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Presidential Proclamation -- Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, 2013

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Archived Version

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:07

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 09, 2013

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY AND HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK, 2013

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Six and a half decades ago, delegates from around the world convened to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, rejecting the notion that individual aspirations should be subject to the whims of tyrants and empires, and affirming every person's right to liberty, equality, and justice under the law. On Human Rights Day and during Human Rights Week, we resolve not only to celebrate these ideals but also to advance them in our time.

Humanity thrives because of our differences; the exchange of ideas among vibrant cultures is a source of innovation, beauty, and vitality. Yet across the globe, our common and inalienable rights bind us as one. All women and men -- across borders and regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income level -- share the freedoms of expression, religion, assembly, and association. We all have the right to take part in government, directly or through freely elected representatives. And as societies, we have the right to choose our own destiny.

But in many parts of the world, people are still persecuted for their beliefs, imprisoned for their ideals, and punished for their convictions. A growing number of countries are passing laws designed to stifle civil society -- including organizations that promote universal human rights, support good governance, and bolster economic development. Securing freedoms that are threatened or denied will require an unceasing commitment. Today and always, let us break down prejudice, amplify the courageous voices that sound the call for change, and reaffirm our unwavering support for the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2013, as Human Rights Day and the week beginning December 10, 2013, as Human Rights Week. I call upon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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

BARACK OBAMA

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About No Agenda Show By Adam Curry and John C Dvorak - A DoD Honeypot Program? - Moral Volcano

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:29

PLEASE NOTE: The original No Agenda Show article has been removed, as I DO NOT ENDORSE THIS SHOW ANYMORE. The show has the feel of a US defence department honeypot program. I still recommend the show as it does educate new listeners on how to break down mainstream media propaganda and identify ulterior motives.

The US government is the biggest manufacturer of conspiracy theories and US mainstream media and news agencies are the biggest disseminators of these "official" conspiracy theories.

A significant section of the American public is aware of this propaganda and they actively seek alternative sources of news and information. To bring the lost flock back into their reality-distortion field, the US government has hired many conspiracy theorists outside the mainstream media. (US government agencies including the Defence and "State" departments have a propaganda budget running into hundreds of billions dollars. Thousands of government workers are employed solely on propaganda purposes meant to influence the public and lawmakers. At any point in time, there are hundreds of journalists, if not thousands, hanging out in the various offices in the Pentagon. (Despite that, there were not many first-person accounts of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. That's how free the American Kremlin is.))

These government-sponsored conspiracy theorists work with varying levels of sophistication. The aim is to feed disinformation to skeptics so that the latter will be laughed out if they ever choose to spread these theories outside their charmed circle of friends and family.

The government-sponsored conspiracy theorists also help in identifying those who are engaged countering government propaganda. Depending on the threat perception, the US government will deploy government agents and even friends and family in monitoring/harassing these individuals.

Adam Curry regularly solicits insider information, particularly from "sysadmins" (computer systems administrators). Anyone sending privileged information to the Show can be traced back, put under surviellance and/or subject to harrassment by their government. (If you absolutely need send the show some secret information, send the e-mail anonymously.) Curry claims that he hosts his e-mail server in his own home and it can handle PGP mail. For a novice, this may sound as if any e-mail to his server is protected from interception. In reality, any connection to his e-mail server can be traced back to the computer from which the mail originated. After that, it is only matter of bugging that computer. Even Curry's computer can be bugged or his PGP key can be copied.I was about to put some ads in local newspapers (Bangalore) for the show when I decided to do some due diligence. So, I started an e-mail conversation with Adam Curry where I got him worked up so much that he strongly asserted that he will not stop talking about TSA x-ray machines until they were gone. But, when I suggested that he raise the question why passengers in private aircraft were not being checked, there was silence. So, it looked like he did not want the Rockefellers and Rothschilds of the world groped at private airfields. If passengers of private aircraft were also to be screened, then it would have put an end to the groping and x-ray machines.) This also inspired me to write a fake news article for TheSpoof.com titled "Naked Body Scanners Out, Anal Probes In," says TSA.)In many of his podcasts, you will find Curry promoting U.S. Congress member Ron Paul. Ron Paul and his family are reportedly associated with secret societies controlled by the Rothschilds. (In Arab countries, the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations performs the role of Freemasonry.) Freemasonry's roadmap for humanity is somewhat like this:Monarchy/Vatican >>Republicanism//Socialism/Dictatorship/Communism/Democracy/Anarchy/Civil War >>World War III/Nuclear Holocaust/Global Epidemic >> World Government

The Rothschilds seek to eliminate the concept of sovereign nation states and are trying to establish a worldwide dictatorship. Ron Paul's job is to take all those who are opposed to the two establishment parties and then dump them in the sea. American voting machine manufacturers are Rothschild fronts. Like in the banking industry, ownership has changed so many hands. The American election system is anyway designed to keep out non-conformists.

If anyone with brains does some research into the many conspiracies against humanity, it is only a matter of time before he/she concludes that Unlimited Money or the Rothschilds are at the root of all evil. But, almost all self-styled truth-seekers ignore the Rothschilds or underplay their role. The Rothschilds are mentioned once in a while (almost apologetically) but they are never identified as the true purveyors of all evil on earth. Like all government-sponsored conspiracy theorists, the show hosts regularly mention the elites but rarely name them.State-sponsored conspiracy theorists tend to talk a lot about aliens. This is done to poison people's mind so that they look really stupid if they start propagating any of these ideas. Conspiracies exist but aliens don't, at least not on earth. When Europeans landed in America, they didn't hide behind bushes or perform unsolicited anal exams (like those aggressive homosexuals from Pentagon/NASA). No, Europeans raped, pillaged and ransacked Indian nations. They brutally and systematically killed a majority of the population. The rest were dispossessed of their wealth and converted to Christianity. Their history was rewritten and their glory defiled beyond recognition. If aliens can travel the distance, they would have already done so and made their presence felt. It is the vastness of space, which has prevented them.Many of the conspiracy theories that Adam Curry promotes are originally taken off Disinfopedia.com. Despite the give-away name, some people are so dumb that they believe all that junk and repost it on other websites. Curry dredges up this information (or someone feeds it to him) and he serves it to all his unwitting listeners. Curry also thinks EU Times run by "Sorcha Faal" is a real news organization. It is not. For example, in February 2011, EU Times wrote a story about Russian "Space Forces" and attributed it to a Russian language website. I went to the website and checked their English version and found it to be that of a Russian company supplying equipment to aluminium and glass industries! No Agenda Show is surely the best podcast in the Universe.Curry, by his own admission, comes from a family with many members who have a "security background". His uncle was an ambassador to North Korea. He is currently married to a Dutch actress named Micky Hoogendijk. She fits the profile of being his handler. (Her first husband lost both his legs when a grenade exploded in their car. Nobody was charged with the crime.) In one No Agenda Episode, Curry mentions that her uncle was a Commie who admitted that he and his other Commie friends feel that a global epidemic, rather than a World War, would be a more tolerable way to reduce the world population. Other than this, I know nothing other than this about Ms. Micky. I've been to her blog once and she seemed like an extremely very nice person. Unfortunately, she also reminds me of the Wikipedia editor "SlimVirgin" who was unmasked as Linda Mack alias Sarah McEwan. (http://wayback.archive.org/web/20120105211717/http://berletwatch.freehostia.com/virgin.htm) Why? I am not sure but it maybe because I had read the Le Carre novel "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold". (BTW, Wikipedia, "the book of knowledge" was founded with seed money from a porn site (Bomis.com and nakked.info) founded by its "co-founder" Jimmy Wales. Rockefellers stooges sit on the board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Rockefellers also control the Encyclopedia Britannica - the paperwork shows a string of different owners, just like the voting machine companies.) I am not comfortable about this particular accusation. I am mentioning this just for the record though we may learn more about it in future. I really hope Curry and Mickey are not agents of the New World Order. That is also why I sent them my best wishes when they got hitched. So, please don't read too much into this particular point and as Bugs Bunny would say I might be wrong you know.Some of the jokes that Curry and Dvorak make about "donors/producers" seem to be like "inside jokes", based on profiles built by security agencies.Curry often makes fun of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones but still says he listens to him regularly (for his guests, he says). After listening to Jones, I felt that most of the material on No Agenda has had its origin in Alex Jones Show and the InfoWars website. In one episodes, Curry confessed to have bought a flouride water filter from "one of the survivalist shows." This was despite the fact that he trashes Jones for selling such items.I am still investigating (like Dvorak, no ETA on this) at which time Dvorak became a Rockefeller/Standard Oil media asset - not much of an asset considering that he predicted Apple would never make much out of its entry in to the phone business and certainly not beat Nokia. He has also been to University of California, Berkeley, which he himself claims is "spook central". Dvorak writes in a fashion similar to Gail Omvedt, an economic hitman or hitwoman from University of Berkeley.Both of these bastards steal my material on a regular basis. Almost every episode these days has a reference to something I have posted on my blog. Once in a while, I may publish more thoughts on the show on my blog. You can find them at http://moralvolcano.wordpress.com/tag/no-agenda-show/. You can also subscribe to the tag feed http://moralvolcano.wordpress.com/tag/no-agenda-show/feed/ if you like to use a feed-reader application.This screenshot was taken before I put the word "conspiracy" in the early version of this article. America.gov has been retired by the US government.

This article was first published in September 2010.

NoAgendaShow.Gov '' Is Adam Curry a Freemason? | Moral Volcano Daily Press

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:51

What's with all the Freemason symbolism and homage in this podcast?

These two guys freak me out '' Adam Curry and John C Dvorak. Early this year, I bought two USB speakers a few days apart. In the next podcast of the No Agenda Show, Dvorak constructs a situation and asks, ''Why does he have two USB speakers?'' What are the odds of anyone buying two USB speakers a few days apart and have it echoed in a PODCAST thousands of miles away?

Stuff that appears on this blog do get mentioned on their show. That could be explained away by the fact Gitmo Detox Press (http://inthemorningzen.wordpress.com/) is following this blog (the only one to do so). This guy seems to be a big fan of the show and also of BitSync technology that Curry occasionally talks about.

How do they get to know stuff that happens offline? (I did blog about the speakers much later.) I am not sure. So, I started listening to old episodes to see how long this has been going on. Not much there. It seems to have started only recently. However, I discovered something else that was curious. All these years, Curry seems to have been sucking up to Freemasons in a fashion not different from others in the entertainment business. (If you follow Vigilant Citizen website or the Vigital Citizen RSS Feed, you will know how to spot the howlers.) Anyway, here is an excerpt from end of episode #134.

Rainbow children is how members of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls are referred. It is a club meant for female offsprings of Freemasons. I am not sure if Dvorak is a Freemason but it was he introduced titles such as Knights to listeners of the show.

BTW, both Dvorak and Curry are principals at a video hosting site called Mevio. It has received funding from venture capital firms including Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital, the same people who have funded Google. Curry says he is not taking a salary and dividends from Mevio and will instead wait for it to make money for other investors. Until then, he has taken a vow of poverty. Very well, then.

Adam Curry is a co-founder of Mevio. John C Dvorak is a Vice President there. The firms has received millions from venture capital firms.

It all started from this article: http://www.vsubhash.com/article.asp?id=105&info=About_No_Agenda_Show_By_Adam_Curry_and_John_C_Dvorak

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Moral Volcano is unsafe for children and pregnant women. Adults may experience discomfort when reading Moral Volcano. Symptomatic treatment is recommended. Moral Volcano has nothing to do with morals or volcanoes.

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SnowJob

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Spies Infiltrate a Fantasy Realm of Online Games - NYTimes.com

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:17

Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.

Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.

The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games '-- fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions '-- American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers.

Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 N.S.A. document warned, but they had the potential to be a ''target-rich communication network'' allowing intelligence suspects ''a way to hide in plain sight.'' Virtual games ''are an opportunity!'' another 2008 N.S.A. document declared.

But for all their enthusiasm '-- so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a ''deconfliction'' group was needed to avoid collisions '-- the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.

The documents, obtained by The Guardian and shared with The New York Times and ProPublica, do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort. Former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.

Games ''are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players' identity and activity is tracked,'' said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of ''Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.'' ''For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.''

The surveillance, which also included Microsoft's Xbox Live, could raise privacy concerns. It is not clear exactly how the agencies got access to gamers' data or communications, how many players may have been monitored or whether Americans' communications or activities were captured.

One American company, the maker of World of Warcraft, said that neither the N.S.A. nor its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, had gotten permission to gather intelligence in its game. Many players are Americans, who can be targeted for surveillance only with approval from the nation's secret intelligence court. The spy agencies, though, face far fewer restrictions on collecting certain data or communications overseas.

"We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif., which makes World of Warcraft. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."

A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment. Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and a former chief executive officer of Linden Lab, the game's maker, declined to comment on the spying revelations. Current Linden executives did not respond to requests for comment.

A Government Communications Headquarters spokesman would neither confirm nor deny any involvement by that agency in gaming surveillance, but said that its work is conducted under ''a strict legal and policy framework'' with rigorous oversight. An N.S.A. spokeswoman declined to comment.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials became interested in games after some became enormously popular, drawing tens of millions of people worldwide, from preteens to retirees. The games rely on lifelike graphics, virtual currencies and the ability to speak to other players in real time. Some gamers merge the virtual and real worlds by spending long hours playing and making close online friends.

In World of Warcraft, players share the same fantasy universe '-- walking around and killing computer-controlled monsters or the avatars of other players, including elves, animals or creatures known as orcs. In Second Life, players create customized human avatars that can resemble themselves or take on other personas '-- supermodels and bodybuilders are popular '-- who can socialize, buy and sell virtual goods, and go places like beaches, cities, art galleries and strip clubs. In Microsoft's Xbox Live service, subscribers connect online in games that can involve activities like playing soccer or shooting at each other in space.

According to American officials and the documents, spy agencies grew worried that terrorist groups might take to the virtual worlds to establish safe communications channels.

In 2007, as the N.S.A. and other intelligence agencies were beginning to explore virtual games, N.S.A. officials met with the chief technology officer for the manufacturer of Second Life, the San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The executive, Cory Ondrejka, was a former Navy officer who had worked at the N.S.A. with a top-secret security clearance.

He visited the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., in May 2007 to speak to staff members over a brown bag lunch, according to an internal agency announcement. ''Second Life has proven that virtual worlds of social networking are a reality: come hear Cory tell you why!'' said the announcement. It added that virtual worlds gave the government the opportunity ''to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviors of non-Americans through observation, without leaving U.S. soil.''

Mr. Ondrejka, now the director of mobile engineering at Facebook, said through a representative that the N.S.A. presentation was similar to others he gave in that period, and declined to comment further.

Even with spies already monitoring games, the N.S.A. thought it needed to step up the effort.

