800: Toilet Wars

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 12m
February 18th, 2016
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Executive Producers: Benjamin Naidus, Sir Bashir, Sir Trevor Mudge, Anonymous, Sir Jojo the Network Chimp, Stephen Vorhees, Michael Hinz

Associate Executive Producers: John Scales, Ron Gardner, Jack Smith, Ryan McCullough, Sir Adam Johnson Baron of the Bourbon Barrel Stout, Sir Robert Goshko Earl of Alberta, Ben Smith, Christine Bachman, Matthew Bellemare, Joshua Willis, John Robinette, Sir Kirk of the Happy Snowy Valley, Dennis Stephens, Baronet Sir Guy Boazy, Anonymous, Pnonymous

Cover Artist: H@ssan M@ynard

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PILLOW IN HEAD-Cibolo Creek Ranch owner recalls Scalia's last hours in Texas - San Antonio Express-News
Mon, 15 Feb 2016 09:19
John MacCormack|on February 14, 2016
Photo: Matthew Busch, Getty Images
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Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage2of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage3of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage4of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage5of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage6of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage7of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage8of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter, second left, walks back to his vehicle speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter, second left, walks back to his vehicle speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage9of28
Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter says that he, along with the other members of the weekend's group had an enjoyable evening on Friday before Scalia was found the next morning to be unresponsive in his room. lessOwner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Poindexter ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage10of28
President Barack Obama shakes hands with John Poindexter. "We have an obligation to all who served in the jungles of Vietnam," the president said. lessPresident Barack Obama shakes hands with John Poindexter. "We have an obligation to all who served in the jungles of Vietnam," the president said.
Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, APImage11of28
Cibolo Creek Ranch
Photo: Matthew Busch, File PhotoImage12of28
The "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage13of28
The American flag stands at half mast at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe American flag stands at half mast at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage14of28
The entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79.
Photo: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage15of28
The "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage16of28
The road leading out of Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe road leading out of Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage17of28
A portion of Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessA portion of Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage18of28
The Texas flag flies at half mast on Sunday at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. lessThe Texas flag flies at half mast on Sunday at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas.
Photo: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage19of28
The Texas flag flies at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. lessThe Texas flag flies at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas.
Photo: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage20of28
Workers at Cibolo Creek Ranch lower the Texas flag to half mast on Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was at a Texas Ranch Saturday morning when he died at the age of 79. lessWorkers at Cibolo Creek Ranch lower the Texas flag to half mast on Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Supreme Court Justice Antonin ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage21of28
One of the ponds outside the "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessOne of the ponds outside the "El Presidente" suite where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch the day following his passing at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage22of28
Three geese walk the grounds at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThree geese walk the grounds at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent time the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage23of28
The Texas flag flies at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe Texas flag flies at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch early Sunday, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79.
Photo: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage24of28
The dining table at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dined the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia was 79. lessThe dining table at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dined the night before he was found dead in his room at the West Texas Resort ranch that stretches over 30,000 acres, February ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage25of28
The entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia, who was on a quail hunting trip, was found dead Saturday morning in his room at the ranch, he was 79. lessThe entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia, who was on a quail hunting trip, was found dead ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage26of28
The entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia, who was on a quail hunting trip, was found dead Saturday morning in his room at the ranch, he was 79. lessThe entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, the day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia, who was on a quail hunting trip, was found dead ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage27of28
George Van Etten, a property manager at Cibolo Creek Ranch, shows reporters the Ranch house the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14 , 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Justice Scalia stayed in the "El Presidente" suite, shown behind Van Etten, this past Friday night, he was found Saturday morning to have died, not responding to those who tried to wake him. lessGeorge Van Etten, a property manager at Cibolo Creek Ranch, shows reporters the Ranch house the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14 , 2016 in ... morePhoto: Matthew Busch, Getty ImagesImage28of28
Cibolo Creek Ranch owner recalls Scalia's last hours in Texas
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MARFA '-- A first-time guest to the Cibolo Creek Creek Ranch, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was animated and engaged during dinner Friday night, as one of three dozen invitees to an event that had nothing to do with law or politics, according to the ranch owner.
Just hours later, he would be found dead of apparent natural causes, which media outlets were reporting Sunday was a heart attack.
"He was seated near me and I had a chance to observe him. He was very entertaining. But about 9 p.m. he said, 'it's been a long day and a long week, I want to get some sleep," recalled Houston businessman John Poindexter, who owns the 30,000-acre luxury ranch.
When Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, the judge's door was locked and he did not answer. Three hours later, Poindexter returned after an outing, with a friend of Scalia who had come from Washington with him.
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"We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled," said Poindexter.
"He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap," he said.Scalia,79, did not have a pulse and his body was cold, and after consulting with a doctor at a hospital in Alpine, Poindexter concluded resuscitation would have been futile, He then contacted federal authorities, at first encountering a series of answering services because he was calling on a weekend.
"Ultimately they became available and handled it t superbly. They flew in by helicopter. They told me to secure the ranch, which I did until this morning," he said.
Scalia was just the latest newsworthy guest to visit the celebrity hideaway that covers 30,000 acres near the Chinati Mountains. Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones have also partaken of its scenic vistas and luxury accomodations.
Established in 1857 by Milton Faver, known as the first Texas cattle baron west of the Pecos, the ranch retains 19th Century constructions, including "El Fortin de Cibolo," a primitive fort designed to protect settlers from Apaches.
RELATED: Body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia arrives in El Paso
In a special guest package offered last month, rooms went for $545 to $565 a night for two people, with a meal package and ranch tour included. Other activities include hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching and ATV tours.
Scalia, who was scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday, had little time to avail himself of the ranch's offerings. Poindexter said he had only met Scalia once before briefly, in Washington. Scalia came to the ranch because he was friends another guest.Poindexter said he knew the other guests.
"All the guests were friends of mine, I paid for all of them. There were no politics, no jurisprudence in the slightest," he said.
"This was strictly a group of friends that the judge decided to join. He was coming with his son who had to drop out for reasons I don't' know.
Read Full Article "It was an honor to have him. He was widely admired. There were no speeches. He wasn't asked any hard questions, it was all about the outdoors and Texas, and what it's like to being a Supreme Court Justice," he said.
RELATED: Inside the West Texas ranch where Antonin Scalia was found dead
Scalia's personal financial disclosures show no previous trips to the ranch. The disclosures, posted on OpenSecret.Org show that the justice made several trips to Texas since 2005 to speak at colleges and universities, including St. Mary's University in 2008.
Poindexter, 71, said Scalia's sudden death was both a "personal tragedy" for those at the ranch, and for the nation.
"All of us here saw him as a stalwart defender of our way of life in Texas, in a real sense," he said."It's a great loss. Having made that statement, if it was his time to go, he was surrounded by friends, in fairly nice setting, with a full tummy too. He said he was very happy to be invited so it could have been in worse circumstances," he said.
"It's caused all of us here to stop and think about life, how precious it is, and how it is so unexpectedly lost," he added.
The body of the Supreme Court justice was moved to an El Paso funeral home early Sunday.The body was driven from Marfa and arrived around 2:30 a.m. at Sunset Funeral Homes, according to spokesman Chris Lujan.
Lujan said the funeral home was chosen by family of the justice, and at the advice of a family friend.The El Paso County medical examiner's office said they hadn't received any infomration regarding the possibility of performing an autopsy.
Staff Writer David Saleh Rauf contributed to this report.jmaccormack@express-news.net
Glenn Beck: God Brought About Scalia's Death So America Would Vote For Ted Cruz | The Daily Caller
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:18
This isn't the first time Beck and other prominent Cruz supporters have claimed there's some divine power behind Cruz's candidacy.
Last week, Beck praised Ted Cruz as the man who could get America through the rapture.
''Fall to your knees and pray to God to reveal to you what the hour is,'' Beck proclaimed at a Cruz rally in South Carolina. ''This is your last call, America! Stand, stand with the man I believe was raised for this hour, Ted Cruz!''
In January, Beck argued the ''hand of divine providence'' brought about the birth of Cruz.
Earlier in February, Cruz's wife Heidi told a crowd that her husband shows the country ''the face of the God we serve.''
During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, said he told his son at an early age that ''God has destined you for greatness.''
In 2013, Rafael Cruz, who's an ordained pastor, said in a sermon at a church in Irvin, Texas, that his son is ''anointed'' from high above to serve as a ''king'' to bring about the ''great transfer of wealth'' from the wicked to the righteous.
The sermon given by the elder Cruz is in line with the fundamentalist sect of evangelical Christianity known as dominionism. Dominionists preach that America should be governed by their interpretation of biblical law and be ruled exclusively by devout fundamentalists.
In August, Cruz's Iowa campaign chairman Matt Schultz claimed God is guiding the Texas senator to be America's next president.
''God raises special men and women to protect his people, and I believe this is one of those moments in time. '... Ted Cruz is that man who God has prepared for this moment in time,'' Schultz said at a rally with Cruz in attendance.
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This isn't the first time Beck and other prominent Cruz supporters have claimed there's some divine power behind Cruz's candidacy.
Last week, Beck praised Ted Cruz as the man who could get America through the rapture.
''Fall to your knees and pray to God to reveal to you what the hour is,'' Beck proclaimed at a Cruz rally in South Carolina. ''This is your last call, America! Stand, stand with the man I believe was raised for this hour, Ted Cruz!''
In January, Beck argued the ''hand of divine providence'' brought about the birth of Cruz.
Earlier in February, Cruz's wife Heidi told a crowd that her husband shows the country ''the face of the God we serve.''
During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, said he told his son at an early age that ''God has destined you for greatness.''
In 2013, Rafael Cruz, who's an ordained pastor, said in a sermon at a church in Irvin, Texas, that his son is ''anointed'' from high above to serve as a ''king'' to bring about the ''great transfer of wealth'' from the wicked to the righteous.
The sermon given by the elder Cruz is in line with the fundamentalist sect of evangelical Christianity known as dominionism. Dominionists preach that America should be governed by their interpretation of biblical law and be ruled exclusively by devout fundamentalists.
In August, Cruz's Iowa campaign chairman Matt Schultz claimed God is guiding the Texas senator to be America's next president.
''God raises special men and women to protect his people, and I believe this is one of those moments in time. '... Ted Cruz is that man who God has prepared for this moment in time,'' Schultz said at a rally with Cruz in attendance.
Follow Scott on Twitter
Flashback: Senate Democrats in 1960 pass resolution against election-year Supreme Court recess appointments - The Washington Post
Mon, 15 Feb 2016 13:33
Thanks to a VC commenter, I discovered that in August 1960, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a resolution, S.RES. 334, ''Expressing the sense of the Senate that the president should not make recess appointments to the Supreme Court, except to prevent or end a breakdown in the administration of the Court's business.'' Each of President Eisenhower's SCOTUS appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats were apparently concerned that Ike would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment. Not surprisingly, the Republicans objected, insisting that the Court should have a full complement of Justices at all times. Of course, the partisan arguments will be exactly the opposite this time.
David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA. His latest book, Lawless: The Obama Administration's Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law, was published in November.
SCOTUS Analyst: Loretta Lynch 'Most Likely Candidate' to Replace Scalia - NBC News
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 19:19
President Barack Obama speaks with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office of the White House. JIM WATSON / AFP - Getty Images
Tom Goldstein, who runs the influential SCOTUSblog, had earlier predicted Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford would make the top of
President Obama's shortlist. But in a revised blog post, Goldstein said he now believes Lynch is the leading contender.Lynch is a "very serious possibility," Goldstein wrote. "The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fearing that whoever Obama picks will tip the ideological balance of the nation's highest court to the left, has already made it clear that he believes next president should be responsible for appointing a justice. GOP presidential candidates, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, have made similar statements.
But tapping Lynch to fill the seat of Scalia, who died suddenly Saturday, poses a perception problem for Republicans because her "history as a career prosecutor makes it very difficult to paint her as excessively liberal," Goldstein wrote.
Lynch would be the first black woman ever nominated to the nation's highest court '-- and the GOP would have a political problem during an election year if the Republicans refused to even consider her nomination, Goldstein wrote.
"I think the administration would relish the prospect of Republicans either refusing to give Lynch a vote or seeming to treat her unfairly in the confirmation process," Goldstein wrote. "Either eventuality would motivate both black and women voters."
The Supreme Court sided with science against Obama | New York Post
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:18
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama invited ''anybody [who] wants to dispute the science around climate change .'‰.'‰. to have at it.''
The Supreme Court's response? Thank you, Mr. President, for the offer. We will.
On Feb. 9, the court upheld a delay of Obama's war on fossil fuels, which is supposed to ''stop climate change,'' in the form of new restrictions on factories' greenhouse-gas emissions. Apparently a majority of the court is less confident of the ''science around climate change'' than Obama is.
As well they should be. Obama's policies will have negligible effects on the climate and will be all pain with no gain.
Two critical points about ''the science around climate change'' stand out in a review recently completed by the CO2 Coalition, a new independent, nonpartisan scientific-educational group (CO2Coalition.org).
First, carbon dioxide, CO2, is emphatically NOT a ''pollutant.'' All living things are built of carbon that comes from CO2. An increase in essential CO2 in the atmosphere will be a huge benefit to plants and agriculture. Satellite measurements show that the increase of CO2 over the last few decades has already caused a pronounced greening of the planet '-- especially in arid regions.
For tens of millions of years, plants have been coping with a ''CO2 famine.'' Current CO2 concentrations of a few hundred parts per million (ppm) are close to starvation levels compared to the several thousand ppm that prevailed over most of history.
We support the cost-effective control of real pollutants associated with the use of fossil fuels '-- for example, fly ash, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur or smog-forming volatile hydrocarbons. But CO2 isn't a pollutant, and there's no reason to control it.
Second, the ''warming'' from CO2 '-- and yes, CO2 is a ''greenhouse gas'' '-- has been much less than predicted by the climate models Obama bases his policies on. For 20 years, the temperature has been virtually unchanged, in stark contrast to model predictions.
The war on fossil fuels isn't based on science but on unreliable climate models. Rather than trying to correct the models, Team Obama is trying to ''dispute the science'' by trying to manufacture scary warming trends.
A recent letter to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology by more than 300 experts on data quality pointed out that the feds' attempt to erase or ignore evidence of the recent lack of global warming arguably violated the Data Quality Act of 2001, which requires that ''highly influential scientific assessments,'' bearing the imprimatur of the federal government, be subject to rigorous external peer review.
It exposes the hollowness of the left's claim that ''97 percent of scientists'' support Team Obama's version of climate science.
Satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures are the genuine gold standard '-- and they show negligible warming for the past two decades. Since the Obama administration can't read just satellite data (as they have tried to do with surface data), they have unleashed a campaign to discredit the satellite temperature record.
The observational record indicates that the temperature increase by the year 2100 will be less than 1 degree Celsius as a result of CO2 emissions. This small temperature increase, together with the robust benefits to plants and agriculture, will benefit the world.
How about other concerns? Some claim that more CO2 causes extreme weather, accelerating a rise in sea levels or other horrors. But extensive global measurements reveal no increase in extreme weather: The trends in tornadoes, droughts, floods and hurricanes are flat over the past generation. Sea levels are rising at about the same rate they did before the rising concentrations of CO2 during the past century.
Inexpensive, reliable energy from fossil fuels has raised living standards in the developed world to levels that only the wealthy could dream of a few centuries ago. Eliminating fossil fuels would do nothing to stop climate change, but it would keep much of the developing world in poverty.
Rising energy costs would hurt the less privileged populations of the developed world as well.
Bravo for the Supreme Court's vote for solid science!
Will Happer, professor of physics, emeritus at Princeton University and Rod Nichols, former president of the New York Academy of Sciences, are members of the CO2 Coalition (CO2Coalition.org).
Apple Unlock
Apple Unlocked iPhones for the Feds 70 Times Before - The Daily Beast
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:24
A 2015 court case shows that the tech giant has been willing to play ball with the government before'--and is only stopping now because it might 'tarnish the Apple brand.'
Apple CEO Tim Cook declared on Wednesday that his company wouldn't comply with a government search warrant to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers, a significant escalation in a long-running debate between technology companies and the government over access to people's electronically-stored private information.
But in a similar case in New York last year, Apple acknowledged that it could extract such data if it wanted to. And according to prosecutors in that case, Apple has unlocked phones for authorities at least 70 times since 2008. (Apple doesn't dispute this figure.)
In other words, Apple's stance in the San Bernardino case may not be quite the principled defense that Cook claims it is. In fact, it may have as much to do with public relations as it does with warding off what Cook called ''an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.''
For its part, the government's public position isn't clear cut, either. U.S. officials insist that they cannot get past a security feature on the shooter's iPhone that locks out anyone who doesn't know its unique password'--which even Apple doesn't have. But in that New York case, a government attorney acknowledged that one U.S. law enforcement agency has already developed the technology to crack at least some iPhones, without the assistance from Apple that officials are demanding now.
The facts in the New York case, which involve a self-confessed methamphetamine dealer and not a notorious terrorist, tend to undermine some of the core claims being made by both Apple and the government in a dispute with profound implications for privacy and criminal investigations beyond the San Bernardino case.
In New York, as in California, Apple is refusing to bypass the passcode feature now found on many iPhones.
But in a legal brief, Apple acknowledged that the phone in the meth case was running version 7 of the iPhone operating system, which means the company can access it. ''For these devices, Apple has the technical ability to extract certain categories of unencrypted data from a passcode locked iOS device,'' the company said in a court brief.
Whether the extraction would be successful depended on whether the phone was ''in good working order,'' Apple said, noting that the company hadn't inspected the phone yet. But as a general matter, yes, Apple could crack the iPhone for the government. And, two technical experts told The Daily Beast, the company could do so with the phone used by deceased San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook, a model 5C. It was running version 9 of the operating system.
Still, Apple argued in the New York case, it shouldn't have to, because ''forcing Apple to extract data'... absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand,'' the company said, putting forth an argument that didn't explain why it was willing to comply with court orders in other cases.
''This reputational harm could have a longer term economic impact beyond the mere cost of performing the single extraction at issue,'' Apple said.
Apple's argument in New York struck one former NSA lawyer as a telling admission: that its business reputation is now an essential factor in deciding whether to hand over customer information.
''I think Apple did itself a huge disservice,'' Susan Hennessey, who was an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the NSA, told The Daily Beast. The company acknowledged that it had the technical capacity to unlock the phone, but ''objected anyway on reputational grounds,'' Hennessey said. Its arguments were at odds with each other, especially in light of Apple's previous compliance with so many court orders.
It wasn't until after the revelations of former-NSA contractor Edward Snowden that Apple began to position itself so forcefully as a guardian of privacy protection in the face of a vast government surveillance apparatus. Perhaps Apple was taken aback by the scale of NSA spying that Snowden revealed. Or perhaps it was embarassed by its own role in it. The company, since 2012, had been providing its customers' information to the FBI and the NSA via the so-called PRISM program, which operated pursuant to court orders.
Apple has also argued, then and now, that the government is overstepping the authority of the All Writs Act, an 18th century statute that it claims forces Apple to conduct court-ordered iPhone searches. That's where the ''clear legal authority'' question comes into play.
But that, too, is a subjective question which will have to be decided by higher courts. For now, Apple is resisting the government on multiple grounds, and putting its reputation as a bastion of consumer protection front and center in the fight.
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None of this has stopped the government from trying to crack the iPhone, a fact that emerged unexpectedly in the New York case. In a brief exchange with attorneys during a hearing in October, Judge James Orenstein said he'd found testimony in another case that the Homeland Security Department ''is in possession of technology that would allow its forensic technicians to override the pass codes security feature on the subject iPhone and obtain the data contained therein.''
That revelation, which went unreported in the press at the time, seemed to undercut the government's central argument that it needed Apple to unlock a protected iPhone.
''Even if [Homeland Security] agents did not have the defendant's pass code, they would nevertheless have been able to obtain the records stored in the subject iPhone using specialized software,'' the judge said. ''Once the device is unlocked, all records in it can be accessed and copied.''
A government attorney affirmed that he was aware of the tool. However, it applied only to one update of version 8 of the iPhone operating system'--specifically, 8.1.2. The government couldn't unlock all iPhones, but just phones with that software running.
Still, it made the judge question whether other government agencies weren't also trying to break the iPhone's supposedly unbreakable protections. And if so, why should he order the company to help?
There was, the judge told the government lawyer, ''the possibility that on the intel side, the government has this capability. I would be surprised if you would say it in open court one way or the other.''
Orenstein was referring to the intelligence agencies, such as the NSA, which develop tools and techniques to hack popular operating systems, and have been particularly interested for years in trying to get into Apple products, according to documents leaked by Snowden.
There was no further explanation of how Homeland Security developed the tool, and whether it was widely used. A department spokesperson declined to comment ''on specific law enforcement techniques.'' But the case had nevertheless demonstrated that, at least in some cases, the government can, and has, managed to get around the very wall that it now claims impedes lawful criminal investigations.
The showdown between Apple and the FBI will almost certainly not be settled soon. The company is expected to file new legal briefs within days. And the question of whether the All Writs Act applies in such cases is destined for an appeals court decision, legal experts have said.
But for the moment, it appears that the only thing certainly standing in the way of Apple complying with the government is its decision not to. And for its part, the government must be presumed to be searching for new ways to get the information it wants.
Technically, Apple probably can find a way to extract the information that the government wants from the San Bernardino shooter's phone, Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Daily Beast.
''The question is does the law give the government the ability to force Apple to create new code?'' he said. ''Engineers have to sit down and create something that doesn't exist'' in order to meet the government's demands. Soghoian noted that this would only be possible in the San Bernardino case because the shooter was using an iPhone model 5C, and that newer hardware versions would be much harder for Apple to bypass.
But even that's in dispute, according to another expert's analysis. Dan Guido, a self-described hacker and CEO of the cybersecurity company Trail of Bits, said that Apple can, in fact, eliminate the protections that keep law enforcement authorities from trying to break into the iPhone with a so-called brute force attack, using a computer to make millions of password guesses in a short period of time. New iPhones have a feature that stops users from making repeated incorrect guesses and can trigger a kind of self-destruct mechanism, erasing all the phone's contents, after too many failed attempts.
In a detailed blog post, Guido described how Apple could workaround its own protections and effectively disarm the security protections. It wouldn't be trivial. But it's feasible, he said, even for the newest versions of the iPhone, which, unlike the ones in the New York and San Bernardino cases, Apple swears it cannot crack.
''The burden placed on Apple will be greater'... but it will not be impossible,'' Guido told The Daily Beast.
apple court order
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:34
AB 1681 Assembly Bill - INTRODUCED
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 02:09
AB 1681 Assembly Bill - INTRODUCEDBILL NUMBER: AB 1681 INTRODUCED BILL TEXTINTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Cooper JANUARY 20, 2016 An act to add Section 22762 to the Business and Profession Code,relating to smartphones. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 1681, as introduced, Cooper. Smartphones. Existing law requires that a smartphone that is manufactured on orafter July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, includea technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist ofsoftware, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, onceinitiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can renderinoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone toan unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession ofan authorized user. This bill would require a smartphone that is manufactured on orafter January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of beingdecrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating systemprovider. The bill would, except as provided, subject a seller orlessor that knowingly failed to comply with that requirement to acivil penalty of $2,500 for each smartphone sold or leased. The billwould prohibit a seller or lessor who has paid this civil penaltyfrom passing any portion of the penalty on to purchasers ofsmartphones. The bill would authorize only the Attorney General or adistrict attorney to bring a civil suit to enforce these provisions. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.State-mandated local program: no.THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Section 22762 is added to the Business and ProfessionsCode, immediately following Section 22761, to read: 22762. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following termshave the following meanings: (1) "Smartphone" has the same meaning as in Section 22761. (2) "Sold in California" has the same meaning as in Section 22761. (3) "Leased in California," or any variation thereof, means thatthe smartphone is contracted for a specified period of time to anend-use consumer at an address within the state. (b) A smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017,and sold or leased in California, shall be capable of beingdecrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating systemprovider. (c) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a seller or lessor thatsells or leases in California a smartphone manufactured on or afterJanuary 1, 2017, that is not capable of being decrypted and unlockedby its manufacturer or its operating system provider shall be subjectto a civil penalty of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) foreach smartphone sold or leased if the seller or lessor of thesmartphone knew at the time of the sale or lease that the smartphonewas not capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufactureror its operating system provider. A seller or lessor who pays a civilpenalty imposed pursuant to this subdivision shall not pass on anyportion of that penalty to purchasers of smartphones by raising thesales or lease price of smartphones. (d) (1) The sale or lease of a smartphone manufactured on or afterJanuary 1, 2017, that is not capable of being decrypted and unlockedby its manufacturer or its operating system provider shall notresult in liability to the seller or lessor if the inability of themanufacturer and operating system provider to decrypt and unlock thesmartphone is the result of actions taken by a person or entity otherthan the manufacturer, the operating system provider, the seller, orthe lessor and those actions were unauthorized by the manufacturer,the operating system provider, the seller, or the lessor. (2) Paragraph (1) does not apply if at the time of sale or lease,the seller or lessor had been notified that the manufacturer andoperating system provider were unable to decrypt and unlock thesmartphone due to those unauthorized actions. (e) A civil suit to enforce this section may only be brought bythe Attorney General, for the sale or lease of a smartphone inCalifornia, or a district attorney for the sale or lease of asmartphone in the county represented by the district attorney. Aseller or lessor shall not be subject to more than a single penaltyfor each sale or lease of a smartphone. AB 1681 Assembly Bill - INTRODUCEDBILL NUMBER: AB 1681 INTRODUCED BILL TEXTINTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Cooper JANUARY 20, 2016 An act to add Section 22762 to the Business and Profession Code,relating to smartphones. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 1681, as introduced, Cooper. Smartphones. Existing law requires that a smartphone that is manufactured on orafter July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, includea technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist ofsoftware, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, onceinitiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can renderinoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone toan unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession ofan authorized user. This bill would require a smartphone that is manufactured on orafter January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of beingdecrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating systemprovider. The bill would, except as provided, subject a seller orlessor that knowingly failed to comply with that requirement to acivil penalty of $2,500 for each smartphone sold or leased. The billwould prohibit a seller or lessor who has paid this civil penaltyfrom passing any portion of the penalty on to purchasers ofsmartphones. The bill would authorize only the Attorney General or adistrict attorney to bring a civil suit to enforce these provisions. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.State-mandated local program: no.THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Section 22762 is added to the Business and ProfessionsCode, immediately following Section 22761, to read: 22762. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following termshave the following meanings: (1) "Smartphone" has the same meaning as in Section 22761. (2) "Sold in California" has the same meaning as in Section 22761. (3) "Leased in California," or any variation thereof, means thatthe smartphone is contracted for a specified period of time to anend-use consumer at an address within the state. (b) A smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017,and sold or leased in California, shall be capable of beingdecrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating systemprovider. (c) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a seller or lessor thatsells or leases in California a smartphone manufactured on or afterJanuary 1, 2017, that is not capable of being decrypted and unlockedby its manufacturer or its operating system provider shall be subjectto a civil penalty of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) foreach smartphone sold or leased if the seller or lessor of thesmartphone knew at the time of the sale or lease that the smartphonewas not capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufactureror its operating system provider. A seller or lessor who pays a civilpenalty imposed pursuant to this subdivision shall not pass on anyportion of that penalty to purchasers of smartphones by raising thesales or lease price of smartphones. (d) (1) The sale or lease of a smartphone manufactured on or afterJanuary 1, 2017, that is not capable of being decrypted and unlockedby its manufacturer or its operating system provider shall notresult in liability to the seller or lessor if the inability of themanufacturer and operating system provider to decrypt and unlock thesmartphone is the result of actions taken by a person or entity otherthan the manufacturer, the operating system provider, the seller, orthe lessor and those actions were unauthorized by the manufacturer,the operating system provider, the seller, or the lessor. (2) Paragraph (1) does not apply if at the time of sale or lease,the seller or lessor had been notified that the manufacturer andoperating system provider were unable to decrypt and unlock thesmartphone due to those unauthorized actions. (e) A civil suit to enforce this section may only be brought bythe Attorney General, for the sale or lease of a smartphone inCalifornia, or a district attorney for the sale or lease of asmartphone in the county represented by the district attorney. Aseller or lessor shall not be subject to more than a single penaltyfor each sale or lease of a smartphone.
TOUCH-ID-How do I setup the Touch ID sensor on iPhone 5s? | The iPhone FAQ
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 17:37
Now that the iPhone 5s has a built-in fingerprint sensor, users can easily secure their devices without the everyday use of a manually entered passcode. Before the Touch ID system can be used, you must set up the system with your fingerprint. To setup Touch ID on the iPhone 5s:
1. Navigate to Settings -> General -> Passcode & Fingerprint2. Select Turn Passcode On and enter a four-digit passcode twice3. Select Fingerprints -> Add a fingerprint...4. Place the finger you wish to use for unlocking iOS onto the home button5. When the iPhone vibrates, lift your finger6. Repeat steps 5-6 multiple times, until the grey fingerprint turns completely red7. When complete, you will be prompted to adjust your grip8. Repeat steps 5-6 repeatedly, this time focusing on the sides of your fingerprint9. After enough data is collected you will see the "Success" message10. Touch Continue11. Passcode Unlock will be enabled (green) on the Fingerprints screen12. Switch iTunes & App Store ON (green) to use Touch ID with these services
Additional fingerprints can be added to the Touch ID system by repeating the process above.
Note you will be prompted to enter your passcode in the following situations:
To make changes to Passcode & Fingerprint settingsAfter a restart of your iPhoneAfter 48 hours or more has gone by without unlocking your iPhone
Annotation 6 - Article III - FindLaw
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 16:43
Power to Issue Writs: The Act of 1789
From the beginning of government under the Constitution of 1789, Congress has assumed, under the necessary and proper clause, its power to establish inferior courts, its power to regulate the jurisdiction of federal courts and the power to regulate the issuance of writs. 220 The Thirteenth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized the circuit courts to issue writs of prohibition to the district courts and the Supreme Court to issue such writs to the circuit courts. The Supreme Court was also empowered to issue writs of mandamus ''in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed, or persons holding office, under the authority of the United States.'' 221 Section 14 provided that all courts of the United States should ''have power to issue writs of scire facias, habeas corpus, and all other writs not specially provided for by statute, which may be necessary for the exercise of their respective jurisdiction, and agreeable to the principles and usages of law.'' 222 Although the Act of 1789 left the power over writs subject largely to the common law, it is significant as a reflection of the belief, in which the courts have on the whole concurred, that an act of Congress is necessary to confer judicial power to issue writs. 223
Whether Article III itself is an independent source of the power of federal courts to fashion equitable remedies for constitutional violations or whether such remedies must fit within congressionally authorized writs or procedures is often left unexplored. In Missouri v. Jenkins, 224 for example, the Court, rejecting a claim that a federal court exceeded judicial power under Article III by ordering local authorities to increase taxes to pay for desegregation remedies, declared that ''a court order directing a local government body to levy its own taxes is plainly a judicial act within the power of a federal court. 225 In the same case, the Court refused to rule on ''the difficult constitutional issues'' presented by the State's claim that the district court had exceeded its constitutional powers in a prior order directly raising taxes, instead ruling that this order had violated principles of comity. 226
Common Law Powers of District of Columbia Courts .--That portion of Sec. 13 which authorized the Supreme Court to issue writs of mandamus in the exercise of its original jurisdiction was held invalid in Marbury v. Madison, 227 as an unconstitutional enlargement of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction. After two more futile efforts to obtain a writ of mandamus, in cases in which the Court found that power to issue the writ had not been vested by statute in the courts of the United States except in aid of already existing jurisdiction, 228 a litigant was successful in Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes, 229 in finding a court that would take jurisdiction in a mandamus proceeding. This was the circuit court of the United States for the District of Columbia, which was held to have jurisdiction, on the theory that the common law, in force in Maryland when the cession of that part of the State that became the District of Columbia was made to the United States, remained in force in the District. At an early time, therefore, the federal courts established the rule that mandamus can be issued only when authorized by a constitutional statute and within the limits imposed by the common law and the separation of powers. 230
Habeas Corpus: Congressional and Judicial Control .--Although the writ of habeas corpus 231 has a special status because its suspension is forbidden, except in narrow circumstances, by Article I. Sec. 9, cl. 2, nowhere in the Constitution is the power to issue the writ vested in the federal courts. Could it be that despite the suspension clause restriction Congress could suspend de facto the writ simply by declining to authorize its issuance? Is a statute needed to make the writ available or does the right to habeas corpus stem by implication from the suspension clause or from the grant of judicial power without need of a statute? 232 Since Chief Justice Marshall's opinion in Ex parte Bollman, 233 it has been generally accepted that ''the power to award the writ by any of the courts of the United States, must be given by written law.'' 234 The suspension clause, Marshall explained, was an ''injunction,'' an ''obligation'' to provide ''efficient means by which this great constitutional privilege should receive life and activity; for if the means be not in existence, the privilege itself would be lost, although no law for its suspension should be enacted.'' 235 And so it has been understood since, 236 with a few judicial voices raised to suggest that what Congress could not do directly it could not do by omission, 237 but inasmuch as statutory authority has always existed authorizing the federal courts to grant the relief they deemed necessary under habeas corpus the Court has never had to face the question. 238 In Felker v. Turpin, Supp.5 the Court again passed up the opportunity to delineate Congress' permissive authority over habeas, finding that of the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act Supp.6 none did raise questions of constitutional import.
Having determined that a statute was necessary before the federal courts had power to issue writs of habeas corpus, Chief Justice Marshall pointed to Sec. 14 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as containing the necessary authority. 239 As the Chief Justice read it, the authorization was limited to persons imprisoned under federal authority, and it was not until 1867, with two small exceptions, 240 that legislation specifically empowered federal courts to inquire into the imprisonment of persons under state authority. 241 Pursuant to this authorization, the Court expanded the use of the writ into a major instrument to reform procedural criminal law in federal and state jurisdictions.
Habeas Corpus: The Process of the Writ .--A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is filed by or on behalf of a person in ''custody,'' a concept which has been expanded so much that it is no longer restricted to actual physical detention in jail or prison. 242 Traditionally, the proceeding could not be used to secure an adjudication of a question which if determined in the petitioner's favor would not result in his immediate release, since a discharge from custody was the only function of the writ, 243 but this restraint too the Court has abandoned in an emphasis upon the statutory language directing the habeas court to ''dispose of the matter as law and justice require.'' 244 Thus, even if a prisoner has been released from jail, the presence of collateral consequences flowing from his conviction gives the court jurisdiction to determine the constitutional validity of the conviction. 245
Petitioners coming into federal habeas must first exhaust their state remedies, a limitation long settled in the case law and codified in 1948. 246 It is only required that prisoners once present their claims in state court, either on appeal or collateral attack, and they need not return time and again to raise their issues before coming to federal court. 247 While they were once required to petition the Supreme Court on certiorari to review directly their state convictions, prisoners have been relieved of this largely pointless exercise, 248 although if the Supreme Court has taken and decided a case its judgment is conclusive in habeas on all issues of fact or law actually adjudicated. 249
A federal prisoner in a Sec. 2255 proceeding will file his motion in the court which sentenced him; 250 a state prisoner in a federal habeas action may file either in the district of the court in which he was sentenced or in the district in which he is in custody. 251
Habeas corpus is not a substitute for an appeal. 252 It is not a method to test ordinary procedural errors at trial or violations of state law but only to challenge alleged errors which if established would go to make the entire detention unlawful under federal law. 253 If after appropriate proceedings, the habeas court finds that on the facts discovered and the law applied the prisoner is entitled to relief, it must grant it, ordinarily ordering the government to release the prisoner unless he is retried within a certain period. 254
Footnotes
[Footnote 220] Frankfurter & Landis, Power of Congress Over Procedure in Criminal Contempts in ''Inferior'' Federal Courts--A Study in Separation of Powers, 37 Harv. L. Rev. 1010, 1016-1023 (1924).
[Footnote 221] 1 Stat. 73, Sec. 81.
[Footnote 222] Id., Sec. Sec. 81-82. See also United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502 (1954), holding that the All Writs section of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1651(a), gives federal courts the power to employ the ancient writ of coram nobis.
[Footnote 223] This proposition was recently reasserted in Pennsylvania Bureau of Correction v. United States Marshals Service, 474 U.S. 34 (1985) (holding that a federal district court lacked authority to order U.S. marshals to transport state prisoners, such authority not being granted by the relevant statutes).
[Footnote 224] 495 U.S. 33 (1990).
[Footnote 225] Id., 55 (citing Griffin v. Prince Edward County School Bd., 377 U.S. 218, 233 -234 (1964) (an order that local officials ''exercise the power that is theirs'' to levy taxes in order to open and operate a desegregated school system ''is within the court's power if required to assure . . . petitioners that their constitutional rights will no longer be denied them'')).
[Footnote 226] Id., 50-52.
[Footnote 227] 5 U.S. (1 Cr.) 137 (1803). Cf. Wiscart v. D'Auchy, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 321 (1796).
[Footnote 228] McIntire v. Wood, 11 U.S. (7 Cr.) 504 (1813); McClung v. Silliman, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 598 (1821).
[Footnote 229] 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 524 (1838).
