to crisis,'' she tweeted.
Her accompanying statement claimed that ''the United States has no role in the targeting decisions made by the Coalition in Yemen,'' but yesterday, the Saudi Foreign Minister told CBS News that ''We work with our allies including the United States on these targets.'' There's no dispute that the U.S. has lavished Saudi Arabia with all sorts of weapons and intelligence as it carries out its civilian-massacring attacks on Yemen.
This last week has been a particularly gruesome illustration of continuous U.S. conduct under the War on Terror banner, including under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who celebrates himself for ''ending two wars'' (in the same two countries where the U.S. continues to drop bombs). The formula by now is clear: bombing whatever countries it wants, justifying it all by reflexively labeling their targets as ''terrorists,'' and then dishonestly denying or casually dismissing the civilians they slaughter as ''collateral damage.'' If one were to construct a list of all the countries in the world based on their credibility to condemn Russia for using this exact rhetorical template in Syria, the U.S. would literally be last on that list.
UPDATE: U.S. officials went to Time magazine yesterday to announce that Russia will be creating more terrorists than they kill as a result of misguided airstrikes in Syria. ''We believe if you inadvertently kill innocent men, women and children, then there's a backlash from that,'' said Lt. Gen. Bob Otto, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. ''We might kill three and create 10 terrorists. It really goes back to the question of are we killing more than were making?''
It's impossible to fathom what the U.S. media would be saying and doing if Russia did something like this in Syria. By contrast, the reaction to this airstrike by their own government will be muted and filled with apologia, ironically quite similar to the widely vilified caricature of Jeb Bush's comments about the Oregon shooting spree: ''stuff happens.''
UPDATE II: Al Jazeera reports that the hospital bombed by the U.S. ''is the only medical facility in the region that can deal with major injuries.'' Nonetheless, ''officials of MSF '... told Reuters that they 'frantically phoned' NATO and Washington DC, as bombs rained on the hospital for 'nearly an hour.'''
UPDATE III: The latest casualty figures from MSF:
Speaking to the nation just three days ago about the Oregon shooting spree, Barack Obama said: ''This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months.'' That applies to a lot more than that incident.
UPDATE IV: Several reports suggest that this hospital has been viewed with hostility because it treats all injured human beings, regardless of which side they're on. ''The hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked the Afghan security forces,'' reports the NYT. Al Jazeera notes that ''a caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the air strike, told Al Jazeera that [the] clinic's medical staff did not favor any side of the conflict. 'We are here to help and treat civilians,' Abdul Manar said.'' That same caretaker added: ''Several women and children are also killed in the strike. I could hear them screaming for help inside the hospital while it was set ablaze by the bombing. We are terrified and speechless.''
UPDATE V: The U.N. human rights chief has denounced the U.S. airstrike as ''tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal.''
This is not the first time this has happened. In 2004, U.S. airstrikes in Falluja, Iraq, hit a hospital and ''razed it to the ground.''
Caption: A handout provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres shows MSF staff in shock in one of the remaining parts of the hospital in Kunduz in the aftermath of the bombings, Kunduz, Afghanistan, October 3, 2015.
Lefty PR Firm Pressing Media to Blame Climate Change for Hurricane Joaquin
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:47
Hurricane Joaquin hasn't hit ground in the U.S. yet, and might not, but already a climate alarmist public relations shop is pushing ''Journalists'' to blame climate change for the storm's strength.
Late in the afternoon, Oct. 1, Climate Nexus sent out a press release to the media claiming the storm was gaining strength ''over [a] record-hot ocean.'' That's how the group promoted its ''hurricane backgrounder,'' designed to link the storm to global warming.
Climate Nexus is a communications organization that considers its ''mission'' to highlight ''the wide-ranging impacts of climate change and clean energy solutions in the United States.'' The group is ''a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a 501(c)3'' according to its website. The storm hasn't even hit the United States and already liberals are exploiting a potential tragedy to promote their alarmist agenda.
The release also claimed ''virtually every measure of hurricane activity in the Atlantic has increased substantially since the 1970s, due to the combination of human-caused climate change and natural variation.''
Climate Nexus ignored the fact that the U.S. is still experiencing a record-long, 119 month drought of major hurricanes making landfall. If Joaquin hits the U.S. as a Category 3 or higher hurricane, it would be the first to do so since Hurricane Wilma on Oct. 24, 2005.
In August 2015, the American Geophysical Union commented on that nine-year Atlantic hurricane landfall drought calling it ''remarkable.'' The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory said in June 2015, that ''It is premature to conclude that human activities -- and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming -- have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity.''
Hurricane Joaquin began to hit the Bahamas as a Category 4 hurricane on Oct. 1, but its ultimate path remained unclear.
Climate Nexus's press release also skewed hurricane data by focusing only on recent storms. They claimed Hurricane Katrina tops the fatalities list, by only considering storms between 1980 and 2014. According to Weather Underground, two hurricanes, The Great Galveston Hurricane in 1900 and a Florida storm in 1928 both killed far more people than Hurricane Katrina. It's much harder to blame humans and their carbon-dioxide emissions for a storm that occurred in 1900.
Unsurprisingly, Climate Nexus also brought up ''Superstorm Sandy,'' which brought devastation to New York (where the PR firm and major media outlets are headquartered) in 2012. The group said Joaquin's ''October appearance is drawing comparisons to Superstorm Sandy.''
The media and climate alarmists blamed Sandy on climate change even though Sandy was a ''minimal hurricane,'' according to climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. And in fact, it had already been downgraded to a post-tropical cycle when it hit.
Peeple sites 'disappear' from web after backlash over app - BBC News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:37
Image copyrightPeepleImage caption The Peeple website is inaccessible for many, though some have loaded a sparse landing page The website and social media pages for controversial human-rating app Peeple have been taken offline.
Visitors to the Twitter and Facebook page for the Peeple app have been met with messages explaining such content is unavailable or that it doesn't exist.
Similarly, the app's website returns a "Not Found" error for many users.
The Peeple app sparked a storm of controversy when it was announced last week as a way to rate individuals.
While the official website for the app is inaccessible for many, some users have reported being directed to a landing page that reads: "Join the positive revolution #oct12".
Julia Cordray, one of the founders of the app, told the BBC in an email: "We look forward to October 12, 2015 where we will be taping for an exclusive talk show and expose our concept to the world.
"World's largest positivity app for positive people launching November 2015 on iOS and Android."
However, Ms Cordray did not provide any details about the talk show or explain why the Peeple social media accounts have been disabled.
A hoax?Over the weekend, some began to speculate that the app, which wasn't due to launch until November, was in fact a hoax.
Myth-busting website Snopes.com, for instance, considered the online footprint of both the app and its founders - and the fact that several details released about the service remained curiously vague.
However, Ms Cordray directly denied suggestions that the app was a hoax in a blog published on LinkedIn.
She said that she had received death threats and insulting comments since news of Peeple went viral.
She added that a previously announced feature of the app, in which negative comments made about individuals would be posted after a certain time limit, would now no longer be part of it.
"I want the world to be positive and this is how I'm going to inspire it by creating the world's largest positivity app," she wrote.
Outcry 'unsurprising'Uproar over the app was "unsurprising", according to social media researcher Dr Ansgar Koene at the University of Nottingham.
"The obvious thing is the equating people with objects, with services that are being provided," he told the BBC.
