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Neuroelasticity

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RaDAR-America: RaDAR November 2013 Contest Announcement and Rules

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Archived Version

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:48

1. AimThe RaDAR-America contest is an event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations throughout North and South America. This contest is for all licensed radio amateurs. A choice is made prior to the contest to participate in one of the defined categories. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable operation, especially moveable stations.The rule structure is very close to that formulated by the founder of the contest idea: Eddie ZS6BNEThis contest will take place at the same time in South Africa (the Nation from which the idea originated), as it will here in the Americas. Please note that the most significant difference between the South African RaDAR rules and the RaDAR-America rules are in the suggested frequencies, which have been adapted and changed to comply with the IARU Region 2 band plans. If you choose to operate on the suggested South African RaDAR frequencies, please note that some are in the EXTRA band section for US operators and others are entirely outside of the IARU 2 band plan.2. Date and TimeFirst Saturday of April and first Saturday of November starting at 14:00 UTC and ending at 18:00 UTC (4 hours).3. Bands and ModesAll amateur bands, besides the WARC bands, are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.All Amateur Radio operating rules within the country of operation are to be respected and followed at all times.

QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed. You must make all of your contacts on Simplex only.

Modes '' CW, SSB, AM, FM or any digital mode.

4. Suggested HF and VHF voice calling frequenciesThe frequencies posted by HFPack http://hfpack.com/air/are suggested as HF activity frequencies if not already in use. Please note that HFPack operates USB on all bands to achieve complete compatibility with a wide variety of commercial and Military portable HF radio systems that amateurs are using.Suggested VHF frequency: 144.300. Frequencies that have a potential conflict with repeater inputs (low end of 146 Simplex) are to be avoided.

Contesters are requested to operate by The Amateur's Codehttp://www.qcwa.org/amateur-code.htmand with the request to keep in mind that HFpack has established methods for courteous operation on the suggested frequencieshttp://hfpack.com/air/#methods[Please note that HFPack does not sanction contests and that this contest is not organised by a Founder or Moderator of the group.]

Contesters are also requested to respect all International Distress frequencies:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_distress_frequencyhttp://www.iaru-r2.org/documents/explorer/files/Plan%20de%20bandas%20%7C%20Band-plan/R2%20LF-MF-HF%20Bandplan%202010.pdfas well as 146.520 MHz - the National Simplex Calling Frequency. Fixed stations are however encouraged to monitor these frequencies, so that they may be able to assist HAMs in distress.

Contacts made within +/- 5kHz of the IARU Region 2 HF Distress Frequencies will not be counted for a valid QSO.Please additionally respect the NCDXF/IARU beacons operating on 14.100, 18.110, 21.150, 24.930 and 28.200 MHz.5. Recommended digital modes frequenciesCW: HFPack frequencies.Other: all legal digital frequencies at established activity centers for the respective mode.6. ExchangeCall sign, Name, Report (RST), QTH and USNG grid locator (at least 6 digits). Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move to the next destination at any time.Maidenhead grid LOC information may be submitted instead of USNG locator. The grid locator of 6 digits is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 digits.

If the grid locator is not known, then some other information that could describe the location, e.g. Mabula Lodge, 40 km west of Warmbaths. Note that several SmartPhone HAM log apps support this feature (e.g. HamLog for the iPhone).

7. Scoring1 point per QSO.1 QSO per mode, per band / satellite, per call sign. You may work another call sign several times, but only once per mode and only once per band throughout the entire contest period (you may work several call signs per band and per mode).8. Categories and multipliersThe following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score.Category multiplier:x 1 '' RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building). These stations may NOT call QSO, allowed to monitor and reply to QSOs only.x 2 '' RaDAR Field station (Portable away from home). These stations are to log themselves as /p ("portable"). At least one photo or video of the station MUST accompany the log.

x 3 '' Moving RaDAR station, Car / Motorcycle / Bicycle / Maritime '' Minimum 3 miles (approx. 5 km) per 5 QSOs. These stations are to log themselves as /m ("mobile"). A photo or video of the station MUST accompany every log entry.

x 4 '' Moving RaDAR station, on foot '' Minimum 0.6 miles (approx. 1 km) per 5 QSOs. These stations are to log themselves as /pm ("pedestrian mobile"). A photo or video of the station MUST accompany every log entry.

Note: 1) Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made.2) Moving stations may also operate while in motion, but need to have covered the required distance for every 5 QSOs. Note: safety and all (traffic) laws take precedence at all times.Power multiplier:The power multiplier that applies is determined by the highest power output of any of the transmitters used during the contest.5 watts or less the power multiplier is 6.6 to 50 Watts, the power multiplier is 4.51 watts or greater, the power multiplier is 2.

9. Bonus points (All categories)5 Points (Equivalent to five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital mode QSO involving a computer. (For clarity: Thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO)10. Notes: 1) A photo or video of a "Field" or "Moving" station MUST accompany every log entry.2) Images or videos may be posted on the contesters preferred website, preferred website service or else; links must however be listed within the log file. Photos may alternatively be copy/ pasted in to the log.3) All logs and submitted photos will be published at http://RaDAR-America.blogspot.com under the following copyright:Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_USwith all Copyrights to the contents otherwise remaining with the submitting Amateur Radio Operator.4) Published logs and photos are to serve as a learning resource.11. Log SheetsQSOs are to be entered in the log sheets found at the following link:http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20878991/RaDARContestLog2013.docand be submitted within 14 days of the contest.Completed log sheets are to be filled out directly within WORD and emailed to:radaramericacontest (AT) gmail.comas a WORD or PDF file.

Printed Log sheets may also be scanned or photographed and emailed.

The winner will receive a feature Blog entry and certificate.

Please do share all your operating tips and comments on the log sheets.

73 de Marcus NX5MKRaDAR-America Contest Manager

Putin topples Obama in Forbes power ranking

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Archived Version

Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 16:08

NEW YORK: Having outfoxed him on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has now pipped Barack Obama to the title of the world's most powerful leader as ranked by Forbes on Wednesday.

It was the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine's list and came as US-Russia relations slid to a new low.

Putin, who has enjoyed 12 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in April.

Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

"Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama's lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president -- latest example: the government shutdown mess," wrote Forbes.

In August, Russia granted asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, wanted in the United States over a mammoth intelligence leak.

A month later, Putin played the trump card again by averting Obama's threatened missile strikes on Syria with a plan for Damascus to hand over chemical weapons.

"Anyone watching this year's chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics," Forbes wrote.

The 2013 list of 72 powerbrokers was chosen to reflect one for every 100 million lesser mortals on Earth.

Third prize went to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to rule for a decade in which China is set to eclipse the US as the world's largest economy.

Pope Francis made his debut at number four and German Chancellor Angela Merkel rounded out the top five.

Among 13 newcomers were Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee at number 41 and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, in at number 64.

There were 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $48 trillion and 27 CEOs and chairs who control over $3 trillion in annual revenues.

Only nine women made the cut despite representing half the world's population.

The Phone That Helped Andy Carvin Report the Arab Spring is Now in the Smithsonian | Around The Mall

Cultural Marxism

Universities to Students: No 'Offensive' Halloween Costumes

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Archived Version

Source: FrontPage Magazine » FrontPage

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 06:09

A regular column dedicated to reporting on the slanted teaching, mis-administration and sheer insanity of our nation's colleges and universities.

Top Stories:

Several universities across the country have taken action to warn students not to wear ''offensive'' costumes on Halloween. At the University of Colorado Boulder, Dean of Students Christian Gonzales urged students to ''consider the impact your costume decision may have on others in the CU community.'' Among the costumes she deemed offensive are cowboys, Indians, geishas, ''squaws'' and those including sombreros or blackface. At the University of Minnesota, the Office of Student Affairs issued an email to students cautioning them against costumes that ''inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes.'' The Multicultural Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison posted a blog, ''Does this costume make me look racist?'', which lists several categories of outfits to be avoided including ''costumes that appropriate a culture,'' those guilty of ''Romanticizing a culture'' including '''poca-hottie,' gypsy, belly dancer, and geisha'' which ''have ties to oppression, rape, and genocide'' and those which stereotype cultures including ''The Mariachi, the Kimono princess and the kung fu.''Dan Kehan, a professor of psychology at Yale University, wrote a blog post on a site dedicated to the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School noting that he was ''embarrassed'' to discover a positive correlation in research he was conducting between respondents who identified themselves as belonging to the Tea Party movement and ''science comprehension'''-- a correlation that he found ''surprising.'' Kehan went out of his way to note that ''I don't know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.'' Despite his findings, Kehan added ''Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments''all very negative'' of what I understand the 'Tea Party movement' to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.''University of Arizona associate professor Pat Willerton was caught on video telling his ''Politics, Policy and Governing'' class that viewers who watch Fox News are less informed than their counterparts who get their news from liberal media sources: ''you look at MSNBC, ABC, CNN, all of these cases, the average viewer knows more than the person who doesn't consult any source. When they survey people who watch Fox News regularly, they know less.'' Willerton exhorted his students to ''look at the studies'' by which he meant a much-derided 2010 survey by WorldPublicOpinion.org. Prof. Willerton neglected to mention any criticism of this study or Fox New's point-by-point refutation. An Arizona administrator defended Willerton stating that ''To all indications, he is conducting the class responsibly and within his authority and expertise.''Further News from the Campuses:

Prof: Conservatives Guilty of 'Tyranny' for Holding the Government 'Hostage' [CampusReform.org]

A professor from the University of Georgia (UGA) on Friday told a local paper that conservatives were guilty of ''tyranny'' for holding the government ''hostage'' during the budget negotiations.

Read more

Lawsuit Claims JCTC Wrongly Fired Official [The Courier-Journal]

A former director of human resources at Jefferson Community and Technical College is suing the college and its president, claiming he was wrongly fired in 2012 for criticizing employment decisions and expressing his conservative and religious beliefs.

Read more

Yale Professor 'Embarrassed' to Discover Tea Party Members are Scientifically Literate [CNSNews.com]

You know that line liberals love to lob at the Tea Party: you're stupid. Well, obviously that's not the case, nor has it ever been true. Now, a Yale professor has released some new research showing that the so-called ''Tea Party radicals'' are actually scientifically literate.

Read more

UPenn Students Stage Hoax Event to Mock Bristol Palin, Abstinence [Campus Reform]

Fliers on the University of Pennsylvania's campus announcing a speech by Bristol Palin turned out to be a hoax students created to mock the daughter of former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin who is a an adamant advocate of abstinence.

Read more

Pasadena Professor who Taught Porn Class Resigns [Associated Press]

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) '-- A Pasadena City College professor who drew protests after inviting porn actors to his class has resigned.

Read more

Appeals Court to Consider Calif. School's Cinco de Mayo American Flag Ban [Associated Press]

Racial tensions and gang problems were plaguing a Northern California high school when three students arrived for classes in 2010 wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

Read more

Pro-Life Students Ignore Bullying to Stand Up for Babies Killed in Abortion [LifeNews.com]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 was the ninth annual Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. Every year thousands of people around the world are willing to give up their voices for those who will never have one because of abortion.

This week was no different.

Read more

Tribe Leads Charge to Scrap Redskins Name [NYPost.com]

VERONA, N.Y. '-- Last winter, a group of student leaders approached the school board in upstate Cooperstown about changing their team's mascot '-- the Redskins.

The movement caught on quickly and by May, Cooperstown Central School was known as the Hawkeyes.

Read more

What I Learned in Comparative Politics: White People Exploit All Others [The College Fix]

Earlier this year, my Arizona State University government professor told my class that white people are successful because they have exploited all other people, and that Americans are not all born equal because of slavery.

Read more

Lawsuit! Student Ordered to Stop Handing Out Constitutions on Constitution Day Files Suit [TheFire.org]

FRESNO, Calif., Oct. 10, 2013'--A student who was ordered by college administrators to stop handing out copies of the Constitution on campus'--on Constitution Day'--filed suit today in federal court. Modesto Junior College (MJC) student and Army veteran Robert Van Tuinen is suing the Yosemite Community College District and MJC administrators for violating his First Amendment rights. Van Tuinen is represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine and is assisted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Read more

CSUN professor sparks a debate regarding academic freedom of speech for professors [Daily Sundial]

CSUN mathematics professor David Klein has spent years defending his right to express his views about boycotting the state of Israel. His name was recently brought up during the CSU board of trustees meeting regarding the legality of his website.

Read more

Professor Tells Students Fox News Viewers Are Ignorant [The College Fix]

People who watch Fox News are less informed than people who get their news from other outlets such as MSNBC and CNN, a University of Arizona professor told his upper-level government class recently, according to a recording of the comments obtained by The College Fix.

Read more

Will the Tolerance Agenda Destroy Christian Higher Education? [PJMedia.com]

Last weekend my husband and I visited our son at the little Bible College he attends in Pennsylvania'... The school doesn't promote a political agenda, it simply quietly goes about the business of educating young people who desire a Christian education. As we drove away from the beautiful campus on Sunday, I couldn't help but wonder how long this school and other conservative Christian schools will survive as the new conformity enforcers continue their march through our country's institutions.

Read more

MIT Magazine's Funding Restored Following Title IX Concerns [TheFire.org]

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student newspaper The Tech reported last Friday that funding to another MIT student publication, Voo Doo Magazine, has been restored after a Title IX complaint against the magazine resulted in MIT's Undergraduate Association (UA) cutting its funding. But even with Voo Doo back on its feet, UA's response to the magazine's content suggests MIT students might be developing worrisome attitudes about speech and censorship.

Read more

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Calgary school axes honour roll, saying it often hurts 'self-esteem and pride' of students who don't make it

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Archived Version

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 13:24

Calgary school axes honour roll, saying it often hurts 'self-esteem and pride' of students who don't make it

Facebook | Twitter | Email | Instapaper

Reid Southwick and Trevor Howell, Postmedia NewsTuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Lohini Winn, with her son Andreas, is among the parents that are upset that St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School is moving away from recognizing student academic achievements. Lorraine Hjalte/Postmedia News

CALGARY '-- A Calgary school's decision to stop rewarding students for their academic achievements has reignited a debate over whether such award programs should remain in the classroom.

Roughly 250 students in Grade 7 to 9 will no longer compete for the honour roll after St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School axed academic awards and year-end ceremonies.

''Awards eventually lose their lustre to students who get them, while often hurting the self-esteem and pride of those who do not receive a certificate,'' school officials said in a letter to parents explaining the decision

Many parents and students have expressed shock and disappointment, and ask why officials would take away a sense of purpose for young learners and an incentive for students to work harder to get better grades.

''The kids that care, that are trying but don't ever achieve one, well there's something to be learned from that,'' said Jason Redelback, whose 14-year-old son is enrolled at St. Basil.

''You teach kids how to win, you teach kids how to lose,'' Mr. Redelback added. ''But you also teach them how to improve themselves and give them goals to strive for.''

The school's letter to parents cites the work of education guru Alfie Kohn, who contends that ''dangling rewards in front of children are at best ineffective, and at worst counterproductive.''

School principal Craig Kittelson acknowledged that line of thinking runs counter to tradition, but the school has the best interest of its students in mind.

''We're not saying not to set high goals,'' Mr. Kittelson said. ''We're still striving to get them to do their best. Kids want to do their best and we want to support them in doing their best.''

Mary Martin, chair of the Calgary Catholic School District, would not say whether she backs the decision, but that she supports allowing schools to make their own choices based on their unique circumstances.

''I am aware of some schools where there has been a movement away from the one or two times a year where you stand up and get these certificates,'' Ms. Martin said. ''And the reason they are doing that is they are trying to reward students in a way that's relevant to their kids and more frequently.''

An earlier forum on academic awards in the Calgary Catholic School District had revealed divisions among school administrators, trustees and parents on the effects that formal recognition has on students.

'You teach kids how to win, you teach kids how to lose'

There were concerns among those attending the forum that honours and award programs can sow jealousy among classmates, cause undue stress and spur children who are not top achievers to give up because they never win.

Others felt that such programs build a sense of community, boost self-esteem, encourage students to work harder and open doors to scholarships down the road.

In 2007, Red Deer teacher and author Joe Bower helped spearhead a similar move to end awards ceremonies at Red Deer's Westpark Middle School, where he then taught. But rather than end all awards, the school decided to broaden its scope, allowing teachers and students to celebrate the individual strengths and improvements of kids through personalized recognition posters.

The response from parents of students at the Red Deer school was ''overwhelmingly positive,'' he said.

''We need to broaden our narrow view of what we recognize in children and what we call success and evidence of success,'' Mr. Bower said. ''Right now, many schools just focus on 80% in their core subjects. That's a pretty narrow view.''

Dropping awards ceremonies, or celebrating all students' achievements, doesn't '-- as many have charged '-- foster mediocrity, said Mr. Bower.

''Every child has strengths and something to be celebrated,'' he said. ''And if you can't find them, then you're not looking hard enough.''

At St. Basil, praise and recognition will now be immediate through feedback from teachers.

''We know there's value in many, many traditions, and this is something that we debated as well,'' Mr. Kittelson said.

Postmedia News

Posted in:News Tags:Canada, Calgary, Education, Students

The Charitable-Industrial Complex - NYTimes.com

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Archived Version

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 19:39

I HAD spent much of my life writing music for commercials, film and television and knew little about the world of philanthropy as practiced by the very wealthy until what I call the big bang happened in 2006. That year, my father, Warren Buffett, made good on his commitment to give nearly all of his accumulated wealth back to society. In addition to making several large donations, he added generously to the three foundations that my parents had created years earlier, one for each of their children to run.

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to ''save the day'' in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.

Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex.

But now I think something even more damaging is going on.

Because of who my father is, I've been able to occupy some seats I never expected to sit in. Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left. There are plenty of statistics that tell us that inequality is continually rising. At the same time, according to the Urban Institute, the nonprofit sector has been steadily growing. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It's a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone and more than 9.4 million employed.

Philanthropy has become the ''it'' vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ''give back.'' It's what I would call ''conscience laundering'' '-- feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, ''what's the R.O.I.?'' when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I'm going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) '-- what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn't all this just feed the beast?

I'm really not calling for an end to capitalism; I'm calling for humanism.

Often I hear people say, ''if only they had what we have'' (clean water, access to health products and free markets, better education, safer living conditions). Yes, these are all important. But no ''charitable'' (I hate that word) intervention can solve any of these issues. It can only kick the can down the road.

My wife and I know we don't have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change.

It's time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.

What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Foundation dollars should be the best ''risk capital'' out there.

There are people working hard at showing examples of other ways to live in a functioning society that truly creates greater prosperity for all (and I don't mean more people getting to have more stuff).

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It's when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we've got a perpetual poverty machine.

It's an old story; we really need a new one.

Peter Buffett is a composer and a chairman of the NoVo Foundation.

Cause Marketing Is Not Philanthropy

Bank$ters

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fbi director comey jamie dimon - Google Search

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Archived Version

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:27

Jamie Dimon - Huffington Postwww.huffingtonpost.com/tag/jamie-dimon- CachedSorkin's Failed Apologia for JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon... But there arealso other real things going on in the real world that have huge consequences for, ...Jamie Dimon Senate Banking Committee - Huffington Postwww.huffingtonpost.com/.../jamie-dimon-senate-banking-committee- CachedGo to Healthy Living. More in Healthy Living ... Posted 08.15.2012 | Comedy...JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has had to appear before the Senate BankingCommittee this week after his company lost somewhere between $3 billion an.Jamie Dimon Meets With Eric Holder To Talk Mortgage Probewww.huffingtonpost.com/.../jamie-dimon-eric-holder_n_3995509.html- Cached26 Sep 2013 ... WASHINGTON '-- J.P. Morgan's chief executive is at the Justice Department ...Why doesn't he go after the IRS slugs that targeted conservative ...Jamie Dimon Speech Was Like A Comedy - Business Insiderwww.businessinsider.com/jamie-dimon-speech-was-like-a-comedy-2013-2- Cached - Similar4 Feb 2013 ... The Best Lines From Jamie Dimon's Big Speech In Florida Today ... if you wantme to go through, but I'm not because there's press in the room.Jamie Dimon's Original Sin: 'America's Best Banker' Was Overrated ...www.theatlantic.com/business/.../jamie-dimon-s...s.../280763/- Cached22 Oct 2013 ...Jamie Dimon was the toast of Wall Street during, and shortly after, ... is walkingadvertisement for random fortune in finance, getting credit for ...James Dimon: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweekwww.businessweek.com/person/james-dimon.html- CachedJames Dimon, Chairman/President/CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. ... 6/2010-Present JP Morgan Intl Inc President; 12/2006-Present JPMorgan Chase & Co ...If JPMorgan Chase failed to stop Madoff, Jamie Dimon must gowww.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/27/125...

3 days ago ... Chase's CEO, Jamie Dimon, must pay for this with his job. ... So why shouldn't thefeds force Dimon to resign after being at the helm for the ...

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Swaps push-out bill

Protects tax payers from investors of 600 trillion in derivatives

This is about section 716 of Dodd Frank

Congress: Don't Let Citigroup Pre-Approve The Next Bailout!

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Archived Version

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:23

UPDATE: The House votes on Citigroup's bill TODAY! Call (202) 224-3121 now, ask for your Rep by name, and tell them to vote NO on HR 992! Then tweet this out and share it on Facebook.''Citigroup got half a trillion bucks in government help '' now Congress lets them write our laws?''

HUH? Wall Street megabank Citigroup received $467.2 Billion dollars worth of bailout money during the financial crash '' and now Congress is literally letting them write our financial laws. 1

HOW? Citigroup lobbyists wrote 70 out of the 85 lines of The Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act (HR 992), which would gut a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank law meant to protect taxpayers from future bailouts '' and now they're urging both parties to sign their bill as one of their first post-shutdown actions.2

WHY? HR 992 would let Big Banks hold almost all their risky derivatives inside of the part of the bank with FDIC insurance '' which makes business cheaper for the banks, but keeps us on the hook for bailing them out if things go south.3

This bill passed two Committees with bipartisan support, and is due to be voted on in the House of Representatives on October 30th. When this bill bill passed the House Agriculture Committee, Democratic Representative Collin Peterson warned his colleagues: ''You're putting taxpayers on the hook'...You can vote any way you want, but this could come back and haunt you.''4

We're tired and outraged that after all their crimes, Citigroup STILL holds sway in Congress. We are calling on BOTH the Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer AND the Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy to whip AGAINST HR 992. We want to let them know that we are watching, and we know that a vote for HR 992 is a vote to help Citigroup at the expense of We, The People.

Are you the kind of total nerd who, like us, who wants more details and sources? Read on!

It's cheaper for banks to borrow money out of the ''insured depository'' '-- the part of the bank with FDIC insurance '-- because it has a higher credit rating.5 It has a higher credit rating, because Credit Ratings Agencies assume the government would bail that part of the bank out were something to go wrong. But why should we allow the banks to hold risky products in this safe, insured part of the bank, just because it's cheaper for them? Haven't we done ENOUGH for the Big Banks?

While Citigroup has lobbied for this bill because they claim it's too cumbersome and expensive to move their risky derivatives out of the ''insured depository,'' you should know that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs already hold their derivatives outside the ''insured depository,'' and are not complaining. It is only Citigroup, the bank that needed the most help, that is complaining. Why should Congress listen to the worst bank on Wall Street, and let the bank that needed to most government money write our laws?

In Congress, the people responsible for rallying votes are called ''whips.'' We are calling on BOTH the Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer AND the Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy to whip AGAINST HR 992. We want to let them know that we are watching, and we know that a vote for HR 992 is a vote to help Citigroup at the expense of We, The People.

Sources:

1. New York Magazine, ''Citigroup Received More Bailout Money Than Any Other Bank.''

2. The New York Times, ''Bank Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills.''

3. The Other 98%, ''Alexis Breaks Down the Citigroup Bill-Writing Scandal.''

4. The Huffington Post, ''Wall Street Deregulation Advances As Top Democrat Warns That Vote Could 'Haunt' Congress.''

5. The New York Times, '' "http://bit.ly/citimoney">Why Did Citigroup Try to Overturn an Overhaul?''

H.R.992 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

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Shown Here:Introduced in House (03/06/2013)Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act - Amends the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act with respect to the prohibition against certain federal assistance to swaps entities, namely the use of any advances from specified Federal Reserve credit facilities or discount windows, or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance or guarantees, for the purpose of: (1) making any loan to, or purchasing any stock, equity interest, or debt obligation of, any swaps entity; (2) purchasing the assets of any swaps entity; (3) guaranteeing any loan or debt issuance of any swaps entity; or (4) entering into any assistance arrangement (including tax breaks), loss sharing, or profit sharing with any swaps entity.

Extends to any major swap participant or major security-based swap participant that is an uninsured U.S. branch or agency of a foreign bank the exemption from the prohibition against federal assistance to swaps entities which is currently limited to any major swap participant or major security-based swap participant that is an FDIC-insured bank or savings association.

Designates both uninsured U.S. branches or agencies of a foreign bank and insured depository institutions as "covered depository institutions."

Requires any covered depository institution exempted from the prohibition to limit its swap and security-based swap activities to hedging and similar risk mitigating activities (as under current law), non-structured finance swap activities, or certain structured finance swap activities. (Defines "structured finance swap" as a swap or security-based swap based on an asset-backed security [or group or index primarily composed of asset-backed securities].)

Qualifies a structured finance swap activity for the exemption if: (1) it is undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes, or (2) each asset-backed security underlying the structured finance swap is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing such a swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions.

Repeals the exemption from the prohibition for any insured depository institution that limits its swap and security-based swap activities to acting as a swaps entity for: (1) swaps or security-based swaps involving rates or reference assets that are permissible for investment by a national bank; or (2) credit default swaps, including those referencing the credit risk of asset-backed securities unless they are cleared by a derivatives clearing organization or a clearing agency registered, or exempt from registration, under the Commodity Exchange Act or the Securities Exchange Act.

Text - H.R.992 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

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There are 2 versions of the bill:

Shown Here:Reported in House (09/25/2013)[Congressional Bills 113th Congress][From the U.S. Government Printing Office][H.R. 992 Reported in House (RH)] Union Calendar No. 169113th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 992 [Report No. 113-229, Parts I and II]To amend provisions in section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act relating to Federal assistance for swaps entities._______________________________________________________________________ IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES March 6, 2013Mr. Hultgren (for himself, Mr. Himes, Mr. Hudson, and Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned September 25, 2013 Additional sponsors: Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Conaway, Mr. Garrett, Mr. Bachus, and Mr. Schneider September 25, 2013 Reported from the Committee on Financial Services September 25, 2013Reported from the Committee on Agriculture; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed_______________________________________________________________________ A BILL To amend provisions in section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act relating to Federal assistance for swaps entities. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act''.SEC. 2. REFORM OF PROHIBITION ON SWAP ACTIVITY ASSISTANCE. Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 8305) is amended-- (1) in subsection (b)-- (A) in paragraph (2)(B), by striking ``insured depository institution'' and inserting ``covered depository institution''; and (B) by adding at the end the following: ``(3) Covered depository institution.--The term `covered depository institution' means-- ``(A) an insured depository institution, as that term is defined in section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813); and ``(B) a United States uninsured branch or agency of a foreign bank.''; (2) in subsection (c)-- (A) in the heading for such subsection, by striking ``Insured'' and inserting ``Covered''; (B) by striking ``an insured'' and inserting ``a covered''; (C) by striking ``such insured'' and inserting ``such covered''; and (D) by striking ``or savings and loan holding company'' and inserting ``savings and loan holding company, or foreign banking organization (as such term is defined under Regulation K of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (12 C.F.R. 211.21(o)))''; (3) by amending subsection (d) to read as follows: ``(d) Only Bona Fide Hedging and Traditional Bank Activities Permitted.-- ``(1) In general.--The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply to any covered depository institution that limits its swap and security-based swap activities to the following: ``(A) Hedging and other similar risk mitigation activities.--Hedging and other similar risk mitigating activities directly related to the covered depository institution's activities. ``(B) Non-structured finance swap activities.-- Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps other than a structured finance swap. ``(C) Certain structured finance swap activities.-- Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps that are structured finance swaps, if-- ``(i) such structured finance swaps are undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes; or ``(ii) each asset-backed security underlying such structured finance swaps is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions. ``(2) Definitions.--For purposes of this subsection: ``(A) Structured finance swap.--The term `structured finance swap' means a swap or security- based swap based on an asset-backed security (or group or index primarily comprised of asset-backed securities). ``(B) Asset-backed security.--The term `asset- backed security' has the meaning given such term under section 3(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)).''; (4) in subsection (e), by striking ``an insured'' and inserting ``a covered''; and (5) in subsection (f)-- (A) by striking ``an insured depository'' and inserting ``a covered depository''; and (B) by striking ``the insured depository'' each place such term appears and inserting ``the covered depository''. Union Calendar No. 169113th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 992 [Report No. 113-229, Parts I and II]_______________________________________________________________________ A BILLTo amend provisions in section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act relating to Federal assistance for swaps entities._______________________________________________________________________ September 25, 2013 Reported from the Committee on Financial Services September 25, 2013Reported from the Committee on Agriculture; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

Derivatives Pushout Bill Set to Get U.S. House Vote Next Week - Bloomberg

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The U.S. House plans to vote next week on a measure that would undo a Dodd-Frank Act requirement that banks move their derivatives business out to affiliates.

The bill, included on a schedule released by Republican House leaders, would alter the 2010 law's pushout provision by allowing trading of almost all types of derivatives by units of banks with access to deposit insurance and discount borrowing. The provision was put in Dodd-Frank as a way to reduce risk by banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. that benefit from U.S. backstops.

The revision, which has broad support in the House, hasn't gained traction in the Senate. A companion bill introduced by Senator Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, hasn't seen movement.

The House Financial Services Committee approved a bill sponsored by Representative Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican and Representative James Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, by a 53-6 vote in May after the House Agriculture Committee advanced it by a 31-14 vote in March.

The Federal Reserve has granted certain banks two-year extensions to comply with the Dodd-Frank requirement to separate derivative trading from U.S. units that get federal backing. The central bank has said in letters to banks that the companies must determine whether to halt the swaps activity or move it to properly capitalized affiliates.

The House bill is H.R. 992.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cheyenne Hopkins in Washington at chopkins19@bloomberg.net; Silla Brush in Washington at sbrush@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net

David Scott (Georgia politician) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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David A. Scott (born June 27, 1945) is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 13th congressional district, serving since 2003. The district includes the southern fourth of Atlanta, as well as several of its suburbs to the south and west. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life and education[edit]Scott was born in Aynor, South Carolina and attended high school in Daytona Beach, Florida. He received a bachelor's degree in finance from Florida A&M University, and a masters degree in business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Scott is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[1]

Georgia Legislature[edit]Scott served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1974 to 1982 and in the Georgia State Senate from 1982 to 2002.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]Committee assignments[edit]Party leadership[edit]Co-Chair of the Democratic Study Group on National SecurityScott is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition.[1]

Scott was the lead sponsor on the following legislation:

The Financial Literacy Act - an act to provide education to investors and home buyersThe Access to Healthcare Insurance Act, extending affordable healthcare coverageThe Extension for Unemployment Benefits and the Overtime Pay Protection ActsThe Moment of Silence Act for reflection or prayer at the start of each school day in the nation's public schoolsThe Retired Pay Restoration Act, giving veterans both retirement and disability payThe Zero Down Payment Act which eliminates the down payment requirement for middle and low income families who buy homes with a FHA insured mortgagesThe Mutual Fund Integrity Act which strengthens regulations of the stock marketPolitical positions[edit]Online gambling[edit]Scott is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act[2] and voted for H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[3] In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").

Healthcare Reform[edit]David Scott voted for healthcare reform. In the discussion leading up to his vote, Congressman Scott fielded several different points of view. On August 6, 2009, Scott was confronted by a local doctor who claimed to live in Scott's district. The doctor, who later appeared in subsequent debates with his opposition candidate, asked Scott why he was going to vote for a health care plan similar to the plan implemented in Massachusetts and if he supported a government-provided health care insurance option. Scott questioned whether or not the doctor was a resident of Scott's district, although the local TV station WXIA-TV's news department confirmed that the doctor did live and work in Scott's district.[4]

Many others in attendance, however, were later discovered not to be residents of the 13th Congressional District and were 'planted' there by a vocal opposition minority. Scott also noted that Dr. Hill had not called Scott's office for setting up a meeting concerning health care but this has not been verified.[5] Scott has allegedly received death threats from neoconservative activists.[6] A swastika was found spray painted on a sign outside of his congressional office in his congressional district, reportedly painted by neoconservative activists. An investigation is underway.[7]

Fiscal policy[edit]Although Scott voted against the first version of the 2008 bailout, he backed the final version "after being assured the legislation would aid homeowners facing foreclosures. Scott crafted an added provision dedicating $14 billion to aid those homeowners."[8]

Same-sex marriage[edit]Scott supported two failed pieces of legislation in 2004 and 2006 that aimed to establish a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.[8][9] However, in May 2013 thinkprogress.org reported receiving an email from a spokesman of Scott saying, 'Congressman Scott fully supports marriage equality.'[10] HRC's profile of Scott also contains this sentence as his statement under 'position on marriage equality'.[11]

Personal life[edit]David Scott is brother-in-law to baseball hall of fame member Hank Aaron.

In 1978 David Scott founded owned Dayn-Mark Advertising (from the names of his two daughters, Dayna and Marcie), which places billboards and other forms of advertising in the Atlanta area. Scott's wife, Alfredia, now heads the business. In May 2007, it was reported that the business owes more than $150,000 in back taxes and penalties.[12] Scott's campaigns have paid the company more than $500,000 over the eight years totalling from 2002 until current date - for office rent, printing, T-shirts, and other services. He has also paid his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law tens of thousands of dollars for campaign work such as fund raising and canvassing. In 2007, Scott was named one of the 25 most corrupt members of Congress by the political watchdog groupCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.[13]

References[edit]External links[edit]PersondataNameScott, DavidAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican politicianDate of birth1946-06-27Place of birthAynor, South CarolinaDate of deathPlace of death

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Text of H.R. 3293: Debt Limit Reform Act (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 21:52

HR 3293 IH

To reform the public debt limit.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 15, 2013

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

To reform the public debt limit.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.This Act may be cited as the 'Debt Limit Reform Act'.

SEC. 2. REFORM OF THE PUBLIC DEBT LIMIT.(a) Authority of President To Increase Public Debt Limit- Section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

'(d) The dollar amount in effect under subsection (b) shall be increased at such times and in such amounts as the President of the United States, or his designee, may provide.'.

(b) Government-Held Debt Not Taken Into Account for Purposes of the Public Debt Limit- Section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

'(e) Obligations held by the United States Government (including any obligation which is classified as an intragovernmental holding by the Secretary of the Treasury or which is held by any agency or instrumentality of the United States) shall not be taken into account for purposes of applying the limitation imposed under subsection (b).'.

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Rabobank schikt voor 774 miljoen in Liborfraudezaak

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:15

Door: Redactie '' 29/10/13, 13:33

(C) anp. Bestuursvoorzitter Piet Moerland (L) en CFO Bert Bruggink tijdens de presentatie van de jaarcijfers van de Rabobank.

Rabobank heeft schikkingen getroffen van in totaal 774 miljoen euro vanwege fraude met belangrijke rentetarieven. Dat werd dinsdag bekendgemaakt. Piet Moerland treedt per direct terug als topman van Rabobank.

Moerland was sinds 2009 bestuursvoorzitter en zou eigenlijk volgend jaar met pensioen gaan. Hij zou daarbij tijdelijk worden opgevolgd door commissaris Marinus Minderhoud. De bestuurder die verantwoordelijk is voor de Liborhandelaren, Sipko Schat, zou wel in functie blijven.

Hoogste strafVan de totale boete gaat 70 miljoen euro naar het Openbaar Ministerie en is daarmee veruit de hoogste OM-transactie die een Nederlands bedrijf ooit heeft moeten betalen. Rabobank betaalt verder 105 miljoen pond aan Britse toezichthouders en 800 miljoen dollar aan toezichthouders in de Verenigde Staten.

Eerder werden Barclays, UBS en Royal Bank of Scotland al beboet voor het Liborschandaal. Rabobank krijgt na het Zwitserse UBS de hoogste straf van alle betrokken banken tot nu toe. UBS moest 1,5 miljard dollar betalen vanwege de manipulatie van het rentetarief door handelaren van de Zwitserse bank.

De straf werd opgelegd omdat handelaren van Rabobank met collega's van andere internationale banken hebben samengespannen om het internationaal veelgebruikte rentetarief Libor te manipuleren.

Volgens minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem van Financin zijn de opgelegde boetes terecht. 'De Liboraffaire schaadt opnieuw het vertrouwen in de financile sector. Deze vorm van schaamteloze fraude van geldhandelaren staat mijlenver van de co¶peratieve gedachte van Rabobank. Ik respecteer de beslissing van Moerland die hiermee verantwoordelijkheid neemt en zijn afkeuring op de sterkst mogelijke manier uit. De nu aangekondigde maatregelen zijn essentieel om dergelijke misstanden voor de toekomst uit te bannen.'

De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) heeft actie ondernomen bij Rabobank naar aanleiding van de 'misdragingen'. 'Op aandringen van DNB heeft Rabobank disciplinaire maatregelen in de organisatie doorgevoerd en zijn bonussen ingetrokken. Ook heeft Rabobank in nauw overleg met DNB het initiatief genomen om de interne organisatie te versterken om voortaan dergelijke gebeurtenissen te voorkomen en de bedrijfscultuur te verbeteren', zo meldt DNB.

Verklaring Moerland (tekst gaat verder na de video):

Uit onderzoek is gebleken dat 30 medewerkers van Rabobank 'op enige wijze' betrokken zijn geweest bij ontoelaatbaar gedrag, aldus de Rabobank. Sommigen hebben tussen 2005 en 2010 getracht rentetarieven te be¯nvloeden, anderen waren op de hoogte of hadden dat moeten zijn.

