777: Pop-Up Terrorism

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 58m
November 29th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Mark Workman, Baron of Galts Gultch, No Agenda Nation, Baron Thomas Nussbaum, David Rosa, Hyperware Technologies, Grand Duke David Foley, Adam Johnson, Anonymous, Donald DeGracia, Adam Kowalewski, Marc Waterloo, Sir Isaac of Altedena

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Joseph Frost, Pedro Vaz, Sir TG of my Left Tongue Too, Dame Francine Hardaway

Cover Artist: PownalGeek

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My name is Adam Curry, I'm a podcaster. I am cis-gendered, I am white, I am a male, and my preferred pronoun is dude
Very happy with social media, because it allows us to have all of our little nooks and crannies on the Internet to communicate and distribute and share ideas
Podcasting was invented for the revolution, it is every citizen's duty to be informed, not to just expect immediate to inform you. That's why you've taken matters into our own hands. Media hackers
Face it no revolution is going to be started on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram
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Todd Stern - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 15:38
Todd D. Stern (born May 4, 1951) is the United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading talks at the United Nations climate change conferences and smaller sessions, appointed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on January 26, 2009.[1]
Stern was previously under the Bill Clinton administration Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary in the White House from 1993 to 1998, during which time he also acted as the senior White House negotiator at the Kyoto Protocol and Buenos Aires negotiations.[citation needed]
Biography[edit]Stern graduated from Dartmouth College in 1973,[2] and earned a J.D. at Harvard Law School.[3]
E-8[edit]He has proposed the creation of the E-8, a novel international group uniting leading developed nations and developing ones for an annual gathering focused on combating global warming.[4]
See also[edit]References[edit]External links[edit]
Who make up the coalition against ISIS? - CNN.com
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 15:18
Story highlightsCanada voted to contribute aircraft and personnel in battle against ISISSaudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan have participated in airstrikes; Netherlands hit ISIS in IraqTurkey recently authorized use of military force against ISIS as ISIS took nearby townsKurdish Peshmerga forces are fighting on the ground against ISISThis week, Canada became the latest country to join the U.S.-led fight against ISIS when its lawmakers voted Tuesday to contribute aircraft and personnel in the battle, though Prime Minister Stephen Harper stressed Canada will not commit ground troops.
ISIS has seized large swaths of land in its quest to create a caliphate -- an Islamic state -- that stretches from western Syria to eastern Iraq.
Turkey joined the coalition late last week as the militants continued to fight Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground. In September, the United States promised broad cooperation in the effort against the terror group. So far, Great Britain, France, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and other nations are participating.
Here's a closer look at their roles.
Regional allies
Saudi Arabia: On September 17, in a speech to service members at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, U.S. President Barack Obama said that Saudi Arabia had "agreed to host our efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces" to fight ISIS.
In late September, Saudi Arabia joined the coalition in airstrikes in Syria, attacks that hit ISIS vehicles and logistics bases, Centcom said. And last month, U.S. officials said that Saudi Arabia had offered to train on its soil moderate Syrian rebels who would fight ISIS.
Saudi Arabia has also put $500 million into the coffers of the U.N. humanitarian aid agencies in Iraq, a senior State Department official said Sunday.
United Arab Emirates: The UAE helped launch airstrikes in Syria. The country's first female fighter pilot led one of the missions.
Turkey: Though the NATO member initially offered only tacit support for the coalition, Turkey's government recently authorized the use of military force against terrorist organizations, including ISIS, as the militant group's fighters took towns just south of Turkey's border. Foreign troops have also been allowed to launch attacks against ISIS from Turkey. U.S. officials said it had earlier taken steps to cut the flow of money to ISIS and denied entry to or deported several thousand foreign fighters heading to Syria to join the extremists.
The nation's role in the fight against ISIS has stirred controversy, particularly last week when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apologized to Turkey and UAE leaders for comments in a speech at Harvard, when he said the Middle East allies had inadvertently strengthened ISIS by helping opposition groups fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Jordan: The kingdom participated in airstrikes in Syria. In mid-September, former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said on CNN that he doubted Jordan will commit ground troops in the fight against ISIS. "The U.S. will have to take the lead in providing military strikes," he said.
One of Jordan's key roles would be providing intelligence to the West, Muasher said. Speaking from Amman, he stressed that Jordan's intelligence on ISIS is "second to none."
Egypt: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said Egypt has a critical role to play in countering ISIS ideology. There was a "very detailed conversation with the Egyptians about military-to-military cooperation" in Iraq, State Department officials said in September. There appear to be no public details about the role Egypt has played, however.
But signaling a major cultural push against ISIS, Egypt's grand mufti condemned the terror group last month, saying that its actions are not in line with Islam, Al-Arabiya reported.
Qatar: The small but very rich Gulf nation that hosts one of the largest American bases in the Middle East has flown a number of humanitarian flights, State Department officials said. And in late September, in his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani vowed to support the coalition.
Qatar has been accused of funding terrorism, which the Emir dismissed.
"We don't fund extremists," he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement."
Of the coalition, he said, "We've been asked by our American friends if we can join, and we did."
Iraqi Kurdistan:
The Kurdish fighting force, the Peshmerga, is battling ISIS on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
Leaders of the semiautonomous region of Iraq are willing to send their Peshmerga forces to fight beyond their borders if there's a comprehensive international strategy put in place, President Masoud Barzani told CNN's Anna Coren.
Three Americans are fighting alongside Kurdish forces against in northern Syria, a spokesman for the Kurdish group told CNN.
Live CNN coverage has captured some of the bloodiest battles between the Kurds and ISIS.
Bahrain: The oil-wealthy Gulf nation east of Saudi Arabia has participated in airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria. Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, speaking on CNN in September, called ISIS a "deviated cult" that must be fought.
Bahrain has had close relations with the United States for years, and the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in based in Bahrain.
Western allies
United Kingdom: Last week, the UK launched its first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, striking targets four days after its Parliament approved the country's involvement. British planes helped Kurdish troops who were fighting ISIS in northwestern Iraq, dropping a bomb on an ISIS heavy weapon position and shooting a missile at an armed pickup truck, the UK's Defence Ministry said. British planes had been involved in reconnaissance missions over Iraq.
Prime Minister David Cameron has called ISIS "a menace" and said the UK would help arm Kurdish forces, support the Iraqi government, keep supplying humanitarian help and coordinate with the United Nations to battle ISIS.
"This is not about British combat troops on the ground," he said Sunday, "it is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat."
Read more: Britain vows to 'confront' ISIS
Australia: Australian aircraft started flying over Iraq in support of allied operations, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament in Canberra on October 1. The Australian mission consists of inflight refueling and electronic surveillance in support of the U.S. and other allies. The country also authorized the deployment of Australian special forces into Iraq to "advise and assist" Iraqi forces, Abbott said, calling it a "combat deployment" but an "essentially humanitarian mission to protect the people of Iraq and ultimately the people of Australia from the murderous rage of the ISIL death cult." ISIL is another acronym for ISIS.
Australian authorities believe that there are at least 60 Australians fighting in the Middle East alongside terrorist groups, chiefly ISIS, and that at least 100 more support terrorist groups through funding and recruitment. Counterterrorism police have carried out raids in Australia in recent days. In mid-September, two men were charged in connection with a terror plot that Abbott said involved plans for a "demonstration killing." Australian media reported that the men planned to kidnap a member of the public, behead the victim and then drape him or her in an ISIS flag.
France: French planes have taken part in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, and the nation has flown reconnaissance flights over Iraq, contributed ammunition and made humanitarian drops over the nation. France's air force was also part of a recent operation in the Iraqi town of Amerli, along with Australia and Great Britain, that pushed back ISIS fighters. ISIS recently called for attacks against Western citizens, singling out "the spiteful and filthy French" for punishment. A video emerged last month of militants who have pledged allegiance to ISIS beheading Herve Gourdel, a French citizen who was kidnapped in Algeria.
Germany: Geared toward curbing ISIS propaganda and recruitment, Germany has banned activities that support ISIS, including making it illegal to fly the trademark black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Germany has also said it was sending military assistance to the Kurdish region to fight ISIS.
Read more: How ISIS makes $1 million a day
Obama said on September 17 that German paratroopers are offering training in the overall effort to fight ISIS.
Canada: The lower house of Parliament voted Tuesday to contribute aircraft and personnel in the fight against ISIS. In September, a State Department official said that Canada has provided "tangible equipment and ammunition" to the broader effort to fight ISIS.
Read more: How ISIS lures Westerners
The Netherlands: This week, the Dutch military said two F-16s dropped bombs on armed ISIS vehicles in northern Iraq that were shooting at Kurdish fighters. The ISIS vehicles were destroyed, the military said in a statement, and ISIS fighters were "possibly killed."
In late September, the Dutch government said it would contribute six F-16 fighter jets as well 250 troops to join in anti-ISIS airstrikes and provide training to Iraqi as well as Kurdish troops. The F-16s would be based outside Iraq, it said then, and used against ISIS in Iraq during a phase that could last from six to 12 months, the nation's Defense Ministry said.
Other nations: State Department officials have also listed Italy, Poland, Denmark, Albania and Croatia as having provided equipment and ammunition in the fight against ISIS. New Zealand, Romania and South Korea were also named for providing humanitarian assistance, with officials noting that South Korea has given some $1.2 million.
Ahead of climate summit, French use emergency laws to put activists under house arrest
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 15:17
Ahead of climate summit, French use emergency laws to put activists under house arrest
Reuters '' STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - France has put 24 green activists under house arrest ahead of the United Nations climate talks, using emergency laws put in place following the Paris shootings, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Saturday.
Cazeneuve said the activists were suspected of planning violent protests at the talks which kick off on Sunday, a day ahead of the opening ceremony, and run until Dec. 11.
The conference, also dubbed COP21, is seeking to agree a deal that signals a break with a rising reliance on fossil fuels, blamed by a U.N. panel of scientists for causing more floods, heat waves and rising sea levels.
"These 24 people have been placed under house arrest because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency," Cazeneuve said in a speech in Strasbourg.
Following the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris in which 130 people were killed, the French government declared the state of emergency, banning public demonstrations and giving police extended powers of search and surveillance.
"These people have no connection at all with the terrorist movement, but our forces need to be totally focused on the protection of the French people," Cazeneuve said, saying any serious public disturbance would distract police from their fight against terrorism.
He did not specify how long the activists would remain under house arrest, but French media reported that they would be confined to their homes for the duration of the U.N. conference.
Greenpeace France director Jean-Fran§ois Julliard said that, to his knowledge, all the ecologists under house arrest were pacifist activists who had never committed any violent acts nor been charged with anything.
"We have the feeling that (the government) wants to stifle criticism from the militants, but they are going about it in the worst possible way, this is repression," he said on BFM television.
The interior ministry said 312 people - including the 24 green campaigners - have been put under house arrest in France since the state of emergency was declared on Nov. 14.
(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac and Geert De Clercq; editing by David Clarke/Jeremy Gaunt)
EU's Tusk: stemming migration crisis is main goal of Turkey summit
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:47
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Spain divided on joining anti-ISIS strikes: polls
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:46
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Turkey to help EU curb migration for cash, membership talks: draft
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Germany planning to deploy 1,200 troops for ISIS fight: army chief
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How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:37
The retail giant is watching.
By Susan Berfield | November 24, 2015
From
In the autumn of 2012, when Walmart first heard about the possibility of a strike on Black Friday, executives mobilized with the efficiency that had built a retail empire. Walmart has a system for almost everything: When there's an emergency or a big event, it creates a Delta team. The one formed that September included representatives from global security, labor relations, and media relations. For Walmart, the stakes were enormous. The billions in sales typical of a Walmart Black Friday were threatened. The company's public image, especially in big cities where its power and size were controversial, could be harmed. But more than all that: Any attempt to organize its 1 million hourly workers at its more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. was an existential danger. Operating free of unions was as essential to Walmart's business as its rock-bottom prices.
OUR Walmart, a group of employees backed and funded by a union, was asking for more full-time jobs with higher wages and predictable schedules. Officially they called themselves the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. Walmart publicly dismissed OUR Walmart as the insignificant creation of the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union. ''This is just another union publicity stunt, and the numbers they are talking about are grossly exaggerated,'' David Tovar, a spokesman, said on CBS Evening News that November.
Internally, however, Walmart considered the group enough of a threat that it hired an intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, staffed up its labor hotline, ranked stores by labor activity, and kept eyes on employees (and activists) prominent in the group. During that time, about 100 workers were actively involved in recruiting for OUR Walmart, but employees (or associates, as they're called at Walmart) across the company were watched; the briefest conversations were reported to the ''home office,'' as Walmart calls its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
Workers and supporters prepare to march outside a Walmart store in Milwaukee on Nov. 23, 2012.Photographer: Darren Hauck/Getty Images
The details of Walmart's efforts during the first year it confronted OUR Walmart are described in more than 1,000 pages of e-mails, reports, playbooks, charts, and graphs, as well as testimony from its head of labor relations at the time. The documents were produced in discovery ahead of a National Labor Relations Board hearing into OUR Walmart's allegations of retaliation against employees who joined protests in June 2013. The testimony was given in January 2015, during the hearing. OUR Walmart, which split from the UFCW in September, provided the documents to Bloomberg Businessweek after the judge concluded the case in mid-October. A decision may come in early 2016.
Walmart declined to comment on the specifics of the documents, citing the ongoing case. It did send a statement via e-mail: ''We are firmly committed to the safety and security of our 2.2 million associates as well as the 260 million customers we serve each week. It's important to remember that Walmart is the largest company in the world with 11,500 stores in 28 countries. Unfortunately, there are occasions when outside groups attempt to deliberately disrupt our business and on behalf of our customers and associates we take action accordingly.''
Karen Casey was in charge of Walmart's U.S. labor relations as OUR Walmart emerged. Casey, an attorney, held a similar position at Albertsons for a decade before, with one important difference: Some workers there were represented by the UFCW. In 2003 they joined other grocery employees in Southern California in a four-month strike to resist cutbacks brought on by competition from Walmart. The strike was estimated to have cost $2 billion.
Casey, along with other executives in Bentonville, first learned about OUR Walmart from managers' calls to the company's labor hotline in the fall of 2010. ''Associates were being visited at home by people dressed in khakis and blue shirts, which is the Walmart uniform,'' she told the NLRB judge. They were, she said, ''claiming to be current and former associates asking people to join this group.'' When asked about Walmart's emphasis on ''mitigating labor risks,'' she replied: ''Our real concern is about the safety of our stores and making sure our managers also respond lawfully to any labor activity that may be going on.''
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 30, 2015. Subscribe now.Illustration: 731
OUR Walmart made its claims public in June 2011, when 97 employees and their supporters arrived in Bentonville with a 12-point declaration that asked for wages and benefits sufficient to ensure that no worker would have to rely on government assistance. They also called for dependable schedules, expanded health-care coverage, and the freedom to speak up without facing retaliation. In the parking lot, they presented the document to Casey and asked to speak with her inside.
Walmart's ''open door'' policy allows, and almost always requires, employees who want to talk about workplace conditions with managers to do so individually. Casey didn't let the group in the building en masse. ''We had offered to have one-on-ones with our associates to understand their questions and concerns,'' she said at the hearing. The associates declined. ''I think the executives were just as shocked as we were'' that workers had come to Bentonville on their own, Cynthia Murray, one of the founders of OUR Walmart, told this magazine in 2012.
During October 2012, OUR Walmart members and supporters began a series of walkouts and protests across the country to increase pressure on the retailer before the holiday shopping season. The group called a National Day of Action for Oct. 10 and sent a few people to Bentonville, where Walmart executives were meeting with Wall Street analysts. Two hundred calls to the labor hotline from almost as many stores were logged around that time.
Source: Email produced in NLRB proceeding
Some calls betrayed the paranoia of beleaguered managers.
2:30 p.m., Store 5880 in Fairfax, Va.: ''A customer began talking to a cashier about the strikes at Walmart this week, and the cashier responded that maybe she should go on strike. AM [assistant manager] feels the cashier was joking when she made the comment.''
4:19 p.m., Store 3893 in Zion, Ill.: ''Three associates made comments surrounding the 'strikes' in other stores to Grocery ZMS [zone merchandising supervisor]. Grocery ZMS shared his opinion but didn't state our philosophy. He will do so the next time the associates are at work.''
The last call in the log, on Oct. 15, came from Yuma, Ariz.: ''An associate asked what would happen to associates if they walked out on Black Friday.''
Walmart was watching Colby Harris. He was a full-time employee in the produce department in Store 471 in Lancaster, Texas. He joined protests in California, picketed stores in Dallas, and showed up in Bentonville for the analysts' meeting. In November 2012, he said he had given more than 45 interviews to journalists. ''People want to hear from us,'' he said.
On Oct. 17, Casey, the labor relations executive, sent an e-mail to one of her senior staff: ''Colby Harris, what's his story?'' Casey said in her testimony that she asked about Harris because he had appeared in press accounts of the walkouts, and Walmart's media relations group asked her for information about him. She also said that Walmart tracked associates ''who may be engaged in the demonstrations and strikes to figure out who was working and who wasn't.''
The last call in the log, on Oct.'¯15, came from Yuma, Arizona: ''An associate asked what would happen to associates if they walked out on Black Friday.''
As momentum for the Black Friday protests was building, the Delta team raced to respond. The Black Friday Labor Relations Team Daily Meeting had its own acronym: the BFLRTDM. An e-mail on Oct. 24 from a member of the labor relations team to four executives had the subject line: ''Blitz Planning (Re-visited due to new information).'' The document they updated'--the Labor Relations Blitz/Black Friday 2012 Plan'--noted some of the latest tactics they expected from OUR Walmart: ''work stoppages, mic checks, 1 post of a human chain, social media calls for boycotts and Sponsor a Striker for Black Friday food card program.'' It also included this request to Walmart's Analytical Research Center: ''When does Lockheed provide more analysts?''
The Analytical Research Center, or ARC, is part of Walmart's global security division. Ken Senser, a former FBI officer, oversees the entire group. The executive responsible for ARC was Steve Dozier, according to Casey's testimony. He was director of the Arkansas State Police before he joined Walmart in 2007. ''When we received word of potential strikes and disruptive activity on Black Friday 2012, that's when we started to ask the ARC to work with us,'' Casey said during her testimony. ''ARC had contracted with Lockheed leading up to Black Friday to help source open social media sites.''
Lockheed Martin is one of the biggest defense contractors in the world. Although it's best known for making fighter jets and missile systems, it also has an information technology division that offers cybersecurity and data analytics services. Tucked into that is a little-known operation called LM Wisdom, which has been around since 2011. LM Wisdom is described on Lockheed's website as a tool ''that monitors and analyzes rapidly changing open source intelligence data'‰'...'‰[that] has the power to incite organized movements, riots and sway political outcomes.'' A brochure depicts yellow tape with ''crime scene'' on it, an armored SWAT truck, and a word cloud with ''MAFIA'' in huge type.
Neither Walmart nor Lockheed would comment on their contract in 2012 and 2013, or talk specifically about Wisdom. The only mention of Wisdom in the documents Bloomberg Businessweek reviewed comes in a question during the NLRB hearing to Casey, who was asked if she had heard of Wisdom. She said she hadn't.
Source: Email produced in NLRB proceeding
Christian Blandford, a Lockheed analyst, was monitoring the social media of activists in Bentonville for Walmart's 2013 shareholder meeting. He sent his updates to Walmart and copied Mike Baylor, who's named as a project manager on Lockheed's Wisdom website. On June 4, at 6:30 p.m., Blandford sent this update about the artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez to seven Walmart and five Lockheed managers: ''Favianna tweeted that OUR Walmart is preparing for action 'walmart headquarters.' Tweet is 9 minutes old as of this e-mail.''
Two hours later, Blandford wrote that Angela Williamson, who was fired by Walmart in 2012 and subsequently hired by OUR Walmart, ''tweeted a rhetorical question towards Walmart in which she asks, 'Whats on my agenda tomorrow?''‰''
Companies have always kept an eye on their workers. ''Everybody from General Motors to the Pacific Railroad had clippings files,'' says Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian. ''It's more sophisticated and efficient now, but it's the same thing.'' Companies can't legally put in place rules'--or surveillance'--that apply only to labor activists. But they can restrict solicitation during work hours or in customer areas and keep security cameras throughout. And they can set up systems for managers to report concerns of any kind to headquarters. Employers can send people to open meetings or rallies or demonstrations. But there's little labor law regarding companies' monitoring of their employees' own social media accounts. ''It's a tricky issue when you are doing something so openly,'' says Wilma Liebman, who was head of the NLRB from 2009 to 2011. Casey said in her testimony that to her knowledge, Walmart doesn't monitor individual workers' Twitter accounts. While most of the OUR Walmart activists being watched expected to be, none thought it would be by a company like Lockheed Martin. ''We're artists, not ISIS,'' Rodriguez says.
Walmart has been opposed to unions since Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. As he put it in his autobiography, Sam Walton: Made in America: ''Theoretically I understand the argument that unions try to make, that the associates need someone to represent them and so on. But historically, as unions have developed in this country, they have mostly just been divisive.'' When the Retail Clerks International Union tried to organize employees at two stores in Missouri in 1970, Walton hired John Tate, a union-busting lawyer, to oversee labor relations. Tate often called unions ''bloodsucking parasites,'' according to ABC News.
At 2357, in Germantown, Maryland, an individual was reported yelling out, ''This is just Day One. We're never leaving.''
The UFCW has started several campaigns aimed at Walmart. In 1999 it focused on the meat departments at 300 Walmart supercenters. Butchers in a store in Jacksonville, Texas, voted'--a mere 7 to 3'--to join the union in 2000. Two weeks later, Walmart closed its 180 meat counters and switched to prepackaged cuts, saying it would offer meat cutters other jobs in its stores. ''Our decision to expand case-ready meat has nothing to do with what went on in Jacksonville,'' Jessica Moser, a spokeswoman, told the Associated Press.
Training videos, executive memos, and various other anti-union materials have been leaked over the years by groups hoping to embarrass Walmart. A 49-page document from 1997, A Manager's Toolbox to Remaining Union-Free, begins: ''As a member of Walmart's management team, you are our first line of defense against unionization.'' Based on the documents from the ongoing case, many of the tools in the toolbox remain in use. The 1997 guide instructs managers to remain alert for signs of low morale or organizing among their employees. They're supposed to address the causes of low morale and report the organizing to the Bentonville hotline.
The labor relations team uses information from the hotline and social media monitoring to determine which stores are most at risk of labor unrest. These are dubbed Priority 1 stores, in need of extra training for managers and extra information sessions for employees. Several OUR Walmart members have described Bentonville executives arriving suddenly in their stores with scripts in hand. In one video that was shown to new employees until last year, an actress playing an associate says: ''The truth is unions are businesses, multimillion-dollar businesses that make their money by convincing people like you and me to give them a part of our paychecks.''
Walmart's aim isn't only to watch 100 or so active members of OUR Walmart, says Kate Bronfenbrenner, a lecturer at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. ''They are looking for the thousands who are supportive so they can intimidate them.'' Walmart declined to comment on her statement. Casey, in her testimony, repeatedly stated that Walmart doesn't retaliate against protesting workers. She described training managers in what Walmart calls TIPS and FOES: Managers cannot Threaten, Interrogate, Promise, or Spy. They can talk about Facts, Opinions, and Experiences.
People take part in a protest for better wages outside a Walmart in Los Angeles on Nov. 7, 2013.Photographer: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
''This is significant,'' Casey wrote in an e-mail to her field managers on Sunday morning, Nov. 18, 2012, five days before Black Friday. Casey was referring to intelligence that a manager at Store 5434 in San Leandro, Calif., had turned up. ''They [the protesters] will be going to my store at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23,'' the manager wrote. ''They will be in Walmart dress code and wearing yellow vests directing traffic in the parking lot.''
A human resources manager for the San Francisco East Bay area offered a suggestion: Have the workers at all the ''priority'' stores in the area wear vests in a color other than yellow. That would allow management to identify OUR Walmart activists.
A few days later, an executive summary of the expected OUR Walmart activity reported 42 stores with ''a high likelihood of activity'' and 132 with ''potential activity.'' The number of workers projected to walk out or call in sick ranged from 376 to 492.
By Friday, Nov. 23, OUR Walmart strikers had been identified, members of the Bentonville labor relations team had been sent to Priority 1 stores, all managers had instructions on how to report protests, the hotline was fully staffed, and lawyers were standing by. As workers, activists, journalists, and shoppers arrived at Walmarts around the country early Friday morning, the labor hotline lit up with reports such as:
Store 2596 in Mount Vernon, Wash.: ''100 demonstrators on the parking lot and on entrances, have asked them to leave. Police will not ask to leave without a court order, 10 at each of the 3 doors, Sargeant [sic] is to call back when he arrives on site.''
Store 2479, in San Diego, had 35 protesters blocking front doors. At 4383, in Dearborn, Mich., 100 protesters mobbed the electronics department. At 3589, in Salt Lake City, balloons with slogans were released in the store. At 2357, in Germantown, Md., an individual was reported yelling out, ''This is just Day One. We're never leaving.''
Source: Email produced in NLRB proceeding
Walmart's first public statement went out as the day was getting under way, proclaiming ''the best Black Friday ever.'' Later, spokesman Tovar, who has since left the company, issued another statement: ''We had our best Black Friday ever and OUR Walmart was unable to recruit more than a small number of associates to participate in these made for TV events.''
The company never did quantify what it meant by ''best,'' though it did announce that since that Thanksgiving evening, Walmart had sold 1.8 million towels and 1.3 million televisions. Internally, Walmart tallied the labor unrest during the 10 days around Black Friday. The labor relations team reported ''a record-breaking'' 1,600 hotline calls from 977 stores; 250 locations reported protests of some kind. On Black Friday itself, there were 372 hotline calls from stores with ''activity.''
In testimony, Casey said Walmart counted about 100 workers who had gone on strike on Black Friday. OUR Walmart maintains that about 400 Walmart employees went on strike and that they or their supporters took action at almost 1,200 stores around the country.
Walmart filed an unfair labor practice allegation against the UFCW in November 2012, contending that the one-day walkouts weren't legally protected. In January 2013, the UFCW and OUR Walmart agreed to refrain from picketing or similar ''confrontational conduct'' for 60 days. Afterward, the NLRB closed the case. Walmart also won seven statewide court injunctions preventing the UFCW and anyone else who wasn't an employee from protesting on Walmart property. In a Maryland case, the judge wrote of the protesters, ''the bullying tactics and the lawlessness'‰'...'‰that the evidence clearly established in this case, is not okay under the law no matter what their cause is.''
In mid-April 2013, Walmart executives began hearing about plans for ''Ride for Respect,'' a bus caravan that would arrive in Bentonville during the weeklong annual shareholder meeting in June. About 14,000 people'--hand-picked associates, managers, shareholders, investors, the Walton family'--would be in town. Elton John was performing. It was a time of particularly uncomfortable scrutiny for Walmart. A Bangladesh factory, where Walmart garments were produced, had collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers. Walmart denied knowing its work had been subcontracted there. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into potential bribery in Mexico was under way; Walmart said it was cooperating fully.
A Delta team began operations. When global security heard that members of the Occupy movement might join the protests at corporate headquarters, they began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The documents from the NLRB hearing don't provide any details about the collaboration or indicate whether it was unusual for Walmart to bring in the FBI. The bureau had worked with local police forces across the country as they dealt with Occupy protesters.
''With some assistance from LM [Lockheed Martin] we have created the attached map to track the caravan movements and approximate participants,'' Kris Russell, a risk program senior manager, wrote to colleagues on May 30. The map showed the predicted routes for five buses. By then, 96 associates had announced their intent to strike. Another 115 ''uninvited guests'' were expected in Bentonville. Forty-five or so probable demonstrations around the country had been identified.
Source: Email produced in NLRB proceeding
One of the uninvited guests was Patrick Foote, an activist from Florida. He chronicled the trip to Bentonville on his blog; Walmart and Lockheed social media analysts were avid readers. He and others tried to get into the original Walton 5 & 10, now a museum in the old town square. When protesters arrived there, associates brought in for the shareholder meeting were enjoying a company party. Foote wrote that the associates were quickly ushered into buses and driven away. Then staff closed down the museum. Foote wrote of Walmart's preparations: ''As an organizer, I have to give them props. It was impressive.''
Williamson, the former Walmart associate who became an OUR Walmart organizer, knew she was being monitored in Bentonville. ''I sent a couple of fake tweets about where we would be or what we were doing. I don't know if it worked,'' she says. ''I wonder how people feel about Walmart wasting money by hiring Lockheed Martin to read my tweets. I wouldn't be happy about that if I was a shareholder.''
In the weeks after the Ride for Respect, Walmart disciplined about 70 associates who had been part of the caravan or protests, including almost 20 whom it fired, according to OUR Walmart. The company said it was enforcing its attendance policy and not illegally targeting strikers. OUR Walmart alleged retaliation. This case, for which these documents were collected, was taken up by the NLRB in January 2014.
The Black Friday Delta team had become more efficient by the autumn of 2013. Its alerts were more frequent; its training and coaching began earlier. Executives were given a summary of all the protests since 2011, store by store, with some associates' names included. Store managers and others received a Black Friday guide called the playbook, which had included information about everything from Walmart's ''one-hour guarantee'' to ''incident procedures.'' It noted that the global security team and labor relations were monitoring open source social media to alert and prepare stores where demonstrations were expected, and instructed employees ''to report any suspected and/or actual activity.''
Groups supporting Walmart workers protest working conditions at the company in front of a Walmart Superstore in Secaucus, N.J., on Nov. 23, 2012.Photographer: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
On Oct. 4, Casey sent out a request for ''Home Office First Responders.'' She asked that managers from human resources volunteer for hotline shifts during the week leading up to Black Friday. Three days later, an alert from a risk manager in the Global Security Analytic Service (what used to be ARC) noted a Facebook post from a student group in Kentucky that mentioned Black Friday protests. ''Could this be the first confirmed BF action?'' he asks. In an e-mail on Nov. 4, Casey wrote, ''While we're excited.'‰'...'‰So are our opponents. We expect similar activity to last year.''
Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, was a day of strikes and counterstrikes. Bill Simon, then president of Walmart U.S., sent out a statement just after 6 a.m.: ''Our Black Friday events were bigger, better, faster, cheaper, and safer than ever.'' At noon, OUR Walmart held a conference call. ''These protests are a powerful escalation by workers and community supporters who refuse to live in fear, who are sick and tired of Walmart's empty promises and PR lies,'' said Martha Sellers, an employee in California. Later that afternoon, Walmart released a graphic about its employee wages and benefits.
A two-page Walmart executive summary prepared after that Black Friday noted that picketing occurred at 203 stores, compared with 214 the previous year; flash mobs were down from 76 to 10; instances of people distributing literature declined from 131 to 96. The document highlighted its conclusion that only 20 associates participated in strikes, compared with 118 in 2012.
OUR Walmart said it had carried out nine civil disobedience demonstrations across the country, with about 100 people arrested, and some 1,500 protests.
Since the first strikes in 2012, unfair labor practice allegations have been filed against Walmart on behalf of some 200 workers connected to OUR Walmart, according to the group. The company denies wrongdoing. The labor board prosecutor dismissed some of the allegations and is pursuing others, including the retaliation case from which these documents were obtained.
Among those disciplined was the outspoken Harris, who was fired in September 2013 and now works for the UFCW. Murray, one of the group's founders, remains employed at Walmart, making $13.59 an hour. Casey is now the senior vice president for human resources at Walmart's logistics division. And Lockheed Martin has announced that its commercial cyber unit, which includes Wisdom, is ''under strategic review.''
OUR Walmart takes credit for some successes. After Doug McMillon took over as the company's chief executive officer in February 2014, he raised the starting wage to $9 an hour; it increases to $10 an hour in 2016. Walmart has introduced a scheduling policy designed to allow employees to work more hours and have more predictable schedules. The changes come amid a nationwide push for higher wages and better working conditions for hourly employees. Fast-food workers have been demonstrating in favor of minimum pay of $15 an hour, and several cities have raised the minimum wage on their own. OUR Walmart helped spark, and in turn was fed by, the movement.
A mock Thanksgiving Day dinner table is set with photos of Walmart workers who, according to protest organizers, had to work on Thanksgiving, during a demonstration outside a Walmart in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.Photographer: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Walmart doesn't acknowledge OUR Walmart's influence. ''The unions who spend a lot of time attacking Walmart make a lot of false claims, but the reality is that Walmart makes decisions based on the best interests of our company, our associates and our customers,'' Brian Nick, a spokesman, said via e-mail. ''We're proud of the wages and benefits package we offer. Our average full-time hourly associate earns more than $13 an hour in addition to the opportunity for quarterly cash bonuses, matching 401(k) as well as health-care benefits. Walmart is investing $2.7 billion over this year and next in wages, education, and training for our associates because we know they make the difference.''
This year, instead of striking, OUR Walmart is staging a 15-day fast leading up to Black Friday. Workers want to wait until the NLRB ruling before walking off the job again, Murray says. The hunger strike is in support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage and to highlight the problems some Walmart workers have feeding their families, she says, adding that some 1,400 people are participating in the fast as they see fit and about 200 of those are former and current employees. Murray is one of them.
On Black Friday there will be demonstrations around the country, organized by groups connected to OUR Walmart and joined by employees who had already taken the day off or aren't scheduled to work. Murray will be at a protest in Washington, D.C. ''I do believe that since we've been speaking up, Walmart has had to take a hard look at themselves,'' she says. ''We're not going away.''
'--With Josh Eidelson
Ask Randall: Climate Change - Who Are The Real Deniers?
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:29
Download PDFEditors note: The following is Randall Carlson's definitive response to an affected attempt to label him as a ''climate change denier.'' Randall is of course more than happy to debate anyone from the pro IPCC global warming alarmist camp, brave enough to engage him in an open forum. Truly the debate is not over'... but just beginning. Interested climate scientists or other related experts are welcome to contact us via our contact page and please use ''Climate Change Debate'' in the subject line.
Via Randall Carlson's facebook page
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From Jesse Skidmore to Randall Carlson:
Sorry to bring this up twice but I was anxious to hear what you would think of this.A giant corporation lied about science and got caught. By their own employees. Burn.
From Randall to Jesse Skidmore:
Hey Jesse. Been on overload the last couple of weeks and have only looked into this superficially. What first struck me is that their work relied on computer models and were exploring worst case scenarios. Given that current computer models have failed to accurately represent what is occurring now, particularly in terms of the divergence between projections and actual global temperatures, the computer models from the 70s and 80s must have been notoriously inept at producing realistic projections of the future. I think that at least some of the scientists involved in this realized that there were too many variables to determine precisely the role of CO2 to any high level of confidence. What I see here is too typical of the fear mongers who are trying to paint a picture of some vast conspiracy to ''deny'' science, when what they mean by ''science'' is big government funded, officially sanctioned science that was created in pursuit of an agenda that does not allow dissent or alternate points of view. The United Nations Framework convention on Climate Change is pretty unambiguous in its mandate to the I.P.C.C. to make the case for anthropogenic climate change to the exclusion of all other factors. And given that congressional investigations have revealed that Exxon contributed only around $30 million to various groups over a decade, only some of which had anything to do with climate change, and this was the supposed primary source of funding for the nefarious ''astroturf'' groups that, it is claimed, are misleading the poor gullible public, I would suggest that one consider the billions, yes billions, that the global warming zealots have received in one form or another in the same time period. There is a lot more I could say but due to constraints of time and space that will have to wait for now. I will only say that the treatment of this ''disclosure'' by the pro-warming factions is a prime example of propaganda in the service of an agenda rather than an attempt to understand the reality of the situation.
From Art Gibert to Randall.
Randall, I'm quite shocked at what I see here. Not the further accumulation of evidence that the fossil fuel industry has long been aware of and funding denial of anthropogenically-caused global warming, as this has long been obvious to anyone who understands the fundamentals of climate and the simple notion of gases trapping heat in the atmosphere, along with the simple fact that money corrupts. How could it not, as you once said to me. No, what's astonishing is your denial of this wealth of science and evidence of both climate change and corporate malfeasance in favor of a conspiracy theory on the part of government rather than by the mega-corporations whose monetary incentive combined with their corporate muscle simply cannot logically be denied. Boiled down to the essential analysis, your convoluted reasoning here does not withstand comparison to the available facts and information- though you may simply deny them- in short, you're wrong about this. That said, I don't dismiss the concept of government conspiracies in multiple other areas of society.
Response to Art Gibert
Art, at the outset of a discussion of this important issue I would request of you to provide the evidence for fossil fuel industry malfeasance of which you speak. You say ''further accumulation of evidence that the fossil fuel industry has long been aware of and funding denial etc.'' I would be interested if you could supply details '' specifically the money trail and where it leads, which scientists received payoffs and most importantly some examples of fraudulent science funded by this money. You say that this is obvious to anyone who understands the fundamentals of climate change. Really? The potential of CO2 to influence the climate has been recognized long before Exxon funded some research in the 1980s, going all the way back to Svante Arrhenius in the late 19th century. (See On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground, The Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, April 1896, p. 237) I notice that you couldn't help throwing in the word ''deny,'' as if I am denying some facts and information which you apparently presume I haven't considered.
Having now gone through the supposed scandalous documents purporting to prove Exxon's disreputable behavior I find virtually nothing of substance. I will repeat: they funded several in-house computer studies to try and predict the long term influence of CO2 on the climate and realized what many, many scientists outside of the IPCC have realized (and not a few inside) '' that the climate system is chaotic and not amenable to simple single parameter computer projections, not now and certainly not in the 1980s. They acknowledged that there could be consequences to the unrestrained addition of CO2 to the global atmosphere, but at the same time were confronted with the enormous complexities of integrating multiple factors that could drastically alter the outcome of their models.
Your entire response to my comments is a statement of opinions. I would like to see some hard facts. I do completely agree that money has the potential to corrupt. So if Exxon's paltry $30 million or so has corrupted climate change science how about the $7 billion+ assets raised by Generation Investment Management, which stands to profit handsomely from global warming remediation schemes such as Cap and Trade?
Your entire response to my comments is a statement of opinions. I would like to see some hard facts. I do completely agree that money has the potential to corrupt. So if Exxon's paltry $30 million or so has corrupted climate change science how about the $7 billion+ assets raised by Generation Investment Management, which stands to profit handsomely from global warming remediation schemes such as Cap and Trade? How about the $300 million pledged by Google to SolarCity, one of GIM's investments, in late Feb. of this year? How about Tom Steyer's nearly $100 million to NextGen Climate, an unabashedly pro global warming group? How about the US government's yearly subsidies of $2.5 billion to the Global Change Research Program, a giant pro warming bureaucracy? To dispel any doubt as to what their position is here is a quote from the intro to their National Climate Assessment (NCA) report: ''Global climate is changing. Most of the warming of the past half-century is due to human activities. Some types of extreme weather are increasing, ice is melting on land and sea, and sea level is rising.'' It then goes on to describe a litany of all the ills that are going to befall us if we don't turn over the control of all energy production, distribution and consumption to the government. The above list barely scratches the surface of the vast complex of vested interests that stand to gain through implementation of carbon remediation measures. I have not even touched upon the billions that flow to various environmental groups that promote global warming hysteria. I'll get back to that.
It then goes on to describe a litany of all the ills that are going to befall us if we don't turn over the control of all energy production, distribution and consumption to the government. The above list barely scratches the surface of the vast complex of vested interests that stand to gain through implementation of carbon remediation measures.
Several dates ranging over 400 years may indicate the beginning of the Little Ice Age: 1250 for when Atlantic pack ice began to grow 1275 to 1300 based on radiocarbon dating of plants killed by glaciation 1300 for when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe 1315 for the rains and Great Famine of 1315''1317 1550 for theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion 1650 for the first climatic minimum.
The first sentence in the above NCA quote is absolutely true. Of course the global climate is changing! From your statements I would assume that you believe you have a degree of climate science education. So tell me, when has the global climate not been changing? What actual empirical evidence, independent of adjusted computer models, is there that most of the warming of the last century is due to human activities when the global climate actually began warming at the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-19th century, nearly a century before significant introduction of fossil fuel derived CO2 to the atmosphere?
Glaciers began receding worldwide in the early to mid-19th century after having grown to their greatest extent in 10 thousand years during the Little Ice Age. Throughout the second half of the 20th century they continued doing what they had been doing for at least a century, shrinking back from their LIA maximum. Of course, you must know this.
Right?
What types of extreme weather are increasing? I would challenge you to show some examples. Hurricanes? Not hardly. Floods? Not any more than has been normal throughout the centuries. Drought? We have not seen anything like some of the well-documented droughts that have occurred around this planet for thousands of years, long before we humans were driving SUVs.
To this date half of all US states, that is 25 of the 50, have all-time high temperature records which were set in the 1930s and have not been exceeded since. The last high temperature record set in any US state was in Connecticut in 1995. Since 1975 only 6 other states have seen high temperature records broken. This data is directly from the National Weather Service and has been spared the endless ''adjusting'' such as the IPCC performs on the raw HadCRUT data in order to proclaim ''the hottest year on record'' (by not much more than a hundredth of a degree)'' a record, I might add, that is barely over a century old, and appallingly incomplete. The statement in the NCA report that ''Most of the warming of the past half-century is due to human activities'' is duplicitous. This conclusion is derived from computer models that are programmed only to factor in anthropogenic effects, specifically CO2, to the exclusion of other possible variables, including the Sun '' computer models designed to confirm the pre-ordained conclusion that humans are causing irreparable and disastrous global warming, oh, excuse me, ''climate change.''
Are we seriously supposed to believe that complicated natural variables that have driven extreme climate change over and over again, long before a significant anthropogenic influence, have suddenly, in the 20th century ceased to operate? Is sea level rising? Well, yes it has risen roughly 8 inches during the past century. This is about the same as the century before. It rose nearly 400 feet at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition ca 12 thousand years ago and has been fluctuating up and down ever since. Not infrequently it has stood many feet higher than present. Are we to assume that sea level would never change absent an anthropogenic influence?
Is sea level rising? Well, yes it has risen roughly 8 inches during the past century. This is about the same as the century before. It rose nearly 400 feet at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition ca 12 thousand years ago and has been fluctuating up and down ever since.
Now let me state for the record: It is my belief that humans ARE influencing the climate in multiple ways, not only through introduction of CO2 into the atmosphere but through deforestation, agricultural and industrial activities, and expansion of urban areas. But here is the undeniable fact: the climate of this planet has changed profoundly, dramatically, even catastrophically and has done so repeatedly, on any scale that we care to measure, and it has done so without any help from humans. Don't call me a climate change ''denier'' or even imply the same because that will be a complete mischaracterization of my position on the matter. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the climate changes. In fact, it is my opinion that the real climate change deniers or ''denialists'' or whatever the hell you want to call them are those who refuse to look at the palaeoclimatological record of natural variability, and choose instead to believe that a slight increase in an atmospheric trace gas portends our doom.
But here is the undeniable fact: the climate of this planet has changed profoundly, dramatically, even catastrophically and has done so repeatedly, on any scale that we care to measure, and it has done so without any help from humans. Don't call me a climate change ''denier'' or even imply the same because that will be a complete mischaracterization of my position on the matter. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the climate changes. In fact, it is my opinion that the real climate change deniers or ''denialists'' or whatever the hell you want to call them are those who refuse to look at the palaeoclimatological record of natural variability, and choose instead to believe that a slight increase in an atmospheric trace gas portends our doom.
Here is something to ponder. Carbon Dioxide comprises .0004 of the total atmospheric composition. The natural contribution to the total ambient atmospheric CO2 is 250 times greater than the human contribution, about 750 gigatons naturally compared to 3 gigatons of anthropogenically sourced CO2 residing in the atmosphere at any given time. So, the human contribution to total atmospheric CO2 is .004, which means that anthropogenic sourced C02 comprises only 4 one thousandths part of 4 ten thousandth part, or 0.0000016 part of total atmospheric composition, that is 16 parts out of 10 million. This is what is known as a TRACE GAS, a gas, which, by the way, is absolutely essential to all life on Earth. A gas which has now been declared a ''pollutant'' by the EPA for purposes of regulatory control.
To prevent this miniscule change in atmospheric composition we are supposed to basically shut down modern civilization? Impose energy rationing? Bring every aspect of our individual and social life under the control and scrutiny of some new, bloated, government carbon dioxide bureaucracy? There is no way that the declared goals of CO2 mitigation would not require energy rationing. We absolutely need more open discussion and debate about the social and economic consequences of carbon mitigation policies being proposed, not less, and let all sides be heard.
To prevent this miniscule change in atmospheric composition we are supposed to basically shut down modern civilization? Impose energy rationing? Bring every aspect of our individual and social life under the control and scrutiny of some new, bloated, government carbon dioxide bureaucracy? There is no way that the declared goals of CO2 mitigation would not require energy rationing. We absolutely need more open discussion and debate about the social and economic consequences of carbon mitigation policies being proposed, not less, and let all sides be heard.
I welcome Exxon's contribution, just as I welcome any and all intelligent contributions to the discussion, including energy companies, environmentalists, private sector and independent scholars and scientists, as well as scientists on the payroll, directly or indirectly, of the government. The thing I absolutely oppose is that a big-government funded climate change bureaucracy should be the sole source of information, which is certainly what the proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming seem to want, at least to the extent that they believe it serves their agenda.
Here is how the strategy works: Science and scientists are appropriated to the service of the all-powerful state; exclusive organizations are formed and charged with a predetermined mandate; enormous sums are spent on propaganda while posturing as an objective entity disinterested in outcomes; all independent or dissenting voices are stifled or marginalized through a campaign of intimidation, ad hominem attacks, smear campaigns, character assassinations, name calling and through guilt by association with some disreputable group such as tobacco corporation CEOs, as if that is anything at all remotely relevant to the science of climate change. To implement this tactic set up a network of front groups, and websites such as Skepticalscience, Realclimate, DeSmog Blog, while accusing anyone who questions the legitimacy of the science, or of the process, of doing what the pro warming factions are themselves doing. Of course tactics like these are not intended to foster real debate or deeper understanding of the actual science of climate change but instead to limit discussion to the exclusion of all but the officially sanctioned point of view. The belief is promoted that all private sector research is tainted by self-interest and can therefore be ignored while government funded science is impeccable and only scientists on the government payroll, or with approved or affiliated organizations are ''real scientists.''
We should be encouraging all points of view but the whole climate change non-debate has been about the establishment of a government monopoly on the flow of information.It seems consistent with most, if not all, government programs and policies that the politicians only look at the projected benefits and ignore the long-term costs of their rules and regulations, since the political/governmental sector exempts itself from the natural checks and balances that operate in the private sector '' no one is ever held accountable for the failures of government. But that is another discussion.
If the government gets out of the way carbon mitigation will come about naturally. Green roofs, rainwater harvesting, urban agriculture, mixed use development that allows people to walk to work, rooftop solar collectors, and more, are all things that the free market will provide if governments would just get out of the way and stop squandering 4+ trillion dollars' of the wealth and resources of America every year, wealth, which if returned to the people, would go towards all of these things, and more.
If the government gets out of the way carbon mitigation will come about naturally. Green roofs, rainwater harvesting, urban agriculture, mixed use development that allows people to walk to work, rooftop solar collectors, and more, are all things that the free market will provide if governments would just get out of the way and stop squandering 4+ trillion dollars' of the wealth and resources of America every year, wealth, which if returned to the people, would go towards all of these things, and more.
We need to make our buildings more energy efficient, absolutely. However, government policy has so distorted the housing market that it has put severe constraints on the ability of builders, architects and developers to provide the growing demand for energy efficient housing. Zoning, licensing and permitting regulations have pushed up the cost of building by at least 15% of construction costs without any commensurate gain or overall improvement in energy efficiency, instead, merely adding to the burden of administrative and regulatory costs, which further inhibits the implementation of strategies and technologies that would actually reduce the carbon footprint of our residential infrastructure. Hopefully this is starting to change, but, as a builder I can testify to the enormous amount of red tape and regulatory hurdles people encounter when attempting to go ''green.'' We can save discussion of the horrendously wasteful and inefficient government managed and run transportation system for another day.
We don't need special tax breaks or government subsidies to encourage people to install insulation or weather stripping in their homes and businesses, or install energy efficient windows, or rooftop solar collectors. Just let people keep the income they earn and they will do all of these things when they realize the gain that can accrue. It may begin with those who have a moral commitment to the environment but will spread to others when the economic benefits of reduced reliance on centralized energy distribution are realized. But who is going to put a solar collector on their roof when they can barely pay their mortgage? Or when local zoning regulations prohibit it? Of course those on the receiving end of government payoffs, subsidies, and hand-outs aren't going to like the idea of people keeping their earnings at all. The overreach of government is exemplified in this story of zoning officials turning people into criminals for trying to get off the grid. Sadly, this is becoming too typical.
''Costilla County, CO '-- Across the U.S., local zoning officials are making it increasingly difficult for people to go off the grid, in some instances threatening people with jail time for collecting rainwater or not hooking into local utilities.
As zoning laws have increasingly targeted the off-grid lifestyle, many have moved to the Southwestern U.S. as an escape from overzealous zoning officials.In Costilla County, Colorado, there has been a major influx of off-grid residents to the San Luis Valley. The combination of lax zoning regulations, cheap property, and an already thriving community of self-reliant off-grid homesteaders has led to many new residents.The off-grid lifestyle, enjoyed by an estimated 800 people, is now being threatened as county officials have recently made moves to essentially regulate and license the lifestyle into oblivion.
Tensions boiled over during a county commissioners' meeting in San Louis, Colorado, devolving into a shouting match between homesteaders and police. One of the major points of contention is the county's attempt to ban camping on your own property, in an effort to force the off-grid homesteaders back onto the grid.''
We will continue to see these kinds of oppressive tactics more and more frequently until people reassert their independence and self-reliance, and stop falling for government manufactured scams.There are indeed pressing environmental issues. We need to develop more effective means of minimizing the flow of both synthetic and biological wastes into the oceans. We absolutely must come up with strategies for minimizing or eliminating the 8 million tons of plastic trash ending up in the oceans each year. This is a global problem and cleaning up the oceans of this massive amount of accumulating trash is a far more pressing environmental problem than carbon dioxide. Particulate emissions in developing countries is a growing global problem, which, if not addressed, could soon be affecting the quality of life of Americans, since air-borne particulates don't recognize national boundaries. Almost 800 million people worldwide don't have access to clean drinking water. Two and a half billion people don't have hygienic toilet facilities. Improvements in global sanitation have stagnated for the past decade while inadequate sewage disposal leading to water-borne illnesses are killing an estimated 760,000 children under the age of 5 every year. These are real, observable problems that don't require elaborate, byzantine computer programs for their recognition.
The pipeline of lies coming from Washington is running at full capacity. And this includes the lies about global warming and climate change, while those telling these lies accuse anyone who expresses an alternate opinion, whatsoever, of doing exactly what they are, in fact and in reality, doing themselves.
Meanwhile the US war machine marches on, causing truly massive amounts of environmental and human destruction around the world, toppling governments, destabilizing and uprooting whole societies, squandering over a trillion dollars of resources every year in the vain pursuit of global hegemony and compromising our true national security in the process. Meanwhile the neoliberal, environmentalist left obsesses over an utterly miniscule change in atmospheric composition. The pipeline of lies coming from Washington is running at full capacity. And this includes the lies about global warming and climate change, while those telling these lies accuse anyone who expresses an alternate opinion, whatsoever, of doing exactly what they are, in fact and in reality, doing themselves.Meanwhile the US war machine marches on, causing truly massive amounts of environmental and human destruction around the world, toppling governments, destabilizing and uprooting whole societies, squandering over a trillion dollars of resources every year in the vain pursuit of global hegemony and compromising our true national security in the process. Meanwhile the neoliberal, environmentalist left obsesses over an utterly miniscule change in atmospheric composition. The pipeline of lies coming from Washington is running at full capacity. And this includes the lies about global warming and climate change, while those telling these lies accuse anyone who expresses an alternate opinion, whatsoever, of doing exactly what they are, in fact and in reality, doing themselves.
Do I exaggerate?
How about big, fat lie number 1: There is a 97% or 97.5% or 99% or whatever, consensus among scientists about the causes and consequences of global warming, or excuse me again, climate change, or excuse me again, ''climate disruption''. I really hope somebody challenges me on this one.
How about big, fat lie number 2: All voices that disagree with the government manufactured consensus are part of an insidious ''denial machine'' secretly funded by fossil fuel industry supplied ''dark money.''
How about big, fat lie number 3: Weather and environmental events such as storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, etc. are more extreme and more numerous than they were before fossil fuel consumption.
How about big, fat lie number 4: Enactment of even more rules and regulations coming out of Washington is going ''stop climate change.'' This lie would be laughable if the consequences of it weren't so depressing.
Blind belief in these lies on the part of millions of people testifies to the epidemic of gullibility and scientific illiteracy infecting our country that can only be the result of the government's de facto monopoly of education, which now exists primarily, in the words of John Taylor Gatto, ''to dumb us down,'' spoon feeding students with an insipid and intellectually debilitating pabulum of propaganda whose main purpose is to circumvent the development of critical thinking skills, ultimately to further the passive submission of once proud and independent Americans to government designated ''authorities.''
You stated, in response to my comments, that ''Boiled down to the essential analysis, your convoluted reasoning here does not withstand comparison to the available facts and information- though you may simply deny them- in short, you're wrong about this.''
Okay Art, tell me, and anyone else reading this, just what are the available facts and information that I am ''denying.'' Spell out this essential analysis that you have boiled down. If you accuse me of ''convoluted reasoning'' I hope you are prepared to back up that accusation with something other than the usual talking points propagated by global warming advocates and mainstream media.
It is too bad that the term ''denial'' has become such a weasel word, invoked whenever a global warming proponent attempts to avoid any real debate. But what does this name calling say about the intellectual integrity these modern pharisees? Before concluding this humble homily, I think it would be valuable to look a little closer at some of these claims about big, bad Exxon. In 2006 the new chairman and CEO of ExxonMobile, Rex Tillerson, received a letter co-signed by Olympia Snowe, Republican senator from Maine, and John D. Rockefeller IV, Democratic senator from West Virginia. It was cosigned by a number of government, corporate and academic luminaries including several former officials of Exxon.
Among these co-signers wereWalter V. Shipley, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chase Manhattan Bank and its predecessor Chemical Bank, at the time in the process of acquiring ClimateCare, a U.K. based company poised to exploit the carbon offset market.Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman of IBM, at the time engaged in a collaboration with Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., Ltd. (TOK) to invest heavily in solar energy products based on Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide solar cell modules. Clearly the bottom line of these investments stood to be directly affected by the outcome of the climate change debate.James R. Houghton: Former Chairman of the board and CEO of Corning Incorporated. Corning Incorporated was, at the time, in the pipeline for a $30 million tax credit under the auspices of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, to develop government approved green energy technologies.William R. Howell, at the time serving both as director of Pfizer Pharmaceutical and Lead director of the Halliburton Company. Enough said.William W. George: CEO of Medtronic, on the board of directors of both ExxonMobile and Goldman Sachs and formerly senior executive with Litton Industries, a large defense contractor then in the process of being acquired by Northrup Grumman Corporation. Goldman Sachs was at the time engaged in acquiring the portfolios of, or investing in, several carbon offset companies including E+Co, Bluesource and APX, the corporate developer of the Renewable Energy Credit Registry. Again, companies whose bottom line would be directly affected by the outcome of carbon dioxide regulation schemes.And so it goes.
Now I am not trying to spin some grand conspiratorial scenarios here. What I am saying though, while not judging the good intentions of any of these co-signers, is that they cannot be looked upon as disinterested parties to the climate change discussion. All of them are involved in corporate/government alliances that stand to profit handsomely in the event of major CO2 regulation, regulation that only attains validity if CO2 can successfully be redefined as a dangerous pollutant.Now as to the letter itself. After a series of laudatory introductory comments, Snowe and Rockefeller get to the business at hand.
''We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in that past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil's longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy'... It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the 'deniers.' We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute are true. Similarly, we have seen press reports that your British subsidiary has told the Royal Society, Great Britain's foremost scientific academy, that ExxonMobil will stop funding other organizations with similar purposes.
This diatribe is so blatantly dishonest it almost takes one's breath away. It should be abundantly clear to anyone reading this, unless they are hopelessly blinded by their allegiance to neoliberal, environmentalist ideology, that what we have here are politicians attempting to intimidate and silence all critics of the official version of climate change. The claims about a ''climate change denial campaign'' are utterly specious. So here we have Senators, using their authority to pressure Exxon into ceasing their funding of the C.E.I., an organization that had the audacity to give a voice to legitimate criticisms of the IPCC's so called ''consensus.''Are there to be no dissenting voices allowed? None whatsoever?
Apparently you are okay with this.
And how on Earth does having a real debate about an issue as complex as climate change affect US diplomacy? Even more preposterous is that it is not enough to try and stifle debate here in America but it must be shut down in Great Britain as well.
But it gets worse.
''Exxon is not alone in jeopardizing the credibility and stature of the United States. Large corporations in related industries have joined ExxonMobil to provide significant and consistent financial support of this pseudo-scientific, non-peer review echo chamber. . .The climate change denial confederacy has exerted an influence out of all proportion to its size or relative scientific credibility. Through relentless pressure on the media to present the issue ''objectively,'' and by challenging the consensus on climate change science by misstating both the nature of what ''consensus'' means and what this particular consensus is, ExxonMobil and its allies have confused the public. . .''
No, the poor confused, scientifically illiterate public cannot be allowed to hear any dissenting views, lest it damage our credibility abroad. What? As to the nature of the ''consensus,'' it does not exist anywhere but in the cloistered halls of big government bought and paid for science. The ''relentless pressure'' on the poor media by a ''climate change denial confederacy'' to once in a while present something other than government manufactured and approved science is as blatant a lie as reprehensible politicians have ever concocted.
To anybody reading this who has not sunk into complete ideological insensibility ask yourself this: When and where have you ever heard the voice of solar physicists, atmospheric physicists, palaeoclimatologists, geologists, glaciologists, astronomers, geochemists, oceanographers or a whole host of other scientists outside the IPCC who have raised valid questions about one aspect or another of the global warming dogma? Even minimal reflection should make it obvious that these voices have not been heard in any measure remotely close to the constant drumbeat of global warming dogma, which is now being spoon-fed to schoolchildren while college students are being required to watch Inconvenient Truth to graduate (which of course was the instrument that led to Al Gore receiving a highly publicized Nobel Prize, with the film itself winning an Academy Award for best documentary.) Hey, if you want to talk about pseudo-science look no further than this slick piece of bald-faced propaganda. The appropriate category for Inconvenient Truth should have been for slickest propaganda film of the year, that award it would have deserved. I certainly could say a few things about the science in Inconvenient Truth but I'll save that for another time.
Global warming dogma has made it onto the covers of Time Magazine, National Geographic, Newsweek, New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and on and on and on. It has been regularly featured on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, BBC, Msnbc, the Weather Channel, virtually all mainstream media outlets. Big budget Hollywood movies, such as The Day After Tomorrow have been seen by millions of people.
Much Green'....So Environment'.... '' Astromonk
Barack Obama regularly makes pro global warming statements to the media who dutifully report it widely. When was the last time anyone ever heard Obama mention even one of the many valid questions that have been raised about a science of global warming based exclusively on computer models? I think the answer to that would be never. Everyone has seen pictures of a polar bear apparently trapped on an ice floe as evidence of global warming, but how many have heard of the work of polar bear biologist Mitch Taylor which proves that polar bear populations are on the increase and thriving in northern Canada which is most of their customary territory. Everybody has heard that global warming is supposed to cause an increase in hurricanes and extreme weather, but how many people have seen, in any mainstream media outlet, the graphs of Accumulated Cyclonic Energy demonstrating that hurricanes have been at their lowest frequency in well over 30 years. I could site dozens of such examples. (And, it looks like we've just about made it through yet another Hurricane season without a major storm making landfall.)
If not for the Internet there would be virtually no outlet for alternative points of view.
Apparently any coverage at all of an opposing viewpoint is too much for the global warming zealots.
I must say here that if the ''climate change denial confederacy'' has exerted an influence ''out of all proportion to its size,'' because it is after all, as the letter describes, only a ''small cadre,'' then it can only be because sooner or later the truth of the matter will find a way to be heard and will eventually prevail. Take careful note that here is an unintended admission that the ''confederacy'' is trifling in its size when compared with big government approved science and their billions, else how could its influence be so out of proportion to its size? Note also that these politicians are accusing the ''deniers'' of putting ''relentless pressure'' on the media while they themselves are right here with this letter exerting political pressure on a company that gave just above $20 million to a wide variety of groups that those politicians don't approve of. Many of the recipient groups in question did little or no research at all into matters of the climate, and a few of them, in fact, actually supported the global warming scenario. Think about what you have just read. Politicians are attempting to use the power of their office to close down contributions to groups that may directly, or indirectly even, challenge the IPCC status quo. It doesn't matter that the money comes from Exxon, what matters is does it fund climate science specifically, and if so, is there any evidence that the science has been falsified, or fabricated, or skewed in some way in a deliberate attempt to deceive. Where is the evidence, besides hearsay, innuendo, exaggeration and ad hominem attacks? Where is the falsified data? I say Exxon, or any other corporation, or organization, or group, or individual has the right to donate to whomever they want, free of government interference, threats, or coercion.
Of course, I wouldn't guess you know, or care, about any of this.
But, I am going to ask you to consider this anyway. The carbon dioxide remediation strategies are far-reaching in their consequences. The impact on modern society will be profound for generations to come. Energy rationing is not something to be taken lightly. Conversion to alternate forms of energy can and will happen. The most effective and moral way to implement that conversion is not by bureaucratization and centralization under a hierarchical, autocratic, command and control system, (which is exactly what we will end up with if we allow politics to dominant the process of policy implementation based upon a contrived dogma) but through enterprise, invention, experimentation and decentralization in a free market. It is this that the politicians and their cronies seek to suppress, the emergence of an organic system that they cannot control.If the politicians are making available billions in subsidies, billions in tax credits, billions in tax payer provided R & D money, and so on, of course big corporations are going to get on board, just as they get on board when the politicians offer billions upon billions to develop the technologies of war.I absolutely want sources of alternative energy to evolve, but NOT by government fiat.
But, I am going to ask you to consider this anyway. The carbon dioxide remediation strategies are far-reaching in their consequences. The impact on modern society will be profound for generations to come. Energy rationing is not something to be taken lightly. Conversion to alternate forms of energy can and will happen. The most effective and moral way to implement that conversion is not by bureaucratization and centralization under a hierarchical, autocratic, command and control system, (which is exactly what we will end up with if we allow politics to dominant the process of policy implementation based upon a contrived dogma) but through enterprise, invention, experimentation and decentralization in a free market. It is this that the politicians and their cronies seek to suppress, the emergence of an organic system that they cannot control.If the politicians are making available billions in subsidies, billions in tax credits, billions in tax payer provided R & D money, and so on, of course big corporations are going to get on board, just as they get on board when the politicians offer billions upon billions to develop the technologies of war.I absolutely want sources of alternative energy to evolve, but NOT by government fiat.
I say it's time to have the debate that is not over, out front, in public, with all sides heard, including the dissenters '' the debate that the proponents of globalwarming / climatechange / climatedisruption etc. etc. are desperate to avoid. An extensive debate, conducted over the course of multiple sessions, covering in depth all the issues and dimensions related to the science of climate change. In the debate let's have eminent skeptical scientists like Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Vincent Gray, Richard Lindzen, Richard Tol, John Christy, Robert Carter, Robert Balling, Zbigniew Jarorowski, William Gray, Nir Shaviv, Freeman Dyson, Tom Segalstad, Willie Soon, Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Christopher Landsea, Sami Solanki, Ross McKitrick, Lawrence Solomon, Antonino Zichichi, (accomplished scientists all who have been demonized by the AGW hucksters for having the temerity to question the ''consensus.'') and many possible others on one side making their best case, and let's have Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Phil Jones, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, Ben Santer, Al Gore, (if you can coax him out of his oceanfront mansion) Naomi Oreskes, James Hoggan, Ross Gelbspan, John Cook, Dana Milbank, John Holdren and the whole crowd of global warming promoters on the other side. (Oh, and let's not forget to put Bernie Sanders up there with them since, after all, he is making global warming dogma a central part of his campaign.) Let's broadcast it widely through diverse media outlets and encourage as many people as possible to take a break from Keeping Up with the Kardashians to tune in. It ought to be a great show. But, regrettably it won't happen, and apparently you see no irony in the fact that the critics and skeptics are eager to debate while the proponents of global warming declare the debate over and hide behind their so-called consensus.
But, regrettably it won't happen, and apparently you see no irony in the fact that the critics and skeptics are eager to debate while the proponents of global warming declare the debate over and hide behind their so-called consensus.
I have a question for you, Art. Are you afraid to actually look at what some of the above mentioned critics are saying?
I am talking about highly qualified, reputable scientists and other qualified individuals, reputable, at least, until the global warming faction began its smear campaigns.Repeating your statement when you talk about the ''accumulation of evidence that the fossil fuel industry has long been aware of and funding denial of anthropogenically-caused global warming.'' Show me some documentation that any of the above mentioned skeptical scientists have received payoffs from the fossil fuel companies to publically deny anthropogenically-caused global warming, show me how much they were paid, show me the papers they wrote or the research they conducted in deference to their paymasters, and most importantly, show me where they falsified or deliberately skewed the data.
SHOW ME!
Getting back to the Exxon ''disclosures.'' The letter goes on:
''Climate change denial has been so effective because the ''denial community'' has mischaracterized the necessarily guarded language of serious scientific dialogue as vagueness and uncertainty. Mainstream media outlets, attacked for being biased, help lend credence to skeptics' views, regardless of their scientific integrity, by giving them equal standing with legitimate scientists. Exxon is responsible for much of this bogus scientific ''debate''. . .''
Oh, that's it. The ''denial community'' has ''mischaracterized the necessarily guarded language of serious scientific dialogue'' Yes, the serious dialogue that can only be conducted in the sequestered halls of official, government funded, politically driven science and their cossetted scientists. And again, the poor mainstream media, having been ''attacked'' by those dreadful skeptics with their heretical views, must be suffering from PTSD after such a traumatic assault.Where and when have we been privileged to witness skeptics given equal standing with ''legitimate scientists?'' I'll ask again '' Where? When? Take special note of another unintended disclosure from the letter: ''Exxon is responsible for much of this bogus scientific ''debate.'''' Think about what this statement implies. That's right, the paltry sums donated to these pariah groups represents the bulk of the so called ''dark money'' funneled to the nefarious ''denial machine'' and any debate or discussion outside of approved circles whatsoever is, according to these people, simply ''bogus.''
But the distortions of this letter go on:
''A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone. . .The study will estimate that ExxonMobile has spent more than 19 million since the late 1990s on a strategy of ''information laundering,'' or enabling a small number of professional skeptics working through scientific-sounding organizations to funnel their viewpoints through non-peer-reviewed websites. . .The internet has provided ExxonMobil the means to wreak its havoc on U.S. credibility.''
Here it is in black and white. Horror of horrors! Exxon is the primary funder of no fewer than 29 ''climate change denial front groups.'' Apparently funding by groups other than Exxon to ''deny climate change'' was so paltry that they weren't worth naming. And how much did Exxon donate to these 29 groups? As the letters' authors say, the sum, over almost a decade, is somewhat in excess of $19 million. Let's assume that amount is divided equally among the 29 groups. That works out to about $65,000 to each group per year, perhaps enough to pay the annual salary of one mid-level employee. How does that compare with donations to Greenpeace, one of the largest organizations in the world promoting global warming dogma, that are in excess of $350 million per year? Or Natural Resources Defense Council? They are the recipients of some $19 million every year from wealthy donors and corporations, and, for the past decade and a half, have received a total of almost $290 million. In 2012 alone, according to their publically available tax return, NRDC received donations worth over $90 million dollars. Or how about the Sierra Club? It has been the recipient of well in excess of $400 million since 1999. The Environmental Defense Fund, over the same period, received donations in excess of $290 million. This is all publically available information. And all of these groups actively promote the idea that anthropogenic global warming is a crises that demands an immediate government response. If it is true as you say, that money corrupts, then is there not the slightest possibility that there might be corruption on the pro-global warming side?
Now here's the thing. I actually support many of the activities and goals of these environmental organizations. But obviously I part company with them in regards to their endorsement of the global warming dogma, and, in most cases, the means by which we get to the end goal. Here's one hint (among many) that may suggest where corruption has crept in among these once principled organizations. Rockefeller affiliated organizations such as The Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have since 2003, donated almost $5 and a half million to NRDC alone. You will of course note who co-authored the letter I am quoting from. It should further be mentioned that NRDC is helping to shape Obamas carbon dioxide/global warming policy. No quid pro quos here.
Oh, and one other thing, as far as their remarks about ''professional skeptics,'' I should remind these self-serving politicians that it is a good scientists' job to be a skeptic.The promoters of global warming propaganda are counting on the fact that the vast majority of people will simply accept, without question or further thought, authoritative sounding but unsubstantiated statements about ''scientific consensus'' and about a secret ''denial machine'' funded by fossil fuel companies obfuscating the public discourse with lies propagated by scientists bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. Yet the purveyors of such baloney are doing exactly what they accuse the critics of doing without ever coming up with a single example of fraudulent science on the part of the skeptics!
Oh, and one other thing, as far as their remarks about ''professional skeptics,'' I should remind these self-serving politicians that it is a good scientists' job to be a skeptic.The promoters of global warming propaganda are counting on the fact that the vast majority of people will simply accept, without question or further thought, authoritative sounding but unsubstantiated statements about ''scientific consensus'' and about a secret ''denial machine'' funded by fossil fuel companies obfuscating the public discourse with lies propagated by scientists bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. Yet the purveyors of such baloney are doing exactly what they accuse the critics of doing without ever coming up with a single example of fraudulent science on the part of the skeptics!
But again, where is the hard evidence of Exxon malfeasance? About the best they can come up with is that Exxon gave somewhat in excess of $20 million to 29 different groups, only some of which used any of that money towards climate change research, and, that the Koch brothers (the very incarnation of evil to the global warming true believers) gave about the same to over 30 different groups who also spent it on a whole variety of issues and projects other than climate change. Oh, and they also like to make a big deal about the fact that Fred Singer once wrote an article questioning some of the assumptions being made about second hand tobacco smoke. It's quite impressive how much mileage the pro-warming factions have squeezed out the Big Tobacco association, as if that has anything whatsoever to do with the question of the climatic consequences of raising the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere by a couple of hundred parts per million. This constant tobacco refrain is the very definition of a ''red herring,'' something thrown into an argument for no other purpose than to distract attention from the real issues.
