782: Lumpy Lips

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 57m
December 17th, 2015
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Executive Producers: Silent Knight, Sir BlackBall of TWiT Baron Kevin Bae

Associate Executive Producers: Calin Nistor, Timnonymous

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat


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DH unplugged, talking about indebtedness of carbon credits personally just like college loans ultimate slave system
Donald Trump is driving his truck Mack truck through the same obvious gaping hole no agenda saw in the media landscape. People just want to hear honesty, right wrong or indifferent an apology it wrong
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Shut Up Slave!
Facebook, Google, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours: Germany | Reuters
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 19:42
Tue Dec 15, 2015 | 11:49 AM EST
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany said on Tuesday that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis.
The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.
The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.
"When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net," Maas said. "And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours."
Germany last month launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over its alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.
Martin Ott, Facebook's managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe based in Hamburg, may be held responsible for the social platform's failure to remove hate speech, a spokeswoman for the prosecution said last month.
A Facebook spokesperson said the allegations lack merit and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.
Facebook has a partnership with a group called FSM, which monitors multimedia service providers on a voluntary basis, and has said it would encourage its users to push back against racism.
Vandals attacked its offices in the northern city of Hamburg at the weekend, damaging the entrance to the building and spraying "Facebook dislike" on a wall.
(Reporting by Oliver Ellrodt; Writing by Joseph Nasr)
No, there's no ''hate speech'' exception to the First Amendment - The Washington Post
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 20:37
I keep hearing about a supposed ''hate speech'' exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, ''This isn't free speech, it's hate speech,'' or ''When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?'' But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam '-- or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens '-- as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.
To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment. But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with ''hate speech'' in any conventionally used sense of the term. For instance, there is an exception for ''fighting words'' '-- face-to-face personal insults addressed to a specific person, of the sort that are likely to start an immediate fight. But this exception isn't limited to racial or religious insults, nor does it cover all racially or religiously offensive statements. Indeed, when the City of St. Paul tried to specifically punish bigoted fighting words, the Supreme Court held that this selective prohibition was unconstitutional (R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)), even though a broad ban on all fighting words would indeed be permissible. (And, notwithstanding CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's Tweet that ''hate speech is excluded from protection,'' and his later claims that by ''hate speech'' he means ''fighting words,'' the fighting words exception is not generally labeled a ''hate speech'' exception, and isn't coextensive with any established definition of ''hate speech'' that I know of.)
The same is true of the other narrow exceptions, such as for true threats of illegal conduct or incitement intended to and likely to produce imminent illegal conduct (i.e., illegal conduct in the next few hours or maybe days, as opposed to some illegal conduct some time in the future). Indeed, threatening to kill someone because he's black (or white), or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because he's Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime. But this isn't because it's ''hate speech''; it's because it's illegal to make true threats and incite imminent crimes against anyone and for any reason, for instance because they are police officers or capitalists or just someone who is sleeping with the speaker's ex-girlfriend.
The Supreme Court did, in Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952), uphold a ''group libel'' law that outlawed statements that expose racial or religious groups to contempt or hatred, unless the speaker could show that the statements were true, and were said with ''good motives'' and for ''justifiable ends.'' But this too was treated by the Court as just a special case of a broader First Amendment exception '-- the one for libel generally. And Beauharnais is widely understood to no longer be good law, given the Court's restrictions on the libel exception. See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) (rejecting the view that libel is categorically unprotected, and holding that the libel exception requires a showing that the libelous accusations be ''of and concerning'' a particular person); Garrison v. Louisiana (1964) (generally rejecting the view that a defense of truth can be limited to speech that is said for ''good motives'' and for ''justifiable ends''); Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. Hepps (1986) (generally rejecting the view that the burden of proving truth can be placed on the defendant); R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) (holding that singling bigoted speech is unconstitutional, even when that speech fits within a First Amendment exception); Nuxoll ex rel. Nuxoll v. Indian Prairie Sch. Dist. # 204, 523 F.3d 668, 672 (7th Cir. 2008) (concluding that Beauharnais is no longer good law); Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1200 (9th Cir. 1989) (likewise); Am. Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Hudnut, 771 F.2d 323, 331 n.3 (7th Cir. 1985) (likewise); Collin v. Smith, 578 F.2d 1197, 1205 (7th Cir. 1978) (likewise); Tollett v. United States, 485 F.2d 1087, 1094 n.14 (8th Cir. 1973) (likewise); Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies 1043-45 (4th ed. 2011); Laurence Tribe, Constitutional Law, §12-17, at 926; Toni M. Massaro, Equality and Freedom of Expression: The Hate Speech Dilemma, 32 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 211, 219 (1991); Robert C. Post, Cultural Heterogeneity and Law: Pornography, Blasphemy, and the First Amendment, 76 Calif. L. Rev. 297, 330-31 (1988).
Finally, ''hostile environment harassment law'' has sometimes been read as applying civil liability '-- or administrative discipline by universities '-- to allegedly bigoted speech in workplaces, universities, and places of public accommodation. There is a hot debate on whether those restrictions are indeed constitutional; they have generally been held unconstitutional when applied to universities, but decisions are mixed as to civil liability based on speech that creates hostile environments in workplaces (see the pages linked to at this site for more information on the subject). But even when those restrictions have been upheld, they have been justified precisely on the rationale that they do not criminalize speech (or otherwise punish it) in society at large, but only apply to particular contexts, such as workplaces. None of them represent a ''hate speech'' exception, nor have they been defined in terms of ''hate speech.''
For this very reason, ''hate speech'' also doesn't have any fixed legal meaning under U.S. law. U.S. law has just never had occasion to define ''hate speech'' '-- any more than it has had occasion to define rudeness, evil ideas, unpatriotic speech, or any other kind of speech that people might condemn but that does not constitute a legally relevant category.
Of course, one can certainly argue that First Amendment law should be changed to allow bans on hate speech (whether bigoted speech, blasphemy, blasphemy to which foreigners may respond with attacks on Americans or blasphemy or flag burning or anything else). Perhaps some statements of the ''This isn't free speech, it's hate speech'' variety are deliberate attempts to call for such an exception, though my sense is that they are usually (incorrect) claims that the exception already exists.
I think no such exception should be recognized, but of course, like all questions about what the law ought to be, this is a matter that can be debated. Indeed, people have a First Amendment right to call for speech restrictions, just as they have a First Amendment right to call for gun bans or bans on Islam or government-imposed race discrimination or anything else that current constitutional law forbids. Constitutional law is no more set in stone than any other law.
But those who want to make such arguments should acknowledge that they are calling for a change in First Amendment law, and should explain just what that change would be, so people can thoughtfully evaluate it. Calls for a new First Amendment exception for ''hate speech'' shouldn't just rely on the undefined term ''hate speech'' '-- they should explain just what viewpoints the government would be allowed to suppress, what viewpoints would remain protected, and how judges, juries, and prosecutors are supposed to distinguish the two. Saying ''this isn't free speech, it's hate speech'' doesn't, I think, suffice.
Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
32+1-Text of email threat to Los Angeles public schools - Business Insider
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 01:30
On Tuesday, threatsof violence were called into the two largest schooldistricts in the nation '-- New York and Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) responded by closing every school in the district, while New York assessed the threat and found it to be "non credible." The threat has since beendeemed a hoax.
On Wednesday, ABC 7 and KTLA 5 both published the emailed threat in full, which claimed to be from a former student of a LAUSD high school and devout Muslim who experienced bullying while there.
"You see, my last 4 years here at one of the district high schools has been absolute hell," the email read. "Pure, unmitigated, agony. The bullying, the loneliness, the rejection... it is never-ending. And for what? Just because I'm 'different'?"
The author of the threat claimed to be working in collaboration with a local jihadist cell, and said they planted pressure-cooker bombs at several schools. In addition, the email said they would use Kalashnikov rifles,Glock 18 machine pistols, grenades, and nerve gas in the attack.
The email ending encouraged the LAUSD to pray to Allah. However, Allah was written with a lowercase "a." "It is time to pray to allah, as this may be your last day," the email read.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Police Commissioner William Bratton cited this error as a reason the threat was not credible.The threat to New York schools is said to be identical to LA's except for the name of the city and number of people participating in the terrorism threat.
Read below to see the full text of the email threat to the LAUSD:
I am emailing you to inform you of the happenings on Tuesday, 12/15/15.
Something big is going down. Something very big. It will make national headlines. Perhaps, even international ones. You see, my last 4 years here at one of the district high schools has been absolute hell. Pure, unmitigated, agony. The bullying, the loneliness, the rejection... it is never-ending. And for what? Just because I'm 'different'?
No. No more. I am a devout Muslim, and was once against violence, but I have teamed up with a local jihadist cell as it is the only way I'll be able to accomplish my massacre the correct way. I would not be able to do it alone. Me, and my 32 comrades, will die tomorrow in the name of Allah. Every school in the L.A. Unified district is being targeted. We have bombs hidden in lockers already at several schools. They are strategically placed and are meant to crumble the foundations of the very buildings that monger so much hate and discrimination. They are pressure cooker bombs, hidden in backpacks around the schools. They are loaded with 20 lbs. of gunpowder, for maximum damage. They will be detonated via Cell Phone. Not only are there bombs, but there are nerve gas agents set to go off at a specific time: during lunch hour. To top it off, my brothers in Allah and I have Kalashnikov rifles, Glock 18 Machine pistols, and multiple handheld grenades. The students at every school in the L.A. Unified district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
If you do end up trying to, by perhaps, beefing up security, or canceling classes for the day, it won't matter. Your security will not be able to stop us. We are an army of Allah. If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.
I wish you the best luck. It is time to pray to allah, as this may be your last day.
Hoax Or No Hoax? You Decide - Here Is The Full Text Of The Email Threat That Closed LA Schools | Zero Hedge
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 02:03
Below is the full text of the threatening email directed toward the Los Angeles Unified School District that led to the closing of all schools (and which NYC School District decided was a hoax)... you decide?
Via ABC7
I am emailing you to inform you of the happenings on Tuesday, 12/15/15.
Something big is going down. Something very big. It will make national headlines. Perhaps, even international ones. You see, my last 4 years here at one of the district high schools has been absolute hell. Pure, unmitigated, agony. The bullying, the loneliness, the rejection... it is never-ending. And for what? Just because I'm 'different'?
No. No more. I am a devout Muslim, and was once against violence, but I have teamed up with a local jihadist cell as it is the only way I'll be able to accomplish my massacre the correct way. I would not be able to do it alone. Me, and my 32 comrades, will die tomorrow in the name of Allah. Every school in the L.A. Unified district is being targeted. We have bombs hidden in lockers already at several schools. They are strategically placed and are meant to crumble the foundations of the very buildings that monger so much hate and discrimination. They are pressure cooker bombs, hidden in backpacks around the schools. They are loaded with 20 lbs. of gunpowder, for maximum damage. They will be detonated via Cell Phone. Not only are there bombs, but there are nerve gas agents set to go off at a specific time: during lunch hour. To top it off, my brothers in Allah and I have Kalashnikov rifles, Glock 18 Machine pistols, and multiple handheld grenades. The students at every school in the L.A. Unified district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
If you do end up trying to, by perhaps, beefing up security, or canceling classes for the day, it won't matter. Your security will not be able to stop us. We are an army of Allah. If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.
I wish you the best luck. It is time to pray to allah, as this may be your last day.
* * *
Better safe than sorry?
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(1 vote)
'Homeland' producer on show's tragically relevant ISIS storyline | EW.com
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 18:48
When Showtime first announced the fifth season storyline of Homeland would shift its focus from the Middle East to Europe, fans assumed the show was getting away from the Muslim terrorist threats that occupied CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) since the Emmy-winning series first launched. Yet after the terror attacks in Paris last month, Homeland has seemed increasingly and tragically prescient as the espionage thriller focused on an ISIS terror cell plotting a major attack in a European capitol (Berlin) by smuggling deadly weapons from Syria to Europe through an unsecured border while its characters heatedly debate President Obama's ISIS strategy and the ethics of electronic surveillance.
Below, EW spoke to showrunner Alex Gansa just minutes after he finished the final edit on the show's season finale, which will air this Sunday. The season's last episode completed filming just after the Nov. 13 attacks, but the rest of the season was written and shot before those tragic events. ''I have to preface this by saying that I just wish our fiction hadn't hewed so closely to the fact of Paris,'' Gansa said. ''It was something that his us all hard at Homeland. I was on my way to Berlin to film the big action sequence that will end episode 12 on the day after the Paris attacks; it was a bizarre time to be flying to Europe to film the finale of this season.''
Gansa previously spent years as a writer-producer on another terror thriller, Fox's 24. Each episode of Jack Bauer's ticking-clock race to stop domestic threats took place during an hour of screen time. But this year it's Homeland that seems it's somehow unfolding in real time.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When Showtime president David Nevins said the series was pulling out of the Middle East last summer at TCA, the reaction online was that Homeland was getting away from where the most hot-button terrorism issues are. Now here we are at the end of season 5 and the show has tracked closer to real-life headlines than ever before. ALEX GANSA: When David made those statements he hadn't yet heard our pitch. We had a been doing a story set in Afghanistan and Pakistan and we were looking around for another story to tell. [A story] that was maybe not so Muslim-centric was a possibility. Obviously it didn't turn out that way.
What's been your reaction to watching these headlines as your story has unfolded? There are so many parallels in the international conversation being echoed week by week on your show that was filmed months ago '-- from the Syria debate to the ISIS threat in Europe. They're all very thorny issues we're trying to address '-- not in a dogmatic or polemic way, but just asking the questions. It's all about trying to keep free and democratic societies safe, and how do you go about doing that? It's a very thorny problem that all these intelligence agencies face. Also, there are moral and ethical questions, and some pragmatic ones. We're facing a different and new kind of threat and everybody is scrambling to figure out how do deal with it.
You go on a fact-finding mission into D.C. and meet with intelligence experts before writing every season. Is that what inspired the Europe story line? It's a seminal 4''5 days for us each year, and this year all we heard about in Georgetown is the Islamic State, Vladimir Putin, and what's happening in Ukraine. The Charlie Hebdo attack just happened in Paris, ISIS had just burned the Jordanian pilot alive in the cage, and the news had come out about Edward Snowden '-- all those elements were swirling around the conversation in D.C. and you could see where it led. They were all woven together to create the fabric of season 5.
I think the most surreal moment was two episodes back. Faced with an attack threat in Berlin from ISIS, Saul says about Syria, ''Our only leverage is boots on the ground and there's no bigger proponent of an American invasion than the Islamic State.'' Then Dar adds, ''It could be argued that's what they want here, to draw us into another hot war in the Middle East.'' The same night Obama was addressing the nation saying the same thing. Yeah. Well, I think he's telling the truth. All we've heard in our research with our consultants, that's exactly what's being perpetrated and nothing would make [Islamic State] happier than if we committed 100,000 troops or something. Look, I'm just a layperson. I have a minor in foreign affairs. I'm reluctant to speak on these issues. Homeland tries not to do that. We try to pose questions not posit answers. But from all we've heard, yes, American troops could take Raqqa in a matter of months but the problem is: What then? What do we do once we're there? We're facing a chaotic array of enemies down there and we're back to another Iraq situation. That doesn't seem like the answer. Stronger, better, more intelligence minds than mine are trying to figure it out. But I don't believe rashly rushing into that area is wise.
At the same time, the season started with Quinn's speech slamming our non-strategy in Syria '--
'-- That was a rather incredible and forceful call for action that lit up the conservative blogsphere. It's fascinating the way the show plays such different sides of the debate. You have to regard Quinn's statement to that group of people in the basement at Langley as a real function of his fictional experience on the ground for the last two years. He was leading a special ops team against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. That was probably an incredibly difficult, super violent and unbelievably frustrating two years. How much progress did he make? How much killing did he have to unleash? And what does that do to a human being? That said, his statement that the United States doesn't have a strategy, it could be argued he's on the mark. But it's not as if we haven't tried to develop a strategy, it's just a strategy against these people is difficult to construct. And most sane people would argue that putting 100,000 troops on the ground in Syria would not be the best solution.
What was your overall reaction to Obama's speech outlining his terror strategy? I think Obama's speech was reasoned, measured, and exactly appropriate.
Two weeks ago, you also looped in a reference to the Paris attack via ADR [when an actor re-records dialogue while their character is speaking off camera allowing a change in a conversation months after the scene was originally shot]. But that was also a bit jarring because you're watching the scene wondering, wait, that attack just happened a week or so earlier, but nobody in the show was talking about it before?The show exists in sort of the nether-future. It wasn't meant to suggest it had just happened. It happened sometime in the past, is the idea.
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The season has also interestingly demonstrated the importance of electronic privacy and then successfully undermines its own arguments for privacy when the urgency of a terror attack comes into play. What's your take on the online privacy debate?Speaking as an American citizen nad not somebody who runs Homeland: It's what's happened since 9/11. How do we balance this equation, how do we keep ourselves safe without negating our civil liberties? It's a difficult question and one we try to deal with a dramatic way on Homeland. I don't know the answer. My personal feeling is to give the government the great power to examine all our phone calls and texts and emails is not a power that you want to give to the government. We can look at Edward Snowden as a hero or a traitor, but if there's one thing he's done is bring this conversation to the fore and it's a conversation that needed to be had.
With all your research on this subject over the years, has your perspective on terrorism shifted? I think it has. I certainly think season 4 was a reflection of that shift. Look at what Carrie was doing in season 4: She was ''The Drone Queen.'' We were engaged in was some form of extra-judicial killing in those tribal areas. And yes, we were degrading al-Qaeda and the Taliban, there's no question about it. But were we creating more terrorists than we were killing and operating outside the bounds of our moral obligation? It's an interesting question and just the other day [there was a news article about all] these drone pilots that came forward to say what we were doing was not as carefully conceived as it might have been and we were killing a lot of innocent people.
Does everything that's happened this year make you want to go a direction that's potentially less on-target with real-world headlines next season, or is there a desire to stay topical?Honestly, I have no idea. I just finished [season] 5 '... We just want to facilitate a conversation about dramatic ideas and tell a story about our heroine who is right smack in the middle of it all.
You've done an excellent job of that. Also, on a lighter topic, I can't remember the last time TV viewers were so stirred up for one corrupt character to get caught so badly as how they feel about Allison. If everybody could just rally around Miranda Otto, who delivered a performance this season that Homeland hasn't seen since Damian Lewis left the show. She literally took over episodes of the show like nobody we've seen since Damian. Her performance is so '... you literally cannot take your eyes off this character you hate her so much.
I was impressed that you knew exactly how wound up fans would be that you knew you could spend the bulk of an episode following her under surveillance. You knew we would be on the edge of our seats going, ''Get her, get her, get her.'' Well, there's more of that coming.
Speaking of, what can we expect in the season finale? I would say it's going to get exciting '... also, watching episode 11 this weekend, one of the things about it I'm particularly proud of [is] it does dramatize the fact that all Muslims in Europe are not speaking with one voice. There are a lot of different feelings about radical Islam, the refugee crisis, and what's happening in Europe right now. People are individuals and think for themselves and we make an effort to dramatize that in the last couple episodes.
You're not giving post-finale interviews [this year]. Should we be braced for something particularly dramatic? No, not at all. After five years, I just want the finale to speak for itself.
Hackers trace ISIS Twitter accounts back to internet addresses linked to UK Department of Work and Pensions - Mirror Online
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 17:37
Hackers have claimed that a number of Islamic State supporters' social media accounts are being run from internet addresses linked to the Department of Work and Pensions.
A group of four young computer experts who call themselves VandaSec have unearthed evidence indicating that at least three ISIS-supporting accounts can be traced back to the DWP's London offices.
Every computer and mobile phone logs onto the internet using an IP address, which is a type of identification number.
Update: British government admits it can't stop ISIS extremists using internet addresses
The hacking collective showed Mirror Online details of the IP addresses used by a trio of separate digital jihadis to access Twitter accounts, which were then used to carry out online recruitment and propaganda campaigns.
At first glance, the IP addresses seem to be based in Saudi Arabia, but upon further inspection using specialist tools they appeared to link back to the DWP.
Cyberwar: ISIS has been locked in battle with Anonymous hacktivists"Don't you think that's strange?" one of the hackers asked Mirror Online. "We traced these accounts back to London, the home of the British intelligence services."
Read more: Saudi Arabia forms 'Islamic Military Coalition' of 34 countries to end ISIS
VandaSec's work has sparked wild rumours suggesting someone inside the DWP is running ISIS-supporting accounts, or they were created by intelligence services as a honeypot to trap wannabe jihadis.
However, when Mirror Online traced the IP addresses obtained by VandaSec, we found they actually pointed to a series of unpublicised transactions between Britain and Saudi Arabia.
Read more: 'World War Three will be a cyber war and ISIS could win'
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We learned that the British government sold on a large number of IP addresses to two Saudi Arabian firms.
Read more: ISIS Encyclopedia of Terror: Who's behind it, what it's used for and how 'keyboard warriors' can become killers
After the sale completed in October of this year, they were used by extremists to spread their message of hate.
Jamie Turner, an expert from a firm called PCA Predict, discovered a record of the sale of IP addresses, and found a large number were transferred to Saudi Arabia in October of this year.
iJihad: Is the laptop as mighty as the sword?He told us it was likely the IP addresses could still be traced back to the DWP because records of the addresses had not yet been fully updated.