De bestuurders en commissarissen betreuren de misstanden, maar benadrukken ook dat bestuurders en hooggeplaatste managers er niet bij betrokken waren en er ook niet van wisten.

Rabobank heeft de medewerkers die direct betrokken waren bij de misstanden ontslagen. Anderen kregen waarschuwingen en boetes of werden managementtaken ontnomen. Bonussen over de periode 2009 tot en met 2012, ter waarde van 4,2 miljoen euro, zijn geheel of gedeeltelijk teruggevorderd.

Waarom de Rabobank moet boeten: vijf vragen over de Liborfraudezaak - Economie - VK

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 14:08

Door: Yvonne Hofs '' 30/10/13, 06:53

(C) ANP. De Rabobank moet een boete van 774 miljoen euro betalen vanwege fraude met belangrijke rentetarieven.

Vijf vragen De bank die zich graag als vriendelijk alternatief voor de zakelijke concurrenten presenteert, was een hoofdrolspeler in de internationale rentefraude. Waarom heeft de Rabobank zo'n hoge boete gekregen? En komt de bank nu in financile problemen? Vijf vragen.

(C) anp.

Wat zijn de Libor en de Euribor?Libor staat voor London Interbank Offered Rate, Euribor voor Euro Interbank Offered Rate. Dit zijn de rentetarieven waartegen banken elkaar geld willen lenen. Deze tarieven zijn heel belangrijk, omdat tal van andere rentetarieven op de Libor en de Euribor worden gebaseerd, waaronder de hypotheekrente. Indirect bepalen de Libor en de Euribor dus mede de prijzen die consumenten betalen voor bancaire diensten.

De Euribor en Libor worden dagelijks vastgesteld op basis van een enquªte onder de banken die lid zijn van de acht Libor-panels en het Euribor-panel. De enquªte wordt uitgevoerd door het financile persbureau ThomsonReuters. Dat bureau vraagt elke deelnemende bank tegen welke rente de bank geld kan lenen bij andere banken. De opgegeven rentes worden vervolgens gemiddeld.

Dat gemiddelde publiceert ThomsonReuters vervolgens als de dan geldende Libor en Euribor. Al in 2008 stelde de gezaghebbende Bank voor Internationale Betalingen (BIS) vast dat het systeem fraudegevoelig was. De banken kunnen het rentetarief be¯nvloeden door tegen de enquªteur van ThomsonReuters te liegen.

Veel banken hebben daar belang bij, omdat ze handelen in producten waarvan de prijs van de Libor of de Euribor is afgeleid. Door de rente een duwtje in de gewenste richting te geven, kunnen ze met die handel meer verdienen. De Rabobank is het enige Nederlandse lid van de Libor-panels, van het grotere Euribor-panel is ook ING lid. Naar aanleiding van het Libor-schandaal heeft de Rabobank in juni 2012 zijn lidmaatschap van drie van de acht Libor-panels opgezegd. Begin 2013 stapte de bank ook uit het Euribor-panel.

Waarom heeft de Rabobank nu zo'n hoge boete gekregen?Vanwege de omvang en de duur van de geconstateerde misdragingen en vanwege de omstandigheid dat de bedrijfsleiding bijzonder laks heeft gereageerd op waarschuwingen en interne en externe signalen dat medewerkers van de bank de Libor en Euribor aan het manipuleren waren. De Zwitserse bank UBS heeft tot nu toe de hoogste boete betaald van de vier banken die geschikt hebben in de Libor-affaire. Bij UBS waren 45 medewerkers actief betrokken bij de fraude. Bij de Rabobank waren dat er 30 en bij Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) gingen 21 werknemers over de schreef. Het Britse Barclays kwam er relatief licht vanaf omdat deze bank als eerste schuld bekende.

Welk bewijs is er tegen de Rabobank?De onderzoekers hebben ongeveer vijfhonderd e-mails achterhaald waarin medewerkers onderling afspreken welk rentetarief ze die dag aan ThomsonReuters zullen doorgeven (in afwijking dus van het werkelijke rentetarief).

Effectenhandelaren van de Rabobank deden routineus renteverzoeken aan hun collega's die als 'submitter' (de persoon die de Euribor en Libor doorgeeft aan het persbureau) werkten. Rabobank-medewerkers deden op deze wijze ook 'zaken' met andere Libor-panelleden, wat de kans vergrootte dat de rente in de gewenste richting bewoog.

De Libor-panels bestaan uit slechts twaalf leden. Een paar foute opgaven leiden dus al snel tot een te hoge of lage Libor, ook al worden de extremen uit de enquªte weggestreept. De frauderende medewerkers handelden uit winstbejag.

De meesten werkten op de afdeling Liquidity & Finance van de divisie Client Trading & Money Markets en werden beloond met prestatiebonussen. Door de Libor en de Euribor in de door hen gewenste richting te manipuleren, konden ze de winstdoelstellingen waarop hun bonus was gebaseerd gemakkelijker halen.

Komt de Rabobank door de boete in de financile problemen?Nee. De bank kan dat bedrag vrij gemakkelijk opbrengen. De nettowinst van de Rabobank over 2012 bedroeg 2,1 miljard euro en die over het eerste halfjaar van 2013 1,1 miljard euro. De bank heeft dit jaar bovendien 1,5 miljard euro verdiend met de verkoop van vermogensbeheerder Robeco. Met die opbrengst wilde Rabobank het eigen vermogen verder versterken, maar de bank voldoet al aan de gestelde kapitaaleisen. Door de Libor-boete valt de jaarwinst natuurlijk wel lager uit. In juni reserveerde de Rabobank een onbekend bedrag om de Libor-boete te voldoen. De bank heeft het boetebedrag toen iets te laag ingeschat en moet dus nog wat extra opzij zetten. In de VS lopen nog wel 37 civiele rechtszaken tegen de bank.

Worden de dertig overtreders bestraft?Van de veertien die nog bij de Rabobank in dienst zijn wordt 4,2 miljoen euro aan toegezegde bonussen over de jaren 2009 tot en met 2012 ingehouden. Het betreft slechts het deel van de bonussen dat nog niet was uitbetaald. In tegenstelling tot mede-Libor-zondaar RBS vordert de Rabobank niet de al uitbetaalde bonussen terug bij de werknemers die over de schreef zijn gegaan.

De zestien werknemers die inmiddels vertrokken zijn, mogen hun mede dankzij de door hen gepleegde Libor-fraude - verdiende bonussen houden. De vijf ontslagen werknemers hebben daarnaast een 'substantile' ontslagvergoeding gekregen. DNB is daar in zijn rapport zeer kritisch over en constateert dat dit niet strookt met het door de Rabobank beleden 'no reward for failure'-beginsel. DNB heeft geist dat ook de raad van bestuur een deel van de toegekende bonussen over de afgelopen jaren inlevert, in totaal zo'n 2 miljoen euro.

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Study says 'Cash for Clunkers' created few jobs | The Detroit News

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 14:12

Washington '-- The nearly $3 billion ''Cash for Clunkers'' program approved by Congress in 2009 did little to boost the environment and created few jobs, a new study released Wednesday found.

A Brookings Institution study found the $2.85 billion program ''provided a short-term boost in vehicle sales, which were pulled forward from sales that would have occurred in subsequent months. There was a small increase in employment but the implied cost per job created ($1.4 million) was far higher than other fiscal stimulus programs.''

The study '-- from researchers Ted Gayer and Emily Parker '-- said the ''Car Allowance Rebate System,'' or CARS did little to boost employment. This is at least the fourth major study since 2012 that has raised questions about the value of the program.

The study said far more jobs could have been created using other government stimulus programs '-- increasing unemployment benefits (at $95,000 per job); $80,000-$133,000 per job created for cutting employers' payroll taxes; $222,000 per job created for reducing employees' payroll taxes; $200,000 per job created for providing additional Social Security benefits; or $222,000 per job created for allowing the expensing of investment costs.

The study estimates the sales led to 3,676 ''job years'' '-- sales supporting a job for a single year '-- between the automaker and auto parts sector, or at a cost of $1.4 million per job. ''This suggests that the CARS program was far less cost effective at creating jobs than other fiscal stimulus programs,'' the report said.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 had estimated far more jobs as a result of the program. The program ''estimated that cash for clunkers will create 70,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.'' The White House got into a war of words with Edmunds.com in October 2009 about the value of the program.

Nearly 700,000 vehicles were traded in between July and August 2009 under the program. Participants received either a $3,500 or $4,500 voucher toward the purchase of a new car depending on the difference in fuel efficiency '-- and the car traded in had to be destroyed. The study credits Alan Blinder for proposing the idea in a New York Times op-ed in July 2008. Initially the program received $1 billion but after the program quickly ran out of money, Congress approved another $2 billion.

The study noted that during ''Cash for Clunkers,'' the program accounted for 31.4 percent of total auto sales. Vehicle sales fell by 38 percent in September after the program expired. The study and several other studies suggest the program pulled ahead a $2 billion increase in third quarter Gross Domestic Program from the next six months. It also argues that the program ''provided a short-term boost in vehicle sales of approximately 380,000 vehicles, which were pulled forward from sales that would have occurred in subsequent months.'' The average price of vehicles purchased was $22,592.

But the program also destroyed some perfectly good cars. ''Incentivizing the premature destruction of used vehicles represents a loss of capital stock and thus a reduction in economic wealth,'' the study said.

A 2012 study found the program resulted in a reduction in gasoline consumption of 884 million to 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline '-- or 2.4 days to 7.9 days of total U.S. gasoline consumption. The study found the costs for reducing carbon emissions was similar to the $3,400 hybrid tax credit, but more cost effective than the electric vehicle tax credit, excise tax credit for ethanol or renewable fuel standard.

''The cost per ton of carbon dioxide reduced from the program suggests that the program was not a cost effective way to reduce emissions,'' the study found.

The bill had required dealers to administer surveys to determine if people taking part had planned to buy a new car without the program. But because the program was rushed into existence, just 21 percent of buyers fully completed the survey.

The Transportation Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In June, outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defended the program, saying the program took automakers ''off life support.''

''The showrooms had been abandoned,'' LaHood said before the program took effect.

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Slave Training

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Brain Games & Brain Training - Lumosity

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 06:16

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Build your Personalized Training ProgramEnhance memory and attentionWeb-based personalized training programTrack changes in your performanceGet Started Now

Health Check: does brain training make you smarter?

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Source: The Conversation

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 06:14

No one disputes that extensive training on a specific task will improve performance on that task. Paul BoxleyNo one who has kept their head out of the sand over the past several years needs to be told ''brain training'' is a hot topic. And it's big business too, with advocates using claims such as ''personal training design by scientists'' to market their wares.

Decades of studies in both laboratory animals and humans have demonstrated the capacity of the brain for some degree of plasticity. This can be extremely beneficial; after someone suffers a stroke, for instance, and has to relearn some basic abilities.

But is there any evidence that specific ''brain training'' can improve overall performance? Or is it all hype and hyperbole?

For many, not oneThe cornerstone of scientific progress is the demonstration of evidence-based effects rather than a media vortex of gee-wizz findings in individuals, no matter how compelling these may be for the television viewer.

Sceptics argue that brain-training studies claiming to demonstrate significant effects lack more general applicability and have shown only very specific kinds of improvement.

Meanwhile, proponents of brain training argue studies failing to demonstrate effects employ flawed approaches, including unsatisfactory application of recommended methods.

The key question is generalisability of benefits '' the holy grail of brain training.

The key question for assessing the benefits of brain training is the generaliszability of benefits. Daniela Hartmann

No one really disputes that extensive training on a specific task will improve performance on that task. But the acid test for brain training is whether it can be reliably demonstrated that training on some tasks transfers more widely to a range of other tasks and thought processes.

In the largest study undertaken in this area to date, researchers were patently unable to demonstrate a generalisation of training across tasks.

They conducted a six-week online study in which 11,430 participants trained several times each week on cognitive tasks designed to improve reasoning, memory, planning, visuospatial skills and attention. Improvement effects were task specific and failed to transfer to other untrained tasks.

But in another, more recent high-profile study undertaken in older individuals, another group of researchers used a video game in which players were required to drive and identify specific road signs.

After training, older individuals, aged 60 to 85 years, became more proficient than untrained individuals in their 20s. Their performance levels were sustained for six months, even without additional training.

Perhaps most critically, these researchers reported that older adults performed better at other attention and working memory tests as well, demonstrating the transferability of benefits from the training game to different cognitive functions.

But there's been much criticism of the study's findings; for example, with respect to the relatively small number of participants involved.

The bigger pictureAnd so it goes. Volleys are fired back and forth between the two camps against the backdrop of more general and far-reaching considerations that currently appear to stack up on the side of the sceptics.

It's widely accepted among working scientists that it's much more challenging to publish findings that demonstrate non-significant outcomes compared with findings that demonstrate statistically significant differences. So, there's a potential publication bias against studies of brain training that fail to demonstrate an effect.

But where does this all leave us?

It may be that brain training will show generalizability only from some specific tasks onto others.

There have been claims, for instance, that brain training may improve intelligence (which remains an inchoate concept), or that brain training can rewire the prefrontal cortex or its connections '' or both.

The latter (alluded to by researchers who did the video game study above) may be beneficial, given that prefrontal brain regions are known to be engaged in the coordination of many different processes.

It's also been claimed from neuroimaging investigations that brain training can produce changes in the ''hardwiring'' of the brain. But whether these changes endure and what they truly signify remains open to question.

You could spend your time and money on learning an instrument instead. Marco Tedaldi

The jury is still out on brain training for otherwise healthy individuals. But if you're considering taking it up, it's important to consider that some of the principal proponents of brain training methods have a financial or other commercial stake in the packages they're endorsing.

The key question you should ask yourself is the opportunity cost associated with brain training '' what is it you are not doing in order to spend time 'training your brain'?

In addition to financial expense, many brain-training packages involve considerable investment of your time over an extended period.

You might spend your time and money more effectively doing other things to improve your abilities, such as exercising, improving your diet, learning to play an instrument, or acquiring a new language.

These alternative pursuits confer the additional benefit of social interaction, which has clearly been demonstrated to benefit our brain health.

Sign in to Favourite1 CommentTagsBrain plasticity, Health Check

Related articles 21 October 2013 Health Check: high-intensity micro workouts vs traditional regimes 14 October 2013 Health Check: does caffeine enhance performance? 10 October 2013 Preview: ABC's Redesign my Brain with Todd Sampson 7 October 2013 Health Check: the untrue story of antioxidants vs free radicals 4 October 2013 Understanding the brain and mind: science's final frontier?

Brain Training Games Are Bullshit (lookin' at you, Lumosity) | Iron Man Mode: The Blog

Lumosity - the Lumos Labs Team - Lumosity

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Neuroscientists discover new ''mini-neural computer'' in the brain

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 21:18

Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once thought to be passive wiring in the brain. But now researchers at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that these dendrites do more than relay information from one neuron to the next. They actively process information, multiplying the brain's computing power.

"Suddenly, it's as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought," said Spencer Smith, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

His team's findings, published October 27 in the journal Nature, could change the way scientists think about long-standing scientific models of how neural circuitry functions in the brain, while also helping researchers better understand neurological disorders.

"Imagine you're reverse engineering a piece of alien technology, and what you thought was simple wiring turns out to be transistors that compute information," Smith said. "That's what this finding is like. The implications are exciting to think about."

Axons are where neurons conventionally generate electrical spikes, but many of the same molecules that support axonal spikes are also present in the dendrites. Previous research using dissected brain tissue had demonstrated that dendrites can use those molecules to generate electrical spikes themselves, but it was unclear whether normal brain activity involved those dendritic spikes. For example, could dendritic spikes be involved in how we see?

The answer, Smith's team found, is yes. Dendrites effectively act as mini-neural computers, actively processing neuronal input signals themselves.

Directly demonstrating this required a series of intricate experiments that took years and spanned two continents, beginning in senior author Michael Hausser's lab at University College London, and being completed after Smith and Ikuko Smith, PhD, DVM, set up their own lab at the Univ. of North Carolina. They used patch-clamp electrophysiology to attach a microscopic glass pipette electrode, filled with a physiological solution, to a neuronal dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The idea was to directly "listen" in on the electrical signaling process.

"Attaching the pipette to a dendrite is tremendously technically challenging," Smith said. "You can't approach the dendrite from any direction. And you can't see the dendrite. So you have to do this blind. It's like fishing if all you can see is the electrical trace of a fish." And you can't use bait. "You just go for it and see if you can hit a dendrite," he said. "Most of the time you can't."

But Smith built his own two-photon microscope system to make things easier.

Once the pipette was attached to a dendrite, Smith's team took electrical recordings from individual dendrites within the brains of anesthetized and awake mice. As the mice viewed visual stimuli on a computer screen, the researchers saw an unusual pattern of electrical signals '' bursts of spikes '' in the dendrite.

Smith's team then found that the dendritic spikes occurred selectively, depending on the visual stimulus, indicating that the dendrites processed information about what the animal was seeing.

To provide visual evidence of their finding, Smith's team filled neurons with calcium dye, which provided an optical readout of spiking. This revealed that dendrites fired spikes while other parts of the neuron did not, meaning that the spikes were the result of local processing within the dendrites.

Study co-author Tiago Branco, PhD, created a biophysical, mathematical model of neurons and found that known mechanisms could support the dendritic spiking recorded electrically, further validating the interpretation of the data.

"All the data pointed to the same conclusion," Smith said. "The dendrites are not passive integrators of sensory-driven input; they seem to be a computational unit as well."

His team plans to explore what this newly discovered dendritic role may play in brain circuitry and particularly in conditions like Timothy syndrome, in which the integration of dendritic signals may go awry.

Source: Univ. of North Carolina Healthcare

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Brazil Times: Local News: Student injured by K-9 officer (10/21/13)

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 02:01

An 11-year-old male student has been treated for "minor injuries" sustained following a bite from a Brazil Police Department K-9 officer at the Red Ribbon Awareness week kick-off event at the Clay County Courthouse Thursday, officials said.

According to a report submitted by the K-9 officer's handler, Ray Walters, the young man was transported by ambulance to St. Vincent Clay Hospital for treatment following the incident.

"It was an unfortunate accident," said Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen. "Wish it hadn't happened like that but it did. We are trying to evaluate (the incident) to make sure nothing like this happens again."

According to the report, the officer and his K-9 partner, Max, as well as another K-9 team were requested by Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers to carry out a simulated raid of a party with actors in place to help "educate the Clay County fifth-graders on drug awareness."

He added the juveniles in the scenario met with officers prior to the start and were asked to remain still when the dogs searched for narcotics.

McQueen said a very small amount of illegal drugs were hidden on one of the juveniles to show how the dogs can find even the smallest trace of an illegal substance. He added all this was done "under exclusive control and supervision of members of the court and law enforcement." Four scenarios were carried out that day with the incident occurring during the third scenario.

"As I got closer to the actors, Max began searching the juveniles," according to the officer's report. "The first male juvenile began moving his legs around as Max searched him. When the male began moving his legs, (this is what) I believe prompted Max's action to bite the male juvenile on the left calf."

McQueen said the result was minor puncture wounds to the leg.

The other K-9 officer met with Walters after the incident and said that several other children involved in the scenario saw the young man shake his legs when Max approached.

The report then stated the officer immediately shouted, "Oust," the German command for release, and after a few seconds, Max released his bite and ran behind the officer. The officer said he quickly exited with the K-9 officer after.

McQueen said the incident was not anything "out of control," but just a quick reaction by the dog to the young man's sudden movement.

According to the officer's report, the juvenile was transported to St. Vincent Clay Hospital. He immediately followed and spoke with the mother.

"(The mother) was very calm and polite," the officer's reported stated. "She asked me what had happened and I explained exactly as I have here in my report. She replied with 'it's OK, accidents happen.' She stated that her son was very tough and everything would be fine."

McQueen said the K-9 officer has to follow the same procedure as with any other dog bite. The dog has been taken out of service until test results from a veterinarian are returned.

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A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue - latimes.com

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 21:25

WASHINGTON '-- As America's road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America's major roads.

The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them '-- then use the information to draw up a tax bill.

PHOTOS: Kelley Blue Book's 10 best 'green' cars

The tea party is aghast. The American Civil Liberties Union is deeply concerned, too, raising a variety of privacy issues.

And while Congress can't agree on whether to proceed, several states are not waiting. They are exploring how, over the next decade, they can move to a system in which drivers pay per mile of road they roll over. Thousands of motorists have already taken the black boxes, some of which have GPS monitoring, for a test drive.

"This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do," said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is planning for the state to start tracking miles driven by every California motorist by 2025. "There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it."

The push comes as the country's Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don't buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn't gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.

"The gas tax is just not sustainable," said Lee Munnich, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota. His state recently put tracking devices on 500 cars to test out a pay-by-mile system. "This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term," he said.

Wonks call it a mileage-based user fee. It is no surprise that the idea appeals to urban liberals, as the taxes could be rigged to change driving patterns in ways that could help reduce congestion and greenhouse gases, for example. California planners are looking to the system as they devise strategies to meet the goals laid out in the state's ambitious global warming laws. But Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has said he, too, sees it as the most viable long-term alternative. The free marketeers at the Reason Foundation are also fond of having drivers pay per mile.

"This is not just a tax going into a black hole," said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason. "People are paying more directly into what they are getting."

The movement is also bolstered by two former U.S. Transportation secretaries, who in a 2011 report urged Congress to move in the pay-per-mile direction.

The U.S. Senate approved a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. But the House leadership killed the proposal, acting on concerns of rural lawmakers representing constituents whose daily lives often involve logging lots of miles to get to work or into town.

Several states and cities are nonetheless moving ahead on their own. The most eager is Oregon, which is enlisting 5,000 drivers in the country's biggest experiment. Those drivers will soon pay the mileage fees instead of gas taxes to the state. Nevada has already completed a pilot. New York City is looking into one. Illinois is trying it on a limited basis with trucks. And the I-95 Coalition, which includes 17 state transportation departments along the Eastern Seaboard (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida), is studying how they could go about implementing the change.

The concept is not a universal hit.

In Nevada, where about 50 volunteers' cars were equipped with the devices not long ago, drivers were uneasy about the government being able to monitor their every move.

"Concerns about Big Brother and those sorts of things were a major problem," said Alauddin Khan, who directs strategic and performance management at the Nevada Department of Transportation. "It was not something people wanted."

As the trial got underway, the ACLU of Nevada warned on its website: "It would be fairly easy to turn these devices into full-fledged tracking devices.... There is no need to build an enormous, unwieldy technological infrastructure that will inevitably be expanded to keep records of individuals' everyday comings and goings."

Nevada is among several states now scrambling to find affordable technology that would allow the state to keep track of how many miles a car is being driven, but not exactly where and at what time. If you can do that, Khan said, the public gets more comfortable.

The hunt for that technology has led some state agencies to a small California startup called True Mileage. The firm was not originally in the business of helping states tax drivers. It was seeking to break into an emerging market in auto insurance, in which drivers would pay based on their mileage. But the devices it is testing appeal to highway planners because they don't use GPS and deliver a limited amount of information, uploaded periodically by modem.

"People will be more willing to do this if you do not track their speed and you do not track their location," said Ryan Morrison, chief executive of True Mileage. "There have been some big mistakes in some of these state pilot programs. There are a lot less expensive and less intrusive ways to do this."

In Oregon, planners are experimenting with giving drivers different choices. They can choose a device with or without GPS. Or they can choose not to have a device at all, opting instead to pay a flat fee based on the average number of miles driven by all state residents.

Other places are hoping to sell the concept to a wary public by having the devices do more, not less. In New York City, transportation officials are seeking to develop a taxing device that would also be equipped to pay parking meter fees, provide "pay-as-you-drive" insurance, and create a pool of real-time speed data from other drivers that motorists could use to avoid traffic.

"Motorists would be attracted to participate '... because of the value of the benefits it offers to them," says a city planning document.

Some transportation planners, though, wonder if all the talk about paying by the mile is just a giant distraction. At the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area, officials say Congress could very simply deal with the bankrupt Highway Trust Fund by raising gas taxes. An extra one-time or annual levy could be imposed on drivers of hybrids and others whose vehicles don't use much gas, so they pay their fair share.

"There is no need for radical surgery when all you need to do is take an aspirin," said Randy Rentschler, the commission's director of legislation and public affairs. "If we do this, hundreds of millions of drivers will be concerned about their privacy and a host of other things."

evan.halper@latimes.com

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Accidentally Revealed Document Shows TSA Doesn't Think Terrorists Are Plotting To Attack Airplanes | Techdirt

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:59

Jonathan Corbett, a long-time vocal critic of TSA body scanners, has been engaged in a lawsuit against the government concerning the constitutionality of those scanners. In the course of the case, the TSA gave him classified documents, which he was ordered not to reveal. In using some of that information to make his case, he needed to file two copies of his brief: a public one with classified stuff redacted, and the full brief under seal, for the government and the courts to look at. Just one problem: someone over at Infowars noticed that apparently a clerk at the 11th Circuit appeals court forgot to file the document under seal, allowing them to find out what was under the redactions... Included in there is the following, apparently quoted from the TSA's own statements:''As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing.''

Elsewhere, the TSA appears to admit that "due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers," it's unlikely that there's much value in terrorists trying to hijack a plane these days (amusingly, that statement is a clear echo of Bruce Schneier's statement criticizing the TSA's security theater -- suggesting that the TSA flat out knows that airport security is nothing more than such theatrics).Elsewhere, in the redacted portions, the TSA is quoted as admitting that "there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11."

As Corbett notes in his filing, the entire basis for the nude scanners is that they were somehow necessary to stop terrorists with explosives from getting on planes. Yet, as he makes clear, the TSA knows that there's been little threat of any such attack for quite some time. He also details how the machines are not very good at tracking down explosives, and pretty much everything that has been caught with these machines (such as guns) could be easily found via traditional metal detectors. Further, as noted above, other protections that have nothing to do with the nude scanners are the main reason (which the TSA admits) that terrorists have moved on from targeting airplanes.

Amazingly, it appears that the government forced Corbett to redact the revelation that the TSA's own threat assessments have shown "literally zero evidence that anyone is plotting to blow up an airline leaving from a domestic airport." Corbett argues that this shows why the searches are not reasonable under the 4th Amendment. Corbett also points out that about the only thing the machines seem useful at catching are illegal drugs -- but, as he notes, that's "irrelevant to aviation security." Sure, the government may like the fact that it catches illegal drugs with these machines, but the TSA can't argue it needs the machines for "terrorism" when it knows that's not true, and then tries to keep them just because it finds some narcotics...

While it still seems unlikely that Corbett's lawsuit will actually succeed, he's right that these revelations mean that, at the very least, Congress should be investigating why the TSA insisted that it needed these machines to find terrorists that it now admits aren't actually plotting to attack airplanes.

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Thomas Sheridan's Official Blog: Russell Brand isn't Waking People Up - He is Putting You Back to Sleep

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:42

It's always amazing to me how so many people who consider themselves to be 'awake' - still consider their beliefs being stated on the mainstream by a celebrity as being a higher accolade/validation, than any other outlet/research, or even their own convictions.Russell Brand is a pseudo-intellectual, overpaid, middle-class, media luvvie who is put out there by the BBC and the Guardian to make you forget all about Jimmy Savile and to quell your anger in a delusional state that he is 'waking others up'. Russell Brand is put on the TV screens to placate the ones already 'awake', and to put you back to sleep in the belief that this is some kind of victory. It's isn't - it is showbiz being used as a social engineering tool yet again.You do not need the BBC or Russell Brand to validate your convictions if you genuinely feel that strongly about them. The truth is already self-evident. No mainstream media, political or celebrity validation required. The Jimmy Savile horror show is the ultimate weapon we have in our arsenal which we can wake people up with. The BBC knows this, and so do their owners and personal friends of Jimmy Savile, the Royal Family. So they throw you a 'truth bone' in the form of celebrity Platitude Prosac Performance in the guise of Russell Brand talking about 'revolution' when in reality it's about distraction. Do not be bought off with this rubbish. Keep the Jimmy Savile anger raging - it is the key to bringing the whole pyramid down.Russell Brand's image is also very 'Christ'-like and this is still a very powerful archetype people are wooed by. The Christ image was also utilised by CIA creation Jim Morrison to act as another pied piper for the anti-Vietnam War generation in the mid-late 1960's. This is the same tactic being used again - forget your anger at the system - a celebrity will fight the revolution for you on the telly... Although the segment is being marketed as Paxman versus Brand it should be really titled: THE BBC VERSUS YOU (again...).

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SnowJob

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Thoughts and timeline

CIA vs NSA

Drone reports are sooo 1990 - Dripping leaks into MSM is the new black baby!

Greenwald has All docs

Lives in Brazil

Snowden was duped, and dumped in Moscow

Snowden worked for CIA before NSA

Pierre Omydyar has NSA Booz Allen ties / Snowden honey trap

All 'leaks' are vetted, redacted and approved by WH officials

CIA needs to get NSA to pipe down. Need new leadership

Who is the new guy? He's from Chicago

CIA runs Drones, Drugs, Al Qaeda - Shadow Government

Run By Brennan!

WAs the recen Amnesty drone report an attempt to stop the CIA?

FBI Run by former bank$ter

James Comey

CIA is the topper-The Black Budget: Top secret U.S. intelligence funding - Interactive Graphic - Washington Post

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Archived Version

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:49

Central Intelligence AgencyCollect, analyze, evaluate, disseminate foreign intelligence and conduct covert operations.

Agency fiscal year budgetsince 2004, not inflation-adjusted

+56%

Approximate percentagegrowth from 2004 to 2013

National Security AgencyProtect the government's information systems and intercept foreign signals intelligence information.

+53%

National Reconnaissance OfficeDesign, build, and operate the nation's signals and imagery reconnaissance satellites.

+12%

National Geospatial-Intelligence ProgramGenerate and provide imagery and map-based intelligence, which is used for national security, U.S. military operations, navigation and humanitarian aid efforts.

+108%

General Defense Intelligence ProgramProvide assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities to policymakers and military commanders. Conduct human and technical intelligence collection, document and media management.

+3%

GFE - Google Search

Link to Article

Archived Version

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:19

Urban Dictionary: gfeLike the others said, GFE=Girlfriend experience. In some situations, it also meansthat the prostitute/escort is willing to perform some services without condoms, ...Girlfriend experience - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe girlfriend experience (commonly known as GFE) is a type of service a femalesex worker offers which includes acting like a girlfriend to the client. GFE may ...[PDF] Good Faith Estimate (GFE) - HUDwww.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ramh/res/gfestimate.pdf- Cached - SimilarThis GFE gives you an estimate of your settlement charges and loan terms if youare approved for ... Compare this GFE with other loan offers, so you can find.What is a Good Faith Estimate? What is a GFE? - Consumer ...www.consumerfinance.gov/.../what-is-a-good-faith-estimate-what-is-a-gfe. html- Cached - Similar11 Jul 2013 ... A Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is a form that provides you with basic informationabout the terms of a mortgage loan for which you have applied ...Sheffields Premier Parlour - GFE Massage - GirlFriend ExperienceGFE Massage the premier location in Yorkshire,. boasting over 28 ladies over 7days, on a weekly basis, ladies travel from all over the UK just to be part of this ...gfe-gluten free easilyAfter my gluten-free blogger friends had visited for ''my gfe retreat'' this summer, Ifound a bag of veggies in the freezer. It contained pieces of zucchini, yellow ...What does GFE mean? - GFE Definition - Meaning of GFE...www.internetslang.com/GFE-meaning-definition.asp- Cached - SimilarThis Internet Slang page is designed to explain what the meaning of GFE is. Theslang word / acronym / abbreviation GFE means... . Internet Slang. A list of ...Hooker math: BJ + DFK - $$$ = GFE - Gawker12 Feb 2008 ... In response to my post on scoring a Stanford girl, a sweet and innocent readerasks, "What does GFE mean in the listings?" GFE is "girlfriend ...GNU Font Editor - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)gfe has been decommissioned, since the free software program FontForge hasmore advanced bitmap editing facilities. This page remains for the sake of history ...

How the NSA's MUSCULAR program collects too much data from Yahoo and Google - The Washington Post

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Archived Version

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:06

This document is an excerpt from Special Source Operations Weekly, an internal National Security Agency publication dated March 14, 2013. It describes a common NSA problem of collecting too much information '' and how the agency is attempting to control it.

>> NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers

Click to see the related section of the document.

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]]> GRAPHIC: Barton Gellman and Matt DeLong - The Washington Post. Published Oct. 30, 2013.

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'We're Really Screwed Now': NSA's Best Friend Just Shivved The Spies-Feinstein

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 00:21

One of the National Security Agency's biggest defenders inCongress is suddenly at odds with the agency and calling for a top-to-bottomreview of U.S. spy programs. And her long-time friends and allies arecompletely mystified by the switch.

"We're really screwed now," one NSA official told The Cable. "You know things are bad whenthe few friends you've got disappear without a trace in the dead of night andleave no forwarding address."

In a pointed statement issued today, Senate IntelligenceCommittee chairman Dianne Feinstein said she was "totally opposed" to gatheringintelligence on foreign leaders and said it was "a big problem" if PresidentObama didn't know the NSA was monitoring the phone calls of German ChancellorAngela Merkel. She said the United States should only be spying on foreignleaders with hostile countries, or in an emergency, and even then the presidentshould personally approve the surveillance.

It was not clear what precipitated Feinstein's condemnation ofthe NSA. It marks a significant reversal for a lawmaker who not only defendedagency surveillance programs -- but is about to introduce a bill expected toprotect some of its most controversial activities.

Perhaps most significant is her announcement that theintelligence committee "will initiate a review into all intelligence collectionprograms." Feinstein did not say the review would be limited only to the NSA.If the review also touched on other intelligence agencies under the committee'sjurisdiction, it could be one of the most far-reaching reviews in recentmemory, encompassing secret programs of the CIA, the Defense IntelligenceAgency, agencies that run imagery and spy satellites, as well as components ofthe FBI.

A former intelligence agency liaison to Congress said Feinstein'ssudden outrage over spying on foreign leaders raised questions about how wellinformed she was about NSA programs and whether she'd been fully briefed by herstaff. "The first question I'd ask is, what have you been doing for oversight?Second, if you've been reviewing this all along what has changed your mind?"

The former official said the intelligence committees receivelengthy and detailed descriptions every year about all NSA programs, including surveillance. "They're not small books. They're about the size of those oldfamily photo albums that were several inches thick. They're hundreds of pageslong."

A senior congressional aide said, "It's an absolute joke tothink she hasn't been reading the signals intelligence intercepts as Chairmanof Senate Intelligence for years."

The former official added that the "bottom line question iswhere was the Senate Intelligence Committee when it came to their oversight ofthese programs? And what were they being told by the NSA, because if theydidn't know about this surveillance, that would imply they were being lied to."

A spokesperson for Feinstein did not respond to a request formore details in time for publication. And a spokesperson for Sen. SaxbyChambliss, the intelligence committee's vice chairman, said the senator had nocomment at this time.

In a tacit acknowledgement of how supportive Feinstein has beenof the administration's surveillance practices, the White House issued alengthy statement about her Monday statement.

"We consult regularly with Chairman Feinstein as a part ofour ongoing engagement with the Congress on national security matters," saidNational Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden. "We appreciate hercontinued leadership on these issues as Chairman of the Senate IntelligenceCommittee. I'm not going to go intothe details of those private discussions, nor am I going to comment onassertions made in the Senator's statement today about U.S. foreignintelligence activities." The statement went on to note the administration's currentreview of surveillance practices worldwide.

The surprise change of tone comes during a crucial week onCapitol Hill as lawmakers on opposing sides of the surveillance debate look tointroduce rival bills related to the NSA.

Striking first blood, opponents of expansive NSA surveillanceare expected to introduce the "USA Freedom Act" on Tuesday, which would limitthe bulk data collection of records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act,install an "office of the special advocate" to appeal FISA court decisions, andgive subpoena powers on privacy matters to the Privacy and Civil LIbertiesOversight Board. Sponsored by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers(D-MI), the bill is backed by a strong bipartisan bench of some 60lawmakers, including Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), and JustinAmash (R-MI) and Sheila Jackson (D-TX).

A draft of the bill was provided to The Cable by a congressional aide and can be viewed in full here.

Unlike many House bills, Freedom Act has some bipartisan supportin the Senate in the form of Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, who will beintroducing a similar bill at the same time.

On the opposing side is Feinstein, who is looking to codify theNSA's controversial phone records program in her bill set for markup this week.According to published reports, the bill would give theagency the authority to vacuum metadata of all U.S. phone calls but not theircontent, meaning duration, numbers, and time of phone calls are fair game. Aspokesperson for Feinstein said that the senator plans to move forward with thebill even in light of today's rhetorical about-face.

While the Feinstein bill could gain support in the Senate, aCongressional aide familiar with the politics in the House say it's likely deadon arrival in the lower chamber. If it went down, however, pro-surveillancelawmakers would still likely put up a fight.

"The fact is, the NSA has done more to save German lives thanthe German army since World War II," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said on CNN.

Still, others often in favor of government surveillance havecarved out surprising positions. Republican hawk John McCain, for instance, isnow calling for a special select committee toinvestigate U.S. spying. "We have always eavesdropped on people around theworld. But the advance of technology has given us enormous capabilities, and Ithink you might make an argument that some of this capability has been veryoffensive both to us and to our allies," McCain said.

Over at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Mondayrefused to comment on the NSA's surveillance of world leaders, dismissingquestions about what he may or may not have known about intelligencecollection. "We have great respect for our partners, our allies, whocooperate with us and we cooperate with them to try to keep the worldsafe," said Hagel, standing beside New Zealand Minister of DefenseJonathan Coleman during a Pentagon press briefing. "Intelligence is a keypart of that. And I think this issue will continue to be explored, as -- as itis now, but that's all I have to say."

