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Presidential Proclamation -- National School Lunch Week, 2013

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Archived Version

Source: White Press Office Feed

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:28

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 11, 2013


- - - - - - -



In 1946, when American communities bore the weight of endemic malnutrition, and parents struggled to provide their children with decent meals for the long school day, President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act. The law is based on a simple conviction -- that in the most powerful Nation on earth, no child should go hungry. And today, with more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, strong nutrition at school remains as important as ever. During National School Lunch Week, we recommit to the basic promise that every American child should have a chance to succeed, and we recognize the role nutrition plays in giving our children the opportunity to reach for their dreams.

My Administration is working to fulfill our essential commitment to America's sons and daughters. For too many of our children, food served at school may be their only regular meals, providing the sustenance they need to focus and excel. With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, we expanded access to school meals while taking action to combat childhood obesity. Obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States -- triple the rate from just one generation ago -- and that means more of our children are at risk for preventable health problems including diabetes and heart disease. We updated nutritional standards for school meals, balancing calories and limiting fat and sodium while increasing servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative works with elected officials, parents, schools, and communities to help young people and their parents access healthy foods and make healthy choices, empowering students to be engaged in the classroom and active throughout their lives.

As he signed the National School Lunch Act into law, President Truman reminded us that "In the long view, no nation is any healthier than its children." This week, as we look to a healthy future, we give our thanks to the food program administrators, educators, parents, and communities who are doing their part to get us there.

The Congress, by joint resolution of October 9, 1962 (Public Law 87''780), as amended, has designated the week beginning on the second Sunday in October each year as "National School Lunch Week" and has requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of October 13 through October 19, 2013, as National School Lunch Week. I call upon all Americans to join the dedicated individuals who administer the National School Lunch Program in appropriate activities that support the health and well-being of our Nation's children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


Nokia Conversations >> Nokia names October 20 'International Mobile Photography Day'

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 15:15

Camera phones have changed photography forever '' and right along with it '' our lives. In 2014, it is estimated that smartphone photographers will take nearly one trillion photos '' that's hundreds of thousands a minute (three thousand by the time you read this sentence), capturing in an instant the poignant, funny, dramatic, hilarious, strange and memorable moments that otherwise would have been lost forever. In recognition of the evolving digital photography revolution, Nokia calls on photographers everywhere to grab their smartphones and celebrate with us on October 20 as we mark the first International Mobile Photography Day, a day dedicated to capturing all those once-in-a-lifetime, unexpected moments. Moments immediately immortalized and shared because now, people have the convenience of having a camera on hand, always, thanks to mobile phones. To mark the occasion, we secured some people whose very livelihood depends on almost instinctively capturing unexpected moments on film: staff photographers from the Associated Press.

We provided AP photojournalists around the globe with our Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone and asked them to contribute to our ''mobile photo documentary,'' a series of photos from people all around the world depicting the most brilliant examples of life's unexpected moments. The best-of-the-best photos will then be turned into a compelling ''Life Unexpected'' video.

''People today are documenting life around them in an entirely new way,'' said Juha Alakarhu, head of imaging technologies at Nokia.

''They're no longer just taking posed pictures of family and friends, but capturing memories and stories through the magic of photos or videos. Photography has become a natural part of our daily lives!

''That wasn't possible until camera phones essentially put a professional grade camera in everyone's pocket.'' Alakarhu believes the Nokia Lumia 1020 '' with a 41 MP sensor, Carl Zeiss lenses, PureView technology, Optical Image Stabilization and super high-res zoom '' makes it the perfect choice for photos that have to be right the first time.

If you would like to join in the celebration and contribute your own ''Life Unexpected'' photo, share a memorable photo taken with the Lumia 1020 '' or any smartphone '' this Sunday (October 20), and then simply tweet or post your photo using #1020MobilePhotoDay. Your tagged image will then be considered for inclusion in the ''Life Unexpected'' video, along with some of the most renowned photographers in the world. (The video will be released on Monday, October 21.)

So, go ahead, snap a photo on October 20, the International Mobile Photography Day, and share your moment with the world.

story by Matthew Molino

Micky sick

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martial law procedure-U.S. Congressman Michael C. Burgess : 26th District Of Texas

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Archived Version

Sun, 13 Oct 2013 23:00

Under the "martial law" procedure, long-standing House rules that require at least one day between the unveiling of significant legislation and the House floor vote on that legislation '-- so that Members can learn what they are being asked to vote on '-- are swept away. Instead, under ''martial law,'' the Leadership can file legislation with tens or hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and votes on it, before Members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted into the legislation behind closed doors. This is the procedure that the Leadership intends to use to muscle through important bills in the next two days.Under the martial law procedure, long-standing House rules that require at least one day between the unveiling of significant legislation and the House floor vote on that legislation '-- so that Members can learn what they are being asked to vote on '-- are swept away. Instead, under ''martial law,'' the Leadership can file legislation with tens or hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and votes on it, before Members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted into the legislation behind closed doors. This is the procedure that the Leadership intends to use to muscle through important bills in the next two days.

Shutdown Bill-H.R. 2775 - Senate Amendment: Senate Amendment to H.R. 2775, Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 - Legislative Digest -

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:58

The Senate amendment to H.R. 2775 maintains current funding levels of $986.3 billion for the five appropriations bills and the continuing resolution contained in the Senate amendment to H.R. 933 and extends both to January 15, 2014. According to the House Committee on Appropriations, the amendment would address the following specific issues. (Provisions in italics are new anomalies added in the pending Senate amendment. Everything else has been voted on in previous CRs).

Sec. 115 '' Ensures furloughed employees are compensated and ratifies obligations made during the shutdown similar to language used in past shutdowns

Sec. 116 '' Compensates States and other Federal grantees for carrying out Federal programs or paying Federally-funded State employees

Sec.117 - Clarifies that spending under the Pay Our Military Act is charged to the applicable appropriation.

Sec. 118 '' Provides that the effective date for this joint resolution is October 1, 2013

Sec. 119 '' Continues restrictions and reporting requirements on federal employee training conferences and conventions (section 3003 of division G of PL 113-6)

Sec. 120 '' Extends the authorization for section 408 of the Food for Peace Act

Sec. 121 '' Provides apportionment authority for weather satellite programs

Sec. 122 '' Extends authority for activities to counter Lord's Resistance Army and non-conventional assisted recovery

Sec. 123 '' Extends authorization for construction of Olmsted Locks and Dams included within the President's FY 14 budget request, FY 14 House-passed and Senate-reported Energy and Water Appropriations bills and similar to language included in the Water Resources Development Act

Sec. 124 '' Extends authority for the Appalachian Regional Commission

Sec. 125 ''Provides a rate of operations for Judicial Services that includes an increase of $25 million to provide funding for court and probation operations

Sec. 126 '' Provides a rate for operations of $1,012,000,000 for Judiciary, Defender Services (a $26 million increase) to address shortfalls in Federal Public Defender Offices

Sec. 127 '' Authorizes use of DC local funds for entire year

Sec. 128 '' Extends the Universal Service Fund exemption to the Anti-Deficiency Act through life of CR

Sec. 129 '' Provision deleted. Provides an increase in the rate of operations of $1.7 million for the Office of Special Counsel because of a backlog in whistleblower cases.

Sec. 130 - Provides an increase in the rate of operations of $2.2 million for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which is in the initial phases of operation

Sec. 131- Extends authority for the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program

Sec. 132 - Extends authority for the Secret Service to apply proceeds from undercover investigations

Sec. 133 '' Extends authority for ''other transaction'' contracting agreements for the Department of Homeland Security

Sec. 134 '' Sustains CBP staffing and border security operations and ICE staffing and immigration enforcement functions, including the most recent modification to include air and marine activities

Sec. 135 ''Extends authorization for recreation fees for one year for BLM, NPS, USFWS, Forest Service and Bureau of Reclamation

Sec. 136 '' Provides an additional $36 million for Department of the Interior firefighting

Sec. 137 '' Provides an additional $600 million for Forest Service firefighting

Sec. 138 '' Extends stewardship contracting authority for the Forest Service

Sec. 139 '' Extends authorization extension allowing the Eisenhower Commission to hold on to the site for the memorial added by the Senate, plus language prohibiting the Commission from construction added by the House

Sec. 140 '' Provides funds for the continuation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program

Sec. 141 '' Provides the Mine Safety and Health Administration with discretionary authority to retain fees

Sec. 142 '' Clarifies the LIHEAP formula for the distribution of funds to states to ensure funds are allocated consistent with previous years

Sec. 143 '' Provides flexibility in the obligation rate for the Refugee and Entrant Assistance account

Sec. 144 '' Provides transfer authority to permit continuation of funding for research and for salaries and expenses of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency that carries out these activities

Sec. 145 '' Extends for 2 years authority for teachers working under alternative routes to certification to be considered highly qualified for purposes of complying with federal law

Sec. 146 '' Provides a gratuity of $174,000 for the widow of Senator Lautenberg

Sec. 147 '' Prohibits COLA for Members of Congress for FY 2014

Sec. 148 '' Increases the appropriation for General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration to $2,455,490,000 (a $294 million increase) to adequately fund disability claims processing

Sec. 149 '' Extends the authorization of HUD's Rental Assistance Demonstration program (carried in the FY 2012 THUD Act)

Sec. 150 '' Sets an annual rate for Federal Aviation Administration $97 million higher than current rate to ensure FAA remains fully operational

Sec. 151 '' Pushes back deadline requiring Washington Metropolitan Transit Administration to provide full wireless reception throughout underground system for life of CR

Sec. 152 '' Increases rate of operation for MARAD's Maritime Security Program for US Flagged ships to $186 million, an increase of $12 million

Sec. 153-155 '' Extends authority for war risk insurance for civil/commercial aviation for the life of the CR

Sec. 156 '' Raises ceiling on Highway Emergency Response Funds in the Sandy Supplemental for Colorado as a result of the recent floods

Sec. 158 ''Requires DHS to submit a report/expenditure plan to HSGAC and the House Homeland Security Committee 14 days after the report is submitted to the Appropriations committees

NOTE: The resolution stops an FY 2013 provision from carrying forward that allowed planting and harvesting of genetically altered crops to proceed during pendency of a court case.

The amendment requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify to Congress that the Exchanges authorized under Obamacare verify income eligibility prior to making premium subsidies and cost sharing reductions available and to report to Congress on the procedures employed to verify such information. The amendment also requires the Inspector General to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of the procedures.

Finally, the Senate amendment suspends the debt limit through February 7, 2014 upon the President's request and continues to allow the Secretary of Treasury to employ extraordinary measures. The suspension is effective upon receipt of a written certification submitted within three days by the President that the Secretary of Treasury will be unable to issue debt to meet commitments. The Senate amendment authorizes an expedited process for Congress to vote on a joint resolution of disapproval of the debt limit suspension within 22 days of receiving the President's certification.

McConnell-Reid Deal Includes $3 Billion Earmark for Kentucky Project | WFPL

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Archived Version

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:23

A proposal to end the government shutdown and avoid default orchestrated by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid includes a nearly $3 billion earmark for a Kentucky project.

Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Paducah, Ky., from $775 million to nearly $2.9 billion.

The dam is considered an important project for the state and region in regards to water traffic along the Ohio River.

As The Courier-Journal's James Bruggers reported in 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they needed about $2.1 billion for the locks due to "stop and go funding."

Asked about the additional funding in the proposal, McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer directed all questions to lawmakers who worked on the bill directly.

"Senators (Diane) Feinstein and (Lamar) Alexander, the chair and ranking member of the energy and water subcommittee, worked on the issue and can help you," he says.

Since 2009, McConnell has been an outspoken supporter of the project, and has been working on getting its funding for some time.


Still, conservative critics of the proposal argue it is nothing more than a "kickback" for McConnell in an age where Tea Parties have eschewed earmarks.

The Olmsted Dam sees nearly 90 billion tons of materials such as coal, petroleum and other goods move through that stretch of the Ohio River annually.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.:

A statement from Sen. Alexander's office to BuzzFeed says the language was added to prevent funding from being canceled.

"According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included. Sen. [Diane] Feinstein and I, as chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, requested this provision. It has already been approved this year by the House and Senate."

UPDATE 9:35 p.m.:

The Senate passed the McConnell-Reid deal by a 81-18 vote and it now heads to the House.

Among those who voted against the bill were Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who derided the legislation for overlooking the nation's debt.

"Tonight, a deal was struck to re-open the government and avoid the debt ceiling deadline. That is a good thing," Paul said in a statement. "However, our country faces a problem bigger than any deadline: a $17 trillion debt. I am disappointed that Democrats would not compromise to avoid the looming debt debacle."

Paul's office has not responded to our request for commenting regarding the provision for the Olmsted project.

In a follow-up e-mail, McConnell's office told the radio station the GOP leader did not request Alexander put wording to raise the authorization for funding in the bill despite McConnell's support for earmark funding in the past.

Mitch McConnell Accused of Sneaking in $2 Billion 'Kentucky Kickback' in Budget, Debt Limit Deal '' So Is It True? |

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Archived Version

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:20

Included in the McConnell-Reid bill that would end the government shutdown, fund Obamacare and lift the debt ceiling, is apparently a roughly $2 billion increase in the authorization for the Olmsted Lock and Dam project in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state.

However, there appears to be more to the story.

The alleged earmark package is being referred to as the ''Kentucky Kickback'' by the Senate Conservatives Fund as McConnell's political opponents claim the dollars helped seal his support for the final McConnell-Reid bill. A spokesman for McConnell has flatly denied the claim.

WASHINGTON, DC '' OCTOBER 16: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) arrives at his office on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images

''The McConnell-Reid bill not only funds Obamacare and suspends the debt limit, it ALSO includes a provision in Section 123 that increases the authorization for the Olmsted Lock in Kentucky from $775 million to nearly $3 billion,'' the Senate Conservatives Fund notes.

Here's exactly what the aforementioned section of the bill states:

SEC. 123. Section 3(a)(6) of Public Law 100''676 is amended by striking both occurrences of ''$775,000,000'' and inserting in lieu thereof, ''$2,918,000,000''.

''And when you dig down into that section, you find a lock and dam project on the Ohio River, part in Illinois and part in Kentucky,'' KRMG correctly points out.

A spokesman for McConnell told KRMG that ''it's not our project,'' directing the radio station to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, which handles water projects.

''It did not come from here,'' the McConnell spokesman claimed.

It soon came to light that it was Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) who officially requested the provision be added.

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Alexander explained that the provision was necessary to prevent $160 million in contracts from being cancelled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

''According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included. Sen. [Diane] Feinstein and I, as chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, requested this provision. It has already been approved this year by the House and Senate,'' he said.

BuzzFeed reports:

Although the language was inserted by Feinstein and Alexander, whose home state of Tennessee would also benefit from the project, McConnell has been its historical champion. In fact, the Kentucky lawmaker secured hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for the Olmsted project before lawmakers ended the practice several years ago.

Further, as the Washington Post reports, the funding was also requested by President Barack Obama and, ''according to congressional sources from both parties, wasn't a McConnell project.''

Still, McConnell's critics are skeptical that he had absolutely no say in the matter as he is both the minority leader in the U.S. Senate and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

''McConnell may try to blame someone else for this, but he wrote the bill and it's not the first time he has sought funds for this project. He also requested $100 million for it in 2010,'' the Senate Conservative Fund claims. ''This is what's wrong with Washington and it's what's wrong with Mitch McConnell.''

The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, has not been friendly with McConnell and is known to put pressure on Republican senators and representatives in the effort to defund Obamacare (including McConnell).

McConnell has also recently denied accusations made by an anonymous source that he called anyone who worked with the Senate Conservatives Fund or FreedomWorks the equivalent of a traitor to the GOP.

Read a copy of the actual bill below (via TheDC):

McConnell-Reid Legislation

As it turns out, the Olmsted Locks and Dam project is overdue and way over budget. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

A project that should have been completed years ago has quadrupled in cost because of management failures for which the Corps of Engineers has yet to be held accountable.

And the price tag keeps rising.

In 1988, Congress authorized spending $775 million to replace two 1920s-era Ohio River dams 17 miles from the Mississippi River, at the busiest inland shipping hub in America.

A quarter-century later, the projected cost has ballooned to $3.1 billion.

Moreover, the Olmsted project is barely half done. The latest completion dates: 2020 for the dam and 2024 for the entire project.

This story has been updated.


Who Shut Down the Government? - Thomas Sowell - Page full

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Archived Version

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 20:34

Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going -- except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives' right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

ObamaCare is indeed "the law of the land," as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies -- unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.

Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who -- if anybody -- "wants to shut down the government." But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.

The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a "clean" bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word "clean" like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.

When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of "legislation by appropriation" as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out -- and articulation has never been their strong suit -- the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.

How Boehner's Plan B for the 'fiscal cliff' began and fell apart - Washington Post

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Archived Version

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 05:06

John A. Boehner's week on the brink ended in a painfully familiar place.

It began last week when President Obama delivered a stern message to the House speaker: If there was going to be a deal to tame the nation's debt, it had to happen now. If they went over the ''fiscal cliff,'' it would only become harder to reach a deal, Obama said.

The next day, Friday, Boehner (R-Ohio) phoned Obama offering what seemed like a major breakthrough: Republicans would agree to raise tax rates for the first time in decades if the president gave a key concession on entitlement reform.

That offer set in motion seven days of dealmaking, posturing and cajoling by Boehner and other House leaders, first on a grand deal with the White House and then on a Plan B with their own House caucus. By Thursday night, both deals had fallen apart, and Boehner was near tears in announcing the failure to his colleagues, Republicans said.

The failure of a grand bargain was the latest oh-so-close moment for Obama and Boehner, who have been dancing around a deal to cut the deficit for the better part of the past two years. And the collapse of Plan B set a new low in Boehner's sometimes rocky relationship with a House Republican caucus that has long been uneasy about the speaker's dealmaking with Obama.

Following the latest breakdown in negotiations, Democrats said Boehner should return to the bargaining table with Obama '-- or just let House Democrats and 25 or so Republicans vote for a Senate-approved plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class. But Republicans said the well has been so poisoned that restarting bipartisan talks would be more difficult than ever.

In a statement late Thursday, Boehner said it was now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama to come up with an agreement '-- without explaining what role he would play. The speaker ignored reporters' questions and, at 8:04 p.m., he walked out of the Capitol.

A week earlier, the possibility of a deal seemed as promising as it ever had.

As he was heading home to Ohio for the weekend, Boehner called Obama with an offer to allow tax rates for incomes above $1 million to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. In exchange, Boehner demanded a key change to entitlement spending that would lead to reduced benefits.

With a potential $1 trillion in spending cuts '-- out of a total $2 trillion debt deal '-- Boehner also suggested that the debt ceiling could be lifted a similar amount and give the Treasury another year of borrowing authority.

The next 72 hours would prove critical. Having offered so much, Boehner hoped he could keep the details quiet long enough for him to get Obama to agree to enough spending cuts to satisfy his caucus '-- and so that his leadership team could make the case for compromise in person.

But the details did not stay secret for long. Reports leaked out Saturday evening that Boehner had agreed to raise taxes on millionaires. That was followed by a more alarming leak Sunday evening that Boehner was also willing to grant Obama another increase in the federal debt limit. Home in their districts, unsuspecting rank-and-file Republicans were stunned.

At that point, senior aides to those lawmakers began anxiously reaching out to GOP leadership staff wanting to know what had happened to the Boehner demand that every dollar in a debt ceiling increase would come with an equal cut in spending.

Boehner's staff scrambled to issue a memo to Republican aides and outside conservative strategists that explained his offer included $1 trillion in spending cuts '-- roughly the increase in the debt ceiling. But other leadership aides said that the damage had already been done.

The final blow came Monday, when it became clear that Boehner wasn't going to get the cuts from Obama that he felt he needed. After a 4 p.m. meeting with his leadership team, Boehner called Obama again.

It was time for Plan B, he said.

Having gambled and lost with Obama, Boehner would now gamble with his own caucus.

''Plan A was going nowhere. They had been talking for weeks, and they couldn't lock something down. So you gotta go to Plan B,'' Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), one of three powerful committee chairmen advising Boehner on the talks, said Thursday.

Plan B was simple: Republicans would vote to permanently extend tax cuts for virtually all taxpayers, while raising rates on millionaires.

The rationale was to take the tax issue off the table by extending tax breaks to more than 99.8 percent of taxpayers, according to senior GOP aides. Removing the tax issue, one outside Boehner adviser said Thursday, would then put Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a stronger position to argue for deeper spending cuts. ''Trench by trench,'' the adviser said.

Some Republicans defended Boehner even as they suggested they wouldn't have supported the framework he was pursuing, saying that the White House could not be trusted.

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 2775

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: White Press Office Feed

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:28

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 17, 2013

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The effective time for the continuing resolution begins on October 1, 2013. H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit throughFebruary 7, 2014.


Feds Studying How to Use Twitter For 'Depression Surveillance'.

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Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:51

Young seeking mental health support / AP

BY:Elizabeth HarringtonOctober 16, 2013 5:00 am

The federal government is studying how to use Twitter for surveillance on depressed people.

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) began a study financed by the National Institutes of Health last month that will provide ''population level depression monitoring'' through the social media site.

The project, ''Utilizing Social Media as a Resource for Mental Health Surveillance,'' is costing taxpayers $82,800.

While Twitter has been used by government agencies, such as the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, for national security related monitoring, the project suggests the social network can be used for public health surveillance as well.

''Major depressive disorder is one of the most common debilitating illnesses in the United States, with a lifetime prevalence of 16.2 [percent],'' the project grant states. ''Currently, nationwide mental health surveillance takes the form of large-scale telephone- based surveys.''

The project argues that Twitter is preferable to phone surveys on the mentally ill because the site offers a ''multilingual source of real time data for public health surveillance.''

''We propose using twitter and [Natural Language Processing] NLP as a cost-effective and flexible approach to augmenting current telephone- based surveillance methods for population level depression monitoring,'' the grant said.

The researchers will create algorithms to determine if people are depressed through their tweets, which they hope will serve as a basis for monitoring mental illness. They will also engage with depressed individuals on Twitter directly.

''Developing these algorithms and resources will provide the bedrock for building social media based surveillance systems,'' the grant said.

The study will also look into ethical and privacy issues for using Twitter to survey the mentally ill.

Mike Conway, Project Scientist in the Division of Behavioral Medicine at UCSD, is leading the study. His research interests include ''using social media to track health behaviours [sic].''

Conway's most recent research subject was monitoring tweets about tobacco use.

The project's ''public health relevance statement'' states that monitoring Twitter for depressed tweets has ''public health at its core.'' The researchers say the project is innovative because ''microblogs have not been used before for mental health surveillance.''

The project differs from a 2011 study, which suggested Twitter itself is making its users unhappy.

Bodies Double as Cash Machines With U.S. Income Lagging: Economy - Bloomberg

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Archived Version

Source: Dave says...

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:31

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Cash on Hand: The Price of Body Parts

Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans such as April Hare.

Out of work for more than two years and facing eviction from her home, Hare recalled Louisa May Alcott's 19th-century novel and took to her computer.

''I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from 'Little Women,' and she sold her hair,'' the 35-year-old from Atlanta said. ''I've always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I've actually had the idea to sell it because I'm in a really tight jam right now.''

The mother of two posted pictures of her 18-inch auburn mane on, asking at least $1,000 and receiving responses within hours. Hare, who also considered selling her breast milk, joins others exploring unconventional ways to make ends meet as the four-year-old economic expansion struggles to invigorate the labor market and stimulate incomes.

In all but two quarters since the beginning of 2011, ''hair,'' ''eggs,'' or ''kidney'' have been among the top four autofill results for the Google search query, ''I want to sell my...,'' according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-based ConvergEx Group, which provides brokerage and trading-related services for institutional investors.

While Americans can legally sell hair, breast milk and eggs, the sale and purchase of a kidney in the U.S. is against the law.

''The fact that people even explore it indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial outlook,'' said Colas, who tracks off-the-grid economic indicators. ''This is very much unlike every other recovery that we've had. It's going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating recovery.''

Egg DonorsAt Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has offices in Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, about 13,000 women will apply this year to be an egg donor. That's roughly a 13 percent increase from 2012, Ali Williams, marketing assistant supervisor at the fertility center, said in a telephone interview.

The clinic's own survey last year showed that 65 percent of women said there was at least some financial motivation in deciding to donate their eggs. As few as 3 percent become actual donors due to a strict screening process and lengthy time commitment associated with egg donation.

The slow pace of economic recovery, exacerbated by higher taxes and across-the-board federal spending cuts this year, has soured attitudes among U.S. households. Some 54 percent of Americans say their incomes have ''hardly recovered at all'' from the recession, according to a September survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Labor SentimentSentiment regarding employment opportunities is similarly bleak, with 52 percent saying the job market has barely recovered since the recession, Pew's survey shows. Payrolls are still down 1.9 million employees from the January 2008 peak, according to Labor Department data.

Such figures help explain why some Americans are seeking unorthodox ways to supplement their incomes. Hare, who has a 4-month-old son and 7-year-old daughter, researched selling her breast milk online after seeing she could make as much as $5 an ounce.

''These are tough times,'' said Hare, who was last employed as a showroom sales manager at a wholesale trade center. ''The rich are getting richer and everybody else is losing their jobs and their homes. It's just terrible.''

Household IncomeMedian household income, which includes wages and investments, has fallen every year for the past five after adjusting for inflation, according to data from the Commerce Department, with Americans earning less than they did in 1996.

Gains in worker pay have lagged behind the previous recovery. Wages and salaries, unadjusted for changes in prices, have climbed at a 3.2 percent annualized rate since the economy emerged from the recession in June 2009, trailing the 4.5 percent pace in the four years after the 2001 slump.

''If you've been unemployed for years, if you're on food stamps and you've had trouble getting by, I can totally see you being very economically desperate,'' Colas said. ''I don't think a lot of people sell their kidneys. I do think a lot of people in desperation do that search to say, 'If worse comes to worst what could I do?'''

While the sale of kidneys is limited to the black market, the organ could fetch $15,200 if legal monetary incentives for donations were introduced, according to 2007 research by University of Chicago economics professor Gary Becker and Julio Elias, then an economics professor at State University of New York at Buffalo.

Unemployment BenefitsSuch a decision may be influenced by a labor market that's struggling to improve and unemployment benefits that are running out. The jobless rate has been above 7 percent since the end of 2008. The share of unemployed Americans out of work for 27 weeks or longer was 38 percent in August, more than double what it was before the end of the last expansion, according to Labor Department figures.

''Clearly that would be creating some pressure for people who haven't been able to work,'' Becker said. ''They're getting unemployment compensation that was less than they had in their last job, or their unemployment compensation may have run out and they're on welfare.''

At Shady Grove Fertility Center, egg donors receive compensation at almost every step of the process, earning $7,000 by the time they finish their first donation cycle. Women can receive $7,500 for a second donation and $8,000 for each additional cycle up to a total of six, incurring no out-of-pocket costs along the way.

Financial ReasonsStill, 73 percent of women said altruism influenced their choice more than financial reasons, the survey showed.

''It is more than cutting your hair and even donating blood,'' Shady Grove's Williams said. ''The process can take a few months. So if you don't have that altruistic motivation, if you're just doing it for money, you're probably not going to get through the process.''

The average donor is about 27 years old, and 78 percent have a college degree or are pursuing one, Williams said. More than half of donor applications come through an online resource.

The Internet is probably responsible for much of the increased interest in cashing in on body parts, Becker said. Online search engines and exchanges make communications between ''buyers and sellers of things like organs or hair much easier,'' he said.

Interest RatesBridie MacDonald in Farmington Hills, Michigan, lost her job in mortgage marketing on Sept. 27, a casualty of interest rates that have risen almost 1 percentage point since the start of May, when the Federal Reserve began signaling it could scale back its unprecedented stimulus program.