''The Sigint Enterprise needs to begin taking action now to plan for collection, processing, presentation and analysis of these communications,'' said one April 2008 N.S.A. document, referring to ''signals intelligence.'' The document added, ''With a few exceptions, N.S.A. can't even recognize the traffic,'' meaning that the agency could not distinguish gaming data from other Internet traffic.

By the end of 2008, according to one document, the British spy agency, known as GCHQ, had set up its ''first operational deployment into Second Life'' and had helped the police in London in cracking down on a crime ring that had moved into virtual worlds to sell stolen credit card information. The British spies running the effort, which was code-named Operation Galician, were aided by an informer using a digital avatar ''who helpfully volunteered information on the target group's latest activities.''

Though the games might appear to be unregulated digital bazaars, the companies running them reserve the right to police the communications of players and store the chat dialogues in servers that can be searched later. The transactions conducted with the virtual money common in the games, used in World of Warcraft to buy weapons and potions to slay monsters, are also monitored by the companies to prevent illicit financial dealings.

In the 2008 N.S.A. document, titled ''Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,'' the agency said that ''terrorist target selectors'' '-- which could be a computer's Internet Protocol address or an email account '-- ''have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft'' and other games. But that document does not present evidence that terrorists were participating in the games.

Still, the intelligence agencies found other benefits in infiltrating these online worlds. According to the minutes of a January 2009 meeting, GCHQ's ''network gaming exploitation team'' had identified engineers, embassy drivers, scientists and other foreign intelligence operatives to be World of Warcraft players '-- potential targets for recruitment as agents.

At Menwith Hill, a Royal Air Force base in the Yorkshire countryside that the N.S.A. has long used as an outpost to intercept global communications, American and British intelligence operatives started an effort in 2008 to begin collecting data from World of Warcraft.

One N.S.A. document said that the World of Warcraft monitoring ''continues to uncover potential Sigint value by identifying accounts, characters and guilds related to Islamic extremist groups, nuclear proliferation and arms dealing.'' In other words, targets of interest appeared to be playing the fantasy game, though the document does not indicate that they were doing so for any nefarious purposes. A British document from later that year said that GCHQ had ''successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live.''

By 2009, the collection was extensive. One document says that while GCHQ was testing its ability to spy on Second Life in real time, British intelligence officers vacuumed up three days' worth of Second Life chat, instant message and financial transaction data, totaling 176,677 lines of data, which included the content of the communications.

For their part, players have openly wondered whether the N.S.A. might be watching them.

In one World of Warcraft discussion thread, begun just days after the first Snowden revelations appeared in the news media in June, a human death knight with the user name ''Crrassus'' asked whether the N.S.A. might be reading game chat logs.

''If they ever read these forums,'' wrote a goblin priest with the user name ''Diaya,'' ''they would realize they were wasting'' their time.

Even before the American government began spying in virtual worlds, the Pentagon had identified the potential intelligence value of video games. The Pentagon's Special Operations Command in 2006 and 2007 worked with several foreign companies '-- including an obscure digital media business based in Prague '-- to build games that could be downloaded to mobile phones, according to people involved in the effort. They said the games, which were not identified as creations of the Pentagon, were then used as vehicles for intelligence agencies to collect information about the users.

Eager to cash in on the government's growing interest in virtual worlds, several large private contractors have spent years pitching their services to American intelligence agencies. In one 66-page document from 2007, part of the cache released by Mr. Snowden, the contracting giant SAIC promoted its ability to support ''intelligence collection in the game space,'' and warned that online games could be used by militant groups to recruit followers and could provide ''terrorist organizations with a powerful platform to reach core target audiences.''

It is unclear whether SAIC received a contract based on this proposal, but one former SAIC employee said that the company at one point had a lucrative contract with the C.I.A. for work that included monitoring the Internet for militant activity. An SAIC spokeswoman declined to comment.

In spring 2009, academics and defense contractors gathered at the Marriott at Washington Dulles International Airport to present proposals for a government study about how players' behavior in a game like World of Warcraft might be linked to their real-world identities. ''We were told it was highly likely that persons of interest were using virtual spaces to communicate or coordinate,'' said Dmitri Williams, a professor at the University of Southern California who received grant money as part of the program.

After the conference, both SAIC and Lockheed Martin won contracts worth several million dollars, administered by an office within the intelligence community that finances research projects.

It is not clear how useful such research might be. A group at the Palo Alto Research Center, for example, produced a government-funded study of World of Warcraft that found ''younger players and male players preferring competitive, hack-and-slash activities, and older and female players preferring noncombat activities,'' such as exploring the virtual world. A group from the nonprofit SRI International, meanwhile, found that players under age 18 often used all capital letters both in chat messages and in their avatar names.

Those involved in the project were told little by their government patrons. According to Nick Yee, a Palo Alto researcher who worked on the effort, ''We were specifically asked not to speculate on the government's motivations and goals.''

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting.

Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies | World news | The Guardian

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:23

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.

The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games' tech-friendly users.

Online gaming is big business, attracting tens of millions of users worldwide who inhabit their digital worlds as make-believe characters, living and competing with the avatars of other players. What the intelligence agencies feared, however, was that among these clans of elves and goblins, terrorists were lurking.

The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".

Games, the analyst wrote, "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other.

If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.

The ability to extract communications from talk channels in games would be necessary, the NSA paper argued, because of the potential for them to be used to communicate anonymously: Second Life was enabling anonymous texts and planning to introduce voice calls, while game noticeboards could, it states, be used to share information on the web addresses of terrorism forums.

Given that gaming consoles often include voice headsets, video cameras, and other identifiers, the potential for joining together biometric information with activities was also an exciting one.

But the documents contain no indication that the surveillance ever foiled any terrorist plots, nor is there any clear evidence that terror groups were using the virtual communities to communicate as the intelligence agencies predicted.

The operations raise concerns about the privacy of gamers. It is unclear how the agencies accessed their data, or how many communications were collected. Nor is it clear how the NSA ensured that it was not monitoring innocent Americans whose identity and nationality may have been concealed behind their virtual avatar.

The California-based producer of World of Warcraft said neither the NSA nor GCHQ had sought its permission to gather intelligence inside the game. "We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."

Microsoft declined to comment on the latest revelations, as did Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and former CEO of Linden Lab, the game's operator. The company's executives did not respond to requests for comment.

The NSA declined to comment on the surveillance of games. A spokesman for GCHQ said the agency did not "confirm or deny" the revelations but added: "All GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the intelligence and security committee."

Though the spy agencies might have been relatively late to virtual worlds and the communities forming there, once the idea had been mooted, they joined in enthusiastically.

In May 2007, the then-chief operating officer of Second Life gave a "brown-bag lunch" address at the NSA explaining how his game gave the government "the opportunity to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviours of non-Americans through observation, without leaving US soil".

One problem the paper's unnamed author and others in the agency faced in making their case '' and avoiding suspicion that their goal was merely to play computer games at work without getting fired '' was the difficulty of proving terrorists were even thinking about using games to communicate.

A 2007 invitation to a secret internal briefing noted "terrorists use online games '' but perhaps not for their amusement. They are suspected of using them to communicate secretly and to transfer funds." But the agencies had no evidence to support their suspicions.

The same still seemed to hold true a year later, albeit with a measure of progress: games data that had been found in connection with internet protocol addresses, email addresses and similar information linked to terrorist groups.

"Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and '... have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [games and virtual environments]," the document notes. "Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members."

However, that information wasn not enough to show terrorists are hiding out as pixels to discuss their next plot. Such data could merely mean someone else in an internet cafe was gaming, or a shared computer had previously been used to play games.

That lack of knowledge of whether terrorists were actually plotting online emerges in the document's recommendations: "The amount of GVEs in the world is growing but the specific ones that CT [counter-terrorism] needs to be methodically discovered and validated," it stated. "Only then can we find evidence that GVEs are being used for operational uses."

Not actually knowing whether terrorists were playing games was not enough to keep the intelligence agencies out of them, however. According to the document, GCHQ had already made a "vigorous effort" to exploit games, including "exploitation modules" against Xbox Live and World of Warcraft.

That effort, based in the agency's New Mission Development Centre in the Menwith Hill air force base in North Yorkshire, was already paying dividends by May 2008.

At the request of GCHQ, the NSA had begun a deliberate effort to extract World of Warcraft metadata from their troves of intelligence, and trying to link "accounts, characters and guilds" to Islamic extremism and arms dealing efforts. A later memo noted that among the game's active subscribers were "telecom engineers, embassy drivers, scientists, the military and other intelligence agencies".

The UK agency did not stop at World of Warcraft: by September a memo noted GCHQ had "successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live".

Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA, and the Defense Humint Service were all running human intelligence operations '' undercover agents '' within Second Life. In fact, so crowded were the virtual worlds with staff from the different agencies, that there was a need to try to "deconflict" their efforts '' or, in other words, to make sure each agency wasn't just duplicating what the others were doing.

By the end of 2008, such efforts had produced at least one usable piece of intelligence, according to the documents: following the successful takedown of a website used to trade stolen credit card details, the fraudsters moved to Second Life '' and GCHQ followed, having gained their first "operational deployment" into the virtual world. This, they noted, put them in touch with an "avatar [game character] who helpfully volunteered information on the target group's latest activities".

Second Life continued to occupy the intelligence agencies' thoughts throughout 2009. One memo noted the game's economy was "essentially unregulated" and so "will almost certainly be used as a venue for terrorist laundering and will, with certainty, be used for terrorist propaganda and recruitment".

In reality, Second Life's surreal and uneven virtual world failed to attract or maintain the promised mass-audience, and attention (and its user base) waned, though the game lives on.

The agencies had other concerns about games, beyond their potential use by terrorists to communicate. Much like the pressure groups that worry about the effect of computer games on the minds of children, the NSA expressed concerns that games could be used to "reinforce prejudices and cultural stereotypes", noting that Hezbollah had produced a game called Special Forces 2.

According to the document, Hezbollah's "press section acknowledges [the game] is used for recruitment and training", serving as a "radicalising medium" with the ultimate goal of becoming a "suicide martyr". Despite the game's disturbing connotations, the "fun factor" of the game cannot be discounted, it states. As Special Forces 2 retails for $10, it concludes, the game also serves to "fund terrorist operations".

Hezbollah is not, however, the only organisation to have considered using games for recruiting. As the NSA document acknowledges: they got the idea from the US army.

"America's Army is a US army-produced game that is free [to] download from its recruitment page," says the NSA, noting the game is "acknowledged to be so good at this the army no longer needs to use it for recruitment, they use it for training".

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BFP Breaking News- Omidyar's PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documents

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 01:25

The U.S. Government, An Implicated Billionaire, Fortune-Seeking Journalists & A Public in the DarkThe 50,000-pages of documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contain extensive documentation of PayPal Corporation's partnership and cooperation with the National Security Agency (NSA), according to three NSA veterans. To date, no information has been released as to the extent of the working relationship and cooperation between the two entities- NSA and PayPal Corporation. What's more, the billionaire owner of PayPal Corporation has entered into a$250 Million business partnershipwith two journalists-Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, a journalist duo who possess the entire cache of evidence provided by Edward Snowden. Despite earlier pledges by the journalists in question,only one percent(1%) of Snowden's documents has been released.

BFP was recently contacted by a retired NSA official who claims that the documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contain extensive documentation pertaining to NSA's partnership with major U.S. financial institutions, including credit card companies and PayPal Corporation. The official, who requested anonymity, also alleges thata dealwas made in early June, 2013 between the journalists involved in this recent NSA scandal and U.S. government officials, which was then sealed by secrecy and nondisclosure agreements by all parties involved.

Upon receiving this report BFP contacted three other high-level former NSA officials for additional information and comments.

On December 11, 2013 we contacted Mr. William Binney, a former top official at the National Security Agency (NSA), and asked him to comment on the legitimacy of the above report, and whether he had any knowledge of the partnership and cooperation between NSA and financial institutions such as PayPal. He confirmed the legitimacy of the report and added:

The NSA has had the cooperation of major financial institutions, including credit card companies, to obtain all financial transactions of these companies' clients-international and domestic. Further, the NSA not only obtains and stores the financial data of Americans and foreigners, but it also shares them with other government agencies such as the FBI and DEA.

When asked about the apparent conflict of interest and controversy involving the new business venture between the journalists in question and PayPal's billionaire owner Pierre Omidyar, he had the following statement:

Sunlight, transparency, is the only cure; the only way to bring about needed changes. This is why the public is entitled to have all the evidence and documents. The partnership with PayPal's owner, thus, the new ownership of Mr. Snowden's documents by an individual who is implicated in these documents, presents grave concerns and consequences, and a major conflict of interest for transparency, integrity and whistleblowers.

Russell Tice, a former NSA Intelligence Analyst and Capabilities Operations Officer, also confirmed the report, and stated that based on his knowledge, NSA regularly obtains financial information from major financial institutions, including credit card companies and PayPal. In January 2009, duringan interviewwith Keith Olberman, he stated that information from credit card records and other financial transaction was being collected and stored by NSA (See the interviewhere).

On December 10, 2013, in an exclusive interview with BFP, Mr. Tice expanded upon the NSA-Financial Institutions collusion:

For NSA, information from financial institutions such as PayPal is equally if not more valuable and sought after than that obtained from social media and other software companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google.'' He added, ''I wouldn't doubt the existence of evidence and documents implicating corporations such as PayPal within the large cache obtained by Edward Snowden. The partnership and data collection arrangements have existed for many years.''

When asked about his opinion on Glenn Greenwald's new $250 Million venture partnership with PayPal Corporation's billionaire owner Pierre Omidyar, multi-million dollar book and movie deals, and recent unexplained immunity from the U.S. government, he stated the following:

''I would be outraged and highly vocal if I were in Edward Snowden's shoes. For a journalist whom I had placed my trust in to go and withhold documents meant for the public?! For the journalist to make fortune and fame based on my sacrifices and disclosure?! Forming a lucrative business partnership with entities who have direct conflicts of interest?! No. That wouldn't have been acceptable.''

Despite our submitted requests for confirmation, denial or comments, PayPal has refrained from responding to this report and contained allegations.

Other whistleblowers from the intelligence community have also expressed grave concerns over the serious implications of the recent venture partnership between journalist Glenn Greenwald and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar. Indeed, the journalists in question have decided to hold back the release of the remaining 99% of the whistleblower's documents, and have been inconsistent and vague as to when and how much they intend to release further documents. Their decision to withhold the majority of the documents appears to coincide with theirnew $250 million business venturewith PayPal's Omidyar, and recentmega-bucks bookandmoviedeals.