Coleman responded to the same question: "New Zealand's notworried at all about this," he said. "We don't believe it would beoccurring, and look, quite frankly there'd be nothing that anyone could hear inour private conversations that we wouldn't be prep[ared to sharepublicly." Coleman then cited a political cartoon in a newspaper inWellington. It showed an analyst listening to the communiques from New Zealandwith a big stream of "ZZZs" next to it. "I don't think NewZealand's got anything to worry about, and we have high trust in ourrelationships with the U.S."

With additional reporting by Matthew Aid and Gordon Lubold

Feinstein vows 'total review' of NSA - The Hill's DEFCON Hill

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 05:16

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday called for a ''total review'' of all intelligence collection programs as she criticized the National Security Agency for spying on foreign leaders.

''It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community," Feinstein said.

Feinstein has been one of the NSA's staunchest congressional defenders amid the uproar over its phone records surveillance, but she said that the spying on foreign leaders without President Obama's knowledge was a ''big problem.''''Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed,'' Feinstein said in a statement. ''Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased.''

Feinstein said that she planned to initiate a major review into all of the intelligence community's collection methods.

''The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,'' she said. ''But as far as I'm concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing."

Feinstein said she was ''totally opposed'' to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders have expressed outrage over reports that the NSA was spying on Merkel since 2002 and that it spied on 35 world leaders.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Obama was not told of the intelligence gathering on world leaders until this summer.

Feinstein called for the president to be required to approve the kinds of intelligence collection on foreign leaders that was detailed in reports over the past week.

''Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers,'' Feinstein said.

The Senate Intelligence panel has been preparing to mark-up legislation to reform the NSA's data collection practices in the wake of the uproar over its phone metadata collection.

The House Intelligence Committee has the NSA director and other top intelligence officials testifying in a rare open hearing on Tuesday as they also prepare to craft legislation.

Feinstein Statement on Intelligence Collection of Foreign Leaders - Press Releases - News Room - United States Senator Dianne Feinstein

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 02:30

Washington'--Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today issued the following statement on reports the National Security Agency has conducted surveillance on leaders of foreign countries:

''It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community.

''Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed. Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased.

''With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies'--including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany'--let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed.

''Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort.

''It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.

''The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support. But as far as I'm concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs.''

Former deputy director of CIA blasts Snowden, says disclosures have put Americans at greater risk | Mail Online

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 19:05

Former deputy director Michael Morell recently retired from the CIAHe blasted Edward Snowden for the majority of an interview aired Sunday night opn 60 MinutesCalling him a traitor, Mr Morell said the Snowden leaks have put Americans in greater dangerBy Ryan Gorman

PUBLISHED: 20:28 EST, 27 October 2013 | UPDATED: 20:28 EST, 27 October 2013

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The former deputy director of the CIA blasted Edward Snowden during an interview aired Sunday night '' calling him a traitor and saying his actions have put Americans at greater risk.

Michael Morell, formely the number two spy at the agency, called Mr Snowden's actions the most serious leak of intelligence in US history '' actions that have done far greater harm than good.

His comments echo similar remarks made earlier this month by the head of British intelligence agency MI5.

He's a traitor: Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell blasted Edward Snowden in a 60 Minutes interview aired Sunday night

'I do not believe he is a whistle blower,' Mr Morell told 60 Minutes. 'I do not believe he is a hero, I believe he has betrayed his country.'

Sharing an opinion held by many U.S. officials, the ex-spook claimed the man revered by many is a reckless traitor who has crippled the States' intelligence gathering.

'I think this is the most serious leak '' the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the US intelligence community,' Mr Morell continued.

Saying both the amount and type of information revealed by the spy secret leaker is equally damning, Mr Morell bemoaned the disclosure of the CIA budget.

The 'black book,' as it is referred to, details the agency's spending across all activites.

He did more harm than good: Mr Morell contends the Guardian's Snowden series put Americans' lives in danger

'[Enemies] could focus their counterintelligence efforts on those places where we're being successful, and not worry as much about those places where we're not being as successful,' Mr Morell lamented.

When 60 Minutes correspondent John Miller suggested it was like giving a playbook to the other team, the former Presidential intelligence briefer nodded in agreement.

If that sentiment sounds familiar, that's because it is. MI5 chief Andrew Parker earlier this month called the Guardian's series of collaborations with Mr Snowden a 'gift' to terrorists.

'It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists,' Mr Parker said in an Oct 9 speech.

'Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm,' he continued.

Mr Parker claimed in the speech, given at a London think-tank, that there are several thousand U.K.-based terrorist operatives who have benefitted from the Snowden expos(C)s.

Fury: The spy chief: MI5 director-general Andrew Parker has blasted the Guardian's publication of Britain's espionage capabilities

Even worse, Mr Morell claims, is the possibility that Mr Snowden's files were compromised as he trotted across the globe from Washington to Hawaii, then Hong Kong to Moscow.

'We have to assume that any material Mr Snowden had with him when he was in HK, and now in Russia, has been compromised '' I think we have to assume that,' said the former second-in-command.

Currently squirreled away in Russia after being granted temporary political asylum, Mr Snowden has rarely been seen in public except to receive an award for 'Integrity in Intelligence.'

That award couldn't be more juxtaposed with the way Mr Snowden's government views him.

'What Edward Snowden did has put Americans at greater risk because terrorists learn from leaks, they will be more careful,' said Mr Morell. 'We will not get the intelligence we would have gotten otherwise.'

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Once Opposed, Key Lawmakers Back New Anti-NSA Bill - NationalJournal.com

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 00:35

The primary sponsor of the Patriot Act will introduce a bill next week aimed at reining in the National Security Administration's domestic-surveillance programs, backed by about 60 cosponsors, including at least a half dozen who voted against a similar, narrowly defeated measure brought to the House floor this summer.

A date has not been finalized, but the Freedom Act, written by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., could drop as early as Tuesday. It follows an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that failed by a razor-thin 205-217 margin in July.

"Six members who voted no and two who didn't vote on the Amash amendment are original cosponsors of the USA Freedom Act," Sensenbrenner spokesman Ben Miller told National Journal. "Had they voted for the amendment, it would have passed 213 to 211."

Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., are among those lawmakers who voted no on the Amash amendment and are now cosponsoring Sensenbrenner's legislation.

"Rather than defunding, Congressman Terry has always believed that changes to the Patriot Act are the appropriate way to rein in the NSA," said spokesman Larry Farnsworth of Terry's switch.

Sensenbrenner, who authored the Patriot Act, has become a vocal opponent of the NSA's sweeping surveillance apparatus since Edward Snowden, a former analyst at the agency, began leaking information about its programs earlier this year. Sensenbrenner has said that both the Obama and Bush administrations have misinterpreted a key part of the Patriot Act, Section 215, and used it as legal backing for its data collection.

"The NSA has gone far beyond the intent of the Patriot Act, particularly in the accumulation and storage of metadata," Sensenbrenner toldNational Journal earlier this month. "Had Congress known that the Patriot Act had been used to collect metadata, the bill would have never been passed."

An earlier draft of Sensenbrenner's bill that circulated publicly would make the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court more transparent by requiring it disclose some of its decisions and install an "office of the special advocate," which would be able to appeal the court's decisions. It would also limit Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena powers on matters of privacy and national security, and reduce the bulk data collection outline in Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Since Amash's attempt to restrict the NSA's collection of phone records was defeated, the cascade of revelations about the scope of the NSA's spying'--both domestic and overseas'--has continued since then. Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel charged the U.S. with monitoring her cell phone, forcing President Obama to play damage control with yet another foreign head of state.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is also expected to vote Tuesday behind closed doors on legislation brought by committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., to appease surveillance critics by increasing transparency and accountability of FISA. Many activists charge that Feinstein's efforts do not go far enough and largely keep the NSA surveillance apparatus in tact.

The USA FREEDOM Act - Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 00:35

Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act

Purpose: To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC. End bulk collection of Americans' communications records

' The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. ' The bill would strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans'--that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. ' The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

' The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court's closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court. ' The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.' The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.Increase Transparency

' The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law. ' Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.' The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.National Security Letters

' The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn't use different authorities to support bulk collection. It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government's authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.Op-Eds by Congressman Sensenbrenner:6/9/13 The Guardian: This Abuse of the Patriot Act Must End7/23/13 Politico: How Secrecy Erodes Democracy 8/19/13 The Los Angeles Times: How Obama Has Abused the Patriot Act

Related Articles:6/6/13 The Hill: Patriot Act author 'extremely troubled' by NSA phone tracking6/6/13 Fox News: Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone collection 'never the intent' of law6/6/13 Politico: NSA violated law6/27/13 The New York Times: The Criminal N.S.A.7/10/13 The Washington Post: Lawmakers say administration's lack of candor on surveillance weakens oversight7/17/13 The New York Times: Bipartisan Backlash Grows Against Domestic Surveillance7/18/13 The Guardian: White House stays silent on renewal of NSA data collection order7/28/13 The New York Times: Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance10/10/13 The Guardian: The USA FREEDOM Act: a look at the key points of the draft bill10/10/13 The Guardian: Patriot Act author prepares bill to put NSA bulk collection 'out of business'10/11/13 The Washington Post: Patriot Act author: 'There has been a failure of oversight'

Endorsements:NRAACLUThoughtWorksMozillaOpenTheGovernment.orgPEN American Center Association of American Publishers Brennan CenterConstitution Project The Rutherford InstituteAmerican Library Association Project On Government Oversight Bob Barr, former Member of Congress (R-Ga.); CEO, Liberty Strategies, LLC; 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, the American Conservative Union; Chairman, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.); Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William and Mary; Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell , 2002-2005 Arab American InstituteAmerican Association of Law LibrariesCenter for National Security StudiesCenter for Democracy and Technology

Center for Media and Democracy Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeAmerican Booksellers AssociationFree Press Action Fund

102513USAFREEDOM.pdf

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Sec.601.Third-party reporting on FISA orders and national security letters.Sec.602.Government reporting on FISA orders.Sec.603.Government reporting on national security letters.TITLE VII'--PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OVERSIGHT BOARDSUBPOENA AUTHORITY Sec.701.Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority.

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Report: NSA broke into Yahoo, Google data centers

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:23

WASHINGTON (AP) '-- The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, the Washington Post reported, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

According to a secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade, Md., headquarters. In the last 30 days, field collectors had processed and sent back more than 180 million new records '-- ranging from "metadata," which would indicate who sent or received emails and when, to content such as text, audio and video, the Post reported Wednesday on its website.

The new details about the NSA's access to Yahoo and Google data centers around the world come at a time when Congress is reconsidering the government's collection practices and authority, and as European governments are responding angrily to revelations that the NSA collected data on millions of communications in their countries. Details about the government's programs have been trickling out since Snowden shared documents with the Post and Guardian newspaper in June.

The NSA's principal tool to exploit the Google and Yahoo data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency's British counterpart, GCHQ. The Post said NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to comment, the Post said.

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman told the Post: "We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency."

In a statement to the Post, Google said it was "troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity." Getting free access to Google's data center traffic means the NSA has bypassed Google's "gold standard" security, the Post said.

The MUSCULAR project documents state that this collection from Yahoo and Google has led to key intelligence leads, the paper said.

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say - The Washington Post

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:35

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA's acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records '-- ranging from ''metadata,'' which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA's principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency's British counterpart, GCHQ. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain why the agency infiltrates Google and Yahoo networks overseas.

In a statement, Google said it was ''troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.''

''We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,'' the company said.

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman said: ''We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.''

Under PRISM, the NSA already gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling U.S. technology companies, including Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data matching court-approved search terms. That program, which was first disclosed by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper, is authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to ''full take,'' ''bulk access'' and ''high volume'' operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.

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Kremlin slips spying gadgets into G20 summit gift bags, newspapers say - latimes.com

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 01:52

Russian hosts of the Group of 20 summit near St. Petersburg in September sent world leaders home with gifts designed to keep on giving: memory sticks and recharging cables programmed to spy on their communications, two Italian newspapers reported Tuesday.

A Kremlin spokesman denied the allegations reported by Il Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, both of which attributed their stories to findings of technical investigations ordered by the president of the European Council and carried out by German intelligence.

The USB thumb drives marked with the Russia G20 logo and the three-pronged European phone chargers were "a poisoned gift" from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turin-based La Stampa [link in Italian] said in its report.

''They were Trojan horses designed to obtain information from computers and cellphones,'' the paper said.

The bugging devices were included in gift bags given to all delegates who attended the Sept. 5-6 summit at the palace in Stelna, outside of St. Petersburg, the newspapers said.

Suspicions about the drives and rechargers were first raised by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, Il Corriere della Sera [link in Italian] said in its front-page story.

Van Rompuy. from Belgium, ordered technical analysis of the devices by intelligence experts in Brussels and Bonn, the newspapers said. Initial investigation found "the USB sticks and the recharge cables are suitable for undercover detection of computer data and mobile phones," the Italian newspapers said Van Rompuy reported to G20 members in a confidential memo.

Further tests are underway on the devices, and any official response to the Russian government's alleged espionage attempts would depend on those findings, the articles said, quoting an unnamed European Union official.In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov denied the allegations of attempted spying and accused Western governments of trying to divert attention away from the scandals caused by disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency has been spying on its allies' communications.

"It is definitely nothing other than an attempt to switch attention from the problems that really exist, which dominate the agenda between the European capitals and Washington, to problems that are ephemeral and nonexistent," Peskov said, according to the Voice of Russia broadcast.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have been cool since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in August after leaking details of widespread U.S. surveillance of foreign and domestic phone calls, texts and emails.

British media carried extensive excerpts of the Italian newspapers' reports and official British reaction. The Telegraph coverage included an unnamed diplomat's disparaging remarks characterizing the reported Russian bugging attempt as a "schoolboy error" sure to be detected by any of the attending nations' security services.

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Obama May Ban Spying on Heads of Allied States - NYTimes.com

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 02:26

WASHINGTON '-- President Obama is poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies, administration and congressional officials said Monday, responding to a deepening diplomatic crisis over reports that the agency had for years targeted the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The White House informed a leading Democratic lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, of its plans, which grew out of a broader internal review of intelligence-gathering methods, prompted by the leak of N.S.A. documents by a former contractor, Edward J. Snowden.

In a statement on Monday, Ms. Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, ''I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.'' Ms. Feinstein, who has been a stalwart defender of the administration's surveillance policies, said her committee would begin a ''major review of all intelligence collection programs.''

In Germany, where the indignation over the reports that the chancellor's phone had been targeted is still mounting, officials were wary of the reports from Washington.

There was no immediate reaction from Ms. Merkel. But Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, the chancellor's top security official, who met with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and others in July to discuss allegations that the United States bugged the diplomatic missions of Germany and other European allies, indicated on Tuesday that Berlin had registered the shift in tone from Washington.

''The Americans know by now that this affair is very damaging to their own interests, which is evident in the reaction of the president, as well as the Senate,'' Mr. Friedrich said in an interview with Germany's n-tv news channel.

Peter Schaar, the German federal data protection commissioner, said Ms. Feinstein's comments served as the first indication that the authorities in Washington had grasped the gravity of European outrage over the wiretapping affair, and the wider implications the erosion of allies' trust in the United States could have, including for the economy.

''If we want to return to a relationship based on trust, it will require serious effort,'' said Mr. Schaar, who has long been critical of American data privacy policies. ''Officially the Americans said that they respected German law. Now we know that was not the case.''

He pointed out that foreign companies are already wary of storing their data in clouds that are based in the United States, out of concerns over how their digital information will be handled, depriving the United States economy of millions of dollars. He said he would ''welcome'' recognition of the dangers of ignoring Europe's anger and instead agree to more stringent data security regulations, which he suggested could ''form the basis for an expanded common market in the form of a free-trade zone.''

He called a 2002 data security agreement between the United States and the European Union, called ''Safe Harbor'' a ''fiction,'' given how much technology and the flow of information has changed in the past decade and how many new regulations have been drawn up by Washington since the treaty was signed.

''Consequently, I do not think it is right that we continue to facilitate the transfer of data into the U.S.A.,'' Mr. Schaar said. The agreements, he said, ''must be renegotiated, and must include reasonable protections against eavesdropping by state and secret services.''

The German Parliament is to meet in special session on Nov. 18, with the opposition calling for the former N.S.A. contractor, Edward J. Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, to appear before an official inquiry.

The chancellor may address the Nov. 18 session with a speech on German-American relations.

The White House said Monday evening that no final decision had been made on the monitoring of friendly foreign leaders. But the disclosure that it is moving to prohibit it signals a landmark shift for the National Security Agency, which has had nearly unfettered powers to collect data on tens of millions of people around the world, from ordinary citizens to heads of state, including the leaders of Brazil and Mexico.

It is also likely to prompt a fierce debate on what constitutes an American ally. Prohibiting eavesdropping on Ms. Merkel's phone is an easier judgment than, for example, collecting intelligence on the military-backed leaders in Egypt.

''We have already made some decisions through this process and expect to make more,'' said a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Caitlin M. Hayden, adding that the review would be completed in December.

Disclosure of the White House's proposed action came after the release on Monday afternoon of Ms. Feinstein's statement, in which she asserted that the White House had told her it would cease all intelligence collection in friendly countries. That statement, senior administration officials said, was ''not accurate,'' but they acknowledged that they had already made unspecified changes in surveillance policy and planned further changes, particularly in the monitoring of government leaders.

The administration will reserve the right to continue collecting intelligence in friendly countries that pertains to criminal activity, potential terrorist threats and the proliferation of unconventional weapons, according to several officials. It also appeared to be leaving itself room in the case of a foreign leader of an ally who turned hostile or whose actions posed a threat to the United States.

The crossed wires between the White House and Ms. Feinstein were an indication of how the furor over the N.S.A.'s methods is testing even the administration's staunchest defenders.

Aides said the senator's six-paragraph statement reflected exasperation at the agency for failing to keep the Intelligence Committee fully apprised of such politically delicate operations as eavesdropping on the conversations of friendly foreign leaders.

''She believes the committee was not adequately briefed on the details of these programs, and she's frustrated,'' said a committee staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ''In her mind, there were salient omissions.''

The review that Ms. Feinstein announced would be ''a major undertaking,'' the staff member said.

The White House has faced growing outrage in Germany and among other European allies over its surveillance policies. Senior officials from Ms. Merkel's office and the heads of Germany's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies plan to travel to Washington in the coming days to register their anger.

They are expected to ask for a no-spying agreement similar to what the United States has with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which are known as the Five Eyes.

The United States has historically resisted such agreements, even with friendly governments, though it explored a similar arrangement with France early in the Obama administration. But officials said they would give the Germans, in particular, a careful hearing.

''We have intel relationships that are already very close,'' said a senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the subject. ''There are other types of agreements you could have: cooperation, limits on intelligence, greater transparency. The countries on the top of the list for those are close European allies.''

The National Security Agency has said it did not inform Mr. Obama of its reported monitoring of Ms. Merkel, which appears to have started in 2002 and was not suspended until sometime last summer after the theft of the N.S.A. data by Mr. Snowden was discovered.

''At that point it was clear that lists of targeted foreign officials may well become public,'' said one official, ''so many of the interceptions were suspended.''

The N.S.A.'s documentation on Ms. Merkel's case authorized the agency's operatives in Germany not only to collect data about the numbers she was calling, but also to listen in on her conversations, according to current and former administration officials.

It was unclear whether excerpts from Ms. Merkel's conversations appeared in intelligence reports that were circulated in Washington or shared with the White House. Officials said they had never seen information attributed to an intercept of Ms. Merkel's conversations. But they said it was likely that some conversations had been recorded simply because the N.S.A. had focused on her for so long.

In both public comments and private interchanges with German officials, the Obama administration has refused to confirm that Ms. Merkel's phone was targeted, though it has said that it is not the subject of N.S.A. action now, and will not be in the future.

The refusal to talk about the past has further angered German officials, who have said the surveillance has broken trust between two close allies. The Germans were particularly angry that the operation appears to have been run from inside the American Embassy or somewhere near it, in the heart of Berlin, steps from the Brandenburg Gate.

None of the officials and former officials who were interviewed would speak directly about the decision to target Ms. Merkel, saying that information was classified. But they said the legal distinction between tapping a conversation and simply collecting telephone ''metadata'' '-- essentially the kind of information about a telephone call that would be found on a telephone bill '-- existed only for domestic telephone calls, or calls involving United States citizens.

To record the conversation of a ''U.S. Person,'' the intelligence agencies would need a warrant. But no such distinction applies to intercepting the calls of foreigners on foreign soil '-- though those intercepts may be a violation of local law.

That means that the intercepts of other world leaders could have also involved both information about the calls and the conversations themselves.

Dennis C. Blair, Mr. Obama's first director of national intelligence, declined to speak specifically about the Merkel case. But he noted that ''in our intelligence relationship with countries like France and Germany, 90 to 95 percent of our activity is cooperative and sharing, and a small proportion is about gaining intelligence we can't obtain in other ways.''

He said he had little patience for the complaints of foreign leaders. ''If any foreign leader is talking on a cellphone or communicating on unclassified email, what the U.S. might learn is the least of their problems.''

In addition to the Germans, European Union officials and members of the European Parliament are descending on Washington to deliver a tough message: The N.S.A.'s surveillance is unacceptable and has eroded trust between the United States and Europe.

''The key message is there is a problem,'' said Silvia Kofler, a spokeswoman for the European Union. ''We need to re-establish the trust between partners. You don't spy on partners.''

One potential threat, Ms. Kofler said, was to the negotiation of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, one of Mr. Obama's major trade initiatives. European Union officials, she said, were anxious to keep those talks on track but would require unspecified ''confidence-building measures'' to restore trust between the two sides.

An administration official said the White House would take these visits seriously, having senior officials from several government agencies and the White House meet with the Germans, though no meetings have yet been scheduled.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Melissa Eddy and Alison Smale from Berlin.

N.S.A. Head Says European Data Was Collected by Allies - NYTimes.com

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 01:59

WASHINGTON '-- The head of the National Security Agency on Tuesday vigorously challenged recent reports that the United States had been gathering the phone records of millions of Europeans, saying that the records had in fact been turned over by allied spy services.

''This is not information we collected on European citizens,'' said the agency's director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander. ''It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.''

General Alexander said that phone data was generally collected outside Europe.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Tuesday that intelligence services in France and Spain had collected phone records of their citizens and turned them over to the N.S.A. as part of an arrangement to mitigate threats against American and allied troops and civilians.

Video | James Clapper's Testimony in 2 Minutes Top intelligence officials defended their operations before a House committee on Tuesday as they faced growing criticism and calls for a congressional review of the nation's surveillance efforts.

But General Alexander and James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, broadly defended the N.S.A.'s practice of spying on foreign leaders. Such espionage, they said, was a basic pillar of American intelligence operations that had gone on for decades.

Both men said the intelligence was invaluable because it provided American leaders with an idea of how other countries planned to act toward the United States.

Such spying was essential, the officials said, because other countries, including allies, spy on the United States. ''It is one of the first things I learned in intelligence school in 1963,'' Mr. Clapper said. ''It's a fundamental given.''

The two officials defended their operations before the House Intelligence Committee at a time the N.S.A. has come under growing criticsm and calls for a congressional review of the nation's surveillance efforts. They said members of the intelligence community were also American citizens who were determined to protect American privacy while identifying national security threats.

''To be sure, on occasion we have made mistakes,'' Mr. Clapper said, adding that the intelligence agencies would work with Congress to address any concerns.

But the committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said he was disturbed by the criticisms of the intelligence services, adding that many recent reports '-- including the ones in Europe about N.S.A. collection there '-- were inaccurate.

''This is the time for leadership, it is not a time to apologize,'' Mr. Rogers said.

The intelligence committee hearing took place as key Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed misgivings in the wake of a report that the N.S.A. had targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for surveillance for several years.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the fiercest defenders of American surveillance operations, said Monday that she did ''not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.''

Ms. Feinstein said her committee would be conducting a ''major review'' of the intelligence programs.

According to administration and Congressional officials, the White House has told Ms. Feinstein that President Obama is poised to order the N.S.A. to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies. On Tuesday, another supporter of the N.S.A., Speaker John A. Boehner, raised questions about its programs.

''I don't think there's any question that there needs to be review, there ought to be review, and it ought to be thorough,'' Mr. Boehner said. ''We've got obligations to the American people to keep them safe. We've got obligations to our allies around the world.''

''But having said that, we've got to find the right balance here,'' he added. ''And clearly, there's '-- we're imbalanced as we stand here.''

Shortly before the hearing began, protesters holding pink signs chastised Mr. Clapper and General Alexander, demanding they apologize to Ms. Merkel.

''It's counterproductive to spy on our own allies, let alone our own citizens,'' one of the protesters said. Mr. Rogers had one of the protesters removed a few minutes later.

Correction: October 29, 2013

An earlier version of the photo caption with this article misstated the title of Chris Inglis. He is the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, not a deputy United States Attorney General.

Italian magazine says U.S. spies listened to pope, Vatican says unaware | Reuters

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 22:32

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi talks to reporters during a news conference at the Vatican February 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/ Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY | Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:13pm EDT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - An Italian magazine said on Wednesday that a United States spy agency had eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls, possibly including when former Pope Benedict's successor was under discussion, but the Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.

Panorama magazine said that among 46 million phone calls followed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in Italy from December 10, 2012, to January 8, 2013, were conversations in and out of the Vatican.

In a press release before full publication on Thursday, Panorama said the "NSA had tapped the pope". It cited no source for its information.

Asked to comment on the report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it."

Media reports based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia, have said the NSA had spied on French citizens over the same period in December in January.

Last week, the German government appeared to confirm that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone had also been monitored by American spies. The issue has also caused Washington problems with Brazil and China.

Panorama said the recorded Vatican phone calls were catalogued by the NSA in four categories - leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.

Benedict resigned on February 28 this year and his successor, Pope Francis, was elected on March 13.

"It is feared" that calls were listened to up until the start of the conclave that elected Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Panorama said.

The magazine said there was also a suspicion that the Rome residence where some cardinals lived before the conclave, including the future pope, was monitored.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Philip Pullella and Angus MacSwan)

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U.S. tells U.N. it won't spy on world body

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 20:55

click here to continue to articlecliquez ici pour lire l'articleweiter zum Artikelclicca qui per visualizzare l'articoloweiter zum Artikelir a la noticiaklik hier om door te gaan naar het artikelYazıya devam etmek i§in tıklayın>>ПеÑейти к статье>>ç>>§ç>>­é…è¯>>æ–‡ç ¼Œè¯·ç‚¹å‡>>è里Tovbb a cikkre

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Holder pressed on U.S. drug agency use of hidden data evidence | Reuters

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Tue, 27 Aug 2013 03:07

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on stage during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco, California August 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam

By John Shiffman

WASHINGTON | Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:55pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.

The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism.

Five Democrats in the Senate and three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee submitted questions to Holder about the NSA-DEA relationship, joining two prominent Republicans who have expressed concerns. The matter will be discussed during classified briefings scheduled for September, Republican and Democratic aides said.

"These allegations raise serious concerns that gaps in the policy and law are allowing overreach by the federal government's intelligence gathering apparatus," wrote the senators - Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Holder, an appointee of U.S. President Barack Obama, is the country's top lawman as head of the Justice Department. The Justice Department is reviewing the congressional inquiry, a spokesman for Holder said on Monday.

The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA's Special Operations Division funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The documents show that agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin - to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.

'PARALLEL CONSTRUCTION'

The internal documents describe the process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as "parallel construction." For example, agents said in interviews, they act as if a drug investigation began with a traffic stop for speeding or a broken taillight, instead of a tip passed from the NSA. An IRS document describes a similar process for tax agency investigators.

Justice Department officials have said they are reviewing the matter. DEA officials have said the practice is legal and has been in near-daily use since the 1990s. The purpose is to protect sources and methods, not to withhold evidence, they said.

The three congressmen - John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Jerrold Nadler of New York and Bobby Scott of Virginia - wrote to Holder on August 9, shortly after the original Reuters report.

"If this report is accurate, then it describes an unacceptable breakdown in the barrier between foreign intelligence surveillance and criminal process," the congressmen wrote.

On the CBS program Face the Nation on August 18, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, a Republican, said the use of NSA intelligence to make non-terrorism cases should be scrutinized. "I think we need to have a very careful examination of this. I think that the trust of the American people in their government is what's at stake here," he said.

(Editing by Howard Goller and Mohammad Zargham)

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Revealed: NSA pushed 9/11 as key 'sound bite' to justify surveillance | Al Jazeera America

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 23:01

October 30, 201312:09PM ET

Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency chief, testifies earlier this year.Mark Wilson/Getty

The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for its mass surveillance activities, according to a master list of NSA talking points.

The document, obtained by Al Jazeera through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains talking points and suggested statements for NSA officials (PDF) responding to the fallout from media revelations that originated with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Invoking the events of 9/11 to justify the controversial NSA programs, which have caused major diplomatic fallout around the world, was the top item on the talking points that agency officials were encouraged to use.

Under the subheading ''Sound Bites That Resonate,'' the document suggests the statement ''I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.''

NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander used a slightly different version of that statement when he testified before Congress on June 18 in defense of the agency's surveillance programs.

Asked to comment on the document, NSA media representative Vanee M. Vines pointed Al Jazeera to Alexander's congressional testimony on Tuesday, and said the agency had no further comment. In keeping with the themes listed in the talking points, the NSA head told legislators that ''it is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked.''

Critics have long noted the tendency of senior U.S. politicians and security officials to use the fear of attacks like the one that killed almost 3,000 Americans to justify policies ranging from increased defense spending to the invasion of Iraq.

Al Jazeera obtained the 27 pages of talking points from the NSA this week in response to a FOIA request filed June 13. The statements had been prepared for agency officials facing questions from Congress or the media over the revelations contained in classified documents that Snowden leaked to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Barton Gellman and others.

A letter accompanying the documents notes that the talking points ''are prepared and approved for a speaker to use and do not necessarily represent what the speaker actually said at the event.''

The NSA has not yet turned over to Al Jazeera the documents the agency used to prepare the talking points, saying those materials require additional review before they can be released.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also appear at the top of another talking-points document titled ''Media Leaks One Card,'' which contains 13 bullet points to explain the rationale behind the surveillance programs. Those points include ''First responsibility is to defend the nation'' and ''NSA and its partners must make sure we connect the dots so that the nation is never attacked again like it was on 9/11.''

The master talking points list goes on to explain, under a subheading titled ''We Needed to Connect the Dots,'' that ''post-9/11 we made several changes and added a number of capabilities to enable us to connect the dots.''

Continuing revelations from the Snowden documents reveal surveillance on a scale that appears to go far beyond the scope of monitoring potential attackers, however. The agency's ''head of state collection'' program, for example, reportedly included the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

The talking points document advises officials to emphasize the word ''lawful'' when discussing NSA surveillance programs, and to state that ''our allies have benefited '... just as we have.''

''We believe that over 100 nations are capable of collecting signals intelligence or operating a lawful intercept capability that enable them to monitor communications,'' the document continued.

Critics have called into question the veracity of the claim that NSA surveillance has thwarted more than 50 ''potential'' attacks. They claim evidence to support such assertions is lacking.

NSA officials are advised to respond to questions about any potential civil liberties violations by citing talking points that say there have not been any ''willful violations'' and that the NSA is committed to ''upholding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.''

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EDWARD SNOWDEN CONNED OUT OF SECRET FILES

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Source: aangirfan

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 14:28

Reportedly, the Guardian is run by MI6."Whistleblower Edward Snowden was taken for a ride by con artists in the service of the US and UK intelligence agencies. "Under the cover of 'independent journalism', the scammers conned him out of his trove of secret NSA files, hustled him from Hong Kong ahead of legislature-sponsored public hearings on cyber-espionage, and unceremoniously dumped him, minus documents, in a transit lounge at Moscow Airport . "This report shows how the American and British spymasters retrieved the top-secret files by luring the fugitive into a well-laid trap, while the mass media went along with the deception to aid the authorities in evading public calls to abolish the global surveillance state..."

Russia job for whistleblower Snowden

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Source: BBC News - Home

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 14:34

31 October 2013Last updated at10:14 ETNSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has found a new job, his lawyer says.

The former US spy agency contractor will work for a major private website in Russia, where he was granted asylum after fleeing the United States.

"Edward starts work in November," his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Mr Snowden, 30, fled to Russia in June after leaking details of far-reaching US telephone espionage.

Mr Kucherena would not disclose which site has employed Mr Snowden, citing security concerns.

However, Mr Snowden had a very public job offer earlier this year from the head of VKontakte, a popular social networking site seen as a rival to Facebook.

Pavel Durov, who founded VKontakte in 2006, invited Mr Snowden through a post on his own webpage to join the company's St Petersburg headquarters to work on data protection.

Unknown locationLittle has been heard of Mr Snowden's private life in Russia, where he has lived since being granted temporary asylum in August.

Leaks from the former intelligence analyst have rocked the US government, revealing an extensive programme of espionage that covered China, Russia and Western allies including Germany and Brazil. The US wants him extradited to face trial on criminal charges.

Mr Snowden spent more than a month in a hotel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport before being allowed into the country.

It is unclear whether he remains in Moscow, though tabloid pictures of the former contractor occasionally surface.

A Russian website, Life News, this week published a smartphone picture it said was purchased from a reader for 100,000 rubles (£1,943), purporting to show Mr Snowden taking a boat trip down the Moscow River through the city's centre. Mr Snowden was without his trademark glasses but wearing a red shirt and cream-coloured cap; the photo's background includes Moscow's landmark Christ the Saviour cathedral.

Learning RussianIn an accompanying interview, Mr Kucherena told Life News that Mr Snowden was learning to speak Russian and had visited the Kremlin and other museums and cities in the country.

"He's already gone a pretty long way, in terms of Russian words, in terms of knowledge of our culture...

"For the time being, given his interest in Russia, given the attitude of Russians towards him ... given the love for him, he's receiving a fair amount of correspondence, and I don't think he has any desire to leave for another country at the moment," Mr Kucherena said.

The lawyer did not disclose where Mr Snowden is living but said he will work in information technology at "our country's largest website".

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview recently that Mr Snowden could "feel safe" in Russia, though he told the Associated Press news agency that he found him "a strange guy".

VKontakte has itself come under pressure from the Russian government, as legislators try to gain more control over what is said online. Mr Durov's residence and VKontakte headquarters were both raided by police earlier this year, ostensibly in a traffic accident investigation.

The site has nearly 80 million users, according to industry researcher Comscore, including about 47 million inside Russia, and is controversial for allowing users access to pirated music and video content.

Saving Agent Snowden from his Handlers Greenwald and Omidyar By Yoichi Shimatsu | DavidShurter.com

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 14:34

Whistleblower Edward Snowden was taken for a ride by con artists in the service of the US and UK intelligence agencies. Under the cover of ''independent journalism'', the scammers conned him out of his trove of secret NSA files, hustled him from Hong Kong ahead of legislature-sponsored public hearings on cyber-espionage, and unceremoniously dumped him, minus documents, in a transit lounge at Moscow Airport . This report shows how the American and British spymasters retrieved the top-secret files by luring the fugitive into a well-laid trap, while the mass media went along with the deception to aid the authorities in evading public calls to abolish the global surveillance state.

Pierre Omidyar, founder of the online flea market e-Bay, is betting a reported $250 million that the accomplices of whistleblower Edward Snowden can follow up their caper with the launch of an online news site with global reach. The ethnic Iranian tycoon is funding a new media project for the team of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill because he became ''more alarmed about the pressures coming down on journalists with the various leak investigations in Washington .'' (Pacific Business News)

An angel investor committed to press freedom and opposed to government surveillance is every journalist's dream even though it sounds too good to be true. There are serious grounds for questioning the credibility of Greenwald and his newest patron, whose business venture Omidyar Network is closely connected with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's erstwhile employer.

Known for his globalist vision and ''social-impact'' projects in the developing countries, backed by immense personal wealth, Omidyar follows in the footsteps of other billionaires who launched their own electronic media projects: George Soros with his slew of propaganda organs, Ariana Huffington at HuffPost and Michael Bloomberg with his financial news arm, to name a few. These well-oiled publicity machines hardly qualify as standard-bearers of objective reporting since each of these opinion-shapers has a political agenda, from running City Hall to fomenting uprisings for regime change in support of market economics. Early on, it already appears that Omidyar, for all his sentimental sound bites, could turn out to be the worst of a bad lot.

Partnering Booz Allen

In stark contrast to his libertarian posturing, Omidyar is connected at the hip to the very same intelligence nexus that he publicly condemns, particularly Booz Allen Hamilton, the NSA security contractor that employed Snowden in Hawaii and Japan . One of the major investment partners with Omidyar Network, Salvadore ''Sal'' Gambianco, sits on the board of directors of Booz Allen Hamilton Holdings.

As head of Omidyar Network's human capital operations, Giambanco vets trainees and assesses employee performance for promotion or termination. For more than a decade, Omidyar Network has had a revolving door for its employees with Booz Allen, shuttling staffers and interns for intelligence-related postings. Just a few of these individuals who worked for both Omidyar Network and Booz Allen include:

- Dhaya Lakshminarayan who was sent to Cuba to research development programs;- Pranay Chulet hired to head Omidyar-backed Quikr in India ;- Patricia Sosrodjojo, Indonesian venture capital expert in Jakarta ; and- Michael Kent, a Booz Allen counter-terrorism specialist who served as a research associate at the Omidyar campus in Redwood City , California .

The relationship, simply put, is corporate collusion, and if businesses could be married, Booz Allen and Omidyar Network are husband and wife.