He also criticised the company's management of negative comments on social media.
"If you looked at things like the Facebook page that the CEOs of the company made it was interesting to see how they blatantly just ignored any of the negative messages."
Dr Koene added that, although part of him "hopes" it is a hoax or joke, he would have expected a statement announcing this to have been published by now.
Air France Bosses Attacked As Employees Storm Meeting Over Job Cuts - BuzzFeed News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:31
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1. Senior managers at Air France were attacked and forced to flee a meeting on Monday morning after several hundred employees stormed the room over the announcement of 2,900 job cuts.Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
The meeting, which took place at the company's headquarters near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, aimed to finalise the airline's current restructuring plans.
A representative of the Union des Navigants de l'Aviation Civile (UNAC) cabin crew union said that the cuts could involve the loss of 300 cockpit crew, 900 flight attendants, and 1,700 ground staff between now and 2017.
The French airline also plans to reduce its long-haul business by 10% and cancel its order for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, Reuters reported.
However, 19 787-9 and six 787-10 jets are still on order.
3. The violence erupted around 9:30am this morning, The Guardian reported. One of the senior employees, deputy human resources director Xavier Broseta, had his shirt ripped off as he scrambled to escape the crowd.Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
5. Another senior employee, Pierre Plissonnier, the head of Air France at Orly airport, had his shirt torn by protesters as he attempted to escape by climbing over a fence.KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP / Getty
7. Air France embarked on the restructuring after failing to reach a deal with pilots over pay, The Telegraph reported.A spokesperson for Air France-KLM said it planned to take legal action over the ''aggravated violence'' carried out against its senior managers at today's meeting, Reuters reported.
''This violence was carried out by particularly violent, isolated individuals, whereas the protest by striking personnel was taking place calmly up until then,'' the spokesperson said.
Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!
Fiona Rutherford is a reporter at BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Engine Shortfall Pushed Volkswagen to Evade Emissions Testing - NYTimes.com
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:46
FRANKFURT '-- Volkswagen began installing software devised to cheat on emissions tests in 2008 after realizing that a new diesel engine, developed at great expense, could not meet pollution standards in the United States and other countries, people with knowledge of the automaker's internal inquiry said on Sunday.
Rather than stop production of the engine and throw out years of work and investment, managers decided to cheat, the people said, confirming a report in Bild am Sonntag, a German newspaper. They did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
It remained unclear who was responsible for the decision, which has created a crisis at the world's largest automaker. The deception will force the company to undertake costly repairs on as many as 11 million affected vehicles and has tarnished Germany's image as a bastion of engineering prowess.
In late September, Volkswagen suspended three top managers who played prominent roles in engine development, but the carmaker has not publicly disclosed the reasons for the suspensions.
Interactive Feature | Related VW Coverage
''We are working intensively to clarify what occurred,'' a company spokesman said in a statement. ''Thoroughness comes before speed. We will provide information as soon as we have facts.''
Volkswagen is expected to disclose some of the findings from its internal inquiry this week. By showing that it is aggressively investigating what led to the fraud, the company may be seeking to limit further damage to its reputation and future car sales.
After interviewing engineers who participate in engine development, internal auditors have determined that the illegal software was installed beginning in 2008, according to the people familiar with the inquiry, which is still at a preliminary stage.
By then, Volkswagen had spent several years developing a new diesel engine line, known as the EA 189, which included both 1.6- and 2.0-liter versions, and was preparing for production. The EA 189 was one of the most important engines in the company, destined not only for millions of Volkswagen-brand cars but also for a wide variety of other brands from the parent Volkswagen Group, like Audi, Skoda and Seat, as well as some light utility vehicles.
Graphic | How Volkswagen Got Away With Diesel Deception Volkswagen could have saved fuel or improved performance by allowing more pollutants to pass through its cars' exhaust systems, researchers said.
Significantly, the engines were also scheduled to be used in Golf, Passat, Beetle and Jetta models that were to be sold in the United States as part of a push to market ''clean diesel'' '-- a concept promoted as a way for drivers to be environmentally responsible while enjoying high fuel economy and peppy performance.
But according to the internal inquiry, the engines proved unable to live up to that standard and meet air-quality emissions standards. Volkswagen's big bet on the future was poised to fail.
It was not yet clear how many countries' emissions standards the new motor would have been able to meet without cheating. But the United States, with its limits on diesel emissions that are much stricter than those of the European Union, was one of the most important.
Cars from the 2009 model year were the first to arrive in the United States with the new motors. By that point, it would have been a severe setback to cancel production and go back to the drawing board.
It remained unclear who made the decision to solve the emissions problem by installing software deliberately devised to cheat on emissions tests. The software could recognize when a car was undergoing emissions tests and set temporary pollution controls so that the vehicle would pass. During normal operation, the cars could emit as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxides, a class of harmful pollutants.
The recently suspended managers were all people in central decision-making roles. They are Ulrich Hackenberg, head of development for all Volkswagen Group brands, and previously head of development for Volkswagen-brand cars from 2007 to 2013; Heinz-Jakob Neusser, currently head of development for the Volkswagen brand; and Wolfgang Hatz, head of engines and transmissions development for all Volkswagen brands.
The three suspended executives could not be reached for comment.
A few years before discovering that the EA 189 engines could not satisfy pollution regulations, Volkswagen made a fateful decision not to use a more expensive diesel-emissions technology developed jointly with its rival Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars. Instead, in 2007 Volkswagen announced that it would use its own method for controlling emissions of nitrogen oxides and other harmful pollutants. That system, when used on the EA 189 engines, proved inadequate for the task.
Even if no top executives ordered the use of the illegal software or knew about it, the latest revelations are likely to reinforce criticism of the company's high-pressure management methods.
Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive of Volkswagen who resigned last month, was known for setting extremely ambitious goals. In 2008, for instance, as the company's hopes were riding on the rollout of the EA 189 engine, he vowed to triple sales in the United States within a decade. Mr. Winterkorn, who has denied knowledge of the illegal software, also had a reputation for dealing harshly with subordinates who failed to meet their targets.
In Germany, where Volkswagen is the largest company by sales, the scandal has raised fears that there could be collateral damage to other carmakers and to the country's reputation for excellence in engineering.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, sought to calm those fears in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday. ''I don't think that the reputation of German business, the trust in German business, is so badly shaken that we no longer qualify as a good place to do business,'' she said.
In the United States, almost all of the approximately 500,000 cars that are affected are Volkswagen-brand cars like the Passat, Golf, Jetta and Beetle that have two-liter diesel motors. About 14,000 Audi A3 diesels, beginning with the 2010 model year, are also affected, the company has said.
Analysts warn that the effect on Volkswagen's financial health could be far-reaching, easily exceeding the 6.5 billion euros, or about $7.3 billion, that the company has set aside so far to cover costs from the scandal.
Volkswagen will be forced to spend huge sums defending itself against a growing number of lawsuits by shareholders and disgruntled owners, as well as official investigations in the United States and other countries. And the company's credit rating could suffer, which would raise the cost for the company to borrow money.
Analysts at Fitch Ratings said last week that the crisis could even affect the ability of Volkswagen's finance unit to package car loans into securities that could be sold to investors. Investors might demand a higher interest rate if they believe that the vehicles used to secure the loans may lose value.
Although Volkswagen is profitable and has a large cash buffer, those costs could divert resources needed to develop new vehicles, which could eventually force the company to sell assets such as its truck-making units.
