791: Shunt Unit

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 56m
January 17th, 2016
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Executive Producers: Sir Timothy Crow The Fiber Knight, Sir James Brown

Associate Executive Producers: Sir J-nonymous, Aaron, Sir Yael Ossowski Knight of the Non-Hipster Man Beard, Dimitry Rabinovich, Eric Shearer

Cover Artist: 20wattbulb

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Regarding Murdock and Hall, whatever happened to you should be able to marry who you love? A just, hypocrite
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NA Jingles iOS app updated
I updated NA Jingles w/ a few new/updated jingles from Aaron Magoffin as well as some user requests, a few bug fixes and a volume slider within the app. Here’s a link to the update:
#OscarsSoWhite
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First of all, who gives a crap?
Literally actors giving each other awards
Only the Actors category is all white, not every category
ABC is very smart, using Obama's divide and conquer strategy to win ratings
It is a secret society of democrats
The Academy does not publicly disclose its full membership, although press releases have announced the names of those who have recently been invited to join. Membership in the Academy does not expire, even if a member struggles later in his or her career.
If you want to win, Be Black, Transsexual and in a wheelchair
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Oscars 2015: Who Votes For The Academy Awards? How The Winners Are Chosen
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:47
Some will thank their families, some will thank their agents and some will thank God, but every winner at the Oscars on Sunday will thank the Academy in their speeches. So, who exactly is this mysterious voting body behind the selection of the winners of the coveted awards?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an organization of more than 7,000 accomplished filmmakers and film professionals; membership doesn't expire, even for those who are no longer active in the industry. In addition to the annual Academy Awards, the group is involved in educating up-and-coming filmmakers, film preservation and community outreach.
To become a member of the Academy you must be invited in by the Board of Governors. An existing member may submit a name for consideration by the board. These reviews occur once a year; the deadline this year is March 29. Besides being accomplished in film, a prospective member must be approved by the executive committee of the appropriate branch of the Academy. There are 17 branches ranging from directing and acting to public relations. Annette Bening (''American Beauty'') is the head of the actors branch, while Kathryn Bigelow (''The Hurt Locker'') heads the directors branch. Of course, receiving an Oscar nomination in any category is virtually a guarantee of being invited into the Academy.
Nominees for each category are selected by votes from members of the corresponding branches '' for example, only actors vote to nominate actors in acting categories. But all members vote to nominate films for the Best Picture category. After the nominations are announced, the full body of the Academy votes for the winners of every category via paper and online ballots.
A win at the Oscars is very much a show of recognition from one's peers, and considering the long process involved in selecting the lucky recipients, it is no wonder the winners are so grateful. The 87th Annual Academy Awards will air this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.
Will you be watching the Oscars Sunday? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.
Oscar voters aren't always who you might think - LA Times
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:55
Which two of these four entertainment names -- Woody Allen, George Lucas, Meat Loaf, Erik Estrada -- are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences?
It'd be understandable if you guessed Allen and Lucas: The directors made such classics as "Annie Hall" and "Star Wars."
But neither filmmaker is a member.
On the other hand, the man known for sweating on stage performing "Bat Out of Hell" and the 1970s pinup who as Frank "Ponch" Poncherello in "CHiPs" fought freeway mayhem while wearing oversized sunglasses and a tight uniform have been ensconced for years (both in the actors branch).
The academy is one of the world's most exclusive clubs, and the only way to get in is to convince the current members to give you a card. Winning an Oscar is no instant ticket to membership. Yet some people who have never been considered Academy Award contenders are granted entry.
Academy officials note that criteria vary from branch to branch and have changed over the years. They acknowledge that the process isn't perfect.
"Sometimes you scratch your head and say, 'How did he get in?' " former academy President Sid Ganis said, not referring to specific cases. "Or ... the reverse of that: How come he's not in? Or she's not in?"
An analysis of the academy's rolls by The Times shows that its membership is eclectic -- encompassing talents known for comedy, family, action and popcorn films that the august institution rarely honors.
The group includes former soap-opera star Lorenzo Lamas; 1980s comedy actors Steve Guttenberg, Cheech Marin, Judge Reinhold and Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens; "Scream" queen Neve Campbell; and action-movie fixtures Vin Diesel and Jet Li. Of course, the group cannot force people to join. Allen, a 23-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner, and Lucas, a four-time nominee and recipient of the academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, have declined membership.
Procedures for joining the academy have changed over the decades; in 2003, the organization clarified its admittance policies. There are three ways to become candidates for membership: land an Oscar nomination; apply and receive a recommendation by two members of a branch; or earn an endorsement from the branch's membership committee and staff. Membership committees must approve all new members.
"We are an organization that has been around for 85 years," academy President Tom Sherak said. "But if I sat here and you asked if every single member of the academy met those [admission] rules, I would say to you, 'No, they haven't.' Well how did they get in? Their peers voted them in.... Is everybody perfect? No."
Guttenberg had made only two films, the comedy "The Chicken Chronicles" and the Nazi-hunter drama "The Boys From Brazil," when his "Brazil" costar, actor Gregory Peck, sponsored him for academymembership in 1978.
Guttenberg, 53, said he takes his membership seriously and not only votes for the Oscars but also attends many of the group's events on film preservation and other topics. He recently finished a run on Broadway in "Relatively Speaking" (co-written, coincidentally, by Woody Allen) and said he is contemplating several screen projects.
"I find it one of the greatest honors you can have," said the "Police Academy" star, who added that the Iranian film "A Separation" was his favorite movie of 2011. "Sadly, most people just want to get the free DVDs and don't care about the preservation of film."
Rooney Mara, the star of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," was invited in 2011 despite her short list of credits, which at the time included a small role in "The Social Network" and the lead in a remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
At a recent luncheon to celebrate this year's Oscar nominees, Mara, 26, who is up for lead actress for her performance in "Dragon Tattoo," said she had "no idea" why the invite was extended to her.
Sherak said admission is granted based on a person's "body of work." But asked about Mara, Ganis said: "The actors branch somehow knew, divined, that this was a talented person whose work, of course, they had seen or she wouldn't have become a member, and then who went on to prove it."
Memberships don't expire -- which means that some people admitted early in their careers later may struggle to maintain their momentum and find membership a source of both pride and pressure.
When Lamas joined in 1981, he appeared to be an up-and-comer. He'd had a role in "Grease" and had begun work on "Falcon Crest," the prime-time soap opera. Since then, though, he has appeared mainly in lightly regarded television shows such as "Renegade" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."
The actor -- who was sponsored for membership by his parents, the actors Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl -- says he's not proud of some of his most recent credits, which also include a short-lived 2009 E! reality show about his family called "Leave It to Lamas."
"What I take away from being a member of the academy is that I'm constantly striving to continue to be accepted by this very prestigious group of people," said the actor, 54, who called this year's "The Artist" a "magnificent picture." "The last 10 to 15 years, I don't feel I've done the work that I would have liked to have done that would continue to put me in that kind of company."
A number of established cinema personalities don't care to be in that company.
Over several years, the group sent Allen numerous invitations to join. According to an academy veteran who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, Allen never responded. Finally, then-academy President Karl Malden mailed Allen a letter promising that if the director made a sizable donation to the academy's fundraising effort for its library, the group would leave him alone. He replied within a week with a check, the academy veteran said.
Allen would not comment for this article, but Eric Lax, who's written three books on the writer-director, told The Times that Allen "doesn't want to be dependent on that kind of outside approval."
Others who don't care to be members include Viggo Mortensen, who was invited in 2004 and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for "Eastern Promises." "Viggo does not like judging art officially," a spokeswoman for the actor said.
Meat Loaf, in contrast, is more than happy to be a part of the inner circle. After starring in "Crazy in Alabama," a 1999 drama in which he played a corrupt sheriff, he asked the actor Dennis Quaid to sponsor him for membership. Quaid and actor Chris Sarandon put him up.
"I think they voted me in because I have different aspects than a lot of normal academy members," said Meat Loaf, adding that "War Horse" was his favorite 2011 movie because it made him cry five times. "In that sense, I'm part of the diversity that they talk about."
--
steven.zeitchik@latimes.com
amy.kaufman@latimes.com
rebecca.keegan@latimes.com
Staff writers John Horn and Nicole Sperling contributed to this report.
Chris Rock Calls Oscars the "White BET Awards" - Hollywood Reporter
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:32
Chris Rock is joining in on the #OscarsSoWhite chatter.
When the nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced on Thursday, the lack of diversity was immediately called out on social media when, for the second year in a row, zero black actors earned nominations in any of the four major acting categories.
Now, a day later, the host of this year's awards show took to Twitter to call the Oscars by a different name. "The White BET Awards," Rock wrote in reference to the network's annual awards show while sharing a promo for the Feb. 28 Oscars telecast.
In the video, the comedian teases three reasons why viewers should tune in: "Presenter cleavage," "Check out who died this year" and "I might curse."
The #Oscars. The White BET Awards. https://t.co/8qjLR0uysI
'-- Chris Rock (@chrisrock) January 15, 2016This year, Will Smith (Concussion), Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Idris Elba (Beasts), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Straight Outta Compton and Beasts of No Nation were listed among the snubs for black actors and movies focused on black stories.
Immediately after Thursday's nominations, last year's protest hashtag got an update when #OscarsStillSoWhite began trending on Twitter.
Al Sharpton was also quick to criticize the Academy. "Hollywood has a fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies," he wrote on Twitter. "We must take direct action to correct this."
Hollywood has a fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies. We must take direct action to correct this. Talk is cheap
'-- Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 14, 2016All white Oscar nominations are another example of the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Like the Rocky Mts. The higher u climb the whiter.
'-- Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 14, 2016
VOTERS ARE INVITED BY GOUVENORS-Academy Awards - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:29
The Academy Awards, or "Oscars", is an annual American awards ceremony honoring cinematic achievements in the film industry. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Academy Award of Merit, which has become commonly known by its nickname "Oscar". The awards, first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, are overseen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).[1][2]
The awards ceremony was first televised in 1953, and is now seen live in more than 200 countries.[3] The Oscars is the oldest entertainment awards ceremony; its equivalents, the Emmy Awards for television, the Tony Awards for theatre, and the Grammy Awards for music and recording, are modeled after the Academy Awards.[4]
The 86th Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, later than usual as to not clash with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.[5] The 87th Academy Awards ceremony was held on February 22, 2015. Historically given during the first quarter of the new year, the awards honor achievements for cinematic accomplishments for the preceding year. For example, 12 Years a Slave was awarded Best Picture for 2013, although the Oscar ceremony was conducted in 2014. As of the 87th awards ceremony, held in 2015, a total of 2,947 Oscars have been awarded since the inception of the award.[6]
History[edit]The first Academy Awards presentation was held on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post-awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel.[7] The cost of guest tickets for that night's ceremony was $5 ($69 in 2016 dollars).[8] Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other participants in the film-making industry of the time, for their works during the 1927''28 period. The ceremony ran for 15 minutes.
Winners had been announced to media three months earlier; however, that was changed for the second ceremony in 1930. Since then, for the rest of the first decade, the results were given to newspapers for publication at 11:00 pm on the night of the awards.[7] This method was used until an occasion when the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began; as a result, the Academy has, since 1941, used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners.[7]
The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier; this made him the first Academy Award winner in history. At that time, the winners were recognized for all of their work done in a certain category during the qualifying period; for example, Jannings received the award for two movies in which he starred during that period, and Janet Gaynor later won a single Oscar for performances in three films. With the fourth ceremony, however, the system changed, and professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years.[7]
At the 29th ceremony, held on March 27, 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced. Until then, foreign-language films had been honored with the Special Achievement Award.
The 74th Academy Awards, held in 2002, presented the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
All Academy Awards ceremonies always end with the Best Picture award.
Oscar statuette[edit]Although there are seven other types of annual awards presented by the Academy (the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the Academy Scientific and Technical Award, the Academy Award for Technical Achievement, the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation and the Student Academy Award) plus two awards that are not presented annually (the Special Achievement Award in the form of an Oscar statuette and the Honorary Award that may or may not be in the form of an Oscar statuette), the best known one is the Academy Award of Merit more popularly known as the Oscar statuette. Made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base, it is 13.5 in (34 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.85 kg) and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.[9]
No model was used during the design process of the statuette.[10] Sculptor George Stanley (who also did the Muse Fountain at the Hollywood Bowl) sculpted Cedric Gibbons's design. The statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was abandoned in favor of britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy which is then plated in copper, nickel silver, and finally, 24-karat gold. Due to a metal shortage during World War II, Oscars were made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones.[11] The only addition to the Oscar since it was created is a minor streamlining of the base. The original Oscar mold was cast in 1928 at the C.W. Shumway & Sons Foundry in Batavia, Illinois, which also contributed to casting the molds for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Emmy Awards statuettes. Since 1983,[12] approximately 50 Oscars are made each year in Chicago by Illinois manufacturer R.S. Owens & Company.[13] It takes between three to four weeks to manufacture 50 statuettes.[10]
In support of the American effort in World War II, the statuettes were made of plaster and were traded in for gold ones after the war had ended.[14]
Naming[edit]The origin of the name Oscar is disputed. One biography of Bette Davis claims that she named the Oscar after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson;[15] one of the earliest mentions in print of the term Oscar dates back to a Time magazine article about the 1934 6th Academy Awards.[16]Walt Disney is also quoted as thanking the Academy for his Oscar as early as 1932.[17] Another claimed origin is that the Academy's Executive Secretary, Margaret Herrick, first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette's reminding her of her "Uncle Oscar" (a nickname for her cousin Oscar Pierce).[18] Columnist Sidney Skolsky was present during Herrick's naming and seized the name in his byline, "Employees have affectionately dubbed their famous statuette 'Oscar'".[19] The trophy was officially dubbed the "Oscar" in 1939 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Engraving[edit]To prevent information identifying the Oscar winners from leaking ahead of the ceremony, Oscar statuettes presented at the ceremony have blank baseplates. Until 2010, winners were expected to return the statuettes to the Academy after the ceremony and wait several weeks to have inscriptions applied. Since 2010, winners have had the option of having engraved nameplates applied to their statuettes at an inscription-processing station at the Governor's Ball, a party held immediately after the Oscar ceremony. In 2010, the R.S. Owens company made 197 engraved nameplates ahead of the ceremony, bearing the names of every potential winner. The 175 or so nameplates for non-winning nominees were recycled afterwards.[20][21]
Ownership of Oscar statuettes[edit]Since 1950, the statuettes have been legally encumbered by the requirement that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for US$1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette. Academy Awards not protected by this agreement have been sold in public auctions and private deals for six-figure sums.[22] In December 2011, Orson Welles' 1941 Oscar for Citizen Kane (Best Original Screenplay) was put up for auction, after his heirs won a 2004 court decision contending that Welles did not sign any agreement to return the statue to the Academy.[23] On December 20, 2011, it sold in an online auction for US$861,542.[24]
In 1992, Harold Russell needed money for his wife's medical expenses. In a controversial decision, he consigned his 1946 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Best Years of Our Lives to Herman Darvick Autograph Auctions, and on August 6, 1992, in New York City, the Oscar sold to a private collector for $60,500. Russell defended his action, saying, "I don't know why anybody would be critical. My wife's health is much more important than sentimental reasons. The movie will be here, even if Oscar isn't." Harold Russell is the only Academy Award winning actor to ever sell an Oscar.
While the Oscar is owned by the recipient, it is essentially not on the open market.[25]Michael Todd's grandson tried to sell Todd's Oscar statuette to a movie prop collector in 1989, but the Academy won the legal battle by getting a permanent injunction. Although some Oscar sales transactions have been successful, some buyers have subsequently returned the statuettes to the Academy, which keeps them in its treasury.[26]
Nomination[edit]Since 2004, Academy Award nomination results have been announced to the public in late January. Prior to that, the results were announced in early February.
Voters[edit]The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a professional honorary organization, maintains a voting membership of 5,783 as of 2012[update].[27]
Academy membership is divided into different branches, with each representing a different discipline in film production. Actors constitute the largest voting bloc, numbering 1,311 members (22 percent) of the Academy's composition. Votes have been certified by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (and its predecessor Price Waterhouse) for the past 73 annual awards ceremonies.[28]
All AMPAS members must be invited to join by the Board of Governors, on behalf of Academy Branch Executive Committees. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other significant contribution to the field of motion pictures.
New membership proposals are considered annually. The Academy does not publicly disclose its membership, although as recently as 2007 press releases have announced the names of those who have been invited to join. The 2007 release also stated that it has just under 6,000 voting members. While the membership had been growing, stricter policies have kept its size steady since then.[29]
In 2012, the results of a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times were published describing the demographic breakdown of approximately 88% of AMPAS' voting membership. Of the 5,100+ active voters confirmed, 94% were Caucasian, 77% were male, and 54% were found to be over the age of 60. 33% of voting members are former nominees (14%) and winners (19%).[30]
In May 2011, the Academy sent a letter advising its 6,000 or so voting members that an online system for Oscar voting will be implemented in 2013.[31]
Rules[edit]According to Rules 2 and 3 of the official Academy Awards Rules, a film must open in the previous calendar year, from midnight at the start of 1 January to midnight at the end of 31 December, in Los Angeles County, California and play for seven consecutive days, to qualify (except for the Best Foreign Language Film).[32][33] For example, the 2009 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, was actually first released in 2008, but did not qualify for the 2008 awards as it did not play its Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles until mid-2009, thus qualifying for the 2009 awards.
Rule 2 states that a film must be feature-length, defined as a minimum of 40 minutes, except for short subject awards, and it must exist either on a 35 mm or 70 mm film print or in 24 frame/s or 48 frame/s progressive scandigital cinema format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels.[34]
Producers must submit an Official Screen Credits online form before the deadline; in case it is not submitted by the defined deadline, the film will be ineligible for Academy Awards in any year. The form includes the production credits for all related categories. Then, each form is checked and put in a Reminder List of Eligible Releases.
In late December ballots and copies of the Reminder List of Eligible Releases are mailed to around 6,000 active members. For most categories, members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees only in their respective categories (i.e. only directors vote for directors, writers for writers, actors for actors, etc.). In all major categories, voters use an instant run-off voting ballot, with potential nominees rewarded in the single transferable vote tally for having strong supporters who rank them first.[35] There are some exceptions in the case of certain categories, like Foreign Film, Documentary and Animated Feature Film, in which movies are selected by special screening committees made up of members from all branches. In the special case of Best Picture, all voting members are eligible to select the nominees for that category. Foreign films must include English subtitles, and each country can submit only one film per year.[36]
The winners are then determined by a second round of voting in which all members are then allowed to vote in most categories, including Best Picture.[37]
Film companies will spend as much as several million dollars on marketing to awards voters for a movie in the running for Best Picture, in attempts to improve chances of receiving Oscars and other movie awards conferred in Oscar season. The Academy enforces rules to limit overt campaigning by its members so as to try to eliminate excesses and prevent the process from becoming undignified. It has an awards czar on staff who advises members on allowed practices and levies penalties on offenders.[38] For example, a producer of the 2010 Best Picture nominee, The Hurt Locker, was disqualified as a producer in the category when he contacted associates urging them to vote for his film and not another that was seen as front-runner (The Hurt Locker eventually won).
Ceremony[edit]Telecast[edit]The major awards are presented at a live televised ceremony, most commonly in late February or early March following the relevant calendar year, and six weeks after the announcement of the nominees. It is the culmination of the film awards season, which usually begins during November or December of the previous year. This is an elaborate extravaganza, with the invited guests walking up the red carpet in the creations of the most prominent fashion designers of the day. Black tie dress is the most common outfit for men, although fashion may dictate not wearing a bow-tie, and musical performers sometimes do not adhere to this. (The artists who recorded the nominees for Best Original Song quite often perform those songs live at the awards ceremony, and the fact that they are performing is often used to promote the television broadcast).
The Academy Awards is the only awards show that is televised live in all United States time zones (excluding Hawaii; they aired live in Alaska starting in 2011 for the first time since 1996), Canada, the United Kingdom, and gathers millions of viewers elsewhere throughout the world.[39] The 2007 ceremony was watched by more than 40 million Americans.[40] Other awards ceremonies (such as the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys) are broadcast live in the Eastern & Central time zones, but are on tape delay on the West Coast and might not air the same day outside North America (if the awards are even televised). The Academy has for several years claimed that the award show has up to a billion viewers internationally, but this has so far not been confirmed by any independent sources. The Awards show was first televised in 1953, on NBC, which continued to broadcast the event until 1960 when the ABC Network took over, televising the festivities (including the first color broadcast of the event in 1966) through 1970, after which NBC resumed the broadcasts. ABC once again took over broadcast duties in 1976 and it is under contract to do so through the year 2020.[41] The first countries to broadcast the Academy Awards on television, aside from the United States, were Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico; the latter two countries did not broadcast the live show, and Mexico did not carry the live event until 1964. By 1954, seven other countries, namely Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, were already broadcasting the Awards show, although previously filmed into a condensed 60-minute version, called the "International Edition" of the Academy Awards. The Awards show was broadcast for the first time via satellite in 1970, but only two South American countries, Chile and Brazil purchased the rights to air the live event. By that time, the television rights to the Awards show were sold in 50 countries. A decade later, the TV rights to the Oscars were already being sold to 60 countries, and by 1984, the TV rights to the Awards were licensed in 76 countries. Until the arrival of subscription television in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, which enabled the Oscars to be broadcast live through these territories, there was already available a previously filmed or taped 90-minute version of the Awards show which was aired on broadcast television in these territories. However, several Asian and Australasian countries, such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand were already carrying the live broadcast of the Awards show since the late 1970s. AMPAS still produces a condensed 90-minute version of the Academy Awards for those territories in which the rights to the live broadcast are expensive.
After more than 60 years of being held in late March or early April, the ceremonies were moved up to late February or early March starting in 2004 to help disrupt and shorten the intense lobbying and ad campaigns associated with Oscar season in the film industry. Another reason was because of the growing TV ratings success of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, which would cut into the Academy Awards audience. The earlier date is also to the advantage of ABC, as it now usually occurs during the highly profitable and important February sweeps period. Some years, the ceremony is moved into early March in deference to the Winter Olympics. Another reason for the move to late February and early March is to avoid the awards ceremony occurring so close to the religious holidays of Passover and Easter, which for decades had been a grievance from members and the general public. Advertising is somewhat restricted, however, as traditionally no movie studios or competitors of official Academy Award sponsors may advertise during the telecast. The Awards show holds the distinction of having won the most Emmys in history, with 47 wins and 195 nominations.[42]
After many years of being held on Mondays at 9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 p.m Pacific, in 1999 the ceremonies were moved to Sundays at 8:30 pm Eastern/5:30 pm Pacific.[43] The reasons given for the move were that more viewers would tune in on Sundays, that Los Angeles rush-hour traffic jams could be avoided, and that an earlier start time would allow viewers on the East Coast to go to bed earlier.[44] For many years the film industry had opposed a Sunday broadcast because it would cut into the weekend box office.[45]
Originally scheduled for April 8, 1968, the 40th Academy Awards ceremony was postponed for two days, because of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. On March 30, 1981, the 53rd Academy Awards was postponed for one day, after the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and others in Washington, D.C.
In 1993, an In Memoriam segment was introduced,[46] honoring those who had made a significant contribution to cinema who had died in the preceding 12 months, a selection compiled by a small committee of Academy members.[47] This segment has drawn criticism over the years for the omission of some names. Criticism was also levied for many years regarding another aspect, with the segment having a "popularity contest" feel as the audience varied their applause to those who had died by the subject's cultural impact; the applause has since been muted during the telecast, and the audience is discouraged from clapping during the segment and giving silent reflection instead.
In terms of broadcast length, the ceremony generally averages three and a half hours. The first Oscars, in 1929, lasted 15 minutes. At the other end of the spectrum, the 2000 ceremony lasted four hours and four minutes.[48] In 2010, the organizers of the Academy Awards announced that winners' acceptance speeches must not run past 45 seconds. This, according to organizer Bill Mechanic, was to ensure the elimination of what he termed "the single most hated thing on the show" '' overly long and embarrassing displays of emotion.[49]
The Academy has contemplated moving the ceremony even further back into January, citing TV viewers' fatigue with the film industry's long awards season. However, such an accelerated schedule would dramatically decrease the voting period for its members, to the point where some voters would only have time to view the contending films streamed on their computers (as opposed to traditionally receiving the films and ballots in the mail). Also, a January ceremony would have to compete with National Football League playoff games.[50]
Awards ceremonies[edit]Historically, the "Oscarcast" has pulled in a bigger haul when box-office hits are favored to win the Best Picture trophy. More than 57.25 million viewers tuned to the telecast for the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, the year of Titanic, which generated close to US$600 million at the North American box office pre-Oscars.[51] The 76th Academy Awards ceremony in which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (pre-telecast box office earnings of US$368 million) received 11 Awards including Best Picture drew 43.56 million viewers.[52] The most watched ceremony based on Nielsen ratings to date, however, was the 42nd Academy Awards (Best Picture Midnight Cowboy) which drew a 43.4% household rating on 7 April 1970.[53]
By contrast, ceremonies honoring films that have not performed well at the box office tend to show weaker ratings. The 78th Academy Awards which awarded low-budgeted, independent film Crash (with a pre-Oscar gross of US$53.4 million) generated an audience of 38.64 million with a household rating of 22.91%.[54] In 2008, the 80th Academy Awards telecast was watched by 31.76 million viewers on average with an 18.66% household rating, the lowest rated and least watched ceremony to date, in spite of celebrating 80 years of the Academy Awards.[55] The Best Picture winner of that particular ceremony was another independently financed film (No Country for Old Men).
In 1929, the first Academy Awards were presented at a banquet dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. From 1930 to 1943, the ceremony alternated between two venues: the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard and the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood then hosted the awards from 1944 to 1946, followed by the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles from 1947 to 1948. The 21st Academy Awards in 1949 were held at the Academy Award Theatre at what was the Academy's headquarters on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.[56]
From 1950 to 1960, the awards were presented at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre. With the advent of television, the awards from 1953 to 1957 took place simultaneously in Hollywood and New York, first at the NBC International Theatre (1953) and then at the NBC Century Theatre, after which the ceremony took place solely in Los Angeles. The Oscars moved to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California in 1961. By 1969, the Academy decided to move the ceremonies back to Los Angeles, this time to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Music Center.
In 2002, the Kodak Theatre (now known as the Dolby Theatre) became the current venue of the presentation.[57]
Awards of Merit categories[edit]Current categories[edit]In the first year of the awards, the Best Directing award was split into two separate categories (Drama and Comedy). At times, the Best Original Score award has also been split into separate categories (Drama and Comedy/Musical). From the 1930s through the 1960s, the Art Direction (now Production Design), Cinematography, and Costume Design awards were likewise split into two separate categories (black-and-white films and color films). Prior to 2012, the Production Design award was called Art Direction, while the Makeup and Hairstyling award was called Makeup.
Another award, entitled the Academy Award for Best Original Musical, is still in the Academy rulebooks and has yet to be discontinued. However, due to continuous insufficient eligibility each year, it has not been awarded since 1984 (when Purple Rain won).[58]
Discontinued categories[edit]Proposed categories[edit]The Board of Governors meets each year and considers new award categories. To date, the following proposed categories have been rejected:
Best Casting: rejected in 1999Best Stunt Coordination: rejected every year from 1991 to 2012[59][60][61][62]Best Title Design: rejected in 1999Special categories[edit]The Special Academy Awards are voted on by special committees, rather than by the Academy membership as a whole. They are not always presented on a consistent annual basis.
Current special categories[edit]Discontinued special categories[edit]Criticism[edit]Accusations of commercialism[edit]Due to the positive exposure and prestige of the Academy Awards, studios spend millions of dollars and hire publicists specifically to promote their films during what is typically called the "Oscar season". This has generated accusations of the Academy Awards being influenced more by marketing than quality. No independent films have received the award (though a few were nominated), and no actors working outside of the studio system for a picture have won the award for their work in that picture.[citation needed]William Friedkin, an Academy Award-winning film director and former producer of the ceremony, expressed this sentiment at a conference in New York in 2009, describing it as "the greatest promotion scheme that any industry ever devised for itself".[63]
Tim Dirks, editor of AMC'sfilmsite.org, has written of the Academy Awards,
Unfortunately, the critical worth, artistic vision, cultural influence and innovative qualities of many films are not given the same voting weight. Especially since the 1980s, moneymaking "formula-made" blockbusters with glossy production values have often been crowd-pleasing titans (and Best Picture winners), but they haven't necessarily been great films with depth or critical acclaim by any measure.[64]
Accusations of bias[edit]Typical criticism of the Academy Awards for Best Picture is that among the winners and nominees there is an over-representation of romantic historical epics, biographical dramas, romantic dramedies, and family melodramas, most of which are released in the U.S. the last three months of the calendar year. The Oscars have been infamously known for selecting specific genres of movies to be awarded. From 1927 to 2001 around 49% of Best Picture nominated films had been categorized as a drama and out of the 432 films to be analyzed within that time 47% of the winning films were in fact dramas.[65] This has led to the coining of the term 'Oscar bait', describing such movies. This has led at times to more specific criticisms that the Academy is disconnected from the audience, e.g. by favoring 'Oscar bait' over audience favorites, or favoring historical melodramas over critically acclaimed movies that depict current life issues.[66]
In 2015 and 2016 there were no non-white acting nominees,[67] prompting new coverage and social media response under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.[68]
Symbolism or sentimentalization[edit]Acting prizes in certain years have been criticized for not recognizing superior performances so much as being awarded for sentimental reasons,[69] personal popularity,[70] atonement for past mistakes,[71] or presented as a "career honor" to recognize a distinguished nominee's entire body of work.[72]
Refusing the award[edit]Some winners critical of the Academy Awards have boycotted the ceremonies and refused to accept their Oscars. The first to do so was Dudley Nichols (Best Writing in 1935 for The Informer). Nichols boycotted the 8th Academy Awards ceremony because of conflicts between the Academy and the Writers' Guild.[73]George C. Scott became the second person to refuse his award (Best Actor in 1970 for Patton) at the 43rd Academy Awards ceremony. Scott described it as a 'meat parade', saying 'I don't want any part of it."[74][75][76] The third was Marlon Brando, who refused his award (Best Actor for 1972's The Godfather), citing the film industry's discrimination and mistreatment of Native Americans. At the 45th Academy Awards ceremony, Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to read a 15-page speech detailing his criticisms.[73]
Associated events[edit]The following events are closely associated with the annual Academy Awards:
C(C)sar AwardNominees luncheonGovernors AwardsThe 25th Independent Spirit Awards (in 2010), usually held in Santa Monica the Saturday before the Oscars, marked the first time it was moved to a Friday and a change of venue to L.A. LiveThe annual "Night Before", traditionally held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, begun in 2002 and generally known as the party of the season, benefits the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which operates a retirement home for SAG actors in the San Fernando ValleyElton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party airs the awards live at the nearby Pacific Design CenterThe Governors' Ball is the Academy's official after-party, including dinner (until 2011), and is adjacent to the awards-presentation venueThe Vanity Fair after-party, historically at the former Morton's restaurant, since 2009 has been at the Sunset TowerPresenter and performer gifts[edit]It has become a tradition to give out gift bags to the presenters and performers at the Oscars. In recent years these gifts have also been extended to award nominees and winners.[77] The value of each of these gift bags can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. In 2014 the value was reported to be as high as US$80,000.[78] The value has risen to the point where the U.S. Internal Revenue Service issued a statement regarding the gifts and their taxable status.[79] Oscar gift bags have included vacation packages to Hawaii and Mexico and Japan, a private dinner party for the recipient and friends at a restaurant, videophones, a four-night stay at a hotel. Watches, bracelets, vacation packages, spa treatments, bottles of vodka, maple salad dressing, and weight-loss gummie candy.[77][80][81] Some of the gifts have even had a "risque" element to them; in 2014 the adult products retailer Adam & Eve had a "Secret Room Gifting Suite". Celebrities visiting the gifting suite included Judith Hoag, Carolyn Hennesy, Kate Linder, Chris Mulkey, Jim O'Heir, and NBA player John Salley.[82]
Television ratings and ad prices[edit]From 2006 onwards, results are Live+SD, all previous years are Live viewing[83]
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Disney.Go.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 25 February 2012. ^"Oscar" in the Oxford English Dictionary, June 2008 Draft Revision.^Levy, Emanuel (2003). All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards. Burns & Oates. ISBN 978-0-8264-1452-6. ^Greg Kilday (February 9, 2010), Oscar statues to include engraved names, Hollywood Reporter ^Steve Daly (February 28, 2014), Governors Ball Secrets: Welcome to the 'Engraving Station,' Where Oscar Statuettes Get Personalized, Parade Magazine ^(Levy 2003, pg 28)^Duke, Alan (December 12, 2011). "Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane' Oscar for sale". CNN. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved December 12, 2011. ^Duke, Alan (December 21, 2011). "Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane' Oscar brings $861,000". CNN. Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved April 7, 2013. ^Lacey Rose (February 28, 2005). "Psst! Wanna Buy An Oscar?". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. 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Archived from the original on 2014-03-10. Retrieved 4 October 2009. ^Levy, Emanuel (2003). All about Oscar: the history and politics of the Academy Awards '' The Career Oscars. Burns & Oates. ISBN 978-0-8264-1452-6. Retrieved 4 October 2009. ^ ab"The Oscars Did You Know?". Archived from the original on 23 June 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2009. ^"George C Scott: The man who refused an Oscar". BBC News. 23 September 1999. Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. ^"Show Business: Meat Parade". Time. 8 March 1971. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. ^"Fast Facts '' Did You Know?". Biography.com. 16 May 1929. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2010. ^ abValenti, Catherine. "No Oscar? How About a Gift Bag?". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2014-04-25. Retrieved 11 March 2014. ^Peterson, Kim. "Oscars' gift bag has $80,000 worth of swag". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 11 March 2014. ^Staff. 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ACTORS-Annette Bening - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:28
Annette Carol Bening[1] (born May 29, 1958) is an American actress. She began her career on the stage and was nominated for the 1987 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Coastal Disturbances. A four-time Academy Award-nominee for her roles in the films The Grifters (1990), American Beauty (1999), Being Julia (2004) and The Kids Are All Right (2010), she won a BAFTA Award for American Beauty and Golden Globe Awards for Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right. Her other film roles include Valmont (1989), Bugsy (1991), The American President (1995), and Running with Scissors (2006). In 2006, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance as Jean Harris in Mrs. Harris.
Early life[edit]Bening was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Shirley Katherine (n(C)e Ashley; b. 1929)[2] and Arnett Grant Bening. Her mother was a church singer and soloist, and her father was a sales training consultant and insurance salesman.[3][4][5] Her parents, natives of Iowa, were practicing Episcopalians and conservativeRepublicans. She is of mostly German and English descent.[6][7] Her sister and two brothers are Jane, Bradley and Byron. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1959, where she spent her early childhood. In 1965, her father took a job with a company in San Diego, California, and they moved there. She began acting in junior high school, playing the lead in The Sound of Music. She graduated in 1975, from Patrick Henry High School where she studied drama. She then spent a year working as a cook on a charter boat taking fishing parties out on the Pacific Ocean, and scuba diving for recreation. She attended San Diego Mesa College, then completed an academic degree in theatre arts at San Francisco State University.
Prior to becoming a film actress, Bening was a member of the acting company at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while studying acting as part of the Advanced Theatre Training Program. There, she starred in such productions as Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. Bening also starred in productions of Pygmalion and The Cherry Orchard at the Denver Center Theatre Company during 1985-86. She made her Broadway debut in 1987, garnering a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Coastal Disturbances.
Bening made her film debut in The Great Outdoors (1988). Her second film appearance was as the Marquise de Merteuil in Valmont (1989), opposite Colin Firth. Her breakthrough role was in The Grifters (1990), which starred John Cusack and Anjelica Huston, and earned Bening an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. In 1991, she portrayed Virginia Hill in Barry Levinson's biopic Bugsy, with Warren Beatty. Later, she appeared in Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford. In 1994, Bening and Beatty starred in Love Affair, which also featured Katharine Hepburn. In 1995, Bening appeared in The American President, followed by Tim Burton's sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks! (1996). In 1998, she co-starred with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis in The Siege. The biggest critical and commercial success of her career thus far was the 1999 film American Beauty, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and was directed by Sam Mendes. For this performance, Bening was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Bening also starred in the films In Dreams (1999) and What Planet Are You From? (2000). Bening played Sue Barlow, Charley Waite's love interest in Open Range. In 2004, she played the title role in Being Julia, which earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination as Best Actress. She was nominated for an Emmy Award[8] for her portrayal of Jean Harris the 2005 HBO film Mrs. Harris. In 2006, she replaced Julianne Moore to star in the film adaptation of Running with Scissors. In December of that year, Bening hosted Saturday Night Live with musical guests Gwen Stefani and Akon. In 2008, Bening starred in The Women. In 2009, Bening starred in a new interpretation of the Euripides classic Medea at UCLA's Freud Playhouse.[9] The following year she received strong reviews for her performance in the independent film Mother and Child (2009).[10] In 2010, she starred in Joanna Murray-Smith's comedy The Female of the Species at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.[11] Later that year, Bening received strong critical acclaim for her performance in The Kids Are All Right, with several reviewers noting that she "deserves an Oscar" for her "sublime" performance.[12][13] For that role, Bening won a second Golden Globe, as well as Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild nominations. In 2012, Bening's audiobook recording of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway was released at Audible.com. It was announced in May 2014 that she will join fellow Academy Award Nominee John Lithgow as Goneril in Shakespeare's King Lear at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theatre's Free Shakespeare in the Park. It will mark her first New York stage appearance in 20 years.[14][15][16]
Personal life[edit]Bening met and married choreographer J. Steven White in 1984, but they were separated in 1986 and divorced in 1991.[17] Bening married Warren Beatty on March 12, 1992, just over a year after being cast to co-star in Bugsy.[17] They have four children: sons Stephen (born January 8, 1992), Benjamin (born August 23, 1994), and daughters Isabel (born January 11, 1997), Ella (born April 8, 2000).[17] Bening was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery.[18]