[Footnote 230] In 1962, Congress conferred upon all federal district courts the same power to issue writs of mandamus as was hitherto exercisable by federal courts in the District of Columbia. 76 Stat. 744, 28 U.S..C Sec. 1361.
[Footnote 231] Reference to the ''writ of habeas corpus'' is to the ''Great Writ,'' habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, by which a court would inquire into the lawfulness of a detention of the petitioner. Ex parte Bollman, 8 U.S. (4 Cr.) 75, 95 (1807). For other uses, see Carbo v. United States, 364 U.S. 611 (1961); Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266 (1948). Technically, federal prisoners no longer utilize the writ of habeas corpus in seeking post-conviction relief, now the largest office of the writ, but proceed under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2255, on a motion to vacate judgment. Intimating that if Sec. 2255 afforded prisoners a less adequate remedy than they would have under habeas corpus, it would be unconstitutional, the Court in United States v. Hayman, 342 U.S. 205 (1952), held the two remedies to be equivalent. Cf. Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1 . 14 (1963). The claims cognizable under one are cognizable under the other. Kaufman v. United States, 394 U.S. 217 (1969). Therefore, the term habeas corpus is used here to include the Sec. 2255 remedy. There is a plethora of writings about the writ. See, e.g., P. Bator, et al., Hart & Wechsler's The Federal Courts and the Federal System (Westbury, N.Y.: 3d ed. 1988), Ch. XI, 1465-1597 (hereinafter Hart & Wechsler); Developments in the Law - Federal Habeas Corpus, 83 Harv. L. Rev. 1038 (1970).
[Footnote 232] Professor Chafee contended that by the time of the Constitutional Convention the right to habeas corpus was so well established no affirmative authorization was needed. The Most Important Human Right in the Constitution, 32 B.U.L. Rev. 143, 146 (1952). But compare Collins, Habeas Corpus for Convicts--Constitutional Right or Legislative Grace?, 40 Calif. L. Rev. 335, 344-345 (1952).
[Footnote 233] 8 U.S. (4 Cr.) 75 (1807).
[Footnote 234] Id., 94. And see Ex parte Dorr, 44 U.S. (3 How.) 103 (1845).
[Footnote 235] Id., 95. Note that in quoting the clause, Marshall renders ''shall not be suspended'' as ''should not be suspended.''
[Footnote 236] See Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506 (1869). Cf. Carbo v. United States, 364 U.S. 611, 614 (1961).
[Footnote 237] E.g., Eisentrager v. Forrestal, 174 F. 2d 961, 966 (D.C.Cir. 1949), revd. on other grounds sub nom., Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950); and see Justice Black's dissent, id., 791, 798: ''Habeas corpus, as an instrument to protect against illegal imprisonment, is written into the Constitution. Its use by courts cannot in my judgment be constitutionally abridged by Executive or by Congress.'' And in Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 238 (1963), the Court said: ''The habeas corpus jurisdictional statute implements the constitutional command that the writ of habeas corpus be made available.'' (Emphasis supplied).
[Footnote 238] Cf. Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506 (1869).
[Footnote 5 (1996 Supplement)] 116 S. Ct. 2333 (1996).
[Footnote 6 (1996 Supplement)] P. L. 104-132, Sec. Sec. 101-08, 110 Stat. 1214, 1217-26, amending, inter alia, 28 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 2244, 2253, 2254, 2255, and Fed. R. App. P. 22.
[Footnote 239] Ex parte Bollman, 8 U.S. (4 Cr.) 75, 94 (1807). See Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 409 (1963).
[Footnote 240] Act of March 2, 1833, Sec. 7, 4 Stat. 634 (federal officials imprisoned for enforcing federal law); Act of August 29, 1842, 5 Stat. 539 (foreign nationals detained by a State in violation of a treaty). See also Bankruptcy Act of April 4, 1800, Sec. 38, 2 Stat. 19, 32 (habeas corpus for imprisoned debtor discharged in bankruptcy), repealed by Act of December 19, 1803, 2 Stat. 248.
[Footnote 241] Act of February 5, 1867, 14 Stat. 385, conveyed power to federal courts ''to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases where any person may be restrained of his or her liberty in violation of the constitution, or of any treaty or law of the United States. . . .'' On the law with respect to state prisoners prior to this statute, see Ex Parte Dorr, 44 U.S. (3 How,) 103 (1845); cf. Elkison v. Deliesseline, 8. Fed. Cas. 493 (No. 4366) (C.C.D.S.C. 1823) (Justice Johnson); Ex parte Cabrera, 4 Fed. Cas. 964 (No. 2278) (C.C.D.Pa. 1805) (Justice Washington).
[Footnote 242] 28 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 2241(c), 2254(a). ''Custody'' does not mean one must be confined; a person on parole or probation is in custody. Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236 (1963). A person on bail or on his own recognizance is in custody, Justices of Boston Mun. Court v. Lydon, 466 U.S. 294, 300 -301 (1984); Lefkowitz v. Newsome, 420 U.S. 283, 291 n. 8 (1975); Hensley v. Municipal Court 411 U.S. 345 (1973), and Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484 (1973), held that an inmate of an Alabama prison was sufficiently in custody as well of Kentucky authorities who had lodged a detainer with Alabama to obtain the prisoner upon his release.
[Footnote 243] McNally v. Hill, 293 U.S. 131 (1934); Parker v. Ellis, 362 U.S. 574 (1960).
[Footnote 244] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2243. See Peyton v. Rowe, 391 U.S. 54 (1968). See also Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488 (1989).
[Footnote 245] Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234 (1968), overruling Parker v. Ellis, 362 U.S. 574 (1960). In Peyton v. Rowe, 391 U.S. 54 (1968), the Court overruled McNally v. Hill, 293 U.S. 131 (1934), and held that a prisoner may attack on habeas the second of two consecutive sentences while still serving the first. See also Walker v. Wainwright, 390 U.S. 335 (1968) (prisoner may attack the first of two consecutive sentences although the only effect of a successful attack would be immediate confinement on the second sentence). Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484 (1973), held that one sufficiently in custody of a State could use habeas to challenge the State's failure to bring him to trial on pending charges.
[Footnote 246] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254(b). See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 490 -497 (1973), and id. 500, 512-524 (Justice Brennan dissenting); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 515 -521 (1982). If a prisoner submits a petition with both exhausted and unexhausted claims, the habeas court must dismiss the entire petition. Rose v. Lundy, supra, 518-519. Exhaustion first developed in cases brought by persons in state custody prior to any judgment. Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241 (1886); Urquhart v. Brown, 205 U.S. 179 (1907).
[Footnote 247] Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 447 -450 (1953); id., 502 (Justice Frankfurter concurring); Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 350 (1989).
[Footnote 248] Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 435 (1963), overruling Darr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200 (1950).
[Footnote 249] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2244(c). But an affirmance of a conviction by an equally divided Court is not an adjudication on the merits. Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188 (1972).
[Footnote 250] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2255.
[Footnote 251] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2241(d). Cf. Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484 (1973), overruling Ahrens v. Clark, 335 U.S. 188 (1948), and holding a petitioner may file in the district in which his custodian is located although the prisoner may be located elsewhere.
[Footnote 252] Glasgow v. Moyer, 225 U.S. 420, 428 (1912); Riddle v. Dyche, 262 U.S. 333, 335 (1923); Eagles v. United States ex rel. Samuels, 329 U.S. 304, 311 (1946). But compare Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 558 -560 (1953) (Justice Frankfurter dissenting in part).
[Footnote 253] Estelle v. McGuire, 112 S.Ct. 475 (1991); Lewis v. Jeffers, 497 U.S. 764, 780 (1990); Pulley v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41 -42 (1984)
[Footnote 254] 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2244(b). See Whiteley v. Warden, 401 U.S. 560, 569 (1971); Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 729 (1961).
All Writs Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 16:02
The All Writs Act is a United States federal statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1651, which authorizes the United States federal courts to "issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law."
The act in its original form was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The current form of the act was first passed in 1911[1] and the act has been amended several times since then.[2]
On October 31, 2014, the act was used by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York to compel an unnamed smartphone manufacturer to bypass the lock screen of a smartphone allegedly involved in a credit card fraud.[3]
Similarly, on November 3, 2014, the Oakland Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office named Apple, Inc. in papers invoking the Act, which were filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Court documents obtained by Ars Technica reveal,[4] that federal law enforcement sought to get Apple to unlock an iPhone 5S as part of a criminal case.[5]
On February 16, 2016, the Act was invoked again in an order that Apple, Inc. create a special version of its iOS operating system, with certain security features removed, for Federal law enforcement officers to use as part of an investigation into the San Bernardino terrorist attack.[6] Apple CEO Tim Cook responded in an open letter warning of the precedent that following the order would create.[7] On the same day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced its intention to support efforts by Apple, Inc. to resist the order.[8]
Customer Letter - Apple
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 15:59
Customer Letter - AppleThe United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.
This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
The Need for EncryptionSmartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.
All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.
Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.
For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers' personal data because we believe it's the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.
The San Bernardino CaseWe were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government's efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.
When the FBI has requested data that's in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we've offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.
We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software '-- which does not exist today '-- would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession.
The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
The Threat to Data SecuritySome would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.
In today's digital world, the ''key'' to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.
The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks '-- from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers '-- including tens of millions of American citizens '-- from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.
We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.
A Dangerous PrecedentRather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.
The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by ''brute force,'' trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.
The implications of the government's demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone's device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone's microphone or camera without your knowledge.
Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.
We are challenging the FBI's demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
While we believe the FBI's intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
Why a disembodied finger can't be used to unlock the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:22
When a lot of folks think of fingerprint-scanning technology, they often assume there's a single way to do it, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are actually more than a half-dozen different technologies -- and combinations thereof -- that various devices employ to read prints, with varying levels of reliability, and yes, some of them would indeed work with a finger you chopped off of a dear friend, but the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s isn't one of them.
Based on what Apple has revealed regarding Touch ID and what the company's own patents have suggested, the sensor in the iPhone 5s utilizes two methods to sense and identify your fingerprint:
Capacitive -- A capacitive sensor is activated by the slight electrical charge running through your skin. We all have a small amount of electrical current running through our bodies, and capacitive technology utilizes that to sense touch. This is also the same technology used in the iPhone's touchscreen to detect input.Radio frequency -- RF waves do not respond to the dead layer of skin on the outside of your finger -- the part that might be chapped or too dry to be read with much accuracy -- and instead reads only the living tissue underneath. This produces an extremely precise image of your print, and ensures that a severed finger is completely useless.This means that the Touch ID sensor should be remarkably accurate for living creatures, but it also means that only a finger attached to a beating heart will be able to unlock it. So, should someone run up to you, hack off your finger, grab your iPhone and attempt to unlock it, there's virtually no chance it's going to work.
Once the tissue is dead -- which, in the case of someone chopping your finger off without your consent, should happen within a matter of minutes -- two things will happen. First, the finger will lose all electrical charge and will fail to even activate the sensor, and secondly, if by some chance the sensor could be artificially activated, the RF reader that is searching for a print will find no living tissue and fail, leaving the device locked.
It's important to note that in order to utilize Touch ID you must also set up a passcode, which acts as a back-up method to unlock your device. If someone really wanted to break into your device, chances are they'd be able to obtain your passcode more easily than actually slicing off a finger.
However, if by some miracle the person snatching your finger had a compatible human host waiting for your finger to be transplanted onto their body -- and if they managed to complete the procedure before the tissue died -- you might have cause for concern. Oh wait, that's utterly insane, so no, you have nothing to worry about.
'Who do they think they are?': Donald Trump blasts Apple for not unlocking San Bernardino shooter's phone - Yahoo Finance
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 21:04
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About Touch ID security on iPhone and iPad - Apple Support
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 20:34
Much of our digital lives is stored on our iPhone and iPad, and everyone should use a passcode to help protect this important information and their privacy. Unfortunately, many smartphone users don't use a passcode. Touch ID is a seamless way to use your fingerprint as a passcode. Your fingerprint is one of the best passcodes in the world. It's always with you, and no two are exactly alike. With just a touch of your device's Home button, the Touch ID sensor quickly reads your fingerprint and automatically unlocks your phone. You can even use it to authorize purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store, and Apple Pay.
Advanced technologiesThe technology within Touch ID is some of the most advanced hardware and software we've put in any device. The button is made from sapphire crystal'--one of the clearest, hardest materials available. This protects the sensor and acts as a lens to precisely focus it on your finger.
The steel ring surrounding the button detects your finger and tells Touch ID to start reading your fingerprint. The sensor uses advanced capacitive touch to take a high-resolution image from small sections of your fingerprint from the subepidermal layers of your skin. Touch ID then intelligently analyzes this information with a remarkable degree of detail and precision. It categorizes your fingerprint as one of three basic types'--arch, loop, or whorl. It also maps out individual details in the ridges that are smaller than the human eye can see and even inspects minor variations in ridge direction caused by pores and edge structures.
Touch ID can even read multiple fingerprints, and it can read fingerprints in 360-degrees of orientation. It then creates a mathematical representation of your fingerprint and compares this to your enrolled fingerprint data to identify a match and unlock your device. Touch ID will incrementally add new sections of your fingerprint to your enrolled fingerprint data to improve matching accuracy over time. Touch ID uses all of this to provide an accurate match and a very high level of security.
Security safeguardsEvery fingerprint is unique, so it is rare that even a small section of two separate fingerprints are alike enough to register as a match for Touch ID. The probability of this happening is 1 in 50,000 for one enrolled finger. This is much better than the 1 in 10,000 odds of guessing a typical 4-digit passcode. Although some passcodes, like "1234", may be more easily guessed, there is no such thing as an easily guessable fingerprint pattern. Instead, the 1 in 50,000 probability means it requires trying up to 50,000 different fingerprints until potentially finding a random match. But Touch ID only allows five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts before you must enter your passcode, and you can't proceed until doing so.
To configure Touch ID, you must first set up a passcode. Touch ID is designed to minimize the input of your passcode; but your passcode will be needed for additional security validation:
After restarting your deviceWhen more than 48 hours have elapsed from the last time you unlocked your deviceTo enter the Touch ID & Passcode settingSince security is only as secure as its weakest point, you can choose to increase the security of a 4 or 6-digit passcode by using a complex alphanumeric passcode. You can do this when creating a passcode by tapping 'Passcode Options' and selecting Custom Alphanumeric Code.
You can also use Touch ID instead of entering your Apple ID password to purchase content from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store. You will be asked to scan your fingerprint with each purchase. If Touch ID doesn't recognize your finger, you'll be asked to try again. After five failed attempts, you'll be given the option of entering your Apple ID password. In addition, you will need to enter your Apple ID password after:
Restarting your deviceEnrolling or deleting fingersIf your device is lost or stolen, you can immediately disable Touch ID from being used to unlock your device with Find My iPhone Lost Mode. iOS 7 (or later) offers additional protection against theft with Activation Lock, which requires an Apple ID and password to turn off Find My iPhone, erase data, or reactivate your device.
Secure EnclaveTouch ID doesn't store any images of your fingerprint. It stores only a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. It isn't possible for someone to reverse engineer your actual fingerprint image from this mathematical representation. The chip in your device also includes an advanced security architecture called the Secure Enclave which was developed to protect passcode and fingerprint data. Fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave. Fingerprint data is used only by the Secure Enclave to verify that your fingerprint matches the enrolled fingerprint data. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of the chip and the rest of iOS. Therefore, iOS and other apps never access your fingerprint data, it's never stored on Apple servers, and it's never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. Only Touch ID uses it, and it can't be used to match against other fingerprint databases.
Learn MoreTo learn more about iOS security, read the Security Configuration Guides.
Learn more about privacy and Location Services.
Apple's Touch ID still vulnerable to hack, security researcher finds - CNET
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 20:29
The Touch ID readers on the iPhone 6 and its larger Plus sibling are susceptible to a 12-year-old hack.Josh Miller/CNET
There's a lot that's new in Apple's just-released iPhone 6, but one feature hasn't changed: Faked fingerprints can still fool the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Security on the Touch ID fingerprint reader has been tightened, but only marginally, said Marc Rogers, chief security researcher at Lookout Mobile Security.
"I don't think people need to worry just yet, but there are distinct flaws that could lead to problems down the line," he told CNET. Rogers wrote in a blog post that he was able to use the same low-budget technique to fake fingerprints and unlock the iPhone 6 as he did when he became one of the first researchers in 2013 to hack Touch ID on the iPhone 5S.
"Sadly there has been little in the way of measurable improvement in the sensor between these two devices," he wrote. "Fake fingerprints created using my previous technique were able to readily fool both devices."
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
When Apple first introduced the Touch ID fingerprint reader as an added security measure in the iPhone 5S, security researchers quickly demonstrated that a decade-old technique could be used to spoof a fingerprint and unlock the phone. In 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering professor Tsunetomo Mastumoto demonstrated (PDF) how fingers coated in a gummy substance like Elmer's glue could be used to lift and replicate fingerprints.
A coming wrinkle to the situation is that Touch ID is about to become the security touchstone for Apple Pay, a system that uses the iPhone 6's new near-field communication chip and credit card management software with Touch ID to allow people to use their iPhones in place credit cards. Touch ID will be required to unlock Apple Pay, which is expected to open to the public sometime in October.
Rogers said, "Turning the phone into a giant credit card, who knows what criminals will do to make it work?"
Although he was careful to reiterate that he's still a fan of Touch ID because hacking it "requires skill, patience, and a really good copy of someone's fingerprint," he was disappointed that Apple didn't make it better.
"AuthenTek [the firm Apple bought for its fingerprint reading technology] had scanners that were capable of looking deeper into the finger, so that they could look past a fake fingerprint. I would've liked to see that implemented," Rogers said. He added that although Apple wants as simple a payment system as possible, to make it as attractive to consumers as possible, since the system involves credit cards it would be better protected by Touch ID and a second authentication factor -- such as a PIN, password, or pattern.
Even if adoption of Apple Pay is slow, as some people are expecting, history shows that hackers often go where the money is, and that could make the Touch ID a hot-button item indeed.
Apple Fights Order to Unlock San Bernardino Gunman's iPhone - NYTimes.com
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 01:50
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Apple said on Wednesday that it would oppose and challenge a federal court order to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.
On Tuesday, in a significant victory for the government, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook's co-workers at a holiday gathering.
Judge Pym ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.
But hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who say that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.
Interactive Feature | What Investigators Know About the San Bernardino Shooting Officials have discovered a potential link between the attackers and Islamic extremism.
In his statement, Mr. Cook called the court order an ''unprecedented step'' by the federal government. ''We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,'' he wrote.
Asked about Apple's resistance, the Justice Department pointed to a statement by Eileen M. Decker, the United States attorney for the Central District of California: ''We have made a solemn commitment to the victims and their families that we will leave no stone unturned as we gather as much information and evidence as possible. These victims and families deserve nothing less.''
The F.B.I. said that its experts had been unable to access data on Mr. Farook's iPhone, and that only Apple could bypass its security features. F.B.I. experts have said they risk losing the data permanently after 10 failed attempts to enter the password because of the phone's security features.
The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook's former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which consented to the search.
Because Apple declined to voluntarily provide, in essence, the ''keys'' to its encryption technology, federal prosecutors said they saw little choice but to get a judge to compel Apple's assistance.
Mr. Cook said the order would amount to creating a ''back door'' to bypass Apple's strong encryption standards '-- ''something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.''
In 2014, Apple and Google '-- whose operating systems are used in 96 percent of smartphones worldwide '-- announced that they had re-engineered their software with ''full disk'' encryption, and could no longer unlock their own products as a result.
That set up a confrontation with police and prosecutors, who want the companies to build, in essence, a master key that can be used to get around the encryption. The technology companies say that creating such a key would have disastrous consequences for privacy.
''The F.B.I. may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a back door,'' Mr. Cook wrote. ''And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.''
An Apple spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the statement, but the company's most likely next step is to file an appeal.
The legal issues are complicated. They involve statutory interpretation, rather than constitutional rights, and they could end up before the Supreme Court.
As Apple noted, the F.B.I., instead of asking Congress to pass legislation resolving the encryption fight, has proposed what appears to be a novel reading of the All Writs Act of 1789.
The law lets judges ''issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.''
The government says the law gives broad latitude to judges to require ''third parties'' to execute court orders. It has cited, among other cases, a 1977 ruling requiring phone companies to help set up a pen register, a device that records all numbers called from a particular phone line.
Apple, in turn, argues that the scope of the act has strict limits. In 2005, a federal magistrate judge rejected the argument that the law could be used to compel a telecommunications provider to allow real-time tracking of a cellphone without a search warrant.
Marc J. Zwillinger, a lawyer for Apple, wrote in a letter for a related case in October that the All Writs Act could not be interpreted to ''force a company to take possession of a device outside of its possession or control and perform services on that device, particularly where the company does not perform such services as part of its business and there may be alternative means of obtaining the requested information available to the government.''
The government says it does not have those alternative means.
Mr. Cook's statement called the government's demands ''chilling.''
He added: ''If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone's device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone's microphone or camera without your knowledge.''
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends digital rights, said it was siding with Apple.
''The government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone,'' it said Tuesday evening. ''And once that master key is created, we're certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.''
The San Bernardino case is the most prominent such case, but it is not the first.
Last October, James Orenstein, a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, expressed doubts about whether he could require Apple to disable its latest iPhone security features, citing the failure of Congress to resolve the issue despite the urging of the Justice Department.
The judge said such requests should fall under a different law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which covers telecommunications and broadband companies.
Congress has been debating whether to amend that act to include technology companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, and Judge Orenstein said he would consider ordering Apple to unlock the phone when and if Congress makes the change. That case is still pending.
Although Apple is portraying its opposition to Judge Pym's order as a principled defense of privacy, one of its motivations is the preservation of its reputation for robust encryption, at a time of rising concerns about identity theft, cybercrime and electronic surveillance by intelligence agencies and overzealous law enforcement agencies.
Apple also says that a master key would amount to a vulnerability that hackers could exploit.
China is watching the dispute closely. Analysts say that the Chinese government does take cues from the United States when it comes to encryption regulations, and that it would most likely demand that multinational companies provide accommodations similar to those in the United States.
Last year, Beijing backed off several proposals that would have mandated that foreign firms provide encryption keys for devices sold in China after heavy pressure from foreign trade groups. Nonetheless, a Chinese antiterrorism law passed in December required foreign firms to hand over technical information and to aid with decryption when the police demand it in terrorism-related cases.
While it is still not clear how the law might be carried out, it is possible a push from American law enforcement agencies to unlock iPhones would embolden Beijing to demand the same. China would also most likely push to acquire any technology that would allow it to unlock iPhones. Just after Apple introduced tougher encryption standards in 2014, Apple users in China were targeted by an attack that sought to obtain login information from iCloud users.
Katie Benner reported from San Francisco, and Eric Lichtblau from Washington. Sewell Chan contributed reporting from London, and Paul Mozur from Hong Kong.
Elections 2016
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Social Security Death Master File
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 16:57
Limited Access DMF Overview and UsagePension & Benefit plans - Many plans (Retirement, Unemployment, Pension, Welfare, etc.) have a fiduciary obligation to ensure that the plans are properly managed. Limited Access DMF can assists plan managers in the following problem areas:
Detection of Erroneous Payments - Limited Access DMF can be used to identify cases where payments to deceased benefit recipients have been illegally cashed by heirs or friends of the deceased recipient. In cases of benefit programs, plan managers can detects recipients who fraudulently file claims using the identity of a deceased person. Some of these cases involve fraud and many years of payments to deceased recipients.
Reduction of Retirement Contributions ½ Limited Access DMF can be use to identify vested employees who have terminated their employment and subsequently died. In each case where this occurs, the plan administrator can reduce plan contributions by thousands of dollars.
Financial Institutions - Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions are liable for money withdrawn from accounts of deceased persons. For years these financial institutions have utilized strict controls to maintain security over funds deposited and to evaluate customer credit. However, little or nothing is being done to identify when a customer has died and if the SSNs in their files are accurate.
Attempts are made to minimize this liability by such means as reviewing local obituaries, depending on family members for notification, and signature cards, but these procedures are cumbersome, costly, and not always effective. The absence of an inexpensive and effective method to detect improper SSNs and when customers have died has resulted in unnecessary legal and administrative expenses, as well as financial losses. The following are some specific examples of how Limited Access DMF can be used by financial institutions.
Social Security and Pension Checks - John Doe has a checking account at a bank. John's pension check is directly deposited to this account. John dies and his wife Jane does not inform either the bank or the Pension Plan of his death, but someone continues to withdraw funds from the account. Several years later the Pension Plan discovers that John is dead and requests full recovery from the bank. The bank pays the claim, and expends attorney time and administrative expense to recover the loss from Jane.
Credit Cards - John applies for credit with an improper SSN or in the name of a deceased person. Normal credit bureau verification procedures do not reveal any credit history problem, or such history has been purged because the account is inactive. John is granted the loan or credit card and is never heard from again.
Trust Accounts - A bank's trust department administers trust accounts for corporate pension plans and individual estates. It would be beneficial to both the bank and the originator of the trust account to know when someone within the trust has died.
Loans - Jane has a loan from a bank and dies. Assets in her estate are liquidated before her death is discovered, and the bank is forced to write off the loan.
Wills - John dies and indicates in his will that he is leaving his estate to charity, and not to his wife. John's wife improperly withdraws all the money from his accounts before the bank is notified of his death. The charity files a law suit against the bank to affect recovery.
Research Projects ½ Limited Access DMF has been used to extract, sort, match and summarize death information using various criteria for medical, FDA and other Government regulations, child support, estate settlements, legal requirements, genealogy, skip tracing, and other research purposes.
Mailing Lists - Most mailers want to prevent mailings in the name of a deceased person to the family of that person. This is negative advertising. In addition, postage costs are wasted when mail is sent to a deceased person and returned by the post office. Limited Access DMF can be used to purge deceased persons from the mailing lists.
Other Uses - Limited Access DMF can be used as a tool by federal and state regulatory agencies and auditors to purge voter registration rolls; audit banks and other financial institutions; and verify that required estate tax returns have been filed. The Limited Access DMF has also been instrumental in genealogy studies
Certification Program for Access to the Death Master File [Printable]
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 15:44
Comments are due on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time March 18, 2014. The public meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern time at the place noted under ADDRESSES, and comments made orally during the public comment portion of the public meeting will be recorded and transcribed.
Written comments must be submitted to John Hounsell by email at jhounsell@ntis.gov, or in paper form at NTIS, 5301 Shawnee Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. The public meeting will take place at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Madison Building West, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. The public meeting will also be webcast.
John Hounsell at jhounsell@ntis.gov or 703-605-6184.
This Request for Information (RFI) seeks comments from the public regarding the establishment by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) of the new certification program for persons who seek access to the Social Security Administration's Public Death Master File (DMF) at any time within the three-calendar-year period following an individual's death, as required by Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (Pub. L. 113-67) (Act). The Act prohibits disclosure of DMF information during the three-calendar-year period following death unless the person requesting the information has been certified under a program established by the Secretary of Commerce. The Act directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a certification program for such access to the DMF. Section 203, ''Restriction on Access to the Death Master File,'' requires a fee-based certification program for allowable uses of DMF data for any deceased individual within three calendar years of the individual's death. Authority to carry out Section 203 has been delegated by the Secretary of Commerce to the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).
NTIS will establish the certification program in a manner consistent with the Act and its mission, to promote American innovation and economic growth by collecting and disseminating scientific, technical and engineering information to the public and industry, by providing information management solutions to other Federal agencies, and by doing all without appropriated funding. A summary of the provisions of Section 203 is provided below.
Section 203(a) of the Act directs that the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) ''shall not disclose to any person information contained on the Death Master File with respect to any deceased individual at any time during the 3-calendar-year period beginning on the date of the individual's death, unless such person is certified under the program established under subsection (b)'' of Section 203.
Section 203(b)(1) of the Act directs the Secretary to ''establish a program (A) to certify persons who are eligible to access the information described in subsection (a) contained on the Death Master File, and (B) to perform periodic and unscheduled audits of certified persons to determine the compliance by such certified persons with the requirements of the program.''
Under Section 203(b)(2) of the Act, a person ''shall not be certified under the program established under paragraph (1) unless such person certifies that access to the information described in subsection (a) is appropriate because such person (A) has (i) a legitimate fraud prevention interest, or (ii) a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a law, governmental rule, regulation, or fiduciary duty, and (B) has systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard such information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information, pursuant to requirements similar to the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC), and (C) agrees to satisfy the requirements of such section 6103(p)(4) as if such section applied to such person.''
Section 203(b)(3)(A) of the Act directs the Secretary to ''establish under section 9701 of title 31, United States Code, a program for the charge of fees sufficient to cover (but not to exceed) all costs associated with evaluating applications for certification and auditing, inspecting, and monitoring certified persons under the program. Any fees so collected shall be deposited and credited as offsetting collections to the accounts from which such costs are paid.'' Section 203(b)(3)(B) of the Act requires the Secretary to report annually to the Congress ''on the total fees collected during the preceding year and the cost of administering the certification program under this subsection for such year.''
Section 203(c)(1) of the Act provides that any person ''certified under the program established under subsection (b), who receives information described in subsection (a), and who during the period of time described in subsection (a)(A) discloses such information to any person other than a person who meets the requirements of subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of subsection (b)(2), (B) discloses such information to any person who uses the information for any purpose not listed under subsection (b)(2)(A) or who further discloses the information to a person who does not meet such requirements, or (C) uses any such information for any purpose not listed under subsection (b)(2)(A), and any person to whom such information is disclosed who further discloses or uses such information as described in the preceding subparagraphs, shall pay a penalty of $1,000 for each such disclosure or use. Under Section 203(c)(2), the total penalty imposed on any person for any calendar year ''shall not exceed $250,000,'' unless the Secretary determines the violations to have been ''willful or intentional.''
Section 203(d) of the Act defines the term ''Death Master File'' to mean ''information on the name, social security account number, date of birth, and date of death of deceased individuals maintained by the Commissioner of Social Security, other than information that was provided to such Commissioner under section 205(r) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(r)).''
Under Section 203(e)(1) of the Act, no Federal agency ''shall be compelled to disclose,'' to any person ''not certified,'' information contained on the Death Master File with respect to any deceased individual at any time during the 3-calendar-year period beginning on the date of the individual's death. Section 203(e)(2) of the Act provides that Section 203 shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3) of section 552 of title 5, United States Code (the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)).
Under Section 203(f) of the Act, Section 203 takes effect 90 days after the date of the enactment, while Section 203(e) (the FOIA provision) takes effect upon enactment.
During Congressional debate on the Joint Resolution, H. J. Res. 59, which, upon being passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, became the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, several Members of Congress described their understanding of the purpose and meaning of Section 203. Members offering statements included Representatives Johnson, [1] Bachus [2] and Neal, [3] and Senators Nelson, [4] Murray, [5] Casey [6] and Hatch. [7]
The Social Security Administration (SSA) compiles the DMF from certain deaths reported to the agency. SSA receives death reports from many sources, including family members, funeral homes, hospitals, States, Federal agencies, postal authorities and financial institutions. The DMF is not a complete file of all deaths, and does not include State death records. (Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act prohibits SSA from disclosing this information to the public on the DMF.) In addition, SSA cannot guarantee the accuracy of the DMF. The absence of a particular person on this file is not proof that the individual is alive. Further, in rare instances it is possible for the record of a person who is not deceased to be included erroneously in the DMF.
SSA makes the DMF available to the public through an agreement with NTIS. NTIS offers the DMF to the public through an online search application, as well as through raw data file download products. DMF subscribers have the option of subscribing to an online search application or maintaining a raw data version of the file at their location. The online service is updated on a weekly basis, and raw data file weekly and monthly updates are offered electronically via https, as well as via secure FTP.
The Death Master File is an important tool which has been used for many purposes. It is used by pension funds, insurance organizations, Federal, State and Local government entities and others responsible for verifying deceased person(s) in support of fulfillment of benefits to their beneficiaries. By methodically running financial, credit, payment and other applications against the Death Master File, the financial community, insurance companies, security firms and State and Local governments are better able to identify and prevent identity fraud, and identify customers who are deceased. Other current users include clinicians and medical researchers tracking former patients and study subjects, law enforcement and genealogists.
While the DMF unquestionably plays an important role in preventing identity fraud, concern about misuse of publicly available DMF information, as noted in the statements of several Members of Congress cited above, led to the inclusion of Section 203 in the Act, signed into law by President Obama. NTIS seeks comments from the public on how best to implement the certification program mandated under Section 203.
The following questions cover the major areas for which NTIS seeks comment. The questions are not intended to limit topics that may be addressed through this Request for Information, and commenters may address any topic they believe has implications for the establishment of a certification program for access to the DMF, regardless of whether this document mentions it. NTIS will consider all timely comments received.
Comments containing references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not widely published should include copies of the referenced materials. No confidential or proprietary comments, information or materials are to be submitted, and all submitted comments will be made available publically at http://dmf.ntis.gov/.
In the questions that follow, references to ''you'' are intended to include individual persons as well as organizations unless otherwise indicated, and submitted comments should distinguish between individuals and organizations as necessary or desirable for context.
Certification ProgramNTIS solicits information on implementation of the certification program mandated under Section 203. In particular, NTIS seeks to understand how persons would characterize the basis for their use of DMF information as it relates to the certification criteria of Section 203. In addition, NTIS seeks to understand how persons who seek certification would comply with the requirements set forth under Section 203 to safeguard DMF information. NTIS also seeks information regarding how to best ensure the safeguarding of released DMF information.
1. Do you think that you have a legitimate fraud prevention interest in accessing DMF information, as described in the Act? If so, explain in detail the basis of that interest.
2. If you have a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a law, explain in detail the basis of that legitimate business purpose and cite the relevant law.
3. If you have a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a governmental rule, explain in detail the basis of that legitimate business purpose and cite the relevant governmental rule.
4. If you have a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a regulation, explain in detail the basis of that legitimate business purpose and cite the relevant regulation.
5. If you have a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a fiduciary duty, explain in detail the basis of that legitimate business purpose and cite the relevant fiduciary duty.
6. Do you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information? If so, explain in detail.
7. If you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, or to safeguard sensitive information other than DMF information, explain whether and how your systems, facilities, and procedures are audited, inspected or monitored.
8. If you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, or to safeguard sensitive information other than DMF information, and if your systems, facilities, and procedures are audited, inspected or monitored, explain whether that is voluntary, or whether it is required by law, governmental rule, regulation, fiduciary duty, or other reason and cite such.
9. If you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, or to safeguard sensitive information other than DMF information, and if your systems, facilities, and procedures are audited, inspected or monitored, explain whether any of these reviews would reveal (1) how such information was used by you, (2) whether such information had been disclosed to a third person, and (3) how such information, if disclosed to a third person, was used by that person, or was further disclosed by that person to a fourth person.
10. If you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information, explain in detail the extent to which these satisfy the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the IRC, or satisfy requirements ''similar'' to the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the IRC.
11. If you do not currently have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, explain how you would anticipate putting such systems, facilities, and procedures in place in order to become certified to access DMF information.
12. Under the Act, you are required to certify that you have systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard DMF information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information, pursuant to requirements ''similar'' to the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the IRC. Please explain in detail how your systems, etc., and experience might be ''similar'' but not identical to the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the IRC, and how any differences from the requirements of section 6103(p)(4) of the IRC would nevertheless permit achieving the objective of safeguarding DMF information.
13. What systems, facilities, and procedures do you believe are necessary to safeguard DMF information provided under the Act, including audit, inspection and monitoring procedures?
14. Identify laws or regulations that require the safeguarding of released DMF information, and summarize the procedures required by such laws or regulations.
Fees and PenaltiesNTIS solicits information on the fees and penalties mandated under Section 203. In particular, because Section 203 mandates the charge of fees to cover, but not to exceed, all costs associated with evaluating applications for certification and auditing, inspecting, and monitoring certified persons under the program, NTIS seeks to understand whether persons desiring to access DMF information during the initial three-calendar-year period, including persons currently accessing DMF information, would participate in a fee-based certification program in order to obtain or maintain access to the DMF. NTIS also seeks to understand how persons certified under the certification program would avoid disclosing such information to any person not authorized to obtain such information because they are not certified or, if certified, would use such information for a purpose not listed under Section 203(b)(2)(A).
15. Would the imposition of a single, presumably larger, fee at the time of certification be preferable to the charge of multiple, presumably smaller, fees, such as annual fees?
16. In order to become certified to have access to DMF information, how would you prevent disclosure of such information to any person other than a person who was also certified, or who, if not certified, would meet the requirements of certification?
Death Master File InformationNTIS solicits comments on the term ''Death Master File,'' as that term is defined in Section 203: ''information on the name, social security account number, date of birth, and date of death of deceased individuals maintained by the Commissioner of Social Security, other than information that was provided to such Commissioner under section 205(r) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(r)).'' In particular, NTIS seeks to understand whether persons currently accessing the DMF, or who might wish to access the DMF in the future, during the initial three-calendar-year period, need access to all the types of information included within the definition of that term in order to make use of DMF information. If access to all the types of information included within the definition of the term ''Death Master File'' is not needed for persons to make use of DMF information, NTIS seeks to understand which type(s) of information is not needed.