The Cabinet Office has now admitted to selling the IP addresses on to Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company earlier this year as part of a wider drive to get rid of a large number of the DWP's IP addresses.
It said the British government can have no control over how these addresses are used after the sale.
Read more : ISIS supporters call for Pluto to be renamed 'The Moon of Mohammed'
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "The government owns millions of unused IP addresses which we are selling to get a good return for hardworking taxpayers.
"We have sold a number of these addresses to telecoms companies both in the UK and internationally to allow their customers to connect to the internet.
"We think carefully about which companies we sell addresses to, but how their customers use this internet connection is beyond our control."
The government did not reveal how much money was made from selling the IP addresses to the pair of Saudi firms, because it regards this information as commercially sensitive.
Serial season two: is it just a trailer for the Bowe Bergdahl movie? | Television & radio | The Guardian
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 19:07
The podcast Serial is sharing research, interviews and sources with Page 1 Productions in examining Sgt Bowe Bergdahl's case in its second season. Photograph: AP
A little over two months ago, Sarah Koenig made an appearance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Questions about upcoming seasons of Serial inevitably came up. ''I really miss the days when nobody gave a crap what I was doing,'' New York magazine's Vulture reported Koenig as saying in reply. ''I wish I wasn't worrying that sources were going to call somebody and be like, 'Guess who I just talked to?' It'd be nice to just be like a troll in my basement again.''
So much for that. Thursday's launch of the second season of Serial, with Bowe Bergdahl, proved that Koenig may never be a basement troll again. The rollout was swift and smooth: just two hours after it launched, it was a trending topic on Twitter.
The New York Times and Vanity Fair had previews up instantly. This was quite different from last year, when Serial more slowly and steadily seared itself into public consciousness around the world.
There are a few reasons for that. The incredible success of the first season left everyone hungry for a second, so it's understandable they'd want to be more prepared to manage the hype. And Bergdahl's ongoing case is a major mainstream media story, so that explains the immediate interest. There is also a new factor in the equation: a Hollywood company called Page 1 Productions, run by the former journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal, is working with Koenig and her team. Boal won an Oscar for screenplay writing in 2008 for The Hurt Locker. One might argue that the media blitz surrounding Serial's second season feels more like publicity for a film than a work of journalism.
Boal's company is backed by Annapurna Pictures, a production company headed by Megan Ellison. Boal, Ellison and the director Kathryn Bigelow were also the chief movers and drivers behind Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 film about the capture of bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty came under fire in part because of questions about its veracity. Some questioned its portrayal of the events, given that Boal was granted access to tell the ''real story'' by the CIA. Glenn Greenwald, then a Guardian columnist, questioned the film's ''glorification of torture'' as the key to finding bin Laden.
Boal and Page 1 are also planning to make a movie out of Bergdahl's story, following much the same procedure Boal did for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, which raises a lot of questions about how closely journalism can '' or should '' ally itself with entertainment, especially considering that it was Boal who brought Koenig and her team the story. He interviewed Bergdahl for about 25 hours, over the phone and brought the tapes to Serial.
Screenwriter-turned-journalist Mark Boal. Photograph: Matt Sayles/APThis leaves us wondering: how much of a wall is there between the movie and Serial? Does Boal count as one of the ''journalists'' here? There are important questions to ask about the relationship of entertainment to hard reporting, particularly on cases like the ones Serial picks. These are cases which speak to large societal issues: violence against women, anti-Muslim bigotry, the call of duty and the price of desertion. The Guardian reached out to Serial with specific questions about the nature of the arrangement with Page 1, including whether Bergdahl is being compensated for his involvement, but they declined to comment.
In a blogpost Thursday morning, Koenig described the nature of the partnership between Serial and Page 1 thusly:
They'd come to us, saying, hey, we've been doing all this reporting on the story, and we've also got this tape, do you think you might want to listen? And yes, we did, and we were kind of blown away. And so we began working with him.
Of the reporting process, she wrote:
They shared research with us, and also put us in touch with many of their sources, especially soldiers. We don't have anything to do with their movie, but Mark and Page 1 are our partners for season 2. You might hear Mark and me talking from time to time over the course of the season, so we can compare notes.
To the New Yorker, both Boal and Koenig characterized the association as a tighter collaboration. His tapes with Bergdahl are the ''heart of the project'' but ''both groups have done extensive additional reporting, independently and together. They share editorial decisions''. And obviously, while the Serial team may not be dictating the terms of the screenplay, the projects are undeniably linked.
The film's marketing will, in part, depend on the plot having been ripped from the headlines. Serial's involvement with the reporting will help enhance that brand.
It's clever, actually, that it's being done this way around: audiences of the film will arrive with a sense that they already know ''the story'', because they learned all about it on Serial. The movie will be armed with the imprimatur of a trusted journalistic brand.
A user on Reddit may have been on to something (rare as that is for them) when they remarked on Thursday: ''Initial impression: longest trailer for a movie ever made.''
We first learned that Bergdahl would be the subject of the second season in September, in an article published on, of all earthly places, the lad-mag Maxim's website. The article was written by a journalist named Matthew Farrell. Farrell had once paired with investigative journalist Michael Hastings for Rolling Stone to write one of the first deeply reported stories about Bergdahl to appear in the press.
Farrell attributed his story on Serial's involvement with the Bergdahl case to ''anonymous sources''. But reading between the lines, it seemed that he had learned about Serial's involvement with the case from the people he had himself interviewed for his Bergdahl article, including members of Bergdahl's unit.
In fact, he interviewed them again for the Maxim article. One of them colourfully observed that ''Serial is trying to make a nifty diorama for hipsters to marvel at''. Both were disdainful of ''those looking to gain from Bergdahl's story''.
Farrell failed to mention in the piece that his Rolling Stone article had in fact also been optioned for movie rights, by Fox Searchlight, according to Variety. So arguably he would be counted as among those standing to gain from Bergdahl's story. (Fox Searchlight had not provided a comment as to the status of this project as of this morning.)
Or could have been, had Serial not appeared on the scene. When Bergdahl was released from captivity by the Taliban in May 2014, Page 1 began developing a project. To the New Yorker, Page 1 said it took them a couple of months to get to Bergdahl.
That was the last anyone heard about the Page 1-Bergdahl project until September, when Serial's involvement was revealed. At the time, they were testy about having so much attention focussed on their reporting process. ''We'd very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing,'' Serial's publicity manager Emily Condon said at the time. ''Especially since we're actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder. Doesn't feel very menschy.''
Condon may be right that it isn't ''menschy'' to be inquiring about the nature of their reporting. But given Serial's worldwide fame, and its prestige as a force in modern journalism '' last year, it won a Peabody award '' issues of transparency and objectivity aren't irrelevant. We still have to ask.
Elections 2016
What a great disservice was done by the candidates and CNN
No questions about WHY Syria. WHY we need to be there.
Wasn't this supposed to be the year of the Citizens United Super PAC?
If anything, Trump is working for the media companies ''How Trump Has Neutralized Super-PAC Cash - Bloomberg Politics
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 04:18
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, this was supposed to have been the year of the mighty super-PAC. Perceived widely as creatures of a distorted campaign finance system, the groups have jockeyed for the country's wealthiest set, with the promise of paving their candidate's path to the White House with big money.
Instead, they ran into Donald Trump.
After a year of fundraising and with just seven weeks until the first contest in Iowa, super-PACs have had little success influencing public opinion, baffling candidates and their donors alike. Trump's dominance in the polls and free media like TV appearances, combined with a field of more than a dozen candidates, has made it hard to stand out or even to pick a target to attack. Many candidates, wary of costly advertising campaigns that could burn through cash quickly, are now sitting on tens of millions of dollars, concerned that any spending would get lost in the noise.
"We're husbanding resources," said Kellyanne Conway, who handles polling and focus groups for super-PACs backing U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Spending now would likely have little impact because "voters feel like they have so many choices and so much time, and no pressure to be told what to do, how to think, or whom to coalesce around."
Senator Ted Cruz speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 8, 2015.
Photographer: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Super-PACs are at the heart of a transformation in American elections that has been spurred by a series of court rulings, including the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, which loosened decades-old limits on money in politics by declaring that political spending was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Thanks to those rulings, super-PACs can raise unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations, and can spend money directly on campaign advocacy, as long as they don't coordinate with a candidate.
In 2012, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were aided by such groups, but outside spending in this cycle has been expected to dramatically outpace previous elections. This year, the groups were being created even before their beneficiaries officially declared themselves to be candidates, and many top campaign advisers decamped to run affiliated super-PACs, showing they were considered key to the candidate's strategy.
Still, conventional wisdom about the dominance of super-PACs continues to be upended. In September, after many candidates had already spent months courting mega-donors, Rick Perry and Scott Walker dropped out of the race leaving millions of super-PAC dollars unspent and showing that an outside group couldn't simply step in for a financially troubled campaign. Meanwhile, Right to Rise, a super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush, has already spent about $45 million, only to see Bush's poll numbers stagnate. That's made many traditional Republican donors stay on the sidelines, concerned about the impact their money can have in an environment where not even Right to Rise's $103 million fundraising haul has been enough to lift a more pro-establishment candidate to the top of the pack.
One of the most significant forces, according to Conway, is the "immovable object of the past five-plus months named Donald J. Trump."
Ahead in most polls since July, Trump has been the most singularly disruptive force in the Republican race. And he's done it by spending next to nothing. Instead, Trump has dominated the news week after week, getting hours of free time on the airwaves, known as ''earned media'' in the industry.
"Paid ads can't overwhelm earned media. It never could," said one official with a super-PAC backing a Republican presidential candidate who wasn't authorized to speak on the record. "All of that stuff is a much louder microphone than anything we have, but in a very real sense the campaign is just starting now."
Donald Trump speaks with the media after the Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado, on Oct. 28, 2015.
Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg
Since the start of the year, Trump has been on the ABC, NBC or CBS evening news programs for a total of 234 minutes, according to the Tyndall Report, which studies the content of these programs. That's more than all other candidates combined. A 30-second national ad on the network news costs about $50,000, according to a media buyer who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the cost. That means Trump has gotten as much as $23.4 million in free media this year on those three programs alone.
In Des Moines, the largest media market in Iowa, a 30-second spot costs about $1,460 during the evening news. So while Jeb Bush's super-PAC has spent $1.2 million in that market, Trump's time has earned about $683,000 in free time there just by appearing on the evening news.
"There's really no precedent for the amount of free media that Trump is able to get," said Richard Skinner, who studies money in politics for the Sunlight Foundation. "In part just because he's a celebrity in a way we've really never seen before in a presidential candidate. His name ID is comparable to a sitting president. And this is his career. It's what he's been doing for the past several decades, which is generating lots and lots and lots of free media."
Trump's time on Fox News has dwarfed the competition. From May 1 through Dec. 10, he appeared for a total of 22 hours and 17 minutes, according to data compiled for Bloomberg by Media Matters for America, a liberal-leaning group in Washington. The candidate with the next biggest presence, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, clocked 9 hours and 50 minutes.
A 30-second spot on Fox News in the evening costs about $17,000 and increases to multiples of that during the network's highly rated prime time programs, according to a media buyer, who asked not to be named because he wasn't authorized to discuss the prices publicly. Using the conservative estimate, Trump's time on Fox has been worth about $45.5 million, more than the Bush super-PAC has bought in total.
Trump has also been mentioned 112,900 times on other cable this year, according to data compiled by the GDELT Project. That's about 41 percent of all mentions of Republican candidates, and roughly as many Bush, Christie, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio combined.
Trump's dominance in free media has made the paid attacks against him almost meaningless. His rivals watched as a $1 million-blitz against him from Club for Growth did little-to-no damage.
"If it's all Trump all the time and everyone's looking out the same pane of glass, and we're dancing off in a corner? Maybe no one will see us," said Conway. "Could we have broken through with a message or two on TV? The answer is I don't know."
The same has been true with social media. Since June 15, Trump has nearly doubled his Twitter following to 5.23 million. That's 564,000 more followers than his top eight competitors combined have picked up during that time. On Facebook, Trump has 4.67 million likes, compared to the 1.7 million that liked his page in June, according to Business Insider.
Jeb Bush speaks during a gathering of Wisconsin's school choice programs at La Casa de Esperanza in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Nov. 9, 2015.
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
The unexpected idling of super-PACs suggests to some operatives that March could prove particularly explosive on television in states that aren't normally targeted with presidential election ads. Already the most frenetic and consequential stretch in the party's five-month primary race with 33 contests in 31 days, Bush's super-PAC is the only one to have reserved air time in those states, according to media buyers from multiple campaigns. Right to Rise USA has reserved time in Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, with smaller buys planned for Virgina, Oklahoma and Idaho.
There have been some successes on TV. Conway credited an early blitz from John Kasich's super-PAC for helping the Ohio governor reach the main stage of the first debate. Also, paid ads from Conservative Solutions Project, a nonprofit group that doesn't have to disclose donors, probably aided the rise of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in the polls, Skinner said.
Some super-PACs are spending elsewhere, instead focusing on things like talk radio, direct mail and field staff. Conway's super-PAC, which recently mailed an 8-page tabloid style political promotion to 460,000 households in Iowa, has hired eight people in that state and 14 in South Carolina.
Just because super-PACs aren't spending freely, it doesn't mean they've stopped raising money. Groups continue to court mega-donors who can deliver of an operating budget in one gift. And others are soliciting small donations to support a cottage industry of political operatives rather than bolstering a campaign. American Legacy PAC raised almost $6 million in 2014 using Ben Carson's candidacy as the face for fighting Obama's health care law. Most of the money went to the group's own operations, with only about 2 percent going to Republican candidates or other committees, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.
Far from the trigger-happy behemoths imagined as the campaign first began to unfold this year, super-PACS instead have so far more closely resembled their increasingly nervous donors. As Trump appears impervious to paid attacks'--and is praised by voters for swearing off any help from similar groups'--super-PAC operatives have been stockpiling as they frantically search for the right target.
"Quick math tells you there's $150 million waiting to be spent," said a top official with second super-PAC backing a Republican presidential candidate, who requested anonymity to talk about strategy. "No one knows where or when the deluge begins. There is definitely a collective hesitancy."
Right to Rise USA, the super-PAC backing Bush that has spent upwards of $45 million'--more than the combined total of at least 10 other super-PACs backing specific presidential candidates, according to Federal Election Commission reports compiled by the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation'--has at least $65 million in its coffers. The group reported $97 million in its account as of June 30, and its spokesman, Paul Lindsay, told Bloomberg in October that the group had raised at least $10 million since then.
The quartet of super-PACS supporting U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who was the first candidate to get into the race eight months ago, have an estimated $38 million on hand.
Add to that at least $10 million from Conservative Solutions, the super-PAC backing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio that has spent little of the total it reported five months ago. The group is likely to have added to that total as Rubio has since won the support of Paul Singer and Ken Griffin, a pair of billionaire money managers in New York; former Romney national finance co-chairmen John Rakolta and Frank Vandersloot; and Art Pope, a former board member of Americans for Prosperity, the national conservative advocacy group backed by Charles and David Koch's political network.
''People expected spending to ramp up quicker, but this season has been unique so far,'' said Brendan Galvin, who has studied political spending for a decade at the Washington-based Campaign Finance Institute.
Poetin schoffeert Turken met obscene taal, prijst Donald Trump | Rusland | De Morgen
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:05
De ongewoon harde woorden van Poetin zullen de relaties tussen beide landen nog verder verslechteren. De Russische leider suggereert met zijn woorden dat Turkije met het neerhalen van de Su-24 bondgenoot Amerika een belangrijke dienst wilde bewijzen.
Poetin maakte de opmerking nadat hem was gevraagd of een ander land betrokken was geweest bij het neerschieten van het Russische vliegtuig. "We weten het nog niet", aldus de president. "Maar als iemand in de Turkse regering had besloten om de Amerikanen op een bepaalde plek te likken, dan betwijfel ik of ze juist hebben gehandeld", aldus de president.
Poetin noemde tijdens zijn jaarlijkse persconferentie het neerhalen van het toestel een vijandelijke daad". "De Turken dachten dat we op de vlucht zouden slaan", aldus Poetin. "Nee, Rusland is niet zo'n land. We hebben onze aanwezigheid in Syri uitgebreid. Er was geen Russisch luchtverdedigingssysteem daar. Nu hebben we er de S-400. Turkije heeft in het verleden vaak het Syrische luchtruim geschonden. Laten ze het nu opnieuw proberen."
Volgens de president is er "geen enkel vooruitzicht" op verbetering van de betrekkingen met Turkije. Sinds het neerhalen van de Su-24 in het Turkse luchtruim is de Russische relatie met Ankara aanzienlijk verslechterd.
Moskou heeft onder andere economische strafmaatregelen genomen tegen Turkije. Ook besloot Poetin een van Ruslands modernste luchtverdedigingssystemen, de S-400, naar Syri te sturen om een nieuwe Turkse actie tegen Russische gevechtsvliegtuigen te voorkomen.
Afgelopen zondag vuurde een fregat van de Russische marine waarschuwingsschoten richting een Turks vissersschip in de Ege¯sche Zee. Volgens de Russen was dat nodig omdat de schepen anders met elkaar in botsing zouden zijn gekomen.
Intelligente TrumpPoetin prees uitvoerig de Republikeinse presidentskandidaat Donald Trump. "Hij is een flamboyante man, intelligent en erg getalenteerd", zei hij over de Amerikaanse miljardair die nu aan kop gaat in de peilingen.
De president verwelkomde Trumps uitlatingen dat hij als president betere betrekkingen met Rusland wil. Poetin: "Hij zegt dat hij naar een ander niveau wil, naar diepere relaties. Waarom zouden we dat niet verwelkomen? Natuurlijk juichen we dat toe." Trump heeft in de afgelopen maanden de Russische annexatie van de Krim veroordeeld. Tegelijk benadrukte de Republikein dat hij, vanwege zijn achtergrond als ondernemer, goed zaken zou kunnen doen met de Russische leider.
Poetin erkende verder dat er Russen actief zijn geweest in Oekra¯ne. "We hebben nooit gezegd dat er geen mensen waren die zich bezig hebben gehouden met bepaalde militaire taken", zei hij. De president ontkende echter dat er "reguliere troepen" in het buurland zijn.
Het Russische staatshoofd zei dat zijn land bereid is de pro-Russische separatisten in de Oost-Oekra¯ense regio Donbass te overtuigen dat een politiek compromis nodig is om het conflict er politiek te regelen. Poetin verwachtte echter niet dat de betrekkingen met Oekra¯ne snel beter worden.
De handelsrelaties verslechteren volgens Poetin. Maar Rusland gaat geen economische sancties instellen tegen Oekra¯ne omdat Kiev een handelsverdrag met de EU heeft gesloten.
Norman Lear Vows to Fight Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Rhetoric - Hollywood Reporter
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:18
In an announcement that expresses Hollywood's deepening apprehension over Donald Trump and the state of national politics, Democratic elder statesman Norman Lear told the sold-out crowd at People for the American Way's annual Spirit of Liberty dinner Saturday night that the organization will launch a major issues-oriented effort tied to the 2016 election cycle.
''I'll let you in on a little secret,'' the organization's 93-year-old founder told the Beverly Wilshire audience. ''At a board meeting this very morning, People for the American Way decided to devote a major effort to the issue of hate speech and anti-Muslim rhetoric,'' both of which have become staples of the current Republican presidential race.
''I've never seen our country so confused, so removed from anything resembling an American dream, heading in a direction that scares the hell out of me,'' Lear said. ''Trust me in 93 years, one sees a lot.''
Long one of the entertainment industry's leading liberal activists, Lear recalled that he started People for the American Way because he was troubled in 1980 ''by what an ever-increasing group of evangelicals were spouting on television.''
''To earn their approval, you had to be the right kind of Christian and share their right-wing concerns,'' Lear said. ''Thirty-five years later, there are those who want to lead this country by openly calling for religious discrimination '-- for shutting down mosques, for closing our borders to desperate refugee families unless they are Christians."
''I haven't believed '-- and don't believe now '-- that the American people would elect Donald Trump president," added Lear. "I see Donald Trump only as the middle finger of the American right hand.''
The GOP's national frontrunner also was on the minds of the evening's two Spirit of Liberty Award winners '-- Golden Globe nominee Judd Apatow and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading economic populist who enjoys a strong following in liberal Hollywood.
''The racist, sexist hatred that Donald Trump spews is ugly,'' Warren said during her acceptance speech, ''but make no mistake, this is quickly becoming the Republican Party brand. When he called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and when he called women pigs, the other presidential candidates didn't call him out.''
She said that Trump is taking the GOP ''from the party of the rich and powerful to the party of fear and hatred.''
True to his comedic roots, Apatow turned a riff on the real estate magnate's rhetoric into a sort of dark stand-up routine.
''Doesn't Trump seem like the psycho girl on The Bachelor who you don't want to get kicked off too early?'' Apatow mused. ''You want to see what she might do? And later in the season, you're like 'enough of her let's get to the real contestants.' I feel like we're at that moment right now. It's been fun for a while, but now we want to move on."
The writer/director said he's been going through Trump's book, Think Big and read aloud a passage from a chapter titled, ''Revenge.''
