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Hornet's Nest

Executive Producers: Sir David Foley Duke of Silicon Valley, James Pyers, Dennis Stephens, Grand Duke Steven Pelsmaekers, Sir Dr. Sharkey, David Jullian, Simon Boyd

Associate Executive Producers: Gavin Bowd, Anthony Garlanger, Diane Holst

560 Club Members: Sir David Foley Duke of Silicon Valley

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Knighthoods: Dennis Stephens -> The Mile-High Knight, Jennifer--> Dame Jennifer

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No Agendroid

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33 from your purchase will be donated to the No Agenda Show!The No Agenda podcast airs live Thursday and Sunday at 9:00PST/12:00EST, hosted by Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak. The show is a free-flowing conversation that deconstructs recent news and media issues.

The various news stories, clips, emails, and documents that go into producing each episode are referred to as Shownotes, and are published by the No Agenda team online. No Agendroid enables easy browsing of each episode's Shownotes in addition to streaming episodes of the show in the background. News stories feature links to archived versions and original sources, audio clips can be played directly from the app, and other documents will open in your phone's appropriate default application.

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War on Men


War on Men-Thoughts

Don't complain about women on twitter board

Go after the top three evil male dominated, women discriminating organizations in the world:

Catholic Church

Jewish Temple

Mulsim Mosque

Sinead O'connor was right to tear the pope's picture

I wasn't awakened back then..



Reconcile dem women waxing profetic about the union between man and woman

What about the gay guys??


BBC News - Women 'better at multitasking' than men, study finds

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Fri, 25 Oct 2013 13:01

24 October 2013Last updated at11:02 ETBy James MorganScience reporter, BBC NewsIt is not a myth - women really are better than men at multitasking, at least in certain cases, a study says.

Men were slower and less organised than women when switching rapidly between tasks in tests by UK psychologists.

Both sexes struggled to cope with juggling priorities, but men suffered more on average, according to the paper in the journal BMC Psychology.

It says: "The question now is why? And is it all types of multitasking or only certain situations?"

Continue reading the main story''Start Quote"This suggestion does rankle a bit with men. But there's no point denying these differences exist''

End QuoteProf Keith LawsUniversity of HertfordshireThe researchers hope to encourage more research on a topic which they say has attracted "astonishingly few" studies - considering how often the "women vs men" debate crops up in conversation.

If men really are slower than women, it could have serious implications for how workplaces are organised, says co-author Dr Gijsbert Stoet, of the University of Glasgow.

"Multitasking is getting more and more important in the office - but it's very distracting, all these gadgets interrupting our workflow.

"It could be that men suffer more from this constant switching," he told BBC News.

Previous studies on gender and multitasking have drawn widely different conclusions.

One experiment in China found that women outperformed their male counterparts, while another in Sweden found that men may actually be better than women at multitasking when spatial tasks are involved.

To settle the argument, Dr Stoet and a colleague set out to compare women and men in a certain type of multitasking; the kind we use when faced with juggling many tasks in rapid succession - but not quite simultaneously.

Continue reading the main storyHow good are you at multitasking?Try the multitasking test used by Dr Gijsbert Stoet in his experiment.

These might include office workers who jump between incoming emails, phone calls and assignments, while running in and out of meetings. Another example might be parents in the household - cooking a meal while looking after young children and suddenly having to answer the phone.

First, they compared 120 women and 120 men in a computer test which involves switching between tasks involving counting and shape-recognition.

Men and women were equal when tasks were tackled one at a time. But when the tasks were mixed up there was a clear difference.

Both women and men slowed down, and made more mistakes, as the switching became more rapid.

But the men were significantly slower - taking 77% longer to respond, whereas women took 69% longer.

"This difference may seem small, but it adds up" over a working day or week, said Dr Stoet.

To make the experiment more relevant to everyday life, the researchers tried a second test.

A group of women and men were given eight minutes to complete a series of tasks - locating restaurants on a map, doing simple maths problems, answering a phone call, and deciding how they would search for a lost key in a field.

Completing all these assignments in eight minutes was impossible - so it forced men and women to prioritise, organise their time, and keep calm under pressure.

In the key search task in particular, women displayed a clear performance advantage over men, says co-author Prof Keith Laws, of the University of Hertfordshire.

"You can see from the drawings - women used methodical search patterns, like going round the field in concentric circles. That's a highly productive strategy for finding a lost object.

"Whereas some men didn't even search the whole field in any particular manner, which is just bizarre."

The reason, he observed, was that women were more organised under pressure.

"They spent more time thinking at the beginning, whereas men had a slight impulsiveness, they jumped in too quickly," said Prof Laws.

"It suggests that - in a stressed and complex situation - women are more able to stop and think about what's going on in front of them."

Altogether, they conclude that women "have an advantage over men" in multitasking, at least in certain situations.

"This suggestion does rankle a bit with men," Prof Laws explained.

"Men tell me this just doesn't ring true with their experience. They regale me with stories about how the greatest pilots in the RAF are men and they have to deal with lots of different incoming information all the time.

"And of course there are men who are experts. We'd never claim that all men can't multitask, or that only women can.

"But we'd argue the average woman is better able to organise her time and switch between tasks than the average man.

"There's no point denying these differences exist."

Psychologist Dr Dongning Ren of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the study was a useful addition to the scientific debate.

"In my own research, I found similar results, so this adds support for this conclusion," she told the BBC.

"Still, it is possible that for certain tasks, men might be better at multitasking. It may depend on the nature of the tasks - sequential or simultaneous."

In a world where people increasingly have to multitask, we need to help individuals adapt their roles to their abilities, said Prof Laws.

"Of course I don't think we should just assign women to roles where rapid switching is demanded," he explained.

Instead, employers should consider assessing individuals' ability in multitasking, as some firms already do.

"Because the truth is - people don't seem to be very good at assessing themselves," Prof Laws told BBC News.

"Studies show that men tend to think they're better at multitasking than they are in reality, and women tend to think they're worse than they really are.

"I think I am great at it, but my wife thinks I'm not."

If women really are better than men, the obvious question is why?

It could be that what Dr Stoet and Prof Laws observed is a learning effect - where people become expert multitaskers by practice.

But there are plenty of evolutionary theories too - such as the hunter-gatherer hypothesis.

This invokes a rather traditional image of women at home, cooking and tending to the infants, with men out doing so-called "linear" tasks such as chasing and killing prey.

"Put simply - if women couldn't multitask, we wouldn't be here," said Dr Stoet.

And interestingly - compared to our closest relatives, the apes, we are all terrible at multitasking - men and women alike.

If humans have "lost" this ability during evolution, it suggests that our simple, one-track minds could actually give us an advantage, Dr Stoet explained.

"Filtering out distractions helps us to achieve things we couldn't otherwise do. Like making fire," he said, offering a grain of comfort to those who find themselves on the wrong side of the divide.


IWMF | International Women's Media Foundation

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:50

Check out this #multimedia report on our website to learn more about our #NewYork celebration

Yesterday from IWMF's Twitter via HootSuite

Great photos of #IWMFcourage NY celebration on Flickr

Yesterday from IWMF's Twitter via HootSuite

"I refuse to be silenced." Edna Machirori (Video)

Yesterday from IWMF's Twitter via HootSuite

"If I quit my job because I'm afraid ,I won't be able to do anything in my life." - Bopha Phorn

Yesterday from IWMF's Twitter via HootSuite

"I would like to dedicate this award to all #Syrians who try to save our country"-Nour Kelze

Yesterday from IWMF's Twitter via HootSuite

Press Releases | OWL-National

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:50

Press ReleasesJanuary 30, 2012OWL Releases Menopause Survey Findings

Recently, OWL'' The Voice of Midlife and Older Women '' conducted a survey about women's knowledge about menopause and the amount and type of information available to them about this major life stage. Our survey identified a glaring information gap about this important health topic with many women, particularly younger women, lacking even basic information.

Click here for the full letter.

January 25, 2012OWL Responds to the President's State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama presented a number of proposals for strengthening the economy. OWL supports the President's efforts in the following key areas.

Click here for the full press release.

September 14, 2011OWL Calls for National Campaign to Demystify Menopause

A new OWL survey of women showed women of all ages need more information about menopause, and that younger women, in particular, often lack even basic information about this major life stage.

Click here for the full press release.

July 29, 2011

As the deadline to raise the debt ceiling nears, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) is calling on Executive and Congressional leadership to address the deficit in a balanced way that would protect America's elders. The LCAO is a coalition of national not-for-profit organizations representing over 60 million older Americans.

Click here for the full press release.

July 8, 2011OWL Opposes Deal-making with Social Security Benefits

OWL is gravely concerned about news reports that President Obama is willing to cut Social Security benefits as a compromise to Republicans in exchange for closing tax loopholes.

Click here for the full press release.

June 21, 2011''Chained COLA: The Stealth Social Security Benefit Cut

Social Security is the largest part of income for most recipients; for almost 80% of them, it is half or more: for 60% it is more than half, for 30% it is all their income. A majority of them are women. The average benefit is $1100 a month.

Click here for the full press release.

June 21, 2011OWL'S Statement on Wal-Mart v. Dukes Supreme Court Ruling

A ruling by the United States Supreme Court in favor of WalMart, the world's largest retailer, was a major setback for women who seek to challenge gender discrimination in their jobs.

Click here for the full press release.

June 20, 2011OWL'S Statement on AARP and Social Security

The media has reported that AARP, one of the nation's largest lobbyists, was open to cuts in Social Security benefits as part of a long-term deal to extend the program's solvency. Although AARP has since called the report ''misleading,'' it remains unclear where the organization stands on this key issue.

Click here for the full press release.

1625 K Street NW Suite 1275 Washington, DC 20006 - Google Search

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:48

Volunteer | OWL-NationalOWL-The Voice of Midlife and Older Women 1625 K St, NW Suite 1275.Washington, DC 20006. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this emailaddress)Become a Member | OWL-NationalSend the form below to: OWL-The Voice of Midlife and Older Women 1625 KStreet, NW, Suite 1275. Washington, D.C. 20006. Click here to download the form.Contact Us | OWL-NationalOWL-The Voice of Midlife & Older Women is located at: 1625 K St, NW Suite1275. Washington, DC 20006 Phone: 202.567.2606.[PDF] Mailing Address: 1625 K Street, NW, Suite 1275 City/State/Zip Code Cached14 Jul 2009 ... Mailing Address: 1625 K Street, NW, Suite 1275. City/State/Zip Code:Washington, DC 20006. Phone: (202) 496-1992 Fax: (202) 496-1977.Employment in Washington Mall DC | Reviews - CachedFind Employment in Washington Mall, DC on Yellowbook. ...1625 K St Nw Ste1275...Washington, DC 20006-1224 Map .... 1660 L Street Nw, Suite 608International Women's Media Cached1625 K Street NW, Suite 1275, Washington, DC, 20006. Phone: (202) 496-1992 |Fax: (202) 496-1977. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from ...[PDF] International Women's Media Foundation 1625 K Street, NW, Cached15 Dec 2008 ...1625 K Street, NW, Suite 1275. Washington, D.C. 20006. Phone: (202) 496-1992.Fax: (202) 496-1977. Email: REQUEST ...Washington k street - Washington, DC Yellow

Results 1 - 15 of 20 ...1625 K St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20006... 1150 17th St NW Suite 307,Washington, DC 20036 ...1275 K Street Investors LLC.CEPR... advisor for IMF's Research Department, at the semi-annual IMF/World Bankmeeting in Washington, D.C. Mark and Prakash's presentations can be foundhere ...Hotels / Resort Properties in ASAE: The Center for Association Cached... Doubletree Hotel Washington D.C./ Crystal City, Associated ...

GuideStar Exchange Reports for International Womens Media Foundation

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:48

Basic Organization InformationInternational Womens Media Foundation

Also Known As:IWMFPhysical Address:Washington, DC 20006 EIN:52-1648942Web NTEE Category:A Arts, Culture, and Humanities A30 Media, Communications Organizations R Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy R63 Censorship, Freedom of Speech and Press Issues R Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy R24 Women's Rights Ruling Year:1990 Sign in or create an account to see this organization's full address, contact information, and more!

Mission StatementThe International Women's Media Foundation is a vibrant global network dedicated to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press.

Expert AssessmentThere are no Expert Reviews for this organization. Learn more about TakeAction@GuideStar.Impact Summary from the NonprofitThe IWMF has a track record of developing innovative training that engages journalists in reporting on global issues that improves lives, developing leadership in the media, supporting press freedom and honoring courage in reporting the news.

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A multi-year analysis of key balance sheet, income statement, profitability and liquidity measures is available for this organization. Financial SCAN includes a detailed financial health analysis and peer comparison and benchmarking tool. Learn More

Key Financial SCAN FeaturesFinancial Health Dashboard: Highlights key financial trends and ratios for a selected nonprofit organization over a period of up to five years.Peer Comparison Dashboard: Compares the organization's financials with up to five peer nonprofits that you select.Graphical Analysis: Provides multi-year graphs and an interpretive guide in a format ready to present to your clients.Printable PDF Report: Provides a complete analysis of the organization for your records. The full report tells you what to look for and why it matters.Advanced Search: Allows you to search by EIN (Employer Identification Number), organization name, city, state, revenue, expenses, and assets.Revenue and ExpensesRevenue and Expense data from Forms 990 for 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 are included in the GuideStar Premium Report. Upgrade NowReport Added To Cart

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A multi-year analysis of key balance sheet, income statement, profitability and liquidity measures is available for this organization. Financial SCAN includes a detailed financial health analysis and peer comparison and benchmarking tool. Learn More

Key Financial SCAN FeaturesFinancial Health Dashboard: Highlights key financial trends and ratios for a selected nonprofit organization over a period of up to five years.Peer Comparison Dashboard: Compares the organization's financials with up to five peer nonprofits that you select.Graphical Analysis: Provides multi-year graphs and an interpretive guide in a format ready to present to your clients.Printable PDF Report: Provides a complete analysis of the organization for your records. The full report tells you what to look for and why it matters.Advanced Search: Allows you to search by EIN (Employer Identification Number), organization name, city, state, revenue, expenses, and assets.Forms 990 Provided by the NonprofitLeadershipLiza Gross


Since Feb 2009

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Program: Courage in Journalism AwardsBudget:--Category:Civil Rights, Social Action & AdvocacyPopulation Served:Female AdultsProgram Description:

It takes courage to report the news in many parts of the world. Each year, the International Women's Media Foundation honors that courage and promotes the importance of a free press with its Courage in Journalism Awards, the only international awards that recognize the bravery of women journalists. Nominees risk political persecution, physical injury and death in their efforts to expose corruption and champion human rights. For more information, visit

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Program: Leadership Institutes for Women JournalistsBudget:--Category:Population Served:Female AdultsProgram Description:

IWMF Leadership Institutes empower women in the news media to be successful in their careers. Leadership Institute programs take different forms in different countries. But their goal is to provide the training and the network for women who want to move up the career ladder.

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Program: Global Report on the Status of Women in the News MediaBudget:--Category:Population Served:Female AdultsProgram Description:

The Global Report on Women in the News Media is examining the structure of the news media industry worldwide from a gender perspective in order to document the career progress of women and use the results to advocate for change. Launched in 2009, this ground-breaking research will document where women stand in professional, decision-making and governance levels in the media industry. It will survey newspaper, broadcast and cable media companies in some 66 countries. Data are expected to illustrate the extent to which women have advanced in reporting, editing, producing and other news occupations, as well as in administrative, policy and governance levels. It will also identify factors which both contribute to as well as inhibit gender equality. Research will be conducted in 2009, with an anticipated publication date of spring 2010. For more information, visit

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Program: Reporting on Women and Agriculture: AfricaBudget:--Category:Population Served:Female AdultsProgram Description:

Reporting on Agriculture and Women: Africa promises to energize the way the media covers agriculture and rural development. Using a model developed during a four-year project on reporting on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria( , the IWMF's new initiative will train journalists in effectively covering agriculture and the role of women within agriculture and rural development. Goals include raising the quantity and quality of reporting on farming and rural development, focusing more of the reporting on the importance of women to the economics of rural areas, and creating more gender equality in newsrooms. The project will also highlight the critical role women play in agriculture and rural development. For more information, visit

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VIDEO-For 'Equal Pay Day', An ATM That Gives Less Money To Men -

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:45

As we've already found out, gender inequality exists in all parts of the world, but besides discriminative attitudes, women also suffer from wage discrimination.

According to statistics, women's earnings in the US ''were 77% of men's in 2011'', while in Switzerland, women earned ''roughly 20% less than equally skilled men in comparable positions''.

To highlight and promote 'Equal Pay Day', Swiss ad agency Publicis Zurich teamed up with the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) to create an ATM that dispenses less money to men.

In the video below, several men were outraged after finding themselves shortchanged by the ATM. However, they were quickly explained the significance of campaign, highlighting the plight of women and promoting 'Equal Pay Day'.

Watch the video below to find out more:

[via Creative Criminals]

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KILL MEN-Scarcity of college men leads women to choose briefcase over baby

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 04:21

Apr. 17, 2012 '-- American women today are more likely to earn college degrees than men with women receiving 57 percent of all bachelor's and 60 percent of all master's degrees. But are there consequences to having more women than men in college?

Research from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and University of Minnesota has found the ratio of men to women dramatically alters women's choices about career and family. When men are scarce, women delay having children and instead pursue high-paying careers.

"Most women don't realize it, but an important factor in a woman's career choice is how easy or difficult it is to find a husband," said Kristina Durante, assistant professor of marketing at the UTSA College of Business. "When a woman's dating prospects look bleak -- as is the case when there are few available men -- she is much more likely to delay starting a family and instead seek a career."

In one study, the researchers examined the ratio of single men to single women in each U.S. state and Washington D.C. They found that as bachelors became scarce, the percentage of women in high-paying careers increased, women delayed having children, and had fewer kids when they finally decided to start a family.

In another study on college campuses, the researchers led women to believe that there were either more men or less men on campus by having participants read one of two news article about the student population. When women read that there were fewer men than women on campus, they became more motivated to pursue ambitious careers rather than start a family.

"A scarcity of men leads women to invest in their careers because they realize it will be difficult to settle down and start a family," said study coauthor Vlad Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "In fact, the strongest effects were found for women who are least likely to secure a mate."

"Women who judged themselves to be less desirable to men -- those women who are not like Angelina Jolie -- were most likely to take the career path when men became scarce," added Durante.

This research highlights a sexual paradox associated with women's economic and educational advancement. "As women pursue more education and more lucrative careers when they can't find a husband, the ironic effect is that it will only get harder to find a husband as women become more educated and earn higher salaries," said Durante. "This is because a woman's mating standards keep increasing as she becomes more educated and wealthy, which further decreases the number of suitable mates. More than ever before, modern women are increasingly forced to make tough choices such as choosing briefcase over baby."


"The Godfather of Hipsterdom" doubles down: Feminism is making women miserable.

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Source: Dave says...

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:06

Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice and often described as ''The Godfather of Hipsterdom,'' kicked a hornets nest this week by suggesting that modern feminism has been detrimental to women.

''We've trivialized childbirth and being domestic so much that women are forced to pretend to be men. They're feigning this toughness. They're miserable,'' McInnes said in part during a contentious and expletive-laced exchange on a HuffPost Live panel on Monday.

McInnes received forceful push back from the panel, media and social media for his comments.

The founder of Street Carnage, however, explained in an interview with The Daily Caller that he has no regrets about what he said, and that his comments were in fact very pro-woman.

''I think the most interesting thing about this story is all the controversy it generated. I consider my comments pretty mundane and when I read them in context. I don't regret anything,'' he said. ''Every time I see my words quoted I go 'yeah!'

''That study that I cited was all over the news a year ago '-- Lou Dobbs covered it on CNN '-- it didn't seem to generate that much controversy when it came out, and all I did was cite that study and say a lot of women in the workforce would be happier at home. What is wrong with that?'' he asked.

McInnes said that the real reason his comments set off such a firestorm is that ''deep down'' women realize what he said is true.

''I think a lot of women smash through the 'glass ceiling' and get to where [men] are and they go, 'wait a minute, I thought you guys had brandy and went to strip clubs, you're going over expense reports?' And they see their friends from their small town with 3 kids going to soccer practice and they think, 'That looks kind of cool, actually.'

''So I think they know I am right and that is what is making everyone freak out. All I did was point to the elephant in the room, but as I made very clear in that interview '-- what made me fly off the handle, too '-- is I am not saying women should not be in the workforce. If you were meant to be there, by all means, be there, and when I work with a qualified woman who is driven, like a Barbara Corcoran type, I love it because I get the job done,'' he said.

He said that overall his words have been twisted into being anti-woman, when in fact believes his comments to be empowering.

''I see a lot of women without kids, in their 40s, who are miserable and I see a lot of women after they have children saying, 'what the fuck was I doing? Why was I doing fashion PR? I was doing seating plans for a fashion show telling what people sit in what chair. Now I'm shaping human life,' he explained.