Many components of the two-liter motors came from Bosch, a company based in Stuttgart, Germany, while Continental, based in Hanover, Germany, supplied parts for 1.6-liter diesels. Both companies said it was up to Volkswagen to configure software used to manage engine functions.
''Software we delivered cannot be used to manipulate emissions test results,'' Continental said in a statement Sunday. The company provided fuel injectors, fuel pumps and equipment to manage the motor, but Volkswagen provided the specifications and was responsible for installing and configuring the software, Continental said.
Volkswagen has said it will unveil a technical solution for the affected vehicles on Wednesday, when the company's supervisory board is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting. But experts are skeptical that Volkswagen can find a way to make cars compliant without hurting fuel economy and performance.
''If they could have passed without cheating, they would have done so,'' Emmanuel Bulle, an auto analyst at Fitch Ratings, said during a conference call with customers on Friday.
Melissa Eddy contributed reporting from Berlin.
Join VW Class Action Lawsuit to Force Fair and Full Compensation - MyAdvocates
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:40
Force VW to Give Fair and Full CompensationIf you bought or leased a diesel-fueled Volkswagen Jetta, Rabbit, Beetle, Passat, or Audi A3 sedan manufactured between 2009 and 2015, you may be the victim of a massive corporate fraud and should join us in the class action lawsuit against VW.
There will be many of these lawsuits filed. My Advocates, the law firm of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, has distinctive legal expertise in uncovering misconduct by major corporations and holding them appropriately accountable. We have been recognized for our accomplishments and expertise by US News & World Report in the field of Mass Tort/Class Action. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accused Volkswagen of cheating customers by selling diesel-fueled vehicles equipped with secret software designed to thwart U.S. emissions standards. As a result, these vehicles have lost substantial value. We are helping customers sue Volkswagen to recover these and other losses associated with the alleged fraud.
VW Has Admitted It Lied To Buyers and LeasersVW customers also may be owed compensation for falling victim to false marketing claims. VW promoted its vehicles as ''environmentally responsible'' because they gave off low levels of ozone-creating emissions as compared to other cars. The EPA said it discovered that these vehicles, in reality, may give off emissions that are 40 times more than U.S. regulations allow. VW executives have admitted to installing fraudulent software in the vehicles.
VW's Compensation 'Set Aside' Far Too LowVW has recalled 482,000 diesel-fueled Jetta, Rabbit, Beetle, Passat and Audi A3 sedans manufactured from 2009 to 2015. People who leased these cars probably paid a premium for the lease. Volkswagen has announced it has set aside $7.3 billion '' only half a year's profits '' to fix affected cars, pay government fines, and cover other expenses. However, questions have arisen about whether the cars can be fixed without hurting fuel efficiency or damaging engine integrity. The company's wet aside is far too small to compensate victims fairly.
Diesel VW, Audi Owners Deserve Full, Not Partial CompensationThe only way affected customers can help ensure they will be fully compensated for their losses is to sue Volkswagen. Lawsuits are being filed across the nation alleging individuals:
Overpaid up to $6,000 for their vehiclesHave lost substantial value in their vehiclesWill have great difficulty reselling their vehiclesFace the potential loss of fuel efficiency as the result of ''fixing '' their vehiclesFace higher future fuel costs to operate their vehiclesIf you have ever leased, owned, or currently own or are leasing one of the vehicles listed below, you may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit against VW and receive compensation for financial and other losses.
VW Jetta TDI (Model Years 2009 '' 2015)VW Jetta SportWagen TDI (Model Years 2009-2014)VW Golf TDI (Model Years 2010-2015)VW Golf SportWagen TDI (Model Year 2015)VW Beetle TDI and VW Beetle Convertible TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)VW Passat TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)Audi A3 TDI models using the 2.0L 4-cylinder TDI engine (Model Years 2010-2013 & 2015)Janet, Jenner & Suggs' Award-Winning Expertise and IntegrityFor the last five years, Janet, Jenner & Suggs has been recognized in U.S. News and World Report's Best Law Firms ® with a national First-Tier Ranking in Mass Torts/Class Action. Howard Janet, Rob Jenner and Kenneth Suggs have also been recognized as Best Lawyers® in Product Liability. We have achieved verdicts and settlements against corporate entities, including foreign corporations. Examples of cases include:
Tainted Steroids/Meningitis-$200 million settlementJohns Hopkins Hospital class action settlement -$190 million SettlementWhistleblower Fraudulent Foreclosure against major financial institutions'' $95 Million SettlementPharmaceutical cases against foreign corporations'--Hundreds of million dollars recoveredMy Advocates, the Law Firm of Janet, Jenner & Suggs has represented clients in the majority of the United States and the District of Columbia. They practice nationwide on a Pro Hac Vice basis.
The Man Who May One-Up Darwin | Rising Stars | OZY
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:21
On a sunny afternoon, at a bustling cafe less than a mile from Stanford University's Palo Alto campus and more than 5,000 miles from his home, an assistant professor from MIT is telling me about science. Very advanced science. His name is Jeremy England, and at 33, he's already being called the next Charles Darwin.
Say what?
In town to give a lecture, the Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar speaks quickly, his voice rising a few pitches in tone, his long-fingered hands making sudden jerks when he's excited. He's skinny, with a long face, scraggly beard and carelessly groomed mop of sandy brown hair '-- what you might expect from a theoretical physicist. But then there's the street-style Adidas on his feet and the kippah atop his head. And the fact that this scientist also talks a lot about God.
Every 30 years or so we experience these gigantic steps forward. '...And this might be it.
Carl Franck, a Cornell physics professor
The 101 version of his big idea is this: Under the right conditions, a random group of atoms will self-organize, unbidden, to more effectively use energy. Over time and with just the right amount of, say, sunlight, a cluster of atoms could come remarkably close to what we call life. In fact, here's a thought: Some things we consider inanimate actually may already be ''alive.'' It all depends on how we define life, something England's work might prompt us to reconsider. ''People think of the origin of life as being a rare process,'' says Vijay Pande, a Stanford chemistry professor. ''Jeremy's proposal makes life a consequence of physical laws, not something random.''
England's idea may sound strange, even incredible, but it's drawn the attention of an impressive posse of high-level academics. After all, while Darwinism may explain evolution and the complex world we live in today, it doesn't account for the onset of intelligent beings. England's insistence on probing for the step that preceded all of our current assumptions about life is what makes him stand out, says Carl Franck, a Cornell physics professor, who's been following England's work closely. ''Every 30 years or so we experience these gigantic steps forward,'' Franck says. ''We're due for one. And this might be it.''
And all from a modern Orthodox Jew with fancy sneakers.
Before England became a religious man '-- he prays three times a day '-- he was a scientist. From the time he could read, he devoured books on subjects from philosophy to music to fantasy. By 9 he was plowing his way through Stephen Hawking's opus,A Brief History of Time . ''He couldn't comprehend it, but he tried really hard,'' says his father, Richard England, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire.Yes, Dad is an economics professor and Mom a public school teacher, and the couple took their two children to museums and to visit the Harvard campus,just a few hours from their small seacoast town. But the elder England contends his son's upbringing doesn't begin to explain his intellectual curiosity.
