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Thu, 24 Oct 2013 00:51
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 23, 2013
UNITED NATIONS DAY, 2013
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In 1945, after two world wars that showed the horrific lethality of modern conflict, 51 member states came together to create the United Nations, a bold new organization that sought to build a lasting peace for the generations to follow. Today, 68 years after the adoption of the United Nations Charter, we mark United Nations Day by reaffirming our commitment to its purposes and principles. We celebrate the organization's challenging and often unheralded work of forging a world in which every man, woman, and child can live in freedom, dignity, and peace.
With the aim of sparing their children and grandchildren from the ravages of war, the members of the United Nations committed "to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security." In the nearly seven decades since they adopted these words in the United Nations Charter, the global threats to international peace and security have changed, but the need for international cooperation has only increased. While the United Nations was founded after a period of cataclysmic war among states, today many of the principal challenges to international peace and security are rooted in the need to prevent or address unconscionable slaughter and violence within states. As the United States works to address challenges old and new, we will continue our close cooperation with partners across the globe, including at the United Nations. And recognizing that the path to conflict often begins with the denial of basic human dignity, we remain committed to realizing another fundamental principle set forth in the Charter -- that no one should be denied the fundamental freedoms that are their birthright.
As we mark the founding of a body built to pursue peace in an imperfect world, let us reaffirm that the values set forth in its Charter guide us still. They remind us that leaders and citizens alike, in the United States and around the world, will be judged by whether we contributed to a world that is more peaceful, just, and free. Let us honor the men and women of the United Nations itself, who work in countries across the globe, often unseen and uncelebrated, to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable people. May we stand firm in our resolve to give voice to the voiceless and to turn swords into plowshares. And may we never lose sight of the essential truth that we live in a world where our fates are bound together as a community of nations, strengthened by our differences and united by our shared hopes for the future.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 24, 2013, as United Nations Day. I urge the Governors of the 50 States, and the officials of all other areas under the flag of the United States, to observe United Nations Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third 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.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 05:00
The solar storm of 1859, also known as the 1859 Solar Superstorm, or the Carrington Event, was a powerful geomagnetic solar storm in 1859 during solar cycle 10. A solar flare and/or coronal mass ejection produced a solar storm which hit Earth's magnetosphere and induced the largest known geomagnetic solar storm, which was observed and recorded by Richard C. Carrington.
Carrington Super FlareFrom August 28, 1859, until September 2, numerous sunspots and solar flares were observed on the Sun. Just before noon on September 1, the English astronomer Richard Carrington observed the largest flare, which caused a major coronal mass ejection (CME) to travel directly toward Earth, taking 17.6 hours. Such a journey normally takes three to four days. This second CME moved so quickly because the first one had cleared the way of the ambient solar windplasma.
On August 29, 1859, aurorae were observed as far north as Queensland.
On September 1, 1859, Carrington and Richard Hodgson, another English amateur astronomer, independently made the first observations of a solar flare. Because of a simultaneous "crochet" observed in the Kew Observatorymagnetometer record by Scottish physicist Balfour Stewart and a geomagnetic storm observed the following day, Carrington suspected a solar-terrestrial connection. Worldwide reports on the effects of the geomagnetic storm of 1859 were compiled and published by Elias Loomis which support the observations of Carrington and Stewart.
On September 1''2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, even as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora's light. The aurora was visible as far from the poles as Cuba and Hawaii.
Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist.
On Saturday, September 3, 1859, the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser reported, "Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights. The phenomenon was very similar to the display on Sunday night, though at times the light was, if possible, more brilliant, and the prismatic hues more varied and gorgeous. The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone. The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested. Between 12 and 1 o'clock, when the display was at its full brilliancy, the quiet streets of the city resting under this strange light, presented a beautiful as well as singular appearance." In June 2013, a joint venture from researchers at Lloyd's of London and Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in the United States used data from the Carrington Event to estimate the current cost of a similar event to the world economy at $2.6 trillion (£1.67tr).
Similar eventsIce cores contain thin nitrate-rich layers that can be analyzed to reconstruct a history of past events before reliable observations; the data from Greenland ice cores was gathered by Kenneth G. McCracken and others. These show evidence that events of this magnitude'--as measured by high-energy proton radiation, not geomagnetic effect'--occur approximately once per 500 years, with events at least one-fifth as large occurring several times per century. These similar but much more extreme cosmic ray events however may originate outside the Solar system and even outside the galaxy. Less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960, when widespread radio disruption was reported. The March 1989 geomagnetic storm knocked out power across large sections of Quebec, Canada.
See alsoReferences^"Timeline: The 1859 Solar Superstorm". Scientific American (www.sciam.com). July 29, 2008. Retrieved February 16, 2011. ^Philips, Tony (January 21, 2009). "Severe Space Weather--Social and Economic Impacts". NASA Science: Science News (science.nasa.gov). Retrieved February 16, 2011. ^ abcOdenwald, Sten F.; Green, James L. (July 28, 2008). "Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm". Scientific American (www.sciam.com). Retrieved February 16, 2011. ^"SOUTHERN AURORA.". The Moreton Bay Courier (Brisbane, Qld. : 1846 - 1861) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 7 September 1859. p. 2. Retrieved 17 May 2013. ^National Geographic, "What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?," by Richard A. Lovett (March 2, 2011 - retrieved on September 5, 2011).^"Monster radiation burst from sun", BBC website, 14 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.^Committee on the Societal and Economic Impacts of Severe Space Weather Events: A Workshop, National Research Council (2008). Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report. National Academies Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-309-12769-6. ^Odenwald, Sten F. (2002). The 23rd Cycle. Columbia University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-231-12079-6. ^Carlowicz, Michael J.; Lopez, Ramon E. (2002). Storms from the Sun: The Emerging Science of Space Weather. National Academies Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-309-07642-0. ^"The Aurora Borealis". Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland). September 3, 1859. p. 2; Column 2. Retrieved February 16, 2011. ^Jennifer O'Mahony (7 June 2013). "Solar storm could leave Britain without power 'for mont". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2013. ^"How do you determine the effects of a solar flare that took place 150 years ago?". Stuart Clarks Universe. Retrieved May 23, 2012. ^McCracken, K. G.; Dreschhoff, G. A. M.; Zeller, E. J.; Smart, D. F.; Shea, M. A. (2001). "Solar cosmic ray events for the period 1561''1994 1. Identification in polar ice, 1561''1950". Journal of Geophysical Research106 (A10): 21,585''21,598. Bibcode:2001JGR...10621585M. doi:10.1029/2000JA000237. Retrieved February 16, 2011. Further readingCliver, E. W.; Svalgaard, L. (2004). "The 1859 Solar''Terrestrial Disturbance and the Current Limits of Extreme Space Weather Activity". Solar Physics224: 407. Bibcode:2004SoPh..224..407C. doi:10.1007/s11207-005-4980-z. editTsurutani, B. T.; Gonzalez, W. D.; Lakhina, G. S.; Alex, S. (2003). "The extreme magnetic storm of 1''2 September 1859". Journal of Geophysical Research108. Bibcode:2003JGRA..108.1268T. doi:10.1029/2002JA009504. editIssue 2 of Volume 38, Pages 115-388 (2006), of Advances in Space Research, an issue entitled "The Great Historical Geomagnetic Storm of 1859: A Modern Look"Robertclauer, C.; Siscoe, G. (2006). "The great historical geomagnetic storm of 1859: A modern look". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 117''118. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..117R. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.09.001. editCliver, E. (2006). "The 1859 space weather event: Then and now". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 119''129. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..119C. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.07.077. editGreen, J.; Boardsen, S. (2006). "Duration and extent of the great auroral storm of 1859". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 130''135. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..130G. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.08.054. editSilverman, S. (2006). "Comparison of the aurora of September 1/2, 1859 with other great auroras". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 136''144. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..136S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.03.157. editGreen, J.; Boardsen, S.; Odenwald, S.; Humble, J.; Pazamickas, K. (2006). "Eyewitness reports of the great auroral storm of 1859". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 145''154. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..145G. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.12.021. editHumble, J. (2006). "The solar events of August/September 1859 '' Surviving Australian observations". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 155''158. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..155H. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.08.053. editBoteler, D. (2006). "The super storms of August/September 1859 and their effects on the telegraph system". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 159''172. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..159B. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.01.013. editSiscoe, G.; Crooker, N.; Clauer, C. (2006). "Dst of the Carrington storm of 1859". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 173''179. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..173S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.02.102. editNevanlinna, H. (2006). "A study on the great geomagnetic storm of 1859: Comparisons with other storms in the 19th century". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 180''187. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..180N. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.07.076. editKappenman, J. (2006). "Great geomagnetic storms and extreme impulsive geomagnetic field disturbance events '' An analysis of observational evidence including the great storm of May 1921". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 188''199. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..188K. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.08.055. editSilverman, S. (2006). "Low latitude auroras prior to 1200 C.E. and Ezekiel's vision". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 200''208. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..200S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.03.158. editShea, M.; Smart, D. (2006). "Geomagnetic cutoff rigidities and geomagnetic coordinates appropriate for the Carrington flare Epoch". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 209''214. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..209S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.03.156. editSmart, D.; Shea, M.; McCracken, K. (2006). "The Carrington event: Possible solar proton intensity''time profile". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 215''225. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..215S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.04.116. editTownsend, L. W.; Stephens, D. L.; Hoff, J. L.; Zapp, E. N.; Moussa, H. M.; Miller, T. M.; Campbell, C. E.; Nichols, T. F. (2006). "The Carrington event: Possible doses to crews in space from a comparable event". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 226''231. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..226T. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.01.111. editShea, M.; Smart, D.; McCracken, K.; Dreschhoff, G.; Spence, H. (2006). "Solar proton events for 450 years: The Carrington event in perspective". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 232''238. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..232S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.02.100. editBurke, W.; Huang, C.; Rich, F. (2006). "Energetics of the April 2000 magnetic superstorm observed by DMSP". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 239''252. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..239B. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.07.085. editManchester IV, W. B.; Ridley, A. J.; Gombosi, T. I.; De Zeeuw, D. L. (2006). "Modeling the Sun-to-Earth propagation of a very fast CME". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 253''262. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..253M. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.09.044. editRidley, A. J.; De Zeeuw, D. L.; Manchester, W. B.; Hansen, K. C. (2006). "The magnetospheric and ionospheric response to a very strong interplanetary shock and coronal mass ejection". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 263''272. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..263R. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.06.010. editLi, X.; Temerin, M.; Tsurutani, B.; Alex, S. (2006). "Modeling of 1''2 September 1859 super magnetic storm". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 273''279. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..273L. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.06.070. editOdenwald, S.; Green, J.; Taylor, W. (2006). "Forecasting the impact of an 1859-calibre superstorm on satellite resources". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 280''297. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..280O. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2005.10.046. editBoteler, D. (2006). "Comment on time conventions in the recordings of 1859". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 301''303. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..301B. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.07.006. editWilson, L. (2006). "Excerpts from and Comments on the Wochenschrift f¼r Astronomie, Meteorologie und Geographie, Neue Folge, zweiter Jahrgang (new series 2)". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 304''312. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..304W. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.07.004. editShea, M.; Smart, D. (2006). "Compendium of the eight articles on the "Carrington Event" attributed to or written by Elias Loomis in the American Journal of Science, 1859''1861". Advances in Space Research38 (2): 313''385. Bibcode:2006AdSpR..38..313S. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2006.07.005. editExternal linksCarrington, R. C. (1859). "Description of a Singular Appearance seen in the Sun on September 1, 1859". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society20: 13''5. Bibcode:1859MNRAS..20...13C. Bell, Trudy E.; Phillips, Tony (May 6, 2008). "A Super Solar Flare". Science@NASA (science.nasa.gov). Brooks, Michael (March 23, 2009). "Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe". New Scientist (www.newscientist.com). Retrieved March 28, 2009. "The Largest Magnetic Storm on Record, The "Carrington Event" of August 27 to September 7, 1859". British Geological Survey (National Environment Research Council). 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2009. Clark, Stuart (2007). The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began. ISBN 978-0-691-12660-9. Excerpts of Articles from Newspapers concerning the Carrington Event.
Presidential Innovation Fellows
cosmi-@adamcurry @THErealDVORAK Freddy the firewall says, 'no back doors children'
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 00:52
Published time: October 23, 2013 20:59AFP Photo / Frederick Florin
The European Parliament voted Wednesday for US access to the global financial database held by a Belgian company to be suspended because of concerns that the US is snooping on the database for financial gain rather than just to combat terrorism.
The Strasbourg based parliament voted 280 in favor, with 254 against, with 30 abstentions, and called for a suspension of US access until a full enquiry clarifies the situation.
''We need full transparency, especially with all the NSA revelations. Europe cannot accept that the data of private citizens is being accessed without anyone knowing about it", Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, told Reuters.
EU lawmakers are concerned that the US is covertly using information from the SWIFT database following leaked US documents aired by Brazil's biggest television network Globo, which indicated that the US has secretly tapped into SWIFT.
Under current agreements the US has limited access to the SWIFT database. The deal is part of transatlantic cooperation following the September 2001 attacks, and allows certain data from SWIFT to be shared with the US treasury.
The idea was that by sharing on a limited basis the millions of financial messages that take place across the world every day, it would help combat terrorism.
However, the parliament's vote is symbolic, not binding, and rather reflects EU wide public anger at the NSA spying allegations. The European Commission and the various EU governments will still need to approve a suspension of US access to SWIFT.
The European Commission has said in a statement that it had no immediate plans to propose a suspension of SWIFT to its member states and that it was ''still waiting for additional written assurances'' that the US was respecting its prior written agreement with the EU.
For its part the US has denied it is doing anything wrong. According to the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, the US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism, David Cohen, has told her that the US government has respected the 2010 agreement on SWIFT.
But there is undoubtedly a firm belief within certain sections of the EU parliament that the EU should be more careful about what it shares with the US.
''The EU cannot continue to remain silent in the face of these ongoing revelations: It gives the impression we are little more than a lapdog of the United States,'' said Jan Albrecht, a German Green in the EU parliament.
The vote comes on the back of allegations by the Le Monde newspaper that the NSA has spied on the agency records of millions of phone calls of top French politicians and business people.
The claims were taken seriously by the French government and on Monday morning the US ambassador to France Charles Rivkin was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry to give an explanation.
It was also reported earlier this week that years of spying on Mexico by the NSA had helped Americans get the upper hand in business talks and get investment opportunities that were more favorable to them.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 00:55
United States President Barack Obama had assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the US was not monitoring her communications, according to Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.
Carney's statement on Wednesday comes in response to the German government's announcement that it has obtained information suggesting the US may have tapped Merkel's mobile phone.
Merkel called Obama to demand an immediate clarification, her spokesman said om a statement.
"She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally," the statement read.
"Between close friends and partners, as Germany and the U.S. have been for decades, there should not be such monitoring of the communications of a government leader. This would be a grave breach of trust. Such practices should be immediately stopped."
For its part, the White House denied that the US is listening in on Merkel's phone calls now.
"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."
However, Carney did not specifically say that the US had never monitored or obtained Merkel's communications.
The news broke as Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Rome, faced fresh questions about mass spying on European allies, based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive ex-US intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia.
French President Francois Hollande is pressing for the US spying issue to be put on the agenda of a summit of European leaders starting on Thursday.
French newspaper Le Monde reported earlier this week that the National Security Agency (NSA) had collected tens of thousands of French phone records.
Just four months ago, Obama defended US anti-terrorism tactics on a visit to Berlin, telling Germans at a news conference with Merkel that Washington was not spying on ordinary citizens.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:14
Published: 24 Oct 2013 13:32 CET | Print versionOnline: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20131024-52553.html
UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone number was in US secret service documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, it was reported on Thursday. Politicians warned the scandal could have consequences for US-German relations.
Germany has reacted with anger over allegations the US National Security Agency (NSA) tapped Merkel's phone. Developments on Thursday include:-Germany summoning the US ambassador in Berlin;
-The federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe, part of the Ministry of Justice, intervening by stating on Thursday lunchtime it will investigate the case;
-Merkel's phone number found in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to the Welt newspaper it was her old Nokia phone number;
-Germany's parliamentary security services committee calling a special meeting.
Merkel's mobile phone is expected to be examined by security services on Thursday to see whether it may have been tapped and what information could have been gained from it, the Bild newspaper reported.
And the revelations have also dominated the European Union summit in Brussels which was supposed to focus on economic issues.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said, in reference to life in Communist-era East Germany, that not so long ago "there was a part of Germany where political police were spying on people's lives daily".
"We have recent experience of what totalitarianism means," he said. "We know what happens when a state uses powers that intrude on people's lives."
In Berlin German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is meeting with US Ambassador John Emerson in a highly unusual step between the decades-long allies.
The US embassy in Berlin declined to go into details about the meeting or how the latest spy allegations would affect German-US relations when asked by The Local.
But a statement from the White House last night claimed that despite the alleged phone tapping, Merkel and Obama had agreed to "intensify further cooperation between our intelligence services."
Meanwhile Merkel will discuss covert US surveillance in Europe with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday, a French diplomatic source said.
Merkel and Hollande, due to meet on the margins of an EU leaders' summit overshadowed by the growing scandal, "will also obviously discuss it and how to coordinate their response," a French diplomatic source told AFP.
Outrage among press and politicians
The Welt newspaper called the alleged snooping a "diplomatic bomb" and "a punch in the face of German security agencies", while a S¼ddeutsche Zeitung headline labelled it "the worst imaginable insult".
Der Spiegel, which broke the story on Wednesday evening said politicians across the spectrum were outraged by the news.
Defence minister Thomas de Maizi¨re said: ''The Americans are and will remain our best friends, but it is not on.'' He warned there would be consequences for the trans-Atlantic alliance if the allegations were true.
Politicians across party lines condemned a betrayal of trust between the allies, echoing the sharp rebuke Merkel delivered in a phone call to US President Barack Obama the previous day.
If confirmed, the snooping would be "an outrageous act" that "reaches a new level" and would be "roundly condemned", said the chief whip of Merkel's conservatives, Michael Grosse-Br¶mer. He added it would be a ''massive breach of trust''.
The leader of the far-left Linke party, Gregor Gysi, found sharper words, saying the "insolent actions of the USA must be stopped" and that the US "is not a power that owns the world".
The Green party sharply attacked Merkel's government for having declared the National Security Agency (NSA) spying affair - centred on the surveillance of millions of citizens' phone calls, emails, chats and other communications - effectively over in August.
"It's scandalous that the government appeased and obscured throughout the entire NSA affair, but that now, when it comes to confidentiality of communications of the chancellor, Merkel voices personal indignation in a phone call to the American president," Greens lawmaker Konstantin von Notz told the Handelsblatt daily's website.
The Welt also recalled how little Merkel did when it was citizens, not herself, who were being spied on, according to the claims of fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
Bild said the German government's ''strongly-worded'' statement was as critical as it could be while still being diplomatic.
Meanwhile the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said: ''A fundamental right, the right to confidential communication no longer exists.''
READ MORE: Germany believes US National Security Agency tapped Merkel's phone
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Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:26
The US National Security Agency recorded millions of French phone calls, including those involving individuals with no links to terrorism, "Le Monde" reported on Monday, prompting France to summon the US ambassador for "immediate" talks.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly recorded millions of phone calls made in France, French daily "Le Monde" reported on Monday, citing documents leaked by former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The US spy agency taped 70.3 million French phone calls in just a little under a month in the period from December 10 last year to January 8, 2013, "Le Monde" reported on its website. The paper said the NSA automatically monitored communications from certain phone numbers and recorded text messages under a programme that was code named "US-985D".
"Le Monde" said the documents indicated that the NSA targets not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.The revelations prompted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to summon the US ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, for "immediate" talks on Monday.
US authorities declined comment to the French daily on the classified documents.
"Le Monde" has previously reported on the French government's vast spying network, which it says stores the metadata on ''all emails, SMSes, telephone calls, Facebook and Twitter posts'' in a massive three-floor underground bunker in Paris.
Snowden, who has taken temporary refuge in Russia, is wanted in the United States on espionage and other charges after leaking details of the NSA's monitoring activities to journalists at Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 09:50
US intelligence chief James Clapper said on Tuesday that reports published by French daily Le Monde claiming that the National Security Agency had collected data on French citizens' telephone calls were ''inaccurate'' and ''misleading''.
The US intelligence chief said Tuesday that articles published by the French newspaper Le Monde about America's espionage activities abroad "contain inaccurate and misleading information."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the specific allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million "recordings of French citizens' telephone data" was false.
"While we are not going to discuss the details of our activities, we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States gathers intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," Clapper said in a statement.
"The US collects intelligence to protect the nation, its interests, and its allies from, among other things, threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
Citing documents from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Le Monde reported Monday that the NSA taped 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8, 2013.
The newspaper said the documents gave grounds to think the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism, but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.
It followed up on Tuesday by publishing details of US spying on French embassies around the world.
In a phone call with President Barack Obama, French leader Francois Hollande expressed "deep disapproval," saying according to his office that such practices were "unacceptable between friends and allies."
In Paris, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius used a breakfast meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry to demand a full explanation of the claims.
Clapper, in his short statement, sought to defuse the row by highlighting the close relationship between Washington and Paris.
"The United States values our longstanding friendship and alliance with France and we will continue to cooperate on security and intelligence matters going forward," he said.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 03:21
America's NSA tapped 1.8 million Dutch phone numbers in one monthMonday 21 October 2013
The American National Security Agency tapped 1.8 million Dutch telephones in one month alone as part of its Boundless Informant surveillance programme, Dutch media reported on Monday.
The raw information was first published by Der Spiegel in June but has now been interpreted by Dutch technology website Tweakers following publication in Le Monde.
Between the beginning of December and beginning of January, 1.8 million Dutch phone numbers were tapped into by the NSA, recording information about number and possibly location, Tweakers said.
The numbers were compared against a database of suspect numbers and, Tweakers says, if a number was on the list, calls to and from the number were listened in to.
In Germany, 500 million numbers were picked up by the NSA and in France 70 million. Paris has now summoned the US ambassador to explain events. According to Le Monde, documents show the NSA was allegedly targeting not only terrorist suspects but politicians, business people and others.
The raw information comes from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
VVD parliamentarian Klaas Dijkhoff said the news that the US is obtaining telephone information in the Netherlands on such a broad scale is 'disappointing'.
'If it was the Chinese or the Russians, then no-one would be surprised,' he is quoted as saying by Tweakers 'But this is an ally and that makes it extra disappointing.'
World leaderThe Netherlands is already the most heavily phone-tapped country in the world. The number of phone taps rose 3% to nearly 25,500 last year, according to justice ministry figures. And the number of requests for information about phone calls - such as the location calls were made from - reached almost 57,000, up 10% on 2011.
The figures do not include taps by the security services.
In July, MPs from the ruling coalition backed demands for an inquiry into the involvement of the Dutch security services in the Prism internet tapping scandal.
Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk said earlier the AIVD and MIVD do not use Prism or similar programmes to tap into internet traffic. However, the security services do exchange information with other services and information gleaned through Prism may be part of that, he said.
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Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:20
24 October 2013Last updated at08:52 ETThe European Parliament has voted to suspend the sharing of financial data with the US, following allegations that citizens' data was spied on.
The allegation forms part of leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The vote is non-binding but illustrates MEPs' growing unease over how much data was shared with the US.
It comes a day after it was alleged that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone calls were monitored.
The European Parliament voted to suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US, in response to the alleged tapping of EU citizens' bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT.
The agreement granted the US authorities access to bank data for terror-related investigations but leaked documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden allege that the global bank transfer network was the target of wider US surveillance.
MEPs also want to launch a full inquiry into the alleged spying.
Merkel phoneThe row over exactly how much snooping was done on European citizens appears to be escalating.
Germany has summoned the US ambassador in Berlin over the claims that the US monitored Mrs Merkel's mobile phone calls.
Other leaders are also likely to want further clarification from Washington over the activities of its National Security Agency (NSA) in Europe.
Meanwhile student group, europe v facebook, is launching a fresh attack on how deeply the social network was involved in the US spying programme.
It has won the right for a review of why the Irish data protection commissioner is not investigating the amount of European data shared with the US.
Commissioner Billy Hawkes has previously claimed that there "is nothing to investigate" over Facebook's role in the PRISM programme.
Max Schrem, who heads the group, remains unconvinced.
"When it comes to the fundamental rights of millions of users and the biggest surveillance scandal in years, he will have to take responsibility and do something about it," he said.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:08
Dianne Feinstein 6:22 p.m. EDT October 20, 2013
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.(Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)
Story HighlightsThe call-records program is not surveillance.This program has played a role in stopping roughly a dozen terror plots.The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon consider legislation to add public reporting requirements and more court review.The NSA call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight. Above all, the program has been effective in helping to prevent terrorist plots against the U.S. and our allies. Congress should adopt reforms to improve transparency and privacy protections, but I believe the program should continue.
OUR VIEW: Burden of proof rests with NSA
The call-records program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme Court has held this "metadata" is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.
This program helps "connect the dots" '-- the main failure of our intelligence before 9/11. Former FBI director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that if this program existed before 9/11, it likely would have identified the presence inside the U.S. of hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar.
The NSA uses these records to identify connections between known and suspected terrorists (as well as terror conspirators and supporters). The overwhelming majority of records are never reviewed before being destroyed, but it is necessary for the NSA to obtain "the haystack" of records in order to find the terrorist "needle."
Only a strictly limited number of NSA analysts (among the thousands of professionals at the agency) may search the phone records database and only after articulating a specific reason that must be approved by a senior official. Those decisions are reviewed regularly by the Justice Department, Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, which imposes strict privacy protections.
To be effective, the NSA must be able to conduct these queries quickly, without regard to which phone carrier a terrorist or conspirator uses. And the records must be available for a few years '-- longer than phone companies need them for billing purposes.
Since its inception, this program has played a role in stopping roughly a dozen terror plots and identifying terrorism supporters in the U.S. Given the threats we face from al-Qaeda and others, we need all legal tools at our disposal.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon consider legislation to add public reporting requirements and more court review, and to codify existing procedures into law. I hope this will restore public confidence to a program that continues to protect the homeland from terrorism.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 03:33
Federal authorities and local cops are vehemently denying that they knew the identities of alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before releasing their images to the public, in response to a pointed letter from an Iowa senator that questions whether the FBI had a bead on the terror suspects before their desperate and deadly attempt to flee.
''To be absolutely clear: No one was surveilling the Tsarnaevs and they were not identified until after the shootout,'' the FBI, Boston police and Massachusetts State Police said in a joint statement this afternoon, in reference to the wild April 19 gunfight that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, dead. ''Any claims to the contrary are false.''
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley asked FBI Director James Comey Jr. in a letter what feds did to attempt to ID the Tsarnaevs before publishing their photos, and why FBI agents were spotted conducting surveillance near Central Square on April 18 '-- just hours before authorities say the brothers ambushed and murdered MIT campus cop Sean Collier. The letter also notes that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has been chided for failure to share information with local authorities in the past, never told Cambridge cops about the surveillance operation. Grassley is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Authorities said the Joint Terrorism Task Force ''was at M.I.T., located in Cambridge, MA, on April 18, 2013, on a matter unrelated to the Tsarnaev brothers.''
Grassley's letter also asks whether the FBI, whose Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, ever attempted to recruit the brothers as informants or sources. Authorities said today they did not.
''The Tsarnaev brothers were never sources for the FBI nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as source,'' the statement said.
Grassley's office says he has not received a response from the FBI.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:32
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information.
While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers' data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States.
The prescreening, some of which is already taking place, is described in documents the T.S.A. released to comply with government regulations about the collection and use of individuals' data, but the details of the program have not been publicly announced.
It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.
Mr. Darrat said the SSSS printed on his boarding pass meant he had to have enhanced screening.
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger's name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler's passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
Privacy groups contacted by The New York Times expressed concern over the security agency's widening reach.
''I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,'' said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. ''The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.''
The T.S.A., which has been criticized for a one-size-fits-all approach to screening travelers, said the initiatives were needed to make the procedures more targeted.
''Secure Flight has successfully used information provided to airlines to identify and prevent known or suspected terrorists or other individuals on no-fly lists from gaining access to airplanes or secure areas of airports,'' the security agency said in a statement. ''Additional risk assessments are used for those higher-risk passengers.''
An agency official discussed some aspects of the initiative on the condition that she not be identified. She emphasized that the main goal of the program was to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States.
Anyone who has never traveled outside the United States would not have a passport number on file and would therefore not be subject to the rules that the agency uses to determine risk, she said, although documents indicate that the agency is prescreening all passengers in some fashion.
The official added that these rules consider things like an individual's travel itinerary, length of stay abroad and type of travel document, like a passport. If an airline has a traveler's passport number on file, it is required to share that information with the T.S.A., even for a domestic flight.
The agency also receives a code indicating a passenger is a member of the airline's frequent-flier program and has access to details about past travel reservations, known as passenger name records. This official could not confirm if that information was being used to assess a passenger's risk.
The effort comes as the agency is trying to increase participation in its trusted traveler program, called PreCheck, that allows frequent fliers to pass through security more quickly after submitting their fingerprints and undergoing a criminal-background check.
The T.S.A. has emphasized its goal of giving 25 percent of all passengers lighter screening by the end of next year, meaning they can keep their shoes and jackets on, wait in separate lines and leave laptop computers in their bags. But travelers who find themselves in the higher-risk category can be subjected to repeated searches.
That has happened to Abdulla Darrat, an urban planner from Queens who said he was flagged for extra scrutiny all eight times he flew since June. When he tries to check in online, a message tells him to check in at the airport, where he receives a boarding pass marked with ''SSSS'' indicating that he must undergo enhanced screening. His name has been handwritten on a card at the podium where an agent checks passengers' identification, he said.
''They pat me down,'' Mr. Darrat, 31, said. ''Then they pull out every single article of clothing in my bag. They take out every shirt and every pair of pants.''
After the checkpoint search, which includes swabbing his luggage to check for explosive residue, he said he was often stopped at the gate before being allowed to fly. He said he assumed that the extra scrutiny was because he had flown to Libya to visit relatives. He also expressed support for protests against Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011, but the extra scrutiny did not happen until this summer.
''It adds this whole air of suspicion about me to everybody on the plane,'' he said.
Critics argue that the problem with what the agency calls an ''intelligence-driven, risk-based analysis'' of passenger data is that secret computer rules, not humans, make these determinations. Civil liberties groups have questioned whether the agency has the legal authority to make these assessments, which the T.S.A. has claimed in Federal Register notices and privacy disclosures about the initiative. Privacy advocates have also disputed whether computer algorithms can accurately predict terrorist intent.
The airline industry has supported the expansion of PreCheck and using data about travelers to decide who should receive more or less scrutiny at checkpoints, to reduce security bottlenecks and focus resources on higher-risk passengers.
At the heart of the expanded effort is a database called the Automated Targeting System, which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and screens travelers entering the United States.
Data in the Automated Targeting System is used to decide who is placed on the no-fly list '-- thousands of people the United States government has banned from flying '-- and the selectee list, an unknown number of travelers who are required to undergo more in-depth screening, like Mr. Darrat. The T.S.A. also maintains a PreCheck disqualification list, tracking people accused of violating security regulations, including disputes with checkpoint or airline staff members.