17. If you currently access DMF information, does your use of that information include or require the name, social security account number, date of birth, and date of death of deceased individuals? If not, explain which type(s) of DMF information you do not use.
18. Would you find it useful to access DMF information that included information for a deceased individual during the 3-calendar-year period beginning on the date of the individual's death, but did not include one or more of the name, social security account number, date of birth, and date of death of the deceased individual? If so, explain which type(s) of DMF information could be excluded.
NTIS will hold a public meeting at which members of the public may provide comments on the establishment of the certification program for access to the DMF in person on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern time at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Madison Building West, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22341. As with written comments, comments made orally at the public meeting should not include confidential or proprietary information, and all comments from attendees will be will be recorded and transcribed, and will made available publically along with written comments at http://dmf.ntis.gov/.
Seating at the public meeting will be limited, and attendance will be ''first-come, first-served,'' on a space-available basis. The public meeting will also be webcast for those who are unable to participate in person. Details about the public meeting, including how to register, will be posted at the NTIS DMF Web page, http://dmf.ntis.gov/. The NTIS DMF Web page also has information about how to subscribe to the NTIS email distribution list to receive announcements from NTIS about the progress of the establishment of the certification program. To subscribe to this free service, you may provide an email address to jhounsell@ntis.gov.
Dated: February 25, 2014.
Bruce Borzino,
Director.
[FR Doc. 2014-04584 Filed 2-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-04-P
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Donald Trump threatens third-party run - NY Daily News
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 15:29
Donald Trump threatened Monday to renege on his pledge to not run as independent, saying that the Republican establishment was not holding up its end of a deal.
In December Trump committed to support whoever becomes the Republican nominee for president, saying at the time he was ''totally committed to the Republican Party.''
But Saturday's Republican debate '-- in which Trump was repeatedly booed by the conservative crowd '-- left the blowhard billionaire with doubts about the deal with the Republican National Committee.
''I signed a pledge and as far as I'm concerned they're in default of their pledge," Trump said in Charleston, S.C.
The RNC had packed the room full of conservatives supportive of the Republican establishment who opposed Trump, he said.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DONALD TRUMP'S MANY BUSINESS FAILURES
"I know many of those people. Lobbyists and special interests. Take a look! That's a wealthy room,'' he said, adding, ''The RNC does a terrible job.''
Trump had previously said his commitment to the GOP was contingent on his being treated ''fairly.''
A third-party run by Trump presents a potentially devastating threat to Republican efforts to reclaim the White House.
The threat by the GOP frontrunner to throw another wrench in the Republican machine came hours before his rival, Jeb Bush, was scheduled to hold a rally in Charleston with his brother, George W. Bush.
New York Daily News front pages on the presidential electionView gallery On Twitter Trump continued talking trash about the 43rd President.
''Now that George Bush is campaigning for Jeb(!), is he fair game for questions about World Trade Center, Iraq War and (economic) collapse? Careful!'' Trump tweeted.
At a press conference shortly after the rally, Trump assailed his other rival, Ted Cruz.
Trump slammed the junior senator from Texas as ''a totally unstable individual'' and ''the single biggest liar I've ever come across.''
Outraged at Cruz's statements he would appoint a liberal judge to the Supreme Court and was not a supporter of the 2ndAmendment, Trump threatened legal action challenging his eligibility for president if he didn't apologize.
''It is hard to believe a person who proclaims to be a Christian could so dishonest and lie so much,'' Trump said.
sbrown@nydailynews.com
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With Jeb flashing his gun on Twitter, the GOP race enters Freudian territory. | New Republic
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 14:50
The former secretary-general of the United Nations, whose death at 93 was confirmed today, is perhaps best known for overseeing the U.N.'s response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which is remembered for being woefully inadequate. As told in Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, Boutros-Ghali and his subordinates failed to heed the so-called ''genocide fax'' warning of an imminent campaign to exterminate Tutsis sent by Major General Romeo Dallaire, the head of U.N. peacekeeping forces in Rwanda:
Dallaire labeled his fax ''most immediate,'' and signed off in French: ''Peux ce que veux. Allons'y'' (''Where there's a will, there's a way. Let's go''). The response from New York was: Let's not.
Boutros-Ghali's tenure at the U.N. was also marred by the Bosnian War, another calamity that appeared to underscore the impotence of U.N. peacekeepers in the face of mass slaughter. Boutros-Ghali would go on to bitterly blame the Clinton administration for undercutting the U.N.'s efforts.
But for a number of reasons'--his patrician charm, his fluency in French and English, and, most of all, his distinctive name'--Boutros-Ghali managed to infiltrate pop culture in a way that Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon never did. His name, along with Yo-Yo Ma's, became a euphemism on Seinfeld, while he was one of the few guests to distinguish himself on Sacha Baron Cohen's Da Ali G Show. RIP, Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
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JebBush.com redirects to Trump, but for a real kick, click on TedCruzForAmerica.com - The Washington Post
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 01:44
Jeb Bush isn't the only one with a domain name problem. Here's a look at some of the unofficial websites using presidential candidates' names. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
The Internet Archive's ''Wayback Machine'' tells us that as early as Dec. 8, visitors to JebBush.com were being redirected to the campaign website for fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But most netizens seem to be just catching wind of the prank now and are seizing the opportunity to mock an already-struggling campaign.
The official Bush campaign website is Jeb2016.com, so the current redirect is not a result of hacking, but rather of a prescient purchase that may have been made before either Bush or Trump declared their candidacies.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Wall Street Journal that they're not responsible for JebBush.com, though no doubt they're quietly thanking whoever is. (The page's current owner has been kept private by domain registrar Fabulous.com.)
[The long-simmering Bush-Trump feud boils over onstage]
After Bush asked for applause from an audience in New Hampshire and passionately hugged someone who said he might vote for him, this website snafu is the last thing he needs. In the arena of repurposed domain names, though, the former Florida governor is far from alone.
A search for variations on ''[Insert Candidate] for President,'' ''Elect [Candidate]'' and ''[Candidate] 2016'" website names yields a virtual cornucopia of biting and sardonic redirects.
Starting on the Democratic side, hillaryclinton2016.com brings us to a website laid out with a striking resemblance to The Huffington Post. In fact, some of the links lead to actual Huffington Post articles, but the page's banner headline '-- ''Hillary's Gender Fabrications'' in bold caps '-- takes us to the text of a 2014 Washington Times column, all while masquerading as a compendium of Clinton-related knowledge.
According to CNNMoney, most iterations of Clinton domains belong to a 66-year-old retired factory worker named Janet LaCelle, who purchased ElectHillary.com, ReelectHillary.com and so on more than a decade ago for just $15 each.
With the Clinton campaign now in full swing, LaCelle is trying to sell them for several thousand dollars per page. Back in the day, the hardest task had been remembering to renew them each year, and LaCelle still laments when her forgetfulness cost her PresidentHillaryClinton.com.
''I lost a good one,'' she told CNNMoney.
Clinton's Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also has a few reappropriated domains, but they are largely supportive, albeit nonsensical.
BernieforPresident.com, for instance, presents the choice of two Bernies: Sanders, or Bernie Lomax, the dead chief executive at the center of the dark comedy film ''Weekend at Bernie's.''
''Which Bernie?'' asks a poll on the website. A total of 290 votes have thus far been cast, 265 (more than 91 percent) for Sanders, and just 25 for Lomax.
''PS '' I'm reaching out to Sander's [sic] team and 20th Century Fox to schedule the first debate!'' the website says. ''Contact me to get your favorite Bernie in the race!''
Meanwhile, BernieSandersforPresident.com has a more clear-cut mandate. The page is filled with a large image of Sanders giving a speech, on which a shining endorsement appears in bright green font: ''Bernie Sanders for President 2016 / Run Bernie Run / A rare politation [sic] who refuses PAC money and he is a voice of reason in a divided country the USA.''
Other domain owners are enigmatic. ElectBernie.com is a site dedicated to ''informing the public about safety,'' with posts about precautions to take while driving.
The obvious query is addressed on the ''About Us'' page. ''Why is your site called ElectBernie.com?'' the site's owners ask themselves.
Their response: ''That's a great question and one day we will have an answer.''
What is that supposed to mean? The first blog post (''Distracted Driving'') is dated July 14, 2014, so it is possible that whoever owns the domain predicted Sanders's rise more than a year ago and was simply waiting for the public to follow suit. But that doesn't explain why the website appears to not have been updated since then.
Among Republican candidates, Bush fares poorly in the domain wars. Aside from JebBush.com, there is also JebBushforPresident.com and JebBushforPresident.net, neither of which have positive things to say about the presidential hopeful.
JebBushforPresident.com is a website run by two men named C.J. and Charlie, a bearded gay couple who have been ''madly in love'' since 1996.
''So many times we find ourselves in situations where we can't relate to each other, don't understand each other, or feel like there's nobody who wants to listen to our point of view,'' their homepage reads. ''Let's change that.''
While most of their blog posts discuss LGBTQ identity and inclusiveness more broadly, C.J. and Charlie devoted one page to their namesake, referencing a 1994 Miami Herald editorial in which Bush likened legal protections for LGBTQ people to the elevation of ''sodomy.''
''Since then, he's moderated his stance a bit,'' C.J. notes, ''but this was the impetus for our blog.''
This assessment is rather mild compared with that of JebBushforPresident.net, which features the banner ''Jeb Bush for President'' with a large ''NOT!'' stamped over it.
''This website was prepared by a loyal Florida Republican in the hope of saving the Republican party from supporting Jeb Bush for President,'' the page reads.
As a political outsider, Trump has built his campaign on his business acumen. At least in this case, the sales pitch rings true: DonaldTrump.com and Trump2016.com both redirect to his official campaign site, DonaldJTrump.com.
That didn't stop loser.com from redirecting to Trump's Wikipedia page for the entire month of January and some of February. The honor, however, has since been passed on to Kanye West.
Now, while all fake presidential campaign sites have their own character, none have been as versatile as TedCruzForAmerica.com.
In the summer of 2015, the domain redirected to the site for President Obama's Affordable Care Act, against which Cruz once led a government shutdown.
[For Ted Cruz, the 2013 shutdown was a defining moment]
This January, it started redirecting to the Human Rights Campaign, which at one point featured on its front page an article called ''Ted Cruz Continues His Attack on Transgender School Children.''
The most recent redirect really takes the cake.
Typing in TedCruzforAmerica.com reveals an iridescent portrait of a young family whose welcoming smiles adorn a page titled ''Immigrate to Canada.''
Somehow, our curiosity about Cruz has led us to the government of Canada's immigration page, and so powerful is this redirect that a visitor may browse the entire government of Canada website while the URL remains TedCruzforAmerica.com.
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, but he renounced his citizenship in 2014. Perhaps the U.S. senator from Texas is now having second thoughts and pondering such things as his immigration eligibility and how to prepare for life in the True North strong and free.
''Canadians are proud of their citizenship,'' one page reads. ''We value the rights and freedoms and accept the responsibilities that this status gives us.''
And with that, the site bearing Cruz's name tells him that it's not too late for a second chance with the first country he called home.
More from Morning Mix
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Yanan Wang is a reporter on the Morning Mix team.
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F-Russia
'Smoking kills more people than Obama' poster appears in Moscow
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:07
The Obama smoking advert that appeared on Moscow bus shelters. Photograph: Dmitry Gudkov/FacebookA Moscow advert declaring that ''smoking kills more people than Obama'' has gone viral, becoming the latest in a string of actions condemning the US president as a mass killer.
Dmitry Gudkov, the sole liberal opposition MP in Russia's parliament, on Tuesday posted a photograph of the large poster, which was in a metal-and-glass frame at a bus shelter on Moscow's third ring road.
Photograph: Dmitry Gudkov/Facebook''Smoking kills more people than Obama, although he kills lots and lots of people,'' the poster read, showing an illustration of the president smoking the last dregs of a cigarette. ''Don't smoke, don't be like Obama.''
Gudkov wrote that it was ''disgusting and embarrassing that this is appearing on the streets of the Russian capital.'' His Facebook post had received more than 1,300 likes, hundreds of positive and negative comments and extensive Russian media coverage.
''Soon they'll be scaring kids with Obama rather than Baba Yaga,'' the witch from Russian folk tales, Gudkov later told the Guardian.
The advert has no attribution, no author has come forward to claim it and Moscow city hall has not commented.
Some have taken the anti-Obama ad as a reference to a ''Stop Obama!'' video posted last week that showed dozens of Russian students falling to the floor as if dead, revealing a lone girl with a sign claiming that the ''president of the United States kills 875 people every week''.
The call was posted the day after a video appeal to the United Nations in which students at universities around Russia declared that Obama should be ''punished for thousands of lost lives''.
The videos, which have each received more than 500,000 views, were uploaded on brand new YouTube accounts, but one of the speakers in the UN appeal has been identified as the editor of a publication put out by the ruling United Russia party's youth wing.
In January, a banner replacing the word ''hope'' in Barack Obama's iconic 2008 election poster with ''killer'' was hung from a residential building across from the US embassy in Moscow. In early, February a video was broadcast on the sides of buildings in Moscow calling for Obama to be judged by a Hague war crimes tribunal.
In December, Cossacks in the Krasnodar region burnt crude effigies of Obama and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as they chanted ''Russia!'' and ''Putin!''
Obama said in 2013 that he had not smoked for six years.
Ukrainian PM calls for referendum on constitutional amendments - read on - uatoday.tv
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:46
13:17 Jan. 25, 2016
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister. (UNIAN Photo)
President Poroshenko said earlier blocking constitution changes can lead to full-scale conflict with Russia
UNIAN: Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk calls for holding a referendum on constitutional amendments in Ukraine.
The Prime Minister made the statement in his television address.
"It is time for Ukrainian people to have their say in the issue of Ukraine's new Constitution in new European Ukraine. No one but the people of Ukraine has the right to determine the fundamental law,"the Prime Minister said.
Read also Blocking constitution changes can lead to full-scale conflict with Russia: Poroshenko
Yatsenyuk also emphasized that the referendum on the Constitution would constitute "genuine people's authority in a free and democratic country, for which we fought on the Maidan two years ago, and which we are now defending by force of arms."
Read also Hollande urges Ukraine to adopt constitutional changes in line with Minsk agreement
"The new Constitution is a new social contract between citizens and the authorities which they have elected. The contract on the distribution of rights and responsibilities within the governing bodies '' between the president, the government and the parliament. The contract on relations between the center and regions. The contract on the establishment of a new, fair and honest trial. The contract on a clear geopolitical goal of Ukraine, which consists in becoming a member of the European Union and NATO," Yatsenyuk said.
"I am convinced that the head of state upholds the same principles,"the Prime Minister added.
Russian hackers used malware to manipulate the Dollar/Ruble exchange rate - Help Net Security
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 01:09
Russian-language hackers have managed to break into Russian regional bank Energobank, infect its systems, and gain unsanctioned access to its trading system terminals, which allowed them to manipulate the Dollar/Ruble exchange rate.
''The criminals made purchases and sales of US dollars in the Dollar/Ruble exchange program on behalf of a bank using malware. The attack itself lasted only 14 minutes, however, it managed to cause a high volatility in the exchange rate of between 55/62 (Buy/Sell) rubles per 1 dollar instead of the 60-62 stable range,'' Russian security company Group-IB shared in a recently published whitepaper.
''To conduct the attack criminals used the Corkow malware, also known as Metel, containing specific modules designed to conduct thefts from trading systems ('...) Corkow provided remote access to the ITS-Broker system terminal by 'Platforma soft' Ltd., which enabled the fraud to be committed.''
The attack happened in February 2015, but the preparation for it lasted much longer (click on the screenshot to enlarge it):
During this period, the Corkow Trojan was functional and constantly updated itself to avoid detection by antivirus software installed at the bank.''
The incident lead to an investigation by the Russian central bank, and Energobank also called in Group-IB's researchers to investigate.
''As a result of the attack, the compromised bank which terminal was used for intrusion, suffered a huge financial and reputational damage, since many players on the market didn't trust the hacking theory of the incident and tended to believe that a simple mistake had occurred,'' noted Group-IB's researchers, who were called in by Energobank to investigate the incident.
''Experts say that many companies that were trading at the time of the attack and successfully made profit while the attackers are believed to have received no money from the operation. This evidence leads us to believe that these hacker actions could be a test of the ability to influence the market and capitalize on future attacks.''
It seems likely that the attack was perpetrated by the Metel cyber-criminal group, whose exploits half a year later have resulted in a successful attack involving the compromise of an unnamed bank and automation of the rollback capability of ATM transactions, and the criminals making off with hundreds of millions of rubles. To execute the attack, they used the aforementioned Corkow Trojan and, once again, the Niteris exploit pack to perpetrate the initial drive-by download of the malware.
''Various hacker groups demonstrate increased interest towards trading and brokerage systems and their clients, which is evidenced by the specific modifications in malware they use,'' the researchers commented. ''Hackers target primarily companies in Russia and CIS countries, though it is noticed that the amount of attacks targeting the USA has increased 5 times since 2011.''
For an in-depth overview of this group's actions and technical details about the malware they used, check out the whitepaper.
Bolivia
CHINERS IN BOLIVIA-Scandal clouds Bolivian president's political future | Foreign and Defense Policy Blog >> AEIdeas
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:19
Published allegations that Bolivian President Evo Morales channeled business to Chinese firms to enrich a former girlfriend have damaged greatly his bid for unlimited reelection. According to polls taken after the lurid disclosures and Morales' clumsy denials, public support for a constitutional amendment allowing indefinite reelection has been cut in half, suggesting that the proposal will fail by a vote of 2-to-1 in the referendum to be held on Sunday.
Barely a week before the fateful referendum, Bolivian journalist Carlos Valverde revealed Morales' secret affair with Gabriela Zapata, who was 19 at the beginning of the relationship and has given birth to the president's illegitimate son. Valverde alleges that Morales used his influence to get Zapata a job with CAMC Engineering, a powerful Chinese corporation operating in Bolivia. Zapata, now 28, is a lawyer with a degree in political science. She is the business manager of the Chinese firm, which enjoys lucrative construction, mining, and engineering contracts awarded by the Bolivian government.
Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during a ceremony to mark 10 years of his administration during a session of congress in La Paz, Bolivia January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Bolivian Presidency.
As Dr. Evan Ellis of the US Army War College explained in a recent paper, Zapata completed her education in 2013 and was hired by CAMC Engineering. Of the $580 million in contracts with the Bolivian government, $366 million ''was awarded after Ms. Zapata was hired to represent the company.''
In response to the allegations, Morales admitted to the relationship, but he said that it ended after the couple's son died in 2007. He denied the allegations of corruption, asserting that the two had not been in contact since their relationship ended. However, photographs later surfaced showing the two together as recently as last year.
CAMC Engineering's lawyer, Fernando Cortez Flores, also denied the accusations of corruption, but he provided little clarity regarding why Zapata was hired. ''In reality, the quantification or measurement of qualifications is not handled by an official here [in Bolivia]; the Chinese are very jealous in this and, like any international company, they must have their own human resource officials,'' Cortez said.
Morales also resorted to his frequent claim that the United States is trying to undermine him, blaming the United States for the revelations as an attempt to destabilize the country ahead of the referendum.
China plays a significant role in Bolivia and in Latin America generally. Chinese trade and investment in the region have expanded dramatically in recent years, largely in the fields of infrastructure development, energy exploitation, and mining. Chinese involvement in the region has been a mixed bag to say the least. Although Chinese investment has produced significant revenue and economic growth, Chinese executives are frequently accused of corruption, bribery, and bypassing environmental, labor, and safety regulations.
There are no comments available.
Prensa Latina News Agency - Opposition Prepares Accusation of Fraud if Yes Vote Wins in Bolivia
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:16
15 de febrero de 2016, 13:24Por Pedro Rioseco
La Paz, Feb 15 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced the preparations by the opposition to declare as fraud the results of the referendum scheduled for February 21 in light of the victory of the Yes vote in favor of the presidential duo to run for office again in 2019.
We will win this voting, said Morales in a TV interview on Sunday night, when he recalled that the referendum is not his initiative or that of Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, but it came from the social and workers' movements to continue the process of change.He pointed out that behind the opposition journalist Carlos Valverde, who accused him of alleged traffic of influences for favoring hiring an ex partner in the Chinese company CAMC, there is an open conspiracy by the United States.
That conspiracy and the campaign of slanders and lies are aimed against Bolivia's democratic process, noted the president, adding that there is evidence that on December 11, Valverde met with three US diplomats in Santa Cruz.
Morales underlined his agreement with the articles published by the Argentine political analyst Atilio Bor"n in Mexico, where he denounced personages from the previous governments who are fugitives of justice and are leading the No campaign and the opposition's actions from the United States.
What the previous government did not do in 180 years, we have done it in ten years, the president noted, and with the triumph of Yes we will have the task of complying with the Patriotic Agenda with a minimum investment until 2020 of 45 billion dollars for the benefit of the people.
In the case of corruption in the Indigenous Fund, Morales made it clear that as soon as the government was informed about anomalies by the Comptroller's Office, it decided to intervene, take 29 officials to justice and investigate more than 400.
Let us let justice decide on their culpability, underlined Morales, who repeated that it was his government that proposed to eliminate immunity for congress people and all leaders who must respond for their actions before justice.
On the accusation of traffic of influences,we have decided that the Comptroller's Office will investigate whoever is involved, he said, noting that in 2007 he ordered to lift the bank secrecy on any accounts held by the president, the vice president or any government leader.
We have requested the creation of a legislative committee to investigate the traffic of influences, whoever it involves, and if the right wing wants the financial investigation unit to investigate too, we have no inconvenience, because we have nothing to hide, Morales stressed.
When the Chinese company CAMC did not comply with the terms agreed upon to build a segment of the railroad, long before the accusation by the opposition, a guarantee order was put in place but the company filed an appeal and won the lawsuit temporarily, the president said.
Since there is a lawsuit by the government, that company cannot win any tender in Bolivia, noted Morales, who added that the pro-imperialist neoliberals who promote the No vote lack an ideological program to propose.
What they want is a return to the neoliberal past in the 2019 elections, remove the social benefits from the workers, privatize the companies nationalized by this government and end the process of change in Bolivia, he added.
The social movements and our honest professionals have make Bolivia progress, he said. We will continue working to eradicate poverty, with dignity, and we are certain that as always, we will not abandon the people. On this occasion, the people will not abandon us either.
sgl/jg/lam/prl
Prensa Latina News Agency - New Evidence of US Interference in Bolivia Presented
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:13
16 de febrero de 2016, 10:31La Paz, Feb 16 (Prensa Latina) New evidence regarding the illegal activities of the US Embassy in Bolivia were revealed here today with only five days left for the referendum on the possibility of President Evo Morales running for president once more.
The program 'Ojo con los medios', of the Abya Yala channel, denounced the case of the opposition senator of Santa Cruz, Oscar Ortiz, who received funds from the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED).Television also released footage that demonstrate how the American CIA agent and vice-consul in Bolivia until last year, Ari Avidar, conducted intelligence work, thus contradicting the Vienna Convention, which rules diplomatic activities.
Avidar paid a leader of the Departmental Association of Coca Producers (Adepcoca, in Spanish) to provide him information about President Evo Morales and his relations with social organizations.
These cases are added to the meeting by the charg(C) d'affaires of the US Embassy, Peter Brennan, in Santa Cruz, with journalist Carlos Valverde.
Valverde is the author of a series of accusations against the president for alleged influence peddling, on the eve of the referendum which will determine whether the president can run for elections in 2019 or not.
These examples demonstrate that the No campaign is growing in the United States, said deputy Susana Rivero, from the Movement towards Socialism (MAS, in Spanish).
Rivero considered as very serious the interference and financing of NED approved by the US Congress to destabilize governments that are not related to their interests.
In an interview with Radio Santa Cruz, President Morales declared that the accusations against him are part of a conspiracy encouraged by the embassy and warned he will not forgive any action of that nature.
'We do not accept conspiracy. We will make the dignity, economic and political sovereignty of Bolivia respected. No doubt about it', said Morales.
sus/yor/lam/car
Carlos Valverde-Prensa Latina News Agency - We will not Forgive a US Conspiracy against Bolivia, Evo Morales
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:11
Escrito por Yoama Ford lunes, 15 de febrero de 201615 de febrero de 2016, 16:22La Paz, Feb 15 (Prensa Latina) The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, stated today that his government will not forgive any conspiracy orchestrated by the United States against this South American nation.
"We have information that the plot is from the United States and we will not forgive, we will not forgive the conspiracy" said Morales, who exemplified with the meetings of former Intelligence agent and now journalist Carlos Valverde and former legislator Manuel Suarez at the US embassy.There is information that the US economic adviser is holding meetings with the opposition in the city of El Alto, Morales told Radio Santa Cruz.
On Sunday, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera affirmed that Valverde's meeting with US ambassador Peter Brennan, in a hotel in the city of Santa Cruz, in December, proves the conspiracy exerted by the United States against Morales.
He said that after this meeting, Valverde made the media attack against the president with the complaint of an alleged influence peddling.
In January, the government reported that the Inter-American Institute of Democracy in the United States elaborated a strategic plan to destabilize Bolivia and weaken the leadership of Evo Morales, facing the constitutional referendum of February 21.
hr/ycf/to/joe
Modificado el ( lunes, 15 de febrero de 2016 )
Bolivian President Accuses Opposition of Waging 'Dirty War' | News | teleSUR English
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:55
The president denounced a smear campaign aimed at discrediting him before the referendum that will decide if he can run for re-election.
Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the opposition Sunday of carrying out a ''dirty war'' against him, about two months ahead of the constitutional referendum, due Feb. 21.
Morales was responding to the recent declaration by Filiberto Escalante, a former memeber of the governing socialist MAS party, who claimed that Morales' ''entire family'' was managing the state-run oil company YPFB, and that the ''nepotism'' Morales used to criticize when campaigning for the presidency was actually worse now.
''This is not true. My sister is working in a hospital coordinated by our Cuban friends and my brother Hugo '... and my (other) siblings don't get involved in politics. Here, families do not manage the state,'' he said during a sporting event in Cala Cala, in the western department of Oruro.
However, he added, nepotism was frequent in preceding governments, ''They felt like the owners of the Presidential Palace.''
RELATED: Evo Morales Talks to teleSUR: On Social Justice, Freedom
He condemned the ''slanderous tongues'' that made the accusations without any basis, recalling that the national and international right wing used to accuse him of being a drug-trafficker, a murderer and a terrorist.
''We've heard so many slurs in the past days that the only word that comes to mind is the dirty war and opposition's policy, although this is not so surprising '' they used to call me the Andean Bin Laden.''
The referendum, approved by the senate in early November, will ask Bolivians whether a two term limit for presidents and vice presidents should be amended, and the outcome will decide if Morales, who has been president since 2006, will be permitted to run for office again.
The next presidential elections are set to take place in 2019, and the president-elect will serve a five-year term lasting until 2025.
5 Things to Know About Bolivia's Referendum on Term Limits | Analysis | teleSUR English
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:51
Bolivia's referendum on Feb. 21 will determine whether President Morales can seek a third consecutive term in 2019.
1. The Referendum Is NOT About Keeping Evo Morales in Power Indefinitely
As with other efforts in Latin America to change term limits for politicians, there is a lot of misinformation floating around regarding the upcoming referendum in Bolivia.
The opponents of the social change brought by the government of President Evo Morales, both domestically and abroad, are deliberately trying to confuse the public by suggesting that Morales is seeking to stay in power indefinitely.
The referendum will decide whether a constitutional term limit for presidents and vice presidents should be amended, and the outcome will decide if Morales, who has been president since 2006, will be permitted to run for office again.
The actual text of the referendum question reads: ''Are you in agreement with the reform of Article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State so that the president and vice president of the state can be re-elected twice for consecutive terms?''
The constitution currently only allows for one consecutive re-election, the change would allow for three consecutive terms for the president and vice president.
Of course, should the referendum be approved, President Evo Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera would still need to win the election in 2019 in order to remain in office.
Even after a decade in power, the Morales government remains immensely popular, and his political opponents fear that he will once again win overwhelmingly. Despite their pronouncements about Bolivia's democracy, this is why many in the opposition have chosen to campaign against the approval of the referendum.
2. The Push to Change Term Limits is Driven by the Grassroots
Supporters of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism were still celebrating their dramatic victory in 2014 elections when the president was already being asked if he was considering running for president in 2019. Morales responded that he was too busy thinking about the upcoming term and had not yet considered an additional term, saying that ''the people will decide.''
It is a position that he has steadfastly maintained. The push to change term limits has instead come from the grassroots, who say that Morales is deserving of an additional term in order to complete the work his government began when it first came to power in 2006.
In fact, the actual request for a constitutional referendum was made by thousands of Bolivians who marched through the streets of La Paz in order to hand deliver their request to the country's Plurinational Legislative Assembly.
"Workers and social organizations will not jeopardize this process of change, and that is why we are supporting the reelection of President Morales," said Rolando Borda of the Santa Cruz Regional Workers' Center in September 2015.
Morales has said that even he has been taken by surprise by the outpouring of support from social movements for his re-election.
3. The United States is Allegedly Funding the 'No' Camp
President Evo Morales has charged that the United States is funding the campaign calling for a ''No'' vote in the referendum.
According to Morales, the country's right-wing politicians are even fighting with each other over their share of the money.
In a de facto recognition of the unpopularity of opposition politicians in Bolivia, the U.S. embassy has recommended that Bolivian opposition leaders avoid appearing publicly during the campaign in order to give the appearance that the rejection of Morales' re-election mainly comes from the population.
Bolivian Communications Minister Marianela Paco affirmed the allegations leveled by President Morales during a press conference on Jan. 19, where she also showed links between opposition politicians and questionable characters from Bolivia's past.
Paco showed evidence that the opposition is still in contact with Carlos Sanchez Berzain, a minister during the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who fled Bolivia amid mass protests. The former president is in self-imposed exile in the United States and considered a fugitive. Bolivian authorities are seeking his extradition but the U.S. Department of State has been uncooperative.
''I am not sure whether (the money) is sent by the corrupt criminals who fled to the United States, or by the U.S. State Department,'' said Morales, referring to the Bolivian opposition leaders that have found shelter in the United States.
U.S. support for the ''No'' side would be unsurprising as the Morales government has a volatile relationship with the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was expelled from Bolivia and the U.S. has not had an ambassador in the country since 2008, when the last ambassador was expelled.
Diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks revealed that the U.S. had plans in 2008 to either topple the government of Evo Morales, or allow his assassination.
Morales' is a steadfast critic of U.S. foreign policy, especially when it comes to the war on drugs, including the rights of Bolivian's traditional coca growers. Morales cut his teeth in politics as leader of coca growers.
4. 'No' Campaign is Engaging in Dirty Tricks
In January, opposition politician and three-time defeated presidential candidate Samuel Doria Medina attempted to smear President Evo Morales by alleging that he had recently received a US$200 haircut, presenting a receipt as ''proof.''
The receipt shared by Doria Medina on Twitter turned out the be false and the politician deleted his tweet.
The episode served to show the depths the opposition is willing to go to in an effort to defame the president, especially during this electoral period.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has accused the opposition of carrying out a ''dirty war'' against him. Another opposition politician, Filiberto Escalante, claimed that Morales' ''entire family'' was managing the state-run oil company YPFB, and that the ''nepotism'' Morales used to criticize when campaigning for the presidency was actually worse now.
That charge also turned out to be false, as Morales' sister works at a hospital and his other siblings abstain from politics.
''We've heard so many slurs in the past days that the only word that comes to mind is the dirty war and opposition's policy, although this is not so surprising '' they used to call me the Andean Bin Laden,'' said Morales in December 2015.
The ''Yes'' campaign on the other hand is running a positive campaign, focused on the achievements of the Morales government since 2006 in a door-to-door effort.
The campaign is deliberately targeting Bolivia's young people to talk to them about life in Bolivia before the Morales government. They even created a humorous parody video of the trailer for ''Star Wars: The Force Awakens.''
In the video, the Evo Morales' face is overlaid on several Star Wars characters that represent ''the Force,'' or the good guys. The ''Dark Side'' is represented by former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and former Defense Minister Carlos Sanchez.
5. Millions of Bolivians Are Expected to Vote
Bolivia's Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that 6.5 million people were registered to vote in February's national referendum, representing a 3 percent increase in the number of new voters since the last referendum in September 2015.
Voting is compulsory in Bolivia, thus there is little doubt that the will of the people will be expressed on Feb. 21.
Nonetheless the opposition is trying to undermine the legitimacy of the electoral body and the vote, a standard tactic in the region.
With polls showing the ''Yes'' side with more support, by questioning the legitimacy of the vote ahead of the referendum, the ''No'' side is seeking to lay the groundwork for allegations of fraud should they lose.
Some private media outlets inside Bolivia have suggested irregularities in the electoral register.
"We can ensure not only the reliability of our data but also the access to this information by any citizen,'' says Katia Uriona, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
In a statement posted on its website, the tribunal invited Bolivians to verify for themselves the electoral register.
Thirty-seven organizations have registered to campaign: 22 support the ''Yes'' side, which seeks to modify the constitution, while 15 will campaign in favor of the ''No'' side.
Campaigners do not need to register but those that do register are entitled to benefit from free campaign publicity in state broadcast and print outlets.
Bolivia's Gas War
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:47
An Overview of Bolivia's Gas War
By Benjamin Dangl
Upsidedownworld.org
Landlocked Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and has the largest proportion of indigenous people on the continent. Historically, Bolivia has been rich in natural resources such as coal, tin and gold which were repeatedly exploited by foreign companies that made enormous profits while Bolivia struggled on.
Fierce social movements against such exploitation and pressure have marked Bolivia for decades. In April of 2000 in the city of Cochabamba, local citizens took to the streets to kick out foreign investors who had privatized the area's water. After weeks of blockades and violent confrontations between protesters and security forces, the investors left and the water privatization ended.
In February of 2003, during a series of riots and national protests, the Bolivian public rejected an income tax that was proposed by the government and recommended by the IMF.
The most recent social movement in Bolivia was the Gas War, which took place primarily from mid September to October of 2003. Yet the debate regarding what to do with Bolivia's natural gas reserves, which are the second largest in Latin America, began approximately a year and a half ago when the government proposed that the gas be exported through Chile, instead of the more costly option of exporting it through Peru.
In August of 2003 civil society and union groups announced a coordinated campaign to stop the exportation which began with direct action in the Yungas, a region north of the capital La Paz. From its start, the Gas War included demands for clarity in coca laws, the resignation of then president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, the release of jailed political leaders and justice regarding the atrocities that took place in La Paz last February.
In Bolivia, there is a profound contempt towards Chile which originated with the Pacific War of 1879 when Chile took over Bolivia's only access to the sea. This event has fueled much of the tension regarding the plan to sell the gas through Chile. Rather than allowing their desperate government to sell the gas to foreign investors for a meager sum, many Bolivians want it to be nationalized so that the profits can help the neediest sectors of society.
Throughout the Gas War huge mobilizations took place against the exportation. Hundreds of thousands of farmers, coca growers, students, union workers, and ordinary citizens protested, went on strike and constructed extensive road blockades across the country. These mobilizations were marked by intense confrontations between security forces and protesters. In the end, nearly eighty people were killed and hundreds more were wounded. In the fourteen months of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada's presidency, more people were killed than in any other presidency, including the years of military dictatorships.
On October 12, after weeks of intense confrontations between security forces and protesters, nearly thirty people were massacred in El Alto, a city outside La Paz,. Protesters in El Alto had been maintaining the most intense road blockades in the country for weeks, cutting off the main route to La Paz. As a result, La Paz had been experiencing a severe shortage of gasoline, food and other supplies.
On Sunday, October 12, heavily armed military and police escorting gasoline tankers tried to pass through the blockades in El Alto to get to La Paz, where the shortage of gasoline, paired with blockades, had brought transportation to a standstill. The protesters in El Alto would not permit the trucks to pass through the blockades and at 10 am, the confrontation with security forces began.
The security forces, armed with high caliber weapons, indiscriminately fired on the protesters and into homes as they circled the city in helicopters and shot into the crowds from the ground. Some protesters carried sticks and slingshots, and some of the people killed and injured were children. The next day in La Paz, nearly twenty more protesters were killed in confrontations with security forces.
These deaths produced a turning point in the Gas War. Though many protesters throughout the conflict had been mobilizing against the exportation of the nation's gas to the US, the demands of various sectors had remained diverse. But after the deaths in El Alto and La Paz, all protesting sectors began focusing on the resignation of the president as a condition for dialogue on any other point.
Soon, Sanchez de Lozada's remaining political allies, including the vice president Carlos Mesa, demanded the president's resignation as well.
Finally, after repeatedly refusing to resign, Sanchez de Lozada left office October 17, and took off in a plane to Miami. That same night, previous vice president, Mesa assumed the position of president of Bolivia, as stipulated in the country's constitution.
Mesa knew that if he was to survive the political climate, he would have to concede to some of the diverse demands of the protesting sectors. Among his promises were plans for a national referendum on the gas exportation issue and justice for the victims of the 2003 Gas War.
