781: Gun Disease

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 11m
December 13th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir Dwayne Melancon, David Prince

Associate Executive Producers: OMalley Land LLC

Cover Artist: Nick The Rat

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Agenda 2030
The climate negotiators will never come true full deal because then the party train ends. And you know any agreement of this magnitude the results and only 37 pages cannot be worth shit.
James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks 'a fraud' | Environment | The Guardian
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 05:50
'Many of the conservatives know climate change is not a hoax,' James Hansen says. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian
Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former Nasa scientist, considered the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanor changes.
''It's a fraud really, a fake,'' he says, rubbing his head. ''It's just bullshit for them to say: 'We'll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.' It's just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.''
The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.
Related:Paris climate talks: Obama calls Xi Jinping in final push for a deal
But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren't taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.
Paris talks overlooking immediate threats, say climate change activistsHansen, 74, has just returned from Paris where he again called for a price to be placed on each tonne of carbon from major emitters (he's suggested a ''fee'' '' because ''taxes scare people off'' '' of $15 a tonne that would rise $10 a year and bring in $600bn in the US alone). There aren't many takers, even among ''big green'' as Hansen labels environment groups.
Hansen has been a nagging yet respected voice on climate change since he shot to prominence in the summer of 1988. The Nasa scientists, who had been analyzing changes in the Earth's climate since the 1970s, told a congressional committee that something called the ''greenhouse effect'' where heat-trapped gases are released into the atmosphere was causing global warming with a 99% certainty.
A New York Times report of the 1988 testimony includes the radical suggestion that there should be a ''sharp reduction in the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide'', a plea familiar to those who have watched politicians who have traipsed up to the lectern or interviewer's microphone in Paris over the past two weeks.
After that, things started to get a little difficult for Hansen. He claims the White House altered subsequent testimony, given in 1989, and that Nasa appointed a media overseer who vetted what he said to the press. They held practice press conferences where any suggestion that fossil fuels be reduced was considered political and unscientific, and therefore should not be uttered.
''Scientists are trained to be objective,'' Hansen says. ''I don't think we should be prevented for talking about the the implications of science.'' He retired from Nasa in 2013. ''That was a source of friction. I held on longer than I wanted, by a year or two. I was in my 70s, it was time for someone else to take over. Now I feel a lot better.''
A man rides his bicycle on yellow paint poured on the street during a protest by activists from environmental group Greenpeace on the Champs-Elysee in Paris. Photograph: Christophe Ena/APFrom being possibly America's most celebrated scientist, Hansen is now probably its most prominent climate activist. He's been arrested several times in protests outside the White House over mining and the controversial Keystone pipeline extension.
He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. When he's in New York, he lives near the campus, surrounded by books piled on groaning shelves. Hansen's not slowing down '' he's involved in a climate lobbying group and still undertakes the sort of scientific endeavor which helps maintain his gravitas.
One particular paper, released in July, painted a particularly bleak future for just about anyone living near the coast. Hansen and 16 colleagues found that Earth's huge ice sheets, such as those found in Greenland, are melting faster than expected, meaning that even the 2C warming limit is ''highly dangerous''.
The sea level could soon be up to five meters higher than it is today by the latter part of this century, unless greenhouse gases aren't radically slashed, the paper states. This would inundate many of the world's cities, including London, New York, Miami and Shanghai.
''More than half of the world's cities of the world are at risk,'' Hansen says. ''If you talk to glaciologists privately they will tell you they are very concerned we are locking in much more significant sea level rises than the ice sheet models are telling us.
''The economic cost of a business as usual approach to emissions is incalculable. It will become questionable whether global governance will break down. You're talking about hundreds of million of climate refugees from places such as Pakistan and China. We just can't let that happen. Civilization was set up and developed with a stable, constant coastline.''
The paper has yet to be fully peer reviewed and some of Hansen's colleagues, including his protege at Nasa, Gavin Schmidt, have voiced their doubts whether sea level rise will be quite this bad, with the IPCC projecting up to a meter by 2100.
Brickbats are thrown in a bipartisan way. Hansen feels Obama, who has made climate change a legacy issue in his final year in office, has botched the opportunity to tackle the issue.
Related:COP21 environmental photography exhibition '' in pictures
''We all foolishly had such high hopes for Obama, to articulate things, to be like Roosevelt and have fireside chats to explain to the public why we need to have a rising fee on carbon in order to move to clean energy,'' he says. ''But he's not particularly good at that. He didn't make it a priority and now it's too late for him.''
Hansen is just as scathing of leading Republicans who have embraced climate science denialism to the chagrin of some party elders.
Leading presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson have all derided evidence that the world is warming due to human activity while Ted Cruz, another contender, has taken time out from his campaign to to sit on an inquiry into climate science that has heard testimony from a rightwing radio host who has no scientific background.
''It's all embarrassing really,'' Hansen says. ''After a while you realise as a scientist that politicians don't act rationally.
''Many of the conservatives know climate change is not a hoax. But those running for president are hamstrung by the fact they think they can't get the nomination if they say this is an issue. They wouldn't get money from the fossil fuel industry.''
There is a positive note to end on, however. Global emissions have somewhat stalled and Hansen believes China, the world's largest emitter, will now step up to provide the leadership lacking from the US. A submerged Fifth Avenue and deadly heatwaves aren't an inevitability.
''I think we will get there because China is rational,'' Hansen says. ''Their leaders are mostly trained in engineering and such things, they don't deny climate change and they have a huge incentive, which is air pollution. It's so bad in their cities they need to move to clean energies. They realise it's not a hoax. But they will need co-operation.''
Protesters mark red lines in Paris climate demo
"It's a Chinook, Leo": DiCaprio's shocking climate experience during 'The Revenant' roundly mocked by Albertans | News | Toronto Sun
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:29
Leo DiCaprio might have confused Chinook winds for climate change and Albertans are carving him over it
Terrified?
Of course we are. There's a chance there won't be any seats left on the Ship & Anchor patio.
But apparently, he's serious.
According to self-proclaimed climate champion and environmental leader Leonardo DiCaprio, warm chinooks winds have Calgarians cringing '-- not because there's the possibility of low wiper fluid or a lack of patio seats, but because we've never seen the likes of it before.
''We were in Calgary and the locals were saying, 'This has never happened in our province ever,''' DiCaprio was quoted by Variety.com.
''We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come.''
Calling these unexpected, snow-melting winds ''scary,'' DiCaprio is now using the sudden weather changes he witnessed while filming in Alberta last winter as evidence of impending climate apocalypse.
It would be hilarious, if the star of The Revenant wasn't also the head of a multimillion-dollar environmental lobby group, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and a producer of documentaries on climate change.
''You see the fragility of nature and how easily things can be completely transformed with just a few degrees difference,'' DiCaprio reportedly told an audience at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation awards, using Alberta's horrifying winter winds as proof.
''It's terrifying, and it's what people are talking about all over the world. And it's simply just going to get worse.''
Of course, that's like getting a sunburn in the Sahara Desert and directly linking your red skin to ozone depletion.
DiCaprio's overall climate concern may be valid, but the example cited makes him look like a complete idiot '-- especially for anyone who's ever heard of a chinook.
''Our team endured two unprecedented weather events that shut down the already-delayed and complicated production schedule, which I'm sure you've heard about,'' said DiCaprio, who's actually filmed here in Alberta before.
Of course, there was nothing unprecedented about it.
With temperature shifts of up to 30C in a matter of hours very common, chinook winds and their hallmark arch are anything but a cause for dread, unless you're migraine-prone and sensitive to pressure changes.
Last winter was actually pretty ordinary, as chinooks go.
Rather than terrified, southern Albertans have celebrated the breezy break from the cold for centuries '-- just as long as people have lived east of the Rocky Mountains, it seems.
If DiCaprio really got his chinook misinformation from a local, the actor should be furious.
He's been duped into looking like a dim-wit, pure and simple.
But if DiCaprio just made a broad assumption, or if he took an isolated local weather event and extrapolated it to be evidence of climate change, he deserves all of the scorn and ridicule he's so far endured.
And the mockery should come from every side.
Once again, you have a spoiled, jet-setting entertainer using half-baked notions to promote a cause that's trendy with the Hollywood elite, and like other famous folk before him, DiCaprio appears willing to twist the truth to suit his latest speech.
For those really concerned about climate change, DiCaprio does more damage than good when he shows total ignorance of how weather relates to climate, while demonstrating a total failure to research even the most basic of facts.
It casts doubt on his credibility, and makes DiCaprio's other arguments '-- even if valid '-- subject to suspicion.
Sadly for Alberta and the truth, DiCaprio's fame will likely void attempts to correct his ignorance, if the actor is even listening from the confines of his private island or luxury yacht.
Fame rules all these days, and so long as the person talking enjoys the adoration of the masses, their message will be the message that gets read, repeated and shared, no matter how dubious.
For countless Leo DiCaprio fans around the world, there now exists a place in Canada where the locals are terrified of unprecedented hot winds fuelled by climate change.
It's pure hot air, but fame trumps truth.
World Leaders Just Agreed To A "Historic" Climate Accord... Which Is Non-Binding And Has No Enforcement Language
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:02
Great news! The "greatest threat to future generations of the world" has apparently been solved. World leaders Saturday adopted an historic international climate accord in Paris, the first-ever agreement to commit almost every country to fight climate change. However, as we knew all along and just got confirmation,the 31-page pact does not have binding language or a mechanism to force countries to live up to the promises to cut greenhouse gases emissions or provide money for developing and poor nations to cope with the effects of global warming.
Basically, COP21 was a massive taxpayer-funded boondoggle, in which "leaders" enjoyed all the perks of Paris for two weeks, burned through hundreds of millions in public funding, and created millions of tons in greenhouse gases (what do you think to private jets and government 747s use to fly?) that has achieved absolutely nothing.
In other words...
Nonetheless, leaders and the environmental community hailed the United Nations agreement has a historic turning point that has the potential to stave off the worst expected effects of global warming.
And The UN reports a large round of mutual masturbation...
The Borg press is happy, clearly having no idea that absolutely nothing just took place:
Obama was delighted that "American leadership" was responsible for an agreement that is neither binding nor enforceable, in other words, something one would write on the back of a napkin:
So, on one hand, and the hand that the same Borged media as shown in the tweet above will bombard everyone with over the next week, moments ago world leaders Saturday adopted an historic international climate accord in Paris, the first-ever agreement to commit almost every country to fight climate change.
On the other hand, the hand which will get zero mention at all, the pact has zero binding language or a mechanism to force countries to live up to the promises to cut greenhouse gases emissions or provide money for developing and poor nations to cope with the effects of global warming.
In other words, world leaders just spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds on an epic boondoggle in Paris to write a 31-page pamphlet summarizing everyone's best intentions about the future and... that's it.
* * *
So if the document is such a farce, what does it contain? This.
As The FT reports,
The latest draft says governments should stick to a previously agreed goal to keep warming below 2C from pre-industrial times and ''pursue efforts'' to stop temperatures rising more than 1.5C, a target favoured by a large number of countries at the talks but opposed by China, Saudi Arabia and others.
In order to meet this temperature goal, earlier drafts of the accord had echoed a call by G7 leaders in June for the ''decarbonisation'' of the global economy over the course of this century and a specific cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40 per cent by 2050.
This was opposed by several countries including Saudi Arabia, a leading exporter of fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide when burnt to produce energy.
In a statement explaining its position on Thursday, Saudi delegates said the agreement should ''consider all greenhouse gas emissions and not just CO2''.
Policies to reduce emissions ''must cover all sectors instead of focusing exclusively on energy'' and should not ''discriminate against any of the energy sources'', the Saudi delegates said.
In other words, the world's leaders are releasing a non-binding, long-enough-away-target-as-not-to-matter-for-any-of-those-involved-in-its-drafting document watered down to meet the needs of, drum roll please.. The Saudis.
After all the warm words of developed countries on a 1.5C limit, the new text contains no obligation to stay under this threshold. Shockingly, the text could allow for carbon emissions to continue until 2099.
If implemented, it would force companies and citizens to sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels and could herald in a transformation of the world economy. Which, judging by this week in Beijing...
If enforced by authorities, means China is heading for its very own Great Depression.
We leave it to Raul Ilargi Meijer (of The Automatic Earth) to explain the utter CON of this 'pact' that The IMF's Christine Lagarde has called "a critical step forward."
* * *
I understand some people may get offended by some of the things I have to say about this '' though not all for the same reasons either-, but please try and understand that and why the entire CON21 conference has offended me. After watching the horse and pony show just now, I thought I'd let 'er rip:
I don't know what makes me lose faith in mankind faster, the way we destroy our habitat through wanton random killing of everything alive, plants, animals and people, through pollution and climate change and blood-thirsty sheer stupidity, or if it is the way these things are being 'protested'.
I'm certainly not a climate denier or anything like that, though I do think there are questions people gloss over very easily. And one of those questions has to be that of priorities. Is there anyone who has thought over whether the COP21 stage in Paris is the right one to target in protest, whatever shape it takes? Is there anyone who doesn't think the 'leaders' are laughing out loud in -plush, fine wine and gourmet filled- private about the protests?
Protesters and other well-intended folk, from what I can see, are falling into the trap set for them: they are the frame to the picture in a political photo-op. They allow the 'leaders' to emanate the image that yes, there are protests and disagreements as everyone would expect, but that's just a sign that people's interests are properly presented, so all's well.
COP21 is not a major event, that's only what politicians and media make of it. In reality, it's a mere showcase in which the protesters have been co-opted. They're not in the director's chair, they're not even actors, they're just extras.
I fully agree, and more than fully sympathize, with the notion of saving this planet before it's too late. But I wouldn't want to rely on a bunch of sociopaths to make it happen. There are children drowning every single day in the sea between Turkey and Greece, and the very same world leaders who are gathered in Paris are letting that happen. They have for a long time, without lifting a finger. And they've done worse -if that is possible-.
The only thing standing between the refugees and even greater and more lethal carnage are a wide, even confusingly so, array of volunteers, and the people of the Greek coastguard, who by now must be so traumatized from picking up little wide-eyed lifeless bodies from the water and the beaches, they'll live the rest of their lives through sleepless nightmares.
Neither Obama nor Merkel nor Hollande will have those same nightmares. And let's be honest, will you? You weren't even there. And still, you guys are targeting a conference in Paris on climate change that features the exact same leaders that let babies drown with impunity. Drowned babies, climate change and warfare, these things all come from the same source. And you're appealing to that very same source to stop climate change.
What on earth makes you think the leaders you appeal to would care about the climate when they can't be bothered for a minute with people, and the conditions they live in, if they're lucky enough to live at all? Why are you not instead protesting the preventable drownings of innocent children? Or is it that you think the climate is more important than human life? That perhaps one is a bigger issue than the other?
Moreover, the very same leaders that you for some reason expect to save the planet -which they won't- don't just let babies drown, they also, in the lands the refugees are fleeing, kill children and their parents on a daily basis with bombs and drones. Dozens, hundreds, if not thousands, every single day. That's how much they care for a 'healthy' planet (how about we discuss what that actually is?).
And in the hallways of the CON21 conference they've been actively discussing plans to do more of the same, more killing, more war. Save the world, bombs away! That's their view of the planet. And they're supposed to save 'the climate'?
There are a number of reasons why the CON21 conference will not move us one inch towards saving this planet. One of the biggest is outlined in just a few quoted words from a senior member of India's delegation -nothing new, but a useful reminder.
India Opposes Deal To Phase Out Fossil Fuels By 2100
India would reject a deal to combat climate change that includes a pledge for the world to wean itself off fossil fuels this century, a senior official said, underlying the difficulties countries face in agreeing how to slow global warming.
India, the world's third largest carbon emitter, is dependent on coal for most of its energy needs, and despite a pledge to expand solar and wind power has said its economy is too small and its people too poor to end use of the fossil fuel anytime soon. ''It's problematic for us to make that commitment at this point in time. It's certainly a stumbling block (to a deal),'' Ajay Mathur, a senior member of India's negotiating team for Paris, told Reuters in an interview this week.
''The entire prosperity of the world has been built on cheap energy. And suddenly we are being forced into higher cost energy. That's grossly unfair,'' he said.
This means the 'poorer' countries, -by no means just India; China has 155 more coal plants in the pipeline despite their pollution levels moving 'beyond index'-, the poorer counties won't volunteer to lower their emissions unless richer nations lower theirs even a lot more. US per capita emissions are over 10 times higher than India's, those of the EU six times. Ergo: Step 1: lower US emissions by 90%. It also means that richer nations won't do this, because it would kill their economies.
Which, in case you haven't noticed, are already doing very poorly, much worse than the media -let alone politicians- will tell you. In fact, the chances that the richer countries will 'recover' from the effects of their debt binge are about on par with those of renewable energy sources becoming cheaper than fossil fuels -barring subsidies. If only because producing them depends entirely on those same fossil fuels. All the rest of what you hear is just con.
The people of India obviously know it, and you might as well. It's going to cost many trillions of dollars to replace even a halfway substantial part of our fossil energy use with renewables, and we already don't have that kind of money today. We will have much less tomorrow.
Besides, despite all the talk of Big Oil turning into Big Energy, Shell et al are not energy companies, they're oil -and gas- companies, and they'll defend their (near) monopolies tooth and claw. Especially now that their market caps are sinking like so many stones. They have no money left to invest in anything, let alone an industry that's not theirs. They lost some $250 billion in 'value' this week alone. They're getting killed.
In the same vein, China can't close more than a token few of its most polluting plants. China's getting killed economically. And for all nations and corporations there's one principle that trumps all: competitive advantage. If going 'green' means losing that, or even some of it, forget it. We won't volunteer to go green if it makes us less rich.
And who do you think represents big oil -and the bankers that finance them- more than anyone else? Right, your same leaders again, who make you pay for the by now very extensive and expensive security details that keep them from having to face you. Just like they're planning to make you pay dearly for the illusion of a world running on renewables.
Because that's where the profit is: in the illusion.
Whatever makes most money is what will drive people's, corporations', and nations' actions going forward. Saving energy and/or substituting energy sources is not what makes most money, and it will therefore not happen. Not on any meaningful scale, that is.
There will be attempts to force people to pay through the nose to soothe their consciences -which will be very profitable for those on the receiving end-, but people's ability to pay for this is shrinking fast, so that won't go anywhere.
The only thing that could help save this planet is for all westerners to reduce their energy use by 90%+, but, though it is theoretically and technically feasible, it won't happen because the majority of us won't give up even a part of our wealth, and the powers that be in today's economies refuse to see their profits (re: power) and those of their backers go up in -ever hotter- air.
The current economic model depends on our profligate use of energy. A new economic model, then, you say? Good luck with that. The current one has left all political power with those who profit most from it. And besides, that's a whole other problem, and a whole other issue to protest.
If you're serious about wanting to save the planet, and I have no doubt you are, then I think you need to refocus. COP21 is not your thing, it's not your stage. It's your leaders' stage, and your leaders are not your friends. They don't even represent you either. The decisions that you want made will not be made there.
There will be lofty declarations loaded with targets for 2030, 2050 and 2100, and none of it will have any real value. Because none of the 'leaders' will be around to be held accountable when any of those dates will come to pass.
An imploding global economy may be your best shot at lowering emissions. But then again, it will lead to people burning anything they can get their hands on just to keep warm. Not a pretty prospect either. To be successful, we would need to abandon our current political and economic organizational structures, national governments and 'up', which select for the sociopaths that gather behind their heavy security details to decide on your future while gloating with glee in their power positions.
Better still, we should make it impossible for any single one of them to ever be elected to any important position ever again. For now, though, our political systems don't select for those who care most for the world, or its children. We select for those who promise us the most wealth. And we're willing to turn a blind eye to very many things to acquire that wealth and hold on to it.
The entire conference is just an exercise in ''feel good'', on all sides. Is there anyone out there who really thinks the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson will do anything at all to stop this world from burning to the ground? You have any idea what their ecological footprints are?
Sometimes I think it's the very ignorance of the protesting side that dooms this planet. There's a huge profit-seeking sociopathic part of the equation, which has caused the problems in the first place, and there's no serious counterweight in sight.
Having these oversized walking talking ego's sign petitions and declarations they know they will never have to live up to is completely useless. Branson will still fly his planes, Gates will keep running his ultra-cooled server parks, and Obama and Merkel will make sure their economies churn out growth ahead of anything else. Every single country still demands growth. Whatever gains you make in terms of lower emissions will be nullified by that growth.
And in the hallways, 'smart' entrepreneurs stand ready to pocket a 'smart' profit from the alleged switch to clean energy. At the cost of you, the taxpayer. And you believe them, because you want to, and because it makes you feel good. And you don't have the knowledge available to dispute their claims (hint: try thermodynamics).
You're seeking the cooperation of people who let babies drown and who incessantly bomb the countries these babies and their families were seeking to escape.
I'm sorry, I know a lot of you have a lot of emotion invested in this, and it's a good emotion, and you're thinking this conference is really important and all, and our 'last chance' to save the planet. But you've been had, it's as simple as that. And co-opted. And conned.
And it's not the first time, either. All these conferences go the same way. To halt the demise of the planet, you can't rely on the same people who cause it. Never works.
* * *
And now we can sit back and calculate how many million tons of greenhouse gasses the private and government jets that ferried world leaders to (and soon, from) Paris, burned to get this epic farce "signed."
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How I was vaporised by the BBC's Green Gestapo, writes QUENTIN LETTS | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 01:46
Quentin Letts made the Radio 4 programme, What's The Point Of The Met Office?, earlier this year
George Orwell devised the word 'unperson' to describe someone who had so offended official thought, he or she was vaporised '-- not just liquidated but wiped from the record for eternity.
That way the unperson couldn't set a bad example.
All memory of the impertinence would be forgotten, Comrades!
Orwell was satirising Stalin's Russia, where such practices were all too common.
When a Politburo member called Nikolai Yezhov, People's Commissar for Water Transport, fell out of favour with Joseph Stalin in 1940, he was not just killed.
A photograph of him beside Stalin in happier days was doctored to remove all trace of the unfortunate Yezhov. It was as though he had never existed.
And he was not the only one.
Though the circumstances are less dramatic, I am at present feeling a few twinges of solidarity with Yezhov.
Earlier this year, I made a jaunty little Radio 4 programme called What's The Point Of The Met Office?
Last week, after a bizarre and focused lobbying campaign from environmental activists, the programme was removed from the BBC's iPlayer playback facility.
To adapt Orwell, What's The Point Of The Met Office? became an un-programme.
One moment it was there, available to licence fee-payers to hear at their convenience. The next? Ker-whack! It disappeared as surely as one of those Islamist-owned oil derricks in Syria snotted by an RAF Paveway missile. Ladies and gentlemen, the Left had struck. I had been censored, expunged, deleted or 'dealt with', as RAF types put it.
The experience was baffling rather than upsetting. The programme had only ever been intended as a light summer diversion, yet it was mistaken for some sort of attack on the Establishment's global warming theory.
I am writing about it now simply because the media story in which I have unwittingly found myself reflects a worrying rise of intolerance in our public life, and because the response of BBC executives and the BBC Trust, the governing body responsible for acting in the interests of licence fee-payers, has been so astonishingly over the top.
It is as though the RAF used one of those missiles to 'deal with' an innocent old bloke selling hummus by the side of the road in Raqqa.
The rumpus, ignited by a few eco-activists and fuelled by a mad BBC bureaucracy, has demonstrated the sort of foot-stamping insistence on orthodoxy not seen during peacetime since Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth in the 17th century.
Removed: Last week, after what Letts describes as a 'bizarre and focused lobbying campaign from environmental activists', the programme was removed from the BBC's iPlayer playback facility
It has been most peculiar and most un-British '-- and absurdly comical.
The offending broadcast was one half-hour programme in my seventh series of What's The Point Of...?
In the established style of these summer shows, it took a chatty, personal look at a British institution.
In past programmes, for example, we have looked at the Royal Warrant (the system by which firms are officially recognised for supplying royal households), the Tate Gallery and the National Trust.
The tone of the continuity announcer's introduction before a What's The Point Of...? usually prepares listeners for a quirky affair.
In these programmes I try to reflect both admiration for the institution under analysis and any grumbles that may exist about it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Left had struck. I had been censored, expunged, deleted or 'dealt with', as RAF types put it
The shows are not particularly lucrative for me but they are fun to make. If they are amusing, that is thanks chiefly to the creative flair of my producers at the BBC's Ethics and Religion department in Manchester.
What's The Point Of The Met Office? looked at the history of weather-forecasting in Britain, going back to the days when the Victorians set out to reduce the number of shipping disasters by predicting conditions off our coasts.
We interviewed an archivist, various amateur weather buffs and people whose livelihoods could be affected by bad weather.
The show began with a fruity clip from the Royal Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire, where a farmer with a wonderful rustic burr ruminated on old rural superstitions about the weather. We chatted to Jeremy Corbyn's charming meteorologist brother, Piers '-- an expert on sunspots and one of the most untidy men I've met. He argued that the 'purpose latched' onto the Met Office was 'to promote and defend and propagate the man-made climate change theory'.
We also talked to John Kettley, who told us about fan-mail he used to receive from women viewers when he was a BBC weather forecaster. Oh, and we spoke to some Westminster voices: a man from the Taxpayers' Alliance who had his doubts about the Met Office being owned by the State (as it is), and three MPs.
One of these MPs said how marvellous the Met Office's shipping forecast was.
Two of them were critical of the Met Office lobbying politicians on climate change. We ended with a long talk with a Met Office spokeswoman, who eloquently defended her employer.
The programme looked at the history of weather-forecasting in Britain, going back to the days when the Victorians set out to reduce the number of shipping disasters by predicting conditions off our coasts
On a specific criticism about some climate change forecast which had proved wrong, she accepted that the senior Tory MP, Peter Lilley, who had been behind it maybe had a point.
Afterwards, off I pottered on my summer holiday '-- only to be contacted, in the middle of Greece, by my BBC colleagues in Manchester, who explained that the Green lobby was on the warpath.
One or two environmental activists were stirring up the Twittersphere about our show, as was the BBC's environmental analyst, Roger Harrabin. The BBC was panicking.
I was accused of having shown disrespect to climate change. Mr Lilley had cracked a joke: 'They [the Met Office] come before the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change . . . and tell us they need even more money for even bigger computers so they can be even more precisely wrong in future.' I chuckled. I had 'not reflected prevailing scientific opinion' about global warming.
I don't consider myself a climate change sceptic. Like, I suspect, the majority of the population, I don't know what to think about global warming
Radio 4's Feedback programme (its 'forum for comments, queries, criticisms and congratulations') gave me a biffing. I'm afraid I never heard it '-- I was in some sun-kissed taverna at the time, knocking back goodish white '-- but was told it was 'pretty savage'. Hey ho.
As a sketchwriter and theatre reviewer, I can hardly complain about criticism. Feedback presenter Roger Bolton has never been one of my fans.
Meanwhile, the BBC top brass held meetings about my allegedly scandalous programme.
Apparently we should have done more to explain the science of climate change. There was a danger that listeners were 'misled' by my interviews with Mr Lilley and Labour MP Graham Stringer, who argued that the Met Office were 'excellent' at short-term forecasts but 'very poor' at climate and medium-term predictions.
I was on the naughty step. That was the last I thought of the matter until last month, when I received a long document from the BBC Trust '-- a draft of an official inquiry into my misdeeds, complete with a conclusion that there had been a 'serious' breach of BBC rules on impartiality in my programme. I was given a few hours to offer any comments before the finding was likely to be made public.
The report, which must have cost thousands of pounds to prepare (rather more than was spent on our programme, I'd wager), included news that from the outset of the production process it had been agreed that we would never touch on climate change.
Er, hang on, chaps. No one ever told me that. Why on earth would independent journalists accept such a stricture? Why should climate change be given such special protection?
The weird thing is, I don't consider myself a climate change sceptic. Like, I suspect, the majority of the population, I don't know what to think about global warming. I approve of action to reduce environmental waste and to increase renewable energy supplies, but do I think Man is to blame for the changing climate? I don't know. I interviewed sceptics because they had something interesting to say.
It must not be allowed to pollute public opinion, even though I don't think any Radio 4 listener would have been remotely misled by it in the first place
You will have to take my word for all this because the BBC has now removed What's The Point Of The Met Office? from the airwaves.
It must not be allowed to pollute public opinion, even though I don't think any Radio 4 listener would have been remotely misled by it in the first place.
History shows that censorship is rarely effective in the long term. Books such as Lolita (Nabokov's depiction of an older professor's lust), Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Satanic Verses '-- all once the subject of attempted bans '-- went on to become bestsellers.
Officialdom is seldom more mockable than when it seeks to suppress.
The BBC should know this, having been subjected to foolish attempts by Margaret Thatcher's Government to stop Sinn Fein politicians' voices being heard in the Eighties.
This is a BBC '-- a Corporation worth defending, in my view, despite this ridiculous show-trial I have been through '-- that exists to be frank and fearless, to stand up to dictatorial forces, to divert and entertain while at the same time standing apart from Whitehall.
Using such a heavy steamroller to crush the life out of my no-doubt imperfect but innocent little programme is the behaviour not of a bastion of British liberalism, but an insidious and worrying threat to two very British qualities: common sense and freedom of expression.
'Green' Power Myths Busted: Wind 'Powered' Danes & Germans Pay Europe's Highest Power Prices By Far | STOP THESE THINGS
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 01:21
Green Mythology and the High Price of European ElectricityEnergy MattersEuan Mearns17 August 2015
The price of residential electricity in the EU is correlated with the level of renewable energy installed on a per capita basis. The data shows that more renewables leads to higher electricity bills. The notion that renewable energy is cheap is one of five Green energy myths discussed.
A few weeks ago Willis Eschenbach posting at WUWT and Jonathan Drake posting at Paul Homewood produced a chart showing a relationship between European residential electricity prices and the installed renewable energy (RE = wind + solar) per capita for a number of European countries that I have reproduced below. I thought this was one of the most interesting charts I'd seen for a while and wanted to write a post on it, but Dave Rutledge posting at Judith Curry beat me to it.
So why do I think this is important and why do we need another post? Well, the notion that RE is cheap is one of a number of Green energy myths that has become engrained in the public psyche. President Obama evidently believes that renewable electricity is cheap and expanding RE supplies was part of the medicine recommended by the IMF / EU to cure Greece's economic woes. I have been told many times by those who make their living peddling renewable hardware that RE has brought down European electricity prices. I'm afraid there is little evidence to support that notion in Figure 1. So where does the truth lie?
Figure 1 The Y-axis shows residential electricity prices for the second half of 2014 from Eurostat. The X-axis installed wind + solar capacity for 2014 as reported in the 2015 BP statistical review normalised to W per capita using population data for 2014 as reported by the UN.
***
There will most certainly be more than one variable at work in determining electricity prices in the various countries. However, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that countries with highest level of renewable penetration have the highest residential electricity prices and that it is highly likely that these high prices are caused by, to a greater or lesser extent, the high level of RE penetration. These and related data are discussed in greater detail in the second half of this post.
Green Mythology
The notion that renewable electricity is cheap is one of a number of Green Myths that have been woven into a gigantic Green lie that is undermining our society, our welfare, our institutions and the way that we think about and rationalise problems. Exposing this Green lie is part of the core raison d'ªtre of Energy Matters. Green mythology is a theme that I will return to in the months ahead. Below is a very brief summary of some prominent Green energy myths. If readers want to add to the list, feel free to do so in the comments. A ubiquitous feature of Green myths is that all have a grain of truth running through them. In Green mythology, this grain of truth becomes elevated to the whole truth and used to make false arguments either in favour of renewable energy (RE) or against the alternatives.
Myth 1 '' Nuclear Power is Unsafe
As far as I am aware there has yet to be a radiation related death in a civilian nuclear power station (note that Chernobyl was a military reactor). Normalised for power produced, nuclear power is the safest form of power generation on Earth. And yet the peddlers of Green mythology have managed to create an aura of fear around this safest form of power generation.
Like flying, nuclear power is a high risk high reliability industry. Hundreds die in air accidents all the time, but we carry on flying. Civilian nuclear power has an impeccable safety record, and yet many countries have turned their back on it, which is surprising since it is the only form of low carbon electricity that could actually power our society as it is currently configured. Business as usual is not part of the Green agenda.
Myth 2 '' Fossil Fuels are Heavily Subsidised
Yes it is true that in certain countries the price of gasoline and natural gas are subsidised by governments, this happens throughout OPEC. These governments are subsidising prices of fuel, electricity and often food, shielding their poorer citizens from high prices struck on international markets.
Subsidies paid by governments to fossil fuel production companies are minimal to non-existent. In fact, the FF companies are normally paying high taxes and subsidising the host governments quite heavily, the exact opposite of what the Green myth asserts.
Throughout the OECD it is in the renewables generators that are heavily subsidised via consumer paid levies that are tantamount to taxation on energy use. We are therefore talking about two totally different mechanisms that CANNOT be compared. Reality is the exact opposite of this green myth.[1]
Myth 3 '' Geographic Dispersion Smoothes out the Intermittency of Wind and Solar
It is undoubtedly true that The Sun is always shining and the wind is always blowing somewhere. And it is also true that geographic dispersion, connected by high performing, rather expensive HVDC cables, may help smooth out the intermittent supply. But real data demonstrates that on a reasonable geographic scale, like continental Europe, smoothing created by geographic dispersion is trivial. In reality, in general terms, when the Sun shines it is daytime over the whole of Europe and when the wind blows it can be blowing everywhere creating vast RE surpluses that have to be paid for but which cannot be used.[2, 3, 4, 5]
Myth 4 '' Combining Different RE Sources May Smooth Supply