With naturally red hair, the 25 year-old posted an online ad on Oct. 1 looking to sell up to 18 inches of her locks for $1,500. Since then, she's received more than 100 responses.

''I've been growing my hair out for maybe a little over two years, and I just decided now was the time since I lost my job,'' MacDonald said. ''It doesn't cost anything to grow your hair out and sell it for money. It's basically profit with very little work. Anything you can do, I'm sure people are willing to do it.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Stilwell in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at

Enlarge imageBodies Double as Cash Machines With U.S. Income Lagging: EconomyBrendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A doctor marks which kidney to remove on a kidney donor in Baltimore, Maryland.

A doctor marks which kidney to remove on a kidney donor in Baltimore, Maryland. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images



Government websites during shutdown

bullcrap take-over pages on auto generated content (HR Bills etc)


Keizer AlexanderThe NSA-Reform Paradox: Stop Domestic Spying, Get More Security - Bruce Schneier - The Atlantic

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 00:46

The nation can survive the occasional terrorist attack, but our freedoms can't survive an invulnerable leader like Keith Alexander operating within inadequate constraints.

Gene Boyars/Associated PressLeaks from the whistleblower Edward Snowden have catapulted the NSA into newspaper headlines and demonstrated that it has become one of the most powerful government agencies in the country. From the secret court rulings that allow it collect data on all Americans to its systematic subversion of the entire Internet as a surveillance platform, the NSA has amassed an enormous amount of power.

There are two basic schools of thought about how this came to pass. The first focuses on the agency's power. Like J. Edgar Hoover, NSA Director Keith Alexander has become so powerful as to be above the law. He is able to get away with what he does because neither political party -- and nowhere near enough individual lawmakers -- dare cross him. Longtime NSA watcher James Bamford recently quoted a CIA official: ''We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander -- with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets.''

Possibly the best evidence for this position is how well Alexander has weathered the Snowden leaks. The NSA's most intimate secrets are front-page headlines, week after week. Morale at the agency is in shambles. Revelation after revelation has demonstrated that Alexander has exceeded his authority, deceived Congress, and possibly broken the law. Tens of thousands of additional top-secret documents are still waiting to come. Alexander has admitted that he still doesn't know what Snowden took with him and wouldn't have known about the leak at all had Snowden not gone public. He has no idea who else might have stolen secrets before Snowden, or who such insiders might have provided them to. Alexander had no contingency plans in place to deal with this sort of security breach, and even now -- four months after Snowden fled the country -- still has no coherent response to all this.

For an organization that prides itself on secrecy and security, this is what failure looks like. It is a testament to Alexander'spower that he still has a job.

The second school of thought is that it's the administrations' fault -- not just the present one, but the most recent several. According to this theory, the NSA is simply doing its job. If there's a problem with the NSA's actions, it's because the rules it's operating under are bad. Like the military, the NSA is merely an instrument of national policy. Blaming the NSA for creating a surveillance state is comparable to blaming the U.S. military for the conduct of the Iraq war. Alexander is performing the mission given to him as best he can, under the rules he has been given, with the sort of zeal you'd expect from someone promoted into that position. And the NSA's power predated his directorship.

Former NSA Director Michael Hayden exemplifies this in a quotefrom late July: ''Give me the box you will allow me to operate in. I'm going to play to the very edges of that box.''

This doesn't necessarily mean the administration is deliberately giving the NSA too big a box. More likely, it's simply that the laws aren't keeping pace with technology. Every year, technology gives us possibilities that our laws simply don't cover clearly. And whenever there's a gray area, the NSA interprets whatever law there is to give them the most expansive authority. They simply run rings around the secret court that rules on these things. My guess is that while they have clearly broken the spirit of the law, it'll be harder to demonstrate that they broke the letter of the law.

In football terms, the first school of thought says the NSA is out of bounds. The second says the field is too big. I believe that both perspectives have some truth to them, and that the real problem comes from their combination.

Regardless of how we got here, the NSA can't reform itself. Change cannot come from within; it has to come from above. It's the job of government: of Congress, of the courts, and of the president. These are the people who have the ability to investigate how things became so bad, rein in the rogue agency, and establish new systems of transparency, oversight, and accountability.

Any solution we devise will make the NSA less efficient at its eavesdropping job. That's a trade-off we should be willing to make, just as we accept reduced police efficiency caused by requiring warrants for searches and warning suspects that they have the right to an attorney before answering police questions. We do this because we realize that a too-powerful police force is itself a danger, and we need to balance our need for public safety with our aversion of a police state.

The same reasoning needs to apply to the NSA. We want it to eavesdrop on our enemies, but it needs to do so in a way that doesn't trample on the constitutional rights of Americans, or fundamentally jeopardize their privacy or security. This means that sometimes the NSA won't get to eavesdrop, just as the protections we put in place to restrain police sometimes result in a criminal getting away. This is a trade-off we need to make willingly and openly, because overall we are safer that way.

Once we do this, there needs to be a cultural change within the NSA. Like at the FBI and CIA after past abuses, the NSA needs new leadership committed to changing its culture. And giving up power.

Our society can handle the occasional terrorist act; we're resilient, and -- if we decided to act that way -- indomitable. But a government agency that is above the law ... it's hard to see how America and its freedoms can survive that.

NSA chief Keith Alexander and top deputy will abdicate in coming months | Ars Technica

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View all'...US officials speaking to Reuters today said that Army General Keith Alexander has officially made plans to leave his position as head of the National Security Agency by next March or April. The sources also said that Alexander's civilian deputy, John "Chris" Inglis, will retire at the end of the year.

That void of power would permit President Obama a chance to appoint new leaders to the NSA, which has suffered serious scrutiny in the aftermath of the leaks made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The leaks have detailed a dragnet approach to surveillance in which metadata of American communications are collected by the NSA en masse. Still, the NSA's policies have been staunchly defended by Alexander since being made public.

General Alexander has led the NSA since 2005. There are apparently no plans to name a successor yet, although Reuters points to Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, currently commander of the US Navy's 10th Fleet and US Fleet Cyber Command, as a favorite. The news outlet notes that such a move could potentially lead to a combination of the NSA and Cyber Command, which is authorized to engage in both defensive and offensive operations. But internally at the NSA, that move might not be popular. ''Many NSA veterans argue that having the same person lead the spy agency and Cyber Command diminishes the emphasis on the NSA's work and its unique capabilities,'' writes Reuters.

Inglis, for his part, is a computer security scientist who was named the second-ranking official at the NSA in 2006. Both men are said to be leaving their positions voluntarily.

U.S. eavesdropping agency chief, top deputy expected to depart soon | Reuters

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General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), chief of the Central Security Service (CSS) and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, speaks during the Black Hat USA 2013 hacker convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada July 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus

By Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:22pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The director of the U.S. National Security Agency and his deputy are expected to depart in the coming months, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in a development that could give President Barack Obama a chance to reshape the eavesdropping agency.

Army General Keith Alexander's eight-year tenure was rocked this year by revelations contained in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's widespread scooping up of telephone, email and social-media data.

Alexander has formalized plans to leave by next March or April, while his civilian deputy, John "Chris" Inglis, is due to retire by year's end, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One leading candidate to replace Alexander is Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, currently commander of the U.S. Navy's 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, officials told Reuters. The 10th Fleet and Fleet Cyber Command both have their headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, between Washington and Baltimore. The NSA is also headquartered at Fort Meade.

There has been no final decision on selecting Rogers to succeed Alexander, and other candidates may be considered, the officials said.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said Alexander planned to leave office in the spring after three extensions to his tenure, and the process for picking his successor was still under way.

"This has nothing to do with media leaks, the decision for his retirement was made prior; an agreement was made with the (Secretary of Defense) and the Chairman for one more year - to March 2014," Vines told Reuters in an email.

Alexander has served as NSA director since August 2005, making him its longest-serving chief. He also serves as commander of a related military unit, the U.S. Cyber Command.

Alexander, who has vigorously defended the NSA's activities as lawful and necessary to detect and disrupt terrorist plots, said previously he planned to leave in the first half of 2014.

Inglis, who began his NSA career as a computer security scientist, has been the NSA's second-ranking official since 2006.

The NSA - which spies on electronic communications of all kinds and protects U.S. government communications - has been one of the most secretive of all U.S. intelligence outfits. Its employees used to joke that NSA stood for either "No Such Agency" or "Never Say Anything."

But the agency became the focus of controversy this year when Snowden leaked to the media tens of thousands of highly classified documents from the NSA and its British eavesdropping partner.


While both Alexander and Inglis are leaving voluntarily, the dual vacancies give Obama an opportunity to install new leadership following Snowden's revelations and to decide whether the NSA and Cyber Command should have separate leaders.

Cyber Command, which has grown significantly in recent years, has the authority to engage in both defensive and offensive operations in cyberspace. Many NSA veterans argue that having the same person lead the spy agency and Cyber Command diminishes the emphasis on the NSA's work and its unique capabilities.

Rogers has been the Navy's top cyber commander since September 2011. Before that, he was director of intelligence for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and for the U.S. Pacific Command.

Rogers is "a good leader, very insightful and well thought of within the community," said a U.S. defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Gary Roughead, who retired as the Navy's top uniformed officer in September 2011, said Rogers would be a good choice.

"During my time as CNO (chief of naval operations), I spent a great deal of time and attention on cyber, or as we characterized it, information dominance. Mike Rogers was the best in the business and a widely recognized leader in shaping the future in that important domain," he told Reuters. "He would be an extraordinary successor to Keith Alexander."

(Additional reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Tabassum Zakaria, Andrea Shala-Esa and Deborah Charles in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

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RED BOOK DENIAL! Inglis Replaces Napolitano as Secretary of Homelan - The Red Book


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves...

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 14:46

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves Government's Application to Renew Telephony Metadata Program

October 11, 2013

As indicated by a declassified court order and amended memorandum opinion published by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Sept. 17, 2013, the court authorization requiring the production of certain telephony metadata under the ''business records'' provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. Section 1861, expires Oct. 11, 2013.

Previously on several occasions, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority.

The administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order.

Shawn TurnerDirector of Public AffairsOffice of the Director of National Intelligence


The NSA Is Scanning Your Facebook Friends and Email Contacts

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Source: Valleywag

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 06:07

Cool, more things to be terrified of: the Washington Post has more Ed Snowden slides detailing our federal government's data mining operations, and they are bad. Hundreds of millions of address books across Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other various inboxes are subject to secret NSA collection.

The contact lists, both American and foreign, are sucked into governmental hands in bulk, says the Post:

Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.

During a single day last year, the NSA's Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250'‰million per year.

These "collections" are intercepted along the infrastructural foundations of the internet, in collaboration with other security agencies and data providers'--it's unclear to what extent companies like Facebook cooperate, even reluctantly. If nothing else, this newest, innumerable sign that our daily tech routines are subject to surveillance shows that people really are using Yahoo! products. Good job, Marissa Mayer.

The NSA's problem? Too much data. - The Washington Post

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Tue, 15 Oct 2013 06:13

The National Security Agency's Special Source Operations branch manages "partnerships" in which U.S. and foreign telecommunications companies allow the NSA to use their facilities to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other data. This briefing describes problems with overcollection of data from e-mail address books and buddy lists, as well as NSA efforts to filter out what it does not need.

>> NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

Click to see the related section of the document.

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]]> GRAPHIC: Barton Gellman and Matt DeLong - The Washington Post.


Ministry of Truth


Exclusive: Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media venture

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Tue, 15 Oct 2013 23:38

Exclusive: Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media ventureTop News

Exclusive: Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media venture

Tue, Oct 15 19:06 PM EDT

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Glenn Greenwald, who has made headlines around the world with his reporting on U.S. electronic surveillance programs, is leaving the Guardian newspaper to join a new media venture funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to people familiar with the matter.

Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and was among the first to report information provided by one-time U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that he was presented with a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity" that he could not pass up.

He did not reveal any specifics of the new media venture but said details would be announced soon. Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two sources familiar with the new venture said the financial backer was Omidyar. It was not immediately clear if he was the only backer or if there were other partners.

Omidyar could not immediately be reached for comment.

Omidyar, who is chairman of the board at eBay Inc but is not involved in day-to-day operations at the company, has numerous philanthropic, business and political interests, mainly through an investment entity called the Omidyar Network.

Forbes pegged the 46-year-old Omidyar's net worth at $8.5 billion.

Among his ventures is Honolulu Civil Beat, a news website covering public affairs in Hawaii. Civil Beat aimed to create a new online journalism model with paid subscriptions and respectful comment threads, though it is unclear how successful it has been.

Omidyar, a French-born Iranian-American, also founded the Democracy Fund to support "social entrepreneurs working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public," according to its website.

Omidyar's active Twitter account suggests he is very concerned about the government spying programs exposed by Greenwald and Snowden.

The former NSA contractor was granted asylum in Russia on August 1. He is living in a secret location beyond the reach of U.S. authorities who want him on espionage charges because he leaked the details of top-secret electronic spying programs to the media.

"There goes freedom of association: NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally," Omidyar tweeted on Tuesday, pointing to a new Washington Post story based on Snowden documents.

Jennifer Lindauer, a spokeswoman for the Guardian, said in a statement posted on Greenwald's site: "We are of course disappointed by Glenn's decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best."

The news of Greenwald's departure from the Guardian was reported earlier by Buzzfeed.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York and Jonathan Weber in San Francisco; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Grant McCool)

Exclusive: Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media ventureTop News

Exclusive: Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media venture

Tue, Oct 15 19:06 PM EDT

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Glenn Greenwald, who has made headlines around the world with his reporting on U.S. electronic surveillance programs, is leaving the Guardian newspaper to join a new media venture funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to people familiar with the matter.

Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and was among the first to report information provided by one-time U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that he was presented with a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity" that he could not pass up.

He did not reveal any specifics of the new media venture but said details would be announced soon. Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two sources familiar with the new venture said the financial backer was Omidyar. It was not immediately clear if he was the only backer or if there were other partners.

Omidyar could not immediately be reached for comment.

Omidyar, who is chairman of the board at eBay Inc but is not involved in day-to-day operations at the company, has numerous philanthropic, business and political interests, mainly through an investment entity called the Omidyar Network.

Forbes pegged the 46-year-old Omidyar's net worth at $8.5 billion.

Among his ventures is Honolulu Civil Beat, a news website covering public affairs in Hawaii. Civil Beat aimed to create a new online journalism model with paid subscriptions and respectful comment threads, though it is unclear how successful it has been.

Omidyar, a French-born Iranian-American, also founded the Democracy Fund to support "social entrepreneurs working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public," according to its website.

Omidyar's active Twitter account suggests he is very concerned about the government spying programs exposed by Greenwald and Snowden.

The former NSA contractor was granted asylum in Russia on August 1. He is living in a secret location beyond the reach of U.S. authorities who want him on espionage charges because he leaked the details of top-secret electronic spying programs to the media.

"There goes freedom of association: NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally," Omidyar tweeted on Tuesday, pointing to a new Washington Post story based on Snowden documents.

Jennifer Lindauer, a spokeswoman for the Guardian, said in a statement posted on Greenwald's site: "We are of course disappointed by Glenn's decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best."

The news of Greenwald's departure from the Guardian was reported earlier by Buzzfeed.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York and Jonathan Weber in San Francisco; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Grant McCool)

Pierre Omidyar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 02:13

Pierre Morad Omidyar (Persian: پیر مراد امیدیار'Ž, born June 21, 1967) is a French-born Iranian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is the founder and chairman of the eBay auction site.[3] He became a billionaire at the age of 31 with eBay's 1998 IPO.[2] Omidyar and his wife Pamela are well-known philanthropists who founded Omidyar Network in 2004 in order to expand their efforts beyond non-profits to include for-profits and public policy. Since 2010 Omidyar has been invoved in online journalism by heading investigative reporting and public affairs news service Honolulu Civil Beat.

Biography[edit]Personal life[edit]Omidyar was born in Paris, France to Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent by his grandparents to attend university there.[4] His mother Elah(C) Mir-Djalali Omidyar (Persian:Elāhe Mirjalāli Omidyār), who did her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne, is a well-known academic.[5] His father was an Iranian surgeon.[6] The family moved to the US when Omidyar was a child.

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Pierre's interest in computers began at the Potomac School, which started to increase when he was in the 9th grade. He attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. He graduated from St. Andrew's in 1984, and in 1988, he graduated with a degree in computer science from Tufts University. Shortly after, Omidyar went to work for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he helped write MacDraw. In 1991 he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that was later rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop.

eBay and later career[edit]In 1995, at the age of 28, Omidyar began to write the original computer code for an online venue to enable the listing of a direct person-to-person auction for collectible items. He created a simple prototype on his personal web page, and on Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 1995 he launched an online service called Auction Web which would eventually become the auction site eBay.[7]

It was hosted on a site Omidyar had created for information on the ebola virus. The first item sold on the site was not a Pez dispenser, but a broken laser pointer. Omidyar was astonished that anyone would pay for the device in its broken state, but the buyer assured him he was deliberately collecting broken laser pointers. Similar surprises followed. The business exploded as correspondents began to register trade goods of an unimaginable variety. Omidyar incorporated the enterprise; the small fee he collected on each sale financed the expansion of the site. The revenue soon outstripped his salary at General Magic, and nine months later Omidyar decided to dedicate his full attention to his new enterprise.

In 1996, Omidyar signed a licensing deal to offer airline tickets online, by which time the site had hosted 250,000 auctions. In the first month of 1997, it hosted 2 million. By the middle of that year, eBay was hosting nearly 800,000 auctions a day.[7]

In 1997 Pierre Omidyar changed the company's name to eBay and began to advertise the service aggressively. The word 'eBay' was made up on the fly by Omidyar when he was told that his first choice for his web site, 'echobay,' had already been registered. Not wanting to make a second trip to Sacramento, he came up with 'eBay.' The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fianc(C)e trade Pez candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book[8] and confirmed by eBay. The service was free at first, but started charging in order to cover internet service provider costs. But, as of September 2013, despite massively increasingly profits, eBay still charge 10% of most/all sales as a final sale fee.

Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as President and CEO and continued to run the company until January 2008 when she announced her retirement. In September 1998, eBay launched a successful public offering, making both Omidyar and Skoll billionaires. As of July 2008[update], Omidyar's 178 million eBay shares were worth around $4.45 billion.[9] Omidyar is also an investor of Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, California.

In 2010, Omidyar launched online investigative reporting news service Honolulu Civil Beat covering civic affairs in Hawaii. The site has been named Best News Website in Hawaii for three consecutive years.[10] On September 4, 2013, Honolulu Civil Beat started a partnership with The Huffington Post launching the weblog's latest regional addition HuffPost Hawaii.

Omidyar Network[edit]Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $270 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including property rights, government transparency, and social media.

According to Forbes, Pierre Omidyar is worth $8.7 billion (US) as of March 2013, making him the 123rd richest person in the world and 42nd richest U.S. resident. He is the richest Iranian and the fifth richest French person.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]See also[edit]References[edit]External links[edit]Business positionsPreceded byNew titleChairman of eBay1995 '' presentSucceeded byIncumbentPersondataNameOmidyar, PierreAlternative namesShort descriptionIranian-American businessmanDate of birth1967-06-21Place of birthParis, FranceDate of deathPlace of death

Civil Beat Partners - Honolulu Civil Beat

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 02:12

When Civil Beat started in May 2010, the idea of paying for online news was relatively novel. Today, many newspapers have adopted this model, including The New York Times. We believe that journalism should evolve the way technology has over the years. That's why we've partnered with businesses and organizations that understand how critical it is to be dynamic and current. Our partnerships help foster an understanding of how local news affects our community.

Why Pierre Omidyar decided to join forces with Glenn Greenwald for a new venture in news >> Pressthink

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:43

Here's the story he told me:

In the spring of this year, Pierre Omidyar was one of the people approached by the Washington Post Company about buying the Post. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, wound up with the prize. But as a result of exploring that transaction, Omidyar started thinking seriously about investing in a news property. He began to ask himself what could be done with the same investment if he decided to build something from the ground up.

As he was contemplating the Post purchase, he began to get more alarmed about the pressures coming down on journalists with the various leak investigations in Washington. Then the surveillance stories started appearing and the full scope of the threat to independent journalism became clear. His interest in launching a new kind of news organization '-- capable of sustaining investigative work and having an effect with it '-- intensified throughout the summer as news from the Snowden files continued to pour forth.

Attempts to meet with Greenwald to discuss these plans and to find out more about how he operates were unsuccessful until this month. When they finally were able to talk, Omidyar learned that Greenwald, his collaborator Laura Poitras, and The Nation magazine's Jeremy Scahill had been planning to form their own journalism venture. Their ideas and Omidyar's ideas tracked so well with each other that on October 5 they decided to ''join forces'' (his term.) This is the news that leaked yesterday. But there is more.

Omidyar believes that if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn't brought to the attention of general audiences it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power. Therefore the new entity '-- they have a name but they're not releasing it, so I will just call it NewCo '-- will have to serve the interest of all kinds of news consumers. It cannot be a niche product. It will have to cover sports, business, entertainment, technology: everything that users demand.

At the core of Newco will be a different plan for how to build a large news organization. It resembles what I called in an earlier post ''the personal franchise model'' in news. You start with individual journalists who have their own reputations, deep subject matter expertise, clear points of view, an independent and outsider spirit, a dedicated online following, and their own way of working. The idea is to attract these people to NewCo, or find young journalists capable of working in this way, and then support them well.

By ''support'' Omidyar means many things. The first and most important is really good editors. (Omidyar used the phrase ''high standards of editing'' several times during our talk.) Also included: strong back end technology. Powerful publishing tools. Research assistance. And of course a strong legal team because the kind of journalism NewCo intends to practice is the kind that is capable of challenging some of the most powerful people in the world. Omidyar said NewCo will look for ''independent journalists with expertise, and a voice and a following.'' He suggested that putting together a team of such people means understanding how each of them does his or her best work, and supporting that, rather than forcing everyone into the same structure.

Part of the reason he thinks he can succeed with a general news product, where there is a lot of competition, is by finding the proper midpoint between voicey blogging and traditional journalism, in which the best of both are combined. The trick will then be to combine that with the things technology companies are good at.

''Companies in Silicon Valley invest a lot in understanding their users and what drives user engagement,'' he said, mentioning Netflix as a clear example. NewCo will have to serve users of news in the same personalized way, he said. He didn't want to reveal too much at this stage, but as the founder of eBay he clearly has ideas about how a next generation news company can be built from the ground up.

NewCo is a new venture'-- a company not a charity. It is not a project of Omidyar Network. It is separate from his philanthropy, he said. He said he will be putting a good deal of his time, as well as his capital, into it. I asked how large a commitment he was prepared to make in dollars. For starters: the $250 million it would have taken to buy the Washington Post.

I asked him if Greenwald was closer to a lead writer or an executive editor. He said the agreement to join forces was so new that they had not discussed roles and responsibilities. All they know is that they want to work together to create NewCo. Poitras will bring expertise in video and documentary. Scahill is a somewhat similar figure to Greenwald: an independent national security journalist with editorial obsessions in which he has become expert.

Why is Omidyar doing this? He said that his involvement in Civil Beat (a news site he started in Hawaii) stoked his appetite to try something larger in news. ''I have always been of the opinion that the right kind of journalism is a critical part of our democracy.'' He said he had watched closely over the last 15 years as the business model in journalism collapsed but he had not ''found a way to engage directly.'' But then when the idea of buying the Washington Post came up he started to think about it more seriously. ''It brings together some of my interests in civic engagement and building conversations and of course technology, but in a very creative way.''

A final factor. His ''rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world.'' The U.S. has the First Amendment. When the freedom to practice hard-hitting investigative journalism comes under threat here, he said, that's not only a problem for our democracy but for the chances that democracy can work anywhere. NewCo will be designed to withstand that threat.

Now for the disclosure: As Omidyar was making the rounds to talk to people about his plans I was one of those he consulted with. That happened in September. So he knew I was familiar with his thinking and that's probably why he chose to talk to me. That's my initial report. I may have more to say as I sift through my notes and think about what he told me.

UPDATE, 1:00 PM Oct 16: An additional detail that I should have mentioned: the business model isn't fully worked out yet, but this much is known: all proceeds from NewCo will be reinvested in the journalism. Also: there is no print product planned. This is all-digital.

From Omidyar's own statement at his foundation's site, My Next Adventure in Journalism.

I explored purchasing The Washington Post over the summer. [Through that] I developed an interest in supporting independent journalists in a way that leverages their work to the greatest extent possible, all in support of the public interest. And, I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens. I think there's more that can be done in this space, and I'm eager to explore the possibilities.

Right now, I'm in the very early stages of creating a new mass media organization. I don't yet know how or when it will be rolled out, or what it will look like.

What I can tell you is that the endeavor will be independent of my other organizations, and that it will cover general interest news, with a core mission around supporting and empowering independent journalists across many sectors and beats. The team will build a media platform that elevates and supports these journalists and allows them to pursue the truth in their fields. This doesn't just mean investigative reporting, but all news.

At Poynter, John Temple, who was editor of Omidyar's Civil Beat when it launched, says: ''He's got a journalist's sensibility. He enjoyed the hunt for a story, and he's very open to experimenting with how to tell the story and using contemporary approaches.'' That said, Omidyar ''gives you the space to do your job.''

UPDATE, 3:00 PM. Some additional thoughts after processing the news: I think it's highly significant that Omidyar is coming to this project after his adventure in creating Civil Beat. (For more on that, see this account at Nieman Lab.) Civil Beat started off as a pay site with a high price tag ($20 per month) and then sought a partnership with Huffington Post Hawaii, so as to combine the benefits of the high traffic, advertising model with the smaller-reach, paid subscriber system. That shows the kind of tinkering necessary to get to sustainability.

But note: What Omidyar learned from trying to create a serious, civic good with online journalism in Hawaii did not discourage him from attempting something larger. On the contrary, his appetite only grew. Thus, the chances that he is heading into this with a naivet(C) about the economy of digital news production seem to me quite slim. Many of the illusions he started with '-- we could also call them hunches '-- have already been modified by experience. And out of that experience has come this much bigger gamble, with a quarter billion dollars behind it. That says a lot.

Reacting to the news of Omidyar's investment, Dave Winer writes: ''Key idea: News orgs not only have expertise at creating news, they are great at consuming it too. Use that to help define the news reading experience of the future.''

Snowden Journalist's New Venture to Be Bankrolled by eBay Founder -

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:30

For years, the tech billionaire Pierre M. Omidyar has been experimenting with ways to promote serious journalism, searching for the proper media platform to support with the fortune he earned as the founder of eBay. He has made grants to independent media outlets in Africa and government watchdog groups in the United States. In a more direct effort, he created a news Web site in Hawaii, his home state.

Then last summer, The Washington Post came calling in its pursuit of a buyer. The Graham family ended up selling The Post to a different tech billionaire, Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon. But the experience, Mr. Omidyar wrote on his blog on Wednesday, ''got me thinking about what kind of social impact could be created if a similar investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up.''

Mr. Omidyar also confirmed that he would be personally financing just such a new ''mass media'' venture, where he will be joined by the journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, the British daily. Mr. Greenwald gained notoriety this summer when he reported on the revelations about National Security Agency surveillance contained in papers leaked by Edward J. Snowden.

The details of the project are vague. ''I don't yet know how or when it will be rolled out, or what it will look like,'' Mr. Omidyar wrote.

What is clear is that Mr. Greenwald will be there, and he is expected to be joined by Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who was the crucial conduit between Mr. Snowden and Mr. Greenwald.

Together, Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras possess a vast trove of documents from Mr. Snowden related to government surveillance and other secret matters. Mr. Greenwald has made it clear that he has much more material from Mr. Snowden to go through and many articles yet to write.