Much of this personal data is widely shared within the Department of Homeland Security and with other government agencies. Privacy notices for these databases note that the information may be shared with federal, state and local authorities; foreign governments; law enforcement and intelligence agencies '-- and in some cases, private companies for purposes unrelated to security or travel.
For instance, an update about the T.S.A.'s Transportation Security Enforcement Record System, which contains information about travelers accused of ''violations or potential violations'' of security regulations, warns that the records may be shared with ''a debt collection agency for the purpose of debt collection.''
A recent privacy notice about PreCheck notes that fingerprints submitted by people who apply for the program will be used by the F.B.I. to check its unsolved crimes database.
''The average person doesn't understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,'' said Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has fought to block these initiatives. ''There's no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.''
For travelers who feel they have been wrongly placed on some type of watch list or experienced security screening problems, the Department of Homeland Security has established a Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. According to a review by the department's Privacy Office, there were at least 13,000 inquiries to the redress program in the nine months ending March 31, but civil liberties groups and some travelers described the redress process as a black hole.
''A lot of people I know have tried it,'' Mr. Darrat said. ''And it just doesn't really make a difference.''
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 20:50
An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers '-- as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans '-- purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.
superget.info home page
In November 2011, this publication ran a story about an underground service called Superget.info, a fraudster-friendly site that marketed the ability to look up full Social Security numbers, birthdays, drivers license records and financial information on millions of Americans. Registration was free, and accounts were funded via WebMoney and other virtual currencies that are popular in the cybercriminal underground.
Each SSN search on Superget.info returned consumer records that were marked with a set of varying and mysterious two- and three-letter ''sourceid:'' identifiers, including ''TH,'' ''MV,'' and ''NCO,'' among others. I asked readers who may have a clue about the meaning or source of those abbreviations to contact me. In the weeks following that post, I heard from many readers who had guesses and ideas, but none who seemed to have conclusive information.
That changed in the past week. An individual who read a story about the operators of a similar ID theft service online having broken into the networks of LexisNexis and other major data brokers wrote to say that he'd gone back and reviewed my previous stories on this topic, and that he'd identified the source of the data being resold by Superget.info. The reader said the abbreviations matched data sets produced by Columbus, Ohio-based USInfoSearch.com.
Contacted about the reader's claim, U.S. Info Search CEO Marc Martin said the data sold by the ID theft service was not obtained directly through his company, but rather via Court Ventures, a third-party company with which US Info Search had previously struck an information sharing agreement. Martin said that several years ago US Info Search and CourtVentures each agreed to grant the other company complete access to its stores of information on US consumers.
Founded in 2001, Court Ventures described itself as a firm that ''aggregates, repackages and distributes public record data, obtained from over 1,400 state and county sources.'' Cached, historic copies of courtventures.com are available through archive.org.
THE ROLE OF EXPERIAN
In March 2012, Court Ventures was purchased by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Experian, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. According to Martin, the proprietors of Superget.info had gained access to Experian's databases by posing as a U.S.-based private investigator. In reality, Martin said, the individuals apparently responsible for running Superget.info were based in Vietnam.
Martin said he first learned of the ID theft service after hearing from a U.S. Secret Service agent who called and said the law enforcement agency was investigating Experian and had obtained a grand jury subpoena against the company.
The ''sourceid'' abbreviations pointed toward Court Ventures.
While the private investigator ruse may have gotten the fraudsters past Experian and/or CourtVentures' screening process, according to Martin there were other signs that should have alerted Experian to potential fraud associated with the account. For example, Martin said the Secret Service told him that the alleged proprietor of Superget.info had paid Experian for his monthly data access charges using wire transfers sent from Singapore.
''The issue in my mind was the fact that this went on for almost a year after Experian did their due diligence and purchased'' Court Ventures, Martin said. ''Why didn't they question cash wires coming in every month? Experian portrays themselves as the databreach experts, and they sell identity theft protection services. How this could go on without them detecting it I don't know. Our agreement with them was that our information was to be used for fraud prevention and ID verification, and was only to be sold to licensed and credentialed U.S. businesses, not to someone overseas.''
Experian declined multiple requests for an interview. But in a written statement provided to KrebsOnSecurity, Experian acknowledged the broad outlines of Martin's story and said it had worked with the Secret Service to bring a Vietnamese national to justice in connection with the online ID theft service. Their statement is as follows:
''Experian acquired Court Ventures in March, 2012 because of its national public records database. After the acquisition, the US Secret Service notified Experian that Court Ventures had been and was continuing to resell data from US Info Search to a third party possibly engaged in illegal activity. Following notice by the US Secret Service, Experian discontinued reselling US Info Search data and worked closely and in full cooperation with law enforcement to bring Vietnamese national Hieu Minh Ngo, the alleged perpetrator, to justice. Experian's credit files were not accessed. Because of the ongoing federal investigation, we are not free to say anything further at this time.''
WHO IS HIEU?
As I noted in my 2011 story, I'd found a scammer-friendly forum called talkgold.com where a user named ''hieupc'' was promoting superget.info as his site. Further searching showed that there was a fairly active Vietnamese hacker who used the nickname ''hieupc;'' That user appears to have gotten started defacing Web sites, even attacking the Web site of his former university in New Zealand after the school kicked him out for alleged credit card fraud. As it happens, the Web server address history for superget.info shows that it was hosted last year in Vietnam.
According an indictment unsealed last week by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, Hieupc was none other than Hieu Minh Ngo, the 24-year-old Vietnamese individual named in Experian's statement. According to court documents, Ngo resided in New Zealand and Vietnam, and operated superget.info and a similar ID theft service called findget.me, along with an unnamed co-conspirator, identified in the complaint only as John Doe One.
These services specialized in selling ''fullz'' or ''fulls,'' a slang term that cybercrooks use to describe a package of personally identifiable information that typically includes the following information: an individual's name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, place of work, duration of work, state driver's license number, mother's maiden name, bank account number(s), bank routing number(s), email account(s) and other account passwords. Fulls are most commonly used to take over the identity of a person in order to engage in other fraud, such as taking out loans in the victim's name or filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS.
All told, findget.me and superget.info acquired or sold fullz information on more than a half million people, the government alleges.
The U.S. Secret Service declined to discuss the case, but a source familiar with the matter said undercover federal agents set up a phony business deal to lure Ngo out of Vietnam and into Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. The source said that Ngo was arrested upon his arrival in Guam and transferred to New Hampshire. There he is currently facing 15 separate criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit identification fraud, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud, among others.
If convicted on all counts, Ngo could be facing a very lengthy prison sentence. According to a statement on the Ngo case released Oct. 19 by the Justice Department and New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas, the statutory maximum penalties are five years on the identity fraud and identity fraud conspiracy counts; two years each on the aggravated identity theft counts; 20 years on the wire fraud count and wire fraud conspiracy counts; 10 years on the substantive access device fraud count; and five years on the conspiracy to commit access device fraud count.
The unsealed complaint against Ngo is available here (PDF).
DATA BROKER BREAKDOWN
Meanwhile, it's not clear what '-- if any '-- trouble Experian may face as a result of its involvement in the identity theft scheme. This incident bears some resemblance to a series of breaches at ChoicePoint, a data aggregator that acted as a private intelligence service to government and industry. Beginning in 2004, ChoicePoint suffered several breaches in which personal data on American citizens was accessed by crooks who'd used previously stolen identities to create apparently legitimate businesses seeking ChoicePoint accounts. ChoicePoint was later sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, an action that produced a $10 million settlement '-- the largest in the agency's history for a violation of federal privacy law.
In 2008, ChoicePoint was acquired by Reed Elsevier, the parent company of data aggregator LexisNexis. Last month, KrebsOnSecurity published an exclusive story showing how the proprietors of an identity theft service that competed with superget.info had hacked into the networks of LexisNexis, as well as data brokers Kroll and Dun & Bradstreet.
Avivah Litan, a financial fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., said this latest exposure raises serious questions about U.S. regulators' capacity to monitor the due care of extremely sensitive consumer data, in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Litan said that under 15 U.S.C. 1681b (PDF) credit reporting agencies have strict guidelines regarding to whom they may distribute consumer reports.
''It's clear that criminal identity theft organizations are excluded from the list of users with 'permissible purposes','' Litan said. '' While the government shutdown certainly affected regulator business in October 2013, where have the regulators been for the last seven years when it comes to protecting sensitive consumer data? Have those efforts been shut down as well?''
There are signs that at least some federal regulators may be taking a harder look at the practices of the data broker industry. In an August 2013 keynote speech (PDF) at the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said ''the time has come for businesses to move their data collection and use practices out of the shadows and into the sunlight. In other words, with big data comes big responsibility. Firms that acquire and maintain large sets of consumer data must be responsible stewards of that information.''
Ramirez noted that the FTC can already bring actions under Section 5 of the FTC Act, and that it will continue to be active in punishing data brokers that fail to secure the information they collect. But she said stronger incentives to push firms to safeguard big data must be in place, and that the FTC has urged Congress to give the agency civil penalty authority against companies that fail to maintain reasonable security.
''Firms of all sorts are using consumer data in ways that may not just be contrary to consumers' expectation, but could also be harmful to their interests,'' Ramirez said. ''This problem is perhaps seen most acutely with data brokers '-- companies that collect and aggregate consumer information from a wide array of sources to create detailed profiles of individuals. Their success depends on having more and better data than their rivals. The concern is that their mega-databases may contain highly sensitive information. The risk of improper disclosure of sensitive information is heightened because consumers know nothing about these companies and their practices are invisible to consumers.''
Last year, the FTC called on data brokers to give consumers access to their information through an easy-to-find, easy-to-use common portal. The agency also supported legislation to give consumers access to, and a right to dispute or suppress, data held by brokers. As it stands, Congress can't even bring itself to pass a national data breach disclosure law, a relatively nonpartisan legislative effort that has enjoyed broad support from industry leaders for nearly a decade.
FTC Chairwoman Ramirez said the agency also issued subpoenas to nine data brokers, seeking information about the nature and sources of the consumer information the data brokers collect; how they use, maintain, and disseminate the information; and the extent to which they allow consumers to access and correct their information or opt out of having their personal information sold. The FTC said it expects to issue a report later this year with its findings.
Tags: 15 U.S.C. 1681b, avivah litan, Choicepoint, Court Ventures, Dun & Bradstreet, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Federal Trade Commission, findget.me, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Gartner Inc., Hieu Minh Ngo, hieupc, Kroll, LexisNexis, Liberty Reserve, Marc Martin, New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas, Reed Elsevier, superget.info, U.S. Secret Service, US Infosearch, webmoney
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Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:28
The US District Court for the State of Idaho ruled that an ICS product developer's computer could be seized without him being notified or even heard from in court primarily because he states on his web site ''we like hacking things and don't want to stop''.
BackgroundBattelle Energy Alliance is the management and operating contractor for Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and they have brought suit against ex-INL employee Corey Thuen and his company Southfork Security.
It began with the US Department of Energy funding an effort for INL to develop ''a computer program aimed at protecting the United States' critical energy infrastructure (oil, gas, chemical and electrical companies) from cyber attacks.'' Corey Thuen was one of the developers of this software program that was later called Sophia.
Sophia identifies new communication patterns on ICS networks. As noted in our 5 Oct 2012 post, this is not novel as Tenable's Passive Vulnerability Scanner and other products have done this for years. Sophia may have added some intelligence for ICS protocols (I haven't tested it), and the user interface for a product like this is often the key factor.
Battelle wants to license this technology, NexDefense was selected to negotiate for a license, and the suit states that Corey was pushing for it to be open source. Eventually Corey left INL, created Southfork Security, and wrote a similar ''situational awareness'' program called Visdom.
In simple terms, the suit alleges that Corey stole the code and violated agreements with INL. I have no idea if he stole the code or what he signed while at INL. He probably had the code, but again the idea is hardly novel. He could have started over with a next generation product on his own. A look at the code would provide the answer, and the answer may be somewhere in the middle as it so often is.
HACKER!The disturbing part of the ruling is that Battelle asked for and got a restraining order without first notifying Corey/Southfork Security primarily because the Southfork web site said ''We like hacking things and we don't want to stop''. They requested and got an order to knock on his door and seize his computer because he claims to like hacking things on the Southfork web site. From the court decision:
The Court finds it significant that defendants are self-described hackers, who say, ''We like hacking things and we don't want to stop.'' '...
The Court has struggled over the issue of allowing the copying of the hard drive. This is a serious invasion of privacy and is certainly not a standard remedy, as the discussion of the case law above demonstrates. The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants '' in their own words '' are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act. (underline added) And concealment likely involves the destruction of evidence on the hard drive of Thuen's computer. For these reasons, the Court finds this is one of the very rare cases that justifies seizure and copying of the hard drive.
Another factor in issuing the restraining order without notice was:
Battelle must show that the defendants have ''a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders or that persons similar to the adverse party have such a history.'' Id. (citing In the Matter of Vuitton et Fils S.A., 606 F.2d 1, 5 (2d Cir. 1979)).
Battelle asserts generally that defendants who have the technical ability to wipe out a hard drive will do precisely that when faced with allegations of wrongdoing.
It is hard to believe the court bought that as proving Corey/Southfork had ''a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders''. Again, Corey may have had Sophia on his computer and done everything wrong, but the evidence the court used to decide to take away some of Corey's fourth amendment rights was flimsy. Basically he said he liked hacking things and had the skills to wipe a computer.
There was no evidence in the court order that he had ever done this before or had an intention to do this.
Battelle's lawyers also played the national security card:
Most broadly, releasing Sophia open-source has national security implications. As Battelle puts it, ''Defendants plan to give away the keys to Sophia . . . to the very attackers Sophia is meant to thwart.''
This is laughable, but if you are a lawyer your job is to advocate. The problem is Corey/Southfork and their lawyers were not given an opportunity to shoot this down, and the court mentioned ''national security concerns'' as part of the rationale for their decision.
Battelle / INL may be convinced that Corey is using the Sophia code, breaking agreements and doing other illegal things that affect their money making opportunities. While I don't agree with many of their points in the case, the real fault lies with the court buying and making the HACKER argument the determining factor.
In the end, a review of the Visdom code would and will indicate whether it is Sophia or not.
@SCADAhacker it's time to change your website and twitter handle.
Image by lostevil
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:59
About the rallyThe NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications. It's operating without any meaningful oversight.
On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act, we're holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We'll be handing more than a half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us '-- and we won't tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
A stellar group of whistleblowers, activists, researchers and others from both sides of the political spectrum will be speaking at this historic event. The list includes:
Congressman Justin AmashFormer senior NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas DrakeSocial critic Naomi WolfJona Bechtolt, from electro-punk band YACHTClaire L. Evans, also from YACHTLt. Dan Choi, LGBT advocate and U.S. veteranRainey Reitman, EFFBruce Schneier, internationally renowned security technologistCraig Aaron, Free PressKymone Freeman, Director of the National Black LUV FestFormer New Mexico Governor Gary JohnsonKhalilah Barnes, EPICShahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeMalachi Byrd, DC Youth Poetry Slam TeamWafa Ben Hassine, writer and human rights advocateFormer Congressman Dennis KucinichLaura Murphy, ACLUNOT4PROPHET, Hip Hop MC and community organizerBlack Alley, DC-based soul-garage bandLocation:Marchers will gather in front of Union Station at 11:30 a.m. by the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain in Columbus Circle. Shortly after noon we'll march to the National Mall at 3rd Street and Madison Dr. NW, in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, where there will be a stage set up for our rally speakers, musicians, and performers.Read more and see a map.
Who we areStopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. We came together in June 2013 to demand the U.S. Congress investigate the full extent of the NSA's spying programs. Go here to read our letter to U.S. Congress demanding accountability and reform.
Members of the StopWatching.us coalition include:
PUBLIC ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS:+ More than 100 others. See the full list.
INDIVIDUALS:+ More than 30 others. See the full list.
Reconcile dem women waxing profetic about the union between man and woman
What about the gay guys??
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:29
I have officially announced my candidacy for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from California's Congressional District 33.
I know many of you are not surprised. At my Sister Giant Conference in Los Angeles last year, I urged almost two thousand women to consider running for office using the principles of non-violence to birth a new American politics. After experiencing the energy and enthusiasm of the conference, I spent long months pondering how I could best further such a movement. The response that feels most real and true to me is to run for office myself.
The biggest threat to our country today is not from armies invading our shores. The biggest threat to our democracy is not bombs falling from the sky over an American city. No, our biggest threat is a pattern of a thousand cuts '' the slow but now constant chipping away at our democratic freedoms'--one capitulation to moneyed interests at a time, one new gerrymandered district at a time, one government surveillance program at a time, one limiting of our voting rights at a time, one intimidation of journalists at a time, one Patriot Act at a time, one National Defense Authorization Act at a time, one Trans Pacific Partnership so-called trade deal limiting our sovereignty at a time. So at what point'-- after how many moments when Americansmutter to ourselves''Ya gotta be kidding me!'''--do we stand up to our own government and say,''Hey, guys! Whose side are you on??''
That question will not be answered in a meaningful way until it is asked in the most powerful way. And that means not just from the sidelines and not just from online petitions. The question must be asked more often by people sitting in those seats, in that building, in that city.
And that's why I am running for Congress. I hope you'll join me.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 02:27
Marianne Williamson[Unlink], the best-selling author whose ''A Return to Love'' spent 39 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1992, announced Sunday that she is running as an independent for the US House of Representatives in California's 33rd District, a seat currently held by 74-year old Democrat Henry Waxman[Unlink], one of the most powerful members of Congress.
Williamson, who made her candidacy official Sunday afternoon at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, has written extensively about the moral and spiritual underpinnings of US politics in many of her books, including ''Healing the Soul of America,'' a 2000 best-seller that focuses on transforming spiritual activism into social activism.
The theme of Williamson's campaign is ''Create Anew.''
Williamson writes on her campaign website that Waxman has been a good representative for 38 years and that she does not consider him an opponent. Rather, she sees them both as simply different candidates for the same position. In seeking to encourage ''a new consciousness regarding our political discourse,'' Williamson hopes to stem the trend toward corporatism that has been so prevalent in recent decades.
''American government has lost its ethical center and its deep commitment to democracy, drifting ever more consistently in a corporatist direction,'' Williamson writes. ''And no one specific legislative initiative can fix that. I believe that a wave of independent candidates, all committed to a huge course-correction, is necessary to turn our ship around. I feel my campaign, and most importantly my win, can help inspire such a movement.''
In addition to her career as a writer, Williamson works in several other capacities. She is the emeritus chair for The Peace Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting a culture of peace; facilitator of Sister Giant seminars, designed to promote ''a higher level of contribution among those of us who want to increase our efficacy as activist and/or candidate, in order to uplift the tenor of American politics and in so doing help heal the world''; and a teacher of A Course in Miracles, a course of study that assists people in relinquishing a thought system based on fear and embracing one based on love.
Williamson is contesting a seat held by one of the most longstanding members of Congress. Waxman is the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and served as committee chairman in 2009-10. In 2012, Waxman won a closer-than-usual re-election to his 20th term in the House, 53 to 47 percent, over Bill Bloomfield, an independent and co-founder of the ''No Labels'' movement. Bloomfield, a successful businessman, spent nearly $6 million of his own money in unsuccessfully challenging Waxman, Bloomberg.com reported in late 2012.
It remains to be seen if Williamson's name recognition will help her fundraising efforts and just how much money it will take to pose a serious challenge to Waxman, but given her track record of success in other endeavors, the campaign in California's 33rd District could be one of the more interesting House races in 2014.
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Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:40
The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan says companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange should be forced to have at least three women on their board of directors by 2020 or face a severe and controversial sanction: delisting from the exchange.
In a letter to the Ontario Securities Commission, which at the request of the provincial government is already looking into creating a regime to encourage more gender diversity on boards, Teachers' senior vice-president of public equities Wayne Kozun says the regulator's proposal of a more flexible ''comply or explain'' model doesn't go far enough.
The response to the OSC's call for comments on the issue of gender diversity has been mixed, but many supporters are in favour of the proposed ''comply or explain'' model that would give companies flexibility in increasing the number of women on their boards.
Even the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, a major institutional investor that supports a target of 30% female representation on boards, stops short of recommending a quota system.
Chief executive Doug Pearce concludes that while it might be effective, quotas ''would not be acceptable in Canada today.''
The proposal is perhaps the most aggressive one put forward to date on the issue and has sparked the ire of those who oppose heavy handed quota systems. But Mr. Kozun said it would be a solution that could generate better stock returns.
''The selection of a minimum of three women on a board is rooted in the belief that board diversity yields more effective boards and better results for shareholders,'' Mr. Kozun said in the letter, adding that the pension plan's proposal is ''not based on meeting an arbitrary target simply for the sake of meeting that number.''
He said the threshold of three women directors was selected based on a ''review of the research,'' which also led pension plan officials to conclude that ''without such a push it is not evident that sufficient progress in improving diversity would be made.''
Four women are on Teachers' nine-member board, including chair Eileen Mercier who was appointed to the position at one of Canada's largest pension plans in 2005. In an interview, Mr. Kozun said he expects the pension plan's proposal will receive support from teachers in Ontario, 73% of whom are women.
Mr. Kozun said officials at the pension plan felt the need to push into the controversial territory because simply encouraging companies to comply with suggested goals and allowing them to explain themselves when they do not has already proven ineffective in jurisdictions outside Canada, including Norway and the United Kingdom. Sanctions or even threats of sanctions, on the other hand, have been effective in achieving a measurable increase in women on boards, he said.
Improvements in gender diversity on Canadian boards have ''flat-lined,'' Mr. Kozun said, calling the lack of progress in recent years ''disappointing'' because the poor showing comes despite ''a great deal of advocacy'' and discussion.
''Over the past decade, the number of boards that have no female directors has consistently varied between 40% and 50%, and the percentage of women on boards in Canada has remained in the 10% to 13% range,'' Mr. Kozun wrote in his letter to the OSC.
As a result, he said, ''there is a need for an approach to have an immediate and profound impact.''
In an interview, Mr. Kozun said the dearth of women on boards doesn't make sense when women make up a much larger proportion of graduates from Canadian law schools and directors' courses.
In his letter to the OSC, he detailed Norway's success in boosting female representation on boards, which came about only after the country adopted a 40% quota and threatened to dissolve companies that didn't comply.
''It is our view that without the implementation of a quota and the threat of sanctions Norway would not have met their board gender diversity target,'' Mr. Kozun wrote.
He says the U.K. government recently threatened to impose sanctions after companies failed to sustain growth with a voluntary target of 25% of women on boards.
Debate about women on boards continues to rage beyond Canada's borders, notably on Twitter where the soon-to-be publicly traded company behind the instant global communication service is under fire for having no female directors and just one woman in senior management.
In Teachers' letter to the OSC, Mr. Kozun cites a study that suggests companies that have woman on their boards outperform those that do not, and another that looks into targeting a ''critical mass'' of women on boards to ensure their voices are heard. The Teachers' proposal contemplates making the requirement to have at least three female board members a listing requirement of the Toronto Stock Exchange, which would be enforced by the exchange.
''It is our view that an appropriate sanction for non-compliance with our proposal would be the threat of delisting companies,'' Mr. Kozun wrote.
Rob Prichard, chair of the Bank of Montreal, says he doesn't support quotas, and he thinks a comply or explain model should be given a chance to work before jumping to more forceful intervention.
''I do not support statutorily imposed quotas. I do support boards setting goals for themselves and measuring their progress towards diversity,'' Mr. Prichard said in an interview. ''The Teachers' position assumes the comply or explain approach will fail and that a stronger intervention is required now.''
The comment period for the OSC's review of gender diversity on boards and in senior management ended Friday. The next step will be a roundtable discussion to take place Oct. 16 at the regulator's headquarters in Toronto. Jim Leech, chief executive of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan which manages nearly $130-billion on behalf of 300,000 active and retired teachers, is one of the scheduled speakers.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:57
The head of a United Nations committee on climate change said this week that global warming is "absolutely" linked to a recent spate of wildfires and heat waves, while calling upon international leaders to address the matter with more urgency. Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made the comments in a recent interview with CNN, as massive brushfires continue to rage across Australia.
"Yes there is, absolutely," Figueres said when asked whether there is a link between climate change and wildfires. "The World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change '' yet. But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency."
"We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts."
Figueres also criticized newly elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who once described global warming as "total crap" and is looking to repeal the country's carbon tax, after having disbanded its climate change committee in September. Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Figueres said Australia is already paying a price for carbon emissions, taxes notwithstanding.
"We are really already paying the price of carbon," Figueres said. "We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts."
Figueres delivered a more impassioned plea for action during an interview with BBC News Tuesday, telling the agency that diplomatic negotiations over a global climate change treaty are not advancing fast enough. The UNFCCC is charged with creating a treaty by 2015 and implementing it by 2020, as determined during a 2011 conference in Durban, South Africa.
"I am always frustrated by the pace of the negotiations, I was born impatient," she said. "We are moving way, way too slowly, but we are moving in the right direction and that's what gives me courage and hope."
"completely unfair and immoral."
Figueres, who has served as the head of the UN's committee since 2010, later became tearful when describing the severe impacts that global inaction may have on future generations.
"I'm committed to climate change because of future generations, it is not about us, right? We're out of here," Figueres told BBC News. "I just feel that it is so completely unfair and immoral what we are doing to future generations, we are condemning them before they are even born."
"We have a choice about it, that's the point, we have a choice," she continued. "If it were inevitable then so be it, but we have a choice to change the future we are going to give our children."
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:06
WebImagesMapsShoppingNewsMoreAny timePast hourPast 24 hoursPast weekPast monthPast yearAll resultsVerbatimNews for australian military explosion started firesAustralian bush fires: Military probes link to Lithgow blazeBBC News- 2 days ago
Australia's military is investigating whether a training exercise using explosives ... "The fire started on 16 October, the same day that defence ...
NSW Fire: Military Investigates Role in Lithgow Fire; Iconic Zig Zag Railway GuttedInternational Business Times AU- 1 day ago
Australia Fires: Military Investigates Blaze - Sky Newsnews.sky.com/story/.../australia-fires-military-investigates-blaze- Cached2 days ago ... The Australian military is investigating whether it is responsible for starting amajor ... "The fire started on 16 October, the same day that Defence ...Australian military to probe link to bushfire - Australia Network News ...www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-19/an-nsw-bushfires-military.../5033580
3 days ago ... The Australian Defence Force said it was investigating the circumstances of thefire near Lithgow, which began on defence land. The fire ...NSW Fire: Military Investigates Role in Lithgow Fire; Iconic Zig Zag ...au.ibtimes.com/.../australia-new-south-wales-lithgow-fire-australian.htm- Cached1 day ago ... In a statement to the press, the Australian Defence Force said it would investigatethe circumstances of the fire near Lithgow, which began on its ...Military investigating if training exercises caused Australian bush ...www.mirror.co.uk/.../military-investigating-training-exercises-caused- 2470098
2 days ago ... The fire began on Wednesday on Defence land, the same day ... The AustralianDefence Force issued a statement saying: "Defence is ...Australia probes possible military link to wildfire - CNN.comedition.cnn.com/2013/10/18/world/asia/australia-fires/?hpt=hp_t3
3 days ago ...Australian firefighters are still battling major bush fires blazing across the ... Thefires have caused numerous road closures in the state, the fire ...57 fires scorch eastern Australia; state of emergency declared - CNN ...www.cnn.com/2013/10/20/world/asia/australia-fires/?hpt=hp_t2
2 days ago ...Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during a bush fire briefing ....whether one of the fires was caused by a military training exercise.Australian wildfire: Military exercise caused Lithgow blaze?zeenews.india.com/.../australian-wildfire-military-exercise-caused-lithgow- blaze_884314.html
3 days ago ... One of the huge bush fire which is still burning, started on ... The military is nowinvestigating the circumstances of the fire and whether it was ...Australia probes military exercise link to fires - RT Newswww.rte.ie/news/2013/1019/481355-australia-wildfires/
2 days ago ... The Australian Defence Force said it was investigating the circumstances of a firenear Lithgow, which began on military land. "The fire started ...Australian military's explosives exercise may have sparked bush fire...www.scmp.com/.../australian-militarys-explosives-exercise-may-have-sparked -bush-fire
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Wed, 23 Oct 2013 09:53
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
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Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
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Photos: Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Australian bush fires
Photos: Australian bush fires
Australian bush fires
Australian bush fires
NEW: More than 70 wildfires -- including 29 that are not contained -- are ragingA line of wildfires nearly 1,000 miles long threatens the state of New South Wales, AustraliaHigh winds and temperatures threaten to make Wednesday the worst day for the blazesMore than 200 homes in the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney have been destroyedAre you affected by the fires? Send us your pictures and experiences but please stay safe
Blue Mountains, Australia (CNN) -- More than 70 wildfires -- including 29 that are uncontained -- are raging across a wide swath of Australia's most populous state, now threatening the western suburbs of Sydney, authorities said Wednesday.
"It's only a matter of hours before we see a flare-up in fire activity and a breach of these tenuous containment strategies," said Shane Fitzsimmons, Rural Fire Service (RFS) commissioner, in Sydney earlier in the day.
The wildfires stretch along a nearly 1,000-mile line in New South Wales, from the far north of the state south of Brisbane -- which lies just across the Queensland border -- to east of Canberra, the country's federal capital. Fires in the Blue Mountain range west of Sydney are a particular worry as rough terrain has impeded firefighting efforts.
"If our strategies don't work and weather materializes tomorrow that is forecast ... it could be absolutely devastating," said Rural Fire Service (RFS) Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers in New South Wales on Tuesday. "We lost a couple hundred homes the other day -- we could get worse losses than that." Wednesday is expected to be "about as bad as it gets," added Fitzsimmons.
With high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds forecast, fire officials have urged residents to evacuate from the path of the fires. "On days like today, minutes really matter," Fitzsimmons said.
At least one death has been reported. A 63-year-old man died of a suspected heart attack Friday while defending his home against a blaze on the New South Wales Central Coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, reported.
'Eerie' skies over city of Sydney
Some urban areas that border the Australian bush have been devastated by the fires, which have destroyed more than 200 homes in the Blue Mountains region since Thursday.
Scores of fires now have burned 25,800 hectares (310,859 acres) -- an area greater than the size of Los Angeles. On Tuesday, officials said they were bringing in 1,500 firefighters to join the more than 1,000 emergency crews already on the ground.
At Blue Gum Forest inside the Blue Mountains National Park, firefighters were doing controlled burns -- setting fires in the bush ahead of the frontline of the blazes to eliminate tinder and slow the progress of the fires. Instead of cloud-shrouded mountaintops, the valleys of the region were covered with a dense layer of smoke.
Fears are still high that fires could join to form a "mega-fire" and endanger heavily populated areas of this popular natural retreat west of Sydney.
Most of the firefighters in the area were volunteers who've left their ordinary jobs to put out the fire, pouring in from different parts of Australia.
"There's a sense of community, doing what they can -- you can get a sense of resilience, strength, and a deep sense of pride of each brigade pulling their weight," said CNN's Robyn Curnow, reporting from the Blue Mountains.