But what does this say about the parties that find it necessary to employ such tactics?
I think more and more people are starting to see through the scam. Here's a sure fire way to recognize that the global warming promoters are phonies: as soon as they start throwing out jargon like ''Astroturf groups''''deniers''''denialists''''denial machine'' ''contrarians'' ''consensus'' ''Big Tobacco'' ''mainstream scientists'' ''legitimate scientific community'' ''tipping points'' etc. etc. ad nauseam, they are admitting that they are not going to talk about the highly complex science of climate change from a broad and balanced perspective, but are instead going to attempt to divert the discussion with just about every logical fallacy that exists.
The devious letter continues:
''Indeed, while the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change. Instead of the narrow and inward-looking universe of the deniers, the legitimate scientific community has developed its view on climate change through rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing across all climate-related disciplines and in virtually every country of the globe.''
The implication of all this couldn't be more in your face obvious. The ''legitimate scientific community'' consists of the government approved scientists and computer modelers working for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and only them. Anyone else who questions, or critiques, the findings and assertions made by the IPCC, no matter their qualifications or expertise, is nothing more than an ''outlier'' and can be ignored, they are purveyors of a ''carefully crafted denial strategy.'' And how many times must it be said, over and over again, that consensus is meaningless in science.
Do you need any more evidence that this is politics, not science?
Only government scientists, on the payroll of agenda driven politicians, their hired bureaucrats and crony capitalists, are considered ''legitimate scientists.'' Isn't it great that here we have politicians from both parties dictating what constitutes ''legitimate science.''
The ''rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing,'' that is invoked by the distinguished Senators in support of their claim of ''consensus'' proves beyond any doubt that they are completely clueless about what is actually in the peer-reviewed research and writing. Or they do know, or suspect, in which case they are knowingly lying. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are clueless. I would be more than happy to supply them with several thousand references from the peer-reviewed literature that are inconsistent with their claims of consensus, including from the IPCC itself.
Very few people understand how the peer review process works within the IPCC. Elaborate computer models are developed by the hired scientists and modelers, working from data supplied by the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University. This is the gateway institution for the bulk of the climate data utilized by the IPCC scientists in erecting their computer models, and, of course, the computer models will be no better than the data upon which they are built. Let us be clear on the function of the IPCC. It is a politically contrived organization for the purpose of scientifically demonstrating a predetermined conclusion '-- that the actions of humans are causing dangerous climate change through their consumption of fossil fuels.
By implication, this threat, being so dire, requires a massive increase in political/executive power over the private economy along with massive wealth transfers to politically favored groups, organizations, corporations and individuals. See for example the boondoggle that is the Sanders/Boxer Climate Protection Act of 2013. i.e. a carbon tax. This piece of legislation is so filled with delusions that by itself it disqualifies Bernie Sanders from the presidency. (It was Senator Barbara Boxer who proclaimed: ''In California we can just look out the window and see climate change's impacts,'' displaying her sophisticated understanding of the complexities of global climate change. It is gratifying to know that this politician is so endowed with insight and acumen that by simply looking out the window she is qualified to craft legislation that will stop the Earth's climate from changing once and for all.)
By implication, this threat, being so dire, requires a massive increase in political/executive power over the private economy along with massive wealth transfers to politically favored groups, organizations, corporations and individuals. See for example the boondoggle that is the Sanders/Boxer Climate Protection Act of 2013. i.e. a carbon tax. This piece of legislation is so filled with delusions that by itself it disqualifies Bernie Sanders from the presidency. (It was Senator Barbara Boxer who proclaimed: ''In California we can just look out the window and see climate change's impacts,'' displaying her sophisticated understanding of the complexities of global climate change. It is gratifying to know that this politician is so endowed with insight and acumen that by simply looking out the window she is qualified to craft legislation that will stop the Earth's climate from changing once and for all.)
Once the IPCC has developed models from the data provided by CRU they make ''projections.'' These projections make their way into regularly published Assessment Reports that contain the science and technical information, and the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). These reports and summaries are then provided to a variety of government officials with the EPA, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, among others. These agencies develop rules and regulations based on the information in the reports, rules that increasingly impact upon our lives in a myriad of ways. (This is an issue worthy of another discussion.) In addition the IPCC participants cherry pick their way through the published literature selecting work that supports their conclusion of catastrophic global warming while ignoring anything that doesn't support it. Together the CRU data and the selective utilization of the scientific literature forms the basis of the Assessment Reports that are published approximately every 5 or 6 years. During the interim between publication dates the IPCC scientists and officials constantly adjust, amend and modify the basic data until they arrive at the desired outcome.
It is the Summary for Policy Makers. To devise the SPMs the IPCC selects a number of politically approved scientists, who, along with some 270+ politicians and bureaucrats from 115 different countries form a Working Group, who then assemble to haggle over the information contained in Technical Reports line by line until they reach an agreement that is politically acceptable to all '' in other words, reach a consensus. If this isn't science subordinated to politics then there is no such thing. This process of bureaucrats picking through the science line by line is the origin of the highly publicized consensus, it is a creature of politics pure and simple.
But it is not the ARs that generally make it into the hands of politicians, officials, mainstream media and environmentalists. It is the Summary for Policy Makers. To devise the SPMs the IPCC selects a number of politically approved scientists, who, along with some 270+ politicians and bureaucrats from 115 different countries form a Working Group, who then assemble to haggle over the information contained in Technical Reports line by line until they reach an agreement that is politically acceptable to all '' in other words, reach a consensus. If this isn't science subordinated to politics then there is no such thing. This process of bureaucrats picking through the science line by line is the origin of the highly publicized consensus, it is a creature of politics pure and simple. Also, it needs to be pointed out, there is actually a 3 month delay between the release of the SPM and the Assessment Reports. The SPMs are released first and the ARs some three to four months later so that the hired scientists have time to go back over them, making adjustments, additions, deletions and so forth in order to render them consistent with the Summary for Policymakers, again, to subordinate the science of climate change to the politics of climate change.The SPMs are developed through a process that has basically nothing to do with scientific veracity and everything to do with bureaucratic preferences. If you think I am making all this up read for yourself the IPCC procedures, section 4, in regards to Technical Reports acceptance:
''Changes made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.''
Changes made AFTER ACCEPTANCE by the Working Group in order ''ensure consistency'' with the political document that is the Summary for Policy Makers. It couldn't be more obvious than this. Right there in that single sentence the fraud is exposed. Now one more thing that needs to be emphasized if there are any doubts about the duplicity of this process. The entire negotiation process just described for developing the SPM's is completely opaque. The doors are closed to the public and to the news media. No outside cameras or recorders or news cameras are allowed. I think any rational person would be forced to ask why the secrecy? If there is nothing to hide let it be transparent. Clearly if the process was open to public scrutiny the whole scheme would soon unravel.
There you have it, the priorities are obvious. The scientific data is manipulated after the fact to conform to the political priorities of the SPM, to ''ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers.'' I also need to mention that the raw data originally fed into the IPCC pipeline was and is tainted from the beginning, as was clearly and convincingly confirmed by the leaked emails from CRU, in spite of the so-called ''investigations'' whose sole purpose, from the outset, was to exonerate these disreputable East Anglia scientists and paint the whistle blower, whoever he or she was, as the bad guy. But this person, probably someone from within the IPCC itself, deserves accolades for having a conscience and wanting the truth to get out about this tainted process.
One of the most egregious examples of scientific dishonesty perpetuated by the IPCC (among many) was the exclusion of a graph that had been featured in earlier reports that showed the relation between computerized projections of future temperature increases compared with actual instrumentally measured temperatures. What this graph displayed was the increasing discrepancy between the IPCC computer projections and the real world, which are seen to diverge more and more each year as the global climate fails to exhibit any statistically significant warming. (Some 18 years now).
But in spite of that, as the models have consistently failed to match what the real climate is actually doing, the IPCC spokespersons and their cronies continue to push the idea of a carbon dioxide triggered catastrophe. The eminent Dr. Judith Curry, professor and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology pointed out that ''As temperatures have declined, and climate models have failed to predict this decline, the IPCC has gained confidence in [its predictions of] catastrophic warming.'' As the frequently maligned Paul Driessen has correctly commented ''the more they are wrong about nearly everything, the more confident IPCC officials have become that they are right about nearly everything.''
And here is the ultimate irony. Based upon this debased science, the global warming proponents want to use the force of government to drastically curtail the use of fossil fuel derived energy in the wealthy, advanced countries, thereby seriously hobbling their economies, while at the same time forcing a massive wealth transfer from those countries to favored developing nations in the name of ''climate justice.'' Once the wealthy nations have been economically impoverished, how they will continue to pay climate ''reparations'' to the victim nations is anyone's guess.
And of course, history has shown that massive, politically motivated wealth transfer is always accompanied by massive corruption.Am I guilty of hyperbole when I say that global warming advocates want to use the force of government to shut down dissent? Not hardly. If you are ''shocked'' at something I said in my original comments, here is something that should really addle your sensibilities: (but then again, probably not). On May 9, 2015 the Washington Post published a letter by Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island.
''Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution. Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco's denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise.
Here we go again, repeat the Big Lie often enough and hopefully enough people will believe it. Declare an atmospheric trace gas that is absolutely essential to life itself to be ''pollution'' and before anyone can actually get around to questioning the truthfulness regarding ''a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people'' throw in the Big Tobacco diversion. Whitehouse continues with his mendacity:
''The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your product; (2) develop an intricate web of PR experts and front groups to spread doubt about the real science; (3) relentlessly attack your opponents.''
More irony. What he is describing is exactly the tactics employed by the big government, pro-global warming faction. Of course, we see no specifics, no data, no evidence that what he says is actually true about the massively funded ''denial campaign.'' But then, as it goes on, we see in this letter the totalitarian mindset on full display. For what Whitehouse is advocating is nothing less than marshalling the power of the almighty state to utterly suppress any dissent from the proclamations of official science. I also think it quite significant that this proposal is originating from a Democrat. Why am I not surprised at that? Not to wax partisan here but it sure seems that a lot of Democrats are willing to cast stones at Republicans, (and deservedly so) but refuse to engage in even the most rudimentary examination of themselves, their beliefs or the policies they promote.
This is what Whitehouse thinks is the solution to politically incorrect research and speech in regards to climate change:
''Thankfully, the government had a playbook, too: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or Rico. . .The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking. In the case of fossil fuels, just as with tobacco, the industry joined together in a common enterprise and coordinated strategy. In 1998, the Clinton administration was building support for international climate action under the Kyoto Protocol. The fossil fuel industry, its trade associations and the conservative policy institutes that often do the industry's dirty work met at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute. A memo from that meeting that was leaked to the New York Times their plans for a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to undermine climate science and to raise ''questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.''
So where is any real evidence of fraudulent science? Is it in the hundreds of studies published in the peer-reviewed literature with evidence of higher than present sea levels? Is it in the hundreds of studies in the peer-reviewed literature on periods of Earth history as warm as or warmer than present? Is it in hundreds of studies published in the peer-reviewed journals demonstrating extreme climate change long before any meaningful anthropogenic influence? Is it in numerous studies showing that CO2 concentrations have, for most of Earth history, been higher than now?
No, all we get here is hyperbole about a multimillion dollar public relations campaign, a lot of diversionary references to the tobacco industry, and not one word about the billions flowing to pro-global warming groups. Think about what Whitehouse is advocating: Laws that were put on the books to combat organized crime being used to prosecute dissident scientists. It doesn't get sleazier than this. Let's be clear about where Whitehouse and his ilk are coming from '' it isn't science they are promoting but religious zealotry. He states outright that one of the objectives of this ''multimillion-dollar'' campaign that he is attacking is to raise questions ''among those who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.'' Well yes, esteemed Senator Whitehouse, that is exactly what scientists are SUPPOSED to do '' raise questions '' that's how science works. And if the science is being employed to drive policy then that questioning is more important than ever. How can any rational person read this letter and not see in it a tactic for suppressing dissent while maintaining a monopolistic privilege on the part of government sanctioned climate science? Somebody needs to remind Senator Whitehouse that the First Amendment applies to everybody, including those who disagree with his version of scientific reality.
Following the distinguished Senator's lead, a group of government affiliated and IPCC scientists wrote a letter to the Obama Administration supporting Whitehouse's' call for persecution of global warming skeptics. Here are a couple of selections that exemplify the mindset of the New Inquisition:Letter to President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, and OSTP Director Holdren, Sept. 1, 2015
''As you know, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists are convinced about the potentially serious adverse effects of human-induced climate change on human health, agriculture, and biodiversity. . .We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool '' recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse '' is a RICO (Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America's response to climate change. . .We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse's call for a RICO investigation.''
All I can say is Senator Joe McCarthy had nothing on these guys.
This is what awaits us at the end of YOUR convoluted reasoning Art: witch-hunts, pogroms, ''investigations'' of anyone who disagrees with the edicts of big government official science, a new inquisition whose main purpose is to shut down debate, stifle discussion, deprive any critics of government climate policy of the resources needed to conduct basic research and to publish the results of that research. Of course the ''peer reviewed'' papers published in approved journals will have to meet government standards, or the threat of an investigation will hang over the head of any heretic who dares question the infallibility of official government climate science.And let's be clear that the statement ''an overwhelming majority of climate scientists'' means the majority of IPCC and affiliated climate scientists, which ironically, but not unexpectedly, has had some major and important defections from the consensus, as well as whistle blowers whose testimony needs to be acknowledged and widely publicized. These defectors from the IPCC propaganda machine are the real scientists and should be celebrated, not denigrated.Yup, this is what we get when we allow the government (i.e. politicians) to fund science, along with the corruption that is an ever-present virus in virtually all politics. Don't forget what the letter I stands for in the acronym IPCC: INTERGOVERNMENTAL, in case you need reminding. It is sad that so many on the liberal side of the political spectrum believe that they traverse the moral high road by accepting without question the decrees of government funded, politically motivated science and endorse policies based upon emotion rather than reason.
And, of course, the letter writers had to invoke you know who: ''The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. . .''The letter concludes with these detestable remarks:
''If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth's climate, before even more lasting damage is done.''
''Guilty of misdeeds!?'' So which official in the Obama administration would have the responsibility to define and identify ''misdeeds?'' And what constitutes a misdeed in the minds of these climate despots? The answer is simple: disagreeing with or challenging the monolithic consensus that they have so carefully contrived at great monetary cost to society. Would corporations that agreed with the government approved consensus ever be investigated, or only those who question, criticize or disagree? I think the answer to that question is a foregone conclusion. And who are ''their supporters,'' who might be guilty of misdeeds, other than anyone else who questions or disagrees with the IPCC's overhyped consensus? They made sure to leave the definition wide open as to who constitutes a threat to their monopoly. And how, exactly, would these ''misdeeds'' be stopped?
The belief that a bunch of politicians, bureaucrats, and environmentalists are going to ''restabilize the Earth's climate'' by forcing down atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by maybe a hundred parts per million has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest delusion of our time. What they will succeed in doing, however, if they have their way, will be to utterly suppress the forward momentum and progress of civilization, leaving our nation, and the world, unprepared for real climate change, NATURAL climate change. Change that comes on hard, fast and unexpectedly and has virtually nothing to do with CO2. For here is a truth that the High Priests of Official Climate Change and their followers don't want you to know, and prefer not to know themselves: As important as it is, there is a hell of a lot more to climate change than just CO2.
And that's the 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody notices because they are too easily distracted by the mendacious superficiality of mainstream media and lulled into complacency by a steady diet of government propaganda and lies.
One of the founding fathers of modern climate science the great Herman Flohn (1912-1997) grasped the true nature of the problem decades ago. In The Climate of Europe: Past, Present and Future (1984) Hermann Flohn and Roberto Fantechi. Atmospheric Sciences Library, D. Reidel Publishing Co. from Chap. 2: Climate in the Last Thousand Years: Natural Climatic Fluctuations and Change, he writes:
''Climate ''even under its natural development alone- varies continually. Each year, each decade, each century, each millennium, since long before any question of impact of human activity'...It is important to gauge the magnitudes and time-scales of these variations, since planning should not be based on expectations of return to some non-existent norm. And the magnitude and extent of any changes attributable to Man's activities ''or even whether any such effects are occurring on more than a local scale- cannot be determined without knowing the range, and the likely timing, of changes due to natural causes.''
The wisdom and common sense expressed in these words, which need to be read and reread by independent minds and anyone who is truly interested in the big picture of climate change, has been ignored by the IPCC scientists in their appointed mission of laying the blame for climate change on the activities of man.In 1979 Flohn conveyed a message that should be heeded by all those who would presume to concern themselves with climate change and the future of the planetary environment:
''From the viewpoint of the climatologist, the most important result of these investigations is the fact, that within the ''human'' time scale of about 100 yr or less, our climate is'...much more variable than hitherto assumed. Especially important, and indeed disquieting, is the evidence of abrupt cooling's within warm (interglacial) periods apparently as rare events with a recurrence interval of 104 yr.'' (On Time Scales and Causes of Abrupt Paleoclimatic Events: Quaternary Research, 1979, vol. 12, #1, pp. 135-149)
Ten to the 4th power is 10,000 years. The reason Professor Flohn finds the evidence ''disquieting is simply that from the record of the last several hundred thousand years of climate change then in hand, it had become apparent that by 1979, interglacial periods, such as the current one we are now in, the Holocene, had seldom, if ever, lasted more than 10 thousand years, usually less. And the Holocene interglacial period is now over 11 thousand years in duration.
As of this writing, there is no consensus as to what force of natural climate change drives the planet into and out of ice ages and does so ''within the human time scale.'' But since Flohn wrote those words the record of natural climate change now in hand reveals that global climate has repeatedly changed and has done so profoundly, dramatically and rapidly over and over again. And it has done so without human help. And in all well documented cases where phase relations are discernable, carbon dioxide changes in the atmosphere lag behind changes in temperature by decades and sometimes centuries, which points to a truth that is absolutely anathema to global warming dogma: Temperature is driving the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and not the other way around. This relationship is well documented in the PEER-REVIEWED LITERATURE.
Disturbed by what the evidence revealed for abrupt natural climate change, Flohn goes on to remark that
''The problem of abrupt intense coolings during an interglacial climate similar to the present climate resembles, to some extent, the Damocles' sword hanging high above the globe and its inhabitants. Because of its possible consequences for the human race, its study deserves a much higher priority.''
But with the rise of government promoted global warming dogma the study of climate change was hijacked to focus exclusively on anthropogenic forcing's to the virtual exclusion of natural factors. Instead of receiving a much higher priority as Flohn hoped for, natural climate change was relegated to the fringes and became the province of independent and underfunded scientists, who, by publishing their work, are now being attacked as ''climate change deniers,'' smeared in the neoliberal press, and are being threatened with government investigations. How revealing it was then when the climategate email releases showed that CRU and IPCC scientists were placing pressure on various science journals to reject articles from critics of the IPCC consensus. YES they did show that.
So in order to maintain the illusion that climate change is only driven by human activities the global warming advocates become the true ''deniers,'' because they can only maintain their allegiance to this fiction by denying natural climate change.
14 years after Hermann Flohn penned his warning climate scientists had access to the paleoclimatic record provided by Greenland ice cores. These cores, extracted from the very summit of Greenland's great ice sheet, revealed a record of climate change unprecedented in its accuracy. What they revealed was a succession dramatic climate swings far beyond anything experienced in modern times. In many cases these climatic shifts could only be characterized as catastrophic. One of the lead scientists studying these cores, J.W.C. White had this to say in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, Nature:
''The new ice core results bring rapid climate change to our doorstep: changes of up to 10°C in a couple of decades, or perhaps in less than a decade, appear possible in interglacials'...the speed with which the climate system can shift states gives us pause'...''
Yes, changes of up to 10°C in less than a decade really ought to give us pause! (10 degrees Celsius is 18 degrees F.) White goes on to point out that
''We humans have built a remarkable socio-economic system during perhaps the only time when it could be built, when climate was stable enough to let us develop the agricultural infrastructure required to maintain an advanced society. We don't know why we have been so blessed, but even without human intervention, the climate system is capable of stunning variability.'' (J.W.C White, 1993 Nature, vol. 364)
These words ought to be pondered deeply by the global warming proponents before they make the ludicrous claim that the debate is over, because, to reiterate what J.W.C. White realized back in 1993 was that ''even without human intervention the climate system is capable of stunning variability'' and we do not yet know why.
EVEN WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION!
This truth needs to be shouted into the ears of the global warming true believers until it finally registers that no matter what we do, even to the extent of entirely shutting down modern civilization and leaving the planet, the climate is still going to continue to change, and sometimes catastrophically.
I think a legitimate question to ask at this time is who really is guilty of ''misdeeds'' '' the scientists and independent thinkers who believe we should look at all the variables and accept nothing without question, or those who are actively trying to shut down debate? I think the answer to that question is crystal clear. And if Exxon or whoever wants to put up a few million to fund climate change research I say more power to them. I think that in America at least, there are enough smart people to see through fraudulent science if Exxon tries to perpetuate it, as long as it is spared being propped up by the government propaganda machine. How is it that the global warming promoters can think that the industry that would be the most severely affected by global warming regulation should be denied a voice in the discussion? Are we not seeing here exactly the mentality of true believers, zealots and fanatics?
Whether the global warming proponents are honest enough, or sophisticated enough, to realize that the policies they promote will, if fully implemented, lead to a long, slow national suicide, is doubtful, because they don't understand the difference between freedom and totalitarianism, imagining that we can solve the ''climate crises'' through the creation of politically mandated, totalitarian control systems. Yeah, good luck with that.
Autonomy, decentralization and liberty are the keys to successfully advancing technologically, environmentally and morally.
Let's have the debate. Let's discuss the carbon cycle, and carbon dioxide's role in photosynthesis and the processes of Life; let's discuss changing sea levels; let's discuss the frequency of extreme weather; let's discuss the role of the Sun; let's discuss all the other natural factors that might be influencing the climate in addition to CO2 such as ocean currents, atmospheric currents, cosmic rays, volcanism, cosmic dust, changing orbital geometries, the geomagnetic field etc. etc.; let's discuss the cause, or causes, of cycling glacial-interglacial ages; let's discuss the relationship of CO2 to climate change throughout Earth history; let's discuss the role of changes in the circumpolar vortex; let's discuss the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age; let's discuss the Climatic Optimum; let's discuss the accuracy of ice cores as a climate proxy; let's discuss the numerous, well documented natural climate catastrophes that have happened in Earth's history; let's discuss the effects of warm vs cold periods on the stability of historical societies. Let's discuss all these things, and more.
Oh, that's right, I almost forgot, the debate is over; the science is settled; there is nothing more to discuss.
I'll make a final comment. I totally believe that climate change is very real and I am totally in favor of studies being performed on the human influence on climate. I think they are important and necessary, and definitely part of the big picture of climate change. And I have no doubt that carbon dioxide does indeed play an important role, up to a point. What I object to is the monopolization of climate science by political, academic and corporate forces that stand to gain as a direct result of carbon remediation policies, who then employ the tremendous political resources at their disposal to marginalize, ostracize and denigrate dissenting voices, whatever their source. I think it will be an error of monumental proportions to put all of our eggs into the anthropogenic carbon dioxide basket while ignoring all of the other natural factors that have been operational for as long as this planet has existed. The policies derived from the science of climate change had better reflect the realities of climate change and not a politically contrived model or we could find ourselves in a world of hurt.
For make no mistake, most of the policies being proposed will have major effects on civilization and the consequences of draconian policies that force a reduction of energy consumption will absolutely impede economic growth and affect our standard of living in profound ways. This is why it is absolutely crucial that a vigorous debate take place with all voices heard. Finally, I am entirely in favor of developing alternative forms of energy and minimizing reliance on fossil fuels. But government mandates, forced upon society by an autocracy of imperfect individuals in pursuit of various agendas, are not the way to get there. In fact, the reality is the opposite: governments, politics, and bureaucracies are the greatest roadblock to effecting this transition, by consuming and wasting astronomical sums of the wealth and resources of this nation in particular, wealth which could, and would be used in the private sector by entrepreneurs, builders, architects, designers, engineers, scientists, inventors, farmers, artists, visionaries, healers and all creative individuals who understand the necessity of evolving a civilization in harmony with the Earth.
The question never seems to be asked, by those who favor political solutions to social problems, about the role of politics in creating those problems in the first place, and how, if there is not enough popular support in the private sector, a political solution could ever conceivably and realistically hope to succeed, and refusing to recognize that if there is sufficient support in the private sector then the political solution is superfluous, redundant, and counter-productive.
I will finish this diatribe with a superlative quote from the great 19 century philosopher and journalist Henry George. Based upon your deference to the authoritarian state, you will most likely not relate to the opinion expressed in these words, but for the sake of others, not so shackled by ideology, I will here include it, because it speaks eloquently of the remedy for what ails this nation and points us towards the only path to a prosperous, peaceful and sustainable future.
''We speak of Liberty as one thing, and of virtue, wealth, knowledge, invention, national strength and national independence as other things.But, of all these, Liberty is the source, the mother, the necessary condition.She is to virtue what light is to color;to wealth what sunshine is to grain;to knowledge what eyes are to sight.She is the genius of invention, the brawn of national strength, the spirit of national independence.Where Liberty rises, there virtue grows, wealth increases, knowledge expands, invention multiplies human powers, and in strength and spirit the freer nation rises among her neighbors.''
-Randall Carlson
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'I was tossed out of the tribe': climate scientist Judith Curry interviewed >> The Spectator
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:27
It is safe to predict that when 20,000 world leaders, officials, green activists and hangers-on convene in Paris next week for the 21st United Nations climate conference, one person you will not see much quotedis Professor Judith Curry. This is a pity. Her record of peer-reviewed publication in the best climate-science journals is second to none, and in America she has become a public intellectual. But on this side of the Atlantic, apparently, she is too 'challenging'. What is troubling about her pariah status is that her trenchant critique of the supposed consensus on global warming is not derived from warped ideology, let alone funding by fossil-fuel firms, but from solid data and analysis.
Some consider her a heretic. According to Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, a vociferous advocate of extreme measures to prevent a climatic Armageddon, she is 'anti-science'. Curry isn't fazed by the slur.
'It's unfortunate, but he calls anyone who doesn't agree with him a denier,' she tells me. 'Inside the climate community there are a lot of people who don't like what I'm doing. On the other hand, there is also a large, silent group who do like it. But the debate has become hard '-- especially in the US, because it's become so polarised.' Warming alarmists are fond of proclaiming how 97 per cent of scientists agree that the world is getting hotter, and human beings are to blame. They like to reduce the uncertainties of climate science and climate projections to Manichean simplicity. They have managed to eliminate doubt from what should be a nuanced debate about what to do.
Professor Curry, based at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, does not dispute for a moment that human-generated carbon dioxide warms the planet. But, she says, the evidence suggests this may be happening more slowly than the alarmists fear.
In the run-up to the Paris conference, said Curry, much ink has been spilled over whether the individual emissions pledges made so far by more than 150 countries '-- their 'intentional nationally determined contributions', to borrow the jargon '-- will be enough to stop the planet from crossing the 'dangerous' threshold of becoming 2°C hotter than in pre-industrial times. Much of the conference will consist of attempts to make these targets legally binding. This debate will be conducted on the basis that there is a known, mechanistic relationship between the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and how world average temperatures will rise.
Unfortunately, as Curry has shown, there isn't. Any such projection is meaningless, unless it accounts for natural variability and gives a value for 'climate sensitivity' '--i.e., how much hotter the world will get if the level of CO2 doubles. Until 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave a 'best estimate' of 3°C. But in its latest, 2013 report, the IPCC abandoned this, because the uncertainties are so great. Its 'likely' range is now vast '-- 1.5°C to 4.5°C.
This isn't all. According to Curry, the claims being made by policymakers suggest they are still making new policy from the old, now discarded assumptions. Recent research suggests the climate sensitivity is significantly less than 3˚C. 'There's growing evidence that climate sensitivity is at the lower end of the spectrum, yet this has been totally ignored in the policy debate,' Curry told me. 'Even if the sensitivity is 2.5˚C, not 3˚C, that makes a substantial difference as to how fast we might get to a world that's 2˚C warmer. A sensitivity of 2.5˚C makes it much less likely we will see 2˚C warming during the 21st century. There are so many uncertainties, but the policy people say the target is fixed. And if you question this, you will be slagged off as a denier.'
Curry added that her own work, conducted with the British independent scientist Nic Lewis, suggests that the sensitivity value may still lower, in which case the date when the world would be 2˚C warmer would be even further into the future. On the other hand, the inherent uncertainties of climate projection mean that values of 4˚C cannot be ruled out '-- but if that turns out to be the case, then the measures discussed at Paris and all the previous 20 UN climate conferences would be futile. In any event, 'the economists and policymakers seem unaware of the large uncertainties in climate sensitivity', despite its enormous implications.
Meanwhile, the obsessive focus on CO2 as the driver of climate change means other research on natural climate variability is being neglected. For example, solar experts believe we could be heading towards a 'grand solar minimum' '-- a reduction in solar output (and, ergo, a period of global cooling) similar to that which once saw ice fairs on the Thames. 'The work to establish the solar-climate connection is lagging.'
Curry's independence has cost her dear. She began to be reviled after the 2009 'Climategate' scandal, when leaked emails revealed that some scientists were fighting to suppress sceptical views. 'I started saying that scientists should be more accountable, and I began to engage with sceptic bloggers. I thought that would calm the waters. Instead I was tossed out of the tribe. There's no way I would have done this if I hadn't been a tenured professor, fairly near the end of my career. If I were seeking a new job in the US academy, I'd be pretty much unemployable. I can still publish in the peer-reviewed journals. But there's no way I could get a government research grant to do the research I want to do. Since then, I've stopped judging my career by these metrics. I'm doing what I do to stand up for science and to do the right thing.'
She remains optimistic that science will recover its equilibrium, and that the quasi-McCarthyite tide will recede: 'I think that by 2030, temperatures will not have increased all that much. Maybe then there will be the funding to do the kind of research on natural variability that we need, to get the climate community motivated to look at things like the solar-climate connection.' She even hopes that rational argument will find a place in the UN: 'Maybe, too, there will be a closer interaction between the scientists, the economists and policymakers. Wouldn't that be great?'
David Rose writes for the Mail on Sunday.
TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy - Russia ready to consider steps to close Turkish-Syrian border '-- Lavrov
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:11
MOSCOW, November 25. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has described as correct the offer of French President Francois Hollande to take steps to close the Syrian-Turkish border. He said as much while talking to reporters on Wednesday.
"Going back to the news conference of Presidents of France and the United States Francois Hollande and Barack Obama in Washington, I noticed that the French president suggested taking steps to close the Turkish-Syrian border to stop both the flow of militants and terrorist financing," the Russian minister said. "It is significant that President Obama did not respond to this in any way, but I think it's the right suggestion."
"I hope that President Hollande will brief us on the issue tomorrow (during the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin)," the Russian foreign minister said. "We would be ready to seriously consider the steps necessary for this."
"Many say that, by closing this border, we will effectively curb the terrorist threat in Syria," Lavrov added.
Theatre director's magic wand turns Sleeping Beauty into a prince | Stage | The Guardian
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:08
Kezrena James (Deylan) and David Emmings (Prince Percy) in Sleeping Beauty. Photograph: Steve Tanner
It is the classic fairytale that has fired the imaginations of generations of young girls. But audiences at the Bristol Old Vic are about to see Sleeping Beauty as rarely seen before. Theatre director Sally Cookson, feted for her stripped-down National Theatre version of Jane Eyre, has turned the princess into a prince named Percy.
Children who expect to see a supine heroine in a sparkly dress, awakened by a kiss from Prince Charming, will be surprised at this most brazen of gender reversals. But Cookson is unrepentant. ''I am sorry if there might be some children or, more likely, parents who think that is not how it is meant to be,'' she said. ''But every time a fairytale is retold we cannot help but adapt it in line with our ideology, regardless of whether that is a conscious plan. In the Grimm version, for instance, the story finishes as Beauty wakes up, but a lot of the other versions have a difficult second part.''
Cookson's Sleeping Beauty is the latest production to tackle the portrayal of gender in popular entertainment. Gender-blind casting has gained wider acceptance, with Maxine Peake playing Hamlet in Manchester this summer and women taking the roles of soldiers and diplomats in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Henry V and in the recent staging of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Trans actors are also finally being cast in television roles, and Cumberbatch and fellow actor Eddie Redmayne have both been called on to defend their decisions to portray transgender characters in the new films Zoolander 2 and The Danish Girl.
For Cookson, retelling Sleeping Beauty was the perfect chance to undermine a formula that has even given its name to a damaging female mindset, the ''sleeping beauty complex''. ''Everyone thinks they know Sleeping Beauty,'' she said, ''but we usually only get half the story. We might be familiar with versions by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, or even the one retold by the 20th-century Italian writer Italo Calvino, but there have been versions of it told for centuries and every time it gets slightly changed. At the Old Vic we are just appropriating it, as others have done.
A scene from the Bristol Old Vic production of Sleeping Beauty.''I am very attracted to fairytales and I wanted a title people would recognise,'' she said. ''I was also drawn to a Welsh folk tale by Abram Woods called The Leaves that Hung but Never Grew.
''We took its heroine, Deylan, and made our sleeping figure a boy. When she finds him, Deylan thinks he is unconscious and gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive him.'' In Calvino's version, said Cookson, the princess did not wake up with the prince's kiss. ''Instead he ends up impregnating her and she has twins! She only wakes up when the second child tries to suckle and ends up sucking out a poisoned thorn from her thumb instead.''
This version, in which Beauty is ''passive in every way'', also features a violent ogress mother-in-law who chases the princess. ''Of course, we did not want to use this in a family Christmas show!'' said Cookson. ''What we wanted was a proactive, feisty heroine. Many of these earlier versions were recorded by men, so had heroines who were really so passive it is just not healthy.
''Our fairytale heroine is able to save herself and other people along the way. Both the hero and the heroine in our story can be vulnerable and brave. We don't pigeonhole them, although our prince, Percy, has been rather pampered and protected.''
Powerful female characters retained from earlier versions include the wicked fairy and the gift-bestowing fairy godmothers, reimagined as a bunch of wise members of the Women's Institute.
Cookson does promise the warm glow of a traditional Christmas show, however: ''I was brought up on panto. One of my most potent experiences at the age of five was seeing a show with a fairy godmother who had the most sparkly wand. I was convinced it was magic.''
Her Sleeping Beauty might lack glitter but there would be an ''inner sparkliness'', she said.
The Bristol Old Vic's artistic director, Tom Morris, invited Cookson to return to create a Christmas show following her critical success there with Jane Eyre last year and with bold adaptations of Treasure Island and Peter Pan.
'Sleeping Beautyis at the Bristol Old Vic until 17 January
Maxine Peake as Hamlet in Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre. Photograph: Jonathan Keenan
Teenage prostitutes in Greece sell sex for the price of a sandwich | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 19:05
By Tom Wyke for MailOnline
Published: 06:45 EST, 28 November 2015 | Updated: 11:43 EST, 28 November 2015
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Greece's crippling debt crisis has meant that more women in the European country are selling sex with prices tumbling as low as the cost of a sandwich.
A new report reveals that more Greek women than Eastern European women are working as prostitutes in Greece following the difficult years of austerity.
'Some women just do it for a cheese pie, or a sandwich they need to eat because they are hungry,' claims the report's author, sociology professor Gregory Lazos at the Panteion University, Athens.
'Some women just do it for a cheese pie, or a sandwich they need to eat because they are hungry,' claims sociology professor Gregory Lazos at the Panteion University, Athens
Professor Lazos said that his study, which records the cases of 18,500 sex workers in Greece, 'reflects a society in denial about the changes taking place.'
The going rate for sex has fallen from '‚¬50 (£35) at the beginning of the crisis, to as low as just '‚¬2 for a single session, Professor Lazos toldThe Times.
The academic carried out the three year piece of academic research, having previously written about trafficking and sexual values in Greece.
'These cases '-- about 400 '-- may be nominal compared with the thousands of other sex workers operating nationwide, but they never existed as a trend until the financial crisis,' he said.
Greek prostitutes argue during a protest held by more than 50 prostitutes in front of a brothel in Athens 04 August 2003. Athens municipality had threatened to shut down at least 15 brothels for being too close to churches and schools
Greece's crippled debt crisis has meant that more women in the European country are selling sex with prices tumbling as low as the cost of a sandwich
Prostitution is legal in Greece and with the fall in wages and rising unemployment, the industry has been growing rapidly.
'Factor in the growing number of girls who drift in and out of the trade, depending on their needs, and the total number of female prostitutes is startling,' Mr Lazos said.
The Greek academic's findings suggest that Greek women now dominate 80 per cent of the sex trade industry, which has become a '‚¬600 million business.
In 2003, over 150 prostitutes in Greece staged a vigil outside a brothel in protest to proposed changes to prostitution laws ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games.
The Greek government had tried to shut down a number of brothels after they were found to be located close to schools and churches.
Only ten of the estimated 525 brothels in Greece are thought to be operating with a legal license.
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Trypophobia Is A Real, Terrifying Thing, And You Definitely Have It
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 01:03
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1. Trypophobia is the fear of objects with small'...(If this title card from the movie Holes grosses you out, you should probably just stop scrolling now.)
ID: 1627009
2. Lots of things can trigger trypophobia. Like condensation on a bottle.ID: 1626992
3. How are you doing? Still feeling pretty good? How's this picture of a honeycomb sit with you?ID: 1626994
4. Let's ease into this a bit. Here's some coral. Feel anything?ID: 1626998
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13. Or at someone's knees right after they've been kneeling on frozen peas for a while?ID: 1627099
14. Ever hear of a lotus pod? It looks like this:ID: 1626993
15. And here's a lotus pod PHOTOSHOPPED ONTO SOMEONE'S TONGUE!ID: 1627100
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18. You made it! Here's a picture of a cute puppy to help you forget all those upsetting pictures.ID: 1630047
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Robert Dear, Suspect in Colorado Killings, 'Preferred to Be Left Alone' - NYTimes.com
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 07:05
HARTSEL, Colo. '-- Robert L. Dear Jr. was a man who lived off the grid.
On this lonely, snow-covered patch of land in a hamlet ringed by the Rocky Mountains, his home was a white trailer, with a forest-green four-wheeler by the front door and a modest black cross painted on one end.
As police officers surrounded it on Saturday, looking for clues to what they said had sent its owner on a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood center that left three dead and nine wounded, neighbors said they barely knew him, beyond one man's memory of his handing out anti-Obama political pamphlets.
Van Wands, 58, whose wife owns a local saloon, said there were two types of people in the area: the old-timers who put effort into getting to know their neighbors, and the newcomers who wished for solitude. Mr. Dear, he said, fell solidly into the second category.
Robert L. Dear Jr. wanted ''to be left alone,'' a neighbor said.
El Paso County Sheriff's Office
''That'd be one that preferred to be left alone,'' he said.
A day after the shooting, a portrait emerged of a man with a sporadic record of brushes with the law, neighbors and relatives. In 1997, Mr. Dear's wife at the time reported to the police that he had locked her out of her home and pushed her out of a window when she tried to climb back in. In 2002, he was arrested after a neighbor complained that he hid in bushes and tried to peer into her house. An online personal ad believed to be posted by Mr. Dear sought partners for sadomasochistic sex.
With Colorado Springs residents telling chilling tales of hours spent hiding in stores near the shootout on Friday, the authorities shed no light publicly on whether they believed Mr. Dear, 57, had deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood. But one senior law enforcement official, who would speak only anonymously about an ongoing investigation, said that after Mr. Dear was arrested, he had said ''no more baby parts'' in a rambling interview with the authorities.
The official said that Mr. Dear ''said a lot of things'' during his interview, making it difficult for the authorities to pinpoint a specific motivation.
In Washington, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement that the shooting was ''not only a crime against the Colorado Springs community, but a crime against women receiving health care services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people. It was also an assault on the rule of law, and an attack on all Americans' right to safety and security.''
Senior Justice Department officials were looking into whether to move forward with a federal case. Along with examining whether Mr. Dear could be charged with a hate crime, officials were exploring whether he may have violated federal laws intended to protect abortion clinics. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to use physical force against patients and clinic employees.
President Obama on Saturday again called on America to tackle gun violence. ''This is not normal,'' he said in a statement. ''We can't let it become normal. If we truly care about this '-- if we're going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience '-- then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.''
Mr. Dear, who had surrendered to the police on Friday evening, remained in custody without bond at the El Paso County criminal justice center. Law enforcement records and interviews began to paint a portrait of an itinerant loner who left behind a trail of disputes and occasionally violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.
His former wife, Pamela Ross, 54, who was with him for 16 years or so and once called the police to accuse him of domestic violence, recalled that Mr. Dear could be angry at times, sometimes with her. But he was the kind who usually followed a flash of anger with an apology, though he was not much for chitchat.
He was an independent art dealer with a degree in public administration from a Midwestern college, she said, who struck deals with artists, mostly Southern ones, who painted Charleston, S.C., street scenes, Old South plantation tableaus, magnolias and pictures of the Citadel campus. He tended to buy the rights to paintings, commission 1,000 or so prints, then market and sell the prints and keep the proceeds.
He was born in Charleston and grew up in Louisville, Ky., but he had strong ties to South Carolina. His father was a graduate of the Citadel, Charleston's famous public military college. Robert Lewis Dear Sr., the father, died in 2004. He was a Navy veteran who served in World War II and worked 40 years for the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.
The younger Mr. Dear was raised as a Baptist, Ms. Ross said in an interview in Goose Creek, S.C., where she now lives. He was religious but not a regular churchgoer, a believer but not one to harp on religion. ''He believed wholeheartedly in the Bible,'' she said. ''That's what he always said; he read it cover to cover to cover.'' But he was not fixated on it, she added.
He was generally conservative, but not obsessed with politics. He kept guns around the house for personal protection and hunting, and he taught their son to hunt doves, as many Southern fathers do. He believed that abortion was wrong, but it was not something that he spoke about much. ''It was never really a topic of discussion,'' she said.
''It never, ever, ever, ever crossed my mind,'' she said, that he would be capable of such a thing. ''My heart just fell to my stomach.''
Ms. Ross divorced Mr. Dear in 2000. She has since remarried and has seen him only once or twice in 15 years. Their divorce was amicable, and he moved away shortly thereafter, to the Asheville, N.C., region. After the divorce, Mr. Dear had asked her to stay. He eventually took custody of their son, who was 12 at the time. Mr. Dear raised him in North Carolina. Ms. Ross said she had been confident that he would be a good parent and male role model.
She acknowledged that she had once called the police about him but declined to talk about it.
A police incident report shows that in 1997, she told the police that he had locked her out of her home and had ''hit her and pushed her out the window'' when she tried to climb in. He also shoved her to the ground. The report said she did not want to file charges, but simply ''wanted something on record of this incident occurring.''
After his divorce, Mr. Dear lived in a succession of trailer homes and cabins, where he appeared to stir resentments among neighbors and lash out at people around him, according to police reports. Some former neighbors said they were not surprised by the violence in Colorado Springs.
In Swannanoa, N.C., where Mr. Dear had lived for a time in a single-wide trailer, a novelist, Leland Davis, said he had repeatedly been followed by Mr. Dear in a late-model Toyota Tacoma. Mr. Davis believed that Mr. Dear had followed him because he suspected that Mr. Davis had complained to the authorities about how Mr. Dear treated a dog. The men never spoke, Mr. Davis said in an interview in his home Saturday night, but Mr. Dear had mounted something of a scare campaign.
''He followed me all the way into downtown Asheville,'' Mr. Davis said. ''He followed me three or four times.''
Mr. Davis said he was unsurprised to see Mr. Dear, whom he described as ''a pretty poorly adjusted guy,'' emerge as the suspect in the Colorado shooting.
''I think I would have thought he was a guy who would go on a rampage,'' he said. ''We were very wary.''
In Black Mountain, N.C., Mr. Dear had sometimes lived in a small yellow house reachable only after miles of driving on mountain roads. Two sticks, forming a cross, were attached to a padlocked shed that was filled with bedding, gas canisters and worn boxes of beer. He bought the house without running water.
Scott Rupp, who sold it to him, worried about whether Mr. Dear would fit in the community, which was populated by ''environmental types,'' he said.
''He was like a mountain culture person,'' Mr. Rupp said, ''and he was really excited to get a place where he could hunt.''
In 2002, in Walterboro, S.C., Mr. Dear was arrested on charges of breaking the state's ''Peeping Tom'' law after a neighbor told the police that he had hidden in the bushes in an attempt to peer into her house. For months, the neighbor, Lynn Roberts, said, Mr. Dear was ''making unwanted advancements'' and ''leering'' at her on a regular basis, putting her ''in fear of her safety,'' according to an incident report.
The charge was later dismissed, but a restraining order was issued.
He also repeatedly had other run-ins with neighbors. One, Douglas Moore, said Mr. Dear had called him to threaten ''bodily harm'' because Mr. Dear believed Mr. Moore had pushed over his motorcycle, according to a police report in 2004. Two years earlier, after Mr. Moore called the police to report his dog's being shot with a pellet gun, Mr. Dear told investigators, ''Douglas was lucky that it was only a pellet that hit the dog and not a bigger round.''
Mr. Dear himself called the police several times to complain of people making a nuisance or breaking a water pipe from his well to his home. In 2007, he accused tenants who were renting his home of stealing a pickup truck, refrigerator and microwave.
He seemed to have a separate life online. An online personals ad seeking women in North Carolina interested in bondage and sadomasochistic sex showed a picture that appeared to be Mr. Dear and used an online pseudonym associated with him. The same user also appeared to have turned to online message boards to seek companions in the Asheville area with whom he could smoke marijuana.
On Cannabis.com, the writer said in December 2005: ''AIDS, hurricanes, we are in the end times. Accept the LORD JESUS while you can.''
In his new home in the Rocky Mountains, where he had been registered to vote for only a year, neighbors said they did not know Mr. Dear well. Zigmond Post, who lives about a half-mile from Mr. Dear, said that he had met him only a few times, but that his dogs had once gotten loose on Mr. Dear's property. When he went to fetch them, Mr. Dear handed him a few pamphlets strongly critical of Mr. Obama. Mr. Post said the pamphlets were strictly political and did not have any anti-abortion messages or racist overtones.
''He gave us these pamphlets and said, 'Hey, if you ever want to talk about this stuff, look this over,' '' Mr. Post said in a telephone interview. ''I think we threw them into the campfire that night.''
Julie Turkewitz reported from Hartsel, Richard Fausset from Goose Creek, S.C., Alan Blinder from Black Mountain, N.C., and Benjamin Mueller from New York. Jack Healy, Dave Philipps and Kassondra Cloos contributed reporting from Colorado Springs; Michael S. Schmidt from Washington; and Ashley Southall, Liam Stack, Mike McIntire and Jack Begg from New York.
Tulsi Gabbard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 05:47
Tulsi Gabbard (born April 12, 1981) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has been the United States Representative for Hawaii's second congressional district since 2013. She is also a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.[2] Elected in 2012, she is the first American Samoan[3] and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress,[4] and, along with Tammy Duckworth, one of its first female combat veterans.[5]
Gabbard previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004, becoming the youngest woman in the United States to be elected to a state legislature at the time.[6] She returned to the United States in 2006 and worked for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, then volunteering for another deployment to the Middle East in 2009. After returning to Hawaii, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council, where she served from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, she ran for the open second congressional district and won the primary with 55%, scoring an upset win over former Honolulu MayorMufi Hannemann. She won the general election with 81% of the vote and in the House of Representatives, she serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. She is also currently a Military Police company commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard.
During the early part of her political career, Gabbard used her married name Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo.
Early life and education[edit]Tulsi Gabbard was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children of Mike Gabbard and Carol Porter Gabbard. Her family moved to Hawaii in 1983 when Gabbard was two. Gabbard grew up in a multicultural, multi-religious household. Her father is of Samoan/European heritage and is a practicing Catholic who is a lector at his church, but also enjoys practicing mantra meditation, including kirtan.[7] Her mother is of Euro-American descent and a practicing Hindu.[7] Tulsi fully embraced Hinduism as a teenager.[7] Her siblings' names are Bhakti, Jai, Aryan and Vrindavan.[8]
Gabbard was homeschooled through high school, except for two years she attended a girls-only missionary academy in the Philippines.[9] Gabbard graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in international business in 2009.[10][11][12]
Hawaii House of Representatives (2002''2004)[edit]Elections[edit]In 2002, after a redistricting, Gabbard (as Gabbard Tamayo) ran for Hawaii's 42nd House District of the Hawaii House of Representatives. In a four-candidate Democratic primary, she won with a plurality of 48%. She defeated Rida Cabanilla (30%), Dolfo Ramos (18%), and Gerald Vidal (4%).[13] Gabbard Tamayo won the general election, defeating Republican Alfonso Jimenez 65%''35%.[14]
In 2004, Gabbard Tamayo filed for re-election, but then volunteered for Army National Guard service in Iraq. Cabanilla, who filed for a rematch, called on the incumbent to resign, because she would not be able to represent her district from Iraq.[15] Gabbard Tamayo thus decided not to campaign for a second term.[16] Cabanilla defeated Gabbard Tamayo in the Democratic primary 64%''25%.[17]
Tenure[edit]In 2002, at the age of 21, Gabbard Tamayo became the youngest legislator ever elected in the history of Hawaii and the youngest woman elected to state office in the nation.[6][18] She represented the Oahu 42nd District, which covers Waipahu, Honouliuli, and Ewa Beach.
She played a key role, along with her Ewa colleagues, in securing funding for infrastructure on the Ewa Plains.[12]
During her tenure Gabbard strongly supported legislation to promote clean energy. She supported legislation to expand tax credits for solar and wind, improve the net energy metering program, establish renewable energy portfolio standards, reduce taxes on the sale of ethanol and biofuels, provide funding for a seawater air conditioning project and make it easier for condo/townhouse owners to get solar.[19]
Regarding the environment, Gabbard supported legislation to better protect air quality, the water supply, endangered species & avian/marine life, fight invasive species, reduce greenhouse gases, promote recycling of food waste & packaging, improve the Deposit Beverage Container Program (bottle law), and reduce illegal dumping.[19]
She opposed LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and civil unions. When voting against legalizing civil unions, she stated: "To try to act as if there is a difference between 'civil unions' and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii who have already made overwhelmingly clear our position on this issue.... As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists." In August 2004, she defended her then-Republican father's anti-LGBT work, and called supporters of U.S. Congressman Ed Case "homosexual extremists".[20][21]
Committee assignments[edit]Economic DevelopmentEducationHigher EducationTourismMilitary service (2004''present)[edit]In April 2003, while serving in office, Gabbard Tamayo enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[22] She received several distinguished honor graduate titles and awards at Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.[citation needed]
In July 2004, Gabbard Tamayo asked to deploy with her Hawaii Army National Guard unit, volunteering for a 12-month tour in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company.[23] She learned that she would not be able to serve with her unit and perform her duties as a legislator, and thus chose not to campaign for a second term in office.[16][24] Gabbard served at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq.[25] While on a rest-and-relaxation tour in August 2005, she presented Hawaii's condolences to the government of London regarding the 7/7 terrorist attacks.[23] She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.[citation needed]
Upon her return from Iraq in 2006, Gabbard Tamayo began serving as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, DC.[26] She was responsible for issues involving veteran affairs, energy and natural resources, judiciary, and homeland security. She served as a surrogate speaker for Senator Akaka on many occasions, and built a grassroots network with the veteran community in Hawaii.[citation needed]
While working for the Senator, Gabbard Tamayo graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy in March 2007.[27] She was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy's 50-year history.[6][26] She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and assigned again to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawaii Army National Guard, this time to serve as the Military PolicePlatoon Leader.[28]
She continued to work for Senator Akaka until 2009, when she again voluntarily deployed with her unit to the Middle East. During this second deployment, in addition to leading her platoon on a wide variety of security missions, she also conducted non-military host-nation visits and served as a primary trainer for the Kuwait National Guard.[citation needed] She was one of the first women to set foot inside a Kuwait military facility,[citation needed] and became the first woman to ever to be awarded and honored by the Kuwait National Guard[29] for her work in their training and readiness program.[citation needed]
In May 2010, Gabbard Tamayo (as Tulsi Tamayo) was one of thirty finalists for a White House Fellowship[30] and one of three finalists from Hawaii,[31] although she was not selected as a fellow.[32]
In June 2011, Gabbard visited Indonesia[33] as part of a peacekeeping training with the Indonesian Army.
On October 12, 2015 Captain Gabbard was promoted to Major at a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Former Senator Daniel Akaka administered the oath of office to the new Major.[35][36]
According to her official U.S. House of Representatives Full Biography, Representative Gabbard continues to serve as a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[37]
Honolulu City Council (2011''2012)[edit]Elections[edit]After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Gabbard Tamayo ran for a seat on the Honolulu City Council.[38] Incumbent City Councilman Rod Tam, of the 6th district, decided to retire in order to run for Mayor of Honolulu. In a ten candidate nonpartisan open primary field in September 2010, Gabbard Tamayo ranked first with 33% of the vote.[39] In the November 2 runoff election, she defeated Sesnita Moepono 58%''42% to win the seat.[40]
Tenure[edit]In her capacity as committee chair, Gabbard Tamayo took the lead on many issues such as medical waste, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), dengue fever, and creating new economic opportunities through Honolulu's first Sister City Summit.[citation needed] As a Council member, Gabbard Tamayo introduced a measure to help food truck vendors by loosening parking restrictions.[41]
She also introduced Bill 54,[42] a measure that authorized City workers to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property.[43] The measure overcame opposition from the ACLU[44] and Occupy Hawai'i,[45] and a potential conflict with Hawaii's constitutional law, Kānāwai Māmalahoe, which protects "those who sleep by the roadside". Bill 54 passed[45] and became City Ordinance 1129.
On April 30, 2011, the council member informed her constituents that she was resuming the use of her birth name, "Tulsi Gabbard", and that there would be no cost to city taxpayers for reprinting City Council materials containing her name.[46]
Gabbard resigned her council seat on August 16, 2012, to focus on her congressional seat bid.[47]
Committee assignments[edit]Safety (Chair)Economic Development (Chair)Government Affairs (Chair)Budget (Vice Chair)Zoning and Public WorksUnited States House of Representatives (2013''present)[edit]Elections[edit]2012In early 2011, Mazie Hirono, the incumbent Congresswoman in Hawaii's second congressional district, announced that she would run for a U.S. Senate seat. Soon after that, in May 2011, Gabbard announced her candidacy for the congressional seat.[48] Gabbard was endorsed by the Sierra Club,[49]Emily's List,[50] and VoteVets.org.[51] The biggest name by far in the crowded six-way primary was Honolulu MayorMufi Hannemann. However, Gabbard won the August 11 primary in a major upset, taking 55 percent of the vote. Hannemann finished second with only 34 percent. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser described her win as the "improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory".[52] She then announced on August 13 that she would resign her seat on the City Council, stating that she wanted to prevent the cost of a separate special election,[53] and resigned on August 16.[54]
As the Democratic nominee, Gabbard traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[55] There, she credited grassroots support as the reason for her come-from-behind win in the primary.[56]
Gabbard won the general election on November 6, 2012, by defeating Republican Kawika Crowley 81% to 19%.[57] However, the 2nd is so heavily Democratic that she had effectively clinched the seat with her primary victory.
2014In December 2012, Gabbard applied to be considered for appointment to the Senate seat vacated by the death of Daniel Inouye,[58] but despite support from prominent mainland Democrats,[59][60] she was not among the three candidates selected by the Hawaii Democratic party.[61]
Committee assignments[edit]Non-profit organizations and associations[edit]Gabbard co-founded Healthy HawaiÊ>>i Coalition, an environmental educational group of which she is vice president and educational programs coordinator.[49][62] She is a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of the United States and the Military Police Regimental Association.[citation needed]
Gabbard was also a cofounder of the non-profit Stand Up For America,[63] which she and her father co-founded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[64] SUFA's site profiled Gabbard[65] and hosted letters from Gabbard sent during her deployments overseas.[66][67] The Stand Up For America site came under criticism in September 2010 for promoting Gabbard's campaign for the Honolulu City Council. Gabbard said the improper addition "was an honest mistake from a volunteer", and the problematic page and link were immediately removed.[63]
Political positions[edit]Abortion and contraception[edit]Gabbard is pro-choice.[68] On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, she stated her support for that decision and for affordable healthcare services "which can contribute to fewer unplanned and teen pregnancies".[69] She supports the Affordable Care Act's mandate that all health insurance provide contraception with no co-pay.[70] In a 2011 interview with the Honolulu Civil Beat, Gabbard said she disagreed with the Obama administration's decision to overrule the FDA in allowing girls under 17 to purchase Plan B without a prescription.[71]
Same-sex marriage[edit]Gabbard is opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act and to a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a woman and a man.[72] She had opposed same-sex marriage at one time[20] but after her tour of duty in the Middle East supported repeal of the DOMA and became a co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act after her election to Congress,[73] as she had promised to do during her campaign. She also asked Hawaii state legislators "to pass legislation that will ensure fair and equal treatment for all of Hawaii's citizens".[73]
She publicly supports reproductive choice and LGBT populations, saying that the government should not be the "moral arbiter" in people's lives.[20] She credits her tours of duty in the Middle East with triggering her change in views.[75]
It brought me to a deeper understanding of the meaning of freedom in our country.... We cannot afford to walk down that dangerous path of government overstepping its boundaries into the most personal parts of our lives.[29]Her father, Mike Gabbard, is a staunch anti-gay marriage Democrat (previously Republican) who is currently the State Senator for Hawaii's 19th District. The familial connection, and her previous stance,[20] initially caused voters to doubt the sincerity of her new support for LGBT causes.[75]
Defense[edit]Gabbard believes women should be allowed to serve in all military roles, including combat,[70] and praised the US Department of Defense for lifting its ban on women serving in ground combat roles.[76]
Although she served in the war in Iraq, she said in late 2012, "I was against the war in Iraq. We never should have gone there in the first place."[77] She calls for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan[78] "as quickly and safely as possible".[79] Rep. Gabbard believes that one problem with the United States' involvement in Iraq is that victory conditions have not been clearly defined.[80]
Gabbard received the endorsement of Equality Hawaii regarding her support for "equal rights for same-sex military spouses (following the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell)".[81]
Responding to the Obama Administration's policy on using drones in the United States, Gabbard stated, "these tactics should never be used against our own citizens here at home."[82] She said that she had
a first-hand perspective on the value of these counterterrorism tactics and strategies-- during a time of war overseas in enemy territory. And that being the appropriate place for them, not here on American soil.[83]However, her phrasing as a Representative, arguing, "drone strikes and other counter-terrorism tactics should not be targeting non-combatant U.S. citizens,"[82] has narrower language than her earlier statements[77] in favor of protecting the rights of all American citizens to due process.[84]
Environment[edit]On April 22, 2012, Gabbard received a Sierra Club endorsement in the Democratic primary election for Hawaii's District 2.[85] Gabbard favors tax incentives for renewable energy startups.[86]
Banking[edit]In her campaign materials and editorials, Gabbard calls for a restoration of the Glass Steagall Act,[87] a ban on naked credit defaults, and forced breakup of the "big banks".[88] She also condemned banks that foreclosed on the homes of deployed troops.[89]
Visa restrictions[edit]To encourage tourism,[86] Gabbard aims to relax "outdated"[90] visa restrictions for tourists, especially those originating in India and China.[7] She will also focus on H-1B visas and legal immigration issues.[7]
Native Hawaiians as indigenous people[edit]Gabbard supports the Akaka Bill, "believe[s] the U.S. government through an act of Congress should more formally recognize the special legal/political status of Native Hawaiians",[91] and supports Native Hawaiian health and education initiatives.[92]
Fiscal cliff and sequestration[edit]In opposing sequestration cuts, Gabbard has said that the cuts are being used as a "political tool"[93] and that the "arbitrary, across-the-board cuts" would affect military readiness.[94]
[edit]Gabbard is in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate with prescription drug firms, stating that, on average, that would save US taxpayers "around $14 billion a year".[83]
Personal life[edit]Gabbard's first name, "Tulsi", comes from the name of the holy basil, a plant sacred in Hinduism.[95] She is a vegetarian and a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[9] a religious movement brought to the United States in the 1960s by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada under the name ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), also known as the Hare Krishna movement. She especially appreciates the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide,[1] and used the Gita when she was ceremonially sworn in as a Representative.[96] Gabbard describes herself as a "karma yogi"[97] and credits her parents with instilling the value of "karma yoga" and being of service in her and her siblings.[28] As a Vaishnava, Gabbard looks forward to visiting India, especially the holy sites of Vrindavan, after starting her congressional term.[98]
Gabbard has said that she is pleased that her election gives hope to young American Hindus who "can be open about their faith, and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion".[99] In 2002, Gabbard was a martial arts instructor.[100]
Gabbard was married to Eduardo Tamayo;[46] they divorced on June 5, 2006.[101] She cites "the stresses war places on military spouses and families" as a reason for their divorce.[20] Tamayo donated $500 to Gabbard's House campaign.[102]
Gabbard called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was on a visit to New York on September 28, 2014, and presented him with a ginger flower garland from Hawaii.[103] She also gave her own copy of the Hindu Holy Book "Bhagavad Gita" (same copy that she used to take the Oath of Office) to Narendra Modi.[104]
Tulsi Gabbard accepted the marriage proposal of Abraham Williams in February 2015 and they married on April 9, 2015, in a Vedic-style wedding.[105]
Awards and honors[edit]On November 25, 2013, Rep. Gabbard was awarded the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award at a ceremony at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government for her efforts on behalf of veterans.[106]
On March 26, 2014, Elle honored Rep. Gabbard, with others, at the Italian Embassy in the United States during its annual "Women in Washington Power List".[107]
On February 10, 2015, Voices for National Service honored Rep. Gabbard with the Outstanding New Member Award for elevating national service as a first-term legislative priority.[108]
On February 25, 2015, the National Association of Counties (NACo) awarded Rep. Gabbard the 2015 NACo County Alumni Award for her "steadfast commitment to the nation's counties".[109]
On July 15, 2015, Rep. Gabbard was honored with the Friend of the National Parks Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.[110]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abSacirbey, Omar (November 2, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, Poised To Be Elected First Hindu In Congress". Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard wins seat in Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District". Pacific Business News. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012. ^"Faleomavaega congratulates Tulsi Gabbard as first Samoan woman elected to the U.S. Congress". Samoa News. November 30, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012. Congressman Faleomavaega has congratulated Tulsi Gabbard on her recent election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Gabbard will become the first Samoan-American congresswoman after her swearing in ceremony at the opening of the 113th Congress. ^"Hindu-American Tulsi Gabbard wins Democratic primary in Hawaii". The Economic Times. August 12, 2012. ^Huang, Cindy (November 12, 2012). "Meet Veteran, Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard". PBS. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^ abcWyler, Grace; Hickey, Walter (December 8, 2012). "12 Fascinating People Who Are Heading To Congress Next Year". Business Insider. Retrieved December 10, 2012. ^ abcdeHaniffa, Aziz (November 2, 2012). "'Concerns of Hindus are near to my heart'". India Abroad. Retrieved November 9, 2012. ^Mendoza, Jim (2013-01-31). "The Gabbards: Raising Hawaii's next political star (Part 1)". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 2014-10-03. ^ abMalhotra, Jawahar (November 1, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard's Run for Congress Carries with it Many Hindu Hearts". Retrieved June 16, 2014. ^Tulsi Gabbard (January 1, 2012). "The Unique, Historic, and Inspiring Life of Tulsi Gabbard". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved August 23, 2012. ^"Alumni News". HPU Alumni Newsletter (Hawaii Pacific University) (12): 23. 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2012. Congresswoman-elect Tulsi Gabbard (BSBA International Business 2009) ^ ab"Tulsi Gabbard". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved December 30, 2012. After being deployed to the Middle East for a second time in 2008, she returned to Hawaii to complete a degree in international business from Hawaii Pacific University. ^RBH. "HI State House 42 '' D Primary". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^Wishful Thinking. "HI State House 42". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^"Legislator called to active duty wants to keep seat". KPUA Hawaii News. 2004-08-17. Retrieved 2013-05-15. ^ abBlakeman, Karen (August 30, 2004). "Guard soldier Tamayo won't campaign". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^RBH. "HI State House 42 '' D Primary". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^Blake, Aaron; Sullivan, Sean (September 7, 2012). "The 10 Biggest Surprises of the Conventions". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2012. ^ ab"Hawaii State Legislature". Capitol.hawaii.gov. Retrieved 2014-08-10. ^ abcdeAdrienne LaFrance (January 17, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard's Leftward Journey '' Honolulu Civil Beat". Civilbeat.com. Retrieved 2013-05-15. ^"Who is Mike Gabbard? '' Honolulu Magazine '' August 2004 '' Hawaii". Honolulu. Retrieved 2013-05-15. ^Espanol, Zenaida Serrano (April 20, 2003). "State legislator 'honored' to serve country". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved August 1, 2010. ^ abGabbard Tamayo, Tulsi (August 8, 2005). "London visit makes loss clear". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^"Legislator headed for Iraq wants to keep her House seat". Honolulu Star Bulletin. August 17, 2004. ^Gabbard Tamayo, Tulsi (March 15, 2005). "Aloha invades Iraq compound". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^ ab"Akaka Staffer Graduates Army Officer Training at the Top of Class". March 13, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2010. She came to Senator Akaka's office last fall ... ^"Legislative Assistant Honored". Hawaii News Now. ^ abIsmail, Asif (September 15, 2012). "'Our family was raised with the important value of karma yoga', says Democrat Tulsi Gabbard". Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^ abGeiger, Kim (September 5, 2012). "Iraq veteran would be first Hindu in Congress". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 30, 2012. At 28, she was the first woman to be presented with an award by the Kuwait Army National Guard. ^Agular, Eloise (May 7, 2010). "Hawaii veteran a finalist for honor". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Announcing the 2010''2011 White House Fellows Regional Finalists". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^White House, Office of the Press Secretary (June 22, 2010). "White House Appoints 2010''2011 Class of White House Fellows" (Press release). whitehouse.gov. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Rick Hamada (June 24, 2011). "5 Questions with NEWSmaker Senator Mike Gabbard". HawaiiReporter. YouTube. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard promoted to Army major West Hawaii Today; Oct 13, 2015^PHOTOS: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Promoted from Captain to Major by HawaiÊ>>i Army National Guard House Office of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, October 13, 2015^"Tulsi Gabbard Full Biography". ^Gabbard Tamayo, Tulsi (July 6, 2010). "Hawaii Veteran Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo Runs for Honolulu City Council". Hawaii Reporter. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^eddy 9_99. "Honolulu Council 6". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^RBH. "Honolulu Council 6 '' Runoff". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^"Parking restrictions eased for food truck vendors". KHON2. April 3, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Leong, Jodi (December 8, 2011). "Honolulu Council Votes To Allow Property Removal From City Sidewalks: Measure Still Needs Mayor's Signature". KITV News. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Bill 54 '' Personal Belongings on Public Property". Our Honolulu. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Gluck, Daniel M. (December 7, 2011). "Testimony of the ACLU of Hawaii in Opposition to City & County of Honolulu Bill No. 54 (2011), Relating to Stored Property"(PDF). American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^ abWinpenny, Jamie (December 8, 2011). "All sides agree Bill 54 does little for Honolulu's 'homeless' problem". Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^ abGabbard, Tulsi. "On a Personal Note'...". Our Honolulu. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard Resigns from Honolulu City Council". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard announces candidacy for U.S. Congress". Retrieved February 17, 2013. ^ abHight, Courtney. "Victory in Hawaii! Tulsi Gabbard Wins On the Environment". Sierra Club Compass. Sierra Club Independent Action. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard". Emily's List. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^VoteVets.org PAC Endorses Tulsi Gabbard for Congress, VoteVets.org, January 23, 2012^Pang, Gordon Y.K. (August 11, 2012). "Gabbard Upsets Hanneman". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard Post Primary Election". KITV. August 13, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Sakahara, Tim (August 16, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard resigns, open seat generates interest". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Tulsi Gabbard (2012-09-04). Watch: Tulsi Gabbard speaks at DNC. Charlotte, NC: KHON News Hawaii. ^Tulsi Gabbard, Suzanne Malveaux (2012-09-04). Tulsi Gabbard, one to watch at the DNC. Charlotte, NC: CNN. ^"Honolulu Star Advertiser General Election 2012 Results". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved November 9, 2012. ^Mangieri, Gina (December 24, 2012). "Candidacy soon weighed for Senate nominees (video: Tulsi Gabbard applying for Sen. Inouye's seat)". KHON2. Retrieved December 25, 2012. Among the last to apply: Tulsi Gabbard, who hasn't even been sworn in yet to her elected seat in the U.S. House. ^Weiner, Rachel (December 26, 2012). "Kal Penn backs Tulsi Gabbard for Inouye's seat". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2012. ^Celock, John (December 26, 2012). "Cory Booker Backs Tulsi Gabbard For Hawaii Senate Seat". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2012. ^Keoki Kerr; Rick Daysog (December 26, 2012). "Dems choose Hanabusa, Kiaaina, Schatz as finalists for Inouye Senate seat". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved December 30, 2012. ^"Contact Us". Healthy Hawai'i Coalition. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^ abEssoyan, Susan (September 5, 2010). "Rivals protest endorsement of Tamayo by her nonprofit". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"About Stand Up For America". Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Hawai'i Veteran Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo Returns Home to Serve". Stand Up For America. Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved November 19, 2012. It was a long year for us, but we are so proud of Tulsi and our other soldiers for what they accomplished in the Middle East. They played a part in making history in Iraq. They represented our state very well. They completed the mission, and came home. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the 29th BCT soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and freedom, and in our hearts, we share their pain. ^Gabbard Tamayo, Tulsi. "Tulsi Emails From Iraq". Stand Up For America. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved November 19, 2012. ^Gabbard Tamayo, Tulsi (August 8, 2005). "London Visit Makes Loss Clear". Stand Up For America. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved November 19, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Choice". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade" (Press release). Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. January 22, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013. Now more than ever, we must remain steadfast in our defense of a woman's right to choose. ^ abGabbard, Tulsi. "Stopping the Attack on Women's Rights". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2014. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Could Hawaii's 2nd District Go From Most Liberal to Most Conservative?". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved January 17, 2015. ^Gutierrez, Ben (July 8, 2012). "Hannemann, Gabbard trade jabs in Congressional debate". Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^ ab"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on Same-Sex Marriage" (Press release). Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. January 30, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2015. ^ abWeems, Mickey (July 5, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard's Moment of Truth". Expression Magazine. Retrieved November 11, 2012. [dead link]^"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on Defense Department Allowing Female Troops in Ground Combat" (Press release). Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. January 23, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013. This decision by the Department of Defense is an overdue, yet welcome change, which I strongly support. ^ abLetman, Jon (November 5, 2012). "The Cost of War: An Interview With Hawaii Congressional Candidate and Veteran Tulsi Gabbard". Truthout. Retrieved December 26, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi (May 19, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard Calls For End to War in Afghanistan". VoteTulsi. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Bring Our Troops Home". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Schultheis, Emily (March 17, 2013). "Gates, Gabbard, Cotton reflect on Iraq war". Retrieved March 18, 2013. ^Blair, Chad (June 21, 2012). "More Endorsements, This Time From Equality Hawaii". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^ ab"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on the Administration's Drone Policy" (Press release). Retrieved March 18, 2013. ^ ab"Transcripts on Meet the Press: March 10: Tim Kaine, Tom Coburn, Cory Gardner, Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Scarborough, Ruth Marcus, Dee Dee Myers, Marsha Blackburn, Steve Schmidt, Jeb Bush March 10: Tim Kaine, Tom Coburn, Cory Gardner, Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Scarborough, Ruth Marcus, Dee Dee Myers, Marsha Blackburn, Steve Schmidt, Jeb Bush". NBC News. March 10, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2013. ^Pignataro, Anthony (March 12, 2013). "UPDATED: What's Hawaii Democratic Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard Up To In Washington These Days?". Maui Time Weekly. Retrieved March 18, 2013. [dead link]^Gutierrez, Ben (April 22, 2012). "Sierra Club endorses Hirono, Hanabusa, Gabbard in federal races". Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^ abGabbard, Tulsi. "Tourism, Renewable Energy, and Agriculture'--Foundations for HawaiÊ>>i's Economy". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Reform Banking". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Time for Fairness to Replace Recklessness on Wall Street". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Banks Sink to New Low by Foreclosing on Deployed Troops". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2012. ^"Tulsi on Jobs and Economy". Tulsi Gabbard. July 20, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012. Strengthen the tourism industry by relaxing outdated visa restrictions ^Gabbard, Tulsi. "Native Hawaiian Issues". Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved November 20, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard: 2012 Candidate for U.S. Representative District 2". The Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Retrieved November 20, 2012. ^"Guard Lawmakers Address Legislative Workshop: NGAUS Washington Report". National Guard Association of the United States. February 12, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013. Gabbard, a captain in the Hawaii National Guard, told about 100 legislative action officers from around the Guard and industry representatives that sequestration is still up in the air. She said it was being used by some as a 'political tool.' ^"VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Delivers House Floor Remarks on Sequestration Impact for Hawaii" (Press release). February 13, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013. ^Yes, the same plant. Tulsi Gabbard on Twitter. 02-18-2012.^Kaleem, Jaweed (January 4, 2013). "Tulsi Gabbard, First Hindu In Congress, Uses Bhagavad Gita At Swearing-In". ^Kumar, Rishi (October 10, 2012). "The Indian American Contenders". India Currents. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^"Hindu-American Tulsi Gabbard wins Democratic Primary in Hawaii". August 12, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^Kumar, Arun (November 7, 2012). "Tulsi Gabbard becomes first Hindu-American in US Congress". NewsTrack India. IANS. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^Toth, Catherine E. (September 13, 2002). "'Ewa candidates talk traffic". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^Eduardo Sangco Tamayo v. Tulasi G. Tamayo (''Divorce Decree 06/05/2006''). Text^"Eduardo Tamayo's Contributions to Political Committees". Contributions Arranged By Type And Recipient. Federal Election Commission. Retrieved November 12, 2012. ^"Tulsi Gabbard, US Congresswoman calls on Modi". Retrieved September 29, 2014. ^"Narendra Modi gets Gita as gift from US lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard". Retrieved September 29, 2014. ^"Quiet, low-key approach to love suits congresswoman just fine". ^Smith, Dave. "Gabbard Presented with Kennedy New Frontier Award". BigIslandNow.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015. ^Watters, Susan (March 28, 2014). "Gucci and Elle Honor Women in Washington Power List". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved March 28, 2014. ^"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Outstanding New Member Award 2015". YouTube.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015. ^"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honored By The National Association Of Counties". Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Retrieved August 17, 2015. ^"Rep. Gabbard Honored for Support of National Parks". MauiNow.com. July 17, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015. External links[edit]
Norway runs anti-refugee ads in Afghanistan - The Local
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 03:21
The ad has seen in the Afghanistan Times.
