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Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

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May 15th, 2016
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Elections 2016
Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself - The Washington Post
Fri, 13 May 2016 20:55
The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he's a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, ''I'm sort of new here,'' and ''I'm somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes'' and even ''I'm going to do this a little, part-time, and then, yeah, go on with my life.''
A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump's early career experienced in the 1970s, '80s and '90s: calls from Trump's Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with ''John Miller'' or ''John Barron'' '-- public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself '-- who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump's top aides.
In 1991, Sue Carswell, a reporter at People magazine, called Trump's office seeking an interview with the developer. She had just been assigned to cover the soap opera surrounding the end of Trump's 12-year marriage to Ivana, his budding relationship with the model Marla Maples and his rumored affairs with any number of celebrities who regularly appeared on the gossip pages of the New York newspapers.
Within five minutes, Carswell got a return call from Trump's publicist, a man named John Miller, who immediately jumped into a startlingly frank and detailed explanation of why Trump dumped Maples for the Italian model Carla Bruni. ''He really didn't want to make a commitment,'' Miller said. ''He's coming out of a marriage, and he's starting to do tremendously well financially.''
Miller turned out to be a remarkably forthcoming source '-- a spokesman with rare insight into the private thoughts and feelings of his client. ''Have you met him?'' Miller asked the reporter. ''He's a good guy, and he's not going to hurt anybody. .'‰.'‰. He treated his wife well and .'‰.'‰. he will treat Marla well.''
[Read the full text of the 'John Miller' interview]
Some reporters found the calls from Miller or Barron disturbing or even creepy; others thought they were just examples of Trump being playful. Today, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president faces questions about his attitudes toward women, what stands out to some who received those calls is Trump's characterization of women who he portrayed as drawn to him sexually.
''Actresses,'' Miller said in the call to Carswell, ''just call to see if they can go out with him and things.'' Madonna ''wanted to go out with him.'' And Trump's alter ego boasted that in addition to living with Maples, Trump had ''three other girlfriends.''
Miller was consistent about referring to Trump as ''he,'' but at one point, when asked how important Bruni was in Trump's busy love life, the spokesman said, ''I think it's somebody that '-- you know, she's beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful .'‰.'‰. '' and then he quickly pivoted back into talking about Trump '-- then a 44-year-old father of three '-- in the third person.
In 1990, Trump testified in a court case that ''I believe on occasion I used that name.'' He did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
In a phone call to NBC's ''Today'' program Friday morning after this article appeared online, Trump denied that he was John Miller. ''No, I don't think it '-- I don't know anything about it. You're telling me about it for the first time and it doesn't sound like my voice at all,'' he said. ''I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice and then you can imagine that, and this sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams '-- doesn't sound like me.'' Later, he was more definitive: ''It was not me on the phone. And it doesn't sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone. And when was this? Twenty-five years ago?''
Then, Friday afternoon, Washington Post reporters who were 44 minutes into a phone interview with Trump about his finances asked him a question about Miller: ''Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson?''
The phone went silent, then dead. When the reporters called back and reached Trump's secretary, she said, ''I heard you got disconnected. He can't take the call now. I don't know what happened.''
Trump has never been terribly adamant about denying that he often made calls to reporters posing as someone else. From his earliest years in business, he occasionally called reporters using the name ''John Barron.''
A ''John Baron,'' described as a ''vice-president of the Trump organization,'' appeared in a front-page New York Times article as early as 1980, defending Trump's decision to destroy sculptures on the facade of the Bonwit Teller department store building, the Fifth Avenue landmark he was demolishing to make way for his Trump Tower. Barron was quoted variously as a ''Trump spokesman,'' ''Trump executive,'' or ''Trump representative'' in New York magazine, The Washington Post and other publications.
Trump's fascination with the name ''Barron'' persisted for decades. When he was seeing Maples while still married to Ivana, he sometimes used the code name ''the Baron'' when he left messages for her. In 2004, when Trump commissioned a dramatic TV series based on the life of a New York real estate mogul like him, his only request to the writer was to name the main character ''Barron.'' And when Trump and his third wife, Melania, had a son, they named him Barron.
[Watch a scene from the drama series based on Trump's life]
In the 1991 recording, Miller sounded quite at ease regaling the reporter with tales of Trump hanging out with Madonna at a ball at the Plaza Hotel, which he owned at the time. Asked about the rumored Madonna-Trump friendship, Miller, unlike every other PR man on the planet, neither batted the question away nor gave it short shrift. Rather, he said, ''Do you have a second?''
Carswell, the reporter, sounded a bit startled: ''Yeah, obviously,'' she replied.
Whereupon Miller offered a detailed account of the Trump encounter with Madonna, who ''came in a beautiful evening gown and combat boots.'' The PR man assured the reporter that nothing untoward occurred: ''He's got zero interest that night.''
Miller also revealed to Carswell why Trump seemed to relish any and all media coverage, even the most critical. ''I can tell you that he didn't care if he got bad PR until he got his divorce finished,'' Miller said. The more the press wrote about Trump's money troubles, the greater advantage he would have in negotiations toward a financial settlement with his then-estranged wife, Ivana. Then, ''once his divorce is finished,'' Miller said, you would see stories about how Trump was ''doing well financially and he's doing well in every other way.''
Carswell this week recalled that she immediately recognized something familiar in the Queens accent of Trump's new publicist. She thought, ''It's so weird that Donald hired someone who sounds just like him.'' After the 20-minute interview, she walked down the hall to play the tape to co-workers, who identified Trump's voice. Carswell then called Cindy Adams, the longtime New York Post gossip columnist who had been close to Trump since the early 1970s. Adams immediately identified the voice as Trump's.
''Oh, that's Donald,'' Carswell recalled Adams saying. ''What is he doing?''
Then Carswell played the tape for Maples, who confirmed it was Trump and burst into tears as she heard Miller deny that a ring Trump gave her implied any intent to marry her.
Carswell, now a reporter-researcher at Vanity Fair, said the tape cuts off mid-interview, leaving out the part in which Miller said that actress Kim Basinger had been trying to date Trump. Hearing the tape for the first time in decades, Carswell said, ''This was so farcical, that he pretended to be his own publicist. Here was this so-called billion-dollar real estate mogul, and he can't hire his own publicist. It also said something about the control he wanted to keep of the news cycle flowing with this story, and I can't believe he thought he'd get away with it.''
[Trump's past crude sex talk collides with his White House bid]
The Post obtained the recording from a source who provided it on the condition of anonymity. Carswell shared the microcassette of the call with the source shortly after the interview.
From the start of his career as a builder in New York, Trump worked the press. He believed in carrots and sticks, showering reporters with praise, then pivoting to a threat to sue them if they wrote something he considered inaccurate. He often said that all publicity, good or bad, was good for his business.
He made himself available to reporters at nearly any time, for hours on end. And he called them, too, to promote his own projects, but also with juicy bits of gossip.
''One thing I've learned about the press is that they're always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better,'' Trump wrote in ''The Art of the Deal,'' his bestseller. ''The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.''
Trump did not describe using false identities to promote his brand, but he did write about why he strays from the strict truth: ''I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration '-- and a very effective form of promotion.''
Carswell was far from the only reporter who received calls from suspiciously Trumpian characters. Linda Stasi, then a New York Daily News gossip columnist, said Trump once left her a voice mail from an ''anonymous tipster'' who wanted it known that Trump had been spotted going out with models. And editors at New York tabloids said calls from Barron were at points so common that they became a recurring joke on the city desk.
After Carswell's story appeared '-- headlined ''Trump Says Goodbye Marla, Hello Carla .'‰.'‰. And a Mysterious PR Man Who Sounds Just Like Donald Calls to Spread the Story'' '-- Trump invited the reporter out for a night on the town with him and Maples. Carswell said Maples persuaded Trump to issue the invitation as an apology for tricking her. A few weeks later, when People ran a story about Trump and Maples getting engaged, Trump was quoted saying that the John Miller call was a ''joke gone awry.''
Carswell had been skeptical all along. On the recording, she challenged Miller: ''Where did you come from?''
''I basically worked for different firms,'' he replied cryptically. And then he marveled at his boss's ability to withstand critical news coverage: ''I've never seen somebody so immune to .'‰.'‰. bad press.''
Miller was also impressed by his client's social life: ''I mean, he's living with Marla and he's got three other girlfriends. '' But the PR man wanted the reporter to know that Trump believed in ''the marriage concept'' and planned to settle down, on his own terms: ''He does things for himself. When he makes a decision, that will be a very lucky woman.''
Hillary Clinton eyes all-female ticket
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:17
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A Trump presidency has Americans looking north - BBC News-CANDANAVIA
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:30
Image copyrightMapleMatch.comEvery four years, terrified by a potential president, many Americans roll out a well-worn pronouncement: "I'm moving to Canada!"
However, this year they have help to make that often empty threat a reality.
The 2016 election campaign has been full of surprises, the biggest is Donald Trump. His divisive campaign has turned some American voters off. But he's on track to become the Republican nominee after receiving more support than his contenders. His lack of political experience is refreshing for his supporters who believe his business background shows he can get things done.
Before entering the race he was best known for being the host of US reality TV show The Apprentice. During his campaign he's made controversial remarks including proposing a ban on Muslims entering the country, building a wall between Mexico and the US, and accusing Mexicans of being rapists.
A website called MapleMatch.com is promising to save Americans from "the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency" and its slogan takes inspiration from the campaign: "Making dating great again."
Google searches for "how can I move to Canada" spiked after Mr Trump won seven out of 11 primaries during "Super Tuesday", according to the search engine's data editor Simon Rogers.
The American founder of MapleMatch Joe Goldman saw an opportunity to connect those wanting to leave the US with Canadians through dating. He says the website is more than just about trying to escape Donald Trump and is a real chance for Americans and Canadians to find love across a border. The unexpected demand means there is work to be done on how to match people when it launches.
Canadian loveAubrey Knotts said escaping a Trump presidency was "a big reason" why she signed up but not the only reason. "I also just really love the country, I went on a trip to Toronto during my senior year of high school and fell in love."
She said it was a silly thing to sign up for but though it was worth a shot and she was seriously considering moving but as a student she'd have to think about whether she had the money to move.
But not everyone is taking it as seriously. Edie Harris from Chicago said she signed up as a joke and didn't think she'd leave the US. She said: "I can't see myself taking an escape route from something I could feasibly help change again four to eight years down the road, in another election cycle."
Image copyrightMapleMatchImage caption Edie Harris's comments on MapleMatch The idea to lure dissatisfied Americans to Canada is not new. Rob Calabrese, a radio DJ set up a website to attract them to the Canadian island of Cape Breton. The website was visited by "over one million people" and Mr Calabrese said he was "honoured" to have brought so much attention to the island. The offer wasn't just for those fleeing the possibility of President Trump. "We welcome all, no matter who you support, be it Democrat, Republican or Donald Trump."
A Canadian technology start-up company called Sortable advertised job opportunities on Facebook targeting Americans looking to live abroad.
The founder, Chris Reid, told Vox: "Just the whole thing seems bizarre. And that's why we thought, 'Oh, we should do some bizarre recruiting around it'" '-- placing Facebook ads encouraging American engineers to come work at Sortable and escape the Trump." Despite the ploy they admitted on their website they didn't think Americans would move en masse to Canada because of the election.
Image copyrightFacebookMr Goldman said it's "exciting to be able to be a conduit" for people finding love and has always been interested in Canada. It's not surprising then, that as a single American dreading the idea of President Trump he's also signed up - although he adds there'll be no preferential treatment for him.
While the service aims to help Americans escape a possible Donald Trump presidency, for Canadians Mr Goldman says it could widen their dating pool and "meet people they wouldn't usually meet". The service hasn't gone live yet but there are already around 10,000 people signed up, and the site has seen so much traffic they've struggled to keep up.
Finding a Canadian to date isn't the only option for Americans who are seriously considering emigrating. Moving temporarily for work is quite easy under current agreements between the two countries. Although if choosing to stay permanently the special treatment for US citizens ends and they are treated the same by Canada's points-style system as someone from Norway or Yemen.
Celebrities planning to moveLena Dunham, creator of HBO show Girls: "I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will... I know a lovely place in Vancouver and I can get my work done from there."Raven-Symon(C), co-host of ABC's The View: "I'm gonna move to Canada with my entire family... I already have my ticket '... No, I literally bought my ticket, I swear."Cher, singer: "IF HE WERE TO BE ELECTED, IM MOVING TO JUPITER"Jon Stewart, former Daily Show host - "I would consider getting in a rocket and going to another planet... because clearly this planet's gone bonkers."Whoopi Goldberg, actress: "Maybe it's time for me to move, you know... I can afford to go"Miley Cyrus, singer: "I am moving if this is my president! I don't say things I don't mean!"There are also threats from the other side of political spectrum. A pro-Bernie Sanders Facebook group called "If Hillary Clinton becomes President, I'm moving to Costa Rica" is encouraging people to join to show the Democratic National Committee "we will not settle for Hillary". Although it hasn't gained many followers and is using the threat as a way to get their voice heard, rather than seriously leaving the US.
In March a Global News Ipsos poll suggested that 19% of Americans would head to Canada if Mr Trump won and it also found that 15% would leave if Mrs Clinton became president. But similar sentiments in previous elections haven't materialised. The number of US citizens permanently moving to Canada has been relatively stable around 9,000 since 2005. There was a slight peak in 2008 - the year President Barack Obama was elected - although the reasons why people left America is unknown.
Image copyrightAssociated Press / The Canadian PressImage caption Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau President Obama isn't fazed: "Every time we have a presidential election, our friends to the north have to brace for an exodus of Americans who swear they'll move to Canada if the guy from the other party wins. But, typically, it turns out fine."
"I am absolutely certain that, in 2012, when there was the possibility that I might be re-elected there were folks who were threatening to go to Canada, as well. And one of the great things about a relationship like Canada's and the United States' is it transcends party and it's bipartisan in terms of the interest that we share."
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agrees that he's heard it all before during the elections and re-elections of George W Bush and Barack Obama. He told Vox, the threats showed Americans were realising how important the election was and needed "to make sure their voices get heard".
Despite the rarity there have been some politically motivated moves.
Tom Kertes moved with his husband from Seattle to Canada after President George W Bush proposed to ban same-sex marriage in 2005. He told the Guardian: "If Americans want to live in a country where there is an investment in public education, where people aren't afraid of going bankrupt because they get sick, and where democracy is taken seriously, they should move, because an alternative exists."
David Cohen, a Canadian immigration attorney, is sceptical any Americans would actually make the move, quoting Shakespeare he said: "it's much ado about nothing."
Americans are extremely patriotic people and politics doesn't really play a part in why people move, he said.
But things could change if Mr Trump became president and carried out some of the controversial policies he's talked about. America would change, says Mr Cohen and "all bets would be off".
Julie-Did The Clinton Foundation Give $2 Million To Bill's "Energizer" Mistress? | Zero Hedge
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:47
At Bill Clinton's behest, a $2 million commitment for Energy Pioneer Solutions was placed on the agenda during a September 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative. As it turns out, the commitment is a bit of an issue...
At the heart of the issue is the foundation sent funding to a company that had significant ties to the Clinton family according to the WSJ. The IRS website states that any 501(c)(3) should not be operated for the benefit of private interests.
The WSJ explains the connections
Energy Pioneer Solutions was founded in 2009 by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who twice ran for Congress from Nebraska. An internal document from that year showed it as owned 29% by Mr. Kleeb; 29% by Jane Eckert, the owner of an art gallery in Pine Plains, N.Y.; and 29% by Julie Tauber McMahon of Chappaqua, N.Y., a close friend of Mr. Clinton, who also lives in Chappaqua.
Owning 5% each were Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias and Mark Weiner, a supplier to political campaigns and former Rhode Island Democratic chairman, both longtime friends of the Clintons.
The Clinton Global Initiative holds an annual conference at which it announces monetary commitments from corporations, individuals or nonprofit organizations to address global challenges'--commitments on which it has acted in a matchmaking role. Typically, the commitments go to charities and nongovernmental organizations. The commitment to Energy Pioneer Solutions was atypical because it originated from a private individual who was making a personal financial investment in a for-profit company.
Not only did the Clinton's oversee $2 million being sent to friends at Energy Pioneer Solutions via the foundation, according to the WSJ, Bill also personally endorsed the company to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant, ultimately leading to a grant in the amount of $812,000. Of course, Chu now says he doesn't remember the conversation.
As it is no stranger to having to scramble and do damage control, the foundation has come out with the following narrative:
Asked about the commitment, foundation officials said, ''President Clinton has forged an amazing universe of relationships and friendships throughout his life that endure to this day, and many of those individuals and friends are involved in CGI Commitments because they share a passion for making a positive impact in the world. As opposed to a conflict of interest, they share a common interest.''
A spokesman for Mr. Clinton, Angel Urena, said, ''President Clinton counts many CGI participants as friends.'' Mrs. Clinton's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.
A Clinton Foundation spokesman, Craig Minassian, called the commitment an instance of ''mission-driven investing'...in and by for-profit companies,'' which he said ''is a common practice in the broader philanthropic space, as well as among CGI commitments.'' Of thousands of CGI commitments, Mr. Minassian cited three other examples of what he described as mission-driven investing involving a private party and a for-profit company such as Energy Pioneer Solutions.
Energy Pioneer Solutions has struggled to operate profitably, and an audit found deficiencies in how the company accounted for expenses paid with federal grant money - surprise, surprise, another government funded (and Clinton funded) enterprise that can't make a profit and has lost taxpayer money.
Energy Pioneer Solutions has struggled to operate profitably. It lost more than $300,000 in 2010 and another $300,000 in the first half of 2011, said records submitted for an Energy Department audit. Mr. Kleeb noted that losses are common at startups.
The audit found deficiencies in how the company accounted for expenses paid with federal grant money, Energy Department records show. The company addressed the deficiencies, and a revised cost proposal was approved in 2011, said an Energy Department spokeswoman, Joshunda Sanders.
Recently, Mr. Kleeb laid off most of his staff, closed his offices, sold a fleet of trucks and changed his business strategy, promising to launch a national effort instead. ''We are right now gearing up to start under this new model,'' he said.
Asked if Energy Pioneer Solutions has ever broken even, Mr. Kleeb said, ''We're at that stage'...We are expanding and doing well. We have partnerships, and it's good.''
Partnerships indeed. Speaking of partnerships, there is a connection that is noteworthy in this tangled web of cronyism...
One of the owners of Energy Pioneer Solutions was Julie Tauber McMahon. She described Bill as a "close family friend" in an interview, but perhaps there is a bit more to that story.
As the NY Post reports
The fit, blond mother of three, who lives just minutes from Bill and Hillary Clinton's home in Chappaqua, West­chester, is the daughter of Joel Tauber, a millionaire donor to the Democratic Party.
McMahon, 54, is rumored to be the woman dubbed ''Energizer'' by the Secret Service at the Clinton home because of her frequent visits, according to RadarOnline.
Secret Service agents were even given special instructions to abandon usual protocol when the woman came by, according to journalist Ronald Kessler's tell-all book, ''The First Family Detail.''
''You don't stop her, you don't approach her, you just let her go in,'' says the book, based on agents' accounts.
''Energizer'' is described in the book as a charming visitor who sometimes brought cookies to the agents.
The book describes one sun-drenched afternoon when agents took notice of the woman's revealing attire.
''It was a warm day, and she was wearing a low-cut tank top, and as she leaned over, her breasts were very exposed,'' an agent is quoted in the book.
''They appeared to be very perky and very new and full .'‰.'‰. There was no doubt in my mind they were enhanced.''
''Energizer'' reportedly timed her arrivals and departures around Hillary Clinton's schedule.
McMahon has denied in reports having an intimate relationship with Bill Clinton.
* * *
While nobody knows for certain if Bill was funding a mistress (which really wouldn't surprise anyone), the fact remains that this is yet another stunning example that cronyism is alive and well.
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Nukes
The Day After (TV Movie 1983) - IMDb
Fri, 13 May 2016 00:46
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The Day After - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 13 May 2016 00:42
The Day After is an American television film that first aired on November 20, 1983, on the ABC television network. More than 100 million people watched the program during its initial broadcast.[1] It is currently the highest-rated television film in history.[2]
The film postulates a fictional war between NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact that rapidly escalates into a full-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, the action itself focuses on the residents of Lawrence, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as several family farms situated near nuclear missile silos.
The cast includes JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg, John Cullum, Jason Robards, and John Lithgow. The film was written by Edward Hume, produced by Robert Papazian, and directed by Nicholas Meyer. It was released on DVD on May 18, 2004, by MGM.
Background on the warEditThe chronology of the events leading up to the war is depicted entirely via television and radio news broadcasts, and characters' reactions to them. The Soviet Union is shown to have commenced a military buildup in East Germany (which the Soviets insist are Warsaw Pact exercises) with the goal of intimidating the United States into withdrawing from West Berlin. When the United States does not back down, Soviet armored divisions are sent to the border between West and East Germany.
During the late hours of Friday, September 15, news broadcasts report a "widespread rebellion among several divisions of the East German Army." As a result, the Soviets blockade West Berlin. Tensions mount, and the United States issues an ultimatum that the Soviets stand down from the blockade by 6:00 a.m. the next day, and noncompliance will be interpreted as an act of war. The Soviets refuse, and the President of the United States orders all U.S. military forces around the world on alert.
On Saturday, September 16, NATO forces in West Germany invade East Germany through the Helmstedt checkpoint to free Berlin. The Soviets hold the Marienborn corridor and inflict heavy casualties on NATO troops. Two Soviet MiG-25s cross into West German airspace and bomb a NATO munitions storage facility, also striking a school and a hospital. A subsequent radio broadcast states that Moscow is being evacuated. At this point, major U.S. cities begin mass evacuations as well. There soon follow unconfirmed reports that nuclear weapons were used in Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf, naval warfare erupts, as radio reports tell of ship sinkings on both sides.
Eventually, the Soviet Army reaches the Rhine. Seeking to prevent Soviet forces from invading France and causing the rest of Western Europe to fall, NATO halts the Soviet advance by airbursting three low-yield tactical nuclear weapons over advancing Soviet troops. Soviet forces counter by launching a nuclear strike on NATO headquarters in Brussels. In response, the United States Strategic Air Command begins scrambling B-52 bombers.
The Soviet Air Force then destroys a BMEWS station in RAF Fylingdales, England and another at Beale Air Force Base in California. Meanwhile, on board the EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft, the order comes in from the President of the United States for a full nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Almost simultaneously, an Air Force officer receives a report that a massive Soviet nuclear assault against the United States has been launched, stating "32 targets in track, with 10 impacting points." Another airman receives a report that over 300 Soviet ICBMs are inbound. It is deliberately unclear in the film whether the Soviet Union or the United States launches the main nuclear attack first.
The first salvo of the Soviet nuclear attack on the central United States (as shown from the point of view of the residents of Kansas and western Missouri) occurs at 3:38 p.m. Central Daylight Time, when a large-yield nuclear weapon air bursts at high altitude over Kansas City, Missouri. This generates an electromagnetic pulse that shuts down the electric power grid of the surrounding area. Thirty seconds later, incoming Soviet ICBMs begin to hit military and population targets, including the Missouri municipalities Kansas City. Sedalia, and all the way south to El Dorado Springs, which are blanketed with ground burst nuclear weapons. While the story provides no specifics, it strongly suggests that America's cities, military, and industrial bases are heavily damaged or destroyed. The aftermath depicts the central United States as a blackened wasteland of burned-out cities filled with burn, blast, and radiation victims. Eventually, the U.S. President delivers a radio address in which he declares there is now a ceasefire between the United States and the Soviet Union (which, although not shown, has suffered the same devastating effects) and states there has not been and will not ever be any surrender by the United States.
PlotEditThe story follows several citizens and people they encounter after a nuclear attack on Lawrence, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. The film's narrative is structured as a before-during-after scenario: the first segment introduces the various characters and their stories, the second shows the nuclear disaster itself, and the third details the effects of the fallout on the characters.
Dr. Russell Oakes (Jason Robards) lives in the upper-class Brookside neighborhood with his wife (Georgann Johnson) and works in a hospital in downtown Kansas City. He is scheduled to teach a hematology class at the University of Kansas (KU) hospital in nearby Lawrence, Kansas, and is en route when he hears an alarming Emergency Broadcast System alert on his car radio. He exits the crowded freeway and attempts to contact his wife but gives up due to the long line at a phone booth. Oakes attempts to return to his home via the K-10 freeway and is the only eastbound motorist. The nuclear attack begins, and Kansas City is gripped with panic as air raid sirens wail. Oakes' car is permanently disabled by the electromagnetic pulse from the first high altitude detonation, as are all motor vehicles and electricity. Oakes is about 30 miles (48 km) away from downtown when the missiles hit. His family, many colleagues, and almost all of Kansas City's population are killed. He walks 10 miles (16 km) to Lawrence, which has been severely damaged from the blasts, and, at the university hospital, treats the wounded with Dr. Sam Hachiya (Calvin Jung) and Nurse Nancy Bauer (JoBeth Williams). Also at the university, science Professor Joe Huxley (John Lithgow) and students use a Geiger counter to monitor the level of nuclear fallout outside. They build a makeshift radio to maintain contact with Dr. Oakes at the hospital as well as to locate any other broadcasting survivors outside the city.