Crytome.Org'sJohn Young, whom we sought comments from for this news story, considers the claims by these former NSA insiders valid and legitimate:

Government access to financial transactions has always been top priority for all government agencies, worldwide. Nothing is more important to governments than where the money is, especially money for taxation required to avoid death-stake in the heart of governments. So it is consistent that NSA (and other spies) have access to all on- and off-line financial services providers. As you know, financial services are required to cooperate with their governments, perhaps second only to defense industries, perhaps first due to the need to track worldwide arms sales. Control of arms means control of wealth, and nothing is more appreciated by the few wealthy to offload arms cost to millions of taxpayers.

We asked Mr. Young how he viewed the implications of the same billionaire who is allegedly implicated in these documents, buying out the involved reporters (both of them) and getting ownership of the whistleblower's leaked documents:

Billionaires are as obliged as financial services to cooperate with governments in order to protect their wealth and to guard against excessive taxation, expropriation, confiscation, prosecution, stigmatization and exclusion from government contracts. Cooperation with governments is essential for wealth accumulation, the greater the wealth the greater the cooperation'... Whistleblowing on the whistleblowing industry is overdue, but that will take courage and ingenuity to avoid appearing to have been taken over by those expecting to avoid full disclosure.

Here is what WikiLeaks had tosayabout Pierre Omidyar and his PayPal Corporation's war on whistleblowers:

''How can you take something seriously when the person behind this platform went along with the financial boycott against WikiLeaks?'' Harrison was referring to the decision in December 2010 by PayPal, which is owned by eBay, to suspend WikiLeaks' donation account and freeze its assets after pressure from the US government. The company's boycott, combined with similar action taken by Visa and Mastercard, left WikiLeaks facing a funding crisis.

''His excuse is probably that there is nothing he could have done at the time,'' Harrison continued. ''Well, he is on the board of directors. He can't shake off responsibility that easily. He didn't even comment on it. He could have said something like: 'we were forced to do this, but I am against it'.''

Whistleblower William Russell, who served with the NSA, U.S. Secret Service, and as an officer and transport pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps, had the following reaction to this exploitive PayPal-Journalist-Government collusion:

I completely agree with these whistleblowers. This is a major conflict of interest and highly convoluted. Omidyar has billions at stake if the details of his cooperation with government is ever exposed. So this guy pays $250 million and buys out the 2 journalists who have the entire cache?! Simply outrageous!''

Sibel Edmonds, the founder and director of National Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) which represents over 150 government national security whistleblowers, states:

We have been told that these journalists have had over one hundred meetings with U.S. government officials in order to clear what ''could be'' or ''could not be'' released. That's a fact, and it is highly disturbing. On one hand they say the government considers these documents and revelations highly classified and stolen property. Yet, we see a mainstream publisher offering millions of dollars to the journalist, and getting a 'go ahead' from the US government to publish it. We see a billionaire corporate man, never known for being pro civil liberties or Human Rights, and someone who is implicated in these illegal government activities paying off the journalists and getting ownership of the NSA documents. We see a government sanctioned Hollywood mega-million movie deal. We see lies, inconsistencies, contradictions, censorship, voluntary withholding, exploitation of a whistleblower '... This smoke and mirrors filled fakery stinks to high heaven!

Asstatedby Guardian's Rusbridger, who recently gave evidence to the British parliamentary committee about stories based on Snowden's NSA leaks: Greenwald and the Guardian had consulted with government officials and intelligence agencies '' including the FBI, GCHQ, the White House and the Cabinet Office '' on more than 100 occasions before the publication of stories.

The enormous conflict of interest and ethical impropriety of PayPal owner Omidyar's business venture with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist in possession of the documents, is not limited to PayPal being directly implicated in documents exposing NSA's illegal activities and operations. There are other equally disturbing and outrageous facts that put in question the integrity of the journalists, including their sudden enormous gains, wealth, fame, and the apparent government's consent.

There isdocumented evidenceillustrating Pierre Omidyar's historical attitude and position on publishers, reporters and whistleblowers who publicize incriminating government documents. Here is one, coming directly from billionaire Omidyar:

That's right. The above twit was typed by Omidyar's own fingers on July 16, 2009.

But please don't be mistaken. Pierre Omidyar doesn't only talk the talk. No sir, the man actually walks his talk. Slightly over a year after Omidyar made the above statement he engaged in the followingaction:

NEW YORK: US-based online payment service PayPal has decided to block financial transfers to WikiLeaks after governments around the world initiated legal action against the whistleblower website.

''PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity,'' PayPal said in statement released late Friday.

Wikileaks was not the only whistleblower entity to fall victim to PayPal's war on government whistleblowers'. In 2011, two years after freezing Wikileaks' account, Omidyar's PayPal cut off the account forBradley Manning Support:

Glyn Moody now points us to the news that PayPal has also decided to cut off the group ''Courage to Resist,'' which was handling funds for Bradley Manning's defense effort. PayPal admits there's no legal basis for this. Apparently, the company just doesn't believe that some people should be allowed a fair trial.

The report also notes that they've had a PayPal account in good standing since 2006, with no problems at all. It's only once they were taking funds for Bradley Manning that PayPal shut them down. This is somewhat horrifying, frankly, and raises serious questions about PayPal as a business worth trusting.

Then, yet another recent example of violations inflicted by PayPal, this timeupon Mailpile. Mailpile attempted to create a webmail client that is built with both security and usability in mind to counter government's intrusions into hosted webmail accounts:

PayPal, for reasons known only to PayPal, has decided tofreeze their funds and won't let Mailpile access the money that people donated'...PayPal is demanding an insane level of detail into Mailpile's personal finances and business'...Even worse, it seems that the folks at PayPal recognize that it holds power over Mailpile, and seems almost to be lording that power over them'...

The history of the billionaire's stand and actions, when it comes to liberties, whistleblowers and freedom of the press, seems to be limited to: opposing, fighting and quashing government whistleblowers at every chance. Simply put, Mr. Omidyar has been consistently maintaining his stand as a billionaire who is pro-government, anti-government whistleblowers, and against transparency.

Omidyar's pro government and anti-whistleblowers philosophy and principles are shared equally when it comes to his partners and close associates. Here is Mr. Omidyar's PayPal Partner and close friend- Max Levchin, whosaysthat the NSA isn't being evil, and that the agency's violation is for our own good and protection from terrorists:

The NSA is designed to protect us from terrorism, so even if it oversteps its bounds, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin says we shouldn't hate it. That's diametrically opposed to the sentiment of many in the tech industry, including Michael Arrington who thinks the NSA's spying doesn't stop terrorism '--it is terrorism.

''I think it's ridiculous for a citizen of a country that view his government's duty to protect me, protect all of us from evil, from harm, from terrorists, from foreign powers meaning ill '-- to classify a body of government that is designed to figure out what might hit us next and prevent it, throwing them into an evil bucket is just thoughtless.''

Let's watch Pierre Omidyar's PayPal partner and close friend in action, shall we?

PayPal Co-Founder Defends NSA SurveillanceThis interview was conducted in the summer of 2013. This was right in the midst of the Edward Snowden and NSA Scandal. This is what Pierre Omidyar and his closest friend and PayPal partner believed then. And this is what they believe now. There has been no change either in Omidyar's or his partner's position and belief since. There has been zero indication of either of them seeing the light called civil liberties.

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is not the only PayPal man who is pro-NSA illegal surveillance and corporate-government partnerships in targeting the population at large. Here areother PayPal Menand former partners who have been directly linked to government spying and surveillance operations, and of course, the CIA:

Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley firm, is, according to the tipster, providing the technology that enables the mass-surveillance NSA project known asPRISM.

Palantir (which, at time of writing, had not responded to requests for comment) was founded in 2004 by, among others, venture capitalist Peter Thiel and CEO Alex Karp. It's a sort of second-party data intelligence company''it's not a public company, but it was founded with early investment from the CIA and is heavily used by the military and theWhite House. Karp is an ex-PayPal guy, and leveraged his expertise in security he gained at PayPal (which was constantly fighting off hackers) into his new venture.

Here is more on thisCIA Companyand its originators, all from PayPal's early days:

Palantir's advisors include Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet, who says in an interview that ''I wish we had a tool of its power'' before 9/11. General David Petraeus, the most recent former CIA chief, describes Palantir to FORBES as ''a better mousetrap when a better mousetrap was needed'' '...

We must not forget PayPal's position and its actual business goals. PayPal is an international e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. It operates in 190 markets and manages more than 232 million accounts, more than 100 million of them active. PayPal allows customers to send, receive, and hold funds in 26 currencies worldwide. It is subject to the US economic sanction list and subject to other rules and interventions required by US laws or the government. All that, and the fact that PayPal has always been a valuable asset and partner of the U.S. government, even when it comes to operations directed against the people's rights and privacy.

Remember, NSA wants access to our data. All data. Based on the latest revelations we alreadyknowthat:

''Companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft '-- they all get together with the NSA and provide the NSA with direct access to the backends to all of the systems you use to communicate, to store your data, to put things in the cloud, and even just to send birthday wishes and keep a record of your life. And they give the NSA direct access that they don't need to oversee, so they can't be held liable for it.''

So far, Greenwald and the rest of the mainstream media have been emphasizing a handful of company names valuable to the NSA as great sources of data gathering on individuals '' companies and organizations such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft. Now think about it, if NSA is that interested in garbage personal details we post on Facebook, how interested would it be in a far more telling database such as PayPal, where it can get all our expenditures, money transfers, payments and donations?

Prior to Snowden revelations we had NSA's easy access to and control of telecommunication companies such as AT&T and Verizon. Recently, based on less than 1% of Snowden's documents we became aware of NSA's incestuous partnership with social media and software companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

We still don't have access to 99% of Snowden's NSA documents and revelations. Obviously the 50,000+ page documentations includes many other companies and organizations, including those in possession of the public's financial transaction data. We are talking credit card companies and other related financial institutions. More importantly, we are talking about one of the world's largest online money transfer entities, PayPal Corporation.

Thus, we all should be alarmed when we see that those implicated in the whistleblower's documented evidence are now forming a multi-million dollar business venture with those in possession of that evidence. We all must question the unexplained changes in the U.S. government's position on the ownership and publication of these documents. We must all be wary when we see how readily mainstream publishers and Hollywood studios are signing up to publicize these documents and the case with some unexplained immunity. We have to ask ourselves: what has changed? What gives? Only a few months ago there was all this talks about apprehension, jailing, hanging and droning of all parties involved. Only a few months ago the parties involved put on a magnificent show on how they were threatened, endangered, and were going to be persecuted and prosecuted. Then, suddenly, something changed. Something gave. Was it a secret deal struck between the government and the involved parties establishing immunity and support in return for something much more cynical and dark? Was it the involved parties using the cache as a blackmailing tool to secure a $250 million payoff? Was it a solemn oath to withhold and never release the 'real' deal in return for a glamorous life with Hollywood studio deals and multi-million dollar book contracts?

Which one is it? We have no way of knowing, since lips seem to have been sealed, and the release of the 'real' documents has been vaguely put on hold for years to come. On the other hand, thanks to some 'real' whistleblowers out there, we are getting some information putting this smoke and mirrors filled stage into perspective. Even if so far we have gotten to see only the tip of this convoluted and corrupted iceberg.

Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor ofBoiling Frogs Post, the Founder & Director ofNational Security Whistleblowers Coalition(NSWBC), and the author of the MemoirClassified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is therecipientof the 2006 PEN Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her ''commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy'' Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

William Binney Spent almost 40 years at the NSA but resigned after Sept. 11 over concerns about growing domestic surveillance. He spent time as director of the NSA's World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group and was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency's worldwide eavesdropping network.

Russell Tice is a Former NSA Intelligence Analyst & Capabilities Operations Officer Specializing in Offensive Information Warfare (O-IW). In 2005 Tice helped spark a national controversy over claims that the NSA and the DIA were engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional wiretaps on US citizens, and later admitted that he was one of the sources that were used in the NY Times' reporting on the wiretap activity in 2005.

William H. Russell served nine years with the U.S. Secret Service as a Computer Systems Analyst, and nine years with NSA, working with and supervising NSA contractors for the installation and testing of computer systems. Mr. Russell also served four years as officer and transport pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1957, and is a Graduate of McPherson College, Kansas in Business Administration.

John Young is the founder and publisher ofCrytome.Org, the digital library that functions as a repository for information about freedom of speech, cryptography, spying, and surveillance. According to its mission statement, ''Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance'--open, secret and classified documents'--but not limited to those.''

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New US spy satellite features world-devouring octopus | Ars Technica

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 20:30

President Obama is out to put the public's mind at ease about new revelations on intelligence-gathering, but the Office for the Director of National Intelligence can't quite seem to get with the program of calming everyone down.

Over the weekend, the ODNI was pumpingup the launch of a new surveillance satellite launched by the National Reconnaissance Office. The satellite was launched late Thursday night, and ODNI's Twitter feed posted photos and video of the launch over the following days.

Unmistakable was the new NRO logo that goes with this satellite: "Nothing is Beyond Our Reach," it says, featuring an octopus with its arms wrapped around the globe.

It's the kind of picture that you might think up if you were devising an emblem for a villain in a superhero movie.

"NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature," an NRO spokeswoman told Forbes on Friday before launch. "Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide."

While the NRO might be thinking that the octopus represents versatility and intelligence, the mysterious creature has often been used as a symbol for a scary, evil kind of intelligence in popular culture. In the James Bond movie series, the organization long serving as Bond's archenemy was named SPECTRE, had a black octopus logo, and ran an underwater black market called The Octopus. In a later Bond movievideo game, SPECTRE simply changed its name to OCTOPUS.

In any case, emphasizing that "nothing is beyond our reach" is not necessarily the image the government may want to be sending out right now, with many in Congress considering reeling in data-gathering. The octopus is, at best, an untimely selection. "You may want to downplay the massive spying dragnet thing right now," tweeted privacy activist Chris Soghoian once it was published Friday. "This logo isn't helping."

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Silicon Valley Kings Write Half-Assed Outrage Letter to NSA

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Archived Version

Source: Valleywag

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:06

S

It only took half a year for the un-beating heart of America's tech sector to show any unified opposition to NSA dragnet techniques: ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com is a lazy piece of PR dreck'--and about as transparently self-serving as it gets.

Of course, companies like Google and AOL'--which stay in existence by trading in private information'--don't want competition. It won't be good for recruiting if promising CS students think the hottest privacy violation game in town is with the feds, not Facebook. Nor is it good for business if we think our most mainstream of mainstream tech companies are cooperating with federal spooks without any fight. Do something, guys. At least make a principled website, come on! So here we have a loose coalition of competitors who can unite under their common resentment of government spying and publish an "open letter to Washington."

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual '-- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure '-- deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Chief among their enumerated demands, are "Limiting Governments' Authority to Collect Users' Information," and "Transparency About Government Demands."