Again in cases this can be true. Wind in the morning followed by midday Sun followed by a high tide in the afternoon may create a pseudo continuum. But equally likely is a strong sea breeze at midday, coincident with a solar peak and a midday high tide producing a vast uncontrollable spike in RE that would have to be curtailed.[6]
Myth 5 '' That RE (wind, solar and tidal power) is Cheap
I don't know how many times I have been told that RE is bringing down the price of European electricity. This is a myth born out of the market mechanism that dumps electricity spot prices at times of RE over-supply. Expensive RE dumps the price of all electricity that is subsequently sold at a loss.
This myth has been peddled with such great success that even President Obama appears to believe it.
Economics is not my strongest point and so I am unsure how exactly electricity pricing and billing works in practice. One thing I do know is that it is important to distinguish between cost and price. The RE generators are guaranteed their cost+profit regardless of spot price and this is paid for by consumers, regardless of spot price. Someone has to be left chewing losses. I'm guessing this must be the large energy companies that we all know are in deep trouble. Putting them out of business does after all lie at the core of the Green anti-capitalist plan.
The High Price of European Electricity
This is where I feel the chart shown in Figure 1 is so important as a very simple portrayal of the link between RE penetration and electricity prices in Europe. I can already hear the Green Mythologists arguing that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, which of course has a grain of truth running through it. But what they forget to point out is that more often than not a correlation is caused by a physical co-variation of the two variables plotted, in this case higher levels of renewable penetration leads to higher electricity prices. This should not come as a surprise to anyone since there are several known factors that cause the price of renewable electricity systems to rise:
High capital cost per GW of installed capacity compared with gas[7]High maintenance costs of equipmentLow load factorsHigh cost of subsidiesHigh cost of maintaining 100% back upHigh cost of load balancingHigh cost of grid up-gradesHigh cost of storageThese costs are offset but not cancelled by the low recurring cost of fuel and the net impact is clear. High renewables penetration causes high electricity prices. Ed Hoskins provides a clear picture of how these costs stitch together in his excellent report.
One may often hear the argument that wind will soon be competitive with gas and the price of solar panels is coming down. But claims such as these focus only on the installation capex and performance and ignore all of the added system costs detailed above.
In Figure 1 the PIIGS countries are highlighted in red and it is an interesting observation, also made by Dave Rutledge, that these countries have high debt (unsustainable) and struggling economies. It is a gross oversimplification to suggest that RE may have contributed to the stagnant economies of these countries, especially since Germany and Denmark have two of Europe's most successful economies.
I think we can conclude that a strong economy can withstand the pressure of high RE penetration. I think we can also conclude that high electricity prices in the PIIGS is like a tax or surcharge on the use of energy and that this will be detrimental to economic growth.
We have likely witnessed a vast misallocation of capital. Money that could have been spent promoting economic growth has instead been spent on grid destabilisation and penalising the populations of the PIIGS countries with levies.
Dave Rutledge suggested that the intercept of this plot would give the electricity price in a system with zero renewables which in Figure 1 suggests '‚¬cent 12.3 / kWh.
I wanted to try and estimate what a 100% RE system might look like and have replotted the data looking at wind + solar consumption as a percentage of total electricity consumption (Figure 2).
Assuming a linear relationship, which is unlikely to be valid, a price of '‚¬cent55 / kWh is projected. This is 4 times more expensive than a low RE system today. I'd suggest the reality could be much higher as the proportion of cheap CCGT balancing services diminishes the price of an RE system may increase exponentially.
Figure 2 This plot is a variant of Figure 1 where wind+solar consumption as a proportion of total electricity consumption is plotted on the x-axis. Linearly extrapolating to 100% indicates a price of '‚¬cents55 for a 100% renewable system. Germany stands out as an anomaly on this chart, no longer alongside Denmark. This is perhaps due to German wind having a lower load factor. It could also reflect German wind exports and or curtailments.
***
Figure 2 reveals an anomaly in that Germany no longer sits beside Denmark. Part of the explanation lies in the wind data where Germany lies on a low-performance trend. Denmark and the UK lie on a much higher performance trend (higher load factor) (Figure 3) that may reflect the higher proportion of offshore wind in those countries.
This of course is also higher cost wind, but this is a story for another day. Another part of the explanation lies in the higher deployment of solar PV in Germany that has a lower load factor than wind. Whatever happened to that German obsession with efficiency?
Figure 3 Wind consumption versus installed capacity for selected European countries. The trends are time series 2000 to 2014. Denmark and the UK, both with significant offshore wind, are on a higher load factor trend compared with Germany. The differences are quite substantial, approaching double output in the former compared with the latter. The recent history in Germany may indicate curtailments or exports since BP are reporting consumption, not production.
***
Finally, we are repeatedly told that in addition to being dangerous, nuclear power is also expensive. Is this another Green myth?
In Figure 4 I have plotted the per capita nuclear generation against electricity prices. High nuclear France, Sweden and Finland have some of the lowest electricity prices in western Europe while low Nuclear Germany has the highest. Enough said!
Figure 4 Analogous plot to Figure 1 but for nuclear. There is no correlation between the level of nuclear penetration and price although high nuclear France, Sweden and Finland have significantly lower prices than low nuclear Germany.
***
In conclusion, the various Green energy myths detailed above are woven into an energy narrative that is tantamount to a lie.
The surprising and worrying thing is that this lie has been accepted and adopted by the UK government, the EU and the UN. They seem to believe it is founded on science and engineering. It is not. What has happened to the checks and balances that our Lords and scientific advisors are supposed to provide?
References
[1] The Appalling Truth About Energy Subsidies.[2] Wind Blowing Nowhere.[3] Decarbonizing UK Electricity Generation '' Five Options That Will Work.[4] The Difficulties Of Powering The Modern World With Renewables.[5] How Much Wind And Solar Can Norway's Reservoirs Balance?.[6] A Trip Round Swansea Bay.[7] European Renewable Energy performance and costs: 2014.
Energy Matters
Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 00:23
After two weeks of tense talks, word-wrangling and marathon overnight meetings, diplomats in Paris agreed to a global climatechange accord on Saturday evening -- a day after the summit's scheduled conclusion.
Leaders and experts cheered the historic agreement that emerged from the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21, calling it ambitious and realistic, anda crucial step in protecting the Earth for future generations.
"The decisive deal for the planet is here," French President Fran§ois Hollandetold delegates Saturday morning, shortly before releasing the final draft. Outside, thousands of protesters had begun filling Paris streets in an appeal for a strong climate pact.
Some advocates, however, lamented that the deal falls short. They pointed to a lack of a specific timescale for phasing out fossil fuels, for example, as well as weak language on monitoring and verifying countries' greenhouse gas emission reductions.
"This agreement won't save the planet, not even close," Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post in an email. "But it's possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet -- if movements push even harder from here on out."
ASSOCIATED PRESS Activists demonstrate near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday, Dec.12, 2015, during COP21.Still, no one seems to be denying that the accord represents a major milestone, especially after more than two decades ofUnited Nations climate talks that broadly failed in their chief objective to stabilize the warming of the atmosphere.
For the first time, rich and poor countries across the world have agreed to take steps to limit and adapt to climate change -- from reducing their emissions of carbondioxide and other greenhouse gases to helping one another adapt to rising seas, devastating droughts, food shortages and other impacts of global warming.
As the Paris text states, climate change "represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet," and "requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries."
The final agreement, which spans 31 pages, sets a cap on global warming at "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Any greater rise, scientists have warned, could trigger catastrophic climate change. The text also addsan aspirational commitment to aim for even greater reductions, enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius(2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and thereby help protect low-lying nations most threatenedby sea level rise.
"The scientific evidence coming in, particularly since the release of the last IPCC report, really does point in the direction that 2 degrees Celsius of warming presents more risks than had been widely appreciated," saidGuido Schmidt-Traub, executive director of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, referencing the most recent findings from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose assessments form the scientific backbone for climate negotiations.
But perhaps the greater debate these past weeks in Paris is just how to achieve either goal. The current set of emissions-reduction pledges submitted by participating countries would only limit global warming to roughly 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving a substantial gap -- regardless of which warming limit is considered. And the Paris text doesn't hide that fact, stating that ''much greater emission reduction efforts will be required."
We're at a moment in time where the issue of climate change has registered so centrally in the consciousness of people around the world.Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program
Michael Mann, director of Penn State University's Earth System Science Center, emphasized that COP21 is just "the beginning of a process."The global commitments "get us roughly half way" to where the world needs to be,Mann told HuffPost in an email. "The most important thing to come out of the conference is an agreement to improve on these commitments substantially in the years ahead."
Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, agreed. He highlighted the accord's call for countries to review their annual emissions and ramp up their pledges accordingly every five years, beginning in 2023. Also key, he noted, is the fact thatnearly 190 countries, representing 96 percent of global emissions, have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions -- a significant improvement compared to the Kyoto Protocol's coverage of 14 percent of global emissions. That climate accord only obliged developed countries to pitch in. What's more, major carbon contributors such as the U.S. and China refused to sign on.
The shift from previous summits may be at least partially attributed to mounting scientific evidence and global awareness concerning the pace of and problems posed by climate change. And this change in tone is not just evident in the actions of the public and politicians, suggested Schmidt-Traub, but also of major corporations. Monsanto, for example, is among companies pledging to go carbon neutral within the next decade. ''That's making a huge difference,'' he said.
"We're at a moment in time where the issue of climate change has registered so centrally in the consciousness of people around the world," added Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program. "These climate impacts we are seeing are exacting a toll on people everywhere. We're seeing the western U.S. in a multiyear drought. We're seeing sea level rise cause worsening flooding."
ASSOCIATED PRESS U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with China's Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua prior to the opening of the COP21 conference in Le Bourget on Saturday, Dec.12, 2015.While every country may be confronted by climate change consequences, some developing nations represent the most vulnerable to and least able to cope with the impacts. These countries are also generally the least prepared to invest in renewable energy to help fend off further warming. Compared to fossil fuels, clean energy products remain more capital intensive -- a particular challenge for poor nations that face high interest rates. (A loan to India, for example, is far more risky than one to Germany.)
To help, rich countries have been called to provide $100 billion a year to support poor countries in their transitions to clean energy and their measures to adapt to climate change. By 2025, according to the agreement, these nations will revisit that figure, with the option of ratcheting up their financing.
The accord also includesa mechanism to address the losses and damages caused by climate change, although the parties agreed that this "does not involve or provide a basis for any liability of compensation." Such liability would have been a deal-breaker for the U.S. and other large emitters, according to Stavins, who suggested that the new climate accord "hit everything" he had been watching for ahead of the meetings.
"This is a broad foundation for meaningful progress," he said. "Anyone who suggests this is a success or a failure is only speaking based on ideology, not reality. Only 10 to 20 years from now, when we look at the implementation of all this, will we really know."
Read More COP21 Coverage
Carbon Compass: Investor guide to carbon footprinting | IIGCC
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:35
This user-friendly guide developed by KeplerCheuvreux in cooperation with the IIGCC, the 2Degrees Investing Initiative and Deloitte is designed to help connect carbon footprint analysis with investment objectives such as minimising risk and meeting climate targets. There are a growing number of Carbon footprint services available, but how can investors use these tools for communication, engagement and decision-making? The 'Carbon Compass' reviews each methodology and answers the most commonly-asked questions simply and practically.
This guide answers the 10 main questions that investors asking on the topic of carbon and climate change metrics.
- What scope should I include and what is the problem with double counting?
- How do I aggregate the results at portfolio level, and what metric should I use to normalise?
- What about other asset classes?
- What is the best technique to estimate data?
- How can I assess data quality and how can verification and assurance help?
- What approach for green-brown share?
- What about calculating avoided emissions?
- Benchmarks: what do they tell me?
- What alternative benchmarks are emerging?
- What are the main differences between data providers?
Download publication
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Our members | IIGCC
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:31
'‹IIGCC currently has 120 members, from 9 countries, representing over '‚¬13 trillion in assets. Our network benefits from active participation from some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe and is continually growing.
See a list of all members.ERAFP - French Public Service Additional Pension SchemeVisit website
Representative Church Body of the Church of IrelandVisit website
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Board | IIGCC
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:30
'‹IIGCC is governed by a Board of Directors, which is drawn from the membership. Board composition and appointment rules are outlined in IIGCC's Articles of Association.
Donald MacDonald, IIGCC ChairmanTrustee Director, BTPS
Eric Borremans, IIGCC Vice ChairmanSustainability Expert, Pictet Asset Management
Marcel Jeucken, IIGCC TreasurerManaging Director Responsible Investment, PGGM
Vicki BakhshiAssociate Director, BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA)
Philippe Desfoss(C)sCEO, ERAFP
Niall O'SheaHead of Responsible Investing, Royal London Asset Management (CIS) Limited
Erik Jan StorkSenior Sustainability Specialist, APG
Peter Damgaard JensenCEO, PKA
Jennifer AndersonResponsible Investment Officer, The Pensions Trust
Tom MurleyHead of Renewable Energy Investment, Hg Capital
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IIGCC International investors group on climate change
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:29
16 December 2015, WebEx
MSCI Webinar: COP21 Dissected - What The Outcomes May Mean For Insitutional InvestorsWebinar to analyze the COP21 fine print, dissect the outcomes, and speak with experts who attended the talks. IIGCC's CEO Stephanie Pfeifer along with AP4's Mats Andersson and Mark Campenale of Carbon Tracker Initiative will discuss the pivotal role institutional investors have a to play in moving the needle on climate change as well as the risks and opportunities posed by the political, economic and regulatory transformations required to keep global temperatures below 2°c. The webinar is hosted by MSCI.
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Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era | Environment | The Guardian
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:28
French foreign minister and president of the talks Laurent Fabius brings down the gavel to mark the adoption of the agreement. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP
Governments have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.
After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a legal agreement on Saturday evening that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.
Government and business leaders said the agreement, which set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, sent a powerful signal to global markets, hastening the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy.
The deal was carefully constructed to carry legal force but without requiring approval by the US Congress - which would have almost certainly rejected it.
After last-minute delays, caused by typos, mistranslations and disagreements over a single verb in the highly complicated legal text, Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, brought down a special leaf-shaped gavel to adopt the agreement. The hall erupted in applause and cheers. ''It is a small gavel but I think it can do a great job,'' Fabius said.
Related:Paris climate deal: key points at a glance
Fran§ois Hollande, the French president, who had invested enormous capital and diplomatic effort in shepherding the agreement, said countries had a rare chance to make history. ''We are at a decisive point in time,'' he said.
Fabius: 'The world is counting on Paris climate talks'Fabius said: ''It is my deep conviction that we have come up with an ambitious and balanced agreement. Today it is a moment of truth.''
The agreement was equally a victory for the United Nations, which spent four years overcoming political inertia and the deep divisions between rich and poor countries, to put together the ambitious deal. ''I used to say: we must, we can, we will,'' Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief who guided the talks, tweeted. ''Today we can say we did.''
The US president, Barack Obama, hailed the historic deal, tweeting:
Miguel Arias Ca±ete, the EU's climate commissioner, said the agreement had re-affirmed confidence in the UN process.
''This was the last chance [for the UN process],'' he added, ''and we have taken it.''
Al Gore, the former US vice-president who helped draft the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty, was in the hall. He appeared visibly moved when the agreement was gavelled in and said the accord would have a powerful effect on the economy.
''This universal and ambitious agreement sends a clear signal to governments, businesses, and investors everywhere: the transformation of our global economy from one fuelled by dirty energy to one fuelled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably underway,'' Gore said in a statement.
Six years after the chaotic ending of the Copenhagen climate summit, the agreement now known as the Paris Agreement for the first time commits rich countries, rising economies and some of the poorest countries to work together to curb emissions.
Rich countries agreed to raise $100bn (£66bn) a year by 2020 to help poor countries transform their economies. The overall agreement is legally binding, but some elements '' including the pledges to curb emissions by individual countries and the climate finance elements '' are not.
Related:Paris climate talks: World inches towards historic climate deal '' live
The deal was equally hailed for delivering a clear message to business leaders.
The International Investors Group on Climate Change, a network managing '‚¬13tn of assets, said the decision would help trigger a shift away from fossil fuels and encourage greater investments in renewable energy.
''Investors across Europe will now have the confidence to do much more to address the risks arising from high carbon assets and to seek opportunities linked to the low carbon transition already transforming the world's energy system and infrastructure,'' the group said.
Jennifer Morgan, of the environmental thinktank, the World Resources Institute, said the long term goal was ''transformational'' and ''sends signals into the heart of the markets''.
The deal set a high aspirational goal to limit warming below 2C and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels '' a far more ambitious target than expected, and a key demand of vulnerable countries.
It incorporates commitments from 187 countries to reduce emissions, which on their own would only hold warming to between 2.7C and 3C.
A climate demonstrator in Paris on Saturday. Photograph: Etienne Laurent/EPABut it sets out procedures for review at regular intervals to deepen emissions cuts, with countries aiming to peak global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and then rapidly scale down in the second half of this century.
Critics said the agreement would still condemn hundreds of million of people living in low-lying coastal areas and small islands, after US negotiators demanded the exclusion of language that could allow the agreement to be used to claim legal liability for climate change. But supporters said the negotiations took a significant step forward in getting countries to act together on a global challenge of immense complexity.
Saturday's agreement was the product of years of preparation, two weeks of intense negotiations, capped off by three sleepless nights, with Barack Obama and Hollande phoning other leaders to bring them on side with the deal.
Accounts from behind the closed doors of negotiating session described tense exchanges between oil-producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, and a rapidly constituted US- and Europe-backed High Ambition Coalition, which kept up the pressure for a strong temperature goal and regular reviews of emission-cutting plans.
The French hosts also won praise from negotiators for using a mixture of informal huddles, or indabas, and traditional shuttle diplomacy to bring the deal home.
The text commits countries to peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and to seek a balance between human-caused emissions and removals by carbon sinks.
''This means bringing down greenhouse gas emissions to net zero within a few decades,'' said John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a climate adviser to the Vatican.
But he added that countries would have to move aggressively, peaking before 2030 and eliminating emissions by 2050 through reforestation and technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
For vulnerable countries, the high ambition of the 1.5C goal was offset by the weakening of the agreement when it came to dealing with irreparable damage of climate change.
''The idea of even discussing loss and damage now or in the future was off limits. The Americans told us it would kill the COP,'' said Leisha Beardmore, the chief negotiator for the Seychelles. ''They have always been telling us: 'Don't even say that'.''
Related:Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments
Even so, campaign groups were broadly positive about the outcome. Given intense pressure from oil-producing countries, negotiators managed to craft a text that was far more ambitious than expected.
The universal nature of the agreement was a radical departure from the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that drew sharp divisions between the obligations of wealthy and developing countries but ultimately failed to lower emissions.
Unlike Kyoto, the agreement reached on Saturday depends on political will, with countries setting their own climate action plans.
Rich countries promised that by 2025 they would set a new goal for climate finance ''from a floor of $100bn per year'', the figure first pledged at the Copenhagen climate talks six years ago. However, the commitment was offered as a non-binding decision that accompanied the binding text.
All the countries agreed on demands from the US and European Union for five-year reviews of their emissions reductions '' an exercise that had been resisted by China.
2.7 DEGREES-Climate Envoys Prepare Broadest Deal Yet Limiting Pollution - Bloomberg Business
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 19:46
Envoys from more than 195 nations are poised to adopt the most sweeping deal on global warming ever, extending limits on fossil-fuel pollution to developing nations for the first time.
The delegates at United Nations climate talks on Saturday are considering a draft document outlining the agreement proposed by France, which is hosting the talks in Paris. They are scheduled to meet at 3:45 p.m. local time to discuss approving or revising the text, though delegates in the hall greeted the plan with thunderous applause.
Francois Hollande shakes hands with Ban Ki-moon after a statement at conference
Photographer: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
''This text will, if you should so decide, be the first universal agreement in the history of climate negotiations,'' French President Francois Hollande told the meeting. ''This will be a major leap for mankind.''
The pact would endorse the most aggressive target yet on containing the rise of temperatures, and take effect from 2020, with 185 nations so far coming forward with their own plans to tackle the problem. Scientists and environmentalists said the ambition outlined in the text isn't yet matched by action in each nation, which is voluntary.
''We need to show the world that our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual actions,'' Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is presiding over the talks, said at the meeting in Paris on Saturday. ''The time has come to focus not on the red lines but on green lines for universal commitment.''
Researchers say current pledges would only contain rising temperatures to 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) rather than the 2 degrees sought by envoys. The full text of the deal was embraced by environmental groups, which said the deal is a step in the right direction.
''The agreement will send a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business,'' said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, a U.S. advocacy group. ''It makes a moral call for dramatic action, and it moves us closer to the crucial turning point when global carbon emissions, which have been rising for more than two centuries.''
Years of PreparationIf approved, the deal would cap eight years of discussions on how to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty to limit the emissions that are driving up temperatures. The U.S. never signed that accord because it exempted developing nations such as China and India from binding targets. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the delegates to back the deal.
''Nature is sending urgent signals,'' Ban told the meeting. ''We must not let the quest for perfection stand in the way of the common good.''
By limiting Kyoto to industrial nations only, its restrictions only ever applied to 38 countries, most of them in Europe. The EU and U.S. have insisted poorer countries be brought aboard, since without them, no deal would be enough to arrest rising temperatures that are set to reach a record this year.
The last time such a deal was attempted, in 2009, the meeting in Copenhagen dissolved in finger pointing about who should move first on global warming.
The Paris deal seeks to break divisions between richer and poorer nations by exchanging transparency on emissions cuts for a promise to mobilize $100 billion a year in aid for for the most vulnerable nations fighting climate change. Some key points in the draft agreement published Saturday:
TEMPERATURE -- Calling for temperature increases since the industrial revolution to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and for the first time challenging nations to work toward a more aggressive target of 1.5 degrees.
FOSSIL FUEL GOAL -- Says nations should work toward ''a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.'' That means that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels must be equal to those absorbed by planting trees and the facilities capturing carbon for permanent underground storage.
TRANSPARENCY -- Seeks a single system for measuring the emissions of every nation, and for monitoring progress toward their voluntary targets. Every five years, starting in 2023, there would be a global assessment of whether combined efforts are sufficient.
LOSS AND DAMAGE: A key provision sought by island nations who say that changes are already occurring that they can't adapt to. The new deal sets up a mechanism to provide expert advice, emergency preparedness and insurance. A clause in the decision text says that mechanism will not provide for liability and compensation, paying heed to a red line by the U.S., Japan and European nations.
FINANCE -- Developed countries pledged in 2009 to ramp up climate aid to vulnerable ones to an annual $100 billion by 2020. The draft agreement -- representing the enduring treaty, says that from 2020, ''climate finance should represent a progression beyond previous efforts,'' without mentioning a numerical target. A separate so-called decision document says industrialized nations should continue the existing goal through to 2025, when they would set a new collective goal.
With 2015 on track to be the warmest year ever, scientists say the world already has warmed about 1 degree since the industrial revolution, the quickest shift in the climate since the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. The voluntary pledges put forward by 185 countries leave the temperature on track for a 2.7-degree increase, according to Climate Action Tracker, a group of four European institutions. That's less than the 4 or more degrees that institutions such as the International Energy Agency have said is a risk without action. Architects of the Paris deal hope that its goals ''ratchet up'' over time. The ambitions are currently framed in national commitments on emissions by 2030, or in some cases 2025. India and China avoided responsibilities under the Kyoto deal, since they were classed as developing nations in the 1992 treaty that set the UN process in motion. Since then, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and India surged to just behind the European Union. With pollution in the industrial world already declining, it's the developing nations whose emissions are catching up quickly.
Rex Murphy: The High Church of Global Warming
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 18:59
Rex MurphyFriday, Dec. 11, 2015
As this edition of the Post hits the stands, the great Conclave of Catastrophists in Paris will have concluded. The last goose will gladly have surrendered its swollen liver '-- foie gras does not come without exertion '-- to the last epicure environmentalist. We have been told that the French did not stint on lending all the arts of its fabled cuisine to assist the Great Deliberators. State dinners took on something of the largesse and abundance last recorded by Gibbon in his descriptions of the Emperor Heliogabalus, who is reputed to have served up the tongues of hummingbirds, peacock brains and mice sauteed in honey, to the jaded appetites of his decadent court.
The reference here to far earlier times is not accidental or flip. Just as in the early centuries of Christianity, when the patristic Fathers struggled with various heresies and sought to stabilize the dogmas of the then-nascent Faith, held their great Councils to parse the finer points of esoteric doctrine, the Parisian analogue gave itself over to even more subtle ruminations: whether, for example, it was best to ''commit'' to ensuring the planet's temperature doesn't rise more than 1.5 degrees by the year 2100, or whether it was best merely to hold the thermometer to a more expansive two degrees.
How much mental energy must have been expanded over that winsome 0.5 degrees, 80 years down the road? The subtleties involved, the logical intricacies deployed, would have outpaced Aquinas and sent poor Augustine to bed early with a migraine. However, the modern monks of the High Church of Global Warming have resources that the early philosophers and theologians could not even dream of '-- they have computer models that dance in the direction wished of them.
And when what they deliciously refer to as the ''settled science'' does not serve their needs, they have always about them the ancient texts of Earth in the Balance by Reverend Al Gore, or the early press releases of the Dun Scotus of Global Warming, Cardinal Emeritus George Monbiot.
And where the scholiasts of old, wrestling with imperfect transcriptions and dubious translations of Holy Scripture had only prayer to guide them on the knotty questions of global warming '-- such as how many polar bears can dance on the edge of an ice floe '-- the priests of Climatology can always consult the Oracles of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club; or when in deeper need '-- say on the relationship between the decline of the coral reefs and bovine flatulence '-- refer to the obiter dicta of Bishops Tutu or Suzuki, on which matters such authorities speak with a Truth beside which that of Scripture is a mere contrail.
Not having been in Paris myself, I cannot speak of how they marked the end of their tormented consultations, whether they wafted a few puffs of invisible carbon dioxide over the steeple of the Eiffel Tower, or burnt a few outdated physics texts to mark the beginning of the new era their meeting signified. But they surely could not have ended without pointing to the example '-- the evidence-based example I should stress '-- of what happens when governments take the Dogma of New Green seriously.
If one wishes to learn the true value of what a commitment to the New Learning actually involved, then Ontario is both laboratory and experiment
The experience of Ontario, as underscored by the very timely report of its auditor general '-- released as the great Throng was chewing over these very questions '-- had to have been an inspiration and a comfort. For Ontario provides, as it were, a case-study of what happens to reason and policy when a government truly gives itself over to the new Meditations. Ontario as all the world knows went Green with fervour, with former premier Dalton McGuinty and his successor, Premier Kathleen Wynne, fancying themselves something of the Copernicus and Tycho Brahe of the New Green Learning. And was it not learned from the auditor general that their great dive into a solar and wind powered future has cost the innocent citizens of Ontario a mere $37 billion more than it should have, which could give rise to another, extra $133 billion by 2032?
If one wishes to learn the true value of what a commitment to the New Learning actually involved, then Ontario is both laboratory and experiment. By what fraction of a degree did the world's temperature actually lower itself '-- was it 0.01 per cent, 0.001 per cent or any fractional mite in between? '-- for that $37 billion?
Could it even be '-- Heresy of Heresies '-- that maybe the global temperature moved not at all, or '-- Good Gore, save us '-- went upwards? We cannot know, for it is the nature of this subject that substantive answers are never possible nor welcome. When dealing with the ''airy subtleties'' of the new Faith, we must settle for ignorance, but as long as it is for the Great Cause, as long as 50,000 can jet to Paris, Rio or Beijing annually, who cares that we have no certainty? As long as the faith holds, there is no call for certainties.
Save the one more important than all the rest: the idea that the vastly imperfect governments of this world, who between them cannot guarantee anything six months out, can speak with serene confidence on the Whole Atmosphere of our Great Dynamic Planet nearly 100 years from now?
I do not wish to end on a cynical turn here. There has been on undeniable improvement wrought from this great Conclave. St. Leonardo di Caprio, patron spirit of The Yachts of the Monaco Basin, learned for the first time this week that there is such a thing as a chinook. So we now know that there is a least one fact in that well-photographed head of his, and that probably makes it superior to many of those other heads that met so urgently in Paris.
National Post
Obots
Beef Wellington
Completely defeatist attitude and threatened to leave the country passport is ready if Trump becomes president
University San Diego professor working for Google on data center networking
Google only wants 23 to 27-year-old males single
Google search takes 4000 machines 2000 for the search 2000 for the correct ads
Lots of Google self driving car talk as the only solution to traffic
Lees detention by border control
Canadian neighbors
Carolyn reneging on the dime on the moon
Carolyn has passport ready if Trump becomes president!
Elections 2016
Georgette Mosbacher - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 16:14
Georgette Mosbacher (n(C)e Paulsin; born January 16, 1947) is the CEO of Borghese,[1] a cosmetics manufacturer based in New York City, and a fundraiser for the United States Republican Party.
Background[edit]A native on Highland, Indiana,[2] Georgette Mosbacher (n(C)e Paulsin) was born on January 16, 1947 to Dorothy (Bell) and George Paulsin.[3][4] George Paulsin died in an automobile accident when Georgette was 7 years old, leaving her under the care of her mother. She has a brother, George, and two sisters, Melody and Lyn. Mosbacher attended Hammond High School in Highland, Indiana and went on to earn a B.S. in education from Indiana University in 1970. As an undergraduate student, she worked three jobs in order to fund her education.
Since 2000, Mosbacher has served as the chief executive officer of Borghese, a prominent cosmetics manufacturer based in New York City.[5] She has published two books: the semi-autobiography and women's motivational guide ''Feminine Force: Release the Power Within to Create the Life You Deserve'' and ''It Takes Money Honey: A Get-Smart Guide to Total Financial Freedom.'' A former National Chairperson of Community Development for Childhelp USA, Mosbacher contributes to a broad range of nonprofit organizations in the United States. A longtime Republican, Mosbacher serves as the co-chairperson of the Republican National Committee's Finance Committee. She holds a Doctor of Business Administration Honorary Causa from Bryant College and an honorary doctorate from the International Fine Arts College.[5]
In 1987, she purchased the high-end cosmetics firm La Prairie, served as its CEO,[6] and sold it in 1991 to Beiersdorf. She served as national co-chairman of John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign and is co-chair of the Republican National Committee's Finance Committee.
After graduating from Indiana University, Georgette Mosbacher spent the majority of her career in the beauty and cosmetics sectors. In 1987, Georgette Mosbacher acquired the high-end cosmetics company La Prairie and served as its chief executive officer and president. Four years later, she sold the company to Beiersdorf, a prominent personal care products provider based in Germany.[7] In 2000, Mosbacher accepted an offer to become the CEO and president of Borghese Inc. in New York City. During her time as CEO and president of Borghese, she helped the company expand its global operations and establish a wide distribution network in China.[8]
In 1995, she founded the Children's Advocacy Center of Manhattan (CAC), currently known as the New York Center for Children. Mosbacher is a trustee of several prominent charitable and civic organizations, including the Hudson River Park Trust, the New York Racing Association, and the Center for Democracy. Mosbacher has also received appointments from the Fallen heroes Fund, the M.D. Anderson Hospital Cancer Center, and Childhelp. Through her charitable foundation, Mosbacher provides two annual scholarships for women in the MBA program at Indiana University, her alma mater. Mosbacher also lends her expert opinions and personal anecdotes to several radio and television programs, including CNN's Pinnacle, The Today Show, and Larry King Live.[9]
Personal life[edit]A self-described ''redneck who lives in Manhattan,'' Georgette Mosbacher was married to Robert Muir and George Barrie, the CEO of Faberge and Brut Productions. In 1985, she married former United States Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher. During her time with Robert Mosbacher, she attended 14 State Dinners under President George H.W. Bush, during which she met heads of state such as Lech Walesa, Brian Mulroney, Helmut Kohl, Francois Mitterrand, and Margaret Thatcher. Mosbacher expressed a particular admiration for Thatcher, pointing to her remarkable confidence and strong leadership.[2] After 13 years of marriage, Georgette Mosbacher and her husband divorced in 1998, but remained good friends until his death from cancer in 2010.[10]
Georgette Mosbacher is a longtime fundraiser for the Republican Party.[2] The former National Co-Chairman of Senator John McCain's presidential campaign in 2000, Mosbacher also anchored fundraising efforts for Bush-Cheney '04, John McCain 2008, and George W. Bush for President.[7] A Republican national committeewoman in New York State for more than a decade, Mosbacher was the first woman to serve as the general chairman of the Republican Governors Association.[8] Mosbacher currently serves as a Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee's Finance Committee.
Georgette Mosbacher has received several awards throughout her career, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year Award from the American Woman's Economic Development Corporation, and the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from Brandeis University.[5]