The state of emergency issued by authorities gives firefighters and police the authority to carry out measures such as cutting off water, power and gas and ordering mandatory evacuations of areas at risk.
A total fire ban is in place for the Greater Sydney region until further notice, officials have said, meaning no fire may be lit in the open, and all fire permits are suspended. The fires have spread a cloak of smog over Sydney in recent days.
The bush fires in the area spread out of control Thursday amid high temperatures and powerful winds. Emergency officials said the region is emerging from a very dry winter and has had little rain in recent months.
The causes of the Blue Mountains fires are still under investigation -- officials are looking into whether one major blaze was caused by a military training exercise.
Police said Monday they had arrested two boys, age 11 and 15, over two earlier bush fires in the Port Stephens area, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sydney, that began October 13. One of the fires they are accused of starting burned more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) in the surrounding area.
The 11-year-old has been placed under house arrest, charged with two counts of intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread, NSW Police Force said. The child is scheduled to appear in court next month where he is expected to plead not guilty to the charges, CNN affiliate Sky News reports.
CNN's Madison Park and Jethro Mullen contributed to this story
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 20:16
A new study shows that human beings are too selfish to endure present pain to avert future climate change. That's why we need win-win solutions now
Attila Kisbenedek / AFP / Getty ImagesSome 30,000 people demonstrate in the center of Copenhagen on Dec. 12, 2009 to turn up the heat on world leaders debating global warming at the U.N. climate conference
You want to know what the biggest obstacle to dealing with climate change is? Simple: time. It will take decades before the carbon dioxide we emit now begins to have its full effect on the planet's climate. And by the same token, it will take decades before we are able to enjoy the positive climate effects of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions now. (Even if we could stop emitting all CO' today, there's already future warming that's been baked into the system, thanks to past emission.) But we will feel the economic effects of either emitting or restricting CO' right now, in real time. While we can argue about the relative cost of reducing CO' emissions now '-- just as we can argue about the economic effects of climate change in the future '-- it should be clear that any attempt to restrict CO' emissions enough to make a dent in future climate change will cause some present-day economic pain. The global economy is still so dependent on relatively inexpensive fossil fuels that a quick transition to renewable sources would likely be costly in the short term. (See Naomi Klein's 2011 piece in The Nation for a fairly clear-eyed view of what truly radical climate policy would mean.)
What that means, in effect, is that climate policy asks the present to sacrifice for the future. Human beings tend not to be very good at that kind of planning, even when their own future selves stand to benefit '-- a study this year found that just 10% of Americans have saved enough in a 401(k) or individual retirement account to put themselves on a track to retire. When it comes to climate change, the worst effects will be felt years after many people today are long gone. From a self-centered perspective, that makes strict climate policy like saving for a retirement you know you'll never live to see.
So it shouldn't be surprising that a new study in Nature Climate Change confirms the fact that the kind of long-term cooperation demanded by effective climate policy is going to be even more challenging than we thought.
(MORE:Cold Years in the Future Could Be Hotter Than the Hottest Years Now)
American and German researchers led by Jennifer Jacquet of New York University put together a collective-risk group experiment that is centered around climate change. Here's how it worked. Each subject in groups with six participants was given a $55 operating fund. The experiment went 10 rounds, and during each round, they were allowed to choose one of three options: invest $0, $2.75 or $5.50 into a climate account. The participants were told that the total amount contributed would go to fund an advertisement on climate change in a German newspaper. If at the end of the 10 rounds, the group reached a target of $165 '-- or about $27 per person '-- they were considered to have successfully averted climate change, and each participant was given an additional $60 dollars. (If the numbers seem rough, it's because I'm converting from euros '-- the currency used in the experiment '-- and rounding off.) If the group failed to reach the $165 target, there was a 90% probability that they wouldn't get the additional payout. As a group, members would be better off if they collectively invested enough to reach that $165 target '-- otherwise they wouldn't get the payout '-- but individually, members could benefit by keeping their money to themselves while hoping the rest of the group would pay enough to reach the target. (That's the so-called free-rider phenomenon, and it's a major challenge for climate policy.)
Here's the twist, though: that $60 dollar endowment was paid out on three different time horizons. In one treatment, the cash was given to the groups the next day. In the second treatment, it was given seven weeks later. And in the third treatment, the cash was instead invested in planting oak trees that would sequester carbon '-- but since those trees wouldn't be fully grown for years, all the benefit would accrue to future generations, not the current players in the experiment. The difference between that third treatment and the first and second is what's known as ''intergenerational discounting,'' which happens when the benefits of an action in the present are highly diluted and mostly spread among many people in the future. Which, as it happens, is pretty much how climate policy would work.
(MORE:The Hard Math of Flood Insurance in a Warming World)
Unsurprisingly, the more delayed the payout was, the less likely the experimental groups would put enough money away to meet the goal to stop climate change. Even among those who knew they'd get the payout the next day, only seven of 10 groups invested sufficient funds, while none of the 11 groups who knew their endowment would be invested in planting trees gave enough money to ''stop'' climate change. While this is just one experiment, the results do not bode well for humanity's ability to come together to stop climate change. As the authors write:
Applying our results to international climate-change negotiations paints a sobering picture. Owing to intergenerational discounting, cooperation will be greatly undermined if, as in our setting, short-term gains can arise only from defection. This suggests the necessity of introducing powerful short-term incentives to cooperate, such as punishment, reward or reputation, in experimental research as well as in international endeavors to mitigate climate change.
Fortunately, short-term incentives for fighting climate change do exist. It takes decades to benefit from reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions, but phasing out fossil fuels like coal and oil can bring immediate improvements in air pollution. And air pollution has turned out to be even more dangerous than experts thought, with the World Health Organization last week declaring that bad air is a leading environmental cause of cancer, comparable to secondhand smoke.
The Nature Climate Change study also underscores why ''win-win'' climate policies '-- like innovation investments that can lead directly to cheap clean energy, rather than policies that make dirty energy more expensive '-- are likely to be the most effective ones. Barring a species-wide personality change, few of us will be willing to endure present pain so that our grandchildren won't have to endure an unlivable climate. We're likely better off tailoring solutions that work with our selfishness and brief attention span, rather than hoping we suddenly become better, more farsighted people.
MORE:The Benefits and Perils of Energy Abundance
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 20:16
By KEVIN BEGOSAssociated PressPITTSBURGH (AP) - The nation's largest labor unions are ready and willing to help fight global warming, but are cautioning environmentalists that workers need new clean-energy jobs before existing industries are shut down.
The four-day Power Shift conference in Pittsburgh is training young people to stop coal mining, fracking for oil and gas, and nuclear power, but organizers also want workers to join the battle against climate change.
Union leaders say their workers want to help build a new, green economy.
"Global warming is here, and we can work and get it fixed together," United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard said in a Friday night address at Power Shift.
But other labor groups note that while they share the same long-term clean energy goals with environmentalists, there are challenges.
"It's not just as simple as 'No Fracking'" or other bans, said Tahir Duckett, an AFL/CIO representative who spoke at a Saturday Power Shift panel that sought to promote dialogue between environmentalists and workers.
Duckett said workers need new jobs to make a transition to clean energy, noting that shutting down industries such as coal "can turn entire communities into a ghost town. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend like people aren't fighting for their very survival."
Richard Fowler, a Power Shift moderator, said that instead of talking about a "ban" on a particular industry, environmentalists should talk about solutions that provide jobs.
"That's what is missing," said Fowler, a radio host and member of Generational Alliance, a Washington, D.C. based coalition of community youth groups. "It's always a ban, or a fix, or a cap, or a trade" instead of just straight-up campaigns to build cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.
The overwhelming consensus among top scientists from around the world is that they're about as certain global warming is a real, man-made threat as they are that cigarettes kill, and pollution from fossil fuels is the biggest problem.
The organizers of Power Shift say a green economy is the only way to head off catastrophic global warming and build a healthier future for everyone, including workers and their families. Pittsburgh was chosen for the biannual conference partly because it's at the crossroads of old and new energy. The city itself has banned fracking, yet the surrounding county recently signed a huge drilling lease for land under the Pittsburgh International Airport. Western Pennsylvania is also the birthplace of the oil and steel industries, but tech firms are attracted by students from Carnegie Mellon University and other schools.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said their goal is to simultaneously decrease pollution from existing fossil fuels and increase clean energy, "while taking care of workers in the process."
"We have to begin replacing old, outdated, dirty fossil fuel projects with energy efficiency and clean energy," Brune said. "We're talking about a massive transition, with millions of people who will be affected."
The Power Shift conference is organized every two years by the Washington, D.C.-based Energy Action Coalition, with support this year from groups including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
But it's not clear how much some of the members of Power Shift are willing to compromise with workers as far as the timing of shutting down polluting industries. On Saturday many Power Shift sponsors, such as 350.org, also held a "Global Frackdown" with protests that sought to "Ban Fracking Now."
Some young people attending Power Shift say they're sensitive to the needs of workers.
To change to a green economy "we need all hands on deck, and that includes the coal workers," said Seth Bush, a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who now works for the Sierra Club. "And part of the conversation involves making sure that those people can put food on the table."
Rich Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County Executive, said Pittsburgh's history has some important lessons for Power Shift: the convention center they're meeting in is named after David L. Lawrence, a former Pittsburgh mayor who worked with industry to help create some of the nation's first major air pollution laws in the 1940s.
Back at the Power Shift conference, Duckett noted the potential for environmentalists and labor to join forces, but said it won't be easy.
"That's a roomful of people that is sympathetic to workers, but they don't understand us. They don't see the world through that lens" of a working family, Duckett said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 13:56
HealthJoNel AlecciaNBC News
9 hours ago
Desperate for breast milk, some new mothers who can't nurse their babies are turning to online sources, typically strangers with ample supplies. But a new study finds that human milk bought and sold on the Internet may be contaminated '-- and dangerous.
Nearly 75 percent of breast milk bought through the site OnlyTheBreast.com was tainted with high levels of disease-causing bacteria, including germs found in human waste.
That's according to Sarah A. Keim, a researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where her team purchased more than 100 samples of human milk last year, compared them to unpasteurized samples donated to a milk bank and then tested them for safety.
''I can't think of something you can buy online where you have less ability to validate the quality,'' Keim told NBC News. ''Even frozen milk was just as contaminated as thawed milk. There wasn't a whole lot recipients can rely on to know that it's OK.''
Keim decided to analyze breast milk samples after noticing more online sites offering human milk to buy, sell or donate. That's far different from the network of organized milk banks that typically provide screened and pasteurized donor milk to babies with medical conditions.
Rossen Reports: Where to find safe breast milk
In 2011, as many as 13,000 people posted on the four top sites offering to broker milk deals, Keim said. Most postings were from new moms who couldn't produce enough milk to feed their babies themselves but wanted the benefits of breast milk.
But what the researchers found was worrisome: more colonies of Gram-negative bacteria including coliform, staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria in the milk purchased online, and, in about 20 percent of samples, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which can cause serious illness in premature or sick babies. The contamination was associated with poor milk collection, storage or shipping practices, the analysis showed.
''We were very surprised by our findings,'' said Keim. ''Besides bacterial contamination and viruses that could be in the milk, you could be exposing your infant to chemical contaminants, pharmaceuticals or drugs as well.''
Representatives of OnlyTheBreast.com, a corporation based in Incline Village, Nev., did not respond directly to the reports of contamination. But after being contacted by NBC News, website officials said they intend to halt informal breast milk exchanges and revamp their organization.
"We have made the decision to transition away from offering breast milk classified ads and in the near future completely remove them," site founder Glenn Snow said in a statement.
Instead, officials said they are working to form a new milk bank program, Milk for Babies, that would partner with a laboratory to offer screened milk while still permitting donors to be reimbursed.
"We are convinced that a more safety-centered approach must be taken to secure milk sharing," officials added.
Courtesy Nationwide Children's Hospital
Samples of breast milk were found to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, including coliform, staphylococcus and streptococcus germs.
Still, the new study is causing an uproar in the larger breast milk world, where advocates of existing non-commercial milk-sharing sites say the report unfairly tarnishes efforts to boost the use of human milk for all babies, even when their moms don't have enough.
Health officials routinely urge women to nurse their babies exclusively for the first six months and along with other foods for the first year. About 77 percent of U.S. babies are fed their mother's milk at least once, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
''A blatant attack on women attempting to feed their babies is cruel and you should feel ashamed of yourself for spreading misinformation,'' Khadijah Cisse, a midwife who founded MilkShare, a portal for connecting women cited in the new research, said in an email to NBC News. ''Anyone can type up any bit of lies they want and make claims. Breast milk is supposed to contain bacteria.''
Any feeding system except a mother breast-feeding her own child carries some risk, said Shell Walker, founder of Eats on Feets, a milk-sharing portal. ''There's not a single feeding method outside of that closed biological system that doesn't warrant close monitoring,'' she said.
Emma Kwansica, founder of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, says that the women who share milk in 130 communities in 52 countries aren't strangers engaged in commerce.
''Peer-to-peer milk-sharing is really about families sharing at a hyper-local level. This study could not have been more opposite of what our moms are doing in the world today,'' she said. ''If there are babies getting sick from milk sharing, I would know. There are no sick babies.''
The problem, Keim said, is that the milk samples exchanged contained not only healthful bacteria, which are necessary, but high levels of bacteria that could cause harm.
''The pathogenic bacteria, those are the ones that are the most concerning,'' she said. All of the sharing sites urge women to collect, store and send milk in sanitary ways and to offer medical proof that the milk is safe. It's not clear, however, how many suppliers follow those instructions.
Keim's team sought samples through classified ads on the OnlyTheBreast site, where they were able to buy milk for between 50 cents and $3 an ounce.
They didn't obtain samples from the sharing sites because of the need for anonymity, but Keim said contamination is possible whenever strangers offer to supply '-- and, often, ship '-- unscreened milk.
Of 495 inquiries sent, 191 sellers never replied and 41 stopped corresponding after one reply, Keim wrote. Some 79 sellers agreed to send milk but never followed through and eight accepted payment but didn't send the promised product.
Of the 101 samples analyzed, 72 were contaminated with bacteria and would not have met criteria for feeding without pasteurization set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, or HMBANA.
That's a network of a dozen milk banks in the U.S. and Canada that supply donor milk, typically through health care providers and hospitals. Because the supply is scarce, the banked milk is limited to use in premature and medically fragile babies through medical prescriptions, said Kim Updegrove, president of HMBANA.
All donors are strictly screened and medically tested, and the milk is pasteurized to prevent contamination that could harm a baby, said Updegrove. That causes some slight loss of nutrition, she acknowledges, but reduces risk.
''I don't think that the general public understands human milk as a bodily fluid that can relay dangerous bacteria and viruses,'' she said.
The federal Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics both warn women not to feed babies breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet.
Breast milk can transmit infections such as HIV and tuberculosis and can also pass on prescription or illicit drugs. Those risks, combined with the evidence of harmful bacteria, should make new moms think twice about buying milk from strangers, Updegrove said.
''I long to have people view this the way that they view blood products,'' she said. ''You would never say, 'I'm a little bit anemic,' and hand off the tubing.''
The trouble is that women who can't breastfeed or produce enough milk themselves have few options unless their babies are sick enough to receive milk from a bank, which typically costs between $3.50 to $6 an ounce.
Allison Jones, 35, of Columbus, Ohio, wasn't able to make enough breast milk for her son, Charlie, who was born more than three months prematurely in May weighing 1 pound, 2.3 ounces. Because he was so early, he was able to obtain milk through a local bank, but if that weren't an option, she might have considered looking online.
''I can definitely see the appeal,'' she said. ''We're told breast milk is fantastic '-- and it is. But you don't really know the person donating.''
New mothers who have problems nursing should work with their pediatricians to find other options. Lactation experts can help resolve many feeding problems, Updegrove said.
If that doesn't help, Updegrove says commercial formula, though not ideal, is a better option than potentially unscreened breast milk from an unknown source.
''While it's certainly not ideal, if you have a healthy, full-term infant, that infant is likely to do just fine on formula,'' she said. ''I long to have people see breast milk as a bodily fluid that contains all the benefits, but all the risks, of other bodily fluids.''
JoNel Aleccia is a senior health reporter with NBC News. Reach her on Twitter at @JoNel_Aleccia or send her an email.
Irving is totally Canadian and basically owns the whole northeast of
Canada and is working on The US North east too...
As for the Indians, it is Agenda 21 stuff through and through. They are funded and organized by eco terrorists from the US.
The truth behind the violent protests in New Brunswick : Prime time : SunNews Video Gallery
SWN Canada is who is doing TESTING. They are not actually
in full production but just exploration. Furthermore, the rights of
passage and testing were all passed and above board. These people just
HATE carbon anything and are full on terrorists at this point....
Here is what REALLY happened... (And I LIVE in NB so I am as close as one wants to get to this mess)
police were called in to enforce a LEGALLY acquired injunction against
the protestors. The people that earlier this year were sabotaging and
fire bombing private property of SWN.
The "protestors" (Terrorists), came to the "protest" with
molotovs, pipe bombs and guns. They also drug their kid and babies with
them to increase the chance that the RCMP would screw themselves.
What played out was that the "protestors" firebombed 5 RCMP
vehicles and shot at the police. The police never fired bullets at them
To make matters worse, the "protestors", the
very next day, wanted no press coverage so they attacked one of the
local media people and stole their remote vehicle.
So ya, the fracking? It is totally fine in 99% of all cases
and those that are against it are anti human/pro agenda 21 type
And meanwhile, this province is DYING for jobs and all the ecos are blocking ANY natural resource development at every turn.
P.S. -- Yes, this has me pretty excited...
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:18
Shale gas company loses bid for injunction to halt N.B. protests
A request by SWN Resources Canada to extend a court injunction that prevents anyone from impeding its staging area and and storage facility near, Rexton, N.B., has been denied by a judge.
A request by SWN Resources Canada to extend a court injunction that prevents anyone from impeding its staging area and and storage facility near, Rexton, N.B., has been denied by a judge.
Justice George Rideout ruled Monday afternoon that there were no grounds to extend the injunction, after hearing arguments in the Court of Queen's Bench on Friday.
A celebration was staged outside the Moncton courthouse Monday after a judge refused to extend an injunction that prevented people from impeding SWN Resources Canada's shale gas exploration. (Jen Choi/CBC)
'Shale gas opponents, many from Elsipogtog First Nation, were drumming and singing in the courtroom and hallway before the ruling, and outside Moncton Law Courts.
"People are just overjoyed," CBC's Stephen Puddicombe said at the court. "There's been several occasions where people have literally broken down in tears and hugs. They cannot believe the news they've just heard."
Rideout said in his written decision that the company now has access to its equipment and the roadblock has stopped, so the injunction warning protesters not to interfere or attempt to interfere by force, threats, coercion, or roadblocks no longer applies.
He wrote that, even in the original injunction, people always had the right to voice their objections and carry "limited signage," so long as they didn't impede SWN's access to highways, roadways and its operations.
"Other protests may arise but it is my view that this court ought not speculate as to what may happen and what steps the court should take to prevent certain speculated activity."
Bail hearings postponedThe court building was also crowded with supporters of protesters arrested on Thursday during a confrontation between RCMP and shale gas opponents in Rexton, N.B.
On Thursday, 40 protesters were arrested in Rexton after RCMP moved in on the encampment the protesters had established near Route 134 on Sept. 30.
Six of those arrested were held in jail through the weekend out of concern they would flee the area, or be involved in a revival of the protest.
They were scheduled to have bail hearings before provincial court Judge Denis Lordon on Monday, but those hearings were delayed until Tuesday and Wednesday at the request of defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux, who said he needs more time to go over new evidence that was presented by the Crown.
The six face a total of 37 charges: including mischief, threats, and obstructing a peace officer, in relation to last week's clash between police and protesters.
Original injunction issued Oct. 3The original injunction ordering that SWN Resources be allowed to carry on its exploration was issued on Oct. 3. But no action was taken by RCMP to enforce the court order as negotiations were taking place between representatives of the provincial government, Elsipogtog, and the coalition of native and non-native protesters.
An extension to the injunction was authorized on Oct. 10, with an expiry date of Oct. 21.
The court order included requirements to remove barricades on Route 134 and to allow SWN access to the shale gas exploration vehicles and equipment it had located in a compound off Route 134. SWN Resources was able to remove its vehicles and equipment Thursday.
Amy Sock shows bruises on her arms that she says were inflicted by the RCMP during Thursday's confrontation in Rexton, N.B., during a clash between shale gas exploration protesters and police. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)
Meanwhile, the Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs in New Brunswick is calling for the provincial government to suspend shale gas exploration permits issued to energy companies until a peaceful solution to the dispute can be negotiated.
Assembly co-chair George Ginnish said such a step would be part of the "cooling off period" agreed to last week between Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock and Premier David Alward in the wake of Thursday's violent protest confrontation in Rexton.
"We have been saying that this process has been rushed from Day 1," said Ginnish, chief of Eel Ground First Nation. "There is concern in many areas, not just the First Nations.
"We have a cooling off period and we think part of that cooling off period needs to involve getting back to the table and looking at the concerns we have had from the start."
Up until now, the Assembly of New Brunswick Chiefs has maintained a more neutral position in the shale gas debate.
Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock questions the expense of the RCMP surveillance plane that has been flying over the area for the last several days. (Jen Choi/CBC)
Speaking at a news conference in Elsipogtog on Monday, Sock thanked the assembly for the new-found support and encouraged people to peacefully press for a halt to exploration.
"We are peaceful people and what we want is to protect the water for all of us," said Sock. "I encourage everyone who cares about the land to keep making your voices heard in a safe, loving and yet loud voice, if need be."
SWN Resources Canada has been exploring for potential shale gas development sites under a permit issued by the province. But beginning Sept. 30, a coalition of native and non-native protesters blockaded the company's seismic exploration trucks in a compound used by the company off Route 134. SWN Resources had earlier told a Court of Queen's Bench hearing that the blockade of equipment was costing it $60,000 a day.
Protesters concerned about groundwaterThe protesters are concerned about any potential impact of shale gas extraction on the groundwater supply. Hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of sand, chemicals and water into the earth under high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas held within the shale that is otherwise inaccessible.
Ginnish said it's time for the provincial government to consult with the aboriginal community about shale gas development.
"We've been telling the government of New Brunswick the consultation process hasn't been working for three years," said Ginnish.
"We need time and information to understand how the industry will affect our rights," he said.
"Our people are unconvinced the industry is actually safe."
N.B. RCMP head hopes for cooler headsThe commanding officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick said he hopes cooler heads will prevail as the protests continue.
Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown said the force his members used on Thursday was justified, measured and restrained. He said pepper spray and riot gear only came out after people began crossing the line police had set up and police cars were set on fire.
"The political side is not our role," he said. "Our role is to keep the peace, and I ask the question every single day: What would the general public expect of me? The general public expects me to enforce the law in a way that's fair. Sometimes waiting is appropriate and sometimes action is appropriate."
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 15:08
Michael SnyderActivist PostThe map below comes from the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center. It shows that radiation levels at radiation monitoring stations all over the country are elevated. As you will notice, this is particularly true along the west coast of the United States. Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean. That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain.
Ultimately, all of this nuclear radiation will outlive all of us by a very wide margin. They are saying that it could take up to 40 years to clean up the Fukushima disaster, and meanwhile countless innocent people will develop cancer and other health problems as a result of exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation. We are talking about a nuclear disaster that is absolutely unprecedented, and it is constantly getting worse. The following are 28 signs that the west coast of North America is being absolutely fried with nuclear radiation from Fukushima'...1. Polar bears, seals and walruses along the Alaska coastline are suffering from fur loss and open sores'...
Wildlife experts are studying whether fur loss and open sores detected in nine polar bears in recent weeks is widespread and related to similar incidents among seals and walruses.
The bears were among 33 spotted near Barrow, Alaska, during routine survey work along the Arctic coastline. Tests showed they had ''alopecia, or loss of fur, and other skin lesions,'' the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement.
2. There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the California coastline'...At island rookeries off the Southern California coast, 45 percent of the pups born in June have died, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service based in Seattle. Normally, less than one-third of the pups would die. It's gotten so bad in the past two weeks that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an ''unusual mortality event.''
3. Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low. Many are blaming Fukushima.4. Something is causing fish all along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.
5. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast.
6. It is being projected that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the U.S. west coast could double over the next five to six years.
7. Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.
8. One test in California found that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima.
9. Back in 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137 was being found in a very high percentage of the fish that Japan was selling to Canada'...
' 73 percent of mackerel tested' 91 percent of the halibut' 92 percent of the sardines' 93 percent of the tuna and eel' 94 percent of the cod and anchovies' 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish10. Canadian authorities are finding extremely high levels of nuclear radiation in certain fish samples'...Some fish samples tested to date have had very high levels of radiation: one sea bass sample collected in July, for example, had 1,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium.
11. Some experts believe that we could see very high levels of cancer along the west coast just from people eating contaminated fish'...''Look at what's going on now: They're dumping huge amounts of radioactivity into the ocean '-- no one expected that in 2011,'' Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California-Santa Cruz, told Global Security Newswire. ''We could have large numbers of cancer from ingestion of fish.''
12. BBC News recently reported that radiation levels around Fukushima are ''18 times higher'' than previously believed.13. An EU-funded study concluded that Fukushima released up to 210 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 into the atmosphere.
14. Atmospheric radiation from Fukushima reached the west coast of the United States within a few days back in 2011.
15. At this point, 300 tons of contaminated water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.
16. A senior researcher of marine chemistry at the Japan Meteorological Agency's Meteorological Research Institute says that ''30 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium and 30 billion becquerels of radioactive strontium'' are being released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.
17. According to Tepco, a total of somewhere between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium have gotten into the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima disaster first began.
18. According to a professor at Tokyo University, 3 gigabecquerels of cesium-137 are flowing into the port at Fukushima Daiichi every single day.
19. It has been estimated that up to 100 times as much nuclear radiation has been released into the ocean from Fukushima than was released during the entire Chernobyl disaster.
20. One recent study concluded that a very large plume of cesium-137 from the Fukushima disaster will start flowing into U.S. coastal waters early next year'...
Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016.
21. It is being projected that significant levels of cesium-137 will reach every corner of the Pacific Ocean by the year 2020.22. It is being projected that the entire Pacific Ocean will soon ''have cesium levels 5 to 10 times higher'' than what we witnessed during the era of heavy atomic bomb testing in the Pacific many decades ago.
23. The immense amounts of nuclear radiation getting into the water in the Pacific Ocean has caused environmental activist Joe Martino to issue the following warning'...
Your days of eating Pacific Ocean fish are over.
24. The Iodine-131, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 that are constantly coming from Fukushima are going to affect the health of those living the the northern hemisphere for a very, very long time. Just consider what Harvey Wasserman had to say about this'...Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue. A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40 percent of the children in the Fukushima area. That percentage can only go higher. In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth. Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer.
Strontium-90's half-life is around 29 years. It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.
25. According to a recent Planet Infowars report, the California coastline is being transformed into ''a dead zone'''...The California coastline is becoming like a dead zone.
If you haven't been to a California beach lately, you probably don't know that the rocks are unnaturally CLEAN '' there's hardly any kelp, barnacles, sea urchins, etc. anymore and the tide pools are similarly eerily devoid of crabs, snails and other scurrying signs of life'... and especially as compared to 10 '' 15 years ago when one was wise to wear tennis shoes on a trip to the beach in order to avoid cutting one's feet on all the STUFF of life '' broken shells, bones, glass, driftwood, etc.
There are also days when I am hard-pressed to find even a half dozen seagulls and/or terns on the county beach.
You can still find a few gulls trolling the picnic areas and some of the restaurants (with outdoor seating areas) for food, of course, but, when I think back to 10 '' 15 years ago, the skies and ALL the beaches were literally filled with seagulls and the haunting sound of their cries both day and night'...
NOW it's unnaturally quiet.
26. A study conducted last year came to the conclusion that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster could negatively affect human life along the west coast of North America from Mexico to Alaska ''for decades''.27. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is being projected that the cleanup of Fukushima could take up to 40 years to complete.
28. Yale Professor Charles Perrow is warning that if the cleanup of Fukushima is not handled with 100% precision that humanity could be threatened "for thousands of years"'...
Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.
Are you starting to understand why so many people are so deeply concerned about what is going on at Fukushima?For much more on all of this, please check out the video posted below'...
About the author: Michael T. Snyder is a former Washington D.C. attorney who now publishes The Truth. His new thriller entitled ''The Beginning Of The End'' is now available on Amazon.com.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:32
24 Oct (NucNet): Japan's nuclear regulator says there has been ''no significant increase'' in the concentrations of caesium-134 (Cs-134) and caesium-137 (Cs-137) at designated sampling points compared to the previous week, even after the typhoon that passed ...read more
More than just a website
On October 1st, even as the federal government was shutting down, HealthCare.gov
-- the new Health Insurance Marketplace where people can find and apply
for affordable health insurance plans as part of Obamacare -- opened
for business nationwide.
As you may have heard, the website launch hasnât gone nearly as
smoothly as it should have. And with nearly 20 million visits to the
site in the first several weeks, the problems were aggravated by the
But even in spite of those problems, thousands of Americans are
currently signing up and saving money. Nearly half a million Americans
have already applied for health insurance through the federal and state
Marketplaces. It's not hard to see why: Once people get through the
door, they overwhelmingly like the benefits and cost of the products
available to them -- especially when compared with the discriminatory
private market that was previously the only game in town.
Some of the best and brightest are now doing everything they can to
fix the site as quickly as possible. People are working overtime, 24/7,
and we've brought in some of the best IT experts from across the country
to join the team at the federal agency responsible for running the
Marketplace. And as President Obama said today, "Nobody's madder than me
about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should,
which means it's going to get fixed."
It's also important to remember that the website is not the only way
to enroll. You can dial the call center at 1-800-318-2596 and apply
directly over the phone. Typically, it takes about 25 minutes for an
individual or about 45 for a family. You can also find local
"navigators" who can help you enroll in person at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
Learn more about what we're doing to make the site better and enrollment easier.
The President is the first to admit that the website's problems are
unacceptable. But Obamacare is more than just a website. Most Americans
already have health insurance through their employer, Medicare, or
Medicaid, and they don't need to go to the Marketplace for new coverage.
Instead, the health care law provides new benefits and increased
protection: Young people can stay on their parents' insurance plans
until they are 26, seniors are receiving more affordable prescription
medicine, and preventive care like mammograms are free.
So while there are major improvements to make on the new website,
millions of Americans are already benefiting from the health care law.
And we're making sure that those who don't have access to affordable
health insurance today can sign up -- online, on the phone, and even in
Here are some of the things we've done in the meantime to
make the process easier. Take a look, and pass this message along to
those you know who are trying to sign up for health care:
You can now preview plans and prices available in your area without filling out the online application.
You can find out, with an improved calculator, whether your income and household size may qualify you for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
You can apply for coverage 4 ways: by phone, online, by mail with a paper application, or with the help of an in-person assister.