''And that is another thing maybe I didn't get across, I see the housewife as a far superior vocation to mine, and to most,'' McInnes continued. ''I mean I make commercials, and funny videos, and T.V. shows or whatever, film projects that people will watch for ten minutes and go 'heh' and get on with their day. I essentially'... make comic books. You flip through it and you're done. My wife creates life from her vagina and then '-- that's just the beginning '-- then she shapes this human life.''

McInnes explained how much more fulfilling his wife's day '-- making memories with their children '-- than his, working on a ''fuckin''' cheese commercial.

''Who is changing the world more?'' he asked.

Of his home life, McInnes said his is a ''traditional family'' living in New York ''an exaggeration of the liberal utopia.''

''I always describe New York as an elephant's graveyard for ovaries,'' he said. ''All these unhappy women, and I am talking about 100 percent of my friends waiting too long and regretting it, and I'm not saying that you have to have babies and you have to stay in the kitchen and you can't have a life. Nobody is saying that. That is a totally unreasonable thing to say. That is a fascist, communist thing to enforce. All I am saying is: Why are you trivializing such a miracle?''

McInnes explained that his children '-- ages 9 months, 5 years, and 7 years '-- made him believe in God and become pro-life.

''It made me religious. I was an atheist most of my life and now I am a God-fearing Catholic, because of the miracle of life. And I'm pro-life,'' he said, noting that he used to be pro-choice and became pro-life with the birth of his first child.

''Amongst my peers abortion is cool,'' he continued. ''It's like, empowering, and they make jokes about it. Some of my best friends go, 'I accept that it's murder and I am pro-choice.' That's the world I live in.''

He recalled a recent party he was at, in which a pregnant woman, who was planning on having an abortion the following week, was on hallucinogenic mushrooms ''and everyone was laughing at it. That's my universe.''

According to McInnes, based on his personal experience, women who have had children are significantly less likely to have an abortion.

''I think once women experience it, they change their minds pretty quick '-- and that is my personal experience, you know, I cannot speak for everyone. But I am probably getting myself in more shit,'' McInnes said.

''I'm sick of women who haven't experienced [child birth] trivializing it,'' he added.

On the flip side, McInnes said that men have become less masculine, ironically as a means to get more women.

''I think men are becoming beta males because feminists have told them to, but you'll notice feminists don't fuck those guys,'' he said. ''I think they are doing this and being submissive'...because they are trying to get laid.

''If women said men who dress in clown costumes are hot and cool, then they would fuckin' stick a red nose on.''

McInnes continued that he sees the anti-masculinity push as intrinsically anti-capitalist.

''There is a real latent anti-entrepreneurial ethos going on in America right now with the left and I don't see it as annoying or unfashionable. I see it as a virus because it is ultimately anti-American.

''America is unique: it was built by entrepreneurs with grit, and when'-- what seems just like a bunch of pussies being beta-males and women are railing against people like me simply for defending traditional families, isn't a small deal,'' he said. ''I think it's a real latent anti-Americanism that, like a virus, starts small and can really hurt us,'' he explained, adding that entrepreneurs should be seen as heroes.

He went on to lament the current trend in media, which finds sitcom father figures the idiot of the family.

''If it gets a laugh fine, but we all have to check ourselves and go: 'How about some reverence, for a change?' We revere single moms and we revere drug dealers like Jay Z '-- how about we revere the people who put on food on the table? Even that Huff Post Live thing '-- We are sitting there shitting on macho men while using their microphone that they invented and the infrastructure they created. Arianna Huffington is only rich because of her man entrepreneur husband.''

*An earlier version of this story misspelled Gavin McInnes' last name and incorrectly listed the age of McInnes' first child.

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Exclusive: Germany, Brazil Turn to U.N. to Restrain American Spies | The Cable

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:14

Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for theadoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on theinternet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the NationalSecurity Agency's intrusions into the online communications of foreigners,according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.

The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agencymay have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel anddozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilianleader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as "a breachof international law" in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N.establish legal guidelines to prevent "cyberspace from being used as a weaponof war."

Brazilian and German diplomats met in New York today with asmall group of Latin American and European governments to consider a draftresolution that calls for expanding privacy rights contained in the InternationalCovenant Civil and Political Rights to the online world. The draft does notrefer to a flurry of American spying revelations that have caused a politicaluproar around the world, particularly in Brazil and Germany. But it was clearthat the revelation provided the political momentum to trigger today's move tothe United Nations. The blowback from the NSA leaks continues to agonize U.S.diplomats and military officials concerned about America's image abroad.

"This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowdendisclosures," a former defense official with deep experience in NATO, told The Cable, referring to former NSAcontractor Edward Snowden. "It will be very difficult for the US to dig out ofthis, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trustare enormous."

Although the U.N.'s ability to fundamentally constrain the NSAis nil, the mounting international uproar over U.S. surveillance has securityexperts fearful for the ramifications.

"The worst case scenario I think would be having our Europeanallies saying they will no longer share signals intelligence because of aconcern that our SigInt is being derived from mechanisms that violate theirprivacy rules," said Ray Kimball, an army strategist with policy experience onEuropean issues. He stressed that he was not speaking for the military.

Although the Germans have not indicated such a move is in theworks, they do have a game plan for making their surveillance complaints heard.The International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights was written in 1966and came into force in 1976, decades before the internet transformed the waypeople communicate around the world. A provision in the international covenant,Article 17, says "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawfulinterference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawfulattacks on his honor and reputation." It also states that "everyone has theright to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

"The covenant was formulated at a time when the internet didn'texist," said a diplomat familiar with the negotiations. "Everyone has the rightto privacy and the goal is to this resolution is to apply those protections toonline communications."

Brazil and Germany are hoping to put the resolution to a votein the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee later this year. The draftresolution, which has not been made public and which is still subject tonegotiation among U.N. states, will seek to apply the those protections toonline communications. "This is not just about spying," said the diplomat. Thisis about ensuring that "privacy of citizens in their home states under theirown home legislation."

"It calls on countries to put an end to violations of thatright," the official said. "People have to be protected offline and online."

Anyone who thinks this issue will only resonate in Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy, and Germany -- where the Snowden leaks recentlyrevealed NSA datamining -- isn't paying attention.

According to the latest internal NSA memo leaked to The Guardian, the list of targeted nations is even longer, whichcould give this U.N. effort additional momentum. The NSA monitored the communications of 35unnamed "world leaders," whose phone numbers were given to the intelligenceagency by a U.S. government official, according to the report. The agency hasbeen collecting phone numbers, email addresses, and residential addresses offoreign officials from the people in the U.S. government who are in touch withthem. The U.S. official, who is not named, personally handed over 200 phonenumbers about the people he or she was in touch with.

It's hardly a secret, or a surprise, that the NSA spies onforeign governments, including those friendly to the United States. Two formerintelligence officials told The Cable thatcontact information like this is a regular source of intelligence for the NSA.And the memo acknowledges that the agency looks for officials' contactinformation in open sources, such as the Internet.

But the revelation that U.S. officials are facilitating spyingon the people they do business with to this extent has created the impetus forU.N. action, a first-of-its kind development.

"There's a mixture of hypocrisy and feigned outrage alongwith real objections here," said a former senior intelligence official. "Idon't know where the line is. The idea that political leaders are out of boundsfor foreign intelligence is amusing. But on the other hand this business abouttrusting allies is a big thing. My guess is there's a real annoyance here" onthe part of foreign allies.

Merkel was so outraged by the news that her phone had beenmonitored that she called President Obama to discuss it. The White House issueda carefully worded statement, assuring that the German leader'sphone would not be tapped now or in the future, but not saying whether it hadbeen.

It's not clear whether the NSA is still collecting informationfrom the address books of U.S. officials. The memo was written in 2006. But atleast at the time, such collection was a regular occurrence.

"From time to time, SID [the agency's signals intelligencedirectorate] is offered access to the personal contact databases of U.S.officials," the memo states. It doesn't specify who those officials are, orwhere in the government they work. But, the memo goes on to say, theinformation provided by the one U.S. official was sufficiently helpful that theagency decided to go around asking for more such contacts from the NSA's"supported customers," which include the Departments of Defense and State, aswell as the White House. (None of them are listed by name in the memo.)

"These numbers have provided lead information to othernumbers," the memo states. In the case of the one U.S. officials, the 200numbers included 43 that previously weren't on the NSA's radar.

"This success leads S2 [part of the signals intelligence directorate]to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing toshare" their contacts, as well. "S2 welcomes such information!"

Apparently, though, success was measured not so much in secretslearned but just in having the data itself. The memo acknowledges that analysts"have noted little reported intelligence from these particular numbers, whichappear not to be used for sensitive discussions."

From this we might conclude that NSA's targets are not fools.Why would anyone in the senior ranks of a government or military have sensitiveconversations or discuss classified information over the phone number or emailon his business card? But, the NSA seems to have concluded, what could it hurtto find out?

Time will tell. In a statement, a spokesperson for Merkel saidshe told Obama that tapping her phone would represent a "grave breach of trust"between the two allies. "She made clear that she views such practices, ifproven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally."

With the latest news from the U.N., it appears the U.S. mightbe in store for more than just a slap on the wrist.

New technology to block spying on Swiss ministers

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Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:04

GENEVA: Switzerland will soon roll out a new technology to better shield communications within the government from prying eyes, President Ueli Maurer said in an interview published Sunday.

"We will introduce a new technology in the coming days or weeks, (which) will improve security in the government," Maurer told the Schweiz am Sonntag weekly.

Refusing to provide more details on what the new technology consisted of and how it would work, Maurer said the decision to deploy it was made before the latest reports of US spying on world leaders.

Those reports, including allegations that Washington has been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, made clear "what intelligence agencies are capable of today, and that apparently anyone who is interesting must expect eavesdropping," he said.

In a separate interview in the SonntagsZeitung weekly, Maurer warned that the scandal risked "undermining confidence between states".

"We don't know if we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg or if other governments are acting in the same ruthless manner," he said.

Maurer said that Swiss ministers have always been cautious about their communications and mobile phones are banned from all government meetings.

For sensitive calls, "I do it on a landline, which is considered less risky," he told Schweiz am Sonntag, adding that ministers try as far as possible to discuss sensitive issues in person and not over the phone.

Maurer said he rarely uses his mobile phone, and only for personal calls.

The Swiss president said there was so far was no evidence of US spying on him or other members of the government, and acknowledged they were likely far less interesting to spy on than Merkel.

But he added, "I wouldn't rule anything out today."

Report: Obama knew NSA spied on Merkel

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Source: ynet - News

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:09

Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper reports that while US president claimed he was not aware Merkel's phone had been tapped, he in fact knew of wiretapping since at least 2010Ynet

US President Barack Obama was not only aware of NSA bugging of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone but ordered the program be escalated, Germany's Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Quoting an unnamed NSA official, the newspaper reports that Obama knew that the NSA had been spying on Merkel's mobile phone since at least 2010, when NSA chief Keith Alexander personally informed him of the operation.

Related stories:

In addition to Merkel's mobile phone, the NSA also listened in on a supposedly secure phone that Merkel received during the summer, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Only a special, secure landline phone in her office was reportedly not accessible to electronic tapping.

The NSA's findings, including the contents of SMS messages and phone calls, were reported directly to the White House and evidence indicates the operation continued until the "immediate past", Bild am Sonntag said.

The German paper reports that the bugging had been going on weeks before Obama's June visit in Berlin. The NSA apparently also eavesdropped on Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schr¶der, after then-President George W. Bush launched a spying program in 2002, it was noted.

The newspaper suggested a key reason for the operation was Schr¶der's refusal to support the Iraq War, and it was simply extended after Merkel took office in 2005.

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I Spy, No Lie | Armed with Science

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:32

(U.S. Defense Department graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer/Released)

What comes to mind when you see the acronym NSA?

Do you think spies? Protectors of secrets? Information collectors? Privacy violators? You can rarely open up a news website these days without seeing that three letter acronym splashed up somewhere.

But for all the finger-pointing and paranoid ranting, does anyone really know what's going on here? Is the National Security Agency really capable of the Jafar-like power madness that they're accused of wielding?

Or are internet rumors and misinformation painting our best cyber security defenders as bad guys?

It is time to get the story straight. To do that, I decided to go right to the top.

Gen. Keith Alexander is the Commander of the United States Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency,and the the chief of the Central Security Service. He has been the defender of our silent servants since 2005, and is absolutely dedicated to getting the right information out to the American people.

I sat down with Gen. Alexander to find out how to separate the truth from the rumors. To this, he has a proven one-step process: ''First, get the facts,'' he says. ''You'll see what's happened in the first step.''

The path to the facts starts with myth-busting the misinformation. So let's get started.

Rumors of the National Security Agency's privacy violations have been greatly exaggerated.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, U.S. Cyber Command commander and National Security Agency director, speaks during an interview at the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis Junction, Md., Oct. 21, 2013. (U.S. Defense Department photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley/ Released)

''We [the NSA] collect foreign intelligence for our country, and we provide information assurance for national security systems,'' Gen. Alexander says. ''We have two great missions, and those missions provide us with some tremendous capabilities.''

These capabilities and the information that they collect are what enables them to defend the nation. They do not choose between national defense and privacy. It must always be both.

When it comes to what the NSA does for the American people, Gen. Alexander says we first need to look at what NSA does to protect this nation from terrorist attacks.

''When you look at the 9/11 commission, it faulted the intelligence community for not connecting the dots. We didn't have the tools. These [programs we have now] are tools that help us connect the dots. We have learned that lesson once. We all vowed this would never happen again. We should commit to that course of action.''

The world runs on cyber.

From email to online bank accounts, from smart phones to smart TVs, just about everything in our lives runs on computer networks. And most of those are not as secure as they need to be. But how do we protect ourselves in an ubiquitous and constantly-changing cyber domain?

This is where Cyber Command comes in.

''We see a lot of exploitation of intellectual property,'' Gen. Alexander says. ''Cyber Command is the organization that would respond to [those threats]. That's the platform for defending the DoD networks, defending the nation, and responding '' as policymakers would ask us to do '' if someone were to attack us.''

So let's take a look at some of the recent foreign intelligence programs that have been getting a lot of attention lately. You know the ones. You may have seen them in the news, often mislabeled as ''spying programs''. Gen. Alexander is quick to correct this misnomer.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

''They aren't spying programs,'' he says directly. ''One is called the Business Records FISA Program, or Section 215, and the other is called the FISA Amendment Act 702 or PRISM.''

The business records program, or Section 215, is probably the most misunderstood of the two programs. The metadata program takes information and puts it in a data repository. Metadata is the phone number, the date, time, group, and duration of the call.

''That's all we have,'' Gen. Alexander explains. ''We don't have any names or any content.''

The purpose of this collection is to identify the U.S. nexus of a foreign terrorist threat to the homeland. The government cannot conduct substantive queries of the bulk records for any purpose other than counterterrorism.

If a ''nexus'' is found in the metadata, that information is passed to the FBI. They don't know who it is. They don't know the content of the communication. The FBI can then take that information and proceed as necessary.

PRISM logo (National Security Agency courtesy graphic)

The second program is the PRISM program or FISA Amendment Act 702. PRISM is a little bit different. PRISM is a content program. The program legally compels service providers to supply information to the government if there is an appropriate and documented foreign intelligence reason and the subject of interest is believed to be outside the U.S.

It also has to be one end foreign, not on U.S. persons, Gen. Alexander explains. This, of course, requires a lot of management and review. A lot.

''The oversight and compliance on these programs is greater than any other program in our government.''

Oversight. And we're not talking about a couple of manager signatures on a memo here.

''It's from within NSA by the general counsel, the inspector general, the oversight and compliance directorate; from the DNI's general counsel and inspector general and civil liberties and privacy officer; by DoD's inspector general and general counsel; by Department of Justice; by the White House; and by Congress, both committees.''

That's a lot of oversight. Even by the government's standards.

So this is a secret program that's not really so secret. It's one that Congress, the administration, and the Courts have all approved.

''People say they're spying on America. That is absolutely wrong,'' Gen. Alexander says. ''We're going after terrorists with those programs. We protect civil liberties and privacy.''

So if this isn't a secret, then why keep these programs from the American people?

''If we could only give it to the good guys and tell them to keep it secret, then yeah, give it to all the good guys. The problem is that the bad guys are amongst us. They will figure it out. This happened in 1998 after the East Africa Embassy bombings. Somebody revealed publicly that the way we track Bin Laden was through satellite communications, or SATCOM. Within two days, we never saw Bin Laden in communications again.''

Sometimes, it's silence that saves lives.

''My concern is the revealing of these programs allows terrorists to know the best weapons that we have against them,'' Gen. Alexander says. ''It will cause irreversible and significant damage.''

Speaking of accountability, a lot of the misdirection in these stories and these programs comes from fast spreading, half-baked information. Like the story recently that bemoaned the recording of seventy million phone calls being intercepted in Paris over a one-month time period.

Think about that. Seventy million phone calls.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, U.S. Cyber Command commander and National Security Agency director, speaks with Armed with Science blogger Jessica L. Tozer during an interview at the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis Junction, Md., Oct. 21, 2013. (U.S. Defense Department photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley/ Released)

''Now, I don't know how many phone calls you get a day, but let's say thirty. Now you'll need French linguists, because French people speak French. The average analyst might be able to do one call every fifteen minutes,'' Gen. Alexander points out. ''So that's four an hour times eight is thirty-two, divide thirty-two into today, and you're going to need a little bit less than one hundred thousand people, just for France. And France is an ally. It's absurd.''

But even in the face of facts, checks and balances, people still cry protest. Some are still not convinced. Some people claim that there must be a different, more private way to go about monitoring for terrorist plots. While keeping Americans informed. While still thwarting the bad guys.

The NSA asks: Have you got a better idea?

''I do believe if we can find a better way, we ought to put it on the table and take those steps,'' Gen. Alexander proposes. ''So anybody who's got a better idea, let's put it on the table. But to say 'stop' ignores the lessons that we learned in 9/11.''

The bottom line is that these programs help the NSA to take care of our people, our information, and our nation. We should improve our programs, not negate their utility. Even, and especially, in the face of Internet scrutiny.

''I liken this to holding a hornet's nest,'' Gen. Alexander says. ''Now I would like to give it to somebody else and say, 'You protect the nation with this dataset.' Everybody's looking around and saying, 'I don't want to hold that. You hold it.' But somebody's got to hold it for the good of the nation.''

When it comes to supporting his people, Gen. Alexander holds them in the highest regard. ''They're the heroes,'' he says. ''It should never be a question in anyone's mind.''

Some people would rather believe a dramatic, convenient lie than a real, uncomplicated truth. Don't be that person. Don't give credence to speculation, rumor, or hyperbole. Simply put, don't give into the hype. When it comes down it, a nation without the NSA would be a nation left undefended.

And that, dear readers, is no lie.

Still not convinced? Watch the whole interview here:

Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed with Science. She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.


Mozilla's Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over your shoulder on the web - News - Gadgets & Tech - The Independent

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 01:50

Just who is looking over your shoulder when you browse the Internet? Tomorrow, web users will be given a new tool to shine a light on the commercial organisations which track your every movement online.

Lightbeam, a download produced by Mozilla, the US free software community behind the popular Firefox browser, claims to be a ''watershed'' moment in the battle for web transparency.

Everyone who browses the Internet leaves a digital trail used by advertisers to discover what your interests are.

Users who activate Lightbeam will be able to see a real-time visualisation of every site they visit and every third-party that is active on those sites, including commercial organisations which might potentially be sharing your data.

Mozilla wants users who install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, to crowd-source their data, to produce the first ''big picture'' view of web tracking, revealing which third-parties are most active.

Lightbeam promises a ''Wizard of Oz'' moment for the web, ''where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,'' Mozilla claimed.

Mark Surman, Mozilla's executive director, said: ''It's a stake in the ground in terms of letting people know the ways they are being tracked. At Mozilla, we believe everyone should be in control of their user data and privacy and we want people to make informed decisions about their Web experience.''

Mozilla already offers users the ability to disable ''cookies'' - small files that download from websites onto a computer, allowing advertisers to target users based on their online activity '' an option taken up by 18 per cent of UK Firefox users.

Lightbeam will reveal the source of the third-party adverts, scripts and images stored on a web page which are linked to servers in other domains. An expanding graph visualises the interactions between the sites a user intentionally visits and the third parties which may not be welcome.

Mozilla has come under ''tremendous pressure'' from trade bodies over its mission to bring transparency to the web, said Alex Fowler, the company's Privacy Officer.

The software company said it was responding to increased privacy concerns following the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped directly into the servers of Internet firms including Facebook, to track online communication in a surveillance programme.

Lightbeam reveals the source of third-party adverts

Firefox released a security upgrade after it emerged that the NSA was exploiting vulnerabilities in the browser to gain access to computers using Tor, a sophisticated anonymity tool.

But Mozilla insisted that Lightbeam itself will not compromise the privacy of users who agree to upload and share data. Lightbeam will not log IP addresses, the information will be aggregated anonymously and the software can be uninstalled, Mr Surman promised.