Ads from the Norwegian government are in Afghan newspapers this week warning that potential asylum seekers ''will be returned by force''.
Following in the footsteps of Scandinavian neighbour Denmark, Norway has published advertisements in foreign newspapers to discourage refugees and asylum seekers.
The Norwegian government placed ads in Afghanistan newspapers warning that ''immigration to Norway is strictly regulated''.
''Persons who do not qualify for a permit in Norway and whose applications are denied must return tot heir country of origin or country habitual residence. If you do not leave voluntarily, you will be returned by force,'' the ad, placed by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, reads.
The ads appeared on the front page of the English-language Afghanistan Times and the Dari-language Hasht-e-sub. The ad appeared in the Monday through Thursday editions of both newspapers and will also be published in Friday's edition of the latter.
The ad makes it clear that Afghans are unlikely to achieve refugee status in Norway.
''People from safe areas of Afghanistan or who have been granted residence in another country will have their application rejected and will be deported. People from areas that are not considered safe may be returned to other parts of Afghanistan,'' it reads.
The ad then details recent changes to asylum policy, including the cutting of benefits for people in refugee reception centres, the issuing of temporary residence permits and limits on family reunification.
Justice Minister Anders Anundsen told Aftenposten that the ads were meant to combat ''misperceptions''.
''It is often a challenge that people base their travel plans upon misperceptions of a country's asylum policies. There are many people who believe, for example, that they can travel to Norway and create a new life,'' he said.
Belgian Constituion Chnge for hate speech
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 03:16
Source :
Cible :
Statement by the President
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 22:34
Today I have signed into law S. 1356, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016." I vetoed an earlier version of this legislation that failed to authorize funding for our national defense in a fiscally responsible manner. As I noted at the time, my first and most important responsibility, as President and Commander in Chief, is keeping the American people safe. The bill that the Congress originally presented to me was not acceptable. In addition to authorizing inadequate funding for our military, it would have prevented a range of necessary military reforms. It included language that would reenact, and in some cases expand, restrictions concerning the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay that I have repeatedly argued are counterproductive in the fight against terrorism.
Following my veto of the previous bill, the Congress approved '‘'‘ and I have signed into law '‘'‘ the "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015," which revises discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 by providing significant relief from sequestration for both defense and non-defense priorities. The agreement in place helps ensure that relief from sequestration is paid for in a balanced way. The Congress has now revised the National Defense Authorization Act to incorporate these new funding changes and has altered the funding authorization provisions to which I objected. I am therefore signing this annual defense authorization legislation because it includes vital benefits for military personnel and their families, authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe, and important reforms to the military retirement system, as well as partial reforms to other military compensation programs. It also codifies key interrogation-related reforms from Executive Order 13491, which I strongly support.
I am, however, deeply disappointed that the Congress has again failed to take productive action toward closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. Maintaining this site, year after year, is not consistent with our interests as a Nation and undermines our standing in the world. As I have said before, the continued operation of this facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists. It is imperative that we take responsible steps to reduce the population at this facility to the greatest extent possible and close the facility. The population once held at Guantanamo has now been reduced by over 85 percent. Over the past 24 months alone, we have transferred 57 detainees, and our efforts to transfer additional detainees continue. It is long past time for the Congress to lift the restrictions it has imposed and to work with my Administration to responsibly and safely close the facility, bringing this chapter of our history to a close.
The restrictions contained in this bill concerning the detention facility at Guantanamo are, as I have said in the past, unwarranted and counterproductive. Rather than taking steps to close the facility, this bill aims to extend its operation. Section 1032 renews the bar against using appropriated funds to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense unless authorized by the Congress. Section 1031 also renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. Sections 1033 and 1034 impose additional restrictions on foreign transfers of detainees '‘'‘ in some cases purporting to bar such transfers entirely. As I have said repeatedly, the executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to the detainees who remain at Guantanamo, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy.
Under certain circumstances, the provisions in this bill concerning detainee transfers would violate constitutional separation of powers principles. Additionally, section 1033 could in some circumstances interfere with the ability to transfer a detainee who has been granted a writ of habeas corpus. In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of detainees in sections 1031, 1033, and 1034 operate in a manner that violates these constitutional principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.
Finally, I am also disappointed that the Congress failed to enact meaningful reforms to divest unneeded force structure, reduce wasteful overhead, and modernize military healthcare. These reforms are essential to maintaining a strong national defense over the long term. My Administration looks forward to continuing its work with the Congress on these important issues.
FACT SHEET: U.S. Assistance to the Western Balkans
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 22:34
For Immediate Release
November 25, 2015
In Fiscal Year 2015, the United States has allocated more than $134 million for assistance to support the reforms needed to advance the Western Balkans' integration with the European Union (EU) and NATO. This includes assistance to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, as well as security assistance to Croatia and Slovenia. U.S. assistance to the Western Balkans seeks to achieve the following objectives:
Accelerate rule of law and good governance reforms ($34 million);Help professionalize law enforcement, improve border security, strengthen strategic trade controls, complete demining and destroy small weapons ($25 million);Support civil society, political processes, independent media, and investigative reporting to strengthen implementation of anti-corruption laws and institutions ($13 million);Improve competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises and expand trade within the region and with Europe ($22 million);Support the EU reform initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (included in the amounts listed above);Promote conflict mitigation and reconciliation ($4 million);Integrate the region into Europe's energy networks by spurring regulatory and policy reforms, increasing access to finance for renewable energy, and reducing emissions ($5 million);Help NATO aspirants/new members fulfill NATO requirements and increase interoperability, develop expeditionary capabilities and participate in coalition and peacekeeping operations ($28 million, including Croatia and Slovenia);Strengthen vocational education and promote increased access to higher education ($3 million);Support the implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue agreements, including the integration of the North into Kosovo's justice system and economy (included in amounts listed above); andCounter extremist messaging and help implement counter-terrorism legislation against foreign fighters (budgeted centrally, not included in the $134 million total listed above).
Press Call Briefing on the Paris Climate Change Summit
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 19:07
PRESS CALLBY BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISORFOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONSAND PAUL BODNAR, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGEON THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO PARIS, FRANCE
Via Conference Call
1:37 P.M. EST
MR. PRICE: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining this call. We wanted to convene it to discuss what you can expect early next week as the President goes to Paris for the climate summit. This call is on the record, but it is embargoed until the conclusion of the call. We have today two senior administration officials. We have Ben Rhodes, who is the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, and we also have from the NSC, Paul Bodnar, who is the Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change.
So, again, this call is on the record, but it is embargoed until the conclusion. And with that, I'll turn it over to Ben Rhodes.
MR. RHODES: Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call. I'll just start by giving you an overview of the President's schedule. First, I'd just note that the pursuit of an international effort to combat climate change has been a hallmark of the President's foreign policy and international engagement.
Of course, at the center of our effort to combat climate change is our own domestic Climate Action Plan. But in his international engagements, the President has worked hard to secure commitments from other countries with respect to reducing their emissions, and also supporting a Green Climate Fund that can facilitate the type of development that allows us to combat climate change while also allowing countries to continue to lift people out of poverty.
He, of course, is focused on the other major economies in much of his efforts to include achieving the agreement with China last year, related to their efforts to combat the rise of emissions, and support an ambitious outcome here in Paris. He's also worked with countries as varied as Brazil and India and others to secure their support for an ambitious agreement heading into Paris. And of course, this was a focus of his recent trip to Asia, where we're going to need to secure the cooperation of many countries at various stages of development in order to achieve a successful outcome in Paris.
The President will be leaving on Sunday, arriving late Sunday night in Paris. Then, on Monday, he will begin his day Monday morning with a bilateral meeting with President Xi of China. Clearly, U.S. cooperation with China is absolutely essential to successful efforts to combat climate change. I think the two leaders meeting at the beginning of this process, as the two largest emitters, sends a strong message to the world about their shared commitment to combat climate change and to achieve an ambitious agreement.
Then the President will participate in the opening ceremony of COP21. And then the President will participate and give a statement in the session in which several heads of state and government will be speaking.
President Hollande will then host a lunch for the leaders. Following that lunch, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India. And we've been engaging with India throughout the year in determining how they can contribute constructively to a successful outcome in Paris, first during the President's trip to India, then most recently, in a bilateral meeting in New York at the U.N. General Assembly, and in the discussions the President had with Prime Minister Modi on the margins of the recent summits that they both attended.
You can expect that there will be additional engagements that the President will have during the trip, so I'd just note that this is not an exhaustive list, these are just the meetings we currently have scheduled.
Later that night, the President will have a dinner with President Hollande at the ‰lys(C)e Palace. This will be an opportunity for the two of them to review the progress being made in the climate discussions; also to continue the discussions that they had today about the counter-ISIL campaign. President Hollande will have traveled to Moscow, will have met with Chancellor Merkel as well, and so they'll have an opportunity to review our ongoing efforts to strengthen the counter-ISIL campaign and to accelerate efforts to roll back ISIL, and to cooperate to disrupt Paris activity across Europe.
That working dinner will conclude the President's day. The next morning, the President will convene a meeting of island nations who are most at risk from the threat of climate change. This will include the leaders of the Seychelles, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia and Barbados. This will highlight the stakes involved at the Paris talks given the existential challenge that these countries face from rising sea levels.
And then the President will have a press conference before he departs Paris and returns to the United States.
And again, we may have additions to the schedule, but this is the current plan.
Before turning it over to my colleague here, I'd just note that we'll be joined by several other administration officials who will be participating at various parts of the COP21. This will include Secretaries Jewell, Kerry, Moniz, and Vilsack, as well as Administrator McCarthy, and the NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.
Secretary Kerry will accompany the President during the leaders meeting to kick off COP21. We also anticipate that he'll be traveling back to Paris for the second week of the discussions. We anticipate that the discussions will go for two weeks.
Secretary Jewell will focus on resilience efforts and the innovative strategies that are being used to combat climate change. Secretary Vilsack will speak about food security and how to pursue agriculture that allows us to feed populations but combat climate change. Secretary Moniz and Administrator McCarthy will both be in Paris during the middle portion of COP21 where they will be able to deliver remarks and engage the many stakeholders who will be in Paris. And then, of course, Secretary Moniz will also lead efforts surrounding Innovation Day in Paris, which spotlights the clean energy technology that's going to be necessary and long-term sources to combat climate change.
So with that, I will turn it over to my colleague.
MR. BODNAR: Thanks, Ben. I'm just going to spend a couple minutes to provide a broader framing for the negotiations and what we hope to get out of them.
So the Paris climate conference is the culmination of a long negotiating process toward a new global climate agreement. We see it as a chance for the world to take a big step forward and drive towards a long-term solution to a problem that, as the President has emphasized, poses a clear and present threat to our economic and national security.
The President has had a clear and consistent set of objectives on global climate talks since he came into office. He, of course, has led by example, as Ben mentioned, by driving down carbon pollution at home even as we've had 68 consecutive months of job growth.
On the international stage, we knew a new approach would be needed to rally all nations to take action. We absorbed the hard lessons of Kyoto and heeded bipartisan concerns. We concluded that climate targets should be set by countries themselves, not imposed on them; that all countries should be expected to act even though developing countries faced unique challenges; and that we should expect strong transparency and accountability from all countries. That's the deal this administration has been fighting for.
As we head into Paris we've already seen tremendous progress, thanks to U.S. leadership. The landmark U.S.-China joint announcement of climate targets by our leaders last November marked a new era in climate diplomacy. And we now live in a new reality where China has pledged to peak its emissions, to bring online a gigawatt of clean energy every week through 2030, to implement a national cap and trade plan, and to provide billions of dollars in climate finance to poorer nations.
And following our lead, 170 countries, representing 90 percent of global emissions, have now put forward post-2020 targets. And independent analysis shows that these targets will significantly bend down the global emissions curve, limiting global temperature rise to 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, compared to 4.1 to 4.8 degrees that would happen without action.
Now, that's important and unprecedented progress, but still above the 2 degree threshold that the scientific community acknowledges is necessary to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. And that's really why Paris is important. Building on this momentum, our task in Paris is to secure a long-term framework in which countries set successive rounds of targets into the future, beyond 2030, and ratchet down their carbon emissions over the course of the coming decades in the context of strong transparency and accountability provisions.
That kind of agreement would drive ambitious reductions in the decades to come and put us on track to keeping global warming below the 2 degree threshold. Importantly, it would also show investors that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future, which is exactly the signal the private sector needs to go all in on renewable energy technologies, create new markets and new jobs.
Now, for the many low-income countries whose emissions are negligible but are most vulnerable to climate impacts, Paris also needs to deliver support to build their resilience and help grow their economies without high levels of carbon pollution that concerns us all.
So, as you would expect ahead of a two-week negotiation among 195 countries, there is a lot of hard work ahead. But the United States will be in a leadership role throughout the conference to make sure we carry through the momentum we already have and work towards an ambitious and durable agreement.
MR. RHODES: Thanks, Paul. Let me make just one more comment before we move to questions, which is obviously President Obama is attending the beginning of this process. It was the French determination of the host that heads of state and government should come at the outset. We believe that provides an opportunity to generate momentum for a successful outcome. By attending the summit, delivering his remarks, but also meeting with two of the most parties -- India and China -- and by convening the island nations to elevate the stakes, the President I think intends to generate momentum toward the successful outcome while leaving behind a significant number of his senior officials to participate in the ongoing negotiations.
So we see his role as focused on bringing together the world's leading economies to signal that they're going to do their part while also elevating a sense of urgency in Paris, including through his meeting with the island states, and then having key Cabinet officials and, of course, our negotiator, Todd Stern, work through the whole two weeks, hopefully to achieve a successful framework.
With that, we'll move to questions.
Q Thanks for holding the call. One very quick question, and one little follow-up. The quick, simple one is, is there a chance if things go surprisingly well that Obama would come back at the end? Obviously Copenhagen had a different architecture.
But the more important question relates to that last assertion about these 2020 to 2030 targets and achieving -- avoiding something more than 2.7 degrees warming. But the actual path to getting there involves such deep carbonization that some are saying there's a huge gap in the process, that there isn't nearly enough focus on innovation and science boosting the capacity in 2020 to 2030 to do the bigger piece later on these things without a bigger push on R&D and all that kind of stuff and it's silly to think that these short-term tweaks are sufficient.
MR. RHODES: Sure, I'll answer the first question. We would not anticipate President Obama returning to Paris. You cite the Copenhagen example, and I do think that that is what guided the French determination. I was there with the President in Copenhagen -- by the time he arrived and many heads of state arrived, things had already essentially unraveled and had to be put back together at the last minute. I think the goal here is to give a push at the head-of-state level at the beginning of the process, and then rely on Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and others to finalize the various details.
On your second question, that is the focus of our efforts. And I'll turn it over to my colleague.
MR. BODNAR: Thanks. We certainly do believe that innovation on clean energy is a key aspect of our strategy going forward and is something the President will emphasize and other leaders will emphasize in Paris on the first day.
The targets that we have on the table so far extend to 2025 or 2030. And I think everyone understands that while those targets are an important next step -- and it's unprecedented that we have 170 countries having come forward with these targets -- that it's not, by itself, enough to limit warming to 2 degrees, as you noted, and that it will need to be complemented by targets into the future, which is exactly what we are driving towards. And the Paris agreement is a framework that will encourage the most ambitious possible action by the broadest possible set of actors and the transparency provisions needed to make sure we all understand -- each of us understands what the other is doing.
So a combination of that policy framework provided by Paris, plus a greater focus on innovation and clean energy are important components of the solution.
MR. RHODES: And clearly, this is a framework that has to be achieved among governments and targets set by governments, but at the same time, clearly there's a significant role for the private sector to play in developing the type of clean energy innovation that's going to help us achieve ambitious targets.
And so throughout the COP21 process, there will be a seat at the table for private sector actors as well, just as the private sector can play a role in helping to finance the clean energy development among some of the developing countries that are going to need assistance to transform their economies in order to avoid the type of carbon-heavy emissions that characterized development in the 20th century.
Q Hi, thank you very much. Ben, I know the focus is climate, but given that it is going to be in Paris, there is this overlay of everything else that's happening here today. Can you address what tangible results came from today's meeting, or whether today's incident with the airliner -- with the Russian airliner basically derailed any hope of -- any French hope of getting a better coalition between France, Putin and the United States against ISIS?
MR. RHODES: Well, first of all, Andrea, look, there was no change in the outcome of the discussion based on the incident involving the Russian aircraft. I think what you saw today was unity between President Obama and President Hollande in their determination to counter ISIL. The French continue to indicate their interest in accelerating their air campaign and efforts to target ISIL.
I think both leaders were calling upon other coalition members to provide additional contributions going forward. There are roles that nations can play in contributing to the air campaign and supporting the opposition that is on the ground, and also, importantly, as the President said in his remarks, improving intelligence cooperation and information sharing. So, for instance, the European Union can play a constructive role by implementing the agreement that would require airlines to share passenger information so that we're better able to track the movement of people who might raise a concern given potential ties to terrorism.
And so, in terms of the counter-ISIL campaign and efforts to go after ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and in terms of our intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation, we want to see enhanced contributions and cooperation among the coalition countries coming out of these discussions with President Hollande and the discussions that the President had on his trip. And I think that will be an ongoing process as different European countries review what contributions that they might be able to make.
With respect to Russia, again, I think you saw a unified position among the United States and France that was not new today. France has taken the same position that we have in the Vienna process, which is that Assad needs to go as a part of a political transition. And so both leaders were able to reiterate that today.
And with respect to Russia, the clear message is that Russia can play a constructive role in the counter-ISIL coalition provided they focus their military operations against ISIL and not against the type of moderate elements of the opposition who will need to be a part of the Vienna process. And also, Russia can play a constructive role by supporting a transition in which Assad relinquishes power as a part of the timeline that was set in Vienna.
Those are really I think the two important things that Russia can do to truly join the global effort against ISIL -- again, focus their military operations against ISIL and support a political transition that involves Assad relinquishing power.
The incident involving the Russian aircraft, President Obama spoke to that. We obviously have a longstanding and enduring support for the security of our ally, Turkey. At the same time, both President Hollande and President Obama also indicated their belief that now is the time for Russia and Turkey to deescalate the situation, to engage in a dialogue, and to de-conflict these types of operations.
So that work will be ongoing, but I'm sure President Hollande will deliver the type of message that he carried today here in Washington when he sees President Putin in Moscow.
Q Hi. Thanks. Just a couple other questions on the President's schedule in Paris. One, is there any chance he would do any non-climate-related events, just to take note of the recent happenings in Paris? And also, are you expecting additional multilateral or bilaterals during his stay there?
MR. RHODES: So I'm sure that he'll want to mark the recent terrorist attack and pay tribute to the people of Paris. We see, as the President said today, the fact that Paris, so soon after these attacks, is hosting this important summit of world leaders as a clear sign of strength and resilience in the face of terrorists, that we will not be deterred from doing the important work that the world demands because of the actions of a number of terrorists. I think President Obama will speak to this.
I don't want to indicate specific events beyond that. And obviously, I think the French will determine how at the summit the victims of the recent attacks are appropriately honored.
In terms of other meetings, I would anticipate the President will have other engagements, either with some of the other world leaders who are in attendance, some of the other stakeholders who are in attendance. His objective is going to be to do whatever is useful in building support for an effective and ambitious agreement.
And so we'll keep you posted on any additional engagements he has. We did want to send a clear signal in meeting with China and meeting with India, as well as meeting with France as the host country, that he is going to be working with the key players here to try to get this done. But if there are additional engagements with governments or other stakeholders, it's certainly something that he'll be willing to do. And we'll keep you updated.
Q Hi. Thanks for holding the call. Congressional Republicans have vowed to block money pledged to the Green Climate Fund, even threatening to attach the measures to the omnibus. Will this jeopardize negotiations or hurt the U.S.'s image with developing countries like India? And also, if this were attached to the omnibus and it reached the President's desk, would he veto it?
MR. BODNAR: Thanks. I'll take that one. So, as we've made clear, the Green Climate Fund is a priority for the President. And we have seen encouraging signs, with Republicans joining a bipartisan vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee markup this summer. The omnibus encompasses the entire federal government budget. So there are many administration priorities that we're monitoring as Congress continues its work on this bill. And we don't want to get too far ahead of the negotiations as they move forward, but it is a clear priority for the President.
Q Hey, guys. Thanks for having the call. I'm wondering specifically if there have been any discussions about a sideline conversation with President Putin. And, Ben, I know you talked a little bit at the end about how the President is hoping to generate momentum here, and I'm wondering if you could talk about -- I know in Asia your guys' TPP message and pivot message was kind of understandably drowned out by what happened in Paris -- and if there's any concern that the terrorism discussions that are obviously going to take place here might do that again to the kind of climate messaging that you guys want to get out.
MR. RHODES: I don't know exactly what President Putin's specific plans are. Generally, when the President is at summits and President Putin is there, they have opportunities to speak to one another. We don't have anything formally planned with him at this time.
Look, on your second question, we're not engaged in this work just for the purpose of drawing attention to issues. The President is focused on getting things done. In Asia, even as, appropriately and understandably, much of the attention was on the recent terrorist attacks, we have a TPP agreement with 40 percent of the global economy that sets high standards for trade, and if we are able to ratify that through Congress, that will have a lasting and positive benefit, we believe, on both the economic and national security position of the United States.
If we are able to achieve an ambitious framework agreement in Paris to combat climate change, that will have a lasting and positive effect on future generations of people in the United States and around the world.
So President Obama is focused on achieving outcomes here that will endure long after whatever the focus of the day is, just as on the counter-ISIL campaign we're focused on achieving the objective of degrading and destroying ISIL, which will of course take time, as well.
So again, I know that in the press of the day a lot of the focus is on where is the attention, but the United States of America is capable of doing many things at once. We're capable of waging a relentless campaign against ISIL even as we are completing a TPP agreement, and even as we are pursuing an international climate agreement. And all of those things are necessary for the security and prosperity of the American people going forward.
We're not going to stop pursuing efforts to combat international climate change in the face of one threat where we're able to do both. We're able to wage war against ISIL and pursue an international climate agreement. And I think that was the clear message from the two Presidents today.
Q Hi, thanks for holding the call. Just to go back to the meetings with India and China at the start of the meeting. Is there any chance of any new announcements -- I know there were already some joint statements, but can we expect to hear anything more just to kind of add that momentum at the beginning?
MR. BODNAR: The purpose of these meetings is to make sure that leaders are on the same page about our objectives and strategy going into these final two weeks of negotiation, not to make announcements, per se.
These two countries are two of our most important partners in dealing with global climate change. The President has had a number of engagements with each leaders over the course of this year. We've built an important partnership with China over the last couple of years on climate, and have worked closely with -- the President has worked closely with Prime Minister Modi, as well.
So the purpose of these meetings is not to make announcements, but to have a chance to consult, consider the issues that will be negotiated in those two weeks, and coordinate to ensure that we reach our goal of a successful agreement.
MR. RHODES: And I also think that many of the other countries look to what the big players are doing and what messages they are sending as they finalize their own positions. And if you look at President Obama's recent engagements, he's talked to all of our key European allies about Paris. He's talked to the leaders of not just China and India, but also South Africa and others about these efforts.
So part of this is also what are we doing on a bilateral basis with these countries, but also how can we make sure that everybody is conveying the same sense of urgency and sending the same messages to other parties of the negotiation that now is the time to make tough decisions and get things done. And again, that was the message the President had in his engagements over the course of his last trip, as well.
Q Hi there, gents. Just a two-part question on the meeting with the island leaders that the President will be holding. I just wondered, firstly, will you be able to reassure them over the amount of climate finance that will be coming to them, because I know that's a key concern for them. And secondly, what is the administration's view on how that should be spent? I mean, for example, there's the possibility of movement of people from low-lying islands such as Kiribiti, and yet the U.N. convention does not cover people who flee countries due to natural disasters such as cyclones. Is there a view on whether a new framework can be set up to deal with those kinds of issues?
MR. BODNAR: Thanks. We have worked very closely indeed with the island countries, and the President's meeting in Paris builds on that cooperation. We certainly are very concerned about the threats that climate change poses to these nations, and we and other countries have ramped up climate assistance for climate adaptation for the most vulnerable countries to ensure that they are getting support as they seek to adapt to the effects of climate change, as well as move their economies forward on a clean and green basis.
Climate finance has increased globally in the last few years, and we're on track to meet the goals that we set in Copenhagen for 2020. And we consider it important to balance the investments we're making across the adaptation and the clean energy and also forest areas, so that we're not only dealing with climate impacts today and helping the poorest countries do that, but we're also making the investments necessary to prevent even greater harms in the future.
So islands have a special role in the process and they have a special importance to play. And we will continue to focus on building our partnership with them.
Q Yes, hi. Thank you for taking my question. Can you address the architecture of the deal? And we still hear the word ''binding'' being thrown around, and since the President has made it clear it won't be a treaty that requires ratification, how do you see the deal as binding participants? And secondly, can you identify what you think the largest stressor is in terms of getting a good deal, where the biggest hurdles are?
MR. BODNAR: So, look, we support a strong and ambitious agreement that holds countries accountable for the emission target that they take on. And the system that we've advocated for, where some provisions are legally binding but targets themselves are not, is the one that we believe is designed to maximize ambitious action from the broadest range of countries. That, in fact, is the lesson from Kyoto and other previous approaches.
Strong transparency provisions are essential, and we're for that. And I think the success of this new approach, even in anticipation of Paris, is reflected in the fact that, as I noted earlier, 170 countries have now come forward with targets, far greater participation than we've ever seen before.
So that's our approach to the architecture of the agreement. One thing we think is really important is that it be a long-term solution, not a stopgap; that we create the mechanics for regular updating of these targets over time, and that there are incentives and transparency provisions that allow emissions to be ratcheted down over the coming decades.
MR. RHODES: And I'd just add that this will be worked out in the negotiation and there will be elements that are binding on nations, even as the broader framework and the targets won't have the same legally binding effect.
But the point here is that we need to have the broadest set of countries engaged in this if it's going to be successful. That was the lesson from Copenhagen, which is that if you restrict this to a certain form, you will likely be limited to the Kyoto countries or even a small number of countries. And it's not simply a question of the United States coming to the table, it's a question of whether China and India and Brazil and other major emitters are a part of this framework.
And so what we've done is we've broadened the scope of the countries that are participating in this global effort. And what we can do is have very strong transparency and accountability provisions so there's a mechanism to determine if countries are standing by and behind their commitments going forward, even as you have in place the framework that can ensure that we can hit ambitious targets in terms of emissions reduction, and provide an ambitious level of support to developing countries to support the successful effort to combat climate change.
Q Hi. That last question was a little bit my question, but I also just wanted to hear you reiterate why this doesn't require approval in the Senate as a treaty would.
MR. RHODES: So the negotiations are actually ongoing, and we have a tough two weeks ahead of us, so it is premature to judge what an agreement's ultimately legal form will be. So our focus is on, as we have said, landing an agreement that balances out inclusion and coverage and also maximizes ambition. We certainly are not at the point where we know what the agreement will say and what its provisions will be in detail. We will certainly review that. When it's finished, we'll evaluate the final agreement, and whatever we do will be in accordance with the law.
MR. RHODES: And I'd just add that we have been consulting with members of Congress throughout this process. We'll certainly be in consultation with members of Congress during and after these negotiations. Our objective is to achieve an ambitious framework agreement that can address a problem that is an urgent economic and national security concern for the United States and the rest of the world. And we believe that Congress needs to recognize the urgency of confronting international climate change, and that Congress needs to be a part of the long-term effort to address this challenge.
Now, again, what form the agreement will take, we will see at the outcome of the Paris talks. But as we've indicated here before, we believe that there may be elements that are binding on countries but elements that are not, and that would make this different from other types of treaties that are internationally negotiated.
We'll end there. And we'll keep you updated as we head into the discussions.
END2:17 P.M. EST
Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 19:05
By William N. Grigg
The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack.
''My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,'' Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense '' but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.
Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.
''We are former Air Force service members,'' the letter begins. ''We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.''
Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as ''fun-sized terrorists'' and compared killing them to ''cutting the grass before it grows too long.'' Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: ''There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what's going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.''
By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. ''We kill four and create ten,'' Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. ''If you kill someone's father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.''
Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. ''There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,'' he recalled. ''Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.''
Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found ''impaired'' while on duty, Haas testifies.
This Book Could Save Your Life (Ad)Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen '' who, at age 16, was legally still a child '' former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child's father.
As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.
''We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,'' Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the ''targeted killing'' of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.
Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki's son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.
In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a ''hit list.'' She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone '' a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.
According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. ''This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It's a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower '... by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren't so frightening.''
Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.
This article first appeared at TheFreeThoughtProject.com
Thomas Jefferson protested at University of Missouri and William and Mary.
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 18:43
The statue of Thomas Jefferson on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Missouri.Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Thispostoriginally appeared onInside Higher Ed.
In the past week, Princeton University students who object to having Woodrow Wilson's name on an academic unit and a residential college occupied the president's office and left only when promised that the university would review its use of the Wilson name. The students pointed out that Wilson was a racist who, as president of the United States, had federal government agencies segregated, reversing progress toward civil rights for black people. Many observers have wondered which historical figure honored on American campuses would next capture critical attention.
The answer appears to be Thomas Jefferson. At both the University of Missouri''Columbia and the College of William and Mary, critics have been placing yellow sticky notes on Jefferson statues, labeling him'--among other things'--''rapist'' and ''racist.''
Once again, students are raising the question of whether men seen as heroes in American history were decidedly unheroic when it came to issues of race'--and black students are demanding that colleges consider the impact of various honors for people whom they do not consider heroes.
While Princeton has said it is considering the issue of the Wilson name, which could well remain, the student protest movement has led to widespread discussion of Wilson's record on race, which even fans of his idealistic internationalist vision admit was horrible. Publications such as Vox and Salon are running articles detailing just how bad Wilson was with regard to issues of race'--and giving prominence to a part of the historical record many have never considered.
How will colleges respond to questions about the prominent place some institutions give Jefferson? At William and Mary, Jefferson's alma mater, the notes on the statue just appeared, without an individual or group claiming responsibility or formally asking for the statue to be removed. Officials have noted that the protest has not actually damaged the statue, so they are not treating the incident like vandalism.
''A university setting is the very place where civil conversations about difficult and important issues should occur. Nondestructive sticky notes are a form of expression compatible with our tradition of free expression,'' said a representative via email.
Students have been debating the issues raised by the notes on social media and in columns in the student paper.
At Missouri, the Jefferson statue became an issue last month as tensions were rising over a range of issues raised by black students, who cited incidents of racial harassment as well as campus culture issues, such as the prominence given to a Jefferson statue.
Men seen as heroes in American history were decidedly unheroic when it came to issues of race.
A petition is circulating calling for the statue to be removed. The petition notes the history of Jefferson's involvement with slavery.
''Thomas Jefferson's statue sends a clear nonverbal message that his values and beliefs are supported by the University of Missouri. Jefferson's statue perpetuates a sexist-racist atmosphere that continues to reside on campus,'' the petition says.
College Republicans countered with a #standwithJefferson hashtag on Twitter, demanding that the statue remain in place. Defenders of the statue have also draped an American flag around it for events at the site of the monument.
As Missouri and William and Mary are dealing with statues, there are of course institutions where Jefferson has an even greater presence. While black students at the University of Virginia, like their counterparts on many other campuses, have been pushing a range of issues, there has not been a public debate on Jefferson's role on campus, in light of the recent discussions elsewhere.
The conservative blogosphere has widely mocked the student campaigns against honors for various historic figures, including Jefferson.
Scholars of Jefferson and his record on race and slavery have been watching the debate with great interest. There is no consensus among researchers on whether Jefferson's accomplishments (the Declaration of Independence and his advocacy for religious toleration, among others) are outweighed by a record on race and slavery that many argue wasn't just bad, but was bad even for his time.
Scholars have a range of views on whether Jefferson statues and other honors should be reconsidered, but they generally agree that the public doesn't know enough about Jefferson's poor record on issues of race.
Paul Finkelman, author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson, said that he couldn't judge how colleges should deal with Jefferson statues, but he said the history is clear.
''I don't think you go around honoring people for behavior that was truly awful, and Jefferson's relationship with slavery and race was truly awful, even from his own times,'' Finkelman said. ''This is not looking back from now,'' he stressed.
Finkelman, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Program on Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism and the Ariel F. Sallows visiting professor of human rights law at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, compared Jefferson with George Washington.
''George Washington ceased using white overseers to manage his plantations before he became president,'' and gave the positions to slaves ''as a prelude to emancipating them in his will,'' Finkelman said. Jefferson never took such a step. ''Washington famously said that he did not take men to the market like cattle, but Jefferson sold nearly 100 slaves in the 1790s,'' Finkelman said.
Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, said via email that his approach to the issue of statues and other honors for Jefferson (as well as Wilson and others) would be based on a Jefferson quote: ''The earth belongs to the living.''
Explained Wiencek: ''If the rising generation finds the actions of these men to be repugnant, then the new generation has the right to demand the removal of memorials to them. There should be informed and reasoned discussion and debate'--universities are the ideal forum. Let the defenders of the memorials make their case on behalf of the enslavers.''
Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and the Charles Warren professor of American legal history at Harvard Law School, is the author of two books'--Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy and The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family'--that have criticized previous generations of scholars for ignoring evidence or downplaying the story of Jefferson's relationship with one of his slaves.
Via email, Gordon-Reed said that she didn't think Jefferson statues should be taken down. Further, she said it is important to distinguish Jefferson (whatever his record on slavery) from figures associated with the Confederacy or Jim Crow, for whom there may not be any reason for honors on campuses to continue.
''I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal,'' Gordon-Reed said. ''I think Jefferson's contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story '... to pretend that he was not there. This conversation about statues and symbols really got going with calls to take symbols and figures from the Confederacy out of the public sphere. Then it shifted to every famous person who was an enslaver and/or white supremacist, basically letting the Confederates off the hook. That's a lot of people to be disappeared. There is every difference in the world between being one of the founders of the United States and being a part of group of people who fought to destroy the United States.''
It's a line-drawing function, but we draw lines all the time. Statues and buildings for Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun? No. Statues and buildings for Thomas Jefferson? Yes, but with interpretation and conversations about all the meanings of his life and influences'--good and bad. The words of the Declaration of Independence that blacks have made use of over the years and Monticello, his home, a slave plantation that has now become a site for substantive discussions about race and slavery, exist together as a part of our history, just as he was. He drafted the declaration, he was a president, he founded a university, he championed religious freedom. The best of his ideals continue to influence and move people. The statues should be a stimulus for considering all these matters at William & Mary and the University of Missouri.
Do prisons use third grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they'll need? - Reading Partners | Reading Partners
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 18:16
Politicians find the factoid a pithy way to emphasize the importance of early childhood reading. And journalists find it a convenient lede for stories highlighting the good work of reading programs across the country. But, do prison builders really use third grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they'll need?
The idea is especially odious to those it's often communicated to: educators, parents, and prison reform advocates. The statement is explosive, as they say, because it speaks to so many of our deeply-rooted convictions''our apprehension over prison operators' motives, our worry over the quality of our public schools. It's a loaded statement sure to ruffle feathers.
Thanks to the work of someintrepidreporters and fact checkers, we know that this startling claim is not true. Well, technically untrue at least.
Perhaps it's best to call this a distortion of the truth. While there isn't evidence of State Departments of Corrections using third- (or second- or fourth-) grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they'll need in the next decade (one spokesperson called the claim ''crap''), there is an undeniable connection between literacy skills and incarceration rates.
You see, a student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time''six times less likely for students from low-income families. Take that and add to it a 2009 study by researchers at Northwestern University that found that high school dropouts were 63 times (!) more likely to be incarcerated than college grads and you can start to see how many arrive at this conclusion.
But once incarcerated, not all hope is lost. In fact, literacy instruction can help on both ends of the correctional system; studies have shown that inmates enrolled in literacy and other education programs can substantially reduce recidivism rates. One study of 3,000 inmates in Virginia found that 20% of those receiving support in an education program were reincarcerated, while 49% not receiving additional support returned to prison after being released.
So, while prison planners do not use third grade reading scores to determine the number of prison beds they'll need in the decade to come, there is a connection between literacy rates, high school dropout rates, and crime. While we should file this claim as an urban legend, let's recognize why it resonates with us: it speaks to the important ways that poor reading skills are connected with unfavorable life outcomes.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfightcc
Abortion Opponents Insist The Planned Parenthood Shooting Was Actually A Bank Robbery | ThinkProgress
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 17:30
A shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday afternoon has left three people dead and several others injured. Details remain scarce about the motivations of the shooter, identified as 57-year-old Robert Dear. But, thanks to the historical legacy of targets leveled at abortion providers specifically because of the work they do, violence at clinics feels particularly threatening to reproductive rights proponents.
Abortion opponents, meanwhile, have been eager to downplay the shooting '-- rushing to say that the violence didn't occur inside an abortion clinic at all.
Initially, when police officers were involved in a stand-off with Dear and information about the event was murky, early reports from Fox News quoted a witness who suggested that the first shots were fired from a bank. The anti-abortion website LifeNews picked up that story, spurring the bank robbery narrative.
Though it does remain unclear whether Dear was attempting to specifically target the Colorado Springs abortion clinic, it's not true that Planned Parenthood supporters are overreacting to an incident that happened at a bank. Police officers have confirmed that ''the entire incident took place at the Planned Parenthood clinic.''
Not all right-wing leaders have dismissed the recent shooting outright, particularly as more information has emerged about the incident.
''While the investigation into the shooting at the Planned Parenthood center continues, regardless of what the motive is determined to be, we strongly condemn this violence,'' Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council '-- which is based in Colorado Springs '-- said in a statement on Friday. He added that creating a nation that values all human life will be accomplished only through ''peaceful means.''
And Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, walked back his initial comments about the shooting after it became clear that it was not actually a bank robbery. He initially tweeted, ''Left upset the only people dying at Planned Parenthood today are babies. They were hoping for Christian shooters to narrative shift Paris.'' Following later reports that the shooting was indeed inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, he wrote, ''I deleted that tweet. Prayers for the police and victims offered instead.''
Zack Ford contributed reporting.
During Planned Parenthood Shooting, Fear and Chaos at Shopping Center - NYTimes.com
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 17:05
COLORADO SPRINGS '-- The injured man staggered into the grocery store, his face and chest bloodied. Customers stopped and stared. ''He lifted his shirt up and he had holes in his chest,'' said Miranda Schilter, 17, who had been waiting for a drink at an in-store coffee shop.
When a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic here on Friday just before noon, he turned a snow-covered shopping center bustling with post-Thanksgiving traffic into a scene of chaos and fear.
By the end of the day, three people were dead, nine were injured, and the police had taken the gunman, whom law enforcement officials identified as Robert Lewis Dear, into custody.
Mr. Dear, 57, was being held without bond on Saturday at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. Jail records said he was scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Mr. Dear, whom the authorities described as 6 feet 4 inches tall and 250 pounds, appeared to have ties to the Carolinas. The police said they could not yet offer a motive for the shooting.
A booking photo released by the Colorado Springs Police Department shows Robert Lewis Dear, 57, the suspect in the shooting Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images
By Saturday morning, the police had reopened the roads around the Planned Parenthood clinic and surrounding businesses, said Kim Melchor, a spokeswoman for the City of Colorado Springs. And community leaders had announced two vigils: one at 11:30 a.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, and another at 7 p.m. at the local University of Colorado campus.
When the shooting began Friday, Ms. Schilter dove behind the coffee counter at the grocery store. A woman who identified herself as a nurse rushed to the help the bloodied man who had just walked in.
As the nurse held the man's hand, he told people that he had been shot by a man in the parking lot between the Planned Parenthood clinic and the grocery store.
''He was just so much in shock,'' said Taylor White, 23, who was in the store. ''He was like: Some crazy person out there is shooting people.''
Graphic | Maps of the Shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic A gunman injured at least 11 people, including five police officers, at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
As the shots rang out, employees and customers at businesses around the Planned Parenthood '-- a bank, a beauty supply center, a nursing home '-- quickly locked their doors, hiding behind walls and sending frantic notes to parents, spouses and children. Most would remain there for hours, some occasionally catching glimpses of the prolonged gun battle. Some followed what was happening on television or their mobile phones.
At Sally Beauty Supply, Sydney Downey, 20, ticked off a text message to her boyfriend, Alexander Williams, 26.
''Someones opening fire,'' she wrote.
''Whaaaat the?'' he replied, adding an expletive.
''At least two three dozen rounds already,'' she texted back.
''I'm assuming you called the cops already?'' he replied. ''Just stay down.''
Not far away, at a nursing home and rehabilitation center called the Center at Centennial, an employee named Sandy Berryman, 57, had brought her granddaughter, Gaby Choplin, 6, to work.
''One of our co-workers told us: Stay in your office, I think we're on lockdown, there's been a shooting,'' Ms. Berryman said later. She shoved Gaby into a windowless office. Two other people at the center saw police snipers ascend to the upper levels of the building.
''I would look out, and there would be all the police, all the rifles running around,'' Ms. Berryman said. ''It was all right there in front of us.''
Outside the rehabilitation center, Kenny Lane, 80, said he was frantically trying to get in touch with his wife of 53 years, who was a patient there. ''I got pretty close to the Planned Parenthood,'' he said. ''And a lady was coming out and she said: Turn around and leave, because there is an active shooter.''
Back at the grocery store, it took about an hour for officials to determine it was safe for the bloodied man to leave, said several witnesses.
''He was escorted out of the building to be taken to the hospital,'' said Daniel Robb, 27, who works at the store's sushi counter.
Officials told the rest of the group to stay behind. Donuts and sandwiches appeared and Mr. Robb continued rolling sushi, unsure of what else to do. Lou Sears, 64, a Vietnam veteran, found an Iraq veteran. ''We talked all afternoon,'' Mr. Sears said.
Jane Delaney, 65, a customer, took a seat on a bag of dog food while her husband Jim Sweeney, 66, headed elsewhere in the store. ''I was just looking at a poinsettia plant and Jim ran in and said: There's been a shooting,'' she said. Ms. Delaney estimated that more than 100 people were trapped in the grocery store.
Hours passed. Beyond the doors of the grocery store, police engaged in a gun battle with the suspect, at one point ramming a BearCat armored vehicle into the Planned Parenthood building and rescuing some of the people inside.
At 4:52 p.m., the police announced they had the gunman in custody.
Soon, officers arrived at the grocery store, the bank and other establishments, and told people it was over. They were loaded onto buses '-- their cars would be left in the lot, they were told, to be inspected for bombs '-- and their family members would meet them at a nearby furniture store.
The store filled with waiting parents, spouses and children, who lounged on new couches amid holiday decorations. Christmas carols played. Snow fell outside. The buses arrived.
People poured out. Among them was Ms. Schilter, the woman at the grocery store. Her boyfriend, Jackson Ricker, 18, placed his arms around her waist and his chin on her shoulder and noted that Ms. Schilter had witnessed a different shooting a few weeks earlier when a heavily armed man shot and killed a bicyclist and two women in the downtown. ''The first time she cried,'' said Mr. Ricker, looking at his dry-eyed girlfriend. ''She's a veteran now.''
Investigators search for motive in Planned Parenthood shooting that left three dead - The Washington Post
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 17:00
Ozy Licano, a witness to the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, describes the ordeal and says, "I just don't know what possessed" the gunman. (Reuters)
The day after a gunman stormed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, investigators were working to determine what prompted the shooting that resulted in the death of three people, including a police officer.
Police identified the shooting suspect as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear but released no other information about him. He is accused of killing two civilians in addition to University of Colorado police officer Garrett Swasey, as well as injuring at least four other officers and five more civilians.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs said Swasey, 44, had been with the campus police department for six years and responded to the initial reports of an active shooter.
[Slain officer was a co-pastor, skating champion]
Authorities say Dear was armed with a long gun and also brought into the building several ''items'' that could have been explosive devices.
''We don't have any information on this individual's mentality, or his ideas or ideology,'' Colorado Springs Police Lt. Catherine Buckley told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
State investigators and federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI are also involved in the investigation.
President Obama was briefed on the situation Friday, a White House official said. On Saturday, the president released a statement noting that the gunman's motive remains unknown but urging the public not to let such incidents ''become normal.''
''The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence '-- people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time,'' the statement said.
''And yet, two days after Thanksgiving,'' the statement continued, ''that's what we are forced to do again.''
[In wake of Colorado shooting, Obama calls for more gun controls]
While acknowledging that investigators have more to uncover, one Planned Parenthood official suggested the incident may be rooted in the ''poisonous environment'' that feeds domestic terrorism.
''We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack,'' Vicki Cowart, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a written statement. ''We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.''
The shooting arrives during a period of heightened scrutiny for Planned Parenthood. In July, an antiabortion group released a series of secretly filmed videos from a clinic in Denver that showed staffers discussing the extraction of fetal tissue from aborted fetuses before that tissue is sent to research facilities. The videos, which Planned Parenthood officials have claimed were heavily edited to bolster critics' false claims, provoked a series of nationwide protests in August aimed at cutting off federal funding for the healthcare organization. Planned Parenthood officials said the protests were designed to intimidate and harass patients.
Health centers associated with Planned Parenthood have been the target of threats and violence because of the organization's role in providing abortions and lobbying for reproductive rights. Abortion rights groups say threats against abortion providers rose sharply this summer in the wake of the undercover ''sting'' operation that produced the controversial videos.
At least four Planned Parenthood clinics have been targeted with arson since the videos were released. The increase in threats has led abortion rights groups to increase cooperation with local police and the FBI.
In a Twitter message released Friday by Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain, a clinic spokesman said 28 other regional health centers will remain open ''no matter what.''
''We maintain strong security measures and always work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure our very strong safety record,'' the statement said.
In New York, Detective Brian Sessa said the police department had deployed response vehicles to Planned Parenthood locations throughout the city out of ''an abundance of caution.'' He added that there were no specific threats.
''Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the brave law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm's way in Colorado Springs,'' Cecile Richards, president and chief executive of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. ''We are profoundly grateful for their heroism in helping to protect all women, men and young people as they access basic health care in this country.''
The incident in Colorado began on a traditionally quiet day of post-Thanksgiving relaxation about 11:30 a.m. Mountain time when police responded to a call for help from the clinic, which sits in a bustling area near a shopping center, a medical building, a grocery store and restaurants.
A burst of gunfire early on gave way to relative calm in the afternoon, but witnesses said gunfire started again in the evening.
Police warned media not to set up too close to the scene because it was not secure. Many workers and shoppers in the area were told to hunker down in place, whether it be in the kitchen of their restaurant or the back seat of their car. Some remained there for hours as snow accumulated and the sky darkened.
As of 4 p.m., police had not identified or made voice contact with the shooter. Buckley said officers then managed to get into the building and shout at the suspect to give himself up, after which he emerged from the building with his hands raised.
Before that, police had evacuated a number of people from the building, and they were taken to a hospital for evaluation. Footage from television stations showed people in medical jackets and scrubs being ushered through the snow into waiting vehicles.
Sydney Downey, 20, who works at Sally Beauty Supply nearby, said people inside the store heard gunshots about 11:45 a.m.
''A lot of gunshots,'' Downey said, ''like, too many to even count.''
She said police and firefighters swarmed Centennial Boulevard, where the clinic is located, and crowded around a nearby bank.
An officer came by the beauty supply store to make sure that the doors were locked and that those inside were safe, she said.
''He said, 'Get back away from the windows,' and left, and that was it,'' Downey said.
After that, Downey said, she remained huddled in a back room with the store manager and a customer.
Brigitte Wolfe, who works at a Japanese restaurant across the street from the clinic, said she first learned something was amiss when police SWAT and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives vehicles pulled up out front.
She heard no gunshots. ''We just thought it was some random whatever happening, and then we turned on the news and started seeing what was going on,'' she said.
Suddenly, about 3 p.m., police and ATF agents banged on the restaurant's door ''and told us to hide where there was no windows because the shooter was active,'' Wolfe said.
She and several employees and customers hid in the restaurant's kitchen.
Wolfe said the police and agents commandeered the restaurant's dining room.
Gunshots were audible as police used an armored vehicle to evacuate people from the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Wolfe said that the medical facility had been the scene of protests most weekends but that there had never been any violence until Friday.
Ozy Licano told the AP that he was in the clinic's parking lot when Dear spotted him and turned his weapon on the confused civilian, who escaped in his car.
''He came out, and we looked each other in the eye, and he started aiming, and then he started shooting,'' Licano said. ''I saw two holes go right through my windshield as I was trying to quickly back up and he just kept shooting and I started bleeding.''
''He was aiming for my head,'' he added. ''It's just weird to stare in the face of someone like that. And he didn't win.''
Alice Crites, Jennifer Jenkins, Julie Tate, Niraj Chokshi and Wesley Lowery contributed to this report.
MORE READING: Undercover video shows Planned Parenthood official discussing fetal organs used for research
How Planned Parenthood actually uses its federal funding
Peter Holley is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post. He can be reached at peter.holley@washpost.com.
Sandhya Somashekhar is the social change reporter for the Washington Post.
Lamon Reccord's tense confrontations between police pictured | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:59
Lamon Reccord, 16, has been facing off against police during protests on Tuesday and WednesdayFootage of one of these moment went live-to-air on Fox NewsAnchor Megyn Kelly said the teen's behavior was inappropriateBut Fox host Richard Fowler said he was within his rightThe protests were sparked by the release of footage of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014By Dailymail.com Reporter and Associated Press Reporter
Published: 14:27 EST, 25 November 2015 | Updated: 22:30 EST, 25 November 2015
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Video of a confrontational scene has emerged out of Chicago, showing 16-year-old Lamon Reccord staring down a police officer during the protests that erupted in the city on Tuesday night.
While authorities reported the protests were predominantly peaceful, Fox News aired footage of an uncomfortable encounter between Reccord and a cop on the street, with the teen getting close to the officer's face and refusing to break eye contact.
Megyn Kelly said during the live broadcast that the 'extraordinary moment' was highly inappropriate, given the officer involved had done nothing wrong and was just doing his job.
Reccord has become the most visible protester in Chicago and a leader for the group, which is remarkable considering the fact that he is still a teenager.
Scroll down for video
Lamon Reccord stares and yells at a Chicago police officer 'Shoot me 16 times' on Wednesday
Reccord yells at another Chicago police officer 'Shoot me 16 times' as he and others march through Chicago's Loop
Reccord stares at a Chicago police officer as he and others march through Chicago's Loop
Reccord has become the most recognizable face of the movement and is often spotted staring down police
Reccord speaks in front of photos of alleged victims of police shootings during a rally held by the Revolutionary Communist Party
'This cop out there is accused of doing nothing wrong and is trying to keep the peace,' she said, as reported by The Wrap.
Kelly and Fox News host Richard Fowler then got into a heated exchange over the moment, which Fowler said was the young man exercising his First Amendment rights.
'It's not a question of what his constitutional rights are, it's a question of what's appropriate,' Kelly fumed.
Kelly added she was stunned that Fowler didn't see any problem with what was happening.
The protests were sparked by the release of dash cam footage of the 2014 murder of a black teenager at the hands of a white Chicago police officer.
The shocking video shows the cop, Jason Van Dyke, shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on the night of October 20 last year.
The police officer, who initially claimed he had felt threatened, continues to fire at point-blank range for 13 seconds as the young man lies motionless on the ground.
Van Dyke, 37, the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades, was charged hours before the video was released.
Heated: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said she was stunned that host Richard Fowler felt there was nothing wrong with the behavior of the teen, which she said was highly inappropriate
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets within hours of the video's release, chanting '16 shots' and forming human blockades across roads in the city's West Side.
Other demonstrators gathered outside police stations as at least two people were arrested in connection to the protests.
The Chicago shooting charges followed more than a year of unrest across the United States over police shootings of black men that was sparked after the August 2014 killing of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Prosecutors said Van Dyke fired the 16 shots within 30 seconds of arriving and just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload.
Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts told MSNBC on Wednesday the video does not show anything that would justify the shooting and said Van Dyke's conduct was 'just unacceptable.'
Mitts said McDonald's family had not wanted the video made public but now wants action taken.
'There's a pain that the family is feeling,' she said.
'The family don't want to relive that pain over again. We expect change.'
Peaceful: Protesters march during a demonstration for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke - who shot McDonald 16 times last year - was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing
Protesters march during a demonstration for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed on October 20, 2014 in Chicago
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets within hours of the video's release, chanting '16 shots' and forming human blockades across roads in the city's West Side
The release of the video itself has been controversial.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton criticized Chicago city officials for blocking the video, which was made public only after an independent journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Sharpton, speaking on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' program, called for a special prosecutor to handle the case 'because the politics here needs to be investigated.'
The Chicago Police Department had argued that releasing the video would taint multiple investigations.
'Investigations of police shootings and misconduct are highly complex matters that carry with them very unique legal issues, that must be fully examined and taken into consideration,' Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez said on Tuesday.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, appearing on CNN, said rising violence in big cities makes it hard to be a police officer.
However, Bush said, 'When they do what appears to have happened here they should be charged as was the case in this case.'
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Russian MP and her husband killed in car explosion - Telegraph
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:48
The Siberian Times said that the couple had marital problems, with unconfirmed reports that she had been accused of infidelity.
According to local sources their relationship had been strained because Mr Bobrovsky was unemployed, leaving his wife as the sole breadwinner. The couple had a four-year-old daughter.
In addition to serving as an MP, Mrs Bobrovskaya was deputy general director of Diskus Plus company, one of Novosibirsk largest building firms.
The car exploded just outside the company's offices.
One witness said: ''I heard a clap, but not very loud. Like a shot. I thought may be something had fallen from the apartment block roof onto a car, or cars had collided. There were no screams.
''Residents gazed through their windows, I went to see. I saw that the two were in the back seat."
There was also speculation that a bomb had been placed in the car some time earlier with Mr Bobrovsky the intended victim.
However, suggestions of terrorism were discounted by Anatoly Lokot, the mayor of Novosibirsk.
''All versions regarding a terrorist act are withdrawn. 'This was not a terrorist act'," he said.
Here Is Why Erdogan's Ambush of Russian Jet Was a Massive Blunder
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 10:20
In shooting down the Russian SU24 Turkey's President Erdogan has blundered badly.
He has caused the Russians to reinforce in Syria and is feeding Western doubts about him.
He has exposed himself to his Western allies as a dangerous and unpredictable ally.
There is a very small possibility the shoot down of the SU24 took place without Erdogan's knowledge.
However the more we learn about the incident the more planned it looks
The SU24 was shot down very close to the Turkish border. The Turks claim it crossed the border. However if it did, then by the Turks' own account it did so for just a few seconds.
The Turks claim they gave the SU24 10 warnings over a period of 5 minutes.
If true, this can only have been when the SU24 was in Syrian airspace. The Russians deny they received any warnings at all.
The US and NATO say they registered the Turkish warnings but they say it without much show of conviction.
Fox News has broadcast what it says is one of the warnings. However, if it was provided by a Turkish source - as is likely - then it is not reliable since it could so easily have been made up after the event.
Both sides anyway appear to agree that the SU24 was flying away from Turkey and back to its base in Syria when it was shot down. That argues against it posing any possible threat to Turkey when it was shot down.
The SU24 crashed well inside Syria. The Russians say the Turkish F16 that shot it down entered Syrian airspace to do it. Whilst there is no independent evidence to confirm that, the location of the crash site means it may be true.
The facts, though disputed in some places, overall do not justify the Turkish decision to shoot the SU24 down, even if it did violate Turkish airspace for a few seconds.
Embarrassingly a recording apparently exists, made in connection to the Syrian shoot-down of a Turkish F4 fighter back in 2012, in which no less a person than Erdogan himself apparently also says that an infringement of airspace of just a few seconds does not justify shooting an aircraft down.
Frankly the facts suggest a planned ambush by Turkish F16 fighters of a Russian aircraft engaged in bombing operations inside Syria.
If so then Erdogan would almost certainly have been involved. He might not have given a specific order to shoot down the particular SU24 that was shot down. However he almost certainly set the rules of engagement that led to the ambush that caused it to be shot down.
Why would he do such a thing?
Erdogan is someone who far more closely resembles the Western image of Putin than Putin himself does.
Where claims that Putin is corrupt and a billionaire are wholly unsubstantiated and almost certainly untrue, that Erdogan is a billionaire is an acknowledged fact, as is the involvement of some members of his family in shady business dealings.
Contrary to his Western image Putin's manner and language is polite and restrained. Erdogan by contrast is often aggressive and confrontational.
Putin is highly calculating and always consults his chief advisers before making a decision.
Erdogan is impulsive and arbitrary, and is far more likely than Putin to make decisions on the hoof.
Unlike Putin, who puts up with everything, Erdogan is a notoriously prickly character who reacts badly to criticism.
He has jailed opposition activists and journalists and cracked down on the media in ways that Putin never has.
Recent events will have left Erdogan seething.
Firstly, the Russian intervention in Syria has reversed the tide of the war, which seemed to be going his way - or rather the way of the various jihadi groups he has been backing.
It also killed his project for a no-fly zone over Syria, which he was close to getting the US to back in the summer.
Erdogan must also have felt humiliated at the G20 summit in Antaliya in Turkey, of which he was nominally the host.
Putin produced evidence of the financial support the Islamic State is receiving from individuals in certain G20 countries. No one doubts Turkey is one of those G20 countries.
We also know that Putin also showed the other G20 leaders satellite images of lines of fuel tankers transporting the Islamic State's oil to Turkey.
There are in fact widespread rumours of members of the Turkish establishment profiting from trade with the Islamic State. Some rumours even point the finger at members of Erdogan's family, including his son.
To add to Erdogan's sense of humiliation, in the last few days the Russians have begun bombing the fuel tankers, disrupting the oil trade between the Islamic State and its go-betweens in Turkey, whilst saying pointedly that they ''have'' to do it because ''others'' are failing to.
Lastly, the Russians have also been bombing the region close to Turkey where the SU24 was shot down.
Several villages in this area are inhabited by people who the news media calls ''Turkmen''.
This is misleading. These people are not Turkmen from the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. They are ethnic Turks who were left in Syria when the Ottoman empire broke up.
The Western media regularly accuses Putin of posing as the defender of ethnic Russians outside Russia and of using ethnic Russians to destabilise the governments of former Soviet states.
There is no evidence of this or that Putin has ever entertained the ambition to recreate the USSR that is commonly attributed to him - including by no less a person than Obama himself.
By contrast Erdogan definitely does pose as the defender of Turks outside Turkey.
He has also pursued a ''neo-Ottoman'' foreign policy intended to reassert Turkish influence in neighbouring states like Syria that were once part of the Ottoman empire.
Given these ambitions, Russian bombing of an area of Syria inhabited by ethnic Turks - one previously marked out by Erdogan for one of his safe havens - would for Erdogan have been both infuriating and humiliating. It is easy to see how he might see it as a challenge.
In the light of all this, it is not difficult to see how someone like Erdogan, out of a mixture of anger, injured pride and miscalculation, might have ordered his air force to set an ambush to shoot down a Russian airplane when a good opportunity arose.
No doubt he calculated that when that happened the West would back him as a NATO ally threatened by Russian ''aggression''.
That way he might have hoped to get his own back at the Russians and to wrest the political initiative back from them, whilst reassuring his allies in Syria and his supporters in Turkey that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
His officials over the last few days have been issuing warnings to the Russians to stop bombing ethnic Turkish areas.
In light of what has happened these warnings look like an attempt to set up an alibi to justify the shooting down of a Russian aircraft before it took place.
That the shoot-down was a planned rather than a spontaneous act, is also strongly suggested by how the Turks reacted after it took place.
Instead of complaining to the Russians or - better still - asking for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, which is the appropriate venue to discuss an event like that, the Turks turned to NATO instead.
The Russians have complained about this, and frankly it looks like an attempt to gain diplomatic cover from Turkey's Western allies for a shoot-down that was planned in advance.
What has happened since however shows the extent of Erdogan's miscalculation.
Firstly, the circumstances of the shoot-down were not prepared properly.
Instead of coming up with a convincing scenario that might justify the shoot-down, the Turks did the opposite. The best they could come up with was a claim the SU24 violated Turkish airspace for just a few seconds.
That makes the Turks rather than the Russians look aggressive and irresponsible.
The result is that judging from the comments appearing on Western media threads, the Western public is unconvinced and is swinging behind the Russians instead of the Turks.
The Russians for their part are refusing to follow Erdogan's script.
Instead of warning and threatening the Turks in a way that might have given credence to Turkish claims of Russian ''aggression'', they are stressing Turkey's connections to the Islamic State and are taking steps to beef up their air defences.
They have moved the Moskva missile cruiser with its S300 missiles closer to the Syrian coast and have publicly given its captain orders to destroy aircraft that threaten their strike force.
They are also deploying the very powerful and sophisticated S400 anti aircraft missile system to their air base in Syria.
There is also a strong probability the Russians will reinforce their strike group in Syria with more air defence fighters.
They have publicly said their strike aircraft are henceforth forbidden from flying without air cover from Russian fighters.
Since there are only four Russian fighters in Syria - the four SU30s at Latakia - it is difficult to see how this can be done without sending more fighters there.
In other words what Erdogan has achieved is to give the Russians the reason or excuse to reinforce their air group in Syria beyond anything they had probably planned or intended.
With the deployment of S400 missiles in Syria, and the likely deployment of more sophisticated Russian fighters there, the balance of military power in the region is shifting even further away from Turkey, Israel and the US.
US and Israeli policy has been to do everything possible to prevent deployment of missile systems like the S400 to the region. The S400's deployment to Syria has overturned that.
Combined with the deployment of sophisticated Russian fighters to Syria - now almost certainly on their way - events are moving in a way that must be filling Washington and Jerusalem with concern. They must be furious with Erdogan for bringing it about.
That however is only the start of it.
The biggest nightmare for the US and its European allies is not that the Turks will shoot down a Russian aircraft. It is that the Russians will shoot down a Turkish aircraft in circumstances where Western public opinion backs Russia.
The US and NATO do not want to be put in a position where they have to choose between upsetting the Turks by failing to give them the sort of backing the Turks feel they are entitled to as a NATO ally, and upsetting Western public opinion by siding publicly with Turkey and the jihadis groups it supports in a dispute with Russia in which Western public opinion backs Russia.
Erdogan has just brought that nightmare scenario for the West much closer.
The anger this is causing, and which Western leaders privately feel towards Erdogan, is shown by what they said after the SU24 was shot down.
If Erdogan was expecting a resounding show of support he must be disappointed.
Though the US and NATO made ritual comments of support, the main theme of their comments was not support for Turkey but a demand for restraint.
Some of the comments contained clear criticism of Turkey.
The harshest comments came from Germany. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was especially outspoken, saying
''This incident shows for the first time that we are to dealing with an actor who is unpredictable according to statements from various parties of the region '' that is not Russia, that is Turkey.''
He was backed by his SPD colleague Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who said
''What we must hope for is that this occurrence will not deal a setback to the encouraging first talks, which offer a small hope of de-escalating the Syrian conflict.''
Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffan Siebert, simply said
''We call on Ankara and Moscow to do everything possible to avoid a further escalation.''
These words put Ankara - a German ally and NATO partner - on the same level as Moscow, Berlin's and NATO's supposed adversary.
Elsewhere words of support for Turkey have been lukewarm at best.
Steve Warren, spokesman for the US-led Combined Joint Task Force, said
''This is an incident between the Russian and the Turkish governments. It is not an issue that involves the [US-led coalition operations]. Our combat operations against ISIL (IS, ISIS) continue as planned and we are striking in both Iraq and Syria.''
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron - usually a staunch critic of Russia's - put it this way:
''The prime minister strongly encouraged (Turkish) Prime Minister Davutoglu to make sure that there was direct communication between the Turks and the Russians on this.''
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop - one of the most outspoken critics of Russia in connection with the MH17 tragedy - said:
''We are concerned about the incident where a Russian aircraft was shot down in the Syrian-Turkish border area, and we ask relevant parties to exercise restraint''.
Lastly, Obama himself, in a telephone conversation to Erdogan, mixed his support with a plain warning. According to a White House statement he said that
''(Whilst) US and NATO support Turkey's right to defend its sovereignty'...'...The leaders (ie. Obama and Erdogan - AM) agreed on the importance of de-escalating the situation and pursuing arrangements to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.''
It is impossible to read in these comments anything other than an implied - and in the German case a not so implied - rebuke of Erdogan. If is he after all he who has failed to exercise ''restraint'' by authorising his air force to shoot the SU24 down.
The West has not yet quite brought itself to abandon him. However he is now under notice to behave himself. If he fails to do so he risks finding himself on his own.
Colorado Springs shooting: 3 dead in shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado - CBS News
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 09:53
Last Updated Nov 28, 2015 12:00 AM EST
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- An alleged gunman surrendered to police Friday, five hours after he opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
Police Lt. Catherine Buckley said two civilians and one police officer were killed. The officer was from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs police department, which was among the local law enforcement agencies that responded.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey.
UCCS
In a statement, university chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak identified the slain officer as Garrett Swasey, 44.
He was a six-year veteran of the department, which Shockley-Zalabak said is comprised of "sworn, state-certified police officers."
"UCCS is working with Officer Swasey's family and continues to support the Colorado Springs Police Department at the shooting scene," Shockley-Zalabak said.
Nine people who were wounded -- five police officers and four civilians -- were hospitalized in good condition, Buckley said. The extent of their injuries was not known, although CBS Denver reported that one officer was shot in the hand.
Three law enforcement sources identified the suspect to CBS News as Robert Lewis Dear, 57. Authorities believed he acted alone, according to Buckley.
A suspect is taken into custody outside a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado November 27, 2015.
REUTERS
"It is too early to speculate on a motive," she said.
A law enforcement source told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton the suspect was being interviewed by authorities. The local district attorney was present.
PlayVideo
CBS Evening NewsFBI warned of attacks on reproductive health care clinics months agoAfter the Congressional fight over funding Planned Parenthood a few months ago, the FBI reported an increase of threats to their facilities. Jeff...