Or England's long timeline of asking big questions. Over drinks some years ago, a childhood friend reminded him of a time that young Jeremy turned to him out of nowhere and reflected: ''You know, Adam, if the dinosaurs can go extinct, then so can we.'' England was 3 then. For his part, England says it wasn't until he hit about 7 that he felt a sense of anxiety about ''not knowing enough.'' That anxiety would compel him through an almost comical list of academic bastions '-- Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and Princeton, and now, a 3-year-old teaching gig at MIT.
Still, God wasn't a big player for England during most of his early life. While his mom is Jewish '-- his dad was raised Lutheran but never felt strongly about passing on his Protestant ties '-- there wasn't a lot of religious talk while he was growing up. The Englands would share a festive meal for Passover and light candles for Hanukkah, but the family didn't keep a Bible in the home. His mother, England says, was born in Poland in 1947 to a family ravaged by the Holocaust. Much of her extended family '-- including her grandparents '-- were killed by the Nazis, and in the wake of such destruction, England says, Judaism brought up negative, painful feelings for her; she distanced herself.
It seems ironic, then, that anti-Semitism would eventually push England to the faith he says his mother spurned. While studying at Oxford in the early 2000s, he faced his first anti-Israel sentiment from classmates '-- which got him, in expected fashion, reading books and picking people's brains to figure out where he stood on the issue. And in 2005, he visited Israel for the first time '-- where he ''fell in love.'' Studying the Torah provided an opportunity for intellectual engagement that he says was ''unlike anything I had ever experienced in terms of subtlety and grandeur of scope.''
Back in Palo Alto, between meeting with Berkeley professors and Stanford students, England reboots his computer to show me a simulation he's been working on, meanwhile explaining that his lab is less test tubes and white coats than blackboards and computers screens. Jet-setting across the country to talk about his theories isn't England's usual routine. That, he says, looks more like dirty diapers, brainstorming atop a yoga ball with his infant son, working with students and plugging data into formulas.
England didn't begin with number-crunching, though. During his postdoc research on embryonic development, he kept coming back to the question: What qualifies something as alive or not? He later superimposed an analytical rigor to that question, publishing an equation in 2013 about how much energy is required for self-replication to take place. For England, that investigation was only the beginning. ''I couldn't stop thinking about it,'' he says, his normally deep voice rising until eventually cracking. ''It was so frustrating.'' Over the next year, he worked on a second paper, which is under peer review now. This one took his past findings and used them to explain theoretically how, under certain physical circumstances, life could emerge from nonlife.
In the most basic terms, Darwinism and the idea of natural selection tell us that well-adapted organisms evolve in order to survive and better reproduce in their environment. England doesn't dispute this reasoning, but he argues that it's too vague. For instance, he says, blue whales and phytoplankton thrive in the same environmental conditions '-- the ocean '-- but they do so by vastly different means. That's because that while they're both made of the same basic building blocks, strings of DNA are arranged differently in each organism.
Now take England's simulation of an opera singer who holds a crystal glass and sings at a certain pitch. Instead of shattering, England predicts that over time, the atoms will rearrange themselves to better absorb the energy the singer's voice projects, essentially protecting the glass's livelihood. So how's a glass distinct from, say, a plankton-type organism that rearranges it self over several generations? Does that make glass a living organism?
These are pretty things to ponder. Unfortunately, England's work hasn't yet provided any answers, leaving the professor in a kind of speculative state as he doggedly tries to put numbers to it all. ''He hasn't put enough cards on the table yet,'' Franck says. ''He'll need to make more testable predictions.'' So it remains to be seen where England will land in the end. Other scientists have made similar claims about energy dissipation in the context of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, but none has found a definitive means for applying this science to the origin of life.
So what does God have to do with all this? In his quest for answers, England, of course, finds himself at the center of the classic struggle between science and spirituality. While Christianity and Darwinism are generally opposed, Judaism doesn't take issue with the science of life. The Rabbinical Council of America even takes the stance that ''evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator.''
For his part, England believes science can give us explanations and predictions, but it can never tell us what we should do with that information. That's where, he says, the religious teachings come in. Indeed, the man who's one-upping Darwin has spent the past 10 years painstakingly combing through the Torah, interpreting it word by word much the way he ponders the meaning of life. His conclusion? Common translations are lacking. Take the term ''creation.'' England suggests we understand it not as the literal making of the Earth but rather as giving Earth a name. All throughout the Bible, he says, there are examples of terms that could be interpreted differently from what we've come to accept as standard.
That even applies to some of the good book's most famous players, like Joseph, the ancient biblical interpreter of dreams, who rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt after the pharaoh. Maybe, England suggests, he wasn't a fortune-teller. Maybe he was a scientist.
Correction: This story has been revised to reflect the correct date that England first visited Israel.
Photography by Rachel Tine and Nervous System for OZY.
ISIS Destroys Triumphal Arches in Palmyra, Syria - NYTimes.com
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:20
BEIRUT, Lebanon '-- Another landmark structure in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra has been deliberately destroyed by Islamic State militants, according to local antigovernment activists and Syrian officials. The building involved this time was a set of triumphal arches, erected in the second century.
Since seizing Palmyra from government forces in May, Islamic State fighters have destroyed some of the most beautiful and historically significant monuments in the sprawling oasis city in Syria's central desert, one of the world's most renowned archaeological sites.
The latest to fall was the triple arch built by the Romans to celebrate a victory over the Persians, which bore ancient inscriptions and stood at the entrance to a grand colonnade.
Militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, had already blown up the temples of Baalshamin and of Baal, in keeping with their stated belief that such structures are idolatrous. But the arch was not a religious structure.
Graphic | The Strategy Behind the Islamic State's Destruction of Ancient Sites As it expanded across Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State destroyed many archaeological sites, looting them for profit and damaging some for propaganda.
Its destruction was first reported on Sunday by an antigovernment activist who uses the nom de guerre Khaled al-Homsi and who has long monitored the destruction of antiquities in Palmyra by all parties in the multisided war. Mr. Homsi fled Palmyra after the Islamic State takeover, in which his uncle Khalid al-Asaad, a former antiquities official, was killed by the group.
Residents of Palmyra have also suffered under intensified bombardment by government warplanes over the past month, some of which did their own damage to the archaeological site, Mr. Homsi and others said.
The Palmyra branch of the Local Coordination Committees '-- antigovernment activist cells set up early in the uprising that now primarily serve to document events around Syria '-- recently issued an infographic showing the toll from all sides for September alone.
It said that there were 222 air raids, using rockets as well as naval mines, gas cylinders and barrel bombs, that killed 97 people and destroyed 239 houses and three ancient structures.
The government says it is aiming at terrorists.
Residents who can afford transportation are fleeing the attacks by the government and by the Islamic State, while those who cannot are cowering in basements under heavy government airstrikes, according to a Syrian from Palmyra who took refuge in Turkey but remains in regular contact with relatives there. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect family members still in Syria.
But flight is no guarantee of safety, the person from Palmyra added, corroborating accounts from other residents.
Residents may be stopped on the road to government-held territory, they say, under suspicion of ties to the Islamic State or simply because government forces do not want more displaced people from restive Sunni areas moving west to areas like the provinces of Latakia and Tartus, which are already bursting with them.
They can flee in the other direction, to Islamic State-held Raqqa, but there they still face the harsh rule of the militant group, as well as airstrikes by the United States-led coalition, the government and now also Russia.