Lightbeam initially will only be available for desktop browsers. Apple has reportedly rejected from its store apps by developers which incorporate ''cookie tracking'' technology. ''The whole mobile environment is closed,'' Mr Surman said. ''You have to go through Google and Apple for apps.''

Mozilla, which is developing its own tablet, Mr Surman disclosed, is hosting its UK Mozfest this weekend, a brain-storming ''hack'', attended by 1,400 people.

Mr Surman said: ''Our focus in on building a web based on openness and transparency. Our dream is a world where people know more about how the web works and take control of their lives online. We need a posse of people to get involved and make that happen.''

He accepted that some cookies can help consumers navigate sites by providing content relevant to the user but said it was important that tracking happens with a person's knowledge.

Lightbeam is released ahead of ''Stop Watching Us,'' a ''rally against mass surveillance'' in response to the Snowden revelations, which will be held in Washington D.C. on Saturday.


Leaked memos reveal GCHQ efforts to keep mass surveillance secret | UK news | The Guardian

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 05:15

The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has repeatedly warned it fears a "damaging public debate" on the scale of its activities because it could lead to legal challenges against its mass-surveillance programmes, classified internal documents reveal.

Memos contained in the cache disclosed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden detail the agency's long fight against making intercept evidence admissible as evidence in criminal trials '' a policy supported by all three major political parties, but ultimately defeated by the UK's intelligence community.

Foremost among the reasons was a desire to minimise the potential for challenges against the agency's large-scale interception programmes, rather than any intrinsic threat to security, the documents show.

The papers also reveal that:

' GCHQ lobbied furiously to keep secret the fact that telecoms firms had gone "well beyond" what they were legally required to do to help intelligence agencies' mass interception of communications, both in the UK and overseas.

' GCHQ feared a legal challenge under the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act if evidence of its surveillance methods became admissible in court.

' GCHQ assisted the Home Office in lining up sympathetic people to help with "press handling", including the Liberal Democrat peer and former intelligence services commissioner Lord Carlile, who this week criticised the Guardian for its coverage of mass surveillance by GCHQ and America's National Security Agency.

The most recent attempt to make intelligence gathered from intercepts admissible in court, proposed by the last Labour government, was finally stymied by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 in 2009.

A briefing memo prepared for the board of GCHQ shortly before the decision was made public revealed that one reason the agency was keen to quash the proposals was the fear that even passing references to its wide-reaching surveillance powers could start a "damaging" public debate.

Referring to the decision to publish the report on intercept as evidence without classification, it noted: "Our main concern is that references to agency practices (ie the scale of interception and deletion) could lead to damaging public debate which might lead to legal challenges against the current regime." A later update, from May 2012, set out further perceived "risks" of making intercepts admissible, including "the damage to partner relationships if sensitive information were accidentally released in open court". It also noted that the "scale of interception and retention required would be fairly likely to be challenged on Article 8 (Right to Privacy) grounds".

The GCHQ briefings showed the agency provided the Home Office with support in winning the PR battle on the proposed reforms by lining up people to talk to the media '' including Lord Carlile, who on Wednesday gave a public lecture condemning the Guardian's decision to publish stories based on the leaked material from Snowden.

Referring to the public debate on intercept evidence, the document notes: "Sir Ken McDonald [sic] (former DPP [director of public prosecutions]), Lord Goldsmith (former AG [attorney general]) and David Davis (former Shadow HSec [home secretary) [have been] reiterating their previous calls for IaE [intercept as evidence].

"We are working closely with HO [Home Office] on their plans for press handling when the final report is published, e.g. lining up talking heads (such as Lord Carlisle [sic], Lord Stevens, Sir Stephen Lander, Sir Swinton Thomas)."

Carlile was the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in 2001-11, and was awarded a CBE in 2012 for his services to national security.

Another top GCHQ priority in resisting the admission of intercepts as evidence was keeping secret the extent of the agency's co-operative relationships with telephone companies '' including being granted access to communications networks overseas.

In June, the Guardian disclosed the existence of GCHQ's Tempora internet surveillance programme. It uses intercepts on the fibre-optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet to gain access to vast swaths of internet users' personal data. The intercepts are placed in the UK and overseas, with the knowledge of companies owning either the cables or landing stations.

The revelations of voluntary co-operation with some telecoms companies appear to contrast markedly with statements made by large telecoms firms in the wake of the first Tempora stories. They stressed that they were simply complying with the law of the countries in which they operated.

In reality, numerous telecoms companies were doing much more than that, as disclosed in a secret document prepared in 2009 by a joint working group of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6.

Their report contended that allowing intercepts as evidence could damage relationships with "Communications Service Providers" (CSPs).

In an extended excerpt of "the classified version" of a review prepared for the Privy Council, a formal body of advisers made up of current and former cabinet ministers, the document sets out the real nature of the relationship between telecoms firms and the UK government.

"Under RIPA [the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000], CSPs in the UK may be required to provide, at public expense, an adequate interception capability on their networks," it states. "In practice all significant providers do provide such a capability. But in many cases their assistance '' while in conformity with the law '' goes well beyond what it requires."

GCHQ's internet surveillance programme is the subject of a challenge in the European court of human rights, mounted by three privacy advocacy groups. The Open Rights Group, English PEN and Big Brother Watch argue the "unchecked surveillance" of Tempora is a challenge to the right to privacy, as set out in the European convention on human rights.

That the Tempora programme appears to rely at least in part on voluntary co-operation of telecoms firms could become a major factor in that ongoing case. The revelation could also reignite the long-running debate over allowing intercept evidence in court.

GCHQ's submission goes on to set out why its relationships with telecoms companies go further than what can be legally compelled under current law. It says that in the internet era, companies wishing to avoid being legally mandated to assist UK intelligence agencies would often be able to do so "at little cost or risk to their operations" by moving "some or all" of their communications services overseas.

As a result, "it has been necessary to enter into agreements with both UK-based and offshore providers for them to afford the UK agencies access, with appropriate legal authorisation, to the communications they carry outside the UK".

The submission to ministers does not set out which overseas firms have entered into voluntary relationships with the UK, or even in which countries they operate, though documents detailing the Tempora programme made it clear the UK's interception capabilities relied on taps located both on UK soil and overseas.

There is no indication as to whether the governments of the countries in which deals with companies have been struck would be aware of the GCHQ cable taps.

Evidence that telecoms firms and GCHQ are engaging in mass interception overseas could stoke an ongoing diplomatic row over surveillance ignited this week after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, accused the NSA of monitoring her phone calls, and the subsequent revelation that the agency monitored communications of at least 35 other world leaders.

On Friday, Merkel and the French president, Fran§ois Hollande, agreed to spearhead efforts to make the NSA sign a new code of conduct on how it carried out intelligence operations within the European Union, after EU leaders warned that the international fight against terrorism was being jeopardised by the perception that mass US surveillance was out of control.

Fear of diplomatic repercussions were one of the prime reasons given for GCHQ's insistence that its relationships with telecoms firms must be kept private .

Telecoms companies "feared damage to their brands internationally, if the extent of their co-operation with HMG [Her Majesty's government] became apparent", the GCHQ document warned. It added that if intercepts became admissible as evidence in UK courts "many CSPs asserted that they would withdraw their voluntary support".

The report stressed that while companies are going beyond what they are required to do under UK law, they are not being asked to violate it.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Anthony Romero Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a joint statement stating:

"The Guardian's publication of information from Edward Snowden has uncovered a breach of trust by the US and UK Governments on the grandest scale. The newspaper's principled and selective revelations demonstrate our rulers' contempt for personal rights, freedoms and the rule of law.

"Across the globe, these disclosures continue to raise fundamental questions about the lack of effective legal protection against the interception of all our communications.

"Yet in Britain, that conversation is in danger of being lost beneath self-serving spin and scaremongering, with journalists who dare to question the secret state accused of aiding the enemy.

"A balance must of course be struck between security and transparency, but that cannot be achieved whilst the intelligence services and their political masters seek to avoid any scrutiny of, or debate about, their actions.

"The Guardian's decision to expose the extent to which our privacy is being violated should be applauded and not condemned."


Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA 'Stop Watching Us' rally | World news |

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 04:48

Link to video: Protesters rally in Washington against NSA surveillanceThousands gathered by the Capitol reflection pool in Washington on Saturday to march, chant, and listen to speakers and performers as part of Stop Watching Us, a gathering to protest "mass surveillance" under NSA programs first disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Billed by organizers as "the largest rally yet to protest mass surveillance", Stop Watching Us was sponsored by an unusually broad coalition of left- and right-wing groups, including everything from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Green Party, Color of Change and Daily Kos to the Libertarian Party, FreedomWorks and Young Americans for Liberty.

The events began outside Union Station, a few blocks away from the Capitol. Props abounded, with a model drone hoisted by one member of the crowd and a large parachute carried by others. One member of the left-wing protest group Code Pink wore a large Barack Obama mascot head and carried around a cardboard camera. Organizers supplied placards reading "Stop Watching _____", allowing protesters to fill in their own name '' or other slogans and occasional profanities. Homemade signs were more colorful, reading "Don't Tap Me, Bro" "Yes, We Scan" and "No Snitching Allowed".

"They think an open government means our information is open for the taking," David Segal of Demand Progress, an internet activist group, said to kick off events. As the march proceeded from Union Station to the Capitol reflecting pool, the crowd sang various chants, from "Hey hey, ho ho, mass surveillance has got to go" to "They say wire tap? We say fight back!"

David Reed, of Maryland, said he felt compelled to show up because of the "apathy" he sees among much of the public towards whistleblowers. Reed said he attended the trial of Chelsea Manning, the military whistleblower who leaked thousands of State Department cables to Wikileaks, as an observer, and was "disappointed that so few people showed up".

"The courtroom only held about 30 people, and there were few days that it was filled up," said Reed, who described himself as "just a concerned citizen". "We just stand by and watch."

A protester wears a mask depicting a skull beneath the head of the Statue of Liberty, beneath a model of a US drone aircraft. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/ReutersThe program at the reflecting pool included ex-politicians, whistleblowers, professional activists, poets and a punk band, YACHT, who performed their song Party at the NSA. ("Party at the NSA/Twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours a day!")

Thomas Drake, the former NSA official who blew the whistle on government surveillance and waste following 9/11 and was charged under the Espionage Act, was on hand, talking to reporters about, among other things, recent revelations that the US government had tapped the phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other world leaders.

"For what? Why would you violate her rights? Because, what, she might know something about terrorism?" he said. "What is that all about? They're an ally! They're partnered with us. I mean there are threats to the international order and stability. Why would you breach the trust of the chancellor of Germany?"

When Drake addressed the crowd, he said any domestic surveillance legislation that might result from the Snowden leaks "must include whistleblower protection", because "without adequate protections, [government employees] are more likely to turn a blind eye" to abuses of power. He warned against the "acid turned up by the potent brew of secrecy and surveillance".

Another well-received speaker, Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian party candidate for president, said "there's only one way to fix the Patriot Act: and that's to repeal the Patriot Act". He too was concerned about the apathy towards surveillance programs that comes when someone thinks it's "not about me".

Demonstrators hold placards supporting Edward Snowden. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty ImagesBut the big star of the day, despite his physical absence, was Edward Snowden '' "Thank you, Edward Snowden" was the most popular banner slogan among the cord. Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department ethics advisor who is now a director with the Government Accountability Project, read a statement from Snowden to the crowd.

"This isn't about red or blue party lines, and it definitely isn't about terrorism," Snowden wrote. "It's about being able to live in a free and open society." He also noted that "elections are coming up, and we are watching you". Members of Congress and government officials, he said, were supposed to be "public servants, not private investigators".

William Evans, of Richmond, Virginia, may have best embodied the nonpartisan atmosphere and message of the event. He wore a "Richmond Tea Party" baseball cap, as well as a Code Pink sticker saying "Make Out, Not War". He is a member of the Richmond Tea Party but not of Code Pink, he said, adding that he "just loved" what the sticker said. Evans said he was attending to protest the "shredding of the constitution" and added that he was happy that "you guys on the left are finally starting to see it".

"We may not always agree on our belief system," he added, "but thank God we agree on the constitution."


LA Times - A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue

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BRICS analysis

Thank you for your courage Adam,

So I am listening to the show and your are talking about Frau Merkel being so pissed.


would like to draw your attention to something I believe is one angel.

Let's start with remember BRICS. Everything ties together nicely when

you stop thinking in terms of Putin and Russia and see everything as

BRICS. (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.) Who would love

(are) to make a competing bank to the IMF and World Bank.

Now, we need to go back to the first Snowden leak, the countries named

were: (B)razil (I)ndia (C)hina and the EU and Germany. Outside of

Germany everything falls into place except Germany but, you can't do a

massive take over of the banking industry without the EU and more

importantly Germany behind you.

Brazil, as we know refused to come to a state dinner. The next thing

that happened is Brazil called for an immediate meeting of the Latin

American Countries. Followed by a protest at the next UN meeting. Where

does Greenwald live? Brazil

China is calling for a "less Americanized" world.

Snowden landed first in Hong Kong, then on to Moscow.

Now we have France and Frau Merkel furious. Germany signed a huge trade deal with China a year or two ago. Where is Laura?

Keep an eye on trade deals with BRICS countries or larger trade deals in

South America. Also, watch Germany's energy problems. Russia, I think

will swoop in and save Germany's energy problems soon.

Russia just passed the anti-Hollywood laws just in time for China to build a new movie studio.

Again, I think BRICS has been overlooked and not taken seriously.

Imagine what the world would look like if say a few Latin American

countries (other than Brazil), Germany, and the African countries China

are in leave the IMF and World bank to join a new BRICS bank? I don't

think this will happen tomorrow but this could be a powerplay in motion.

John's Saudi theory makes sense, even more so if you take BRICS into

account. The Saudi's are furious over Syria. Kerry testified before

congress that the "Arabs" were wiling to pay for everything. Obama not

invading (as Bush would have) is probably a final straw. They could be

pissed about Houston's involvement (Clintons') in Leviathan. The Saudi

royals cannot be happy about how much oil and gas Israel has their hands

on now.

I heard one woman, a whistleblower from the World Bank, who said BRICS

are going through the bank and they are going on a gold standard. I have

no idea how true that is though.

This, I think, it a huge massive

"spider" approach to unseating the US. In every way possible. Banks,

military, entertainment, "journalism" and business.

I will end with, as a woman. I completely agree with what you said

of other women's criticism of you. I honestly sick and tired of women in

the "feminist" movement that honestly believe all other women are

scared flowers in the corner who can't stand up for themselves. Annoys

the piss out of me.



Made in China? US warns Turkey its missile deal with Beijing may be incompatible with NATO '-- RT News

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 14:47

Published time: October 24, 2013 19:03China's FD-2000 / HQ-9 SAM system (Image from

Washington is talking to Ankara over a $3.4 billion Turkish-Chinese deal, in which the two countries agreed to co-produce a long-range air and missile defense system. The US claims the outcome may not be compatible with the existing NATO defense network.

In a surprise move for its NATO allies, Turkey announced in September it was going to award a new missile defense contract to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC).

The Chinese defense firm, which has been sanctioned by the US for alleged violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-proliferation Act, has been chosen to co-produce the FD-2000 system with Turkish specialists. CPMIEC claims the system not only beats in price, but also comes up to the quality of its rivals '' the Russian S-300, the French-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T, and the American Patriots.

Now the US has started ''expert discussions'' with Turkey regarding the defense tender, according to US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone quoted by Reuters.

''We are very concerned about the prospective deal with the sanctioned Chinese firm. Yes this is a commercial decision, it is Turkey's sovereign right, but we are concerned about what it means for allied air defense,'' Ricciardone told reporters on Thursday.

He added that Turkey is entitled to ''its own decision after examining the facts.'' Earlier, Turkey signaled that the decision was not final, and that it could back away if its allies' concerns proved to be true.

So far, NATO officials quoted by Reuters said it was ''premature'' to say whether the purchased technologies will have problems operating within the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System.

However, Ankara's allies have already expressed their disappointment with the move, which comes months after NATO deployed several Patriot batteries in Turkey to ''safeguard'' it against possible strikes from Syrian territory.

But according to experts, Turkey had its reasons to prefer the Chinese deal, and they had nothing to do with the price of the systems.

China's offer of transferring the design technology to Turkey was a decisive factor in its decision, Atilla Sandikli, the chairman of think-tank Bilgesam and a former high-level officer in the Turkish army, told Reuters.''The only reason why Turkey didn't have them [the air defense systems] until now is because they wanted to achieve the technological information and know-how to produce these systems,'' Sandikli said. ''I think Turkey's choice is a message to its NATO allies in this sense.''

Media reports said the much-delayed, 2009-announced Turkish defense tender had been dragging until recently because Ankara was reluctant to purchase missile systems off the shelf, and wanted design information included to produce home-grown batteries.

As US export laws would not allow technology transfer, American military giants Raytheon and Lockheed reportedly refused to enter such a deal.

The Chinese, on the other hand, have been more than willing to provide design information to its sales partners, and, according to Nihat Ali Ozcan, analyst at Ankara-based think-tank TEPAV, China and Turkey have already started to co-operate on short-range missile defense systems.

China itself has been drawing on Russian know-how and, partly, Western technologies when designing its own systems, Russian military experts have said.

Chinese military producers have been known for cloning defense technologies, leading to such renowned manufacturers as Russia's Sukhoi ask for legal guarantees there will not be attempts to copy their latest export models. At the same time, Russia has been supplying some of the components and technologies to China under earlier contracts.

When it comes to the FD-2000 system that Turkey may acquire, the Chinese marketing material and press reports state that its missiles, launchers, radars, vehicles and support systems are all designed and built in China.

It is said to be effective in intercepting high performance strike aircraft, helicopters, a range of missiles, precision guided bombs, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones. The advertising goes that the system also remains effective during heavy air strikes and electronic interference.

China's military exports have been on the rise in the recent years, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) ranking it as the world's fifth biggest arms supplier in the five years to 2012. According to SIPRI, China has already surpassed the UK's arms exports.

Reports in China's state-run military press suggested the sale of the missile defense system to Turkey would open the door to even further high technology orders from the West and other markets.

Turkey open to new bids for anti-missile system

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on October 25, 2013

AFP - Turkey said Saturday it was open to new bids in its plan to acquire its first long-range anti-missile system, should its controversial negotiations with China come to nothing.

"It is not a finalised deal yet. If US and European companies make us better offers, we will continue to talk with them," said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was quoted by Turkish newspapers.

Last month, in a move that irritated Turkey's allies in NATO, particularly the United States, Ankara announced it was entering talks with the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation (CPMIEC) to buy a long-range anti-missile system.

The US said it had "serious concerns" about the deal estimated at $4 billion (2.9 billion euros). Over the past decade the US has hit the Chinese company with a series of sanctions for selling arms and missile technology to Iran and Syria.

CPMIEC, which makes the HQ-9 missile system, beat out competition from a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, Russia's Rosoboronexport, and Italian-French consortium Eurosam.

Davutoglu said Turkey had ruled out the Russian company but not the other two. "If offers more suitable for us are formulated, our relevant authorities will evaluate them," the minister added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday defended the decision to enter into talks with China. "Nobody has the right to intervene in (Turkey's) independent decisions," he said.

LA Times - Chinese students a new funding source for U.S. high schools

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Russian Military Inspectors to Fly Over United States | Defense | RIA Novosti

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MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) '' Russian military inspectors will begin monitoring flights over the United States starting Sunday under the international Open Skies Treaty, a Russian Defense Ministry official said.

Experts from Russia will be conducting flights on board of a Tupolev Tu-154M Lk-1 aircraft between October 27 and November 4, Sergei Ryzhkov, the head of the ministry's National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, said.

The flights will be carried out from the Travis Air Force Base in the US state of California, along agreed flight routes with the maximum range of 4,250 kilometers (2,640 miles).

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the treaty in May 2001.

It will be the 37th observation flight mission conducted by Russian military inspectors over the territories of the treaty member states in 2013.

Each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with optical, infra-red and radar sensors to gather imagery, which can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with arms control treaties.

Treaty on Open Skies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Open Skies TreatyTreaty on Open SkiesMember states in light blue; depository states in dark blue; non-ratified members in yellow.

Signed24 March 1992 [1](also start of provisional application)LocationHelsinkiEffective1 January 2002Condition20 ratificationsRatifiers34DepositaryGovernments of Canada and HungaryLanguagesEnglish, French, German, Italian, Russian and SpanishThe Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties. It establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities. The concept of "mutual aerial observation" was initially proposed to Soviet PremierNikolai Bulganin at the Geneva Conference of 1955 by PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower; however, the Soviets promptly rejected the concept and it lay dormant for several years. The treaty was eventually signed as an initiative of US president (and former Director of Central Intelligence) George H. W. Bush in 1989. Negotiated by the then-members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the agreement was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on March 24, 1992.

This treaty is not related to civil-aviation open skies agreements.

Membership[edit]The 34 State Parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not yet ratified. Canada and Hungary are the depositories of the treaty in recognition of their special contribution to the Open Skies process. "Depository" countries maintain treaty documents and provide administrative support.