On July 18th, 2004 the referendum took place. Voters were to choose yes or no to five questions including whether to repeal Sanchez de Lozada's gas exportation plan, increase revenue with a new plan, use the gas as a strategic way to gain access to the sea from Chile, and use most of the profits from the exportation plan for the development of schools, hospitals, roads and jobs. Unfortunately for Bolivian protest groups, the referendum did not include the nationalization of the gas as an option.
Many voters did not understand the convoluted wording of the questions, which were not only pointed towards a ''yes'' vote, but also left open opportunities for corporate exploitation of the gas. Citizens were also reportedly forced into voting by a harsh new law which called for the imprisonment of any person who refused to participate in the referendum.
The controversial referendum led to divisions among activist leaders in Bolivia. Jamie Solares from the Bolivian Worker's Union and Felipe Quispe, the director of the Bolivian Farm Workers Federation, led blockades and protests against the referendum, but were not able to generate enough grassroots support to stop or impede the voting. Congressman Evo Morales, leader of the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS) and a major coca farmers' union, supported the referendum. Some viewed Morales' endorsement as a strategic move to gain urban middle support for a presidential bid in the next election.
After the polls closed on July 18th, it was announced that seventy five percent of the voters said ''yes'' to all five questions. Yet for months, gridlock in congress, pressure from foreign investors and protesting groups postponed any major decisions on what to do with the gas.
The violence of the 2003 conflict still hasn't been fully investigated, and members of Bolivia's security forces have not been charged. However, Mesa has differed from his predecessor in one significant way: he has refused to call upon the use of lethal security force to break up the many protests and road blockades. In the year and half that Mesa has been in office, though confrontations between protesters and security forces have resulted in injuries, no deaths have been reported.
Gas War: 2005
In March of 2005, protest groups made up of unions, farmers, civil society organizations and students, were tired of waiting for the government to nationalize the gas. Through both independent and coordinated efforts, protesters marched, blockaded vital highways and shut down four oilfields near the central city of Cochabamba.
On March 6, after facing an estimated 800 protests during his term in office, President Carlos Mesa stated that the country had become ''ungovernable'' and offered his resignation. He blamed Evo Morales for the chaos in the country and used the resignation announcement as a threat to hand power over to the President of the Parliament, Hormando Vaca Diez. Due to his ties to foreign investors and the main right-wing party in government, Vaca Diez was highly unpopular with Bolivian leftists and was likely to respond more violently to protests than Mesa.
Mesa was hoping the gesture, which many called a plea for sympathy, would force the left to back off. Yet not only was Mesa's resignation rejected by congress, but his announcement backfired. During Mesa's show of weakness, diverse protest groups led by Morales, Quispe and Solares came together to re-launch a past protest front known as the People's General Staff. The group, formed to unite the country's social movements, called for continued strikes and demanded that governmental royalties from the sale of the gas be raised to a minimum of 50%.
On May 17th 2005, the Bolivian Congress passed a gas law which imposed a new 32% tax on production on top of the existing royalties of 18%. However, it fell short of the protesters' demands as they said it would be easy for the oil companies to evade the 32% tax. This set off another round of marches and road blockades. The legislation also agitated foreign investors, who claimed it gave far too much control to the government. The law increased taxes for foreign companies and stated that indigenous groups would have to be consulted about further use of gas in their areas and would receive compensation for the use of their land. Many foreign investors had been pumping money into Bolivia's gas industry since 1996 and felt that the new law was confiscating their investments. Some threatened to sue the Bolivian government in international courts.
Jeffrey Webber published an article in ZNet, which quoted US Treasury Department`s Assistant Secretary of International Affairs, Randal Quarles as saying that, if the new gas law were to go into effect, it would be a ''sure thing that the first measure would be the suspension of investments, at minimum while Bolivia continues this uncertainty.'' Quarles also suggested that the law might influence the amount of financial support that organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank offer to the Bolivian government.
The day before the law was passed, 100,000 protesters, primarily from El Alto, a working class community near La Paz, the country's capital, rallied outside parliament demanding Mesa's resignation. In the proceeding days, other sectors joined the El Alto protesters. The La Paz teachers' union called a strike, peasant unions across the country organized road blockades, and the National Congress of the Miners' Union also began marching in La Paz. The MAS party organized a massive march from the city of Cochabamba to La Paz, a distance of 190 kilometers.
In an article on ZNet, Nick Buxton quotes a miner named Iriaro, who had traveled six hours to join protests in La Paz, as saying, ''People are suffering to get here as they have so little money. But I decided to come because we need to reclaim our natural resources. We have been robbed for centuries and our government is robbing us again.''
Not all protesters shared the same goals. Evo Morales said that Bolivia should receive 50% of the royalties from the sale of the gas; a demand which had been previously supported by protesters but by this point was viewed by many as too moderate. As the perhaps strongest leftist presidential candidate, Morales and his positions are often highly scrutinized. In an article in CounterPunch, Forrest Hylton explained that ''Morales poses as the defender of democracy in hopes of winning over the urban middle class'...Though the U.S. Embassy, the weak and divided Bolivian elite, and the London Economist see Morales as a wolf in sheep's clothing, a strategic radical disguised as a tactical moderate, in rhetoric and fact Morales is the strongest defender of Bolivian democracy as presently configured. Neither he nor MAS want to see the constitutional order unravel, as both have had their sights set on the 2007 elections since 2002, when Morales nearly won the presidential race.''
By May 24, tens of thousands of protesters had again descended into La Paz from El Alto. They were met with rubber bullets and tear gas from security forces. Six protesters were reportedly injured in the clashes. Road blockades were set up on main roads across the country, shutting down routes to La Paz, the nearby international airport, and roads to the borders with Peru and Chile.
On June 2nd, as a last ditch effort, Mesa announced plans to re-write the constitution in a national assembly. With such an assembly, Mesa hoped to calm the protests by offering marginalized indigenous people a larger voice in the government. Under his decree, members to the constitutional assembly would be elected on October 16, 2005. According to a June 3rd report by the AFP News Service, Evo Morales, stating that Mesa's proposal could easily be rejected by congress, said it had "good intentions, but is unconstitutional'...a new show put on by the government [to demobilize the protests].''
Protesters were not satisfied with Mesa's proposal, as it didn't offer an immediate response to their demands for nationalization of the country's gas. Protest groups pledged to continue road blockades and marches until the gas was nationalized and plans for the constitutional assembly were passed by congress.
Mesa also proposed a referendum on the autonomy of resource-rich areas in Bolivia, such as the province of Santa Cruz, where much of Bolivian gas is located. There is a strong drive in this region to privatize the gas. Protest groups are deeply against right-wing demands for such autonomy, as it would thwart any plans for full nationalization.
On June 6th, after another full day of protest and road blockades, Mesa again offered his resignation to congress. "This is as far as I can go," Mesa stated in a televised address. The Andean Information Network reported that Mesa also said that he had done his best, and that he asked Bolivians for forgiveness if he shared responsibility for the profound political crisis that was gripping the nation.
Although the MAS party demanded Mesa's resignation, it was not a key demand of many groups; most primarily advocated for the nationalization of the gas. For many protesters, the issue wasn't who was President; it was who was in control of the nation's gas. As such, Mesa's resignation is unlikely to offer a solution to Bolivia's crisis.
Promising not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor, Mesa did not call upon the use of lethal force by police to quell protests. However, should Mesa's resignation be accepted, the presidency would then go to Vaca Diez, who has often advocated the use of force to stop the protests. During the Sanchez de Lozada administration such crackdowns only fueled national discontent.
Even before Mesa offered his resignation, Vaca Diez said that the idea of having early elections is ''gaining momentum as a way out of the problem". Morales also told reporters that holding early elections ''is the only way we will find a political solution."
To the relief of many Bolivian citizens, Vaca Diez stepped down and Bolivia's Supreme Court Justice took office, immediately calling for elections to take place in December 2005.
Benjamin Dangl is the editor of www.UpsideDownWorld.org
Bolivia's President Evo Morales eyeing fourth term | Global Risk Insights
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:46
After winning the 2014 elections by a landslide and maintaining his two-thirds majority in the lower and upper houses of the Assembly, Bolivian President Evo Morales now has both the political capital and the majority to amend the constitution. What are the risk and opportunities of another term for Evo Morales?
In mid-September, president Evo Morales announced that he would run for a fourth term, over the period 2020-2025.
Morales is not the first in the region to seek a term extension. His leftist peers Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Hugo Chvez (Venezuela) both achieved the same, while right-wing candidates Carlos Menem (Argentina) and lvaro Uribe (Colombia) managed to get a first term extension, but not a second one. However, the move is a contemporary novelty for Bolivia, which had six presidents in the ten years before Morales came to power.
Morales' presidential stability has allowed him to carry out many long-term projects. He has invested strongly in infrastructure, put in place effective redistribution schemes for the poor, and maintained relatively prudent macroeconomic management.
As a result, Bolivia has grown on average by 5.1 percent per year since Morales came to power, and is projected to grow by 4.3 percent this and next year, despite a global crash in commodity prices. Meanwhile, government debt as a proportion of GDP has only declined.
Moreover, Morales' presidency has given rise to a new enterprising class of indigenous entrepreneurs who were previously excluded from the formal economy. Growth has become more inclusive and inequality has fallen markedly.
But Morales' incumbency, which began in 2006, has also come with a dark side. Many state institutions have become dominated by his party Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) and his allies. Allegations abound of political opponents subject to persecution through the judiciary. Furthermore, the climate for NGOs and journalists critical of the government has worsened, with vice-president lvaro Garc­a Linera lashing out this summer against foreign organisations.
Not all bad for business
Often compared with Venezuelan firebrand president Hugo Chvez, Evo Morales has not been viewed positively by international and domestic business.
Upon his election in 2006, he nationalized the country's natural gas industry and then quickly moved to nationalize other assets such as airports, mining operations, telecommunications firms, and a smelter owned by Swiss miner Glencore.
Yet more recently, Morales seems to have lost his appetite for expropriation. After his last election in October 2013, Morales pledged not to carry out any more major nationalization projects, and although he has suggested higher taxes for some industries, international firms working with the government in mining projects, for example, have been left alone.
Moreover, despite his revolutionary credentials, Morales has managed to maintain a relatively stable macroeconomic environment. Unlike his peers in Argentina, Ecuador, and Venezuela, Bolivia has a modest inflation rate, a low debt burden, ample foreign-exchange reserves, and little government intervention in most sectors.
Such characteristics make economic turmoil, like that currently in Venezuela, unlikely. Despite the economy's dependence on commodities such as natural gas, minerals, and soybeans, Bolivia has so far withstood a global drop in commodity prices '' partly thanks to stable long-term gas contracts.
Political rumblings
Given a stable macroeconomic climate, business risk lays mainly in future political instability. In his second mandate, the Morales administration was plagued by indigenous protests, causing weakening support from its largely indigenous core constituency.
However, Morales managed to widen the basis of his political support before the 2014 elections, drawing in large swathes of the Bolivian middle class. He has also continued to mend fences with a large part of the country's economic elites. The latest polls in December 2014 showed him reaching a 75-percent approval rating, although his party has been dogged by corruption scandals and recently lost a number of important mayoralties.
The end of the commodities boom may yet spell disaster for the Bolivian government. Latin American governments, from Ecuador to Brazil, and Venezuela to Colombia, have seen their tax bases shrivel, and have lost popularity partially due to steep budget costs. Although Bolivia has more wiggle room than its neighbors next door, it may also have to start cutting within the next few years
Moreover, Morales' decision to push for a fourth term could also bring about political fallout. Rafael Correa's announcement last year that he would reform the constitution to run for another term galvanized opposition in Ecuador, causing large street protests and political upheaval.
Although Morales enjoys strong approval, the prospect of another 10 years in office may have a similar effect.
Bolivian gas conflict - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:46
The Bolivian gas conflict was a social confrontation in Bolivia reaching its peak in 2003, centering on the exploitation of the country's vast natural gas reserves. The expression can be extended to refer to the general conflict in Bolivia over the exploitation of gas resources, thus including the 2005 protests and the election of Evo Morales as president. Prior to these protests, Bolivia had seen a series of similar earlier protests, during the Cochabamba protests of 2000, which were against the privatization of the municipal water supply.
Overview[edit]The conflict had its roots in grievances over the government's economic policies concerning natural gas, as well as coca eradication policies, corruption and violent military responses against strikes. On a larger scale, it can be traced to Bolivia'scolonization since the 15th century and the subsequent exploitation of its natural resources (e.g. the mines of Potos­).
The "Bolivian gas war" thus came to a head in October 2003, leading to the resignation of President Gonzalo Snchez de Lozada (aka "Goni"). Strikes and road blocks mounted by indigenous and labour groups (including the COB trade union) brought the country to a standstill. Violent suppression by the Bolivian armed forces left some 60 people dead in October 2003, mostly inhabitants of El Alto, located on the Altiplano above of the capital city La Paz.
The governing coalition disintegrated forcing Goni to resign and leave the country on October 18, 2003. He was succeeded by the vice president, Carlos Mesa, who put the gas issue to a referendum on July 18, 2004. In May 2005, under duress from protesters, the Bolivian congress enacted a new hydrocarbons law, increasing the state's royalties from natural gas exploitation. However, protesters, who included Evo Morales and Felipe Quispe, demanded full nationalization of hydrocarbon resources, and the increased participation of Bolivia's indigenous majority, mainly composed of Aymaras and Quechuas, in the political life of the country. On June 6, 2005 Mesa was forced to offer his resignation, as tens of thousands of protesters blockaded La Paz from the rest of the country daily. Morales' election at the end of 2005 was met with enthusiasm by the social movements, since he was, as the leader of left-wingMAS, one of the staunchest opponents to the exportation of the gas without corresponding industrialization in Bolivia. On May 1, 2006 (which is also Labor Day), President Morales signed a decree stating that all gas reserves were to be nationalized: "the state recovers ownership, possession and total and absolute control" of hydrocarbons. The 2006 announcement was met by applause on La Paz's main plaza, where vice President Alvaro Garcia told the crowd that the government's energy-related revenue would jump US$320 million to US$780 million in 2007,[1] continuing a trend where revenues had expanded nearly sixfold between 2002 and 2006.[2]
Background[edit]Gas reserves of Bolivia[edit]The issue was regarding Bolivia's large natural gas reserves and the prospect for their future sale and use. The Bolivian gas reserves are the second-largest in South America, after Venezuela, and exploration after the privatization of the national oil company YPFB showed that proven natural gas reserves were 600 percent higher than previously known. The cash-poor state-owned company could not afford the exploration costs. These reserves are mainly located in the south-eastern Tarija Department, which contains 85% of gas and petrol reserves. According to the United States Department of Energy, another 10.6% is located within the department of Santa Cruz and 2.5% in the Cochabamba Department.[3] After further exploration between 1996 and 2002 the estimated size of the probable gas reserves was calculated to be 12.5 times larger, passing from 4.24—10^12 cu ft (120 km3) to 52.3—10^12 cu ft (1,480 km3). This number has since declined somewhat to 48—10^12 cu ft (1,400 km3) probable reserves. The proven reserves are 26.7—10^12 cu ft (760 km3).[4] With the declining importance of tin mines, those reserves accounted for the majority of foreign investment in Bolivia. The price which Bolivia is paid for its natural gas is roughly US$3.25 to Brazil and $US3.18 to Argentina.[5] Other sources state that Brazil pays between US$3.15/MMBtu and US$3.60/MMBtu (not including US$1.50/MMBtu in Petrobras extraction and transportation costs).[6] The price of gas in the US as a whole is between US$5.85/MMBtu (May 21, 2006), US$7.90/MMBtu (April 2006)[7] & US$6.46/MMtu (June 2006),[8] although several years ago the price of natural gas spiked at $14 in California[9] due to lack of pipeline capacity to and within California, and also due to electricity outages.[10] While according to Le Monde, Brazil and Argentina pay US$2 per thousand cubic meter of gas, which costs between $12 to $15 in California.[9]
In 1994, a contract with Brazil was passed, two years before 1996's privatization of the 70-year-old, state-owned Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia (YPFB). The construction of the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline cost US$2.2 billion.
A consortium called Pacific LNG was formed to exploit the newly discovered reserves. The consortium comprised the British companies BG Group and BP, and Spain's Repsol YPF. Repsol is one of three companies that dominate the gas sector in Bolivia, along with Petrobras and Total.[9] A plan costing US$6 billion was drawn up to build a pipeline to the Pacific coast, where the gas would be processed and liquefied before being shipped to Mexico and the United States (Baja California and California), through a Chilean port, for example Iquique. The 2003 Lozada deal was heavily opposed by Bolivian society, in part because of nationalism (Bolivia still feels resentment after the territorial losses of the War of the Pacific in the late 19th century, which deprived it of the Litoral province and hence of access to the sea).
Government ministers hoped to use the gas profits to bolster the sagging Bolivian economy and claimed the money would be invested exclusively in health and education. Opponents argued that under the current law, the exportation of the gas as a raw material would give Bolivia only 18% of the future profits, or US$40 million to US$70 million per year. They further argued that exporting the gas so cheaply would be the latest case of foreign exploitation of Bolivia's natural resources, starting with its silver and gold from the 17th century. They demanded that a plant be built in Bolivia to process the gas and that domestic consumption had to be met before export. As Le Monde puts it, "two reasons plead for the industrial exploitation of the gas, which the multinational companies now have the capacities of doing. The first is related to the necessity of satisfying the Bolivians' energy needs. The second demonstrates the interest of exporting a more profitable product, rather than selling raw material". According to the French newspaper, only La Paz, El Alto, Sucre, Potos­, Camiri and Santa Cruz are now connected to the gas network; making an interior network which would reach all Bolivians would cost $1.5 billion, notwithstanding a central gas pipeline to link the various regions together. According to Carlos Miranda, an independent expert quoted by Le Monde, the best industrialisation project is the petrochemical complex proposed by the Brazilian Braskem firm, which would create 40 000 direct or indirect jobs and cost $1.4 billion. This figure is equivalent to the amount so far invested by Repsol, Total and Petrobras.[9]
Indigenous communities[edit]Bolivia, like much of Latin America, is a highly class-segregated society, in this case along ethnic lines: European-Indio. European descendants tend to monopolize political and economic power and in fact the republican institutions are drawn along the lines of European schools of thought with little or no adjustment to the indigenous tradition. This makes it much harder for the indigenous to integrate into society and to achieve personal success. Since the late 1990s, the indigenous communities have become radicalized throughout the Andes pressing for political reform in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, loosely coordinated in the Pachacuti movement. The Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), is perhaps the strongest political expression of this movement in Bolivia, coordinating a wide range of community-based organizations mostly reflecting Aymara political aspirations.
Santa Cruz autonomy movement[edit]The wealthier, eastern departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija, and Pando have recently been mobilizing in favor of autonomy. Important issues are opposition to the seizure of resources though nationalization, the confiscation of land from local control by outside ethnic groups (mainly the Aymara and Quechua), and a greater share of taxes collected within Santa Cruz to support roads and schools.[11] Community leaders are supported by the Comite Pro Santa Cruz, local co-ops, and by business organizations such as cattle ranchers and farmers. A strike against the new constitution was recently held which was observed in Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija, and Pando.[12] Tensions have been raised by the cultural and philosophical rift exposed by the push for a new constitution. As a basis for a new constitution, the western, Altiplano-based MAS party envisions a "council of indigenous peoples" along with a curtailment of private ownership, while Santa Cruz looks to western culture and capitalism.[13] Cultural divisions exist because people in eastern Bolivia, called "Cambas" (meaning "friends" in Guarani), are primarily of mestizo descent (mix of European and several native tribes the largest of which are the Guaran­), while the western Altiplano is dominated by a small white elite and a historically oppressed Quechua and Aymara majority.
The first signs of the modern autonomy movement occurred in 2005 when a march for autonomy was attended by hundreds of thousands of people [4]. A result of this was the change in law to allow the election of departmental prefects. Another area of tension was the result of ongoing population shifts and the resulting demands for proportionally greater representation in Bolivia's Congress to reflect these shifts by Santa Cruz.[14] A compromise was reached to allow Santa Cruz to receive some of the seats warranted by population growth, and for the highlands to keep seats despite population losses.
Left-wing intellectuals Walter Chvez and lvaro Garc­a Linera (the current Bolivian Vice President and MAS party member) published an article in the Monthly Review asserting that autonomy has been historically a demand of the Santa Cruz region, "contemporarily imbued with far-right, populist sentiments." They also qualified Santa Cruz autonomy as a "bourgeois ideology" of the "free market, foreign investment, racism, etc.", which pits the "modern", "whiter" Santa Cruz elite against the short, dark-skinned and anti-capitalist Aymara and Quechua peoples of the western region of Bolivia.[15]
Dispute over pipeline route[edit]The dispute arose in early 2002, when the administration of President Jorge Quiroga proposed building the pipeline through neighboring Chile to the port of Mejillones, the most direct route to the Pacific Ocean. However, antagonism towards Chile runs deep in Bolivia because of the loss of Bolivia's Pacific coastline to Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879''1884).
Bolivians began campaigning against the Chilean option, arguing instead that the pipeline should be routed north through the Peruvian port of Ilo, 260 km further from the gas fields than Mejillones, or, better yet, first industrialized in Bolivia. According to Chilean estimates, the Mejillones option would be $600 million cheaper. Peru, however, claimed the difference in cost would be no more than $300 million. Bolivian proponents of the Peruvian option say it would also benefit the economy of the northern region of Bolivia through which the pipeline would pass.
Supporters of the Chile pipeline argued that U.S. financiers would be unlikely to develop processing facilities within Bolivia.
Meanwhile, the Peruvian government, eager to promote territorial and economic integration, offered Bolivia a special economic zone for 99 years for exporting the gas at Ilo, the right of free passage, and the concession of a 10 km² area, including a port, that would be exclusively under Bolivian administration.
President Jorge Quiroga postponed the decision shortly before leaving office in July 2002 and left this highly contentious issue to his successor. It was thought Quiroga did not want to jeopardize his chances of re-election as president in the 2007 elections.
After winning the 2002 presidential election Gonzalo Snchez de Lozada expressed his preference for the Mejillones option but made no "official" decision. The Gas War led to his resignation in October 2003.
Escalation[edit]The social conflict escalated in September 2003 with protests and road blockages paralyzing large parts of the country, leading to increasingly violent confrontations with the Bolivian armed forces. The insurrection was spearheaded by Bolivia's indigenous majority, who accused Snchez de Lozada of pandering to the US government's "war on drugs" and blamed him for failing to improve living standards in Bolivia. On September 8,650 Aymaras started a hunger strike to protest against the state detention of a villager. The man detained was one of the heads of the village, and was imprisoned for having sentenced to the death penalty two young men in a "community justice" trial. On September 19, the National Coordination for the Defense of Gas mobilized 30,000 people in Cochabamba and 50,000 in La Paz to demonstrate against the pipeline. The following day six Aymara villagers, including an eight-year-old girl, were killed in a confrontation in the town of Warisata. Government forces used planes and helicopters to circumvent the strikers and evacuate several hundred foreign and Bolivian tourists from Sorata who had been stranded by the road blockades for five days.
In response to the shootings, Bolivia's Labor Union (COB) called a general strike on September 29 that paralyzed the country with road closures. Union leaders insisted they would continue until the government backed down on its decision. Poorly armed Aymara community militias drove the army and police out of Warisata and the towns of Sorata and Achacachi, equipped only with traditional Aymara sling shots and guns from the 1952 Bolivian National Revolution. Eugenio Rojas, leader of the regional strike committee, declared that if the government refused to negotiate in Warisata, then the insurgent Aymara communities would surround La Paz and cut it off from the rest of the country '-- a tactic employed in the Tºpaj Katari uprising of 1781. Felipe Quispe, leader of the Indigenous Pachakuti Movement (MIP), stated that he would not participate in dialogue with the government until the military withdrew from blockaded areas. The government refused to negotiate with Quispe, claiming that he did not have the authority to represent the campesino movement.
As the protests continued, protesters in El Alto, a sprawling indigenous city of 750,000 people on the periphery of La Paz, proceeded to block key access routes to the capital causing severe fuel and food shortages. They also demanded the resignation of Snchez de Lozada and his ministers, Yerko Kukoc, Minister of Government, and Carlos Snchez de Berza­n, Minister of Defense, who were held responsible for the Warisata massacre. Protesters also voiced their opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement that was at the time under negotiation by the US and Latin American countries (since the November 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas, it has been put on stand-by).
Martial law in El Alto[edit]On October 12, 2003 the government imposed martial law in El Alto after sixteen people were shot by the police and several dozen wounded in violent clashes which erupted when a caravan of oil trucks escorted by police and soldiers deploying tanks and heavy-caliber machine guns tried to breach a barricade.
On October 13, the administration of Snchez de Lozada suspended the gas project "until consultations have been conducted [with the Bolivian people]." However, Vice President Carlos Mesa deplored what he referred to as the "excessive force" used in El Alto (80 dead) and withdrew his support for Snchez de Lozada. The Minister of Economic Development, Jorge Torrez, of the MIR party, also resigned.
The United States Department of State issued a statement on October 13 declaring its support for Snchez de Lozada, calling for "Bolivia's political leaders [to] publicly express their support for democratic and constitutional order. The international community and the United States will not tolerate any interruption of constitutional order and will not support any regime that results from undemocratic means".[16]
On October 18, Snchez de Lozada's governing coalition was fatally weakened when the New Republic Force party withdrew its support. He was forced to resign and was replaced by his vice president, Carlos Mesa, a former journalist. The strikes and roadblocks were lifted. Mesa promised that no civilians would be killed by police or army forces during his presidency. Despite dramatic unrest during his time in office, he respected this promise.
Among his first actions as president, Mesa promised a referendum on the gas issue and appointed several indigenous people to cabinet posts. On July 18, 2004, Mesa put the issue of gas nationalization to a referendum. On May 6, 2005, the Bolivian Congress passed a new law raising taxes from 18% to 32% on profits made by foreign companies on the extraction of oil and gas. Mesa failed to either sign or veto the law, so by law Senate President Hormando Vaca Diez was required to sign it into law on May 17. Many protesters felt this law was inadequate and demanded full nationalization of the gas and oil industry.
The 2005 Hydrocarbons Law[edit]On May 6, 2005 the long awaited Hydrocarbons Law was finally approved by the Bolivian Congress. On May 17 Mesa again refused to either sign or veto the controversial law, thus constitutionally requiring Senate President Hormando Vaca D­ez to sign the measure and put it into effect.
The new law returned legal ownership to the state of all hydrocarbons and natural resources, maintained royalties at 18 percent, but increased taxes from 16 to 32 percent. It gave the government control of the commercialization of the resources and allowed for continuous government control with annual audits. It also ordered companies to consult with indigenous groups who live on land containing gas deposits. The law stated that the 76 contracts signed by foreign firms must be renegotiated before 180 days. This has not yet been done. Protesters argued that the new law did not go far enough to protect the natural resources from exploitation by foreign corporations, demanding a complete nationalization of the gas and process in Bolivia.
Due to the uncertainty over renegotiation of contracts, foreign firms have practically stopped investing in the gas sector.[17] Foreign investment virtually came to a standstill in the second half of 2005. Shortages in supply - very similar to those observed in Argentina after the 2001 price-fixing - are deepening in diesel, LPG, and begin to be apparent in natural gas. The May''June social unrest affected the supply of hydrocarbons products to the internal market, principally LPG and natural gas to the occidental region. Brazil implemented a contingency plan - led by the Energy and Mines Minister - to mitigate any potential impact from gas export curtailment. Although the supply was never curtailed, the social unrest in Bolivia created a strong sensation that security of supply could not be guaranteed. Occasional social action has continued to affect the continuity of supply, especially valve-closing actions.
Carlos Mesa's June 2005 resignation[edit]The protests[edit]Over 80,000 people participated in the May 2005 protests. Tens of thousands of people each day walked from El Alto to the capital La Paz, where protesters effectively shut down the city, bringing transportation to a halt through strikes and blockades, and engaging in street battles with police. The protestors demanded the nationalisation of the gas industry and reforms to give more power to the indigenous majority, who were mainly Aymaras from the impoverished highlands. They were pushed back by the police with tear gas and rubber bullets, while many of the miners involved in the protests came armed with dynamite.
May 24, 2005 More than 10,000 Aymara peasant farmers from the twenty highland provinces came down from El Alto's Ceja neighborhood into La Paz to protest.
On May 31, 2005 residents of El Alto and the Aymara peasant farmers returned to La Paz. More than 50,000 people covered an area of nearly 100 square kilometers. The next day, the first regiment of the National Police decided, by consensus, not to repress the protests and were internally reprimanded by the government.
On June 2, as the protests raged on, President Mesa announced two measures, designed to placate the indigenous protesters on the one hand and the Santa Cruz autonomy movement on the other: elections for a new constitutional assembly and a referendum on regional autonomy, both set for October 16. However, both sides rejected Mesa's call: the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee declared its own referendum on autonomy for August 12, while in El Alto protesters began to cut off gasoline to La Paz.
Approximately half a million people mobilized in the streets of La Paz, on June 6, and President Mesa subsequently offered his resignation. Riot police used tear gas as miners amongst the demonstrators traditionally set off dynamite in clashes near the presidential palace, while a strike brought traffic to a standstill. However, Congress failed to meet for several days owing to the "insecurity" of meeting as protests raged nearby. Many members of Congress found themselves unable to physically attend the sessions. Senate President Hormando Vaca D­ez decided to move the sessions to Bolivia's alternate capital, Sucre, in an attempt to avoid the protesters. Radical farmers occupied oil wells owned by transnational companies, and blockaded border crossings. Mesa ordered the military to airlift food to La Paz, which remained totally blockaded.
Vaca Diez and House of Delegates president, Mario Coss­o, were the two next in the line of succession to become President. However, they were strongly disliked by the protesters, and each declared they would not accept succession to the Presidency, finally promoting Edwardo Rodriguez, Supreme Court Chief Justice, to the Presidency. Considered apolitical and hence trustworthy by most, his administration was a temporary one until elections could be held. Protesters quickly disbanded in many areas, and like many times in Bolivia's past, major political upheavals were taken as a normal part of the political process.
Caretaker President Rodriguez proceeded to implement the Hydrocarbons Law. The new tax IDH has been levied from the companies that are paying 'under reserve'. A number of upstream gas companies have invoked Bilateral Investment Protection Treaties and entered the conciliation phase with the state of Bolivia. The treaties are a step towards a court hearing before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), dependent of the World Bank, which could force Bolivia to pay indemnities to the companies.
Concerns of possible US intervention[edit]A military training agreement with Asunci"n (Paraguay), giving immunity to US soldiers, caused some concern after media reports initially reported that a base housing 20,000 US soldiers was being built at Mariscal Estigarribia within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia, and 300 km of Brazil, near an airport which could receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguayan Air Forces do not have.[18][19] According to the Clar­n, an Argentinian newspaper, the US military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontera between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina; its proximity to the Guarani aquifer; and, finally, its proximity to Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same "moment that Washington's magnifying glass goes on the Altiplano and points toward Venezuelan Hugo Chvez '-- the regional demon according to Bush's administration '-- as the instigator of the instability in the region" (Clar­n[19]).
Later reports indicated that 400 US troops would be deployed in Paraguay over 18 months for training and humanitarian missions consisting of 13 detachments numbering less than 50 personnel each.[20] The Paraguayan administration as well as Bush's administration denied that the airport would be used as a US military base, or that there would be any other US base in Paraguay.[21][22][23][24]
Other countries[edit]The social conflicts of the last few years have paralyzed Bolivia's political life. The unpopularity of the neoliberal Washington consensus, a set of economic strategies implemented by Gonzalo de Lozada's administration, set the stage for the 2006 election of president Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president.
In the meantime, Chile promptly started to build several coastal terminals to receive shipments of liquefied natural gas from Indonesia, Australia and other sources.[25]
Other South American countries are contemplating other ways to secure gas supplies: one project aims at linking the Camisea gas reserves in Peru to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Linking Pisco (south of Peru) to Tocopilla (north of Chile) with a 1200 km pipeline would cost $2 billion. However, experts doubt the Camisea reserves are enough for all the Southern Cone countries.
Another 8,000 km gas pipeline (Gran Gasoducto del Sur) has been proposed that would link Venezuela to Argentina via Brazil. Its cost is estimated between $8 and $12 billion.
While Argentina and Chile are large consumers of gas (50 percent and 25 percent respectively), other South American countries are a lot less dependent.[9]
Nationalization of natural gas industry[edit]On May 1, 2006 president Evo Morales signed a decree stating that all gas reserves were to be nationalized: "the state recovers ownership, possession and total and absolute control" of hydrocarbons. He thus realized his electoral promises, declaring that "We are not a government of mere promises: we follow through on what we propose and what the people demand". The announcement was timed to coincide with Labor Day on May 1. Ordering the military and engineers of YPFB, the state firm, to occupy and secure energy installations, he gave foreign companies a six-month "transition period" to re-negotiate contracts, or face expulsion. Nevertheless, president Morales stated that the nationalization would not take the form of expropriations or confiscations. Vice President lvaro Garc­a said in La Paz's main plaza that the government's energy-related revenue will jump to $780 million next year, expanding nearly sixfold from 2002.[2] Among the 53 installations affected by the measure are those of Brazil's Petrobras, one of Bolivia's largest investors, which controls 14% of the country's gas reserves.[26] Brazil's Energy Minister, Silas Rondeau, reacted by considering the move as "unfriendly" and contrary to previous understandings between his country and Bolivia.[27] Petrobras, Spain's Repsol YPF, UK gas and oil producer BG Group Plc and France's Total are the main gas companies present in the country. According to Reuters, "Bolivia's actions echo what Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez, a Morales ally, did in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter with forced contract migrations and retroactive tax hikes '-- conditions that oil majors largely agreed to accept." YPFB would pay foreign companies for their services, offering about 50 percent of the value of production, although the decree indicated that companies at the country's two largest gas fields would get just 18 percent.
Negotiations between the Bolivian government and the foreign companies intensified during the week leading up to the deadline of Saturday October 28, 2006. On Friday an agreement was reached with two of the companies (including Total) and by the deadline on Saturday the rest of the ten companies (including Petrobras and Repsol YPF) operating in Bolivia had also come to an agreement. Full details of the new contracts have not been released, but the objective of raising government share of revenues from the two major fields from 60 percent to 82 percent seems to have been achieved. Revenue share for the government from minor fields is set at 60 percent.[28]
During the six month negotiation period talks with the Brazilian company Petrobras had proven especially difficult. Petrobras had refused raises or reduction to a mere service provider. As a result of stalled talks Bolivian energy minister Andres Soliz Rada resigned in October and was replaced by Carlos Villegas.[29] "We are obligated to live with Brazil in a marriage without divorce, because we both need each other", said Evo Morales in the contract signing ceremony underlining the mutual dependency of Brazil on Bolivian gas and of Bolivia on Petrobras in gas production.[30]
Reaction[edit]On December 15, 2007 the regions of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Pando declared autonomy from the central government. They also moved to achieve full independence from Bolivia's new constitution.[31]
The Protesters[edit]Miners[edit]Miners from the Bolivian trade union Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) have also been very active in the recent protests. Recently they have been active against propositions to privatize pensions. They have been known for letting off very loud explosions of dynamite in the recent protests.
Coca farmers[edit]Shortly after the law passed, Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian, cocalero, and leader of the opposition party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), took a moderate position calling the new law "middle ground". However, as the protests progressed, Morales has come out in favor of nationalization and new elections.
Protesters in Cochabamba[edit]Oscar Olivera was a prominent leader in the 2001 protests in Cochabamba against the privatization of water in Bolivia and has also become a leading figure. Specifically the protesters in Cochabamba, Bolivia's fourth largest city, have cut off the main roads in the city and are calling for a new Constituent Assembly as well as nationalization.
Indigenous and peasant groups in Santa Cruz[edit]Indians in the eastern lowland department of Santa Cruz have also become active in the recent disputes over nationalization of the gas and oil industry. They are composed of indigenous groups such as the Guaran­, Ayoreo, Chiquitano and the Guyarayos, as opposed to the highland Indians (Aymara and Quechua). They have been active in recent land disputes and the main organization representing this faction is known as the "Confederacion de pueblos indigenas de Bolivia" (CIDOB). The CIDOB after initially offering support to MAS, the party of Bolivia's new president, have come to believe that they were deceived by the Bolivian government. [5] The MAS, which is based in the highlands, is no more willing to grant them voice than the previous governments whose power was also based from the highlands. Another smaller more radical group called the "Landless Peasant Movement" (MST) which is somewhat similar to the Landless Workers' Movement in Brazil, and is composed mainly of immigrants from the western part of the country. Recently, Guaran­ Indians from this group have taken oil fields run by Spain's Repsol YPF and the United Kingdom's BP and have forced them to stop production.
Felipe Quispe and peasant farmers[edit]Felipe Quispe is a radical Aymara leader who wishes to return control of the country from what he sees as the "white elite" to the indigenous Aymaran people who make up the majority of the country's population[citation needed]. Therefore, he is in favor of an independent "Aymaran state". Quispe is the leader of the Pachakutik Indigenous Movement, that won six seats in the Congress and the secretary general of the United Peasants Union of Bolivia in the 2002 Bolivian elections.