Some are going all the way to Turkey, potentially joining the flow of refugees from there to Europe, while others remain displaced in outlying areas around the city.
Hwaida Saad and Maher Samaan contributed reporting.
No joke: Taylor Swift's music could soon be worth less than Paris Hilton's - Music Business Worldwide
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:18
Independent labels are deeply concerned that US web 'radio' services such as Pandora and iHeartRadio may soon be permitted to pay less for their music than for tracks from the majors.
If that sounds like a arbitrarily unfair system, well, that's exactly what it is.
It could literally mean that a stream of a Taylor Swift track '' signed to independent label Big Machine '' generates less money than a play of a track from the likes of Psy (Universal), New Kids On The Block (Sony) or Paris Hilton (Warner).
(You'll have noticed that I've picked some less-than-stellar major label signings, there. It doesn't make the statement any less true. Also, let the record show that Warner Bros really did release an album by Paris Hilton in 2006.)
This widespread worry amongst indies has been set into motion by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in the US, which has just asked the market's Copyright Office if it can be permitted to set variable statutory royalty rates for recorded music.
Aka: One rate for some, another rate for others.
''What's really shocking is the two super-majors supporting multiple statutory rates.''
MBW independent label Source
Important caveat: there has been no official indication so far that this request is linked to an intention to pay independent artists less than those signed to major labels.
However, suspicion is rife amongst the independent community that's exactly what's being cooked up.
What's more, accusations are also flying that Sony and Universal are helping drive this potential outcome with a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign.
Outcry, as you'd imagine, is loud and abundant.
The owner of one large global label, speaking under condition of anonymity to MBW, said: ''It is bad enough that the regulatory authorities are even considering one rate for the big and one rate for the small; it is bad enough that this battle, so crucial for the future of culture, diversity and entrepreneurship is being pitched in such an arcane corner of the industry playing field. But what is really shocking is the positioning of the two super-majors and their mouthpiece, the RIAA, supporting multiple statutory rates.''
Before we return to that suggestion, let's briefly explain exactly how this fear and loathing has come to pass.
The CRB's request for the ability to deploy multi-tiered licensing rates arrives shortly after some very significant developments in US music licensing.
Last week, Pandora was crowing: the US Copyright Office decreed that certain direct licensing agreements, including Pandora's deal with Merlin '' the commercial body which represents 20,000 indie labels '' were admissible as potential benchmarks in future rate-setting decisions.
[UPDATE: MBW now understands that the Merlin/Pandora agreement follows the US statutory rate of $0.0014 per stream '' which applies to most labels, including the majors '' but above a certain threshold of plays, that number dips very slightly to $0.0013 per stream. This could obviously act as an incentive for Pandora to play more independent music.]
Hundreds of billions of streams take place on Pandora every year, so those $0.0001s really do add up.
Merlin CEO Charles Caldas argues that the deal struck by Merlin, although slightly smaller in number than the CRB rate, was ''not done blindly''.
For starters, it is widely-known that Pandora has been fiercely lobbying to reduce the statutory per-stream payout to labels via SoundExchange: that $0.0014 is not set in stone, in other words, but Merlin's deal is.
''The direct iRadio deals with the major labels, and the Clear Channel direct deals '' as exposed in the recent CRB hearings '' were a clear indication to us of which way the tide was flowing,'' commented Caldas, referencing a 2013 direct agreement between Warner Music Group and iHeartMedia, the owner of iHeartRadio.
''We needed to act decisively to protect the interests of the labels we represent, and to ensure we were not left behind as the market sped towards an uncertain future.''
Charles Caldas, Merlin
''[They were] a warning sign to us that we needed to act decisively to protect the interests of the labels we represent, and to ensure we were not left behind as the market sped towards an uncertain future.
''We were extremely mindful in our [Pandora] deal to preserve our support for, and the health of, the statutory regime.''
The Merlin deal with Pandora, he notes, was 'inherently tied to the statutory rates' and ensured that artists continued to be paid directly via SoundExchange.
Caldas added: ''Despite Pandora's disappointing press statement last week suggesting otherwise, the Register of Copyrights did not rule that Merlin's deal is a 'valid benchmark'.
''In fact, on the contrary, in that same ruling, which references other direct deals in addition to ours, the Register noted she was 'sympathetic to SoundExchange's argument that the direct agreements have been shaped by the availability of the Pureplay Agreement'.''
Now the CRB, made up of three judges appointed by the US Library of Congress, appears to have gone one step further, seeking the legal wriggle room to potentially allow Pandora, iHeartRadio and others to break free from single-rate collective licensing.
According to Billboard sources, other factors in this development include major label lobbying and 'one SoundExchange economist who apparently analysed the difference between some iTunes radio direct deals with the majors and indie labels''.
(Apple typically negotiates its music licenses direct with labels, rather than through collective bargaining bodies.)
Tensions are running high: the CRB is due to deliver its decision over new statutory webcasting rates for 2016-2020 in mid-December.
Added MBW's independent label source: ''If you were a detective looking for the final piece of evidence that the super-majors are no longer acting as responsible market leaders but simply lining their own pockets, you'd need look no further than this.
''you need look no further for evidence that the super-majors are not acting as responsible market leaders, but simply lining their own pockets.''
MBW Source
''They will doubtless say that they have to get the best rate for their artists. But in the context of their reputed digital accounting practices '' a recent submission from one of them to the effect that it is not required 'to structure its affairs in whatever way yields the greatest royalties for (their artists)' '' and the fact that A2IM's submission is supported by all the artists' representatives on the Sound Exchange board, that is hardly convincing.''
Said Caldas: ''It is our firm view, that in order for a functional statutory regime to operate, there can be no division of rates dependent upon any class system of rights.''
''Merlin was in large part created to address serious concerns within the independent sector that the largest labels would abuse their dominance to create a two class system of rights, a system where independent labels and their artists were expected to suffer financially to compensate for the excessive demands imposed on digital services by the big two.
''Eight years on, and despite the fact that it is well established that independent content is must-have content, crucial to consumers, and fundamental to the success of digital platforms, we see our suspicions realised, and there is no more doubt about the majors intentions, which now sit in the open, exposed for all to see.''
A2IM, the US independent label trade body whose members include Beggars Group, Big Machine, Secretly Canadian, Concord Bicycle Music and BMG, has submitted a filing to the US Copyright Office strongly arguing for a single statutory rate.
The organisation said in a statement to MBW: ''A2IM remains committed to achieving a level playing field in the digital music marketplace for all of our member labels, regardless of their size.
''When it comes to radio play (or digital radio play in the United States) a single rate is the foundation of collective licensing worldwide; a track equals a track, regardless of genre, the identity of the performer or the size of the label releasing the track.
''Collective licensing minimises the opportunities for gamesmanship by some participants.''
A2IM statement
''This simple principle underpins all of the advantages we receive from collective licensing. It minimizes the opportunities for gamesmanship by some participants.
''The biggest or most-well-connected companies have no advantage over everyone else, and there is less opportunity for them to abuse their scale advantage.''
And Alison Wenham, CEO of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), commented: ''The worldwide independent industry calls for the maintenance of [single-rate] collective licensing in the US as it ensures that there can be no discrimination towards artists and companies in an already highly competitive market place.
''To create imbalances in what companies and the artists signed to them receive from digital transactions will simply cause harm, and not serve expansion of choice for the consumer and for the creative community.