Attempting Trump's accent, Apatow read: ''When other people see you don't take crap, that you're really going after someone for wronging you, they will respect you. Always have a good reason to go after someone. Do not do it without a good reason. When you are wronged, go after those people because it's a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. When you are in business, you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder. You do it not only to get the person who messes with you, but also to show the others who are watching what will happen to them if they mess with you. If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular. Attack them back in spades.''
''It's pretty bad,'' Apatow said. ''There's like 500 more pages like this'...''
''I urge you to pick it up so you can get the energy you need to fight this,'' he said.
To Those Fleeing President Trump: Welcome to Canada! - The New Yorker
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 19:53
Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY NANCY HOYT BELCHER / ALAMYWelcome to Canada! You threatened to leave America if Donald Trump was elected President'--and, true to your word, here you are. We're so happy to have you!
We'd like to extend an extra-special welcome to the ethnic, religious, and other groups that President Trump has deported from the United States: Muslims, Mexicans, black people, people who look like Muslims, ''Jews, who are just Muslims with smaller hats,'' Prius drivers, ''that one Asian guy,'' tweens, ''Jessica Alba, because maybe she's a Muslim. Who knows?,'' all women, and books.
Make yourselves at home. You're going to be here a while'--traversing that wall that President Trump built between America and Canada seems extremely treacherous. Although I'm no wall expert, just a simple Canuck immigration minister from Toronto, Ontario. Maybe Canadians really are, as President Trump has called us, ''murderers and upstairs Mexicans.'' Sorry!
We have so many amenities to offer. Please enjoy our free health care! Though we'll admit that President Trump's sweeping Obamacare revisions do sound awesome'--for just ten thousand dollars, you can pay a drone to come shoot your tumor? Amazing! We can't do that, but we can offer you all the usual vaccines. (President Trump, of course, has outlawed all vaccines, with the exception of ''hot-beef injections.'')
I promise we won't bother you. Canadians are very quiet. You might not even know we're there, unless you shine a bright flashlight on us. And don't be nervous if you see cops on horses; they're just for decoration. Not like in America, where President Trump, we hear, has passed a law allowing American police to arrest women for ''letting themselves go.'' That doesn't sound like a good law, does it? Sorry if it does!
In Canada, we don't allow murder. I forget, is it legal in Trump's America, or just smiled upon? Trump's Secretary of State is a gun with googly eyes, so I think it's probably legal? Either way, please, no murders here. Unless you really want to. We don't want to be bad hosts!
Feel free to tease your new Canadian brothers. We can laugh at ourselves! President Trump once called our maple leaf a ''gay oak leaf.'' He called French ''gay English.'' He called Canada ''gay France, which is saying something, because France itself is very gay.'' Also, President Trump once used American tax dollars to send five thousand pizzas to our Parliament Hill. In fact, eight per cent of your American taxes are now allotted for ''international pranks on huge haters.'' What a goof that guy is! Sorry for cursing just now.
Once you get settled in your new country, I think you'll find that Canada isn't the backwoods place you Americans sometimes make it out to be. We have many modern conveniences, like paint, and milk! We're so friendly, we barely need locks on our doors. The locks are mainly to prevent our neighbors from coming over and doing chores for us in the night. One time I left my door unlocked and a family of Ottawans redecorated my entire dining room in stylish mid-century-modern d(C)cor.
I think you'll find it's an easy transition, since we mostly speak the same language as you. Our slang is slightly different, though. In Canada, we call losers ''hosers.'' So, translated into Canadian, the new American sixty-nine-dollar bill would feature the motto ''No Fat Chicks or Hosers Allowed.''
We use the metric system, so there are a few conversions you should memorize, such as one pound equals 0.45 kilograms. Yup, we're into math here, which President Trump calls ''gay reading.''
Additionally, we have a beautiful national anthem. I'm not saying President Trump's ''Muslims Suck (Mexicans Blow)'' isn't catchy. I'm just saying ours has fewer ''f'' words and racial slurs in it. No offense to the composer'--I've been a huge fan of Toby Keith for some time now! Sorry!
Anyway, we are so excited you're here! If you need anything, don't hesitate to shout. Which, of course, in Canada means ''inquire at a reasonable, considerate volume before 10 P.M.'' And, if someone rings your doorbell and leaves five thousand bags of flaming excrement on your porch, don't worry. It's just the neighbors.
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Trump Campaign Rally Erupts In Chaos And Ugly Confrontation - BuzzFeed News
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 20:11
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
ID: 7582286
LAS VEGAS '-- Donald Trump's campaign rally had only been underway for a few minutes Monday night when the first angry eruption occurred.
The Republican frontrunner had invited a supporter up to the stage to recount how his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Midway though the story, a pair of protesters interrupted.
''That's why we need gun control!'' one called out from the sea of Trump die-hards in the Westgate Resort and Casino ballroom.
A zealous chorus of boos filled the room, while the two protesters brandished a homemade poster (''NO HATE. YOU'RE FIRED.'') and began shouting over the din. Demonstrations of this sort are fairly common in presidential campaigns, and the brigade of meaty security guards on duty had strategically positioned themselves throughout the crowd so as to be able to swiftly and discreetly remove any troublemakers.
But it quickly became clear Monday night that the protesters had no interest in a quiet extraction '-- nor, for that matter, did Trump.
By the time security swooped in, several amped-up Trump supporters had already encircled the protesters '-- booing, and chanting, and slowly closing in '-- while a crush of smartphone-wielding media scrambled to capture footage of the clash. The guards managed to remove one protester, but the other resisted, stiffening his limbs and screaming about the First Amendment as they tried to haul him toward the exits. When he toppled to the floor, a horde of rallygoers assembled to hurl insults and threats at him.
''Light the motherfucker on fire!'' one Trump supporter yelled.
Physical altercations between protesters, security, and the occasional tough-guy supporter have been a running theme in Trump's combative campaign this year '-- but Monday night was different. Reporters who regularly cover Trump said they had never seen anything like the fevered, frenzied mood that gripped the ballroom in Las Vegas.
With the candidate's ever darkening political style seeming to grow more perversely effective by the day, his grassroots opponents on the left are becoming more defiant and effective at causing trouble. Activists interrupted Trump at least half a dozen times at the event '-- and the longer the night wore on, the more crazed many in the crowd seemed to get.
One after another, protesters were forcibly dragged from the ballroom '-- limbs flailing, torsos twisting in resistance '-- while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence.
''Kick his ass!'' yelled one.
''Shoot him!'' shouted another.
When a white activist proclaimed ''Black lives matter!'' as she was being carted out of the building, a male Trump supporter leaned toward her and snapped, ''White lives matter.''
According to NBC News, someone at the Trump rally even yelled a German Nazi-era salute '-- ''Sieg heil!'' '-- while a protester was being removed from the event.
Trump, meanwhile, gleefully narrated the madness from his podium like a tabloid talk show host presiding over an on-camera brawl between guests '-- egging on the confrontation, whipping the audience into a frenzy, and basking in his fans' celebratory chants.
''Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!''
''This is what we should have been doing to the other side for the last seven years!'' Trump exclaimed during one of the scuffles with protesters.
At several points, Trump berated the reporters in the room for taking pictures of the clashes. ''They are terrible!'' Trump hissed of the press. ''The worst!'' Hundreds of riled-up Trump fans turned to face the press corps, and booed loudly.
But while Trump and his hardcore supporters seemed to be enjoying themselves, not everyone was thrilled by the night's unexpected turn toward mayhem. Families with young kids scampered toward the exits well before Trump wrapped up, and some elderly people had to leave in search of medical assistance.
Among those most put off by the display, though, were the recreational spectators who had stopped by simply to see Trump's famous performance in person.
''I just came for the spectacle,'' said Stephan Reilly, a left-leaning Las Vegas resident whose college-aged son had tagged along for kicks. ''This is the best show in town!''
But by the end of the night, neither of them were smiling much.
''I'm very alarmed,'' Reilly said.
''Gunslinger's gait'': a new cause of unilaterally reduced arm swing | The BMJ
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:59
Rui Araºjo, resident in neurology1,Joaquim J Ferreira, professor of neurology2,Angelo Antonini, professor of neurology3,Bastiaan R Bloem, professor of movement disorder neurology41Department of Neurology, Coimbra Hospital and University Centre, Coimbra, Portugal2Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal3Department for Parkinson's Disease, IRCCS San Camillo, Venice, Italy4Department of Neurology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the NetherlandsCorrespondence to: B R Bloem bas.bloem{at}radboudumc.nlAbstractObjective To postulate a new possible cause of a unilaterally reduced arm swing in addition to the known medical conditions such as shoulder pathology, Erb's palsy, stroke, and Parkinson's disease.
Methods Analysis of YouTube videos depicting the gait of highly ranked Russian officials.
Results We found a similar walking pattern in President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and three other highly ranked Russian officials, all presenting with a consistently reduced right arm swing in the absence of other overt neurological abnormalities.
Conclusions We propose that this new gait pattern, which we term ''gunslinger's gait,'' may result from a behavioural adaptation, possibly triggered by KGB or other forms of weapons training where trainees are taught to keep their right hand close to the chest while walking, allowing them to quickly draw a gun when faced with a foe. This should be included in the differential diagnosis of a unilaterally reduced arm swing.
IntroductionIf you ever find yourself in a neurology meeting and notice a group of individuals scrutinising the way people walk, they are likely to be movement disorder enthusiasts. Their passion to screen for abnormal walking patterns may extend to examining YouTube footage, where remarkable discoveries can be made.1 We were struck to find several consecutive YouTube recordings of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, manifesting a clearly reduced right-sided arm swing (video 1, segments 1 and 2). Putin's distinctive walk has been debated previously, and different theories emerged, ranging from Erb's palsy to intrauterine stroke.2 For movement disorders experts such as ourselves, the first, and admittedly biased, diagnosis that comes to mind is Parkinson's disease, in which an asymmetrically reduced arm swing is a distinct feature.3 In fact, it can be the earliest presenting sign of Parkinson's disease, as was demonstrated by video reviews of football games played by the legendary English midfielder Ray Kennedy.4 Original footage showed an asymmetrically reduced arm swing even when Kennedy played elite football; only later this proved to be the presenting sign of his Parkinson's disease.4
The topic of early ''preclinical'' Parkinson's disease is the subject of a lively debate.256 It is now clear that many symptoms and signs (such as constipation or reduced smell) can precede overt Parkinson's disease. This preclinical phase includes a reduced arm swing on one side. Indeed, an asymmetrically reduced arm swing can present in otherwise clinically intact subjects with a predisposition to later develop Parkinson's disease.7 Such observations raised a debate among us whether President Putin might possibly be in an early stage of Parkinson's disease, even in the absence of other obviously suggestive features.
However, further review of YouTube footage revealed an alternative and more likely explanation, which we present here as a new cause of a reduced arm swing during walking.
MethodsSearching for possible explanations, we encountered a training manual of the former Russian KGB.8 According to this manual, KGB operatives were instructed to keep their weapon in their right hand close to their chest and to move forward with one side, usually the left, presumably allowing subjects to draw the gun as quickly as possible when confronted with a foe. Indeed, under ''Chapter 2''Movement,'' the manual gives the following instruction: ''When moving, it is absolutely necessary to keep your weapon against the chest or in the right hand. Moving forward should be done with one side, usually the left, turned somewhat in the direction of movement.'' We wondered whether this could explain President Putin's gait, since he had received KGB training earlier in life.9 If this were true, then it would be reasonable to expect a similar gait ''abnormality'' in other Russian officials who might have received similar instruction during weapons training by the KGB or other military or intelligence agencies. We therefore performed a YouTube search for videos of other Russian officials, with surprising results.
ResultsAn asymmetrically reduced arm swing was identified in several highly ranked Russian officials, including the current prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, two former ministers of defence (Anatoly Serdyukov and Sergei Ivanov), and Anatoly Sidorov, a highly ranked military commander.
Case 1: Vladimir Putin (president of Russia)Video 1 (http://bcove.me/6dnnnqzp), segment 1 shows Putin walking with a virtually absent right arm swing along the red carpet in the Kremlin. Segment 2 confirms the consistency of this finding, several years earlier, making it unlikely that an intermittent problem (such as a painful shoulder) explained the arm swing reduction. Segment 3 shows Putin displaying his considerable judo skills, excluding marked paresis or a chronic orthopaedic problem as cause of the asymmetrically reduced arm swing (which is again clearly discernible in this video). A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is unlikely, because other video material (segments 4-6) show no evidence of tremor, handwriting is fast without evidence of micrographia, right hand movements are agile, and Putin has no difficulty lifting weights with both arms. He is also an excellent swimmer, with symmetrical arm movements (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/aug/06/vladimir-putin-butterfly-stroke). This movement pattern persisted unchanged over several years, which is inconsistent with a neurodegenerative disorder such as Parkinson's disease. The handwriting suggests that Putin is right handed (segment 4).
Case 2: Dmitry Medvedev (current prime minister)Medvedev has not received formal military training,10 but, when walking on the red carpet during his presidential inauguration, his right arm swing was markedly reduced (video 2 (http://bcove.me/k8xj9xvy), segment 1). In segment 2, Medvedev and Putin are walking side by side, both with a clearly reduced right arm swing. A commentary noted that Medvedev was ''trying to ape Putin's macho gait.''11 Medvedev's reduced arm swing is also clearly visible in segment 3, where Medvedev proposes Putin for president for the upcoming elections. Medvedev has no difficulty lifting weights with both arms, excluding a structural right arm problem (video 1, segment 6). Like Putin, Medvedev seems right handed (video 2, segment 4).
Case 3: Anatoly Serdyukov (minister of defence 2007-12)Video 3 (http://bcove.me/mtskr9uu), segment 1 shows Anatoly Serdyukov stepping out of a car and walking towards President Putin with a reduced right arm swing. Segment 2 unequivocally demonstrates Serdyukov's reduced right arm swing on a different occasion. A signing ceremony suggests that he too is right handed (segment 3). There is uncertainty whether Serdyukov received military training, although one source claims he was in the Soviet Army for at least one year.12 However, his position as minister of defence for five years does establish a clear link to the military apparatus in Russia.
Case 4: Sergei Ivanov (minister of defence 2001-07, present chief of the presidential administration of Russia)Video 4 (http://bcove.me/mpgxlem7), segment 1 shows Sergei Ivanov, at the time minister of defence and President Putin's friend and KGB colleague,13 displaying a markedly reduced right arm swing. Segment 2 again shows Ivanov walking with a reduced right arm swing. Segment 3 shows a third occasion where Ivanov walks alongside Putin and Medvedev with a reduced right arm swing. A signing ceremony suggests that Ivanov is right handed (segment 4).
Case 5: Anatoly Sidorov (current commander of the Western Military District)Video 5 (http://bcove.me/76icm8mq) shows Anatoly Sidorov walking with a reduced right arm swing. A photograph of him holding a pointer stick in the right hand suggests he is right handed (fig 1'‡').
DiscussionFive highly ranked Russian officials presented with an asymmetrical arm swing, which was always reduced on the right side and which was observed consistently during separate occasions in four cases. We considered several explanations. It is unlikely that the right arm swing reduction can be attributed to a strong preference for the left arm. Cases 1-4 readily sign documents with their right hand, and case 5 uses the right hand for gesturing, so all seem to be dextral. Putin's habit of wearing his watch on the right wrist has fuelled speculation regarding his hand dominance. However, Putin does this to prevent the winding mechanism sticking into his hand'--a downside to wearing big watches, which Putin prefers.14
We do not think that the reduced arm swing signals the presence of Parkinson's disease in these Russian officials. A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease requires, by definition, not only the presence of bradykinesia (this could be the reduced arm swing), but also the presence of rest tremor or rigidity, or both.15 None of the five Russian officials displayed any other evident motor signs suggestive of early parkinsonism. For example, Putin has otherwise excellent motor skills: his handwriting is fast, there is no micrographia or tremor, right hand movements are fast, he is a judo black belt and an excellent swimmer, and has no difficulty lifting weights. This contrasts markedly with, for example, Adolf Hitler, for whom videos and photos established a convincing case of Parkinson's disease, with not only a reduced use of one arm but also a progressive course of hypomimia, rest tremor, micrographia, stooped posture, hypokinesia, and shuffling gait.1617
We also consider it unlikely that the arm swing reduction reflects a preclinical stage of parkinsonism. This preclinical stage does not require presence of other motor signs, but is characterised by non-motor signs such as rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder or constipation.256 These could understandably not be retrieved from the videos. One might argue that these five men, who all seem to be right handed, would be prone to develop early parkinsonian symptoms on the right side, because the symptoms emerge more often on the dominant hand side.1819 However, the highly consistent presentation across five officials with a similar career profile argues against this possibility. Moreover, this movement pattern remained unchanged for years in all cases, whereas Parkinson's disease would more likely be associated with appearance of other motor features within the observed period.
Rather than interpret this gait pattern as pathological, we propose that it is a behavioural adaptation resulting from military or intelligence training. A supportive argument is the fact that trainees undergoing KGB training are taught to keep their right hand close to the chest even while walking, allowing them to quickly draw a gun when faced with a foe. It is conceivable that other forms of weaponry training are associated with a similar behavioural gait adaptation. Indeed, we found other examples of a reduced arm swing related to weaponry training: cowboys depicted in movies of the ''Wild West'' often have a reduced right arm swing. This motivated us to introduce the term ''gunslinger's gait'' to label this new gait phenotype.
To support this case, it is essential to link the Russian officials to KGB membership, or at least to other forms of weaponry training. Both Putin and Ivanov were KGB officials, but this is not the case for Medvedev, Serdyukov, and Sidorov. However, Sidorov is a current member of the Russian military, so he has clear links to the military apparatus. Serdyukov served in the Soviet Army for at least one year, but there is no evidence for additional military training. However, he was minister of defence for five years, so he too has clear links to the military apparatus in Russia. The case is weakest for Medvedev, who does not have unequivocal links to any military or intelligence agency. However, one reason why he might display gunslinger's gait is the ''imitate the boss'' phenomenon: substantial evidence suggests that Medvedev is being coached to sound, look, and, importantly, walk like the president.202122 The similarities between Putin and Medvedev, particularly in terms of gait, have been acknowledged before.23 One article commented on Medvedev's gait during the Russian presidential election in 2008: ''When the result was announced Putin and Medvedev walked out together onto Red Square in leather jackets and jeans, Medvedev trying to ape Putin's macho gait'' (video 2, segment 2).11 It is thus conceivable that Medvedev's reduced arm swing is also a behavioural adaptation. Similar mechanisms may be at play for other Russian officials, who are known to adapt mannerisms from their superiors (''It is nothing new in Russia to imitate the boss'').22 Indeed, many top level bureaucrats and members of the United Russia party have taken up the habit of wearing their watch on the right side, as Putin does, to show their allegiance.24
This imitation phenomenon has parallels in the field of neurology, in cases of hyperekplexia. Specifically, gene-negative relatives of affected individuals (that is, those with the minor form of hyperekplexia) can display the exaggerated startle reflexes seen in the genetically affected individuals with the major form of hyperekplexia. This minor form of hyperekplexia could represent a learnt (behaviourally adapted) startle reflex in subjects who are subjected regularly to family members with organic startle attacks.25 Once adopted, such behavioural changes can persist for long periods and even become permanent. Certainly, long term effects of repeated physical training and acquisition of particular walking patterns, such as in ballet dancers or soldiers, can occur.2122 Additional evidence comes from patients with psychogenic movement disorders; their movement abnormalities also represent a behavioural adaptation, and the longer these persist, the more chronic and persistent they become.23
It is perhaps no surprise that our discovery was based largely on video coverage of major events in Russia, where Putin and other officials marched long distances along red carpets, creating perfect conditions for gait examination. We always tell our neurology residents that one cannot adequately assess gait (and especially arm swing) in the limited confines of the consulting room and urge them to take their patients out into the corridor. The video clips presented here exemplify this well.
We conclude that unawareness of weaponry training might lead clinicians to misdiagnose healthy individuals as having a pathological gait, perhaps even parkinsonian. We recommend that neurologists, in particular those working in Russia, include ''gunslinger's gait'' in their differential diagnosis of an asymmetrically reduced arm swing, along with other known causes such as Parkinson's disease and shoulder pathology.
FootnotesProfessor Niall Quinn first identified the absent arm swing in case 1 and helped revise earlier versions of the manuscript. We thank Mr Michel Verbruggen for his expert assistance in editing the videos.
Contributors: RA identified most of the videos and drafted the first version of the manuscript. JJF commented on earlier versions of the manuscript. AA discussed cases 1-5 with neurologists in Russia and commented on later versions of the manuscript. BRB took the initiative for this manuscript, offered substantial input to all versions of the manuscript, and is the guarantor of the article.
Funding: BRB was supported by a research grant of the National Parkinson Foundation.
Competing interests: BRB has received honoraria for serving on the scientific advisory board for Zambon and Danone, and received research support and grants from the National Parkinson Foundation, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Michael J Fox Foundation, Prinses Beatrix Spierfonds, Stichting Parkinson Fonds, and Alkemade-Keuls Fonds. AA has received compensation for consultancy and speaker related activities from UCB, Boston Scientific, Boehringer Ingelheim, AbbVie, and Zambon; received research support from Mundipharma, Neureca Foundation, Italian Ministry research grants (RF-2009-1530177 and RF-2010-2319551), and Horizon 2020 Program grant (No 643706); and serves as consultant for Boehringer-Ingelheim for legal cases on pathological gambling.