Billy McCoy (William Allen Young) is an Airman First Class in the United States Air Force, stationed at Whiteman AFB near Kansas City, and is called to duty during the DEFCON 2 alert. As a missile repair technician at a silo, he is among the first to witness the initial missile launches, indicating full-scale nuclear war. After it becomes clear that a Soviet counterstrike is imminent, the soldiers panic. Several airmen stubbornly insist that they should stay at their post on duty and take shelter in the silo, while others, including McCoy, point out that it is futile because the silo will not withstand a direct hit. McCoy tells them they have done their jobs and speeds away in an Air force truck to retrieve his wife and child in Sedalia, but the truck is permanently disabled and stalls from the EMP effect of the first high altitude detonation. Realizing what has happened, McCoy abandons the truck and takes shelter inside an overturned semi truck trailer, barely escaping the oncoming nuclear blast. After the attack, McCoy walks towards a town and finds an abandoned store, where he takes candy bars and other provisions, while gunfire is heard in the distance. While standing in line for a drink of water from a well pump, McCoy befriends a man who is mute and shares his provisions. McCoy asks another man, who is walking along the road with other injured survivors, what happened to Sedalia, and the man indicates that Sedalia and Windsor no longer exist. As McCoy and his companion both begin to suffer the effects of radiation sickness, they leave a refugee camp and head to the hospital at Lawrence, where McCoy ultimately succumbs to the radiation sickness.
Farmer Jim Dahlberg (John Cullum) and his family live in rural Harrisonville, Missouri, about 37 miles (60 km) from Kansas City[3] but very close to a field of missile silos. While the family is preparing for the wedding of their elder daughter, Denise, to KU senior Bruce Gallatin, Jim is forced to prepare for the impending attack by converting their basement into a makeshift fallout shelter. As the missiles are launched, he forcefully carries his wife Eve (Bibi Besch), who refuses to accept the reality of the escalating crisis and continues making wedding preparations, downstairs into the basement. While running to the shelter, the Dahlberg's son, Danny, inadvertently looks directly at a nuclear explosion and is flash-blinded.
A KU student, Stephen Klein (Steve Guttenberg), while hitchhiking home to Joplin, Missouri, stumbles upon the farm and persuades the Dahlbergs to take him in. After several days in the basement, Denise, distraught over the situation and the unknown whereabouts of Bruce, who, unbeknownst to her, was killed in the attack, escapes from the basement and runs about the field that is cluttered with dead animals. She sees a clear blue sky and thinks the worst is over. However, the field is actually covered in radioactive fallout. Klein goes after her, attempting to warn her about the effects of the nuclear radiation that '' though invisible, intangible, and tasteless '' is going through her cells like x-rays, but Denise, ignoring this warning, tries to run from him. Eventually, Klein is able to chase Denise back to safety in the basement, but not before Denise runs to the stairs to find her wedding dress. Because she ran about the contaminated field, Denise slowly develops radiation sickness and, during a makeshift church service, she begins to bleed externally, while the minister tries to express how lucky they are to have survived and a Presidential address remarks that there is a ceasefire between the United States and the Soviet Union, which has suffered similar damage, and states that there has not been and will not ever be any surrender by the United States.
Klein takes Danny and Denise to Lawrence for treatment. Dr. Hachiya unsuccessfully attempts to treat Danny, and Klein also develops radiation sickness. Dahlberg, upon returning from an emergency farmers' meeting, confronts a group of survivors squatting on his farm and is shot and killed.
Ultimately, the situation at the hospital becomes grim. Dr. Oakes collapses from exhaustion and, upon awakening several days later, learns that Nurse Bauer has died from meningitis. Oakes, suffering from terminal radiation sickness, decides to return to Kansas City to see his home for the last time, while Dr. Hachiya stays behind. Oakes hitches a ride on an Army National Guard truck, where he witnesses military personnel blindfolding and executing looters. After somehow managing to locate where his home was, he finds the charred remains of his wife's wristwatch and a family huddled in the ruins. Oakes angrily orders them to leave his home. The family silently offers Oakes food, causing him to collapse in despair, as a member of the family comforts him.
As the scene fades to black, Professor Huxley calls into his makeshift radio: "Hello? Is anybody there? Anybody at all?" There is no response.
The Day After was the idea of ABC Motion Picture Division president Brandon Stoddard,[4] who, after watching The China Syndrome, was so impressed that he envisioned creating a film exploring the effects of nuclear war on the United States. Stoddard asked his executive vice president of television movies and miniseries Stu Samuels to develop a script. Samuels created the title The Day After to emphasize that the story was not about a nuclear war itself, but the aftermath. Samuels suggested several writers and eventually Stoddard commissioned veteran television writer Edward Hume to write the script in 1981. ABC, which financed the production, was concerned about the graphic nature of the film and how to appropriately portray the subject on a family-oriented television channel. Hume undertook a massive amount of research on nuclear war and went through several drafts until finally ABC deemed the plot and characters acceptable.
Originally, the film was based more around and in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City was not bombed in the original script, although Whiteman Air Force Base was, making Kansas City suffer shock waves and the horde of survivors staggering into town. There was no Lawrence, Kansas in the story, although there was a small Kansas town called "Hampton". While Hume was writing the script, he and producer Robert Papazian, who had great experience in on-location shooting, took several trips to Kansas City to scout locations and met with officials from the Kansas film commission and from the Kansas tourist offices to search for a suitable location for "Hampton." It came down to a choice of either Warrensburg, Missouri and Lawrence, Kansas, both college towns '-- Warrensburg was home of Central Missouri State University and was near Whiteman Air Force Base and Lawrence was home of the University of Kansas and was near Kansas City. Hume and Papazian ended up selecting Lawrence, due to the access to a number of good locations: a university, a hospital, football and basketball venues, farms, and a beautiful countryside. Lawrence was also agreed upon as being the "geographic center" of the United States. The Lawrence people were urging ABC to change the name "Hampton" to "Lawrence" in the script.
Back in Los Angeles, the idea of making a TV movie showing the true effects of nuclear war on average American citizens was still stirring up controversy. ABC, Hume, and Papazian realized that for the scene depicting the nuclear blast, they would have to use state-of-the-art special effects and they took the first step by hiring some of the best special effects people in the business to draw up some storyboards for the complicated blast scene. Then, ABC hired Robert Butler to direct the project. For several months, this group worked on drawing up storyboards and revising the script again and again; then, in early 1982, Butler was forced to leave The Day After because of other contractual commitments. ABC then offered the project to two other directors, who both turned it down. Finally, in May, ABC hired feature film director Nicholas Meyer, who had just completed the blockbuster Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Meyer was apprehensive at first and doubted ABC would get away with making a television film on nuclear war without the censors diminishing its effect. However, after reading the script, Meyer agreed to direct The Day After.
However, Meyer wanted to make sure he would film the script he was offered. He did not want the censors to censor the film, nor the film to be a regular Hollywood disaster movie from the start. Meyer figured the more The Day After resembled such a film, the less effective it would be, and preferred to present the facts of nuclear war to viewers. He made it clear to ABC that no big TV or film stars should be in The Day After. ABC agreed, although they wanted to have one star to help attract European audiences to the film when it would be shown theatrically there. Later, while flying to visit his parents in New York City, Meyer happened to be on the same plane with Jason Robards and asked him to join the cast.
Meyer plunged into several months of nuclear research, which made him quite pessimistic about the future, to point of becoming ill each evening when he came home from work. Meyer and Papazian also made trips to the ABC censors, and to the United States Department of Defense during their research phase, and experienced conflicts with both. Meyer had many heated arguments over elements in the script, that the network censors wanted cut out of the film. The Department of Defense said they would cooperate with ABC if the script made clear that the Soviet Union launched their missiles first'--something Meyer and Papazian took pains not to do.
In any case, Meyer, Papazian, Hume, and several casting directors spent most of July 1982 taking numerous trips to Kansas City. In between casting in Los Angeles, where they relied mostly on unknowns, they would fly to the Kansas City area to interview local actors and scenery. They were hoping to find some real Midwesterners for smaller roles. Hollywood casting directors strolled through shopping malls in Kansas City, looking for local people to fill small and supporting roles, while the daily newspaper in Lawrence ran an advertisement calling for local residents of all ages to sign up for jobs as a large number of extras in the film and a professor of theater and film at the University of Kansas was hired to head up the local casting of the movie. Out of the eighty or so speaking parts, only fifteen were cast in Los Angeles. The remaining roles were filled in Kansas City and Lawrence.
While in Kansas City, Meyer and Papazian toured the Federal Emergency Management Agency offices in Kansas City. When asked what their plans for surviving nuclear war were, a FEMA official replied that they were experimenting with putting evacuation instructions in telephone books in New England. "In about six years, everyone should have them." This meeting led Meyer to later refer to FEMA as "a complete joke." It was during this time that the decision was made to change "Hampton" in the script to "Lawrence." Meyer and Hume figured since Lawrence was a real town, that it would be more believable and besides, Lawrence was a perfect choice to play a representative of Middle America. The town boasted a "socio-cultural mix," sat near the exact geographic center of the continental U.S., and Hume and Meyer's research told them that Lawrence was a prime missile target, because 150 Minuteman missile silos stood nearby. Lawrence had some great locations, and the people there were more supportive of the project. Suddenly, less emphasis was put on Kansas City, the decision was made to have the city completely annihilated in the script, and Lawrence was made the primary location in the film.
FilmingEditProduction began on Monday, August 16, 1982, at a farm just west of Lawrence. Sunshine was needed but it turned out to be an overcast day. The set required a floodlight. The crew set fire to the farm's red barn for one scene during the blast sequence, though this shot was eventually cut. The owner of the farm was not paid, but ABC did compensate by building him a new barn. A set in rural Lawrence, depicting a schoolhouse, was made in six days from fiberglass "skins." On Monday, August 30, 1982, ABC shut down Rusty's IGA supermarket in Lawrence's Hillcrest Shopping Center from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. to shoot a scene representing panic buying. A local man and his infant son came to the market, apparently unaware that ABC was filming a movie. The man reportedly saw the chaos and ran back into his car in fear.
Local extras were paid $75 to shave heads bald, have prosthetic latex scar tissue and burn-marks affixed to their faces, be plastered with coats of artificial mud, and be dressed in tattered clothes for scenes of radiation sickness. They were requested not to bathe or shower until filming was completed. In a small Lawrence park, ABC set up a grimy shantytown to serve as home to survivors. It was known as "Tent City." On Friday, September 3, 1982, the cameras rolled with many students as extras. The next day, Jason Robards, the best-known "star" of the film, arrived and production moved to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Many local individuals and businesses profited. It was estimated in newspaper accounts that ABC spent $1 million in Lawrence, not all on the production. Meyer said he wanted the film not to take political stands, but rather just remind people of nuclear war's perils. He thought of the TV film as a gigantic public service announcement.
On September 6, in downtown Lawrence, the filmmakers repainted signs, changing the names of stores, staining the facades with soot. The large windows were shattered into sharp teeth, bricks were scattered and junked cars were painted with clouds of black spray. Two industrial-sized yellow fans bolted to a flatbed trailer blew clouds of white flakes into the air. This fallout-matter was actually Cornflakes painted white.
On September 7, students poured into Allen Fieldhouse, the basketball arena, the only place on campus big enough to accommodate so many wounded. A scene was filmed with thousands of radiation victims stretched out on the court floor.
On September 8, a four-mile stretch on K-10 between the Edgerton Road exit and the DeSoto interchange at former K-285 (now Lexington Avenue) was closed for shooting highway scenes representing a mass exodus on Interstate 70. On September 10, Robards' character was filmed returning to what is left of Kansas City to find his home.
ABC used the demolition site of the former St. Joseph Hospital located at Linwood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue in an inner city neighborhood in Kansas City as the set. The network paid the city to halt demolition for a month so it could film scenes of destruction there. However, when the crew arrived, more demolition had apparently taken place. Meyer was angry, but then realized he could populate the area with fake corpses and junked cars "and then I got real happy." Robards was in makeup at 6 a.m. to look like a radiation poisoning victim. The makeup took three hours to apply. Passers-by strained for a closer look as Robards lifted the arm of a body stuck under fallen debris '-- just the arm, severed at the shoulder. It was at this site that the moving final scene where Dr. Oakes confronts a family of squatters was filmed.
There were more problems on September 11. Meyer had desperately wanted the Liberty Memorial, a tall war memorial in Penn Valley Park overlooking downtown Kansas City, for two scenes: postcard-perfect shots of Kansas City near the beginning and a scene of Robards stumbling through the ruins. However, one director of the local parks department was opposed to letting it be used for commercial purposes and expressed concern that ABC would damage the Memorial. A resolution was reached. By using fiberglass, the filmmakers made it look as if the Memorial had been reduced to rubble. Robards stumbled through debris once again. That evening, the cast and crew flew to Los Angeles.
Interior hospital scenes with Robards and JoBeth Williams were shot in Los Angeles. Many scientific advisors from various fields were on set to ensure the accuracy of the explosion, its effects and its victims. The government, nervous of how it would be portrayed, insisted that the Soviets be the instigators of the attack, and disagreed with the producers who wanted it to be confused and unclear about who was responsible for launching first, didn't allow the production to use stock footage of nuclear explosions in the film, so ABC hired special effects creators. The result was a visually authentic explosion and iconic "mushroom cloud" created by injecting oil-based paints and inks downward into a water tank with a piston, filmed at high speed with the camera mounted upside down. The image was then optically color- and contrast-inverted. The water tank used for the "mushroom clouds" was the same water tank used to create the "Mutara Nebula" special effect in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The Day After relied heavily on footage from other movies and from declassified government films. Extensive use of stock footage was interspersed with special effects of the mushroom clouds. While the majority of the missile launches came from United States Department of Defense footage of ICBM missile tests (mainly Minuteman IIIs from Vandenberg Air Force Base adjacent to Lompoc, California), all of the stock footage of missile launches were acquired from declassified DoD film libraries. The scenes of Air Force personnel aboard the Airborne Command Post receiving news of the incoming attack are footage of actual military personnel during a drill and had been aired several years earlier in a 1979 PBS documentary, First Strike. In the original footage, the silo is "destroyed" by an incoming "attack" just moments before launching its missiles, which is why the final seconds of the launch countdown are not seen in this movie.
Further stock footage was taken from news events (fires and explosions) and the 1979 theatrical film Meteor (such as a bridge collapsing and the destruction of a tall office building originally used to depict the destruction of the World Trade Center in that film). Brief scenes of stampeding crowds were also borrowed from the disaster film Two-Minute Warning (1976). Other footage had been previously used in theatrical films such as Superman and Damnation Alley.
The editing of The Day After was one of the most nerve-wracking processes ABC had ever gone through in post-production of any of their films. There were many meetings with the censors and Nicholas Meyer was enraged and confused because the network cut out many scenes that it felt slowed the pacing of the film, and not because they were too controversial or too graphic.
BroadcastEditThe network originally planned to air the film as a four-hour "event" spread over two nights for a total running time of 180 minutes without commercials. Meyer felt the script was padded, and suggested cutting out an hour of material and presenting the whole film in one night. The network disagreed, and Meyer had filmed the entire script. Subsequently, the network found that it was difficult to find advertisers, considering the subject matter, and told Meyer he could edit the film for a one-night version. Meyer's original cut ran two hours and twenty minutes, which he presented to the network. After the screening, the executives were sobbing and seemed deeply affected, leading Meyer to believe they approved of his cut. However, a long six-month struggle began over the final shape of the film. The network now wanted to trim the film to the bone, but Meyer and his editor Bill Dornisch refused to cooperate. Dornisch was fired, and Meyer walked off. The network brought in other editors, but the network ultimately was not happy with their versions. They finally brought Meyer back in and reached a compromise, with a final running time of 120 minutes.[5][6]
The Day After was initially scheduled to premiere on ABC in May 1983, but the post-production work to reduce the film's length pushed back its initial airdate to November. Censors forced ABC to cut an entire scene of a child having a nightmare about nuclear holocaust and then sitting up, screaming. A psychiatrist told ABC that this would disturb children. "This strikes me as ludicrous," Meyer wrote in TV Guide at the time, "not only in relation to the rest of the film, but also when contrasted with the huge doses of violence to be found on any average evening of TV viewing." In any case, they made a few more cuts, including to a scene where Denise possesses a diaphragm. Another scene, where a hospital patient abruptly sits up screaming, was excised from the original television broadcast but restored for home video releases. Meyer persuaded ABC to dedicate the film to the citizens of Lawrence, and also to put a disclaimer at the end of the film, following the credits, letting the viewer know that The Day After downplayed the true effects of nuclear war so they would be able to have a story. The disclaimer also included a list of books that provide more information on the subject.
The Day After received a large promotional campaign prior to its broadcast. Commercials aired several months in advance, ABC distributed half a million "viewer's guides" that discussed the dangers of nuclear war and prepared the viewer for the graphic scenes of mushroom clouds and radiation burn victims. Discussion groups were also formed nationwide.[citation needed]
MusicEditComposer David Raksin wrote original music and adapted music from The River (a documentary film score by concert composer Virgil Thomson). Although he recorded just under 30 minutes of music, much of it was edited out of the final cut.
Deleted and alternative scenesEditDue to the film's being shortened from the original three hours (running time) to two, several planned special-effects scenes were scrapped, although storyboards were made in anticipation of a possible "expanded" version. They included a "bird's eye" view of Kansas City at the moment of two nuclear detonations as seen from a Boeing 737 on approach, as well as simulated newsreel footage of American troops taking up positions in preparation of advancing Soviet armored units, and the tactical nuclear exchange in Germany between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, which follows after the attacking force breaks through and overwhelms the NATO lines.
ABC censors severely toned down scenes to reduce the body count or severe burn victims. Meyer refused to remove key scenes but reportedly some eight and a half minutes of excised footage still exist, significantly more graphic. Some footage was reinstated for the film's release on home video. Additionally, the nuclear attack scene was longer and supposed to feature very graphic and very accurate shots of what happens to a human body during a nuclear blast. Examples included people being set on fire, their flesh carbonizing, being burned to the bone, eyes melting, faceless heads, skin hanging, deaths from flying glass and debris, limbs torn off, being crushed, blown from buildings by the shockwave, and people in fallout shelters suffocating during the firestorm. Also cut were images of radiation sickness, as well as graphic post-attack violence from survivors such as food riots, looting, and general lawlessness as authorities attempted to restore order.
JoBeth Williams' character was originally scripted with a death scene, asking whether the living envy the dead in a nuclear war's aftermath. This scene was cut when the film was reduced to two hours. In the released version, Nurse Bauer's death occurs off-camera and is mentioned by Dr. Hachiya as having been due to meningitis. The dialogue was garbled and some viewers failed to hear the cause of death on the first viewing.
One cut scene shows surviving students battling over food. The two sides were to be athletes versus the science students under the guidance of Professor Huxley. Another brief scene later cut related to a firing squad, where two US soldiers are blindfolded and executed. An officer reads the charges, verdict and sentence, as a bandaged chaplain reads the Last Rites. A similar sequence occurs in a 1965 UK-produced faux documentary, The War Game. In the original broadcast, when the President addressed the nation, the voice was an imitation of Ronald Reagan. In subsequent broadcasts, that voice was overdubbed by a stock actor.
Home video releases in the US and internationally come in at various running times, many listed at 126 or 127 minutes; full screen (4:3 aspect ratio) seems to be more common than widescreen. RCA videodiscs were limited to 2 hours per disc, so that full screen release appears to be closest to what originally aired on ABC in the US. A 2001 US VHS version (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Troy, Michigan) lists a running time of 122 minutes. A 1995 double laser disc "director's cut" version (Image Entertainment) runs 127 minutes, includes commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and is "presented in its 1.75:1 European theatrical aspect ratio" (according to the LD jacket).
Two different German DVD releases run 122 and 115 minutes; edits reportedly downplay the Soviet Union's role.[7]
On its original broadcast (Sunday, November 20, 1983), ABC and local TV affiliates opened 1-800 hotlines with counselors standing by. There weren't any commercial breaks after the nuclear attack. ABC then aired a live debate, hosted by Nightline's Ted Koppel, featuring scientist Carl Sagan, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Elie Wiesel, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, General Brent Scowcroft and conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr.. Sagan argued against nuclear proliferation, while Buckley promoted the concept of nuclear deterrence. Sagan described the arms race in the following terms: "Imagine a room awash in gasoline, and there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has nine thousand matches, the other seven thousand matches. Each of them is concerned about who's ahead, who's stronger."[8]
One psychotherapist counseled viewers at Shawnee Mission East High School in the Kansas City suburbs, and 1,000 others held candles at a peace vigil in Penn Valley Park. A discussion group called Let Lawrence Live was formed by the English Department at the university and dozens from the Humanities Department gathered on the campus in front of the Memorial Campanile and lit candles in a peace vigil. At Baker University, a private school in Baldwin City, Kansas, roughly 10 miles south of Lawrence, a number of students drove around the city, looking at sites depicted in the film as having been destroyed.[citation needed]
Children's entertainer Mr. Rogers had filmed five episodes of his television program (entitled the "Conflict" series) in the summer of 1983, in reaction to events in Grenada, and the bombing of a marine barracks in Lebanon. These aired on November 7''11, 1983, one week before the broadcast of The Day After.[9]
A week before the film's airing, conservative group Citizens for America issued a "Call for Action" to its "local chairmen", including background material on the Reagan administration's position on strategic defense, along with instructions on how to hold a press conference and a sample guest editorial. In his November 15, 1983 cover letter, Lew Lehrman (Lewis Lehrman) wrote, "Our response to this piece of nuclear freeze propaganda must be swift and convincing. President Reagan has presented this country with the only option to nuclear disaster: the construction of a strategic defense system that can protect the free world from aggression without the use of the threat of annihilation as a deterrent."
The film and its subject matter were prominently featured in the news media both before and after the broadcast. On such covers as TIME magazine,[10] Newsweek,[11] and U.S. News & World Report,[12] and TV Guide.[13]
Critics tended to claim the film was either sensationalizing nuclear war or that it was too tame.[14] The special effects and realistic portrayal of nuclear war received praise. The film received 12 Emmy nominations and won two Emmy awards. It was rated "above average" in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, until all reviews for movies exclusive to TV were removed from the guide.[15]
Nearly 100 million Americans watched The Day After on its first broadcast, a record audience for a made-for-TV movie. Producers Sales Organization released the film theatrically around the world, in the Eastern Bloc, China, North Korea and Cuba (this international version contained six minutes of footage not in the telecast edition). Since commercials are not sold in these markets, Producers Sales Organization failed to gain revenue to the tune of an undisclosed sum. Years later this international version was released to tape by Embassy Home Entertainment.
Commentator Ben Stein, critical of the movie's message (i.e. that the strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction would lead to a war), wrote in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner what life might be like in an America under Soviet occupation. Stein's idea was eventually dramatized in the miniseries Amerika, also broadcast by ABC.[16]
The New York Post accused Meyer of being a traitor, writing, "Why is Nicholas Meyer doing Yuri Andropov's work for him?" Much press comment focused on the unanswered question in the film of who started the war.[17]Richard Grenier in the National Review accused The Day After of promoting "unpatriotic" and pro-Soviet attitudes.[18]
Effects on policymakersEditPresident Ronald Reagan watched the film several days before its screening, on November 5, 1983. He wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed,"[17] and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war".[19] The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer's, told him "If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone." Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan's memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.[17] Reagan supposedly later sent Meyer a telegram after the summit, saying, "Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did."[5] However, in a 2010 interview, Meyer said that this telegram was a myth, and that the sentiment stemmed from a friend's letter to Meyer; he suggested the story had origins in editing notes received from the White House during the production, which "...may have been a joke, but it wouldn't surprise me, him being an old Hollywood guy."[17]
The film also had impact outside the U.S. In 1987, during the era of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika reforms, the film was shown on Soviet television. Four years earlier, Georgia Rep. Elliott Levitas and 91 co-sponsors introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives "[expressing] the sense of the Congress that the American Broadcasting Company, the Department of State, and the U.S. Information Agency should work to have the television movie The Day After aired to the Soviet public."[20]
Many newcomers or obscure actors were cast for the film. Jason Robards and John Cullum were the best-known actors in the production. Bibi Besch was a relative unknown, although she became thrust into the spotlight as Dr. Carol Marcus in Meyer's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Steve Guttenberg, who went on to considerable success later in the 1980s in the Police Academy comedies, was at the time known for Barry Levinson's comedy Diner (1982). Stephen Furst was known primarily as Flounder in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). George Petrie, a stock player on several incarnations of Jackie Gleason's television series and the Ewing family lawyer in Dallas, had a small role as a doctor. Cullum and Besch later played Holling Vincoeur and Maggie O'Connell's mother on Northern Exposure.