''The independents' catalogues are '' it could be said the essential ingredient to success in the digital market place but the majors continue to try and split the industry apart to leverage more for themselves at the expense of everyone else.
''IF this is allowed to take root in the US, it will have disastrous consequences for the whole industry.''
Alison Wenham, WIN
''If this is allowed to take root in the US it will have disastrous consequences for the whole industry.
''Worldwide, the independents have always upheld the benefits of collective licensing to provide certainty and efficiency to licensors, licensees and the consumer '' not to achieve a rate it may be assumed independents couldn't otherwise get for themselves. This is completely missing the point.
''The benefits of collective licensing in an emerging market is to support innovation and competition '' multiple statutory rates would kill that stone dead.'Music Business Worldwide
At Least 50 People Were Shot In Chicago For The 2nd Weekend In A Row: Chicagoist
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:17
It was another violent weekend in Chicago with more than 50 people shot for the second weekend in a row. Four men were killed and at least 53 were wounded between Friday evening and early Monday morning, according to the Tribune. Last weekend, nine people were killed and at least 45 were wounded by gunfire.
On Sunday alone, three men were killed and at least 26 were shot in neighborhoods ranging from Lawndale to Pilsen to Longwood Manor, according to reports. A 10-year-old girl was shot along with two other people in the 1400 block of East 66th Place in Woodlawn. She was grazed in the neck by the bullet and taken to the hospital in good condition.
The summer and early fall of 2015 have been marked by violence and shootings. But it is the first time that there have been more than 50 shootings in back-to-back weekends over the last four years, according to Tribune data. In August more than 40 people were shot four weekends in a row.
Shootings and homicides seem to be on the rise in Chicago this year. There have been at least 2,300 shootings so far, about 400 more than the same period in 2014 and about 500 more than the same period in 2015, according to the Tribune. Chicago has seen at least 370 homicides since the beginning of 2015, about 50 more than 2014 and 30 more than 2013 during the same periods.
Russia Just Exposed Obama's MASSIVE Secret About ISIS'... He NEVER Thought This Would Get Out - Tea Party News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:06
(Top Right News) '' Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament's international affairs committee, created a firestorm today when he took to Twitter and said Barack Obama is not bombing ISIS.
''McCain accused us of striking out at US-trained insurgents'... However, since they have either run away or joined al-Qaeda, hitting them is a mission impossible,'' Pushkov wrote on his Twitter account.
''The US-led coalition spent a whole year pretending they were striking ISIL targets but where are the results of these strikes?'' Pushkov asked during and interview with France's Europe 1 Radio.
Max Boot, of the Council on Foreign Relations, admits the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS is primarily smoke and mirrors.
''Obama's strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working'... (because) the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS has been remarkably restrained,'' Boot wrote for Newsweek in February.
Figures compiled by the CFR reveal the U.S. has dropped 43 bombs on ISIS per day since the campaign began. In 1991 the Pentagon dropped 6,163 bomb per day on Iraq and 1,039 in 2003. Even Serbia, which posed no threat to the United States, saw a total of 60 bombs per day in 1995.
Earlier this week the Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam said there ''is clearly no seriousness'' to the war against ISIS. He added the objective is not eliminating the Islamic State but rather an effort by the West to ''force their presence'' in the region and worsen the situation there.
''From the very outset, this air campaign has NOT been directed against ISIS,'' writes Michel Chossudovsky. ''The evidence confirms that the Islamic State is not the target. Quite the opposite.''
''The air raids are intended to destroy the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria.''
During the first invasion of Iraq in 1991 the same principle applied.
Souad N. Al-Azzawi of the Brussels Tribunal writes that ''the major goals of the bombing was not liberating Kuwait or Iraq, rather, it was the total destruction of the civilian infrastructure.''
NATO and the United States targeted civilian infrastructure of Libya as well.
The coalition ''debilitated Libya's water supply by targeting critical state-owned water installations, including a water-pipe factory in Brega,'' writes Nafeez Ahmed.
The infrustructure breakdown in Libya, coupled with Obama's allies murdering Gadaffi, led directly to the ISIS takeover of Libya, and subsequent mass migration of 800,000 Muslims into Europe through Libya.
NATO and the US also destroyed Yugoslavia's civilian infrastructure, targeting schools, hospitals, farms, bridges, roads, railways, water lines, communications facilities, factories, industries and other objects necessary for the basic functioning of a modern day society, according to the Independent Commission of Inquiry Hearing to Investigate U.S./NATO War Crimes Against the People of Yugoslavia.
Bombing the Islamic State runs counter to the agenda revealed in Defense Intelligence Agency documents from 2012.
The documents show the United States and its partners in the Gulf states and Turkey supported the Islamic State and planned to establish a Salafist principality in Syria.
The Pentagon has admitted it ''helped build ISIS'' and armed the group with weapons transferred from Benghazi, Libya.
The globalist Brookings Institute also described the ultimate objective.
In June, Tony Cartalucci, citing the Brookings document, wrote that the goal is ''to divide, destroy, then incrementally occupy a sovereign nation thousands of miles from America's shores.''
Yes, that $750 generic pill is a pure artifact of regulation - Overlawyered
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:45
As you probably know if you follow the news, a man named Martin Shkreli in charge of a startup firm called Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to a drug called pyrimethamine (brand name Daraprim), used in the treatment of AIDS and malaria, and announced that he was jacking up its price from $13.60 to $750. Massive outrage resulted, which has echoed through social media for the past week.
Pyrimethamine is long since off patent. It is not difficult to manufacture, and sells cheaply in Europe. But under the distinctive food and drug laws of the United States you can't just start turning out pills in your factory to compete with Shkreli, at least not without compiling and submitting a huge pile of regulatory paper with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This calls on the services of lawyers and scientists, costs a lot of money, and takes time, and you might or might not be able to recover the costs from the relatively small pool of users.
Alex Tabarrok and commenters explain, and pharmaceutical blogger Derek Lowe has much more detail in a seriesofposts:
The FDA grants market exclusivity to companies that are willing to take ''grandfathered'' compounds into compliance with their current regulatory framework, and that's led to some ridiculous situations with drugs like colchicine and progesterone. (Perhaps the worst example is a company that's using this technique to get ahold of a drug that's currently being provided at no charge whatsoever).
Among laws that used the ''marketing exclusivity'' technique to award monopolies on older drugs, on the logic that otherwise no one would step forward to handle the heavy costs of getting those drugs regulatory clearance, were the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, better known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, originally introduced by Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.), and the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) (We covered the issue briefly in this 2011 post.) In various ways that backers appear not to have foreseen, opportunistic actors have succeeded in seizing the legal-monopoly status made available for various compounds without always providing as much public benefit in return as had been expected. To enforce their legal monopoly, some of these companies sue rival drugmakers to force them to pull their competing offerings off the market.
Underlying it all '-- but seldom asked '-- was whether the gigantic costs of regulatory approval are really a necessary evil. Libertarian-minded critics were especially inclined to question whether hugely expensive studies and paperwork should really be required in the case of grandfathered or ''generally recognized as safe'' drugs, many of which have been familiar to the medical profession for decades or even centuries, allowing for a collective sense to emerge of their safety and effectiveness. But the view that progressives tended to champion '-- which prevailed '-- was that older compounds and those used for rare diseases should be held to no less stringent a standard than any other, and should either be withdrawn from the market or have their safety and effectiveness proved at someone's expense.
