Obama's Double-Standard on Leaks
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:30
Though President Obama touts America as a nation of laws and evenhanded justice, there is a blatant double-standard regarding how people are punished for national security breaches '' whistleblowers are harshly punished but the well-connected get a pass, writes John Hanrahan.
By John Hanrahan
There he goes again. In recently proclaiming Hillary Clinton free of any national security breach '-- even as the FBI was continuing its investigation of her use of a potentially risky private email server for official business while she was Secretary of State '-- President Barack Obama continued his disturbing pattern of rendering his personal verdict ahead of legal proceedings in high-profile cases involving classified government information.
From Private Chelsea Manning to General David Petraeus to Edward Snowden and now to Hillary Clinton, the President has sounded off with his opinions on guilt or innocence '-- and on any alleged damage to national security '-- in advance of either a trial, or an indictment, or completion of an investigation.
Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)
Short version: whistleblowers Manning and Snowden clearly guilty; former high government officials Petraeus and Clinton '-- no problem.
In April 2011 '-- two years before court martial proceedings began and almost two years before Manning acknowledged being a source for hundreds of thousands of classified documents released by Wikileaks '-- Obama proclaimed Manning guilty. The materials Manning provided to Wikileaks exposed diplomatic secrets and U.S. military abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, including showing greater numbers of civilian casualties than admitted publicly by U.S. officials.
Among the most shocking was the classified ''collateral murder video'' that showed U.S. military personnel in an Apache helicopter in a Baghdad suburb indiscriminately firing on and killing more than a dozen people '-- including rescuers and two Reuters employees '-- and wounding others, including two children.
Likewise, exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden was excoriated in absentia by Obama in January 2014 for providing to journalist Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras and others a trove of frightening National Security Agency documents. The documents showed that the Big Brother State had indeed arrived via the NSA's worldwide, dragnet surveillance and data collection programs.
Petraeus received Obama's no-harm-no-foul verdict in November 2012, while Clinton won the president's thumbs-up during a 60 Minutes appearance by the President that was broadcast this past Oct. 11.
In his public pronouncements, a double standard has been applied by the President to powerful former governmental figures caught up in investigations regarding classified information. In Obama's eyes, neither Petraeus nor Clinton did anything wrong: Not Petraeus in providing extremely highly secretive documents to his mistress Paula Broadwell; nor Clinton, in using her personal email server to conduct official business while she was Secretary of State '-- a server that might have contained classified information and that critics contend could have been easily penetrated by hackers, including unfriendly foreign governments.
And in both the Petraeus and Clinton cases, Obama stated his views publicly in an early stage of an investigation, sending a message that would certainly give pause to FBI investigators and federal prosecutors trying to build a case involving either of those two powerful former government officials.
It's worth revisiting some of what Obama said about these various national security investigations, and the possible impact his statements had or might have on subsequent events in these cases:
On April 21, 2011, Obama was confronted '-- and recorded '-- at a political fundraiser by a Manning supporter who wanted to know why Manning was being prosecuted on such serious charges. Manning, said Obama, was ''irresponsible, risked the lives of service members and did a lot of damage. '... He broke the law.''
Remember, this was two years before Manning went to trial and almost two years before Manning acknowledged being the source for documents released by Wikileaks. Nothing had been proved against Manning in any legal forum.
A protester marching in support of Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. (Photo credit: bradleymanning.org)
Obama also made further comments that have a delightful irony about them, given the subsequent investigation of Petraeus, as well as the disclosure that former CIA Director Leon Panetta had provided classified information to the makers of the torture-justifying movie, ''Zero Dark Thirty.''
Said Obama: ''If I was to release stuff, information that I'm not authorized to release, I'm breaking the law. We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate.''
To those of us who attended sessions of Manning's 2013 court-martial, with the defense hamstrung by adverse national security rulings and barred by espionage law from mounting a public-interest defense, the verdict was not surprising. But the draconian 35-year sentence meted out by military judge Colonel Denise Lind was a shocker even in the context of the sham that is ''military justice.''
Human nature, being what it is, would suggest that when the top military boss '-- the commander-in-chief '-- publicly pronounces the defendant guilty in advance of trial, some attention is certainly paid further down the chain of command to not only winning a conviction, but imposing a stiff sentence as well.
In that context, the President's pre-trial comments amounted to exerting undue command influence, as Manning supporters and even some in the mainstream press pointed out at the time. NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski wrote this:
''The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits 'Command Influence,' in which a superior officer up the chain of command says or does something that could influence any decisions by a military judge or jury in a criminal case. As commander in chief, there's no one higher up the chain than the president.''
In receiving that unconscionable 35-year prison term from Judge Lind, Manning may indeed be paying the price for Obama's pre-trial comments.
On Nov. 9, 2012, just three days after Obama was reelected, Petraeus resigned as CIA director as the news broke of his affair with Paula Broadwell. A mere five days after that '-- with the FBI's investigation still in an early phase '-- Obama, in his first post-election news conference, all but exonerated Petraeus,saying:
''I have no evidence, from what I have seen at this point, that classified information was exposed.'' He also said that he had seen nothing ''that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.''
Obama then poured it on, reminding the American public that this four-star general is a unique man who deserves being left alone because of all of his service on our behalf.
''We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done,'' Obama said. ''And my main hope right now is '-- is that he and his family are able to move on and this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.''
Obama may or may not have known that just the previous month (October 2012) Petraeus had lied to the FBI that he had not provided any classified information to Broadwell (who co-authored a biography of Petraeus). He had also signed a statement upon leaving the CIA that he had no classified material in his possession '-- another lie.
When the FBI raided Petraeus's home in April 2013, agents confiscated from an unlocked desk drawer eight notebooks that contained what the New York Timesdescribed as ''handwritten classified notes about official meetings, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and the names of covert officers.'' Petraeus himself described material in some of the so-called ''black books'' as being ''highly classified.''
Petraeus subsequently admitted providing the classified notebooks to Broadwell and worked out a sweetheart plea deal under which he was not charged with a felony or covering up by lying to the FBI, but instead was allowed to plead guilty to a minor misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
For that '-- in marked contrast to two convicted CIA whistleblowers, John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, who received prison sentences of 30 months and 42 months, respectively '-- Petraeus was given no prison time. His slap-on-the-wrist ''punishment'': two years probation and a $100,000 fine.
In addition to having a compliant Justice Department to thank, Petraeus can certainly give a tip of his general's hat to a president, who made his views clear early on: Namely, you do not send a world-famous general to jail for an offense that would likely land any less heralded soldier in federal prison for many years.
In any event, present and future high-ranking government officials should take note: There is now an apparent ''mistress exception'' loophole in all those laws and regulations relating to the leaking of classified materials.
In a Jan. 17, 2014 speech touting what he described as his plans to reform U.S. surveillance practices, President Obama said that the ''Snowden disclosures'' had the effect of ''revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.''
''Given the fact of an open investigation, I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations,'' Obama said. ''Our nation's defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy.''
Five days after Snowden revealed himself as the whistleblower source for the NSA documents, the Justice Department filed a criminal complaint against him, charging him with theft and '-- more seriously '-- with two espionage charges: ''unauthorized communication of national defense information'' and ''willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.''
In the event Snowden someday faces a trial, you can bet that some variation of Obama's words '-- that Snowden's disclosures had revealed ''methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come'' '-- will be part of the prosecutor's arsenal of charges. Just as was the case in the Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling and John Kiriakou prosecutions, whistleblowing equates to endangerment to us all.
In an appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes that was broadcast on Oct. 11, 2015, Obama said that Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server is ''not a situation in which America's national security was endangered.'' While he opined that Clinton's use of the non-governmental server was a ''mistake,'' Obama added: ''I don't think it posed a national security problem.''
How can the President be so sure in the initial stages of an investigation that Manning is guilty and Petraeus and Clinton have done nothing to endanger national security? That Snowden and Manning, though, did endanger national security, but Clinton's problematic private server '-- there for the possible picking by friendly or unfriendly nations or terrorist factions '-- did not?
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This gratuitous support for Clinton, coming smack in the middle of the FBI investigation, sends a message down the civilian chain of command: Move on. Nothing to see here. An FBI agent or Justice Department prosecutor might just want to think twice about whether it's a great career-enhancing move to keep pursuing the Clinton email matter when the President sends such a message out to the world.
(As if the pressure weren't already enough, knowing that the woman you're investigating could very likely be elected president next year.)
Even people who believe that Clinton did nothing wrong, who feel that this is just another Republican-influenced vendetta to sabotage her presidential campaign, should be concerned that a president would interject himself thusly into an ongoing investigation.
Two days after the 60 Minutes broadcast, White House press secretary Josh Earnest issued one of those statements intended for that segment of the American public that just fell off the turnip truck: The President's comment on 60 Minutes was ''based on what we publicly know'' and ''certainly was not an attempt, in any way, to undermine the importance or independence of the ongoing FBI investigation.''
A president who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School has to know that casting such public judgments with the weight of the presidency behind them '-- guilty for whistleblowers who perform a true public service, exceptions for high-ranking government officials because a double standard applies '-- further erodes the already crumbling rule of law in this fearful post-9/11 era.
John Hanrahan, currently on the editorial board of ExposeFacts, is a former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for '¯The Washington Post,'¯ The Washington Star, UPI and other news organizations. He also has extensive experience as a legal investigator. Hanrahan is the author of'¯ Government by Contract'¯ and co-author of Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. He wrote extensively for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. [This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.]
Challenging The White Middle Aged Death Rates
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:20
Are the statistics this tricky? Andrew Gelman endorses the main point of the recent paper noting the lagging mortality performance of middle-aged white Americans. However, he also explains his view that certain important adjustments need to be made, the upshot of which change the narrative slightly:
Death rates have been increasing for middle-aged white women, decreasing for men
Bring in the number crunchers.
Sharing the Wealth: Gig Economy Moves Toward a Portable Safety Net Truth on the Market
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:18
Today, thirty-nine different companies and policy experts from a wide swath of the political spectrumsigned a letterurging lawmakers to create a ''portable benefits'' platform that will enable sharing economy companies to continue innovating while simultaneously providing desirable social safety net benefits to workers. This is well timed, as there is a growing consensus among lawmakers (such as Senator Warner) that ''something must be done'' to provide benefits to workers in the so-called ''gig economy.''
In total, the thirty-nine signatories to the letter are pushing for changes to existing law based on a set of principles holding that benefits should be:
Independent;Flexible and pro-rated;Portable;Universal; andSupportive of innovationIn a nutshell, this would effectively mean that there is some form of benefits available to gig economy workers that follows them around and is accessible regardless of who employs them (or, ostensibly, whether they are employed at all).
Looking past the text of the letter, this would likely entail a package of changes to existing law that would allow individual workers to utilize some form of privately created platform for managing the benefits that are normally obtained in a traditional employee-employer relationship. Such benefits would include, for instance, workers' compensation, unemployment, disability, professional development, and retirement. A chief advantage of a portable benefits platform is that''much as in anunderlying justificationof the ACA''workers would no longer be tied to particular companies in order to enjoy these traditionally employer-based benefits.
Although platform-based work facilitated by smartphone apps is cutting edge, there is historical precedent for this approach to the provision of benefits. Unions have long relied uponmulti-employer plansfor providing benefits, and the healthcare industry developed portablehealth savings accountsas a means to free individuals from employer-bound health insurance plans. And the industry has been seeking fully private solutions to these sorts of problems for some time. For instance, Uberrecently partneredwith Stride Health to provide health insurance benefits to verified drivers.
There will, of course, be some necessary legislative changes in order to make these portable benefits platforms a reality. First, there probably needs to be a provision in the tax code that allows for workers' contributions to their own plans to receive the same tax-favored treatment that traditional employer-based benefits receive (or, even better, the political give-away would need to be removed from employer-based benefits). Additionally, companies would need to be able to make optional matching contributions with a similar tax treatment. And lurking in the background of all of this is the specter of a large number of employer obligations. Thus, a necessaryquid pro quoto get sharing economy companies to pay into these platforms will be some form of safe harbor shielding them from further obligations.
This is a win for both companies and workers. The truth is that our labor market is very fractured''labor force participation rates are at a low, and those who are workingremain chronically underemployed. Coupled with this reality, the technology that enables work is becoming ever more flexible and, as shown by their expressed preferences, individuals areclearly interestedin the gig economy as a means of easily obtaining work as needed. A portable benefits platform could provide the sort of support to make flexible work a viable alternative to employee status.
And for many employers''sharing economy and non-sharing economy alike''removing antiquated legal strictures from the employment relationship promises a number of increased efficiencies. Particularly in the context of sharing economy companies, this will include the ability to exert some form of control over platform workers without being sucked into an onerous employer-employee relationship.
For instance, Instacartrecently moveda number of its platform workers to part-time employee status. Although the decision was very likely multi-faceted, a big part of it had to be Instacart's desire to give training and guidance to the shoppers who provided services to the platform's consumers (for instance, instructing them on the best sequence in which to pick groceries in order to ensure maximum freshness). However, to provide any modest degree of oversight would likely mean that Instacart would move from empowering contractors to directing employees, and thereby run into a thicket of labor laws.
Yet why should this particular employee classification be necessary? Platform-based work is a revolutionary way to defeat thetraditional transaction coststhat justified large, centrally-organized firms. Companies like Uber and Instacart enable what otherwise would have been fallow resources''spare labor, unused cars, and the like''to be fitted to consumer demand.
Moreover, forcing rigid employee classifications upon sharing economy workers will only reintroduce inefficiency into the worker-company relationship. Instead of allowing workers to sign on just for the amount of work they are willing to do, and allowing consumers just to purchase the amount of work they desire, an employee classification essentially requires companies to purchase labor in blocks of hours. At scale, this necessarily introduces allocation and pricing errors into the system. If a smart safe harbor is included in any legislative push for a portable benefits platform, companies could have much more flexibility in directing platform workers.
I am excited to see this development emerging from the industry and from policy makers, and I look forward to the response of our lawmakers (although, this being election season, I don't expect too much from that response '-- at least not yet). There is understably a lot of concern about the welfare of workers in the new economy. But it's important not to lose the innovative new ways of working, producing, and consuming that the modern digital economy affords by resorting to ill-fitted legal regimes from the past.
Common ground for independent workers '-- What's The Future of Work? '-- Medium
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:17
Common ground for independent workersPrinciples for delivering a stable and flexible safety net for all types of workNew technologies and business models are fundamentally changing the economic landscape across the country, adding value to consumers' lives and bringing new opportunities for workers. These changes are also raising questions about the changing nature of work in America for businesses, workers, labor organizations, governments, and consumers alike. As our country has at prior moments of workplace change, we must find a path forward that encourages innovation, embraces new models, creates certainty for workers, business, and government and ensures that workers and their families can lead sustainable lives and realize their dreams.
Work today takes many forms. Many people move from one employer to another, work outside of a traditional full-time employment relationship (often as part-time workers, independent contractors, freelancers or self-employed workers) and earn income from multiple sources. By some estimates, as many as 53 million Americans are now self-employed. Yet our understanding of the relationship between businesses and workers''--'and the benefits and protections that evolved to support this relationship''--'have not kept pace with the rapid changes in the economy. New business models and technological innovations are providing a fresh opportunity to look at longstanding questions related to flexible and temporary work and the types of benefits and responsibilities workers and companies should expect.
We, the undersigned, believe that society and the economy are served best when workers have both stability and flexibility. Everyone, regardless of employment classification, should have access to the option of an affordable safety net that supports them when they're injured, sick, in need of professional growth, or when it's time to retire.
We offer these principles as a starting point for discussing how we can transition to a new social safety net for the workforce of today''--'and tomorrow:
1. Supporting both stability and flexibility is good for workers, business and society. New platforms are providing workers with the flexibility and mobility that many have wished for but not found in the traditional labor market. However, self-employed workers choosing to engage in flexible work may also encounter unforeseen work disruptions or other hardships without the protections and benefits that may be provided through full time employment. We are in agreement that flexible work should not come at the expense of desired economic security.
2. We need a portable vehicle for worker protections and benefits. Traditionally, benefits and protections such as workers compensation, unemployment insurance, paid time off, retirement savings, and training/development have been, largely or partly, components of a worker's employment relationship with an employer. The Affordable Care Act has disrupted that model, providing more independent workers a different avenue of access to health insurance. Another new model is needed to support new ways of work. We believe this model should be:
' Independent: Any worker should be able to access a certain basic set of protections as an individual regardless of where they source income opportunities.
' Flexible and pro-rated: People are pulling together income from a variety of sources, so any vehicle should support contributions that can be pro-rated by units of money earned, jobs done, or time worked, covering new ways of micro-working across different employers or platforms.
' Portable: A person should be able to take benefits and protections with them in and out of various work scenarios.
' Universal: All workers should have access to a basic set of benefits regardless of employment status.
' Supportive of innovation: Businesses should be empowered to explore and pilot safety net options regardless of the worker classification they utilize.
3. The time to move the conversation forward is now. The nature of work has been in flux for decades, and new technologies are accelerating these changes; progress on how we respond must begin immediately. Diverse stakeholders should gather to discuss how to accomplish these goals, including answering important questions such as: Who should contribute financially (and how much)? What type of organization (or organizations) should administer these benefits and protections? What type of legislative or regulatory action is required to create or enable this model while allowing for experimentation and flexibility? We believe these issues are best pursued through policy development, not litigation, with an orientation toward action in the public, private and social sectors.
We expect that the solutions to these challenges will develop from some of the same technological advances and entrepreneurial creativity that are driving new models. We are encouraged by emerging new ideas and experimentation in both the public and private sectors.
With this same spirit of enterprise and sense of mission, we invite policymakers and regulators, individuals and organizations to continue this conversation and contribute ideas. We encourage all interested parties to create space and time for innovation and new models to emerge''--'while ensuring that these shared principles guide our collective analysis of forthcoming policy proposals or solutions.
Byron Auguste, Senior Fellow, New America & Managing Director, Opportunity@Work
Brad Burnham, Partner, Union Square Ventures
Laphonza Butler, President, SEIU Local 2015
Shelby Clark, Co-Founder and CEO, Peers
Maureen Conway, Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program and Vice President, Aspen Institute
Bo Cutter, Senior Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
Natalie Foster, Fellow, Institute for the Future
Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future
Logan Green and John Zimmer, Co-Founders, Lyft
Tracey Grose, Vice President, Bay Area Council Economic Institute
Andrei Hagiu, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Nick Hanauer, Co-Founder and Partner, Second Avenue Partners
Oisin Hanrahan, CEO, Handy
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum
Sara Horowitz, Founder and Executive Director, Freelancers Union
Eli Lehrer, President, The R Street Institute
Sheila Marcelo, Founder, Chairwoman and CEO, Care.com
Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Instacart
Lenny Mendonca, Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Michelle Miller, Co-Founder, Coworker.org
Greg Nelson, Former Special Assistant to the President and senior advisor, National Economic Council, The White House
Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media
Satya Patel, General Partner, Homebrew
Ryder Pearce, Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer, SherpaShare
Libby Reder, Freelancer and former Corporate Responsibility leader, eBay
Carmen Rojas, CEO, The Workers Lab
David Rolf, President, SEIU 775 and President, The Workers Lab
Simon Rothman, Partner, Greylock Partners
Palak Shah, Director of Social Innovations, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America
Saket Soni, Executive Director, National Guestworker Alliance
Daniel Spulber, Elinor Hobbs Distinguished Professor of International Business and Professor of Strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Andy Stern, President Emeritus, SEIU and Senior Fellow, Columbia University
Arun Sundararajan, Professor and Rosen Faculty Fellow, New York University, Stern School of Business
Laura D. Tyson, Professor, University of California at Berkeley
Hunter Walk, General Partner, Homebrew
Micah Weinberg, President, Bay Area Council Economic Institute
Felicia Wong, President and CEO, Roosevelt Institute
Russian plane crash: waiting for that 0.1% (Opinion) - CNN.com
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:03
Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, had a similar just-about-there statement Saturday: "I think there's a growing body of intelligence and evidence that this was a bomb -- still not conclusive -- but a growing body of evidence."
Why did British Prime Minister David Cameron go from "more likely than not" mid-week in such an aggressive way that he seemed more American than British, only to recede by week's end, tempered by U.S. President Barack Obama's line that a bomb was just a possibility?
The explanation may reside in the intelligence wars between enemies and allies. Animating the drama of the tragedy itself is something much more covert and, in many ways, cuts to the core of any wartime strategy: Winning the battle isn't the same as winning the war.
We know now from numerous reports that Western intelligence officials picked up post-crash "chatter" by ISIS that it was responsible for the flight explosion. In most instances, such boasting means almost nothing standing alone.
ISIS, just like al Qaeda, will take responsibility for hurricanes and earthquakes if it can. Its major recruitment tool is, after all, looking like it is both tough and successful. Nothing says "we're winning" for ISIS than a victory lap over the bodies of innocent civilians.
But this chatter seemed different, different enough for nations to act on it without actually concluding -- with certainty -- that a terrorist attack had indeed occurred.
Today, the fight against ISIS will be long-term, involving multiple countries with a common strategic interest in defeating the terrorist organization. Each country -- in particular the U.S., Britain, Russia and Israel -- will also have its own interests in strong intelligence efforts in countries as politically far-ranging as Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.
And each will use its own sources and methods to infiltrate the group, garner information and track communications all in the hopes of defeating the enemy. The only way it works, though, is if the enemy doesn't know how it's being followed.
The result: a lot of equivocating, followed by near certainty. No leader wanted to disclose that the post-crash chatter was picked up, how it was collected, and what sources and methods were used -- including possibly human assets -- to get the information. The airplane blowing up is only a single battle; the war continues. And to fight the war, ISIS cannot know the extent to which it is being followed.
This is a real tension in the intelligence wars and why physical proof is so much less complicated than all this James Bond stuff. Simply put, with no definitive physical evidence proving a bomb, and (for now) inconclusive noise from transcripts of the plane's "black boxes," the chatter is the basis of all this near certainty.
And now that it knows that these signals were picked up, the terrorist organization has invaluable knowledge about Western efforts against it. ISIS is sophisticated enough to have now closed off those communications networks, which may have taken anti-ISIS intelligence agencies years to penetrate.
It is now being reported that Israel supplied that information, though it is not confirming this. Nor should it. These leaks are damaging to Israel, as well as the U.S. and all anti-ISIS nations, and it could be that the leaders of the attack are from a nation allied with Israel.
In addition, Israel has bilateral relations with Egypt based on common goals, and it probably will not be keen to disclose how much surveillance and espionage it is performing in Egypt. What we do know is that access to the group through whatever means Israel was using is now vulnerable.
There is still one alternative explanation for the ISIS boasts, and one that suggests why intelligence assessments alone -- absent physical proof like bomb materials -- are never as conclusive as we want them to be.
In Cold War days, intelligence agents often used false information to test whether they were in fact being followed; they would say that there was going to be a meeting at some specific place and time, and then wait and see whether enemy agents showed up. Agents would use what was called "black propaganda," leaking false information to set their enemies on a wayward course and expose the spying in the process.
This is why intelligence professionals don't often solely rely on chatter, since it can be so easily manipulated. And why the search for physical clues is so essential.
Waiting for that extra 0.1% does not come easily in a world where we want answers immediately. The stakes are too high, however, to get it wrong.
It appears now that the most likely explanation for a week where certainty is coming slowly has less to do with incompetence or government recalcitrance and everything to do with the road ahead.
If ISIS is responsible for the downing of the plane, then perhaps the short-term loss of intelligence access is worth the gain of exposing its murders. But the war against ISIS will continue well past events this week and, in that sense, we may have taken a few steps back.
Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine.
Charting a new course for the US Navy
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:01
Op-Ed, The Boston Globe IDEAS
November 8, 2015
Author:James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The Obama administration made an important statement in recently authorizing the Pentagon to order a warship, the USS Lassen, to transit close to an island constructed by China on a submerged reef in the contested South China Sea. Key US interests served include protection of the global economic system, the security of our allies in the region, and preserving the rules-based international order that has maintained peace in the Asia-Pacific region for decades.
While the US action was undoubtedly delayed in order to avoid affecting the recent summit between Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping, it fell well within the provisions of customary legal mechanisms governing maritime claims.
Aware of this, China has thus far been restrained in its protestations. It has also refused to acknowledge a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that the court has jurisdiction to hear competing maritime claims in the area. US partners and allies are likely, though more privately, pleased to see a more overt, though prudent, challenge to the Chinese claim. As such, the event is a setback for Chinas model of new great power relations code language for its desire that the United States cede its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
It remains to be seen how and how frequently the United States continues to reinforce international norms in the area. But because neither nation will benefit from a direct confrontation, both civilian and military diplomacy are already occurring to soothe this necessary friction between the two nations.
In any case, South China Sea tensions have once again raised the profile of the US Navy and its global mission. The USS Constitution, currently in Dry Dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard, serves as a constant reminder to Bostonians of the importance of having a powerful navy. Yet, laboring under the shadow of deep uncertainty over future budgets, the Navy is grappling with important and long-lasting decisions over how it will prepare to deter and, if necessary, win future conflicts.
Nowhere is the Navys future course more important than in the Western Pacific. While for the last decade the US military has focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, China has been strengthening its own military capabilities. Moreover, it is rapidly developing asymmetric capabilities intended to limit our ability to project power in the Pacific, including advances in countering surface ships, air power, space, and cyberwarfare.
While the US Navy still holds the upper hand, the traditional advantages in size and quality on which it has relied to overmatch Chinas relative advantages in distance and initiative are rapidly eroding. As a result, new ways to deter Chinese aggression against our allies and partners which are available should be developed.
For any navy on the seven seas, near-term decisions have long-term effects. While the projected US fleet is generally positioned well to support these new concepts, the Navy should keep seven factors in mind now as it balances impending investments in capability, capacity, readiness, and people:
First, it is time to recognize how hazardous it has become to venture in harms way on the surface of the ocean. Today the finders have major advantages over hiders. More and more space and volume are being required to defend surface ships against relatively low cost, highly capable antiship systems, which detracts from their other capability. There is still great utility for the Navys impressive surface fleet, from smaller littoral combat ships to the larger cruisers the service is attempting to refurbish, as well as aircraft carriers. But all of these ships are more likely in the future to operate outside dangerous waters.
As a result, and second, the Navy will need to invest more in asymmetric weapons, such as smart mines, nonlethal methods of stopping ships, cyberwarfare, highly capable standoff weapons, and a full range of electronic warfare. Moreover, the service must continue increasing its investments in a full range of electronic warfare, which have languished for far too long. Unfortunately, the communities within the Navy that advocate for these systems are not traditionally highly empowered, which means senior leaders will need to provide extra support. The burden of these investments may demand a slightly smaller fleet.
Third, the Navy and Congress should ditch the simplistic benchmark of overall numbers of ships, under which an aircraft carrier counts the same as a frigate. This metric places unhelpful pressure on the Navy to build increased numbers of low-end ships that, while certainly very useful in certain scenarios, will not perform well in a highly contested environment. We need the right combination of vessels, and this requires a far more sophisticated discussion than merely counting ships.
Fourth, due to the political near-impossibility of stationing more of its warships overseas, the Navy will need to make difficult trade-offs between the forward presence intended to deter conflict and the surge capability required to win it. Creative thinking regarding how presence is actually executed could provide additional leverage in this area.
Fifth, the service will need to maintain its longstanding advantage in both offensive and defensive undersea warfare. Advances in a number of technologies will enable greater use of undersea autonomous systems, and it is encouraging to see the Navy investing in this area.
Sixth, the Navy must keep its vital partnership with the US Marine Corps in mind. While a major amphibious landing in a conflict with China seems unlikely, there are ample scenarios that could call for the Marines expeditionary prowess.
Seventh, Navy senior leaders, led by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, well understand the many challenges facing the service and the need for innovation. Their greatest obstacles are fiscal pressures imposed by a divided Congress and old-fashioned institutional resistance to change, with the former amplifying the latter.
Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, said of companies in financial crisis, You spend more time arguing amongst yourselves over a shrinking pie than looking to the future, so you miss the big turn. While there are promising signs that the Navy is pursuing innovative ideas, it is vital to our nations ability to protect its national security interests that the service avoid missing the big turn this time around.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at:http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/11/08/charting-new-course-for-navy/rJeaDKEDlZiXkpKEXIAFlN/story.html
For Academic Citation:
Winnefeld Jr., James A. "Charting a new course for the US Navy." The Boston Globe IDEAS, November 8, 2015.
How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:00
Op-Ed, Washington Post
November 3, 2015
Author:David Ignatius, Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Future of Diplomacy Project
President Obama says he doesn't want to turn the Syria conflict into a proxy war. Unfortunately, that's already happening, as combatants join the battle against the Islamic State with radically differing agendas that could collide.
Let's look at the confusing order of battle: The United States has decided that its strongest partner against the Islamic State is a Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG. But Turkey, nominally our NATO ally, says the YPG has links with what it claims is a Kurdish terrorist group. How's that going to work out? No answers yet.
Russia, meanwhile, contends that it is fighting the Islamic State, alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian warplanes have beenbombing Islamist rebel groups that are covertly supported by the United States, Turkey and Jordan '-- and these brigades are fighting back hard. The rebels are posting videos bragging about their success withU.S. anti-tank missiles. The battle looks eerily like Russia's war in Afghanistan, in embryo. Where's it heading? No answer there, either.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fighting by proxy in Syria for nearly four years. This may be the most toxic conflict of all, because it feeds the Sunni-Shiite sectarian inferno that is immolating the Middle East.
Look across the map of shattered Syria and you see contradictory coalitions and partnerships. With so many powerful military forces gathering in the same area, the danger for accidents and miscalculations is large.
Why is this proxy war escalating at the same time the outside powers are holding diplomatic talks about resolving the conflict? The United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sent representatives to Vienna last week to explore the political transition they all claim to favor. The meetingwas not encouraging: No Syrian combatants attended, and the outside powers disagreed sharply about what a transition should look like.
''Fight and talk'' is a recurring cycle in Middle East conflict. So perhaps the recent military escalation is the prelude to diplomatic negotiations, as each side tries to extend its territory and strengthen its bargaining position before serious talks begin. We should be so lucky. But both Assad and the rebels seem as unready for compromise as ever.
Studying Syria from north to south, it's clear where ''deconfliction,'' as the military puts it, is needed to avoid unintended disaster.
On the northern front, the United States needs to deepen its consultations with Turkey as it escalates support for Syrian Kurdish forces and their Arab allies. President Obama is sending fewer than 50 Special Operations forces to Syria, but make no mistake, this is a significant commitment. The U.S. troops will need air support '-- not just to bomb the Islamic State, but for resupply, rescue if they get in trouble, and perhaps to enable the cycle of intelligence-driven ''night raids'' that was so devastating in Iraq.
What does Turkey think about this expanded U.S. role on its border, especially after the decisive election victory Sunday by the sometimes Kurdophobic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Pentagon officials say the Turks should be reassured, because the United States will now have greater oversight of the YPG's 25,000 fighters and can prevent supplies from getting to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey views as a terrorist group. It's a reasonable argument, but it needs Ankara's assent.
On Syria's southern border with Jordan, the United States has quietly helped train a rebel coalition known as the Southern Front,which claims 35,000 fighters in 54 brigades. Last week, Russian warplanes attacked some of those U.S.-backed forces at Al-Harra in southwest Syria, the site of a former Russian signals-intelligence station captured by the rebels. This is crazy. Moscow and Washington should look to de-escalate the situation, rather than torch it more.
But in the inexorable logic of the Syria conflict, worse is ahead. Maj. Essam al-Rayes, the spokesman for the Southern Front, told me in a telephone interview Tuesday that his forces expect a new Syrian onslaught this week, backed by Russia, to recapture ground south of Damascus. This pursuit of ''victory'' only helps the extremists.
What's over the hill, if the outside powers don't find a path toward de-escalation? Here's one grim hint: I had visits over the past several weeks from leaders of Kurdish political movements in Iran and Syria who envision the day when a greater Kurdistan dissolves the borders of those nations, as well as Turkey and Iraq.
If Russia, Iran, Turkey and the other proxy fighters don't help put the pin back in this grenade, a more devastating, regionwide explosion lies ahead.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-syrian-conflict-could-get-even-bigger-and-bloodier/2015/11/03/1973d678-826a-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html
For Academic Citation:
Ignatius, David. "How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier." Washington Post, November 3, 2015.
How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:00
Op-Ed, Washington Post
November 3, 2015
Author:David Ignatius, Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Future of Diplomacy Project
President Obama says he doesnt want to turn the Syria conflict into a proxy war. Unfortunately, thats already happening, as combatants join the battle against the Islamic State with radically differing agendas that could collide.
Lets look at the confusing order of battle: The United States has decided that its strongest partner against the Islamic State is a Syrian Kurdish force known as theYPG. But Turkey, nominally our NATO ally,says the YPG has links with what it claims is a Kurdish terrorist group. Hows that going to work out? No answers yet.