Transparency: BRB, the guarantor, affirms that the manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account and that no important aspects have been omitted.
This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
References'†µ'†µ'†µBloem BR, Bhatia KPet al. Gait and balance in basal ganglia disorders. In: Bronstein AM, Brandt T, Nutt JG, Woollacott MH, eds. Clinical disorders of balance, posture and gait.2nd ed. Arnold, 2004: 173-206.
'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µDolmatov AI. KGB Alpha Team training manual: how the soviets trained for personal combat, assassination, and subversion.Paladin Press, 1993.
'†µGessen M. The man without a face; the unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin.Blue River Books, 2012.
'†µ'†µRoxburgh A. The strongman: Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia.IB Tauris, 2013.
'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µBlomfield A. Medvedev coached to be more like Putin. Telegraph 2008 Feb 29.
'†µParfitt T. Spin doctors reinvent the 'Nano-President'. Observer 2008 Mar 2.
'†µMereu F. Medvedev taking words from Putin's mouth. Moscow Times 2008 Feb 27.
'†µKolesnikov A. Vladimir Putin toppled himself. Kommersant 2008 Aug 5.
'†µOsborn A. Vladimir Putin hands over watch to cheeky metalworker. Telegraph 2009 Sep 15.
Poetin heeft geen parkinson, maar een 'KGB-loopje' | NOS
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:58
De Russische president Poetin en een aantal andere hooggeplaatste Russen, onder wie premier Medvedev, hebben een afwijkend loopje. Dat ontdekte neuroloog Bas Bloem van het Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum in Nijmegen, met een aantal internationale collega's.
Het looppatroon van de Russen kenmerkt zich doordat ze met hun rechterarm minder bewegen dan met hun linkerarm, zagen Bloem en zijn collega's na het bekijken van een aantal YouTube-video's. Uit ander onderzoek blijkt dat een verminderde armzwaai een eerste teken kan zijn van de ziekte van Parkinson.
De resultaten van het onderzoek zijn vandaag gepubliceerd in de kersteditie van het British Medical Journal. In deze editie staan onderzoeken met een humoristische ondertoon, maar toch een serieuze achtergrond.
Het lijkt de onderzoekers onwaarschijnlijk dat alle hooggeplaatste Russen die ze hebben bestudeerd aan parkinson lijden. Daarvoor zijn op de videobeelden geen aanwijzingen gevonden en dat kon helemaal worden uitgesloten toen ze een oude KGB-handleiding vonden.
Hierin staat dat officieren hun rechterhand dicht bij hun pistool moeten houden, zodat ze die snel kunnen trekken als de vijand in de buurt komt. Poetin, de voormalige ministers Serdjoekov en Ivanov van Defensie en de hooggeplaatste militair Sidorov hebben allemaal een KGB-training gehad, wat hun verminderde armzwaai verklaart. Medvedev heeft echter geen KGB-training gehad. Bloem denkt dat hij het loopje dan ook heeft overgenomen van Poetin.
Niet alleen de Russen hebben een verminderde armzwaai. Na een uitgebreidere zoektocht zagen de onderzoekers dat John Wayne en andere beroemde cowboys uit klassieke wildwestfilms ook minder met hun arm zwaaien tijdens het lopen.
Bloem raadt zijn Russische collega's aan het 'KGB-loopje' niet te verwarren met de eerste tekenen van parkinson, en eerst een mogelijk KGB-verleden te gebruiken als verklaring voor een verminderde armzwaai.
Stolen Dutch Art Shows Up in Ukraine, but Getting It Back Isn't Easy - NYTimes.com
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 23:46
HOORN, The Netherlands '-- On a wintry night in January 2005, an art thief slipped into the Westfries Museum here, the authorities believe, and hid beneath drapery on a 17th-century coffin as the doors were locked for the night.
After disabling the alarm system, the theory goes, the thief allowed at least one collaborator into the small museum, which houses works from the Dutch Golden Age. When the Westfries opened the next morning, 24 paintings worth a total of about 1.3 million euros, about $1.44 million, along with 70 pieces of antique silver, were gone, leaving only frames hanging on the gallery walls.
For a decade, the whereabouts of the stolen works remained a mystery, and the assumption was that they had disappeared into the murky world of international art theft.
Then, this summer, representatives of an ultranationalist militia in Ukraine contacted the Dutch Embassy in Kiev, saying the group had discovered the art in a villa near Donetsk that had belonged to the government of the deposed president Viktor F. Yanukovych and was prepared to return it.
Ad Geerdink, the director of the Westfries Museum, says he fears the paintings will be sold on the black market before the museum can recover them.
Olaf Kraak / Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images
''They said that as a good gesture, we want to hand over the paintings,'' Ad Geerdink, the director of the Westfries Museum, which went public with the case last week in an effort to recover the works before they could be sold on the black market, said on Saturday, ''but since we risked our lives to save the paintings, we expect something in return. And that something, of course, was money.''
The museum hired Arthur Brand, a Dutch art crime investigator, to go to Ukraine to negotiate with the militia, the Battalion of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. ''I told them to be careful,'' Mr. Brand said in a telephone interview on Monday, ''because, although they said they would be willing to give the work back, they were talking about a finder's fee, and they had estimated that the work was worth '‚¬50 million. I guessed already that they'd ask for 10 percent.''
On Aug. 7, Mr. Brand said, he and representatives from the Dutch Embassy met with Borys Humeniuk, the deputy commander of the battalion, in Kiev and presented him with documentation that estimated the value of the works at '‚¬500,000, on the assumption that they were now in bad condition after almost a decade on the black market, and offered him a fee of '‚¬50,000.
After hearing that offer, Mr. Humeniuk no longer seemed so willing to return the paintings and the silver, he said.
''Borys repeated two times, 'My soldiers will not accept this' and he said, 'the people who sent me will not accept '‚¬50,000,''' Mr. Brand said. ''Then the meeting was over and he said, 'I will do my best to negotiate with my people.' Then we waited.''
In early September, the Westfries Museum officials contacted the Ukrainian authorities, Mr. Geerdink said. Months passed without any progress in the case, he said.
During that time, Mr. Brand said, he received information that the art was being offered for sale to other parties.
''We hear from our informants that they first offered to other groups 24 paintings, and then we heard about 16, and then we heard about 12,'' he said. ''That was a strong indication that they were succeeding in selling at least some of the paintings. That was a strong motivation for us to go to the press.''
Mr. Geerdink said: ''We felt it was now or never. If we don't act, the work will be sold and we'll never get it back.''
''We want potential buyers to know that it's stolen art,'' he added, ''and we want to motivate the Ukrainian officials, because they say they will do something, but they never tell us what they do.''
The stolen works are by relatively unknown Dutch Golden Age painters, including Jan van Goyen, Jan Linsen and Jacob Waben. ''When you look at it from an international or national perspective, the paintings weren't Rembrandts, Jan Steen or Vermeer; they were the category below,'' Mr. Geerdink said. ''When you look at it on a regional or local scale, they're invaluable, because there aren't similar paintings. These are landscapes or cityscapes and marine paintings that are so important for the story that we as a museum tell about the Golden Age of this area.''
The money to recover the paintings was to be provided by the municipality of Hoorn, since the Westfries museum itself has an annual operating budget of just '‚¬180,000 and an annual acquisitions budget of '‚¬11,000.
Museum officials and investigators involved in the case said that the works were probably not stolen by Ukrainians '-- the best guess at this point is that Dutch thieves were involved '-- and that they have probably changed hands a number of times in the past decade.
How they ended up in Ukraine is a matter of conjecture. Mr. Geerdink said the first indication that they might be there surfaced in 2014, when a Dutch police detective discovered a color image of one of the missing art works, ''Rebecca and Eliezer,'' by Linsen, on a Ukrainian website.
In response to the Westfries' effort to publicize the case, the Ukrainian national police chief, Khatia Dekanoidze, said she was waiting for an official request from the Dutch prosecutor general's office to begin to coordinate an investigation.
''Our doors are open, we're transparent and I hope that any kind of delegation from the state of Netherlands can arrive here,'' she said in a videotaped statement on Friday.
Olexander Horin, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Netherlands, criticized the museum and the Dutch authorities for meeting with Mr. Humeniuk without first contacting Ukrainian authorities.
''We consider these talks, frankly speaking, inappropriate,'' he said in a telephone interview on Monday. ''This is a very sensitive issue and if you choose to go ahead and do this yourself, you have to bear the responsibility for the result. It's like a kidnapping case, when the goals of the investigators and the parents are completely different.''
At this point, Mr. Horin said, the Ukrainian government is taking several steps, ''first to locate the paintings, second to apprehend them, if these are the paintings they're looking for, and the third and next step is the transfer of these paintings to the Dutch parties.''
Ahmed Dadou, press secretary to the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Bert Koenders, said on Monday in a telephone interview: ''We are in close contact with the Ukrainians on the proceedings in this case, and the Ukrainians have assured us that they would investigate the case.''
In the meantime, the Westfries Museum has re-hung many of the empty frames of the paintings in the museum's upstairs galleries.
''Our fear is that maybe at this moment some of the paintings have already been sold,'' Mr. Geerdink said. ''We hung up the empty frames in the museum as a sign of protest and also as a sign of hope that within a year we'll be able to recover them.''
BOMBSHELL: Aussie Police, Dutch Prosecutors Break with Dutch Gov't Over MH17 Crash
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 20:48
This article originally appeared at Dances With Bears
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Dutch police and prosecutors investigating the cause of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 believe the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has failed to provide ''conclusive evidence'' of what type of munition destroyed the aircraft, causing the deaths of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
Testifying for the first time in an international court, Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghue, the senior Australian policeman in the international MH17 investigation, said a ''tougher standard than the DSB report'' is required before the criminal investigation can identify the weapon which brought the aircraft down, or pinpoint the perpetrators.
Their criminal investigation will continue into 2016, Donoghue told the Victorian Coroners Court (lead image) on Tuesday morning.
He and other international investigators are unconvinced by reports from the US and Ukrainian governments, and by the DSB, of a Buk missile firing.
''Dutch prosecutors require conclusive evidence on other types of missile,'' Donoghue said, intimating that ''initial information that the aircraft was shot down by a [Buk] surface to air missile'' did not meet the Australian or international standard of evidence.
The Coroners Court in Melbourne is the first in the world to hold an inquest into the MH17 crash on July 17, 2014, and the cause of death of those on board. Iain West (above), the deputy state coroner presided, after the state coroner, Judge Ian Gray, withdrew at the last minute.
The inquest opened for a single hour of hearing on Tuesday. A second hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, when West will announce his findings.
In the UK, where an investigation into the death of 10 British nationals, is being supervised by Leicestershire coroner, Catherine Mason, all court proceedings have been suspended without a date being set for inquest.
It was reported in the Melbourne court that British post-mortem experts participated in the Dutch investigations, alongside Australian, Dutch, and German teams, plus a joint Indonesian-Malaysian group.
In the Melbourne courtroom press reporters outnumbered representatives of the families of several of the victims. Of the 28 Australian citizens killed, 11 were from Victoria state; 10 were permanent residents of Australia; and 3 had close ties to Australia.
A local newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch reported from the courtroom ''the Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysia Airlines flight'... was hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine''. In fact, Donoghue of the AFP said this was an unverified claim by the DSB for ''a missile of a type previously provided to Ukraine.''
In court, in addition to members of the Coroner's staff, there was one government intelligence agent who kept his official identification tag inside his coat, and refused to say whether he was an Australian or American national.
Donoghue (below, left) was the lead witness. He continues to direct a team of 22 Australian police, forensic specialists and intelligent agents stationed in The Netherlands and Ukraine. He was followed by Dr David Ranson (right), a Victorian pathologist who led a team of 4; they worked at the Dutch military base at Hilversum in July and August of 2014, after the bodies of the MH17 victims were taken there for identification and forensic analysis.
Donoghue said a full report by the AFP had been included in the coroner's evidence. Ranson has filed two reports with the coroner '' one of August 25, 2014, and one on December 16, 2014. So far the Coroner has classified these documents as secret. For details, read this.
Testifying on oath, Donoghue revealed for the first time that the Australian government had quietly negotiated two agreements to investigate the crash site in eastern Ukraine. The first, he said, was with the Ukrainian government in Kiev for security around the crash site. The second was with Novorussian leaders in order for the Australians to carry out their searches for victims' bodies, personal property and other evidence, as well as to run a command post in Donetsk city. Political recognition by the Australians of the separatists has never been acknowledged before. Donoghue refused to say who signed the agreement for the Novorussians.
For the first time also, Donoghue acknowledged publicly that the international investigators had had ''no ability to collect aircraft parts or other debris''. It was not until May 2015, he added, that forensic examination of the aircraft began.
The recovered aircraft wreckage was first photographed and registered in The Netherlands by the DSB. Image-1 shows the first DSB photograph, with a single hole visible. Image-2 shows that a new photograph published by DSB reveals a second hole. See here.
In his testimony Donoghue said that ten months after the crash, and after Kiev officials had handed over less than half the fuselage fragments to the Dutch, the discovery was made of ''some fragments not consistent with debris of the aircraft''. Had he found shrapnel from an explosive device, missile or cannon? Donoghue refused to answer. The deaths of the passengers, he testified, had been caused by ''inflight breakup [of the aircraft] and immediate decompression'', not by munitions. The lack of shrapnel as evidence of cause of death is analysed here.
Australian police calls for Ukrainian witnesses on the ground, who may have seen or heard what happened on the fateful day, were issued in March 2015, and then again in June. Some of those who came forward to testify refused to do so, Donoghue said Tuesday, unless the Australian and Dutch police protected them in ''a safe location''; excluded Ukrainian government officials; and kept the identities of the witnesses secret.
Asked whether there had been any evidence of disrespect towards the victims' bodies on the ground '' as has been claimed in reporting by the Murdoch media '' Donoghue testified: ''there was no evidence of disrespect towards the bodies.''
Ranson, who is an associate professor of forensic pathology and deputy director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, told the court he and his team had spent two and half weeks studying the victims' bodies at Hilversum. There, he confirmed, X-rays and CT scans were carried out and more than 700 autopsies. He testified that when the Australian victims' bodies were repatriated to the morgue at the Coroners Court, another CT scan was taken of each body, and matched against the scan taken at Hilversum. Ranson's reports ruling out the presence of shrapnel from a missile strike in any of the MH17 bodies have been kept secret to date.
On oath, Ranson told Coroner West the deaths of the passengers had been caused by the aircraft breaking up. He dismissed the possibility that an oxygen mask found on a body on the ground had been worn by the victim. There was no DNA evidence to support that, and little likelihood, Ranson said, that the high-speed airflow through the aircraft at decompression would have left oxygen masks on the victims, if they had time to put them on. Death came too fast, Ranson believes.
The court heard that the survivors of the crash victims have been regularly briefed and counselled by Australian Government officials. They have also been coached not to answer press questions, although one admitted his family had been allowed to meet lawyers. Three statements were given in evidence at the inquest by representatives of the victims. One from members of the Van Den Hende family '' Shaliza Dewal, her husband Hans Van Den Hende and their three children Piers, 15, Marnix, 12, and daughter Margaux, 8, were killed '' said media reports of the crash were unreliable and unconvincing: ''we are unsure who or what to believe.''
Vertrek Assad uit Syri niet langer noodzaak voor VS - Burgeroorlog in Syri - TROUW
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 21:51
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Poetin schoffeert Turken met obscene taal, prijst Donald Trump | Rusland | De Morgen
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:05
De ongewoon harde woorden van Poetin zullen de relaties tussen beide landen nog verder verslechteren. De Russische leider suggereert met zijn woorden dat Turkije met het neerhalen van de Su-24 bondgenoot Amerika een belangrijke dienst wilde bewijzen.
Poetin maakte de opmerking nadat hem was gevraagd of een ander land betrokken was geweest bij het neerschieten van het Russische vliegtuig. "We weten het nog niet", aldus de president. "Maar als iemand in de Turkse regering had besloten om de Amerikanen op een bepaalde plek te likken, dan betwijfel ik of ze juist hebben gehandeld", aldus de president.
Poetin noemde tijdens zijn jaarlijkse persconferentie het neerhalen van het toestel een vijandelijke daad". "De Turken dachten dat we op de vlucht zouden slaan", aldus Poetin. "Nee, Rusland is niet zo'n land. We hebben onze aanwezigheid in Syri uitgebreid. Er was geen Russisch luchtverdedigingssysteem daar. Nu hebben we er de S-400. Turkije heeft in het verleden vaak het Syrische luchtruim geschonden. Laten ze het nu opnieuw proberen."
Volgens de president is er "geen enkel vooruitzicht" op verbetering van de betrekkingen met Turkije. Sinds het neerhalen van de Su-24 in het Turkse luchtruim is de Russische relatie met Ankara aanzienlijk verslechterd.
Moskou heeft onder andere economische strafmaatregelen genomen tegen Turkije. Ook besloot Poetin een van Ruslands modernste luchtverdedigingssystemen, de S-400, naar Syri te sturen om een nieuwe Turkse actie tegen Russische gevechtsvliegtuigen te voorkomen.
Afgelopen zondag vuurde een fregat van de Russische marine waarschuwingsschoten richting een Turks vissersschip in de Ege¯sche Zee. Volgens de Russen was dat nodig omdat de schepen anders met elkaar in botsing zouden zijn gekomen.
Intelligente TrumpPoetin prees uitvoerig de Republikeinse presidentskandidaat Donald Trump. "Hij is een flamboyante man, intelligent en erg getalenteerd", zei hij over de Amerikaanse miljardair die nu aan kop gaat in de peilingen.
De president verwelkomde Trumps uitlatingen dat hij als president betere betrekkingen met Rusland wil. Poetin: "Hij zegt dat hij naar een ander niveau wil, naar diepere relaties. Waarom zouden we dat niet verwelkomen? Natuurlijk juichen we dat toe." Trump heeft in de afgelopen maanden de Russische annexatie van de Krim veroordeeld. Tegelijk benadrukte de Republikein dat hij, vanwege zijn achtergrond als ondernemer, goed zaken zou kunnen doen met de Russische leider.
Poetin erkende verder dat er Russen actief zijn geweest in Oekra¯ne. "We hebben nooit gezegd dat er geen mensen waren die zich bezig hebben gehouden met bepaalde militaire taken", zei hij. De president ontkende echter dat er "reguliere troepen" in het buurland zijn.
Het Russische staatshoofd zei dat zijn land bereid is de pro-Russische separatisten in de Oost-Oekra¯ense regio Donbass te overtuigen dat een politiek compromis nodig is om het conflict er politiek te regelen. Poetin verwachtte echter niet dat de betrekkingen met Oekra¯ne snel beter worden.
De handelsrelaties verslechteren volgens Poetin. Maar Rusland gaat geen economische sancties instellen tegen Oekra¯ne omdat Kiev een handelsverdrag met de EU heeft gesloten.
Secret US Policy Blocks Agents From Looking at Social Media of Visa Applicants, Former Official Says - ABC News
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 20:43
The State Department today said that ''obviously things went wrong'' in the visa background check for one of the San Bernardino shooters -- comments that came in the wake of an ABC News report that said officials by policy generally do not check social media postings of applicants due to civil liberties concerns and therefore would not have seen purported evidence of Tashfeen Malik's radicalization online.
''It's difficult to say exactly what [went wrong] and how, but for an individual to be able to come into this country '' one who the FBI has maintained had terrorist tendencies or affiliations or sympathies at least for a couple years, and then to propagate an attack like that on our own soil, obviously, I think it's safe to say there's going to be lessons learned here,'' State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
Fearing a civil liberties backlash and "bad public relations" for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end the secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, according to a former senior department official.
"During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process," John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis. Cohen is now a national security consultant for ABC News.
One current and one former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen's account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants.
A spokesperson for the DHS, Marsha Catron, told ABC News that months after Cohen left, in the fall of 2014, the Department began three pilot programs to include social media in vetting, but current officials say that it is still not a widespread policy. A review of the broader policy is already underway, the DHS said.
The revelation comes as members of Congress question why U.S. officials failed to review the social media posts of San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik. She received a U.S. visa in May 2014, despite what the FBI said were extensive social media messages about jihad and martyrdom.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., demanded Sunday that the U.S. immediately initiate a program that would check the social media sites of those admitted on visas."
"Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik," the senator said, "maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive."
Former DHS under-secretary Cohen said he and others pressed hard for just such a policy change in 2014 that would allow a review of publicly-posted social media messages as terror group followers increasingly used Twitter and Facebook to show their allegiance to a variety of jihadist groups.
Cohen said officials from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) both pressed for a change in policy.
"Immigration, security, law enforcement officials recognized at the time that it was important to more extensively review public social media postings because they offered potential insights into whether somebody was an extremist or potentially connected to a terrorist organization or a supporter of the movement," said Cohen, who left DHS in June 2014.
Cohen said the issue reached a head at a heated 2014 meeting chaired by Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, other top deputies and representatives of the DHS Office of Civil Liberties and the Office of Privacy.
"The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing," Cohen said in an interview broadcast on "Good Morning America" today.
Cohen said he and others were deeply disappointed that the senior leadership would not approve a review of what were publicly-posted online messages.
"There is no excuse for not using every resource at our disposal to fully vet individuals before they come to the United States," Cohen said.