Bibliography[edit]References[edit]^Georgette and Lyn: A tale of two sisters^ abc"Georgette Mosbacher-Country Girl". Woman Around Town. Retrieved November 26, 2014. ^"Georgette Mosbacher: Legendary GOP Fundraiser". Right Pundits. Retrieved November 11, 2014. ^[1]^ abc"Georgette Mosbacher". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 11, 2014. ^How to Divorce a Millionaire^ ab"Georgette Mosbacher". Right Pundits. Retrieved November 15, 2014. ^ ab"Georgette Mosbacher". Milken Institute. Retrieved November 15, 2014. ^"Georgette Mosbacher". All American Speakers. Retrieved November 15, 2014. ^"Oil mogul Robert A. Mosbacher dies at 82". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 26, 2014. External links[edit]Biography at borghese.comGeorgette Mosbacher at NNDBCollins, Nancy, "The World of Georgette Mosbacher" at the Wayback Machine (archived August 5, 2004), Harper's Bazaar, July 2004Ponder, Stephanie E., "Makeup Maven", Costco Connection, May 2006Gurley, George, "Georgette Mosbacher Rides With McCain", The New York Observer, January 30, 2000Horyn, Cathy, "Is Georgette Mosbacher Too Hot for the G.O.P. to Handle?", The New York Times, January 14, 2001Potempa, Philip, "Georgette Mosbacher smiling with gritted teeth about President Bush", The Times of Northwest Indiana, January 31, 2007Georgette Mosbacher profile
Michiel Vos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 15:17
Michiel VosMichiel Vos in 2008
Born(1970-12-19) December 19, 1970 (age 44)Groningen, NetherlandsOccupationJournalist, lawyer, producerYears active2000''CurrentSpouse(s)Alexandra Pelosi (m. 2005)Children2 childrenMichiel Vos (born December 19, 1970) is a Dutch-American journalist, lawyer, jurist and United States correspondent. He is married to filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of former Speaker of the United States House of RepresentativesNancy Pelosi. The couple has two children, Paul Michael Vos (b. 2006) and Thomas Vincent Vos (b. 2007).
Vos hosts a Dutch/Belgian TV series called My America about his experiences as a European living in America. He regularly appears on Dutch and Belgian television and radio commenting on American political affairs and news as well as on his experiences in the USA. He had a weekly spot on the Radio 538 show Ruuddewild.nl. He works for EenVandaag, Goedemorgen Nederland and several others. In 2006 he appeared irregularly as American correspondent for the late-night talk show Barend & Van Dorp. He also works for the broadcasting station VPRO, as a presenter for special film nights. They live in Manhattan, New York City but are often seen together on the road working for HBO. Vos worked as producer on Pelosi's films: The Trials of Ted Haggard, Right America: Feeling Wronged, and Friends of God. Vos' uncle is Philip Kaufman
Donald Trump liet in ons land enkel ellende achter - AD.nl
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 18:24
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Is Donald Trump a Democratic secret agent? - BBC News
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 16:22
Image copyrightGetty ImagesRepublican leaders are currently thrashing about - holding secret meetings, issuing confidential memos and making public denunciations - as they approach a state of near panic over what Donald Trump is doing to their party. It's enough to make some believe that Mr Trump may not have the Republican establishment's best interests at heart.
Could Donald Trump be a secret double-agent, sent by Democrats to destroy their party from within?
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has borne the brunt of more than a few Trump barbs, seems to think there's a possibility.
"Maybe Donald negotiated a deal with his buddy Hillary Clinton," Mr Bush tweeted this week, after Mr Trump cited a poll showing his supporters would stick with him if he left the Republican Party. "Continuing this path will put her in the White House."
The New York billionaire has a spotty political history, at best. He was a Republican, then he was a pro-choice Democrat, and now he's a fire-breathing, anti-immigration populist conservative.
Could this latest iteration of Mr Trump's political brand be just a ruse, the elaborate cover for a liberal saboteur who has spent the past year setting explosives that threaten the unity of the party he pledged to support?
He's belittling his Republican colleagues. He's pulling the party to the nativist right in direct conflict with the goal set by strategists in 2013 to appeal to a more ethnically diverse nation. And he's generally sucking up all the political oxygen, making it harder for other candidates to get their message out. All in all, many experts say he's making it much more difficult for a Republican to win the general election next fall. Maybe he's doing it on purpose.
It's a theory that has been bubbling long before Mr Bush's recent Twitter accusation.
"If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behaviour be any different?" asked conservative political commentator George Will in July. "I don't think it would be."
Just over a week later Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida called Mr Trump "a phantom candidate recruited by the left to create this entire political circus." And he laid out what is the foundation of the Trump conspiracy theories.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Could Donald Trump and Bill Clinton be partners on more than just the golf course? "Mr Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton," he said. "They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons' foundation. He has contributed to Mrs Clinton's Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious."
Of course Mr Trump has also contributed to plenty of Republicans. He likes to boast that he has "bought" politicians of all stripes. And Mr Trump's wedding was a coveted invitation for all of New York City's elite, of which the Clintons were definitely part.
But there's more.
Also suspicious - for those predisposed to suspicion, at least - is a "mystery" phone call between Mr Trump and Bill Clinton in May, less than a month before the real-estate tycoon tossed his hat into the presidential ring.
The details of that call are shrouded in secrecy, but that hasn't stopped conservatives from speculating that the seeds of a Machiavellian plan were sown.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Some conservatives think Hillary Clinton benefits every time Donald Trump says something controversial "Clinton encouraged Trump's efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape," the Washington Post reported at the time.
Conservative commentator Brian Cates is less circumspect.
"Trump didn't jump into this race because of his deep abiding love for America, or his being a Republican or caring about conservatism," he writes. "Trump jumped into this race because BILL CLINTON urged him to."
And ever since that fateful day in mid-June when he descended a gold escalator in his office building to announce his candidacy, Mr Trump has dominated the political conversation, firing fusillades at Mexican immigrants, Muslims, his fellow candidates, the media and anything else that catches his eye.
Noah Rothman of Commentary magazine spies a pattern in Mr Trump's diatribes, whose timing, he argues, "tends to often coincide with scandalous revelations that reflect poorly on Democratic politicians".
Mr Trump, for instance, made his comments about closing US borders to all Muslims just a day after President Barack Obama's poorly received White House address on the so-called Islamic State.
Stories about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's email server and actions following the Benghazi consulate attack in 2012 have likewise been swamped by Trump-mania.
"None of this establishes either correlation or causation, but it is remarkably coincidental how often Donald Trump has rescued Democrats from the jaws of a terrible news cycle and the withering scrutiny of the press," he concludes.
Then again, given the number of times Mr Trump has made incendiary, headline-grabbing comments and the number of times conservatives have perceived there to be incredibly damaging revelations about Democrats that should have grabbed the headlines, perhaps it's not surprising that Rothman's list is so long.
But as the saying goes, even paranoids have enemies. And, at least for the moment, there are some Republicans who see Donald Trump much more of an enemy than a friend.
Republican candidates in - and out - of the 2016 presidential race
Trump and the Goodfellas - WSJ
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 18:05
Donald Trump says he'll succeed as President because he has succeeded in business, so it's appropriate to scour his business record. One area in particular that deserves scrutiny is his business relationship with companies controlled by the Mafia.
The reporting on this has so far been scanty, and we have no new revelations. But Mr. Trump was active in construction in the 1980s, when federal racketeering cases highlighted the influence that a ''club'' of mobsters exerted over large construction projects in New York City. In...
Donald Trump: British police officers warn about growing ISIS radicalisation in London | UK | News | Daily Express
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 16:35
GETTY
Serving police officers have backed up Donald Trump's claimServing officers in terrorist hotspots including London and Birmingham said that forces are becoming increasingly nervy over the rising threat of Islamic State (ISIS) inspired attacks, with some telling staff not to wear their uniforms in their OWN patrol cars.
One officer in London said the firebrand presidential hopeful was ''pointing out something plainly obvious'' whilst another in Lancashire said the police have to ask local Muslim leaders for PERMISSION before sending patrols into their communities.
Their shocking testimonies are in stark contrast to the official responses from politicians and the Metropolitan Police, who have rounded on Mr Trump's controversial claims.
The Republican frontrunner provoked fury across the globe on Monday when he said that all Muslims should be banned from entering America to combat terrorism.
Related articlesDuring a tub thumping speech to party activists he also took a swipe at Britain, saying: ''We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives.''
His comments were widely derided by British politicians including David Cameron, who called them ''divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong''.
The Metropolitan Police also issued a withering statement saying Mr Trump ''could not be more wrong'' whilst London Mayor Boris Johnson said his claims were ''utter nonsense''.
But they have been fatally undermined by members of the rank and file, who have said that fear of Islamist extremism within Britain's police is widespread despite the protestations of the authorities.
GETTY
The outspoken Republican said police are too scared to enter radicalised parts of LondonGETTY
One serving police officer said Mr Trump 'isn't wrong'One serving officer in west London said: ''Islamification has and is occurring. You have to have extra vigilance in certain parts when you are working."
Speaking to Breitbart he added: ''When I was a teenage lad in Burnley there were no go white areas. This is the case still nationally, including London where you have to have extra vigilance in certain parts when you are working.''
Another officer with Lancashire police said that officers have to ''contact local community leaders to get their permission'' before they are allowed to patrol in Muslim areas of Preston.
And a policeman posted in Yorkshire said police top brass were so afraid of potential terrorist attacks he had been ordered not to wear police uniform in his own patrol car.
He isn't wrong - our political leaders are best either ill-informed or simply being disingenuous
Serving police officer
The anonymous officer wrote on the online forum Police.Community: ''I'm not allowed to travel in half blues to work anymore IN MY OWN CAR as we're 'All at risk of attack' - yet as soon as someone points out the obvious it's 'divisive.'"
He added: ''In this instance he (Trump) isn't wrong. Our political leaders are best either ill-informed or simply being disingenuous.
''He's pointed out something that is plainly obvious, something which I think we aren't as a nation willing to own up to - do you think a US Police Department would ban officers from wearing their uniforms under jackets etc due to FEAR of their cops being killed by extremists?
''We implement half measures such as 'No-one is allowed to come into work half blues, even in your own cars because if you get beheaded it'll be your own fault'.
''It would be seen as un-American, un-democratic, not the done thing... In the UK though we accept it''.
IG
A petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from the UK will be debated by MPsHis comments were backed up by another officer, serving with the Met Police, who told LBC Radio: ''There has been a time when it's been advised not to wear half-blues or uniform to and from work.
"It's like damage limitation. You try to do the most you can to prevent anything bad from happening.
"All intelligence is around you and you do the best with that to essentially stay safe. And if that means taking measures to not identify yourself off-duty too much then so be it.
"It's covering your backs. It's a common sense approach."
Meanwhile in an interview last year Tom Winsor, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned that there are ''cities in the Midlands where the police never go'' because local communities refuse to engage with law enforcement.
Their comments came as more than 200,000 people signed a petition demanding that Mr Trump be banned from Britain for being a ''hate preacher''.
If successful the petition - which will be debated in parliament - raises the possibility that the billionaire tycoon could be banned from making state visits to the UK as a future US President.
But an unrepentant Mr Trump hit back in an interview on American TV last night, claiming that he is ''the worst thing that ever happened to ISIS''.
Last night the White House launched a blistering personal attack on the Republican presidential hopeful, saying his comments effectively disqualified him from running for office and even laying into his legendary toupe.
Barack Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest raged: ''''What he said is disqualifying, and any Republican who's too fearful of the Republican base to admit it has no business serving as president either.
"It is clear that what he's said is disqualifying and for the other republican candidates who have pledged to support him it's disqualifying for them to continue to hold that position.
"To support somebody for the presidency who articulates these views I think is a pretty clear indication that you don't have the right judgement to serve as president of the United States."
"The question now is about the rest of the Republican Party and whether or not they're going to be dragged into the dust-bin of history with him."
Related articles
GOP preparing for contested convention - The Washington Post
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:05
Republican officials and leading figures in the party's establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race.
More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year's nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.
Considering that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party's establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight, in which the GOP's mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said.
Because of the sensitivity of the topic '-- and wary of saying something that, if leaked, would provoke Trump to bolt the party and mount an independent bid '-- Priebus and McConnell were mostly quiet during the back and forth. They did not signal support for an overt anti-Trump effort.
But near the end, McConnell and Priebus did acknowledge to the group that a deadlocked convention is indeed something the party should prepare for, both institutionally at the RNC and politically at all levels in the coming months.
Upon leaving, several attendees said they would soon share with one another memos about delegate allocation in each state as well as research about the 1976 convention, the last time the GOP gathered without a clear nominee.
When asked Thursday about the dinner and convention planning, Sean Spicer, the RNC's chief strategist and spokesman, said: ''The RNC is neutral in this process and the rules are set until the convention begins next July. Our goal is to ensure a successful nomination and that requires us thinking through every scenario, including a contested convention.''
This emerging consensus at the highest levels of the Republican Party about how the 2016 race could unfold comes after a fresh wave of polls showing Trump leading in early voting states and nationally, even as he continues to unleash incendiary comments such as his proposal to block Muslims from entering the United States. It also marks the close of a months-long chapter in the campaign when a brokered convention was considered a fanciful concept rather than a possibility that merited serious review by the party's top leaders.
The prix-fixe three-course meal at the Source, an upscale Asian fusion restaurant near the Capitol, was part of a regular invitation-only dinner series hosted by Priebus in which he solicits candid input from party leaders. Those familiar with Monday's deliberations spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private matter.
Attendees included Ward Baker, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Rob Simms, his counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee; Ron Kaufman, an RNC committeeman and Mitt Romney confidant; and pollster Linda DiVall. Whit Ayres, an adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Vin Weber, an ally of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, also were there, among others.
It wasn't supposed to be this way for leading Republicans. After Romney's 2012 defeat, the RNC moved to speed up the process with limited debates and an earlier convention date. But 2016 is looking like another protracted battle for GOP candidates, in part because of changed rules regarding delegate selection.
The problem facing the party '-- a crowded field led by a billionaire firebrand '-- was evident on Thursday, a deadline to qualify for the Virginia presidential primary. According Republicans in the state, 11 candidates qualified. Given the acrimony and uncertainty '-- and the relative ease of fundraising '-- there is little incentive for any of them to drop out.
RNC members will huddle in January in South Carolina to discuss the convention. Although no rule changes can be implemented until the convention, the people familiar with the meeting said top Republicans would like to begin that winter meeting with more clarity about how the RNC would handle a contested convention.
When asked by The Washington Post last week what he thought about a contested convention, Trump said he, too, is preparing for one.
''I don't think it's going to be a brokered convention. But if it is, I'd certainly go all the way '-- and I think I'd have a certain disadvantage,'' he said.
''I'll be disadvantaged,'' he continued. ''The deal-making, that's my advantage. My disadvantage is that I'd be going up against guys who grew up with each other, who know each other intimately and I don't know who they are, okay? That's a big disadvantage. .'‰.'‰. These kind of guys stay close. They all know each other. They want each other to win.''
Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.
Tom Hamburger covers the intersection of money and politics for The Washington Post.
Caliphate!
US-led coalition 'kills Islamic State finance chief' - Telegraph
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 15:59
Colonel Steve Warren named the trio as Abu Salah, "one of the most senior and experienced members" of Isil, Abu Maryam, an ''enforcer and senior leader of their extortion network'', and Abu Rahman al-Tunisi, an ''executive officer'' who handled the transfer of information, people and weapons.
Abu Salah, whose real name is Muafaq Mustafa Mohammed al-Karmoush, is believed to have been the man responsible for Isil's multi-million dollar wealth across Iraq. The extremist group is among the richest in the world, raking in some £53 million a month through taxation and extortion, the selling of oil, and an array of criminal activities.
Separately, the US Treasury estimated on Thursday that the group had in total made approximately $500 million (£330 million) from selling smuggled oil, and up to $1 billion from looting bank vaults in cities it had captured. On top of that, "taxation" or extortion, now thought to be the majority of its rolling income, accounted for "many millions more".
Adam Szubin said Isil militants were engaged in oil trading worth as much as $40 million a month with significant volumes sold to the government of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and some finding its way across the border into Turkey.
"Isil is selling a great deal of oil to the Assad regime," Mr Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence with the US Treasury, said at Chatham House in London.
"The two are trying to slaughter each other and they are still engaged in millions and millions of dollars of trade."
"The volumes we are talking about and the amounts of money we are talking about are very sizeable," said Mr Szubin.
Mr Szubin said the "far greater amount" of Isil oil ends up under Assad's control while some is consumed internally in Isil areas but some ends up in Kurdish regions and Turkey.
Sixteen months into the US-led bombing campaign, the Pentagon's announcement seemed to suggest that recently-captured intelligence was being used to inform targeting. American military planners have been sifting through a growing trove of documents detailing the group's inner workings, following a string of special forces raids on the terror group's compounds in Iraq and Syria.
Ashton Carter, the US defence secretary, said earlier this month that an expanded expeditionary military force will be sent to Iraq in order to increase the frequency of these raids.
Letter From The President-- War Powers Resolution
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:52
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM OBJECTIVES
In furtherance of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central Command's and U.S. Africa Command's areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities and support the counterterrorism operations of our friends and allies. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.
Military Operations Against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Associated Forces and in Support of Related U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
Since October 7, 2001, U.S. Armed Forces, including special operations forces, have conducted counterterrorism combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation. Such operations and deployments have been reported previously, consistent with Public Law 107-40 and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing. These operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in seriously degrading al-Qa'ida's capabilities and brought an end to the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. If necessary, in response to terrorist threats, I will direct additional measures to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.
Afghanistan. As I previously announced, U.S. Armed Forces have transitioned the lead for security to Afghan security forces while striking significant blows against al-Qa'ida's leadership and preventing Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. A limited number of U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan for the purposes of training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces, conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qa'ida, and taking appropriate measures against those who directly threaten U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qa'ida. The United States currently remains in an armed conflict against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces, and active hostilities against those groups remain ongoing.
The mission to help train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Security Forces and Afghan ministries and institutions continues through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led Resolute Support Mission. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2189, dated December 12, 2014, which welcomed the Resolute Support Mission and underscored the importance of continued international support for the stability of Afghanistan.
Today, there are approximately 10,500 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, consistent with the Force Management Level of 9,800. (The actual number of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan may exceed this Force Management Level due to, for example, overlap during rotations of units, and the continued presence of forces with the single mission of supporting the retrograde of U.S. equipment, both of which are excluded from counting against the Force Management Level.)
Iraq and Syria. As part of a comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), U.S. Armed Forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes and other necessary actions against ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria. United States Armed Forces are also conducting airstrikes in Syria against operatives of al-Qa'ida, including members of the al-Qa'ida element known as the Khorasan Group, who are involved in al-Qa'ida's plotting against the West. In Iraq, U.S. forces are advising and coordinating with Iraqi forces and providing training, equipment, communications support, intelligence support, and other support to select elements of the Iraqi security forces, including Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. On October 22, 2015, U.S. Armed Forces supported an Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga operation to rescue hostages at an ISIL detention facility near Hawijah, Iraq, and U.S. Armed Forces remain postured to support or conduct further similar operations in Iraq and Syria. Additionally, small teams of U.S. special operations forces have deployed to northern Syria to help coordinate U.S. operations with indigenous ground forces conducting operations against ISIL. The Force Management Level for U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq currently is 3,550; up to approximately 50 U.S. Armed Forces personnel may be deployed in Syria as circumstances warrant.
These actions are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Government of Iraq and in conjunction with coalition partners.
Turkey. In July 2015, the Government of Turkey agreed to the
U.S. request to deploy U.S. combat aircraft to Turkey to conduct air operations in support of counter-ISIL operations. Strike aircraft and about 350 U.S. military personnel deployed to Turkey on August 10, 2015. Beginning on November 6, 2015, additional fighter and strike aircraft, with approximately 375 U.S. military personnel, deployed to Turkey in support of counter-ISIL operations, and to support Turkish air sovereignty operations at the Turkish government's request.
Somalia. In Somalia, U.S. forces have worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab, and to provide advice and assistance to regional counterterrorism forces, including Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. On December 2, 2015, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against Abdirahman Sandhere, an al-Shabaab senior leader who is part of al-Qa'ida. United States forces also conducted a series of strikes in support of Somali forces, AMISOM forces, and U.S. forces in Somalia between June 28, 2015, and July 29, 2015, and on November 21, 2015.
Yemen. The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Government of Yemen to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa'ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests.
Djibouti. United States forces continue to partner with Government of Djibouti authorities, which have permitted use of Djiboutian territory for basing of U.S. forces. United States forces remain deployed to Djibouti, including for purposes of posturing for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula.
Libya. On June 13, 2015, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian national who was the mastermind of the 2013 attacks in In-Amenas, Algeria. That 2013 attack resulted in the death of 38 civilians, including three Americans. On November 13, 2015, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Libya against Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, also known as Abu Nabil, an Iraqi national who was a longtime al-Qa'ida operative and who had assumed the role of a senior ISIL leader in Libya.
Cuba. Combat-equipped forces, deployed since January 2002 to the Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue to conduct humane and secure detention operations for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay under the authority provided by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war. There were 107 such detainees as of the date of this report.
Military Operations in Niger in Support of U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
United States military personnel in Niger continue to provide support for intelligence collection and to facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in the Sahel and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 350.
Military Operations in Cameroon in Support of U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
As initially detailed in my report of October 14, 2015, approximately 300 U.S. military personnel deployed to Cameroon, with the consent of the Government of Cameroon, to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region. These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed.
MILITARY OPERATIONS RELATED TO THE LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY
United States military personnel with appropriate combat equipment remain deployed to various countries in the central Africa region to serve as advisors to regional forces of the African Union Regional Task Force that are working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield, and to protect local populations. The number of U.S. military personnel deployed to the central Africa region, including advisors deployed for this mission and personnel providing logistical and support functions to this and other missions, will fluctuate at a level up to approximately 300. Additional information about military operations related to the LRA is provided in the classified annex.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT
Approximately 700 military personnel are assigned to or supporting the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN JORDAN
At the request of the Government of Jordan, U.S. Armed Forces elements, including Patriot missile systems, artillery, fighter aircraft, and related support, command, control, and communications personnel and systems, are deployed to Jordan to support the security of Jordan and promote regional stability. The total number of U.S. forces in Jordan is approximately 2,000 U.S. military personnel. These forces will remain in Jordan, in full coordination with the Government of Jordan, until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed.
U.S./NATO OPERATIONS IN KOSOVO
The U.N. Security Council authorized Member States to establish a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Resolution 1244 on June 10, 1999. The original mission of KFOR was to monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), while maintaining a safe and secure environment. Today, KFOR deters renewed hostilities in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions. The principal military tasks of KFOR forces are to help maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. The U.S. contribution to KFOR is approximately 700 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 4,600 personnel.
I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in all of these operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief and as Chief Executive (including the authority to carry out Public Law 107-40 and other statutes), as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA
''Emergency'' Measures May Be Written Into The French Constitution
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:47
JUST HOURS INTO A TERRORIST ATTACK that started on the evening of Nov. 13, and would eventually claim 130 lives, Fran§ois Hollande announced that France was reestablishing border controls, and used a 1955 law to proclaim a state of emergency.
This 60-year-old law gives French law enforcement wide and sweeping powers, freeing them from much of the normal judicial oversight. The law gives prefects, the French government's local representatives, the ability to place people under house arrest, based merely on the suspicion of the intelligence service that they pose a threat to national security. They can also order police raids targeting any place where they think information about terrorism may be found, without a warrant.
Initially intended to last 12 days, the state of emergency was extended on November 19 for an additional three months by both chambers of parliament. During the vote in the lower house, only six MPs voted against the extension.
In some instances, the concrete consequences of the state of emergency border on the Kafkaesque. There's this man, who was challenging the requirement that he report frequently to a police station (one of the other features of the state of emergency law). Because his court hearing to challenge the requirement was late, he showed up 40 minutes past the time he was supposed to be at the police station. He was immediately detained. Then there's this man, who was placed under house arrest in southwestern France because he was suspected of being a radical Muslim '-- except he is a devout Catholic. The police also raided a halal restaurant for no apparent reason.
Since last month's attacks, there have been some 2,500 police raids, and nearly a thousand people have been arrested or detained. French local and national press are now full of reports of questionable police raids. So outrageous were some cases that the French Interior Ministry had to send a letter to all prefects reminding them to ''abide by the law.''
The state of emergency, which was initially supposed to mitigate the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, has been used to target environmental and political activists who have nothing to do with radical Islam, let alone terrorism. Several heavily armed police officers stormed the home of produce farmers in rural France, and Le Monde reported that at least 24 people closely involved with protests around COP21, the Paris climate conference, were placed under house arrest. This includes a member of the legal team of Coalition Climat 21, a well-established gathering of more than 130 organizations and NGOs. The French Human Rights League said the minister of the interior was confusing terrorism with normal civic activities and concluded, ''The state of emergency is a danger to civil liberties.''
Yet rather than be regarded as a temporary measure for extraordinary circumstances, the government's ability to declare an extended state of emergency may soon be written into the constitution. Fran§ois Hollande, speaking in front of both chambers summoned in Versailles two days after the attacks, announced his plan to modify the French constitution in response to terrorism.
Although some members of parliament were stunned by the boldness of the proposal, most welcomed the news.
A few weeks later, on December 1, the government unveiled the modification it plans to submit to the French parliament. The first measure would write the state of emergency into the constitution, because the 1955 law, even in its renewed 2015 form, is likely unconstitutional. The government fears it could be challenged all the way up to the French supreme court, especially by those who have been raided by the police or placed under house arrest.
The second modification would put into the constitution the ability to strip French citizenship from someone of dual nationality who has been convicted of ''crimes against the fundamental interest of the Nation,'' or terrorism.
If both changes were to be adopted '-- which appears likely '-- it would be the first time that a terrorist attack has triggered a change in France's constitution, and the first explicit reference to the highly debated word ''terrorism'' in the constitution.
Ironically, the strong-arm measures put into effect by the socialist government appear, in many cases, to echo those demanded by the National Front, France's largest far-right party. The day after the attacks, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, said that France had ''to regain control of its borders, close salafist mosques,'' and revoke French citizenship from dual nationals involved in ''Islamic movements.'' She also said that ''urgent measures [were] needed'' to tackle the terrorist threat.
Three weeks later, her party claimed 30 percent of the vote in the first round of regional elections, more than any other party. The National Front might even govern two of the 13 French regions after the second round. Although regional governments in France don't have direct authority over security and counterterrorism measures, the National Front appears to have benefited in the elections from the post-attack climate.
The main political parties and their representatives have been supportive of both the state of emergency measures and the modification of the constitution, including Marion Mar(C)chal Le Pen, Marine Le Pen's niece, who may be elected as the head of one of the regions after the second round of elections next Sunday.
''We've been surprised by Fran§ois Hollande,'' said Marion Mar(C)chal Le Pen. ''There has been some positive reorientation.''
F-Russia
Noordhollands Dagblad - Kunstroof Hoorn: de bizarre week van het 'vriendje van Poetin'
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 16:11
Ad Geerdink, Arthur Brand en Yvonne van Mastrigt (vlnr) tijdens de persconferentie van maandag.HOORN - Kunstroofspecialist Arthur Brand haalde deze week het wereldnieuws met zijn pogingen om de gestolen schilderijen terug te krijgen naar het Westfries Museum in Hoorn. Hij kreeg veel steun, maar werd ook neergezet als 'vriendje van Poetin'. Een terugblik op een krankzinnige week.
Door Jeroen Haarsma - 12-12-2015, 8:00 (Update 12-12-2015, 9:07)Arthur, ben je inmiddels persona non grata in Kiev?
,,Zo voelt dat wel, ja. Hetzelfde geldt overigens voor museumdirecteur Ad Geerdink en de Hoornse burgemeester Yvonne van Mastrigt. Je zag dat de Oekra¯ners direct in een slachtofferrol kropen na...
Ukraine is plundering its own museums on the way to Europe | Oriental Review
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:49
The looting of museums and the private collections of well-heeled fellow citizens seems to be an inevitable byproduct of all revolutions. The rebels Robespierre and Cromwell did so in the name of revolution, and during the fighting in the Middle East, hundreds of rare items have vanished from the national museums in Cairo and Baghdad and the Babylon Museum complex. The pandemonium at Maidan and the general free-for-all in Kiev and throughout Ukraine has also made it possible for property to be seized at will. The criminal world is extremely sensitive to social and political unrest and has moved rapidly to restore its old ties with its reliable ''shady customers'' from the highest echelons of power who are in the market for antiquities.
Looted museum of history Kiev
On the night of Feb. 18, 2014 unknown persons ransacked the collections of the Museum of the History of Kiev, located on the fourth and fifth floors of the Ukrainian House convention center. The museum's storage area was devastated, and it was several months before the number of objects stolen from their displays could be determined. Some of the exhibits, such as the 19th-century tableware produced by the Volokitinsky porcelain works, were simply destroyed. Paleolithic bones were trampled under revolutionary feet.
Olga Drug, the head of the museum division, reported, ''The thugs tossed a large 18th-century icon, The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, into a corner of the room. They wrapped the image in a dress embroidered with gold and silver threads, which is over 200 years old and was only recently restored. The dress ripped. For some reason, they left the icon, but stole a porcelain sculpture of Empress Catherine II, made at the Gardner porcelain works near Moscow in 1781 and with an estimated value of $50,000.''
Kavaler, porcelain, Miklashevsky factory, XIX century
Among the missing items was a knife with a blade of Damascus steel and a handle of mammoth tusk, worth $25,000, plus a few sabers valued at about $10,000 each. The thieves took some sacred objects from the early 20th century '' the icons The Virgin and Child, Christ, and The Ascension of the Lord, plus an image of St. Nicholas the miracle worker. The market value of each of these icons ranges from $2,000-$2,500. A copy of the Gospels was also stolen ($2,000-$4,000). At the same time, a 19th-century sculpture of children playing the piano was snatched ($1,500), as was a handbag from the same century ($1,000), a silk embroidered tablecloth from the first half of the 19th century that had only just returned from the restoration studio ($5,000), an 18th-century English clock ($2,000-$2,500), and much more. According to the museum staff, the estimated cost of all that was taken exceeded $200,000.
The builders of a ''new Ukraine'' have ruthlessly stolen property that is part of Ukraine's historical heritage, pilfering not only from the past, but from the future as well. The Museum of Gifts at the Kiev Mayor's Office, located in the same building as Kiev's city hall (which has been ''seized by the people'') was looted. Working on a tip, they also raided collections in private homes as well as exhibits being shown at private viewings '' everywhere that housed objects of interest to potential customers.
Faced with the revolutionaries' massive exportation of stolen works of art, the Ukrainian Customs Service has stepped up inspections on the Polish and Slovak borders, as well as within Kiev. The magnitude of the contraband being seized by customs is evidence of the scale of the theft. For example, opening an unremarkable case, customs officers in Kiev discovered a rare musical instrument signed by the master Giovanni Paolo Maggini.
In the spring of 2014, the staff of the eastern customs division blocked two attempts to illegally export an 1884 icon and an 1890 Bible through the Novoazovsk customs checkpoint.
In November 2014, workers at customs control at the Borispol airport recorded yet another attempt to illegally export a large shipment of precious stones and amber weighing almost 235 kg.
Recently, customs staff in Lvov detained another group of lawbreakers trying to spirit 18 gold coins out of the country. Experts estimate the cost of each of them to be at least $10,000. An entire collection of ancient weapons was also intercepted that had been stolen from museums in Kiev and other cities. The state returned some pictures by Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
Ukrainian customs officials believe that the most stable ''currency'' being exported today from post-revolutionary Ukraine consists of art (paintings, icons, and sculptures) and antiques (weapons, coins, jewelry, and books).
Arseniy Yatsenyuk is the ''icon of style'' for Ukrainian citizens who might slip an item from a museum into a bag or tuck a rare piece of jewelry into a pocket. In the spring of 2014, he announced that a collection of Scythian gold currently in the Netherlands, which had been shipped from museums in the Crimea for display at the Allard Pierson Archaeological Museum in Amsterdam, was actually the property of Ukraine.
Valentin Nalivaychenko