Thanks, and stay tuned for more updates.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 03:11
Nancy-Ann DeParle may have left the Obama White House last January, but she did not leave healthcare behind.
The former director of the White House Office of Health Reform, since 2011 DeParle had been deputy chief of staff for policy, helping the president develop policy in multiple areas. Still, DeParle is best known as a chief architect of the Affordable Care Act, and a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the Clinton administration.
Earlier this month, DeParle returned to a healthcare focus, albeit in the world of private equity, as a partner with the New York-based firm Consonance Capital Partners. She'll help guide CCP's investment decisions in lower middle market healthcare enterprises.
DeParle spoke with editorial director Richard Pizzi about her healthcare investing strategy as well as broader trends in the healthcare industry.
Q: You recently rejoined the private equity world after a number of years working in the national healthcare policy arena. Why did you re-enter private equity and what are some of your investment goals with Consonance Capital Partners?
A: I was very happily working in private equity, helping to grow really interesting companies, when I got the call from the president to try and get health reform done. But I had a lot of fun (in private equity). One company we grew was in the managed care space, managing 60,000 Medicare Advantage patients and getting great results with them. Another was a hospital company that we built from the ground up, working with physicians and the community.
Working with the president was an incredible experience. Presidents have been trying to do this since Harry Truman, so you'd have to say the odds were long when I went there but I'm proud to say we got health reform done.
Then I stayed at the president's request to get implementation up and running, and then I became the Deputy Chief of Staff of Policy. It was a very rich experience. But I was ready to get back to working with companies again, to working with management teams. I was fortunate enough to be able to rejoin three of my former partners. This seems like an incredible time to invest in good ideas in healthcare, but it's not for the faint of heart.
Q: Are there particularly hot sectors in the industry that you'll focus on?
A: Yes. We're looking at businesses that have figured out how to manage care efficiently and take cost out of the system. You're seeing a confluence of a number of trends. First, millions of consumers without insurance now able to get it. Secondly, a real drive for value in healthcare. Things that make care more cost-effective are appealing, whether it's products that achieve it, or information technology tools that help to manage care. Consumerism is another trend that we see as being very impactful. We're looking at things that help hospitals and clinicians manage their businesses better '' collecting money they're owed in an efficient way, managing the revenue cycle.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:07
from AP18 Oct 2013post a comment(AP) Health care law turns to social media in IllinoisBy CARLA K. JOHNSONAP Medical WriterCHICAGOInside a command center at a Chicago marketing agency, a small team of social media experts hunkers down to monitor online chatter about President Barack Obama's health care law, answer questions on Facebook from discouraged consumers and post information and advice on Twitter.They are holding down the fort for a $33 million ad campaign planned for Get Covered Illinois, the new health insurance marketplace that's a cornerstone of the law, also known as "Obamacare," in what is arguably the biggest social media campaign rolled out by the state of Illinois.
As the state-contracted agency pivots away from a full-force marketing barrage because of early technical problems with the law's federal website, the social media team has assumed responsibility for educating consumers and tending to their frustrations in Obama's home state.
"Application has been pending for days. (hash)gettingimpatient," read one incoming tweet last week, a few days before The Associated Press was given an exclusive peek inside the command center at FleishmanHillard.
"We're making sure we're listening and we're supportive and we're there for them when they're having difficulties," said Meg Poulelis, 28, who leads the team and worked previously on social media accounts for Gatorade and Chevrolet.
Compared to other states, Illinois is in an unusual spot, with millions to spend on promotion but no control over fixing the federal site's technical glitches. Most of the other 35 states relying on Washington to run their marketplaces are led by Republicans who've been hostile to the law and have done nothing to promote it. States promoting the law generally are running their own marketplaces.
Months before the rollout of the law's marketplaces, one for every state, Illinois officials envisioned a social media marketing push aimed at uninsured healthy young adults, a key demographic for the law's success.
The campaign would use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to convince young people to buy health insurance. It would be part of an ad blitz with TV, radio, billboards and other paid advertising.
Now, nearly three weeks after the launch, the social media campaign is underway, but it's muted. Paid advertising is on hold. With technology problems plaguing the federal website, state officials decided there's no reason to boost traffic now.
While most Republican-led states are taking a hands-off approach, Illinois sought federal grants that could be used for advertising. The $33 million campaign is funded entirely by those grants.
Get Covered Illinois' social media launch _ compared to some other Democrat-led states _ got a late start. Kentucky's campaign started tweeting May 15, Minnesota's on May 10 and Washington state on April 16.
Illinois went live with Twitter and Facebook on Oct. 1, the same day the federal healthcare.gov site launched _ and then failed under a crush of users. Illinois relies on the federal government to run its insurance-shopping site because state lawmakers didn't approve a state-run system.
Consumers understandably are seeking answers from Get Covered Illinois, said social media strategist Dave Kerpen of New York-based Likeable Media, who isn't involved with the Illinois effort.
"Given people's frustration with the federal website, Get Covered Illinois has to be able to respond promptly and with great care to their customers," Kerpen said.
They may have missed an opportunity with Chicago attorney Andrew DePaul, 58, who followed Get Covered Illinois on Twitter seeking information. He hopes to lower his family's insurance costs, but the problems with the federal site have kept him from even seeing his options.
On Oct. 11, he was the one who tweeted to Get Covered Illinois about his frustration and included the hashtag: "(hash)gettingimpatient."
The social media team tweeted back to him more than three hours later: "Thanks for reaching out. To clarify, are you on the http://healthcare.gov site?"
DePaul replied "Yes" and then heard nothing else. That doesn't bother him.
"I don't expect the marketing campaign to troubleshoot the problems. I want their freaking website to work," he said. "I've been a huge cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act and it's been a great disappointment."
On Facebook, the team is finessing questions about the federal site. A reply from Oct. 7: "We're in contact with our fed partners who run healthcare.gov & they are working as quickly as possible to correct these issues. We will update you as soon as they update us, but let us know if you have questions we can help you with in the meantime!"
Kerpen said the team should make its answers more personable when possible.
"It's the difference between `Thank you for your response. We'll get back to you' and `Thanks, I understand it's so frustrating,'" Kerpen said. "When used correctly you have the opportunity (with social media) to humanize an organization."
The social media team is just getting started, said Darrell Jursa, a FleishmanHillard senior vice president in charge of emerging media. Plans include an email newsletter, pitches to influential young bloggers and paid digital advertising.
For now, Twitter followers and Facebook "likes" are small but growing. Most important, Jursa said, more than 121,000 people have gone through the screening tool at GetCoveredIllinois.gov to see whether they qualify for Medicaid or tax credits.
"The whole point is getting people to the website," he said. "That counts in our minds as a conversion. That's something that's very healthy as far as the campaign is concerned."
AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:11
As the White House was gearing up to sell ObamaCare to the American people last summer, Valerie Jarrett, the president's pointwoman on a host of issues, phoned Oprah Winfrey.
She invited the Queen of All Media to join celebrities, including Amy Poehler, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys, to meet with President Obama and discuss how they could generate publicity for his health-care law.
Barack and Michelle Obama with Oprah Winfrey in 2011.Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
''All of Oprah's top people thought she would go, because when the president invites you to the White House, most people automatically say yes,'' said one of Oprah's closest advisers. ''But Oprah said she didn't have the time or inclination to go. It wasn't like she had to think it over. It was an immediate, flat-out, unequivocal no.''
Instead, Oprah sent a low-level rep from one of her talent agencies, which was regarded as a insult. Obama had been counting on Oprah's immense persuasive powers to help enroll millions in ObamaCare. But as the rollout turned into a disaster, Oprah didn't lift a finger to help.
The story of why Oprah has changed her tune and gone AWOL on ObamaCare goes well beyond mere gossip. It speaks volumes about the convergence of celebrity and politics under Obama and about a president who thinks nothing of using and then discarding his most loyal supporters.
Everyone remembers that Oprah went all out for Obama during the 2008 presidential election. What was not reported was that, in return, Oprah was promised unique access to the White House if Obama won. She'd get regular briefings on initiatives and a heads-up on programs to give her material for her fledgling cable network, OWN.
''Oprah intended to make her unique White House access a part of her new network,'' a source close to Oprah told me. ''There were big plans, and a team was put together to come up with proposals that would have been mutually beneficial.
''But none of that ever happened. Oprah sent notes and a rep to talk to Valerie Jarrett, but nothing came of it. It slowly dawned on Oprah that the Obamas had absolutely no intention of keeping their word and bringing her into their confidence.''
Oprah did not campaign for Obama in the 2012 race, and she has been absent from his battles on gun control, immigration reform and the environment. She claims she is too busy to get involved in politics, even though she hosted a fund-raiser for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who won a US Senate seat last week.
Oprah's friends publicly dismiss the idea that she had a falling out with Obama. They note that she phoned Michelle Obama right after the 2012 election to congratulate her. They say Michelle invited her to have dinner with the first family. But the dinner never took place, and Oprah continues to be frozen out.
''Oprah was hoping there would be a genuine change in the atmospherics,'' one of her friends told me. ''But there hasn't been. Clearly, she is being rebuffed at the level of Michelle and Valerie. And, just as obviously, President Obama hasn't interfered on Oprah's behalf.''
During Obama's first term, I argued in my book ''The Amateur'' that Michelle was jealous of Oprah, furious that he was seeking her advice.
''For her part, Oprah doesn't like being with Michelle, because the first lady is constantly one-upping the president and anybody else around her,'' said an Oprah adviser.
''Oprah has struck back by banning the Obamas from her O, The Oprah Magazine . . . It probably hurts Oprah more than Obama, who, if he had his head screwed on straight, would have flown to California and begged Oprah to help him save ObamaCare.
''But Obama hasn't budged, and neither has Oprah. She's hurt and angry, and I seriously doubt that Oprah will ever make up with the Obamas. She knows how to hold a grudge.''
Edward Klein is the author of the New York Times No. 1 best seller ''The Amateur,'' available in paperback.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 10:01
The Obama administration has tapped longtime economic adviser Jeff Zients to lead the ''tech surge'' to fix HealthCare.gov, the White House said Tuesday.
Zients, a former acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, has been tasked with overseeing the repair of the online enrollment system for exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
But it's just a ''short-term assignment'' for Zients, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, since he's set to become director of the National Economic Council in January.
Before joining the administration in 2009, Zients had a long career atop corporations including the Corporate Executive Board and has a reputation for being someone who can manage complex projects.
Read more about: Jeff Zients
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:09
Producing serious news is an expensive enterprise with a beleaguered business model, one that remains tied to the tracks as a locomotive of splintered audiences and declining advertising hurtles toward it.
But just when it looked as if all were lost, an unlikely cavalry has come roaring over the hill with serious money, fresh ideas and no small amount of enthusiasm. Silicon Valley and its various power brokers '-- some who had roles in putting the news business in harm's way to begin with '-- are suddenly investing significant sums of money in preserving news capacity and quality.
Pierre M. Omidyar, the founder of eBay, revealed last week that he would back the journalist Glenn Greenwald and his colleagues in a newly conceived news site to the tune of $250 million. Just over two months ago, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, spent the same amount to personally buy The Washington Post. That's half a billion dollars dropped into serious news production, a sector that investors in distressed assets have been fleeing.
It doesn't stop there. In July, Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, invested in Ozy Media, a news start-up, joining a group that includes the angel investor Ron Conway; Larry Sonsini, a lawyer from an eminent Silicon Valley law firm; Dan Rosensweig of Chegg.com; and David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer.
Pierre M. Omidyar, the founder of eBay, revealed last week that he would back a newly conceived news site.
Tim Shaffer / Reuters
Chris Hughes used his Facebook money to buy The New Republic and provide financial support to Upworthy, an aggregator of quality material. Next-generation news companies including Vice, Vox Media, BuzzFeed and Business Insider have all recently received significant investment. (In addition, Jeff Skoll, another eBay alum, backed Participant Media and now the TV channel Pivot, to make ''socially relevant'' films and television.)
The list goes on, but the trend is clear: quality news has become, if not sexy, suddenly attractive to smart digital money. It makes sense once you step back. For all its excesses, Silicon Valley has not been a place where ostentation creates social capital. While any tech reporter will tell you that the valley is far from media-friendly, the people in leadership there are close, ferocious consumers of news and have strong opinions about its current shortcomings. And it would be a mistake to view the recent moves by some of the most important people in technology as a lark.
''Technologists have a view, perhaps inflated, that they can make the world better,'' Mr. Omidyar said in an interview over the weekend. ''There may be limits to doing it only through technology, or perhaps you get tired of doing it only through technology. So getting into content and broad communication is appealing.''
It would also be a mistake to believe that the only thing digitally enriched players bring is money. The investment of intellectual capital will be just as important. If ever an industry was in need of innovation '-- of big ideas from uncommon thinkers '-- it is the news business.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought The Washington Post.
Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times
''I think that technology could help find a way to actually do important journalism for our democracy that can impact many more people and help serve it to a general-interest audience in a way that can be commercially sustainable,'' Mr. Omidyar said. (A separate article has more excerpts from the interview with Mr. Omidyar.)
Smaller companies have created news sites that point a way forward but cannot begin to fill the loss of journalistic capacity that accompanied the great shakeout in the industry. For a time, it seemed as if newspapers, where much of journalism's horsepower is stored, would either be strip-mined or become a plaything.
''People have been speculating that newspapers would become nothing more than trophies for rich businesspeople at the end of their careers,'' said Michael Zimbalist, vice president for research and development at The New York Times. ''But now successful midcareer entrepreneurs are investing and willing to play the long game. They have been disrupters themselves and won't be bringing the same assumptions to the table.''
A profound reset is under way. In more than a decade of covering the news end of the media business, I cannot think of a time of greater optimism or potential. Nontraditional operators like Mr. Bezos can afford to adopt a long-term strategy, something he has done rather effectively at Amazon. And the barriers to entry for ventures like Mr. Omidyar's start-up have evaporated: cheap digital tools enable production and collaboration, while social media like Twitter and Facebook enable the spread of content through sharing.
Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, invested in Ozy Media, a news start-up.
Gus Ruelas / Reuters
Technology and journalism, former antagonists, are about to give bromance a try, with Mr. Bezos and Mr. Omidyar leading the way.
Both men have upended and reinvented entire legacy categories. EBay created a community out of private buyers and sellers, while Amazon found gold among stacks of books with a seemingly infinite catalog, one-click buying and later, all manner of consumer goods. (Amazon also knows a little about last-mile delivery, so plopping a newspaper on the doorstep never had it so good.)
Kenneth Lerer, who is a partner at Lerer Ventures and has backed online sites like BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, says Mr. Omidyar's enterprise, which does not even have a name yet, has a leg up.
''The freedom to start a digital concern without legacy baggage is an enormous opportunity, much easier than trying to pivot a traditional news organization,'' he said, adding that in both instances digital innovation would be in the front seat. ''You cannot launch a successful modern media company without technology as an equal partner.''
It does not take an M.B.A. to understand that the ability to capture consumers' attention and move them around a platform, all the while extracting value, might come in handy in the media business. ITunes used cheap, uniformly priced content to animate the sales of devices like the iPod; Amazon used cheap devices like the Kindle to push lucrative content sales. EBay reduced the friction and suspicion between buyers and sellers of all kinds of goods.
Reverse-engineering those skills into the production of news could have a big impact, as publishing companies turn toward consumers for revenue, pivoting from passive delivery of news to a deeper relationship with customers.
The willingness to answer bedeviling old questions in new ways does not ensure success, but it creates remarkable possibilities. ''Both Jeff Bezos and Pierre Omidyar have a hacker's ethos, a willingness to engage in lateral thinking to solve problems in a nonconventional way, to reject what has been taken for granted and MacGyver their way to solutions,'' suggested Shane Snow, a founder of Contently, a marketplace for content creators.
Consider Amazon's ability to lead consumers through a highly personalized array of choices.
''If you have a story that is read by a million people, that's great, but how do you get those million people to read another story?'' said Henry Blodget of Business Insider. ''Amazon is extraordinary at customizing its site for every visitor. They do endless testing and understand stickiness and relevance in a way few media companies do.''
One of the secrets of Amazon (and Netflix) is that it never offered one site, but millions of customized sites. It is not hard to envision a carefully measured invitation at the bottom of a highly trafficked news article: ''People who read this story are also reading ...''
This unfolding partnership will be fun to behold. For all their differences, the news and technology businesses share a kind of utopianism, an idealistic belief that the work of human hands can make life better for other humans.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @carr2n
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:14
Benedict Cumberbatch knows he has a rabid base of Tumblr-obsessed fans. When asked whether he was worried that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might attack his new drama The Fifth Estate, in which he plays the infamous hacker, Cumberbatch kept his cool: ''The Cumberitches have got my back,'' he told EW.
But, as it turns out, the Cumberbitches didn't have his back this weekend '-- at least not at the box office. The Fifth Estate bombed in its opening weekend with a truly awful $1.7 million from 1,769 theaters, making it the worst debut for a film opening in at least 1,500 theaters this year. (Sorry, Paranoia!) The film, which cost DreamWorks a reported $26 million to produce, earned tepid reviews from critics and could only manage an anemic $969 location average.
Just how bad is that? Well, let's put this in perspective. Notorious stinker Movie 43 grossed $4.8 million in its opening weekend in January, almost three times as much as The Fifth Estate. Getaway, the ludicrously awful Ethan Hawke/Selena Gomez thriller drove away with $4.5 million in August. Heck, this weekend's Arnold Schwarznegger/Sylvester Stallone action flick Escape Plan bombed with $9.8 million '-- and that's still almost six times more money than The Fifth Estate made!
Luckily, there is a silver lining for Cumberbatch. His other vehicle, 12 Years a Slave, proved powerful in limited release this weekend, drawing $960,000 from just 19 theaters, which yielded a terrific $50,526 per theater average '-- not to mention boatloads of early Oscar buzz.
For the full weekend box office report: 'Gravity' scores third weekend win with $31 million.
Check out a trailer for The Fifth Estate below.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:45
Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and blogger who brought The Guardian the biggest scoop of the decade, is departing the London-based news organization, for a brand-new, large-scale, broadly focused media outlet, he told BuzzFeed Tuesday.
Greenwald, 46, published revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of American and British domestic spying and about officials' deception about its scope. He said he is departing for a new, ''once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity'' with major financial backing, the details of which will be public soon.
''My partnership with The Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved,'' Greenwald said in an emailed statement. ''The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.''
Greenwald said that because the news had leaked ''before we were prepared to announce it, I'm not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture.'' It will, he said, ''be unveiled very shortly.''
A Guardian spokeswoman, Jennifer Lindenauer, also stressed that the writer and his news organization are parting on good terms '-- though she said The Guardian is ''disappointed'' to lose him.
''Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him,'' Lindenauer said in an email. ''Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. 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 Guardian, with a tradition of rigorous, crusading, liberal reporting and experience with two extremely sensitive international investigative stories '-- WikiLeaks and the News Corp. phone-tapping scandals '-- was in some ways a perfect home for Greenwald's reporting, which in turn offered a huge boost to The Guardian's American and global prestige.
But Greenwald never functioned as a typical employee of a news organization. He told BuzzFeed in August that he had not shared all of Snowden's files with The Guardian, and that ''only [filmmaker] Laura [Poitras] and I have access to the full set of documents which Snowden provided to journalists.'' The Guardian, facing intense pressure from the British government, has continued to publish Snowden's revelations at a deliberate pace in recent weeks; but Greenwald has moved more quickly on his own, publishing stories in Brazil and India. He said recently that he will also publish stories soon in Le Monde.
Greenwald declined to comment on the precise scale of the new venture or on its budget, but he said it would be ''a very well-funded '... very substantial new media outlet.'' He said the source of funding will be public when the venture is officially announced.
Politico reported later Tuesday that a ''philanthropist'' would fund the venture. A spokesman for George Soros, perhaps the most famous philanthropist of the American left, ruled Soros out as the backer. ''They have had no contact,'' Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said of Greenwald.
''My role, aside from reporting and writing for it, is to create the entire journalism unit from the ground up by recruiting the journalists and editors who share the same journalistic ethos and shaping the whole thing '-- but especially the political journalism part '-- in the image of the journalism I respect most,'' he said.
Greenwald will continue to live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he said, and would bring some staff to Rio, but the new organization's main hubs will be New York City; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco, he said.
The venture, which he said had ''hired a fair number of people already,'' will be ''a general media outlet and news site '-- it's going to have sports and entertainment and features. I'm working on the whole thing but the political journalism unit is my focus.''
Greenwald said he looked forward to creating a new organization with ''no preexisting institutional strictures on what you can do.''
And he said his move is driven solely by the opportunity presented.
''When people hear what it is, there is almost no journalist who would say no to it,'' he said.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:55
Before Aaron Swartz's suicide in January, he had nearly completed work with Wired's Kevin Poulsen on a secure system to accept messages and documents from anonymous sources over the Internet. The result of that effort was DeadDrop, an open- source python platform. The system assigns each source a unique code name so a relationship can be established without news organizations ever knowing the source's identity.
Poulsen managed the program for the first six months since going public six months ago. On Tuesday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation announced it will be taking over the project, renaming it SecureDrop and providing on-site installation for news organizations along with ongoing technical support.
The New Yorker was the first news organization to implement a version of the program, launching their StrongBox system in May. Since then, the application has gone through an extensive security audit led by a team at the University of Washington, which also included input from noted information security experts Bruce Schneier and Jacob Appelbaum.
The Freedom of the Press Association has hired computer specialist James Dolan to help with technical support and installations. Dolan worked with the New Yorker on their installation of StrongBox and reviewed the security architecture before its initial launch.
''A truly free press hinges on the ability of investigative journalists to build trust with their sources," argued Trevor Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation said in a statement Tuesday. Timm also said that the anonymity made possible by the project is all the more important in light of recent NSA revelations and prosecutions against whistleblowers, which he believes "have shown the grave challenges to this relationship and the lengths governments will go to undermine it."
Up nextThe NSA's giant Utah data center will probably hold a bunch of spam
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:59
What is SecureDrop?SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan. The project was previously called DeadDrop. Freedom of the press Foundation took over management of the project in October 2013.
How can media organizations install SecureDrop?Any organization can install SecureDrop for free and can make modifications because the project is open-source. We have written detailed installation instructions, which can be read here.
Because the installation and operation is still complex, Freedom of the press Foundation will also help organizations install SecureDrop and train its journalists in security best practices to ensure the best protection for sources. Please go here to apply for assistance and set up an appointment.
How does SecureDrop work?The code underlying SecureDrop is a python application that accepts messages and documents from the web and GPG-encrypts them for secure storage. Essentially, it's a more secure alternative to the "contact us" form found on a typical news site.
In operation, every source is given a unique "codename." The codename lets the source establish a relationship with the news organization without revealing her real identity or resorting to e-mail. She can enter the code name on a future visit to read any messages sent back from the journalist '-- "Thanks for the Roswell photos! Can you explain what the dark smudge on the left side is?" '-- or submit additional documents or messages under the same persistent, but pseudonymous, identifier. The source is known by a different code name on the journalist's side. All of that source's submissions are grouped together into a "collection."
Every time there's a new submission by that source, her collection is bumped to the top of the submission queue. SecureDrop was designed to use three physical servers: a public-facing server, a second server for storage of messages and documents, and a third that does security monitoring of the first two.
(A version of this description was originally written by Kevin Poulsen.)
Does SecureDrop promise 100% security?No, and any organization or product that promises 100% security is not telling the truth. SecureDrop attempts to create significantly more secure environment for sources to get information than exists through normal digital channels, but there are always risks.
A major security audit of SecureDrop (then called DeadDrop) was conducted by security expert Bruce Schneier and a team of University of Washington researchers led by Alexei Czeckis, was conducted in mid-2013, which you can read here. We have discussed in detail how we re-vamped SecureDrop in response to this audit, and some of the risks that still remain here.
Who created SecureDrop?The web application, which was originally called DeadDrop, was coded and architected by Aaron Swartz in 2012 before his tragic death. The hardening guide andother security material is the work of James Dolan. Investigative journalist Kevin Poulsen originally organized the project. The New Yorker launched the first implementation and branded their version StrongBox in May 2013.
In October 2013, Freedom of the Press Foundation took over managing the open-source project and re-named it SecureDrop. FPF also hired James Dolan to help media organizations with installations and security. Kevin Poulsen continues to be a journalistic consultant on the project.
Is SecureDrop open source?Yes. In fact, SecureDrop is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms ofthe GNU Affero General public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This project, and all material accompanying it, is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. For more details, see the GNU Affero General public License. In other words, please make it better and spread it far and wide.
How can I contribute to SecureDrop?There are many ways you can contribute to SecureDrop. First, we need donations to keep the project alive. You can go here to help us pay for development, upkeep, and security so we can travel to journalism organizations and help them install it. You can also contribute to the development of SecureDrop by visiting our Github page. If you are a developer, you can also go here to sign up for our email discussion list where contributing developers can discuss and recommend security and usability features.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:26
A White House national security official was fired last week after being caught as the mystery Tweeter who has been tormenting the foreign policy community with insulting comments and revealing internal Obama administration information for over two years.
Jofi Joseph, a director in the non-proliferation section of the National Security Staff at the White House, has been surreptitiously tweeting under the moniker @natsecwonk, a Twitter feed famous inside Washington policy circles since it began in February, 2011 until it was shut down last week. Two administration officials confirmed that the mystery tweeter was Joseph, who has also worked at the State Department and on Capitol Hill for Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joe Biden. Until recently, he was part of the administration's team working on negotiations with Iran.
During his time tweeting under the @natsecwonk name, Joseph openly criticized the policies of his White House bosses and often insulted their intellect and appearance. At different times, he insulted or criticized several top White House and State Department officials, including former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Secretary of State John Kerry, and many many others.
The Daily Beast saved a long record of @natsecwonk's tweets prior to the shutting down of his Twitter feed.
''I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me,'' he once tweeted.
''Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony Wiener? Almost as bad a pairing as Samantha Powers and Cass Sunstein ....,'' he tweeted on another occasion, insulting a top Clinton aide, a then Congressman, and two White House senior officials in one tweet.
The Daily Beast Senior Correspondent Josh Rogin joins 'Good Morning America' and 'Today' to discuss @natsecwonk.
Joseph's snark was not confined to his Obama administration colleagues. He also took aim at senior Republican figures and lowly GOP Hill staffers.
''So when will someone do us the favor of getting rid of Sarah Palin and the rest of her white trash family? What utter useless garbage .... ,'' he tweeted last October.
During the 2012 Presidential campaign, he lashed out at conservative journalists and members of the presidential campaign staff of Mitt Romney
''@MiekeEoyang Come on, I expected better of you. @jrubinblogger is CRAZY unhinged while @noonanjo is an overweight paid Romney shill,'' he tweeted, referring to the Washington Post's conservative blogger Jen Rubin and Romney campaign national security staffer John Noonan.
For many in the foreign policy community reacting Tuesday night, the revelation that Joseph was the mystery tweeter @natsecwonk was a shock because Joseph was well known among policy wonks and his wife, Carolyn Leddy, is a well-respected professional staffer on the Republican side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But inside the administration, there was little sympathy for the man who they feel had betrayed their confidence while taunting them all the while.
''My friends call me Batman,'' he once tweeted.
A White House spokesman confirmed that Joseph no longer works there but declined further comment.
Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.
Josh Rogin is senior correspondent for national security and politics for The Daily Beast. He previously worked at Newsweek, Foreign Policy magazine, Congressional Quarterly, Federal Computer Week magazine, and Japan's leading daily newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at email@example.com.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 16:38
@JNSmall 15h US cuts off aid to Egypt, announcing it in themiddle of the Egyptian Embassy's gala for the 40th anniversary of the military.Ouch.Retweeted by NatSecWonk Expand
@NatSecWonk 16h Anyhoo, Philippe may want to do some of hisbrass tacks leak control at Beacon, because your fellow partners are singing like thecanaries! Expand
@NatSecWonk 16h Not sure how old Ben can tear himself away fromthe self appointed role as guardian of the President's foreign policy vision andrhetoric. Expand
@NatSecWonk 16h Word on the street? @rhodes44 getting ready tocash out and join Beacon Global Strategies, aka Douches Incorporated.Expand
@NatSecWonk 7 Oct She's not getting joke here RT @EmilyMiller:Justice Scalia says he gets only two newspapers delivered -- WSJ and @WashTimes.I'm so proud!Expand
@NatSecWonk 7 Oct When people post a new photo on their LinkedInaccounts, I doubt they want a bunch of comments on it. Because, you know, it's not Facebook.Expand
@robertdanin 7 Oct Seems like a trend. MT @Joyce_Karam USofficials walk back #Kerry's morning comments on #Syria: no need to pat #Assadregime on back.Retweeted by NatSecWonk View conversation
@NatSecWonk 7 Oct But whoever it is, he/she makes a good point.The more one looks under hood, the more you realize that HRC had few policy goalsand no wins.Expand
@NatSecWonk 7 Oct Anonymous State official who slammed HRC forabsence from Middle East? It's either Frank Lowenstein or David Wade.Expand
@NatSecWonk 6 Oct I suspect when people don't like@JeffreyGoldberg, he assumes it's because he's Jewish. It's more likely because he'skind of an ass. Expand
@NatSecWonk 6 Oct Admit it, when you heard Helen Thomas went out on a date with JFK back in the day, you asked yourself, "Wait, she was attractiveonce?" Expand
@NatSecWonk 6 Oct Wait a minute, @robertcostanro is only in hismid-20s? My mind is blown.Expand
@NatSecWonk 6 Oct Remember folks, Lanny Davis would happillyrepresent Bashar Assad if the retainer fee was big enough. One of grossest slimeballs in DC. Expand
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:33
The man who first discovered the Banksy sculpture in Queens this morning noticed it getting dropped off around 7 a.m. "by two hipsters." Once the crowds started showing up around noon and everyone was talking about this Banksy guy... he declared it to be his. But the statue was placed on public property, so unlike pieces that have gone up on building walls that are owned by someone'--where they can technically claim ownership'--this one belongs to The People.
Nic Garcia has been on the scene all afternoon and tells us that the man is in it for the long haul, and has set up a chair and umbrella near the statue, which he has investigated (it appears to be filled with foam, not cement). Until he finds a way to get it out of there, he's been selling off bricks and stone from it for around $100 a pop (he's had at least one buyer). The stones and bricks he's selling are just loose ones that Banksy (or his team) tossed on top of the solid statue (which was made in a studio) after it was placed on site.
The man doesn't really speak English, but there is a woman'--Jennifer Hunt'--who says she's helping him sell it. Garcia tells us, "She said something about wanting to help them... but if she orchestrates the sale and gets paid, I doubt the guys will see a cut. At least not a good one... she said she's gonna give them 'part' of the commission." As of 3 p.m. she was on the phone with Sotheby's and is "convinced they'll buy and she'll get commission." Here she is:
Another man briefly showed up with a hammer and chisel but was chased out of the lot. This is getting ugly.
Our own Jake Dobkin commented on this mess, saying, "Once the revolution comes, all Banksy pieces will belong to the people. Only then will we be released from the chains of capitalist property law, which allows rapacious landowners to remove or destroy the work. Banksy almost certainly considers every new piece he puts up a blow against the patriarchal hegemony that oppresses us, and looks forward to the day that one final stencil brings the whole system down." He concluded with some advice to the artist: "It never hurts to buy a ladder so you can put the stencil a little higher up the wall so it lasts longer'--that's a good investment for a graffiti artist."