A source told CBS News justice correspondent Jeff Pegues the suspect was cooperating. Investigators were looking through his background and trying to determine if he had made threats against the facility in the past.
Authorities received a call of shots being fired at the clinic shortly before noon. Buckley said that the initial information police received was that the shooter was armed with a "long gun."
Pegues reported that the suspected gunman fired shots upon entering the building, which was guarded by security.
Buckley said that officers continued to encounter gunfire inside the building as police evacuated people who had taken cover in closets and bathrooms.
Authorities were concerned explosives may also have been involved, Pegues reported.
Buckley said the suspect "brought several items with him" into the Planned Parenthood building, which needed to be checked. She would not elaborate.
The building's bulletproof windows proved to be a challenge for police as they tried to bring the incident to a close, Pegues reported.
Two women are evacuated from a building where a shooter was suspected to be still holed up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 27, 2015.
REUTERS
"Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the brave law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm's way in Colorado Springs," Cecile Richards, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "We are profoundly grateful for their heroism in helping to protect all women, men and young people as they access basic health care in this country."
In a statement, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said the organization didn't know whether its clinic was the target of the attack.
"We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country," the statement said. "We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust."
Police officers secure a road leading to a Planned Parenthood center after reports of an active shooter in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Nov. 27, 2015.
Reuters/Isaiah J. Downing
Investigators were working off the theory that the suspect specifically targeted Planned Parenthood as some form of violent protest against the organization, sources told Pegues.
For several months, law enforcement has been concerned about people targeting reproductive health care facilities -- specifically Planned Parenthood locations across the country, Pegues reported.
As CBS News first reported in September, an FBI intelligence bulletin went out to law enforcement agencies nationwide with that warning. It came as Congress was debating Planned Parenthood funding, and on the heels of the release of a series of videos by the Center for Medical Progress that purported to show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue from abortions.
PlayVideo
CBS Evening NewsFBI investigates attacks on Planned Parenthood officesThe FBI is investigating a series of attacks on Planned Parenthood offices around the country, including arson. Weijia Jiang has the latest.
The September intelligence bulletin warned of "lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement."
At that time, there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia. In one incident, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard's car and set the vehicle on fire.
According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado, in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility there, causing a fire.
President Obama was briefed on the shooting by his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, and would be updated on the situation as necessary.
The shooting spurred the New York Police Department to assign critical response vehicles at Planned Parenthood locations throughout the city as a precaution, a NYPD official told CBS News' Pat Milton.
Joan Motolinia said his sister, Jennifer, was trapped inside the clinic and hiding behind a table from someone shooting inside the building when she called him.
"She was telling me to take care of her babies because she could get killed," Motolinia said of the mother of three.
He rushed to the clinic but was frustrated because a police barricade kept him from getting close.
"People were shooting for sure. I heard someone shooting. There was a lot of gunfire. She was calm she was trying to hide from those people," he said.
Joan Motolinia
CBS News
Police cordoned off the clinic, nearby medical offices and a shopping center and told people to shelter in place.
Denise Speller, manager of a hair salon near the clinic, said she heard as many as 20 gunshots in the span of less than five minutes.
She told The Gazette newspaper that she saw a police cruiser and two officers near a Chase Bank branch, not far from the Planned Parenthood facility.
One of the officers appeared to fall to the ground and the other office knelt down to help and then tried to get the officer to safety behind the car, she said. Another officer told Speller to seek shelter inside the building.
"We're still pretty freaked out," Speller said by phone. "We can't stop shaking. For now we're stuck back here not knowing."
Ambulances and police vehicles were lined up at the nearby intersection and police told people via Twitter to stay away from the shooting scene because it was not secure.
Mike Pelosi, who works at a deli at a nearby King Sooper grocery store, said he heard over the store's loudspeaker just before noon that nobody could leave the store.
Pelosi said customers and store employees were confused about what was going on but not panicked. He said a couple dozen customers were standing near the store entrance waiting for instructions.
The Planned Parenthood clinic is located next to a medical office building and near a shopping complex that included the King Sooper and other stores and restaurants.
(C) 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Colorado Springs: a playground for pro-life, pro-gun Evangelical Christians | US news | The Guardian
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 09:43
People are escorted away from the scene by police after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs on Friday. Photograph: Daniel Owen/ZUMA Press/Corbis
Colorado Springs, the location of an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three people dead, is a centre of rightwing Christian culture with a ''wild west mentality'' when it comes to guns.
The attack, by a lone gunman carrying a rifle or shotgun, took place at a clinic that is the site of regular anti-abortion protests by the city's pro-life Christian groups.
Planned Parenthood, aware of hostility about their work, recently moved to the new facility, hoping it would provide more security for staff.
The building has been likened to a fortress by anti-abortion campaigners and Friday's attacks revealed that it is equipped with ''safe rooms'' for staff to shelter in the event of such an event. It also has an extensive security camera system.
With anti-abortion policies supported by many Republican presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, rhetoric attacking Planned Parenthood and other such organisations is not hard to find in the city.
Last spring, following the gruesome attack on a Colorado woman who had her unborn-baby ripped from her womb with a knife, state representative and Springs resident Gordon Klingenschmitt said the attack was ''the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb''.
Colorado's second largest city, with a population of 445,800, has built itself a reputation as a playground for white, pro-gun, pro-life Evangelical Christians. It is also home to one army base, two air force bases, and an air force.
Colorado Springs featured in the documentary film Jesus Camp, where evangelical Christian children were taught to engage in anti-abortion protests. Two of the film's lead characters travelled to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where they met church pastor Ted Haggard, a one-time leader of the National Association of Evangelicals who had weekly communications with president George W Bush. Haggard resigned from his position later that same year following revelations that he purchased methamphetamine and the services of a male prostitute.
The city's pro-gun contingent flexed its muscles in 2014 with an unprecedented recall election, ousting state senator John Morse. The recall was primarily motivated by new gun control laws in Colorado '' following the Aurora cinema shootings in Denver '' which banned magazines holding more than 15 rounds, and demanded a universal background check for all gun purchases.
As the first state to legalise abortion and the first to implement a regulated marijuana market, Colorado is a state that doesn't take kindly to government infringements on personal rights.
Three weeks before Friday's Planned Parenthood shooting, a man was seen brandishing a rifle while walking down the streets of Colorado Springs on Halloween morning. A concerned citizen called the 911 Emergency Line to notify the police, but was told by the operator: ''Well, it is an open carry state, so he can have a weapon with him or walking around with it,'' referencing state laws that allow the brandishing of a firearm in public.
Shortly after the call the man shot and killed three people before being shot dead by police.
Following the Halloween shooting, Colorado Springs resident Jessie Pocock organised a vigil with her fellow citizens, who expressed a mix of grief and outrage at the deaths. She feels that there is a ''wild west mentality'' when it comes to guns in Colorado Springs.
''It's important that we can go to the grocery store and not be worried about someone randomly shooting us down on the streets, and right now that is not the case in Colorado Springs, said Pocock, who lives close to the abortion clinic. ''You're not safe on the streets here, and that is a problem.''
Colorado Springs' year of violence began last January when a bomb detonated outside the local chapter of the NAACP. No one was harmed in the attack, but the incident put many in Colorado Springs on edge.
''I'm a little overwhelmed with the war zone that is my home,'' says Pocock.
'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli weasels out of promise to roll back insane cost increase of pills
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 00:38
The price-gouging ''pharma bro'' is backing out of his promise to lower the cost of Daraprim after jacking up its price by more than 5,000 percent.
Martin Shkreli, chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, became known as ''the most hated man on the Internet'' after raising the price of the drug, which is used to treat parasitic infections, from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
He backed down shortly after the controversy erupted and pledged to roll back the cost of the 62-year-old drug to its original price '-- but the company said earlier this month the price would be only modestly rolled back.
Turing announced Tuesday that the price for Daraprim would not change, after all '-- although the company offered to negotiate a discount of up to 50 percent with hospitals.
The company's chief commercial officer, Nancy Retzlaff, pledged that no patient would ever be denied access to Daraprim but defended the continued price increase.
''Drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry,'' Retzlaff said in a statement. A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access.''
But medical experts said the pills, even at $375 each, would be too costly for most patients.
''A 50 percent reduction after a 5,000 percent price increase still makes this an extremely expensive drug, and still prevents most hospitals from keeping it in stock,'' said Joel Gallant, of Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. ''Suffice it to say that this announcement doesn't satisfy anyone.''
It's not clear whether Turing will offer the hospital discount to insurers, although the company said it would provide free samples to some health-care providers and sell smaller bottles of the pills to make them more affordable.
Shkreli led a group of investors this week in buying up 70 percent of outstanding shares of the troubled biotech company KaloBios Pharmaceuticals '-- or, as a Dealbreaker headline announced: ''Desperate pharmaceutical company hits rock bottom, names Martin Shkreli CEO.''
Turing is currently under investigation by lawmakers for alleged price-gouging, although Shkreli has said he won't cooperate without a subpoena.
A ''real f*cking doctor'' shredded Shkreli's arguments during an online question-and-answer session after the CEO was unable to explain why the drug's price should be dramatically increased.
Daraprim, which is listed as an essential drug by the World Health Organization, is available in other countries for less than $1 a pill.
The pharmaceutical company Imprimis said last month that it would produce a generic alternative to the drug for $1 a pill.
Is Science Kind of a Scam? - The New Yorker
Sat, 28 Nov 2015 00:21
Credit Illustration by Oliver MundayWhat makes science science? The pious answers are: its ceaseless curiosity in the face of mystery, its keen edge of experimental objectivity, its endless accumulation of new data, and the cool machines it uses. We stare, the scientists see; we gawk, they gaze. We guess; they know.
But there are revisionist scholars who question the role of scientists as magi. Think how much we take on faith, even with those wonders of science that seem open to the non-specialist's eye. The proliferation of hominids'--all those near-men and proto-men and half-apes found in the fossil record, exactly as Darwin predicted'--rests on the interpretation of a few blackened Serengeti mandibles that it would take a lifetime's training to really evaluate. (And those who have put in the time end up squabbling anyway.)
Worse, small hints of what seems like scamming reach even us believers. Every few weeks or so, in the Science Times, we find out that some basic question of the universe has now been answered'--but why, we wonder, weren't we told about the puzzle until after it was solved? Results announced as certain turn out to be hard to replicate. Triumphs look retrospectively engineered. This has led revisionist historians and philosophers to suggest that science is a kind of scam'--a socially agreed-on fiction no more empirically grounded than any other socially agreed-on fiction, a faith like any other (as the defenders of faiths like any other like to say). Back when, people looked at old teeth and broken bones with the eye of faith and called them relics; we look at them with the eye of another faith and call them proof. What's different?
The defense of science against this claim turns out to be complicated, for the simple reason that, as a social activity, science is vulnerable to all the comedy inherent in any social activity: group thinking, self-pleasing, and running down the competition in order to get the customer's (or, in this case, the government's) cash. Books about the history of science should therefore be about both science and scientists, about the things they found and the way they found them. A good science writer has to show us the fallible men and women who made the theory, and then show us why, after the human foibles are boiled off, the theory remains reliable.
No well-tested scientific concept is more astonishing than the one that gives its name to a new book by the Scientific American contributing editor George Musser, ''Spooky Action at a Distance'' (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The ostensible subject is the mechanics of quantum entanglement; the actual subject is the entanglement of its observers. Musser presents the hard-to-grasp physics of ''non-locality,'' and his question isn't so much how this weird thing can be true as why, given that this weird thing had been known about for so long, so many scientists were so reluctant to confront it. What keeps a scientific truth from spreading?
The story dates to the early decades of quantum theory, in the nineteen-twenties and thirties, when Albert Einstein was holding out against the ''probabilistic'' views about the identity of particles and waves held by a younger generation of theoretical physicists. He created what he thought of as a reductio ad absurdum. Suppose, he said, that particles like photons and electrons really do act like waves, as the new interpretations insisted, and that, as they also insisted, their properties can be determined only as they are being measured. Then, he pointed out, something else would have to be true: particles that were part of a single wave function would be permanently ''entangled,'' no matter how far from each other they migrated. If you have a box full of photons governed by one wave function, and one escapes, the escapee remains entangled in the fate of the particles it left behind'--like the outer edges of the ripples spreading from a pebble thrown into a pond. An entangled particle, measured here in the Milky Way, would have to show the same spin'--or the opposite spin, depending'--or momentum as its partner, conjoined millions of light-years away, when measured at the same time. Like Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, no matter how far they spread apart they would still be helplessly conjoined. Einstein's point was that such a phenomenon could only mean that the particles were somehow communicating with each other instantaneously, at a speed faster than light, violating the laws of nature. This was what he condemned as ''spooky action at a distance.''
John Donne, thou shouldst be living at this hour! One can only imagine what the science-loving Metaphysical poet would have made of a metaphor that had two lovers spinning in unison no matter how far apart they were. But Musser has a nice, if less exalted, analogy for the event: it is as if two magic coins, flipped at different corners of the cosmos, always came up heads or tails together. (The spooky action takes place only in the context of simultaneous measurement. The particles share states, but they don't send signals.)
What started out as a reductio ad absurdum became proof that the cosmos is in certain ways absurd. What began as a bug became a feature and is now a fact. Musser takes us into the lab of the Colgate professor Enrique Galvez, who has constructed a simple apparatus that allows him to entangle photons and then show that ''the photons are behaving like a pair of magic coins. . . .They are not in contact, and no known force links them, yet they act as one.'' With near-quantum serendipity, the publication of Musser's book has coincided with news of another breakthrough experiment, in which scientists at Delft University measured two hundred and forty-five pairs of entangled electrons and confirmed the phenomenon with greater rigor than before. The certainty that spooky action at a distance takes place, Musser says, challenges the very notion of ''locality,'' our intuitive sense that some stuff happens only here, and some stuff over there. What's happening isn't really spooky action at a distance; it's spooky distance, revealed through an action.
Why, then, did Einstein's question get excluded for so long from reputable theoretical physics? The reasons, unfolding through generations of physicists, have several notable social aspects, worthy of Trollope's studies of how private feuds affect public decisions. Musser tells us that fashion, temperament, zeitgeist, and sheer tenacity affected the debate, along with evidence and argument. The ''indeterminacy'' of the atom was, for younger European physicists, ''a lesson of modernity, an antidote to a misplaced Enlightenment trust in reason, which German intellectuals in the 1920's widely held responsible for their country's defeat in the First World War.'' The tonal and temperamental difference between the scientists was as great as the evidence they called on.
Musser tracks the action at the ''Solvay'' meetings, scientific conferences held at an institute in Brussels in the twenties. (Ernest Solvay was a rich Belgian chemist with a taste for high science.) Einstein and Niels Bohr met and argued over breakfast and dinner there, talking past each other more than to each other. Musser writes, ''Bohr punted on Einstein's central concern about links between distant locations in space,'' preferring to focus on the disputes about probability and randomness in nature. As Musser says, the ''indeterminacy'' questions of whether what you measured was actually indefinite or just unknowable until you measured it was an important point, but not this important point.
Musser explains that the big issue was settled mainly by being pushed aside. Generational imperatives trumped evidentiary ones. The things that made Einstein the lovable genius of popular imagination were also the things that made him an easy object of condescension. The hot younger theorists patronized him, one of Bohr's colleagues sneering that if a student had raised Einstein's objections ''I would have considered him quite intelligent and promising.''
There was never a decisive debate, never a hallowed crucial experiment, never even a winning argument to settle the case, with one physicist admitting, ''Most physicists (including me) accept that Bohr won the debate, although like most physicists I am hard pressed to put into words just how it was done.'' Arguing about non-locality went out of fashion, in this account, almost the way ''Rock Around the Clock'' displaced Sinatra from the top of the charts.
The same pattern of avoidance and talking-past and taking on the temper of the times turns up in the contemporary science that has returned to the possibility of non-locality. Musser notes that Geoffrey Chew's attack on the notion of underlying laws in physics ''was radical, and radicalism went over well in '60's-era Berkeley.'' The British mathematician Roger Penrose's assaults on string theory in the nineties were intriguing but too intemperate and too inconclusive for the room: ''Penrose didn't help his cause with his outspoken skepticism. . . . Valid though his critiques might have been, they weren't calculated to endear him to his colleagues.''
Indeed, Musser, though committed to empirical explanation, suggests that the revival of ''non-locality'' as a topic in physics may be due to our finding the metaphor of non-locality ever more palatable: ''Modern communications technology may not technically be non-local but it sure feels that it is.'' Living among distant connections, where what happens in Bangalore happens in Boston, we are more receptive to the idea of such a strange order in the universe. Musser sums it up in an enviable aphorism: ''If poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility, then science is tranquility recollected in emotion.'' The seemingly neutral order of the natural world becomes the sounding board for every passionate feeling the physicist possesses.
Is science, then, a club like any other, with fetishes and fashions, with schemers, dreamers, and blackballed applicants? Is there a real demarcation to be made between science and every other kind of social activity? One of Musser's themes is that the boundary between inexplicable-seeming magical actions and explicable physical phenomena is a fuzzy one. The lunar theory of tides is an instance. Galileo's objection to it was like Einstein's to the quantum theory: that the moon working an occult influence on the oceans was obviously magical nonsense. This objection became Newton's point: occult influences could be understood soberly and would explain the movement of the stars and planets. What was magic became mathematical and then mundane. ''Magical'' explanations, like spooky action, are constantly being revived and rebuffed, until, at last, they are reinterpreted and accepted. Instead of a neat line between science and magic, then, we see a jumpy, shifting boundary that keeps getting redrawn. It's like the ''Looney Tunes'' cartoon where Bugs draws a line in the dirt and dares Yosemite Sam to ''just cross over dis line'''--and then, when Sam does, Bugs redraws it, over and over, ever backward, until, in the end, Sam steps over a cliff. Real-world demarcations between science and magic, Musser's story suggests, are like Bugs's: made on the move and as much a trap as a teaching aid.
In the past several decades, certainly, the old lines between the history of astrology and astronomy, and between alchemy and chemistry, have been blurred; historians of the scientific revolution no longer insist on a clean break between science and earlier forms of magic. Where once logical criteria between science and non-science (or pseudo-science) were sought and taken seriously'--Karl Popper's criterion of ''falsifiability'' was perhaps the most famous, insisting that a sound theory could, in principle, be proved wrong by one test or another'--many historians and philosophers of science have come to think that this is a na¯ve view of how the scientific enterprise actually works. They see a muddle of coercion, old magical ideas, occasional experiment, hushed-up failures'--all coming together in a social practice that gets results but rarely follows a definable logic.
Yet the old notion of a scientific revolution that was really a revolution is regaining some credibility. David Wootton, in his new, encyclopedic history, ''The Invention of Science'' (Harper), recognizes the blurred lines between magic and science but insists that the revolution lay in the public nature of the new approach. ''What killed alchemy was not experimentation,'' he writes. He goes on:
What killed alchemy was the insistence that experiments must be openly reported in publications which presented a clear account of what had happened, and they must then be replicated, preferably before independent witnesses. The alchemists had pursued a secret learning, convinced that only a few were fit to have knowledge of divine secrets and that the social order would collapse if gold ceased to be in short supply. . . . Esoteric knowledge was replaced by a new form of knowledge, which depended both on publication and on public or semi-public performance. A closed society was replaced by an open one.
In a piquant way, Wootton, while making little of Popper's criterion of falsifiability, makes it up to him by borrowing a criterion from his political philosophy. Scientific societies are open societies. One day the lunar tides are occult, the next day they are science, and what changes is the way in which we choose to talk about them.
Wootton also insists, against the grain of contemporary academia, that single observed facts, what he calls ''killer facts,'' really did polish off antique authorities. Facts are not themselves obvious: the fact of the fact had to be invented, litigated, and re-litigated. But, once we agree that the facts are facts, they can do amazing work. Traditional Ptolemaic astronomy, in place for more than a millennium, was destroyed by what Galileo discovered about the phases of Venus. That killer fact ''serves as a single, solid, and strong argument to establish its revolution around the Sun, such that no room whatsoever remains for doubt,'' Galileo wrote, and Wootton adds, ''No one was so foolish as to dispute these claims.'' Observation was theory-soaked'--Wootton shows a delightful drawing of a crater on the moon that does not actually exist, drawn by a dutiful English astronomer who had just been reading Galileo'--and facts were, as always, tempered by our desires. But there they were, all the same, smiling fiendishly, like cartoon barracudas, as they ate up old orbits.
Several things flow from Wootton's view. One is that ''group think'' in the sciences is often true think. Science has always been made in a cloud of social networks. But this power of assent is valuable only if there's a willingness to look a killer fact in the eye. The Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall's new book, ''Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs'' (Ecco), has as its arresting central thesis the idea that a disk of dark matter might exist in the Milky Way, perturbing the orbits of comets and potentially sending them periodically toward Earth, where they are likely to produce large craters and extinctions. But the theory is plausible only because a single killer fact murdered an earlier theory'--which held that an unseen star was out there, doing the perturbing and the extincting. Every newer orbiting telescope has scanned the skies, and the so-called Nemesis star hasn't shown up. Disks of dark matter can now appear in the space left empty by the star's absence.
A similar pattern is apparent in the case of the search for ''Vulcan,'' the hypothesized planet that, in the nineteenth century, sat between Mercury and the sun and explained perturbations in Mercury's orbit. As Thomas Levenson explains in ''The Hunt for Vulcan'' (Random House), nineteenth-century astronomers were so in love with the idea of the missing planet that many of them, bewitched by random shadows, insisted they had seen it through their telescopes. Only in 1915, when Einstein emerged with a new interpretation of the perturbations (something to do with gravity as space-time curvature), could astronomers stop ''seeing'' what wasn't there.
There has been much talk in the pop-sci world of ''memes'''--ideas that somehow manage to replicate themselves in our heads. But perhaps the real memes are not ideas or tunes or artifacts but ways of making them'--habits of mind rather than products of mind. Science isn't a slot machine, where you drop in facts and get out truths. But it is a special kind of social activity, one where lots of different human traits'--obstinacy, curiosity, resentment of authority, sheer cussedness, and a grudging readiness to submit pet notions to popular scrutiny'--end by producing reliable knowledge. The spread of Bill James's ideas on baseball, from mimeographed sheets to the front offices of the Red Sox, is a nice instance of how a scientific turn of mind spread to a place where science hadn't usually gone. (James himself knew it, remarking that if he was going to be Galileo someone had to be the Pope.)
One way or another, science really happens. The claim that basic research is valuable because it leads to applied technology may be true but perhaps is not at the heart of the social use of the enterprise. The way scientists do think makes us aware of how we can think. Samuel Johnson said that a performer riding on three horses may not accomplish anything, but he increases our respect for the faculties of man. The scientists who show that nature rides three horses at once'--or even two horses, on opposite sides of the universe'--also widen our respect for what we are capable of imagining, and it is this action, at its own spooky distance, that really entangles our minds. '...
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Putin and Hollande go after Erdogan's racket '-- RT Op-Edge
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:32
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.
It all started with French President Francois Hollande, after the Paris attacks, having the temerity to advance the idea of France working together with Russia in the same coalition against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip ''no excuse'' Erdogan thought NATO and Russia by this time would be at each other's '' Cold War 2.0 '' nuclear throats, while Washington had brushed off Hollande's idea with a cascade of platitudes and distortions.
And in less than 17 seconds, Prime Minister Ahmet ''I ordered it myself'' Davutoglu had authorized Turkey to shoot down a Russian Su-24 - only a few hours before Hollande met with President Obama.
So everything seemed to be falling into place. No chance of a new d(C)tente between the Atlanticist powers and NATO. On the contrary. Erdogan was sure he had sabotaged for good the Hollande-Putin face-to-face meeting in Moscow.
Not so fast, Sultan.
Read more
In Moscow, Hollande and Putin confirmed that France and Russia will not be torn apart. The French leader declared: "What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit."
Now that unveils a thrilling horizon. In the ''to hit'' section we already find Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, which the Vienna negotiations have already branded as terrorists.
And considering that al-Nusra has gobbled up, co-opted or instrumentalized an array of Salafi outfits, ''moderate'' or otherwise, it won't be hard for the Russians to convince the French these are all legitimate targets.
Also significant is that France will increase support to ''rebels'' fighting Daesh on the ground; that's code for the YPG Syrian Kurds '' one of Erdogan's nemeses alongside the PKK.
So the Sultan's risky shoot down investment is not paying too many dividends. What if Hollande came up with the same old scratched Obama CD, as in ''Assad just go'', while Putin re-emphasized that ''the fate of the president of Syria must stay in the hands of the Syrian people"? Everyone knows this is not the main priority of the Vienna negotiations. The main priority '' as reiterated by the declaration of war inbuilt in UNSC resolution 2249 - is to smash ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
And then the clincher, as Putin and Hollande reached a consensus: there will be a barrage of air strikes against the fuel tanker truck convoys transporting stolen Syrian oil across Daesh-controlled territory on the way to Turkey.
There goes in flames the profitable racket of 'Sultan's' son Bilal Erdogan, a.k.a. 'Erdogan Mini Me', one of three shareholders of marine transportation corporation BMZ.
Send in the Sukhois!
Putin delivered a sarcastic cruise missile as he said it was "theoretically possible" that Ankara didn't know about stolen Syrian oil entering Turkish territory from all points Daesh, but he added that was hard to imagine.
So leaving nothing to the imagination, one of Russia's S-400 AA missile defense systems is already on combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase, and another one is on the way.
The 'Sultan' has been warned. From now on Russia has three major priorities:
1. A de facto no-fly zone already in effect south of the Turkish-Syrian border enforced by the S-400s. Ankara is so scared it grounded even owls and crows.
2. Already in effect; Russia will hit '' hard - anything that suspiciously moves on every transport corridor in and out of Turkey. Turkish "humanitarian" convoys '' carrying, what else, weapons '' were pulverized in Azaz, which is only five kilometers from the Turkish border. And truck distribution points were also bombed near Raqqa.
3. Already in effect; Russia massively bombing the whole wide region where CIA ops run a cash and weapon highway to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and ''innocent'' Turkmen. Russia started carpet bombing the Jabal Turkmen area immediately after Russian pilot Lt. Col Oleg Pershin was rescued.
As I detailed here, there is absolutely nothing ''innocent'' about this whole war theatre crammed with a dozen al-Qaeda-friendly Turkmen militias.
And there's more.
Not only Russia will smash the Turkmen/Chechen/Uzbek/Turkish Islamo-fascist militia connection in Latakia Province; it will most of all smash the Syrian stolen oil bonanza which benefits 'Erdogan Mini Me'. Extra bonus: Smash the sea tankers as well. Francois Hollande abides.
So 'Erdogan Mini Me' better seek refuge in Dubai. But oops, that does not preclude an ''accident'' after a wild night in town.
Highway to Hell
By now, Erdogan and 'Mini Me' must have gotten the message. They thought they had it covered when they took out the Su-24, which was not ''violating'' anything apart from the ultra-lucrative dirty oil extravaganza that profits, among others, 'Mini Me'. Get rid of a sell oil for Daesh program, defying a NATO oil embargo? That's an offer Russia cannot refuse.
At least two major questions are left unanswered. How come the US-led 'Coalition of Dodgy Opportunists' (CDO), in over a year, never '' and the operative word is never '' bombed any of the wheels in the Syrian stolen oil machine?
And how come no one among the CDO '' Americans especially '' did anything to prevent 'Mini Me' and others from actually funding the Daesh racket for so long? The CIA obviously knows all this and more, with geostationary satellites all over 'Syraq' working overtime.Well, the CIA was too busy running the cash and weapons highway through Turkmen Mountain to be disturbed by a mere oil smuggling op.
But now Russia is going after all of them; the CIA weapon highway, the Turkish-enabled Jihadi highway, the Daesh-to-Turkey stolen oil highway. Sultan and 'Mini Me', get ready to embark on a highway to hell.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Security Council 'Unequivocally' Condemns ISIL Terrorist Attacks, Unanimously Adopting Text that Determines Extremist Group Poses 'Unprecedented' Threat | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:32
The Security Council determined today that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) constituted an ''unprecedented'' threat to international peace and security, calling upon Member States with the requisite capacity to take ''all necessary measures'' to prevent and suppress its terrorist acts on territory under its control in Syria and Iraq.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2249 (2015), the Council unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL '-- also known as Da'esh '-- on 26 June in Sousse, on 10 October in Ankara, on 31 October over the Sina¯ Peninsula, on 12 November in Beirut and on 13 November in Paris, among others. It expressed its deepest condolences to the victims and their families, as well as to the people and Governments of Tunisia, Turkey, Russian Federation, Lebanon and France.
The 15-member body condemned in the strongest terms ISIL's gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights, as well as its destruction and looting of cultural heritage. Those who committed, or were otherwise responsible for, terrorist acts or human rights violations must be held accountable. By other terms, the Council urged Member States to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria, and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism.
Following the vote, nearly all Council members took the floor to decry the ''barbaric'' attacks and hateful world view espoused by ISIL, reaffirming their support in both stemming the threat and bringing perpetrators to justice. In an echo of the sentiments voiced by many around the table Spain's representative declared: ''Today, we are all French, Russian, Malian and Arab,'' adding: ''It is time to act with a French, Russian, Malian and Arab heart.'' The Council had a duty to guarantee the values and principles of the United Nations, and all must close ranks to vanquish terrorism, he stressed.
France's representative, recalling that Da'esh had perpetrated an act of war against his country on 13 November, said today's vote signalled recognition of the threat's exceptional nature. The fight against terrorism could only be effective if combined with a political transition that would eliminate Da'esh, he said, adding that France had obtained activation of the European Union's mutual solidarity clause.
The Russian Federation's representative said today's unanimous vote was a step towards the creation of a broad anti-terrorism front aimed at eradicating root causes. That also had been the aim of a Russian draft presented to the Council on 30 September, he said, describing attempts by some to block his delegation's efforts as politically short-sighted.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, United States, Nigeria, Lithuania, Jordan, New Zealand, Chile, Angola, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 5:32 p.m. and ended at 6:16 p.m.
Statements
FRAN‡OIS DELATTRE (France) recalled that, on 13 November, Da'esh had perpetrated an act of war against France. The outcome had been deadly: 130 dead and 600 injured. Not only had Da'esh struck France, it sought a target far beyond '-- the world. Some 24 nationalities were among those who had died, he said, noting that Da'esh had attacked Lebanon, Turkey, Russian Federation and many other countries. The President of France had noted the country's absolute determination to combat Da'esh with all means necessary, while remaining loyal to United Nations values. By adopting the resolution, the Council had unanimously recognized the exceptional nature of the threat, and had called on all Member States to eradicate Da'esh sanctuaries and push back its ideology. The text provided a guarantee that there would be an effective fight against transnational terrorism, he said, pointing out that collective action could now be based on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The fight against terrorism could only be effective if combined with a political transition that would put an end to Da'esh, he said, adding that France had obtained activation of the European Union's mutual solidarity clause.
LIU JIEYI (China) said that ISIL and other terrorist organizations had launched deadly attacks around the world and had killed Chinese citizens, among others. Emphasizing that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, he said all terrorist acts were grave criminal acts that threatened international peace and security. While the international community must join hands and form a united front against terrorism, actions must also address the root causes and the financing of terrorism. Combating East Turkistan terrorist forces was an important part of the fight.
ROMN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), declaring ''today, we are French, Russian and Arab'', praised the Council's quick and united action. The only way to combat terrorism was to continue with one's own way of life, he said, quoting a Roman Emperor who once said: ''The best revenge is not to be like them.'' The Council had a duty to guarantee the values and principles of the United Nations, and all must close ranks to vanquish terrorism. It was time for citizens of the world to form a coalition to oppose those ''who wish to slit our throats''.
MICHELE SISON (United States) said her country's Government stood with victims of terrorism from all faiths and nationalities. Accelerated efforts were needed to degrade the hateful world view espoused by ISIL and Al-Nusrah Front. Welcoming the resolution's call upon States to take all necessary measures, in accordance with international law, to counter those groups, she declared: ''We must choke off funding, arms and other support.'' Iraq faced the threat of attacks from ISIL in Syria, and the Syrian Government had shown that it could not and would not suppress that threat. The United States was working with Iraq, and leading an international mission, in line with the United Nations Charter, taking necessary and proportionate military action to deny ISIL safe haven, she said. It looked forward to continuing cooperation within the Council's sanctions committees to implement those and other tools against extremist groups. She called upon the Council to support a political process in Syria and to establish a process leading to an inclusive, non-sectarian Government in that country.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said, ''we are all outraged over attacks in Sinai and Paris'', as well as in Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon and Mali. Unequivocally condemning all terrorist acts, he said the masterminds would be punished. The Government of the Russian Federation sought broad cooperation with other States to that end. ''We had to support the French resolution,'' he said, noting that despite a tight time frame, France's delegation had taken his country's amendments on board. The United Nations Charter should be the foundation of anti-terrorism efforts, a reference now included in the text. Emphasizing that the statement by the International Syria Support Group, alongside the Geneva communiqu(C), should be used to settle the crisis in Syria, he said, describing today's unanimous vote as a step towards the creation of a broad anti-terrorism front aimed at eradicating root causes. That was also the aim of a Russian draft presented to the Council on 30 September, and attempts by some to block such efforts were politically short-sighted, he added.
KAYODE LARO (Nigeria) condemned attacks by ISIL in Paris, by Boko Haram in Nigeria and by Al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Bamako in the strongest terms, emphasizing that the perpetrators must be relentlessly pursued and brought to justice. Resolution 2249 (2015) provided a framework for achieving that, and States must now implement it.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania), welcoming the prompt adoption of the resolution, said today's terrorists were ''outpacing and out-high-teching'' United Nations counterterrorism efforts. Calling for a revaluation of existing instruments and measures, she emphasized that all parts of the counter-terrorism system, both within and outside the United Nations, must work as one, from assessment to assistance. A breakthrough was also urgently needed in tackling the financing of terrorism, given the increasing diversification and complexity of funding sources and channels, as well as the nefarious links between terrorism and organized cross-border crime. ''We will have to deal with the uneasy question of how much of our liberties and freedoms we are ready to sacrifice to ensure our safety and security in a way that does not support repression,'' she added.
DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said terrorism sought to destroy the values of coexistence and had now become a global war. The adoption of today's resolution reflected the need to reinforce and coordinate international efforts in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) and other terrorist groups. Through the unanimous vote, the Council had demonstrated its unity, she said, adding that his country would combat terrorism by all means possible.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said his delegation stood in solidarity with the victims of attacks by ISIL and other groups. The Council must speak up in times of crisis, and today it had sent a strong message of unity in the fight against terrorism. The Council had an important role in uniting the international community.
CRISTIN BARROS MELET (Chile) said his delegation valued the resounding message sent by the Council through the resolution's unanimous vote. The authors of terrorist acts must be brought to justice. All Council resolutions on the matter must be applied, he stressed. Combating terrorism was in keeping with obligations of international law, but the international community must also identify the root causes. Chile would continue to support action against terrorism by the Council and all multilateral organizations, he said.
ISMAEL ABRAƒO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said his Government had supported the resolution as an important step in combating terrorism and building an ''indispensable'' international coalition. Condemning ISIL as an unprecedented threat to international peace and security, he said its eradication, as well as that of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups was a priority. Terrorists had shown their capacity to spread their ideology through attacks, human rights violations and hatred towards others on cultural, religious or ethnic grounds. Their heinous acts included trafficking in cultural resources and recruiting fighters on a scale rarely seen since the Second World War. It was time for the international community to ''set aside national egos and arrogance'' and work towards a global coalition to fight terrorism, he emphasized, expressing hope that the resolution's adoption would be a ''wake-up call'' for a radical change in attitudes on the part of the world's main players.
RAFAEL DARO RAMREZ CARRE‘O (Venezuela) welcomed the resolution's rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of motivation, emphasizing that tackling terrorism must be done without double standards. ''There are no good terrorists and bad terrorists,'' he said, reiterating that terrorism endangered territorial integrity and unity among States. Expressing alarm over the military support offered to terrorist groups such as ISIL and Al-Nusrah Front, which allowed them to destabilize legitimate Governments and halt socioeconomic development. Now more than ever, the Council must address its root causes and develop effective strategies to stop terrorist narratives, he stressed, adding that it must act in a more preventative manner. The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters was global, requiring the implementation of resolutions on financing, training and illicit arms transfers, he said, voicing hope that today's resolution would be coordinated with the concerned countries.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, declared that today the Council had sent a clear message that there would be no respite from its efforts to stop and destroy ISIL, whose brutality understood no bounds, and whose determination to carry out attacks must be met with greater resolve to defeat them. ''This resolution is a powerful, international recognition of the threat ISIL poses,'' he said, calling for all lawful actions and measures to combat it. ''This resolution reminds us that measures must be implemented if the international response is to succeed.'' The Council stood in solidarity with the people of France, he said, commending that country's leadership on the text. He also welcomed the Council's speed, unity and clarity of purpose in adopting it.
Resolution
The full text of resolution 2249 (2015) reads as follows:
''The Security Council,
''Reaffirming its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1368 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1618 (2005), 1624 (2005), 2083 (2012), 2129 (2013), 2133 (2014), 2161 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2195 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2214 (2015), and its relevant presidential statements,
''Reaffirming the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,
''Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States in accordance with purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter,
''Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,
''Determining that, by its violent extremist ideology, its terrorist acts, its continued gross systematic and widespread attacks directed against civilians, abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including those driven on religious or ethnic ground, its eradication of cultural heritage and trafficking of cultural property, but also its control over significant parts and natural resources across Iraq and Syria and its recruitment and training of foreign terrorist fighters whose threat affects all regions and Member States, even those far from conflict zones, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
''Recalling that the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida also constitute a threat to international peace and security,
''Determined to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
''Noting the letters dated 25 June 2014 and 20 September 2014 from the Iraqi authorities which state that Da'esh has established a safe haven outside Iraq's borders that is a direct threat to the security of the Iraqi people and territory,
''Reaffirming that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;
''Reiterating that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the Syria conflict and emphasizing the need to implement the Geneva communiqu(C) of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), the joint statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November 2015,
''1. Unequivocallycondemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da'esh which took place on 26 June 2015 in Sousse, on 10 October 2015 in Ankara, on 31 October 2015 over Sina¯, on 12 November 2015 in Beirut and on 13 November 2015 in Paris, and all other attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da'esh, including hostage-taking and killing, and notes it has the capability and intention to carry out further attacks and regards all such acts of terrorism as a threat to peace and security;
''2. Expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families and to the people and Governments of Tunisia, Turkey, Russian Federation, Lebanon and France, and to all Governments whose citizens were targeted in the above mentioned attacks and all other victims of terrorism;''3. Condemns also in the strongest terms the continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law, as well as barbaric acts of destruction and looting of cultural heritage carried out by ISIL also known as Da'esh;
''4. Reaffirms that those responsible for committing or otherwise responsible for terrorist acts, violations of international humanitarian law or violations or abuses of human rights must be held accountable;
''5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da'esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da'esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
''6. Urges Member States to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, and urges all Members States to continue to fully implement the above-mentioned resolutions;
''7. Expresses its intention to swiftly update the 1267 committee sanctions list in order to better reflect the threat posed by ISIL also known as Da'esh;
''8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.''
2001 MUSLMS CELEBRATING-Northern New Jersey Draws Probers' Eyes - The Washington Post
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:14
[Nov. 23, 2015: Fact checking Donald Trump's outrageous claim that 'thousands' of New Jersey Muslims celebrated 9/11 attacks]
The FBI investigation into the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon has led agents back to a familiar area: northern New Jersey.
It was there, in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, that a Muslim cell plotted the 1993 bombing of the twin towers and sought to destroy other New York landmarks as part of an urban guerrilla war against the United States.
It is believed that 13 of those detained by federal authorities for questioning in its probe into the worst terrorist act in U.S. history are from northeastern New Jersey, some from the same Journal Square area where suspects in the 1993 bombing lived.
Teams of agents have also conducted myriad interviews and seized computer and paper records at apartment buildings, businesses, hotels and motels in at least 10 towns and cities in northern New Jersey -- from Weehawken to Wayne, and Fort Lee to Florham Park. Furthermore, FBI teams and state troopers have done the same at several flight training schools and charter businesses at small airports in the area, including the Morristown and Teeterboro airports.
At Morristown Municipal Airport, Tom O'Looney, president of Certified Flyers Inc., said investigators left him a 20-page FBI watch list containing the names of 300 people. Michael Glover, director of American Flyers at the Morristown airport, said authorities asked him about any foreign nationals who may have attended his flight school. But Glover said none were on his rolls.
Law enforcement officials said northeastern New Jersey could be potentially fertile ground as 4,000 FBI special agents search for accomplices, associates and ultimately further clues about last Tuesday's devastating terrorist strikes against symbols of American financial and military might.
In October 1995, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who delivered fiery sermons at a run-down mosque in Jersey City, was convicted of directing the conspiracy to blow up the United Nations, an FBI building, and three bridges and tunnels linking New York and New Jersey. He was also convicted of being part of a plot to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Sayyid Nosair of Jersey City and Cliffside Park was also charged in the 1990 killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane in Manhattan. The Kahane murder was the beginning of a series of militant acts by the Muslim cell that was encouraged by Abdel-Rahman, the group's spiritual leader.
One such act was the Feb. 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people, injured more than 1,000 and inflicted $500 million worth of damage.
"The area in and around Jersey City has provided individuals in the past who were bent on terrorism. So I am sure that area is of great interest to investigators right now," said James K. Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI's New York office. "They are not knocking down any straw men at this point. I think now is the time when the broad spectrum of possibilities has to be looked at."
In Jersey City, an urban enclave of 240,055 people that is home to one of the largest Arab populations among U.S. cities, members of that Middle Eastern community said they are being unfairly targeted and misunderstood by the FBI.
"First of all, I think the people [convicted] of the bombing of the World Trade Center were innocent. . . . The Muslims are an easy way out, especially when you don't know who committed the act," said Essam Abouhamer, director of the Altawheed Islam Center. "The message of Islam is to be peaceful with yourself and others."
Hasam Ibrahim, 37, who came to the United States 16 years ago from Egypt and owns a limousine company in Jersey City, said he and others in similar circumstances moved here in search of better lives and are proud to be Americans.
"It is impossible," he said of suggestions that a terrorist cell in or around Jersey City may have helped plot the deadly attacks last week. "People here from the Middle East just want to work and have good lives. I love the United States. I eat in the United States. I earn money in the United States, and my children go to schools in the United States. A lot of people in this Arab community feel like me."
Investigators said at least two of the hijackers, Nawaq Al Hamzi and Salem Al Hamzi, are believed to have had addresses in Wayne and Fort Lee. They apparently rented a mail box in Fort Lee, at Mail Boxes Etc.
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
Over the weekend, authorities raided a small apartment building in Jersey City to search an apartment rented by two men who were detained in Texas on Wednesday, on possible immigration violations. Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, 47, and Ayub Ali Khan, 51, both from India, were taken into custody Wednesday on an Amtrak train in Texas, carrying $5,000 in cash, hair dye and box cutter knives -- weapons said to have been used by the hijackers. During the raids in Jersey City, authorities detained a third man, Abdoul Salam Achou, 37, whose visa application allegedly expired on Sept. 1.
Investigators also detained three men in Elizabeth, N.J., who were carrying a large amount of cash and a one-way ticket to Syria. The three men, Ahmad Kilfat, 45, Mohammad Mahmoud Al Raqqad, 37, and Nicholas Makrakis, 27, were in a red Pontiac that matched an FBI description of a vehicle connected with the attacks.
Yemina Barbosa, 46, who lives across the street from the three-story apartment house on Tulip Street in Passaic, N.J. -- a mostly black and Latino neighborhood where Kilfat and Al Raqqad were thought to live -- said expensive, "sporty" cars would often park in front of the house.
Neighbors said a car that they believed belongs to the two men was towed tonight from in front of the apartment house, after the vehicle was examined by a bomb squad.
BBC's Jonathan Keen becomes 'Britain's first' e-cigarette suicide | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 21:40
Jonathan Keen, 46, was found by his girlfriend at his flat on September 24The TV engineer ingested fluid used in e-cigarettes along with alcohol Coroner said it was the first death of its kind he had seen in the countyBy Stephanie Linning for MailOnline
Published: 10:23 EST, 27 November 2015 | Updated: 11:02 EST, 27 November 2015
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Tragic: Jonathan Keen, 46, was found dead in his flat
A BBC TV contractor was found dead in his living room after drinking a mix of alcohol and the liquid used in e-cigarettes.
Jonathan Keen, 46, who was described as a functioning alcoholic, was found by his girlfriend at his flat in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, next to remnants of fluid used in e-cigarettes and empty cans of cider.
Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett heard Mr Keen would regularly mix his own concentrations of nicotine to use in the cigarette substitute.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Hulett said it was the first time he had heard of someone 'dying directly from this' in the county.
Mr Keen worked as a broadcast systems engineer with IT firm Atos, which works closely with the BBC. On his LinkedIn page, he described himself as 'honest' and 'reliable' and said 'I love my job'.
He was discovered on September 24 by his girlfriend, named only as Vanessa, who had become concerned because she had not heard from him in 24 hours.
Emergency services were called to the property and Mr Keen was pronounced dead at the scene. Police officers found suicide notes on Mr Keen's kitchen table and in the bin.
Giving evidence at the inquest in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Detective Constable Edward Blackburn said Mr Keen had a 'clear liquid' around his nose.
Toxicology reports showed a near-lethal dose of nicotine in his blood and 149mg of ethanol per litre of blood, which had been ingested in a short space of time.
It was heard that Mr Keen had sent an image to his cousin the day before he was found dead of the toxic warning label on the back of an e-cigarette fluid bottle.
Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett heard Mr Keen would regularly mix his own concentrations of nicotine to use in the cigarette substitute. File image
DANGERS OF LIQUID NICOTINELiquid nicotine is toxic even in small doses.
A small amount of e-liquid is reportedly enough to cause vomiting, seizures and eye irritation. It can also cause pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Last year, a one-year-old baby died in New York state after drinking from what is thought to have been an e-cigarette refill bottle.
Prior to that the only confirmed death related to liquid nicotine happened in 2012 in the US when a man injected himself with the substance.
Bartholomew Strange, played by Art Malik, in a TV adaptation of the novel in 2010 - the character was mysteriously killed by nicotine poisoning
In Agatha Christie's detective novel 'Three Act Tragedy' featuring Hercule Poirot features a spate of deaths relating to nicotine poisoning.
At a dinner party hosted by Sir Charles Cartwright, Bartholomew Strange died of what was believed to be an accidental death.
Shortly afterwards, a second character, Mrs Babbington, then died in suspiciously similar circumstances.
Poirot was told of the strange deaths by his friend Cartwright in Monte Carlo and returned to England to investigate them, where they eventually discovered the poison plot.
A post-mortem examination carried out by pathologist Dr Peter Johnson concluded that Mr Keen had died as a result of nicotine and alcohol toxicity.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Hulett said: 'We have a note here that talks about being sorry and talking about who gets what. That is the sort of thing people write at a very late stage.
'For whatever reason, his frame of mind that night became very negative.
'He was intoxicated and seemed to be cross about things. He has ingested this nicotine liquid and it is probably not widely known that nicotine is a serious poison.
'Looking at his notes and the toxicology, he got into a frame of mind where he decided to do this. What he was feeling was quite negative.
'Nowadays, nicotine is available in liquid form for e-cigarettes and you can import the stuff in a stronger form.
'This is the first time I have heard of someone dying directly from this in Buckinghamshire.'
Mr Keen's brother, Adam, who described his sibling as 'loving and extremely considerate', was trying to raise awareness of the danger of e-cigarettes.
'E-cigarettes are positioned as being very safe and a positive way of being able to reduce dependence on nicotine and it is not true. It is my belief that it should treated be as a drug.
'There should be clear warnings on them about how strong they are and how dangerous they are.
'Any vape shop can make their own solutions and I want that to stop. I think it should be legislated.
'What my brother did was very unusual. He used to manufacture his own liquids himself.
'He was clever so he knew how toxic it was. The fact my brother should use it this way shows it is a deadly poison and needs to be controlled.'
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. Share or comment on this article
'Kalasjnikovs Parijs verkocht door handelaar in Duitsland' - AD.nl
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:06
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Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer - Raspberry Pi
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 05:58
Of all the things we do at Raspberry Pi, driving down the cost of computer hardware remains one of the most important. Even in the developed world, a programmable computer is a luxury item for a lot of people, and every extra dollar that we ask someone to spend decreases the chance that they'll choose to get involved.
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The original Raspberry Pi Model B and its successors put a programmable computer within reach of anyone with $20-35 to spend. Since 2012, millions of people have used a Raspberry Pi to get their first experience of programming, but we still meet people for whom cost remains a barrier to entry. At the start of this year, we began work on an even cheaper Raspberry Pi to help these people take the plunge.
Four fathers!?!??
Today, I'm pleased to be able to announce the immediate availability of Raspberry Pi Zero, made in Wales and priced at just $5. Zero is a full-fledged member of the Raspberry Pi family, featuring:
A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor1GHz ARM11 core (40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1)512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAMA micro-SD card slotA mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video outputMicro-USB sockets for data and powerAn unpopulated 40-pin GPIO headerIdentical pinout to Model A+/B+/2BAn unpopulated composite video headerOur smallest ever form factor, at 65mm x 30mm x 5mmRaspberry Pi Zero runs Raspbian and all your favourite applications, including Scratch, Minecraft and Sonic Pi. It is available today in the UK from our friends at The Pi Hut and Pimoroni, and in the US from Adafruit and in-store at your local branch of Micro Center. We've built several tens of thousands of units so far, and are building more, but we expect demand to outstrip supply for the next little while.
One more thing: because the only thing better than a $5 computer is a free computer, we are giving away a free Raspberry Pi Zero on the front of each copy of the December issue of The MagPi, which arrives in UK stores today. Russell, Rob and the team have been killing themselves putting this together, and we're very pleased with how it's turned out. The issue is jam-packed with everything you need to know about Zero, including a heap of project ideas, and an interview with Mike Stimson, who designed the board.
MagPi #40 in all its glory
If you're looking for cables to go with your free Zero, head over to the newly revamped Swag Store, where we're offering a bundle comprising a mini-HDMI and a micro-USB adapter for just £4, or alternatively subscribe and we'll send you them for free.
Happy hacking!'‹
Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder | The Free Thought Project
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 05:31
The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack.
''My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,'' Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense '' but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.
Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.
''We are former Air Force service members,'' the letter begins. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.''
Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as ''fun-sized terrorists'' and compared killing them to ''cutting the grass before it grows too long.'' Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: ''There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what's going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.''
By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. ''We kill four and create ten,'' Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. ''If you kill someone's father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.''
Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. ''There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,'' he recalled. ''Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.''
Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found ''impaired'' while on duty, Haas testifies.
Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen '' who, at age 16, was legally still a child '' former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child's father.
As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.
''We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,'' Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the ''targeted killing'' of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.
Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki's son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.
In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a ''hit list.'' She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone '' a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.
According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. ''This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It's a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower '... by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren't so frightening.''
Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.
Top scientists accuse House panel of harassing climate researchers | Science | The Guardian
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 02:49
Lamar Smith, who chairs the House science committee, has demanded that Noaa hand over all internal correspondence between scientists. Photograph: Scott J Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty
Leading scientists have accused a Republican-led committee of subjecting climate researchers to politically motivated ''harassment'' amid an increasingly fractious investigation into the activity of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
Eight key scientific bodies have written to Republican congressman Lamar Smith, chairman of the House committee on science, to warn that the committee's inquiry into Noaa could have a ''chilling effect on the willingness of government scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions''.
Related:First EPA chief accuses Republicans of ignoring science for political gain
The letter added: ''Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that some may see as politically controversial.
''Science cannot thrive when policymakers '' regardless of party affiliation '' use policy disagreements as a pretext to attack scientific conclusions without public evidence.''
Concern has mounted among scientists as Smith has pursued Noaa over what he has called ''prematurely rushed'' climate data that he claims has been used to suit the policy agenda of President Barack Obama.
Smith's ire has focused upon research led by Thomas Karl and colleagues at Noaa, published in the journal Science in June. The research found there has been no ''pause'' in global warming over the past 15 years, despite previous claims that there has been a slowdown or flatlining in rising global temperatures.
This finding has been backed by several other climate papers this year that dispute the idea of a warming hiatus. On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2011 to 2015 had been the warmest five-year period on record, with this year set to be the hottest year ever registered. This warmth had been driven by climate change, caused by the release of greenhouse gases from human activity.
But Smith has used new subpoena powers to threaten the leadership of Noaa, demanding that the federal climate and weather agency hand over all internal correspondence between scientists to find out if there has been a grand conspiracy to alter or misrepresent the data.
''It was inconvenient for this administration that climate data has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades,'' Smith said last month.
''The American people have every right to be suspicious when Noaa alters data to get the politically correct results they want and then refuses to reveal how those decisions were made. Noaa needs to come clean about why they altered the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration's extreme climate change agenda.''
Smith has written twice to Penny Pritzker, the commerce secretary, in recent weeks, to express his ''disappointment'' at Noaa's ''efforts to obstruct the committee's work'', prompting a subpoena compelling the release of the internal information.
A letter from Smith to Pritzker, whose department has oversight of Noaa, on 18 November stated that ''because the Karl study was apparently prematurely rushed to publication, the timing of its release raises concerns that it was expedited to fit the administration's aggressive climate agenda.
''Allegations regarding the rush to publish the Karl study raise serious concerns about the study's scientific integrity.''
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science, said the Karl paper went through two peer review processes and was not rushed to publication.
''There's no way this was hurried and this wasn't something that researchers had control over in terms of the publication timing,'' said Rush Holt, chief executive of the AAAS and one of the signatories to the letter to Smith.
''This is political tampering with the scientific process. Subpoenas or threats of subpoenas and demands for internal communications clearly go beyond raising questions about the research. It has a chilling effect because researchers can't focus on the science or critique each other. If you meddle with science politically, you can really cause damage to public welfare.
''Politicians may not like the outcome, it may not fit with their political picture but to tamper with the process politically only serves to weaken the ability of scientific work. Climate science has become politicised which is unfortunate because this subject, more than any other, needs good scientific investigation.''
Chicago lays to rest boy, 9, killed for father's alleged gang ties
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 02:42
People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee outside his father's home on November 5, 2015 in Chicago. Chicago Police Superitendant Garry McCarthy claims Lee was lured from a park into a nearby alley and executed because of his father's gang ties. Pierre Stokes, the boy's father, denies being in a gang.(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)
CHICAGO '-- This city on Tuesday laid to rest a 9-year-old boy who was murdered last week after being lured into a Chicago alley and shot several times, what police believe was the targeted execution of a fourth-grader for his father's alleged gang ties.
In a fiery eulogy, Michael Pflegar, a prominent Chicago activist and pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church, called the killing of Tyshawn Lee "evil right in our face."
Pflegar recalled that Tyshawn was a little boy who loved basketball, school and playing video games with his cousins. Pflegar also used the eulogy to call on anyone with information to come forward to help police apprehend those responsible for the boy's death.
Police said they have interviewed persons of interest but have been unable to make an arrest. A $55,000 reward, plus assistance with relocation if needed, has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Tyshawn's death.
"We have lost our conscience, Chicago," Pflegar told mourners. "That's why it's so important that while we meet at this intersection of pain and anger that we decide not to park here. We must, Chicago, find the killer of Tyshawn. We must catch any individual who stoops so low that it is almost unspeakable to comprehend."
Even in a city which has burnished an image for a disproportionate level of grisly violence, Tyshawn's death was jarring for its viciousness. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who cut his teeth in New York City and Newark before becoming the Windy City's top cop, called Tyshawn's death the "most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime" he had seen in his career.
A reward sign and messages hang Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, near where Tyshawn Lee was fatally shot in Chicago. Lee, 9, was shot Monday in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. RPTC201 (Photo: Teresa Crawford, AP)
Police said they believe Tyshawn was targeted because of his father's gang ties. The father, Pierre Stokes, said he is not in a gang and does not believe his son's killing was retaliation. Stokes is currently on probation for a 2011 armed robbery conviction. He was arrested and charged in June 2014 with unlawful use of a weapon, but has pleaded not guilty to that charge.
Tyshawn's killing came amid a rise in violence near where he lived between rival gangs, including one that police say is tied to his father.
The boy's death also comes as Chicago is on pace again to record more murders than any other U.S. city. The city has already counted 428 homicides this year, after last year's total of 435.
Mourners packed St. Sabina, a church serving the city's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood that's not far from where Tyshawn was killed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Education Secretary Arne Duncan stopped by the church ahead of the funeral to pay their respects. Actor-rapper Nick Cannon also attended the service, and Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., offered the closing prayer.
A portrait of a dapper Tyshawn, wearing a tie and a pocket square, and a painting of the little boy wearing angel wings were placed near his casket. The boy's principal at Scott Joplin Elementary School called him as a determined student devoted to his friends.
Tyshawn dreamed of playing in the NBA and carried his basketball nearly everywhere he went. When investigators found his body, the ball was only a few feet away.
In a nod to his passion, Alan Parsons Project Sirius played at the end of Pflegar's sermon. The music is played at home games for the Chicago Bulls as the starting lineup is introduced.
"Tyshawn, step on the court that's been prepared for you," Pflegar said. "It's not the court of Dawes Park (the neighborhood park where Tyshawn often played), but it's a court that's been paved in gold, and hear the cheers of all the fans standing up ... shouting and clapping for you, Tyshawn."
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The Yale Problem Begins in High School | HeterodoxAcademy.org
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 00:42
A month before the Yale Halloween meltdown, I had a bizarre and illuminating experience at an elite private high school on the West Coast. I'll call it Centerville High. I gave a version of a talk that you can see here, on Coddle U. vs. Strengthen U. (In an amazing coincidence, I first gave that talk at Yale a few weeks earlier). The entire student body '-- around 450 students, from grades 9-12 '-- were in the auditorium. There was plenty of laughter at all the right spots, and a lot of applause at the end, so I thought the talk was well received.
But then the discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I've ever had. I don't mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was ''So you think rape is OK?'' Like most of the questions, it was backed up by a sea of finger snaps '-- the sort you can hear in the infamous Yale video, where a student screams at Prof. Christakis to ''be quiet'' and tells him that he is ''disgusting.'' I had never heard the snapping before. When it happens in a large auditorium it is disconcerting. It makes you feel that you are facing an angry and unified mob '-- a feeling I have never had in 25 years of teaching and public speaking.
After the first dozen questions I noticed that not a single questioner was male. I began to search the sea of hands asking to be called on and I did find one boy, who asked a question that indicated that he too was critical of my talk. But other than him, the 200 or so boys in the audience sat silently.
After the Q&A, I got a half-standing ovation: almost all of the boys in the room stood up to cheer. And after the crowd broke up, a line of boys came up to me to thank me and shake my hand. Not a single girl came up to me afterward.
After my main lecture, the next session involved 60 students who had signed up for further discussion with me. We moved to a large classroom. The last thing I wanted to do was to continue the same fruitless arguing for another 75 minutes, so I decided to take control of the session and reframe the discussion. Here is what happened next:
Me: What kind of intellectual climate do you want here at Centerville? Would you rather have option A: a school where people with views you find offensive keep their mouths shut, or B: a school where everyone feels that they can speak up in class discussions?
Audience: All hands go up for B.
Me: OK, let's see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free].
Me: Now let's try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? [the group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells] Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells]
Me: Now lets try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students]. Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.]
Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don't have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of ''tolerance'' that Herbert Marcuse advocated [which I had discussed in my lecture, and which you can read about here]. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid. What are you going to do about this? Let's talk.
After that, the conversation was extremely civil and constructive. The boys took part just as much as the girls. We talked about what Centerville could do to improve its climate, and I said that the most important single step would be to make viewpoint diversity a priority. On the entire faculty, there was not a single teacher that was known to be conservative or Republican. So if these teenagers are coming into political consciousness inside of a ''moral matrix'' that is uniformly leftist, there will always be anger directed at those who disrupt that consensus.
That night, after I gave a different talk to an adult audience, there was a reception at which I spoke with some of the parents. Several came up to me to tell me that their sons had told them about the day's events. The boys finally had a way to express and explain their feelings of discouragement. Their parents were angry to learn about how their sons were being treated and'... there's no other word for it, bullied into submission by the girls.*
And Centerville High is not alone. Last summer I had a conversation with some boys who attend one of the nation's top prep schools, in New England. They reported the same thing: as white males, they are constantly on eggshells, afraid to speak up on any remotely controversial topic lest they be sent to the ''equality police'' (that was their term for the multicultural center). I probed to see if their fear extended beyond the classroom. I asked them what they would do if there was a new student at their school, from, say Yemen. Would they feel free to ask the student questions about his or her country? No, they said, it's too risky, a question could be perceived as offensive.
You might think that this is some sort of justice '-- white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the ''oppressor'' group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.
And then'... they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into ''moral dependents'' who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.
So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The ''Next Yale'' that activists are demanding will make today's Centerville High look like Plato's Academy by comparison.
The only hope for Centerville High '-- and for Yale '-- is to disrupt their repressively uniform moral matrices to make room for dissenting views. High schools and colleges that lack viewpoint diversity should make it their top priority. Race and gender diversity matter too, but if those goals are pursued in the ways that student activists are currently demanding, then political orthodoxy is likely to intensify. Schools that value freedom of thought should therefore actively seek out non-leftist faculty, and they should explicitly include viewpoint diversity and political diversity in all statements about diversity and discrimination.** Parents and students who value freedom of thought should take viewpoint diversity into account when applying to colleges. Alumni should take it into account before writing any more checks.
The Yale problem refers to an unfortunate feedback loop: Once you allow victimhood culture to spread on your campus, you can expect ever more anger from students representing victim groups, coupled with demands for a deeper institutional commitment to victimhood culture, which leads inexorably to more anger, more demands, and more commitment. But the Yale problem didn't start at Yale. It started in high school. As long as many of our elite prep schools are turning out students who have only known eggshells and anger, whose social cognition is limited to a single dimension of victims and victimizers, and who demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, it's hard to imagine how any university can open students' minds and prepare them to converse respectfully with people who don't share their values. Especially when there are no adults around who don't share their values.
* * * * *
Post Scripts:
*My original draft of this post included the phrase ''with the blessing of the teachers'' at this point. But this was unfair and I regret it. The Centerville teachers I met were all very friendly to me, even after my talk. I think they could do more to counter the intimidation felt by students with minority viewpoints, but I have no reason to think that the teachers at Centerville are anything other than caring professionals who try to curate class discussions without inserting their own views. Indeed, the comments from ''Centerville'' students below, in the comment threads, indicate that the intimidation comes primarily from other students, not from the teachers. This is a pattern I have seen at universities as well.
**To help high schools and colleges measure the scale of their problem, we at HeterodoxAcademy will develop an ''Eggshellometer'' '' a simple anonymous survey that can be distributed to all students, or to all faculty for that matter '' that can be used to quantify the degree to which members of an academic community live in fear. In the meantime, if you are a teacher, you can use the simple ''show of hands'' method that I described above, or you can easily turn it into an anonymous paper and pencil survey.
I Live In Jersey And Trump Is Right: Muslims DID Celebrate On 9/11 In NJ . . . We Saw It! >> Infowars Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 00:06
UPDATE: Trump Tweets Infowars; Liberals Go Into Meltdown
It did happen, and I saw it.
Donald Trump is telling the truth about Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on September 11, 2001.
I drove with family members though Patterson, N.J. that morning, after the planes hit. It's not the kind of thing you forget.
We witnessed people in traditional Muslim garb dancing, jumping, shouting and celebrating like their team had won the Super Bowl, just as Trump said.
''I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,'' Trump said Saturday. ''And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.''
Trump has refused to back off of those comments. He told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Sunday, ''it did happen. I saw it.''
Media outlets and politicians have been quick to call the Republican presidential front-runner a liar but the fact is it happened just like he said.
I didn't see thousands of Muslims celebrating but I absolutely saw a pocket, perhaps 100, jumping for joy at the sight of the smoke rising from where the Twin Towers used to be.
The funny part of the media-made controversy is that until Trump recalled his experience on that day, these events were a commonly accepted fact by Jerseyans.
Others in N.J. have spoken about witnessing these events.
Suddenly we are all being called liars in order for Trump-haters to cast aspersions on him.
Well, I defy anyone in the media to call me a liar to my face.
Was the Washington Post lying in an article on September 18, 2001 when it wrote the following?
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
I know what I saw, Donald Trump knows what he saw and scores of N.J. residents know what they saw.
What none of us need is some talking head who doesn't live here or didn't see what we did to tell us what happened.
I encourage anyone who witnessed the celebrations in N.J., N.Y., or any other city that day to share their stories on Twitter with the hashtag #TrumpIsright.
What Katie Couric didn't show you: Babies stored in freezers
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 19:57
Katie Couric's recent tour of a $4.5 million Planned Parenthood abortion center in Queens, New York, interestingly failed to show viewers the room where aborted babies are stored, potentially in freezers '' the ''POC'' (products of conception) room. A common feature of every abortion facility, undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) showed how staffers working in a POC room at a Houston Planned Parenthood stored aborted babies in a freezer.
In that video, CMP actors posing as fetal tissue procurement agents were taken into Planned Parenthood's back pathology room where they ask to view any ''fresh specimens'' (i.e., aborted babies). With a smile on her face, the Planned Parenthood assistant told CMP, ''We had a really long day and they are all mixed up in a bag.'' Then they tell CMP that they keep the ''specimens'' frozen.
In a transcript from April 9, 2015, CMP detailed a conversation they had with Melissa Farrell, Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in which Farrell states:
After the physician has confirmed the tissue correlates with gestational age, tissue is placed in a biohazard container and gets discarded into a single container and then is placed in the freezer. Anything after 16 weeks is immediately placed in the freezer after the procedure. And it is all sent away once a week for incineration. So that's kind of the scope.
In another portion of the conversation, Farrell told CMP:
Under a sample acquisition protocol where everyone that's coming in gets approached, not just African-American or whatever, everyone gets approached about donating fetal tissue, maybe we can even think, and I recognize that a lot of this has to be fresh, but maybe even banking, a tissue banking part, that we have it built into the consent form-protocol-in the event that you don't have a use-first trimester, you don't have a use for it currently, you saw the refrigerator freezer space we have, we have plenty of space. We can store it, and then if you have a need, because some researchers start with frozen specimens or preserved specimens first, we could look at doing that as well.
But Houston is not the only Planned Parenthood center where aborted babies are stored in freezers. An unannounced inspection by South Carolina state health investigators describes a similar system where aborted children are kept in a freezer at Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic in Columbia.
During the walk-through of the Planned Parenthood, investigators identified two locations where biohazard waste was stored. The first one, although it contained bio-hazardous waste, did not contain any fetal tissue. But when inspectors asked if there were any other places where ''POC's'' or products of conception were kept, Planned Parenthood staff replied, ''Yes, in the POC room in the freezer.''
According to the inspection report, inspectors followed the Planned Parenthood staff into the ''POC room'' and opened the ''upright freezer which had a biohazard sticker in the top right hand corner.'' Inside the freezer were several metal shelves lined with blue disposable pads. One shelf had a large red plastic biohazard bag that was tied with numerous (in excess of 20) smaller red plastic bags, the report stated.
Planned Parenthood staffers told inspectors that ''individual products of conception'' (or as pro-lifers rightly describe them, aborted preborn children) are placed in a smaller red biohazard bag after examination by the abortionist. They are then placed in the large bag in the freezer, the inspection report notes.
Inspectors then asked Planned Parenthood staffers what the next step would be for the ''fetal tissue'' or preborn aborted children in the freezer. Abortion workers told inspectors that on the day of ''medical waste'... pick up'' that the large bag would be placed in a cardboard box in the ''biohazard room'' and sealed and labeled where a manifest would be generated. It would then be passed off to the ''transporter'' or the medical waste pick up company.
In addition to finding aborted babies stored in freezers, which is not in and of itself illegal, officials suspended the license of the Columbia South Carolina Planned Parenthood after officials discovered several health violations. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing and Bureau of Land and Waste Management detailed the gross violations in a September 11, 2015, letter addressed to South Carolina Planned Parenthood CEO Jenny Black, which included the following:
Documentation on personal background information on two staff members was not available for review.The facility did not have documentation on training in infection control for two staff members.The facility did not comply with a provision of the Women's Right to Know Act'... In five of 25 medical records reviewed, the record documented that an abortion was performed sooner than the required 60 minutes after an ultrasound.Planned Parenthood did not adhere to and follow provisions for tissue examination and disposal and did not have a written policy and procedure regarding registration of fetal death or death certificates.Planned Parenthood's emergency drug cart did not have a listing of contents on the cart.Expired medications were stored in the patient care areas and pharmacy.Products of conception resulting from abortion procedures were not managed and properly disposed of by incineration according to regulations.Several abortion records involving minors did not include the names of their mother or father.In 25 out of 25 of the medical records reviewed by inspectors, the names of clinical assistants in attendance during abortion procedures was not documented in the record.In 4 of the 25 medical records reviewed, abortions were not reported to the Office of Vital Records within the required 7 days but were reported between 13 and 33 days. And in one of the records reviewed, the record did not document that the abortion was reported at all.Sterile gloves were stored and mixed with non-sterile supplies including non-sterile examination gloves.Waste meeting the definition of ''infectious waste'' was not managed and properly disposed of by incineration.
Despite previous claims from CEO Jenny Black that monetary penalties were not issued, the document also shows that Planned Parenthood was fined $7500 and was ordered to submit a plan of correction.
The Island Packet detailed what happened next:
Planned Parenthood paid a $7,500 penalty for 21 cited violations and submitted correction plans by the Sept. 28 deadline but asked DHEC to reconsider some of the violations, putting the suspension on hold'... DHEC cleared Planned Parenthood's Columbia clinic on Nov. 6, and the organization withdrew its request, Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Heigel said.But back to Katie Couric'... In another segment of her Yahoo News interview, Cecile Richards told Couric '' whose poor excuse for journalism was identified as ''free advertising'' by Live Action's Calvin Freiberger '' that Planned Parenthood is ''a compassionate health care provider.'' She then boldly stated that she has invited ''every member of Congress, anytime, come and visit Planned Parenthood; see what we do.''
To date, no one has taken Richards up on that offer, but given these recent findings by health inspectors in South Carolina, maybe they should.
Health code violations and aborted babies in freezers are a part of Planned Parenthood's story. It's just unfortunate that a so-called journalist like Katie Couric is too biased to report the whole truth.