Locals filled smaller supporting roles. Jeff East, who played Bruce Gallatin, was a local Kansas City actor who had appeared in Superman as the young Clark Kent. Doug Scott and Ellen Anthony, who played the younger Dahlberg children, were found in Kansas City and Lawrence, respectively. Arliss Howard, a local thespian at the time, was cast in a small role as an airman. Howard went on to portray roles in several major films, most notably as "Pvt. Cowboy" in Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket (1987). Charles Oldfather, Herk Harvey, and Charles Whitman, all at one time professors at the University of Kansas, were cast as farmers.[citation needed]
John Lithgow, JoBeth Williams, and Amy Madigan were relative newcomers. Williams' best known roles at the time of The Day After were as Dustin Hoffman's mistress in the Oscar-winning Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and the then recently released horror classic Poltergeist (1982). Lithgow was in the then recently released The World According to Garp (1982), for which he earned an Academy Award nomination. He went on to appear in the Academy Award for Best PictureTerms of Endearment (1983) and was nominated again. He also appeared in Footloose (1984). Madigan would star in films such as Streets of Fire (1984) and Field of Dreams (1989).
The OakesThe DahlbergsHospital staffOthersEmmy Awards won:
Emmy Award nominations:
Outstanding Achievement in HairstylingOutstanding Achievement in MakeupOutstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special (Peter Wooley)Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special (Gayne Rescher)Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special (Nicholas Meyer)Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special (Robert Papazian)Outstanding Film Editing for a Limited Series or a Special (William Dornisch and Robert Florio)Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or a SpecialOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special (John Lithgow)Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special (Edward Hume)^"Tipoff". The Ledger. January 20, 1989. Retrieved October 11, 2011. ^The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. pg. 805. ISBN 0-345-45542-8^Google Maps directions from Harrisonville, MO to Kansas City, MO^Weber, Bruce (2014-12-23). "Brandon Stoddard, 77, ABC Executive Who Brought 'Roots' to TV, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-18. ^ abNiccum, John. "Fallout from The Day After". lawrence.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011. ^Meyer, Nicholas, "The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood", page 150. Viking Adult, 2009^Movie-censorship.com^Bruce Allyn (19 September 2012). The Edge of Armageddon: Lessons from the Brink. RosettaBooks. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7953-3073-5. ^"War Enters World of Mister Rogers", C11, Calgary Herald, November 8, 1983^Time^Backissues.com^Backissues.com^Backissues.com^Susan Emmanuel. "The Day After". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. ^Leonard Maltin. Leonard Maltin's TV Movies And Video Guide 1987 edition. Signet. p. 218. ^The New York Times: "TV VIEW; 'AMERKIA' (sic) '' SLOGGING THROUGH A MUDDLE" By John J. O'Connor. Published February 15, 1987^ abcdEmpire, "How Ronald Reagan Learned To Start Worrying And Stop Loving The Bomb", November 2010, pp 134''140^Grenier, Richard. "The Brandon Stoddard Horror Show." National Review (1983): 1552''1554.^Reagan, An American Life, 585^"thomas.loc.gov, 98th Congress (1983''1984), H.CON.RES.229"Cheers, Michael, "Search for TV Stars Not Yielding Right Types", Kansas City Times, July 19, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "Moviemakers Cast About for Local Crowds", Lawrence Journal-World, August 16, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "Fake Farmstead Goes Up in Flames for Film", Lawrence Journal-World, August 17, 1982.Laird, Linda, "The Days Before 'The Day After'", Midway, the Sunday Magazine Section of the Topeka Capital-Journal, August 22, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "Shooting on Schedule 'Day After' Movie", Lawrence Journal-World, August 23, 1982.Lazzarino, Evie, "From Production Crew to Extras, a Day in the Life of 'Day After'", Lawrence Journal-World, August 29, 1982.Rosenberg, Howard, "'Humanizing' Nuclear Devastation in Kansas", Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1982.Schrenier, Bruce, "'The Day After' Filming Continues at KU", University Daily Kansan, September 2, 1982.Appelbaum, Sharon, "Lawrence Folks Are Dying for a Part in TV's Armageddon", The Kansas City Star, September 3, 1982.Hitchcock, Doug, "Movie Makeup Manufactures Medical Mess", Lawrence Journal-World, September 5, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "Nicholas Meyer Tackles Biggest Fantasy", Lawrence Journal-World, September 5, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "How to Spend $1 Million in Lawrence", Lawrence Journal-World, September 5, 1982.Twardy, Chuck, "Students Assume War-Torn Look as Film Shooting Winds Down", Lawrence Journal-World, September 8, 1982.Goodman, Howard, "KC 'Holocaust' a Mix of Horror and Hollywood", Kansas City Times, September 11, 1982.Jordan, Gerald B., "Local Filming of Nuclear Disaster Almost Fizzles", The Kansas City Star, September 13, 1982.Kindall, James, "Apocalypse Now", The Kansas City Star Weekly Magazine, October 17, 1982.Loverock, Patricia, "ABC Films Nuclear Holocaust in Kansas", On Location magazine, November 1983.Bauman, Melissa, "ABC Official Denies Network Can't Find Sponsors for Show", Lawrence Journal-World, November 13, 1983.Meyer, Nicholas, "'The Day After': Bringing the Unwatchable to TV", TV Guide, November 19, 1983.Torriero, E.A., "The Day Before 'The Day After'", Kansas City Times, November 20, 1983.Hoenk, Mary, "'Day After': Are Young Viewers Ready?", Lawrence Journal-World, November 20, 1983.Helliker, Kevin, "'Day After' Yields a Grim Evening", Kansas City Times, November 21, 1983.Trowbridge, Caroline and Hoenk, Mary, "Film's Fallout: A Solemn Plea for Peace", Lawrence Journal-World, November 21, 1983.Greenberger, Robert, "Nicholas Meyer: Witness at the End of the World", Starlog magazine, January 1984.Eisenberg, Adam, "Waging a Four-Minute War", Cinefex magazine, January 1984.Boyd-Bowman, Susan (1984). "The Day After: Representations of the Nuclear Holocaust". Screen6 (4): 18''27. Meyer, Nicholas (1983). The Day After (TV-Miniseries). United States: Embassy Home Entertainment. Perrine, Toni A., Ph.D. (1991). "Beyond Apocalypse: Recent Representations of Nuclear War and its Aftermath in United States Narrative Film". Final Draft.
EuroLand
Eurovision 2016 winner: Jamala wins for Ukraine beating Australia and Russia as UK is disappointed yet again
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:23
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest, narrowly beating Australia and Russia in a nail-biting grand final.
Jamala's poignant song "1944" about the mass deportation of Tatars under Josef Stalin, moved voters across Europe to earn her first place with 534 points, forcing Dami Im's "Sound of Silence" for Australia and Sergey Lazarev's "You Are The Only One" to miss out on victory with 511 and 491 points respectively.
"I know that you already sang a song about peace and love, but actually I really want peace and love to everyone," Jamala said when asked how she felt by Swedish host and last year's Mans Zelmerlow. "Thank you so much."
Herself a Crimean Tatar, Jamala's haunting performance was more stripped-back than many of the more upbeat, club-friendly efforts. The title "1944" refers to the year in which Stalin shipped Tatars in over-crowded trains to Central Asia. Thousands died during the journey or starved to death upon arrival, and they were not allowed to return to Crimea until the Eighties.
"That terrible year changed forever the life of one fragile woman, my great-grandmother Nazylkhan," soprano Jamala, real name Susana Jamaladinova, said before the contest.
Despite the hard-hitting subject matter, the song had an appealing pop flavour and the lyrics avoided mention of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, there is likely to be a political backlash to the result, due to continuing tensions between the Ukraine and Russia.
Elsewhere, the UK's Joe and Jake left disappointed, finishing in 24th place with 62 points. Response to the duo's performance of cheery song "You're Not Alone" was overwhelmingly positive both in the arena and among viewers at home, but they failed to rack up the votes.
Justin Timberlake performed "Rock Your Body" and "Can't Stop the Feeling" during the interval, much to the excitement of the flag-waving audience, while Graham Norton provided yet another witty, acerbic commentary. He toasted the late Sir Terry Wogan, the "voice of Eurovision" from 1971 to 2008 during song nine, when the broadcaster had told him it was acceptable to start drinking.
Voting at this year's contest was more exciting than in past years due to a shake-up in the way the results were delivered to viewers. The final outcome was decided by a 50:50 split between professional juries and televoting from each of the 42 participating countries, with the televoting results only added onto the scoreboard at the end of the night.
Seven things we learned from Eurovision 2016 | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:22
Ukraine's Jamala, the first Crimean Tatar ever to perform at a Eurovision Song Contest, became the winner on Saturday night in Stockholm. Next year's competition is to be held in Kyiv.
Her song 1944 was branded 'political' as it depicts the plight of Crimean Tatars '' an ethnic group from Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula deported by Stalin. Jamala's great-grandmother and her five children were among the quarter million Crimean Tatars forced to leave their homes at gunpoint in the early hours of May 18, 1944. The jazz singer herself claimed the song told ''a personal story'' and did not relate to present day's politics.
Bookies' favourite Sergei Lazarev of Russia was in third place, while the Australian Dami Im came second.
It was a glitzy yet suspenseful night in the Swedish capital as a new, more complex voting system was introduced which meant the winner was revealed in the final moments of the contest.
Euronews has been following the Eurovision Song Contest in the run-up to the show as well as following Saturday night's performances.Now that we have kicked off our sequined shoes why not take a look at the list of 7 things we learned from Eurovision 2016:
1. A country does not need to be in Europe '' in fact not even anywhere near it '' to take part in Eurovision. Australia is thousands of miles away yet it did not stop the country from participating or, even more impressively, coming second. It became possible for two reasons: Australians really love Eurovision and the TV channel which has been broadcasting the contest live for the past 30 years is a member of the European Broadcasting Union which organises the event.
2. It is possible to take part in a Eurovision song contest more than once. This year's Maltese singer Ira Losco was seen on the Eurovision stage in 2002.
3. Ireland holds a record number of victories '' seven, yet over the past three years the country failed to make it to the semi-finals.
4. Eurovision hosts can break into song themselves: Saturday night's show in Stockholm was presented by last year's winner Mans Zelmerlow and a TV presenter Petra Mede. They performed ''Love Love Peace Peace'', a humourous number paying homage to Eurovision performers of yesteryear.
5. Eurovision may be the butt of jokes for some people yet a global star of Justin Timberlake's calibre picked it to debut his new song ''Can't Stop the Feeling''. After all, the contest is watched by around 200 million viewers worldwide: naturally, Justin was keen to show off his dance moves to an audience this vast.
6. Ukraine's victory was a genuine surprise: bookies, critics and viewers had expected Jamala to be in the top five but not win: the country's social media networks exploded with pride and disbelief.
7. #Eurovision was tweeted about over 7 million times on Saturday night substantially exceeding last year's record.
Brexit
Switzerland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thu, 12 May 2016 22:59
Swiss ConfederationSchweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)Conf(C)d(C)ration suisse (French)Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)Confederaziun svizra (Romansh)Confoederatio Helvetica (CH) (Latin)Motto: (traditional)"Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno" (Latin)"One for all, all for one"Anthem: "Swiss Psalm"Location of Switzerland (green)in Europe (green & dark grey)
CapitalNone (de jure)Bern(de facto)[note 1][1]46°57'²N7°27'²E>> / >>46.950°N 7.450°E>> / 46.950; 7.450Largest cityZ¼richOfficial languagesGerman; French; Italian; RomanshDemonymEnglish: Swiss,German: Schweizer(in),French: Suisse(sse),Italian: svizzero/svizzera, or elvetico/elvetica,Romansh: Svizzer/SvizraGovernmentFederalmulti-partydirectorial republic with thorough elements of direct democracy ' Federal Council ' Federal ChancellorWalter ThurnherrLegislatureFederal Assembly ' Upper houseCouncil of States ' Lower houseNational CouncilHistory ' Foundation datec. 1300[note 2] celebrated on 1 August 1291 ' Treaty of Basel (1499)22 September 1499 ' Peace of Westphalia24 October 1648 ' Restoration7 August 1815 ' Federal state12 September 1848[2] Area ' Total41,285 km2 (135th)15,940 sq mi ' Water (%)4.2Population ' September 2014 estimate8,211,700[3] (96th) ' 2013 census8,139,600[4] ' Density198/km2 (65th)477.4/sq miGDP (PPP)2016 estimate ' Total$493.126 billion[5] (39th) ' Per capita$59,150[5] (9th)GDP (nominal)2016 estimate ' Total$651.770 billion[5] (19th) ' Per capita$78,179[5] (2nd)Gini (2014) 28.5[6]low ·18thHDI (2014) 0.930[7]very high ·3rdCurrencySwiss franc (CHF)Time zoneCET(UTC+1) ' Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)Date formatdd.mm.yyyy (AD)Drives on therightCalling code+41Patron saintSt Nicholas of Fl¼eISO 3166 codeCHInternet TLD.chWebsitehttps://www.admin.chSwitzerland (), officially the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica, hence its abbreviation CH), is a federal republic in Europe. While still named the "Swiss Confederation" for historical reasons, modern Switzerland is a federaldirectorial republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities, called Bundesstadt ("federal city").[1][note 3] The country is situated in Western and Central Europe,[note 4] and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately eight million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global and economic centers, Z¼rich and Geneva.
The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291, which is celebrated annually as the Swiss National Day. The country has a long history of armed neutrality'--it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815'--and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Nevertheless, it pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world.[8] In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to numerous international organizations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association, but notably it is not part of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area. However, the country does participate in the Schengen Area and the EU's single market through a number of bilateral treaties.
Straddling the intersection of Germanic and Romance Europe, Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Therefore, the Swiss, although predominantly German speaking, do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnicity or language; rather, Switzerland's strong sense of identity and community is founded on a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy,[9] and Alpine symbolism.[10][11] Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: Schweiz[Ëʃvaɪts] (German);[note 5]Suisse[sÉ¥is(É)] (French); Svizzera[Ëzvittsera] (Italian); and Svizra[ËÊ'viːtsrɐ] or [ËÊ'viːtsʁːɐ] (Romansh).[note 6]
Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Switzerland ranks at or near the top globally in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and human development. It has the highest nominal wealth (financial and non-financial assets) per adult in the world according to Credit Suisse and the eighth-highestper capitagross domestic product on the IMF list.[12][13] Z¼rich and Geneva have each been ranked among the top cities with the highest quality of life in the world, with the former ranked 2nd globally, according to Mercer.[14]
Contents
The English name Switzerland is a compound containing Switzer, an obsolete term for the Swiss, which was in use during the 16th to 19th centuries.[15] The English adjective Swiss is a loan from French Suisse, also in use since the 16th century. The name Switzer is from the AlemannicSchwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, one of the Waldst¤tten cantons which formed the nucleus of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The name originates as an exonym, applied pars pro toto to the troops of the Confederacy. The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", Eidgenossen (literally: comrades by oath), used since the 14th century.
The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High GermanSuittes, ultimately perhaps related to suedan "to burn", referring to the area of forest that was burned and cleared to build.[16] The name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, and after the Swabian War of 1499 gradually came to be used for the entire Confederation.[17][18] The Swiss German name of the country, Schwiiz, is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article (d'Schwiiz for the Confederation,[19] but simply Schwyz for the canton and the town).[20]
The Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was neologized and introduced gradually after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal.[21] (The ISO banking code, "CHF" for the Swiss franc, is taken from the state's Latin name). Helvetica is derived from the Helvetii, a Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss plateau before the Roman era.
Helvetia appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.[22]
Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. The precursors of Switzerland established a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century (1291), forming a loose confederation of states which persisted for centuries.
Early historyEditThe oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years.[23] The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at G¤chlingen, have been dated to around 5300 BC.[23]
The earliest known cultural tribes of the area were members of the Hallstatt and La T¨ne cultures, named after the archaeological site of La T¨ne on the north side of Lake Neuchtel. La T¨ne culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC,[23] possibly under some influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilisations. One of the most important tribal groups in the Swiss region was the Helvetii. Steadily harassed by the Germans, in 58 BC the Helvetii decided to abandon the Swiss plateau and migrate to western Gallia, but Julius Caesar's armies pursued and defeated them at the Battle of Bibracte, in today's western France, forcing the tribe to move back to its original homeland.[23] In 15 BC, Tiberius, who was destined to be the second Roman emperor and his brother, Drusus, conquered the Alps, integrating them into the Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii'--the namesakes of the later Confoederatio Helvetica'--first became part of Rome's Gallia Belgica province and then of its Germania Superior province, while the eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia. Sometime around the start of the Common Era, the Romans maintained a large legionary camp called Vindonissa, now a ruin at the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, near the town of Windisch, an outskirt of Brugg.
The first and second century AD were an age of prosperity for the population living on the Swiss plateau. Several towns, like Aventicum, Iulia Equestris and Augusta Raurica, reached a remarkable size, while hundreds of agricultural estates (Villae rusticae) were founded in the countryside.
In about 260 AD, the fall of the Agri Decumates territory north of the Rhine transformed today's Switzerland into a frontier land of the Empire. Repeated raids by the Alamanni tribes provoked the ruin of the Roman towns and economy, forcing the population to find shelter near Roman fortresses, like the Castrum Rauracense near Augusta Raurica. The Empire built another line of defense at the north border (the so-called Donau-Iller-Rhine-Limes), but at the end of the fourth century the increased Germanic pressure forced the Romans to abandon the linear defence concept, and the Swiss plateau was finally open to the settlement of German tribes.
In the Early Middle Ages, from the end of the 4th century, the western extent of modern-day Switzerland was part of the territory of the Kings of the Burgundians. The Alemanni settled the Swiss plateau in the 5th century and the valleys of the Alps in the 8th century, forming Alemannia. Modern-day Switzerland was therefore then divided between the kingdoms of Alemannia and Burgundy.[23] The entire region became part of the expanding Frankish Empire in the 6th century, following Clovis I's victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504 AD, and later Frankish domination of the Burgundians.[25][26]
Throughout the rest of the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries the Swiss regions continued under Frankish hegemony (Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties). But after its extension under Charlemagne, the Frankish empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843.[23] The territories of present-day Switzerland became divided into Middle Francia and East Francia until they were reunified under the Holy Roman Empire around 1000 AD.[23]
By 1200, the Swiss plateau comprised the dominions of the houses of Savoy, Z¤hringer, Habsburg, and Kyburg.[23] Some regions (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, later known as Waldst¤tten) were accorded the Imperial immediacy to grant the empire direct control over the mountain passes. With the extinction of its male line in 1263 the Kyburg dynasty fell in AD 1264; then the Habsburgs under King Rudolph I (Holy Roman Emperor in 1273) laid claim to the Kyburg lands and annexed them extending their territory to the eastern Swiss plateau.[25]
Old Swiss ConfederacyEditThe Old Swiss Confederacy was an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy facilitated management of common interests and ensured peace on the important mountain trade routes. The Federal Charter of 1291 agreed between the rural communes of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden is considered the confederacy's founding document, even though similar alliances are likely to have existed decades earlier.[27][28]
By 1353, the three original cantons had joined with the cantons of Glarus and Zug and the Lucerne, Z¼rich and Bern city states to form the "Old Confederacy" of eight states that existed until the end of the 15th century. The expansion led to increased power and wealth for the federation.[28] By 1460, the confederates controlled most of the territory south and west of the Rhine to the Alps and the Jura mountains, particularly after victories against the Habsburgs (Battle of Sempach, Battle of N¤fels), over Charles the Bold of Burgundy during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries. The Swiss victory in the Swabian War against the Swabian League of EmperorMaximilian I in 1499 amounted to de facto independence within the Holy Roman Empire.[28]
The Old Swiss Confederacy had acquired a reputation of invincibility during these earlier wars, but expansion of the federation suffered a setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the Battle of Marignano. This ended the so-called "heroic" epoch of Swiss history.[28] The success of Zwingli's Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal religious conflicts in 1529 and 1531 (Wars of Kappel). It was not until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the Peace of Westphalia, European countries recognized Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality.[25][26]
During the Early Modern period of Swiss history, the growing authoritarianism of the patriciate families combined with a financial crisis in the wake of the Thirty Years' War led to the Swiss peasant war of 1653. In the background to this struggle, the conflict between Catholic and Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the First War of Villmergen, in 1656, and the Toggenburg War (or Second War of Villmergen), in 1712.[28]
Napoleonic eraEditIn 1798, the revolutionary French government conquered Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution.[28] This centralised the government of the country, effectively abolishing the cantons: moreover, M¼lhausen joined France and Valtellina valley, the Cisalpine Republic, separating from Switzerland. The new regime, known as the Helvetic Republic, was highly unpopular. It had been imposed by a foreign invading army and destroyed centuries of tradition, making Switzerland nothing more than a French satellite state. The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September 1798 was an example of the oppressive presence of the French Army and the local population's resistance to the occupation.
When war broke out between France and its rivals, Russian and Austrian forces invaded Switzerland. The Swiss refused to fight alongside the French in the name of the Helvetic Republic. In 1803 Napoleon organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris. The result was the Act of Mediation which largely restored Swiss autonomy and introduced a Confederation of 19 cantons.[28] Henceforth, much of Swiss politics would concern balancing the cantons' tradition of self-rule with the need for a central government.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna fully re-established Swiss independence and the European powers agreed to permanently recognise Swiss neutrality.[25][26][28] Swiss troops still served foreign governments until 1860 when they fought in the Siege of Gaeta. The treaty also allowed Switzerland to increase its territory, with the admission of the cantons of Valais, Neuchtel and Geneva. Switzerland's borders have not changed since, except for some minor adjustments.[29]
Federal stateEditThe restoration of power to the patriciate was only temporary. After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes such as the Z¼riputsch of 1839, civil war (the Sonderbundskrieg) broke out in 1847 when some Catholic cantons tried to set up a separate alliance (the Sonderbund).[28] The war lasted for less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties, most of which were through friendly fire. Yet however minor the Sonderbundskrieg appears compared with other European riots and wars in the 19th century, it nevertheless had a major impact on both the psychology and the society of the Swiss and of Switzerland.
The war convinced most Swiss of the need for unity and strength towards its European neighbours. Swiss people from all strata of society, whether Catholic or Protestant, from the liberal or conservative current, realised that the cantons would profit more if their economic and religious interests were merged.
Thus, while the rest of Europe saw revolutionary uprisings, the Swiss drew up a constitution which provided for a federal layout, much of it inspired by the American example. This constitution provided for a central authority while leaving the cantons the right to self-government on local issues. Giving credit to those who favoured the power of the cantons (the Sonderbund Kantone), the national assembly was divided between an upper house (the Council of States, two representatives per canton) and a lower house (the National Council, with representatives elected from across the country). Referenda were made mandatory for any amendment of this constitution.[26]
A system of single weights and measures was introduced and in 1850 the Swiss franc became the Swiss single currency. Article 11 of the constitution forbade sending troops to serve abroad, though the Swiss were still obliged to serve Francis II of the Two Sicilies with Swiss Guards present at the Siege of Gaeta in 1860, marking the end of foreign service.
An important clause of the constitution was that it could be re-written completely if this was deemed necessary, thus enabling it to evolve as a whole rather than being modified one amendment at a time.[32]
This need soon proved itself when the rise in population and the Industrial Revolution that followed led to calls to modify the constitution accordingly. An early draft was rejected by the population in 1872 but modifications led to its acceptance in 1874.[28] It introduced the facultative referendum for laws at the federal level. It also established federal responsibility for defense, trade, and legal matters.
In 1891, the constitution was revised with unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique even today.[28]
Modern historyEditSwitzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Vladimir Lenin) and he remained there until 1917.[33] Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the Grimm''Hoffmann Affair in 1917, but it was short-lived. In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, which was based in Geneva, on condition that it was exempt from any military requirements.
During World War II, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans,[34] but Switzerland was never attacked.[28] Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion.[26][35] Under General Henri Guisan central command, a general mobilisation of the armed forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders to protect the economic heartland, to one of organised long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the Reduit. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers.[35]
Switzerland's trade was blockaded by both the Allies and by the Axis. Economic cooperation and extension of credit to the Third Reich varied according to the perceived likelihood of invasion and the availability of other trading partners. Concessions reached a peak after a crucial rail link through Vichy France was severed in 1942, leaving Switzerland completely surrounded by the Axis. Over the course of the war, Switzerland interned over 300,000 refugees[36] and the International Red Cross, based in Geneva, played an important part during the conflict. Strict immigration and asylum policies as well as the financial relationships with Nazi Germany raised controversy, but not until the end of the 20th century.[37]
During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding Luftwaffe planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany. Over 100 Allied bombers and their crews were interned during the war. During 1944''45, Allied bombers mistakenly bombed a few places in Switzerland, among which were the cities of Schaffhausen, Basel and Z¼rich.[35]
After the war, the Swiss government exported credits through the charitable fund known as the Schweizerspende and also donated to the Marshall Plan to help Europe's recovery, efforts that ultimately benefited the Swiss economy.[38]
During the Cold War, Swiss authorities considered the construction of a Swiss nuclear bomb.[39] Leading nuclear physicists at the Federal Institute of Technology Z¼rich such as Paul Scherrer made this a realistic possibility. However, financial problems with the defense budget prevented the substantial funds from being allocated, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was seen as a valid alternative. All remaining plans for building nuclear weapons were dropped by 1988.[40]
Switzerland was the last Western republic to grant women the right to vote. Some Swiss cantons approved this in 1959, while at the federal level it was achieved in 1971[28][41] and, after resistance, in the last canton Appenzell Innerrhoden (one of only two remaining Landsgemeinde) in 1990. After obtaining suffrage at the federal level, women quickly rose in political significance, with the first woman on the seven member Federal Council executive being Elisabeth Kopp, who served from 1984''1989,[28] and the first female president being Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.