Inside the NSA's Big Tent

Booz Allen and Omidyar Network are corporate members of an NSA-linked consortium called Innocentive, a consultancy focused on crowdsourcing (read: data-mining of public-opinion polls, consumer surveys and Internet-based personal data). Other member-companies include In-Q-Tel, a developer of communications monitoring software spawned with millions in start-up capital from the CIA.

Also represented is the In-Q-Tel spin-off Palantir, which creates fictive personas or virtual trolls to mount smear campaigns to debunk or threaten journalists and critical websites online and in letters to editors. Palantir, which refers to itself as an ''electronic warfare'' firm, has created a meta-data collection program similar to the NSA's PRISM. Michael Leiter, former head of the National Counter-Terrorism Center , is the executive counsel to Palantir.

Another corporate partner in Innocentive is Lilly Ventures, the investment arm of Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals, which produced LSD for the MK-ULTRA mind-control program and is now the lead partner in the Obama-sponsored national brain-mapping project. Full-spectrum surveillance is advancing from wireless electronics into the bio-network of the human synapses, the last frontier for total mind control. The objective of pre-crime pre-cognition, that is, the detection of criminal tendencies, for instance, resistance to authority, and intervention before the crime can happen. Using drugs to impair the mental capabilities of individuals is, of course, only a part of a wider and larger program of social engineering to ensure domination of the globalist elites over any increasingly dependant and expendable population.

As birds of the feather that flock together, Booz Allen Hamilton and Omidyar Network are a pair of ducks in the NSA-CIA pond. These intelligence links are so thinly guised, it beggars belief that an attorney like Greenwald who practiced law in New York City could be so oblivious to the conflict of interest in regard to the security of his client Edward Snowden.

Either Glenn Greenwald is a gullible village idiot or he is one of many actors planted in this spy charade. Nobody in the intelligence game is allowed to be that na¯ve, especially when it is crystal clear from these interlocking corporate connections that Pierre Omidyar is hardly an innocent when he has every incentive to work on behalf of Booz Allen and the NSA to recover the Snowden files.

Sell-Out or Set Up?

It took $250 million for Omidyar to win the fealty of the ''courageous'' and ''independent'' journalists who surrounded Snowden and controlled his every movement. The team of Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, along with filmmaker Laura Poitras, not only kept the fugitive in the dark while mounting a clever sting operation. (''You can't let the Chinese or Russians confiscate the files'', as if Moscow or Beijing would be that stupid while the whole world was watching.) Taking his data as a ''security precaution'', the thieves thus managed to retrieve the secret documents for the spymasters in London , Langley and Fort Meade .

''We'll be working with them and others, but we have a long way to go in terms of what the (news) organization looks like, people's roles and responsibilities,'' said Omidyar to Pacific Business News. This leaves no doubt about who's the boss, while his other statements indicate Greenwald, Poitras and Schahill can collect the bounty money and disappear until their next Mission Impossible assignment, so long as they keep their mouths shut. Otherwise, a new team of actors will hunt them down one at a time. Accidents happen.

What business executive in the current risk climate commits $250 million of his own savings to a vaguely defined project without a management structure or financial plan? And the objective is to protect the public from government intrusion, even if his own company profits from those encroachments on privacy? In the fantasy world of comic-book heroes, a magnate like Bruce Wayne would never throw away his fortune to buy the Daily Planet so that Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane can be crusading reporters.

The patently ludicrous statements show that Pierre Omidyar is acting as a minder for a powerful entity, for example, the National Intelligence Council, and serving as babysitter for the non-profit funded ''journalists'' who conned Snowden out of this trove of documents and dumped him at the Moscow airport transit lounge. As winter bears down over the steppe, Snowden as his surname suggests is snowed in for the duration, thanks to the Greenwald-Poitras snow job.

600-pound Gorilla in the Salon

Early in his legal career in the 1990s, Greenwald was reprimanded for secretly taping witnesses during his pro bono defense of a white supremacist. This self-proclaimed civil libertarian employed the same sort of illegal surveillance that he would later criticize so loudly. Soon after being questioned in court about his electronic recording activities without the prior signing of consent forms, he closed down his private practice. If Greenwald hadn't he could be disbarred.

In 2002, Greenwald went on to bigger things as a business partner in Master Notions, whose clients included the video production company Hairy Jocks, which produced homosexual pornography. A falling out among the partners led to Greenwald forming a new company called Hairy Studs. On the bright side of this shady business, his background in porn could mean a gold mine for Omidyar's future news company in ads from gay bathhouses and escort services from New York to Rio .

Meanwhile, when the Internal Revenue Service put a lien on his earnings for failure to report past income, Greenwald launched his own blog to complain about overbearing government intrusion. As luck had it, his timing was perfect because CIA veteran Valerie Plame was being outed in the press by Scooter Libby, legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rebounding from his unsavory start as a purveyor of sleaze, the counselor reinvented himself as a ''journalist'' writing a civil-liberties column for Salon.com, that paragon of muddled murmurs from lapdog liberals founded by Microsoft's Bill Gates. Despite its reputation as forum for pathetic poseurs and depressed Generation-X losers, Salon provided the strategic boost that propelled Greenwald into national prominence. All along something was amiss. Greenwald was being cherry-picked by an invisible hand as the anointed spokesman for civil liberties, while veteran activists with the Electronic Frontier foundation and ACLU were being bypassed and ignored.

Cognitive Infiltration

His golden moment arrived with a 2008 PBS radio debate over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) hosted by Amy Goodman, pitting the crusading lawyer-cum-journalist against information tsar Cass Sunstein.

The University of Chicago law school professor rode into the White House office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on the coattails of his protege and former student Barack Obama. Married to NSA staffer Samantha Power (who was since appointed American ambassador to the UN), Sunstein is renowned for his pet cause of animal protection, advocating the right of a dog or cat to file lawsuits as a plaintiff against abusive owners. The FISA dual was therefore a match made in media heaven between world title holder Dr. Kibble Bits and the up-and-coming contender Harry Stud. (The rather dull transcript, which fails to capture the geist of the zeit, is available at www.democracynow.org.)

Greenwald won hands down by a TKO (taking Kibblebits out), scoring against Sunstein on the issue of retroactive immunity for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan . The trouble is, however, the fix was in. The bout went according to Sunstein's ''cognitive infiltration'' game-plan. By taking the role of bad cop, the professor set up Greenwald to emerge as the good cop, the nation's top reformer since nobody else ever had the privilege of debating the information tsar.

After this ploy, morally outraged jurists and lawyers who wanted to press war-crimes and even genocide charges against the Bush administration were sucked into the blog-and-debate routine and nudged into the position of being the loyal opposition. The national debate rapidly shifted from condemnation of torture in Guantanamo to the minutiae of legal procedures, while candidate Obama's promise to shut down the abominable prison camp was politely forgotten. Cognitive infiltration proved to a most effective psywar technique, manipulating critics to volunteer for their own castration.

Sunstein, who strategizes global information control for the executive branch (Office of the President, the CIA, FBI and NSA): has also promoted dirty war with the planting of agents provocateurs to infiltrate terrorist cells, protest groups and domestic militias. As seen at the Boston Marathon, government-recruited dupes and crisis actors were scripted to score astonishing feats against the ''oppressive'' government. On one hand, the violence and theatrics scare the daylights out of the public, which wipes out objections to the repressive state apparatus. On the other hand, the provos for the intelligence agencies succeed in impressing extremist movements worldwide, which then can be steered into proxy wars, false-flag attacks and assassinations of one's own troublesome political allies.

These sorts of police-agent tactics were tested during the Vietnam War era by Obama's mentors in the Chicago circle of phony leftists, which discredited and disrupted Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) by financing the Weather Underground's rampages of arson and window-smashing. Distribution of firearms by provocateurs to young radicals brought on the Nixon COINTELPRO campaign to assassinate community leaders, notably Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and imprison others like H. Rap Brown.

A Better Rat Trap for Squealers

One of Sunstein's major projects has been to contain the epidemic of insider disclosures by whistleblowers. Knowing quite well that disgruntled government employees will invariably seek legal counsel, what better tactic than to fabricate a ''civil liberties'' crusader working pro bono along with his wide network of media contacts and deep-pockets funders?

The trap was set, and as predicted the quarry arrived, by the name of Edward Snowden. Like a mouse after cheese, the gullible mark took the bait and followed Greenwald's every instruction. Dr. Sunstein succeeded brilliantly when his ''mini-me'' puppet did what no law-enforcement agency could ever pull off '' the voluntary surrender of top-secret files.

OK, you won. That's enough of the rough-trade scowl for the cameras, Glenn, when you'd rather just howl and roll on the floor at how easily Eddie was reeled in hook, line and sinker. Hey, stud, you deserve the reward at the rainbow's end, those big fat checks from the Iranian dude. Maybe for your next assignment, you should take over the lead role from Tom Cruise for the upcoming episode ''MI-6.''

Hong Kong Exfiltration

From the time of Snowden's sojourn in Hong Kong, it was clear to journalists and politicians that his local lawyer Albert Ho and the minders with British and US intelligence were not going to allow unfettered disclosure of the NSA documents to an astonished global public. When the Western spies learned that parliamentarians with the Legislative Council (LEGCO) were planning to call for open public hearings with Snowden as star witness, the whistleblower was suddenly packed off to Moscow .

As Snowden himself had figured, Hong Kong was the ideal place of refuge with its Basic Law and legal community fiercely committed to free expression, a regional hub for the major media, a cyber-security center with top university computer departments and experts at global banks, local protesters and the Foreign Correspondents Club demanding his protection, a police force that was ordered to prevent anyone from harming the fugitive, and a Chief Executive, the city's top official, who gave his personal assurances that Snowden would not be extradited. What more could anyone ask for?

His local lawyer Albert Ho, a legislative council member with the Democrat Party, claims that he was visited in the middle of the night by ''somebody'' urging Snowden to get out of Hong Kong . The Catholic-dominant Democrat Party is famously funded by the Washington neocon patrons, the National Endowment for Democracy, It is an open secret that since the days of Senator Jesse Helms, Democrat leaders fly to Washington to pick up checks from the intelligence chiefs.

There was no threat from mainland authorities as falsely reported since Beijing had an interest along with every bank, company and individual in Hong Kong in the NSA communications intercepts. It was a big lie from his so-called protectors that triggered Snowden's flight from a Hong Kong ready to offer him immunity.

Glenn Greenwald went along with the deception, meaning he had to be in on the plot to retrieve the secret-level documents for the NSA. That he has so quickly accepted an editorship with Omidyar, one of the closest allies of Booz Allen, only confirms all the other evidence on his collaboration with the spy agencies.

Instead of an intense three weeks of public hearings revealing all of the NSA wrongdoing, with daily commentaries by cyber-security experts and, more important, the victims of state violations of privacy, Greenwald and Poitras has reduced the flow of documents to a drip feed.

The blog called Rancid Honeytrap has sharply punctured the hot-air balloon from Snowden's erstwhile handlers, notably Greenwald:

''Viva the new journalism of lying repeatedly about the size of your document trove to teach the rubes valuable lessons in proper whistleblowing.''Viva the new journalism of leaking 300 pages in four months from a trove that exceeds 60,00 documents.''Viva the new journalism that probably suppressed at least one story on government orders.''Viva the new journalism of putting 50k-plus docs in the care of The New York Times since they had proven themselves so worthy in Cablegate.''Viva the new journalism that talks about the crucial role of the heroic journalist far far more than it talks about the secrets in his care.''Viva the new journalism that hoards leaks while it negotiates movie and television rights with Sony and HBO.''

To that last point might we add: Viva for winning $250 million from the NSA nexus for your financial security into old age, if by some miracle you make that far

Jewel in the Crown

At that early phase, the Greenwald show was run by the Guardian. Its editor in chief Alan Rusbridger took the spotlight role for breaking the Snowden story. The Guardian breaking-news spectacle was run by the same Royalist intelligence network that harbored Julian Assange on the country estate of military officer, sniper and journalist Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club that conducted intelligence operations in the Balkans war.

The strategic decision-making at the Guardian goes far higher than editor Rusbridger. The publishing group's chairwoman is Amelia Chilcott Fawcett, a confidante of Prince Charles who also supervises the Prince of Wales Foundation. The career of Dame Fawcett, Commander of the British Empire , shows her to be a force to be reckoned with: international attorney, CEO and executive director of Morgan Stanley Europe, director of State Street Corporation, board member of the Bank of England, and head of the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, Observer and other media assets.

Although born in Boston , the cradle of American independence, Chilcott Fawcett is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Britain , and Atlanticist of unquestionable and unquestioning Tory persuasion. She is eminently qualified and adequately connected to direct Prince Charles's long-running dispute with upstart cousins at the CIA and NSA. While the Foreign Office remains shamelessly in debt and beholden to the Americans, British military intelligence is a Royalist bastion.

The Princess Diana investigative reporting by the now defunct News of the World, owned by the adoptive American Rupert Murdoch, were particularly offensive to the Saxe-Coburg family aka the Windsors. The personal animosity between President George W. Bush and Prince Charles nearly wrecked the Anglo-American relationship. The mystery of the 7/7 London Tube bombing during the Gleneagles G-8 summit was especially galling, since a former CIA executive was in charge of Metro security. Only special agents had access to blast the ''tunnel below the Tube'', which has been used to convey British troops across London since World War II, according to a Special Branch police intelligence officer interviewed by this writer.

British agents and sympathizers in Hong Kong were instrumental in erecting the security cordon around fugitive Snowden, and the Guardian new-hire Greenwald was enlisted as the American liaison. The media leaks were calibrated to cause discomfort, rather than excruciating pain, to the arrogant lads at NSA. The few documents released had no effect on British interests, but the bulk of files that affect the common interests of America and Europe remain secreted under royal seal. As the Obama White House flounders under the debt-ceiling dispute and pressure from bankers in the City of London , the Royals are enjoying a revival.

In a nutshell the Snowden case was used by the British military intelligence in partnership with a CIA faction opposed to the heavy-handed Pentagon-NSA eavesdropping programs that threaten to knock over sensitive operations, for instance, joint operations with Qatar and Saudi intelligence to direct Al Qaeda units in Libya , Syria and Afghanistan . Since assassination targets could include American, British and other allied European officers who know too much, the Agency prefers to operate without its communications with field agents and MK-ULTRA types being monitored by lads like Snowden or any of the many generals who have a grudge against the CIA. As for disclosures on snooping, the public be damned.

As for Greenwald's sidekicks Poitras and Schahill, so-called journalists who depend on non-profits for their handouts do not deserve mention. They have to yet pay their dues by working the night shift as sub-editors and chasing ambulances at cub reporters before boasting about their stories made for sponsors Journalism is an old-school profession not a luxury voyage of global exploration and personal discovery. No wonder Pierre is so worried about finding good editors since none of the trio qualify.

Who is Pierre Omidyar?

Since the existing grude match between the clowns of American and British intelligence cannot continue indefinitely, a new character must be introduced onto the circus to relieve the tension. As a person with close ties with the spy masters of U.S. , Britain , France and Abu Dhabi , Pierre Omidyar arrives with a shocking suddenness as ringmaster for the Greenwald acrobatics.

Born in Paris in 1967 to Iranian (C)migr(C)s, Pierre Parviz/Morad Omidyar came to Maryland at age 6 with his father, a physician at Johns Hopkins, and mother, a Sorbonne-trained linguist. He attended the Potomac School in McLean , Virginia , which is better known as Langley .

Key facts on his background are not disclosed: his family's religious affiliation, ancestral home in Iran , rank and status in the traditional social system, and ethnicity (Iranian society has been a melting pot for many millennia). His official biography is sanitized of facts and adorned with public-relations flourishes.

One of few facts that cannot be suppressed by Omidyar obsession with privacy is his schooling at Punahou, a private academy in Honolulu , staring a year after fellow alum Barack Obama's departure. Insider connections were essential for admission to the prep school, and in that era the few channels of access for children from the Third World were through parents working for the CIA, like Obama's mother Ann Dunham (see Wayne Madsen's in-depth expose of the Obama family's work for the CIA in ''The Manufacturing of a President'').

Persia not Iran

Pierre's mother Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar had similar credentials as a Farsi linguist at Georgetown University in the mid-1970s when the Carter administration was grappling with the upsurge in popular protests in Iran against the Shah's regime, while USAID advisers were trying to identify the underlying socioeconomic causes of the unrest. At the time when the Shah of Iran's grip on power was starting to crumble, Ayatollah Khomeini was in exile in Paris . Elahe Omidyar's Ph.D.-level fluency in both Farsi and French had to be an outstanding asset.

Founded by Dr Omidyar, the Roshan Institute for Cultural Heritage is dedicated to the preservation of Persian culture. Since the institute's literature makes a point of using Persia rather than Iran , a bit of explanation is needed. Though the two names are somewhat interchangeable, Persia refers to the polyglot empire and the ancient language that is the basis of Farsi, while Iran is more associated with the modern nation-state. The word Iran is based on Aryan, the ancient Indo-European term for '' Land of Light '' (as opposed to the higher latitudes as one travels northward). Persian in cultural reference also tends to imply the imperial dynasties and the courtly culture of the native emperors and conquering dynasties that adopted the regional culture.

The Roshan symbol of 24-ray sun is based on a carving at the ruins of Persepolis , the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, who best-known emperors were Xerxes and Darius II. Alexander the Great, avenging Xerxes' invasion of Greece (depicted with extreme bias in the movie ''300''), either allowed or ordered the destruction of the-then world's greatest city. The two Shahs of modern Pahlavi dynasty, Reza and the CIA-installed Mohammad Reza, staged massive performances at Persepolis to identify themselves with the Achaemenid dynasty. Fate being ironic, their rule ended nearly as disastrously. For purposes of discussion here, the Omidya valorization of Persepolis indicates attachment to the Shah of Iran, whose court included many advisors and officials were Bahai followers or Jewish by birth.

Oddly, the Roshan Institute board includes only one cultural expert, Dr. Omidyar. The others are deans, which makes sense because Roshan's main activity is to provide scholarships to students and place them in allied universities. One of the more interesting board members is former Democrat Florida congresswoman Jan Scheider, a former staffer with Terry McAuliff and lawyer for Bill Clinton. Mrs. Omidyar is one of her campaign contributors.

Social Impact Investing

In a similar vein with Dunham, a social worker who conducted CIA research in poor rural areas of Kenya and Indonesia , Elahe Omidyar's academic work has stressed the cultural and social milieu of Iranian society, an approach that has greatly influence her son. Pierre Omidyar advocates a ''social impact'' to investment in the developing countries, with financial support for non-governmental organizations along with private-sector investment.The emphasize on poor rural communities may sound benign, even noble-hearted, but that is exactly the same policy as the Rockefeller and Ford foundations in manipulating and suppressing grassroots movements with the goal of regime change to oust populist nationalist governments and preserving natural resources for Western corporations.

A three-point program of liberal development theory can be summarized as:- winning hearts and minds to wage counterinsurgency and proxy wars- takeovers of land, water and essential resources to subjugate the population- promoting construction of highways, bridges and ports to gain World Bank loans and lucrative contracts through corrupt puppet leaders.

Survivalism and Super-Flu Virus in Hawaii

Closer to home, Omidyar funds non-profit groups involved in organic farming in Hawaii . So what could be so sinister about such exemplary clean living? Here is what the Honolulu Advertiser daily reported: ''While he's clearly enamored with the Island culture, he is also aware of the danger of living in the middle of an ocean. Omidyar worries that a pandemic could cut Hawaii 's lifelines and leave it with an 11-day supply of food. To that end, he has made pivotal donations to local nonprofits dedicated to building sustainable local food supplies. At the same time, he has stockpiled several months of food for his personal use at storage facilities on O'ahu.''

That sounds an awful lot like a conspiracy theory. A pandemic, perhaps of highly lethal avian influenza depopulates Hawaii and the West Coast by disease and starvation, since no food arrives by ship or plan for more than two weeks. It means much of North American population is also exterminated. So what does Pierre Omidyar know that public is completely unaware of? Always remember, they who spread the plague have a monopoly on the antidote.

Loose ends in need of tying: Pierre and his mother Elahe Omidyar founded the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, discussed below. Among the board members is former University of Hawaii Mano chancellor Virgina Hinton. The microbiologist is a top expert in the avian influenza or bird flu virus, which whe weaponized poses the greatest threat of a mass-destruction epidemic.

Before coming to Hawaii , Dr. Hinton served as head of the animal lab at the University of Wisconsin Madison . Her chosen successor at that position was Yoshikiko Kawaoka, the Japanese scientist from Kobe University who in fact did soon at UW weaponize H5N1 into a highly lethal and contagious super-flu strain.

Here is an excerpt from a report in the seemingly innocuous UW Alumni Association newsletter ''On Wisconsin'':

''Virginia Hinshaw, a former colleague at both St. Jude and UW-Madison and now provost of the University of California- Davis, recalls him as being 'extremely bright and very creative. It was obvious that he was extraordinary.'

''It was Hinshaw who again set the stage for Kawaoka's next move. In 1995, she left her flu lab in the School of Veterinary Medicine to become dean of the Graduate School . With her encouragement, Kawaoka applied for her job, eventually joining the faculty in 1997. 'I remember him coming to my office in the Graduate School and looking around, saying, '''I just want to see where I'm going next,'' Hinshaw laughs.

''Where he was headed next, however, was Hong Kong . Four months after he arrived in Madison , Kawaoka was chosen by the National Institutes ofHealth to join a select team of international researchers analyzing the H5N1 virus, which had been identified in poultry in China and had begun to appear in humans. By the end of the year, the bird flu had infected eighteen people, killing six '-- a foreboding sign of the virus's potential that raised the alarm of public health officials around the world.''

In one word: Biowarfare. A French-born Iranian moved to Hawaii as an ideal place to raise his children, but then starts to stockpile food and drugs. It gets more worrisome because he is equipped for a biological Armageddon. Read on.

Deseret Empire of the Mormons

Security, of course, becomes an issue during food riots and mass panic. Not to worry, because Pierre has the leadership corps to create a private army. ''Omidyar employs a group of former Secret Service agents and ex-State Department officials to serve as his private security team and to fly his private jet, a French-made Dassault Falcon 900EX, which he keeps parked in a private hangar at Honolulu International Airport .''

Omidyar has set up safe houses on an island in France , Southern California and Nevada along with a 640-acre ranch in Montana . ''I'd say we're probably more significantly prepared than the average family,'' Omidyar said. ''We have property all over the world and we have property we can fly to.''

His long residence in Nevada and Montana , inside the greater Deseret Empire, offer a clue to his cult-like perspective. One of few new religions not hostile to the Church of Latter-Day Saints is the Bahai Faith, which originated in Iran although its largest temple, the Universal House of Justice, is based in Haifa , Israel .

Another clue to Omidyar's covert connection to Bahai is his focus on development projects in Zambia , the chief target of the sect's missionary activities in Africa .

Then, there's Omidyar's sponsorship of virus research and food stockpiling in Hawaii that corresponds to the End Times predicted by Bahai found Bahaullah: ''Soon will the present-day order be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead.''

The Universal House of Justice confirmed the validity of the prophecy with an epistle to this worldwide membership: ''The old order cannot be repaired; it is being rolled up before our eyes. The moral decay and disorder convulsing human society must run their course; we can neither arrest nor divert them. Our task is the build the Order of Bahaullah.''

As this next look at numerology indicates, the old order of God the Supreme Law-Giver is ''being rolled up'' in these End Day. Only then, through mass destruction, will the vessel of faithful followers deliver the authentic world divinity, the adamant and prideful One.

No.9 in Numerology '' Yesod

The Bahai inner sanctum has persistently obscured the meaning of the number 9 as an ''Arab symbol for fulfillment.'' No, the mystic symbol is derived from Jewish Kabbalist numerology as the symbol the final step before divine perfection. Number 9 symbolizes the sephirot (node of knowledge and power) ''Yesod'', the vessel for action. The action is toward the fulfillment of the double-digit representing ''Malkuth'' or kingship, in the sense of divine-right monarchy. (Kabbalism and its extension Illuminism, has therefore has had an attraction to royalists and pretenders worldwide, especially in Western Europe .)

Nine is strangely identified with the qualities of adamancy and pride that are the characteristics of Lucifer, the most intelligent angel surpassed only by God. The uneasy potency of this number, however, is limited to the institutional structure of the religious group. In fact, the actual ritual symbol of Bahai is the pentagram.

The God-Lucifer dichotomy has earlier roots in Zoroastrian dualistic philosophy of a cosmos divided between the god of light Ohrmadz (Ahura Mazda) and his doppelganger Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), prince of darkness. This duality helps to explain the hostility of the Bahai founders toward Islam and Zoroastrianism, and their willing affiliation with the Illuminati and Kabbalist-influenced Zionism. To substitute Lucifer-as-usurper in the stead of God the good requires distancing from the fallen angel's evil image as Satan, whose reputation Bahai has done its best to rehabilitate, sanitize and salvage.

This brings up the question: Is Lucifer aka Ahriman, No.10? Are these cultists devil worshippers? To put things more charitably, the Bahai along with the Illuminati put highest esteem on pure reason (in rejection of the charismatic nature a and capricious will of a God who imposes tough rules on mankind.) Lucifer, without his terrifying image as Satan, is an adamant hero who teaches humans to be proud of themselves, to stand tall and not to grovel before a morally oppressive and restrictive divinity of the orthodox priesthood. A defender of reason, Lucifer can therefore be the rightful God of mankind to one who is a heretic deviating from Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.

Illuminati of the Oxford Movement

It is no odd coincidence then that veneration of the evening star is shared by the seemingly disconnected cults of Illuminism and Bahai The historical links between these two cults can be found in Hermano Maximiliano's ''Freemasonry, the British Empire and the Formation of the Baha'I Cult''. In a cultural crusade to preserve British imperial power, a group of elite academics formed the Oxford Movement, which promoted radical new religious leaders across the Muslim world, particularly Bahai founder Bahaullah. (The Roman Empire underestimated the growing influence of religions from the Orient, including Christianity, which led to its collapse, and the Oxford Movement was determined to avoid that fatal ideological mistake.}

In a classic divide-and-rule exercise, Bahai was created as a ''super-faith'' that amalgamated the teachings of all world religions, and therefore deserve to replace Islam with a ''one world faith.'' It was in the interest of British imperialism in Iran and the Middle East to weaken the influence of Islam and to gain control over the Shia-promoted trend of emerging nationalism.

''Although it began as an experimental British foray in non-religious freemasonic cults, the Bahai movement would spawn the organizer of the future pan-Islamic movement, Jamaleddine Al-Afghani,'' writes to Maximiliano. An early advocate of Bahai, Al-Afghani went on to form the Salafi school of fundamentalist Islam, which provided the ideological foundation for the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.

The British spymasters who fostered Bahai and Salafism included Orientalist scholar Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Cambridge dean Edward G. Browne, while field operations with the Wahabi Salafists were led by St. John Philby.(Blunt's grand-nephew Anthony, art adviser to Queen Elizabeth II, and Philby's descendant Kim were leading members of the celebrated Oxford spy ring.) Besides the penchant for the occult and pederasty, heresy runs deep in the Oxbridge circle. (www.arabamericanencyclopedia.com) offers a good read on the Oxford Movement and Bahai.)In contrast to Salafism, which openly calls for a theocratic state, Bahai operates covertly behind the scenes to manipulate politicians and opinion leaders. For instance, unbeknownst to the public, Pierre Omidyar provided his private jet to fly State Department officials incognito for talks with Hamas and also transported former President Jimmy Carter to Tehran for secret diplomacy.

Fatwa Against Bahai

Behind the public pose of peacemaking, Bahai's role has not always been benign. In August, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa against contact with Bahai, following the discovery that terrorist cells included Bahai operatives. The term ''Iranian Freemasons'' recurrently arises whenever U.S. neoconservatives hatch plans to attack Iran . It has also been a mystery of how the criminal terrorist group Mujaheedeen Al-Khalq obtained the funding to build a mini-army inside neighboring Iraq and mounted elaborate assassination campaigns in Iran .

One incident familiar to this writer was the so-called Iranian bombing in Bangkok in 2012, which were attributed to the Tehran regime. (Two suspects were convicted in August by a Thai court.) The key figure in this incident was an Iranian woman with a Jewish family name, who managed to flee immediately after inadvertent blast damaged a safe house. At the time, her escape pointed to an Israeli connection, as the planned attacks were timed to match a Mossad international campaign to offer security services and training to Asian governments.

Alliance with Israel

Bahai's closest international ally is the State of Israel. Nearly every Israeli president and prime minister has made an official homage to the Shrine of Bab at the Bahai World Center in Haifa . Why would the head of the Jewish state honor a new religion that claims to be the world's supreme belief?

One motivation is the ''enemy of my enemy'' alliance, since both Bahai and Zionist are sworn to regime change in Iran . Another, historically deeper connection is the role of Jewish Kabbalism in the creation of the Bahai sect. Although developed in Al-Andalus, the Moorish realm in late-medieval/early Renaissance Spain, the Kabbala has earlier origins in the alchemistry, numerology, astronomy and philosophy of Persia and Mesopotamia as developed by Jewish, Islamic and Indian thinkers.

These early scientific explorations led to syncretism of the respective religious beliefs and occult doctrines, often expressed as sub-schools of Sufism. The syncretistic approach was especially favored by Donmeh Jews, the disciples of Sabbatai Zevi who became superficial converts to Islam under orders from Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV.

The various streams of hidden Jewish thought, which spread through the vast Islamic domain, eventually made its way into Europe with the Frankist movement and the Asiatic Brotherhood secret society, which profoundly influenced major figures such as Emperor Joseph of the Habsburgs (husband of Maria Theresa, ''Queen of the Night'' in Mozart's ''Magic Flute'') and the German princes of Hesse (Frankfurt region) whose banker was Mayer Rothschild, founder of the powerful Jewish banking dynasty. The merger of Kabbalist practices, including sexual libertinism, with Enlightenment philosophy led to Adam Weiskopf's formation of the Order of the Illuminati.

During the era of British world mastery, following the defeats of Napoleonic France, the English Illuminati scholars enchanted with Orientalism reintroduced Kabbalist occultism to the Near East among the Young Turks led by Ataturk, the Bahai and the Salafists. The Rothschild clan's financing of Zionism promoted ties with and recruitment of hidden Jews across the Muslim realm, cementing a close relationship between Bahai and Israel as well as between Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Mossad.

The official Bahai account paints themselves as victims of Shia Muslim persecution and pogroms, whereas the historical causes of nationalist opposition to the Bahai are more complicated. The Bahai were generally supportive of the Shahs of Iran before and after the CIA coup against the democratic Mosaddeqh regime, which nationalized the Iranian oil reserves. Bahai advisers to the court of successive Shahs promoted the secularization of Iranian society in order to banish Islamic values and undermine the nationalist Shia clergy. For Iranian nationalists, however, both secular and religious-inspired, the Shah's regime was a tool for Western control over Iran 's immense oil reserves. The Bahai are thus perceived as agents of the CIA and MI-6, which in fact many of their leaders actually were.

Occult Triangle

The triangular relationship of the Disraeli/Rothschid '' Oxford Movement '' Bahai/Salafism of the 19th is now being reflected in the Snowden affair with the collusion of the Zionism/Greenwald '' Guardian/Royalist '' Bahai/Omidyar. History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as a farce.

As Israel edges toward a first-strike attack against Iran , while ramping up its covert wars against Iranian influence in Sudan and Palestine , is it any wonder that Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald are preparing to launch a major online propaganda mouthpiece? Is this new media venture, too, part of the Bahai plan to prepare for the imminent End of the World to be delivered by an unstoppable contagion of super-flu?

Instead of playing dangerous games, Pierre Omidyar is far better off in the luxury of fiction where he belongs rather than sentencing himself to hard labor at journalism. To lead the budding writer to the fabled shores of epic poetry and apocalyptic scenarios, let me guide him without personal ill will to his literary destiny with this short-short story of epic dimension, salted with plagiarism and peppered with cultural chauvinism, inspired by a world-renowned figure of ancient Persia whose ambitions were nearly as grand as his.

Whenever history reaches an impasse, onto the desolate field of the forum rumbles a juggernaut bearing a demigod who showers silver coins on his new subjects like droplets of water for the thirsty. At this hour of desperate survival, citizens, spurn the siren song of obedience, for even power-obsessed Xerxes and his cruel cohort of Immortals proved weak in spirit when bloodied between the stony heights and unfathomable depths. Cunning in the sophistry of One World at Peace, the satraps of empire are masters of the dark arts of treachery and betrayal as taught by their uncanny master Angra Mainyu.

Today, the beast again approaches to snuff out the world's one hope for reason and justice, the voice of truth arising from faith in the heart. The overwhelming odds of their 250 million pieces of silver against our 300 in bronze mean an even contest, for the difference will be tallied in righteous ferocity and deeds of glory.

Freedom is won only by those who have faced the blood rage of the wolves and have known the Spartan conditions of this real world of hungry villages andSaving Agent Snowden from his Handlers Greenwald and Omidyar

By Yoichi Shimatsu

Whistleblower Edward Snowden was taken for a ride by con artists in the service of the US and UK intelligence agencies. Under the cover of ''independent journalism'', the scammers conned him out of his trove of secret NSA files, hustled him from Hong Kong ahead of legislature-sponsored public hearings on cyber-espionage, and unceremoniously dumped him, minus documents, in a transit lounge at Moscow Airport . This report shows how the American and British spymasters retrieved the top-secret files by luring the fugitive into a well-laid trap, while the mass media went along with the deception to aid the authorities in evading public calls to abolish the global surveillance state.

Pierre Omidyar, founder of the online flea market e-Bay, is betting a reported $250 million that the accomplices of whistleblower Edward Snowden can follow up their caper with the launch of an online news site with global reach. The ethnic Iranian tycoon is funding a new media project for the team of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill because he became ''more alarmed about the pressures coming down on journalists with the various leak investigations in Washington .'' (Pacific Business News)

An angel investor committed to press freedom and opposed to government surveillance is every journalist's dream even though it sounds too good to be true. There are serious grounds for questioning the credibility of Greenwald and his newest patron, whose business venture Omidyar Network is closely connected with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's erstwhile employer.

Known for his globalist vision and ''social-impact'' projects in the developing countries, backed by immense personal wealth, Omidyar follows in the footsteps of other billionaires who launched their own electronic media projects: George Soros with his slew of propaganda organs, Ariana Huffington at HuffPost and Michael Bloomberg with his financial news arm, to name a few. These well-oiled publicity machines hardly qualify as standard-bearers of objective reporting since each of these opinion-shapers has a political agenda, from running City Hall to fomenting uprisings for regime change in support of market economics. Early on, it already appears that Omidyar, for all his sentimental sound bites, could turn out to be the worst of a bad lot.

Partnering Booz Allen

In stark contrast to his libertarian posturing, Omidyar is connected at the hip to the very same intelligence nexus that he publicly condemns, particularly Booz Allen Hamilton, the NSA security contractor that employed Snowden in Hawaii and Japan . One of the major investment partners with Omidyar Network, Salvadore ''Sal'' Gambianco, sits on the board of directors of Booz Allen Hamilton Holdings.

As head of Omidyar Network's human capital operations, Giambanco vets trainees and assesses employee performance for promotion or termination. For more than a decade, Omidyar Network has had a revolving door for its employees with Booz Allen, shuttling staffers and interns for intelligence-related postings. Just a few of these individuals who worked for both Omidyar Network and Booz Allen include:

- Dhaya Lakshminarayan who was sent to Cuba to research development programs;- Pranay Chulet hired to head Omidyar-backed Quikr in India ;- Patricia Sosrodjojo, Indonesian venture capital expert in Jakarta ; and- Michael Kent, a Booz Allen counter-terrorism specialist who served as a research associate at the Omidyar campus in Redwood City , California .

The relationship, simply put, is corporate collusion, and if businesses could be married, Booz Allen and Omidyar Network are husband and wife.

Inside the NSA's Big Tent

Booz Allen and Omidyar Network are corporate members of an NSA-linked consortium called Innocentive, a consultancy focused on crowdsourcing (read: data-mining of public-opinion polls, consumer surveys and Internet-based personal data). Other member-companies include In-Q-Tel, a developer of communications monitoring software spawned with millions in start-up capital from the CIA.

Also represented is the In-Q-Tel spin-off Palantir, which creates fictive personas or virtual trolls to mount smear campaigns to debunk or threaten journalists and critical websites online and in letters to editors. Palantir, which refers to itself as an ''electronic warfare'' firm, has created a meta-data collection program similar to the NSA's PRISM. Michael Leiter, former head of the National Counter-Terrorism Center , is the executive counsel to Palantir.

Another corporate partner in Innocentive is Lilly Ventures, the investment arm of Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals, which produced LSD for the MK-ULTRA mind-control program and is now the lead partner in the Obama-sponsored national brain-mapping project. Full-spectrum surveillance is advancing from wireless electronics into the bio-network of the human synapses, the last frontier for total mind control. The objective of pre-crime pre-cognition, that is, the detection of criminal tendencies, for instance, resistance to authority, and intervention before the crime can happen. Using drugs to impair the mental capabilities of individuals is, of course, only a part of a wider and larger program of social engineering to ensure domination of the globalist elites over any increasingly dependant and expendable population.

As birds of the feather that flock together, Booz Allen Hamilton and Omidyar Network are a pair of ducks in the NSA-CIA pond. These intelligence links are so thinly guised, it beggars belief that an attorney like Greenwald who practiced law in New York City could be so oblivious to the conflict of interest in regard to the security of his client Edward Snowden.

Either Glenn Greenwald is a gullible village idiot or he is one of many actors planted in this spy charade. Nobody in the intelligence game is allowed to be that na¯ve, especially when it is crystal clear from these interlocking corporate connections that Pierre Omidyar is hardly an innocent when he has every incentive to work on behalf of Booz Allen and the NSA to recover the Snowden files.