But maybe the NYPD will just confiscate it'--they just showed up on the scene at 3:20 p.m.:
Photo by Nic Garcia/Gothamist
We'll update as this scenario spirals out of control!
UPDATE, 3:40: The NYPD officers never got out of the van. A fight almost started, but then dissipated. It got heated between "one of the guys claiming it, [he] was ready to throw down serious, so the other guy wised up and backed off." The guy on the left in the Ed Hardy tee was saying he's "trying to get rich like everyone," but the guy in red (not to be confused with the original "owner" in red) got in his face. They both work in the shops in that area.
Photo by Nic Garcia/Gothamist
UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: The "original" owner has had the sculpture moved. We called the moving truck company but were only told they do not speak English.:
People are picking up the remaining loose rocks and bricks:
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:35
Two jumbo jets came frighteningly close to each other over Scotland this summer after misunderstanding air traffic control commands, according to a recent report.The incident was explained in the latest release from the UK Airprox Board, which studies near-miss situations.
On June 23, a Lufthansa 747-830 flying to Washington, D.C. and a British Airways 747-436 en route to Vancouver were flying on converging routes when air traffic control had them climb to the same altitude.
When the planes were 9.8 nautical miles apart, a Short Term Conflict Alert (STCA) was triggered, and a controller ordered one plane to turn to the left and the other to the right.
If they had followed those instructions, according to the report, there would have been no problem. But each crew followed instructions meant for the other. Instead of diverging, they flew closer together.
With 100 feet of vertical separation (effectively nothing on planes that are 60 feet tall), they ended up just 2.8 nautical miles (3.2 miles) apart. The minimum safe separation is 5 nm.
It's not clear what caused the confusion, according to the report:
"The Board was surprised that all four pilots [two in each plane] had misheard or misinterpreted the avoiding action instructions despite at least one of the crews reading them back correctly. One airline pilot Member wondered if there could have been callsign confusion; this was discounted because they were not similar."
The Board concluded that the role of air traffic control '-- putting the planes at the same altitude '-- was "contributory," because "his subsequent recovery actions" would "have resolved the confliction."
The pilots, however, "by flying each other's avoiding action ATC instructions," caused the near miss. Nonetheless, there "was no risk of a collision."
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:41
The government shutdown enters its 14th day Monday, three days after the Senate commerce committee released a report detailing the shutdown's negative impact on FAA and other critical federal agencies.
According to a report released by the committee on Friday, the shutdown has halted the implementation of the nation's largest infrastructure modernization project, NextGen. The multi-billion dollar program, which has already faced several delays, has been stopped altogether while more than 14,000 FAA employees remain furloughed because of the shutdown.
"FAA has halted the development, operational testing and evaluation of technologies and safety standards for NextGen--the agency's program to modernize the air traffic control system," the report says. "Progress on NextGen slowed during initial implementation due to sequestration in 2013, and the initiative has been put on hold altogether due to the shutdown."
The shutdown comes at a crucial time for FAA's NextGen project, as the agency continues the shift from a radar-based air traffic system to a satellite-based system. By 2014, more than 700 ADS-B ground radio stations are scheduled to be implemented, providing the full ground infrastructure to deploy automatic surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) communications between air traffic controllers and pilots throughout the National Airspace System (NAS).
However achievements such as this are threatened by the shutdown, because no one from the agency is performing any of the development and evaluation of the technologies and safety standards needed to deploy NextGen.
Last week, the House passed a bill that would temporarily re-open the full operations of FAA, though the Senate has yet to vote on that bill as senators await a fiscal year 2014 budget that funds all federal agencies, including FAA.
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) President Marion Blakey spoke about the shutdown's impact on NextGen during testimony before the Senate commerce committee Friday.
"Congress has recently encouraged the FAA to put a higher priority on near-term benefits and NextGen implementation. However, just as the FAA is making that change, with its brand-new NextGen leadership team, the wheels grind to a halt. We simply cannot make the progress Congress envisioned in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act unless the FAA is provided stable and reliable funding," said Blakey.
Related:House Funding Bill Stalls in Senate
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:39
UK Airprox BoardWhat's New About Us Contact Us Reporting an Airprox The Airprox Process Causal Factors & Risk Ratings Publications Lessons Identified Safety Recommendations Statistics Abbreviations FAQs VFR Guides What is the difference between a 'near miss' and an Airprox?The term 'near miss' is in common usage but has no relevance to Airprox. If a pilot or controller is of the opinion that the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed was such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised then he or she may report an Airprox. In Airprox 016/2002 for example, the separation recorded on radar between the two aircraft was 400ft vertically and 3 miles horizontally: this is hardly a 'near miss' in the way people generally use these words. In the judgement of the air traffic controllers who reported the event it was an Airprox and was therefore fully investigated and assessed by the Airprox Board. Frequently Asked Questions FAQsHow close do aircraft have to come for the pilot or air traffic controller to file an Airprox report?What is the difference between a 'near miss' and an Airprox?What is the difference between controlled and uncontrolled airspace?Why is it that only air traffic controllers and pilots can report an Airprox?
Sun, 20 Oct 2013 13:30
Ai Aoyama is a sex and relationship counsellor who works out of her narrow three-storey home on a Tokyo back street. Her first name means "love" in Japanese, and is a keepsake from her earlier days as a professional dominatrix. Back then, about 15 years ago, she was Queen Ai, or Queen Love, and she did "all the usual things" like tying people up and dripping hot wax on their nipples. Her work today, she says, is far more challenging. Aoyama, 52, is trying to cure what Japan's media calls sekkusu shinai shokogun, or "celibacy syndrome".
Japan's under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren't even dating, and increasing numbers can't be bothered with sex. For their government, "celibacy syndrome" is part of a looming national catastrophe. Japan already has one of the world's lowest birth rates. Its population of 126 million, which has been shrinking for the past decade, is projected to plunge a further one-third by 2060. Aoyama believes the country is experiencing "a flight from human intimacy" '' and it's partly the government's fault.
The sign outside her building says "Clinic". She greets me in yoga pants and fluffy animal slippers, cradling a Pekingese dog whom she introduces as Marilyn Monroe. In her business pamphlet, she offers up the gloriously random confidence that she visited North Korea in the 1990s and squeezed the testicles of a top army general. It doesn't say whether she was invited there specifically for that purpose, but the message to her clients is clear: she doesn't judge.
Inside, she takes me upstairs to her "relaxation room" '' a bedroom with no furniture except a double futon. "It will be quiet in here," she says. Aoyama's first task with most of her clients is encouraging them "to stop apologising for their own physical existence".
The number of single people has reached a record high. A survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10% from five years earlier. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all. (There are no figures for same-sex relationships.) Although there has long been a pragmatic separation of love and sex in Japan '' a country mostly free of religious morals '' sex fares no better. A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact". More than a quarter of men felt the same way.
Learning to love: sex counsellor Ai Aoyama, with one of her clients and her dog Marilyn. Photograph: Eric Rechsteiner/Panos PictureMany people who seek her out, says Aoyama, are deeply confused. "Some want a partner, some prefer being single, but few relate to normal love and marriage." However, the pressure to conform to Japan's anachronistic family model of salaryman husband and stay-at-home wife remains. "People don't know where to turn. They're coming to me because they think that, by wanting something different, there's something wrong with them."
Official alarmism doesn't help. Fewer babies were born here in 2012 than any year on record. (This was also the year, as the number of elderly people shoots up, that adult incontinence pants outsold baby nappies in Japan for the first time.) Kunio Kitamura, head of the JFPA, claims the demographic crisis is so serious that Japan "might eventually perish into extinction".
Japan's under-40s won't go forth and multiply out of duty, as postwar generations did. The country is undergoing major social transition after 20 years of economic stagnation. It is also battling against the effects on its already nuclear-destruction-scarred psyche of 2011's earthquake, tsunami and radioactive meltdown. There is no going back. "Both men and women say to me they don't see the point of love. They don't believe it can lead anywhere," says Aoyama. "Relationships have become too hard."
Marriage has become a minefield of unattractive choices. Japanese men have become less career-driven, and less solvent, as lifetime job security has waned. Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious. Yet conservative attitudes in the home and workplace persist. Japan's punishing corporate world makes it almost impossible for women to combine a career and family, while children are unaffordable unless both parents work. Cohabiting or unmarried parenthood is still unusual, dogged by bureaucratic disapproval.
Aoyama says the sexes, especially in Japan's giant cities, are "spiralling away from each other". Lacking long-term shared goals, many are turning to what she terms "Pot Noodle love" '' easy or instant gratification, in the form of casual sex, short-term trysts and the usual technological suspects: online porn, virtual-reality "girlfriends", anime cartoons. Or else they're opting out altogether and replacing love and sex with other urban pastimes.
Some of Aoyama's clients are among the small minority who have taken social withdrawal to a pathological extreme. They are recovering hikikomori ("shut-ins" or recluses) taking the first steps to rejoining the outside world, otaku (geeks), and long-term parasaito shingurus (parasite singles) who have reached their mid-30s without managing to move out of home. (Of the estimated 13 million unmarried people in Japan who currently live with their parents, around three million are over the age of 35.) "A few people can't relate to the opposite sex physically or in any other way. They flinch if I touch them," she says. "Most are men, but I'm starting to see more women."
No sex in the city: (from left) friends Emi Kuwahata, 23, and Eri Asada, 22, shopping in Tokyo. Photograph: Eric Rechsteiner/Panos PicturesAoyama cites one man in his early 30s, a virgin, who can't get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers. "I use therapies, such as yoga and hypnosis, to relax him and help him to understand the way that real human bodies work." Sometimes, for an extra fee, she gets naked with her male clients '' "strictly no intercourse" '' to physically guide them around the female form. Keen to see her nation thrive, she likens her role in these cases to that of the Edo period courtesans, or oiran, who used to initiate samurai sons into the art of erotic pleasure.
Aversion to marriage and intimacy in modern life is not unique to Japan. Nor is growing preoccupation with digital technology. But what endless Japanese committees have failed to grasp when they stew over the country's procreation-shy youth is that, thanks to official shortsightedness, the decision to stay single often makes perfect sense. This is true for both sexes, but it's especially true for women. "Marriage is a woman's grave," goes an old Japanese saying that refers to wives being ignored in favour of mistresses. For Japanese women today, marriage is the grave of their hard-won careers.
I meet Eri Tomita, 32, over Saturday morning coffee in the smart Tokyo district of Ebisu. Tomita has a job she loves in the human resources department of a French-owned bank. A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. "A boyfriend proposed to me three years ago. I turned him down when I realised I cared more about my job. After that, I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up."
Tomita says a woman's chances of promotion in Japan stop dead as soon as she marries. "The bosses assume you will get pregnant." Once a woman does have a child, she adds, the long, inflexible hours become unmanageable. "You have to resign. You end up being a housewife with no independent income. It's not an option for women like me."
Around 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after their first child. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world's worst nations for gender equality at work. Social attitudes don't help. Married working women are sometimes demonised as oniyome, or "devil wives". In a telling Japanese ballet production of Bizet's Carmen a few years ago, Carmen was portrayed as a career woman who stole company secrets to get ahead and then framed her lowly security-guard lover Jos(C). Her end was not pretty.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe recently trumpeted long-overdue plans to increase female economic participation by improving conditions and daycare, but Tomita says things would have to improve "dramatically" to compel her to become a working wife and mother. "I have a great life. I go out with my girl friends '' career women like me '' to French and Italian restaurants. I buy stylish clothes and go on nice holidays. I love my independence."
Tomita sometimes has one-night stands with men she meets in bars, but she says sex is not a priority, either. "I often get asked out by married men in the office who want an affair. They assume I'm desperate because I'm single." She grimaces, then shrugs. "Mendokusai."
Mendokusai translates loosely as "Too troublesome" or "I can't be bothered". It's the word I hear both sexes use most often when they talk about their relationship phobia. Romantic commitment seems to represent burden and drudgery, from the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan to the uncertain expectations of a spouse and in-laws. And the centuries-old belief that the purpose of marriage is to produce children endures. Japan's Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is "preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like".
'I often get asked out by married men in the office who want an affair as I am single. But I can't be bothered': Eri Tomita, 32. Photograph: Eric Rechsteiner/Panos PicturesThe sense of crushing obligation affects men just as much. Satoru Kishino, 31, belongs to a large tribe of men under 40 who are engaging in a kind of passive rebellion against traditional Japanese masculinity. Amid the recession and unsteady wages, men like Kishino feel that the pressure on them to be breadwinning economic warriors for a wife and family is unrealistic. They are rejecting the pursuit of both career and romantic success.
"It's too troublesome," says Kishino, when I ask why he's not interested in having a girlfriend. "I don't earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don't want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage." Japan's media, which has a name for every social kink, refers to men like Kishino as "herbivores" or soshoku danshi (literally, "grass-eating men"). Kishino says he doesn't mind the label because it's become so commonplace. He defines it as "a heterosexual man for whom relationships and sex are unimportant".
The phenomenon emerged a few years ago with the airing of a Japanese manga-turned-TV show. The lead character in Otomen ("Girly Men") was a tall martial arts champion, the king of tough-guy cool. Secretly, he loved baking cakes, collecting "pink sparkly things" and knitting clothes for his stuffed animals. To the tooth-sucking horror of Japan's corporate elders, the show struck a powerful chord with the generation they spawned.
'I find women attractive but I've learned to live without sex. Emotional entanglements are too complicated': Satoru Kishino, 31. Photograph: Eric Rechsteiner/Panos PicturesKishino, who works at a fashion accessories company as a designer and manager, doesn't knit. But he does like cooking and cycling, and platonic friendships. "I find some of my female friends attractive but I've learned to live without sex. Emotional entanglements are too complicated," he says. "I can't be bothered."
Romantic apathy aside, Kishino, like Tomita, says he enjoys his active single life. Ironically, the salaryman system that produced such segregated marital roles '' wives inside the home, husbands at work for 20 hours a day '' also created an ideal environment for solo living. Japan's cities are full of conveniences made for one, from stand-up noodle bars to capsule hotels to the ubiquitous konbini (convenience stores), with their shelves of individually wrapped rice balls and disposable underwear. These things originally evolved for salarymen on the go, but there are now female-only caf(C)s, hotel floors and even the odd apartment block. And Japan's cities are extraordinarily crime-free.
Some experts believe the flight from marriage is not merely a rejection of outdated norms and gender roles. It could be a long-term state of affairs. "Remaining single was once the ultimate personal failure," says Tomomi Yamaguchi, a Japanese-born assistant professor of anthropology at Montana State University in America. "But more people are finding they prefer it." Being single by choice is becoming, she believes, "a new reality".
Is Japan providing a glimpse of all our futures? Many of the shifts there are occurring in other advanced nations, too. Across urban Asia, Europe and America, people are marrying later or not at all, birth rates are falling, single-occupant households are on the rise and, in countries where economic recession is worst, young people are living at home. But demographer Nicholas Eberstadt argues that a distinctive set of factors is accelerating these trends in Japan. These factors include the lack of a religious authority that ordains marriage and family, the country's precarious earthquake-prone ecology that engenders feelings of futility, and the high cost of living and raising children.
"Gradually but relentlessly, Japan is evolving into a type of society whose contours and workings have only been contemplated in science fiction," Eberstadt wrote last year. With a vast army of older people and an ever-dwindling younger generation, Japan may become a "pioneer people" where individuals who never marry exist in significant numbers, he said.
Japan's 20-somethings are the age group to watch. Most are still too young to have concrete future plans, but projections for them are already laid out. According to the government's population institute, women in their early 20s today have a one-in-four chance of never marrying. Their chances of remaining childless are even higher: almost 40%.
They don't seem concerned. Emi Kuwahata, 23, and her friend, Eri Asada, 22, meet me in the shopping district of Shibuya. The caf(C) they choose is beneath an art gallery near the train station, wedged in an alley between pachinko pinball parlours and adult video shops. Kuwahata, a fashion graduate, is in a casual relationship with a man 13 years her senior. "We meet once a week to go clubbing," she says. "I don't have time for a regular boyfriend. I'm trying to become a fashion designer." Asada, who studied economics, has no interest in love. "I gave up dating three years ago. I don't miss boyfriends or sex. I don't even like holding hands."
Asada insists nothing happened to put her off physical contact. She just doesn't want a relationship and casual sex is not a good option, she says, because "girls can't have flings without being judged". Although Japan is sexually permissive, the current fantasy ideal for women under 25 is impossibly cute and virginal. Double standards abound.
In the Japan Family Planning Association's 2013 study on sex among young people, there was far more data on men than women. I asked the association's head, Kunio Kitamura, why. "Sexual drive comes from males," said the man who advises the government. "Females do not experience the same levels of desire."
Over iced tea served by skinny-jeaned boys with meticulously tousled hair, Asada and Kuwahata say they share the usual singleton passions of clothes, music and shopping, and have hectic social lives. But, smart phones in hand, they also admit they spend far more time communicating with their friends via online social networks than seeing them in the flesh. Asada adds she's spent "the past two years" obsessed with a virtual game that lets her act as a manager of a sweet shop.
Japanese-American author Roland Kelts, who writes about Japan's youth, says it's inevitable that the future of Japanese relationships will be largely technology driven. "Japan has developed incredibly sophisticated virtual worlds and online communication systems. Its smart phone apps are the world's most imaginative." Kelts says the need to escape into private, virtual worlds in Japan stems from the fact that it's an overcrowded nation with limited physical space. But he also believes the rest of the world is not far behind.
Getting back to basics, former dominatrix Ai Aoyama '' Queen Love '' is determined to educate her clients on the value of "skin-to-skin, heart-to-heart" intimacy. She accepts that technology will shape the future, but says society must ensure it doesn't take over. "It's not healthy that people are becoming so physically disconnected from each other," she says. "Sex with another person is a human need that produces feel-good hormones and helps people to function better in their daily lives."
Aoyama says she sees daily that people crave human warmth, even if they don't want the hassle of marriage or a long-term relationship. She berates the government for "making it hard for single people to live however they want" and for "whipping up fear about the falling birth rate". Whipping up fear in people, she says, doesn't help anyone. And that's from a woman who knows a bit about whipping.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:55
Zwarte Piet (pronounced ['zÊÉrtÉ pit], "Black Pete") is the companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas) in the folklore of the Low Countries, whose yearly feast in the Netherlands is usually celebrated on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaasavond, that is, St. Nicholas' Eve) and 6 December in Belgium, when they distribute sweets and presents to all good children. In other surrounding countries many similar but different characters are the companion of Saint Nicholas. For example in Germany the character is called Knecht Ruprecht (journeyman Ruprecht), and in France the companion is called P¨re Fouettard, In these countries the tradition of celebrating the birthday of Saint Nicholas has not merged with Christmas. The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (generally by boat, having traveled from Madrid, Spain). The tasks of the Zwarte Pieten are mostly to amuse children, and to scatter pepernoten, kruidnoten and strooigoed (special sinterklaas candies) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools, and other places.
HistoryOrigins1845: Amsterdam-based primary school teacher Jan Schenkman writes the book Sint Nicolaas en zijn Knecht ("Saint Nicholas and his Servant"); This is the first time that a Spanish servant character is introduced into the Saint Nicholas narrative. The servant is described as a page boy or man, and is depicted as a dark person wearing clothes associated with Moors. The book also established another mythos that will become standard: the intocht or "entry" ceremony of Saint Nicholas and his servant (then not yet named Zwarte Piet) involving a steamboat. In the 1850 version of Schenkman's book, he is depicted in simple white clothing with red piping, as the typical Spanish page of the day. In later editions, the page acquires the name "pieter", and is shown in a much more colorful page costume, looking much as he does today.. The book stayed in print until 1950 and can be seen as the foundation of the current celebration.1891: In the book Het Feest van Sinterklaas, the servant is named Pieter. Until 1920 there were several books giving him other names, and in contemporaneous appearances the name and looks still varied considerably.In the early 20th century the Civilized Standard Celebration for children, with Zwarte Piet as the standard personal servant of the saint, spread throughout the country. In the 1930s urban adults become more involved, too, and the arrival of Saint Nicholas and his Zwarte Pieten are staged, which more or less explains the shift from the 6th to the 5th of December, as the adults would celebrate on the eve of the saint's day.During the 20th century, the number of Sinterklaas' servants multiplied; this paradigm shift offered the possibility of creating several different Zwarte Piet characters, notably for television. During the televised yearly event, when Sinterklaas arrives by boat, he is often assisted by dozens of Piets, for example there's a Hoofdpiet (Head Piet) who carries the book of Sinterklaas, a Rijmpiet (Rhyme Piet) and so on.The Dutch now celebrate Sinterklaas (5 December) with an exchange of gifts. These presents are given anonymously, but are often accompanied by poems, Sinterklaasgedicht, signed by Zwarte Piet or Sint, which are read aloud during Sinterklaas evening for the enjoyment of the ones assembled. The poems are often of a teasing nature.
The first origin of Sinterklaas and his helpers can probably be found in the Wild Hunt of Wodan. Riding the white horse Sleipnir he flew through the air as the leader of the Wild Hunt. He was always accompanied by two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn.  Those helpers would listen, just like Zwarte Piet, at the chimney - which was just a hole in the roof at that time - to tell Wodan about the good and bad behaviour of the mortals. During Christianization, Pope Gregory I argued that conversions were easier if people were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditions, while claiming that the traditions were in honour of the Christian God; the Saint Nicolas tradition is one of them, converting Wodan to a Christian counterpart.
According to myths dating to the beginning of the 19th century, Saint Nicholas operated by himself or in the companionship of a devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas Eve the devil was shackled and made his slave; a devil as a helper of the saint can still be found in the Austrian Saint Nicholas tradition, in the character of Krampus.
Some sources indicate that in Germanic Europe, Zwarte Piet was originally such an enslaved devil, forced to assist his captor, but in the 19th century Netherlands the character emerged in the likeness of a Moor, a servant of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is said to come from the Byzantine Empire, modern-day Turkey.
The introduction of this new Zwarte Piet was paired with a change in the attitude of the Sinterklaas character, who became quite severe towards bad children himself, and worried teachers and priests due to the depiction of a holy man in this light. Sometime after the introduction of Zwarte Piet as Sinterklaas' servant, both characters adapted a softer character.
Still, the lyrics of older traditional Sinterklaas songs warn that while Sinterklaas and his assistant will leave well-behaved children presents, they will punish those who have been very naughty. For example, they will take bad children and carry these children off in a burlap sack to their homeland of Spain, where, according to legend, Sinterklaas and his helper dwell out of season. These songs and stories also warn that a child who has been only slightly naughty will not get a present, but a "roe", which is a bundle of birch twigs, implying that they could have gotten a birching instead, or they will simply receive a lump of coal instead of gifts.
Until the second half of the 20th century, Saint Nicholas' helper was not too bright, in line with the old colonial traditions.[clarification needed] Once immigration started from the former colonised countries, Zwarte Piet became a much more respected assistant of Saint Nicholas, often inattentive, but playful.
Modern traditionAccording to the more modern Saint Nicholas legend, a Zwarte Piet is a servant who accompanies Saint Nicholas on his holiday travels. In some versions, Saint Nicholas is said to have liberated a young slave named Peter, who decided to serve Nicholas. Zwarte Piet is today commonly depicted as a black person in the colorful pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffles of a Renaissance European page, a tradition that comes from a children's book published in 1850.
Zwarte Pieten are often portrayed as mischievous but rarely mean-spirited characters, the character is believed to have been derived from pagan traditions of evil spirits.
The role of Zwarte Pieten has become part of a recurring debate in the Netherlands. Controversial practices include holiday revellers blackening their faces and wearing afro wigs, gold jewelry and bright red lipstick, and walking the streets throwing candy to passers-by.
Foreign tourists, particularly those from the United States and the United Kingdom, often experience culture shock when encountering the character, as dressing in blackface is a social taboo in these and other countries. Since the 1990s, there have been several attempts to introduce a new kind of Zwarte Piet to the Dutch public, among them replacing traditional black makeup with various other shades of colours. As an experiment in 2006, the NPS (en: Dutch Programme Foundation) replaced the black Pieten with rainbow-colored Pieten but reverted the characters back to the traditional all-black makeup a year later.
The tradition continues to be popular in the Netherlands but some activists have protested against it. Four people wearing T-shirts with the words "Zwarte Piet is Racist" were arrested during the second weekend of November 2011.
The largest Sinterklaas celebration in Western Canada, slated for December 3, 2011, in New Westminster, British Columbia, was cancelled for the first time since its inception in 1985 following a debate over the inclusion of Zwarte Piet. Rather than remove the character, the organizers cancelled the festivities entirely because, as spokesperson Tako Slump of the organization said: 
"We got a lot of replies back from our customers in the Dutch community. It became pretty clear to us that we love Sinterklaas and we can't have it without Black Peter. Those two go together."
In 2011, legislators in the former Dutch colony of Suriname stated that government-sanctioned celebrations involving Zwarte Piet were considered an insult to the "black part of Suriname's community." Efforts have begun in the Republic to prevent future governmental promotions of the character.
It was announced in October 2013 that the United Nations, under the authority of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, were to investigate whether Zwarte Piet is a racist stereotype. The Dutch government responded by stating that the Sinterklaas celebration is a tradition for children in the Netherlands.
References^""St Nicholas en zijn knecht" by Jan Schenkman". Librivox.org. 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2012-11-26. ^H(C)l¨ne Adeline Guerber (d. 1929). "huginn and muninn "Myths of the Norsemen" from". gutenberg.org. Retrieved 2012-11-26. ^Booy, Frits (2003). "Lezing met dia's over 'op zoek naar zwarte piet' (in search of Zwarte Piet)" (in dutch). Retrieved 2007-11-29. Almekinders, Jaap (2005). "Wodan en de oorsprong van het Sinterklaasfeest (Wodan and the origin of Saint Nicolas' festivity)" (in dutch). Retrieved 2011-11-28. Christina, Carlijn (2006). "St. Nicolas and the tradition of celebrating his birthday". Retrieved 2011-11-28. [unreliable source?]^"Artikel: sinterklaas and germanic mythology" (in Dutch). historianet.nl. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2012. ^"Jan Schenkman" (in dutch). dbnl.nl. Retrieved 28 November 2010. ^Booy, Frits (2003). "Lezing met dia's over 'op zoek naar zwarte piet' (in search of Zwarte Piet)" (in dutch). Retrieved 2007-11-29. ^"Oorsprong van de feesten. Wie is Sint Niklaas?" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2009-05-03. Retrieved 28 November 2010. ^"Question of the Month: Who is Black Peter?". feries.edu. January 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2010. ^Dutch Question St. Nick's Sidekick, Washington Post, December 2, 1999. Accessed June 22, 2012.^(Dutch)Piet weer zwart ("Pete black again"), De Telegraaf, November 15, 2007. Accessed online February 17, 2008.^"Anti-Zwarte Piet activists arrests prompts new debate". Dutch News.nl. 17 November 2011. ^"New Westminster Sinterklaas festival Cancelled". Royal City Record. 29 November 2011. ^"RACIST TRADITION: Legislators say Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas at Christmas is racist". Caribbean News Agency (CANA). 2011-Dec-24. Retrieved 2011-Dec-24. [dead link]^Carolien Roelants:. "Verenigde Naties doen onderzoek naar 'domkop en knecht' Zwarte Piet" (in Dutch). nrc.nl. Retrieved 2013-10-22. ^"De brief van de VN over Zwarte Piet". Scribd.com. Retrieved 2013-10-22. ^"Het Nederlandse antwoord op de VN-brief". Scribd.com. Retrieved 2013-10-22. External links
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:54
Added : Monday 21 Oct 2013 , 14:32At the request of the Netherlands, the German police arrested two men from Arnhem . According to Justice , the two have to travel to Syria . The men were mid-August in the German Kleve held in a car full of combat clothing , cash, new iPhones and SIM cards .older brother
Documents from justice , in the hands of Nieuwsuur , it appears that at least one of the men has an older brother , who had previously traveled to Syria . Also, the second suspect , say residents , would an older brother in Syria . The first person arrested the 26 -year-old Mohamed el A. from the Arnhem Presikhaaf district. According to a report by the secret service AIVD he would have had with his older brother in Syria . Contact He also wanted to take his minor half-brother to Syria . But police intervened and placed the boy under the supervision of the child .bewildered
The second man is arrested the 21 -year-old Hakim B. from Malburgen district of Arnhem was a volunteer member of the Youth Supervision Team in Arnhem , and was an avid kickboxer . Owner Fred Royer Kickboxing Arnhem is stunned by the arrest of his pupil. " If there is someone who I would not expect this, then that Hakim ," said Royer tonight Nieuwsuur .worrisome
Many Dutch young people who have left Syria for jihad , come from The Hague. Edwin Bakker , professor of terrorism at the University of Leiden , find it worrisome that now apparently boys from Arnhem to leave the war zone .
The municipality of Arnhem is a national problem , which has a number of communes. " It is our explicit attention . We talk about it with other municipalities , the Ministry , the prosecution and the police signals to pick up " as soon as possible according to a spokeswoman . " We do it with our network partners committed to the signals to absorb and to transfer . " in imagegaining experience
Experts warn that young people who participate in the struggle in Syria radicalized to return in the Netherlands , with all its consequences . The AIVD warned for years about the dangers of jihadists , who are gaining experience in conflicts around the world .combat Clothing
Justice documents in the possession of a third Nieuwsuur Report Arnhem raided a house in a cellar where a backpack with combat clothing was found . " Apparently intended for a third uitreizende person " , as it reads .statement
In late November last year in Rotterdam three men arrested , according Justice also were planning to travel for jihad. Away to Syria The main suspect , a 24 - year-old man of Iraqi descent , considered to commit . An attack in Belgium Next Wednesday is doing the right judgment in this case .
Youth Supervision Team in Arnhem ; http://translate.google.nl/translate...m.html&act=url
Youth Supervision Team ; http://translate.google.nl/translate...t-team&act=url
Syrigangers after returning time being not prosecuted
By: Janny Green - 10/19/13, 08:19
Returned Syrigangers are still not prosecuted in the Netherlands. They come with the story she gave humanitarian aid and are traumatized. They are assisted by social workers. Some have a duty to report.
According to various sources in Dutch Muslim communities also Belgian returned travelers choose the 'Netherlands-route, because of the milder approach.
Similarly, the Belgian convert Jejoen Bontinck. According to the Belgian broadcaster VRT is Bontinck Friday in Belgium arrested after spending a week in the Netherlands. He has not traveled straight to Belgium, he told the VRT, because he was to be arrested. Afraid On the advice of his father Dimitri, who also told the Dutch television about his futile quest for Jejoen in Syria , he eventually went to Belgium.
There are all returned Syrireizigers arrested. Some because of criminal activities in war zones. They suspected Others because they were carrying Sharia4Belgium, the organization that would actively recruit for jihad.