I have no doubt many (most?) employees at these Valley titans really do hate the NSA, and value citizen privacy. But they're also the reason why PRISM worked to begin with'--there can't be any massive, shocking data-mining without massive, shocking pools of data to mine in the first place. The Facebook League wants to be able to essentially do what the NSA does'--collect our every move and message online'--but do so for revenues, not reconnaissance. This "open letter" isn't in defense of your privacy or the sanctity of information, but a matter of who gets it.

But remember: the NSA can't pull anything from these companies that they haven't already pulled from you first. No amount of open letter-ing or principled CEO quoting will be able to change that'--but the HTML smoke and mirrors could be enough to distract a credulous and easily sidelined public. They tried, we can say. Remember, they tried with that website. But if this is all really keeping Zuckerberg up at night, it would be nice to see him build a lobbying machine (we know he can!), get yet another meeting with Obama, go to Congress in person'--something that's not a 15-minute website.

Reform Government Surveillance

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:45

Reform Government SurveillanceGlobal Government Surveillance ReformThe undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world's governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.

While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens' safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.

Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.

The Principles1Limiting Governments' Authority to Collect Users' InformationGovernments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users' reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.

2Oversightand AccountabilityIntelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.

3Transparency About Government DemandsTransparency is essential to a debate over governments' surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

4Respecting the Free Flow of InformationThe ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country's borders or operate locally.

5Avoiding Conflicts Among GovernmentsIn order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty '-- or ''MLAT'' '-- processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

Voices For Reform''AOL is committed to preserving the privacy of our customers' information, while respecting the right of governments to request information on specific users for lawful purposes. AOL is proud to unite with other leading Internet companies to advocate on behalf of our consumers.'' '--Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL

''Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.'' '--Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

''The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information. This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world. It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.'' '--Larry Page, CEO, Google

''These principles embody LinkedIn's fundamental commitment to transparency and ensuring appropriate government practices that are respectful of our members' expectations.'' '--Erika Rottenberg, General Counsel, LinkedIn

''People won't use technology they don't trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.'' '--Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

''Twitter is committed to defending and protecting the voice of our users. Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information and restricts their voice. The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression.'' '--Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter

''Protecting the privacy of our users is incredibly important to Yahoo. Recent revelations about government surveillance activities have shaken the trust of our users, and it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world. Today we join our colleagues in the tech industry calling on the United States Congress to change surveillance laws in order to ensure transparency and accountability for government actions.'' '--Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

An open letter to WashingtonDear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual '-- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure '-- deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

(C) 2013. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Reform Government SurveillanceGlobal Government Surveillance ReformThe undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world's governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.

While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens' safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.

Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.

The Principles1Limiting Governments' Authority to Collect Users' InformationGovernments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users' reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.

2Oversightand AccountabilityIntelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.

3Transparency About Government DemandsTransparency is essential to a debate over governments' surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

4Respecting the Free Flow of InformationThe ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country's borders or operate locally.

5Avoiding Conflicts Among GovernmentsIn order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty '-- or ''MLAT'' '-- processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

Voices For Reform''AOL is committed to preserving the privacy of our customers' information, while respecting the right of governments to request information on specific users for lawful purposes. AOL is proud to unite with other leading Internet companies to advocate on behalf of our consumers.'' '--Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL

''Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.'' '--Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

''The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information. This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world. It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.'' '--Larry Page, CEO, Google

''These principles embody LinkedIn's fundamental commitment to transparency and ensuring appropriate government practices that are respectful of our members' expectations.'' '--Erika Rottenberg, General Counsel, LinkedIn

''People won't use technology they don't trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.'' '--Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

''Twitter is committed to defending and protecting the voice of our users. Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information and restricts their voice. The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression.'' '--Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter

''Protecting the privacy of our users is incredibly important to Yahoo. Recent revelations about government surveillance activities have shaken the trust of our users, and it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world. Today we join our colleagues in the tech industry calling on the United States Congress to change surveillance laws in order to ensure transparency and accountability for government actions.'' '--Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

An open letter to WashingtonDear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual '-- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure '-- deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

(C) 2013. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:07

A slide from an internal NSA presentation indicating that the agency uses at least one Google cookie as a way to identify targets for exploitation. (Washington Post)

The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using "cookies" and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.

The agency's internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.

For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them.

The revelation that the NSA is piggybacking on these commercial technologies could shift that debate, handing privacy advocates a new argument for reining in commercial surveillance.

According to the documents, the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are using the small tracking files or "cookies" that advertising networks place on computers to identify people browsing the Internet. The intelligence agencies have found particular use for a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the ''PREF'' cookie. These cookies typically don't contain personal information, such as someone's name or e-mail address, but they do contain numeric codes that enable Web sites to uniquely identify a person's browser.

In addition to tracking Web visits, this cookie allows NSA to single out an individual's communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person's computer. The slides say the cookies are used to "enable remote exploitation," although the specific attacks used by the NSA against targets are not addressed in these documents.

The NSA's use of cookies isn't a technique for sifting through vast amounts of information to find suspicious behavior; rather, it lets NSA home in on someone already under suspicion - akin to when soldiers shine laser pointers on a target to identify it for laser-guided bombs.

Separately, the NSA is also using commercially gathered information to help it locate mobile devices around the world, the documents show. Many smartphone apps running on iPhones and Android devices, and the Apple and Google operating systems themselves, track the location of each device, often without a clear warning to the phone's owner. This information is more specific than the broader location data the government is collecting from cellular phone networks, as reported by the Post last week.

"On a macro level, 'we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising' translates into 'the government being able to track everyone everywhere,'" says Chris Hoofnagle, a lecturer in residence at UC Berkeley Law. "It's hard to avoid."

These specific slides do not indicate how the NSA obtains Google PREF cookies or whether the company cooperates in these programs, but other documents reviewed by the Post indicate that cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order. If the NSA gets the data that way, the companies know and are legally compelled to assist.

The NSA declined to comment on the specific tactics outlined in this story, but an NSA spokesman sent the Post a statement: "As we've said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans."

Google declined to comment for this article, but chief executive Larry Page joined the leaders of other technology companies earlier this week in calling for an end to bulk collection of user data and for new limits on court-approved surveillance requests. "The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information," Page said in a statement on the coalition's Web site. "This is undermined bythe apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world."

How consumers are tracked online

Internet companies store small files called cookies on users' computers to uniquely identify them for ad-targeting and other purposes across many different Web sites. This advertising-driven business model pays for many of the services, like e-mail accounts, that consumers have come to expect to have for free. Yet few are aware of the full extent to which advertisers, services and Web sites track their activities across the Web and mobile devices. These data collection mechanisms are invisible to all but the most sophisticated users -- and the tools to opt-out or block them have limited effectiveness.

Privacy advocates have pushed to create a "Do Not Track" system allowing consumers to opt out of such tracking. But Jonathan Mayer of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, who has been active in that push, says "Do Not Track efforts are stalled out." They ground to a halt when the Digital Advertising Alliance, a trade group representing online ad companies, abandoned the effort in September after clashes over the proposed policy. One of the primary issues of contention was whether consumers would be able to opt out of all tracking, or just not be served advertisements based on tracking.

Some browsers, such as Apple's Safari, automatically block a type of code known as "third-party cookies," which are often placed by companies that advertise on the site being visited. Other browsers such as Mozilla's Firefox are also experimenting with that idea. But such settings won't prevent users from receiving cookies directly from the primary sites they visit or services they use.

Google's PREF Cookie

Google assigns a unique PREF cookie anytime someone's browser makes a connection to any of the company's Web properties or services. This can occur when consumers directly use Google services such as Search or Maps, or when they visit Web sites that contain embedded "widgets" for the company's social media platform Google Plus. That cookie contains a code that allows Google to uniquely track users to "personalize ads" and measure how they use other Google products.

Given the widespread use of Google services and widgets, most Web users are likely to have a Google PREF cookie even if they've never visited a Google property directly.

That PREF cookie is specifically mentioned in an internal NSA slide, which reference the NSA using GooglePREFID, their shorthand for the unique numeric identifier contained within Google's PREF cookie. Special Source Operations (SSO) is an NSA division that works with private companies to scoop up data as it flows over the Internet's backbone and from technology companies' own systems. The slide indicates that SSO was sharing information containing "logins, cookies, and GooglePREFID" with another NSA division called Tailored Access Operations, which engages in offensive hacking operations. SSO also shares the information with the British intelligence agency GCHQ.

"This shows a link between the sort of tracking that's done by Web sites for analytics and advertising and NSA exploitation activities," says Ed Felten, a computer scientist at Princeton University. "By allowing themselves to be tracked for analytic or advertising at least some users are making themselves more vulnerable to exploitation."

This isn't the first time Google cookies have been highlighted in the NSA's attempts to identify targets to hack. A presentation released in October by the Guardian called "Tor Stinks" indicates that the agency was using cookies for DoubleClick.net, Google's third-party advertising service, in an attempt to identify users of the Internet anonymization tool Tor when they switched to regular browsing. "It's similar in the sense that you see the use of an unique ID in the cookie to allow an eavesdropper to connect the activities of a user over time," says Felten.

This snippet of an internal NSA presentation reveals the existence of a program that utilizes leaked location-based information from mobile apps and services. (Washington Post)

Leaked location data

Another slide indicates that the NSA is collecting location data transmitted by mobile apps to support ad-targeting efforts in bulk. The NSA program, code-named HAPPYFOOT, helps the NSA to map Internet addresses to physical locations more precisely than is possible with traditional Internet geolocation services.

Many mobile apps and operating systems use location-based services to help users find restaurants or establishments nearby. In fact, even when GPS is disabled, most smart phones silently determine their location in the background using signals from Wi-Fi networks or cellular towers.

And apps that do not need geo-location data may still collect it anyway to share with third-party advertisers. Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement for a seemingly innocuous flashlight app that allegedly leaked user location information to advertisers without consumers' knowledge.

Apps transmit their locations to Google and other Internet companies because ads tied to a precise physical location can be more lucrative than generic ads. But in the process, they appear to tip off the NSA to a mobile device's precise physical location. That makes it easier for the spy agency to engage in the sophisticated tracking techniques the Post described in a story Dec. 4.

Implications for privacy

The disclosures about NSA practices reveal the dilemma facing online companies, which have faced a backlash against tracking for commercial purposes and their role in government surveillance.

"If data is used and it stops the next 9/11 our fellow citizens wouldn't have any problem with it no matter what it is," says Stuart P. Ingis, General Counsel at the Digital Advertising Association. But he says that it is a balancing act to pursue those bad actors "while at the same time preserving the civil liberties."

Other defenders of online advertising companies have argued it is unfair to conflate private companies' ad-tracking activities with the NSA activities revealed in the Snowden leaks. Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who advises technology companies including Google on surveillance issues, wrote in USA Today that "limiting bulk data collection by private companies - whether they advertise or not - would do little or nothing to limit the NSA."

Felten disagrees, noting that the latest documents show that "the unique identifiers that are being placed on users' computers are not only being used by analytic and advertising companies, but also being used by the NSA for targeting." He also says that there are things those companies could do to protect their users from the type of attacks described in the slides, like "not sending tracking IDs, or at least not sending them in the clear" without a layer of encryption.

Similarly, he says, "browser makers can help by giving users better control over the use of third-party tracking cookies and by making sure that their browsers are not sending unique IDs as a side effect of their safe-browsing behavior."

Stanford's Mayer says the revelations suggest the need for limits on the data that companies collect about consumers. "There's increasingly a sense that giving consumers control over the information they share with companies is all the more important," he says, "because you're also giving them control over the information they share with government."

Soltani is an independent security researcher and consultant.

Read the annotated documents here.

NSA signal-surveillance success stories - The Washington Post

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:08

These slides contain excerpts from an April 2013 National Security Agency presentation detailing signal surveillance techniques and successes. They reveal that the NSA and its British counterpart, Global Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), use a Google-specific tracking cookie to pinpoint targets for hacking.

>> NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking

Click to see the related section of the document.

{{ title }}{{{ text }}}

]]> GRAPHIC: Ashkan Soltani and Matt DeLong - The Washington Post. Published Dec. 10, 2013.

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AT&T offers gigabit Internet discount in exchange for your Web history | Ars Technica

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:21

AT&T is watching you browse.

AT&T's "GigaPower" all-fiber network has launched in parts of Austin, Texas, with a price of $70 per month for download speeds of 300Mbps (which will be upgraded to a gigabit at no extra cost in 2014).

The $70 price is only available if you agree to see targeted ads from AT&T and its partners, however. Interestingly, AT&T labels the Internet service with targeted ads as its "premier" service while calling the service without targeted ads "standard."

Not only is the price of the premier service (with ads) only $70 a month, but it comes with a waiver of equipment, installation, and activation fees. The standard service without ads is $99 a month, and there's no mention of a waiver in AT&T's announcement. "The waiver is part of the Premier package, so is not available with the standard service at this time," AT&T told Ars.

U-Verse TV adds $50 to the monthly bill regardless of which package you choose.

A footnote in the announcement notes that the lower premier price "is available with your agreement to participate in AT&T Internet Preferences. AT&T may use your Web browsing information, like the search terms you enter and the Web pages you visit, to provide you relevant offers and ads tailored to your interests."

GigaOm asked AT&T if it plans to use deep packet inspection to deliver the ads. AT&T's response was as follows:

We use various methods to collect web browsing information, and we are currently reviewing the methods we may use for the Internet Preferences program. Whichever method is used, we will not collect information from secure (https) or otherwise encrypted sites, such as online banking or when a credit card is used to buy something online on a secure site. And we won't sell your personal information to anyone, for any reason.

...

We won't sell your personal information. Rather, AT&T may use your personal information to direct another advertiser's ad to you, but that advertiser would never have access to your Personal Information. For example, after you browse hotels in Miami, you may be offered discounts for rental cars, but that rental company doesn't know who you are.

AT&T said users won't necessarily see more ads, "but those you do see may be more suited to your interests," because it knows what search terms you're entering and what webpages you visit.

The targeted ads are simply part of AT&T's "latest innovation," the company also said. "We are trying something different here," AT&T told Ars. "Consumers are used to the concept of a mobile app or an e-reader being priced differently with or without certain ads, or a free email service that stays free by serving ads. We want to give Austinites a similar choice with our latest innovation, U-verse with GigaPower."

We asked where the ads will be displayed during browser usage, but haven't gotten an answer yet.

AT&T's fiber deployment in Austin comes after Google's announcement that it would bring gigabit fiber to the city. Google has said its network will come to Austin by mid-2014, so AT&T has beaten it to the punch.

The initial GigaPower rollout in Austin comes to the French Place, Mueller, Zilker, and Onion Creek neighborhoods and will expand beyond that in 2014. "Expansion plans will, in part, be influenced by the number of Austinites voting for their neighborhood at www.att.com/gigapower," AT&T said.