Switzerland joined the Council of Europe in 1963.[26] In 1979 areas from the canton of Bern attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new canton of Jura. On 18 April 1999 the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.[28]
In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving the Vatican City as the last widely recognised state without full UN membership. Switzerland is a founding member of the EFTA, but is not a member of the European Economic Area. An application for membership in the European Union was sent in May 1992, but not advanced since the EEA was rejected in December 1992[28] when Switzerland was the only country to launch a referendum on the EEA. There have since been several referenda on the EU issue; due to a mixed reaction from the population the membership application has been frozen. Nonetheless, Swiss law is gradually being adjusted to conform with that of the EU, and the government has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the European Union. Switzerland, together with Liechtenstein, has been completely surrounded by the EU since Austria's entry in 1995. On 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed by a 55% majority to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived as independent and reluctant to enter supranational bodies.[26]
Extending across the north and south side of the Alps in west-central Europe, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes and climates on a limited area of 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 sq mi).[42] The population is about 8 million, resulting in an average population density of around 195 people per square kilometre (500/sq mi).[42][43] The more mountainous southern half of the country is far more sparsely populated than the northern half.[42] In the largest Canton of Graub¼nden, lying entirely in the Alps, population density falls to 27 /km² (70 /sq mi).[44]
Switzerland lies between latitudes 45° and 48° N, and longitudes 5° and 11° E. It contains three basic topographical areas: the Swiss Alps to the south, the Swiss Plateau or Central Plateau, and the Jura mountains on the west. The Alps are a high mountain range running across the central-south of the country, comprising about 60% of the country's total area. The majority of the Swiss population live in the Swiss Plateau. Among the high valleys of the Swiss Alps many glaciers are found, totalling an area of 1,063 square kilometres (410 sq mi). From these originate the headwaters of several major rivers, such as the Rhine, Inn, Ticino and Rh´ne, which flow in the four cardinal directions into the whole of Europe. The hydrographic network includes several of the largest bodies of freshwater in Central and Western Europe, among which are included Lake Geneva (also called le Lac L(C)man in French), Lake Constance (known as Bodensee in German) and Lake Maggiore. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes, and contains 6% of Europe's stock of fresh water. Lakes and glaciers cover about 6% of the national territory. The largest lake is Lake Geneva, in western Switzerland shared with France. The Rh´ne is both the main source and outflow of Lake Geneva. Lake Constance is the second largest Swiss lake and, like the Lake Geneva, an intermediate step by the Rhine at the border to Austria and Germany. While the Rh´ne flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the French Camargue region and the Rhine flows into the North Sea at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, about 1000 km apart, both springs are only about 22 km apart from each other in the Swiss Alps.[42][45]
48 of Switzerland's mountains are 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) above sea in altitude or higher.[42] At 4,634 m (15,203 ft), Monte Rosa is the highest, although the Matterhorn (4,478 m or 14,692 ft) is often regarded as the most famous. Both are located within the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais. The section of the Bernese Alps above the deep glacial Lauterbrunnen valley, containing 72 waterfalls, is well known for the Jungfrau (4,158 m or 13,642 ft) Eiger and M¶nch, and the many picturesque valleys in the region. In the southeast the long Engadin Valley, encompassing the St. Moritz area in canton of Graub¼nden, is also well known; the highest peak in the neighbouring Bernina Alps is Piz Bernina (4,049 m or 13,284 ft).[42]
The more populous northern part of the country, comprising about 30% of the country's total area, is called the Swiss Plateau. It has greater open and hilly landscapes, partly forested, partly open pastures, usually with grazing herds, or vegetables and fruit fields, but it is still hilly. There are large lakes found here and the biggest Swiss cities are in this area of the country.[42]
ClimateEditThe Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities,[46] from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip. There are some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland where some cold-hardy palm trees are found. Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see long intervals of stable conditions for weeks, while the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks.
A weather phenomenon known as the f¶hn (with an identical effect to the chinook wind) can occur at all times of the year and is characterised by an unexpectedly warm wind, bringing air of very low relative humidity to the north of the Alps during rainfall periods on the southern face of the Alps. This works both ways across the alps but is more efficient if blowing from the south due to the steeper step for oncoming wind from the south. Valleys running south to north trigger the best effect. The driest conditions persist in all inner alpine valleys that receive less rain because arriving clouds lose a lot of their content while crossing the mountains before reaching these areas. Large alpine areas such as Graub¼nden remain drier than pre-alpine areas and as in the main valley of the Valais wine grapes are grown there.[47]
The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the Ticino canton which has much sun yet heavy bursts of rain from time to time.[47] Precipitation tends to be spread moderately throughout the year with a peak in summer. Autumn is the driest season, winter receives less precipitation than summer, yet the weather patterns in Switzerland are not in a stable climate system and can be variable from year to year with no strict and predictable periods.
EnvironmentEditSwitzerland's ecosystems can be particularly fragile, because the many delicate valleys separated by high mountains often form unique ecologies. The mountainous regions themselves are also vulnerable, with a rich range of plants not found at other altitudes, and experience some pressure from visitors and grazing. The climatic, geological and topographical conditions of the alpine region make for a very fragile ecosystem that is particularly sensitive to climate change.[46][49] Nevertheless, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Switzerland ranks first among 132 nations in safeguarding the environment, due to its high scores on environmental public health, its heavy reliance on renewable sources of energy (hydropower and geothermal energy), and its control of greenhouse gas emissions.[50]
The Federal Constitution adopted in 1848 is the legal foundation of the modern federal state. It is among the oldest constitutions in the world.[51] A new Constitution was adopted in 1999, but did not introduce notable changes to the federal structure. It outlines basic and political rights of individuals and citizen participation in public affairs, divides the powers between the Confederation and the cantons and defines federal jurisdiction and authority. There are three main governing bodies on the federal level:[52] the bicameral parliament (legislative), the Federal Council (executive) and the Federal Court (judicial).
The Swiss Parliament consists of two houses: the Council of States which has 46 representatives (two from each canton and one from each half-canton) who are elected under a system determined by each canton, and the National Council, which consists of 200 members who are elected under a system of proportional representation, depending on the population of each canton. Members of both houses serve for 4 years. When both houses are in joint session, they are known collectively as the Federal Assembly. Through referendums, citizens may challenge any law passed by parliament and through initiatives, introduce amendments to the federal constitution, thus making Switzerland a direct democracy.[51]
The Federal Council constitutes the federal government, directs the federal administration and serves as collective Head of State. It is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year mandate by the Federal Assembly which also exercises oversight over the Council. The President of the Confederation is elected by the Assembly from among the seven members, traditionally in rotation and for a one-year term; the President chairs the government and assumes representative functions. However, the president is a primus inter pares with no additional powers, and remains the head of a department within the administration.[51]
The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of electorate and representation in the federal parliament. The classic distribution of 2 CVP/PDC, 2 SPS/PSS, 2 FDP/PRD and 1 SVP/UDC as it stood from 1959 to 2003 was known as the "magic formula". Following the 2015 Federal Council elections, the seven seats in the Federal Council were distributed as follows:
1 seat for the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC),2 seats for the Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD),2 seats for the Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS),2 seats for the Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC).The function of the Federal Supreme Court is to hear appeals against rulings of cantonal or federal courts. The judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for six-year terms.[53]
Direct democracyEditDirect democracy and federalism are hallmarks of the Swiss political system.[55] Swiss citizens are subject to three legal jurisdictions: the commune, canton and federal levels. The 1848 federal constitution defines a system of direct democracy (sometimes called half-direct or representative direct democracy because it is aided by the more commonplace institutions of a representative democracy). The instruments of this system at the federal level, known as civic rights (Volksrechte, droits civiques), include the right to submit a constitutional initiative and a referendum, both of which may overturn parliamentary decisions.[51][56]
By calling a federal referendum, a group of citizens may challenge a law passed by Parliament, if they gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Any 8 cantons together can also call a referendum on a federal law.[51]
Similarly, the federal constitutional initiative allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote, if 100,000 voters sign the proposed amendment within 18 months.[note 8] Parliament can supplement the proposed amendment with a counter-proposal, and then voters must indicate a preference on the ballot in case both proposals are accepted. Constitutional amendments, whether introduced by initiative or in Parliament, must be accepted by a double majority of the national popular vote and the cantonal popular votes.[note 9][57][58]
Administrative divisionsEditThe Swiss Confederation consists of 20 cantons and 6 half cantons:[51]
*These cantons are known as half-cantons and are thus represented by only one councillor (instead of two) in the Council of States.
The cantons have a permanent constitutional status and, in comparison with the situation in other countries, a high degree of independence. Under the Federal Constitution, all 26 cantons are equal in status. Each canton has its own constitution, and its own parliament, government and courts.[54] However, there are considerable differences between the individual cantons, most particularly in terms of population and geographical area. Their populations vary between 15,000 (Appenzell Innerrhoden) and 1,253,500 (Z¼rich), and their area between 37 km2 (14 sq mi) (Basel-Stadt) and 7,105 km2 (2,743 sq mi) (Graub¼nden). The Cantons comprise a total of 2,485 municipalities. Within Switzerland there are two enclaves: B¼singen belongs to Germany, Campione d'Italia belongs to Italy.[59]
Foreign relations and international institutionsEditTraditionally, Switzerland avoids alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and has been neutral since the end of its expansion in 1515. Its policy of neutrality was internationally recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[60][61] Only in 2002 did Switzerland become a full member of the United Nations[60] and it was the first state to join it by referendum. Switzerland maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as an intermediary between other states.[60] Switzerland is not a member of the European Union; the Swiss people have consistently rejected membership since the early 1990s.[60] However, Switzerland does participate in the Schengen Area.[62]
A large number of international institutions have their seats in Switzerland, in part because of its policy of neutrality. Geneva is the birthplace of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the Geneva Conventions and, since 2006, hosts the United Nations Human Rights Council. Even though Switzerland is one of the most recent countries to have joined the United Nations, the Palace of Nations in Geneva is the second biggest centre for the United Nations after New York, and Switzerland was a founding member and home to the League of Nations.
Apart from the United Nations headquarters, the Swiss Confederation is host to many UN agencies, like the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and about 200 other international organisations, including the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.[60] The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos bring together top international business and political leaders from Switzerland and foreign countries to discuss important issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Additionally the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) are located in Basel since 1930.
Furthermore, many sport federations and organisations are located throughout the country, such as the International Basketball Federation in Geneva, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Nyon, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the International Ice Hockey Federation both in Z¼rich, the International Cycling Union in Aigle, and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.[64]
MilitaryEditThe Swiss Armed Forces, including the Land Forces and the Air Force, are composed mostly of conscripts, male citizens aged from 20 to 34 (in special cases up to 50) years. Being a landlocked country, Switzerland has no navy; however, on lakes bordering neighbouring countries, armed military patrol boats are used. Swiss citizens are prohibited from serving in foreign armies, except for the Swiss Guards of the Vatican, or if they are dual citizens of a foreign country and reside there.
The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their Army issued equipment, including all personal weapons, at home. Some organizations and political parties find this practice controversial[65] but mainstream Swiss opinion is in favour of the system. Compulsory military service concerns all male Swiss citizens; women can serve voluntarily. Men usually receive military conscription orders for training at the age of 18.[66] About two thirds of the young Swiss are found suited for service; for those found unsuited, various forms of alternative service exist.[67] Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in recruit centres for a duration from 18 to 21 weeks. The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003, it replaced the previous model "Army 95", reducing the effectives from 400,000 to about 200,000. Of those, 120,000 are active in periodic Army training and 80,000 are non-training reserves.[68]
Overall, three general mobilisations have been declared to ensure the integrity and neutrality of Switzerland. The first one was held on the occasion of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870''71. The second was in response to the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. The third mobilisation of the army took place in September 1939 in response to the German attack on Poland; Henri Guisan was elected as the General-in-Chief.
Because of its neutrality policy, the Swiss army does not currently take part in armed conflicts in other countries, but is part of some peacekeeping missions around the world. Since 2000 the armed force department has also maintained the Onyx intelligence gathering system to monitor satellite communications.[69]
Following the end of the Cold War there have been a number of attempts to curb military activity or even abolish the armed forces altogether. A notable referendum on the subject, launched by an anti-militarist group, was held on 26 November 1989. It was defeated with about two thirds of the voters against the proposal.[70][71] A similar referendum, called for before, but held shortly after the 11 September attacks in the US, was defeated by over 78% of voters.[72]
Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe in that a relatively high percentage (29% vs. 43% in US) of citizens are legally armed. The large majority of firearms kept at home are issued militia weapons, but ammunition is not issued.
Economy and labour lawEditSwitzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy and enjoys great wealth, being ranked as the wealthiest country in the world per capita in multiple rankings. In 2011 it was ranked as the wealthiest country in the world in per capita terms (with "wealth" being defined to include both financial and non-financial assets), while the 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report showed that Switzerland was the country with the highest average wealth per adult in 2013.[74][75][76] It has the world's nineteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-sixth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the twentieth largest exporter, despite its small size. Switzerland has the highest European rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2010, while also providing large coverage through public services.[77] The nominal per capita GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan.[78] If adjusted for purchasing power parity, Switzerland ranks 8th in the world in terms of GDP per capita, according to the World Bank and IMF (ranked 15th according to the CIA Worldfactbook[78]).
The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report currently ranks Switzerland's economy as the most competitive in the world,[79] while ranked by the European Union as Europe's most innovative country.[80] For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (by GDP '' per capita).[81] In 2007 the gross median household income in Switzerland was an estimated 137,094 USD at Purchasing power parity while the median income was 95,825 USD.[82] Switzerland also has one of the world's largest account balances as a percentage of GDP.
Switzerland is home to several large multinational corporations. The largest Swiss companies by revenue are Glencore, Gunvor, Nestl(C), Novartis, Hoffmann-La Roche, ABB, Mercuria Energy Group and Adecco.[84] Also, notable are UBS AG, Zurich Financial Services, Credit Suisse, Barry Callebaut, Swiss Re, Tetra Pak, The Swatch Group and Swiss International Air Lines. Switzerland is ranked as having one of the most powerful economies in the world.[81]
Switzerland's most important economic sector is manufacturing. Manufacturing consists largely of the production of specialist chemicals, health and pharmaceutical goods, scientific and precision measuring instruments and musical instruments. The largest exported goods are chemicals (34% of exported goods), machines/electronics (20.9%), and precision instruments/watches (16.9%).[85] Exported services amount to a third of exports.[85] The service sector '' especially banking and insurance, tourism, and international organisations '' is another important industry for Switzerland.
Around 3.8 million people work in Switzerland; about 25% of employees belonged to a trade union in 2004.[86] Switzerland has a more flexible job market than neighbouring countries and the unemployment rate is very low. The unemployment rate increased from a low of 1.7% in June 2000 to a peak of 4.4% in December 2009.[87] The unemployment rate is 3.2% in 2014.[88] Population growth from net immigration is quite high, at 0.52% of population in 2004.[85] The foreign citizen population was 21.8% in 2004,[85] about the same as in Australia. GDP per hour worked is the world's 16th highest, at 49.46 international dollars in 2012.[89]
Switzerland has an overwhelmingly private sector economy and low tax rates by Western World standards; overall taxation is one of the smallest of developed countries. Switzerland is a relatively easy place to do business, currently ranking 20th of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index. The slow growth Switzerland experienced in the 1990s and the early 2000s has brought greater support for economic reforms and harmonization with the European Union.[90][91] According to Credit Suisse, only about 37% of residents own their own homes, one of the lowest rates of home ownership in Europe. Housing and food price levels were 171% and 145% of the EU-25 index in 2007, compared to 113% and 104% in Germany.[85]
The Swiss Federal budget had a size of 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, which is an equivalent 11.35% of the country's GDP in that year; however, the regional (canton) budgets and the budgets of the municipalities are not counted as part of the federal budget and the total rate of government spending is closer to 33.8% of GDP. The main sources of income for the federal government are the value-added tax (33%) and the direct federal tax (29%) and the main expenditure is located in the areas of social welfare and finance & tax. The expenditures of the Swiss Confederation have been growing from 7% of GDP in 1960 to 9.7% in 1990 and to 10.7% in 2010. While the sectors social welfare and finance & tax have been growing from 35% in 1990 to 48.2% in 2010, a significant reduction of expenditures has been occurring in the sectors of agriculture and national defense; from 26.5% in to 12.4% (estimation for the year 2015).[92][93]
Agricultural protectionism'--a rare exception to Switzerland's free trade policies'--has contributed to high food prices. Product market liberalisation is lagging behind many EU countries according to the OECD.[90] Nevertheless, domestic purchasing power is one of the best in the world.[94][95][96] Apart from agriculture, economic and trade barriers between the European Union and Switzerland are minimal and Switzerland has free trade agreements worldwide. Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Education and scienceEditEducation in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons.[97] There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools. The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons, but most cantons provide a free "children's school" starting at four or five years old.[97] Primary school continues until grade four, five or six, depending on the school. Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was always one of the other national languages, although recently (2000) English was introduced first in a few cantons.[97]
At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), pupils are separated according to their capacities in several (often three) sections. The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura,[97] while students who assimilate a little more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs.
There are 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel (with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. The biggest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students. The two institutes sponsored by the federal government are the ETHZ in Z¼rich (founded 1855) and the EPFL in Lausanne (founded 1969 as such, formerly an institute associated with the University of Lausanne) which both have an excellent international reputation.[note 10][100][101]
In addition, there are various Universities of Applied Sciences. In business and management studies, University of St. Gallen, (HSG) and International Institute for Management Development (IMD) are the leaders within the country and highly regarded internationally. Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%).[102][103]
As might befit a country that plays home to innumerable international organizations, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, located in Geneva, is not only continental Europe's oldest graduate school of international and development studies, but also widely believed to be one of its most prestigious.[104][105]
Many Nobel prizes have been awarded to Swiss scientists, for example to the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein[106] in the field of physics who developed his Special relativity while working in Bern. More recently Vladimir Prelog, Heinrich Rohrer, Richard Ernst, Edmond Fischer, Rolf Zinkernagel and Kurt W¼thrich received Nobel prizes in the sciences. In total, 113 Nobel Prize winners in all fields stand in relation to Switzerland[107][note 11] and the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded nine times to organisations residing in Switzerland.[108]
Geneva and the nearby French department of Ain co-host the world's largest laboratory, CERN,[110] dedicated to particle physics research. Another important research center is the Paul Scherrer Institute. Notable inventions include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), the scanning tunneling microscope (Nobel prize) and Velcro. Some technologies enabled the exploration of new worlds such as the pressurized balloon of Auguste Piccard and the Bathyscaphe which permitted Jacques Piccard to reach the deepest point of the world's oceans.
Switzerland Space Agency, the Swiss Space Office, has been involved in various space technologies and programs. In addition it was one of the 10 founders of the European Space Agency in 1975 and is the seventh largest contributor to the ESA budget. In the private sector, several companies are implicated in the space industry such as Oerlikon Space[111] or Maxon Motors[112] who provide spacecraft structures.
Switzerland and the European UnionEditSwitzerland voted against membership in the European Economic Area in a referendum in December 1992 and has since maintained and developed its relationships with the European Union (EU) and European countries through bilateral agreements. In March 2001, the Swiss people refused in a popular vote to start accession negotiations with the EU.[113] In recent years, the Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with those of the EU in many ways, in an effort to enhance their international competitiveness. The economy grew at 3% in 2010, 1.9% in 2011, and 1% in 2012.[114]Full EU membership is a long-term objective of some in the Swiss government, but there is considerable popular sentiment against this supported by the conservative SVP party. The western French-speaking areas and the urban regions of the rest of the country tend to be more pro-EU, however with far from any significant share of the population.[115][116]
The government has established an Integration Office under the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Economic Affairs. To minimise the negative consequences of Switzerland's isolation from the rest of Europe, Bern and Brussels signed seven bilateral agreements to further liberalise trade ties. These agreements were signed in 1999 and took effect in 2001. This first series of bilateral agreements included the free movement of persons. A second series covering nine areas was signed in 2004 and has since been ratified, which includes the Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Convention besides others.[117] They continue to discuss further areas for cooperation.[118]
In 2006, Switzerland approved 1 billion francs of supportive investment in the poorer Southern and Central European countries in support of cooperation and positive ties to the EU as a whole. A further referendum will be needed to approve 300 million francs to support Romania and Bulgaria and their recent admission. The Swiss have also been under EU and sometimes international pressure to reduce banking secrecy and to raise tax rates to parity with the EU. Preparatory discussions are being opened in four new areas: opening up the electricity market, participation in the European GNSS project Galileo, cooperating with the European centre for disease prevention and recognising certificates of origin for food products.[119]
On 27 November 2008, the interior and justice ministers of European Union in Brussels announced Switzerland's accession to the Schengen passport-free zone from 12 December 2008. The land border checkpoints will remain in place only for goods movements, but should not run controls on people, though people entering the country had their passports checked until 29 March 2009 if they originated from a Schengen nation.[120]
On 9 February 2014, Swiss voters narrowly approved by 50.3% a ballot initiative launched by the national conservativeSwiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) to restrict immigration, and thus reintroducing a quota system on the influx of foreigners. This initiative was mostly backed by rural (57.6% approvals), suburban (51.2% approvals), and isolated cities (51.3% approvals) of Switzerland as well as by a strong majority (69.2% approval) in the canton of Ticino, while metropolitan centres (58.5% rejection) and the French-speaking part (58.5% rejection) of Switzerland rather rejected it.[121] Some news commentators claim that this proposal de facto contradicts the bilateral agreements on the free movement of persons from these respective countries.[122][123]
Energy, infrastructure and environmentEditElectricity generated in Switzerland is 56% from hydroelectricity and 39% from nuclear power, resulting in a nearly CO2-free electricity-generating network. On 18 May 2003, two anti-nuclear initiatives were turned down: Moratorium Plus, aimed at forbidding the building of new nuclear power plants (41.6% supported and 58.4% opposed),[124] and Electricity Without Nuclear (33.7% supported and 66.3% opposed).[125]
The former ten-year moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants was the result of a citizens' initiative voted on in 1990 which had passed with 54.5% Yes vs. 45.5% No votes. Plans for a new nuclear plant in the Canton of Bern have been put on hold after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) is the office responsible for all questions relating to energy supply and energy use within the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). The agency is supporting the 2000-watt society initiative to cut the nation's energy use by more than half by the year 2050.[126]
On 25 May 2011 the Swiss government announced that it plans to end its use of nuclear energy in the next 2 or 3 decades. "The government has voted for a phaseout because we want to ensure a secure and autonomous supply of energy", Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said that day at a press conference in Bern. "Fukushima showed that the risk of nuclear power is too high, which in turn has also increased the costs of this energy form." The first reactor would reportedly be taken offline in 2019 and the last one in 2034. Parliament will discuss the plan in June 2011, and there could be a referendum as well.[127]
The most dense rail network in Europe[41] of 5,063 km (3,146 mi) carries over 350 million passengers annually.[128] In 2007, each Swiss citizen travelled on average 2,258 km (1,403 mi) by rail, which makes them the keenest rail users.[129] The network is administered mainly by the Federal Railways, except in Graub¼nden, where the 366 km (227 mi) narrow gauge railway is operated by the Rhaetian Railways and includes some World Heritage lines.[130] The building of new railway base tunnels through the Alps is under way to reduce the time of travel between north and south through the AlpTransit project.
Swiss private-public managed road network is funded by road tolls and vehicle taxes. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute system requires the purchase of a vignette (toll sticker)'--which costs 40 Swiss francs'--for one calendar year in order to use its roadways, for both passenger cars and trucks. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute network has a total length of 1,638 km (1,018 mi) (as of 2000) and has, by an area of 41,290 km2 (15,940 sq mi), also one of the highest motorway densities in the world.[131]Z¼rich Airport is Switzerland's largest international flight gateway, which handled 22.8 million passengers in 2012.[132] The other international airports are Geneva Airport (13.9 million passengers in 2012),[133]EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg which is located in France, Bern Airport, Lugano Airport, St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Sion Airport. Swiss International Air Lines is the flag carrier of Switzerland. Its main hub is Z¼rich.