That means that Mr. Omidyar and his media site could well be in the middle of the tussle between the government and news groups over how to balance a free press against concerns about national security, perhaps making him a new adversary for agencies trying to prevent the disclosure of secret information.

Mr. Greenwald stressed in an interview Tuesday night that he would not be the editor or manager of the site, saying, ''I will be doing the journalism.''

Mr. Omidyar wrote on Wednesday that the project was something he ''would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist.''

Mr. Omidyar and Mr. Greenwald came together after developing a growing respect that was built around shared causes like protection for journalists and a revulsion at government surveillance tactics.

Mr. Omidyar '-- who declined an interview request but released a statement and spoke to the New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen '-- describes a happy coincidence: just as he was looking to start his project, Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras, along with the reporter and author Jeremy Scahill, ''were already on a path to create an online space to support independent journalists.''

''We had a lot of overlap in terms of our ideas, and decided to join forces,'' he wrote.

Mr. Rosen, on his blog, outlined some of Mr. Omidyar's thinking: while Mr. Greenwald, Ms. Poitras and Mr. Scahill have focused on national security and United States foreign policy, the new project will be of more general interest. Mr. Rosen, paraphrasing Mr. Omidyar, writes that the project would not be a niche product, and that it would cover sports, business, entertainment and technology.

When asked how large his financial commitment would be, Mr. Rosen writes, Mr. Omidyar referred to the $250 million it would have taken to buy The Post as a starting point.

Mr. Omidyar was born in Paris to Iranians, and was raised mostly around Washington. He created the original software for eBay's online sales system in 1995. The company became a runaway success that changed Mr. Omidyar's life beyond the billions he eventually made in eBay stock. Creating a mostly unregulated commerce system where strangers could successfully transact with others taught him that ''at the end of the day people are trying to do the right thing,'' as he said to a gathering of nonprofit groups in Hawaii in 2011.

Mr. Omidyar, 45, is chairman of eBay, but for more than a decade has not been active in the day-to-day running of the organization.

He decided to devote some of his fortune to philanthropy, but has said he was discouraged by traditional models, which he says can often reward bad outcomes. He named his major philanthropic organization the Omidyar Network to avoid connotations of being a charity, and has made many donations aimed at creating self-sustaining businesses.

He has also sought to have an impact commensurate with what he feels his wealth can accomplish, one that his local news site, Honolulu Civil Beat, couldn't satisfy. The new venture apparently is the latest manifestation of his ambition to create a big, important media property.

The Twitter streams of Mr. Omidyar and Mr. Greenwald show that they had been moving toward each other over the last year. Mr. Omidyar frequently reposts Twitter messages from Mr. Greenwald about concerns like protecting journalists from government prosecution. One Twitter conversation about the Snowden documents culminated with Mr. Omidyar writing to Mr. Greenwald, ''you've been the most consistent and knowledgeable reporter on illegal (and now supposed legal) wiretapping since Bush disclosure.''

David Carr contributed reporting.

My Next Adventure in Journalism '' Omidyar Group

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Pierre OmidyarOmidyarGroup.comOctober 16, 2013PrintAs many of you know, I've had an interest in journalism for some time now. I've been working on Civil Beat for three years and through my philanthropic work at Omidyar Network and Democracy Fund, we've supported many efforts around the world related to media, citizen engagement, and government transparency and accountability.

Separate from my work with Omidyar Network and Democracy Fund, and as part of my growing interest to preserve and strengthen the role journalism plays in society, I explored purchasing The Washington Post over the summer. That process got me thinking about what kind of social impact could be created if a similar investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up. Something that I would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist.

I developed an interest in supporting independent journalists in a way that leverages their work to the greatest extent possible, all in support of the public interest. And, I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens. I think there's more that can be done in this space, and I'm eager to explore the possibilities.

Right now, I'm in the very early stages of creating a new mass media organization. I don't yet know how or when it will be rolled out, or what it will look like.

What I can tell you is that the endeavor will be independent of my other organizations, and that it will cover general interest news, with a core mission around supporting and empowering independent journalists across many sectors and beats. The team will build a media platform that elevates and supports these journalists and allows them to pursue the truth in their fields. This doesn't just mean investigative reporting, but all news.

As part of my learning process, I recently reached out to Glenn Greenwald to find out what journalists like him need to do their jobs well. As it turns out, he and his colleagues Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, were already on a path to create an online space to support independent journalists. We had a lot of overlap in terms of our ideas, and decided to join forces.

I believe that independent journalists like Glenn, Laura, and Jeremy play an important role in our society. We'll be working with them and others, but we have a long way to go in terms of what the organization looks like, people's roles and responsibilities '-- all of those things still need to be worked out.

I'll be sure to update you along the way as the new organization progresses.


What the Independent tells us about the Guardian's crimes

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:35

Julian Smith MP has filed a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about the Guardian and its potential breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the Act, it is a terrorist offence to communicate names, or any identifying material, of GCHQ personnel '' not just to publish those names, but to communicate them.

The Guardian shipped GCHQ files to American bloggers and the New York Times. In so doing they did a lot more than journalism, ie receiving files and reporting on them. They became traffickers and distributors.

They have refused to answer my questions on Twitter as to whether their trafficked files included names of GCHQ staff, issuing a classic non-denial denial to the Daily Mail that reads like an admission: ''We did not include the names of any British spies.'' Spies? It's a terrorist offence to communicate identifying info on any GCHQ personnel.

Well, the Guardian gets all the love and money from this betrayal of our security forces, but there's another British paper that got to see the Snowden files. The Independent, in August, ran a story about a secret British base in the Middle East.

I believe this story was abominably irresponsible and a betrayal of national security. The excuse was the paper didn't provide an address and a map. So what? They revealed the existence of the base and put all its operations and operatives in jeapoardy.

However, and it is a big however, the Independent here was ''committing journalism'' as the Guardian likes to put it when trying to avoid the police. They received the files and they reported on them. Irresponsibly and morally wrongly, but that's all they did,

They didn't copy the files. They didn't traffic the files. They didn't hand the files to foreigner papers and bloggers. They just reported on them.

Once the Telegraph and the Daily Mail '' to their eternal credit '' started to challenge the Guardian's muling and commercial trading on our agents' safety, the Independent published this little-noted editorial. But for the purposes of the police investigation, it is a crucial one, because it tells us just exactly what Guardian editors copied and gave to foreigners in order to get their dying paper more money from online clicks.

In August, we too were given information from the Snowden files. It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain's security.

I think that's pretty damned clear.

Yes, it is ludicrous that the Independent thinks publishing a front-page story revealing a secret British Middle Eastern base is not ''sensitive'' or ''damaging''. But they are informing their readers '' roughly the same base as the Guardian, the liberal left '' just how awful the GCHQ Snowden files are.

Glenn Greenwald, who has now left the Guardian for a French-funded company with his fellow traitor Laura Poitras, was kind enough to tell the world on Twitter that Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson were concerned not to expose any NSA spying, but merely to endanger British operations. He told us what the documents they copied and muled to a blog and the NYT were on September 10th

@peterkofod As for NYT, I had no role at all in that '' those were 1 set of docs only about UK that G had. They made that choice without me.

Julian Smith MP's letter does more than ask the police to investigate if GCHQ personnel were identified in these ''just about Britain'' documents the Guardian trafficked to foreigners. He also asks the police to compel Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson to help in decryption efforts. After all, they have the documents, and they are happy to hand them to bloggers. And from the Independent, we know that the documents could not be more dangerous to the security of this nation. If a British commercial media company is sitting on the decyrption key, they have to hand it over to our intelligence forces. Instead of helping the police and GCHQ see what damage has been done, which agents' names are out there, and assisting them in saving lives, Rusbridger has admitted online that he has actively prevented this vital information being accessed:

Alan Rusbridger: Yes. And many of them are now with the NYT

Julian Smith MP has taken direct action by referring all of this to anti-terrorist police. But of course, it is a question for the Government too. The Home Office Committee is now investigating the Guardian. I have no doubt they will rightly ask ministers if they asked the Guardian for access to these terrible documents and if denied, whether and when they sought an injunction or subpoena to compel this commercial company to give the security forces access.

Once again, thanks to the Independent's honesty in its editorial, we know the stakes for our intelligence services could not be higher.

It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain's security.

I believe that anti-terror police are already actively on to breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. But the Government, for whom defence of the realm is its first duty, must also play its part and not be cowed by the Guardian-BBC axis. We must never let fear of the press stop us from doing the right thing. The legal tools are there to compel the Guardian to share access to these files not just with commercial papers and bloggers but with the forces that defend us. In the same Q&A Rusbridger also said this:

Would The Guardian have been willing to hand #NSAfiles copy to authorities if there hadn't been threat of prior restraint? #myNSAquestion

Alan Rusbridger: We had not yet decided what eventually to do with the original material at the point the Government asked us to return it or destroy it.

Theresa May and the Home Office should help Mr. Rusbridger to make up his mind. 'Destroying' it is not an option now the Guardian has distributed and trafficked it. Instead, Rusbridger and Gibson, who have access to it, must share that access with our security forces. As the Indie has told us clearly, national security is at stake.

Guardian vs Daily Mail: This newspaper took care not to publish sensitive data from the Snowden files - Editorials - Voices - The Independent

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There is much that we do not know about this story, such as what information The Guardian redacted, what advice it received from the Government, and what terrorists might do with the information that was put into the public domain. But our readers should know that The Independent has also contributed to the debate.

In August, we too were given information from the Snowden files. It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain's security. The result was a front-page story: ''UK's secret Mid-East internet-surveillance base.''

The story pointed out that we declined to publish much of the most sensational information '' an editorial decision that was informed by the Defence Advisory Notice system, a voluntary code which is run by the Government. We did this in the interest of national security.

''My first concern,'' wrote George Orwell, ''is to get a hearing.'' All journalists want to be heard, of course. But the best journalists must know when to shut up, too.


Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Honor to Captain William D. Swenson | The White House

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:13

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 15, 2013

East Room

2:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.

Last month, the United States Army released a remarkable piece of video. It's from the combat helmet cameras of a Medevac helicopter crew in Afghanistan. And it's shaky and it's grainy, but it takes us to the frontlines that our troops face every single day, and it's useful to remember that there is still a whole lot of our troops in Afghanistan in harm's way. In that video, as the helicopter touches down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier. He's without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier.

He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter and places him inside. And then, amidst the whipping wind and the deafening roar of the helicopter blades, he does something unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head -- a simple act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the battle.

In our nation's history, we have presented our highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, nearly 3,500 times for actions above and beyond the call of duty. But this may be the first time that we can actually bear witness to a small fraction of those actions for ourselves. And today we honor the American in that video -- the soldier who went back in -- Captain William Swenson.

Not far away that day was then-Corporal Dakota Meyer, to whom we presented the Medal of Honor two years ago. Today is only the second time in nearly half a century that the Medal of Honor has been awarded to two survivors of the same battle. Dakota is not here today, but I want to welcome some of the soldiers and Marines who fought alongside both these men -- and the families of those who gave their lives that day.

I want to welcome all of our distinguished guests, including members of the Medal of Honor Society, whose ranks today grow by one more. Most of all, I want to welcome Will's wonderful parents, Julia and Carl -- and Will's girlfriend, Kelsey. Had a chance to visit with them. Both Carl and Julia are former college professors, so instead of a house full of GI Joes, Will grew up in Seattle surrounded by educational games. (Laughter.) I'm told that even when Will was little, his mom was always a stickler for grammar -- always making sure he said ''to whom'' instead of ''to who.'' (Laughter.) So I'm going to be very careful today. (Laughter.)

I just had a chance to spend some time with them, and I have to say Will is a pretty low-key guy. His idea of a good time isn't a big ceremony like this one. He'd rather be somewhere up in the mountains, or on a trail, surrounded by cedar trees instead of cameras. But I think our nation needs this ceremony today. Moments like this, Americans like Will, remind us what our country can be at its best -- a nation of citizens who look out for one another; who meet our obligations to one another, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard. Maybe especially when it's hard.

Will, you're an example to everyone in this city, and to our whole country of the professionalism and patriotism that we should strive for -- whether we wear the uniform or not -- not just on particular occasions, but all the time.

For those who aren't familiar with the story of the battle that led Will to be here today, I want to take you back to that September morning four years ago. It's around sunrise. A column of Afghan soldiers and their American advisors are winding their way up a narrow trail towards a village to meet with elders -- but just as the first soldier reaches the outskirts of the village, all hell breaks loose.

Almost instantly, four Americans -- three Marines, one Navy -- at the front of the column are surrounded. Will and the soldiers in the center of the column are pinned down. Rocket-propelled grenade, mortar, machine gun fire, all of this is pouring in from three sides.

As he returns fire, Will calls for air support. But his initial requests are denied -- Will and his team are too close to the village. And then Will learns that his noncommissioned officer, Sergeant First Class Kenneth Westbrook, has been shot in the neck. So Will breaks across 50 meters of open space, bullets biting all around; lying on his back, he presses a bandage to Kenneth's wounds with one hand and calls for a Medevac with the other, trying to keep his buddy calm.

By this time, the enemy has gotten even closer -- just 20 or 30 meters away, and over the radio, they're demanding the Americans to surrender. So Will stops treating Kenneth long enough to respond by lobbing a grenade.

And finally, after more than an hour and a half of fighting, air support arrives. Will directs them to nearby targets. Then it's time to move, so exposing himself again to enemy fire, Will helps carry Kenneth the length of more than two football fields, down steep terraces, to that helicopter. And then, in the moment captured by those cameras, Will leans in to say goodbye.

But more Americans and more Afghans are still out there. So Will does something incredible. He jumps behind the wheel of an unarmored Ford Ranger pickup truck. A Marine gets in the passenger seat. And they drive that truck -- this is a vehicle designed for the highway -- straight into the battle.

Twice, they pick up injured Afghan soldiers -- bullets whizzing past them, slamming into the pickup truck. Twice they bring them back. When the truck gives out, they grab a Humvee. The Marine by Will's side has no idea how they survived. But, he says, ''By that time it didn't matter. We weren't going to leave any soldiers behind.''

Finally, a helicopter spots those four missing Americans -- hours after they were trapped in the opening ambush. So Will gets in another Humvee, with a crew that includes Dakota Meyer. And together, they drive. Past enemy fighters, up through the valley, exposed once more. And when they reach the village, Will jumps out -- drawing even more fire, dodging even more bullets. But they reach those Americans, lying where they fell. Will and the others carry them out, one by one. They bring their fallen brothers home.

Scripture tells us, ''The greatest among you shall be your servant.'' Captain Will Swenson was a leader on that September morning. But like all great leaders, he was also a servant -- to the men he commanded, to the more than a dozen Afghans and Americans whose lives he saved, to the families of those who gave their last full measure of devotion on that faraway field.

As one of his fellow soldiers later said, Will ''did things that nobody else would ever do, and he did it for his guys and for everybody on the ground, to get them out.''

That's why, after I called Will to tell him he'd be receiving this Medal, one of the first things he did was to invite to this ceremony those who fought alongside him. And I'd like all of those who served with such valor alongside Will, both Army and Marines, who fought for each other, please stand and be recognized. (Applause.) Thank you.

Will also reached out to the families of the four Americans who gave their lives that day. To them he wrote -- and I'm quoting Will now -- ''We have never met. We have never spoken. But I would like to believe that I know something about each of you through the actions of your loved ones on that day. They were part of a team. And you are now a part of that team.''

So I would ask the members of this team -- the families of First Lieutenant Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sergeant Edwin Johnson, Gunnery Sergeant Aaron Kenefick, and Hospitalman Third Class James Layton, as well as the family of Kenneth Westbrook -- to please stand. (Applause.)

Kenneth was the soldier Will delivered to the safety of that helicopter. After being airlifted out, he made it to Walter Reed. He started rehab and spent time with his wife, Charlene, who joins us here today. She still remembers the first time she spoke to Will, when he called from Afghanistan to check in on Kenneth.

Soon after that phone call, however, Kenneth took a turn for the worse. He succumbed to complications from his treatment. But I think it's fair to say that Charlene will always be grateful for the final days she was able to spend with her husband. And even now, a month rarely goes by when Will doesn't call or text, checking in with Charlene and her three boys. ''That's the kind of man he is,'' Charlene says about Will. ''You don't have to ask Will for help. He just knows when to be there for you.''

So Will Swenson was there for his brothers. He was there for their families. As a nation, we thank God that patriots like him are there for us all.

So, Will, God bless you, and all the men that you fought alongside and everything that you've done for us. God bless all our men and women in uniform. And God bless the United States of America.

With that, I'd like my Military Aide to read the citation, please.

MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863,has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor toCaptain William D. Swenson, United States Army,For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain William D. Swenson distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as embedded advisor to the Afghan National Border Police, Task Force Phoenix, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in support of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.

On that morning, more than 60 well-armed, well-positioned enemy fighters ambushed Captain Swenson's combat team as it moved on foot into the village of Ganjgal for a meeting with village elders. As the enemy unleashed a barrage of rocket-propelled grenade, mortar and machine gun fire, Captain Swenson immediately returned fire and coordinated and directed the response of his Afghan Border Police, while simultaneously calling in suppressive artillery fire and aviation support. After the enemy effectively flanked Coalition Forces, Captain Swenson repeatedly called for smoke to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements. Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Captain Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support and medical evacuation helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded.

Captain Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender and maneuvered uncovered to render medical aid to a wounded fellow soldier. Captain Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, before assisting with moving the soldier for air evacuation. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Swenson unhesitatingly led a team in an unarmored vehicle into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire on at least two occasions, to recover the wounded and search for four missing comrades.

After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery of the fallen was required due to heavy enemy fire on helicopter landing zones. Captain Swenson's team returned to the kill zone another time in a Humvee. Captain Swenson voluntarily exited the vehicle, exposing himself to enemy fire, to locate and recover three fallen Marines and one fallen Navy corpsman.

His exceptional leadership and stout resistance against the enemy during six hours of continuous fighting rallied his teammates and effectively disrupted the enemy's assault. Captain William D. Swenson's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Task Force Phoenix, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and the United States Army.

(The Medal is presented.) (Applause.)

CHAPLAIN MAJOR GENERAL RUTHERFORD: Eternal God, we ask your blessing to rest upon us this day as we go forth in peace, inspired by the actions of courageous and good people; that we follow the example set by Captain Swenson and his team, people of valor, ready when the cause for which we have given our vow confronts us. Give us strength to live through troubled times. Fill us with grace equal to every need, and grant us the wisdom and the will to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly.

This we ask and pray in your holy name. Amen.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say once again, not only to Will, but all our men and women in uniform who have served us with such incredible courage and professionalism, that America is grateful for you. To the families of those we've lost, we will never forget.

And, Will, you are a remarkable role model for all of us, and we're very grateful for your service.

We are going to have a reception after this. I hear the food is pretty good around here. (Laughter.) And so I hope all of you have a chance to stay -- and those of you who have a chance to say thank you to Will, personally, obviously that's very welcome.

I'm going to be exiting with Will and Michelle first. We'll take a couple of pictures. But enjoy yourselves this afternoon.

God bless America. (Applause.)

END 2:34 P.M. EDT


Sandy Hook

Workers demolishing Sandy Hook Elementary School required to sign confidentiality agreements | Fox News

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Archived Version

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:40

Contractors demolishing Sandy Hook Elementary School are being required to sign confidentiality agreements forbidding public discussion of the site, photographs or disclosure of any information about the building where 26 people were fatally shot last December.

Selectman Will Rodgers said officials want to protect the Newtown school where the 20 children and six educators were killed, The News-Times reported.

"It's a very sensitive topic," he said Monday. "We want it to be handled in a respectful way."Project manager Consigli Construction has barricaded the property and intends to screen the perimeter to prevent onlookers from taking photographs. Full-time security guards will ensure the site is not disturbed.

Families of the victims and school staff visited the site, but public access is barred.

The precautions exceed those at other construction sites, town officials said.

Jim Juliano, a member of the Public Building and Site Commission, said he initially considered whether the heightened precautions might be excessive. But he believes extra vigilance is needed to shield Sandy Hook families and the community from exploitation.

Rodgers said the goal is to ensure the project is managed properly without interference from onlookers or the infliction of more pain on the community.

"Obviously, workers need access to the site, but inasmuch as we have put restrictions on our citizens, we don't really want those who are there somehow releasing information or recounting impressions of the site, given we are trying to move on, so to speak," Rodgers said.

Demolition is set to begin next week and be finished before the Dec. 14 anniversary of the shootings. A new school is expected to open by December 2016. Town voters last month accepted a state grant of $49.3 million to demolish the school and build a new one.


Vaping Executive Producer

Hello John and Adam,

I am a producer and have donated in the past, but please credit our video podcast as the donator for 557, $333.33.

VP Live Vape Team - -

I heard you guys talking about vaping on episode 556.

I have been vaping for over four years since the first products hit the market. I went from 1.5 packs per day to just vaping in around a week. I haven't had a cigarette since I started vaping. We have seen thousands of people quit smoking or dramatically reduce the amount of cigarettes they consume. I love how the product has helped me and my family so much, that I decided to start the podcast in 2011. We don't take money from the industry, but take free products as give aways. We fund the show out of our own pocket, YouTube ads, and with the occasional donation.

The FDA is about to regulate these products, it has been in progress for several years since the FDA declared them "tobacco products" in 2009, the regulation is supposed to drop this month but the government shutdown might delay it.

Ever since the ANTZ (Anti-Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots) found them on their radar, you find that representatives from groups like the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and the campaign for tobacco free kids are AGAINST these devices. Even though they clearly have many health benefits and actually help people reduce/quit smoking (no matter what Adam thinks, he's wrong).

The truth is that Nicotine and Tobacco are two different things. Nicotine has similar health risks as other common stimulants, such as caffeine. The problem with Nicotine currently is the delivery method, burning tobacco releases thousands of other chemicals which are known to have significant health risks. Vaping produces no second hand smoke and no toxic byproducts.

Even with this, organizations like the ALA, ACA and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are heavily funded by funds from big tobacco and the Tobacco Master Settlement. This means that they WANT people to keep smoking, or their funding sources dry up. Also state governments are heavily dependent on tax revenue from tobacco.

Also, the pharmaceutical industry is against vaping since their current nicotine replacement therapy drugs (Patches, Gum, etc) are highly ineffective (less than a 5% success rate) and they can't sell electronic cigarettes as drugs, since they are tobacco products. Also, drugs like Chantix, which have insane side effects (suicide, mood swings, ELF programming) are big profit centers.

I have been advocating for vaping around the country, it's an industry that is exploding and helping people continue using nicotine in a much safer fashion. If you have any questions, please let me know. I'd love to talk about this on Skype at some point since it seems like something you guys would love to talk about on the show.



James "Jamie" Richard

Web: Twitter: @jaymer

Casey on Real smoke Vapes

Adam and John,

Heard your report on Vapes from Sunday's show and wanted to make a correction. An E-cigarette is different From a "Vape." If you tell any high school boy that you're going "vaping" they will assume that you are using a vaporizer pen. I vaporizer pen is a battery powered wick that you use to heat a flavored liquid. (i.e vanilla, beast, cherry) It may or may not contain nicotine but is used mainly for showing off smoke tricks and comes fairly cheap. (Say $40) I have a lot more friends who prefer little to no nicotine. It doesn't smell like a traditional cigarette, but it is very potent. It smells a bit like a Pixie-stick, and the smoke is a lot more "powdery" and dense than a cigarette. The report is right, kids do them in class. Last week in Algebra, we had a substitute teacher and not 10 minutes into the class I began to smell a strong sweet-smelling odor and my eyes started hurting. I could tell the substitute had noticed because he was rubbing his eyes and literally wiping smoke from his line of vision. I suppose he just had been programmed not to consciously look for an answer as to why it was becoming difficult to breathe? I turned around and saw that one kid had his head in his friend's crotch sucking on a vape! I could only laugh to myself and say "In the morning" to them as I went to my next class. An e-cig is what you and Micky used to "get over" smoking, that you said didn't really work. It's just an expensive nicotine device and doesn't have quite the density to perform smoke tricks and is usually rechargeable, whereas a vaporizer pen takes non rechargeable batteries. Thank you for your courage, just wanted to make sure you knew the difference, can't wait until today's show!



Dr. Sharkey on vaping

Dear Adam Curry,

I loved your show of course.

In re the vaping story, I think that you had part of plan - with the EU Rx proposal.

(That is, once the folks are hooked, move them over to the private tax system called state-licensed medicine - and or Big Pharma looking to get a piece of the action).

But I think that you are mistaken about the American market. Vaping is the key for the tobacco companies to make a double killing.

Your national treasure, NPR, did a story: "where did all the cigarette money go?"

NPR said that the tobacco settlement was for 246 billion USD, and that to date, about 100 billion has been pažd. So, bžg tobacco is still looking at a hefty bill.

But I can imagine that the vaping market (which started with medical mj btw), tobacco companies have a new strategy.

According to the Book of Knowledge - - there are two key elements to the settlement:

(1) not every American tobacco company joined the settlement (in exchange for immunity from lawsuit);

(2) the settlement was for the HARMS and medical costs caused by both smoking tobacco and smokeless tobacco products. (Note, dip and chewable tobacco was argued to cause mouth and throat cancer. But vaping is not THAT type of smokeless tobacco).

If I ran big tobacco I would create a new company, which was only producing and selling vaping tobacco and the accoutrements - which, as your clip showed, is about schwag and being in high teen fashion. Then I would declare that my products caused no harm - or far less than homogenized milk, car exhaust, etc.

Then, not being party to the settlement - BAM! I dropped a huge overhead cost. With the marketing to the "over 18 crowd" and the relevant PSAs about "check with your doctor", and vape responsibly, blah, blah, I would head off ANY lawsuits - that would not occur until 30 years if anyone bothered to claim that vaping ALONE caused some ailment.

The investors will love it. Hell, I could see the State pension funds moving INTO vaping.

Of course, in the US, the drug companies cannot sit by and let tobacco recapture the Adderall generation. So my Red Book prediction is that we will see more "news stories" about legislative proposals to regulate and more "studies" on the benefits of gaping.

Time for the Curry Dvorak consulting team to play BOTH sides against the sheeple and squeeze out those PR dollars.

Hope you have time to share this.

By the way, here in Southeastern Turkey, the scarf thing is not such a big deal. About 1/3 of the girls at my private, overtly Muslim university wear the scarf. At the public university, practically no one.

NONE of the women professors or security guards bother with traditional clothing. About half of the secretaries do wear the scarf.

But unlike places where Wahhabism is rampant, there are NO men who look like al-CIA-da poster boys. All men wear western business shirts (Oxfords), and everyone shaves thežr beard. The young men look like MTV wannabes.

So in this male-chauvanistic society, the new rule allowing women to wear a scarf at work, looks like little more than a bone to someone's aunt or cousin who was bitching about freedom. On the other hand, in the Ferengi scheme of things, now more women will feel more comfortable in the workplace - ergo more potentžal workers. Get ready for Turkey to pass through the 30-year European/American cycle after which most families needed TWO income earners to stay out of poverty.


John Calvin Jones, PhD, JD

The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary: Anti-Smoking Groups that Opposed Electronic Cigarettes Accepted Money to the Tune of $2.8 Million from Pfizer Alone in 2011-2012

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Archived Version

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:44

The eight anti-smoking organizations that have opposed electronic cigarettes and called for their removal from the market pocketed a total of $2.8 million from Big Pharma's Pfizer during 2011 and the first half of 2012, according to figures being released today by The Rest of the Story.Based on financial contribution reports published by Pfizer, the anti-smoking groups that have called for a ban on electronic cigarettes have received millions from the pharmaceutical manufacturer of Chantix, a smoking cessation product that stands to lose enormously if electronic cigarettes become increasingly popular. These organizations have repeatedly failed to disclose their financial interests in Big Pharma when making statements opposing electronic cigarettes.