Sell-Out or Set Up?

It took $250 million for Omidyar to win the fealty of the ''courageous'' and ''independent'' journalists who surrounded Snowden and controlled his every movement. The team of Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, along with filmmaker Laura Poitras, not only kept the fugitive in the dark while mounting a clever sting operation. (''You can't let the Chinese or Russians confiscate the files'', as if Moscow or Beijing would be that stupid while the whole world was watching.) Taking his data as a ''security precaution'', the thieves thus managed to retrieve the secret documents for the spymasters in London , Langley and Fort Meade .

''We'll be working with them and others, but we have a long way to go in terms of what the (news) organization looks like, people's roles and responsibilities,'' said Omidyar to Pacific Business News. This leaves no doubt about who's the boss, while his other statements indicate Greenwald, Poitras and Schahill can collect the bounty money and disappear until their next Mission Impossible assignment, so long as they keep their mouths shut. Otherwise, a new team of actors will hunt them down one at a time. Accidents happen.

What business executive in the current risk climate commits $250 million of his own savings to a vaguely defined project without a management structure or financial plan? And the objective is to protect the public from government intrusion, even if his own company profits from those encroachments on privacy? In the fantasy world of comic-book heroes, a magnate like Bruce Wayne would never throw away his fortune to buy the Daily Planet so that Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane can be crusading reporters.

The patently ludicrous statements show that Pierre Omidyar is acting as a minder for a powerful entity, for example, the National Intelligence Council, and serving as babysitter for the non-profit funded ''journalists'' who conned Snowden out of this trove of documents and dumped him at the Moscow airport transit lounge. As winter bears down over the steppe, Snowden as his surname suggests is snowed in for the duration, thanks to the Greenwald-Poitras snow job.

600-pound Gorilla in the Salon

Early in his legal career in the 1990s, Greenwald was reprimanded for secretly taping witnesses during his pro bono defense of a white supremacist. This self-proclaimed civil libertarian employed the same sort of illegal surveillance that he would later criticize so loudly. Soon after being questioned in court about his electronic recording activities without the prior signing of consent forms, he closed down his private practice. If Greenwald hadn't he could be disbarred.

In 2002, Greenwald went on to bigger things as a business partner in Master Notions, whose clients included the video production company Hairy Jocks, which produced homosexual pornography. A falling out among the partners led to Greenwald forming a new company called Hairy Studs. On the bright side of this shady business, his background in porn could mean a gold mine for Omidyar's future news company in ads from gay bathhouses and escort services from New York to Rio .

Meanwhile, when the Internal Revenue Service put a lien on his earnings for failure to report past income, Greenwald launched his own blog to complain about overbearing government intrusion. As luck had it, his timing was perfect because CIA veteran Valerie Plame was being outed in the press by Scooter Libby, legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rebounding from his unsavory start as a purveyor of sleaze, the counselor reinvented himself as a ''journalist'' writing a civil-liberties column for Salon.com, that paragon of muddled murmurs from lapdog liberals founded by Microsoft's Bill Gates. Despite its reputation as forum for pathetic poseurs and depressed Generation-X losers, Salon provided the strategic boost that propelled Greenwald into national prominence. All along something was amiss. Greenwald was being cherry-picked by an invisible hand as the anointed spokesman for civil liberties, while veteran activists with the Electronic Frontier foundation and ACLU were being bypassed and ignored.

Cognitive Infiltration

His golden moment arrived with a 2008 PBS radio debate over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) hosted by Amy Goodman, pitting the crusading lawyer-cum-journalist against information tsar Cass Sunstein.

The University of Chicago law school professor rode into the White House office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on the coattails of his protege and former student Barack Obama. Married to NSA staffer Samantha Power (who was since appointed American ambassador to the UN), Sunstein is renowned for his pet cause of animal protection, advocating the right of a dog or cat to file lawsuits as a plaintiff against abusive owners. The FISA dual was therefore a match made in media heaven between world title holder Dr. Kibble Bits and the up-and-coming contender Harry Stud. (The rather dull transcript, which fails to capture the geist of the zeit, is available at www.democracynow.org.)

Greenwald won hands down by a TKO (taking Kibblebits out), scoring against Sunstein on the issue of retroactive immunity for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan . The trouble is, however, the fix was in. The bout went according to Sunstein's ''cognitive infiltration'' game-plan. By taking the role of bad cop, the professor set up Greenwald to emerge as the good cop, the nation's top reformer since nobody else ever had the privilege of debating the information tsar.

After this ploy, morally outraged jurists and lawyers who wanted to press war-crimes and even genocide charges against the Bush administration were sucked into the blog-and-debate routine and nudged into the position of being the loyal opposition. The national debate rapidly shifted from condemnation of torture in Guantanamo to the minutiae of legal procedures, while candidate Obama's promise to shut down the abominable prison camp was politely forgotten. Cognitive infiltration proved to a most effective psywar technique, manipulating critics to volunteer for their own castration.

Sunstein, who strategizes global information control for the executive branch (Office of the President, the CIA, FBI and NSA): has also promoted dirty war with the planting of agents provocateurs to infiltrate terrorist cells, protest groups and domestic militias. As seen at the Boston Marathon, government-recruited dupes and crisis actors were scripted to score astonishing feats against the ''oppressive'' government. On one hand, the violence and theatrics scare the daylights out of the public, which wipes out objections to the repressive state apparatus. On the other hand, the provos for the intelligence agencies succeed in impressing extremist movements worldwide, which then can be steered into proxy wars, false-flag attacks and assassinations of one's own troublesome political allies.

These sorts of police-agent tactics were tested during the Vietnam War era by Obama's mentors in the Chicago circle of phony leftists, which discredited and disrupted Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) by financing the Weather Underground's rampages of arson and window-smashing. Distribution of firearms by provocateurs to young radicals brought on the Nixon COINTELPRO campaign to assassinate community leaders, notably Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and imprison others like H. Rap Brown.

A Better Rat Trap for Squealers

One of Sunstein's major projects has been to contain the epidemic of insider disclosures by whistleblowers. Knowing quite well that disgruntled government employees will invariably seek legal counsel, what better tactic than to fabricate a ''civil liberties'' crusader working pro bono along with his wide network of media contacts and deep-pockets funders?

The trap was set, and as predicted the quarry arrived, by the name of Edward Snowden. Like a mouse after cheese, the gullible mark took the bait and followed Greenwald's every instruction. Dr. Sunstein succeeded brilliantly when his ''mini-me'' puppet did what no law-enforcement agency could ever pull off '' the voluntary surrender of top-secret files.

OK, you won. That's enough of the rough-trade scowl for the cameras, Glenn, when you'd rather just howl and roll on the floor at how easily Eddie was reeled in hook, line and sinker. Hey, stud, you deserve the reward at the rainbow's end, those big fat checks from the Iranian dude. Maybe for your next assignment, you should take over the lead role from Tom Cruise for the upcoming episode ''MI-6.''

Hong Kong Exfiltration

From the time of Snowden's sojourn in Hong Kong, it was clear to journalists and politicians that his local lawyer Albert Ho and the minders with British and US intelligence were not going to allow unfettered disclosure of the NSA documents to an astonished global public. When the Western spies learned that parliamentarians with the Legislative Council (LEGCO) were planning to call for open public hearings with Snowden as star witness, the whistleblower was suddenly packed off to Moscow .

As Snowden himself had figured, Hong Kong was the ideal place of refuge with its Basic Law and legal community fiercely committed to free expression, a regional hub for the major media, a cyber-security center with top university computer departments and experts at global banks, local protesters and the Foreign Correspondents Club demanding his protection, a police force that was ordered to prevent anyone from harming the fugitive, and a Chief Executive, the city's top official, who gave his personal assurances that Snowden would not be extradited. What more could anyone ask for?

His local lawyer Albert Ho, a legislative council member with the Democrat Party, claims that he was visited in the middle of the night by ''somebody'' urging Snowden to get out of Hong Kong . The Catholic-dominant Democrat Party is famously funded by the Washington neocon patrons, the National Endowment for Democracy, It is an open secret that since the days of Senator Jesse Helms, Democrat leaders fly to Washington to pick up checks from the intelligence chiefs.

There was no threat from mainland authorities as falsely reported since Beijing had an interest along with every bank, company and individual in Hong Kong in the NSA communications intercepts. It was a big lie from his so-called protectors that triggered Snowden's flight from a Hong Kong ready to offer him immunity.

Glenn Greenwald went along with the deception, meaning he had to be in on the plot to retrieve the secret-level documents for the NSA. That he has so quickly accepted an editorship with Omidyar, one of the closest allies of Booz Allen, only confirms all the other evidence on his collaboration with the spy agencies.

Instead of an intense three weeks of public hearings revealing all of the NSA wrongdoing, with daily commentaries by cyber-security experts and, more important, the victims of state violations of privacy, Greenwald and Poitras has reduced the flow of documents to a drip feed.

The blog called Rancid Honeytrap has sharply punctured the hot-air balloon from Snowden's erstwhile handlers, notably Greenwald:

''Viva the new journalism of lying repeatedly about the size of your document trove to teach the rubes valuable lessons in proper whistleblowing.''Viva the new journalism of leaking 300 pages in four months from a trove that exceeds 60,00 documents.''Viva the new journalism that probably suppressed at least one story on government orders.''Viva the new journalism of putting 50k-plus docs in the care of The New York Times since they had proven themselves so worthy in Cablegate.''Viva the new journalism that talks about the crucial role of the heroic journalist far far more than it talks about the secrets in his care.''Viva the new journalism that hoards leaks while it negotiates movie and television rights with Sony and HBO.''

To that last point might we add: Viva for winning $250 million from the NSA nexus for your financial security into old age, if by some miracle you make that far.

Jewel in the Crown

At that early phase, the Greenwald show was run by the Guardian. Its editor in chief Alan Rusbridger took the spotlight role for breaking the Snowden story. The Guardian breaking-news spectacle was run by the same Royalist intelligence network that harbored Julian Assange on the country estate of military officer, sniper and journalist Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club that conducted intelligence operations in the Balkans war.

The strategic decision-making at the Guardian goes far higher than editor Rusbridger. The publishing group's chairwoman is Amelia Chilcott Fawcett, a confidante of Prince Charles who also supervises the Prince of Wales Foundation. The career of Dame Fawcett, Commander of the British Empire , shows her to be a force to be reckoned with: international attorney, CEO and executive director of Morgan Stanley Europe, director of State Street Corporation, board member of the Bank of England, and head of the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, Observer and other media assets.

Although born in Boston , the cradle of American independence, Chilcott Fawcett is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Britain , and Atlanticist of unquestionable and unquestioning Tory persuasion. She is eminently qualified and adequately connected to direct Prince Charles's long-running dispute with upstart cousins at the CIA and NSA. While the Foreign Office remains shamelessly in debt and beholden to the Americans, British military intelligence is a Royalist bastion.

The Princess Diana investigative reporting by the now defunct News of the World, owned by the adoptive American Rupert Murdoch, were particularly offensive to the Saxe-Coburg family aka the Windsors. The personal animosity between President George W. Bush and Prince Charles nearly wrecked the Anglo-American relationship. The mystery of the 7/7 London Tube bombing during the Gleneagles G-8 summit was especially galling, since a former CIA executive was in charge of Metro security. Only special agents had access to blast the ''tunnel below the Tube'', which has been used to convey British troops across London since World War II, according to a Special Branch police intelligence officer interviewed by this writer.

British agents and sympathizers in Hong Kong were instrumental in erecting the security cordon around fugitive Snowden, and the Guardian new-hire Greenwald was enlisted as the American liaison. The media leaks were calibrated to cause discomfort, rather than excruciating pain, to the arrogant lads at NSA. The few documents released had no effect on British interests, but the bulk of files that affect the common interests of America and Europe remain secreted under royal seal. As the Obama White House flounders under the debt-ceiling dispute and pressure from bankers in the City of London , the Royals are enjoying a revival.

In a nutshell the Snowden case was used by the British military intelligence in partnership with a CIA faction opposed to the heavy-handed Pentagon-NSA eavesdropping programs that threaten to knock over sensitive operations, for instance, joint operations with Qatar and Saudi intelligence to direct Al Qaeda units in Libya , Syria and Afghanistan . Since assassination targets could include American, British and other allied European officers who know too much, the Agency prefers to operate without its communications with field agents and MK-ULTRA types being monitored by lads like Snowden or any of the many generals who have a grudge against the CIA. As for disclosures on snooping, the public be damned.

As for Greenwald's sidekicks Poitras and Schahill, so-called journalists who depend on non-profits for their handouts do not deserve mention. They have to yet pay their dues by working the night shift as sub-editors and chasing ambulances at cub reporters before boasting about their stories made for sponsors Journalism is an old-school profession not a luxury voyage of global exploration and personal discovery. No wonder Pierre is so worried about finding good editors since none of the trio qualify.

Who is Pierre Omidyar?

Since the existing grude match between the clowns of American and British intelligence cannot continue indefinitely, a new character must be introduced onto the circus to relieve the tension. As a person with close ties with the spy masters of U.S. , Britain , France and Abu Dhabi , Pierre Omidyar arrives with a shocking suddenness as ringmaster for the Greenwald acrobatics.

Born in Paris in 1967 to Iranian (C)migr(C)s, Pierre Parviz/Morad Omidyar came to Maryland at age 6 with his father, a physician at Johns Hopkins, and mother, a Sorbonne-trained linguist. He attended the Potomac School in McLean , Virginia , which is better known as Langley .

Key facts on his background are not disclosed: his family's religious affiliation, ancestral home in Iran , rank and status in the traditional social system, and ethnicity (Iranian society has been a melting pot for many millennia). His official biography is sanitized of facts and adorned with public-relations flourishes.

One of few facts that cannot be suppressed by Omidyar obsession with privacy is his schooling at Punahou, a private academy in Honolulu , staring a year after fellow alum Barack Obama's departure. Insider connections were essential for admission to the prep school, and in that era the few channels of access for children from the Third World were through parents working for the CIA, like Obama's mother Ann Dunham (see Wayne Madsen's in-depth expose of the Obama family's work for the CIA in ''The Manufacturing of a President'').

Persia not Iran

Pierre's mother Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar had similar credentials as a Farsi linguist at Georgetown University in the mid-1970s when the Carter administration was grappling with the upsurge in popular protests in Iran against the Shah's regime, while USAID advisers were trying to identify the underlying socioeconomic causes of the unrest. At the time when the Shah of Iran's grip on power was starting to crumble, Ayatollah Khomeini was in exile in Paris . Elahe Omidyar's Ph.D.-level fluency in both Farsi and French had to be an outstanding asset.

Founded by Dr Omidyar, the Roshan Institute for Cultural Heritage is dedicated to the preservation of Persian culture. Since the institute's literature makes a point of using Persia rather than Iran , a bit of explanation is needed. Though the two names are somewhat interchangeable, Persia refers to the polyglot empire and the ancient language that is the basis of Farsi, while Iran is more associated with the modern nation-state. The word Iran is based on Aryan, the ancient Indo-European term for '' Land of Light '' (as opposed to the higher latitudes as one travels northward). Persian in cultural reference also tends to imply the imperial dynasties and the courtly culture of the native emperors and conquering dynasties that adopted the regional culture.

The Roshan symbol of 24-ray sun is based on a carving at the ruins of Persepolis , the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, who best-known emperors were Xerxes and Darius II. Alexander the Great, avenging Xerxes' invasion of Greece (depicted with extreme bias in the movie ''300''), either allowed or ordered the destruction of the-then world's greatest city. The two Shahs of modern Pahlavi dynasty, Reza and the CIA-installed Mohammad Reza, staged massive performances at Persepolis to identify themselves with the Achaemenid dynasty. Fate being ironic, their rule ended nearly as disastrously. For purposes of discussion here, the Omidya valorization of Persepolis indicates attachment to the Shah of Iran, whose court included many advisors and officials were Bahai followers or Jewish by birth.

Oddly, the Roshan Institute board includes only one cultural expert, Dr. Omidyar. The others are deans, which makes sense because Roshan's main activity is to provide scholarships to students and place them in allied universities. One of the more interesting board members is former Democrat Florida congresswoman Jan Scheider, a former staffer with Terry McAuliff and lawyer for Bill Clinton. Mrs. Omidyar is one of her campaign contributors.

Social Impact Investing

In a similar vein with Dunham, a social worker who conducted CIA research in poor rural areas of Kenya and Indonesia , Elahe Omidyar's academic work has stressed the cultural and social milieu of Iranian society, an approach that has greatly influence her son. Pierre Omidyar advocates a ''social impact'' to investment in the developing countries, with financial support for non-governmental organizations along with private-sector investment.The emphasize on poor rural communities may sound benign, even noble-hearted, but that is exactly the same policy as the Rockefeller and Ford foundations in manipulating and suppressing grassroots movements with the goal of regime change to oust populist nationalist governments and preserving natural resources for Western corporations.

A three-point program of liberal development theory can be summarized as:- winning hearts and minds to wage counterinsurgency and proxy wars- takeovers of land, water and essential resources to subjugate the population- promoting construction of highways, bridges and ports to gain World Bank loans and lucrative contracts through corrupt puppet leaders.

Survivalism and Super-Flu Virus in Hawaii

Closer to home, Omidyar funds non-profit groups involved in organic farming in Hawaii . So what could be so sinister about such exemplary clean living? Here is what the Honolulu Advertiser daily reported: ''While he's clearly enamored with the Island culture, he is also aware of the danger of living in the middle of an ocean. Omidyar worries that a pandemic could cut Hawaii 's lifelines and leave it with an 11-day supply of food. To that end, he has made pivotal donations to local nonprofits dedicated to building sustainable local food supplies. At the same time, he has stockpiled several months of food for his personal use at storage facilities on O'ahu.''

That sounds an awful lot like a conspiracy theory. A pandemic, perhaps of highly lethal avian influenza depopulates Hawaii and the West Coast by disease and starvation, since no food arrives by ship or plan for more than two weeks. It means much of North American population is also exterminated. So what does Pierre Omidyar know that public is completely unaware of? Always remember, they who spread the plague have a monopoly on the antidote.

Loose ends in need of tying: Pierre and his mother Elahe Omidyar founded the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, discussed below. Among the board members is former University of Hawaii Mano chancellor Virgina Hinton. The microbiologist is a top expert in the avian influenza or bird flu virus, which whe weaponized poses the greatest threat of a mass-destruction epidemic.

Before coming to Hawaii , Dr. Hinton served as head of the animal lab at the University of Wisconsin Madison . Her chosen successor at that position was Yoshikiko Kawaoka, the Japanese scientist from Kobe University who in fact did soon at UW weaponize H5N1 into a highly lethal and contagious super-flu strain.

Here is an excerpt from a report in the seemingly innocuous UW Alumni Association newsletter ''On Wisconsin'':''Virginia Hinshaw, a former colleague at both St. Jude and UW-Madison and now provost of the University of California- Davis , recalls him as being 'extremely bright and very creative. It was obvious that he was extraordinary.'

''It was Hinshaw who again set the stage for Kawaoka's next move. In 1995, she left her flu lab in the School of Veterinary Medicine to become dean of the Graduate School . With her encouragement, Kawaoka applied for her job, eventually joining the faculty in 1997. 'I remember him coming to my office in the Graduate School and looking around, saying, '''I just want to see where I'm going next,'' Hinshaw laughs.

''Where he was headed next, however, was Hong Kong . Four months after he arrived in Madison , Kawaoka was chosen by the National Institutes ofHealth to join a select team of international researchers analyzing the H5N1 virus, which had been identified in poultry in China and had begun to appear in humans. By the end of the year, the bird flu had infected eighteen people, killing six '-- a foreboding sign of the virus's potential that raised the alarm of public health officials around the world.''

In one word: Biowarfare. A French-born Iranian moved to Hawaii as an ideal place to raise his children, but then starts to stockpile food and drugs. It gets more worrisome because he is equipped for a biological Armageddon. Read on.

Deseret Empire of the Mormons

Security, of course, becomes an issue during food riots and mass panic. Not to worry, because Pierre has the leadership corps to create a private army. ''Omidyar employs a group of former Secret Service agents and ex-State Department officials to serve as his private security team and to fly his private jet, a French-made Dassault Falcon 900EX, which he keeps parked in a private hangar at Honolulu International Airport .''

Omidyar has set up safe houses on an island in France , Southern California and Nevada along with a 640-acre ranch in Montana . ''I'd say we're probably more significantly prepared than the average family,'' Omidyar said. ''We have property all over the world and we have property we can fly to.''

His long residence in Nevada and Montana , inside the greater Deseret Empire, offer a clue to his cult-like perspective. One of few new religions not hostile to the Church of Latter-Day Saints is the Bahai Faith, which originated in Iran although its largest temple, the Universal House of Justice, is based in Haifa , Israel .

Another clue to Omidyar's covert connection to Bahai is his focus on development projects in Zambia , the chief target of the sect's missionary activities in Africa .

Then, there's Omidyar's sponsorship of virus research and food stockpiling in Hawaii that corresponds to the End Times predicted by Bahai found Bahaullah: ''Soon will the present-day order be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead.''

The Universal House of Justice confirmed the validity of the prophecy with an epistle to this worldwide membership: ''The old order cannot be repaired; it is being rolled up before our eyes. The moral decay and disorder convulsing human society must run their course; we can neither arrest nor divert them. Our task is the build the Order of Bahaullah.''

As this next look at numerology indicates, the old order of God the Supreme Law-Giver is ''being rolled up'' in these End Day. Only then, through mass destruction, will the vessel of faithful followers deliver the authentic world divinity, the adamant and prideful One.

No.9 in Numerology '' Yesod

The Bahai inner sanctum has persistently obscured the meaning of the number 9 as an ''Arab symbol for fulfillment.'' No, the mystic symbol is derived from Jewish Kabbalist numerology as the symbol the final step before divine perfection. Number 9 symbolizes the sephirot (node of knowledge and power) ''Yesod'', the vessel for action. The action is toward the fulfillment of the double-digit representing ''Malkuth'' or kingship, in the sense of divine-right monarchy. (Kabbalism and its extension Illuminism, has therefore has had an attraction to royalists and pretenders worldwide, especially in Western Europe .)

Nine is strangely identified with the qualities of adamancy and pride that are the characteristics of Lucifer, the most intelligent angel surpassed only by God. The uneasy potency of this number, however, is limited to the institutional structure of the religious group. In fact, the actual ritual symbol of Bahai is the pentagram.

The God-Lucifer dichotomy has earlier roots in Zoroastrian dualistic philosophy of a cosmos divided between the god of light Ohrmadz (Ahura Mazda) and his doppelganger Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), prince of darkness. This duality helps to explain the hostility of the Bahai founders toward Islam and Zoroastrianism, and their willing affiliation with the Illuminati and Kabbalist-influenced Zionism. To substitute Lucifer-as-usurper in the stead of God the good requires distancing from the fallen angel's evil image as Satan, whose reputation Bahai has done its best to rehabilitate, sanitize and salvage.

This brings up the question: Is Lucifer aka Ahriman, No.10? Are these cultists devil worshippers? To put things more charitably, the Bahai along with the Illuminati put highest esteem on pure reason (in rejection of the charismatic nature a and capricious will of a God who imposes tough rules on mankind.) Lucifer, without his terrifying image as Satan, is an adamant hero who teaches humans to be proud of themselves, to stand tall and not to grovel before a morally oppressive and restrictive divinity of the orthodox priesthood. A defender of reason, Lucifer can therefore be the rightful God of mankind to one who is a heretic deviating from Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.

Illuminati of the Oxford Movement

It is no odd coincidence then that veneration of the evening star is shared by the seemingly disconnected cults of Illuminism and Bahai The historical links between these two cults can be found in Hermano Maximiliano's ''Freemasonry, the British Empire and the Formation of the Baha'I Cult''. In a cultural crusade to preserve British imperial power, a group of elite academics formed the Oxford Movement, which promoted radical new religious leaders across the Muslim world, particularly Bahai founder Bahaullah. (The Roman Empire underestimated the growing influence of religions from the Orient, including Christianity, which led to its collapse, and the Oxford Movement was determined to avoid that fatal ideological mistake.}

In a classic divide-and-rule exercise, Bahai was created as a ''super-faith'' that amalgamated the teachings of all world religions, and therefore deserve to replace Islam with a ''one world faith.'' It was in the interest of British imperialism in Iran and the Middle East to weaken the influence of Islam and to gain control over the Shia-promoted trend of emerging nationalism.

''Although it began as an experimental British foray in non-religious freemasonic cults, the Bahai movement would spawn the organizer of the future pan-Islamic movement, Jamaleddine Al-Afghani,'' writes to Maximiliano. An early advocate of Bahai, Al-Afghani went on to form the Salafi school of fundamentalist Islam, which provided the ideological foundation for the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.

The British spymasters who fostered Bahai and Salafism included Orientalist scholar Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Cambridge dean Edward G. Browne, while field operations with the Wahabi Salafists were led by St. John Philby.(Blunt's grand-nephew Anthony, art adviser to Queen Elizabeth II, and Philby's descendant Kim were leading members of the celebrated Oxford spy ring.) Besides the penchant for the occult and pederasty, heresy runs deep in the Oxbridge circle. (www.arabamericanencyclopedia.com) offers a good read on the Oxford Movement and Bahai.)In contrast to Salafism, which openly calls for a theocratic state, Bahai operates covertly behind the scenes to manipulate politicians and opinion leaders. For instance, unbeknownst to the public, Pierre Omidyar provided his private jet to fly State Department officials incognito for talks with Hamas and also transported former President Jimmy Carter to Tehran for secret diplomacy.

Fatwa Against Bahai

Behind the public pose of peacemaking, Bahai's role has not always been benign. In August, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa against contact with Bahai, following the discovery that terrorist cells included Bahai operatives. The term ''Iranian Freemasons'' recurrently arises whenever U.S. neoconservatives hatch plans to attack Iran . It has also been a mystery of how the criminal terrorist group Mujaheedeen Al-Khalq obtained the funding to build a mini-army inside neighboring Iraq and mounted elaborate assassination campaigns in Iran .

One incident familiar to this writer was the so-called Iranian bombing in Bangkok in 2012, which were attributed to the Tehran regime. (Two suspects were convicted in August by a Thai court.) The key figure in this incident was an Iranian woman with a Jewish family name, who managed to flee immediately after inadvertent blast damaged a safe house. At the time, her escape pointed to an Israeli connection, as the planned attacks were timed to match a Mossad international campaign to offer security services and training to Asian governments.

Alliance with Israel

Bahai's closest international ally is the State of Israel. Nearly every Israeli president and prime minister has made an official homage to the Shrine of Bab at the Bahai World Center in Haifa . Why would the head of the Jewish state honor a new religion that claims to be the world's supreme belief?

One motivation is the ''enemy of my enemy'' alliance, since both Bahai and Zionist are sworn to regime change in Iran . Another, historically deeper connection is the role of Jewish Kabbalism in the creation of the Bahai sect. Although developed in Al-Andalus, the Moorish realm in late-medieval/early Renaissance Spain, the Kabbala has earlier origins in the alchemistry, numerology, astronomy and philosophy of Persia and Mesopotamia as developed by Jewish, Islamic and Indian thinkers.

These early scientific explorations led to syncretism of the respective religious beliefs and occult doctrines, often expressed as sub-schools of Sufism. The syncretistic approach was especially favored by Donmeh Jews, the disciples of Sabbatai Zevi who became superficial converts to Islam under orders from Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV.The various streams of hidden Jewish thought, which spread through the vast Islamic domain, eventually made its way into Europe with the Frankist movement and the Asiatic Brotherhood secret society, which profoundly influenced major figures such as Emperor Joseph of the Habsburgs (husband of Maria Theresa, ''Queen of the Night'' in Mozart's ''Magic Flute'') and the German princes of Hesse (Frankfurt region) whose banker was Mayer Rothschild, founder of the powerful Jewish banking dynasty. The merger of Kabbalist practices, including sexual libertinism, with Enlightenment philosophy led to Adam Weiskopf's formation of the Order of the Illuminati.

During the era of British world mastery, following the defeats of Napoleonic France, the English Illuminati scholars enchanted with Orientalism reintroduced Kabbalist occultism to the Near East among the Young Turks led by Ataturk, the Bahai and the Salafists. The Rothschild clan's financing of Zionism promoted ties with and recruitment of hidden Jews across the Muslim realm, cementing a close relationship between Bahai and Israel as well as between Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Mossad.

The official Bahai account paints themselves as victims of Shia Muslim persecution and pogroms, whereas the historical causes of nationalist opposition to the Bahai are more complicated. The Bahai were generally supportive of the Shahs of Iran before and after the CIA coup against the democratic Mosaddeqh regime, which nationalized the Iranian oil reserves. Bahai advisers to the court of successive Shahs promoted the secularization of Iranian society in order to banish Islamic values and undermine the nationalist Shia clergy. For Iranian nationalists, however, both secular and religious-inspired, the Shah's regime was a tool for Western control over Iran 's immense oil reserves. The Bahai are thus perceived as agents of the CIA and MI-6, which in fact many of their leaders actually were.

Occult Triangle

The triangular relationship of the Disraeli/Rothschid '' Oxford Movement '' Bahai/Salafism of the 19th is now being reflected in the Snowden affair with the collusion of the Zionism/Greenwald '' Guardian/Royalist '' Bahai/Omidyar. History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as a farce.

As Israel edges toward a first-strike attack against Iran , while ramping up its covert wars against Iranian influence in Sudan and Palestine , is it any wonder that Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald are preparing to launch a major online propaganda mouthpiece? Is this new media venture, too, part of the Bahai plan to prepare for the imminent End of the World to be delivered by an unstoppable contagion of super-flu?

Instead of playing dangerous games, Pierre Omidyar is far better off in the luxury of fiction where he belongs rather than sentencing himself to hard labor at journalism. To lead the budding writer to the fabled shores of epic poetry and apocalyptic scenarios, let me guide him without personal ill will to his literary destiny with this short-short story of epic dimension, salted with plagiarism and peppered with cultural chauvinism, inspired by a world-renowned figure of ancient Persia whose ambitions were nearly as grand as his.

Whenever history reaches an impasse, onto the desolate field of the forum rumbles a juggernaut bearing a demigod who showers silver coins on his new subjects like droplets of water for the thirsty. At this hour of desperate survival, citizens, spurn the siren song of obedience, for even power-obsessed Xerxes and his cruel cohort of Immortals proved weak in spirit when bloodied between the stony heights and unfathomable depths. Cunning in the sophistry of One World at Peace, the satraps of empire are masters of the dark arts of treachery and betrayal as taught by their uncanny master Angra Mainyu.

Today, the beast again approaches to snuff out the world's one hope for reason and justice, the voice of truth arising from faith in the heart. The overwhelming odds of their 250 million pieces of silver against our 300 in bronze mean an even contest, for the difference will be tallied in righteous ferocity and deeds of glory.

Freedom is won only by those who have faced the blood rage of the wolves and have known the Spartan conditions of this real world of hungry villages and dying towns. The privileged perspective from gilded chariots and vast palaces under the protection of princes delivers only delusion, enslavement and slaughter.

Freedom is for those who earn it by sacrifice, we few, the brave and happy few. Remember us. Here, at the crux of history where bards sing of hard choices, is the unforgiving soil of liberty, not a perfumed Persian garden of delights. On this rosy dawn, they come to see and to conquer. But at twilight begins the eternal night in the hell that they so fear. For us, descended from the bringer of light Apollo who in the East is called Ahura Mazda, bravery in battle and virtue in death are the greatest joys this life can bestow. Give thanks. To Victory!

Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong-based journalist who wrote commentaries on the Edward Snowden affair published in the South China Morning Post, is former editor of The Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo and Pacific News Service in San Francisco .

The Rancid Honeytrap | O Rancid Sector of the extreme left'...

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 14:54

Among the many things I have grown to detest about the Snowden Leaks spectacle is that for every heavily redacted page that's been revealed '-- a meagre ~300 pages in five months according to Cryptome.org '-- we rubes seem to get at least twenty, sometimes very stern, lessons in proper whistleblowing from the the Leaker, the Leak Keepers, the Leak Keeper inner circle, and soldiers in the sycophant army that doltishly parrot and hype everything these people say. The lesson is as follows:

1. Don't ever just dump your leaks on the internet.2. Make sure your leaks are properly vetted and mediated by proper mainstream journalists.

This lesson is often, perhaps even usually, stated as, or with, some variation of the following:

Don't be like Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, that is, indiscriminate, reckless and dangerous to both national security and human life.

We first received this lesson on day number one, when The Guardian introduced us to new, improved, ever-so-meticulous document leaker Snowden '-- just as Manning went to trial '-- and we have been hearing it ever since.

Yesterday, while the Leaknoscenti were breathlessly insisting on how horrible and ever-so-important it is that European leaders are under the same surveillance regime as EVERYONE ELSE ON EARTH, the Washington Post announced:

U.S. officials are alerting some foreign intelligence services that documents detailing their secret cooperation with the United States have been obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to government officials.

This seems like a trumped-up warning to people like German Chancellor Angela Merkel to dial back the righteous indignation just a bit lest subsequent disclosures implicate them as both collaborators and hypocrites. But since elite vs. elite NSA hijinx don't interest me at all, let's fast forward to the obligatory, and in this case, quite long lesson the same article provided in proper whistleblowing:

''[Snowden] made it quite clear that he was not going to compromise legitimate national intelligence and national security operations,'' said Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive.

Indeed, Drake said, Snowden made clear in their conversation that he had learned the lessons of prior disclosures, including those by an Army private who passed hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which posted them in bulk online. ''It's telling,'' Drake said, ''that he did not give anything to WikiLeaks.''

I sometimes wonder, does Snowden ever have a conversation where he does not remark upon the crucial differences between himself and Manning? That is, when he is not imparting his truly bizarre and toxic understanding of democracy and human rights, which summarizes as secrecy about mass surveillance is a greater evil than mass surveillance? I also wonder if, when he does this, is he also the one imparting the equally mandatory mischaracterization of what Manning and Wikileaks actually did with the cables '-- here stated as 'posted them in bulk online' '' or are his intermediaries ladling that in on top?

For emphasis, WaPo trots out the Guardian article where this lengthy lesson first began and quotes it at length:

Snowden has instructed the reporters with whom he has shared records to use their judgment to avoid publishing anything that would cause harm. ''I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,'' he told the Guardian newspaper. ''There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is.''

Yes Ed is such a good whistleblower '-- so very un-Manningly responsible! '-- and as such has received the endorsement of no less an expert on proper surveillance state undermining than WaPo's own Richard Cohen, who, prior to jumping on board the whistleblowing train, was a living parody of power worshiping shitbaggery. In his recent 'Edward Snowden is No Traitor' column, Cohen recanted his prior excoriation of Snowden, writing:

He has been careful with his info, doling it out to responsible news organizations '-- The Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, etc. '-- and not tossing it up in the air, WikiLeaks style, and echoing the silly mantra ''Information wants to be free.'' (No. Information, like most of us, wants a home in the Hamptons.)

And now this latest article in WaPo shows that approval for Snowden's methods goes to the highest level, to the surveillance apparatus itself:

It is those documents that may not be subject to journalistic vetting or may be breached by hackers that worry some intelligence officials.

Fans of Drip Drip Drippery, please do read that again and then savor this, from the same article, which exaggerators, both pro and con, of the awesome disruptive power of Wikileaks are encouraged to ruminate on also:

In the case of WikiLeaks, the State Department had a number of months to assess the potential impact of the cables' release and devise a strategy, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

To review, working backwards: The State Department, intelligence officials, and the living embodiment of everything vile in the Washington press establishment are in agreement that slow leaking to a small array of news sources featuring multiple layers of responsible vetting is just peachy. Well then, haven't we formed a most powerful alliance against the surveillance apparatus, when even officials from that apparatus and their flacks agree with our methods? This is some serious 11-dimensional chess kinda leaking going on right here.

So now that the credibility Snowden and co have so assiduously sought pursuant to The Debate' is a fait accompli, can we at last pull back the veil of silence on these Manning comparisons? Specifically can we talk about how they rest on a lie? Can we then also insist more loudly on how objectionable they are, not simply because they smear Manning and distort her legacy, but because they preemptively smear and distort future whistleblowing that doesn't pass muster with insider douchebags like Richard Cohen and various intelligence officials?

I have gone over elsewhere how the reported size of Edward Snowden's document trove keeps changing. But I fear I have crunched the numbers too little out loud to make my point plain. Let's say the trove consists only of the 50,000+ Snowden documents the New York Times recently said it received from The Guardian. Since these documents are only the documents about the GCHQ, no doubt the entire Snowden collection spread across the Times, The Guardian, Gellman, and Greenwald/Poitras is many tens of thousands of documents bigger than that.

But for arguments sake, let's restrict ourselves to the Times' trove. And also for the sake of argument, let's assume that by some weird good fortune, each document Snowden selected for review passed his test for inclusion, despite how completely unlikely this is. If you assume that from 2009 to when he leaked, Snowden spent every working day of four 50-week years meticulously selecting documents, and that each document he looked at ended up in the trove (unlikely, verging on impossible), he would have had to review 50-60 documents per working day. Remember, we are talking about 'documents' not pages, and that they are, in Greenwald's words, 'very, very complete and very long.' It is not simply unlikely that Snowden vetted each of these documents. It is impossible. Which means that, from the standpoint of selecting documents, he is not different from Manning at all. So how about everyone stop saying that he is, ok, starting with Snowden himself.

I have been saying things along these lines for a while now, and have been fascinated by the number of people who privately share a lot of my concerns '' shock and disappointment about the Manning comparisons started immediately '' while also disclosing their misgivings about airing their concerns publicly. Isn't that extraordinary? We are having a debate about transparency, in which people who have concerns about how that debate is being mediated are literally afraid to speak up, for fear of how it might impact their social capital or their credibility. Clearly this is not really a debate at all. By design. Which is all the more reason for people to speak up.