Switzerland has one of the best environmental records among nations in the developed world;[134] it was one of the countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2003. With Mexico and the Republic of Korea it forms the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG).[135] The country is heavily active in recycling and anti-littering regulations and is one of the top recyclers in the world, with 66% to 96% of recyclable materials being recycled, depending on the area of the country.[136] The 2014 Global Green Economy Index ranked Switzerland among the top 10 green economies in the world.[137]
In many places in Switzerland, household rubbish disposal is charged for. Rubbish (except dangerous items, batteries etc.) is only collected if it is in bags which either have a payment sticker attached, or in official bags with the surcharge paid at the time of purchase.[138] This gives a financial incentive to recycle as much as possible, since recycling is free.[139] Illegal disposal of garbage is not tolerated but usually the enforcement of such laws is limited to violations that involve the unlawful disposal of larger volumes at traffic intersections and public areas. Fines for not paying the disposal fee range from CHF 200''500.[140]
Switzerland also has internationally the most efficient system to recycle old newspapers and cardboard materials. Publicly organised collection by volunteers and economical railway transport logistics started as early as 1865 under the leadership of the notable industrialist Hans Caspar Escher (Escher Wyss AG) when the first modern Swiss paper manufacturing plant was built in Biberist.[141]
In 2012, Switzerland's population slightly exceeded eight million. The Swiss population quadrupled between 1800 and 1990.
In 2012, resident foreigners made up 23.3% of the population.[142] Most of these (64%) were from European Union or EFTA countries.[143]Italians were the largest single group of foreigners with 15.6% of total foreign population. They were closely followed by Germans (15.2%), immigrants from Portugal (12.7%), France (5.6%), Serbia (5.3%), Turkey (3.8%), Spain (3.7%), and Austria (2%). Immigrants from Sri Lanka, most of them former Tamil refugees, were the largest group among people of Asian origin (6.3%).[143] Additionally, the figures from 2012 show that 34.7% of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over in Switzerland, i.e. 2,335,000 persons, had an immigrant background. A third of this population (853,000) held Swiss citizenship. Four fifths of persons with an immigration background were themselves immigrants (first generation foreigners and native-born and naturalised Swiss citizens), whereas one fifth were born in Switzerland (second generation foreigners and native-born and naturalised Swiss citizens).[144] In the 2000s, domestic and international institutions expressed concern about what they perceived as an increase in xenophobia, particularly in some political campaigns. In reply to one critical report the Federal Council noted that "racism unfortunately is present in Switzerland", but stated that the high proportion of foreign citizens in the country, as well as the generally unproblematic integration of foreigners", underlined Switzerland's openness.[145]
LanguagesEditSwitzerland has four official languages: principally German (spoken by 63.5% of the population in 2013); French (22.5%) in the west; and Italian (8.1%) in the south.[146] The fourth official language, Romansh (0.5%), is a Romance language spoken locally in the southeastern trilingual canton of Graub¼nden, and is designated by Article 4 of the Federal Constitution as a national language along with German, French, and Italian, and in Article 70 as an official language if the authorities communicate with persons who speak Romansh. However, federal laws and other official acts do not need to be decreed in Romansh.
In 2013, the languages most spoken at home among permanent residents aged 15 and older were Swiss German (60.1%), French (23.4%), Standard German (10.1%), and Italian (8.4%). More than two-fifths (42.6%) of the permanent resident population indicated speaking more than one language regularly. Other languages spoken at home included English (4.6%), Portuguese (3.5%), Albanian (2.6%), Serbian and Croatian (2.5%), Spanish (2.2%), and Turkish (1.3%).[146]
The federal government is obliged to communicate in the official languages, and in the federal parliament simultaneous translation is provided from and into German, French and Italian.[147]
Aside from the official forms of their respective languages, the four linguistic regions of Switzerland also have their local dialectal forms. The role played by dialects in each linguistic region varies dramatically: in the German-speaking regions, Swiss German dialects have become ever more prevalent since the second half of the 20th century, especially in the media, such as radio and television, and are used as an everyday language, while the Swiss variety of Standard German is almost always used instead of dialect for written communication (c.f. diglossic usage of a language).[148] Conversely, in the French-speaking regions the local dialects have almost disappeared (only 6.3% of the population of Valais, 3.9% of Fribourg, and 3.1% of Jura still spoke dialects at the end of the 20th century), while in the Italian-speaking regions dialects are mostly limited to family settings and casual conversation.[148]
The principal official languages (German, French, and Italian) have terms, not used outside of Switzerland, known as Helvetisms. German Helvetisms are, roughly speaking, a large group of words typical of Swiss Standard German, which do not appear either in Standard German, nor in other German dialects. These include terms from Switzerland's surrounding language cultures (German Billette[149] from French), from similar term in another language (Italian azione used not only as act but also as discount from German Aktion).[150] The French spoken in Switzerland has similar terms, which are equally known as Helvetisms. The most frequent characteristics of Helvetisms are in vocabulary, phrases, and pronunciation, but certain Helvetisms denote themselves as special in syntax and orthography likewise. Duden, one of the prescriptive sources for Standard German, is aware of about 3000 Helvetisms.[150] Current French dictionaries, such as the Petit Larousse, include several hundred Helvetisms.[151]
Learning one of the other national languages at school is compulsory for all Swiss pupils, so many Swiss are supposed to be at least bilingual, especially those belonging to linguistic minority groups.[152]
HealthEditSwiss citizens are universally required to buy health insurance from private insurance companies, which in turn are required to accept every applicant. While the cost of the system is among the highest it compares well with other European countries in terms of health outcomes; patients who are citizens have been reported as being, in general, highly satisfied with it.[153][154][155] In 2012, life expectancy at birth was 80.4 years for men and 84.7 years for women[156] '-- the highest in the world.[157][158] However, spending on health is particularly high at 11.4% of GDP (2010), on par with Germany and France (11.6%) and other European countries, and notably less than spending in the USA (17.6%).[159] From 1990, a steady increase can be observed, reflecting the high costs of the services provided.[160] With an ageing population and new healthcare technologies, health spending will likely continue to rise.[160]
UrbanizationEditBetween two thirds and three quarters of the population live in urban areas.[161][162] Switzerland has gone from a largely rural country to an urban one in just 70 years. Since 1935 urban development has claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the previous 2,000 years. This urban sprawl does not only affect the plateau but also the Jura and the Alpine foothills[163] and there are growing concerns about land use.[164] However, from the beginning of the 21st century, the population growth in urban areas is higher than in the countryside.[162]
Switzerland has a dense network of cities, where large, medium and small cities are complementary.[162] The plateau is very densely populated with about 450 people per km2 and the landscape continually shows signs of human presence.[165] The weight of the largest metropolitan areas, which are Z¼rich, Geneva''Lausanne, Basel and Bern tend to increase.[162] In international comparison the importance of these urban areas is stronger than their number of inhabitants suggests.[162] In addition the two main centers of Z¼rich and Geneva are recognized for their particularly great quality of life.[166]
ReligionEditSwitzerland has no official state religion, though most of the cantons (except Geneva and Neuchtel) recognize official churches, which are either the Catholic Church or the (Protestant) Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of adherents.[167]
Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland (about 71% of resident population[168] and 75% of Swiss citizens[169]), divided between the Catholic Church (38.21% of the population), the Swiss Reformed Church (26.93%), further Protestant churches (2.89%) and other Christian denominations (2.79%). There has been a recent rise in Evangelicalism.[170]Immigration has established Islam (4.95%) and Eastern Orthodoxy (around 2%) as sizeable minority religions.[168] According to a 2015 poll by Gallup International, 12% of Swiss people self-identified as "convinced atheists."[171]
As of the 2000 census other Christian minority communities included Neo-Pietism (0.44%), Pentecostalism (0.28%, mostly incorporated in the Schweizer Pfingstmission), Methodism (0.13%), the New Apostolic Church (0.45%), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.28%), other Protestant denominations (0.20%), the Old Catholic Church (0.18%), other Christian denominations (0.20%). Non-Christian religions are Hinduism (0.38%), Buddhism (0.29%), Judaism (0.25%) and others (0.11%); 4.3% did not make a statement. 21.4% in 2012 declared themselves as unchurched i.e. not affiliated with any church or other religious body (Agnostic, Atheist, or just not related to any official religion).[168][172]
The country was historically about evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant, with a complex patchwork of majorities over most of the country. Geneva converted to Protestantism in 1536, just before John Calvin arrived there. One canton, Appenzell, was officially divided into Catholic and Protestant sections in 1597. The larger cities and their cantons (Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Z¼rich and Basel) used to be predominantly Protestant. Central Switzerland, the Valais, the Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhodes, the Jura, and Fribourg are traditionally Catholic. The Swiss Constitution of 1848, under the recent impression of the clashes of Catholic vs. Protestant cantons that culminated in the Sonderbundskrieg, consciously defines a consociational state, allowing the peaceful co-existence of Catholics and Protestants. A 1980 initiative calling for the complete separation of church and state was rejected by 78.9% of the voters.[173] Some traditionally Protestant cantons and cities nowadays have a slight Catholic majority, not because they were growing in members, quite the contrary, but only because since about 1970 a steadily growing minority became not affiliated with any church or other religious body (21.4% in Switzerland, 2012) especially in traditionally Protestant regions, such as Basel-City (42%), canton of Neuchtel (38%), canton of Geneva (35%), canton of Vaud (26%), or Z¼rich city (city: >25%; canton: 23%).[174]
Three of Europe's major languages are official in Switzerland. Swiss culture is characterised by diversity, which is reflected in a wide range of traditional customs.[176] A region may be in some ways strongly culturally connected to the neighbouring country that shares its language, the country itself being rooted in western European culture.[177] The linguistically isolated Romansh culture in Graub¼nden in eastern Switzerland constitutes an exception, it survives only in the upper valleys of the Rhine and the Inn and strives to maintain its rare linguistic tradition.
Switzerland is home to many notable contributors to literature, art, architecture, music and sciences. In addition the country attracted a number of creative persons during time of unrest or war in Europe.[178] Some 1000 museums are distributed through the country; the number has more than tripled since 1950.[179] Among the most important cultural performances held annually are the Pal(C)o Festival, Lucerne Festival,[180] the Montreux Jazz Festival,[181] the Locarno International Film Festival and the Art Basel.[182]
Alpine symbolism has played an essential role in shaping the history of the country and the Swiss national identity.[10][183] Nowadays some concentrated mountain areas have a strong highly energetic ski resort culture in winter, and a hiking (ger: das Wandern) or Mountain biking culture in summer. Other areas throughout the year have a recreational culture that caters to tourism, yet the quieter seasons are spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors. A traditional farmer and herder culture also predominates in many areas and small farms are omnipresent outside the cities. Folk art is kept alive in organisations all over the country. In Switzerland it is mostly expressed in music, dance, poetry, wood carving and embroidery. The alphorn, a trumpet-like musical instrument made of wood, has become alongside yodeling and the accordion an epitome of traditional Swiss music.[184][185]
LiteratureEditAs the Confederation, from its foundation in 1291, was almost exclusively composed of German-speaking regions, the earliest forms of literature are in German. In the 18th century, French became the fashionable language in Bern and elsewhere, while the influence of the French-speaking allies and subject lands was more marked than before.[187]
Among the classics of Swiss German literature are Jeremias Gotthelf (1797''1854) and Gottfried Keller (1819''1890). The undisputed giants of 20th century Swiss literature are Max Frisch (1911''91) and Friedrich D¼rrenmatt (1921''90), whose repertoire includes Die Physiker (The Physicists) and Das Versprechen (The Pledge), released in 2001 as a Hollywood film.[188]
Prominent French-speaking writers were Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712''1778) and Germaine de Stal (1766''1817). More recent authors include Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878''1947), whose novels describe the lives of peasants and mountain dwellers, set in a harsh environment and Blaise Cendrars (born Fr(C)d(C)ric Sauser, 1887''1961).[188] Also Italian and Romansh-speaking authors contributed but in more modest way given their small number.
Probably the most famous Swiss literary creation, Heidi, the story of an orphan girl who lives with her grandfather in the Alps, is one of the most popular children's books ever and has come to be a symbol of Switzerland. Her creator, Johanna Spyri (1827''1901), wrote a number of other books on similar themes.[188]
MediaEditThe freedom of the press and the right to free expression is guaranteed in the federal constitution of Switzerland.[189] The Swiss News Agency (SNA) broadcasts information around-the-clock in three of the four national languages'--on politics, economics, society and culture. The SNA supplies almost all Swiss media and a couple dozen foreign media services with its news.[189]
Switzerland has historically boasted the greatest number of newspaper titles published in proportion to its population and size.[190] The most influential newspapers are the German-language Tages-Anzeiger and Neue Z¼rcher Zeitung NZZ, and the French-language Le Temps, but almost every city has at least one local newspaper. The cultural diversity accounts for a large number of newspapers.[190]
The government exerts greater control over broadcast media than print media, especially due to finance and licensing.[190] The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, whose name was recently changed to SRG SSR, is charged with the production and broadcast of radio and television programs. SRG SSR studios are distributed throughout the various language regions. Radio content is produced in six central and four regional studios while the television programs are produced in Geneva, Z¼rich and Lugano. An extensive cable network also allows most Swiss to access the programs from neighboring countries.[190]
SportsEditSkiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports in Switzerland, the nature of the country being particularly suited for such activities.[191] Winter sports are practiced by the natives and tourists since the second half of the 19th century with the invention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz.[192] The first world ski championships were held in M¼rren (1931) and St. Moritz (1934). The latter town hosted the second Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and the fifth edition in 1948. Among the most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche.
Swiss are fans of football and the national team is nicknamed the 'Nati'. The headquarters of the sport's governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), is located in Z¼rich. Switzerland hosted the 1954 FIFA World Cup, and was the joint host, with Austria, of the Euro 2008 tournament. The Swiss Super League is the nation's professional club league. For the Brasil 2014 World Cup finals tournament, the country's German-speaking cantons will be closely monitored by local police forces to prevent celebrations beyond one hour after matches end.[193] Europe's highest football pitch, at 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above sea level, is located in Switzerland and is named the Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium.[194]
Many Swiss also follow ice hockey and support one of the 12 clubs in the League A, which is the most attended league in Europe.[195] In 2009, Switzerland hosted the IIHF World Championship for the 10th time.[196] It also became World Vice-Champion in 2013. The numerous lakes make Switzerland an attractive place for sailing. The largest, Lake Geneva, is the home of the sailing team Alinghi which was the first European team to win the America's Cup in 2003 and which successfully defended the title in 2007. Tennis has become an increasingly popular sport, and Swiss players such as Martina Hingis, Roger Federer, and most recently, Stanislas Wawrinka have won multiple Grand Slams. Swiss professional wrestler Claudio Castagnoli is currently signed with WWE, and is a former United States champion.
Motorsport racecourses and events were banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster with exception to events such as Hillclimbing. During this period, the country still produced successful racing drivers such as Clay Regazzoni, S(C)bastien Buemi, Jo Siffert, Dominique Aegerter, successful World Touring Car Championship driver Alain Menu, 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marcel F¤ssler and 2015 24 Hours N¼rburgring winner Nico M¼ller. Switzerland also won the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2007''08 with driver Neel Jani. Swiss motorcycle racerThomas L¼thi won the 2005 MotoGP World Championship in the 125cc category. In June 2007 the Swiss National Council, one house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, voted to overturn the ban, however the other house, the Swiss Council of States rejected the change and the ban remains in place.[198][199]
Traditional sports include Swiss wrestling or "Schwingen". It is an old tradition from the rural central cantons and considered the national sport by some. Hornussen is another indigenous Swiss sport, which is like a cross between baseball and golf.[200]Steinstossen is the Swiss variant of stone put, a competition in throwing a heavy stone. Practiced only among the alpine population since prehistoric times, it is recorded to have taken place in Basel in the 13th century. It is also central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 kg stone named Unspunnenstein.[201]
CuisineEditMain article: Swiss cuisineThe cuisine of Switzerland is multifaceted. While some dishes such as fondue, raclette or r¶sti are omnipresent through the country, each region developed its own gastronomy according to the differences of climate and languages.[202][203] Traditional Swiss cuisine uses ingredients similar to those in other European countries, as well as unique dairy products and cheeses such as Gruy¨re or Emmental, produced in the valleys of Gruy¨res and Emmental. The number of fine-dining establishments is high, particularly in western Switzerland.[204][205]
Chocolate had been made in Switzerland since the 18th century but it gained its reputation at the end of the 19th century with the invention of modern techniques such as conching and tempering which enabled its production on a high quality level. Also a breakthrough was the invention of solid milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter. The Swiss are the world's largest consumers of chocolate.[206][207]
Due to the popularization of processed foods at the end of the 19th century, Swiss health food pioneer Maximilian Bircher-Benner created the first nutrition-based therapy in form of the well-known rolled oatscereal dish, called Bircherm¼esli.
The most popular alcoholic drink in Switzerland is wine. Switzerland is notable for the variety of grapes grown because of the large variations in terroirs, with their specific mixes of soil, air, altitude and light. Swiss wine is produced mainly in Valais, Vaud (Lavaux), Geneva and Ticino, with a small majority of white wines. Vineyards have been cultivated in Switzerland since the Roman era, even though certain traces can be found of a more ancient origin. The most widespread varieties are the Chasselas (called Fendant in Valais) and Pinot noir. The Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.[208][209]
^De jure "federal city"; de facto capital. Due to historical federalist sensibilities, Swiss law does not designate a formal capital; and some federal institutions such as courts are located in other cities.^The original date of the R¼tlischwur was 1307 (reported by Aegidius Tschudi in the 16th century) and is just one among several comparable treaties between more or less the same parties during that period. The date of the Federal Charter of 1291 was selected in 1891 for the official celebration of the "Confederacy's 600th anniversary".^According to the Swiss constitution there is intentionally no capital ruling the Swiss Confederation, but in Bern you find governmental institutions, such as the parliament and the Federal Council. The Federal Court, however, is situated in Lausanne. The Federal Court of Criminality is in Bellinzona. The Federal Court of Administration and the Federal Court of Patents are in St Gallen.^There are several definitions. See Geography of Switzerland#Western or Central Europe?.^Swiss Standard German spelling and pronunciation. The Swiss German name is sometimes spelled as Schwyz or Schwiiz[ËʃʋiːtÍs]. Schwyz is also the standard German (and international) name of one of the Swiss cantons.^The latter is the common Sursilvan pronunciation.^As shown in this image, the current members of the council are (as of January 2016, from left to right): Federal Councillor Alain Berset, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Vice-President Doris Leuthard, President Johann Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova^Since 1999, an initiative can also be in the form of a general proposal to be elaborated by Parliament, but because it is considered less attractive for various reasons, this form of initiative has yet to find any use.^That is a majority of 23 cantonal votes, because the result of the popular vote in the six traditional half-cantons each counts as half the vote of one of the other cantons.^In 2008, the ETH Zurich was ranked 15th in the field Natural Sciences and Mathematics by the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities and the EPFL in Lausanne was ranked 18th in the field Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences by the same ranking.^Nobel prizes in non-science categories included.^ abHolenstein, Andr(C) (2012). "Die Hauptstadt existiert nicht"(PDF) (scientific article). UniPress - Forschung und Wissenschaft an der Universit¤t Bern (in German) (152: Sonderfall Hauptstatdtregion). Berne: Department Communication, University of Berne: 16''19. doi:10.7892/boris.41280. Retrieved 2015-12-20. Als 1848 ein politisch-administratives Zentrum f¼r den neuen Bundesstaat zu bestimmen war, verzichteten die Verfassungsv¤ter darauf, eine Hauptstadt der Schweiz zu bezeichnen und formulierten stattdessen in Artikel 108: Alles, was sich auf den Sitz der Bundesbeh¶rden bezieht, ist Gegenstand der Bundesgesetzgebung.>> Die Bundesstadt ist also nicht mehr und nicht weniger als der Sitz der Bundesbeh¶rden. ^A solemn declaration of the Tagsatzung declared the Federal Constitution adopted on 12 September 1848. 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BLM / SJW
Seattle University: Students Demand Dean Resign Because 'Humanities is Racist' >> Louder With Crowder
Sat, 14 May 2016 20:25
Courtney KirchoffFriday May 13 2016
After stops in Berkley, San Francisco, and their legendary performance at Mizzou, the Ridiculous Leftist Demand tour rolled into Seattle University, to take over the Dean's office, get someone fired, and demand that all their demands be met. You know, the greatest hits. Even though, thanks to such movements, Mizzou at least is experiencing terrible setbacks. Actions have consequences after all.
But for these Seattle U students, lesson not learned. As a reminder, we've written a column as to why you maybe shouldn't go to college. Let this post be another arrow in that quiver of thought. And I'm sorry, but going with the Twitter handle ''Comrade Vitaly''? It's like you want us to make fun of you'...
Joining a wave of campus activism around the Seattle region against alleged racism, a group of students at Seattle University have begun an occupation of their college's front office, complete with pizza, pillows, and Beyonce's Lemonade album playing over speakers. They say they won't leave until Jodi Kelly, the dean of the humanities-focused Matteo Ricci college, resigns.
Fiza Mohammad, a 22-year-old senior majoring in humanities, said the tensions have been mounting for months for a couple of reasons.
First, racism and sexism are especially acute at Matteo Ricci because the humanities curriculum is based heavily on Western canon and European classic literature, i.e. stuff that old racist and sexist white guys wrote down, Mohammad said.
Yes, I know as an English major (for I did graduate from college, thankfully before all this crap happened), it's wrong to list ''first'' without listing ''second.'' Also, I do apologize if you find typos in this or any other posts I may have written. I am human after all. The reason I chose to cut off the article pull quote from their demands is because the list of demands is about what you would expect. Petty. Stupid. Borderline functionally retarded. I chose to omit the remaining demands for your sanity. That's how much I love you guys.
As someone who studied English so I could one day become a writer (mission accomplished), I can tell you most of the literature studied, most of what these ninnies at Seattle U are moaning about, was written by white men. There's a reason for this. Brace yourselves: history. That's right, in the olden times of yore, white men recieved classical educations far more than women did. On top of that, women had a hard time finding publication because of actual sexism and the real patriarchy. In fact those women who did find publication often did so by using pseudonyms (like George Elliot).
Because yes, women and ''people of color'' were marginalized in the past. Real sexism. Real racism. You know what? Look how far we've come. I call that progress. We can thank real feminists who actually wanted equality for women for that, not today's butch-cutted lesbians with fat rolls and blue armpit hair. All of this to say, when reading classic literature, you'll encounter the result of history. Which means white men. D.H. Lawrence. William Shakespeare. James Joyce. Yes, some of these authors are over-rated (James Joyce for sure). Yes, some of these authors are boring (James Joyce for sure). Sorry, that's just how it was back then. Asking for staff resignations because you find history triggering is completely stupid.
Also, if you're going to make college demands, maybe demand that you should be allowed to opt out of courses which have nothing to do with your major. As an English major, I was unclear as to why I needed to take Geology. Or Physics. Even though I enjoyed both, neither had anything to do with studying English. So if you're studying engineering, you shouldn't be taking a Humanities course. See? Much better idea. You're welcome.
Lastly, whiteness doesn't need to be ''decentralized.'' The only thing that needs to be decentralized is college.
What are other issues bored college students with too much time and not enough brain cells should protest? Tweet me at @Courtneyscoffs
MY BROTHERS KEEPER-MPS Spending $471,073 on 'Black Lives Matter' | Common Sense Central | News/Talk 1130 WISN
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:26
Posted May 12th, 2016
Updated with MPS response
Milwaukee Public Schools has included nearly a half million dollars for "Black Lives Matter" in its list of expenditures included the 2017 budget proposal it published in Wednesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Interestingly enough, the district plans to spend nearly as much on "Black Lives Matter" as it plans to spend on College Access Centers, Universal Driver Education, and Advanced Studies of World Languages.
"We're doing this work because national and local studies tell us young men of color in Wisconsin and Milwaukee are more likely to be represented disproportionally in the justice system and less likely to be represented proportionally in colleges and universities," said MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia.
On page 53 of the District's comprehensive budget, MPS explains that it is partnering with the Black Lives Matter organization "to develop a cultural studies curriculum and provide staff training on restorative practices to improve student attendance, academics, graduation rates and school culture through facilitation of meaningful dialogue and support on issues surrounding race and trauma faced in communities and schools."
So where specifically is that money going? According to the budget:
$471,073 is budgeted to support the ''My Brother's Keeper'' initiative by collaborating with branches of government, local businesses and community organizations to increase the number of males of color who are succeeding academically and socially. Efforts include ensuring that culturally responsive teaching practices are in place at all schools, enhancing the district vision for student participation in a wide range of after-school activities and supporting trauma-informed care.
"The specific expenditures, which are also outlined in the budget proposal, are for three social studies teachers ($260,889 for salary and benefits for all three) and staff development (training) for other employees ($210,184)," Tagliavia said. "That brings the total to the $471,073 you mentioned."
This raises several interesting questions about just how this money is being spent.
Since MPS's budget lists Black Lives Matter as a partner organization, will Black Lives Matter have input in this "staff development?" Or will it have a role in hiring or staffing the three new social studies teachers? Moreover, will Black Lives Matter have a role in shaping the curriculum that these teachers use?
Tagliavia insisted that "no funding is going to a Black Lives Matter Organization," saying that "the name speaks to some of the issues raised by the movement, specifically racial disparities in education."
Furthermore, MPS says that it is not partnering with any official "Black Lives Matter" group...only a group of people who espouse the values of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
Okay then.
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Shut Up Slave!
Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:03
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) is the U.S. government's central database on known or suspected international terrorists, and contains highly[clarify] classified information provided by members of the Intelligence Community such as CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA, and many others.
There are over one million names in TIDE.[1] In 2008, more than 27,000 names were removed from the list when it was determined they no longer met the criteria for inclusion. According to the FBI, international terrorists include those persons who carry out terrorist activities under foreign direction. For this purpose, they may include U.S. persons (U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents).[2] The Terrorist Identities Group (TIG), located in NCTC's Information Sharing & Knowledge Development Directorate (ISKD), is responsible for building and maintaining TIDE.[3]
From the classified TIDE database, an unclassified, but sensitive, extract is provided to the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, which compiles the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).
This database, in turn, is used to compile various watch lists such as the TSA's No Fly List, State Department's Consular Lookout and Support System, Homeland Security's Interagency Border Inspection System, and FBI's NCIC (National Crime Information Center) for state and local law enforcement.
See also[edit]References[edit]External links[edit]
TSA-Peter V. Neffenger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:16
Peter V. Neffenger (born 1955) is the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. He recently retired as a Vice Admiral in the United States Coast Guard, serving as Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard since May 20, 2014. He previously has served as Deputy Commandant for Operations, Deputy National Incident Commander for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Director of Coast Guard Strategic Management and Doctrine, Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles - Long Beach, Captain of the Port and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, Budget Officer of the Coast Guard, and Coast Guard Liaison Officer to the Territory of American Samoa.[1] On April 28, 2015, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.[2][3]
He was commissioned in 1982 through the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School and also holds an MPA from Harvard University, an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College, and an MA in Business Management from Central Michigan University. He earned his BA from Baldwin Wallace University. Vice Admiral Neffenger is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and a former fellow on the Senate Appropriations Committee.[1] He resides in Washington, D.C.
On June 23, 2015, Vice Admiral Neffenger was confirmed by the Senate to be the next Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement on June 24th: "Last night the Senate voted 81-1 to confirm Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger, the current Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, to be the next Administrator of TSA. Admiral Neffenger understands the challenges we face, and I know he is ready to take them on at TSA. During his 30-year career in the Coast Guard, Admiral Neffenger proved himself to be an effective operator and commander. I have utmost faith in Pete Neffenger, and I am confident he will be a strong leader of TSA."
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "http://www.defense.gov/bios/biographydetail.aspx?biographyid=432".
PersondataNameNeffenger, Peter V.Alternative namesShort descriptionVice admiral in the United States Coast GuardDate of birth1955Place of birthSalem, Ohio, U.S.Date of deathPlace of death
Food stamps will soon require 20 hours of work or classes in NC | News & Observer
Fri, 13 May 2016 15:58
Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they're working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week.
That federal requirement '' which applies to adults under 50 who don't have children '' was suspended in 2008 as the recession hit and unemployment rates rose. But the exemption ended Jan. 1 for 23 mostly urban counties across the state, including Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg.
While the 77 other counties are seeing a slower economic recovery and could continue the federal exemption, the state legislature acted last year to restore the work and education requirement statewide starting July 1.
The change affects 115,000 North Carolinians who will have to document work, volunteer or education activities or lose their food stamp benefits. Recipients can still get up to three months of benefits without meeting the requirement.
County social services departments are scrambling to make sure recipients know about the requirements and have opportunities to meet them, and some are creating their own volunteer programs.
''It's a little complicated, and they're going to need someone to help them understand and navigate it,'' said Regina Petteway, director of Wake County Human Services. ''We're trying to ramp up our volunteer activity so that if people can't find employment, they can volunteer with the county.''
Mecklenburg County is piloting an employment and training program with community agencies to help put food stamp recipients ''in a better position to seek employment,'' said Men Tchaas Ari of the county's Department of Social Services.
State legislators took action in September to apply the requirements to all counties starting in July.
Sen. Norman Sanderson, a Republican from Pamlico County, said the change would push unemployed people on food stamps to look for work. ''I think you're going to see a lot of them go and get that 20-hour-a-week job, or they're going to enroll in some sort of higher education to improve their job skills,'' he said before the September vote.
The legislature also voted separately to increase requirements for unemployment benefits. As of Jan. 3, unemployed people filing new claims must make five ''contacts'' with prospective employers or they won't receive an unemployment check. The job inquiries can be made online or in person.
''Short of telling them, 'You can sleep all week,' how much more reasonable can it get?'' said Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican, in August when that bill passed the House.
With the new unemployment and food stamp requirements hitting at the same time, opponents of the changes say they will harm the state's poorest residents.
''It's part and parcel of a ripping away of the safety net,'' said Rick Glazier, a former state legislator who now leads the N.C. Justice Center, a liberal advocacy group. ''The legislature is going to have to revisit these decisions.''
While state leaders can't change the requirements for the 23 counties that no longer qualify for a federal exemption, Glazier said it's irresponsible to apply the same standards to the 77 counties that aren't recovering as well.
''There's no data that those 77 counties' economic conditions are likely to change,'' he said.
Alexandra Sirota, director of the Justice Center's Budget and Tax Center, said some people will struggle to meet the requirements because they don't have transportation or might not have volunteer opportunities available in their communities.
Nonprofits, she said, ''very rarely get a 20-hour-a-week slot for anybody.'' And workforce training programs fill quickly.
''If they're in a rural place, it's hard for them to drive to the community college,'' she said.
People who lose food stamp benefits probably will turn to food banks, which expect more demand for emergency food supplies because of the change.
Jennifer Caslin, a spokeswoman for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, said the nonprofit already serves food stamp recipients who need additional help.
''Our system has been stretched for a while, and this is going to stretch it even more,'' she said.
Social services agencies said they've shuffled staff to verify that food stamp recipients are meeting the new requirements.
Nancy Coston, director of Orange County Social Services, said her staff has to speak with 700 people who are affected there.
They have to determine ''who's working, who's in school, and we can't tell that without interviewing them all,'' she said. ''Many of them probably are not aware of this because the waiver has been in effect for a while.''
The July 1 change for 77 counties was tucked into an unrelated immigration bill that passed the legislature in September. The changes for food stamp recipients were overshadowed by the outcry from immigration groups concerned about a ban on ''sanctuary cities,'' where local governments choose not to enforce federal immigration laws.
Glazier said sponsors of the bill probably knew the immigration provisions would distract attention from the food stamp changes.
''Those who ran it very much calculated where it was being put,'' he said. ''This is going to have even broader implications than the immigration provisions.''
Charlotte Observer staff writer Jonathan McFadden contributed to this report
Food stamp requirements resume
As the recession hit in 2008, the federal government dropped work requirements for food stamp recipients ages 18-50 who aren't disabled and don't have kids. While multiple factors are used to calculate benefits, they're typically available to single people making less than $15,000 per year.
The requirements will be restored starting this month in 23 mostly urban counties, and will resume throughout the state on July 1. Recipients must do one of the following to receive food stamps for more than three months:
'–ª Work at least 20 hours a week.
'–ª Attend education or workforce training programs for at least 20 hours a week.
'–ª Do volunteer community service for at least 20 hours a week.
Philly Police Admit They Disguised a Spy Truck as a Google Streetview Car | Motherboard
Sat, 14 May 2016 13:29
The vehicle in question. Image: Dustin Slaughter
The Philadelphia Police Department admitted today that a mysterious unmarked license plate surveillance truck disguised as a Google Maps vehicle, which Motherboard first reported on this morning, is its own.
In an emailed statement, a department spokesperson confirmed:
''We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department; however, the placing of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately.''
The spokesperson also claimed that an inquiry is forthcoming.
When reached for comment yesterday, Google confirmed it is investigating the unauthorized use of its Google Maps logo. The spokeswoman we reached suggested that the company might have more to say at a later time.
Brandon Worf, who for three years worked at Busch and Associates, a sales group that specializes in public safety technology, described the ALPR gear installed on the vehicle as ''scary efficient'' after reviewing yesterday's photos.
Worf says that this particular model, called the ELSAG MPH-900, ''is based on the use of infrared cameras to find plate numbers and letters via temperature differentials between those characters and the surrounding background through optical character recognition.''
The cameras are able to read and process ''several plates simultaneously'' and ''in a fraction of a second.''
All plates swept up in such a dragnet fashion ''are logged with the time/date of the read, GPS latitude/longitude coordinates of where the read occurred, and a photo of the plate and surrounding vehicle,'' he added.
ALPR has a broad range of applications, including drug interdiction, collection of unpaid taxes and fees, AMBER alert missions, and recovering stolen cars. The question remains: why disguise the technology'--and so poorly?
''For one, I would think it's highly illegal to have Google's markings on there, but that's another issue entirely,'' Worf said. ''But it boils down to the fact that most people at first glance wouldn't recognize an ALPR system if they saw it, and for those that do, they likely wouldn't know what Google would be doing with one.
''Frankly, what I don't get is why they felt a need to hide something like this. It certainly makes one question the motive for doing so," he added.
''It's certainly concerning if the city of Philadelphia is running mass surveillance and going out of its way to mislead people,'' said Dave Maass, a former journalist and researcher at the nonprofit advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Maass speculated that the disguised unit may have been part of a "targeted" investigation. But he was quick to point out that there really is no such thing when it comes to police using ALPR.
As for the department's unauthorized use of Google's logo?
''If I were Google, I would be seriously rankled over the use of their logo to hide surveillance," he said.
Feds will now check your social media history before granting security clearance
Sat, 14 May 2016 20:40
A new policy grants federal agencies access to a person's social media history when conducting background checks as part of the security clearance process. The wide-ranging set of rules are set to be implemented soon.More
The federal government has confirmed that it will start targeting social media posts by prospective employees as part of its review process for security clearance.
The new policy, which will allow investigators to scan an applicant's history on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other similar sites, will be adopted soon, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
The guidelines make clear that agencies can target publicly available social media posts, if they deem it necessary, but cannot force individuals to hand over their passwords for private accounts, or provide pseudonyms for any profiles.
Additionally, the policy states that social media information gathered as part of a background check will not be retained unless it is considered ''relevant'' to the security status of the person in question.
Related:U.S. intelligence director says spies could use smart devices to spy on you
In certain cases, the ODNI'S new rules would also permit agencies to pursue an applicant's associates or friends, if mentioned in a suspicious social media post that suggests a possible national security concern.
''Social media has become an integral '-- and very public '-- part of the fabric of most Americans' daily lives,'' said Bill Evanina, director of ODNI's National Counterintelligence and Security Center. ''We cannot afford to ignore this important open source in our effort to safeguard our secrets '-- and our nation's security.''
Officials believe that adding social media to the security review process could offer important information when deciding whether an individual can be trusted with secret information. The procedure often involves agencies attempting to determine the factors in a person's background that could make them a target of blackmail.
Little to no detail has been given regarding the types of social media posts that could be flagged during the procedure. However, Evanina has suggested that social media threats made against the president, for example, would definitely be retained by investigators, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The debate over the use of social media in background checks by the federal government has been raging for several years, with Congress pushing the case in favor of the new policy. The budget deal passed in December 2015 required the ODNI to allow military and intelligence agencies to strengthen their security reviews, and specifically cited the need to evaluate social media posts.
Although lawmakers from both parties agree on the new policy, privacy advocates claim they will be watching closely to see if the government targets information they consider to be constitutionally protected as free speech. No specific date has been issued for the policy's implementation, but the ODNI promises it will be taken up shortly.
CYBER!
Hackers' $81 Million Sneak Attack on World Banking - NYTimes.com
Sat, 14 May 2016 19:56
Tens of millions of dollars siphoned from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A shadowy set of casinos in the Philippines. A large bank in Bangladesh with creaky technology. An unknown '-- and perhaps uncatchable '-- group of anonymous thieves with sophisticated hacking skills.
What unites this curious cast of characters and enabled one of the most brazendigital bank heists ever is a ubiquitous and highly trusted international bank messaging system called Swift.
Swift '-- the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication '-- is billed as a supersecure system that banks use to authorize payments from one account to another. ''The Rolls-Royce of payments networks,'' one financial analyst said.
But last week, for the first time since hackers captured $81 million from Bangladesh's central bank in February, Swift acknowledged that the thieves have tried to carry out similar heists at other banks on its network by sneaking into the beating heart of the global banking system.
''There are many banks out there right now saying, 'There but for the grace of God go us,''' said Gareth Lodge, a payments analyst at Celent, a financial consulting firm.
The admission that the attack was not a one-time event in a developing country but perhaps part of a broader threat has thrust Swift into a spotlight, raising questions about how securely money is being moved around the world. Some financial security experts point out the Swift system is only as safe as its weakest link.
The attack also reflects a growing sophistication among digital criminals, who for years have been breaching personal bank accounts and stealing credit card credentials. The thieves in Bangladesh may have spent months lurking inside the central bank's computers, studying how to steal the necessary credentials to gain access to Swift.
Graphic | Data Breaches in the Financial Industry About half of the data breaches at financial institutions are made via the institutions' web applications, according to Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report. The report shows the top digital threats by industry.
It is the digital version of the heist depicted in the movie ''Ocean's Eleven,'' said Adrian Nish, head of the cyberthreat intelligence team at BAE Systems, a defense and security company.
''The trend is moving from opportunistic crime to Hollywood-scale attacks,'' said Mr. Nish, whose firm has analyzed the malware believed to have been used in the Bangladesh breach.
In the United States, most banks take special precautions with their Swift computers, building multiple firewalls to isolate the system from the bank's other networks and keeping the machines physically isolated in a separate locked room.
But elsewhere, some banks take far fewer precautions. And security experts who have analyzed the Swift breach said they had concluded that the Bangladesh bank may have been particularly vulnerable to an attack.
''Swift is a great organization,'' said Chris Larsen, the founder of Ripple, a financial technology company that aims to speed up global money transmissions. ''But the system is fractured and antiquated. The way it is set up, you cannot totally isolate problems in a place like Bangladesh from the whole network.''
In some ways, Swift is a testament to how technology has helped all countries '-- including poorer ones '-- gain access to the financial system. But that broader access has a downside.
The central bank in Bangladesh, by some accounts, employed fewer protections against cyberattacks than many other large banks. The bank, for example, used $10 routers and no firewalls, according to news reports.
The server software that the Bangladesh bank employed was a Swift product called Alliance Access, which connects banks to the central messaging system. In a sign of how seriously Swift regards the breach of Alliance Access, the group issued a ''mandatory software update'' last week to help its members identify possible irregularities.
''These hackers figured out this was a weak point on the periphery, and they went for it,'' said Jeffrey Kutler, editor in chief at the Global Association of Risk Professionals, a trade group. ''But they were not able to compromise the core.''
Swift's core is built on technology that has been evolving for decades. What began in 1973 as a relatively small network of 240 banks in Europe and North America is now a sprawling network of 11,000 users that includes both banks and large corporations. At first, Swift could be used to authorize payments across national borders. But it is now also used to transmit messages related to domestic payments, securities settlements and other transactions.
Swift's growth in recent years '-- it set a record for messages in March '-- reflects the increasingly global and interconnected nature of finance. But it also shows the risk of so many financial instructions running through a single system made up of a patchwork of banks and companies with varying levels of online protection.
Each bank on the Swift network is identified by a set of codes. And it was the codes assigned to the Bank of Bangladesh that were recognized '-- correctly '-- by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York when it transferred $81 million of the Bangladesh bank's money to the Philippines, not knowing that someone, somewhere, had stolen the credentials of the Bangladesh bank and installed malware to cover his or her tracks.
Initially, the thieves requested the transfer of $951 million into a handful of bank accounts in Sri Lanka and the Philippines '-- a number that prompted the New York Fed to ask the Bangladesh bank to reconfirm that it indeed wanted to move the money.
In the end, the Fed processed only five of the 35 fraudulent payment requests, after it could not reconfirm with officials in Bangladesh.
The hackers seemed to time the attack perfectly: When officials from the Fed tried to reach out to Bangladesh, it was a weekend there and no one was working. By the time central bankers in Bangladesh discovered the fraud, it was the weekend in New York and the Fed offices were closed.
To conceal the crime, the malware disabled a printer in the Bangladesh bank to prevent officials from reviewing a log of the fraudulent transfers.
The money was transferred to accounts in the Philippines and then into the Philippine casino system, which is exempt from many of the country's anti-money-laundering requirements.
The New York Fed has been criticized for letting the $81 million slip out. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat and member of the Financial Services Committee, has called for an investigation, warning that the breach ''threatens to undermine the confidence that foreign central banks have in the Federal Reserve, and in the safety and soundness of international monetary transactions.''
The New York Fed said in a statement that ''there is no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised'' and that the transfer of the money had been ''fully authenticated'' by Swift.
Swift, which prides itself on its secrecy and low public profile, also put out a statement about the attacks. But its executives declined to speak on the record about the episodes, which are still under investigation. The group's chairman, Yawar Shah, who is a senior executive at Citigroup, also declined to comment.
In its statement, Swift emphasized that the hackers had been able to breach only some of the banks that communicate over Swift, not the network itself.
''The commonality in what we have seen is that (internal or external) attackers have successfully compromised banks' own environments,'' Swift said.
Even if officials at the Bangladesh bank had employed the highest of security measures, the thieves displayed a level of skill, cunning and determination that may have been able to penetrate a far more secure system.
''If you have an attacker who really wants to get in and knows there is a big prize,'' Mr. Nish said, ''keeping them out over the long term is really difficult.''
Ottomania
Erdogan Dreaming to 'Revive New Ottoman Caliphate''... in Europe / Sputnik International
Sat, 14 May 2016 19:02
All German Chancellor Angela Merkel got for enlisting Turkish President Erdogan's help in coping with the European refugee crisis is a dramatic drop in poll numbers, renowned international expert, author and journalist Deena Stryker writes in her article for New Eastern Outlook entitled "Was a United Europe a Mirage?".
"That glazed look that regularly comes upon the face of Recip Tayep Erdogan should have warned her that he has a severe case of Ottomanossis," Stryker remarks.
(C) REUTERS/ Fabrizio Bensch
She notes that Erdogan had not hesitated to remove Ahmet Davutoglu, a capable foreign minister who advocated a pragmatic well-balanced policy toward the European refugee issue. Furthermore, having sacked Davutoglu the Turkish president claimed that he is not ready to meet all the EU's demands, covering in particular a loosening of Ankara's controversial anti-terror law, in exchange for implementing visa-free travel for the Turks.
"Make no mistake, Erdogan will not blink if the West resorts to pressure tactics. He will never agree to certain key 'preconditions' of the EU deal that Davutoglu negotiated whereby Turkey is required to change its anti-terror legislation in line with the European acquis and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights," Ambassador M. K. Bhadrakumar wrote in his article for the Indian Punchline blog, commenting on the matter.
Indeed, over the past several months Erdogan has expressed disdain to all European norms and values.
"During the past several months, he [Erdogan] has defied Western norms of behavior toward journalists, killing and jailing them right and left, accusing them of supporting Turkey's Kurdish minority," Stryker points out.
Turkish Presidential Press Office
"History is a powerful motivator, and when the Turkish President, who until recently had been begging to be admitted into the European Union, flouts its basic rules of behavior, it's clear that he sees himself completing the Ottoman domination of Europe," she stresses.Journalist and geopolitical analyst Martin Berger echoes Stryker, asking whether there is "any backbone left in the EU" in the face of Erdogan's sheer blackmail in his analysis for New Eastern Outlook.
He cites President of the European Council Donald Tusk who published an opinion article in late April 2016 urging the EU nations to adopt new migration policies.
"No one else is going to protect our borders for us. We cannot hand over the keys to our territory, to our security, to any third country. This applies to Turkey as well as to north African countries. Our helplessness would tempt others to blackmail Europe," Tusk stressed in his Op-Ed published in seven European newspapers including the Guardian.
"Too often I have heard from our neighbors that Europe should give in, otherwise it will be flooded by migrants," the President of the European Council remarked in obvious reference to repeated threats voiced by Ankara.
"Recent experience with Turkey shows that Europe must set clear limits to its concessions. We can negotiate money but never our values. We cannot impose our standards on the rest of the world. Equally, others cannot impose their standards on us. Our freedoms, including freedom of expression, will not be part of political bargaining with any partner. The Turkish president must heed this message," Tusk emphasized.Stryker notes that while the world is busy with countering the Daesh threat, Ankara is quietly realizing its own geostrategic goals in Europe. The EU should avoid falling into the neo-Ottoman threat.
"Europe is experiencing a combination soft/hard takeover: by the refugees on one hand, and a neighboring ruler [Erdogan] nurtured by the US, but no longer ready to play the role of subordinate either to Europe or NATO. While ISIS [Daesh] '-- even with not so covert Turkish help '-- can eventually be brought to heel, Erdogan's plan is already partly realized, thanks to Europeans themselves," the renowned journalist underscores.
Elite$
Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis | US news | The Guardian
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:45
The congressman is facing questions about whether he profited from information gleaned from the meeting in September 2008. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.
The congressman on Monday denied profiting from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector. His office said he had no control over the trades.
Related:Paul Ryan offers to step down as GOP convention chair if Donald Trump asks
Public records show that on the same day as the meeting, Ryan sold stock in troubled banks including Wachovia and Citigroup and bought shares in Goldman Sachs, Paulson's old employer and a bank that had been disclosed to be stronger than many of its rivals. The sale was not illegal at the time.
Not long after the meeting, Wachovia's already troubled share price went into free fall. It plunged 39% on the afternoon of 26 September alone as investors worried the bank would collapse. It was eventually taken over by Wells Fargo for $15bn, a fraction of its former value.
Citigroup's share price fell soon after the meeting. In October 2008 Citigroup was among the largest beneficiary of the troubled asset relief program (Tarp), the taxpayer-funded bailout of the banking sector.
Ryan was a supporter of the Tarp bailout '' a position that has put him at odds with the right wing of his party despite his otherwise conservative credentials. Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo are now among his largest financial supporters, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The trades were highlighted at the weekend by the Richmonder, a left-leaning political blog in Virginia.
After the story was picked up by the media on Monday, the Romney campaign moved to deny it. Talking Points Memo quoted Larry Gaffney, an independent accountant for the partnership that handled the trades questioned by commentators, said the shares were not controlled by Ryan.
''Trades are done automatically based on an algorithm on a regular basis,'' said Gaffney, in a statement to TPM that was provided by the Romney campaign. ''In addition, this index was held at the time within a partnership in which Rep. Ryan had and continues to have no trading authority.''
Until this year members of Congress were allowed to trade on price-sensitive information gathered at Washington meetings. Nor is Ryan alone in having done so. CBS's 60 Minutes criticised Democrat Nancy Pelosi for buying into Visa's initial public offering as the House discussed credit card legislation.
After the CBS documentary, pressure mounted for change. In April, Barack Obama signed legislation that bars members of Congress and other federal workers from profiting from non-public information learned on the job. As well as banning insider trading the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act requires members of Congress to post details of transactions exceeding $1,000.
In April the Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Spencer Bachus, Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, of allegations of insider dealing. Critics had charged he had taken advantage of insider information to trade shares on numerous occasions.
Bachus was present at the meeting that Ryan attended with Bernanke and Paulson. The next day he traded ''short'' options, betting on a decline in share prices in the financial services sector.
Attendees at the meeting have said Bernanke and Paulson's warnings were met with stunned silence. ''When you listened to him describe it you gulped,'' Senator Charles Schumer told the New York Times.
' This article was updated at 9.30pm ET on 13 August to reflect a denial of impropriety by on the part of Ryan.
Brazil
Another US-Sponsored Coup? Brazil's New President Was An Embassy Informant For US Intelligence | Zero Hedge
Sat, 14 May 2016 16:39
When we explained yesterday the next steps in the Dilma Rousseff impeachment process, we predicted that "Brazil's problems are only just starting" for several reasons, chief among them being that the man who is now Brazil's next active president, Michel Temer, is almost as unpopular as the president he is replacing, and is stained by scandals of his own.
As AP noted, "Michel Temer, who hasn't won an election on his own in a decade, is famed as a backstage wheeler-dealer, and his critics say he's leading the plot to replace his boss, embattled President Dilma Rousseff." And with Temer now the acting president, the AP frames the big question as follows: can he avoid ouster himself.
Among his documented transgressions, he signed off on some of the allegedly illegal budget measures that led to the impeachment drive against Rousseff and has been implicated, though never charged, in several corruption investigations.
Best was AP's snide addition that "the son of Lebanese immigrants, Temer is one of the country's least popular politicians but has managed to climb his way to the top, in large part by building close relationships with fellow politicians as leader of the large but fractured Brazilian Democratic Movement Party."
However, as much as we would like to believe that Temer is simply the real world version of Frank Underwood, there is a much simpler explanation for the 75-year-old's dramatic ascent to the peak of Brazil's power elite.
As it turns out, the Temer presidency may be nothing more than the latest manifestation of the US state department's implementation of yet another puppet government. We know this because earlier today, Wikileaks released evidence via a declassified cable that Brazil's new interim president was an embassy informant for US intelligence and military.
According to the whistleblowing website, Temer communicated with the US embassy in Brazil and such content would be classified as "sensitive" and "for official use only" (link).