At the Niskanen Center, Will Wilkinson ties together several of these themes. ''Martin Shkreli'... bought himself a monopoly made entirely of health-and-safety red tape,'' he notes. The most-hated businessperson of the year is ''cashing in precisely because the American pharmaceutical market is so far from free.''
Meanwhile, today's moralistic politicians denounce the resulting fiasco without acknowledging the role of yesterday's moralistic politicians in helping to bring it about (cross-posted in adapted form at Cato at Liberty).
More: ''if another company wanted to compete to sell the same medicine [Daraprim], it would need to apply for a new generic drug approval, by submitting an 'Abbreviated New Drug Application' to the FDA. Filing one of these applications with the FDA used to cost as little as $1 million; today it can run as high as $20 million, sometimes more. '...On average, it takes about 50 months for the FDA to approve a single generic application.'' [Scott Gottlieb, WSJ] To clarify what I should have spelled out above: while exclusivity grants under the 1983 and 1984 laws have been associated with price jumps for a range of older drugs, the ANDA obstacle to entry by itself accounts for Shkreli's monopoly position, which he cleverly amplified by sharp practices described by Ronald Bailey: ''First, he apparently talked Impax [a predecessor holder of the sole FDA rights to market Daraprim] into starving the wholesale market of the drug, so that when Turing completed its purchase of the rights there were no extra pills floating around. Next, he set up an exclusive distribution network as a way of preventing potential competitors from obtaining enough Daraprim to conduct [the equivalence] trials for the FDA'' necessary to develop an ANDA so as eventually to challenge his regulatory monopoly. And Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex adds the Daraprim episode to a list of calamitous failures of generic drug regulation.
Filed under: FDA, pharmaceuticals
James Woods Makes a Bold Prediction About UCC Shooting That Torches Obama and the Media
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:42
After eyewitness reports surfaced that the Umpqua Community College shooter asked his victims if they were Christian, noted actor and frequent Twitter commenter James Woods blasted the media and President Obama, and calls for more gun control in a series of tweets Friday.
Woods first tweeted:
He followed that tweet with slamming the New York Times for not mentioning the reports that the shooter was targeting Christians:
And then moved on to questioning the President on the matter:
Woods wrapped up his short rant by praising the courage of those who told the shooter they were Christian:
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also commented on the President's silence about Christians being targeted.
According to The Blaze, when the former Arkansas governor was asked if he thought President Obama would have mentioned religious targeting if the victims were Muslim, he said, ''Of course he would have'... But when it seems that the target is a Christian, he conveniently just ignores it, denies it or just moves on to something else.''
EXCLUSIVE: Mom of Ore. shooter stockpiled guns - NY Daily News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:39
Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily NewsLaurel Harper (right), mother of Chris Harper Mercer, the gunman who killed 9 people inside Umpqua Community College.The mother of the Oregon mass murderer stockpiled firearms because she feared stricter gun laws '-- and shopped around for a shooting range that would let her and her son fire away without supervision, the Daily News has learned.
Laurel Harper, a nurse who shared an apartment with her son Chris Harper Mercer, spoke openly about her love of guns, said the mother of one of her patients.
"She said she had multiple guns and believed wholeheartedly in the Second Amendment and wanted to get all the guns she could before someone outlawed them," Shelly Steele, who hired Harper to provide care for her sickly teenage son, told The News in an exclusive interview Saturday.
"My husband is an avid hunter and former military, so she would talk to him about it all the time, how she liked to take her son shooting," Steele said.
Harper often took her son Chris to a shooting range, the Daily News has learned.Harper told Steele she tried a shooting range close to the Umpqua Community College campus but didn't like it ''because it wasn't very private.''
''You needed to have a range master with you, and she didn't like anyone watching,'' said Steele, who lives in Winston, Oregon.
''She wanted more privacy.''
Officers stand guard outside the apartment building where Laurel Harper lived with her son.So Harper found a better match in a gun club in Myrtle Creek, Steele said.
"He liked to do it with her," she said, referring to Chris.
"She told my husband she just purchased some new guns a few weeks ago and took him shooting. I thought the whole situation was very strange. If you know your son has mental health issues, do you encourage a fascination with guns?"
Mercer killed 9 people before killing himself at the community college.Steele spoke out two days after Harper's heavily-armed son murdered eight students and their instructor before fatally shooting himself.
Steele said Harper told her that Chris was ''sickly'' as a child, had ''mental problems'' growing up and suffered from Asperger's.
''One of the reasons she moved up to Oregon was to get away from California and give him more space and peace and quiet,'' she said.
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty ImagesA vigil in Roseburg, Oregon for the Umqua shooting victims.Harper was a dedicated nurse but had odd personality quirks, Steele said.
When Harper's nursing agency held a meeting in Steele's house three weeks ago with the other nurses assigned to the family, the agency asked Harper to take a photo for a badge, but she refused.
''The four other nurses took photos, but she refused,'' Steele said. ''She said she didn't like her picture taken and that was it. They told her it might help to identify her in case of an emergency, and she said, 'All I need is my stethoscope.'''
"She was a wonderful nurse in that she was very detail oriented,'' Steele added. ''But she was always very edgy.''
Steele hasn't spoken to Harper since her son's rampage.
"It's very frightening,'' Steele said. ''I'm so glad she never brought him over here.''
Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills - The Washington Post
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:37
Launa Hall is a teacher in Arlington, Va., and is working on a collection of essays about teaching.
'Remember that activity when we all get in the closet and pretend we're not even there, so our principal can't find us?'' I choose my words carefully as I prep my pre-kindergarten students for the lockdown drill scheduled for that afternoon. These drills have become routine at Arlington elementary schools, and at schools across the country. After the latest school shooting, on Oct. 24 in Washington state, schools will no doubt be running through drills yet again. What can we do about all these shootings?, teachers ask each other. Lock the doors, we're told, and assume the worst is coming.
When you're guiding 4- and 5-year-olds through a drill, your choice of words can mean everything. ''Activity,'' not ''game,'' because we laugh during games, and I can't risk introducing laughter. I don't say ''police,'' because some little kids find police officers scary, and I can't risk introducing tears. Instead, even though our principal isn't there this day, I want them to picture his kind but purposeful face when they hear the police officers and administrators hustling down the hallway, testing the doorknob of each room. I don't say ''quiet,'' because I can't risk them shushing one another while they are crammed together, practically sitting in each other's laps. And because it's not quiet that's required for this drill, but rather complete silence. As silent as children who aren't there at all.
After lunch we hear a fiddling with the loudspeaker. Our well-meaning assistant principal is nearing retirement, and certain technologies, such as the many buttons on the intercom, are a strain on her. There is a low mumbling, which may be coaching from the office staff. More fumbling '-- perhaps a drop. Then, flustered, at last, the assistant principal says, ''Lockdown, everyone, thank you.''
My eyes meet my assistant's over the heads of our students. Usually, we get the announcement: ''We are in a lockdown. This is a drill.'' The assistant principal didn't say the word ''drill.'' But of course it has to be. We were told about it in an all-staff e-mail hours ago. This is totally routine, I tell myself. I'm annoyed that I took even a split second to consider an alternative.