No announcements individualsThe AIVD would have been Bontincks stay in the Netherlands informed. The service will not say anything about it. 'In individual cases we do not communicate, "says a spokeswoman. She confirms that there Syrigangers are back in the Netherlands, but not the numbers. "We have a view of the back travelers. This is not confined to our borders. "
The stories about the humanitarian work and trauma, recognize the AIVD. "We ask the question whether it is always right. It may also be that a smoke screen is increased. "
25 to 30 returned SyrigangersAccording to the sources of the Volkskrant there are now about 25 to 30 Syrigangers returned to the Netherlands. They have been spotted in The Hague and Delft (small groups) and individuals in Zeist, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Arnhem.
In March, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) raised the terrorism threat level from limited to substantial. The coordinator warned especially when returning jihadis, who bring their expertise, ideological fervor and experience a security breach.
The Delft Labour councilor says Abdel Maanaoui certainly not all young people with experiences in Syria are a danger to society. He has contact with some of them. "We must not lock when not needed," he says about the repressive Belgian approach. "There are guys left who really have only given help. Others have struggled, but came back there that the situation is much more complicated than they had expected. That there is not an enemy: Assad. But they also had to fight. Much more parties, against other Muslims, There are also back that are dangerous, which propagate jihad and want to destroy the West. To be followed by the AIVD. "
Also terrorism expert Edwin Bakker argues for individual counseling. He knows that more young people want to return, but do not dare knock at the Dutch consulate in Turkey to ask if their passports withheld. Travel documents "The politics leaves little room for help and a tailored approach," he says. Baker sees the parliamentary questions for itself: 'Netherlands let terrorists return with emergency passport. " He says that Belgium still has further polarized. "Not surprisingly, Belgian Syrigangers sit here."
Doubt by phoneParents of Syrigangers tell increasing doubt be reflected in the telephone conversations with their children about their mission. "Many do not see it sit," says a source. "They can not find their niche there, but do not dare to return. They do not know what awaits them here. Maybe they are still prosecuted at a later stage. "
Baker warns that it may be that the jihad problem has subsided. Not drawn from the fact that young people return, the conclusion On the contrary.
"The group of potential travelers jihad is getting bigger and more professional. Recently, in Germany and the Netherlands jihad ¬ travelers arrested who are not from Delft and The Hague.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 13:34
De discussie over Zwarte Piet is de afgelopen week weer in alle hevigheid opgelaaid. Foto ANP / Lex van Lieshout
BinnenlandNederland moet ophouden met het vieren van het Sinterklaasfeest omdat het fenomeen van Zwarte Piet een terugkeer is naar de tijd van de slavernij. Dat zegt Verene Shepherd, het hoofd van de VN-werkgroep die onderzoek doet naar Zwarte Piet, vandaag in een interview met E(C)nVandaag.
Shepherd zegt dat de werkgroep ''niet kan begrijpen waarom Nederlanders niet inzien dat dit een terugkeer naar de slavernij is en dat in de 21e eeuw dit feest moet stoppen''.
NRC Handelsbladmeldde afgelopen zaterdag dat de VN onderzoek doen naar het Nederlandse Sinterklaasfeest. Begin dit jaar stuurden vier rapporteurs inzake mensenrechten, culturele rechten, minderhedenrechten en racisme een brief aan Nederland omdat zij ''informatie gekregen'' de traditie van Sinterklaas in de kern racistisch is.
Shepherd vraagt Rutte actie te ondernemenShepherd zegt tegen E(C)nVandaag dat ze als lid van de werkgroep verplicht is nog onderzoek naar het fenomeen van Zwarte Piet te doen, maar dat ze haar persoonlijke mening al klaar heeft.
''Als zwart persoon zeg ik, als ik in Nederland zou wonen, zou ik me er tegen verzetten. Mijn persoonlijke mening is, dat dit in de 21e eeuw niet zou mogen gebeuren. Het is beledigend, wij gaan ook niet de straat op en zeggen; dit is hoe alle blanke mensen eruit zien of dat is hoe alle blanke mensen eruit zien. Wij doen dat niet, wij doen dat niet!''
Shepherd roept premier Rutte op een einde te maken aan het Sinterklaasfeest. ''De premier heeft de macht om dit te veranderen en om zijn invloed uit te oefenen op de groep die deze gewoonte in stand houdt.''
Rutte: Zwarte Piet, dat zegt het al, is zwartRutte reageerde vrijdag laconiek op de ophef rond Sinterklaas. ''Zwarte Piet, dat zegt het al, die is zwart'', zei de premier. Rutte voegde toe dat ''je altijd rekening moet houden met gevoelens van anderen'' en dat het ''geen zaak van de regering'' is, en dat hij aan de kleur van Piet ''weinig kan veranderen''.
Lees hieronder de brief van de VN over Zwarte Piet:
De brief van de VN over Zwarte Piet
Lees meer over:racismeSinterklaasVerene SheperdVerenigde NatiesZwarte Piet
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 13:32
Zwarte Piet is a throwback to slavery, says UN working party chiefTuesday 22 October 2013
The head of the UN's human rights committee said in an interview with television show EenVandaag that she would object to the character of Zwarte Piet if she lived in the Netherlands.
Verene Shepherd, who is Jamaican, said in the interview that the UN working group cannot understand why 'people in the Netherlands do not see this is a throwback to slavery and that in the 21st century this practice should stop.'
Last week it emerged the committee is looking into the Sinterklaas celebrations and the role of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) following complaints that it is racist.
'As a black person, if I were living in the Netherlands I would object to it. As a member of the working group, I am obliged to do further investigation,' Shepherd said.
'If we find out our information is wrong, we will change our position. But the information we have at the moment from the people of the Netherlands is that it is racist, a throwback to slavery and it should not happen.'
Every year the discussion flares up about the role of Zwarte Piet, played by a white person in black face make-up with a wig, red lips and gold earrings. This year protestors are trying to have the traditional Sinterklaas procession in Amsterdam banned because of the role of Zwarte Piet. This year's procession is expected to include 500 Zwarte Piets.
Meanwhile, research by opinion pollster Maurice de Hond shows 92% of the Dutch do not associate Zwarte Piet with slavery and 91% oppose any efforts to change his appearance. In Amsterdam, however, 65% oppose efforts to make Zwarte Piet less of a stereotype.
Where do you stand on the Zwarte Piet debate? Take part in our new poll
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Tue, 22 Oct 2013 13:30
AMSTERDAM - Nederland moet helemaal stoppen met het Sinterklaasfeest. Dat zegt professor Verene Shepherd, hoofd van de werkgroep van de Verenigde Naties die onderzoek doet naar Zwarte Piet. De werkgroep bezoekt binnenkort Nederland om zelf het Sinterklaasfeest mee te maken. Maar wat Shepherd betreft is het ook meteen de laatste keer dat het feest gevierd wordt.
Hoewel het onderzoek van de VN nog in volle gang is, heeft de van oorsprong Jamaicaanse Sheperd haar conclusie al klaar, zo blijkt uit een interview met EenVandaag. ,,De werkgroep kan niet begrijpen waarom Nederlanders niet inzien dat dit een terugkeer naar de slavernij is en dat in de 21ste eeuw dit feest moet stoppen", zo stelt ze onomwonden. De VN-onderzoekster vindt dat Nederlanders maar genoegen moeten nemen met de kerstman. ,,Wat is er mis met 1 Santa Claus, waarom twee Santa Clauses?''
Wat haar betreft moet premier Rutte persoonlijk ingrijpen. ,,De premier heeft de macht om dit te veranderen en om zijn invloed uit te oefenen op de groep die deze gewoonte in stand houdt.''
Eerder liet Rutte nog weten dat het geen taak van de overheid is om het Zwarte Piet-debat te beslechten. Volgens de premier staat het iedereen vrij om een witte piet op te voeren, maar hij wees erop dat het hulpje van de Sint volgens de overlevering altijd zwart is geweest. 'Zwarte Piet is zwart, daar kunnen we weinig aan veranderen.''
Uit een rondgang van De Telegraaf langs gemeenten in Nederland blijkt bovendien dat buiten Amsterdam eigenlijk vrijwel niemand zich druk maakt om Zwarte Piet. Ook niet in plaatsen met grote Antilliaanse of Surinaamse gemeenschappen zoals Den Helder en Dordrecht of in andere grote steden als Rotterdam en Den Haag.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:19
Zei ik eerder dat ik vermoedde dat mevrouw Verene Shepherd, van de zwartepietencommissie van de VN, vooringenomen haar onderzoek naar Zwarte Piet inging? Dat behoeft correctie. Ik weet het inmiddels zeker.Mijn eerdere vermoeden baseerde ik me op het gegeven dat mevrouw Shepherd meende af te moeten reizen naar Suriname, om daar met de commissie voor herstelbetalingen aldaar te spreken. Ze komt dus niet naar Nederland, om daar haar licht op te steken over het Sinterklaasfeest, Zwarte Piet en hoe men dat alles beleeft. Dat is in haar beleving duidelijk een reeds gepasseerd station, ze stoomt meteen door richting Suriname.
Om de vraag te beantwoorden of Zwarte Piet een racistisch stereotype is meent zij namelijk dat financile genoegdoening voor de slavernij in de discussie moet worden betrokken. Daarmee leek het lot van Zwarte Piet bij voorbaat bezegeld; mevrouw Shepherd ging er in elk geval alvast vanuit dat hij een zwarte slaaf moet zijn geweest.
Nu vraag ik mij nog steeds af in hoeverre die herstelbetalingen criterium kunnen en mogen zijn in deze kwestie. Mocht de VN in al haar wijsheid besluiten dat Zwarte Piet een racistisch stereotype is, mag Nederland dat dan afkopen door ettelijke euronen naar Suriname te gireren? Mocht Zwarte Piet geen racistisch stereotype zijn, zijn die herstelbetalingen dan van de baan?
Mevrouw Shepherd, zelf lid van de Jamaicaanse commissie voor herstelbetalingen, lijkt de affaire Zwarte Piet voornamelijk in het licht van haar eigen agenda te zien.
Interview EenVandaagTijdens een interview met EenVandaag wordt Verene Shepherd op de man af gevraagd naar haar vooringenomenheid. Als lid van de onderzoekscommissie is ze verplicht verder onderzoek te doen, maar ze als "black person" in Nederland zou wonen zou zich tegen het fenomeen verzetten.Het onderzoek is nog niet afgerond, maar mevrouw Shepherd laat nu al weten dat Nederland moet stoppen met het Sinterklaasfeest omdat Zwarte Piet "racistisch is" en "een terugkeer van de slavernij".
Aan het eind van het interview maakt mevrouw Shepherd het helemaal bont; want waarom moeten wij malle Nederlanders nu helemaal tw(C)(C) Santa Clauses hebben? Mevrouw de historica doelt daarbij op de Kerstman, u weet wel; de Coca-Cola-kopie van Sint Nicolaas.
De dubbele moraal van Verene ShepherdWat ik van mevrouw Shepherd zou willen weten is waarom het Perzisch nieuwjaarfeest Navruz zonder morren op de UNESCO-lijst van immaterieel erfgoed is geplaatst. Dat gebeurde in 2009. De zwart geschminkte Hajji Firuz, die dit feestelijk Perzisch nieuwjaarsfeestje aankondigt was daarbij geen beletsel. Met zijn rode lippen en malle muts is de gelijkenis met Zwarte Piet treffend, maar volgens de VN is Navruz juist een feestje dat aan culturele diversiteit bijdraagt;Novruz promotes the values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families, as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness, thus contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and various communities.
Hoe kan het dat deze Perzische equivalent van Zwarte Piet zonder weerstand of kritiek van de Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, waar mevrouw Shepherd voorzitter van is, op die lijst terecht kwam?
Verene Shepherd is een gelauwerd professor die zich veel met genderissues bezighoudt. Ze schreef ettelijke boeken over de slavernij en emancipatie. In 2010 zong de Jamaican Observer haar lof:
Shepherd launched her academic career with the aim to change the stereotype where historically women occupied the domestic space and made no contribution to production and public life. Her work has contributed significantly to the body of scholarship that is helping to overturn these stereotypes.
Waar was mevrouw Shepherd toen tradities waar vrouwen niet aan mee mogen doen met goedkeuring van de VN op die UNESCO-lijst werden geplaatst? Die zijn mondiaal nog erg populair ook. Neem nu het Japanse Kumiodori, prachtig traditioneel muzikaal theater, dat is voorbehouden aan mannelijke acteurs. Of Chhau, een dans uit India, waarbij sommige passen gebaseerd zijn op de werkzaamheden van huisvrouwen maar waaraan geen vrouw mee mag doen. Huisvrouw of niet. Dichter bij huis is er de Leuvense Abrahamdag. Leuk, maar slegs vir belegen mannen.Wat, waren die vrouwen niet zwart genoeg? Geen slaven geweest? Geen argument in de discussies rond herstelbetalingen voor slavernij uit het verleden?
Mocht uit dat "gedegen" onderzoek van de VN nog blijken dat Zwarte Piet (al dan niet ten dele) gent is op het image van de Moorse page en de Moorse slavenhaler, gaan we dan eindelijk naast de trans-Atlantische slavenhandel ook de Arabische Afrikaanse slavenhandel en de Barbarijse slavenhandel op de agenda van de genoegdoening zetten? Mogen de nazaten van de Barbarijse slaven en van blanke slaven, relatief klein in aantal maar toch, ook meedoen?
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:15
By Erik Voeten, Published: OCTOBER 22, 1:30 PM ET Aa (Michell Zappa, Creative Commons license)
For Dutch children the main event of the holiday season is not when Santa Claus travels south from the North Pole on his red-nosed reindeer to distribute presents prepared by his magical elves. Instead, Dutch children eagerly await the day St. Nicholas travels north from Spain on his steamboat accompanied by his white horse and six to eight black helpers '' all conveniently named ''black Pete'' (zwarte Piet). Here is an explanation in rap form.
In terms of historical accuracy, the Dutch story wins in a landslide (Stephen Colbert cites it as a perfect example of "Christmas originalism" about 1:40 in). It is, of course, also blatantly racist (see my ps. for some context). Some people try to argue that Piet is black because he crawls through chimneys. This is nonsense. But it has proven exceptionally difficult to break the tradition. There have been some experiments with ''rainbow Petes'' but the Dutch still prefer St. Nicholas's helpers to be black.
A rapporteur acting on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (U.S. Professor Verene Shepherd) has now urged the Dutch government to abandon this practice and even the St. Nicholas celebrations altogether (a story in English is here). This has raised some sharp responses. Extreme right politician Geert Wilders has called upon his followers to abandon the United Nations instead (in Dutch). A Dutch parliamentary delegation wants clarification from the United Nations (in Dutch). Even the prime-minister felt the need to comment that ''black Pete is black,'' suggesting that things should stay the way they are. In short, it is not just Americans who get touchy when the United Nations (or really a U.N. rapporteur) criticizes a domestic practice.
In the meantime, the Dutch actor who has been playing the head black Pete for the past 14 years on Dutch television has a more measured and pragmatic response: There is no reason for Pete to be black other than tradition. Nothing about the stories, practices, or songs surrounding the St Nicholas festivities relies on Pete being black. Traditions can change, and so can this one.
P.S. This post was written too bluntly and without sufficient context. I love the Sinterklaasfeest. I celebrated it as a young boy and continue to celebrate it with my daughter. That will not stop. I certainly don't want to imply that those who celebrate it are racist. I believe that many people feel that the way the Black Pete character was traditionally portrayed was a problem. This is why the character has evolved. Indeed, hoofdpiet Erik van Muiswinkel (the actor who plays the main black Pete on Dutch television) points out that they already refer to him as Pete rather than Black Pete in most of the television productions, that he no longer has big red lips, that he no longer talks with a funny accent, that he no longer appears threatening, and that he can now be a she. Traditions evolve. I agree with him that it is very possible to make Pete less black and less of a servant and still enjoy everything that is great about Sinterklaas.
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Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:05
bewaarSven Spoormakers24-10-13 - 06:26 bron: Algemeen DagbladVerene Shepherd is 'slechts een consultant'Verene Shepherd (C) AD.Nederland hoeft absoluut niet te vrezen voor een serieus signaal van de Verenigde Naties tegen het sinterklaasfeest. Dat zegt Marc Jacobs, de Belgische vertegenwoordiger van Unesco.
Alle heisa die de Jamaicaanse Shepherd heeft veroorzaakt met haar brief is niet meer dan een slechte zet in een spel van pressiegroepen in Nederland
Marc Jacobs, UnescoVolgens hem bekleedt Verene Shepherd, die namens de VN kritiek uitte op Sinterklaas, geen enkele serieuze positie bij de VN. 'Ze is slechts een consultant die de naam van de VN misbruikt om een eigen agenda in de media te brengen,' aldus Jacobs.
Consultants'Alle heisa die de Jamaicaanse Shepherd heeft veroorzaakt met haar brief is niet meer dan een slechte zet in een spel van pressiegroepen in Nederland', zegt de Belg. 'De vier ondertekenaars van die brief behoren helemaal niet tot de bevoegde organen van Unesco, maar gebruikten papier met het briefhoofd van 'de Verenigde Naties', eigenlijk het Hoog Commissariaat van de Mensenrechten. Het zijn een soort consultants die een vooronderzoek voor eigen gebruik doen, maar dan wel quasi-officieel vragen stellen aan de Nederlandse Staat.'
Magie verdwenenDe uitlatingen van Verene Shepherd neemt de magie van het aloude traditionele sinterklaasfeest weg, meent Jacobs.
'Het zou toch ongelooflijk jammer zijn als dat zou verdwijnen, omdat actiegroepen willen dat er geen verhalen, fantasien en beelden meer circuleren over mensen met een donkergekleurde huid? Zouden Afrikanen dat echt willen, dat ze voortaan met de gom van politieke correctheid uitgewist worden of dat het leren geven uit de kindercultuur in Europa wordt geschrapt?'
SteekproefUit een steekproef kan de conclusie worden getrokken dat Zwarte Piet mag blijven. Het AD legde de vraag voor aan 155 mensen met een donkere huidskleur, in alle grote steden in de Randstad. Wat blijkt: 85 procent heeft geen enkel probleem met Zwarte Piet. 24 ondervraagden vinden inderdaad dat de kompaan van Sinterklaas afgeschaft moet worden, maar 131 mensen hebben geen enkel probleem met de traditie.
UitnodigingintochtGroningen wil Shepherd dan ook alle gelegenheid bieden om vast te stellen dat het Sinterklaasfeest een kinderfeest is dat heel veel mensen vooral veel plezier bezorgt. Vandaag of morgen ontvangt Shepherd post vanuit de stad met daarin een uitnodiging om aanwezig te zijn bij de landelijke intocht van Sinterklaas op 16 november.
Er zitten volgens wethouder Joost Van Keulen wel nogal wat consequenties aan zo'n bezoek, onder meer met betrekking tot de veiligheid. 'Daarover moeten we met de politie in gesprek. Als ze de uitnodiging aanvaardt en daadwerkelijk komt.'
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVERENRapporteer een fout in het artikel aan onze redactieMeer overgerelateerd nieuwsMeer over(C) 2013 De Persgroep Digital. Alle rechten voorbehouden.Lees de gebruiksvoorwaarden. - Privacy
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Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:16
IntroductionThe World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban in 2001, adopted the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. This document records a commitment by States to work together to eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is a comprehensive and action-oriented road map, offering a functional common approach to realize the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action specify that a victim-oriented approach is an important tool to eliminate racial discrimination. Specific reference is made to Africans and people of African descent, Asians and persons of Asian descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, minorities, the Roma and others.
Paragraph 7 of the Durban Programme of Action specifically "requests the Commission on Human Rights to consider establishing a working group or other mechanism of the United Nations to study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the African Diaspora and make proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent".
The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established by Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/68 of 25 April 2002.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 14:18
An 1833 illustration of former slaves in Barbados celebrating the passing of the emancipation law. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Leaders of more than a dozen Caribbean countries are launching a united effort to seek compensation from three European nations for what they say is the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.
The Caribbean Community, a regional organisation, has taken up the cause of compensation for slavery and the genocide of native peoples and is preparing for what would likely be a drawn-out battle with the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands.
It has engaged the British law firm of Leigh Day, which waged a successful fight for compensation for hundreds of Kenyans who were tortured by the British colonial government during the so-called Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and 1960s.
Lawyer Martyn Day said his first step would probably be to seek a negotiated settlement with the governments of France, Britain and Netherlands along the lines of the British agreement in June to issue a statement of regret and award compensation of £19.9m to the surviving Kenyans.
"I think they would undoubtedly want to try and see if this can be resolved amicably," Day said of the Caribbean countries. "But I think the reason they have hired us is that they want to show that they mean business."
Caricom is creating a reparations commission to press the issue, said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been leading the effort.
The legacy of slavery includes widespread poverty and under-development, Gonsalves said. Any settlement should include a formal apology, but contrition alone would not be enough, he said.
"The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient," he said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "We have to have appropriate recompense."
The notion of forcing the countries that benefited from slavery to pay reparations has been a decades-long quest. Individual countries including Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda already have national commissions.
Earlier this month, leaders from the 14 Caricom nations voted unanimously at a meeting in Trinidad to wage a joint campaign that those involved say would be more ambitious than any previous effort.
Each nation that does not have a national reparations commission agreed to set one up, sending a representative to the regional commission, which would be overseen by prime ministers. They agreed to focus on Britain on behalf of the English-speaking Caribbean, France for the slavery in Haiti and the Netherlands for Suriname.
Caribbean officials have not mentioned a compensation figure but Gonsalves and Verene Shepherd, chairwoman of the national reparations commission in Jamaica, both noted that Britain at the time of emancipation in 1834 paid £20m to British planters in the Caribbean, the equivalent of £200bn now.
"Our ancestors got nothing," Shepherd said. "They got their freedom and they were told 'Go develop yourselves'."
The British high commissioner to Jamaica, David Fitton, said in a radio interview on Wednesday the Mau Mau case was not meant to be a precedent and that his government opposed reparations for slavery.
"We don't think the issue of reparations is the right way to address these issues," Fitton said. "It's not the right way to address an historical problem."
In 2007, marking the 200th anniversary of the British prohibition on the transportation of slaves, then prime minister Tony Blair expressed regret for the "unbearable suffering" caused by his country's role in slavery.
After the devastating Haitian earthquake in January 2010, then French president Nicolas Sarkozy was asked about reparations for slavery and the 90m gold francs demanded by Napoleon to recognise the country's independence. Sarkozy acknolwedged the "wounds of colonisation" and pointed out that France had cancelled a 56m debt to Paris and approved an aid package that included 40m in budget support for the Haitian government.
Gonsalves said much more needed to be done and he hoped to begin an "honest, sober and robust" discussion with the European governments soon, championing the issue when he takes over as chairman of Caricom in January.
"You have to seize the time," he said.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:20
Professor Verene Shepherd a fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society, is University Director of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies and Professor of Social History at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. She has had a long association with the women's movement and a track record of research on gender issues. She was the Faculty of Arts Representative on the Board for Gender & Development from 1996-1998 and Faculty Representative, Women and Development Studies Group from 1989-1991. She has contributed to other aspects of university life. For example during the period 2004 '' 2006 she served as a member of the Mona Campus Strategic Transformation Team.
Professor Shepherd is the host of ''Talking History'' on Nationwide 90 FM and member of the United Nation's Working Group of Experts on People of African descent. She is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Caribbean Historians and was the first woman to chair the Board of Trustees of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (2006-2007)
A graduate of the UWI, Mona and the University of Cambridge, where she read for her PhD in history, Professor Shepherd's research interests are Jamaican Economic History during slavery (especially the history of non-sugar activities); Migration and Diasporas, and Caribbean Women's history; and she has published widely on these topics. Among her publications (sole-authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited are Livestock, Sugar & Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica (2009); I Want to Disturb My Neighbour (2007); Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean (2002) and Engendering History: Caribbean Women in Historical Perspectives (1998). She also writes for High School students, producing, with Hilary McD Beckles. Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems (2004) and Freedoms Won: Caribbean Emancipations, Ethnicities and Nationhood (2006). Both Professor Shepherd and Professor Beckles were also very instrumental in ensuring that Lucille Mathurin Mair's path-breaking PhD thesis, ''A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica,'' written in 1974, was finally published in 2007.
She is a member of several international organizations (e.g.she is a Steering Committee Member of the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development) and sits on the Advisory/Editorial of several local and international journals including the Arts Journal, Caribbean Quarterly, Jamaica Journal, Slavery and Abolition. She has also held postdoctoral and research fellowships at several universities, among such fellowships being the DuBois-Mandela-Rodney Fellowship, Center for Afro-American & African Studies, University of Michigan.
A much sought after speaker, she has presented numerous seminar and conference papers and delivered many public lectures locally, regionally and internationally; and she has been the recipient of several awards, including the Jamaica National Heritage Trust Award for contribution to Jamaican history and heritage and the Africana Studies distinguished African Award (2007) from Florida International University.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:17
Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African DescentMs. Shepherd, a social historian, has been teaching courses on gender, slavery and migration and their human rights application at the University of West Indies in Jamaica since 1988.
Her doctoral dissertation from the University of Cambridge, now a published book, focused on the enslavement and exploitation of people of African descent in Jamaica.
She is currently University Director of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies and hosts a radio programme ''Talking History''.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:35
Vanaf februari volgend jaar beheert niet langer uw bank uw domiciliringen, maar wel de leveranciers die de facturen uitschrijven. Maar vrees niet, u hoeft de controle op de betalingen niet te verliezen. U beschikt over voldoende wapens om niet-gewenste betalingen onmogelijk te maken.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 20:21
Earlier this month, we reported on the arrest and indictment of a Washington state couple that had been selling on The Silk Road, the infamous Tor-enabled online market.
This week it was revealed that one of the two, Steven Lloyd Sadler, was also a federal informant. Sadler was behind the "Nod" account on Silk Road, one of the top seller accounts on the site, according to the government.
On Monday, The Smoking Gun cited an audio recording from Sadler's October 2 court hearing, in which a government prosecutor told the judge that ''Mr. Sadler has been cooperating, working for the government for the past two months.'' But Sadler's cooperation with the government ''abruptly came to an end this morning,'' apparently ''through reasons unrelated to [Sadler],'' the prosecutor added.
Sadler's hearing date was just one day after Silk Road suspect Ross Ulbricht was arrested in California. That same day, the site was shuttered'--Ulbricht's own case seems to have thrown a wrench into Sadler's cooperation.
Sadler's Bellevue condo was raided on July 31, 2013, not long after authorities performed a controlled buy via the ''Nod'' account. There, investigators seized heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, a .45 caliber pistol, and more. The Smoking Gun also published a court document showing that Sadler had violated his bond conditions.
Sadler'--who has an extensive recent history of drug abuse'--was ordered not to use any controlled substances while on pretrial release. He admitted violating those terms about ten days later by using Suboxone, an opiate inhibitor, that was prescribed to a roommate. He also acknowledged using methamphetamine the morning of his October 2 arraignment and heroin one day earlier.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 03:29
Malware that takes computers hostage until users pay a ransom is getting meaner, and thanks to the growing prevalence of Bitcoin and other digital payment systems, it's easier than ever for online crooks to capitalize on these "ransomware" schemes. If this wasn't already abundantly clear, consider the experience of Nic, an Ars reader who fixes PCs for a living and recently helped a client repair the damage inflicted by a particularly nasty title known as CryptoLocker.
It started when an end user in the client's accounting department received an e-mail purporting to come from Intuit. Yes, the attached archived zip file with an executable inside should have been a dead giveaway that this message was malicious and was in no way affiliated with Intuit. But accounting employees are used to receiving e-mails from financial companies. When the receiver clicked on it, he saw a white box flash briefly on his screen but didn't notice anything else out of the ordinary. He then locked his computer and attended several meetings.
Within a few hours, the company's IT department received word of a corrupt file stored on a network drive that was available to multiple employees, including the one who received the malicious e-mail. A quick investigation soon uncovered other corrupted files, most or all of which had been accessed by the accounting employee. By the time CryptoLocker had run its course, hundreds of gigabytes worth of company data was no longer available.
"After reading about the ransomware on reddit earlier this week, we guessed [that it was] what we were dealing with, as all the symptoms seemed to be popping up," Nic, who asked that his last name not be published, wrote in an e-mail to Ars. "We went ahead and killed the local network connection on the machine in question and we were immediately presented with a screenshot letting us know exactly what we were dealing with."
According to multiple participants in the month-long discussion, CryptoLocker is true to its name. It uses strong cryptography to lock all files that a user has permission to modify, including those on secondary hard drives and network storage systems. Until recently, few antivirus products detected the ransomware until it was too late. By then, victims were presented with a screen like the one displayed on the computer of the accounting employee, which is pictured above. It warns that the files are locked using a 2048-bit version of the RSA cryptographic algorithm and that the data will be forever lost unless the private key is obtained from the malware operators within three days of the infection.
"The server will destroy the key after a time specified in this window," the screen warns, displaying a clock that starts with 72:00:00 and counts down with each passing second. "After that, nobody and never will be able to restore files. To obtain the private key for this computer, which will automatically decrypt files, you need to pay 300 USD / 300 EUR / similar amount in another currency."
None of the reddit posters reported any success in breaking the encryption. Several also said they had paid the ransom and received a key that worked as promised. Full backup files belonging to Nic's clients were about a week old at the time that CryptoLocker first took hold of the network. Nic advised them to comply with the demand. The ransomware operators delivered a key, and about 24 hours later, some 400 gigabytes of data was restored.
CryptoLocker accepts payment in Bitcoins or through the MoneyPak payment cards, as the following two screenshots illustrate.
The outcome hasn't been as happy for other CryptoLocker victims. Whitehats who tracked the ransomware eventually took down some of the command and control servers that the operators relied on. As a result, people on reddit reported, some victims who paid the ransom were unable to receive the unique key needed to unlock files on their computer. The inability to undo the damage hit some victims particularly hard. Because CryptoLocker encrypted all files that an infected computer had access to, the ransomware in many cases locked the contents of backup disks that were expected to be relied upon in the event that the main disks failed. (The threat is a graphic example of the importance of "cold," or offline backup, a backup arrangement that prevents data from being inadvertently overwritten.)
Several people have reported that the 72-hour deadline is real and that the only way it can be extended is by setting a computer's BIOS clock back in time. Once the clock runs out, the malware uninstalls itself. Reinfecting a machine does nothing to bring back the timer or restore the old encrypted session.
Earlier this year, researchers from Symantec who infiltrated the servers of one ransomware syndicate conservatively estimated that its operators were easily able to clear $5 million per year. No wonder CryptoLocker has had such a long run. As of last week, more than three weeks after it was first published, the reddit thread was still generating five to 10 new posts per day. Also a testament to the prevalence and staying power of CryptoLocker, researchers from security firms TrendMicro and Emsisoft provided technical analyses here and here.
"This bug is super scary and could really wipe the floor with lots of small businesses that don't have the best backup practices," Nic observed. "Given the easy money available to scam operators, it's not hard to see why."