Wikileaks brought attention to two cables, one dated January 11, 2006, the other June 21, 2006. One shows a document sent from Sao Paolo, Brazil, to - among other recipients - the US Southern Command in Miami. In it, Temer discusses the political situation in Brazil during the presidency of Luiz Incio Lula da Silva.
Regarding the 2006 elections, when Lula was re-elected, Temer shared scenarios in which his party (PMDB) would win the elections. He declined to predict the race, however, but said there would be a run-off and that "anything could happen."
Temer said the PMDB would elect between 10 and 15 governors that year, and that the party would have the most representatives in the Senate and thus the House of Representatives. This would mean that the elected president would have to report to PMDB rule. "Whoever wins the presidential election will have to come to us to do anything," Temer reportedly said.
As a reminder, the last time the US instituted a puppet government, was in 2014 when in yet another "bloodless coup", the president of Ukraine was overthrown and replaced with a billionaire oligarch, a scenario comparable to the one in Brazil.
We don't have to remind readers that as a result of the Ukraine coup, relations between the US and Russia are multi-decade lows, the cold war is back and - as of yesterday, so is the nuclear arms race. We are curious what the consequence of yet another US state coup will be, this time in Latin America's largest country.
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Venezuela
Venezuela under emergency decree amid economic crisis and claims of US sabotage - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:20
"I love you Maduro" A divided Venezuela in political chaos.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a sweeping crackdown under a new emergency decree, ordering the seizure of paralysed factories, the arrest of their owners and military exercises to counter alleged foreign threats.
The embattled leader is struggling to contain a raging economic crisis that has led to food shortages, soaring prices, riots, looting and vigilante justice, pushing Venezuela to the brink of collapse.
He accused the United States of destabilizing the country at the behest of the "fascist Venezuelan right", prompting him to declare a state of emergency.
Washington has had a rocky relationship with Caracas since Mr Maduro's late predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, came to power in 1999.
Addressing his supporters at a rally in central Caracas on Saturday, Mr Maduro announced some of the actions to be taken under the decree, which has not yet been published.
"We must take all measures to recover productive capacity, which is being paralysed by the bourgeoisie," he told the cheering, red-clad crowd.
He suggested those who wanted to halt production "to sabotage the country" should leave or face imprisonment.
The move came after the largest food and beverage company in Venezuela, the Polar Group, halted production of beer on April 30, saying government mismanagement meant it was no longer able to import barley.
The company's owner, billionaire businessman Lorenzo Mendoza, is a vocal opponent of Mr Maduro, and the president has accused him of conspiring against his government.
Opposition warns of 'ticking time bomb'Opposition leaders accused Mr Maduro of using the emergency decree to destabilize the country and block them from organising a referendum on removing him from office.
Photo A Government supporter holds a modified portrait of the Opposition Leader.AFP: Juan BarretoThe Opposition said it had collected 1.8 million signatures in favour of a recall vote, but authorities were stalling.
At a rival rally on the east side of the capital, Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles warned the President was pursuing a dangerous strategy.
"Venezuela is a bomb that could explode any minute," he told some 1,000 protesters decked out in the red, yellow and blue of the Venezuelan flag.
"If you block the democratic path, we don't know what could happen."
Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves, but is mired in a crippling recession exacerbated by an electricity crisis that has forced the Government to decree daily power cuts across most of the country, close schools on Fridays and reduce the workweek to two days for Government employees.AFP
Posted Sun 15 May 2016, 10:54 AM AESTRelated
NA-Tech News
FACEBOOK LIES? Leaked Docs Reveal Employees Manipulate 'Facebook Trending'... >> Louder With Crowder
Sat, 14 May 2016 20:45
Steven CrowderSaturday May 14 2016
Wow, so much has happened with Facebook this week. Here's a quick refresher:
It was recently alleged that conservative sites are being selectively targeted for editing on Facebook Trending, their news trending site (on the right side of your desktop while you're viewing your timeline).Even in the face of a growing pool of proof against them, Facebook insists that they have special algorithms to decide what trends and what doesn't.Mark Zuckerberg himself came out in defense of Facebook's practices.But word on the street is ''algorithms'' really means some dudes in the back who curate their favorite news (hint: it doesn't include Conservative thought). Yep, Facebook is sticking to a narrative that claims there's nothing fishy going on with how news trends on their website.NOW this NEW information potentially PROVES that Facebook has been misleading (or simply incorrect) about those alleged algorithms:Leaked documents show how Facebook relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be. [It] shows that the company relies heavily on a small editorial team to determine what makes its ''trending module'' headlines.
The guidelines show human intervention '' and therefore editorial decisions '' at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people.
Hmmm'... Contrast that with Facebook's Tom Stocky, the man responsible for ''Trending Topics'' who made this statement earlier this week:
Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum. There are rigorous guidelines in place for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality. These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another. These guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in Trending Topics.
Oh really? Check this out:
Again, read the rest of the ''Guidelines'' here. I guess now is about the time that we point out Tom is a major donor to Hillary Clinton. Also, that the current financial issue over which I've filed a legal motion has still received zero response.
This has only confirmed a longtime suspicion arising behind the scenes stemming from a financial matter with Facebook. Plus Mark Zuckerberg is obsessed with silencing dissenting viewpoints, as revealed when he said as much to Angela Merkel. Read more about how Facebook allegedly blacklisted me here.
But this isn't just about Facebook blacklisting certain stories or websites. It goes way beyond that. I recently filed a legal motion against Facebook that you can view in full here. LwC's lawyer explains it in detail about it below.
This is a request for information. For a while here, you [Steven Crowder] tried to reach out individually before I got involved. Then we were getting rebuffed time and time again. So you decided to see if we could open up a line of communication about the problem that we're facing; on this billing issue, this mishandling of payments [to Facebook]. Even after sending emails and request, even after being told ''make sure to contact the legal department,'' it's kind of embarrassing, but we're still not getting any answers. Even to this day.
When we were looking at this as a billing issue we thought ''well, they're a big company, maybe it's just a clerical error. Why would Facebook want to go after a particular account like this?'' Then when you listen to all the reasons that have come out recently this week, revealing more facts, it does lend you think this is the answer to why to the billing issues were happening.
As you can see, Facebook hates me (ALLEGEDLY). Despite multiple friendly inquiries behind the scenes (and checks), we've still gotten the cold shoulder. But don't worry, it's not just us. Facebook has come under a slew of questions from tons of platforms recently. They still haven't given any answers. Real answers, that is. As in not lies.
You're going to want to stay tuned as this all plays out. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter in case Facebook craps out on us.
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Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithms, documents show | Technology | The Guardian
Sat, 14 May 2016 20:46
According to Facebook's guidelines, a team of news editors are instructed on how to 'inject' stories into the trending topics module. Photograph: Adam Berry/Getty Images
Leaked documents show how Facebook, now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day.
The documents, given to the Guardian, come amid growing concerns over how Facebook decides what is news for its users. This week the company was accused of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, prompting calls for a congressional inquiry from the US Senate commerce committee chair, John Thune.
The boilerplate about its news operations provided to customers by the company suggests that much of its news gathering is determined by machines: ''The topics you see are based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, Pages you've liked and your location,'' says a page devoted to the question ''How does Facebook determine what topics are trending?''
Related:The inside story of Facebook's biggest setback | Rahul Bhatia
But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its ''trending module'' headlines '' the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook's desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users' feeds.
The guidelines show human intervention '' and therefore editorial decisions '' at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people:
A team of news editors working in shifts around the clock was instructed on how to ''inject'' stories into the trending topics module, and how to ''blacklist'' topics for removal for up to a day over reasons including ''doesn't represent a real-world event'', left to the discretion of the editors.The company wrote that ''the editorial team CAN [sic] inject a newsworthy topic'' as well if users create something that attracts a lot of attention, for example #BlackLivesMatter.Facebook relies heavily on just 10 news sources to determine whether a trending news story has editorial authority. ''You should mark a topic as 'National Story' importance if it is among the 1-3 top stories of the day,'' reads the trending review guidelines for the US. ''We measure this by checking if it is leading at least 5 of the following 10 news websites: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo News or Yahoo.''Strict guidelines are enforced around Facebook's ''involved in this story'' feature, which pulls information from Facebook pages of newsmakers '' say, a sports star or a famous author. The guidelines give editors ways to determine which users' pages are appropriate to cite, and how prominently.facebook trending news guidelinesThe company's guidelines are very similar to a traditional news organization's, with a style guide reminiscent of the Associated Press guide, a list of trusted sources and instructions for determining newsworthiness. (The Guardian also obtained the guidelines for moderating the ''in the story'' feature, now called ''involved in this story''; the guidelines for the company's Facebook Paper app; and a broader editorial guide for the app.)
The guidelines are sure to bolster arguments that Facebook has made discriminatory editorial decisions against rightwing media. Conservatives would label the majority of Facebook's primary sources as liberal.
They also appear to undermine claims this week from Facebook's vice-president of search, Tom Stocky, who posted a statement addressing the controversy on 9 May. ''We do not insert stories artificially into trending topics, and do not instruct our reviewers to do so,'' he wrote.
Stocky's statement may depend on the definition of the word ''artificially''. In interviews with the Guardian, three former editors said they had indeed inserted stories that were not visible to users into the trending feed in order to make the experience more topical. All denied personal bias, but all said the human element was vital.
A second list, of 1,000 trusted sources, was provided to the Guardian by Facebook. It includes prominent conservative news outlets such as Redstate, Breitbart, the Drudge Report and the Daily Caller.
Former employees who worked in Facebook's news organization said that they did not agree with the Gizmodo report on Monday alleging partisan misconduct on the part of the social network. They did admit the presence of human judgment in part because the company's algorithm did not always create the best possible mix of news.
Specifically, complaints about the absence from trending feeds of news reports about clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson in 2014 were evidence to Facebook that '' in the specific case of the trending module '' humans had better news judgment than the company's algorithm. Multiple news stories criticized Facebook for apparently prioritizing Ice Bucket Challenge videos over the riots. Many said the incident proved that Twitter was the place for hard news, and Facebook was a destination for fluff.
''The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum,'' said Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice-president of global operations. ''Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to systematically discriminate against sources of any political origin, period. What these guidelines show is that we've approached this responsibly and with the goal of creating a high-quality product '' in the hopes of delivering a meaningful experience for the people who use our service.
''Trending Topics uses a variety of mechanisms to help surface events and topics that are happening in the real world. In our guidelines, we rely on more than a thousand sources of news '' from around the world, and of all sizes and viewpoints '' to help verify and characterize world events and what people are talking about. The intent of verifying against news outlets is to surface topics that are meaningful to people and newsworthy. We have at no time sought to weight any one viewpoint over another, and in fact our guidelines are designed with the intent to make sure we do not do so.''
Facebook, Facing Bias Claims, Shows How Editors and Algorithms Guide News - NYTimes.com
Sun, 15 May 2016 11:24
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Facebook, the largest social media network, published internal editorial guidelines on Thursday, the company's latest attempt to rebut accusations that it is politically biased in the news content it shows on the pages of its 1.6 billion users.
The 28-page document details how both editors and computer algorithms play roles in the process of picking what should appear in the ''Trending Topics'' section of users' Facebook pages.
Facebook describes a list of processes it uses to display some of the most popular content across the network, including relying on algorithms to detect up-and-coming news trends as well as a team of editors who, much like a newsroom, direct how those topics are presented and decide what should be displayed to people who regularly use the service.
As the guidelines make clear, at practically every point in the process, a human editor is given the leeway to exercise his or her editorial influence.
The document was released just days after a report on the tech news site Gizmodo said Facebook editors had intentionally ''suppressed'' news topics from conservative publications trending across the network. The report also said editors were able to artificially inflate the importance of other topics by ''injecting'' them into the Trending section of users' Facebook pages.
Since those claims surfaced, Facebook has been questioned by news sites across the political spectrum and by legislators in Washington. On Thursday, critics urged the company to consider the biases of its editors.
''As long as Facebook is hiring editors who lean left politically, those stories are going to get preferential treatment,'' Erick Erickson, former editor in chief of the conservative website RedState and founder of another conservative site called The Resurgent, said in an email. ''I'd hope that Facebook would take care to consider all views and all news.''
The company has continued to deny accusations of political bias and pointed to editorial rules that discourage Trending Topics staff members from taking one viewpoint or another.
''The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum,'' Justin Osofsky, vice president for global operations at Facebook, said in a company blog post on Thursday. ''Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period.''
The Guardian first reported on Facebook's editorial guidelines.
As Facebook has noted several times this week, algorithms drive much of the decision-making for its Trending Topics, according to the documents. And the company said it has not found evidence that any editor intentionally manipulated the section to suppress conservative content.
But the guidelines, which have never before been made public, give insight into how editors guide and discover news items being shared widely across the social network, and how those editors decide what to promote inside the Trending Topics section.
While algorithms determine the exact mix of topics displayed to each person, based on that user's past actions on Facebook, a team of people is largely responsible for the overall mix of which topics should '-- and more important, should not '-- be shown in Trending Topics.
For instance, after algorithms detect early signs of popular stories on the network, editors are asked to cross-reference potential trending topics with a list of 10 major news publications, including CNN, Fox News, The Guardian and The New York Times.
Editors are also entrusted to spot potentially large news stories bubbling up outside Facebook by using an algorithm that trawls more than a thousand automated feeds, up to and including competitors like YouTube and Reddit, along with traditional news sites.
These editors can then introduce those trends into the Topics box, in order to ''connect people to conversations on Facebook about newsworthy events as quickly as possible,'' according to Facebook.
One former Facebook Trending Topics editor, who spoke under condition of anonymity because this person had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the company, said it was up to the editors' discretion to promote newsy topics that were not quite percolating on Facebook.
The guidelines were first created in 2014, according to a Facebook spokeswoman, and have continuously been updated over the last year and a half.
On Tuesday, Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, sent a letter of inquiry to Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, asking the company to further explain its editorial guidelines and to disclose whether there was ''any level of subjectivity associated with'' the Trending Topics section.
Facebook said it planned to address Senator Thune's questions, and that it was ''continuing to investigate whether any violations took place.''
However, experts warn that fearing bias in human editors and trusting the neutrality of algorithms is a faulty premise. Algorithms are, after all, created byhumans and therefore susceptible to the same unconscious biases.
''Imagine going back in time to the 1950s and building a machine-learning algorithm, based on historical data at the time, to decide who would be 'successful' in their jobs,'' said Cathy O'Neil, a data scientist and author of the forthcoming book ''Weapons of Math Destruction,'' a study of how algorithms exacerbate inequality. ''It would be only white men, because the data it had was picking up the sexism and racism of the time, and the data was informing the definition of success.''
Facebook's stance, as it made clear on Thursday, is that the best way to handle these issues is with a mix of both human and machine input.
''Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together,'' Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, said in a post to his Facebook page on Thursday evening. ''For as long as I'm leading this company, this will always be our mission.''
Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from Washington.
LGBBTQQIAAP
From Pretty Plus More
Oh Adam, I thought you knew! Those are not breasts! My friend worked at the LA plastic surgeon's office that routinely had to remove both Bruce Jenner and Kenny Rogers' "breasts" that result when you have lipo on your torso. The fat displaces. Once Jenner stopped that procedure...EUREKA, breasts! He did not get implants. Your keen eye impresses.
`
Dress and Pants symbols need changing
We need a Trans Icon
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies (HBO) - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 15:05
VIDEO-Blunt Brexit warning from International Monetary Fund's Lagarde | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:40
"It's not just a domestic issue ... it's an international issue"
The head of the International Monetary Fund has come out strongly against Britain leaving the European Union.
Christine Lagarde warned there would be no economic positives and the impact would range from ''pretty bad to very, very bad''.
Rejecting accusations that she's taking sides in the referendum debate, Lagarde said the IMF's role is to highlight economic risks: ''It's not just a domestic issue. I knows it is a big domestic issue for many of you, but it's an international issue. I don't think that in the last six months I have visited a country anywhere in the world where I have not been asked what will be the economic consequences of Brexit.''
She was presenting the IMF's annual report on Britain's economy which said the UK risks falling into a spiral of weaker economic growth.
On international trade Lagarde said: ''Negotiations on new arrangements with the European Union and other trading partners could in our view take years, leading to a protracted period of uncertainty, and the longer this uncertainty goes on, the more heavily it will weigh on investment and growth''.
By contrast, the IMF report said UK economic growth is expected to rebound later this year if Britain stays in Europe.
Anti-EU campaigners accused the IMF of bullying and questioned its track record saying ''its forecasts are never right''.
Lagarde spoke one day after the Bank of England said the UK economy would slow sharply, and possibly even enter a brief recession following a Brexit.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has also warned against an 'Out' vote.
However the series of warnings do not appear to have swayed many voters. Opinion polls show Britons believe staying in the EU would be best for the economy but they are evenly split on how they intend to vote.
VIDEO-Russia condemns US missile-defence systems in Europe | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:33
Poland has broken ground at a site designed to hold interceptors for a US missile-defence system in the north of the country, drawing criticism from Russia.
NATO says it forms part of a wider system to protect Europe and the US from threats from the Middle East.
''Europe, and by extension NATO, is facing a range of new and complex security challenges,'' said Robert Work, US Deputy Secretary of Defense. ''Addressing these challenges will require a more capable NATO alliance, one that continues to evolve and adapt, to threats both old and new.''
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin claims the shields being activated and due to be erected in Europe are a new step to an arms race.
''These are not defence systems. It is part of the US nuclear strategic potential brought onto a periphery. And the periphery ,in this case, is Eastern Europe. Until now, the people making such decisions have lived in calm, comfort and security. Now as these elements of ballistic missile defence are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralise emerging threats to the Russian Federation,'' he warned.
On Thursday (May 12), the US activated a multi-million dollar missile shield at a Soviet-era base in Romania. It claims the barrier is a defence mechanism against missiles from Iran and so-called rogue states. However Putin told top military officials its real aim was to weaken Russia's nuclear stockpile.
VIDEO-Venezuela president declares 60-day state of emergency | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:28
Venezuela's president has announced a 60-day state of emergency, blaming the economic woes in his country on US efforts to topple his leftist government.
Earlier this week the government extended a two-day working week to deal with the energy crisis.
The opposition is calling for Nicolas Maduro to step down as the country faces food and medical shortages, frequent power cuts, looting and crippling inflation.
US intelligence officials have warned of a political and economic meltdown in the country and said Maduro was unlikely to finish his term in office.
Over the last week police used tear gas on protesters who marched through Caracas demanding that election officials allow a recall referendum against the president.
VIDEO-Crimean Tatars celebrate Ukraine's Eurovision victory | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:26
The outcome of the Eurovision Song Contest brought delight in Kyiv among Ukrainians '' including Crimean Tatars.
Euronews correspondent in the Ukrainian capital, Dmytro Polonsky, said:
''Ukraine is celebrating, 12 years (since the country's last victory) Eurovision will be coming back to Kyiv. A big party was organised at Musafir, a Crimean Tatar restaurant opened by Crimean Tatars who moved to Kyiv from Crimea a year and a half ago. This victory is symbolic for Ukraine, as one of the favourites was Russia whose singer Sergei Lazarev finished in the top three. Jamala flies back to Kyiv this afternoon (on Sunday), and she'll be holding a huge concert in Kyiv that had been planned before her trip to Stockholm.''
''We would very much like the next Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Crimea. All Crimean Tatars expect it very much, and it would be very good to hold it in Ukrainian Crimea,'' said Anife Huseitova, a local resident and one of those celebrating in the restaurant.
In Stockholm, Ukrainians were also celebrating '' along with plenty of others, including Russians.
Russia took the highest number of TV viewers' votes but needed more from the juries.
But for many lapping up the festive atmosphere in the Swedish capital and around the world, the contest was about more than just 'the winner takes all'.
VIDEO-UK-EU referendum campaign heats up with Hitler comparisons | euronews, world news
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:16
The EU referendum campaign has courted controversy in the UK with Leave campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson comparing the EU's aims to Hitler's while Remain campaigner and premier David Cameron claimed that Britons will be out of pocket if they vote to leave. Both have drawn criticism for fear mongering.
''If we vote to leave on the 23rd of June we will be voting for higher prices; we will be voting for fewer jobs; we will be voting for lower growth; we will be voting potentially for a recession. That is the last thing that our economy needs,'' said Cameron at a rally on Saturday (15 May).
Remain campaigners are pushing the economic argument, which they say the Leave camp are losing. While Boris Johnson said Europe suffered from a massive democratic void.
''I'm telling you that if we vote 'leave' on June the 23rd and take back control of this country, and our democracy and our economy, then we can prosper and thrive and flourish as never before,'' Johnson told supporters.
Adding fuel to the fire Johnson told British paper The Telegraph that various people including Napoleon and Hitler had tried to unite Europe under a single entity but 'it ends tragically' adding that the EU was trying to do the same by different means.
His comments drew sharp criticism with some accusing him of playing political games with the darkest chapter of Europe's history and others saying it smacked of desperation. While Twitter was a buzz with the hashtag EU to Hitler.
Johnson also challenged Cameron to a televised debate '' sparking speculation over his own ambitions to lead the country.
As the campaign enters its last six weeks, the war of words is set to intensify as the latest polls show the British public divided 50-50 on whether to continue its relationship with the EU.
VIDEO_"HOW DOES THE PROCESS OF KILLING SOMEONE WITH A DRONE BEGIN?" - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 14:12
VIDEO-Debbie Wasserman Schultz sputters while defending Clinton over FBI email investigation - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:57
VIDEO_"YOU COULD EASILY SEE IRAQIS SUING THE UNITED STATES FOR GOING TO WAR BASED FAULTY INTELLIGENCE" - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:44
VIDEO-Katrina Pierson compares Trump's Muslim ban to Obama's false 'keep your doctor' promise - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:38
VIDEO-Why Would I Give A Damn What London's New Mayor Thinks About OUR Presidential Election??? - YouTube
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:35
VIDEO-ABC: 'Bombshell' Weiner Doc Comes at 'Worst Time' for Hillary | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:24
[See NewsBusters for more.] In a surprising twist, ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday hyped the ''bombshell'' documentary on Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton's aide, Huma Abedin. Yet, the tone of the Jon Karl segment was worried. The reporter fretted, ''This documentary with extraordinary behind-the-scenes footage dredging it all up again at the worst possible time for Hillary Clinton and her closest aide.'' Karl identified Abedin as ''Clinton's closest aide and constant presence at her side'' and reiterated, ''A new documentary about [Weiner's] sordid political tale couldn't come at a worse time.''
VIDEO-Checkpoint Delays Caused Almost 7,000 American Airlines Passengers to Miss Flights in March | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:17
Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) said Thursday at a House Oversight Committee hearing on misconduct within the Transportation Security Administration that almost 7,000 American Airlines passengers missed their flight in March alone because of delays at TSA checkpoints.
VIDEO-Relieved ABC: At Least Teens Still Admire Obama | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:11
The journalists at Good Morning America on Thursday looked at a Newsweek expose on the differences between teens in 1966 and 2016. Fifty years after the magazine published, ''The Teen-Agers,'' Amy Robach revealed, ''There are distinct differences, says Newsweek between today's teens and teens in 1966. Fifty years ago, teenagers most admired icons were JFK, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Lyndon Johnson and Helen Keller.'' She contrasted, ''Today, only one of those names remains the same, Abraham Lincoln and only one other President, President Obama made the list.'' Apparently, teenagers of today no longer gush over John F. Kennedy. The baby boomer journalists of ABC have done this plenty, fawning over ''American royalty.''
VIDEO-Kerry Jokes That He Wishes Europeans Could Have Voted in US Election in 2004 | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:05
Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to Britain this week largely sidestepped an invitation to comment on the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, but did joke that he knew Europeans wished they could vote in the U.S. election '' and added that he shared that wish, given his own presidential campaign in 2004.
VIDEO-TSA Administrator: 2 of 73 Aviation Employees Found on Govt's Terrorist Database Were Fired; 71 Were 'Scrubbed' From Database | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 13:02
TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Thursday that two of 73 aviation employees with access to secured areas of U.S. airports who were also on the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) system - the government's database of "information on international terrorist identities" - were fired from their jobs, while the other 71 were "scrubbed" from the database on the advice of the FBI.
VIDEO-White House Suggests 'Just Putting Up Curtains' Will Protect Privacy in Transgender Locker Rooms | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 12:46
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday that the administration issued specific suggestions along with its directive for public schools nationwide to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identity (rather than their biological sex) and that one suggestion is "just putting up curtains" in school locker rooms.
VIDEO-Stephanopoulos Claims Hillary 'Turned Over All the E-Mails in Her Possession' | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 12:43
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
While grilling Donald Trump during Friday's Good Morning America on whether he would release his tax returns, co-host George Stephanopoulos laughably held up his former boss Hillary Clinton as a model of transparency: ''...you said you would release your tax returns when Secretary Clinton released her e-mails. She has turned over all the e-mails in her possession.''
Trump countered: ''She didn't turn over all, there's plenty missing. I read yesterday where there are a lot of e-mails missing. Don't '' I know she's a good friends of yours and I know you worked for them and you didn't reveal it. But you know, she did not turn over her e-mails. There are a lot of e-mails missing.''