This case includes one interesting detail. When Valentin Nalyvaichenko, then the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), was in the process of being appointed the ambassador to the US in the spring of 2009, the Ukrainians decided to probe the attitude of the US State Department. Washington's answer shocked Kiev '' American officials informed them that they possessed reliable data indicating that Nalyvaichenko had committed serious violations of Finnish law when he worked at the Ukrainian embassy in Helsinki. Using his diplomatic status, Nalyvaichenko had set up a pipeline for smuggling antiquities. With their customary attention to detail, the Finnish police recorded every fact in writing, which naturally they shared with their American friends. They requested that the matter not proceed any further. And now, given the exceptional nature of the US-Ukrainian partnership, the US State Department has recommended that Kiev not move the issue to an official level, i.e., that they not request agr(C)ment for the country's chief spy, suspecting that at the most inopportune moment this sensitive information might become public knowledge and have a fatal effect on the progressive development of their bilateral relations. But in fact, the CIA needed Nalyvaichenko for what Washington saw as a key post '' as head of the SBU. So there's the story.
Time is passing. The valuables won during the battles of the ''Revolution of Dignity'' are slowly but surely trickling abroad. Apparently, Ukraine's cultural and historical heritage is being amassed in Europe to act as a dowry for an aging bride. But the Ukrainian people will most likely find themselves bereft of their valuables, their historical heritage, and even Europe itself.
Source in Russian:RusVesna
FACT SHEET: U.S. Assistance to Ukraine
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:00
For Immediate Release
December 07, 2015
The United States remains steadfast in its support of the Ukrainian people as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity, advance the fight against corruption, implement democratic and constitutional reforms, strengthen the rule of law, restore economic stability and growth, and respond to humanitarian needs.
In pursuit of these objectives, Vice President Joe Biden announced today in Kyiv, Ukraine, that, pending consultation with Congress, the White House plans to commit approximately $190 million in new assistance to support Ukraine's ambitious reform agenda. This broad assistance package will help Ukraine:
Elevate the fight against corruption through law enforcement and justice sector reform;Attract investment by streamlining regulations and transparently privatizing state-owned enterprises;Promote economic growth through better trade capacity and access to capital for small- and medium-size enterprises;Strengthen energy security by increasing efficiency, transparency, and resilience in the energy sector; andBuild a long-term democratic foundation through Constitutional and good-governance reforms in key sectors.These funds also will support the critical role of civil society and independent media, as well as the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission as it monitors and verifies agreements in the conflict areas of eastern Ukraine.
With this announcement, the United States now has committed $2 billion in loan guarantees and nearly $760 million in security, programmatic, and technical assistance to Ukraine since the end of the Yanukovych regime in 2014. The proceeds of U.S. loan guarantees have helped Ukraine to stabilize its economy and protect the most vulnerable households from the impact of needed economic adjustments.
The Administration will continue to work with Congress and its international partners to support Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty, stabilizes its economy, and advances its reform agenda.
F-Germany
Volkswagen Doesn't Have a CO2 Problem After All - Fortune
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:39
December 9, 2015, 7:32 AM ESTE-mailTweetFacebookLinkedinShare iconsGermany's scandal-plagued auto giant has one less thing to worry about.
Volkswagen AG VLKAY said Wednesday that it won't, after all, have to pay out billions in respect of dodgy marketing claims over the fuel efficiency (and thus the carbon dioxide emissions) of its cars.
VW said in a statement that its investigations had uncovered ''no unlawful change to the stated fuel consumption and CO2 figures'...to date,'' and added that it will only need to make small adjustments to its catalogue of marketing materials, affecting ''only a small number of the model variants.''
''Against this background, the negative impact on earnings of '‚¬2 billion ($2.2 billion) that was originally expected has not been confirmed,'' VW summed up.
The brouhaha over VW's fuel efficiency claims is a separate issue from the scandal over illegal doctoring of emissions data on its diesel-powered vehicles. Last month, when VW first announced the problem it had estimated that up to 800,000 vehicles could be affected. That had trashed the company's stock, not only because of the immediate financial impact, but because it raised suspicions that corporate duplicity at VW was much more widespread than thought.
VW said that the average deviation of actual performance from its claims was minimal, and that even in the worst cases, CO2 emissions were only 4 grams per kilometer more than VW had said. As such, there will now be no mass recalls or expensive retrofits. Just as importantly, the findings mean that the company won't have to make retroactive tax payments on behalf of drivers whose vehicles are dirtier than thought. Germany, like some other European Union countries, imposes an annual levy on each car according to its CO2 emissions performance.
Volkswagen's preferred shares have shot higher again in response to the news and by lunchtime in Frankfurt, they were up 6.8%, while almost all the rest of the German market was lower. They've now recouped half of what they lost since the diesel emissions scandal broke in September.
VW is due to hold a press conference Thursday to update investors on the scandal.
Separately, it was reported Tuesday that the cases against VW in the U.S. will be consolidated in environmentally-sensitive California, reflecting the fact that nearly a fifth of the suits filed against the company there have been lodged in that state. VW had instead suggested either the district courts of Michigan or Virginia.
UPDATE: this story has been updated to reflect Volkswagen's confirmation of an earlier newspaper leak.
Where is Nuland?
Georgian Defense Minister Meets US Official Victoria Nuland - Georgia Today on the Web
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 17:12
Georgia's Defense Minister, Tinatin Khidasheli has met with Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, as part of her visit to the United States.
The Defense Minister highlighted that both sides had discussed Georgia-US relations and national security stating ''The conversation referred to the progress expected in the Georgia-U.S. bilateral relations.
We expect to launch many initiatives in 2016. With its partners, Georgia has talked much about Black Sea security and Georgia's participation in this united system,'' Khidasheli commented to Rustavi2.
According to Khidasheli. Georgia is seeking a simple and effective outlet for protecting its security as is needed for the security of an independent country.
11 December,2015 17:32
CryBullies
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Scalia was wrong: Students admitted through affirmative action thrive at elite colleges - The Washington Post
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 03:35
After Supreme Court justices debated the use of race in college admissions in oral arguments over a landmark case Wednesday, one question jumped out for many people: Could affirmative action based on race actually hinder some of the students it was designed to help, as some justices suggested?
[Court divided over University of Texas race-based admissions]
[Where Justice Scalia got the idea that black students might be better off at 'slower-track' universities]
Sigal Alon, an associate professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University and author of a new book from the Russell Sage Foundation,''Race, Class, and Affirmative Action,'' explains what her research indicates: Affirmative action, whether based on race or class, does not hurt recipients' chances of success.
By Sigal Alon
As the Supreme Court revisits Fisher v. University of Texas, and potentially the future of affirmative action in American higher education, we are seeing a recurring myth raised in the original case resurface.
In his concurring opinion on Fisher in 2013, Justice Clarence Thomas posited that as a result of race-based affirmative action, ''many blacks and Hispanics who likely would have excelled at less elite schools are placed in a position where underperformance is all but inevitable because they are less academically prepared than the white and Asian students with whom they must compete.''
Thomas went on to say that, because of affirmative action, these students ''may learn less'' than if they had attended less elite schools.
During oral arguments Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia said that ''really competent blacks'' would not need special considerations to be admitted to selective colleges.
''There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to '-- to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less '-- a slower-track school where they do well,'' he said.
They are wrong.
This claim, known as the mismatch hypothesis, is used to promote the class-based road to affirmative action in place of race-conscious admissions.
The assumption is that the beneficiaries of class-based affirmative action are not destined for failure in elite academic settings.
With new evidence to evaluate this claim my research confirms that this mismatch problem does not exist in affirmative action.
For my book ''Race, Class, and Affirmative Action,'' I studied a race-neutral, class-based affirmative action policy that was implemented in the mid-2000s by four of Israel's most selective universities. The first of its kind to be implemented in university admissions anywhere in the world, this policy favors applicants from socioeconomically underprivileged backgrounds in admissions and does not take race into consideration at all.
Using the data from the Israeli universities, I examined what the academic outcomes of the class-based admits would have been if they had enrolled at less selective programs. I compared the academic outcomes '-- grades and graduation chances '-- of students from two groups: students who just barely passed the disadvantage cutoff for this voluntary class-based policy (the beneficiaries of the policy) and similar students who applied for preferential treatment but were just below the cutoff (did not benefit from the policy).
The results prove that eligibility for class-based affirmative action is not associated with subpar academic performance.
The beneficiaries of affirmative action do just as well academically, if not better, than other students. Overall, class-based admits are more likely to graduate and do so with slightly higher grades relative to those admits just below the affirmative action cutoff.
Thus, the claim that the beneficiaries of class-based affirmative action will not find it hard to keep up with their classmates at elite institutions is correct.
But does the mismatch hypothesis still hold true for race-conscious admissions policies? In my analyses, I compared minority students who benefited from race-based affirmative action and attended elite colleges in the U.S., to students from deprived socioeconomic backgrounds who would have been eligible for class-based affirmative action if they had been implemented at elite colleges.
Both groups of high school graduates had similar test scores, AP courses and grades before college. In fact, the test scores and high school GPAs of the class-based admits are higher, on average, than those of the race-based admits.
Yet, I find that the beneficiaries of race-based affirmative action at elite American institutions are better integrated academically and socially by the end of their first years in college, compared to their counterparts from socioeconomically underprivileged backgrounds who attended less selective schools, and are more likely to complete their bachelor's studies.
The findings from both countries, when taken together, unequivocally establish that affirmative action, whether class- or race-based, does not harm admits' success in college or labor market prospects.
To the contrary, the beneficiaries of preferential treatment in college admissions in Israel and the U.S. thrive at elite colleges. They would not be better off attending less selective colleges instead.
Experts predict that the Supreme Court may pressure schools to find race-neutral ways of achieving student diversity and American colleges and universities may decide to move from race to class in affirmative action, but the court should think twice before using the mismatch myth as a rationale for this move.
Read more:
Supreme Court sends back to lower courts UT admissions case
University of Michigan offers itself as test case on race-conscious admission
Affirmative action hurts students it's intended to help, UCLA law professor argues - The College Fix
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 03:34
A UCLA law professor critiques affirmative action as detrimental to the very people it strives to aid: minority students.
Professor Richard Sander, though liberal-leaning, has deemed affirmative action practices as harmful, a notion that contradicts a liberal view in college admissions, said Stuart Taylor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Taylor credits Sander for evaluating the facts rather than searching for information only to bolster his political ideologies, he said.
Mismatch is born
Sander began teaching law at UCLA in 1989. After a few years he garnered an interest in academic support and asked permission to analyze which strategies most effectively assist struggling students.
After reviewing statistics on performance, especially those of students with lower academic merit, he noticed correlations between race and academic success.
''I was struck by both the degree to which it correlated with having weak academic entering credentials and its correlation with race,'' Sander said in a recent interview with The College Fix. ''And as I looked into our admissions process I realized that we were giving really a large admissions preference.''
Sander noticed that students admitted into the law school with lower academic credentials than their peers had significantly lower percentages of passing the Multistate Bar Examination, Sander said. This especially pertained to minority students who were given special consideration in the admittance process due to their race rather than their academic preparedness.
He then began thinking about whether or not these students would have better chances of succeeding if they went to a less elite university, he said.
He called this discrepancy a mismatch; when minority students with lower credentials than their peers are accepted into more challenging universities and then suffer academically as a result.
He and Taylor wrote about this phenomenon in the book they co-authored, ''Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It.''
''Though their liberal leanings would indicate support for race-based policies, Sander and Taylor argue that the research shows that affirmative action does not in fact help minorities,'' the 2012 book's summary states. ''Racial preferences in higher education put a great many students in educational settings where they have no hope of competing'--a phenomenon that they call 'mismatch.' '... Compelling evidence shows that racial preferences double the rate at which black students fail bar exams and may well in the end reduce, rather than increase, the aggregate number of black lawyers.''
Opposition to Mismatch
Vikram Amar, dean of the University of the Illinois College of Law, said he is not convinced that there is a mismatch that is harming minority students.
''It's not that I think it's terrible to ask the questions he's asking,'' Amar said in a recent interview with The College Fix. ''I'm just not sold that there's the case he is making that has proven his big claim.''
For example, a student who gets into Harvard Law School with the credentials more representative of the average law student at the University of Michigan would not necessarily fail. The benefits of attending the more rigorous school would outweigh the disadvantage of being less academically prepared, he said. Rather, it would be more beneficial to offer resources to help those students once admitted rather than send them to less-elite schools.
It is more difficult to measure the effect affirmative action has on employment than Sander suggests, Amar said.
Amar said in an article he wrote on the subject that Sander does retain more credibility than many Republican critics, however, because ''he is critiquing a liberal policy from the perspective of someone personally committed to liberal causes.''
How Mismatch Works
There are three types of mismatch: learning, competition and social.
Learning mismatch occurs when less academically prepared students work alongside students who are more prepared. The former may start to feel lost and will have difficulty learning in the more rigorous environment, Sander said.
Competition mismatch also occurs in the classroom when struggling students begin earning lower grades than their counterparts. Ill-prepared minority students have a high rate of dropping out of difficult programs, such as science programs, when mismatched because receiving lower grades may diminish their confidence, Sander said. Students are more likely to succeed in less competitive environments.
The final type of mismatch is social. Students are naturally more likely to forge friendships with others at similar skill levels. Mismatched minority students may have more difficulty befriending more competitive students which can be isolating, Sander said.
Learning mismatch is the operative mismatch in the law school instance, he said.
Sander became even more perturbed by the Supreme Court's rulings in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger in which the constitutionality of the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Law School, respectively, were questioned.
Sander said he felt these rulings only served to encourage universities to be dishonest about their racial preferences. In response, he wrote a highly controversial article on mismatch.
His article was sensitive to the point that the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, which initially agreed to publish his article, then retracted their offer. Stanford Law Review then accepted his article.
However, a group of law professors began pressuring the Stanford Law Review against publishing the article. The Stanford Law Review did publish Sander's article, but accompanied it with multiple criticisms, more than Sander was originally informed of, Sander said.
''That was really problematic because it just gave the impression that the whole academic world was united in thinking that this was a bad piece of scholarship, when in fact it was a very vocal minority that was upset about it,'' Sander told The Fix.
These obstacles served as great deterrents to his continuing research, he said. He even lost friends because of his articles and findings.
''Academia is supposed to be about open inquiry, and one of the prime examples of where academia has fallen very short of its ideals,'' Sander said.
Transparency in universities
One of his concerns was the lack of transparency in the university admittance processes all over the nation, he said.
Many schools were not honest about the degree of emphasis they put on race in relation to grades and test scores. This was one of the major points in the book he and Taylor co-authored.
Schools also failed to reveal the effectiveness of these preferences. Many law schools champion an average Multistate Bar Examination rate, but fail to offer information regarding the average passage rates of those admitted with lesser credentials.
This only works to ''lure people in only telling them what the average bar passage rate is for the whole school, and in fact often claiming that all their students have roughly the same chances of passing the Bar,'' Sander said.
Many of these students will spend large amounts of money with significantly lower chances of passing the exam and becoming licensed to practice law, he said. If a school provided information on the success of students at different academic levels, then at least students would be informed when deciding which law school to enroll in.
Affirmative action became a large movement to combat the insensitivity of universities to race. These actions served to help racial healing, but the initial idea was that racial preferences in admittance would serve to bridge the gap between white and minority students in the university setting. It was meant to be a temporary fix, but test score gaps, though improving for a while, stabilized in the 1980s and have failed to close further, Sander said.
And now it is difficult for schools to retract their affirmative action policies.
Affirmative action ultimately leads to an unwarranted fixation on race, Sander said. While he does think it is healthy for schools to be race conscious, this practice has ultimately been abused.
Affirmative action today
Taylor said he does not think race should be on university applications.
History has shown that when race is included into the acceptance process, universities use it excessively, he said. Race will always be considered to some extent, but he does not believe it is a good policy to consider race in the admittance equation.
''There's always going to be racial diversity because there's always going to be students from every ethnic minority group, some who are outstanding, and also there will always be some degree of racial preference no matter what the law says,'' Taylor said.
Ultimately, mismatch sets up minority students who do not have the same academic preparedness for failure, Taylor said.
In 2006, Sander and other scholars asked the California Bar, one of the largest bars in the U.S., to analyze data from previous examinations such as LSAT scores, undergraduate grades and race in relation to bar passage rates.
(Though Amar said in his article that he does not necessarily agree with Sander's views on affirmative action, he does support examining the data to see what it reveals.)
When Sander approached the California Bar about accessing this data '-- 30 years worth of background information '-- law schools organized resistance and convinced the California Bar to deny such inquiries saying that such disclosure would threaten the privacy of these who had taken the test.
Sander responded by suing the bar with some public interest lawyers. The Supreme Court ruled that the bar had the responsibility to make this information public. But a way to ensure the protection previous bar-takers' identities has not yet been litigated. Schools have also stopped sending data to the bar, so any eventual analysis of the data will be dated, Sander said.
''Normal standards of academic inquiry are just completely thrown out the window when political correctness rears its head,'' Sander said.
The trial to try and make this data publicly available is set for next June.
''It's close enough to taste, but we're not tasting it,'' Sander said.
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Host - The Next System Teach-ins
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 23:34
An initiative of...
Photo credits: ''India fields and wind turbines'' CC BY 2.0 by Saravask 19 August 2007, ''Hanging gardens of One Central Park, Sydney" CC BY 2.0 by Ashton 29 13 March 2014. ''Hands In'' CC BY 2.0 by Michelle Stearn. "A Block at Alcatraz." CC license by Nonie Australia, Wikimedia. "Bank Vault at the Morton Hotel" by Grant Carmichel. "Occupy New York" CC license by Darwin Yamamoto. "Hazelwood Power Station seen from the air" CC BY-SA 3.0 uploaded by Mriya~commonswiki 6 June 2009. "North End" by by Mike Rhodes (C) 2000''2015 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, permission for non-commercial reuse. "A Gulfstream G450 belonging to the Safeway Corporation is seen on the tarmac at Oxnard Airport" CC license by SpartanSW. "Oakland, 2010" CC license by Thomas Hawk. "'Top Gun' flying over Lower Otay Reservoir" public domain by U.S. DefenseImagery. Maps for Pilot Teach-Ins: Watercolor, Stamen Maps. All photos altered.
Next Wave of Student Protests Takes Aim at Capitalism
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 23:32
After an historic year of campus activism, a new movement is building on college campuses to spearhead a nationwide conversation '-- how to outlast capitalism.
In the last month or so, an unprecedented wave of activism has spread across college campuses nationwide. From the Million Student March to end student debt and implement tuition-free public colleges and universities, to the Black Lives Matter protests that were spontaneously organized to show solidarity with black students at the University of Missouri and other students fighting structural racism on campuses, the last month has been the busiest for student activism in decades.
But in 2016, an entirely new wave of campus activism is hitting schools in the form of teach-ins, chiefly focused on finding a way to move beyond capitalism as the dominant socioeconomic system in the United States.
''Growing up, we were taught that there were only two choices for an economic system: state socialism or unfettered capitalism, which is false,'' said Dana Brown, coordinator of the Next System Project's teach-ins. ''But there has yet to be a national discussion about what comes after our current system and how we get there. We believe college campuses are the best place to begin that conversation.''
Brown stresses that the coming wave of teach-ins, which will start in earnest at college campuses in New York City and Madison, Wisconsin, aren't to advocate for one system over another. Rather, the teach-ins are aimed at sharing ideas for potential solutions, which The Next System Project plans to post online to be shared nationwide. The official website, teachins.org, explains the goal of the project:
Our society faces a systemic crisis, not simply political and economic troubles. The economy is stagnating. The political system is stalemated. Communities are in decay. The planet itself is threatened by climate change. Traditional strategies to achieve equitable and sustainable social, economic, and ecological outcomes no longer work '... It's time to talk about the real alternatives we know exist and learn how to make them a reality for our communities.
''People are aware that the existing system is in profound trouble,'' historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz told US Uncut. ''Throughout most of the 20th century, in Europe and the US, there was a balancing act between growth and inequality. That was kept in partial check by progressive movements and the power of unions in politics. But that structure largely collapsed with the collapse of organized labor.''
Alperovitz argues that America's once-mighty labor unions, which have been on a rapid decline since the Reagan administration, are waning in influence, creating a power vacuum that politically-active young people on college campuses can fill. The trends appear to bear out Alperovitz' hypothesis: Between 1973 and 2011, American union membership has halved as a percentage of the total workforce, according to the Economic Policy Institute:
The Next System Project is right to target the millennial generation '-- nearly one-third of Americans between 18 and 39 have a favorable view of socialism, which is high compared to just 15 percent of people over 65 who feel the same way. The Pew Research Center recently learned that an astounding 50 percent of Americans between 18 and 49 approve of socialism.
''When a majority of people under 50 favor socialism over capitalism, you're witnessing a profound cultural change,'' Alperovitz said.
So what exactly is a teach-in, and why is it being used as a tool to take on capitalism today?
In terms of format, the teach-in is the most open-ended and decentralized setting for an educational forum, creating space for people of varying ideologies and experience to engage in ongoing dialogue. Teach-ins first emerged during the resistance to the Vietnam War 50 years ago, on the University of Michigan campus, spread to Berkeley, California, and famously blossomed into a nationwide revolt against the Nixon administration's militaristic foreign policy.
Teach-ins about the corporatization of higher education also played a significant role in the lead-up to the pivotal WTO protests of 1999 in Seattle, Washington, in which 100,000 people gathered to protest globalization and economically-disastrous ''free trade'' policies. As scholar and activist Ben Manski wrote in the Berkeley Journal, the Seattle protests were one of the major catalysts that sparked similar mass protests around the country opposed to global capitalism:
In much of the Global North, the coalitions that had led the opposition to the WTO, IMF, and World Bank became, after September 11, 2001, leading voices in opposing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In the U.S., many of the veterans of Seattle also became leaders in the new voting rights movement that emerged in response to the Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 presidential recounts '... By 2008, when global capitalism crashed, the global movement that had won one of its first major victories in Seattle had matured and become a part of the everyday culture of tens'--perhaps hundreds'--of millions of people across the planet.
Just as the 1965 University of Michigan teach-ins spread to Berkeley and gave birth to a nationwide uprising against war, and just as the pro-Democracy teach-ins of the late 1990s created the spark that led to an outpouring of resistance to global capitalism in Seattle, Dana Brown hopes that 2016's teach-ins will spawn a new student-driven movement that will eventually create a political and economic system that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.
''Whether it's protesting the crushing levels of student debt, getting a school to divest its money from the fossil fuel industry, or fighting racism, college campuses have become havens for meaningful action in recent years,'' Brown said. ''None of us knows what the answer will be. But our goal is to make that conversation happen.''
Those interested in the project can learn more and get involved at teachins.org.
C. Robert Gibson is editor-in-chief of US Uncut. His work has been published in The Guardian, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Salon, and the Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs.
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CYBER!
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Apple releases first Arabic version of Siri
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 15:52
Apple and its primary smartphone competitor, Google, have saturated the United States and Western Europe with their devices, leaving markets such as the Middle East, China and India as some of the prime places to grow.
Apple already boasts strong brand awareness in the Middle East, particularly among high-end consumers, analysts said. The opening of two retail stores in the UAE in October whipped fans into a frenzy, local media reported.
Smartphone shipments in the Middle East and Africa climbed 66 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and are expected to reach 155 million units for the year, according to IDC.
However, much of the growth has been driven by users buying phones for less than $200, a price where Google's Android operating system is dominant. Apple's share of the market stands at 17 percent in the Middle East, compared with Android's 80 percent, IDC found.
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Cyber bill vote in sight
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:49
Congress
Cyber bill vote in sightBy Sean LyngaasDec 10, 2015Legislators in both the House and Senate say privacy concerns in a cybersecurity information-sharing bill have been addressed to the point that a vote on the bill is possible before the end of the year.
Members of both chambers' intelligence committees are in ongoing talks to iron out the details -- squaring the Senate-passed Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act with a pair of corresponding bills that passed the House of Representatives in order to craft a final cybersecurity bill.
"I am hoping that we can finish the negotiations on the cyber bill today so that we can take it up this week, and I hope pass it before we conclude the session," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters Dec. 10. "I would hate to have to start all over next year."
The ongoing bicameral discussions include the White House, and "there's a broad agreement among all the parties on the major issues," a source close to the House intelligence committee told FCW.
"We are encouraged by the progress members are making on cybersecurity information sharing legislation, and are hopeful that the Senate and House can work together to send this legislation to the President's desk as soon as possible," an Obama administration official told FCW.
It has been a long journey for legislation designed to incentivize the sharing of cyber threat information between and among the public and private sectors. Privacy concerns raised by some lawmakers and civil liberties groups have derailed such legislation in the past, but backers of the bill hope they've done enough on privacy this go-round.
"I think we have made light years of progress from where the bill was last session," Schiff said, stressing the importance to privacy of having the civilian Department of Homeland Security be the clearinghouse for threat data.
"I think the White House is pleased with how we're proceeding," he added.
"We're still methodically going through it," Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said of the information-sharing bill. "We've got just a couple items to finish with."
Burr and Schiff spoke to reporters after members of Congress received classified briefings on the San Bernardino terrorist attacks from top administration officials.
Burr said that so far there is no evidence the attackers used encrypted communications, but he speculated that the absence of transmissions between the attackers could mean there are "missing communications which were very likely encrypted."
FBI Director James Comey has repeatedly warned of the challenge posed to law enforcement officials by end-to-end encryption.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
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Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) FY16.1 - Federal Business Opportunities: Opportunities
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 19:54
Opportunity HistorySolicitation Number:
HSHQDC-16-R-00012
Notice Type:
Presolicitation
Contracting Office Address:
Office of the Chief Procurement OfficerWashington, District of Columbia 20528United States
Primary Point of Contact.:
General InformationNotice Type:
Presolicitation
Posted Date:
December 1, 2015
Response Date:
Jan 20, 2016 2:00 pm Eastern
Archiving Policy:
Automatic, 15 days after response date
Archive Date:
February 4, 2016
Set Aside:
Total Small Business
Classification Code:
A -- Research & Development
NAICS Code:
541 -- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services/541712 -- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)
DHS seeks plug and play surveillance video access -- FCW
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 19:54
DHS seeks plug and play surveillance video accessWHAT: A presoliciation notice from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to develop a prototype system for a ''plug and play'' audio/video system that can quickly access commercial video security systems and rebroadcast the signals to emergency responders and law enforcement.
WHY: In the movies, spies and investigators are always able to plug into a centralized control system for disparate security systems to track targets.
In real life, it doesn't work that way'...yet.
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office want a way for law enforcement and emergency responders to access the increasingly varied video security systems they encounter in the field to increase situational awareness in emergency situations and national security events.
While the goal is an interoperable video surveillance ecosystem, the notice makes a point of mentioning access to the private systems must be obtained with permission from the owners before such a system is used.
S&T and DNDO want small business help in a phased development process for the technology.
The first phase, they said, is development of a concept for a self-contained, portable system that can quickly capture digital and analog video and audio transmissions from the hard wired or wireless closed circuit and networked security systems commonly used in the public and private sectors. The concept will include a kind of middleware tool to provide interoperability among a variety of systems used in large venues like sports arenas or commercial buildings.
The second phase is a demonstration of a prototype system, a walk-through of how the system works, as well as a plan to prevent unauthorized users from access it.
Click here to read the full solicitation.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 07, 2015 at 3:44 PM
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Hillary Clinton Urges Silicon Valley to 'Disrupt' ISIS - NYTimes.com
Sun, 06 Dec 2015 23:39
WASHINGTON '-- Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that the Islamic State had become ''the most effective recruiter in the world'' and that the only solution was to engage American technology companies in blocking or taking down militants' websites, videos and encrypted communications.
''You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: 'Freedom of speech,' '' Mrs. Clinton said in an hourlong speech and question-and-answer session at the Brookings Institution's annual Saban Forum, a gathering that focuses mostly on Israel's security issues.
In a reference to Silicon Valley's reverence for disruptive technologies, Mrs. Clinton said, ''We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS,'' an acronym for the militant group.
It was the second time in two weeks that Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, had thrown herself into the brewing battle between Silicon Valley and the government over what steps should be taken to block the use of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and a range of encrypted apps that are adopted by terrorist groups.
But it also risks putting her at odds with technology executives and entrepreneurs crucial to her campaign's fund-raising.
Mrs. Clinton used the forum to continue staking out a far harder line on Iran than President Obama has in public. She repeatedly threatened to take what she called ''harsh'' steps at the first sign that Iran seeks to violate commitments it made in the July nuclear agreement, which sharply limits its ability to possess or produce nuclear fuel for the next 15 years.
She said there should be ''no doubt in Tehran'' that if the United States saw ''any violations in the deal'' or an effort to procure or develop nuclear weapons technology, ''we will stop them,'' including she added, ''taking military action.''
At one point, responding to a question from the audience, she referred to using the ''nuclear option'' against Iran '-- usually interpreted as using a nuclear weapon '-- before her attention was caught by a prominent member of the audience, Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court.
''Oh, the military option'... thank you Justice Breyer, he's a careful listener,'' Mrs. Clinton said, reiterating that she meant a military option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
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DHS pushing for more public-private partnership on cyber -- FCW
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 17:54
Cybersecurity
DHS pushing for more public-private partnership on cyberBy Aisha ChowdhryDec 04, 2015The Department of Homeland Security is looking to further expand its cooperation with Israel on cyberspace over the coming year, DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Dec. 4.
Mayorkas, who said he spends a fair amount of time in his position dealing with cyber issues, travelled to Israel this summer to discuss cybersecurity and other areas of collaboration. The last significant and formal cyber agreement with Israeli partners came in 2008 and Mayorkas is looking to build on that, with an increase in the public and private partnership realm.
"We in the department are so increasingly focused on the cybersecurity threat and efforts to address that threat in a public private partnership and with our partners across the world," he said. "Because of course the interconnectedness of the world speaks to the possibilities, but also speaks very powerfully of the threat"
Mayorkas said he was "astounded" to learn of Israel's cyber innovations, and both parties agreed to cooperate on cyber incident management. He noted, "we have a lot to learn from one another." The deputy secretary plans to visit Israel again in late January of next year to talk about cyber issues. He said it is "vitally important in the cyber space area for the public and private sectors to work together."
The bulk of the speech Mayorkas gave at a forum in Washington revolved around U.S.-Israel cooperation on matters of cyber, but he also noted that when cyber breaches occur, they affect the partners of the United States as well. And while he did not directly blame China for anything specific, Mayorkas made it a point to talk about the recent U.S.-China cyber dialogue, which concluded Dec. 3.
The first high-level dialogue on cybercrime and related issues was held in Washington on Dec. 1 after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the White House in September of this year. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, together with Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun, co-chaired the dialogue.
The U.S. and China established guidelines for combatting cybercrime and related issues, agreed to a joint threat response exercise to take place in 2016, agreed to establish a hotline mechanism to better address cyber threats and promised to focus on enhancing cooperation in cyber-enabled crime.
A day after the dialogue started, reports surfaced that Chinese officials said they had arrested the hackers responsible for the theft of personal information through the Office of Personnel Management breach. U.S. officials had long suspected Chinese hackers to be behind the massive breach, which compromised sensitive information on more than 22 million current and former federal workers, contractors and federal job applicants.
"We are taking the approach that actions speak louder than words," Mayorkas told reporters on Friday. So we will be watching the actions to make sure that they [Chinese officials] adhere to the norms and the principles that we have been articulating."
He said the focus of the conversation was not on enforcement and the enforcement response, but "rather working together on a different channel to patch and remediate the vulnerabilities."
About the Author
Aisha Chowdhry is a staff writer covering Congress, the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security. Connect with her on Twitter: @aishach.
DHS Contract Expands Anti-Hacker EINSTEIN Protection to Every Agency - Nextgov.com
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:30
Internet Service Provider CenturyLink has won a multiyear contract worth up to $10.8 million dollars to fill gaps in a governmentwide firewall, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The deal was inked to complete a goal of making so-called EINSTEIN 3A network protections available to all civilian agencies by Dec. 31, a DHS official told Nextgov on Tuesday.
It also conforms to a sweeping cyber shape-up plan the White House launched in October, following an Office of Personnel Management hack that exposed background check records on 21.5 million Americans applying for access to classified materials and their families.