Filmography[edit]Film[edit]Television[edit]Awards and recognitions[edit]Other awards[edit]2006: Ibsen Centennial Commemoration Award2014: Bening was recognized by Elle Magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film, spanning all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.[19]References[edit]^"#83 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: A Third Set of Ten Hollywood Figures (or Groups Thereof), with a Coda on Two Directors". Americanancestors.org. 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2013-01-21. ^Public Record of Shirley Bening retrieved 2/21/2015^"Annette Bening Biography (1958'')". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03. ^"Putting `Real Life' First Makes Bening A Better Actress". Nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21. ^"Annette Bening Biography". TV Guide. 1958-05-29. Retrieved 2011-02-23. ^Dutka, Elaine (1999-02-21). "The Aura of Annette; If She Makes the Merging of Career and Family Appear Effortless, It's an Illusion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-04-29. ^Desson Thomson (October 24, 2004). "Annette Bening, Acting on Her Maternal Instincts". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-03. ^"Annette Bening Emmy Nominated". Emmys.com. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-01-21. ^"UCLA Live's new season: Annette Bening stars in world premiere". Los Angeles Times. June 3, 2009. ^A. O. Scott (2010-05-07). "In a Melancholy Los Angeles, 'La Ronde' of Motherhood". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-23. ^"She's So Under the Gun, She Can't Leave Her Desk". New York Times. March 1, 2010. ^"At the Movies: The Kids Are All Right". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2011-02-23. ^"Marc Fennell: the circle: going the distance & the kids are alright". Marcfennell.blogspot.com. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2011-02-23. ^David Gordon (2014-05-20). "Annette Bening, Jessica Hecht, and More Will Join John Lithgow in Shakespeare in the Park's King Lear". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved 2015-09-19. ^[1][dead link]^"Annette Bening, Jessica Collins, Jessica Hecht Will Be John Lithgow's Daughters in King Lear". Playbill.com. 2014-05-20. Retrieved 2015-09-19. ^ abc"Biography for Annette Bening". Yahoo.com. ^"Kevin Smith". Universal Life Church Ministers. 2014-11-20. Retrieved 2015-09-19. ^http://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/g8789/women-in-hollywood-2014/External links[edit] Awards for Annette Bening
1952''1967Vivien LeighBritish, Simone SignoretForeign (1952)Audrey HepburnBritish, Leslie CaronForeign (1953)Yvonne MitchellBritish, Cornell BorchersForeign (1954)Katie JohnsonBritish, Betsy BlairForeign (1955)Virginia McKennaBritish, Anna MagnaniForeign (1956)Heather SearsBritish, Simone SignoretForeign (1957)Irene WorthBritish, Simone SignoretForeign (1958)Audrey HepburnBritish, Shirley MacLaineForeign (1959)Rachel RobertsBritish, Shirley MacLaineForeign (1960)Dora BryanBritish, Sophia LorenForeign (1961)Leslie CaronBritish, Anne BancroftForeign (1962)Rachel RobertsBritish, Patricia NealForeign (1963)Audrey HepburnBritish, Anne BancroftForeign (1964)Julie ChristieBritish, Patricia NealForeign (1965)Elizabeth TaylorBritish, Jeanne MoreauForeign (1966)Edith EvansBritish, Anouk Aim(C)eForeign (1967)1968''presentThe Full Monty (1997) : Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Robert Carlyle, Deirdre Costello, Steve Huison, Bruce Jones, Lesley Sharp, William Snape, Hugo Speer, Tom Wilkinson, Emily WoofShakespeare in Love (1998) : Ben Affleck, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Antony Sher, Imelda StauntonTraffic (2000) : Steven Bauer, Benjamin Bratt, James Brolin, Don Cheadle, Erika Christensen, Clifton Collins, Jr., Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Miguel Ferrer, Albert Finney, Topher Grace, Luis Guzmn, Amy Irving, Tomas Milian, D. W. Moffett, Dennis Quaid, Peter Riegert, Jacob Vargas, Catherine Zeta-Jones
ACTORS-RACISM WATCH-Ed Begley, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:27
For his father, see Ed Begley.Edward James "Ed" Begley, Jr. (born September 16, 1949) is an American actor and environmentalist. Begley has appeared in hundreds of films, television shows, and stage performances. He is best known for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich, on the television series St. Elsewhere, for which he received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations, and his most recent reality show about green living called Living With Ed on Planet Green with his wife.
Early life[edit]Begley was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Allene Jeanne Sanders and Academy Award-winner Ed Begley, both actors. At the time of Ed, Jr.'s birth, his father was married to Amanda Huff, who died when he was seven; he believed Amanda to be his biological mother until he was sixteen, and only later became acquainted with Allene.[1][2] His paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants. Begley grew up in Buffalo, New York, and attended Stella Niagara Education Park Cadet School in Lewiston, New York. In 1962 the family moved back to California, where he graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, and Los Angeles Valley College in North Hollywood.[3]
Acting career[edit]Begley's numerous works in television and film include one of his earliest appearances as a guest actor on Maude. He had recurring roles on Mary Hartman, 7th Heaven, Arrested Development, Meego and Six Feet Under and starring roles in Stephen King'sKingdom Hospital,St. Elsewhere, and Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central). He has played significant roles in the mockumentary films Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. Additionally, Begley played Viper pilot Greenbean on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, Boba Fett in the radio adaptation of Return of the Jedi, and Seth Gillette, a fictional Democratic U.S. senator from North Dakota in the television drama The West Wing. In 1995, he played The Riddler's boss in Batman Forever but is uncredited[citation needed]. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 1996, Begley appeared in a TV movie called The Late Shift, where he played real-life CBS executive Rod Perth. Perth himself appears briefly in a cameo role (as a man Howard Stringer mistakes for Perth in the CAA lobby). Begley Jr. and Perth share an extraordinary physical resemblance, something the film makers milk for humor in the scene.
He has guest-starred on shows such as Scrubs, Boston Legal, and Star Trek: Voyager (Future's End, parts I and II). He had a recurring guest role in season three of Veronica Mars. Most recently, he appeared in the 2008 HBO film Recount, which profiled the 2000 Presidential Election and its aftermath, which was decided by the state of Florida's electoral votes. Begley also made an appearance on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season 3, Episode 3, as a spokesman for Cinco.
In 2003, Begley wrote and directed the musical Cesar and Ruben. It was performed at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles and was revived in 2007.
One of Begley's recent acting roles was in the CBS sitcom Gary Unmarried. Begley played Dr. Walter Krandall, the protagonist's former marriage counselor and fianc(C) of his ex-wife.
Since 2008, he has appeared in a series of DirecTV commercials as a "Cable Corp Inc." executive.[4] In 2013, he appeared on the reality television show Beverly Hills Pawn.
Personal life[edit]Begley has three children, a daughter and son from his first marriage, and a daughter from his current marriage.
According to a feature on the Bio Channel television program Celebrity Close Calls, Begley nearly died in 1972, after being stabbed multiple times while being mugged by a street gang. His attackers were teenagers, who were later apprehended by police.[5]
Activism[edit]Environmental[edit]Since 1970, he has been an environmentalist, beginning with his first electric vehicle (a Taylor-Dunn, golf cart''like vehicle),[6]recycling, and becoming a vegan.[7] He promotes eco-friendly products like the Toyota Prius, Envirolet composting toilets and Begley's Best Household Cleaner.
Begley's home is 1,585 square feet (147.3 m2) in size using solar power and also uses wind power via a PacWind vertical-axis wind turbine, an air conditioning unit made by Greenway Design Group, LLC., and an electricity-generating bicycle used to toast bread, and he pays around $300 a year in electric bills.[8] Arguing that the suburban lawn is environmentally unsustainable, especially in Southern California, owing to water shortage, he has converted his own to a drought-tolerant garden composed of native California plants.[9] Though he is noted for riding bicycles and using public transportation, he owns a 2003 Toyota RAV4 EVelectric-powered vehicle.
His hybridelectric bicycle was often featured on his television show Living With Ed. Begley also spoofed his own environmentalist beliefs on "Homer to the Max", an episode of The Simpsons by showing himself using a nonpolluting go-cart that is powered by his "own sense of self-satisfaction" and on an episode of Dharma and Greg. Later, he appeared in "Gone Maggie Gone", another episode of The Simpsons, in Season 20. In the episode, during a solar eclipse, he drives a solar-powered car that stops running on train tracks as a train approaches, but the train also stops because it is an Ed Begley Jr. Solar Powered Train. According to Groening's other comedy series, Futurama, Ed Begley Jr.'s electric motor is "the most evil propulsion system ever conceived" as stated in "The Honking" (19 minutes in).
Begley and friend Bill Nye are in a competition to see who can have the lowest carbon footprint.[10]
Begley also appeared in the Earth Day edition of The Price Is Right. He announced the final showcase, which included an electric bicycle, a solar-powered golf cart and a Toyota Prius.
Begley was featured during The Jay Leno Show's Green Car Challenge. Various celebrities drove an electric Ford Focus automobile and tried to set records on an outdoor track. During the second lap, cutouts of Begley and Al Gore would pop out, and if the celebrity had hit either of them, one second was added to his or her time.
Begley is the author of Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life (2008) and Ed Begley, Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living: Learning to Conserve Resources and Manage an Eco-Conscious Life (2009) both published by Random House.[11][12] He also wrote A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays (2014) with Jerry James Stone.[13]
Environmental affiliations[edit]From 2007''2010, Begley and his wife Rachelle Carson starred in their own reality television series, Living With Ed on HGTV and Discovery's Planet Green channel.[18] He, his wife and daughter Hayden are currently filming "On Begley Street", a Web series chronicling the deconstruction of his current home and the "building of North America's greenest, most sustainable home".[19]
He received the Thomas Alva Edison Award for Energy Independence from the American Jewish Congress, the first one to be presented. Begley has been a leader in this field and was recognized in November 2007 for his lifelong work in environmentalism.
Political[edit]Begley was also on the advisory committee for the group 2004 Racism Watch, founded by fellow actor Ed Asner. The group was formed to respond to the advertisement campaign of the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney presidential campaign that they claimed were encouraging racism. The advertisement in question, ''100 Days'', made a reference to terrorism and terrorists while highlighting a photograph of an anonymous man of Middle-Eastern descent.[20][21]
Water fluoridation[edit]On April 19, 2013, two public service announcements about the hazards of water fluoridation were released featuring Begley made in conjunction with the Fluoride Action Network.[22][23]
Friendship with Norman Lloyd[edit]Before St. Elsewhere, in the early 1980s, the struggling, unfamiliar Begley Jr. met Norman Lloyd, who became a mentor to him, while Lloyd was directing an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. The two became friends. Begley said he enjoyed working with the man, who in turn, had greater respect for him. In a 2014 interview with Jimmy Falcon of Cloverleaf Radio, he said about working with Lloyd, for all six seasons on St. Elsewhere, and seeing him, once the series came to a close was:
Not only did I enjoy working with him, but I see him, fairly regularly, I just had dinner with him, 4 nights ago. We had dinner together at Sarah Nichols's house, his neighbor of mine and friend of his. We had a lovely time and reminisced '' he's unbelievable. He's going to be 100 years old, this year, and still very active, getting around on his own. He's a force of nature, so Norman Lloyd was somebody I idolized. When I was quite young, wow James Dean is great and this is one and that. Now look at Janis Joplin, what a great voice and Jim Morrison, those people left us so young, like my point of view has change somewhere, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, saying, 'No, you idolized Jimmy Stewart, Gloria Swanson.' The people that have families and happiness and a long, economy life. You know, Norman Lloyd, he wasn't much older than me, when I did 'St. Elsewhere,' and I went 'These are my rolemodels, now, people had a long/happy life and continued to be creative.' Those are my rolemodels, not the people that left us, so early and I'm sorry they did, I don't mean to trifle with that, but, my rolemodels changed from the people who had an incredible, brief spurt of creativity and life, but to people that went the distance, they became my rolemodels at some point in my early 30s really.[24]
Also, on November 9, 2014, along with former St. Elsewhere co-stars Howie Mandel, David Morse and Stephen Furst, Begley attended the 100th Birthday of their acting mentor and decades-long friend, Norman Lloyd, in Los Angeles, California. Upon celebrating Lloyd's centenarian birthday, Begley said, "I worked with Norman Lloyd the actor, and Norman Lloyd the director, and no one informed me better on the art of storytelling than that talented man. He is a constant inspiration and my eternal friend."[25]
Filmography[edit]The Lottery (1969), Jack WatsonThe Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), uncredited panelistMillion Dollar Buff Adam-12 (1971), BudMannix (1972), Desk clerk at country clubNow You See Him, Now You Don't (1972), DruffleCockfighter (1972), Tom PeeplesCharley and the Angel (1973), Derwood MosebyRoll Out (1973), Lieutenant Robert ChapmanShowdown (1973), PookSuperdad (1974), The GangStay Hungry (1976), LesterDead of Night (1977), FrankHandle with Care (1977), The PriestBlue Collar (1978), Bobby JoeBattlestar Galactica (1978), Flight sergeant GreenbeanWonder Woman (1978), HaroldRecord City (1978), PokeyGoin' South (1978), Whitey HaberColumbo: How to Dial a Murder (1978), Officer SteinThe One and Only (1978), The KingAmateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (1979), Moss TillisElvis (1979), D. J. FontanaM*A*S*H (1979), Pvt. Paul Conway (a gourmet cook assigned as an infantryman)Hardcore (1979), Actor in a pornographic film within a filmHot Rod (1979), ClayThe Concorde ... Airport '79 (1979), Rescuer #1The In-Laws (1979), Barry LutzA Shining Season (1979), John HaalandPrivate Lessons (1981), Jack TravisBuddy Buddy (1981), Lieutenant #1Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (1982), JebAn Officer and a Gentleman (1982), Voice of Altitude Chamber InstructorCat People (1982), Joe CreighEating Raoul (1982), HippieYoung Doctors in Love (1982), Lyle AugustNot Just Another Affair (1982), Warren KrantzSt. Elsewhere (1982''1988), Dr. Victor EhrlichStill the Beaver (1983), WhiteyGet Crazy (1983), Colin BeverlyStreets of Fire (1984), Ben GunnProtocol (1984), Mr. HasslerThis Is Spinal Tap (1984), John "Stumpy" PepysThe Pound Puppies (1985), Arnold FistTransylvania 6-5000 (1985), Gil TurnerAmazon Women on the Moon (1987), GriffinRoman Holiday (1987), Leonard LupoTall Tales & Legends: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1987), Ichabod CraneSpies, Lies & Naked Thighs (1988), AlanThe Absent-Minded Professor (1988), Dr. Jack BrookerThe Accidental Tourist (1988), Charles LearyScenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989), PeterShe-Devil (1989), Bob PattchetNot a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1990), Stephen BradleyIn the Best Interest of the Child (1990), Lawyer Howard FeldonMeet the Applegates (1990), Richard ApplegateThe Great Los Angeles Earthquake (1990), Jerry SolowayChance of a Lifetime (1991), DarrelThe Story Lady (1991), OtisIn the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion (1992), Lt. Fred HouseDark Horse (1992), Jack MillsRunning Mates (1992), Chapman SnowExclusive (1992), AllenMastergate (1992), Steward ButlerBatman: The Animated Series (1992), (Episode: Joker's Favor) Charlie Collins; (Episode: Feat of Clay) GermsCooperstown (1993), Dave CormeerEven Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), RupertWorld War II: When Lions Roared (1994), Harry HopkinsColumbo: Undercover (1994), Irving KrutchRenaissance Man (1994), Jack MarkinThe Pagemaster (1994), Alan TylerThe Magic School Bus (1994), Logaway LarryGreedy (1994), Carl McTeagueIncident at Deception Ridge (1994), Jack DavisSensation (1994), Earl StrauberThe Shaggy Dog (1994), Ron DanielsThe Crazysitter (1995), Paul Van ArsdaleStorybook (1995), Pouch (voice)Shining Time Station: Once Upon a Time (1995), Ned KincaidBatman Forever (1995), Fred Stickley (uncredited)Hourglass (1996), Det. Cecil DishTouched by an Angel (1996), Chris CarpenterProject ALF (1996), Dr. WarnerThe Late Shift (1996), Rod PerthSanta with Muscles (1996), Ebner FrostStar Trek: Voyager (1996), Henry StarlingSabrina, the Teenage Witch (1997), Mr. James T. RothwellThe Drew Carey Show (1997), Dr. Chris VanderkampNot in This Town (1997), Henry WhitcombThe Student Affair (1997), Harvey DankworthMs. Bear (1997), Greg BradleyAlone (1997), GeraldJoey (1997), Ambassador Ted RossI'm Losing You (1998), ZevAddams Family Reunion (1998), Dr. Phillip Adams (of the single "D" Adams')Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (1998), Fitz-Gilbert HamiltonThe Simpsons '' Homer to the Max (1998), Himself7th Heaven (1999''2003), Dr. Hank HastingsHomicide: The Movie (2000), Dr. Victor EhrlichBatman Beyond (2000), (Episode: April Moon) Dr. Peter CorsoBest in Show (2000), Mark SchaferGet Over It (2001), Frank LandersHounded (2001), Ward Van DusenAnthrax (2001), Brent KrawfordDiary of a Sex Addict (2001), Dr. Aaron SpencerSix Feet Under (2001, 2005), Hiram GundersonBack by Midnight (2002), Robert WadeBug (2002), The Dept. of Health Inspector/'The Hand'Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central) (2002), Paul WefflerAuto Focus (2002), Mel RosenThe Weakest Link (2002), Himself (NBC All-Stars Edition, Winner)War Stories (2003), Ed O'BrianNet Games (2003), John FieldingA Mighty Wind (2003), Lars OlfenGoing Down (2003), Oscar EarnestStateside (2004), Father ConcoffRaising Genius (2004), Dr. Curly WeeksHair High (2004), Rev. Sidney Cheddar (voice)Life on Liberty Street (2004), Richard SpencerKingdom Hospital (2004), Dr. Jesse JamesStatic Shock (2004) Donald Todd; 2 episodesAlone in a Crowd (2005), UnknownDesolation Sound (2005), Doug ShepardSpirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story (2005), Frank PerdueArrested Development (2005''2006, 2013), Stan SitwellEco 4 the World (2006), HimselfMeego (2006), Dr. Edward ParkerRelative Strangers (2006), Mr. ManoireFor Your Consideration (2006), Sandy LaneThe Elder Son (2006), LeonardPittsburgh (2006), HimselfVeronica Mars (2006''2007), Dean Cyrus O'DellOne Long Night (2007), JoelLiving with Ed (2007, 2009), HimselfCSI: Miami (2007, 2011), Supervisor O' ShayNext of Kin (2008), PatrickBalancing the Books (2008), Rev. VernonFly Me to the Moon (2008), Poopchev (voice)Recount (2008), David BoiesPineapple Express (2008), Robert AndersonGary Unmarried (2008''2009), Dr. Walter KrandallClimate Refugees (2009), DocumentaryGeorgia O'Keeffe (2009), Stieglitz's brother LeeHe's Such a Girl (2009), Taylor's FatherTripping Forward (2009), JamesHannah Montana '' Would I Lie To You, Lilly? (2009), WoodyThe Suite Life on Deck '' The Swede Life (2009), Mayor RagnarWhatever Works (2009), John CelestineMonk '' Mr. Monk and the End: Part 1 (2009), Dr. Malcolm NashBig Time Rush (2010), Himself$#*! My Dad Says (2011), TerryHappy Endings (2012), HimselfThe Office (2013), Erin's dadMuhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013), Harry BlackmunFamily Tree (2013), Al ChadwickOver Troubled Waters (2013), DocumentaryBetas (2013''2014), George MurchisonRegular Show (2014), Mordecai's dadPortlandia (2015), Dr. RavichYour Family or Mine (2015), GilReferences[edit]^"Ed Begley, Jr. Biography (1949-)". filmreference.com. ^Koenenn, Connie (April 14, 1996). "Rooted to the Cause; Ed Begley Jr. shines in a world in which some stars are environmentalists only when the cameras are on. He lives what he preaches". ^Hollywood.com, Ed Begley, Jr. at the Wayback Machine (archived March 21, 2008)^Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. talks the talk and drives the drive, New York Daily News, 13 October 2008.^Celebrity Close Calls, retrieved on 19 June 2011.^"Ed Begley, Jr.". thefreelibrary.com. ^"Ed Begley Jr.: Actor and Environmentalist". VegFamily. Retrieved 2008-08-19. ^The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 25 April 2008.^Begley, Ed Jr. "Twelve Things the World Should Toss Out: Lawns", Slate, 8 May 2010.^ABC News. "Eco-Friendly Competition: Who Can Go Greener?". ABC News. ^Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life at RandomHouse.com^Ed Begley, Jr. Author Bookshelf - Random House - Books - Audiobooks - Ebooks. Random House. Retrieved on 2014-01-14.^Andrews, Avital (March 2015). "Taste Test: 9 Chefs who are Changing the World". Sierra. ^"EMA - EMA". ema-online.org. ^Oceana '' Protecting the World's Oceans: International Protection and Restoration^"Sequoia ForestKeeper". sequoiaforestkeeper.org. ^"GreenWishing". greenwishing.com. ^"Living With Ed". HGTV.com. Archived from the original on 2006-12-21. Retrieved 2006-12-27. ^"About". OnBegleyStreet.com. ^"2004 Racism Watch Calls On Bush-Cheney Campaign to Change or Pull Offensive Ad". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2008-10-04. ^2004 Racism Watch. Commondreams.org (2004-03-31). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.^Ed Begley Jr: Many Studies Link Fluoride to Reduced IQ on YouTube (2013-04-19). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.^Ed Begley Jr: Fluoridation is a "Clumsy Form of Medicine" on YouTube (2013-04-19). Retrieved on 2014-01-14.^"Cloverleaf Radio Presents: Actor Ed Begley Jr "St. Elsewhere"!". BlogTalkRadio. 17 February 2014. ^"Happy 100th to Norman Lloyd: The Ultimate Pro". yesweekly.com. External links[edit]
SOWHITE IS OSCAR PR-The Academy on Twitter: ".@ChrisRock's Top 3 Reasons To Watch The #Oscars https://t.co/xfdm6LTew5"
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:25
TwitterHTTP/1.1 200 OK cache-control: no-cache, no-store, must-revalidate, pre-check=0, post-check=0 content-encoding: gzip content-language: en content-length: 5213 content-security-policy: default-src 'self'; connect-src 'self'; font-src 'self' data:; frame-src https://*.twitter.com https://*.twimg.com twitter: https://www.google.com; frame-ancestors https://*.twitter.com; img-src https://twitter.com https://*.twitter.com https://*.twimg.com https://maps.google.com https://www.google-analytics.com https://stats.g.doubleclick.net https://www.google.com data:; media-src https://*.twitter.com https://*.twimg.com https://*.cdn.vine.co; object-src 'self'; script-src 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval' https://*.twitter.com https://*.twimg.com https://www.google.com https://www.google-analytics.com https://stats.g.doubleclick.net; style-src 'unsafe-inline' https://*.twitter.com https://*.twimg.com; report-uri https://twitter.com/i/csp_report?a=O5SWEZTPOJQWY3A%3D&ro=false; content-type: text/html;charset=utf-8 date: Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:25:21 GMT expires: Tue, 31 Mar 1981 05:00:00 GMT last-modified: Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:25:21 GMT pragma: no-cache server: tsa_b set-cookie: _mobile_sess=BAh7ByIKZmxhc2hJQzonQWN0aW9uQ29udHJvbGxlcjo6Rmxhc2g6OkZsYXNoSGFzaHsABjoKQHVzZWR7ADoQX2NzcmZfdG9rZW4iJTJiMTU1NDc4ZTQ1ZTE2N2FiMTZlNTJiN2YxYWMwM2Nk--964e9aff69d2419012d6d0e32a7e7f4b5dcd813b; Expires=Thu, 17 Mar 2016 05:25:21 GMT; Path=/; Domain=.twitter.com; Secure; HTTPOnly set-cookie: _twitter_sess=BAh7CCIKZmxhc2hJQzonQWN0aW9uQ29udHJvbGxlcjo6Rmxhc2g6OkZsYXNo%250ASGFzaHsABjoKQHVzZWR7ADoPY3JlYXRlZF9hdGwrCO96C05SAToHaWQiJWZi%250AZmNmY2RmMjY5MjZkMTc3YjU3Y2MwYzBjYjE4NGUz--96df90aaac7f067ac47f59b7d9881c7746101cb2; Path=/; Domain=.twitter.com; Secure; HTTPOnly set-cookie: ua="m2,msw"; Expires=Sun, 17 Jan 2016 06:25:21 GMT; Path=/; Domain=.twitter.com; Secure; HTTPOnly strict-transport-security: max-age=631138519 vary: Accept-Encoding x-connection-hash: e96c199c9aebbd7fb5a43508906292af x-content-type-options: nosniff x-frame-options: SAMEORIGIN x-response-time: 115 x-transaction: cd355cdec8be19f0 x-twitter-response-tags: BouncerCompliant x-xss-protection: 1; mode=block
Voting | Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:23
NOMINATIONS VOTING PROCESSRegular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in a wide variety of categories. Most categories are nominated by the members of the corresponding branch''actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. However, certain categories such as Foreign Language Film and Animated Feature Film have special voting rules which can be viewed at our Rules & Eligibility page.
All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
Nominations voting is conducted using both paper and online ballots, with online voting being the preferred choice for the overwhelming majority of Academy members. Voting for nominations begins in late December, and all votes are tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Nomination results are then announced at a live televised press conference in mid-January at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Final Balloting ProcessFinals voting is also conducted via online and paper ballots.
During finals, all Oscar categories are on the ballot for voting members.
After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the famous envelopes are opened onstage during the Oscars telecast.
#OscarsSoWhite-Oscars 2016: Academy selects an all-white group of acting nominees -- again - LA Times
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 03:20
It's another embarrassing Hollywood sequel: For the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated an all-white group of acting nominees.
This year's list of Oscar nominees passes over popular, well-reviewed performances in the movies ''Creed'' and ''Straight Outta Compton'' and excludes prominent actors of color in 2015 films including Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith.
Oscars 2016: Full Coverage | Complete list | Snubs, surprises and reactions | Top nominee photos
The news again provoked an outcry and raised fresh questions over a familiar issue: whether an industry that prides itself on its progressiveness remains stubbornly stuck in the past.
''For the two black movies that made over $100 million at the box office, touched a nerve and are artistically fresh, only white people were nominated. How does that work?'' asked producer and academy member Stephanie Allain, referring to ''Creed'' and ''Compton.''
The homogeneous group of 20 acting nominees comes as the academy is in the midst of a major push to diversify its membership and is fighting to remain relevant in a demographically changing world.
For the academy, the issue isn't just about perception, but also business '-- the nonprofit relies on television rights to the Oscar telecast as its primary source of revenue and wants to draw the broadest possible viewership.
The academy drew a strong backlash last year after it selected an all-white batch of acting nominees. The group's acting branch, which makes those choices, bypassed David Oyelowo, who gave what many thought was the best performance of the year as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in ''Selma.''
The civil rights film also failed to land a slot on the director list, spurring the social-media movement #OscarsSoWhite and a pledge from the academy to do better.
But where the 2014-15 controversy mainly involved one film and could be explained away by campaign-specific factors, the feeling in Hollywood this time around is different. Academy members this year had numerous movies to draw from and still ended up with an all-white ballot.
In June, the academy invited 322 new members, an unusually large and demographically broad group that reflected a move toward ''a normalization of our membership to represent both the industry and the country as a whole,'' academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said at the time. And in November, Boone Isaacs announced a new initiative, A2020, designed to promote inclusion within its staff.
The academy's board of governors has also tapped a black host for its Feb. 28 telecast, comedian Chris Rock, and a black producer, Reginald Hudlin, who is sharing duties with David Hill. This fall, the group honored African American director Spike Lee with a governor's award.
But despite the academy leadership's very public efforts at inclusion, the larger body has proved slow to change. On the subject of diversity, the film world is lagging television, where a record 18 black performers were nominated for Emmy Awards last year.
''On every measure, film is a couple steps behind TV,'' said Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. ''This is, unfortunately, a reflection of the academy itself. The academy is white and male, so we have a taste culture that's only going to recognize certain types of projects.''
And the academy will continue to be dominated by older white men for years to come. The 6,261 Oscar voters serve for life, so even large new classes only move the needle incrementally.
''I do think it's a reflection of the unique makeup of the academy,'' said ''Compton'' screenwriter Jonathan Herman, who with Andrea Berloff was nominated for original screenplay, when asked about the ''Compton'' best picture snub. ''It's started to change, and hopefully it keeps changing.'' But, he added, ''it does take time.''
Even with a revamped base, it remains unclear whether the academy could ever fully effect changes at the ballot. Nominations are chosen by relatively small groups known as branches '-- the biggest, actors, is still made up of fewer than 1,300 people '-- and the question of how to increase the inclusiveness of their voting is a tricky one, particularly in an industry where friendships and loyalties run deep.
''I thought 'Compton' was going to get a picture nomination and was disappointed it didn't,'' said producer Steve Golin, a best picture nominee for both ''Spotlight'' and ''The Revenant.'' ''But part of the problem I think is there are not that many movies that have a racial mix. I don't think people vote [based on] race. It comes from the movies '-- if there were more that were racially diverse, I think we'd see more balance at the Oscars.''
For now, the academy faces an optics challenge when the ceremony is telecast on ABC to millions around the world on Feb. 28 '-- many hosts and presenters are black, but the winners to whom they are handing out statuettes are overwhelmingly white.
At last year's telecast, host Neil Patrick Harris attempted to defuse that awkwardness when he opened the show by joking, ''Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest. Sorry, brightest.''
The whiteness of the academy's choices this year are particularly notable because they stand in contrast with those by the major industry unions '-- both the Screen Actors and Producers guilds nominated ''Straight Outta Compton'' for their top prizes, and SAG also nominated the Elba film, a child-soldier drama titled, ''Beasts of No Nation,'' for its cast and Elba for supporting actor.
When movies driven by black actors and directors were nominated by the Oscars, however, it was for the work of their white colleagues.
Sylvester Stallone was nominated for supporting actor for his performance in Warner Bros.' ''Creed,'' but the film's black writer-director, Ryan Coogler, and black star, Michael B. Jordan, were not.
Despite Universal Pictures mounting a robust awards campaign for its summer blockbuster ''Straight Outta Compton,'' neither that film's director, F. Gary Gray, nor any of its black lead actors was nominated.
The academy also passed over Jackson, who had campaigned for Quentin Tarantino's ''The Hateful Eight'' and Smith, who fronts the movie ''Concussion.''
''Look, it's dismal,'' said director Liz Garbus, who was nominated for her documentary feature ''What Happened, Miss Simone?'' ''The numbers are dismal.... But it's also truth. It's the truth about where the money is going and who's getting the jobs and who is getting the support.''
April Reign, a former attorney and managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com who created the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in response to last year's nominees, said she feels social-media activism around the issue is having an impact.
''Instead of watching the Oscars last year, we live-tweeted 'Coming to America,' and we're going to be doing something similar this year,'' Reign said. ''The Oscars telecast was the lowest ranked in the last [six] years, and we like to think we had something to do with that.''
Times staff writers Tre'vell Anderson and Mark Olsen contributed to this report.
MORE:
Full coverage: Oscars 2016
Oscars 2016: List of nominees
How much do you know about Academy Awards history? Take our quiz
Photo gallery: Awkward Oscar moments
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Elections 2016
Bernie Sanders lawyers to Wikipedia: Take down our logo, you're violating DMCA [Updated] | Ars Technica
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 14:32
A lawyer representing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has demanded that several of the campaign's logos be removed from Wikipedia, saying that reproducing the logos violate copyright law. The Wikimedia Foundation has complied with the DMCA takedown notice and removed the notices.
It's fairly surprising that the campaign would seek to ban wide distribution of its logos, which are clearly positive advertising for the campaign. It's even more surprising that after getting a call from the Wikimedia Foundation, the Sanders campaign didn't back down or blame an overzealous volunteer attorney'--the campaign confirmed it wants Wikipedia to comply with the notice and not publish its logos.
Further Reading"We also contacted the attorneys representing the Bernie Sanders campaign to discuss the issue, and they asked that WMF carry out a takedown in compliance with the DMCA rather than work with the community to update the licensing information or allow the images," wrote Wikimedia community manager James Alexander on a discussion page about the Sanders DMCA notices.Update 5:45pm: Alexander now says on the Wikimedia discussion page that the campaign has withdrawn the DMCA notice, but there's still no official word on the matter from either the campaign or the Wikimedia Foundation.
Observers have noted that it's debatable whether logos qualify for copyright protection at all. Even if they do, Wikipedia commentary about a political campaign seems like a crystal-clear example of fair use. Most of all, it's unclear why Sanders' lawyers think that removing their logos from a nonprofit site like Wikipedia would help the campaign.
Several logos were removed, including the "Feel The Bern" car magnet pictured above, which is sold for $10 at the berniesanders.com store. The takedown was publicized yesterday on Twitter by the Lumen Database (formerly Chilling Effects) and first noticed by Techdirt.
Tomasz Kozlowski, a Wikimedia volunteer administrator based in the UK, has filed a counter-notice (PDF) challenging the Sanders campaign takedown. "I have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification," wrote Kozlowski. He also argued that the material "does not contain sufficient creative artistic or graphical authorship to support a copyright claim."
The Sanders campaign didn't respond to Ars' requests for comment on the DMCA takedown. An e-mailed request to the law firm performing the takedowns also went unanswered.
It isn't exactly clear how the Sanders campaign made the decision to get its materials off Wikipedia, but the decision clearly wasn't made by some overzealous, little-known volunteer. The attorney who authored the DMCA notice had his name redacted by Wikimedia, but the firm responsible is Seattle-based Garvey Schubert Barer. That's the same firm that handled Sanders' high-profile but short-lived lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee.
Ministry of Truth
The 'Serial' Podcasts About Bowe Bergdahl Are Pure Propaganda
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:07
If you've been listening to the ''Serial'' podcast's coverage of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's ordeal, you've probably learned a colossal amount of new facts, previously unmentioned by the press. The series goes to great pains to highlight all of the nuances of the situation, and gives you firsthand accounts of the situation from the point of view of Bergdahl himself. The show's narrator, Sarah Koenig, even manages to call the Taliban (which isn't actually that hard) to get their side of the story.
The series is full of shocking moments, sure to tug at the consciences of even the most stubborn Bergdahl haters. The show wants you to think one thing: Bowe Bergdahl's story is much worse than you previously thought.
That Bergdahl deserted isn't contested. He admits to walking away from his combat outpost on the night of June 30, 2009, in order to teach the Army a lesson. Accounts vary about his actions immediately before he disappeared, but that he neatly stacked his gear and walked off his post carrying only a knife and a compass is also uncontested.
In recorded conversations with propaganda filmmaker Mark Boal, Bergdahl says he felt his peers were ''in danger of something seriously going wrong'' because of systemic leadership failures. Bergdahl says he had observed these failures since boot camp, in more places than just his command, and that he was willing to ''rot in Leavenworth'' rather than see one of his buddies die.
Bergdahl Deserted Because He Didn't Like Being a SoldierThe program goes to great lengths to stress how bad things were for poor Bergdahl. He only ate MRE's, had to urinate in a tube, showered infrequently at best, and was constantly exposed to the fumes of burning garbage and feces. Koenig paints a bleak picture of Bergdahl's Army life in Afghanistan, and wants us to believe he had it really bad.
While the only publicly available account of his ordeals is his own retelling, we can all be pretty sure the Taliban didn't put him up in the Holiday Inn.
What she fails to mention is that basically everyone doing the job of an infantryman in Afghanistan had it just as bad. You can believe me on this point, because I spent eight months deployed with a Marine infantry battalion in Helmand Province during the height of the surge. While I enjoyed the relative comfort of being a battalion staff officer, most of our Marines lived in the same squalor Koenig describes in her podcast. Everyone urinated in a tube and lived with the constant stench of burning garbage.
I had it better than most, and can recall one occasion where I was so sick to my stomach, I actually thought dying might be a better option than trying to recover. And bad leadership was everywhere. My own company commander was such a failure, the battalion leadership nicknamed him ''Bubbles.'' Tens of thousands of young Americans have lived in these abject conditions during the last ten years of warfare, and not a single one ever decided to bite his or her thumb at command by walking away'--except for Bowe Bergdahl.
While the only publicly available account of his ordeals is his own retelling, we can all be pretty sure the Taliban didn't put him up in the Holiday Inn. Koenig devotes two full episodes to helping us understand just how bad Bergdahl had it from his captors. He was cut with razors, beaten regularly, forcefully shaved, starved, and chained to a bed for months. If you think I'm being glib about the torment, please forgive me. I'm not. But Koenig and ''Serial'' miss the point that Bergdahl knew about the possibility of all of this before he walked away, and this missing distinction makes all the difference.
Every Recruit Knows This Could HappenBergdahl voluntarily joined the Army. He tried joining the Coast Guard first, but was discharged after only 26 days of introductory training (insert joke of your choosing about how easy Coast Guard boot camp is) because of some sort of psychological defect. Whether he or the Army is to blame for his second enlistment is the topic of another article, but it need not be stated that no one forced him to sign on the dotted line a second time. Bergdahl knew he had problems with military life and willingly signed up a second time.
You are wholly forbidden from making any kind of statement that will endanger the lives of other American servicemen. At all. Period.
Part of every service's introductory training is a period of instruction about the Code of Conduct for prisoners of war, which is usually accompanied with all kinds of stories about how bad you'll have it when you get caught'--or at least that's what everyone I've ever known who served in the military told me he or she was taught.
The Code of Conduct is clear, and designed for even the dumbest servicemen: the only information you're allowed to give out is your name, rank, and serial number. You are wholly forbidden from making any kind of statement that will endanger the lives of other American servicemen. At all. Period.
So in episode three of her podcast, when Koenig says the government doesn't really have that strict an interpretation of Code, she may be making a legal point, but she definitely isn't making a practical one. Regardless of what standard a serviceman may be held to, it's made eminently clear at boot camp that you're supposed to keep your mouth shut, even if it means taking a bullet. Instructors point to the men of the Hanoi Hotel as an example.
Admiral Stockdale beat himself in the face with a stool to prevent his captors from using him as propaganda, but Koenig wants us to let Bergdahl off the hook because, well, survival. Again, Koenig and ''Serial'' miss the point. When you join the military, you agree that you're willing to die for your country. Surviving comes second to carrying out the oath you swore.
For some men, this is asking too much. Accordingly, the military has a streamlined process for letting conscious objectors out of their obligation. Bergdahl would have known this bit, too. Aside from some obscene Army conspiracy, there is no proof Bergdahl ever identified himself as a conscientious objector or asked to be released from his obligation on moral grounds.
Bergdahl Admits We Can't Trust HimBut were his statements while in captivity really that bad? Yes, they were. Bergdahl said all kinds of things that are obviously injurious to his peers: soldiers are told to accept civilian casualties as a just a normal part of war; his commanders ordered him to gain information ''by whatever means necessary'' and ''there are no rules.'' He said the ''death toll'' from the war is much higher than anyone will admit, and so on.
There are moments where hardly anything he says at all is believable. Bergdahl claims he was apprehended by a gang of goons on motorcycles, but didn't put up a fight because of their superior numbers.
In his interview with Boal, Bergdahl claims he made up obvious lies so his confreres would realize how ridiculous the whole thing was, and that he couldn't possibly be serious about any of what he was saying. But the truth value of his statements is precisely beside the point. True or not, his misconduct materially affected the safety of everyone in his unit, and arguably everyone in Afghanistan.
So why is it such a big deal the guy lied a little bit to save his own skin? Because now we have no guarantee that anything he says is true at all. Consider it this way: if the man's loyalties were so thin that he was willing to walk away into Talibanlandia without a weapon, then say whatever he had to in order to survive, what guarantee do we have that he's not doing it again with his new captors?
The podcast has a number of startling quotes from its protagonist. At one point, Bergdahl claims he was walking along ''taking it slow and easy and I fell off a cliff.'' He fell off a cliff? How does one just suddenly walk off a cliff? There are moments where hardly anything he says at all is believable. Bergdahl claims he was apprehended by a gang of goons on motorcycles, but didn't put up a fight because of their superior numbers. The Taliban says they found him when he was looking for someone who spoke English, and he then tried to defend himself with karate. But this doesn't bother Koenig. She's content to have us all believe Bergdahl is telling the truth because, well, why wouldn't he?
Bergdahl Endangered American Lives''Serial'' conveniently fails to note that the local improvised explosive device (IED) tactics changed after his disappearance, and that his unit began to be attacked at night, a practice the Taliban had previously not used. While Koenig mentions the six deaths that occurred during the manhunt to find Bergdahl, she doesn't mention the civilian casualties during failed Special Forces night raids looking for him.
The saddest part of the whole thing is that, thanks to 'Serial,' we may never really know what happened.
She doesn't mention the Army cover-up of the reasons behind a lieutenant's death by rocket-propelled grenade while looking for Bergdahl. She also doesn't mention an alternate deal that would have not only recovered Bergdahl, but several other captives'--to include a woman and a baby'--and would have only cost one Taliban commander, instead of five.
The saddest part of the whole thing is that, thanks to ''Serial,'' we may never really know what happened. The program is so bad that people like me feel compelled to write articles like this, which only serve to further convolute the mess surrounding the facts of the case.
So why did Koenig take on Bergdahl's case if it was such a dumpster fire? Aside from the obvious pecuniary gain, one has to wonder if Koenig isn't doing an inside job. Bowe's father, Robert Bergdahl, flung egg all over the president's face in that Rose Garden rescue announcement when he started blabbering in Pashto.
Bergdahl's platoon mates then went on cable news and told America Bergdahl wasn't ''left behind'' but rather walked away, crushing the narrative the president had implicitly relied on when taking his victory lap. The public outrage that followed was so intense, it caused Obama to trot out his favorite lap dog, Susan Rice, who went on Sunday morning shows to say Bergdahl had served with ''honor and distinction.'' To suppose the administration thinks it could put some concealer on this black eye by getting Koenig and Boal to publish interviews with him isn't unreasonable.
Remember that bit where Bergdahl says he was willing to rot in Leavenworth for his desertion if it would save the lives of even one of his buddies? Considering his actions had the opposite effect, maybe we should take him up on his offer. Sarah Koenig and ''Serial'' certainly haven't helped him.
Ray Penny is in law school at the University of Tulsa. He lives on a small ranch in north-central Oklahoma with his wife and four children. Before law school, he served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Caliphate!
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Burkina Faso killers on mission to murder non-Muslims - Independent.ie
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:35
Published 17/01/2016 | 04:56
Al Qaida fighters who stormed a luxury hotel and a cafe in Burkina Faso's capital had a mission to kill as many people as possible, survivors and authorities have said.
When the gunfire stopped after a siege lasting more than 12 hours, at least 28 people had been murdered in an unprecedented attack on the west African country long spared the jihadist violence experienced by its neighbours.
Like the extremist attacks from Paris to Jakarta, Indonesia, the assailants targeted an area where foreigners gathered to enjoy life.
In Ouagadougou, the victims had been grabbing a cold drink outside or staying at one of the capital's few luxury hotels and in this city with a large aid worker presence, the attackers sought to shoot as many non-Muslims as possible, screaming "Allahu akhbar"(Arabic for God is great) as they entered.
An audio tape later released by the al Qaida group claiming responsibility for the carnage was entitled A Message Signed with Blood and Body Parts.
Victims from 18 countries included the wife and five-year-old daughter of the Italian man who owns the Cappuccino Cafe, where at least 10 people died in a hail of gunfire and smoke after the attackers set the building ablaze before moving on to the Splendid Hotel nearby.
Some survivors cowered for hours on the roof or hid in the restaurant's toilet to stay alive. Two French, six Canadians and two Swiss were among the dead, as well as Am erican missionary Michael Riddering, 45, of Cooper City, Florida , who had been working in Burkina Faso since 2011.
Mr Riddering was about to meet a group planning to volunteer at the orphanage and women's crisis centre he ran with his wife Amy.
The four known attackers, all killed by security forces, had come in a vehicle with plates from neighbouring Niger. At least two of them were women and one was of African descent. Witnesses said they wore the turbans often worn in the sand-swept countryside of the Sahel and some spoke in French with an Arabic accent, suggesting some may have come from further north in Africa.
"I heard the gunfire and I saw a light by my window and I thought it was fireworks at first," said Rachid Faouzi Ouedraogo, 22, an accounting student who lives near the scene of the carnage.
"I raced downstairs and once outside I saw people running through the street and four people firing on the people at Cappuccino."
Burkinabe forces backed by French soldiers based in neighbouring Mali helped free at least 126 hostages though officials have said the true number of those held hostage may be higher. Dozens were wounded in the overnight siege.
"We appeal to the people to be vigilant and brave because we must fight on," President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on national radio.
The North Africa branch of al Qaida, founded in Algeria, said it carried out the bloodbath even as it was unfolding in a series of statements published and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The al Qaida affiliate known as AQIM - now working in tandem with feared extremist Moktar Belmoktar - later released an audio clip it said was a conversation with one of the fighters later killed in Ouagadougou.
The message said the attack was directed at "the occupiers of our lands, the looters of our wealth, and the abusers of our security", according to SITE, and sought to punish them "for their crimes against our people in Central Africa, Mali, and other lands of the Muslims, and to avenge our prophet".
Burkina Faso is a largely Muslim country though it is home to a number of French nationals as a former colony of France. Islamic extremists in the region have long targeted French interests, incensed by France's military footprint on the continent more than half a century after independence.
France led the military effort in 2013 to oust extremists from their seats of power in northern Mali and continue to carry out counter-terrorism activities across the Sahel region.
French special forces were also involved as police and troops fought to take back the Splendid Hotel. After freeing the hostages there, they scoured other buildings including the Hotel Yibi where they killed the fourth attacker, the president later said.
The horror closely mirrored the siege of a top hotel in Bamako, Mali, in November that left 20 people dead and shattered the sense of security in the capital of a nation whose countryside has long been scarred by extremism.
Burkina Faso was better known for the role its president and officials played in mediating hostage releases when jihadists would seize foreigners for ransom in places like Niger or Mali. Now though, it appears Burkina, too, has been turned into a place where Westerners are at high risk.
Australia's department of foreign affairs and trade said an elderly Australian doctor and his wife, identified in news reports as surgeon Ken Eliot and his wife Jocelyn, had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso's north. The two were abducted from the town of Djibo near the border with Mali.