No Agenda Episode 777.5 - "No Agenda Funnies"
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:58
No Agenda Episode 777.5 - "No Agenda Funnies"Collaborate!
Direct [link] to the mp3 fileBitTorrentSync Secret: BBE35UBVKPKSUWGDLUZN5DIPFIB3TTQ5IExecutive Producers: Sir CyberAssociate Executive Producers: Adam Curry & John C DvorakBecome a member of the 777 Club, support the show hereTODAY--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meet The Man Who Funds ISIS: Bilal Erdogan, The Son Of Turkey's President | Zero Hedge
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:40
Russia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just earlier today, 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.
But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).
As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey's airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."
It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey's actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."
More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey's role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:
"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey's involvement in the ISIS' illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."
Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.
The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"
Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.
And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's son: Bilal Erdogan.
His very brief bio:
Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.
After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ", a marine transportation corporation.
Here is a recent picture of Bilal, shown in a photo from a Turkish 2014 article, which "asked why his ships are now in Syria":
In the next few days, we will present a full breakdown of Bilal's various business ventures, starting with his BMZ Group which is the name implicated most often in the smuggling of illegal Iraqi and Islamic State through to the western supply chain, but for now here is a brief, if very disturbing snapshot, of both father and son Erdogan by F. William Engdahl, one which should make everyone ask whether the son of Turkey's president (and thus, the father) is the silent mastermind who has been responsible for converting millions of barrels of Syrian Oil into hundreds of millions of dollars of Islamic State revenue.
By F. William Engdahl, posted originally in New Eastern Outlook:
Erdogan's Dirth Dangerous ISIS Games
More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. Turkey, as a result of Erdogan's pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.
In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdogan's regime was backing ISIS with ''hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons'...''Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdo?an's permission to use Turkey's Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdogan's backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted.
ISIS militants were trained by US, Israeli and now it emerges, by Turkish special forces at secret bases in Konya Province inside the Turkish border to Syria, over the past three years.Erdo?an's involvement in ISIS goes much deeper. At a time when Washington, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar appear to have cut off their support for ISIS, they remaining amazingly durable. The reason appears to be the scale of the backing from Erdo?an and his fellow neo-Ottoman Sunni Islam Prime Minister,Ahmet Davuto?lu.
Nice Family Business
The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdogan it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.
Bilal Erdo?an owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdogan's maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS' smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.
G¼rsel Tekin vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples' Party, CHP, declared in a recent Turkish media interview, ''President Erdogan claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal's illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdo?an is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.'' Tekin adds that Bilal's maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is ''a family business and president Erdogan's close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.''
In addition to son Bilal's illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, S¼meyye Erdogan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdogan seems hell-bent on toppling.
Turkish citizen Ramazan Bagol, captured this month by Kurdish People's Defence Units,YPG, as he attempted to join ISIS from Konya province, told his captors that said he was sent to ISIS by the 'Ismailia Sect,' a strict Turkish Islam sect reported to be tied to Recep Erdogan. Baol said the sect recruits members and provides logistic support to the radical Islamist organization. He added that the Sect gives jihad training in neighborhoods of Konya and sends those trained here to join ISIS gangs in Syria.
According to French geopolitical analyst, Thierry Meyssan, Recep Erdogan ''organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools. Similarly, he organised the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch'...with the help of General Beno®t Puga, Chief of Staff for the Elys(C)e, he organised a false-flag operation intended to provoke the launching of a war by the Atlantic Alliance '' the chemical bombing of la Ghoutta in Damascus, in August 2013. ''
Meyssan claims that the Syria strategy of Erdo?an was initially secretly developed in coordination with former French Foreign Minister Alain Jupp(C) and Erdogan's then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu, in 2011, after Juppe won a hesitant Erdogan to the idea of supporting the attack on traditional Turkish ally Syria in return for a promise of French support for Turkish membership in the EU. France later backed out, leaving Erdogan to continue the Syrian bloodbath largely on his own using ISIS.
Gen. John R. Allen, an opponent of Obama's Iran peace strategy, now US diplomatic envoy coordinating the coalition against the Islamic State, exceeded his authorized role after meeting with Erdogan and ''promised to create a "no-fly zone" ninety miles wide, over Syrian territory, along the whole border with Turkey, supposedly intended to help Syrian refugees fleeing from their government, but in reality to apply the "Jupp(C)-Wright plan". The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, revealed US support for the project on the TV channelA Haberby launching a bombing raid against the PKK.'' Meyssan adds.
There are never winners in war and Erdogan's war against Syria's Assad demonstrates that in bold. Turkey and the world deserve better. Ahmet Davutoglu's famous ''Zero Problems With Neighbors'' foreign policy has been turned into massive problems with all neighbors due to the foolish ambitions of Erdogan and his gang.
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Dozens of meteorologists end up wearing the same dress on TV thanks to a Facebook tip - Trending - CBC News
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:33
Have you ever arrived at work to find a colleague is wearing something almost spooky-similar to your own outfit?
Multiply the embarrassment, hilarity, confusion or joy of that moment by at least 50 times, put it on TV, and you may just be able to put yourself in the shoes of America's female meteorologists.
If you have $29.99 US and an Amazon account, you can put yourself in their dress too.
Amazon's $23 'Homeyee Women's Stretch Tunic Pencil Sheath Dress' is the first frock to go legitimately viral since 'The Dress' polarized people worldwide in February. (Amazon/Screenshot)
The dress pictured above has been purchased and worn by dozens of weather presenters across the U.S. in recent months, potentially leading anyone who watches multiple daily local forecasts to wonder if perhaps meteorology was becoming uniformed profession.
To the best of our knowledge, it's not.
What we do know, thanks to some of the women who wore this dress on-air, is that women who are broadcast meteorologists have a secret Facebook group in which they discuss work clothes (among other things, one would assume.)
KDFW FOX 4 meteorologist Jennifer Myers of Dallas, Texas revealed on Facebook late last week that more than 50 different weather presenters had purchased the dress from Amazon after a link to it was shared among members of the group.
"I bought today's dress on Amazon for $23!" she wrote in a status update on her public fan page Saturday. "Someone posted a link to it on our broadcast meteorologist group Facebook page and it got REALLY popular."
Myers shared a college showing dozens of the women in her industry wearing the dress in various colours '' with the exception of green, naturally.
A copy of that image was uploaded to Imgur by Myers that same day and has since been viewed nearly five million times.
"I had to laugh," wrote one commenter on the photo-sharing site. "The female meterologist where I live was wearing the the same red dress today."
"All three of the major news stations in my market are represented," wrote another. "Fantastic."
More of the women who purchased the dress for work have come forward in recent days to explain why so many broadcast meteorologists were enticed to purchase it.
"Someone stumbled onto 'the dress' and a few of us ordered it and shared pics of it on air in our group," said Shelby Hays, a meteorologist for KOCO in Oklahoma, to Tech Insider. "Everyone saw how great it looked... At $23 we could buy a handful of these dresses for what we normally pay for just one."
Lyndsay Tapases of WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina, told Buzzfeed similarly that the price was "a major selling point."
"Many of us don't have a clothing allowance and are responsible for buying all of our own clothes," she explained. "Each time someone new [in the Facebook group] got it in, we just kept confirming how great of a buy it was."
Most of the women have managed, so far, to dodge the one question that keeps coming up on Reddit during interviews about the dress: The question of the Facebook group's URL and how one can access it.
Myers, hersef an active Redditor, has been providing insightful responses to queries about this, and other career wardrobe-related things, in the comments section of her original Reddit post about the collage.
She had this to say about how curious netizens can access the group:
"It's private and only for female meteorologists. Sorry."
US Blames Afghanistan Hospital Massacre On "Malfunctioning Sensors," "Human Error" | Zero Hedge
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:26
Early last month, Green Berets battling to beat back a Taliban advance in Kunduz, Afghanistan, apparently decided that in order to rid an MSF hospital of some ''insurgents'' who were apparently hanging out inside, they needed to call in an AC-130 gunship. The aircraft made five passes on the way to engaging the building for an hour, eventually killing dozens as tends to happen when advanced air assault technology squares off against unarmed people lying on gurneys.
Subsequent reports would reveal that the US fired on fleeing doctors and others who were running away from the building. Here are two short videos which should give you an idea of what kind of hell patients and staff must have gone through on October 3:
There were competing accounts as to what led to the incident, but at least initially, the military claimed US SpecOps were taking fire from the hospital.
On Wednesday, the US walked back that story. Speaking at a news conference, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell said the crew of the AC-130 mistook the hospital for a government compound that the Taliban was allegedly using as a prison. "This tragedy was the direct result of avoidable human error," Campbell said.
But it wasn't just "human error," Washington is also blaming - get this - "malfunctioning sensors."
AP, who've been all over this story pretty much from the beginning, has obtained a summary of one of several investigations into the incident. "Witnesses differed in their versions of how and why the strike was authorized," the report says. It also indicates that the SpecOps commander who called in the strike "had been given the coordinates of the hospital two days before but said he didn't recall seeing them."
AP continues: "Investigators found that the aircrew continued the attack despite observing no hostile activity from the hospital, operated by the international group Doctors Without Borders. It found no evidence that armed Taliban were operating from there."
According to Campbell, the AC-130 crew's "targeting sensors malfunctioned" and so, they did what anyone would do in that situation, they decided to eyeball it. Back to AP:
Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the airstrike was supposed to have been directed at a nearby facility being used as a Taliban command center but the warplane fired at the wrong building.
After the plane's targeting sensors malfunctioned, he said, the crew relied on a physical description to home in on the target.
As absurd as that most certainly is, it's made even more ridiculous when you consider that "no Americans on the ground were in position to see the hospital." Of course even if they were, this isn't some modern metropolis we're talking about here where the buildings are easily distinguishable by their unique architecture. As you can see from the folllowing images and Google map of Kunduz, it would be easy to make a mistake if one were going by "a physical description of the building":
AP goes on to detail the report's account of the incident: "The AC-130 was sent on short notice after a report of 'troops in contact' [and] as a result, the aircrew did not get a pre-flight briefing and was not given a list of protected facilities on a 'no strike' list that should have included the hospital."
The story then goes full-computer-glitch-retard:
During the flight, Campbell said, the aircraft's electronic systems malfunctioned, preventing it from transmitting video or sending or receiving email. That meant the Air Force controller on the ground was hampered in aiding the targeting.
The AC-130 crew was given the coordinates for an Afghan intelligence building about 450 yards from the hospital, where Afghan forces were said to be in danger. But because the plane had moved to avoid a missile, its targeting sensors were off, and they pointed the crew to an open field.
The crew then relied on a physical description relayed by the commander to find what it thought was the right target.
So, let's see if we can sort that out. The AC-130 was called in but was unable to get good on-the-ground intelligence because their e-mail was down (so we suppose that means that under normal circumstances, soldiers e-mail planes with instructions). Next, the plane dodged a "missile", which threw its targeting sensors off and so according to The Pentagon, this AC-130 was flying blind with faulty targeting sensors into a warzone. Next, the crew did its best to remember what the ground forces (and now the US says it was actually Afghan troops that called in the strike) said about the building's physical appearance on the way to finding "what they thought was the right target."
But it gets worse:
When its computer eventually found the correct coordinates, Campbell said, the crew ignored them because it was "fixated on the physical description of the facility."
So basically: "to hell with what the computer says, that nondescript building is a terrorist hideout if we've ever seen one."
Immediately before firing, the aircrew relayed the coordinates of the hospital, to its headquarters, where officers knew it to be on the no-strike list, Campbell said. But nobody realized the mistake in time.
Does that mean the logistics team didn't even bother to check the coordinates agains the no-strike list? It certainly appears so. And finally:
The plane fired 211 shells over 29 minutes before commanders understood the mistake, according to the military report. Doctors Without Borders contacted coalition military personnel during the attack to say its facility was "being 'bombed' from the air."
It took 17 minutes for special forces commanders to order a halt. By then the attack was over.
All in all, just another day in America's highly successful war on Islamic extremists and dangerous militants. It's worth noting that if Russia had "accidentally" done this in Syria, the Western media would have made it a front page spectacle and the outcry from the US and its allies would have been loud and long.
One can only hope that going forward, US aircrews will think twice before relying solely on "physical descriptions" of targets before vaporizing nearly three dozen people. We close with a quote from Doctor's Without Borders:
"The frightening catalog of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of U.S. forces and violations of the rules of war."
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George Will: The Low Depths of Higher Education '-- The Patriot Post
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:24
Give thanks this day for some indirect blessings of liberty, including the behavior-beyond-satire of what are generously called institutions of higher education. People who are imprecisely called educators have taught, by their negative examples, what intelligence is not.
Melissa Click is the University of Missouri academic who shouted ''I need some muscle over here'' to prevent a photojournalist from informing the public about a public demonstration intended to influence the public. Click's academic credentials include a University of Massachusetts doctoral dissertation titled ''It's a 'Good Thing': The Commodification of Femininity, Affluence and Whiteness in the Martha Stewart Phenomenon.'' Her curriculum vitae says she studied ''advanced feminist studies.'' Advanced. The best kind.
University of Missouri law students, who evidently cut class the day the First Amendment was taught, wrote a social media policy that included this: ''Do not comment despairingly [disparagingly?] on others.'' A grammatically challenged Ithaca College professor produced this cri de coeur regarding the school's president: ''There have been a litany of episodes and incidents during [his] tenure here which have led to frustration because, when brought to his attention, the view of the protesters is that he has been unresponsive.'' Symptomatic of Ithaca's intellectual flavor is another professor, who says agriculture is ''capitalist, racialized patriarchy.''
The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, an irony-free campus, declared the phrase ''politically correct'' a microaggression. The master of Yale's Pierson College said his regrettable title reminds distressed students of slavery. Wesleyan University's student government threatened to cut the school newspaper's funding because it published a column critical of campus leftists. Wesleyan created a ''safe space,'' aka a house, for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM students (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf'--, Polyamorous, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism).
A Washington State University professor said she would lower the grade of any student who used the term ''illegal immigrants'' when referring to immigrants here illegally. Another Washington State professor warned in his syllabus that white students who want ''to do well'' in his ''Introduction to Multicultural Literature'' should show their ''grasp of history and social relations'' by ''deferring to the experiences of people of color.'' Another Washington State teacher, in her syllabus for ''Women & Popular Culture,'' warned that students risk ''failure for the semester'' if they use ''derogatory/oppressive language'' such as ''referring to women/men as females or males.''
The University of Tennessee's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, worried that students might be uncomfortable with gender specific pronouns (he, she, him, her), suggests gender-neutral noises (ze, hir, xe, xem, xyr). The University of California system's sensitivity auditors stipulated that ''hostile'' and ''derogatory'' thoughts include ''I believe the most qualified person should get the job'' and ''America is the land of opportunity.'' The University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point's list of racial microaggressions includes ''America is a melting pot'' and ''There is only one race, the human race.''
Some Johns Hopkins University students proclaimed themselves microaggressed by the possibility of a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus. (Chick-fil-A's CEO defines marriage as Barack Obama did until 2012.) Mount Holyoke College canceled its annual production of ''The Vagina Monologues'' because it is insufficiently inclusive regarding women without vaginas and men who, as the saying goes, ''self-identify'' as women. ''Gender,'' said a student, ''is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions,'' and the show ''is inherently reductionist and exclusive.''
Writing in the University of California, Berkeley paper, two geographically challenged students objected to a class featuring Plato and Aristotle and other ''economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States).'' A branch of the University of California, Irvine's student government passed a resolution against the display of flags. Written by a student in the School of Social Ecology (''transformative research to alleviate social inequality and human suffering''), the resolution said flags are ''weapons for nationalism'' and ''construct'' dangerous ''cultural mythologies and narratives'' and ''paradigms of conformity'' and ''homogenized standards'' and interfere with ''designing a culturally inclusive space.''
Students on Columbia University's Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board suggested trigger warnings for persons who might be traumatized by reading, say, Ovid's ''Metamorphoses,'' wherein some myths portray bad sexual behavior. But a feminist blog warned that the phrase ''trigger warning'' itself needs a warning attached to it because it might remind people of guns. But, then, the word ''warning'' might [substitute word for ''trigger''] fright.
So, today give thanks that 2015 has raised an important question about American higher education: What, exactly, is it higher than?
(C) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group
Which Is More Ludicrous? Donald Trump Edition - NYTimes.com
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 22:53
In this campaign season, when so much of what Republican presidential candidates say is made up, I thought it would be fun to play a game: ''Which Is More Ludicrous?''
For example, which is more ludicrous? That Ben Carson stabbed another teenager when he was young and thinks it is relevant to being president of the United States? Or that he made up the story so he could say he got over it by finding Jesus?
Today's game features Donald Trump. I know you're shocked.
Which is more ludicrous? That Donald Trump fabricated a civil war battle that never occurred to make a golf course seem like hallowed ground? Or that he invented a Scottish coat of arms (for a golf course, naturally) and got in trouble with the Scottish heraldic authorities for trying to use it?
There are no winners in this game, just losers '' the American public.
I had a tough time with the golf course/crest challenge. Trying to cash in on the spilled blood of Americans would be really creepy (although politicians, like Chris Christie, do it all the time). But is it bad to cash in on American blood that was never spilled?
Civil war historians say there was no battle at the site of Mr. Trump's golf club in Virginia. Asked about this, Mr. Trump offered his usual excuse. It could have happened, he said. Soldiers crossed the Potomac, so someone must have been shot.
Well, no. Jeb Stuart once led troops across the Potomac River near the site of the Trump links, but no blood was spilled.
So that leaves the ''Trump family crest,'' which appears on the plaque commemorating the fake battle.
Mr. Trump just made the crest up, and claims it has some connection to the fact that his mother was Scottish. The keepers of coats of arms in Scotland said Mr. Trump's crest was phony and illegal, but he finally managed to get permission to use a new version in 2012.
It includes rampant lying '-- I mean, a lion rampant. And a dodo bird '-- I mean eagle, clutching golf balls.
This made me jealous. My ancestors, Irish on my mother's side and Russian Jews on my father's, were peasants. Then I realized that I also have a Crest '' in a blue tube on my sink. And it's family sized.
State Department: Iran Deal Not 'Legally Binding' and Iran Didn't Sign It | National Review Online
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:17
President Obama didn't require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not ''legally binding,'' his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review.
''The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,'' wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter.
Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield's response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of ''political commitments'' rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal's terms.
''The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran's understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose '-- and ramp up '-- our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,'' Frifield wrote to Pompeo.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation's parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime. ''If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it,'' Rouhani said in August. ''Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?''Pompeo cited that comment in his letter to Kerry, but Frifield did not explicitly address it in her reply. ''This is not a mere formality,'' Pompeo wrote in his September 19 letter. ''Those signatures represent the commitment of the signatory and the country on whose behalf he or she is signing. A signature also serves to make clear precisely who the parties to the agreement are and the authority under which that nation entered into the agreement. In short, just as with any legal instrument, signing matters.''
The full State Department letter is below:
'-- Joel Gehrke is a political reporter forNational Review.
FBI seeks hacker after 1.2 billion logins are stolen - BBC News
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:44
Image copyrightThinkstockImage caption The hacker had advertised Facebook and Twitter logins for sale The FBI has linked a hacker to the theft of 1.2 billion internet credentials - the largest heist of its kind.
A hacker known as "mr.grey" is named in court documents filed by the bureau last year, according to the Reuters news agency.
The hacker was linked to the stolen logins via a Russian email address.
Previously, "mr.grey" had advertised the credentials to Facebook and Twitter accounts for sale online.
It was the American cyber security firm Hold Security that initially reported the theft of the credentials and an additional 500 million email addresses last year.
The Russian crime ring responsible for stealing the data - dubbed CyberVor - had breached more than 420,000 websites, according to Hold Security.
In August, the firm said, "To the best of our knowledge, they mostly focused on stealing credentials, eventually ending up with the largest cache of stolen personal information, totalling over 1.2 billion unique sets of e-mails and passwords."
Hold Security then began marketing a "breach notification service" to users concerned that their details had been affected, for $120 (£71) per month.
Whatever the identity of the perpetrator behind the CyberVor breach, the method used was something of a departure from how botnets - large networks of computers linked together maliciously - are usually used, according to Dave Palmer, director of technology at security firm Darktrace.
"What's interesting about this is botnets are usually used to harness their massive scale to attack an individual target - like taking computer games consoles down last Christmas for example," he told the BBC.
"It's instead been used as a massive scanner scanning websites all around the world for weaknesses."
Mr Palmer added that the vulnerabilities which allowed computers to be drafted into such botnets as well as the flaws in websites which meant login details could be hacked were preventable.
"We're still getting caught out by these attacks," he said.
Court Rules Assassination Memo Can Stay Secret
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:41
A MEMO ABOUT HOW the George W. Bush administration interpreted a ban on assassination can be kept secret, along with other legal documents about the drone war, a federal appeals court said in a ruling made public Monday.
For several years, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times have been suing to wrench documents from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council that outline the rationale for killing suspected terrorists. Specifically, they sought the release of the justification for drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen in the fall of 2011: Anwar al Awlaki, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al Awlaki, and Samir Khan.
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said that widespread discussion about the drone program by administration officials, as well as the leak of a so-called white paper from the Justice Department, outlining its legal reasoning for killing a U.S. citizen, had mooted the case for so much secrecy. The court ordered the government to release a July 2010 memo that cleared the way for killing Anwar al Awlaki. Two otherdocuments discussing the CIA's role in such killings were also made public last year, in heavily redacted form.
Today's decision from the court centered on 10 remaining documents that the Justice Department argued did not have to be released.
One of the documents at issue was a March 2002 memo, which, in the government's description, ''provided legal advice regarding the assassination ban in Executive Order 12333.'' (The order, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, upholds a ban on assassination first issued by Gerald Ford in 1976.)
The memo might get at the heart of a debate about the United States' lethal counterterrorism missions, carried out by drone or other means: Why is the killing of select individuals, far from conventional battlefields, without a trial, not assassination?
The Obama administration prefers the terms ''targeted killing'' or ''high-value targeting,'' to describe these strikes (with many journalists following suit). The word assassination implies that the killings are illegal, and the government argues, of course, that they are legal, under the laws of war or of self-defense. But the ban on assassination is brief and contains no definition of the word itself. And for the most part, every administration's interpretation of it has been done in secret. The details of the Obama administration's arguments, in the drone memos that have been released, are redacted.
For the time being, it will stay that way. In ruling Monday against the disclosure of the 2002 memo, the appeals judges said that it long predates public commentary about the drone war by Obama administration officials, and ''the context in which the official spoke might be significantly different from the context in which the earlier document was prepared.''
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, was disappointed with the court's decision and urged the Obama administration to release more information about the drone program of its own initiative.
''In a democracy, there should be no room for 'secret law,' and the courts should not play a role in perpetuating it,'' Jaffer said in a statement. ''The government should not be using lethal force based on standards that are explained only vaguely and on facts that are never published or independently reviewed.''
More than 13 years after the United States' first drone strike in Yemen in 2002, few primary source materials about the drone war have been made public. Secret military documents published by TheIntercept last month showed the expansion of the drone war under the Obama administration and underlined the degree to which the administration's public portrait of its drone strikes '-- as a limited, precision effort against individuals who posed an imminent threat to the United States '' did not always match the reality of the campaigns.
Top photo: Tribesmen stand on the rubble of a building destroyed by a U.S. drone strike in Azan, Yemen. Sixteen-year-old Abdulrahman al Awlaki, an American citizen and son of slain U.S.-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, was killed in a drone strike on this building in 2011, along with six suspected al Qaeda militants. Anonymous U.S. officials have raised questions over whether Abdulrahman al Awlaki was deliberately targeted.
Mafia Warn ISIS To 'Stay Out Of New York'
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:17
A mobster's son has warned ISIS not to mess with New York City because it's under Mafia protection.
Giovanni Gambino, son of infamous gangster John Gambino, said in a TV interview that the Mafia in a better position to protect the Big Apple from the Islamic State than the feds, which are limited in their reach.
Gambino claims the FBI and Homeland Security often act too late, or fail to see a complete picture of what's happening due to a lack of ''human intelligence''. Which he says is the knowledge of individual movements and actions that even the best technology can't capture.
The mobster's son believe the Mafia and its allies, are connected to neighbourhoods in a meaningful way and know what's happening on the streets. He added: ''Wherever the Sicilian influence is strong in New York, ISIS interlopers simply won't be able to set up shop''
He's reassured Sicilian communities that they should feel safe saying:
The world is dangerous today, but people living in New York neighbourhoods with Sicilian connections should feel safe, we make sure our friends and families are protected from extremists and terrorists, especially the brutal, psychopathic organization that calls itself the Islamic State.
Gambino also added:
The Mafia has a bad reputation, but much of that's undeserved. As with everything in life, there are good, bad and ugly parts the rise of global terrorism gives the Mafia a chance to show its good side.
He also criticised actors playing the ''big boss'' but not having the balls to stand up to ISIS and believes that Hollywood stars like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro need to do more when it comes to publicly taking a stand against the terror group.
Gambino's comments came after police in southern Italy admitted that the Mafia has become a key ally in combatting Islamist plots. One officer revealed that ISIS are too scared to enter areas including Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and the city on Naples for fear of being taken out by mob bosses.
The Mafia has apparently enjoyed a revival in America in the last few years as funding's diverted away from fighting organised crime and into combating increasing terror threats.
More Americans should take the HIV prevention pill, CDC says | The Verge
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:59
About 1.2 million people in the US are HIV positive '-- and each year, that number grows by about 40,000. That's why the US government announced today that it wants more people to take Truvada, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. When taken as prescribed, Truvada reduces the sexual transmission of HIV by more than 90 percent; the pill can also help drug users by reducing transmission rates by more than 70 percent.
By looking at people who are most at risk for HIV, the CDC has determined that 1 in 4 sexually active gay men should take the HIV prevention pill Truvada, according to a report released today. But that's not all '-- the CDC also wants 1 in 5 injectable drug users, and 1 in 200 heterosexual adults to take the HIV preventative.
"People who can benefit from PrEP aren't taking it."
"Many people who can benefit from PrEP aren't taking it," the authors of the report write. "If more health care providers know about and prescribe PrEP, more HIV infections could be prevented."
Today's CDC report was produced by studying the sexual risk profiles of different groups of people in the US. That means that the recommendations are based on how "at risk" a certain population might be. Heterosexual adults who have multiple partners and have unprotected sex with people who inject drugs are considered high-risk, for instance. Gay and bisexual mean who have an HIV positive partner should also receive counseling about Truvada. (For a full list of risk factors, click here.)
The report's conclusions mean that at least 1.2 million US adults should consider taking Truvada every day. But making that happen will be an uphill battle. Right now, only 21,000 people take the daily pill; and a third of primary care doctors and nurses have never heard of the drug.
The Web We Have to Save '-- Matter '-- Medium
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:47
It had all started with 9/11. I was in Toronto, and my father had just arrived from Tehran for a visit. We were having breakfast when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I was puzzled and confused and, looking for insights and explanations, I came across blogs. Once I read a few, I thought: This is it, I should start one, and encourage all Iranians to start blogging as well. So, using Notepad on Windows, I started experimenting. Soon I ended up writing on hoder.com, using Blogger's publishing platform before Google bought it.
Then, on November 5, 2001, I published a step-to-step guide on how to start a blog. That sparked something that was later called a blogging revolution: Soon, hundreds and thousands of Iranians made it one of the top 5 nations by the number of blogs, and I was proud to have a role in this unprecedented democratization of writing.
Those days, I used to keep a list of all blogs in Persian and, for a while, I was the first person any new blogger in Iran would contact, so they could get on the list. That's why they called me ''the blogfather'' in my mid-twenties'Š'--'Šit was a silly nickname, but at least it hinted at how much I cared.
Every morning, from my small apartment in downtown Toronto, I opened my computer and took care of the new blogs, helping them gain exposure and audience. It was a diverse crowd'Š'--'Šfrom exiled authors and journalists, female diarists, and technology experts, to local journalists, politicians, clerics, and war veterans'Š'--'Šand I always encouraged even more. I invited more religious, and pro-Islamic Republic men and women, people who lived inside Iran, to join and start writing.
The breadth of what was available those days amazed us all. It was partly why I promoted blogging so seriously. I'd left Iran in late 2000 to experience living in the West, and was scared that I was missing all the rapidly emerging trends at home. But reading Iranian blogs in Toronto was the closest experience I could have to sitting in a shared taxi in Tehran and listening to collective conversations between the talkative driver and random passengers.
There's a story in the Quran that I thought about a lot during my first eight months in solitary confinement. In it, a group of persecuted Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, fall into a deep sleep. They wake up under the impression that they've taken a nap: In fact, it's 300 years later. One version of the story tells of how one of them goes out to buy food'Š'--'Šand I can only imagine how hungry they must've been after 300 years'Š'--'Šand discovers that his money is obsolete now, a museum item. That's when he realizes how long they have actually been absent.
The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web'Š'--'Ša vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization'Š'--'Šall the links, lines and hierarchies'Š'--'Šand replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.
Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you'd rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran's taxicabs writ large.
Since I got out of jail, though, I've realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.
Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it treats any other object'Š'--'Šthe same as a photo, or a piece of text'Š'--'Šinstead of seeing it as a way to make that text richer. You're encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting: Adding several links to a piece of text is usually not allowed. Hyperlinks are objectivized, isolated, stripped of their powers.
At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and pictures'Š'--'Šthings that are directly posted to them'Š'--'Šwith a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages. One photographer friend explained to me how the images he uploads directly to Facebook receive a large number of likes, which in turn means they appear more on other people's news feeds. On the other hand, when he posts a link to the same picture somewhere outside Facebook'Š'--'Šhis now-dusty blog, for instance'Š'--'Šthe images are much less visible to Facebook itself, and therefore get far fewer likes. The cycle reinforces itself.
Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. Instagram'Š'--'Šowned by Facebook'Š'--'Šdoesn't allow its audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won't go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. Many don't even realize that they're using the Internet's infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment on a friend's Facebook video. It's just an app.
But hyperlinks aren't just the skeleton of the web: They are its eyes, a path to its soul. And a blind webpage, one without hyperlinks, can't look or gaze at another webpage'Š'--'Šand this has serious consequences for the dynamics of power on the web.
More or less, all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency. But in the world of webpages, gaze functions differently: It is more empowering. When a powerful website'Š'--'Šsay Google or Facebook'Š'--'Šgazes at, or links to, another webpage, it doesn't just connect it'Š'--'Šit brings it into existence; gives it life. Metaphorically, without this empowering gaze, your web page doesn't breathe. No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind; and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page.
On the other hand, the most powerful web pages are those that have many eyes upon them. Just like celebrities who draw a kind of power from the millions of human eyes gazing at them any given time, web pages can capture and distribute their power through hyperlinks.
But apps like Instagram are blind'Š'--'Šor almost blind. Their gaze goes nowhere except inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying.
Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: novelty and popularity, reflected by the real world dominance of young celebrities. That philosophy is the Stream.
The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that's picked for them by complex ''and secretive'Š'--'Šalgorithms.
The Stream means you don't need to open so many websites any more. You don't need numerous tabs. You don't even need a web browser. You open Twitter or Facebook on your smartphone and dive deep in. The mountain has come to you. Algorithms have picked everything for you. According to what you or your friends have read or seen before, they predict what you might like to see. It feels great not to waste time in finding interesting things on so many websites.
But are we missing something here? What are we exchanging for efficiency?
In many apps, the votes we cast'Š'--'Šthe likes, the plusses, the stars, the hearts'Š'--'Šare actually more related to cute avatars and celebrity status than to the substance of what's posted. A most brilliant paragraph by some ordinary-looking person can be left outside the Stream, while the silly ramblings of a celebrity gain instant Internet presence.
And not only do the algorithms behind the Stream equate newness and popularity with importance, they also tend to show us more of what we've already liked. These services carefully scan our behaviour and delicately tailor our news feeds with posts, pictures and videos that they think we would most likely want to see.
Popularity is not wrong in and of itself, but it has its own perils. In a free-market economy, low-quality goods with the wrong prices are doomed to failure. Nobody gets upset when a quiet Brooklyn cafe with bad lattes and rude servers goes out of business. But opinions are not the same as material goods or services. They won't disappear if they are unpopular or even bad. In fact, history has proven that most big ideas (and many bad ones) have been quite unpopular for a long time, and their marginal status has only strengthened them. Minority views are radicalized when they can't be expressed and recognized.
Today the Stream is digital media's dominant form of organizing information. It's in every social network and mobile application. Since I gained my freedom, everywhere I turn I see the Stream. I guess it won't be too long before we see news websites organize their entire content based on the same principles. The prominence of the Stream today doesn't just make vast chunks of the Internet biased against quality'Š'--'Šit also means a deep betrayal to the diversity that the world wide web had originally envisioned.
There's no question to me that the diversity of themes and opinions is less online today than it was in the past. New, different, and challenging ideas get suppressed by today's social networks because their ranking strategies prioritize the popular and habitual. (No wonder why Apple is hiring human editors for its news app.) But diversity is being reduced in other ways, and for other purposes.
Some of it is visual. Yes, it is true that all my posts on Twitter and Facebook look something similar to a personal blog: They are collected in reverse-chronological order, on a specific webpage, with direct web addresses to each post. But I have very little control over how it looks like; I can't personalize it much. My page must follow a uniform look which the designers of the social network decide for me.
The centralization of information also worries me because it makes it easier for things to disappear. After my arrest, my hosting service closed my account, because I wasn't able to pay its monthly fee. But at least I had a backup of all my posts in a database on my own web server. (Most blogging platforms used to enable you to transfer your posts and archives to your own web space, whereas now most platforms don't let you so.) Even if I didn't, the Internet archive might keep a copy. But what if my account on Facebook or Twitter is shut down for any reason? Those services themselves may not die any time soon, but it would be not too difficult to imagine a day many American services shut down accounts of anyone who is from Iran, as a result of the current regime of sanctions. If that happened, I might be able to download my posts in some of them, and let's assume the backup can be easily imported into another platform. But what about the unique web address for my social network profile? Would I be able to claim it back later, after somebody else has possessed it? Domain names switch hands, too, but managing the process is easier and more clear'-- especially since there is a financial relationship between you and the seller which makes it less prone to sudden and untransparent decisions.
But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations.
Surveillance is increasingly imposed on civilized lives, and it just gets worse as time goes by. The only way to stay outside of this vast apparatus of surveillance might be to go into a cave and sleep, even if you can't make it 300 years.
Being watched is something we all eventually have to get used to and live with and, sadly, it has nothing to do with the country of our residence. Ironically enough, states that cooperate with Facebook and Twitter know much more about their citizens than those, like Iran, where the state has a tight grip on the Internet but does not have legal access to social media companies.
What is more frightening than being merely watched, though, is being controlled. When Facebook can know us better than our parents with only 150 likes, and better than our spouses with 300 likes, the world appears quite predictable, both for governments and for businesses. And predictability means control.
Middle-class Iranians, like most people in the world, are obsessed with new trends. Utility or quality of things usually comes second to their trendiness. In early 2000s writing blogs made you cool and trendy, then around 2008 Facebook came in and then Twitter. Since 2014 the hype is all about Instagram, and no one knows what is next. But the more I think about these changes, the more I realize that even all my concerns might have been misdirected. Perhaps I am worried about the wrong thing. Maybe it's not the death of the hyperlink, or the centralization, exactly.
Maybe it's that text itself is disappearing. After all, the first visitors to the web spent their time online reading web magazines. Then came blogs, then Facebook, then Twitter. Now it's Facebook videos and Instagram and SnapChat that most people spend their time on. There's less and less text to read on social networks, and more and more video to watch, more and more images to look at. Are we witnessing a decline of reading on the web in favor of watching and listening?
Is this trend driven by people's changing cultural habits, or is it that people are following the new laws of social networking? I don't know'Š'--'Šthat's for researchers to find out'Š'--'Šbut it feels like it's reviving old cultural wars. After all, the web started out by imitating books and for many years, it was heavily dominated by text, by hypertext. Search engines put huge value on these things, and entire companies'Š'--'Šentire monopolies'Š'--'Šwere built off the back of them. But as the number of image scanners and digital photos and video cameras grows exponentially, this seems to be changing. Search tools are starting to add advanced image recognition algorithms; advertising money is flowing there.
But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication'Š'--'Šnodes and networks and links'Š'--'Štoward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.
The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.
When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples' comments or leave one, or open an article. But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.
Russian jet pilot says there were 'no warnings' by Turkey before plane was shot down - Mirror Online
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:23
The surviving pilot of a Russian jet downed by Turkey has said there were no warnings before they were struck out of the sky, it's reported.
Captain Konstantin Murakhtin told a Russian TV station that his plane was flying over Syrian territory and did not violate Turkish airspace.
Speaking for the first time since the incident yesterday, the pilot said he knew the region like the back of his hand and "couldn't possibly have flown into Turkish airspace".
One of the pilots parachutes out of the Russian jetMr Murakhtin was rescued early on Wednesday by Russian and Syrian commando and was speaking in televised comments from the Russian Hemeimeem air base in Syria.
He said Turkey did not give any visual or radio signal before they downed the jet.
Follow the events as they happen on our live blog
His colleague, who was named as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshov, was reportedly killed by militants after bailing out.
Vladimir Putin has said the Captain Murakhtin and his rescuers should be decorated for bravery, it was earlier reported.
The president has praised the navigator and said he will be awarded the Order of Courage, according to AFP.
Read more:Russia Turkey crisis: What we know so far after fighter jet is shot down
The dead pilot has posthumously been named a Hero of Russia, the country's highest military award.
Captain Murakhtin is ''safe and sound'' at an air base in Latakia province after being rescued in an overnight 12-hour rescue operation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a meeting on the Russian armed forces activities in SyriaA statement from the Syrian armed forces said a special unit carried out overnight a ''qualitative'' operation with Russian forces and rescued one of the two pilots.
In a statement carried by Syria's official news agency SANA, the army said the Syrian and Russian forces penetrated into the areas where ''terrorists'' are entrenched at a depth of 4.5 kilometers and rescued the pilot. It said he is in ''good health''.
One of the marines, named as Alexander Pozynich, was killed during the operation and has been posthumously awarded the Order of Courage, it's reported.
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Media Watch: Deception Detection Deficiency (28/09/2009)
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 23:03
Now, should you believe what you read on newspaper websites or hear on the radio?
Media Watch viewers know the answer is frequently 'no'. But according to an outfit called the Levitt Institute, too many people do.
It recently put out this report:
Deception Detection Across Australian Populations
'-- Report, The Levitt Institute, 12th September, 2009
Read the full report published by The Levitt Institute
Last Sunday a media release about the research was picked up by Australian Associated Press.
Its story was widely run on news websites around the country:
Sydney the most naive city, study findsPssst! Have you heard the one about Captain Cook and his three wives?
'-- The Age online, 20th September, 2009
Read the full story published in The Age online
As the Levitt Institute's Lauren Kennedy told the ABC in Brisbane next morning...
Lauren Kennedy: We took around a thousand 25 to 35 year-olds from five different states and we got them to read 15 different articles that were based on Australian history, five of which were complete fabrications. So, I'm talking about Richie Benaud serving in the Senate. Australia's first Prime Minister was an atheist to Captain James Cook had three wives, that kind of thing.
'-- ABC Radio Brisbane Breakfast, 21st September, 2009
Sydneysiders were the most gullible, Melburnians the least - the sort of comparison that's bound to get a silly survey like this plenty of coverage.
And indeed the Levitt Institute did well. Around 33 radio stations plus Fairfax and News Ltd websites gave it a run.
It even made it onto Ten's bright new news-comedy show, the 7pm Project:
Charlie Pickering: Now in a report out today we found that young Australians are extremely gullible.
'-- Channel Ten, The 7pm Project, 21st September, 2009
News website Crikey's deputy editor, Sophie Black, said we shouldn't believe all we read...
Sophie Black: Once upon a time you'd read it in the newspaper and you knew that a hundred different fact-checkers had checked the story, a sub-editor, an editor, but these days information and news is put up so quickly that, you know, there's no one there to check it...
'-- Channel Ten, The 7pm Project, 21st September, 2009
Ah Sophie, how true.
And certainly, none of these worthy news outlets seems to have bothered to check up on the Levitt Institute.
But as the web-enthusiasts say, the media may get more stuff wrong these days, but it doesn't stay wrong for long.
That same day, Media Watch received an email from a very savvy viewer about:
... what appears to be a lovely self fulfilling hoax...
'-- Email from tipster to Media Watch, 21st September, 2009
Our tipster had checked up on the Levitt Institute.
Though it claims to have been founded in 2007...
... I established that their domain www.levittinstitute.org was only registered on 8 September this year.
'-- Email from tipster to Media Watch, 21st September, 2009
The tipster then Googled the name of the Institute's founder, Dr Carl Varnsen and found very little, except a reference in Wikipedia to a:
List of Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich people.
'-- Wikipedia
...where, amid a panoply of Nobel Prizewinners and the like, under:
Other Notable Alumni...
'-- Wikipedia
...is the entry:
Carl VarnsenPublic intellectual and leading sociologist in Australia.
'-- Wikipedia
Public intellectual? How come none of us have ever heard of him?
Our tipster pointed out:
This reference was added on 11 September 2009...
'-- Email from tipster to Media Watch, 21st September, 2009
Of course, there was another bloke who used the name Karl Varnsen as an alias...
Real Estate Agent: Would you like to see the rest of the apartment, Mr um...?
Jerry Seinfeld: Varnsen. Kal Varnsen.
'-- Seinfeld, Season 9, Episode 20
We did some digging of our own. We sent a camera along to the Levitt Institute's address in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale.
Doesn't look very prepossessing, does it? Locked up and derelict, in fact.
And then there's the report itself.
In amongst paragraphs of impenetrable mathematical gibberish is this sentence:
These results were completely made up to be fictitious material through a process of modified truth and credibility nodes.
'-- Report, The Levitt Institute, 12th September, 2009
Enough already. It's all a hoax - a quite elaborate one - designed to make the media look like gullible idiots.
Well, it succeeded.
And the perpetrator, we found out, was itself a media company, Zapruder's Other Films, part-owned by that pillar of rectitude, Andrew Denton.
All was due to be revealed on a new show which starts this very week on this very channel. According to Andrew Denton The Hungry Beast will be:
"...an unusual hybrid of journalism, comedy and... something else..."
'-- ABC Website - Program Summary, Hungry Beast
Something else like, blatant misrepresentation? According to The Hungry Beast's pre-publicity, its young recruits have been put through a rigorous crash course in journalism.
Being taken through ethics, media law, interview technique, writing for television, story conferencing, camera workshops, it covered a huge amount.
'-- Two Thousand website, interview with Hungry Beast web content producer, Elmo Keep
Ethics, eh? Well, AAP don't think much of the ethics of this little exercise.
While this incident has caused us to review our verification procedures,... any fair-minded observer would understand how this hoax, with supporting website, 10-page report, and PR people spruiking the results could deceive a busy reporter facing rolling agency deadlines... No-matter what the rationale behind this hoax, it is cheap and mischievous.
'-- Response from Mike Osborne (Editor, The Australian Associated Press) to Media Watch, 28th September, 2009
Read AAP's full response to Media Watch's questions
No doubt many of you would reckon it's pretty funny too but there's another lesson for the folk at The Hungry Beast in all this: it's a cut-throat world out there. If you think you can put a hoax on the web two weeks before you go to air, without anyone else spotting it you're living in fairyland.
The Beast is much too Hungry for that.
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SpaceX's Elon Musk goes ballistic over Jeff Bezos' rocket feat
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:20
Chris Woodyard and James Dean, USA TODAY and Florida Today2:14 p.m. EST November 24, 2015
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, left, unveils the new Blue Origin rocket, as Florida Gov. Rick Scott applauds, during a news conference at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in September(Photo: AP)
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk apparently wasn't ready to let Amazon's Jeff Bezos bask too long in the glory Tuesday of a space achievement.
Bezos' rocket venture, Blue Origin, showed that it can send a spacecraft aloft, then have it land vertically back on earth -- a feat that SpaceX has been trying to achieve lately on a barge.
Blue Origin said its unmanned New Shepard capsule climbed to a height of nearly 333,000 feet, or about 62 miles on Monday, just above the internationally recognized boundary of space. The capsule landed under parachutes on the company's private range in West Texas.
Bezos took to Twitter on Tuesday to note the milestone. In what appears to be his first ever tweet, Bezos wrote, "The rarest of beasts - a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right." Then he linked to a video of the takeoff and landing.
But Twitter veteran Musk, who is CEO of Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and electric-car maker Tesla Motors, couldn't hold back. First, he tweeted congratulations. But then added a few other tweets on the matter, including one that said, "Jeff maybe unaware SpaceX suborbital VTOL flight began 2013. Orbital water landing 2014. Orbital land landing next." VTOL stands for vertical takeoff and landing.
SpaceX so far has been unsuccessful in two attempts to land larger and more powerful Falcon 9 rocket boosters on an ocean platform. The company plans to try again on its next launch, perhaps next month.
Bezos said the Blue Origins booster flew through 119 mile-per-hour crosswinds at high altitude before firing its single BE-3 engine to slow its fall and make a controlled landing on legs less than five feet from the center of the launch pad.
"Full reuse is a game changer, and we can't wait to fuel up and fly again," he said.
Bezos is among wealthy space entrepreneurs including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who are attempting to develop reusable rockets, believing reusability is the key to dramatically lowering the cost of human spaceflight.
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The Top of the Pyramid: The Rothschilds, the Vatican and the British Crown Rule World | Humans Are Free
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:08
There are two operant Crowns in England, one being Queen Elizabeth II . Although extremely wealthy...
There are two operant Crowns in England, one being Queen Elizabeth II.Although extremely wealthy, the Queen functions largely in a ceremonial capacity and serves to deflect attention away from the other Crown, who issues her marching orders through their control of the English Parliament.
This other Crown is comprised of a committee of 12 banks headed by the Bank of England (House of Rothschild). They rule the world from the 677-acre, independent sovereign state know as The City of London, or simply 'The City.'
The City is not a part of England, just as Washington D.C., is not a part of the USA.
The City is referred to as the wealthiest square mile on earth and is presided over by a Lord Mayor who is appointed annually.When the Queen wishes to conduct business within the City, she is met by the Lord Mayor at Temple (Templar) Bar where she requests permission to enter this private, sovereign state. She then proceeds into the City walking several paces behind the Mayor.
Her entourage may not be clothed in anything other than service uniforms.
In the nineteenth century, 90% of the world's trade was carried by British ships controlled by the Crown. The other 10% of ships had to pay commissions to the Crown simply for the privilege of using the world's oceans.
The Crown reaped billions in profits while operating under the protection of the British armed forces. This was not British commerce or British wealth, but the Crown's commerce and the Crown's wealth.
As of 1850, author Frederic Morton estimated the Rothschild fortune to be in excess of $10 billion (today, the combined wealth of the banking dynasties is estimated at around $500 trillion).
Today, the bonded indebtedness of the world is held by the Crown.The aforementioned Temple Bar is the juristic arm of the Crown and holds an exclusive monopoly on global legal fraud through their Bar Association franchises. The Temple Bar is comprised of four Inns of Court.
They are: the Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn. The entry point to these closed secret societies is only to be found when one is called to their Bar.
The Bar attorneys in the United States owe their allegiance and pledge their oaths to the Crown. All Bar Associations throughout the world are signatories and franchises to the International Bar Association located at the Inns of Court of the Crown Temple.
The Inner Temple holds the legal system franchise by license that bleeds Canada and Great Britain white, while the Middle Temple has license to steal from America.
To have the Declaration of Independence recognized internationally, Middle Templar King George III agreed in the Treaty of Paris of 1783 to establish the legal Crown entity of the incorporated United States, referred to internally as the Crown Temple States (Colonies). States spelled with a capital letter 'S,' denotes a legal entity of the Crown.
At least five Templar Bar Attorneys under solemn oath to the Crown, signed the American Declaration of Independence. This means that both parties were agents of the Crown.
There is no lawful effect when a party signs as both the first and second parties. The Declaration was simply an internal memo circulating among private members of the Crown.
Most Americans believe that they own their own land, but they have merely purchased real estate by contract. Upon fulfillment of the contract, control of the land is transferred by Warranty Deed.
The Warranty Deed is only a 'color of title.' Color of Title is a semblance or appearance of title, but not title in fact or in law. The Warranty Deed cannot stand against the Land Patent.
The Crown was granted Land Patents in North America by the King of England. Colonials rebelled at the usurious Crown taxes, and thus the Declaration of Independence was created to pacify the populace.
Another ruse used to hoodwink natural persons is by enfranchisement. Those cards in your wallet bearing your name spelled in all capital letters means that you have been enfranchised and have the status of a corporation.
A 'juristic personality' has been created, and you have entered into multi-variant agreements that place you in an equity relationship with the Crown.These invisible contracts include, birth certificates, citizenship records, employment agreements, driver's licenses and bank accounts. It is perhaps helpful to note here that contracts do not now, nor have they ever had to be stated in writing in order to be enforceable by American judges. If it is written down, it is merely a written statement of the contract.
Tax protestors and (the coming) draft resistors trying to renounce the parts of these contracts that they now disagree with will not profit by resorting to tort law (fairness) arguments as justification. Judges will reject these lines of defense as they have no bearing on contract law jurisprudence. Tort law governs grievances where no contract law is in effect.
These private agreements/contracts that bind us will always overrule the broad general clauses of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (the Constitution being essentially a renamed enactment of English common law). The Bill of Rights is viewed by the Crown as a 'bill of benefits,' conferred on us by them in anticipation of reciprocity (taxes).
Protestors and resistors will also lose their cases by boasting of citizenship status. Citizenship is another equity agreement that we have with the Crown. And this is the very juristic contract that Federal judges will use to incarcerate them. In the words of former Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, "Equity is brutal, but we are merely enforcing agreements."
"The balance of Title 42, section 1981 of the Civil Rights Code states," citizens shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind"
What we view as citizenship, the Crown views as a juristic enrichment instrumentality. It also should be borne in mind that even cursory circulation or commercial use of Federal Reserve Notes effects an attachment of liability for the payment of the Crown's debt to the FED. This is measured by your taxable income.
And to facilitate future asset-stripping, the end of the 14th amendment includes a state of debt hypothecation of the United States, wherein all enfranchised persons (that's you) can be held personally liable for the Crown's debt.
The Crown views our participation in these contracts of commercial equity as being voluntary and that any gain accrued is taxable, as the gain wouldn't have been possible were in not for the Crown.
They view the system of interstate banks as their own property. Any profit or gain experienced by anyone with a bank account (or loan, mortgage or credit card) carries with it - as an operation of law - the identical same full force and effect as if the Crown had created the gain.
Bank accounts fall outside the umbrella of Fourth Amendment protection because a commercial contract is in effect and the Bill of Rights cannot be held to interfere with the execution of commercial contracts. The Crown also views bank account records as their own private property, pursuant to the bank contract that each of us signed and that none of us ever read.
The rare individual who actually reads the bank contract will find that they agreed to be bound by Title 26 and under section 7202 agreed not to disseminate any fraudulent tax advice. This written contract with the Crown also acknowledges that bank notes are taxable instruments of commerce.
When we initially opened a bank account, another juristic personality was created. It is this personality (income and assets) that IRS agents are excising back to the Crown through taxation.
A lot of ink is being spilled currently over Social Security.
Possession of a Social Security Number is known in the Crown's lex as 'conclusive evidence' of our having accepted federal commercial benefits. This is another example of an equity relationship with the Crown.Presenting one's Social Security Number to an employer seals our status as taxpayers, and gives rise to liability for a reciprocal quid pro quo payment of taxes to the Crown.
Through the Social Security Number we are accepting future retirement endowment benefits. Social Security is a strange animal. If you die, your spouse gets nothing, but rather, what would have gone to you is divided (forfeited) among other premium payers who haven't died yet.
But the Crown views failure to reciprocate in any of these equity attachments as an act of defilement and will proceed against us with all due prejudice.
For a person to escape the tentacles of the Crown octopus, a thoroughgoing study of American jurisprudence is required. One would have to be deemed a 'stranger to the public trust,' forfeit all enfranchisement benefits and close all bank accounts, among other things.
Citizenship would have to be made null and forfeit and the status of 'denizen' enacted. If there are any persons extant who have passed through this fire, I would certainly appreciate hearing from them.
The United States of America is a corporation, ruled by the British Crown and the Vatican
The USA is, and always has been, a huge corporation ruled from abroad. Its initial name was the Virginia Company and it is owned by the British Crown and the Vatican, who receive their yearly share of the profits.The US presidents are appointed CEO's (they are not elected by us!), and their allegiance is to the "board of directors," not to the American citizens. We are seen as employees of the company and voting is designed as a distraction meant to offer us the illusion that we have a say in all this.
"In 1606 [King] James set up the Virginia Company which was granted Royal authority to begin settlements in the province of Virginia, named after Elizabeth I, who had been popularly called the Virgin Queen. The Union Jack first flew on American soil at Jamestown in Virginia as a permanent fixture in the spring of 1607...
"The early members of the Virginia Company were aristocrats who supported the Church of England and the Royalist cause. They included Lord Southampton, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Montgomery, the Earl of Salisbury, the Earl of Northampton, and Sir Francis Bacon...
"As chancellor of England, Bacon was able to persuade the king to issue the charters which enabled the new colonies to proliferate in the new world...
"The Virginia Company members who actually settled in America included several members of the Bacon family, and friends of his who were initiates of the Rosy Cross." -- Michael Howard - Occult Conspiracy (quoted by Michael Tsarion)
"I understand from contacts in America that it is through organizations like the London Metal Exchange that profits from the Virginia Company (United States of America) are channeled back to London."-- David Icke - The Biggest Secret;
"The House of Burgesses was formed in Jamestown in 1619. It was the first representative legislative body in the American Colonies. The House passed measures designed to help the company prosper. But a serious Indian uprising in Jamestown in 1622 caused the adventurers to lose what little interest they had left. In 1623, King James decided that the company was being managed poorly. He took over the association in 1624 and dissolved the company." -- World Book Encyclopedia;
"Its shareholders were Londoners, and it was distinguished from the Plymouth Company, which was chartered at the same time and composed largely of men from Plymouth.
"In 1619 the company established continental America's first true legislature, the General Assembly, which was organized bicamerally. It consisted of the governor and his council, named by the company in England, and the House of Burgesses, made up of two burgesses from each of the four boroughs and seven plantations.
"...The court ruled against the Virginia Company, which was then dissolved, with the result that Virginia was transformed into a royal colony."-- Encyclopedia Britannica;
"This means that all the rights which applied to the owners of the Virginia Company to the gold, silver, minerals and duties, mined and paid in America, still apply to the British families who own the United States of America and the lands of the united states of America.
"Those same percentages have been paid since 'independence' and are still being paid by the American people via their federal officials who are, in fact, officials of the Virginia Company - yes, including the President.
"...But here's yet another twist. Who owns the assets apparently owned by the Virginia Company? Answer: the Vatican."-- David Icke - The Biggest Secret;
"After the original 13 (again!) American colonies won their 'independence' and an 'independent' country was formed after 1783, the Virginia Company simply changed its name to... the United States of America.
"You see there are two USAs, or rather a USA and a usA. The united states of America with a lower case 'u' and 's' are the lands of the various states. These lands, as we have seen, are still owned by the British Crown as the head of the old Virginia Company, although there is something to add about this in a moment.
"Then there is the United States of America, capital 'U' and 'S', which is the 68 square miles of land west of the Potomac River on which is built the federal capital, Washington DC and the District of Columbia. It also includes the US protectorates of Guam and Puerto Rico.
"The United States of America is not a country, it is a corporation owned by the same Brotherhood reptilian bloodlines who owned the Virginia Company, because the USA is the Virginia Company!"-- David Icke - The Biggest Secret;
"In 1604, a group of leading politicians, businessmen, merchants, manufacturers and bankers, met in Greenwich, then in the English county of Kent, and formed a corporation called the Virginia Company in anticipation of the imminent influx of white Europeans, mostly British at first, into the North American continent.
"Its main stockholder was the reptilian, King James I, and the original charter for the company was completed by April 10th 1606. This and later updates to the charter established the following:
"...The Virginia Company comprised of two branches, the London Company and the Plymouth or New England Company...The 'Pilgrims' of American historical myth were, in fact, members of the second Virginia Company branch called the New England Company. The Pilgrim Society is still a major elite grouping within the Illuminati..
"The Virginia Company owned most of the land of what we now call the USA, and any lands up to 900 miles offshore. This included Bermuda and most of what is now known as the Caribbean Islands.
"The Virginia Company (the British Crown and the bloodline families) had rights to 50%, yes 50%, of the ore of all gold and silver mined on its lands, plus percentages of other minerals and raw materials, and 5% of all profits from other ventures.
"These rights, the charters detailed, were to be passed on to all heirs of the owners of the Virginia Company and therefore continue to apply... forever!
"The controlling members of the Virginia Company who were to enjoy these rights became known as the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London.
"After the first 21 years from the formation of the Virginia Company, all 'duties, imposts, and excises' paid on trading activities in the colonies had to be paid directly to the British Crown through the Crown treasurer...
"The lands of the Virginia Company were granted to the colonies under a Deed of Trust (on lease) and therefore they could not claim ownership of the land...
"The monarch, through his Council for the Colonies, insisted that members of the colonies impose the Christian religion on all the people, including the Native Americans...
"The criminal courts on the lands of the Virginia Company were to be operated under Admiralty Law, the law of the sea, and the civil courts under common law, the law of the land... Now, get this. All of the above still applies today!"-- David Icke - The Biggest Secret;
The United States Inc.
England, Canada, Australia and many other countries are led politically by ''Prime Ministers'' to the Queen. In fact she is the official head of 123 commonwealth countries. America, Russia, and other countries, however, have a ''President'' and ''Vice-President.'' Usually corporations have Presidents and Vice-Presidents. What does this mean? The US Presidents rule from the ''White House.'' The Russian Presidents also rule from the White House. The Jesuits, a large force behind the Illuminati, have their own White House as well. England is ruled from ''Whitehall.''
"The United States government is being ruled from the 'White House,' the government of England is being ruled from what is called 'Whitehall,' and Whitehall, like our White House, is the symbol of power because the hall is like the Masonic hall, the lodge hall, the union hall.'' -- Jordan Maxwell - Matrix of Power;
"For those who think America controls the roost it would do well to consider that the Queen of England is still the official head of Commonwealth (123 countries) and the official monarch of Australia and Canada along with the United Kingdom... add to that the fact that all Bush Sr. got for his two terms as president of USA is a mere knighthood of the British Empire." -- Prash Trivedi;The original 13 colonies were actually called companies. Military units are also called companies. We sing patriotic songs like ''the Star-Spangled Banner'' but a banner is a corporate advertisement, not a flag.
You surrender with a white flag, no colors. When you get mad you show your true colors. If you just won independence in a bloody revolution with Britain would you choose the same three colors for your new US flag?
Why does ''every heart ring true for the red, white, and blue?'' What about the gold-fringed flag used by the military, hung at all courts, schools, and government buildings? It all has to do with the British Maritime Admiralty Law of Flags.
Barack Obama is the current CEO of the USA Corporation and
the gold-fringed flags in the background stand for "ruled from abroad."
''This is also known as British Maritime (military) Law and this is why the American flag always has a gold fringe when displayed in the courts of the United States. You find the same in government buildings and federally funded schools."The gold fringe is a legal symbol indicating that the court is sitting under British Maritime Law and the Uniform Commercial Code - military and merchant law not common or constitutional law, under the Admiralty Law of Flags, the flag displayed gives notice of the law under which the ship (in this case the court) is regulated.
"Anyone entering that ship (court) accepts by doing so that they are submitting to the law indicated by that flag. Judges refuse to replace the flag with one without a fringe when asked by defendants who know the score because that changes the law under which the court is sitting.
"If you appear in a court with a gold fringed flag your constitutional rights are suspended and you are being tried under British Maritime (military /merchant) Law.'' -- David Icke - Tales from the Time Loop;
International Maritime Admiralty law, the law of the high seas, began in Sumeria, was perfected in Rome and continues to this day. Jordan Maxwell has explained that the way we trade commerce today is modeled after the Masons'/Templar Knights' 1,000 year old system.
Notice how regardless of whether you send a product by air, water, or land - you ''ship'' it. The ship pulls into its ''berth'' and ties to the ''dock.'' The Captain has to provide the port authorities with a ''certificate of manifest'' declaring the products he has brought.
Through a legal loophole the royals have created, US citizens are considered property of the queen under British Maritime law. Since we are born of our mother's water, from her ''birth canal,'' we are thereby a maritime product, a ''shipped'' commodity. Our mothers were delivering a product under maritime law and that's why we are born in a ''delivery room.''
That's why the ''doc'' signs your ''berth'' certificate, your ''certificate of manifest.'' You're kept in the Maternity ''Ward.'' Why a ward? No other hospital areas are called wards. Prisons have wards and wardens.
The United States Corporation came about just after the civil war. The Act of 1871 was passed by congress creating a separate form of government for DC, essentially turning it into a corporation.
It was decided that employees would be called ''citizens.'' So when you say in court or on paper, that you are a citizen of the United States, you are not a free American, but an employee of US Inc.
When you get a fine, a ticket, a bill, or get sued, you must sign in all capital letters. When you die your Masonic tombstone by law will have all capital letters to show their employee has died.
The entity that is your name in all caps is your maritime admiralty product code. Upper and lower case legally represents you, your body.
''The Uniform Commercial Code was approved by the American Bar Association, which is a franchise, a subordinate branch, of the British legal system and its hierarchy based in London's Temple Bar (named after the Illuminati Knights Templar secret society).
As I have been writing for many years, the power that controls America is based in Britain and Europe because that is where the power is located that owns the United States Corporation. By the way, if you think it is strange that a court on dry land could be administered under Maritime Law, look at US Code, Title 18 B 7.
It says that Admiralty Jurisdiction is applicable in the following locations: (1) the high seas; (2) any American ship; (3) any lands reserved or acquired for the use of the United States, and under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction thereof, or any place purchased or otherwise acquired by the United States by consent of the legislature of the state.
In other words, mainland America. All this is founded on Roman law because the Illuminati have been playing this same game throughout the centuries wherever they have gone. The major politicians know that this is how things are and so do the government administrators, judges, lawyers and insider 'journalists'.
Those who realize what is happening and ask the court for the name of the true creditor or recipients of the fines imposed by the 'legal system' are always refused this information by the judge.
The true creditors in such cases, and the ultimate recipient of the fines, are the bankers to which the corporation 'country' is bankrupt.'' -- David Icke - Tales from the Time Loop;
Lawyers or ''barristers'' have to take the Bar Association ''bar'' exam just as alcoholics go to the ''bar,'' sugar-junkies eat candy ''bars,'' and gamblers hope to get 3 ''bars'' on the slot machine. These all derive from the Templar's turn of the 13th century ''Temple Bar'' in England.
Originally the Temple Bar was literally just a bar or chain between two posts next to the Temple law courts. This soon became a huge stone gate and there were eventually eight of these gates built so the elites could restrict / control trade within the city of London.
They were taken down during 19th century, but then each stone was numbered and kept in storage until 2004 when they just re-built the Temple Bar in London.
''The United States corporation was created behind the screen of a 'Federal Government' when, after the manufactured 'victory' in the American War of 'Independence', the British colonies exchanged overt dictatorship from London with the far more effective covert dictatorship that has been in place ever since.
In effect, the Virginia Company, the corporation headed by the British Crown that controlled the 'former' colonies, simply changed its name to the United States and other related pseudonyms.
These include the US, USA, United States of America, Washington DC, District of Columbia, Federal Government and 'Feds'. The United States Corporation is based in the District of Columbia and the current president of the corporation is a man called George W. Bush.
He is not the president of the people or the country as they are led to believe, that's just the smokescreen. This means that Bush launched a 'war on terrorism' on behalf of a private corporation to further the goals of that corporation.
It had nothing to do with' America' or 'Americans' because these are very different legal entities. It is the United States Corporation that owns the United States military and everything else that comes under the term 'federal'.
This includes the Federal Reserve, the 'central bank' of the United States, which is, in reality, a private bank owned by controlling stockholders (and controllers of the US Corporation) that are not even American. This is the bank from which the United States Corporation borrows 'money'.'' -- David Icke - Tales from the Time Loop;
The Greater British Empire Map
The Shocking Truth About Your Birth Certificate''If you notice on the bottom of your birth certificate it says Department of Commerce. It is a property of the Department of Commerce because you are nothing more than a piece of commercial material. That's why if you're out of work you don't go to the unemployment office, you go to the Office of Human Resources, because you're just a human resource.'' -- Jordan Maxwell, 1990 Slideshow Presentation on Hidden Symbols;
The Judge sits on the bench for the bank. Banks are on both sides of a river. A river bank directs the flow of the current/sea - the currency, the cash flow. The current-sea is ''deposited'' from bank to bank down the river.
We're just ''consumers'' to advertise to, just ''human resources'' to be used up like batteries, and they are the ''social engineers,'' molding us ''useless eaters'' into wage slavery.
Read The Atlantean Conspiracy if you want to learn more.Additions by Alexander Light, HumansAreFree.com; | References: Mark Owen, Truth Control, Virginia Company, The Atlantean Conspiracy;
The (British) Crown Empire and the City of London Corporation | Humans Are Free
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:08
World politics today is governed by the Vatican , but also by the Crown Empire. The modern world of ...
World politics today is governed by the Vatican, but also by the Crown Empire. The modern world of so-called Western Civilization began at the end of the 17th century with the blossoming of the British Empire.That empire actually began several hundred years earlier with the establishment of the City of London, which is now an 800-year corporation that controls finance from an entity called 'The Crown'.This entity is the creator and controller of the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve, the World Bank (IMF '' International Monetary Fund), The European Union, and various cartels and corporations across the earth.The Crown Identity is kept most secret, and The Crown Bank of England took and assumed control of the United States during the Roosevelt Administration (1901-1909) when its agents, who were really Crown agents (J. P. Morgan), took over 25% of American business.The Crown has never been the King or Queen of England since the establishment of the corporate body, but the British Monarchy is a figurehead for The Crown, rules parliament in Great Britain and has authority over the Prime Ministers through a Vatican knighthood called the Order of the Garter. The Crown, however, is not the King or Queen of England '' they are an established monarchy of the corporate body.The Crown is the directorate of the corporation, and Great Britain is ruled by The Crown, the City of London which controls the Bank of England '' a private corporation [owned by the Rothschild dynasty]. There is a private state existing in Britain within the centre of London. This City, located in the heart of Greater London, became a sovereign-state in 1694 when King William III of Orange privatised the Bank of England, and turned it over to the Vatican banksters who today rule the financial world.The City/The Crown Corporation is not subject to British Law; it has its own courts, its own laws, its own flag, its own police force '' exactly like the Vatican city state and Washington DC Columbia. The Crown Corporation is also separate from the Metropolitan city; its police drive red police cars and their uniforms are different from the Metropolitan Police.Also, The Crown in London houses the privatized Bank of England [owned by the Rothschilds] and Lloyd's of London, the London Stock Exchange, and all British Banks. It also houses the branch offices of 385 foreign banks, 70 US banks, as well as Fleet Street newspapers and publishing monopolies. It controls the world media and world intelligence.It is out of The Crown City of London, the headquarters of British Freemasonry overseen by the British Monarchy and the Duke of Kent, that World Freemasonry is governed. This includes the Grand Orient Masonic Order and the Washington DC Scottish Rite.In 1945 the Bank of England was nationalised by the Labour Government, and is allegedly no longer a private bank, although it governs the US Federal Reserve. It is ruled over by the Rothschilds, who are bankers for the Pope '' guardians of the Vatican Treasury.The City of London also has its own Lord Mayor, different from the current Mayor, who has the power in The Crown Corporation.
When the Queen wishes to conduct business in the City, she is met by the Lord Mayor at Temple Bar. Temple Bar and their associate franchises come from what is called the Four Inns of the Temples of Court '' the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple.The logo of the Inner Temple is a white horse on the sunburst seal of the Jesuit Order. The white horse is a symbol of the British Empire / Order of the Garter / Crown Corporation, and is the same white horse which is the symbol of the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations). The white horse is a Jesuit symbol '' Pegasus. It is the Jesuit Order that governs the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. The Inner Temple is the core group that governs the City of London Corporation.The whole Earth is governed by The Crown, through Crown Colonies which belong to The City '' The Crown Empire. It governs Africa and still governs China and India. The colonies of the Earth are really just Crown Colonies '' The United States of America are states of The Crown.This being said, however, it is vitally important to remember the following. The Crown Empire uses commercial law (a.k.a. international maritime law, or law of contracts) as its means of control. This law does not apply to sovereign, free men and women.Your name, when spelt out in all capital letters '' as in JULIAN WEBSDALE '' is a corporation, a trust set up by the government through the treasury department at your birth. Every time a child is born, a corporation/trust is created using his or her name in all capital letters.They do this because governments are corporations and they operate under commercial law, the law of contracts.
The laws passed by governments only apply to corporations and not to living, breathing, flesh and blood sovereign-free men and women spelt in upper-lower or all lower case, as with Julian Websdale, or julian websdale.
The living, breathing sovereign man and woman is subject to common law, not the commercial law introduced by governments through legislation.By Julian Websdale, HumansAreFree.com| Reference: YouTubeAbout the author: Julian Websdale is an independent researcher in the fields of esoteric science and metaphysics, and a self-initiate of the Western Esoteric Tradition. His interest in these subjects began in 1988. Julian is an author on HumansAreFree.com and you can visit his personal blog here.
Gog and Magog - What or who are they
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 21:44
Gog and Magog - What or who are theyGog and Magog - Will Happen Before and After the TribulationGog's Invasion Force, Gog and Magog - Ezekiel reveals how God will allow Satan to use the tools already in place - Islam's hatred of the descendants of Isaac and Russia's need for a secure power base in the Middle East. But, God's purpose is to reveal Himself to a remnant of His children and bring them to faith in Him. Gog and Magog
Ezekiel predicts that this will be accomplished when the Messiah delivers them from the invading hordes led by Gog (Russian leader), of the land of Magog (the land around and above the Black Sea), the prince of Rosh, (Rosh are the modern ethnic Russians) Mescheck and Tubal. (Sons of Japheth (Gen. 10 v.2) ancestors of peoples who settled in Eastern Europe & southern Asia) It is easy to establish who this power is. The first clue Ezekiel repeats three times. He will come from the extreme or uttermost north of Israel, Russia.