Russia, meanwhile, contends that it is fighting the Islamic State, alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian warplanes have beenbombing Islamist rebel groups that are covertly supported by the United States, Turkey and Jordan and these brigades are fighting back hard. The rebels are posting videos bragging about their success withU.S. anti-tank missiles. The battle looks eerily like Russias war in Afghanistan, in embryo. Wheres it heading? No answer there, either.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have beenfighting by proxy in Syria for nearly four years. This may be the most toxic conflict of all, because it feeds the Sunni-Shiite sectarian inferno that is immolating the Middle East.
Look across the map of shattered Syria and you see contradictory coalitions and partnerships. With so many powerful military forces gathering in the same area, the danger for accidents and miscalculations is large.
Why is this proxy war escalating at the same time the outside powers are holding diplomatic talks about resolving the conflict? The United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sent representatives to Vienna last week to explore the political transition they all claim to favor.The meetingwas not encouraging:No Syrian combatants attended, and the outside powers disagreed sharply about what a transition should look like.
Fight and talk is a recurring cycle in Middle East conflict. So perhaps the recent military escalation is the prelude to diplomatic negotiations, as each side tries to extend its territory and strengthen its bargaining position before serious talks begin. We should be so lucky. But both Assad and the rebels seem as unready for compromise as ever.
Studying Syria from north to south, its clear where deconfliction, as the military puts it, is needed to avoid unintended disaster.
On the northern front, the United States needs to deepen its consultations with Turkey as it escalates support for Syrian Kurdish forces and their Arab allies. President Obama issending fewer than 50 Special Operations forces to Syria, but make no mistake, this is a significant commitment. The U.S. troops will need air support not just to bomb the Islamic State, but for resupply, rescue if they get in trouble, and perhaps to enable the cycle of intelligence-driven night raids that was so devastating in Iraq.
What does Turkey think about this expanded U.S. role on its border, especially after thedecisive election victory Sunday by the sometimes Kurdophobic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Pentagon officials say the Turks should be reassured, because the United States will now have greater oversight of the YPGs25,000 fighters and can prevent supplies from getting to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey views as a terrorist group. Its a reasonable argument, but it needs Ankaras assent.
On Syrias southern border with Jordan, the United States has quietly helped train a rebel coalition known as theSouthern Front,which claims 35,000 fighters in 54 brigades. Last week, Russian warplanesattacked some of those U.S.-backed forces at Al-Harra in southwest Syria, the site of a former Russian signals-intelligence station captured by the rebels. This is crazy. Moscow and Washington should look to de-escalate the situation, rather than torch it more.
But in the inexorable logic of the Syria conflict, worse is ahead. Maj. Essam al-Rayes, the spokesman for the Southern Front, told me in a telephone interview Tuesday that his forces expect a new Syrian onslaught this week, backed by Russia, to recapture ground south of Damascus. This pursuit of victory only helps the extremists.
Whats over the hill, if the outside powers dont find a path toward de-escalation? Heres one grim hint: I had visits over the past several weeks from leaders of Kurdish political movements in Iran and Syria who envision the day when a greater Kurdistan dissolves the borders of those nations, as well as Turkey and Iraq.
If Russia, Iran, Turkey and the other proxy fighters dont help put the pin back in this grenade, a more devastating, regionwide explosion lies ahead.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-syrian-conflict-could-get-even-bigger-and-bloodier/2015/11/03/1973d678-826a-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html
For Academic Citation:
Ignatius, David. "How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier." Washington Post, November 3, 2015.
IS Second-in-Command Arrives in Libya
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 03:55
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.
DetailsJihadist NewsCreated: 10 November 2015Libyan media sources reported that Abu Ali al-Anbari, believed to be IS' governor for Syria directly under IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has arrived in Libya.
Register to read more ...
Notice -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Iran | whitehouse.gov
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 03:54
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAN
On November 14, 1979, by Executive Order 12170, the President declared a national emergency with respect to Iran and, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), took related steps to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the situation in Iran. Our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal, and the process of implementing the agreements with Iran, dated January 19, 1981, is still under way. For this reason, the national emergency declared on November 14, 1979, must continue in effect beyond November 14, 2015. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to Iran declared in Executive Order 12170.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
Kinderen in VS mogen de bal niet meer koppen | Spitsnieuws.nl
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 02:28
In Amerika is het voor kinderen onder de 10 binnenkort verboden te koppen tijdens een potje voetbal. Voetbalbond US Soccer komt met nieuwe regels om een rechtszaak van een groep ongeruste ouders af te wenden.
Een groep ouders klaagde vorig jaar de Amerikaanse bond, de Fifa en een organisatie voor jeugdvoetbal aan omdat deze organisaties te weinig zouden doen om hoofdschade bij kinderen te voorkomen. Volgens verschillende onderzoeken zorgt het veelvuldig koppen van een bal voor letsel.
Amerikaanse kinderen onder de 10 mogen dus niet meer koppen. Kids van 11 tot en met 13 jaar moeten minder koppen.
Ook de KNVB heeft de Amerikaanse maatregel meegekregen. Op dit moment wil de Nederlandse voetbalbond echter nog geen standpunt innemen. ''De veiligheid van kinderen is voor de KNVB van groot belang en we gaan zeker kijken naar de plannen van de Amerikanen. Maar op dit moment hebben we nog geen positie ingenomen over het onderwerp'', zegt een woordvoerder tegenover RTL Nieuws.
Migranten in hongerstaking in Tsjechisch detentiecentrum | Buitenland | de Volkskrant
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 02:24
Cookiewall: Cookies op de Volkskrant | de VolkskrantVolkskrant.nl gebruikt cookies om u een optimale gebruikerservaring te bieden
Ja, ik accepteer cookiesVolkskrant.nl gebruikt cookies en vergelijkbare technologien (cookies) onder andere om u een optimale gebruikerservaring te bieden. Ook kunnen we hierdoor het gedrag van bezoekers vastleggen en analyseren en daardoor onze website verbeteren. Cookies van onszelf en van derden kunnen worden gebruikt om advertenties te tonen en artikelen aan te bevelen op volkskrant.nl die aansluiten op uw interesses. Cookies kunnen ook gebruikt worden om op sites van derden relevante advertenties te tonen. Cookies van derde partijen maken daarnaast mogelijk dat u informatie kunt delen via social media zoals Twitter en Facebook. Meer informatie hierover vindt u in ons cookie-statement.
De serviceafdeling is te bereiken op telefoonnummer 088-0561561. De servicepagina kunt u hier vinden.Klik hier om direct de digitale krant te lezen.
Plane crashes into man's home. He's alive because he'd just left to buy Hot Pockets. / Boing Boing
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 02:21
A hankering for Hot Pockets saved the life of a man whose apartment was hit by a small plane. Jason Bartley, a 38-year-old factory, worker lost everything in the fiery crash--except his own life.
Nine people were killed.
There's a GoFundMe to help Jason get into a new home, and replace some of what's possible to replace. ''Jason had no renter's insurance and is literally left with nothing,'' his friends write.
The NTSB is investigating the crash.
Jason Bartley's spur-of-the-moment purchase of a pizza Hot Pocket and a breakfast Hot Pocket kept him away from his apartment a few minutes longer than he had planned '-- the apartment that was destroyed in the inferno that erupted during the plane crash that killed nine people Tuesday on the eastern edge of Akron. Precisely 39 minutes before the crash, he had been in the apartment, noodling around on his computer, trying to arrange a vacation to Miami the week after Christmas.
He realized that would take a considerable amount of time, and he wanted to get to the bank before it closed and run some other errands.
The clock read 2:14 as he tossed on a lightweight jacket and headed for the car. He stopped first at Chase Bank on Canton Road, then at the Giant Eagle next door.
Hustling to get home, he noted the time on his car radio: 2:45. Bartley decided to stop at Dollar General for that night's dinner and the next morning's breakfast.
As he was driving back to his apartment, he saw the smoke and flames and knew they would be very near his residence. Because the roads were closed, he parked his car and ran in that direction. When he saw that his apartment was the one ablaze, he immediately thought: ''Oh, my God. What did I do?''
Eventually, someone explained about the plane.
His emotions since have ranged from being ''very grateful'' to ''wanting to cry.''
Again, here's Jason's GoFundMe. Poor guy.
More: Akron apartment dweller misses plane crash by minutes [ohio.com]
NTSB officials investigating the crash say another pilot who just landed at a nearby airport says he didn't hear any distress calls, even though he was on the same radio communications frequency as the aircraft that crashed.
The crashed plane had been expected to land at a small Akron airport that doesn't have a control tower. The incoming flight was guided remotely by a larger airport in the area.
A cockpit voice recorder has been located and will be used in the ongoing NTSB investigation.
You'd be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ãã¼ãã'ããªãã>>ããããã"ãã¤ã¯ãMVãã>>ãããã¼ãåºè·çµäºã®ãç¥ãã [Sony; via The Verge]
READ THE RESTA leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company's consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are ['...]
READ THE RESTLA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
READ THE RESTExtensive 12-Week Online Program to Learn to Code. Love Your Job, Work Flexible Hours, & Get a Raise.Become a job-ready developer by building a portfolio of real-world apps and interacting 1-on-1 with the best mentors in the field. This Interactive Coding Bootcamp ($39) is as robust as it gets, including live instruction and job-hunting assistance, ['...]
READ THE RESTMake sure your personal data and Internet activity are never exposed with the extremely reliable VPN trusted by over a million users. Whether you're looking to beat geo-restrictions to binge-watch your favorite show anywhere in the world, or you need to send personal banking information over a safe connection, lifetime access to PureVPN's self-managed VPN network ['...]
READ THE RESTSo smooth, so attractive'...it doesn't get much better than the Apple USB wall plug. NomadPlus acknowledges the presence of true greatness'--it doesn't replace your charger, it makes it better. Slip it inside the NomadPlug and charge your phone and internal 1800mAh backup battery via wall outlet. When you unplug, NomadPlus goes from average wall charger ['...]
READ THE REST
Third Freight Train Derails (Second Owned By Buffett) Days After Obama Kills Keystone Pipeline | Zero Hedge
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 01:25
On Saturday, we noted with great irony, that just a day after Obama - with great pomp and even more preaching - killed the Keystone XL pipeline, that a freight train with 32 cars, belonging to Warren Buffett's BNSF, had derailed north of Alma, Wisconsin prompting several road closures and a voluntary evacuation of the affected area.
Then on Sunday, barely 24 hours later, in another Wisconsin derailment incident, a train, this time with 100-car, carrying crude oil, derailed near the intersection of S. Montgomery St. and West St. in Watertown on Sunday afternoon. The Mayor said the derailment happened around 2:00 p.m. While this train did not belong to BNSF but to Canadian Pacific Railroad instead, that was hardly comforting to the people. The spokesperson said 13 cars tipped over, one of which was punctured and oil.
And then, moments ago in what we initially thought was a joke, KCRG reported that close to two dozen train cars derailed after a crash Monday morning. Lt. Brett Grimshaw of the Des Moines County Sheriff's Office said the crash happened a little after 8 a.m. when a coal train hit a road grader that had been backed up onto the tracks.
And before you ask, yes, this train, too, belongs to BNSF, which in turn belongs to Warren Buffett,
BNSF railroad spokesman Andy Williams said two locomotives and 21 of the 135 cars being pulled derailed near mile marker 249 of Highway 34, which is between Danville and New London close to the Henry County line.
The grader was backed up onto the rails while doing repairs on Highway 34 and didn't see the train coming, Grimshaw said. The grader's operator was thrown about 40 feet by the impact of the crash and was checked by paramedics. No injuries were reported, Grimshaw said.
Williams said the two tracks at the site are out of service until the spilled coal is removed and any track repairs are finished.
Which reminds of what we said yesterday:
And now make that 3 in the past 8 months. But at least the environment is safe because Obama finally pulled the plug on the "dangerous" Keystone XL pipeline.
Today, you can make that 3 oil trains in the past 8 months, and now add one coal train to the mix.
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(4 votes)
Grow your own edible mealworms in a desktop hive
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 01:23
The idea of eating insects isn't new -- there are several cultures around the world that actually rely on them as a major food source. But those in the Western world haven't quite caught on, and that's a bit of a shame. See, insects cost a lot less to produce and are far less harmful to the environment than raising livestock. Katharina Unger thinks so too. Not only that, but she also thinks that people need be more informed about where their food comes from. That's why she and friend Julia Kaisinger created the LIVIN Farms Hive, which is what they're calling the first ever edible insect desktop hive. With it, the two hopes to spread the gospel and value of growing, breeding, harvesting and, yes, eating your very own mealworms.
LIVIN Farms HiveThe hive essentially acts as a fancy ant farm, except instead of ants, you're breeding meal beetles (Tenebrio molitor). When you get the hive, you'll also receive a starter kit filled with beetle pupae. The pupae then hatches into beetles, which then reproduce and lay eggs that hatch into larvae, or mealworms. The hive is climate-controlled with fans and sensors to reduce smell. You're then supposed to feed the mealworms kitchen scraps like leftover oatmeal or potato peels -- thus reducing more waste -- and after a bout a week, as the worms drop from layer to layer, you can "harvest" them.
As for any waste, you can simply discard them or use it as compost or part of your soil. Additionally, some mealworms will be separated in the harvesting process and turn into pupae. What do you do with the pupae? Well, you simply put them back at the top of the hive, where they'll hatch into beetles and start the whole process over again. It's a system that should guarantee you mealworms each and every week just from the first initial purchase. A week's harvest produces 200-500 grams of mealworms. This, according to Unger, requires ten percent of the land and a quarter of the feed that cattle would need.
Kaisinger tells me that the mealworms are really a super food. They have a similar protein content to red meat and the same beneficial amino acid profiles of tofu. They're also a nutrient powerhouse with plenty of vitamins and enzymes, she says. With about 500 grams of mealworms a week, you can substitute the meat in four to five mixed dishes.
I tried a few mealworms at a HAX event in San Francisco where Unger and Kaisinger were showing off the hive. It was crispy and nutty, and reminded me a lot of fried onions. I liked it more than I thought I would. Kaisinger says that the worms can be made into burger patties, toppings for salad, and more.
Still, the concept is a tough sell for a squirmy Western world that's largely afraid of creepy crawlies and bugs. It's an even tougher sell considering one of these LIVIN Farm Hives will probably cost around $700 at retail (There's a $500 early bird promo on its Kickstarter page), even if $700 supposedly buys you a lifetime's worth of never-ending food. Indeed, the Hive is only about $25,000 into its $100,000 funding goal, which means it's not too popular, at least not yet.
Yet, it's an intriguing idea, and it's one we haven't seen before. And even if you're not keen on buying a Hive for yourself, you can still pledge about $25 to get a little pack of tasty mealworms as a treat.
Mizzou hunger-strike figure from Omaha, son of top railroad exec : Lifestyles
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 14:55
Jonathan Butler, a central figure in the protests at the University of Missouri, is an Omaha native and the son of a railroad vice president, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
Butler refused food last week in a move to force the university system's president, Timothy M. Wolfe, from office. Wolfe resigned Monday and Butler ended his hunger strike.
Jonathan Butler played high-school football at Omaha Central High, where he won a state championship, and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Mizzou, the newspaper reports. He is working toward a master's degree in educational leadership and policy.
He is a member of a prominent Omaha family. The newspaper says that Butler's father is Eric L. Butler, executive vice president for sales and marketing for the Union Pacific Railroad. His 2014 compensation was $8.4 million, according to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Eric L. Butler and his wife, Cynthia Butler, serve as pastors of Joy of Life Ministries, the newspaper reported. Along with Jonathan Butler, the couple has two other children.
Butler, who was seen walking on the Mizzou campus on Tuesday, has declined to be interviewed by the Post-Dispatch, other than to say he was feeling better.
'Slotervaartziekenhuis verzwijgt hero¯newinsten' | NOS
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 14:46
Het Slotervaartziekenhuis in Amsterdam heeft jarenlang miljoenenwinsten verzwegen die gemaakt werden met de productie en levering van hero¯ne. Het ziekenhuis maakt die harddrug in opdracht van het ministerie van Volksgezondheid. De hero¯neproductie wordt gedaan door een aparte bv van het ziekenhuis. Die is niet terug te vinden in de jaarverslagen van het ziekenhuis.
Dat staat in het boek De kraak van het Slotervaartziekenhuis en de avonturen van Aysel Erbudak van Parool-redacteur Bas Soetenhorst en NRC-redacteur Jeroen Wester. Het boek verschijnt vrijdag.
Het Slotervaartziekenhuis komt later vandaag met een reactie op de berichten.
Langdurig verslaafdenDe hero¯ne die het Slotervaart maakt, is bedoeld voor een groep van 750 langdurig verslaafden. Behalve methadon krijgen zij in achttien klinieken in Nederland hero¯ne door hulpverleners toegediend.
Het ministerie van Volksgezondheid betaalt het ziekenhuis jaarlijks 3 miljoen euro voor het maken en leveren van de hero¯ne. Ruim 1 miljoen vloeit jaarlijks als netto winst in de speciale hero¯ne-bv van het ziekenhuis, Di-Acetylm B.V. Die heeft sinds 2005 het alleenrecht op de legale productie van hero¯ne.
De winstmarge op de hero¯neproductie is volgens Soetenhorst en Wester vergelijkbaar met de winst die Apple maakt op iPhones.
Niet vermeld Die hero¯ne-bv is niet terug te vinden in de jaarrekeningen van het Slotervaart, maar zorgde tot 2013 wel voor een kwart van het eigen vermogen van het ziekenhuis. Di-Acetylm B.V. is volledig eigendom van Slotervaart Participaties BV die zelf weer voor 100 procent van het Slotervaartziekenhuis is. KPMG, de accountant van het Slotervaart, heeft de jaarrekeningen steeds goedgekeurd.
Na de overname van het Slotervaartziekenhuis eind 2013 door de MC Groep van zorgondernemer Loek Winter en het Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Ziekenhuis is de eigendomsverhouding van de hero¯ne-bv veranderd. Het kankerziekenhuis is voor 51 procent eigenaar, het Slotervaart zelf voor 49 procent. Ook in 2014 schreef de hero¯ne-bv een miljoen winst bij.
DividenduitkeringHet is niet helemaal onopgemerkt gebleven dat de hero¯ne-bv van het Slotervaart wel erg goed boert. Het ministerie van VWS zet vraagtekens bij de prijs die moet worden betaald voor de hero¯neproductie. Die twijfels worden versterkt door een dividenduitkering aan een andere bv die deels eigendom is van ziekenhuisapotheker en lid van de Raad van Bestuur Jos Beijnen.
Het ministerie heeft Deloitte gevraagd om de gang van zaken met de hero¯neproductie door het Slotervaart te onderzoeken. Op 24 oktober 2011 rapporteert Deloitte. De conclusies liegen er niet om. 'Er is momenteel geen zicht op de kostprijs' van de hero¯ne, aldus Deloitte. Bovendien brengt het Slotervaart bedragen in rekening die niet als kosten meegeteld mogen worden. 'In de kostprijs zijn onderhouds- en rentekosten begrepen voor niet aangeschafte apparatuur'. En zo gaat het nog even door. Tenslotte concludeert Deloitte: 'Momenteel geeft de jaarrekening van .... geen bedrijfseconomisch verantwoord beeld van de bedrijfsvoering.
Veel later, in 2013, verlaagt VWS de prijs die betaald wordt voor de hero¯ne. Die daling van de inkomsten be¯nvloedt de winst van de hero¯ne-bv van het Slotervaart niet. Zowel in 2013 als in 2014 wordt een miljoen winst gemaakt. Net als in de voorgaande jaren.
In 2010 krijgt Modra Pharmaceuticals een dividenduitkering van 150.000 euro van de hero¯ne-bv van het Slotervaart. Beijnen heeft een kwart van de aandelen in Modra dat als doel heeft het ontwikkelen van kankergeneesmiddelen. Modra, met grootaandeelhouder Beijnen, sluit contracten met het Slotervaartziekenhuis waarvan dezelfde Beijnen bestuurder is. Dat lijkt op belangenverstrengeling.
NevenfunctiesDe apotheker heeft als directeur en aandeelhouder ook zeggenschap binnen de hero¯ne-bv. Die nevenfunctie van Beijnen bij de hero¯ne-bv is niet vermeld in de jaarrekeningen. Volgens het Slotervaart en KPMG was het niet nodig die functie te vermelden, zoals het ook niet verplicht was volgens het ziekenhuis en zijn accountant om de hero¯ne-bv te melden.
Beijnen weigerde volgens de auteurs van het boek alle commentaar. In 2011 verandert VWS de regels zo dat dividenduitkeringen niet meer mogen. Ziekenhuizen mochten al geen winst uitkeren.
De ziekenhuisapotheker en ex-bestuurder van het Slotervaartziekenhuis zit in meer bv's en stichtingen. Hij is bijvoorbeeld directeur van de Stichting NLADF. Die probeert bepaalde kankermedicijnen die nu alleen via infuus toegediend kunnen worden in tabletvorm te maken. Ook van Beijnens nevenactiviteit bij een priv(C)-bv waarin bijna anderhalf miljoen euro zit, wordt geen melding gemaakt.
Norway says Russian spies are ensnaring its politicians in sex traps - Quartz
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:49
Norwegian authorities say that Russians are blackmailing government workers, including MPs, into revealing state secrets by tricking them with duplicitous gifts like vodka and attractive women'--a well-known strategy from the Cold War era.
The head of counterintelligence for Norway's Police Security Service, Arne Christian Haugst¸yl, told state broadcaster NRK (link in Norwegian) that a growing number of Norwegians have been coming forward to report they have fallen into traps set by Russian spy agencies. He called the trend ''alarming'' and said Norwegian officials ''must be more aware of'' the problem.
According to the Local, Haugst¸yl suspects that Norwegians are particularly susceptible to being bamboozled when they are abroad, saying its people are too trusting when traveling outside the country. He also said that the number of blackmailing cases may be larger than authorities can account for ''because some people will undoubtedly feel the pressure is so large that they will not report it to us, or to their employer when they return'' from a trip abroad.
Govt. Researchers: Flu Shots Not Effective in Elderly, After All | Sharyl Attkisson
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:03
(Above image: a nurse interests a passerby in flu shot information. Courtesy: NCIRD/OD/HCSO Flu vaccination communications team)
An important and definitive ''mainstream'' government study done nearly a decade ago got little attention because the science came down on the wrong side. It found that after decades and billions of dollars spent promoting flu shots for the elderly, the mass vaccination program did not result in saving lives. In fact, the death rate among the elderly increased substantially.
The authors of the study admitted a bias going into the study. Here was the history as described to me: Public health experts long assumed flu shots were effective in the elderly. But, paradoxically, all the studies done failed to demonstrate a benefit. Instead of considering that they, the experts, could be wrong''instead of believing the scientific data''the public health experts assumed the studies were wrong. After all, flu shots have to work, right?
So the NIH launched an effort to do ''the'' definitive study that would actually prove, for the first time, once and for all, that flu shots were beneficial to the elderly. The government would gather some of the brightest scientific minds for the research, and adjust for all kinds of factors that could be masking that presumed benefit.
But when they finished, no matter how they crunched the numbers, the data kept telling the same story: flu shots were of no benefit to the elderly. Quite the opposite. The death rate had increased markedly since widespread flu vaccination among older Americans. The scientists finally had to acknowledge that decades of public health thought had been mistaken.
Read the government study that found no flu shot benefit in elderly
In 2006, lead author Lone Simonsen spoke with me on the phone and agreed to do an on camera interview with me on her study results, which she felt were very important. However, her bosses at the National Institutes of Health blocked the interview. I ended up finding one of her co-authors who was independent from the government and was able to interview him. These study authors who were honest, at their own career peril, should be commended.
After the Simonsen study, many international studies also arrived at the same conclusion. You probably haven't heard much about these ''incendiary'' findings. Too much money being made promoting flu shots?
Read Simonsen's commentary on her study
Read current CDC flu information
Here's my original video story on the topic.
Flu shots and elderly, CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson2006Millions of seniors swear by their annual flu shots. After all, 90% of the people killed by the flu are 65 or older. But CBS News has learned that behind the scenes, public health officials have come to a new and disturbing conclusion: mass vaccinations of the elderly haven't done the job. Dr. Walter Orenstein was among the first to notice the problem when he headed up the Centers for Disease Control's national immunization program. He says it's now become a consensus among public health experts.Dr. Orenstein: ''What is absolutely clear is that there is still a substantial burden of deaths and hospitalizations out there that has not been prevented through the present strategy.''Here's what scientists have found. Over 20 years, the percentage of seniors getting flu shots increased sharply from 15% to 65%. It stands to reason that flu deaths among the elderly should have taken a dramatic dip making an ''X'' graph like this (refers to graphic). Instead, flu deaths among the elderly continued to climb. It was hard to believe, so researchers at the National Institutes of Health set out to do a study adjusting for all kinds of factors that could be masking the true benefits of the shots. But no matter how they crunched the numbers, they got the same disappointing result: flu shots had not reduced deaths among the elderly. It's not what health officials hoped to find. NIH wouldn't let us interview the study's lead author. So we went to Boston and found the only co-author of the study not employed by NIH: Dr. Tom Reichert.Dr. Reichert: ''We realized we had incendiary material.''Dr. Reichert said they thought their study would prove vaccinations helped.Dr. Reichert: ''We were trying to do something mainstream. That's for sure.''Sharyl: ''Were you surprised?''Dr. Reichert: ''Astonished.''Sharyl: ''Did you check the data a couple of times to make sure?''Dr. Reichert: ''Well, even more than that. We've looked at other countries now and the same is true.''That international study, soon to be published, finds the same poor results in Australia, France, Canada and the UK. And other new research stokes the idea that decades of promoting flu shots in seniors, and the billions spent, haven't had the desired result. The current head of national immunizations confirms CDC is now looking at new strategies, but stops short of calling the present strategy a failure.Dr. Anne Schuchat: ''There's an active dialogue about how we can do better to prevent influenza and its complications in the elderly.''So what's an older person to do? The CDC says they should still get their flu shots. That it could make the flu less severe or prevent problems not reflected in the total numbers. But watch for CDC to likely shift in the near future more toward protecting the elderly in a roundabout way by pushing to vaccinate more children and others around the who could give them the flu. (Note: the government quickly followed this news with a recommendation to vaccinate children and infants for flu.)
flu shot, flu vaccination, ineffective, influenza, lone simonsen, NIH, Sharyl Attkisson, study, thomas reichert
Stay ConnectedSubscribe to my RSS Feed for email.
Investigative Journalist who tries to give you information others don't want you to have. What you do with it is your own business. Do your own research. Seek advice from those you trust. Make up your own mind.
Click here for Bio
NewsNovember 3, 2015NewsOctober 30, 2015by sattkissonHillary Clinton presented one set of Benghazi facts to her own family; another to the family of the victims and the American public. Within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Clinton emailed her daughter, Chelsea, that Americans had died at the hands of an al-Qaeda like group. Al-Qaeda is the Islamic ['...]
Web Design by Web Marketing Xperts
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:36
Executive TeamAlexander Fleiss CEO, Chief Investment Officer & Co-Founder B.A., Amherst CollegeSpencer Greenberg Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder Ph D. candidate, Machine Learning, NYUJonathan Sturges Co-Founder M.B.A., Columbia Business SchoolJeremy Newton Co-Founder B.A. Amherst CollegeLauren Crossett Director of Business Development B.A. Fordham UniversityMatthew Goldhirsh Data Scientist M.S., Applied Mathematics, Columbia UniversityRobert Pittman Limited Partner M.B.A. Columbia Business SchoolWei Zhang Data Scientist B.S.CUNY York College
Frank Newman Deputy Secretary, US Treasury Dept., CEO Shenzhen Development Bank
Nomi Ghez, PhD Retired Partner of Goldman Sachs, Board of Overseers NYU Stern
Lorne Weil Past Chairman & CEO, Scientific Games, Board of Overseers, Columbia BS
Robert Raskopf Partner & Head of Copyright Law, Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhardt & Sullivan LLP
Michael Keiser Founder, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort & Recycled Greeting Cards
Tanya Leise, PhD Assistant Math Professor, Amherst College
Nonprofit Profile for CENTER FOR APPLIED RATIONALITY
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:30
Basic Organization InformationCENTER FOR APPLIED RATIONALITY Name provided directly to GuideStar from organization* as of: 05/12/2014: CENTER FOR APPLIED RATIONALITYOrganization Name as listed in the IRS Business Master File as of 11/09/2015: CENTER FOR APPLIED RATIONALITY
* GuideStar encourages organizations to regularly update information on their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles. This provides richer and broader information about their programs, impact, finances, people and more.
Physical Address:Berkeley, CA 94704 EIN:45-3100226Web URL:rationality.org/ Blog URL:rationality.org/blog/ NTEE Category:H Medical ResearchH99 (Other Medical Research N.E.C.)Ruling Year:2012 Sign in or create an account to see this organization's full address, contact information, and more!
Legitimacy InformationThis organization is registered with the IRS.
This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
Institutional funders should note that an organization's inclusion on GuideStar.org does not satisfy IRS Rev. Proc. 2011-33 for identifying supporting organizations.
Learn more about GuideStar Charity Check, the only pre-grant due diligence tool that is 100% compliant with IRS Rev. Proc 2011-33.
Annual Revenue & Expenses (IRS Form 990, January 2013)Fiscal Year Starting: January 01, 2013Fiscal Year Ending: December 31, 2013
Revenue & ExpensesRevenue and expense information has not been provided by the nonprofit. Click here if you are associated with this organization and want to provide this information.
Back to Top >>Forms 990 Received from the IRS IRS Form 990 is an annual document used by approximately one-third of all public charities to report information about their finances and operations to the federal government. GuideStar uses data from Form 990 to populate its database with financial information about nonprofit organizations. Posting Form 990 images on the GuideStar website is an ongoing process.
Forms 990 Provided by the NonprofitFinancial StatementsAudited Financial Statement is not available for this organization.
Formation Documents A Letter of Determination is a letter from the IRS to a nonprofit organization stating that the organization has successfully applied for tax-exempt status. In this document the IRS indicates under which section of the Internal Revenue Code an organization is qualified.
Letter of Determination is not available for this organization.
Leadership(GuideStar Nonprofit Profile,GuideStar encourages organizations to regularly update information on their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles. This provides richer and broader information about their programs, impact, finances, people and more.
May 2014)Board ChairThis information has not been provided by the nonprofit. Click here if you are associated with this organization and want to provide this information.
Board Co-ChairThis information has not been provided by the nonprofit. Click here if you are associated with this organization and want to provide this information.
Board of DirectorsThis information has not been provided by the nonprofit. Click here if you are associated with this organization and want to provide this information.
GuideStar encourages organizations to regularly update information on their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles. This provides richer and broader information about their programs, impact, finances, people and more. May 2014)
GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.
Board Orientation & EducationWhy does this matter? Without clarity around their responsibilities and expectations, board members are not positioned to succeed. They may find themselves challenged to fulfill their governance responsibilities or frustrated by the expectations that the organization has set for them. BoardSource recommends that every new board member participate in a formal orientation process, and that all board members sign a pledge or agreement committing to their board service and to all of the responsibilities and expectations that come with service. Ideally, board members also should participate in a formal governance training program prior to serving on a board.
Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?Response Not ProvidedCEO OversightWhy does this matter? Oversight and management of the chief executive is one of the board's most important legal responsibilities. The CEO or executive director is the board's single employee, and - just like any other employer/employee relationship - regular and written assessment is critical to ensuring that the chief executive and board are communicating openly about goals and performance. BoardSource recommends that boards conduct formal, written reviews of their chief executives on an annual basis, which should include an in-person discussion with the chief executive and distribution of the written evaluation to the full board.
Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?Response Not ProvidedEthics & TransparencyWhy does this matter? A commitment to handling conflicts of interests is essential to creating an organizational culture of transparency. Boards should create and follow a policy for identifying and handling conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived. BoardSource recommends that organizations review the conflict-of-interest statement and require signed disclosures from all board members and senior staff on an annual basis.
Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements within the past year?Response Not ProvidedBoard CompositionWhy does this matter? The best boards are composed of individuals who bring a variety of skills, perspectives, backgrounds, and resources to tackle the complex and strategic challenges confronting their organizations. BoardSource recommends that boards commit to diversity and inclusion by establishing written policies and practices, which include strategic and intentional recruitment of diverse board members, continual commitment to inclusivity, and equal access to board leadership opportunities.
Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?Response Not ProvidedBoard PerformanceWhy does this matter? Boards need to regularly assess their own performance. Doing so ensures that they are being intentional about how they govern their organization, which is a critical component of effective board leadership. BoardSource recommends that a board conduct a self-assessment of its performance a minimum of once every three years to ensure that it is staying on track with its roles and responsibilities.
Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?Response Not ProvidedHighest Paid Employees & Their Compensation (IRS Form 990)Highest Paid Employee data is not available for this organization.
People information was last updated by the nonprofit in May 2014
Click here if you are associated with this organization and want to provide updated information.
Giving Library Experience a more personal way to give. The Giving Library connects you to nonprofits through online video interviews with the organizations' leaders.