The treaty is of unlimited duration and open to accession by other States. States of the former Soviet Union that have not already become States Parties to the treaty may accede to it at any time. Applications from other interested States are subject to a consensus decision by the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), the Vienna-based organization charged with facilitating implementation of the treaty, to which all States Parties belong. The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe meets monthly at its Vienna headquarters.[2] Eight states have acceded to the treaty since entry into force: Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

Basic elements of the treaty[edit]Territory[edit]The Open Skies regime covers the territory over which the State Party exercises sovereignty, including land, islands, and internal and territorial waters. The treaty specifies that the entire territory of a State Party is open to observation. Observation flights may only be restricted for reasons of flight safety; not for reasons of national security.

Aircraft[edit]Observation aircraft may be provided by either the observing Party or (the "taxi option") by the observed Party, at the latter's choice. All Open Skies aircraft and sensors must pass specific certification and pre-flight inspection procedures to ensure that they are compliant with treaty standards. The official certified U.S. Open Skies aircraft is the OC-135B Open Skies.

Canada uses a C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with a "SAMSON" sensor pod to conduct flights over other treaty nations. The pod is a converted CC-130 fuel tank modified to carry the permitted sensors, along with associated on-board mission systems. A consortium of nations consisting of Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain own and operate this system. The costs of maintaining the SAMSON Pod are shared, based on each nation's flight quota and actual use.[citation needed]

Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine use the Antonov An-30 for their flights. The Czech Republic also used to use the An-30 for this purpose but they apparently retired all of theirs from service in 2003.[citation needed]

Russia also uses the Tu-154M-ON Monitoring Aircraft. Germany formerly used this type as well until the aircraft was lost in a 1997 accident.

Sweden uses a SAAB 340 aircraft ("OS-100") that was certified in 2004.

Sensors[edit]Open Skies aircraft may have video, optical panoramic and framing cameras for daylight photography, infra-red line scanners for a day/night capability, and synthetic aperture radar for a day/night all weather capability. Photographic image quality will permit recognition of major military equipment (e.g., permit a State Party to distinguish between a tank and a truck), thus allowing significant transparency of military forces and activities. Sensor categories may be added and capabilities improved by agreement among States Parties. All sensors used in Open Skies must be commercially available to all signatories. Imagery resolution is limited to 30 centimetres.

Quotas[edit]Each State Party is obligated to receive observation flights per its passive quota allocation. Each State Party may conduct as many observation flights - its active quota - as its passive quota. During the first three years after entry into force, each State will be obligated to accept no more than seventy-five percent of its passive quota. Since the overall annual passive quota for the United States is 42, this means that it will be obligated to accept no more than 31 observation flights a year during this three-year period. Only two flights were requested over the United States during 2005, by the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus Group of States Parties (which functions as a single entity for quota allocation purposes). The United States is entitled to 8 of the 31 annual flights available over Russia/Belarus. Additionally, the United States is entitled to one flight over Ukraine, which is shared with Canada.

Data sharing and availability[edit]Imagery collected from Open Skies missions is available to any State Party upon request for the cost of reproduction. As a result, the data available to each State Party is much greater than that which it can collect itself under the treaty quota system.

History[edit]At a Geneva Conference meeting with Soviet PremierNikolai Bulganin in 1955, President Eisenhower proposed that the United States and Soviet Union conduct surveillance overflights of each other's territory to reassure each country that the other was not preparing to attack.[3] The fears and suspicions of the Cold War led Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev to reject Eisenhower's proposal.[3] Thirty-four years later, the Open Skies concept was reintroduced by President George H. W. Bush as a means to build confidence and security between all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Warsaw Pact countries.

In February 1990, an international Open Skies conference involving all NATO and Warsaw Pact countries opened in Ottawa, Canada. Subsequent rounds of negotiations were held in Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, and Helsinki, Finland.

On March 24, 1992,[4] the Open Skies Treaty was signed in Helsinki by Secretary of State James Baker and foreign ministers from 23 other countries. The treaty entered into force on January 2, 2002, after Russia and Belarus completed ratification procedures.

In November 1992, President Bush assigned responsibility for overall training, management, leadership, coordination and support for U.S. Open Skies observation missions to the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA), now a part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Until entry into force in January 2002, DTRA support for the treaty involved participating in training and joint trial flights (JTFs). The U.S. has conducted over 70 JTFs since 1993. By March 2003, DTRA had successfully certified 16 camera configurations on the OC-135B aircraft. They also had contributed to the certification of the Bulgarian AN-30, Hungarian AN-26, POD Group (consisting of Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain) C-130H,Romanian AN-30, Russian AN-30, and Ukrainian AN-30. The United States successfully flew its first Open Skies mission over Russia in December 2002.

With entry into force of the treaty, formal observation flights began in August 2002. During the first treaty year, States Parties conducted 67 observation flights. In 2004, States Parties conducted 74 missions, and planned 110 missions for 2005. On March 8 and 9, 2007, Russia conducted overflights of Canada under the Treaty.[5] The OSCC continues to address modalities for conducting observation missions and other implementation issues.

See also[edit]References[edit]This article includes public domain text from the following United States Government sources:

^^^ ab"Foreign Affairs". American Experience. WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved 28 July 2013. "The two sides would not meet face-to-face until the Geneva summit of 1955. At the summit, Eisenhower asserted, "I came to Geneva because I believe mankind longs for freedom from war and the rumors of war. I came here because my lasting faith in the decent instincts and good sense of the people who populate this world of ours." In this spirit of good will, Eisenhower presented the Soviets with his Open Skies proposal. In it he proposed that each side provide full descriptions of all their military facilities and allow for aerial inspections to insure the information was correct. The Soviets rejected the proposal. Eisenhower was disappointed, but not surprised. In truth, the Open Skies proposal would have benefited the U.S. much more so than the Soviets -- the Russians already knew the location of most American strategic defense facilities, it was the Americans who stood to gain new information." ^^ links[edit]


INTERNET FREEDOM-Brazil's president tells the United Nations: NSA spying violates international law | The Raw Story

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By Julian Borger, The GuardianTuesday, September 24, 2013 11:04 EDT

Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, has launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly, accusing the NSA of violating international law by its indiscriminate collection of personal information of Brazilian citizens and economic espionage targeted on the country's strategic industries.

Rousseff's angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Rousseff had already put off a planned visit to Washington in protest at US spying, after NSA documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the US electronic eavesdropping agency had monitored the Brazilian president's phone calls, as well as Brazilian embassies and spied on the state oil corporation, Petrobras.

''Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information '' often of high economic and even strategic value '' was at the centre of espionage activity.

Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the permanent mission to the UN and the office of the president of the republic itself, had their communications intercepted,'' Rousseff said, in a global rallying cry against what she portrayed as the overweening power of the US security apparatus.

''Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country.''

Washington's efforts to smooth over Brazilian outrage over NSA espionage have so far been rebuffed by Rousseff, who has proposed that Brazilian build its own internet infrastructure.

''Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable,'' she said.

''The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained. Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbour terrorist groups,'' Rousseff said.

''As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country,'' the Brazilian president said. She was imprisoned and tortured for her role in a guerilla movement opposed to Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s.

''In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.''

Rousseff called on the UN oversee a new global legal system to govern the internet. She said such multilateral mechanisms should guarantee the ''freedom of expression, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights'' and the ''neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.

''The time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries,'' the Brazilian president said.

As host to the UN headquarters, the US has been attacked from the general assembly many times in the past, but what made Rousseff's denunciation all the more painful diplomatically was the fact that it was delivered on behalf of large, increasingly powerful and historically friendly state. (C) Guardian News and Media 2013


Brazil plans to go offline from US-centric internet - The Hindu

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 02:57

Brazil plans to divorce itself from the US-centric internet over Washington's widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward politically fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the US National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company's network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to US tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

''The global backlash is only beginning and will get far more severe in coming months,'' said Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the Washington-based New America Foundation think-tank. ''This notion of national privacy sovereignty is going to be an increasingly salient issue around the globe.''

While Brazil isn't proposing to bar its citizens from US-based Web services, it wants their data to be stored locally as the nation assumes greater control over Brazilians' internet use to protect them from NSA snooping.

Ms. Rousseff says she intends to push for new international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the UN General Assembly meeting later this month.

Most of Brazil's global internet traffic passes through the United States, so Ms. Rousseff's government plans to lay underwater fibber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

Ms. Rousseff is urging Brazil's Congress to compel Facebook, Google and other US companies to store all data generated by Brazilians on servers physically located inside Brazil in order to shield it from the NSA.

If that happens, and other nations follow suit, Silicon Valley's bottom line could be hit by lost business and higher operating costs.

Brazil also plans to build more internet exchange points, places where vast amounts of data are relayed, in order to route Brazilians' traffic away from potential interception.

International spies, not just from the United States, also will adjust, experts said. Laying cable to Europe won't make Brazil safer, they say. The NSA has reportedly tapped into undersea telecoms cables for decades.

Mr. Meinrath and others argue that what's needed instead are strong international laws that hold nations accountable for guaranteeing online privacy.

''There's nothing viable that Brazil can really do to protect its citizenry without changing what the US is doing,'' he said.


BBC News - Georgia votes in elections as Saakashvili's rule ends

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 05:36

27 October 2013Last updated at00:42 ETGeorgia is voting in presidential elections that will bring to an end a decade in power for pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The frontrunner among the 23 candidates is a close ally of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, Mr Saakashvili's bitter rival.

Following the polls, constitutional amendments will significantly reduce presidential powers.

Mr Saakashvili is barred from standing as he has already served two terms.

Mr Ivanishvili's win in parliamentary elections last year ushered in the former Soviet republic's first legal transfer of power.

The billionaire businessman also intends to resign within weeks of the vote, saying he has achieved his aims.

He has called Sunday's vote Georgia's "first European-style election".

Continue reading the main storyIt is the first time that the candidate from the ruling party is not using administrative resources to boost his campaign''

End QuoteBidzina IvanishviliGeorgian prime ministerVibrant campaignsPolling stations are open from 08:00 local time (04:00 GMT) until 20:00. Final results must be published no later than 16 November.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a run-off between the two top-placed candidates must be held two weeks after the results of the first round are published.

Opinion polls suggest a win for philosopher and former Education Minister Giorgi Margvelashvili, a member of Mr Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition.

But a second round with David Bakratze, who represents Mr Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) remains a possibility.

Nino Burjenadze, another top contender, is one the most well known female politicians in Georgia.

"It is the first time that the candidate from the ruling party is not using administrative resources to boost his campaign," Mr Ivanishvili told the BBC.

"The election is taking place is a peaceful and balanced environment. This is the first European-style election in Georgian history."

Unlike elections in other post-Soviet countries, this vote in Georgia is a genuine process with vibrant campaigns and a wide choice of candidates, says the BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in the capital Tbilisi.

The country is moving closer to a parliamentary democracy although the president will formally remain the head of state and retain an important role in foreign policy, our correspondent adds.

Since coming to power in the bloodless 2003 "Rose Revolution" Mr Saakashvili has implemented reforms which helped root out corruption.

He pursued a pro-Western foreign policy and improved public services in the Caucasus republic, where poverty remains widespread.

But the country's prime minister, who is also Georgia's richest man, has dismissed these achievements, calling Mr Saakashvili a "liar" and a "dictator".

He has indicated that the outgoing president could face questioning or even prosecution over the alleged crimes of his government after his term ends.

Mr Ivanishvili has not yet named a successor as prime minister.




What about the DASHBOARD??

Healthcare.Gov - Stec Research

Aneesh Chopra, Vivek Kundra and other Health Czars set it up then went to private biz to cash in.

Advisory Board Company


Barack Obama's Single Payer Dreams Are Coming True In Real Time'...

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Source: The Ulsterman Report

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:24


I suppose it's still possible that some people haven't heard this about me, because God knows I repeat it often enough: when I was five years old, I saw the USAF Thunderbirds flying F-100 Super Sabers at Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda; from that moment I spent twelve years preparing to enter the United States Air Force Academy, and have been in love with flying ever since.

During the years between that first overhead flash of silver, red, white and blue, and this exact moment '' right now '' I have wanted to be a fighter pilot. I studied military history, weapon systems, strategy and tactics, and learned by heart every piece of hardware in our inventory, and the Soviet inventory, as well.

Not long ago, the man who made my career possible '' Glenn Reynolds, aka The Blogfather, akaInstapundit, wrote a simple, throw-away sentence that went through my forehead like a diamond bullet. It fundamentally changed the way I see things, and like a diamond bullet through the forehead '' it hurt.

Glenn was talking about the pummeling the GOP was taking in the polls during and after the latest ''government shutdown,'' which was in fact caused by President Obama but which was reported in the press '' universally '' as being the fault of the Republicans. He wrote:

The GOP has to deal with the problem posed by a hostile media. It's like trying to mount an invasion when the enemy has air superiority.

Up until that instant, I thought I had a good sense of the advantage that the Democrats, and their control-freak ilk, had over those of us that value responsibility, freedom and being left alone. I have done innumerable commentaries on press bias; I've even done some math with Electoral College voting showing what a difference a 15 percentage point spin does to Presidential campaigns.

So I thought I had a handle on the political consequences of this kind of media headwind. But I don't naturally think like a politician. I think like a fighter pilot.

There are scores, if not hundreds of variables at play on the modern battlefield '' but there is only one essential element: only one. You can still lose if you have it, but without it you simply do not have a chance. And that one variable is not just air superiority '' the ability to fight and win in the skies over the battlespace '' but air supremacy: you must own the skies.

With air supremacy comes reconnaissance. With air supremacy comes air strikes. With air supremacy comes the ability to locate, and destroy, enemy armor, ships, convoys and troop concentrations. Air supremacy is a force multiplier: AWACS command and control aircraft can vector inbound strike packages fluidly and flexibly, hitting targets of opportunity as they appear.

Without air supremacy, you formerly could not move in daylight. Now, you cannot move at all. Without air supremacy your troop concentrations and movements are known to the enemy, while you remain blind to theirs. Without air supremacy you cannot protect assets. Any concentration of forces large enough to do serious damage is detected, located, identified and destroyed before it can get into effective range.

This is true over land and it is true at sea. If you are fighting a conventional war and you do not own the skies, you are going to lose.

And so with that one sentence, Glenn Reynolds made clear to me not only how serious our problem is: he also made it clear to me what the solution has to be, and it is a solution that, frankly, makes me a little ill.

I meant what I said. The logic and evidence for it is overwhelming: If you are fighting a conventional war and you do not own the skies, you are going to lose.

So: logically, if this statement is true, and you do not like the conclusion, then you have to change one of the operators. And that looks like this:

If you do not have air supremacy, and you don't want to lose, then you must not fight a conventional war.

I have some thoughts on how to do that: how to fight a non-conventional political war using guerrilla messaging techniques. That's going to be the subject of my next Firewall, which I'll shoot next week.

Until then, let me show you how this would work on a target working against the Liberal messaging machine and their unchallengeable (for now) air supremacy.

The tagline for my website has been SMART CONSERVATIVE THINKING. I chose it because it was bold, it was defiant, and it was assertive: it was running to the top of a hill and planting a flag for people to rally around.

Now, with my new vision, I see that it is all those things: a conventional unit on an open plain. That flag, and that hill, will be turned into searing napalm the instant is starts to become enough of a threat to warrant an airstrike.

That message '' that smart, common-sense, responsible conservative message '' cannot change. That message is the entire reason we are fighting this battle in the first place. But I have to stop thinking like an American '' which is not only hard but extremely distasteful for me '' and start thinking like the Viet Cong. I have to start thinking the way the Left itself started thinking forty years ago. They didn't come out and say GET YOUR COMMUNISM HERE. They turned students into professors who then turned out more students. That's how we have to think: the Long March.


So, the first person who should listen to this idea of mine, is me. Rather than a banner which alienates anyone who is not already a conservative before they hear so much as a syllable of reason, I will use one that recruits, rather than repels those people who know the system is broken and don't like where this country is headed. I can't control the fact that the word conservative has been smeared; but it has. There's a laser target designator on that word, and it lights it up to a constellation of attack aircraft flying high overhead. So we will fade into the undergrowth, and deploy some serious camouflage.

Starting on Monday, October 28th, 2013 the tag line at will no longer be SMART CONSERVATIVE THINKING. Starting on Monday we will become THE COMMON-SENSE RESISTANCE.

And it was only after coming to grips that what we have in our hands are not F-22's but rather bamboo spears, that I realized there was a person in history who was faced with a similar problem, and it wasn't Mao, and it wasn't Ho Chi Minh.

It was this guy: George Washington image

(If you would like to help start distributing bamboo spears to General Washington's troops, please clickHERE and help us ammo-up. With your help, we'll get stealth fighters out of this someday; until then it's one step at a time.)

VIDEO-Three ways to prepare for the health insurance exchange tsunami | The Advisory Board Company

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 21:09

Are You Ready for a New Wave of Patients?When health insurance exchanges go live next year, you'll be competing for up to 24 million newly insured patients.

These patients may have limited familiarity with the health care system or unmanaged chronic conditions. But all of them are going to be price-sensitive, discerning customers, who want high-quality service offerings, an easily navigable care environment, and affordably priced options.

Being ready will be the difference between 24 million challenges and 24 million opportunities.

Turn Your Challenges Into OpportunitiesTo start, get a refresher on the exchanges, see what your patients have in common, and understand your role in the enrollment process.

Then, read our white paper, Navigating Health Insurance Exchanges, and watch our on-demand webconference to get a full overview of the exchange rollout, how the exchanges, Medicaid, and employer-sponsored insurance interact, and implications for health system margins and operations.


What happened to all of Obama's technology czars? | Michelle Malkin

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 04:55

What happened to all of Obama's technology czars?by Michelle MalkinCreators SyndicateCopyright 2013

Why does the White House need a private-sector ''tech surge'' to repair its wretched Obamacare website failures? Weren't all of the president's myriad IT czars and their underlings supposed to ensure that taxpayers got the most effective, innovative, cutting-edge and secure technology for their money?

Now is the perfect time for an update on Obama's top government titans of information technology. As usual, ''screw up, move up'' is standard bureaucratic operating procedure.

Let's start with the ''federal chief information officer.'' In 2009, Obama named then 34-year-old ''whiz kid'' Vivek Kundra to the post overseeing $80 billion in government IT spending. At 21, Kundra was convicted of misdemeanor theft. He stole a handful of men's shirts from a J.C. Penney's department store and ran from police in a failed attempt to evade arrest. Whitewashing the petty thief's crimes, Obama instead effused about his technology czar's ''depth of experience in the technology arena.''

Just as he was preparing to take the federal job, an FBI search warrant was issued at Kundra's workplace. He was serving as the chief technology officer of the District of Columbia. Two of Kundra's underlings, Yusuf Acar and Sushil Bansal, were charged in an alleged scheme of bribery, kickbacks, ghost employees and forged timesheets. Kundra went on leave for five days and was then reinstated after the feds informed him that he was neither a subject nor a target of the investigation.

As I noted in my 2009 book, ''Culture of Corruption,'' city and federal watchdogs had identified a systemic lack of controls in Kundra's office. Veteran D.C. newspaper columnist Jonetta Rose Barras reported that Acar ''was consistently promoted by his boss, Vivek Kundra, receiving with each move increasing authority over sensitive information and operating with little supervision.'' Yet, Team Obama emphasized that Kundra had no idea what was going on in his workplace, which employed about 300 workers.

A mere 29 months after taking the White House job, Kundra left for a cushy fellowship at Harvard University. In January 2012, he snagged an executive position at, which touted his ''demonstrated track record of driving innovation.''

In 2011, Obama appointed former Microsoft executive and FCC managing director Steven VanRoekel to succeed Kundra. At the time, he promised ''to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government.'' Mission not accomplished.

Next up: Obama's ''U.S. chief technology officer.'' In May 2009, the president appointed Aneesh Chopra ''to promote technological innovation to help the country meet its goals such as job creation, reducing health care costs and protecting the homeland. Together with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, their jobs are to make the government more effective, efficient and transparent.''

Chopra's biggest accomplishment? A humiliating cameo in December 2009 on ''The Daily Show'' with liberal comedian Jon Stewart, who mocked the administration's pie-in-the-sky Open Government Initiative. Chopra resigned three years later, ran unsuccessfully for Virginia lieutenant governor and now works as a ''senior fellow'' at the far-left Center for American Progress, which is run by former Clinton administration hit man turned Obama helpmate John Podesta.

Obama replaced Chopra with Todd Park, the former ''chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.'' The White House described him as a ''change agent and 'entrepreneur-in-residence,' helping HHS harness the power of data, technology and innovation to improve the health of the nation.'' Park oversees the ''Presidential Innovation Fellows'' program and is also a ''senior fellow'' in health IT and health reform policy at Podesta's Center for American Progress. CAP has tirelessly defended Obamacare and its global joke of an IT infrastructure.