VIDEO-ABC Touts George Clooney Predicting Trump Won't Become President | MRCTV
Sun, 15 May 2016 12:34
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
On the 12 May 2016 edition of World News Tonight, ABC's David Muir spotlighted George Clooney's prediction about the U.S. presidential election later this year. Clooney contended, "There's not going to be a president Donald Trump. That's not going to happen." Muir hyped "the room full of international journalists applauding the actor" after he made his remark at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
VIDEO-Bill Burr Takes Jab at Hillary. Then Berates The 'Offended' PC Audience. >> Louder With Crowder
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:42
Steven CrowderMonday January 18 2016
Commedian Bill Burr isn't one who has any patience for political correctness, or PC, when he does stand up. And as surprising as it my sound, leftists haven't been fans of it (Comedian @BillBurr Makes Caitlyn Jenner Joke. #SJW Liberals Wildly Offended!).
Apparently they may have missed one of his routines, because this has all the -isms that makes the left break out in hives and makes the rest of us just break out laughing. It starts with Obama's wife'...
So I am sick of Obama's wife. Yeah. This isn't some republican rant either. It's just the first lady in general. You know. I don't know what it is. All throughout of my life, which each presidency, like these first ladies. They got more and more like chatty. You know. More and more chiming in. Like leaning into the frame, spitting out there ideas. It's like why are you talking? Right? You weren't even elected. Shut-up. Your husband is not running a lemonade stand, here. He is running the country. You just don't chime in.
Let me guess. It's considered sexist. It is? Why? OK. Let me ask you this. Let say you have a leak in your house. OK. You call the plumber up. He shows up, and he goes, ''Yeah, the leaks coming from the upstairs bathroom. We got to shut off the valve.'' All of a sudden his wife walks in, who isn't a plumber. And she goes, ''Yeah, I think it actually coming from the outside.'' What you be like, ''With all due respect, shut the f**k up. I need a plumber in this moment.''
Quick! Everyone to your safe spaces! The best part is what comes next. His jab at Hillary, and the audience's ensuing reaction.
''Hillary Clinton might run. She might run. That's blows my mind. I don't even know she became a senator. She went from being the President's wife to becoming a senator. A total lateral move. That's like Tom Brady's wife becoming the next quarterback of the Rams.''
The audience laughs, but the longer he goes on, they fall uncomfortably silent. So Burr takes aim at them.
''I knew it was gonna be like this. You know what's funny there are people out there who actually think a woman president is a good idea'...
'... What do you guys, all donate to the campaign? Is that what it is?!''
See, I don't even think the audience was ''offended'' so much as they think they're ''supposed'' be offended. I've encountered this with audiences before. PC culture is like the Black Panthers with batons at the voting booth. Just the mere presence of it in a comedy room intimidates people into silence. Political correctness ruins everything it touches.
But this is also an example of where we can make some headway. From Howard Stern to people like Bill Burr, we're seeing people who are not Conservative, who would have never even thought of voting Republican, turning on the progressive left because of the stifling cultural Marxism.
Bill Burr can see the writing on the wall. If Hillary Clinton becomes President, the oval office just becomes a SJW, feminist Tumblr blog come to life. Logical, anti-authoritarian Conservatives and libertarians need to use it. Otherwise, we'll all be witnessing the re-writing of the First Amendment pretty damn soon (as seen below).
VIDEO-Eurovision Song Contest: Ukraine's Jamala wins competition - BBC News
Sun, 15 May 2016 10:07
Media captionSophie van Brugen reports from StockholmUkraine's Jamala has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, held in Stockholm, Sweden.
The country scored 534 points with its song 1944, about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin.
Australia finished second with 511 points, while Russia - which was the favourite going into the competition - was third with 491 points.
Joe and Jake, who represented the UK with their song You're Not Alone, finished in 24th place with 62 points.
Jamala is the first Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest and her song caused controversy because of alleged political overtones.
It references the year when Stalin deported almost all of the Tatar ethnic group from its native region of Crimea in what was then the Soviet Union.
The song has angered Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as tension between the two countries grew.
How Twitter reacted to Jamala's win
Image copyright@BBCSteveRThere have been calls in Russia for a review of her victory after a prankster told Russian TV that Jamala had admitted to him her song had a political subtext while he posed as an aide to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
A Russian MP, Elena Drapeko, blamed Russia's defeat on what she called an "information war" and "general demonisation" of her country.
But Mr Poroshenko hailed Jamala's victory and said her performance had been "incredible".
The juries from Russia and Ukraine did not award each other any points. However large numbers of the Russian public voted for the Ukrainian song, awarding it 10 points while the Ukrainian public gave Russia's entry the maximum 12 points.
Under the radar: Helen Bushby, BBC entertainment reporter, Stockholm
Image copyrightAFPUkraine confounded the bookmakers and Eurovision commentators who had been convinced that Russia - or possibly Australia - would win.
Russia's CG effects and the brilliance of Australia's singing weren't enough to defeat jazz artist Jamala.
Russia was the bookmakers' favourite for so long, possibly because it was so similar to last year's Swedish winner. Ukraine appears to have slipped past it under the radar.
Simon Bennett, head of the International OGAE Eurovision fan club, told the BBC that former Soviet countries that would "normally vote for Russia" sent it a message by voting for Ukraine instead.
How political was this?
Media captionFans react to Ukraine's Eurovision Song Contest winThe singer had dedicated the song to her great grandmother who was forced to leave along with a quarter of a million Tatars, as a collective punishment for those who had collaborated during the Nazi occupation.
It had been expected to finish in the top three but in a surprise result beat favourites Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and had been angered by the song.
Collecting her award, an emotional Jamala thanked Europe for their votes, adding: "I really want peace and love to everyone."
Speaking about her win backstage after, the singer said: "It's amazing. I was sure that if you talk about truth it really can touch people."
Image copyrightReutersImage caption Russia's Sergey Lazarev had been the favourite to win, but finished in third place A new scoring system was introduced this year, providing separate scores for each country's jury and public votes, rather than combining them as in previous years.
At the half-way point after the juries' votes had been counted, Australia - which had been invited back to perform after last year's 60th anniversary celebrations - topped the scoreboard with 320 points and a firm lead over Ukraine's 211 points.
But Dami Im's Sound of Silence failed to strike the same chord with the public and was voted the fourth most popular song overall.
Media captionThe crazy costumes of Eurovision fansThe new scoring system highlighted the disparity between the preferences of the juries and the public.
Image copyrightAlamyImage caption The final Eurovision scoreboard It allowed Poland, which was in penultimate place with seven points from the jury, to leap to eighth when the public's 227 points were taken into account.
It also meant the UK, which had been placed 17th after the jury vote with 54 points, was pushed down to 24th out of 26 when the public's mere eight points were added.
Despite the low finishing position, the UK still scored more points than it has done since 2011 when Blue competed.
Writing on Twitter, Joe and Jake said: "Regardless of the result, our main aim was to make the UK proud. We hope we did that."
Germany's Jamie-Lee finished in last place - her song Ghost received 11 points.
Image copyrightAPImage caption The UK's Joe and Jake finished 24th out of 26, but were awarded the maximum 12 points from Malta's jury Media captionJustin Timberlake sings new track Can't Stop The Feeling at EurovisionGraham Norton, who provided commentary to viewers watching in the UK, paid tribute to his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan during the contest.
He recalled Sir Terry, who died in January, advising him not to drink anything alcoholic until the ninth song had been performed.
"I would urge you at home to raise a cup, a mug, a glass and give thanks to the man who was, and always will be, the voice of Eurovision," he said as the ninth competitor began.
This year's contest took place at the Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm and was hosted by last year's winner Mans Zelmerlow and Swedish TV personality Mede.
Justin Timberlake performed his new single during the interval of the show, which also included a sketch featuring British actors Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Derek Jacobi as their ITV Vicious characters.
VIDEO-Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area Exposed CBS San Francisco
Sun, 15 May 2016 09:41
OAKLAND (CBS SF) '-- Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed.
Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn't even need a warrant to do it.
Federal agents are planting microphones to secretly record conversations.
Jeff Harp, a KPIX 5 security analyst and former FBI special agent said, ''They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there's microphones that are planted in places that people don't think about, because that's the intent!''
FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011.
Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence.
Harp said, ''An agent can't just go out and grab a recording device and plant it somewhere without authorization from a supervisor or special agent in charge.''
The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, ''Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy'...private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected 'oral communication''... and therefore may not be intercepted without judicial authorization.''
Harp says that if you're going to conduct criminal activity, do it in the privacy of your own home. He says that was the original intention of the Fourth Amendment, but it's up to the judge to interpret it.
Jackie Ward is a two-time Emmy nominated reporter who recently moved to the Bay Area from Portland, Maine. Jackie was born and raised just outside of Boston, MA where her passion for telling informative, compelling stories began to flourish. This...
VIDEO-Weekly Address: A Conversation About Addiction | whitehouse.gov
Sat, 14 May 2016 20:27
In this week's address, Grammy Award-winning artist Macklemore joined President Obama to discuss a disease that affects far too many Americans: addiction. Macklemore opened up about his own experience, his life in recovery, and the loss of a friend who overdosed on prescription drugs at a young age '' emphasizing that substance use disorder affects people from all walks of life.
To underscore the importance of Macklemore's story, the President noted that we can help those suffering in private by making the conversation public, and we should do everything we can to make treatment available to everyone who needs it. While the House of Representatives passed several bills on opioids this week, without more funding to expand treatment, these bills will not be enough to provide Americans the help they need. President Obama said there is hope, and that when we treat substance use disorder as the public health problem it is, more people will get the help they need.
If you are looking for treatment in your area, call 1-800-662-HELP.
Addiction is like any other disease '' it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care what color you are, whether you're a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner-city, a suburb, or rural America. This doesn't just happen to other people's kids or in some other neighborhood. It can happen to any of us.
Award-winning Hip Hop Artist Macklemore
Transcript | mp4 | mp3
Every day we lose more Americans to this devastating disease. And every day that passes without Congressional action on funding to support the treatment needs of those suffering from opioid use disorders is a missed opportunity to save lives.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Millions of Americans are in recovery from opioid and other substance use disorders because they got the treatment and care they needed. That's why the President continue to call on Congress to provide the resources to ensure that every American who wants treatment can get it and start the road to recovery.
Learn more about Americans who are leading efforts to stop the opioid epidemic in our country.
Amanda StoneSr. Program Manager, Office of Digital Strategy
VIDEO-Watch Us Do This Really Simple Science Experiment That Proves Donald Trump Wrong | Mother Jones
Sat, 14 May 2016 17:15
And almost screw it up.
'--Tim McDonnell on Fri. May 13, 2016 6:00 AM PDT
Climate change can be a hard thing to wrap your head around. It's really scary! The Earth is really complicated! There are a lot of numbers!
But if you want to know whether global warming is real, there's really only one thing you need to know: Does carbon dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere? Scientists have known the answer (yes) since at least 1895, when the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius did the first research on what came to be know as greenhouse gases. Some climate change questions are hard, like how to predict the movement of clouds in computer models. But the basic existence of the greenhouse effect is very straightforward and noncontroversial. Among scientists, that is. Donald Trump and some other prominent Republican politicians are still struggling.
In fact, the greenhouse effect is so basic that you can even prove its existence with a simple DIY experiment. We got the idea from the great science communicator Bill Nye, who talked about it when he appeared on a recent episode of our Inquiring Minds podcast. We decided to give it a try, and it worked'...barely. We're not scientists, okay?
VIDEO-Trump May Have Just Played The Entire Media Universe For Fools, Again | Zero Hedge
Sat, 14 May 2016 16:20
By now everyone is aware of the fact that there is little love lost between Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos.
A day after Trump blasted Bezos in an interview with Sean Hannity, Washington Post released a tape, allegedly from a 1991 interview, where it alleges Trump was pretending to be a spokesman for himself. All of this is within the scope of today's political games that get played of course, but the question is did the reality tv star just take things to a new level by leaking the tape and creating a brand new news cycle?
Recall, Donald Trump's campaign convention manager Paul Manafort said that the race to the presidency is the ultimate reality show for Trump:
Fast forward to the debacle that took place yesterday, where the Washington Post absolutely hammered Trump for allegedly pretending to be a spokesman named "John Miller" in an interview with a People magazine reporter just so Trump could brag about himself and set some things straight with the media.
However, here is the twist: Sue Carswell, the People magazine reporter who can be heard on the tape with the "spokesman", swears she didn't leak the tape to anyone. As a matter of fact, she said she doesn't even know where the tape is, and assumes it got trashed when moving apartments years ago. Carswell claims the only other person who could have possibly had that recording was... drum roll... Donald Trump.
While nobody knows for certain whether or not it was actually Trump on the other end of that recording, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone to find out that it was The Donald himself - that master of media redirection - who leaked the tape to the Washington Post. After all, he had just created a buzz by saying Bezos was out to get him by any means necessary, and what better way to solidify that than with a "leaked" tape that the Washington Post would clearly run with. Also, with the news out that Trump would be the first presidential candidate not to disclose tax returns in 40 years, why not create a fresh news cycle to take the public's mind off of that little nuisance.
The Donald may have just masterfully played the entire media universe for fools.
Again.
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(13 votes)
VIDEO-ABC: Anthony Weiner documentary coming out at 'worst possible time' for Hillary Clinton - YouTube
Fri, 13 May 2016 15:06
VIDEO-George Clooney: 'There's Not Going to be a President Donald Trump' - Breitbart
Fri, 13 May 2016 14:27
''There's not going to be a President Donald Trump,'' a confident Clooney said Thursday at a Cannes Film Festival press junket for his latest film Money Monster.
''That's not going to happen,'' Clooney added to applause from the room full of journalists.
The 55-year-old star said voters in America won't let ''fear'' force them to support Trump's White House bid.
''Fear is not going to be something that drives our country,'' Clooney said. ''We're not going to be scared of Muslims or immigrants or women. We're not actually afraid of anything. We're not going to use fear. So that's not going to be an issue.''
Last month, Clooney used his high-powered Hollywood connections to host a pair of pricey fundraising events for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
An April 15 fundraiser featuring George and his wife Amal Clooney saw San Francisco Democrats shell out $175,000 per plate for Clinton's presidential campaign. That event was followed by a Clooney-hosted, $33,400-per-person fundraiser at the couple's Studio City home.
Both George and his wife Amal have publicly slammed Trump's proposed temporary ban on Muslim travel to America, and his plan to build a wall on the Mexico border.
''Building walls,'' Amal Clooney said in a recent interview with the BBC, ''doesn't represent ''U.S. values.''
Clooney's latest film, Money Monster, sees the actor play a Jim Cramer-type TV finance guru who is taken hostage live on air by a disgruntled viewer. The film '-- co-starring Julia Roberts and directed by Jodie Foster '-- had its world premiere at Cannes on Thursday.
Box office analysts predict the film will have a disappointing opening at the North American box office this weekend.
Clooney told reporters he blames America's ratings-starved news media for Trump's political rise.
''Trump is a result of the news programs not asking follow-up questions,'' he said. ''It's really easy because the cable news numbers go up. And 24-hour news doesn't mean you get more news. It just means you get the same news more.''
Today's version of TV News, Clooney said, is a ''great disaster in the way we inform ourselves.''
Money Monster opens everywhere Friday, May 13.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson
VIDEO-Money Monster | clip - Computer Glitch - YouTube
Fri, 13 May 2016 11:54
VIDEO-Benghazi bombshell | Examiner.com
Fri, 13 May 2016 11:39
If this story checks out, Hillary Clinton will be justified in worrying about never being president. Picture this setting. Picture Trey Gowdy sitting in the chairman's chair for the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Imagine a whistleblower sitting in a chair preparing to testify that the Air Force might have been able to stop the second wave of terrorist attacks in Benghazi on the night of September 11, 2012.
Finally, picture this whistleblower saying "I definitely believe that our aircraft could have taken off and got there in a timely manner, maybe three hours at the most, in order to basically at least stop that second mortar attack and have those guys running for the hills."
If Chairman Gowdy gets his way, it might not require people's imaginations. It might just require a TV. The Washington Examiner's Joel Gerhke is reporting that an "Air Force whistleblower says his team could have provided reinforcements to the Americans under attack in Benghazi in September 2012, contrary to the Obama administration's claims that the military provided the maximum possible support for the embattled diplomatic staff."
What happened that night was a national disgrace. President Obama and Hillary Clinton let the people serving our nation under Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens' command die needlessly. We'll never know if Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith or Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods could've been saved. The most that can be said is that it might've been possible.
What's known is that Mark Geist, Kris Paronto and John Tiegen wanted to save them but weren't given permission to rescue them. We know that thanks to Kris Paronto's public presentations.
According to Paronto's presentation, Geist, Paronto and Tiegen wanted to save the people at the diplomatic outpost. Couple that with what this Air Force whistleblower is saying and the puzzle starts taking shape.
Based on this whistleblower's statements and Kris Paronto's credible, detailed presentation, it isn't a puzzle that will paint Mrs. Clinton in a flattering light. This won't be an easy pickle for Mrs. Clinton to get out of.
First, Mrs. Clinton loses if she or some of her surrogates attack an Air Force officer and a former Army Ranger. Attacking military veterans is like walking through a mine field ... while wearing snow shoes. Chances are, you won't make it out unscathed.
Next and most importantly, these officers have served in the heat of battle. They're articulate and fearless. That means that they're likely to be highly credible witnesses. If Mrs. Clinton or her surrogates attack this whistleblower, things could get ugly very fast for Mrs. Clinton.
VIDEO-''The Day After'' · The Americans · TV Review There's got to be a ''Day After'' for The Americans · TV Club · The A.V. Club
Fri, 13 May 2016 00:43
The Magic Of David Copperfield V: The Statue Of Liberty Disappears was watched by ''every single person'' Henry Jennings knows. It's teenage hyperbole, but he could've said the same thing about The Day After: ABC Theater's presentation of the nuclear holocaust parable pulled in 100 million viewers, more than any other made-for-TV movie to date. But unlike ''The Magic Of David Copperfield V: The Statue Of Liberty Disappears,'' ''The Day After'' beams its namesake broadcast into houses that aren't the Jennings'. In his hermetically sealed apartment, William watches the McCoy family argue about the severity of the Soviet threat. In a bedroom across town, Tatiana and Oleg see Dr. Russell Oakes weaving through traffic on a crowded highway.
But something changes before the scene switches to the Rezidentura. The American bomber taking flight isn't constrained by the borders of a circa 1983 TV. The bomber's taking off on our TVs. The panic, the drama, the alarmism of The Day After is mingling with the reality of The Americans. Seven months ago, the Jennings tuned in to see the future Mr. Claudia Schiffer pretend to erase the Statue Of Liberty from the night's sky. On November 20th, every single person we know on The Americans watches the dramatization of a catastrophe in which they could all feasibly be complicit.
But only Oleg knows how close they all came to living the events of The Day After. After letting his privilege hang out in front of Tatiana, Oleg shares a bit of privileged information with her: On September 26, 1983, five inbound American ICBMs were detected by the USSR's early-warning satellites. Our fraternizing Soviet diplomats are still alive because those nukes were properly identified as a false alarm. Because the officer on duty defied his training, ''sunlight reflected off clouds'' failed to start World War III. Today we know that officer's name (Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov) and his reasons for ignoring the warning (if the United States intended to wipe the Soviet Union off the map, it would've done so with more than five missiles), but in the fall of 1983, he was merely the subject of questionably appropriate pillow talk. He was just one unknown person, doing what he knew to be right.
The morality of The Americans is rarely black-and-white, but the specter of mutually assured destruction has a way of rendering complicated issues into absolutes. After tasting freedom (''Free? I can't remember'--what's that feel like?'''--William) for more than half a year, The Day After brings the psychological toll of the Jennings' work crashing down on Elizabeth. That, and the creeping suspicion that the Young-hee operation is approaching its own point of no return. While the break has significantly improved Philip's relationship with Paige, Elizabeth has found herself a true chum in Young-hee. But when she fails to dig up sufficient dirt on Young-hee's husband'--Don's such a straight arrow, even his porn stash is vanilla'--she must decide between friendship and duty. It's only right that she pulls the dirty movie out from behind Sophie's Choice.
The seduction that follows is The Americans' most gut-wrenching depiction of spy procedure since the suitcase scene in ''Baggage.'' Conveying the weight of Elizabeth's decision, ''The Day After'' goes through the process step-by-step, beginning with the POV shot of the telephone booth. We're in Elizabeth's headspace as she contemplates the call, and a shift in vantage point illustrates her reluctance to dial the phone. It's a lot like the Day After progression from earlier in the episode: For a split second, we are there, so the actions Elizabeth takes after she picks up the phone have an impact on us, too. She's going through the motions, and regretting it every step of the way, with a hitch, a pause, a sigh'--stepping out of the car, moving from the couch, applying the incriminating lubrication to Don's bathing-suit area. The English recording of Peter Schilling's ''Major Tom (Coming Home)'' is a clever soundtrack choice here, its launchpad checklist echoing Elizabeth's meticulous technique, its ersatz David Bowie vibe differentiating this scene from the ''Under Pressure'' sequence in ''Clark's Place.''
It also pairs well with Paige's driving lesson, a relatively mundane exercise that probably feels like piloting a space craft to our spy-in-training. (The ''Paige, honey, you need to blink'' part just killed me. With the period soundtrack, it felt like something from a John Hughes movie.) Her time behind the wheel is one of several signs of the post-time-jump status quo, like Henry's new hairdo (aping surrogate big brother Matthew Beeman?) or Stan defining what a ''typical Webster munchkin'' is. (And here I was hoping next week's episode title was a Dunkin' Donuts reference.)
But the connection between Philip and Paige in these scenes also demonstrates the normalcy that's flourished during the Jennings' hiatus. At the start of ''The Day After,'' typical American father and typical American daughter are enjoying a typical American coming-of-age milestone, with no thought given to international espionage. But by the end of ''The Day After,'' the spy stuff starts encroaching on the new normal: Paige's Camaro excursion must split a montage with Elizabeth and Don. And there's the thought that maybe, just maybe, Philip handed her the keys because Pastor Tim wants to talk after he returns from Ethiopia.
He's not the only one who needs a minute of the Jennings' time. Circumventing Gabriel, William alerts Philip and Elizabeth to a new shipment from Fort Detrick: lassa, a nasty little bug that ''liquifies your organs'' and ''makes your blood come out from your skin.'' Aftermath and consequences are major factors in ''The Day After,'' and William's attitude this week shows the repercussions of sending Martha to Moscow. Inspired by Philip's minor mutiny, and embodying the spirit of Stanislav Petrov, William doesn't want to tell The Centre about the Americans' modified lassa, lest he stoke the flame of the microscopic arms race. The screen is engulfed in flames in ''The Day After,'' but Dylan Baker continues to make bioweapons sound a hell of a lot scarier than any bomb.
William thinks he has a choice in the matter, and he turns to Philip because not telling The Centre was ''a big decision to make on your own,'' but he's fooling himself. Bioweapons escalation, the Young-hee operation'--this isn't choosing to watch or not watch The Day After. These are ''no other choice'' situations. ''The Day After'' marks the end of the travel agents' vacation. Seems like it was nice while it lasted.
Stray observationsThe Americans Wig Report: Season Four, Week Nine: A. Love the new looks for Philip and Elizabeth in the park'--anybody else get a whiff of Walter White from Philip? And don't hide that bob under that beret, Elizabeth! (Extra credit for the resiliency of Patti's wig in the face of portentous winds.)The Americans Soundtrack Report: Season Four, Week Nine: A-. Yaz returns with ''Winter Kills,'' a moody accompaniment for Elizabeth's fruitless sweep of Don and Young-hee's place. And as right ''Major Tom'' feels in the montage, I have to say: That song pretty much belongs toBreaking Badnow. (Maybe that's why Philip's disguise looks so much like Walt.)Was there any Mail Robot? ''We're standing by / There's no reply''The time jump bypasses one of the major causes for increased U.S.-USSR tensions in 1983: On September 1, a Korean Air Lines flight en route to Seoul from Anchorage, Alaska entered restricted airspace and was shot down by a Soviet jet fighter. Soviet officials initially denied their involvement, the White House called it ''an act of barbarism, born of a society which wantonly disregards individual rights and the value of human life,'' and a hairy year of the Cold War grew hairier.If William is under surveillance so often, why doesn't he ever wear a disguise? Is it because he's under surveillance so often he can't risk going to the store for some spirit gum? Or maybe all the antibiotics have rendered him allergic to wig fibers?In that pastel apartment, in her purple dress and heavy eye shadow, Elizabeth-as-Patti appears to be a Patrick Nagel print come to life. (So, aMoonbeam Citycharacter, then?)Smart, smart,smartwriting: When Philip returns to the travel agency, and Elizabeth tells him she'll be home late, ''The Day After'' feels no need to spell out what they're talking about: Elizabeth sleeping with Don, and blackmailing her way to whatever The Centre needs from him. ''I don't know if there is another way in'' says everything we need to know about the episode, the operation, and how Elizabeth's feeling.ShareTweetMore TV ClubPrevious episodeThe Americans has more magic than David Copperfield
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