In Kansas City, Google Fiber pricing is $70 per month for gigabit Internet and $120 per month for gigabit Internet plus TV. The price is the same as AT&T's with-ads service, but Google doesn't differentiate Internet pricing based on any ad preference. Google is already delivering targeted ads on its own websites, of course, but those are for all users rather than just its Internet subscribers.

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Mandela

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23 Members Of Congress Also Went To Mandela Memorial At Taxpayer Expense

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Archived Version

Source: Weasel Zippers

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:14

According to the WaPo, at least 23 members of Congress went to the Mandela memorial on a government aircraft. Most were members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Marcia Fudge, John Lewis and Charlie Rangel. Two Republicans also went, Aaron Schock, who was named head of the delegation by John Boehner, and Ted Cruz.

As we noted here, Cruz walked out when Raul Castro began to speak.

Elijah Cummings, who also went, said that he gave Cruz an ''earful'' about Obamacare on the flight there and promised to give him give him an earful on the way back.

I suspect it is Cummings and Democrats who will be getting an earful both from Cruz and their constitituents on the failures of Obamacare.

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Obama's Selfie At Mandela's Memorial Speaks Volumes!

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Archived Version

Source: Jacky Jasper's Diary of a Hollywood Street King

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 18:37

by Jacky Jasper

As Arsenio Hall would say, it's one of those things that makes you go Hmmm '...

Let's set aside the fact that President Barack Obama, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron are all smiles at Madiba's Memorial.

Let's also disregard the trio are documented snapping a selfie, while in attendance at a historical homage to an anti-apartheid icon. But the no one can deny the look on First Lady Michelle Obama's face spells nothing other than disapproval.

A picture does tell a thousand words, and we want to hear yours! Let's go '...

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Deaf community outraged sign language interpreter for Obama at Mandela funeral was a "fake" | News.com.au

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:40

Local interpreter Francois Deysel said the man was "moving his arms (to) try look busy" in an "embarrassing" spectacle.

Nicole Du Toit, another official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said in a telephone interview that the man on stage purporting to sign was an embarrassment.

"It was horrible, an absolute circus, really really bad," she said. "Only he can understand those gestures."

South African parliamentarian Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, a deaf member of the ruling party, also said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.

South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages, according to the federation.

It wasn't immediately clear if the unidentified man was using a different method to communicate.

Loening said her organisation was getting mail from around the world "wondering what on earth this man was doing there".

"It's a real embarrassment. It's complete disrespect for the deaf community and for what Nelson Mandela stood for and the support which he gave toward the deaf community."

Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the governing African National Congress party, declined to comment. "Government will be able to assist you," Mthembu said.

The South African government is preparing a statement.

A bold performance... particularly from the interpreter, it seems. Picture: APSource: AP

-- with AAP and AFP

Mandela sign interpreter had 'schizophrenic episode'

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Source: euronews

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:07

The South African sign language interpreter who was accused of being a 'fraud' for his translation of Nelson Mandela's memorial service has blamed his actions on a schizophrenic episode.

The man, identified as 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, was accused by sign language organisations of just ''flapping his arms around'' during the event. Delphin Hlungwane, a spokesperson for the Deaf Federation of South Africa, said Jantjie was ''just gesturing in the air'' and that his hand signals had ''zero percent accuracy''.

However Jantjie has told Johannesburg's Star newspaper that he suffers from schizophrenia, for which he takes medication, and suffered an attack while on the stage. He claims he suddenly lost concentration and starting hearing voices and hallucinating.

AP press agency has reported that Jantjie saw 'angels' and has been violent in the past.

Jantjie told the paper that the magnitude of the situation and overwhelming emotions could have played a part in triggering the episode.

''There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It's the situation I found myself in,'' he told reporters.

Nevertheless in a radio interview with Talk Radio 702 Jantjie said he was happy with his performance saying he has been a ''champion'' of sign language. When contacted by Reuters, Jantjie said he didn't understand why people were complaining now, adding: ''I'm not a failure. I deliver.''

Controversy over the 'fake' sign language and President Barack Obama's 'selfie' moment have overshadowed the 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose body will lie in state until Friday before being flown to the Eastern Cape where he will be buried on Sunday.

CBC News - Mandela 'fake' interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie: I was hallucinating

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:04

The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year..

A South African deputy cabinet minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, later held a news conference to announce that "amistake happened" in the hiring of Jantjie.

Government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie but the owners "have vanished into thin air," said deputy minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

She apologized to deaf people offended around the world for Jantjie's incomprehensible signing, and said an investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie was hired and what vetting process, if any, he underwent for his security clearance.

Pay rate far below normalThe deputy minister said the translation company offered sub-standard services, the rate they paid the translator was farbelow the normal levels and that in order to maintain the interpreter's concentration level, interpreters must be switchedevery 20 minutes. Jantjie was on the stage for the entire service that lasted more than three hours.

Statements by Thamsanqa Jantjie, the man hired for sign language interpretation at the Nelson Mandela memorial, raise serious security issues for U.S. President Barack Obama, other heads of state and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

She declined to say who in South Africa's government was responsible for contracting the company that provided thetranslator, or how those rules could be flouted.

"It's an interdepartmental responsibility," she said. "We are trying to establish what happened."

Jantjie, who stood gesticulating one metre from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday's ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.

But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as a fake.

"I would like to tell everybody that if I've offended anyone, please, forgive me," Jantjie said in his concrete home in a low-income Johannesburg neighbourhood. "But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference."

'Sometimes I get violent ... Sometimes I will see things chasing me.'- Thamsanqa Jantjie

The statements by Jantjie raise serious security issues for Obama, other heads of state and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who made speeches at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg's black township. The ceremony honoured Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon and former president who died on Dec. 5.

"What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium ... I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I get violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me," Jantjie said.

"I was in a very difficult position," he added. "And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I'll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn't embarrass my country."

Asked how often he had become violent, he said "a lot" while declining to provide details.

Due for mental-health checkupJantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment.

He said he did not tell the company that contracted him for the event for about $85 US that he was due for the checkup, but said the owner of SA Interpreters in Johannesburg was aware of his condition.

AP journalists who visited the address of the company that Jantjie provided found a different company there where managers said they knew nothing about SA Interpreters. A woman answered the phone at a number that Jantjie provided and said it was not for the company, and another phone number went to a voicemail that did not identify the person or company with the number.

Jantjie said he received one year of sign language interpretation at a school in Cape Town, and insisted that he has previously interpreted at many events without anyone complaining.

The AP showed Jantjie video footage of him interpreting on stage at the Mandela memorial service.

"I don't remember any of this at all," he said.

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Obama, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton Share Flight to South Africa - NYTimes.com

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:04

JOHANNESBURG '-- President Obama, his predecessor, and the woman who might be his successor crossed the Atlantic together Monday in an example of extended bipartisan togetherness to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service on Tuesday.

For more than 16 hours, Mr. Obama hosted former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton aboard Air Force One '-- part of a global pilgrimage that brought dozens of world leaders to South Africa.

The flight of political opposites was a midair testimonial to the profound impact that Mr. Mandela had on generations of American politicians as he fought against his government's system of racial oppression and later brought unity and reconciliation to a divided people as their president.

And the journey was a continuation of the tradition among the tiny group of ex-presidents of building relationships at 30,000 feet.

Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter bonded in 1981 on a flight to the funeral of Anwar el-Sadat, the slain Egyptian president. And the first President George Bush and Bill Clinton became fast friends on a long flight to Asia after the tsunami of 2004.

Mr. Clinton did not travel aboard Air Force One on Monday; he and his daughter, Chelsea, were in Rio de Janeiro for a conference and traveled to South Africa separately. Mr. Carter, a longtime friend of Mr. Mandela's, also made his way to Africa on his own for the memorial. The elder Mr. Bush is not making the trip to South Africa, aides said.

On board the presidential aircraft as it flew to South Africa, White House aides said, Mr. Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, congregated in the conference room during the early part of the trip with Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Bush's wife.

''There have been very good conversations in that room,'' said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

He did not elaborate.

At other times, aides said, the Obamas retreated to the presidential cabin that he inherited from Mr. Bush. The Bushes stayed in the medical office just behind Mr. Obama's cabin. Mrs. Clinton spent some time in the senior staff cabin, aides said.

Space is always at a premium on flights with so many V.I.P. guests.

During the flight to Asia for tsunami relief, Mr. Clinton let the elder Mr. Bush have the only bed on the government plane, while he stretched out on the floor, and the two discovered that they liked each other.

''I thought I knew him,'' Mr. Bush later wrote, ''but until this trip, I did not really know him.''

On the flight to the 1995 funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, Mr. Clinton relegated Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House, to a seat toward the back of the plane and spent little time talking with him. Mr. Gingrich's subsequent public complaint that he was forced to deplane from the back earned him ridicule, including a New York Daily News front-page cartoon depicting him as a wailing infant under the headline ''Cry Baby.''

On Monday, the younger Mr. Bush twice strayed to the back of the modified Boeing 747, where about a dozen reporters sit, to chat '-- off the record '-- for about 90 minutes. Mrs. Clinton also visited with reporters on the plane just after it stopped for refueling in Dakar, Senegal.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that his earliest political activism was on behalf of Mr. Mandela's cause. A young Barack Obama offered a few words at an anti-apartheid rally in the early 1980s. Mr. Obama has written that he later drew inspiration from Mr. Mandela's single term as president.

But Mr. Mandela was largely gone from the public stage by the time Mr. Obama entered the Oval Office. Mr. Mandela's age and failing health prevented all but a fleeting meeting between the two men.

Mr. Mandela was also out of office by the time Mr. Bush became president. In 2002, the American president awarded Mr. Mandela the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though the former South African leader was unable to attend the ceremony. Mr. Bush hosted Mr. Mandela at the White House in 2005 and later visited him in South Africa. The two men discussed how to stem the AIDS crisis in Africa, a major interest of Mr. Bush's.

In his statement upon Mr. Mandela's death, Mr. Bush called him ''one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time'' and said, ''This good man will be missed.''

But the exchanges between the two men were not always positive. While Mr. Mandela supported the American intervention in Afghanistan soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was critical of the war in Iraq. Mr. Mandela criticized the American president for invading Iraq against international law as set by the United Nations.

''For anybody, especially the leader of a superstate, to act outside the United Nations is something that must be condemned by everybody,'' Mr. Mandela said.

Of the three, Mrs. Clinton knew Mr. Mandela the longest. She met him in 1992, just two years after his release from prison and before his election to the South African presidency.

Mrs. Clinton attended Mr. Mandela's inauguration in 1994; three years later, he served as her personal tour guide in his former prison, showing Mrs. Clinton, then the first lady, the small cell on Robben Island where he spent the majority of his 27 years behind bars.

As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton returned to South Africa in 2012, visiting Mr. Mandela in the village of Qunu, where he will be buried on Sunday. Already quite ill, Mr. Mandela posed for pictures with Mrs. Clinton, who declared, ''That's a beautiful smile.'' Mr. Clinton and Chelsea made a similar visit to Qunu a month earlier, to help celebrate Mr. Mandela's 94th birthday.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.

Correction: December 10, 2013

An earlier version of the headline with this article misidentified the event that three American leaders flying together on Air Force One were attending. They were bound for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, not his funeral. (Mr. Mandela's state funeral is to be held Sunday.)

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Neil Phillips quizzed for 8 HOURS by police after Nelson Mandela Twitter jokes | Mail Online

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 22:36

Neil Phillips from Rugeley, Staffordshire, was also finger-printedThe 44-year-old insisted he meant no harm saying there was 'no hatred'Local Councillor Tim Jones complained about the one-linersCPS said they would not be prosecuting because of insufficient evidenceBy Wills Robinson

PUBLISHED: 05:55 EST, 9 December 2013 | UPDATED: 07:29 EST, 9 December 2013

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Tasteless: Neil Phillips, 44, insists he meant 'no harm' when he posted the jokes online

A sandwich shop owner endured eight hours of questioning by police and had his computer seized for three weeks '' after making tasteless Nelson Mandela jokes on the internet.

Neil Phillips, who runs Crumbs in Rugeley, Staffordshire, says he was also finger-printed and DNA-swabbed after officers received complaints about what he insists were harmless gags.

In one online post, the 44-year-old wrote: 'My PC takes so long to shut down I've decided to call it Nelson Mandela.'

Mandela, the former South African leader, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, died on Thursday, aged 95.

Mr Phillips was arrested at his home on September 10 and was taken to a police station where he was quizzed about the postings on the Rugeley Soap Box website.

He said: 'It was an awful experience. I was fingerprinted, they took DNA and my computer.

'It was a couple of jokes, Bernard Manning type.

'There was no hatred.

'You can question the taste, but they're not hateful. I told the police they got plenty of "likes". What happened to freedom of speech?

'I think they over-reacted massively. Those jokes are "out there", anyway.

'When they took my computer, I thought, "what the hell are they looking for?" To be questioned would have been over the top, never mind arrested.'

Mr Phillips admitted to once being a member of the far-right BNP, but quit 25 years ago.

Death: The former South African leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner passed away on Thursday aged 95

Quizzed: Tom Christopher, 72, was also interviewed over claims he made threats online during a dispute over a proposed memorial

'They are jokes that I cut-and-pasted,' insisted Mr Phillips. 'I didn't make them up and I didn't put them on a public site.

'You have to sign-up and join. It's turning into the thought police '' you can't do this, you can't do that.

He was one of two men interviewed by police following a bitter, ill-tempered feud over plans for a mining memorial in the town centre has been ambushed by some members of the Far Right and used as a propaganda platform.

The other individual was pensioner and former miner Tom Christopher, 72, who was quizzed by police at his home in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, over claims he issued threats on the net.

The memorial dispute sank to new depths at a Rugeley Town Council meeting last week, when police ejected Mr Christopher.

He was enraged by public allegations that some of those involved in the miner's tribute were 'thugs and fascists'.

One council official admitted: 'It didn't come to fisticuffs, but it was close.'

Cllr Jones added that he was 'deeply disturbed' an unofficial Facebook poll over the memorial has allegedly been 'influenced' by the English Defence League.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Jones was so incensed by the one-liners, aired at a time when Mandela was critically ill, that he made an official complaint.

He commented under one tasteless joke: 'Attacking a 94-year-old man who is probably dying. Does the far right have an ounce of human decency?'

Forum: The comments were made on the Rugeley Bugle under the post The Soap Box

Outrage: Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Jones was so incensed by the comments he made an official complaint

'The dispute is about its location. Without the involvement of extremists, people could have sat down talked about their differences and had a good chance of reaching agreement, perhaps on a survey, which most people would have accepted as fair.

'The whole affair is very sad.'

He then sent the Sunday Mercury - a Birmingham-based newspaper - screen grabs.