The numbers compiled by The Rest of the Story are as follows (these represent Pfizer money received by each anti-smoking group during 2011 and the first two quarters of 2012):

American Academy of Pediatrics: $720,800American Cancer Society: $252,750American Heart Association: $136,000American Lung Association: $190,250Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: $100,000American Medical Association: $857,500American Legacy Foundation: $300,000Action on Smoking and Health: $200,000

GRAND TOTAL: $2,757,300

These figures illustrate how strong a financial interest the major national anti-smoking groups have in Big Pharma and help explain the entrenched position of these groups against electronic cigarettes. These data also help explain why these groups continue to promote drug therapy for smoking cessation despite evidence of its dismal rates of effectiveness.These are the primary anti-smoking groups that called for the removal of electronic cigarettes from the market. Each of these groups, for example, submitted an amicus brief urging the D.C. District Court to allow the FDA to ban electronic cigarettes by regulating them under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, even in the absence of therapeutic claims made by product manufacturers. Had the recommended action of these groups been taken, literally thousands of ex-smokers would instead be smokers today because electronic cigarettes have been their means to achieve smoke-free status.

In their amicus briefs, none of these anti-smoking groups disclosed their financial ties to Big Pharma. Nor have they disclosed these severe financial conflicts of interest in public statements or website pages opposing electronic cigarette use.

Today, we find out that each and every one of these eight anti-smoking groups has accepted funding from Big Pharma and more importantly, from a Big Pharma company that manufactures a smoking cessation drug that is a direct competitor to electronic cigarettes.

Moreover, the amount of money involved is substantial. Each of these groups received at least $100,000 in an 18-month period alone, and the total amount of money received by the eight groups during this period from Pfizer alone exceeds $2.75 million.

Now it is starting to make sense why these groups opposed a product that is helping literally thousands of ex-smokers to remain smoke-free and helping hundreds of thousands more to greatly reduce the amount of cigarettes that they smoke.

When public health groups start to oppose public health measures, you need to start suspecting that money is playing a role. Today's revelation demonstrates that in the case of anti-smoking group opposition to electronic cigarettes, the money being received from Big Pharma is working to perfection. These groups are vigorously protecting pharmaceutical profits, even at the expense of severe harm to the public health and their abrogation of ethical integrity by failing to even disclose their conflicts of interest to the public.

Glaxo Pays For Chantix Woes - Forbes

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Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:46

Log in with your social account:Or, you can log in or sign up using Forbes.New Posts+18 posts this hourMost PopularWhat To Buy With $1BListsThe Best Small CompaniesVideoAmerica's Richest Women2 FREE Issues of ForbesHelp|Connect

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Inside 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki's $99 DNA Revolution | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

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Mon, 14 Oct 2013 18:16

There's a lot you can do for your child with 99 dollars.

You can purchase 14 gallons of organic milk or 396 lollipops. You can give her 33 rides on the Ferris wheel at the state fair, or you can get him a couple of violin lessons. You could put the money in a savings account, you could buy her her very own LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer digital learning tablet, or you could buy enough pizzas to feed all of her friends on the block. So many options, so many choices.

I took that money and got my daughter's genes tested, ordering up an analysis of the composition of her very small self and its odds of living a long and healthy life. And in so doing, I in some small way tied her fate to the success of the company doing the analysis, a genetic-testing startup called 23andMe in Mountain View, California.

Last May, Angelina Jolie revealed in a New York Times op-ed that she had chosen to have a double mastectomy after testing positive for a likely lethal BRCA1 mutation. Her generous manifesto spoke to the value of knowledge and the ability to act upon it. That morning, emails, texts, and calls came pouring in for Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe. "Did you see this? Did you see this? Do you test for that?" Yes, she had seen it. Yes, her company might test for it (Jolie's exact mutation was not disclosed)--it tests hundreds of possible risk associations, including the three most common BRCA1 and 2 mutations. "Angelina Jolie talking about a technical subject and saying, 'I did this, you can do this' is a great thing for us," says Wojcicki. "She did something to prevent disease, and that's exactly what we want people thinking about."

Wojcicki has been thinking deeply about this for years. A former Wall Streeter with a degree in biology, she has parlayed a personal interest in wellness into a thriving, potentially groundbreaking business. Since founding 23and­Me in 2006--with the backing of an impressive list of investors including her husband, Sergey Brin, and the company he then ran, Google--she has been working toward two goals: bringing the power of genetic testing to everyday consumers so they can better manage their own health care, and using the aggregated data from those tests to help doctors, scientists, hospitals, and researchers discover new cures for diseases that emanate from troublesome genetic mutations. (Wojcicki and Brin announced their separation in August. A 23andMe spokesperson says, "He remains committed to the company.") It has not been a business for the faint of heart--the three other similarly positioned startups in the field have changed course--but Wojcicki has deep pockets, having raised more than $126 million since 23andMe's inception, with Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire who's invested in Facebook, Twitter, and Airbnb, joining as a backer last December.

"We're not just looking to get a venture-capital return," says Wojcicki. "We set out with this company to revolutionize health care."

Wojcicki is connected to the fabric of Silicon Valley, which has served her well. But her goals are global. "We're not just looking to get a venture-capital return," Wojcicki says. "We set out with this company to revolutionize health care." On the same December day when she closed a $59 million round of financing, she dropped the price of 23andMe's genetic testing from $299 to $99. While prices like that may not make taking control of one's health a universal, democratic reality, they accelerate our society's move in that direction. The end result could be a wholesale shift in the way we treat illness, a move away from our current diagnostic model to one based on prevention. That's why, if Wojcicki gets it right, 23andMe could help change the health care industry as we know it. "At $99, we are opening the doors of access," she says. "Genetics is part of an entire path for how you're going to live a healthier life."

As 23andMe scales, its business model will shift. Right now it gets most of its revenue from the $99 that people like me pay in return for test-tube kits and the results we get back after we send off our spit-filled tubes. "The long game here is not to make money selling kits, although the kits are essential to get the base level data," says Patrick Chung, a 23andMe board member and partner at the venture-capital firm NEA. "Once you have the data, [the company] does actually become the Google of personalized health care." Genetic data on a massive scale is likely to be an extremely valuable commodity to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and even governments. This is where the real growth potential is.

But first Wojcicki needs spit. Her goal is to sign up a million customers by the end of 2013. Eventually, she says, "I want 25 million people. Once you get 25 million people, there's just a huge power of what types of discoveries you can make. Big data is going to make us all healthier. What kind of diet should certain people be on? Are there things people are doing that make them really high-risk for cancer? There's a whole group of people who are 100-plus and have no disease. Why?" As of September, 23andMe had 400,000 genotyped customers. It's betting on quite an impressive fourth quarter.

I had never really considered getting genetic testing before taking on this story assignment. (And getting the testing was not a mandate--my editors just wanted me to write about the process of considering it.) But my 5-year-old daughter, whom my husband and I adopted as a baby from Ethiopia, had started asking questions about her birth family that we couldn't answer. Did we think they looked like her? Were her siblings fast like her? Where had her grandparents come from? With kindergarten fast approaching and with emotionally loaded projects such as constructing a family tree looming on the horizon, I thought maybe I could erase at least a few of the question marks. The same saliva that allows 23andMe to find genetic mutations that increase or decrease your odds of getting a disease also reveals a lot of data about your genealogical roots.

There's something scary about asking for cold, hard, computer-driven data about someone you love. did i really want to know?I went back and forth for a few days before deciding to get her tested. There's something scary about asking for cold, hard, computer-driven data about someone you love. Did I really want to know? What would I do with the information? Would I change as a parent if I found out she was at risk for something scary, and would that change be helpful or harmful to her?

Illustration by KarlssonwilkerWojcicki believes it's a parent's duty to arm herself with her children's genetic blueprint, that the power of knowledge outweighs its burden. She's already put that pragmatism to work for her family. In 2008, her husband took a 23andMe test that revealed he possesses a genetic mutation called LRRK2, which gives him a sharply increased risk--30% to 75%, compared to 1% for the general population--of contracting Parkinson's. His mother possessed the same gene and was diagnosed at the age of 47. It also meant there was a 50% chance their two young children would inherit his mutation. "I'd rather have Sergey be proactive," says Wojcicki, when I meet with her in August. "He's drinking coffee and exercising all the time [two behaviors thought to reduce a person's risk for Parkinson's]. I'd rather we give a lot of money to Michael J. Fox than be surprised at 50 when [Sergey] is diagnosed and say, 'Well, shit, I wish I could've done things.' And as for my kids, they're going to die of something." My eyes widen at her frankness, and she starts laughing. "It's just the reality. Everyone's going to die and everyone's going to get sick at some point. But I do believe that there are choices you can make in life that will make you as healthy as possible."

Ultimately, I found her logic persuasive. And if I was willing to do it for my daughter, I was certainly brave enough to do it for myself. My husband felt differently. "I go with fate," he said. He felt that what seemed like a forbidden glimpse at elevated risk factors or rare carrier states wouldn't improve the quality of his life, but would instead saddle him with a sense of helpless anxiety. Still, he agreed that we owed our daughter as much information about herself as we could find. In June, a package with our test tubes arrived in the mailbox. "Remember," my husband warned kindly as I opened the envelope, as user-friendly as the Netflix DVD variety. "There's such a thing as having too much information."

Finding people who want their genes tested was never going to be easy for 23andMe. There's always something intimidating about a new technology that's difficult to understand.

In 2003, an international scientific research team successfully completed the Human Genome Project, the first full sequencing of the human genome. (Think of the human genome as the house for every person's hereditary belongings, furnished with the DNA sequences within our 23 chromosome pairs: half passed down from our mother, half from our father.) It was a Herculean effort that took 13 years, the combined brainpower of thousands of scientists, and $2.7 billion. It was science and health care's equivalent of landing on the moon. Soon the technology was made available to people through physicians, albeit at sky-high prices--Steve Jobs reportedly had his genome mapped for $100,000. Eventually, through doctors, patients able to pay upwards of $5,000 were able to sequence specific genes, which means they could learn the precise order of nucleotides in a DNA molecule. Jolie's test, which sequenced two genes, cost about $3,000. What 23andMe offers is called SNP genotyping, named for single nucleotide polymorphisms (aka snips). The process covers less than 0.1% of the entire genome, but even that contains so much data that 23andMe can offer customers information on more than 254 factors, from disease-carrier status to drug-response like­lihoods to ancestral information.

Geneticist Ricki Lewis remembers the pandemonium that arose when 23andMe and three other companies revealed at a 2007 American Society of Human Genetics meeting that they planned to start offering personal genetic testing directly to consumers, without the traditional middlemen of doctors and insurance companies. "People were so up in arms they didn't even eat the cookies," she says. "That's the first time I've been to a conference where the food just piled up." There were many currents of outrage. Scientists argued that the public wasn't prepared emotionally or intellectually to process this kind of data.

Others felt that the data were largely meaningless, anyway. "If people want to engage in a genetic parlor game, that's fine," says Dr. Jim Evans, a general practitioner and professor of medicine and genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "We're all a bit narcissistic. But the truth is that finding anything worthwhile about your health from one of their tests is reallyrare. Finding out something really scary is rare too."

Genetic testing also suffers from its portrayal in our cultural landscape. For many of us, the bulk of our genetic knowledge comes from guilty viewings of the Maury Povich Show, in which some sleazeball learns he's the daddy because of a hair sample, or from gnarly episodes of House. Or perhaps we remember the 1997 dystopian science-fiction film Gattaca, in which Ethan Hawke's genetically inferior hero resists his second-class status. It's a portrait of a society that uses genetic data as the basis for a chilling program of eugenics.

Wojcicki was always unfazed by what she was up against. Her company first began offering testing services to consumers in November 2007, for the lofty cost of $999. Those original tests offered 14 reports, from the silly (Is your earwax more likely wet or dry?) to the serious (Do you have markers that put you at risk for type 2 diabetes or venous thromboembolism?). And its direct-to-consumer approach attracted a wave of media coverage. In 2008, Time magazine named 23andMe the "invention of the year." But consumers were slow to sign up, and Wojcicki and the other early employees spent the first few years developing their technology, establishing scientific credibility, and zeroing in on three specific disease populations--including Parkinson's--for research. By 2010, the company had signed up only 35,000 paying customers.

Consumer leeriness, however, might be easing. The idea of getting more data about your very self seems a lot less weird in an era when people are walking around wearing Nike FuelBands to monitor their daily activity. And as with any technology, genetic testing has become more familiar as its value becomes more apparent. Jolie's New York Times article, for example, provoked a rush of orders for 23and­Me. In 2013 alone, the company has signed up 220,000 folks.

Still, Wojcicki wants that 1 million, or better yet 25 million. And she wants them as soon as possible. So in June, she hired Andy Page, the former president of a well-established Internet consumer brand, Gilt Groupe, as her company's president. He and marketing chief Neil Rothstein, who'd come from Netflix, set about boosting 23andMe's customer outreach.

Rothstein's team charged right in, conducting a series of focus groups to evaluate the potential consumer base. Rothstein accepted some stark results: 23andMe might have serious trouble winning over the segments of the population who reflexively reject the idea of genetic testing on the basis of privacy concerns or fear of the unknown. So he decided to concentrate the company's resources on attracting those consumers who want to be proactive about their health. In August, 23andMe launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign aimed squarely at that crowd. "We're not really focused on a specific age group or gender or fitness level," says Rothstein. "It's people who have this control mind-set."

People more like Wojcicki, in other words, whose ambitious nature is balanced with a committed rationality. Every day, Wojcicki rides her elliptical bike to the 23andMe headquarters, in Mountain View. She has no office there of her own. Instead, she totes her laptop over either to a red sofa near the research department or a table in the cafeteria, which is across from the gym where her employees gather every afternoon for yoga, Pilates, or Crossfit. One morning, she and I meet in an empty conference room. She glances at the bottle of coconut water I helped myself to from the company refrigerator. "I'm at a slightly higher risk for type 2 diabetes and my grandmother had diabetes," she tells me. "My hemoglobin a1c, which is one of the measures, started being a little high when I was drinking a ton of that coconut water." Is coconut water bad for you? I ask. "All I know," she says with a laugh, "is I was drinking four a day and my hemoglobin a1c was high, and when I stopped, it went down. I took that more seriously because I have a genetic risk."

She's dressed in her usual work uniform--Lululemon shorts, a tank top, and flip-flops. "When I was on Wall Street, I had to wear a skirt suit every day, so this is a little bit of my rebellion," she explains. Wojcicki grew up nearby, on the Stanford University campus, where her father is a renowned professor of physics. Her mother is a high school journalism teacher. Both were incredibly frugal. Her mother used to take her and her two sisters to Sizzler and order two all-you-can-eat salad-bar plates, having the girls rotate in the bathroom to avoid detection. To this day, her mother stands in line at 4 a.m. on Black Friday to "fight for laptops," she says. "My parents were passionate about what they did, very cheap, and very focused on doing good in society."

Wojcicki was always headstrong. When she was 2 years old, she started figure skating. But after several years, "it started to be a little bit like Honey Boo Boo on ice," she says. "And you weren't going to dress me up and make me look pretty in a pageant." So she quit and started playing ice hockey instead. When she graduated from Yale with a degree in biology, she went to work for a biotech-related hedge fund, despite the fact that her folks were outright offended. "It was always embarrassing to come home," she says. "People were like, 'Oh, Anne, you Wall Street girl.''‰" She says she spent 10 years on Wall Street--mostly at Investor AB and Passport Capital--watching how companies made money on sickness and listening to CEOs insist it wasn't their responsibility to understand how their companies' drugs worked. "I went to this one event in D.C.," she says, "and there was just this football-field-size room with people in dark suits who were all there to learn about maximizing billing codes."

She left Wall Street in 2000, with the intention of taking her MCATs and going to medical school. "But I couldn't find a doctor who would tell me to go," she says. "Think of it: You graduate, it's a ton of debt, it beats you down." One night she was at a dinner with Markus Stoffel, then a scientist at Rockefeller University. He described plans for a genetics project that would explore the variations associated with high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes in the population of the Micronesian island of Kosrae. "He said they had so much data it was overwhelming," says Wojcicki, "but also not enough data to make sense of things. We talked about what would happen if you could get the world's DNA. And he said it would change the world."

"We talked about what would happen if you could get the world's DNA," recalls Wojcicki. "And he said it would change the world."

Now she has a company that is, she hopes, finally poised to deliver on that idea. Wojcicki has a simple way of summing up its mission. "Healthy at 100," she says. I joke that some mornings I feel used up at 39. Wojcicki, 40, looks at me in disbelief. "I think life is pretty awesome," she says. "I mean, there's going to be space travel at some point."

I first met my daughter in an Ethiopian guesthouse in 2009. The social worker put her in my arms, gave my husband a half-used bottle of lukewarm prescription medicine with directions on it printed in Amharic, and wished us all a happy life together.

The next day, we sat down in the Addis Ababa adoption agency office with the uncle who had relinquished her after her parents had died of complications from undiagnosed lung disease. A shy and elegant man, he told us that this little 11-month-old who slept tucked under the lapel of his frayed blazer was already funny like his brother and beautiful like her mother. We were too stunned by the intensity of the meeting to even think of asking about medical histories, not that he would have likely been able to provide much in the way of concrete information. We said a painful goodbye and returned home to America with a baby who was a beautiful, perfect mystery.

There was some relief in her being an unknown. My mother suffered for decades from bipolar disorder until she finally committed suicide at the age of 44. My brother is also bipolar and the disease has in many ways robbed him of an emotionally rich and productive adulthood. I feel like I dodged a genetic bullet, though I have always feared the menace that roils in my people's blood. My adopted daughter, however, could grow up without me searching in her eyes for shadows of my ruined family members. She could emerge before us without the burden of premonition.

But one Saturday morning, after we hadn't had anything to eat or drink for 30 minutes, she and I turned on some cartoons, and after years of hollering at her to cool it with the spitting, I instructed her to do just the opposite. Together we sat in front of an episode of Doc McStuffins and sputtered into our tubes. Turns out this is an enterprise a young child will undertake without question. Then I sealed them both back into our respective stamped and addressed boxes and dropped them in the mail.

I was told to expect the results back from the lab within the month.

23andMe has yet to turn a profit. But Page is planning on massive customer growth ahead. And with that growth will come increasingly massive data, resulting in more "research partnerships where we get paid well for it," as he says. In other words, sometime next year 23andMe could turn the corner and start making its data really pay off.

When a 23andMe customer receives her results, she is directed to log on to the company's enormously user-friendly interface to pore over the findings. There she'll encounter a nonthreatening, be-a-good-citizen invitation to "opt in" to 23andMe's research program. The company only works with data that is anonymous and aggregated, but it tries to engage those who do opt in as much as possible. Each one is asked to participate in a seemingly infinite number of surveys, thousands of questions looking to gather further information. To date, more than 200 million questions have been answered by 23andMe members. That's more than have been answered on Yahoo Answers or Quora.

23andMe president Andy Page dismisses privacy critics: "I view this as a tidal wave of inevitable data."Not surprisingly, given Brin's results, the company has a special focus on Parkinson's. 23andMe offers anyone who's been diagnosed with the disease a free test kit. The company has since amassed data from more than 10,000 people with Parkinson's, forming the world's single largest Parkinson's community for genetic research. In one study that would've taken the medical establishment tens of millions of dollars and up to a decade of research, 23andMe was able to analyze all that data and identify two novel genes that are highly correlative to people who have Parkinson's. But the study also identified this odd group of people who were predisposed to Parkinson's but were not symptomatic. So the research team created another community of customers and identified a gene that might possibly be protective. "That not only cost us nothing to do," says VC investor Patrick Chung, "but it was something, frankly, you could never have done before 23andMe."

"Suddenly that data becomes incredibly valuable to pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and other large organizations that really want to understand a data set they currently do not have access to," says Sara Holoubek, CEO and founder of consultancy firm Luminary Labs. Holoubek says she is in conversations every day with big pharma companies looking to partner with 23andMe. But it's tricky. "In the case of dollar amounts," says one pharma exec, "no one has figured out the right dollar amount and the right revenue model to pay for that online community's rich source of data. Because online data is messy. Say you have 200,000 patients online and some give you their blood pressure information, but 40% don't. We're still trying to figure it out, to be honest."23andMe recently has received more than half a million dollars in funding from the National Institutes of Health to crowdsource studies on allergies, asthma, and other conditions. The company also has numerous pending research exchanges with everyone from the NIH to biopharma companies looking to recruit 23andMe populations for studies on specific diseases, such as cancer and arthritis.

Another source of revenue points to the way genetic testing can get controversial very quickly. Chung says that 23andMe will make money by partnering with countries that rely on a single-payer health system. "Let's say you genotype everyone in Canada or the United Kingdom or Abu Dhabi," he says, "and the government is able to identify those segments of the population that are most at risk for heart disease or breast cancer or Parkinson's. You can target them with preventative messages, make sure they're examined more frequently, and in the end live healthier lives, and the government will save massive expenses because they halted someone who's prediabetic from getting diabetes. 23andMe has been in discussion with a bunch of such societies."

Chung believes that 23andMe can have a role in making the citizens of those countries less anxious. "Say a country like China could just pass a law one day that says every baby that's been born is going to have a blood sample taken at birth, and we're going to genotype that blood sample," he explains. "The data is meaningless unless you get those people to report other biological and lifestyle information. And what are the chances that the Chinese government is trusted or competent enough to produce a website where people can feel like they can tell the government everything about their health? 23andMe has proven this is something we've done very, very well."

"We want to be that last mile of communication and interpretation of genetic data," says Page. "As more and more people do that, and we establish more partnerships where we become that interface between institutions that are offering the tests [and individuals], we can build communities around certain disease states." In other words, if 23andMe amasses 75,000 Crohn's disease patients, or diabetes patients, or heart disease patients, there are giant ways to monetize that data as new treatment options emerge.

Luminary Labs' Holoubek agrees that the potential is enormous. "Let's say an innovator says, 'I have used their data and discovered this unique correlation where I'm going to add a data set and be able to, within 99% degree of confidence, identify people who are going to have a heart attack within a year,''‰" she says. "That would be incredibly valuable, and lots and lots of people would pay money for that service, not just consumers. Hospitals or pharmaceuticals would pay large sums of money."

"Your 23andMe Results Are Ready!" trumpets the email. It's 7:30 on a Saturday morning, and the coffee is brewing. My results have arrived before my daughter's, and I approach them like a wild animal to a carcass. They show that I have only a few elevated risk associations for diseases, which fluffs me up with a grandiose sense of wellness.

When I speak with genetic counselor Laura Hercher, she brings me back down to earth. "I think on science, 23andMe is very strong," she says. "It's accurate. But my exception is, okay . . . take an example like diabetes. They say you have this and this genetic variant, and therefore your risk of diabetes is increased 10% over the general population. Side note! Increasing your risk 10% is a completely useless thing to find out, because the amount that variants contribute relative to lifestyle, diet, exercise, and weight is tiny. It's like if you had a hundred stocks, and you looked at three of them and said these three went up 10%, so you're up 10% for the year. Well, yeah, except for the other 97 stocks."

I had assumed that these risk associations and drug-response sensitivities would be potentially useful data for my physician to have on file. Hercher warns me not to expect my doctor to respond so positively. "Anyone who works in medicine will tell you that doctors have a very limited genetics background," she says. A recent survey said that 74% of internists from academic medical centers deemed their knowledge of genetics as "very/somewhat poor." Nevertheless, I print out my many pages of percentages and variant-absent-or-present columns and make an appointment with my 68-year-old primary-care physician. "I'm doing a story on personal genetics testing," I say to him when we meet. He takes the papers and gives them a quick, dismissive glance. "The story is, it's bullshit." He looks at them again with an expression of disdain, not unlike the one Carson the butler on Downton Abbey bestows on the house's new telephone. Perhaps my doctor is just unfamiliar with how he might incorporate a patient's genotypic results into his practice. "That assumption is so arrogant," he says, annoyed not at me, he promises, but at what he believes are fads periodically pushed on his practice from the tech world. "It assumes that we doctors don't know our asses from our elbows." When I leave, I ask him if we wants to at least keep my 23andMe results on file. He demurs.

Later that week, I get an email addressed to my daughter, whom I had just tucked in for the night. Her results are ready, and I approach them with an even greater ravenousness. At first glance, everything looks great. She is a carrier for hemochromatosis, a condition that causes the body to absorb too much iron, which she could pass on to biological children if their father is also a carrier. But that doesn't seem like such a big deal. Then I unlock the area with results for more gene-predictive conditions such as Parkinson's, BRCA1 and 2 mutations, and Alzheimer's. I blunder past the notes of caution, hungry to maintain the pseudo promise of my daughter's invulnerability.

And there it is, screaming out at me from my computer screen. My daughter, who is learning to read and tie her shoes, has two copies of the APOE-4 variant, the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's. According to her 23and­Me results, she has a 55% chance of contracting the disease between the ages of 65 and 79. My husband, who is out of town on business, texts that he will call me at 8:30. "Everything okay?" he adds. "All good," I write back, "except our daughter is going to get Alzheimer's."

There are three main variants of the APOE gene: e2, e3, and e4. Each of us has two copies of the gene, one handed down from our mother, the other from our father. E2 is the rarest version, and is believed to protect a person against Alzheimer's. E3 is the most common. E4 is trouble; not only does it seem to dramatically increase the likelihood of a person developing Alzheimer's, but it also increases her chances of doing so at an earlier age. Roughly 22% of the population has one copy of e4; about 3% have two copies. My daughter's genes place her in that dreaded narrow sliver. "A vanishingly small number of [23andMe's] results fall into that category where you can say, 'Oh, all right, I'm going to get this disease or I'm not,''‰" says UNC's Evans. "The APOE-4 approaches that." Meanwhile, my results show that I have a copy of the protective e2 gene, locked impotently within each of my cells, where it can do my daughter zero good. My family has found out, as Evans would say, something really scary.

Three days after receiving these results, I return to the offices of 23andMe. Wojcicki is dressed once more in Lululemon and flip-flops, and there are streaks of turquoise, pink, and purple in her hair. "My son and I were getting these hair colors in," she says, picking at some glue at the front of her scalp around one of the extensions. "We thought it'd be fun." When I tell Wojicki about my daughter's e4/e4 status, her expression, alert and unemotional, doesn't flicker. She tells her assistant to cancel a networking meeting with a Yale graduate. "The way to think about it is, half of the people don't get it," she says. "So if half the people aren't getting it, why? What are they doing with their behavior?"

"People like your daughter are invisible to pharma," Emily Drabant, a former Stanford neuroscientist who's now 23andMe's manager of business development and alliances, explains later. "The way these research studies are typically done is they bring in people with Alzheimer's, give them a drug, and see what happens. Do they get better? Like a number of other brain diseases, the Alzheimer's process starts before you start having symptoms, so the changes in your brain are happening before you are actually manifesting dementia. Most of pharma's trials have failed, and the key takeaway is a) they may have been targeting the wrong molecule and b) they were intervening too late. So now what pharma wants to do is new trials in people who are at high risk, who are like 60 and e4 carriers. But what's hard for pharma is this: How do you find people who don't yet have Alzheimer's and aren't sick? They're not going to a doctor. Well, we have 65,000 people in 23andMe who are e4 carriers, and we have 6,000 people in 23andMe who have the same genotype as your daughter's." Back home, I tell my husband about the conversation. A week later he spits in a tube. He says part of his change of heart is morbid curiosity. The other is a desire to contribute to the vague greater good of 23andMe's database.

On September 4, the NIH announced that it had issued a $6 million grant to fund the first-ever randomized trial to "explore the risks and benefits" of whole genome sequencing. The volunteer group? Four hundred eighty Boston newborns. The five-year study, known as the BabySeq Project, "will accelerate the use of genomics in clinical pediatric medicine by creating and safely testing novel methods for integrating sequence into the care of newborns," says Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist and genomics researcher at Harvard Medical School who heads up the study. Many of the parents will learn whether their babies have genes that put them at risk for untreatable adult-onset conditions, such as my daughter's APOE-4 markers.