Second, he will be a descendent of the ancient tribes of Magog, Mescheck, Tubal and a later people named after the combination of these people.
Third the Russian people will rise to power. Ezekiel clearly identifies the time: "After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. (Ezek 38 v.8) In other words, this refers to our present era, which began with the rebirth of the nation of Israel.
Ezekiel gives a roll call of those who will fight alongside of the Russians in this invasion of Israel: "Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops, the many nations with you. (Ezek. 38 v.8)
Persia is modern Iran; Cush is the son of Ham (one of Noah's sons) and is the father of the black African people; Phut is another son of Ham and this involves N. Africa, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania; Gomer is Eastern Turkey; Beth Togarmah is central Asia: Islamic southern Republics of the former Soviet Union - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, & Kazakhstan.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government has continued to collapse into chaos. Russian business is largely run by Russian organized crime. At the present, those who have the money dictate politics. It's the present world system's golden rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules." The Russian mob is just as interested in conquering the Middle East to obtain a cheap source of oil as any preceding legitimate government of Russia ever was.
And what remains of the Russian political system has a vested interest in hanging on to what little authority it still has. A number of old politicians and military officers cannot bear Russia's present humiliation. They passionately want to restore Russia as a super power. Economically, Russia is a disaster. But from the standpoint of the invention and creation of military weapons, the Russians are world class. And the legacy of the Soviet Union years is the most formidable arsenal of weapons in history. More than once Russian leaders have reminded Western leaders of this point when they felt ignored in world decisions.
Russia has, in keeping with the above purpose, opted to go to the Third World, where it can exercise great authority and lead it. Now the dominant power bloc in the third world is the oil rich Muslim nations. So it fits into Russian overall strategy to help the Muslims in order to establish leadership over them, and to form a power base from which they can build toward super power status.
Russia now has a huge financial stake in Iran. Iran supplies hard currency in exchange for weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction, which Russia has in abundance. But Iran won't do business with the Russian mob, so Russian organized crime is as dependent on the political system as the system is on the mob's control of business. And Iran is the key for both, if they want to survive and prosper at this time.
But the real reason for Russia's "hook in the jaw" is the pact signed with Iran in Feb. 1991. In the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia greatly feared that the southern Republics of the former union, which are heavily populated by Muslims, would catch the Islamic Fundamentalist Revival "fever." Even the Muslims of the little state of Chechnya caused great disruption when they had an Islamic motivated revolt.
Russia rightly foresaw the threat of this happening in a Muslim dominated republic like Kazakhstan, which had a large percentage of the former Soviet Union's nuclear tipped ICBM's buried in silos on its soil. Iran's fanatical dedication to Islam was and is very attractive to Muslims who had been forced into an atheistic society for some 70 plus years.
The Russian leaders knew that in order to get what they wanted, Iran would have to get what it wants. So, Moscow offered Tehran a deal it couldn't refuse. In Feb. 1991, a pact was made between Russia and Iran. Some of the points of this pact is:
Russia agreed to supply Iran with both materials and world class nuclear and missile experts. They would help Iran build its own nuclear warheads and delivery systems.
In exchange, Iran agreed not to encourage in any way an Islamic revival in the former Soviet Republics and also not to interfere with Russia's efforts to put down any such revivals.
Russia agreed to fight alongside Iran against the West in the event they invaded Iran, invaded other Muslim nations of the region, or sought to interfere with the internal affairs of the Muslim nations of the region.
This pact virtually ensured that Russia would one day be drawn into war against the West on behalf of its Muslim allies.
It is predicted that the Islamic republics will finally have their revenge against Israel for daring to claim possession of the Third holiest site in Islam, Jerusalem. Almost against its better judgment, Russia will find herself at the head of a vast northern army running headlong toward their date with destiny on the mountains of Israel.
Ezekiel foresaw the situation: "And you will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog." (Ezek. 38 v.15-16)
"And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire for seven years; so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those who spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God. (Ezek. 39 v.9-10)
Ezekiel's prophecy you just read covers the first time Gog and Magog wars against Israel. (Ezekiel chapter 38) A reading of this chapter will show that the Israelites are living safely in un-walled cities. Ezek 39 v.9 then goes on to tell how Israel will burn the implements of war for seven years.
The second time is after the Millennium when Satan is loosed and Satan's armies surround the holy city of New Jerusalem (Rev. 20 v.8 and 9). New Jerusalem At that time absolutely every one in that invasion is destroyed and Satan is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Rev. 20 v.10) Devil Cast Into Lake of Fire
Up until this point Hal Lindsey explains, Russia and its Muslim allies have been the aggressors and have run rampant through the Middle East and Africa virtually unopposed. They have wreaked havoc with the Antichrist's world order. (He believes that the Gog - Magog war started at the beginning of the Tribulation) Now he sees that they face the fury of a mobilized Western army. It is at this point he states, that the Antichrist will launch his nuclear counterattack. He covers his counterattack by launching the greatest salvo of nuclear tipped ICBM's imaginable.
This will surely be answered by Russian and Muslim ICBM's, which will have been programmed to launch on warning. "And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up" is a perfect 1st century description of the atmospheric effect from a nuclear blast. Catastrophic damage is done both as the atmosphere is compressed on itself and pushed away and then when it returns with almost equal force into the vacuum. He also states that the 21 Judgments are in order.
The great nations that do get Biblical reference are the Kings of the East, (China, India, Pakistan, all openly nuclear), Russia (Gog-Magog), Libya, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and so on. All of them have remained obscure, impotent little Third World nations for most of recorded modern history. Now, at the appointed time, they are front-page news. Right on schedule.
Russia to be Destroyed - When will Russia be destroyed. According to Tim LaHaye, it would have to be at the beginning of Tribulation as he makes reference to the 7 years it takes for Israel to burn their implements of war, or even before it. It is possible that Russia will be destroyed before the Rapture of the Church. There is nothing that demands it, for the Lord can come at any time. However, there is no reason to believe that Russia will not be destroyed before the Rapture.
Ezek 39 v.9 tells us about the 7 years of burning of their weapons. Since the Jews will be persecuted by the Antichrist for the last 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation, that may suggest Russia and her Arab allies will be destroyed at least 3-1/2 years prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. It could, of course, be more. One of the mysteries of prophecy is whether Russia is destroyed before the Rapture or after it occurs.
If the Antichrist signs a covenant with Israel immediately after the Rapture of the Church, this beginning the Tribulation, it is highly probable that Russia will be destroyed before the Rapture. However, if there is a period of time between the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation, the Church could be Raptured, Russia destroyed, and then the Antichrist setup his one world government. All the more reason Christian's should be ready at any moment to "depart and be with Christ" in the Rapture. It can come at any time.
The Soviet Union at the time it collapsed had thirty thousand atomic or neutron warheads, many aimed at population centers? Since the breakup of the "evil empire," no one knows what has happened to all those weapons. Russia claimed it was too poor to dismantle the ones in Yugoslavia and other struggling republics, and the host countries could not afford to man them, dismantle them, or protect them from terrorists. So what did they do?
These cash poor countries began selling them to rogue nations like Iran, Iraq, China, India, and only God knows who else. Over 10,000 nuclear scientists from Russia are reported to have migrated with these warheads to other countries. A case could be made that the world is in a much more precarious condition today than when the Soviet Communists controlled all their weapons!
General Alexander Lebed, national security advisor to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, shocked the world some time ago by announcing that 100 suitcase size nuclear bombs were missing! The bombs in question were 1 kiloton weapons developed by the KGB for special forces operations during the cold war. Weighing between 60 & 100 pounds, each is easily transported and could be set up and detonated by a single man in less than ½ hour. Detonated in a city, a single bomb could kill up to 100,000 people. No one has any idea where they are; neither do they know if the bombs have been destroyed, stored, sold, or stolen.
Reports coming out of the former Soviet Union indicate that since the fall of the empire, security measures have been so lax that as many as 250 such bombs are missing. It is only a matter of time before these KGB manufactured bombs, or more sophisticated miniaturized bombs, fall into the hands of the wrong people.
Russia's Fatal Hooked Harness - Russia's chief partner in that invasion is Persia, or modern day Iran. (Ezek. 38 v.5) Joseph de Courcy, editor of Intelligence Digest, points out that Iran is capable of spreading the Islamic revolution throughout Central Asia, the Transcaucasus and into the Muslim regions of Russia itself.
No one is more aware of this threat than the leaders of Russia. They were forced to sign a pact with Iran out of fear of this potentially disastrous development. The pact guarantees Iran use of their top nuclear and missile scientists, access to every weapon in their arsenal and a commitment to fight alongside Iran against the West in the event of any future armed interference against them. But Iran has only one priority on its foreign policy agenda, the destruction of the State of Israel. Ezekiel talks about a day, in the not too distant future, in which Russia will be inexorably drawn into a conflict in the Middle East.
Ezekiel's prophecy indicates that this invasion will occur almost against Russia's own will. Ezekiel's illustration of "a hook in the jaw of the Russian leader" refers to a donkey bridle made with cruel hooks on both sides that dug into a stubborn donkey's jaw when he refused to follow his master. Every day it becomes more clear just what that "hook in Russia's jaw" will be, the alliance Russia made with the growing Islamic powers of the Middle East, led by the fanatical Islamic Fundamentalists of Iran.
Both Ezekiel and Revelation make it clear that it is God who places that hook in Russia's jaw. Yet, Russia has historically been an expansionist power itself, one with a particular long term interest in the lands that lie directly to its south. Even in "democratic" Russia, a government agency has been actively studying the possibility of nuclear weapons cooperation with Iran, Libya, Iraq and Algeria, all named as part of the Magog coalition that invades Israel in Ezek. 38. Russia is even working a contingency plan for a full scale military alliance with Tehran.
It is Russia's direct alliance with Iran that is one of the most prophetically significant developments in the world today. "Iran's ultimate goal is to be the undisputed leader of the Islamic world, and the way it hopes to achieve this is by delivering Jerusalem to Islam," explain de Courcy. "With so much of the current Arab world firmly in the western camp, particularly the oil rich states of the Arabian peninsula, and with Israel's military machine maintaining its regional dominance through American aid, the only way in which Iran can achieve its aim is through a strategic alliance with Moscow." It is immensely significant to see how some of the best of the secular intelligence communities are coming to the same conclusions as those of Bible prophecy experts.
What must take place before tribulation is Russia and her allies will go down to destroy the nation of Israel but will themselves be destroyed supernaturally by God (Ezek 38-39) As the timing isn't quite sure as to how this attack is in relation to the Rapture, it must take place prior to the Rapture as scripture is quite clear on the time it will take Israel to bury the dead and burn the weapons they leave.
There is one possibility that may offer hope for Israel and make it worthwhile to send these peace envoys from the US and have peace conferences. Ezekiel 38-39, one of the highly significant prophecies in the Old Testament, indicates that Russia and their allies (who make up most of the Arab world) are going to go down against Israel in battle to destroy the Jews once and for all. They, of course, will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel, not by military hardware they received from the USA but by the direct intervention of God.
Tim LaHaye is personally convinced that will take place between 3-1/2 to 7 years or more before the Tribulation. Some of his friends disagree. They think that will be the battle of Armageddon. He does not think so and suggests four reasons it cannot be confused with that battle that takes place at the very end of Tribulation and culminates with the Glorious Appearing of Christ and the establishment of His millennial Kingdom:
Armageddon is not directed against Israel, but constitutes an attack on the part of the world's nations against Christ. (Rev. 16 v.12-21 and 19 v.11-21) The deception of the Antichrist and his insane hatred of Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation period will culminate with his bringing together, even from the Orient over the dried up river Euphrates, hordes of people against, not Israel, but Jesus Christ, the coming King. That he will utterly fail is clearly predicted in Rev. 19. However, this Scripture passage should not be confused with Ezekiel 38 and 39, which to even a casual reader plainly states that Israel is the object of Gog's and Magog's hatred. These two attacks are unique and distinct, and he believes they will occur at least ten or more years apart.
No one-world government is functioning during the events in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The destruction of Russia as revealed by God to His prophet, will come at a time when, as we have already seen, Israel is the central focus of two confederations of nations. These two confederations, the northeastern confederation of Russia and her hordes vs. the western democracies that do not come to the aid of Israel, cannot coexist in the one world government, predicted by our Lord and His prophets for the seven-year tribulation. Tribulation
Gog comes form the North, the Antichrist from Europe, Gog, the prince and Magog the country are predicted to come from the "north parts" (Ezek. 38 v.15) According to Daniel 7 v.8, 24 and 26, the Antichrist comes out of Rome, a mixed blood of Romans, Greeks, and possibly Jews.
It takes 7 years to burn the implements of war (Ezek. 39 v.8-10). Armageddon occurs at the end of the Tribulation just before the Millennium. This in turn according to 2 Peter 3, begins with a renovation of the earth by fire. It is unlikely that the Jews will not spend the first 7 winters of the Millennium burning the implements of war left over from the Tribulation.
Taking these four reasons together, we can only conclude that Ezekiel 38 and 39 are not to be confused with Armageddon. Instead, they occur ten or more years earlier, prior to the tribulation period.
When Does Israel Burn War Implements - In Ezekiel 39 v.8-10 we find that after Russia has been supernaturally destroyed, "those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up. For 7 years they will use them for fuel." Obviously the Israelis are not going to pile all the war implements together and make an enormous bonfire. In a land that enjoys quite mild winters, they will use the weapons for fuel for seven seasons instead of gathering firewood from the forests.
Two facts stand out in bold relief. First, Israel will enjoy seven years of peace after Russia is destroyed; second, for seven winters they will be reminded of God's supernatural intervention on their behalf as they burn the implements of war. It is vitally important that we locate these seven years chronologically, because they are the key to the period in which the Soviet Union will be destroyed.
God has not left us without information regarding His plans for the future. There is a chart in the May 2002 issue of Tim LaHaye's newsletter called Pre-Trib Perspectives that reflects the major events accepted by almost all scholars who hold a pre-tribulationist view of prophecy. Note also that the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel during the latter 3-1/2 years of the tribulation. According to Revelation 12, this event will unleash the harshest anti-Semitic persecution the world has ever know, a fiery furnace arranged for the Jews by the Antichrist.
Russia will have to be destroyed at least 3-1/2 years before the tribulation begins for the Jews to have 7 years in which to burn the implements of war. Keep in mind that there is no reason necessitating the Jews' burning the weapons during the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation. The entire 7 year period of burning could occur before the Tribulation begins, but there is no way to be certain of this. We can only speculate as to whether the 7 year period occurs entirely before the Tribulation. We know that it cannot extend beyond the Tribulation.
When Will God Destroy Russia - Having considered the possibilities for the 7 years when the implements of war are burned, we can only speculate on the possible time of the invasion of Israel and the subsequent destruction of Russia. Although we know they will take place a minimum of 3-1/2 years before the Tribulation, no one can predict when the Tribulation will occur; the exact time of our Lord's return is known only to God.
Rosh, Gog, Magog, Mescheck and Tubal - The nouns in Ezekiel 38 and 39 have been held for years to be Russia: "Rosh" or Gog" for Russia; "Mescheck" for Moscow; and "Tubal" for Tobolsk, the largest state. Genesis 10 is of help in establishing the identity of these names. Magog was the second son of Japheth who settled north of the Black Sea. Tubal and Mescheck were the fifth and sixth sons of Japheth, whose descendants settled south of the Black Sea.
These people intermarried and became know as Magog, the dominant tribe. The name Moscow comes from the tribal name Mescheck. The noun Gog is from the original tribal name Magog, which gradually became "Rosh", then "Rus", and today as "Russia". These make up the modern Russian people.
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Gog and Magog - What or who are theyGog and Magog - Will Happen Before and After the TribulationGog's Invasion Force, Gog and Magog - Ezekiel reveals how God will allow Satan to use the tools already in place - Islam's hatred of the descendants of Isaac and Russia's need for a secure power base in the Middle East. But, God's purpose is to reveal Himself to a remnant of His children and bring them to faith in Him. Gog and Magog
Ezekiel predicts that this will be accomplished when the Messiah delivers them from the invading hordes led by Gog (Russian leader), of the land of Magog (the land around and above the Black Sea), the prince of Rosh, (Rosh are the modern ethnic Russians) Mescheck and Tubal. (Sons of Japheth (Gen. 10 v.2) ancestors of peoples who settled in Eastern Europe & southern Asia) It is easy to establish who this power is. The first clue Ezekiel repeats three times. He will come from the extreme or uttermost north of Israel, Russia.
Second, he will be a descendent of the ancient tribes of Magog, Mescheck, Tubal and a later people named after the combination of these people.
Third the Russian people will rise to power. Ezekiel clearly identifies the time: "After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. (Ezek 38 v.8) In other words, this refers to our present era, which began with the rebirth of the nation of Israel.
Ezekiel gives a roll call of those who will fight alongside of the Russians in this invasion of Israel: "Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops, the many nations with you. (Ezek. 38 v.8)
Persia is modern Iran; Cush is the son of Ham (one of Noah's sons) and is the father of the black African people; Phut is another son of Ham and this involves N. Africa, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania; Gomer is Eastern Turkey; Beth Togarmah is central Asia: Islamic southern Republics of the former Soviet Union - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, & Kazakhstan.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government has continued to collapse into chaos. Russian business is largely run by Russian organized crime. At the present, those who have the money dictate politics. It's the present world system's golden rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules." The Russian mob is just as interested in conquering the Middle East to obtain a cheap source of oil as any preceding legitimate government of Russia ever was.
And what remains of the Russian political system has a vested interest in hanging on to what little authority it still has. A number of old politicians and military officers cannot bear Russia's present humiliation. They passionately want to restore Russia as a super power. Economically, Russia is a disaster. But from the standpoint of the invention and creation of military weapons, the Russians are world class. And the legacy of the Soviet Union years is the most formidable arsenal of weapons in history. More than once Russian leaders have reminded Western leaders of this point when they felt ignored in world decisions.
Russia has, in keeping with the above purpose, opted to go to the Third World, where it can exercise great authority and lead it. Now the dominant power bloc in the third world is the oil rich Muslim nations. So it fits into Russian overall strategy to help the Muslims in order to establish leadership over them, and to form a power base from which they can build toward super power status.
Russia now has a huge financial stake in Iran. Iran supplies hard currency in exchange for weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction, which Russia has in abundance. But Iran won't do business with the Russian mob, so Russian organized crime is as dependent on the political system as the system is on the mob's control of business. And Iran is the key for both, if they want to survive and prosper at this time.
But the real reason for Russia's "hook in the jaw" is the pact signed with Iran in Feb. 1991. In the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia greatly feared that the southern Republics of the former union, which are heavily populated by Muslims, would catch the Islamic Fundamentalist Revival "fever." Even the Muslims of the little state of Chechnya caused great disruption when they had an Islamic motivated revolt.
Russia rightly foresaw the threat of this happening in a Muslim dominated republic like Kazakhstan, which had a large percentage of the former Soviet Union's nuclear tipped ICBM's buried in silos on its soil. Iran's fanatical dedication to Islam was and is very attractive to Muslims who had been forced into an atheistic society for some 70 plus years.
The Russian leaders knew that in order to get what they wanted, Iran would have to get what it wants. So, Moscow offered Tehran a deal it couldn't refuse. In Feb. 1991, a pact was made between Russia and Iran. Some of the points of this pact is:
Russia agreed to supply Iran with both materials and world class nuclear and missile experts. They would help Iran build its own nuclear warheads and delivery systems.
In exchange, Iran agreed not to encourage in any way an Islamic revival in the former Soviet Republics and also not to interfere with Russia's efforts to put down any such revivals.
Russia agreed to fight alongside Iran against the West in the event they invaded Iran, invaded other Muslim nations of the region, or sought to interfere with the internal affairs of the Muslim nations of the region.
This pact virtually ensured that Russia would one day be drawn into war against the West on behalf of its Muslim allies.
It is predicted that the Islamic republics will finally have their revenge against Israel for daring to claim possession of the Third holiest site in Islam, Jerusalem. Almost against its better judgment, Russia will find herself at the head of a vast northern army running headlong toward their date with destiny on the mountains of Israel.
Ezekiel foresaw the situation: "And you will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog." (Ezek. 38 v.15-16)
"And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire for seven years; so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those who spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God. (Ezek. 39 v.9-10)
Ezekiel's prophecy you just read covers the first time Gog and Magog wars against Israel. (Ezekiel chapter 38) A reading of this chapter will show that the Israelites are living safely in un-walled cities. Ezek 39 v.9 then goes on to tell how Israel will burn the implements of war for seven years.
The second time is after the Millennium when Satan is loosed and Satan's armies surround the holy city of New Jerusalem (Rev. 20 v.8 and 9). New Jerusalem At that time absolutely every one in that invasion is destroyed and Satan is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Rev. 20 v.10) Devil Cast Into Lake of Fire
Up until this point Hal Lindsey explains, Russia and its Muslim allies have been the aggressors and have run rampant through the Middle East and Africa virtually unopposed. They have wreaked havoc with the Antichrist's world order. (He believes that the Gog - Magog war started at the beginning of the Tribulation) Now he sees that they face the fury of a mobilized Western army. It is at this point he states, that the Antichrist will launch his nuclear counterattack. He covers his counterattack by launching the greatest salvo of nuclear tipped ICBM's imaginable.
This will surely be answered by Russian and Muslim ICBM's, which will have been programmed to launch on warning. "And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up" is a perfect 1st century description of the atmospheric effect from a nuclear blast. Catastrophic damage is done both as the atmosphere is compressed on itself and pushed away and then when it returns with almost equal force into the vacuum. He also states that the 21 Judgments are in order.
The great nations that do get Biblical reference are the Kings of the East, (China, India, Pakistan, all openly nuclear), Russia (Gog-Magog), Libya, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and so on. All of them have remained obscure, impotent little Third World nations for most of recorded modern history. Now, at the appointed time, they are front-page news. Right on schedule.
Russia to be Destroyed - When will Russia be destroyed. According to Tim LaHaye, it would have to be at the beginning of Tribulation as he makes reference to the 7 years it takes for Israel to burn their implements of war, or even before it. It is possible that Russia will be destroyed before the Rapture of the Church. There is nothing that demands it, for the Lord can come at any time. However, there is no reason to believe that Russia will not be destroyed before the Rapture.
Ezek 39 v.9 tells us about the 7 years of burning of their weapons. Since the Jews will be persecuted by the Antichrist for the last 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation, that may suggest Russia and her Arab allies will be destroyed at least 3-1/2 years prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. It could, of course, be more. One of the mysteries of prophecy is whether Russia is destroyed before the Rapture or after it occurs.
If the Antichrist signs a covenant with Israel immediately after the Rapture of the Church, this beginning the Tribulation, it is highly probable that Russia will be destroyed before the Rapture. However, if there is a period of time between the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation, the Church could be Raptured, Russia destroyed, and then the Antichrist setup his one world government. All the more reason Christian's should be ready at any moment to "depart and be with Christ" in the Rapture. It can come at any time.
The Soviet Union at the time it collapsed had thirty thousand atomic or neutron warheads, many aimed at population centers? Since the breakup of the "evil empire," no one knows what has happened to all those weapons. Russia claimed it was too poor to dismantle the ones in Yugoslavia and other struggling republics, and the host countries could not afford to man them, dismantle them, or protect them from terrorists. So what did they do?
These cash poor countries began selling them to rogue nations like Iran, Iraq, China, India, and only God knows who else. Over 10,000 nuclear scientists from Russia are reported to have migrated with these warheads to other countries. A case could be made that the world is in a much more precarious condition today than when the Soviet Communists controlled all their weapons!
General Alexander Lebed, national security advisor to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, shocked the world some time ago by announcing that 100 suitcase size nuclear bombs were missing! The bombs in question were 1 kiloton weapons developed by the KGB for special forces operations during the cold war. Weighing between 60 & 100 pounds, each is easily transported and could be set up and detonated by a single man in less than ½ hour. Detonated in a city, a single bomb could kill up to 100,000 people. No one has any idea where they are; neither do they know if the bombs have been destroyed, stored, sold, or stolen.
Reports coming out of the former Soviet Union indicate that since the fall of the empire, security measures have been so lax that as many as 250 such bombs are missing. It is only a matter of time before these KGB manufactured bombs, or more sophisticated miniaturized bombs, fall into the hands of the wrong people.
Russia's Fatal Hooked Harness - Russia's chief partner in that invasion is Persia, or modern day Iran. (Ezek. 38 v.5) Joseph de Courcy, editor of Intelligence Digest, points out that Iran is capable of spreading the Islamic revolution throughout Central Asia, the Transcaucasus and into the Muslim regions of Russia itself.
No one is more aware of this threat than the leaders of Russia. They were forced to sign a pact with Iran out of fear of this potentially disastrous development. The pact guarantees Iran use of their top nuclear and missile scientists, access to every weapon in their arsenal and a commitment to fight alongside Iran against the West in the event of any future armed interference against them. But Iran has only one priority on its foreign policy agenda, the destruction of the State of Israel. Ezekiel talks about a day, in the not too distant future, in which Russia will be inexorably drawn into a conflict in the Middle East.
Ezekiel's prophecy indicates that this invasion will occur almost against Russia's own will. Ezekiel's illustration of "a hook in the jaw of the Russian leader" refers to a donkey bridle made with cruel hooks on both sides that dug into a stubborn donkey's jaw when he refused to follow his master. Every day it becomes more clear just what that "hook in Russia's jaw" will be, the alliance Russia made with the growing Islamic powers of the Middle East, led by the fanatical Islamic Fundamentalists of Iran.
Both Ezekiel and Revelation make it clear that it is God who places that hook in Russia's jaw. Yet, Russia has historically been an expansionist power itself, one with a particular long term interest in the lands that lie directly to its south. Even in "democratic" Russia, a government agency has been actively studying the possibility of nuclear weapons cooperation with Iran, Libya, Iraq and Algeria, all named as part of the Magog coalition that invades Israel in Ezek. 38. Russia is even working a contingency plan for a full scale military alliance with Tehran.
It is Russia's direct alliance with Iran that is one of the most prophetically significant developments in the world today. "Iran's ultimate goal is to be the undisputed leader of the Islamic world, and the way it hopes to achieve this is by delivering Jerusalem to Islam," explain de Courcy. "With so much of the current Arab world firmly in the western camp, particularly the oil rich states of the Arabian peninsula, and with Israel's military machine maintaining its regional dominance through American aid, the only way in which Iran can achieve its aim is through a strategic alliance with Moscow." It is immensely significant to see how some of the best of the secular intelligence communities are coming to the same conclusions as those of Bible prophecy experts.
What must take place before tribulation is Russia and her allies will go down to destroy the nation of Israel but will themselves be destroyed supernaturally by God (Ezek 38-39) As the timing isn't quite sure as to how this attack is in relation to the Rapture, it must take place prior to the Rapture as scripture is quite clear on the time it will take Israel to bury the dead and burn the weapons they leave.
There is one possibility that may offer hope for Israel and make it worthwhile to send these peace envoys from the US and have peace conferences. Ezekiel 38-39, one of the highly significant prophecies in the Old Testament, indicates that Russia and their allies (who make up most of the Arab world) are going to go down against Israel in battle to destroy the Jews once and for all. They, of course, will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel, not by military hardware they received from the USA but by the direct intervention of God.
Tim LaHaye is personally convinced that will take place between 3-1/2 to 7 years or more before the Tribulation. Some of his friends disagree. They think that will be the battle of Armageddon. He does not think so and suggests four reasons it cannot be confused with that battle that takes place at the very end of Tribulation and culminates with the Glorious Appearing of Christ and the establishment of His millennial Kingdom:
Armageddon is not directed against Israel, but constitutes an attack on the part of the world's nations against Christ. (Rev. 16 v.12-21 and 19 v.11-21) The deception of the Antichrist and his insane hatred of Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation period will culminate with his bringing together, even from the Orient over the dried up river Euphrates, hordes of people against, not Israel, but Jesus Christ, the coming King. That he will utterly fail is clearly predicted in Rev. 19. However, this Scripture passage should not be confused with Ezekiel 38 and 39, which to even a casual reader plainly states that Israel is the object of Gog's and Magog's hatred. These two attacks are unique and distinct, and he believes they will occur at least ten or more years apart.
No one-world government is functioning during the events in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The destruction of Russia as revealed by God to His prophet, will come at a time when, as we have already seen, Israel is the central focus of two confederations of nations. These two confederations, the northeastern confederation of Russia and her hordes vs. the western democracies that do not come to the aid of Israel, cannot coexist in the one world government, predicted by our Lord and His prophets for the seven-year tribulation. Tribulation
Gog comes form the North, the Antichrist from Europe, Gog, the prince and Magog the country are predicted to come from the "north parts" (Ezek. 38 v.15) According to Daniel 7 v.8, 24 and 26, the Antichrist comes out of Rome, a mixed blood of Romans, Greeks, and possibly Jews.
It takes 7 years to burn the implements of war (Ezek. 39 v.8-10). Armageddon occurs at the end of the Tribulation just before the Millennium. This in turn according to 2 Peter 3, begins with a renovation of the earth by fire. It is unlikely that the Jews will not spend the first 7 winters of the Millennium burning the implements of war left over from the Tribulation.
Taking these four reasons together, we can only conclude that Ezekiel 38 and 39 are not to be confused with Armageddon. Instead, they occur ten or more years earlier, prior to the tribulation period.
When Does Israel Burn War Implements - In Ezekiel 39 v.8-10 we find that after Russia has been supernaturally destroyed, "those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up. For 7 years they will use them for fuel." Obviously the Israelis are not going to pile all the war implements together and make an enormous bonfire. In a land that enjoys quite mild winters, they will use the weapons for fuel for seven seasons instead of gathering firewood from the forests.
Two facts stand out in bold relief. First, Israel will enjoy seven years of peace after Russia is destroyed; second, for seven winters they will be reminded of God's supernatural intervention on their behalf as they burn the implements of war. It is vitally important that we locate these seven years chronologically, because they are the key to the period in which the Soviet Union will be destroyed.
God has not left us without information regarding His plans for the future. There is a chart in the May 2002 issue of Tim LaHaye's newsletter called Pre-Trib Perspectives that reflects the major events accepted by almost all scholars who hold a pre-tribulationist view of prophecy. Note also that the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel during the latter 3-1/2 years of the tribulation. According to Revelation 12, this event will unleash the harshest anti-Semitic persecution the world has ever know, a fiery furnace arranged for the Jews by the Antichrist.
Russia will have to be destroyed at least 3-1/2 years before the tribulation begins for the Jews to have 7 years in which to burn the implements of war. Keep in mind that there is no reason necessitating the Jews' burning the weapons during the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation. The entire 7 year period of burning could occur before the Tribulation begins, but there is no way to be certain of this. We can only speculate as to whether the 7 year period occurs entirely before the Tribulation. We know that it cannot extend beyond the Tribulation.
When Will God Destroy Russia - Having considered the possibilities for the 7 years when the implements of war are burned, we can only speculate on the possible time of the invasion of Israel and the subsequent destruction of Russia. Although we know they will take place a minimum of 3-1/2 years before the Tribulation, no one can predict when the Tribulation will occur; the exact time of our Lord's return is known only to God.
Rosh, Gog, Magog, Mescheck and Tubal - The nouns in Ezekiel 38 and 39 have been held for years to be Russia: "Rosh" or Gog" for Russia; "Mescheck" for Moscow; and "Tubal" for Tobolsk, the largest state. Genesis 10 is of help in establishing the identity of these names. Magog was the second son of Japheth who settled north of the Black Sea. Tubal and Mescheck were the fifth and sixth sons of Japheth, whose descendants settled south of the Black Sea.
These people intermarried and became know as Magog, the dominant tribe. The name Moscow comes from the tribal name Mescheck. The noun Gog is from the original tribal name Magog, which gradually became "Rosh", then "Rus", and today as "Russia". These make up the modern Russian people.
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Tribulation - Daniels 70th Week - Jacobs Trouble
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 21:43
Tribulation - Daniels 70th Week - Jacobs TroubleWhat is the Purpose of the Tribulation and Will I Be There if it HappensThe Tribulation is one of the most significant periods of God's dealing with humankind and certainly occupies a most prominent place in His prophetic plan. More space is dedicated to that little seven-year period than any other comparable time frame in the Bible. It is mentioned over fifty times in the Old Testament by such expressions as "the day of calamity," "day of wrath," "the day of the Lord's wrath," "the day of Jacob's trouble," "the day of vengeance of our God," "time of trouble", "and "the day of the Lord." In every case it is talking about the nation of Israel.
Man Will Never Destroy the World - We hear a great deal of speculation as to whether or not human beings will ever destroy the world. That this could never happen is seen by the fact that God projects seven years in the future destined for His people Israel, which will be consummated in the physical coming of Christ to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom. Everything God determines and predicts in His Word will happen. Therefore we can say without reservation that human beings will not destroy the world.
Purpose of the Tribulation - We should examine God's purpose in sending the 7 year Tribulation. We are not left to conjecture, for it was revealed to Daniel at the same time he received the prediction of the "seventy sevens" (which both the context and the Hebrew word mean "weeks" of years or 490 years; note esp. Dan. 9 v.24.
God never does anything without a purpose, and in this verse we find that He had six things in mind. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
"To finish transgression." This time of suffering will finish the transgression of Israel, which is the rejection of her Messiah. During the Tribulation, the people of Israel will turn to Christ in great revival and will become witnesses who will go forth and preach the Gospel around the world.
"To put an end to sin." The words "put an end" literally mean, "to seal up." This period will end with the binding of Satan, which will "seal up" sin. Humanity's cup of iniquity is filled to overflowing, and God will bring judgment on the earth for their rejection of His Son.
"To atone for wickedness." Again, this is a reference to the revival of Israel, when they will be reconciled to God through Him whom they rejected and who they asked Pilate to crucify.
"To bring in everlasting righteousness." When Israel experiences her revival, the age of righteousness or the millennial kingdom of Christ will be ushered in. Though there will be a brief insurrection at the end, it will be so short lived as not to interrupt this final period of everlasting righteousness that will lead into the new era of the future, described in Rev. 21-22.
"To seal up vision and prophecy." When Israel has turned to Christ, there will no longer be a need for prophet's visions and prophecy.
"To anoint the most holy." This could refer to the holy place on Mount Moriah where Solomon's Temple was built over the place where Abraham had prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, symbolically preparing the way for Israel to have her sins cleansed through the anticipation of the eventual death of Christ on the cross. This purpose may also refer to the millennial kingdom that will consummate the Tribulation and usher in that age of righteousness for which all Christians yearn, the only answer to the heartaches and problems of the world.
What Begins the Tribulation Period - The actual event that inaugurates the Tribulation is found in Dan. 9 v.27 when the Antichrist, "the ruler who will come," makes a covenant with Israel for 7 years. Even though he will break that covenant, his signing will trigger the prophetic clock of God, and from that moment on only seven years will be left for the human race on the earth.
One of the reasons we know Christ is coming before the Tribulation to Rapture His Church is because the Rapture is a secret thing. The Glorious Appearing will not be secret but well known, for exactly seven years will elapse from the signing of the covenant to the Glorious Appearing of Christ on the earth.
Since it seems evident that the coming of Christ is close at hand, people living today are keenly interested in whether or not they will have to live under the Antichrist during the Tribulation. In all probability most of the present generation will go into the Tribulation. The great exception to that is the Church of Jesus Christ. If you are a member of the body of Christ - that is, if you have personally invited Jesus Christ into your heart - you will not go into the Tribulation.
The Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 1 v.10 that the Lord Jesus "rescues us from the coming wrath," referring to the Tribulation period. Revelation 3 v.10 also clarifies "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trail that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth."
God's Purpose in the Great Tribulation - Not to understand that this impending period of Great Tribulation is of divine purpose and intent is to fail to understand significant truths relative to these coming events. Tim LaHaye gives the following four purposes as being discernible from the Scriptures:
To introduce a worldwide revival when, under the preaching of the 144,000 servants of God, a multitude will be gathered that no one can number (Rev. 7 v.9) 144,000
To destroy the wicked followers of Antichrist who are committed to his way, lest they pollute others and corrupt them from the truth of the gospel, thus damning their souls.
To break the stubborn will of the nation of Israel, who will confess her national sin of rejecting the Messiah and plead for His return.
To shake the earth and all things in it so that one's normal sense of security will be so disordered that one will be more prone to look to God. Crises usually cause people to look to God. The Tribulation will be a time when God creates a climate of crisis, a climate conducive for human beings to call on Him while He is near.
One of the greatest misconceptions about the pre Trib Rapture is that it starts the Tribulation. IT DOES NOT! (Dan. 9 v.27) is clear: The signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel begins the seven-year Tribulation, not the Rapture. The Rapture could happen a day, a week, or several years prior to the signing of that covenant
Judgment and mercy - The Tribulation is a terrifying period of 7 years in which God pours out His wrath on a rebellious and unbelieving mankind. It is also "the time of Jacob's trouble," in which the Lord will once again deal specifically with the nation of Israel, bringing the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah they rejected almost 2000 years ago.
Yet while this period is primarily a time of wrath and judgment, it also features a very strong note of mercy and grace, a note that too often gets overlooked. Sometimes we think God gets a "bad rap" when people focus exclusively on the judgments and terrors to come. They see the Lord as some kind of angry monster, heaping up catastrophes and pouring them on the heads of defenseless, innocent men and women, like an obnoxious child might pour gasoline down a teaming anthill with one hand while getting ready to drop a lit match with the other.
But this is wrong! First, those who suffer the judgments of God in the Tribulation are NOT "innocent men and women." The rebels alive at that time will not only reject God and His offer of salvation but will run greedily toward every vile sin known to man, including blasphemy of a kind beyond description. And 2nd, despite their gross sin, God intends that these Tribulation judgments might lead even these wicked sinners to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!
The Tribulation judgments of God serve a dual purpose; to punish hardened sinners and to move others to repentance and faith. The Tribulation will be God's ultimate illustration of the truth found in Romans 11 v.22: "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God." It is true that the Tribulation will demonstrate God's severity, but it is equally true that it will showcase His goodness. The Old Testament prophet Joel clearly saw these two aspects of God's nature working side by side in the Tribulation. In Joel 2 v.28-32 the Lord said through him.
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth; blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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Tribulation - Daniels 70th Week - Jacobs TroubleWhat is the Purpose of the Tribulation and Will I Be There if it HappensThe Tribulation is one of the most significant periods of God's dealing with humankind and certainly occupies a most prominent place in His prophetic plan. More space is dedicated to that little seven-year period than any other comparable time frame in the Bible. It is mentioned over fifty times in the Old Testament by such expressions as "the day of calamity," "day of wrath," "the day of the Lord's wrath," "the day of Jacob's trouble," "the day of vengeance of our God," "time of trouble", "and "the day of the Lord." In every case it is talking about the nation of Israel.
Man Will Never Destroy the World - We hear a great deal of speculation as to whether or not human beings will ever destroy the world. That this could never happen is seen by the fact that God projects seven years in the future destined for His people Israel, which will be consummated in the physical coming of Christ to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom. Everything God determines and predicts in His Word will happen. Therefore we can say without reservation that human beings will not destroy the world.
Purpose of the Tribulation - We should examine God's purpose in sending the 7 year Tribulation. We are not left to conjecture, for it was revealed to Daniel at the same time he received the prediction of the "seventy sevens" (which both the context and the Hebrew word mean "weeks" of years or 490 years; note esp. Dan. 9 v.24.
God never does anything without a purpose, and in this verse we find that He had six things in mind. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
"To finish transgression." This time of suffering will finish the transgression of Israel, which is the rejection of her Messiah. During the Tribulation, the people of Israel will turn to Christ in great revival and will become witnesses who will go forth and preach the Gospel around the world.
"To put an end to sin." The words "put an end" literally mean, "to seal up." This period will end with the binding of Satan, which will "seal up" sin. Humanity's cup of iniquity is filled to overflowing, and God will bring judgment on the earth for their rejection of His Son.
"To atone for wickedness." Again, this is a reference to the revival of Israel, when they will be reconciled to God through Him whom they rejected and who they asked Pilate to crucify.
"To bring in everlasting righteousness." When Israel experiences her revival, the age of righteousness or the millennial kingdom of Christ will be ushered in. Though there will be a brief insurrection at the end, it will be so short lived as not to interrupt this final period of everlasting righteousness that will lead into the new era of the future, described in Rev. 21-22.
"To seal up vision and prophecy." When Israel has turned to Christ, there will no longer be a need for prophet's visions and prophecy.
"To anoint the most holy." This could refer to the holy place on Mount Moriah where Solomon's Temple was built over the place where Abraham had prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, symbolically preparing the way for Israel to have her sins cleansed through the anticipation of the eventual death of Christ on the cross. This purpose may also refer to the millennial kingdom that will consummate the Tribulation and usher in that age of righteousness for which all Christians yearn, the only answer to the heartaches and problems of the world.
What Begins the Tribulation Period - The actual event that inaugurates the Tribulation is found in Dan. 9 v.27 when the Antichrist, "the ruler who will come," makes a covenant with Israel for 7 years. Even though he will break that covenant, his signing will trigger the prophetic clock of God, and from that moment on only seven years will be left for the human race on the earth.
One of the reasons we know Christ is coming before the Tribulation to Rapture His Church is because the Rapture is a secret thing. The Glorious Appearing will not be secret but well known, for exactly seven years will elapse from the signing of the covenant to the Glorious Appearing of Christ on the earth.
Since it seems evident that the coming of Christ is close at hand, people living today are keenly interested in whether or not they will have to live under the Antichrist during the Tribulation. In all probability most of the present generation will go into the Tribulation. The great exception to that is the Church of Jesus Christ. If you are a member of the body of Christ - that is, if you have personally invited Jesus Christ into your heart - you will not go into the Tribulation.
The Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 1 v.10 that the Lord Jesus "rescues us from the coming wrath," referring to the Tribulation period. Revelation 3 v.10 also clarifies "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trail that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth."
God's Purpose in the Great Tribulation - Not to understand that this impending period of Great Tribulation is of divine purpose and intent is to fail to understand significant truths relative to these coming events. Tim LaHaye gives the following four purposes as being discernible from the Scriptures:
To introduce a worldwide revival when, under the preaching of the 144,000 servants of God, a multitude will be gathered that no one can number (Rev. 7 v.9) 144,000
To destroy the wicked followers of Antichrist who are committed to his way, lest they pollute others and corrupt them from the truth of the gospel, thus damning their souls.
To break the stubborn will of the nation of Israel, who will confess her national sin of rejecting the Messiah and plead for His return.
To shake the earth and all things in it so that one's normal sense of security will be so disordered that one will be more prone to look to God. Crises usually cause people to look to God. The Tribulation will be a time when God creates a climate of crisis, a climate conducive for human beings to call on Him while He is near.
One of the greatest misconceptions about the pre Trib Rapture is that it starts the Tribulation. IT DOES NOT! (Dan. 9 v.27) is clear: The signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel begins the seven-year Tribulation, not the Rapture. The Rapture could happen a day, a week, or several years prior to the signing of that covenant
Judgment and mercy - The Tribulation is a terrifying period of 7 years in which God pours out His wrath on a rebellious and unbelieving mankind. It is also "the time of Jacob's trouble," in which the Lord will once again deal specifically with the nation of Israel, bringing the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah they rejected almost 2000 years ago.
Yet while this period is primarily a time of wrath and judgment, it also features a very strong note of mercy and grace, a note that too often gets overlooked. Sometimes we think God gets a "bad rap" when people focus exclusively on the judgments and terrors to come. They see the Lord as some kind of angry monster, heaping up catastrophes and pouring them on the heads of defenseless, innocent men and women, like an obnoxious child might pour gasoline down a teaming anthill with one hand while getting ready to drop a lit match with the other.
But this is wrong! First, those who suffer the judgments of God in the Tribulation are NOT "innocent men and women." The rebels alive at that time will not only reject God and His offer of salvation but will run greedily toward every vile sin known to man, including blasphemy of a kind beyond description. And 2nd, despite their gross sin, God intends that these Tribulation judgments might lead even these wicked sinners to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!
The Tribulation judgments of God serve a dual purpose; to punish hardened sinners and to move others to repentance and faith. The Tribulation will be God's ultimate illustration of the truth found in Romans 11 v.22: "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God." It is true that the Tribulation will demonstrate God's severity, but it is equally true that it will showcase His goodness. The Old Testament prophet Joel clearly saw these two aspects of God's nature working side by side in the Tribulation. In Joel 2 v.28-32 the Lord said through him.
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth; blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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Gog and Magog - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 21:10
This article deals with the Biblical and Qur'anic figures Gog and Magog; for the Gogmagog of British folklore, see Gogmagog (folklore); for the range of hills in Cambridgeshire, see Gog Magog Downs; for other uses, see Gog and Magog.Gog and Magog (; ; Hebrew: ×'ּוֹ×' וּמָ×'וֹ×'Gog u-Magog) are names that appear in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), notably Ezekiel, and the Book of Revelation, sometimes indicating individuals and sometimes lands and peoples. Sometimes, but not always, they are connected with the end times, and the passages from the Book of Ezekiel and Revelation in particular have attracted attention for this reason. From ancient times to the late Middle Ages, Gog and Magog were identified with Eurasian nomads such as the Khazars, Huns and Mongols and were conflated with various other legends concerning Alexander the Great, the Amazons, Red Jews, and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and became the subject of much fanciful literature. They appear in the Qur'an as Yajuj and Majuj (Arabic: يَأÙ'جُÙج ÙَمَأÙ'جُÙج'Ž YaʾjÅj wa-MaʾjÅj), and the Muslim world identified them first with Turkic tribes from Central Asia and later with the Mongols. In modern times they remain associated with apocalyptic thinking, especially in the United States and the Muslim world.
The names Gog and Magog[edit]The first mention of the two names occurs in the Book of Ezekiel, where Gog is the name of an individual and Magog the name of his land; in Genesis 10 Magog is a person and no Gog is mentioned, and in Revelation both Gog and Magog appear together as the hostile nations of the world. 1 Chronicles 5:4 features a descendant of Reuben who is called Gog or Goug, but this name appears to have no connection with the Gog of Ezekiel and Genesis. (Ezekiel was probably substantially completed by the end of the 6th century exilic period; the dominant view among scholars is that the Book of Genesis in the form in which we have it is post-exilic).
The meaning of the name Gog remains uncertain, and in any case the author of the Ezekiel prophecy seems to attach no particular importance to it; efforts have been made to identify him with various individuals, notably Gyges, a king of Lydia in the early 7th century, but many scholars do not believe he is related to any historical person. The name Magog is equally obscure, but may come from the Assyrian mat-Gugu, "Land of Gyges", i.e., Lydia. Alternatively, if Gog is derived from Magog rather than the other way round,"Magog" might refer to Babylon, by turning BBL ("Babylon" in Hebrew script, which originally had no vowel-signs) into MGG (Magog).
Judeo-Christian texts[edit]Ezekiel and the Old Testament[edit]The Book of Ezekiel records a series of visions received by the 6th century BCE prophet Ezekiel, a priest of the Temple who was enduring exile in Babylon. The exile, he tells his fellow captives, is God's punishment on Israel for turning away, but God will restore his people to Jerusalem when they return to him. After this message of reassurance, chapters 38''39, the Gog oracle, tell how Gog of Magog and his hordes will threaten the restored Israel but will be destroyed, after which God will establish a new Temple and dwell forever with his people (chapters 40-48).
Son of man, direct your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him. Say: Thus said the Lord: Behold, I am against you, Gog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal...Persia, Cush and Put will be with you...also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops'--the many nations with you.[11]
In all the books of the Old Testament, Gog appears only in these chapters. (The Gog, son of Reuben, in I Chronicles 5:4 is an Israelite, and can hardly be the same as the Gog of Ezekiel). Of Gog's allies, Meshech and Tubal were 7th-century kingdoms in central Anatolia to the north of Israel, Persia is located to Israel's east, and Cush (Ethiopia) and Put (Libya) to the south; Gomer is the Cimmerians, a nomadic people north of the Black Sea, and Beth-Togarmah was on the border of Tubal. The confederation thus represents a world-wide alliance against Israel. "Why the prophet's gaze should have focused on these particular nations is unclear," but possibly their remoteness and reputation for violence and mystery "made Gog and his confederates perfect symbols of the archetypal enemy, rising against God and his people." The theological message of the Gog oracle is that even Gog is under God's will, and its placement before the Utopian future of chapters 40-48 (the restoration the Temple and God's eternal presence with his people) emphasises the eschatological character of that event.
Internal evidence indicates that the Gog oracle is substantially later than the chapters around it and was composed between the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE. The author has created his list of Gog's allies by blending names from Genesis 10, the "Table of Nations"''Magog, Meshek, Tubal, Cush, Put, and Gomer''with the names of Tyre's trading partners in Ezekiel 27, which includes all these names except Magog, plus Persia''and has decided they are the end-time enemies of Israel by means of Isaiah 66:19, which has several of the names and, like the Gog prophecy, addresses an eschatological future.
Gog and Magog from Ezekiel to Revelation[edit]Over the next few centuries Jewish tradition changed Ezekiel's Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog. The process, and the shifting geography of Gog and Magog, can be traced through the literature of the period. The 3rd book of the Sibylline Oracles, for example, which originated in Egyptian Judaism in the middle of the 2nd century BCE, changes Ezekiel's "Gog from Magog" to "Gog and Magog," links their fate with up to eleven other nations, and places them "in the midst of Aethiopian rivers"; this seems a strange location, but ancient geography did sometimes place Ethiopia next to Persia or even India. The passage has a highly uncertain text, with manuscripts varying in their groupings of the letters of the Greek text into words, leading to different readings; one group of manuscripts ("group Y") links them with the "Marsians and Dacians", in eastern Europe, amongst others.
The Book of Jubilees, from about the same time, makes three references to either Gog or Magog: in the first, Magog is a descendant of Noah, as in Genesis 10; in the second, Gog is a region next to Japheth's borders; and in the third, a portion of Japtheth's land is assigned to Magog. The Book of Enoch, another intertestamental work, tells how God stirs up the Medes and Parthians (instead of Gog and Magog) to attack Jerusalem, where they are destroyed. The 1st-century Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, which retells Biblical history from the Adam to Saul, is notable for listing and naming seven of Magog's sons, and mentions his "thousands" of descendants. The Samaritan Torah and the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made during the last few centuries of the pre-Christian era) occasionally introduce the name of Gog where the Hebrew original has something else, or use Magog where the Hebrew has Gog, indicating that the names were interchangeable.
Chapters 19:11-21:8 of the Book of Revelation, dating from the end of the 1st century CE, tells how Satan is to be imprisoned for a thousand years, and how, on his release, he will rally "the nations in the four corners of the Earth, Gog and Magog," to a final battle with Christ and his saints:
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth'--Gog and Magog'--and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.[29]
Judeo-Christian tradition from antiquity to the early modern period[edit]By the 1st century Jewish circles had identified Gog and Magog with the Scythians, horse-riding barbarians from around the Don and the Sea of Azov, who were supposed to have been locked up by Alexander the Great behind iron gates in the "Caspian Mountains", generally identified with the Caucasus Mountains. This story can be traced in a fragmentary form in the works of the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus, and was vastly elaborated in later versions such as the Alexander Romance and the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius.
After the failure of the anti-Roman Bar Kokhba revolt in the 2nd century AD which looked to a human leader as the promised messiah, Jews began to conceive of the messianic age in supernatural terms: first would come a forerunner, the messiah of Joseph, who would defeat Israel's enemies, identified as Gog and Magog, to prepare the way for the messiah of David; then the dead would rise, divine judgement would be handed out, and the righteous would be rewarded. The aggadah, homiletic and non-legalistic exegetical texts in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, treat Gog and Magog as two names for the same nation who will come against Israel in the final war. The rabbis associated no specific nation or territory with them beyond a location to the north of Israel,[33] but the great Jewish scholar Rashi identified the Christians as their allies and said God would thwart their plan to kill all Israel. Much later, in the early 19th century, some Chasidicrabbis identified Napoleon's invasion of Russia as "The War of Gog and Magog."
Early Christian writers (e.g. Eusebius) frequently identified Gog and Magog with the Romans and their emperor. After the Empire became Christian, Ambrose (d.397) identified Gog with the Goths, Jerome (d.420) with the Scythians, and Jordanes (died c.555) said that Goths, Scythians and Amazons were all the same; he also cited Alexander's gates in the Caucasus. (The idea that Gog and Magog were connected with the Goths was longstanding; in the mid-16th century, Archbishop of Uppsala Johannes Magnus traced the royal family of Sweden back to Magog son of Japheth, via Suenno, progenitor of the Swedes, and Gog, ancestor of the Goths). The Byzantine writer Procopius said it was the Huns Alexander had locked out, and a Western monk named Fredegar seems to have Gog and Magog in mind in his description of savage hordes from beyond Alexander's gates who had assisted the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641) against the Saracens.
As one nomadic people followed another on the Eurasian steppes, so the identification of Gog and Magog shifted. In the 9th and 10th centuries these kingdoms were identified by some with the lands of the Khazars, a Turkic people who had converted to Judaism and whose empire dominated Central Asia''the 9th-century monk Christian of Stavelot referred to Gazari, said of the Khazars that they were "living in the lands of Gog and Magog" and noted that they were "circumcised and observing all [the laws of] Judaism". Arab traveler ibn Fadlan also reported of this belief, writing around 921 he recorded that "Some hold the opinion that Gog and Magog are the Khazars." According to the famous Khazar Correspondence (c. 960), King Joseph of Khazaria claimed that his people were the descendants of "Kozar", the seventh son of Togarmah.
Some time before the 12th century the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel became identified with Gog and Magog. The Franciscan traveller William of Rubruck reported that he had seen Alexander's wall in Derbent on the shores of the Caspian Sea in 1254, and that there were other walls holding back Jews that he been unable to visit; William shared his information with Roger Bacon, who urged the study of geography to discover where the Antichrist and Gog and Magog might be found.
After the Khazars came the Mongols, a mysterious and invincible horde from the east that destroyed Muslim empires and kingdoms in the early 13th century; kings and popes took them for the legendary Prester John, marching to save Christians from the Saracens, but when they entered Poland and Hungary and annihilated Christian armies a terrified Europe concluded that they were "Magogoli", the offspring of Gog and Magog, released from the prison Alexander had constructed for them and heralding Armageddon. As traveler and Friar Riccoldo da Monte di Croce put it in ca. 1291, "They say themselves that they are descended from Gog and Magog: and on this account they are called Mogoli, as if from a corruption of Magogoli." Marco Polo traveled in the Mongol empire when the initial terror had subsided: he places Gog and Magog among the Tartars in Tenduc, but then claims that the names Gog and Magog are translations of the place-names Ung and Mungul, inhabited by the Ung and Mongols respectively.[46][47] Some accounts and maps began to place the "Caspian Mountains", and Gog and Magog, just outside the Great Wall of China. The Tartar Relation, an obscure account of Friar Carpini's 1240s journey to Mongolia, is unique in alleging that these Caspian Mountains in Mongolia, "where the Jews called Gog and Magog by their fellow countrymen are said to have been shut in by Alexander", were moreover purported by the Tartars to be magnetic, causing all iron equipment and weapons to fly off toward the mountains on approach.[48]
The author of the Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a 14th-century best-seller, said he had found these Jews in Central Asia where as Gog and Magog they had been imprisoned by Alexander, plotting to escape and join with the Jews of Europe to destroy Christians.
Gog and Magog in Muslim tradition[edit]The conflation of Gog and Magog with the legend of Alexander and the Iron Gates was disseminated throughout the Near East in the early centuries of the Christian era. In Islam, Alexander probably lies behind the figure of Dhul-Qarnayn, "the two-horned one", mentioned in Surah 18 of the Qu'ran.[51] Dhul-Qarnayn (Alexander), having journeyed to the ends of the world, meets "a people who scarcely understood a word" who seek his help in building a barrier that will separate them from the people of Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog), who "do great mischief on earth". He agrees to build it for them, but warns that when the time comes (Last Age), Allah will remove the barrier and Yajuj and Majuj will swarm through.
The early Muslim traditions were summarised by al-Qazwini (d. 1283) in two popular works called the Cosmography and the Geography. Gog and Magog, he says, live near to the sea that encircles the Earth and can be counted only by God; they are only half the height of a normal man, with claws instead of nails and a hairy tail and huge hairy ears which they use as mattress and cover for sleeping. They scratch at their wall each day until they almost break through, and each night God restores it, but when they do break through they will be so numerous that "their vanguard is in Syria and their rear in Khorasan."
When Yajuj an Majuj were identified with real peoples it was the Turks, who threatened Baghdad and northern Iran; later, when the Mongols destroyed Baghdad in 1258, it was they who were Gog and Magog. The wall dividing them from civilised peoples was normally placed towards Armenia and Azerbaijan, but in the year 842 the Caliph Al-Wathiq had a dream in which he saw that it had been breached, and sent an official named Sallam to investigate. Sallam returned a little over two years later and reported that he had seen the wall and also the tower where Dhul Qarnayn had left his building equipment, and all was still intact. It is not entirely clear what Sallam saw, but he may have reached the Jade Gate, the westernmost customs point on the border of China. Somewhat later the 14th-century traveller Ibn Battuta reported that the wall was sixty days' travel from the city of Zeitun, which is on the coast of China; the translator notes that Ibn Battuta has confused the Great Wall of China with that built by Dhul-Qarnayn.[60]
Modern apocalypticism[edit]In Europe expectations of the end-times have receded with the advance of a secular worldview during the 19th century. This has not been the case in the U.S., where a 2002 poll indicated that 59% of Americans believed the events predicted in the Book of Revelation would come to pass. During the Cold War the idea that Russia had the role of Gog gained popularity, since Ezekiel's words describing him as "prince of Meshek"'--rosh meshek in Hebrew'--sounded suspiciously like Russia and Moscow. Even some Russians took up the idea, apparently unconcerned by the implications: "Ancestors were found in the Bible, and that was enough."Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, told state legislators in 1971:
"Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all of the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north. Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None. But it didn't seem to make sense before the Russian revolution, when Russia was a Christian country. Now it does, now that Russia has become Communistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God. Now it fits the description of Gog perfectly."
Post Cold War-millenarians still identify Gog with Russia, but they now tend to stress his allies among Islamic nations, especially Iran. For the most fervent, the countdown to Armageddon began with the return of the Jews to Israel, followed quickly by further signs pointing to the nearness of the final battle''nuclear weapons, European integration, Israel's seizure of Jerusalem, and America's wars in Afghanistan and the Gulf. In the prelude to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush told Jacques Chirac that Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East: "This confrontation is willed by God," he told the French leader, "who wants us to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins." Chirac consulted a professor at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) to explain Bush's reference.
In the Islamic apocalyptic tradition the end of the world would be preceded by the release of Gog and Magog, whose destruction by God in a single night would usher in the Day of Resurrection. Reinterpretation did not generally continue after Classical times, but the needs of the modern world have produced a new body of apocalyptic literature in which Gog and Magog are identified as the Jews and Israel, or the Ten Lost Tribes, or sometimes as Communist Russia and China. One problem these writers have had to confront is the barrier holding Gog and Magog back, which is not to be found in the modern world: the answer varies, some writers saying that Gog and Magog were the Mongols and that the wall is now gone, others that both the wall and Gog and Magog are invisible.
See also[edit]References[edit]Citations[edit]Bibliography[edit]Bietenholz, Peter G. (1994). Historia and fabula: myths and legends in historical thought from antiquity to the modern age. Brill. Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1996). A history of prophecy in Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. Block, Daniel I. (1998). The Book of Ezekiel: chapters 25-48. Eerdmans. Block, Thomas (2012). A Fatal Addiction: War in the Name of God. Algora Publishing. B¸e, Sverre (2001). Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38-39 as pre-text for Revelation 19,17-21 and 20,7-10. Mohr Siebeck. Boring, Eugene M (1989). Revelation. Westminster John Knox Press. Boyer, Paul (1992). When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern Culture. Belknap Press. Brook, Kevin A (2006). The Jews of Khazaria. Rowman&Littlefield. Buitenwerf, Rieuwerd (2007). "The Gog and Magog Tradition in Revelation 20:8". In de Jonge, H. J.; Tromp, Johannes. The Book of Ezekiel and Its Influence. Ashgate Publishing. Bullock, C. Hassell (1986). An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Moody Press. Christensen, Arne S¸by (2002). Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth. Museum Tusculanum Press. Cook, David (2005). Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature. Syracuse University Press. Derry, T.K (1979). A history of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. University of Minnesota Press. Eichrodt, Walther (2003). Ezekiel: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Enns, Peter (2012). The Evolution of Adam. Baker Books. Filiu, Jean-Pierre (2011). Apocalypse in Islam. University of California Press. Gibb, H.A.R.; Beckingham, C.F. (1994). The Travels of Ibn Baá¹­á¹­Åá¹­a, A.D. 1325''1354 (Vol. IV). Hakluyt Society. Gmirkin, Russell (2006). Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch. Bloomsbury. Gow, Andrew Colin (1995). The red Jews: antisemitism in an apocalyptic age, 1200-1600. Brill. Lester L. Grabbe and Robert Hakke (eds), "'Every city shall be forsaken': urbanism and prophecy in ancient Israel and the Near East" (Sheffield Academic Press, 2001)Grossman, Avraham (2012). "The Commentary of Rashi on Isaiah and the Jewish-Christian Debate". In Wolfson, Elliot R.; Schiffman, Lawrence H.; Engel, David. Studies in Medieval Jewish Intellectual and Social History. Brill. Gu(C)non, Ren(C) (2004). The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. Sophia Perennis. Hays, J. Daniel; Duvall, J. Scott; Pate, C. Marvin (2009). Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times. Zondervan. Hughes, Patrick Thomas (1895). Dictionary of Islam. Asian Educational Services. Joyce, Paul M. (2009). Ezekiel: A Commentary. Continuum. Kydd, Thomas S. (2009). American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism. Princeton University Press. Kyle, Richard G. (2012). Apocalyptic Fever: End-Time Prophecies in Modern America. Wipf and Stock Publishers. Lust, J. (1999a). "Magog". In Van der Toorn, Karel; Becking, Bob; Van der Horst, Pieter. Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible. Brill. Lust, J. (1999b). "Gog". In Van der Toorn, Karel; Becking, Bob; Van der Horst, Pieter. Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible. Brill. Marshall, Robert (1993). Storm from the East: from Ghengis Khan to Khubilai Khan. BBC Books. Mounce, Robert H (1998). The Book of Revelation. Eerdmans. Petersen, David L (2002). The prophetic literature: an introduction. John Knox Press. Paul L. Redditt, "Introduction to the Prophets" (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008)Przyluski, Jean (1929). La croyance au messie dans l'Inde et l'Iran: propos d'un livre r(C)cent. Revue de l'histoire des religions. Schreiber, Mordecai; Schiff, Alvin I.; Klenicki, Leon (2003). "Messianism". In Schreiber, Mordecai; Schiff, Alvin I.; Klenicki, Leon. The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Schreiber Publishing. Skolnik, Fred; Berenbaum, Michael (2007). Encyclopaedia Judaica7. Granite Hill Publishers. Strickland, Deborah Higgs (2008). "Text, Image and Contradiction in the Devisement du monde". In Akbari, Suzanne Conklin; Iannucci, Amilcare. Marco Polo and the Encounter of East and West. University of Toronto Press. Stuckenbruck, Loren T. (2003). "Revelation". In Dunn, James D. G.; Rogerson, John William. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. Tooman, William A. (2011). Gog of Magog: Reuse of Scripture and Compositional Technique in Ezekiel 38-39. Mohr Siebeck. Van Donzel, Emeri J.; Schmidt, Andrea Barbara (2010). Gog and Magog in Early Eastern Christian and Islamic Sources: Sallam's Quest for Alexander's Wall. Brill. Wardle, Timothy (2010). The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity. Mohr Siebeck. Wessels, Anton (2013). The Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an: Three Books, Two Cities, One Tale. Eerdmans. Westrem, Scott D. (1998). ""Against Gog and Magog"". In Tomasch, Sylvia; Sealy, Gilles. Text and territory: geographical imagination in the European Middle Ages. University of Pennsylvania Press. People and things in the Quran
Groups and tribes
Tribes andethnicitiesGroupsNote: The names are sorted alphabetically. Standard form: Islamic name / Bibilical name (title or relationship)
How World War III became possible - Vox
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 18:19
It was in August 2014 that the real danger began, and that we heard the first warnings of war. That month, unmarked Russian troops covertly invaded eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict had grown out of its control. The Russian air force began harassing the neighboring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which are members of NATO. The US pledged that it would uphold its commitment to defend those countries as if they were American soil, and later staged military exercises a few hundred yards from Russia's border.
Both sides came to believe that the other had more drastic intentions. Moscow is convinced the West is bent on isolating, subjugating, or outright destroying Russia. One in three Russians now believe the US may invade. Western nations worry, with reason, that Russia could use the threat of war, or provoke an actual conflict, to fracture NATO and its commitment to defend Eastern Europe. This would break the status quo order that has peacefully unified Europe under Western leadership, and kept out Russian influence, for 25 years.
Fearing the worst of one another, the US and Russia have pledged to go to war, if necessary, to defend their interests in the Eastern European borderlands. They have positioned military forces and conducted chest-thumping exercises, hoping to scare one another down. Putin, warning repeatedly that he would use nuclear weapons in a conflict, began forward-deploying nuclear-capable missiles and bombers.
Europe today looks disturbingly similar to the Europe of just over 100 years ago, on the eve of World War I. It is a tangle of military commitments and defense pledges, some of them unclear and thus easier to trigger. Its leaders have given vague signals for what would and would not lead to war. Its political tensions have become military buildups. Its nations are teetering on an unstable balance of power, barely held together by a Cold War''era alliance that no longer quite applies.
If you take a walk around Washington or a Western European capital today, there is no feeling of looming catastrophe. The threats are too complex, with many moving pieces and overlapping layers of risk adding up to a larger danger that is less obvious. People can be forgiven for not seeing the cloud hanging over them, for feeling that all is well '-- even as in Eastern Europe they are digging in for war. But this complacency is itself part of the problem, making the threat more difficult to foresee, to manage, or, potentially, to avert.
"There's a low nuclear threshold now that didn't exist during the Cold War"
There is a growing chorus of political analysts, arms control experts, and government officials who are sounding the alarm, trying to call the world's attention to its drift toward disaster. The prospect of a major war, even a nuclear war, in Europe has become thinkable, they warn, even plausible.
What they describe is a threat that combines many of the hair-trigger dangers and world-ending stakes of the Cold War with the volatility and false calm that preceded World War I '-- a comparison I heard with disturbing frequency.
They describe a number of ways that an unwanted but nonetheless major war, like that of 1914, could break out in the Eastern European borderlands. The stakes, they say, could not be higher: the post''World War II peace in Europe, the lives of thousands or millions of Eastern Europeans, or even, in a worst-case scenario that is remote but real, the nuclear devastation of the planet.
[Update, Nov. 24: If you're reading this in response to Turkey reportedlyshooting downa Russian warplane today,read here for why that incident will not lead to war, and why it's very different from the scenarios described here.]
I. The warnings: "War is not something that's impossible anymore"Everyone in Moscow tells you that if you want to understand Russia's foreign policy and its view of its place the world, the person you need to talk to is Fyodor Lukyanov.
Sober and bespectacled, with an academic's short brown beard, Lukyanov speaks with the precision of a political scientist but the occasional guardedness of someone with far greater access than your average analyst.
Widely considered both an influential leader and an unofficial interpreter of Russia's foreign policy establishment, Lukyanov is chief of Russia's most important foreign policy think tank and its most important foreign policy journal, both of which reflect the state and its worldview. He is known to be close to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Fyodor Lukyanov speaks at a 2014 conference in London. (Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for The New York Times)
I met Lukyanov around the corner from the looming Foreign Ministry compound (his office is nearby), at a small, bohemian cafe in Moscow that serves French and Israeli food to a room packed with gray suits. He was candid and relaxed. When the discussion turned to the risks of war, he grew dire.
"The atmosphere is a feeling that war is not something that's impossible anymore," Lukyanov told me, describing a growing concern within Moscow's foreign policy elite.
"A question that was absolutely impossible a couple of years ago, whether there might be a war, a real war, is back," he said. "People ask it."
I asked how this had happened. He said that regular Russian people don't desire war, but rather feared it would become necessary to defend against the implacably hostile United States.
"The perception is that somebody would try to undermine Russia as a country that opposes the United States, and then we will need to defend ourselves by military means," he explained.
Such fears, vague but existential, are everywhere in Moscow. Even liberal opposition leaders I met with, pro-Western types who oppose Putin, expressed fears that the US posed an imminent threat to Russia's security.
I had booked my trip to Moscow in December, hoping to get the Russian perspective on what were, at the time, murmurings among a handful of political and arms control analysts that conflict could come to Europe. By the time I arrived in the city, in late April, concerns of an unintended and potentially catastrophic war had grown unsettlingly common.
Lukyanov, pointing to the US and Russian military buildups along Eastern Europe, also worried that an accident or provocation could be misconstrued as a deliberate attack and lead to war.
In the Cold War, he pointed out, both sides had understood this risk and installed political and physical infrastructure '-- think of the "emergency red phone" '-- to manage tensions and prevent them from spiraling out of control. That infrastructure is now gone.
"All those mechanisms were disrupted or eroded," he said. "That [infrastructure] has been degraded since the end of the Cold War because the common perception is that we don't need it anymore."
That the world does not see the risk of war hanging over it, in other words, makes that risk all the likelier. For most Americans, such predictions sound improbable, even silly. But the dangers are growing every week, as are the warnings.
"One can hear eerie echoes of the events a century ago that produced the catastrophe known as World War I," Harvard professor and longtime Pentagon adviser Graham Allison '-- one of the graybeards of American foreign policy '-- wrote in a May cover story for the National Interest, co-authored with Russia analyst Dimitri Simes. Their article, "Russia and America: Stumbling to War," warned that an unwanted, full-scale conflict between the US and Russia was increasingly plausible.
In Washington, the threat feels remote. It does not in Eastern Europe. Baltic nations, fearing war, have already begun preparing for it. So has Sweden: "We see Russian intelligence operations in Sweden '-- we can't interpret this in any other way '-- as preparation for military operations against Sweden," a Swedish security official announced in March.
In May, Finland's defense ministry sent letters to 900,000 citizens '-- one-sixth of the population '-- telling them to prepare for conscription in case of a "crisis situation." Lithuania has reinstituted military conscription. Poland, in June, appointed a general who would take over as military commander in case of war.