Image courtesy of Peas.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 15:05
EDIT MAJOR UPDATE!- It looks like most, if not all, of the news leaks are coming from a single reporter at Gawker named "ADRIAN CHEN." a recent email by another user to Adrian Chen, asking for information about his sources, was replied back "fuck off. Adrian Chen is known for pretending to have cancer, to teach reddit a lesson. A few other news links, including the claim of a "jail house interview" came from Ryan Mac at Forbes. Chen and Mac are apparently good buddies......headshot
Please spread this as much as possible!
For any Law enforcement or fellow hackers who wish to dive deeper, the IP of "nod" aka jmk aka silkroad admin is 220.127.116.11
How hard would it be to blackmail a government official or bribe them? History shows time and time again, not very. Most government employees are underpaid and will jump at a chunk of money tossed to them.
Any Ice.gov sites with "doclib" in the url should be ignored as likely backdoors, and proven very easy to alter these documents.
JMK is know to own a lamp server which he uses to rotate IP's while running multiple instances of an automation reddit script in many different VM windows to game the vote system.
Where does one even start when uncovering one of the largest digital scams of our lifetime? It's going to be tough, but here we go'...
I have one rule and one rule only; while you read my confession; remember that $80,000,000 is on the table. Think about what you can buy, and who you can buy, with that kind of money.
I first realized something under handed was going on when I read this post from a Silk Road Moderator telling a new account to FE for ''SuperTrips.'' SuperTrips was a known ''selective scammer'' notorious for only sending out a 25% of actual orders. Super trips offered a ''no FE, and reship or 100% refund if tracking does not show delivered.'' What shocked many on Silk Road was, when SuperTrips was taken to the resolution center, he would refuse to show tracking, or any evidence he even shipped a package, and support would award him 100% of the transaction. Any other vendor had to produce tracking or proof of shipment; otherwise a 50/50 split was always in place. Upon investigation, I found that the only accounts who actually ever received anything from SuperTrips, were accounts who ONLY bought from SuperTrips and ALWAYS had a 100% success rate. They are what many refer to as ''shill'' accounts; fake accounts whose only purpose is to falsely inflate the credibility of a vendor. SuperTrips was not a real vendor, and he was not located in Germany. He was a Scam account propped up by the Silkroad staff for extra revenue, he never actually shipped anything. His score was always so 100% because, again he was extra revenue for Silkroad, and they had the key to the ratings meter. I can safely claim that many of the ''major'' scammers were actually nothing more than silkroad staff. They always waited days before even thinking about banning an apparent scammer raking in thousands, but had no problem banning several small time vendors the second they stepped out of line. Thurgood is another great example. The official ruling on Thurgood, after making away with $56,000 was ''he was never banned; he was demoted for out of escrow transactions''
In the very last days leading up to the ''server seizures'' very blatant and obvious cash grab starts to occur by staff. People were suddenly finding their BTC were completely drained, and not just a couple of people, many people reported accounts with funds zeroed out, pins not working, and accounts just plain not working. After doing the math, the ''customer support'' section of the forums received a 85% increase in pins, coins, and account problems. It would seem someone wanted to stop any amount of BTC from leaving the site.
On the day of the seizure, the Silkroad URL redirects you to a seizure notice. a very strange seizure notice.
You see, never once in the history of FBI site seizures has the** FBI ever put a sites logo in the background of a seizure notice.** What was even more interesting, was that the notice used a high quality logo unable to be found by anyone else despite an hour of searching, until a random user popped in and said ''I found it in 2 minutes by using Google.'' No, you did not. I spent 30 minutes staring at Google images, and I found nothing.
Another confusing aspect of this whole elaborate scam, is the media's acceptance of obvious photo shopped pictures for show casing DPR's ''normal life''
The mouth which comes from this photo is one shameful mistake.
the lighting and shadowing on this heavily modified picture is all fucked up.
Nearly every single photo of ross you find on google has a huge amount of Photoshop mistakes in it.
WTF is going on with his ears
But by far, the largest support for my argument is the youtube video ''Interview with Rene Pinnell and Ross Ulbricht.'' Go to the video, open it in full screen, and stare, STARE at Ross's nose. His nose is constantly being edited.
I believe I know whose face they are using as a template. After hours of searching one night, I connected this person with an account belonging to one of the staff members of the silk road. Notice the ears, and the nose. This photo was taken months ago, so I believe whoever this person may be may have gotten a gastric lap band surgery or something. Evidence of this is how chunky "ross" is in the interview video. He also helped Jmkogut move.
Jmkogut, until very recently (actually hours after I questioned him about that picture) was head moderator for r/silkroad, before deleting his account. A quick history search of the r/silkroad sub shows Jmk opening the sub two weeks before Silkroad actually opened. A week into the opening the sub was falsely banned by a Reddit admin because he thought they were using the actual sub to set up deals. A few days later Jmkogut cleared it up with admins over in r/request and the sub was unbanned. I first become watchful of jmkogut one day while we were talking about my suspicions that the admins over at the road were scammers in IRC, he mentioned something about using AMAZON cloud servers as a proxy, interested I did a quick IP check and sure enough, he was talking to me from a amazon hosted server. When JM joined IRC he always had a bot running on a different server. The bot was pretty much a automation bot to run the many of his several different IRC channels he hosted. I asked him ''so you have two separate servers? What does the IRC bot run off of?'' jmkogut replied back ''he's on a old computer on my home network.'' Being the curious cat I always am, I checked the location of the servers IP; Bellingham, WA.
The recently arrested ''heroin'' dealer nod, who, if many of you will remember, was heavily protected by DPR when a poster tried to expose his attempted ''cocaine cartel'' to the general forums, sent out all of his packages from Bellingham WA'... What are the odds?
The same odds that if you call the jail that DPR is being held at, the staff will inform you the current listing for Ross Ulbricht is false, and bugged into the system and cannot be removed. Try it. I will leave you with this. The FBI has not made a single official comment via any of their press channels. Many claim because of the government shut down. The FBI media relations team has updated nearly every day before, and since the arrest of dpr. On the day of DPRS arrest, the San Francisco FBI office put out a official new release proclaiming, ''Former Vice President of Finance Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme and Tax Evasion.''
Several updates since the day of his arrest and not a single one mention or hints about silk road, or about even arresting the largest drug kingpin in the world.
What would you do for $80,000,000?
FYI, sheepsmarket and BMR are owned by the same group of scammers that owned silkroad. More on that when I open my new web page dedicate to exposing silkroad.
you don't poke a bear
Current price $233
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:29
De Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) start een studie naar de mogelijkheden van het ADHD-middel Rilatine om stotterende volwassenen te behandelen. De onderwijsinstelling wil naar aanleiding van Wereldstotterdag dinsdag extra aandacht besteden aan stotteren en zoekt proefpersonen voor het onderzoek.
Drie kwart van de behandelde mensen die stotteren stottert niet meer als ze volwassen zijn, maar voor de mensen die op volwassen leeftijd wel nog stotteren, is er nog geen oplossing. De vakgroep huisartsengeneeskunde van de VUB start daarom samen met de afdeling neurolinguistiek van de Franstalige ULB een onderzoek om ook die categorie te kunnen helpen.
Op dit moment wordt stotteren behandeld met stottertherapie bij een logopedist(e). In de literatuur is echter een hypothese gemaakt over ontwikkelingsstotteren waarbij een stof in de hersenen (dopamine genaamd) een cruciale rol zou spelen in de spraak- en bewegingsstoornissen die met stotteren geassocieerd zijn.
Twee jaar geleden werd in een Belgisch onderzoek een rapportage gedaan over een ernstige stotteraar waarbij zijn stotteren heel erg verbeterde na eenmalige inname van methylfenidaat, een stof die in Belgi wordt geproduceerd onder de naam Rilatine.
Met deze studie wil de VUB onderzoeken of de inname van de stof methylfenidaat de ernst van het stotteren ook kan verminderen bij een grotere groep proefpersonen of dit enkel het geval was bij die ene persoon uit die Belgische studie van twee jaar geleden. De onderzoekers zijn nu op zoek naar volwassen stotteraars die een eenmalige dosis Rilatine willen innemen om het effect op stotteren te onderzoeken. Zij kunnen zich aanmelden via www.stotteraar.be .
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:04
Get a flu shot to ward off a case of influenza, and as an added bonus you'll reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke or other type of unpleasant ''cardiovascular event,'' a new study finds.
For some time, researchers have suspected that flu shots can protect heart health as well as respiratory health. They have tested this theory in a handful of clinical trials, and the results have been mixed.
Now an international group of researchers has compiled data from a dozen randomized clinical trials to see if they could get a clearer answer to the question. What they found was ''a consistent association between influenza vaccination and a lower risk of cardiovascular events,'' according to their report in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
Five of the trials the team examined were published in peer-reviewed journals and compared a flu vaccine to a placebo vaccine or other type of control. In those trials, 3,238 patients got a real vaccine and 95 of them '' 2.9% '' went on to experience ''a major adverse cardiovascular event,'' the JAMA report said. For the sake of comparison, 3,231 patients in those trials got a placebo or control and 151 of them '' or 4.7% '' later had a cardiovascular event, according to the study.
That translates into a 36% reduced risk of a serious heart problem simply by getting a flu shot '' something everyone over the age of 6 months should be doing anyway. Based on these figures, the researchers calculated that one death or serious illness due to heart trouble could be prevented by vaccinating 58 additional people.
Three of the trials the researchers examined focused on patients with coronary artery disease. Some of those patients had recently experienced acute coronary syndrome, and they benefited the most by getting a flu shot. Patients who got the vaccine were 55% less likely to have a serious heart problem than patients in the control groups, the researchers found. The team calculated that for these patients, only eight additional people would need to get a flu shot in order to prevent one case of death or serious illness.
When the researchers considered cardiovascular deaths on their own, they found no statistically significant difference between the 1.3% of people who died after getting a flu shot and the 1.7% who died after being assigned to a placebo or control group.
Experts aren't sure why the flu increases the risk of serious heart problems, but they have their theories. It may cause a plaque that has built up inside the arteries to rupture, or it may cause the heart muscle to become inflamed, among other possibilities. Knowing what's going on inside the body would help figure out who would get an extra boost from a flu shot, and why.
Even with those uncertainties, the conclusion that a flu shot can protect patients with heart disease is convincing, according to an editorial that accompanies the study in JAMA.
''The estimate of 1.7 major cardiovascular events prevented for every 100 persons with cardiovascular disease vaccinated is plausible and would represent a significant public health benefit,'' wrote Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, a vaccine expert at PATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit that focuses on global health.
If you're interested in news that helps you stay healthy, you like the things I write about.Follow me on Twitter and "like" Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.
It works: HPV vaccine reduces infections by 56%, CDC says
Air pollution causes lung cancer, World Health Organization says
45% of Americans got a flu shot last year; CDC says we can do better
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:55
No Chinese government photos available, photo shown is of a similar aircraft crash.
Reports circulating in the Kremlin today are stating that a US government contracted airplane piloted by American CIA agents and carrying a cargo of a ''mutated''swine flu virus intended for aerial spraying was shot down at China's Shanghai Pudong airport by a saboteur team of what are believed to be Israeli Mossad soldiers seeking to prevent an American attack upon one of their Central Asian bases located in the Central Asian Nation of Kyrgyzstan.
According to Chinese media reports on this incident the stricken Zimbabwean MD-ll plane, owned by the CIA linked Avient Aviation company operated by a former British military officer named Andrew Smith and registered in the UK, killed 3 American CIA agents and injured 4 other personal who are reported to be from United States, Indonesia, Belgium and Zimbabwe.
Most interesting to note in these reports on the victims of this plane shootdown is that the Indonesian man currently being treated for his injuries has 'confessed' to Chinese secret police forces that he is a technician employed by the United States Navy at their mysterious Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2 (NAMRU-2) located in Indonesia that Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono had previously called for the closing of ''because its operations were too secretive and were incompatible with Indonesia's security interests.''
Even more interesting to note about this US Navy secret bio-weapons base in Indonesia (the World's largest Muslim Nation) was its establishment in cooperation with the Rockefeller Institute, especially with it being the main center for the Americans Viral Diseases Program (VDP) they describe as the research of ''epidemiologic and laboratory research on viral hemorrhagic fevers, influenza, encephalitis, and rickettsioses'' and the head of this institute, David Rockefeller, long calling for a massive reduction in our World's population.
And to the agenda currently underway to radically change our World through the mass death of its population we need look no further for its explanation than David Rockefeller's own words he spoke before the secretive Trilateral Commission in June, 1991, when he said:
''We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practiced in past centuries.''
To the United States employing planes to spread a mutated swine flu virus around the World we have further reports from China, and as we can read:
''June 26 Suspicious aircrafts were forced to land. A US operated AN-124 changed its call sign from civillian to military which then triggered a response from the IAF upon entering Pakistani air space, the plane was forced to land in Mumbai while the second one was forced down by Nigerian figther jets that also arrested the crew.
According to reports China (China's People's Liberation Army Air Force) contacted the Indian and Nigerian intelligence officials about the presence of these US operated Ukranian aircrafts amidst growing concern that the United States were spreading ''biological agents'' in the Earth's atmosphere also which some Chinese officals believed to be a attempt to mass genocide via the spread of h1n1 swine flu.
The strange thing about these reports and arrests as well as the forcing down of the planes were that these aircrafts were carrying ''waste disposal'' systems that could spray up to 45000kg or 100pounds of aerial type mist from sophisticated network of nano pipes that led throughout the trailing edges of the wings thereby dispersing whatever was in these tanks through a mist.''
Reports of these US planes over Ukraine have been reported as well, and as we can further read:
''Authorities in the town of Kiev, Ukraine denied any spraying of ''aerosolized medication'' by aircraft over the city. This after it was reported that light aircrafts were seen flying over the forest market area that sprayed a aerosol substance to fight h1n1 or swine flu.
5 Sources confirms this and the local newspapers of Kiev also received hundreds of phone calls from residents and business owners close to the area the planes were spraying the suspicious substance. Not only that but local businesses and retailers were ''advised'' to stay indoors during the day by the local authorities.
As if that is not enough, the government authorities also pushed the radio stations in Kiev to deny the reports. Online on forums, websites and blogs reports came in about eye witness accounts that confirms this. There was also reports of helicopters spraying aerosols over Kiev, Lviv, Ternopil and throughout Ukraine.''
Most disturbing of the effects of the spraying of this mutated swine flu virus over the Ukraine is the devastating toll it has taken on the people of that country, and as we can read:
''Almost 40 000 people got infected since yesterday in the Ukraine by what we still call the ''Ukraine plague'' but doctors have said recently that this is a stronger case of h1n1 or swine flu that has mutated and has that affect on the lungs where it destroys the lungs and fills it with blood.''
But, to the most horrible outcome of this mutated swine flu virus is the World Health Organization now reporting that it is killing people in France, Norway, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United States as the death toll from this Global Pandemic is now reported to be nearing 8,000 and China now reporting that this deadly disease has now crossed over into dogs.
Important to also note in these reports is that the US spray plane shot down in China was reported to be targeting a secret Israeli base located in the Central Asian Nation of Kyrgyzstan, which many Ashkenazi Jews (Ashkenazi Jews make up approximately 80% of Jews Worldwide) consider their 'spiritual homeland' after their long exile their under Soviet Communist rule, and where Russian Intelligence Analysts report the Israelis are nearing the end of their decades long deciphering of the ancient Epic of Manas manuscript (with close to half a million lines the Epic of Manas is twenty times longer than Homer's Odyssey and Iliad combined) that they believe contains our World's oldest warning to our present age and which (coincidentally?) agrees with the ancient Mayan peoples that the year of 2012 will see the ending of our present age.
To the final outcome of these events it is not in our knowing; other than to state the obvious, that the truths of these things are continued to be ignored, even scoffed at, by the very people whose extermination has been longed planned by these monsters and is now being carried out, and who still have no idea whatsoever how truly easy it has become for them to be controlled by their propaganda masters.
One can only hope that they awaken before all is lost for them, the facts suggest they won't.
VIEW THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:05
Months after whistleblowers accused the State Department of covering up employee sex scandals, most of the cases have been ignored or swept under the rug, critics charge.
Records show that staffers were given cushy jobs or allowed to retire, and watchdogs say the feds have hardly bothered to investigate since the shenanigans came to light this past summer.
''The first few days after the revelation, there was a whole lot of barking going on,'' said Damon Mathias, a lawyer for Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator with the department's inspector general who leaked an internal memo citing probes that were derailed by senior officials under then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
''Nobody's barking anymore. As a concerned citizen, what the hell is going on here?''
The bombshell memo detailed accusations that former Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman and members of Clinton's security detail hired prostitutes, but were given little more than wrist-slaps.
The Post also revealed allegations that former Naples Consul General Donald Moore romped with call girls and had torrid affairs with Italian employees.
But the alleged dalliances seem to have not hurt Moore's career.
He left his post as Naples consul general in June and now teaches at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala. '-- a position paid for by the State Department, according to a college spokesman.
In a case filed with the department's Office of Civil Rights, former consul officer Kerry Howard claims Moore harassed her after she tried to expose his hanky-panky at the Naples office.
Howard's lawyer, Lawrence Kelly, is asking the IG to investigate allegations of financial misconduct and accusations that Moore had an affair with a language instructor.
Here's what has become of other employees named in the IG memo.
Chuck Lisenbee, a former Beirut security officer who was being probed for allegedly sexually assaulting local guards, is now a special agent in Washington for the Office of Diplomatic Vehicles, Enforcement and Outreach, according to a State Department phone directory. Agents were only given three days to investigate the allegations against him, according to the memo.Brett McGurk '-- a former senior adviser to the ambassador to Iraq '-- was appointed the deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran in August, according to the State Department Web site. He was President Obama's nominee for ambassador to Iraq but withdrew after his extramarital affair with a Wall Street Journal reporter was exposed.According to the memo, investigators never interviewed McGurk because Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, intervened.Gutman was allowed to retire in July. A State Department investigator found Gutman solicited ''sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,'' according to the memo. The IG's Office is reviewing the charges and the department's procedures and plans to release a followup report.The State Department is calling the misconduct charges ''baseless.''
''We await the findings of [the new] report, and we believe that given our knowledge of the facts, some may well regret sensationalizing baseless allegations in ways that hurt innocent people,'' said department spokesman Alec Gerlach.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 23:42
LONDON '-- In the telling of some American officials, the C.I.A. drone campaign in Pakistan has been a triumph with few downsides: In more than 300 missile attacks there since 2008, dozens of Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and the pace of the strikes, which officials frequently describe as ''surgical'' and ''contained,'' has dropped sharply over the past year.
But viewed from Miram Shah, the frontier Pakistani town that has become a virtual test laboratory for drone warfare, the campaign has not been the antiseptic salve portrayed in Washington. In interviews over the past year, residents paint a portrait of extended terror and strain within a tribal society caught between vicious militants and the American drones hunting them.
''The drones are like the angels of death,'' said Nazeer Gul, a shopkeeper in Miram Shah. ''Only they know when and where they will strike.''
Their claims of distress are now being backed by a new Amnesty International investigation that found, among other points, that at least 19 civilians in the surrounding area of North Waziristan had been killed in just two of the drone attacks since January 2012 '-- a time when the Obama administration has held that strikes have been increasingly accurate and free of mistakes.
The study is to be officially released on Tuesday along with a separate Human Rights Watch report on American drone strikes in Yemen, as the issue is again surfacing on other fronts. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a vocal critic of the drone campaign, is to meet with President Obama in the White House. And on Friday, the drone debate is scheduled to spill onto the floor of the United Nations, whose officials have recently published reports that attacked America's lack of transparency over drones.
But nowhere has the issue played out more directly than in Miram Shah, in northwestern Pakistan. It has become a fearful and paranoid town, dealt at least 13 drone strikes since 2008, with an additional 25 in adjoining districts '-- more than any other urban settlement in the world.
Even when the missiles do not strike, buzzing drones hover day and night, scanning the alleys and markets with roving high-resolution cameras.
That is because their potential quarry is everywhere in Miram Shah '-- Islamist fighters with long hair, basketball shoes and AK-47 rifles who roam the streets, fraternize in restaurants and, in some cases, even direct traffic in the central bazaar. The men come from an array of militant groups that take shelter in Waziristan and nearby, including Al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
The militants' commanders, however, are more elusive. Some turn up at the town's phone exchange, to place ransom calls to the families of kidnapping victims who have been snatched from across Pakistan. Others run Islamic-style courts, filling the place of the virtually invisible government system. Still others stay completely out of sight, knowing they are being sought by the C.I.A.
In theory, the Pakistani security forces should be in charge. A sprawling base, with a long airstrip that is home to a fleet of American-made Cobra helicopter gunships, dominates the northern part of the town. Military engineers have just completed a new road that leads to the Afghan border, 10 miles to the north.
But apart from sporadic exchanges of fire with the militants, the soldiers are largely confined to their base, leaving residents to fend for themselves.
Unusually for the overall American drone campaign, the strikes in the area mostly occur in densely populated neighborhoods. The drones have hit a bakery, a disused girls' school and a money changers' market, residents say. One strike occurred in Matches Colony, a neighborhood named after an abandoned match factory that is now frequented by Uzbek militants.
While the strike rate has dropped drastically in recent months, the constant presence of circling drones '-- and accompanying tension over when, or whom, they will strike '-- is a crushing psychological burden for many residents.
Sales of sleeping tablets, antidepressants and medicine to treat anxiety have soared, said Hajji Gulab Jan Dawar, a pharmacist in the town bazaar. Women were particularly troubled, he said, but men also experienced problems. ''We sell them this,'' he said, producing a packet of pills that purported to treat erectile dysfunction under the brand name Rocket.
Despite everything, a semblance of normal life continues in Miram Shah. On market day, farmers herding goats and carrying vegetables stream in from the surrounding countryside. The bustling bazaar has clothes and food and gun shops.
Communication, however, is difficult. The army disabled the cellphone networks, so residents scramble to higher ground to capture stray signals from Afghan networks. And Internet cafes were shut, on orders from the Taliban, after complaints that young men were watching pornography and racy movies.
That ban distressed families that use the Internet to communicate with relatives working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and across the Persian Gulf states. Emigrant remittances are a cornerstone of the local economy.
On the edge of town, where buildings melt into low, tree-studded hills, young boys play soccer on the banks of the Tochi River. As in so many other countries, some youngsters wear the jersey of the English soccer club Manchester United.
But the veneer of normality is easily, and frequently, shattered. Every week the streets empty for a day as army supply trucks rumble through. The curfew is strictly enforced: several children and mentally ill residents who have strayed outside have been shot dead, several residents said.
In the aftermath of drone strikes, things get worse. Many civilians hide at home, fearing masked vigilantes with the Ittehad-e-Mujahedeen Khorasan, a militant enforcement unit that hunts for American spies. The unit casts a wide net, and the suspects it hauls in are usually tortured and summarily executed.
Journalists face particular risks. In February, gunmen killed Malik Mumtaz Khan, the president of the local press club. Some blame Pakistani spies, while others say the Taliban are responsible.
Meanwhile state services have virtually collapsed. At the local hospital, corrupt officials are reselling supplies of medicine and fuel in the town market, doctors said. At the government high school, pupils are paying bribes to cheat in public exams '-- and threatening teachers with Taliban reprisals if they resist, one teacher said.
The collapse has created business opportunities for Taliban spouses: one commander's wife is a gynecologist, while an Uzbek woman works as a homeopath, the pharmacist said.
For some residents, the only option is to leave. Hajji, a 50-year-old businessman, moved his family to the port city of Karachi in 2011. His family was scared by militant pamphlets that threatened to execute American spies, he said, and the militants prevented his children from obtaining polio vaccinations.
''They think vaccinators are spies who are looking for militant hide-outs,'' he said during an interview in Karachi, agreeing to be identified only by part of his name.
For a number of outraged Pakistani officials, the drone debate has centered on claims of civilian casualties, despite American assurances that they have been few. In defending the drone strikes, which have sharply decreased this year, American officials note that the operations have killed many dangerous militants. One major militant killed this year was the Pakistani Taliban deputy, Wali ur-Rehman. He was killed at Chashma village, just outside Miram Shah, in May.
Still, in a speech announcing changes to the drone program in May, Mr. Obama admitted that mistakes had been made. Civilian deaths from drone strikes will haunt him, and others in the American chain of command, for ''as long as we live,'' he said.
He added, ''There must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.''
But the new Amnesty International report, which examines the 45 known strikes in North Waziristan between January 2012 and August 2013, asserts that in several cases drones killed civilians indiscriminately.
Last October, it says, American missiles killed a 68-year-old woman named Mamana Bibi as she picked vegetables in a field close to her grandchildren. In July 2012, 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed near the Afghan border.
Ms. Bibi's son, Rafiq ur-Rehman, and two of her injured grandchildren are due to travel to the United States next week to speak about their experiences.
''The killing of Mamana Bibi appears to be a clear case of extrajudicial execution,'' said Mustafa Qadri, the report's author, in an interview. ''It is extremely difficult to see how she could have been mistaken for a militant, let alone an imminent threat to the U.S.''
Declan Walsh reported from London, and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud from Miram Shah, Pakistan. Zia ur-Rehman contributed reporting from Karachi, Pakistan.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 00:38
Calls for Pakistan to seek justice for the victims; 926 civilians thought to be killed in drone strikes over 10 years
ISLAMABAD: Amnesty International called on the US to investigate reports of civilians killed and wounded by CIA drone strikes in Pakistan in a report released on Tuesday.
Amnesty said it was concerned that the attacks outlined in the report and others may have resulted in unlawful killings that constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes, even though the US insists the strikes are legal.
It provided details of the alleged victims of the attacks, including a 68-year-old grandmother hit while farming with her grandchildren.
Mamana Bibi's grandchildren told the London-based rights group that she was killed by missile fire on October 24, 2012, as she was collecting vegetables in a family field in the North Waziristan tribal area, a major militant sanctuary near the Afghan border. Three of Bibi's grandchildren were wounded in the strike, as were several others who were nearby, the victims said.
The US considers its drone programme to be a key weapon against terrorist groups that it says stages cross-border forays into neighboring Afghanistan. An even deadlier incident noted by the report titled ''Will I be next? US drone strikes in Pakistan'' occurred in North Waziristan on July 6, 2012. Witnesses said a volley of missiles hit a tent where a group of men had gathered for an evening meal after work, and then a second struck those who came to help the wounded, the rights group said.
Witnesses and relatives said that total of 18 male labourerswith no links to militant groups died, according to Amnesty. Pakistani intelligence officials at the time identified the dead as suspected militants.
The US did not respond to request for comment on the strike. President Barack Obama said during a speech in May that the US does not conduct a drone strike unless there is ''near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.'' But Amnesty said the US is so secretive about the programme that there is no way to tell what steps it takes to prevent civilian casualties. They say it has ''failed to commit to conduct investigations'' into alleged deaths that have already occurred.
Several different organisations have tried to track the number of civilian casualties from nearly ten years of drone strikes in Pakistan, including the Long War Journal website, the New America Foundation think tank and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. These groups indicated that the attacks have killed between 2,065 and 3,613 people, the report said. Local media say up to 926 civilians were thought to be killed in these strikes.
''We cannot find any justification for these killings. There are genuine threats to the USA and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances,'' said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Pakistan researcher. ''But it is hard to believe that a group of laborers, or an elderly woman surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States.''
Many jihadi fighters have been eliminated, but neither the Pakistani government nor the United States releases details about those killed. The Pakistani Taliban effectively control North Waziristan, and offer safe havens to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban who are fighting Nato troops across the border.
Residents told Amnesty that Afghan Taliban fighters often passed through the area and that some locals were supportive. Most of the time, the dead are militants although their rank is often unclear, residents, militants and Pakistani security sources have told Reuters. Government officials frequently say militant groups have killed 40,000 Pakistanis since 2001. Amnesty called on the US to comply with its obligations under international law by investigating the killings documented in the report and providing victims with ''full reparation''.
The US carried out its first drone strike in Pakistan in 2004 and has carried out nearly 350 more since then, the majority of which have been in North Waziristan. President Barack Obama significantly ramped up attacks when he took office in 2009, and the number peaked the following year with over 100 strikes. The frequency has steadily dropped since then, partly because of growing tension between Pakistan and the US. There have only been around two dozen strikes so far this year.
''Amnesty International is also extremely concerned about the failure of the Pakistani authorities to protect and enforce the rights of victims of drone strikes,'' said the report. ''Pakistan has a duty to independently and impartially investigate all drone strikes in the country and ensure access to justice and reparation for victims of violations.''
Amnesty said victims they interviewed with no apparent connection to militant groups have either received no compensation or inadequate assistance from the Pakistani government.
The top political official in North Waziristan gave Bibi's family around $100 to cover medical expenses for the children injured in the strike, even though the total cost to the family, including loss of livestock and repairs to their home, was around $9,500, the rights group said. None of the victims in the attack on the labourers received compensation, Amnesty said.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry praised the report's criticism of the drone program, telling Geo TV that ''our point of view is being acknowledged internationally.'' He didn't comment on Amnesty's criticism of the Pakistani government.
The US drone policy sets a dangerous precedent ''that other states may seek to exploit to avoid responsibility for their own unlawful killings,'' said Amnesty.''The USA and Pakistan both have obligations under international law to investigate these and any other cases where unlawful killings might have occurred, and deliver justice,'' said the report. ''But the USA persistent's refusal to acknowledge these strikes, coupled with Pakistan's ambiguous attitude towards the drone program and limited governance in the tribal areas, make it almost impossible for victims to secure the redress they need.''
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also published a separate report on drones on the eve of White House talks between US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
According to HRW, the US has carried out 80 targeted operations in Yemen since 2009, including strikes from drones, warplanes and cruise missiles '' killing at least 473 people.Its report examined six US attacks on suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which Washington regards as the global jihadist network's most dangerous affiliate.
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:48
President Obama's speech Monday morning was briefly interrupted when a young woman standing behind him appeared to come close to fainting. The president turned around to make sure she was alright, saying, "I got you, you're ok," before she was helped away by others nearby.
The woman, identified as Karmel Allison, suffers from Type 1 diabetes. She also announced on her blog last week that she is pregnant.
"This is what happens when I talk too long," Obama joked before wrapping up his speech.
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:49
JAY CARNEY: I think it is absolutely accurate to say that the volume far exceeded our expectations, and that the volume has driven the problems that we've seen and exposed some of the problems that we now know about. No one would argue with the assertion that there was an underestimation of the kind of volume that we were going to see. Obviously that demonstrates the very important and real fact that millions of Americans are very interested in affordable health insurance that had not existed before, but it's also the case that the models that were in place that tested the wesbtie did not account for this type of volume, and that the volume that we saw instantly on the first day, and ever since, have both led to these problems and also exposed some of the glitches and kinks that the president talked about today, which is why we're taking the actions that we're taking today to improve the user experience.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:23
PARKER COUNTY, Texas There was little chance of defeat when Aledo's undefeated Bearcats faced Fort Worth's Western Hills on the football field Friday.
The final score, 91-0, though, led one parent to file an official complaint of bullying against the entire coaching staff, reports CBSDFW.com.
Aledo ISD administrators say the complaint suggests the coaches should have told players to take it easy on the competition.