What will happen with this information? Genetic data may lead to cures, but what if it also leads to discrimination? I am concerned enough myself that, out of uncertainty and respect for my child, I am writing this article under a pseudonym.

"Your genetic results should be guarded as closely as possible," says attorney jeffrey taren, whose law firm successfully litigated one of the first genetic discrimination cases.

In 2008, Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which makes it illegal for health insurers and employers to hold a person's genetic information against her. The basic concept is that an individual can't pick her genes; therefore, it's against the law to penalize her for them. Still, there's an incredible gray area. "Your genetic test results should still be guarded as closely as possible," cautions attorney Jeffrey Taren, whose Chicago law firm Kinoy, Taren, and Geraghty litigated one of the first GINA cases. "It cannot be used in any way by an employer, but believe me it's not going to be ignored if it comes across their desks."

Here's another gray area: The confines of GINA don't yet extend to long-term-care insurance. Several states have banned the discriminatory use of genetic information in all areas, but there is not yet any sweeping federal protection. "A company can use your genetic information as part of their decision in your coverage," says Jennifer Wagner, a lawyer who works out of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies (and is nonetheless a 23andMe customer). For instance, a long-term-care insurance company might in the future ask a potential customer if she had genetic testing, and if the results linked her to a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease. "If you get this genetic information, what do you need to disclose?" she asks. "If you don't disclose everything, is that withholding information and you're somehow fraudulent?" In a statement, Genworth, the largest supplier of long-term care insurance in the U.S., says that it "does not require or request applicants to disclose that they've had genetic tests done or require genetic testing in the application process."

For the past 12 years, BabySeq Project's Green has been overseeing a groundbreaking study in which his team examined how people react after they learn they carry the APOE-4 marker, like my daughter. They don't crumble into states of depression and anxiety. What they do instead is take practical steps to prepare for a now uncertain future. Upon learning of their APOE-4 status, people are six times more likely to alter their long-term-care insurance. Periodically, Green is invited to speak to leaders in the long-term-care insurance industry. He says they are driven mad by his findings. "What these executives make clear is they are a business, and if consumers of their business have information that they [themselves] do not have in order to practice their underwriting, they cannot function," he says.

"They're losing their shirts," says public policy professor don Taylor, of long-term-care insuranceproviders.

Don Taylor, an associate professor of public policy at Duke who has published research on the implications of genetic testing and insurance in Health Affairs, predicts that our current long-term-care insurance system is about to break. "They're losing their shirts," he says, pointing to the fact that Genworth temporarily stopped selling new policies completely in its biggest market, California. "Whatever we have now is not going to come close to existing when your daughter is old enough to buy it." But nobody yet knows what might replace it.

What I--and all the parents in the BabySeq Project and all of 23andMe's customers--also have to wrestle with is whether offering up DNA has compromised our children's and our own rights to privacy. 23andMe's privacy statement clearly states that it collects a person's genetic, registration, web browsing, and self-reported information. The company can share its data with third parties "[after] it has been stripped of Registration Information and combined with data from a number of other users sufficient to minimize the possibility of exposing individual-level information while still providing scientific evidence." Minimize the possibility does not equal a legal-bound guarantee.

"Why should 23andMe have my health information so they can sell it?" asks genetic counselor Hercher.

"Nothing's private. It's your genetic sequence. It's literally the best identifier that we have!" I ask her if she finds the fact that I gave my daughter's genetic information to 23andMe unethical. "Does it bother me that you, a loving mother of a 5-year-old kid whom you have no history on did this? No," she says. "It doesn't trouble me at all. Does it bother me globally that when we do direct-to-consumer testing via these Internet things, we have privacy issues and confidentiality issues that can't be controlled? That is a problem."

Page disagrees. "I view this as a tidal wave of inevitable data and a trend in the marketplace," he says. "The technology is available; the price point is decreasing. There are so many organizations and engineers and companies that are focused on this. So if it's a foregone conclusion that the tidal wave is coming, what is the best way of delivering the data, and what is the most integrous way of presenting it and partnering? We're the best-case example of a company that is not focused on short-term profits."

Ten years from now, my daughter's freshman-year science teacher may well be passing out 23andMe tubes to the students for a class project. Penn State professor of anthropology Nina Jablonksi is working alongside Harvard's Henry Louis Gates Jr. and 30 geneticists, lawyers, bioethics experts, and social scientists on grant proposal initiatives to develop a personal genetics curriculum for middle, high school, and undergraduate students.

"We are convinced that this is a really good hook to get kids interested in scientific investigation," she says. "Through looking at their DNA, through investigating their genealogy, they become detectives of their own lives." The curriculum wouldn't touch upon individual health issues or risk factors, just the lighter stuff, like earwax consistency.

In our own home, my husband and I must decide for ourselves when and if to share the more unsettling pieces of our daughter's DNA with her. The reality is that her double e4 status mutation may never affect her. But if she chooses to have biological children, they too will each inherit a copy of the mutation. Now that I'm a member of its online community, 23andMe will keep me abreast of the latest research surrounding Alzheimer's and how that raises or lowers my daughter's risk. Even 23andMe's critics agree that the company does an expert job of presenting clients with information and links to relevant studies.

So many of the well-meaning people I spoke with while reporting this article had advice for me going forward. "You have this potential now to engage her in all kinds of activities," said Wojcicki. "Do you get her focused on her exercise and what she's eating, and doing brain games and more math?" The geneticist Ricki Lewis echoed the importance of proactive measures. "Send her to a great school. Send her to music lessons. Reading is so important. She needs to read her whole life; it'll give her more synapses. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that Alzheimer's affects, so if you just do a lot of early learning she'll have more brain connections."

But I appreciate the advice from Duke's Don Taylor most. "It's possible the best thing you can do is burn that damn report and never think of it again," he said. "I'm just talking now as a parent. Do not wreck yourself about your 5-year-old getting Alzheimer's. Worry more about the fact that when she's a teenager she might be driving around in cars with drunk boys."

A week after my last trip to Mountain View, I get an email addressed to my daughter in our anonymous 23andMe account (the sender doesn't know to whom it's being sent). "A relative would like to make contact with you," reads the subject line. It is from an adoptive mother in Chicago whose 3-year-old son is from the same region of southern Ethiopia as my daughter. The 23andMe Relative Finder has matched our children's shared DNA and revealed them to be fifth cousins. The woman is part of a private 152-member Facebook group for 23andMe users who want to discover biological connections within the Ethiopian adoptive community. Her email on behalf of her son to my daughter is short and to the point: "Would you like to share genomes?" I accept.

Since then, my daughter has been matched with handfuls of young Ethiopian adopted children whom 23andMe has identified as her third to fifth cousins. With every match, her web of connection grows another strand stronger. I choose to think of this as a potentially beautiful new world opening up for her--but one that requires an extraordinarily thoughtful bravery from all of us.

Note: To protect the privacy of her daughter, the author's name has been changed.

IBM's Watson wants to fix America's doctor shortage | The Verge

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In 2011, IBM's Watson supercomputer got an unusually public proof-of-concept, competing on Jeopardy! and beating its human competitors hands-down. It was a powerful public win for IBM, and for artificial intelligence at large, but the computer at the center of all that publicity was still basically a prototype. If Watson can do this, IBM wanted to say, imagine what it can do in the real world.

Watson will point doctors to crucial data and likely diagnoses

Now, Watson is getting its chance. For the past year, the Watson team has been building up the supercomputer's medical skills, scanning through exam books to learn the basic principles of diagnosis and learning to parse the often-confusing mess of data in electronic health records. Watson has already served on the business side of Sloan-Kettering hospital, where there are fewer malpractice concerns, but a new three-year program will usher the supercomputer into the examination rooms of the Cleveland Clinic. The goal is to create a digital assistant that can point doctors to crucial data and likely diagnoses based on a patient's medical history. If IBM can get the system working, it could be a lifeline to overworked doctors and overcrowded hospitals '-- but first, the company will have to navigate an unusually tangled web of data, and an industry that's proven particularly resistant to digitization.

The US will be short as many as 45,000 primary care doctors by 2020

At a glance, American hospitals seem ripe for a tool like Watson. The country is facing a major shortage of primary care physicians, the all-purpose doctors working on the front lines of medicine, and the shortage will only get worse in the coming decade. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the US will be short as many as 45,000 primary care doctors by 2020. The result will be longer wait times, more crowded hospitals and fewer doctors to handle the same number of patients. At the same time, more digitized hospitals have meant more comprehensive medical records, offering more reports to sift through for each patient even as there's less and less time to work through each one.

"It doesn't work every time, but it's getting better."

To IBM, this looks like an information processing problem: too much data, and not enough doctors to manage it. To solve the issue, it's putting Watson to work summarizing medical records, giving doctors a quick summary of a patient's medical history. In theory, that should help them to treat more patients, more effectively. If doctors are curious about a particular diagnosis or piece of data, they can drill down, tracking the information back to its source.

An on-screen visualization of Watson's concept map

Since the program is still in a trial phase, it's only used after doctors have made their initial diagnosis, but the doctors involved say it's already showing promise. "I've had a couple of patients where Watson found things that I had missed," says Dr. Neil Mehta, the staff physician who's leading the Cleveland Clinic's end of the Watson project. "It doesn't work every time, but it's getting better." One example is a patient suffering from sleep apnea-like symptoms. Years earlier, this patient had a blood gas test that would have confirmed the diagnosis, but the test results were hidden in a hard-to-find section of the medical record. Without Watson, Mehta says he never would have seen the result.

The system looks for competing theories that might explain the patient's symptoms

The process for finding that crucial test turns out to be remarkably similar to finding the right answer to a Jeopardy question. Having built a basic concept map from studying medical exams, Watson parses the medical records for facts and test results, then knits them together into competing theories that might explain the patient's symptoms. Mike Barborak, a natural language engineer at IBM Research, describes it as a step towards a more intelligent kind of machine. "It's language processing but it's also using this notion of combining those different salient factors to see if one supports or contradicts the other and coming up with some conclusion of what's actually being stated," Barborak says. That means looking beyond the words of the diagnosis for a basic sense of how the words fit together, and what each possible diagnosis means.

So far, the biggest roadblock isn't machine intelligence, but human organization. Watson works best with clean, unambiguous data sources, and at the moment, electronic health records don't quite fit the bill. "It does not come in a clean format at all," Barborak says. "It comes in a very noisy format." Doctors will frequently leave out the end date of a prescription, or the related causes of a particular ailment '-- omissions that rarely confuse human doctors, but throw Watson for a loop. The structure of medical language can also be confusing. A simple condition like high cholesterol can be diagnosed by multiple different names, each with a subtly different meaning.

"It's a tough problem, and I don't know if anyone has a good answer right now."

Selling doctors on the process may be an even bigger problem. The same overworked conditions that make doctors ideal candidates for Watson also leads them to cut corners in record-keeping. For many doctors, electronic health records are just one more kind of paperwork, a distraction from the primary goals of medicine '-- and so far, research hasn't given them much reason to change their mind. "I'll tell you, I love electronic health records, I can't live without them," Mehta says, "But in all the data you look at, we have not shown improvement in key outcomes in patient care or cost in spite of using them. And it's because we don't use them right and we don't have the time."

For Watson and other systems like it to work, doctors at large will have to buy in, giving up precious time with no immediate payoff, and it will have to happen across the entire health system. "It's a tough problem and I don't know if anyone has a good answer right now," Mehta says. Unfortunately for IBM, that's one problem machine intelligence can't solve.



House stenographer loses it during shutdown vote

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House stenographer loses it during shutdown voteA stenographer for the House began shouting about God, free masons during shutdown vote.

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A woman described by lawmakers and aides as a long-time House stenographer has been removed from the chamber during a vote after she began shouting. She was led to the elevator by security. (Oct. 16) AP

Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY 3:58 a.m. EDT October 17, 2013

In this image from House Television, with partial voting totals on the screen, a woman, at the rostrum just below the House presiding officer, seen between the "yea" and "nay" wording, is removed from the House chamber after she began shouting during the vote for the bill to end the partial 16-day government shutdown. The woman was described by lawmakers and aides as a long-time House stenographer.(Photo: AP)

Story HighlightsStenographer began shouting as vote took placeWoman was carried off by U.S. Capitol Police as she shouted about God, FreemasonsLawmakers appeared bewildered as scene unfolded before themA stenographer for the House apparently lost it Wednesday night as lawmakers passed a government funding and debt limit deal, Roll Call reports. The stenographer began shouting about God and the Freemasons as the vote took place.

"He will not be mocked. He will not be mocked. Don't touch me. He will not be mocked," the stenographer shouted as she was taken away by U.S. Capitol Police. "The greatest deception here is not 'one nation under God.' It never was. Had it been, it would not have been."

She continued, "The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God."

She went on, "You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ."

SHUTDOWN END: Congress passes legislation

Lawmakers watched silently as the scene unfolded before them. After the stenographer was removed from the chamber, House members turned to each other.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said the woman had a crazed look on her face, according to the Associated Press.

USA NOWSalute heard 'round the world | USA NOW videoOct 16, 2013


Miriam Carey's sister denied custody of 14-month-old girl

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 22:25

Published: October 12, 2013 6:29 AMBy THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Photo credit: AP | Police gather near the scene on Capitol Hill in Washington after gunshots were heard. (Oct. 3, 2013)

STAMFORD, Conn. - A judge on Friday denied a child custody request filed by the sister of a local woman fatally shot by police after she tried to ram her car through a White House barrier with the child in the back seat.

The denial came a day after Valarie Carey filed the emergency application seeking temporary custody of the 14-month-old daughter of her late sister, Miriam Carey. The request sought to transfer custody of the girl from her father, Eric Frances, to Valerie Carey.

Carey's attorney said Stamford Superior Court Judge Jane Emons didn't offer a reason for the denial. Attorney Eric Sanders said the Carey family has seen the girl just once, in the presence of a state child welfare worker, since Miriam Carey was shot outside the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 3 following a high-speed police car chase.

Sanders said the girl's father has not been "cooperative." He said the matter wasn't settled despite Friday's ruling and the family intends to pursue it. He said it's unclear who has custody of the girl.

Attempts to reach Frances for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

Funeral services for Miriam Carey are being planned for next week in New York City.

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Miriam Carey family's lawyer arrested over debts

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 22:26

Originally published: October 15, 2013 7:37 PMUpdated: October 15, 2013 11:27 PMBy ROBERT E. KESSLER

A lawyer for the family of the woman who was killed after attempting to crash into the White House two weeks ago was arrested Tuesday by federal marshals because he continually failed to pay money owed to various debtors, officials said.

The lawyer, Eric Sanders, who lives in Melville, but practices mainly in New York City, was taken into custody at his home on the orders of a federal bankruptcy judge in Central Islip, according to Charles Dunne, the chief marshal for the Eastern District.

The arrest was unrelated to his representation of the family of Miriam Carey, who died in a hail of police gunfire two weeks ago in Washington D.C., officials said.

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U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dorothy Eisenberg ordered the arrest on civil contempt charges because of what she said was Sanders' failure to pay $181,666 he owed and follow the court's orders, according to court documents.

Sanders was taken to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he can be held on the civil contempt charge until he pays off the debt, officials said. In addition, Sanders can be fined $1,000 a day until he pays the money he owes the debtors, officials said.

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Commercial Mobile Alert System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 15:51

The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), and Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), is an alerting network in the United States designed to disseminate emergency alerts to mobile devices such as cell phones and pagers.

Background[edit]The Federal Communications Commission proposed and adopted the network structure, operational procedures and technical requirements in 2007 and 2008 in response to the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006, which allocated $106 million to fund the program.[1] CMAS will allow federal agencies to accept and aggregate alerts from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service (NWS) and emergency operations centers, and send the alerts to participating wireless providers who will distribute the alerts to their customers with compatible devices via Cell Broadcast, a technology similar to SMS text messages that simultaneously delivers messages to all phones using a cell tower instead of individual recipients.[2][3]

The government plans to issue three types of alerts through this system:

Alerts issued by the President of the United States.Alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life.AMBER Alerts.[2]The system is a collaborative effort between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA),[4] although there has been some controversy regarding the willingness of FEMA to participate.

Participation[edit]Within ten months of FEMA making the government's design specifications for this secure interface for message transfer available, wireless service providers choosing to participate in CMAS must begin development and testing of systems which will allow them to receive alerts from alert originators and distribute them to their customers.[5] Systems must be fully deployed within 28 months of the December 2009 adoption of such standards and are expected to be delivering alert messages to the public by 2012.[4] Although not mandatory, several wireless providers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint Corporation, and Verizon have announced their willingness to participate in the system.[1] Providers who do not wish to participate must notify their customers. Some phones which are not CMAS-capable may require only a software upgrade; while others may need to be replaced entirely.[2]

CMAS messages, although displayed similarly to SMS text messages, are always free and are routed through a separate service which will give them priority over voice and regular text messages in congested areas.[2] Customers who have the capability of receiving CMAS alerts (also known as PLAN and WEA) will be automatically signed up by their carrier.[6] If they do not want to participate they may opt to block most CMAS messages, however CMAS regulations[7] prohibit participating carriers from configuring phones to allow users to opt out of messages issued by the President.[2]

Public television stations are also required by the FCC to act as a distribution system for CMAS alerts. Within 18 months of receiving funding from the Department of Commerce, all public television stations must be able to receive CMAS alerts from FEMA and transmit them to participating wireless service providers.[5]

National Weather Service[edit]The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), interface to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service, went live in April 2012.[8] The NWS began delivering its Wireless Emergency Alerts on June 28, 2012.[9][10]

Notable uses[edit]Boston Marathon bombings '-- A shelter-in-place warning via CMAS was issued by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency[11]Child abduction alert for New York City '-- For a 7-month-old boy who had been abducted. The massive inconvenience caused by the 4am timing raised concerns that many cellphone users will now disable alerts.[12]Blizzard warning in February 2013 for New York City. [13]Shelter-in-place warning for New York City due to Hurricane Sandy. [14]See also[edit]References[edit]^ abEmergency alerts coming to your cellphone via cell broadcast^ abcde[1], Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN)^^ abFEMA News Release HQ-09-148, FEMA And The FCC Announce Adoption Of Standards For Wireless Carriers To Receive And Deliver Emergency Alerts Via Mobile Devices .^ abFCC Consumer Facts, New Commercial Mobile Alert System[dead link]^[2], FEMA And The FCC Announce Adoption Of Standards For Wireless Carriers To Receive And Deliver Emergency Alerts Via Mobile Devices^US Code of Federal Regulation Title 47, Part 10, CMAS^"National Emergency Alert System Goes Live". Government Technology magazine. 10 April 2012. ^"Coming soon: Weather warnings on the go!" National Weather Service website. Retrieved 2012-06-30.^Karnowski, Steve (2012-06-28). "Weather Alerts Coming Soon to Smartphone near You". Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-06-30. ^"Boston Bombing Shows How Wireless Emergency Alerts Can Work with Other Media"^"Wake-Up Call for New Yorkers as Police Seek Abducted Boy", NY Times^^ links[edit]


Producer TSA Randomizer story


I'm flying from the Phoenix airport to Austin and at the security check, there were two TSA agents standing at the entrance, in the area where you can break off for general boarding, first class, employees, etc. and prior to the agents checking your ID.

I had to show my boarding pass and the lady verified that I was going to the correct area (I guess I'm not smart enough to read the signs pointing me to the "B" gates).

Anyway, she was holding an iPad and then asked me to tap the screen. I was confused, but went along with their monkey dance. The screen showed a program named "TSA Randomizer" and it went through a short animation to pretend it was generating a random number internally. Then, an arrow popped up pointing me to the left, which was the general human cattle area. It looked like if the arrow pointed me right, I would've undergone extra scrutiny and been directed to a whole separate, private screening area to do God knows what, maybe get a cavity search.

I hadn't seen this before and it appears to be yet another scheme to get people to undergo even more security checks. This was in Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor Airport before the "B" gates. I still said I couldn't raise my arm at the slave scanner and went through the magnetometer, though two agents looked at me very suspiciously as I went through.

TSA considers using 'randomizer' when screening travelers - Los Angeles Times

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:09

In the foreseeable future, fliers can expect to be ''randomized'' by the Transportation Security Administration.

That means an electronic device called a randomizer would randomly direct travelers to different screening lines.

One reason the devices are needed, federal officials said, is so TSA officers can't be accused of profiling passengers when they direct some fliers to a line for regular screening and others to a line for a faster, less intrusive search.

'Randomizers' Could Lessen TSA Criticism | - News & Analysis of Critical Issues in Terrorism & Homeland Defense

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Archived Version

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:12

Hugo Martin, The Los Angeles TimesSpecial to In Homeland Security

In the foreseeable future, fliers can expect to be ''randomized'' by the Transportation Security Administration.

That means an electronic device would randomly direct travelers to different screening lines.

One reason these ''randomizers'' are needed, federal officials said, is so TSA officers can't be accused of profiling passengers when they direct some fliers to a line for regular screening and others to a line for a faster, less-intrusive search.

In many airports, the TSA operates special screening lines where travelers don't have to remove their shoes, belts and jackets or take laptops and liquids out of carry-on bags. These lines are usually reserved for frequent fliers who submit an application with their background information.

Passengers who are chosen for extra screening by explosives-sniffing dogs or ''behavior detection officers'' won't be allowed to use those faster lines, but the randomizer could sort all other passengers, officials said.

TSA officials would not comment in detail on the randomizer except to say in a statement that the agency ''employs a multilayer approach to security, utilizing measures that are both seen and unseen and will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures.''

Officials said they didn't yet have an estimate on when the randomizer might appear at airports.



At Iberia Airlines, you can now bag it and tag it yourself.

The Spanish airline says it is the only carrier to let passengers print out their own baggage tags at home. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines tested home-tagging for passengers flying from Seattle to Hawaii last year but has not continued the program. Alaska, along with several other carriers, lets passengers print out luggage tags from airport kiosks.

At Iberia, ticketed passengers print their luggage tags at home and download their boarding passes onto their smartphones. Once at the airport, Iberia fliers simply hand their luggage to a counter attendant and head for their screening gate, where they flash the boarding pass on their smartphone screen.

The technology can cut as much as 30 minutes off the time passengers spend waiting in line at airports.

Iberia is testing the luggage tag system on domestic flights in Spain before expanding the system to international flights in a few weeks.

''As you can imagine, the time it saves varies very much depending on the airport, the day and the moment the passenger goes to the check-in area, but at peak moments it can save up to 30 minutes,'' said Iberia spokesman Santiago de Juan Martinez.



Most likely everyone who has stayed at a hotel has, at some point, walked out with a few bars of soap or miniature bottles of shampoo stuffed into their luggage.

But 35 percent of global travelers say they make off with more-valuable hotel amenities, such as towels, lamps, robes and bedding, according to a recent survey by the hotel booking site

The survey found that travelers from some countries pilfer more than others.

Danish travelers are the least likely to pocket hotel property; Colombian travelers came in at the bottom of the honesty ranking, according to the survey of 8,600 travelers from 28 countries and cities.

When asked about taking from hotels, 88 percent of Danish travelers said they had never pocketed hotel property, according to the survey. But when they do steal, the most common items taken by the Danes are magazines and books, the survey found.

Meanwhile, only 43 percent of Colombians say they have never taken from a hotel, and when they do filch, they go after magazines and books, the survey said.

The U.S. and China came in near the bottom of the honesty ranking. with 66 percent of American and Chinese travelers saying they had never taken from a hotel. Sticky-fingered Americans typically take linen and towels. Chinese usually take furnishings, the survey said.




A Guide to Portland's Mac & Cheese Scene | Portland Monthly

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:54

Macaroni and cheese. Admit it'--merely reading those words induces cravings for warm, creamy, gooey comfort food. Good ol' mac and cheese is great any time of year, but when we learned that October is National Cheese Month and National Pasta Month, it felt like a crime to not celebrate by stuffing ourselves silly with as much mac as we could find.

You won't find any boxes of Kraft in this guide, but you will find the perfect plate for every taste and dietary predilection. Seeking spice? Try Le Bistro Montage's Buffalo Mac or Jalapeno and Bacon Cheddar. Craving a Korean kick? Swift Lounge offers a kimchi mac with bacon and shallots. Feeling creative? Build your own cheesy creation at Herb's Mac and Cheese food cart. Keeping it simple? Davis St. Tavern's velvety three cheese b(C)chamel sauce is pure comfort.

As expected, Portland's plant-based community offers a range of dairy-free takes on the traditional dish. Cheese-free mac and cheese may sound inherently inferior, but Vita Caf(C)'s vegan mac with fried tempeh has been known to tempt the staunchest carnivore. Harlow, Blossoming Lotus, and Homegrown Smoker even have those mythical gluten-free vegans covered.

But enough talk. Dig into our macaroni and cheese slide show by clicking the photo above! When you're finished, go out and try one'--heck, try them all'--and let us know your favorites in the comments.


Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 3095 | The White House

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Archived Version

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:12

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 15, 2013

On Tuesday, October 15, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 3095 - An Act to ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes.


Shut Up Slave!

Queensland Victoria Shut Up Slaves of more than 3 Law

Hi Adam,

Love the show, am emailing to give a little insight into how the new government in Queensland is cracking down on shitizens.

The way it breaks down - the government just passed 3 laws in an attempt to 'crack down' on outlaw motorcycle clubs. I've attached one of them and highlighted some parts of note. It's called the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013.

It defines an association as: any "group of 3 or more persons by whatever name called, whether associated formally or informally and whether the group is legal or illegal". It has a list of declared offences that if any member of an association commits whilst being a participant of the association and in the course of affairs of the association, that member will be subject to an extra 15 years imprisonment on top of any other sentence. To avoid this, the member must prove (pushing the onus of proof onto the defendant) that the association doesn't have as one of their purposes to engage or conspire to these declared offences.

The declared offences include things like murder and manslaughter, but also include things like affray (maximum 1 year sentence), bomb hoaxes, dangerous operation of a vehicle and drug possession.

Three teenagers gather to smoke some weed and end up in an 'affray'? Add 15 years. I'm sure you can see as many ways this law can be misused as I can. It's only 15 pages or so, take a look.

If you decide to read this on the show, please only use my first name.




Bizar: Rutte II verdubbelt belasting op kraanwater |

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Archived Version

Mon, 14 Oct 2013 15:24

Zuinig omgaan met kraanwater moet worden gestimuleerd met de extra belasting. Ben ik de enige die niet gelooft dat het de overheid daar om te doen is?

Om een paar hobby's van D66, ChristenUnie en SGP te kunnen betalen, heeft het kabinet samen met die oppositie besloten om de belasting op kraanwater te verdubbelen. Het werd gisteren bij de presentatie verkocht als een vergroeningsmaatregel. Alexander Pechtold zei over de kraanwaterbelasting: "De vervuiler betaalt."

Drinkwaterbedrijf Vitens (6 miljoen klanten) liet een week geleden al weten ongerust te zijn over de plannen die toen nog niet bekend waren maar die al wel aan de onderhandelingstafel werden besproken:

Volgens het drinkwaterbedrijf zal iedereen dit direct merken aan de waterrekening; zo gaat de gemiddelde rekening met bijna 20 euro per jaar omhoog.

Drinkwater is een eerste levensbehoefte, daar moet je niet aan komen in een tijd dat de laagste inkomens al moeite hebben om de rekening te betalen. Verder druist het genereren van inkomsten via een belasting op leidingwater in tegen de ambitie van het kabinet om de wildgroei aan belastingen juist transparant te maken.