See also[edit]References[edit]^"Nationalization of Gas!". Znet. May 4, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-24. ^ ab"Bolivia's military takes control of gas fields". Reuters. May 2, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2010. ^United States Department of Energy^US DoE^Businessweek^Luiz Rodolfo Landim Machado (October 2002). "Facing Market Risks in Brazil: the experience of the Bolivia - Brazil Gas Pipeline"(PDF). In IEA '' OLADE Latin American Conference on Cross-Border Gas Trade. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2006-05-02. ^NYMEX Gas Futures^Globe and Mail^ abcde"Evo Morales et l'arme du gaz" (in French). Le Monde. January 25, 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-25. ^US DOE, gasandoil.com^BBC Bolivia gas move sparks hope and unease^[1]^[2]^(Spanish)[3]^"Left-Indigenous Struggles in Bolivia: Searching for Revolutionary Democracy", by Jeffery R. Webber, Monthly Review September 2005^"Call for Respect for Constitutional Order in Bolivia". United States Department of State. October 13, 2003. Retrieved April 2006. ^Central Intelligence Agency^"U.S. Military Moves in Paraguay Rattle Regional Relations". International Relations Center. December 14, 2005. Retrieved April 2006. ^ abUS Marines put a foot in Paraguay, El Clar­n, September 9, 2005 (Spanish)^link Clar­nlink Americaslink Brazzil-Mag^link UltimaHora^The President of Paraguay similar statements link Mexico^Further clarifications were made by US Embassy in Paraguay in July 2005 link US-Embassy-Paraguay, and repeated by other sources "Generally between 10 to 20 people, will train with their Paraguayan military colleagues during periods of two to six weeks....The American soldiers will not be deployed for extensive periods of time, and there will never be but a few dozen soldiers in Paraguay for no more than 45 days...The exercises will end by December 2006."^link IRC-Onlinelink Alternet^Mundo Mar­timo (2008-01-23). "Terminal de gas y combustibles listo para operar" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-03-12. Terminal de gas y combustibles listo para operar ^"Bolivia gas under state control". BBC News. May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-02. ^"Ministro de Minas e Energia classifica decreto boliviano de "inamistoso"" (in Portuguese). Folha de Sao Paulo. May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-02. ^"Morales' Gas Nationalization Complete". London: Guardian. October 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-31. [dead link]^"Bolivia agrees new energy deals". London: BBC News. October 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-31. [dead link]^"Morales' Gas Nationalization Complete". London: The Guardian. October 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-31. [dead link]^Four Bolivian regions declare autonomy from governmentExternal links[edit]
NDI Board of Directors | NDI
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Senior Advisory CommitteeWilliam V. AlexanderMichael D. BarnesJohn BrademasBill BradleyEmanuel Cleaver, IIPatricia M. DerianChristopher J. DoddMichael S. DukakisMartin FrostRichard N. GardnerRichard A. GephardtPeter G. KellyPaul G. Kirk, Jr.Elliott F. KulickJohn LewisDonald F. McHenryAbner J. MikvaCharles S. RobbEsteban E. TorresAndrew J. Young
2016 Bolivia Referendum on Presidential Term Limits | NDI
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:33
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Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:32
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Evo Morales Says US Funding Campaign Against His Re-election | News | teleSUR English
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:31
On Feb. 21, Bolivians will decide whether to modify the 2009 constitution to allow President Evo Morales to run again in 2019.
'‹Bolivian President Evo Morales affirmed that the campaign defending the ''no'' in the referendum on his right to re-election was funded from the United States, in an interview with the private television channel ATB that aired on Sunday night.
''I am not sure whether (the money) is sent by the corrupted criminals who fled to the United States, or by the U.S. State Department,'' he said, referring to the Bolivian opposition leaders that have found shelter in the United States, including fugitives from justice like former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (1993-1997 and 2002-2003), his former adviser Carlos Sanchez Berzain and Manfred Reyes Villa.
According to Morales' information, the country's right-wing sectors are fighting each other over this alleged financial support.
The Bolivian opposition is constantly in touch with the U.S. National Democratic Institute, he said, adding that the U.S. embassy also treated many Bolivian politicians as their ''pets.''
OPINION: The Future of Latin American Post-Neoliberalism
Moreover, the U.S. embassy recommended that Bolivian opposition leaders avoid appearing publicly during the campaign to emphasize the rejection of Morales' re-election mainly comes from the population.
''Our campaign is not only against the Bolivian right but the international right,'' Morales said, adding that the United States has plotted to end leftist governments in Argentina and Venezuela, as well as Bolivia.
The Bolivian people are set to vote in a referendum Feb. 21 to decide whether Morales can run for a third full term in 2019 or not. Electoral authorities ruled that his first, partial, term from 2006 to 2010 did not count toward the two-term limit because it took place during the previous constitution.
RELATED: Bolivia to Investigate Alleged US Plot to Kill Evo Morales
NED gives Bolivia News Agency $500.000
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:54
From:
To:
NED-Bolivia's socialist government seeks referendum approval; U.S. intervenes >> peoplesworld
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:52
The government of Bolivian President Evo Morales is seeking popular approval for a referendum that would, by modifying Bolivia's constitution, enable Morales and Vice-President lvaro Garc­a Linera to stand for re-election twice rather than once. The vote takes place on February 21st.
Over ten years, Morales and his supporters have molded a socialist and anti-imperialist government whose future will be affected by the outcome. Morales is Bolivia's longest serving president and first indigenous one.
Defenders of the old order in Bolivia, U.S. officials among them, have mobilized to defeat the referendum. Success on their part would surely trigger concerns that Bolivia may be joining Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil as nations where formerly bold progressive political movements are now beleaguered.
Former Cuban National Assembly head Ricardo Alarcon testified recently to the achievements of Bolivia's present government: "Never has so much been done, in such a short time, for the emancipation of a people subjugated for centuries."
The government has reduced poverty by 25 percent, extreme poverty by 50 percent. The minimum wage has increased 87.7 percent. The state's budget for healthcare rose from $195 to $600 million between 2005 and 2012. Death rates for babies and mothers giving birth are down. Nationalization of hydrocarbon extraction enabled funding for such changes.
The average annual economic growth rate over ten years has been 5.1 percent, the best in the region. Now internal economic demand is "the principal motor of economic growth." Inflation in Bolivia is the second lowest in South America.
And, according to Argentinian journalist Juan Manuel Karg, 40 percent of the population receives social security benefits - retirees, students, and mothers of young children. The government has refashioned 700 education centers and enrolled 955,000 people in literacy programs. In 1992 owners of large land holdings controlled almost 40 percent of all land. By 2015, however, the state had charge of 24.6 percent of land, and indigenous peoples, 23.9 percent. Owners of small and mid-sized holdings controlled 18.2 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
Karg adds that "Bolivia has become an influential voice in Latin America," especially in alliances dedicated to regional unity. Morales himself has gained worldwide attention as an advocate for sustainability and environmental protection. Additionally, most Bolivians are indigenous and the multi-national Bolivian state - as per Bolivia's 2009 Constitution - ensures indigenous representation in parliament, judicial autonomy for indigenous peoples, and a measure of self-government.
But good news like this is hardly on the agenda of a right-wing opposition mobilized to defeat the upcoming referendum. Big landowners, manufacturers, and oil industry heads are backing the campaign. They are alleging governmental corruption and ties to narco-trafficking. Earlier during Morales' tenure, many of those forces resorted to violence and racism as they propelled a separatist project aimed at regaining control of Bolivia's productive eastern territories.
Buenos Aires academician Atilio Bor"n diagnoses a revived anti-Morales conspiracy. "Its epicenter is in Washington, D.C.," he says. His claim is that the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, affiliates of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), are "financing opposition political activities." These U.S. agencies arrange for the "arrival of agents and advisors ready to instruct youths, women, and indigenous people on themes relating to democracy."
Bor"n reports that the U.S. embassy in La Paz released $200,000 toward turning back the referendum. Bor"n names U.S. agents and the right-wing Bolivian politicians they are involved with. In December 2015, the Bolivian government expelled U.S. Vice Consul Ari Avidar; as a CIA agent he allegedly was holding "clandestine meetings with leaders of social movements." A report in 2015 described a recent sting operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) resulting in indictments against Bolivian military and police officials.
President Morales in 2008 expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the DEA; he accused both of trying to undermine his government. According to Bor"n, "between 2003 and 2014 the NED dispensed $7.7 million to 20 institutions in Bolivia, always with political objectives." The sum included a half million dollars paid to Bolivia's National Press Association.
An International Committee of Latin American intellectuals, artists, and political writers recently announced its support for Morales in the upcoming referendum. In January the Congress of the Bolivian Workers' Central (COB), the country's largest labor organization, backed the "struggle to build a new socialist society," called for "an alliance of peasants and workers," and expressed support for the "constitutional modification."
The stakes are high. Ricardo Alarc"n recalls Tupak Katari. Spanish colonialists tortured and killed the indigenous leader in 1781, but not before he proclaimed, "I will die but I will return and be millions." Alarc"n suggests that "Evo and his people have converted that prophecy into a reality."
Photo: AP
Bolivian constitutional referendum, 2016 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:47
A constitutional referendum will be held in Bolivia on 21 February 2016.[1] The proposed constitutional amendments will remove presidential term limits, allowing President Evo Morales and Vice President lvaro Garc­a Linera to run for another term in office in 2019.[2][3]
Background[edit]Article 168 of the constitution allows these officeholders to put themselves forward for re-election only once. The proposed constitutional reform was passed by a combined session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly on 26 September 2015, by a vote of 112 to 41.[4][2] Law 757, which convenes the February referendum, was passed 113 to 43, and was promulgated on 5 November 2015.[3]
References[edit]
Bolivia's Morales loses ground ahead of Feb. 21 referendum: poll | Reuters
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:46
Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during a ceremony to mark 10 years of his administration during a session of congress in La Paz, Bolivia January 22, 2016.
Reuters/Bolivian Presidency/Handout via Reuters
LA PAZ Bolivian President Evo Morales has lost ground in his effort at changing the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, according to a poll published on Friday.
Bolivians will vote in a Feb. 21 referendum on the change in law proposed by the leftist leader. Forty percent of respondents in a survey of 2,368 voters said they would vote against the proposal, up from 37 percent in the same poll last month.
The survey was conducted by pollster Equipos Mori for the Bolivian newspaper El Deber. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. It showed 40 percent planned to vote to allow Morales to run again, inching down from 41 percent last month.
Eleven percent said they were undecided on how they will vote in the referendum, which will ask a simple yes or no to the question of the constitutional reform. Seven percent declined to answer the poll question, saying they preferred to keep their intentions private. Two percent said they planned to cast blank or null ballots.
A "yes" win would hand Morales the opportunity to extend his brand of "indigenous socialism" under which he has nationalized key industries including oil and gas to finance welfare programs that have slashed poverty, and build roads and schools.
A decade of robust growth has been powered by Bolivian natural gas exports, but tumbling global energy prices risk straining Morales' development model.
Vice President lvaro Garc­a Linera told local television on Thursday that pro-referendum campaigners would go door to door drumming up support.
"We have a week to go and we are very confident that in these meetings, in the street, in the media, on the radio and on social media we can guarantee a strong victory for the 'Yes'," he said.
(Reporting by Daniel Ramos, writing by Hugh Bronstein, Editing by W Simon)
Section 508
ADA SECTION 508-Bob Dunning: This order is outrageous, disturbing, unbelievable
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 16:16
If you are the parent or guardian of a child or children who currently attend any public school in the state of California, or if you are the parent or guardian of a child or children who attended a public school in the state of California at any time since Jan. 1, 2008, I hope you are sitting down.
Based on an order by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division, your child's confidential records are about to be released to a couple of outfits known as the ''Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association'' and the ''Concerned Parents Association.''
This is all the result of a lawsuit filed by both the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and the Concerned Parents Association (the plaintiffs) against the California Department of Education (the defendant).
According to the court, ''Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant, the California Department of Education (CDE), has violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ('IDEA'), among other related laws, by failing to monitor, investigate, provide services to, and enforce the rights of children with disabilities consistent with its obligations under the law. The Defendant denies these allegations.''
So far, so good. There's nothing wrong with a group of concerned parents suing the state when they feel the state is not doing its job.
But here's where things get interesting, especially if you're a parent who cares about confidentiality for your children.
''As part of this lawsuit, and in order to prove their claims,'' the Court goes on, ''Plaintiffs have requested that the California Department of Education disclose subject to a Protective Order discussed below, information that it stores on databases and network drives that contain protected personal information of children, including children with disabilities, and children who are attending, or who have attended, a California school at any time since January 1, 2008.''
In other words, all children who are attending or have attended school since Jan. 1, 2008, not just children with disabilities.
Note that the court uses the term ''California school'' without qualification. Does that mean public and private schools? Does it mean just elementary and high schools or also Cal, Stanford, UC Davis and St. Mary's? I wrote ''public schools'' earlier only because I assumed only public schools were involved. Now I'm not so sure.
In any regard, here's why you'd better be sitting down.
''Examples of information that is stored on CDE's databases and network drives includes name, Social Security number, home address, demographics, course information, statewide assessment results, teacher demographics, program information, behavior and discipline information, progress reports, special education assessment plans, special education assessments/evaluations, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), records pertaining to health, mental health and medical information, student statewide identifiers (SSID), attendance statistics, information on suspensions and expulsions, and results on state tests.''
Not to mention what your kid had for lunch last Friday.
For those who think the state can't possibly be forced to reveal such information to an unincorporated association of concerned parents in Morgan Hill, think again.
Notes the Court: ''The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ('FERPA'), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ('IDEA'), are federal laws that protect the privacy of student records. These laws permit the disclosure of these records to comply with a Court order.''
There you have it. The Court can, indeed, order the California Department of Education to turn over every scrap of information about your kid to a bunch of complete strangers from Morgan Hill to use as they see fit.
The words ''outrageous,'' ''disturbing'' and ''unbelievable'' come to mind, along with that favorite word of lawyers the world over, ''egregious.''
Ah, but the Court in its wisdom has issued a Protective Order that ''prevents any party from disclosing confidential information acquired in the course of the lawsuit, including student records, to anyone other than the parties, their attorneys and consultants, and the Court. None of the information may be used outside the context of this lawsuit, and the parties are required to either return or destroy the confidential records at the conclusion of the lawsuit. No student's identifying records will be disclosed to the public.''
Of course they won't. Security leaks never happen, do they?
When major corporations such as Bank of America, Sony, Target and many others have to admit that their security systems have been breached despite their million-dollar efforts at confidentiality, we're supposed to trust a collection of parents from Morgan Hill to have enough systems in place that none of this personal and confidential information will ever leak out?
If you don't want any of this to happen to you or your kids, ''you must notify the Court by April 1, 2016,'' by either writing a letter to Judge Mueller, or by printing out a form from the CDE's website and mailing it to the Court.
''DO NOT CALL THE COURT,'' we are warned in all caps. ''THE COURT WILL NOT ACCEPT PHONE CALLS ABOUT THIS MATTER.''
If I were a party to this ruling I wouldn't be taking phone calls either.
''Failure either to submit an Objection Form or letter to the Court by April 1, 2016, will be deemed a waiver of your right to object to the disclosure of your or your child's protected personal information and records as described above.''
Which is exactly backward. Instead of having to ''opt out'' of something you had nothing to do with and to which you have not been personally notified, you should have to affirmatively ''opt in'' before any personal and confidential information can be released.
As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no plan to personally notify any of us who are affected by this ruling about our rights. We, as parents, haven't been notified by anyone and I'm sure you haven't either.
Which means many thousands of records will be released to the Morgan Hill folks without anyone even knowing about how they could have prevented it.And that's the biggest crime of all.
'-- Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]
Stop The ADA Trolls | The New Hofstader.com
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 13:45
IntroductionOver the past year or so, an increasingly large number of people have come to me with the suggestion that I write an article about various ADA and Section 508 related lawsuits going on around the country. ''Lawyers ain't my beat,'' I'd tell them. And, in fact, I tend to agree with the plaintiffs in such matters as I honestly believe that ADA, 508, CVAA and other legislation designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities should be enforced to the fullest extent of the law. However, I accept that the best path to this goal is not through aggressive lawsuits but, rather, constructive engagement and community participation.
Over the past month or so, I learned that there is more than one kind of web accessibility lawsuit and that NFB is not the worst offender in this space. I've criticized NFB on this blog and BlindConfidential before it and will continue to do so until they get technology right but, compared to the law firm, non-profit and two specific accessibility contract shops assaulting corporate America with a blitzkrieg of lawsuits in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, NFB legal actions seem relatively benign. That good old Gonz Blinko would actually believe that NFB are actually moderates on the legal spectrum surprises even me.
But, First An ApologyAs I was doing the research for this article, I was exposed to a lot of rumors and innuendo. Much of it accused the good people at the SSB BART Group of using lawsuits as a marketing tool. I heard this from a number of individuals whose opinions I tend to respect and, as they did, fell for the rumor without seeing any actual evidence. I felt angry over this issue and blasted SSB publicly on Twitter without even spending the time to talk to a single person there, some of whom I've known for more than a decade. I'm typically the guy asking others for evidence to support their arguments and, with zero evidence in hand, I ran with a rumor that is not true in the slightest and I'm sorry for having done so.
On Friday, I talked to Jonathan Avila, Chief Accessibility Officer at SSB on the phone and apologized to him personally. Here, I apologize to all of the people at SSB for my public statements on Twitter and recant any implication that SSB is involved with the ADA trolls and the unethical practices described in the rest of this article.
I've talked to a number of people in the corporate and government sectors who have worked with SSB, they have an outstanding reputation for delivering excellent work and are considered one of the top players in the accessibility business. If you're looking for an accessibility contractor, please do consider working with SSB if their skills are compatible with the work you need done.
Constructive Engagement: The Right Way To Affect ChangeA number of years ago, my friend Laura Legendary wrote a blog article titled, Tools Of Choice In The Fight For Equal Access: Sledgehammer Versus Constructive Engagement in which, without naming names, she called out some of the ideas I and some of my accessibility activist pals had argued with her about. Then and to a lesser extent today, I found the legal landscape regarding enforcement of ADA and other regulations designed to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities to be terribly frustrating; we had the laws on the books but the Obama administration was refusing to enforce them.
At the same time, I found that the NFB strategy reminded me of the mobsters I grew up around in New Jersey back in the sixties and seventies, NFB shows up with three options, ''you can give us a huge contribution and we'll describe you as an accessibility good guy no matter how you behave (Google, Oracle and Uber come to mind), you can hire an expensive accessibility contractor or we will sue you in federal court.'' I looked at the long term results of NFB actions and found that Amazon and others with whom NFB settled led to zero actual accessibility improvements in the technologies sold by the defendants. Thus, given that the NFB strategy was an abject failure, I assumed that the only path to an accessible future would require that Attorney General Holder would take up the cause of enforcing our civil rights, something that never actually happened.
Then came Laney Feingold and an actual process for constructive engagement that has delivered consistently excellent outcomes. I do not know Laney personally and we've only recently been introduced by email by a mutual friend. What I do know about Attorney Feingold's work is that, in Bank Of America, Wells Fargo and, most recently, Denny's, her projects result in massive positive changes on real world web sites at huge corporations. As far as I can tell, none of Laney's projects in this area ever ended in litigation but, rather, all of the parties involved worked together to deliver a truly accessible experience to users of the web sites in which her process of constructive engagement was used to affect change.
I'm hoping to interview Laney sometime in the near future and will write an entire article about her and her process sometime later this year. But, based entirely on my observations of her accessibility projects from the perspective of a distant outsider, she seems to have invented a model that actually works and I'm now convinced that her way is the best path for the future.
Introducing The ADA Troll ProtagonistsRobert Jahoda and Michelle SipeI don't know Robert Jahoda but, based on public records, he is suing Foot Locker, the National Basketball Association and 64 others for having an unspecified set of accessibility problems on their web sites. His case against Foot Locker mentions a half dozen different web sites owned by the footwear giant so I must assume he's obsessed with sneakers as his legal claim states that he's a customer of all six of them. I'll also assume he's a big basketball fan and, I agree, I've had problems with NBA technology as well.
Meanwhile, a woman named Michelle Sipe is suing Toys 'R' Us and Patagonia for accessibility issues as well. I find it to be a credible argument that she probably has tried to use both of the sites in her complaint and likely found some things frustrating or even impossible to use.
Based on what we will learn from the discussion of the Mazzio's case later in this article, I'm fairly certain that Robert and Michelle were approached by Carlson after the law firm had started its legal assault on the four companies mentioned in these suits. I don't think Robert and/or Michelle are bad people, they probably got a call from Carlson and were offered a chunk of the $175,000 demanded in the proposed settlement agreements and took the bait and joined the lawsuit as named plaintiffs.
All four of these cases and more were filed in the US Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
What Do These Cases Have In Common?Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela LLPIn all of these cases, the law firm representing the plaintiffs is Carlson Lynch Sweet and Kilpela LLP based in western Pennsylvania. And, if you download the >zip file containing the public information, you will notice that all of the suits mentioned above are identical to each other with the minor differences being in the names of the plaintiffs and defendants and the specific web sites in dispute. As a matter of shorthand, I will use the name ''Carlson'' throughout the rest of this article to refer to this unethical law firm.
Bureau Of Internet AccessibilityCarlson has teamed up with a group called [Bureau Of Internet Accessibility (BOIA),](http://www.boia.org/ a group with an accessibility testing tool that claims to test for ADA, 508 and WCAG 2.0. As far as I can tell, it is not used by anyone serious about making their sites accessible. Furthermore, unlike Axe from Deque Systems, the BOIA tool is proprietary and it is impossible for a third party to look at the rules it is using to determine if a web site is accessible or not. Take a look at the BOIA web site and you'll notice that it offers no corporate resume, no success stories, no references to clients with whom they've worked. As far as anyone can tell, BOIA is a full time trolling service.
As BOIA has its web site set up to accept a URL to generate a report about a site's accessibility, I would recommend that no one use it to test against their own pages. As you will read further in this article, BOIA is a trolling service. If you put in your own URL and it finds accessibility problems, they may send the report onto Carlson to automatically generate a lawsuit against you. I've absolutely no evidence that, indeed, that BOIA does this but do you trust a service who is working to sue so many other companies all at once?
Criterion 508The other thing these cases have in common is that the defendants have all been presented with identical proposed settlement agreements that, in addition to BOIA, recommend an accessibility contract company called Criterion 508 Solutions. Criterion 508 does have a laundry list of clients on its site and has definitely done some accessibility work in the past but, when I called top accessibility managers at a number of the clients listed on the Criterion 508 site, I was told that the only work for which they have a good reputation is doing PDF and other document remediation and that they've no reputation whatsoever regarding Internet accessibility. Digging a bit deeper, I talked to people at some of the top accessibility contract service companies and none of them can remember having ever come up against Criterion 508 in a competitive bid process. I'm not saying that Criterion 508 does poor work, I've no evidence of that but I've no evidence they've done any good work either. What we have learned, however, is that they are working with BOIA and Carlson to use lawsuits and threats thereof as a marketing tool for their business. In my mind and I hope that of my readers as well, this is an entirely unethical way of selling contract services and it will not result in improved accessibility for those of us who actually need it.
The Carlson StrategyThreaten First, Ask For Accessibility LaterCarlson starts the legal process by sending an email to a company it's targeting with an attached proposed settlement agreement that is in my mind entirely outrageous. it contains demands related to ADA violations and, for some strange reason, demands unrelated to disability discussing the privacy implications of having JavaScript running on the allegedly offending web sites. As privacy is definitely not my beat, I'll stick to the accessibility issues and leave the other topics to bloggers who cover that sort of thing.
What Do The Lawsuits Demand?Based upon the proposed settlement agreements that I've read and the specifics of the lawsuits that have been filed, hence, are in the public record, each of these suits are demanding:
That the defendants (Foot Locker, Patagonia, NBA and Toys 'R' Us in the examples I have open in Preview right now) must pay the plaintiffs (Robert, Michelle, etc.) approximately $175,000 to pay to have someone (BOIA or Criterion 508) periodically run an automated accessibility test tool against the offending web site. *That the defendants use an accessibility contractor ''approved by the plaintiffs'' effectively insisting that all of this work be done by Criterion 508 and/or BOIA, a pair of companies with questionable reputations regarding web accessibility. *That defendants pay ''approved contractor'' to perform accessibility audits for what seems to be an indefinite period into the future, costing what is apparently whatever the contractors choose to charge. *That the allegedly offending web sites are responsible for the accessibility of third party software that they may have embedded on their sites. The proposed settlement agreements includes holding the defendants responsible for code from Google and a number of other companies not party to the suit. If Carlson wants to get web accessibility at Google, maybe it's Google whom they should sue. *There are a number of other demands, some of which I agree with like ensuring that defendants' web sites be WCAG 2.0 AA compatible. But, while I agree with this goal, the tactics used by Carlson, et al, BOIA and Criterion 508 to achieve this goal is the wrong way to affect change. I'll even go so far as to say that this is a pure shakedown of otherwise respectable US corporations that is being perpetrated by a hyper-aggressive law firm and a pair of low profile, low end and mostly unknown contract service businesses.
The Counter SuitIn at least one case in which Carlson, BOIA and Criterion 508 have threatened a lawsuit, the company on the receiving end of the suit filed a counter complaint and, from the text in the public record involving this case, we can learn just how insidious this strategy really is. The first company with enough courage to counter sue that I was able to find is called Mazzio's LLC who has filed a counter suit in the Federal District Court For The Northern District Of Oklahoma against the law firm of Carlson, et al and names each of the partners in the Pennsylvania firm as individual defendants and includes a NY legal group called KamberLaw, LLC as well. It is because of Mazzio's counter-suit that so much of what I wrote above came into the public record as their claim and supporting documents, including the emails from Carlson, the proposed settlement agreement and related documents are all available online but aren't exactly easy to find. It's all in the .zip file that you can download and read.
[Mazzio's](http://www.mazzios.com is an Italian restaurant, delivery and catering service in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Taking a quick look at its web site, I found a few accessibility problems but nothing that would prevent a blind person from enjoying the full benefit of their services. The problems I found included a few unlabeled images and some other minor stuff that a little contract business like our 3 Mouse Technology would probably fix for a few hundred bucks or any of the larger powerhouse accessibility contractors could probably have tested and fixed in a matter of a few hours. At most, I'd think that Mazzio's could have its site made perfectly accessible for no more than a few thousand dollars by any credible contractor in this field.
The Mazzio's counter suit claims:
On January 4 of 2016, Mazzio's received a letter from the law firm Carlson, et al and KamberLaw (the defendants in the counter suit) asserting that they represented an individual or group thereof with a disability who could not use the Mazzio's web site, thus constituting a violation of ADA. *The letter from the defendants did not disclose which people they represented, just that some unnamed ''people with disabilities'' were making some demands. I think this one speaks to running a web testing tool as a web crawler that then auto generates a letter from the law firm as, quite obviously, no individual had made this claim. *The defendants offered a settlement agreement to which Mazzio's could either agree or face a lawsuit. Plain and simply, this is a shakedown at this point, no named plaintiffs and a request for a lot of money ''in lieu of litigation.'' *Mazzio's has repeatedly requested that Carlson provide the name of an actual plaintiff and received a response that said that a plaintiff would be named only after negotiations had reached a point where they (Carlson) had deemed such was appropriate. I'm no lawyer but I do understand the English language pretty well and my reading of this document suggests the Carlson is fishing for lawsuits without a single blind or otherwise vision impaired plaintiff involved. Carlson seems to be using the questionable BOIA testing tool to generate lawsuits and they'll find a plaintiff later. This is beyond unethical, it's probably an illegal harassment of a business and an unacceptable practice if increasing accessibility is one's true goal. *Mazzio's asserts that, because at this time, there is in fact no specific federal standard defining what is and what is not required regarding a web site under ADA, that being held to an undefined standard is impossible (something to which I must also agree). Furthermore, Mazzio's asserts that Carlson intentionally wrote their threat letter with the intention of making this fact ambiguous in order to mislead Mazzio's into settling. Again, this is an example of using a law firm to bully and shakedown what seems to be an honest business trying to do it's best in this situation. *Because Carlson refused to provide the name of a plaintiff, they may be threatening to sue Mazzio's fraudulently as there is no evidence that Carlson has been retained by a plaintiff making a claim in this case. Which is to say, no blinks were involved, just a law firm and an automated web testing tool of dubious reputation. *Mazzio's asserts that, as their is no actual plaintiff, that under Oklahoma law the letter sent threatening this action and offering a settlement agreement asking Mazzio's to pay a real lot of money is, indeed, fraud. I'm not a lawyer and haven't even set foot in Oklahoma in more than 30 years, so can't speak to the validity of a detail in such but if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck'... *I could add more from the Mazzio's counter suit but you can read it by downloading this zip file, everything to do with the Mazzio's case is in a subfolder in this file.
What is clear both from reading the suits brought by Carlson and in Mazzio's counter-suit is that ADA Trolls are making a mess of the accessibility landscape, are operating what is tantamount to a ''protection racket'' and that they're doing it to a countless number of businesses around the nation in order to profit themselves, BOIA and Criterion 508.
What Can We Do To Stop This?On Friday, my good friend Sina Bahram, head of [Prime Access Consulting]https://pac.bz) made an offer on Twitter to provide anyone on the receiving end of one of these ADA trolling letters with a free one hour consultation. I would expect that any credible accessibility consulting company would do the same and, while I've verbals from a number of people atop other excellent accessibility consulting companies to do the same, this article is being written as they work out their internal policies on these matters and I cannot make any announcements regarding such here but will in the coming weeks when other companies join Sina by making a similar offer.
I am willing to help organize an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of true experts in the field of accessibility who may be willing to sign onto such a thing. In the past, I've organized a brief in Apple v. Microsoft and in Lotus v. Borland, lawsuits worth billions of dollars. In those, I organized more than 100 top computer scientists from around the world to assert that user interface copyrights were invalid. We won that issue in the US Supreme Court. I'm no lawyer but I can be an organizational monster.
Please, if you've ideas on how to help stop this trolling, include them in the comments section or send them to me via the contact form on this site.
What To Do If You're Being Harassed By Carlson, et alThe first thing I would recommend is writing to me via the contact form on this site so we can add your company's name to the list of those being harassed by Carlson, BOIA and Criterion 508. I can't do much in terms of legal work but I think it is important that we show the world just how many companies are being harassed, perhaps fraudulently if the claims made by Mazzio's Italian Restaurant are correct. At this point, we do not know the full extent of Carlson's attacks. Estimates run between hundreds to thousands of such threat letters have been sent so far. If you've received one, you're not alone and there are people out here willing to help you work to a successful conclusion without being forced to accept the demands of these trolls.
Next, if you have true accessibility problems, find yourself a really good remediation company. There are a number of excellent accessibility contract service businesses including Deque Systems, [Prime Access Consulting,](https://pac.bz [SSB,](http://www.ssbbartgroup.com The Paciello Group (TPG) and WebAIM [who, do outstanding work on a daily basis, have long track records and can and will be able to deliver excellent outcomes. If you need such services for your company or organization, I recommend looking into all of these groups as each brings its own set of specific skills and one or more of them will be able to provide your group with the results you need if, indeed, you actually need formal remediation services.
Finally, if you can afford to, fight back as Mazzio's Italian Restaurant is doing. I've included all of the public records we could find regarding the Mazzio's case against Carlson, et al in the .zip which should make it a bit easier on your lawyers as Mazzio's has done some excellent work from which your legal team can crib. I don't know anything about Mazzio's other than what I've read in their legal documents. If you live in or near Tulsa, please patronize their business, they're fighting a tough legal battle against ADA trolls and deserve your support.
ConclusionsCarlson, BOIA and Criterion 508 are using ADA as a tool to attempt to use the legal system to extort large sums of money from businesses who may have some to many accessibility problems on their web sites. I don't excuse the offending web sites for being inaccessible but I am entirely confident that the path to success in accessibility is not paved in legal documents. If the Mazzio's claims are true, something I believe is the case, Carlson is using fraudulent tactics to bully companies into a large cash settlement that may not result in anyone actually improving their accessibility. Because of the Mazzio's case, we've been able to see Carlson's tactics but we've no public sources that show us the interactions between Carlson and a company who may attempt a negotiated settlement to avoid litigation. If you've access to any documents, emails or other correspondence related to this case, keep in mind that I'm the guy who ran a blog with the word ''Confidential'' in its name and that I've never revealed a source.
I find Carlson, BOIA and Criterion 508 to be acting unethically and I believe they are doing more to damage any possibility of an accessible future than anything else. A ''shoot first'' policy causes immediate distrust and forces those of us working in the field to be held to far higher levels of secrecy regarding our clients, something that makes a public beta period and showing off other pre-release technology difficult to impossible.
Fighting for an accessible future is hard; doing so with maniacs like Carlson, BOIA and Criterion 508 makes it harder for everyone who actually cares about getting it right.
Related
Blind Beaver County Man Continues His Lawsuit Frenzy Filing A 66th Case Alleging ADA Violations | BeaverCountian.com
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 13:35
Federal Courthouse in Pittsburgh / photo by Jim HendersonA Beaver County man filed his 66th lawsuit seeking class-action status in federal court last week, this time against the car parts store Pep Boys.
Robert Jahoda of Ambridge, who is legally-blind, alleges he was unable to shop on PepBoys.com because the online store does not make its website accessible to the seeing impaired. Jahoda alleges the company is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by not implementing technical measures that allow its website to be interfaced by screen reader software which converts text to audio for those with visual impairments.
Jahoda filed similar lawsuits last month against other companies including Brooks Brothers, the Hardrock Cafe, and Foot Locker, all alleging their websites are not readily accessible to the blind.
In September of last year, Jahoda filed a federal lawsuit against Redbox, alleging movie rental kiosks operated by the company rely on touch-screen interfaces which are impossible for the visually impaired to use without assistance of a sighted person.
The Beaver Countian first wrote about Robert Jahoda back in April of 2012, when the man filed several lawsuits against area banks alleging their drive-through ATM machines violated provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jahoda alleged at the time that the ATM machines did not permit the visually impaired to withdraw money without assistance.
It appears in every case filed before July of this year the companies reached confidential settlement agreements with Jahoda to end the litigation.
Robert Jahoda has been represented in all of his lawsuits by the Pittsburgh law firm of Carlson Lynch Ltd.
Lawsuits filed by Jahoda include:
THE HOME SAVINGS AND LOAN COMPANY OF YOUNGSTOW, OHIO filed 03/26/12 closed 07/18/121ST NATIONAL COMMUNITY BANK filed 03/28/12 closed 05/15/12CHARLEROI FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK filed 04/02/12 closed 04/27/12FIDELITY BANK, PaSB filed 04/10/12 closed 05/21/12COMMERCIAL BANK & TRUST OF PA filed 04/12/12 closed 07/10/12FIRST COMMONWEALTH BANK filed 04/13/12 closed 07/11/12PNC BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION filed 04/16/12 closed 02/01/13CITIZENS BANK OF PENNYSLVANIA filed 04/17/12 closed 12/10/12FIRST NIAGARA BANK, N.A. filed 04/18/12 closed 07/19/12HUNTINGTON NATIONAL BANK filed 04/19/12 closed 08/23/12NORTHWEST BANCORP, INC. filed 05/04/12 closed 09/10/12CENTURY HERITAGE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION filed 05/09/12 closed 06/06/12DOLLAR BANK filed 05/15/12 closed 10/22/12MARS NATIONAL BANK filed 05/15/12 closed 08/07/12USX FEDERAL CREDIT UNION filed 05/17/12 closed 10/23/12APOLLO TRUST COMPANY filed 05/23/12 closed 02/19/13FARMERS & MERCHANTS BANK OF WESTERN PA filed 05/23/12 closed 09/06/12ELDERTON STATE BANK filed 05/29/12 closed 09/07/12STANDARD BANK PASB filed 06/08/12 closed 09/07/12GATEWAY BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA filed 06/18/12 closed 08/20/12FIFTH THIRD BANK filed 10/12/12 closed 05/02/13ESB BANK filed 10/16/12 closed 02/19/13FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA filed 10/17/12 closed 02/14/13FIRST FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK filed 10/31/12 closed 12/28/12WESBANCO BANK, INC filed 11/01/12 closed 02/14/13FRICK TRI-COUNTY FCU filed 11/02/12 closed 03/19/13FREEDOM UNITED FCU filed 11/05/12 closed 02/14/13WEST-AIRCOMM FCU filed 11/05/12 closed 03/14/13WASHINGTON COMMUNITY FCU filed 12/04/12 closed 02/14/13WEST VIEW SAVINGS BANK filed 12/06/12 closed 01/30/13UNITED COMMUNITY FCU filed 12/12/12 closed 05/08/13UNION BUILDING AND LOAN SAVINGS BANK filed 12/17/12 closed 02/14/13PROGRESSIVE-HOME FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION filed 12/19/12 closed 04/02/13COMPASS SAVINGS BANK filed 12/20/12 closed 08/26/13WESTCO FCU filed 12/28/12 closed 04/15/13AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS, INC. filed 09/18/13 closed 01/17/14BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY WAREHOUSE CORPORATION filed 09/27/13 closed 05/16/14J.C. PENNEY COMPANY, INC. filed 09/30/13 closed 01/06/14J. CREW GROUP, INC. filed 10/02/13 closed 03/14/14ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CO. filed 10/03/13HHGREGG, INC. filed 10/11/13 closed 08/28/14DSW INC. filed 10/14/13 closed 02/28/14ULTA SALON, COSMETICS & FRAGRANCE, INC filed 10/25/13 closed 02/28/14THE TJX COMPANIES, INC. filed 10/29/13 closed 02/04/14HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC. filed 11/21/13 closed 11/03/14OFFICE DEPOT, INC. filed 12/03/13 closed 02/05/14STERLING JEWELERS, INC. filed 12/04/13 closed 06/18/14THE YANKEE CANDLE COMPANY, INC. filed 12/30/13 closed 04/25/14EXPRESS, INC. filed 01/03/14 closed 03/27/14WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC filed 01/15/14 closed 04/03/14CHICO'S FAS, INC. filed 01/15/14 closed 03/17/14ZALE CORPORATION filed 01/17/14 closed 07/08/14J. CREW GROUP, INC. filed 01/17/14 closed 03/14/14FRED MEYER JEWELERS filed 01/20/14 closed 01/06/15BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP, INC. filed 01/20/14 closed 07/07/14L BRANDS, INC. filed 01/23/14 closed 06/20/14C & J CLARK AMERICA, INC. filed 01/23/14 closed 06/20/14ASCENA RETAIL GROUP, INC. filed 01/23/14 closed 07/25/14GANDER MOUNTAIN COMPANY, INC filed 02/04/14 closed 11/21/14SPRINT CORPORATION filed 02/11/14 closed 06/03/14REDBOX AUTOMATED RETAIL, LLC filed 09/17/14 closed 06/03/15FOOT LOCKER, INC. filed 07/31/15BROOKS BROTHERS, INC. filed 08/10/15HARD ROCK CAFE INTERNATIONAL, INC. filed 08/27/15THE PEP BOYS '' MANNY, MOE & JACK filed 08/27/15
'Stevie Wonder isn't blind': Grammys 2016 add new fuel to truthers' theory
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 18:11
Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, and "Hamilton" are the big winners of the 2016 Grammys. Watch performances by Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, the Eagles, and more. Photo: Getty
Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix present the award for Song of the Year. Picture: Getty
THE Stevie Wonder truthers raged on with their theory that the Superstition singer is not actually blind following his appearance at the Grammy Awards yesterday.