Watch this organization's videoProgramsProgram: (GuideStar Nonprofit ProfileGuideStar encourages organizations to regularly update information on their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles. This provides richer and broader information about their programs, impact, finances, people and more. May 2014)
Budget:--Category:Population Served:Program Description:
Program Long-Term Success:
Program Short-Term Success:
Program Success Monitored by:
Program Success Examples:
Impact Summary from the NonprofitThis organization has not provided an impact summary.
Spencer Greenberg | Optimize Everything
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:23
Thanks for coming to my site! I'm Spencer, a mathematician and entrepreneur. This is where I record my thoughts about decision making, rationality, education, philosophy, science, and other subjects that I enjoy thinking about. I especially love exploring topics like "How can we modify our expectations to be happier?", "Why do smart, knowledgable people disagree so often?", and "How can we become more rational decision makers?" This site now has 50 articles, all of which can be read below. Hope you enjoy!
Suppose that you have to make a decision that will significantly alter the course of your life. For instance, imagine that you are trying to: decide whether to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend choose between two job offers in different fields decide ...
Read MoreThere are an incredible range of subjects that people disagree about, but only a small number of core reasons that people disagree. When we encounter complex and difficult to resolve disputes, it can be helpful to break them down in terms of these reasons. Thi...
Read MoreOne of the most powerful methods for changing how well you get along with others is to learn to adapt your expectations to how people are likely to behave. In fact, this simple trick is so powerful that it makes it possible for you to have satisfying and mutua...
Read MoreDoes warm water sometimes freeze faster than cold water when placed in the same conditions? "Absolutely no way," I said, a mere minute after I heard the claim. "People sometimes claim that NASA faked the moon landing too," I thought to myself. I pointed out why this claim is impossible. As warm water cools it must eventually reach the same temperature that the cool water started at. From that point on, the warm water will behave just like the cool water, but it will have taken the warm water a while to even get into that state. Freezing occurs at the same temperature for both warm and cold...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged belief, irrationality, opinion, reasoning, self-skepticism, wrongYou have control over yourself for the next eight seconds. Maybe even the next three minutes. Right now you can choose to go to the gym right now. Right now you can choose to start something difficult (but valuable) that you've been putting off for a long time. But right now you can't choose to go to the gym tomorrow. You definitely can't choose to quit your job a year from now. Because tomorrow if you don't feel like it, you're not going to go to the gym, regardless of what the you of today decided. And a year from now, who the hell knows what you'll want to do. By that point, you may have gi...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged future, identity, life hack, selfThose who grow up in the U.S. are often surprised to find out that in many European countries almost no men are circumcised. In the U.S., where the majority of men have had the procedure performed on them, it is pretty common to hear people say that foreskin is unclean, ugly, or even unhealthy. On the other hand, Europeans tend to find the idea of circumcision bizarre. "Why would you cut off a healthy part of your body?", they wonder. And "How would you feel about a culture that cut off their children's ear lobes?" Even medical experts in the U.S. and Europe can't seem to agree about the bene...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged beliefs, ethics, evidence, medical, studiesIf you live in a building with doormen or doorwomen in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc.), you are probably confused right now about how much you are expected to tip them for the holiday season. Nobody I've spoken to seems to really be confident in their answer to this and articles give conflicting advice on what a reasonable bonus is. That's why I made this little program to help solve the problem. Just click below, and answer a few quick questions in order to get an estimate of how much you should tip your doormen. You'll also get a fully automated explanation of how the calculation ...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged bonus, doorman, doormen, holiday, tip, tippingA while ago I wrote a post about the incredible value of seeking criticism. Today, someone asked me how we should decide when to seek criticism. Or, as he put it, when should we expect other people to have a better understanding of us than we ourselves do? Here are some rules of thumb. It's generally a good idea to seek criticism from others when: You care about having an accurate understanding of how others perceive you. It is easy to go for decades without realizing that your posture makes you seem like you lack confidence, or that people find the speed at which you talk hard to fol...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged criticism, flaws, self, understandingI was recently having a conversation with Geoff A. and Jana G. about how to systematically generate surprising ideas. I then sat down and created this program with them based on our discussion. Take a minute to try it, and generate some insight that you've never considered before! Click here to run Contradictory Insight!
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged belief, creativity, ideas, insightFirst, click here to figure out your chance of dying tomorrow. Is it worth taking a 1 in 100,000 chance of dying , in order to experience the novel thrill of sky diving? Is a 1 in 500,000 chance of death worth it to go bungee jumping? It's hard to know whether these risks are reasonable, because numbers like 100,000 or 500,000 feel so abstract to us. To think more clearly about these numbers, it helps to get our intuitions engaged. We can start by figuring out the daily risk of dying that we automatically face every day. My "death calculator" tool above will compute yours, as estimated ...
MorePosted in ArticlesTagged chance, danger, death, luck, probability, riskWould you be satisfied believing merely what it's trendy to believe? If so, you can adopt the beliefs of the people of your country, city, and friend group. But if you want to reliably have truer beliefs, you're going to have to use different methods than most people do. Selecting which "epistemic methods" to rely on may be one of the most important decisions you make. Your epistemic methods may determine the career you choose, the political party you vote for, the God or Gods you worship, whose health advice you trust, and whether the money you give away helps people or accomplishes nothin...
MorePosted in ArticlesWe over value the things we have, overreact when we can't have something anymore, and resist change. In other words, we hate loss. But because loss is frequent and inevitable, our hatred of it guarantees that we suffer. Let's take a look at the psychological mechanisms that make us act this way. The Endowment Effect Suppose that Nathan and Mae are two students at the same school. It is randomly determined that Mae will be given a school mug, which she gets to keep. Mae then writes down the least she would have to be paid to be willing to sell the mug. Nathan, likewise, writes down the most ...
MorePosted in ArticlesSuppose that mega-corp, a large corporation, has hundreds of employees, hundreds of thousands of customers, tens of millions of dollars of cash, a recognized brand, and an experienced CEO. Tiny-upstart, on the other hand, is just two twenty-five year olds with an idea, no funding, no users and no business experience. If mega-corp and tiny-upstart are in the same line of business, then by any reasonable stretch of the imagination tiny-upstart will lose the fight. So how is it that tiny startups seem to keep crushing huge companies? Consider the top 5 most trafficked websites in the U.S...
MorePosted in Articles
Dublin Regulation - European Council on Refugees and Exiles
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:19
What is the Dublin System?
The recast Dublin Regulation establishes a hierarchy of criteria for identifying the Member State responsible for the examination of an asylum claim in Europe. This is predominantly on the basis of family links followed by responsibility assigned on the basis of the State through which the asylum seeker first entered, or the State responsible for their entry into the territory of the EU Member States, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
The aim of the Regulation is to the ensure that one Member State is responsible for the examination of an asylum application, to deter multiple asylum claims and to determine as quickly as possible the responsible Member State to ensure effective access to an asylum procedure. The recast Dublin Regulation entered into force in July 2013 and is aimed at increasing the system's efficiency and ensuring higher standards of protection for asylum seekers falling under the Dublin procedure. It contains improved procedural safeguards such as the right to information, personal interview, and access to remedies as well as a mechanism for early warning, preparedness and crisis management. It applies to applications for international protection lodged as from 1 January 2014.
Together with the recast Dublin Regulation, three other legal instruments constitute the ''Dublin System'': Regulation (EU) No. 603/2013 concerning the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the recast Dublin Regulation and Regulation (EU) No. 118/2014 which amends Regulation (EC) No. 1560/2003 laying down detailed rules for the application of the recast Dublin Regulation.
How does it work in practice?
As the recast Dublin Regulation only became applicable from 1 January 2014 it remains to be seen how it will be applied in practice.
However recent publications such as the Dublin Transnational Network project 'Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold' report, show that the operation of the Dublin Regulation often acts to the detriment of refugees. Its application can cause serious delays in the examination of asylum claims, and can even result in asylum seekers' claims never being heard. Areas of concern include the excessive use of detention to enforce transfers of asylum seekers, the separation of families, the denial of an effective opportunity to appeal against transfers and the limited use of the discretionary provisions within the Regulation to alleviate these and other problems. It also impedes integration of refugees by forcing them to have their claims determined in Member States with which they may have no particular connection. Similarly the operation of the Dublin system may also increases pressures on those Member States at the external borders of Europe, where States are often least able to offer asylum seekers support and protection.
What is happening now?
Recent developments have highlighted the flaws in the Dublin system including the numerous Court challenges both at the European and national level against transfers to Greece and the proposal to recast the Dublin Regulation.
Over the past few years there has been a significant amount of Court litigation whereby asylum seekers challenged transfers to other Member States under the Dublin system, both for protection concerns and due to inadequate reception conditions, at the national level and at the European level. This culminated on January 2011 when the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in M.S.S. v Belgium & Greece amongst other findings that Belgium had violated Article 3 and 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights by sending asylum seekers back to Greece under the Dublin Regulation.
The Court ruled that Belgium was in violation of Article 3 for exposing the applicant to risks arising from the deficiencies of the asylum procedure in Greece, as well as exposing the applicant to the detention and living conditions there. With regard to the national appeal procedure in Belgium, the Court held that Belgium was in violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 because of the lack of an effective remedy against the Dublin decision.
Similarly in December 2011 the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of NS & ME that Member States have an obligation not to transfer asylum seekers to Member States where they would face inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of Article 4 of the Charter.
It is clear from these Court rulings that the Dublin System cannot work on the basis of a conclusive presumption that asylum seeker's fundamental rights in each Member State will be observed. Member States will have to ensure that they apply the Dublin Regulation in a manner which respects the fundamental rights of refugees.
'º The Dublin system fails to ensure that refugees are protected, and wrongly assumes that there are equal standards of protection across Europe.'º States must adhere to their obligations not to send asylum seekers to a Member State where there is a risk of a violation of their fundamental rights.
'º ECRE recommends that Member States apply the sovereignty clause in situations where the allocation of responsibility would result in transfers to Member States that are not compliant with the standards in the recast Reception Conditions Directive, recast Asylum Procedures Directive and recast Qualification Directive.
'ºThe definition of family should be extended, and asylum seekers should be able to join any family member lawfully present in the EU.
'ºECRE calls for Member States to apply the current Dublin Regulation in a protection sensitive manner. Ultimately however the Dublin Regulation should be abolished and replaced by a more humane and equitable system that considers the connections between individual asylum seekers and particular Member States.
Policy PapersECRE Guidance Note on the recast Dublin Regulation or ECRE Comments on the recast Dublin RegulationComments on the European Commission Proposal to recast the Dublin RegulationSharing Responsibility for Refugee Protection in Europe: Dublin ReconsideredThe Dublin Regulation: Twenty Voices - Twenty Reasons for ChangeMemorandum to SCIFAPublic letter to European Commissioner Frattini calling for reform of the Dublin II RegulationReport on the Application of the Dublin II Regulation in EuropeThe Way Forward: 'Towards Fair and Efficient Asylum Systems in Europe'
Duitsland stuurt Syrirs terug binnen EU|Buitenland| Telegraaf.nl
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:18
Exclusieve artikelen van de Telegraaf redactie
di 10 nov 2015, 17:15
BERLIJN - Duitsland stuurt Syrische asielzoekers weer terug naar landen waar zij de EU zijn binnengereisd, zoals dat hoort volgens het akkoord van Dublin. Sinds augustus gold vanwege de grote toestroom voor de Syrirs tijdelijk een uitzondering op die regel, maar die blijkt eind vorige maand te zijn ingetrokken.
Berlijn stuurt Syrirs en alle andere ontheemden weer terug naar alle EU landen, behalve Griekenland, zo maakte het Duitse ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken dinsdag bekend. Of er veel kunnen worden teruggestuurd valt te betwijfelen. Er zijn er namelijk maar weinig die zich bij binnenkomst in de EU in een ander land hebben laten registreren. Bovendien komen veruit de meeste vluchtelingen in eerste instantie via Griekenland de EU binnen.
(C) 1996-2015 TMG Landelijke Media B.V., Amsterdam.Alle rechten voorbehouden.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgGebruiksvoorwaarden | Privacy | Cookies | Cookie-voorkeuren
Digital Brand Advertising Fattens Margins for Big E-Tailers | Digital - Advertising Age
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:17
Retail data helps Hasbro target toys like Pie Face and FurReal Friends StarLilly My Magical Unicorn. Credit: Courtesy Hasbro Publishers that rely on advertising have been getting pummeled lately by ad fraud, ad blocking and a storm of competition for marketers' budgets. But there's one growing area of the web finding a big upside in ads: e-commerce sites.
Retailers selling products online are increasingly turning to advertising as an additional revenue stream that can offset the heavy costs associated with their core business -- think free shipping. Proprietary programmatic exchanges are making it simpler for retailers to scale their ad business and attract more money from product marketers with the lure of retailers' first-party data.
"Our big [retail] partners in this have evolved their e-commerce ad operations dramatically," said Ginny McCormick, VP-media and promotions at Hasbro. "It's definitely something we're investing in more."
Rakuten, an online market for everything from clothes to home appliances, has been selling more and more ads in recent years. "We have relatively thin margins, so we look for ways to augment that and ads are almost pure margin," said David Pourjahan, director-strategic sales and partnerships.
Others have made similar calculations. "Over the last couple years, all competitors that were traditionally just purely focused on retail revenue have come into the ad game," Mr. Pourjahan said.
"Margins on e-commerce sites are 3% or less," said Brian Quinn, chief revenue and innovation officer at Triad, a firm that helps retailers monetize and manage content for their e-commerce ad businesses. Advertising margins on e-commerce platforms, however, can be as high as 70%, making advertising "exponentially the highest-margin thing" retailers sell.
EMarketer expects sales from U.S. retail e-commerce to grow 14.2% this year. With that growth comes costs unique to e-commerce, such as free shipping, return shipping and higher credit card fees due to higher potential for fraud, said Jason Goldberg, senior VP-commerce and content at Razorfish. Advertising revenue can offset some of those costs.
For many e-commerce sites, that begins with providing discovery for products that they sell. But some, like Amazon, have experimented with running ads for products that are and aren't sold on its site. (Amazon recently discontinued that option.) Some, like Walmart and Target, have their own private ad exchanges, making them look more like digital publishers. Or Google. "Search ads, by volume, are the biggest chunk of the monetization for retailers," Mr. Goldberg said.
Ad Age ReportsAd Age's consumer-focused Fact Pack offers key stats on travel, media/entertainment, automotive and mobile tech by various demographic segments. Brought to you by Neustar.
Learn moreAmazon, for the nine months ended in 2015, reported an 18.4% increase in North American sales from its nonproduct sales businesses, including advertising and cobranded credit card revenue. For the e-commerce giant, it was an increase to $579 million from $489 million.
"This is getting bigger," said Jared Belsky, president of 360i. "Amazon has the power to be an absolutely large competitor to Google in vertical search and retail search. Almost 40% of retail searches start at Amazon, not Google."
For Target, the digital ad business is more than a growing, alternative stream of revenue. It's also a means to a sale. "We think there is tremendous opportunity to bring together Target and our vendor partners to deliver engaging content, which is why we built Target Guest Axis," said Kristi Argyilan, senior VP-marketing at Target overseeing media and measurement. Target Guest Axis is the company's private exchange, which sells ad inventory to targeted audiences on and off its site based largely on its first-party data. "This will ultimately help us deliver a more relevant experience to our guests, as well as understand how our media actions are influencing guests from the first time they see an ad all the way through to purchase," Ms. Argyilan said.
Hasbro's advertising with e-commerce operators makes up less than 20% of its ad focus in the U.S., but its share of Hasbro's total media mix has risen by double digits in the past year, according to Ms. McCormick.
The growth is being fueled by the improving data that some retailers are now making available to advertisers. "There's data that these partners can provide that other media networks cannot," Ms. McCormick said. "It's insight into the purchase path and consideration, down to return on ad spend. It's not a traditional media model on impressions or performance. They're talking about how this will drive sales."
For example, Hasbro can find active shoppers who love to play board games with their families and then serve them ads that introduce new games such as Pie Face, in which players compete to avoid a faceful of whipped cream.
E-tailer search data is also available to advertisers. When an adult searches for toys with a filter of 5-to-7-year-olds, Hasbro now has data and technology to instantly serve an ad to that adult for an appropriate toy, such as FurReal Friends StarLily My Magical Unicorn.
Although ads tied to the sale of specific products are probably coming out of sales team budgets rather than corporate marketing budgets, Mr. Goldberg said he's starting to see more marketing dollars spent on display ads on large e-commerce sites like Walmart.com. In the past, when large retailers sold ad space to its product manufacturers, it was categorized as co-op marketing. "If you wanted to play ball with Home Depot or Walmart, you had to pony up a few dollars of co-op marketing. In the old days, it was print ads and circulars," an industry expert said.
A few years ago, that business shifted to display ads on e-commerce sites, which is more targeted. Now retailer ad revenue is accelerating on "thoughtful one-to-one delivery of ads to consumers," 360i's Mr. Belsky said.
Rakuten's Mr. Pourjahan said his ad sales team once typically sold "broad ad programs." Now, he said, his team has seen "more response on the programmatic side over the last year."
Supporting that programmatic ad business for retailers like Rakuten is the growing presence of third-party firms that aggregate media impressions from multiple e-commerce websites, meaning the ad may show up on multiple e-commerce sites.
Rakuten works closely with HookLogic for access to a broad range of manufacturer vendor dollars. For HookLogic, the trends add up to around $100 million in billings for its three-year-old retail business, as well as growing spending from brands, said Jonathan Opdyke, CEO and co-founder.
"It's taken retailers a while to get to the point where they look at platform as more than point of sale," Mr. Opdyke added. Now, "it's a significant revenue stream."
Kiev has enough gas to last 4 days '' Gazprom CEO '-- RT Business
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:10
Ukraine has sharply reduced the volume of Russian gas purchased in November, according to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller. He says this is due to Kiev's financial straits, and that Ukraine's prepaid gas will run out on Saturday.
Ukraine's gas company Naftogaz has enough funds to pump 10 million cubic meters per day, a quarter of the gas pumped at the beginning of the month, said Miller. At the same time Ukraine reduced gas purchases from Europe, he added.
According to Ukraine's Energy Ministry Vladimir Demchishin, Kiev has already pumped a million cubic meters of gas more than last winter into its underground storage facilities.
Demchishin says the 17.1 billion cubic meters currently stored is enough to last the winter season. He added that Ukraine began using gas from its underground storage facilities on November 1.
Russia has been urging Ukraine to pump more gas from Gazprom over concerns that its clients in Europe could face gas shortage this winter. The Kremlin is trying to avoid a gas crisis similar to the winter of 2006 which left parts of Europe without heat. Nine years ago, Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine after Kiev failed to pay. Transit through Ukraine to Europe continued, but with shortages reported by European countries. Moscow accused Kiev of siphoning gas destined for Europe for its own needs.
Pando: San Francisco's political "disruptors" make hypocrites of us all
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:47
Last week was a good one for the San Francisco tech industry.
In the city's municipal elections, Proposition F '' seen by many as a referendum on the industry's control of City Hall '' failed to pass. In fact, as I reported after the polls closed, fourteen out of fifteen of the tech industry's preferred ballot positions went Silicon Valley's way.
The only bug in the code was the election of Aaron Peskin to the Board of Supervisors. Peskin is a long time progressive critic of SF's tech mayor, Ed Lee (or, perhaps, Ed.ly) and a staunch opponent of the city's tech-driven gentrification. His election means a rougher ride for the mayor and his tech supporters over the next few years. Poor old mayor.
Still, overall, the election result tells us a few things. Firstly that many thousands of San Francisco residents are perfectly happy with the sharing economy, as it's represented by Airbnb.
Of course, the tech industry took no chances -- buying up 100 times more television ad time than the pro-F camp, and running an extremely aggressive campaign to get techies to the polls (more on that in a moment). But then again, the anti-tech movement was no slouch when it came to headlines: One rock thrown at a Google bus trumps any number of dull ''vote no on F'' posters. There can't be a single San Francisco voter unaware of the effects that tech has had on housing rents and general cost of living.
Voter turnout played its part too: You might say that tech won the day, but you could just as easily say the anti-tech protesters blew it by failing to mobilize enough voters. As Airbnb pointed out during its victory lap, only 133,000 people voted in the election compared to 138,000 people in the city who use Airbnb.
Whatever your prefered explanation, or rationalization, last Tuesday's vote makes it increasingly difficult to position tech as an unwelcome occupying force in the city, or to suggest that somehow the industry is at war with the ''community.'' Electorally speaking at least, tech workers are the community, and those who oppose it represent the unpopular minority. If the election was a referendum on the tech industry then SF has voted ''yes'' on disruption.
And yet. And yet.
With this election campaign, the continued use of that word, ''disruption,'' has shifted from jarring to just plain ludicrous. It conjures images of young nerds using technology to upend the status quo, to hack their way through government bureaucracy and special interests (witness the headlines framing the defeat of F as a defeat for the evil hotel lobby, or a blow for Luddite legislators), and to empower citizens in ways they have never before been empowered.
Any claim that Silicon Valley might make about disrupting government over-regulation... Any notion San Francisco tech companies may harbor of being fresh-thinking, or enlightened or committed to transparency.... Any boast the sharing economy might utter about empowering regular folks against entrenched industry cartels'.... And certainly any suggestion that last Tuesday's electoral results were a validation of any of those things...
...can all be rebutted with two simple words: Ron. Conway.
Throughout the campaign, and for a long time before, Conway '' [Disclosure: a Pando investor] '' positioned himself as the chief connector between the tech industry and the Mayor's Office. Through his SF.citi group, and his large and influencial personal network, Conway has worked relentlessly to ensure that no legislation is passed in the city that might halt the expansion of the tech industry. He's worked with the mayor to win tax breaks for Twitter and other mid-Market companies. And, of course, he has personally campaigned for Lee, and against the mayor's opponents.
Right before the election, as I reported last week, Conway sent an email to his portfolio CEOs, politely ordering them to vote for a slate of candidates and ballot measures that aligned with his interests. This followed an earlier report by SF Magazine of Conway and Mayor Lee inviting donors to a closed-door meeting in which, after Lee left the room, Conway literally threatened dire consequences if they supported progressive candidate Peskin against the mayor's choice, and his own, Julie Christensen.
''They were all sitting there at the head of the table, glaring at everybody,'' recalls one attendee. ''So it wasn't lost on any of us what the message was.'' That message: Any attendee who aids and abets Aaron Peskin in his District 3 race against Lee appointee Julie Christensen will be given ''close attention'''--and could face blowback when conducting future business in the city. ''I was being threatened,'' sums up another attendee...
Well, I think we heard it pretty clear from the mayor. We'd better not have anybody here give to Aaron Peskin, or there'll be problems with Ed Lee.'' Conway reportedly told the stunned room, as ''political adviser'' Alex Tourk sat squirming...
Conway then purportedly confided that he had contributed heavily to swamp David Campos's 2014 assembly run, but feared that if he did the same for Christensen, it would bounce back on both of them. Conway then allegedly informed the assembled movers and shakers that they must pony up for Christensen. He would in turn make them whole by giving to their preferred causes...
You could tell [Tourk] was uncomfortable recalls a fellow attendee. ''He had a look on his face like, 'Please shut up, boss.'''
Tourk and Conway refused to comment to SF Magazine on the reports but anyone who has ever received AN EMAIL FROM RON CONWAY will know, Ron is more of a shouter than a shutter up.
He's a guy who so believes in the fundamental ''rightness'' of the tech industry that, like some of the disruptive companies he backs, there's no favor he won't pull, threat he won't make or electoral regulation he won't just barely skirt in order to hector his friends, contacts and investees into voting his way. Last week, Tourk told me that Conway believed it was his ''constitutional responsibility'' to tell his portfolio CEOs and their employees how to vote.
The only thing Conway won't do, of course, is actually show up to any political meetings, having declared himself ''too busy'' to actually mix with the electoral hoi polloi.
Most Pando readers might say ''so what?'' A glance at Conway's slate shows a list of causes on which it's hard to disagree. Parental leave for city employees, lobbyist disclosures, the ''Clean Energy Right to Know Act''. Even on Prop F '' the ballot measure that directly benefits Ron's investment in Airbnb '' San Francisco voters made clear at the polls that they are perfectly happy allowing homeowners to turn their apartments into hotels.
But I have to believe those same readers also see the flaw in that way of thinking. Turning a blind eye to Conway's slow transformation from bumbling angel investing uncle into Rose Pak 2.0 carries with it clear risks.
The first is the traditional risk of ignoring or actively permitting someone's bad behavior '' particularly in politics '' so long as it suits us. ''First they came for the Aaron Peskin, but I work for Airbnb so I did nothing'...''
That risk isn't limited to San Francisco residents. Having prevailed in San Francisco, Airbnb has made clear it intends to go global with its winning political formula: ''We're going to use the momentum of what took place here to do what we did in San Francisco around the world,'' said Airbnb's own political spin doctor, Chris Lehane.
You'd have to be out of your mind to think that, having got a taste for political deal making, Conway won't want to follow his portfolio company to Washington, D.C., and beyond. And he won't stop at hotel regulations. Conway has already begun campaigning for ''smart guns'' as a solution to gun violence and, back in 2013, I wrote about the CIA fundraiser he co-hosted at his home with George Tenet and'... uh'... MC Hammer.
Whatever your views on Ron Conway as political kingpin, it's hard to argue with the notion of Ron Conway as hypocrite. This is a man who sends outraged emails about the tech industry exposing ''the gross collusion that occurred'' in San Francisco politics while at the same time being one of San Francisco's most effective colluders.
Worse, in doing so, Conway makes hypocrites of the entire tech industry. Or at least of those in it who continue to give him a pass on the grounds of his cuddly public persona and his fat wallet. How can companies like Airbnb seriously talk about the election as a victory for ''power of people-to-people political networking'' when their own victory was brought about in part thanks to Conway using his influence and money to silence critics? And when Airbnb's message about people triumphing over politics is delivered by Chris Lehane, a seasoned opposition researcher who Karl Rove admitted he admired even after Lehane revealed George W Bush's DWI.
How can any of the 546 ''disruptive'' companies in Conway's portfolio feel good about having as their most vocal spokesperson and political lobbyist a man who has so much contempt for the electoral process that he would order tens of thousands of portfolio employees how to vote, without even doing them the courtesy of explaining why?
We'd already seen companies like Uber make a mockery of the concept of ''disruption'' by hiring David Plouffe, along with the former head of the CIA, to improve their relationship with the government. Uber, you'll recall, is currently the biggest private lobbyist in the state of Nevada, spending more than the casino owners combined.
Now, with Conway's transition from super angel to political super connector, and Airbnb's national, and global, political ambitions, it can't be long before other startups decide that, to succeed, they need to become part of the same machine they once vowed to disrupt. Pick a slogan: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or perhaps, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Here's my favorite: ''The disruptors looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.''
All of which leaves the tech industry, collectively speaking, with a choice to make. We could embrace the hypocrisy on the basis that, for now at least, Conway's interests are largely aligned with our own. What's good for his portfolio companies will likely benefit any of us who are building tech companies '' and so what if we continue to call ourselves disruptors which we increasingly embrace the exact same behavior and corruption we were supposed to be disrupting. Certainly that's the easiest path: Conway is a beloved figure and, as David Campos and Aaron Peskin will tell you, crossing him and his friends is a risky proposition. But for silence to be a sensible strategy, we have to be comfortable with being hypocrites, and also confident that Conway and his political cronies will continue to have interests aligned with our own.
Or we could go back to basics. To remember the days when the tech industry really believed what it said about disrupting government over-regulation and empowering users against special interests and corrupt local officials. To send a loud and clear message to Ron Conway and Ed Lee that closed-room meetings and threats to destroy political opponents is not how the game is going to be played this time around. Of course that would also require companies like Airbnb to stop hiring the exact same political manipulators who made the rules and set the tone the last time around. It'll mean sticking a wedge in the revolving door between the State Department and tech boardrooms and'... well'... let's just stop that fantasy right now. There isn't a chance in hell.
Which just leaves the third option: The tech industry could start being honest, with itself and the world. Admit that economically, electorally, politically and socially, many of the companies backed by Conway and his friends are no longer the plucky Davids but are in fact the Goliaths. Admit that the speakers at events like TechCrunch Disrupt have just as much '' if not more '' money and power than the attendees of Davos or Bilderberg. Hell, admit that many of the people who speak at Disrupt are the exact same people you'll find at Davos or Bilderberg. Let us grow comfortable in our new shoes and cars, and enjoy our new found wealth and influence. It'll be a long time until another movement grows powerful enough to disrupt us and, if history has taught us anything, that movement will be easy enough to co-opt when the time comes.
But, whatever choice we make '' and really it's an individual choice, not a collective one '' let's at least agree on one thing: When it comes to the relationship between the tech world and politics as usual, the word ''disruption'' has to go.
Same-sex marriage signed into law by Ministers
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:46
Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald signed the commencement order for the Marriage Act 2015 which will enable same-sex couples to marry in Ireland. Tnaiste Joan Burton signed an accompanying regulation under the Civil Registration Act 2004 at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac D"naill/The Irish Times
The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald signed the commencement order for the Marriage Act 2015 at Dublin Castle on Tuesday evening. It will bring provisions of the Marriage Act 2015 into effect from Monday next November 16th. From then a marriage can take place between two persons of the same sex.
Tnaiste Joan Burton signed an accompanying regulation under the Civil Registration Act 2002.
The signing by both Ministers order gives effect to the referendum of May 22nd last which approved marriage being available to same-sex couples. Such couples, including those already in civil partnerships, will be able to give notice of their intention to marry from Monday next.
At the Dublin Castle ceremony Ms Fitzgerald said ''the Irish people blazed a trail on May 22nd 2015 when they became the first sovereign people to choose marriage equality by popular vote. They determined that Ireland should be characterised by solidarity and inclusiveness. They have reaffirmed the importance of marriage and family for our society.''
Signing the order she added ''it is a real pleasure to sign this order in the company of some of the couples who will be able to marry in the coming weeks and months. The Marriage Act has profound symbolic importance, but will also have a real and tangible impact on their family life.''
The Dublin Castle ceremony brings to an end a successful campaign by the Yes Equality coalition of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) and Marriage Equality, Mark Kelly, ICCL executive, director said.
''The ICCL is profoundly grateful to Ailbhe Smyth of Marriage Equality and Kieran Rose of GLEN for their decades of dedicated advocacy in favour of full equality for same sex couples. The campaign stood on the shoulders of giants,'' he said. ''We should also like to express our appreciation for the sheer hard graft of Grinne Healy and Brian Sheehan, especially during the last intensive weeks of the campaign, during which they served as co-directors of campaign operations,'' he said.
''A small army of volunteers at headquarters and across the country truly brought the campaign alive and it is thanks to them - and everyone who voted yes in May 2015 - that marriage equality will become the law of the land on November 16th,'' he said.
Seeking asylum on children's bicycles - BBC News
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:43
Hundreds of migrants have cycled into Norway from Russia after finding a new route into Europe that avoids the deadly Mediterranean crossing. They are not allowed to cross the Arctic border on foot, so a lucrative trade in bicycles has opened up, with migrants buying bikes and pedalling the final few metres.
Fahed half squats and uses the palm of his hand to show me the height of the bicycle he rode across Russia's border with Norway. At full height he is about 5ft 10in tall but the hand he is gesturing with is about level with his knee.
"You rode a children's bicycle?" I ask.
"Yes, yes," He replies. "One for kids."
He smiles and then starts to laugh before taking another drag on his cigarette. He is from Algeria and speaks in broken English. He is one of an increasing number of migrants travelling overland into Russia and then north into the Arctic Circle to the point where the borders meet. In the whole of 2014 just seven asylum seekers crossed over the Storskog border crossing. In October alone there have been 1,100. Some are from Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon but most are from Syria.
They need a bicycle because the Russian authorities don't let people cross the Russian border on foot. Under Norwegian law, it is illegal for a driver to carry people into the country without the proper papers.
Fahed tells me he paid $200 (£130) for his bike when he arrived in Murmansk. He looks pleased with himself when he adds that the price included the taxi ride up to border crossing point - what he described as a "package deal". It's then that he made his one and only journey on his new purchase - cycling just 120m (130 yards) across the no-man's land between Russia and Norway.
Not taking into account the cost of the taxi ride, that works out at $1.60 per metre - probably one of the most expensive journeys in the world. But he has no regrets. He says it's a "small price to pay" to get to Europe.
All the asylum seekers are temporarily housed in the small nearby town of Kirkenes, which is hastily having to build a new reception centre to accommodate 500 more people.
The authorities take them from the border to the town by bus, so the bicycles get left behind at the border.
Most were made for children. A hundred or so are neatly stacked against the back wall of the border police's customs office, and these are just the bikes that have been collected over the past two days. Many are brand new. There's not a speck of rust on the chrome handle bars. Some still have protective bubble wrap on the frames, presumably from the factory where they were made, to stop them getting scratched.