In 2010, when President Obama first rolled out a dog-and-pony demonstration of, Park basked in the glow of positive media coverage. He bragged to about working ''24/7 '... in a very, very nimble hyper consumer focused way '... all fused in this kind of maelstrom of pizza, Mountain Dew and all-nighters, and you know, idealism.''

It was, as you all now know, all hype and glory. So who has Obama called in to oversee the rescue mission? None other than the administration's ''change agent and entrepreneur-in-residence,'' CTO Todd Park, who helped build the broken system in the first place!

Obamacare also created the ''Bureau of Health Information'' and a new ''assistant secretary of health information,'' who coordinates with a separate ''national coordinator for health information technology'' overseeing the equally disastrous electronic medical records mandate. Harvard University's David Blumenthal held the post from 2009 to 2011 before returning to his Ivy League home.

Then came Farzad Mostashari, who was ''at the forefront of the administration's health IT efforts and is a resource to the entire health system to support the adoption of health information technology and the promotion of nationwide health information exchange to improve health care.'' In August 2013, Mostashari announced his resignation, and earlier this month, he became a ''visiting fellow'' at the Brookings Institution's Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, waste our money screwing things up and then run back to academia to train the next generation of incompetent technocrats.

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-2010-HEALTHCARE CABAL-Bringing government up to data - Abby Phillip and Kim Hart -

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 22:11

For instance, the Government Accountability Office on Monday, found that the Office of Management and Budget's IT Dashboard '-- a cornerstone project created by Kundra and Zients one year ago to track the performance of technology contracts across the government '-- relies on a fair amount of inaccurate data. While the tool increases the transparency of nearly $80 billion in technology contracts, it contains some inconsistencies that leave both federal watchdogs and the public without a complete picture, the GAO found.

Kundra said the OMB has already addressed many of the complaints with its new version of the IT Dashboard, released last week. He also noted the significant progress his office has made in creating an environment conducive to sharing data and holding colleagues accountable for spending.

This month, Zients and Kundra halted $20 billion in projects while eyeing major cuts to others. They also launched a 120-day review of how federal officials manage IT projects, hoping to find more efficient processes.

Zients, Kundra and Chopra have put much of their efforts into making information that often hides on government spreadsheets available to the public, in the hope that software developers can use the raw data to create new online tools to look up crime statistics, pothole repairs and school performance, for example.

But not all government transparency projects have been well received, with critics arguing that the data are not always useful or reliable, and some agencies resent having to turn over data. For example, was supposed to have detailed data on stimulus spending, but the GAO found that the information was out of date and incomplete when the website first launched last year.

Chopra has tried to make accessing information more consumer-friendly, most recently launching, where consumers can find information on nearly every health insurance provider and plan, even though some insurance companies aren't thrilled to have to turn over such detailed data.

The three men know each other well, having worked together since early in their careers. They often finish each other's thoughts and exchange sarcastic banter and they have been known to have 3 a.m. phone conversations to hash out the details of a plan or brainstorm a solution to the latest crisis.

During their 10 years together at the Advisory Board Co., Zients successfully led the company's public offering as its CEO, while Chopra brought his experience on health care to the administration and has since championed top health care priorities like digitizing medical records and implementing a system to create an online market for health insurance coverage.

HEALTHCARE CABAL-Sapna Singh Kundra | Results for Development Institute

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 22:12

Sapna Singh Kundra joined the Results for Development Institute in September 2007. She works on health systems development issues, focusing on public stewardship of private providers and demand-side financing for health.

Prior to joining Results for Development, Ms. Kundra worked with local and international NGOs in South Asia to develop and implement education, health, and microfinance programs for rural communities. She also has several years of private sector experience as a consultant to global financial institutions at the Corporate Executive Board, a best practices research and consulting firm. At the Corporate Executive Board, Ms. Kundra helped build the company's Operations Council program, providing best practices research, tools, and executive education to a membership of operations executives at 100 of the world's leading financial services providers.

Ms. Kundra continues to pursue her passion for enabling women and children to access high quality education through non-profit work she does in her personal time, building and maintaining primary and secondary educational institutions for girls and women reaching hundreds of Indian villages in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Harayana. She also implements a scholarship program, providing competitive, merit- and need-based scholarships for university education to students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Ms. Kundra holds a Masters in Public Health from the George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services, where she concentrated in global health policy, and a Bachelors degree in International Economics from the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.


Todd Park

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:57

Todd Park

Chief Technology Officer

Todd Park is the United States Chief Technology Officer and in this role serves as an Assistant to the President. Todd joined the Administration in August 2009 as Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role, he served as a change agent and ''entrepreneur-in-residence,'' helping HHS harness the power of data, technology, and innovation to improve the health of the nation.

Prior to joining HHS, Mr. Park co-founded Athenahealth and co-led its development into one of the most innovative health IT companies in the industry. He also co-founded Castlight, a web-based health care shopping service for consumers. Mr. Park has also served in a volunteer capacity as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focused on health IT and health reform policy, and as senior health care advisor to Ashoka, a leading global incubator of social entrepreneurs, where he helped start Healthpoint Services, a venture to bring affordable telehealth, drugs, diagnostics, and clean water to rural India. Mr. Park graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College with an A.B. in economics.

ATHENA-PARK-Sponsors | Health Datapalooza

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 01:01

Join the excitement, become a sponsor of Health Datapalooza 2014!

Health Datapalooza is a unique opportunity to extend your brand identify and market your products and capabilities to a targeted audience. Over the course of two days, you'll have the chance to expose your brand to over 2,400 attendees members of government, industry, and non-government organizations.

With our varied sponsorship opportunities, you can select sponsorships that meet your goals, capture the attention of your target audience and place your brand before the decision-makers to whom you market.

Sponsorships are now available for Health Datapalooza 2014.

For a complete list of sponsorship opportunities, click here!

Thank you to our 2013 sponsors, who enabled us to provide an excellent agenda and experience for the 2,000 attendees at our 2013 event. We are grateful to our many generous sponsors who have invested in the continued growth of the health data ecosystem and Health Datapalooza.

See below for a full list of our 2013 sponsors.

2013 Lead Sponsors

2013 Challenge Sponsor

Founding Sponsors

2013 Supporting Sponsors2013 Contributing Sponsors 2013 Collaborative Sponsors 2013 Media Sponsors

A Data-Powered Revolution in Health Care | The White House

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 01:00

Todd ParkMay 28, 201312:40 PM EDT

Thomas Friedman's New York Times column, Obamacare's Other Surprise, highlights a rising tide of innovation that has been unleashed by the Affordable Care Act and the Administration's health IT and data initiatives. Supported by digital data, new data-driven tools, and payment policies that reward improving the quality and value of care, doctors, hospitals, patients, and entrepreneurs across the nation are demonstrating that smarter, better, more accessible, and more proactive care is the best way to improve quality and control health care costs.

We are witnessing the emergence of a data-powered revolution in health care. Catalyzed by the Recovery Act, adoption of electronic health records is increasing dramatically. More than half of all doctors and other eligible providers and nearly 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic health records to improve care, an increase of more than 200 percent since 2008. In addition, the Administration's Health Data Initiative is making a growing supply of key government data on everything from hospital charges and quality to regional health care system performance statistics freely available in computer-readable, downloadable form, as fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, and discovery.

As Friedman describes, these trends, combined with efforts under the Affordable Care Act to change how we pay health care providers to better reward improving the quality and value of care, are creating a ''new marketplace and platform for innovation.'' Entrepreneurs and innovators across the country are developing and deploying new data-powered IT tools to help clinicians succeed at delivering better care at lower cost.

These tools are giving clinicians the ability to measure how they are doing, compare how they are doing relative to others, and set and meet goals. They are enabling clinicians to analyze their patient population, understand who needs help (including and especially patients who haven't been able to come into their office), and proactively reach out and give those patients the care they need. They are helping clinicians and patients get the latest and greatest evidence-based, life-saving best practices at their fingertips. And much more.

Many of the entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving this revolution will be joining us and leaders from across the health care system next week at the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, a national celebration of data-powered innovation in health care.

We are beginning to see what happens when you unleash the power of American innovators and data to transform health care for the better from the ground up. It's no surprise to the doctors, hospitals, patients and entrepreneurs who have been working so hard to improve health care. But it is, indeed, great news for the nation.

Read more:

Todd Park is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.


Group of House Republicans call for Sebelius resignation | The Daily Caller

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:05

Thirty-three House Republicans sent a letter Thursday to President Barack Obama, urging him to ask Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to resign over the thorny rollout

The Obamacare enrollment website has suffered a number of problems since it went live on October 1, problems which have not yet been fully ameliorated. According to the signees of the letter, those problems are grave enough that Sebelius should step down.

''The scope of the problem is so great that, were this a private company or military command, the CEO or general would have been fired,'' they write. ''We are, therefore, calling on you to hold Secretary Sebelius accountable for the fiasco that is and ask for her resignation.''

The members said the rollout of the website should have been delayed until it the website was fully functional, but that by asking Sebelius to resign, Obama could help salve the wound.

''It's not too late,'' they write. ''By calling for the resignation of Secretary Sebelius, you can send a powerful signal that the American people will not be held responsible for her department's failures. By granting a delay in the rollout of Obamacare, you can ensure fairness for all Amercians, not just the select few.''

The letter is signed by 33 House Republicans: Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, California Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Montana Rep. Steve Daines, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho, Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, Montana Rep. Steve Daines, Texas Rep. Pete Olson, Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs, Tennesee Rep. Stephen Fincher, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, Texas Rep. Randy Weber, Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Mississippi Rep. Alan Nunnelee, Texas Rep. Roger Williams, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, and Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks.

Sebelius will testify on the Obamacare rollout next Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Twitter / grindingdude: Michelle's ties are bad enough ...

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Weekly Address: Enrolling in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 22:45

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC'-- In this week's address, President Obama discussed the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, which gives millions of Americans the opportunity to have access to affordable and reliable healthcare'--many for the first time.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, October 26, 2013.

Remarks for President Barack ObamaWeekly AddressThe White HouseOctober 26, 2013

Hi, everybody. A few weeks ago, we launched an important new part of the Affordable Care Act.

It's called the Marketplace. And for Americans without health insurance, and Americans who buy insurance on their own because they can't get it at work, it's a very big deal.

If you're one of those people, the Affordable Care Act makes you part of a big group plan for the first time. The Marketplace is where you can apply and shop for affordable new health insurance choices. It gathers insurers under one system to compete for your business. And that choice and competition have actually helped bring prices down.

Ultimately, the easiest way to buy insurance in this Marketplace will be a new website, But as you may have heard, the site isn't working the way it's supposed to yet. That's frustrating for all of us who have worked so hard to make sure everyone who needs it gets health care. And it's especially frustrating for the Americans who've been trying to get covered. The site has been visited more than 20 million times so far. Nearly 700,000 people have applied for coverage already. That proves just how much demand there is for these new quality, affordable health care choices. And that's why, in the coming weeks, we are going to get it working as smoothly as it's supposed to. We've got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address these problems, every single day.

But even as we improve the website, remember that the website isn't the only way to apply for coverage under these new plans. We've updated to offer more information about enrolling over the phone, by mail, or in person with a specially-trained navigator who can help answer your questions. Just call 1-800-318-2596 or visit Don't worry '' these plans will not sell out. We're only a few weeks into a six-month open enrollment period, and everyone who wants insurance through the Marketplace will get it.

Some people have poked fun at me this week for sounding like an insurance salesman. And that's okay. I'd still be out there championing this law even if the website were perfect. I'll never stop fighting to help more hardworking Americans know the economic security of health care. That's something we should all want.

That's why it's also interesting to see Republicans in Congress expressing so much concern that people are having trouble buying health insurance through the new website '' especially considering they've spent the last few years so obsessed with denying those same people access to health insurance that they just shut down the government and threatened default over it.

As I've said many times before, I'm willing to work with anyone, on any idea, who's actually willing to make this law perform better. But it's well past the time for folks to stop rooting for its failure. Because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success.

The Affordable Care Act gives people who've been stuck with sky-high premiums because of preexisting conditions the chance to get affordable insurance for the first time.

This law means that women can finally buy coverage that doesn't charge them higher premiums than men for the same care.

And everyone who already has health insurance, whether through your employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, will keep the benefits and protections this law has already put in place. Three million more young adults have health insurance on their parents' plans because of the Affordable Care Act. More than six million people on Medicare have saved an average of $1,000 on their prescription medicine because of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, more than 8 million Americans received half a billion dollars in refunds from their insurers because of the Affordable Care Act. And for tens of millions of women, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free because of the Affordable Care Act.

That's all part of this law, and it's here to stay.

We did not fight so hard for this reform for so many years just to build a website. We did it to free millions of American families from the awful fear that one illness or injury '' to yourself or your child '' might cost you everything you'd worked so hard to build. We did it to cement the principle that in this country, the security of health care is not a privilege for a fortunate few, but a right for every one of us to enjoy. We have already delivered on part of that promise, and we will not rest until the work is done.

Thank you, and have a great weekend.


Families USA Receives $1 Million Grant to Tell Pro-ObamaCare Stories |

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 04:26

Jim Young / ReutersSenate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signs a copy of the bill for Ron Pollack after the Senate approved a package of changes to President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare overhaul and sent the bill to the House of Representatives for final passage in Washington, March 25, 2010.

Families USA has received a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which it will use to collect and distribute to the media personal stories of those who have benefited from the new health insurance exchange rolled out by the Obama Administration October 1. The announcement is good news for the President, who has been widely criticized for the horrible launch of the online marketplace

''The purpose is to bridge the information gap for people who can significantly benefit from the Affordable Care Act,'' Ron Pollack, the Executive Director of Families USA, tells TIME. ''Too many people who can benefit enormously are unaware of it.''

Families USA, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization that calls itself ''The Voice for Health CareConsumers,'' has been helping journalists find health care stories for decades. They found stories before the ACA was enacted in 2010 to show how the bill could prove beneficial, and have since collected stories of beneficiaries, like the young adult who can now stay on their parents' health care plan and the consumer with a pre-existing condition who now can buy insurance.

The unsolicited donation will ''significantly expand'' the story bank, which is already over 950 strong, Pollack says, and allow the organization and its partner GMMB, a communications firm, to hire six new positions in Washington, DC. Pollack says that Families USA will be providing new stories for the media and others who are interested ''before the month is over.'' ''We have a bunch of stories that are in the hopper for vetting,'' adds Pollack.

Only in recent months has the insurance exchange registered on the American public's radar. In early September, barely half (51%) knew that exchanges were going to be available in their state; that has risen to nearly two-thirds (65%), according to a Pew poll released this week. The cost of the website is also unknown: reports have suggested that the cost to taxpayers is anywhere from $70 million to over $350 million.

What is known is that the website's software has had serious problems, from failing to properly set up user accounts to sending duplicate enrollee information to health insurers. The Obama Administration said Wednesday night that it will give Americans who buy health insurance through the new online marketplace an extra six weeks to obtain coverage before they incur a penalty, which is $95 per adult, or 1% of family income, whichever is greater. Those who buy coverage through the exchange will have until March 31, instead of February 15, to sign up for a plan.

Contractors who helped build and service were grilled Thursday before a House committee. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify October 30 before the same House panel.

The federally run health exchange has been criticized for more than just the website. On Thursday the New York Times ran a front-page story on how the exchanges are not encouraging competition in rural areas, leading to the Affordable Care Act's uneven effect on the cost of insurance premiums. Earlier in the week the Washington Post ran a front-page story on how the network of nonprofit insurance companies, also created to foster competition and lower costs, was in trouble in part due to a lack of government funding.

But for now, Pollack and the media are mostly focused on the tarnished website.

''Hopefully when it gets fixed we'll have a whole lot more stories to vet,'' said Pollack, who has talked with officials from the White House and HHS, including Secretary Sebelius, about the rollout. ''The pool of people that we can work with is smaller than it otherwise would be, but we're expecting that will grow significantly in the weeks ahead'' as the problems are fixed, said Pollack.


Ministry of Truth


Silencing dissent by SWATing messengers of truth

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Source: Northeast Intelligence Network

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 22:45

Image courtesy of Canada Free Press

Please comment on this article at Canada Free Presshere

By Douglas J. Hagmann

26 October 2013: ''Fasten your seatbacks and tray tables in their full upright and locked position. We'll be on the ground shortly.'' That is the final warning aboard the aircraft known as America, which will be using runway 39A to taxi to the terminal of tyranny. Most of the passengers aboard the luxury aircraft have no clue to what awaits them, as the captain and crew have lulled the majority into a false trance of tranquility. The few aboard the aircraft who were aware of their final destination tried to warn the other unsuspecting passengers, who have been immersed in their personal electronic devices, sleeping or watching the airline version of the corporate media, the mouthpieces for their fascist facilitators.

So it is in the United States today. Except those aboard this hijacked luxury aircraft who have been warning others of the danger ahead have been the targets of an increasingly aggressive campaign to silence them '' to silence us '' by any means necessary. This is the historical hallmark of the last warning of the final approach to the terminal of tyranny.

They are coming for us

Most people are familiar with the accounts of Glenn Greenwald's partner (ironically named David Miranda, at least to those of us in America), being recently harassed at Heathrow airport in the UK after Greenwald began exposing the scope of the NSA spying campaign. Despite the warnings that this action portended, most people simply decided to turn their personal devices of diversion louder, effectively drowning out the warning bells tolling for the death of the most important freedoms in America '' the freedom to tell the truth.

The warning bells have been ringing before and after, yet the masses entranced by the bells and whistles of their own devices have firmly kept them subjugated to their own normalcy biases. Even some internet bloggers, citizen journalists, and those daring to awaken a slumbering or deliberately distracted and deceived citizenry have felt somewhat insulated against the encroaching tyranny.

As we get closer to the terminal, however, that feeling of insulation is turning into a sense of dread, as the last threads of the fabric of one's normalcy bias are being rendered to expose the awaiting tyranny. It is here that you will see that they are coming for you, for all of us, who refuse to advance their agenda of lies and distortions. It will very likely be a visit in the darkest hours of the night that you will be paid a visit by mercenaries of malevolence hired by the despots piloting this hijacked aircraft.

I cannot tell you whether you are next on the list, but I can tell you there is a list and the truth-tellers are on it. The modern day Paul Revere's are in their crosshairs, for they are the last obstacles to full-blown tyranny and fascism that awaits us. Once silenced, there will be no one left to warn the slumbering or the deceived. The bells will go silent.

They are coming for our sources

Lest you tend to discount this as mere hyperbole, I call your attention to a 15-year veteran reporter in Washington, D.C. named Audrey Hudson. Audrey Hudson was nominated twice by The Washington Times for the Pulitzer Prize, and is now an independent journalist, shedding any corporate restraints to bring the truth to the American people. I've had the honor and privilege to speak with Ms. Hudson and multiple occasions, who once cited me in a Washington Times article she wrote a few years ago about the curious nature of a ''terrorist dry-run'' aboard a U.S. flight.

Her work ethic, integrity, and persistent search for the truth is above reproach, and certainly well deserving of a Pulitzer Prize. She is very detailed and extremely loyal to the truth, wherever it might lead. She is a leader in the charge for the truth about the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Air Marshall program, and the TSA.

It should be clear to all who understand what is taking place that the veteran investigative journalist was the victim of a campaign of intimidation by the fascists and their facilitators. It was a 4:30 am surprise visit by several officers acting under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, under the thinly veiled pretext of a possible violation by her husband related to 27 year-old closed case, that shattered the tranquility of her home last August 6th.

These armor clad, gun wielding agents of the state shed all pretense of civility as they burst into her home to ostensibly search for guns illegally owned by her husband. It was some obscure reference on the fully compromised and cooperative social network known as Facebook that this egregious act of tyranny was justified. It is Big Brother at his finest, the merging of a corporate entity acting as the well-paid whore of a burgeoning police state. Such an unwelcome and unexpected visit at 4:30 am to the home of a respected journalist shows that there are no boundaries they will not cross, no civility they will not trample, and no doors they will not break down to silence the truth.

The real reason behind this venomous visit exists in the details. Ms. Hudson is now speaking out because of what the agents of this Gestapo-like tactic took from her home. While the search warrant was limited to any alleged guns on the premises '' again '' stemming from a quarter-century old incident reportedly involving her husband, their reach well exceeded their authority.

What was taken from the home of Audrey Hudson was more valuable than any gun. What was taken from Audrey Hudson, in addition to her freedoms as an American citizen and a Pulitzer Prize nominee for her journalistic prowess, were her pages of notes and names of sources inside and outside of government who had confidentially provided her information over the years. Information that we, as Americans, could rely upon to keep our government in check. The identities of brave men and women who risked their careers and even their lives to expose what was '' and is '' taking place in the terminal of tyranny.

The SWAT team that descended upon her home in the dark of the night robbed Ms. Hudson of more than her weapons. They robbed her of her ability to tell her sources that their identities are safe with her.

Her sources, now exposed to the Gestapo-like fascist government we have allowed to hijack America, now knows who the whistleblowers are. What quiet fate might await them once inside the terminal of tyranny? What damage has been caused to all of America by this overreach? How many will turn up destitute, or worse, dead, from the blowback?