One was of a shocking image of decapitation, another featuring a wheelchair-bound individual, both posted by Mr Phillips.

He said: 'They are vile and deeply offensive, anti-Muslim, anti-disabled.'

Staffordshire Police declined to go into detail about the nature of their interview with Mr Phillips. But a spokesman said: 'We can confirm a man was arrested in Rugeley on September 10.

'He was bailed pending further enquiries.

'When he answered bail on September 30, he was informed that there would be no further action based on CPS decision of there being insufficient evidence to support a prosecution.'

Memorial: Globe Island in Rugeley, Staffordshire, which is the proposed site for a miner's tribute

Probe: The pair were both interviewed by officers over online posts which are part of a dispute over a mining tribute in Rugeley town centre

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BTC

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Bitcoins in Space! - IEEE Spectrum

Link to Article

Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:54

Illustration: Randi Klett; Satellite: iStockphoto

Richard Branson, the brazen Brit behind Virgin Galactic, made news last week when he announced that he has begun processing Bitcoin payments from would-be space tourists. (A woman in Hawaii has already booked her ticket, the company says.) But it turns out Branson's not the only Bitcoin enthusiast looking toward the heavens. Jeff Garzik, one of the core developers of the Bitcoin software and a new addition to the team of developers at BitPay, a Bitcoin payment processor, has been quietly working on a side project aimed at making Bitcoin work by satellite.

Garzik first hinted at his intentions during his ''State of the Coin'' address at a Bitcoin conference last year in London, where he briefly mentioned that he was working to launch a satellite that would be paid for in bitcoins. Last month, he announced the full purpose of the satellite. According to Garzik, it will repeatedly transmit the most recent block in the Bitcoin block chain'--the latest transaction data processed by the Bitcoin network.

In succession, the block chain represents the entire ledger of Bitcoin transactions. And it's the task of users'--anyone running a Bitcoin client'--to both validate the calculations contained in the blocks and to send requests for new transactions to the peer-to-peer network of some 2000 to 5000 machines running the Bitcoin reference software.

''Without the peer-to-peer payment network, Bitcoin does not function today,'' explains Garzik. A coordinated, distributed denial-of-service attack on all peer-to-peer nodes would effectively stop all payments across the network, and this is the threat that he wants to address.

''Use of the payment network is not a technical requirement of Bitcoin. If another mechanism for distributing Bitcoin data existed'--be it satellite or flash drive via the postal service'--then Bitcoin could continue to survive,'' says Garzik.

Satellites do have their own vulnerabilities. It's possible, for example, to disrupt them with a maneuver resembling a denial-of-service attack called double illumination, which simply jams the satellite with signals from overlapping frequencies. If the interference is strong enough, it can effectively cut satellite transmissions.

But Garzik is not looking for a single, foolproof solution. As he describes it, this is more of a move to diversify. ''The general idea is the need to find varied means for block-chain data-set distribution,'' he says. ''We need all the resilience we can muster. Satellite distribution of public block-chain data would facilitate some level of resilience, as well as perhaps enabling use in geographic areas where Internet connectivity is unavailable or spotty.''

For the first phase of the project, Garzik is looking into CubeSats, miniature satellites that weigh only about a kilogram. The most likely scenario would be to hitch a ride on a rocket as a secondary payload. Lockheed Martin, for example, is working on a program that by 2015 would offer ride shares for CubeSats through its Athena launch services.

If he goes this route, Garzik won't be able to precisely control which orbit the CubeSat ends up in. ''Having a network of ground stations is critical to account for multiple orbits that might be achieved,'' he says. These stations will then be responsible for transmitting block-chain updates to the satellite.

Garzik estimates that the cost of construction and launch will be about US $2 million and says that if necessary, he will be able to fund the first phase of the project on his own'--with bitcoins. But he expects a lot of help. Last week, he set up a Bitcoin address for donations and has already received 25 bitcoins (more than US $20 000) from a group called BitcoinGrant.org.

Although Garzik has not offered a definitive accounting of how this money will be spent, the public nature of the Bitcoin block chain will enable donors to track where their money goes. ''My 'bitcoins in space' project has a public, trackable donation address,'' says Garzik. ''If other space partners accept Bitcoin, we are able to disclose and track those purchases as well.''

If the first launch is a success, Garzik intends to follow up with more satellites. ''In the short term, there are sufficient people interested in the Bitcoin community that fully funding Phase 1 is assured,'' he says. ''Based on the same factors and expressed interest, it seems likely that at least one demonstration satellite can be funded and flown in a three- to five-year time frame. Additional interest and funding will dictate how large the network may grow. At worst, listeners may have to wait a few hours to tune in and receive their block-chain broadcast, rather than a fully real-time feed that a cluster of satellites may provide.''

Want to contribute to the project? Here's Jeff Garzik's donation address.

Morgen E. Peck is a New York City''based reporter who has been coveringBitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for IEEE Spectrum since 2011.

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Fidelity now allows clients to put bitcoins in IRAs - The Tell - MarketWatch

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:21

December 11, 2013, 3:31 PM

Fidelity has partnered with SecondMarket's Bitcoin Investment Trust to allow its clients to save for their retirement by putting the virtual currency in self-directed IRAs.

''If you are a Fidelity client, you can now invest in the Bitcoin Investment Trust through an IRA,'' said Barry Silbert, chief executive of SecondMarket, in an interview.

The Bitcoin Investment Trust is an open-ended trust that launched in late September and only invests in the virtual currency. The trust, which is only open to accredited investors, had $62.6 million in assets under management as of Tuesday.

MarketWatch previously reported that SecondMarket had teamed up with self-directed IRA providers PENSCO, Entrust and Equity Institutional to allow investors to save for retirement with bitcoin. Fidelity is the largest and most well-known company that SecondMarket has teamed up with for this, Silbert said, adding that he hopes to add a few more providers soon.

An emailed request for comment from Fidelity wasn't immediately returned.

Bitcoin has become a hot topic of late as its price has skyrocketed, attracting the attention of venture capitalists, regulators and central bankers. Unlike currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen, bitcoin doesn't have a central bank. Instead, the virtual currency is created through a process called mining, in which a computer solves a cryptographic problem.

''Saumya Vaishampayan

Follow Saumya @saumvaish

Follow The Tell @thetellblog

Read more MarketWatch stories on bitcoin:

The best tech right now? Facebook, Intel or bitcoin: Cody Willard Bitcoin rival or lost chance?

J.P. Morgan applies to renew a 13-year old anonymous payments patent

Bitcoin prices could swell 1,000 times once grandma knows about it

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UK Tax Authority HMRC Rethinks Stance on Bitcoin

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 16:28

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC '' the UK equivalent of FinCEN) has backtracked on its previous classification of bitcoin.

Last month, it was revealed that HMRC had decided to classify bitcoins as vouchers, which meant that VAT would be due on sales involving the digital currency.

Today, members of the UK bitcoin scene visited HMRC today to speak with the government department about cryptocurrency.

Tom Robinson from BitPrice, bitcoin entrepreneur Michael Parsons, Marc Warne from Bittylicious and Eitan Jankelewitz from Sheridans law firm were present at the meeting. Robinson said:

''We started off by explaining bitcoin to them '' a lot of the meeting involved educating them about bitcoin and what it's actually used for.''

He went on to say that the department, after hearing this, said it would withdraw its previous guidance about bitcoin being a type of voucher.

''The general feeling I got from the meeting was that they don't think VAT should be levied on the bitcoin value itself,'' Robinson added.

He described this as a really positive move as, under the current guidance, it is completely unviable for bitcoin vendors and exchanges to sell bitcoins in the UK.

Jankelewitz told CoinDesk the previous ruling caused ''no small amount of concern'' to a number of his clients, which are UK-based bitcoin companies.

''The implication of a classification as a single use voucher is that anyone selling bitcoins would have to charge an additional 20% to cover the VAT. Obviously, this puts bitcoin businesses at a huge disadvantage,'' he said.

In the meeting, Warne added that he had been considering moving his company offshore because of HMRC's classification of bitcoin.

Jankelewitz said he hopes to hear more from the department in the next few weeks.

''I found HMRC to be pretty open minded and I was left with the impression that they are taking bitcoin seriously,'' he concluded.

Stay tuned for updates

BittyliciousHMRCTaxUK

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14 Years Ago JP Morgan Patented Bitcoin-Like Payment System

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Archived Version

Source: WT Newsfeed

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:25

Susanne PoselOccupy CorporatismDecember 11, 2013

Denis O'Leary, on behalf of JPMorgan Chase Bank, has filed a patent for a Bitcoin-like payment system that will allow customers to use a digital wallet and transfer funds to anyone anonymously.

This patent is a renewal of the original filed in 1999; 14 years ago.

This means that the patent pre-dates the surge in Bitcoin and the inception of cryptocurrencies.

The JPM Internet Pay Anyone Account (IPAA) moves money anonymously ''with the recipient of the credit having no way to determine from where the credit originated.''

The transfer of money is done without processing fees and would replace wire transfer corporations such as Western Union.

The application states: ''While new Internet payment mechanisms have been rapidly emerging, consumers and merchants have been happily conducting a growing volume of commerce using basic credit card functionality. None of the emerging efforts to date have gotten more than a toehold in the market place and momentum continues to build in favor of credit cards.''

Last November, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed said that virtual currencies ''may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.''

Earlier this month, Bank of America (BoA) Merrill Lynch experts stated that ''as a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth.''

Bitcoin has been referred to as a pump and dump scheme by media to deter from its growing popularity.

Three weeks ago, Coin was unveiled carry on the move toward crypto currenciesCoin appears to be a credit/debit card, but this device is a mobile payment system that unites ''several different methods of payment into a single device.''

Kanishk Parashar, chief executive officer of Coin explained that ''there was no need for a card or wallet, but we didn't see payments going through the system.''

Coin utilizes a magnetic strip reader (MSR) attached to a smartphone; while allowing users to press a button on the Coin card to access which account they wish to use for payment.

The Coin card can then be swiped.

Parashar said: ''This is designed for the lifestyle of today with the technology of tomorrow.''

This black card has a digital screen that can store information from customer loyalty cards, debit cards and work expense cards to replace the current wallet of average Americans.

Users take a picture of their card and swipe the Coin card to allow them to purchase items.

Parashar hopes that the Coin card would soon be able to email the user if it is lost and disable itself should it be stolen.

The developer said: ''What we really needed was a single solution that let people interact with what exists and fits with your lifestyle.''

Portland, Oregon, United States, -08:00

JPMorgan Chase Building Bitcoin-Killer | Lets Talk Bitcoin

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 01:07

By BRIAN COHEN '' Dec. 9, 2013

Thanksgiving day, while many of us were eating turkey, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published JPMorgan Chase's (Chase) patent application20130317984, ''Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.'' The application was filed with the USPTO on August 5th, 2013.

Without mentioning Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies at all for that matter, Chase appears to be building a competing centralized network to Bitcoin. The application defines the problems that legacy banking has with online transactions and then provides a detailed explanation how Chase will address these problems with this new technology. The application states that Chase's technology is a ''new paradigm.'' Moreover that it permits the creation of ''virtual cash'' (also referred to as ''web cash'') with a ''real-time digital exchange of value.''

I will start with extracting the problems that Chase identified which are strikingly similar to those addressed by the revolutionary Bitcoin payment protocol.

Bitcoin has been singled out as a game changer when it comes to the legacy cost of wire transfers:

'''...to date, there is no efficient way for consumers to make payments to other consumers using the Internet. All traditional forms of person-to-person exchange include the physical exchange of cash or checks rather than a real-time digital exchange of value. In addition, the high cost of retail wire transfers (i.e., Western Union) is cost prohibitive to a significant portion of society'...''

Bitcoin has been hailed as frictionless:

'''...Two significant drawbacks with '...Internet POS payments are that: 1) a pre-existing relationship between the consumer and the merchant must exist; and 2) the consumer is required to provide the merchant with his or her account and/or PIN. The first drawback of some of the above models cannot be practically overcome as it is impossible for a consumer to have pre-existing relationships with all of the potential merchants conducting business on the Internet'....''

Bitcoin has also been ballyhooed for it use with micro-payments and payments under ten dollars due to its zero to negligible fee structure:

'''...Although credit and debit cards have emerged as the most popular form of payment over the Internet, there are drawbacks associated with each of these payment types. Notably, each have a relatively high cost that includes a processing fee plus a merchant discount of 1.4% and up. The relatively high fees support the credit card business model. While credit and debit cards may continue to be a viable payment option for merchants selling relatively high ticket items over the Internet, credit and debit cards are not economically viable for purchases of lower cost items. For lower-cost items, the relatively high transaction processing fees plus the discount result in the transaction processing fee consuming a relatively high proportion of the total revenue generated by the product sale'...''

No Stranger to Bitcoin

Chase took a swipe (pun intended) at Bitcoin by specifically not mentioning it in the patent application:

'''...It is predicted that credit cards will be the dominant on-line point of sale (POS) payment choice for at least the next five years. While new Internet payment mechanisms have been rapidly emerging {Brian's note: cough'...cough'...Bitcoin}, consumers and merchants have been happily conducting a growing volume of commerce using basic credit card functionality. None of the emerging efforts to date have gotten more than a toehold in the market place and momentum continues to build in favor of credit cards'...''

However, Chase is no stranger to Bitcoin. Chase critic and Bitcoin punditMax Keiserhas been quiteoutspokenabout his dislike for the legacy institution. Kashmir Hill of Forbes also wrote how Chase bank effectively shuttered the once high flying Bitcoin player Bitinstant in ''Bitcoin Companies and Entrepreneurs Can't Get Bank Accounts:''

''{I}n Hong Kong in April, {BitInstant CEO Charlie} Schrem got notice from Chase that Bitinstant's account was being suspended immediately'...''

Bitcoin causing Friction

For a currency that has been lauded for its frictionless characteristics, Bitcoin sure has been causing a lot a friction over at the legacy banking institutions.

Chase noted in the patent the high cost of Western Union. Over at Bitcoin Magazine we broke the story ''Western Union Says Bitcoin Not Ready For Primetime.'' Western Union has since pulled the the presentation referenced in the story from their website and havedistanced themselvesfrom the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin statistics website Coinometrics recentlyrevealedthat Bitcoin has surpassed Western Union in volume and it appears to be catching up with other payment networks. Finally, Bank of America just surprised everyone by releasing a report ''Bitcoin: a first assessment,'' initiating coverage of the cryptocurrency and noting that ''BTC surpasses Western Union in market capitalization.''

Chase is also thelargest bank memberof the Federal Reserve system (Reference Charter: NAT '' Nationally chartered member bank). Said another way, the Federal Reserve has oversight of Chase. The The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently released Chicago Fed Letter:Bitcoin a Primer. And outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recentlywrote to the U.S. Senatewho held hearings on virtual currencies that:

'''...In general, the Federal Reserve would only have authority to regulate a virtual currency product if it is issued by, or cleared or settled through, a banking organization that we supervise'...''

and further stated that:

''{Bitcoin} may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system.''