Right now, EINSTEIN 3A's intrusion-blocking services are only offered to agencies receiving telecommunications services from CenturyLink, AT&T or Verizon. Agencies that connect to the Internet through Sprint, Level 3 or other providers are not protected.
CenturyLink now will secure those agencies that cannot obtain EINSTEIN 3A services from their ISPs.
''We're the only provider authorized to offer E3A to federal civilian agencies where CenturyLink is not the Internet service provider,'' company spokeswoman Linda Johnson said.
AT&T and Verizon will continue offering the services to their respective customers, the DHS official said.
CenturyLink's EINSTEIN 3A program blocks suspicious domain names, filters out malicious email and looks for "signatures" of hacking activity, company officials said on Monday.
The Oct. 30 Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan indicated an award announcement was imminent.
"DHS has issued a contract action that will provide EINSTEIN 3A protections to participating agencies that are not covered by the ISPs currently under contract," Shaun Donovan, the White House Office of Management and Budget director, and Tony Scott, the U.S. chief information officer, said in the memo.
These network protections -- enhancements to earlier intrusion-''detection'' versions of EINSTEIN -- can actually repel intruders attempting to enter U.S. government systems. This is done by scanning email metadata and Internet traffic for known characteristics of hacker operations, such as infected attachments and malicious Web addresses.
DHS also is testing technology that could block hackers trying to break in through weaknesses in software not publicly known, called "zero day" exploits, Donovan and Scott said. The tactic relies on "behavioral-based analytics," essentially algorithms that spot abnormal user activity or unusual Internet traffic patterns. Results from the trial are due to the White House by March 31, 2016.
The CenturyLink contract consists of a $1.2 million six-month base award, with four 1-year options -- making the total value $10.8 million, according to DHS. The EINSTEIN initiative is estimated to have cost $3 billion since its inception.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on July 8, shortly after the OPM hack was announced, challenged the department to make aspects of E3A "available" to all federal civilian agencies by the end of 2015.
But he and lawmakers have warned that even agencies where EINSTEIN is available are not using the protections.
Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Tom Carper, D-Del., who helm the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have sponsored legislation that would mandate the use of the tool. Currently, EINSTEIN 3A blankets less than half of the civilian government. Some agencies are hesitant, for legal reasons, to share citizen data with DHS, which operates EINSTEIN, Homeland Security officials say.
On Nov. 19, the Government Accountability Office announced the release of a classified report on EINSTEIN, or, as it's officially known, the National Cybersecurity Protection System. The audit, titled "DHS Needs to Enhance Capabilities, Improve Planning, and Support Greater Adoption of Its National Cybersecurity Protection System," reinforces Johnson's concern that EINSTEIN is not living up to its potential, a committee aide said.
(Image via deepadesigns/Shutterstock.com)
CenturyLink awarded DHS EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated service expansion contract
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:29
CenturyLink awarded DHS EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated service expansion contractCompany to provide critical cybersecurity services to federal agencies
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) was recently awarded a service expansion contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated (E3A) protections to U.S. federal civilian agencies that cannot access E3A services through their existing Internet service provider.
CenturyLink was previously awarded a contract to provide EINSTEIN cybersecurity protections to the company's customers in March 2013.
Through E3A, CenturyLink has been offering web Domain Name System protections, advanced email filtering and signature-based intrusion prevention security services to federal civilian agencies that receive their Internet service through CenturyLink.
This service expansion contract allows CenturyLink to offer E3A services to departments and agencies that receive their Internet service from other providers that aren't able to deploy these critical cybersecurity protections.
The new contract helps DHS strengthen America's defense against growing cyber threats and meet the objectives outlined by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to make E3A protections available to all federal civilian agencies by the end of 2015.
DHS's EINSTEIN program uses network traffic patterns indicating known or suspected malicious cyber activity to help participating federal agencies protect their IT systems.
EINSTEIN capabilities are provided through a combination of commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, government-developed software, and commercially available managed security services that are enhanced by DHS-provided information.
"CenturyLink is excited to be able to offer EINSTEIN cybersecurity protections to more federal agencies," said CenturyLink Senior Vice President and General Manager Tim Meehan, who leads the company's federal government team. "CenturyLink's E3A service was the first to achieve initial operating capability from DHS and the first fully operational E3A system to begin actively providing cybersecurity services to federal civilian agencies' end-users."
CenturyLink is also a fully approved commercial services provider under the DHS Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program, which helps U.S.-based companies protect their IT systems from unauthorized access, exploitation and data exfiltration.
By supplying E3A and ECS services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink is able to provide federal government agencies and U.S.-based companies with the information security and reliability they need to carry out their missions.
CenturyLink is ranked No. 37 on Washington Technology's 2015 Top 100 list of federal government IT contractors.
About CenturyLinkCenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is a global communications, hosting, cloud and IT services company enabling millions of customers to transform their businesses and their lives through innovative technology solutions. CenturyLink offers network and data systems management, big data analytics and IT consulting, and operates more than 55 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia. The company provides broadband, voice, video, data and managed services over a robust 250,000-route-mile U.S. fiber network and a 300,000-route-mile international transport network. Visit CenturyLink for more information.
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SOURCE CenturyLink, Inc.
DHS expands CenturyLink's work on Einstein
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:23
Cybersecurity
DHS expands CenturyLink's work on EinsteinBy Mark RockwellDec 09, 2015The Department of Homeland Security has tapped CenturyLink to provide Einstein 3 Accelerated protections to federal civilian agencies that cannot get the services through their existing Internet service providers.
CenturyLink, which was originally awarded a contract to provide Einstein services to federal customers in March 2013, has been providing civilian agencies with E3A services, including web Domain Name System protection, email filtering and intrusion prevention.
AT&T jumped on the E3A bandwagon in November, and Verizon also offers the network security shield. But agencies that obtain services from telecommunications carriers that do not participate in Einstein must turn to a third-party provider.
U.S. CIO Tony Scott announced plans to extend E3A protections to all agencies by Dec. 31 under the Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan, which also directs federal agencies to report major cybersecurity breaches to Congress within seven days of discovery.
The plan's other goals include issuing a governmentwide contract vehicle for cybersecurity incident response by April 30, 2016, and having the National Institute of Standards and Technology release guidance to help agencies recover from breaches by June 30, 2016.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
Cyber legislation could hitch a ride on funding bill
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:22
Congress
Cyber legislation could hitch a ride on funding billBy Aisha ChowdhryDec 09, 2015The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said cybersecurity legislation could make its way into the omnibus appropriations bill this year.
However, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said, "I prefer we go through the normal regular process" and move the bill as a "separate vehicle."
On Dec. 8, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told reporters that it was possible cybersecurity legislation would be added to the omnibus bill.
"I don't ever rule any vehicle out because I hate to pass on a vehicle that I know is going to find its way to the president," Burr said.
Still, there are differences that must be resolved between the House and Senate cybersecurity bills. Both chambers want some liability and antitrust protection for companies that share information on cyberthreats with the government. However, the House bill limits direct access to shared information to the Department of Homeland Security while the Senate bill permits some direct access by intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency.
Burr said those differences are being worked out. But at a Dec. 9 breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, McCaul said the language related to the DHS information-sharing portal seems to be a topic of disagreement.
He said technology companies would prefer that intelligence agencies not be included in the portal "because...that will kill the business overseas."
Burr told FCW on Dec. 8 that "we worked out problems with the administration and [DHS] before we ever moved on the bill in the Senate."
In November, before the differences between the bills were being hashed out, McCaul said he expected and hoped that "privacy groups are going to weigh in very heavily in this conference committee."
This week, he said, "If this is not done right and the privacy groups are not satisfied or the technology companies are not satisfied, we will lose votes on the omnibus." He added that the Senate and House are close to reaching agreement on a bill that privacy advocates "will appreciate."
About the Author
Aisha Chowdhry is a staff writer covering Congress, the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security. Connect with her on Twitter: @aishach.
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Shut Up Slave!
Eric Schmidt on How to Build a Better Web - NYTimes.com
Authoritarian governments tell their citizens that censorship is necessary for stability. It's our responsibility to demonstrate that stability and free expression go hand in hand. We should make it ever easier to see the news from another country's point of view, and understand the global consciousness free from filter or bias. We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media '-- sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment. We should target social accounts for terrorist groups like the Islamic State, and remove videos before they spread, or help those countering terrorist messages to find their voice. Without this type of leadership from government, from citizens, from tech companies, the Internet could become a vehicle for further disaggregation of poorly built societies, and the empowerment of the wrong people, and the wrong voices.
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:37
This is an article from Turning Points, a magazine that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead.
Turning Point:The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria declares a war on Twitter.
For those of us who have enjoyed access to the Internet for decades now, it can be pretty difficult to remember our first online interactions. But there are plenty of people for whom that feeling is recent and powerful: In just the past five years, more than a billion users have connected to the Internet for the first time. Whether on a desktop or a smartphone, through broadband or Google's high-altitude balloon Wi-Fi network, they are only now experiencing how profound the simple act of getting online can be. Consider, for instance, that a girl in a schoolhouse in rural Indonesia may read this article on a tablet today '-- something that was impossible for her as recently as a year ago. Her experience online, when she leaves this article and ventures out onto the rest of the Web, is one that holds great potential.
John Perry Barlow wrote in his essay ''A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace'' that the Internet promised ''a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.'' In many ways, that promise has been realized. The Internet has created safe spaces for communities to connect, communicate, organize and mobilize, and it has helped many people to find their place and their voice. It has engendered new forms of free expression, and granted access to ideas that didn't exist before. Children have educations they never would have gotten otherwise; entrepreneurs have started businesses they couldn't even have imagined without it. It has created friendships, strengthened connections and fulfilled dreams for billions of people around the world. It's been heralded as a driver of democracy, enabling citizen uprisings and on-the-ground reporting during the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong and protests in Brazil and India this year.
Weinberg-Clark Photography
As with all great advances in technology, expanded Web access has also brought with it some serious challenges, like threats to free speech, qualms about surveillance and fears of online terrorist activity. For all the good people can do with new tools and new inventions, there are always some who will seek to do harm. Ever since there's been fire, there's been arson.
In Myanmar, connectivity fans the flames of violence against the Rohingya, the minority Muslim population. In Russia, farms of online trolls systematically harass democratic voices and spread false information on the Internet and on social media. And in the Middle East, terrorists use social media to recruit new members. In particular, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has harnessed social media to appeal to disaffected young people, giving them a sense of belonging and direction that they are not getting anywhere else. The militants' propaganda videos are high on style and production value. They're slick and marketable. In short, they are deluding some people to believe that living a life fueled by hatred and violence is actually '... cool.
This is where our own relationship with the Internet, and with technology, must be examined more closely. The Internet is not just a series of tubes transmitting information from place to place, terminal to terminal, without regard for those typing on their keyboards or reading on their screens. The people who use any technology are the ones who need to define its role in society. Technology doesn't work on its own, after all. It's just a tool. We are the ones who harness its power.
Think back to the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s, during which the lives of minorities changed radically in a very short period of time as a result of concerted activism, inviting and open conversation and an empathy that had been missing to that point. Well, that was before people could meet in cyberspace and rally around a common set of ideals, before they could have a debate with someone in another hemisphere as if they were in the same room and before we could watch videos taken from people's cellphones and see what others around the world are standing up for, and who they are standing up to.
Now we have all that at our disposal '-- we just need to take advantage of it. It's all too easy to use the Internet exclusively to connect with like-minded people rather than seek out perspectives that we wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. This sort of tribalism masks the need for common values and strong leadership. Societies are built one value, and one bargain, at a time. And it's important we use that connectivity to promote the values that bring out the best in people.
The Internet is showing us the raw reality of the lives of oppressed people and their real needs, and it is also allowing some of our worst traits '-- in the form of envy, oppression and hate '-- to come into full view as well. We need strong leaders worldwide who will fight broadly for human progress and tolerance, and focus on bettering everyone's lives. We need leaders to use the new power of technology to allow us to broaden our horizons as individuals, and in the process broaden the horizons of our society.
Authoritarian governments tell their citizens that censorship is necessary for stability. It's our responsibility to demonstrate that stability and free expression go hand in hand. We should make it ever easier to see the news from another country's point of view, and understand the global consciousness free from filter or bias. We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media '-- sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment. We should target social accounts for terrorist groups like the Islamic State, and remove videos before they spread, or help those countering terrorist messages to find their voice. Without this type of leadership from government, from citizens, from tech companies, the Internet could become a vehicle for further disaggregation of poorly built societies, and the empowerment of the wrong people, and the wrong voices.
The good news is, it's all within reach. Intuition, compassion, creativity '-- these are the tools that we will use to combat violence and terror online, to drown out the hate with a broadly shared humanity that only the Web makes possible. It's up to us to make sure that when the young girl reading this in Indonesia on her tablet moves on from this page, the Web that awaits her is a safe and vibrant place, free from coercion and conformity.
Eric E. Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, is the author, with Jared Cohen, of ''The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses and Our Lives'' and ''How Google Works,'' with Jonathan Rosenberg.
Moral Self Licensing
Changing your Facebook profile picture is doing more good than you might think - Vox
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:03
Following a set of terrorist attacks on Paris that killed 129 people in November, one thing was clear to pretty much every American with a Facebook account: their friends stood with France. That's because soon after the attacks, Americans across the country enabled a feature on Facebookallowing them to superimpose the French flag on their profile photos.
The condemnations quickly started rolling in. Salon implored Facebook users to "Spare us your French flag filter." CNN ran an op-ed that declared, "Enough with the French flag Facebook logo."
It's a popular sport on the Internet to hate on these so-called "slacktivists," the people who show support for a cause by little more than lifting a finger '-- to click the "like" or "share" button. And most people assume that their participation doesn't carry any physical or practical effect. (Other than giving the slacktivist in question a reason to feel smug, of course.)
But what if these armchair activists are actually having a meaningful effect? New research suggests that this seemingly lazy form of collective awareness may be extending the life of various social movements.
How do researchers even measure this kind of thing?In the study, published in PLOS One this December and called "The Critical Periphery in Social Protests," researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication looked at several protest movements, including the 2011 Occupy movement in the United States and the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. They used location data from each post to determine whether the social media user was posting from the site of a protest or spreading the message remotely. They also analyzed how the users were connected to one another to map out how information flowed from on-site protesters to their slacktivist counterparts. For comparison, they also studied two events that didn't involve protests: the 2014 Oscars and a year-long debate about raising the minimum wage in the United States. The second happening was chosen in particular because while it represented an organized political effort, it did not center on a massive demonstration or other focal event.
In the case of the protests, researchers found that a division of labor was crucial to the success of the social movements studied.
At the center are groups of active protesters, the small minority of people willing to sleep in tents at Zuccotti Park and document their discontents in photos, videos, and other content.
The study didn't delve into what kinds of messages resonated the most '-- after all, specific calls to action might be a harder lift than simply changing your Facebook image to a sign of solidarity with a particular cause. But it did show that slacktivism can have real reach.
There are the many people around these sharers, sometimes tens of millions, whom the researchers call the "critical periphery." These are the people responsible for taking a highly local protest movement and ensuring it is felt nationally and internationally. And the researchers found that in aggregate, their likes and shares pack as much of a punch as those of hardcore activists.
This shows the flow of information to those "periphery" activists.
That doesn't mean slacktivism is as effective as the real thingThe Annenberg study is clear in its findings: The power of numbers is what make armchair activists so powerful in spreading a social movement's reach. Each person who shares a photo is not doing the same work, for example, as the person who took that photo.
"Of course social media doesn't push you to risk your life and take to the streets," Sandra Gonzlez-Bail"n, a professor of communication at Annenberg, said in a press release. "But it helps the actions of those who take the risk to gain international visibility."
Researchers don't yet know whether people who take the option to protest on social media are doing it in lieu of taking direct action. That's a popular argument with commentators who believe the practice is hurting the future of social protest, since young people glued to their mobile devices will be too distracted or lazy to go out and march.
But what we know so far suggests the opposite might be true. According to a 2011 Georgetown study, the same people who are likelier to post about various causes on social media are also significantly likelier to volunteer, participate in a protest event, or encourage others to become more involved.
In other words, there is hope for millennials yet.
Bank$ters
Big Banks In a Tizzy Want to Take Their Billions and Go Home
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:55
The big banks are not taking a rare legislative defeat lying down.
Days after President Obama signed into law a highway package that finally ended an egregious, 100-year-old subsidy for big banks, two of Wall Street's favorite legislators want to attach a last-minute rider to the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill that lessens some of the impact of that change.
From 1913 until last week, banks received a 6 percent annual dividend on paid-in stock they had to purchase to become members of the Federal Reserve system. This was initially provided as an incentive for membership with the Fed, but membership is now mandatory for national banks, and all banks must abide by the standards of membership.
It took 100 years and a desperate need to find some way to pay for this year's highway bill for anyone to think to take away the incentive payments.
The highway bill deal reduced the annual dividend to the rate of interest on 10-year Treasury notes, capped at 6 percent. (The current rate is around 2.2 percent). This change only affects banks with more than $10 billion in assets, but it saves the federal government around $1 billion a year.
Now, enter Republican Congressmen Randy Neugebauer of Texas and Bill Huizenga of Michigan. The crux of their proposed rider on the omnibus bill is this: If banks can't have their free 6 percent dividend, then they shouldn't have to pay for any stock at all.
Right now, banks must purchase Fed stock equal to 6 percent of their total capital. But under the proposal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, banks with over $10 billion in assets would be able to cut that to 3.5 percent of capital, and the Fed would have to return excess money to the member banks, estimated at $25 billion. The Fed would also be restricted from forcing banks to purchase additional stock in the future.
As it happens, that plan actually ends up saving the government money, since it won't have to pay any dividend on the money it returns to the banks. That would save as much as $1 billion a year, according to the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group that nevertheless supports the rider.
Other groups like the American Bankers Association are also pushing for the measure to be included in the omnibus. It's not yet clear whether it will make it into the final legislative package, which will reportedly be released on Monday for a vote next week. Current government funding expires December 16.
Since banks established before 1942 don't even pay taxes on the Fed dividend, it's unclear why they want to give up a tax-free return equal to Treasury yields. But a revealing comment to the Journal from a bank lobbyist positions this mostly as a temper tantrum reaction to the dividend cut.
''This is not something that we were interested in pursuing or even thought about until the highway bill passed,'' said Francis Creighton, executive vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable. ''If we're not getting the dividend we signed up for'... that led us to say, 'Do we need this entire system anyway? Does it even make sense?'''
Neugebauer and Huizenga already tried to bail the banks out once, attempting to replace the dividend cut in the highway bill with a substitute funding source that raided the Fed's capital surplus account instead. Their new rider again irks the Fed, which through a spokesperson warned ''against making any changes to the fundamental structure and governance of the Federal Reserve System without a serious, thoughtful, and public discussion.''
NA Tech-News
Artificial-Intelligence Research Center Is Founded by Silicon Valley Investors - NYTimes.com
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 01:28
A group of prominent Silicon Valley investors and technology companies said on Friday that they would establish an artificial-intelligence research center to develop ''digital intelligence'' that will benefit humanity.
The investors '-- including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman '-- said they planned to commit $1 billion to the project long term, but would initially spend only a small fraction of that amount in the first few years of the project. But, Mr. Musk said, ''Everyone who is listed as a contributor has made a substantial commitment and this should be viewed as at least a billion-dollar project.''
The organization, to be named OpenAI, will be established as a nonprofit, and will be based in San Francisco.
Its long-range goal will be to create an ''artificial general intelligence,'' a machine capable of performing any intellectual task that a human being can, according to Mr. Musk. He also stressed that the focus was on building technologies that augment rather than replace humans.
Mr. Musk, who is deploying A.I.-based technologies in some of his products like the Tesla automobile, said that he has had longstanding concerns about the possibility that artificial intelligence could be used to create machines that might turn on humanity.
He began discussing the issue this year with Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Thiel and Sam Altman, president of the Y Combinator investment group.
''We discussed what is the best thing we can do to ensure the future is good?'' he said. ''We could sit on the sidelines or we can encourage regulatory oversight, or we could participate with the right structure with people who care deeply about developing A.I. in a way that is safe and is beneficial to humanity.''
''Artificial intelligence is one of the great opportunities for improving the world today,'' Mr. Hoffman said in an email. ''The specific applications range from self-driving cars, to medical diagnosis and precision personalized medicine, to many other areas of data, analysis, decisioning across industries.''
Other backers of the project include Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator; Greg Brockman, the former chief technology officer of Stripe, as well as Amazon Web Services, Amazon's Cloud Services subsidiary; and Infosys, an Indian software consulting and consulting firm. The research effort has also attracted a group of young artificial intelligence researchers.
The founders said they were not yet ready to provide details on who had donated how much and the rate at which the project money would be spent. They will fund the development of the project on a year-by-year basis. They also said they were not yet ready to describe how quickly the project would grow in terms of funding or staffing.
The announcement occurs in the same week that one of the main academic gatherings focusing on artificial intelligence, the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, is being held in Montreal.
In recent years the event has grown as major technology corporations like Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft have started competing to hire the most talented researchers in the field. Salaries and hiring incentives have soared.
The research director of OpenAI will be Ilya Sutskever, a Google expert on machine learning. Mr. Brockman will be the chief technology officer. The group will begin with seven researchers, including graduate researchers who have been standouts at universities like Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and New York University.
''The people on the team have all been offered substantially more to work at other places,'' Mr. Musk said.
Mr. Altman added, ''It is lucky for us the best people in any field generally care about what is best for the world.''
In October 2014, Mr. Musk stirred controversy when, in an interview at M.I.T., he described artificial intelligence as our ''biggest existential threat.'' He also said, ''With artificial intelligence we're summoning the demon.''
In October, he donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, a Cambridge, Mass., organization focused on developing positive ways for humanity to respond to challenges posed by advanced technologies.
He said the new organization would be separate from the Future of Life Institute, and that while the new organization did have a broad research plan, it was not yet ready to offer a specific road map.
In a statement, the group sounded an open-source theme '-- open-source software can be freely shared without intellectual property restrictions '-- and said it was committed to ensuring that advanced artificial tools remained publicly available. ''Since our research is free from financial obligations, we can better focus on a positive human impact,'' the group said. ''We believe A.I. should be an extension of individual human wills and, in the spirit of liberty, as broadly and evenly distributed as possible.''
Mr. Musk said he remained concerned that A.I. advances might work against, rather than benefit, humanity.
''There is always some risk that in actually trying to advance A.I. we may create the thing we are concerned about,'' he said.
In the last two years there has been a race to set up research facilities focused both on advancing A.I. and in assessing its impact.
In 2014, Paul Allen, Microsoft's co-founder, established the nonprofit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which says its mission is ''to contribute to humanity through high-impact A.I. research and engineering.''
Also in 2014, the Microsoft A.I. researcher Eric Horvitz gave an undisclosed amount as a gift to Stanford to study the impact of the technology over the next century.
Last month, the Toyota Corporation said that it would invest $1 billion in a five-year research effort in artificial intelligence and robotics technologies to be based in a laboratory near Stanford.
Migrants
BLANKS WERE STOLEN-Can U.S. border tech detect fake passports? -- FCW
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 17:53
Biometrics
Can U.S. border tech detect fake passports?By Sean LyngaasDec 03, 2015A number of policy issues, including passport security, are being evaluated after the Paris attacks last month.
The Paris terror attacks prompted debate in the United States on a number of policy issues, including passport security.
An apparently fake Syrian passport found near the body of one of the Paris attackers was reportedly used to travel through Europe. And all the Paris attackers who have been identified were citizens of Belgium and France -- countries that are among the 38 that are part of a U.S. visa-waiver program now receiving fresh scrutiny from lawmakers.
In a Nov. 19 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) argued that lawmakers should use the aftermath of the Paris attacks "as a moment of leverage with our visa waiver partners to insist on the same kind of biometric protections that we have in our passports for those passports."
A bipartisan group of senators did just that on Dec. 1 in introducing a bill that would tighten the biometric process used in the visa-waiver program.
The visa-waiver countries have passports with built-in chips carrying biometric data, but according to a summary of the new bill released by one of its sponsors, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), some countries are allowed to phase in this requirement, since older passports that lack the chip remain valid. The legislation's remedy for this apparent inconsistency is to require all visa-waiver program travelers to have electronic passports within 90 days of the law's enactment. (Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced in August that DHS and the State Department would "begin introducing a number of additional or revised security criteria for all participants in the Visa Waiver Program," including required use of e-passports, but no timeline was publicly declared.)
Efforts to bolster passport security can be broken into two categories: making greater use of biometrics for identity verification, and boosting reporting on lost or stolen passports via organizations such as Interpol.
Facial imagery is the primary biometric used by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency that works with member countries to set aviation security standards, while fingerprints and iris scans can be supplemental biometrics, according to Michael Holly. He is a senior adviser for international affairs at the State Department's Passport Services Directorate.
The more biometric markers involved in the identification verification process, generally the more accurate it is. And moving beyond that baseline facial biometric is apparently a work in progress for some nations.
"The European Union is still struggling to use the fingerprints that they store on their passports," Holly said in an interview.
Asked if U.S. officials consulted with their European counterparts on how the reportedly fake Syrian passport made its way through Europe, Holly said he was "sure that has occurred," though he was not privy to those discussions. Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI declined to comment when asked if the agencies had consulted with their European counterparts on passport security after the Paris attacks.
Interpol, which is headquartered in France, runs a database for member countries to report lost or stolen passports.
"The gap is not so much with countries reporting lost and stolen passports," Holly said, but rather "with countries actually checking" the Interpol database..
Not fool-proofAll those applying for visas to travel to the United States must submit full digital fingerprints at consulates abroad. Foreigners traveling to the European Union, however, generally aren't held to that standard.
Roger Mason, former senior adviser to the director of national intelligence and a biometrics expert, called that "a huge difference" in the data that EU and U.S. authorities are working with for identity verification purposes.
Having travelers submit biometrics at ports of entry to the U.S., which are then checked against law enforcement databases, is "not fool-proof, but it's one more barrier of complexity that would-be fraudulent passport holders would have to encounter," Mason told FCW.
European passport inspectors, or those anywhere else, could make more use of biometrics such as iris scans, according to Mason, but implementing that would involve tradeoffs in terms of cost and throughput. "You're moving a lot of people across all these different borders and ports of entry, so that's typically the tradeoff," he said.
As with many IT advances, enhanced biometrics collection can prompt privacy concerns. A German citizen named Michael Schwarz, for example, refused to submit his fingerprints and was denied a passport. He tried to have that denial overturned on privacy grounds, but the European Court of Justice ruled in 2013 that requiring fingerprints for a passport is legal.
Nonetheless, biometrics are no panacea for secure travel. Nor are they universally collected by U.S. authorities. If someone steals a passport from a country in the U.S. visa-waiver program, and the holder of that passport has never traveled to the United States, authorities may not have biometrics to check against upon entry. With no biometric trail to work with, "you're very dependent on the skills of the inspector," Holly said.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Follow him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
Big Pharma
ADHD drugs may be a prescription for bullying | Fox News
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 02:39
Kids and teens who take prescription medicines to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be twice as likely to be bullied as their peers who don't have this mental health problem, a recent U.S. study suggests.
Adolescents who sold their prescribed drugs to other kids - who might want the stimulants for study or diet aids - had more than four times greater odds of being bullied than their peers without ADHD, the study also found.
"Our findings show that there is some connection between a prescription for stimulant medications and bullying, even after accounting for the fact that adolescents with ADHD may have difficulties with peers or may have other problem behaviors associated with victimization," lead study author Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said by email.
To assess the connection between ADHD medication and bullying, Ngo and colleagues surveyed middle and high school students annually for four years.
Ultimately, the surveys involved nearly 5,000 youngsters. About 15 percent had an ADHD diagnosis and roughly 4 percent had been prescribed stimulants within the past 12 months, the researchers report in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
Among those who took ADHD medications, about 20 percent reported being approached to sell or share them, and about half of them did so when asked.
Overall, about 2 percent of the teens reported regularly experiencing both physical and emotional bullying, while 15 percent said they had never been victimized. Slightly more than 1 percent of the youth said they had regularly experienced just physical bullying, while 2.5 percent reported frequent emotional mistreatment.
The odds of frequent bullying of any type were 79 percent higher for adolescents with an ADHD diagnosis who'd been prescribed stimulants during the past 12-months, compared to adolescents never diagnosed with ADHD.
The odds of past-year frequent bullying of any type was roughly three times higher for adolescents diagnosed with ADHD who were approached to divert their prescription stimulants, compared to kids without ADHD.
Among youngsters who did give up their meds to other kids, the odds of past-year frequent bullying was roughly four and a half times higher.
One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on drug dosage, the authors acknowledge. The survey also didn't capture situations when teens with ADHD may have given away or sold their stimulant medications without being asked.
Bullying might be more common for children who agree to give away drugs because they have access to a medication that other teens want, potentially making them targets of aggression designed to gain access to the stimulants, Dr. Frances Turcotte Benedict of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said by email.
It's also possible that children who did sell or give away their drugs may have been more deviant or had conduct and behavior problems that might be independently related to bullying, noted Dr. Timothy Wilens, a researcher at Harvard University and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
"While medications can be very helpful for ADHD symptoms, they may also be associated with some behavioral adverse effects such as irritability," Wilens, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. "Other children may react to this irritability . . . by bullying the child."
In addition, the teens with ADHD who take medications may have more serious mental health problems that make them more likely targets of bullying than children with ADHD who don't take stimulants, said Dr. Emma Sciberras of Deakin University in Melbourne.
"Children with ADHD are likely to be at increased risk of bullying given the symptoms of ADHD that they experience, as well as broader mental health difficulties that are associated with the condition," Sciberras, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. "Children with ADHD who take medications represent a more severe and impaired group."
Psychiatric Drugs Are Being Prescribed to Infants - NYTimes.com
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:25
Andrew Rios's seizures began when he was 5 months old and only got worse. At 18 months, when an epilepsy medication resulted in violent behavior, a neurologist prescribed him the antipsychotic Risperdal, a drug typically used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, and rarely used for children as young as 5 years.
When Andrew screamed in his sleep and seemed to interact with people and objects that were not there, his frightened mother researched Risperdal and discovered that the drug was not approved, and had never even been studied, in children anywhere near as young as Andrew.
''It was just 'Take this, no big deal,' like they were Tic Tacs,'' said Genesis Rios, a mother of five in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. ''He was just a baby.''
Cases like that of Andrew Rios, in which children age 2 or younger are prescribed psychiatric medications to address alarmingly violent or withdrawn behavior, are rising rapidly, data shows. Many doctors worry that these drugs, designed for adults and only warily accepted for certain school-aged youngsters, are being used to treat children still in cribs despite no published research into their effectiveness and potential health risks for children so young.
Almost 20,000 prescriptions for risperidone (commonly known as Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel) and other antipsychotic medications were written in 2014 for children 2 and younger, a 50 percent jump from 13,000 just one year before, according to the prescription data company IMS Health. Prescriptions for the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) rose 23 percent in one year, to about 83,000.