A former senior counter-terrorism official, who participated in the 2014 discussion, said, "Why the State Department and Homeland Security Department have not leveraged the power of social media is beyond me."
"They felt looking at public postings [of foreign U.S. visa applicants] was an invasion of their privacy," the official told ABC News. "The arguments being made were, and are still, in bad faith."
Cohen said the disclosures by Edward Snowden about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance policies fed concern of bad public relations that would affect the U.S. government's standing with civil rights groups and European allies.
"It was primarily a question of optics," said Cohen. "There were concerns from a privacy and civil liberties perspective that while this was not illegal, that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly."
Cohen said he and others were deeply troubled by the decision.
"If we don't look and don't review, we don't know," he said.
Officials said that because Malik used a pseudonym in her online messages, it is not clear that her support for terror groups would have become known even if the U.S. conducted a full review of her online traffic.
DHS's Catron told ABC News the Department is "actively considering additional ways to incorporate the use of social media review in its various vetting programs," while keeping an eye on privacy concerns.
"The Department will continue to ensure that any use of social media in its vetting program is consistent with current law and appropriately takes into account civil rights and civil liberties and privacy protections," Catron said.
State Department records show that in 2014 the U.S. government issued nearly 10 million nonimmigrant visas, over 40,000 of which were K-1 fianc(C) visas like the one Malik used to enter the country.
San Bernardino
San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik could be cremated in practice forbidden by Islam | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 13:58
The body of San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik may be cremated - a practice strictly forbidden by Islamic law - because nobody wants to claim it, it has been reported.
Malik's body and that of her husband Syed Farook is still being held at the San Bernardino County morgue more than a week after the pair were shot dead by police.
But while Farook's remains are expected to be released to his immediate relatives in California soon, nobody has stepped forward to take care of Malik's body, Fox News reports.
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The body of terror killer Tashfeen Malik, the wife of fellow gunman Syed Farook, could be cremated within a month because nobody is willing to take responsibility for her remains, it has been claimed
Malik, who came to the U.S. with Farook in 2014 on a fiance visa after meeting Farook in Saudi Arabia, has no relatives in America.
While her family in Saudi has been contacted, Fox News reports that nobody has stepped forward to handle her funeral, while a Washington embassy spokesman said the Saudi government will take no responsibility for her either.
Malik is not known to have worshiped at mosques close to her former home in Redlands, and was not active with other local Islamic groups, who would typically have stepped forward to offer a burial.
Malik came to the U.S. with Farook on a fiance visa
Fox claims to have spoken with an unnamed source in the Muslim community, who said: 'No one wants to claim her and no one wants to do the funeral.
'They are all waiting for someone else to be the one to take care of this part of it.'
If Malik's body is still unclaimed in a month's time, then officials will cremate it at the taxpayer's expense, in accordance with state law.
Cremation is typically preferred for unclaimed bodies as it is the cheapest form of burial. However the practice is forbidden in even the most moderate forms of Islam.
Even the most reviled killers are usually buried in keeping with Muslim traditions - including Colonel Gaddafi, who was shot dead by Libyan rebels in 2011 but was still given an Islamic funeral.
Navy SEALs who shot Osama Bin Laden in the same year stressed that his body was washed and wrapped in sheets as Islamic law dictates before his remains were buried at sea.
However, attorney Troy Slaten said that San Bernardino county officials will not grant the same privilege to Malik if her body remains unclaimed.
He said: 'If nobody claims a body, it is turned over to the public administrator, who will handle it civilly and not religiously.'
Another attorney, David Wohl, added: 'The state is not going to care about religious tradition. She was a terrorist.'
Technically Malik and Farook's burials have already breached the strictest interpretation of sharia law, which states that they must be buried as soon as possible after death - usually taken to mean within 24 hours.
The bodies of Colonel Gaddafi (left) and Osama bin Laden (right) were disposed of in keeping with Islamic tradition
In the case of a violent or suspicious death, however, it is usually acceptable to breach this tradition to allow for investigations to take place.
While medical and legal personnel are typically allowed to inspect the body - usually a right reserved only for the family - they are frowned upon if they perform an autopsy, as most Muslims consider this as desecration of the dead.
Even if the body must be kept for inspection, it is expected that it will be washed and wrapped in cloths for the family to receive when the remains are finally released.
Malik and Farook shot 14 people dead at the Inland Regional Center in California last week after being inspired to carry out their attack by a form of fundamentalist, radical Islam.
Victorian women's festival criticised for not allowing pre-operative transgender women to attend - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:28
An email response Kylee said she received from the organisers of the Seven Sisters festival.
A three-day women's festival to be held in March next year at Mount Martha, south-east of Melbourne, has been criticised for not allowing transgender women to attend unless they have undergone gender re-assignment surgery.
Seven Sisters Festival is described by organisers as "the only one of it's [sic] kind on the planet that provides you and a select few women with an extravagant wonderland to EXPLORE, GROW AND EVOLVE".
Kylee, who did not want her to use her full name as her partner Belle is in the early stages of transitioning, wrote to festival organisers last month to ask whether Belle would be welcome.
"We've been trying to become more involved in women's circles so that she can feel more comfortable, but at the moment she's retreated a bit from life, so I thought a really beautiful camping festival with all women would be a really safe place for her to feel accepted," she said.
She said after messaging and emailing the organisers a number of times, she was told that her partner would not be welcome at the event.
"Their basic response was 'we only welcome trans women who are post-op, who have undergone all the procedures to become a woman, because having people onsite who are physically male, would break the trust of the attendees'," she said.
"I got quite ragey over it, and I read it out to my partner and she just kind of sighed and went 'yep, that sounds about right'."
Kylee's partner Belle said while she was not surprised by the festival's response, it was disappointing.
"The [email] was talking about surgery - so only rich, well to do trans women who can afford the full gender re-assignment surgery which is upwards of $20,000 by the time you do everything are considered female?" she said.
"Having spent a lifetime feeling like a woman to finally be brave enough to start to make the changes to do something about that, to then have the very people who you are aspiring to be part of their community lock you out, it's not a very nice feeling."
Seven Sisters Facebook backlashKylee said she did not respond to the email, but she posted it to the event's Facebook page weeks later, after another woman asked whether transitioning women could attend.
External Link Facebook: Seven SistersSince posting the email, the event organisers have been criticised and labelled transphobic by a number of people on the page.
The post and Kylee's response have since been deleted.
Belle said she hoped that next year, the festival's policy would change after the backlash to their policy.
"And it makes me really happy to see people that are cisgender, or in a different position of privilege, speaking out for that recognition," she said.
The ABC has contacted the organisers of Seven Sisters festival for comment.
In a post on the event's Facebook page organisers said they would respond to concerns about their transgender policy via email "within working hours".
"We appreciate everyone has an opinion and freedom of speech, however we don't condone any abusive and violent language, therefore we have deleted and will delete any post that are inflammatory and abusive," the post read.
"This is an issue we are taking very seriously and will be addressing with consideration."
Posted Sun 13 Dec 2015, 5:36 PM AEDTRelated
vitriolic rhetoric-Wheaton College suspends Christian professor who wore a hijab - Chicago Tribune
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 18:07
A tenured Wheaton College professor who, as part of her Christian Advent devotion, donned a traditional headscarf to show solidarity with Muslims has been placed on administrative leave.
Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at the private evangelical Christian college in Chicago's west suburbs, announced last week that she would wear the veil to show support for Muslims who have been under greater scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.
"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," she posted on Facebook.
But it was that explanation of her gesture that concerned some evangelical Christians, who read her statement as a conflation of Christian and Muslim theology.
"While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God's revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer," Wheaton College said in a statement.
Hawkins, 43, planned to wear the hijab everywhere she went until Christmas, including on her flight home to Oklahoma, where voters in 2010 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning Shariah, or Islamic law.
She said in a Tribune interview that it's "a time of real vitriolic rhetoric by fellow Christians sometimes and people who aren't Christian who conflate all Muslims with terrorist '-- and that saddens me '-- so this is a way of saying if all women wear the hijab we cannot discriminate. If all women were in solidarity, who is the real Muslim? How is TSA going to decide who they really suspect?"
While Hawkins did not need to seek approval from Wheaton, she did seek advice from the Council on American Islamic Relations, to make sure she did not offend Muslims.
Renner Larson, communications director for CAIR's Chicago chapter, said he was intrigued by her decision.
"There's a lot of misconception about why women wear hijab and this idea that women are forced to wear it," said Larson, who is not Muslim. "For a lot of people it's a very powerful choice, especially in the United States it can be a hard, uncomfortable choice. So often women wearing hijab are the targets of attack and hatred because more than anyone else they are so immediately recognizable as Muslim."
Wheaton administrators did not denounce Hawkins' gesture but said more conversation should have taken place before it was announced.
"Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution's faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity," the college said in a statement. "As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college's evangelical Statement of Faith."
Last week, a coalition of student leaders at Wheaton drafted an open letter calling on evangelical Christian leaders to condemn recent remarks by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. that students armed with guns can "end those Muslims."
Gene Green, a professor of the New Testament at Wheaton, said what motivated Hawkins is the same concern many faculty members at the school share about the unfair scrutiny facing the Muslim community.
"Dr. Hawkins and others want to follow the example of Jesus, who went to those who were discriminated against," he said. "He ate with people whom others rejected. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, and the Muslims are our neighbors."
Larson, who attends a Unitarian Universalist church, said he was dismayed to hear that some view Hawkins' gesture as compromising Christianity.
"It's disappointing that showing solidarity means that you are somehow sacrificing your own identity," he said. "I do what I do not to be closer to Islam but because it makes me closer to my identity as an American who believes in American ideals."
At St. Martin Episcopal Church in Chicago on Sunday, Hawkins was embraced for her act of solidarity. During the service, other parishioners shared their own stories of how they were reaching out to their Muslim neighbors. Hawkins said she expected the embrace from the welcoming Austin neighborhood church. She didn't expect the backlash from her own evangelical brothers and sisters.
"I do care about my Christian brothers and sisters, and I didn't set out to offend them," she said. "My position has been held for centuries."
Twitter @tribseeker
Neurodiversity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 22:49
Neurodiversity is a controversial approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome.[1] This neologism originated in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, instead asserting that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status.
There is a neurodiversity movement, which is an international civil rights movement that has the autism rights movement as its most influential submovement. This movement frames autism, bipolarity and other neurotypes as a natural human variation rather than a pathology or disorder, and its advocates reject the idea that neurological differences need to be (or can be) cured, as they believe them to be authentic forms of human diversity, self-expression, and being.
Neurodiversity advocates promote support systems (such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support)[2] that allow those who are neurodivergent to live their lives as they are, rather than being coerced or forced to adopt uncritically accepted ideas of normalcy, or to conform to a clinical ideal.[3]
Terminology[edit]According to the 2011 National Symposium on Neurodiversity held at Syracuse University, neurodiversity is:
... a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.[3]
According to Pier Jaarsma in 2011, neurodiversity is a "controversial concept" that "regards atypical neurological development as a normal human difference".[4]
Nick Walker argued in 2012 that there is no such thing as a "neurodiverse individual", because the concept of neurodiversity encompasses all people of every neurological status, and that all people are neurodiverse. Walker instead proposes the term neurominority as "a good, non-pathologizing word for referring to all people who aren't neurotypical". He says that people with other neurological styles are "marginalized and poorly accommodated by the dominant culture".[5] Walker proposes making a distinction between neurodiversity as an overarching concept, and the neurodiversity paradigm, or "the understanding of neurodiversity as a natural form of human diversity subject to the same societal dynamics as other forms of diversity",[5] which is contrasted to the pathology paradigm of representing neurominorities as problematic and pathological solely due to their deviance from the neurotypical majority.
Autism rights movement[edit]The autism rights movement (ARM) is a social movement within the neurodiversity movement that encourages autistic people, their caregivers and society to adopt a position of neurodiversity, accepting autism as a variation in functioning rather than a mental disorder to be cured.[6] The ARM advocates a variety of goals including a greater acceptance of autistic behaviors;[7] therapies that teach autistic individuals coping skills rather than therapies focused on imitating behaviors of neurotypical peers;[8] the creation of social networks and events that allow autistic people to socialize on their own terms;[9] and the recognition of the Autistic community as a minority group.[10]
Autism rights or neurodiversity advocates believe that the autism spectrum is genetic and should be accepted as a natural expression of the human genome. This perspective is distinct from two other likewise distinct views: the mainstream perspective that autism is caused by a genetic defect and should be addressed by targeting the autism gene(s); and the perspective that autism is caused by environmental factors like vaccines and pollution and could be cured by addressing environmental causes.[6]
Anti-cure perspective[edit]Members of the various autism rights organizations view autism as a way of life rather than as a disease and thus advocate acceptance over a search for a cure.[11] Some advocates believe that common therapies for the behavioral and language differences associated with autism, like applied behavior analysis, are not only misguided but also unethical.[12]
The "anti-cure perspective" endorsed by the movement is a view that autism is not a disorder, but a normal occurrence'--an alternate variation in brain wiring or a less common expression of the human genome.[11] Advocates of this perspective believe that autism is a unique way of being that should be validated, supported and appreciated rather than shunned, discriminated against or eliminated.[11][13] They believe quirks and uniqueness of autistic individuals should be tolerated as the differences of any minority group should be tolerated and that efforts to eliminate autism should not be compared, for example, to curing cancer but instead to the antiquated notion of curing left-handedness.[11][14] The ARM is a part of the larger disability rights movement, and as such acknowledges the social model of disability.[15] Within the model, struggles faced by autistic people are viewed as discrimination rather than deficiencies.
Advocacy[edit]A 2013 online survey said this: "Such a deficit-as-difference conception of autism suggests the importance of harnessing autistic traits in developmentally beneficial ways, transcending a false dichotomy between celebrating differences and ameliorating deficit".[16]
According to Andrew Fenton and Tim Krahn, proponents of neurodiversity strive to reconceptualize autism and related conditions in society by the following measures: acknowledging that neurodiversity does not require a cure; changing the language from the current "condition, disease, disorder, or illness"-based nomenclature and "broaden[ing] the understanding of healthy or independent living"; acknowledging new types of autonomy; and giving neurodiverse individuals more control over their treatment, including the type, timing, and whether there should be treatment at all.[17]
A 2009 study[18] by Edward Griffin and David Pollak separated 27 students (with autism, dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder, ADHD, and stroke), into two categories of self-view: "a 'difference' view'--where neurodiversity was seen as a difference incorporating a set of strengths and weaknesses, or a 'medical/deficit' view'--where neurodiversity was seen as a disadvantageous medical condition". They found that although all of the students reported uniformly difficult schooling careers involving exclusion, abuse, and bullying, those who viewed themselves from a difference view (41% of the study cohort) "indicated higher academic self-esteem and confidence in their abilities and many (73%) expressed considerable career ambitions with positive and clear goals".[18] Many of these students reported gaining this view of themselves through contact with neurodiversity advocates in online support groups.[18]
In 2013, German computer software giant SAP, seeking innovation that "comes from the edges", launched a recruitment drive for software testers specifically seeking autistic people. Freddie Mac, the U.S. home financing firm, aimed its hiring campaign's second round of paid internships at autistic students.[19]
History[edit]According to Jaarsma and Welin (2011), the "neurodiversity movement was developed in the 1990s by online groups of autistic persons. It is now associated with the struggle for the civil rights of all those diagnosed with neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders."[4] The term neurodiversity also represents a move away from the "mother-blaming" or refrigerator mother theories of the 20th century.[20]
The neurodiversity paradigm was initially embraced by individuals on the autism spectrum,[4] but subsequent groups have applied the concept to conditions that aren't on the autism spectrum such as bipolarity,[21][22]ADHD,[23]schizophrenia,[24]schizoaffective, sociopathy,[25]circadian rhythm disorders,[citation needed]developmental speech disorders, Parkinson's disease, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysnomia, intellectual disability,[26]obsessive''compulsive, and Tourette syndrome.[23][27]
The term is attributed to Judy Singer, an Australian social scientist on the autism spectrum,[4] and it first appeared in print in an article by journalist Harvey Blume (which did not attribute Singer)[6] in The Atlantic on September 30, 1998:[28]
Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.[28]
In a New York Times piece on June 30, 1997, Blume did not use the term "neurodiversity", but he did describe the foundation of the idea in the phrase "neurological pluralism":[29]
"Yet, in trying to come to terms with an NT [neurotypical]-dominated world, autistics are neither willing nor able to give up their own customs. Instead, they are proposing a new social compact, one emphasizing neurological pluralism. ... The consensus emerging from the Internet forums and Web sites where autistics congregate [...] is that NT is only one of many neurological configurations -- the dominant one certainly, but not necessarily the best."[29]
Blume was an early advocate who predicted the role the Internet would play in fostering the international neurodiversity movement, writing:[30]
There is a political dimension to this bond with the Internet. A project called CyberSpace 2000 is devoted to getting as many people as possible in the autistic spectrum hooked up by the year 2000, reason being that "the Internet is an essential means for autistic people to improve their lives, because it is often the only way they can communicate effectively. ... The challenge we will all be increasingly confronted with, on-line and off, is, to look at ourselves differently than we have before, that is, to accept neurological diversity.[30]
Some authors[6][17] also credit the earlier work of autistic advocate Jim Sinclair, who was a principal early organizer of the international online autism community. Sinclair's 1993 speech, "Don't Mourn For Us",[31] mentioned that some parents considered their child's autism diagnosis as "the most traumatic thing that ever happened to them". Sinclair (who did not speak until the age of 12) addressed the communal grief parents felt by asking them to try to take the perspectives of autistic people themselves:
Non-autistic people see autism as a great tragedy, and parents experience continuing disappointment and grief at all stages of the child's and family's life cycle. But this grief does not stem from the child's autism in itself. It is grief over the loss of the normal child the parents had hoped and expected to have ... There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person'--and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with. This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.[31]
Sinclair is also credited with coining the word neurotypical in the early 1990s, which was originally used to denote people with non-autistic brains, but has morphed in usage to denote neurologically typically developing people (or the culture that is built around such people). Both Singer and Sinclair created new ways to view and frame people with neurological differences '' first in regard to the autism spectrum but eventually in regard to other conditions as well.[citation needed][original research?]
The term neurodiversity has since been applied to other conditions and has taken on a more general meaning; for example, the Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association (DANDA) in the UK encompasses developmental coordination disorder, ADHD, Asperger's syndrome and related conditions.[32][unreliable source?]