Update

I am glad that this post has provoked people who have so far pretty much stood down on the Leak Keepers' incessant Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower lesson to take it up more vocally. However, if this post has inspired you to insist on how well Manning/Wikileaks meet the Edward Snowden/Richard Cohen benchmarks for proper whistleblowing, you have missed my point entirely. To the extent that Wikileaks meets this standard '-- and they do, to a point, mostly by way of withholding so much information or delaying its release '-- they are problematic in my view, and certainly the appreciation shown them by the State Department's P. J. Crowley for delaying Cablegate (cited above) makes my point.

The point of this post is to draw attention to the Leak Keepers' incessant and toxic campaign to promote a standard for proper whistleblowing and their shamelessness in building this campaign on what appears to be an obvious lie. It's hard to point out this lie without at the same time implicitly, and quite wrongly conceding that the accusation contained in the lie '-- that Manning and WL just dumped unfiltered, unredacted data '' is genuinely damning. But if you are accepting that the State and its media lackeys are within their rights to set or ratify standards for dissent, and you are arguing for how your dissidence meets the State's standard, you've already lost the argument. It was ok that Manning didn't review every single document and it's ok that clearly Snowden didn't either.

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Edward Snowden's Incredible Mutating Document Trove | The Rancid Honeytrap

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:54

Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'

'' Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman

Enlarging on a point I made in this update to my last post, I offer a sampling of all the varying tales told by the Leak Keepers and others on just how many documents Snowden gave them. When reading these accounts, keep the following in mind:

1. A writer at the Cryptome site recently estimated that at current rates of disclosure, it will take 26 years for the Guardian to reveal all of Snowden's documents. That estimate was based on an estimate from Greenwald of 15,000 documents, which we now know to be false. The trove is at minimum five times that size and probably much larger.

As savvy reader Paley Chayd pointed out, Cryptome generously equated the vague Leak Keeper word, 'document' with the more precise, 'page.' Chayd also noted that in Greenwald's tirade here recently, he claimed that he and his colleagues had published 'hundreds' of documents. According to Cryptome, they have published no more than 300 unique pages, a figure that consolidates everything published in the US, British, Brazilian and German press.

2. When The Guardian introduced Snowden to the world, they stressed the meticulousness with which he chose the documents, and emphasized, offensively really, the extent to whichthis distinguished him from Chelsea Manning, whose trial had just begun. This emphasis on Snowden's meticulousness, which was picked up immediately by the mainstream press, certainly suggested a relatively small trove, since large troves can not be meticulously gone through by single, better-than-Manning whistleblowers with limited time.

3. Only four news organizations have unlimited access to any part of what looks like a rather large trove: The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and ProPublica. Greenwald has made his lack of interest in distributing documents to other news organizations quite plain. That means whatever we learn about these documents will come through these organizations, plus whatever Greenwald and his colleague Laura Poitras write in partnership with other news organizations and publishing houses.

4. The New York Times received over 50,000 documents two months ago. They have published one story based on The Snowden Leaks so far. Now is a good time to remember that when The New York Times had custodianship over parts of Cablegate, then editor Bill Keller bragged that he checked with the White House before publishing anything. Greenwald had some thoughts on this at the time, which Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting quoted in this write-up on Keller. Considering Greenwald's and The Guardian's current conduct, and FAIR's entirely unsurprising, cowardly silence about it, it's amusingly ironic and instructive.

Now, at last, the tale of the living, growing document trove, as told by various news reports:

The Guardian, June 9, 2013

[Snowden:]''I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,''

Morning Joe, June 10, 2013

Thomas Roberts: What makes Bradley Manning any different from Edward Snowden . . . because Manning is widely considered to be a traitor and not a whistleblower?

Greenwald: '... if you ask [Snowden] what the difference is, he will say that he spent months meticulously studying every document. When he handed us those documents they were all in very detailed files by topic. He had read over every single one and used his expertise to make judgments about what he thought should be public''and then didn't just upload them to the internet''he gave them to journalists who, he knew, and wanted to go through them each one by one and make journalistic judgments about what should be public and what wasn't, so that harm wouldn't come gratuitously, but that the public would be informed, and that he was very careful and meticulous about doing that.

Der Spiegel, July 13, 2013

[Greenwald] told [German news show] host Reinhold Beckmann that he and journalist Laura Poitras had obtained full sets of the documents during a trip to Hong Kong, with around 9,000 to 10,000 top secret documents in total.

MSNBC, July 17, 2013

''I think there's a real misconception over whether he'll continue to leak,'' Greenwald said. ''He turned over to us many thousands of documents weeks and weeks ago back in Hong Kong'... As far as I know he doesn't have any intention of disclosing any more documents to us.''

AFP, August 6, 2013

''I did not do an exact count, but he gave me 15,000, 20,000 documents. Very, very complete and very long,'' Greenwald said, responding to questions from [Brazilian] lawmakers.

The Telegraph, August 30, 2013

Oliver Robbins, the deputy national security adviser for intelligence, security and resilience in the Cabinet Office, said in his 13-page submission: ''The information that has been accessed [from the siezure of David Miranda's belongings at Heathrow] consists entirely of misappropriated material in the form of approximately 58,000 highly classified UK intelligence documents.

The New York Times, September 5, 2013

The documents are among more than 50,000 shared by The Guardian with The New York Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit news organization. They focus on GCHQ but include thousands from or about the N.S.A.

There you have it, folks: from 9,000 meticulously chosen docs to many times that in just four months. Clearly, The Leak Keepers lied, which is something they seem very inclined to do, and which seems particularly revolting in light of the all the un-Manning shenanigans. More importantly, the surveilled people of the world '-- and by that I mean everyone '-- are never going to see most of those docs. Three cheers for old media, doing what old media always do.

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Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It | The Rancid Honeytrap

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 16:07

As a prelude to reopening discussion on my problem with the Leak Keepers, here's a little light entertainment in the form of Shit I Have Recently Learned Presumably Intelligent People Believe:

1. The engine of all change with respect to a huge, unaccountable, global surveillance apparatus is a 'debate' aiming at changes in 'policy.'

2. Despite the global in 'global mass surveillance' the engine of The Debate is the U.S. news cycle.

3. One wrong move with respect to The News Cycle and it's goodbye Debate! Goodbye change!

4. Glenn Greenwald possesses a near God-like understanding of The News Cycle and thereby keeps himself and The Debate crucially injected therein.

5. Greenwald's mastery of The News Cycle owes to the patented Drip Drip method of painfully slow leaking, which keeps the story hot and the NSA in complete agony.

6. Glenn Greenwald's virtues, particularly his mastery of The News Cycle by way of the patented Drip Drip method, are so rare and important it justifies his and The Guardian's near monopoly on NSA leaks, no matter what he or his shady, subservient editors say or do; no matter how much their reformist politics, narrow interests, ambitions and convenience dictate tactics, priorities and timing; nor how objectionable a monopoly on state secrets affecting billions of people is on principle.

There really is quite a lot wrong with this picture. Right off the top, I don't share the popular view that everything we want from whistleblowing is subordinate to the news-driven debate. But let's put that on hold for the moment, for the sake of showing that even if one accepts the primacy of The Debate and The News Cycle, most of the arguments for leak hoarding have the unmistakable scent of bullshit to them.

Let's first off dispense with the idiotic idea that this alleged water torture of the NSA has any method to it. For one thing, these stories take a long time to produce. Before they see daylight, the very small number of journalists working on them have to read a large number of documents, many of which are hard to aggregate and understand without technical assistance. For a glimpse of how difficult and time-consuming this is, see this interview with staff from ProPublica about the two months they spent working on the recent piece about encryption.

Once written, the stories certainly go through multiple reviews by layers of editors and risk-averse lawyers. At some point in the process, The Leak Keepers must carefully select the NSA documents that will be published alongside the stories, mindful of potential 'threats to national security' '' you know, that thing that no one but the NSA gives a shit about '-- and redacting accordingly. Finally, The Leak Keepers must consult with the NSA and the White House, not simply for comment, but for any concerns they may have about national security.

There is also the matter of money and prestige, which clearly no one wants to talk about, since ambition gets in the way of the warm fuzzy feelings corporate-mediated David and Goliath spectacles are supposed to produce. But certainly whatever slows disclosure down also keeps the information commercially valuable longer, so The Leak Keepers must at the very least occasionally feel glad that this publishing 'method', that we're to understand so deftly plays both the news cycle and the last nerves of the NSA, also greatly limits the competition for exclusives, Pulitzers, book/movie deals, contracts for stories with other news outlets and advertising revenue.

I know, cynical me. But does anyone else wonder if their interests and Greenwald's always coincide when they read stuff like this ''

Greenwald's publisher, Metropolitan Books, announced early Thursday that [his] as-yet-untitled book will [contain] '...''new revelations exposing the extraordinary cooperation of private industry''

and consider how the 'cooperation of private industry' '-- which, to me, is easily as critical as anything else '' is always strikingly vague in Greenwald's Guardian stories, like the PRISM stories, for instance? Will Greenwald's book answer the question of direct access definitively? If so, why the wait? Will we see any of the many slides he and his colleagues, in their infinite wisdom, withheld? Well we won't know until next year, when Greenwald's book drops. Of course, we'll also never know what agreements he's made with his publisher about withholding disclosures to keep the those 'new revelations' new, because, y'know, transparency is for other people.

In any event, between commercial interests and the plain old difficulty of writing this shit up, clearly THERE IS NO FUCKING DRIP DRIP METHOD, and it's cringe-makingly foolish for the savvy knowing knowers on the outside, and outright dishonest for the book deal makers on the inside, to insist that there is. So stop it, already.

Still, one may ask, even if the slow drip isn't intentional, is it nonetheless possible that the claims made for it are true? Here's what Greenwald said in comments here on this blog a few weeks back ''

1. A mass dump gives the NSA an opportunity to 'demonize and distract attention away from [the leaks'] substance.'

2. (Quoting verbatim) 'A staggered release prevents the NSA and its defenders from knowing what is coming, so [that] things that are untrue that you can then prove are untrue, and it also prevents them from developing effective neutralizing strategies.

Here's what Greenwald said around the time Snowden was having asylum problems:

''Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,'' '...

''The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.''

So which Greenwald should we believe? Perhaps the NSA can break the tie by way of this from Barton Gellman's prolix 'Mass surveillance is Really Fucking Expensive!' WaPo 'exclusive':

The [NSA and other intelligence agencies] had budgeted for a major counterintelligence initiative in fiscal 2012, but most of those resources were diverted to an all-hands emergency response to successive floods of classified data released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Obviously, Greenwald and the NSA are in agreement '-- at least some of the time '-- that a less meticulously managed gush of secrets is really not something the NSA relishes, which is what any reasonably intelligent person would guess if left unmolested by ambitious opinion leaders and their sycophants.

So let's be realistic, then, about the game being played here.

It's rather naive, and maybe even grandiose for people on the left to think that on the rare occasions when their concerns land on successive front pages of The New York Times and on CNN, this is due to the supernatural savvy of a Greenwald, rather than that people in high places are very ok with certain information getting out and certain debates taking place. To quote myself on the 'miracle' of Chris Hayes:

'...there are no miracles on cable news networks co-owned by defense contractors and cable monopolists; there aren't even happy accidents'...

That statement has become less controversial over time as Hayes proves himself a more shamelessly servile tool than even I'd originally claimed. So it's vexing that people who rightly reject the preposterous idea that an 'unabashed man of the left' has talked his way into corporate media don't wonder at all why Greenwald is suddenly all over television strangling Jeffrey Toobin and David Gregory with their own assholes. Greenwald himself is 'genuinely amazed that it's gone as well as it has' as is Snowden and all their colleagues.

Hey, maybe we're having this debate because people in high places want us to!

I certainly don't believe the conspiracy theory that Snowden is a CIA warrior in a turf dispute with the NSA, but its conception of competing crime syndicates is truer in broad strokes than the left wing vision of power as one undifferentiated mass of united malice. People who use 'NSA' and 'the government' and 'the oligarchs' interchangeably and within that framework see Snowden and Greenwald as gatecrashers are seriously missing the point. Along with rival agencies and corporate elites who covet a bigger share of post 9/11 loot and power, there are certainly those who realize how the NSA's virtually unlimited snooping capabilities give the agency and its friends a tremendous amount of deal-breaking leverage. Surely the destruction of General Petraeus based on the FBI's snooping in his girlfriend's emails made a few elite hairs stand on end. Where elites are concerned, totalitarianism, like law, is for other people. A failure to come to grips with this is a failure to comprehend the scope of the NSA threat.

From this perspective, then, comparisons of Snowden to Manning, who is the mostly unnamed subject of Greenwald's broken record about dumping, are both unfair and irrelevant. Manning was blowing the whistle on American foreign policy, which weighs much more lightly on American imaginations, particularly elite imaginations, than the prospect of NSA analysts jerking off to their pics, stalking them online, stealing their business secrets, blackmailing them or sending them to jail forever over a hyperlink.

It was almost certainly the story Manning wanted to tell that made her non-newsworthy except as a bad example, not the way she attempted to tell it, and no amount of Greenwaldian media savvy could have made her something else. Therefore, depending on how invested certain elites are in constraining the NSA, it's unlikely that Snowden or Greenwald could do anything that would kill any discussion important people want to have, though Greenwald/Snowden could certainly do something that would reduce their stature in it.

For the moment, Greenwald is the perfect point man for a neatly circumscribed debate in which elite interests and public interests coincide, with his wide-eyed faith in reform through government policy; his zeal, from day one, to helpfully delineate between good whistleblowing (Snowden) and bad (Manning); his uncritical genuflections to the idea of 'national security'; his willingness to redact and withhold; his anodyne preoccupation with 'privacy' to the exclusion of malfeasance; the relatively high credibility he has with harder lefts and libertarians, now rubbing off on, and immunizing, the clowns at the Guardian; and last, but certainly not least, for the determination with which he and his cultish fans smack down critics calling for more leaks, more technical information, less redacting, less subservience and greater accountability. In short, Greenwald has proven a surprisingly capable gatekeeper, whether he sees himself as such or not.

Given that the leaks are now out there, can the NSA and its proxies be anything but sincerely grateful that the kind of resistance developing right now in Brazil and Germany isn't exploding all over the world for no reason but that Greenwald and his colleague Laura Poitras live and work in Brazil and Germany and aren't sharing the leaks with journalists elsewhere ? Can they be anything but glad that Greenwald, when confronted by security experts begging for more technical information '-- because they want to fight the NSA with software rather than debate it on the evening news '-- lectures them on how that's really not a priority, that is, when he's not doling out shit like this?

@x7o @nvrqt One day, I hope Snowden gathers the courage that you have shown the world in order to fight the National Security State.'--Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 10, 2013

I'm certainly sympathetic that there are all kinds of things weighing on Greenwald, Poitras, Snowden and their colleagues, not least fear of more government reprisal. But I don't think this explains everything they're doing given the extent to which they stonewall and contradict themselves. Considering that this whole thing is at least in part about transparency, and that Greenwald is one of transparency's most vocal advocates, the extent to which we're all left guessing about what they're up to, and made to feel like shitty little ingrates if we do anything but applaud, is really not good.

When I took this all up after Alan Rusbridger 's weird, meandering, and long-overdue blog post about harassment by Cameron's goons, I posited a dump of the leaks on Cryptome as a possible alternative. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake if only because it plays too easily into a false dichotomy that Greenwald invokes every time he or his colleagues are criticized.

So I am going to concede that for reasons of Snowden's safety among other things, we're stuck with a paternalistic system we have, but I am not going to concede that its current form is the only shape it can take. I feel that people should continue to put pressure on Greenwald and co to do things differently, and when they refuse, to press them on why.

To put this on more concrete footing, I am offering the following questions.

1. Considering what's happening in Brazil and Germany right now, is there a sound strategic reason why Greenwald and Poitras have tasked themselves with writing the stories for non-UK/US markets, rather than distributing leaks to partners in other countries for more efficient propagation? I understand that Greenwald is now branching out into India and Poitras is also working in another country. That's great, but considering that by Greenwald/Poitras's own account, the NSA has 150 listening posts around the world, a drip drip strategy seems particularly ill-advised and, at first glance at least, unethical.

2. When choosing partners in the US, why did the Guardian choose the New York Times, with its abysmal record on Wikileaks and on truth-telling generally? If, for some reason, Snowden wants to keep this under the auspices of establishment journalism, could he be encouraged to open it up to less dubious institutions, like say, McClatchey? Are there any plans to seek out additional partners?

3. Considering that a lot of people in the security field are starting to resent the withholding of technical information that would assist them in building tools to circumvent the NSA, are there any plans to distribute the leaks to engineers so that technical measures for resisting the NSA can be improved and so that more specialized stories are available to technicians?

4. To what extent, if any, are commercial considerations affecting the timing and placement of the leaks? What financial dealings, if any, have potential to cause conflicts of interest?

Having asked these questions, I fully expect to be frothed on and trolled by Greenwald's revoltingly dimwitted fans and various people who are clearly way more invested in the David and Goliath spectacle than in genuinely confronting the problem of establishment-managed dissent. For the last few posts, I engaged with them. This time I won't. I also won't entertain more bullshit from Greenwald or his clownish editors, nor should you.

UPDATE

This piece just got a mention in D.J. Pangburn's Vice interview with Sci-Fi Author Norman Spinrad. (Hi Vice readers!!!) Since Vice has one of those horrible comment sections restricted to Facebook users I was unable to reply on the post directly, so I will do so here:

DJ ''

As the blogger who criticized Greenwald's methods, I appreciate the mention, but not the mischaracterization of my post. I did not criticize Greenwald's 'god like awareness'. That phrase was used to characterize his adherents' tendency to imbue him with special qualities to justify his top-down, elitist approach to whistleblowing. And if you read the piece all the way to the end, you'll see that I did not advocate 'putting it all out there.' I advocated more rapid distribution of the leaks to other journalists and technicians.

I do very much appreciate that between you and Spinrad, though, you completely typify everything I was ridiculing at the top of my post. I am also glad that, like me, Spinrad recognizes Greenwald's vigilance with respect to national security interests. His credibility-enhancing 'Manning is nuts' is the icing on the cake. Thanks!!!

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Uncle! Uncle!

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: a.nolen

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:22

Hanging out with Jacob?

Well, we've come full circle. Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are teaming up with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to start their own news media outlet.

Cards on the table: Pierre Omidyar is a technology billionaire who runs in the same circles as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his chess partner Warren Buffet. Omidyar's non-profits fund projects like ''Ushahidi'', from Pierre's bio at achievement.org (no laughing!):

Among other Omidyar family philanthropies, the Omidyar Network supports the creators of the emergency communication technology Ushahidi (Swahili for ''testimony''), an application which allows users to create maps from data submitted by cell phone users'... Crowdmap, a free user-friendly web-based version of the application is now available online, thanks to the support of the Omidyar Network.

''Ushadhidi'' reminds me of the program Morgan Freeman's character threatened to quit Wayne Enterprises over in The Dark Knight.

Pierre, God says it's unethical.

The information above ought to be enough to blow this new media venture's credibility out of the water. But it gets better.

Pierre recently teamed up with Arianna Huffington to make HuffPost Hawaii, check out their totally chummy pics here. I was in D.C. when the HuffPo mother-ship was launched: Craig's List was heavy with Arianna's ads searching for journalists to staff her outfit. This gave rise to to innumerable ''gently used'' journalism jokes, because well, there were a lot of out-of-work journalists in town and why would Huffington want to shake up the fourth estate?

So thanks to Pierre, HuffPo's disappointing journalism now has a Pacific outlet. A lot of funky stuff seems to go down in Hawaii. Sort of like D.C.'s home away from home.

Yes, I believe that whatever Omidyar's media venture is, it's not a spontaneous gift to truth in journalism. Why have somebody like Pierre Omidyar be the face of the money?

Well, let's see. He's ethnically Iranian, but his parents enjoyed a privileged life in Paris. Pierre was born in 1967 and the family moved to Potomac when he was a boy'' gee, that would be sometime around the Iranian Revolution. Potomac is a tony D.C. suburb, favored by people who get rich off the federal government. Pierre went to good schools nearby and started working for Apple Computer.

Then, magically, he founded eBay and could quit his day job. There were a few strange detours along the way, as documented by Jennifer Viegas in Pierre Omidyar: The Founder of Ebay:

The http://www.ebay.com site also linked to a page on the Ebola virus. Called Ebola Information, the page had all sorts of links and information pertaining to the deadly disease. It is unclear why Omidyar created the page. Regardless, there is an apparent similarity between the words ''Ebola'' and ''eBay''.

Er, yeah Jennifer. Or maybe it has something to do with his eventual 'charitable' interest in AFRICOMAfrica.

And then there's the little PayPal thing:

In 2002, eBay acquired the online payment processing firm PayPal, which it uses to process most of its online transactions, compelling many online sellers to employ the service.

In 2011 Paypal refused to handle donations to Wikileaks. Why? PayPal froze Wikileaks' assets after it released stolen US diplomatic cables.

Step back a minute here, Laura. I would have thought that at least you were smarter than this. Better find something Pierre said BACK THEN to distance himself from the Paypal decision, PRONTO.

Does it make any sense for me to go on, or have I made my point about Greenwald's/Poitras'/Scahill's latest move?

Just one more. Jeremy Scahill, famous from Democracy Now!, was outside Slobodan Milosevic's house the night the Serbian leader was arrested. Wow! Any journalist with prescience like that must be'... smart and hard working!

Hear the gospel, Whistle-blowers: now you can find Laura at her own media venue! Come one come all! One stop shopping! (Pun intended.)

The Russians just have to be in here somewhere'... but, in the meantime, my sides hurt from laughing! It makes me want to shout'...

Photo thanks to Jim Griffith. My opinions are mine alone.

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Two New Journalists Join the Team '' Omidyar Group

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Archived Version

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 02:22

We're very excited to announce two new members joining our team: Dan Froomkin and Liliana Segura. Dan and Liliana will work alongside Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and me as we develop our new venture with Pierre Omidyar.

Dan Froomkin is a veteran journalist who has received national acclaim for his writing about U.S. politics and media coverage. He's been particularly focused on the issue of journalistic accountability '' i.e. correcting misinformation, asking critical questions, and holding those in power accountable to their actions.

He was preparing to launch a website called FearlessMedia.org when we approached him about working with us. Before that, he was senior Washington correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post. During 12 years working for The Washington Post, he spent three as editor and six as the writer of the popular and controversial White House Watch column. Dan has also worked since 2004 for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, most of that time as deputy editor of the NiemanWatchdog.org website.

Liliana Segura is journalist and editor with a longtime focus on prisons, prisoners, and the failings and excesses of the U.S. criminal justice system''from wrongful convictions to the death penalty. She covered these and other issues most recently as an editor at The Nation Magazine, where she edited a number of award-winning stories. Previously she was a senior editor at AlterNet, where she was in charge of civil liberties coverage during the early days of Obama's presidency. She is on the board of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Applied Research Center, a U.S. racial justice think tank.

Both embody the core attributes of our new venture. We are looking very forward to working with them in building our team further.

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Forget Gravity, she's got gravitas: George Clooney's new female friend is British barrister Amal Alamuddin | Mail Online

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Archived Version

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:30

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 17:26 EST, 28 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:26 EST, 28 October 2013

He was recently spotted out with a mystery lady, sending the rumour mill into overdrive.

But Hollywood bachelor George Clooney was clearly looking for a companion who did more than just look the part.

The dapper actor, 52, enjoyed a civilised dinner at Berners Tavern with acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin, we can reveal.

Who's that girl? George Clooney left Berners Tavern with a mystery woman in London on Thursday

Lady in red: Amal was seen dining with George in a very exclusive London restaurant

The brunette beauty specialises in international law, human rights, extradition and criminal law. Interestingly, she is currently representing Julian Assange, head of Wikileaks, in his extradition proceedings with Sweden.

She has also been appointed an advisor to Kofi Annan - something which George is sure to have found interesting.

Something he also would have found compelling was the fact she was named the hottest UK barrister in an online poll.

Suited up: George looked dapper in a dark suit and navy blue shirt as he left the restaurant while his companion wore a red dress and grey coat

Happy and relaxed: George and the brunette appeared to be amused at the attention they were getting

Proving her qualifications for the title, she wore a red dress, long grey coat, bright red lipstick and glittery silver boots for her meal at the upmarket eatery.

George's date - whether paltonic or romantic - came weeks after he was rumoured to have rekindled his romance with old flame Monika Jakisic.

The actor and the Croatian model were reported to have enjoyed an on-off relationship since 2004 and apparently began dating again last month.

Single and mingling: George's date came after he was rumoured to have rekindled his romance with old flame Monika Jakisic

They were first spotted flirting at London nightclub LouLou's in May, when Clooney was still with former wrestler Keibler.

A source claimed: 'They danced and held hands. He's been calling and texting Monika ever since.'

At the time, Clooney insisted the story was false. He said: 'The story is made up. I wasn't holding anybody's hand.'

An American magazine then claimed the couple spent the night at Clooney's mansion on September 25 after meeting up again in Los Angeles.

'They spent hours talking, and have an incredible connection,' an insider said.

Stripping off: George Clooney's rumoured new squeeze Monika Jakisic has posed for some racy photos

So that's what he sees in her: The model, known as the Croatian Sensation, showed off her toned body

Despite the rumoured romance, George has been going solo while promoting his latest movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock.

Earlier this week neither star took a date to the New York premiere of the film.

Meanwhile Stacy also appears to have moved on and is believed to be dating Jared Pobre, who she recently shared a photo of herself with at dinner in Paris.

Former flame: George and Stacy Keibler, who he is pictured with at The Oscars in February, broke up in July

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Omidyar and Lilly vebturesInnoCentive Receives Venture Capital Funding

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 20:28

The company also named founder Alpheus Bingham as president and chief executive officer. Bingham will retire as vice president for Lilly Research Laboratories.

InnoCentive connects scientists and science-based companies online to collaborate on complex scientific challenges. The company's virtual R&D network involves 85,000 scientists worldwide that work for companies including, Lilly, Boeing, Dow Chemical and Procter & Gamble.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Press Release

ANDOVER, Mass., Feb. 1 -- InnoCentive today announced it has closed a $9 million Series A Preferred venture capital financing round led by Spencer Trask Ventures, Inc., a New York-based venture capital firm. Additionally, joining the round were Lilly Ventures and Omidyar Network.

It was also announced that InnoCentive founder, Alpheus Bingham, Ph.D., has been appointed as InnoCentive president and CEO, and will retire from his position as vice president for Lilly Research Laboratories, a division of Eli Lilly and Company.

"This investment is an endorsement of the strength of our global scientific network and each and every researcher who contributes to its success," said Dr. Bingham. "We are pleased to secure capital funding from Spencer Trask Ventures, a venture capital firm who believes in backing bold ideas like InnoCentive. We have chartered an aggressive growth plan for InnoCentive in the coming year and look forward to continuing to work with our business building partner, Spencer Trask, who will provide world class experience at the board level. We are grateful for their tireless efforts to help us prove and validate our open innovation model."

"InnoCentive is a pioneer in the field of open innovation and possesses a unique and compelling business model that has the potential to transform industrial R&D globally," said Stephen T. McGrath, CEO of the Redwood City, CA-based Emerging Technologies Group at Spencer Trask & Co. "This $9M round of Series A financing reflects our mission to rapidly grow new ventures that either create new markets or transform the rules of competition in existing ones."

"InnoCentive is removing the barriers of distance, specialization, and organization from the sciences, facilitating global collaboration that is driving scientific discovery," said Doug Solomon, vice president of investments at Omidyar Network. "Moreover, InnoCentive has created an efficient marketplace that allows research "seekers" to access the best ideas and research "solvers" market incentives to solve them."

"This funding reflects the attainment of key achievements for InnoCentive, its online network and its future potential," said Darren Carroll, senior managing director of Lilly Ventures and chairman of the InnoCentive board of directors. "As a founding executive of InnoCentive, I have seen the network significantly reduce financial risk for innovation-driven companies and deliver cutting-edge solutions since its inception in 2001."

InnoCentive has developed a solid global brand with their unique virtual R&D network of over 85,000 scientists spanning more than 175 countries that has greatly helped companies reduce the escalating costs required to bring products to market. InnoCentive's goal is to further advance scientific research and collaboration in worldwide markets.

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive is the first online forum that allows world-class scientists and science-based companies to collaborate in a global scientific community to achieve innovative solutions to complex challenges. Companies including Boeing, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly and Company, Procter & Gamble and others, which collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, post scientific problems confidentially on the InnoCentive Web site where more than 85,000 scientists and scientific organizations in more than 175 countries can solve them. Scientists who deliver solutions that best meet InnoCentive's challenge requirements receive financial awards ranging up to and over USD100,000. To learn more and to register as an InnoCentive Solver, visit the InnoCentive Web site at http://www.innocentive.com.

About Spencer Trask Ventures

Spencer Trask Ventures is a leading venture capital firm discovering ideas for the 21st century. With a network of co-investors and business leaders, Spencer Trask Ventures provides entrepreneurs with financial and intellectual capital to transform bright ideas into world-changing companies. Headquartered in New York City, Spencer Trask Ventures invests in early stage and emerging growth companies in the communications, information technology and life sciences fields. For more information please visit http://www.spencertrask.com.

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a mission-based investment group committed to fostering individual self-empowerment on a global scale. Established in June 2004 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, the Network is founded on the simple core belief that every individual has the power to make a difference. Omidyar Network funds for-profits, nonprofits and public policy efforts that promote equal access to information, tools and opportunities; connections around shared interests; and a sense of ownership for participants. To date, Omidyar Network has created a diverse portfolio that fosters individual self-empowerment across the economic, political and social realms, with investments in areas such as microfinance, bottom-up media, open source, and transparency in government. Through its work, Omidyar Network intends to catalyze a new breed of business for which social impact directly drives profitability. To learn more about Omidyar Network and the organizations it has funded, please visit http://www.omidyar.net .

About Lilly Ventures

Lilly Ventures is the venture capital arm of Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation-driven pharmaceutical company. Our primary goal is to facilitate the success of companies in our areas of focus through early to expansion stage investments and value-adding resources. Lilly Ventures currently has $175 million under management and focuses on three major areas of interest: biotechnology; healthcare IT; and medical technology.

Source: InnoCentive

ON | Sal Giambanco

Link to Article

Archived Version

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:05

Photo: Eric Millette

Sal leads the human capital and operations functions of Omidyar Network. In this role, he works to develop and scale the talent at Omidyar Network and its portfolio organizations. Sal brings a wealth of executive experience in human resources management to his role as a partner at Omidyar Network.

From 2000 to 2009, Sal served as the vice president of human resources and administration for PayPal and eBay Inc. Prior to joining PayPal, Sal worked for KPMG as the national recruiting manager for the information, communications, high-tech, and entertainment consulting practices, while also leading KPMG's collegiate and MBA recruiting programs. Previously, Sal directed human resources at Tech One, Inc. and held positions at Ernst & Young and ESS Technology, Inc. Sal began his career working in the public sector in a variety of roles, primarily in education and hospital ministries.

Sal holds an MA in philosophy from Fordham University, a Masters of Divinity from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and an AB in economics and political science from Columbia University. Sal is also currently a lecturer for the University of San Francisco School of Management Silicon Valley Immersion Program.

Glenn Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: The Rancid Honeytrap

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:01

I truly promise to stop blogging about Greenwald when he stops writing my blog posts for me or when lefts, media critics and transparency advocates start holding him to the same standard they hold everyone else.

In this post here, I showed how Glenn kinda lied on Twitter when pressed about Pierre Omidyar's involvement in the suspension of Wikileaks' account by eBay-owned PayPal. I showed that, contrary to what Glenn had said, Omidyar had, in fact, effectively supported PayPal's decision. But Glenn knows that the most convincing 1/4 truths are the ones you tell over and over again, as this recent exchange with Amy Goodman shows:

AMY GOODMAN: '...Are you concerned about issues like'--well, you know, he's a founder of eBay. EBay cut off'--eBay owns PayPal, which cut off support for WikiLeaks. What kind of discussions have you had around that, which certainly would be relevant to what you want to do and your deep concerns about control?

GLENN GREENWALD: '...I asked him about that exact issue. And what he told me was that, at the time'--and this is absolutely true'--he was not the CEO of eBay, he was not involved in its management or PayPal, and that he actually disagreed with that decision. And a newspaper that he owned in Honolulu, that he created and helped out and at which he was working, editorialized against the government's attacks on WikiLeaks's funding.

Glenn's background as a lawyer comes in handy, again and again, doesn't it? Yes, it's true Omidyar was not CEO of eBay. He was simply its chair, which, as we know, is a position of absolutely no influence, the way 123rd richest man in the world is a position of no influence. And yes it's also true that the editorial board of Omidyar's little Hawaiian paper wrung their hands a bit over government interference. But in the same editorial, Omidyar's board also unequivocally endorsed PayPal's decision to comply with government interference, even without a court order to do so:

The executives [of Paypal etc] have a fiduciary duty to do what's best for their shareholders. And if they didn't respond to government warnings, they very well could risk their own business being shut down.

So if, as Glenn expects us to, we are to give Omidyar credit for his editorial board's handwringing over government interference, then we must also credit him with his editorial board's endorsement of PayPal's decision to acquiesce. Which means that, in the absence of some record of Omidyar contradicting both PayPal and his own editorial board in some way suggestive of asserting genuine influence, Glenn is telling Amy Goodman the truth to the same extent that Omidyar meaningfully opposed PayPal's decision to capitulate to the government.

By the way, that Goodman interview is full of all kinds of lusciousness for the rubes. Like this gem:

[Omidyar] would not start a new business in order to make money. He would only start a new business for some goal, some civic-minded goal.

Yeah, that's the great thing about the toxic inequality that everyone is suddenly so enamored of. It leaves billionaires free to pursue civic-minded goals, as they so often do. Where would we be without them? Perhaps we can persuade Jamie Dimon to pursue some civic-minded goals with Matt Taibbi.

Poor Glenn. I bet Pierre hasn't even briefed him on the Booz Allenconnections yet, but no doubt he's up for whatever may come. His rabid fans believe anything '-- and woe to the blogger who doesn't '-- which is what makes him so very useful.

UPDATE

Mr. Bunny in comments concisely makes an excellent point about what bullshit the shareholder argument for endorsing the PayPal decision is.

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CyberWar$

Readout of the President's Meeting with CEOs on Cybersecurity

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:10

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2013

The President met today with a group of CEOs from the information technology, financial services, and energy sectors to discuss our shared efforts to improve the cybersecurity of our nation's critical infrastructure.

The conversation highlighted the importance of the voluntary Cybersecurity Framework that is being created by the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology in partnership with a range of public and private stakeholders. The framework is part of Executive Order 13636 on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, which was introduced in the President's 2013 State of the Union Address. The preliminary version of the framework was released in the Federal Register today for a 45 day comment period.

The framework is intended to raise the level of cybersecurity across the U.S. critical infrastructure. To do so, the framework will lay out a set of core practices for organizations to manage their cybersecurity risk. The CEOs expressed appreciation for the way the framework was developed in partnership with the private sector and support for the process moving forward. The conversation focused on how to encourage its adoption. Participants discussed the need for framework adoption by both critical infrastructure and by their suppliers -- and the difficulties involved in helping small and medium sized business to adopt best practices. Both companies and government officials also expressed the strong desire to have Congress pass information sharing legislation that protects privacy and civil liberties.

Attendees included:* Ajay Banga, President and CEO, MasterCard* Steve Bennett, President and CEO, Symantec* Wes Bush, Chairman, President and CEO, Northrup Grumman* Marilyn Hewson, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin* Ren(C)e James, President, Intel* Brian T. Moynihan President and CEO, Bank of America* Joseph Rigby, Chairman, President and CEO, Pepco Holdings* Charles W. Scharf, Director and CEO, Visa

Eugenics

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Joe Biden: New frontier for mental health - Associated Press - POLITICO.com

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Archived Version

Fri, 25 Oct 2013 13:14

'Imagine when we are able to identify the biomarkers for mental illness,' Biden says.

'Imagine when we are able to identify the biomarkers for mental illness,' Biden says. | AP Photo

CloseVice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the country is on the cusp of what he called ''remarkable changes'' in the treatment of mental illness.

Speaking at a Boston forum on mental health to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Community Mental Health Act, Biden said the human brain is the new frontier for exploration in 2013.

Continue ReadingHe said science is on the verge of ''astounding discoveries'' that could change how society cares for those with mental illness.

''It's truly amazing what we don't know and it's truly amazing what we might learn,'' Biden said during a kickoff of the two-day forum at the Kennedy presidential library. ''Imagine when we are able to identify the biomarkers for mental illness.''

(PHOTOS: Joe Biden over the years)

Biden said that ongoing research also holds promise for returning veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress. And as a result of President Barack Obama's health care law, he said, more people have access to care for mental illness because the law bars insurance companies from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions like bipolar disorder.

Still, too many people suffering from mental illness fail to seek help even when there is treatment available, he said.

Biden was joined at the forum by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

Sebelius said work remains to be done to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and its barrier to treatment. She said 60 percent of Americans with mental health challenges and nine out of 10 Americans battling substance abuse aren't receiving care.

(PHOTOS: 10 Sebelius quotes about the Obamacare website)

''Imagine what it would mean if people felt as comfortable saying they were going for counseling as they were going for a flu shot,'' she said.

Sebelius also touted the benefits of the health care law, but didn't directly address the problems plaguing the rollout of the health care website '-- intended to make it easier for the uninsured to sign up for health care plans.

Patrick, the late president's nephew and a longtime mental health advocate, said he also hopes the forum will help remove lingering prejudices surrounding mental illness.