"I would never ask our kids not to play hard," said Aledo football coach Tim Buchanan. "I would never tell them, 'Go out and let them score.' That's not what you want to teach kids."
Buchanan said by halftime, when his team was up 56 points, he began actively trying to keep the score down, subbing in backup players, letting the clock run continuously, and instructing players to make fair catch calls.
"You don't want to embarrass... I've been on the other side of those scores. In 2011, Lake Travis scored 62 points on us. That doesn't feel good. It doesn't make the kids feel good," said Buchanan.
As for the bullying allegations, Aledo Superintendent Derek Citty said the district is following the same procedure it does with all bullying complaints. "We have to do an investigation and make sure there's no legitimacy to it."
The superintendent said, however, he's confident his coaches acted appropriately... something the football staff has asserted all along. "There was nothing unfair about it [the score] other than the fact that our players were better than their players," Buchanan said.
CBS 11 calls made to the Western Hills coaching staff were not returned.
Aledo ISD administrators are hopeful the University Interscholastic League (UIL) will place them in a different district next year, matching them against tougher competition.
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 20:09
Washington, DCMonday, October 21, 2013
President Obama delivers remarks from the White House Rose Garden on the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act. The President addresses the recently opened enrollment website.
Updated:4 hr., 4 min. ago
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:25
Viewers of TV ads for medications interpret the listing of negative side effects as a sign of trustworthiness of the advertiser. Erika Beras reports.
More 60-Second ScienceSubscribe via iTunes
[List of side effects for a fake prescription drug in a parody of a TV ad.] Medications come with long lists of potential side effects. Now a study finds that the litany of unpleasant consequences does not deter prospective purchasers. In fact, those warnings might actually increase drug sales.
For the study, subjects were shown two different versions of ads for three different products: cigarettes, artificial sweeteners and medications.
One version of the ads clearly warned of potential perils'--for example, hair loss, weight gain or stroke. The other set of ads were warning-free.
Subjects who saw ads with warnings were initially less likely to buy the products. But when surveyed again some time later, they were actually more likely to make the purchase than were those who saw ads without the warnings. The study is in the journal Psychological Science. [Yael Steinhart, Ziv Carmon and Yaacov Trope, Warnings of Adverse Side Effects Can Backfire Over Time]
The researchers say after some time goes viewers of the ads interpret the listing of negative side effects as a show of good faith: a sign of trustworthiness. Who would have thought you could increase demand with...nausea, diarrhea, bloating, etc'...
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast]
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 10:00
NEW: Democratic senator urges Obama to extend enrollment, delay "mandate" penaltySebelius: Obama didn't know of issues, despite companies' complaints, crash during test runDelaying the website's launch was "not really an option," Sebelius saysShe tells CNN an "A-Team" of experts coming in, 3 weeks after launch(CNN) -- President Barack Obama didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website -- despite insurance companies' complaints and the site's crashing during a test run -- until after its now well-documented abysmal launch, the nation's health chief told CNN on Tuesday.
Rough Obamacare rollout: 4 reasons why
In an exclusive interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked when the President first learned about the considerable issues with the Obamacare website. Sebelius responded that it was in "the first couple of days" after the site went live October 1.
"But not before that?" Gupta followed up.
To which Sebelius replied, "No, sir."
Sebelius admitted that there is concern in her department and the White House over the technical debacle surrounding the website rollout, saying "no one could be more frustrated than I am and the president." The site was supposed to make it simple for people to search and sign-up for new health care policies starting on October 1, but instead it's been clunky and, at times, inoperable.
"We're not at all satisfied with the workings of the website," Sebelius said. "We want it to be smooth and easy and let consumers' compare plans."
Obama: No 'sugarcoating' problems with website
She noted how a team of high-tech experts from within the government and from Silicon Valley, and led by Jeff Zients -- a former CEO and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, who will oversee the process for the next few months -- is coming to help address the issues. Their arrival was announced earlier Tuesday.
Why weren't they brought in before the website launched October 1?
"We (had) hoped that they had their 'A-Team' on the table" from the start, Sebelius said of the contractors and agencies responsible for the project.
As to now, "We want new eyes and ears. We want to make sure that we get all the questions on the table, that we get all the answers and accelerator the fix as quickly as possible."
The secretary attributed some of the problems to "extremely high" volume, claiming nearly 20 million people came to the Obamacare website in the first three weeks after its launched. Yet only a fraction of those have signed up for new health care policies; Sebelius said Tuesday that 500,000 accounts had been created, but that doesn't mean all those people enrolled in a plan.
Obamacare applications near half million
It's not like no one saw this coming. A number of insurance companies complained of problems ahead of the October 1 launch, and the website crashed during a test run although just a few hundred users were on it.
Despite the issues, the Obama administration went forward with the website.
Report: Site failed ahead of rollout
"There are people in this country who have waited for decades for affordable health coverage for themselves and their families," said Sebelius, explaining why the launch wasn't pushed back. "...So waiting is not really an option."
Opinion: Obamacare a disaster that needs fixing
Republicans -- who, even before the website's launch, had made targeting the program a centerpiece of their agenda, even initially insisting they wouldn't vote to fund the entire government unless Obamacare was defunded or delayed -- have been vociferous critics.
They claim that the website's woes show that Obama's administration and the federal government generally aren't capable of executing what the GOP says was an ill-advised program from the get-go.
"God only knows how much money they've spent, and it's a failure," Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leading Republican in the Senate, said Sunday on CBS. "The government isn't going to be able to get this job done correctly."
On the other side, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire sent a letter to Obama asking that the open enrollment period be extended past March 31, 2014, and that he consider delaying assessment of a penalty to individuals who don't sign up for any health insurance before the so-called "individual mandate" kicks in.
"As you continue to fix problems with the website and the enrollment process, it is critical that the administration be open to modifications that provide greater flexibility for the American people seeking to access health insurance," Shaheen wrote.
Even the man whose name is forever tied to the health care reform has been critical, insisting Monday there's "no excuse for the problems" while at the same time insisting these should not equate to blanket condemnation of the Affordable Care Act as a whole.
"Nobody's madder than me about the website not working as well as it should," Obama said, "which means it's going to get fixed."
Several top Republicans -- including 2012 vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan -- have called on Sebelius herself to step down due to the program's problems. The secretary skirted questions Tuesday about whether she'd step down, saying only that she works "at the pleasure of the president" and is committed to her job.
"I think my job is to get this fully implemented and to get the website working right," Sebelius told Gupta. "And that's really what I'm focused on."
While refusing to give a timetable Tuesday as to when the website will be fully operational, Sebelius insisted "it's improving every day, and more people are getting through."
"More people are having an easier time," she said, "and we intend to stay at this until we open the door's wide open."
Rubio calls for delay of Obamacare sign-up deadline
And it's too early to call the rollout a failure, the health secretary argued. There's a long way to go for people to take advantage in person, by calling or by using the website during the open-enrollment period.
When that six-month stretch is over, Sebelius said, people can make more valid judgments as to whether this part of Obamacare is a success or failure.
CNN Fact Check: Obamacare
Sebelius, rather than being disheartened by the website criticisms, says that what's happened so far leaves her optimistic.
"What we're seeing in not only the states that are run by the federal website, but states around the country, is that interest is huge," she said. "People are eager to have this affordable product, and that product is there."
Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 10pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 02:31
Jeremy Scahill spoke out for the first time on Thursday about the much-hyped website he is launching with fellow journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
News of the site, which does not have a name yet, leaked on Tuesday, when BuzzFeed reported that Greenwald was departing the Guardian to help run the new venture. It soon emerged that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar was backing the site, and that Scahill and Poitras would be a part of it. (Omidyar is also the founder of Honolulu Civil Beat, which is partnering with The Huffington Post on its HuffPost Hawaii site.)
Speaking to German interviewer Tilo Jung, Scahill said that he, Greenwald and Poitras had been talking about starting a "serious investigative journalism site" for a while.
"We were trying to think of a place where we could do more quick response journalism, to put things out in more detail," he said. Luckily for the three reporters, Omidyar, and his deep pockets, came calling. Scahill said that the site would hire "really exciting" young journalists, as well as veterans.
He also cautioned that the project was still in its "strategic" stages.
"We all deal in the world of leaks," he said. "Someone leaked that we were doing this. "I don't know who it was. I'm not happy about it, but I don't have the power to prosecute them like Obama does.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 03:40
Despite Ron Insana's insta-dismissal of all things "Austrian", and Maria Bartiromo's scoffing at his comments, Mark Spitznagel (who most recently discussed the problems we face here, here and here) ventured on to the unreality channel this afternoon and much eyebrow-raising ensued. Spitznagel, author of The Dao of Capital , explained why he believes "the market is setup for a major crash," and expects a 40% decline in stocks. The current market "entirely artificial" environment driven by zero-interest-rates and central bank asset purchases, along with valuations and sentiment, has distorted the 'markets' in the same way as "in all other major tops in history." His investing advice is simple, "step aside!" But doesn't expect many to heed his proven advice, because, "it is the hardest thing to do right now, "and makes you look like a fool."
"this notion of a 'catalyst' for the decline is false"...
If you prefer your business media with a sense of reality - the following 210 seconds is must watch!
As Spitznagel noted previously,
Our fear of corrective crashes is misplaced. They are necessary purges to clear the financial system of unhealthy mal-investment and to allow the redistribution of resources to stronger industries. I would argue that had the government followed this path in 1929, there would have been a garden-variety recession '-- not a Depression.
Unfortunately, we have labored under faulty assumptions and failed logic, particularly since 2008-2009. This is the legacy that Bernanke leaves not only to his successor, but to all of us.
What we must learn from history is that the government should stop suppressing the natural, homeostatic functions of the market. Otherwise, the "cure" will prove deadlier than the disease.
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Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:18
A report published by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced, for the first time, that air pollution causes lung cancer.
It puts air pollution in the same category as tobacco smoke, UV radiation and plutonium.
Previously only specific components of air pollution, such as diesel exhausts, were implicated in cancers.
Sources of air pollution include car exhausts, power stations and factories '' as well as heating in people's homes.
The World Health Organisation said the classification should act as a strong message to governments to take action.
According to the Deputy Head of International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) Dana Loomis, the agency was tasked with evaluating the quality of today's air.
The group reviewed thousands of studies on air's composition, and after examining decades worth of data, the IARC announced that both air pollution and ''particulate matter'' are now Group 1 carcinogens.
He said: ''There is a concentration of high pollution through Asia, but also in Africa, which may be surprising. In China and in India, much of what we see is due to coal burning '' it's industry and all the industrial development that's taking place in those countries.
`''Here in northern Africa of course it's mostly desert with few people, and the particulate pollution that we see there is from wind-blown desert dust '' so it's quite different in character from the pollution that's coming from industry.''
The agency said the most recent data suggested 223,000 deaths from lung cancer around the world were caused by air pollution.
More than half of the deaths were thought to be in China and other East Asian countries.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 02:19
New evidence indicates that the USA has carried out unlawful killings in Pakistan through drone attacks, some of which could even amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said in a major new report released today.
The report, '''Will I be next?' US drone strikes in Pakistan'', is one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the US drone program from a human rights perspective.
It documents recent killings in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas and the almost complete absence of transparency around the US drone program.
''Secrecy surrounding the drones program gives the US administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law. It's time for the USA to come clean about the drones program and hold those responsible for these violations to account,'' said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Pakistan Researcher.
''What hope for redress can there be for victims of drone attacks and their families when the USA won't even acknowledge its responsibility for particular strikes?''
The report was released in a joint news conference with Human Rights Watch, which issued its own report on drone and other air strikes in Yemen.
Amnesty International reviewed all 45 known drone strikes that took place in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan between January 2012 and August 2013. The region that has seen more strikes than any other part of the country.
The organization conducted detailed field research into nine of these strikes, with the report documenting killings, which raise serious questions about violations of international law that could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions. In October 2012, 68-year-old grandmother Mamana Bibi was killed in a double strike, apparently by a Hellfire missile, as she picked vegetables in the family's fields while surrounded by a handful of her grandchildren.
In July 2012, 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in multiple strikes on a impoverished village close to the border with Afghanistan as they were about to enjoy an evening meal at the end of a long day of work.
Contrary to official claims that those killed were ''terrorists'', Amnesty International's research indicates that the victims of these attacks were not involved in fighting and posed no threat to life.
''We cannot find any justification for these killings. There are genuine threats to the USA and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances. But it is hard to believe that a group of labourers, or an elderly woman surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States,'' said Qadri.
International law prohibits arbitrary killing and limits the lawful use of intentional lethal force to exceptional situations. In armed conflict, only combatants and people directly participating in hostilities may be directly targeted. Outside armed conflict, intentional lethal force is lawful only when strictly unavoidable to protect against an imminent threat to life . In some circumstances arbitrary killing can amount to a war crime or extrajudicial execution, which are crimes under international law.
Amnesty International also documented cases of so-called ''rescuer attacks'' in which those who ran to the aid of the victims of an initial drone strike were themselves targeted in a rapid follow-on attack. While there may have been a presumption that the rescuers were members of the group being targeted, it is difficult to see how such distinctions could be made in the immediate and chaotic aftermath of a missile strike.
The USA continues to rely on a ''global war'' doctrine to attempt to justify a borderless war with al-Qa'ida, the Taliban and those perceived to be their allies.
The USA's promise to increase transparency around drone strikes, underscored by a major policy speech by President Barack Obama in May 2013, has yet to become a reality, and the USA still refuses to divulge even basic factual and legal information.
This secrecy has enabled the USA to act with impunity and block victims from receiving justice or compensation. As far as Amnesty International is aware, no US official has ever been held to account for unlawful killings by drones in Pakistan.
In addition to the threat of US drone strikes, people in North Waziristan are frequently caught between attacks by armed groups and Pakistan's armed forces. The local population lives under constant fear of inescapable violence by all sides.
The US drone program has added to local suffering, with people in the region now also living in terror of death from US drones hovering in the skies day and night.
''The tragedy is that drone aircraft deployed by the USA over Pakistan now instill the same kind of fear in the people of the tribal areas that was once associated only with al-Qa'ida and the Taliban,'' said Qadri.
As the report documents, local men and women have little control over the presence of groups like the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in their villages and districts.
Al-Qa'ida-linked groups have killed dozens of local villagers they accused of being spies for US drone strikes. Residents of Mir Ali told Amnesty International that bodies are routinely seen dumped by the side of streets with written messages warning that anyone accused of spying for the USA will meet the same fate.
Residents also told Amnesty International they could not report abuses by armed groups to local authorities for fear of retaliation. Many residents were also fearful of talking about drones strikes to Amnesty International. Some of those who did speak openly received threats afterwards.
While the Pakistan government maintains it opposes the US drone program, Amnesty International is concerned that some officials and institutions in Pakistan and in other countries including Australia, Germany and the UK may be assisting the USA to carry out drone strikes that constitute human rights violations.
''Pakistan must provide access to justice and other remedies for victims of drone strikes. The authorities of Pakistan, Australia, Germany and the UK must also investigate all officials and institutions suspected of involvement in US drone strikes or other abuses in the tribal areas that may constitute human rights violations,'' said Qadri.
''The Pakistani authorities must disclose information on all US drone strikes they have documented and what measures they have taken or will take to assist victims of these strikes.''
The report also documents the failure of the Pakistan state to protect the human rights of people in North Waziristan. This ranges from deaths, injuries and displacement of residents due to bombardment by the military, to the absence of justice mechanisms and lack of adequate medical assistance. The Pakistani authorities have a very poor record in bringing al-Qa'ida, Taliban and other perpetrators of human rights abuses from the region to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are jointly calling on the US Congress to fully investigate the cases the two organizations have documented and other potentially unlawful deaths, and to disclose any evidence of human rights violations to the public.
Amnesty International is calling on:
The US authorities to:
Publicly disclose the facts and legal basis for drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and information about any investigation into killings by US drones.Ensure prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.Bring those responsible for unlawful drone strikes to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.Ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members of victims of unlawful killings, have effective access to justice, compensation and other remedies.The Pakistani authorities to:
Provide adequate access to justice and reparations for victims of US drone strikes and attacks by Pakistan forces, and seek reparations and other remedies for drone strikes from the US authorities.Bring to justice, in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, individuals responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses in North Waziristan. This should include US drone strikes, attacks by the Pakistan armed forces, or groups like the Taliban and al-Qa'ida.Publicly disclose information on all US drone strikes that the Pakistani authorities are aware of, including casualties and all assistance provided to victims.The international community to:
Oppose US drone strikes and other killings that violate international law and urge the USA and Pakistan to take the measures outlined above. States should officially protest and pursue remedies under international law when lethal force is unlawfully used by the USA or other states.Refrain from participating in any way in US drone strikes that violate international law, including by sharing intelligence or facilities.
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:21
LOL - this is too funny. Obviously this guy is a "joke" for lack of better terms. First, if he had any clue of Top Secrets and such - he would know about NDP's (Non-disclosure Packs). Now why would I bring this up?
Well ... anyone that has been "honored" to sign one of these understands that they are LEGAL and they are .. well rather specific as to what "RIGHTS" you just signed away if you break them. IE: Right to a trial by jury or judge.
Now, that being said - the idiot gives his full name right upfront. **BLINKS** Obviously, this is a joke, because anyone with a supposed "Dr" in their name, let alone with the supposed "CLEARANCE" he claims to have .. would know -- DO NOT GIVE YOUR FRACKING NAME!! -- This guy is talking from a script handed to him, likely from some geek that wouldn't know an NDP from a PIG (no not an animal) - look it up. ;)
Sorry just more .. well ... 'silly saber rattling' to see if anyone "jumps" - the only jumping is laughter from those of us who know this is silly.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 21:55
A nurse treats a cholera patient at the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in August. Health officials say that the strain of cholera circulating in the country'-- the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago '-- has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty ImagesA nurse treats a cholera patient at the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in August. Health officials say that the strain of cholera circulating in the country'-- the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago '-- has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty ImagesA South Asian strain of cholera that was introduced into Haiti three years ago this month has now spread to this continent's mainland.
Mexico is the fourth Western Hemisphere country to experience the cholera outbreak. It's a disease that's very hard to stamp out once it gets into an area with poor water and sanitation.
Mexican health officials first picked up on the problem Sept. 9, through routine surveillance of hospital cases of severe diarrhea. Since then there have been 171 reported cases in Mexico City and states to the north and east. One victim has died.
Dr. Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, says it was all but inevitable that cholera would spread beyond the Caribbean. "It was always a major concern that it would be exported to other countries, as has recently happened in Mexico," he tells Shots.
Since it was introduced into Haiti '-- very likely by United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal who were billeted at a camp with poor sanitary facilities '-- cholera has sickened 715,000 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (which share the island of Hispaniola) and Cuba. Nearly 9,000 have died.
Andrus fully expects it will spread further. "We are advocating throughout the region for countries to be on their guard," he says.
Cholera is thought to have invaded Cuba via infected health personnel who work in Haiti and travel back and forth. Cuba has reported nearly 700 cholera cases and three deaths, although many are skeptical that that nation is fully reporting the extent of its outbreak.
Andrus says vacationers visiting Cuba '-- who probably got cholera from contaminated food '-- have exported the disease to Chile, Venezuela, Italy, Germany and Holland. So far those cases haven't touched off outbreaks. But as the Mexican epidemic shows, it can easily happen if an imported case contaminates water or food in an area with poor sanitation.
"You have those situations throughout Latin America," he notes. "We are the region of the greatest disparities."
The last time the Americas saw a major cholera epidemic was 22 years ago. It was allegedly brought by a ship that discharged its bilge water in a Peruvian port. The disease spread all the way up the continent, sickening more than 1 million people and killing 10,000 or so, until it hit the U.S.-Mexican border. There it was stopped by modern water- and sewage-treatment facilities in the United States.
Andrus says PAHO is worried this latest epidemic will have a similar impact.
"It's really, for us, a defining moment," he says. "To what extent are we concerned about spread? Well, it's really a regional threat and now a global threat to health."
It took Mexico more than 10 years to bring its last cholera epidemic under control. This time sanitary conditions are better, so it might not take that long. But Andrus says it won't be easy to stamp out.
"It won't be 10 years, [but] it won't be days or weeks," he says.
Dr. Maureen Birmingham, PAHO's representative in Mexico, writes in an email to NPR that authorities there are monitoring the population for spread of cholera and focusing on prompt treatment of affected people, along with providing clean water and sanitary facilities to vulnerable communities.
Birmingham says Mexico is not currently considering use of an oral cholera vaccine that was approved last year by the World Health Organization for use in outbreaks. The WHO has reportedly stockpiled about 1 million doses of the vaccine, which costs $1.85 a dose and requires two doses.
In any case, the cholera vaccine is a stopgap measure. All public health authorities agree the only real solution is clean water and adequate sewage treatment. And many of them hope the current outbreak will stimulate major efforts to bring clean water and sanitation to the hemisphere's poorest communities.
"Cholera's one of those infections that catches attention in a way that few infections do '-- plague, Ebola, pandemic influenza, cholera," says Dr. Edward Ryan of the Massachusetts General Hospital. "It's one of those ones that everybody sort of sits up straight for. It is one of the ones that tests the system."
But Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti points out that the United Nations has found only 10 percent of the $2.4 billion it says it needs to rid Haiti and the Dominican Republic of cholera over the next 10 years.
"Right now 10 percent of the funding is probably not enough even to get started," Concannon tells Shots. "And so the U.N. needs to feel some serious pressure to do a more serious job of raising the money."
Concannon's group is trying to do just that. Earlier this month it filed suit against the U.N. in U.S. District Court for its alleged role in introducing cholera to Haiti. Filed on behalf of cholera victims, the action seeks, among other things, to force the U.N. to raise the money to stamp out cholera on Hispaniola.
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:21
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that President Barack Obama was not made aware of the problems plaguing his signature health care program's website before it's launch.
The president learned of the glitches in ''the first couple days'' after the site went live October 1st, Sebelius told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an exclusive interview.
''But not before that?'' Gupta asked.
''No, sir,'' she replied.
'' Scroll down for video ''
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, for and event with President Barack Obama on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul. Obama acknowledged that the widespread problems with his health care law's rollout are unacceptable, as the administration scrambles to fix the cascade of computer issues. (AP/ Evan Vucci)
The HHS secretary also begrudgingly admitted to Gupta that the Obama administration should have perhaps brought in the ''A-team'' to work on the website before they launched it.
''Why didn't they bring the 'A-team' in the first place?'' Gupta asked.
''I can't tell you why they '--,'' Sebelius said before Gupta interjected and pressed the HHS secretary for a firm answer.
''We had hoped they had their 'A team' on the table, but I am talking to CEOs and encouraging them to make sure that we have the talent they have available,'' she said.
Sebelius, however, said she is not considering resigning from her position as a result of the glitchy rollout.
''I work at the pleasure of the president,'' she told Gupta.
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Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:46
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Wed, 23 Oct 2013 23:49
Updated October 24, 2013 07:35:36
Former US vice-president and environmentalist Al Gore says there is a proven link between climate change and bushfires.
This week, a United Nations official said the devastating fires in New South Wales proved the world is "already paying the price of carbon".
Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed the comment on Wednesday, accusing the official of "talking through her hat".
He argued that "fire is a part of the Australian experience" and not linked to climate change.
"Climate change is real, as I've often said, and we should take strong action against it, but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change - they're just a function of life in Australia."
But Mr Gore, a Nobel laureate for his work to fight climate change, has told the ABC's 7.30 that climate change will bring about more extreme weather.
"Bushfires can occur naturally, and do, but the science shows clearly that when the temperature goes up, and when the vegetation and soils dry out, then wildfires become more pervasive and more dangerous.
"That's not me saying it, that's what the scientific community says."
Christina Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, also criticised the Abbott Government's direct action plan to tackle climate change as being potentially "much more expensive" than the carbon pricing scheme that it is moving to dump.
Her views were echoed by Mr Gore, who says emergencies like the NSW bushfires can influence the public and how they can shape the political debate.
"Hurricane Sandy, $60 billion in damages, caused a dramatic change in the message the public was sending to politicians in both parties (about climate change)," he said.
"The meaningful way to solve this crisis is to put a price on carbon, and in Australia's case to keep a price on carbon.
"The price needs to be at a level that's effective, and you can give the money right back to the people if you want, but we need to have the market send accurate signals so that we get the encouragement for the renewable systems of energy that are becoming cheaper all the time.
"Within less than seven years, more than 85 per cent of the world's people will live in regions where solar electricity will be available at a price equal to or cheaper than the price of electricity from burning coal."
Mr Gore says powerful special interest groups are preventing governments around the world from properly tackling climate change.
"The energy companies, coal companies particularly, have prevented the Congress of the US from doing anything meaningful so far from doing anything about the climate crisis," he said.
"It reminds me of politicians here who got a lot of support from the tobacco companies and who argued to the public that there was absolutely no connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.
"For 40 years the tobacco companies were able to persuade pliant politicians within their grip to tell the public what they wanted them to tell them, and for 40 years the tragedy continued."
Topics:bushfire, climate-change, federal-government, world-politics, nsw, australia, united-states
First posted October 23, 2013 20:48:28
Wed, 23 Oct 2013 09:34
A ute gutted by bushfire in the historic township of Newnes Junction, north of Lithgow.
The Rural Fire Service says explosives training by Defence personnel caused the State Mine fire which has ripped through more than 47,000 hectares of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.
The Defence Department has declined to respond, except to say it has been investigating whether the blaze started because of explosives training at the Marrangaroo Training Area, which backs on to state forest just north of Lithgow.
An RFS spokesman has confirmed the fire started on the Defence range on Wednesday, and that explosive devices on the range sparked the blaze.
Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons later said he had spoken to the Defence Department about the report's findings.
"I've got to tell you it was from very public comments early on that they were open and said, 'we may have started this and we'll work with the authorities'. That's what they're doing," he told a press conference.
"I don't think anyone's shying away from how this fire started. What we did do was an investigation to confirm the speculation that was around early on last Wednesday.
"Our investigation was simply a gathering of the facts. Where did the fire start, how did it start, end of story."
Local businesses have told the ABC a plume of smoke appeared over the Defence facility in the early afternoon on the day the blaze began.
Some have reported hearing explosions after the fire began, and one local RFS member has told the ABC firefighters struggled to enter the site and fight the fire immediately, because of concerns about live shells.
The State Mine fire has destroyed at least three homes and threatened many others since it began on Wednesday.
There was no total fire ban that day in Lithgow, where the temperature hit a maximum of 23 degrees Celsius.
A total fire ban was declared the next day - the day fires in the Blue Mountains and across NSW destroyed and damaged more than 200 homes.
Blue Mountains Mayor 'not happy'Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill says he is "not happy" that Defence appears to have caused the Lithgow blaze.
"I would have hoped that on a day like that, which was a dry day, a hot day with the winds, that the Australian military would have known it wasn't a good time to be igniting," he said.
"I understand that it wasn't a total fire ban but, gosh, it wasn't a good day to be doing that and while the Springwood fire was a separate fire, that fire itself has caused great concern to my community.
"It's done damage to my community and it just shouldn't have happened. Not happy at all."
Lithgow City Councillor Wayne McAndrew says more information is needed about how the fire got out of control.
"This needs to be looked at and questions need to be answered," he said.
NSW Premier urges public to remember good work by militaryNSW Premier Barry O'Farrell says he hopes public remembers the work the good military is doing to combat the fires.
"I can't add much more to what the Rural Fire Service and police have said," he said.
"But I also want to ensure that this doesn't detract from the efforts that Defence have made over the past week in assisting the state's emergency service battle these fires."
The Marrangaroo site was used as an ammunition storage depot for a number of decades from World War II, but now is used as a training facility where Defence personnel practice disposing of explosives.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:27
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Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:08
By Mick Krever, CNN
There is ''absolutely'' a link between climate change and wildfires, U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
Wildfires are raging in a ring around Sydney, Australia, as that country experiences its hottest year on record.
''The World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change '' yet,'' Figueres said. ''But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.''
Australia's new prime minister, Tony Abbott, has expressed deep scepticism about climate change, once even calling it ''absolute c**p'' (he has since walked those remarks back).
Abbott is trying to get rid of Australia's carbon tax and has dissolved its climate change commission.
''What the new government in Australia has not done is it has not walked away from its international commitment on climate change,'' Figueres told Amanpour. ''So what they're struggling with now is not what are they going to do, but how are they going to get there.''
The U.N. climate chief said that she believed the Australian government would pay a very high political and economic price for straying from the path established by the previous Labor government.
''We are really already paying the price of carbon,'' Figueres said. ''We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts.''
Proponents, Figueres included, believe that it is only by putting a tax on carbon '' on fossil fuels '' that the true cost of energy, taking into account the effect on the environment, can be reflected.
''We have very little time,'' she said. ''The important thing is that we still have time, although inasmuch as we delay, we are closing the window upon ourselves.''
Right now, Figueres said, emissions are still rising; humankind has to get past peak emissions by the end of the decade, she said, so that zero net emissions can be achieved by the second half of the 21st century.
''What we have seen are just introductions to the doom and gloom that we could be facing. But that's not the only scenario,'' she told Amanpour. ''We could '' as humankind '' we could take vigorous action and we could have a very, very different scenario. That's a scenario that is worth examining.''
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:34
10:28am '' No health information is provided as part of this process, don't let GOP scare you away from ACA and Healthcare.gov
10:25am '' Mr Pallone erroneously says over 30,000 people have applied for coverage through the exchanges in NY.
10:23am '' Mr Pallone HIPA does not apply to Healthcare.gov and ACA
10:23am '' Mr Pallone calls the process a monkey court; says he will not yield his time.
10:21am '' Blackburn who decided to add that to the source code? Ms Campbell: I cannot tell you that
10:18am '' Ms Campbell says she is aware of statement that says users have no privacy on Healthcare.gov in source code, says it was the choice of Center for Medicaid and Medicaire.
10:18am '' Mr Barton asking about license agreement in source-code that says persons using the website have no expectation of privacy
10:16am '' Dingell says we can work together on Healthcare.gov and ACA and Congress has the duty to work together and fix the site.
10:14am '' CGI Federal obtained question through competitive bidding process. CGI conducted testing prior to Oct 1st.
10:13am '' Dingell reading document into record stating a constituent of his makes only $12/hour and needs the website regardless of bugs.
10:12am '' unsuccessful/successful logs are kept by all partners. CMS says it will not hand over access/error logs without discussion first.
10:10am '' Mr Lau: Data physically stored/collected is scanned/converted to electronic images and the image is destroyed. Electronic images are kept in database and kept until key-entered; retained 30 days.
10:09am '' 80-100 servers passing information to/from the cloud (Answered by Ms Campbell)
10:08am '' 2,000 people have access to direct access to database
10:07am '' Mr Slavitt: Doubled capacity of registration tool
10:05am '' Ms Campbell: These types of problems are common in the marketplace, you fine-tune and continue to improve time after time.
10:03am '' Ms Campbell: Five million lines of code do not have to be re-written. Day of day improvements. Continuing to run queries against datbase, reviewing system logs, fine tuning servers, analyzing code for anomolies
10:02am '' Henry Waxman: Republicans wrong, healthcare cheaper today than ever. Costs not skyrocketing.