What little sunlight there is bounces off the massed ranks of reflective mud guards. But this is a bicycle graveyard. Every two or three days they are collected up, taken away and crushed. It seems like a terrible waste - until the chief of the border police Stein Hansen takes a pair of handle bars in his bare hands, and with very little effort twists them into a u-shape.
He wishes the bicycles could be put to some use, he says, but by Norway's standards they are not fit for the road.
There's something slightly comical about seeing men on bicycles that are way too small for them.
Once they pass a red and green striped marker post, they are officially out of Russia. Freewheeling for a few more feet past the yellow barrier, they make it into western Europe.
As I watch, a young family appears, laden with luggage and carrying a baby. Exceptions can be made to the "no walking rule", it appears, as both the mother and father are on foot. Presumably their precious cargo gives them special dispensation.
However, each of them is also wheeling a bicycle with their free hand, so presumably this makes them cyclists and not pedestrians in the eyes of the law.
The reality is right now none of them care how absurd the rules are, nor how strange this looks.
The authorities here believe the numbers coming over can only grow.
Although the cold, wet landscape couldn't be more different than from the ones the migrants left behind, this Arctic road stays open, even in winter. Meanwhile the Mediterranean route - never safe - becomes even stormier.
Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.
Speaking Up Against Bias and Prejudice | Learn | MizzouDiversity
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:34
Nearly everyone has experienced a time when they wished they would have said something in response to someone else's insensitive remark or joke based on stereotypes or racial/ethnic slur. We are often afraid to speak up because we're worried about damaging our relationship with the person making the comment, are uncertain about the person's intention, or uncertain about our own perception ("Did I just hear that? Maybe I'm overreacting.").
Intentional or not though, words hurt and not speaking up just sends the message that the behavior is 'normal' and okay. The information below was created to help you speak up in a responsible way.
Spotting Bias and PrejudiceBias and prejudice often take many different forms'--from subtle remarks to threats and violence.
Insensitive remarksExamples:''Can I touch your hair?''''That's so ghetto.''''Your English is so good!''''But you don't look Native American.''
Belittling jokes Jokes that poke fun at an individual or group's race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, nationality, age, socioeconomic class, political affiliation, or physical appearance.
Non-inclusive language Language that ignores the presence of groups of people.Example: Using ''policeman'' instead of ''police officer.''
Stereotyping An over-generalization about a group.Examples: ''Mexicans are lazy.''''Muslims are terrorists.''''Women are weak.''
Social avoidance Avoiding a person or group based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, nationality, age, socioeconomic class, political affiliation, or physical appearance.
RidiculingMaking fun of or mocking someone based on the way they look or talk.
Bullying Constantly criticizing, ridiculing, dismissing, or ignoring/ostracizing
Slurs & Name-calling Derogatory terms used to insult individuals or groups based their race or ethnicity.
De-humanization Talking about (or treating) someone as if they were not a human being.Example: ''She's a dog.''
Vandalism & DesecrationExamples: Writing belittling remarks on or defacing someone else's fliers or posters.Destroying property motivated by hate for another individual or group.
Threats, Rape & Assault Some of the most severe forms of bias and prejudice. Violence, verbal or physical, is a criminal offense. 'Nuf said.
How should we speak up?A Note about Threats, Vandalism, Rape, Assault If you have experienced threats or have been the victim of vandalism, rape, or assault and need medical or other emergency assistance, call 911 or the MU Police at 573-874-7652. You can also submit an anonymous bias incident report If this does not apply to your situation, continue to Step 1.
Step 1: Get Ready!Now or Later? Should I speak up right when it happens or wait until the situation is less emotionally charged?
One-on-One or with Others? Does it make sense to confront the person in a group so that I have others to back me up?Or is it better to talk about it one-on-one over coffee or lunch?
Step 2: Get Set!Be Respectful Address the behavior. Don't attack the person. Calling someone ''racist'' or ''ignorant'' generally isn't a good way to get them to listen to you.
Listen First Listen for the feelings behind the statement. People often make biased comments when they are feeling frustrated, angry or threatened. Listen first to understand where they're coming from.
Step 3: Go!Respond in a way that's comfortable for you, respectful of the other person, and situationally appropriate. Not all of the following strategies work in every situation, but''I'' messages can be helpful in any situation.
''When I heard you say ____, I felt ____ (hurt, uncomfortable, angry) because____ (it's important to me that... I think we should ... my beliefs are... ).''
More Ways to Speak UpAdapted from Promoting Diversity and Social Justice (2nd edition) by Diane J. Goodman. (C) 2011.
Strategy #1: ''The Echo''Paraphrase or repeat back what they saidBy restating what the other person said, you make sure you understand what they said and it gives the other person the opportunity to reflect on what they said. Tone of voice is important. You're not trying to ridicule, just trying to understand and clarify.
Strategy #2: ''The Questionator''Ask for more information This strategy is a great way to help you understand why they said what they said. And again, it gives the person another chance to reflect on what they said. After saying it again, they might realize their statement doesn't make sense or is unfounded. Being genuine is important. Shaming or using sarcasm can backfire.
Strategy #3: ''The Huh?''Play dumbAnother way to get them to reflect on what they said'--especially good for responding to jokes. You can ask them why race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, disability, etc. is relevant to the story, or ask them to explain the meaning of a specific slur or derogatory term.
Strategy #4: ''The Debunker''Challenge the stereotype Offer another side of the story by challenging the assumption or stereotype. Use your personal experiences and knowledge to show how the stereotype presented isn't valid.
Strategy #5: ''The Connector''Highlight commonalitiesComments based on bias and prejudice create an ''us vs. them'' situation. Highlighting the ways in which the person making the comment is the same as the subject of the comments can help dial down the ''otherness.''
Strategy #6: ''The Emoter''Express your feelings Tell the person how you feel and why and then offer a more appropriate alternative.
Strategy #7: ''The 'I've been there'''Share your own process Without sounding self-righteous, talk about how you used to think the same but you've changed. Explain what made you change your views.
Strategy #8: ''The One-Worder''Say OuchSometimes when the comment is directed at you personally you want to respond immediately but can't think of a good response. Saying ''ouch!'' can stop the person making the comment and lets them know that what they said was hurtful. It's a safe, simple strategy that can work well in casual, peer-to-peer situations.
Oops! What if I realize I've said something wrong or hurtful?Everyone has, at one time or another, made a comment rooted in bias or prejudice. Here are a few things you can do if you have said something hurtful or wrong.
Apologize to those you may have hurt with your comment.Use it as an opportunity to learn why others found your comment hurtful or wrong.
Gen. Carlisle Says A-10 Retirement May Slide 2 To 3 Years
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:03
Gen. Carlisle Says A-10 Retirement May Slide 2 To 3 Years Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentaryHTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:03:10 GMT Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Transfer-Encoding: chunked Connection: keep-alive Set-Cookie: __cfduid=d696e06ecf0140131d15f9cdc433bb5901447189390; expires=Wed, 09-Nov-16 21:03:10 GMT; path=/; domain=.breakingdefense.com; HttpOnly Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0 Cache-control: no-cache="set-cookie" Expires: Thu, 19 Nov 1981 08:52:00 GMT Last-Modified: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:55:50 GMT Link: ; rel=shortlink Pragma: no-cache Set-Cookie: PHPSESSID=f2j4t4ed5imoogacvf3ev1sv12; path=/ Set-Cookie: AWSELB=21D7D77912959430C005A3D323F45AD6053725DD7467DC3AA9F3F773C9811AED9DF7E2735F00AB0B85E9C28A8388DCEB96927620AAE97E29857D5D43ECB8EB8F157AF45EFF;PATH=/;MAX-AGE=86400 Vary: Cookie X-Cache: EXPIRED X-CF-Powered-By: WP 1.3.16 X-Pingback: http://breakingdefense.com/xmlrpc.php X-Powered-By: PHP/5.5.21 Server: cloudflare-nginx CF-RAY: 2434b3db1d5f02b6-IAD Content-Encoding: gzip
Charges brought in largest US financial cyber-hacking - BBC News
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:02
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption JP Morgan is among several financial institutions affected by large hacking of customer data Prosecutors have charged three men relating to the largest cyber-attack of financial firms in US history.
Personal information for 100 million people was accessed by cyber-thieves between 2012 and the summer of 2015.
At a press conference on Tuesday, US federal prosecutor Preet Bharara called the scheme "securities fraud on cyber-steroids".
Twelve institutions were victims of the hacking, including JPMorgan, and asset manager Fidelity.
US prosecutors said they were expanding charges against two Israeli men, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, as well as a US citizen, Joshua Samuel Aaron.
Charges against the three men were expanded to include computer hacking and identity theft among 21 other counts.
Mr Aaron, 31, was a fugitive and believed to be living in Moscow, while Mr Shalon, 31, and Mr Orenstein, also 40, were in custody in Israel.
The men allegedly manipulated stock prices by selling shares of companies to individuals whose contact information they had stolen. They then dumped their own shares, causing the price to fall.
The men were also charged with running an illegal payment processing business that they used to collect $18m (£11.9m) in fees.
Prosecutors claim the men hacked into competitors' systems to spy on them and then hacked into a credit card company investigating their payment processing business in order to avoid detection.
Separate charges have also been brought against a Florida man, Anthony Murgio, who operated a unlicensed digital currency service and had previously been linked to the breach at JPMorgan.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission had already filed civil charges related to securities fraud against Mr Shalon, Mr Aaron and Mr Orenstein.
Kerry: panel to integrate climate threats into foreign policy plans | Reuters
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:41
US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press after a meeting with the Tajik president Emomali Rahmon at the Palace of Nations in Dushanbe November 3, 2015.
WASHINGTONSaying climate change's threat is not just to polar bears but to people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he is convening a task force to integrate climate and security analysis into broad foreign policy planning.
Kerry said the task force will consist of senior government officials and outside experts.
"If we can better identify the 'red flags' of risk around the world, we can better target our diplomacy and development assistance to enable those nations to become more resilient and more secure '' and less likely to devolve into full-fledged wars and humanitarian crises," Kerry said at Old Dominion University, according to prepared remarks.
The panel's work could help U.S. embassies plan for unexpected climate impacts around the world and help the U.S. Agency for International Development improve its capability to detect and prevent conflicts.
Climate change did not lead to the rise of the violent group Boko Haram in Nigeria, Kerry said. But the severe drought the country suffered and the government's inability to cope with it helped create volatility that the militants exploited to kill teachers and kidnap school girls, he said.
Kerry was speaking not far from the Norfolk Naval Station, the world's biggest naval base, located in Hampton Roads, an area threatened by a rise in sea levels linked to global warming.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
Poland to sue Russia over withholding 2010 plane crash wreckage | Reuters
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:38
Soldiers carry the coffin of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski in front of the President's Palace in Warsaw April 17, 2010.
WARSAWPoland will sue Russia in a human rights court over Moscow's withholding of the wreckage of a Polish jet that crashed in thick fog over Russia in 2010 killing the Polish president, the country's foreign minister-designate said.
Russia has so far declined to return wreckage, arguing it first needed to conclude its own inquiry. The decision by a new more nationalist Polish government to press the matter could add to tensions already stirred by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and subsequent EU sanctions against Moscow.
"We will be suing the Russian investigation in Strasbourg for dragging its feet," Witold Waszczykowski told TVN24 broadcaster, referring to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
"We will sue Russia in arbitration tribunals over withholding Polish property ... so that we get Russia convicted and ordered to give us back the property," he said.
A Polish government investigation blamed pilot error and the airport crew for the April 10, 2010 crash.
The crash, in Smolensk, western Russia, killed 96 people, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the central bank governor, top army commanders and other high-ranking officials.
Kaczynski's identical twin brother Jaroslaw now heads the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won an outright majority in both chambers of parliament in an October election.
Poland's defense minister-designate Antoni Macierewicz believes an explosion caused the 2010 presidential jet crash.
The 2010 crash happened as the president and his entourage were on their way to a ceremony to commemorate the Katyn massacre, when the Soviet Union's secret police killed thousands of Polish officers in a forest in western Russia in 1940.
(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; editing by Ralph Boulton)
Portugal's left-wing opposition topples minority government - BBC News
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:09
Image copyrightEPAImage caption Portugal's government has been toppled just weeks after elections Portuguese left-wing opposition parties have toppled the country's minority government by rejecting its programme in parliament.
A centre-right coalition won most votes in October's election but lost its overall majority.
A new leftist bloc has now voted 123 to 107 against the administration's programme, prompting its collapse.
The move could lead to a new government led by the Socialist Party, likely to focus on alleviating austerity.
The Socialists came second in the elections but have since forged agreements with the Left Bloc and the Communist Party, making an alternative coalition possible.
Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva must decide either to ask the Socialists to form a new government, or to allow the incumbents to stay in charge until new elections are held.
Speaking during the debate in parliament, Socialist leader Antonio Costa said his proposed coalition would "guarantee conditions of stable governance".
Pro- and anti-government supporters rallied outside parliament as the vote happened.
Portugal was one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis in the eurozone, accepting an international bailout in exchange for sweeping cuts.
The current government has warned that the left-wing coalition risks turning Portugal into another Greece.
Telegram Account Calls for Attacks on ''American Crusaders'' in Wake of Jordan Attack
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:00
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.
DetailsWestern JihadistsCreated: 10 November 2015A pro-jihadist Telegram account called for further lone wolf attacks on ''Crusaders'' in wake of the November 9, 2015 killing of two U.S. security contractors and three others by a Jordanian police officer.
Register to read more ...
A Trade Deal for Working Families - Bloomberg View
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 17:32
As president, my top priority is to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class. When I took office, America was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression -- but thanks to the hard work and resilience of the American people, our businesses have created 13.5 million jobs over the past 68 months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. The unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half -- lower than it's been in more than seven years. We have come back further and faster from recession than nearly every other advanced nation on Earth.
That's real progress. But as any middle-class family will tell you, we have more to do. That's why I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so important. It's a trade deal that helps working families get ahead.
At a time when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, this agreement will open up new markets to made-in-America goods and services. Today, exports support 11.7 million American jobs. Companies that sell their goods around the world tend to grow faster, hire more employees and pay higher salaries than companies that don't. On average, export-supported jobs pay up to 18 percent more than other jobs.
These are good jobs -- and this agreement will lead to even more of them. It would eliminate more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America products. For instance, last year, we exported $89 billion in automotive products alone to TPP countries, many of which have soaring tariffs -- more than 70 percent in some cases -- on made-in-America products. Our farmers and ranchers, whose exports account for roughly 20 percent of all farm income, face similarly high tariffs. Thanks to the TPP, those taxes will drop drastically, most of them to zero. That means more U.S. exports supporting more higher-paying American jobs.
At a time when our workers too often face an unfair playing field, this agreement also includes the highest labor standards of any trade deal in history. Provisions protecting worker safety and prohibiting child labor make sure that businesses abroad play by the same kinds of rules we have here at home. Provisions protecting the environment and combating wildlife trafficking make sure that economic growth doesn't come at the expense of the only planet we call home. And these commitments are enforceable -- meaning we can hold other countries accountable through trade sanctions if they don't follow through. So, these tough new rules level the playing field, and when American workers have a fair chance to compete, I believe they'll win every time.
I've said many times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the right thing for our economy, for working Americans and for our middle class. But I'm not asking you to take my word for it. Instead, I've posted the agreement online. If you build cars in places such as Detroit, you can see for yourself how your products will have a better shot of hitting the road in places such as Japan. If you're a farmer or rancher, you'll see how your products will face fewer barriers abroad. If you're a small-business owner, you'll see how this agreement will mean less paperwork and less red tape.
Along with the text of the agreement, we've posted detailed materials to help explain it. It's an unprecedented degree of transparency -- and it's the right thing to do. Not every American will support this deal, and neither will every member of Congress. But I believe that in the end, the American people will see that it is a win for our workers, our businesses and our middle class. And I expect that, after the American people and Congress have an opportunity for months of careful review and consultation, Congress will approve it, and I'll have the chance to sign it into law.
Together, we've overcome enormous obstacles over the past seven years. We've taken an economy that was in free fall and returned it to steady growth and job creation. And we've put ourselves in a position to restore America's promise not only now, but for decades to come. That's what I believe this agreement will help us do.
Obama: A Trade Deal to Benefit Working Families
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:Mary Duenwald at email@example.com
Russian Airliner Destroyed Over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula '' Cui Bono Suggests it Was Most Likely a Bomb Planted by MI6-CIA-Saudi Intelligence Factions Acting as ISIS TARPLEY.net
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 16:10
The case of the Russian airliner destroyed over the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt continues to preoccupy intelligence practitioners in large parts of the world. This tragic incident has claimed the lives of 225 Russian vacationers, and also led to the total suspension of British, Russian, and other flights to Egyptian airports, including that of Sharm El Sheikh, the tropical resort city from which the doomed airliner had taken off in the direction of Moscow before breaking up in midair, due either to a bomb or structural failure such as metal fatigue.
In the first days after this incident, a pattern emerged which saw Russia and Egypt asserting that any and all judgments were premature, and that it was wrong to conclude that the tragic crash had been the work of a bomb. It was clear that the Egyptian government, especially with President Sisi visiting London, was deeply worried about the devastating impact a bomb attack would have on its tourist and vacation trade, which had already been radically reduced after 2011 as a result of the various activities of the Morsi regime and its militant Moslem brotherhood backers. Russia was presumably reluctant to concede that one of its airliners could be destroyed by a terrorist group anywhere in the world. The Kremlin also seemed to be avoiding the implication that a terror group had been able to retaliate against the Russian presence in Syria and the many combat sorties flown against ISIS targets.
The other side of this debate was constituted by the British government, whose views then tended to be parroted by American officials in Washington. The UK was adamant that the air crash was the result of a terrorist bomb, and that this was the only possible conclusion. London was obviously enticed by the possibility of embarrassing both Cairo and Moscow. But, quite apart from the well-known track record of lies which has won for the British government the title of perfide Albion over decades and centuries, it was also clear that the thesis of the terrorist bomb was in many ways the most plausible. Maybe the UK and US assertions were an example of the truth being told by bad people for the wrong reasons.
Over the last few days, elements have emerged which seem to solidify the thesis of a terrorist bomb planted by some member or sympathizer of ISIS, or perhaps of a similar group. The London Independent is reporting about a new ISIS video which wants to claim credit for the attack on the Russian plane, describing it as a means of punishing Russia for the air attacks carried on by that country in the Syria:
'The Isis militant group has released a new video celebrating the crash of a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and reaffirming its claim of responsibility. The seven-minute video was released by the media wing of ISIS's Aleppo ''province'', and praised the ''lion fighters'' of the militant group's branch in Sinai for ''bringing down a Russian airplane.'' The video does not include any details of how the plane might have been brought down, but expressly describes the apparent terror attack as retaliation for Russian air strikes in Syria.'
Of course, the fact that a group of duplicitous fanatics is claiming credit for a terrorist action in no way proves that they actually did it. If the downing of the Russian plane is to be considered a victory for the terrorists, then that victory is sure to have many fathers coming forward to demand recognition.
Anglo-American sources are also pointing to the so-called ''chatter,'' meaning the radio and telephone communications exchanged among the terrorist fanatics, in which they congratulate each other for the atrocity committed. According to NBC News: 'Intelligence intercepts picked up chatter between ISIS operatives boasting about taking down an airliner after the Russian Metrojet passenger plane crashed in the Sinai last weekend, killing all 224 aboard, U.S. officials told NBC News Friday. ISIS operatives in the Sinai and ISIS leadership in Raqqa, Syria, were ''clearly celebrating'' the takedown of the commercial airliner, one official said. Details about how the plane was brought down were also intercepted, but the officials wouldn't specify what information was shared between the militants.'
Then, after the role of ISIS had been denied for several days, the Egyptian government announced that it had eliminated the boss of the ISIS terrorist cell in the Sinai after catching up with him and engaging him in a firefight: 'While the investigation into the crash of the Russian Metrojet A321 on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is ongoing, the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the incident.
On Monday, Egyptian authorities said they eliminated the leader of the ISIS cell based in the region. Ashraf Ali al-Gharably was the leader of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group, which recently pledged allegiance to IS and rebranded itself as the Sinai Province of the Islamic State.'
Of course, the Sinai Peninsula is home to a number of pre-ISIS terrorist organizations, many of them linked to the Moslem brotherhood, and many of them enjoying logistical support from the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. These groups have been conducting murderous attacks on Egyptian army posts in this area for many months, without getting much attention in the Western world. There is also the so-called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which supposedly has very sophisticated explosives capacities associated with one particular bomb maker who has been attempting for years to produce bombs which could not be discovered by the usual airport metal detectors. At the same time, there is much talk of airport security personnel, who might have been accomplices in the attack. We can expect another round of airport hysteria in the U.S. no matter what else does or does not emerge.
We are left then with questions of cui bono and cui prodest, which it may be premature to attempt to answer at this time.
It is certainly true that ISIS, if it is regarded as an independent or semi-independent entity, has reason for wanting to retaliate against Russia. The calculation here means that losses inflicted on the Russian population may awake the strong and horrible memories of the Soviet counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan during the 1980s. These painful memories, the terrorists might calculate, could be strong enough to energize opposition against President Putin.
A German expert on Russian affairs told a representative of the Tax Wall Street Party about a week ago that Moscow is now the scene of fierce factional warfare between supporters of President Putin and his opponents. The latter group may be the usual pro-Western economic neo-liberals who want to remain as part of the Federal Reserve System, or the division might be along some other lines.
Another party which has been mightily offended by the Russian return to the Middle East political scene is of course the Saudi Arabian monarchy, whose over-ambitious plans for the overthrow of President Assad of Syria have been frustrated, for the time being at least. And if this is true of Saudi Arabia, it also becomes true of the U.S. faction around Petraeus and Allen, who share this view.
More than one source has advanced what we could call a modern version of convergence theory, alleging that the purpose of bombing the airliner is to promote a common front of the United States and Russia against ISIS. Their reasoning is that if Moscow can be convinced that ISIS planted the bomb, then the Russian forces in Syria will be ordered to attack the Caliphate, which they have so far largely avoided. This certainly appears less plausible, since killing 225 Russians is hardly a way to promote cooperation. This version always leaves out who actually designed, produced, and placed the bomb. Was it ISIS, AQAP, the Saudis, or the CIA? Whoever it is, the Russians are likely to find out, and then the retaliation may go in surprising directions.
We should also remember the track record of Saudi Arabia in threatening Russia with terrorism. At the beginning of the winter Olympics in Sochi, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia travelled to Moscow and issued a threat to Putin, specifying that unless Russia stopped supporting Assad against the Saudi backed fanatics, the Saudis would visit terrorism upon Russia. This was then followed by a high profile attack on the Volgograd railway station. There was also much talk about the black widows, the surviving spouses of dead terrorists who were supposedly prepared to follow their deceased husbands into martyrdom.
But all of these explanations must be supplemented by a higher-level awareness of what is actually happening. For a number of months, there have been persistent reports that U.S.-Russian cooperation is actually much more substantial than the adversarial rhetorical posturing of the two governments would suggest. It has, for example, been suggested that Obama gave tacit approval, and even encouragement, to the deployment of Russian forces into Syria. This has to do with the idea that an American rapprochement with Iran is now ongoing, and that Washington needs to manage Saudi Arabia (the arch-enemy of Tehran), which is easier to do if the Russians are reasserting themselves in the Middle East. A related idea is that the Obama White House has finally comprehended that supporting the Saudi-Turkish attack on Syria using terrorist irregular forces (as demanded by Petraeus-Allen) has been a disastrous strategy for the United States, and promises to become even worse in the near future. From this point of view, the White House would welcome efforts by Russian forces to mop up ISIS, since this would relieve the Americans of the necessity of destroying ISIS and thus offending Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and various Sunni forces .
Implicit here is the idea that the public statements of especially Obama are designed to conceal rather than to display the essence of his policy. If this is so, then the purpose or net result of the Sinai airliner bombing may well be to disrupt the Russian-U.S. cooperation which is actually happening behind the scenes.
Another possible party to the squabble who should not be forgotten is of course the British, if only because they are the former colonial power which dominated Egypt for so many decades. The essentials of British imperial divide and conquer policy would always dictate that London act to disrupt cooperation between the US and Russia. This is all the more likely in the light of London's very obvious rapprochement with China, in which the experts from the City of London are providing technical assistance to Beijing in various moves to undermine the U.S. dollar.
Out of all these considerations, the current most likely suspects should be sought at the point where British, Saudi, and Moslem Brotherhood networks interface with the Petraeus or neocon faction of the State Department and CIA.
'-- STAY TUNED '--
''New Isis video celebrates Russian plane crash and praises Sinai branch for 'bringing down the jet'-Isis has released three statements on the crash '' but not previously from its central branches in Syria or Iraq,'' http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/new-isis-video-celebrates'...http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/russian-plane-crashes-in-the-sinai/cras'...http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151109/1029841264/egypt-isil-leader-'...
Mainstream Media Ignores University of Missouri Football Players "Pissed" By Boycott - UlstermanBooks.com
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:48
Mainstream Media Ignores University of Missouri Football Players "Pissed" By Boycott - UlstermanBooks.comHTTP/1.1 200 OK X-Pingback: http://ulstermanbooks.com/xmlrpc.php Content-Encoding: gzip Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 X-Port: port_10971 X-Cacheable: YES:Forced Content-Length: 18752 Accept-Ranges: bytes Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:48:34 GMT Age: 40709 Vary: Accept-Encoding, User-Agent X-Cache: cached X-Cache-Hit: HIT X-Backend: all_requests
Clinton making gender a focus of her presidential bid - The Washington Post
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:38
As the Democratic presidential candidates prepare for their second debate next weekend, a disputed moment of alleged sexism from the first exchange has come to symbolize a sharper and more personal confrontation between Hillary Rodham Clinton and her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The topic was gun control, the issue her campaign considers the keenest policy difference between Clinton and Sanders, and perhaps the only one on which he is positioned to her right. But it was Clinton's suggestion, after the fact, that the senator from Vermont had spoken to her in a patronizing and dismissive way by accusing her of shouting that has added an edge to an almost painfully polite primary contest.
The episode provides one of the clearest examples of how the Democratic front-runner '-- who largely avoided such issues in her previous presidential run '-- plans to make gender and her experiences in the male-dominated realm of national politics a centerpiece of her 2016 bid. But the focus on the Sanders remark, which could easily be taken as harmless or ham-fisted at worst, raises the risk that Clinton may come off as thin-skinned or too politically correct.
Sanders has denied that he had any sexist intent behind the comment, and Clinton has not directly accused him of such. Even so, her references since the exchange to the ways that people hear and react to women are clearly a subtle cue to female voters.
Clinton has ''mischaracterized'' his remarks on guns, Sanders said during a candidate forum Friday in South Carolina, suggesting that she has twisted the exchange for her own ends.
Sanders's wife made that charge more explicitly in an interview last week. Any suggestion that her husband is sexist ''is completely ludicrous, as every woman who's ever worked for him and known him knows,'' Jane O'Meara Sanders said.
''I think that's a misrepresentation of what he said, and I think they know that,'' she said. ''I also think it diminishes the fact that many, many women have been victims of sexism, so why are you calling it out when it's not there and you know it? That's not okay.''
In the first candidates' debate, Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, Clinton argued in favor of tougher firearm laws and accused Sanders of siding with the gun lobby. With a look of annoyance, Sanders replied, ''All the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns.''
Clinton and her allies have since characterized the comment as tone-deaf sexism. ''When women talk,'' Clinton told a crowd at a women's forum in Washington, ''some people think we're shouting.''
The subject and Clinton's knowing tone were meant to resonate with women who say they are evaluated by a sexist standard that expects them to be mild-mannered or deferential. Some Clinton allies also have complained that a joke from Sanders's campaign manager about considering her as a running mate was patronizing.
Until recently, Clinton mostly refrained from criticizing Sanders, even as his insurgent candidacy took off and posed a more potent threat than expected.
''She feels passionate about the issue of gun violence, and she's going to continue to give voice and expression to the view she's heard across the country, particularly [from] moms who have lost their children,'' Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said.
There is a clear gender gap on the issue. An October Washington Post-ABC News poll found that women were 16 percentage points more likely to say gun violence is a ''very serious'' problem andwere more likely to favor enacting new gun restrictions. The 2014 General Social Survey found that 35 percent of men report owning a gun, compared with 12 percent of women.
Sanders has fended off the suggestion of sexism from Clinton and her boosters by noting that he had talked about ''shouting'' and gun control for weeks before he confronted Clinton at the debate. Some Sanders supporters say it is a stretch for Clinton to make the case that the line was directed at her.
But Palmieri said, ''Throughout her life, Hillary Clinton has been a fighter for causes that most affect children and families, and she isn't about to modulate her advocacy on these issues now.''
The sexism charge is a preview of the kind of accusations Clinton and her allies seem likely to make against the eventual Republican presidential nominee. If Clinton wins the Democratic nod, her Republican opponent will probably be a man.
Clinton has repeatedly accused the large GOP field '-- all men, except for former technology executive Carly Fiorina '-- of ignoring or overriding women's health concerns and reproductive rights by attacking Planned Parenthood. Her defense of the organization over the summer against charges of improper handling of tissue from aborted fetuses was an unmistakable signal that she would target her appeals directly to female voters.
When she first delivered her line about women and shouting at an Oct. 23 women's forum in Washington, it received loud cheers, laughter and applause from the largely female audience.
''It's sometimes hard to believe, but the notion that women should be equal partners in the life of our nation is still pretty new,'' Clinton said at the event, where Sanders also spoke. ''I'm doing everything I can to make sure the issues that matter most to women and families are front and center in this race.'' She has repeated the same line several times since, but it has not resonated as deeply.
Clinton has focused on equal pay, better child-care and family-leave policies, and other issues particularly important to women, and she talks frequently about her experience as a working mother. The emphasis differs markedly from that of her unsuccessful 2008 campaign, when she played down her gender in favor of her credentials.
At a town hall meeting Saturday in Orangeburg, S.C., highlighting issues important to African American voters, one of the first questions Clinton received was from a young woman who asked how companies should be held accountable for pay disparities and how women can ensure that they are being paid the same amount as men for the same work.
Clinton answered with a simple: ''Amen.''
''I cannot do a town hall anywhere in America without being asked this question,'' she said to applause. ''And for all those Republicans who say this is not a real-world problem, I wish they could come to my town halls.''
''This is not just a women's issue, this is a family issue, this is an economic issue,'' Clinton said.
Sanders on defense
Sanders appeared Saturday in Rock Hill, S.C., at a regional meeting of a group that seeks to elect more women to office; he argued that the economic issues on which he has built his campaign are ''intricately connected'' to the advancement of women.
Sanders '-- a self-described democratic socialist '-- said that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, for example, would help millions of single mothers, as would making child care more affordable and mandating that employers provide three months of paid family leave after a woman has a child.
After Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was quoted by Bloomberg Politics as saying that Clinton would ''make a great vice president,'' Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, a group that promotes female candidates, quickly took to Twitter to call the remarks a ''condescending insult by a team who knows better.'' Other Clinton allies have noted that Sanders's senior campaign staff is overwhelmingly male and white.
Sanders has appeared ruffled and annoyed when asked about the suggestion that he and his team are insensitive or blind to women's concerns. In an interview with MSNBC last week, he cited his ''pro-woman voting record'' and pointed out that he had used the ''shouting'' line before. ''That's what I've been saying for months, and I think the record will demonstrate that,'' he said.
He added, however, that his campaign manager's remarks were ''inappropriate.''
Two days later, Sanders told reporters that the back-and-forth over sexism had gotten too personal, and ''that is unfortunate.''
Fifteen years ago, as Clinton was running for the Senate from New York, her team seized on a moment in a debate with her Republican rival, Rick Lazio, that many considered demeaning, when he strode across the stage and wagged his finger at her.
In a March interview with Mother Jones, Lazio warned that Republicans who aim to beat Clinton this cycle should learn from his experience. if her campaign ''can connect with women who have faced sexism, he said, ''this is going to be one of the tactics to put the Republican [nominee] on defense.''
Scott Clement in Washington and Abby Phillip in Orangeburg, S.C., contributed to this report.
Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.
John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Statement On The FCC's Decision Not To Regulate Edge Providers
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:31
Washington, D.C. '' Today, Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman issued the following statement on the FCC's decision not to regulate edge providers:
''We are pleased that the FCC has confirmed that it does not intend to use Section 222 of the Communications Act to regulate edge providers. Competition among edge providers is only a click away, and members of the Internet Association compete fiercely for users by providing superior products and services. We support the Commission's continuing commitment to refrain from regulating Internet content providers and platforms.''
Petulant Political Correctness Destroys Another Career: University of Missouri Edition
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:29
Petulant Political Correctness Destroys Another Career: University of Missouri Edition - UlstermanBooks.comHTTP/1.1 200 OK X-Pingback: http://ulstermanbooks.com/xmlrpc.php Content-Encoding: gzip Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 X-Port: port_10971 X-Cacheable: YES:Forced Content-Length: 19840 Accept-Ranges: bytes Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:29:17 GMT Age: 42524 Vary: Accept-Encoding, User-Agent X-Cache: cached X-Cache-Hit: HIT X-Backend: all_requests
The Disturbing Truth About How Airplanes Are Maintained Today | Vanity Fair
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:17
WELCOME ABOARDThanks to offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted.