''This is the civil rights movement of our time,'' Kennedy said. ''Together we're going to ensure not only quality treatment but equality of treatment.''

(PHOTOS: Obamacare online glitches: 25 great quotes)

Brandon Marshall, who's been treated for a personality disorder, also spoke at the event. Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will moderate a conference panel Thursday on public health and community approaches to addressing behavioral health disorders.

The law signed by Kennedy in 1963 aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illness could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in state institutions that sometimes were neglectful or abusive.

Recent deadly mass shootings, including at the Washington Navy Yard and a Aurora, Colo., movie theater, have been perpetrated by men who were apparently not being adequately treated for serious mental illnesses.

Those tragedies have renewed public attention to the mental health system and areas where Kennedy's hopes for the treatment and care of those with mental illness were never realized.

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DDT: The reason Americans are overweight? : Experience Life

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Archived Version

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 23:59

By Maggie Fazeli Fard (@maggiefazeli) / October 25, 2013

Could your great-grandmother's pesticide exposure be the reason you're overweight today?

According to a new study, exposure to the synthetic insecticide DDT could set off a genetic chain reaction causing one's grandchildren, great-grandchildren and generations beyond to become obese.

''What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like DDT, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to obesity, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,'' said Michael Skinner, the Washington State University scientist behind the research, which was published this week in the journal BMC Medicine.

While investigating how DDT exposure might affect inheritance in general, Skinner and his team exposed pregnant rats to the insecticide, which was developed in the 1940s to combat insect-borne diseases like malaria and typhus, but banned in the United States in 1972 due to mounting public health and environmental concerns.

They found that while the exposed ''parent'' rats and their children didn't express an increased obesity risk, more than half of the third-generation rats '-- the ''grandchildren'' '-- developed the disease.

Skinner's lab has also demonstrated the ill effects of other chemical compounds, including plastics, pesticides, fungicides, dioxins, hydrocarbons and bisphenol-A, or BPA. These toxins have been shown to disrupt the molecular processes of DNA, causing certain genes to turn ''on'' or ''off'' without changing their sequence.

The DDT results have only been demonstrated in gestating rats, but the researchers believe similar effects could be seen in humans. DDT has now been banned in the United States for more than 30 years, but ''the third generation of people exposed in the 1950s is now of adult age and has a dramatic increase in diseases such as obesity,'' Skinner said in a statement.

It's worth noting that the study concluded that ancestral DDT exposure may be a factor in the current obesity crisis, but it's not the whole story. As tempting as it may be to blame grandma, lifestyle choices like diet, activity and stress level have also been shown to play a part in weight gain.

Maggie Fazeli Fard is an Experience Life staff writer.

BMC Medicine | Full text | Ancestral dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesity

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Archived Version

Sat, 26 Oct 2013 23:59

Skinner MK, Manikkam M, Guerrero-Bosagna C: Epigenetic transgenerational actions of environmental factors in disease etiology.

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SKINNR and GATES FOUNDATION-Reproductive biology: Breeding opportunities : Naturejobs

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:02

Help to implant a human embryo; watch mouse eggs divide after fertilization; interview women about their experiences with emergency contraception; collect sperm from finches in the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador: specialists in reproductive biology undertake these duties and many more. The field provides a surfeit of career trajectories and research questions. ''We cover everything from fertilization to death,'' says Dolores Lamb, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

The reproductive sciences also touch on human life and biology at almost every level, from molecular and cellular events such as the recognition of the egg by sperm, to whole-body processes including hormonal regulation of puberty and population-level questions such as what factors affect teenage-pregnancy rates.

DIEKLEINERT/CORBIS

''It's amazing, the diverse backgrounds that all somehow feed into reproductive medicine,'' says Lamb. Many researchers study reproduction as part of a doctorate in reproductive or developmental biology. Others might find their way to the field through cell biology (focusing on sperm stem cells, for example) or animal sciences (perhaps studying cattle hormones). Attendees at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin, hail from a wide range of disciplines.

Diversity does not guarantee jobs, however, and positions are scarce in many areas of industry and academia. Richard Sharpe, who heads the graduate programme at the UK Medical Research Council's Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, says that three years ago he assured students that if they excelled, they could find work. ''We can no longer say that,'' he says. Academic opportunities have shrunk as the recession has taken a bite out of budgets and funding priorities have shifted to areas such as chronic disease, says Sharpe. (Although location does matter; see 'Renminbi for reproduction'.) In the reproductive sciences, as in most life sciences, the job market has constricted, agrees Michael Skinner, founder of the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman.

Box 1: Renminbi for reproductionThirteen years after earning his PhD, and following two stints as a postdoc, Minghan Tong, a reproductive biologist at Washington State University in Pullman, has finally landed a tenure-track research position. Unable to find such a job in the United States, Tong is heading to greener pastures in his native China. In September, he will begin work at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences. Tong and others are applying for a 39-million-renminbi (US$6.3-million) grant to study the epigenetic regulation of sperm production.

China is a bright spot in the tight market for academic jobs in reproductive sciences. The sperm-production grant is part of a major funding initiative in the field by the Chinese government, which is interested in new approaches to contraception and in the reproductive impacts of environmental problems such as toxicants that may damage sperm and eggs by tweaking the epigenome to affect multiple generations.

In 2007, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology designated development and reproductive sciences as one of four core research areas, ramping up grant funding. This year, the ministry is expected to fund four 5-year projects in the field, each worth more than 24 million renminbi.

Other national and local agencies have also increased funding, spurring the establishment of dozens of research centres focused on reproductive sciences and creating hundreds of jobs, says Qinghua Shi, a professor of life sciences at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei.

C.S.

Even so, he says, studying reproduction will give doctoral students an edge with employers from fertility clinics to animal-agriculture companies. And areas such as global health continue to grow.

Looking to academia

WSU graduates have landed academic jobs in everything from toxicology to oncology, says Skinner, who notes that much cancer research focuses on reproduction-related cancers such as breast and prostate. These days, ''you have to market yourself broadly'', says Tracy Clement, who earned her PhD with Skinner and is looking for an academic post. ''It does not feel like a good time to be on the job market.''

If she does get a university job, Clement will face funding difficulties. The major source of US research money in the field is the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, but last year only 12.5% of grant applications for major research projects to the institute were successful '-- less than at many other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutions.

In the future, says Skinner, academics will require support from multiple sources '-- something for which the broad field is particularly suited. Skinner, for instance, has received funding not only from the NIH, but also from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, to develop a male contraceptive and from the US Department of Defense to study how exposure to environmental toxicants affects subsequent generations. He has also applied to the John Templeton Foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, to study the role of epigenetics in finch evolution in the Galapagos.

Mixed outlook in industry

The pharmaceutical industry has shed jobs in contraception over the past 10 years, in part because of nervousness about the side effects of reproduction-related drugs, which have drawn numerous lawsuits. Companies such as Wyeth '-- acquired in 2009 by Pfizer in New York '-- and Bayer, based in Leverkusen, Germany, have cut back or dropped entire research programmes.

Daniel Johnston, a former principal research scientist at Pfizer who was laid off in 2010, could not find a job directly related to human reproduction at a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company despite more than 5 years of pharmaceutical experience in contraception and women's health. But while at Pfizer, Johnston had begun to work in oncology '-- and that experience helped him to find work at a company focused on liver cancer.

Johnston's lateral move is not unusual, given that reproduction overlaps with many areas (Johnston compares a testis to a tumour; both have a low-oxygen core of rapidly dividing stem cells '-- but one produces sperm instead of cancer cells). Susan Fisher, director of translational research in perinatal biology and medicine at the Center for Reproductive Sciences of the University of California, San Francisco, says that adaptability gives her graduates a leg up in industry. They have found jobs at biotechnology companies focused on oncology, stem cells and the rapidly expanding area of prenatal genetic testing, a market that could soon be worth more than US$1 billion yearly (see Nature486, 454; 2012). Companies competing in this area include Ariosa Diagnostics in San Jose and Natera in San Carlos, both in California. Skinner advises students and postdocs interested in an industry job to get training in the broadest possible range of lab technologies, including genomics.

STEVEN R SHAW/IMAGE ASOCIATES

Tracy Clement: ''You have to prepare for option one '-- but have option two and three in the wings.''

Reproductive biologists are also finding work in animal agriculture. ''I get calls maybe two or three times a year from companies looking for a master's- or PhD-level scientist to run a lab,'' says Derek McLean, a biologist who studies cattle, pig and mouse reproduction at WSU.

Scientists who can store and manage animal semen and test fertility products for female livestock are in demand at companies and organizations such as Select Sires, a federation of farmer cooperatives based in Plain City, Ohio, that provides livestock-breeding services. Candidates for such posts have generally trained in a reproductive-biology laboratory and have a degree in animal science. The job market is steady in the United States, and is expanding in Brazil and other emerging countries that are moving towards a more industrialized animal-agriculture system, says McLean, who is leaving WSU this autumn for Phibro Animal Health in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Genomics opportunities are also emerging at companies that are developing tests for genetic selection of farm animals; one such employer is Illumina in San Diego, California, which markets a high-density Bovine BeadChip, a genetic array that detects traits in cattle.

Fertility clinics are an option for those looking for something more applied '-- and perhaps more likely to have an immediate impact on people's lives. There are about 400 clinics in the United States, and they often hire PhD-level scientists to manage a staff of bachelor's- and master's-level technicians involved in tasks such as culturing and freezing human embryos and performing hormone assays. Such scientists often interact with patients '-- a lead embryologist, for instance, might contact patients with test results, and assist during implantation of the embryo. ''It brings a lot of joy in our profession to help people to have a family,'' says Pierre Miron, who heads a fertility clinic near Montreal in Canada. ''The interaction with patients is a great part of the job.'' Jobs at clinics affiliated with universities often provide more opportunities for fertility research than private clinics, says Miron.

The government of Quebec province began paying for in vitro fertilization in 2010 as part of the national health-care system, leading to rising demand for services. Many clinics are filling job slots with trainees from R(C)seau Qu(C)b(C)cois en reproduction (the Quebec Reproduction Network), a consortium of more than 80 researchers at institutions such as McGill University in Montreal. But in most of the world, jobs in fertility clinics are competitive. Strong candidates not only have the right human touch, says Miron, but also have training in a range of techniques, including sperm and egg manipulation.

Global impact

Global health may be a more fruitful area for reproductive-biology graduates. ''My personal feeling is that there is now a stronger market for people working at the population level than at the molecular level in the reproductive sciences,'' says Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360, a global-health organization based in Durham, North Carolina. He points to Family Planning 2020, an ambitious initiative to roll out contraceptive services to 120 million girls and women in developing countries by 2020. Donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of both developed and developing nations have pledged $2.6 billion to the programme, which was launched last July at a meeting in London spearheaded by Melinda Gates. ''This will define the future for public-health jobs in the reproductive sciences,'' says Cates.

He adds that the initiative will create jobs, mostly in the developing world, for researchers who know how to cost-effectively implement such services and for scientists who can evaluate their impact '-- by, for instance, assessing the uptake of contraception and its effects on population growth and women's and children's health. The effort will require researchers with backgrounds in areas such as demography, sociology, economics and public health.

Cates says that researchers with a basic-science background in reproductive sciences and extra training in fields such as epidemiology often have a leg up when competing for jobs in areas including clinical-trial design, because of their understanding of biology.

Patricia Sadate-Ngatchou earned a PhD studying sperm development at WSU. But a visit home to Cameroon during a major cholera outbreak in 2010 changed the course of her career. ''How do you help people on the ground?'' she asked herself.

Sadate-Ngatchou is now studying for a master's degree in epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her ultimate goal is to move into a decision-making position in government or a foundation involved in reproductive health; a suitable post might be as a programme officer overseeing grants. However, Sadate-Ngatchou thinks that she may first have to do entry-level work as an epidemiologist, for instance in disease surveillance.

The variety of questions and opportunities in reproductive biology keeps some researchers hooked on the field, despite the tough market. Some end up in niches they never expected, such as facilitating panda or reptile reproduction in zoos, or assessing toxicants for their effects on embryonic and pubertal development at government institutions such as the US Environmental Protection Agency. Clement is open to a variety of possibilities. ''If you are a reproductive biologist,'' she says, ''you have to prepare for option one '-- but have option two and three in the wings.''

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Ministry of Truth

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Former Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley Joins CBS News | NewsBusters

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 18:55

The incestuous relationship between the media and the current White House continues unabated.

CBS News announced Monday that former Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley is joining the network as a contributor:

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley joins CBS News as a Contributor; it was announced by CBS News Chairman and 60 MINUTES Executive Producer Jeff Fager and CBS News President David Rhodes. His appointment is effective immediately.

In this role, Daley will bring his vast experience in politics, business and economics to CBS News.

How many Obama officials have taken positions in the news media and vice versa?

I've lost count.

*****Update: The Independent Journal Review reported last month that there have been 21 members of the media that have left their jobs to join the Obama administration.

NewsBusters has more on the revolving door between the media and this White House here.

21 Journalists Make it Official: Leave News Media to Work Directly for Obama | Independent Journal Review

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Archived Version

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 18:55

Kyle Becker | On 16, Sep 2013

The revolving door from left-wing activist news media to political positions in the Obama administration is direct and undeniable. The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (pictured above), who ran Time's Washington Bureau, is perhaps the most visible example, but there are many others.

While there have been a few notable exceptions of a journalist for a major publication or network leaving a position to join a Republican administration (Geoff Morrell of ABC, noted but not counted, and the late Tony Snow of Fox News being two exceptions), there is no doubt that the Democrat Party is rewarding loyal ''journalists'' with taxpayer-funded positions in the government.

What to make of this abundantly obvious quid pro quo is up to the reader; but it is understandable from a journalist's point-of-view that one might want to leave the tanking mainstream news media industry for a secure position in government. It is also understandable that one might want to leave a position in politics for a job in news media holding the government accountable '' as long as one is transparent about his political views.

What is not understandable is feigning objectivity and centrism, while engaging in stealth activism (some might term it 'propaganda') on behalf of a major political party. It is duplicitous and deceitful; not to mention dangerous for the free flow of information from a secretive government that once boasted about becoming ''the most transparent'' in the nation's history.

The Atlantic, far from a ''right-wing'' publication, documents those who have defected from ''journalism'' to work in government. It's unclear whether these journalists should be applauded for coming out of the closet and showing some refreshing intellectual honesty, or should be shunned as propagandists posing as ''objective'' journalists and jettisoning their ethics as arbiters of facts in the interest of political perquisites.

Linda Douglass, whom people might remember as a spokesperson for Obamacare, was a former Congressional correspondent for CBS and ABC, as well as a writer/editor at National Journal. She was also a traveling press secretary for the Obama campaign.

Rick Stengell was the former Managing Editor of Time until leaving journalism to become the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the State Department.

Shailagh Murrau, also of the Washington Post, left to join the Obama administration as Vice President Biden's communications director. Warren Bass. who was a Deputy Editor of the Washington Post's Outlook section, is now a top official in the State Department.

Geoff Morrell is one notable holdover from the Bush administration who gave up a career in journalism at ABC News to work as a spokesman at the Defense Department.

The Washington Post's Stephen Barr (picture unavailable) left his position as writer of the Federal Diary column to join the Labor Department as a top public affairs official.

Rosa Brooks was a former Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist who advised Michelle Fluornoy at the Defense Department before becoming a professor at Georgetown.

Peter Gosselin was an LA Times reporter who became the Chief Speechwriter for former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He is now a Senior Health-care Policy Analyst at Bloomberg Government.

Beverley Lumpkin was a former Justice Department reporter/producer for ABC and CBS and a reporter at the Associated Press. She left journalism to work for the Project on Government Oversight and joined the Department of Justice as a Public Affairs Official.

CNN's Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson became a Press Secretary at the Department of Transportation.

Jill Zuckman, who was a Chicago Tribune Washington correspondent, became Director of Public Affairs and assistant to Secretary Ray LaHood at the Department of Transportation.

Rick Weiss was a former Washington Post science reporter who joined the Center for American Progress. He is currently the communications director and senior policy strategist for the White House Office of Science and Technology.

Anesh Raman was an international/Middle East correspondent at CNN who left to send mass emails for the Obama re-election campaign. Kate Albright-Hanna was a producer at CNN who even proposed a video strategy for the Obama campaign while working at CNN, according to the Washington Post.

David Hoff, who was a reporter for Education Week, was hired by the Department of Education in 2009.

Eric Dash was a New York Times reporter before joining the Treasury Department's public affairs division.

Desson Thomson was a film critic at the Washington Post before becoming a a speechwriter for Ambassador Louis Susman. Roberta Baskin was a CBS and JTLA reporter before becoming a senior communications adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services' health-care fraud task force.

Former Boston Globe online politics editor is now a senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, who was a Senator from Massachusetts.

Douglas Frantz, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and writer for the New York Times and LA Times, and was later a national security editor for the Washington Post, became an assistant secretary of state for public affairs earlier this month. MSNBC producer Anthony Reyes left to work for the U.S. Treasury's public affairs/new media office.

Lest we all forget, this is an administration that has gone after adversarial journalists, like James Rosen of Fox News and various members of the Associated Press. And should it be any surprise that the Democrat Party seeks under the SHIELD bill to become the arbiter of who should have constitutional protections as a ''journalist,'' thereby repaying its mainstream news media allies for their loyalty and granting them information privileges unrecognized for citizen-journalists?

The Constitution under the First Amendment states that: ''Congress shall make no law'... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.'' This right is irrefutable, indivisible, and non-negotiable.

Under the Democrat Party, the federal government has been engaging in an opportunistic buy-off of journalists in the mainstream press, whose positions have been compromised by the partisan practices in their struggling news industry to begin with. The taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for partisan journalists who give up their pretenses of objectivity to officially work on behalf of big government.

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Obama's Valerie Jarrett: Often Whispered about, But Never Challenged | National Review Online

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Mon, 28 Oct 2013 21:23

President Obama's aides went to extraordinary lengths to uncover the identity of a senior official who was using Twitter to make snarky comments about White House staffers. Suspicion gradually centered on Jofi Joseph, the point man on nuclear nonproliferation at the National Security Council. So at a meeting in which everyone was in on the scam an inaccurate but innocuous news tidbit was revealed. When Joseph used his anonymous Twitter handle #natlsecwonk to broadcast the tidbit he was caught and promptly fired. He was not fired for revealing any secrets, but for making disparaging comments about thin-skinned administration players ranging from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

What apparently intensified the campaign to identify the ''snarker'' was a comment about Valerie Jarrett, the senior Obama adviser who has her own Secret Service detail and appears to exercise an inordinate amount of power behind the scenes. Joseph tweeted ''I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me.''

Jarrett, an old Chicago friend of both Barack and Michelle Obama, appears to exercise such extraordinary influence she is sometimes quietly referred to as ''Rasputin'' on Capitol Hill, a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia's Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I.

Darrell Delamaide, a columnist for Dow Jones's MarketWatch, says that ''what has baffled many observers is how Jarrett, a former cog in the Chicago political machine and a real-estate executive, can exert such influence on policy despite her lack of qualifications in national security, foreign policy, economics, legislation or any of the other myriad specialties the president needs in an adviser.''

Delamaide believes the term ''vacuous cipher'' that was applied to Jarrett stung so much because it could be used as a metaphor for the administration in general. He writes that what ''has remained consistent about the Obama administration is that vacuity '-- the slow response in a crisis, the hesitant and contradictory communication, a lack of conviction and engagement amid constant political calculation.'' The stunning revelation that President Obama wasn't kept properly apprised of problems with Obamacare's website is just the latest example of how dysfunctional Obama World can be.

Whether Jarrett's influence is all too real or exaggerated is unknowable. What is known is the extent to which she has long been a peerless enabler of Barack Obama's inflated opinion of himself. Consider this quote from New Yorker editor David Remnick's interview with her for his 2010 book The Bridge.

''I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability '-- the extraordinary, uncanny ability '-- to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He's been bored to death his whole life. He's just too talented to do what ordinary people do.''

Up against a court flatterer of that caliber it's no surprise that Jarrett has outlasted almost everyone who was in Obama's original White House team '-- from chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to political guru David Axelrod to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. All are known to have crossed her, and all are gone. As one former Obama aide once told me: ''Valerie is 'She Who Must Not be Challenged.'''

When the revealing histories of the Obama White House are written it will be fascinating to learn just how extensive her role in the key decisions of the Obama years was.

Twitter / vj44: FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare ...

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Jaguars Pounded by 49ers, 42-10 - Yahoo Sports

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 20:06

HomeMailNewsSportsFinanceWeatherGamesGroupsAnswersScreenFlickrMobileMoreomg!ShineMoviesMusicTVHealthShoppingTravelAutosHomesYahoo SportsSearch SportsSearch WebSign InMailHelpAccount InfoHelpSuggestionsYahooScore Strip

League:NFLCarolina vs. Tampa BayFinal31 CAR13 TBNY Giants vs. PhiladelphiaFinal15 NYG7 PHISan Francisco vs. JacksonvilleFinal42 SF10 JAXDallas vs. DetroitFinal30 DAL31 DETCleveland vs. Kansas CityFinal17 CLE23 KCMiami vs. New EnglandFinal17 MIA27 NEBuffalo vs. New OrleansFinal17 BUF35 NOPittsburgh vs. OaklandFinal18 PIT21 OAKNY Jets vs. CincinnatiFinal9 NYJ49 CINWashington vs. DenverFinal21 WAS45 DENAtlanta vs. ArizonaFinal13 ATL27 ARIGreen Bay vs. MinnesotaFinal44 GB31 MINSeattle vs. St. LouisFinal14 SEA9 STLView AllSports HomeFantasyNFLScores / ScheduleStandingsStatsTeamsPlayersDan WetzelLes CarpenterEric AdelsonShutdown CornerVideoOddsPicksInjuriesTicketsMLBNBANHLNCAAFNCAABNASCARGolfMMASoccerAll SportsNBC SportsRivalsThePostGameGrindTVShop

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Report: Milk Could Skyrocket To $8 A Gallon If Farm Bill Not Passed CBS DC

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:17

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Filed underNews, PoliticsLatest NewsPhotos WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) '-- The fight over renewing the nation's farm bill has centered on cuts to the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program. But there could be unintended consequences if no agreement is reached: higher milk prices.

Members of the House and Senate are scheduled to begin long-awaited negotiations on the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill this week. If they don't finish it, dairy supports could expire at the end of the year and send the price of a gallon of milk skyward.

KLTV reports that the price of milk could reach $8 a gallon.

''We are pretty much at the mercy of the people that are going to pay us. We have no control over the milk price,'' dairy farm manager Bear Vanderwier told KLTV.

One Of World's Richest Women Charged In Deadly Crash

There could be political ramifications, too. The House and Senate are far apart on the sensitive issue of how much money to cut from food stamps, and lawmakers are hoping to resolve that debate before election-year politics set in.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who is one of the negotiators on the bill, says the legislation could also be a rare opportunity for the two chambers to show they can get along.

''In the middle of the chaos of the last month comes opportunity,'' Klobuchar says of the farm legislation. ''This will really be a test of the House of whether they are willing to work with us.''

The farm bill, which sets policy for farm subsidies, the food stamps and other rural development projects, has moved slowly through Congress in the last two years as lawmakers have focused on higher-profile priorities, like budget negotiations, health care and immigration legislation.

But farm-state lawmakers are appealing to their colleagues to harken back to more bipartisan times and do something Congress hasn't done very much lately '-- pass a major piece of legislation.

Even President Barack Obama, who has been largely silent on the farm bill as it has wound through Congress, said as the government reopened earlier this month that the farm bill ''would make a huge difference in our economy right now.''

''What are we waiting for?'' Obama said. ''Let's get this done.''

The main challenge in getting the bill done will be the differences on food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The House has passed legislation to cut around $4 billion annually, or around 5 percent, including changes in eligibility and work requirements. The Senate has proposed a cut of around a tenth of that amount, and Senate Democrats and President Obama have strongly opposed any major changes to the program.

The cost of SNAP has more than doubled over the last five years as the economy struggled, and Republicans say it should be more focused on the neediest people. Democrats say it is working as it should, providing food to those in need when times are tough.

''I think there are very different world views clashing on food stamps and those are always more difficult to resolve,'' says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.

Obamacare Registration Page Down While Sebelius Testifies

Johnson says coming together on the farm issues, while there are differences, will be easier because the mostly farm-state lawmakers negotiating the bill have common goals.

Passing a farm bill could help farm-state lawmakers in both parties in next year's elections, though some Republicans are wary of debating domestic food aid in campaign season. Republican House leaders put the bill on hold during the 2012 election year.

One way to pass the bill quickly could be to wrap it into budget negotiations that will be going on at the same time. The farm bill is expected to save tens of billions of dollars through food stamp cuts and eliminating some subsidy programs, and ''that savings has become more key as we go into budget negotiations,'' Klobuchar said.

If that doesn't work, lawmakers could extend current law, as they did at the end of last year when the dairy threat loomed. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he wants to finish the bill and won't support another extension.

One of the reasons the bill's progress has moved slowly is that most of farm country is enjoying a good agricultural economy, and farmers have not clamored for changes in policy. But with deadlines looming, many say they need more government certainty to make planting decisions. Most of the current law expired in September, though effects largely won't be felt until next year when the dairy supports expire.

If Congress allows those supports to expire, 1930s and 1940s-era farm law would kick in, as much as quadrupling the price that the government pays to purchase dairy products. If the government paid that high a price, many processors would sell to the government instead of commercial markets, decreasing commercial supply and thus also raising prices for shoppers at grocery stores.

Some farmers are feeling the effects of the expired bill already. An early blizzard in South Dakota earlier this month killed thousands of cattle, and a federal disaster program that could have helped cover losses has expired.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., also a negotiator on the conference committee, says her constituents aren't concerned with the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, but they just want to see a bill pass.

''Maybe the biggest question is can we put together a bill that can pass on the House and Senate floor,'' she said.

(TM and (C) Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Three ex-Murdoch journalists plead guilty to phone hacking

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Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 16:09

LONDON: Three former senior journalists from Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid the News of the World have pleaded guilty to charges relating to phone-hacking, the trial of two of the media mogul's former editors heard on Wednesday.

Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch's former British newspaper chief and Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media head Andy Coulson are on trial at London's Old Bailey court accused of conspiring to illegally access voicemail messages on mobile phones, charges they deny.

The court was told on Wednesday that ex-chief correspondent Neville Thurlbeck, former assistant news editor James Weatherup, and ex-news editor Greg Miskiw had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to intercept communications at earlier hearings.

Their guilty pleas, which had not previously been reportable, are the first public admissions by former News of the World journalists since police launched an inquiry in 2011 into allegations that staff on the Murdoch paper had hacked the phones of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime.

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Russia Diverts US Military Inspectors' Plane Due to Bad Weather

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Source: RIA Novosti

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:00

CHITA, October 31 (RIA Novosti) '' A plane with US military inspectors, heading to an airport in Russia's southern Siberia under the international Open Skies treaty, had to divert to another location because of bad weather on Thursday, a police source said.

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.

The plane with military inspectors, performing an observation flight above Russia in line with the treaty, was heading to Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. However, the crew was told to divert to Chita in the neighboring Transbaikal Territory because of dense fog in Ulan-Ude.

''Ulan-Ude did not permit the plane to land because of weather conditions, so the crew requested a landing in Chita. [The plane] landed and is still here,'' a Chita police source said.

The source did not say whether it was a civil or military aircraft.

The plane's crew is currently undergoing migration and border control, he said.

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Internet Freedom

Tom Wheeler Confirmed As Next FCC Chair | TVNewsCheck.com

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 22:34

updated 10:36 p.m.

Following his swearing in, the former cable and wireless telephone lobbyist will assume the top job at the agency, succeeding fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn, who has been running things as acting chairwoman since Julius Genachowski stepped down earlier this year. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz cleared the way for the confirmation vote Tuesday evening by lifting his hold on a vote.

Former cable and wireless phone lobbyist Tom Wheeler was confirmed Tuesday evening to be the next FCC chairman, according to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

Also confirmed was Senate aide Mike O'Rielly to the vacant Republican seat on the commission.

Story continues after the ad

Following his swearing in, Wheeler will assume the top job at the agency, succeeding fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn, who has been running things as acting chairwoman since Julius Genachowski stepped down earlier this year.

The confirmations quickly followed news that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had released his hold on a Senate confirmation vote on Wheeler.

Cruz said in a press release earlier Tuesday that he had put the hold on due to concerns that Wheeler might try to impose new disclosure requirements on some political ads, without Congress' approval.

But during a meeting with Wheeler in the afternoon, Cruz said the FCC nominee made clear that he had ''heard the unambiguous message'' that trying to impose the disclosure requirements, absent congressional approval ''would imperil the commission's vital statutory responsibilities, and he [Wheeler] explicitly stated that doing so was 'not a priority,' '' Cruz said.

''Based on those representations, I have lifted my hold on his nomination, and I look forward to working with him on the FCC to expand jobs and economic growth,'' Cruz said.

O'Reilly's fate was tied to Wheeler's.

Wheeler issued this statement: ''I am humbled by the Senate's confirmation and I look forward to taking the oath of office in the coming days. I am deeply grateful to President Obama for his confidence in nominating me for this position.

''Chairwoman Clyburn has led the commission with dedication and vision for six months. We all owe Chairwoman Clyburn a huge thank you. The chairwoman, along with Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai and the FCC staff dealt with important issues that kept policy and the country moving forward.

''Congratulations to Commissioner O'Rielly for his Senate confirmation. We will be joining a dynamic and dedicated team at the FCC.

''What excites me about this new responsibility is how we are at a hinge moment of history; the Internet is the greatest communications revolution in the last 150 years. We must all dedicate ourselves to encouraging its growth, expanding what it enables, and assuring its users' rights are respected.''

Acting FCC Chairwoman Clyburn said: ''I congratulate Tom Wheeler and Michael O'Rielly on their Senate confirmations. Tom brings a tremendous depth of experience, talent, and knowledge that will serve him well as the leader of this critically important agency. I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding FCC Chairman. With his extensive public policy expertise and understanding of the communications landscape, Michael will certainly be an invaluable asset to the commission.

''The FCC family enthusiastically welcomes both Tom and Michael. I look forward to working with them, along with my current colleagues at the commission, to further communications policies that advance the public interest, bolster competition, empower consumers, and spur new waves of innovation that grow our economy and create jobs.''

Responding to the news:

NAB President-CEO Gordon Smith: "NAB strongly supported the nominations of both Tom Wheeler and Michael O'Rielly and we are pleased with their confirmation. We also salute the superb job done by Mignon Clyburn during her tenure as acting chair. Broadcasters look forward to working with a full complement of commissioners in the months and years ahead. Local radio and TV stations will continue our evolution to new distribution platforms, mindful that broadcasting remains an indispensable source of news, entertainment and lifeline information to communities across America."

NCTA President-CEO Michael Powell: ''We congratulate Tom Wheeler and Mike O'Rielly on their confirmations to serve on the Federal Communications Commission and look forward to working with them in their new positions. Both individuals bring an abundance of experience and deep knowledge of media, technology and telecommunications that will serve them well as the Commission considers important policy issues. With the commission soon to be at full strength, we would also be remiss not to complement Acting Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her steady hands and for the significant contributions made by the FCC under her watch. We look forward to working with all commissioners as we begin a new chapter with a new chairman."

Gary Shapiro, president-CEO, Consumer Electronics Association: "We applaud the Senate on the confirmations of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly. Chairman Wheeler takes the helm of the FCC at a critical time where action is required to reallocate spectrum for wireless broadband and other services. Our nation needs strong FCC leadership to make this goal a reality. CEA and its more than 2,000 member technology companies look forward to working with Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner O'Rielly and the full FCC on spectrum reallocation and other issues vital to innovation and our nation. We thank and congratulate Acting Chairwoman Clyburn for her terrific, honorable and exemplary leadership as acting chairwoman."

Elite$

Exclusive: Hollywood sting | Al Jazeera America

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:26

By Trevor Aaronson and Josh Bernstein

LOS ANGELES '-- Ronald Calderon is a powerful state senator in California who holds sway over the glamorous Hollywood movie industry. He is also, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a politician on the take.

A hefty 56-year-old Democrat with salt-and-pepper hair, Calderon has been a red-carpet star in California politics for more than a decade. As an assemblyman and now a state senator representing suburban Los Angeles, he has established a well-earned reputation for spending campaign money and taxpayer funds on himself.

He's used campaign cash to cover the finer things in life '-- plush golf outings, lavish trips to Cuba and Las Vegas, meals at exclusive restaurants and hotels. When California offered to purchase cars for the state's elected officials, Calderon chose the most expensive one: a $54,830 Cadillac STS V8 luxury sedan.

Click for more on The Calderon Dynasty

But his days as a big spender may soon be over. The FBI is hot on his trail in an investigation that could become California's biggest legislative scandal in more than two decades and could signal the downfall of a political dynasty. The FBI employed an undercover sting for more than a year that ended when agents raided the senator's office in Sacramento in June.

Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit subsequently learned of the secret operation. This account is based on a 124-page affidavit, still under seal, filed by the FBI in U.S. District Court in Sacramento in support of a search warrant used in the raid.

The names of several other senators, including the Senate president and the chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, have surfaced in the case, although none has been implicated.

The document lays out a sordid tale of alleged bribery and corruption. Undercover FBI agents posed as independent movie executives interested in taking advantage of a program in which films with budgets of $1 million or more are eligible for special tax credits. The agents, focusing on Calderon, asked the senator to help lower the budget threshold to $500,000. Calderon, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on California's Film and Television Industries, agreed to help lower it to $750,000 but wanted financial assistance provided to his grown children, the affidavit says.

On June 21, 2012, for instance, in a restaurant in Pico Rivera, Calif., outside Los Angeles, Calderon said he could lower the budget threshold if the movie executive would hire his daughter, Jessica.

''There might be a play, you know, to lower the tax credit.'' He went on: ''Any help you could do for my kids is '-- you know, that's diamonds for me.''

The agent agreed to hire Calderon's daughter for $3,000 a month if the senator could help reduce the movie budget threshold ''sooner rather than later.''

They had a deal. Calderon's wife, Ana, would draw up an employment agreement for Jessica and the movie executive. That written agreement, Calderon said, was ''to keep it legit.'' The FBI summarized his thinking in the court document: ''You never take money directly from people and you have to be careful about a tit-for-tat relationship.''

In reality, the record says, the arrangement was tit-for-tat: There was no work for Jessica, and payments to her were linked to Calderon's efforts to sponsor favorable legislation. Over the course of the sting operation, the affidavit says, the FBI provided $60,000 to Calderon, much of it through his two children.

For the senator, such arrangements weren't unusual. Separately, the FBI court filing says, Calderon also used his son, Zachary, to accept kickbacks from a hospital executive, Michael D. Drobot, whose companies have received more than $161 million in state insurance payments. The state has sued Drobot, alleging he was behind ''multiple fraudulent schemes.''

Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, Calif. Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit

RELATED '-- FBI: California state senator aided alleged multimillion-dollar fraud

State Sen. Ronald Calderon accepted bribes from a Southern California hospital executive who ran an alleged workers' compensation scheme that brought the executive tens of millions of dollars, according to a sealed FBI affidavit obtained by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit.

Read more

Ronald Calderon is part of a California political dynasty that has controlled powerful state legislative committees for decades. During that time, the Calderons have been sharply criticized in the California media for using campaign cash for personal benefit. Indeed, politics and money are the lifeblood of the Calderon family.

According to the affidavit, Ronald and his older brother Thomas, who previously held a seat in the California State Assembly, have collected more than $1 million in payments from people who have wanted to shape California laws to their benefit. In some cases, the Calderons used Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit organization connected to the Latino caucus, as their personal slush fund.

James J. Wedick, a former FBI special agent, reviewed the court document at the request of Al Jazeera. Wedick is an expert on undercover sting operations. In 1988, his agents set up a front company in California and paid bribes in a case that led to the conviction of four elected officials and 10 legislative aides.

This time around, he said, voters in California can expect to see another shake-up of politics and government. ''It's going to be an ugly scene when this information comes to light,'' Wedick said. ''That, in fact, you have elected officials taking money in exchange for legislation. It undermines our democracy.''

Building a dynasty

The story of the Calderon political dynasty begins in 1982, when Charles ''Chuck'' Calderon won the District 59 seat in the California State Assembly. In 1988, he led a group of five assemblymen in unsuccessfully challenging the leadership of powerful Speaker Willie Brown. The speaker stripped the challengers of their committee chairmanships and removed them from their choice offices.

But Calderon was not deterred. In 1990, he won a seat in the state Senate and would later become Senate president, the first Latino to hold the position in California. At the same time, he was dogged by ethics charges. In 1994, the state fined him $15,000 for spending campaign funds on personal expenses.

State Sen. Ronald Calderon's district office is located in Montebello, Calif., outside Los Angeles. Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit

With his political star rising, Calderon laid the path for his siblings to join the family business of politics. In 1998, Thomas won a seat in the Assembly and was handed the plum chairmanship of the Insurance Committee. In 2002 he ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner. Meanwhile, Ronald, the youngest brother, ran for and claimed Thomas' former Assembly seat.

Ronald moved to the state Senate in 2006, and Charles, having lost an earlier bid to be state attorney general, reclaimed the seat in the Assembly.

''What makes the Calderons unique is that they are passing on a baton within the same family, within the same surname,'' said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studies California politics. ''It's not at all uncommon for an elected official who's leaving office, particularly after a long term of service, to designate a successor '... With the Calderons, though, the desire seems to have been to maintain the influence within the same family.''

Ronald, the least polished of the three brothers, rose in power and influence after joining the state Senate. He was appointed to the California Film Commission, which allocates $100 million in annual state tax credits to various film projects. He also became active in the increasingly powerful Latino caucus and, by 2011, was appointed its vice chairman.