Controversies[edit]The neurodiversity concept is controversial.[4] Those proposing the medical model of disability identify mental differences as "disorders, deficits, and dysfunctions". From this point of view, some neurominority states are treated as medical conditions that can and should be corrected.[33] Author David Pollak sees neurodiversity as an inclusive term that refers to the equality of all possible mental states. Still others reject the word because they think it sounds too medical.[33]
Jaarsma and Welin wrote in 2011 that the "broad version of the neurodiversity claim, covering low-functioning as well as high-functioning autism, is problematic. Only a narrow conception of neurodiversity, referring exclusively to high-functioning autists, is reasonable."[4] They say that "higher functioning" individuals with autism may "not [be] benefited with such a psychiatric defect-based diagnosis ... some of them are being harmed by it, because of the disrespect the diagnosis displays for their natural way of being", but "think that it is still reasonable to include other categories of autism in the psychiatric diagnostics. The narrow conception of the neurodiversity claim should be accepted but the broader claim should not."[4]
Jonathan Mitchell, an autistic author and blogger who advocates for a cure for Autism, has described autism as having "prevented me from making a living or ever having a girlfriend. It's given me bad fine motor coordination problems where I can hardly write. I have an impaired ability to relate to people. I can't concentrate or get things done."[34] He describes neurodiversity as a "tempting escape valve".[6]
See also[edit]References[edit]^"Autism as a Natural Human Variation: Reflections on the Claims of the Neurodiversity Movement"(PDF). Link¶ping University. Retrieved November 5, 2014. ^"Position Statements". Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Retrieved April 21, 2013. ^ ab"What is Neurodiversity?". National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University. 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2012. ^ abcdefgJaarsma P, Welin S (February 2011). "Autism as a Natural Human Variation: Reflections on the Claims of the Neurodiversity Movement"(PDF). Health Care Anal20 (1): 20''30. doi:10.1007/s10728-011-0169-9. PMID 21311979. ^ abWalker, Nick (2012). Julia Bascom, ed. Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking. Washington, DC: The Autistic Press. pp. 154''162. ISBN 9782938800023. ^ abcdeSolomon, Andrew (2008-05-25). "The autism rights movement". New York. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Mission Statement. Autism Acceptance Project. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.^Mission Statement. Aspies for Freedom. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.^Autism Network International presents Autreat. (2008-05-23) AIN.^"Declaration From the Autism Community That They Are a Minority Group" (Press release). PRWeb, Press Release Newswire. 2004-11-18. Retrieved 2007-11-07. ^ abcdHarmon, Amy. Neurodiversity Forever; The Disability Movement Turns to Brains.The New York Times, May 9, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-11-08.^Dawson, Michelle. The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists. (2004-01-18). Retrieved on 2007-01-23.^Gal L (2007-06-28). "Who says autism's a disease?". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-16. ^"In Support of Michelle Dawson and Her Work". Autistics.org. Retrieved 2012-03-21. ^Waltz, M (2013). Autism: A Social and Medical History. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-52750-7. ^Kapp, Steven K.; Gillespie-Lynch, Kristen; Sherman, Lauren E.; Hutman, Ted (January 2013). "Deficit, difference, or both? Autism and neurodiversity.". Developmental Psychology49 (1): 59''71. doi:10.1037/a0028353. PMID 22545843. ^ abFenton, Andrew, and Tim Krahn. "Autism, Neurodiversity and Equality Beyond the Normal" (PDF). Journal of Ethics in Mental Health 2.2 (2007): 1-6. 10 November 2009.^ abcGriffin, Edward; Pollak, David (January 2009). "Student experiences of neurodiversity in higher education: Insights from the BRAINHE project.". Dyslexia15 (1): 23''41. doi:10.1002/dys.383. PMID 19140120. ^Kelland, Kate (4 June 2013). "Thinking differently: Autism finds space in the workplace". London, UK: Reuters. Retrieved 4 June 2013. ^Bumiller, Kristen. "The Geneticization of Autism: From New Reproductive Technologies to the Conception of Genetic Normalcy." Signs 34.4 (2009): 875-99. Chicago Journals. University of Chicago Press.^"On Neurodiversity". Retrieved 14 May 2015. ^"An Exploration Of The Neurodiversity Movement". radicalpsychology.org. Retrieved 2015-08-11. Conducting a poll of what she calls her 'online tribe', other bipolar people participating in specialized listservs and chatrooms, Antonetta discovered that, like her, most responders like their minds and the gifts their bipolarity brings them. One man she quotes says: "I choose not to look at bipolarity as an illness at all. In fact, I couldn't imagine myself as not being bipolar, nor would I want to be. The bipolar is a strong component of who I am, and I do not wish to be anyone else but me" (p. 89). Another respondent wrote, "I feel, and cause others to feel . . . Touched, the life of the imagination is the real life" (Antonetta, 2005, p.90). ^ abWoodford, Gillian. 'We Don't Need to be Cured' Autistics Say. National Review of Medicine. Volume 3. No. 8. April 30, 2006. Retrieved February 23, 2008.^Morrice, Polly (January 29, 2006) "Otherwise Minded"The New York Times, review of A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World^"The Virtue of Sociopaths: how to appreciate the neurodiversity of sociopathy without becoming a victim". Retrieved 2015-08-02. ^"The Myth of the Normal Brain: Embracing Neurodiversity, Apr 15 - AMA Journal of Ethics (formerly Virtual Mentor)". journalofethics.ama-assn.org. Retrieved 2015-08-05. ^Mackenzie, Robin; John Watts (2011-01-31). "Is our legal, health care and social support infrastructure neurodiverse enough? How far are the aims of the neurodiversity movement fulfilled for those diagnosed with cognitive disability and learning disability?". Tizard Learning Disability Review (Pier Professional) 16 (1): 30''37. doi:10.5042/tldr.2011.0005. We recommend, therefore, that the term neurodiverse include the conditions ASD, ADHD, OCD, language disorders, developmental coordination disorder, dyslexia and Tourette's syndrome. ^ abBlume, Harvey (September 30, 1998). "Neurodiversity". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 7, 2007. ^ abBlume, Harvey (June 30, 1997). "Autistics, freed from face-to-face encounters, are communicating in cyberspace". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2007. ^ abBlume, Harvey (July 1, 1997). ""Autism & The Internet" or "It's The Wiring, Stupid"". Media In Transition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved November 8, 2007. ^ abSinclair, Jim. Don't Mourn For Us. Autism Network International, n.d.. Retrieved on 2013-05-07.^danda.org.uk DANDA website. Retrieved on 6 January 2015^ abPollak, David. 2009. "Neurodiversity in Higher Education." John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.^Hamilton, Jon. "Shortage of Brain Tissue Hinders Autism Research". NPR. Retrieved 10 May 2015. Further reading[edit]Armstrong, Thomas (2010). Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences. Boston, MA: Da Capo Lifelong. p. 288. ISBN 978-0738213545. Armstrong, Thomas (2012). Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. p. 188. ISBN 978-1416614838. Silberman, Steve. "Neurodiversity Rewires Conventional Thinking About Brains". Wired. Retrieved 7 May 2013. Reitman, Harold (2015). Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger's, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity. Deerfield Beach, FL: HCI Books. p. 240. ISBN 9780757318542.
Agenda 2030
Paris Conference Supports CBDRILONCWRC | The Weekly Standard
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 03:44
The Paris Climate Conference closes on Friday. All the set pieces of the expected drama have played out: an Obama speech, hand-wringing by Western Europe, pleas of poverty by China and India, and a draft agreement coming in just before the deadline closes.
And the acronyms. Oh, the acronyms.
The United States, according to official documents, supports CBDRILONCWRC. That's only somewhat shorter than the full phrase: Common But Differentiated Responsibility In Light Of National Circumstances With Respective Capability.
Or, to translate from bureaucrat-speak: All countries share responsibility for dealing with supposed climate change according to their unique circumstances and economic strengths.
Mother Jones calls it "the acronym that just might save the world." That might be a bit of an overstatement. But a word that's twelve letters long and completely unpronounceable'--what a fitting metaphor for the entire top-down climate change conference.
French Frgn Min Son-Thomas Fabius free after 12 hours in custody
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 22:48
Source :
Cible :
Australian newspaper cartoon depicting Indians eating solar panels attacked as racist | Environment | The Guardian
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:30
The cartoon in the Australian, by Bill Leak, which has been accused of racism. Photograph: The Australian
A cartoon in the Australian depicting starving Indians chopping up and eating solar panels sent to the developing nation in an attempt to curb carbon emissions has been condemned as ''unequivocally racist''.
Drawn by the veteran cartoonist Bill Leak, Monday's cartoon was his response to the climate deal signed in Paris at the weekend. India is the world's fourth-largest greenhouse emitter.
Amanda Wise, an associate professor of sociology at Macquarie University, said in her view the cartoon was shocking and would be unacceptable in the UK, the US or Canada.
''This cartoon is unequivocally racist and draws on very base stereotypes of third world, underdeveloped people who don't know what to do with technology,'' Wise told Guardian Australia.
Related:The Weekly Beast: News Corp climate sceptic makes cut to report from Paris talks
''India is the technology centre of the world right now and has some of the most high-tech industries on the planet in that part of the world. The underlying message is that people in developing countries don't need all these technologies to do with climate change '' they need food.
''But actually it is people living in poverty that will suffer the most through food security, sea level rises, dropping of the water table.''
The editor of the Australian, Clive Mathieson, confirmed he edited Monday's paper but declined to comment on the Leak cartoon.
The Australian's long-serving editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell left the company last week and Paul Whittaker is installed as editor-in-chief, with Michelle Gunn staying on as editor of the Weekend Australian.
Wise said: ''I don't know too many places in the world where you would get away with that to be honest. In the UK and the US there would be an incredible outcry. It is appalling.
''This is really old imagery he has drawn on. Thin, starving people wearing turbans, who are so starving they are going to chop up solar panels. That is 1950s symbolism. We have moved on. The rest of the world has moved on.
''In Australia people from India are the second largest migrant group and they are coming here on skilled visas.''
The Australian's cartoon has provoked anger in India. ''This only demonstrates the '... provincial ignorance of both the journalist, cartoonist and publication,'' said Shoma Chaudhury, editor of Catch News and a well-known local journalist.
''India has not only been a sophisticated negotiator on climate change, insisting 'developed' nations pay their dues for destroying the planet, it has also voluntarily started adopting renewables like solar energy in hundreds of villages. It has not needed to be browbeaten into climate intelligence or consciousness, unlike many developed nations.
''In truth, the bewildered farmers in Leak's cartoon could probably teach him a thing or two about solar panels, while treating him to the indisputable pleasures of mango chutney.''
Leak's cartoon was widely condemned on Twitter, with many users drawing attention to India's rapidly developing sustainable energy sector.
Deakin University Prof Yin Paradies, whose research includes the economic effects of racism, also took the view the cartoon's message was clearly racist.
''The message ... is that India is too stupid to handle renewable energy and should stick to coal,'' Paradies told Guardian Australia. ''Suggesting that 'developing nations are stupid' is racist given that such nations are invariably associated with specific racial groups (ie non-whites).''
Leak, who joined the Australian from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1994, has been accused of becoming more conservative in recent years. He has addressed this criticism head-on, saying it had nothing to do with a serious accident after falling from a balcony.
''While trawling through a number of popular leftwing blogs recently, I realised I had to accept a painful reality: I have become a rabid right winger and a Murdoch toady,'' Leak wrote in 2012.
''It seems widely accepted that this terrible turn of events is attributable to the fact that I recently had an accident, after which I had to undergo brain surgery.
''Freedom of speech is the freedom to offend, and that means the freedom to offend anyone.
''Neither cartoonists nor journalists should be required to exempt certain groups within society from this general rule when expressing their views. I don't want to be protected from anybody's views, especially not from those I find personally repugnant, because it's often when finding yourself in violent disagreement with certain ideas that you're best able to clarify your own.''
Leak declined to comment on the criticism of Monday's cartoon.
Related:Fairfax apologises and withdraws SMH cartoon criticised as antisemitic
India took one of the hardest public lines at the climate change talks in Paris, and in the lead-up to them. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has publicly argued that it would be ''morally wrong'' to let rich countries off the hook for their historical emissions. The country has also stood by its decision to use massive quantities of highly polluting coal to power growth over coming decades, all while increasing the proportion of renewable energy.
With many of its cities enveloped in toxic smog for weeks and a series of extreme weather events in recent years, the environmental problems in India are clear and the deal in Paris has received a cautious welcome in the world's biggest democracy.
''India has reasons to be satisfied with the Paris agreement on climate change that was finalised on Saturday night,'' said the IndianExpress newspaper.
However the newspaper noted concerns about the ''inclusion of one line which might prove to be a big irritant in [Indian] plans to build coal-fired power plants.''
A cartoon in the New York Times published during the negotiations also prompted strong reactions in India. It showed India as an elephant blocking the forward progress of the ''climate talks train''.
Last year Fairfax Media was forced to apologise after an outcry over a cartoon by Glen Le Lievre in the Sydney Morning Herald, which was criticised by many, including the Australian, as racist and antisemitic.
A columnist, Gerard Henderson, writing under the heading SMH gives antisemitism a chance, condemned the cartoon as a depiction of a ''stereotypical Jew of recent memory'' with a hook nose, kippah and star of David.
Another columnist for the Australian, Michael Gawenda, said it ''recycled the sort of cartoon image of Jews that was standard fare in Nazi publications''.
Fairfax apologised a week later, saying it was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form.
India and France launch international solar power alliance in Paris
'Klimaatakkoord is doodsteek voor haven Rotterdam' - AD.nl
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 12:01
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Amerikaanse diplomaat: 'Demmink affaire staat op ontploffen' - Katholiek Nieuwsblad
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:45
"Een belangrijk politiek schandaal staat op ontploffen in Nederland. Het verhaal erachter is zo smerig, en het Nederlandse toedekken ervan zo energiek, dat het breed openbreken ervan tot gevolg zou kunnen hebben dat het Internationale Hof van Justitie, het belangrijkste juridische orgaan van de Verenigde Naties, Den Haag moet verlaten."
Dit schrijft de Amerikaanse diplomaat en oud-ambassadeur Richard W. Carlson vandaag in een opiniebijdrage 'Schandaal in Den Haag' op TribLive, de website van de Amerikaanse krant de Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Carlson wijst op de de verheven juridische doelstellingen waarmee het Nederlandse ministerie van Justitie zichzelf aanprijst, een ministerie "dat tot voor kort geleid werd door een beweerdelijk seksueel roofdier - Joris Demmink", aldus Carlson.
"De kalme, kalende en bebrilde vrijgezel was secretaris-generaal van het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie en chef van de Nationale Politie tot hij op zijn 65e met goudomrand pensioen ging, en tijdens een copieus diner ook nog eens alle lof toegezwaaid kreeg, pas vier maanden geleden."
"Dertig jaar lang was Demmink een van de hoogstgeplaatste juridische ambtenaren van Nederland, een perfecte plaats vanwaar hij zijn beweerdelijke hobby jongens te verkrachten geheim kon houden, soms als deel van een georganiseerde groep van EU-pedofielen."
"Een resolutie die in behandeling is op Capitol Hill en gesteund wordt door Congreslid Joe Pitts, de ervaren senator van Pennsylvania, wil voorkomen dat Demmink ooit nog voet zet in de VS en wil het Internationale Hof van Justitie uit Nederland weg hebben".
"Demmink is echter een vriend van de machtigen, de Nederlandse koninklijke familie daarbij inbegrepen. De persoonlijke advocaat van de Nederlandse koningin Beatrix is nauw met Demmink bekend. Hij en de koninklijke familie moeten wel op de hoogte zijn van de gedetailleerde beschuldigingen die teruggaan tot de jaren negentig, toen Demmink directeur-generaal was van Internationale Zaken en Immigratie voor Nederland, en hij beschuldigd werd van het verkrachten van een 14-jarige dakloze jongen in Turkije."
"Demmink wordt ervan verdacht het jarenlang voorzien te hebben op arme en dakloze jongens in Nederland en andere EU landen, in het bijzonder Turkije, waarbij hij de macht en faciliteiten van zijn elitaire ambt - limousines, lijfwachten, chauffeurs en politiemensen - inzette om jongens te krijgen voor seksueel gebruik."
"Er zijn enige indringende oproepen geweest tot een onderzoek naar Demmink, daarbij inbegrepen een resolutie van meerdere pagina's die de VS oproept het Internationale Hof van Justitie weg te halen uit Den Haag. De resolutie is een catalogus van verschrikkingen, met details over de beweerdelijke verkrachting van drie jongens."
"Een verklaring op video van de Turkse politieman Mehmet Korkmaz, die belast was met de veiligheid rond drie van Demminks bezoeken aan Istanboel tussen 1995 en 1997, stelt dat hij het bevel had gekregen jonge "straatjongens" op te pikken en die naar Demmink te brengen voor misbruik."
"De Nederlandse ambassade in Washington zegt dat er voor geen van deze beschuldigingen bewijs bestaat. Dat is niet verrassend, omdat noch de jongens, noch de politieman, noch mensen van Interpol ooit door de Nederlandse autoriteiten gehoord zijn", aldus Carlson. Eerder liet ook de Amerikaanse diplomaat Anthony Salvia zich al in een opiniebijdrage vernietigend uit over de wijze waarop Nederland de affaire Demmink behandeld heeft.
The Cyberbudget of the Cyberunited Cyberstates of Cyberamerica | The Verge
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 01:48
The prefix "cyber-" is a shortening of "cybernetics," which is itself based on a Greek word relating to steering, piloting, or governance. I had to go look that up after tabbing through the recent omnibus budget bill, because reading "cyber" 423 times had stripped the term of all meaning. Not, granted, that it had a lot to begin with.
It's not fair to the US government that "cyber" is inherently hilarious to most of the Verge editorial staff '-- you have to pick some word to refer to a thing that happens on the internet, even if I'd go with "digital" instead. But besides the '90s slang connotations, and the fact that it's been overused egregiously in the past several decades, it lets officials conflate physical violence with hacking and increasingly connotes a malware arms race that nobody wins. So while it's worrying that there's a cybersurveillance bill hidden in the text, let's take a cybermoment to cyberenjoy some other cyberuses of our cyberfavorite cyberprefix in this cyberyear's cyberbudget.
Let's take a closer cyberlook at a few of those:
CybersecurityCyber-espionageCyber threat indicatorCyberspaceCybercrimeCyber attackCyber Corps Scholarship ProgramCyber incidentsCyber-related work rolesCyberspace policy strategyInternational cyber criminalsMalicious Cyber Command and ControlCyber-threat actorsCyber-related functionsCivilian cyber personnelOffice of the Coordinator for Cyber IssuesInternational cyber behaviorOther cyber mattersThankfully, we're a little more responsible with our other high-tech prefix: there are only eight mentions of "e-" in the budget's 2,000 pages, including e-passport, e-government, and E-Verify. And there's not an e-cybermission in sight. But as you can see, this rapid cyberproliferation presents a cyberclear and cyberpresent cyberdanger in the cyberyears to cybercome.
Dunning''Kruger effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tue, 15 Dec 2015 10:11
The Dunning''Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence, they may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others, and they may incorrectly suppose that their competence in a particular field extends to other fields in which they are less competent.[1] The bias was first experimentally observed by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University in 1999.
Dunning and Kruger have postulated that the effect is the result of internal illusion in the unskilled, and external misperception in the skilled: "The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."[1]
Original studyEditThe phenomenon was first tested in a series of experiments during 1999 by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the department of psychology at Cornell University.[1][2] The study was inspired by the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras.[3] The authors noted that earlier studies suggested that ignorance of standards of performance lies behind a great deal of incorrect self-assessment of competence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing games such as chess or tennis.
Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:[4]
fail to recognize their own lack of skillfail to recognize genuine skill in othersfail to recognize the extent of their inadequacyrecognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill, after they are exposed to training for that skillDunning has since drawn an analogy '' "the anosognosia of everyday life"[5][6] '' with a condition in which a person who experiences a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of, or denies the existence of, the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis: "If you're incompetent, you can't know you're incompetent.'... [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is."[5]
Supporting studiesEditDunning and Kruger set out to test these hypotheses on Cornell undergraduates in psychology courses. In a series of studies, they examined subject self-assessment of logical reasoning skills, grammatical skills, and humor. After being shown their test scores, the subjects were asked to estimate their own rank. The competent group estimated their rank accurately, while the incompetent group overestimated theirs. As Dunning and Kruger noted:
Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.[1]
Meanwhile, subjects with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be easy, erroneously presumed to some extent, that the tasks also must be easy for others.[1]
A follow-up study, reported in the same paper, suggests that grossly incompetent students improved their ability to estimate their rank after minimal tutoring in the skills they had previously lacked, regardless of the negligible improvement gained in skills.[1]
In 2003, Dunning and Joyce Ehrlinger, also of Cornell University, published a study that detailed a shift in people's views of themselves when influenced by external cues. Participants in the study, Cornell University undergraduates, were given tests of their knowledge of geography. Some of the tests were intended to affect their self-views positively, some negatively. They were then asked to rate their performance. Those given the positive tests reported significantly better performance than those given the negative.[7]
Daniel Ames and Lara Kammrath extended this work to sensitivity to others and subject perception of how sensitive they were.[8]
Research conducted by Burson et al. (2006) set out to test one of the core hypotheses put forth by Kruger and Muller in their paper "Unskilled, unaware, or both? The better-than-average heuristic and statistical regression predict errors in estimates of own performance", "that people at all performance levels are equally poor at estimating their relative performance".[9] To test this hypothesis, the authors investigated three different studies, which all manipulated the "perceived difficulty of the tasks and hence participants' beliefs about their relative standing".[9] The authors found that when researchers presented subjects with moderately difficult tasks, the best and the worst performers varied little in their ability to accurately predict their performance. Additionally, they found that with more difficult tasks, the best performers were less accurate in predicting their performance than the worst performers. The authors concluded that these findings suggest that "judges at all skill levels are subject to similar degrees of error".[9]
Ehrlinger et al. (2008) made an attempt to test alternative explanations, but came to conclusions that were qualitatively similar to the original work. The paper concludes that the root cause is that, in contrast to high performers, "poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve".[10]
Studies on the Dunning''Kruger effect tend to focus on American test subjects. A number of studies on East Asian subjects suggest that different social forces are at play in different cultures. For example, East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities and see underachievement as a chance to improve themselves and to get along with others.[11]
Historical antecedentsEditAlthough the Dunning''Kruger effect was formulated in 1999, Dunning and Kruger have noted earlier observations along similar lines by philosophers and scientists, including Confucius ("Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance"),[2]Bertrand Russell ("One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"),[10] and Charles Darwin, whom they quoted in their original paper ("Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge").[1]
Geraint Fuller, commenting on the paper, noted that Shakespeare expressed a similar observation in As You Like It ("The Foole doth thinke he is wise, but the wiseman knowes himselfe to be a Foole" (V.i)).[12]
Dunning and Kruger were awarded the 2000 satirical Ig Nobel Prize in psychology "for their modest report, 'Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments'".[13]
ReferencesEdit^ abcdefgKruger, Justin; Dunning, David (1999). "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology77 (6): 1121''34. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1121. PMID 10626367. CiteSeerX: 10 .1 .1 .64 .2655. ^ abDunning, David; Johnson, Kerri; Ehrlinger, Joyce; Kruger, Justin (2003). "Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence"(PDF). Current Directions in Psychological Science12 (3): 83''87. doi:10.1111/1467-8721.01235. Retrieved 29 December 2012. ^"Why Losers Have Delusions of Grandeur". New York Post. 23 May 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2014. ^Lee, Chris (2012-05-25). "Revisiting why incompetents think they're awesome". Arstechnica.com. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-01-11. ^ abMorris, Errol (20 June 2010). "The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wrong but You'll Never Know What It Is (Part 1)". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2011. ^Dunning, David (2005). Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Essays in Social Psychology). Psychology Press. pp. 14''15. ISBN 1-84169-074-0. ^Ehrlinger, Joyce; Dunning, David (January 2003). "How Chronic Self-Views Influence (and Potentially Mislead) Estimates of Performance". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (American Psychological Association) 84 (1): 5''17. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.1.5. PMID 12518967. ^Ames, Daniel R.; Kammrath, Lara K. (September 2004). "Mind-Reading and Metacognition: Narcissism, not Actual Competence, Predicts Self-Estimated Ability"(PDF). Journal of Nonverbal Behavior28 (3): 187''209. doi:10.1023/B:JONB.0000039649.20015.0e. Retrieved 21 July 2013. ^ abcBurson, K.; Larrick, R.; Klayman, J. (2006). "Skilled or unskilled, but still unaware of it: how perceptions of difficulty drive miscalibration in relative comparisons"(PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology90 (1): 5. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.90.1.60. PMID 16448310. hdl:2027.42/39168. ^ abEhrlinger, Joyce; Johnson, Kerri; Banner, Matthew; Dunning, David; Kruger, Justin (2008). "Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent"(PDF). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes105 (1): 98''121. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2007.05.002. PMC 2702783. PMID 19568317. ^DeAngelis, Tori (Feb 2003). "Why we overestimate our competence". Monitor on Psychology (American Psychological Association) 34 (2): 60. Retrieved 7 March 2011. ^Fuller, Geraint (2011). "Ignorant of ignorance?". Practical Neurology11 (6): 365. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2011-000117. PMID 22100949. ^"Ig Nobel Past Winners". Retrieved 7 March 2011. Further readingEditDunning, David (27 October 2014). "We Are All Confident Idiots". Pacific Standard (Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy). Retrieved 28 October 2014. A popular commentary by David Dunning, with links to other articles, about the research program on how human beings evaluate their own knowledge and competence.