By Trey Ratcliff/StuckinCustoms.com.
In the last decade, most of the big U.S. airlines have shifted major maintenance work to places like El Salvador, Mexico, and China, where few mechanics are F.A.A. certified and inspections have no teeth.
Not long ago I was waiting for a domestic flight in a departure lounge at one of the crumbling midcentury sheds that pass for an American airport these days. There were delays, as we've all come to expect, and then the delays turned into something more ominous. The airplane I was waiting for had a serious maintenance issue, beyond the ability of a man in an orange vest to address. The entire airplane would have to be taken away for servicing and another brought to the gate in its place. This would take a while. Those of us in the departure lounge settled in for what we suspected might be hours. From the window I watched the ground crew unload the bags from the original airplane. When the new one arrived, the crew pumped the fuel, loaded the bags, and stocked the galley. It was a scene I'd witnessed countless times. Soon we would board and be on the way to our destinations.
As for the first airplane, the one with the maintenance problem'--what was its destination going to be? When you have time on your hands, you begin to wonder about things like this. My own assumption, as yours might have been, was that the aircraft would be towed to a nearby hangar for a stopgap repair and then flown to a central maintenance facility run by the airline somewhere in the U.S. Or maybe there was one right here at the airport. In any case, if it needed a major overhaul, presumably it would be performed by the airline's staff of trained professionals. If Apple feels it needs a ''Genius Bar'' at its stores to deal with hardware and software that cost a few hundred dollars, an airline must have something equivalent to safeguard an airplane worth a few hundred million.
About this I would be wrong'--as wrong as it is possible to be. Over the past decade, nearly all large U.S. airlines have shifted heavy maintenance work on their airplanes to repair shops thousands of miles away, in developing countries, where the mechanics who take the planes apart (completely) and put them back together (or almost) may not even be able to read or speak English. US Airways and Southwest fly planes to a maintenance facility in El Salvador. Delta sends planes to Mexico. United uses a shop in China. American still does much of its most intensive maintenance in-house in the U.S., but that is likely to change in the aftermath of the company's merger with US Airways.
Related: The Human Factor
The airlines are shipping this maintenance work offshore for the reason you'd expect: to cut labor costs. Mechanics in El Salvador, Mexico, China, and elsewhere earn a fraction of what mechanics in the U.S. do. In part because of this offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted, from 72,000 in the year 2000 to fewer than 50,000 today. But the issue isn't just jobs. A century ago, Upton Sinclair wrote his novel The Jungle to call attention to the plight of workers in the slaughterhouses, but what really got people upset was learning how unsafe their meat was. Safety is an issue here, too. The Federal Aviation Administration is supposed to be inspecting all the overseas facilities that do maintenance for airlines'--just as it is supposed to inspect those in America. But the F.A.A. no longer has the money or the manpower to do this.
One of the fastest-growing of the offshore repair sites is on the perimeter of El Salvador's Monse±or 'scar Arnulfo Romero International Airport. Named for the archbishop who was assassinated during Mass in 1980, the airport has become a busy hub, owing largely to a steady influx of foreign jetliners needing maintenance and repair. Jets flying the insignia of US Airways, Southwest, Jet Blue, and many smaller American carriers are a common sight as they touch down and taxi to the Aeroman complex at the edge of the field.
Aeroman was once the repair base for El Salvador's modest national airline. It has mushroomed into a complex of five hangars, 18 production lines, and numerous specialty shops that perform virtually all phases of aircraft overhaul. The company has picked up the familiar multi-national technobabble, describing itself as a ''world leader in providing aircraft-maintenance solutions.'' About 2,000 mechanics and other employees work in the company's tightly guarded airport compound, encircled by a fence and barbed wire.
The airplanes that U.S. carriers send to Aeroman undergo what's known in the industry as ''heavy maintenance,'' which often involves a complete teardown of the aircraft. Every plate and panel on the wings, tail, flaps, and rudder are unscrewed, and all the parts within'--cables, brackets, bearings, and bolts'--are removed for inspection. The landing gear is disassembled and checked for cracks, hydraulic leaks, and corrosion. The engines are removed and inspected for wear. Inside, the passenger seats, tray tables, overhead bins, carpeting, and side panels are removed until the cabin has been stripped down to bare metal. Then everything is put back exactly where it was, at least in theory.
The work is labor-intensive and complicated, and the technical manuals are written in English, the language of international aviation. According to regulations, in order to receive F.A.A. certification as a mechanic, a worker needs to be able to ''read, speak, write, and comprehend spoken English.'' Most of the mechanics in El Salvador and some other developing countries who take apart the big jets and then put them back together are unable to meet this standard. At Aeroman's El Salvador facility, only one mechanic out of eight is F.A.A.-certified. At a major overhaul base used by United Airlines in China, the ratio is one F.A.A.-certified mechanic for every 31 non-certified mechanics. In contrast, back when U.S. airlines performed heavy maintenance at their own, domestic facilities, F.A.A.-certified mechanics far outnumbered everyone else. At American Airlines' mammoth heavy-maintenance facility in Tulsa, certified mechanics outnumber the uncertified four to one. Because heavy maintenance is labor-intensive and offshore labor is cheap, there's a perception that the work is unskilled. But that's not true. If something as mundane as the tray of a tray table becomes unattached, the arms that hold it could easily turn into spears.
There are 731 foreign repair shops certified by the F.A.A. around the globe. How qualified are the mechanics in these hundreds of places? It's very hard to check. In the past, when heavy maintenance was performed on United's planes at a huge hangar at San Francisco International Airport, a government inspector could easily drive a few minutes from an office in the Bay Area to make a surprise inspection. Today that maintenance work is done in Beijing. The inspectors responsible for checking on how Chinese workers service airplanes are based in Los Angeles, 6,500 miles away.
Lack of proximity is only part of the problem. To inspect any foreign repair station, the F.A.A. first must obtain permission from the foreign government where the facility is located. Then, after a visa is granted, the U.S. must inform that government when the F.A.A. inspector will be coming. So much for the element of surprise'--the very core of any inspection process. That inspections have had the heart torn out of them should come as no surprise. It is the pattern that has beset the regulation of drugs, food, and everything else.
A facility in El Salvador
By Rodrigo Flores/ImageBrief.
What effect does all this offshoring have on the airworthiness of the fleet? No one gathers data systematically on this question'--which is worrying in itself'--but you don't have to look far in government documents and news reports to find incidents that bring your senses to an upright and locked position. In 2011, an Air France Airbus A340 that had undergone a major overhaul at a maintenance facility used by U.S. and European airlines in Xiamen, China, flew for five days with 30 screws missing from one of its wings. The plane traveled first to Paris and then to Boston, where mechanics discovered the problem. A year earlier, an Air France Boeing 747 that had undergone major maintenance at another Chinese facility was grounded after it was found that some of the plane's exterior had been refinished with potentially flammable paint.
In 2013, yet another Air France aircraft, this one an Airbus A380 en route to Caracas from Paris, had to make an unscheduled landing in the Azores when all the toilets overflowed and two of the airplane's high-frequency radios failed. The Air France pilots' union said the incidents occurred on the airplane's first commercial flight after heavy-maintenance work in China. The company that performed the work also does maintenance for American. (Air France has denied that the problems were associated with maintenance done in China.)
You don't have to look far to find incidents that bring your senses to an upright and locked position.
In 2009, a US Airways Boeing 737 jet carrying passengers from Omaha to Phoenix had to make an emergency landing in Denver when a high-pitched whistling sound in the cabin signaled that the seal around the main cabin door had begun to fail. It was later discovered that mechanics at Aeroman's El Salvador facility had installed a key component of the door backward. In another incident, Aeroman mechanics crossed wires that connect the cockpit gauges and the airplane's engines, a potentially catastrophic error that, in the words of a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, ''could cause a pilot to shut down the wrong engine if engine trouble was suspected.''
In 2007, a China Airlines Boeing 737 took off from Taiwan and landed in Okinawa only to catch fire and explode shortly after taxiing to a gate. Miraculously, all 165 people on board escaped without serious injury. Investigators later concluded that during maintenance work in Taiwan mechanics had failed to attach a washer to part of the right wing assembly, allowing a bolt to come loose and puncture a fuel tank. China Airlines does maintenance work for about 20 other carriers.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Flying Virgin Galactic
Airline mechanics at U.S. airports who perform routine safety checks and maintenance tasks before an airplane takes off report that they are discovering slipshod work done by overseas repair shops. American Airlines mechanics contended in a lawsuit last January that they had been disciplined by management for reporting numerous safety violations they uncovered on airplanes that had recently been serviced in China. Mechanics in Dallas said they had discovered cracked engine pylons, defective doors, and expired oxygen canisters, damage that had simply been painted over, and missing equipment, among other violations. An American spokesperson denied the allegations, contending that the airline's ''maintenance programs, practices, procedures and overall compliance and safety are second to none.'' Citing a lack of jurisdiction, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. The F.A.A., however, is investigating the allegations.
With huge subsidies, the Chinese government has created an aircraft-maintenance industry almost from scratch'--building hangars, hiring mechanics, and aggressively courting airlines to have work done in the People's Republic. Even engine repairs and overhaul'--the highly skilled aircraft-maintenance work that has remained largely in the U.S. and Europe'--may follow heavy maintenance to the developing world. Emirates, the airline owned by the Gulf states, is constructing a $120 million state-of-the-art engine-repair-and-overhaul facility in Dubai.
A 2007 explosion, traced to maintenance in Taiwan
Not everyone in official Washington is oblivious to what has been happening. The inspector general's office of the Department of Transportation has repeatedly called for the F.A.A. to demand more stringent reporting requirements. It needs to know where maintenance work is being done, and by whom. In 2003, the inspector general called on the F.A.A. to require drug testing of workers at foreign repair stations as a condition of F.A.A. certification. Twelve years later, the agency still has no such requirement. Similarly, there are no mandatory security checks for workers at foreign airplane-repair stations. In 2007, workers on a Qantas jet undergoing heavy maintenance in Singapore were reportedly members of a work-release contingent from a nearby maximum-security prison, though the airline denied the allegation.
In addition to sending work offshore, airlines are also outsourcing more maintenance work'--including heavy maintenance'--to private contractors in the U.S. Many of the issues that plague the foreign shops'--unlicensed mechanics, workers who don't speak English, and poor workmanship'--are also present at some of these private American repair shops. The F.A.A. at least has the capability to inspect domestic facilities more frequently than it does those overseas. (Despite frequent attempts, the F.A.A. did not respond to requests for information or comment on the issues raised in this story.)
The reality is that from now on it's going to be up to the airlines to police themselves. With the F.A.A. starved for funds, it will be left to the airlines to oversee the heavy maintenance of their aircraft. Have you noticed that this sort of arrangement never works? The F.A.A.'s flight-standards office in Singapore'--the only field office it maintained in the entire developing world'--once had half a dozen inspectors responsible for visiting more than 100 repair stations in Asia: not enough, to put it mildly, but they could accomplish something. By 2013 the number of inspectors was down to one. Now there is no one at all.
And I will confess that thinking about all this in the departure lounge puts the prospect of endless delay into perspective. Yes, I'll happily wait a little longer to board my flight'--and then hope for the best.
Petulance And Idiocy At Yale - Matt Vespa
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:06
Outrage has embroiled Yale University over Halloween costumes. It all began when the Associate Master of Silliman College, Erika Christakis, responded to an email sent by the Intercultural Affairs Committee prior to the annual day of trick-or-treating that asked students to be sensitive to politically incorrect costumes on Halloween. Silliman is one of the residential colleges at the university. Christakis, and her husband, Nicholas, the Master of Silliman, are now being targeted for termination by the student body for daring to say that Halloween is an exercise in free speech and expression. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education had a lengthy post that outlined this descent into madness''and how college campuses are becoming bastions for coddled little snowflakes that are afraid of having their feeling hurt or their opinions challenged:
On Wednesday, October 28, Yale Dean Burgwell Howard sent an email to Yale's entire undergraduate student body from the university's Intercultural Affairs Committee, a 13-member group of administrators from the Chaplain's Office, campus cultural centers, and other campus organizations. The email, titled ''Halloween and the Yale Community,'' implored students to be thoughtful about the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes and how they might offend or degrade others, pointing to costumes such as feathered headdresses, turbans, ''war paint,'' and blackface as examples of inappropriate ''cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation.'' Howard sent a similar email to the Northwestern University community in 2010 when he was the dean of students there.
While the committee's email acknowledged that students ''definitely have a right to express themselves,'' the committee hoped they would ''actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of our population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression.''
The committee then provided a list of questions students should ask themselves before deciding upon a costume, as well as links to websites educating students about common racial stereotypes.
Just after midnight on Friday, October 30, Erika Christakis sent an email to the Silliman community in response to the Intercultural Affairs Committee's Halloween email. Christakis explained that she and her husband Nicholas had heard from a number of students who were frustrated by the committee's email. Although the email was allegedly supposed to serve as a recommendation rather than a formal policy, to some, its length, tone, content, and the list of 13 signatories seemed to indicate otherwise.
In addition to expressing concerns about how policing students' costumes can limit the exercise of imagination, free speech, and free expression, Christakis asked:
Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious'... a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.
The response to Christakis' email was explosive. More than 740 Yale undergraduates, graduate students, alumni, faculty, and even students from other universities signed on to an open letter telling Christakis that her ''offensive'' email invalidates the voices of minority students on campus.
Christakis and her husband have since invited all Silliman signatories of the open letter, as well as any other Silliman students who might disagree with her email, to a lunch this Sunday. The invitation was sharply rejected by some, including one student who, in a Yale Herald piece published today, criticized the invitation and argued that Nicholas Christakis ''needs to stop instigating more debate.''
FIRE added that Yale is one the few higher learning institutions where support for the freedom of expression in ingrained into its ethos. Well, this whole fiasco shows that belief is in decline at Yale, with these videos showing students confronting Nicholas Christakis at courtyard at Silliman, where he was accused of racism and insensitivity:
Christakis engaged with the students and listened to their concerns for several hours. Finally, Christakis told the crowd, ''I apologize for causing pain, but I am not sorry for the statement. I stand behind free speech. I defend the right for people to speak their minds.''
This was not the ''apology'' the students were demanding. As you can see from the footage below, which was taken by Lukianoff while on campus, the confrontation quickly escalated into a shouting match.
Yale Daily Newsreported that several students called Christakis ''disgusting,'' while about half left after they figured out the Master of Silliman wasn't going to accommodate his statements with that of their ''end of discussion'' agenda. The paper also reported that some students ''voiced their unwillingness to received their diplomas from Christakis at graduation.''
It's Halloween. As a person of Korean descent, I've never been offended by awful costumes, even ones that violated so-called cultural appropriation standards of America's progressive left. If you want to go as a Chinese rail worker, a geisha, a samurai, or wear a kimono, please go right ahead! This is America. I'm all for acts of expression, even if they're horrible acts. It's one of the many tests of American citizenship''dealing with people with whom you have deep disagreements. Will you engage or cry to mommy and daddy that your safe space was violated? Also, who is for cutting off debate, let alone being against someone trying to instigate more of it? When did Yale University become a learning institution akin to that of Oceania?
On a side note, the allegation that one of the fraternities on campus denied the entry of black students into one of their parties is disturbing, which is the chapter president has vociferously denied. But, as for Halloween costume non-controversy and refusing to accept diplomas from the Master of Silliman on graduation day because he's for free speech''you're going to torpedo the once in the lifetime event of graduating from college because of it. That is ridiculous.
In September, at a town hall event on college education in Iowa, President Obama weighed in on the increasingly anti-intellectual tendencies of America's young liberals, who still haven't accepted, nor acknowledged, that there are other opinions that just aren't printed inThe Nation magazine.
As Cortney wrote, the president said, ''Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren't listening to the other side, and that's a problem too...I've heard some college campuses where they don't want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don't want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women.''
The Virginia Tech chapter of Young America's Foundation actually held a funeral for halloween on October 30, after the school's Student Government Association laid out some reminders about so-called cultural appropriation and other idiocy relating to costumes and how not to offend people. The VA Tech SGA were not happy about the YAF event, even posting on there Facebook page that funeral was a hotbed for "tyrants in training."
Get. A. Grip.
Woman Calling for "Muscle" To Block Reporter From Mizzou Demonstrations Is a Professor of Mass Media
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 14:51
A professor of Mass Media at the University of Missouri was seen on a video demanding ''muscle'' to stop reporters from covering the demonstrations on the campus' quad.
CNN reporter Dylan Byers pointed out on Twitter that Melissa Click, an Assistant Professor was seen telling a camera man to ''get out'' in the video.
''Hey who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?'' Click says. ''I need some muscle over here.''
The incident happens at around 6:17 in this video taken by a man who identifies himself as a reporter. ''I'm media, can I talk to you?'' he asks.
Click holds a PhD in Communication and focuses her research on ''popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture,'' according to her faculty page. Her current research projects include ''50 Shades of Grey readers'' and ''the impact of social media in fans' relationship with Lady Gaga.''
Shortly after the video was posted Click made her Twitter private.
Oddly, just a few days before she was demanding that reporters stop reporting, Click had posted on her Facebook page hoping to get her message ''into the national media.''
The demonstrations followed a boycott by the university's football team in reaction to the school's lack of response to a series of racist incidents on campus. One student went on an eight-day hunger strike, demanding the president to step down.
On Monday, University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe stepped down, followed quickly by chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
A group that's been leading the push for the faculty members to step down, Concerned Student 1950, have pushed back against reporters covering the demonstrations.
But, as others have pointed out, a hand-painted lawn sign just can't trump the First Amendment.
[Image via YouTube]
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharm El Sheikh hotels using fake bomb detectors to protect British families | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 13:34
Hotels using fake gadgets - produced by Egyptian army - to screen luggageExperts have warned the devices are just radio aerials stuck to handles Comes as police fear a bomb may have been smuggled inside luggage By Neil Sears And Arthur Martin For The Daily Mail
Published: 17:31 EST, 9 November 2015 | Updated: 05:04 EST, 10 November 2015
Bogus: A guard, seen from a hidden camera, using the device at Sharm's Savoy Hotel
British families in Sharm El Sheikh are being guarded with useless bomb detectors based on a bogus device produced by UK fraudsters, the Mail can reveal.
Hotels are using the fake gadgets '' now produced by the Egyptian army '' to screen luggage amid fears of bomb attacks by Islamic State terrorists.
But they are almost identical to a completely useless device, based on a novelty golf ball detector, at the centre of fraud trials in Britain over the past two years. Experts say they are just radio aerials stuck to handles.
The revelation comes as Egyptian police investigate whether a Sharm hotel worker might be responsible for a suspected attack on a Russian passenger jet. Police fear a bomb may have been smuggled inside luggage.
As thousands of UK families were still waiting to fly home yesterday, the Mail discovered fraudulent 'scanning devices' were being used to protect at least five top hotels packed with Britons. Security guards use them to 'sweep' guests, their cars and luggage.
But experts say these 'screening tools' are almost identical to the bogus devices produced by British fraudsters and sold for millions to foreign governments, resulting in prosecutions in 2013 and 2014.
The Egyptian army appears to have copied these devices and produced its own version called C-Fast, which is being used across Sharm.
It means a terrorist bomb could easily have been smuggled into a hotel, put in a passenger's luggage and potentially taken on to a plane. Since C-Fast devices are made by the Egyptian army, it is likely they are also used at Sharm's airport.
Last night the Foreign Office and British holiday companies, were looking into the revelations '' which come after a security expert who had recently visited Sharm contacted the Daily Mail to warn that fake bomb detectors were being used at the resort.
They said: 'They are utterly useless devices which have no better chance of detecting bombs than random chance.'
On Sunday, the Mail saw the devices used at three hotels. At the Savoy, where UK Ambassador John Casson has held meetings, alongside British tourists, one was being used to check vehicles. Similar devices were in operation at Sultan Gardens, used by EasyJet and Thomas Cook, and Hilton Dreams, used by EasyJet and Monarch. Yesterday, the 'detectors' were used at the Hilton Fayrouz and Xperience St George Homestay.
Experts warn the 'screening tools' being used in Egypt are almost identical to the bogus devices produced by British fraudsters and sold for millions to foreign governments, resulting in prosecutions in 2013 and 2014
Research showed C-Fast devices were patented as 'screening tools'. In the application, four years ago, an Egyptian army scientist claims the device 'can detect any material' from up to 500 metres away, using 'static energy from the human body'.
Last night, Cambridge University physicist Michael Sutherland, an expert witness in the trials involving golf ball finders sold as bomb detectors, said the C-Fast 'appears to be nearly identical' to the devices discredited in the UK.
He said the patent made 'outrageous claims '... not backed up by any creditable scientific research', adding: 'It is quite simply a fraud, and a dangerous one '... They would have as much luck searching for explosives using a kebab'.
Despite concerns about hotel security, it emerged last night that British passengers were being told to leave their luggage where they had been staying after 20,000 bags piled up at the airport. Meanwhile, British Airways, EasyJet, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson extended the ban on flights to Sharm till November 26.
Yesterday, it was reported Egyptian police were questioning hotel workers in Sharm over claims a bomb may have been put inside luggage on the Russian plane.
The Mail discovered fraudulent 'scanning devices' were being used to protect at least five top hotels packed with Britons
Last night, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tweeted that the crash 'may have been the result of a terrorist attack'.
A British Government spokesman in Sharm said last night: 'Across the resort, airport style scanners, sniffer dogs, body searches, metal detectors, private security, police and CCTV are being used to keep tourists safe. We will continue to raise our concerns over the use of the devices in question.'
·Chancellor George Osborne yesterday announced funding is earmarked for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to hire a thousand staff over the next five years to meet challenges posed by Islamic extremism.
DEADLY DEVICE IS BASED ON A £13 GOLF GIMMICKThe fake bomb detector scam was one of the most successful '' and dangerous '' in history.
Brazen con artists used a £13 novelty 'Gopher' golf ball finder, which itself does not work, to create a device they sold for up to £10,000 a time to governments around the world.
The detectors had no working parts and no power source, and the supposed theory behind them was described in a series of Old Bailey fraud trials as an 'affront to science'.
Yet they were sold for sums totalling some £100million to military forces either utterly credulous and desperate to protect themselves against terrorism, or in on the scam and taking kickbacks from the conmen.
Hundreds of civilians may have been killed as a result of the devices' use in countries such as Iraq, where suicide bombers will have been able to pass security screening with ease.
The Britons involved in the scam, which began in the early 2000s, were James McCormick of Somerset, who made up to £50million; Gary Bolton, of Kent, said to have reaped £45million; Antony Williamson of Gosport; and pensioners Sam and Joan Tree, who put hundreds of the empty plastic devices together in a shed in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
McCormick, 59, was jailed for ten years in 2013, and Bolton, also 59, for seven years. Williamson, 60, got two years suspended, and last year Mr Tree, 69, was jailed for three and a half years and his wife, 63, got a two-year suspended sentence.
Share or comment on this article
Mizzou African-American football players join protest for removal of president | USA TODAY College
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 21:17
A series of racist and allegedly racist incidents at a growing number of schools including Yale, the University of Oklahoma, Ithaca College and the University of California, Los Angeles have sparked protests and petitions at campuses nationwide.
On Saturday, some 30 African-American members of the University of Missouri football team announced they will not participate in any football-related activities until Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, has been removed.
They join Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student staging a hunger strike, and campus groups in protesting the way Wolfe has dealt with issues of racial harassment during the school year.
A petition has also been posted at Change.org to remove Wolfe from office; it so far has over 4,500 signatures. And a statement calling for a walkout of graduate school workers on Monday and Tuesday is being posted to social media.
Ithaca College in upstate New York, where students say President Tom Rochon has given inadequate responses to several allegedly racist incidents on campus and an overall negative racial climate, also has circulating a Student Government Association petition asking for a vote of ''confidence'' or ''no confidence'' in the president.
At the Univ. of Missouri, campus group protests include students camping out on the quad, claiming they'll leave only when Wolfe is no longer president.
Protester camp out on the University of Missouri campus on Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo: Rose Schmidt)
Mizzou football defensive back Anthony Sherrils tweeted a picture of the football team's statement on Nov. 6, saying:
''The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.' We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!''
Several more African-American players, including senior running back and team captain Russell Hansbrough, followed with a series of passionate tweets. Missouri's student body is 77% white and 7% black, while 58 of the school's 84 scholarship football players are African-American, according to the university website.
After supporting the athletes on Twitter Saturday night, University of Missouri Athletics tweeted late Sunday afternoon that ''our focus right now is on the health of Jonathan Butler, the concerns of our student-athletes and working with our community to address this serious issue.
After meeting with the team this morning, it is clear they do not plan to return to practice until Jonathan resumes eating. We are continuing to have department, campus and student meetings as we work through this issue and will provide further comment tomorrow afternoon.''
''I can't say I'm entirely surprised (knowing) what kind of man Tim Wolfe is and what kind of leader he is, which is inadequate,'' says Abigail Hollis, a senior at Missouri and an organizer with Concerned Students 1950, a group that's been leading the campus protests. ''We are just as committed to our convictions. We will continue to fight and we will get what we want.''
The boycott comes just days after MU graduate student Butler embarked on his hunger strike Nov. 2.
In a letter to the University of Missouri Board of Curators the same day, Butler cited his reasons as several ''racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents that have dynamically disrupted the learning experience for marginalized/underrepresented students at the University of Missouri.''
The incidents he listed include: MU canceling Planned Parenthood contracts; a student drawing a swastika in feces inside a residence hall; ''peaceful demonstrators'' being threatened with pepper spray; and the Missouri Students Association president, Payton Head, being called ''the n-word'' while on campus.
Jeremy Schmetterer, a senior at the Univ. of Missouri, said he spoke with Head and ''one thing stuck out I: I asked him if he believes there's systematic oppression and racism on campus and he said, 'My friends are called racist remarks every single day and the only reason you heard about my story is because I'm president of the campus.'
''I think that's really powerful right there. I'm Jewish, I'm in a Jewish fraternity, and I've dealt with racism, I've been called things in bars. I think Mizzou is a progressive and accepting community, but I think there are issues that need to be solved, and the most important thing in (when solving them) is to be able to look at them and accept them. So that's why I think this movement is such a powerful thing.''
(According to the Washington Post, Head ''heard from university officials supporting him, from professors who used his words to spark conversations in class, and, to his surprise, from well-known actor and activist Harry Belafonte.'')
In the letter to the UM Board of Curators, Butler says the incidents were not the university system president's fault, but ''they are his responsibility to address.''
''Mr. Wolfe had ample opportunity to create policies and reform that could shift the culture of Mizzou in a positive direction but in each scenario he failed to do so,'' Butler writes.
''I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost.''
After meeting with Butler, Wolfe made a statement on Nov. 6 reading in part, ''I am very concerned about Jonathan's health. His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening. I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance.''
Wolfe also addressed racism on the Mizzou campus in the statement.
''Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.''
The statement also acknowledged an incident that happened on Oct. 10 during Mizzou's homecoming parade. A group of African-American students wearing shirts that read ''1839 WAS BUILT ON MY B(L)ACK'' linked arms and stood in front of the car in which Wolfe was riding.
As can be seen at about 6.5 minutes into a video posted on YouTube, the car lightly hits a protester.
''I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car,'' Wolfe wrote in the statement. ''I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment.
''Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn't be where we are today. I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university '' and it does exist. Together we must rise to the challenge of combating racism, injustice, and intolerance.''
On Nov. 5, Head tweeted screenshots taken from the social media apps Yik Yak and erodr. He captioned the tweet: ''These are students @Mizzou. This is how they feel about their peers.''
One of the shots reads, ''How do you starve a black guy? You hide his food stamps under his work boots.''
MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin responded to Head with a tweet, saying ''Sad to see more hate speech hiding behind anonymity. Racism, bias, discrimination have no place here''
Head replied: ''I think the problem is that racism DOES have a place here.''
Loftin has also been under fire recently and has released several statements regarding the alleged racist incidents and climate on campus, one addressing the swastika drawn in feces '-- he wrote that the MU Police Department was investigating '-- and Butler's hunger strike,
In the statement about Butler, he says, ''Racism has deep roots at our university.''
On Nov. 6, students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and MU surprised Wolfe outside of a building in Kansas City. One student tweeted this video:
''What do you think systematic oppression is?'' a student asks.
''It's '' systematic oppression is because you don't believe that you have the equal opportunity for success,'' Wolfe says.
''Did you just blame us for systematic oppression, Tim Wolfe? Did you just blame black students?'' a student shouts in the video.
A growing social media movement has rallied around the hashtags #WolfeGottaGo, #MizzouHungerStrike and #ConcernedStudent1950.
A petition was also started on Change.org that has over 2,800 supporters so far. It reads: ''Remove University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, from Office.''
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon also released a statement Sunday: ''Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state. Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion.''
Contributing: The Associated Press
Rose Schmidt is a student at the University of Missouri and is a former USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.
Tim Wolfe: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy.com
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 21:03
University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has resigned over his handling of a series of racist incidents on the college's Columbia campus.
Wolfe was pressured to step down after the school's football team announced it would boycott all football activities until he was removed from office. Another student went on a hunger strike for several days, saying he would not eat until Wolfe was no longer president.
Wolfe, 57, announced his resignation Monday morning at a press conference, saying he takes ''I take full responsibility for the inaction.'' Watch video of his resignation here.
The controversy began in September when Payton Head, the Students Association President, said he was called a ''n****r'' by a group of men in a pickup truck while on campus.
On October 5, a drunk student went onto a stage where the Legion of Black Collegians was rehearsing a homecoming skit and screamed racial epithets, the Kansas City Star reports. On October 10, during the school's homecoming parade, a group of students, called Concerned Student 1950 (a reference to the year black students were first admitted to the 176-year-old university), surrounded Wolfe's car and demanded he speak with them. Wolfe had police remove them from the parade route, the newspaper reports.
On October 24, a student ''scrawled a swastika in human feces on the floor and wall of a dormitory,'' according to the Star. Jonathan Butler, a graduate student among the Concerned Student 1950 group, then went on a hunger strike. On Sunday, the football team announced it would not be taking part in any football-related activities until Wolfe resigns or is removed.
Here's what you need to know about Wolfe and the controversy:
1. Wolfe Says Resigning Is 'the Right Thing to Do'After spending Sunday meeting with officials, Wolfe said he is resigning because it is ''the right thing to do.'' He said he hopes the university can use his resignation to heal.
Wolfe issued a statement Sunday afternoon that did not indicate any plans to step down from his position.
''It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns,'' Wolfe said. ''My administration has been meeting around the clock and has been doing a tremendous amount of reflection on how to address these complex matters. Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses. We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change. We will share next steps as soon as they are confirmed.''
Wolfe added that the university has already began work on a ''systemwide diversity and inclusion strategy, plan and metrics for the University System,'' as part of his strategic goals approved in the summer.
''Our due date for announcing the strategy was April 2016, having allowed for multiple stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, consultants) across the system to provide input into the plan,'' Wolfe said.
Concerned Student 1950 has issued a list of demands:
Wolfe said Sunday, ''The majority of items listed on the Concerned Student 1950 List of Demands were already included in the draft of the strategy. While the student list provides more detail and more specific metrics than had been established in the UM System plan, we had anticipated providing specificity and detail to the plan over the coming months.
''In the meantime, I am dedicated to ongoing dialogue to address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community,'' Wolfe said.
Students at the University of Missouri quickly grew frustrated with the response to their outrage at the racial incidents on campus. Several protests calling for his resignation or firing have been organized on campus. Anger with Wolfe grew Friday night, when he spoke with students in Kansas City.
The interaction was recorded on video (which you can watch below). It starts after the students asked him a question, and he replies, ''I will give you an answer, and I'm sure it will be a wrong answer.''
He then told the students, ''Systematic oppression is because you don't believe that you have the equal opportunity for success,'' and then walked away as the students reacted negatively.
''Did you just blame us for systematic oppression, Tim Wolfe?,'' one student screamed after him.
WATCH: University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe ResignsTim Wolfe has resigned as the president of the University of Missouri college system over his handling of a series of on-campus racist incidents.
Click here to read more2. He Has Apologized to How He Reacted to Protesting Students at the School's HomecomingWolfe has also been criticized for how he reacted when he was confronted by students during the university's homecoming parade. That was also recorded. A group of students blocked the parade route, demanding Wolfe speak with them. Instead, Wolfe had university police remove the students from the parade route.
Wolfe issued a statement two days ago, several weeks after the incident:
I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment. Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn't be where we are today. I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university '' and it does exist. Together we must rise to the challenge of combatting racism, injustice, and intolerance.
Jeremy Mardis: 5 Fast Facts You Need to KnowJeremy Mardis, a 6-year-old autistic Louisiana boy, was fatally shot when police fired into his father's car during a chase. His dad, Chris Few, was also shot.