The couple, in their 80s and originally from Perth, have lived in Djibo, near Baraboule, since 1972, and work in a volunteer medical clinic which they built, reports said.
Jihadists are also holding a third foreigner - a Romanian kidnapped in an attack last April that was the first of its kind at the time.
Press Association
Did AFRICOM Engineer Military Coup in Burkina Faso? '' The Fifth Column
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:29
Washington, DC (SCF) '' There are significant indications that the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, engineered a military coup in Burkina Faso in order to protect U.S. military bases in the impoverished West African nation. General Gilbert Diendere, the former military aide to the longtime Burkinabe dictator, Blaise Compaore, overthrew Burkina Faso's interim democratic government and established a ruling junta inaptly called the ''National Council for Democracy'' with himself as the head.
Armed troops loyal to Diendere, the chief of the feared presidential guard that brutally enforced order during Compaore's 27-year rule, stormed into a Cabinet meeting in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou and placed President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Zida under house arrest. There were indications that General Diendere overthrew the government in order to restore Compaore to power.
In August, the transition government's Constitutional Court ruled that the presidential candidate of Compaore's former ruling, Congress for Democracy and Progress party, Eddie Constance Konboigo, was ineligible to run for office. The plans for the military coup against the transition government were formulated after the court's ruling.
Ousted during a popular rebellion in 2014, Compaore fled to the neighboring Ivory Coast, another nation where AFRICOM has significant influence within the armed forces. Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara, who originally hails from Burkina Faso, then-Upper Volta, is a close friend and ally of Compaore. Ouattara was placed into office as president of Ivory Coast after dubious interference by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a cipher for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as non-governmental organizations financed by George Soros's Open Society Institute.
Diendere has been an active participant in AFRICOM's annual FLINTLOCK military exercises. He even served as the chairman for the Burkina Faso FLINTLOCK Committee. Under the rule of Compaore, Burkina Faso permitted AFRICOM and the CIA to set up two secretive bases inside Burkina Faso, one a drone base at Ouagadougou Airport with the operational code-named of CREEK SAND and a classified regional intelligence fusion center attached to the U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou bearing the code-named of AZTEC ARCHER.
AFRICOM heavily relied on Diendere to support the U.S. Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership and U.S. military special operations against Islamist guerrillas active in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and southern Algeria. AFRICOM also provided training to Diendere's elite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) that carried out the coup against Burkina Faso's democratic transitionary government. Diendere's closest AFRICOM liaison officer was U.S. Army Colonel Kurt Crytzer.
Although the coup against the Burkinabe government was condemned by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French President Francois Hollande, the criticism from the U.S. State Department was couched in typical muted terms. It was clear that the State Department did not want to appear to be aggressively condemning a coup that was hatched and carried out by the Pentagon's and CIA's military friends in Burkina Faso. Hollande also appeared to have forgotten that in 2008 Diendere was awarded one of France's most prestigious military medals, the Legion of Honor.
While he was Burkina Faso's dictator, Compaore was feted by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and at a reception for foreign leaders in New York who were attending the annual UN General Assembly plenary session. Compaore personally assassinated Burkina Faso's revolutionary and progressive leader Thomas Sankara in a CIA- and French intelligence-backed military coup in 1987. Sankara was an ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and a strong opponent of the World Bank and U.S. President Ronald Reagan's aggressive military policies in the Third World. On Compaore's orders, Sankara's body was dismembered and buried in an unmarked grave. Many Burkinabe believe that Diendere was, along with Compaore, personally involved in murdering Sankara and disposing of his body. With the approval of Washington, Compaore reversed all of Sankara's progressive policies and returned Burkina Faso to a neo-colonialist outpost of U.S. and French dominance over Africa.
Among the candidates planning to run for president of Burkina Faso were a number of loyalists of Sankara, known as ''Sankarists.'' One leading Sankarist candidate, B(C)n(C)wend(C) Sankara, the leader of the ''l'Union pour la renaissance-Parti sankariste'' (UNIR-PS), was considered a favorite to become the next president. Although no relation to the assassinated president, Sankara has long been a defender of his late namesake's progressive leftist policies.
The CIA and AFRICOM became alarmed that a follower of Sankara could be elected president, this jeopardizing America's covert military and intelligence operations in Burkina Faso.
Conveniently, Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who served as an ''economic hit woman'' for the Ford Foundation, World Bank, and CIA in Indonesia, Suriname, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, and the Philippines, was in Ghana when the 1987 coup against Sankara was launched. Although her role in the coup is subject to speculation, her record is rife with close involvement with the governments of dictators like Suharto of Indonesia, General Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq of Pakistan, and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
Diendere was involved in a number of armed conflicts in Africa that have also involved CIA and Israeli Mossad operatives. These include the bloody civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Diendere was also involved in the shipment of arms from Romania to the CIA-supported UNITA guerrillas in Angola during the time that the Angolan group was subject to a UN arms embargo. There is evidence that Diendere was also involved in illegally supplying arms to Ouattara loyalists in Ivory Coast. The illicit weapons, transported to Ivory Coast without the authorization of the Brazilian government but with the knowledge of the CIA and Soros groups, originated with the Brazilian arms manufacturer Condor S/A. Industria Quimica.
As Burkina Faso's chief spymaster, Diendere maintained regular contact with the CIA's station chief in Ouagadougou and top AFRICOM intelligence officers.
A number of Africa specialists predicted that AFRICOM would become a protection racket designed to maintain in power America's client-dictators in Africa. The events in Burkina Faso have borne out the prediction. This author's book, ''Decade of Death: Secret Wars and Genocide in Africa 1993-2003,'' warned that U.S. foreign policy in Africa would be ''militarized'' under AFRICOM with the U.S. State Department's role in determining American policy vis- -vis Africa demoted to a mere advisory role.
With West Africa facing increased desertification as a result of global climate change, America's policies in pan-Sahel Africa have almost exclusively been concentrated on stemming the activities of Salafist insurgent groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger and Ansar al Dine in Mali. Diendere has been a major figure in AFRICOM anti-insurgency operations extending from Chad in the east to Mali in the west. The Salafists in West Africa would not have gained as much strength had it not been for the AFRICOM/NATO operations in Libya that overthrew that nation's leader, Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011. AFRICOM and NATO have cynically used the expansion of Salafist extremism throughout West Africa to justify a greater U.S. military presence in the entire region.
Image: CIA
Acting as agents for the Pentagon and CIA are local military commanders like Diendere in Burkina Faso and Brigadier General Zakaria Ngobongue in Chad. These military officers, who have been groomed by AFRICOM, are nothing more than protection agents for U.S. imperial interests and reprise the roles of British colonial agents during the height of the British Empire.
This report prepared by Wayne MADSEN for Strategic Culture Foundation.
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SHILL PRESIDENT-Michel Kafando - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:28
Michel Kafando (born 18 August 1942) is a Burkinab(C) diplomat who served as the transitional President of Burkina Faso from 2014[3] to 2015. He served in the government as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1982 to 1983 and was the Permanent Representative (Ambassador) of Burkina Faso to the United Nations from 1998 to 2011.[4]
Following the resignation of President Blaise Compaor(C) amidst mass protests on 31 October 2014, Kafando was chosen to serve as President during a year-long transitional period leading to the next election. He was sworn in on 18 November 2014.
Kafando was briefly ousted by the Regiment of Presidential Security in a September 2015 coup, but he was restored to power within a week.
Background[edit]Kafando was born in Ouagadougou. He attained a bachelor's degree in public law from the University of Bordeaux in 1969, a diploma in political studies in 1972 in Paris and another diploma from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva also in 1972. He later gained a PhD in political science at the Sorbonne in 1990. He is married, and has one child.[4]
Diplomatic career[edit]Michel Kafando was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Upper Volta (as Burkina Faso was then known) from 1982 to 1983, becoming the only cabinet member to retain his portfolio after the November 1982 coup of Major Jean-Baptiste Ou(C)draogo. He was also a Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1982. He headed many delegations to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and was Vice-President of the African Centre for Environmental Protection (an NGO).[4]
He served as Upper Volta's Permanent Representative to the UN and as its Ambassador to Cuba before being appointed as Permanent Representative to the UN for a second time; he presented his credentials to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, on 15 April 1998.[4]
Kafando was President of the United Nations Security Council in September 2008[5] and in December 2009.[6]
Transitional President[edit]Long-time President Blaise Compaore was forced to resign on 31 October 2014 due to unrest related to his moves to eliminate term limits so that he could run for President again. Initially, the military under Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida took power, but it faced international pressure to hand over power to civilian authorities. On 17 November 2014, Kafando was appointed as transitional President of Burkina Faso by the designation council.[3] He was sworn in on 18 November 2014,[7] and he appointed Zida as Prime Minister on 19 November.[8] In the transitional government, appointed on 23 November, Kafando held the foreign affairs portfolio.[9][10]
On 19 July 2015, amidst tensions between the military and Prime Minister Zida, Kafando stripped Zida of the defense portfolio and took over the portfolio himself. He also took over the security portfolio, previously held by Zida's ally Auguste Denise Barry.[11] As part of the same reshuffle, he appointed Moussa N(C)bi(C) to replace himself as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[12]
On 16 September 2015, two days after a recommendation from the National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission to disband the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), members of the RSP detained President Kafando and Prime Minister Zida.[13][14] The military chief of staff, Brigadier General Pingrenoma Zagr(C), called on members of the RSP to lay down their arms, promising in a statement that they would not be harmed if they surrendered peacefully.[15]
Kafando was believed to remain under house arrest until 21 September, when he was reported to have arrived at the residence of the French ambassador.[16] The regular army issued an ultimatum to the RSP to surrender by the morning of 22 September.[17] Kafando was reinstalled as President at a ceremony on 23 September in the presence of ECOWAS leaders.[18]
References[edit]^"Secretary-General Meets with Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso", unmultimedia.org^ ab"Diplomatie : Michel Kafando quitte New York apr¨s une longue carri¨re ", lefaso.net^ ab"Michel Kafando, Pr(C)sident de la Transition", Burkina24, 17 November 2014.^ abcd"New Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso presents credentials", United Nations press release, BIO/3152, 15 April 1998.^"Press conference by Security Council President", United Nations press release, 3 September 2008.^"Security Council, in statement, condemns 3 December terrorist attack in Somalia", United Nations press release, SC/9802, 3 December 2009.^"Kafando sworn in as Burkina Faso transitional president", Reuters, 18 November 2014.^Mathieu Bonkoungou and Nadoun Coulibaly, "Burkina Faso names army colonel Zida as prime minister", Reuters, 19 November 2014.^"Le gouvernement de la transition est connu", Lefaso.net, 23 November 2014 (French).^"Transitional government appointed in Burkina Faso", Reuters, 24 November 2014.^"Burkina Faso reshuffles govt 3 months before polls", Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 20 July 2015.^"Burkina Faso reshuffles government 3 months before elections", Reuters, 20 July 2015.^Ouedraogo, Brahima (16 September 2015). "Military detains Burkina Faso's president, prime minister weeks ahead of landmark vote". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. Retrieved 16 September 2015. ^Coulibaly, Nadoun; Flynn, Daniel (16 September 2015). "Burkina Faso presidential guard detains cabinet - military sources". Reuters. Retrieved 16 September 2015. ^Mathieu Bonkoungou and Nadoun Coulibaly, "Burkina Faso army enters capital to disarm coup leaders", Reuters, 21 September 2015.^"Burkina Faso army reaches capital to quell coup", BBC News, 22 September 2015.^"Loyalist troops tell Burkina coup leaders: surrender or face attack", Reuters, 22 September 2015.^Patrick Fort and Romaric Ollo Hien, "Burkina president resumes power after week-long coup", Agence France-Presse, 23 September 2015.External links[edit]
Burkina Faso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:26
Coordinates: 13°N2°W>> / >>13°N 2°W>> / 13; -2
Burkina Faso (ibÉr-KEE-nÉFAH-soh; French: [buʁkina faso]) is a landlocked country in West Africa around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) in size. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. Its capital is Ouagadougou. As of 2014, its population was estimated at just over 17.3 million.[1]
Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. Residents of Burkina Faso are known as Burkinab(C) ( bÉr-KEE-nÉ-bay). French is an official language of government and business.
Before the conquest of what is now Burkina Faso by the French and other colonial powers during the late 19th century the country was ruled by various ethnic groups including the Mossi kingdoms. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country underwent many governmental changes. Blaise Compaor(C) was the most recent president and ruled the country from 1987[7] until he was ousted from power by the popular youth upheaval of 31 October 2014.[8] This resulted in a semi-presidential republic which lasted from October 2014 to September 2015. On 17 September 2015 the provisional government was in turn toppled by an apparent military coup d'(C)tat carried out by the Regiment of Presidential Security.[9] On 24 September 2015, after pressure from the African Union, ECOWAS, and the armed forces, the military junta agreed to step down, and Michel Kafando was reinstated as Acting President.[10]
History[edit]Prehistory[edit]The northwestern part of today's Burkina Faso was populated by hunter-gatherers between 14,000 and 5000 BC. Their tools, including scrapers, chisels and arrowheads, were discovered in 1973 through archeological excavations.[citation needed]Agricultural settlements were established between 3600 and 2600 BC.[citation needed] The Bura culture was an Iron-Agecivilization centered in the southwest portion of modern-day Niger and in the southeast part of contemporary Burkina Faso.[11]Iron industry, in smelting and forging for tools and weapons, had developed in Sub-Saharan Africa by 1200 BC.[12][13]
Early history[edit]Historians debate the exact dates when Burkina Faso's many ethnic groups arrived. The Proto-Mossi arrived in the far eastern part of what is today Burkina Faso sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries,[14] the Samo arrived around the 15th century,[15] the Dogon lived in Burkina Faso's north and northwest regions until sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries,[citation needed] and many of the other ethnic groups that make up the country's population arrived in the region during this time.
During the Middle Ages the Mossi established several separate kingdoms including those of Tenkodogo, Yatenga, Gourma, Zandoma, and Ouagadougou.[16] Sometime between 1328 and 1338 Mossi warriors raided Timbuktu but the Mossi were defeated by Sonni Ali of Songhai at the Battle of Kobi in Mali in 1483.[17]
During the early 16th century the Songhai conducted many slave raids into what is today Burkina Faso.[15] During the 18th century the Gwiriko Empire was established at Bobo Dioulasso and ethnic groups such as the Dyan, Lobi, and Birifor settled along the Black Volta.[18]
From colony to independence (1890s''1958)[edit]Starting in the early 1890s a series of British, French and German military officers made attempts to claim parts of what is today Burkina Faso. At times these colonialists and their armies fought the local peoples; at times they forged alliances with them and made treaties. The colonialist officers and their home governments also made treaties amongst themselves. Through a complex series of events what is Burkina Faso eventually became a French protectorate in 1896.[19]
The eastern and western regions, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, came under French occupation in 1897. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso was nominally conquered; however, French control of many parts remained uncertain.[citation needed]
The Franco-British Convention of 14 June 1898 created the country's modern borders. In the French territory, a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years. In 1904, the largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger colony of French West Africa as part of the reorganization of the French West African colonial empire. The colony had its capital in Bamako.
The French imposed their own language as the official one for colonial administration and generally appointed French colonists or nationals to prominent positions. The French started some schools and selected top students for additional education in France.
Draftees from the territory participated in the European fronts of World War I in the battalions of the Senegalese Rifles. Between 1915 and 1916, the districts in the western part of what is now Burkina Faso and the bordering eastern fringe of Mali became the stage of one of the most important armed oppositions to colonial government: the Volta-Bani War.[20]
The French government finally suppressed the movement but only after suffering defeats. It also had to organize its largest expeditionary force of its colonial history to send into the country to suppress the insurrection. Armed opposition wracked the Sahelian north when the Tuareg and allied groups of the Dori region ended their truce with the government.
French Upper Volta was established on 1 March 1919. The French feared a recurrence of armed uprising and had related economic considerations. To bolster its administration, the colonial government separated the present territory of Burkina Faso from Upper Senegal and Niger.
The new colony was named Haute Volta, and Fran§ois Charles Alexis ‰douard Hesling became its first governor. Hesling initiated an ambitious road-making program to improve infrastructure and promoted the growth of cotton for export. The cotton policy '' based on coercion '' failed, and revenue generated by the colony stagnated. The colony was dismantled on 5 September 1932, being split between the French colonies of Ivory Coast, French Sudan and Niger. Ivory Coast received the largest share, which contained most of the population as well as the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
France reversed this change during the period of intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of World War II. On 4 September 1947, it revived the colony of Upper Volta, with its previous boundaries, as a part of the French Union. The French designated its colonies as departments of the metropole France on the European continent.
On 11 December 1958 the colony achieved self-government as the Republic of Upper Volta; it joined the Franco-African Community. A revision in the organization of French Overseas Territories had begun with the passage of the Basic Law (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956. This act was followed by reorganization measures approved by the French parliament early in 1957 to ensure a large degree of self-government for individual territories. Upper Volta became an autonomous republic in the French community on 11 December 1958. Full independence from France was received in 1960.[21]
Upper Volta (1958''1984)[edit]The Republic of Upper Volta (French: R(C)publique de Haute-Volta) was established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community. The name Upper Volta related to the nation's location along the upper reaches of the Volta River. The river's three tributaries are called the Black, White and Red Volta. These were expressed in the three colors of the former national flag.
Before attaining autonomy, it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On 5 August 1960, it attained full independence from France. The first president, Maurice Yam(C)ogo, was the leader of the Voltaic Democratic Union (UDV). The 1960 constitution provided for election by universal suffrage of a president and a national assembly for five-year terms. Soon after coming to power, Yam(C)ogo banned all political parties other than the UDV. The government lasted until 1966. After much unrest, including mass demonstrations and strikes by students, labor unions, and civil servants, the military intervened.
1966 coup d'(C)tat[edit]The military coup d'(C)tat deposed Yam(C)ogo, suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, and placed Lt. Col. Sangoul(C) Lamizana at the head of a government of senior army officers. The army remained in power for four years. On 14 June 1970, the Voltans ratified a new constitution that established a four-year transition period toward complete civilian rule. Lamizana remained in power throughout the 1970s as president of military or mixed civil-military governments. After conflict over the 1970 constitution, a new constitution was written and approved in 1977. Lamizana was reelected by open elections in 1978.
Lamizana's government faced problems with the country's traditionally powerful trade unions, and on 25 November 1980, Col. Saye Zerbo overthrew President Lamizana in a bloodless coup. Colonel Zerbo established the Military Committee of Recovery for National Progress as the supreme governmental authority, thus eradicating the 1977 constitution.
Colonel Zerbo also encountered resistance from trade unions and was overthrown two years later, on 7 November 1982, by Maj. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Ou(C)draogo and the Council of Popular Salvation (CSP). The CSP continued to ban political parties and organizations, yet promised a transition to civilian rule and a new constitution.
1983 coup d'(C)tat[edit]Infighting developed between the right and left factions of the CSP. The leader of the leftists, Capt. Thomas Sankara, was appointed prime minister in January 1983, but subsequently arrested. Efforts to free him, directed by Capt. Blaise Compaor(C), resulted in a military coup d'(C)tat on 4 August 1983.
The coup brought Sankara to power and his government began to implement a series of revolutionary programs which included mass-vaccinations, infrastructure improvements, the expansion of women's rights, encouragement of domestic agricultural consumption, and anti-desertification projects.[22]
Burkina Faso (Since 1984)[edit]On 4 August 1984,[21] on President Sankara's initiative, the country's name was changed from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso (land of the upright/honest people).[23][24][25]
Sankara's government formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with Sankara as its president, and established popular Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) to "mobilize the masses" and implement the CNR's revolutionary programs. The regime created a youth program (the Pioneers of the Revolution) for educating children about Marxist ideals. The government also armed and deputized CDR members who began a campaign to weed out suspected anti-revolutionaries, causing discontent amongst the country's population and increasing domestic opposition to Sankara's regime.[26]
A more positive reading of Thomas Sankara's presidency is given by the Liberation News:
`Burkina Faso became food self-sufficient in the span of four years. Sankara rejected the imperialist aid industry and encouraged local production and trade. He nationalized Burkina Faso's land and mineral wealth against the broaching power of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Alongside the economic revolution, he instated a vast social-cultural transformation wherein civil servants were forbidden from driving Mercedes vehicles and required to wear cotton tunics indigenous to the country. The women of Burkina Faso partook in the revolution with action centering on their rights. Sankara outlawed female genital mutilation and polygamy, and more women joined the military and were appointed to government positions.[27]
Sankara's "revolution" took place within the context of the Cold War, and his visits to the Soviet Union and Cuba, calls for the cancellation of African debts held by Western governments and institutions and Marxist political regime were controversial, in particular in France and the United States as well as in most of Burkina Faso's immediate neighbors, all of which were generally western-oriented or else cautious towards the Soviet bloc with the exception of Togo.
On 15 October 1987, Sankara along with twelve other officials were killed in a coup d'(C)tat organized by Blaise Compaor(C), Sankara's former colleague and Burkina Faso's president until October 2014. After the coup and although Sankara was known to be dead, some CDRs mounted an armed resistance to the army for several days.[citation needed] A majority of Burkinab(C) citizens hold that France's foreign ministry, the Quai d'Orsay, was behind Compaor(C) in organizing the coup.
Deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons given by Compaor(C) for the coup.[28] Compaor(C) argued that Sankara had jeopardised foreign relations with the former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast (both of which supported the change in government[citation needed]). Following the coup Compaor(C) immediately reversed the nationalizations, overturned nearly all of Sankara's policies, returned the country back into the IMF fold, and ultimately spurned most of Sankara's legacy. Limited democratic reforms were introduced in 1990 by Compaor(C). Under the new constitution, Compaor(C) was re-elected without opposition in 1991. In 1998 Compaor(C) won election in a landslide. In 2004 13 people were tried for plotting a coup against President Compaor(C) and the coup's alleged mastermind was sentenced to life imprisonment.[29] As of 2014, Burkina Faso remains one of the least developed countries in the world.
Compaor(C)'s government had played the role of negotiator in several West-African disputes including the 2010''11 Ivorian crisis, the Inter-Togolese Dialogue, and the 2012 Malian Crisis.
Between February and April 2011, the death of a schoolboy provoked protests throughout the country, coupled with a military mutiny and a magistrates' strike.
October 2014 protests[edit]Starting on 28 October 2014 protesters began to march and demonstrate in Ouagadougou against President Blaise Compaore who appeared ready to amend the constitution and extend his 27-year rule. On 30 October, some protesters set fire to the parliament[30] and took over the national TV headquarters.[31]Ouagadougou International Airport was closed and MPs suspended the vote on changing the constitution to allow Compaor(C) to stand for re-election in 2015. Later in the day, the military dissolved all government institutions and set a curfew.[32]
On 31 October 2014, President Compaor(C), facing mounting pressure, resigned after 27 years in office.[33]Lt. Col. Isaac Zida said that he would lead the country during its transitional period before the planned 2015 presidential election but there were concerns over his close ties to the former president.[34] In November 2014 opposition parties, civil society groups and religious leaders adopted a plan for a transitional authority to guide Burkina Faso to elections.[35] Under the plan Michel Kafando was made the transitional President of Burkina Faso and Lt. Col. Zida became the acting Prime Minister and Defense Minister.
2015 coup d'(C)tat[edit]In September 2015, the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP) seized the country's president and prime minister, and declared the National Council for Democracy the new national government.[36] However, on 22 September 2015, the coup leader, Gilbert Diend(C)r(C), apologized and promised to restore the civilian government.[37] On 23 September 2015, the prime minister and interim president were restored to power.[38]
Government and politics[edit]With French help, Blaise Compaor(C) seized power in a coup d'(C)tat in 1987. He overthrew his long-time friend and ally Thomas Sankara, who was killed in the coup.[39]
The constitution of 2 June 1991 established a semi-presidential government: its parliament could be dissolved by the President of the Republic, who was to be elected for a term of seven years. In 2000, the constitution was amended to reduce the presidential term to five years and set term limits to two, preventing successive re-election. The amendment took effect during the 2005 elections. If passed beforehand, it would have prevented Compaor(C) from being reelected.
Other presidential candidates challenged the election results. But in October 2005, the constitutional council ruled that, because Compaor(C) was the sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply to him until the end of his second term in office. This cleared the way for his candidacy in the 2005 election. On 13 November, Compaor(C) was reelected in a landslide, because of a divided political opposition.
In the 2010 Presidential elections, President Compaor(C) was re-elected. Only 1.6 million Burkinab(C)s voted, out of a total population 10 times that size.
The 2011 Burkinab¨ protests were a series of popular protests that called for the resignation of Compaor(C), democratic reforms, higher wages for troops and public servants and economic freedom.[40][41][42] As a result, Governors were replaced and wages for public servants were raised.[43][44]
The parliament consisted of one chamber known as the National Assembly which had 111 seats with members elected to serve five-year terms. There was also a constitutional chamber, composed of ten members, and an economic and social council whose roles were purely consultative. The 1991 constitution created a bicameral parliament but the upper house (Chamber of Representatives) was abolished in 2002.
The Compaor(C) administration had worked to decentralize power by devolving some of its powers to regions and municipal authorities. But the widespread distrust of politicians and lack of political involvement by many residents complicated this process. Critics described this as a hybrid decentralisation.[45]
Political freedoms are severely restricted in Burkina Faso. Human rights organizations had criticised the Compaor(C) administration for numerous acts of state-sponsored violence against journalists and other politically active members of society.[citation needed]
In mid-September 2015 the Kafando government, along with the rest of the post-October 2014 political order, was temporarily overthrown in a coup attempt by the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP). They installed Gilbert Diend(C)r(C) as chairman of the new National Council for Democracy.[9] On 23 September 2015, the prime minister and interim president were restored to power.[46][47] The national elections were subsequently rescheduled for 29 November.
Kabor(C) won the election in the first round of voting, receiving 53.5% of the vote against 29.7% for the second place candidate, Zephirin Diabr(C).[48] He was sworn in as President on 29 December 2015.[49]
Foreign relations[edit]Burkina Faso is a member of the African Union, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, La Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Economic Community of West African States, and United Nations.
Military[edit]The army consists of some 6,000 men in voluntary service, augmented by a part-time national People's Militia composed of civilians between 25 and 35 years of age who are trained in both military and civil duties. According to Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessment, Burkina Faso's Army is undermanned for its force structure and poorly equipped, but has wheeled light-armour vehicles, and may have developed useful combat expertise through interventions in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa.
In terms of training and equipment, the regular Army is believed to be neglected in relation to the (C)lite Regiment of Presidential Security (French: R(C)giment de la S(C)curit(C) Pr(C)sidentielle '' RSP). Reports have emerged in recent years of disputes over pay and conditions.[50] There is an air force with some 19 operational aircraft, but no navy, as the country is landlocked. Military expenses constitute approximately 1.2% of the nation's GDP.
In April 2011, there was an army mutiny; the president named new chiefs of staff, and a curfew was imposed in Ouagadougou.[51]
Law enforcement[edit]Burkina Faso employs numerous police and security forces, generally modeled after organizations used by French police. France continues to provide significant support and training to police forces. The Gendarmerie Nationale is organized along military lines, with most police services delivered at the brigade level. The Gendarmerie operates under the authority of the Minister of Defence, and its members are employed chiefly in the rural areas and along borders.[52]
There is a municipal police force controlled by the Ministry of Territorial Administration; a national police force controlled by the Ministry of Security; and an autonomous Regiment of Presidential Security (R(C)giment de la S(C)curit(C) Pr(C)sidentielle, or RSP), a 'palace guard' devoted to the protection of the President of the Republic. Both the gendarmerie and the national police are subdivided into both administrative and judicial police functions; the former are detailed to protect public order and provide security, the latter are charged with criminal investigations.[52]
All foreigners and citizens are required to carry photo ID passports, or other forms of identification or risk a fine, and police spot identity checks are commonplace for persons traveling by auto, bush-taxi, or bus.[53][54]
Geography and climate[edit]Geography[edit]Burkina Faso lies mostly between latitudes 9° and 15°N (a small area is north of 15°), and longitudes 6°W and 3°E.
It is made up of two major types of countryside. The larger part of the country is covered by a peneplain, which forms a gently undulating landscape with, in some areas, a few isolated hills, the last vestiges of a Precambrianmassif. The southwest of the country, on the other hand, forms a sandstone massif, where the highest peak, T(C)nakourou, is found at an elevation of 749 meters (2,457 ft). The massif is bordered by sheer cliffs up to 150 m (492 ft) high. The average altitude of Burkina Faso is 400 m (1,312 ft) and the difference between the highest and lowest terrain is no greater than 600 m (1,969 ft). Burkina Faso is therefore a relatively flat country.
The country owes its former name of Upper Volta to three rivers which cross it: the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakamb(C)) and the Red Volta (Nazinon). The Black Volta is one of the country's only two rivers which flow year-round, the other being the Komo(C), which flows to the southwest. The basin of the Niger River also drains 27% of the country's surface.
The Niger's tributaries '' the B(C)li, the Gorouol, the Goud(C)bo and the Dargol '' are seasonal streams and flow for only four to six months a year. They still can flood and overflow, however. The country also contains numerous lakes '' the principal ones are Tingrela, Bam and Dem. The country contains large ponds, as well, such as Oursi, B(C)li, Yomboli and Markoye. Water shortages are often a problem, especially in the north of the country.
Administrative divisions[edit]The country is divided into 13 administrative regions. These regions encompass 45 provinces and 301 departments. Each region is administered by a Governor.
Climate[edit]Burkina Faso has a primarily tropical climate with two very distinct seasons. In the rainy season, the country receives between 600 and 900 mm (23.6 and 35.4 in) of rainfall; in the dry season, the harmattan '' a hot dry wind from the Sahara '' blows. The rainy season lasts approximately four months, May/June to September, and is shorter in the north of the country. Three climatic zones can be defined: the Sahel, the Sudan-Sahel, and the Sudan-Guinea. The Sahel in the north typically receives less than 600 mm (23.6 in)[55] of rainfall per year and has high temperatures, 5''47 °C (41.0''116.6 °F).
A relatively dry tropical savanna, the Sahel extends beyond the borders of Burkina Faso, from the Horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, and borders the Sahara to its north and the fertile region of the Sudan to the South. Situated between 11°3' and 13°5' north latitude, the Sudan-Sahel region is a transitional zone with regards to rainfall and temperature. Further to the south, the Sudan-Guinea zone receives more than 900 mm (35.4 in)[55] of rain each year and has cooler average temperatures.
Burkina Faso's natural resources include manganese, limestone, marble, phosphates, pumice, salt, and small deposits of gold.
Wildlife and the environment[edit]Burkina Faso has a larger number of elephants than many countries in West Africa. Lions, leopards and buffalo can also be found here, including the dwarf or red buffalo, a smaller reddish-brown animal which looks like a fierce kind of short-legged cow. Other large predators live in Burkina Faso, such as the cheetah, the caracal or African lynx, the spotted hyena and the African wild dog, one of the continent's most endangered species.[56]
Burkina Faso's fauna and flora are protected in four national parks:
The W National Park in the east which passes Burkina Faso, Benin, and NigerThe Arly Wildlife Reserve (Arly National Park in the east)The L(C)raba -Como(C) Classified Forest and Partial Reserve of Wildlife in the westThe Mare aux Hippopotames in the westand several reserves: see List of national parks in Africa, Nature reserves of Burkina Faso.
Economy and Infrastructure[edit]The value of Burkina Faso's exports fell from $2.77 billion in 2011 to $754 million in 2012.[57] Agriculture represents 32% of its gross domestic product and occupies 80% of the working population. It consists mostly of rearing livestock. Especially in the south and southwest, the people grow crops of sorghum, pearl millet, maize (corn), peanuts, rice and cotton, with surpluses to be sold. A large part of the economic activity of the country is funded by international aid.
Burkina Faso was ranked the 111th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.[58]Remittances used to be an important source of income to Burkina Faso until the 1990s, when unrest in Ivory Coast, the main destination for Burkinabe emigrants, forced many to return home. Remittances now account for less than 1% of GDP.
Burkina Faso is part of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UMEOA) and has adopted the CFA Franc. This is issued by the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO), situated in Dakar, Senegal. The BCEAO manages the monetary and reserve policy of the member states, and provides regulation and oversight of financial sector and banking activity. A legal framework regarding licensing, bank activities, organizational and capital requirements, inspections and sanctions (all applicable to all countries of the Union) is in place, having been reformed significantly in 1999. Micro-finance institutions are governed by a separate law, which regulates micro-finance activities in all WAEMU countries. The insurance sector is regulated through the Inter-African Conference on Insurance Markets (CIMA).[59]
There is mining of copper, iron, manganese, gold, cassiterite (tin ore), and phosphates.[60] These operations provide employment and generate international aid. Gold production increased 32% in 2011 at six gold mine sites, making Burkina Faso the fourth-largest gold producer in Africa, after South Africa, Mali and Ghana.[61]
Burkina Faso also hosts the International Art and Craft Fair, Ouagadougou. It is better known by its French name as SIAO, Le Salon International de l' Artisanat de Ouagadougou, and is one of the most important African handicraft fairs.
Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[62]
While services remain underdeveloped, the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA), a state-ownedutility company run along commercial lines, is emerging as one of the best-performing utility companies in Africa.[63] High levels of autonomy and a skilled and dedicated management have driven ONEA's ability to improve production of and access to clean water.[63]
Since 2000, nearly 2 million more people have access to water in the four principal urban centres in the country; the company has kept the quality of infrastructure high (less than 18% of the water is lost through leaks '' one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa), improved financial reporting, and increased its annual revenue by an average of 12% (well above inflation).[63] Challenges remain, including difficulties among some customers in paying for services, with the need to rely on international aid to expand its infrastructure.[63] The state-owned, commercially run venture has helped the nation reach its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets in water-related areas, and has grown as a viable company.[63]
The growth rate in Burkina Faso is high although it continues to be plagued by corruption and incursions from terrorist groups from Mali and Niger.[64]
Transport[edit]Transport in Burkina Faso is hampered by a largely underdeveloped infrastructure.
The main airport is at Ouagadougou and as of June 2014 it had regularly scheduled flights to many destinations in West Africa as well as Paris, Brussels and Istanbul. There is another international airport at Bobo Dioulasso which has flights to Ouagadougou and Abidjan.
Rail transport in Burkina Faso consists of a single line which runs from Kaya to Abidjan in Ivory Coast via Ouagadougou, Koudougou, Bobo Dioulasso and Banfora. Sitarail operates a passenger train three times a week along the route.[65]
There are 12,506 kilometres of highway in Burkina Faso, of which 2,001 kilometres are paved.
Society[edit]Demographics[edit]Burkina Faso is an ethnically integrated, secular state. Most of Burkina's people are concentrated in the south and center of the country, where their density sometimes exceeds 48 per square kilometer (125/sq. mi.). Hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe migrate regularly to Ivory Coast and Ghana, mainly for seasonal agricultural work. These flows of workers are affected by external events; the September 2002 coup attempt in Ivory Coast and the ensuing fighting meant that hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe returned to Burkina Faso. The regional economy suffered when they were unable to work.[66]
The total fertility rate of Burkina Faso is 5.93 children born per woman (2014 estimates), the sixth highest in the world.[67]
In 2009 the U.S. Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report reported that slavery in Burkina Faso continued to exist and that Burkinab¨ children were often the victims.[68] Slavery in the Sahel states in general, is an entrenched institution with a long history that dates back to the Arab slave trade.[69]
Ethnic groups[edit]Burkina Faso's 17.3 million people belong to two major West African ethnic cultural groups'--the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). The Voltaic Mossi make up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated to present-day Burkina Faso from the area of Ghana Empire about 1100. They established an empire that lasted more than 800 years. Predominantly farmers, the Mossi kingdom is led by the Mogho Naba, whose court is in Ouagadougou.[66]
Languages[edit]Burkina Faso is a multilingual country. An estimated 69 languages are spoken there,[70] of which about 60 are indigenous. The Mossi language (Mossi: M²or(C)) is spoken by about 40% of the population, mainly in the central region around the capital, Ouagadougou, along with other, closely related Gurunsi languages scattered throughout Burkina.
In the west, Mande languages are widely spoken, the most predominant being Dyula (also known as Jula or Dioula), others including Bobo, Samo, and Marka. The Fula language (Fula: Fulfulde, French: Peuhl) is widespread, particularly in the north. The Gourmanch(C) language is spoken in the east, while the Bissa language is spoken in the south.
The official language is French, which was introduced during the colonial period. French is the principal language of administrative, political and judicial institutions, public services, and the press. It is the only language for laws, administration and courts.
Religion[edit]Statistics on religion in Burkina Faso are inexact because Islam and Christianity are often practiced in tandem with indigenous religious beliefs. The Government of Burkina Faso 2006 census reported that 60.5% of the population practice Islam, and that the majority of this group belong to the Sunni branch,[71][72] while a small minority adheres to Shia Islam.[citation needed] There are also large concentrations of the Ahmadiyya Muslims.[73]
A significant number of Sunni Muslims identify with the TijaniyahSufi order. The government estimated that 23.2% of the population are Christians (19% being Roman Catholics and 4.2% members of Protestant denominations); 15.3% follow traditional indigenous beliefs, 0.6% have other religions, and 0.4% have none.[71][72]
Health[edit]In 2012, the average life expectancy was estimated at 57 for male and 59 for female. The under five mortality rate and the infant mortality rate were respectively 102 and 66 per 1000 live births.[74] In 2014, the median age of its inhabitants is 17 and the estimated population growth rate is 3.05%.[67]
In 2011, health expenditures was 6.5% of GDP; the maternal mortality ratio was estimated at 300 deaths per 100000 live births and the physician density at 0.05/1000 population in 2010. In 2012, it was estimated that the adult HIV prevalence rate (ages 15''49) was 1.0%.[75] According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, HIV prevalence is declining among pregnant women who attend antenatal clinics.[76] According to a 2005 World Health Organization report, an estimated 72.5% of Burkina Faso's girls and women have had female genital mutilation, administered according to traditional rituals.[77]
Central government spending on health was 3% in 2001.[78] As of 2009, studies estimated there were as few as 10 physicians per 100,000 people.[79] In addition, there were 41 nurses and 13 midwives per 100,000 people.[79]Demographic and Health Surveys has completed three surveys in Burkina Faso since 1993, and had another in 2009.[80]
Education[edit]Education in Burkina Faso is divided into primary, secondary and higher education.[81] High school costs approximately CFA 25,000 ($50 USD) per year, which is far above the means of most Burkinab¨ families. Boys receive preference in schooling; as such, girls' education and literacy rates are far lower than their male counterparts. An increase in girls' schooling has been observed because of the government's policy of making school cheaper for girls and granting them more scholarships.
To proceed from elementary to middle school, middle to high school or high school to college, national exams must be passed. Institutions of higher education include the University of Ouagadougou, The Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso, and the University of Koudougou, which is also a teacher training institution. There are some small private colleges in the capital city of Ouagadougou but these are affordable to only a small portion of the population.
There is also the International School of Ouagadougou (ISO), an American-based private school located in Ouagadougou.
The 2008 UN Development Program Report ranked Burkina Faso as the country with the lowest level of literacy in the world, despite a concerted effort to double its literacy rate from 12.8% in 1990 to 25.3% in 2008.[82]
Culture[edit]Literature in Burkina Faso is based on the oral tradition, which remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pens(C)es et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people.[83]
The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinab¨ writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema.[84] The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published.[83] Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published.[85]
The theatre of Burkina Faso combines traditional Burkinab¨ performance with the colonial influences and post-colonial efforts to educate rural people to produce a distinctive national theatre. Traditional ritual ceremonies of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso have long involved dancing with masks. Western-style theatre became common during colonial times, heavily influenced by French theatre. With independence came a new style of theatre inspired by forum theatre aimed at educating and entertaining Burkina Faso's rural people.
Arts and crafts[edit]In addition to several rich traditional artistic heritages among the peoples, there is a large artist community in Burkina Faso, especially in Ouagadougou. Much of the crafts produced are for the growing tourist industry.
Cuisine[edit]Typical of West African cuisine, Burkina Faso's cuisine is based on staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra.[86] The most common sources of animal protein are chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish. A typical Burkinab¨ beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap; and Zoom kom, or "grain water" purportedly the national drink of Burkina Faso. Zoom-kom is milky-looking and whitish, having a water and cereal base, best drunk with ice cubes.[87]