Turkish Imam's USA Network of Schools To Be Investigated As Part Of Lawsuit >> Infowars Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 02:10
The Turkish government has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against the powerful Turkish Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, living in exile in the Poconos.The lawsuit alleges that Gulen ''issued orders from within this jurisdiction [Pennsylvania] directing his well-placed religious followers residing in Turkey to launch a targeted campaign of persecution'' using a ''network of loyal state officials '' police, prosecutors, and judges '' in Turkey willing to do his bidding''. It further alleges that Gulen and ''his co-conspirators in Turkey illegally planted evidence, fabricated search warrants, secured illegal wiretaps, and ultimately arrested Plaintiffs without any legal basis, unlawfully detaining them for periods of up to 20 months''.
Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of the firm filing the complaint, said the goal of the lawsuit was ''to expose allegedly unlawful conduct by the Gulen network worldwide''. ''We're going to look into their activities throughout the United States, Africa and other regions where the network is active'', he said.
The lawsuit states in its introduction that ''Mr. Gulen has an international following estimated to approach 10 million people. He has developed a vast network of businesses and non- governmental organizations that supply him with financial support, and he is estimated to control at least $25 billion in assets.''
While the Gulen network's influence in Turkey is allegedly based on infiltration of police and judiciary, in the rest of the world its influence is felt in schools. Estimates are that there are 300 Gulen schools in Turkey and 1,000 worldwide. In the United States there were 146 Gulen taxpayer funded charter schools as of Sep 2014.
The lawsuit states that ''Mr. Gulen controls dozens of business entities and more than 120 charter schools in various states, many of which are or have been under investigation by state and federal criminal and regulatory authorities.'' Some of the Gulen schools have been investigated and closed but new ones continue to open. The heaviest concentration of Gulen charter schools is in Texas where there were 45 in 2014. A new Gulen school just opened in Austin, Tx last month.
Documentary filmmaker Mark Hall is nearing completion of a film, ''Killing Ed'', that looks at problems with the charter school movement. The film focuses on the Gulen schools as a worst case example of charter schools. In our interview with Mark Hall, embedded below, he pointed out that the Gulen network is ''educating roughly a little over 60,000 students across United States now and they're bringing in many thousands of teachers, who are followers of Fethullah Gulen, on H1-B visas to teach at the schools.''
Gulen charter schools in the US are completely funded by taxes which Mark Hall estimates ''excess of $500 million a year''. ''These are funds that you and I are giving to our government and they're going directly to this organization'', he said. So while in Islamic countries the Gulen schools are Islamic madrassas, Gulen schools in the US have to carefully avoid any overt religious proselytizing to Islam. But as Hall pointed out, ''what you see in the schools here in United States and elsewhere is intense national Turkification of their children.'' ''These are not Turkish kids, these are kids that have a variety of backgrounds '-- Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans '-- and you know the question is why are they being so intensely taught a lot about Turkey''.
That is not how the school is portrayed to parents. They are marketed as schools of Science and Math.
They stage large Science Fairs, which whistleblowers allege are merely dog and pony shows for politicians. Whistleblower teachers and students allege in the documentary film that the science projects are largely prepared by staff, not students andthat many teachers brought from Turkey are not qualified teachers, certainly not in science or math
Paul L. Williams, journalist, author and terrorist consultant to the FBI, has called Fethullah Gulen ''the world's most dangerous Islamist''. Is it because Gulen is not engaging in terrorism but using schools to proselytize our children for Islam? Bill Ayers became far more dangerous and effective when he stopped blowing up buildings and focused on deconstructing society through education.
Big Pharma
Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Shkreli arrested by FBI: Reuters
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 13:50
Lawyers for Retrophin and Shkreli, whose arrest was witnessed by Reuters, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Turing and KaloBios declined to comment.
Turing sparked controversy earlier this year after news reports that it had raised the price of Daraprim, a 62-year-old treatment for a dangerous parasitic infection, to $750 a tablet from $13.50 after acquiring it.
Shkreli, 32, was expected to be charged on Thursday for illegally using Retrophin assets to pay off debts after MSMB lost millions of dollars, the source said.
Drone Nation
Press Release '' FAA Announces Small UAS Registration Rule
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 18:23
WASHINGTON '' The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced a streamlined and user-friendly web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.
The Registration Task Force delivered recommendations to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on November 21. The rule incorporates many of the task force recommendations.
''Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,'' said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. ''Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I'm excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.''
Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system. Owners using the new streamlined web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register.
Owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration
Registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.
Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years.
The normal registration fee is $5, but in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016).
''We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,'' said FAA Administrator Huerta. ''Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.''
The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation '' for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA is developing enhancements that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016.
The full rule can be viewed here: www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/20151213_IFR.pdf
VIDEO-Tech firms set to face hefty fines under new EU data laws | euronews, Europe
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:37
Big tech companies are set to face hefty fines in future if they misuse personal information '' up to four percent of their revenues.
The EU has approved sweeping overhaul of fragmented data laws, which date back to the 1990s.
Firms will also be forced to report data breaches.
Negotiations have been going on since June and now politicians are hailing a ''breakthrough.''
The agreement is subject to final endorsement by both the European Parliament and EU member states, expected by early next week.
''You can trust that these rights are really enforced everywhere, with strong sanctions. And not that there are some countries in Europe where there is weaker protection, others with stronger protection,'' explained Jan Albrecht, a German Green MEP.
''Everywhere you have the same strong rights. And in addition, you will get additional rights, like better information and transparency rights.''
The reform comes amid mounting privacy concerns over where data is stored and how it is used.
They were stoked after former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed how American authorities harvested information directly from tech companies like Apple Inc and Microsoft.
VIDEO-Dutch riot over plans for a refugee centre | euronews, world news
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:34
A meeting to decide whether to build a refugee centre ended in a riot in the Dutch town of Geldermalsen near Utrecht on Wednesday night. Around 2,000 people surrounded the venue where the town council was discussing whether to build facilities to house 1500 asylum seekers.
Eventually councilors were evacuated when youths forced their way into the building after outside tearing down fences and throwing beer bottles at police. According to social media several arrests were made but there were no reported injuries.
It's the biggest display of anti-migrant sentiment in the Netherlands since hooligans attacked a Syrian refugee centre in October. European countries are struggling to cope with the largest movement of migrants since World War Two, many of them Syrians who have come via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.
The country's deputy Justice Minister who oversees immigration called the incident ''un-Dutch''.
VIDEO-Putin praises 'bright and talented' Donald Trump - CNNPolitics.com
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:15
Talking to reporters while leaving the stage following his annual press conference, Putin characterized the Republican front-runner as "the absolute leader of the presidential race."
Then Russia's own leader -- who, moments earlier, had declined on stage to comment on the U.S. presidential election -- went a step further, offering compliments for the businessman-reality TV star-politician.
In October, Trump said that he and Putin "are very different" but opined that "I would, at the same time, get along very well with him."
"He does not like Obama at all; he doesn't respect Obama at all," Trump said then. "... And I don't think you'd be having the kind of problems that you're having right now."
Putin referenced Trump's reported desire "to reach another, deeper level of relations" with Russia.
"What else can we do but to welcome it? Certainly, we welcome it," he said.
CNN's Olga Pavlova reported from Moscow, and CNN's Greg Botelho wrote this story from Atlanta.
VIDEO-MSNBC Likens Paris Climate Deal to 'NASA Moonshot Kind of Moment' | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:50
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
MSNBC's Tony Dokoupil acted more like a left-wing environmentalist than a journalist on the 12 December 2015 edition of Weekends With Alex Witt, as he reported on the Paris climate change talks. Dokoupil trumpeted how "it's really like a Mars lander kind of moment '-- a NASA moonshot moment." The correspondent later touted how "history will be made" if the talks conclude successfully, and added, "I can't wait to see how it turns out, because there's going to be celebration if it's successful; and there could really be rioting in the streets here if it fails."
VIDEO-Joe Scarborough Notices Something During Debate That Has Him Convinced Trump, Cruz Made 'Inside Deal' Against GOP Establishment | Video | TheBlaze.com
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:43
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough speculated on Wednesday that GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz may have made an ''inside deal'' against the Republican establishment. He said the candidates' behavior during Tuesday night's debate planted the idea in his head.
''After the debate, I just started thinking, 'this was an inside deal.' You've got Trump and Cruz that were kind of hitting each other '-- but they see now that they are locked in first and second place,'' he said, ''Notice, everybody on the stage was attacking everybody, but the top two guys.''
He continued, ''So Trump goes after Jeb, Cruz goes after Rubio '-- the establishment's two favorite candidates. And they refuse to touch each other. It smacked of an inside deal.''
Scarborough said such a deal is a ''smart political move'' for both candidates.
''They either made a direct or an indirect deal,'' he added.
Watch the segment via MSNBC:
VIDEO-U.S. Revamps Homeland Security Alert System - WSJ
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 13:55
U.S. Revamps Homeland Security Alert System - WSJDOW JONES, A NEWS CORP COMPANY
News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Clash, Showing GOP Divide on Security
Fed Raises Rates After Seven Years Near Zero
Judge Declares Mistrial in First Freddie Gray Case
California Shooters Discussed Jihad in Private Messages
Congress Proceeds With Travel Limits on Foreigners Entering U.S.
Hillary Clinton's Tax Plan Backed by Warren Buffett
Massive Spending and Tax Deal Advances
U.S. Defense Secretary Used Private Email for Official Business
Baby, It's Warm Outside
U.S. Housing Starts Surge 10.5% in November
U.S. Terrorism Victims Could See Payments for Claims
VIDEO-State Dep't: 'Simply May Not Be Necessary' to Review Social Media of All Visa Applicants | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 05:06
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VIDEO-CNN to Carson: You 'Tough' Enough to Kill Thousands of Children? | MRCTV
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 04:46
[See NewsBusters for more.] In a bizarre exchange, co-debate moderator Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday night pressed Ben Carson as to whether he was ''tough'' enough to kill thousands of children. Hewitt lectured, '' We're talking about ruthless things tonight. Carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that?'' The radio host and CNN contributor continued, ''Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander in chief?'' After relating how, as a doctor, it's better to do the job efficiently and powerfully, Hewitt demanded, ''So you are okay with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians?''
VIDEO-Hacking Twitter: your account under government surveillance | Reuters.com
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 04:37
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VIDEO-Greece approves latest reform bill in exchange for 1 bn euros | euronews, world news
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 04:28
Greece's leftist-led government has survived another parliamentary vote on a reform bill demanded by the country's international lenders. In return Greece gets 1 billion euros to pay off debts.
The bill makes changes to the public sector wage grid and opens the market for banks to sell off bad loans.
Greece's Deputy Finance Minister George Chouliarakis addressed the chamber.
''This bill serves as a solution for non-performing loans and, as a consequence, also helps liquidity and boosts the economy. It does this while '' and this is its aim '' it protects the households and businesses that are most vulnerable.''
As usual there was heated debate in the chamber where the government has a majority of only three. All of the coalition's 153 deputies voted in favour of the bill.
The President of the opposition PASOK party Fofi Gennimata, was at her scathing best when she made her statement:
''And now what are you asking? That we become your accomplices? That we vote for what you used to be against ? Or do you want us to forgive you over the awful way of thinking that led the country in this point?
After five years of austerity including 12 pension cuts, the government plans to raise social security contributions instead of slashing main pensions again. But the lenders have signalled reluctance, saying it could further damage employment.
The reform must be adopted in January prior to the first bailout review, which Tsipras wants to conclude swiftly to open the way for talks on debt relief, which he urgently seeks to convince Greeks that their sacrifices are bearing fruit.
Euro zone institutions representing the creditors and the International Monetary Fund are expected to issue a compliance report on Wednesday.
VIDEO-Britain salutes its space hero | euronews, world news
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 04:24
A Soyuz space craft has successfully docked with the International Space Station. There was a slight delay due to a failure with the automatic docking procedure but it did nothing to dampen the arrival of the newest guests.
Along with a Russian and an American, Britain can be forgiven for focusing on Tim Peake '' the nation's first astronaut to visit the station.
Tim gave his first impressions on a link back to earth:
''Well, you know it was a beautiful launch and we got launched straight into night and got on with the work. But that first sunrise was absolutely spectacular. And we also got the benefit of a moonrise on the first orbit as well, which was beautiful to see,'' said Tim Peake who is a European Space Agency Astronaut.
Peake, who is a former army major, is the first astronaut to represent the British government. The first Briton in space was Helen Sharmen, who travelled on a Soviet spacecraft for eight days in 1991.
Peake along with Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra will spend the next six months on the space outpost, which may be tough for their families but they will be engaged in vital work including experiments which could have beneficial consequences for medical research .
VIDEO-"World War 3 Has Begun!" Rick Santorum - YouTube
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 03:23
VIDEO-"The Next 9/11 Is Coming From Syria! And It's Coming Soon!" Lindsey Graham - YouTube
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 03:21
VIDEO-"Twitter Works As A Way To Crowdsource Terrorism! To Sell Murder!" FBI Director Comey - YouTube
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 02:47
VIDEO-New York State Cracking Down On TOY GUNS That Look Real - YouTube
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 02:36
VIDEO-Yale fail: Ivy leaguers sign 'petition' to repeal First Amendment | Fox News
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 01:52
Published December 16, 2015Trigger warning! This story and video may be unsuitable viewing for the ''safe space'' crowd.
Looking to understand just how controversial the debate over free speech on our college campuses really is, filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz recently traveled to Yale University, one of our nation's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, to speak directly to students.
''I decided to take this campus free speech debate to its logical conclusion,'' said Horowitz, who asked students if they'd sign a petition calling for an outright repeal of the First Amendment. ''The result was this unbelievable display of total stupidity.''
In fact, Horowitz discovered a solid majority of the students asked willingly signed the petition, with several expressing their enthusiastic approval for his anti-First Amendment efforts.
''I think it's really awesome that you're out here,'' said one student.
Watch the video to find out just how many supported the petition, and how willing many students were to sign away their more basic rights of free speech and expression.
VIDEO-DONALD TRUMP Racist Proof of Dancing MUSLIMs - Bombs - Wall to Wall WTC ( A Must SEE & SHARE ) - YouTube
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 23:24
VIDEO-Press Availability With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Wed, 16 Dec 2015 21:54
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Today, we had a big negotiating day with John Kerry and his delegation finalizing their working visit to Moscow. We started with negotiations at Russian foreign ministry and we continued here in the Kremlin during the meeting with President Putin. Negotiations in the morning and in the evening were concrete, specific. We were focusing on issues of Syrian settlement with the link on intensifying our efforts to counterterrorism. ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusrah, and other terrorist groups are a common threat to every one of us, and today, we reiterated our determination to uproot this evil. We reiterated the arrangements reached between the military of the Russian Federation and the U.S., arrangements that are applied to the U.S.-led coalition is working against ISIL.
In practical terms, we have agreed some future steps that will help make our parallel work more efficient and more coordinated. We have dwelled on the Syrian settlement. Arrangements of the Vienna meetings were reiterated. They are based on the Geneva communique of June 2012. We agreed to continue the work that is at some final stage on listing terrorist organizations and on providing assistance to the UN in forming the opposition delegation that should be representative and that should be ready for negotiations with the Syrian Government. At the constructive basis in the spirit of those principles adopted by the International Syria Support Group, we agreed to keep up with our efforts on the anti-terror track, on arranging negotiations between the government and the opposition, but at the same time we deem it reasonable to reaffirm the arrangements reached in Vienna on October the 30th and November the 14th.
As the United Nations Security Council resolution, with this aim, we support the idea to convene this Friday on December the 18th a meeting of the ISSG at the level of ministers. And we expect that following this meeting, with the consent of all its members, we can submit draft resolution to the Security Council that would reaffirm all the principles enshrined in the Vienna documents '' the Vienna document of October the 30th and of November the 14th. That's what we discussed in terms of Syria.
Second, we exchanged our views on tasks in Ukrainian settlement, both the U.S. and the Russian Federation, in furtherance of agreements that were reached in principle between Presidents Putin and Obama '' confirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreements, to the Normandy format, and will use their opportunities to reach full implementation of the Minsk arrangements. There is a specific idea on how this can be promoted in the most efficient way, and we would like to keep in touch with our U.S. colleagues.
With this, I would like to give the floor to my colleague, John Kerry. Please, you have the floor.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Sergey, thank you very much. I want to thank Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin for their welcome here today and for the amount of time both of them afforded to this very important series of discussions that we had today. I talk with Sergey very frequently in addition to the meetings that we see each other at, but it is always better to be able to sit down in person and spend the significant amount of time that we're able to do today to really hash out details and not feel the pressure of another meeting at a multilateral event. So I'm grateful for President Putin. Particularly, I think we spent more than three and a half hours discussing a number of different topics as well as some critical issues that President Obama wanted me to raise with him.
There is absolutely no question that when the United States and Russia work together effectively, our two countries benefit, and we think also so does the global community. In July '' I just remind everybody '' we were able with the P5+1 partners to remove a potential danger to peace and security in the Middle East by negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and we remain together now committed to the full implementation of this agreement, which was designed to make certain that Iran does not secure a nuclear weapon. I'm pleased to report that just today, this afternoon, the Board of Governors of the IAEA passed on a resolution regarding the PMD activities, which was a critical component of the implementation process.
So, despite our countries' differences, we've demonstrated that when the United States and Russia pull together in the same direction, progress can be made. And as Sergey said today, our meetings focus principally on Syria, on counterterrorism, and on Ukraine.
I reaffirmed to President Putin that the United States stands ready to work with Russia to defeat Daesh, but provided, obviously, that Moscow chooses to direct its fire on the real threat, which is Daesh. And I made clear about our concern that some of Russia's strikes have hit the moderate opposition rather than focusing on Daesh. And I'm pleased to say President Putin took that under advisement. And we talked about the areas of our operations and theirs, and he was very much accommodating in his notion that we need to make certain that our militaries are talking in order to make sure there is a complete de-confliction.
We obviously agree that Daesh poses a threat to all of us. It's a threat to the region and beyond it. And we talked at great length about the threat of Daesh and the potential of extremism in the region. Russia and the United States agree that you can't defeat Daesh without also de-escalating the fight in Syria because Syria is the magnet, is the center, if you will, of the Daesh operations.
We also absolutely agree that dealing with both Daesh and Syria is going to require a political process '' not a political process for Daesh, but a political process for Syria so that we can better focus our efforts against Daesh. And so in accordance with the Geneva communique of 2012 and under the UN auspices, we discussed today in great detail the need to accelerate the effort in order to proceed under the UN to that political process.
I agree with Sergey, which he announced in Russian, that we will meet this Friday on the 18th in New York with the International Syria Support Group, and then for the purposes of affirming under the UN auspices what we are doing within that group, and if promoted, that we would pass a UN resolution regarding the Vienna communiques and the next steps with respect to negotiations and hopefully a ceasefire.
As I emphasized today, the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called ''regime change,'' as it is known in Syria. What we have said is that we don't believe that Assad himself has the ability to be able to lead the future Syria, but we didn't '' we focused today not on our differences about what can or can't be done immediately about Assad; we focused on a process '' on the political process whereby Syrians will be making decisions for the future of Syria. But we do believe that nobody should be forced to choose between a dictator and being plagued by terrorists. Our challenge remains creating the conditions on which an alternative can emerge.
So while we don't see eye to eye on every single aspect of Syria, we certainly agreed today '' and President Putin agreed '' that we see Syria fundamentally very similarly. We want the same outcomes. We see the same dangers. We understand the same challenges. And we all believe that a united, nonsectarian Syria represents the future, and we also agreed that it is a future without Daesh and we're committed to try to continue to destroy Daesh.
So last week, at a conference hosted by the Saudi Arabians, they began to bring together the opposition that is part of our discussion when we go to New York. We're also laying the groundwork for a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible, and we hope that we can achieve that soon. I want to also say that I very much appreciate Sergey's efforts and his cooperation as a co-convener to help move all of these tasks forward.