Bij de onderhandelingen in 2011 over het Vijfpartijenakkoord met VVD, CDA, D66, GroenLinks en ChristenUnie was er nog sprake van het totaal afschaffen van de kraanwaterbelasting. Drinkwaterbedrijf Dunea rekende toen uit dat een huishouden van vier personen de lasten met 35 euro per jaar zou zien dalen. Helaas heeft de maatregel het toen niet gehaald.

De reden dat de belasting op kraanwater wordt verdubbeld in plaats van wordt afgeschaft is zoals gezegd 'vergroening' van het belastingstelsel. Dat is natuurlijk grote, grote onzin. Het kabinet wil helemaal niet dat we zuinig omgaan met kraanwater, want dan zou er plotseling een gat vallen in de begroting. Net zoals het kabinet niet wil dat we minder gaan drinken, minder roken en ons allemaal netjes houden aan de snelheidslimiet.

'Vergroening' van het belastingstelsel is een flauwekulargument om de belastingen te kunnen verhogen zonder dat er meteen een oproer ontstaat in Nederland. Want tegen verspilling zijn we allemaal wel, dus de belastingmaatregel lijkt nog 'logisch' ook. En dus worden ontransparante belastingen als de kraanwaterbelasting doodleuk in stand gehouden door politici die even snel geld nodig hebben - en worden ze zelfs verdubbeld. Ik geloof dat ik even iets sterkers nodig heb dan een glaasje kraanwater.

BMW donated money to CDU ahead of EU emissions decision. (Euronews video)

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Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:50

On the day she was supposed to be about talking with the Greens on the formation of a coalition German Chancellor Angela Merkel found she also had questions to answer about cash for policy-making.

On Monday the EU decided to further modify CO2 emission rules for cars due to come into force in 2020, in part due to German pressure. Germany's trinty of BMW, Mercedes and to a lesser extent Volkswagen pollute more than average.

On Tuesday parliamentary records revealed BMW's majority-shareholding Quandt family donated nearly 700,000 euros to Merkel's CDU just days before the decision.

The car industry employs some 740,000 people in Germany alone.

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Bitcoin Climbs to Highest Price Since April, Led By CNY Movement

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Source: bitcoin - Google News

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 12:29

192 Flares77Facebook99Google+11LinkedIn5Email--192 Flares—The last week has seen dramatic upwards price action in the bitcoin markets, driven by a series of macro and micro events across the globe. The fallout from Silk Road's closure turned out to be but a blip in bitcoin's price history, with significant gains since then. Turmoil in global financial markets and recent news of leading global websites accepting bitcoin may have bolstered enthusiasm for digital currency, but most interesting may be CNY's definitive recent price leadership.

Compared with prices before the brief Silk Road drop, bitcoin exchange rates have climbed 14% in the last two weeks. At $145/BTC on Bitstamp, bitcoin has reached a level not seen since late April, and the only time that level has been reached on more than three consecutive days was from April 3-11 during the bubble.

Notably, the market has been significantly less volatile leading up to this level recently, compared with April. The 3DMA volatility leading into this level previously was between 13% and 22%, compared with just 4% currently.

US EventsA number of factors may be driving the latest climb. For one, bitcoin price increases are known to often coincide with media coverage. Accordingly, even the Silk Road closure which highlighted bitcoin's use for illicit purposes may have helped drive new participants into the market as a result of the exposure gained. The recent Money 2020 conference in Las Vegas may have similarly driven interest from a number of established financial players.

The global macroeconomic environment may be playing a role as well. As we've noted previously, bitcoin shares a generally inverse relationship with USD, an asset that has been negatively impacted in recent weeks as a result of the US debt ceiling impasse.

Chinese EventsPerhaps most important was the activity out of China. The Chinese government has recently been more vocal in its ongoing campaign to see the dollar removed from global reserve status. While such calls for an international reserve note are generally assumed to refer to Special Drawing Rights issued by the IMF, it may have bolstered enthusiasm for bitcoin's apolitical nature. Also out of China was news that Baidu, the world's fifth largest website, is now accepting bitcoin for certain services.

Perhaps not incidentally, CNY price movement has been a notable leader in the latest rally. Overlaying CNY/BTC and USD/BTC trading history, it becomes clear that USD/BTC trading has been largely responsive to the Chinese markets. The graph below shows bitcoin trading in CNY markets, as well as USD/BTC levels converted to CNY for comparison. Overlaid on top of them is the differential between their prices at any given time. The differential tends to normalize around 2-3% and spikes/sinks periodically with price movement. In reviewing this chart, a consistent pattern becomes clear: CNY price movement occurs first, increasing the differential, with USD catching up much later and eventually sending the differential back down towards 3%.

192 Flares77Facebook99Google+11LinkedIn5Email--192 Flares—

Price Suppression Theory Mainstream After Single $650 Million Sell Trade | Zero Hedge

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Archived Version

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 15:39

Today's AM fix was USD 1,255.50, EUR 929.59 and GBP 787.79 per ounce.Yesterday's AM fix was USD 1,276.00, EUR 941.49 and GBP 799.50 per ounce.

Gold inched up $2.50 or 0.2% yesterday, closing at $1,272.70/oz. Silver slid $0.03 or 0.14% closing at $21.26. Platinum climbed $12.80 or 0.9% to $1,376.50 /oz, while palladium rose $0.09 or 0% to $711.59/oz.

Gold In USD, 3 Days - (Bloomberg)

Gold snapped a four day losing streak yesterday but is under pressure again today. Gold traded in a narrow range overnight prior to aggressive selling that saw gold fall to $1,255/oz. Gold is hovering near three month lows despite the political shenanigans and impasse in Washington.

Gold, whose safe-haven appeal is usually burnished during times of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, has failed to gain despite protracted wrangling over the fiscal deadlock in the United States.

It has dropped about 5% towards $1,250/oz since a partial government shutdown began on October 1 and this is, in conjunction with frequently strange trading patterns is leading to deepening concerns about price suppression.

The massive single sell trade on Friday, estimated to be worth a staggering $650 million, which knocked prices $25 lower in three minutes and the poor performance of gold despite the appalling political chicanery in Washington and the U.S. fiscal and monetary position is leading to more questions regarding price manipulation and suppression.

Alex Rosenberg, a producer at CNBC (click on link for story) wrote the following:

''Gold dropped $25 in two minutes Friday morning following what appeared to be a single massive sell order, and professional traders are now pronouncing the sale a deliberate attempt to manipulate the market.

At 8:42 a.m. ET Friday morning, a firm appeared to sell 5,000 gold futures contracts "at the market," meaning at whatever price was available. The massive order was more than the market could take at once and led the CME to automatically halt trading for 10 seconds.

Eric Hunsader of Nanex told on Friday that 2,700 contracts were sold, which triggered the halt, and that the remaining 2,300 were sold once the market resumed trading.Since one futures contract controls 100 troy ounces of gold, and each troy ounce was worth $1,285 at the time of the sale, this party was selling some $640 million worth of gold in one shot. And it overwhelmed the liquidity in the market.

"Anyone with knowledge of the size and volume in the market would absolutely never, ever place a 5,000 [contract] sell [order] at market, because you could not estimate the offset price," said iiTrader CEO Rich Ilczyszyn.

If Ilczyszyn's firm were placing the order, he said, "we generally would piece the order in to work a better price." That's why he believes the trade was "an error."

Jim Iuorio, managing director at TJM Institutional Services, sees similarities between what happened to gold Friday and what happened Sept. 12, when a big gold sale at 2:54 a.m. ET similarly caused a trading halt and hurt the market.

"There is only one conclusion that seems logical regarding Friday's gold trade and the one from a month ago, and that's that they were designed to manipulate prices," Iuorio said. "They were slightly different, in that the one from a month ago was done when the market was illiquid in order to get the biggest prices movement. Friday's was done around the opening to ensure that there was maximum visibility."

Gold In USD, 20 Days - (Bloomberg)

Meanwhile in Australia, Robin Bromby, veteran finance journalist, author and publisher wrote in The Australian (click on link for story) below:

OCCASIONALLY it's useful to be reminded that not everything in the metals markets revolves around China.

That country has an interest in lower gold prices (making it cheaper to buy up much of the world's supply) but Beijing seems unlikely to have been involved in "unusual" events on Friday in New York. Out of the blue, just after the opening at Comex, there was placed a sell order covering two million ounces, an order so big it triggered an automatic 10-second trading interruption (and a $US30 an ounce fall in the metal's price).

If you were to round up the usual suspects, your first instinct would be to pull in the Federal Reserve and other central bankers along with the funds that do their bidding. After all, gold is the enemy of the money printers. The more money being created out of thin air, the more people trust those yellow bars.

There was a huge order unloaded on October 1, too, and then we had that episode in April when, within two hours, 13.4 million ounces was unloaded through Comex. Someone is determined to knock the stuffing out of gold.

Gold in US Dollars 5 Years with Support and Resistance - (Bloomberg)

Gold's price falls are very counter intuitive and suggests that Wall Street banks, either independently or in unison with the U.S. authorities possibly through the Working Group On Financial Markets or the Plunge Protection Team, are suppressing gold lower.

This appears to be being done through manipulation on concentrated selling on the COMEX.

The Gold Anti Trust Action Committee's (GATA long asserted claim that gold is being manipulated in order to maintain faith in the dollar and erode confidence in gold as a safe haven is looking more and more plausible by the day and appears to be going mainstream.

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Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Now Accepts Bitcoin

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Archived Version

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 03:49

What's This?

By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai2013-10-15 20:36:50 UTC

Baidu, also known as the "Google of China," is now accepting Bitcoin payments for Jiasule, its anti-DDoS (distributed denial of service) and firewall security product.

For Bitcoin, this partnership comes at a crucial time. After the feds busted the online drug bazaar Silk Road and seized all its Bitcoins '-- roughly 5% of the total in circulations '-- some speculated that it was the end of the virtual currency. But after dropping dramatically, Bitcoin's price has recovered, reaching a five-month high.

Now, the digital currency gets the backing of a real Internet giant. Baidu is the fifth most-visited website in the world and China's top site, according to Alexa.

"This is encouraging news, even more so since it is from China and with a NASDAQ-listed company," John Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation, told Mashable in an email.

Apart from adding credibility and legitimacy, this move could prompt more companies to start using Bitcoin.

"I am confident that as more companies see the benefits of frictionless payments with low fees, immediate settlement and zero chargebacks, they will want to accept Bitcoin simply to remain competitive," he said.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: George Frey/Getty Images

Topics: Baidu, Bitcoin, china, US & World, virtual currency, World


New York Times editorial board came out and admitted it was strongly opposed to nuclear energy

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Source: Atomic Insights

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:16

In a brief editorial published on October 14, 2013, the New York Times editorial board admitted what many of us had suspected for many years '' it is strongly opposed to the use of nuclear energy and believes that its use should be halted. The editorial was titled Fukushima Politics; it is quite possible that some might overlook or misunderstand this clear position statement.

However, a careful reader would have difficulty constructing any other interpretation of the opinion piece, which was composed by the editorial board, not an independent contributor.

Here is the lede and the second paragraph of the piece:

''Zero nuclear plants.'' With this recent call, Japan's very popular former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is again in the limelight. His bold new stance challenges his prot(C)g(C), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose policies would restart as many nuclear power plants as possible (now all shut down), and even promote the export of nuclear reactors. Mr. Koizumi deems the pursuit of nuclear power ''aimless'' and ''irresponsible.''

Japan should welcome Mr. Koizumi's intervention and begin a healthy debate on the future of nuclear power that has not occurred in the two and a half years since the Fukushima disaster. The Japanese Diet did conduct an independent investigation, which concluded Fukushima to be a man-made disaster. But the investigation did not lead to serious parliamentary debate.

(Emphasis added.)

And here is the concluding paragraph:

Prime Minister Abe has been stressing the need to shed the deflation mentality for Japan to lift itself out of economic stagnation. Japan can certainly do with a change in attitude. Mr. Koizumi makes a compelling argument that if the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were to announce a zero nuclear policy, ''the nation could come together in the creation of a recyclable society unseen in the world,'' and the public mood would rise in an instant.

Apparently the New York Times editorial board is under the mistaken impression that it would be a good thing for Japan's economy and environment to abandon its hard won nuclear energy expertise and to continue to burn an additional $40-$50 billion per year worth of imported coal, oil and natural gas. The notion that a crowded, industrialized island nation can depend on unreliable solar and wind energy is absurd; no matter what anyone professes to believe the technical facts are difficult to dispute. Virtually all of the output of Japan's currently shuttered nuclear plants has been replaced by fossil fuel consumption or self-denial.

So far, Japan's economy seems to have been able to absorb the additional expense; that is the nature of deficit financing, the economic activity that results from a rebuilding program, and the government's ability to tax imported energy fuels. The world's atmosphere also seems to have absorbed the additional CO2 without any difficulty; in comparison to what the rest of us are already dumping, a few million tons more is simply a rounding error. As the New York banking industry has evidently recognized, a shift in Japan to burning more imported fossil fuel will inevitably break its ''deflationary'' cycle. It will, instead, result in an ever rising cost of living for most of the country's population.

In case I have not yet been clear enough, I completely disagree with the New York Times on this issue. No one should be making long-term energy supply choices based on popularity contests conducted after a two-and-a-half year long negative campaign against the most capable technology available. The primary beneficiaries from such a course of action would be bankers, fossil fuel suppliers, unreliable energy system developers and construction companies. The public would pay dearly and our shared atmosphere would suffer irreversible consequences.

Physicist: There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster

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Archived Version

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:24

I have watched a TV programme called 'Fear Factor.' In the series there are contestants who have to confront their worst fears to see who bails out and who can fight the fear and get through.

People who are afraid of heights are made to Bungee-jump off a high bridge, and people who are scared of spiders or insects are made to get in a bath full of spiders.

In virtually all cases the contestants later say that the fearful experience was not actually as bad as they feared. So the fear of the fear was greater than the fear itself 'when the chips were down.'

This is often the case in life, that the fear of some factor turns out to be worse than the experience itself. The human mind builds a very scary image in the imagination. The imagination then feeds the fear.

If the picture in the imagination is not very specific or clear it is worse, because the fear factor feeds on the unknown.

This is what has happened in the public mind concerning nuclear power over the last half century. Concepts concerning nuclear reactions and nuclear radiation are in themselves complicated and mysterious.

Over the last couple of decades physics advances in fields such as quantum mechanics, which is linked to nuclear processes has compounded matters for the public. The image of strong and mysterious forces and effects is now well entrenched. There are Hollywood movies and TV programmes about space travellers or alien invaders who use time travel and quantum forces, and then battle to evade the dangerous intergalactic nuclear zones.

A consequence of all this is that internationally the public is now really 'spooked' when it comes to the topic of nuclear power. A real 'fear factor' looms over the mere word 'nuclear.' Newspapers love this, and really push imagery like; 'nuclear leak' or 'radiation exposure.'

To a nuclear physicist like me, I look upon such public reaction half with amusement and half with dismay. The amusement comes from the fact that so many people can be scared so easily by so little. It is like shouting: ''Ghost in the bedroom,'' and everyone runs and hides in the hills.

The dismay reaction is that there is a body of anti-nuclear activists who do not want the public to know the truth, and the anti-nukes enjoy stoking the fear factor and maintaining public ignorance.

Let us now ponder the Fukushima nuclear incident which has been in the news again lately.

Firstly let us get something clear. There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster. Total number of people killed by nuclear radiation at Fukushima was zero. Total injured by radiation was zero. Total private property damaged by radiation' There was no nuclear disaster. What there was, was a major media feeding frenzy fuelled by the rather remote possibility that there may have been a major radiation leak.

At the time, there was media frenzy that ''reactors at Fukushima may suffer a core meltdown.'' Dire warnings were issued. Well the reactors did suffer a core meltdown. What happened? Nothing.

Certainly from the 'disaster' perspective there was a financial disaster for the owners of the Fukushima plant. The plant overheated, suffered a core meltdown, and is now out of commission for ever. A financial disaster, but no nuclear disaster.

Amazingly the thousands of people killed by the tsunami in the neighbouring areas who were in shops, offices, schools, at the airport, in the harbour and elsewhere are essentially ignored while there is this strange continuing phobia about warning people of 'the dangers of Fukushima.' We need to ask the more general question: did anybody die because of Fukushima? Yes they did. Why? The Japanese government introduced a forced evacuation of thousands of people living up to a couple of dozen kilometres from the power station. The stress of moving to collection areas induced heart attacks and other medical problems in many people. So people died because of Fukushima hysteria not because of Fukushima radiation.

Recently some water leaked out of the Fukushima plant. It contained a very small amount of radioactive dust. The news media quoted the radiation activity in the physics measure of miliSieverts. The public don't know what a Sievert or a milliSievert is. As it happens a milliSievert is a very small measure.

Doubling a very small amount is still inconsequential. It is like saying: ''Yesterday there was a matchstick on the football field; today there are two matchsticks on the football field. Matchstick pollution has increased by a massive 100% in only 24 hours.''

The statement is mathematically correct but silly and misleading.

At Fukushima a couple of weeks ago, some mildly radioactive water leaked into the sea. The volume of water was about equal to a dozen home swimming pools. In the ocean this really is a 'drop in the ocean.'

The radiation content was so little that people could swim in the ocean without the slightest cause for concern. Any ocean naturally contains some radioactivity all of the time anyway. There is natural radiation around us all of the time and has always been there since the birth of the earth.

Understandably the general public do not understand nuclear radiation so the strangest comments occur. On an internet blog some person stated that people on the north coast of Australia must be warned about the radiation in the sea coming from Fukushima. Good grief!

Meantime the Fukushima site now looks like an oil refinery. A lot of storage tanks have been built there to hold water that has been flushed through the damaged reactors to aid in cooling. Quite frankly, scientifically speaking, the best thing to do with the mildly radioactive waste water would be to intentionally pour it into the sea. The water which is currently in the new Fukushima storage tanks has already been filtered to remove radioactive Caesium.

All that is left is a bit of radioactive Tritium. Tritium is actually part of the water molecule anyway' what we really have is'...well, water in water. The Tritium atom is a hydrogen atom, which has two neutrons in its nucleus which is a normal but rare variation in the hydrogen atom. Most hydrogen atoms have only a single proton in the nucleus and no neutrons. A rare hydrogen variation is called Deuterium and such atoms have one proton plus one neutron. Even rarer than Deuterium is the Tritium form of hydrogen which has one proton plus two neutrons. These variants are known as isotopes. Water is H2O and water molecules in which the Tritium isotope of the hydrogen atom is found are molecules referred to as 'Heavy Water.' It really is just water, so you can't filter it out of the normal 'light water.'

The Tritium heavy water is very mildly radioactive and is found normally in the sea all over the world all of the time. This Tritium concentration in the one thousand storage tanks at Fukushima is higher than that found naturally in the sea, but is still so low as to pose no real danger at all.

No doubt the Japanese government is too scared to release this water into the sea because of the howl of criticism which would no doubt follow.

A further complication is that in the last couple of weeks the press has reported further spillage of water. These reports are such that it looks like a continuous failure of the Fukushima engineers to contain the situation.

The latest spillage was about 400 litres of water, which is about as much liquid as would fill four motor car fuel tanks. Reportedly, one of the one thousand storage tanks was not totally horizontal when it was built so when it was filled to the top some water overflowed on one side.

As soon as the spillage occurred they fixed the problem. But the rules require the incident to be reported, even though the spillage was not of any biological consequence to anyone, or to any fauna or flora.

The Fukushima incident will continue to attract media attention for some time to come, I imagine. It has become such a good story to roll with that it will not just go away. However, in sober reflection and retrospection one has to come to the conclusion that far from being a nuclear disaster the Fukushima incident was actually a wonderful illustration of the safety of nuclear power.

The largest earthquake and consequent tsunami on record struck an ageing nuclear power plant which was built to a now obsolete boiling water reactor technology, and no nuclear damage resulted to people and property in the neighbourhood.

Poor management systems compounded matters and were implicated in the failure of the cooling circuit. The reactor cores suffered a meltdown. Due to the magnitude of the tsunami disaster there were no emergency services able to help, they were deployed elsewhere or paralysed because there were no roads or infrastructure available.

Hydrogen gas leaked out of a reactor, collected under the building's roof and then exploded, blowing the roof off in front of the world's TV cameras. Fukushima had devices called 'recombiners' designed to prevent the hydrogen build-up but they were not working because they needed an external electricity supply.

Financially speaking and operationally speaking the reactors were wrecked, but nobody was killed or injured by any nuclear radiation.

Fukushima showed that a nuclear power plant can take the maximum punch of nature's brutality, and yet the surrounding population does not fry and die as so often dramatically predicted by the fear factor enthusiasts.


First hand report from trained US Navy radiation worker about experience at Fukushima

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Archived Version

Source: Atomic Insights

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:17

The below first appeared in the comment thread of an article by Dr. Kevin Kemm titled Physicist: There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster. I highly recommend going and reading the full article. However, I believe that this comment thread extract deserves more attention that it would normally receive by being buried within a lengthy thread posted in response to Dr. Kemm's article.

It is a dialog that includes two first-hand reports from nuclear-trained US Navy sailors stationed on the USS George Washington in March 2011, when the Fukushima nuclear power station made its dramatic entry into the world's lexicon of nuclear energy.

(I hope no one is offended by my effort to reproduce and publicize an important discussion full of useful information.)

Matt Cash: No one is immune from the hysteria.

I was stationed in Japan onboard the USS George Washington (in the reactor department) when the tsunami hit Fukushima. Our sensors are extremely sensitive, and the dust was able to set them off. Naturally, almost everyone not-nuclear trained started to panic about the potential contamination, which lead to the option of a mass evac from base. Of course, all of the nuclear trained workers just rolled their eyes and expected a massive influx of work to quell fears and start cleanup.

It was NOT fun.

Marushka France: 'Hysteria'? The exposure and health problems are very real and have been recorded on film as well.

Admiral in Japan called in to NRC about exposure and concerns because exposure was profoundly high '' on deck and at the base in Tokyo.

Try reading the NRC FOIA docs yourself

Brian: I was on the ground at Tokyo for the entire ''disaster.'' I received less exposure in the 50 days I was there than I did on the flight to Japan

RB: Tokyo is 180 miles from Fukushima! What was your exposure for your 50 day stay, and who issued you dosimetry?

David McFarland: The base is not at Tokyo.

It's at Yokosuka, Japan, south of Tokyo. It is on the Tokyo bay, but there is more than a full city (Yokohama and it's surrounding suburbs and towns) between the two. I should know. I'm a Nuclear Operator (trained specifically in Reactor Safety) stationed at Yokosuka. I'm on the base, at my home, as we speak.

I received my dosimeter from the Navy. I was a co-worker of Matt Cash, also aboard the USS George Washington (I am still attached to it to this day and live in Japan). I had the pleasure of being one of the lucky few who got to stand in a big giant metal box and look at the readouts of how much I'd received '' which amounted to ''if you'd eaten a banana and it was still in your digestive tract, it'd light up like a spotlight.'' (Bananas contain ~15 bequerels of K-40, or 15 disintegrations a second '' virtually nothing)

Essentially, being ''in the plume,'' meant ''DON'T LICK THE GROUND,'' and you'd be fine. Even if you did, you'd pretty much have to eat the dust on a regular basis to have an effect '' that effect being you might set off a radiac. To get blood or blood effects, the first signs of radiation sickness, you'd have to have gone to extreme measures and it'd have to be quite intentional. It was actually to the point that it couldn't be guaranteed it wasn't coming from the Chinese Coal Plants, who regularly spew out trace amounts of uranium and other harmful elements and contaminate far more than Fukushima ever has.

I then had the pleasure of doing dose measurements on hundreds of my coworkers, likely Matt Cash, the above commenter, as well. I don't remember who all I surveyed. It was a large number. Most people's bodies, even the areas of concern of Cesium concentration acted as a shield to background radiation.

I also had the pleasure of using much of my training in radiation work. I was able to go up with our Engineering Laboratory Technicians and survey our flight-deck, which is coated in non-skid '' as in, very porous and probably the best thing to trap contamination around, and hold it in to keep it from getting washed away by rain. Our sensors are so sensitive and use measurements so miniscule (more miniscule than a millisievert, as denoted in the article) that it LOOKED like we were reading a lot. Naturally, when we saw large numbers, some of us new guys, knowing a lot about radiation and not a lot about it's application at the time (still far more than the general public), freaked out a LITTLE bit (we still knew it wasn't enough to harm us).

Naturally, we decided to put our educations to good use '' those ''high'' levels of radiation amounted to virtually nothing at all. Enough that laying down on that flight-deck would net you about twice as much as sun did above you. And that's on something that trapped that stuff in '' and getting direct exposure to it '' and again, for a very limited time.

I'll say this again: I've been educated on nuclear power by the Navy (it is frankly not probably as good as the Author's education, but is years worth of education most commentors on this article do not have). I was there. I held the radiacs. I punched the numbers on a calculator. I work with people who have their living made off of this matter and consulted with them. The math added up to a grand whopping ''don't worry about it.'' Yes, there was radiation. There was contamination. There still is contaminated water at Fukushima. There is even a bit of contaminated water in the ocean.

There's water in the air. Are you worried about drowning? No? Why not? Oh, it's because there is so little?

Tokyo's background levels are so low right now, you'd actually be getting a break if you traveled there by boat (as opposed to getting a whopping 7mrem by flying '' again, nothing, but more than any of us got by staying in Japan instead of flying out) from, say, a place with high background levels, like California.

Navy Nuclear-power Admirals and Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory historically ''freak out'' more than anyone else. Nuclear Power Plants have a lot of public hysteria to deal with. You say you detected radiation outside of a nuclear power plant, it doesn't matter if it was from the sun, people will freak out. The military has a lot of the same problems. Combine the two, and you have people who have to walk on eggshells for a living '' and in doing so, the worst they can do is expose anyone to anything considerable, whether or not it is their fault.

The Admiral you are talking about is not nuclear trained, and so has no idea what to do. He (my former boss, before he rotated to another location) was concerned on the matter because he did not wish us, or our families, harmed, and needed to know what to do.

Before you start saying ''you got all your information from the military!'' No, I got it first-hand. I saw it. I did it. I lived it. You don't fake radiation levels or harmful effects '' or in my case, lack thereof.

Luca Bertagnolio: Thank you for your great first-hand contribution, Sir.

This is the kind of information that should be circulated by those who understand science and technology.

We need to have more people who are well aware of the fact that we can measure radioactivity down to the individual atom decay, but that does not mean that it's dangerous.

We need to have more people spread the good news about how clean and reliable power generation using nuclear is, plain and simple. And you've just done it, right there, by telling us about your first-hand experience. Thank you.

David McFarland '' thank you for your Navy service and for your service to humanity by providing this first hand report. If you read this, please contact me through the contact link available in the footer of each page on Atomic Insights. We have a lot to talk about.

Common Core

Deciding Who Sees Students' Data -

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Archived Version

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 06:24

WHEN Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County, Colo., public schools, heard about a data repository called inBloom, she thought it sounded like a technological fix for one of her bigger headaches. Over the years, the Jeffco school system, as it is known, which lies west of Denver, had invested in a couple of dozen student data systems, many of which were incompatible.

In fact, there were so many information systems '-- for things like contact information, grades and disciplinary data, test scores and curriculum planning for the district's 86,000 students '-- that teachers had taken to scribbling the various passwords on sticky notes and posting them, insecurely, around classrooms and teachers' rooms.

There must be a more effective way, Dr. Stevenson felt.

InBloom, a nonprofit corporation based in Atlanta, seemed to offer a solution: it could collect information from the district's many databases and store it in the cloud, making access easier, and protect it with high-level encryption.

Minh Uong / The New York Times

The company has name-brand backing: $100 million in seed money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Beyond storing data, it promised to help personalize learning '-- by funneling student data to software dashboards where teachers could track individual students and, with the right software, customize lessons in real time. Also, districts could effortlessly share student records with developers seeking to create educational tools for schools. In other words, for Dr. Stevenson, it represented not just a fix to a narrow technical problem, but also a potentially revolutionary way to help educate students.