Wonder, 65, took to the stage to pay tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire's Maurice White with Pentatonix and present the Grammy for Song of the Year (which went to Ed Sheeran for Thinking Out Loud).
This isn't the first time kooks have brought up the 'Stevie Wonder isn't really blind' conspiracy theory. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Before announcing the winner, Wonder struggled with the envelope '-- ''Pop it open here '... what the hell?'' he said '-- before joking that the Grammys audience couldn't read braille. ''You can't read it, you can't read braille, nananana.''
Well if Gina's dad says it ...Source:Twitter
*Cue X-Files theme*Source:Twitter
Wonder has been the subject of a conspiracy theory after video surfaced of the singer catching a falling microphone during a performance of The Beatles' classic Hey Jude.
NEHEP Planning Committee | National Eye Institute
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 17:46
NEHEP is supported by a Planning Committee. The NEHEP Planning Committee is composed of experts in eye health, health education, and health disparities. Planning Committee members bring a vast array of knowledge about eye health and experience with populations at higher risk for eye disease. Planning Committee responsibilities include:
Recommending NEHEP program priorities.Advising the overall development, implementation, and evaluation of NEHEP activities.Reviewing NEHEP materials and resources.Recommending new opportunities for NEHEP to achieve its goals and objectives.Facilitating cooperation among the NEHEP Partnership.Current Planning Committee members include:
Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D.Department of OphthalmologyBascom Palmer Eye Institute
Richard S. Baker, M.D.Jules Stein Eye InstituteUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Mario C. Browne, M.P.H., CHESOffice of Health Sciences DiversityUniversity of Pittsburgh
Hanna Rodriguez Coleman, M.D.New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia
Robert A. Copeland, Jr., M.D.Department of OphthalmologyHoward University
CHAIR:Suber S. Huang, M.D., M.B.A.Retina Center of Ohio
Judy E. Kim, M.D.Medical College of Wisconsin
Janet Leasher, O.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.O.College of Optometry/College of Osteopathic MedicineNova Southeastern University
Michael Maldonado, O.D.Paul L. Foster School of MedicineTexas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Jullia A. Rosdahl, M.D., Ph.D.Duke Eye CenterDuke University
James Tsai, M.D.New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mt. Sinai
Mark E. Wilkinson, O.D.Department of Ophthalmology & Visual SciencesUniversity of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
About NEI | National Eye Institute
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 17:46
NEI MissionAs part of the federal government's National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute's mission is to ''conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.''
NEI AccomplishmentsBecause of continued Congressional and public support, our national investment in vision research has led to major advances in the prevention and treatment of eye diseases and visual disorders. Read more about our advances.
Budget and CongressThe NEI budget is approximately $675 million (FY2014). The NEI budget requests are submitted to Congress with other NIH institutes as part of the President's budget request in February. See our Congressional Justifications.
History of the NEINEI was established on August 16, 1968 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 90-489. Read more about our history.
Advisory CommitteesDonating to the NEIThe National Eye Institute (NEI) is a Federal Agency of the United States Government and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt under 26 U.S.C. 501c(3). Contributions to the NEI are tax-deductible pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 170 Read more about making donations.
Staff
Vaccine$
Vaccine Combats Effects of Dangerous Opioids
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 23:48
With use of synthetic opioid "designer drugs" on the rise, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have a new strategy to curb addiction and even prevent fatal overdoses.
In a new study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the scientists report successful preclinical tests of a vaccine that prevents the synthetic opioid fentanyl--which some drug dealers now use as a mix-in or substitute for heroin--from reaching the brain.
"We want to stay one step ahead of these clandestine laboratories making illegal opioids for black market demand," said Kim Janda, the Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI. "The importance of this new vaccine is that it can block the toxic effects of this drug, a first in the field."
The new vaccine targets an opioid called fentanyl, a painkiller 50 to 500 times more potent than morphine. Over the years--to skirt U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration detection--many illicit laboratories have tweaked fentanyl's molecular structure, selling fentanyl variants under names such as "China white" and acetyl fentanyl, the latter of which was responsible for a cluster of deaths recently in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.
With so many variants on the market, users have no way of knowing the strength of the drugs they are using, which can lead to fatal overdoses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 200 percent increase in overdose deaths involving opioids from 2000 to 2014, citing the availability of fentanyl and fentanyl variants as a major contributor.
While there are treatments such as naloxone for opioid overdose or methadone for addiction, Janda noted that many people still relapse.
"These treatments are working for some people, but there is clearly a gap that needs attention," he said.
The new vaccine takes advantage of the body's own immune system. The vaccine cocktail contains a molecule that mimics fentanyl's core structure. When given the vaccine, the immune system is "trained" to produce antibodies to neutralize it.
The idea is that when a person then tries to get high from fentanyl or its variants, their antibodies bind to the drug and keep it from reaching the brain. In theory, blocking the ability to feel a high could stop drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior.
Janda and his colleagues tested the vaccine in mouse models of fentanyl addiction and overdose. Mice were given three vaccinations, each two weeks apart--like a series of booster shots. By studying antibodies in the blood, the researchers saw that the immune system was successfully neutralizing fentanyl for months after the last injection. In further tests, the researchers observed that vaccinated mice given fentanyl did not demonstrate "high" behavior (such as ignoring discomfort).
In fact, a 30-fold greater-than-normal dose of fentanyl was necessary for the drug to activate neural circuits in vaccinated mice. Remarkably, antibodies generated by the vaccine protected against overdose, neutralizing lethal levels of fentanyl.
"To the best of our knowledge, our active vaccine is the first to ablate lethal doses of any drug of abuse," said Atsushi Kimishima, co-first author of the new study with TSRI graduate student Paul Bremer.
"This surprised us the most," added Bremer.
Importantly, the potential vaccine protects against virtually all fentanyl derivatives and does not cross-react with other drug classes, such as oxycodone. This means those vaccinated would still have painkiller options in medical situations.
The researchers said the next step in this research is to design an even more potent vaccine, perhaps a combined anti-fentanyl and heroin vaccine. "Since heroin is often cut with fentanyl derivatives, a combination vaccine targeting both opioids would be worth investigating," said Bremer.
U.S., Brazilian officials say no scientific basis for theory that chemicals '-- rather than the Zika virus '-- is to blame for birth defects - The Washington Post
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 04:06
While the rest of the world is focused on hunting down mosquitoes with Zika, a group of doctors and researchers in Argentina has published a report making the provocative argument that a pesticide, rather than the virus, is to blame for the alarming number of birth defects being reported in Brazil.
The University Network of Environment and Health wrote that pyriproxyfen, which is added to drinking water to stop the development of mosquito larvae, may be causing something in the fetal development process to go awry when ingested by pregnant women and may be leading to the babies being born with microcephaly -- a condition defined by abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
[WHO: $56 needed million to fight Zika outbreak in coming months]
That idea is one of a number of alternate theories about the cause of the crisis that has been making its way around social media in recent days and has prompted a swift rebuttal from health officials from the United States, Brazil and other regions.
While authorities still can't definitively make a causal link between Zika and microcephaly, they have reiterated that the evidence -- including the presence of the virus in amniotic fluid and the strong geographic and temporal correlation between the cases and infections -- is strong and it's growing. The theory that pyriproxyfen is the cause, however, has no scientific basis, they said.
Still, at least one Brazilian state is taking the paper seriously enough to suspend its use of the chemical. Rio Grande do Sul Health Secretary Joao Gabbardo said that the "suspicion" of a correlation is enough, according to teleSUR, a pan''Latin American TV station sponsored by various governments. "We cannot run that risk," Gabbardo said.
At a workshop on Zika hosted by the National Academy of Sciences Tuesday, experts discounted the link between larvicide and possible correlation to microcephaly.
''I think there's very limited application of larvicide, especially in the poor communities in Brazil where a lot of these cases are occurring,'' said Scott Weaver, who heads the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
Albert Ko, chair of the department of epidemiology of microbial diseases at Yale School of Public Health, who is conducting work on Zika in Brazil, said there is ''very minimal'' use of larvicide in Brazil's northeast, hardest hit by the Zika epidemic. Larvicide is used in the rural and agricultural areas and not the urban centers where the Zika cases started.
Read more:
Why Zika is "much more insidious, cunning and evil" than Ebola
Beyond Zika: The map of things that keep NIH's infectious diseases director up at night
Miscarriages reported in 2 U.S. women with Zika virus, CDC says
NIH officials accelerate timeline for human trials of Zika vaccine, saying they will now begin in the summer
FAQ: What is Zika, and what are the risks as it spreads?
Ariana Eunjung Cha is a national reporter. She has previously served as the Post's bureau chief in Shanghai and San Francisco, and as a correspondent in Baghdad.
Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on health.
WHO Releases $56 Million Zika Virus Strategic Response Plan
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:21
The Zika virus is expected to spread all countries and territories in the Americas where the mosquito that carries the virus is found.
In response to the ever-growing concerns about the impacts of the neonatal malformations and neurological conditions associated with the Zika virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) released Tuesday its Strategic Response and Joint Operations Plan that details the plan by the U.N. agency to respond to the public health emergency.
According to the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, the aim of the plan is to ''support to affected countries, build capacity to prevent further outbreaks and control them when they do occur, and to facilitate research that will help us better understand this virus and its effects.''
The WHO says the plan will cost US$56 million to implement. According to a press release the U.N. agency is presently funding its Zika related work through an ''emergency contingency fund'' but will require donors to commit funding.
RELATED: UN Rushes to Respond to Zika Virus as Health Emergency Spreads
The plan warns that ''epidemics of Zika virus disease may occur globally since environments where mosquitoes can live and breed are increasing due to recent trends including climate change, rapid urbanization and globalization.''
However, the WHO seems to reserve its greatest concern for the Americas, where the Zika virus is expected to spread all countries and territories where the mosquito that carries the virus is found.
The Zika virus has been known to researchers since 1947 but was not regarded as a risk until recently as it was generally associated with mild symptoms.
However the suspected link between Zika and microcephaly, a disorder that causes abnormally small heads in newborns, as well as Guillain-Barr(C) syndrome led the WHO to declare the Zika virus a publc health emergency of international concern.
''Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,'' reads Chan's foreword to the plan.
Research into this suspected link and the subsequent response is considered to the be the ''over-arching goal'' of the plan,
The WHO also seeks to communicate the risks of Zika in affected countries, provide care to the affected, and implement preventive measures.
The U.N. agency has previously criticized ''reactive'' strategies that spray insecticides in emergencies and has called for the return of large-scale mosquito eradication strategies.
Big Data is for Little Minds
Twitter's Profiling Data Means Little (by @baekdal) #blog
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 13:43
Oh my... Twitter's US Head of Ad Sales just confirmed that their 'data' isn't worth that much.
For years, we have been told that the social networks are worth billions of dollars exactly because they have so much data about us. They say that they can use their platforms, the logged-in user profiling and all those other factors to target people with advertising. And, for years, we have been told that this was what made them special, and that without this treasure trove of data the advertising wouldn't work as well.
The problem is that, in most cases, the returns haven't lived up to this promise. We don't really see the conversions we would expect from this amazing data. Instead, most social advertising campaigns seem to perform no better than anywhere else, with the only real difference being the format. Obviously an in-stream ad that matches the other posts (native format) will perform better than a display advertising (banner format).
And Twitter's US Head of Ad Sales have just confirmed this. In an interview with Digiday, he revealed how they are now running ad campaigns to people coming from outside of Twitter (aka not logged in), and that these ads perform the same as Twitter's internal ads.
We can provide the same level of deliverable results that we can with logged-in users.
Think about this for a moment. This means that Twitter's massive trove of profiling data isn't worth anything extra.
Granted, Twitter's non-logged-in ads are not completely untargeted. They instead use Google/Doubleclick to serve those ads. As they say:
The ads that are served to these visitors, mostly target by interest, based on the type of tweet they are viewing. For instance, during the Super Bowl, Marshawn Lynch retired from football and announced it with a tweet.
We do have that understanding of where people are coming from. If they click on a Marshawn Lynch tweet, then we'll make some assumptions ... and we'll develop a profile to serve the most relevant ad possible.
They are interest based.
I have written about this many times before, but lately in "The Uncertain Future of Advertising".
In this article, I talk about how targeting who people are is mostly crap compared to what people are doing. And Twitter now proves this by saying that ads for non-logged in people perform the same as for those who are logged in. They prove that the real metric for advertising is intent based to a far greater extend than being personality based.
But ad companies still goes on to say:
Targeting is one of the biggest demands from advertisers, and the larger the logged-in user base, the better a platform knows its users.
No. Not according to Twitter.
Twitter just said that it doesn't matter if they know their users or not. As long as they know what they are doing, they can deliver just as effective ads. Who people are don't matter that much.
I have seen this for years as a media analyst. All the platforms keep talking how valuable they are because of how much data they have about you and how they can use that to target us. But when we look at the advertising results, the ad performance hasn't gone up.
I will repeat what Twitter said:
We can provide the same level of deliverable results [with interest based ads] that we can with logged-in users [profiling based ads].
Doesn't that make you think?
Mind you, I'm not saying that targeting isn't important. It obviously is. What I am saying is that we need to rethink how we are targeting people.
The way we are doing it now has proven to not work very well, despite what all the ad networks say. We see this not just on Twitter, but everywhere.
And the solution seems very straight forward. We need to refocus how we target people based on each person's actual intent at each specific moment. It doesn't matter, for instance, if a person is profiled to love gardens if he is currently reading about mountain bikes.
The intent of reading about mountain bikes outranks the profiling data by a wide margin.
This is the same that Twitter is now saying. It doesn't matter who you are if they know you are reading a Tweet about the Super Bowl. The intent of what people are doing at that moment outranks whatever it is they are doing in general.
In comparison, below is what ads look like when you are just focusing on who people are.
I have shown this example before. I visited House & Gardens to read about kitchen ideas, and the ad displayed to me was about a Star Wars game.
I do love Star Wars, and I do play computer games, so yes, in terms of personality, the ad matches my person. But, my intent is focused on kitchen ideas. I don't care about this game at that moment.
This is why profile based advertising perform no better than other types of ad targeting. The profile is irrelevant unless it matches the intent. Or worse, it's an annoying distraction that people will use an ad-blocker to get rid of.
Caliphate!
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Google will begin showing anti-ISIS ads to counter terrorism | Fox News
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:17
Not all weapons have a trigger, but that doesn't make them any less effective. No, I'm not talking about bombs, but rather about Google's new strategy to use its highly targeted advertising system in the battle against ISIS. Last week, Anthony House, the senior manager for public policy and communications at Google, revealed plans to show users anti-radicalization links in response to terrorism-related searches. The plan was outlined before a committee of the British parliament dedicated to counter-terrorism.
The program is still in its pilot stages, but House is hopeful that this new plan may provide a clever tool that protects the freedom of the Internet while protecting the livelihoods of the world's citizens. "We should get the bad stuff down, but it's also extremely important that people are able to find good information, that when people are feeling isolated, that when they go online, they find a community of hope, not a community of harm," said the Google manager.
The idea, the Internet giant says, is to provide a sort of alternative narrative to those looking for information about extremism. In a statement, a Google spokesperson further explained, "What was referenced is a pilot Google AdWords Grants program that's in the works right now with a handful of eligible non-profit organizations. The program enables NGOs to place counter-radicalization ads against search queries of their choosing."
Related: Google reveals Justin Bieber video is most complained about clip on YouTube
In addition to the counter-terrorism ads, Google is also ensuring that its subsidiary YouTube makes anti-extremism videos more discoverable, further aiding the overall efforts against ISIS and similar groups.
The move comes in the midst of an ongoing debate about the role and responsibility that social media groups should accept in responding to the proliferation of extremism. ISIS is known for leveraging sites like Twitter and Facebook for both recruitment and propaganda purposes, and a recent lawsuit against Twitter suggested that ISIS has only reached its current level of influence with the (albeit unintentional) help of social media platform.
And while Google ads may not be a comprehensive solution, it's certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to using tech to fight the bad guys.
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Google to point extremist searches towards anti-radicalisation websites | UK news | The Guardian
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:16
Extremist-related searches via Google are to be shown anti-radicalisation links. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA
Users of Google who put extremist-related entries into the search engine are to be shown anti-radicalisation links under a pilot programme, MPs have been told by an executive for the company. The initiative, aimed at countering the online influence of groups such as Islamic State, is running alongside another pilot scheme designed to make counter-radicalisation videos easier to find
The schemes were mentioned by Anthony House, senior manager for public policy and communications at Google, who was appearing alongside counterparts from Twitter and Facebook at a home affairs select committee hearing on countering extremism. ''We should get the bad stuff down, but it's also extremely important that people are able to find good information, that when people are feeling isolated, that when they go online, they find a community of hope, not a community of harm,'' he said.
Referring to the use of online counter radicalisation initiatives, House said: ''This year'.... we are running two pilot programmes. One is to make sure that these types of videos are more discoverable on YouTube. The other one is to make sure when people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine.. they also find this counter narrative.''
Google has said that House was referring to a pilot scheme to enable NGOs to place counter-radicalisation adverts against search queries of their choosing.
A spokesperson said: ''The free Google AdWords Grant program is starting a pilot for a handful of eligible non-profits organizations to run ads against terrorism-related search queries of their choosing.''
All three representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook were challenged by MPs about the extent of their companies' roles in combating the use of social media by groups such as Isis for propaganda and recruitment purposes.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked how many people are in the sites' ''hit squads'' that monitor content. He was told Twitter, which has 320 million users worldwide, has ''more than 100'' staff. The Facebook and Google executives did not give a number.
Simon Milner, Facebook's policy director for UK and Ireland, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, said that the site has become a ''hostile place'' for Isis: ''Keeping people safe is our number one priority. Isis is part of that, but it's absolutely not the only extremist organisation or behaviour that we care about.'' He added that Facebook recognised from research that people did not typically get radicalised exclusively online '' rather, it was a combination of real-world and online contact '' and was working as a result with groups in society such as Imams.
The three were also questioned about the thresholds they apply on notifying authorities about terrorist material identified by staff or users. Labour MP Chuka Umunna asked: ''What is the threshold beyond which you decide ... that you must proactively notify the law enforcement agencies?''
House and Milner said their threshold was ''threat to life'', while Nick Pickles, UK public policy manager at Twitter, told the MPs: ''We don't proactively notify. Because Twitter's public, that content is available, so often it's been seen already.''
Pickles also stressed that decisions on whether to notify account holders that they were under investigation were ''context specific'' and insisted that Twitter worked with authorities to ensure that they do not disrupt investigations.
' This article was amended on 3 February 2016 to clarify Google's counter-radicalisation initiatives and to expand a quote from Anthony House and add a response from Google.
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'I am a radicalised goat hell-bent on jihad' '' the FBI's new anti-Isis video game | Technology | The Guardian
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 11:42
The FBI's Slippery Slope: warning '' visuals represent actual game play. Photograph: FBI - Slippery Slope Videogame
I'm a susceptible goat speeding down the path to Islamic extremism, but first I must negotiate the green-and-grey blocks of infidel propaganda. No, wait; I'm a radicalised goat, hell-bent on jihad, but my extremist beliefs are threatened by green-and-grey blocks of debate. Or could it be that I'm trying to master the FBI's virtually unplayable '' it's almost as infuriating as Flappy Bird '' new online anti-extremism game, which involves manoeuvring a wayward goat through a sub-Minecraft-style obstacle course whose metaphorical intent is all but unfathomable?
The game, entitled Slippery Slope, is supposed to educate impressionable kids on ''the distorted logic of blame that can lead a person into violent extremism'', but it's also indicative of how clueless governments can be when it comes to reaching out to the kids. Slippery Slope is part of an online initiative launched by the FBI called Don't Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism, which uses games and quizzes to inform young people about radicalisation.
An as-yet unradicalised goat. Photograph: Getty Images/FuseAs the title suggests, there are more metaphors to unmangle here: a wooden mannequin bound by strings, for example, which you can free by visiting all the site's sections. These are rendered as rooms of a confusing family home, which appears to contain a dingy, windowless lecture room and a serial-killer basement. ''We want teens to apply their critical thinking skills to this issue,'' says an FBI spokesman. Gaming sites have done just that. ''The FBI made a video game and it sucks,'' declared Kotaku. ''Everything about this site screams awful, out-of-touch 90s educational game,'' complained Gizmodo.
This isn't the first attempt to counter the problem of online radicalisation. But compared with the relatively sophisticated methods of Islamic State, whose propaganda techniques include slick recruitment videos and intensive social-media grooming, governments are banging their goats against a grey-green wall. A ''Radicalisation Awareness Information Kit'' issued for use in Australian schools last year was roundly ridiculed for drawing a direct line between violent extremism and ''listening to alternative music''. Similarly, the UK's new ''Educate Against Hate'' website, launched last month, includes among its ''warning signs'' such behaviour as ''excessive time spent online or on mobile phones'' and ''significant change of appearance and/or clothing'' '' also known as normal teenage behaviour.
Can game developers do any better? Fighting fire with fire doesn't seem to be working. Grand Theft Auto was appropriated as a jihadi recruitment ad while anti-terrorist first-person shooter ARMA III was apparently modified by Isis to incorporate jihadi fighters. Perhaps the west's greatest online riposte was the 2014 hit Goat Simulator, in which the player controls, yes, a goat on the rampage across suburbia. It was mindlessly pointless, educationally worthless and guiltily amusing '' all the hallmarks of the healthy democracy we seek to defend. And the graphics were a damn sight better than the FBI's.
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Agenda 2030
France Overcomes Impasse, Appoints New Leader for Historic Climate Deal
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:21
Royal accepted the appointment from President Francois Hollande and will hold the COP21 presidency until the next annual international meeting.
A political deadlock in Paris over who should head up the implentation of the historic climate change deal agreed at the COP21 talks in December with the appointment of French Environment Minister Segolene Royal Wednesday.
The announcement follows Laurent Fabius' resignation as foreign minister and consequently to his position as president of the U.N.'s climate forum.
IN DEPTH: Paris COP21 Climate Talks
Royal accepted the appointment to replace Fabius from President Francois Hollande. She will hold the COP21 presidency until the next annual international meeting on global warming in Marrakech in Morocco.
According to France 24, Fabius ''drew flak'' in the French political arena for seeking to hold onto two high-profile jobs at the same time; he was expected to lead the climate talks until November.
Royal said she will seek to implement the global deal reached last year to shift away from fossil fuels and acknowledged the important role played by her successor in the so-called historic climate agreement under which the 195 U.N. members pledged to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and strive to keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
"I welcome the positive opinion given ... democratizing environmental dialogue, effective and fruitful work."
The new COP21 president is Hollande's former companion and long considered a rival to Fabius. The post she will take from now is unpaid and voluntary. The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC, which convenes at ministerial level once a year.
The Paris Agreement is also meant to bring hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to developing countries that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate change. However, environmental activists have many doubts about its effectiveness.
WATCH: Reaching COP21 Agreement
RELATED: France Accused of COP21 Hypocrisy over Airport Evictions
Shut Up Slave!
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John Kerry, Hollywood Studio Chiefs Meet to Talk ISIS | Variety
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 03:57
Secretary of State John Kerry met with the heads of major studios on Tuesday to talk about how to counter the ISIS narrative.
''Great convo w/ studio execs in LA. Good to hear their perspectives & ideas of how to counter #Daesh narrative,'' Kerry tweeted, along with a photo of his meeting with Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd; Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara; DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg; 20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos; 20th Century Fox Co-Chair Stacey Snider; Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Production; Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley; Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group; Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz; Amblin Partners CEO Michael Wright; and NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer.
Daesh is an acronym for the Arabic phrase ''al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham,'' another term for ISIS. The terrorist group reportedly hates the term, but western leaders have been using it instead of Islamic State.
The meeting was held at Universal Studios, and lasted about 90 minutes.
One attendee who was there said that the executives also exchanged ideas and observations about studio worldwide marketing of movies and TV shows, a way of showing how narrative storytelling can cross cultures. The attendee described part of the gathering as a ''brainstorming session,'' including how to involve storytellers in regions afflicted or threatened by ISIS, as a way to counter the narratives promulgated by the terrorist organization. ''Let's figure out how to involve people who are there,'' the attendee said.
The meeting was organized by Shell, who is chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Kerry is a member of the board. Rick Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, suggested that they set up a meeting with Kerry in Los Angeles after the summit with Asian leaders in Palm Springs this past weekend.
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Twitter Shadowbanning 'Real and Happening Every Day' Says Inside Source
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:19
Rumours that Twitter has begun 'shadowbanning' politically inconvenient users have been confirmed by a source inside the company, who spoke exclusively to Breitbart Tech. His claim was corroborated by a senior editor at a major publisher.
According to the source, Twitter maintains a 'whitelist' of favoured Twitter accounts and a 'blacklist' of unfavoured accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritised in search results, even if they're not the most popular among users. Meanwhile, accounts on the blacklist have their posts hidden from both search results and other users' timelines.
Our source was backed up by a senior editor at a major digital publisher, who told Breitbart that Twitter told him it deliberately whitelists and blacklists users. {snip}
Shadowbanning, sometimes known as ''Stealth Banning'' or ''Hell Banning,'' is commonly used by online community managers to block content posted by spammers. Instead of banning a user directly (which would alert the spammer to their status, prompting them to create a new account), their content is merely hidden from public view.
{snip}
However, Twitter isn't merely targeting spammers. For weeks, users have been reporting that tweets from populist conservatives, members of the alternative right, cultural libertarians, and other anti-PC dissidents have disappeared from their timelines.
Among the users complaining of shadowbans are sci-fi author and alt-right figurehead Vox Day, geek culture blogger ''Daddy Warpig,'' and the popular pro-Trump account Ricky Vaughn. {snip}
The pattern of shadowban reports, which skews towards the alt-right, the populist right, and cultural libertarians, follows close on the heels of Twitter's establishment of a ''Trust and Safety Council'' packed with left-wing advocacy groups, as well as Islamic research centre the Wahid Institute.
{snip}
For close to a year now, Breitbart has covered Twitter's march towards political censorship. In May 2015 Allum Bokhari reported that the site had begun to experiment with shadowbans, ostensibly to protect users from abuse. Then, as now, it was suspected that ''protecting users from abuse'' was an excuse to implement a system that would later be used for political censorship.
{snip}
Original Article
Topics: Censorship
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Students Who Didn't Get Solos in Burlesque Show Claim Victimhood Status - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:14
DreamstimeNorthwestern University students might have just won the everything-is-offensive sweepstakes: student-performers who were denied prominent roles in the campus's burlesque show say the event isn't inclusive enough, and organizers are frantically trying to create a ''safe space'' for them.
The burlesque show is an annual tradition during Northwestern's ''sex week,'' and strives to empower students to think positively about their bodies. Everyone who tries out gets a part in the production, though not everyone gets a solo.
But this year's roster is one big microaggression, according to the students, who claim the directors didn't obey the dictates of diversity when making their selections. As I wrote in a recent column for The Daily Beast:
The directors are working tirelessly to un-hurt everybody's feelings, and have restructured the show to make room for more solo acts. But the irate performers demand more:
''Even though this is something new that we're being confronted with, that doesn't make it any less valid,'' said one student. ''It's very important that we are always consciously thinking of deliberate ways to uplift people that are not uplifted in society.''
Another student said burlesque show rehearsals will strive to be more ''intentionally inclusive'' from now on. The group is apparently drafting some kind of constitution, which will presumably enshrine their right to unimaginable levels of inclusivity.
The irony is undeniable: it used to be conservative groups who threw tantrums about transgressive displays of moral non-conformity. But on today's college campuses, no one is more offended and outraged than the liberal kids.
Generation ''Every Kid Gets a Trophy'' is coming of age, and it isn't pretty.
Robby Soave is a staff editor at Reason.com.
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Free speech shouldn't be more important than child safety
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:15
Free speech fundamentalists argue that any kind of internet regulation is censorship. But for those of us who want to protect the (relative) innocence of 21st Century childhood, internet regulation is more than essential; it may even be our moral duty.
At the end of last year, European Union leaders finalized the text of the General Data Protection Regulation, a comprehensive set of laws initially proposed in 2012, which regulates how companies may use the personal information of European Internet users. Although the GDPR isn't even law yet '-- the European Parliament is set to vote on a proposal in March or April which won't go into effect until 2018 '-- it's already the cause of much moral outrage among the free speech fundamentalists.
''European lawmakers are clearly motivated by a desire to protect the privacy of their citizens. But they should be careful that in trying to achieve that admirable goal they do not harm other rights, like free speech,'' suggests a New York Times editorial.
''Another unworkable provision would require that people younger than 16 have their parents' consent before opening accounts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,'' the editorial adds.
''Unworkable provision''? Is more oversight on children's social media use really that absurd? After all, the protection of children on the Internet is simultaneously woefully inadequate and utterly crucial, and I commend the EU for trying to address the problem.
Today's teenagers are drowning in social media. An April 2015 report by the Pew Research Center states that 92 percent of poll respondents (teens ages 13-17) go online every day, including 24 percent who go online ''almost constantly'' and 56 percent several times a day. The social media platform teens use most is Facebook (71 percent), but Instagram and Snapchat are growing with 52 percent and 41 percent of teens using those apps, respectively.
Turning a blind eyeInstagram, Snapchat and Facebook all claim, of course, that they require a minimum age of 13 to make an account. But there is no age verification protocol in place to ensure that these newly minted users are really as old as they say that they are. Facebook even claims it kicks 20,000 underage users off the site per day. But if they can verify age to kick them out, why can't they verify to keep them out in the first place?
There may be a conflict of interest here. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are free to users. Their revenue is generated by the data that their users unwittingly provide. When gatekeepers' profits are based on the size of their audience, is it any wonder they appear to turn a blind eye to young gatecrashers?
Popular social media platforms certainly pose some dangers to teenagers, but they are by no means the worst offenders when it comes to low-protection, high-risk sites. Dating and hookup sites and apps like Tinder, Grindr and Hot or Not require new users to verify their age. They do this by linking to the user's Facebook account '-- that same one with no measures in place to verify a stated age.
There are children on these sites. In 2014, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen estimated that 7 percent of Tinder users were actually between 13 and 17 years old.
Off the internet, in 'real life,' children are not allowed to buy alcohol or cigarettes. They need to prove their age to get a driver's license, to vote, to watch pornography or excessively violent movies. The self-service checkout at my local grocery store even requires a clerk to verify age when purchasing Sharpies, for crying out loud.
In our age of relentless innovation and disruptive technology, how have we not come up with a way to actually verify someone's age on the internet? Yes, it may be tricky, and undoubtedly the more resourceful members of the younger generation will find ways around it. But that's no reason to not start working on solutions to the problem.
Those who are naysaying the EU's proposal also argue that too many children are already on these sites to start implementing safeguards now.
In response to the EU announcement, Emma Morris, head of international policy of the Family Online Safety Institute, said ''The proposals do not take into account the reality of millions of children that have already become active users of these services. The feasibility of suspending their accounts and banning them from the platforms will be nearly impossible to implement.''
But Morris' argument about feasibility misses the point. If Facebook really is kicking underage users off its site, other social media platforms can certainly follow suit. And while it's true that millions of teenagers are already online, the GDPR, due to go into effect in 2018, will most greatly benefit the teenagers of tomorrow.
The challenges involved with implementing these kinds of measures do not negate the need to make the internet a safer place for its youngest users. We protect children when they need protecting, not when it's ''feasible.''
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Bill criminalizing anal and oral sex passes Michigan Senate / Boing Boing
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:04
Michigan is one of the last states to keep an "anti-sodomy" law on the books, which criminalizes oral and anal sex -- most states dropped theirs when the Supreme Court ruled that law like these are unconstitutional.
Michigan's anti-sodomy law also bans bestiality, lumping together sex between consenting humans and humans who have sex with animals. State Republican Senator Rick Jones has introduced an updated animal cruelty law, SB-0219, which is part of a package of laws aimed at protecting animals from abuse. But it keeps intact the language that bans oral and anal sex between humans.
The bill reads, in part: "A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony" -- that felony is punishable by 15 years in prison.
Jones says he kept the language intact because he thought that his fellow lawmakers and his constituents would have blocked the animal rights reforms if the bill addressed the rights of humans.
The bill has passed the Michigan senate.
"The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won't even get another hearing. It'll be done," Jones (photo, above) said. "Nobody wants to touch it. I would rather not even bring up the topic, because I know what would happen. You'd get both sides screaming and you end up with a big fight that's not needed because it's unconstitutional."
Jones added that he believes the only way to repeal the sodomy ban would be a bill striking all unconstitutional laws from the state's books.
"But if you focus on it, people just go ballistic," he said. "If we could put a bill in that said anything that's unconstitutional be removed from the legal books of Michigan, that's probably something I could vote for, but am I going to mess up this dog bill that everybody wants? No."
Michigan Senate Passes Bill Saying Sodomy Is A Felony Punishable By 15 Years in Prison [John Wright/The New Civil Rights Movement]
(via Reddit)
(Image: State Senator RICK JONES)
Maryland attorney general Brian E Frosh has filed a brief appealing a decision in the case of Kerron Andrews, who was tracked by a Stingray cell-phone surveillance device.
READ THE RESTWhen a UN panel from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Julian Assange's claim that he was being unlawfully detained in London's Ecuadorean embassy, they also stopped Assange from turning himself in to the London police.
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UK politicians green-light plans to record every citizen's internet history | The Verge
Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:45
Surveillance legislation proposed by the UK last November has been examined in detail by the country's politicians, with a new report recommending 86 alterations, but broadly approving the powers requested by the government. The parliamentary committee scrutinizing the draft Investigatory Powers Bill said that companies like Apple and Facebook should not be required to decrypt messages sent on their services, but approved plans to record every UK citizen's browsing history for 12 months. The committee also gave a thumbs up to the bulk retention of data, and the targeted hacking of individuals' computers, known as "equipment interference."
Confusing wording like "data includes any information that is not data"
The Investigatory Powers Bill will be the first legislation to fully codify digital surveillance in the UK, and has been dubbed the "snoopers' charter" by critics (a name used to refer to similar laws rejected a few years ago). The Bill has been attacked by ISPs, privacy advocates, the UN, and the world's largest tech companies, with critics agreeing that the Bill is being rushed into law and that its wording is confusing. Critics point to portions of the law like the statement that "data includes any information that is not data." The UK's home secretary and the Bill's principal architect, Theresa May, later explained that this was supposed to refer to things like paper.
This latest report repeats these complaints, stressing the need for clarity in the Bill's language. However, it also gives its approval to a number of controversial items. The report's authors says that the bulk interception and surveillance should be "fully justified" in a rewrite of the legislation, and notes that although these powers might contravene the EU's right to privacy, "security and intelligence agencies would not seek these powers if they did not believe they would be effective." This is despite the fact that this sort of mass surveillance (already in place, of course, just not officially legislated) has often proven to be ineffective, as with last year's terrorist attacks in Paris.
"The potential value of [internet records] could outweigh the intrusiveness."