The mission seems clear, especially since one of the armor clad night ninjas standing inside her home identified himself as a former air marshal official, a member of the agency that Ms. Hudson had exposed in her reporting of potential misdeeds. Payback, apparently, or at the very least, a conflict of interest. But then, they've already passed the point of even trying to conceal their concern for the rule of law.

We are at the terminal

As most aboard the luxury aircraft known as America are about to learn the hard way, we are about to reach the terminal. Behind the gates of unconstitutional forces allowed to exist under the illusion of security lies the tyranny of Hitler's Germany. The passengers who have attempted to rouse the slumbering and self-absorbed passengers during the flight will no longer have a voice if we don't act soon.

We must stand behind those who have already been molested for telling the truth about what is taking place. We must back Audrey Hudson and every one like her, and make sure her story is shouted from every rooftop in America.

Failure is not an option, for failure will result in our ultimate enslavement and death. Put down the iPads, iPods, and break from the trance induced by the corporate media and pay attention, for we'll be on the ground shortly. For others, they will be in the ground, for tyranny does not appreciate dissent.

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SWAT team raids investigative journalist's home, confiscates confidential DHS files

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Source: RT - USA

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:27

Published time: October 25, 2013 16:12Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

An investigative journalist says federal agents raided her home earlier this year and confiscated the notes she used to report on a government cover-up. Now she fears her sources have been compromised.

Audrey Hudson told The Daily Caller that the files were taken during a SWAT raid of her Shady Side, Maryland home this past August conducted as part of an investigation into her husband, Paul Flanagan. Authorities were following up on a lead that Flanagan unlawfully possessed a number of firearms, and reportedly pilfered his wife's personal documents during an armed raid of the couples' home.

According to the Daily Caller's Alex Pappas, authorities had reason to believe that Flanagan was amassing a gun collection despite being legally barred from owning firearms due to a previous conviction. The Daily Caller obtained a search warrant showing that law enforcement was given the go-ahead to conduct a raid because Flanagan had been found guilty of resisting arrest in 1986 and thus prohibited from owning weapons. Authorities believed he had broken that restriction.

''One party that was interviewed remembered distinctly about Flanagan advising he had recently purchased a Bersa .380 handgun, and observed pictures of firearms similar to AK-47 semi-automatic rifles which were identified by Flanagan as being his,'' court documents obtained by Pappas say.

Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security both participated in the raid because Flanagan is employed by the Coast Guard, which is considered a division of DHS. If the raid was indeed over Flanagan's alleged gun collection, though, then why was his wife's papers taken by law enforcement? Hudson believes that the federal agents who entered her home knew she had worked with federal whistleblowers and wanted her sources.

Hudson is currently a freelance writer, but has reported previously for Newsmax, the Colorado Observer and The Washington Times.

''After the search began, Hudson said she was asked by an investigator with the Coast Guard Investigative Service if she was the same Audrey Hudson who had written a series of critical stories about air marshals for The Washington Times over the last decade,'' Pappas reported.

Hudson told the Daily Caller that during the raid, authorities confiscated file which included notes that ''were used to expose how the Federal Air Marshal Service had lied to Congress about the number of airline flights there were actually protecting against another terrorist attack.''

It took an entire month after the raid for Hudson to learn that the files had been taken by authorities. Miguel Bosch, a former air marshal-turned-special agent for the Coast Guard Investigative Service, called Hudson in September and told her that officials had her documents: handwritten and typed notes stemming from a series of interviews with confidential sources she had conducted, as well as other files.

''During the course of the search, the CGIS agent discovered government documents labeled FOUO '' For Official Use Only (FOUO) '' and LES '' Law Enforcement Sensitive. The files that contained these documents were cataloged on the search warrant inventory and taken from the premises,'' a representative for the Coast Guard told the Daily Caller. ''The documents were reviewed with the source agency and determined to be obtained properly through the Freedom of Information Act.''

The documents were returned to Hudson, but she says she doesn't buy into their explanation. She says their response only explains one of the five files taken during the raid, ''but does not explain why they took four other files with my handwritten and typed interview notes with confidential sources, that I staked my reputation as a journalist to protect under the auspices of the First Amendment of the Constitution.''

''This guy basically came in here and took my anonymous sources and turned them over '-- took my whistleblowers '-- and turned it over to the agency they were blowing the whistle on,'' Hudson told The Daily Caller. ''And these guys still work there.''

''Part of the reason I'm coming forward with this is I'm scared to contact them,'' she said. ''I'm terrified to contact them'...I've got to let these guys know somehow.''

A spokesperson for the Maryland State Police told Pappas that an investigation is currently under review regarding Hudson's husband.


Russell Brand on revolution: ''We no longer have the luxury of tradition''

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 01:33

But before we change the world, we need to change the way we think.

Russell Brand asks: "Is utopian revolution possible?" Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me. I chose the subject of revolution because the New Statesman is a political magazine and imagining the overthrow of the current political system is the only way I can be enthused about politics.

When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework I feel a dull thud in my stomach and my eyes involuntarily glaze. Like when I'm conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic. I try to remain engaged but behind my eyes I am adrift in immediate nostalgia; ''How happy I was earlier in this chat,'' I instantly think.

I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites. Billy Connolly said: ''Don't vote, it encourages them,'' and, ''The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one.''

I don't vote because to me it seems like a tacit act of compliance; I know, I know my grandparents fought in two world wars (and one World Cup) so that I'd have the right to vote. Well, they were conned. As far as I'm concerned there is nothing to vote for. I feel it is a far more potent political act to completely renounce the current paradigm than to participate in even the most trivial and tokenistic manner, by obediently X-ing a little box.

Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me, but that's not on the ballot. Is utopian revolution possible? The freethinking social architect Buckminster Fuller said humanity now faces a choice: oblivion or utopia. We're inertly ambling towards oblivion, is utopia really an option?

I heard recently Oliver Cromwell's address to the rump parliament in 1653 (online, I'm not a Time Lord) where he bawls out the whole of the House of Commons as ''whores, virtueless horses and money-grabbing dicklickers''. I added the last one but, honestly, that is the vibe. I was getting close to admiring old Oliver for his ''calls it as he sees it, balls-out'' rhetoric till I read about him on Wikipedia and learned that beyond this brilliant 8 Mile-style takedown of corrupt politicians he was a right arsehole; starving and murdering the Irish and generally (and surprisingly for a Roundhead) being a total square. The fact remains that if you were to recite his speech in parliament today you'd be hard pushed to find someone who could be legitimately offended.

I don't want to get all ''Call me Dave, I was chatting to my plumber, man of the people'' here, but the fact is I'm a recovering junkie so that means I have to hang out with a lot of other junkies to keep my head together, some of whom are clean, others who are using. Hear you this, regular New Statesman reader, browsing with irritation that the culture of celebrity has just banjoed the arse of another sacred cow and a Halloween-haired, Sachsgate-enacting, estuary-whining, glitter-lacquered, priapic berk has been undeservedly hoisted upon another cultural plinth, but '' young people, poor people, not-rich people, most people do not give a fuck about politics.

They see no difference between Cameron, Clegg, Boris, either of the Milibands or anyone else. To them these names are as obsolete as Lord Palmerston or Denis Healey. The London riots in 2011, which were condemned as nihilistic and materialistic by Boris and Cameron (when they eventually returned from their holidays), were by that very definition political. These young people have been accidentally marketed to their whole lives without the economic means to participate in the carnival. After some draconian sentences were issued, measures that the white-collar criminals who capsized our economy with their greed a few years earlier avoided, and not one hoodie was hugged, the compliance resumed. Apathy reigned.

There's little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend '' achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left's great legacy as it is dismantled around them.

Of the two possible reactions to the mechanised indifference and inefficiency of their alleged servants, not leaders '' apathy or rage '' apathy is the more accessible and is certainly preferable to those who govern.

Righteous rage surfaces rarely only in the most galling of circumstances, the riots or the Milly Dowler intrusion, where a basic taboo was transgressed, then we reach beneath the stagnant quotidian to the omnipresent truth within. In this case ''respect for the dead'', the motif upon which Sophocles's Antigone is founded.

Along with the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business, this apathy is the biggest obstacle to change. We can't alter the former without removing the latter. Can this be achieved? Obviously this is a rhetorical question and without wanting to spunk the surprise ending the answer is yes.

First, though, I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution's inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras'd my Essex arse with undue praise and money.

I once, during the early steps of this thousand-mile journey to decadent somnambulance, found myself embroiled in a London riot. It was around the bafflement of the millennium and we were all uptight about zeroes lining up three wide and planes falling from the sky and the national mood was weird.

At this point I'd attended a few protests and I loved them. At a Liverpool dockers march, the chanting, the bristling, the rippedup paving stones and galloping police horses in Bono glasses flipped a switch in me. I felt connected, on a personal level I was excited by the chaos, a necessary component of transition, I like a bit of chaos however it's delivered. The disruption of normalcy a vital step in any revolution. Even aesthetically, aside from the ideology, I beam at the spectacle of disruption, even when quite trivial. As a boy a bird in the house defecating on our concept of domesticity as much as our settee, a signal of the impermanence and illusory nature of our humdrum comforts. The riot in question came when I was working at MTV and for the first time in my life had money, which to me was little more than regal letters to be delivered to drug dealers.

My involvement in the riot came without invitation or intention, I was in fact oxymoronically shopping (emphasis on the moron) with a stylist in the West End, at the expense of MTV, which is perhaps the planet's most obvious purveyor of neurodross and pop-cultural claptrap '' like a glistening pink pony trotting through your mind shitting glitter.

I was smacked up and gacked up and togged up in the nitwit livery of late-Nineties television, a crackhead Harlequin with Hoxton hair, when it came to my attention that Reclaim the Streets had a march on. On learning this, I without a flicker of self-awareness palmed off my shopping bags jammed with consumer treats and headed for the throng. Just before the kettling and boredom, while things were still buzzing, bongos, bubbles and whistles, I was hurt when a fellow protester piously said to me: ''What you doing here? I've seen you, you work for MTV.'' I felt pretty embarrassed that my involvement was being questioned, in a manner that is all too common on the left. It's been said that: ''The right seeks converts and the left seeks traitors.'' This moral superiority that is peculiar to the left is a great impediment to momentum. It is also a right drag when you're trying to enjoy a riot.

Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness, socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I'm a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a fucking laugh. When Ali G, who had joined protesters attempting to prevent a forest being felled to make way for a road, shouted across the barricade, ''You may take our trees, but you'll never take our freedom,'' I identified more with Baron Cohen's amoral trickster than the stern activist who aggressively admonished him: ''This is serious, you cunt.''

A bit too fucking serious, actually. As John Cleese said, there is a tendency to confuse seriousness with solemnity. Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they're boring and can't compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn't lack razzmatazz.

The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes. Conservatism appeals to our selfishness and fear, our desire and self-interest; they neatly nurture and then harvest the inherent and incubating individualism.

I imagine that neurologically the pathway travelled by a fearful or selfish impulse is more expedient and well travelled than the route of the altruistic pang. In simple terms of circuitry I suspect it is easier to connect these selfish inclinations.

This natural, neurological tendency has been overstimulated and acculturated. Materialism and individualism do in moderation make sense. If you are naked and starving and someone gives you soup and a blanket your happiness will increase. That doesn't mean that if you have 10,000 silken blankets and a golden cauldron of soup made from white rhino cum your happiness will continue to proportionately increase until you're gouched out, swathed in silk, gurgling up pearlescent froth.

Biomechanically we are individuals, clearly. On the most obvious frequency of our known sensorial reality we are independent anatomical units. So we must take care of ourselves. But with our individual survival ensured there is little satisfaction to be gained by enthroning and enshrining ourselves as individuals.

These problems that threaten to bring on global destruction are the result of legitimate human instincts gone awry, exploited by a dead ideology derived from dead desert myths. Fear and desire are the twin engines of human survival but with most of our basic needs met these instincts are being engaged to imprison us in an obsolete fragment of our consciousness. Our materialistic consumer culture relentlessly stimulates our desire. Our media ceaselessly engages our fear, our government triangulates and administrates, ensuring there are no obstacles to the agendas of these slow-thighed beasts, slouching towards Bethlehem.

For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately Godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals.

By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised. Buckminster Fuller outlines what ought be our collective objectives succinctly: ''to make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone''. This maxim is the very essence of ''easier said than done'' as it implies the dismantling of our entire socio-economic machinery. By teatime.

Can this be achieved when we are enslaved by old ideologies, be they theological or economic? The absurdity of our localised consciousness and global ignorance hit me hard when I went on a Comic Relief trip to Kenya.

Like most of the superficially decent things I do in life, my motivation was to impress women more than to aid the suffering. ''A couple of days in Africa,'' I thought, ''and a lifetime cashing in on pics of me with thin babies, speculate to accumulate,'' I assured my anxious inner womaniser.

After visiting the slums of Kibera, where a city built from mud and run on fear festers on the suburbs of Nairobi, I was sufficiently schooled by Live Aid and Michael Buerk to maintain an emotional distance. It was only when our crew visited a nearby rubbish dump that the comforting buoyancy of visual clich(C)s rinsed away by the deluge of a previously inconceivable reality. This rubbish dump was not like some tip off the M25 where you might dump a fridge freezer or a smashed-in mattress. This was a nation made of waste with no end in sight. Domestic waste, medical waste, industrial waste formed their own perverse geography. Stinking rivers sluiced through banks of putrid trash, mountains, valleys, peaks and troughs all formed from discarded filth. An ecology based on our indifference and ignorance in the ''cradle of civilisation'' where our species is said to have originated. Here amid the pestilence I saw Armageddon. Here the end of the world is not a prophecy but a condition. A demented herd chewed polystyrene cud. Sows fed their piglets in the bilge. Gloomy shadows split the sun as marabou storks, five foot in span with ragged labial throats, swooped down. My mate Nik said he had to revise his vision of hell to include what he'd seen.

Kibera in Kenya. Photo: Getty

Here and there, picking through this unending slander, children foraged for bottle tops, which had some value, where all is worthless.

For a while when I returned to my sanitised house and my sanitised state of mind I guiltily thumbed bottle tops for a moment before I disposed of them; temporarily they were like crucifixes for these kids, sacrificed that I may live in privilege. A few weeks later I was in Paris at a Givenchy fashion show where the most exquisite garments cantered by on underfed, well-bred clothes horses. The spectacle was immaculate, smoke-filled bubbles burst on to the runway. To be here in this gleaming sophistication was heaven. Here starvation is a tool to achieve the perfect perpendicular pelvis.

Now, I bow to no one in my appreciation of female beauty and fancy clobber but I could not wrench the phantom of those children from my mind, in this moment I felt the integration; that the price of this decadence was their degradation. That these are not dislocated ideas but the two extremes are absolutely interdependent. The price of privilege is poverty. David Cameron said in his conference speech that profit is ''not a dirty word''. Profit is the most profane word we have. In its pursuit we have forgotten that while individual interests are being met, we as a whole are being annihilated. The reality, when not fragmented through the corrupting lens of elitism, is we are all on one planet.

To have such suffering adjacent to such excess is akin to marvelling at an incomparable beauty, whose face is the radiant epitome of celestial symmetry, and ignoring, half a yard lower down, her abdomen, cancerous, weeping and carbuncled. ''Keep looking at the face, put a handbag over those tumours. Strike a pose. Come on, Vogue.''

Suffering of this magnitude affects us all. We have become prisoners of comfort in the absence of meaning. A people without a unifying myth. Joseph Campbell, the comparative mythologist, says our global problems are all due to the lack of relevant myths. That we are trying to sustain social cohesion using redundant ideologies devised for a population that lived in deserts millennia ago. What does it matter if 2,000 years ago Christ died on the cross and was resurrected if we are not constantly resurrected to the truth, anew, moment to moment? How is his transcendence relevant if we do not resurrect our consciousness from the deceased, moribund mind of our obsolete ideologies and align with our conditions?

The model of pre-Christian man has fulfilled its simian objectives. We have survived, we have created agriculture and cities. Now this version of man must be sacrificed that we can evolve beyond the reaches of the ape. These stories contain great clues to our survival when we release ourselves from literalism and superstition. What are ideologies other than a guide for life? Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. If like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?

Little wonder then that these myths, these codes for our protection and survival, have been aborted and replaced with nihilistic narratives of individualism, peopled by sequin-covered vacuous heroes. Now we only riot and roar in hot summers or at football scores or when our dead are desecrated by the vile publications that convey this corrosive, corrupting, deceitful narrative.

I deplore corporate colonialism but not viscerally. The story isn't presented in a way that rouses me. Apple seems like such an affable outfit; I like my iPhone. Occasionally I hear some yarn about tax avoidance or Chinese iPhone factory workers committing suicide because of dreadful working conditions but it doesn't really bother me, it seems so abstract. Not in the same infuriating, visceral, immediate way that I get pissed off when I buy a new phone and they've changed the fucking chargers, then I want to get my old, perfectly good charger and lynch the executives with the cable. They make their own product, which they've already sold me, deliberately obsolete just to rinse a few more quid out of us.

But profit is not a dirty word. I hate big banks and banking and bankers but when they rip us off and do us down with derivatives and foreclosures and bundles, I roll my eyes. However when I see that I'm getting a £3.50 surcharge at a cash machine I want to put their fucking windows through. This is the selfish impulse the right expertly engages but ought to belong to the left. We have to see that all these things are connected. We have succumbed to an ideology that is 100 per cent corrupt and must be overthrown. The maintenance of this system depends on our belief that ''there's nothing we can do''; well, the government seemed pretty shook up during those riots. They snapped out of their Tuscan complacency quick enough then, and that was for a few pissed-off kids.

Those kids weren't apathetic either. They felt impotent because they are given no status, structure or space. Perhaps in a system where legitimate, peaceful protest was heard that may have been an appropriate option for them, but Stop the War marches don't stop wars, at the top of the pyramid larceny is rewarded with big bonuses. They may have been misdirected but they certainly had some vim. How beautiful it would be to see their passion utilised and directed at the source of their grievances.

The system is adept at turning our aggression on to one another. We condemn the rioters. The EDL condemns immigrants. My new rule for when I fancy doing a bit of the ol' condemnation is: ''Do the people I'm condemning have any actual power?'' The immigrant capacity to cause social negativity is pretty slender. Especially if you live in luxury in Hollywood and the only immigrants you meet are Gabby, my Mexican second mother, and Polo who looks after the garden. It probably seems more serious if you're in a council flat in Tower Hamlets. Still the fact remains that an immigrant is just someone who used to be somewhere else. Free movement of global capital will necessitate the free movement of an affordable labour force to meet the demands that the free-moving capital has created. The wrath is directed to the symptom, not the problem.

We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.

The hypocrisy '' me, working for MTV with my fancy shoes '' is a problem that can be taken care of incrementally. I don't mind giving up some of my baubles and balderdash for a genuinely fair system, so can we create one? We have to be inclusive of everyone, to recognise our similarities are more important than our differences and that we have an immediate ecological imperative. This is not a job I'd place in the hot, clammy, grasping palms of Cameron and Osborne. I shook George Osborne's hand once, by accident, it was like sliding my hand into a dilated cow.

We require a change that is beyond the narrow, prescriptive parameters of the current debate, outside the fortress of our current system. A system predicated on aspects of our nature that are dangerous when systemic: greed, selfishness and fear. These are old, dead ideas. That's why their business is conducted in archaic venues. Antiquated, elegant edifices, lined with oak and leather. We no longer have the luxury of tradition.

Cameron, Osborne, Boris, all of them lot, they went to the same schools and the same universities that have the same decor as the old buildings from which they now govern us. It's not that they're malevolent; it's just that they're irrelevant. Relics of an old notion, like Old Spice: it's fine that it exists but no one should actually use it.

We are still led by blithering chimps, in razor-sharp suits, with razor-sharp lines, pimped and crimped by spin doctors and speech-writers. Well-groomed ape-men, superficially altered by post-Clintonian trends.

We are mammals on a planet, who now face a struggle for survival if our species is to avoid expiry. We can't be led by people who have never struggled, who are a dusty oak-brown echo of a system dreamed up by Whigs and old Dutch racists.

We now must live in reality, inner and outer. Consciousness itself must change. My optimism comes entirely from the knowledge that this total social shift is actually the shared responsibility of six billion individuals who ultimately have the same interests. Self-preservation and the survival of the planet. This is a better idea than the sustenance of an elite. The Indian teacher Yogananda said: ''It doesn't matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour, once you light a match it is illuminated.'' Like a tanker way off course due to an imperceptible navigational error at the offset we need only alter our inner longitude.

Capitalism is not real; it is an idea. America is not real; it is an idea that someone had ages ago. Britain, Christianity, Islam, karate, Wednesdays are all just ideas that we choose to believe in and very nice ideas they are, too, when they serve a purpose. These concepts, though, cannot be served to the detriment of actual reality.