''We are joining the new generation of data management,'' Dr. Stevenson said enthusiastically in the March issue of ''Chalk Talk,'' the school district's newsletter for parents.

She did not imagine that five months later, she would be sitting in a special school board meeting in the district's headquarters, listening as a series of parents, school board members and privacy lawyers assailed the plan to outsource student data storage to inBloom. What troubled the naysayers at that August session was that the district seemed to be rushing to increase data-sharing before weighing the risks of granting companies access to intimate details about children. They noted that administrators had no policies in place to govern who could see the information, how long it would be kept or whether it would be shared with the colleges to which students applied.

''Students are currently subject to more forms of tracking and monitoring than ever before,'' Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington who appeared via video conferencing, told the room packed with parents. ''While we understand the value of data for promoting and evaluating personalized learning, there are too few safeguards for the amount of data collected and transmitted from schools to private companies.''

An inBloom video, above, offers a vision (using fictional students) of new uses for data in education.


Jefferson County is not the only place where parents have challenged the adoption of inBloom. Parents in Louisiana raised a ruckus after discovering that their children's Social Security numbers had been uploaded to inBloom. In April, Louisiana officials said they would remove all student data from the database. Of the nine states that originally signed up this year to participate, just three '-- Colorado, New York and Illinois '-- are actively pursuing the service.

Still, that accounts for a lot of children. New York State has already uploaded data on 90 percent of 2.7 million public school and charter students '-- data stripped of identifiers like students' names '-- into inBloom; state education officials plan to upload a complete set soon, including names.

But New York parents have no say in the matter, said Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit group that has been the leading challenger of inBloom.

''We are officially the worst state in the country when it comes to student privacy,'' she said, speaking of New York. Educators are naturally excited about the potential for new tools to improve learning. But the Jeffco controversy is a reminder that it can be easy to leap at new and unproven technologies before considering potential risks.

At the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Tex., this year, Iwan Streichenberger, left, the chief executive of inBloom, appeared with Bill Gates, whose foundation provided seed money for the company.

Amy E. Price / Inbloom, via Pr Newswire

EDUCATION technology software for prekindergarten to 12th grade is an $8 billion market, according to estimates from the Software and Information Industry Association. One major reason is the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a program to standardize English and math curriculums nationally. To prepare for assessment tests for those standards, many districts across the country are investing in software to analyze individual student performance in more detail.

Services like inBloom want to speed the introduction and lower the cost of these assessment tools by standardizing data storage and security. The idea is that inBloom's open-source code could spur developers to create apps for all its clients, reducing the need for them to customize software to each school district. In theory, that would make the products cheaper for schools.

Recent changes in the regulation of a federal education privacy law have also helped the industry. That law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, required schools to obtain parental permission before sharing information in their children's educational records. The updated rules permit schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management.

InBloom made its debut in February by announcing that nine states, representing more than 11 million students, had agreed to help develop or test the technology. A month later, Bill Gates introduced it as a ''new, exciting thing'' in his keynote speech at SXSWedu education conference in Austin, Tex.

InBloom offers its clients a vision of continuously quantified students and seamlessly connected teachers. A video on its Web site presents a model of what this techno-utopia might look like.

In one scene, a teacher with a tablet computer crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly. Later, she moves to a student named Tyler and selects an e-book ''for at-risk students'' for his further reading. The video follows Tyler home, where his mother logs into a parent portal for an update on his school status: attendance, 86 percent; performance, 72 percent. She taps a button and sends the e-book to play on the family TV.

InBloom doesn't actually provide any of the user-end software '-- the student assessment dashboard, the reading analytics app, the parent portal '-- shown in the video. Executives at the company see their service as the connective tissue between teachers and these technologies, which would be developed by software vendors. In other words, one inBloom goal is to streamline access to students' data to bolster the market for educational products.

''We are not creating commercial apps. Our role is to sit in the middle, to facilitate that innovation,'' Iwan Streichenberger, the C.E.O. of inBloom, said in a phone interview. ''There are tools that come in, mine and analyze the data and make recommendations.''

Yet, for all of inBloom's neutral-sounding intentions, industry analysts say it has stirred some parents' fears about the potential for mass-scale surveillance of students. Parents like Rachael Stickland, a mother of two Jeffco students, say that schools are amassing increasing amounts of information about K-12 students with little proof that it will foster their critical thinking or improve their graduation rates.

''It's a new experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors,'' she said, ''and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids.''

InBloom seems designed to nudge schools toward maximal data collection. School administrators can choose to fill in more than 400 data fields. Many are facts that schools already collect and share with various software or service companies: grades, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities. Administrators can also upload certain details that students or parents may be comfortable sharing with teachers, but not with unknown technology vendors. InBloom's data elements, for instance, include family relationships (''foster parent'' or ''father's significant other'') and reasons for enrollment changes (''withdrawn due to illness'' or ''leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident'').

Ms. Barnes, the privacy lawyer, said she was particularly troubled by the disciplinary details that could be uploaded to inBloom because its system included subjective designations like ''perpetrator,'' ''victim'' and ''principal watch list.'' Students, she said, may grow out of some behaviors or not want them shared with third parties. She also warned educators to be wary of using subjective data points to stratify or channel children.

One scene in the inBloom video, for instance, shows a geometry teacher virtually reassigning students' seating assignments based on their ''character strengths'' '-- helpfully coded as green, yellow and red. On his tablet, the teacher moves a green-coded female student (''actively participates: 98 percent'') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy (''shows enthusiasm: 67 percent'').

Executives at inBloom say their service has been unfairly maligned. It is entirely up to school districts or states to decide which details about students to store in the system and with whom to share them, Sharren Bates, inBloom's chief product officer, said. She said the company does not look at, use, analyze, mine or sell the student data it stores.

Ms. Bates, who had flown in from Los Angeles to address the special August session of the Jeffco school board, assured it: ''All of the decisions about what data is stored and what applications are approved and what users can see that data in those applications are all a local customer decision.''

MS. STICKLAND, the Jeffco parent, learned about her school district's partnership with inBloom earlier this year, while perusing an education blog.

She was already attuned to data privacy and security issues because she works at a nonprofit energy organization that pays for the electricity and gas of facilities like shelters for battered women. Ms. Stickland's job requires her to comply with strict rules that limit access to data, like addresses and phone numbers, which could make her clients vulnerable to intruders.

Reading about inBloom, she wondered whether Jeffco officials had investigated the ramifications of storing and sharing student data with education technology vendors.

She also worried that district officials might be unable to evaluate inBloom objectively, given its backing by the Gates Foundation, a major donor to public schools whose grant money Jeffco was hoping to attract. She quickly sought a meeting with Dr. Stevenson, the superintendent.

''I think they were star-struck and didn't do their due diligence,'' Ms. Stickland said.

In July, the Gates Foundation awarded Jeffco a $5.2 million grant for teacher development. Lynn Setzer, a school district spokeswoman, said administrators had been completely objective in their evaluation of inBloom.

For believers in data-driven education, the idea of collating data from a student's record has the same logic as electronic health records.

''Do you want to take your child to the doctor and have three data points '-- height, weight and age '-- or do you also want data from a hospital in another state?'' asked Bob Wise, a former governor of West Virginia who is an inBloom director. ''I want the most data points available so my child can have the best diagnosis.''

Consolidating and analyzing data that the district already collects just makes common sense to some educators. David Millard, a Jeffco fifth-grade teacher, goes so far as to extract data by hand from different databases and create his own spreadsheets so he can get a more comprehensive view of his students' progress. He thinks that parents should have access to this data about their children's progress, too. ''We are in critical need of a system that ties together the data that we have,'' Mr. Millard said during the school board meeting.

Dr. Stevenson envisions inBloom as a vital part of doing just that. The district plans to invest up to $2 million in a student assessment dashboard being built by LoudCloud Systems, a software developer in Dallas, and she wants inBloom to supply data to that dashboard. ''Think of how useful your car dashboard is,'' Dr. Stevenson said in a recent interview. ''You know if you are going too fast, you know if you are going too slow, you know if your tires are low.''

But inBloom isn't actually necessary for the dashboard to work, said Manoj Kutty, chief executive of LoudCloud. His company's system could pull student information directly from the local data storage system that Jeffco already has.

''We might be perfectly fine working with these school districts directly,'' he said.

''FIFTY percent of this project has good intentions,'' Paula Noonan, a Jeffco school board member, said of the inBloom plan. ''The other 50 percent is totally full of risk that hasn't been examined and weighed.''

Concerns about privacy and liability have forced the district to slow down and really think about the use of inBloom. Jeffco's current service agreement says the data repository doesn't guarantee that its electronic files on students are not susceptible to intrusion or attack. Other districts in Colorado, and in other states, are closely watching Jeffco as they consider participating themselves. Dr. Stevenson, who was initially reluctant to allow parents to opt out of inBloom, fearing it would be too expensive and technologically cumbersome, recently notified them that they would have that option. On the advice of privacy advocates and parents, she has also revised her original plan to upload student disciplinary data to inBloom.

''We are really looking at the classroom data that is fundamental to academic progress,'' she said. ''We can do that without disciplinary data.''

The district expects to decide by January on whether to test the data repository next fall.

Dr. Stevenson acknowledges that the district must develop policies to specify which data elements to upload to inBloom and the conditions under which they could be shared with vendors. The district has set up a data management advisory council, which includes some parents who work in data security and compliance. To everyone's frustration, there are no accepted national guidelines to follow because, until now, K-12 school districts have largely managed their own data storage.

''There aren't a lot of organizations that have all of the policies in place,'' Dr. Stevenson said.

That means each inBloom client must develop its own policies. In New York State, for example, Thomas L. Rogers, superintendent of Nassau County schools, suggested at a recent public hearing that the state form an oversight board to manage inBloom's practices. ''My concern is that the monopoly inBloom creates sits outside the oversight of a publicly elected body,'' he said.

Ms. Bates of inBloom said it was important for school districts to define their own legitimate uses for their students' data and to develop policies to manage them.

''We don't have all the answers, '' she said.

Educators, in other words, are on their own.

What Kentucky Can Teach the Rest of the U.S. About the Common Core - Atlantic Mobile

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Archived Version

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 17:25

Next ArticleBart Everson/FlickrLOUISVILLE, Ky.'--Freshmen in Kate Barrows' English class at Liberty High School, an alternative school in Louisville, were trying to solve a crime. A wealthy man had received a letter demanding money, or else his daughter would be kidnapped. Barrows guided the students through a series of questions to identify the extortionist.

Was the writer male or female? They thought female: The writer asked for the money in a ''pretty blue pocketbook.'' Could it have been a professional gangster? A gangster would just rob you and wouldn't bother with threatening notes, the class decided.

The exercise was a lighthearted way to demonstrate how Barrows will expect her students to read more difficult texts later in the year. ''We're going to keep looking at this page of writing, and we're going to tear it apart,'' Barrows said.

In Karen Cash's Algebra 2 class down the hall, students cut grid paper to make boxes, graphed the volume of the shapes they created, and wrote algebraic equations based on the patterns. Liberty's math department has made it a point to have students work through the mathematical process on their own instead of listening to lectures. Students have a checklist to go through when they can't solve a problem, before turning to the old default of asking a teacher. Questions on the checklist include: What information does the problem give us? Can we draw a picture?

Liberty's emphasis on inquiry-based learning is relatively new, and it comes courtesy of the Common Core State Standards, which Kentucky adopted three years ago. Since then, Barrows, Cash, and other teachers across the state have focused on new concepts and trained in new teaching methods. Yet, Kentucky has still not seen a substantial increase in test scores'--the yardstick that the success of the new standards will ultimately be measured on.


In fall 2010, Kentucky became the first of 45 states to adopt the Common Core, making the state a test case for the standards. So far, Kentucky's experience over the past three school years suggests it will be a slow and potentially frustrating road ahead for the other states that are using the Common Core. Test scores are still dismal, and state officials have expressed concern that the pace of improvement is not fast enough. Districts have also seen varying success in changing how teachers teach, something that was supposed to change under the new standards.

The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, two nonprofit coalitions, developed the Common Core in 2009 and 2010 out of a concern that the United States was falling behind on international measures of student achievement and stagnating on its own benchmarks of success, like the National Assessment of Education Progress.

''To maintain America's competitive edge, we need for all our students to be prepared and ready to compete with students from around the world,'' NGA Vice Chair Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said when the initiative was announced in June of 2009. ''Common standards that allow us to internationally benchmark our students' performance with other top countries have the potential to bring about a real and meaningful transformation of our education system.''

The groups hired experts from universities, testing groups ACT, Inc. and College Board, and other nonprofits to write the standards, and committees of educators reviewed and validated their work.

Common Core architects promised it would fundamentally change teaching and learning. ''The day has come for both mathematics and language arts. What sits before the governors is the greatest opportunity we have to improve learning in these two areas,'' William Schmidt, a Michigan State University Professor who helped review math standards, said in June 2010. ''This truly could be the turning point for education reform in the United States.''

Not only would the standards be much more difficult than those in place in many states, they would move away from rote memorization. In math, students would be more responsible for showing their work and applying formulas rather than just memorizing them. In English, an emphasis would be placed on detailed critiques of readings and forming arguments based on evidence, not opinions. Teachers would transition from lecturing to facilitating student discussions.

In 2009, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on states to ''raise the bar dramatically in terms of higher standards.'' The Obama administration gave out grants and waivers from federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind law to states that adopted more rigorous standards, which most states interpreted as the Common Core. Duncan called the Common Core standards ''an important step toward the improvement of quality education nationwide'' when they were released and pledged to ''support state implementation efforts'' with federal funds.

A bipartisan group of high-profile education leaders'--including former governors Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitch Daniels of Indiana, both Republicans, and Democratic governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts'--have also championed the Common Core.

''There are a lot of people that believe that somehow this is a national takeover of what is the domain of local and state governments,'' Bush said in a September speech to the National Press Club. ''But in fact, these are 45 states that have voluntarily come together to create fewer, higher, deeper standards that, when you benchmark them to the best of the world, they are world class.''

Critics have raised concerns about the content of the standards themselves, however. For instance, the English standards call for more informational texts to be read and analyzed in all classes, including science and social studies. Some educators, like Sandra Stotsky, who worked on Massachusetts's acclaimed standards, worry the emphasis will decrease the amount of time studying great literature and important concepts in other subjects.

''If a science teacher is trying to teach a chemistry lab, what do you want them to do?'' she said. ''Give them a book on Madame Curie?''

For Kentucky, the standards represented an opportunity to aim again for a long-time goal. Educators had hoped for years to compete with states like Massachusetts and Minnesota, the country's education elite. Two decades earlier, the state had undertaken an ambitious education overhaul, the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which introduced new standards and assessments. But the reforms failed to catapult the state to the top. Kentucky students continued to be mediocre on national exams. A report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, gave Kentucky's old math and English standards a D. Only 11 other states were rated as poorly or worse in both subjects.

In April 2009 a state law mandated that Kentucky develop more rigorous educational standards. Shortly after, the architects of the Common Core began to working on their new standards. Kentucky expressed interest early on, and officials and educators gave feedback often. In 2010, although the standards had not yet been completed, the state board of education voted to adopt them. The finished Common Core standards received an A- in math and B+ in English from Fordham report.

''Our teachers are going to need a lot of help. It's hard work, but it's the right work, at the right time, for the right people,'' Kentucky education commissioner Terry Holliday said in a video-taped interview in 2011.

''It will help level the playing field with other states,'' said Kelly Sprinkles, superintendent of Knox County Public Schools in southeastern Kentucky. ''We have more distance to travel, but Common Core will help us get there.''


Common Core comes with a slew of state mandates about content and emphasizes testing as a measure of school success. While some schools and teachers, like the ones at Liberty, have fully bought into the changes and have access to resources to help them make those changes happen, in other places Common Core is seen as more of a top-down content shift.

''It's kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on a very big boat,'' fourth-grade teacher Justin Elliott, from Engelhard Elementary School in Louisville, said. ''Sometimes the way we use Common Core puts us further down the right path, and sometimes the way we use the Common Core turns into a way to know, 'Okay, what am I going to drill them on this week?'''

At nearly every grade level in Kentucky, Common Core introduces content to students at a younger age than the old standards did. For example, in math, the order of operations used to be covered late in the year in sixth grade; under the Common Core, fifth graders start with it on day one.

''They're still having trouble mastering the basics and you're trying to add stuff on top,'' said Jason Cornett, a math teacher at Flat Lick Elementary School in Knox County. ''Over all [Common Core] is a positive change, but it's been hard on some of the kids in the middle of the transition.''

Knox County, an isolated, rural district in the Appalachian Mountains with a 16 percent unemployment rate, is the kind of low-performing district that officials hope Common Core will pull up. At Flat Lick, the district's poorest elementary school, 89 percent of students qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunch. Attendance rates are always highest on Friday, when the school gives out backpacks full of free food to students.

The district has traditionally been among the lowest performing in the state; in 2013, the district scored in the 20th percentile statewide on standardized tests.

The state hosted a series of regional trainings in 2010, where representatives from school districts could learn how to teach their colleagues about the new standards. No extra funding has been allocated to districts to help them prepare for Common Core, though.

Knox County, which is about two hours away from the nearest urban area, sent a few teachers to the training, but is doing the bulk of the transition work in-house. The district has used grant money from state and local sources to pay teachers to compare Common Core to the state's old standards, revise the district's curricula, and identify gaps in content.

Flat Lick, like other schools in Knox County, relies primarily on one-on-one interventions to make up the difference between Common Core and the old standards. Teachers meet weekly to determine which students need extra help and small groups of students are frequently pulled out of class. But the effort is difficult to sustain. The school has lost a math resource teacher, and drops in Title I funding threaten the school's ability to do more remediation even as students struggle with basic arithmetic.

The transition to Common Core has been less noticeable at Knox's highest performing school. Jesse D. Lay Elementary School's students are mostly working class, and the school ranked in the 69th percentile on Kentucky's 2013 tests.

Sheila Terrell, Lay's curriculum director, and her principal, Jeff Frost, compared Common Core to using a new textbook and said it's led to only minor changes in how their teachers operate in the classroom. They comply with all state laws and mandates, but don't feel like an overhaul of their classroom teaching is necessary. Lay already has good teachers, they say, and good teaching is good teaching.

Superintendent Sprinkles expects a more dramatic shift for most schools, though. ''There's no way a teacher can teach the old way'--stand and deliver,'' he said.

Still in transition, the district is a mix of old and new. In a classroom at Knox Central High School this August, Victoria Pope was guiding her Advanced Placement U.S. Literature students through William Bradford's ''Of Plymouth Plantation,'' a lesson she teaches every year. Students sat in rows, their heads bowed over thick textbooks, and took turns reading out loud. Pope perched on a stool at the front of the room occasionally interjecting with questions'--''Why would he want you to know there was a guy on the ship who made fun of him?'''--and comments'-- ''He's telling you he fixed a beam. He wants you to know he's self-sufficient.''

Across the hallway, Rachel Hibbard was experimenting with a new way of teaching English. She introduced her sophomores to the rhetorical triangle, a lens used to analyze different kinds of arguments, with a Ram truck commercial. Under Common Core, the rhetorical triangle concept will be a cornerstone of 10th grade as students are asked to think critically about the relationship between audience and message and to construct arguments on their own. Students were actively answering her questions and chiming in with some of their own.


The first tests based on the Common Core standards were administered in Kentucky in spring of 2012, at the end of the first year of full implementation. Testing the harder standards produced worse results. Proficiency ratings were about 30 percentage points lower than they had been the year before. The same drop was seen in New York this spring when it became the second state to test under the new standards. Common Core supporters say the results are a necessary growing pain of shifting to more difficult, but still realistic expectations of students. David Coleman, one of the Common Core architects, told The Atlantic last year that states who use the standards should expect ''a short-term reduction in [test] scores.''

The news was only slightly better for Kentucky this year. ''Overall, the math and reading scores in grade 3 though 8 and high school did go up, but the concerns we have is that they did not go up fast enough,'' Holliday said at a September press conference announcing the new results. Statewide only about 40 percent of students scored at least proficient in math and about 50 percent in reading. And the gap has increased between the percentage of white students who are proficient and the percentage of African Americans.

Opponents have become more vocal. A group of Kentuckians is attempting to follow Ohio's lead and get a bill introduced to repeal the standards. In June, the board of education felt the need to pass a resolution reaffirming its support for the Common Core.

The mix of educator responses to Common Core in Kentucky'--and the still-lackluster test scores'--suggest it won't lead to an instant revolution, in Kentucky or elsewhere. The standards have to contend with the skill level of students and declining school budgets, which allow for limited education resources to help them catch up. Common Core also has to win the respect of skeptical educators who have seen waves of education reform before. And incremental progress provides openings for opponents to make their case against the standards and erode support among an American public that's still unfamiliar and confused about what they are.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Next ArticleSarah Butrymowicz is a staff writer at the Hechinger Report.


Kaesong Industrial Complex

The North is slowly extending the deterioration in the political atmosphere to Kaesong, which it agreed to keep open under all circumstances. It also agreed to internationalize Kaesong in cooperation with South Korea, but is now reneging on that agreement, just as it reneged on the agreement to permit reunions of separated family members last month. The reason ostensibly is the hostile attitude of the South which the North has found offensive. South Korean experts suggest that the that North Korea primarily is concerned with tourism to Mount Kumgang on the southeast coast, which South Korea is not yet ready to finance and resume. Kim Jung Un appears to have staked his personal prestige on creating playgrounds, tourist attractions and sporting venues as sources of earning hard currency quickly.


Forced student labour is central to the Chinese economic miracle | Aditya Chakrabortty

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 16:41

Employees at a Foxconn factory in China: the company is among the biggest users of student labour in the country. Photograph: Darley Shen/Reuters

You'll hear a lot of pieties about China this week. As George Osborne and Boris Johnson schlep from Shanghai to Shenzhen, they'll give the usual sales spiel about trade and investment and the global race. What they won't talk much about is Zhang Lintong. Yet the 16-year-old's story tells you more about the human collateral in the relationship between China and the west than any number of ministerial platitudes.

In June 2011, Zhang and his teenage classmates were taken out of their family homes and dispatched to a factory making electronic gadgets. The pupils were away for a six-month internship at a giant Foxconn plant in the southern city of Shenzhen, a 20-hour train ride from their home in central China. He had no say in the matter, he told researchers. "Unless we could present a medical report certified by the city hospital that we were very ill, we had to go immediately."

As a first-year student at a secondary vocational school, it was illegal for Zhang (not his real name) to be sent on any kind of internship. And under Chinese law work-placements have to be directly related to a pupil's studies. Zhang was an arts major and a fan of the work of Russian realist painters. He was to spend half a year turning out iPhones and other consumer electronics.

The only child of a peasant family in the Chinese countryside, Zhang's first experience of pitching up at a mega-factory was to be split up from his equally bewildered classmates. They were forced to sleep in different factory dormitories, among adult strangers. Given the same uniforms as the regular workers, the interns' training was rudimentary. And then there was the work: Zhang performed one or two small tasks over and over again while standing for hours on end in a huge line turning out Apple products. "It's tiring and boring," he told researchers outside work. "I very much want to quit but I can't."

Incredible as it sounds, Zhang's story is actually typical. As the number one supplier to Apple and manufacturer for a host of other consumer-electronics firms, Foxconn is one of the largest employers in China '' and among the biggest users of student labour. In October 2010, the company estimated that, at times, up to 15% '' or 150,000 '' of its million-strong workforce were students. More than 28,000 were estimated to be interning for Apple alone. Last year, academics reported that 70% of the staff at a Honda gearbox factory were from secondary schools

Nor is such exploitation merely the stuff of recent history: just last week, Foxconn admitted that it had broken the law by making schoolchildren work overtime and night shifts. More than a thousand of them had reportedly been building the soon-to-be released PlayStation 4 games consoles.

Zhang's interview was one of 63 with student interns collected over two years in a forthcoming book by Jenny Chan, Pun Ngai and Mark Selden. The children's stories make upsetting reading. A 16-year-old girl suffers menstrual disorders in the middle of her internship. The pains continue for months, and she thinks they're caused by the night shifts and the stress of the factory: "We don't have breaks whenever we're behind on the production targets." The stranded girl is understandably reluctant to discuss the issue with her male line manager, yet her parents are so far away they can only offer suggestions over the phone.

Such tales aren't just a series of regrettable one-offs. Zhang and his classmates and the hundreds of thousands of teenagers like them are at the heart of one of the most powerful economic relationships at work today. They are part of a trading relationship in which Chinese children are forced into a manufacturing machine, with the connivance of both major employers and local government, to produce shiny things to be sold by billion-dollar multinationals to western consumers.

What do I mean by the connivance of government? The summer before Zhang was packed off to a Foxconn plant, a city in his home province of Henan ordered all its vocational schools to send their students to a Foxconn factory in the same city of Shenzhen. Those who had placements elsewhere were to break them off and rush south.

Chan and her colleagues believe this was to have a ready-trained workforce for the imminent opening of an iPhone plant in Henan. Far from being kept secret, the directive was press released and the provincial governor oversaw its implementation. Official recruitment targets were issued and the local government was offered a £1.6m subsidy to get Foxconn the workers it needed. And teachers went with their classes, paid by Foxconn to make sure their children worked hard and don't leave.

In one factory, the students complained about stomach aches, about choking '' and they'd ask about the safety of their workplace. How did their teacher respond? As he later told the researchers, he invoked the nuclear disaster at Fukushima: "Take a moment to think about the selflessness of the scientists and the medical teams [at Fukushima] when Japan reported the tragic radiation leak. None of the Japanese withdrew from rescue work. So everyone of us should take responsibility for the good of humanity." Through this system western consumers get amazing new gadgets year after year. Apple will tell you that the inhumane conditions at its Chinese supplier factories are now safely in the past, even though it admits that some of the internships are still "poorly run". It requires a convenient blindness to believe that. A report by Apple's auditors in May 2013 "found no interns has been engaged at Chengdu [a city in mid-western China] since September 2011". Yet an HR official for Foxconn told Chan in September 2011 that more than 7,000 student interns were working in the Chengdu factory '' over 10% of the entire staff.


Homeland Security official shot in Charleston, WV - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:18


The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is trying to piece together exactly what happened to Frank Kennedy, a training officer for the West Virginia Division Office of Homeland Security.

Deputies are now saying Kennedy was shot in the torso by a shotgun recovered in the woods near his house.

"It's pretty well quiet. I mean this is the first time we've pretty much had anything like this, to this extreme, ever happen," said Stoney Dotsen, a neighbor.

For those living in the Rutledge Road area of Charleston, a normal Sunday afternoon quickly became an unfamiliar scene as West Virginia State Police and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department investigated a neighborhood shooting.

"You really don't know about that situation but it is a scary thought, knowing it's close to the house," said Dotsen.

Deputies responded to a report of a shooting on Dons Drive around 2:30 in the afternoon. Arriving on scene they found Kennedy shot in the torso on his front lawn.

"It surprised me because he's a nice, turned person," said Dotsen.

Detectives say the investigation revealed the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. They say he used a handgun that was recovered in a wooded area nearby.

Troopers say Kennedy was shot in the torso. He was taken here to CAMC General where he is expected to survive after undergoing surgery.

"It's something you hear about in other areas not something you hear about in your own yard," said Dotsen.

Kennedy was a retired New York City police officer who responded during the September 11th terrorist attacks. Detectives are still investigating if the shooting was accidental or intentional.>



Detectives from the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department say Frank Kennedy suffered from a self-inflicted wound.

Kennedy, an official with the West Virginia Division Office of Homeland Security, was hit with a bullet in the chest in the Rutledge Road area of Charleston on Sunday.