Similarly, the committee found no faults with the government's plans to force ISPs to store users' web history for 12 months at a time. This information (known as Internet Connection Records or ICRs) would be available to police without a warrant, with the report noting: "We heard a good case from law enforcement and others about the desirability of having such a scheme. We are satisfied that the potential value of ICRs could outweigh the intrusiveness involved in collecting and using them."
Evidence submitted to the committee pointed out that these records would reveal "sensitive information" about citizens' political, religious, and sexual preferences, as well their health and daily activities, while ISPs noted that storing this data securely would be a "technical challenge." Experts also testified to the difficulty of sorting this data, as many apps like Facebook and Twitter keep a near-constant connection to the internet, and internet users can access sites they're not aware of. One expert noted that he created a blog with a "tiny one-pixel image in the corner" that showed up as Pornhub.com on visitors' internet history.
Good news for American tech giants
By comparison, the committee were much more wary of the UK's desire to access encrypted data, including chat logs from apps like Apple's iMessage and Facebook's WhatsApp. "The Government still needs to make explicit on the face of the Bill that [internet companies] offering end-to-end encrypted communication or other un-decryptable communication services will not be expected to provide decrypted copies of those communications if it is not practicable for them to do so."
Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter all submitted evidence to the committee saying the proposed legislation would be harmful, impacting individuals' privacy while emboldening more authoritarian regimes like Russia and China to demand similar access to users' data. Apple submitted evidence separately, although CEO Tim Cook also took the time to personally criticize the Bill, saying: "If you halt or weaken encryption, the people that you hurt are not the folks that want to do bad things. It's the good people. The other people know where to go."
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Migrants
Austria Reports Rise in Crime After Germany Begins Rejecting One in Ten Migrants at the Border
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:15
Austria has reported a spike in crime after Germany began turning away hundreds of asylum seekers from its border.
Some areas have been described as no-go zones, especially for women, with one teenage girl saying she was now 'terrified' to leave the house.
Passengers are also asking officials to accompany them onto platforms at one major train station because they fear being attacked.
According to the latest reports, one in 10 of those trying to reach Germany are being sent back and are now stranded in Austria.
In the northern Austrian town of Scharding, a popular crossing point, officials said 300 people a day were being rejected.
Many of these are drifting to other parts of the country like the nearby Linz train station, where police reportedly said many of those causing trouble have come from Morocco.
Local media reports that the area has become an almost no-go area.
One father has written an open letter to the regional governor Josef Puehringer and to police saying his 16-year-old daughter is scared to go out alone.
In the letter, which has gone viral, he wrote: 'My daughter is 16 and is terrified when she has to come through Linz train station in the evening.
'As a result, we have now arranged a travel group with other parents.
'My wife and I went to see it for ourselves. We travelled the same route that our daughter did and we found out that it was even worse than she described.
'There was not a policeman in sight and in a country like Austria it cannot be the case that our children are scared going to and from work.'
Austrian train service security spokesman Joachim Zandl said: 'Especially with late trains, there are increasingly passengers that ask us to accompany them on the platforms because they are afraid.'
It comes after Berlin approved a series of measures aimed at making Germany less attractive, particularly to economic migrants.
The move includes classifying Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as 'safe' origin countries''a category which means their citizens would not usually gain asylum.
Instead they are being sent back to the places where they crossed.
Those being turned back at the border also include those who have tried to get into Germany with stolen or fake passports.
The German U-turn is a major embarrassment for Austrian Chancellor Werner Feyman who insisted in October that it would not be a problem.
He told local media: 'The captain has the ship under control. Angela Merkel keeps her word.'
Austria has largely served as a corridor into neighbouring Germany for the hundreds of thousands of people, many of them Syrian refugees, who have streamed into its territory since the two countries threw open their borders to them in September.
It has, however, taken in a similar number of asylum seekers to Germany in proportion to its far smaller population, and the coalition government has said it will not be able to cope if the influx continues unabated.
With European measures to address the continent's migration crisis facing mounting delays and public support for the far right having risen, Vienna is turning to a 'Plan B' aimed at stemming the flow of people without going through Brussels.
It has already said it will limit asylum applications to less than half last year's total, and last week Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told Macedonia to be ready to 'completely stop' the flow of migrants across its southern border, adding that Austria would soon reach its 'maximum' intake.
Original Article
Topics: Crime, Europe, Immigration
Spring Could Bring a Fresh Surge of Refugees. But Europe Isn't Ready for Them.
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 07:15
After an unparalleled tide of asylum seekers washed onto European shores last summer and fall, the continent's leaders vowed to use the relative calm of winter to bring order to a process marked by chaos.
But with only weeks to go before more favorable spring currents are expected to trigger a fresh surge of arrivals, the continent is no better prepared. And in critical respects, the situation is even worse.
Ideas that were touted as answers to the crisis last year have failed or remain stuck in limbo. Continental unity lies in tatters, with countries striking out to forge their own solutions''often involving a razor-wire fence. And even the nations that have been the most welcoming toward refugees say they are desperately close to their breaking point or already well past it.
The result, analysts say, is a continent fundamentally unequipped to handle the predictable resurgence of a crisis that is greater than any Europe has faced in its post-Cold War history.
{snip}
On Thursday, European leaders will have one last opportunity to reckon with the crisis before the pace of new arrivals inevitably begins to climb again in the spring. But few have any expectations that this week's summit will succeed where countless others before it have failed.
{snip}
The numbers themselves are already of an entirely new magnitude: Although arrivals are down from the height of the crisis last fall, the number of people who crossed the sea to reach Europe in the first six weeks of the year''around 75,000''is 25 times what it was during the same period last year. More than 400 have drowned along the way.
On the Greek islands, the most common European landing spot for people fleeing war and oppression in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, thousands have arrived even on days when the rough winter seas have been churned by gale-force winds.
But once the asylum seekers have landed in Europe, the continent still has no coherent system for managing the flows. Just three out of an intended 11 ''hot spots''''locations in Italy and Greece where those deemed likely to receive asylum will be separated from those expected to be denied''were up and running at the start of the week. A quota system that was intended to evenly distribute 160,000 refugees across the continent has similarly foundered: Fewer than 500 people have taken part. Countries in eastern and central Europe, meanwhile, have boycotted the program.
With countries improvising their own responses to the mass migration, the most basic tenet of Europe's post-Cold War identity''that national leaders should act collaboratively to reach continent-wide solutions to common problems''is being called into question as never before.
{snip}
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who on Monday called Europe ''defenseless and weak'' in stopping what he regards as an Islamic invasion, has called for the construction of razor-wire fences along Greece's northern borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia.
Such a barrier is already going up on the Greek-Macedonian border, a major transit point for those heading farther north. Even governments regarded as reasonably pro-refugee say that border will soon need to be sealed.
{snip}
Original Article
Topics: Europe, Immigration
LGBBTQQIAAP
The gay community needs to deal with its misogyny problem
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 19:09
Stephen Fry has been widely accused of misogyny after he described costume designer Jenny Beavan as dressing like a ''bag lady'' during Sunday night's Baftas award show.
It's the type of comment that Twitter equality crusaders love to jump on; Fry duly quit the social network (again) after receiving a barrage of abuse. But it's not the first time he has faced the accusation of misogyny. In 2010, the broadcaster said that women don't enjoy sex and only agree to it because it ''is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man''. He later admitted that the comment was ''offensive, ignorant [and] arrogant''.
Personally, I don't know if Fry is a misogynist or not. But what I do know is that a worrying number of gay men are misogynist.
I first noticed it as a young man when I began to socialise in gay venues. One night, a guy was holding court, telling us how, before coming out as gay, he had dated a woman for a while because he wanted to become a father. ''The moment the silly cow announced she was pregnant I said 'Well, I'm gay' and I dropped her like a sack of potatoes,'' he sniggered, to approving laughter.
Later he brought me over a drink and asked me: ''So what about you, Chas '' have you ever done the 'fish thing'?'' Reader, I made my excuses and left.
I soon discovered such sentiments were commonplace on the gay scene. Every time I heard a man refer to women as ''fish'' I'd wince. I'd also cringe inside when gay men referred to one another pejoratively as ''she'' or ''her''.
Meanwhile, the very few women present in such bars were known as ''fag hags''. Each was invited to keep their respective gay male friend company until he met another guy he liked, at which point the ''hag'' would be expected to leave them to it. It was all rather depressing.
Even the entertainment in gay bars can be misogynistic. I mean, how else can one describe drag queens and their crude lampoons of womanliness? I'm still baffled that such creepy '' not to mention deeply tedious '' acts are considered entertaining at all. Imagine a bar full of white people howling with laughter as a blacked-up white man paraded around on stage, mocking Afro-Caribbean people. It's the sort of thing Channel 4 would make an undercover documentary about.
The gay and straight worlds are becoming less polarised, yet the problem lingers on. One way in which it still rears its ugly bonce is through the presumed intimacy which emboldens some gay men to make over-familiar quips to or about women, particularly regarding their appearance. Or even to touch them intimately without consent.
Blame Will & Grace if you like, but when they are interacting with women some gay men seem to forget that they are men and that there are lines that no chap should cross. A female friend who has several close gay friends and therefore encounters lots of gay men in their 20s and 30s tells me she endures ''constant grabbing of my boobs or my bits in a way I wouldn't be cool with straight men doing'', and that young gay men ''talk endlessly about women's bodies in an incredibly possessive, judgemental or objectifying way''.
The US rapper Azealia Banks also pointed to this when she said: ''I feel like a lot of times gay men can be way more misogynistic than even straight men. Even how they come to you picking at your hair, telling you you're fat, telling you all this other s**t. Telling you how to be a woman. What the f**k do you know about being a woman?''
Well, quite. It's hard to conclude that gay misogyny is powered by anything other than sexual envy. The knowledge that the fairer sex has a far greater pool of men to choose from makes some gays inherently resentful of women.
The awareness that the hot guy on the tube, in the office, or on their television screen is statistically much more likely to fancy women seems to make some gays livid. So out come the sour digs.
That's why conventionally beautiful women are more likely to face putdowns from gays than ladies who dress like Jenny Beavan. When famous male pin-ups get a girlfriend, actual fully-grown gay men can be almost as livid and obnoxious about them as the schoolgirls who tweet abuse to the girlfriends of One Direction.
"Gay men can be way more misogynistic than even straight men"
Azealia Banks
It's correct to be appalled when straight men are unpleasant to women '' but it seems that gay misogynists get off lightly. The general public, in as much as they consider gay men's rapport with women at all, would probably expect to discover a rainbow alliance, connecting through their shared struggles, or at the very least revelling in an experiential common ground.
Many such friendships exist, but it's sometimes a lot less harmonious than that. ''Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so,'' observed the American actress Rose McGowan. She has a point '' and what makes it worse is the silent denial that hangs over the issue among a community that remains so taken with its victim vibe that it cannot countenance the idea it could sometimes be villainous.
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War on Ca$h
It's time to kill the $100 bill - The Washington Post
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 19:02
By Lawrence H. SummersFebruary 16 at 7:00 AM
Lawrence H. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot university professor at Harvard, is a former treasury secretary and director of the National Economic Council in the White House. He is writing occasional posts, to be featured on Wonkblog, about issues of national and international economics and policymaking.
Harvard's Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government, which I am privileged to direct, has just issued an important paper by senior fellow Peter Sands and a group of student collaborators. The paper makes a compelling case for stopping the issuance of high denomination notes like the 500 euro note and $100 bill or even withdrawing them from circulation.
I remember that when the euro was being designed in the late 1990s, I argued with my European G7 colleagues that skirmishing over seigniorage by issuing a 500 euro note was highly irresponsible and mostly would be a boon to corruption and crime. Since the crime and corruption in significant part would happen outside European borders, I suggested that, to paraphrase John Connally, it was their currency, but would be everyone's problem. And I made clear that in the context of an international agreement, the U.S. would consider policy regarding the $100 bill. But because the Germans were committed to having a high denomination note, the issue was never seriously debated in international forums.
The fact that '-- as Sands points out '-- in certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the ''Bin Laden'' confirms the arguments against it. Sands' extensive analysis is totally convincing on the linkage between high denomination notes and crime. He is surely right that illicit activities are facilitated when a million dollars weighs 2.2 pounds as with the 500 euro note rather than more than 50 pounds as would be the case if the $20 bill was the high denomination note. And he is equally correct in arguing that technology is obviating whatever need there may ever have been for high denomination notes in legal commerce.
What should happen next? I'd guess the idea of removing existing notes is a step too far. But a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place. In terms of unilateral steps, the most important actor by far is the European Union. The '‚¬500 is almost six times as valuable as the $100. Some actors in Europe, notably the European Commission, have shown sympathy for the idea and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has shown interest as well. If Europe moved, pressure could likely be brought on others, notably Switzerland.
I confess to not being surprised that resistance within the ECB is coming out of Luxembourg, with its long and unsavory tradition of giving comfort to tax evaders, money launderers, and other proponents of bank secrecy and where 20 times as much cash is printed, relative to gross domestic, compared to other European countries.
These are difficult times in Europe with the refugee crisis, economic weakness, security issues and the rise of populist movements. There are real limits on what it can do to address global problems. But here is a step that will represent a global contribution with only the tiniest impact on legitimate commerce or on government budgets. It may not be a free lunch, but it is a very cheap lunch.
Even better than unilateral measures in Europe would be a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100. Such an agreement would be as significant as anything else the G7 or G20 has done in years. China, which is hosting the next G-20 in September, has made attacking corruption a central part of its economic and political strategy. More generally, at a time when such a demonstration is very much needed, a global agreement to stop issuing high denomination notes would also show that the global financial groupings can stand up against ''big money'' and for the interests of ordinary citizens.
Leaked Morgan Stanley slide shows bankers want to move quickly toward a ''cashless economy'' to enact NIRP
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 12:58
16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
Revelation 13:16, 17
This leak through Zerohedge came on the heels of recent Op-ed's by both Bloomberg and Financial Times, which urged for the banning of cash, a movement documented fully here by TRUNEWS.
ZeroHedge reported that their source also heard Huw van Steenis say:
''One of the most surprising comments this year came from a closed session on fintech [at Davos] where I sat next to someone in policy circles who argued that we should move quickly to a cashless economy so that we could introduce negative rates well below 1% '' as they were concerned that Larry Summers' secular stagnation was indeed playing out and we would be stuck with negative rates for a decade in Europe. They felt below (1.5)% depositors would start to hoard notes, leading to yet further complexities for monetary policy.''
Full article:Leaked Morgan Stanley slide shows bankers want to move quickly toward a ''cashless economy'' to enact NIRP (TruNews)
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Why expat Americans are giving up their passports - BBC News
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:46
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption As an America citizen you must file a US tax return no matter where in the world you live How does it feel to give up your nationality, to renounce the country you were born in, potentially forfeiting the chance to ever return?
"It's not going to be easy at all. It's the last thing I ever thought of doing," Jane tells me when I meet her in a Paris cafe.
Her voice cracks and her eyes well up. She is in the process of relinquishing her American nationality. Soon she'll visit the US embassy formally to renounce her citizenship, she says, under duress.
"I'm very proud of being an American. It's what I am when I look in the mirror.
"If it weren't for Fatca [the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act] and the decision by the bank, I'd never be doing this. Never ever. It's just breaking me in half."
She's not alone. According to the US Treasury, a record 4,279 individuals renounced their US citizenship or long-term residency in 2015 - an increase of 20% on the previous year, which was itself a record-breaking year.
In 2010, just 1,006 gave up being US citizens, but since then the numbers have risen every year.
Double taxationReasons for giving up your US citizenship aren't officially listed, but one of the main reasons cited is Fatca - a 2012 law designed to target overseas accounts held by wealthy Americans.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesThe United States is one of only two countries in the world that has citizenship-based taxation (the other is Eritrea).
As a US citizen you must file a tax return, no matter where you live, and often pay US taxes on top of the tax you already pay in your country of residence - so-called double taxation.
This has been the case in the US since the Civil War in the 19th Century and until recently really only affected the rich. Americans abroad are given a yearly allowance of $106,000 (£73,000) before double taxation kicks in.
But Fatca expands the scope of what can be taxed, and places a burden on foreign banks to identify US citizens among their customers to US tax authorities. The penalty for failing to do so can be as high as 30% of all a bank's dealings with the USA.
Refused bankingAs a result, ordinary Americans abroad are being denied access to basic banking facilities; banks would rather refuse US citizens' custom than run the risk of hefty penalties.
"I went to one and as soon as I typed in I was born in the United States, there was a big set of red letters that said 'No to US persons'," says Jane.
"I've got to pay my bills, I've got to buy food - I've got to have a bank."
For people like her the only option is to renounce their citizenship, and this is causing such a backlog of paperwork that in November, the fee for renunciation was put up to $2,350 - an increase of about 400%.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption It now costs $2,350 to renounce US citizenship It's a heavy price to pay for financial stability, but for many there's an even bigger, more emotional price to pay - becoming an ex-American.
"They first of all make laws that make life impossible and then when you decide it's impossible and you've got to do something that's against what you believe in your heart, they've gotta just up the fees like a bunch of extortionists," says Jane.
Jane has lived and worked in France for 30 years drawing what she calls a "humble" salary. She has filed a tax return every year even though she earns significantly less than $106,000 a year.
But under Fatca her pension and savings can also be taxed, and that's money she can't afford to lose.
The process to renounce is humiliating, she says.
It must be done in person, in front of other Americans at the US embassy. Her real name will then be published in the Federal Register (Jane agreed to talk to the BBC anonymously) - a move she feels is made to shame those who renounce.
And it's expensive too.
'Accidental Americans'Many foreign banks are taking no chances either. They are closing down accounts of anyone who might be an "accidental American". This could be anyone with an American parent but born outside the US, or people of other nationalities born in the US - like Fabien.
"I live in France, I work in France, my life is in France. I have no link to the United States. My life as a Frenchman is in France," Fabien tells me through an interpreter. "I don't even speak English!"
His French father brought him to Europe when he was 18 months' old - but because he was born in California he is a US citizen and thus subject to Fatca.
His bank demanded he either provide proof he had renounced his US citizenship, or his social security number. He had neither. Renouncing his "accidental" US citizenship is no mean feat, either.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption You can earn $106,000 a year before you're liable for double taxation - but the IRS now counts other assets too "We have to enter into the American system at the risk of substantial penalties. I have to submit the last five years' tax returns, but then also the next two years in order to renounce," he says.
"We're in a situation where it's unknown what will happen when we start. I have to have money to be able to pay the expenses to enter into the system, and then I have to pay to renounce."
'Deterring abuses'Fatca (its original acronym was rumoured to be "Fatcat") was made into law at the height of US public concern that the wealthy were avoiding paying tax owed to the federal government by hiding their money in offshore bank accounts.
"The overall purpose of the law is to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency, enhanced reporting and strong sanctions," said a spokeswoman for Congressman Charles Rangel - one of those who introduced Fatca.
"The US Treasury worked tirelessly to address many of these problems, and most have been resolved. If there are still problems with the law, then I believe Congress should hold hearings to see how it can be improved."
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Many Americans living overseas says they feel abandoned by their own government because of the new tax laws Yet Fatca's blunt implementation has led to criticism from Americans abroad who feel abandoned by their government and that this is all little more than taxation without representation.
There is no one congressional representative for the nearly nine million Americans who live abroad. Expatriates are registered in their last state of residence.
As a group they are fragmented and, say some, lack a voice in government. This compounds the difficult decision to renounce.
For her part, Jane is defiant.
"They can take my passport, but I'll still have a picnic on 4 July, I'll still celebrate Thanksgiving. The only way they'll stop me being American is if they kill me."
Austrians Need Constitutional Right to Pay in Cash, Mahrer Says - Bloomberg Business
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:09
Austrians should have the constitutional right to use cash to protect their privacy, Deputy Economy Minister Harald Mahrer said, as the European Union considers curbing the use of banknotes and coins.
''We don't want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch,'' Mahrer said on Austrian public radio station Oe1. ''We will fight everywhere against rules'' including caps on cash purchases, he said.
EU finance ministers vowed at a meeting in Brussels on Friday to crack down on ''illicit cash movements.'' They urged the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to ''explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds and to engage with the European Central Bank to consider appropriate measures regarding high denomination notes, in particular the 500-euro note.''
Ministers told the commission to report on its findings by May 1.
Corporate Inversion Definition | Investopedia
Sun, 14 Feb 2016 01:25
DEFINITION of 'Corporate Inversion'Re-incorporating a company overseas in order to reduce the tax burden on income earned abroad. Corporate inversion as a strategy is used by companies that receive a significant portion of their income from foreign sources, since that income is taxed both abroad and in the country of incorporation. Companies undertaking this strategy are likely to select a country that has lower tax rates and less stringent corporate governance requirements.
BREAKING DOWN 'Corporate Inversion'Corporate inversion is one of the many strategies companies employ to reduce their tax burden. One way that a company can re-incorporate abroad is by having a foreign company buy its current operations. Assets are then owned by the foreign company, and the old incorporation is dissolved.
For example, take a manufacturing company that incorporated itself in the United States in the 1950s. For years the majority of its revenue came from U.S. sales, but recently the percentage of sales coming from abroad has grown. Income from abroad is taxed in the United States, and U.S. tax credits do not cover all taxes that the company has to pay abroad. As the percentage of sales coming from foreign operations grows relative to domestic operations, the company will find itself paying more U.S. taxes because of where it incorporated. If it incorporates abroad, it can bypass having to pay higher U.S. taxes on income that is not generated in the United States. This is a corporate inversion.
Corporate inversion is not considered tax evasion as long as it doesn't involve misrepresenting information on a tax return or undertaking illegal activities to hide profits.
Study says most corporations pay no U.S. income taxes | Reuters
Sun, 14 Feb 2016 00:36
Tue Aug 12, 2008 | 12:54 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.
The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.
More than half of foreign companies and about 42 percent of U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years in that period, the report said.
During that time corporate sales in the United States totaled $2.5 trillion, according to Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who requested the GAO study.
The report did not name any companies. The GAO said corporations escaped paying federal income taxes for a variety of reasons including operating losses, tax credits and an ability to use transactions within the company to shift income to low tax countries.
With the U.S. budget deficit this year running close to the record $413 billion that was set in 2004 and projected to hit a record $486 billion next year, lawmakers are looking to plug holes in the U.S. tax code and generate more revenues.
Dorgan in a statement called the report "a shocking indictment of the current tax system." Levin said it made clear that "too many corporations are using tax trickery to send their profits overseas and avoid paying their fair share in the United States."
The study showed about 28 percent of large foreign corporations, those with more than $250 million in assets, doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $372 billion in gross receipts, the senators said. About 25 percent of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes in 2005 despite $1.1 trillion in gross sales that year, they said.
(Reporting by Donna Smith, Editing by David Wiessler)
cashless monopoly - Google Search
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 04:04
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"Ultimate Banking" Monopoly Edition Goes Completely ...www.zerohedge.com/.../ultimate-banking-monopoly-edition-...2 days ago - It looks like the board-game company sees the writing on the wall and is preparing the children of today for the new world order '' a cashless ..."Monopoly" Goes Cashless | Mises Wirehttps://mises.org/blog/monopoly-goes-cashlessLudwig von Mises Institute
1 day ago - As Martin Armstrong reports, a new version of the venerable board game "Mon opoly," set to be released this summer, carries the subtitle ...Amazon.com: Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition: Toys ...www.amazon.com 'º ... 'º Games 'º Board GamesRating: 4.1 - 'Ž178 reviews
The Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition game combines the best of classic Monopoly with updated electronic transactions. As with the original version, players ...My AccountSearchMapsYouTubePlayNewsGmailDriveCalendarGoogle+TranslatePhotosMoreShoppingWalletFinanceDocsBooksBloggerContactsHangoutsEven more from Google
War on Weed
Marijuana in Space '' NASA Discovers THC on Meteorite Fragment | The health disorder
Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:39
A team of astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii have created somewhat of a stir within the scientific community after the discovery of trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a meteorite found in the Nevada desert in 2010.
The team of researchers who analyzed hundreds of meteorite fragments in search of microbacterial data found the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol in trace amounts, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabinoids, a class of diverse chemical compounds that are found in a variety of plants, but most famously in the cannabis plant.
The study, that is funded in part by a NASA grant for research in astrobiology, is the first documented find of a psychoactive organic compound originating from outside of the Earth's atmosphere, a discovery that could revolutionize our modern view of psychotropic agents and their ''cosmic'' origins, admits astrophysicist James Han, head of the research team.
The discovery was clearly unexpected, admits the astrophysicist specialized in astrobiology.
''These findings will have a profound impact on the science of astrobiology as a whole'' admits the scientist, visibly perplexed by the discovery.
''If psychoactive elements are found outside of this planet's atmosphere, what does it say about the rest of the universe? If these chemical substances, that change brain functions and result in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness in mammals as well as humans, find their origin in outer space, what role then has cometary impacts played on the human species? Or on life on the planet as whole? This discovery ultimately leaves us with more questions than answers''acknowledges the professor.
''It also gives a whole new meaning to the term getting high'' he told local reporters, with a pinch of humor.
Traces amounts of Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) were also found in a meteorite fragment in 2009 by a research team from the University of Mexico but the findings were dismissed at the time because of the ''controversial nature of the discovery'' and a wave of skepticism from the scientific community. Further analysis of the sample could now shed some light on this latest finding, believe experts.
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Marijuana Kills Cancer Cells, Admits the U.S. National Cancer Institute | Natural Society
Sun, 14 Feb 2016 00:29
National legalization of marijuana may be drawing a smidgeon closer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the federal government sponsored agencies, has just updated the FAQs on its website to include recent studies on marijuana showing that it can and has killed cancer cells.
These are the findings of studies NCI have included:
Cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.Cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.A laboratory study of delta -9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in models of liver cancer showed that it had anti-tumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.A laboratory study of cannabidiol in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.These studies are considered by the NCI as preclinical. They were all done using animals. According to them, no clinical trials of cannabis use for the treatment of cancer in humans have been published.
Read: Gov't Admits Marijuana Kills Cancer
The NCI has included findings on peripheral benefits for cancer patients from marijuana:
Delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.Cannabinoid receptors have been studied in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body to understand their roles in pain relief.Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.The NCI is one of the National Institutes of Health.
Infowars is reporting that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, another of the agencies of the National Institutes of Health, has referred to marijuana studies, including one that showed ''marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.''
The big news here is not these studies. These and many more are contained on PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine that is also part of the National Institutes of Health. They are there for all of the world to see.
The news is that after decades of the demonization of marijuana by a federal government that supports pharmaceuticals and GMOs, there is a breath of change. But if you want to prevent or treat cancer with marijuana, be prepared for arrest and imprisonment in most states of this union.
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-MSNBC Anchor Asks Donald Trump Slick Trick Question '-- See How He Answers | Video | TheBlaze.com
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 16:07
During a town hall event with Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump Wednesday evening, MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski caught the billionaire in the middle of a trick question, and it got a little awkward.
Brzezinski told Trump that she was going to describe a candidate, and then she wanted him to tell her who she was describing.
MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski interview Donald Trump Wednesday, Feb. 17. (MSNBC/Twitter)
''The candidate is considered a political outsider by all the pundits. He's tapping into the anger of the voters, delivers a populist message. He believes everyone in the country should have healthcare, he advocates for hedge fund managers to pay higher taxes, he's drawing thousands of people at his rallies, and bringing in a lot of new voters to the political process. And he's not beholden to any super PAC. Who am I describing?'' Brzezinski asked.
Without missing a beat, Trump added that he is not beholden to any special interests or donors, before confidently asserting, ''You're describing Donald Trump.''
There was only one problem: she wasn't. Instead, Brzezinski told the billionaire businessman that she was describing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed Democratic socialist.
''Actually, I was describing Bernie Sanders,'' the MSNBC host said with a smirk, as the audience began to awkwardly laugh.
Trump, who appeared surprised, simply said, ''Well, that's good.''
He went on to say that he and Sanders agree that the U.S. is being ''ripped off big league on trade,'' but he said the Democratic candidate can't do anything about it ''because he doesn't understand it.''
Watch the video:'--
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VIDEO-CBS Highlights Obama Hypocrisy on Supreme Court Nominations | MRCTV
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 05:51
[See NewsBusters for more.] ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today on Wednesday avoided the uncomfortable fact that Barack Obama has flip-flopped on whether ideology should be considered for a Supreme Court nominee. Only CBS This Morning highlighted the hypocrisy and shifting positions. Reporter Jan Crawford played a clip from 2006 in which then-Senator Obama said, ''When I examine the philosophy, ideology and record of Samuel Alito, I am deeply troubled.'' She then included a clip of Obama from Tuesday: ''You make sure that a well qualified candidate is able to join the bench, even if you don't particularly agree with him.''
VIDEO-'Who Let the Dogs Out' - featuring Hillary Clinton - YouTube
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 03:54
VIDEO-Surprise: Trump Falls Behind Cruz in National NBC/WSJ Poll - NBC News
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 00:27
NBC News
The results from the poll '-- conducted after Trump's victory in New Hampshire and Saturday's GOP debate in South Carolina '-- are a significant reversal from last month, when Trump held a 13-point lead over Cruz, 33 percent to 20 percent.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his firm Hart Research Associates, says Trump's drop could signal being "right on top of a shift in the campaign."
"When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign. What you don't know yet is if the change is going to take place or if it is a momentary 'pause' before the numbers snap back into place," he said.
McInturff added, "So, one poll post-Saturday debate can only reflect there may have been a 'pause' as Republican voters take another look at Trump. This happened earlier this summer and he bounced back stronger. We will have to wait this time and see what voters decide."
This poll comes after other surveys -- both nationally and in South Carolina, the site of Saturday's next Republican contest -- show Trump with a commanding lead. But some of those weren't conducted entirely after the last debate like the NBC/WSJ poll.
Another possible explanation for Trump's decline in the new NBC/WSJ poll is an increase in "very conservative" Republican voters from January's sample.
If the current poll is re-weighted to reflect the ideological composition from last month, the GOP horserace numbers are: Trump 26 percent, Cruz 25 percent, Rubio 18 percent and Kasich 13 percent '-- so Trump is ahead by one point, but still down from January.
In addition to Trump's decline in the GOP race, the new NBC/WSJ poll shows a nine-point drop in the percentage of GOP primary voters who can see themselves supporting the real-estate mogul '-- from 65 percent in January to 56 percent now.
The highest candidate scores on this scale: Rubio (70 percent can see themselves supporting him), Cruz (65 percent), Carson (62 percent), Trump (56 percent), Kasich (49 percent) and Bush (46 percent).
And in hypothetical one-on-one match ups, Trump trails both Cruz (56 percent to 40 percent) and Rubio (57 percent to 41 percent). In January, Trump was ahead of Rubio (by seven points) but behind Cruz (by eight points).
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Feb. 14-16 of 800 registered voters (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points) and 400 GOP primary voters (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.9 percentage points).
Here are full results of the poll.
VIDEO-Donald Trump Calls Men Who Handled Protester To The Stage in SC (2-16-16) - YouTube
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 23:42
VIDEO-Bernie Sanders' American Dream is in Denmark - CNNPolitics.com
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 23:30
The Danes are following the race with an astounding level of enthusiasm and interest in part because Bernie Sanders, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, won't stop talking about them.
Sanders has proudly adopted the label of a "democratic socialist," and he has pointed to Denmark as a model for his vision of an ideal American future.
At a presidential debate hosted by CNN in October, Sanders brought up Denmark and the surrounding Scandinavian states when asked to describe what "democratic socialism" means to him.
"I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway," Sanders said, "and learn what they have accomplished for their working people."
"We are not Denmark," Hillary Clinton responded.
The senator's affinity for the Danish society has stretched back years. In 2013, after hosting the Danish Prime Minister on a tour of his home state of Vermont, Sanders wrote an essay praising their model of government.
"In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what 'freedom' means," Sanders wrote, arguing the U.S. could learn from the way the Danes have "gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity."
"Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all -- including the children, the elderly and the disabled," Sanders added.
While the Danes are flattered by all the attention, they want to ensure that the love coming from Sanders doesn't confuse people into thinking they describe themselves "socialists," too. Sanders has clarified that his democratic socialism is not the same as "socialist" in the traditional sense of a purely government-controlled economy. But that hasn't stopped Danish leaders from ensuring there is no misconception about their own system.
"I would like to make one thing clear," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said recently in a speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy."
But it is a market with many differences from the United States. All Danish citizens have access to child care, state-guaranteed medical and parental leave from work, free college tuition in which students receive a paycheck from the government during enrollment, free health care and a generous pension, all of which Sanders supports.
"Free" is actually the wrong word to describe these services. Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world, including a 25% tax on all goods and services, a top marginal tax rate hovering near 60%. The top tax rate in the U.S., by comparison, is less than 40%.
But there are aspects to the Danish model that you would never see on Sanders' policy platform. As a small country heavily reliant on trade, Denmark imposes minimal tariffs on foreign goods. Businesses here are only lightly regulated. The corporate tax rate is much lower than in the United States, which has one of the highest in the world. There's not even a minimum wage in Denmark, although most workers are paid high salaries in large part due to the strength of labor unions. And in the past few years, Danish voters elected a right-of-center government, which has been instituting reforms that have put tighter restrictions on access to the long-held safety net.
Houses stretch along a canal in Copenhagen
The recent changes have caught the attention of conservative and libertarian think tanks in North America that rank levels of economic freedom around the world. Over the past few years, studies conducted by the Heritage Foundation, Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute and the Canadian Fraser Institute have ranked Denmark as having actually more economic freedom than the United States.
"There is this idea that we are a heavily regulated society with a closed economy. The opposite is true," said Bo Lidegaard, the executive editor-in-chief of Politiken, one of Denmark's leading newspapers. "If by socialist you mean regulated, restrictive, the individual is not free to do what she or he wants, that is not what we have here. We have a society where the individual is perhaps freer than any other society because the government is securing the social contract so comprehensively."
In terms of pure semantics, few Danish politicians today would characterize themselves as "socialist"--even a "democratic socialist"--as Sanders does. The word has largely fallen out of fashion in recent decades.
"When I hear Bernie Sanders talk about himself as a democratic socialist, it's a little bit 1970s," said Lars Christensen, a Danish economist known here as an outspoken critic of his homeland's model. "The major political parties on the center-left and the center-right would oppose many of the proposals of Bernie Sanders on the regulatory side as being too leftist."
Related: What is Bernie Sanders' 'democratic socialism?'
Could the U.S. adopt the Danish model?As even Sanders has conceded, the differences between the United States and Denmark are striking. In many ways, Denmark's success depends on its small size. The country has a population of just 5.6 million -- about the same as Minnesota's -- and its territory makes up just 16,000 square miles, about half the size of South Carolina. By comparison, the United States has a population of more than 300 million and encompasses 3.8 million square miles.
Unlike the United States' diverse population of immigrants, Denmark is ethnically homogenous -- nearly 90% are of Danish ancestry, according to The Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration -- making political consensus easier than in the United States.
"I think this system is only possible because we essentially are all the same," said Christensen. "Maybe if you wanted to introduce such a scheme in Utah, you could do that. But doing it across the U.S., I find it completely and utterly impossible just for the mere fact that Americans are all so different."
Danish citizens also seem to have a higher comfort level and trust in government than in the United States. One would be hard-pressed to find a mainstream Danish politician who would agree with Ronald Reagan's axiom that, "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
While Americans have a deep-seated distrust of government that was imprinted on the nation's soul in the Bill of Rights, the Danish just don't view their government's size as a recipe for tyranny.
"The question is not how much tax you pay or how big your government is, it's whether it works," Lidegaard said. "It's whether you get return on your payment. We pay a lot of taxes, but we get a lot in return."
The Danish also participate in the democratic process on a scale unheard of in the United States. More than 85% of Danish citizens participated in the nation's general election in 2015; Only 55% of Americans went to the polls in 2012.
A system challenged by a changing worldSanders would also probably have concerns with the way Denmark has handled the European migrant crisis.
While Denmark is accustomed to international media's fawning over its safety net and consistent ranking by research organizations as having the happiest citizens in the world, the government has come under severe criticism for how it has handled the recent wave of immigrants coming from the war-torn Middle East.
Fearful that the thousands of refugees pouring in the European Union from Iraq and Syria could threaten their society, the Danish government has gone to great -- and controversial -- lengths to dissuade migrants from settling in their country.
The most problematic move came when the government passed a law that would grant the state the right to seize possessions worth more than the equivalent of about $1,500 from refugees settling in Denmark who seek aid from the government. The law includes a carve-out for items of "special sentimental value," but the critical reaction from human rights groups was swift and punishing.
The law also increases the number of years refugees would have to wait to bring family members into the country and it made it more difficult for them to obtain permanent residency. Its passage comes amid the rise of the right-wing Danish People's Party, which has made combating immigration a chief priority.
"There is an inherent contradiction between a welfare state where all your life you pay taxes to have coverage -- health, social costs, etc. -- and then being in the country as a migrant only part of your life," said Lidegaard. "The problem with the law -- and there is one -- is that it's trying to send a signal: Immigrants in Europe, don't go here. Don't come to Denmark. The signal sent that way is a stupid signal to send. That's the purpose of the law. It's not a practical measure."
Before the law passed, Denmark's Ministry of Immigration, Integration and Housing published ads in Arab and English-language newspapers in Lebanon, where more than 1 million Syrian refugees live, warning immigrants that Denmark will be an unwelcoming place for them.