I also underscored today the need to take steps with respect to the implementation of the Minsk agreements and our efforts mutually to try to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine. We had a good discussion about Ukraine and we agreed on the spot that we will continue to grow out the bilateral process that the presidents agreed on and established recently '' some months ago, as a matter of fact. And it's our hope that the sooner the Minsk agreements are implemented and implemented in full, the better, and U.S. and EU sanctions can be rolled back. So we're prepared to use all of the tools at our disposal and we all understand what has to happen: The OSCE needs access. President Putin has agreed on steps that need to be taken. The government in Kyiv also has steps that we agree need to be taken, and we intend to work hard in order to see that both sides' obligations under this agreement are met.
So this was a productive day. Our discussions were constructive. We both know there's a lot of work to be done. I think it's fair to say that we both believe that our countries are better off, our people are better off, and the global community benefits when we can find common ground. We came here today '' it was an effort '' in an effort to try to expand that space. And even as we are honest with our differences, we are also trying to be extremely constructive about how we can find ways to improve both our day-to-day working relationship as well as augment the leadership that we think we can offer on critical crises facing the global community.
With that, we're happy to take some questions.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Russia Today news channel, please.
QUESTION: RT International. I got two questions for both Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov, if I may. Let me start with Mr. Kerry.
So just about a year ago, your President said, and I'm quoting, that: It is America that currently stands strong and united with the allies, but Russia is the one that's isolated. And I'm just wondering, when international leaders are talking intensively with Russia and you are here on Russian soil talking with the Russian president, where is that isolation? And was it premature to proclaim that isolation back then?
(Via interpreter) And Mr. Lavrov, I have a question to you. How do you view the coalition announced by Saudi Arabia, and what progress was made on the terrorist list and the opposition list? Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me answer the question by saying this '' that when the President spoke, he was speaking at a time where, in reaction to the events that took place in Ukraine '' the annexation of Crimea, which we opposed and continue to, and the situation in Ukraine itself '' the United States, rather than choosing to go to war or choosing to enter into a series of more dangerous or other kinds of confrontational efforts, took steps to register our disapproval of what had happened and those were the sanctions.
Now, we don't seek to isolate Russia as a matter of policy, no. At that particular moment of time, there was an effort to try to make a statement about what had happened. But we have consistently said that the world is better off when Russia and the United States find common ground and an ability to be able to work together. And I think it's a sign of the maturity of both leaders and their understanding of the importance of the role they play, that despite the differences over Ukraine, we were able to work effectively to remove chemical weapons from Syria during the conflict. That has never before happened in time of war. And the decision that was made by our presidents and that Sergey and I worked on as an approach to solving a problem wound up with the OPCW winning the Nobel Prize for Peace as a result. So we cooperated.
We also cooperated on the joint efforts on Iran. And we believe the world is better because of that cooperation. We are cooperating now on Syria because Daesh is a threat to all of us and it is vital to the world that nations don't just hunker down in opposition but that they engage and find a way through communication to try to not be isolated and try not to go down predetermined roads but find a way to be able to solve the problems.
Today, we met here as a matter of good diplomacy to try to solve problems, and I believe we will continue that effort in New York on Friday. And there is no policy of the United States per se to isolate Russia. There is a policy of the United States to stand up for our principles and our values, but to try to work with Russia to join together in as constructive a way as possible to, as I said a moment ago, find the common ground.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) As for the coalition that was announced today that is formed by Saudi Arabia, as far as I understand, we all learned about it from media reports just like you. We expect that we'll get some detailed information from the sponsors of this process but also want to learn more about the discussions in Paris. John talked to this. This was a meeting of some countries that gathered in French capital to exchange views on the developments in Syria and on the tasks ahead of those who intend to settle the situation.
In principle, we assume that everybody should make their own contribution on the anti-terror track and on political track, but we want these efforts to be collective in the format that was formed in Vienna that comprises all the key stakeholders that can influence various parties to the Syrian conflict in the format that was endorsed by the UN Security Council in its recent resolution. This process applies to the terrorist list that is coordinated by Jordan, and our colleagues from Jordan have already gathered the information and asked for this information from all the ISSG members. They got information on the view of terrorist structures by various members. And currently, Jordan is circulating this information to all the members. That is the work that is underway.
It is clear that ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusrah are considered terrorist organizations. They should not be part of negotiations. They should not be part of ceasefire. As soon as the conditions are ripe, there are some other organizations that were recognized as terrorists by the majority of the ISSG members but we are to agree on this list on Friday, I hope '' on Friday in New York. And we will also continue our efforts to facilitate the UN work in its efforts to form the opposition delegation for negotiations with the government. The Vienna documents stipulate that all the ISSG members are invited to help the UN to form this delegation. And the meeting we had several days ago in Riyadh contributed to this work.
Not all the opposition groups were represented during this meeting, but let me highlight this was one of the stages of the work coordinated by the UN. The UN take account of the results of all the meetings in Moscow, in Cairo, in Astana, and recent meeting in Damascus where internal opposition met in Hasakah. So all this information will be generalized, will be analyzed by the UN, and the Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will make its '' his ideas on the makeup of the delegation that should be representative and that will cover the whole range of opponents to the regime that stand ready for the dialogue with the government based on the Geneva document.
Let me highlight that the key principle here is that it is up to the Syrians to shape the future of their country. This principle is enshrined in the Geneva communique of 2012 and it is endorsed in the Vienna documents adopted in Fall 2015.
And another aspect, talking about the need to build our efforts in a collective spirit, in an inclusive spirit. Today we met not like Russia and the U.S., excluding all other ISSG members, but we met as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group that didn't do anything secretly from other members of this group that was established after the Vienna process. We came up with an initiative to pass the UNSC resolution that will enshrine everything that was arranged in Vienna with the support of all the ISSG members. And I think that it is the approach that should be based on a collective effort, and this can lead us to success.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Kerry, you both talked about working together to find common ground. Did you feel today that there was any specific progress on narrowing the gaps on some of the most contentious issues, such as the terrorist blacklist, the composition of the opposition? And I know you decided to defer differences over Mr. Assad for now, but can you just respond to the decision by the opposition last week, which was that he should go right at the start of a political transition process? Is that something you think that can allow negotiations to even begin on that basis?
And Mr. Lavrov, the UN Humanitarian Coordinating Committee has said that the humanitarian crisis in northern Syria is growing because of increased Russian bombing, which is hitting civilians and disrupting aid flows and causing a humanitarian crisis. Can you respond to that, please?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yes, we did reach some common ground today and agreement with respect to the complexity of this issue of terrorist groups. But it's not appropriate for me to announce anything that we may have agreed to together on a bilateral basis. Because as Sergey just said, we really need to have the whole group take part in that discussion. And so it's appropriate for everybody to contribute to whatever decisions and outcomes there are. But we certainly narrowed down our own thinking about the complexity of it and how one can manage that. We obviously agree that ISIL and '' ISIL/Daesh and al-Nusrah are absolutely outside of this process no matter what. Everybody has agreed to that; that's unanimous. And beyond that, we look forward to the discussion in New York on Friday.
With respect to the announcement or proclamations of the people who came together in Riyadh, that is not the position of the International Syria Support Group. It is not the basis of the Geneva communique; it is not the basis of the UN resolution. And we are assured by the members of the International Syria Support Group who were attending that meeting and helping with that meeting and hosting that meeting that that is not, in fact, the starting position, because it's a non-starting position, obviously. So for those people who are going to participate, they understand we are participating under the Geneva communique, and the transition process is geared to try to be taking effect within about a six-month period. That's the current target that has been approved by the International Syria Support Group.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Let me adhere to what John has just mentioned. The mandate to form the opposition delegations to provide assistance to those delegation in order to shape out the platform for negotiation with the government was given to the UNSC Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. And the meeting that took place in Saudi Arabia is one of many contributions into the work of the United Nations. The frameworks for this work are the Geneva communique and two Vienna documents, which, as I mentioned, have clearly stipulated for the Syrian people to be able to define the future of their country by themselves as a result of negotiations between the government and the whole range of opposition based on mutual consent.
As regards the UN reports on the humanitarian situation in Syria, I believe you are referring to one of the latest reports, which stated that Russia's operation in Syria allegedly (inaudible) to create a suffering for the civilian population. In these statements, there were no references to concrete facts. We have asked for these facts and they weren't able to provide for such facts. And we asked the UN secretariat to be more precise in their assessments so that it could provide assessments behind which there are concrete facts and sources. Since then we haven't heard any accusations of us.
Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY:Spasibo. Thank you.
VIDEO-Metrojet Crash: ISIS Publishes Photo of Purported Russian Jet Bomb - NBC News
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 20:31
ISIS released a picture Wednesday of what it said was the improvised bomb that brought down the Russian Metrojet plane over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula last month.
The photo, showing a soda can and what appeared to be a detonator and switch, was published in the terror organization's propaganda magazine, Dabiq, with the caption: "Image of the I.E.D. used to bring down the Russian airliner."
It said "revenge was exacted upon those who felt safe in the cockpits of their jets."
NBC News has not verified the photo.
The publication came only a day after Russia said its own security agency has found traces of explosives in the debris of the Airbus A321, which crashed on October 31. killing all 224 on board. The Kremlin has announced a $50 million reward in the case.
Dabiq also published a photo of what it said were passports belonging to dead Russians "obtained by the mujahideen."
The magazine said: "After having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against ISIS, the target was changed to a Russian plane.
"A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia's thoughtless decision."
Jim Cavanaugh, former Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said the photo "looks very real."
"We're looking at a commercially-made detonator in the middle," he told NBC News.
"On the right is what looks like a switch and possibly a battery. We don't know what may or may not have acted as a timer," he said.
"If they used a reliable military-grade explosive ... a very good quality military explosive with a fast detonating rate ... then this would be enough to bring down a plane."
VIDEO-Where On Earth Are NASA's Rovers Sending Pictures From? Devon Island, Canada | Humans Are Free
Mon, 14 Dec 2015 16:01
by Alexander Light, HumansAreFree.com There is an increasing number of people who believe that NA...
by Alexander Light, HumansAreFree.comThere is an increasing number of people who believe that NASA's rovers never left the Earth in the first place, and the pictures they are allegedly sending back from Mars are taken in remote areas of our planet.
But if NASA's rovers are not on Mars, then where exactly are they?
First of all, evidence suggests that the pictures that we see on NASA's website are not even taken by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.
It is very possible that by now, both rovers are stored in a hangar, somewhere at NASA's JPL headquarters, and have been replaced by their smaller and more practical baby brothers.
Sure, if needed, they can always be taken out for a spin, but other than that, the smaller rovers are more convenient to work with.
One of the known locations where NASA is playing around with these small rovers is Devon Island, Canada.
(It's worth nothing that Devon Island is "the largest uninhabited island on Earth," which seems like a pretty good location for a fake Martian photo shoot).
Just take a look at these pictures:
NASA base in Devon Island, Canada '-- even without the color filters,it's strikingly similar to Mars, isn't it?
NASA's "baby rovers" taking pictures in Devon Island, Canada
Sure, one could think NASA just needed a place where they can simulate the conditions on Mars, but what's the point of simulating those conditions with miniature rovers, that look and work almost nothing like their bigger brothers?Their shape, size and weight are different and the wheels are worlds apart. It's really impossible to make even remotely accurate tests.
They also don't have the on board laboratories, so what's there to simulate? Except for taking pictures, the "baby rovers" look useless.
Check out the following video for further evidence (please notice the identical terrain as that from NASA's pictures):
(The video says Greenland, but it's in fact Devon Island, Canada)
The cameras mounted on the "baby rovers" have color filters already applied, but the final images '-- those that we get to download from NASA's website '-- are color-corrected even further, until they get that fake, reddish color that is so familiar to us.We have been tricked into believing the myth that Mars is the "red planet" (even though all amateur telescope pictures show otherwise), so NASA is now only perpetuating the lie.
The following is an amateur telescope picture of Mars taken on 2014, 03, 21 (source):
As you can clearly see for yourself, Mars is not read. It's light and dark brown, similar to what Earth would look like without all the water and vegetation. Here are more amateur pictures of Mars:The following is an image compilation from Antonio Cidadao (1999):Please notice that Mars has clouds and a blue atmosphere, very similar to that of our planet (source for the above and below images here '-- where you can see more examples of Mars' true colors):Now I'm not saying that we could breath on Mars like we do on Earth, but where are the blue skies in NASA's pictures? That reddish sorry excuse of an atmosphere is obviously fake.NASA admitted on numerous occasions to alter the colors of their pictures before posting them online, so that they look more like what we would see, if we were on Mars.
Here's something straight from NASA's website:
"Getting the colors right is not an exact science," says Bell. "Giving an approximate view of what we'd see if we were there involves an artistic, visionary element as well '' after all, no one's ever been there before." However, great pains are taken to be as accurate as possible, short of going there ourselves.
To give people a sense of being on Mars, scientists combine views through telescopes, data from past Mars missions, and new information from the current mission to create a color-balanced, uniform scene. Color-corrected mosaics simulate the view a person would see if all the images in the mosaic were taken on the same day, at the same moment.
In addition, the rovers can take three pictures in a row of the same surface area on Mars using three different primary color filters '' red, green, and blue '' to make one color image. "It works a little like an inkjet color printer, which combines primary colors to create various shades on paper," explains Eric De Jong, Lead for the Solar System Visualization Team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Then, we can tweak the color just like you can adjust the color balance on a TV screen at home." '-- NASA, JPL
So, there you go. NASA is clearly admitting to "color correcting," "color balancing," and even "tweaking the colors" of their images, so you can see whatever they want you to see.Does it make any sense to you? Why not simply taking pictures of the environment AS IT IS? Why changing its color into something else?
It's the same old "the government knows what's best for you" rhetoric, and the people have been tricked into blindly believing and obeying it without question.
I mean, you haven't heard anyone complaining about the "color tweaking," have you?
But the "color tweaking" is not all they are doing to the original pictures. NASA has been caught, more than once, faking entire environments of '-- allegedly '-- Mars.
In the following video (in Spanish), we can clearly see evidence of blatant tampering with the original environment (blurring specific areas and copy-pasting the same rock again and again, in over 75% of the image):
Here are a couple of pictures, for better reference (source):"Martian" anomaliesTaking all of the above into consideration, it is now easier to understand why enthusiasts find so many inconsistencies and anomalies in NASA's pictures. Let's take the following picture for example:
The media called it the "Mars rat", but this is actually an arctic lemming and it is commonly found on '-- you've guessed it '-- Devon Island.Here is a picture of the arctic lemming, taken on Devon Island:
(This picture is taken in an area with vegetation, but as you can see in the first two pictures of this article, there are plenty of barren landscapes on Devon Island). NASA's technique of coloring the whole ground so to make it look like Mars (as you will see), made the small creature look like a rock '-- until someone with a sharp eye spotted it.
In the following video, from minute 3:18 to 5:30, you can see just how easy it is to make any environment look like a Martian desert.The author of the video, Danny Wilten, takes a random picture from Earth (Ireland, to be more specific), where there is a fair amount of vegetation and even has a road with a white van on it.
In only five minutes of work, he manages to remove the car and the road, and turn all the vegetation into a barren, reddish landscape, similar to NASA's pictures of Mars:
As a final touch, he even adds a portion of the rover in the lower left corner of the edited picture, making it almost almost indistinguishable from the pictures released by NASA:Now just imagine what a Photoshop expert can do with a picture that already had color filters applied to the camera, and was taken in a controlled environment (location, lighting, exposure, etc.).I'm sure everyone remembers the following famous photo, in which we can see the rover's shadow and, right next to it, the shadow of a man in a space suit, seemingly making some adjustments:
Of course, this either means that there are already humans on Mars (which I will talk about later), or that this image was taken on Earth.Here's a picture of NASA scientist Pascal Lee, wearing an astronaut suit on Devon Island, Canada:
Quick recap: On Devon Island there's an identical landscape as the one from NASA's pictures (presented to us as Mars), they have permanent bases there, rovers fitted with cameras roaming around, and people fully geared up in astronaut suits. Corroborate this with NASA's admission about editing the pictures before releasing them to the public and the fact that they have been caught more than once faking the landscapes, and the connection becomes crystal clear: the pictures are NOT from Mars! NASA's mission to Mars is a sad joke (as you will see later on), the rovers have never left the Earth and The Powers That Be have stolen yet another $2.5 billion from the taxpayers' money, to use for their black projects.
(You should know that NASA has also used a secondary location on Earth for simulating the Martian environment, in the Mojave Desert.
In that location, they train astronauts to walk around and do their daily jobs dressed up in space suits.
It is also possible that NASA is sending their teams to various remote locations around the world, to take pictures of the barren environment '-- which they will later edit to look like Mars. They can even create fake environments altogether, by combining two or more images, or by adding/removing rocks, hills or even mountains).
NASA's rovers took some really strange pictures in the past '-- the bright orb changing position, hieroglyphs with pyramids in the background (personally, I suspect this image to be a composition from two or more pictures, and not an original landscape), a dome, etc., '-- so the following image was received as a yet another piece of evidence that Mars was not only inhabited in the past, but it continues to be even today.
Here's a recent picture, allegedly taken on Mars by the Curiosity Rover, that has caused quite a stir in the UFO community. Posted online by NASA, the following image clearly shows a disc-shaped object flying across the horizon.
Unfortunately for NASA, they cannot discard this as a weather balloon, plane, or even a bird, as they usually do, because the picture was allegedly taken on Mars. So, they either have to admit that flying saucers are real, or that these pictures are taken on Earth. A truly impossible choice!NASA is a smokescreen for an advanced secret space program
As I have presented in a previous article that you can read here, NASA is just a smokescreen for the real space program, which falls in the military domain, especially the US Navy. These guys are flying extremely advanced "anti-gravitational" space crafts, capable of very fast interstellar travel.
Gary McKinnon is a hacker that managed to break into the computers of the Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA. Among other interesting things, he found out that the US Navy has a fully operational fleet of spaceships.
In his own words, here is what he found out:
"I scanned and looked for documents, I found an Excel spreadsheet which said, 'Non-terrestrial officers'. It had ranks and names. It had tabs for 'material transfer' between ships. I took that to be, they must have a ships based in space '' the names started with U.S.S."
McKinnon is now facing a ten-year legal battle that could end up with life in prison. You can watch his interview here.And the evidence to support McKinnon's claims is truly overwhelming. For example, Ben Rich, CEO of Lockheed Skunk Works, has famously stated in 1993:
"We now have the technology to take ET home." (Read more)
Ben Rich also admitted that the extraterrestrial flying saucers are real, and our space program is built with alien technology:"There are two types of UFOs '-- the ones we build and the ones 'they' build. We learned from both crash retrievals and actual 'hand-me-downs.'"
His colleague, Don Phillips, Lockheed design engineer, CIA and USAF backed his claims. (Read more)Another Senior Scientist for Lockheed Martin and Area 51 scientist, Boyd Bushman, has openly talked about aliens stationed in Area 51 and "anti-gravity" technology, just before passing away in 2014. You can watch his testimony here.
'Captain Kaye' claimed to have spent 17 years on Mars and three years aboard an enormous space carrier.
Andrew Basiago also claimed to have been on Mars 40 times, and corroborates Captain Kaye's claims that there is an established human colony there.
Whistleblower Corey Goode claims to have been recruited through one of the MILAB programs at the age of six and personally traveled on Mars, where the Interplanetary Corporate Conglomerate (ICC)...
"...has an entire industrial infrastructure that includes bases, stations, outposts, mining operations and facilities on Mars, various moons and spread throughout the main Asteroid Belt (where a ''Super Earth Planet'' once existed). They have facilities to take raw materials and turn them into usable materials to produce both complex metals and composite materials that our material sciences have not dreamt of yet." (Source)
Laura Magdalene Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of former US President Dwight David Eisenhower, has gone on record and testified that she was targeted for recruitment for a secret space program that would have allowed her to go on Mars, where there's a secret colony of humans. (Source)Now, corroborating all these accounts, it becomes obvious that 'they' really have an advanced secret space program going on for decades and NASA is just a smokescreen for the public. Do you really think that the previously mentioned ICC would allow NASA to roam around with their rovers, taking pictures?
As an alleged, anonymous, "anti-gravity" insider, known as CaptainS, stated in 2011:
"NASA is just a front for the public. (...) The real space program falls in the military's domain, mainly Air force and Navy. But the nice chemical rockets sure are fun to watch... Very few people from NASA are actually in the loop. They don't know anything."
So, basically, NASA's role is to keep us distracted with their fake pictures from Devon Island, while the big boys have already established human colonies on Mars and who knows on how many other planets.(On a happier, sarcastic note, I guess NASA's Photoshop experts will have a bright career in tourism, when NASA will eventually be shut down).
Before concluding this article, I leave you to watch NASA's absolutely ridiculous press conference about the alleged touch down of the rovers on Martian soil.
It has bad acting, fake excitement, lots of sweat and numerous in-your-face statements about this being just a movie that you paid for ($2.5 billion, to be specific).
These guys have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, they are unable to answer any scientific questions whatsoever and the journalists definitely know volumes more about this phony mission, but hey, as the guy says, it only cost you $7/person, so you might just as well enjoy it:
Secret US Policy Blocks Agents From Looking at Social Media of Visa Applicants, Former Official Says


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