A handgun was found in the woods near his front yard.

Kennedy was taken to CAMC General, where he had surgery and was treated for the injury. He is expected to recover.



The victim in a shooting that occurred in the Rutledge area of Charleston, WV has been identified as Frank Kennedy.

Kennedy is an official with the West Virginia Division Office of Homeland Security.

He is also a retired police officer from New York City who had worked at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was taken to an area hospital. Officials have not released an update on his condition.

Stay with for the latest information on this story.

ORIGINIAL STORY: Kanawha County 911 confirms they are responding to a shooting Sunday afternoon.

It happened about 2:30 p.m. at 54 Dons Drive in the Rutledge area of Charleston.

Details are still coming into the 13News newsroom at this time.

Dispatchers confirm one person was shot in the chest. However, their condition is unknown.

The West Virginia State Police and Kanawha County Sheriff's Office are responding to the scene.

Stay with for additional information on this developing story.

War on Drug$

Message to the Congress -- Colombia Traffickers | The White House

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:56

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 16, 2013


Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia declared in Executive Order 12978 of October 21, 1995, is to continue in effect beyond October 21, 2013.

The circumstances that led to the declaration on October 21, 1995, of a national emergency have not been resolved. The actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and to cause an extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm in the United States and abroad. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12978 with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia.


THE WHITE HOUSE,October 16, 2013.

NA Tech

Powered by the crowd, EFF attacks infamous ''podcasting patent'' | Ars Technica

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:33

There are lots of patents out there claiming basic Internet functionalities or business practices, but some of them just hit a nerve. That's what happened with the so-called "podcasting patent," a patent on "episodic content" owned by a company called Personal Audio LLC.

That company says that inventor Jim Logan's cassettes-by-mail business, which flopped in 1998, entitles him to a payment from every modern podcaster. Logan also has a patent on organizing playlists that he has used to sue MP3 makers including Samsung, which recently paid an undisclosed amount.

Personal Audio's cash demands against podcasters big and small. The company sued CBS, NBC, Fox, and the HowStuffWorks podcast and threatened others. That led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to denounce the patent earlier this year. If it could raise $30,000, EFF promised to file a petition attacking the patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

It blew that target out of the water, raising $76,160. Yesterday, EFF filed the petition.

"Personal Audio is not the true inventor of this technology and should not be demanding a payout from today's podcasters," said EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer. "If you look into the history of podcasting, you won't see anything about Personal Audio."

The EFF petition cites an early Internet radio show by Carl Malamud called "Geek of the Week," as well as online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as three examples of "episodic content" that came before Personal Audio's priority date of 1996.

Malamud's "Geek of the Week" Internet radio shows were distributed back in 1993 and written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, EFF notes in its petition. That should put to rest Personal Audio's audacious claim that it ''invented what is now commonly called podcasting back in 1996."

Personal Audio also claims the novelty of its invention comes from use of a "compilation file" at a particular URL that is updated when new content is available. But the EFF petition describes how a similar process was used by predecessor online services at CNN and elsewhere.

Carl Malamud - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:34

Carl Malamud (born 1959) is a technologist, author, and public domain advocate, known for his foundation He was the founder of the Internet Multicasting Service. During his time with this group, he was responsible for creating the first Internet radio station,[1] for putting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database on-line,[2] and for creating the Internet 1996 World Exposition.[3]

Malamud is the author of eight books, including Exploring the Internet and A World's Fair.[4][5] He was a visiting professor at the MIT Media Laboratory and was the former chairman of the Internet Software Consortium. He also was the co-founder of Invisible Worlds, was a fellow at the Center for American Progress, and was a board member of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.[6][7]

Malamud set up the nonprofit, headquartered in Sebastopol, California, to work for the publication of public domain information from local, state, and federal government agencies.[8] Among his achievements have been digitizing 588 government films for the Internet Archive and YouTube,[9] publishing a 5 million page crawl of the Government Printing Office,[10] and persuading the state of Oregon to not assert copyright over its legislative statutes.[11] He has also been active in challenging the state of California's copyright claims on state laws by publishing copies of the criminal, building, and plumbing codes online.[12]

He has also challenged the information management policy of Smithsonian Networks, convinced C-SPAN to liberalize its video archive access policy, and begun publishing court decisions.[13][14][15][16][17] In 2009 he proposed himself, through the "Yes We Scan" campaign, as the Public Printer of the U.S., the head of the Government Printing Office.[18] He is leading an effort, under the banner of, to bring online all primary legal materials (including legal codes and case law) for open public access.

An early Internet pioneer, he is the author of many early books about networking such as Analyzing Novell Networks and DEC Networks and Architectures.[19][20]

^"Internet Talk Radio". Retrieved 2010-05-30. ^"Securities and Exchange Commission". Retrieved 2010-05-30. ^"Internet 1996 World Exposition". Retrieved 2010-05-30. ^Malamud, Carl (September 1992). Exploring the Internet: A Technical Travelogue. Prentice Hall. p. 379. ISBN 0-13-296898-3. ^Malamud, Carl (August 8, 1997). A World's Fair for the Global Village. The MIT Press. p. 304. ISBN 0-262-13338-5. ^Baker, Mitchell (2006-11-22). "Bob Lisbonne and Carl Malamud Join the Mozilla Foundation Board". The Weblog of Mitchell Baker. Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Baker, Mitchell (2007-05-22). "Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.Org". The Weblog of Mitchell Baker. Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^^^^^Halverson, Nathan. "He's giving you access, one document at a time". The Press Democrat. Retrieved 2008-09-04. ^O'Reilly, Tim (2006-04-05). "Smithsonian Sunshine". O'Reilly Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Malamud, Carl (2006-05-25). Testimony of Carl Malamud. Hearing on Smithsonian Institution Business Ventures. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-05-27 ^Fallows, James (2007-03-09). "Another win for Carl Malamud (or: news you won't see in the May 2007 issue of the Atlantic)". The Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Malamud, Carl (2007-02-27). "Congressional Hearings, Fair Use, and the Public Domain". Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Markoff, John (2007-08-20). "A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-27. ^Doctorow, Cory (2009-02-25). "Yes We Scan! Carl Malamud for Public Printer of the USA". ^Malamud, Carl (July 1992). Analyzing Novell Networks (2nd ed.). Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 340. ISBN 0-442-01302-7. ^Malamud, Carl (February 1989). Dec Networks and Architectures. J. Ranade Dec Series. Intertext Publications. p. 472. ISBN 0-07-039822-4. PersondataNameMalamud, CarlAlternative namesShort descriptionDate of birth1959Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death


VIDEO-13 year old girl killed in home explosion, brother calls her a "best friend" | Local News - WTAE Home

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Sun, 13 Oct 2013 22:16

It was a disaster like no one on Eldersville Road had ever seen. Minutes after 7 a.m., a Follansbee, W. Va., home exploded, devastating the George and Tracy Mozingo family inside, taking the life of their daughter, Hannah Mozingo. Neighbors' windows shattered, and doors were unhinged by the force of the apparent natural gas explosion.

"It was like a big boom, and I thought a flash of fire went across my porch. I thought, my goodness, my house is on fire. It probably looked like a tornado. That's exactly what it looked like. Everything was destroyed," said neighbor Jeannie Moninger of the destruction of the home across the street from hers.

"I saw nothing but deep black smoke and there was debris still falling out of the sky, and one whole section of the house was up in flames," said witness Mark Jacobi, who was staying at his mother-in-law's home nearby.

VIDEO: Bob Mayo reports from the explosion sceneSLIDESHOW: Photos of the explosion scene

"I was totally amazed by what I saw down here. I could not believe this much devastation. There was this tremendous flash. I looked out the window, I thought it was a lightning strike right here, a humongous lightning strike. I have never heard an explosion that loud," said neighbor Ron Bottorf.

Debris and pieces of their home were strewn across the neighborhood for great distances, including wooden boards with protruding nails, putting other families nearby in jeopardy.

"There was stuff way up in the air, floating down like after the Fourth of July skyrockets, and pieces of parts burning , falling down," said Bottorf.

The father of the Mozingo family was flown by medical helicopter to UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. The mother and another daughter were rushed to Trinity West Hospital in Steubenville, Ohio.

On Friday night, a large group of Hannah's classmates and friends gathered for a vigil to remember her life and support one another.

"It means a lot to me. It means a lot to my family too," said her brother, Tyler Mozingo. "She was like a best friend to me. We did everything together. I'd do anything to get her back."

Investigators are still searching for the answer as to why the explosion happened.

"I will confirm that we had received a call of a natural gas odor in the area, very shortly prior to, moments, minutes prior to the explosion," said Sheriff Chuck Jackson of Brooke County WV. "We had fire companies here . It was under investigation, and within moments then we had the explosion." Jackson said dispatchers were contacting gas utility crews when it happened.

VIDEO-Catch, Patch, Match video: ASD Australian Signals Directorate (formerly DSD)

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Mon, 14 Oct 2013 15:24

ASD > Publications and multimedia > Catch, Patch, Match video

Download (right-click > Save As) MP4 (60 Mb) or OGV (43 Mb)

Read transcript

Catch, Patch, Match video transcriptThe Information Age has changed the way you work'...'...the way you play.It touches almost every aspect of daily life'...'...and you're able to take advantage of all that it offers.But there are others who want to take advantage as well'...'...of the way you work'...the way you access information'...and the way you share it.They want to know about you'...'...your information'...your organisation.They're part of a rapidly growing challenge to Australia's national security'...'...its economic prosperity'...and social well-being.The cyber threat has now reached an unprecedented level.Government and industry are being threatened on a daily basis'...'...and the effects can be catastrophic.So who's after your information?There's the hackers who work alone'...'...seeing what they can get away with.Then there are hacktivists'...'...their activities are usually a form of protest.Criminal syndicates want to steal information'...'...they're looking to make money, serious money.Spies and state-based hackers pose the greatest threat to your information'...'...they are the most sophisticated and capable.They want information about Australia'...'...its policies'...its industries'...its intellectual property'...and its defences.And they want to know what you're working on.So how are they getting in?A lot of the time you're showing hackers in through the front door.When you sacrifice security for speed.When you ignore policy - just to get the job done.It can be a USB stick used as a quick workaround'...'...or the random email opened without thinking.You may not be aware of it'...'...but your behaviour can make life easier for intruders.So how do you stop them getting in?The first step is to realise the value of your information'...'...and the consequences of it falling into the wrong hands.You can help make your organisation more resilient.That's where we come in - the Defence Signals Directorate.We're the Commonwealth authority on cyber security'...' to help you keep your information safe.We've developed strategies to mitigate cyber intrusions.Like all good strategies, the best ones are simple and effective.Your organisation needs to Catch, Patch and Match.Put it into practice.Catch malicious software with a white-list.This ensures only the software that's been approved can run.Everything else is blocked.Patch all your applications with updates - your operating system too.Ask your IT team.Do it now, intruders can take advantage of vulnerabilities in software.Match the right people with the right access.Only a few people need administration privileges.These privileges, in an intruder's hands, can spell disaster.If you Catch, Patch and Match, you can prevent at least 85% of the intrusion techniques DSD responds to.The threat is very real but there is something we can do.You can be part of the protection.Everyone has a part to play.Catch. Patch. Match.URL:

HD version hosted on YouTube

Catch, Patch, Match (PDF) was launched in October 2012 to complement the updated Top 35 Strategies to Mitigate Targeted Cyber Intrusions

Read the introduction to Catch, Patch, Match by the Minister for Defence

VIDEO-Utah families on food stamps could be cut off soon |

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Tue, 15 Oct 2013 20:33

Posted on: 9:18 pm, October 14, 2013, by Nineveh Dinha, updated on: 09:20pm, October 14, 2013

States across the country are being told to stop the supplemental nutrition assistance program for the month of November, pending further notice.

That's according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fox 13 obtained a copy from the Crossroads Urban Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Crossroads says if Utah families don't get food stamps, they'll turn to the local food pantries, which are already strapped due to the government shutdown. Homeless people Fox 13 talked to, some who use SNAP, say losing food stamps would mean going hungry.

''This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,'' says Bill Tibbits who is the Associate Director at Crossroads Urban Center.

They posted a letter from the USDA on its Facebook page. It says in part, ''in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing states to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to state electronic benefit transfer vendors until further notice.''

''What this means if there's not a deal, if Congress doesn't reach a deal to get federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 families won't get food stamp benefit,'' says Tibbits.

In other words, tens of thousands of Utah families may not be able to feed their children come November.

People out on the streets like Richard Phillips says, ''It could impact us and it's going to cause problems because you're going to come to find out that people are going to steal and do what they have to do to survive.''

''People out here are going to go without food,'' says Loralee Smith whose been homeless since August and says the uncertainty is making her uneasy about where her next meal will come from. ''I'm on food stamps, I don't know if I'm going to get them, a lot of people are on food stamps and they don't know if they're going to get them.''

Others say if SNAP shuts down, they'll find a way to feed themselves.

''There's always food pantries to go to, to get food,'' says Mason who is homeless and relies on food stamps. However, Crossroads says there's no way they could handle the increase if food stamps go away.

''We'll be affected because if people, if a family doesn't get food stamp benefits, they're going to come here,'' says Tibbits. ''Wee can't, there's no way we could deal with it.''

The local pantries are already feeling the pinch because WIC, a federal program which provides baby formula and food to families in need has been affected by the shutdown. With SNAP on the chopping block temporarily, Crossroads fears their shelves will soon be empty.

VIDEO-'–¶ Assange "A Surveillance Apparatus On Every Single Person Would Have Been The Dream Of East Germany!" - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:20

VIDEO-'–¶ "PROOF OF THE TRUTH" Pentagon LOVES Spreading Death Machines Around The Globe! (Maybe China's Right) - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:12

VIDEO-Eleanor Clift: 'I Say to Myself Every Day Eleanor, Think Less Tweet More' | MRCTV

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:23

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO-Wasserman-Schultz: All-Women Team 'Would Get This Done in a Few Hours' | MRCTV

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:19

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

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VIDEO-MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Slimes GOP Rep: 'Do You Hate ObamaCare More Than You Love Your Country?' | MRCTV

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 06:09

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MSNBC morning host Thomas Roberts on Tuesday continued in his role as one of MSNBC's most rabidly partisan, openly liberal anchors. Talking to Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn about the partial government shutdown, he questioned her patriotism, sneering, "Congresswoman, let me ask you though, when it comes to ObamaCare, do you hate ObamaCare more than you love your country?"

Video cross-posted at NewsBusters.

VIDEO-'–¶ Stenographer Dragged Off The Floor Of The House Of Representatives After Ranting At Podium - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:41

VIDEO-'–¶ Flesh Eating Bacteria Killing People Along The Gulf Coast From Texas To Florida - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:34

VIDEO-'–¶ ISS Tweets: Saw Something Launched Into Space Today! Not Sure What It Was? - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:27

VIDEO-'–¶ New Anti Motorcycle Club Laws In Australia - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:08

VIDEO-'–¶ Glitch Gives Food Stamp Shoppers Unlimited Spending Amounts - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:01

VIDEO-'–¶ NSA Collecting Hundreds Of Millions Of Email Address Books And Contact Lists! - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:59

VIDEO-'–¶ Iranian Nuclear Talks Continue In Geneva Switzerland - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:56

VIDEO-'–¶ Heavyweight Drug Traffickers Using Hackers To Bypass Shipping Port Security - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:49

VIDEO-Nancy Pelosi: Watching Harry Reid 'Was Like Watching a Master at Work' | Video |

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:32

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lauded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday afternoon as she reacted to a last minute deal struck between Senate Republicans and Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and reopen government.

''I salute '-- I never saw anything like what Harry Reid did,'' Pelosi told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. ''To watch him was to watch a master at work.''

''He was superb, intellectually, politically astute,'' she continued. ''Just the sheer stamina of it all. It's a sign of the respect that his members have for him.''

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate formally announced its plan to end the government shutdown and avoid a potential default. The finalized deal would extend the debt limit through Feb. 7, reopen the government and keep it funded through Jan. 15.


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VIDEO-Disgruntled Employee Arrested In LAX Dry Ice Bombings - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:40

VIDEO- Edward Snowden's Father "My Son Is Safe Secure And HE IS FREE!" - YouTube

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:38

Senate Session, Part 2 - C-SPAN Video Library

Videos Contradict Dakota Meyer Medal Of Honor - And Boom Goes The Dynamite - Esquire

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:15

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former active duty Marine Corps Corporal Dakota Meyer receives the Medal of Honor from President Obama in September 2011.

Holy mother of god, is this story going to set off a Category 5 shitstorm.

But videos shot by Army medevac helicopter crewmen show no Taliban in that vicinity or anywhere else on the floor of the Ganjgal Valley at the time and location of the "swarm." The videos also conflict with the version of the incident in Marine Corps and White House accounts of how Meyer, now 25, of Columbia, Ky., came to be awarded the nation's highest military decoration for gallantry. The videos add to the findings of an ongoing McClatchy investigation that determined that crucial parts of Meyer's memoir were untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, as were the Marine Corps and White House accounts of how he helped extract casualties from the valley under fire. The White House and Marine Corps have defended the accuracy of their accounts of Meyer's actions. The Marine Corps declined to comment on the videos. Army National Guard Sgt. Kevin Duerst, the helicopter crew chief whose helmet camera recorded one of the videos, confirmed the absence of insurgents on the valley floor as the aircraft flew in on a first run to retrieve casualties. "We totally flew over everything. . . . There was nothing going on down there," Duerst said in a telephone interview Friday. "There was no serious gunfight going on."

Let us establish one thing at the outset. The writer, Jonathan S. Landay, is as good as it gets. He was one of the few people who cut through the bullshit that was being peddled to lie the country into Iraq, and he did it while serious people like Tim Russert were waiting by the phone for someone to call. If he says this is what his reporting concludes, then this is what his reporting concludes, and the White House and the Marine Corps have the burden of proof to bear, and no-comment isn't going to cut it.

This, alas, is some of what results from the unthinking adulation of the troops. This is a product of the steady militarization of our national political pageant and of our large national spectacles, especially the sporty ones. (If she were alive today, Leni Riefenstahl would be working for NFL Films.) There has been an unhealthy suspension of democratic skepticism in this very important area.

That being said, these revelations are going explode in a lot of directions. (If I had to bet a decent longshot, I'd say this story will get folded into the fauxtrage about the WWII Memorial as an example of how the press, those liberal bastards, hate the troops.) Landay has earned the benefit of a couple hundred doubts. This is a helluva piece of work.

Who Is Dianne Reidy? House Stenographer Yelled 'This Is Not One Nation Under God' During Shutdown Vote [VIDEO, AUDIO]

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:28

Audio and video have captured the outburst of Dianne Reidy, a House stenographer who was kicked out of the House after interrupting the vote to end the U.S. government shutdown Wednesday night by yelling "This is not one nation under God. It never was." Twitter

After nearly 17 days -- and as the deadline for defaulting on the nation's debt neared -- the U.S. government shutdown ended Wednesday night. Congress approved a bill in favor of ending the shutdown and resumed funding the federal government through Jan. 17, and it voted to raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 as well.

But while tensions have eased up and a resolution was passed, there was a moment during Wednesday night's vote that's caused quite a ruckus inside the House chamber and beyond.

Dianne Reidy, a longtime House stenographer, was yanked out of the House by security after interrupting the vote and shouting, ''the House is divided'' and ''this is not one nation under God!''

A video captured by C-SPAN showed Reidy walk up to the podium and begin shouting as Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, R-Fla. banged her gavel, screaming ''Order!'' repeatedly. House security officials carried Reidy away as she was still yelling.

Audio recording of the outburst from Public Radio International reporter Todd Zwillich quoted Reidy as saying:

''He will not be mocked! This is not one nation under God. It never was. The greatest deception here is this is not one nation under god! It never was. Had it been, it would not have been! The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons! You cannot serve two masters! You cannot serve two masters! Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ."

Ros-Lehtinen told Fox News that Reidy "came up to the podium area beneath where I was standing and asked me if the microphones were on. I said that I didn't know. I assumed that perhaps I was chatting too much to the helpful parliamentarians around me. Then she suddenly faced the front and said words like 'Thus spoke the Lord.' And, 'This is not the Lord's work.'

"I hammered to get control and hush her up. She said something about the devil. It was sudden, confusing and heartbreaking. She is normally a gentle soul."

CNN reported that Officer Shennell S. Antrobus of Capitol Police took Reidy to a local hospital for evaluation.

So far, it is unclear what prompted Reidy's meltdown on the House floor. Despite her outburst, though, the vote was completed and the House passed the bill, which was signed by the President shortly after midnight. Still, questions remain as to why Reidy, a woman ''many officers knew'...personally,'' CNN reported, could have acted this way.

"She's a well-known person, she's a perfectly nice person, a good colleague, somebody who's respectable and dependable, and this is very surprising to everybody who works with her," CNN reported. "I don't know, she just snapped," said a GOP aide.

Not everyone in Congress was dismissive of Reidy's outburst, though. According to the Washington Post, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., expressed ''sympathy'' for the stenographer ''because something clearly happened there.''

VIDEO-President Obama Delivers a Statement | The White House

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 04:15

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

8:28 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together around an agreement that will reopen our government and remove the threat of default from our economy.

The Senate has now voted to approve this agreement, and Democrats and Republicans in the House still have an important vote to take, but I want to thank the leaders of both parties for getting us to this point. Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We'll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.

I'll have more to say about this tomorrow. And I've got some thoughts about how we can move forward in the remainder of the year and stay focused on the job at hand, because there is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks. And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I am willing to work with anybody, I am eager to work with anybody -- Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members -- on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class, and get our fiscal house in order for the long term. I've never believed that Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas. And despite the differences over the issue of shutting down our government, I'm convinced that Democrats and Republicans can work together to make progress for America.

In fact, there are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out. We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system. We still need to pass a farm bill. And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country.

And we could get all these things done even this year if everybody comes together in a spirit of how are we going to move this country forward and put the last three weeks behind us. That's what I believe the American people are looking for -- not a focus on politics, not a focus on elections, but a focus on the concrete steps that can improve their lives. That's going to be my focus. I'm looking forward to Congress doing the same.

But, once again, I want to thank the leadership for coming together and getting this done. Hopefully, next time, it won't be in the 11th hour. One of the things that I said throughout this process is we've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis. And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can't work on the issues at hand, why we can't disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we're not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.

So hopefully that's a lesson that will be internalized, not just by me but also by Democrats and Republicans, not only the leaders but also the rank and file.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Q Mr. President, isn't this going to happen all over again in a few months?

THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.)

END8:31 P.M. EDT

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-MEDAL of HONOR-Game Footage-Afghan war vet awarded Medal of Honor, seeks to return to active duty | Fox News

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:20

After nearly being overlooked, and according to some accounts intentionally forgotten, Army Capt. William Swenson received the Medal of Honor at an emotional White House ceremony Tuesday for his heroic actions during the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal in eastern Afghanistan.

Ganjgal was one of the bloodiest battles of the 12-year war. Ambushed by the Taliban, coalition forces were pinned down for nine hours. The fight ended with five U.S. deaths, 10 Afghan army deaths and over two-dozen coalition wounded.

Late Tuesday, Fox News confirmed reports that Swenson, who since leaving the Army in 2011 has spent much of his time in the wilderness of Washington state, has asked the Army to return him to active duty -- a rare request for a Medal of Honor recipient. An Army spokesman said, "We are reviewing his request and processing it within established policy."

The ceremony Tuesday marked only the second time in half a century that the nation's highest award for valor has been given to two survivors of the same battle. In 2011, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who fought alongside Swenson, received the same medal for his actions at Ganjgal.

But Swenson's battle didn't end in Ganjgal. After the firefight, he bitterly complained about incompetence in the ranks, suggesting to Army investigators and reporters that his commanders decided the political risk of civilian casualties outweighed the need to protect the lives of Americans.

Swenson said his multiple requests for air support were denied as he repeatedly put his life at risk to save his fallen and wounded comrades.

A year-and-a-half after the battle, an Army investigation resulted in career-ending reprimands for two of the officers responsible for fielding Swenson's calls for help.

Swenson told Fox News on Tuesday that while "you can have misunderstandings" and disagreements with individuals, "the institution cannot let you down."

"The Army did not let me down," he said.

Describing the ceremony on Tuesday, he said: "I looked into a room that was there to support me, but I was there to support them, and I will continue to be there to support them. My colleagues, families of the fallen -- it was a powerful moment."

President Obama described Swenson's actions at the ceremony Tuesday. "Will and the soldiers in the center of the column are pinned down. Rocket propelled grenades, mortar, machine gun fire -- all of this is pouring in from three sides. As he returns fire, Will calls for air support, but his initial requests are denied."

Obama continued: "And then Will learns that his non-commissioned officer, Sergeant 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, has been shot in the neck. So Will breaks across 50 meters of open space, bullets biting all around. Lying on his back, he presses a bandage to Kenneth's wounds with one hand, and calls for a medevac with the other, trying to keep his buddy calm."

Dramatic helmet-cam video released by the Army shows Swenson lift his badly wounded comrade into a medevac chopper, stopping to kiss him on the forehead before returning to the fight. Westbrook's wife would later thank Swenson for helping keep him alive long enough so that she could say her final goodbyes.

Initially, the Army began to process Swenson for the Medal of Honor, compiling a comprehensive account of his actions that day. But as Meyer received his award in 2011, suspicion arose about why Swenson's name had not come up at the White House. The Army later claimed it "lost" the phonebook-sized Medal of Honor nomination packet on Swenson. The veracity of that claim is now the subject of an ongoing Army inspector general's investigation.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has been a strong advocate for Swenson, says the packet wasn't lost, but rather it was purposefully destroyed.

"His record got deleted," Hunter, an Iraq war veteran, told Fox News in an interview Tuesday. "I mean, somebody went in and took his Medal of Honor nomination and deleted it from the awards database. That means that somebody in the Army did not want him to get the Medal of Honor."

Hunter claims it was an act of retribution against Swenson for speaking out about his commanders. Hunter and his staff were instrumental in pressuring the Army to reinstate Swenson's application for the Medal of Honor.

VIDEO-2 people injured in Moon Township house explosion |

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Sun, 13 Oct 2013 22:18


Two people were pulled from debris and taken to a hospital Saturday night following a house explosion in Moon Township, Channel 11 News reports.

The blast occurred in the 1500 block of Charlton Heights Road before 7 p.m.

Moon Township police confirmed to Channel 11 News that there was a natural gas odor post-explosion and that nearby residences were evacuated.

Authorities told Channel 11's Brandon Hudson that the homeowner, Shawn Landa, 47, and neighbor Alan Lisica, 61, were the two individuals hospitalized. One was transported by medical helicopter from the scene to UPMC Mercy Hospital. The other was taken to

Mercy via ambulance. As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, UMPC Mercy said Landa is in serious condition and Lisica is in fair condition.

The Moon Township Fire department extinguished the fire and evacuated all of the homes in the immediate area for safety purposes, police said.

Hudson reported that a worker from Columbia Gas arrived at the scene roughly one hour after the explosion.

Police said that one home was demolished and several others sustained collateral damage preventing residents from returning to them.

According to the Moon Township fire chief, approximately two dozen homes were damaged in the blast; several were condemned and three are repairable.

The other homes experienced much less damage such as broken windows, according to the fire chief.

Police said the Red Cross was called to the scene to assist these residents.

Charlton Heights Road was blocked off to traffic for many hours.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal, Allegheny County police detectives and Columbia Gas representatives were called in to assist the Moon Township police detectives with the investigation.

According to a Columbia Gas Official, there was no evidence of a gas leak or any problem in the area.

No cause has yet been determined. The investigation is ongoing.

VIDEO- Cool Story Chlo #6: Clever Shirts and Feeling Hurts - YouTube

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Wed, 16 Oct 2013 22:32