The reality is we have a spherical ecosystem, suspended in, as far as we know, infinite space upon which there are billions of carbon-based life forms, of which we presume ourselves to be the most important, and a limited amount of resources.

The only systems we can afford to employ are those that rationally serve the planet first, then all humanity. Not out of some woolly, bullshit tree-hugging piffle but because we live on it, currently without alternatives. This is why I believe we need a unifying and in - clusive spiritual ideology: atheism and materialism atomise us and anchor us to one frequency of consciousness and inhibit necessary co-operation.

In 2013 (another made-up imaginary concept) we cannot afford to giggle, drivel and burp like giant, pube-covered babies about quaint, old-fashioned notions like nation, capitalism and consumerism simply because it's convenient for the tiny, greedy, myopic sliver of the population that those outmoded ideas serve. I will never vote because, as Billy said, ''It encourages them.'' I did a job with Billy Connolly and Eddie Izzard not long ago and the three of us shared a dressing room. Eddie believes in democracy and spoke sincerely of his political ambitions. ''One day I'd like to be a politician . . .'' he said. I spoke of my belief that change could only come from within. ''I'd like to be a spiritual orator . . .'' I said grandly.

Billy eyed us both, with kindly disapprobation. ''I'd like to be a nuisance,'' he said. ''I want to be a troublemaker, there in the gallery in parliament shouting RUBBISH and PROVE IT.'' Who am I to argue with The Great Trickster Connolly? I will never vote and I don't think you should, either.

To genuinely make a difference, we must become different; make the tiny, longitudinal shift. Meditate, direct our love indiscriminately and our condemnation exclusively at those with power. Revolt in whatever way we want, with the spontaneity of the London rioters, with the certainty and willingness to die of religious fundamentalists or with the twinkling mischief of the trickster. We should include everyone, judging no one, without harming anyone. The Agricultural Revolution took thousands of years, the Industrial Revolution took hundreds of years, the Technological Revolution took tens, the Spiritual Revolution has come and we have only an instant to act.

Now there is an opportunity for the left to return to its vital, virile, vigorous origins. A movement for the people, by the people, in the service of the land. Socialism's historical connection with spiritual principles is deep. Sharing is a spiritual principle, respecting our land is a spiritual principle. May the first, May Day, is a pagan holiday where we acknowledge our essential relationship with our land. I bet the Tolpuddle martyrs, who marched for fair pay for agricultural workers, whose legacy is the right for us to have social solidarity, were a right bunch of herberts if you knew them. ''Thugs, yobs, hooligans,'' the Daily Mail would've called them. Our young people need to know there is a culture, a strong, broad union, that they can belong to, that is potent, virile and alive. At this time when George and Dave pilfer and pillage our land and money for their oligarch mates, at this time when the Tories are taking the EU to court to stop it curtailing their banker pals' bonuses, that there is something they can do. Take to the streets, together, with the understanding that the feeling that you aren't being heard or seen or represented isn't psychosis; it's government policy.

But we are far from apathetic, we are far from impotent. I take great courage from the groaning effort required to keep us down, the institutions that have to be fastidiously kept in place to maintain this duplicitous order. Propaganda, police, media, lies. Now is the time to continue the great legacy of the left, in harmony with its implicit spiritual principles. Time may only be a human concept and therefore ultimately unreal, but what is irrefutably real is that this is the time for us to wake up.

The revolution of consciousness is a decision, decisions take a moment. In my mind the revolution has already begun.

Find Russell on Twitter: @rustyrockets. To subscribe to the New Statesman, click here. Watch Russell introducing the contents of the rest of his issue:


Is this the decline of Wikipedia? A third of 'staff' have quit the site thanks to dumbed down software and auto-delete tools.

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Source: bertb news feed

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:14

Changes by Wikipedia staff to modernise the site have 'gone badly'Auto-delete programs designed to manage trolls are 'cutting real work'Volunteer editors feel that the uploading process has been 'dumbed down'By Aaron Sharp

PUBLISHED: 10:23 EST, 26 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:48 EST, 26 October 2013




Founder: Wikipedia chairman Jimmy Wales and his Wikimedia Foundation have changed the way the site works in order to attract new contributors

Wikipedia is in decline according to experts after it was revealed that the size of the site's editorial staff has shrunk by a third since 2007.

The crowdsourced information site, which gets at least 10 billion hits every calendar month, depends on the contribution of volunteers to regulate content which is uploaded by the public.

But fewer and fewer people are bothering to manage the online encyclopedia after a raft of changes made by the Wikimedia Foundation, which funds the infrastructure of the site.

In a bid to combat online vandalism and spoof entries, Wikipedia has begun using programs instead of people to automatically delete suspicious content.

As a result, a lot of users' hard work and genuine knowledge was erroneously censored by bots.

According to a new study from the University of Minnesota, the deletion tools are just one aspect of the site's intended modernisation ideas which have disenfranchised loyal 'Wikipedians'.

Another unpopular move by the Wikimedia group came when they changed the way content was uploaded to the site.

Whereas an uploader once had to be familiar with the language of the site, called 'Wikitext', to properly upload entries, now someone with next to no web editing experience can post articles live.

Bosses at Wikipedia changed the uploading system to something which is similar to a word processor.

Good cause: Wikipedia has tried to empower more people by make the site more user friendly, but the changes have angered loyal 'editors' who feel are frustrated at the lowering of standards

They hoped that new users would be encouraged to contribute as a result, but more experienced editorial staff have become frustrated at the ease with which spoof articles can now be added.

The result is the steep decline in Wikipedia staff, which one expert believes could be the beginning of a perpetual 'decline phase.'

One editor, speaking to the tech website Raw Story said, 'it's like they keep lowering the bar, then asking us to limbo. At a certain point, you're tripping over the stick instead of walking under it.'

Aaron Halfaker a university Grad student at the University of Minnesota, who has published extensively on the decline said: 'I categorize from 2007 until now as the decline phase of Wikipedia'.

His report established that when the new controls began to take effect, the likelihood of a new participant's edit being immediately deleted has steadily climbed.

Biased: A lack of new editors on the site means there are more articles on subjects like computer games and porn then there are women's literature and feminism

Over the same period, the proportion of those deletions made by automated tools rather than humans grew.

Unsurprisingly, the data also indicate that well-intentioned newcomers are far less likely to still be editing Wikipedia two months after their first try.

The problem is one which is harming Wikipedia's credibility as well as their staff levels, a mostly male staff who joined with narrow interests means that there many comprehensive articles on computer games and female porn stars, but entries on female literature remain limited.

The allegations of a downward spiral has been rejected by Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Ambitious: Wikipedia's aim has been to attract keen young 'reporters', but the plan has backfired (picture posed by model)

She said that dropping 'Wikitext' would attract a new type of uploader to the site, which she called 'eager cub reporters.'

Gardner said: 'The Wikipedians remind me of the crusty old desk guy who knows the style guide backwards'

'But where are the eager cub reporters? You don't get the crusty old desk guy out at three in the morning to cover a fire.

'That's for the new guy, who's got a lot of energy and potential. At Wikipedia we don't have a sufficient influx of cub reporters.''

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Now the EU wants to Tax the Internet! | UKIP Daily

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 21:13

The latest crazy idea to come out of the EU is: wait for it: they want to tax the internet. Yes that's right they are proposing to tax the net.

How it is going to be done is not yet known, but on the 25th October 2013 at the European Summit in Brussels this was announced:

''The ongoing work to tackle tax evasion, tax fraud, aggressive tax planning, tax-base erosion and profit shifting is also important for the digital economy. Member States should further coordinate their positions where appropriate in order to achieve the best possible solution for Member States and the EU in the OECD/BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) framework. In its ongoing VAT review, the Commission will also address issues which are specific to the digital economy, such as differentiated tax rates for digital and physical products. The European Council welcomes the Commission's initiative to set up an expert group on taxationof the digital economy. The European Council will return to taxation-related issues at its December 2013 meeting.''

What this means is really quite simple, the EU intends a continent-wide charge on the digital transfer of personal information outside of the EU. In other words, if you want to buy a book via an American website and transfer your personal information to the vendor, the EU will include a charge for itself. Its public rationale is this: why should the likes of Amazon base themselves in a non-EU country and not pay tax?

That explanation will appeal to many people. We have been hearing a lot recently about foreign owned companies not paying tax, and at the last G8 Summit we were told by our leaders that the world was going to get tough on tax evasion. This neatly shifted the blame away from the Governments who are spending too much to the corporations who pay too little.

Until we have some detail on how they intend to administer this, let's look at some of the potential consequences.

Firstly, this is going to cost a fortune to set up and administer.

Secondly, this could involve EU-tracking of your personal internet activity and could present a massive erosion of civil liberties, quite ironic timing as the EU is berating the USA for snooping and bugging.

Thirdly, any European based company is going to have to pay higher prices for these imports, and will make them less profitable, endanger growth and employment prospects.

Fourthly, consumers will see an automatic erosion of choice as some foreign-based companies will not be able to compete, thus leading to compound inflation as supply will be restricted.

Fifthly, this non-Tariff Barrier will artificially support less efficient EU-based companies and ruin economies of scale on a continent-wide basis and add to inflation.

Sixthly, the over-complication of business transactions will lead to gaming of the system and a higher probability of fraud and money laundering.

Seventhly, the new system will favour the larger corporations that can afford the best available accounting advice and give them a competitive advantage forcing closures of smaller businesses, and then reduce efficiencies, cause inflation and job losses.

Finally, this non-Tariff Barrier will lead inevitably to an escalation of trade war.

No matter how this tax comes into force it will kill business growth, cost jobs, increase the scope for crime '' all at a compounded rate because to cover the inevitable shortfall from one year to the next the rate and scope of the tax will increase. And all because the Governments spent too much, too badly, for too long.

Iain McKie is the UKIP Parliamentary Candidate for the Isle Of Wight. He tweets at @Iainmckie_UKIP

Agenda 21

Urban Metabolism and the Nature of Sustainable Cities

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 12:57

Stephanie Pincetl is director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. The Center studies the "urban metabolism" of Los Angeles and other cities. Jon Christensen, a journalist-in-residence at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, talked with Dr. Pincetl about urban metabolism, nature in the city, and the challenges that Los Angeles and other cities face to become more sustainable in the 21st century.

Jon Christensen: You study "urban metabolism." What does that mean? And why do you study it?

Stephanie Pincetl: Urban metabolism is an analogy. It describes the city as a living thing that requires inputs to nourish its activities, and once the flows into the city are used and metabolized, the system produces waste, just like a living organism. I study urban metabolism because it quantifies the flows into cities and enables us to understand how those flows are used. We can map those flows over socio-demographic characteristics, climate, land uses, and building types and ages, and understand where those flows are used and by whom. This provides useful insights for policy makers and others to target energy efficiency and conservation programs. It also simply reveals how much stuff is needed to keep cities going at the present rate. Urban metabolism baselines can be established over time so we can measure change as well.

Jon Christensen: If cities are like organisms, what key challenges do we face to make Los Angeles and other cities sustainable living organisms?

Stephanie Pincetl: One of the first key challenges is that we have an infrastructure that was built during the carbon age. LA was built during an era of cheap fuel, cheap land, cheap resources, like wood, cement, and other building materials, all made possible by the nation's rich natural resource base and inexpensive, abundant energy. The future will not be the same, and changing our infrastructure to reduce our use of carbon fuels and materials takes time and money. The development of a complete public transit system, for example, is very expensive. But even more difficult are the other urban infrastructure changes that we will have to make to change the shape of the city to make it more sustainable. These include making profound changes in single-family neighborhoods - allowing more small apartment buildings, cafes and other commerce in these neighborhoods, adding in small parks, and changing streets to complete streets. To make Los Angeles and other cities sustainable we will also need more distributed infrastructure for water and energy, such as electricity produced by roof top photovoltaic panels, and small-scale water treatment plants that produce recycled water for neighborhoods. All of these represent long-term, major changes for how Los Angeles and other cities will look and work. And they can be implemented.

Jon Christensen: What are "complete streets"?

Stephanie Pincetl: Complete streets is a term that is used to describe streets that include bike lanes, bioswales that infiltrate stormwater into the ground instead of simply sending rain water out to sea through stormwater drains, trees to shade sidewalks to make for a more pleasant pedestrian experience. Complete streets acknowledge walking and biking as equal forms of transportation to the car, and take advantage of nature to improve environmental quality.

Jon Christensen: We live in an arid environment and climate change is going to affect our water supplies too. Will we have enough water for the city to thrive in the future?

Stephanie Pincetl: Los Angeles is moving in a very good direction with water. Water use has been trending down over the past decade. However, there are some basic problems that are hard to resolve. Water providers need revenue. And revenue is predicated on sales. Water providers can embrace water conservation and help the public use less water, by changing outdoor landscaping, for example. But the less water people use, the less revenue the providers have, and often they have to raise rates to make up the difference, which can make customers feel cheated because they are using less and paying more. This is a vicious cycle that we need to solve. The other major problem in LA is that there are over 100 different water providers across the region. Most are public but there are also private companies, mutual water companies, and then wholesalers and retailers. This is a very complex system that is not very transparent, which makes it hard to understand, and a major challenge for better coordinating water management and more efficient water use across the region. The other big challenge is building our capacity to reuse water. Previously used water is a huge resource that is, for the most part, being wasted right now. We can treat this water to high standards, so that it can be used for drinking water, or lower standards for irrigation or industrial processes. These challenges can seem daunting, but we can solve them to make Los Angeles, and other arid cities like LA, more sustainable.

Jon Christensen: What about energy? Can we make enough clean energy for the city to run on clean energy in the future?

Stephanie Pincetl: Energy should not be a problem. Combining distributed solar generation, renewable gas made from agricultural and municipal waste streams, conservation and efficiency, we will have ample energy supplies.

Jon Christensen: How do you think about nature in the city?

Stephanie Pincetl: Nature surrounds us everywhere in the city, we live in the midst of it all the time, but are not even aware of it. Buildings are made from concrete, made with aggregate and water. Roads are asphalt, from fossil fuel. The resources that we build with and make all our daily items with are sourced from nature. When we begin to be more aware of that, it helps us understand the fundamental materiality of cities and how much they are made from nature, far flung, perhaps, and remanufactured, but nature nonetheless. That kind of awareness can better inform our decisions about building materials, their energy intensivity -- or how much energy is embedded in the things we make -- and how the built environment is both the product of transformed nature and then transforms nature where we build.

Follow UCLA Inst. of the Environment and Sustainability on Twitter:

Hundreds march in Netherlands to support 'racist Black Pete' - FRANCE 24

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:22

Hundreds of people marched in the Netherlands on Saturday to show their support for "Black Pete", the traditional Christmas sidekick of Saint Nicholas, who has been labelled as racist by critics.

"Up to 500 people protested for two-and-a-half hours in Malieveld," a park in the centre of The Hague, police spokesman Cor Spruijt told AFP.

"Some 40 people were dressed as Black Pete," he added.

"Black Pete" accompanies Saint Nicholas during a children's festival on December 5, when the Dutch give gifts to each other.

The character, who arrives on a gift-filled boat from Spain, is typically dressed in a gaudy medieval costume and afro wig, with his face painted black and lips red, prompting charges of racism.

Opponents say the character recalls the time when Dutch colonists exploited slaves, notably in the Caribbean colonies of Suriname and Curacao.

Supporters of "Black Pete" angrily reject such accusations, offended at any suggestion that a character so central to Dutch culture could be racist.

Although the debate surfaces every year, this year the row is particularly bitter after the Jamaican chair of a committee at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Verene Shepherd, bluntly told Dutch television that "the practice must stop".

"The working group cannot understand that why it is that people in the Netherlands cannot see that this is a throwback to slavery and that in the 21st century this practice should stop," she told the Eenvandaag show on Tuesday.

"As a black person, I feel that if I was living in the Netherlands I would object to it," she said.

Shepherd provoked further Dutch fury by suggesting they adopt a US-style "Santa Claus" instead.

Although opinion is divided in the Netherlands, a Facebook petition set up in support of the tradition had hit more than two million "likes" by Saturday.

The annual festival dates back to the sixteenth century, but the first appearance of "Black Pete" occurred in the 1850s.

War on Toys

VIC: Update: Permanent ban on small, high powered magnets - News alert

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 21:54

Date: 15th November 2012

A permanent, Australia-wide ban on small, high-powered magnets has come into effect today (15 November 2012).

The Federal Government's permanent ban follows the interim ban on small, powerful magnets approved by the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs on 23 August 2012.

The permanent ban applies to magnets that:

are loose or separable are small enough to fit into the small parts cylinder used in the mandatory standard for toys for children up to and including 36 months of agehave a magnetic flux of 50 or moreare marketed by the supplier as, or supplied for use as any of the following:a toy, game or puzzle (including but not limited to an adult desk toy, an educational toy or game, a toy, game or puzzle for mental stimulation or stress relief)a construction or modelling kitjewellery to be worn in or around the mouth or nose.The magnets, which are used in certain novelty items marketed to adults, can cause serious injury or death if swallowed or inhaled by children.

The magnets cannot be sold or made available for sale. The banned products include:

BuckyBallsBuckycubesNanodotsNeocubesNeodymium sphere magnetsXcube.For more information about the dangers and specific details about the banned items, view the Magnets, small high powered page on the Product Safety Australia website.

Businesses must not sell these products and must remove them from sale, including online sales.

Consumer Affairs Victoria's inspectors visit retailers regularly to ensure banned products are removed from shelves and to seize banned items.

The Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit reported 203 'ingestion of magnets' incidents in the 15 years to 2010; 43 per cent involved 'magnetic balls or spheres'.

There had been a substantial increase in incidents since 2005 before the bans were introduced.

For more information, view our Product Safety page.


VULTURES ARRIVE-COMPOUNDS for the rich-A 140-Acre Forest Is About to Materialize in the Middle of Detroit - Sarah Goodyear - The Atlantic Cities

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 04:23

After nearly five years of planning, a large-scale attempt to turn a big chunk of Detroit into an urban forest is now underway. The purchase of more than 1,500 vacant city-owned lots on the city's lower east side '' a total of more than 140 acres '' got final approval from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder last week.

The buyer is Hantz Farms, and it's a venture of financier John Hantz, who lives in the nearby Indian Village neighborhood. Indian Village is an affluent enclave of manor-scale historic homes, but much of the surrounding area is blighted. Hantz Farms will pay more than $500,000 for the land, which consists of non-contiguous parcels in an area where occupied homes are increasingly surrounding by abandoned properties.

The company has committed to clearing 50 derelict structures, cleaning up the garbage dumped across the neighborhood, planting 15,000 trees, and mowing regularly. Planting of the hardwoods will begin in earnest next fall, and the urban forest will be called Hantz Woodlands.

The area that will become the Hantz Woodlands. Photo by Joseph Murphy/Bassett & Bassett

The huge deal drew criticism last year, when the city council '' which was then still in control of Detroit '' voted 5-4 to approve the sale. A coalition of grassroots urban farmers and community activists opposed it, charging that it was a play to increase land values by buying a huge swath of acreage and taking it off the market. "I think it opens the gateway for other rich folks to come here to buy up land and essentially make themselves rich compounds," urban gardener Kate Devlin told The Huffington Post at the time.

John Hantz agrees. But he thinks that's a good thing. As he told The Atlantic back in 2010:

[T]here's no reason to buy real estate in Detroit'--every year, it just gets cheaper. We've gone from 2 million people to 800,000. There are over 200,000 abandoned parcels of land and'--by debatable estimates'--30,000 acres of abandoned property. We need to create scarcity, because until we get a stabilized market, there's no reason for entrepreneurs or other people to start buying. I thought, What could do that in a positive way? What's a development that people would want to be associated with? And that's when I came up with a farm.

And officials from Hantz Farms argue the city will benefit in other ways as well. As soon as the sale is final, probably some time in the next week or two, Hantz Farms will begin paying property taxes on land that has been off the revenue rolls for years, says Hantz Farms President Mike Score. He also points out that most of the lots have been up for auction at least twice without attracting interest, and that residents of the area were offered the right of first refusal to buy plots adjacent to their homes.

Conditions in the neighborhood, Score says, have been dire, with overgrown sidewalks, piles of refuse, feral dogs, and no streetlights. "Most of the sidewalks aren't fit to walk on," he says. "I've actually physically cried before, going to work in the dark, seeing mothers walking their kids to school through unmanaged brush and shoulder-high weeds. To go in there and take away most of the danger from the landscape is so satisfying."

"The purpose of the investment is to make the neighborhood more livable and then recover our investment over time."

Score adds that Hantz Farms has already begun mowing about half the property and cleaning up years of trash. And the response his team has gotten from local residents, he says, has been positive. "We're out every day, and we have yet to meet the first angry neighbor," he says.

He tells a story about a group of residents who asked his mowers to clear a sidewalk so kids could walk safely. After the grass was mowed, Score says, people came out to rake and sweep the clippings aside. Not long after, he noticed a family putting a new roof on a nearby home that he had thought might be destined for abandonment. "That's the kind of effect we want to see," he says.