Cinema[edit]The cinema of Burkina Faso is an important part of West African and African film industry.[88] Burkina's contribution to African cinema started with the establishment of the film festival FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cin(C)ma et de la T(C)l(C)vision de Ouagadougou), which was launched as a film week in 1969. Many of the nation's filmmakers are known internationally and have won international prizes.
For many years the headquarters of the Federation of Panafrican Filmmakers (FEPACI) was in Ouagadougou, rescued in 1983 from a period of moribund inactivity by the enthusiastic support and funding of President Sankara. (In 2006 the Secretariat of FEPACI moved to South Africa, but the headquarters of the organization is still in Ouagaoudougou.) Among the best known directors from Burkina Faso are Gaston Kabor(C), Idrissa Ouedraogo and Dani Kouyate.[89] Burkina produces popular television series such as Bobodjiouf. The internationally known filmmakers such as Ouedraogo, Kabore, Yameogo, and Kouyate make popular television series.
Sports[edit]Sport in Burkina Faso is widespread and includes football (soccer), basketball, cycling, Rugby union, handball, tennis, boxing and martial arts. Football is very popular in Burkina Faso, played both professionally, and informally in towns and villages across the country. The national team is nicknamed "Les Etalons" ("the Stallions") in reference to the legendary horse of Princess Yennenga.
In 1998, Burkina Faso hosted the Africa Cup of Nations for which the Omnisport Stadium in Bobo-Dioulasso was built. In 2013, Burkina Faso qualified for the African Cup of Nations in South Africa, reached the final, but then lost to Nigeria by the score of 0 to 1. The country is currently ranked 71st in the FIFA World Rankings.[90]
Basketball is another sport which enjoys much popularity for both men and women.[91] The country's national team had its most successful year in 2013 when it qualified for the AfroBasket, the continent's prime basketball event.
Media[edit]The nation's principal media outlet is its state-sponsored combined television and radio service, Radiodiffusion-T(C)l(C)vision Burkina (RTB).[92]RTB broadcasts on two medium-wave (AM) and several FM frequencies. Besides RTB, there are privately owned sports, cultural, music, and religious FM radio stations. RTB maintains a worldwide short-wave news broadcast (Radio Nationale Burkina) in the French language from the capital at Ouagadougou using a 100 kW transmitter on 4.815 and 5.030 MHz.[93]
Attempts to develop an independent press and media in Burkina Faso have been intermittent. In 1998, investigative journalist Norbert Zongo, his brother Ernest, his driver, and another man were assassinated by unknown assailants, and the bodies burned. The crime was never solved.[94] However, an independent Commission of Inquiry later concluded that Norbert Zongo was killed for political reasons because of his investigative work into the death of David Ouedraogo, a chauffeur who worked for Fran§ois Compaor(C), President Blaise Compaor(C)'s brother.[95][96]
In January 1999, Fran§ois Compaor(C) was charged with the murder of David Ouedraogo, who had died as a result of torture in January 1998. The charges were later dropped by a military tribunal after an appeal. In August 2000, five members of the President's personal security guard detail (R(C)giment de la S(C)curit(C) Pr(C)sidentielle, or RSP) were charged with the murder of Ouedraogo. RSP members Marcel Kafando, Edmond Koama, and Ousseini Yaro, investigated as suspects in the Norbert Zongo assassination, were convicted in the Ouedraogo case and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.[95][96]
Since the death of Norbert Zongo, several protests regarding the Zongo investigation and treatment of journalists have been prevented or dispersed by government police and security forces. In April 2007, popular radio reggae host Karim Sama, whose programs feature reggae songs interspersed with critical commentary on alleged government injustice and corruption, received several death threats.[97]
Sama's personal car was later burned outside the private radio station Ouaga FM by unknown vandals.[98] In response, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote to President Compaor(C) to request his government investigate the sending of e-mailed death threats to journalists and radio commentators in Burkina Faso who were critical of the government.[94] In December 2008, police in Ouagadougou questioned leaders of a protest march that called for a renewed investigation into the unsolved Zongo assassination. Among the marchers was Jean-Claude Meda, the president of the Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso.[99]
Cultural Festivals and Events[edit]Every two years, Ouagadougou hosts the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the largest African cinema festival on the continent(February, odd years).
Held every two years since 1988, the International Art and Craft Fair, Ouagadougou (SIAO), is one of Africa's most important trade shows for art and handicrafts (late October-early November, even years).
Also every two years, the Symposium de sculpture sur granit de Laongo takes place on a site located about 35 km from Ouagadougou, in the province of Oubritenga.
The National Culture Week of Burkina Faso, better known by its French name La Semaine Nationale de la culture (SNC), is one of the most important cultural activities of
Burkina Faso. It is a biennial event which takes place every two years in Bobo Dioulasso, the second-largest city in the country.
Food security[edit]Burkina Faso is faced with high levels of food insecurity.[100] As defined by the 1996 World Food Summit, "food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.[101] There has not been much successful improvement on this issue of food security within recent years.[100] Burkina Faso's rapidly-growing population (around 3.6% annually) continues to put a strain on the country's resources and infrastructure, which can further limit accessibility to food.[102] Because the country is landlocked and prone to Natural disasters, including drought and floods, many families struggle to protect themselves from severe hunger.[100] While recent harvest productions have improved some, much of the population is still having a hard time overcoming the continuous food and nutrition crises of the past decade.[103]Malnutrition is especially common in women and children, with large amounts of the population suffering from stunted growth and micronutrient deficiencies such as anemia.[104] Food insecurity has grown to be a structural problem in Burkina Faso, only to be intensified by high food prices. All of these factors combined with high poverty levels have left Burkina Faso vulnerable to chronic high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.[100]
Causes of food insecurity[edit]Social and economic[edit]Poverty continues to be strongly linked to food insecurity.[105] As one of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has around 44.5% of its population living under the poverty line[106] and ranked 183 out of 187 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index in 2014.[100] The Human Development Index is a measure of quality of life, taking into account three main areas of human development: longevity, education, and economic standard of living.[107] These high levels of poverty found in Burkina Faso, combined with the soaring food prices of the global food crisis continue to contribute to Burkina Faso's issue of food insecurity.[108] The global food crisis of 2007-2008 was a drastic surge in food prices that lead to high rates of hunger, malnutrition, and political and economic instability in nations across the globe.[109] This strongly affected Burkina Faso because around 80% of Burkina's population is rural, relying on subsistence farming to make a living.[103] For instance, when natural disasters such as floods, droughts, or locust attacks occur and cause crops to fail, farmers in Burkina Faso become dependent on grain purchases.[110] Because of the global food crisis, local grain prices dramatically increased, limiting farmers' access to grain through market exchanges.[110]
Environmental[edit]Geographic and environmental causes can also play a significant role in contributing to Burkina Faso's issue of food insecurity.[111] As the country is situated in the Sahel region, Burkina Faso experiences some of the most radical climatic variation in the world, ranging from severe flooding to extreme drought.[112] The unpredictable climatic shock that Burkina Faso citizens often face results in strong difficulties in being able to rely on and accumulate wealth through agricultural means.[113] Burkina Faso's climate also renders its crops vulnerable to insect attacks, including attacks from locusts and crickets, which destroy crops and further inhibit food production.[114] Not only is most of the population of Burkina Faso dependent on agriculture as a source of income, but they also rely on the agricultural sector for food that will directly feed the household.[115] Due to the vulnerability of agriculture, more and more families are having to look for other sources of non-farm income,[116] and oftentimes have to travel outside of their regional zone to find work.[115]
Current statistics[edit]According to the Global Hunger Index, a multidimensional tool used to measure and track a country's hunger levels,[117] Burkina Faso ranked 65 out of 78 countries in 2013.[118] It is estimated that there are currently over 1.5 million children who are at risk of food insecurity in Burkina Faso, with around 350,000 children who are in need of emergency medical assistance.[118] However, only about a third of these children will actually receive adequate medical attention.[119] Only 11.4 percent of children under the age of two receive the daily recommended number of meals.[118] Stunted growth as a result of food insecurity is a severe problem in Burkina Faso, affecting at least a third of the population from 2008 to 2012.[120] Additionally, stunted children, on average, tend to complete less school than children with normal growth development,[119] further contributing to the low levels of education of the Burkina Faso population.[121]
The European Commission expects that approximately 500,000 children under the age of 5 in Burkina Faso will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2015, including around 149,000 who will suffer from its most life-threatening form.[103] Rates of micronutrient deficiencies are also high.[122] According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS 2010), 49 percent of women and 88 percent of children under the age of five suffer from anemia.[122] Forty percent of infant deaths can be attributed to malnutrition, and in turn, these infant mortality rates have decreased Burkina Faso's total work force by 13.6 percent, demonstrating how food security affects more aspects of life beyond health.[118]
These high rates of food insecurity and the accompanying effects are even more prevalent in rural populations compared to urban ones, as access to health services in rural areas is much more limited and awareness and education of children's nutritional needs is lower.[123]
Approaches to improving food security[edit]World Food Programme[edit]The World Food Programme has several projects it is working on that are geared towards increasing food security in Burkina Faso. The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 200509 (PRRO) was formed to respond to the high levels of malnutrition in Burkina Faso, following the food and nutrition crisis in 2012.[100] The efforts of this project are mostly geared towards the treatment and prevention of malnutrition and include take home rations for the caretakers of those children who are being treated for malnutrition.[100] Additionally, the activities of this operation contribute to families' abilities to withstand future food crises. Better nutrition among the two most vulnerable groups, young children and pregnant women, prepares them to be able to respond better in times when food security is compromised, such as in droughts.[100]
The Country Programme (CP) has two parts: food and nutritional assistance to people with HIV/AIDS, and a school feeding program for all primary schools in the Sahel region.[124] The HIV/AIDS nutrition program aims to better the nutritional recovery of those who are living with HIV/AIDS and to protect at-risk children and orphans from malnutrition and food security.[124] As part of the school feeding component, the Country Programme's goals are to increase enrollment and attendance in schools in the Sahel region, where enrollment rates are below the national average.[100] Furthermore, the program aims at improving gender parity rates in these schools, by providing girls with high attendance in the last two years of primary school with take-home rations of cereals as an incentive to households, encouraging them to send their girls to school.[100]
World Bank[edit]The World Bank was established in 1944, and is comprised of five institutions whose shared goals are to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to promote shared prosperity by fostering income growth of the lower forty percent of every country.[125] One of the main projects the World Bank is working on to reduce food insecurity in Burkina Faso is the Agricultural Productivity and Food Security Project.[126] According to the World Bank, the objective of this project is to "improve the capacity of poor producers to increase food production and to ensure improved availability of food products in rural markets."[126] The Agricultural Productivity and Food Security Project has three main parts. Its first component is to work towards the improvement of food production, including financing grants and providing 'voucher for work' programs for households who cannot pay their contribution in cash.[126] The project's next component involves improving the ability of food products, particularly in rural areas.[126] This includes supporting the marketing of food products, and aims to strengthen the capabilities of stakeholders to control the variability of food products and supplies at local and national levels.[126] Lastly, the third component of this project focuses on institutional development and capacity building. Its goal is to reinforce the capacities of service providers and institutions who are specifically involved in project implementation.[126] The project's activities aim to build capacities of service providers, strengthen the capacity of food producer organizations, strengthen agricultural input supply delivery methods, and manage and evaluate project activities.[126]
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Retrieved 26 April 2014. ^Allan, Tuzyline Jita (1997). Women's Studies Quarterly: Teaching African Literatures in a Global Literary. Feminist Press. p. 86. ISBN 1-55861-169-X. Retrieved 26 April 2014. ^Marchais, Julien (2006). Burkina Faso (in French). Petit Fut(C). pp. 91''92. ISBN 2-7469-1601-0. Retrieved 26 April 2014. ^"Oxfam's Cool Planet '' Food in Burkina Faso". Oxfam. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2008. ^[1] article in French on Burkinabe Zoom-kom^Spaas, Lieve (2000) "Burkina Faso," in The Francophone Film: A Struggle for Identity, pp. 232''246. Manchester: Manchester University Press, ISBN 0719058619.^Tur(C)gano, Teresa Hoefert (2005) African Cinema and Europe: Close-Up on Burkina Faso, Florence: European Press Academic, ISBN 888398031X.^"The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA.com. Retrieved 10 July 2013. ^Keim, Marion (2014) [1st pub. 2014]. "COUNTRY PROFILE OF SPORT AND DEVELOPMENT - Sport and Popularity". Sport and Development Policy in Africa - Results of collaborative study of selected country cases. SUN PRESS. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-920689-20-9. ^"Radiodiffusion-T(C)l(C)vision Burkina". Rtb.bf. Retrieved 1 October 2009. ^Radio Station World, Burkina Faso: Governmental Broadcasting Agencies^ abCommittee to Protect Journalists, Burkina Faso^ abReporters Sans Frontieres, What's Happening About The Inquiry Into Norbert Zongo's Death?^ abReporters Sans Frontieres, Outrageous Denial Of Justice 21 July 2006^IFEX, Radio Station Temporarily Pulls Programme After Host Receives Death Threats, 26 April 2007^FreeMuse.org, Death threat against Reggae Radio Host, 3 May 2007^Keita, Mohamed, Burkina Faso Police Question Zongo Protesters, Committee to Protect Journalists, 15 December 2008^ abcdefghij"Burkina Faso | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme - Fighting Hunger Worldwide". www.wfp.org. Retrieved 2015-10-19. ^Pinstrup-Andersen, Per (21 January 2009). "Food security: definition and measurement"(PDF). Food Security. ^"Burkina Faso ICE Case Study". www1.american.edu. Retrieved 2015-11-02. ^ abc"ECHO Factsheet - Burkina Faso"(PDF). European Commission. ^"USAID Office of Food for Peace Burkina Faso Food Security Country Framework"(PDF). United States Agency International Development. ^Burns, Cate (April 2004). "A review of the literature describing the link between poverty, food insecurity and obesity with specific reference to Australia"(PDF). VicHealth. ^Hagberg, Sten. Poverty in Burkina Faso. 2001. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:67217/FULLTEXT01.pdf^Youngblood Coleman, Denise (2015). "Burkina Faso 2015 Country Review". Burkina Faso Country Review. ^Sasson, Albert (2012). "Food security for Africa: an urgent global challenge"(PDF). Agriculture and Food Security. ^Headey, Derek, and Shenggen Fan. Reflections on the global food crisis: How did it happen? How has it hurt? And how can we prevent the next one?. Vol. 165. 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TitleREMOTE SENSING 14, no. 8 (1993): 1495-1515. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01431169308953983#.Vjcg3bdY5Bc^ ab"Coping with household-level food insecurity in drought-affected areas of Burkina Faso"(PDF). ac.els-cdn.com. doi:10.1016/0305-750X(88)90109-X. Retrieved 2015-11-02. ^Roncoli, Ingram, and Kirshen (2001). "The costs and risks of coping with drought: livelihood impacts and farmers' responses in Burkina Faso". https://www.agriskmanagementforum.org/sites/agriskmanagementforum.org/files/Documents/drought%20burkina%20faso%202001.pdf. ^"Global Hunger Index | IFPRI". www.ifpri.org. Retrieved 2015-11-20. ^ abcd"UN World Food Program". www.wfp.org. Retrieved 2015-10-19. ^ ab"The Cost of Hunger in Africa: Burkina Faso 2015"(PDF). African Union Commission. ^"Statistics". UNICEF. Retrieved 2015-10-19. ^"Education of Marginalized Populations in Burkina Faso". ^ ab"The DHS Program - Burkina Faso: DHS, 2010 - Final Report (French)". dhsprogram.com. Retrieved 2015-10-19. ^"Gains and losses as Burkina Faso fights child hunger". IRINnews. Retrieved 2015-10-19. ^ ab"Burkina Faso Brief"(PDF). World Food Programme. ^"What We Do". www.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2015-11-02. ^ abcdefg"Projects : Agricultural Productivity and Food Security Project | The World Bank". www.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2015-11-02. Bibliography[edit]Rupley, Lawrence; Bangali, Lamissa and Diamitani, Boureima (2013). Historical Dictionary of Burkina Faso. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6770-3. Further reading[edit]Engberg-Perderson, Lars, Endangering Development: Politics, Projects, and Environment in Burkina Faso (Praeger Publishers, 2003).Englebert, Pierre, Burkina Faso: Unsteady Statehood in West Africa (Perseus, 1999).Howorth, Chris, Rebuilding the Local Landscape: Environmental Management in Burkina Faso (Ashgate, 1999).McFarland, Daniel Miles and Rupley, Lawrence A, Historical Dictionary of Burkina Faso (Scarecrow Press, 1998).Manson, Katrina and Knight, James, Burkina Faso (Bradt Travel Guides, 2011).Roy, Christopher D and Wheelock, Thomas G B, Land of the Flying Masks: Art and Culture in Burkina Faso: The Thomas G.B. Wheelock Collection (Prestel Publishing, 2007).Sankara, Thomas, Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983''1987 (Pathfinder Press, 2007).Sankara, Thomas, We are the Heirs of the World's Revolutions: Speeches from the Burkina Faso Revolution 1983''1987 (Pathfinder Press, 2007).External links[edit]Trade International membership
U.S. plans to add drone base in West Africa - The Washington Post
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:25
The U.S. military is planning a new drone base in Africa that would expand its surveillance of al-Qaeda fighters and other militants in northern Mali, a development that would escalate American involvement in a fast-spreading conflict.
Two Obama administration officials said military planners are eyeing the West African country of Niger as a base for unarmed Predator drones, which would greatly boost U.S. spy missions in the region.
A U.S. defense official called the plan ''preliminary'' and said the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House and the government of Niger would all have to approve. ''But it would be a good place to be, in terms of access,'' the official added.
The plan to locate Predator drones in West Africa was first reported Monday by the New York Times on its Web site.
If approved, the plan would fill a gap in the Pentagon's military capabilities over the Sahara, which remains beyond the reach of its drone bases in East Africa and southern Europe. U.S. officials said the plan was to use the Predators strictly for surveillance missions, not airstrikes, but they acknowledged that the drones could easily be armed if circumstances changed.
Drones and spy planes over AfricaThe U.S. military has been flying a handful of small turboprop surveillance planes over northern Mali and West Africa for years, but the PC-12 aircraft are limited in range and lack the sophisticated sensors that Predators carry.
Some senior U.S. officials have also worried that the PC-12 aircraft could be shot down by militants with a shoulder-fired missile. The U.S. ambassador to Mali, Mary Beth Leonard, suspended the flights over Mali last year because of concerns that a pilot or crew could be held hostage if forced to make an emergency landing, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The PC-12 turboprops have been largely based in Burkina Faso, a small West African country that shares a long border with Mali. One option under consideration at the Pentagon would be to deploy drones to Burkina Faso as well, possibly at a military base in Ouagadougou, the capital.
But Niger has been gaining favor since last year, when the U.S. military relocated one of the PC-12 turboprop planes to the capital, Niamey, after reaching an agreement with Niger officials, according to a current and a former U.S. official familiar with the operation. The United States also won permission for the surveillance aircraft to refuel in the northern city of Agadez, the officials said.
Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the chief of the U.S. military's Africa Command, visited Niger this month to discuss expanding the military relationship between the two countries, U.S. officials said.
Deploying unmanned Predators to the region would eliminate the risk of crew capture in the event of a shoot-down or accident, but it would also greatly increase the number of U.S. troops on the ground. A Predator base could require as many as 250 Air Force personnel to launch and maintain the drones, as well as to provide protection for U.S. troops.
In comparison, the PC-12s require a tenth as many people to operate, and the Pentagon has mostly outsourced those missions to private contractors.
''You've just upped the ante,'' said the former U.S. official, who worked on counterterrorism programs in West Africa and said the idea of moving Predators to the region has been discussed for two years. ''You've militarized the problem.''
In recent days, the United States and Niger have finalized a new ''status of forces'' agreement that would permit the expanded presence of U.S. troops in the country.
The Obama administration has increased counterterrorism assistance to Niger in recent years and sent Special Forces personnel there on training missions, but the numbers have been limited to a dozen or so troops at a time.
The Pentagon has been hamstrung in its effort to gain better intelligence about the growing number of al-Qaeda fighters and other extremists in the Sahara because of a lack of bases in the region, but also because of legal restrictions on what it can do on Malian territory.
The Obama administration withdrew trainers and shut off military aid to Mali in March after a coup there toppled a democratically elected government. U.S. officials cannot resume military assistance to Mali until it holds new elections '-- a far-fetched prospect, given the political turmoil there.
U.S. officials said they were facing a balancing act over the need to improve their intelligence collection amid a reluctance to send more aircraft or troops to the region.
''With Niger, the first question is, is this something they're willing to host?'' said a senior U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. ''If the answer is yes, then the question is, can you accomplish something like that with an acceptable footprint?''
As a condition of winning permission for a drone base, the U.S. government might be required to share intelligence from the flights with the Niger military '-- an added complication that has scuttled or limited other partnerships in the region, U.S. officials said.­­
Craig Whitlock covers the Pentagon and national security. He has reported for The Washington Post since 1998.
THE CIA SHILL-Alassane Ouattara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:23
Alassane Dramane Ouattara (French pronunciation: [alasan wataʁa] (listen); born 1 January 1942) is an Ivoirian politician who has been President of C´te d'Ivoire since 2011. An economist by profession, Ouattara worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - where he rose to be deputy head - [1] and the Central Bank of West African States (French: Banque Centrale des ‰tats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, BCEAO), and he was the Prime Minister of C´te d'Ivoire from November 1990 to December 1993, appointed to that post by President F(C)lix Houphout-Boigny.[2][3][4][5] Ouattara became the President of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), an Ivorian political party, in 1999.
Early life[edit]Ouattara was born on 1 January 1942[2][3] in Dimbokro in central Ivory Coast.[6] He is a descendant on his father's side of the Muslim rulers of Burkina Faso, then part of the Kong Empire (aka the Wattara (Ouattarra) Empire); Ouattara himself is of Muslim background.[7] He received a bachelor of science degree in 1965 from the Drexel Institute of Technology, which is now called Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2] Ouattara then obtained both his master's degree in economics in 1967 and a PhD in economics in 1972 from the University of Pennsylvania.[2]
In 1991, Ouattara was married to Dominique Nouvian, a French businesswoman, who was born Jewish but later became Catholic.[7] Their wedding ceremony was held in the town hall of the prestigious 16th arrondissement of Paris. Some[who?] have claimed that the marriage ceremony was presided over by French President Nicolas Sarkozy when he was mayor of Neuilly.[8]
Career at financial institutions[edit]He was an economist for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C.[3] from 1968 to 1973, and afterwards he was the BCEAO's Charg(C) de Mission in Paris from 1973 to 1975.[2][3] With the BCEAO, he was then Special Advisor to the Governor and Director of Research from February 1975 to December 1982 and Vice Governor from January 1983 to October 1984. From November 1984 to October 1988 he was Director of the African Department at the IMF, and in May 1987 he additionally became Counsellor to the Managing Director at the IMF.[3] On 28 October 1988 he was appointed as Governor of the BCEAO, and he was sworn in on 22 December 1988.[9] Ouattara has a reputation as a hard-worker, keen on transparency and good governance.[1]
Prime Minister[edit]In April 1990, the IMF under the Structural Adjustment Program forced the Ivorian President to accept Ouattara as Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Coordination of the Stabilization and Economic Recovery Programme of C´te d'Ivoire. While holding that position, Ouattara also remained in his post as BCEAO Governor. He subsequently became Prime Minister of C´te d'Ivoire on 7 November 1990 still under the IMF imposition,[3][9] after which Charles Konan Banny replaced him as Interim BCEAO Governor.[9]
While serving as Prime Minister, Ouattara also tried, illegally and against the constitution, to carry out presidential duties for a total of 18 months, including the period from March to December 1993, when Houphout-Boigny was ill.[10] Houphout-Boigny died on 7 December 1993, and Ouattara announced his death to the nation, saying that "C´te d'Ivoire is orphaned".[11][12] A brief power struggle ensued between Ouattara and Henri Konan B(C)di(C), the President of the National Assembly, over the presidential succession in total disregard for the constitution that clearly gave Bedi(C) the legal right to lead the country if Houphouet became unfit. B(C)di(C) prevailed and Ouattara resigned as Prime Minister on 9 December.[13] Ouattara then returned to the IMF as Deputy Managing Director, holding that post from 1 July 1994,[2][3] to 31 July 1999.[3]
1995 election[edit]Prior to the October 1995 presidential election, the National Assembly of C´te d'Ivoire approved an electoral code which barred candidates if either of their parents were of a foreign nationality and if they had not lived in C´te d'Ivoire for the preceding five years. It was widely thought these provisions were aimed at Ouattara. Owing to his duties with the IMF, he had not resided in the country since 1990. Also, his father was rumoured to have been born in Burkina Faso. The Rally of the Republicans (RDR), an opposition party formed as a split from the ruling Democratic Party of C´te d'Ivoire (PDCI) in 1994, sought for Ouattara to be its presidential candidate. In late June 1995, RDR Secretary-General Dj(C)ni Kobina met with Ouattara, at which time, according to Kobina, Ouattara said "I'm ready to join you".[14] The party nominated Ouattara as its presidential candidate on 3 July 1995[15] at its first ordinary congress.[16] The government would not change the electoral code, however,[14] and Ouattara declined the nomination.[17][18] The RDR boycotted the election, along with the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of Laurent Gbagbo, leaving the PDCI's candidate, incumbent president Henri Konan B(C)di(C), to win an easy victory.[14]
President of the RDR[edit]While serving as Deputy Managing Director at the IMF, in March 1998 Ouattara expressed his intention to return to C´te d'Ivoire and take part in politics again.[19] After leaving the IMF in July 1999, he was elected President of the RDR on 1 August 1999 at an extraordinary congress of the party,[20] as well as being chosen as its candidate for the next presidential election.[21] He said he was eligible to stand in the election, pointing to documents he said demonstrated that he and his parents were of Ivorian birth.
He was accused of forging these papers, however, and an investigation was begun.[22][23] President B(C)di(C) described Ouattara as a Burkinab(C) and said that Houphout-Boigny "wanted Alassane Ouattara to concern himself only with the economy".[24] Ouattara's nationality certificate, issued in late September 1999,[25] was annulled by a court on 27 October.[25][26] An arrest warrant for Ouattara was issued on 29 November, although he was out of the country at the time; he nevertheless said that he would return by late December.[27]
On 24 December, the military seized power, ousting B(C)di(C). Ouattara returned to C´te d'Ivoire after three months in France on 29 December, hailing B(C)di(C)'s ouster as "not a coup d'(C)tat", but "a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people".[28][29]
A new constitution, approved by referendum in July 2000, controversially barred presidential candidates unless both of their parents were Ivorian,[30] and Ouattara was disqualified from the 2000 presidential election.[31] The issues surrounding this were major factors in the Civil war in C´te d'Ivoire, which broke out in 2002.
When asked in an interview about Ouattara's nationality, Burkinab(C) President Capt. Blaise Compaor(C) responded, "For us things are simple: he does not come from Burkina Faso, neither by birth, marriage, or naturalization. This man has been Prime Minister of C´te d'Ivoire."
President Gbagbo affirmed on 6 August 2007 that Ouattara could stand in the next Ivorian presidential election.[32] Ouattara was designated as the RDR's presidential candidate at its Second Ordinary Congress on 1''3 February 2008; he was also re-elected as President of the RDR for another five years. At the congress, he invited the former rebel New Forces, from whom he had previously distanced himself, to team up with the RDR for the election.[33]
At the time, Ouattara said publicy that he did not believe Gbagbo would organize transparent and fair elections. (He was right because the north was occupied by armed rebels.)[34]
The RDR and the PDCI are both members of the Rally of Houphoutistes, and while Ouattara and B(C)di(C) ran separately in the first round, each agreed to support the other if only the other made it into a potential second round.[33]
2010 presidential election and aftermath[edit]The presidential elections that should have been organized in 2005 were postponed until November 2010. The preliminary results announced by the Electoral Commission showed a loss for Gbagbo in favour of his rival, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara. The ruling FPI contested the results before the Constitutional Council, charging massive fraud in the northern departments controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de C´te d'Ivoire (FNCI). These charges were contradicted by international observers. The report of the results led to severe tension and violent incidents. The Constitutional Council, which consists of Gbagbo supporters, declared the results of seven northern departments unlawful and that Gbagbo had won the elections with 51% of the vote (instead of Ouattara winning with 54%, as reported by the Electoral Commission). After the inauguration of Gbagbo, Ouattara, recognized as the winner by most countries and the United Nations, organized an alternative inauguration. These events raised fears of a resurgence of the civil war; thousands of refugees have fled the country.[48] The African Union sent Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, to mediate the conflict. The United Nations Security Council adopted a common resolution recognising Alassane Ouattara as winner of the elections, based on the position of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Ivory Coast from all its decision-making bodies[49] while the African Union also suspended the country's membership.[50] In 2010, a Colonel of the Ivory Coast armed forces, Nguessan Yao was arrested in New York in a year-long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation charging for procuring and illegal export weapons and munitions of 4,000 9-mm handguns, 200,000 rounds of ammunition and 50,000 tear-gas grenades, in violation of UN embargo. Several other Ivory Coast officers were released for their diplomatic passports. His accomplice, Michael Barry Shor, an international trader, was located in Virginia.
After months of unsuccessful negotiations and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a critical stage as Ouattara's forces seized control of most of the country, with Gbagbo entrenched in Abidjan, the country's largest city. International organizations reported numerous instances of human rights violations by both sides. In the city of Du(C)kou(C), hundreds of people were estimated to have been killed, predominantly by advancing pro-Ouattara militias. In nearby Blolequin, dozens of people were killed, reportedly by retreating Liberian mercenaries who had been hired by pro-Gbagbo forces.[52] UN and French forces took military action against Gbagbo. Gbagbo was taken into custody after a raid into his residence on 11 April. It was initially thought he was captured by French forces, however Ouattara's envoy to the UN claimed it was their forces who captured him,[53] and the French deny any involvement in his arrest. The country was severely damaged by the war, and observers consider that it will be a challenge for Ouattara to rebuild the economy and reunite Ivorians.[35]
The developments in the country have been welcomed by world leaders. U.S. President Barack Obama applauded news of the latest developments in C´te d'Ivoire and CNN quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying Gbagbo's capture "sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants.... They may not disregard the voice of their own people".[36]
Second presidency term, 2015''present[edit]Alassan Ouattara won a second five-year term with almost 84% of the vote. With 2,118,229 votes, or 83.66% of votes cast, and a 54.63% turnout Mr. Ouattara's victory is a landslide compared to the 50% required to avoid a run-off and the 9% of his closest rival Pascal Affi N'Guessan
2012 marriage law row[edit]In a controversial move in November 2012, President Ouattara sacked his government in a row over a new marriage law that would make wives joint heads of the household. His own party supported the changes but the elements of the ruling coalition resisted, with the strongest opposition coming from the Democratic Party of C´te d'Ivoire.[37]
References[edit]^ ab"Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara in profile", BBC News Online, 11 April 2011.^ abcdefProfile at IMF website at the Wayback Machine (archived December 21, 2005), 12 December 2005.^ abcdefghCV at Ouattara's website(French).^"A tale of 2 presidents". CBC News. 25 March 2011. ^"Gbagbo: Preventing ECOWAS military misadventure in Cote d'Ivoire". ^Aislinn Laing, "Ivory Coast: Alassane Ouattara profile", The Telegrah, 6 April 2011.^ ab"C´te d'Ivoire's new president - The king of Kong - Alassane Ouattara takes charge but can he keep the peace?"The Economist, 20 April 2011.^"La revanche des Ouattara". Le Parisien, 17 April 2011.^ abc"Basic texts and milestones", bceao.int.^"Houphout-Boigny et ADO: du comit(C) interminist(C)riel la Primature", ado.ci (French).^"D(C)c¨s du Pr(C)sident F(C)lix Houphout-Boigny", ado.ci (French).^"African Leader Dies", Newsday, 8 December 1993.^"Prime minister decides to quit", Associated Press (San Antonio Express-News), 10 December 1993.^ abcMundt, Robert J. (1997). "C´te d'Ivoire: Continuity and Change in a Semi-Democracy". In Clark, John Frank; Gardinier, David E. Political Reform in Francophone Africa. Boulder: Westview Press. pp. 194''197. ISBN 0-8133-2785-7. ^"Jul 1995 - Selection of Ouattara as RDR presidential candidate", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 41, July 1995 Cote d'Ivoire, p. 40630.^Coulibaly Brahima, "C´te d'Ivoire: Organisation du 2¨me congr¨s ordinaire du Rdr, des cadres manoeuvrent pour le report", Nord-Sud (allAfrica.com), 27 July 2007 (French).^"ADO est (C)lu Pr(C)sident du RDR, le 1er Ao>>t 1999", ado.ci (French).^"Oct 1995 - Presidential elections", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 41, October 1995 Cote d'Ivoire, p. 40759.^"Ivorian ex-premier to quit IMF for return to politics", BBC News Online, 30 March 1998.^Biography at Ouattara's website(French).^"Ivorian opposition elects former premier as presidential candidate", Associated Press, 1 August 1999.^"C´te d'Ivoire: Police arrest scores outside politician's home", IRIN, 15 September 1999.^"Ivory Coast opposition leader under investigation", BBC News Online, 22 September 1999.^"C´te d'Ivoire: Former political foes strike pact to oust Gbagbo", IRIN, 18 May 2005.^ ab"Cote d'Ivoire: Court annuls presidential candidate's nationality certificate", AFP, 27 October 1999.^"Opposition leader blasts 'undemocratic' government", BBC News Online, 29 October 1999.^"C´te d'Ivoire: Arrest warrant issued for opposition politician", IRIN, 9 December 1999.^"Ivory Coast coup a 'popular revolution'", BBC News Online, 29 December 1999.^"COTE D'IVOIRE: Former Prime Minister returns home", IRIN, 4 January 2000.^"Jul 2000 '' Referendum on new constitution", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 46, July 2000 Cote d'Ivoire, p. 43661.^Daddieh, Cyril K. (2001). "Elections and Ethnic Violence in C´te d'Ivoire: The Unfinished Business of Succession and Democratic Transition". African Issues29 (1''2): 14''19. doi:10.2307/1167104. ^"La pr(C)sidentielle envisag(C)e par Gbagbo pour fin 2007", L'Humanit(C), 8 August 2007 (French).^ ab"Alassane Ouattara prªt s'associer aux ex-rebelles", AFP (Jeuneafrique.com), 3 February 2008.^""We Don't Believe Gbagbo Will Organise Transparent Elections" Michael Deibert interviews Alassane Ouattara". Inter Press Service. October 23, 2007. ^Thalia Griffiths (11 April 2011). "The war is over '' but Ouattara's struggle has barely begun". London: The Guardian. ^"Obama, Clinton welcome new developments". CNN. 11 April 2011. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011. ^Ouattara dissolves Ivorian government over marriage law, United Kingdom: BBC News, 2012, retrieved 16 November 2012 External links[edit](French)Alassane Ouattara.com Political Web site from Ouattara's circle of influence.
Why Burkina Faso's Coup Is A Disaster For Africa
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:20
Every week, we bring you one overlooked aspect of the stories that made news in recent days. You noticed the media forgot all about another story's basic facts? Tweet @TheWorldPost or let us know on our Facebook page.
Amilitary coupthrew Burkina Faso back into political turmoil this week, less than a year after a popular uprising ousted a long-serving autocrat and brought hopes of democratic change in the West African nation.
The country was preparing for its first democratic elections, scheduled for Oct. 11, sincepopular protests ended the 27-year ruleof former President Blaise Compaore last October.
But on Wednesday, soldiers burst into a cabinet meeting and took the country's interim President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida and two government ministers captive.
The coup leaders, calling themselves the National Council for Democracy, appeared on Burkinabe television on Thursday to announce that they had taken power. Thousands poured onto the streets around the country to protest the coup.
"I am worried and against the putschists. We are demonstrating because we want the [democratic] transition process to unfold," protester Aissata Kabor told Reuters.
At least six people were killed and 60 were wounded when security forces opened fire on the protesters.
The junta said Friday they hadfreed Kafandoand his ministers, but were keeping Zida under house arrest. Protests against the power grab continued in cities around the country, and union leaders announced a nationwide strike.
Here's the story behind the dramatic turn of events in Burkina Faso, and what it means for the country and the rest of the Africa.
Theo Renaut/Associated Press People rallied outside the presidential palace on Wednesday after soldiers arrested Burkina Faso's transitional president and prime minister.Who's behind the coup?The coup was carried out by members of the presidential guard, known by its French acronym RSP. As the BBC's Lamine Konkoboexplains, the elite unit was set up for self-protection by Compaore and is seen as still loyal to the former president.
The RSP frequently operates independently from other forces, and it was not yet clear how much support they had from the rest of the military.
Compaore is living in exile in the Ivory Coast. He has so far kept silent on the coup and the juntadenied he was in any way involved, although some fear he could be quietly planning to stage a comeback.
Whatever Compaore's role, the seizure of power was led by his closest political ally. Gen. Gilbert Diendere, named Thursday as chairman of the so-called National Council for Democracy, was Compaore's right-hand man during his nearly three decades of autocratic rule.
"He became Compaore's shadow," Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa project director for the International Crisis Group,told Reuters. "He's kind of a Burkinabe J. Edgar Hoover. Diendere is a master of intelligence, information, organisation and control."
Ahmed Ouoba/Getty Images Gen. Gilbert Diendere was named leader of the military junta on Thursday.What do they want?The generals claimed to be acting in the interest of the country, saying that the upcoming elections would be too divisive because Compaore's supporters were barred from running. The transitional government passed an electoral law in April blocking members of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress party -- and anyone who supported his bid to extend his rule last year -- from elected office.
However, the unit may have had even more pressing concerns -- to stop the interim government disbanding it. Two days before the coup, the government's national reconciliation commission hadrecommended the RSP be dissolved and its members integrated into the national force, saying it had become"an army within an army."
Tensions between the RSP and the transitional government had been brewing for months. Senior RSP officersdemanded that Prime Minister Zida resign in June after he called for the unit to be disbanded. Zida, a former RSP commander himself, expressed concern that he was under threat, and began to moderate his criticism of the RSP.
The unit is controversial on many fronts. The regular army resents theprivileges and money lavishedon the elite guard under the previous president. Human rights groupsaccuse it of having used excessive force during the peaceful uprising of 2014, in which at least 24 people were killed. Thousands of protesters attendedrallies against the RSPin Burkina Faso earlier this year, accusing the unit of meddling in politics and intimidating the general population.
Credit: Theo Renaut/Associated Press At least six people were killed and 60 wounded in protests against the coup on Thursday.What happens next?The generals have pledged not to stay in power long and said they will just oversee preparations for more inclusive elections. Analysts, however, say it's unlikely elections will go ahead as scheduled. Politicians and civil society have reacted in outrage.
The speaker of the transitional parliament, Cheriff Sy, declared himself the country's leader Thursday, and urged the rest of the military not to support the coup.
Regional leaders rushed to negotiate a way out of the crisis. Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin, representing the Economic Community of West African States,arrivedin the country on Friday to oversee mediation efforts.
History suggests that this coup may not last long, Denver University research fellow Jonathan Pinckney writes in Foreign Policy. The combination of massive public protests and political opposition, as seen in Burkina Faso, has in the past stopped the military uniting behind coup leaders, he explains. And the RSP, a force of around only 1,300, will need the rest of the military's support to keep control of the country.
Even so, there is no simple way to resolve the crisis, as neither side has much willingness to negotiate, International Crisis Group West Africa Analyst Cynthia Ohayonpoints out. She does believe public opposition and international pressure will eventually force a solution, but argues that it may take some time.
Will the effects of the coup be felt outside the country?Burkina Faso is aclose military allyof the U.S. and France in their fight against extremist militants in the region, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Qaeda linked groups in Mali. So, world powers have an interest in preserving their alliance, and ensuring the country remains stable.
More immediately, the coup is also a symbolic setback for Africans struggling for democratic change across the continent. The peaceful ouster of Compaore last year gave hopeto democracy advocates in several African countries -- including Angola, Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- where long-standing leaders continue to cling to power. Some protesters predicted a ''Black Spring'' in Africa.
The coup hurts all African democrats, Ohayon explains:
If the elections had taken place smoothly, this would have been a huge step forward for the country and this could have set a precedent for other countries. But the uncertainty that now prevails means Burkina Faso could be thrown back years in terms of democratisation. This will be used as an argument by autocratic leaders to show that when they leave power, instability automatically follows.
Related on HuffPost:
People protesting against the recent coup in the street as they walk among the burnt remains of tires in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015.(AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
People protesting against the recent coup in the street as they walk among the burnt remains of tires in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015.(AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
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People protesting against a recent coup in the street of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
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A young boy carrying a wooden stick as tiers burn, in background, as he and others protest against a recent coup in the street of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
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Burkina Faso protestors take to the streets in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
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Residents burn tires along a street in Ouagadougou on September 17, 2015. (AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)
AHMED OUOBA via Getty Images
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Burkina Faso's troops patroll in Ouagadougou on September 17, 2015. (AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)
AHMED OUOBA via Getty Images
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Burkina Faso protestors shout out as they take to the streets in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
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A Burkina Faso protestor holds a loaded slingshot as others gesture, in the city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Theo Renaut)
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Widow Sues Twitter for Alleged Aid to Islamic State - Yahoo News
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:13
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Nuland
NewsRoomAmerica.com - Press Releases: Assistant Secretary Nuland Travels to Trakai, Bucharest, Sofia, Davos, and Ankara
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:11
Assistant Secretary Nuland Travels to Trakai, Bucharest, Sofia, Davos, and Ankara
Media NoteOffice of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 13, 2016
On January 13, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland will travel to Trakai, Lithuania where she will meet with senior Lithuanian government officials and attend the annual Snow Meeting on Euro-Atlantic security issues, which brings together key members of the transatlantic foreign policy community.
She will travel to Bucharest, Romania, to meet with senior Romanian government officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including security and economic cooperation and government reform efforts.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, Assistant Secretary Nuland will meet with senior Bulgarian government officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including energy security and diversification efforts, defense modernization and cooperation, as well as government reform efforts.
Assistant Secretary Nuland will then travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 20, for a range of meetings with senior foreign government officials.
On January 22, she will accompany Vice President Biden on his visit to Istanbul, Turkey.
The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251199.htm
Victoria Nuland to have closed-door talks with Russian presidential aide near Kaliningrad