Though Western publics remain blissfully unaware, and Western leaders divided, many of the people tasked with securing Europe are treating conflict as more likely. In late April, NATO and other Western officials gathered in Estonia, a former Soviet republic and NATO member on Russia's border that Western analysts most worry could become ground zero for a major war with Russia.
At the conference, Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow spoke so openly about NATO's efforts to prepare for the possibility of Russia launching a limited nuclear strike in Europe that, according to the journalist Ahmed Rashid, who was in attendance, he had to be repeatedly reminded he was speaking on the record.
One of the scenarios Vershbow said NATO was outlining, according to Rashid's paraphrase, was that Russia could "choose to use a tactical weapon with a small blast range on a European city or a Western tank division."
A few weeks later, the Guardian reported that NATO is considering plans to "upgrade" its nuclear posture in Europe in response to Russia's own nuclear saber-rattling. One proposal: for NATO's military exercises to include more nuclear weapons use, something Russia already does frequently.
II. The gamble: Putin's plan to make Russia great again
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visit military exercises in Kirillovsky. (MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty)
Should the warnings prove right, and a major war break out in Europe between Russia and the West, then the story of that war, if anyone is still around to tell it, will begin with Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to solve a problem.
That problem is this: Putin's Russia is weak. It can no longer stand toe to toe with the US. It no longer has Europe divided in a stalemate; rather, it sees the continent as dominated by an ever-encroaching anti-Russian alliance. In the Russian view, the country's weakness leaves it at imminent risk, vulnerable to a hostile West bent on subjugating or outright destroying Russia as it did to Iraq and Libya.
This is made more urgent for Putin by his political problems at home. In 2012, during his reelection, popular protests and accusations of fraud weakened his sense of political legitimacy. The problem worsened with Russia's 2014 economic collapse; Putin's implicit bargain with the Russian people had been that he would deliver economic growth and they would let him erode basic rights. Without the economy, what did he have to offer them?
Putin's answer has been to assert Russian power beyond its actual strength '-- and, in the process, to recast himself as a national hero guarding against foreign enemies. Without a world-power-class military or economy at his disposal, he is instead wielding confusion and uncertainty '-- which Soviet leaders rightly avoided as existential dangers '-- as weapons against the West.
Unable to overtly control Eastern Europe, he has fomented risks and crises there, sponsoring separatists in Ukraine and conducting dangerous military activity along NATO airspace and coastal borders, giving Russia more leverage there. Reasserting a Russian sphere of influence over Eastern Europe, he apparently believes, will finally give Russia security from the hostile West '-- and make Russia a great power once more.
Knowing his military is outmatched against the Americans, he is blurring the distinction between war and peace, deploying tactics that exist in, and thus widen, the gray between: militia violence, propaganda, cyberattacks, under a new rubric the Russian military sometimes calls "hybrid war."
"This was the theory of the Kaiser before World War I: The more threatening you are, the more people will submit to your will. Putin's going to threaten and threaten and hope that NATO bends. But the long run of international relations suggests that it goes the other way."
Unable to cross America's red lines, Putin is doing his best to muddy them '-- and, to deter the Americans, muddying his own. Turning otherwise routine diplomatic and military incidents into games of high-stakes chicken favors Russia, he believes, as the West will ultimately yield to his superior will.
To solve the problem of Russia's conventional military weakness, he has dramatically lowered the threshold for when he would use nuclear weapons, hoping to terrify the West such that it will bend to avoid conflict. In public speeches, over and over, he references those weapons and his willingness to use them. He has enshrined, in Russia's official nuclear doctrine, a dangerous idea no Soviet leader ever adopted: that a nuclear war could be winnable.
Putin, having recast himself at home as a national hero standing up to foreign enemies, is more popular than ever. Russia has once more become a shadow hanging over Eastern Europe, feared and only rarely bowed to, but always taken seriously. Many Western Europeans, asked in a poll whether they would defend their own Eastern European allies from a Russian invasion, said no.
Russia's aggression, born of both a desire to reengineer a European order that it views as hostile and a sense of existential weakness that justifies drastic measures, makes it far more willing to accept the dangers of war.
As RAND's F. Stephen Larrabee wrote in one of the increasingly urgent warnings that some analysts are issuing, "The Russia that the United States faces today is more assertive and more unpredictable '-- and thus, in many ways, more dangerous '-- than the Russia that the United States confronted during the latter part of the Cold War."
Joseph Nye, the dean of Harvard University's school of government and one of America's most respected international relations scholars, pointed out that Russia's weakness-masking aggression was yet another disturbing parallel to the buildup to World War I.
"Russia seems doomed to continue its decline '-- an outcome that should be no cause for celebration in the West," Nye wrote in a recent column. "States in decline '-- think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914 '-- tend to become less risk-averse and thus much more dangerous."
III. The drift: How the unthinkable became possibleThe Cold War was a dangerous game, but it was a game in which everyone knew and agreed upon the stakes and the rules. That is not the case today.
The Western side believes it is playing a game where the rules are clear enough, the stakes relatively modest, and the competition easily winnable. The Russian side, however, sees a game where the rules can be rewritten on the fly, even the definition of war itself altered. For Russia, fearing a threat from the West it sees as imminent and existential, the stakes are unimaginably high, justifying virtually any action or gamble if it could deter defeat and, perhaps, lead to victory.
Separately, the ever-paranoid Kremlin believes that the West is playing the same game in Ukraine. Western support for Ukraine's government and efforts to broker a ceasefire to the war there, Moscow believes, are really a plot to encircle Russia with hostile puppet states and to rob Russia of its rightful sphere of influence.
Repeated Russian warnings that it would go to war to defend its perceived interests in Ukraine, potentially even nuclear war, are dismissed in most Western capitals as bluffing, mere rhetoric. Western leaders view these threats through Western eyes, in which impoverished Ukraine would never be worth risking a major war. In Russian eyes, Ukraine looks much more important: an extension of Russian heritage that is sacrosanct and, as the final remaining component of the empire, a strategic loss that would unacceptably weaken Russian strength and thus Russian security.
Both side are gambling and guessing in the absence of a clear understanding of what the other side truly intends, how it will act, what will and will not trigger the invisible triplines that would send us careening into war.
Today's tensions bear far more similarity to the period before World War I
During the Cold War, the comparably matched Western and Soviet blocs prepared for war but also made sure that war never came. They locked Europe in a tense but stable balance of power; that balance is gone. They set clear red lines and vowed to defend them at all costs. Today, those red lines are murky and ill-defined. Neither side is sure where they lie or what really happens if they are crossed. No one can say for sure what would trigger war.
That is why, analysts will tell you, today's tensions bear far more similarity to the period before World War I: an unstable power balance, belligerence over peripheral conflicts, entangling military commitments, disputes over the future of the European order, and dangerous uncertainty about what actions will and will not force the other party into conflict.
Today's Russia, once more the strongest nation in Europe and yet weaker than its collective enemies, calls to mind the turn-of-the-century German Empire, which Henry Kissinger described as "too big for Europe, but too small for the world." Now, as then, a rising power, propelled by nationalism, is seeking to revise the European order. Now, as then, it believes that through superior cunning, and perhaps even by proving its might, it can force a larger role for itself. Now, as then, the drift toward war is gradual and easy to miss '-- which is exactly what makes it so dangerous.
But there is one way in which today's dangers are less like those before World War I, and more similar to those of the Cold War: the apocalyptic logic of nuclear weapons. Mutual suspicion, fear of an existential threat, armies parked across borders from one another, and hair-trigger nuclear weapons all make any small skirmish a potential armageddon.
In some ways, that logic has grown even more dangerous. Russia, hoping to compensate for its conventional military forces' relative weakness, has dramatically relaxed its rules for using nuclear weapons. Whereas Soviet leaders saw their nuclear weapons as pure deterrents, something that existed precisely so they would never be used, Putin's view appears to be radically different.
Russia's official nuclear doctrine calls on the country to launch a battlefield nuclear strike in case of a conventional war that could pose an existential threat. These are more than just words: Moscow has repeatedly signaled its willingness and preparations to use nuclear weapons even in a more limited war.
This is a terrifyingly low bar for nuclear weapons use, particularly given that any war would likely occur along Russia's borders and thus not far from Moscow. And it suggests Putin has adopted an idea that Cold War leaders considered unthinkable: that a "limited" nuclear war, of small warheads dropped on the battlefield, could be not only survivable but winnable.
"It's not just a difference in rhetoric. It's a whole different world," Bruce G. Blair, a nuclear weapons scholar at Princeton, told the Wall Street Journal. He called Putin's decisions more dangerous than those of any Soviet leader since 1962. "There's a low nuclear threshold now that didn't exist during the Cold War."
Nuclear theory is complex and disputable; maybe Putin is right. But many theorists would say he is wrong, that the logic of nuclear warfare means a "limited" nuclear strike is in fact likely to trigger a larger nuclear war '-- a doomsday scenario in which major American, Russian, and European cities would be targets for attacks many times more powerful than the bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Even if a nuclear war did somehow remain limited and contained, recent studies suggest that environmental and atmospheric damage would cause a "decade of winter" and mass crop die-outs that could kill up to 1 billion people in a global famine.
IV. How it would happen: The Baltics scenarioIn September of last year, President Obama traveled to Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million people that most Americans have never heard of, andpledgedthat the United States would if necessary go to war with Russia to defend it.
Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania '-- together known as the Baltic states '-- are at the far edge of Eastern Europe, along Russia's border. They were formerly part of the Soviet Union. And they are where many Western analysts fear World War III is likeliest to start.
These small countries are "the most likely front line of any future crisis," according to Stephen Saideman, an international relations professor at Carleton University. Allison and Simes, in their essay warning of war, called the Baltics "the Achilles' heel of the NATO alliance."
A full quarter of Estonia's population is ethnically Russian. Clustered on the border with Russia, this minority is served by the same Russian state media that helped stir up separatist violence among Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.
But unlike Ukraine, the Baltic states are all members of NATO, whose charter states that an attack on one member is an attack on them all. Whereas a Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted Western sanctions, a Russian invasion of Estonia would legally obligate the US and most of Europe to declare war on Moscow.
"We'll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again," Obama pledged in his September speech in Estonia.
President Obama pledges the US will defend Estonia while in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)
Less than 48 hours after Obama's address, Russian agents blanketed an Estonia-Russia border crossing with tear gas, stormed across, and kidnapped an Estonian state security officer, Eston Kohver, who specialized in counterintelligence. Kohver has been held illegally in a Russian prison for nine months now.
It was something like an act of geopolitical trolling: aggressive enough to assert Russian dominion over Estonia, but not so aggressive as to be considered a formal act of war that would trigger a Western counterattack. And it was one of several signs that Putin's Russia is asserting a right to meddle in these former Soviet territories.
The Russian military has already begun pressing the Baltic states. Russian warships were spotted in Latvian waters 40 times in 2014. Russian military flights over the Baltics are now routine, often with the planes switching off their transponders, which makes them harder to spot and increases the chances of an accident. Military activity in the region had reached Cold War levels.
NATO, fearing the worst, is increasing military exercises in the Baltics. The US is installing heavy equipment. And in February, the US military paraded through the Russian-majority Estonian city of Narva, a few hundred yards from Russia's borders.
"Without any intention to create the big conflict, it might happen. One step, another step, and reciprocity can become very dangerous."
It's a textbook example of what political scientists call the security dilemma: Each side sees its actions as defensive and the other side's as offensive. Each responds to the other's perceived provocations by escalating further, a self-reinforcing cycle that can all too easily lead to war. It is considered, for example, a major contributor to the outbreak of World War I. That it is entirely foreseeable does little to reduce the risk.
Even if Russia in fact has no designs on the Baltics, its bluffing and posturing has already created the conditions for an unwanted war. In early April, for example, a Russian fighter jet crossed into the Baltic Sea and "buzzed" a US military plane, missing it by only 20 feet. It was one of several recent near-misses that, according to a think tank called the European Leadership Institute, have had a "high probability of causing casualties or a direct military confrontation between Russia and Western states."
Meanwhile, Russia has been flying its nuclear-capable strategic bombers along NATO airspace, often with the planes' transponders switched off, making an accident or misperception more likely. As if that weren't dangerous enough, the bombers '-- hulking, decades-old Tupolev Tu-95 models '-- have become prone to accidents such as engine fires. What if a Tu-95 went down unexpectedly, say, off the coast of Norway? What if it was carrying nuclear warheads, or it went down during a moment of high tension? Such incidents can lead to misunderstandings, and such misunderstandings can lead to war.
By late April, when NATO officials gathered at the security conference in Estonia's capital of Tallinn, the severity of the danger had become unmistakable. As Ahmed Rashid wrote from the conference:
Baltic presidents and NATO officials were unusually blunt in describing the extent to which the security architecture in Eastern Europe has collapsed, how Russia poses the gravest threat to peace since World War II, and how the conflict in Ukraine and the loss of the Crimea has left the Baltic states on the front line of an increasingly hostile standoff. Amid these tensions, the thought of a plane crash leading to war seems scarily plausible.
It is not just Western officials who fear such an incident could spark war. Fyodor Lukyanov, the prominent Russian analyst who is considered close to the government, worried that the NATO military exercises in the Baltics meant to deter Russia were also contributing to the problem.
"Russia reacts to that because Russia perceives it as a hostile approach to the Russian border," he explained. "And it's a vicious circle."
It is easy to imagine, Lukyanov said, any number of ways that the powder keg could explode.
"Without any intention to create the big conflict, it might happen," he said. "One step, another step, and reciprocity can become very dangerous. Say a Russian aircraft comes very close to an area that NATO believes is prohibited while Russia believes it's not prohibited, and then British aircraft respond. It might be manageable, and in most cases of course it will be, but who knows."
V. How it would happen: A plot to break NATOIt was Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst and frequent Kremlin critic, who first suggested the theory, last August, that Putin's plan for the Baltics was more sophisticated, and more calculated, than anybody realized.
Piontkovsky was trying to answer a question that Western analysts and policymakers had been puzzling over since Russian provocations began in the Baltics last fall: What does Putin want? Unlike in Ukraine, with which Russia has a long shared history, there is little demand among the Russian public for intervention in the Baltic states. They are of modest strategic value. And the risks of Russia's aggression there are potentially catastrophic. Why bother?
His is a theory that is now taken much more seriously by Western policymakers '-- and appears more plausible all the time.
Amanda Taub
Andrei Piontkovsky at his home in Moscow.
"This is his most cherished objective, to destroy NATO. The risk is big, yes? But the prize is enormous."
Putin hopes to spark a conflict in the Baltics, Piontkovsky wrote, so as to force Western European leaders into an impossible choice: Fulfill their NATO obligation to defend the Baltics and counterattack, even if it means fighting World War III over a tiny post-Soviet republic most Europeans couldn't care less about '-- or do nothing.
The implications of doing nothing, Piontkovsky pointed out, would extend far beyond the Baltics. It would lay bare NATO's mutual defense provision as a lie, effectively dissolving the military alliance, ending a quarter-century of Europe's security unification under Western leadership, and leaving Eastern Europe once more vulnerable to Russian domination. In this way, Putin could do what Soviet leaders never came close to: defeat NATO.
"This is his most cherished objective," Piontkovsky told me when we talked in his kitchen, in a leafy Moscow neighborhood across the river from Gorky Park. "It's an enormous temptation. He may retreat at any stage, but the temptation is enormous, to destroy NATO. ... The risk is big, yes? But the prize is enormous."
"To destroy NATO, to demonstrate that Article V does not work, the Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia are the best place for this," he said. "It's happening now, every day. Intrusions into the airspace, psychological pressure, the propaganda on TV."
He suggested that Putin, rather than rolling Russian tanks across the border, would perhaps seed unmarked Russian special forces into, say, the Russian-majority city of Narva in Estonia, where they would organize localized violence or a phony independence referendum.
A handful of such unacknowledged forces, whom Putin referred to as "little green men" after they appeared in Crimea, would perhaps be dressed as local volunteers or a far-right gang; they might be joined by vigilantes, as they were in eastern Ukraine. They would almost certainly be aided by a wave of Russian propaganda, making it harder for outsiders to differentiate unmarked Russian troops from civilian volunteers, to determine who was fighting where and had started what.
Such an intervention would force NATO into an impossible choice: Are you really going to open fire on some hoodlums stirring up trouble in Estonia, knowing they might actually be unmarked Russian troops? Would you risk the first major European war since 1945, all to eject some unmarked Russian troops from the Estonian town of Narva?
Putin, Piontkovsky believes, is gambling that the answer is no. That NATO would not intervene, thus effectively abandoning its commitment to defend its Eastern European member states.
Piontkovsky's scenario, once considered extreme, is now widely seen by Western security experts and policymakers as plausible. At the end of 2014, the military intelligence service of Denmark, a member of NATO, issued a formal paper warning of precisely that:
Russia may attempt to test NATO's cohesion by engaging in military intimidation of the Baltic countries, for instance with a threatening military build-up close to the borders of these countries and simultaneous attempts of political pressure, destabilization and possibly infiltration. Russia could launch such an intimidation campaign in connection with a serious crisis in the post-Soviet space or another international crisis in which Russia confronts the United States and NATO.
"The concern is that what Putin wants to do is break NATO, and the best way to do that would be to poach on the Baltics," Saideman, the political scientist, told me on a call from a European security conference where he said the scenario was being taken very seriously.
"And if Germany doesn't respond to incursions in the Baltics, if France doesn't respond and it's just an American operation, then it will lead to the breaking of NATO, is the theory," he said. "That's the biggest concern."
Saideman described a variation on this scenario that I heard from others as well: that Putin might attempt to seize some small sliver of the Baltics quickly and bloodlessly. This would make it politically easier for Western European leaders to do nothing '-- how to rally your nation to war if hardly anyone has even been killed? '-- and harder to counterattack, knowing it would require a full-scale invasion.
"I think they're very serious about this," Saideman said. "There's a real concern."
VI. How it would happen: The fog of hybrid war
A Ukrainian soldier stands watch near the front lines with pro-Russian separatist rebels. (MANU BRABO/AFP/Getty)
In early 2015, Pew pollstersasked citizensof several NATO states the exact question that analysts and policymakers from Washington to Moscow are gaming out: "If Russia got into a serious military conflict with one of its neighboring countries that is our NATO ally, do you think our country should or should not use military force to defend that country?"
The numbers from Western Europe were alarming: Among Germans, only 38 percent said yes; 58 percent said no. If it were up to German voters '-- and to at least some extent, it is '-- NATO would effectively surrender the Baltics to Russia in a conflict.
This poll is even worse than it looks. It assumes that Russia would launch an overt military invasion of the Baltics. What would actually happen is something far murkier, and far more likely to leverage European hesitation: the playbook from Ukraine, where Russia deployed its newly developed concepts of postmodern "hybrid war," designed to blur the distinction between war and not-war, to make it as difficult as possible to differentiate grassroots unrest or vigilante cyberattacks from Russian military aggression.
Putin may already be laying the groundwork.
In March of 2014, shortly after Russia had annexed Crimea, Putin gave a speech there pledging to protect Russians even outside of Russia, which many took as a gesture to the substantial Russian minorities in the Baltics.
"That kind of misperception situation is definitely possible, and that's how wars start"
Then, in October, Putin warned that "open manifestations of neo-Nazism" had "become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states" '-- repeating the language that he and Russian state media had earlier used to frighten Russian speakers in Ukraine into taking up arms.
This April, several Russian outlets issued spurious reports that Latvia was planning to forcibly relocate ethnic Russians into Nazi-style ghettos '-- an echo of similar scaremongering Russian propaganda broadcast in the runup in Ukraine.
Martin Hurt, a former senior official of the country's defense ministry, warned that his country's ethnic Russian minority could be "receptive to Kremlin disinformation." Moscow, he said, could generate unrest "as a pretext to use military force against the Baltic states."
In early 2007, Estonia's parliament voted to relocate a Soviet-era military statue, the Bronze Soldier, that had become a cultural symbol and annual rallying point for the country's ethnic Russians. In response, Russian politicians and state media accused the Estonian government of fascism and Nazi-style discrimination against ethnic Russians; they issued false reports claiming ethnic Russians were being tortured and murdered. Protests broke out and escalated into riots and mass looting. One person was killed in the violence, and the next day hackers took many of the country's major institutions offline.
Russia could do it again, only this time gradually escalating further toward a Ukraine-style conflict. NATO is just not built to deal with such a crisis. Its mutual defense pledge, after all, rests on the assumption that war is a black-and-white concept, that a country is either at war or not at war. Its charter is from a time when war was very different than it is today, with its many shades of gray.
Russia can exploit this flaw by introducing low-level violence that more hawkish NATO members would consider grounds for war but that war-averse Western European states might not see that way. Disagreement among NATO's member states would be guaranteed as they hesitated over where to declare a moment when Russia had crossed the line into war.
Meanwhile, Russian state media, which has shown real influence in Western Europe, would unleash a flurry of propaganda to confuse the issue, make it harder to pin blame on Moscow for the violence, and gin up skepticism of any American calls for war.
Germany, which is widely considered the deciding vote on whether Europe would go to war, would be particularly resistant to going to war. The legacy of World War II and the ideology of pacifism and compromise make even the idea of declaring war on Russia unthinkable. German leaders would come under intense political pressure to, if not reject the call to arms, then at least delay and negotiate '-- a de facto rejection of NATO's collective self-defense.
In such a scenario, it is disturbingly easy to imagine how NATO's European member states could split over whether Russia had even crossed their red line for war, much less whether to respond. Under a fog of confusion and doubt, Russia could gradually escalate until a Ukraine-style conflict in the Baltics was foregone, until it had marched far across NATO's red line, exposing that red line as meaningless.
But the greatest danger of all is if Putin's plan were to stumble: By overreaching, by underestimating Western resolve to defend the Baltics, or by starting something that escalates beyond his control, it could all too easily lead to full-blown war.
"That kind of misperception situation is definitely possible, and that's how wars start," Saideman said, going on to compare Europe today with 1914, just before World War I. "The thing that makes war most thinkable is when other people don't think it's thinkable."
In 1963, a few months after the Cuban missile crisis had almost brought the US and Soviet Union to blows, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech drawing on the lessons of the world's brush with nuclear war:
"Above all, while defending our vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war."
That is the choice that Putin may well force upon NATO.
VII. How it would happen: The Ukraine scenarioEvgeny Buzhinsky has spent much of his professional life with the threat of global nuclear destruction hanging over his head. A lifelong Russian military officer, he earned his PhD in military sciences in 1982, just as the Cold War entered one of its most dangerous periods, and rose to the General Staff, where he remained for years after the Soviet Union's collapse, through periods of calm and of tension.
He retired in 2009 as a lieutenant general and remains active in Russian national security circles, now heading the PIR Center, a well-respected Russian think tank that focuses on military, national security, and arms control issues.
Buzhinsky, when I met him in Moscow, had a warning for me. Those in the West who worried about the possibility of a major war breaking out in the Baltics were missing the real threat: Ukraine. The US, he feared, does not appreciate how far Russia is willing to go to avoid a defeat in Ukraine, and this miscalculation could pull them into conflict.
"Ukraine, for Russia, is a red line," he warned. "And especially a Ukraine that is hostile to Russia is a definite red line. But the US administration decided that it's not."
This was a concern I heard more than once in Russia. When Fyodor Lukyanov, the Moscow foreign policy insider, warned that Russian foreign policy officials saw a major war as increasingly possible, and I asked him how they thought it would happen, he cited Ukraine.
"For example, massive military help to Ukraine from the United States '-- it could start as a proxy war, and then ..." he trailed off
Lukyanov worried that the US does not understand Russia's sense of ownership over Ukraine, the lengths it would go to protect its interests there. "It's seen by many people as something that's actually a part of our country, or if not part of our country then a country that's absolutely essential to Russia's security," he said.
Buzhinsky is one of those people. Like Lukyanov and other Russian analysts, he worried that the United States had wrongly concluded that Putin would ultimately acquiesce if he faced likely defeat in Ukraine. The Americans, he said, were dangerously mistaken.
Gregarious, bear-sized, and clearly accustomed to dealing with Westerners from overseeing arms control treaties during much of the 1990s, Buzhinsky sipped a grapefruit juice when we met in downtown Moscow.
"A year ago, I was absolutely convinced Russia would never intervene militarily," he said about the possibility of a full, overt Russian invasion of Ukraine. "Now I'm not so sure."
The view of the Russian government, he said, was that it could never allow the defeat of the pro-Russia separatist rebels in the eastern Ukraine region sometimes called Donbas. (In August, when those rebels appeared on the verge of defeat, Russia provided them with artillery support and covertly sent troops to fight alongside them, none of which Moscow has acknowledged.)
If Ukrainian forces were about to overrun the separatist rebels, Buzhinsky said, he believed that Russia would respond not just with an overt invasion, but by marching to Ukraine's capital of Kiev.
"A massive offensive on the Ukrainian side" against the rebels, he said, would lead Russia to openly enter the war. "A war with Russia in Ukraine '-- if Russia starts a war, it never stops until it takes the capital."
When I asked Buzhinsky if he really believed Putin would launch a full Russian invasion of Kiev in response to a Ukrainian effort to retake Donbas, he answered, "Yes, definitely. He said twice publicly, 'I won't let it happen.' As he is a man of his word, I am sure he will."
Such a scenario, he said, could lead to a larger conflict no one wants. The Americans believe that "Russia will never dare, Putin will never dare, to interfere," leaving the US unprepared in case it should happen. "And then I could not predict the reaction of the United States and NATO."
Buzhinsky outlined another way he feared Ukraine could lead to a larger war. If the US provided sophisticated military equipment to Ukraine that required putting American trainers or operators near the front lines, and one of them was killed, he believed the US might feel compelled to intervene outright in Ukraine.
Would Russia really risk a major war over Ukraine, one of Europe's poorest countries?
For months, Moscow has been suggesting that Western military involvement in Ukraine, even something as mild as providing the Ukrainian military with certain arms, would be taken as an act of war against Russia. Like Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons, this has been shrugged off as bluster, mere rhetoric, just for scoring domestic political points.
What Buzhinsky was trying to underline to me was that the threats are real '-- that Russia might consider its interests in Ukraine so vital that it would risk or even fight a war to protect them. He was not alone in saying this '-- I heard it from many others in Moscow, including Russian analysts who are critical of their country's Ukraine policy as too aggressive.
Buzhinsky explained that Russia had set this as a red line out of the fear that a Ukrainian reconquest of eastern Ukraine would lead to "the physical extermination of the people of Donbas," many of whom are Russian speakers with cultural links to Russia. Russian state media has drilled this fear into the peoples of Ukraine and Russia for a year now. It does not have to be true to serve as casus belli; Moscow deployed a similar justification for its annexation of Crimea.
"You don't get to walk this back"
The connection to Ukraine is often expressed by everyday Russians as an issue of cultural heritage; Kievan Rus, a medieval Slavic federation with its capital in the present-day Ukrainian capital of Kiev, is something like Russia's predecessor state.
But this is likely about more than nationalism or kinship with Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Moscow is notorious for its conviction that the US is bent on Russia's destruction, or at least its subjugation. It is paranoid and painfully aware of its isolation and its comparative weakness. A hostile and pro-Western Ukraine, Putin may have concluded, would pose an existential threat by further weakening Russia beyond what it can afford.
Allison and Simes, in their essay on the risk of war, described Ukraine as a potential ground zero for wider conflict because of this.
"Russia's establishment sentiment holds that the country can never be secure if Ukraine joins NATO or becomes a part of a hostile Euro-Atlantic community," they wrote. "From [Moscow's] perspective, this makes Ukraine's non-adversarial status a non-negotiable demand for any Russia powerful enough to defend its national-security interests."
It is practically a clich(C) in international relations: "Russia without Ukraine is a country, Russia with Ukraine is an empire." Putin's Russia appears to believe that reclaiming great-power status is the only way it can guarantee security against a hostile West.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert, traced this Russian government obsession with Ukraine back to Putin's political weakness at home, as well as Russia's sense of military insecurity against a hostile and overwhelmingly powerful West.
"I suspect that the desire to unite the Russian world and to subjugate the non-Russian neighbors is driven by a fundamental sense of insecurity," Lewis said in a much-circulated September podcast on Putin's nuclear threats. "That, like the Soviet leadership, he has to try very hard to stay in power, and so there's a tendency as his legitimacy declines to try to blame outside forces. And the problem is that when you try to look at the world in that conspiratorial way, there's always a justification for subjugating the next set of neighbors."
This means that should the US or other Western countries become sufficiently involved in Ukraine that Russia cannot maintain control of the conflict, then Russia may feel this puts it at such existential threat that it has no choice but to escalate in response. Even at the risk of war.
Russia knows it would lose a full-blown war with NATO, of course, but it has other options. An official with the Russian Defense Ministry's public advisory board told the Moscow Times that should Western countries arm Ukraine's military, it would respond by escalating in Ukraine itself as well as "asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts."
Russian asymmetrical acts '-- cyberattacks, propaganda operations meant to create panic, military flights, even little green men '-- are all effective precisely because they introduce uncertainty and risk.
If that sounds dangerous, it is. American and NATO red lines for what acts of "asymmetry" would and would not trigger war are unclear and poorly defined.
Russia could easily cross such a line without meaning to, or could create enough confusion that the US believes it or its allies are under a severe enough threat to demand retaliation.
"You don't get to walk this back," Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Kennan Institute, warned in comments to the New York Times about what could happen if the US armed Ukraine's military, as Congress is pushing Obama to do.
"Once we have done this we become a belligerent party in a proxy war with Russia, the only country on Earth that can destroy the United States," Rojansky said. "That's why this is a big deal."
VIII. The nuclear dangers: The red line is closer than you thinkThis August, as the Russian military launched its undeclared and unofficial invasion of eastern Ukraine to defend separatist rebels there against defeat, Putin attended an annual youth conference at Lake Seliger, just north of Moscow. During a Q&A session, a teaching student asked an odd question about the "cyclical" nature of history and concerns that Russia could be "drawn into a new, open global conflict."
Putin, in his answer, did something that the leaders of major nuclear powers generally avoid doing '-- he rattled the nuclear saber a bit:
Let me remind you that Russia is one of the world's biggest nuclear powers. These are not just words '-- this is the reality. What's more, we are strengthening our nuclear deterrent capability and developing our armed forces. They have become more compact and effective and are becoming more modern in terms of the weapons at their disposal.
There is a certain fear in Russia, never far from the surface, that the only thing preventing the West from realizing its dream of destroying or subjugating Russia is its nuclear arsenal. (Three months later, Putin warned that the West wanted to tame the Russian bear so as to "tear out his fangs and his claws," which he explained meant its nuclear weapons.)
"There is a widespread belief that the only guarantee for Russian security, if not sovereignty and existence, is the nuclear deterrent," Lukyanov, the Russian foreign policy expert, explained. "After the Yugoslavia wars, Iraq War, Libyan intervention, it's not an argument anymore, it's conventional wisdom: 'If Russia were not a nuclear superpower, the regime change of an Iraqi or Libyan style would be inevitable here. The Americans are so unhappy with the Russian regime, they would do it. Praise God, we have a nuclear arsenal, and that makes us untouchable.'"
But Russia faced a problem: Its conventional military forces are now so much weaker than NATO's, and its capital city so close to NATO's forces in the Baltics, that it feared NATO tank divisions could push all the way to Moscow and quickly win a war without ever using a nuclear weapon. Both the US and Russia had pledged to use nuclear weapons only to deter one another from nuclear attacks. This kept the Cold War cold. But because the US would not need its ICBMs to win a war, that deterrence is no longer enough to keep Russia safe.
In response, Russia has been gradually lowering its bar for when it would use nuclear weapons, and in the process upending the decades-old logic of mutually assured destruction, adding tremendous nuclear danger to any conflict in Europe. The possibility that a limited or unintended skirmish could spiral into nuclear war is higher than ever.
Russia's nuclear doctrine, a formal document the Kremlin publishes every few years outlining when it will and will not use nuclear weapons, declares that the Russian military can launch nuclear weapons not just in the case of a nuclear attack, but in case of a conventional military attack that poses an existential threat. In other words, if Russia believes that American tanks could be bound for the Kremlin, it has declared it may respond by dropping nuclear bombs.
A Moscow woman watches the March 2015 state media documentary on Russia's Crimea annexation in which Putin first revealed he had considered preparing nuclear forces. (DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty)
The danger that this adds to any possible confrontation, particularly along the Baltic states, is difficult to overstate. If an accident or miscalculation were to lead to a border skirmish, all it would take is for the Kremlin to misperceive the fighting as the beginning of an assault toward Moscow and its own doctrine would call for using nuclear weapons. Indeed, it would be the only way to avoid total defeat.
There is another layer of danger and uncertainty to this: It is not clear what Russia would consider a conventional threat worthy of a nuclear response. A few months after he'd annexed Crimea, Putin revealed that during Russia's undeclared invasion of the territory he had considered putting his country's nuclear forces on alert; his government has signaled it would consider using nuclear force to defend Crimea from an attack, something Russian analysts told me was not just bluster.
The United States, of course, has no intention of militarily retaking Crimea, despite surprisingly common fears to the contrary in Russia. But Russian paranoia about such a threat, and a possible willingness to use nuclear weapons to avert it, adds more danger to the already dangerous war in eastern Ukraine and the fears that greater Russian or Western involvement there could spark a broader conflict.
And the Crimea revelation raises a disconcerting question: Where exactly does Moscow place the line for a threat severe enough to use nuclear weapons? Its doctrine says they should be used only against an existential threat, but an attack on Crimea would be far from existentially dangerous. We can only guess where the real red line lays, and hope not to cross it by mistake.
IX. The nuclear dangers: How Putin is pushing us back to the brinkThere is a specific moment that arms control experts often cite to highlight the dangers of nuclear weapons, how they kept the world poised, for years at a time, mere minutes away from nuclear devastation. That moment was September 26, 1983.
That evening, a Russian lieutenant colonel named Stanislav Petrov settled in for his shift overseeing the Soviet Union's missile attack early warning system. Petrov had a top-secret network of satellites, all pointed squarely at the United States and its arsenal of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, which pointed back at him.
The US and Soviet Union were ramping up development of ICBMs, which could circle the globe in 30 minutes and reduce an enemy city to ash. Both sides were driven by fear that the other could one day gain the ability to launch a preemptive nuclear strike so devastating and so fast that it would start and win the war within hours. Each sought to develop ever more sensitive warning systems, and ever more rapid mechanisms for retaliation, to deter the threat.
Petrov ran one such warning system. If he caught an American attack as soon as it crossed his sensors, it would give the Soviet leadership about 20 minutes of warning time. That was their window to determine how to respond. The space for mistakes was effectively zero.
Five hours into Petrov's shift that night, something he had never encountered in his 11-year career happened: The system went into full alarm. The word "LAUNCH" displayed in large red letters. The screen announced a "high reliability" of an American ICBM barreling toward the Soviet Union.
Petrov had to make a decision: Would he report an incoming American strike? If he did, Soviet nuclear doctrine called for a full nuclear retaliation; there would be no time to double-check the warning system, much less seek negotiations with the US. If he didn't, and he was wrong, he would have left his country defenseless, an act tantamount to treason.
His gut instinct told him the warning was in error, but when he flipped through the incoming imagery and data and he could reach no hard conclusion from it. After a few moments, he called his superiors and stated categorically that it was a false alarm. There was, he insisted, no attack.
Petrov waited in agony for 23 minutes '-- the missile's estimated time to target '-- before he knew for sure that he'd been right. Only a few people were aware of it at the time, but thanks to Petrov, the world had only barely avoided World War III and, potentially, total nuclear annihilation.
The US and Soviet Union, shaken by this and other near-misses, spent the next few years stepping back from the brink. They decommissioned a large number of nuclear warheads and signed treaties to limit their deployment.
One of their most important measures was a 1987 agreement called the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which saw both sides conclude that the medium-range, land-based nuclear missiles they'd stuffed across Europe were simply too dangerous and destabilizing to be allowed. Because the missiles could reach Moscow or Berlin or London at lightening speeds, they shortened the "response time" to any crisis '-- the window in which a Soviet or Western leader would have to decide whether the country was under attack before such an attack would hit '-- to just a few minutes. They made the danger of an unintended escalation, or of an error like the that one Petrov only barely prevented, far greater.
The risk they posed was deemed, in the 1987 INF Treaty, unacceptable to the world. And the weapons were removed.
Putin has taken several steps to push Europe back toward the nuclear brink, to the logic of nuclear escalation and hair-trigger weapons that made the early 1980s, by many accounts, the most dangerous time in human history. Perhaps most drastically, he appears to have undone the 1987 INF Treaty, reintroducing the long-banned nuclear weapons.
In March, Russia announced it would place nuclear-capable bombers and medium-range, nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad '-- only an hour, by commercial airliner, from Berlin. Meanwhile, it has been testing medium-range, land-based missiles. The missiles, to the alarm of the United States, appear to violate the INF Treaty.
A Russian Iskander missile launch system in Siberia. (EVGENY STETSKO/AFP/Getty)
This is far from Putin's only nuclear escalation. He is developing more nuclear weapons, and calling frequent attention to them, as apparent cover for his aggression and adventurism in Europe. There are suspicions, for example, that Russia may have deployed nuclear-armed submarines off of the US Eastern Seaboard.
What makes this so dangerous is that Putin appears to believe, as the scholar Edward Lucas outlined in a recent report for the Center for European Policy Analysis, that he has a greater willingness than NATO to use nuclear weapons, and thus that his superior will allows him to bully the otherwise stronger Western powers with games of nuclear chicken.
This is a substantial, and indeed terrifying, break from Cold War''era nuclear thinking, in which both sides rightly feared nuclear brinksmanship as too dangerous to contemplate and used their weapons primarily to deter one another.
"Russia's nuclear saber-rattling is unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a May speech in Washington.
Putin is acting out of an apparent belief that increasing the nuclear threat to Europe, and as a result to his own country, is ultimately good for Russia and worth the risks. It is a gamble with the lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans, and perhaps many beyond, at stake.
X. The nuclear dangers: An atomic gun to the world's headThe view among many Western analysts is that the nuclear-capable missiles are meant as a gun against the heads of the Americans and the Europeans: You better not mess with us Russians, or who knows what we'll do.
Putin himself endorsed this view in a 2014 speech in Sochi, where he approvingly cited Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's 1960 address to the United Nations, when he hammered his shoe on the podium. "The United States and NATO thought, 'This Nikita is best left alone, he might just go and fire a missile. We better show some respect for them,'" Putin said.
This sort of a nuclear threat could be a perfect way for Putin to attempt the sort of NATO-splitting scenario described by analysts like Piontkovsky. What if, Lucas asked as an example in his report, Putin found some excuse to declare a Russian "military exclusion zone" in the Baltic Sea, thus physically cutting off the Baltic states from the rest of NATO?
"Would America really risk a nuclear standoff with Russia over a gas pipeline?" Lucas asked. "If it would not, NATO is over. The nuclear bluff that sustained the Western alliance through all the decades of the Cold War would have been called at last."
Putin's love of brinksmanship, while perhaps born of Russia's weakness, is also deeply worrying for what it says about the leader's willingness and even eagerness to take on huge geopolitical risk.
"Either he has a very weird theory of nuclear weapons, or he just doesn't take the West seriously and is trying to cow us with whatever threat he can make," Saideman, the political scientist, said, going on to draw yet another of the many parallels analysts have drawn to the onset of World War I.
"There are two visions of international relations: One is that threats work, and one is that threats don't, where they cause counter-balancing," Saideman continued. "This was the theory of the [German] Kaiser before World War I: the more threatening you are, the more people will submit to your will. That might be Putin's logic, that he's just going to threaten and threaten and hope that NATO bends. But the long run of international relations suggests that it goes the other way, where the more threatening you are the more you produce balancing."
In other words, Putin is hoping to compensate for his weakness by expressing his willingness to go further, and to raise the stakes higher, than the more powerful Western nations. But his actions are premised on a flawed understanding of how the world works. In fact, he is virtually forcing the West to respond in kind, raising not just the risk of a possible war, but the ease with which such a war would go nuclear.
XI. The nuclear dangers: Does Putin believe nuclear war can be "won"?
(Dmitri Dukhanin/Kommersant via Getty)
There is a corollary in Russia's nuclear doctrine, a way in which the Russians believe they have solved the problem of Western military superiority, that is so foolhardy, so dangerous, that it is difficult to believe they really mean it. And yet, there is every indication that they do.
That corollary is Russia's embrace of what it calls a "de-escalation" nuclear strike. Go back to the scenario spelled out in Russia's military doctrine: a conventional military conflict that poses an existential threat to the country. The doctrine calls for Russia to respond with a nuclear strike. But imagine you're a Russian leader: How do you drop a nuclear bomb on NATO's troops without forcing the US to respond with a nuclear strike in kind, setting off a tit-for-tat cycle of escalation that would end in total nuclear war and global devastation?
Russia's answer, in the case of such a conflict, is to drop a single nuclear weapon '-- one from the family of smaller, battlefield-use nukes known as "tactical" weapons, rather than from the larger, city-destroying "strategic" nuclear weapons. The idea is that such a strike would signal Russia's willingness to use nuclear weapons, and would force the enemy to immediately end the fight rather than risk further nuclear destruction.
Nikolai Sokov, a nuclear weapons expert and former official in the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, explained in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that this is not a far-fetched option of last resort; it has become central to Russian war planning.
"Such a threat is envisioned as deterring the United States and its allies from involvement in conflicts in which Russia has an important stake, and in this sense is essentially defensive," Sokov wrote. "Yet, to be effective, such a threat also must be credible. To that end, all large-scale military exercises that Russia conducted beginning in 2000 featured simulations of limited nuclear strikes."
Buzhinsky, the recently retired member of Russia's General Staff, confirmed in our meeting that this is something the military sees as a viable option. "If Russia is heavily attacked conventionally, yes, of course, as it's written in the doctrine, there may be limited use of nonstrategic nuclear weapons," he said. "To show intention, as a de-escalating factor."
It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous idea in the world of military planning today than of a "limited" nuclear war. Scholars have debated for decades, and still debate today, whether the concept of limited nuclear war is realistic, or whether such a conflict would inevitably spiral into total nuclear war. Put another way, no one knows for sure whether Russia's military planners have sown the seeds for global nuclear destruction.
Seen from the Russian side, it is at least possible to imagine how this doctrine might make sense: The threat of NATO's conventional forces is widely seen as both overwhelming and imminent, making such an extreme step worth considering. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia's strategic culture has increasingly emphasized its nuclear arsenal, the one remaining legacy of its fearsome great-power status. It is a sort of Russian cult of the nuclear weapon, or even a certain strategic fetish. With nukes so central to Russian strategic thinking, it is little wonder Moscow sees them as the solution to its greatest strategic problem.
But when you consider this doctrine from the American side, you begin to see what makes it dangerous, even insane. Imagine that you are an American leader and your forces in Eastern Europe have somehow been drawn into conflict with the Russians. Perhaps, as artillery and planes from within Russia hammer your forces, you counterattack on Russian soil to take them out. The Kremlin, fearing the start of an invasion to take Moscow, drops a tactical nuclear warhead on your forces in Estonia or Latvia. You have no idea whether more Russian nuclear strikes are coming, either on the battlefield, more widely on Europe, or even against Washington or New York. Do you respond with an in-kind tactical nuclear strike, opening the risk of gradual escalation to total nuclear war? Do you, fearing the worst, move to take out the Russian leadership before they can order more attacks? Or do you announce a unilateral ceasefire, drawing your forces back in humiliation, rewarding Russia with a victory?
It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous idea than "limited" nuclear war
Russia's nuclear doctrine is betting that any American leader '-- not to mention the leaders of nuclear-armed France and the UK '-- would choose the last of those three options. If that prediction turned out to be wrong, it would mean nuclear war, perhaps global nuclear war and thus annihilation. This doctrine, in other words, is gambling with the fate of the world.
Such a scenario, to be clear, is remote, as are all of the nuclear scenarios. It would require a cascading series of events, and for neither side to pull back in time as those events built. The odds of this happening are quite low. But they are greater than zero, and growing. Such a scenario is within the realm of possibility '-- if it were not, then Russia would not regularly conduct military exercises that imagine exactly this outcome. And recall that Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary general of NATO, told a conference in late April that NATO is gaming out exactly such a crisis.
There are yet more worrying implications to this Russian doctrine. Its logical conclusion is that Russia sees itself as able to fight a war with the conventionally superior United States without losing, and that it can do this by using battlefield nuclear weapons. Under this doctrine, Moscow is deeming not only full-blown war against the US as imaginable, but a full-blown war with at least one nuclear detonation.
That, perhaps, can help explain why Putin has seemed so willing to ratchet up the possibility of a real war with the United States, even one involving nuclear threats '-- he may believe that through his superior will and brinksmanship, he can avoid defeat. Adding a nuclear element to any conflict would also seem to increase the odds of NATO's Western European members splitting over how to respond, particularly if Russian propaganda can make the circumstances leading up to the detonation unclear.
But this also shows the degree to which his entire strategy may rest in part on a shoddy premise '-- that "limited" nuclear war can be winnable '-- and one that puts the entire world at risk.
XII. The nuclear dangers: End games
A deactivated Titan II nuclear missile silo in Arizona. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty)
President Dwight Eisenhower held office at a time when the prospect of a nuclear war was relatively new and military planners unsure how to account for the possibility of a conflict with the Soviet Union in which both sides might use nuclear weapons. Though some in his administration urged him to consider plans for nuclear conflict, Eisenhower, no stranger to war, rejected the idea as unthinkable.
"You just can't have this kind of war," Eisenhower said in 1957. "There aren't enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets."
Putin believes he has found a way around this problem, relying on smaller, battlefield-use warheads that could win a war without escalating to a global conflict in which whole cities were sacrificed.
But even a limited nuclear war could be catastrophic, and not just for the nations where the bombs would fall, but for the whole world.
A 2008 study (updated in 2014) on the environmental effects of a "small" nuclear war described what would happen if 100 Hiroshima-strength bombs were detonated in a hypothetical conflict between India and Pakistan. This is equivalent to less than 1 percent of the combined nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia.
The explosions, the study found, would push a layer of hot, black smoke into the atmosphere, where it would envelop the Earth in about 10 days. The study predicted that this smoke would block sunlight, heat the atmosphere, and erode the ozone for many years, producing what the researchers call without hyperbole "a decade without summer." As rains dried and crops failed worldwide, the resulting global famine would kill 1 billion people.
"We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion," General George Lee Butler of the US Strategic Air Command told the journalist Eric Schlosser for his book on the dangers of nuclear weapons.
We may have escaped the Cold War, but we have not escaped the nuclear threat, which not only remains but is growing. The sense that this danger is resigned to history books, common in Washington and other Western capitals, is precisely part of its danger. It is another echo of the months and years before World War I, when the world drifted unknowingly toward disaster.
In April of last year, just after Russia had annexed Crimea, the London-based think tank Chatham House published a report on the dangers of unintended nuclear conflict. It was not pegged to the events in Ukraine, and at that point few people, including the report's authors, saw Crimea as the potential beginning of a larger conflict. Even still, it was dire in its warnings.
"The probability of inadvertent nuclear use is not zero and is higher than had been widely considered," it stated. "The risk associated with nuclear weapons is high" and "under-appreciated."
Their warnings were widely ignored. As the report itself noted, the world has concluded, wrongly, that nuclear weapons no longer pose an imminent threat. Attention has moved on. But the seeds of a possible war are being sown in Europe. Should the worst happen, which is a remote but real possibility, the consequences will follow all Americans to their homes.
Fascism - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 18:18
2
:‚ a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
'‚¬'' fas·cist\-shist also -sist\noun or adjectiveoften capitalized
'‚¬'' fas·cis·tic\fa-‹Ë†shis-tik also -‹Ë†sis-\adjectiveoften capitalized
'‚¬'' fas·cis·ti·cal·ly\-ti-k(‰'-)l''\adverboften capitalized
Business and Climate: A Match Made in Paris
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:27
"If you really want to go home and look your family in the eye and say I did something today so that you, my kids, my spouse, my companion are going to have a longer, healthier life, that's where you really have to focus -- doing things that improve the climate right now."
That was Michael Bloomberg in October, looking ahead to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP21, which begins later this month in Paris. There, as Newsweekput it, "leaders and high-level officials from 196 parties have 12 days to reach an accord that could save the planet."
That's not an exaggeration. The stakes are huge and we're not going to have many opportunities, with everyone gathered together, to come up with a solution equal to the problem.
And the business world is going to have to be a part of that solution. So I'm delighted that Michael Bloomberg, whose commitment to working toward solutions to this crisis is inspiring, has asked me to share my own thoughts on the subject as part of "Businesses for Climate," a series on how businesses are addressing climate change leading up to the conference. It's a subject that's not only a personal passion of mine -- it's why I became a founding member of The B Team, a non-profit committed to reorienting business to focus on people and the planet in addition to profit -- but also an editorial priority at The Huffington Post.
Our editorial coverage is based on our belief that we have reached a critical moment, where we no longer have to convince people that climate change is real, and that our focus should now be on highlighting the many solutions that, if scaled up, can help avert a major disaster. These range from innovations in renewable energy and transportation to new economic models, such as the circular economy.
Our coverage in the run-up to Paris also includes showcasing ideas on how to build a low carbon economy, reporting on how city mayors are creating real change on the ground and explaining how and why Nordic countries are spearheading the need for economic transformation. We will also be celebrating the many leaders who have brought the issue of global warming to the attention of the world and who continue to campaign for action.
For many reasons, the timing of this conversation couldn't be better. The moral urgency around COP21 is nothing new. But the tragic terror attacks in Paris have added a new level of resolve to the talks. As Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute put it, "There is a degree of solidarity internationally over this issue, that is not exactly unprecedented, but since 9/11, we probably haven't seen anything quite like that. If anything, it stiffens the spine in terms of determination to really solve what is the greatest collective action problem in history."
So how can businesses accelerate the change our world so desperately needs?
Many companies around the world are already taking action. In the last year, for example, the number of companies committing to weaning themselves off fossil fuels -- by creating real financial targets, not just making empty promises -- has tripled. Half of all new power plants built in 2014 were green. Companies from Starbucks and Walmart to Nike and Salesforce have pledged to reduce emissions and vastly increase their use of renewable energy. Even big banks are taking a stand, reducing lending to coal-mining companies.
As Secretary of State John Kerry said, the kind of binding agreement that is the goal of COP21 "will give confidence to business leaders who are uncertain about our collective commitment and hesitant to invest in low-carbon alternatives that we need because of that perceived hesitancy by governments."
One global leader in addressing climate change is Unilever, which has pledged to reduce the company's environmental footprint by 50 percent by 2020. Under the leadership of CEO Paul Polman, Unilever -- which includes hundreds of recognizable brands, including Ben & Jerry's, Dove, and Lipton -- has launched a global Sustainable Living Plan, which aims simultaneously increase the company's impact and its profits. Polman believes that businesses can help solve the world's biggest problems, but as he put it, these problems "cannot be solved just by quarterly reporting. They require longer-term solutions and not 90-day pressures."
So thank you to Michael Bloomberg for starting this vital conversation in the run-up to COP21. And now I'm delighted to nominate Paul Polman to share his own perspective on how businesses can make a difference.
This post is part of the "Businesses for Climate" series, led by Michael Bloomberg and The Huffington Post, in conjunction with LinkedIn. The series is intended to call attention to the role of businesses in leading the way when it comes to taking action on climate change, in advance of the U.N.'s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris next week. To view the entire series, visit here.
Is the nasty bug hitting Britain the return of swine flu? Doctors report seeing patients who are experiencing severe symptoms | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:15
The number of people having the flu jab is dramatically down on last yearSwine flu never went away since 2009's pandemic, affecting UK each yearBut this year's lower rates of vaccination means more people are at riskBy Thea Jourdan for the Daily Mail
Published: 19:20 EST, 23 November 2015 | Updated: 08:29 EST, 24 November 2015
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The number of people having the flu jab is dramatically down on last year
Anyone who has ever had flu knows only too well how ill it can make you feel, and the bad news is that this could be a particularly bad year for it. For a start, the number of people having the flu jab is dramatically down on last year.
Andnow swine flu is back. In fact, it never really went away but has been circulating the globe ever since the pandemic of 2009, affecting the UK every year. But this year's lower rates of vaccination means more people are at risk.
And swine flu, or a form of H1N1, is an especially contagious form of the flu virus. At the height of the last major outbreak, 100,000 new cases a week were reported in this country alone.
While experts say another outbreak on that scale is unlikely - thanks to the fact that many people will already have had it and developed resistance to it, and some will have been vaccinated - it is still a nasty bug and can cause severe symptoms, particularly in younger people who have not developed immunity to it.
The flu season officially began in early November yet already, anecdotally, doctors are reporting seeing patients who are experiencing especially severe symptoms including joint pain, coughing, headache and fever that last for much longer than usual, leaving people feeling exhausted for weeks. Normally, people start feeling better after a week.
It is not yet clear whether these people have had swine flu - but the symptoms suggest it might be.
As Professor John Oxford, an expert in virology at Barts and Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, points out: 'The H1N1 strain attacks the upper and lower airways and can go deep into the lungs, causing more severe symptoms.'
Swine flu is so called because it is very similar to flu viruses that affect pigs. It is spread the same way as other flu viruses - by breathing in the droplets that come out of an infected person's mouth when they cough or sneeze, or by touching surfaces that the droplets have landed on and then touching your nose or mouth.
The Public Health England's latest weekly National Influenza Report reveals that thousands of people have already been to their GPs with flu-like symptoms, including high fever, coughing and headache - despite the fact the influenza season has barely started.
One possible explanation for the low take-up is the fact that last year's vaccine didn't work
This could rise dramatically as the number choosing to have the flu jab has dropped sharply. Figures published last week by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) show that the number of flu vaccinations given this year is down 6 per cent on the same time last year.
This is despite the fact that adults who are eligible for free flu vaccines - including the over-65s and those who have serious long-term health conditions - are targeted by their GP surgeries and approached about having the jab.
One possible explanation for the low take-up is the fact that last year's vaccine didn't work.
In the 2014/15 flu season, the vaccine was effective in only 3 per cent of cases. Could this happen with this year's jab, too?
Usually, flu vaccines are effective in around 59 per cent of adults and 83 per cent of children. But they are not foolproof.
For every 1,000 people who get serious flu, one person will die, which is a high mortality rate
The difficulty is that working out which strains of flu to vaccinate against involves a certain amount of guesswork.
Every February, a global flu surveillance team makes that decision, based on input from the World Health Organisation labs in Atlanta in the U.S., London, Melbourne in Australia, and Tokyo in Japan.
They try to predict which three flu types are likely to cause the most problems in the next flu season. This is based on what has happened during the previous winter (our summer) in the Southern Hemisphere.
The recommendations are made six months in advance so that manufacturers have time to develop and distribute the vaccine in October and November before the flu season starts in the Northern Hemisphere.
So what exactly went wrong last year?
'In early 2014, scientists pinpointed influenza A type H3N2 and two others which were thought to be less of a problem,' explains Professor Oxford, who has already received his flu jab this year.
'Although H3N2 is not as virulent as some other strains of flu, it mutates very easily, which is what seems to have happened and that is why the vaccine last year was not very effective.'
Even without mutations of current viruses to worry about, scientists are always doomed to be one step behind the flu contagion.
Every now and then, a super version such as H5N1 (a strain of bird flu), proves very resistant and causes a world-wide pandemic.
The flu season officially began in early November yet already, anecdotally, doctors are reporting seeing patients who are experiencing especially severe symptoms
'Flu pandemics have occurred every few decades - in 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009 - but there is good reason to believe that they may actually happen more regularly in future,' says Professor Oxford.
'This is partly due to the population explosion, bringing people in much closer proximity to one another allowing the virus to spread.'
Professor Oxford suspects that the next major pandemic will not be caused by H1N1, but by a new strain of flu which no one expects - and that is the reason it will be devastating.
H1N1 has actually been included in the flu vaccine since 2010.
This is because it is considered to be the most aggressive and prevalent form of flu around, says Professor Oxford.
The vaccination should not only help to prevent infection in the first place, but if you do catch it, it can also reduce the severity of symptoms - so those who fall ill without being immunised will feel far worse.
3,000 The number of droplets of saliva in a cough
And the good news is that this year it is thought that the vaccine will work better.
And as long as sufficient numbers of people continue to get vaccinated, the whole population will benefit because of 'herd immunity' - when the disease transmission is halted because too few people are susceptible to the disease to pass it on, explains Dr Louise Selby, a GP who is based in Surrey.
But the numbers are worrying. Professor Simon de Lusignan, medical director of the RCGP research and surveillance centre and a practising GP in Guildford, Surrey, says that the drop in numbers of people coming forward to have the vaccination is alarming.
'In my practice, we appear to be giving fewer vaccines, and, as a result, we have now slowed the ordering of vaccines because our fridges are full.'
He says a sample of GP practices across England polled by the College has seen similar results.
'We took a snapshot of 101 practices, and overall they have reported on average 106 fewer vaccines per practice [since the beginning of October until mid-November], compared with the same period last year.
'However, the reasons for this are unclear.'
The worry is that if this downward trend continues, the number of vaccinated people will drop too low to give the rest of the population extra protection, says Dr Selby.
The problem is that people don't take flu seriously. Professor Oxford says that the illness is 'very much under-estimated as a health problem'. He adds: 'It's treated very casually when the fact is that it could kill you.
'For every 1,000 people who get serious flu, one person will die, which is a high mortality rate.'
People who are at risk should go and get their flu jab as soon as possible, he says.
'It may not have worked last year, but that was then. This year's jab could be very effective.
'Of course, there's always a bit of guesswork involved, but who wants to gamble with a potentially killer virus?'
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Victoria Nuland to visit Turkey
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:51
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland will visit Turkey on October 19.
In Ankara, Victoria Nuland will meet with senior Turkish government officials to discuss counter-ISIL coalition efforts, the refugee crisis and other regional and bilateral issues.
In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Ankara, she will also underscore our solidarity in the face of the security threats Turkey faces, State Department said in a statement.
European Council: Turkey Summit Set for Sunday - The New York Times
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:27
European Council: Turkey Summit Set for SundayBy THE ASSOCIATED PRESSNOV. 23, 2015, 3:52 P.M. E.S.T.
BRUSSELS '-- European Council President Donald Tusk says he has called for a summit with Turkey this Sunday to "re-energize relations and stem migration flow.
More:European Council: Turkey Summit Set for Sunday - The New York Times
The FCC Goes on Trial: What Will the Case Mean for Consumers?
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:19
WASHINGTON D.C. '-- In less than two weeks, the FCC's Open Internet Order goes on trial '-- and the stakes have never been higher. Will the FCC's ''net neutrality'' regulations survive? Just how much authority over the Internet can the FCC lawfully claim? What does the Constitution require?
Join us Tuesday, December 8th at 10 a.m. ET for a recap of the oral arguments that will take place on December 4 before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Please RSVP here.
An all-star panel, moderated by former FCC Wireless Bureau Chief Michele Farquhar, now a partner at Hogan Lovells, will lead a panel featuring experts on both sides of this contentious case:
Markham Erickson, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson (represented Open Internet Coalition in 2012 net neutrality litigation), @mcericksonAngela Giancarlo, Partner, Mayer Brown (former Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell), @AEGEsqPantelis Michalopoulos, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson (represented intervenors in 2012 net neutrality litigation)Eve Reed, Partner, Wiley Rein (was counsel for Verizon in 2012 net neutrality litigation)Berin Szoka, President, TechFreedom, which has led a group of ''Internet Freedom'' intervenors in the case, @BerinSzokaThe event will begin at 10 am ET sharp, so please arrive early for registration and coffee. The entire event will be livestreamed here.
Where:
Steptoe & Johnson LLP - Conference Center1330 Connecticut Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20036
When:
Tuesday, December 8thRegistration and coffee - 9:45am - 10:00am ETPanel discussion - 10:00am - 11:30am ET
Twitter Hashtag: #OIO
###
We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See some of our work on net neutrality and Title II, including:
TechFreedom's opening brief in challenge to FCC's Internet regulation''3 Reasons Why We're Challenging the FCC in Court,'' a statement from TechFreedom summarizing its motion to intervene against the FCC's Open Internet OrderHighlights from legal and policy comments filed by TechFreedom and the International Center for Law & Economics on net neutrality, and our reply comments''The FCC's Net Neutrality Victory is Anything But,'' an op-ed by Geoffrey Manne, in WiredCoalition letter urging Congress to rein in the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet
NASA Declares 'Mystery Solved' as Evidence of Flowing Water Is Found on Mars | VICE News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:44
There is evidence of flowing water on Mars, according to a scientific paper published today and revealed in a widely anticipated NASA announcement.
Scientists have found the first proof that briny water may flow on the surface of Mars during the planet's summer months. Although the source and the chemistry of the liquid is unknown, the discovery could affect thinking about whether the planet, which is most similar to Earth of all the planets in the solar system, could support present-day microbial life.
Scientists have developed a new technique to analyze chemical maps of the Martian surface obtained by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.
They found telltale fingerprints of salts, which form only in the presence of water, in narrow channels cut into cliff walls throughout the planet's equatorial region.
The channels, first reported in 2011, appear during the warm summer months on Mars, then vanish when the temperatures drop. Scientists suspected the channels, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), were cut by flowing water, but had previously been unable to make the measurements.
Related:NASA Discovery Shows There Might be Little Green Microbes on Mars
"I thought there was no hope," said Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology and lead author of a paper in this week's issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter makes its measurements during the hottest part of the Martian day, so scientists believed any traces of water, or fingerprints from hydrated minerals, would have evaporated. In addition, the chemical-sensing instrument on the orbiting spacecraft cannot home in on details as small as the narrow channels, which typically are less than 16 feet wide.
NASA Announces Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars
But Ojha and colleagues created a computer program that could scrutinize individual pixels. That data was then correlated with high-resolution images of the streaks. Scientists concentrated on the widest streaks and came up with a 100 percent match between their locations and detections of hydrated salts.
"We're not claiming that we found'... evidence of liquid water. We found hydrated salts," Ojha said. Still, that was enough for NASA, which declared a "Mars mystery solved" in a press advisory. A press conference on it was then planned for 11:30am EDT on Monday.
"There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars," Michael Meyer '-- lead scientist on NASA's Mars exploration program '-- told the Guardian. "Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today."
Related:This Is Why Bitcoin Is Being Launched Into Space
Another view of water streaks flowing downhill on Mars. (Photo via Mars Reconnaissance orbiter/University of Arizona/JPL/NASA)
"It's a little bit over-the-top announcement by NASA," Ojha said. "There's so many mysteries to be solved about RSL."
The latest discovery "confirms that water is playing a role in these features," added Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist with Arizona State University. "We don't know that it's coming from the subsurface. It could come from the atmosphere."
Whatever the water's source, the prospect of liquid water, even seasonally, raises the intriguing prospect that Mars, which is presumed to be a cold and dead planet, could support life today.
Much more information about the water's chemistry, however, would be needed before scientists could make that assessment, McEwen added. "It's not necessarily habitable just because it's water '-- at least to terrestrial organisms," he said.
NASA's ongoing Mars rover Curiosity has found evidence that Mars had all the ingredients and suitable habitats for microbial life to exist at some point in its past.
Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanating out of the walls of Garni crater on Mars. (Photo via NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
Scientists have been trying to figure out how it transformed from a warm, wet and likely Earth-like planet early in its history into the cold, dry desert that exists today.
Billions of years ago, Mars, which lacks a protective, global magnetic field, lost much of its atmosphere. Several initiatives are under way to determine how much of the planet's water was stripped away and how much remains locked in ice in underground reservoirs.
In recent years there has been an increased level of talk about sending people to live on Mars. Joseph Roche, astrophysicist and former finalist on the Mars One mission, responded to today's announcement, calling it "massive."
"While Mars has fascinated us for as long as we have known of its existence, the increasing evidence that it is a cold dead planet has caused us to be more pessimistic about our hopes of finding evidence of life," he told VICE News.
"The announcement today that there could well be flowing water on Mars changes our perception of the planet and what we might hope to find there in future. It still does not answer the question of whether or not there was ever life on Mars, but it is a massive discovery in terms of understanding if the planet is habitable and helps show us where we should be looking for the next clues to this puzzle."
Related:Europe's Philae Probe Is the First Spacecraft to Land on a Comet
Topics:mars, space, nasa, planets, space exploration, lujendra ojha, mars reconnaissance orbiter, curiosity, alfred mcewen, arizona state university, americas
The $400 billion ripoff that could destroy the Greek bailout
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:31
The country's stake in the National Bank of Greece dropped to 24 percent from 57 percent, and in Eurobank it fell to 2.4 percent from 35 percent, while its stake in Alpha Bank was reduced to 11 percent from 64 percent and in Piraeus Bank it dropped to 22 percent from 67 percent. This translates to a loss of almost $44 billion that Greek taxpayers gave to bail out the banks over the past three years.
Greek stock market and legal experts believe that the maneuvers were engineered after a statutory legal provision was amended by the Greek Parliament that allowed private investors to price bank shares using a so-called "book-building method." Under this method, the share price in capital increases is not predetermined, and investors set the price at which they want to buy the shares.
It also made it mandatory for the country's regulatory body, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, to accept book-building prices, even if they were not properly reflecting share values.
Read MoreGreece reaches initial deal with lenders over foreclosures
According to Greek banking sources, Capital Group, Pimco, WLR Recovery Fund, Wellington, Fairfax, Brookfield Capital Partners and Highfields Capital Management are among those who jumped at the opportunity to invest in Greek banks at below-market value this month. The foreign investors valued the four banks at about $800 million, which is more than three times less than their current market value of $3 billion. Moreover, from Nov. 4 to Nov. 20, when the book building took place, the index of bank shares on the Greek stock market fell nearly 70 percent.
This has hit the banks hard, according to Nikos Chryssochoidis, an Athens-based stockbroker. "In just 13 trading sessions, Alpha Bank's stock dropped to .055 euros from its 0.125 euros closing on Nov. 4, losing 56 percent."
"These are horrendous figures," Emilios Avgouleas, a professor of banking law at the University of Edinburgh, told CNBC. "What is so disturbing is that this fire sale is going on with the blessings of European creditors. That makes it hard to brand it an asset looting. The loss for Greek taxpayers is enormous."
Read MoreGreece cleared to get next batch of bailout loans
- Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:03
InvestorTypeValue (USD)DestinationManagedCurrent or commitmentFundListed Australian Ethical SuperannuationBroadband>10M-50MAustralia/New ZealandAustraliaExternallyAustralian Ethical Investment Pty LtdAustralian Ethical Larger Companies Trust and Australian Ethical Smaller Companies TrustCurrentAustralian Ethical Larger Companies Trust and Australian Ethical Smaller Companies TrustListedDetailsAustralian Ethical SuperannuationCircular economy activities10M-50MAustralia/New ZealandAustraliaExternallyAustralian Ethical Investment Pty LtdAustralian Ethical Larger Companies Trust and Australian Ethical Smaller Companies TrustCurrentAustralian Ethical Larger Companies Trust and Australian Ethical Smaller Companies TrustListedDetailsAustralian Ethical SuperannuationPublic equity>50M-100MDeveloped MarketsExternallyAustralian Ethical Investment Pty LtdInt't Equities TrustCurrentInt't Equities TrustListedDetailsAustralian Ethical SuperannuationFixed income100M-250MEuropeUnited KingdomExternallyHermes GPEEnvironmental Innovation FundCurrentEnvironmental Innovation FundUnlistedDetailsBT Pension Scheme Trustees LimitedPublic equity>100M-250MEuropeUnited KingdomExternallyLGIMLGIM UK Equity Carbon Optimised Index FundCurrentLGIM UK Equity Carbon Optimised Index FundListedDetailsCalPERS - California Employee's Retirement SystemPrivate equity fund>250M-500MDeveloped MarketsUnited StatesExternallyCIMCIM Infrastructure FundCurrentCIM Infrastructure FundUnlistedDetailsCalPERS - California Public Employees' Retirement SystemGreen buildings>1000M-5000MUnited StatesUnited StatesExternallyCommonWealth PartnersFifth Street PropertiesCurrentFifth Street PropertiesUnlistedDetailsCalSTRS - California State Teachers' Retirement SystemEnergy transmission, distribution & management>100M-250MUnited StatesUnited StatesExternallyShasta VenturesShasta Ventures IICurrentShasta Ventures IIUnlistedDetailsCalSTRS - California State Teachers' Retirement SystemFixed Income>10M-50MEmerging MarketsInternallyCurrentListedDetailsCalSTRS - California State Teachers' Retirement SystemGreen buildings>100M-250MUnited StatesUnited StatesExternallyClarion PartnersMetro ParkCurrentMetro ParkUnlistedDetailsCalSTRS - California State Teachers' Retirement SystemWind energy
Low Carbon Registry - INVESTOR PLATFORM FOR CLIMATE ACTIONS
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:00
About the Low Carbon RegistryThe Low Carbon Investment (LCI) Registry is a voluntary, partial, global public online database of low carbon and clean energy investments and investments to reduce exposure to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, made by institutional investors. It provides examples of low carbon investments made by asset owners (Pension funds, master trusts or insurance companies) globally with the aims of developing low carbon investment markets and informing governments and beneficial fund members of the ways capital is flowing away from emissions intensive activities and towards low carbon investments. The project is an initiative of the groups in the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (IIGCC Europe, Ceres/INCR North America, IGCC Australia & New Zealand and AIGCC Asia). It is open to any institutional investor.
Global Investors Launch Platform for Climate Actions and Commitments '-- Ceres
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:58
As companies, investors and policymakers gather in Paris for Climate Week to galvanize momentum ahead of a global deal at COP 21, investors have launched an online platform that for the first time will identify and record the wide range of actions on climate change being undertaken by the global investor community.
As companies, investors and policymakers gather in Paris for Climate Week to galvanize momentum ahead of a global deal at COP 21, investors have launched an online platform that for the first time will identify and record the wide range of actions on climate change being undertaken by the global investor community.
The Investor Platform for Climate Actions covers three primary action areas:
Measurement (e.g. carbon footprinting of portfolios)Engagement (e.g. with fossil fuel and energy intensive companies)Reallocation (including investment in low carbon assets and shifting capital from emissions intensive activities)By showcasing the broad range of climate actions being undertaken by the investor community globally, investors are determined to encourage further initiatives and help drive momentum for an ambitious global climate deal in Paris in December.
Actions taken by investors will be central to tackling climate change and moving the world to a low carbon economy. This platform provides a single location for investors as well as the wider stakeholder community to identify how investors are helping accelerate the shift to a low carbon economy.