The company's data does not indicate how many children received these prescriptions, but previous studies suggest that the number is at least 10,000. IMS Health researched the data at the request of The New York Times.
The data did not indicate the condition for which these prescriptions were written. Doctors are generally free to prescribe any medication for any purpose they see fit, so some drugs can occasionally be used in unproven and debatable ways. But the volume and rapid rise in psychotropics such as antipsychotics and antidepressants in children 2 and younger suggest a trend.
In interviews, a dozen experts in child psychiatry and neurology said that they had never heard of a child younger than 3 receiving such medication, and struggled to explain it. They presumed that parents and doctors, probably desperate and well meaning, were trying to alleviate thrashing temper tantrums '-- the kind that get children kicked out of day care '-- or an overly depressed disposition, like being strikingly inhibited, nonverbal or lethargic.
''People are doing their very best with the tools available to them,'' said Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Tulane University School of Medicine. ''There's a sense of desperation with families of children who are suffering, and the tool that most providers have is the prescription pad.''
But Dr. Gleason said that children with ages measured in months had brains whose neurological inner workings were developing too rapidly, and in still unknown ways, to risk using medications that can profoundly influence that growth. She said the medications had never been subject to formal clinical trials in infants and toddlers largely because of those dangers.
''There are not studies,'' Dr. Gleason said, ''and I'm not pushing for them.''
Dr. Martin Drell, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said he was ''hard-pressed to figure out what the rationale would be'' for the prescriptions. Similarly taken aback, some experts wondered if the medicine was never actually consumed by the child, or if it was issued in the name of a child covered by Medicaid but in fact taken by an ill parent who was uninsured.
''But where there's smoke, there's fire,'' Dr. Drell said. ''For the protection of kids, we should evaluate this. We should identify who these cases are. Maybe it's not 10,000, but I'll be unhappy if it's even in the hundreds.''
Most experts suspected that the trend of medicating younger and younger children for suspected psychiatric disorders was trickling down to very young children. Last year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that health care providers had given a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to at least 10,000 children age either 2 or 3 and then prescribed medications such as Adderall outside American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.
''I think you simply cannot make anything close to a diagnosis of these types of disorders in children of that age,'' said Dr. Ed Tronick, a professor of developmental and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. ''There's this very narrow range of what people think the prototype child should look like. Deviations from that lead them to seek out interventions like these. I think it's just nuts.''
Prozac is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for depression in children 8 and older and for obsessive compulsive disorder in those age 7 and older. Most antipsychotics, which treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are indicated only for children 10 and older. Risperdal is approved for children as young as 5, but only for irritability associated with autism.
Some other psychiatric medications, such as the anti-anxiety drugs Valium or Klonopin, are widely accepted to control intractable seizures in the very young. Although their effects on the young brain remain unknown, stopping a child's seizure warrants their occasional one-time use, said Dr. Amy R. Brooks-Kayal, the head of pediatric neurology at Children's Hospital Colorado and president of the American Epilepsy Society.
Antidepressants and antipsychotic medications, however, have no established use in young people beyond tempering chronically disruptive behavior, experts maintained, suggesting that the drugs were probably used for that purpose.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Neurology have no guidelines or position statements regarding use of antidepressants and antipsychotics in children younger than 3.
Finding specific examples of such children taking the drugs can be difficult, because of family privacy or because the practice remains controversial. IMS Health records but does not release the names of prescribing physicians.
Mrs. Rios said that after Andrew began taking the epilepsy medication felbamate, he became strikingly erratic and aggressive: He pushed his siblings down and destroyed toys. She said that Andrew's neurologist, at Children's Hospital of Orange County, Dr. Lily Tran, then prescribed Risperdal, medication that can temper severe mood swings in older children.
Andrew took the medication for four months before his mother decided it was causing harmful side effects '-- behavior he had never shown before '-- and took him off it. ''Everything became worse,'' Mrs. Rios said.
Dr. Tran declined an interview request.
The use of Risperdal for children has been hotly debated among child psychiatrists, with some experts '-- many financially backed by the pharmaceutical industry '-- citing positive effects among suffering young people, and others criticizing their use as shortsighted responses to complex problems.
''There are behavioral ways of working with the problems rather than medication,'' said Dr. Tronick, who runs a program that teaches health care providers to assist families with troubled children. ''What is generating such fear and anger and withdrawal in the child? What is frustrating or causing stress in the parent? These are the things that have to be explored. But that takes time and money.''
Many experts say that the rise in the use of all psychotropics in children of all ages derives from the scarcity of child psychiatrists '-- only 8,350 practice in the United States, many of them with long waiting lists and higher cost than a family's established pediatrician. Those pediatricians receive little training in child psychiatry but are then asked to practice it.
Ottomanaia
Turkish government-backed lawsuit filed against cleric in US
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:34
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) '-- A Turkish government-backed lawsuit has been filed against a U.S.-based cleric, who has become the chief foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A lawyer hired by the Turkish government, Robert Amsterdam, provided a copy of the filing in the U.S. district court in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit alleges that cleric Fethullah Gulen orchestrated human rights abuses from his residence in Pennsylvania against three men in Turkey. It alleges that Gulen ordered followers among the police and judiciary to plant evidence against the three men and build false criminal cases that led to their imprisonment.
The Turkish government claims Gulen has been running a parallel state by getting his followers into key positions in state institutions, including the police and judiciary. It has labelled Gulen's movement a terrorist organization. Gulen has denied the allegations.
The lawsuit is part of a broad campaign against Gulen's movement in Turkey and abroad. The government has carried out a purge of civil servants suspected of ties to the movement, seized businesses and closed some media organizations. Amsterdam said in an interview that other lawsuits in the US may follow.
The suit dated Dec. 7 alleges that Gulen targeted the three men because they were part of a rival spiritual movement critical of his teachings.
The Alliance for Shared Values, an organization close to Gulen, said in a statement the suit is part of an attempt to smear the moderate Islamic movement, which it says promotes democracy, philanthropy and inter-faith dialogue. It calls the investigation "absurd and outlandish."
___
Butler reported from Washington.
Comments
Out There
MOON LANDINGS 'FAKE': Shock video shows 'Stanley Kubrick' admit historic event was 'HOAX' | Science | News | Daily Express
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 19:50
YouTube'NASA
The alleged Stanley Kubrick in the video and the iconic moon landing imageThe two-hour film, said to be raw footage of an interview with the Clockwork Orange director, in March 1999, has gone viral just days after NASA announced it had found the crash site on the moon of part of the Apollo 16 Mission rocket.
NASA's announcement it had solved an age-old mystery over what happened to the booster was a blow to conspiracy theorists who have claimed for years that no man has ever set foot on the moon and every photograph and video from the six missions from 1969 were staged on Earth.
However, the emergence of "Kubrick"'s apparent explosive confession could put the conspiracists firmly back in the driving seat after he appeared to admit being behind the historic footage of Neil Armstrong becoming the "first man on the moon" in 1969.
The world watched in awe as Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the rest of the Apollo 11 crew stepped foot on the moon for the first time that year.
For decades since conspiracy theorists have claimed it and all the subsequent moon landings were hoaxed and no one has ever been on the moon.
In the video, allegedly shot by documentary maker T. Patrick Murray on March 3 1999, four days before Kubrick died, but only released this year, a beared man said to be the reclusive The Shining director declares he has a confession to make.
The bearded man says: "The conspiracy theorists were right, on this occasion."
Related articlesHe then tells the interviewer the event was contrived to fulfil former president John F Kennedy's prophecy of reaching the Moon and winning the space race against the Russians.
The footage starts with the apparent Kubrick telling Murray how he has been "conflicted" by the hoax and was "blown away by the chance" of creating a film of the landings.
He said: "I perpetrated a huge fraud on the American public, which I am now about to detail, involving the United States government and NASA, that the moon landings were faked, that the moon landings were all faked, and I was the person who filmed it.
"It's total fiction.
"(It's) an unparalleled fraud perpetrated against them. They should know.
"The government, knowing this, takes advantage of it by perpetrating fraud after fraud after fraud."
The interviewer asks: "How did you end up giving in? Being complicit with this fraud?"
The man said to be Kubrick adds: "I didn't want to.
Related articlesThe conspiracy theorists were right, on this occasion.
Man in video claimed to be the late Stanley Kubrick
"It's no secret NASA always wanted to fulfil this Kennedy prophecy.''
He also denied it was a joke when asked and said he felt both guilty and proud of his actions.
At the start of the film, the pair discuss a "legal agreement" that meant the film could not be released until 15 years after Kubrick's death.
If true, the film would make the moon landings one of the worst frauds ever perpetrated by a developed government on its people.
An edited version of the film was released on YouTube in October this year, but only received 418 views.
Conspiracists have previously claimed that Kubrick helped film the Apollo 11 and 12 missions, but refused to do any more.
The story was that Kubrick worked for 16 months at a specially-built sound stage in Huntsville, Alabama, creating the footage.
NASA
Astronaut David Scott salutes to camera during a moon landingRelated articlesGETTY
This really is the iconic director during the 1970sIn July 1969, a Saturn V rocket with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on board was launched into a low orbit, but the conspiracy theory claims Kubrick's footage was released to the media, while they remained in low orbit until their historic splash down in the Pacific.
People who dispute the conspiracy theory say that Russian satellites were observing the missions and would have identified if the NASA crew did not reach the moon.
Express.co.uk has contacted NASA for comment.
Already, videos making counter claims that the video is a fake using an actor as Kubrick have emerged.
One video has been released allegedly showing an outtake from the film, in which "Kubrick" sounds different and is referred to as "Tom" by the interviewer who seems to coach the "actor" through his lines.
Many people who have commented online have said it is clearly an actor and does not even look like the late US director.
Related articlesRelated articles
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-Weekly Address: Standing Strong in the Face of Terrorism - YouTube
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 16:07
VIDEO-T. Becket Adams on Twitter: "Journo says she's watching #ParisAgreement with press (https://t.co/GOi0pu4clW), tweets video of their reaction. https://t.co/bKn51UlyNS"
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 15:10
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VIDEO-Neil deGrasse Tyson Advises Media NOT to Debate FLAT EARTH - YouTube
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 06:52
VIDEO-Putin orders tough action on Syria threats | euronews, world news
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 04:34
Talking tough at an annual meeting of Russia's Defence Ministry. The message from President Vladimir Putin was clear '' to eliminate any threats to his military in Syria.
He also revealed Russia is engaged in offensive actions in joint operations with regular Syrian forces against Islamist militants in Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa.
''I am ordering you to act tough. Any targets posing a threat to Russian divisions or Russian military targets on land, have to be annihilated immediately. In the mean time, cooperation needs to be developed with all countries that are genuinely interested in the annihilation of the terrorists,'' he said.
The president did not elaborate on the specific threats. His speech comes with Russia locked in a row with Turkey.
On Thursday the country's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Russia of attempting ''ethnic cleansing'' with its air strikes in northern Syria, targeting Turkmen and Sunni communities in and around the Latakia region.
The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the claims.
VIDEO-CNN Touts Twitter 'Thread Calling For...Impeachment' of Scalia | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 04:13
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
On the 10 December 2015 edition of CNN Newsroom, Pamela Brown spotlighted how Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was "sparking controversy during a hearing of a high-profile affirmative action case." Brown noted that Scalia "seemed to suggest that some African-Americans might do better in lesser colleges," and pointed out how "some feel like he was using to it make his own argument. And Twitter ignited '-- no surprise there '-- one Tweet thread calling for his impeachment."
VIDEO-State Dep't Clashes With Pro-Kremlin TV Reporter: 'I Can't Believe Honestly That You Aren't Embarrassed to Ask these Questions' | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 04:10
Diplomacy was put on hold at the State Department on Thursday as spokesman John Kirby clashed with a reporter for the pro-Kremlin RT network, telling her at one point ''I can't believe honestly that you aren't embarrassed to ask these questions.''
VIDEO-Chris Matthews Praises Donald Trump for a Change; The Reason? He Bashed Dick Cheney | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 03:49
Read more at NewsBusters | What does it take to get both Chris Matthews and Joan Walsh to say something kind about Donald Trump? Just make sure the target is the Hardball host's favorite archnemesis, Dick "it's pronounced CHEE-knee, by the way!" Cheney.
VIDEO-Cruz: AG's 'Ban on What She Calls Anti-Muslim Rhetoric' Producing 'Chilling Effect' in War on Terror | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:57
In a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, GOP presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned that the Obama administration's efforts to be the "speech police" for the Muslim community is producing a "chilling effect" on citizens' willingness to report suspicious activity that could be tied to terrorism for fear they will be accused of racial profiling.
VIDEO-Seth Meyers Tees Up Hillary Clinton to Push Gun Control | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:54
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
While interviewing Hillary Clinton on Thursday's NBC Late Night, aired early Friday morning, host Seth Meyers lobbed softballs to the Democratic frontrunner on gun control: ''...we have lived through so many tragic shootings...in recent months. You know, obviously, gun control is a big part of your campaign. But how can you convince people now that gun control '' considering how many times it's tried and failed '' that it is anything more than a fantasy?''
Clinton seized the opportunity to recite liberal talking points: ''Well, it isn't. And in part because most people in America, 92% the last I checked, and 85% of gun owners, support these common sense measures. Universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, closing the online and Charleston loopholes. And doing whatever we can to repeal the immunity from all liability that gun makers and sellers have.''
VIDEO-Border Patrol Official: 'Some' of Paris Terrorists Would Have Been Stopped Before Entering U.S. | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:50
A U.S. Border Patrol official told the Senate Homeland Security Committee at a hearing Wednesday on the visa waiver program that only "some" of the terrorists who launched attacks in Paris last month would have been stopped before entering the United States.
VIDEO-Bloomberg Guest: Trump Supporter Feelings 'More Animalistic Than Human," Filled With 'Childlike, Impotent Rage' | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:47
It's one thing to dump on Trump, as author Rick Perlstein did on today's With All Due Respect, saying The Donald is a modern-day George Wallace, and floating "fascism" about him. But Perlstein took things further, denigrating Trump supporters in the ugliest terms.
Per Perlstein, Trump has unleashed forces in his supporters "that are more animalistic than human." Perlstein added that spectacle of the US losing to ISIS has filled Trump fans with "childlike, impotent rage."
VIDEO-NBC Plays Up 'Gasps' in Courtroom After Scalia's Remark on Colleges | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:44
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
NBC Nightly News was the sole Big Three network evening newscast on 11 December 2015 to cover the controversy surrounding Justice Antonin Scalia's comments during oral arguments in an affirmative action case. Both Lester Holt and Pete Williams spotlighted how "gasps were heard inside the Supreme Court this week over something said by Justice Antonin Scalia." Williams zeroed in how "some called the comments racist. Others said, he was just plain wrong."
VIDEO-ABC, CBS Trumpet Canadian Leader's 'Warm Welcome' For Syrian Refugees | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:42
On 11 December 2015, ABC and CBS's evening newscasts touted how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "personally welcoming Syrian refugees" as they flew into Toronto. ABC's David Muir heralded, "Trudeau greeting fathers, mothers, and children '-- telling them '-- quote, 'You're home.'" CBS's Scott Pelley spotlighted the "noteworthy landing '-- 163 refugees escaping the war in Syria were welcomed to Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau."
VIDEO-Global climate deal sealed | Reuters.com
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 02:04
Applause erupts as the global climate summit in Paris agrees to a landmark accord, setting the course for a ''historic'' transformation of the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
TRANSCRIPT +
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Global climate envoys agreed to a landmark accord on Saturday (December 12), setting the course for a "historic" transformation of the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming. At the tail end of the hottest year on record and after four years of fraught U.N. talks often pitting the interests of rich nations against poor, imperiled island states against rising economic powerhouses, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius took just minutes to declare the pact adopted to the standing applause and whistles of delegates from almost 200 nations. "I'm looking around the room, I see that the reaction is positive, I don't hear any objection, the Paris agreement for the climate is accepted," Fabius said. Delegates including politician and environmentalist Al Gore and French Environment Minister Segolene Royal rose to their feet and some delegates cried as Fabius symbolically brought down a green hammer to confirm the adoption. Hailed as the first truly global climate deal, committing both rich and poor nations to reining in rising emissions blamed for warming the planet, it sets out a sweeping long-term goal of eliminating net man-made greenhouse gas output this century. It also creates a system to encourage nations to step up voluntary domestic efforts to curb emissions, and provides billions more dollars to help poor nations cope with the transition to a greener economy. In some ways its success was assured before the summit began: 187 nations have submitted detailed national plans for how they will contain the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, commitments that are the core of the Paris deal. While leaving each country to pursue those measures on its own, the agreement finally sets a common vision and course of action after years of bickering over how to move forward.
VIDEO OBAMA IS THE BEST-Obama calls Paris climate pact 'best chance' to save the planet | Reuters.com
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 01:57
U.S. President Barack Obama hails the landmark climate accord reached in Paris as strong and historic, calling it the best chance to save the planet from the effects of global climate change. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
TRANSCRIPT +
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday (december 12) hailed the landmark climate accord reached in Paris as strong and historic, calling it the best chance to save the planet from the effects of global climate change. "Today the American people can be proud because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years, we've transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change," Obama said. He said the accord shows what is possible when the world stands as one, adding: "This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we've got."
VIDEO-For Renowned Cryptographer, Encryption Remains As Important As Ever - NBC News
Sun, 13 Dec 2015 00:25
Whitfield Diffie may have helped lead a revolution in computer cryptography decades ago, but he still spends plenty of time worrying about the same questions: How safe are our digital communications? And what's the next threat up around the bend?
For decades, Diffie has held a senior statesman position among those crypto specialists who work outside the military and the halls of the NSA. The 71-year-old spends some of his days at Stanford University now, where he is a consulting scholar for the Center for International Security and Cooperation. But the technology he helped developed '-- public key cryptography '-- underlies many Internet services in constant use around the world, and the encryption of online communications has once again become a hot topic after politicians raised fears about terrorist use of encrypted apps in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
These days, nearly 40 years after he and partner Martin Hellman published a paper describing their public key breakthrough, in which they built on the work of computer scientist Ralph Merkle, Diffie says he is as worried as ever about the threats to privacy and security in an ever-evolving online world.
"To my mind, the most critical thing is [that] our grand vulnerability is not to physical terrorism, but to a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure," Diffie said in an interview with NBC News on Monday.
"There are half a dozen critical infrastructures: power, of course, gas and water, transportation, banking, communications," Diffie said. "They've been growing up for a long time, and opponents who have real capability to survey these systems stand a chance of developing a technique for causing them to collapse."
Read More: Paris Attack Could Renew Debate Over Encrypted Messaging Apps
Even with more people concerned about hacks in the aftermath of prominent breaches at Sony, Anthem and Target, among others, the sort of future threat Diffie envisions still isn't the kind of thing most Americans worry about regularly. Far more topical, at least in recent months, has been the issue of whether terrorists are using encryption to hide from the watchful eyes of Western intelligence.
In the United States, officials from the director of the FBI to the Manhattan district attorney have pushed for a legal "backdoor" into encrypted devices and services, as tech companies including Google and Apple have set up their systems so that they don't even have the keys to turn over should the cops come knocking.
On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee hearing that one of the Garland, Texas, shooters had exchanged 109 messages with an "overseas terrorist" before carrying out the attack, but that the messages couldn't be read by investigators because they were encrypted.
Diffie, who spoke to NBC News before Comey's remarks, doesn't think it's a good idea to limit the use of encryption just because it can be misused by a few.
"This is like saying, well, you know, cars are of use to bank robbers. This was at one time a very major thing," he said. "Nobody ever took seriously at that time the notion that you should cut down the abilities of cars in order to solve one particular sort of crime."
And while the men and women tasked with keeping Americans safe say they fear that encryption will help terrorists "go dark," Diffie says that building in access for investigators will open a number of new and challenging questions. Diffie was one of 15 cryptography and computer experts who authored a 31-page report published in July in which they said that creating "exceptional access" for law enforcement would lead to "unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws."
Read More: Encrypted Data is a Simple Idea Built on Some Pretty Complex Math
Those could include making it difficult to deny ally countries or other partners access to the "backdoors," even if that was not the original intent, he said.
"If you think about building trapdoors into these things, there are several problems that come up. There have been people who've said '-- I think too carelessly '-- that basically, if you build a trapdoor into it, somebody else will discover it," Diffie said. "I think what's actually true is, if you build a trapdoor into it, you will not be able to not deny use of that trapdoor to other people. So you have other governments, maybe other kinds of entities, economically powerful, militarily powerful, the people you want favors from."
"Once you have a capability, the basic thing that happens with it is you begin trading it with other people," Diffie said. "And so it's hard to see how that could ever be kept just to the U.S. government."
VIDEO-ISIS Releases New Apocalyptic Video Depicting "Final" Battle With "Crusaders" In Syria | Zero Hedge
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:13
Three weeks ago, we highlighted what we dubbed ''the greatest piece of terrorist video propaganda in history.'' The clip, a 5-minute Hollywood special produced by Islamic State's al-Hayat Media (the nerve center for a labyrinthine network of ''Wilayats''), begins with a glorification of the ''caliphate'', as an English-speaking narrator notes that ISIS' territory is now ''thirty times the size of Qatar.''
The graphics-laden presentation goes on to mock the US military for its high suicide rates and ineffective air campaign before presaging the ''final'' battle with the crusaders where the nonbelievers will ''burn on the hills of Dabiq.''
Dabiq - which, you'll note, is also the name of Islamic State's propaganda magazine - is a reference to a town in northern Syria, near Aleppo. It is in Dabiq that one of the final clashes between Christianity and Islam will unfold (or so the story goes). Here's BBC:
The group has focused on the dusty backwater not because of any strategic importance or the size of its population - the Syrian census of 2004 recorded that little over 3,000 people were living there - but for the power of its symbolism.
Dabiq, which lies around 10km (six miles) from the Turkish border, features in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies as the site of an end-of-times showdown between Muslims and their enemies.
The Prophet Muhammad is believed to have said that "the last hour will not come" until Muslims vanquish the Romans at "Dabiq or Al-A'maq" - both in the Syria-Turkey border region - on their way to conquer Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).
IS has been seeking to bring on that battle by goading the international coalition to confront it there.
From the so-called ''godfather'' of ISIS, Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi:
"The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify... until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq".
''The Islamic State celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq's strategically unimportant plains,'' The Atlantic notes, adding that it is in Dabiq where ''the Prophet said that the armies of Rome will set up their camp'' and meet their Waterloo or their Antietam. Here's a bit more color:
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who ''Rome'' is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State's most influential recruiters, makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey'--the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate's fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus'--the second-most-revered prophet in Islam'--will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
Got that? The Turks or the Americans or perhaps both (in the form of NATO) will be defeated in a decisive battle on some farmland near Aleppo at which point an Iranian devil called Dajjal will decimate Islamic State's forces, nearly eradicating the group. That's when Jesus descends from the heavens and kills Dajjal with a spear (and yes, America, you read the excerpt from The Atlantic correctly, Muslims hold Jesus in high esteem contrary to what a politician might have told you).
Well, in anticipation of the epic battle, ISIS has released a new propaganda video called "Meeting At Dabiq." The 14 minute clip has all of the slick, 1080p production you've come to expect from the group and also contains clips of ISIS tanks advancing on Rome. It's presented below in its entirety and there plenty of still shots as well should the internet's neverending game of ISIS video whack-a-mole end up conspiring to kill the hosting.
What's interesting to note here is that this comes as Ash Carter warned John McCain (at a Senate hearing a few days back) that sending a large contingent of ground troops to the Mid-East (as McCain has advocated on a number of occasions including, allegedly, in a secret meeting with Iraqi PM Haider Abadi) risks falling into a trap by turning Islamic State's mythology into reality, thereby emboldening the group and giving its powerful propaganda arm an excuse to recruit still more fighters by claiming that the prophecy has been fulfilled.
Perhaps Carter is just playing devil's advocate to McCain's hawkishness for the sake of perpetuating the charade or perhaps he's just naive, but those of a skeptical persuasion might be tempted to suggest that the US and Turkey intend to use this as an excuse to put more boots on the ground in Syria. That is, if Washington and Ankara can point to new videos as evidence that ISIS is getting serious about this "final" battle, then it would be easy to make the case that their ultimate goal is to make the whole story come true by eventually marching on Instanbul and just to make sure all of their prophecy bases are covered, attacking Rome.
So you decide: slick propaganda piece produced by fanatical terrorists with delusions of religious grandeur and a misplaced belief that they are part and parcel of a prophecy foretold by a prophet, or just another attempt by "someone" to provide the impetus for boots on the ground and the excuse for a protracted troop presence in Syria.
Screengrabs:
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VIDEO-World climate accord hailed as turning point from fossil fuels | Reuters.com
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:10
After weeks of negotiations diplomats in France unveil a landmark deal to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gases. If adopted the accord will aim to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degess Celsius - the level scientists say is needed to avert the worst effects of global warming including severe droughts and rising sea levels. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called it a "balanced and legally binding" agreement - his voice shaking as he remembered those who were not present to see the results of years of hard work. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CLIMATE CONFERENCE PRESIDENT, LAURENT FABIUS, SAYING: "I have a special thought for all those -- ministers, negotiators, activists -- who would have wanted to be here for this likely historic occasion, but who acted and fought without being able to see this day." The draft now awaits a vote from the delegates representing almost 200 countries who are gathered in France. Watching closely are these demonstrators in Paris who are hoping the deal is adopted. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LAUREN, DEMONSTRATOR FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM, SAYING: "We will die if we don't end climate change. I haven't come here for action, I've come here to pray. That's all that's left now, is prayer. So I'm here to pray, to meditate, to be here for the planet and for the people who have no voices, for the animals that have no voices." A prayer for a deal that if finalized would bring both rich and poor nations together, for the first time in over two decades, in the fight against global warming.
VIDEO-Obama calls for tolerance following San Bernardino attacks | Reuters.com
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 21:06
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday (December 12) that Americans "have shown what it means to be strong in the face of terrorism" but urged them to stay vigilant, after last week's massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, by a U.S.-born Muslim man and his wife, a Pakistani national. The FBI said the two had long been radicalized and conspired to commit terrorism without detection, underlining the challenge of finding so-called homegrown, self-radicalized extremists inspired by Islamic State propaganda. In his weekly address, Obama pledged that he will review efforts across the entire U.S. government to prevent attacks and protect the homeland. Obama also reassured American Muslims that they are all "part of the same American family." "Churches and synagogues are reaching out to local mosques, reminding us that we are all God's children," Obama said in his address. "Grateful citizens are saying thank you to our patriotic Muslim American service members and veterans. Some of our greatest sports heroes have reminded us why they're true champions, and voices for tolerance and understanding. Across the country, Americans are reaching out to their Muslim friends, neighbors and coworkers, to let them know we're here for each other," Obama added. Obama's comments came in the wake of a recent proposal from Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Obama administration officials have said the fight against extremism requires the nation to build relationships with Muslims, not alienate them.
VIDEO-Refugees to be temporarily housed at military sites in Quebec, Ontario - Politics - CBC News
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 20:21
The Canadian Armed Forces are preparing to lodge hundreds of refugees at bases in Ontario and Quebec on a temporary basis as the government prepares to resettle 25,000 refugees by year's end.
The government has yet to say how it intends to meet its goal of resettling thousands in a limited timeframe, but an announcement is expected soon.
"The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is currently planning on providing interim lodging at bases in Quebec and Ontario as a priority," said Dominique Tessier, a media relations officer with the Department of National Defence, in an email to CBC News.
"Other bases and locations may be used if requested by government of Canada planners."
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was asked on Wednesday about plans to resettle 1,000 refugees at CFB Trenton in Ontario and 500 refugees at CFB Valcartier in Quebec as early as Dec. 1.
Refugees to be temporarily housed at military sites 1:39
"We recognize the urgency. We want to release the details as rapidly as possible," said Goodale, adding that the specifics would be announced by the immigration minister in the coming days.
Goodale and Immigration Minister John McCallum met with two of Quebec's ministers today to discuss the government's "ambitious" plan.
"We reiterated our commitment to respond swiftly to the ongoing crisis, and also to ensure that the health and security of the arriving refugees '' and of all Canadians '' remains paramount, and is not compromised in any way," said McCallum in a written statement issued Thursday night.
While municipal and provincial officials wait for a formal announcement, plans are afoot across various federal departments to assist the government with the herculean task of resettling a large number of refugees in a short period of time.
Immigration officials are working with the departments of health, public safety, and national defence to meet the government's self-imposed deadline.
$1.5M to winterize CFB Valcartier housesWith winter on the doorstep, the military is also making plans to winterize some of its training bases to accommodate refugees.
A call for tenders went out on Thursday to winterize 10 buildings that normally house cadets during summer training at the Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Quebec.
The $1.5 million project for "the supply of labour, material, supervision and equipment necessary to winterize 10 houses at the Cadet Camp" would have to be completed within "a very short timeline" of Dec. 30, according to the notice posted online Thursday.
The work includes the installation of a heating and venting system, the construction of new exterior walls, the installation of exterior doors, floor and roof insulation as well as fireproof curtains.
Contractors have until Nov. 24 to make a bid for the defence contract.
Winter housing search ramps upPreparation by the military is also underway to winterize at least two other training bases in Ontario.
"CFB Meaford and Borden are two locations that will require winterization of accommodations and preparation is currently underway," said Tessier, a spokesperson with national defence, in an email to CBC on Thursday.
The military is also moving Canadian Forces members who are in military bases in Quebec and Edmonton on temporary assignments to other wings or rental units to free up space "for possible refugee accommodation," she said.
While no directive has gone out asking Canadian Forces members to cancel their vacation time, Tessier said "the requirement for some to work over the Christmas period has not been discounted."
A separate call for tenders was issued by the Department of Public Services and Procurement today for companies that could lease out winterized lodging and other services in Ontario and Quebec.
"The government of Canada is seeking interested companies that have the capacity, capability and availability to provide leasing, management and servicing of temporary winterized lodgings for groups of 500-3000 people by early December 2015 at sites to be confirmed," said the online posting without mention of refugees.
Housing units would be needed for both "individuals and large families."
Interested suppliers have until Friday to make a submission.
VIDEO-Markey Mark :: SteynOnline
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 19:57
On Tuesday I appeared at the US Senate at a hearing called by Senator Ted Cruz's sub-committee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. Senator Cruz introduced me as "an international bestselling author, a Top Five jazz recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist". In fact, at that moment, I was America's Number One jazz vocalist, but I thought it was a bit early in the proceedings to jump up and demand the record be corrected.
You can read various accounts of this event across the Internet from one perspective or another. Among the climate wallahs, there is a lively back-and-forth at Judith Curry's pad, at Anthony Watts', Bishop Hill's, and Junk Science. On the politics of it - ie, Republicans and Democrats - I have a couple of thoughts, one of which has to do with the 2016 election. But that is a separate subject, so I'll leave it for another day.
There was an altercation underway as I entered the room, when two Greenpeace activists attempted to get in the face of Professor William Happer about something or other. You can see it here. It is, to be legalistic about it, witness-tampering, and a sadly appropriate start to a hearing that at least partly addressed the climate of intimidation in global-warming science.
As for the hours that followed, I'll let the reports from all sides speak for themselves, and just make a couple of points. On the morning of the event, Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat and Ranking Member, sent a message, warning me that I was obligated to "respect the decorum of the Senate". I've been invited to Buckingham Palace, the White House and parliaments around the world, and nobody has ever felt it necessary to pre-issue such a warning. In the event, the US Senate has no "decorum" worthy of respect, as we'll get to in a moment.
You can find my written testimony here. A few excerpts. First, the general overview:
When I look at what has happened to those who speak out, I recall the wise words of Stephen McIntyre:
'As a general point, it seems to me that, if climate change is as serious a problem as the climate 'community' believes, then it will re quire large measures that need broadly based commitment from all walks of our society.'
Mr McIntyre is exactly right: If we take Big Climate at their word that the entire global economy needs massive re-orientation on a scale never before contemplated, it will require the largest societal consensus '' left and right and center, in America, in Canada, in Britain, in Europe... Yet all Big Climate does is retreat ever deeper into its shrinking echo chamber and compile ever longer lists of people who are beyond the pale '' Professor Curry, Professor Christy, Professor Bengtsson, Professor Pielke, Professor Soon, Lord Lawson, the Bishop of Chester, the winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics... It might be quicker for Mann, Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt and the other climate enforcers to make a short list of those to whom they are prepared to grant a say in the future of the planet.