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 18:53
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KALININGRAD, January 15. /TASS/. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has arrived in Russia's Kaliningrad region on Friday from Lithuania, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry's office in the Kaliningrad region told TASS. She will hold a meeting here with Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.
"Victoria Nuland is already in the Kaliningrad region. In the afternoon today she is meeting Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov," the source said. They will have closed-door consultations in the Russian president's residence in the town of Pionerskiy on the Baltic Sea coast, the ministry's office said.
The Kommersant daily reported earlier on Friday with reference to its own sources that Nuland and Surkov planned to hold consultations "around the fulfilment of the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine's south-eastern Donbas region."
Agenda 2030
Human climate influence means we're skipping an ice age
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:12
According to a new study published in Nature, human-generated climate change -- specifically the massive additions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere -- is causing the Earth to effectively delay the start of the next ice age by 100,000 years. Typically, ice ages occur once every 50,000 years or so; as they have in at least eight regularly intervalled times in the Earth's history.
The study's lead author, Andrey Ganopolski, and his team employed an advanced computer model incorporating atmospheric, oceanic, ice sheet and carbon emission data to simulate the effects of humanity's CO2 emissions on the volume of ice in the Northern Hemisphere. What they found was not reassuring. "Even without man-made climate change we would expect the beginning of a new ice age no earlier than in 50.000 years from now - which makes the Holocene as the present geological epoch an unusually long period in between ice ages," Ganopolski said in a statement. "However, our study also shows that relatively moderate additional anthropogenic CO2-emissions from burning oil, coal and gas are already sufficient to postpone the next ice age for another 50,000 years. The bottom line is that we are basically skipping a whole glacial cycle, which is unprecedented."
Bengahzi
THE GUARDIAN REVIEW IS IN-13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi review '' Michael Bay plays politico for the Fox News crowd | Film | The Guardian
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 14:20
Guns for hire '... Pablo Schreiber as Kris 'Tanto' Paronto, John Krasinski as Jack Silva and David Denman as Dave 'Boon' Benton in 13 Hours. Photograph: AP
Midway through Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, interrupting its bizarre mix of war pornography and dour isolationist posturing, there's a shoehorned moment of mawkishness. Jack (John Krasinski) is one of the ex-armed forces contractors taking a babysitting job as security to CIA specialists halfway around the world. He's Skyping with his wife and daughters, and if that doesn't telegraph what motivates him to stay alive, he learns he's going to be a father again. This most human moment in the 144-minute film raises the stakes, and does double duty as product placement, set as it is at a McDonald's drive-thru, Happy Meals references flavouring the wholesome family sentiment. 13 Hours is as American as microwaved apple pie.
Detailing the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic (and, later, espionage) compound in Benghazi, Libya, in all its thudding, bloody brutality, 13 Hours is an extraordinary artifact, a film that makes you long for the subtlety of something like Black Hawk Down. It stars a half dozen interchangeable bearded, buff men with names like Boon, Tig, Rone, Bub and Oz. One looks a bit more like Metallica's James Hetfield than the others and another is black, but the rest are a clone army. They are guns for hire for a secret CIA base run by pansy twerps from Harvard and Yale who barely know how to wipe their own asses without checking a rulebook. The nasally egghead chief (David Costabile) explains to newcomer Jack that flexing too much muscle where the natives can see isn't a good idea. But just outside the window, one of the boys is yawping and dragging enormous blocks of concrete around in his short shorts like this is some kind of Steve Reeves picture. Behind him, a bleating pen of sheep, defenceless to slaughter.
An off-the-books facility in an unstable country means the enemy is everywhere. Benghazi is a shithole where they sell RPGs in the street. ''They're all bad guys until they're not'', and ''you can't tell the good guys from the bad'', we're warned. Muezzins lead the call to prayer and shifty-looking brown people scowl from behind their glasses of tea. But listen, we already know they hate us. The real enemy in 13 Hours is more insidious '' those half-assed pencil pushers. If they'd just get out of the way and let a soldier do his job, we'd finally accomplish something and make America great again.
Watch the trailer for 13 HoursDon't tell me this movie isn't political. Michael Bay's Benghazi bonanza is timed for release just before the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. It'll hit DVD in time for the general election. There are approximately 400,000 instances in this not-very-subtle screenplay where Fox News viewers are cued to hiss at a phantom Hillary Rodham Clinton, the right wing's scapegoat for the missteps that kept the Benghazi outpost fighting so long without backup. As these brave men take fire, their inquiries about air support become a clear indictment against a perceived US policy of pussification. While the boondoggle portrayed in 13 Hours may be based on fact, this is movie is fuelled by paranoia and hate. Paranoia about a culture too foreign to grasp except as a bunch of mindless monsters, and hate against a government that won't let us destroy them.
Abhorrent politics aside, it's also a terrible movie. The dialogue is atrocious, the performances rote. One could make the case that its incoherence is a grand meta-narrative statement about the fluidity of combat, but I don't think that's the case. It's impossible to tell who anybody is. Instead, we're told what to feel by the music and booms. Our boys fall asleep when ''true believer'' Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya at the time of the attack, gives his speech about common ground between two nations, but they will risk it all to save his hide from the swarm of ''bad guys'' surrounding his quarters, as in Cy Endfield's Zulu.
They don't save him, however, and that's only because the chief won't grant them authority to act in time. They eventually take their own initiative, leading to an awful lot of shooting and chasing. From an action-adventure point of view, all but a sequence inside an armoured car are pretty standard. Any emotion turns to guffaws when a family snapshot happens to float into frame just as a particularly destructive mortar hits.
''Your country's gotta figure this shit out,'' one of the bearded good guys says to his translator as he rides away, and Bay plays it without a shred of irony. The most interesting aspect of 13 Hours is its low esteem for interventionism. Honour in service comes from interacting with your fellow soldiers, but the service itself is pointless and the leaders are idiots. This bloody, explosive love letter to soldiers of fortune ends up, in a twisted way, as a call for pacifism. Maybe Michael Bay is a genius after all.
Obama Nation
The Insiders: The Obamacare calamity can't be swept under the rug - The Washington Post
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 04:55
While most of the media have tuned out and the chattering class has mostly moved on, a recent article by Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View, ''Obamacare delivers. Just not very much,'' reminded me that the calamity that is Obamacare can't be swept under the rug. It is clear nothing will keep President Obama from declaring victory on every front, but the fact is, Obamacare is a bust. As a result, the next president will be confronted with the reality that at the end of the day, all Obamacare amounts to is a convoluted expansion of Medicaid that we can't afford.
Let's reflect on the passage of Obamacare. There were three central things voters really wanted and were promised when Obamacare was debated and passed. First, they wanted to keep their doctors and health plans if they liked them. Second, they wanted to ensure they would have lower rates. (Plus, President Obama also made the extra promise that premiums would go down by $2,500 per year for a typical American family.) And third, those with preexisting conditions wanted a way to find health insurance coverage. And of course, the central purpose of the whole exercise was to insure the uninsured. Well, Obamacare has theoretically fixed the preexisting-conditions issue, but in doing so, everything else about the health insurance system has gone up in smoke, and most of the problems are only getting worse.
Even if the White House and the Democrats convince themselves that Obamacare is spent as a political issue, the problems actually associated with our health-care system are not going to go away, and they will demand attention from the next president. After being such a pivotal issue in the 2012 and 2014 elections, Obamacare has moved out of the spotlight. In the RealClearPolitics polling average, the disapproval rating for Obamacare has dropped from 52 percent in April to a current 48 percent disapproval rating. There is Obamacare fatigue on the Hill, and no presidential campaign has the issue front and center. But if Republicans can just fight the 2016 health-care battle to a draw, it would represent a huge victory for the GOP.
So where do we go from here? What will the next president be confronted with? Obamacare has led to increased premiums, skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses for consumers, businesses cutting back on what benefits they offer their employees, plans that offer less coverage, medical taxes that will stifle innovation and hurt vulnerable Americans and a huge number of people who will remain uninsured. The next president will need to deal with the colossal failure of Obamacare. Obama and the Democrats have created a system that is inadequate, unaffordable and unsustainable. It will be front and center for the next president, and it should play a major role in the 2016 campaign.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
The Real Story Behind the Phony Canceled Health Insurance Scandal | Mother Jones
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 04:48
In 2009, when President Barack Obama first promised that people who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it under the Affordable Care Act, he overlooked one critical fact: Many of the health policies that Americans like are terrible insurance plans that were created to scam consumers.
Over the past few weeks, insurers have been sending out hundreds of thousands of notices alerting customers that their current plans won't comply with the ACA as of January 1 and that the owners of these plans need to find alternatives. Republicans and conservatives pointed to the development as evidence that Obama lied. Several prominent right-wingers who were covered under these plans, including Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, have helped fuel this outcry. When Malkin got her cancelation notice, she went on the Twitter warpath. She later wrote a piece for the National Review slugged, "Obama lied. My health plan died." Malkin had a high-deductible plan from Anthem Blue Cross that doesn't meet the minimum coverage requirements created by the ACA. So she has to get a new plan on the state health exchange. Malkin blamed Obamacare for destroying the individual insurance market.
The media have covered these complaints with gusto, as if the cancelations are a genuine crisis and indication of a failure of Obama's health care law. The ACA was designed specifically to prevent insurance companies from peddling lousy insurance plans and to force these firms to replace these subpar products with affordable plans providing better and effective coverage. The plans being canceled are ending because they offered insufficient coverage'--and only a few years ago both Rs and Ds were upset about these kinds of plans. But there's been collective amnesia about the shoddy plans that GOPers have happily exploited in recent days. Perhaps Obama should have said, "Those of you who obtain insurance on the individual market can keep your plans unless it's the sort of rip-off plan the ACA will forbid. Otherwise, you will be offered new options that actually give you decent coverage at a decent price."
Here's what led to the current situation: In the early aughts, the number of people with employer-based coverage declined dramatically. That left an increasing number of Americans uninsured and about 30 million adults underinsured and at serious financial risk. The Commonwealth Fund estimates that between 2003 and 2010, the number of underinsured Americans nearly doubled.
The fastest growing group of underinsured was people in households around the national median income, the $40,000 to $50,000 annual income range'--folks who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but who don't have employer-sponsored plans or who can't afford the ones they're offered. Insurance companies jumped into the void with a lot of products Consumer Reports dubbed "junk insurance." These were plans that barely qualified as insurance because they had very low caps on coverage or weren't even really insurance at all. Many were merely medical discount programs that didn't protect against health-related financial calamity. Insurance companies, including many of the biggest, marketed these products aggressively and often misleadingly'--which was made easier by the lack of disclosure requirements in the sale of health insurance. Regulators struggled to protect consumers because so many of the junk plans were perfectly legal.
Take the case of HealthMarkets Inc., a company owned by the Goldman Sachs Group and Blackstone Group, two Wall Street giants. It had run-ins with state regulators repeatedly regarding its sale of junk health insurance on the individual market. The company paid out more than $40 million in settlements with state attorneys general over its deceptive sales practices between 2008 and 2010. In 2009, for example, after a long investigation, the Massachusetts attorney general fined the company $17 million and banned it from doing business in the state for five years.
HealthMarkets was also plagued with individual consumer lawsuits and class actions. Among those who sued the company was Doug Christensen, a cancer survivor who bought a HeathMarkets plan from the National Association for the Self-Employed. A sales rep had knocked on the door of his office and offered him a policy for $434 a month that would cover him and his wife, and include $100,000 worth of chemotherapy coverage. He didn't realize that the bargain policy had a host of limitations, including a cap on drug expenses at $1,000 per day, which wasn't close to what the treatment ended up costing when his bone cancer returned. Doug eventually died, and his widow was left with $450,000 in unpaid medical bills because the policy was so bad. She won a $1.7 million settlement with the company in 2005.
Stories like these had been standard fare for years before Obamacare. Even Republicans got outraged. In 2008, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) launched an investigation into AARP's limited benefit health plans and held a hearing on junk insurance plans. He was inspired by a Wall Street Journal article about a Texas woman, Lisa Kelly, who was diagnosed with leukemia and required cancer treatment. She was referred to the M.D. Anderson Center in Houston. When she called to schedule her first chemo appointment, the hospital told her to bring with her a check for $45,000. Kelly had a limited-benefit policy sold by AARP that required her to pay all of the medical costs up front. Then it would reimburse her $7,500 per procedure, which didn't cover the treatment cost.
Grassley's staff investigated the AARP's plan and discovered that the insurance company was using highly deceptive marketing practices. When he made the results public, Grassley decried the evils of the individual health insurance marketplace saying, "It's not better than nothing to encourage people to buy something described as 'health security' when there's no basic protection against high medical costs."
AARP ended up discontinuing some, but not all, of the plans. Today, the individual market is still plagued by consumer abuses that have left many people at risk of medical bankruptcy or lack of access to care. "A lot of insurance that is sold today is like a Swiss cheese insurance policy. It's insurance that doesn't really insure,'' says Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a health care advocacy group that supports the ACA.
Many of the plans on the individual market are so bad that people who have them might as well be uninsured. "The only people who like those plans are people who have never needed them," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor at Consumer Reports. "They haven't figured out yet how terrible they are. They think they have good coverage but they don't."
A good example might be Dianne Barrette, 56, who appeared on CBS News with Jan Crawford last week for a segment about the wave of cancelations. Barrette, a realtor in Florida, was upset because her $54 a month insurance plan was being canceled. She believed a new one would cost her more than $500 a month due to Obamacare. "What I have right now is what I'm happy with," she said. "I just want to know why I can't keep what I have. Why do I have to be forced into something else?"
But here's the rub: Barrette's $54 plan wasn't even insurance. When I talked to her, she was unsure of what her plan covered. But she said it was what Blue Cross calls a "supplemental" or discount plan, which only pays $50 toward doctor's office visits and a few other out-patient services, including mammograms. What her plan doesn't cover: hospitalization. Not at all. So if she gets hit by a car, the people ultimately picking up the tab will be the hospital and everyone else (by way of higher medical costs). If she gets cancer, she's basically out of luck. "It's all I could afford," she told me.
Blue Cross was selling these plans in malls and other retail insurance "shops" in an effort to target young people who don't have or don't think they need health insurance, luring them in with cheap premiums of between $24 to $54 a month. The plans came with a not-well-disclosed caveat that they were not designed to replace hospital-surgical plans, which Blue Cross encouraged people to buy'--provided the purchasers could get past all the exclusions for preexisting conditions.
Blue Cross is now canceling 300,000 plans in Florida, and, no doubt, a lot of them are such "Go Blue" plans. (A spokesman from Blue Cross of Florida wouldn't answer any specific questions about which plans are getting canceled.) The ACA was designed to replace plans like the one Barrette bought. And every plan sold on the Obamacare exchanges must provide a minimum and meaningful level of coverage, including free preventive care, mental health and maternity coverage, hospitalization, and rehabilitation services that are indispensable for anyone who has a disability, who becomes injured in a bad accident, or who has a degenerative disease such as multiple sclerosis. These plans don't have annual or lifetime coverage limits of any sort. And the insurance companies selling plans on the exchange must disclose coverage terms in such a way that people know what they're getting and can compare similar plans.
Much of the recent media coverage treats the old junk plans as a national treasure, their loss a true scandal. Far from being a victim of Obamacare, Barrette should have been a story about someone who will benefit immensely from the Affordable Care Act. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation premium calculator, Barrette, who makes about $30,000 a year, is eligible for an annual tax credit of up to $3,967 a year, which could get her a silver plan on the exchange for $234 a month (in cost to her), or a bronze plan, with slightly higher out of pocket costs, for $97 a month. True, with the bronze plans, she'd be paying $43 a month more, but in return, she would have true protection and access to health care, not sham coverage. A bronze plan would replace her $50 doctor's office discount with free preventive care services, including mammograms, cover hospitalization and other services, and cap her out of pocket costs at slightly more than $6,000 a year. Barrette should be cheering the death of her old plan.
The same is true of the other conservatives who've groused about losing a plan, including Malkin. As Metcalf points out, "If they're having to cancel out a plan with a $10,000 deductible and end up with a plan with a $2,500 deductible, that's a better plan, period." Pollack says, "As people now get real protection, the premiums may be somewhat higher, but it's a different product and you're saving money on the back end. The Affordable Care Act eliminates lousy coverage, which ultimately saves cost for people when they receive care."
BUGS!
8 'superfoods' to watch out for in 2016
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 14:48
(C) Getty Images/Sean Gallup, Provided by Business Insider The UN has declared that 2016 is the international year of the pulses.Superfoods are gaining popularity'--and for good reason.
They directly support the immune system, reduce inflammation, support mental health, pack a nutritional punch, and boost energy, stamina and longevity.
Here are eight superfoods to watch in 2016 that are not only good for you, but also good for the planet:
1. Crickets
(C) Reuters/Damir Sagolj, Provided by Business Insider Crickets are loaded with protein. They also ''thrive in hotter climates and survive off decaying waste and very little water and space,'' Mother Jones reported. For this reason, crickets and other insects have been hailed as the ''next climate-friendly superfood.'' They can be ground into baking flour or protein powder, and added to cookies, brownies or milkshakes.
While eating crickets'--or any type of insect for that matter'--hasn't completely caught on in the U.S., it's making progress. Last year, fast food chain Wayback Burgers put out a fake press release as an April Fool's joke about insect-filled milkshakes, but the idea was so popular that they rolled out their Oreo Mud Pie Cricket Protein Milkshake.
2. Pulses
They're the dried seeds of lentils, beans and chickpeas'--and the UN has declared 2016 to be their year. They already make up 75 percent of the average diet in developing countries, but only 25 percent in developed ones, according to the UN.
That could all change, though. Pulses contain 20 to 25 percent protein by weight, approaching the protein levels of meat, which average 30 to 40 percent. They also require far less water than meat to produce.
3. Amaranth
(C) Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider ''Amaranth is the new quinoa,'' trend expert Daniel Levine told The Huffington Post. It's a grain-like seed that cooks quickly and can be added to salads, soups and stews.
It's a complete source of protein just like quinoa, and it is loaded with fiber, B vitamins and several important minerals. Additionally, it's been shown to reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
4. Kefir
(C) Shutterstock, Provided by Business InsiderKefir is the trendiest fermented food right now (sorry, kombucha and kimchi). It's high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health. Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.
To make it, ''grains'' (yeast and lactic acid bacteria cultures) are added to cow or goat milk. The concoction ferments over a 24-hour period and then the grains are removed from the liquid.
5. Teff
(C) Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider Sometimes written as tef or t'ef, this pseudo-grain (it's technically a seed) has a high nutritional profile and a taste similar to that of amaranth or quinoa. This ancient grain has survived for centuries without much hybridization or processing. Like most other ancient grains, it's high in fiber, calcium and iron.
Traditionally cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff can be grown in a variety of conditions. Teff ''thrives in both waterlogged soils and during droughts, making it a dependable staple wherever it's grown. No matter what the weather, teff crops will likely survive, as they are also relatively free of plant diseases compared to other cereal crops,'' Whole Grains Council said.
''Teff can grow where many other crops won't thrive, and in fact can be produced from sea level to as high as 3,000 meters of altitude, with maximum yield at about 1,800-2,100 meters high,'' the council said. ''This versatility could explain why teff is now being cultivated in areas as diverse as dry and mountainous Idaho and the low and wet Netherlands.''
6. Moringa
(C) Shutterstock, Provided by Mental Floss It's often called the ''the miracle tree'' or the ''tree of life,'' according to TIME. It's commonly found in Asian and African countries, and almost every part of it'--pods, leaves, seeds and roots'--is edible. It's a good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and iron. Not only does it pack a nutritional punch, it's also a fast-growing, drought-tolerant plant that is a promising biofuel and medicinal source.
7. Kelp
(C) Shutterstock, Provided by Business Insider Kelp grows super fast (up to two feet per day), and requires neither freshwater nor fertilizer. ''And rather than contributing to our carbon footprint, as many fertilizers and food sources do, seaweed cleanses the ocean of excess nitrogen and carbon dioxide,'' Mother Jones reported. One kelp farmer on the Long Island Sound even claims he's restoring the ocean while producing a sustainable food and fuel source.
8. Waste-based food
(C) Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch, Provided by Business Insider This isn't as weird as it sounds. In order to reduce food waste, restaurants are finding creative ways to use the edible parts of plants and animals that are often thrown out. Last year, award-winning chef Dan Barber held a two-week pop-up at Blue Hill, his restaurant in New York City, where he cooked with spent grain, cocoa beans, pasta scraps and vegetable pulp.
NGO's
Netanyahu: We'll pass NGO bill, without labeling representatives - Israel News, Ynetnews
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 15:00
Prime minister defends contentious proposal, saying 'demand for transparency is not anti-democratic' and that Israel was merely 'adopting the norms accepted by the US Congress.' Yael Friedson
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he will work to promote a bill proposal for increased monitoring of NGOs, but without a controversial clause requiring NGO representatives to identify as such.
"I do not understand how a requirement for transparency is anti-democratic; the opposite is true. In a democratic regime, we need to know who is financing such NGOs, from the Right, the Left, up or down; financing by governments is certainly something the public should know about," Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. "What needs to be done is adopt the norms accepted by the US House of Representatives."
The prime minister said he would make two changes to the proposal: "First, to drop the demand that representatives of these NGO's wear tags in the Knesset '' this is unnecessary. Second, to require reports about the first shekel or dollar from foreign governments."
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the legislation, declined to comment on Netanyahu's statements.
The Transparency Law (also known as the NGOs Law) was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs last month.
The legislative proposal seeks to increase transparency in NGOs and public-benefit corporations which receive most of their funding from other countries. However, the bill would not apply to NGOs funded by private foreign donors, which has led to outrage in the opposition.
The bill requires NGOs who receive more than half of their funding from other countries to make a note of this in publications and reports released to the public. These NGOs will also have to state that fact in any inquiry made to an elected public representative or public official, as well as in discussions of public nature. The NGOs will be required to state the names of the countries that donated to them and the years the donations were made.
The original proposal also seeks to impose on representatives of these NGOs the same rules that apply to lobbyists at the Knesset, including wearing an identity badge detailing the name of the person and the NGO they represent. Representatives found without such a badge will have their entry permit to the Knesset revoked.
NGOs failing to comply with the new legislation will receive a fine of up to NIS 29,200.
"I actually believe the meddling of foreign countries in the regime and policies of another country is the real danger to democracy," Shaked said last month. "It cannot be that the EU contributes to NGOs acting on behalf of the State of Israel when in fact they are being used as a tool by foreign countries to implement their own policies."
After the US Embassy in Israel released statements opposing the proposed legislation, Netanyahu told foreign journalists last week, "I fail to understand how greater transparency is anti-democratic. I think it's the most obvious request in any democracy."
He argued that the legislation in the US is much stricter, requiring NGOs to report every dollar in foreign donations.
The European Union also expressed reservations about the legislation, with officials in the EU saying that "Israel should be very careful about reigning in its prosperous democratic society with laws that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes."
BTC
VOLATILITY-OCCUPY BITCOIN BS-Bitcoin Has Now Died 89 Times '-- Medium
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 03:47
Bitcoin Has Now Died 89 Times
There is a website called ''Bitcoin Obituaries'' that lists all the claims that Bitcoin has died. The newest, claim #89, came this week and it was one of the loudest so far. Bitcoin early adopter & developer Mike Hearn published an article claiming Bitcoin is a failed experiment.
I've been involved in Bitcoin since 2011 and I've been following Hearn for a long time and I have also followed the blocksize debate closely. I think Hearn is going way over the top with his claims and I'm going to try to explain how. Also I'm going to explore the ''why'' -territory a little bit as well.
I'll go through the problems he lists in the early part of the article:
''Couldn't move your existing money''
There is no problem moving money in the Bitcoin network. It works at the moment just as it has worked all the time for the last 7 years. I moved money through the Bitcoin network yesterday and our company moves money through it every day, including today. And quite successfully.
Hearn is predicting there will be bigger problems in moving money in the future but it is not a problem of that level right now. And here I'd like to add that the Bitcoin community is more active than ever before at fixing the capacity problems before they become a problem as bad as Hearn is predicting.
''Had wildly unpredictable fees that were high and rising fast''
This is actually true but I'd like to note that the average fees are still in the cent range. So a couple of cents per transaction. They are ''wildly unpredictable'' in the sense that you may have to pay 4 cents instead of 2 cents on some occasions (which is a 100% increase, so it is wild!). They have also been rising fast recently (percentage wise) due to the capacity problem of the Bitcoin network.
Again it's important to note that this is a positive problem. Bitcoin is being used *too much* that the network is congested. This will be fixed as there are large incentives to fix it but the problem has been hard as there are considerations to make (the decentralization of the network). But as the network becomes more congested, pressure to make quick fixes (which are possible) is becoming larger.
And most importantly, as the fees are still in the cent range, this is not a fatal problem.
''Allowed buyers to take back payments they'd made after walking out of shops, by simply pressing a button (if you aren't aware of this ''feature'' that's because Bitcoin was only just changed to allow it)''
This refers to a new feature called RBF (Replace-By-Fee) which allows resending transactions with a higher fee. It's useful if a transaction gets stuck and is not confirming because the fee wasn't originally high enough to push through the congestion.
Hearn is again referring to a future where this allows rampant double spending. Currently it does not since it is opt-in from the sender and merchants / receivers could simply disallow quick payments if its enabled. And this gives the user incentive to not use the opt-in RBF for quick payments that rely on 0-conf.
For use cases not related to 0-conf quick payments, RBF is actually quite useful, so this is NOT black & white like Hearn is trying to paint it. I'm personally very much against usage where RBF is a default option but having it there as a tool for certain use cases does make sense.
''Is suffering large backlogs and flaky payments''
This is true in that there is sometimes high traffic periods in the network which certainly cause high backlogs and flaky payments. This is a major problem but there is increased pressure to solve it. Hearn is simply quite impatient about this, more impatient than anyone in the Bitcoin community.
'''... which is controlled by China''
This again is true in the sense that Chinese miners together control around 50% of the mining power of the Bitcoin network. But as with all of Hearn's claims, it's extremely black & white.
First of all these Chinese miners are multiple separate entities, not one entity. They could, together, join up and do bad stuff if they wanted to. But there are very high incentives in Bitcoin to not do bad stuff as a miner. It makes *no sense*. Any added distrust in the network will always lead to decreases in bitcoin value and that is catastrophic to miners.
Throughout the whole blocksize / capacity debate the miners have been the most conservative party. They are looking for the community at large to take initiative on the capacity increases and then they can come in and actually implement the upgrade to the Bitcoin network.
Additionally, it is actually the p2p full nodes of the Bitcoin network that enforce protocol rules. Not miners alone. So at the end the miners are always working for the network, not the other way around.
'''... and in which the companies and people building it were in open civil war?''
This is actually the most clearly true criticism of all. There has been a serious Bitcoin community fork and it has resorted to multiple camps and lots of politics, which didn't previously exist. It's currently pretty bad.
But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Bitcoin is an unfinished experiment in all the possible ways'Š'--'Štechnical, social, economical. Current challenge is technical, it's economical but maybe more than anything it's social. It's the biggest social challenge of Bitcoin ever to date.
Every day of Bitcoin is a struggle. It's always a struggle. But it has always pushed through all challenges and I'm fairly confident personally that it will push through this governance issue as well.
Recently the community came up with a competitive Bitcoin version called Bitcoin Classic. Adoption of Bitcoin Classic would immediately increase Bitcoin network's capacity if the upgrade gets enough backing.
Additionally the reference implementation of Bitcoin called Bitcoin Core is also currently working on capacity improvements that are mainly based on a technique called Segregated Witness. It is already implemented at a SegWit testnet and is progressing quickly.
Due to Hearn's post and the resulting price crash there is actually more momentum than ever to push an upgrade to the protocol. One way or another, capacity increases *are coming* to the Bitcoin network and I'd bet they are coming sooner rather than later.
Finally I'd like to explore the background of Hearn's post which is concerning to me. I've liked Hearn in the past actually but his recent moves have been increasingly negative.
Mike Hearn recently got a new job at R3 which is a blockchain project backed by over 30 major banks. Then he posts an article on Medium and the NYT that states his old 'employer' has a lot of problems. This context is important especially if we look at Hearn's past problems with the Bitcoin community.
Mike has been at odds with a part of the Bitcoin community for a long time. Especially those that highly value the decentralized / anarchistic nature of Bitcoin.
It seems clear Mike doesn't really value those things at all, he has always thought of Bitcoin as an efficient global payment network. He gives almost no value to decentralization / freedom from censorship.
On the other hand the Bitcoin community is more or less very concerned about those things and think they are of the highest value. There are many degrees to this of course, but Hearn seems to be on the very end of the spectrum of not caring.
And technically speaking the whole struggle is about how much we should value decentralization vs efficiency in processing transactions.
I'm personally somewhat in the middle ground, I think decentralization is vital but we should try to increase Bitcoin's capacity as much as possible without seriously compromising the decentralized nature of the system.
I personally think that Bitcoin Classic is a good initiative. Their technical proposal doesn't hurt the decentralization of Bitcoin in any significant way but gives the network some breathing room in terms of capacity.
But I also think Bitcoin Core is doing good work and I partially agree with Core's scaling roadmap. And SegWit is an important upgrade since it not only increases capacity but eliminates transaction malleability (which is a great improvement).
In my next post I'm going to talk about the co-existence of Bitcoin Core & Bitcoin Classic. As I very much believe these two competing implementations can co-exist even if only one of them actively pushes for a hard fork.
I think competition between clients can be possible in a healthy manner even if only one of them originally challenges the consensus rules. It's all in the attitude of the developers and who they think they are serving as developers. But more on this in my next article which I will publish soon.
Disclaimer: These opinions are my personal opinions only. The company that I have co-founded in Bitcoin space does not currently have an official stance on any of these issues and is staying neutral for now.
Migrants
Migrant men banned from German pool
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:57
Image copyrightEPAImage caption The behaviour of men from a nearby asylum seekers' shelter apparently caused women to leave A German town has banned male asylum seekers from a public swimming pool after women complained of harassment.
A government official in Bornheim said men from a nearby asylum shelter would be barred until they "got the message" that such behaviour was not acceptable.
It follows outrage over hundreds of sexual assaults in nearby Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve.
Those attacks, by men of mainly Arab and North African origin, raised tensions over the influx of migrants.
More than 1.1 million people claimed asylum in Germany in 2015.
Image copyrightAFPImage caption It is unclear how the ban will be enforced The head of the social affairs department in Bornheim - about 20km (12 miles) south of Cologne - said the move to ban migrant men followed increasing number of reports of inappropriate behaviour from female swimmers and staff members.
"There have been complaints of sexual harassment and chatting-up going on in this swimming pool... by groups of young men, and this has prompted some women to leave," Markus Schnapka told Reuters.
He said none of the complaints involved a crime being committed, but that social workers in the town would help to ensure the asylum seekers changed their behaviour.
It is unclear how this rule will be enforced, although Germany is set to introduce new ID cards for migrants in February.
Correspondents say the pool ban is the latest sign of increased tensions following the Cologne attacks.
On Thursday, the authorities in another town in west Germany, Rheinberg, cancelled a carnival parade planned for February over security concerns.
Rheinberg's public security chief, Jonny Strey, told German media that events in Cologne had influenced the decision and that officials were worried about from men from migrant backgrounds misbehaving.
Rheinberg Mayor Frank Tatzel later denied this, according to Reuters.
Cologne authorities expressed concern about the city's own carnival in February following the NYE attacks, promising to step up security and public awareness.
An opinion poll on Friday showed public anxiety increasing over the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Germany.
In the research, published by broadcaster ZDF (in German), 66% of the 1,203 respondents said Germany could not handle the arrivals, up from 46% in December.
Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure over her policies to welcome refugees, also fell - with 39% of people agreeing the chancellor was doing a "good job" in this area, down from 47% in December.
Switzerland defends migrant assets law
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:56
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Asylum seekers in Switzerland are required to declare their assets on arrival The Swiss government has defended its law requiring asylum seekers to hand over assets in excess of $1,000 (£700; '‚¬900) following international criticism of similar proposals in Denmark.
Assets were reportedly seized in just over 100 cases in Switzerland last year out of almost 30,000 asylum applications.
The Swiss Refugee Council has criticised the practice as unworthy.
But the government says the policy reflects the will of Swiss voters.
The UN refugee agency and human rights groups have condemned Danish proposals to seize migrants' cash and other individual items worth more than 10,000 kroner (£1,000; '‚¬1,340, $1,450) to pay for their stay.
Danish MPs debated the plans on Wednesday and the bill is expected to be voted on later in the month.
Asylum seekers in Switzerland are required to declare their assets on arrival, and anything over $1,000 can be taken.
The authorities collected a total of 210,000 Swiss francs ($210,000; '‚¬200,000) from 112 people in 2015 under the regulation, public broadcaster SRF reported on Thursday (in German).
Government spokeswoman Lea Wertheimer told Swiss television: "Swiss law states that asylum-seeking refugees who have money have to contribute to the costs that they cause while being here.
"And that's why we take their valuables away once they arrive in Switzerland."
Image copyrightReutersImage caption A centre for refugees in the Glaubenberg area in central Switzerland But Stefan Frey, from the Swiss Refugee Council, described the practice as "daylight robbery".
"This is unworthy" he was quoted as saying. "This has to change."
A Syrian man told Swiss television that he had been forced to sell his house to pay people traffickers to help his family flee the conflict in their country, but the money left over was seized when he arrived in Switzerland.
"In Zurich we were controlled by the police. They took away all our money," he said, explaining that he had about £2,000 at the time.
"It seems that it is their right to take it away. They gave us a receipt. The officers promised that the money would be returned, but until now this has not happened."
On Wednesday, the UNHCR criticised the proposals being considered in Denmark, saying it was hard to believe that the country wanted to confiscate the few belongings that asylum seekers had managed to save.
But Integration Minister Inger Stojberg said the measures simply put migrants on an equal footing with jobless Danes, who must sell assets above a certain level to claim benefits.
Wedding rings and other items of sentimental value will not be included in the plans.
Unlike Denmark, Switzerland is not a member of the EU - but it is part of the Schengen Agreement, which is supposed to enable passport-free travel between countries.
Some countries have reintroduced border controls amid concerns over the arrival of more than a million migrants in Europe last year.
Out There
Why 120 Volts?-Electrical system of the International Space Station - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:13
The electrical system of the International Space Station is a critical resource for the International Space Station (ISS) because it allows the crew to live comfortably, to safely operate the station, and to perform scientific experiments. The ISS electrical system uses solar cells to directly convert sunlight to electricity. Large numbers of cells are assembled in arrays to produce high power levels. This method of harnessing solar power is called photovoltaics.
The process of collecting sunlight, converting it to electricity, and managing and distributing this electricity builds up excess heat that can damage spacecraft equipment. This heat must be eliminated for reliable operation of the space station in orbit. The ISS power system uses radiators to dissipate the heat away from the spacecraft. The radiators are shaded from sunlight and aligned toward the cold void of deep space.
Solar array wing[edit]Each ISS solar array wing (often abbreviated "SAW") consists of two retractable "blankets" of solar cells with a mast between them. Each wing uses nearly 33,000 solar cells and when fully extended is 35 metres (115 ft) in length and 12 metres (39 ft) wide.[1] When retracted, each wing folds into a solar array blanket box just 51 centimetres (20 in) high and 4.57 metres (15.0 ft) in length.[2] The ISS now has the full complement of eight solar array wings.[3]
The solar arrays normally track the Sun, with the "alpha gimbal" used as the primary rotation to follow the Sun as the space station moves around the Earth, and the "beta gimbal" used to adjust for the angle of the space station's orbit to the ecliptic. Several different tracking modes are used in operations, ranging from full Sun-tracking, to the drag-reduction mode ("Night glider" and "Sun slicer" modes), to a drag-maximization mode used to lower the altitude. See more details in the article at Night Glider mode.
Batteries[edit]Since the station is often not in direct sunlight, it relies on rechargeable nickel-hydrogen batteries to provide continuous power during the "eclipse" part of the orbit (35 minutes of every 90 minute orbit). The batteries ensure that the station is never without power to sustain life-support systems and experiments. During the sunlit part of the orbit, the batteries are recharged. The batteries have a design life of 6.5 years which means that they must be replaced multiple times during the expected 20-year life of the station.[4] The batteries and the battery charge/discharge units are manufactured by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L),[5] under contract to Boeing.[6]
Power management and distribution[edit]The power management and distribution subsystem operates at a primary bus voltage set to Vmp, the peak power point of the solar arrays. As of December 30, 2005, Vmp was 160 volts DC (direct current). It can change over time as the arrays degrade from ionizing radiation. Microprocessor-controlled switches control the distribution of primary power throughout the station.
The battery charge/discharge units (BCDUs) regulate the amount of charge put into the battery. Each BCDU can regulate discharge current from two battery ORUs, and can provide up to 6.6 kW to the Space Station. During insolation, the BCDU provides charge current to the batteries and controls the amount of battery overcharge. Each day, the BCDU and batteries undergo sixteen charge/discharge cycles. The Space Station has 24 BCDUs, each weighing 100 kg.[5]
SSU[edit]Eighty-two separate solar array strings feed a sequential shunt unit (SSU) that provides coarse voltage regulation at the desired Vmp. The SSU applies a "dummy" (resistive) load that increases as the station's load decreases (and vice versa) so the array operates at a constant voltage and load.[7] The SSUs are provided by SS/L.[5]
DC-to-DC conversion[edit]DC-to-DC converter units supply the secondary power system at a constant 124.5 volts DC, allowing the primary bus voltage to track the peak power point of the solar arrays.
Thermal Control[edit]The thermal control system regulates the temperature of the main power distribution electronics and the batteries and associated control electronics. Details on this subsystem can be found in the article External Active Thermal Control System.
Station to shuttle power transfer system[edit]The Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS; pronounced spits) allowed a docked Space Shuttle to make use of power provided by the International Space Station'ssolar arrays. Use of this system reduced usage of a shuttle's on-board power-generating fuel cells, allowing it to stay docked to the space station for an additional four days.[8]
SSPTS was a shuttle upgrade that replaced the Assembly Power Converter Unit (APCU) with a new device called the Power Transfer Unit (PTU). The APCU had the capacity to convert shuttle 28 VDC main bus power to 124 VDC compatible with ISS's 120 VDC power system. This was used in the initial construction of the space station to augment the power available from the Russian Zvezda service module. The PTU adds to this the capability to convert the 120 VDC supplied by the ISS to the orbiter's 28 VDC main bus power. It is capable of transferring up to 8 kW of power from the space station to the orbiter. With this upgrade both the shuttle and the ISS were able to use each other's power systems when needed, though the ISS never again required the use of an orbiter's power systems.[citation needed]
During mission STS-116, PMA-2 (then at the forward end of the Destiny module) was rewired to allow for the use of the SSPTS.[9] The first mission to make actual use of the system was STS-118 with Space Shuttle Endeavour.[10]
Only Discovery and Endeavour were equipped with the SSPTS. Atlantis was not equipped with the SSPTS, so could only go on shorter length missions than the rest of the fleet.[11]
References[edit]^"Spread Your Wings, It's Time to Fly". NASA. July 26, 2006. ^"STS-97: Photovoltaic array assembly". NASA. November 9, 2000. ^"International Space Station - Solar Power". Boeing. ^"Nickel-Hydrogen Battery Cell Life for International Space Station". NASA. ^ abcSpace Systems Loral, International Space Station reference sheet, dated 2/98 (accessed May 9 2012)^"Space Systems/Loral awarded $103 million contract to build critical power systems for the International Space Station" (Press release). Loral. July 8, 2003. ^"Options Studied for Managing Space Station Solar Array Electrical Hazards for Sequential Shunt Unit Replacement". NASA. ^"STS-118 crew interview, Station to Shuttle Power System". space.com. ^"Aft flight deck payloads switch list for handover". Ascent Checklist STS-116(PDF). Mission Operations Directorate Flight Design and Dynamics Division. October 19, 2006. p. 174. ^"STS-118 MCC Status Report #05". NASA. August 10, 2007. ^Gebhardt, Chris (November 16, 2009). "Fuel Cell 2 issue cleared '' Atlantis in perfect launch". NASAspaceflight.com. External links[edit]
Raw
What Donald Trump's Plaza Deal Reveals About His White House Bid - NYTimes.com
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 03:44