Click here to read more3. He Met With the Hunger-Striking Student Last WeekJonathan Butler, the student who is on a hunger strike until Wolfe leaves the president's office, met with Wolfe last week.
Wolfe said in a statement:
Today I again had the opportunity to meet with MU graduate student Jonathan Butler who continues a hunger strike protesting the inequalities, inequities, and obstacles faced by students, faculty and staff at the University of Missouri. I am very concerned about Jonathan's health. His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening. I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance. This afternoon I also met with representatives of several student groups and I value their input and hear their voices.
Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.
Butler has said he is willing to die of starvation.
Read more about Butler and his hunger strike at the link below:
Jonathan Butler: 5 Fast Facts You Need to KnowJonathan Butler, a graduate student, has been on a hunger strike since November 2 and is calling for the removal of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe.
Click here to read more4. Black Members of the Football Team Say Wolfe Showed 'Negligence Toward Marginalized Students' Experiences'The spotlight on Wolfe and the racist incidents at Missouri was turned up Saturday night when more than 30 black members of the university's football team announced they would be boycotting all football-related activities until Wolfe is fired or resigns.
The football players said in a statement posted on social media, ''The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere' We will no longer participate in any football related activities until Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized student' experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!''
The team's head coach, Gary Pinkel, and white members of the football team said Sunday morning they are supporting the striking players.
Norris Greenhouse Jr. & Derrick Stafford: 5 Fast Facts You Need to KnowLouisiana police officers Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Lt. Derrick Stafford have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis.
Click here to read more5. Wolfe Has Been the Public University's President Since 2012 After Working in the Computer IndustryPresident Tim Wolfe with his daughter, Madison, son Tyler and wife, Molly. (University of Missouri)
Wolfe was hired by the University of Missouri in 2012. He oversees the four-campus University of Missouri system, which serves more than 77,000 students and is one of the largest public research university stems in the country.
According to his biography on the university's website, Wolfe spent 30 years in the business world before being hired by Missouri. He worked at IBM as a sales representative and manager, and then became a vice president. He was later the president of Novell, an infrastructure software company.
He grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in business. He and his wife, Molly, have two children, a daughter, Madison, and a son, Tyler.
Wolfe earned $459,000 in 2014-15, according to a database of employee salaries compiled by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Cameron Harrison: 5 Fast Facts You Need to KnowA star football player at an Alabama high school has been accused of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party.
Click here to read more
What's Going On With The Protests At The University Of Missouri?
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 20:59
By SUMMER BALLENTINE and ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) '-- Student protests over racial incidents at the University of Missouri escalated over the weekend when at least 30 black football players announced they will not participate in team activities until the university system's president is removed.
President Tim Wolfe gave no indication he has any intention of stepping down, but agreed in a statement Sunday that "change is needed" and said the university is working to draw up a plan by April to promote diversity and tolerance.
For months, black student groups have complained of racial slurs and other slights on the overwhelmingly white, 35,000-student campus. Their frustrations flared during the homecoming parade Oct. 10 when black protesters blocked Wolfe's car and he would not get out and talk to them. They were removed by police.
On Saturday night, black members of the football team joined the outcry, and by Sunday, state lawmakers were weighing in.
The athletes did not say explicitly whether they would boycott the team's three remaining games this season. The Tigers' next game is Saturday against Brigham Young University at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, and canceling it could cost the school more than $1 million.
"The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,'" the players said in a statement. "We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experience. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!"
Head football coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity with the black players on Twitter by posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms. The tweet said: "The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players."
Practice and other team activities were cancelled on Sunday, Pinkel and Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a joint statement. The statement linked the return of the protesting football players to the end of a hunger strike by a black graduate student who has vowed to not eat until Wolfe is gone.
"Our focus right now is on the health of Jonathan Butler, the concerns of our student-athletes and working with our community to address this serious issue," the statement said.
The protests at the campus began after the student government president, who is black, said in September that people in a passing pickup truck shouted racial slurs at him. Days before the homecoming parade, members of a black student organization said slurs were hurled at them by an apparently drunken white student.
Also, a swastika drawn in feces was found recently in a dormitory bathroom.
Butler, who participated in the homecoming parade protest, began his hunger strike on Nov. 2 to call attention to racial problems at the state's flagship university.
Many of the protests have been led by an organization called Concerned Student 1950, which gets its name from the year the university accepted its first black student. Its members besieged Wolfe's car at homecoming last month, and they have been conducting a sit-in on a campus plaza since last Monday.
At least 150 students gathered Sunday night to pray, sing and read Bible verses. Many planned to camp there overnight amid temperatures that had dropped into the low 40s.
Concerned Student 1950 has demanded, among other things, that Wolfe "acknowledge his white male privilege," that he be removed immediately, and that the school adopt a mandatory racial-awareness program and hire more black faculty and staff.
One of the sit-in participants, Abigail Hollis, a black undergraduate, said the campus is "unhealthy and unsafe for us."
"The way white students are treated is in stark contrast to the way black students and other marginalized students are treated, and it's time to stop that," Hollis said. "It's 2015."
Wolfe said Sunday that most of the group's demands have already been incorporated into the university's draft plan for promoting tolerance.
"It is clear to all of us that change is needed," he said.
Already, at Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin's request, the university announced plans to require diversity training for all new students starting in January, along with faculty and staff.
State lawmakers began to react Sunday. The chairman of a Missouri House higher education committee, Poplar Bluff Republican Rep. Steven Cookson said in a statement that Wolfe "can no longer effectively lead" and should leave his post. Joining him in calling for Wolfe's resignation was Assistant House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, the highest-ranking black member of that chamber.
Late Sunday, the university system's governing body, the Board of Curators, announced a special meeting had been set for Monday. A statement indicated part of the meeting will be closed to the public. A system spokesman didn't immediately respond to questions about the meeting's agenda.
Wolfe, 56, is a former software executive and Missouri business school graduate whose father taught at the university. He was hired in 2011 as president of a four-campus system that includes Columbia, succeeding another former business executive who also lacked experience in academia.
The campus in Columbia is about 120 miles west of Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where tensions erupted over the shooting death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown last year by a white police officer.
The school's undergraduate population is 79 percent white and 8 percent black. The state is about 83 percent white and nearly 12 percent black.
It's the latest controversy at the university in recent months, following the suspension of graduate students' health care subsidies and an end to university contracts with a Planned Parenthood clinic that performs abortions.
Two graduate student groups have called for walkouts by graduate student workers on Monday and Tuesday in solidarity with the protesters.
Associated Press writer Ralph D. Russo in New York contributed to this report.
Know something we don't? Contact us at email@example.com.
Black Swan Lands In Portugal As Socialists Move To Overthrow Government
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:47
Late last month we highlighted to reappointment of Portuguese PM Pedro Passos Coelho, noting that, in the words of Communist leader Jer"nimo de Sousa, the President's move to ignore the left's attempt to form a government in the wake of largely inconclusive elections may be a ''manifest waste of time.''
As FT put it a few weeks back, ''no government on the left or right [can] hope to survive without support from the PS, which won 32.3 per cent [in October]'' which means President Anibal Cavaco Silva might have made a mistake in propping up Coelho as the PM's restoration will only serve to embolden an already angry left coalition.
Well sure enough, socialist leader Antonio Costa has now ''formalized'' plans to unite with the Left Bloc and Communists in order to reject the Coelho government. Here's Bloomberg:
Portugal's Socialists approved a plan to join forces with three other parties and oust Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's administration, raising the prospect of a new government committed to speeding the reversal of spending cuts tied to the country's international bailout.
The Socialist-led program ''is clearly less market-friendly than the one of the incumbent government,'' analysts at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, including Clement Mary-Dauphin, said.
The Coelho government will fall if the Socialists and their allies close ranks and guarantee a majority in parliament to reject the program in a vote scheduled for Tuesday. President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who has the power to name prime ministers, would then decide if he'll ask Costa to form a coalition. Parliament can't be dissolved less than six months after it's elected, meaning Cavaco Silva doesn't have the option of calling fresh elections.
''The conditions are in place to form a Socialist Party government supported by a majority in parliament,'' the party said in a statement e-mailed early on Monday. The Socialist government can be ''stable'' and last for a full term, it said.
Well, it can probably be "stable" domestically, but don't think for a second that Brussels and Berlin are going to put up with this.
After all, the whole point of putting Alexis Tsipras through round after round of "mental waterboarding" over the summer was to discourage any Syriza sympathizers from attempting to use a euro exit (i.e. proving that the EMU is in fact "dissoluble" despite the protestations of many a eurocrat) as a bargaining chip on the way to negotiating for debt relief. As we put it, "the real question is whether or not the ATM lines, empty shelves, and gas station queues in Greece have had their intended psychological effect on Spanish (and Portuguese) voters. In other words, the question is whether the troika has succeeded in undercutting the democratic process outside of Greece by indirectly strong-arming the electorate."
The answer, apparently, is "no" because as Bloomberg goes on to point out, the new coalition in Portugal will likely push to roll back the programs that have made the country a bailout "success" story:
Yields [on Portuguese bonds] rose 6 basis points to 2.74 percent as of 8:53 a.m. London time, after reaching 2.78 percent, the highest since July. While the security traded as high as 18 percent three years ago at the height of Europe's debt crisis, it was as low as 1.5 percent in March and 2.3 percent just before the elections.
The Left Bloc has said in the past that it wants to restructure the country's debt, and the Communists have said Portugal should prepare to exit the euro. The Socialist, who requested the bailout and then lost the 2011 election, have been less radical, voting alongside Coelho's coalition on policies including the treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism rescue fund.
So while Costa will probably take a more moderate approach than his new coalition partners, the socialists are aligning with anti-euro parties which means that in failry short order, you'll likely see friction develop between Lisbon and Brussels and critically, between Lisbon and Berlin. Here's AFP:
The prospect of a new government backed by the Left Bloc -- which is close to Greece's anti-austerity Syriza -- and the radical Communists raised concern in Europe, even though the Socialist Party (PS) has insisted that "Portugal will respect its international commitments" whoever takes the reins.
Note that this is the worst nightmare for Jean Claude-Juncker, Angela Merkel, and Christine Lagarde. Just about the last thing the EMU needs is to face a Greek rerun with a country that actually "matters" just as the bloc is desperately attempting to cope with the worsening refugee crisis. But then again, you shouldn't worry because just like Bear Stearns wasn't going under, Portugal will never ask for debt relief...
* * *
Bonus color from Citi:
Jose Mourinho may share more than just a common nationality with Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho; both appear to be on the brink of losing their jobs. Portugal may be about to see the first power-grab of its kind in Europe since Turkey's 'real postmodern' coup of 1997 (link here, for those interested).
UKIP MEP Nigel Farage has compared the situation in Portugal to a ''modern day implementation of the Brezhnev Doctrine''. Whilst that latest comparison may be a little dramatic, the ramifications and wider consequences of the situation unravelling in Portugal could be huge. We highlighted back at the start of the summer that Portugal could well be Europe's 'next Greece' and fears are perhaps about to be realised'...
Portuguese elections were held on October 4, delivering a centre-right government under PM Coelho '' the Forward Portugal Alliance (PAF). This group has already been in power for four years, and had imposed a tough regime of austerity including cuts to pay, pensions and public spending, with tax hikes '' all as part of a EUR78bn bailout agreement with the Troika. The country only just emerged from recession in 2014.
Coelho's group won the most votes and has the largest bloc of seats in parliament; however, it lost its overall majority.
Now the Socialist Party and a number of allies (Communists, Green Party and Left Bloc) control 122 seats in the 230 seats parliament. Their leader, Antonio Costa, has pointed out that 62% of the population, in his eyes, 'voted against' the austerity politics of the incumbent government. This new leftist alliance is anti-austerity and fiercely Eurosceptic '' several of the parties campaigned directly to withdraw from the EUR.
Despite their apparent majority, the President spurned the anti-European leftists and named the centre-right group under PM Coelho as a minority government. He was supposedly under pressure to do so from Germany's Chancellor Merkel who described the prospect of a radical anti-austerity coalition in Portugal as ''very negative''. The left-wing alliance has now vowed to oust the government and put an end to austerity.
As you would expect, the first consequence for these alarming developments was for Portugal's bond yields to surge this morning. It can do a weak EUR no favours either in the long run.
European totalitarianism? More poignantly though, this is being touted by Eurosceptics as a prime example of what is often referred to as 'Brussel's totalitarianism'. In their eyes, what would be a democratically elected majority (the left coalition) with a clear mandate to challenge the Troika's austerity programme and perhaps even leave the single currency, has been quashed. They argue that Portugal's sovereignty has been trampled upon in the name of the greater good of the union '' if democratic elections are only legitimate if the result pleases Brussels, is there real democracy in Europe?
* * *
Coming soon to Lisbon:
A Fifth Of Spain's GDP Just Voted To Secede - What Now?
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:43
Everywhere you look there are signs that Europe is coming apart at the seams. Just a month after the crisis in Greece abated, the influx of refugees fleeing the war-torn Mid-East finally overwhelmed the Balkans leading directly to border closures and precipitating a spat in Brussels regarding how best to handle the people flows.
In short, not everyone agrees with Angela Merkel's open door policy and indeed, Hungary's Viktor Orban has led the push for the preservation of what he calls Europe's ''Christian heritage'' by keeping asylum seekers out. Now, there's a serious rift developing and further efforts to force recalcitrant countries to accept migrants they don't want could well spell the end of the Schengen project.
Meanwhile, Portugal is on the brink of a political crisis as Costa's Socialists move to align with the Communists and the Left Bloc in an effort to overthrow the government and roll back austerity, presaging a debt showdown with Brussels and Berlin.
As if all of this weren't enough - and we didn't even mention the potential for ''Brexit'' - the Catalan black swan is back on the heels of what amounted to an independence referendum in September (see here).
On Monday, Catalonia's parliament approved a ''democratic disconnection'' resolution which will see the region push to separate from Spain and establish an independent republic. Here's WSJ with some color:
Catalonia's parliament approved a resolution Monday to take steps to establish an independent republic, vowing it would begin ignoring Spanish institutions and setting up a potential standoff with the government in Madrid.
The proposal to commence a ''democratic disconnection'' passed by a vote of 72 to 63, after a two-hour debate. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has said the separatist push represents Spain's major challenge ahead of Dec. 20 national elections, pledged Monday to use all of the authority of his office to halt the secession bid.
Mr. Rajoy said his government would petition the Constitutional Court this week to have the resolution declared void.
Legal experts say the court will almost certainly bar Catalonia from taking any steps to put the resolution into effect, paving the way for a test of wills. The resolution singles out the Constitutional Court as being ''delegitimized and without authority.''
The nine-point resolution calls on Catalonia's parliament to start within 30 days to prepare laws to create independent social security and tax authorities. Pro-independence parties have said they hope to complete the separation process within 18 months.
And a bit more from The Guardian:
In September Rajoy's government boosted the powers of the constitutional court to allow it to quickly suspend leaders who disobey its orders, in a move aimed directly at Catalonia.
The government has also raised the possibility of invoking article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows Madrid to supersede the authority of a regional government that is acting outside the law or to cut off its funding.
So yes, Catalonia is looking to officially secede from Spain in just a year and six months and the push comes less than two months ahead of national elections which very well could end up creating precisely the same type of political dynamic as that which is currently unfolding in Portugal. Back to WSJ:
For Mr. Rajoy, his response to the Catalan gambit could play a key role in determining whether he is able to stave off challenges from the rival Socialist Party, as well as two upstart parties, and win re-election.
''It's a very delicate situation that requires a deft balance,'' said Carlos Flores Juberas, a constitutional law professor and political analyst at the University of Valencia ''He has to show firmness, but any action he takes must be surgically targeted'' to avoid more people rallying around the separatist camp.
Worse still, if Catalonia were indeed to break away, it could very well end up costing Spain in the debt-to-GDP department. As DB noted before September's parliamentary elections, "the impact would be significant on the Spanish economy, [as] without an agreement to share the stock of debt with Catalonia, Spain's' projected public debt for 2015 would move from just above 100% of GDP to about 125% of GDP. And this accounts only for the mechanical impact. On 21 September Mas stated that if the central government refuses to negotiate, Catatonia might not pay back its liabilities to the central government."
In other words, it's possible that we could end up with a situation wherein the left gains more influence politically just as Catalan independence meaningfully increases Spain's debt-to-GDP ratio (don't forget, Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spanish output). Clearly, that's a recipe for a standoff with the troika which means that soon, Brussels could end up facing an austerity revolt not only Portugal, but from Spain as well. Underscoring the above is the fact that Podemos supports a referendum on Catalan independence. Here's The Guardian again:
Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who is preparing for a general election on 20 December, has the backing of the main opposition Socialists and the new centre-right party Ciudadanos.
Of Spain's main parties at the national level, only the far-left Podemos has resisted Rajoy's effort to forge a united front on the issue. While Podemos wants Catalonia to stay within Spain, it has also said it would support a referendum on the matter.
Here's Open Europe with three key question to consider as we enter "uncharted territory":
First, the pro-independence front in the Catalan parliament is a very diverse one. Incumbent Catalan President Artur Mas and his moderate nationalist CDC party want Catalonia to become ''a new nation in Europe''. That means leaving Spain, while remaining a member of the Eurozone and the EU. The radical left-wing CUP party '' whose backing is key for the secessionist camp to hold an absolute majority in the regional parliament '' wants Catalonia to leave Spain, the euro and the EU. Incidentally, the CUP is also opposed to Mas staying on as Catalan President. Doubts over the longevity of such an alliance are legitimate, and could become crystallised as the parties discuss issues such as the currency and institutions of a new Catalan state.Second, assuming that Catalonia unilaterally declares its independence (still a very big 'if' at this stage), other EU countries would be unlikely to recognise it as a state. The European Commission would likely also voice objections to Catalonia remaining in the euro and the EU, similar to its intervention in the Scottish referendum campaign. That would be the final nail in the coffin of the ''new nation in Europe'' project. Is Artur Mas really prepared for such a scenario? I doubt it '' hence why I believe he still sees this 'roadmap' as a way to put pressure on the Spanish government to negotiate. Indeed, he needs to be careful heading down this path '' as the situation could well spiral beyond his control (some might say it already has).Third, in the 27 September Catalan elections the pro-independence parties secured an absolute majority of seats in the regional parliament '' but not an absolute majority of votes. This raises questions over the democratic legitimacy of this independence process. The reality is Artur Mas and his allies were looking for a 'plebiscite' in favour of secession '' but this failed to materialise. Together, the three pro-independence parties won less than 48% of the vote. Is this enough to embark on a path to a unilateral independence declaration? Most certainly not. One has to wonder whether there will be a response from the 52% of the electorate who did not back such an approach.In short, this is a big deal. You're talking about a scenario that would ultimately involve booting part of Spain from the common currency in the event of secession, leading to who only knows what kind of headaches for Catalans, but perhaps more importantly, there's the very real potential for social unrest here depending on how Rajoy handles the Catalonia "problem," and on that note, we'll close with a quote from Rajoy himself:
''Catalonia isn't separating from anywhere."
Pope stumbles in church for second time in three days
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:26
Pope Francis arrives to lead a mass at Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, November 9, 2015.
ROMEPope Francis had to be helped up the steps to an altar at a Rome basilica on Monday after stumbling in public for the second time in three days.
Two church officials flanked the 78-year-old pontiff and took him by the arm as he faltered on his way up the steps during a service in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
On Saturday, the pope tripped on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, stopping his fall with his outstretched hands, before two aides helped him back to his feet.
Last month, the Vatican dismissed an Italian newspaper report that the pope was suffering from a benign brain tumor, saying the pontiff was in good health.
The pope lost part of one lung to disease as a young man and is known to suffer some leg pain due to sciatica, for which he undergoes regular therapy and which might explain his apparent trouble climbing steps.
In September, the pope slipped as he was climbing a staircase to board a flight during a trip in the United States. He quickly got back to his feet, without any assistance, and entered the plane without any further difficulty.
Francis has said he expects his papacy to be short, and ends every weekly Angelus address with an exhortation to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to pray for him.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Richard Balmforth)
METROJET CRASH; MASRI; SAUDIS; RUSSIA; ISRAEL; IRAN; ISIS
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:35
Abu Osama al-Masri of ISIS.Allegedly, ISIS fighters discussed the downing of the Russian metrojet in Egypt.However, this 'intelligence' seems to have come from Israel.Israel Shared ISIS Communications On Russian Plane CrashIn any case, ISIS works for Israel.
Mark Masri singing in Hebrew.British government officials have told Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times that Abu Osama al-Masri - a 42-year-old former clothing importer who studied at al-Azhar University in Cairo - is a 'person of interest' in the suspected bombing of the Russian plane.Masri is a Jewish surname and so Abu Osama al-Masri the former clothing importer may be a crypto-Jew.Pepe Escobar has written about RUSSIA and the SAUDISAmong the points made:1. Saudi Arabia is not happy that the USA has become a little more friendly with Iran.
The Saudis fear the current alliance of Russia with Iran.
2.Russia has been trying to become more friendly with Saudi Arabia.
3. Saudi Arabia has invaded Yemen to exploit Yemen's oil, side by side with Israel.
4.ISIS earns $50 million a month from the oilfields it controls in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS has the help of engineers from such countries as Turkey.
The USA and its allies are bombing Assad's oil infrastructure but not that of ISIS.
More here: RUSSIA and the SAUDIS
Will Turkey Invade Syria?
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:32
Will Turkey Invade Syria?By Brother Nathanael KapnerNovember 8, 2015(C)
Support The Brother Nathanael Foundation!Br Nathanael Fnd Is Tax Exempt/EIN 27-2983459
Or Send Your Contribution To:The Brother Nathanael Foundation, PO Box 1242, Frisco CO 80443E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org___________________________________
WHILE PSYCHO CARTER hopes to send more troops to Syria to this time, ''really defeat'' Isis, Turkey is planning its own invasion.Turkey's plan is to create a 20-mile deep 'safe zone' along a 70-mile stretch of its border with Syria with the aim of preventing a Kurdish state in northern Syria; resisting Isis permeation; and blocking the quest to secure sovereign borders by the Assad government.
It should be obvious to any 5th grader that the goals of American and Turkey coincide:
Keep Isis under wraps so as to harass Assad's government, and to finally topple Assad and his legitimate administration.
First of all, US foreign policy is insane. And Turkey's is 20 times more insane.
What we have is a chaotic US/Tel Aviv foreign policy and shotgun diplomacy matched with Erdogan's double-minded and incoherent foreign policy as an outgrowth of his ultra-nationalistic domestic policies, quite often based on violence and intimidation.
Erdogan knows just two things, ''Assad has to go'''--Jewmerica's favorite jingle'--and that no autonomous Syrian Kurdish cantons or an independent Kurdistan should exist. Moreover, he joined the US-led coalition against Isis and began bombing the Syrian Kurds in violation of Syria's borders.
Erdogan and his AKP party did not do well in the June elections. And no one, including Isis has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the peaceful People's Democratic Party (HDP) which looks favorably on the Turkish Kurds' cause.
Erdogan was unhappy with the electoral setbacks of June's elections since it thwarted his amassing powers and which saw the rise of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Hence he ordered the new election so voters could ''right their mistake.''
The recent snap election freed Erdogan's AKP party from the need to form a coalition to stay in power, which rode the waves of domestic terrorism and violence inside Turkey which not coincidentally arose dramatically after the June election.
Most Turks are frightened of Erdogan. The AKP now has the numbers in parliament to ratify Erdogan's invasion of Syria. And, so far, the Turkish military has been less hawkish than Erdogan, hesitant to take unilateral action against Syria without an international UNSC resolution of which Russia would doubtless vote against.
Apparently, Erdogan's posturing is more for domestic intimidation as well as shaking down Jewmerica for more support; getting more money from Germany to keep the refugees in the Turkish camps and Merkel's promise to renew EU accession talks for Turkey'...(See Erdogan and Merkel on Golden Thrones)'...; and bullying Russia by brandishing Turkish Stream as a stick, looking to negotiate lower prices on natural gas delivery, for which in exchange he wouldn't invade Syria.
BUT THE BEAR will not be bullied.
Russia, after a year of laying plans with the Syrian government to support Assad militarily against Isis, is in Syria to see the job through. Will Putin allow Turkey to invade Syria and establish the 20 mile long 'safe zone' in Syria's north? No.
Would Syria be justified in taking military action in self-defense against such an aggressive invasion? Yes.
Moreover, Putin has vowed many times that Russia will help secure Syria's borders and territorial integrity.
And Russia's recent announcement that more Surface-To-Air Missiles are on their way to Syria shows Jewmerica and its patsies that Russia is one stepahead of their game.
U.S. Journalists Who Instantly Exonerated Their Government of the Kunduz Hospital Attack, Declaring it an ''Accident''
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:18
(updated below '' Update II)
Shortly after the news broke of the U.S. attack on a Doctors without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, there was abundant evidence suggesting (not proving, but suggesting) that the attack was no accident: (1) MSF repeatedly told the U.S. military about the precise coordinates of its hospital, which had been operating for years; (2) the Pentagon's story about what happened kept changing, radically, literally on a daily basis; (3) the exact same MSF hospital had been invaded by Afghan security forces three months earlier, demonstrating hostility toward the facility; (4) the attack lasted more than 30 minutes and involved multiple AC-130 gunship flyovers, even as MSF officials frantically pleaded with the U.S. military to stop; and, most compellingly of all, (5) Afghan officials from the start said explicitly that the hospital was a valid and intended target due to the presence of Taliban fighters as patients.
Since then, the evidence that the attack was intentional has only grown. Two weeks ago, AP reported that ''the Army Green Berets who requested the Oct. 3 airstrike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control.'' Last night, NBC News cited a new MSF report with this headline: ''U.S. Plane Shot Victims Fleeing Doctors Without Borders Hospital: Charity.'' As the New York Timesput it yesterday, the ''hospital was among the most brightly lit buildings in Kunduz on the night a circling American gunship destroyed it'' and ''spread across the hospital roof was a large white and red flag reading 'M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res.''' For reasons that are increasingly understandable, the Obama administration is still adamantly refusingMSF's demand for an independent investigation into what happened and why.All of this led MSF's general director, Christopher Stokes, to say this at a news conference yesterday in Kabul:
''A mistake is quite hard to understand and believe at this stage.''
As my colleague Murtaza Hussain reported yesterday, Stokes added: ''From what we are seeing now, this action is illegal in the laws of war.''
This was not the first time top officials from the universally respected MSF have said this. Three weeks ago, Stokes said in an interview with AP that ''the extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital '... doesn't indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit.'' He added that ''all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime.'' That's ''all indications'' point to a ''war crime.''
The point here isn't that it's been definitively proven that the U.S. attack was deliberate. What exactly happened here and why won't be known, as MSF itself has said, until there is a full-scale, truly independent investigation '-- precisely what the U.S. government is steadfastly blocking. But MSF's Stokes is absolutely correct to say that all of the evidence that is known means that ''mistake'' is ''quite hard to believe at this stage'' as an explanation and that the compilation of all known evidence ''points to '... a war crime.''
Nonetheless, many U.S. journalists immediately, repeatedly and authoritatively declared this to have been an ''accident'' or a ''mistake'' despite not having the slightest idea whether that was true, and worse, in the face of substantial evidence that it was false.
What possible motivation would the U.S. government have for submitting to an independent investigation when '-- as usual '-- it has an army of super-patriotic, uber-nationalistic journalists eager to act as its lawyers and insist, despite the evidence, that Americans could not possibly be guilty of anything other than a terrible ''mistake''? Indeed, the overriding sentiment among many U.S. journalists is that their country and government are so inherently Good that they could not possibly do anything so bad on purpose. Any bad acts are mindlessly presumed to be terrible, uintended mistakes tragically made by Good, Well-Intentioned People (Americans). Other Bad Countries do bad things on purpose. But Americans are good and do not.
They cling to this self-flattering belief so vehemently that they not only refused to entertain the possibility that the U.S. government might have done something bad on purpose, but they scornfully mock anyone who questions the official claim of ''mistake.'' When you're lucky enough as a government and military to have hordes of journalists so subservient and nationalistic that they do and say this '-- to exonerate you fully '-- before knowing any facts, why would you ever feel the need to submit to someone else's investigation?
Christian Science Monitor
The New Yorker
American Journalism is the ultimate accountability-free profession, as demonstrated by the fact that every journalist not named ''Judy Miller'' who uncritically regurgitated and advocated false government claims about Iraq not only paid no price but has thrived. So needless to say, none of the people who instantly acquitted the U.S. in the Kunduz hospital attack have in any way accounted for their early proclamations or attempted to reconcile them with all of this evidence.
At Vox, Max ''surely-the-result-of-some-terrible-human-error'' Fisher left it to his colleague Zach Beauchamp to admit that a new AP report ''doesn't prove, conclusively, that the U.S. knowingly and intentionally bombed a hospital. But it does raise some serious questions about who knew what about the Kunduz hospital'' (there was, of course, no reference to Fisher's prior verdict of innocence, nor Klein's announcement on Twitter that this was all an ''accident''). Anderson's New Yorker colleague Amy Davidson had published an article asking all the right questions before he declared it ''unlikely'' to have been ''intentionally criminal.'' Meanwhile, as evidence of intentionality grew, Murphy simply abandoned his prior ''trust me'' decree that this was all an accident (we'd never do this on purpose) and seamlessly switched to what certainly could be read to be justification (yeah, OK, we did it and we were right to do it):
(The claim that the hospital had been taken over by Taliban fighters has been repeatedly debunked, including by MSF just yesterday; they also quite rightly pronounced themselves ''disgusted'' at the suggestion that even if it were true that Taliban fighters were among the patients, razing their hospital would be justified.)
It is, of course, pleasing to view your own tribe as inherently superior. It feels nice to believe that your own side is so intrinsically moral, so Exceptional, that one needs no ''evidence'' or ''investigation'' to know immediately that any bad acts are unintended. It is a massive relief to know that things like ''war crimes'' and intentionally bombing structures protected by the Geneva Conventions can only be done by the countries declared by your government to be adversaries, but never by your own government.
But as comforting, uplifting and self-affirming as that worldview is, it is literally the exact antithesis of the skepticism that the most basic precepts of journalism require. Declaring your own government innocent when it repeatedly bombs a well-known, well-established hospital filled with doctors, nurses and patients '-- before you have the slightest idea what actually happened, and in the face of all kinds of evidence in conflict with such assurances of innocence '-- is inexcusable for all sorts of obvious reasons. Very unfortunately, this sort of hyper-nationalism and reflexively tribalistic self-love is pervasive in American journalism '-- Americans do not do such things '-- which is why the U.S. government knows that it can engage in such acts without any accountability or even pressure to allow an independent investigation.
UPDATE: A couple more horrible examples:
Richard Cohen, the Washington Post, October 7:
To think the United States purposely bombed a hospital is evidence of a mindset that suggests such deep hostility toward America that [MSF International President Joanne] Liu ought to go work somewhere else. '... I don't for a minute think that the United States was involved in 'war crime' here '-- unless the definition of a crime is so stretched as to encompass a horrible accident.
Ross Baker, USA Today, October 11:
Doctors Without Borders cheapens the value of its own indignation by raising what seems to have been a deadly mistake to the level of a wanton moral transgression, but the Pentagon also shouldn't simply dismiss it with the default explanation that it was just the ''fog of war.'' It was a bloody blunder, but not, by any reasonable definition, a war crime.
I genuinely don't understand why the White House or Pentagon bothers to spend money on official spokespeople. It's such a redundant function given how many in the U.S. media eagerly perform that role.
UPDATE II: Political Science professor Corey Robin directed me to this article in The Nation by Greg Gradin and said: ''Right after Kunduz, historian showed deliberate targeting of hospitals was policy for U.S. in Cambodia.'' But as I replied to Professor Robin, and as all these intrepid journalists have taught us: ''Nobody needs to read this. We all KNOW that **Americans** don't do things like this. Only Bad Countries & People do.''
Top photo: Christopher Stokes, the general director of Doctors Without Borders, right, talks as Michiel Hofman, the head of Kunduz incident team and a Doctors Without Borders employee, listens during a press conference at their office in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015
John Holdren nuclear energy's importance as ultra low carbon power source '' White House Summit on Nuclear Energy (WHSNE)
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:14
John Holdren nuclear energy's importance as ultra low carbon power source - White House Summit on Nuclear Energy (WHSNE) - Atomic InsightsHTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:14:14 GMT Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Content-Length: 18134 Connection: keep-alive Keep-Alive: timeout=30 Expires: Thu, 19 Nov 1981 08:52:00 GMT Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0 Pragma: no-cache X-Pingback: http://atomicinsights.com/xmlrpc.php Set-Cookie: bb2_screener_=1447085653+126.96.36.199; path=/ Set-Cookie: PHPSESSID=tcskgarsa3r6cskp6gjof0nhh6; path=/ Vary: Accept-Encoding, X-User-Agent Content-Encoding: gzip Server: Pagely Gateway/1.4.7 X-User-Agent: standard X-Cache-Config: 0 0 X-Cache-Status: MISS
Former President of Greenpeace Scientifically Rips Climate Change to Shreds - Technocracy News
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 15:31
TN Note: The following is a lecture delivered by Patrick Moore, formerly President of Greenpeace Int'l, to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. He is a vocal critic of faulty science that supports climate-change caused by humans. Since he was a legend in the eco-movement, his current assessment is credible and authoritative.
Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?My Lords and Ladies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you for the opportunity to set out my views on climate change. As I have stated publicly on many occasions, there is no definitive scientific proof, through real-world observation, that carbon dioxide is responsible for any of the slight warming of the global climate that has occurred during the past 300 years, since the peak of the Little Ice Age. If there were such a proof through testing and replication it would have been written down for all to see.
The contention that human emissions are now the dominant influence on climate is simply a hypothesis, rather than a universally accepted scientific theory. It is therefore correct, indeed verging on compulsory in the scientific tradition, to be skeptical of those who express certainty that ''the science is settled'' and ''the debate is over''.
But there is certainty beyond any doubt that CO2 is the building block for all life on Earth and that without its presence in the global atmosphere at a sufficient concentration this would be a dead planet. Yet today our children and our publics are taught that CO2 is a toxic pollutant that will destroy life and bring civilization to its knees. Tonight I hope to turn this dangerous human-caused propaganda on its head. Tonight I will demonstrate that human emissions of CO2 have already saved life on our planet from a very untimely end. That in the absence of our emitting some of the carbon back into the atmosphere from whence it came in the first place, most or perhaps all life on Earth would begin to die less than two million years from today.
But first a bit of background.
I was born and raised in the tiny floating village of Winter Harbour on the northwest tip of Vancouver Island, in the rainforest by the Pacific. There was no road to my village so for eight years myself and a few other children were taken by boat each day to a one-room schoolhouse in the nearby fishing village. I didn't realize how lucky I was playing on the tide flats by the salmon-spawning streams in the rainforest, until I was sent off to boarding school in Vancouver where I excelled in science. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia, gravitating to the life sciences '' biology, biochemistry, genetics, and forestry '' the environment and the industry my family has been in for more than 100 years. Then, before the word was known to the general public, I discovered the science of ecology, the science of how all living things are inter-related, and how we are related to them. At the height of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the threat of all-out nuclear war and the newly emerging consciousness of the environment I was transformed into a radical environmental activist. While doing my PhD in ecology in 1971 I joined a group of activists who had begun to meet in the basement of the Unitarian Church, to plan a protest voyage against US hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska.
We proved that a somewhat rag-tag looking group of activists could sail an old fishing boat across the north Pacific ocean and help change the course of history. We created a focal point for the media to report on public opposition to the tests.
When that H-bomb exploded in November 1971, it was the last hydrogen bomb the United States ever detonated. Even though there were four more tests planned in the series, President Nixon canceled them due to the public opposition we had helped to create. That was the birth of Greenpeace.
Flushed with victory, on our way home from Alaska we were made brothers of the Namgis Nation in their Big House at Alert Bay near my northern Vancouver Island home. For Greenpeace this began the tradition of the Warriors of the Rainbow, after a Cree Indian legend that predicted the coming together of all races and creeds to save the Earth from destruction. We named our ship the Rainbow Warrior and I spent the next fifteen years in the top committee of Greenpeace, on the front lines of the environmental movement as we evolved from that church basement into the world's largest environmental activist organization.
Next we took on French atmospheric nuclear testing in the South Pacific. They proved a bit more difficult than the US nuclear tests. It took years to eventually drive these tests underground at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia. In 1985, under direct orders from President Mitterrand, French commandos bombed and sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, killing our photographer. Those protests continued until long after I left Greenpeace. It wasn't until the mid-1990s that nuclear testing finally ended in the South Pacific, and it most other parts of the world as well.
Going back to 1975, Greenpeace set out to save the whales from extinction at the hands of huge factory whaling fleets. We confronted the Soviet factory whaling fleet in the North Pacific, putting ourselves in front of their harpoons in our little rubber boats to protect the fleeing whales. This was broadcast on television news around the world, bringing the Save the Whales movement into everyone's living rooms for the first time. After four years of voyages, in 1979 factory whaling was finally banned in the North Pacific, and by 1981 in all the world's oceans.
In 1978 I sat on a baby seal off the East Coast of Canada to protect it from the hunter's club. I was arrested and hauled off to jail, the seal was clubbed and skinned, but a photo of me being arrested while sitting on the baby seal appeared in more than 3000 newspapers around the world the next morning. We won the hearts and minds of millions of people who saw the baby seal slaughter as outdated, cruel, and unnecessary.
Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out nuclear war. Over the years the ''peace'' in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate from it. The first principle of ecology is that we are all part of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, ''One human family on spaceship Earth'', and to preach otherwise teaches that the world would be better off without us. As we shall see later in the presentation there is very good reason to see humans as essential to the survival of life on this planet.
In the mid 1980s I found myself the only director of Greenpeace International with a formal education in science. My fellow directors proposed a campaign to ''ban chlorine worldwide'', naming it ''The Devil's Element''. I pointed out that chlorine is one of the elements in the Periodic Table, one of the building blocks of the Universe and the 11th most common element in the Earth's crust. I argued the fact that chlorine is the most important element for public health and medicine. Adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health and the majority of our synthetic medicines are based on chlorine chemistry. This fell on deaf ears, and for me this was the final straw. I had to leave.
When I left Greenpeace I vowed to develop an environmental policy that was based on science and logic rather than sensationalism, misinformation, anti-humanism and fear. In a classic example, a recent protest led by Greenpeace in the Philippines used the skull and crossbones to associate Golden Rice with death, when in fact Golden Rice has the potential to help save 2 million children from death due to vitamin A deficiency every year.
The Keeling curve of CO2 concentration in the Earth's atmosphere since 1959 is the supposed smoking gun of catastrophic climate change. We presume CO2 was at 280 ppm at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, before human activity could have caused a significant impact. I accept that most of the rise from 280 to 400 ppm is caused by human CO2 emissions with the possibility that some of it is due to outgassing from warming of the oceans.
NASA tells us that ''Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth's Temperature'' in child-like denial of the many other factors involved in climate change. This is reminiscent of NASA's contention that there might be life on Mars. Decades after it was demonstrated that there was no life on Mars, NASA continues to use it as a hook to raise public funding for more expeditions to the Red Planet. The promulgation of fear of Climate Change now serves the same purpose. As Bob Dylan prophetically pointed out, ''Money doesn't talk, it swears'', even in one of the most admired science organizations in the world.
On the political front the leaders of the G7 plan to ''end extreme poverty and hunger'' by phasing out 85% of the world's energy supply including 98% of the energy used to transport people and goods, including food. The Emperors of the world appear clothed in the photo taken at the close of the meeting but it was obviously Photo-shopped. They should be required to stand naked for making such a foolish statement.
The world's top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, is hopelessly conflicted by its makeup and it mandate. The Panel is composed solely of the World Meteorological Organization, weather forecasters, and the United Nations Environment Program, environmentalists. Both these organizations are focused primarily on short-term timescales, days to maybe a century or two. But the most significant conflict is with the Panel's mandate from the United Nations. They are required only to focus on ''a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the atmosphere, and which is in addition to natural climate variability.'''¨So if the IPCC found that climate change was not being affected by human alteration of the atmosphere or that it is not ''dangerous'' there would be no need for them to exist. They are virtually mandated to find on the side of apocalypse.
Scientific certainty, political pandering, a hopelessly conflicted IPCC, and now the Pope, spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, in a bold move to reinforce the concept of original sin, says the Earth looks like ''an immense pile of filth'' and we must go back to pre-industrial bliss, or is that squalor?
And then there is the actual immense pile of filth fed to us more than three times daily by the green-media nexus, a seething cauldron of imminent doom, like we are already condemned to Damnation in Hell and there is little chance of Redemption. I fear for the end of the Enlightenment. I fear an intellectual Gulag with Greenpeace as my prison guards.
Let's begin with our knowledge of the long-term history of the Earth's temperature and of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere. Our best inference from various proxies back indicate that CO2 was higher for the first 4 billion years of Earth's history than it has been since the Cambrian Period until today. I will focus on the past 540 million years since modern life forms evolved. It is glaringly obvious that temperature and CO2 are in an inverse correlation at least as often as they are in any semblance of correlation. Two clear examples of reverse correlation occurred 150 million years and 50 million years ago. At the end of the Jurassic temperature fell dramatically while CO2 spiked. During the Eocene Thermal Maximum, temperature was likely higher than any time in the past 550 million years while CO2 had been on a downward track for 100 million years. This evidence alone sufficient to warrant deep speculation of any claimed lock-step causal relationship between CO2 and temperature.
The Devonian Period beginning 400 million years ago marked the culmination of the invasion of life onto the land. Plants evolved to produce lignin, which in combination with cellulose, created wood which in turn for the first time allowed plants to grow tall, in competition with each other for sunlight. As vast forests spread across the land living biomass increased by orders of magnitude, pulling down carbon as CO2 from the atmosphere to make wood. Lignin is very difficult to break down and no decomposer species possessed the enzymes to digest it. Trees died atop one another until they were 100 metres or more in depth. This was the making of the great coal beds around the world as this huge store of sequestered carbon continued to build for 90 million years. Then, fortunately for the future of life, white rot fungi evolved to produce the enzymes that can digest lignin and coincident with that the coal-making era came to an end.
There was no guarantee that fungi or any other decomposer species would develop the complex of enzymes required to digest lignin. If they had not, CO2, which had already been drawn down for the first time in Earth's history to levels similar to todays, would have continued to decline as trees continued to grow and die. That is until CO2 approached the threshold of 150 ppm below which plants begin first to starve, then stop growing altogether, and then die. Not just woody plants but all plants. This would bring about the extinction of most, if not all, terrestrial species, as animals, insects, and other invertebrates starved for lack of food. And that would be that. The human species would never have existed. This was only the first time that there was a distinct possibility that life would come close to extinguishing itself, due to a shortage of CO2, which is essential for life on Earth.
A well-documented record of global temperature over the past 65 million years shows that we have been in a major cooling period since the Eocene Thermal Maximum 50 million years ago. The Earth was an average 16C warmer then, with most of the increased warmth at the higher latitudes. The entire planet, including the Arctic and Antarctica were ice-free and the land there was covered in forest. The ancestors of every species on Earth today survived through what may have been the warmest time in the history of life. It makes one wonder about dire predictions that even a 2C rise in temperature from pre-industrial times would cause mass extinctions and the destruction of civilization. Glaciers began to form in Antarctica 30 million years ago and in the northern hemisphere 3 million years ago. Today, even in this interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age, we are experiencing one of the coldest climates in the Earth's history.
Coming closer to the present we have learned from Antarctic ice cores that for the past 800,000 years there have been regular periods of major glaciation followed by interglacial periods in 100,000 year-cycles. These cycles coincide with the Milankovitch cycles that are tied to the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and its axial tilt. It is highly plausible that these cycles are related to solar intensity and the seasonal distribution of solar heat on the Earth's surface. There is a strong correlation between temperature and the level of atmospheric CO2 during these successive glaciations, indicating a possible cause-effect relationship between the two. CO2 lags temperature by an average of 800 years during the most recent 400,000-year period, indicating that temperature is the cause, as the cause never comes after the effect.
Looking at the past 50,000 years of temperature and CO2 we can see that changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature. This is as one could expect, as the Milankovitch cycles are far more likely to cause a change in temperature than a change in CO2. And a change in the temperature is far more likely to cause a change in CO2 due to outgassing of CO2 from the oceans during warmer times and an ingassing (absorption) of CO2 during colder periods. Yet climate alarmists persist in insisting that CO2 is causing the change in temperature, despite the illogical nature of that assertion.
It is sobering to consider the magnitude of climate change during the past 20,000 years, since the peak of the last major glaciation. At that time there were 3.3 kilometres of ice on top of what is today the city of Montreal, a city of more than 3 million people. 95% of Canada was covered in a sheet of ice. Even as far south as Chicago there was nearly a kilometre of ice. If the Milankovitch cycle continues to prevail, and there is little reason aside from our CO2 emissions to think otherwise, this will happen gradually again during the next 80,000 years. Will our CO2 emissions stave off another glaciation as James Lovelock has suggested? There doesn't seem to be much hope of that so far, as despite 1/3 of all our CO2 emissions being released during the past 18 years the UK Met Office contends there has been no statistically significant warming during this century.
At the height of the last glaciation the sea level was about 120 metres lower than it is today. By 7,000 years ago all the low-altitude, mid-latitude glaciers had melted. There is no consensus about the variation in sea level since then although many scientists have concluded that the sea level was higher than today during the Holocene Thermal optimum from 9,000 to 5,000 years ago when the Sahara was green. The sea level may also have been higher than today during the Medieval Warm Period.
Hundred of islands near the Equator in Papua, Indonesia, have been undercut by the sea in a manner that gives credence to the hypothesis that there has been little net change in sea level in the past thousands of years. It takes a long time for so much erosion to occur from gentle wave action in a tropical sea.
Coming back to the relationship between temperature and CO2 in the modern era we can see that temperature has risen at a steady slow rate in Central England since 1700 while human CO2 emissions were not relevant until 1850 and then began an exponential rise after 1950. This is not indicative of a direct causal relationship between the two. After freezing over regularly during the Little Ice Age the River Thames froze for the last time in 1814, as the Earth moved into what might be called the Modern Warm Period.
The IPCC states it is ''extremely likely'' that human emissions have been the dominant cause of global warming ''since the mid-20th century'', that is since 1950. They claim that ''extremely'' means 95% certain, even though the number 95 was simply plucked from the air like an act of magic. And ''likely'' is not a scientific word but rather indicative of a judgment, another word for an opinion.
There was a 30-year period of warming from 1910-1940, then a cooling from 1940 to 1970, just as CO2 emissions began to rise exponentially, and then a 30-year warming from 1970-2000 that was very similar in duration and temperature rise to the rise from 1910-1940. One may then ask ''what caused the increase in temperature from 1910-1940 if it was not human emissions? And if it was natural factors how do we know that the same natural factors were not responsible for the rise between 1970-2000.'' You don't need to go back millions of years to find the logical fallacy in the IPCC's certainty that we are the villains in the piece.
Water is by far the most important greenhouse gas, and is the only molecule that is present in the atmosphere in all three states, gas, liquid, and solid. As a gas, water vapour is a greenhouse gas, but as a liquid and solid it is not. As a liquid water forms clouds, which send solar radiation back into space during the day and hold heat in at night. There is no possibility that computer models can predict the net effect of atmospheric water in a higher CO2 atmosphere. Yet warmists postulate that higher CO2 will result in positive feedback from water, thus magnifying the effect of CO2 alone by 2-3 times. Other scientists believe that water may have a neutral or negative feedback on CO2. The observational evidence from the early years of this century tends to reinforce the latter hypothesis.
How many politicians or members of the media or the public are aware of this statement about climate change from the IPCC in 2007?
''we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.''
There is a graph showing that the climate models have grossly exaggerated the rate of warming that confirms the IPCC statement. The only trends the computer models seem able to predict accurately are ones that have already occurred.
Coming to the core of my presentation, CO2 is the currency of life and the most important building block for all life on Earth. All life is carbon-based, including our own. Surely the carbon cycle and its central role in the creation of life should be taught to our children rather than the demonization of CO2, that ''carbon'' is a ''pollutant'' that threatens the continuation of life. We know for a fact that CO2 is essential for life and that it must be at a certain level in the atmosphere for the survival of plants, which are the primary food for all the other species alive today. Should we not encourage our citizens, students, teachers, politicians, scientists, and other leaders to celebrate CO2 as the giver of life that it is?
It is a proven fact that plants, including trees and all our food crops, are capable of growing much faster at higher levels of CO2 than present in the atmosphere today. Even at the today's concentration of 400 ppm plants are relatively starved for nutrition. The optimum level of CO2 for plant growth is about 5 times higher, 2000 ppm, yet the alarmists warn it is already too high. They must be challenged every day by every person who knows the truth in this matter. CO2 is the giver of life and we should celebrate CO2 rather than denigrate it as is the fashion today.
We are witnessing the ''Greening of the Earth'' as higher levels of CO2, due to human emissions from the use of fossil fuels, promote increased growth of plants around the world. This has been confirmed by scientists with CSIRO in Australia, in Germany, and in North America. Only half of the CO2 we are emitting from the use of fossil fuels is showing up in the atmosphere. The balance is going somewhere else and the best science says most of it is going into an increase in global plant biomass. And what could be wrong with that, as forests and agricultural crops become more productive?
All the CO2 in the atmosphere has been created by outgassing from the Earth's core during massive volcanic eruptions. This was much more prevalent in the early history of the Earth when the core was hotter than it is today. During the past 150 million years there has not been enough addition of CO2 to the atmosphere to offset the gradual losses due to burial in sediments.
Let's look at where all the carbon is in the world, and how it is moving around.
Today, at just over 400 ppm, there are 850 billion tons of carbon as CO2 in the atmosphere. By comparison, when modern life-forms evolved over 500 million years ago there was nearly 15,000 billion tons of carbon in the atmosphere, 17 times today's level. Plants and soils combined contain more than 2,000 billion tons of carbon, more that twice as much as the entire global atmosphere. The oceans contain 38,000 billion tons of carbon, as dissolved CO2, 45 times as much as in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels, which are made from plants that pulled CO2 from the atmosphere account for 5,000 '' 10,000 billion tons of carbon, 6 '' 12 times as much carbon as is in the atmosphere.
But the truly stunning number is the amount of carbon that has been sequestered from the atmosphere and turned into carbonaceous rocks. 100,000,000 billion tons, that's one quadrillion tons of carbon, have been turned into stone by marine species that learned to make armour-plating for themselves by combining calcium and carbon into calcium carbonate. Limestone, chalk, and marble are all of life origin and amount to 99.9% of all the carbon ever present in the global atmosphere. The white cliffs of Dover are made of the calcium carbonate skeletons of coccolithophores, tiny marine phytoplankton.
The vast majority of the carbon dioxide that originated in the atmosphere has been sequestered and stored quite permanently in carbonaceous rocks where it cannot be used as food by plants.
Beginning 540 million years ago at the beginning of the Cambrian Period many marine species of invertebrates evolved the ability to control calcification and to build armour plating to protect their soft bodies. Shellfish such as clams and snails, corals, coccolithofores (phytoplankton) and foraminifera (zooplankton) began to combine carbon dioxide with calcium and thus to remove carbon from the life cycle as the shells sank into sediments; 100,000,000 billion tons of carbonaceous sediment. It is ironic that life itself, by devising a protective suit of armour, determined its own eventual demise by continuously removing CO2 from the atmosphere. This is carbon sequestration and storage writ large. These are the carbonaceous sediments that form the shale deposits from which we are fracking gas and oil today. And I add my support to those who say, ''OK UK, get fracking''.
The past 150 million years has seen a steady drawing down of CO2 from the atmosphere. There are many components to this but what matters is the net effect, a removal on average of 37,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year for 150 million years. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was reduced by about 90% during this period. This means that volcanic emissions of CO2 have been outweighed by the loss of carbon to calcium carbonate sediments on a multi-million year basis.
If this trend continues CO2 will inevitably fall to levels that threaten the survival of plants, which require a minimum of 150 ppm to survive. If plants die all the animals, insects, and other invertebrates that depend on plants for their survival will also die.
How long will it be at the present level of CO2 depletion until most or all of life on Earth is threatened with extinction by lack of CO2 in the atmosphere?
During this Pleistocene Ice Age, CO2 tends to reach a minimum level when the successive glaciations reach their peak. During the last glaciation, which peaked 18,000 years ago, CO2 bottomed out at 180 ppm, extremely likely the lowest level CO2 has been in the history of the Earth. This is only 30 ppm above the level that plants begin to die. Paleontological research has demonstrated that even at 180 ppm there was a severe restriction of growth as plants began to starve. With the onset of the warmer interglacial period CO2 rebounded to 280 ppm. But even today, with human emissions causing CO2 to reach 400 ppm plants are still restricted in their growth rate, which would be much higher if CO2 were at 1000-2000 ppm.
Here is the shocking news. If humans had not begun to unlock some of the carbon stored as fossil fuels, all of which had been in the atmosphere as CO2 before sequestration by plants and animals, life on Earth would have soon been starved of this essential nutrient and would begin to die. Given the present trends of glaciations and interglacial periods this would likely have occurred less than 2 million years from today, a blink in nature's eye, 0.05% of the 3.5 billion-year history of life.
No other species could have accomplished the task of putting some of the carbon back into the atmosphere that was taken out and locked in the Earth's crust by plants and animals over the millennia. This is why I honour James Lovelock in my lecture this evening. Jim was for many years of the belief that humans are the one-and-only rogue species on Gaia, destined to cause catastrophic global warming. I enjoy the Gaia hypothesis but I am not religious about it and for me this was too much like original sin. It was as if humans were the only evil species on the Earth.
But James Lovelock has seen the light and realized that humans may be part of Gaia's plan, and he has good reason to do so. And I honour him because it takes courage to change your mind after investing so much of your reputation on the opposite opinion. Rather than seeing humans as the enemies of Gaia, Lovelock now sees that we may be working with Gaia to ''stave of another ice age'', or major glaciation. This is much more plausible than the climate doom-and gloom scenario because our release of CO2 back into the atmosphere has definitely reversed the steady downward slide of this essential food for life, and hopefully may reduce the chance that the climate will slide into another period of major glaciation. We can be certain that higher levels of CO2 will result in increased plant growth and biomass. We really don't know whether or not higher levels of CO2 will prevent or reduce the eventual slide into another major glaciation. Personally I am not hopeful for this because the long-term history just doesn't support a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature.
It does boggle the mind in the face of our knowledge that the level of CO2 has been steadily falling that human CO2 emissions are not universally acclaimed as a miracle of salvation. From direct observation we already know that the extreme predictions of CO2's impact on global temperature are highly unlikely given that about one-third of all our CO2 emissions have been discharged during the past 18 years and there has been no statistically significant warming. And even if there were some additional warming that would surely be preferable to the extermination of all or most species on the planet.
You heard it here. ''Human emissions of carbon dioxide have saved life on Earth from inevitable starvation and extinction due to lack of CO2''. To use the analogy of the Atomic Clock, if the Earth were 24 hours old we were at 38 seconds to midnight when we reversed the trend towards the End Times. If that isn't good news I don't know what is. You don't get to stave off Armageddon every day.
I issue a challenge to anyone to provide a compelling argument that counters my analysis of the historical record and the prediction of CO2 starvation based on the 150 million year trend. Ad hominem arguments about ''deniers'' need not apply. I submit that much of society has been collectively misled into believing that global CO2 and temperature are too high when the opposite is true for both. Does anyone deny that below 150 ppm CO2 that plants will die? Does anyone deny that the Earth has been in a 50 million-year cooling period and that this Pleistocene Ice Age is one of the coldest periods in the history of the planet?
If we assume human emissions have to date added some 200 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, even if we ceased using fossil fuels today we have already bought another 5 million years for life on earth. But we will not stop using fossil fuels to power our civilization so it is likely that we can forestall plant starvation for lack of CO2 by at least 65 million years. Even when the fossil fuels have become scarce we have the quadrillion tons of carbon in carbonaceous rocks, which we can transform into lime and CO2 for the manufacture of cement. And we already know how to do that with solar energy or nuclear energy. This alone, regardless of fossil fuel consumption, will more than offset the loss of CO2 due to calcium carbonate burial in marine sediments. Without a doubt the human species has made it possible to prolong the survival of life on Earth for more than 100 million years. We are not the enemy of nature but its salvation.
As a postscript I would like to make a few comments about the other side of the alleged dangerous climate change coin, our energy policy, in particular the much maligned fossil fuels; coal, oil, and natural gas.
Depending how it's tallied, fossil fuels account for between 85-88% of global energy consumption and more than 95% of energy for the transport of people and goods, including our food.
Earlier this year the leaders of the G7 countries agreed that fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100, a most bizarre development to say the least. Of course no intelligent person really believes this will happen but it is a testament to the power of the elites that have converged around the catastrophic human-caused climate change that so many alleged world leaders must participate in the charade. How might we convince them to celebrate CO2 rather than to denigrate it?
A lot of nasty things are said about fossil fuels even though they are largely responsible for our longevity, our prosperity, and our comfortable lifestyles.
Hydrocarbons, the energy components of fossil fuels, are 100% organic, as in organic chemistry. They were produced by solar energy in ancient seas and forests. When they are burned for energy the main products are water and CO2, the two most essential foods for life. And fossil fuels are by far the largest storage battery of direct solar energy on Earth. Nothing else comes close except nuclear fuel, which is also solar in the sense that it was produced in dying stars.
Today, Greenpeace protests Russian and American oil rigs with 3000 HP diesel-powered ships and uses 200 HP outboard motors to board the rigs and hang anti-oil plastic banners made with fossil fuels. Then they issue a media release telling us we must ''end our addiction to oil''. I wouldn't mind so much if Greenpeace rode bicycles to their sailing ships and rowed their little boats into the rigs to hang organic cotton banners. We didn't have an H-bomb on board the boat that sailed on the first Greenpeace campaign against nuclear testing.
Some of the world's oil comes from my native country in the Canadian oil sands of northern Alberta. I had never worked with fossil fuel interests until I became incensed with the lies being spread about my country's oil production in the capitals of our allies around the world. I visited the oil sands operations to find out for myself what was happening there.
It is true it's not a pretty sight when the land is stripped bare to get at the sand so the oil can be removed from it. Canada is actually cleaning up the biggest natural oil spill in history, and making a profit from it. The oil was brought to the surface when the Rocky Mountains were thrust up by the colliding Pacific Plate. When the sand is returned back to the land 99% of the so-called ''toxic oil'' has been removed from it.
Anti-oil activists say the oil-sands operations are destroying the boreal forest of Canada. Canada's boreal forest accounts for 10% of all the world's forests and the oil-sands area is like a pimple on an elephant by comparison. By law, every square inch of land disturbed by oil-sands extraction must be returned to native boreal forest. When will cities like London, Brussels, and New York that have laid waste to the natural environment be returned to their native ecosystems?
The art and science of ecological restoration, or reclamation as it is called in the mining industry, is a well-established practice. The land is re-contoured, the original soil is put back, and native species of plants and trees are established. It is possible, by creating depressions where the land was flat, to increase biodiversity by making ponds and lakes where wetland plants, insects, and waterfowl can become established in the reclaimed landscape.
The tailings ponds where the cleaned sand is returned look ugly for a few years but are eventually reclaimed into grasslands. The Fort McKay First Nation is under contract to manage a herd of bison on a reclaimed tailings pond. Every tailings pond will be reclaimed in a similar manner when operations have been completed.
As an ecologist and environmentalist for more than 45 years this is good enough for me. The land is disturbed for a blink of an eye in geological time and is then returned to a sustainable boreal forest ecosystem with cleaner sand. And as a bonus we get the fuel to power our weed-eaters, scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses, trains, and aircraft.
To conclude, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the stuff of life, the staff of life, the currency of life, indeed the backbone of life on Earth.
I am honoured to have been chosen to deliver your annual lecture.
Thank you for listening to me this evening.
I hope you have seen CO2 from a new perspective and will join with me to Celebrate CO2!
Read the full speech here'...
(Visited 21,683 times, 3,116 visits today)
Related Articles That You Might Like
Judge Restricts Sharing of Fox News Clips Through Email and Social Media - Hollywood Reporter
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 15:29
In Fox News' lawsuit against the media monitoring service TVEyes, a permanent injunction is issued that is primed to go into effect next month.
Some prominent government officials and members of the press may soon find it more difficult to share Fox News clips after a federal judge on Friday issued a permanent injunction in a copyright lawsuit against TVEyes.
The media monitoring service has been used by MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Reuters, Bloomberg, the White House, 100 members of Congress, the Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, AARP, Goldman Sachs, the Association of Trial Lawyers and many others. These customers have paid a flat fee around $500 a month to watch live streams, view past television programs, download unlimited high-definition video clips and then edit them and share them with others.
Fox News filed a lawsuit, contending that the service was damaging its investment in news reporting and interfering with its own licensing of clips.
In September 2014, Fox News lost the first round of the battle when Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the indexing and excerpting of Fox News programming were protected as a fair use of copyrighted content. This past August, in the second round, the judge came to a mixed decision that concluded that archiving also was covered by fair use, but not the indiscriminate sharing of such content.
Now comes the fallout of this decision with a rather extraordinary permanent injunction being entered. And it's one to borrow the Chris Rock film title, that could have TVEyes clients playing a game of top five. Here's a list of things that are now forbidden:
Enabling users to download to their own computers video clips of content telecast on the Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network.Enabling users to view FNC or FBN content by searching by date, time, and channel.Enabling users from sharing video clips of FNC or FBN content on social media websites rather than by personally directed emails, with further limitations.Those further limitations?
If a TVEyes client wants to email a clip, he or she can only do so to five or less recipients. The client also has to register their work email with TVEyes instead of using Gmail or another free web email service. Those being sent the clip will also have to submit their own email address to ensure they are the intended recipients.
As for social media, the judge goes even further.
"TVEyes shall implement a blocking feature that will prevent links to FNC or FBN clips stored on any servers owned or leased by TVEyes from playing when they are accessed from links posted to the major social sharing services on the internet," states the order. "TVEyes will also block plays linked from domain names associated with the blocked sites (such as "url shorteners") to ensure that its list of blocked domains remains comprehensive. Examples of such social media sites include: twitter.com; t.co (Twitter's URL shortener); facebook.com; fb.me (Facebook's URL shortener); linkedin.com; pinterest.com; plus.google.com; tumblr.com; vine.co; snapchat.com; hubs.ly (Hubspot, a social media posting system); bit.ly (Bitly, a social media posting system); buff.ly (Buffer, a social media posting system); and reddit.com."
The order becomes effective on Dec. 14.
TVEyes attempted to argue that the injunction should only apply to 19 works that Fox News presented as being infringed, but the judge rejected this approach, writing, "The 19 works were emblematic of all Fox News' content, for Fox News complains that TVEyes copied and continues to copy all Fox News' programs, including all copyrighted content, on a 24/7 basis."
The issue of damages in this copyright lawsuit is still being litigated and the case could also potentially go up on appeal.
Catalonia's parliament backs declaration to split from Spain '-- RT News
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 15:22
Catalonia's regional parliament has backed a declaration on Monday to start a formal secession process from Spain. The region plans to establish autonomous rule by 2017.
The declaration on secession, which launches a so-called roadmap towards independence, was backed by a majority in the regional parliament. The motion was passed by 72 votes to 63, AP reported.
"There is a growing cry for Catalonia to not merely be a country, but to be a state with everything that entails," Raul Romeva, head of Together for Yes, said ahead of the session. "Today we don't only open a new parliament, this marks a before and after."
The vote was proposed by Catalan pro-independence parties, which won the local parliamentary election in September this year. They hope it will lead to the northeastern region seceding from Spain within 18 months.
READ MORE: UN chief says Catalonia call for independence from Spain is illegitimate
The parties voted on a resolution which calls for legislation within 30 days to start a social security and treasury system separate from Spain. The resolution is backed by Catalan Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) parties.
The resolution, submitted by Catalan pro-independence parties back in October, states that the ''democratic mandate based on the result of the elections held on September 27, is aimed at creation of independent and sovereign Catalan state'...''
READ MORE: Resolution to start secession process submitted to Catalan parliament
It also declares the beginning of the state creation process and calls for an ''open, inclusive and active constituent civil process aimed at building a foundation for the future Catalan constitution.''
However, Madrid authorities have warned that Spain's government will go straight to the Constitutional Court within a week if the vote succeeds.
"If on Monday [the resolution] is approved... we will immediately go to court," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said, as cited by AFP. She added that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy would also gather for emergency talks.
Rajoy has repeatedly said independence referendums as well as other secessionist steps are unconstitutional and therefore are illegal.
''The state may use any available judicial and political mechanism contained in the constitution and in the laws to defend the sovereignty of the Spanish people and of the general interest of Spain,'' he said earlier. ''Those who want to divide and split Catalonia from Spain must know that they will not succeed.''
Despite being home to only 16 percent of Spain's population, Catalonia remains its wealthiest region, producing 20 percent of national GDP. Many Catalonians consider the rest of Spain as an economic burden on them. The longstanding independence drive has intensified in recent years due to the economic crisis.
Banken bevoordelen is volgens Brussel staatssteun | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:35
Fiscale maatregelen die alleen banken bevoordelen zijn waarschijnlijk een vorm van staatssteun. Dat heeft de Europese Commissie vorig jaar april gezegd toen Nederland de commissie benaderde met algemene vragen over het nieuw type obligatie convertible obligaties, ook wel afgekort als coco's.
Inmiddels is in Nederland een wet van kracht die dergelijke obligaties mogelijk maakt. Alleen banken komen in aanmerking voor fiscale korting. NRC Handelsbladmeldde dinsdag dat ING daaraan heeft meegeschreven.