I stand, make purposeful eye contact with my preschoolers and gesture with my hands that we are going to the closet, right now. My body language here must be just so. Too much smile, and they'll ask questions and laugh. Too much severity, and they'll balk, rebel or be fearful. Make a sound with my hands or feet, and they will, too. Tip-toe too slowly, and they will, too. All is well, I must convey, but I am not kidding.
We get the children into the closet. My assistant lowers the window blinds, submerging our bright classroom in an odd, midday twilight, while I go to the classroom door. I quickly check for any children in the hallway, anyone I could pull to safety in my room. That's part of the protocol. But who do I think would be there? The whole school is doing this drill. It is, in fact, just a drill, I reassure myself. I lock the door, pull a paper shade over the glass and, silently, step back to the closet.
We don't quite fit, 16 tiny bodies sitting crisscross applesauce, hands in laps, plus two adults. But I nudge my way in, and I begin to work the room, pulling out every teacher trick I know to maintain the silence while we wait.
And wait.
We hear the echoing footsteps, then the sharp, metallic rattle of the doorknob. I absolutely know that I locked that door not three minutes before, and yet I'm flooded with an absurd relief when our lock holds. The footsteps fall away down the hallway, and we hear the next door rattle, and the next. It won't be long now.
But it is. Usually these drills last somewhere between three and four minutes. The doorknob rattles, there's a pause, and then the principal's voice on the loudspeaker thanks us for our cooperation and excellent readiness, and invites us to enjoy the rest of our afternoon.
This time, another minute passes, and then another. No announcement. I press my finger to my lips with a look that says: Don't even wonder for a second if I'm serious because I am. I step from the close air of the closet into the cool, still classroom. I listen. Not a sound.
And even though I know better, even though I could reason my way around this drill, I fall headfirst into the scenario that this whole theatrical production has invited me to play out. Okay, this is it. So, who am I? Am I the one who dies valiantly tackling the shooter? Am I the quick-thinking teacher who saves several hidden children, telling the shooter they're in the auditorium, before I am shot? Am I the teacher who sprawls into a body shield with all my best intentions but succeeds only in dying along with my charges? My inner voice, as clear as an actual voice in that silence, reminds me: You're a mom. Hide. You have children of your own. I turn back to the closet.
Near my hand is a stuffed animal we call Puppy Dog, our class mascot. He's a special friend to my students, who live in apartments and don't have pets. We sing to Puppy Dog each morning and say goodbye to him every afternoon. I pick him up now with only a vague idea of what trick I'll pull out next. Maybe we'll each give him a squeeze, then pass him to the next friend. I don't know how much more miracle silence I can produce. The children have already far exceeded my expectations. I crouch with them again, aware that I am shaking.
That drill last spring, the one without the word ''drill,'' lasted 13 minutes. No full explanation was offered about why it went on so long '-- a mix-up regarding the checking of hallways, it seems, and possibly some missing keys. It doesn't really matter. Minor mistakes that result in the addition of mere minutes shouldn't be any big deal.
But this was a big deal. It was the lockdown drill that spilled over its edges into Lockdown. I made the mental shift, if only for a moment, from the routine to a pure, clear terror.
Which of those states of mind makes more sense? I teach in a country awash in weaponry. Maybe that moment I stood alone in my classroom was when I was closest to the truth. In 13 minutes, according to my gruesome and involuntary mental calculus, a single gunman with his effortlessly obtained XM15-E2S rifle and 26 rounds in each of two additional magazines could potentially kill 78 of us. Even considering the time it takes to calmly reload.
Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.
It's time to stop rehearsing our deaths and start screaming.
Read more from Outlook:
What do you do with the site of a mass shooting?
Loaded Language: The gun metaphors that pervade our slang
Four decades of failed school reform
Photos: The most stressful jobs of 2014
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For millennials, more than diet and exercise at play - CNN.com
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:18
Story highlightsA new study suggests that people have become more prone to weight gain in the last several decadesWith the same calories and exercise, a person in 2006 would have BMI higher than someone in 1988Researchers looked over the years at what adults in the United States said they ate, how much they reported exercising and their body mass index (BMI). The data came from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey and included dietary information from nearly 36,400 people between 1971 and 2008, and physical activity information for about 14,400 people between 1988 and 2006.
The study concluded that a person in 2006 who consumed the same number of calories and exercised the same amount as someone in 1988, would have a BMI that was 2.3 points higher. (A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or greater is obese.)
"I didn't expect to see this finding," said Jennifer L. Kuk, associate professor of kinesiology and health science at York University in Toronto, who led the research. Obesity rates worldwide have been climbing since the 1980s, and people have always thought it was because we are eating more and exercising less, Kuk said.
But what is to blame, if weight gain is not simply the result of consuming more calories and burning fewer? Although the study did not investigate possible culprits, the authors point to numerous factors that have been linked to obesity that have changed since the 1970s.
We are more stressed and sleep less. We are exposed to more pesticides and industrial chemicals. Because of our changing diet we have less healthy gut microbiomes. We take more medications associated with weight gain than we used to, such as antidepressants. We increasingly live in climate-controlled worlds that don't require us to burn calories to maintain our body temperature. The list goes on.
"We think everything has a small effect but when you're adding them together you're getting a larger effect," Kuk said. To make matters more complicated, some people are probably more sensitive than others to certain factors on the list, she said.
"This is a very useful study," said Dr. Holly F. Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. "It seems to point to something either intrinsic in our environment or our bodies ... that is more than obvious factors of calorie intake and expenditure," Lofton said.
Of all the factors the authors mention, "Sleep has good evidence. I would put that high on the list," Lofton said. In addition to just being awake more hours to eat, people who don't sleep enough appear to make higher levels of a hormone called ghrelin that increases appetite.
The stress in life that cuts into our shut-eye time could also lead us to gain weight, Lofton said, because cortisol and other stress hormones tell the body to store fat. And the long workdays that make us both sleep-deprived and stressed could cause us to eat more of our calories later in the day, which has been linked to poorer weight control.
Although it may seem disheartening to imagine all the things that could thwart your efforts to lose weight, "it is a battle that we can fight and win," Lofton said.
She recommends monitoring your weight, and if it shoots up or down, think about what has changed in your life. You might not be able to avoid these changes, such as stress at work or taking a new medication, but you can compensate for them, by exercising more and making sure to eat well.
While there probably is more to weight gain than diet and exercise, this study does not make a strong argument for it, said Dr. Caroline M. Apovian, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the Obesity Society, a professional society of obesity experts.
The study, published on September 14 in the journal, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, relied on surveys that in turn relied on people to remember correctly (and be honest about) what they ate and how much they exercise.
Although the authors acknowledge this shortcoming, it could have changed the findings, especially because "it is much easier nowadays to underestimate what you're eating" than it was 20 or 30 years ago, Apovian said. With the prevalence of fast food and public snack machines, for example, it is too easy to get calorie-rich foods any time of the day, and not even be aware of how much you're eating, she said.
VIDEO-Friday Speaks Truth to Power! - YouTube
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:35
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:16
VIDEO-Roseburg Beacon Publisher: Obama Wants to Come 'Stand on the Corpses of Our Loved Ones' to Make a Political Point | MRCTV
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 07:12
In an interview on Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor," David Jaques, publisher of the Roseburg Beacon, said he has talked to "dozens upon dozens of citizens, victims' family members, and elected officials, who say President Barack Obama is not welcome in their town to "grandstand for political purposes."
VIDEO-Gun-Owning View Hosts Call for More Gun Control | MRCTV