The fear, generally, is that the foreign culture brought by the refugees would not align with traditional Danish customs and disrupt the recipe for what makes the welfare state possible.
"There is a limit to how many immigrants we can take in from a different culture who don't speak the language and how fast we can turn them into becoming citizens that are part of society, that are able to function and contribute to the wealth of our society," said Lidegaard."So we have a lot of focus now on how we integrate newcomers. How we turn immigrants into citizens who are part of production, part of taxpaying, part of paying the bill."
The Danes are watching usEven though Danes are eager participants in their own elections, the amount of time they spend watching and discussing our elections is a phenomenon to behold.
"American politics is really, really popular in Denmark," said Anders Agner Pedersen, a Danish journalist who edits Kongressen, a news outlet that exclusively American politics for a Danish audience. "It basically is in the news every day."
Pedersen, who has to stay up all night to watch American presidential debates and state primary returns from Denmark, is swamped with bookings on Danish television and radio programs to explain the election process and analyze the daily horse race. He recently hosted what he thought would be a small salon session to discuss the primaries at a Copenhagen restaurant and was shocked when more than 100 Danes showed up to get their American political fix.
"You guys do quite a good show," he said of the American election process.
Sanders isn't the only candidate the Danes are talking about. Donald Trump is a source of constant fascination -- and perhaps even a little terror -- in the Nordic region. In January, when three young children who call themselves the "USA Freedom Kids" dressed up in red, white and blue and performed a song-and-dance number about Trump at one of his rallies in Florida, the video skyrocketed throughout Danish social media.
And just this month, Ted Cruz set Danish media aflame when he suggested that Donald Trump was so unhinged he's liable to drop an atom bomb on Denmark. The Danes were bewildered: Why us?
As the campaign marches on with Trump still riding high in the polls, his ongoing success is starting to become a concern here.
"In the beginning I thought it was a joke. Then we realized people were voting for Trump," Jonas Pedersen, a medical student at the University of Copenhagen, said.
Another medical student, Helena Boegh, said, "That some people would actually vote for Donald Trump and in the same country would vote for someone who likes the system we have in Denmark -- that really says something about America."
VIDEO-Former Miss Arkansas Sally Miller says Bill Clinton was so-so in bed | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 21:21
Sally Miller looked on in amusement as the man who would become the 42nd President of the United States slipped into her own frilly black nightgown.
The former Miss Arkansas has never forgotten how her younger lover proceeded to dance around the bedroom, serenading her with his saxophone and reducing her to a fit of giggles.
This playful scene was typical of the laughter-filled nights that ex-beauty queen Miller enjoyed with Bill Clinton during their 1983 affair, she tells Daily Mail Online in an exclusive interview.
The married Governor of Arkansas would frequently adopt the role of entertainer-in-chief to impress his glamorous older woman, a one-time Miss America finalist.
But while his attempts at lovemaking were largely forgettable, Clinton would rarely disappoint when it came to divulging intimate and potentially damaging secrets about his wife Hillary.
More than two decades on, Miller, a former singer and radio host known as Sally Perdue, is preparing to dish more secrets of their pillow talk in a tell-all memoir.
SCROLL DOWN TO HEAR SALLY MILLER
Sally Miller tells Daily Mail Online she met Clinton at parties and political functions in 1974 when she was a senate aide at the Arkansas State Capitol and he was preparing for his run for the House of Representatives. But their affair began when he was Governor of Arkansas
Miller was divorced from her first husband but still known at the time as Sally Perdue. She says she was drawn to Clinton's energy, his sense of humor and his 'intensity.' The then-Governor would arrive at her back door for their trysts
The book promises to recall a series of unguarded conversations in which she claims Bill revealed his wife's preference for female lovers.
As far-fetched as her accusations may appear, she remains convinced that Hillary Clinton is behind a plot to silence her ahead of the November election.
But it will also lay bare what Miller, describes as a decades-long Democrat campaign to discredit and harass her that began when she first revealed the affair in 1992, a campaign she claims has now reached such perverse depths that she actually fears for her life.
The twice-divorced 77-year-old took to social media in recent weeks to post an extraordinary warning that if she dies by 'suicide' no-one should believe it.
When Daily Mail Online visited Miller at her Arkansas home she insisted she had been stalked, spied upon and plagued by anonymous phone calls since word of her memoir leaked out.
'She doesn't care what I say about Bill, that's old news,' Miller told Daily Mail Online. 'But I think she wonders what Bill told me. I think she wonders how much I know about her that came from Bill.
'With the election coming up she can't afford any sort of loose end. She's the closest thing you can imagine to Al Capone. I don't think she is going to rest until she puts me to rest.'
And what of those accusations so insulting or damaging that a potential Presidential candidate would unleash her operatives to intimidate or even bump off an elderly lady?
'Hillary is a lesbian,' Miller claims, reigniting a lingering but unsubstantiated rumor that has dogged the former First Lady for years.
With a string of achievements including the Miss Arkansas 1958 title, a 1970 jazz album entitled I've Gotta Be Me, and a career in TV, radio and PR, Miller particularly objects to being portrayed as a 'bimbo'
Sally Miller, second from right, in 1958, as a contestant for Miss America, where she placed in the top 10. Miller is writing a book on her life and the involvement with the Clintons, including details of her affair with Bill
Miller, left, being crowned Miss Pine Bluff in 1958. When Daily Mail Online visited Miller at her Arkansas home she insisted she had been stalked, spied upon and plagued by anonymous phone calls since word of her memoir leaked out
Hillary Clinton is behind a plot to silence Miller ahead of the November election, the ex Miss Arkansas claims. 'Let's just get down to the facts,' says Miller. 'Firstly, Bill didn't mind telling me that Hillary doesn't like sex'
'Let's just get down to the facts,' she adds. 'Firstly, Bill didn't mind telling me that Hillary doesn't like sex.
'I take him at his word and he told me she liked females more than men. She was the child of a more progressive community. She was exposed to all the liberals, she was a flower child.
'Hillary does drugs too, that's the only time that she would entertain the idea - again, this is what Bill told me.
'While we were intimately involved he would say things like "gosh you need to come over and teach Hillary a few things".
'He said she probably wouldn't take to that idea much.
'I wasn't a spy, I wasn't looking for things I could remember 20 years later.'
Miller remains fit and active, although her fear of the 'Clinton machine' weighs heavily.
The mother-of-two sleeps with a loaded semi-automatic within arm's reach and rarely leaves home without her four-year-old Australian Shepherd, Cubby Bear.
Miller, a former singer and radio host known as Sally Perdue, is preparing to dish the secrets of their pillow talk in a tell-all memoir.
It was a very different scenario in August 1983, when a 44-year-old Miller left her back door ajar so her seven-years' younger paramour Bill could be chauffeured to the rear of the property before slipping inside unnoticed.
The pair had met a decade earlier at parties and political functions when Miller was a senate aide at the Arkansas State Capitol and Clinton was preparing for his unsuccessful 1974 run for the House of Representatives.
So when she needed help getting a vintage steam train project off the ground, she sought out her former friend, by now in his second stint as Governor.
'I left my number with his secretary,' recalled Miller. 'He was playing golf but within three hours he'd called me.
'He said "I'm going to be leaving here in a little while, why don't I just drop by and let's see each other for old times' sake."
'We decided because of the positioning of the condo it might be better if he didn't come by the front door, there are some prominent people that live across by me.
Former Miss Arkansas, Sally Miller, in 1958, in one of her earliest modeling photos
'He never drove himself, it was a state trooper or someone on his staff. He parked in the park behind my house. I had a gate on the patio but he just had to lift the latch.
'The first night I just played the piano while he sang. He's not noted as someone who has a trained voice but we laughed, it was just kind of fun.
'Finally he said ''we didn't talk about what I came to talk about, so we're going to have to do this again sometime''. I had all my notes and pictures, all my ideas, all he had to do was call his parks and tourism gal and get her on this.
Bill is not the most handsome man. But he makes you feel like you have an incredible body and on top of all that you're beautiful. There are not many men that can make a woman feel that way.
'But we dragged it out for about three months. And yes, we did go upstairs where the bedrooms were.'
Miller, who was divorced from her first husband but still known at the time as Sally Perdue, says she was drawn to Clinton's energy, his sense of humor and his 'intensity'.
Their clandestine meetings typically included Bill goofing around and playing his sax while Miller, a trained singer and musician, accompanied him on her piano.
He would sometimes unwind by smoking a marijuana cigarette. Miller claims that she saw Clinton produce a pouch of white powder on several occasions and snort lines off her coffee table.
'I don't do drugs and I don't smoke. But if you come into my house and say "gosh I've had a bad day" I wouldn't know how to stop you,' said Miller.
'Bill is not the most handsome man. But he makes you feel like your breasts are the right size, your legs are the perfect length, you have an incredible body and on top of all that you're beautiful. There are not many men that can make a woman feel that way.
'Do I make it a point to have affairs with married men, no. But most everyone in Arkansas assumed that their marriage was a business arrangement.
'Bill never sounded like he was in love or locked into a loyal arrangement.'
Sally Miller, center, with her daughters Rosemond, left, and Myra, right
A letter from then Governor Bill Clinton dated June 28, 1984. Their affair would remain a secret for nearly a decade until she went public on the Sally Jesse Raphael show in July 1992, a day after Clinton had been formally named by the Democratic Party as its Presidential candidate.
But while the future president was a born entertainer and charismatic companion, the sex itself failed to inspire.
'It wasn't that memorable. It was no big deal - think about that,' chuckled Miller. 'That's probably why he didn't have any confidence as a lover.
'He reminded me of a what a little boy would say to his momma. 'Is it OK if I put my hand there? Can I touch you here?' I've always preferred younger men but I've never had one who asked permission.'
She claims the affair ended abruptly in late 1983 when Miller revealed her intention to stand for mayor of her hometown, Pine Bluffs, as a Republican.
It would remain a secret for nearly a decade until she went public on the Sally Jesse Raphael show in July 1992, a day after Clinton had been formally named by the Democratic Party as its Presidential candidate.
Miller insists her name had already been leaked to the newspapers and news channels who hounded her day and night for the story.
But her decision backfired when she was faced with a hostile New York audience packed with Democrat supporters and a largely skeptical media.
Clinton would face similar accusations from a series of women throughout his campaign and ensuing Presidency in what was coined the 'eruption of bimbos'.
Sally Miller's license plate she had on her car after winning the 1958 Miss Arkansas pageant
But at the time of her disastrous TV appearance, Miller's story was either ignored or dismissed as smears by the mainstream US media.
Worse still, it prompted what she describes as an extraordinary Democrat vendetta that has seen her threatened, fired from jobs and followed - quite literally - to the other end of the world.
It began In August 1992, she claims, with a sinister invitation from Clinton operative who offered Miller a lucrative federal job if she promised to be a 'good little girl' '' an offer she declined.
'They said 'if you don't take the job, we know where you go running and we'll break your pretty little legs,'' Miller claims. 'They said life isn't going to be fun anymore - and they meant it.'
Miller later found the back window of her jeep shot out from the inside with a handful of shot gun cartridges left strewn across the back seat.
When she reported it to the FBI she says she was nearly knocked down outside their office by a car with no plates.
Miller claims she was also contacted out of the blue and pestered for dates by a string of young married suitors, including a doctor and a handsome lawyer called 'Eric'.
'Eric was a plant from the Democrats in Arkansas,' Miller claims. 'He admitted it. I think they wanted me to be caught in another liaison and so they could say she's a scarlet woman.'
In 1994 she attempted to leave the controversy behind by accepting a radio job broadcasting for the blind in China, a country she loved and where she enjoyed an elevated profile having become the first woman to run the entire length of the Great Wall four years earlier
'Bill is not the most handsome man. But he makes you feel like your breasts are the right size, your legs are the perfect length, you have an incredible body and on top of all that you're beautiful. There are not many men that can make a woman feel that way,' Miller tells Daily Mail Online
Her career suffered too, she alleges. She says the Democrats made a mysterious $1 million donation to her alma mater, Lindenwood College, Missourii. She was later fired from their admissions department.
In 1994 she attempted to leave the controversy behind by accepting a radio job broadcasting for the blind in China, a country she loved and where she enjoyed an elevated profile having become the first woman to run the entire length of the Great Wall four years earlier.
But her new life went awry, she says, when the Clintons arrived in Beijing for a 1998 state visit and her hotel room was mysteriously raided by Chinese soldiers and what she says were American agents, apparently looking for drugs and weapons.
BILL'S WOMEN WHO HAUNT HILLARYKathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who says Bill Clinton groped her in an Oval Office hallway in 1993 when she came to him seeking a paid job, says she has agreed to become a paid national spokeswoman for an anti-Clinton group being created by operative Roger Stone
Paula Jones, the former state employee whose allegations of sexual harassment dogged President Bill Clinton throughout his administration, was photographed appearing at a rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump in Little Rock.
Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky's confidante and who worked as a White House staffer says that Hillary Clinton not only knew about her husband's exploits, 'She made it her personal mission to disseminate information and destroy the women with whom he dallied.'
Juanita Broaddrick, who claims that she was raped by Bill Clinton in an Arkansas hotel 38 years ago, says that she was cornered by Hillary as she was helping at a Clinton fundraiser and was given a thinly-veiled warning to keep her mouth shut.
Maria Crider, who worked on Bill Clinton's first political campaign, said power-hungry Hillary torpedoed the torrid affair that threatened to destroy her master plan to become president with anonymous phone calls, fears of stalking and veiled threats.
'They told the manager I was a drug dealer who had fled the United States to avoid prosecution,' she claims. 'It was a warning that they could find me anywhere, anyplace, anytime.'
Like much of Miller's dark account, there is nothing to substantiate this episode other than the trove of old documents, letters and journals she promises to include in her memoir, 'The Beauty Queen: Let No Deed Go Unpublished'.
And yet her story brings to mind the accounts of other alleged Clinton accusers, such as Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers, who say they were harassed by Democrat aides and maligned as sluts to cover the philandering President's tracks.
Maria Crider, who had an affair with Clinton when she worked on his first political campaign, said Hillary destroyed the relationship - even though she was not yet married to Bill - with anonymous phone calls and veiled threats.
With a string of achievements including the Miss Arkansas 1958 title, a 1970 jazz album entitled I've Gotta Be Me, and a career in TV, radio and PR, Miller particularly objects to being portrayed as a 'bimbo'.
She points the finger of blame squarely at Hillary and her powerful spin machine.
'Nothing happened in the Democratic Party when they were trying to get Bill into the White House that Hillary didn't approve,' Miller said. 'She was the motivator, his bodyguard, and she continued to target me after the election.
'There is a vengeful, spiteful ugliness that some women have for other women. And there is a certain type of women who just has it in her genes to be nasty.
'Hillary is just one of those women. And she's championing women's causes? She will be the ruination of America if she becomes President.'
In the three or four months since news of her memoir leaked on Facebook Miller says the long-standing vendettas has reignited.
She decided to post details on social media because she feels she's safer battling the Clintons out in the open where her ultimately death would provoke too much scrutiny.
'I'm sure I have Facebook friends that are spies and I'm sure the word got out to Hillary,' she said. 'I began to get unknown calls on my cell phone - three or four a week - but now it's almost every day.
'It's the same pattern they used in 1992, '93 and '94. I've watched cars following me down to the park. They are typically trucks or SUVs - all the windows are completely black.
'I pulled up beside one of them and walked over but he pulled away as soon as I got up close.
'I've been getting calls from 911 saying "Ms Miller we understand that there's an emergency and you're about to commit suicide". They always say it was a family member or a close friend but they can't give you the name.'
Miller has yet to find a publisher for her memoir '' again, she suspects Democrat meddling -- but she insists she will self-publish if need be.
But does she really suspect the woman many believe will be the next President of the United States, a former Secretary of State lauded globally as a female role model, would resort to foul play to stop that happening?
''I think the Clintons are capable of anything. Do I live in fear, no - because I'm armed too, I'm prepared. You have to be when you think perhaps your life is being threatened.'
Former Miss Arkansas, Sally Miller, second from left, with friends in Beijing, China in 1994.
VIDEO-White House: 'DOJ Not Asking Apple for Redesign' - YouTube
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 20:36
VIDEO-Evo Morales Asks Citizens to Believe in Bolivia, Not US Rule | News | teleSUR English
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:27
Morales says Bolivia is finally a sovereign country, and asks citizens to vote to keep it that way.
With only a week to go until Bolivia's referendum, President Evo Morales made a special plea to Bolivians to vote with good conscious and do what's best for the country.
Bolivians will go to the polls Feb. 21 to vote on whether to increase presidential consecutive term limits to three. This will determine if Morales can run for re-election 2019.
During the closing campaign for the referendum in Cochabamba on Saturday, the Indigenous president said those who support the ''No'' campaign are those who support the opposition, their policies of privatization of public resources, and global market interests.
IN DEPTH: 10 Years of Evo Morales
Those who support the ''Yes'' campaign, continued Morales, are the same Bolivians who support the people, who are ''organized, liberated and who are advancing in the development process'' of the country.
The president also reminded citizens that Bolivia is an autonomous country and no longer depends on the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund for financial support, which he says helped cripple the economy and create massive inequality in the past.
''Our economic situation has changed, politically we are in a struggle and resistance. We must merge Bolivia with the people and with a Constituent Assembly, not to the American Embassy. We have economic sovereignty, and we are released after 190 years'' of being under control of foreign governments and organizations, said Morales.
The president's comments come after several attempts by the ''No'' campaign to discredit Morales, and has left many to claim that the "No" campaign has been funded by the United States, which has generally had a tense relationship with Morales and his anti-corporate and anti-neoliberal policies.
Thursday, Argentine political analyst Atilio Boron said ''according to informed sources'' that the U.S. Embassy provided $200,000 for the ''No'' campaign in Bolivia. He revealed this information via an opinion piece published in Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
ANALYSIS: How the US Funds Dissent against Latin American Governments
Boron also said this is not the first time that the U.S. has intervened financially in Bolivian affairs. Between 2003 and 2014, the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, spent over US$7.7 million to fund nearly 20 institutions in Bolivia, all of which contained political objectives, said Boron.
The Argentine analyst added that the referendum ''will be the Bolivian people against the US empire. That is going to be a struggle.''
WATCH: Bolivia: Opposition Use President's Personal Life as a Political Tool
VIDEO-Stevie Wonder advocates accessibility for disabled people during Grammys | Examiner.com
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 17:38
Stevie Wonder took the opportunity before presenting a Grammy Monday night to let an audience of nearly 26 million viewers know the importance of inclusiveness in today's society.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for NARAS
As he stood onstage surrounded by members of the a cappella group Pentatonix, a smiling Wonder tore open the envelope containing the name of the Song of the Year winner and flashed the seemingly blank card at the audience.
"OK, so, um, y'all can't read this, huh?" Wonder asked. And no one else could, because the winner's name was printed in Braille.
"You can't read it; you can't read Braille! Na na na na na na!" Wonder joked in a singsong voice while laughing before growing serious. ''I just want to say, before saying the winner, that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability," he said, and the crowd showed its support of Wonder's statement with a round of applause.
Amy Johnson, a certified vision rehabilitation therapist with the Vision Education and Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, agrees with Wonder's message. "Things should be accessible to everyone," she said. "I often look at the bumper sticker I keep on my bulletin board; it came out when the ADA was passed. It says, 'To boldly go where everyone else has gone before.'"
Though the United States has made great strides in equal opportunity for people with disabilities since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1995, Wonder's comments prove that we as a nation have a long way to go before inclusiveness is truly the way of the present, and not something that continues to need advocacy. Since February is AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month, it's a great time to learn more about low vision.
VIDEO-'My demons won today': Ohio activist's suicide spotlights depression among Black Lives Matter leaders - The Washington Post
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 19:04
A solemn group stood in the shadow of the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, forming a circle on the snow-caked sidewalk. MarShawn McCarrel, 23, a well-known Black Lives Matter activist, had taken his own life on the statehouse steps. Now his friends had come together in his memory.
As evening turned to night last week, protest organizer Rashida Davison, 25, recounted the personal toll of two years of activism: Trouble sleeping. Bouts of anxiety. Feelings of despair.
''This is really getting to us,'' Davison said. ''And if MarShawn's death does not show that'... I don't know what else we need to tell or show to say that this is really going on.''
MarShawn M. McCarrel II, a young Ohio activist involved with the Black Lives Matter movement committed suicide on the steps of the Statehouse in Columbus. (WBNS-10TV http://www.10tv.com/)
Since he died early last week, news of McCarrel's suicide has rocked the national police protest movement, forcing a round of introspection about a reality that predates the seminal 2014 shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.: Some of the most prominent activists and organizers are battling not only the system, but depression.
In Oakland, Calif., a prominent activist posted the phone number for a suicide prevention hotline on her Facebook page. In Cleveland, a lead organizer confessed on Facebook that he, too, had tried to take his own life. Dozens of others have shared stories of their battles with depression, anxiety and insecurity on Twitter.
''In the movement you're just constantly engaging in black death, seeing the communal impact,'' said Jonathan Butler, the University of Missouri graduate student whose hunger strike last fall led to the resignation of the school's president. ''You're being faced with the reality that I'm more likely to be killed by the police, that I'm being discriminated against. You start to see all of the micro-aggressions.''
Like many prominent activists, Butler said he has long struggled with depression, beginning with the death of his grandfather in 2011. His involvement with the protest movement at times has worsened his mental health, he said, not only because of the emotional strain of a single-minded focus on racism, but also because of more mundane stresses, such as media scrutiny and infighting among allies.
''So many people glamorize the visibility that comes with being in these spotlights,'' Butler said. ''And they're not seeing the pressures.''
'It's pretty obvious that he impacted so many people'
Friends were not sure about the roots of McCarrel's depression; family members declined to comment.
The young activist first rose to prominence in Columbus through the city's poetry scene, particularly Mosaic, a poetry program for teenagers.
''He was always at all of the open mics, and it was clear immediately that he was a significantly better writer than most of his peers,'' said Hanif Abdurraqib, a writer who met McCarrel in 2010 and immediately noticed his confidence and sense of humor.
''So often we get these pictures of activists on the front lines of movements as deeply serious people,'' Abdurraqib said. McCarrel, by contrast, was ''wildly funny.''
About five years ago, friends said McCarrel's artwork began to overlap with his activism, and he founded Pursuing Our Dreams, a group that organized monthly ''feed the streets'' events to provide homemade lunches to the homeless.
He was also one of several organizers who worked to plan a large, multi-organization ''Freedom Summer'' rally in 2014 '-- plans that were later scrapped after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
After Ferguson, McCarrel began working with the Ohio Student Association, one of the largest and most active protest groups in the Black Lives Matter movement. He helped lead rallies to support the families of John Crawford and Tamir Rice, a black man and a black boy shot and killed in separate incidents by Ohio police in 2014. McCarrel was also one of five organizers arrested during a protest in Tennessee.
Zahra Farah, a 20-year-old activist who studies sociology at Columbus State Community College, recalls a conversation she had with McCarrel at a protest last spring. She'd been demonstrating since 2014, and felt frustrated, dejected and angry about what she perceived as a lack of progress.
''He was like, 'You're here right now, and you're obviously using your efforts to do something better,''' Farah recalled McCarrel saying. ''It's pretty obvious that he impacted so many people, not just me.''
Just one week before his death, McCarrel attended the NAACP Image Awards in California, where he was recognized for his activism. His mother proudly posted an image of the two on the red carpet on her Facebook page.
''He's been part of the movement for a very long time,'' said Dante Barry, executive director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, a New York-based activist group. Barry knew McCarrel well and said he hoped his friend's death spurs an honest conversation among top activists about the culture of the protest movement.
''Organizing saves people's lives,'' Barry said. ''But we also don't do a good job of saving the lives of the people who are organizing.''
'We're human'
Studies have found that black Americans are more susceptible to depression and anxiety '-- a disparity that health experts believe stems from social stigma and a lack of access to mental health resources in black communities, as well as a reluctance to take advantage of those resources when they are available.
''It's really tough in the black community because we're going uphill trying to fight all of these negative stereotypes about us, and the last thing a lot of black people want to do is give people one more reason to look down on us,'' said Monnica Williams, director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville. ''I think a lot of African Americans are walking around depressed, coping from day to day, and not really living.''
A study by the federal Office of Minority Health found that African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. And for an activist, Williams said, depression can be especially dangerous. Much of the conversation about race and justice occurs online, where harsh and threatening messages are abundant.
One of McCarrel's last Facebook posts was a screenshot of a threatening email he had received. ''Were (sic) gonna keep making your life hell until you keep your N'--'' mouth closed,'' said the email, which spelled out the epithet.
A few hours before he fatally shot himself, McCarrel posted a final message on Facebook: ''My demons won today. I'm sorry.''
''There are so many folks in this movement that have serious mental health issues,'' said Alexis Templeton, who is among the most prominent organizers in St. Louis. ''There are so many folks who are on the brink of killing themselves.''
When she first joined the protests in 2014, Templeton was one of those people. A year earlier, she had been a passenger in a deadly car crash that killed her father, uncle and partner. Her guilt about surviving was often hard to bear, she said, and there were many days when she sat in her room with a loaded gun to her head.
Aug. 13, 2014, was one of those days. But as she pondered pulling the trigger, Templeton couldn't shake the images of protest pouring out of Ferguson. One of her childhood friends was among the first to tweet photos from the scene of Michael Brown's death. She had watched intensely, glued to her phone, as demonstrators were tear gassed.
Templeton decided she might as well go out and see things for herself before pulling the trigger.
''I went outside and I never came back in,'' Templeton said. ''Mike Brown saved my life.''
In Ferguson, Templeton found community and belonging, spending night after night with a bullhorn in her hand, leaping almost out of her shoes as she led the protest chants: ''Indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!''
Ultimately, she fell in love and married a fellow activist. Now she encourages others to follow her lead, attending therapy if they have access to it and speaking publicly about their personal struggles.
''It's most important to remember that we're human, even when the spotlight tries to make us superhuman,'' Templeton said. ''It's okay to confront those demons, and to confront them publicly. And don't feel like you have to hide from them.''
Stankiewicz, a freelance writer, reported from Columbus, Ohio.
Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.
VIDEO-Paul McCartney, Beck denied entry to Tyga's Grammys after-party
Wed, 17 Feb 2016 16:20
From Taylor Swift's acceptance speech to Kendrick Lamar's performance, the Grammy Awards had its share of moments. WSJ's Mike Ayers joins Tanya Rivero to discuss. Photo: Getty
Pop icon ... video shows Sir Paul McCartney denied entry to Tyga's Grammys after-party. Picture: Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Republic Records
RAPPER Tyga has defended himself after a red-faced Sir Paul McCartney was filmed being denied entry twice to his Grammy Awards after-party.
The Beatles superstar, 73, was eager to let his hair down after the ceremony but was banned from entering a bash at Argyle in Hollywood, which was being hosted by Tyga.
In a video filmed at the door, he can be heard joking: ''How VIP do we gotta get? We need another hit.''
The Hey Jude singer previously collaborated with Kanye West, who is married to Kim Kardashian, the sister of Tyga's girlfriend Kylie Jenner. But not even that was enough to get him in.
But Tyga has since tweeted that he had no knowledge that the ''legend'' McCartney was shooed from his party. Had he known he rocked up, he said he would not have denied him entry.
Former Grammy Award winner Beck and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins were also unable to get into the extravagant bash and after a second attempt, they decided to try their luck elsewhere.
The trio instead made their way to Hyde cocktail bar on Sunset Boulevard in LA where Republic Records was holding a party.
GALLERY: Best red carpet looks from the Grammy Awards
Not VIP enough ... Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy Shevell made their way to Hyde for the Republic Records party with actor Woody Harrelson instead. Picture: SPW/Splash NewsSource:Supplied
However, when the party's co-host Bow Wow discovered the news later on, he was shocked,
''Wait, time out. The Paul McCartney came to Argyle and they wouldn't let him in?'' he said.
''Well maybe it's because we always come here and they know our faces.''
Paul McCartney and Beck were left out in the cold. Picture: SPW/Splash NewsSource:Supplied
Sir Paul McCartney and Woody Harrelson were rejected from an after-party. Picture: SPW/Splash NewsSource:Supplied
But there was no shortage of famous faces to keep them company when they got to the party, as a slew of other stars including Taylor Swift were there.
She was joined by her boyfriend Calvin Harris, along with Lorde, The Weeknd, Bella Hadid, Joe Jonas, Jeremy Renner, Alessandra Ambrosio and Miranda Kerr.
Check out pics of the other celebs who got allowed in below:
Lady Gaga and actress Pamela Anderson attend the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's after party at Elyx House Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Picture: Getty
Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr attends the Republic Records Grammy Celebration presented by Chromecast Audio at Hyde on Sunset. Picture: Getty
Don't mess with Tay Tay... Taylor Swift and Lorde attend the Republic Records Grammy celebration at Hyde on Sunset on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Reunited... Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris cuddle up at an after party. Picture: Snapchat
The Weeknd and Bella Hadid attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend attend Sony Music Entertainment 2016 Post-Grammy Reception at Hotel Bel Air on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Kaley Cuoco attends the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Mark Ronson attends the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's after party at Elyx House Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Picture: Getty
Louis Tomlinson and Meghan Trainor attend Sony Music Entertainment 2016 Post-Grammy Reception at Hotel Bel Air on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Hailee Steinfeld attends the Republic Records Grammy Celebration presented by Chromecast Audio at Hyde on Sunset. Picture: Getty
Kaley Cuoco and country singer Sam Hunt step out together after attending a Grammy Awards after party at Hyde Sunset in West Hollywood. Picture: BackGrid
Brandy and Zendaya attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Sir Paul McCartney attends the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Alessandra Ambrosio attends the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Mark Ronson and Florence Welch attend the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's Afterparty at Elyx House Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Picture: Getty
Cody Simpson and Mark Wystrach attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Tony Bennett and Ariana Grande attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Australian Singer Alli Simpson (L) and Internet personality Frankie Grande attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration presented by Chromecast Audio at Hyde on Sunset. Picture: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Republic Records
Lady Gaga attends the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's after party on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Members of the musical group DNCE Jack Lawless, Cole Whittle, JinJoo Lee and Joe Jonas attend the Republic Records Grammy Celebration on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Letting her hair down... Florence Welch attends the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's after party at Elyx House Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Picture: Getty
Anna Kendrick attends Universal Music Group 2016 Grammy after party. Picture: Getty
Miguel and Jack Antonoff attend Sony Music Entertainment 2016 Post-Grammy Reception on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. Picture: Getty
Quincy Jones and Rashida Jones attend the Absolut Elyx Hosts Mark Ronson's Grammy's after party at Elyx House Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Picture: Getty
This story originally appeared in The Sun.
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton Literally Starts Barking Like A Dog During Campaign Rally - YouTube
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 17:18
VIDEO-Donald Trump threatens Ted Cruz with lawsuit over presidential eligibility | US news | The Guardian
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 13:51
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Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has threatened to sue Ted Cruz over the senator's eligibility for president, saying that unless his rival stops telling ''lies'' he will take the issue of his birth in Canada to court.
With less than a week to go until the next Republican primary contest in South Carolina, Trump also lashed out at party leaders, making a veiled threat to run a third-party campaign. The warning came in response to Trump's complaint that he had been booed during Saturday night's debate because the audience had been stuffed with wealthy donors who opposed his maverick run.
Trump heaped insults on Cruz in both the press conference and statement, calling the Texas senator ''a totally unstable individual'', ''a basket case'' and ''unhinged''.
In a simultaneous statement released by his campaign, Trump said: ''One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him relative to the fact that he was born in Canada and therefore cannot be president.''
Cruz, who beat Trump in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, ''is lying with the hopes that his statements will go unchecked until after the election and he will save his failing campaign''.
''I learned so much from Iowa and that somebody could be so dishonest,'' Trump said, referring to tactics by Cruz's campaign in the state. Hours before the caucuses, Cruz staffers called homes to say, falsely, that opponent Ben Carson had quit the race and Iowans should support Cruz instead. The campaign also posted official-looking flyers on people's homes that listed neighbors and gave invented ''voter violation'' grades.
Cruz apologized to Carson over the tactics, but Carson has refused to comment. His campaign later turned recordings of the calls into campaign ads.
Earlier on Monday, the billionaire hinted he may still run an independent campaign for president, despite a pledge he signed last year to stay within the party.
Trump, who was booed at a debate on Saturday, complained that the audience was full of ''lobbyists and donors'' whom he accused of manipulating his rivals. ''Those tickets were all special interest people. I know 'em,'' he said.
''I signed a pledge but it's a double-edge pledge, and as far as I'm concerned they're in default of the pledge.''
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee told the Guardian: ''The language of the pledge is pretty straightforward.''
The pledge, he said, ''simply states the candidates pledge to run as a Republican and support the nominee. Nothing more and nothing less.''
The men and women in the audience were largely at the candidates' discretion, according to the RNC: ''Each candidate received 100 tickets which is the largest amount so far. The candidates as a whole were the largest group of ticket holders.''
But Trump declared said ''the pledge isn't being honored by them'', without elaborating on what the Republican party's obligations would be under the agreement. He said the debate was ''a disgrace'' and ''the RNC does a terrible job''.
In the past two debates, audiences booed Trump repeatedly after tangling with a rival, Jeb Bush, on issues like the Iraq war and eminent domain. The Trump campaign has insisted that the audiences were packed with ''donors and special interests'', a claim that has been repeatedly and vehemently denied by party leadership in the RNC.
Trump did elaborate on how he noticed familiar faces out in the crowd, and mimicked how one acquaintance waved and sniggered. ''He's going 'boo, boo!' And he's waving at me,'' Trump said. ''They're booing me because they're having fun!''
''I'm saying this is crazy! But I know many of these people,'' he continued. ''That was a wealthy room.''
The billionaire has made his independence from lobbyists and donors a central pillar of his campaign, though his claim of a completely self-funded campaign is freighted with half-truths and caveats. Trump has nevertheless accused his rivals, all active politicians for years and sometimes decades, of being at the beck and call of special interests such as Wall Street and the oil companies.
Trump's threat to run as a third-party candidate is unusual since it comes five days before the South Carolina primary '' a state where the Republican frontrunner has a commanding lead in the polls and is expected to win easily.
In his anti-Cruz statement, Trump runs through various accusations levelled by the senator and attempts to rebut them. ''What Cruz says is incredible,'' he told reporters. ''I will bring that lawsuit if he doesn't apologize.''
Trump raised Cruz's birthplace repeatedly before the Iowa caucuses, and cited the opinion of a Harvard Law professor who claims Cruz's eligibility is an ''unsettled'' question. Cruz has argued that he is eligible, as was John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone to two Americans. In 2008 the Senate passed a resolution confirming McCain's eligibility, but McCain himself has said Congress should examine Cruz's status.
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton Imitates Barking Dog While Talking About Republicans - YouTube
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 13:40
VIDEO-Thousands of penguins die after iceberg traps colony - CNN.com
Mon, 15 Feb 2016 00:08
Combined with expanding ice, the B09B iceberg, which at 1,120 square miles is almost the size of Rhode Island, has cut off the Adelie penguins' food supply and changed the landscape of their home, according to a February report in the peer-reviewed journal published by Cambridge University Press.
The towering mass of water ice first ran aground into the penguins' habitat of Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay in 2010. Before that it was floating along the coast for nearly 20 years before colliding into the bay. The iceberg essentially has landlocked the penguins, forcing the animals to trek across a desolate stretch of nearly 40 miles to find food.
The once 160,000-strong colony has now dwindled to 10,000 penguins.
"The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica... has dramatically increased the distance Ad(C)lie penguins breeding at Cape Denison must travel in search of food," said researchers in the report.
Since 2011, the colony's population has fallen dramatically, according to the Climate Change Research Center at Australia's University of New South Wales.
The outlook for the Cape Denison Adelie penguins remains dire. Unless the colossal iceberg is broken up by sea ice, scientists predict the colony will disappear in 20 years.
About 5,500 pairs are still breeding in the area, but there has been a significant decline in their population compared with a century ago, according to estimates based on satellite images and a census in 1997.
However, it isn't the end for all Adelie penguins. About five miles from the Commonwealth Bay, another colony is thriving, which leaves scientists to conclude that the iceberg has had a direct impact of the species that is now landlocked. About 30% of the Adelie penguin population lives in East Antarctica.
Research on the iceberg's impact on the Adelie penguins can give scientists insight into the wider implications on the effects of increasing sea ice in the area.
Long-term environmental changes are projected for the Southern Ocean, which will likely affect marine predators, according to a 2015 report published the peer-reviewed journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Environmental shifts because of climate change could also affect the breeding habitats of land creatures, finding food in a marine environment and the availability of prey for larger predators
Meet the man who spies on penguins for science
Deglaciation, the gradual melting of glaciers, is a key driver in the Adelie penguins' population over a millennium, according to scientists. But while changes in sea ice can directly affect the species, scientists say it's important to keep perspective on the penguins' population over a larger time frame.
VIDEO-TWiT's Abortion of a Live Event at the Crunchies 2016 Featuring Sarah Lane - YouTube
Sun, 14 Feb 2016 23:34

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Evo Morales Referendum personal life attacks.mp3

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