The day Donald Trump called and asked for a one-on-one meeting in the winter of 1988, Tom Barrack was a relative newcomer to the high-stakes poker game of New York real estate. He had worked for nearly two years for Robert Bass, the Texas billionaire investor, and had played an important role in winning the Plaza Hotel for his boss the year before. Mr. Trump was the country's most quotable and ostentatious financial celebrity, a guy with a jet, a 282-foot yacht and a fondness for peach-toned marble.
But among the people he negotiated with, Mr. Trump had a reputation for both steeliness and finesse. So Mr. Barrack was wary. A mere four months after Mr. Bass had taken control of the Plaza, he gave Mr. Barrack the go-ahead to put it up for auction. Mr. Trump was calling to say, in effect, skip the auction. We'll strike a deal, the two of us, right here in my office.
''Just come over,'' Mr. Trump said, in Mr. Barrack's recollection. ''Give me half an hour.''
Mr. Barrack was soon sitting in Mr. Trump's office in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. The two had met a few times, because Mr. Trump had been angling to acquire the Plaza for years. Now that it was going back on the market, Mr. Trump didn't want to miss out.
''How can I live without it?'' Mr. Trump asked, gesturing to the Plaza, which could be seen from his window, just two blocks north. ''It's right in my backyard.''
''You should own it,'' Mr. Barrack replied. ''But you're going to have to pay for it.''
Mr. Trump quickly agreed to a price of slightly more than $400 million, an unprecedented sum for a hotel at the time. Just a few years later, the Plaza wound up in bankruptcy protection, part of a vast and humiliating restructuring of some $900 million of personal debt that Mr. Trump owed to a consortium of banks. Never one for regrets, Mr. Trump today regards the purchase as a triumph.
''To me the Plaza was like a great painting,'' he said in an interview in late December. ''It wasn't purely about the bottom line. I have many assets like that and the end result is that they are always much more valuable than what you paid for them.''
Thomas Barrack Jr., the aspiring deal maker who orchestrated the sale of the Plaza to Mr. Trump.
Peter Foley / Bloomberg
How Mr. Trump came to own, operate and then lose the Plaza reveals a lot about his business style. For decades, Mr. Trump has boasted of his boardroom skills in self-exalting speeches and books. As the front-runner in the Republican presidential race, he frequently argues that his corner-office prowess uniquely suits him to negotiate with world leaders.
What does this prowess look like up close? In the Plaza tale, Mr. Trump demonstrated both strengths (an ability to charm or strong-arm, as the occasion required) and weaknesses (a kind of hungry impatience that left him searching for new trophies as soon as one had been acquired). His methods as a political candidate mirror his methods as an executive, say those who have dealt with the latter and seen the former. In fact, the more you know about Mr. Trump's past, the more his run for high office looks like an effort to close the biggest deal of his life.
''He has the ability to imagine what the other party wants him to be and then be that person,'' said Michael D'Antonio, author of ''Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success.'' ''He presents the Trump that will work in the moment.''
A Disarming DealmakerWhen Mr. Trump made that call to Mr. Barrack he was 41 and New York City's showiest developer. Then, as now, his braggadocio could sound like a parody of braggadocio. There was, for instance, the moment in 1984 when he told The Washington Post he could handle the United States' side of nuclear arms talks with the Soviets.
''It would take an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,'' he boasted. ''I think I know most of it anyway.''
By 1987, he had casinos in Atlantic City, a mansion in Palm Beach, Trump Tower, all the trappings of an up-and-coming tycoon, along with a best seller, ''The Art of the Deal.'' What Mr. Trump lacked was the kind of old-money Manhattan landmark that would add prestige to his portfolio.
The Plaza, which he'd been yearning to buy since his mid-20s, was that landmark. The hotel had opened in 1907, a 19-story French Renaissance ''chateau'' with roughly 800 rooms. It billed itself as ''the world's most luxurious hotel,'' and over the years its habitu(C)s included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich and Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived there while construction of the Guggenheim Museum was underway. When the Beatles performed on ''The Ed Sullivan Show'' in 1964, they stayed at the Plaza.
Interactive Feature | Donald Trump: Presidential Candidates on the Issues Read the latest updates from Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bass came into possession of the Plaza when he, along with a Japanese corporation, bought its owner, the Westin chain. Mr. Bass was enamored with the hotel's history and cachet, but he had little experience in the hospitality industry.
As Mr. Bass pondered the matter, Mr. Barrack, who was based in Manhattan, started to appreciate that the Plaza could fetch an irresistible price. By February 1988, he was readying an auction.
It was around this time that Mr. Trump picked up the phone and requested that half-hour meeting with Mr. Barrack at Trump Tower.
To understand what happened next, you need to know that in every real estate deal, the two big variables are price and contingencies. The latter come after an initial purchase price is agreed to and are essentially conditions demanded by the buyer after a thorough inspection of the property. A condition could be a problem with the plumbing, the roof or a thousand other particulars, and every condition can reduce the price of the property. With a building as old as the Plaza, a proper inspection could take months and include union contracts and an assortment of licenses for food and drink.
On the phone, when Mr. Trump asked him to abandon the auction, Mr. Barrack initially thought it was a ploy related to contingencies.
''I told him: 'You're too good. You'll want to buy it and it will get tied up in all these contingencies.' He said, 'No, it'll be a real deal.' I said, 'No contingencies.'''
Once in Mr. Trump's office, the haggling began. Mr. Barrack said he expected 10 to 15 participants in the coming auction and an ultimate price as high as $500 million. What if I gave you $390 million today? Mr. Trump asked. Mr. Bass has an offer of $410 million in hand, Mr. Barrack countered. Mr. Trump raised his bid, and they settled on a final price of $407.5 million.
''Then he did something amazing,'' Mr. Barrack recalled. ''He said: 'You've owned the property for four months. I want you to tell me everything that's wrong with it and how to fix it. I said, 'We just said, no contingencies.' He said: 'This is not in a contract. Nothing in writing. Just tell me what is wrong with the property and how to fix it.'''
In essence, Mr. Trump was telling Mr. Barrack that he trusted him to disclose everything that a team of lawyers and inspectors would typically need at least 90 days to unearth. It was like asking an enemy for a map of a minefield. And by saying, in effect, ''I'm at your mercy and will believe what you tell me,'' Mr. Trump was appealing to Mr. Barrack's integrity. Which was very disarming.
Mr. Barrack thought over Mr. Trump's question for a moment. He had already worked out most of the major problems.
''The biggest issue,'' he told Mr. Trump, ''is Fannie Lowenstein.''
He was referring to a woman, who might have been in her 80s, who lived by herself in a tiny, rent-controlled apartment in the Plaza. With Ms. Lowenstein there, reconfiguring the building as a condominium or a co-op, which was Mr. Trump's plan and the only way to justify the $407 million price tag, would be far more difficult. But she had adamantly refused to give up her rent-control rights and move to a larger apartment in the Plaza.
Interactive Feature | What Donald Trump Would Need to Do to Win Mr. Trump, a real estate developer and reality television star, has declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. Here is a look at what he will need to do if he hopes to win.
''I'll do the deal in a week, for $407.5 million,'' Mr. Trump said, ''and you take care of Fannie Lowenstein. All I want at the closing is to hear that Fannie Lowenstein is happy.''
Mr. Barrack left the meeting in a daze, both thrilled and anxious.
''It was a genius deal for Trump,'' Mr. Barrack said, ''because while an auction would have fetched a bigger initial price, it would have been tangled up in contingencies. And he'd just convinced me to fix everything for him.''
Mr. Trump had correctly sized up Mr. Barrack: someone who was trying to prove himself and wanted a major coup.
''He kind of looked at me and said, 'I'll make you a star,''' said Mr. Barrack, who now runs Colony Capital, a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles with 300 employees. ''It's the same talent on display when he gives political speeches. He reads an entire crowd with the same precision that he reads an individual.''
For Mr. Barrack, winning over Ms. Lowenstein was a project. She knew more about tenant law than any lawyer, and for the next two months, the two spoke four or five times a week. He ultimately offered her an apartment in the Plaza that was almost 10 times as large as her studio apartment, with a view of Central Park. Rent-free. For life. Also, new furniture, new dishes, new everything. She grudgingly agreed. But she also wanted a piano. She got a Steinway.
To Mr. Barrack's amazement, Mr. Trump handled nearly all of the negotiations for the Plaza himself. Much as Mr. Trump is doing in his current campaign, which is notably lacking in consultants and pollsters, he operated largely by gut instinct.
When Mr. Trump did consult outside counsel about the Plaza, his instructions were to make as little trouble as possible, no matter how daunting the numbers looked.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who bought the Plaza after Donald Trump's bankruptcy, in a partnership with CDL Hotels International.
Saleh Rifai / Associated Press
''He toned me down,'' recalled Jonathan A. Bernstein, then a lawyer at Dreyer & Traub. ''He had come to the conclusion that this was a deal he wanted to do, and he was completely aware of the downsides, and my job was to get him the best legal document I could. You don't tell him, 'Are you crazy?' You say: 'It's $400 million and $12 million in N.O.I.,''' or net operating income. '''Are you O.K. with that?'''
Huge Debt, Lost PrizeOnce he owned the hotel, Mr. Trump put his wife, Ivana, in charge of renovating it, paying her, as he put it at the time, ''one dollar a year plus all the dresses she can buy.'' She and a team oversaw a restoration that included new paint, new furniture and a revival of the major public spaces, like the Palm Court tearoom.
''Some of it came out great; some of it came out kind of chintzy,'' said Barbara Res, then an employee of the Trump Organization. ''We went about trying to restore it but in a way that didn't cost too much money.''
Mr. Trump offered design opinions and growled when necessary. After a hotel union put up resistance to changes requested by his wife '-- that ashtrays be regularly stamped with the Plaza's logo, for instance '-- Mr. Trump issued a threat.
''I called these guys up,'' he told The New York Times soon after the purchase, ''and said, 'Do it, or I'll turn the Plaza into a condo with three janitors and a super.'''
Opinion was split over the merits of the deal. Among the many who thought that Donald Trump had overpaid was Donald Trump. In a full-page ad he took out in New York magazine in November 1988, he called the transaction ''the first time in my life I have knowingly made a deal which was not economic '-- for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful the Plaza becomes.''
This proved prescient. By 1990, the Plaza needed an operating profit of $40 million a year to break even, according to financial records that Mr. Trump disclosed at the time. The hotel had fallen well short of that goal, and with renovating expenses, in one year it burned through $74 million more than it brought in.
But Mr. Trump didn't spend a lot of time sweating over the Plaza's finances. He was too busy with new challenges. A few months after the Plaza deal closed, he purchased the Eastern Air Shuttle for $365 million, and in 1990, he opened the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which cost $1 billion to build. Some of the loans he took out to pay for deals were personally guaranteed.
''The fact is, you do feel invulnerable,'' Mr. Trump told Timothy O'Brien, author of ''Trump Nation,'' discussing this period in his life. ''And then you have a tendency to take your eye off the ball a little bit and hunt around for women. And hunt around for models.''
A lack of focus was not Mr. Trump's only problem. The updraft in the real estate market of the '80s turned into a headwind by the early '90s, and more than $3 billion in loans '-- $900 million of which were personally guaranteed '-- went into default. Dozens of banks came calling and, after lengthy negotiations, a meeting was held in a large conference room in the law offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the firm that represented the largest lender, Citibank. There, some 50 bankers and lawyers watched Mr. Trump sign over nearly all of his properties '-- the Plaza, other buildings, the shuttle, the yacht, the jet '-- in exchange for more favorable terms on his personal guarantees.
The banks could have easily toppled Mr. Trump into personal bankruptcy, ''but we all agreed that he'd be better alive than dead,'' said Alan Pomerantz, then head of the real estate department at Weil. ''We needed him to help sell all of his assets, and the deal was that as he sold off more, we'd reduce his personal guarantee.''
In effect, the banks allowed Mr. Trump to remain solvent so that they could get the benefit of his gift for salesmanship. In exchange, the banks provided him with $450,000 a month to operate his business and cover personal expenses. It was so tight a leash that when Marla Maples, his girlfriend at the time, turned up on television waving the costly Harry Winston diamond she'd been given as an engagement ring, the paymasters wanted a word with the groom-to-be.
''I didn't buy it,'' Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Pomerantz. It was a three-month loaner, given in exchange for on-air mentions of Harry Winston.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump called that story ''completely false.''
The banks shopped the Plaza around, without success, for a few years before finally selling it in a deal that valued it at $325 million to a partnership between Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and CDL Hotels International of Singapore in 1995. None of the proceeds went to Mr. Trump, according to several people involved.
Still, he told me that the sale was yet another victory. The terms were, to use one of his favorite words, fantastic, and relieved him of a vast personal debt.
''One of the great deals was the Plaza, because way beyond the price, I was able to get favors from the banks and from others,'' he said. Speaking of Prince Alwaleed, he added: ''He paid too much for the hotel. He wanted that hotel so badly, and I put him through the wringer and made a great deal.''
Of course, it cost the Saudi-Singapore partnership $75 million less than Mr. Trump had spent for the same building seven years earlier. Mr. Trump also claimed in the interview that he owned 100 percent of the Plaza until the day it was sold, a version of events totally at odds with published reports at the time and the recollections of others involved in the deal.
This may be yet another parallel to Mr. Trump's performance on the hustings, where he has bent the truth into so many outlandish shapes that PolitiFact anointed his entire campaign the 2015 Lie of the Year. Among the more memorable whoppers: a Twitter post that 81 percent of whites are killed by blacks (PolitiFact cites the true figure as 15 percent) and that on television he'd seen thousands of people in Jersey City cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Mr. Trump's prediction that the Plaza would be worth far more than it cost him did come true. Unfortunately for him, it happened in 2004, when the hotel was sold yet again, this time for $675 million to an Israeli developer who carved up the rooms in the way that Mr. Trump had originally imagined. Half of the building was turned into condominiums, which eventually sold for a total of $1.4 billion.
Feuding With the PrinceToday, Mr. Trump's brief ownership of the Plaza is one of the least-known chapters of a protean career. It was not the last time one of his properties would need the shelter of bankruptcy protection, and it marked the beginning of his transition from an owner of major assets to a manager of major assets. An increasing share of his wealth would come in the future from licensing his name, not just to builders but sellers of suits, cologne, chandeliers, mattresses and more. In professional parlance, he went from ''asset heavy'' to ''asset light.''
The Plaza deal also demonstrated both his intense drive and ambition as well as his tendency to spread himself dangerously thin as he looks for other conquests. Abraham Wallach, a former executive at the Trump Organization, said Mr. Trump was a man without any conventional vices, but he had a hopeless addiction to notoriety and was always prowling for another deal that would gain attention and enhance his status.
''I've been shocked he has demonstrated such focus during the presidential campaign,'' Mr. Wallach said. ''In business, he would focus for about two or three days before the closing, and after that he would lose interest.''
Recently, the hotel and a central character in this narrative have intersected with his presidential run. After Mr. Trump called in December for a ''complete shutdown'' on Muslims' entry into the United States, Prince Alwaleed posted on Twitter: ''You are a disgrace not only to the G.O.P. but to all America. Withdraw from the U.S. presidential race as you will never win.''
Mr. Trump returned fire: ''Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy's money. Can't do it when I get elected.''
That same day, Dec. 11, Mr. Trump gave a speech at a luncheon where he was heckled by protesters waving signs that read, ''Stop the war on immigrant communities'' and ''Trump, making America hate again.'' Several people were ejected from the building.
The building was the Plaza Hotel.
President Obama is no 'petulant child' | MSNBC
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 03:12
By my count, Hillary Clinton's name came up 32 times in last night's debate for the Republican presidential candidates, and not surprisingly, none of the references were complimentary. At no point, however, did any of the GOP candidates question the former Secretary of State's maturity or status as an adult.
If only President Obama were afforded the same courtesy. Here, for example, was Chris Christie on the president's efforts to reduce gun violence:''This guy is a petulant child. That's what he is.''
And here was Ted Cruz on trade with China:
''Donald is right that China is running over President Obama like he is a child.''
The rhetoric rankles in part because we've heard it before. Rush Limbaugh has referred to Obama as ''the little black man-child,'' and compared him to ''a little boy'' that women voters ''want to protect.'' Sarah Palin sees the president as ''an overgrown little boy.''
Obviously, Republicans are going to criticize the president's every move, but is infantilizing rhetoric really necessary? Is ''petulant child'' really the best Christie can do?
As we talked about last year, the rhetoric is hard to understand on a factual level. Love the president or hate him, Obama tends to conduct himself with dignity and maturity.
Republicans held the last two Democratic presidents in contempt, too, but I don't recall efforts to characterize Clinton and Carter as being less than an adult.
Iran plans to buy 114 Airbus planes once sanctions lifted | The Times of Israel
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 01:01
TEHRAN, Iran '-- Iran has reached a deal with the European consortium Airbus to buy 114 passenger planes once international economic sanctions are lifted as part of a nuclear deal, Iran's transport minister said Saturday.
Abbas Akhondi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that the first shipment of planes will arrive in Iran before March 20 to upgrade Iran's aging fleet. Iran has said it is looking to buy 400 passenger planes over the next decade.
''An agreement was reached with Airbus to buy 114 planes to gradually enter carrier Iran Air fleet upon the lifting of sanctions,'' IRNA quoted Akhondi as saying.
He said an unspecified number of planes will arrive before Nowruz, Iran's new year, which falls on March 21.
Airbus did not confirm a formal agreement with Tehran. The company released a statement pointing out that the sanctions have yet to be lifted and the nuclear agreement has yet to be implemented. ''Once it is, we will evaluate the commercial implications in strict compliance with any international accord,'' the statement said. ''Airbus Group remains ready to support Iranian civil and para-public transportation sector development in strict compliance with all international laws.''
Iran is already waiting for the imminent release of a UN compliance report that would trigger the lifting of sanctions under a landmark deal reached with world powers last July over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
Iran's aviation industry has suffered as a result of sanctions over the past three decades. Out of Iran's 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are grounded due to lack of spare parts.
Akhondi said Iran is already planning to also renovate its aviation industry by leasing planes since the country's airlines lack the financial liquidity to buy too many aircraft at once. He urged Iranian carriers to take steps to upgrade their fleets in the post-sanctions era.
''With the implementation of the nuclear deal, we will enter a new atmosphere in our interaction with the outside world and subsequently develop our aviation industry,'' he said.
Dutchman probed for killing IS fighters
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:57
Image copyrightReutersImage caption Some 100 foreigners are thought to have joined Kurdish fighters A former Dutch soldier has been arrested on suspicion of killing Islamic State militants while fighting alongside Kurdish militiamen in Syria.
The 47-year-old was later released but had to surrender his passport to stop him returning to Syria.
Prosecutors said that Dutch law did not allow the use of force apart from in exceptional circumstances.
"Killing an IS fighter therefore could mean being prosecuted for murder," a statement from prosecutors said.
Even though the Netherlands is part of the international coalition against the so-called Islamic State (IS), the prosecutors said there was "an important difference between Dutch nationals who travel to Syria on their own to fight against IS and Dutch soldiers who train Iraqi and Kurdish forces".
The Dutch military presence was legal and took place "at the request of the Iraqi government", they added.
The man's name cannot be released under Dutch privacy law and it was unclear when he left the military.
Prosecutors said further investigation into the soldier's involvement was required to decide whether charges would be brought.
The BBC understands that about 100 Western volunteers have joined Kurdish forces in the region - including some Britons.
In some instances they have faced legal troubles on their return to their home countries.
One British former Royal Marine, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, and one Canadian ex-soldier, John Gallagher, died in northern Syria in 2015 fighting Syria against IS militants.
German leisure centre becomes first to ban all migrants after attack | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:51
A German leisure centre has become the first in the country to ban all migrants after a schoolgirl was sexually assaulted in a public swimming pool by Syrian teenagers.
Three Syrian boys were arrested earlier this month over the attack at a leisure centre in Munich as the country grapples with growing concerns about sex crimes perpetrated by asylum seekers.In response to growing concerns, a leisure centre in Bornheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, has now barred all migrants.
The ban also follows an attack by an 18-year-old refugee on a 54-year-old woman in Bornheim, where he had grabbed her by the private parts and tried to kiss her.
A German leisure centre has become the first in the country to ban all migrants after a schoolgirl was sexually assaulted in a public swimming pool by Syrian teenagers in Munich (above)
Anti-Islamist protesters demonstrate against Angela Merkel
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The victim was only rescued from a further attack by a couple who heard her screams and ran to help. The teenager was arrested a short while later.
Bornheim social affairs councillor and deputy mayor Markus Schnapka said the move followed an emergency meeting of locals where the swimming pool ban was announced.
He said: 'At the public meeting, I made it quite clear that it was an extremely difficult decision and it's clear that many innocent refugees are also affected by this.'
He added that so far none of the local incidents had resulted in criminal complaints, but it was clear that action needed to be taken to prevent the situation escalating.
He said: 'We are mainly talking about verbal attacks.'
Bornheim currently has 300 refugees living in accommodation who have been told that the ban will be lifted when the message has been received that women need to be respected.
In the Munich attack, the three boys are alleged to have surrounded the 17-year-old girl in the pool before one of them groped her underneath her swimming costume in an offence deemed rape under local law.
Doner kebab fast food stalls were destroyed, cars set ablaze and shop windows smashed by around 250 hooligans of Legida
Police forces patrol a street in Leipzig after the peaceful protest turned nasty earlier this week
Inside one of the doner kebab grills where some 250 masked hooligans attacked takeaway restaurants
When the girl's sister, 14, tried to make them stop, she too was groped by the trio of teenagers, who were all aged under 15.
The girls managed to flee and raise the alarm with the lifeguard at the swimming pool, who called police.
Because the asylum seekers were only 15, they were not remanded in custody and will be prosecuted under juvenile law.
The main offender's two friends were arrested for assault for taking part in the attack.
It comes after more than three hundred women reported being sexually assaulted by groups of mostly Arab or North African men in Cologne during New Year celebrations.
Hundreds of criminal complaints have been filed by police, with about 45 per cent involving allegations of sexual offences, and most of the suspects identified so far are foreign nationals.
The attack have been seized by right-wing groups as evidence that chancellor Angela Merkel's open door policy is a failure.
Groups of men gather outside the Cologne main train station on New Year's Eve, where hundreds of women claim to have been sexually assaulted
A group of young men let off a firework during the New Year celebrations, which descended into chaos
And more than 200 masked right-wing supporters, carrying placards with racist overtones, went on a rampage in the eastern city of Leipzig earlier this week, breaking windows and vandalising buildings.
Meanwhile, German police also claim to have solved another sex attack, this time concerning the rape and attempted murder of a 24-year-old woman on Christmas Eve after tracing DNA to a man in a nearby asylum home.
The alleged attacker, aged 20 and from Morocco, had been previously arrested for theft in Dusseldorf where a sample had been taken that allowed him to be identified as the rapist who was short while later attacked the young woman outside a cemetery in Gelsenkirchen.
The attacker approached her from behind and beat her unconscious before dragging her into the cemetery to rape her.
Police reports described officers being outnumbered and powerless to stop the anarchy which engulfed the city a fortnight ago, with dozens of women approaching them claiming they had been sexually assaulted
'They touched us everywhere': Cologne sexual assault victim
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Local mayor Frank Baranowski said: 'Violence against women is always despicable and criminal.
'It is a great shame that this has been shown to be a case where the alleged attacker is from the ranks of the asylum seekers, who only a short time before were welcomed into our community here in Gelsenkirchen.
'This is not only a gross disregard for hospitality but also inhumane.
'This person will not only face the consequences of his actions if convicted, but also he has done severe damage to all those others who have fled their homes and will now be tainted because of what he has done.'
Police said that the man would also face attempted murder charges because the injuries the woman received were so severe that she almost died.
Police also confirmed that they have solved another sex attack, this time on a 15-year-old girl involving an unregistered asylum seeker who had been given accommodation in Burghausen.
University of Missouri -- Students Should Tattle on Anyone Who Teases
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:03
It's not clear whether or not offenders will be grounded.The University of Missouri is encouraging its students to file a report any time they hear someone make fun of another person on campus for any reason.
In fact, Mizzou apparently considers campus teasing to be such a serious issue that it developed an online system to make it as easy as possible for students to report it.
''If you have witnessed or experienced a bias incident that has occurred within the MU community, please use the form below to report the incident anonymously or with your name,'' the online form instructs.
Obviously, it's a good thing for schools to urge their students to seek help if they're facing discrimination or harassment on campus. This form, however, expands the more typical definition of a ''bias incident'' '-- which usually refers to discrimination or harassment based on things like race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion '' to include even small things like ''name-calling'' based on ''physical appearance.''
In fact, it even has an option for ''other'' '-- which means that someone making fun of someone else on campus for any reason qualifies as something Mizzou considers worthy of reporting.
RELATED: U California System Encouraging Student to Formally Report 'Unwanted' Jokes
Keep in mind that the school is soliciting these reports not only from students who feel offended, but also from students who think that they may have witnessed someone else being offended '-- whether the ''target'' was actually offended or not.
Now, maybe I'm wrong, but I've always thought it was pretty normal for friends to tease each other. In fact, sometimes I greet my friends by saying ''Hey ugly!,'' and they do the same to me. It's all in good fun, but under this policy, I could be reported for it '' despite the fact that the person I'd called ugly would know that I was just joking.
Oh, and by the way: I also prefer to have the kinds of friends who aren't afraid to tell me in all seriousness that I'm looking ugly if they think I'm looking ugly. I spent too many years of my life with downright atrocious haircuts '-- including one that looked like it had been done with a weedwhacker '-- and I'll always be grateful to the person who finally alerted me to this problem.Of course, not everyone would agree with me on this. There are definitely people who prefer politeness to brutal honesty in their relationships, and they would definitely be horrified by this type of treatment.
Colonel Gaddafi warned Tony Blair of Islamist attacks on Europe, phone conversations reveal - Telegraph
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 23:58
"We are not fighting them, they are attacking us, " he said, "I want to tell you the truth. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organisation has laid down sleeping cells in North Africa. Called the Al-Qaeda Organisation in North Africa... The sleeping cells in Libya are similar to dormant cells in America before 9/11.
"They have managed to get arms and terrify people. people can't leave their homes... It's a jihad situation. They have arms and are terrorising people in the street."
In a second call made a little over four hours later, Gaddafi told Mr Blair: "I will have to arm the people and get ready for a fight. Libyan people will die, damage will be on the Med, Europe and the whole world. These armed groups are using the situation [in Libya] as a justification - and we shall fight them."
Mr Blair had made two calls to Gaddafi to try to negotiate the dictator's departure from Tripoli as civil war engulfed the nation. Three weeks later, a Nato-led coaltion that included Britain, began bombing raids that led to the overthrow of Gaddafi. The dictator was finally deposed in August and murdered by a mob in October.
Mr Blair had a developed a friendship with Gaddafi and had visted the Libyan leader at least six times after leaving Downing Street in 2007.
' 'Dear Muammar': Blair's letter to Gaddafi reveals UK-Libya collusion' Blair to face MPs over Gaddafi deal that snubbed UK terror victims
He cleared the phone calls with both David Cameron and Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, in an attempt to persuade Gaddafi to leave Libya with safe passage and to avoid further conflict.
The existence of the phone calls emerged last year and Mr Blair passed the transcripts to the Foreign Affairs Committee which is investigating Libya's collapse. The committee of MPs published the transcripts on Thursday.
In the calls Mr Blair told Gaddafi: "If you have a safe place to go you should go there because this will not end peacefully and there has to be a process of change, that process of change can be managed and we have to find a way of managing it.
"The US and the EU are in a tough position right now and I need to take something back to them which ensures this ends peacefully."
Mr Blair ended the call by saying: "i would like to offer a way out that is peaceful... keep the lines open."
Gaddafi's warnings appear to have been born out. Libya has collapsed following his overthrow. The country remains in the grip of civil war and much of it is in the control of Islamist extremists linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Terrorists sent by Isil to France were responsible for the attacks on Paris in November amid growing concern jihadists are crossing into Europe from north Africa and the Middle East.
Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "The transcripts supplied by Mr Blair provide a new insight into the private views of Colonel Gaddafi as his dictatorship began to crumble around him.
"The failure to follow Mr Blair's calls to 'keep the lines open' and for these early conversations to initiate any peaceful compromise continue to reverberate.
"The Committee will want to consider whether Gaddafi's prophetic warning of the rise of extremist militant groups following the collapse of the regime was wrongly ignored because of Gaddafi's otherwise delusional take on international affairs.
"The evidence that the Committee has taken so far in this inquiry suggests that western policy makers were rather less perceptive than Gaddafi about the risks of intervention for both the Libyan people and the western interests."
Blair's calls to Gaddafi: the full transcriptsFebruary 25, 2011 - 11.15am to 11.45am (click on image below)
February 25, 2011 - 3.35pm to 4pm (click on image below)
$250,000 a Year Is Not Middle Class - The New York Times
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 23:56
HILLARY CLINTON has vowed not to raise taxes on the middle class.
It's a pledge that has worked well for others on the campaign trail before her, a resonant assurance to voters who saw themselves as middle class or aspired to be. But it's a bad promise.
Mrs. Clinton is using a definition of middle class that has long been popular among Democratic policy makers, from her husband to Barack Obama when he was a candidate: any household that makes $250,000 or less a year. Yet this definition is completely out of touch with reality. It also boxes her in.
The most recent Census Bureau data showed that median household income '-- what people in the exact middle of the American spectrum earn '-- is $53,657.
Those families who make $250,000 a year, on the other hand, belong to an elite group: Americans who earn enough to be in the highest 5 percent of the income distribution. That top stratum captures anyone who makes $206,568 or more '-- not everyone in the so-called middle class that Mrs. Clinton says she is dedicated to protecting, but too large a chunk of it.
PhotoPeople waited in line at the post office to file their taxes before the April 15 deadline.Credit Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesThis doesn't matter just because the math is so off. In an era of deepening income inequality, those people in the top 5 percent who are being classified as middle class are pulling further away from the rest of us. Americans at the bottom or in the middle have experienced five years of falling or stagnating income; those in the top 5 percent have generally seen their incomes increase. Between 1967 and 2014, median household income went up by $9,400 while those 5 percenters are now making $88,800 more, all adjusted for inflation.
A policy response should give those who are sliding backward a hand up, most likely funded by the people who are doing so well. But under Mrs. Clinton's pledge, some of the well off won't be called on to help out, and are in fact lumped in for receiving a boost. (I should note that my spouse works on the technology team for the Clinton campaign, but is not involved in policy.)
Mrs. Clinton's pledge also blocks her from backing policies that would almost certainly benefit middle-class Americans, even if it raised their taxes slightly.
Take paid family leave. As things stand, Americans are not legally guaranteed any pay when they take time away from work for the arrival of a new baby or to care for a sick family member. According to a 2012 survey, about a third of people who get no or partial pay when they take time off for a new child end up doing things like borrowing money, dipping into savings or putting off paying bills. Fifteen percent enroll in public benefits.
Senator Bernie Sanders also wants to help the middle class, but he wants to do it in a way that could mean raising its taxes, even if he promises that most of an increased burden will fall on the wealthy. This has made him a target of the Clinton camp, which is telling voters that Mrs. Clinton is the only candidate pledging to shield the middle class.
Mr. Sanders, as well as Martin O'Malley, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, have avoided any pledge against middle-class tax increases. The paid family leave program both support is designed as social insurance much like Social Security, funded by a 0.2 percent payroll tax increase.
Continue reading the main storyStretching the Meaning of 'Middle Class'Households earning $250,000 are well above the threshold to join the richest 5 percent of Americans.
More than one-fifth of households earn less than the poverty rate for a family of four: $23,850.
Yet Mrs. Clinton's pledge rules out supporting such a proposal. While she has frequently talked about paid family leave, she says her plan will call on only the wealthiest to pay for it.
Mr. Obama, who also made a pledge not to raise middle-class taxes, has seen how limiting it can be. Early last year, he made an effort to levy some taxes on 529 college savings accounts, given that 70 percent of account balances in those and similar accounts are owned by families who make more than $200,000. The revenue from the tax would have been plowed into college subsidies that would reach low- and middle-income Americans.
It was a doomed idea. Some families with closer to median income do use 529 accounts. So adding a tax would, technically, increase some middle-class people's burden, thus violating Mr. Obama's promise. Backlash erupted not just from Republicans, but fellow Democrats, and he dropped the idea less than a week after floating it.
Even Mr. Sanders, who often talks about income inequality, isn't entirely immune from the allure of the $250,000 threshold. He's ruled out middle-class tax increases except to fund paid family leave, promising to somehow get the needed revenue for his platform from banks and the very rich. And in other areas '-- top tax rates, Social Security payroll taxes '-- he adopts the $250,000 cap for no clear reason related to the policies themselves. That speaks to the spell this arbitrary limit has cast over the Democratic Party.
It's one it needs to break. The middle-class pledge has not just been outpaced by Democrats' policy ambition. It's been outpaced by voters' reality.
Over the last decade and a half, fewer and fewer Americans are identifying as middle class, and a growing share says it is working or lower class. Income inequality compresses many downward and lifts up the sliver already at the top.
That shifting identity should relieve candidates of the sense that there is a political urgency in spouting the phrase ''middle class,'' and it demands a new framework '-- one that is honest about the class divisions in the country.
Bryce Covert­ is the economic policy editor at ThinkProgress and a contributor to The Nation.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on December 28, 2015, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: $250,000 a Year Is Not Middle Class.
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Byonics - MicroTrak
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 23:10
Micro-Trak AIO (All In One)
The Micro-Trak AIO (All In One) is a complete, self-contained, rugger, water resistant, portable, 10-watt APRS tracker, including a frequency agile 2-meter transmitter, a TinyTrak3 controller chip, a Byonics GPS2OEM GPS receiver, and an SMA antenna.The MT-AIO was designed for ease of use. It operates using 8 conventional AA batteries or a 12V power supply, and comes pre-configured with your callsign, so it is ready to go. Simply connect the antenna, and add batteries, and you are on the air! The MT-AIO has been confirmed to run nearly 8 days when used with typical AA alkaline batteries, transmitting every 2 minutes. While SmartBeaconing is an option, it is not recommended, since that setting requires the GPS to be constantly powered, and battery usage will be limited to only a day or two. The MT-AIO weighs only 14 oz without batteries, and is available with your choice of our Micro-Trak V2 Rubber Duck Portable antenna, or our Micro-Trak V3 Mag Mount Vehicle antenna.
Even though it does ship pre-configured, users can easily update all settings by downloading the configuration program below, and using the optional programming cable listed below to connect to either a computer serial port or a USB-to-serial adapter.
We do not recommend the V4 antenna for use with the MT-AIO, but all our other VHF antennas should work fine.
Anacapa School has launched a MT-AIO to near space. See the video!
Ordering:NOTE: The Micro-Trak AIO comes pre-configured, so after you place the order, please use the order notes or a follow up email to send us your callsign & optional SSID, and any other operating parameters which differ from the defaults in the configuration program (downloadable below). If we do not receive this information, we will hold your order, and contact you via email before shipping. If you are new to APRS, and unsure of what settings to use, we only need your callsign, as the other default settings should be fine for most users. If you wish to use a frequency other than 144.39 MHz, please include that frequency also.
Micro-Trak AIO w/ V2 rubber duck antenna - $260. Includes everything needed to operate except 8 AA batteries. It comes with the Micro-Trak V2 rubber duck antenna.
Micro-Trak AIO w/ V3 mag mount antenna - $260. Includes everything needed to operate except 8 AA batteries. It comes with the Micro-Trak V3 mini mag mount antenna.
Micro-Trak AIO w/ V7 telescoping antenna - $270. Includes everything needed to operate except 8 AA batteries. It comes with the Micro-Trak V7 telescoping SMA antenna.
Micro-Trak AIO HA - $320. The MT-AIO HA is a special version of our MT-AIO designed for high-altitude balloons and uses the GPS module from our GPS4 recevier. It comes with our V6 dipole antenna. Balloonists please note the recommended path for balloons is just WIDE2-1, and power can typically be turned down to 1 watt or less. Weight is 13.7oz not counting batteries.
MT-AIO USB Programming Cable - $20. This optional USB cable is used to configure a MT-AIO. Typically the MT-AIO is shipped pre-configured, but with this cable, the settings can easily be changed later. It is a USB A to 3/32" stereo plug that internally contains the needed USB to serial adapter. Drivers can be found HERE.
MT-AIO Serial Programming Cable - $15. This optional serial cable is used to configure a MT-AIO. Typically the MT-AIO is shipped pre-configured, but with this cable, the settings can easily be changed later. It is a DB-9 female to 3/32" stereo plug that can be used with a computer serial port or USB-to-serial adapter.
Documentation:FAQ:If your question is not listed here, please Contact Us.Notes:The Micro-Trak AIO operates on amateur radio frequencies, and requires a valid amateur radio license to use.The Micro-Trak AIO is a transmitter only, and may ocassionally send very short packets coincidentally with other transmitters.
AP510 APRS tracker configure software and firmware - YouTube
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 22:52
US Military Prepares To Punish For Doctors Without Borders Airstrike: Report
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 16:15
The U.S. military is preparing to punish U.S. service members involved in an airstrike that occurred in October on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that left 42 civilians dead, Foreign Policy reported Friday. U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, forwarded a 3,000-page investigation into the airstrike to U.S. Central Command as well as his recommendations for disciplinary action against troop members involved in the airstrike.
It will take roughly two to three weeks to redact the report for potential public release, according to a Defense Department official, however no decision has been made about whether the report will be made public. While U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, would not comment on the details of the report, he said the legal process would possibly result in ''different decisions for different individuals.''
The damaged hospital in which the Doctors Without Borders medical charity operated is seen Oct.13, 2015, following an airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.Photo: Getty Images
When presenting preliminary findings of the investigation in November, Campbell said those ''most closely associated'' with the airstrike had been suspended from their duties and that the strike ''was a direct result of avoidable human error compounded by process and equipment failures,'' Foreign Policy reported. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, Campbell's spokesman, also said the investigation revealed that the, ''actions of the aircrew and the special operations forces were not appropriate to the threats they faced.''
Doctors Without Borders had called the strike a ''war crime," calling for an independent investigation. The Pentagon had previously called the strike a ''mistake.'' Prior to the strike, there had been clashes between Afghan government forces and the Taliban, and there had been 105 patients from both sides inside the hospital.
''A series of multiple, precise and sustained airstrikes targeted the main hospital building, leaving the rest of the buildings in the MSF compound comparatively untouched,'' an initial review of the attack said, using the French acronym for the group. ''This specific building of the hospital correlates exactly with the GPS coordinates provided to the parties to the conflict (GPS coordinates were taken directly in front of the main hospital building that was hit in the airstrikes).''
The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment '-- Medium
Fri, 15 Jan 2016 16:52
The resolution of the Bitcoin experimentI've spent more than 5 years being a Bitcoin developer. The software I've written has been used by millions of users, hundreds of developers, and the talks I've given have led directly to the creation of several startups. I've talked about Bitcoin on Sky TV and BBC News. I have been repeatedly cited by the Economist as a Bitcoin expert and prominent developer. I have explained Bitcoin to the SEC, to bankers and to ordinary people I met at cafes.
From the start, I've always said the same thing: Bitcoin is an experiment and like all experiments, it can fail. So don't invest what you can't afford to lose. I've said this in interviews, on stage at conferences, and over email. So have other well known developers like Gavin Andresen and Jeff Garzik.
But despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long term trend should probably be downwards. I will no longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and have sold all my coins.
Why has Bitcoin failed? It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ''systemically important institutions'' and ''too big to fail'' has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there's no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system.
Think about it. If you had never heard about Bitcoin before, would you care about a payments network that:
Couldn't move your existing moneyHad wildly unpredictable fees that were high and rising fastAllowed buyers to take back payments they'd made after walking out of shops, by simply pressing a button (if you aren't aware of this ''feature'' that's because Bitcoin was only just changed to allow it)Is suffering large backlogs and flaky payments'... which is controlled by China'... and in which the companies and people building it were in open civil war?I'm going to hazard a guess that the answer is no.
Deadlock on the blocksIn case you haven't been keeping up with Bitcoin, here is how the network looks as of January 2016.
The block chain is full. You may wonder how it is possible for what is essentially a series of files to be ''full''. The answer is that an entirely artificial capacity cap of one megabyte per block, put in place as a temporary kludge a long time ago, has not been removed and as a result the network's capacity is now almost completely exhausted.
Here's a graph of block sizes.
The peak level in July was reached during a denial-of-service attack in which someone flooded the network with transactions in an attempt to break things, calling it a ''stress test''. So that level, about 700 kilobytes of transactions (or less than 3 payments per second), is probably about the limit of what Bitcoin can actually achieve in practice
NB: You may have read that the limit is 7 payments per second. That's an old figure from 2011 and Bitcoin transactions got a lot more complex since then, so the true figure is a lot lower.
The reason the true limit seems to be 700 kilobytes instead of the theoretical 1000 is that sometimes miners produce blocks smaller than allowed and even empty blocks, despite that there are lots of transactions waiting to confirm'Š'--'Šthis seems to be most frequently caused by interference from the Chinese ''Great Firewall'' censorship system. More on that in a second.
If you look closely, you can see that traffic has been growing since the end of the 2015 summer months. This is expected. I wrote about Bitcoin's seasonal growth patterns back in March.
Here's weekly average block sizes:
So the average is nearly at the peak of what can be done. Not surprisingly then, there are frequent periods in which Bitcoin can't keep up with the transaction load being placed upon it and almost all blocks are the maximum size, even when there is a long queue of transactions waiting. You can see this in the size column (the 750kb blocks come from miners that haven't properly adjusted their software):
When networks run out of capacity, they get really unreliable. That's why so many online attacks are based around simply flooding a target computer with traffic. Sure enough, just before Christmas payments started to become unreliable and at peak times backlogs are now becoming common.
Quoting a news post by ProHashing, a Bitcoin-using business:
Some customers contacted Chris earlier today asking why our bitcoin payouts didn't execute '...
The issue is that it's now officially impossible to depend upon the bitcoin network anymore to know when or if your payment will be transacted,because the congestion is so bad that even minor spikes in volume create dramatic changes in network conditions. To whom is it acceptable that one could wait either 60 minutes or 14 hours, chosen at random?
It's ludicrous that people are actually writing posts on reddit claiming that there is no crisis. People were criticizing my post yesterday on the grounds that I somehow overstated the seriousness of the situation. Do these people actually use the bitcoin network to send money everyday?
ProHashing encountered another near-miss between Christmas and New Year, this time because a payment from an exchange to their wallet was delayed.
Bitcoin is supposed to respond to this situation with automatic fee rises to try and get rid of some users, and although the mechanisms behind it are barely functional that's still sort of happening: it is rapidly becoming more and more expensive to use the Bitcoin network. Once upon a time, Bitcoin had the killer advantage of low and even zero fees, but it's now common to be asked to pay more to miners than a credit card would charge.
Why has the capacity limit not been raised? Because the block chain is controlled by Chinese miners, just two of whom control more than 50% of the hash power. At a recent conference over 95% of hashing power was controlled by a handful of guys sitting on a single stage. The miners are not allowing the block chain to grow.
Why are they not allowing it to grow? Several reasons. One is that the developers of the ''Bitcoin Core'' software that they run have refused to implement the necessary changes. Another is that the miners refuse to switch to any competing product, as they perceive doing so as ''disloyalty'' '--and they're terrified of doing anything that might make the news as a ''split'' and cause investor panic. They have chosen instead to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
And the final reason is that the Chinese internet is so broken by their government's firewall that moving data across the border barely works at all, with speeds routinely worse than what mobile phones provide. Imagine an entire country connected to the rest of the world by cheap hotel wifi, and you've got the picture. Right now, the Chinese miners are able to'Š'--'Šjust about'Š'--'Šmaintain their connection to the global internet and claim the 25 BTC reward ($11,000) that each block they create gives them. But if the Bitcoin network got more popular, they fear taking part would get too difficult and they'd lose their income stream. This gives them a perverse financial incentive to actually try and stop Bitcoin becoming popular.
Many Bitcoin users and observers have been assuming up until very recently that somehow these problems would all sort themselves out, and of course the block chain size limit would be raised. After all, why would the Bitcoin community '... the community that has championed the block chain as the future of finance '... deliberately kill itself by strangling the chain in its crib? But that's exactly what is happening.
The resulting civil war has seen Coinbase'Š'--'Šthe largest and best known Bitcoin startup in the USA'Š'--'Šbe erased from the official Bitcoin website for picking the ''wrong'' side and banned from the community forums. When parts of the community are viciously turning on the people that have introduced millions of users to the currency, you know things have got really crazy.
Nobody knows what's going onIf you haven't heard much about this, you aren't alone. One of the most disturbing things that took place over the course of 2015 is that the flow of information to investors and users has dried up.
In the span of only about eight months, Bitcoin has gone from being a transparent and open community to one that is dominated by rampant censorship and attacks on bitcoiners by other bitcoiners. This transformation is by far the most appalling thing I have ever seen, and the result is that I no longer feel comfortable being associated with the Bitcoin community.
Bitcoin is not intended to be an investment and has always been advertised pretty accurately: as an experimental currency which you shouldn't buy more of than you can afford to lose. It is complex, but that never worried me because all the information an investor might want was out there, and there's an entire cottage industry of books, conferences, videos and websites to help people make sense of it all.
That has now changed.
Most people who own Bitcoin learn about it through the mainstream media. Whenever a story goes mainstream the Bitcoin price goes crazy, then the media report on the price rises and a bubble happens.
Stories about Bitcoin reach newspapers and magazines through a simple process: the news starts in a community forum, then it's picked up by a more specialised community/tech news website, then journalists at general media outlets see the story on those sites and write their own versions. I've seen this happen over and over again, and frequently taken part in it by discussing stories with journalists.
In August 2015 it became clear that due to severe mismanagement, the ''Bitcoin Core'' project that maintains the program that runs the peer-to-peer network wasn't going to release a version that raised the block size limit. The reasons for this are complicated and discussed below. But obviously, the community needed the ability to keep adding new users. So some long-term developers (including me) got together and developed the necessary code to raise the limit. That code was called BIP 101 and we released it in a modified version of the software that we branded Bitcoin XT. By running XT, miners could cast a vote for changing the limit. Once 75% of blocks were voting for the change the rules would be adjusted and bigger blocks would be allowed.
The release of Bitcoin XT somehow pushed powerful emotional buttons in a small number of people. One of them was a guy who is the admin of the bitcoin.org website and top discussion forums. He had frequently allowed discussion of outright criminal activity on the forums he controlled, on the grounds of freedom of speech. But when XT launched, he made a surprising decision. XT, he claimed, did not represent the ''developer consensus'' and was therefore not really Bitcoin. Voting was an abomination, he said, because:
''One of the great things about Bitcoin is its lack of democracy''
So he decided to do whatever it took to kill XT completely, starting with censorship of Bitcoin's primary communication channels: any post that mentioned the words ''Bitcoin XT'' was erased from the discussion forums he controlled, XT could not be mentioned or linked to from anywhere on the official bitcoin.org website and, of course, anyone attempting to point users to other uncensored forums was also banned. Massive numbers of users were expelled from the forums and prevented from expressing their views.
As you can imagine, this enraged people. Read the comments on the announcement to get a feel for it.
Eventually, some users found their way to a new uncensored forum. Reading it is a sad thing. Every day for months I have seen raging, angry posts railing against the censors, vowing that they will be defeated.
But the inability to get news about XT or the censorship itself through to users has some problematic effects.
For the first time, investors have no obvious way to get a clear picture of what's going on. Dissenting views are being systematically suppressed. Technical criticisms of what Bitcoin Core is doing are being banned, with misleading nonsense being peddled in its place. And it's clear that many people who casually bought into Bitcoin during one of its hype cycles have no idea that the system is about to hit an artificial limit.
This worries me a great deal. Over the years governments have passed a large number of laws around securities and investments. Bitcoin is not a security and I do not believe it falls under those laws, but their spirit is simple enough: make sure investors are informed. When misinformed investors lose money, government attention frequently follows.
Why is Bitcoin Core keeping the limit?People problems.
When Satoshi left, he handed over the reins of the program we now call Bitcoin Core to Gavin Andresen, an early contributor. Gavin is a solid and experienced leader who can see the big picture. His reliable technical judgement is one of the reasons I had the confidence to quit Google (where I had spent nearly 8 years) and work on Bitcoin full time. Only one tiny problem: Satoshi never actually asked Gavin if he wanted the job, and in fact he didn't. So the first thing Gavin did was grant four other developers access to the code as well. These developers were chosen quickly in order to ensure the project could easily continue if anything happened to him. They were, essentially, whoever was around and making themselves useful at the time.
One of them, Gregory Maxwell, had an unusual set of views: he once claimed he had mathematically proven Bitcoin to be impossible. More problematically, he did not believe in Satoshi's original vision.
When the project was first announced, Satoshi was asked how a block chain could scale to a large number of payments. Surely the amount of data to download would become overwhelming if the idea took off? This was a popular criticism of Bitcoin in the early days and Satoshi fully expected to be asked about it. He said:
The bandwidth might not be as prohibitive as you think '... if the network were to get [as big as VISA], it would take several years, and by then, sending [the equivalent of] 2 HD movies over the Internet would probably not seem like a big deal.
It's a simple argument: look at what existing payment networks handle, look at what it'd take for Bitcoin to do the same, and then point out that growth doesn't happen overnight. The networks and computers of the future will be better than today. And indeed back-of-the-envelope calculations suggested that, as he said to me, ''it never really hits a scale ceiling'' even when looking at more factors than just bandwidth.
Maxwell did not agree with this line of thinking. From an interview in December 2014:
Problems with decentralization as bitcoin grows are not going to diminish either, according to Maxwell: ''There's an inherent tradeoff between scale and decentralization when you talk about transactions on the network.''
The problem, he said, is that as bitcoin transaction volume increases, larger companies will likely be the only ones running bitcoin nodes because of the inherent cost.
The idea that Bitcoin is inherently doomed because more users means less decentralisation is a pernicious one. It ignores the fact that despite all the hype, real usage is low, growing slowly and technology gets better over time. It is a belief Gavin and I have spent much time debunking. And it leads to an obvious but crazy conclusion: if decentralisation is what makes Bitcoin good, and growth threatens decentralisation, then Bitcoin should not be allowed to grow.
Instead, Maxwell concluded, Bitcoin should become a sort of settlement layer for some vaguely defined, as yet un-created non-blockchain based system.
The death spiral beginsIn a company, someone who did not share the goals of the organisation would be dealt with in a simple way: by firing him.
But Bitcoin Core is an open source project, not a company. Once the 5 developers with commit access to the code had been chosen and Gavin had decided he did not want to be the leader, there was no procedure in place to ever remove one. And there was no interview or screening process to ensure they actually agreed with the project's goals.
As Bitcoin became more popular and traffic started approaching the 1mb limit, the topic of raising the block size limit was occasionally brought up between the developers. But it quickly became an emotionally charged subject. Accusations were thrown around that raising the limit was too risky, that it was against decentralisation, and so on. Like many small groups, people prefer to avoid conflict. The can was kicked down the road.
Complicating things further, Maxwell founded a company that then hired several other developers. Not surprisingly, their views then started to change to align with that of their new boss.
Co-ordinating software upgrades takes time, and so in May 2015 Gavin decided the subject must be tackled once and for all, whilst there was still about 8 months remaining. He began writing articles that worked through the arguments against raising the limit, one at a time.
But it quickly became apparent that the Bitcoin Core developers were hopelessly at loggerheads. Maxwell and the developers he had hired refused to contemplate any increase in the limit whatsoever. They were barely even willing to talk about the issue. They insisted that nothing be done without ''consensus''. And the developer who was responsible for making the releases was so afraid of conflict that he decided any controversial topic in which one side might ''win'' simply could not be touched at all, and refused to get involved.
Thus despite the fact that exchanges, users, wallet developers, and miners were all expecting a rise, and indeed, had been building entire businesses around the assumption that it would happen, 3 of the 5 developers refused to touch the limit.
Deadlock.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking.
Massive DDoS attacks on XT usersDespite the news blockade, within a few days of launching Bitcoin XT around 15% of all network nodes were running it, and at least one mining pool had started offering BIP101 voting to miners.
That's when the denial of service attacks started. The attacks were so large that they disconnected entire regions from the internet:
''I was DDos'd. It was a massive DDoS that took down my entire (rural) ISP. Everyone in five towns lost their internet service for several hours last summer because of these criminals. It definitely discouraged me from hosting nodes.''
In other cases, entire datacenters were disconnected from the internet until the single XT node inside them was stopped. About a third of the nodes were attacked and removed from the internet in this way.
Worse, the mining pool that had been offering BIP101 was also attacked and forced to stop. The message was clear: anyone who supported bigger blocks, or even allowed other people to vote for them, would be assaulted.
The attackers are still out there. When Coinbase, months after the launch, announced they had finally lost patience with Core and would run XT, they too were forced offline for a while.
Bogus conferencesDespite the DoS attacks and censorship, XT was gaining momentum. That posed a threat to Core, so a few of its developers decided to organise a series of conferences named ''Scaling Bitcoin'': one in August and one in December. The goal, it was claimed, was to reach ''consensus'' on what should be done. Everyone likes a consensus of experts, don't they?
It was immediately clear to me that people who refused to even talk about raising the limit would not have a change of heart because they attended a conference, and moreover, with the start of the winter growth season there remained only a few months to get the network upgraded. Wasting those precious months waiting for conferences would put the stability of the entire network at risk. The fact that the first conference actuallybanneddiscussion of concrete proposals didn't help.
So I didn't go.
Unfortunately, this tactic was devastatingly effective. The community fell for it completely. When talking to miners and startups, ''we are waiting for Core to raise the limit in December'' was one of the most commonly cited reasons for refusing to run XT. They were terrified of any media stories about a community split that might hurt the Bitcoin price and thus, their earnings.
Now the last conference has come and gone with no plan to raise the limit, some companies (like Coinbase and BTCC) have woken up to the fact that they got played. But too late. Whilst the community was waiting, organic growth added another 250,000 transactions per day.
A non-roadmapJeff Garzik and Gavin Andresen, the two of five Bitcoin Core committers who support a block size increase (and the two who have been around the longest), both have a stellar reputation within the community. They recently wrote a joint article titled ''Bitcoin is Being Hot-Wired for Settlement''.
Jeff and Gavin are generally softer in their approach than I am. I'm more of a tell-it-like-I-see-it kinda guy, or as Gavin has delicately put it, ''honest to a fault''. So the strong language in their joint letter is unusual. They don't pull any punches:
The proposed roadmap currently being discussed in the bitcoin community has some good points in that it does have a plan to accommodate more transactions, but it fails to speak plainly to bitcoin users and acknowledge key downsides.
Core block size does not change; there has been zero compromise on that issue.
In an optimal, transparent, open source environment, a BIP would be produced '... this has not happened
One of the explicit goals of the Scaling Bitcoin workshops was to funnel the chaotic core block size debate into an orderly decision making process. That did not occur. In hindsight, Scaling Bitcoin stalled a block size decision while transaction fee price and block space pressure continue to increase.
Failing to speak plainly, as they put it, has become more and more common. As an example, the plan Gavin and Jeff refer to was announced at the ''Scaling Bitcoin'' conferences but doesn't involve making anything more efficient, and manages an anemic 60% capacity increase only through an accounting trick (not counting some of the bytes in each transaction). It requires making huge changes to nearly every piece of Bitcoin-related software. Instead of doing a simple thing and raising the limit, it chooses to do an incredibly complicated thing that might buy months at most, assuming a huge coordinated effort.
Replace by feeOne problem with using fees to control congestion is that the fee to get to the front of the queue might change after you made a payment. Bitcoin Core has a brilliant solution to this problem'Š'--'Šallow people to mark their payments as changeable after they've been sent, up until they appear in the block chain. The stated intention is to let people adjust the fee paid, but in fact their change also allows people to change the payment to point back to themselves, thus reversing it.
At a stroke, this makes using Bitcoin useless for actually buying things, as you'd have to wait for a buyer's transaction to appear in the block chain '... which from now on can take hours rather than minutes, due to the congestion.
Core's reasoning for why this is OK goes like this: it's no big loss because if you hadn't been waiting for a block before, there was a theoretical risk of payment fraud, which means you weren't using Bitcoin properly. Thus, making that risk a 100% certainty doesn't really change anything.
In other words, they don't recognise that risk management exists and so perceive this change as zero cost.
This protocol change will be released with the next version of Core (0.12), so will activate when the miners upgrade. It was massively condemned by the entire Bitcoin community but the remaining Bitcoin Core developers don't care what other people think, so the change will happen.
If that didn't convince you Bitcoin has serious problems, nothing will. How many people would think bitcoins are worth hundreds of dollars each when you soon won't be able to use them in actual shops?
ConclusionsBitcoin has entered exceptionally dangerous waters. Previous crises, like the bankruptcy of Mt Gox, were all to do with the services and companies that sprung up around the ecosystem. But this one is different: it is a crisis of the core system, the block chain itself.
More fundamentally, it is a crisis that reflects deep philosophical differences in how people view the world: either as one that should be ruled by a ''consensus of experts'', or through ordinary people picking whatever policies make sense to them.
Even if a new team was built to replace Bitcoin Core, the problem of mining power being concentrated behind the Great Firewall would remain. Bitcoin has no future whilst it's controlled by fewer than 10 people. And there's no solution in sight for this problem: nobody even has any suggestions. For a community that has always worried about the block chain being taken over by an oppressive government, it is a rich irony.
Still, all is not yet lost. Despite everything that has happened, in the past few weeks more members of the community have started picking things up from where I am putting them down. Where making an alternative to Core was once seen as renegade, there are now two more forks vying for attention (Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin Unlimited). So far they've hit the same problems as XT but it's possible a fresh set of faces could find a way to make progress.
There are many talented and energetic people working in the Bitcoin space, and in the past five years I've had the pleasure of getting to know many of them. Their entrepreneurial spirit and alternative perspectives on money, economics and politics were fascinating to experience, and despite how it's all gone down I don't regret my time with the project. I woke up this morning to find people wishing me well in the uncensored forum and asking me to stay, but I'm afraid I've moved on to other things. To those people I say: good luck, stay strong, and I wish you the best.
DHS tries agile approach in Silicon Valley-based R&D effort -- FCW
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 23:35
Agile Development
DHS tries agile approach in Silicon Valley-based R&D effortBy Mark RockwellJan 14, 2016The Department of Homeland Security is about to get more agile, thanks to the Cyber Security Division's plan to put into play a new procurement idea in Silicon Valley.
Director Douglas Maughan said the division will begin using its newly introduced Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation next month to make it easier for nontraditional contractors, including startups, to share innovative technology and ideas with the department. DHS released the solicitation plan on Dec. 9, 2015.
The approach provides a way for DHS to keep up with fast-paced corporate development and attract companies that might not have experience working with the federal government, Maughan told FCW at a Jan. 14 event in McLean, Va.
"We can give a company the thumbs-up or thumbs-down [on proposals] on the spot," he said, which significantly shortens what can be a lengthy government evaluation process. The companies' pitches will be based on an oral presentation, not a whitepaper or other documentation, he added.
"They'll have 15 minutes to make their case," Maughan said, which resembles the process in the freewheeling world of venture capital funding. DHS' goal is to award contracts in four months. As long as all the proposing companies get equal time, the process adheres to government rules, he added.
The first slate of awards -- expected to total about $5 million -- will go to firms with inventive ideas about how to secure the Internet of Things. The program will also include awards in aviation security, border security, cybersecurity and counterterrorism.
Although DHS is seeking nontraditional performers, it is not looking for raw, unproven startups. Maughan said DHS is focusing on six- to 12-month-old companies that have already received or currently have some venture capital investment.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
I went to a Trump rally in my hijab. His supporters aren't just racist caricatures | Kaddie Abdul | Opinion | The Guardian
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 22:39
The author discusses political philosophy with two people in attendance at a Trump rally. (The
After Rose Hamid's horrifying experience at Trump's rally on Friday in South Carolina, many people might wonder how I survived a Trump rally wearing a bright-orange headscarf while holding a giant Qur'an '' or why I went at all.
Related:Trump rallies: where supporters get their pumped-up kicks from his bellicosity
I went because I firmly believe that Hamid was on the right path: it is important for people to stand up peacefully for the right things, even if we are confronted with physical and verbal intimidation. It is important to give people that may not have ever met or interacted with a Muslim an opportunity to meet her and learn about Islam from someone that actually practices it. And it is important, at a time when people like me too often face discrimination and hatred living our daily lives, to be polite, and yet be visible and present when we are the subject of political speeches.
And nothing bad happened to me at the rally: there were some hard stares and dirty looks, but no outright rude behavior. I spoke to several lovely people and had the type of informative and substantive discourse that one should expect at a political event. It was good to see that the bullies and thugs who have been fixtures at several other Trump rallies had taken the day off; maybe they were just too shocked to say anything directly to me.
Before this weekend, I'd never staged any sort of civil disobedience act; before this weekend, I had been perfectly content to never attend a Trump rally. But Hamid inspired me to make myself visible to the kind of people the media suggests hate me, and to make myself available for their edification.
The author in line at the Trump rally. Photograph: Will Whipple for the GuardianSo I looked up Trump's speaking schedule, discovered that he was speaking on Sunday in Reno, Nevada (a four-hour drive from me), downloaded a ticket and hopped into my car.
I drove overnight through a blizzard and fog, but I arrived safely and I was able to get to the venue about 15 minutes after the doors opened; already, the line snaked around the building. Many people in line did double-takes, or their heads snapped around to gawk at me (almost to the point where I thought they would snap off), but I was permitted to stand in line and wait as about a half dozen vendors peddled a motley array of Trump merchandise around us.
The most provocative act that I encountered occurred towards the beginning of my two-hour wait: a vendor noticed me and immediately came down to my section of the line where he loudly announced that he was selling ''Bomb The Hell Out Of Isis'' T-shirts (apparently, the desire to kill people is considered trendy fashion at a Trump rally). He looked directly at me to see how I would react; I looked back at him, shook my head, smiled and read my Qur'an as I patiently waited for someone to engage me in civil conversation.
Related:Muslim woman ejected from Donald Trump rally after silent protest
I attended Sunday's rally with the intention to educate myself and, hopefully, to educate others. I didn't go to shout at Trump's supporters, no matter how passionately I feel about some of their claims. And it was interesting to hear Trump and his supporters' viewpoints for more than just the few seconds offered by most soundbites.
His supporters are people, not caricatures. They feel marginalized economically, politically, and socially; they see a world different from the one they think should exist. Many non-Trump supporters are also concerned about the current economic and political state of our planet and its implications for a stabile future for our children.
What differentiates me from many of the Trump supporters I met this weekend is that their concerns for our future have led to an overwhelming need to see all of our problems as someone else's fault.
Friend to foe: Trump's ugly descent into anti-Muslim rhetoric.To Trump and his supporters, Asian countries have ''dumped'' their goods in America and almost bankrupted our country by causing our trade deficit; Mexico won't keep ''illegals'' (who are the ''source'' for Americans' drugs) on their side of the border; and, of course, Muslims have ''always'' been fighting us, and come from countries populated by ingrates who are unwilling to pay for the wars that we started on ''their'' behalf.
But solving our trade deficit isn't as simple as ending the supply of cheap Asian goods that Americans so happily consume. Mexico is not going to pay us to build us a wall. The rest of the world will not stand by and let the US seize Iraq's oilfields (and thus control a significant supply of the world's oil).
The author, still waiting in line to see Donald Trump. Photograph: Will Whipple for the GuardianTrump's supporters, though, love him for his outrageous suggestions; it provides them with a sense of empowerment and control. And his lack of specificity allows each person to hear what they want to hear.
The increasing popularity of these types of events reflects the fact that Trump supporters '' the people who used to be Tea Partiers, who supported Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin or any one of a number of politicians who've used this rhetoric before Trump '' aren't going to go away. Whether Trump wins or loses, his supporters will still be out there, longing for another leader to ''make America great again''.
People like me cannot keep thinking and hoping that Trump supporters will all go away eventually. We cannot continue to believe that they represent a fringe group of people and that their candidates can never be elected to a major role in government. We need to see them, and listen to them, and disagree respectfully.
We need to, as Americans, begin talking to and not at one another.
I understood that I was a guest at their rally, and that I had a duty to them to be a good guest; in return, I felt like they were good hosts. And whether they engaged me directly or not, many of them had to acknowledge the presence of someone who disagreed with them, but who did not fit their stereotypes by being disagreeable.
Yes, what I did could have been dangerous: the Trump campaign, like many movements, has been dogged by its share of mischief makers. The thugs and bullies who have hurt other dissenters are a small, but very real, part of the ultra-nationalism that vague, implausible rhetoric like Trump's attracts.
But it was worth the risk to me to show them that their insecurities about Muslims were unfounded. It was worth it to humanize Muslims for them. And it was worth it, to me, to recognize their humanity, too.
White House Twitter misquotes Obama with 'impotence' - CNNPolitics.com
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 22:05
The President actually said, "The main impetus for better politics is going to be the American people," while in Baton Rouge for a post-State of the Union town hall meeting.
The tweet's quote said, "The main impotence for a better politics is going to be the American people. They have to demand it."
Obama talked about the economy and health care at the town hall, going on a tour of several cities following his final State of the Union speech Tuesday.
The trip was Obama's first to Baton Rouge as president, in a state which he lost in 2012.
"'I love Louisiana ... this is my first trip to Baton Rouge as President.' '--@POTUS takes questions at a town hall," the White House account tweeted.
One of the purposes of the speech was to encourage voters to turnout for the 2016 election.
"Our system of government only works when you are involved'--not just by voting but by staying informed" '--@POTUS at a town hall in Baton Rouge," the White House tweeted.
The President also welcomed questions via social media.
"Hey everyone! Ready to answer your questions here at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge. Let's do this. #AskPOTUS," he tweeted.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
Ted Cruz Didn't Report Goldman Sachs Loan in a Senate Race - The New York Times
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:51
PhotoTed and Heidi Cruz, after he won the runoff for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat from Texas in July 2012.Credit Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle, via Associated PressAs Ted Cruz tells it, the story of how he financed his upstart campaign for the United States Senate four years ago is an endearing example of loyalty and shared sacrifice between a married couple.
''Sweetheart, I'd like us to liquidate our entire net worth, liquid net worth, and put it into the campaign,'' he says he told his wife, Heidi, who readily agreed.
But the couple's decision to pump more than $1 million into Mr. Cruz's successful Tea Party-darling Senate bid in Texas was made easier by a large loan from Goldman Sachs, where Mrs. Cruz works. That loan was not disclosed in campaign finance reports.
Those reports show that in the critical weeks before the May 2012 Republican primary, Mr. Cruz '-- currently a leading contender for his party's presidential nomination '-- put ''personal funds'' totaling $960,000 into his Senate campaign. Two months later, shortly before a scheduled runoff election, he added more, bringing the total to $1.2 million '-- ''which is all we had saved,'' as Mr. Cruz described it in an interview with The New York Times several years ago.
Continue reading the main storyGraphic: 2016 Primary Calendar and ResultsA review of personal financial disclosures that Mr. Cruz filed later with the Senate does not find a liquidation of assets that would have accounted for all the money he spent on his campaign. What it does show, however, is that in the first half of 2012, Ted and Heidi Cruz obtained the low-interest loan from Goldman Sachs, as well as another one from Citibank. The loans totaled as much as $750,000 and eventually increased to a maximum of $1 million before being paid down later that year. There is no explanation of their purpose.
Neither loan appears in reports the Ted Cruz for Senate Committee filed with the Federal Election Commission, in which candidates are required to disclose the source of money they borrow to finance their campaigns. Other campaigns have been investigated and fined for failing to make such disclosures, which are intended to inform voters and prevent candidates from receiving special treatment from lenders. There is no evidence that the Cruzes got a break on their loans.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz's presidential campaign, Catherine Frazier, acknowledged that the loan from Goldman Sachs, drawn against the value of the Cruzes' brokerage account, was a source of money for the Senate race. Ms. Frazier added that Mr. Cruz also sold stocks and liquidated savings, but she did not address whether the Citibank loan was used.
The failure to report the Goldman Sachs loan, for as much as $500,000, was ''inadvertent,'' she said, adding that the campaign would file corrected reports as necessary. Ms. Frazier said there had been no attempt to hide anything.
''These transactions have been reported in one way or another on his many public financial disclosures and the Senate campaign's F.E.C. filings,'' she said.
Kenneth A. Gross, a former election commission lawyer who specializes in campaign finance law, said that listing a bank loan in an annual Senate ethics report '-- which deals only with personal finances '-- would not satisfy the requirement that it be promptly disclosed to election officials during a campaign.
''They're two different reporting regimes,'' he said. ''The law says if you get a loan for the purpose of funding a campaign, you have to show the original source of the loan, the terms of the loan and you even have to provide a copy of the loan document to the Federal Election Commission.''
Continue reading the main storyInteractive Graphic: Who's Winning the Presidential Campaign?There would have been nothing improper about Mr. Cruz obtaining bank loans for his campaign, as long as they were disclosed. But such a disclosure might have conveyed the wrong impression for his candidacy.
Mr. Cruz, a conservative former Texas solicitor general, was campaigning as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president.
Earlier this year, when asked about the political clout of Goldman Sachs in particular, he replied, ''Like many other players on Wall Street and big business, they seek out and get special favors from government.''
In recounting the decision to put all of their savings into the campaign, Mr. Cruz said in the 2013 Times interview that Mrs. Cruz immediately agreed to his proposal, even though he was trailing in the polls and still viewed as a long shot against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who spent $24 million of his own money on the race.
''What astonished me, then and now, was Heidi within 60 seconds said, 'Absolutely,' with no hesitation,'' Mr. Cruz said.
Mrs. Cruz, who is on leave as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, later suggested that the reality was more complicated. She told Politico in 2014 that she thought they should apply ''common investment sense'' and not use their own money for the campaign ''unless it made the difference'' in winning. The article did not mention anything about loans from banks.
The money from the Cruzes allowed his campaign to keep running television ads in the period preceding the primary election, including a $300,000 ad buy that highlighted the story of Mr. Cruz's father's flight from Cuba in the 1950s after opposing the Batista regime. Mr. Cruz earned enough votes in the primary to qualify for a runoff, where he defeated Mr. Dewhurst and went on to win the general election.
Continue reading the main storyThe ethics reports that candidates file with the Senate require them to list all assets they held at the close of the year or that generated income during the year. Assets are reported in broad categories of value, such as $1,001 to $15,000 and $100,001 to $250,000.
Mr. Cruz's filings show that at the close of 2011, he and his wife had cash and securities in bank, brokerage and retirement accounts worth $1.3 million to $3.4 million. They also had mortgages and a loan against Mr. Cruz's partnership equity in his law firm. During 2012, they sold securities worth $82,000 to $355,000, and the value of other holdings was reduced by, at most, $155,000.
However, they also added a money-market account with $250,000 to $500,000 in it, and the value of other holdings increased by as much as $435,000. All told, the value of their cash and securities in 2012 saw a net increase of as much as $400,000 '-- even as the Cruzes were supposedly liquidating everything to finance Mr. Cruz's Senate campaign.
The biggest change in the Cruzes' finances in 2012 was the addition of the two bank loans, each valued at $250,000 to $500,000, during the first half of the year. One was a margin loan from Goldman Sachs. Margin loans, which are secured by holdings in a brokerage account, are often used to buy more stocks, but can be obtained for almost any purpose.
The other loan was a line of credit from Citibank. Even if the Citibank loan did not go directly into the Senate campaign, it could have freed up other assets for that purpose. While the Cruzes were well paid '-- he made more than $1 million a year as a law partner, and she earned a six-figure income as an executive in Goldman Sachs's Houston office '-- they also had big bills, including mortgage payments and full-time child care.
Both loans had floating interest rates around 3 percent, according to Mr. Cruz's Senate disclosures, which appear to be generally in line with rates available to wealthy borrowers at that time.
During the remainder of 2012, the Cruz campaign repaid Mr. Cruz for about half of the money he lent. His Senate disclosures show that he and his wife paid off the Citibank loan that same year. As for the Goldman Sachs loan, it remains outstanding, though the balance has been reduced to between $50,000 and $100,000.
The federal guide to campaign finance reporting for congressional candidates makes it clear that if the original source of money for a candidate's personal loan was a margin loan or a line of credit, it must be disclosed.
''Bank loans to candidates and loans derived from advances on a candidate's brokerage accounts, credit cards, home equity line of credit, or other lines of credit obtained for use in connection with his or her campaign must be reported by the committee,'' according to the guide.
Find out what you need to know about the 2016 presidential race today, and get politics news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the First Draft newsletter.
A version of this article appears in print on January 14, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Cruz Neglected to Report Loan From '12 Race.
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Are These Netflix's Viewership Numbers for Jessica Jones, Narcos and More? - IGN
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:18
If NBC Universal's numbers are right, then some of Netflix's top shows don't stack up to NBC favorites like The Voice and Blind Spot. The company announced that it's found a way to track numbers for the popular streaming service.
"The notion that they are replacing broadcast TV may not be quite accurate," said President of Research and Media Development Alan Wurtzel at the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour today.
His numbers come from Symphony, a San Francisco company that uses viewing preferences by using "audio content recognition technology software loaded on to users' phones that tracks viewership by capturing the soundtrack of a program.
The research showed that from September through December, Marvel's Jessica Jones averaged around 4.8 million viewers, while Narcos brought in 3.2 million viewers. Aziz Ansari's comedy Master of None, Wurtzel said, had 3.9 million viewers.
Wurtzel said these numbers are part of a "Netflix Reality Check," because the streaming service does not report its own viewing figures. The research head's goal in releasing these numbers was to give "perspective" on how Netflix and other streaming services stack up to traditional broadcast TV'--services that are continuing to weaken network conventions.
Nicole is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter.
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-Astronaut's First Spacewalk Cut Short After Water Seen Inside Spacesuit Helmet! - YouTube
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:06
VIDEO-First Of Armed Protesters Occupying Oregon Wildlife Refuge Arrested! - YouTube
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 06:37
VIDEO-NBC, ABC Accuse Ted Cruz of 'Hypocrisy,' Lack of 'Credibility' | MRCTV
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 06:29
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
Hours before the first Republican debate of 2016 on Thursday, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America both eagerly hyped a report in The New York Times that Ted Cruz failed to disclose a loan from Goldman Sachs to help fund his 2012 Senate campaign.
On Today, co-host Matt Lauer labeled the Texas Senator a hypocrite: ''Isn't the bigger issue, though, a bit of hypocrisy? Here's a guy running who was running as a darling of the Tea Party, railing against Wall Street and the big banks. And yet, what people didn't know, was that he had gone to one of the big banks, Goldman Sachs, where his wife worked, to get a personal loan.''
VIDEO-ABC: The Oscars Are Even Less Diverse Than the GOP | MRCTV
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:18
[See NewsBusters for more.] The journalists at Good Morning America on Friday joked about just how white the Academy Award nominations are. According to Chris Connelly, they are less diverse than the Republican presidential field. A sarcastic Connelly quipped, ''Just saying, the seven-person lineup for last night's A-list Republican candidates debate was more diverse than the Academy Award 20 acting nominations. None of which went to a person of color for the second year in a row.''
VIDEO-CBS Touts NY Daily News Telling Ted Cruz to 'Drop Dead' | MRCTV
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 05:12
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
Friday's CBS This Morning highlighted a nasty New York Daily News attack on Cruz, with co-host Norah O'Donnell noting: ''Ted Cruz made his strongest attack yet on Donald Trump in the latest Republican presidential debate, he accused the frontrunner of acting like a socially liberal New Yorker focused on money and the media. Well, that led to this attack by the New York Daily News, with the deadline, 'Drop Dead, Ted.'''
An image of the offensive cover appeared on screen, though a portion of it had to be blurred out because it depicted the Statue of Liberty giving Cruz the middle finger.
VIDEO-Obama: Your Premiums Will Go Down Under Obamacare - YouTube
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 04:51
VIDEO: Calais migrant 'jungle' on the move
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:56
Migrant residents of the makeshift Calais camp called "the Jungle" have told the BBC they will resist efforts to move them to new accommodation in converted shipping containers.
Migrants living in the camp said they wanted to stay in their tents, despite poor living conditions. Efforts are under way to clear an area of the camp next to a motorway. Police say they have until 18 January to move.
Paul Adams reports.
VIDEO: 'Welcome cooling' at Europe's borders
Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:56
The United Nations is continuing to record as many as 5,000 migrants a day making the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.
At the same time, controls at Greece's northern border with Macedonia are being tightened.
People who are not from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan are now being prevented from travelling further north.
It means an increasing number of people are attempting to make the journey illegally, as Damian Grammaticas reports.
VIDEO-French drug trial leaves one brain dead and five critically ill | Science | The Guardian
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 16:13
One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a drug trial for Portuguese pharmaceutical firm Bial at a clinic in north-west France.
The French health ministry said the six male patients aged 28 to 49 had been in good health until taking the oral medication. They started taking the drug on 7 January. One person started feeling ill on Sunday and the other five afterwards. The brain dead volunteer was admitted to hospital in Rennes on Monday. Other patients went in on Wednesday and Thursday.
Pierre-Gilles Edan, head of the hospital's neurology department, said one man was brain dead, three others were suffering a ''handicap that could be irreversible'' and another had neurological problems. The sixth volunteer had no symptoms but was being monitored.
French health minister confirms one brain dead and five seriously ill in Rennes '' videoThe French health minister, Marisol Touraine, said 90 people in total had taken part in the trial and received some dosage of the drug; others had taken a placebo. All trials on the drug have been suspended and all volunteers who have taken part in the trial are being called back.
The ministry said the test was carried out by the Biotrial clinic for Bial, which ''specialised in carrying out clinical trials''.
The trial was intended to test for side-effects of the new drug but all trials at the clinic have been suspended and the French state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
Touraine said the drug was a so-called FAAH inhibitor meant to act on the body's endocannabinoid system, which deals with pain. Earlier reports suggested that the drug contained cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants, but the minister said it did not contain the drug or any derivatives of it.
Touraine said the study was a phase one clinical trial, in which healthy volunteers take the medication to ''evaluate the safety of its use, tolerance and pharmacological profile of the molecule''.
Medical trials typically have three phases to assess a new drug or device for safety and effectiveness. Phase one entails a small group of volunteers and focuses only on safety. Phase two and three are progressively larger trials to assess the drug's effectiveness, although safety remains paramount.
Testing had already been carried out on animals, including chimpanzees, starting in July, Touraine said.
Bial said it was committed to ensuring the wellbeing of test participants and was working with authorities to discover the cause of the injuries, adding that the clinical trial had been approved by French regulators.
Every year, thousands of volunteers, often students looking to make extra money, take part in such trials. Mishaps are relatively rare, but in 2006 six men were treated for organ failure in London after taking part in a clinical trial into a drug developed to fight auto-immune disease and leukaemia.
The men now apparently have a higher risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases tied to their exposure to the experimental drug.
Dr Ben Whalley, a neuropharmacology professor at Britain's University of Reading, said standardised regulations for clinical trials were ''largely the same'' throughout Europe. ''However, like any safeguard, these minimise risk rather than abolish it,'' Whalley said. ''There is an inherent risk in exposing people to any new compound.''
Agence France-Presse contributed to this story
VIDEO-Amal Clooney Doesn't Consider Herself a Celebrity
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 15:49
Mrs. Clooney went to Washington '-- and NBC News tagged along.
Our favorite international human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, was interviewed by the news org about her work with the imprisoned former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. It was her first American network TV interview and it was all business with little mention of her famous husband '-- that would be George '-- other than footage of them on the red carpet. And when she was asked about being a celebrity, her response was rather perfect, much like her.
Amal Clooney was interviewed by Cynthia McFadden for NBC Nightly News and the Today show. (Photo: NBC News)
''Many years ago, Angelina Jolie said she understood she was going to get attention and if she could use all of that light an energy toward her and turn it around,'' NBC's Cynthia McFadden said. ''Is that how you feel about celebrity?''
The Oxford-educated, human rights crusader nodded as McFadden spoke '-- in what we can only guess was a way for someone with such a brilliant mind to process such a tedious question '-- and answered, ''I think it's wonderful that celebrities would choose to spend their time, energy, or the spotlight they have to raise awareness about these causes,'' using the words ''their'' and ''they'' instead of ''us'' and ''we'' because she clearly doesn't view herself in the same category as movie stars.
Clooney, who has held her job for 15 years, continued, ''I don't really see myself in the same way because I'm still doing the same job that I used to do before. If there is more attention paid to that for whatever reason'...''
McFadden interjected, ''Oh, you know the reason.''
With a smile, Amal finished her sentence, '''...I think that's good. I think there is a certain responsibility that comes with that. I think that I'm exercising it in an appropriate manner by continuing to do this kind of work.''
#TeamAmal. #TeamAmal. Forever and ever, #TeamAmal.
VIDEO-Hello? Jeb Bush gets call on Apple Watch, gets confused - YouTube
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:15
VIDEO-MURICA!-The Official Donald Trump Jam - YouTube
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:05