Recently over at my Blog on Medium, I discussed how MasterCard created a tab based system (think ''bar tab'', not ''browser tab'') for micro-payments and payments under ten dollars. Through Mastercard Labs', Mastercard filed for patent application 20130297485, ''Crowd-Sourced Credit Rating and Debt Tracking System to Facilitate Small Purchases on Trust Based Credit:''

'''...as merchants are charged fees for processing credit/debit card transactions the fee charged can reduce or even outweigh the profit made from the sale, especially in the case of small transactions. As such, many merchants impose a lower bound on credit/debit card transactions, accept credit/debit card transactions and incur a loss, or refuse credit/debit card transactions outright (for example, merchants for whom the majority of transactions are small)'...''

'''...{With this invention the} purchaser can initiate a transaction and instead of paying using a credit card or cash, the consumer can use trust based credit ''tab'' with the merchant and pay its bill at a later time. Based on this selection, a credit transaction request (identifying the consumer, the merchant and the credit amount) can be transmitted to the system server. In response, the system server can generate a report with the consumer's credit transaction history and credit profile and transmit the information back to the merchant. The merchant can elect to approve and finalize the credit transaction or decline'...''

How It Works

Under The Hood: Internet Pay Anyone

'''...The structural components to the system of the present invention include:

a Payment Portal Processor; a digital Wallet;an Internet Pay Anyone (IPA) Account;a Virtual Private Lockbox (VPL);an Account Reporter;the existing EFT networks;and a cash card.'''...The Payment Portal Processor (PPP) is a software application that augments any Internet browser with e-commerce capability. The PPP software sits in front of and provides a secure portal for accessing (finking to) the user's. Demand Deposit Accounts (DDA) and IPA accounts. The PPP enables the user to push electronic credits from its DDA and IPA accounts to any other accounts through the EFT network'...''

'''...The {technology} '...includes freely publishing the payment address and making it available to users of an internet portal or search engine'...''

'''...Currently, all Internet transactions use ''pull'' technology in which a merchant must receive the consumer's account number (and in some cases PIN number) in order to complete a payment. The payment methods of the present invention conversely use ''push'' technology in which users (consumers or businesses) push an EFT credit from their IPA or DDA accounts to a merchant's account, without having to provide their own sensitive account information'...''

A New Paradigm

'''...The present invention represents a new paradigm for effectuating electronic payments that leverages existing platforms, conventional payment infrastructures and currently available web-based technology to enable e-commerce in both the virtual and physical marketplace. The concept provides a safe, sound, and secure method that allows users (consumers) to shop on the Internet, pay bills, and pay anyone virtually anywhere, all without the consumer having to share account number information with the payee. Merchants receive immediate payment confirmation through the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) network so they can ship their product with confidence that the payment has already been received. The present invention further enables small dollar financial transactions, allows for the creation of ''web cash'' as well as provides facilities for customer service and record-keeping'...''

Ability to Process Credit Transaction Over Electronic Funds Transfer Network'''...only debit related transactions are currently initiated on the EFT system. The EFT credit message of the present invention thus represent a significant advancement in art which has no peers with respect to electronic commerce'...''

Pay Anyone without Traditional Legacy Fees'''... providing the ability for anyone with an account at an institution to transfer funds to anyone else who also has an account at the same or a different institution. The pay anyone feature of the present invention allows parties to electronically transmit funds instantaneously without the expense of today's wiring fees'...''

Eliminates Chargebacks and Significantly Reduces Costs

'''...For the merchant, the present invention significantly reduces the transactional cost as compared to the use of credit cards. The method also provides a reduction in fraud and credit losses, while the finality of the transaction virtually eliminates dispute and chargeback processing from the viewpoint of the financial institution. For financial institutions, the present invention all but eliminates the potential of fraud that is inherent with credit card transactions. As consumers are typically only responsible for the first $50 of fraudulent transactions, banks typically absorb the sometimes significant costs associated with fraud. The ability for hackers to steal consumer's account numbers (e.g., credit card numbers) from an Internet merchant is completely eliminated since the merchant never receives such information'...''

Virtual Cash'''...The majority of the prior art electronic Wallets on the Internet today are primarily used as a convenience vehicle, merely providing a method of storing account number information and other form filling functions (e.g., shipping addresses). In contrast to traditional Wallets, the PPP enhanced Wallet of the present invention is associated with one or more DDA and/or IPA accounts. The PPP thus provides the user with a form of virtual cash that is secure and guaranteed. The PPP further contains a receipt feature and archive feature that maintains a transaction history of all payment activity with respect to accounts linked to the PPP'...''

''The Payment Portal Processor provides the user with a form of virtual cash that is secure and guaranteed.''

It Has Backbone

The IPA Technology has been in development since at least the year 2000 when6,609,113''Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network'' was filed (and subsequently granted) by the USPTO.

The Chase is On

I view this technology and patent application as an overwhelming good thing. Bitcoin is driving Innovation. It has been said that credit cards and the legacy banking system in use today was never meant for use over the internet. Chase's updated Internet Pay Anyone technology appears to come head to head with Bitcoin. I previously discussed at eCommerceBytes in ''How PayPal Almost Liberated Cyprus'' how PayPal was the precursor to Bitcoin. While it remains to be seen if this technology is a ''Bitcoin Killer,'' other players such as eBay/PayPal (which have been riding under Bitcoin's coattails throughmarketing gimmicks) ought to pay close attention to this emerging technology. If Bitcoin does get a ''toehold'' in the marketplace, we just might see this technology activated. The Chase is on.

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SecondMarket CEO: Wall Street Will Put 'Hundreds of Millions' Into Bitcoin - Yahoo Finance

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 04:08

Wall Street is getting ready to dive into Bitcoin, pouring vast amounts of institutional and investor money into the digital currency that has been labeled a "bubble" by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and which not long ago was seen as the sole preserve of crypto-geeks, monetary-theory wonks and anti-government types.

So says Barry Silbert, founder and chief executive of SecondMarket, the online platform that allows its users to trade private company stocks. "We're three to six months away from Wall Street dollars moving into Bitcoin in a big way," he says.

Silbert should know: Earlier this fall, he launched the Bitcoin Investment Trust, the first investment vehicle allowing institutional investors to put money into the Bitcoin market while avoiding the hassle of personally holding the currency. The trust is open only to accredited investors, and the minimum investment is $25,000.

Speaking on Tuesday night at a private dinner for Bitcoin cognoscenti in New York, Silbert said he was astonished by the BIT's performance. "We launched six weeks ago and we're up to $70 million. That blows my mind. We were hoping to get to $10 million by the end of the year."

The value of the BIT derives entirely from the price of Bitcoin; it has benefited in recent weeks as Bitcoin soared north of $1,200. Because of a recent dip, the net assets of the trust now stand at about $63 million, which means it is holding that dollar value in bitcoins.

Related: SecondMarket Establishes New Bitcoin Trust for Accredited Investors

Silbert says he meets frequently with hedge fund workers, traders at large financial institutions and others who want to gain a better understanding of digital currencies and figure out how to capitalize on them. He reckons that Wall Street will enter the Bitcoin market in roughly three waves. The first is already beginning, and it's taking the form of IRA money. Customers with self-directed IRAs at Fidelity, Pensco Trust Company, The Entrust Group and Millenium Trust Company are now able to invest some of their money in Bitcoin via the BIT. Silbert expects most other IRAs to approve the BIT as an investment vehicle before the second quarter of next year, in response to growing interest from their customers.

Also in this first wave will be clients of the wealth-management arms of Wall Street banks. Silbert says the BIT is in conversations with "several major banks" and he expects the trust to be an approved product on their wealth-management platforms within the first half of 2014.

The second wave will be hedge funds and other institutional investors. "The principals that work at all those firms are starting to invest personally in the BIT," Silbert says. Anecdotally, he adds, it's clear they are investing in the Bitcoin market through other platforms as well. With traders, portfolio managers and executives all gaining interest, it appears to be only a matter of time before their firms follow suit and take a position in the digital currency.

The third wave will be Wall Street banks themselves, motivated purely by profit, says Silbert. "These banks already have large teams trading dollars and euros and yen and gold. Ultimately, Bitcoin is no different than those" as far as forex and commodities traders are concerned, he says. And indeed, currency strategists at Bank of America issued a note to clients last Thursday talking up Bitcoin's potential and analyzing its fair market value.

While most institutional investors are keeping mum on Bitcoin for the time being, the head of one firm has been outspoken about his faith in the cryptocurrency. Michael Novogratz, the co-chief investment officer of macro funds at Fortress, plumped for Bitcoin at a conference held in New York on Oct. 24. He recommended that investors "put a little money in Bitcoin," saying its value would appreciate significantly over the next few years.

At the time, the price of a single bitcoin was less than $200 on most exchanges. "I have a nice little Bitcoin position," Novogratz said at the conference. "Enough that I'm smiling that it doubled." One can imagine how that smile must have widened in the weeks since.

But it's hard to say where the price will be a month or six months from now. Although right now Silbert is happy to see Bitcoin performing above his expectations, in the near term "the price volatility is only going to get worse," he says. "We haven't seen anything yet."

He added, "Once Wall Street starts putting money into Bitcoin -- we're talking about hundreds of millions, billions of dollars moving in -- it's going to have a pretty dramatic effect on the price."

Related: Bitcoin Gets Slammed by China as BofA Touts Its Potential

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Agenda 21

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Antarctica sets new cold weather record of ''93.2 C - Technology & Science - CBC News

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 15:22

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters in February 2012. (NASA/Reuters)

Newly analyzed data from East Antarctica say the remote region has set a record for soul-crushing cold.

The record is minus 135.8 Fahrenheit (minus 93.2 Celsius).

A new look at NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded. It happened in August 2010 when it hit ''135.8 F (''93.2 C). Then on July 31 of this year, it came close again: ''135.3 F (''92.9 C).

The old record had been ''128.6 F (''89.2 C).

Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced the cold facts at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco Monday.

"It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles," Scambos said, from the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco Monday, where he announced the data. "I'm confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth."

However, it won't be in the Guinness Book of World Records because these were satellite measured, not from thermometers, Scambos said.

"Thank God, I don't know how exactly it feels," Scambos said. But he said scientists do routinely make naked ''100 F (''73 C) dashes outside in the South Pole as a stunt, so people can survive that temperature for about three minutes.

Most of the time researchers need to breathe through a snorkel that brings air into the coat through a sleeve and warms it up "so you don't inhale by accident" the cold air, Scambos said.

Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and NASA's former chief scientist, and Scambos said this is likely an unusual random reading in a place that hasn't been measured much before and could have been colder or hotter in the past and we wouldn't know.

"It does speak to the range of conditions on this Earth, some of which we haven't been able to observe," Abdalati said.

Coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth in Antarctica: -94.7C (-135.8F)

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Archived Version

Source: Dave says...

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:08

Nasa satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded in east Antarctica. Photograph: Atsuhiro Muto/AP

Newly analysed Nasa satellite data from east Antarctica shows Earth has set a new record for coldest temperature ever recorded: -94.7C (-135.8F).

It happened in August 2010 when it hit -94.7C (-135.8F). Then on 31 July of this year, it came close again: -92.9C (-135.3F).

The old record had been -89.2C (-128.6F).

Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre announced the cold facts at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco on Monday.

"It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles," said Scambos. "I'm confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth."

However, it won't be in the Guinness Book of World Records because these were satellite measured, not from thermometers, Scambos said.

"Thank God, I don't know how exactly it feels," he said. But he said scientists do routinely make naked -73C (-100F) dashes outside in the south pole as a stunt, so people can survive that temperature for about three minutes.

Most of the time researchers need to breathe through a snorkel that brings air into the coat through a sleeve and warms it up "so you don't inhale by accident" the cold air, Scambos said.

Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and Nasa's former chief scientist, and Scambos said this is likely an unusual random reading in a place that hasn't been measured much before and could have been colder or hotter in the past and we wouldn't know.

"It does speak to the range of conditions on this Earth, some of which we haven't been able to observe," Abdalati said.

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Obama Hires John Podesta To Counsel Him On Executive Actions'...

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Source: Weasel Zippers

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:14

To say Podesta is a huge fan of an Imperial Presidency would be a massive understatement.

To give you an idea where this is going, Podesta wrote in 2010 that ''the ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these [executive] powers should not be underestimated.'' You can read Podesta's frightening views on executive actions here.

Via NY Times:

President Obama, after a rocky year that leaves him at the lowest ebb of his presidency, is bringing into his White House circle the longtime Democratic strategist John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Podesta, who has agreed to serve as counselor for a year, led Mr. Obama's presidential transition in 2008 and has been an outside adviser since then. He also has occasionally criticized the administration, if gently, from his perch as the founder and former president of the Center for American Progress, a center-left public policy research group that has provided personnel and policy ideas to the administration.

Word that Mr. Podesta would for the first time join Mr. Obama's official staff, from people familiar with the discussions, comes as the president is seeking to recover public support and credibility after the flawed introduction in October of the insurance marketplaces that are a key part of his signature Affordable Care Act. This week he brought back his former chief congressional lobbyist, Phil Schiliro, who had moved to New Mexico, to help on the health care issues. [...]

Mr. Podesta will help Mr. McDonough on matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions, said a person familiar with the plans, and will focus in particular on climate change issues, a personal priority of Mr. Podesta's.

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Seattle: Group: Shutting down Richland nuke plant would save money | Hanford news | Tri-CityHerald.com

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 14:55

Seattle '-- Physicians for Social Responsibility plans to release a new report Wednesday showing that shutting down the commercial nuclear power plant near Richland could save utility customers $1.7 billion over 17 years, the group announced.

However, Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration said this spring that a temporary or permanent shutdown of the plant would increase the cost of power for the region.

Costs for consumers would increase at lease $2.5 billion over 20 years if the plant is shut down and replacement power produced by natural gas is purchased, according to Energy Northwest.

Energy Northwest, owner of the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, and BPA released their cost prediction this spring when the Washington and Oregon chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility announced they had commissioned an economic study of the possibility of shutting down the nuclear plant.

Physicians for Social Responsibility said then that the power produced by the plant costs more than the market price of regional electricity.

''We believe this report demonstrates clearly that aging nuclear reactors, in addition to having safety problems, are having trouble competing in the electric power market,'' said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, national executive director of the group, in a prepared statement in advance of the release of the report.

McCullough Research was commissioned to prepare the report.

Physicians for Social Responsibility plans news conferences on Wednesday in Seattle and Portland.

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Trains Good Planes Bod (WHoo Hoo!)