The launch of the platform follows the call last September to world leaders by more than 360 investors managing over $24 trillion in assets for a strong global climate deal.
The Investor Platform for Climate Actions is a joint project of IIGCC in Europe, Ceres' Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) in North America, IGCC in Australia/New Zealand, ASrIA's Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), PRI, CDP and UNEP FI.
The platform also enables the identification and recording of actions not falling within the three primary action areas, such as policy advocacy.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said:
''It is very encouraging to see key investor groups coordinate efforts and establish a joint platform for investor action. Ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris, cities, regions, companies and investors must continue to increase their active participation in the global efforts toward a low emission, highly resilient world. Over the next 15 years some $90 trillion are likely to be invested in infrastructure world-wide. Investments that are de-risked and green will be crucial for ensuring we do not lock in a high emission future but instead unlock a healthy and prosperous one that delivers the twin aims of climate stability and reliable development for the poor and the needy''.
Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive of IIGCC, said:
''From reducing emissions in their portfolios to investing in renewable energy and engaging with fossil fuel companies on climate change, investors are working hard for a low carbon transition. An ambitious global deal which sets a clear pathway towards a low carbon future would enable them to scale up these actions and go further.''
Chris Davis, Chief of Staff for Ceres' INCR, said:
''Investors around the world spoke loud and clear in September that there is strong ambition to finance the Clean Trillion - the additional trillion dollars per year that must be invested in clean energy in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The steps many investors are taking today--as illustrated on this platform-- can be scaled up tremendously in the future with a strong global climate deal in place."
Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive, IGCC, said:
''The market for different investor responses to climate change is growing rapidly. This platform explains what investors are doing now, and invites them to innovate in future.''
Jessica Robinson, Chief Executive of ASrIA-AIGCC, said:
''Globally investors are taking significant action to support the transition to a low carbon and clean energy future. In Asia, this transition requires a radical change in how we define and drive growth, and understanding the role that investors play in achieving this is an important part of the solution. The Platform provides a unique tool for sharing knowledge and experience across the industry, something that can provide invaluable support to Asia-based investors as the region shifts its growth models.''
Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of PRI, said:
''Increasingly, investors are looking for ways to use their financial muscle to effect action on climate change. By seeing the wide range of options available via the database, investors will be able to ramp up their climate activities ahead of COP21 in December.''
James Hulse, Head of Investor Initiatives, CDP, said:
''Investors are taking action to protect their investments by engaging with companies to shift to a low-carbon future and by re-allocating their capital directly. The new investor platform will help to coordinate and showcase those actions and send a strong message to companies and policy-makers ahead of COP 21. CDP believes that investor engagement is vital to ensure that the transition to a low carbon economy happens as quickly as possible.''
Eric Usher, acting Head UNEP FI, said:
''2015 is a critical year for the challenge of climate change. Institutional investors have not one, but two important roles to play. First, they need to amplify their call for serious and ambitious government action on climate change. But, to be credible, they also need to demonstrate their own leadership in moving to action, for instance through the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition which is part of the broader platform we are launching today."
Notes to editors:
The regional climate investors groups will be hosting a webinar with Responsible Investor on June 10th at 3pm BST / 10am EST for investors to learn more about the strategies and solutions available for protecting portfolios against climate change and contributing to the low carbon economy. The webinar will use the recently published Climate Change Investment Solutions: A Guide for Asset Owners as the basis for discussion and learnings.
To register for the webinar please email MPauliukova@IIGCC.org
About Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (Europe)
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) is a forum for collaboration on climate change for investors. IIGCC's network includes over 100 members, with some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, representing '‚¬10trillion in assets. IIGCC's mission is to provide investors a common voice to encourage public policies, investment practices and corporate behaviour which address long-term risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Please visit www.iigcc.org and follow @IIGCCnews for regular updates on our activities.
About Ceres' Investor Network on Climate Risk (United States)
The Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) is a North America-focused network of institutional investors dedicated to addressing the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change and other sustainability challenges. INCR currently has more than 110 members representing over $13 trillion in assets. INCR is a project of Ceres, a non-profit advocate for sustainability leadership that mobilizes investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Visit www.ceres.org
About Investors Group on Climate Change (Australia/New Zealand)
IGCC is a collaboration of 55 Australian and New Zealand institutional investors and advisors, managing approximately $1 trillion and focusing on the impact that climate change has on the financial value of investments. The IGCC aims to encourage government policies and investment practices that address the risks and opportunities of climate change, for the ultimate benefit of superannuants and unit holders. Visit www.igcc.org.au
About the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change
The Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) is an initiative set up by the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) to create awareness among Asia's asset owners and financial institutions about the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and low carbon investing. AIGCC provides capacity for investors to share best practice and to collaborate on investment activity, credit analysis, risk management, engagement and policy. With a strong international profile and significant network, including pension, sovereign wealth funds insurance companies and fund managers, AIGCC represents the Asian voice in the evolving global discussions on climate change and the transition to a greener economy. Visit http://aigcc.asria.org
About the Principles for Responsible Investment
The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative is an international network of investors working together to put the six principles for responsible investment into practice. Its goal is to understand the implications of Environmental, Social and Governance issues (ESG) for investors and support signatories to incorporate these issues into their investment decision making and ownership practices. In implementing the principles, signatories contribute to the development of a more sustainable global financial system. Visit www.unpri.org.
About CDP
CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is an international, not-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. CDP works with market forces, including 822 institutional investors with assets of US$95 trillion, to motivate companies to disclose their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them. CDP now holds the largest collection globally of primary climate change, water and forest risk commodities information and puts these insights at the heart of strategic business, investment and policy decisions. Please follow us @CDP to find out more.
About UNEP FI
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a unique partnership between UNEP and a global network of over 200 banks, insurers and investors from 51 countries. UNEP FI aims at creating an enabling environment for financial institutions to embed sustainable development policies into their operations, and its mission is to mainstream the integration of sustainability across the finance sector. It provides a neutral space to convene stakeholders and acts as a platform at the intersection between finance, science and policy. Visit www.unepfi.org
Kabinet investeert in twee klimaatfondsen | Politiek | de Volkskrant
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:52
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climate fund one and TCX
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:44
Currency risk is one of the biggest and most persistent barriers to renewable energy and climate investment in developing countries. In countries with underdeveloped capital markets, like the majority of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the only viable option is to finance projects in a foreign currency '' such as dollar or euro. However, a project's revenues are often in local currency, creating a risk that they will not be enough to pay back foreign debt if the local currency loses value. The long timeframes involved with renewable energy investments mean changes in the value of a currency of 50% or more are not uncommon. This can spell disaster for a project.The Long-Term Foreign Exchange Risk Management instrument provides the tools to address currency and interest rate risk. An interlinked barrier is interest rate risk. Loans in developing countries are often only available with a floating interesting rate '' meaning that debt repayments increase if interest rates rise. Changes in interest rates also affect the value of a currency so these two risks can compound and the uncertainty can discourage investors from pursuing what would otherwise be profitable and important investments.By enabling companies and investors to lock-in long-term finance in local currencies, the set of tools offered by the Long-Term FX Risk Management instrument can help to make more projects attractive, unlocking new investment in projects that provide clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience.To implement a pilot, USD 250 million is being sought from donor finance sources. ' USD 50 million to partially guarantee a portfolio of local currency loans and cross-currency swaps provided by International Finance Corporation (IFC) to project developers. ' USD 200 million to back a portfolio of cross-currency and interest rate swaps provided by TCX. This can support USD 1.5 billion of clean investment projects with a potential GHG reductions of 1.7 MtCO2 per year and a cumulative total of 39 MtCO2 over the operational lifetime of the assets. In its pilot phase, the facility is expected to support climate related investments for a variety of actors: project developers and lenders, local utilities and commercial banks in emerging countries.Because it addresses such a major investment barrier, the potential impact of the instrument post-pilot is large. It can be used in different countries and sectors and could also contribute to financial market development in developing countries, unlocking additional investment.TCX and International Finance Corporation are seeking to implement a pilot with the aim of mobilizing up to USD 2 billion in hedging capacity for clean investment projects in developing countries.Long-term Foreign Exchange Risk ManagementClimateFinanceLab.org
FACILITY DESIGNIn a pilot, TCX and International Finance Corporation (IFC) would collaborate to develop a pipeline of projects and enter into joint transactions where appropriate. Their roles are complementary and each would fill specific gaps in the market. TCX would focus on market risk '' TCX has been hedging frontier market currencies since 2008. TCX would enter into a transaction to provide long-term fixed and inflation linked cross currency swaps and interest rate swaps to beneficiaries that are undertaking climate-relevant investment.IFC would solve another key barrier '' credit risk. Swap providers, including TCX cannot take credit risk which is present because a currency swap involves a stream of payments over time. They might require high collateral '' as much as 25% of the value of the hedge up front. This is where IFC can come in. By accepting the credit risk and using their own AAA credit rating to act as the counterparty, they can make a transaction happen. IFC would be an intermediary offering currency swaps to clients and also providing a local currency loan product that combines a USD loan from IFC with a cross currency swap for clients who do not wish to enter into derivatives transactions.ABOUT THE LAB The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance is an initiative that supports the identification and piloting of cutting edge climate finance instruments. It aims to drive billions of dollars of private investment \into climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.Analytical and secretariat work of The Lab has been funded by the UK Department of Energy &\ Climate Change (DECC), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and the U.S. Depar\tment of State. Climate Policy Initiative serves as The Lab Secretariat.The instrument offers access to a wide range of FX risk management solutionsBy providing the tools to lock-in long term finance in local currency, the Long-Term FX Risk Management instrument helps to make more projects viable and unlocks new climate investment.will providelong-term fixed and inflation linked cross curreny swaps & interest rate swapswill provide direct local currency loans & cross currency swaps in case of client defaultLong term fixed cross-currency swapInflation linked cross-currency swapInterest rate swapsLocal currency loansCross currency swapsTCXIFCto increase coverage, improve leverage, & contribute to long-term market developmentADDITIONAL COUNTERPARTIESTCX & IFC will draw onBARRIER:Foreign exchange and interest rate risk increases the uncertainty of a project's financial outcomes which can lead to promising projects not being pursued.SOLUTION:ClimateFinanceLab.org NEWCLIMATE-RELEVANT INVESTMENT BENEFICIARIES
Products | TCX The Currency Exchange Fund
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:42
By providing hedging instruments, TCX facilitates the establishment of a local currency business line for its investors and their clients.
Products can be structured to respond to the specific situation of each counterparty, and the specific terms the underlying transactions these instruments serve to hedge.
Cross currency swaps are typically used to mirror the cash flows of a fixed income transaction like a loan:
TCX can hedge the lender, who can then provide a local currency loan to the borrower; orTCX can hedge the borrower, who can then accept a hard currency loan from the lender.Forward contracts can also be used for these purposes, and also to hedge longer term equity investments.
Another choice concerns the type of rates underlying the cash flows:
Floating Rate (Floating vs. Floating or Floating vs. Fixed)Fixed Rate (Fixed vs. Fixed or Fixed vs. Floating)A third choice concerns the type of local currency structure:
Non Deliverable Contract (Synthetic Local Currency Loan) where all cash flows occur offshore and are settled in USD; orDeliverable Contract (Conditional Domestic Local Currency Loan) where all cash flows occur locally and in the actual currency of the obligation.These structures are detailed in the section "Guide Books', with a special focus on the more complex deliverable structures.
Lab Members - The Lab
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:37
The Lab Principals are high-level experts in climate finance from governments, pension funds, investment banks, project developers and development finance institutions in developing and developed countries. Their expertise and experience informs the identification and development of innovative finance instruments.
The Lab Principals have nominated Lab Advisors, who will support them in their role and contribute institutional expertise to the Lab in order to design, stress test, and advise on the identification of instruments.
Lab Principals and AdvisorsOliver Andrews '' Lab PrincipalExecutive Director and Chief Investment Officer, Africa Finance Corporation
Solomon Asamoah '' Lab PrincipalVice-President, Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, African Development Bank (AfDB)
Kurt Lonsway '' Lab AdvisorManager of Environment and Climate Change, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change, African Development Bank (AfDB)
Mustapha Bakkoury '' Lab PrincipalChairman of the Board, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen)
Obaid Amrane '' Lab AdvisorBoard Member, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen)
Jim Barry '' Lab PrincipalManaging Director, BlackRock Infrastructure Investment Group (BIIG) and CIO BlackRock NTR Renewable Power Fund
Alan Synnott '' Lab AdvisorDirector, BlackRock Alternative Investors
Elizabeth Corley '' Lab PrincipalCEO, AGI Europe GmbH, Allianz
Karsten Loeffler '' Lab AdvisorManaging Director, Allianz Climate Solutions
Rowan Douglas '' Lab PrincipalCEO of the Willis Capital, Science & Policy Practice, Willis Group
Olivia Darby '' Lab AdvisorChief Operating Officer, Capital, Science & Policy Practice, Willis Group
Sandrine Duchene '' Lab PrincipalDeputy Director General, French Treasury
Arnaud Buiss(C) '' Lab AdvisorDeputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Multilateral Affairs and Development, French Treasury
Delphine Eyraud '' Lab AdvisorSenior Policy Adviser, International Climate Negotiations, French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
Pierre Forestier '' Lab AdvisorHead of Climate Change Division, French Development Agency
Anette Eberhard '' Lab PrincipalCEO, Denmark's Export Credit Agency (EKF)
Mariane Soendergaard-Jensen '' Lab AdvisorDirector of the International Relations Department, EKF
Dan Cleff '' Lab AdvisorDeputy Director, International Relations Department EKF
Thomas Egebo '' Lab PrincipalDanish Permanent Secretary of State
Hans Jakob Eriksen '' Lab AdvisorSpecial Advisor, Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate
Nikolaj Lomholt SvenssonAdviser, Centre for Global Cooperation, Danish Energy Agency
Jo£o Carlos Ferraz '' Lab PrincipalManaging Director, Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES)
Simone Saisse Lopes '' Lab AdvisorManager, International Unit, Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES)
Raphael SteinCoordinator, Environmental Department, Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES)
Jochen Flasbarth '' Lab PrincipalSecretary of State, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany
Norbert GoriŸen '' Lab AdvisorHead of International Climate Finance, International Climate Initiative Division, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany
Colin Grassie '' Lab PrincipalUK CEO and member of the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank
Astrid Manroth '' Lab AdvisorManaging Director, Head of Environmental & Social Capital, Deutsche Bank
Nanno Kleiterp '' Lab PrincipalCEO, FMO
Paul Van de Logt '' Lab AdvisorSenior Policy Advisor, Environment, Climate, Energy and Water, Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Rachel Kyte '' Lab PrincipalVice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank Group
Vikram Widge '' Lab AdvisorHead, Climate and Carbon Finance, International Finance Corporation
Michael Liebreich '' Lab PrincipalChairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Peter Sweatman- Lab AdvisorChief Executive and Founder, Climate Strategy & Partners
John E. Morton '' Lab PrincipalChief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Michael Cummings '' Lab AdvisorSenior Advisor to the President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Paddy Padmanathan '' Lab PrincipalPresident and CEO, ACWA Power
Thierry Tardy '' Lab AdvisorExecutive Director, Acquisition and Project Finance, ACWA Power
Kjell Roland '' Lab PrincipalManaging Director of Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries)
Henrik Malvik '' Lab AdvisorSenior Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rt Hon Amber Rudd, MP '' Lab PrincipalSecretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, UK
Julia Ellis '' Lab AdvisorHead of Climate Finance Team, Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK
Purna Saggurti '' Lab PrincipalGlobal Chair of Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Abyd Karmali '' Lab AdvisorManaging Director, Climate Finance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Hans Schulz '' Lab PrincipalVice President for the Private Sector, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Amal-Lee Amin '' Lab AdvisorChief, Climate Change and Sustainability Division, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Asger Garnak '' Lab AdvisorSecondee, Climate Change and Sustainability Division, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Junichi Yamada '' Lab PrincipalSenior Special Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Yorio Ito '' Lab AdvisorMinistry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
Takashi Hongo '' Lab AdvisorSenior Fellow, Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute, Japan
Tomonori Sudo '' Lab AdvisorSenior Research Fellow JICA
Former MembersEloy W. Lindeijer '' Lab PrincipalChief Investment Management, PGGM
Marcel Jeucken '' Lab AdvisorManaging Director Responsible Investment, PGGM
Bennett Freeman '' Lab PrincipalSenior Vice President, Sustainability Research and Policy, Calvert Investments
Gabriel Thoumi '' Lab AdvisorSenior Sustainability Analyst, Calvert Investments
Torben M¶ger Pedersen '' Lab PrincipalCEO, PensionDanmark
Susanne R¸ge Lund '' Lab AdvisorHead of SRI, PensionDanmark
Climate Investor One' - Google Search
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:26
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Climate Investor One - The Labclimatefinancelab.org 'º IdeasClimate Investor One (Formerly the Climate Development and Finance Facility) will facilitate early-stage development, construction financing, and refinancing to ...One of the World's Largest Coal Companies Misled ...www.motherjones.com/.../11/peabody-coal-climate-investo...Nov 9, 2015 -Climate change could pose a serious risk to investors in ... two of the company's US coal mines by one-third or more, according to the findings.Investment Climate Definition | Investopediawww.investopedia.com/terms/i/investmentclimate.aspAn unfavorable investment climate is one of the many hindrances faced by ... and volatility associated with investing in an unfavorable climate because of the ...[PDF]Investing to Curb Climate Change - The Forum for ...www.ussif.org/files/publications/institutional_climate.pdfInvesting to Curb Climate Change: A Guide for the Institutional Investor 1. The problem ... reserves sufficient to put another 2,795 gigatons into the atmosphere. 1.
Cyber Spying Is Out, Cyber Lying Is In
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:37
Let's say a military commander '-- the captain of a destroyer, for example '-- walks into a darkened room packed with screens and can no longer trust the pictures his radar and other sensors are generating, Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, wondered aloudat a defense forum earlier this month. ''What happens if what I'm looking at, in fact, leads me to make decisions that only exacerbate the problem I'm trying to deal with?''
''Our system '-- whether it's in the private sector or for us in the military '-- is fundamentally founded on the idea of trust of the data we're looking at,'' Rogers said, speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum, a who's-who gathering of the U.S. national security establishment in Simi Valley, California. ''What happens if the digital underpinning that we've all come to rely on is no longer believable?''
In public appearances and congressional testimony in recent months, America's top intelligence officials have repeatedly warned of what they describe as the next great threat in cyberspace: hackers not just stealing data but altering it, threatening military operations, key infrastructure, and broad swaths of corporate America. It's the kind of attack they say would be difficult to detect and capable of seriously damaging public trust in the most basic aspects of both military systems and a broader economy in which tens of millions of people conduct financial and health-related transactions online.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has made equally dire predictions about what the future holds: operations that ''change or manipulate electronic information to compromise its integrity, instead of simply deleting or disrupting access to it.''
Drones could beam back images of an empty battlefield that is actually full of enemy fighters. Assembly robots could put together cars using dimensions that have been subtly altered, ruining the vehicles. Government personnel records could be modified by a foreign intelligence service to cast suspicion on a skilled operative.
So far, such attacks aren't taking place in vast number, but as militaries theorize about their use and cyberweapons continue to proliferate, recent cutting-edge attacks illustrate how information can become a domain of warfare. In Iran, the Stuxnet worm released by the United States and Israel convinced engineers at the Natanz plant that their centrifuges were operating correctly, when they had in fact been overpressurized in order to malfunction. In Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has defaced and targeted websites as part of its ongoing military operations in the two countries. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, GCHQ, the British signals intelligence agency, has explored developing tools to alter the outcome of online polls.
Some computer experts argue that the data manipulation threat may be overblown. At its most basic level, cryptologist Bruce Schneier said, an attack manipulating or undermining the integrity of data tries to change a one to a zero, referring to the basic binary code at the heart of computer systems. While there are obvious military applications for such attacks, there are easier ways for cyber-criminals to make their money. ''Attacks that manipulate data tend to be more damaging than profitable,'' he said.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, Sean Kanuck, the national intelligence officer for cyber-issues and a senior advisor to Clapper, said there are reasons to believe that criminals could profit from data alteration and integrity attacks, which he said could range from website defacements to changing financial records.
In 2013, Kanuck noted, a pro-Assad group known as the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into the Twitter account of the Associated Press and broadcast a fake report about explosions at the White House. The Dow Jones industrial average then dropped nearly 150 points, erasing $136 billion in market value.
As it became clear that the report was a hoax, the market quickly recovered. But that steep fall, followed by a sudden gain, ''almost certainly redistributed financial value'' as stocks were bought and sold, Kanuck said. The hackers, in theory, could have shorted a market index fund and liquidated their position during the turmoil, making themselves a handy profit.
It's difficult to say whether that's a far-fetched, conspiratorial scenario or something that might actually take place. Theoretically, it's possible. In reality, no evidence has been made public that the group placed those bets or currently has plans to.
The challenge lies in drawing the line between actual capabilities in cyberspace and warnings by Washington's top spies that are overblown. Kanuck conceded that advanced data manipulation attacks ''may not be fully upon us'' and said Clapper's warning ''stems mostly from theoretical, conceptual, and strategic thought processes at the National Intelligence Council.''
Such attacks seem far more probable '-- and would be far more dangerous '-- in future intelligence operations or military confrontations. In an imagined naval battle between the United States and China, for example, Beijing's forces could conceivably hack into the computer system of a destroyer and wipe from its sensors the fighter jets speeding toward it.
Indeed, altering the data available to enemy forces represents a key part of military cyberstrategies, a development the Pentagon has laid out in its official doctrines. The Defense Department'sJoint Publication 3-13, on information warfare, explains that cybercapabilities can be used to ''deny or manipulate'' enemy decision-making, including by altering the contents of messages. According toa2010 reportby the Swedish Defense Research Agency, the manipulation of information and data represents an offshoot of the Russian military doctrine ofmaskirovka'-- or camouflage, concealment, and deception.
Moscow has already demonstrated its willingness to use data manipulation in its military conflicts with Ukraine and Georgia. Cyberattacks linked to Russia that targeted Ukraine's 2014 election included the publication of a hoax chart claiming a strong result for a far-right candidate, theWall Street Journalreported this month. Prior to the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, pro-Moscow hackers defaced a website belonging to then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and posted images of him with Hitler.
''In the future, you are going to see nation-states try to pull off data manipulation attacks against one another leading up to a conflict,'' said Martin Stytz, an associate research professor at Georgetown University and a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. ''It's just another tool in the toolbox. It gives you just too much advantage.''
Conceptually, computer security experts tend to describe their work in terms of ensuring the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of data. Distributed denial-of-service attacks, such as those U.S. officials say Iran launched on major American banks in 2013, affected the availability of information by taking down online banking services. Breaking into a bank's computer systems and stealing customer information, such as the breach of JP Morgan Chase in 2014, affects the confidentiality of information. Attacks on availability and confidentiality have gotten the lion's share of attention, Kanuck said, when integrity issues could pose just as great a problem.
Indeed, the effort by the United States and Israel to cripple Iran's ability to enrich uranium with a cyberweapon shows how data manipulation can serve as a complex attack on physical infrastructure. The first version of that virus, known as Stuxnet, attempted to damage centrifuges enriching uranium by slightly raising the pressure in the devices, causing them to break. It included an ingenious piece of deception to ensure that the plant managers at Natanz wouldn't notice the rising pressure levels. Stuxnet recorded a set of pressure data and then replayed it to the control room as it was carrying out the sabotage '-- just like a Hollywood thief records closed-circuit footage of an empty hallway leading to a vault and then plays it back during the heist.
Countries with significant offensive cybercapabilities '-- China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, among them '-- have almost certainly analyzed the code and could pull off a copycat attack, according to experts who have studied the malware.
Not that it would be easy to pull off, according to Ralph Langner, an industrial security expert whose firm works to protect nuclear power plants, steel mills, and other complex plants from cyberattacks. He authored the early, definitive analyses of Stuxnet, and his work illustrates how difficult it is to use cyberweapons to destroy physical objects. ''Whoever provided the required intelligence may as well know the favorite pizza toppings of the local head of engineering,'' his 2013reporton Stuxnet notes.
''Any idiot can manipulate data in some way once they have the access,'' Langner told FP. To cause physical destruction, however, the hacker ''must be able to engineer an attack,'' requiring a deep understanding of how complex industrial systems function.
The future, Langner explained in his 2013 report, is burdened by an irony: ''Stuxnet started as nuclear counter-proliferation and ended up [opening] the door to proliferation that is much more difficult to control: The proliferation of cyber weapon technology.'' So as criminal groups increasingly operate in cyberspace and cyberweaponry becomes increasingly available, sophisticated alteration attacks, including those that target physical infrastructure, begin to seem less far-fetched.
Manipulation of data also has a far simpler, earlier analogue on the history of computer breaches. Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, said Rogers's and Clapper's statements reminded him of so-called ''data-diddling'' attacks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those attacks targeted Excel files and would randomly alter data entries, say, up or down five percent. If such a document contained manufacturing tolerances for a plant, random alterations could have devastating impacts.
Such a simple attack illustrates the virtues of a subtle, slow approach. When Iranian hackers targeted Saudi Aramco, the oil company, in 2012 and wiped the hard drives of 30,000 computers, the results were devastating '-- and immediately apparent. Recovering from such an attack means merely restoring back-ups, assuming such copies were made anyway.
According to FireEye, it typically takes around 200 days for a company to discover that its computers have been breached, and, in that time, an attacker altering data can make changes that a company may not be able to recover from. ''When was everything still OK? When was the data that we should return to? Six months ago? How do we go back six months?'' said Jani Antikainen, summing up the questions a company faced with such an attack will ask itself.
Antikainen believes Clapper and Rogers have identified a real threat moving forward and is the founder of Sparta Consulting, a Finland-based company set up to take advantage of what he sees as a market opportunity. His firm helps companies protect databases from manipulation. In an indication that firms are perhaps reaching the same conclusions as American spies, Antikainen said he counts the company that manages the Finish electrical grid as one of his clients.
Photo credit: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images
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M 5.1 - South of Tonga
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:29
USGS-earthquakes-us100040m3.892393.0.20151124T025925.040Z.0 http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/monitoring/anss/neic/ 2015-11-24T02:59:25+00:00 Actual Alert Public 0 IPAWSv1.0 Geo Earthquake Past Unknown Likely SAME EQW 2015-11-24T02:46:04+00:00 2015-12-01T02:59:25+00:00 U.S. Geological Survey EQ 5.1 NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga - PRELIMINARY REPORT An earthquake with magnitude 5.1 occurred near NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga at 02:46:04.90 UTC on Nov 24, 2015. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.) None http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us100040m3 http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/monitoring/anss/neic/ EventTime 20151124T024604.900Z EventIDKey us100040m3 Magnitude 5.1 Depth 15.0 km (9.3 miles) HorizontalError 11.8 km VerticalError 9.0 km NumPhases 20 MinDistance 660.9 km RMSTimeError 1.37 seconds AzimuthalGap 257 degrees
251 miles (404 km) SSE of NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga; 1636 miles (2632 km) WSW of PAPEETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia -24.545,-173.837 0.0 Zo4Ysd7hHgcwySPUzIFLjkiVuZ0=DnyMUS6NbV+8G79bY8OOS1W4SIWb566Usb56k9gVTEsIN6X6rbhwe7CdBUzuE9ZmJGjWXUHj6m9B wzg53P0ZrGAvYSuV5/P+eYGm/GKRW3o+3bCvAkKFM9Nkt9y4WmVfs1nUyxBksU7sLORCSQlJQg0k LJkOQDhA7dLri3vVwH60AcaA6Jj2vb+hE34DLfLr3tYp1w4FS9JcdyLd3uHGD5+zd2gQ2DLr6CT6 5fGOHCCYnx44ucvdjuyUb6bJ0H190Dyogq+FykxvBxSUlZgfxoYIs+yCwMaGc30ZDwGctQK0s3Jt UnUIWf2eRZPbX2OzOwoMnSBbjSWTs/nd8/vEZw==j+80m1bQtYiuzbTz/3Ton93iNGbLBqUej/NSeOAdVP9cjlfWYCh4slISpff96A4G2TiLNMidvIax oOZ5XsW6n+rhln1D09YafVpG4BXTXrrZOPqeNMDWrboZpyIcvQANnvDO5DzXEk4OQ5dlUT7Ou86T uigQwIqxjyC2nMR4DIK8xtZZuN/qiWxqEyZw6qp2QPjKOK+4wK/oA2WmG113YLXuky4Cu24yc1ZG npGExnymZyZxwK6o/yZERuS6AzmVqE/PuxWtTO9fHE3EPsdUFWJhTYjP4YMEcT89taW/TPRHybT7 lwWzws+i4KOJb2CzJ5o6HoBq2LTtzCOhIv+3MQ==AQAB
Senate Probing Possible Reprisal Against DoD Task Force Whistleblower
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:29
Senate Probing Possible Reprisal Against DoD Task Force WhistleblowerNovember 23, 2015
A gas station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, found by a SIGAR report to cost taxpayers $43 million
The Pentagon office responsible for building the $43 million gas station in Afghanistan is in the news again, this time over allegations that its former chief is the victim of whistleblower retaliation.
On Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) alerted Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that Army Col. John C. Hope claims he is being punished for raising concerns about the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which oversaw the gas station project. Hope was the last director of the Task Force, which shut down in March of this year.
Hope alleges he has been singled out for retaliation and retribution for ''speaking truth'' about ''a lack of accountability'' at the Task Force, according to Sen. Grassley's letter. Hope claims that, as a result of blowing the whistle, his job evaluation has been delayed for eight months, which puts his next assignment'--and his career'--in jeopardy.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) ignited a firestorm earlier this month when it reported that the gas station should have cost less than $500,000 and probably should not have been built at all. SIGAR has been unable to pry information about the gas station and other Task Force projects out of the Pentagon. One of Hope's superiors allegedly slow-rolling Hope's job evaluation is Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Brian P. McKeon, who told SIGAR that his office currently lacks the personnel and expertise to answer any questions about the Task Force. Luckily, the Senate has jumped into the fray and is also demanding answers.
Grassley has requested records related to the Task Force since it began operations in Afghanistan in 2009, including all records pertaining to SIGAR's requests for information. Grassley also plans to seek a Department of Defense Inspector General audit.
The Task Force was created in 2006 to help revive Iraq's economy by encouraging foreign corporate investment. In 2009, it shifted focus to Afghanistan, where, according to SIGAR, it has obligated approximately $766 million for economic development projects like the gas station. Bloomberg reported in 2011 that the Task Force had a 75-person staff and a $150 million annual budget.
SIGAR began investigating the Task Force last year after receiving allegations of improprieties. In December, Special Inspector General John F. Sopko notified former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel of possible ''imprudent spending, profligate travel by employees and contractors, and possible mismanagement.''
Neil Gordon is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Neil investigates and maintains POGO's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.
Topics:Contract Oversight
Related Content:SIGAR, DOD Oversight
Authors:Neil Gordon
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Latest PodcastPodcast; Social Media, Internet Provides Opportunities, Challenges for LawmakersThe Congressional Management Foundation offers the Gold Mouse Awards annually to members of Congress who make the most of the opportunity the digital world offers them. POGO spoke with members of Rep. Mike Honda's communications team about their award.
Video Surfaces of Charlie Sheen Giving Oral Sex to a Male Lover and Smoking Crack Cocaine | B. Scott | Celebrity Gossip and Entertainment News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:17
A series of clips showing Charlie Sheen smoking a crack cocaine pipe AND engaging in oral sex with a male companion has hit the streets.
via Radar Online:
In a bombshell world exclusive, Radar can reveal that at least three videos were recorded of the thrice married father-of-five. The clips last about 30 seconds and depict Sheen smiling on cameras as he brazenly indulges in the illegal drug.
Once high, the Tinseltown train-wreck seduces his male companion before pleasuring the individual with a hardcore sex act.
A source told Radar the videos were recorded in Nevada in 2011.
It's a stunning development at the heart of a deepening scandal engulfing the Hollywood megastar who was once the highest paid actor on television.
The tape was at the center of an explosive ''J. Roe v. John Doe'' lawsuit that alleged an ''A-List celebrity'' spread herpes, Radar has learned.
For the first time, Radar can reveal kinky Sheen, 50, was the megastar identified only as someone of ''substantial international fame'' in explosive litigation that alleged he orchestrated a ''nefarious plot'' to lure a victim into sex despite having herpes.
According to a $20 million lawsuit, the plaintiff '-- who, like Sheen, was also not named '-- met the celebrity in Las Vegas on April 1, 2011.
The ''sleaze suit'' claimed Sheen ''entered into a nefarious plot designed to lure Plaintiff into his luxurious hotel room to serve his prurient desires.''
Sensationally, it was alleged Sheen told the man he had ''no venereal diseases.''
At that point, they watched porn and engaged in ''mutual oral copulation, mutual self-gratification, rubbing and massaging each other, play-wrestling, licking and (unprotected) intercourse.''
Radar has learned Sheen later settled that case for millions of dollars, according to a source, after he learned he was caught on tape with the man!
As part of the hush money pay off, Sheen secured the original videos and is understood to have ordered them destroyed.
But a bootleg copy exists and was showed to a Radar editor late last week.
''Charlie had his team buy it off the market and settle the lawsuit because he and his camp believed it could destroy his life if it ever got out,'' said a source.
''He must be quaking in his boots that it could see the light of day.''
In case you missed it, Charlie Sheen confirmed his HIV+ status to Matt Lauer last Tuesday.
Appeals Court Rules Targeted Killing Memos Can Stay Secret - NYTimes.com
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:12
WASHINGTON '-- A federal appeals court ruled in a decision unsealed on Monday that the Justice Department could continue to conceal internal documents related to targeted killings in the fight against Al Qaeda.
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit forced the Obama administration last year to reveal a secret memo that authorized the killing of the American-born terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki. But the new ruling, handed down in October, makes it unlikely that the suit will yield much else in the way of public disclosures.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously that the government could keep secret about 10 documents regarding targeted killing operations against noncitizens abroad because the details of American legal policy and standards on that issue remained classified.
''We emphasize at the outset that the lawfulness of drone strikes is not at issue,'' Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel. ''This appeal, like the prior one, primarily concerns whether documents considering such lawfulness must be disclosed.''
Judge Newman was joined in the ruling by Judges Jos(C) A. Cabranes and Rosemary S. Pooler. The litigation was a consolidation of separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Justice Department declined to comment, but Jameel Jaffer, an A.C.L.U. lawyer, deplored the ruling and urged the Obama administration to voluntarily disclose more information about its standards for when it believes that killing terrorism suspects is legally justified.
''We strongly disagree that these crucial legal memos can lawfully be kept secret,'' he said. ''In a democracy, there should be no room for 'secret law,' and the courts should not play a role in perpetuating it.'' He added, ''The government should not be using lethal force based on standards that are explained only vaguely and on facts that are never published or independently reviewed.''
The same appeals court panel in 2014 forced the Obama administration to reveal a lengthy July 2010 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel about killing Mr. Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric working with Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen who died in a drone strike in 2011. A Nigerian terrorist who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb in his underwear on Christmas in 2009 told the F.B.I. in early 2010 that Mr. Awlaki had helped orchestrate the plot.
The government also later made public a shorter legal memo about killing Mr. Awlaki, from February 2010, that the longer memo had replaced.
But Judge Newman wrote that there was a big difference between the Awlaki memos and other memos about targeted killing operations: Officials had revealed extensive details about the government's legal analysis regarding the killing of a citizen. They did so both in speeches and in an unclassified ''white paper'' that the Justice Department officially disclosed after a copy was leaked to NBC News.
As a result of those disclosures, the judge wrote, the government had waived its right to withhold the Awlaki memos. By contrast, the government has stayed relatively tight-lipped about the topics in its other Office of Legal Counsel memos.
A Federal District Court judge, Colleen McMahon, had previously ruled that the memos could be lawfully withheld from the public, while deploring what she termed the ''Alice in Wonderland'' logic of the law. After reversing her ruling and ordering the release of the Awlaki memo, the appeals court sent the case back to Judge McMahon to weigh whether the other memos on targeted killings should be disclosed.
Later, in October 2014, Judge McMahon ruled that the government could keep those other memos secret. The plaintiffs appealed again, but this time the appeals court upheld her ruling.
A redacted transcript of arguments that the government made in July to the appeals court, with lawyers for The Times and the A.C.L.U. not present so that classified information could be discussed, showed that the judges were considering ordering the government to reveal two and a half pages of a 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo regarding targeted killings abroad.
But the panel decided not to take that step. In its ruling, it said that while government officials in the Obama era had discussed killing foreigners abroad in severalspeeches, there was insufficient connection between those public remarks and the memo written years earlier to warrant the same kind of waiver granted for the Awlaki memo.
If the parties do not appeal, there will be one small additional disclosure as a result of the appeals court's latest ruling. The court said that most of three paragraphs that were redacted when Judge McMahon's October 2014 ruling was released should be uncovered. They address ''hypothetical situations that might raise issues of waiver of attorney-client privilege with respect to a noncompete clause in an employment contract.''
University yoga class canceled because of 'oppression, cultural genocide' - The Washington Post
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 01:05
In studios across the nation, as many as 20 million Americans practice yoga every day. Few worry that their downward dogs or warrior poses disrespect other cultures.
But yoga comes from India, once a British colony. And now, at one Canadian university, a yoga class designed to include disabled students has been canceled after concerns the practice was taken from a culture that ''experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy,'' according to the group that once sponsored it.
In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, Jennifer Scharf, who taught the class for up to 60 people at the University of Ottawa, said she was unhappy about the decision, but accepted it.
''This particular class was intro to beginners' yoga because I'm very sensitive to this issue,'' she said. ''I would never want anyone to think I was making some sort of spiritual claim other than the pure joy of being human that belongs to everyone free of religion.''
The trouble began on Sept. 7. That's when Scharf, who said she had taught a class since 2008 through the school's Centre for Students with Disabilities '-- part of the university's Student Federation '-- got an e-mail.
''I have unfortunate news,'' the e-mail from a student representative of the center read. ''Apparently our centre has chosen not to do yoga for programming this year. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns in regards to this and I am welcome to explain. Thank you so much for volunteering to do yoga over the past couple years. It has truly been wonderful and I hope to stay in touch in the future.'' (Scharf provided the e-mail exchange to The Post, but removed the name of the representative so the person could not be identified, saying: ''I don't want to get anyone in trouble.'' A message sent to the representative's e-mail address was not immediately returned.)
Scharf was sorry to hear of the cancellation '-- attributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the University of Ottawa Student Federation, which describes itself as the ''instrument of political action'' for the undergraduate population at the university.
''That's disappointing news for sure, is there someone I can speak to about this?'' she wrote. ''Do you know why the decision was made? I don't mind doing it for free so if money is a concern, that's no problem.''
Money was not a concern, however. Culture was.
[Outlook: Five myths about yoga]
''I think that our centre agreed '... that while yoga is a really great idea, accessible and great for students, that there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,'' the response read. ''I have heard from a couple students and volunteers that feel uncomfortable with how we are doing yoga while we claim to be inclusive at the same time.''
Explaining that yoga has a fraught history, the representative continued.
''Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from,'' the e-mail read. ''Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.''
The upshot: no more down dog.
''For the moment we would just like to pause the programming also because we are very short on staff and do not have the capacity to do this as programming,'' the representative wrote. ''But in the future (after we have reflected on which kinds of exercise are more inclusive for our centre).'' The e-mail concluded: ''It is not something that is easy to explain. It is a sensitive topic for some people that use our Centre and I would just like to respect that for the moment.''
Scharf said she understood, but tried to emphasize that her class was ''just stretching.''
''Yoga in its truest form is not a religion and is practiced by many religions,'' Scharf wrote back. ''I would never want to culturally impose anything.'' She added: ''I do wish I had been consulted on this decision because yoga has become a fixture for many students, who come back year on year and are happy to have the option of a free class that they feel good after doing.''
Scharf speculated that the problem might be the branding.
''What do you think about having a class that is just stretching for mental health?'' she wrote. ''We don't have to call it yoga (because that's not really what we are doing, we are just stretching). I think that will work because it would literally change nothing about the class. '... I know some people are offended but I am sure we can change it so that everyone feels included. If there is anything else I can do to help out, please let me know.''
The representative seemed okay with change: ''I believe this is super important and I apologize for what I said before and being so abrupt about it,'' a response to Scharf read.
It continued: ''I think that keeping some kind of weekly fitness programming for people with disabilities to access on campus is very essential. '... Maybe if we could work out doing some kind of fitness classes if you were still willing we could talk a bit about moving away from what is considered yoga and make it exercise and stretching for people with disabilities.''
Scharf was game.
''I'm totally up for making it a simple stretching class for people with disabilities,'' she wrote. '''... There wouldn't need to be any change to the content of the courses because I don't use the posture names and don't refer to yogic mysticism. Now that I am aware that this is a sensitivity, I can just leave all yoga-ness out.''
Yet, in the end, it didn't happen.
''The higher-ups at the student federation got involved, finally we got an e-mail routed through the student federation basically saying they couldn't get a French name and nobody wants to do it, so we're going to cancel it for now,'' Scharf told CBC.
In a French-language interview with Radio Canada, student federation president Rom(C)o Ahimakin said there were no direct complaints about the class. Instead, it was ended as part of a review of all programs ''to make them more interesting, accessible, inclusive and responsive to the needs of students,'' as the CBC noted. The class could return in January, he added.
Some members of the student federation questioned the action.
''I am also still of the opinion that a single complaint does not outweigh all of the good that these classes have done,'' Julie Seguin, a student federation official, told the Ottawa Sun, defending the use of the world ''yoga.'' '''... Labeling the [center's] yoga lessons as cultural appropriation is questionable [and] debatable.''
Yoga, however, has been questioned outside of Ontario before.
''As the multi-billion dollar yoga industry continues to grow with studios becoming as prevalent as Starbucks and $120 yoga pants, the mass commercialization of this ancient practice, rooted in Hindu thought, has become concerning,'' according to the Web site of the Hindu American Foundation, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., with an initiative called ''Take Back Yoga.'' ''With proliferation of new forms of 'yoga,' the underlying meaning, philosophy, and purpose of yoga are being lost,'' reads a Web page for the initiative.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to take yoga back for almost a year now. His nation even has a yoga minister.
''There is little doubt about yoga being an Indian art form,'' Shripad Yesso Naik said in December. ''We're trying to establish to the world that it's ours.''
[Modi aims to rebrand and promote yoga in India]
The Ottawa controversy '-- just one of many involving colleges and alleged political correctness '-- was widely reported, and picked up by at least one Canadian conservative news site.
''The day yoga needs a safe space is the day parody meets reality,'' the Rebel wrote. ''That day has come.''
Scharf, as perhaps befits a yogi, seemed calm in the face of the unfolding controversy.
''The burden of being angry was lifted from me,'' she said. ''Everyone already had that covered.''
Meanwhile, the CBC tracked down some local Hindus who were not offended.
''If you look at what the Western world has adapted it is just phenomenal,'' Dilip Waghray, who's been practicing yoga for 50 years, said at the Hindu Temple of Ottawa-Carleton. ''Imagine how much good they're doing for themselves. They'll live a long and very happy life.''
Perhaps the Centre for Students with Disabilities is listening. At press time, the class remained listed on its Web site.
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Yoga class canceled at Canada university over 'culture' - NY Daily News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 01:04
shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphotoYoga students in Canada had to roll up their mats for good this fall after worries over the practice's ''cultural issues'' led the University of Ottawa to cancel class.
Instructor Jen Scharf learned in September that the school had cancelled her free, beginning yoga class, which is designed to include people with disabilities.
In an email, a member of the school's Student Federation wrote to Scharf that students didn't feel comfortable appropriating the ancient practice, which began in India thousands of years ago.
''Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from,'' read the email to Scharf, which was obtained by the Washington Post.
Scharf did not disclose the name of the student leader who emailed her.
''Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga,'' read the email.
The email went on to explain that students and volunteers ''feel uncomfortable with how we are doing yoga while we claim to be inclusive at the same time.''
Some Hindus have said they are unhappy with the way yoga, a practice that is rooted in their faith, has become popular in the West. The Hindu American Foundation, for example, has started a campaign called ''Take back yoga'' that aims to fight the commercialization of the practice.
Scharf says she just wants to offer her students the practice's health benefits.
Scharf told CBC News that she suggested changing the name of the course and making it clear that she would just be offering ''mindful stretching.''
"I told them, 'Why don't we just change the name of the course?' It's simple enough, just call it mindful stretching.'... We're not going through the finer points of scripture. We're talking about basic physical awareness and how to stretch so that you feel good,'' Scharf told CBC News.
In a French-language interview with Radio Canada Saturday, Rom(C)o Ahimakin, the president of the Student Federation, said that no formal complaints were ever filed about the class.
Lawyer reveals details of arrest of 'clock kid' Ahmed, plans to file suit - The Washington Post
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:58
Texas ninth grader Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb. Here's what you need to know. (The Washington Post)
Two months after ''clock kid'' Ahmed Mohamed made international headlines, new details of his controversial arrest emerged Monday in a letter his attorney has sent to school and city officials in Irving, Tex.
As many as seven adults teamed up to interrogate the 14-year-old boy after a teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb and pressured him to sign a confession, according to the ''letter of demand'' from his lawyer warning of plans to file a $15 million suit.
Ahmed's September arrest, deemed an overreaction by many observers, drew waves of sympathy and extensive news coverage; President Obama invited him to join several other science-inclined students at the White House's ''Astronomy Night'' last month.
But his family, which shortly thereafter took up a benefactor's offer to relocate to Qatar, argued in the letter that the boy's reputation has been ''permanently scarred.'' They are seeking not only financial reparations but written apologies from the city's mayor and police chief.
['Clock kid' Ahmed Mohamed and his family will move to Qatar]
''Everyone in the country and around the world believes this has been a wonderful experience for Ahmed's family, and in some ways, it has been,'' said Anthony Bond, a family friend. ''But now they are settled in Qatar, they have realized they are tremendously traumatized.''
The letters elaborate on the timeline of the arrest, which set the Internet into a frenzy and changed a 14-year-old boy's life forever. Though the family left the United States in October, the story is still reverberating in Ahmed's hometown, where a group carrying guns and anti-Muslim signs staged a protest outside a mosque this past weekend.
Religion and race were at the center of the controversy over Ahmed's arrest. For some, it amounted to the unfair profiling of a young Muslim of Sudanese descent, while others saw his case as a bid for media attention.
['They thought it was a bomb': 9th-grader arrested after bringing a home-built clock to school]
The letter of demand alleges that officials at Ahmed's school never really thought that his homemade clock, assembled from ''spare parts and scrap pieces he had around the house,'' was a bomb. Attorneys claim that Ahmed showed it to another teacher earlier in the day without consequence. But in his English class, a teacher told him it ''looked like'' a bomb.
''The basis for Ms. West's actions is unclear. She certainly did not treat the clock as though it were dangerous. Ms. West initially placed the clock on her desk,'' the letter states.
Ahmed was escorted out of class and taken to a room where five Irving Police Department officers, the principal and assistant principal performed an ''interrogation,'' attorneys said. He was not permitted to contact his parents and was ''pressured to sign a written statement admitting that he intended to bring a 'hoax bomb' to school.'' The letter states that the principal threatened that he would be expelled if he did not sign the confession.
An Irving School District spokeswoman said the district received the letter of demand this morning and that its own lawyers would ''respond as appropriate, as with any legal matter,'' but otherwise offered no comment. A spokeswoman for the the city said officials were reviewing the letter and could not comment yet.
Attorneys blame the school district and the city for ''stoking the flames'' and placing blame on Ahmed even after it was decided he would not be criminally charged and his ''suspicious-looking item'' was not a threat.
A week after the arrest, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne told Glenn Beck that another side of the story was not being told. She referred to the item as a ''hoax bomb,'' not a clock, and said that Ahmed was not cooperative during questioning by police.
''He told a lot more to the reporters than he ever told to the police,'' Van Duyne said. ''There's a problem with that. If your child was in that school and you saw something like this come in, you would want to make sure it is our priority to make our children safe in school, period.''
The family is demanding an apology from Van Duyne and others involved because they would like to return to Irving, attorney Kelly Hollingsworth said.
''Qatar is nice, but it is not Texas. That is their attitude toward this,'' Hollingsworth said. ''They are citizens of Irving, Texas, USA, first. Are they devout people devoted to their faith? Absolutely. But they are Texans, too, and they want to come home. What we are seeking is for them to be able to do that with their heads held high.''
Hollingsworth's letter paints a picture of the unpredictable consequences of going viral in 2015. When Ahmed woke up on Sept. 14, he was a normal, unknown teenager. By that evening, he had been recognized by President Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and thousands of people who chimed in on the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed.
But the Internet backlash was loud and persistent: The demand letter states that one blog post superimposed Ahmed's face on an image of Osama bin Laden and described him as a ''little terrorist in training''; other people posted the Mohamed family's home address on Twitter.
Meanwhile, some detractors have claimed that the entire incident was a publicity stunt planned by Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan, a former candidate for the presidency of Sudan '-- or that the ''homemade clock'' was actually a store-bought model, not a work of precocious ingenuity.
''The generosity and support Ahmed has received has been very much appreciated, but what the system has to do is try to find a way to redress him,'' Hollingsworth said. ''What's the effect of this young man having his reputation in the global community scarred for the rest of his life?''
Jessica Contrera is a staff writer at the Washington Post.
Comcast Can Interrupt Your Web Browsing With Warnings About Potentially Illegal File-Sharing '' Consumerist
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:57
Did you miss last night's episode of The Walking Dead (where they finally reveal that Glenn shot J.R., but didn't kill Laura Palmer) because you don't have cable and just plan on grabbing a pirated version of it from the Internet? If you're a Comcast customer who has been flagged a potential copyright violator, your web-browsing experience may be interrupted with pop-up warnings.
Last week, a developer and Comcast user posted the above screengrab to GitHub, showing how Comcast is now injecting these warnings into customer's web browsers when they believe that some sort of illegal file-sharing may have occurred.
The warnings appear to be an extension of the existing Copyright Alert System, better known as ''Six Strikes,'' that sends alleged violators a half-dozen ''stop doing that'' notices until eventually deciding whether to penalize the customer by throttling their data speed or terminating their access.
But rather than a letter, e-mail, or phone call, Comcast is stepping into the middle of your browsing of a non-Comcast site to communicate with you. The company tells ZDNet that it outlined its use of such alerts several years back in this white paper.
Even if you don't do any questionable file-sharing, the developer who posted the grab to GitHub tells ZDNet that Comcast's ability to modify content on unencrypted connections may lead to ''scarier scenarios where this could be used as a tool for censorship, surveillance, [or] selling personal information.''
It appears that the notices only show up on sites with standards HTTP connections (as opposed to the more secure HTTPS) are vulnerable to these interruptions. As Neowin points out, there are ways to increase your use of HTTPS, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation's HTTPS Everywhere plugin for Chrome and Firefox.
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Oops: CAIR Spokesman Misspeaks'... Compulsion To Confess? Tammy Bruce
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:53
Uh oh.
This dude's slip is showing'...
Via NewsBusters:
An appearance'...on Alan Colmes' radio show went from bad to barely better for a spokesman with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida CAIR branch at Tampa, made an earnest attempt to separate Islamic fanatics responsible for last week's carnage in Paris from genuine Muslims, despite a revealing gaffe right out of the gate.
Shibly was following the predictable left-wing script in calling for Americans to remain ''united'' in fighting jihadists when he was forced to correct himself''
COLMES (after introducing Shibly as representing the ''Center for'' American-Islamic Relations): It saddens me, the number of incidents we've seen over the last week since the Paris attacks, of bigotry toward Muslims in the United States. You've got to be really dumbfounded by this.
SHIBLY: It's been horrific. I mean, my office alone has been dealing with about half a dozen hate crimes'....
And it really brought out of the woodworks a lot of xenophobia, a lot of Islamophobia, that's really serving to undermine our nation. What hurts me as an American Muslim is we really just cannot allow our enemies abroad to divide us here at home 'cause if we do we let the terrorists win. We have to stand united against Americans, uh, uh, sorry, we have to stand united as Americans against our common enemy which is terrorist, violence, fear and hate.
Oopsie'...
Did you know that you have taste buds on your anus? | Sciencedump
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:39
And you have them on even more stranger places, like for example your testicles.
Did you know that you have taste buds in places you probably don't want them to have, like for example your anus? I think doing a number two wouldn't be the same now you know this. But there are some other strange places with taste receptors, like your testicles, if you're one of those that is blessed with the godly gift. And recently researchers have discovered why you have taste buds on those strange places
In a recently published article, the researchers state that the finally have found out why you have taste receptors on for example your testicles. It turns out they play a vital role in the fertility of men.
I will not bother you with all the research details, but it boils down to the fact that the researchers bred mice without sweet and umami receptors. Unfortunately, they will never be able to enjoy sushi or candy '' probably the most tasteful things in the world '' but anyway. The scientists discovered that the mice without the receptors weren't able to procreate. Eventually more research revealed that this was all due to the fact that the taste buds on the testicles weren't functioning as the should.
Eventually this discovery could lead to better understanding of infertility and perhaps even to a male contraceptive pill. A thing I probably wouldn't use, because with disabled sweet or umami receptors the world would be less tasteful.
NPR is graying, and public radio is worried about it - The Washington Post
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:35
As NPR came of age in the 1980s, its audience matured with it. Three decades later, that is starting to look like a problem.
Many of the listeners who grew up with NPR are now reaching retirement age, leaving NPR with a challenge: How can it attract younger and middle-aged audiences '-- whose numbers are shrinking '-- to replace them?
NPR's research shows a growing gulf in who is listening to the likes of ''Morning Edition'' and ''All Things Considered,'' the daily news programs that have propelled public radio for more than 30 years. Morning listening has dropped 11 percent overall since 2010, according to Nielsen research that NPR has made public; afternoon listening is down 6 percent over the same period.
Perhaps more troubling are the broader demographic trends. NPR's signal has gradually been fading among the young. Listening among ''Morning Edition's'' audience, for example, has declined 20 percent among people under 55 in the past five years. Listening for ''All Things Considered'' has dropped about 25 percent among those in the 45-to-54 segment.
The growth market? People over 65, who were increasing in both the morning and afternoon hours.
The graying of NPR, and the declines overall, are potentially perilous to the public radio ecosystem. NPR, based in Washington, serves programs to nearly 900 ''member'' stations, which rely in large part on financial contributions from their listeners. The stations, in turn, kick back some of their pledge-drive dollars to NPR to license such programs as ''Car Talk,'' ''Fresh Air'' and ''Morning Edition'' (federal tax dollars supply only a small part of stations' annual budgets, and virtually none of NPR's).
But as audiences drift to newer on-demand audio sources such as podcasts and streaming, the bonds with local stations '-- and the contributions that come with them '-- may be fraying.
''It's a problem, and no one has really figured out what to do about it,'' said Jeff Hansen, the program director at Seattle public station KUOW (94.9 FM). He noted that public radio was invented by people in their 20s in the 1970s, largely at stations funded by colleges and universities. ''What they didn't realize at the time was that what they were inventing was programming for people like themselves '-- baby boomers with college degrees.''
That audience has largely stayed loyal. The median age of public radio listeners has roughly tracked the median age of baby boomers. The median NPR listener was 45 years old in 1995; now he or she is 54, according to Tom Thomas, co-chief executive of the Station Resource Group, a public-radio strategy and research consortium. ''The [aging] trend has been gentle and continuous for the last 20 years,'' he said.
To shore up its appeal to a younger crowd, NPR's contemporary managers say that they are going where younger ears are, both via digital technology and with programming that has younger people in mind. Although radio is still, by far, the dominant way to listen, NPR's distribution chain now includes podcasts, Web text and streams, satellite broadcasting and social media.
Among its news initiatives, NPR in October and early November launched a series on the lives of 15-year-old girls around the world; it played on all of NPR's news shows and on NPR.org. NPR also has attempted to foster a community of younger listeners through ''Generation Listen,'' a Web site that features audio and text stories, as well as news of community events hosted by young NPR listeners.
In more subtle changes, NPR added two new, younger hosts '-- Ari Shapiro and Kelly McEvers '-- to ''All Things Considered'' this summer, joining 68-year-old Robert Siegel. And it promoted Michel Martin, an African American woman who is the former host of ''Tell Me More'' (canceled last year) and now hosts ''Weekend All Things Considered.'' Editorial Director Michael Oreskes said the anchor reset is ''an invitation to both traditional listeners and new ones to think about the programs in new ways.''
Some of the other brand-name talent at NPR illustrates the situation: Talk-show host Diane Rehm is 79; senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer is 72; legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg is 71, and ''Weekend Edition Saturday'' host Scott Simon is a relative youngster at 63.
Last year, the organization launched a mobile app, NPR One, that streams both national and local public-radio stories via smartphones and tablets. NPR said downloads of the app have been growing, but it hasn't released figures (notably, ''Serial'' '-- the massively popular and critically praised podcast '-- was produced not by NPR but by an independent public-radio organization, Chicago Public Media's ''This American Life'').
''If someone has decided that their phone is a better way to get information than their radio, we're not going to change their mind,'' said Oreskes, a former New York Times and Associated Press editor. ''So our goal is to be there for them, wherever they are.''
Overall, audiences are growing on digital devices, said Emma Carrasco, NPR's senior vice president for audience development. She estimated that 32 million people per week, about 1 in 10 people in the nation, hear or read (via NPR.org) something NPR has produced.
But it is unclear whether digital sources can fully replace the declining broadcast radio audience. No one knows, for example, how many people actually listen to the podcasts they download, or whether podcasts '-- still a small share of all listening '-- are a passing fad or an enduring format.
What's more, NPR has to strike a sometimes awkward balance with its digital forays. By sending its programs directly to listeners via digital means, it risks bypassing and even competing with the stations that broadcast those shows '-- and supply the dollars that enable NPR to produce them in the first place.
''If I love [an NPR program] and I happen to be in the car, I may send money to my local station to thank them for the content,'' says Larry Rosin, president of Edison Research, which analyzes audience data. ''If I listen to the same program [via non-broadcast sources], who do I give money to? It does tend to break the logical chain'' of contributions. ''That's what happens when an industry is disrupted.''
NPR has shown that it can move the needle on its franchise programs. A sustained promotional campaign paid off with a modest 2 percent gain in the audience for ''Morning Edition'' during the first six months of this year, Carrasco said.
The bad news, however, is that the radio part of public radio may be in slow and irreversible decline, a fate faced by newspapers, TV stations and other kinds of ''legacy'' media in the digital age.
To see this happening, people at NPR's headquarters on North Capitol Street NW need look no further than across town to WAMU (88.5 FM), the public station operated by American University.
The station, perpetually one of the strongest in the public radio system, has been gradually cutting back after running in the red for the past three years. In fiscal 2015, ended in April, the station's annual operating deficit was $2.58 million, a 52 percent increase over 2014 and more than twice that of 2013.
WAMU has experienced an 11 percent decrease in listening among its crucial morning-drive audience and a 9 percent decline during afternoon hours over the past three years, according to internal figures.
In January, the station laid off two full-time staffers and four part-timers, including Mary Cliff, who hosted a weekly folk and bluegrass music program called ''Traditions.'' It also dropped a locally produced Saturday program called ''Animal House.'' The station cut the frequency of its traffic reports last year, and dropped them altogether earlier this month, along with veteran traffic reporter Jerry Edwards. Familiar news voices Elliott Francis and Meymo Lyons left the station in recent months as well.
''As long as people are in their cars, they're still going to want the sense of community and local connection'' that radio provides, said Lettie Holman, WAMU's program director. ''But we have to be realistic about the fact that, overall, people are listening to the radio less and less. That does beg the question of what the sustainability is for the entire public radio system. We have to find diverse revenue streams. We have to find alternative revenue streams.''
Paul Farhi is The Washington Post's media reporter.
Noble Energy inks deal with BG in Cyprus project, furthers goal of Knesset approval for Israel offshore project - Houston Business Journal
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 23:16
"The sale of these assets is an important step in realizing the government of Israel's goal to bring in a new operator to develop these natural gas fields, which will compete for sales with Tamar and Leviathan," Noble Energy said in comments emailed to the Houston Business Journal. "Tamar and Leviathan are, and will remain, operated by Noble Energy."
Noble sold its stakes in the Alon A and Alon C licenses to Israel-based Delek Group Ltd. for a deal valued at $73 million. That's slightly less than the $78 million the company had reportedly invested in Tanin and Karish as of Sept. 30, according to its third-quarter earnings report. The deal also accomplishes transferring the responsibility of selling the Tanin and Karish fields squarely to Delek Group, which the company sees as expediting the process of meeting the framework agreement requirements, said Noble.
Tanin and Karish must be sold to a third party as per the framework agreement. The still-remaining elements of the agreement include Noble downsizing its stake in the Tamar gas field to 25 percent. As of February, the company stake in Tamar was 36 percent.
More imminent is Noble's meeting the requirement that it consult with Israel's Knesset Economic Committee, which the company said in its emailed comments would be completed in the coming weeks.
Once Leviathan comes online, the framework agreement also stipulates that the prices at which Noble sells the gas it yields must be capped for domestic customers, the Times of Israel reported.
"With a framework in place, Noble Energy can move forward with reconvening project and execution teams, completing negotiation of gas sales contracts to regional customers that have been waiting for clarity on Noble Energy's ability to deliver natural gas in a timely manner, and securing the external financing necessary to enable a final investment decision," Noble said in its emailed comments. "With the framework in place now, Noble Energy anticipates making (final investment decisions) by the end of 2016."
"It will take approximately three and one-half to four years from FID for construction and field development before first production commences from Leviathan," Noble went on to say.
The announcement of the sale was accompanied by the announcement of Noble inking a farm-out agreement with BG International Ltd., a subsidiary of London-based BG Group PLC. Under the terms of the farm-out agreement, BG will acquire a 35 percent stake in the Block 12, which includes the Aphrodite natural gas discovery, off the coast of Cyprus for a total cash consideration of $165 million. Noble Energy will continue to operate Block 12 with a 35 percent stake, according to a statement the company released announcing the agreement.
Suzanne Edwards covers energy for the Houston Business Journal. Follow her on Twitter for more.
Pro-IS Tumblr Accounts Renew Call for Lone Wolf Attacks
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 22:41
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.
Pro-Islamic State (IS) Tumblr users circulated an entry calling for lone wolf attacks throughout Europe and the West.
Register to read more ...
Presidential Proclamation -- National Family Week, 2015
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 22:41
NATIONAL FAMILY WEEK, 2015- - - - - - -BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAA PROCLAMATION
Across the range of diverse experiences and traditions that have been written into our Nation's story, family has remained a steadfast and common foundation. Every day, families offer comfort and support to one another with enduring and unconditional love and they contribute to their communities and our country. During National Family Week, we uplift and honor the families that give so much to forge a brighter future for themselves and for America.
All families deserve every opportunity to thrive, and the Affordable Care Act has given millions of American families the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. My Administration is dedicated to helping working families feel more secure in a constantly changing economy, and I have pushed to make paid family leave available for all, so that new parents can spend time with their newborns and still support their families. And because too many hardworking people are still forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for a sick child or an elderly relative at home, I have taken action to help States enact paid leave and paid sick leave laws of their own. Additionally, I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow working women and men to earn up to one week of paid sick leave per year -- precious time that could be used to care for themselves and their families.
Raising the minimum wage is one of the best ways to give a well-earned boost to working families. Benefiting employees, businesses, and our whole economy, raising the wage will help Americans from all walks of life breathe easier knowing they can pay their bills and provide for their loved ones at the same time. Moreover, to secure the promise of happy and healthy golden years for our Nation's seniors, we will continue working to provide more Americans with access to strong and flexible retirement plans that are stable and affordable. And because we have a sacred obligation to the men and women who give so much to defend our country and our freedom, my Administration has taken action to improve mental health care and education services for veterans, service members, and their families. Joining Forces, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, is also working to support our selfless military families by connecting them with the resources and services they deserve.
It is the responsibility of all Americans to build a country future generations will be proud of and inspired by. This week, let us reflect on and applaud the hard work, resilience, and dedication of our families. As we reminisce on warm memories and share in the joy and love family can provide, let us also pledge to lift up our loved ones and recommit to the family bonds that have strengthened the fabric of our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22 through November 28, 2015, as National Family Week. I invite all States, communities, and individuals to join in observing this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor our Nation's families.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
BARACK OBAMA
Good beer is the newest victim of climate change
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 19:52
What's This?
A worker takes a sample out of a barrel in the Cantillon gueuze brewery in Brussels,Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press
By The Associated Press2015-11-09 16:56:38 UTC
BRUSSELS '-- One of the most renowned Belgian beer brewers said Friday it is a victim of climate change because increasingly high temperatures have shortened the brewing season by about a month compared with the 1950s.
The Cantillon gueuze brewery needs to cool its hot brew in open tanks so that the natural yeasts in the air can help produce the sour beer that has developed a niche following throughout the world.
However, with temperatures staying as high as 15 C (59 F) at night during the past days, Cantillon has stopped brewing since it doesn't want to use artificial refrigeration.
"It is totally abnormal. We have those night temperatures in the summer and with such a temperature it is totally impossible to brew," Cantillon brewer Jean Van Roy said.
Scientists say the global average temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees C since the industrial revolution. The issue will be discussed at a major U.N. climate conference in Paris that opens Nov. 30.
In the Cantillon brewery in the center of Brussels, the unusually warm weather means the copper vessels that should be steaming with golden brew are empty.
"The goal was to brew yesterday, so if we did it (the vessel) would be totally full," he said. "But as you can see: totally empty," Van Roy said.
Visitors drink a gueuze beer in the Cantillon gueuze brewery in Brussels. One of the most renowned Belgian beer brewers says it is a victim of climate change because increasingly high temperatures shortened the brewing season by a month since the 1950s.
Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press
Cantillon is renowned for its traditional methods and refuses to use artificial refrigeration, which some other brewers have switched to. It makes Van Roy's brewing season totally dependent on the seasonal temperatures.
In his grandfather's days, the season would run from mid-October to early May. "We are beginning right now, mainly in November, to end in the end of March or early April," Van Roy said.
"We are losing more than one month and if it continues we will lose maybe two months and that is certainly do to the global warming," he said.
Even Brazilians are hunkering for a dip in temperatures. "I am hoping that we get cold, so that they can start the production very soon," said Brazilian visitor Francisco Romanini.
An empty open cooling vessel in the Cantillon gueuze brewery in Brussels.
Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press
Topics: Business, Climate, Social Good
Does Donald Trump Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder? | Psychology Today
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 19:48
This is my first opinion column. Please put your opinions in the comments section.
EDITED TO ADD: Some people have commented that mental health professionals are forbidden to talk about the mental health of famous people. In the comments, I explained that I am a journalist whose specialty is cluster B disorders.
Jeffrey Kluger, a senior editor and writer at TIME, wrote the book The Narcissist Next Door, which TIME excerpted and featured on its cover with a closer look at ...Donald Trump.
See http://time.com/3992363/trump-narcissism/
EDITED TO ADD 11/12: Several therapists are so concerned about the prospect of having a president without compassion or empathy they have spoken out despite the American Psychiatric Association Guidelines. See the Vanity Magazine article at http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists.
..............................................................................................................................
All hail grandiose narcissist Donald Trump. Now that the GOP debates are over, I don't think he's made the front page in a couple of weeks. So now I think I can bear to post this blog post I wrote a month ago. Before I just couldn't be one more person talking about Donald Trump.
So we all know Trump is a narcissist of the "malignant" garden variety type. But does he have narcissistic personality disorder? The answer might surprise you.
NARCISSIST VS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDERFirst, we have to look at the difference between a narcissist and a person with narcissisticpersonality disorder. People often get them confused.
Narcissism is often interpreted in popular culture as a person who's in love with him or herself. We think of narcissists as someone who thinks he or she is overly important, pompous, and overblown. The joke goes: "Let's stop talking about me," says the arrogant blowhard. "Instead, let's talk about myself.
But how well does he match the clinical definition of narcissistic personality disorder?
CRITERIA FOR NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDERIf you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement '-- and when you don't receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having "the best" of everything '-- for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care. (From the Mayo Clinic)
Many narcissists like to do things to impress others by making themselves look good externally. Narcissists uses people, objects, status, and/or accomplishments to represent the self, substituting for the perceived, inadequate ''real'' self. These grandstanding ''merit badges'' are often exaggerated. The underlying message of this type of display is: ''I'm better than you!'' or ''Look at how special I am'--I'm worthy of everyone's love, admiration, and acceptance!''
To reach the level of a personality disorder, the behavior must be deeply ingrained, intense, displayed in a variety of situations, and maladaptive, causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.
Here are some NPD traits along with stories I found from various sources. I could find hundreds of stories. I picked just a few.
An exaggerated sense of self-importance and exaggerating achievements"I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created."''On social media, I'm the one that's beloved" (comparing himself to Fox reporter Megyn Kelly)
One theme that comes up again and again is Trump's acute sensitivity to being seen as a billionaire rather than a billionaire! He has sued over it again and again. Trump is so worried that people won't think he's worth he's rich enough that he nearly doubled his net worth on a form he sent to the Federal Election Commission.
Just a few months ago, a team of five people at Forbes spoke to 80 sources and determined his current wealth at 4.5 billion. Trump's form claimed he was worth was 8.7 billion, and he boasted it would be 10 billion at some unspecified time in the future. An editor from the magazine says Forbes has been battling with Trump over the exact size of his fortune for 33 years.
It's one thing to sue magazines or organizations. But Trump turned his fury on a New York Times author who wrote that at the time Trump "only" had 250 million dollars. Trump sued him for five billion dollars, accusing the author of malice despite the fact that the author had three sources.
(To give you a comparison, JK Rowling had one billion dollars until she gave too much of it away. Trump sued the NYT author for five times that much.)
We can call that one a "yes."
Obsession with image; needs to be the focus of attention Trump has made appearances as a caricatured version of himself in television series and films (e.g. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Nanny, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Days of Our Lives, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. You can also count his relentless Twittering, obsession with the media and his image.
One way to tell if a public figure is a narcissist is to see if criticisms (even minor ones) nearly always bring on an impulsive angry reaction. This is especially obvious in the Twitter age, when a fast reply is so easy.
If that person freely insults others but reacts with a "why are you trying to hurt me" type of reaction when others criticize them, it's can be a sign of entitlement (as in, "I can speak my mind about you, but if you do it to me it's just a sign you're out to get me"). See if you can name a female politician famous for this in the comments section.
A "yes" on that one as well.
Feelings of entitlem