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Agenda 2030

ASK JOHN-Obama- When Reagan was Gov. Calif. Air was So Bad 'You Might Die'.mp3
Obama you might die ISO.mp3
Obama you might die-SHORTER ISO.mp3

BLM

ABC- The Oscars (HOLLYWOOD DEMS) Are Even Less Diverse Than the GOP.mp3
Chris Rock Oscars Promo.mp3

Elections 2016

Freedom Girls-The Official Donald Trump Jam.mp3
The Justiciability of Eligibility May Courts DecideWho Can Be President.pdf
trump_hate_microphone_raw.m4a
trump_iso_boom_boom.m4a
trump_iso_dont_like_microphone.m4a
trump_iso_stupid_microphone_keeps_popping.m4a

GOP Debate

Carson Bemoans National Incivility- 'You Start Reading an Article and You Go to the Comments Section'.mp3
Christie- 'On Tuesday Night, I Watched Story Time With Barack Obama'.mp3
GMA Accuses Ted Cruz of ‘Hypocrisy,’ Lack of ‘Credibility’.mp3
Harris-Perry Guest Rips Republicans for Calling Obama 'Boy' at Debate-PETUALNT CHILDmp3.mp3
NY Liberals-CBS Touts NY Daily News Telling Ted Cruz to 'Drop Dead'.mp3
TODAY SHOW Accuses Ted Cruz of ‘Hypocrisy,’ Lack of ‘Credibility’.mp3
Trump explains birther issue.mp3

JCD Clips

ABC debates package on NYC.mp3
brain dead accident.mp3
David Brooks omn getting rid of trump and admission.mp3
idiot NYC chef selling garbage.mp3
market crash 2.mp3
market crash 3.mp3
market crash 4 oil.mp3
market crash on PBS.mp3
thoughts about merkel.mp3
Yosemite news not good.mp3

Migrants

BBC-Migrant crisis- 'Welcome cooling' at borders across Europe.mp3

Obama Nation

NO HONOR-Audience shouts 3d term-Obama- Can't Stay as President Because 'The Constitution,' 'Michelle Would Kill Me'.mp3
Obama- 'There are Three Things that are Certain in Life- Death, Taxes, and Michelle is Not Running for President'.mp3
Obama- Your Premiums Will Go Down Under Obamacare.mp3
Tavis Smiley-CSPAN-1-In Past 10 Years, Blacks Lost Ground in Every Major Economic Category.mp3
Tavis Smiley-CSPAN-2-Obamacare provisions not kicked in yet.mp3

Out There

Astronaut Tim Peak's First Spacewalk Cut Short After Water Seen Inside Spacesuit Helmet! BULLCRAP.mp3
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