In shoring up this cartoon climatology, the alarmism industry is now calling on courts and legislatures to torment their opponents.
And unfortunately certain members of the Senate are willing to entertain it:
Too many people within the climate cartel are demanding that dissent from the alleged "consensus" should be not merely a civil offense but a criminal one '' and far too many legislators and bureaucrats are willing to entertain it. Your colleague, Senator Whitehouse, is among those who favor criminal penalties for those who disagree with him on climate policy. Earlier this year, you, Senator Markey, were rebuked by the President of the Cato Institute for "an obvious attempt to chill research into and funding of public policy projects you don't like... You abuse your authority when you attempt to intimidate people who don't share your political beliefs" ...
This climate of intimidation, led by influential legislators of the most lavishly funded government in the world, sends a powerful signal to others.
My conclusion:
Climate alarmism is going nowhere. The two-decade global-warming pause, which no late 1990s climate model foresaw, led the public to doubt Big Climate's confident predictions for the future. In response, federal bodies such as NOAA and NASA have adjusted the past to make the present appear hotter, and thus supposedly demonstrated that in fact there is no such "pause". As a result, public opinion, which no longer trusts the Big Climate enforcers to tell them what the climate will be like in 2050, now no longer trusts them to tell them what it was like in 1950. A recent poll found that, notwithstanding the urgings of the President and the Secretary of State and others, only three per cent of Americans regard climate change as their major concern. Three per cent. There is your 97 per cent consensus, gentlemen.
Here's my opening statement:
I said above that the Senate had no "decorum" to disrespect. By that I mean that, when my pal Ezra Levant and I gave evidence (as we say in the Westminster tradition) in the Canadian Parliament, members from all parties turned up and asked thoughtful and engaged questions. When we run into each other in Montreal, the representatives of the Bloc Qu(C)b(C)cois and I do not even agree on what country we're in. But that afternoon we had a pleasant and civilized exchange, and one that had some rewardingly non-partisan after-glow in the months that followed.
In the US Senate, at least on Tuesday, senators wander in and out constantly. Their five-minute "question" sessions are generally four-minute prepared statements of generalized blather followed by a perfunctory softball to "their" witness, after which they leave the room without waiting to hear the answer - and then come back in when it's their time to speak again at which point the staffer feeds them the four-minute blather they're supposed to be sloughing off this time round. The video doesn't capture the fakery of the event because under Senate rules the camera is generally just on whoever's speaking. Whether this meets the "decorum" of the Senate, it certainly doesn't meet the decorum of life; it's a breach of the normal courtesies - and, frankly, Americans are the chumps of the planet for putting up with it. Since the 17th Amendment, senators have been citizen-legislators like any other, and so their contempt for the citizenry who have graciously consented, at their own time and expense, to appear before them demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the relationship.
Take this guy Brian Schatz, the Senator from Hawaii. He did his shtick, lobbed a softball at his witness, Rear Admiral Titley, and stood up to leave. I said I'd like to respond, and he demurred on the grounds that he was outta there, he had to get back to washing his hair or whatever. I said I'd still like to respond to what he said, and so I did - to an empty chair. A pseudo-parliament is a fine place in which to debate pseudo-science, but "decorum" has nothing to do with it.
There is another kind of basic rudeness, which I have never experienced in a real parliament. If you're moderating a panel discussion on C-SPAN with five panelists, it's generally considered polite to distribute the questions broadly. In this case, the Democrats asked no questions of anyone other than their guy - Rear Admiral Titley. For example, there was some extensive discussion of the satellite record: They have the scientist who created and developed the satellite temperature record sitting at one end of the table: John Christy. This is a remarkable scientific accomplishment. Yet they directed all their questions on the subject to the bloke down the other end - Rear Admiral Titley, who knows no more about the satellite record than I do. This is like inviting Sir Isaac Newton to a hearing on gravity and then only asking questions of Mr Timeserver sitting next to him. It may represent the "decorum" of the Senate but in any other area of life it would be regarded as insufferably ill-mannered.
So by the time Senator Ed Markey turned up, I'd had enough of it. Markey is the Massachusetts guy (whom I discussed on the radio with Howie Carr yesterday afternoon) and he began by comparing Rear Admiral Titley to Galileo - at which point I threw up my arms. I would have let this twaddle go, except that Markey then went on to insult the three scientists on my right. And, as with so many of the staffer-insulated ignorant bullies of the Senate, he did so with no intention of letting them respond. Dr Judith Curry is a very brave woman who has withstood an extraordinary onslaught from the ugly misogynist types that climate alarmism attracts. She was not cowed by this know-nothing senator and she wished to respond, as she indicated discreetly.
Markey ignored her. Again, we're way beyond the rules of the Senate here. In the rules of life, a gentleman does not insult a woman and then stand on parliamentary dignity to deny her a reply. If that's the "decorum of the Senate", then Senator Markey puts the dick in decorum. Nevertheless, with characteristic pomposity, he sought to use the Senate's crappy rules to prevent those he'd abused from responding to his crude insults:
Markey must have been a little shocked when climatologist Judith Curry demanded to be able to respond to his testimony trying to discredit her views on climate science.
"I did not ask you a question," Markey, a Democrat, retorted when Curry asked if she could respond to his testimony during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the science behind global warming.
"Why can't she respond senator?"Conservative author and columnist Mark Steynshot back at Markey. "You impugned her integrity. I think she's entitled to..."
"I was basically called a 'denier' '-- that I'm denying science," said Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech University. "Did you read my written testimony?"
Markey sought to discredit Curry in his testimony by framing her as ignoring the evidence humans are putting the planet at risk. Curry was not happy with essentially being labelled a global warming "denier" and pushed back against the senator's remarks.
"Are you aware the IPCC and the consensus has no explanation for the increase of ice in the Antarctic?" Curry said. "Are you aware that they have no explanation for the fact the rate of sea level rise from 1920 to 1950 was as large, if not larger, as it currently is?"
"Are you aware that temperatures have been warming for more than 200 years, and, that in the 20th Century, 40 percent of the warming occurred before 1950 when carbon dioxide was not a factor in the warming?" Curry continued.
Curry highlighted even more uncertainties among climate scientists many Democrats and environmentalists are loathe to admit. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has trouble explaining the recent "hiatus" in warming as well as the warming trend before the 1950s.
"Doctor, as I just said in my testimony '-- corroborated by Dr. Titley [another witness on the panel] '-- this is the warmest year ever recorded," Markey shot back. "Last year was the warmest year ever recorded until this year. This was the warmest November ever recorded. October... was the warmest ever recorded."
"You do not have an answer for that," Markey said before going on to site Galileo and claim Curry was relying on "something that is perhaps God-made rather than dependent upon something that is man-made" and backed by science.
"Are you saying there's no natural variability senator?" Steyn cut in. "There were alligators at the North Pole. What was that? Was that you in your SUV?"
Markey was forced to acknowledge the planet does in fact warm and cool on its own, but said natural variability is regional and the warming trend "is straight up."
"Do you know what the little ice age was senator?" Steyn said to which Markey responded by claiming Boston's record levels of snow are a product of global warming.
On the other hand, the Bloomberg pajama boy, Anthony Adragna, was discombobulated by all thel¨se-majest(C):
But perhaps the strangest exchange of the three-hour hearing came from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Mark Steyn, a Canadian political commenter without any scientific background. Markey was speaking around the 2:11 mark of the hearing when, in an unusual break of Senate decorum, Steyn began peppering the senator with questions and interrupting his responses, apparently in an attempt to question Markey's credibility on the issue.
Markey: If you want to ignore that these changes are taking place and that they are having a dramatic impact, then you are in the right place.
Steyn: Do you know what the winters were like at Plymouth Rock? Do you know what the winters were like at Plymouth Rock, senator?
Markey: Well, here is the thing. We...
Steyn: You don't. How long has your family been in Massachusetts?
Markey: We are new arrivals and I have to admit...
Steyn: You should have been in there in 1750.
Markey: The Irish weren't arriving in 1750, so I apologize for being late to the country and I'll have to chastise my grandparents for not leaving until the economic conditions in 1902 forced them here, but that notwithstanding, there is as much consensus that man is causing climate change as there is in Galileo's original theory.
Steyn:What percentage of climate change is man causing, senator? What percentage of climate change in anthropogenic?
Markey: Well, according to the scientists who are in Paris right now, which would fill pretty much the entire space of the building in which we're in right now and the number of deniers would still be the ones who are at the table.
Steyn:Yeah, what's the percentage senator?
Here's the video:
This exchange was also noted by a website called Fabius Maximus:
This is the Q&A between Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Judith Curry (Prof Atmospheric Science, GA Inst Tech), and Mark Steyn (arts reviewer and conservative activist)... Senator Ed Markey has been briefed by activists, doesn't listen to the testimony, and so not only does not understand the other side of either the science or policy debates (which differ), he does not know there is an other side (he just sees error). Material that contradicts his belief is ignored...
Markey: What I am saying is that this warming is something that while it may have variability, year-to-year in specific parts of the planet that the trend is straight up.
Steyn: Yeah, do you know what the Little Ice Age was, Senator?
Markey: Again it is climate change. We had a hundred and ten inches of snow in Boston last year with measurements of water 21 degrees warmer than normal off the coast of Massachusetts. This was an unusual event for us. The warming of the ocean intensifies the amount of precipitation when arctic air hits that water. Now if you want to deny that, if you watch these changes are taking place and that they're having a dramatic impact, you are in the right place.
Steyn: You know what the winters were like at Plymouth Rock, Senator?
Here is the relevance of my question. The snow last winter in Boston is only relevant in the context of the snow a century ago and two centuries ago. Otherwise, it's merely an old weather forecast. So I was interested to know whether Senator Markey knew anything about the Massachusetts climate before last winter's snowfall. Fabius Maximus sniffed:
That art critic Mark Steyn has all the good lines shows that this isn't a debate so much as performance art.
Unfortunately, the "decorum of the Senate" means that there are never any debates and only performance art, procedurally rigged to the advantage of the posturing preening senator. It's easy for Fabius Maximus to fight vainly the old ennui at this particular bit of performance art, but in fact it was most unusual. I've been told that there's never been an occasion where two witnesses turned the tables on a senator and bombarded him with questions. If that's the case, Americans shouldn't wait another 200 years to do it again. No citizen should consent to be insulted to her face by a mere elected representative.
Certainly, Senator Markey, like so many cowardly bullies, didn't take it well. He was supposed to come back for his scheduled second round of questions. But, after that exchange, he declined to return.
To Fabius Maximus I'm an "art critic" (no art critic would regard me as such). To Media Matters I'm a "shock jock" (I guest-host on the radio once every couple of months, so shock-wise the after-effects are apparently huge and lingering). To Senator Cruz I'm "a Top Five jazz recording artist". Sad that there's no longer a place for a Renaissance man - or, in my case, a Medieval Warm Period man. Yet the issue in the above exchange is not my ignorance, but the invincible ignorance of Ed Markey, a man who has a larger staff than the Prime Minister of Australia and who is paid by taxpayers to jet off with his entourage to the Paris gourmet-banquet marathon and who intends, when the moment is right, to ram through a massive tax and regulatory regime in service of a chimera. And yet he knows nothing.
I will say this, however, since it appears to be an issue to so many people: I've bluffed my way through many areas of endeavor and in my experience it's much harder to bluff your way through, say, ballet criticism than climate science. Or at any rate what passes for "climate science" to the likes of Senator Markey.
On the politics of the day and its relevance to the 2016 election, I'll have more to say in a day or two. But I thank Senator Cruz for inviting the world's only shock-jock art critic to his sub-committee, and I came away with my admiration for the rare courage of professors Christy, Curry and Happer profoundly increased.
(C) 2015 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises.
VIDEO-Tables turned: Scientist Judith Curry and Author Mark Steyn question, school Sen Markey on climate - YouTube
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VIDEO-THEREMIN - Over The Rainbow - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 17:56
VIDEO-Hacktivist group Anonymous rallies internet against ISIS on Friday | New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 23:02
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The battle between ISIS and Anonymous is about to get real.
Those Anonymous hacktivists have declared Friday as "Troll ISIS Day."
They are calling on supporters to blast the terror group by mocking them.
PIX11's Jay Dow talks about the new strategy to drive terrorists crazy.
VIDEO-North Korea claims it has hydrogen bomb - CNN.com
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 22:50
The announcement came as a top United Nations human rights official told a Security Council meeting that it was "essential" that Pyongyang be referred to the International Criminal Court.
But outside observers were skeptical, saying that such an advance in nuclear technology seemed unlikely.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made the claim, according to state media outlet KCNA, while touring a historic weapons industry site in the reclusive communist country.
Will China protect North Korea?
North Korea had become "a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate [a] self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation," Kim said, according to the KCNA report.
The claim is "inextricably linked" to the Security Council meeting, said Jasper Kim, director of the Center for Conflict Management at Seoul's Ewha University.
"North Korea wants to achieve a stronger bargaining position."
North Korea says it can miniaturize nuclear weapons
Observers skepticalExperts have responded to Pyongyang's claim with skepticism.
John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Asia program at Chatham House, said it was "hard to see convincing technical evidence" of Kim's claim, which he believed was the first North Korea had made regarding possessing a hydrogen bomb.
North Korea had previously used plutonium in nuclear tests, one of the elements used in more "small fry" fission weapons such as atomic bombs, Nilsson-Wright said, and a leap to thermonuclear capability would be surprising.
"Since the 1980s there is some evidence to suggest a program of developing highly enriched uranium, alongside plutonium, but it's hard to see how they could have made the leap from that to evidence of a working hydrogen bomb," he told CNN.
Lee Chun-geun, a research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, shared his doubts.
"It's hard to regard North Korea as possessing an H-bomb. I think it seems to be developing it," Lee said, according to a report by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Russian lawmaker Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower legislative house, told state broadcaster Russia 24 that he wasn't sure whether North Korea had a thermonuclear bomb. He said, however, that he believes Kim's regime could be close to having one.
Difficult to assessHard evidence of North Korea's nuclear progress is difficult to come by, Nilsson-Wright said.
Kim's regime generally cloaks its efforts in secrecy and occasionally boasts of advances through propaganda outlets, leaving the rest of the world to attempt to connect the dots.
Nilsson-Wright said such claims were typically made in an "attention-grabbing effort to assert North Korean autonomy and his own political authority" and "enhance its negotiating position with other countries."
Pyongyang is a "black box", said Ewha's Kim. He added that the regime was well versed in using uncertainty about its true capabilities to generate fear and strengthen its hand in terms of negotiations.
North Korea's internationally isolated regime is a heavily militarized state with a huge standing army of 1.2 million active soldiers and 7.7 million reservists.
But its conventional weaponry is dated, with limited effectiveness, and it has looked to developing its nuclear capabilities to project power internationally.
The country declared it had nuclear weapons in 2003, and conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
In May, it said it had the ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons, a development that would allow it to deploy nuclear weapons on missiles. A U.S. National Security Council spokesman responded that the United States did not think the North Koreans had such a capability.
David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, told CNN earlier this year that Pyongyang could have 10 to 15 atomic weapons at this point, and that it could grow that amount by several weapons per year.
He said he believed Pyongyang had the capability to miniaturize a warhead for shorter missiles, but not yet for intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Official: North Korea would use nukes if 'forced'
Atomic bomb vs. hydrogen bombThe atomic bomb -- the type dropped by the United States over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II -- produces a fission reaction, in which a neutron collides with an atom's nucleus, splitting it into two smaller nuclei and releasing energy. Nuclear energy plants use fission to generate electricity.
A hydrogen bomb produces a fusion reaction -- the energy source of the sun and the stars -- in which colliding nuclei form a new nucleus. Fusion devices produce explosions "orders of magnitude more powerful than atomic bombs," according to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
The Hiroshima explosion in 1945 produced the equivalent of 13,000 tons of TNT, according to the commission. By comparison, the world's first thermonuclear test, conducted by the U.S. in the Marshall Islands in 1952, yielded the equivalent of 10.4 million tons of TNT, a blast 700 times more powerful.
July: North Korea: We're not interested in Iran-style nuclear talks
CNN's Jethro Mullen, Kyung Lah, Jung-eun Kim, Lindsay Isaac and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Watch Carly Fiorina explode at CNN's Chris Cuomo for refusing to allow her to continue to lie about Planned Parenthood - Salon.com
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 19:04
Fading Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina appeared on CNN's ''New Day'' Friday only to discover that co-host Chris Cuomo remembered he was a journalist and was intent on holding her feet to the pro-life fires she's been stoking since this summer.
Cuomo suggested that the man who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, Robert Dear, was ''influenced by some of the rhetoric that was coming out of you that painted a very ugly, unfair picture of Planned Parenthood.''
''Oh really, Chris?'' Fiorina testily replied. ''There have been nine videos, it is very clear what Planned Parenthood have been doing. Several weeks ago, Planned Parenthood made a quiet little announcement that they would no longer accept compensation for what they call 'fetal tissue.' That's about as close to an admission [of guilt] as you can get.''
''That's not what they say,'' Cuomo said, only to be shouted down by Fiorina.
''Look,'' an irate Fiorina replied, ''what happened in Colorado was a terrible thing. This guy is a deranged murderer who should be put away for life, but that has nothing to do with the truth of what is going on in Planned Parenthood.''
''This is a typical left-wing tactic,'' she continued, regaining her calm clich(C) by clich(C), ''of trying to shut down the truth by silencing people. This has happened over, and over, and over again.''
Cuomo, clearly exasperated by Fiorina's theatrics, replied that ''the question doesn't go away '-- the videos were edited, you know that.''
''I don't know that!'' Fiorina fired back, secure in her belief that if she repeats the same lie enough times, people will believe it. ''There has been forensic evidence of those nine video tapes over and over again, and there have been reports that they were not edited.''
''Of course they were edited,'' Cuomo said. ''Let's be careful about what we're saying.''
''Let's be very careful about what we're saying,'' trainwreck-in-process Fiorina replied. ''Let's be very careful about what we're saying.''
Cuomo noted that there ''were scenes and pictures'' in the videos that were manifestly edited into the conversations, even though they weren't ''authentic or germane to the conversation within the video. Now you have someone who went out and killed in the name of that.''
''Oh really, really, Chris?'' Fiorina said, her composure now clearly flagging. ''I don't recall '-- and careful Chris, you're a journalist '-- I don't recall anybody in the pro-life community celebrating this tragedy.'' Unfortunately for Fiorina, the standard of evidence isn't what she does or doesn't recall, and many conservatives did, in fact, celebrate Dear's attack on the clinic.
Watch the entire interview below via CNN.
VIDEO-Rada rumble: Ukraine parliament fights it out as MP attempts to drag PM Yatsenyuk away (VIDEO) '-- RT News
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 16:09
MPs of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev launched a brawl during a speech by Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. The PM later said there were ''a lot of morons,'' so he would not comment on the incident.
The fight began between MPs from the president's Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB) and Yatsenyuk's People's Front (PF).
It allegedly all started when Oleg Barna (PPB) went up to the tribune while Yatsenyuk was giving a speech, presented him a bouquet of roses and then tried to carry him off the stage.
Barna's actions led to a fight that disrupted the PM's speech.
The brawl continued for several minutes involving members from both parties, although some were clearly confused, as seen in the video. When everyone had calmed down, representatives from both the PPB and PF apologized.
''Please, I'm not upset,'' Yatsenyuk said while addressing the PPB speaker, ''so there are lots of morons - let's finish with the questions to the government.''
Oleg Barna was excluded from the Rada later that day.
Fisticuffs in the Ukrainian parliament are far from infrequent. In fact fights break out so often they have fueled a meme called 'Accidental Renaissance', when ugly fights in the Rada are depicted in photos resembling Italian art due to their perfect proportions.
READ MORE Ukrainian history of farce
Internet users have rapidly reacted to the bizarre photos coming from this latest parliament session in Ukraine giving rise to a fresh meme starring Arseny Yatsenyuk.
VIDEO-FBI Director Apparently Doesn't Know How Buying a Gun on the Internet Works - OutdoorHub
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 15:59
Gun owners, brace yourselves: this clip may make your blood boil.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing held yesterday, FBI Director James Comey was brought before legislators to primarily discuss the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) began his question-and-answer period with Comey with a seemingly simple question: ''If I buy a gun on the internet, is it delivered to my home?''
Comey, perhaps surprised by the question, seemed to stumble. Graham clarified, asking ''if I try to buy a gun on the internet, where do I pick it up?''
Looking perplexed, the FBI Director replied ''I assume it's shipped to you, but I don't know for sure, actually.'' You can see the exchange in the video embedded below:
''Okay, well, let's find out the answer to that,'' replied Graham.
Comey's response, if not intended to be expanded upon at some point, is baffling. As the Director of the FBI, he should be well aware of the fact that if a private citizen purchases a firearm on the internet, that gun is then shipped to a Federal Firearms License holder (FFL). The individual must then pick up the gun from his or her FFL and pass a background check to take ownership of the gun, a process that is often referred to as a transfer.
As almost all gun owners are aware, the background check involves the FFL contacting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) via phone or computer, a service managed by the FBI, to determine whether the potential transferee is a person prohibited from owning firearms. Assuming the transferee passes the check, they get the gun they purchased online.
If Comey is not aware of how a critical part of the firearms purchasing process managed by his agency is conducted, the implications are troubling.
Graham did not return to the point later in his questioning, and after the query he began asking Comey about other items related to the San Bernardino attack. Though the clip provided above is brief and could be seen as being taken out of context, a complete recording of the committee from C-SPAN can be seen below. Graham's interview begins around the 47-minute mark.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the FBI Director is unfamiliar with the process of purchasing a firearm or was something else afoot?
Image is a screenshot of video by Motherboard on YouTube
Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
VIDEO-NSA and CIA Contractor Says U.S. Mercenary Group Carried Out San Bernardino Attack - Counter Current News
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 15:50
A former NSA and CIA contractor says he has to come clean about the San Bernardino shooting, which he says did not happen the way the media and law enforcement are claiming.
The official narrative is that last Wednesday, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, stormed a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, shooting and killing 14 people and injuring 21 others. This marks the deadliest mass shooting in the US in three years.
We are told that Malik pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist organization and pseudo-Caliphate. This pledge or ''bayat'' supposedly came via Facebook '' during the attacks in question.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Monday that the couple had been radicalized ''for some time,'' even though they claimed to have known absolutely nothing about them.
But according to Steven D Kelley, a former NSA and CIA contractor, Mercenaries from the Craft International, a tactical training company for the US military, are the ones who carried out a ''false flag operation'' in San Bernardino, California.
Kelley said in an interview with Iran's Press TV on Tuesday that the San Bernardino shooting ''is just one in a long string of false flag events that I am afraid to say are not over.''
''We'll probably be seeing several more before the end of the year, because of the events that are going on in the world, specifically with the NATO being implicated in the buying of oil from Daesh and other events,'' he continued.
''So when these things happen they need to have a rapid response which requires a false flag attack. This was very obvious that this was going to happen,'' Kelley added.
''The people that were on the scene and saw this happen also reported that three tall white men wearing black shirts, khaki pants and tanned combat boots were actually the shooters. The description is almost exactly what the gentlemen from Craft International, the mercenary organization that was involved in so many other false flags, actually look like. This seems to be their standard uniform,'' he concluded.
In spite of claimed from law enforcement and President Obama, Kelley says that he is absolutely certain that the couple accused did not carry out the attacks.
''The people that are being implicated '' the couple '' first of all if they were planning something, if they were radicalized as this is being said, and clearly the NSA, the FBI will be right on the top of these people all the time, but rather than stopping them from doing something, they were nurtured to be used for this exact purpose,'' he argued.
''I do not suspect that these people have anything to do with the actual shooting. I suspect that these were patsies, no different than Timothy McVeigh or any of these other people who have historically been used to implement these terrorist acts,'' he continued.
''If you look at the people that were wounded you can see clearly that bullet wounds are not real. The .223 caliber weapon or bullets fired from AR15 '' an extremely powerful weapon '' would blow someone's arm off, it is not going to make a small hole,'' Kelley concluded, noting his professional background and vast knowledge of tactical weapons and ballistic wounds.
''So clearly this is a very very dirty false flag. Obviously, the United States is getting very very desperate; the government here is very desperate, they need to do something immediately to disarm the United States prior to a revolution, because the people here are waking up very fast, and they are ready to shut down this evil empire. And this needs to happen very soon,'' Kelley concluded.
Watch the video of the interview below and let us know what you think about Kelley's controversial claims'...
(Article by M. David and Jackson Marciana; image by #Op309 Media)
VIDEO-Lisa Ling and Anderson Reminisce About Channel One - YouTube
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 13:42
VIDEO-MOONWALKERS - Official Red Band Trailer - YouTube
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 23:16
VIDEO-SHOOTING STANLEY KUBRICK EDIT X - YouTube
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:53
VIDEO AUDIO-Leaked Audio Proves Mainstream Media Cheers on Trump's Bigotry for Profit
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:38
Home>>Business>>Leaked Audio Proves Mainstream Media Cheers on Trump's Bigotry for ProfitAn inside look at why corporate media eggs on Trump's divisive '-- and lucrative '-- braggadocio.Deirdre FultonDecember 10, 2015
(COMMONDREAMS) Even as large swaths of the population call for media outlets to do their part in stemming the ''dangerous tide of hatred, violence, and suspicion'' taking hold in the United States, corporate media '-- which stands to benefit nicely from the $5 billion 2016 presidential election'--is egging on that same divisive rhetoric.
''Go Donald! Keep getting out there!'' CBS Corporation chief executive Les Moonves reportedly said during an investor presentation Monday.
Trumpeting the advertising dollars already flowing CBS's way as a result of the crowded 2016 GOP presidential primary, Moonves said: ''We love having all 16 Republicans candidates throwing crap at each other '-- it's great. The more they spend, the better it is for us.''
''And, you know, this is fun, watching this, let them spend money on us, and we love having them in there,'' he declared. ''We're looking forward to a very exciting political year in '16.''
Writing for The Intercept, Lee Fang notes that ''[t]he call took place right around the same time Trump announced his intention to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the United States, suggesting the CBS chief didn't know about that yet.''
However, Fang continues, ''Moonves' remarks came after months of similar rhetoric from Trump, including claims that the Mexican government is sending rapists into the U.S. and statements supporting a registration system for Muslim Americans.''
As Common Dreams and others have reported, media companies are positioned to benefit from the unlimited campaign spending corrupting the U.S. political system. As Moonves said in 2012, ''Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're very good for CBS.''
Listen to the leaked audio below:
This article (Leaked Audio Proves Mainstream Media Cheers on Trump's Bigotry for Profit) originally appeared on CommonDreams.org and is licensed Creative Commons 3.0. The Anti-Media radio showairs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image: DonkeyHotey. Help us fix our typos:edits@theantimedia.org.
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VIDEO-Stanley Kubrick admits Moonlanding fake '' 2
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:34
VIDEO-Stanley Kubrick admits Moonlanding film fake '' 1
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:33
VIDEO-LINK-No objectivity in fed climate studies, Alabama expert tells Senate hearing | AL.com
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:23
The Obama administration is reluctant to provide funding for studies that may not validate the president's concern about the dangers of climate change, a Huntsville climate expert told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.
John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a well-known skeptic of human-caused climate change, participated Tuesday in a panel hearing before the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness.
The subcommittee's chair is Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, who presided over the hearing.
The panel was stacked with climate experts who dispute the belief that human influence is causing climate change, a reflection of Cruz's position that he outlined at the beginning of the hearing.
While Christy repeated talking points he has made in previous appearances before Congress '' particularly about how climate models that project global temperatures are rising at a rate faster than reality '' he also said opposing views are squashed by the government denying funding for those studies.
"The attempt to study climate change with an objective eye is thwarted by the federal funding process," he said.
Christy said Congress needs objective studies in order to make more informed decisions.
"My view, Congress needs to fix this problem by directly funding red teams which are not part of the climate model and industry that tests the basis for the claims that human-induced climate change is dangerous," Christy said in his opening statement. "Congress needs objective eyes on this issue because it is such a big ticket item for everyone involved."
7 questions with John Christy and Roy Spencer: Climate change skeptics for 25 years
Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech and a fellow skeptic on the panel, echoed Christy's position about federal funding allocated to studies with predetermined conclusions.
"The social contract currently between the Obama administration and climate scientists is if you say alarming things, you'll get plenty of funding," she said. "That seems to be how it's working. And that is very, very pernicious for scientists."
Democrats on the subcommittee spoke as fervently about the dangers of climate change as much as Cruz spoke dismissively of it.
"It's ironic that we're holding this hearing in the committee with jurisdiction over science because this committee is turning its back on the real science," said Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, citing the "97 percent" of scientists who accept the theory of human-caused climate change.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, gave an opening statement outlining the possible "catastrophic" effects of climate change.
"From the models and our understanding of the science, we see a range of potential outcomes, a range of potential warming trends, a range of consequences based on those trends," Perry said. "There are implications for our national security, for the economic health of our country, for our food supply and agriculture and for the health and safety of Michiganders, Americans as well as people around the planet.
"The possible consequences range from the bad to the catastrophic. Given our best scientific judgment of our risk posture, of the consequences we face as a civilization and the likelihood of those consequences occurring, we must do what we can to mitigate these risks."
Cruz repeatedly referred to a 2009 comment by now-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in which he asserted that the arctic ice caps would be ice-free by 2013. Cruz also cited other evidence that humans aren't the primary cause of climate change as "inconvenient facts" '' mocking former vice president Al Gore's documentary on global warming titled "An Inconvenient Truth."
Cruz also ridiculed Democrats for holding a press conference before the subcommittee hearing.
"What does it say when members of the United States Senate are protesting?" Cruz said. "How dare the science subcommittee in the United States Senate hear testimony about science from actual scientists? How dare we focus on such topics? I think that's exactly what we were elected to do."
Christy ended his opening statement by saying the White House's proposals to combat climate change would only add an economic burden to the country.
"Even if the United States of America disappeared today '' no people, no cars, no factories '' the impact would be negligible on whatever the climate does," Christy said.
"To me, it is not scientifically justifiable or economically rational that this nation should establish regulations whose only discernible consequence is an increase in economic pain (placed) most directly and harshly on the poorest among us. This happens when the scientific process that allegedly underpins regulations lacks objectivity and transparency."
Click here to see the video of the hearing. Christy's opening statement begins at 52:30.
Click here to see Christy's written testimony and documents for the subcommittee.
VIDEO-SHOOTING STANLEY KUBRICK (First 30 Minutes Only). - YouTube
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:12
VIDEO-'See something, say something': Has 'clock boy' impacted action? | HLNtv.com
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:09
Earlier this week, we asked, "Is being politically correct more important than our safety?" As you can imagine, the debate was filled with fury on both sides.
Then last night, political commentator Andy Dean blamed President Obama and Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old who made international headlines when he brought a handmade clock to school to show his teachers, for making people reluctant to report suspicious behavoir.
MORE:Former special agent: U.S. terrorism statistics are about to change
'Dr. Drew' airs Monday through Thursday on HLN at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter @DrDrewHLN .
VIDEO-San Bernardino shooting first responders recall rescues; photo shows room just before attack - CBS News
Thu, 10 Dec 2015 14:39
We are getting a look inside the room where the two San Bernardino shooting suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire. A newly-released photo shows county employee Julie Swann-Paez receiving an award just before the attack, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.
View Gallery
Julie Swann-Paez
Swann-Paez was shot twice in the pelvis, but survived. Now more than a dozen first responders are sharing their stories.
"I don't feel like a hero whatsoever," detective Jorge Lozano said.
Lozano was captured on cell phone video leading shooting survivors to safety.
"I'll take a bullet before you do, that's for damn sure, just be cool, okay?" Lozano could be heard saying.
"There was a female there, with a small child, maybe an 8-year-old little boy, that was just terrified," Lozano said. "And I said what I said."
"But did you feel exposed? Did you feel like when you opened that door, that shooter could be on the other end?" Evans asked him.
"Yes, sir," he replied.
Officer Nicholas Koahou was one of two officers injured, shot in the thigh in the final confrontation with the killers. He left his vehicle to pull another officer to safety.
"When I was hit, the male was already down on the street," Koahou said. "So I did not know who was in the back of that car, shooting at us. But I could hear rifle fire coming out of the back of that car."
Now he said he knows it was Malik firing at him.
According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, investigators have no sign that the San Bernardino shooters belonged to a larger terror cell. The FBI is still tracking what Farook and Malik were doing before the shooting rampage that left 14 dead.
PlayVideo
CBSNSan Bernardino shooters practiced shooting before attackThe San Bernardino shooter practiced with the AR-15 he used in the shooting at a gun range before the shooting. CBS News Correspondent Carter Eva...
U.S. officials now say both shooters had pledged their allegiance to ISIS and had been radicalized for some time. CBS News learned Farook received a $28,500 loan before the attacks, and the couple may have planned to use that money to help the daughter they would leave behind. Farook's loan was from online lender Prosper, and investigators are now trying to follow the money.
They're also questioning Enrique Marquez, a longtime friend of Farook's who purchased the two assault rifles used in the attack. He could face charges for his involvement. His family had no comment Tuesday.
It's also unclear if Farook's mother knew about the pending attack. Last week, FBI agents seized several items after searching her black Lexus in front of the apartment she shared with the couple, including targets from the gun range her son visited.
Investigators said surveillance footage shows the attackers' SUV in a nearby shopping mall the day before the shooting. It's unclear what the couple was doing there.
As for the Inland Regional Center, law enforcement still has control of the scene and officials said two of the buildings won't re-open until next year at the earliest. The building where the shooting took place will remain closed indefinitely.
(C) 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-Balls Out Physics Episode 1: Planes Flying on a Spinning Ball - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2015 22:25