The next year, Ronald Calderon met an independent movie executive who was eager to see the state tax credit requirements changed. Calderon did not realize that the friendly movie executive was an FBI undercover agent.

Inside the FBI sting

The FBI affidavit provides rich details on the sting. It indicates that an unidentified legislative aide introduced Ronald Calderon to an undercover agent at a lunch event in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2012. The agent presented himself as an independent movie executive with a studio in downtown L.A. Calderon described the movie tax credit program and also mentioned that his daughter, Jessica, was interested in the film industry.

Over a subsequent lunch meeting, the legal document says, Calderon and the agent brokered their deal: The movie studio would hire Jessica, and Calderon would sponsor legislation that would change the movie budget requirements for a tax credit from $1 million to $750,000.

On July 17, 2012, about a month after that lunch meeting, Calderon visited the agent's apartment in Los Angeles. The agent told him that paying Jessica a monthly retainer was ''not the industry standard,'' according to the FBI account. The agent said he wasn't paying to hire Jessica '-- he was hiring the senator. The affidavit describes this conversation:

''Money is not an object,'' the undercover agent said. ''I mean, I'm ready to write a check for the next year if that's what you want '--''

''Right, right,'' Calderon said, interjecting.

''For everything. That's not the issue. And it's never been an issue.''

''Uh, huh,'' Calderon said.

''Jessica's talent, uh, her acumen '-- that's not even an issue. That the whole concept behind this was '-- we have a relationship. We have a professional relationship. We have a business relationship. And to put it in very blunt terms, me hiring Jessica was not about her talents, right? It was more about accommodating something that you needed. And you needed me to take care '--''

''Right.''

''Helping your children,'' the agent finished.

''Right,'' Calderon said.

Rep. Richard Kelly as he was filmed by the FBI in the course of its 1980s ABSCAM investigation. AP

RELATED '-- FBI undercover 'stings': Catching politicians red-handed

An all-expenses-paid trip to Napa Valley; a wad of cash, carefully counted out, laid on a desk and tucked into a suit pocket; a suitcase filled with money picked up at an airport hotel. These are just a few ways bribe money has been handled by politicians in which political favors are peddled for hard cash.

Read more

By August 2012, according to the affidavit, Jessica had not performed any work for the fictitious movie studio but had received $27,000 in payments. The FBI document says that when a check arrived at Calderon's ranch-style house in Montebello, where Jessica also lived, Calderon emailed the agent using coded language: ''Package received.''

Calderon invited the agent to attend the Imagen Awards ceremony, honoring Latino entertainers, with him at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Aug. 10, 2012, the filing says. Calderon and his wife attended, and the agent came with a date of his own, another FBI operative who played the part of his girlfriend and an aspiring model. At the awards dinner, Calderon described how he planned to introduce an amendment in the Senate to lower the movie tax credit requirements. ''Nobody will ever know that the reason this happened is because of you,'' he told the agent, according to the FBI document. ''I would not have pushed this hard if it wasn't for you.''

But his amendment hit a roadblock. A legislative aide soon informed him that the amendment would require a two-thirds vote, a near impossibility. ''We are screwed!'' Calderon wrote to the undercover agent, according to the affidavit.

''This is bullshit, Ron. We gotta make this work,'' the agent replied by email. ''Even if the proposed amendment is shot down, we win. If we don't even propose the amendment, then I'm done.''

The pair met for dinner in Pico Rivera, Calif., to reassess their situation. The agent got right to the point, according to the court record: He asked if Calderon would be willing to write a letter for the movie studio's investor ''stating his commitment to introducing legislation that would lower the threshold for the tax credit legislation to $750,000.'' Calderon agreed, but for the sake of appearances, he suggested writing the letter to a group, not an individual or company. The next day, on Sept. 11, 2012, he emailed the undercover agent with several suggestions for names. ''So which name do you like?'' he wrote.

The agent responded with the name of a fictitious group, ''United Pacific Independent Producers of California.''

In its account, the FBI says that Calderon took the bait. The senator wrote and mailed the letter of support to the FBI undercover agents, addressed to a group that didn't exist and whose name a federal agent simply made up.

A special fund: $50,000

The affidavit describes how Calderon's cash-for-favors relationship with the undercover agent continued even after the movie tax credit legislation stalled. Over dinner on Oct. 16, 2012, the undercover agent asked if Calderon could hire his girlfriend, the aspiring model who was also an undercover federal agent, for a state job in Sacramento. Trouble was, the undercover agent admitted, his girlfriend didn't have any skills or relevant experience for legislative work. The affidavit lays out the following exchange:

''She comes with, you know, issues,'' the undercover agent said.

''Yeah,'' Calderon said.

''It is not a big thing,'' the agent said. ''But if you are willing to take that on '--''

''Every girl has issues,'' Calderon interrupted.

The agent told Calderon he'd make hiring his girlfriend worthwhile. He explained that he had padded his movie budgets to give him an extra $50,000 to play with '-- cash he could make available to a helpful senator.

''Oh, nice,'' Calderon said.

The agent and Calderon began to refer to the $50,000 as a ''special fund.'' On Nov. 2, 2012, Calderon asked the agent to pay $5,000 to Berklee College of Music in Boston for tuition for his son, Zachary.

''Maybe we can get a $5,000 check to Berklee College of Music and Zach just turns it in,'' he said.

The agent agreed to pay the tuition, but said $5,000 would make only a small dent in the $50,000 special fund. According to the affidavit, Calderon said they could deposit the rest into other accounts, including Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit organization controlled by Thomas Calderon.

In September, Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit run by Thomas Calderon, hosted a fundraiser at Pebble Beach Resorts. Major supporters included Walmart Stores, the Clorox Co., Shell Oil Co. and Farmers Insurance. Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit

Ronald and Thomas Calderon used the nonprofit as a slush fund, the FBI alleges:

''We have this nonprofit. It is called Californians for Diversity,'' Ronald Calderon told the agent. ''So, we are gonna build this thing up and '... then, Tom and I down the road, we build that up, we can pay ourselves. Just kind of make, you know, part of a living.''

Calderon hired the undercover agent's girlfriend as a member of his Senate staff, despite not having an open position. The hiring required the approval of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. The Senate leader declined to comment in a brief interview with Al Jazeera other than to say, ''Let the investigation run its course.''

The cash and gifts kept flowing, but Calderon failed to report them on his state ethics disclosure forms, state records show.

In late October, for example, the undercover agent reserved a table for Calderon at The Bank, a nightclub inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Calderon and a friend went to the nightclub and, according to the affidavit, racked up a $3,939.56 bill at the agent's expense. Calderon took a photograph of himself with rappers Nelly and T.I. and emailed it to the agent.

Two months later, the undercover agent purchased a $5,000 ticket for Calderon to attend a fundraiser for state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who represents a Los Angeles district. The event was held during a Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas.

More money and perks flowed from the undercover agent, including a $25,000 payment to Californians for Diversity and $3,200 for Calderon to fly to Miami and meet with the undercover agent and his supposed investor. Calderon advised the investor '-- who was also an undercover agent '-- that he should hire his brother Thomas as a consultant. The investor then asked if Calderon still supported the tax credit legislation. ''Absolutely,'' he said, according to the court document. ''You have my support even if you don't hire Tom.''

In Miami, the FBI says, the undercover agents agreed to pay $10,000 per month '-- $3,000 purportedly for Jessica, $5,000 for Thomas and the additional $2,000 to cover taxes Thomas would have to pay on the income. The investor drove Ronald Calderon to Miami International Airport and handed the senator a white envelope containing $3,000 in cash. Future payments, Calderon said, should go to Californians for Diversity.

The next day, Calderon called the investor. There was a problem. His plan of having the movie studio pay $10,000 per month to Californians for Diversity wouldn't work, he said. State Sen. Ricardo Lara, chair of the Latino caucus, was taking greater control of nonprofits associated with the caucus.

''Californians for Diversity is tied into the Latino Caucus in terms that it's being sanctioned by them, and that's why I'm able to raise the money for the purpose of promoting numbers in the caucus,'' Calderon said, according to the affidavit. ''So the bylaw was changed that he's (Sen. Lara) got authority on any consultants that are hired that are paid over $5,000 a month.''

''Wait, who has authority? Tom or you?'' the agent asked.

''No, the chair of the caucus. In other words, he has to authorize anything over $5,000. So right now, Tom is already getting $5,000 a month from the caucus, from our committee. For us to add to that '-- number one, it's going to bring too much attention to us in what we're doing and right now we're in fundraising mode. And number two, then I have to go and get permission from the chair to get more, and I don't want to do that.''

The good life: Pebble Beach

Calderon's relationship with the generous movie producer came to an abrupt end in early June when FBI agents raided his Capitol offices in Sacramento. Soon after, he set up a legal defense fund and issued a brief statement to reporters.

''My family and I have gone through a lot the last several days,'' he said. ''It's been very stressful, very hard on all of us. We're all anxious to put this behind us and carry on a normal life.''

State Sen. Ronald Calderon, attending the Californians for Diversity event in September, enjoys a cigar during an evening party. Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit

Despite their troubles, the Calderon money machine continues running on high octane. In September, the senator attended a two-day fundraising event at Pebble Beach Resorts for Californians for Diversity, the nonprofit run by his brother Thomas. Major supporters included Walmart Stores, the Clorox Co., Shell Oil Co., Farmers Insurance and Edelstein Gilbert, a prominent California lobbying firm. Calderon golfed with industry lobbyists and then shared fireside drinks with them in the cool evening hours.

A few days later, Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit caught up with him at a luxury golf resort in Orange County.

The conversation was abrupt.

Asked about the FBI investigation as he lifted clubs from the trunk of his Cadillac, Calderon said: ''I'm not really going to discuss any of that.''

He then walked into the pro shop, refusing to answer additional questions.

Al Jazeera Investigative Unit

Ronald Calderon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:27

Ronald Steven Calderon (born August 12, 1957, in Montebello, California) is a DemocraticCalifornia State Senator from the 30th Senate District. He was elected to the Senate in 2006.[2]

Early life, education, and business career[edit]Calderon attended Montebello High School, graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He then graduated from the Western State University of Law.

Calderon served as a manager in the manufacturing industry, a mortgage banker, and a real estate agent.[1][3]

Senator Ronald Calderon is the second of his family to serve in the senate and the third to hold a seat in the legislature. Prior to Ronald's election his brothers Charles and Thomas also served the state assembly.

California Assembly[edit]Elections[edit]After redistricting, Tom Calderon decided to run for California Insurance Commissioner in 2002. His brother, Ron, decided to run for the seat and won the Democratic primary with 46% of the vote.[4] He won the general election with 63% of the vote.[5] In 2004, he won re-election with 62% of the vote.[6] In 2006, he retired to run for the California Senate. His brother, Charles, succeeded him.

Committee assignments[edit]He served as Chairman of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. He was also elected Assistant Majority Leader.

California Senate[edit]Calderon was elected to the 30th Senate District, which includes: Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Huntington Park, La Mirada, Los Angeles, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, California, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, South Gate, Whittier, East La Mirada, East Los Angeles, Florence-Graham, Hacienda Heights, South Whittier, and West Whittier.[7][8]

Elections[edit]In 2006, incumbent Democrat State Senator Martha Escutia decided to retire. In the Democratic primary, Calderon defeated fellow State Representative Rudy Bermºdez 50.4%-49.7%, a difference of just 305 votes.[9] He won the general election with 71% of the vote.[10] In 2010, he won re-election with 69% of the vote.[11]

Committee assignments[edit]Calderon is chairman of the Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Senate President Don Perata selected Calderon to lead senate efforts to reform term-limits and redistricting laws, as well as moving the state's presidential primary from June to February.[citation needed] Calderon also chairs the Select Committee on International Business Trade, in addition to sitting on the Appropriations and Energy, Utilities and Communications committees. Calderon also sits on the California Film Commission, which is tasked with promoting and subsidizing the California film industry.[1]

2012 congressional election[edit]In August 2011, Calderon announced he would be running for congress in the newly redrawn California's 38th congressional district. He currently represents around 70% of the new CD in the State Senate for the past four years. He will face U.S. Congresswoman Linda Snchez in the Democratic primary.[12]

Legal Troubles[edit]On June 4, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigations raided Calderon's offices in the California State Capitol in an attempt to find evidence regarding accusations of criminal activity.[13] On the same day, the FBI also raided the office of California's Latino Legislative Caucus of which Calderon is vice chair.

Personal life[edit]Calderon lives in Montebello with his wife Ana of 30 years and their two children, Jessica and Zachary.

External links[edit]PersondataNameCalderon, RonaldAlternative namesShort descriptionState Senator, American banker, and businessman.Date of birth1957-08-12Place of birthMontebello, California, U.S.Date of deathPlace of death

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."

Putin topples Obama in Forbes power ranking

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Wed, 30 Oct 2013 16:08

NEW YORK: Having outfoxed him on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has now pipped Barack Obama to the title of the world's most powerful leader as ranked by Forbes on Wednesday.

It was the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine's list and came as US-Russia relations slid to a new low.

Putin, who has enjoyed 12 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in April.

Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

"Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama's lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president -- latest example: the government shutdown mess," wrote Forbes.

In August, Russia granted asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, wanted in the United States over a mammoth intelligence leak.

A month later, Putin played the trump card again by averting Obama's threatened missile strikes on Syria with a plan for Damascus to hand over chemical weapons.

"Anyone watching this year's chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics," Forbes wrote.

The 2013 list of 72 powerbrokers was chosen to reflect one for every 100 million lesser mortals on Earth.

Third prize went to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to rule for a decade in which China is set to eclipse the US as the world's largest economy.

Pope Francis made his debut at number four and German Chancellor Angela Merkel rounded out the top five.

Among 13 newcomers were Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee at number 41 and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, in at number 64.

There were 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $48 trillion and 27 CEOs and chairs who control over $3 trillion in annual revenues.

Only nine women made the cut despite representing half the world's population.

Vaccine$

Stage Zero Cancer-New 'stage' of cancer causing debate | Latest News - Home

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Published On: Oct 29 2013 10:17:32 PM CDTUpdated On: Oct 29 2013 11:07:20 PM CDT

Oct. 29, 2013: Stage zero breast cancer is a term many women have never heard before and it's causing fierce debate among doctors in Houston. Rachel McNeill reports.

HOUSTON -Stage zero breast cancer is a term many women have never heard before and it's causing fierce debate among doctors in Houston.

Priscilla Stegman has a long family history of breast cancer.

''My mother died at 57 of breast cancer, my sister died of cancer at 60, my first cousin died at 47 of cancer," Stegman explained.

And now she's one of the millions of American women facing her own diagnosis. Stegman's disease is defined with as 'stage zero' breast cancer.

"Zero was still cancer and it's a scary word," Stegman said.

According to oncologist, Dr. Archana Maini, stage zero breast cancer is an earlier indicator of a potentially serious disease.

"It's pre-malignant so if left on its own it would have developed into an invasive cancer," Dr. Maini explained.

A stage zero diagnosis is most often made following a mammogram that detects a lesion on the breast. There are also slight abnormalities in the breast cells that could eventually become cancerous.

Richard Theriault, D.O, with MD Anderson Cancer Center says the term stage zero is being hotly debated in the medical community right now.

"It's very controversial at the present time because screening has detected so many of these and we don't understand the biologic behavior of them, so the question is, are we over-diagnosing and therefore over-treating people whose disease would never come to the fore," Theriault said.

Dr. Maini says some doctors are choosing to use the terms 'breast lesion' or 'abnormal cells' to define the earliest of stages.

"What they are thinking is cancer is a word that should only be used for something that has metastasized and have adverse effects on the human body and ultimately be capable of killing the body. We should not use this word for anything less than that," she explained.

But, a study of 400 women found that when the word 'cancer' was removed from the diagnosis, the patients chose less aggressive treatments. That concerns Dr. Maini who says even stage zero cancer cannot be ignored.

"It does require a full fledge of treatment those women," Dr. Maini said.

"Right now, it's what we have to work with. But as we get more knowledge about the genetics of the tumor, the biomarkers of the tumor, we'll be able to classify, this one is a real potential cancer and this one we should just leave alone,'' Theriault added.

Priscilla Stegman went through surgery to remove what her doctor called 'a speck of dust' followed by radiation treatments and she's taking the cancer drug Tamoxifen for the next five years.

"I'm doing everything I can to prevent it again," Stegman said.

To do everything you can to prevent breast cancer, don't smoke, avoid alcohol and if you've reached menopause, be cautious about hormone replacement therapy. Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 for average risk women can also help detect cancer at its earliest stages.

UN confirms polio outbreak in Syria, aid agencies call for 'vaccination ceasefire'

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Source: RT - News

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 07:13

Published time: October 30, 2013 03:17AFP Photo / Mustafa Ozer

A polio outbreak in Syria has been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The news has prompted calls for a 'vaccination ceasefire' as the disease threatens to spread across the country and into neighboring states.

The WHO issued a warning stating that there is high risk of infectious polio disease spreading across Syria and beyond, after 10 cases were confirmed among young children in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour.

Another 12 children are awaiting test results. Along with Syria, seven neighboring countries have announced plans to start emergency vaccinations in response to the risk, according to the WHO. Syria has not seen a case of polio since 1999.

International children's charity Save the Children released the ceasefire appeal following the WHO statement and confirmation from the Syrian government.

"Vaccination ceasefires would mean pauses in fighting to allow vaccination campaigns to take place across both sides of the conflict," the agency said.

Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles issued the following statement: "Polio doesn't respect conflict lines or borders, so we need these ceasefires to reach all children with vaccines, no matter where they live. If chemical weapons inspectors can be allowed access across Syria with notebooks, surely aid workers can be allowed in with vaccines.''

Miles added that the outbreak serves as further confirmation of the deteriorating situation in Syria amid the country's ongoing civil war. ''The UN Security Council recently agreed on access for humanitarian relief across Syria. This polio crisis is a clear test of whether all sides of the conflict will respect the Security Council's presidential statement and allow unhindered humanitarian aid,'' Miles said.

Some progress was reported in the Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya, as the government blockade was relaxed for humanitarian relief efforts.

The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Anthony Lake, stated that the agency and the Syrian government had agreed on the ''importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of the war-torn country with life saving vaccines, including those against polio.''

Health workers have warned that the civil war in Syria has created ideal conditions for the disease to breed. Polio is known to target children younger than five years of age and is spread through contaminated food and water supplies. The disease can lead to permanent paralysis and death, as breathing muscles become immobilized.

Before Syria's civil war began, 95 percent of children were immunized against polio. However, the UN now estimates that 500,000 children have not been vaccinated against the disease.

The large number of refugees fleeing Syria to neighboring countries on a daily basis is making the situation even more dangerous, as the virus could spread across the region.

EUROLand

LifeSiteNews Mobile | Former heads of state call on EU to set up state surveillance of 'intolerant' citizens

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:05

ROME, October 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) '' A council of former heads of state and government leaders has called on the European Union to establish national surveillance units to monitor citizens of all 27 EU member states suspected of ''intolerance''.

The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a ''tolerance watchdog'' launched under the leadership of former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, called for the establishment of government surveillance bodies to directly monitor the ''intolerant'' behavior of identified citizens and groups.

The council, which includes former presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Albania, Latvia, and Cyprus, and former prime ministers of Spain and Sweden, made the proposal in a report delivered during a 45-minute speech to the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE).

These ''special administrative units,'' the report says, ''should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice.''

''There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant,'' it states, especially ''as far as freedom of expression is concerned.''

The ECTR called its proposal the ''Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance'' and presented it as part of the EU's work towards a new ''Equal Treatment Directive'' (ETD), published under the title, ''Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle for equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation''.

European Dignity Watch, a civil rights watchdog group based in Brussels, has warned that this directive ''aims to impose governmental control over the social and economic behavior of citizens in the widest possible sense.''

In a scathing critique, the group says that the ECTR Framework's basic principles are flawed and that it ''interferes in an unprecedented manner with citizens' freedom and rights'' and ''distorts the concepts of 'justice' and 'equality'.''

Through ''a reversal of the burden of proof,'' the proposal ''encourages frivolous litigation'' and will lead to ''institutionalized public control'' of private opinion and thought, they say.

The Framework demands the outlawing of ''group libel'' that it defines as ''defamatory comments made in public and aimed against a group'...or members thereof, with a view to inciting to violence, slandering the group, holding it to ridicule or subjecting it to false charges.''

It adds that ''group libel'' ''may appear to be aimed at members of the group in a different time (another historical era) or place (beyond the borders of the State).''

Subject to criminal sanctions would be any ''hate crimes'' that would include not only ''incitement to violence'' but ''overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or anti-Semitism.''

''Members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups'' it adds, ''are entitled to a special protection'' in addition to the normal legal protections afforded by the state. This ''special protection'...may imply a preferential treatment'' for those identified as ''vulnerable''.

The Framework said it hopes to take ''concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia.''

The document proposes not only to outlaw what it defines as ''intolerance'' by governments, but also by individual citizens. It says, ''It is important to stress that tolerance must be practised not only by Governmental bodies but equally by individuals, including members of one group vis- -vis another.'' It adds that the ''guarantee of tolerance must be understood not only as a vertical relationship (Government-to-individuals) but also as a horizontal relationship (group-to-group and person-to-person).

''It is the obligation of the Government to ensure that intolerance is not practised either in vertical or in horizontal relationships,'' it states.

Sophia Kuby, spokesman for European Dignity Watch, said the Framework betrays the essentially totalitarian mindset of significant elements within the European Union's apparatus. The document, if adopted by the European Parliament, she said, ''could lead to situations in which vague or unwarranted accusations are leveled against individuals and groups.''

''Faith-based groups and schools, adherents of a particular religion or even just parents who want to teach their children certain moral values would all be put under general suspicion of being intolerant.''

''Even worse,'' she said, this language ''could lead to the possibility that charges are brought on unclear or even without legal grounds.'' She said it would ''be a significant step backward,'' and ''would certainly be a dark day for European democracy.''

Eurovision stars top bill at 'Cyprus Unplugged' show

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:20

Eurovision stars Anna Vissi, Constantinos Christoforou and Despina Olympiou will take part in a 'Cyprus Unplugged' benefit concert at the Palais des Beaux Arts (Bozar) in Brussels on 9 November. All proceeds from the event, organised under the patronage of European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, will go to charities on the island supporting disadvantaged children and families.

''The social dimension of the economic crisis has been harsh on many of our citizens. Behind the statistics on unemployment and welfare, there are millions of personal stories of pain which are often hidden. I am very grateful to the artists who have agreed to perform without payment. The money raised will improve the lives of vulnerable children and families in Cyprus. At the same time it will send a clear message everywhere on the need for more solidarity, understanding and support,'' said Commissioner Vassiliou.

The musicians will perform an 'unplugged' (acoustic) concert, accompanied by guitar, piano and bouzouki. The event will also feature Cypriot poetry.

Commissioner Vassiliou, who is inviting fellow EU Commissioners to support the initiative, will open the concert.

''Our political measures in response to the crisis need to be accompanied by a response from society itself. This needs to come from organised groups, volunteers, the church and others '' but mostly from citizens themselves. I hope a lot of people will come and show their support,'' she added.

Tickets for the concert, priced '‚¬30, are available in Brussels from the Bozar box office, 23 rue Ravenstein, as well as P(C)riple, 115 rue Froissart, Kafenio, Rue St(C)vin 134, and Attica, 49-51 Rue des Treves. They are also available via email from Margarita.Savvidou@ec.europa.eu and Panayiotis.Tsouliaridis@ec.europa.eu. Seating is unreserved.

The following charities will benefit from the concert:

Alkionides Charity '' supporting families in needSocial Welfare Services '' girls' hostelsAssociation for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family

Background

Anna Vissi, originally from Larnaca, is a music legend in the Greek-speaking world, with a career spanning four decades. She has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest three times, representing Greece in 1980 (Autostop), Cyprus in 1982 (Mono I Agap '' Only Love) and Greece again in 2006 (Everything). She has achieved major sales success with albums such as Fotia (1989 and Kravgi (2000).

Limassol-born Despina Olympiou represented Cyprus in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malm¶, Sweden, with the song An me thimasai. Her 2003 break-through album Vale Mousiki, recorded with Michalis Hatzigiannis, went platinum (more than 300 000 sales) in Cyprus and Greece. She went on to achieve further success with Pes to Dinata (2008) and Mia stigma (2010). In 2012, Despina scored another hit with Den s' afino apo ta matia mou, a duet with Greek hip-hop artist Stereo Mike.

Constantinos Christoforou, also from Limassol, has also appeared at Eurovision three times, representing Cyprus in 1996 with the song Mono Yia Mas, in 2002 with Gimme and in 2005 with Ela Ela. He wrote Erimi Poli for Anna Vissi which topped the Cypriot charts in 2003.

EU banking union clears first hurdle | Business | DW.DE | 15.10.2013

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 14:25

EU finance ministers have approved the first building block of an EU-wide banking union - a banking watchdog. But the real issues are still unresolved. For instance: who will pay when big banks default?

Jose Barroso, president of the European Commission, has declared the creation of a banking union to be the most important prestige project in the European Union. Mechanisms will be created to ensure the joint supervision of banks important to the financial system and the joint liquidation of bankrupt financial institutions - all to avoid a banking crisis like the one that followed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy five years ago.

After months of drawn-out negotiations, European finance ministers formally approved the first pillar on Tuesday (15.10.2013). The European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, which oversees monetary policy and the stability of the euro, will in future also supervise big private banks.

"It is an important step towards creating a legal framework that will allow the ECB to press ahead with setting up operations for banking regulation," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch¤uble in Luxembourg.

From next fall, the ECB is to monitor over 130 banks in the 18 eurozone states. "Now we can start looking for a suitable building and start hiring staff. Today is a good day for Europe," said J¶rg Asmussen, a member of the ECB executive.

Banks to open accounts

Before the ECB starts supervising Europe's banks, all 130 banks need to undergo a stress test and have their balance sheets checked for risky businesses and non-performing loans. The ECB does not want to inherit financial risks when it takes over responsibility for the banks.

That is also where the consensus among European finance ministers ends: a more contentious issue is what happens after the stress test. As ever, it is all about cost: who will pay for any holes found in the banks' balance sheets? Experts from the EU Commission expect to find some nasty surprises in banks in Spain, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Cyprus and Greece.

Some finance ministers from southern Europe believe European taxpayers have to take some of the burden. "That may be the case, but Germany will insist that taxpayers will be spared," warned Sch¤uble.

After all, the main goal of the banking union is that rather than taxpayers being liable for the banks' risks, the banks' owners should have to cough up. Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, agrees: "To begin with, the bill should be paid out of private pockets. That includes bank owners, shareholders and creditors."

ECB President Mario Draghi estimates the risks in European banks to be much smaller than two years ago. Today, the banks have a lot more equity, Draghi told the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

Footing the bill

EU finance ministers want to impose a clear pecking order on liability if banks fold or have to undergo restructuring. And national budgets and European rescue funds will be at the end of that chain. There is some disagreement over whether the existing European Stability Mechanism (ESM) could provide fresh capital to the banks. This would mean heavily indebted states would be off the hook, shifting liability to the ESM.

The Irish and Spanish finance ministers are in favor of this solution, but the German finance minister is ruling it out. "The idea of a prompt recapitalization of banks, which does not accord with the German legal situation, can only be explained by lack of knowledge - presumably because people are not listening. I have explained the German legal situation often enough," said Sch¤uble. "It would be very difficult to change the legal situation in Germany. A lot of persuading would be needed."

The Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the Eurogroup, however, envisages a direct injection of capital from the ESM for ailing banks. "The tool for the recapitalization of banks is still under development. At the moment I think that it could be used in exceptional circumstances. Even now, but only in exceptional cases." These exceptional circumstances are so narrowly defined, they practically never happen, according to the German delegation.

Central liquidation authority far off

The third step of the banking union is also still a sticking point. A central authority for the liquidation and the dissolution of bankrupt banks is to be created, and the EU Commission wants to be in the driving seat.

Sch¤uble rejects the proposal, saying it does not comply with EU law. But other candidates for this delicate task, like the ECB or the ESM, have already declined. Again, cost is the central issue. An authority for liquidation would need liquidation funds to pay the costs of bankruptcy. After all, savers' deposits and small companies should be protected.

Dijsselbloem has promised that he and his colleagues will find solutions for these issues in the coming months, but it remains to be seen whether the solutions can be found ahead of the European elections in May 2014. A newly elected European Parliament will have a say in the matter.

It will take some time until the banking union will be finished. "We must be ready ahead of the next banking crisis," Barroso demanded. "People doubt that we have learned all the lessons from the last banking crisis," Sch¤uble warned.

Syria

Polio outbreak confirmed in Syria

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Source: AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 12:06

The UN health agency has confirmed an outbreak of polio in war-torn Syria, which had been free of the crippling disease since 1999, and said it feared it would spread.

Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organisation's anti-polio division, told reporters on Tuesday that laboratory tests had confirmed the presence of the disease in 10 out of 22 suspected cases reported almost two weeks ago.

"Out of those 22 being investigated, 10 are now confirmed to be polio type one," Rosenbauer said in Geneva.

Laboratory results were still being awaited on the remaining 12 suspected cases in Deir al-Zor, he said.

"Of course this is a communicable disease. With population movements it can travel to other areas. So the risk is high for its] spread across the region," Rosenbauer said.

All 22 children were stricken with acute flaccid paralysis, which is the symptom of a number of different diseases, including polio.

"The other 12 are still being investigated," he said, adding that test results were expected in coming days.

Of course disease surveillance is now ongoing across Syria and neighbouring countries as well, to look for other acute flaccid paralysis cases

Oliver Rosenbauer, World Health Organisation spokesperson

The cases were clustered in the northeastern Deir Al Zour province, and all affected children under the age of two.

"There are no additional 'hot' cases that we know of. Of course disease surveillance is now ongoing across Syria and neighbouring countries as well, to look for other acute flaccid paralysis cases," said Rosenbauer.

The next step is to analyse the genetic code of the virus to try to track its source.

Last week, as they waited for confirmation of the cases, aid agencies and Syrian health authorities stepped up efforts to vaccinate 2.4 million children against polio, as well as measles, mumps and rubella.

The UN says that 500,000 children in Syria have not been vaccinated against polio in the past two years due to insecurity.

Rosenbauer said that all the children who have caught the virus in Deir Al Zour appeared to have never been vaccinated against polio, or had not received a full course of vaccine.

376

UN confirms polio outbreak in Syria, aid agencies call for 'vaccination ceasefire'

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Source: RT - News

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 07:13

Published time: October 30, 2013 03:17AFP Photo / Mustafa Ozer

A polio outbreak in Syria has been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The news has prompted calls for a 'vaccination ceasefire' as the disease threatens to spread across the country and into neighboring states.

The WHO issued a warning stating that there is high risk of infectious polio disease spreading across Syria and beyond, after 10 cases were confirmed among young children in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour.

Another 12 children are awaiting test results. Along with Syria, seven neighboring countries have announced plans to start emergency vaccinations in response to the risk, according to the WHO. Syria has not seen a case of polio since 1999.

International children's charity Save the Children released the ceasefire appeal following the WHO statement and confirmation from the Syrian government.

"Vaccination ceasefires would mean pauses in fighting to allow vaccination campaigns to take place across both sides of the conflict," the agency said.

Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles issued the following statement: "Polio doesn't respect conflict lines or borders, so we need these ceasefires to reach all children with vaccines, no matter where they live. If chemical weapons inspectors can be allowed access across Syria with notebooks, surely aid workers can be allowed in with vaccines.''

Miles added that the outbreak serves as further confirmation of the deteriorating situation in Syria amid the country's ongoing civil war. ''The UN Security Council recently agreed on access for humanitarian relief across Syria. This polio crisis is a clear test of whether all sides of the conflict will respect the Security Council's presidential statement and allow unhindered humanitarian aid,'' Miles said.

Some progress was reported in the Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya, as the government blockade was relaxed for humanitarian relief efforts.

The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, Anthony Lake, stated that the agency and the Syrian government had agreed on the ''importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of the war-torn country with life saving vaccines, including those against polio.''

Health workers have warned that the civil war in Syria has created ideal conditions for the disease to breed. Polio is known to target children younger than five years of age and is spread through contaminated food and water supplies. The disease can lead to permanent paralysis and death, as breathing muscles become immobilized.

Before Syria's civil war began, 95 percent of children were immunized against polio. However, the UN now estimates that 500,000 children have not been vaccinated against the disease.

The large number of refugees fleeing Syria to neighboring countries on a daily basis is making the situation even more dangerous, as the virus could spread across the region.

BTC

FBI '-- Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Seizure of Additional $28 Million Worth of Bitcoins Belonging to Ross William Ulbricht, Alleged Owner and Operator of ''Silk Road'' Website

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 04:50

FBI Mobile SiteYour search did not match any documents.

The FBI does not investigate all kinds of criminal activity. To see the categories of federal laws that the FBI does investigate, see our What We Investigate webpage.If you are looking for information about yourself or a case you are involved in, you must submit a Privacy Act request.The FBI does not comment on all current, ongoing cases. See our field press releases for public information on our investigations.The FBI is limited in the amount of information and photos it can provide on wanted fugitives and missing persons. We also do not investigate all fugitives or missing persons in the United States; many cases are handled by local authorities or other federal agenices.To find crime statistics in your area, please see our Crime Statistics webpage.The FBI does not have a national e-mail address for public questions or comments. Some of our local FBI offices, however, do have their own e-mail addresses. See our Contact Us page for more contact information.To find high resolution photos, go to our Photo Gallery.If you are looking for an FBI job application or open vacancies, go to the FBI Jobs website.If you wish to talk directly to an FBI representative, please call (202) 324-3000.

The Economic Singularity: From Holland with Love '' Bitcoin Magazine

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:13

Richard Kohl is a founding member of PikaPay.com, a mobile wallet that lets you send bitcoins to anyone on Twitter. He is also a board member of the Dutch Bitcoin Foundation.

From Holland with Love

The city of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands and home to the world's oldest stock exchange, established in 1602, has played a role throughout history as a safe harbor for new ideas. Now it may be on its way to becoming an important Bitcoin destination, and not only for its innovative Bitcoin businesses and its flurry of international Bitcoin conferences.

This past June Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem gave a Bitcoin-friendly report to Parliament. He said:

Bitcoin is not electronic money'... At present its eventual impact on the real economy seems negligible'...Bitcoin is not a financial product as defined by law. (Mediation in) the purchase or sale of Bitcoins is not a financial service either, so the Financial Supervision Act does not apply.

According to these statements Bitcoins are officially recognized as local currency without any special compliance or licensing requirements. As it now stands, trading with bitcoins in the Netherlands is legally no different from barter with sticks of butter, plastic chips or bottles of beer.

Right now anyone with a Dutch bank account can buy bitcoins online in real time without any registration process. Several Dutch services are helping users buy (and sell) with an existing payment system called iDeal. The purchased coins can be directly transferred into a mobile wallet called PikaPay that you can create just by signing in with your Twitter Name. (Disclosure: I am involved in PikaPay.)

Many other ingredients are in place to make Amsterdam a city with a lot of Bitcoin in its future. Source Forge ranks The Netherlands as country number 8 in downloads of the client software so far this year. This month Dolf Diederichsen decided to launch his startup bit4coin in Amsterdam to benefit from the attractive atmosphere, and BitPay, one of the best-funded Bitcoin companies, has picked Amsterdam as the site of its European HQ. Both Mr. Diederichsen and BitPay CEO Tony Gallippi cited the regulatory environment as reason to establish companies here. ''I believe there is a lower risk of regulatory overreaction here than we have seen in some other markets,'' Mr. Diederichsen said.

Of course the banks are not all happy about this situation. On October 19, 2013 one of the country's oldest daily newspapers, Het Financile Dagblad, published a critical article asking the government to regulate Bitcoin. The four main arguments behind the call for regulation were:

Bitcoin is digital money that can be used anonymously.

Therefore regulators can't estimate systemic risk.

Thereby making Bitcoin a threat to the ''stability and trust'' of the current financial system.

Regulators should restrict ''bad coins'' (the ones they don't like) in favor of ''good coins.''

The authors of the piece, Bas Straathof and Remco Mocking, are both researchers from the Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an independent policy research institution 80% funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, is a member of the conservative Freedom and Democracy Party (VVD), whereas Finance Minister Dijsselbloem is a member of the relatively more liberal and possibly more Bitcoin-friendly Labor Party (PVDA). The current government in the Netherlands is a coalition between these two parties. At least one of the opposition parties is known to be investigating its position on Bitcoin so that there may eventually be a number of different political perspectives on the cryptocurrency from which citizens of the Netherlands can choose.

While it's unlikely that any meaningful steps would be taken on the basis of publications like the piece done by Mr. Straathof and Mr. Mocking, it does show a burning need for education and awareness at all levels of society. The Dutch Bitcoin Foundation, of which I am a board member, was recently created to help raise the level of conversation from ''bad coins'' versus ''good coins'' to something more substantial to help Bitcoin reach its true potential in Dutch society.

When researchers and policymakers begin to have even an inkling of Bitcoin's deeper significance '' more than ''anonymous digicash created by evil hackers to buy contraband from drug dealers'' '' there's a better chance that banks and governments of the world will start to get serious about cleaning up the global mess they've created.

Bitcoin is not a problem that needs to be regulated. To quote our Dutch Minister of Finance, ''Bitcoin is not electronic money.'' Bitcoin is a movement that has grown into a technology that is created by a community of the world's best and brightest as a solution to that very problem of stability and trust.

''

Update:

A slightly longer form of Straathof and Mocking's article has appeared online (in Dutch).

A short (Dutch language) interview has also been published. In the interview they state, ''It is unlikely that Bitcoin will ever prove to be a trustworthy alternative to national currencies like the dollar or euro because no government will guarantee it.''

MIC