Score says that the first phase of planting will be hardwood trees such as maple and oak, planted in straight rows. The Hantz properties will not be fenced, and streets will remain open for passage. After the property is fully cleared, at a cost he estimates at more than $600,000, Score says the company will explore commercial options that might provide jobs for local residents such as orchards, maple syrup, and the cultivation of ornamental plants and shrubbery. For now, he says, his team is working on building trust with neighbors so that when it comes time to discuss subjects such as pesticide use, there's already a relationship.

Score isn't shy about emphasizing that this is not merely a philanthropic project. "This is designed to be a for-profit enterprise," he says. "I can assure you we have a business plan and we don't have any anxiety about achieving our goals. We're entrepreneurs, and that's really our problem to wrestle with. The purpose of the investment is to make the neighborhood more livable and then recover our investment over time, and we're very confident we can do that."

In the short term, Score says he thinks the Hantz project will quickly prove its value to Detroit residents.

''We're going to do this in four years,'' he says. "After that we're going to grow by demand. People I think are going to be saying, we don't have to live like this anymore. I think we're going to be growing for a long time."

The Purge

Blaze Sources: Obama Purging Military Commanders |

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 03:18

Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is underway.

Retired generals and current senior commanders that have spoken with TheBlaze say the administration is not only purging the military of commanders they don't agree with, but is striking fear in the hearts of those still serving.

The timing comes as the five branches of the U.S. armed forces are reducing staff due to budget cuts, and as U.S. troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan next year.

''I think they're using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don't agree with them or not tow the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis,'' a senior retired general told TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution.

''Even as a retired general, it's still possible for the administration to make life miserable for us. If we're working with the government or have contracts, they can just rip that out from under us,'' he said.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, said the White House fails to take action or investigate its own, but finds it easy to fire military commanders ''who have given their lives for their country.''

''Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama's ideology,'' Vallely said. ''The White House protects their own. That's why they stalled on the investigation into fast and furious, Benghazi and Obamacare. He's intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.''

A Pentagon official who asked to remain nameless because they were not authorized to speak on the matter said even ''young officers, down through the ranks have been told not to talk about Obama or the politics of the White House. They are purging everyone and if you want to keep your job '-- just keep your mouth shut.

The Nine Military Commanders Fired This Year by the Obama AdministrationGen. Carter Ham, Army

Served as head of the United States African Command during the bloodshed in Benghazi, Libya when four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two retired Navy Seals, were murdered by militants on Sept. 11, 2012. Senior military officials told TheBlaze Hamm was extremely critical of the Obama administration, including when reinforcements were not sent to help the U.S. citizens under attack in Benghazi. Hamm ''resigned and retired'' in April 2013.

Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, Navy

Commander of Carrier Strike Group Three. He recently served as deputy commander of the U.S. Naval Forces, U.S. Central Command. He was in charge of Air Craft Carriers in the Mediterranean Sea the night of the Benghazi assault on Sept. 11, 2012. Under testimony, he told Congress there may not have been time to get the flight crews to Benghazi, but left the door open when he told Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) under cross-examination that he could have launched aircraft to the destination. He was later accused of using profanity in a public setting and making at least two racially insensitive comments. While he was cleared of any criminal violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he still faced administrative penalties that have ended his career.

Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, Army

Major General Baker served as commander of the Joint Task Force-Horn at Camp Lamar in Djibouti, Africa. According to several military officials who spoke to TheBlaze, he was also involved in some aspect with the Benghazi incident Sept. 11, 2012. He was relieved of command and fired for allegedly groping a civilian, but no assault charges or sexual misconduct charges were filed with military JAG officials.

Brigadier Gen. Bryan Roberts, Army

General Roberts took command of Fort Jackson in 2011. He was considered a rising star in his field and served in Iraq during his service as the commanding officer of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He was the deputy commanding general of the United States Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky. He was relieved of duty and fired for adultery '-- still on the books in the United States Code of Military Justice but rarely since President Bill Clinton's indiscretions.

Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, Marine Corps

Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the U.S. Pacific Command and commander of the aviation wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. He was a highly-decorated Marine with two Naval and Marine Commendations, two Naval and Marine Good Conduct medals, as well as the Air Medal with a gold star. He was one of two commanding officers suddenly relieved of command and fired from the military for failure to use proper force protection at the camp after 15 Taliban fighters attacked Camp Bastion on Sept. 14, 2012, resulting in the deaths of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27.

Maj. Gen. Charles M.M. Gurganus, Marine Corps

Regional commander in the Southwest and I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan. Highly decorated with a Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit with Valor, and three Meritorious Service Commendations. According to several military officials, Gurganus questioned having to use Afghan security patrols alongside American patrols after two officers were executed at their desk and a platoon was lead into an ambush on the front lines.

Lt. Gen. David Holmes Huntoon Jr, Army

Served as the 58th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He graduated from the same academy in 1973 and had served in Senior Planning and Education Services through the majority of his career. He was ''censored'' for ''an investigation'' into an ''improper relationship'' according to the Department of Defense. Nothing was released to the nature of the improper relationship. Nothing was even mentioned if an actual investigation even took place.

Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, Navy

Deputy Commander of the United States Strategic Command. He was commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Group 9 and Submarine Group 10, where every single one of the 18 Nuclear Submarines with Nuclear Trident Missiles of those three groups were in his command. This commander earned six Legions of Merit, Two Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, and several other medals and ribbons. He is under criminal investigation for the alleged use of counterfeit gambling chips, while playing a poker game at a western Iowa casino.

Major Gen. Michael Carey, Air Force

Commander 20th Air Force in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at three operational wings and served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Carry was fired October 11, 2013, for ''personal misbehavior,'' according to ABC News. Pentagon and Air Force senior officials have remained relatively tight-lipped about Carry's firing.



Author Sara Carter joined Andrew Wilkow to discuss this story on TheBlaze TV this week. Watch their conversation below:


Fighting rages in eastern DR Congo

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Source: bertb news feed

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:13

Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) sit in a personnel carrier on the road between Goma and Rutshuru, near the village of Kibumba I, around 20km from Goma, on July 11, 2012

A Congolese Armed Forces tank drives through the eastern city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo city of Goma on November 19, 2012

A Congolese army soldier in the bush north of Kanyarucinya, around 12km from Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 17, 2013

AFP - A new front opened up as fighting raged between Congolese troops and rebels on the second day of a fresh flare-up that has prompted international calls for restraint.

The latest fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo erupted on Friday, less than a week after Kinshasa and the M23 rebels announced that peace talks in Kampala had collapsed.

The army late on Saturday said it had recaptured Kibumba, an outpost about 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of the country's eastern hub of Goma that commands access to rebel territory further north.

"Kibumba is under FARDC (regular army) control as of tonight," a senior military officer told an AFP reporter in Goma. The rebels could not immediately be reached for comment.

Another front flared up Saturday when the army attacked an M23 position in the Mabenga region, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Goma and closer to the border with Uganda.

The army "has launched an offensive on the Mabenga-Kahunga road. It is using troops, tanks and mortar shells", another army officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The rebels confirmed that the fighting had spread north.

"It's heating up on all fronts," the M23's political leader Bertrand Bisimwa said on his movement's website.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon's top envoys to the conflict, Mary Robinson and Martin Kobler, issued a statement voicing grave concern over the fresh fighting.

"We request all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to resume negotiations in Kampala," they said.

The United States said it was alarmed at the reports of increased fighting, despite international calls for restraint.

"We are particularly concerned about reports of cross-border firing," in North Kivu, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, urging all parties "to refrain from acts of further escalation".

Psaki's statement urged all parties to return to negotiations "to overcome remaining hurdles to the signing of a final, principled peace agreement, which would establish a permanent ceasefire and hold accountable those who have committed serious crimes".

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also called on "all actors in the region to prevent further escalation and internationalisation of the conflict".

"The reported impact across the border in Rwanda of recent actions should also be jointly investigated," she said.

Rebels claimed the army attacked their positions early Friday, but the military insisted it came under attack first -- a claim supported by a source from the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO.

On Monday, both sides announced a halt to peace talks in Kampala.

The Congolese refused to give amnesty to about 80 leaders of the M23 rebellion but a report by UN envoys stressed that a "considerable military buildup" by the rebels had not been conducive to a deal.

The negotiations were part of a framework both sides agreed to last year, following a rebel offensive that saw the M23 briefly take control of Goma.

The UN has since deployed a special brigade of 3,000 African forces with an unprecedented offensive mandate but observers remain wary of an escalation that could draw in the entire region.

Rwanda, which lies just a few miles from the areas where the fighting took place Saturday, on Friday accused the Congolese army of firing three shells over the border into its territory and threatened to retaliate.

Kinshasa has long accused Kigali of pulling the strings behind the rebellion and UN experts have even said that the M23's "de facto chain of command" was topped by Rwanda's defence minister.

Rwanda has vehemently denied accusations that it is arming, financing and supporting the rebels by sending some of its own forces to the frontlines in DR Congo.

Rwanda in turn has accused Kinshasa of coordinating attacks against Kigali with the FDLR, a DR Congo-based Rwandan group which includes the remnants of Hutu militia who carried out the 1994 genocide.


VIDEO-Obamacare Website Contractor Forced to Make Really Embarrassing Admission: 'It Didn't Work' | Video |

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A high-ranking Obamacare website contractor on Thursday offered some eye-opening testimony on how poorly the glitch-riddled website has been operating.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) asked Andrew M. Slavitt, an executive with Optum/Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI), if he tried to get on the Obamacare site himself.

Image source: C-SPAN via YouTube

''Yes, I did,'' Slavitt replied.

''Did it work?'' Murphy asked.

''Well, I logged on to create an account, was able to do so,'' Slavitt replied. ''I just never received a confirmation email.''

''So it didn't work?'' Murphy pressed.

''It didn't work,'' Slavitt answered.

You can check out the exchange from C-SPAN via YouTube:

(H/T: Weasel Zippers)


VIDEO-Kathleen Sebelius on Calls for Her to Step Down Over Obamacare: 'I Don't Work for' the People Calling for Me to Resign | Video |

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PHOENIX (AP) '-- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that officials are working ''24-7'" to improve the government's health insurance website after its clunky rollout.

Sebelius, the Obama administration's public point person on implementation of the new health care law, was in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation over the technical issues that have prevented people from signing up for coverage online.

''The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don't work for and do not want this program to work in the first place,'' Sebelius said during a visit to the Wesley Health Center. ''I have had frequent conversations with the president and I've admitted to him that my role is to get the program up and running and we will do just that.''

Sebelius toured a Health and Human Services call center and spoke with ''navigators'' who have been trained to educate people about enrolling for coverage. She said consumers can enroll in-person, by filing paperwork or contacting a call center. The nation's 17 call centers are equipped to answer questions in 150 languages, she said.

While Sebelius was in Phoenix, contractors who helped build the website testified in Washington, D.C., in the first congressional hearing on the botched rollout. Representatives of CGI Federal and QSSI, which helped construct, told lawmakers insufficient testing was a factor.

Sebelius said nobody has been fired over the technical glitches and a lot of the problems were caused by a surge in demand.

''It's certainly not perfect but getting better by the day,'' the former Kansas governor said. ''We now have 700,000 applications that have been submitted for health insurance. We intend to make sure those folks get the coverage they need.''

She also said an ''anonymous shopper'' option was up and running for people who want to look at different plans and prices. Much of the website's traffic spike was attributed to people having to register accounts before being able to shop around.

Sebelius also noted that the open-enrollment was only three weeks into its 26-week stretch.

''In football terms, it's early in the first quarter,'' she said.

Featured image via AP


VIDEO-Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - C-SPAN Video Library

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National security and intelligence officials as well as legal scholars testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.'‚James Clapper and Keith Alexander both .. Read MoreNational security and intelligence officials as well as legal scholars testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.'‚James Clapper and Keith Alexander both said that the programs are necessary for safety and that media disclosures of information by Edward Snowden had been damaging to the security of the United States.'‚They both also commented on the shutdown of the federal government.'‚During the scholars panel, the witnesses talked about legal issues related to the programs and suggested possible reforms.

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VIDEO-Magnetic Toy Dangers | CPSC Proposed Ban - Consumer Reports News

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 21:57

Buckyballs, Zen Magnets, and other high-powered magnetic desk toys have been popular holiday gifts in recent years. But at a public hearing today held by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, several doctors urged not only that consumers should cross these dangerous toys off holiday shopping lists but also that these magnetic balls should be banned from the U.S. market.

The desk toys typically contain more than 200 tiny round or cube-shaped neodymium magnets that are at least 15 times more powerful than standard magnets. They stick together with such force that if a child swallows more than one they can draw together parts of the gastrointenstinal track, boring holes in the stomach or intestines. This could result in severe, life-threatening complications within hours.

These products are labeled for those 14 years and older and carry warnings about ingestion hazards. But the tiny magnetic balls increasingly have ended up in children's hands and mouths, often causing serious injuries. Young children, for whom mouthing behavior is a natural part of early-childhood development, are most at risk for swallowing these magnets. Teens also have been injured when they accidentally swallowed rare-earth magnets they were using to mimic lip and tongue piercings.

The CPSC hearing focused on its proposed new rules. The rules would prohibit the sale of neodymium magnetic ball sets containing even a single magnet that has a flux index, or magnet strength, of more than 50 and which is small enough to fit within the small-parts cylinder the CPSC uses to test for choking hazards.

A set of magnetic balls like these would typically have more than 200 pieces.

Doctors and consumer advocates on the hearing panel strongly urged the CPSC to make final and adopt its proposed safety standard. Panelists also asked the CPSC to ensure that its definition of high-powered magnetic products would encompass jewelry, pens, and other novelty items that comprise primarily or entirely small high-powered magnets.

''The CPSC's previous actions'--including improving warnings, publishing public service announcements, and recalling of existing products'--were necessary and appropriate, but it is clear that additional steps are needed to protect public safety,'' said Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

While 11 U.S. companies already have voluntarily stopped selling rare-earth magnetic desk toys, others continue to do so, including the Denver-based Zen Magnets and Star Networks USA, which sells Magnicube Magnet Balls and Magnet Cubes. The CPSC has sued both companies to compel them to stop selling magnet sets and comply with a recall.

Some magnet importers and other critics have argued that the CPSC's proposed safety standard amounts to government overreach, and they blame parents for their children's magnet-related injuries. But doctors at the hearing strongly argued that small neodymium magnets pose a unique and unacceptable risk that justifies the CPSC's proposed action.

Of the 100,000 foreign-body ingestions that occur each year in the U.S., mostly in children, coins are by far the most common object ingested, but others include sharp nails and pins. Even so, most pass out of the body naturally, with only 10 to 20 percent requiring endoscopic removal and less than 1 percent needing surgery, said Ian Lebowitz, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University. But high-powered magnetic ingestion cases are much different: 80 percent require some form of medical intervention and 20 percent of these need significant surgery. ''I have taken out hundreds of different foreign bodies in my career but few pose the morbidity risk of these magnets,'' Lebowitz said.

A ball from a magnet set and a choking-test cylinder (a bit wider than a quarter).

Bryan Rudolph, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, disputed claims that negligent parents are to blame for children's magnet ingestions, saying that no amount of warning or parental vigilance can prevent these magnet ingestions, which he described as "accidents involving an irreparably unsafe product."

Within the last year alone, there have been at least seven published reports of high-powered magnet ingestions affecting children in the U.S. For example, a recent study based on an analysis of emergency-room data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that from 2002 through 2011, 7,159 emergency-room visits were attributable to high-powered magnet sets.

And a survey of 201 pediatric gastroenterologists from 44 states identified 482 cases of documented magnet ingestions in children from 2002 to 2011, with 820 of them occurring from 2009 through 2011. The high frequency of magnet ingestions in that three-year period corresponds to the introduction of high-powered magnet desk toys.

The number of publicly reported magnet ingestions really represents "only the tip of the icebarg," said Marsha Kay, M.D., chairwoman of pediatric gastroenterology at the Cleveland Clinic Chindren's Hospital. Kay said that within the last two weeks, a young doctor in training at a New York City hospital had told her that she had encountered five cases of magnet ingestion in the last 14 months.

Pointing out that one company alone'--the former Buckyballs maker Maxfield & Oberton'--sold 1.5 million magnet sets between 2009 and 2011, Maria Oliva-Hemker, M.D., chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, told CPSC commissioners that ''sales of high-powered magnet sets by multiple manufacturers indicate that there are billions of high-powered magnet balls now in our environment.'' Therefore, she said, the risk of magnet ingestion by children will remain high for a period of time despite all efforts by doctors and consumer groups to educate the public about their dangers.

In fact, eliminating the risks posed by high-powered magnet sets requires not only banning their sale but also ''doing everything possible to remove products already sold from any environment where children live, visit, play, or learn,'' said Athos Bousvarous, M.D., president of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, in a statement released jointly by consumer-advocacy groups and medical associations.

For more information on neodymium-magnet risks and how to prevent injuries, visit the CPSC's Magnets Information Center.

'--Andrea Rock

VIDEO-Three ways to prepare for the health insurance exchange tsunami | The Advisory Board Company

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Are You Ready for a New Wave of Patients?When health insurance exchanges go live next year, you'll be competing for up to 24 million newly insured patients.

These patients may have limited familiarity with the health care system or unmanaged chronic conditions. But all of them are going to be price-sensitive, discerning customers, who want high-quality service offerings, an easily navigable care environment, and affordably priced options.

Being ready will be the difference between 24 million challenges and 24 million opportunities.

Turn Your Challenges Into OpportunitiesTo start, get a refresher on the exchanges, see what your patients have in common, and understand your role in the enrollment process.

Then, read our white paper, Navigating Health Insurance Exchanges, and watch our on-demand webconference to get a full overview of the exchange rollout, how the exchanges, Medicaid, and employer-sponsored insurance interact, and implications for health system margins and operations.

VIDEO-CBS Spotlights People Losing Health Plans Under Obama | MRCTV

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MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.


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VIDEO- Greenpeace Activist Scales Eiffel Tower And Hangs Banner Demanding Russia "Release The Arctic 30" - YouTube

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VIDEO- NSA Director Gen. Alexander and Cybersecurity - YouTube

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VIDEO-BBC News - 3D printer 'gun parts' seized in Manchester raid

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A 3D printer and suspected "homemade" gun components seized during police raids in Manchester are being examined.

Detectives initially said the parts were a "plastic magazine and trigger" which could make a "viable" gun.

But the man held on suspicion of making gunpowder has told the BBC they are actually sections of a 3D printer.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) now say they "cannot categorically say" whether they had recovered the component parts for a gun.

Judith Moritz reports.

VIDEO-Nope, not true - C-SPAN Video Library

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Clipped from:Secretary of State John Kerry RemarksOct 24, 2013The United States didn't defeat the Axis on it's own, we showed up late to the party and helped, but Europe was doing well on their own. And we did ask that they pay us back, many countries are still paying us back. #ITM

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VIDEO-State Signups Flocking to Medicaid '' Not to Insurers | The Blog on Obama: White House Dossier

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As it becomes clear Obamacare is a fiasco, a system with so many moving parts designed by man and not by markets that ARE NEVER going to operate as intended '' if it's intended to operate at all '' Americans should be on the lookout for signs that we're headed toward the final destination President Obama once said he supported: a single-payer government run program.

If Obamacare puts private insurers out of business, single payer is all that will be left. For all of us.

CBS News ace correspondent Jan Crawford '' I have to say, BTW, the former Dan Rather Network comes up with some good accountability items with respect to Obama '' reports this morning that even in states that are running their own exchanges, where signups aren't going so badly, there's a potential catastrophic problem: Those getting insurance are overwhelmingly low-income people who are just dumping themselves into Medicaid.

That's bad news for insurers, who need people to buy their product so they can finance all the Free Stuff they have to dole out under Obamacare and pay for those with pre-exiting conditions and the older and sicker people they're now required to take at no extra cost to the customer.

Private insurers threatened? Medicaid rolls multiplying? Sounds like a recipe for single-payer to me.

Here's Crawford's report.

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VIDEO-Presstitutes Defend Obama Spying On World Leaders Around The Globe - YouTube

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VIDEO- Merkel Wants Limits Put On U.S. Spying On European Allies - YouTube

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VIDEO- "Contractors Reportedly Told To ERASE EVERY INCH" Of Sandy Hook Elementary School - YouTube

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VIDEO-Golden Dawn protests on the streets of Athens over arrest of party's leader | euronews, world news

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Around 1,000 supporters of the far-right Golden Dawn party took to the streets of Athens on Saturday.

The group chanted 'Greece belongs to the Greeks' and slogans against Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

They are demanding the release of six MPs, including their leader, who face charges of being part of a criminal organisation. Last week, the government cut off state funding of the group and lifted their immunity pending trial.

Earlier on an anti-fascist demonstration took place which aimed to march on the headquarters of the party dubbed a 'neo-Nazi criminal gang' by the government.

Police trucks were positioned to keep the two groups apart, and the day passed without incident.

It was the murder of an anti-fascist rapper last month, allegedly by a member of Golden Dawn which triggered public outrage, putting pressure on the government to take a stand.

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