Art

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Agenda 2030

Climate journalists go nuts.mp3
COP21 Elites celebrate saving the world.mp3
Dr. John Christy in Cruz testimony of anti AGW research funding.mp3
Harrison Ford Warns Of Humanity's End By Climate Change.mp3
Neil DeGrasse Tyson - do not debate Flat earth-EMEREGENT TRUTH.mp3
OBAMA IS THE BEST-Obama calls Paris climate pact 'best chance' to save the planet.mp3

Caliphate!

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Cruz- AG's 'Ban on What She Calls Anti-Muslim Rhetoric' Producing 'Chilling Effect' in War on Terror.mp3
DOD- U.S. Expects ISIS to 'Gain Footholds Elsewhere'--North Africa, Libya and the Sinai.mp3
FoxBiz On FearPorn And Sex.m4a
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Obama-FEAR GUIDE-Podcast on ISIL FInance Chief FEAR do not be afraid.mp3

CryBullies

'Gasps' in Courtroom After Scalia's Remark on Colleges-NO GASPS-Sherrilyn Ifill.mp3
CNN Panel- Scalia 'Disturbing' and 'Offensive' on Race, 'Sounded Nutty.mp3
CNN Touts Twitter 'Thread Calling For...Impeachment' of Scalia-CONTEXT.mp3
Justice Thomas -2014- likens affirmative action support to slavery.mp3

Elections 2016

Anonymous also working on Trump hate.mp3
Bigoted racisct NPR wait wait don't tell me.mp3
Chris Matthews Praises Donald Trump for a Change; The Reason? He Bashed Dick Cheney.mp3
Georgette Mosbacher GOP FUndraiser On Trump.m4a
Les Moonves audio investor meeting on political advertising bonanza.mp3
Michiel Vos DutchTV - Only Nuts Are For Trump.m4a
Trump on Pooper WTF! - Knock The SHIT Out Of Them.m4a
Whoopie-Trumps free speech should be on watch list=terror.mp3

F-Russia

Kirby Clashes With Pro-Kremlin TV Reporter- ‘I Can’t Believe Honestly That You Aren’t Embarrassed to Ask these Questions’-KICKER.mp3
Putin orders tough action on Syria threats.mp3
Syria- explosions in Homs leave at least 16 dead.mp3

Migrants

ABC-Canadian Leader's 'Warm Welcome' For Syrian Refugees.mp3
Border Patrol Official- 'Some' of Paris Terrorists Would Have Been Stopped Before Entering U.S..mp3
DHS Screening Official Burreisce Unable To Provide Stats On Refugee-ISO.mp3
DHS Screening Official Burreisce Unable To Provide Stats On Refugee.mp3
Refugees to be temporarily housed at military sites in Quebec, Ontario.mp3

Movie PR

Kubrick Moonwalkers Trailer.mp3

Shut Up Slave!

Shown in High School-North Korea claims it has H-bomb as U.N. discusses human rights abuses.mp3

SSSS

Dr Drew-'See something, say something'- Has 'clock boy' impacted action?.mp3

War on Guns

After Boxer-Sen. Blumenthal Advocating for Gun Control- If Same Number of Gun Deaths Were Due to Illness ‘This Nation Would Be Up in Arms’-GUN DISEASE.mp3
Boxer on 30000 deaths WTF.mp3
EarnestGuns-1-VJ44 and Scrubbing the rules.mp3
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EarnestGuns-3-Tragic & Ironic & FORCEFUL.mp3
EarnestGuns-4-statistics and mor eirony bullcrap.mp3
FBI Director Apparently Doesn’t Know How Buying a Gun on the Internet Works.mp3
Seth Meyers Tees Up Hillary Clinton to Push Gun Control-PROTESTETH TOO MUCH.mp3
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