InformerenBrussel is niet ge¯nformeerd over de wet en de details ervan, laat een woordvoerder weten. ''Wij staan in contact met de Nederlandse autoriteiten over de zaak.'' Omdat de commissie niet is ge¯nformeerd kan nog niet worden vastgesteld of het hier gaat om illegale staatssteun, aldus de zegsman.
In zijn algemeenheid geldt in dit soort kwesties dat de regelgeving niet wordt ingevoerd voordat de commissie die heeft goedgekeurd, aldus de zegsman. Als mocht blijken dat de wet niet door de beugel kan, kan de commissie een formeel onderzoek openen.
KritischMinister van Financin Jeroen Dijsselbloem schreef donderdag aan de Tweede Kamer dat Brussel eerder kritische kanttekeningen had geplaatst.
De Tweede Kamer had woensdag opheldering geist over de invloed van banken op wetgeving.
Coco'sDeze coco's verliezen hun waarde zodra het eigen vermogen van de bank die de lening uitgeeft onder een bepaald minimum komt. De banken mogen deze leningen dan tot het eigen vermogen rekeken, al tellen de coco's voor maximaal 1,5 procent mee in het eigen vermogen.
De houders van de coco's kunnen dan tijdelijk geen rente ontvangen of zelfs hun inleg helemaal verliezen. In ruil voor dit risico ontvangen zij zolang de buffers in orde zijn een hoge vergoeding in de vorm van rente.
Banken kunnen zo hun buffers aanpassen om schokken in financile markten op te vangen. Volgens toezichthouder AFM zijn deze leningen niet geschikt voor de meeste particuliere beleggers omdat zij "kenmerken en risico's hebben die moeilijk te begrijpen zijn".
Rabobank en ING hebben al geld opgehaald door coco's uit te geven. ABN Amro is van plan dit te doen.
Climate during the Carboniferous Period
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:34
Climate and the Carboniferous Period
West Virginia today is mostly an erosional plateau carved up into steep ridges and narrow valleys, but 300 million years ago, during the Carboniferous Period, it was part of a vast equatorial coastal swamp extending many hundreds of miles and barely rising above sea level. This steamy, tropical quagmire served as the nursery for Earth's first primitive forests, comprised of giant lycopods, ferns, and seed ferns.
North America was located along Earth's equator then, courtesy of the forces of continental drift. The hot and humid climate of the Middle Carboniferous Period was accompanied by an explosion of terrestrial plant life. However by the Late Carboniferous Period Earth's climate had become increasingly cooler and drier. By the beginning of the Permian Period average global temperatures declined by about 10° C.
Interestingly, the last half of the Carboniferous Period witnessed periods of significant ice cap formation over polar landmasses-- particularly in the southern hemisphere. Alternating cool and warm periods during the ensuing Carboniferous Ice Age coincided with cycles of glacier expansion and retreat. Coastlines fluctuated, caused by a combination of both local basin subsidence and worldwide sea level changes. In West Virginia a complex system of meandering river deltas supported vast coal swamps that left repeating stratigraphic levels of peat bogs that later became coal, separated by layers of fluvial rocks like sandstone and shale when the deltas were building, and marine rocks like black shales and limestones when rising seas drowned coastlands. Accumulations of several thousand feet of these sediments over millions of years caused heat and pressure which transformed the soft sediments into rock and the peat layers into the 100 or so coal seams which today comprise the Great Bituminous Coalfields of the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe.
Earth's climate and atmosphere have varied greatly over geologic time. Our planet has mostly been much hotter and more humid than we know it to be today, and with far more carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere than exists today. The notable exception is 300,000,000 years ago during the late Carboniferous Period, which resembles our own climate and atmosphere like no other.
With this in mind the road to understanding global warming and our present climate begins with an historical journey through a chapter in Earth's history, some 30 million years before dinosaurs appeared, known as the Carboniferous Period-- a time when terrestrial Earth was ruled by giant plants and insects, and glaciers waxed and waned over a huge southern continent.
The Carbon in "Carboniferous"
An intriguing story of climate change is recorded in the rocks which comprise the geological formations laid down during the Carboniferous Period. Coal deposits play an important role in this record.
Coal is mostly carbon accumulations from fossil plant material deposited in swamps so devoid of oxygen that bacteria and other critters couldn't survive to feed on their remains. The explosion of luxuriant plant growth and coal bed formation that occurred 286 - 360 million years ago is the reason for the name, "Carboniferous Period."
North American geologists have found it convenient to divide the Carboniferous Period into two parts:
The first half is called the "Mississippian Period" and is characterized by deposition of mostly thick marine limestones in shallow, tropical seas.
The last half of the Carboniferous is called the " Pennsylvanian Period," and contains mostly sediments and coal seams created by meandering river deltas periodically interrupted by marine inundations. Many places around the world contain important coal beds deposited during this time period.
In West Virginia the various coal seams have each been given their own unique names: like Pocahontas, Sewell, Eagle, or Coalburg. There are subtle but noticeable changes in the character and properties of the coal beds throughout the Pennsylvanian Period, most likely due to Earth's cooling climate and quite possibly also due to declining atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
Early Pennsylvanian coal seams like those found in the Pocahontas and New River Formations were characteristically friable,shiny, and "vitreous," indicating deposition in a continuously wet, humid environment.
In contrast, coals of the Allegheny Formation that followed (Middle Pennsylvanian) are predominantly hard,dull, and "splinty," indicating that by then the climate had already become drier, most likely cooler, and generally a more stressful place for terrestrial plant life. The Coalburg and Stockton seams, deposited around 307-305 million years ago, mark the geologic boundary at which a shift from tropical to temperate climate appears to have occurred.
The Kanawha Formation, represents deposition in a transitional climate, with coal seams containing alternating layers of vitreous and splinty layers, called "banded coals."
Similarities with our Present World
Average global temperatures in the EarlyCarboniferous Period were hot- approximately 20° C (68° F). However, cooling during the Middle Carboniferous reduced average global temperatures to about 12° C (54° F). As shown on the chart below, this is comparable to the average global temperature on Earth today!
Similarly, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Early Carboniferous Period were approximately 1500 ppm (parts per million), but by the Middle Carboniferous had declined to about 350 ppm -- comparable to average CO2 concentrations today!
Earth's atmosphere today contains about 380 ppm CO2 (0.038%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth's history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.
Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time
There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today.
The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when globaltemperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today-- 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.
The Carboniferous Ice Age
Two special conditions of terrestrial landmass distribution, when they exist concurrently, appear as a sort of common denominator for the occurrence of very long-term simultaneous declines in both global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2):
1) the existence of a continuous continental landmass stretching from pole to pole, restricting free circulation of polar and tropical waters, and
2)the existence of alarge (south) polar landmass capable of supporting thick glacial ice accumulations.
These special conditions existed during the Carboniferous Period, as they do today in our present Quaternary Period.
Climate change during the Carboniferous Period was dominated by the great Carboniferous Ice Age. As the Earth alternately cooled then warmed, great sheets of glacial ice thousands of feet thick accumulated, then melted, then reaccumulated in synchronous cycles.
Vast glaciers up to 8,000 feet thick existed at the south pole then, moving from higher elevations to lower, driven by gravity and their tremendous weight. These colossal slow-motion tidal waves of ice destroyed and pulverized everything in their path, scraping the landscape to bare bedrock-- altering mountains, valleys, and river courses. Ancient bedrock in Africa, Australia, India and South America show scratches and gouges from this glaciation.
Earth's continents during the Carboniferous Period were arranged differently than they are today. South America, Africa, India, Australia, Antarctica, and a few minor pieces were joined together near the south pole to comprise the supercontinent known as Gondwanaland.
Gondwanaland was a formidable polar landmass. While ice caps and glaciers can't grow large over open oceans, they can and do attain great thickness over polar continents-- like Gondwanaland.
Although cycles of glaciation are believed to occur in response to solar input variations like the Milankovich Cycle and Precession of the Equinoxes, another important factor is the rearrangement of continental landmasses over geologic time by the processes of continental drift.
Throughout the Carboniferous Period, continental drift was rearranging most (but not all) of the Earth's landmasses into a single supercontinent stretching from the south polar region to the north polar region. Although the precise mechanisms involved are still a matter of debate this appears to cause regional humidity changes and redistribution of ocean currents which in turn promote ice accumulation and glacier formation over the earth's polar continents. These glacial ice caps grow larger during periods of reduced solar input, and because ice caps are very good solar reflectors this tended to accelerate and perpetuate cyclical relapses to global cooling.
Basically, Earth undergoes alternating periods of ice ages and warming whenever a continuous continental landmass extends from one polar region to the other while at the same time there exists a large polar continent capable of supporting thick ice accumulations. These conditions existed 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period as they do for the Earth today. However for most of geologic history the distribution of the continents across the globe did not satisfy this criteria. Continental drift continually rearranges the continents, moving at rates of only a few centimeters per year.
We are actually in an ice age climate today. However for the last 10,000 years or so we have enjoyed a warm but temporary interglacial vacation. We know from geological records like ocean sediments and ice cores from permanent glaciers that for at least the last 750,000 years interglacial periods happen at 100,000 year intervals, lasting about 15,000 to 20,000 years before returning to an icehouse climate. We are currently about 18,000 years into Earth's present interglacial cycle. These cycles have been occurring for at least the last 2-4 million years, although the Earth has been cooling gradually for the last 30 million years.
Over the past 750,000 years of Earth's history, Ice Ages have occurred at regular intervals, of approximately 100,000 years each.Courtesy of Illinois State Museum
Continental DriftSetting the Stage for Global Climate Change
Illustrated above is how geologists believe Earth's landmasses were arranged 306 million years ago, during the Late Carboniferous Period.
Many of the continents we know today were recognizable then-- some more easily than others. Parts of them were either under water or hadn't been assembled yet, and almost all were part of one of two larger landmasses known as Gondwanaland and Laurasia.
Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and South America together comprised Gondwanaland. It was positioned near the south pole, and during the Late Carboniferous Period was largely buried under large sheets of glacial ice.
Europe, Greenland, Siberia, North America, Kazakhstan, and N.China together comprised Laurasia. It was still adding real estate to itself throughout the Carboniferous and into the Permian Period.
Pangea (Greek for "all lands") is the "supercontinent" created when these two giant landmasses drifted into one another, a process that was complete by the middle of the Permian Period. Later, during the Jurassic Period, the Pangean Supercontinent began to break up and the separate continents once again drifted apart-- a process which continues today.
During Late Carboniferous time the continent of North America lay much further south than it does today. North America and parts of Europe were in the tropics. The equator stretched from central Colorado to Nova Scotia and also from Great Britain to the Ukraine.
A broad Central Pangean mountain range formed an equatorial highland that during late Carboniferous was the locus of coal production in an equatorial rainy belt (1). This produced vast amounts of sediments which were transported to equatorial coastal regions, forming deltas which supported vast coal swamps. Throughout the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) Period, Pangea drifted northward to drier, cooler climates and by the mid-Permian North America and Northern Europe had become desert-like as continued mountain-building caused much of the interior of the vast Pangean Supercontinent to be in rain shadow.
The Great Bituminous Coalfields of the Eastern U.S., Europe, and Northern China were primarily deposited during the Upper Carboniferous Period, attesting to the fact that even in the cold, icehouse climate of the Carboniferous Period lush vegetation still persisted in the world's tropical and cool temperate regions. The map projection below shows the general worldwide distribution of many of the significant coal deposits of the Late Carboniferous.
Coal Beds of the Carboniferous Period:How the World Looked when they were Deposited
Ice Age Sea Level Oscillations and Coal Deposits
Warm to moderate temperatures and high humidity alone do not produce all the conditions necessary for creating coal deposits. Steadily rising sea level and/or steady regional swamp subsidence are also necessary. As a prerequisite to the formation of thick coal seams it is necessary that the rate of vegetable matter accumulation remain in general equilibrium with the rate of rising water levels for relatively long periods. Rise too fast, and the swamp gets drowned, rise too slowly and dead plant material is not completely submerged when it falls to the swamp floor where it will rot or oxidize rather than be preserved.
Eustatic or global sea level fluctuations were common and regular throughout the second half of the Carboniferous Period. Coal seams are found in layers alternating between marine and non-marine rocks, indicating cycles of coastal transgressions and regressions played an important role in coal formation.
The Carboniferous-age rocks of the Eastern U.S. and Europe record regular cycles of advancing and retreating seas; where beds of coal, shale, limestone, and sandstones were deposited in more or less repetitive sequences. These sequences, called cyclothems, have been well-documented, particularly during the Late-Upper Carboniferous.
Although several factors influenced the timing and distribution of these cyclothems, it is generally believed that cycles of rising and subsiding sea levels were the primary cause. These changes appear to have been global in scope--brought about by repetitive cycles of ice expansion, then ice melting, during the Carboniferous Ice Age.
How Coal Forms
Although most of the Carboniferous-age coal seams of West Virginia are on average less than 4 feet in thickness, they occasionally can be as thick as 25 feet. The bituminous coal beds of North America and Europe were laid down in swamps along coastal environments which are often dominated by meandering river deltas. Because these deltas were always moving and changing, the distribution and thickness of individual coal beds tend to be variable,--sometimes erratic.
Coal seams are often comprised of distinct, mappable benches which laterally thicken and thin, merge and split apart, and often vary in physical properties like ash and sulfur based on their proximity to channel systems and marine shorelines at the time of deposition. There are many areas in the coalfields which contain few minable coals or no coals at all. But for the most part individual seam horizons are remarkably persistent along great horizontal distances. So much so that the geologic formations of this time period are often best correlated by using the coal seams themselves as "marker beds."
When conditions were right, accumulating dead plants formed peat beds which after burial were subjected to heat and pressure as additional sediment layers continued to accumulate and add weight. Several thousand feet of sediments were added during the geologic ages that followed. In the Appalachian Region, most of this rock overburden was subsequently removed by erosion.
During deep burial the peat undergoes coalification which squeezes out up to 98% of the water and some of the volatile hydrocarbons. The older and more deeply-buried a coal seam is the less water and volatile matter it contains. The ratio of fixed carbon to volatile matter is used to determine a coal's rank. The higher the ratio, the higher its rank.
The lowest rank of coal is peat. Next comes lignite, then sub-bituminous, bituminous, and in tectonically active regions-- anthracite. Coal beds of the Carboniferous Period are almost all ranked bituminous, or higher, because of their great age and the great burial depth and moderate tectonic forces that were applied since their deposition.
A bituminous coal bed 1 ft. thick may have required as much as 7-10 ft. of peat thickness to start with. The process of peat accumulation continues until terminated by an event like an invasion of a nearby river channel, a marine transgression, or unfavorable climate. Each time shorelines retreated coal swamps migrated with them, along vast deltas which received seemingly limitless supplies of sediment from the emerging Pangean mountain range to the southeast. Although these highlands may have rivaled the Himalayas in relief, they are now completely gone-- eroded down to nothing by the relentless forces of wind and rain over geologic time.
Thanks to the Carboniferous Ice Age, and continental drift, coal occurs in relative abundance, and is mined today for a variety of energy, manufacturing, and medicinal purposes.
Our Future Written in Stone
Today the Earth warms up and cools down in 100,000- year cycles. Geologic history reveals similar cycles were operative during the Carboniferous Period. Warming episodes caused by the periodic favorable coincidence of solar maximums and the cyclic variations of Earth's orbit around the sun are responsible for our warm but temporary interglacial vacation from the Pleistocene Ice Age, a cold period in Earth's recent past which began about 2 million years ago and ended (at least temporarily) about 10,000 years ago. And just as our current world has warmed, and our atmosphere has increased in moisture and CO2 since the glaciers began retreating 18,000 years ago, so the Carboniferous Ice Age witnessed brief periods of warming and CO2-enrichment.
Following the Carboniferous Period, the Permian Period and Triassic Period witnessed predominantly desert-like conditions, accompanied by one or more major periods of species extinctions. CO2 levels began to rise during this time because there was less erosion of the land and therefore reduced opportunity for chemical reaction of CO2 with freshly exposed minerals. Also, there was significantly less plant life growing in the proper swamplands to sequester CO2 through photosynthesis and rapid burial.
It wasn't until Pangea began breaking up in the Jurassic Period that climates became moist once again. Carbon dioxide existed then at average concentrations of about 1200 ppm, but has since declined. Today, at 380 ppm our atmosphere is CO2-impoverished, although environmentalists, certain political groups, and the news media would have us believe otherwise.
What will our climate be like in the future? That is the question scientists are asking and seeking answers to currently. The causes of "global warming" and climate change are today being popularly described in terms of human activities. However, climate change is something that happens constantly on its own. If humans are in fact altering Earth's climate with our cars, electrical powerplants, and factories these changes must be larger than the natural climate variability in order to be measurable. So far the signal of a discernible human contribution to global climate change has not emerged from this natural variability or background noise.
Understanding Earth's geologic and climate past is important for understanding why our present Earth is the way it is, and what Earth may look like in the future. The geologic information locked up in the rocks and coal seams of the Carboniferous Period are like a history book waiting to be opened. What we know so far, is merely an introduction. It falls on the next generation of geologists, climatologists, biologists, and curious others to continue the exploration and discovery of Earth's dynamic history-- a fascinating and surprising tale, written in stone.
This page by Monte HiebLast updated: March 21, 2009
1) Christopher R. Scotese: Paleomap Project
PNNL: West Coast Flooding on the Horizon
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 02:01
PNNL researchers find more atmospheric rivers will hit western North AmericaResults: A strikingly large increase in the number of atmospheric river days awaits the U.S. west coast if climate warming remains relatively unchecked. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory came to that conclusion after analyzing climate model projections through the end of the century under a comparatively high greenhouse gas emission scenario.
The fractional increase in atmospheric river days falls between 50% and 600%, depending on the seasons and landfall locations. These findings indicate that major challenges lie ahead for those managing water resources and flood risk. That is because atmospheric rivers (see sidebar) often produce heavy, cold season precipitation and flooding when they hit the west coast of North America.
"Atmospheric rivers can bring record-setting precipitation when making landfall in western North America. Our research indicates they will be more frequent under climate warming," said Dr. Yang Gao, a post-doctoral researcher and atmospheric scientist at PNNL, "causing increased flooding events."
Why It Matters: On average, atmospheric rivers hit the western United States only a few times each winter, but they transport significant amounts of moisture that converges in the mountains producing heavy precipitation. In a warmer climate, the atmosphere can hold even more moisture, so it is not surprising that the number of atmospheric river days will increase in the future. However, it is unclear whether some areas will see larger increases in atmospheric river days than others.
This study found that associated with a poleward shift of the subtropical jet in the North Pacific basin, the number of atmospheric river days increases much more significantly in Alaska during spring because both increased moisture and increased wind speed gang up to increase the frequency of atmospheric rivers. These findings provide important insights for future water resource management throughout the North American west coast.
Methods: The PNNL research team analyzed model outputs from 24 global climate models used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). They compared two simulations, present and future, of atmospheric rivers determined from the vertically integrated water vapor flux to quantify the changes in atmospheric rivers that make landfall over western North America. To determine what processes contribute to the changes, they designed a rescaling method to isolate the contributions of changes caused by moisture and those caused by winds. The team found that the increased atmospheric moisture in a warmer climate plays the major role in driving the increases of atmospheric rivers. The changes in winds only slightly pull back the increased atmospheric river occurrences.
"Our study designed a method to quantify factors that contribute to the changes in AR days," said Gao. "It clearly points to the overwhelmingly dominant role of increased atmospheric moisture in a warmer climate that produces the increase of AR days. Even though changes in winds do counter such effect, the effect only moderately limits the large increase of AR events in the future."
What's Next? Researchers next will analyze the same multi-model ensemble of global climate simulations used in this study to investigate the changes in atmospheric rivers in the North Atlantic that make landfall in Europe.
Sponsor: The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research supported this research as part of the Regional and Global Climate Modeling Program.
Research Team:Yang Gao, Jian Lu, L. Ruby Leung, Qing Yang, Samson Hagos and Yun Qian, PNNL
Research Area:Climate and Earth Systems Science
Reference: Gao Y, J Lu, LR Leung, Q Yang, S Hagos and Y Qian, 2015. "Dynamical and Thermodynamical Modulations on Future Changes of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers over Western North America." Geophysical Research Letters 42(17): 7179-7186. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065435
47 U.S. Code § 315 - Candidates for public office | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
Sun, 08 Nov 2015 18:14
prev | next
(a)Equal opportunities requirement; censorship prohibition; allowance of station use; news appearances exception; public interest; public issues discussion opportunitiesIf any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of this section. No obligation is imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any'--
(2)bona fide news interview,(3)bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary), or(4)on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto),shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection. Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
(b)Charges(1)In generalThe charges made for the use of any broadcasting station by any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office in connection with his campaign for nomination for election, or election, to such office shall not exceed'--
(A)subject to paragraph (2), during the forty-five days preceding the date of a primary or primary runoff election and during the sixty days preceding the date of a general or special election in which such person is a candidate, the lowest unit charge of the station for the same class and amount of time for the same period; and(B)at any other time, the charges made for comparable use of such station by other users thereof.(2)Content of broadcasts(A)In generalIn the case of a candidate for Federal office, such candidate shall not be entitled to receive the rate under paragraph (1)(A) for the use of any broadcasting station unless the candidate provides written certification to the broadcast station that the candidate (and any authorized committee of the candidate) shall not make any direct reference to another candidate for the same office, in any broadcast using the rights and conditions of access under this chapter, unless such reference meets the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D).
(B)Limitation on chargesIf a candidate for Federal office (or any authorized committee of such candidate) makes a reference described in subparagraph (A) in any broadcast that does not meet the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D), such candidate shall not be entitled to receive the rate under paragraph (1)(A) for such broadcast or any other broadcast during any portion of the 45-day and 60-day periods described in paragraph (1)(A), that occur on or after the date of such broadcast, for election to such office.
(C)Television broadcastsA candidate meets the requirements of this subparagraph if, in the case of a television broadcast, at the end of such broadcast there appears simultaneously, for a period no less than 4 seconds'--
(i)a clearly identifiable photographic or similar image of the candidate; and(ii)a clearly readable printed statement, identifying the candidate and stating that the candidate has approved the broadcast and that the candidate's authorized committee paid for the broadcast.(D)Radio broadcastsA candidate meets the requirements of this subparagraph if, in the case of a radio broadcast, the broadcast includes a personal audio statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and indicates that the candidate has approved the broadcast.
(E)CertificationCertifications under this section shall be provided and certified as accurate by the candidate (or any authorized committee of the candidate) at the time of purchase.
(F)DefinitionsFor purposes of this paragraph, the terms ''authorized committee'' and ''Federal office'' have the meanings given such terms by section 431 of title 2.(c)DefinitionsFor purposes of this section'--
(1)the term ''broadcasting station'' includes a community antenna television system; and(2)the terms ''licensee'' and ''station licensee'' when used with respect to a community antenna television system mean the operator of such system.(d)Rules and regulationsThe Commission shall prescribe appropriate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section.
(e)Political record(1)In generalA licensee shall maintain, and make available for public inspection, a complete record of a request to purchase broadcast time that'--
(A)is made by or on behalf of a legally qualified candidate for public office; or(B)communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance, including'--(i)a legally qualified candidate;(ii)any election to Federal office; or(iii)a national legislative issue of public importance.(2)Contents of recordA record maintained under paragraph (1) shall contain information regarding'--
(A)whether the request to purchase broadcast time is accepted or rejected by the licensee;(B)the rate charged for the broadcast time;(C)the date and time on which the communication is aired;(D)the class of time that is purchased;(E)the name of the candidate to which the communication refers and the office to which the candidate is seeking election, the election to which the communication refers, or the issue to which the communication refers (as applicable);(F)in the case of a request made by, or on behalf of, a candidate, the name of the candidate, the authorized committee of the candidate, and the treasurer of such committee; and(G)in the case of any other request, the name of the person purchasing the time, the name, address, and phone number of a contact person for such person, and a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of the board of directors of such person.(3)Time to maintain fileThe information required under this subsection shall be placed in a political file as soon as possible and shall be retained by the licensee for a period of not less than 2 years.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title III, § 315,48 Stat. 1088; July 16, 1952, ch. 879, § 11,66 Stat. 717; Pub. L. 86''274, § 1,Sept. 14, 1959, 73 Stat. 557; Pub. L. 92''225, title I, §§ 103(a)(1), (2)(B), 104(c),Feb. 7, 1972, 86 Stat. 4, 7; Pub. L. 93''443, title IV, § 402,Oct. 15, 1974, 88 Stat. 1291; Pub. L. 107''155, title III, § 305(a), (b), title V, § 504,Mar. 27, 2002, 116 Stat. 100, 101, 115.)References in Text
This chapter, referred to in subsecs. (a) and (b)(2)(A), was in the original ''this Act'', meaning act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, known as the Communications Act of 1934, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 609 of this title and Tables.Amendments
2002'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 107''155, § 305(a), (b), inserted subsec. heading, designated existing provisions as par. (1), inserted par. heading, redesignated former pars. (1) and (2) as subpars. (A) and (B), respectively, of par. (1), inserted ''subject to paragraph (2),'' before ''during the forty-five days'' in par. (1)(A), and added par. (2).Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 107''155, § 504, which directed addition of subsec. (e) and redesignation of former subsecs. (e) and (f) as (f) and (g), respectively, was executed by adding subsec. (e) to reflect the probable intent of Congress. Section did not contain subsecs. (e) and (f).1974'--Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 93''443, § 402, struck out provisions respecting station use charges upon certification of nonviolation of Federal limitations of expenditures for use of communications media; redesignated former subsec. (f) as (c); incorporated former par. (1)(A) and (B) provisions in clauses designated (1) and (2) and struck out subpar. (C) definition of ''Federal elective office'' and par. (2) definition of ''legally qualified candidate''.Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 93''443, § 402(a), struck out provisions respecting station use charges upon certification of nonviolation of State limitations of expenditures for use of communications media and conditions for application of State limitations and redesignated former subsec. (g) as (d).Subsecs. (e) to (g). Pub. L. 93''443, § 402(a), struck out subsec. (e) provisions respecting penalties for violations and inapplicability of sections 501 through 503 of this title and redesignated former subsecs. (f) and (g) as (c) and (d).1972'--Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 92''225, § 103(a)(2)(B), inserted ''under this subsection'' after ''No obligation is imposed''.Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 92''225, § 103(a)(1), substituted in introductory text ''by any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office in connection with his campaign for nomination for election, or election, to such office'', for ''for any of the purposes set forth in this section'', added par. (1), designated existing provisions as par. (2), inserted therein the opening words ''at any other time,'' and substituted ''by other users thereof'' for ''for other purposes''.Subsecs. (c) to (g). Pub. L. 92''225, § 104(c), added subsecs. (c) to (f) and redesignated former subsec. (c) as (g).1959'--Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 86''274provided that appearances by legally qualified candidates on bona fide newscasts, interviews and documentaries and on on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection.1952'--Act July 16, 1952, designated existing provisions as subsecs. (a) and (c) and added subsec. (b).
Effective Date of 2002 Amendment
Pub. L. 107''155, title III, § 305(c),Mar. 27, 2002, 116 Stat. 102, provided that: ''The amendments made by this section [amending this section] shall apply to broadcasts made after the effective date of this Act [Nov. 6, 2002].''Amendment by Pub. L. 107''155effective Nov. 6, 2002 (notwithstanding section 305(c) ofPub. L. 107''155, set out above), but not applicable with respect to runoff elections, recounts, or election contests resulting from elections held prior to Nov. 6, 2002, see section 402 ofPub. L. 107''155, set out as an Effective Date of 2002 Amendment; Regulations note under section 431 of Title 2, The Congress.Effective Date of 1974 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 93''443effective Jan. 1, 1975, see section 410(a) ofPub. L. 93''443, set out as a note under section 431 of Title 2, The Congress.Repeals
Repeal of title I of Pub. L. 92''225, cited as a credit to this section, by Pub. L. 93''443, title II, § 205(b),Oct. 15, 1974, 88 Stat. 1278, has been construed as not repealing the amendments to this section made by sections 103(a)(1), (2)(B), and 104(c) of such title I.Reexamination of 1959 Amendment; Declaration of Congressional Intent
Pub. L. 86''274, § 2,Sept. 14, 1959, 73 Stat. 557, provided that:''(a) The Congress declares its intention to reexamine from time to time the amendment to section 315(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 [subsec. (a) of this section] made by the first section of this Act, to ascertain whether such amendment has proved to be effective and practicable.
''(b) To assist the Congress in making its reexaminations of such amendment, the Federal Communications Commission shall include in each annual report it makes to Congress a statement setting forth (1) the information and data used by it in determining questions arising from or connected with such amendment, and (2) such recommendations as it deems necessary in the public interest.''
Suspension of Equal Time Provisions for 1960 Campaign
Pub. L. 86''677, Aug. 24, 1960, 74 Stat. 554, suspended that part of subsec. (a) of this section, which requires any licensee of a broadcast station who permits any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station to afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station, for the period of the 1960 presidential and vice presidential campaigns with respect to nominees for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States. The Federal Communications Commission was directed to make a report to the Congress, not later than March 1, 1961, with respect to the effect of the provisions of Pub. L. 86''677and any recommendations the Commission might have for amendments to this chapter as a result of experience under the provisions of Pub. L. 86''677.This is a list of parts within the Code of Federal Regulations for which this US Code section provides rulemaking authority.
This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].
It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.
47 CFR - Telecommunication
'Underwater drone with explosives' spotted near Baltic Nord Stream pipeline '-- RT News
Sun, 08 Nov 2015 16:40
An unmanned military underwater vehicle rigged with explosives was spotted on the seabed in the vicinity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltics on Friday, Swedish media report. The device is expected to be disarmed on November 9.
An abandoned expendable remotely-operated mine clearance underwater vehicle allegedly with explosives onboard has been detected in multinational waters of the Baltic Sea by the Swedish Navy, Svenska Daglabet reports.
The discovery was made during a routine check of the Nord Stream pipeline. Since it was discovered in the Swedish economic zone, north of the island of Gotland, the Nord Stream pipeline operator immediately notified the Swedish military.
The type of ROV (remote operated vehicle) found near Gotland is typically used to disarm big unremovable munitions found on seabed, as the drone is blown up along with the dangerous object.
Although there is every indication that the UUV carries an explosive charge, the Swedish military believe it cannot do any harm.
''We don't consider it to be dangerous to merchant vessels or the pipeline at this point,'' Jesper Stolpe, Swedish Armed Forces spokesman, told Radio Sweden. According to Stolpe, the cable used to control the drone and to set off the explosive was cut off, so at the moment the vehicle is relatively harmless.
The national identity of the drone has not been verified so far, as many countries use UUVs of a similar construction, Stolpe said.
The Swedish military precludes the possibility of sabotage against the pipeline, Stolpe said.
An attempt to disarm the UUV or take it away from the pipeline is going to be made on Monday, November 9.
The Nord Stream pipeline connecting Russia and Germany was constructed by energy giant Gazprom in close cooperation with companies from Germany, France and the Netherlands.
READ MORE: Russia to construct new gas pipeline to Germany via Baltic Sea '' Gazprom
In June 2015, Gazprom signed a new contract, providing construction of two additional gas pipelines along the already existing two, the so-called Nord Stream-2 project. The new project is going to be developed together with such companies as E.On, Shell, and OMV.
FAQ | National Association of Scholars
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 06:44
Q:When was NAS founded?A:NAS was founded in 1987 by Stephen Balch and others. For several years before that the founding members had been meeting under the name Campus Coalition for Democracy. Q:What is NAS's political affiliation?A:The NAS has no political affiliation. As NAS President Peter Wood has written: "Both the Left and the Right produce their share of intellectual obtuseness. The NAS is not a partner with either. We are not a political organization, but a body of scholars who hope to sustain a vision of the university as a fundamentally good institution that deserves to be sustained." Q:Who may join NAS?A:NAS membership is open to all who share a commitment to its core principles. A large majority of our members are current and former faculty members. We also welcome graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, college administrators, independent scholars, as well as non-academic citizens who care about the future of higher education. Q:What are the benefits of membership in the NAS?A:NAS members receive a subscription to our journal Academic Questions and access to a network of people who share a commitment to academic freedom and excellence. Q:Is there any risk in joining NAS?A:For some people at some institutions, perhaps. We recognize that graduate students and untenured faculty members run a risk if they join an organization that is famous for challenging campus orthodoxies. To protect our members' privacy NAS does not disclose members' names without their permission. Q:How many members does NAS have?A:NAS currently has about 3,000 active and associate members across the country. Q:How is NAS funded?A:NAS is funded by grants from foundations, gifts from individuals, and membership dues. We also draw some support from federal research grants. NAS is a non-profit organization, and gifts we receive are tax-deductible. Here is NAS's 2014 Form 990. Q:What have others written about the NAS?A:You can see a list of writings about the National Association of Scholars on our In the News page.