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Russia Opens North Korean Rail Link for 'Iron Silk Road' - Bloomberg

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 15:56

Russia and North Korea opened a cross-border freight railway intended to speed cargo shipments between Asia and Europe in the event that the rival Koreas connect their train networks.

The top executives of both countries' state train operators inaugurated a route today that links the North Korean port city of Rajin with the Russian border town of Khasan.

Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said.

''Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia,'' Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries.

The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor.

North Korea canceled plans today for reunions this week of families separated by the division of the peninsula, and accused South Korean leaders of ''throwing obstacles'' in the way of reconciliation.

The North also put off talks on resuming tours by South Koreans to its Mount Geumgang resort after recent weeks of improved relations between the two sides. Kim Jong Un's regime accused the South of seeking confrontation, and threatened ''strong and decisive'' retaliation against any military provocation.

The Khasan-Rajin rail link will carry 100,000 freight containers a year, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported in April 2012.

The freight terminal at Rajin will be able to handle 4 million tons a year of coal, Yakunin said today, including shipments for OAO Mechel, Russia's biggest supplier of the material for steelmakers.

The new rail connection ''will promote the joint economic and transport development of the two countries and welfare of their peoples,'' North Korean Railways Minister Chon Kil-su said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Rajin, North Korea, via eshatalova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

Russia turns potential into account in the Eurasian Platform - Railway Pro

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:02

Oct 20th, 2011 | Category: Articles, Business, Current issue F&L, Market Development, october 11Since its founding, eight years ago, RZD, the Russian rail company, has moved an astonishing 10.4 billion tonnes of cargo. The company has gradually seen its market share grow, standing at 42.4% of all rail freight shipped in the country so far.However, the year 2009 proved to be a resilience test for Russian Railways, as because of the decline in freight transport, earnings fell to a certain extent. By the end of the year, the group managed to substantially reduce the size of its operational spending, by 8.2% to around EUR 25 Billion'', explained Russian Railways Senior Vice President Vadim Mikhailov, referring to the severe recession which affected all logistics sectors.Russia has proved that it knows to take advantage of the strategic importance that transport has in the Eurasian platform.The group has been in talks with SNCF regarding both passenger and freight ser-vices, the parties announced readiness to cooperate in developing goods transport and terminals as part of the Europe '' Asia transport corridor, and their intention of improving standards, to attract larger freight volumes.One of the main goals set out in the Strategy for Developing Rail Transport in Russia up to 2030 is therefore deep integration into the Eurasian transport system. To reach this objective, RZD will seek to to increase the role of the Russian rail network on the global market for transport services, especially in Eurasia and to strengthen Russian Railways' competitiveness compared to alternative forms of transport and foreign shipment companies.A regular container train service has been launched on the China '' Europe '' China route in 2010 in order to attract additional container freight. TransContainer, a partially privatised RZD subsidiary, is involved in this project as an operator, providing container transport services on the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian rail networks.On the other hand, the Trans-Eurasia Logistics Company (a joint venture between Deutsche Bahn Mobility, Polzug and Kombiferker) is continuing its work organising container freight services on international routes. Since June 2010, the joint venture has been working to provide regular container freight services between Duisburg (Germany) and Moscow.The shortest route between the European Union and Southeast Asia (a region which produces up to 70% of the world's GDP) is through Russia.Therefore, Russian Railways said they were planning to run a demonstration train between Hasan in Russia and Rajin in North Korea in October this year. The project aims to reconstruct an existing section of the railway, the Port of Rajin cargo terminal, and the subsequent use of this infrastructure for transit, with access to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

[ by Elena Ilie ]

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Ukraine gets $8bn investment from China '-- RT Business

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:03

Published time: December 05, 2013 13:44Edited time: December 05, 2013 15:09Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 5, 2013.(Reuters / Wang Zhao)

Ukrainian President Yanukovych left Kiev in search of foreign cash for his country's near bankrupt economy, and now he says he's secured $8 billion in investment from China.

The money has made a timely arrival in cash-strapped Ukraine's hands, as the economy teeters on default and faces debts over $15 billion. Yanukovych is on a three-day planned working trip to China.

"The documents signed today expand our economic cooperation. We have not yet calculated how much this will make up in terms of money, but we made some calculations earlier and saw that the matter is about some $8 billion in investments coming to the Ukrainian economy," Yanukovych said after signing a number of bilateral documents in Beijing on Thursday, quoted by Interfax.

More investment documents are in their final stages of preparation, and are expected to be signed soon, he said.

China has already given Ukraine $10 billion in loans, Reuters reported, citing Volodymyr Fesenko of Ukraine's Penta think-tank.

While Yanukovych signed papers in Beijing, a Ukrainian delegation met with Russian government officials in Moscow, including Prime Minister Medvedev to discuss trade issues such as customs clearance, Ukrainian chocolate, meat and dairy products, railways.

Protests broke out in Kiev over Yanukovych's last minute rejection of an EU trade deal in favor of restoring economic talks with Russia, Ukraine's top trading partner and energy supplier.

Ukraine hasn't made a decisive step East or West, and for now seems to be shopping around for the best economic deal to bring calm to markets, bond prices, and opposition movements, before committing to either the EU or Russia.

Deep in debtThe government faces $15.3 billion in maturing loans that will further deplete the Central Bank's currency reserves. As of October 31, Ukraine's international reserves dropped to $20.6 billion, according to Bloomberg data. The Central Bank intervening to repay debts will threaten the financial stability and the value of the hryvnia, Ukraine's currency.

Public debt is just a piece of the debt abyss. State-owned companies are also at high-risk of bankruptcy.

Naftogaz, the state-run oil and gas company, has a 15 percent chance of default in the next 12 months, according to Okan Akin, a strategist at asset management group AllianceBernstein, Reuters reports.

The local currency, the hryvnia, is depreciating so fast investors worry a money lock down similar to Cyprus could take place. Authorities would use capital controls to protect the currency, limiting movement across borders.

Although Russia has repeatedly warned Kiev it will end trade benefits if it signs an association deal with the EU, Ukraine remains caught between Russia and the EU. Ukraine will send delegations to both the EU and Moscow ''to restore economic trade relations,'' Prime Minister Azarov said Tuesday.

Ukraine still owes state-owned Gazprom $2 billion in unpaid bills, and there is no plan to settle the debt, Gazprom head Aleksey Miller said Wednesday. His comment contradicts Tuesday's statement by the head of Naftogaz that Gazprom has extended payment until the spring.

Gazprom, Russia's largest natural gas company, ships half of its European gas through Ukraine.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a natural hub for transporting Russian gas to European and Turkish markets, but Gazprom is building a maze of new pipelines to circumvent their western neighbor in transit logistics.

Next stop: RussiaThe next destination for President Viktor Yanukovych will be the country's closest ally, Russia, where the countries hope to normalize ''the roadmap of cooperation, which will imply normal trade and economic regime," Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov said.

Russia is Ukraine's main source of energy, loans and trade, with Russia importing nearly 25 percent of Ukraine's export goods.

Ukraine still owes state-owned Gazprom $2 billion in unpaid bills, and there is no plan to settle the debt, Gazprom head Aleksey Miller said Wednesday. His comment contradicts Tuesday's statement by Naftogaz head that said Gazprom has extended payment time until spring.

Gazprom, Russia's largest natural gas company, ships half of its European gas through Ukraine.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a natural hub for transporting Russian gas to European and Turkish markets, but Gazprom, Russia's state-owned gas giant, is building a maze of new pipelines to circumvent their western neighbor in transit logistics.

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Farmers Lose as Bumper Grain Harvest Overwhelms Ships, Trains

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 15:16

Bumper corn and soybean harvests in the U.S. Midwest are stretching the system for moving crops from fields to markets beyond its limits this year, driving up export costs and crimping profits for farmers and grain dealers.After years of drought, the bountiful harvests may have come as a relief to America's heartland if it were not for the severe transportation bottlenecks that have developed.

The rising tide of corn and soybeans is causing severe slowdowns along an interlocking network of railroads, highways and rivers. Barges and hopper cars are overbooked in a system already strained by new demand for delivery of oil by rail, a delay of repairs to river locks, and backlogs at international shipping terminals.

"Every elevator and co-op I've talked to says the same thing: They don't know how they are going to get all their December deliveries delivered," said Mike Hall, a grain broker in central Illinois. "There is just a world of grain to move in December. Huge amounts."

The Mississippi River and its tributaries are a highway for grain barges and the cheapest means to haul crops from the heart of the Midwest farm belt to Gulf Coast export terminals.

When bottlenecks develop in the Mississippi system and the grain belt's rail lines, the delays can drive up export prices, making U.S. grain less competitive. They also create a glut in the interior, which can chip away at profits for the nation's farmers.

Indeed, farmers are expected to see net cash receipts from grain crops fall by 3 percent in 2013 in a year of overall robust volume, according to a late November report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many farmers protect themselves from price fluctuations after harvest by locking in prices during the summer with futures trading and other forms of forward contracting.

The decline will occur in a year of robust profits overall for farmers, with income forecast to hit $131 billion, up 15 percent from last year and the most profitable performance in 40 years. Much of the increase is due to sky high livestock prices, the USDA said.

Corn is the largest U.S. crop in volume and typically is a major contributor to farm income. But American farmers have faced significant challenges with this year's crop.

A late spring planting meant the harvest, which typically lasts 10 to 12 weeks, was condensed into about nine weeks. Farmers rushed to make up for the delay, bringing in the harvest from late October to early November - the very surge that is taxing the transportation system.

"We went from zero to 60 in about two weeks' time, once this harvest started kicking in," said Martin Hettel of AEP River Operations, comparing the acceleration of this year's harvest to a race car. Hettel helps supervise the operation of more than 2,900 barges.

Operators who were stuck with empty boats in the last two years, when summer drought produced weak U.S. harvests, were expected to be booked through at least February, Hettel said.

Some shippers are already racing against encroaching winter weather and ice buildups on some waterways. Northern stretches of many Midwest rivers are closed to barge traffic, with more closures expected in coming weeks. That is expected to exacerbate the backlog for grain merchandisers already struggling to find empty space on vessels.

The USDA has pegged this year's corn crop at a record 13.989 billion bushels and the soybean crop at 3.3 billion bushels.

The corn harvest - up 30 percent from last year - is expected to more than double domestic stockpiles, which had been depleted by drought in 2012 to a 17-year low. For soybeans, stockpiles were seen rising 21 percent after what is estimated as the third-biggest crop on record.

Grain elevators that had gone nearly empty a year ago, suddenly are stuffed with grain, thanks to the famine-to-feast shift in grain production.

The slowdowns start on the road. Trucks have been hard to come by this year, shippers say. The drought of 2012 forced some drivers who typically move grain to seek work in other industries, such as hauling rocks out of quarries, and some have not returned, they say.On railroads, grain dealers have struggled to find empty train cars. To make matters worse, railway construction and expansion have caused trains to travel slower than usual this autumn, further squeezing capacity.

Stuffed with grain, hopper cars on the BNSF Railway last month were moving at about 20.5 miles per hour (33 kph), compared with 23.3 mph during the last quarter of 2012, according to data on the Association of American Railroads website.

As a result, trains stretching 100 cars long, which normally can make three trips a month between the Corn Belt and export terminals on the Pacific Northwest, are logging only two trips, grain handlers say.

Development of the huge Bakken shale deposit, which has created demand for transporting oil by rail across the northern U.S. Plains, has contributed to the slowdown. Bakken oil traveling from the Dakotas to refineries in the Midwest and elsewhere is competing for existing track capacity.

Freight costs to the Pacific Northwest are soaring. Some grain handlers who had booked freight in advance of the harvest have been able to re-sell the space at a tidy profit to other grain shippers caught short by the reduced flow of trains.

But those re-sellers can lose money elsewhere. Huge piles of grain stored on the ground outside country elevators have steadily lost value as surpluses cause prices to tumble.

"You might be able to give up a train here and there, and make $300,000 or something. But at the same time, your grain is sitting there," said a rail freight broker, who declined to be identified because he was revealing competitive business information. "The freight division makes money, and the others lose it."

Premiums for rail freight are rolling forward into the winter months.

"A month ago, December was trading at like $500 a car, and now it is worth $1,300," said Dan Mostad, grain marketing manager at Berthold Farmers Elevator in Berthold, North Dakota.

One farmer in Mattoon, Illinois, estimated that his local elevator had 750,000 bushels of corn piled on the ground in a mound 60 feet (18 metres) high and 260 feet wide. Such stockpiles suggest traffic out of the Midwest will remain congested for a long time, grain handlers said.

RIVER TRAFFIC BUILDS AS TEMPERATURES DROP

Grain shipments on Midwest river systems are slowing to a trickle, too, with delays extending from Iowa and Minnesota down to the massive export ports at the Gulf of Mexico.

Near the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in the central Midwest, stalled repairs at one of the nation's busiest lock systems caused three-day delays. The blockage pushed shipping costs on the Ohio River to a five-year high.

Locks on rivers north of St. Louis are nearly a century old, but tight federal budgets have meant repairs can be made only on a piecemeal basis. Older locks typically have only one locking chamber, meaning unscheduled repairs can at times completely block the mile-wide Mississippi.

"The river is essentially closed until that is repaired, and you never know which lock it's going to be," said Andrew Schimpf, operations manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi River Project.

The backups come to a head at the country's largest grain port complex around New Orleans. Delays in loading vessels are running to 10 days, the worst in at least four years.

The delays are all the more remarkable given that private owners of port facilities, such as Archer Daniels Midland Co , Cargill Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Corp , have invested heavily in expanding capacity in recent years to capture rising demand from Asia.

The early winter river traffic is expected to get worse before it gets better. As temperatures fall, water levels drop and ice narrows the navigable channels on the rivers that remain open. For many upstream grain elevators, that means storing more grain on the ground through winter, leaving it exposed to rot and causing losses for the owners of the grain.

(C) 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Asiana crash captain 'very concerned' about visual landing: NTSB | New York Post

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:24

WASHINGTON '-- The Asiana Airlines captain who crashed a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport in July told investigators he was stressed out and ''very concerned'' about attempting a visual approach because the runway's automatic warning systems were out of service due to construction, according to an investigative report released Wednesday.

Lee Kang Kuk, a 46-year-old pilot who was landing the big jet for his first time at San Francisco, ''stated it was very difficult to perform a visual approach with a heavy airplane.'' The jet crash landed after approaching low and slow in an accident that left three dead and more than 150 injured.

The report was released at the start of a daylong National Transportation Safety Board hearing into the accident.

''In this hearing, we will learn about the facts of the crash, but we will also learn about the factors that enabled so many to walk away. We will focus not only on the human machine interface in highly automated aircraft, but also on emergency response,'' said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, opening the hearing.

The trainee captain told investigators that he realized others had been landing at San Francisco without the glide slope indicator, a technology that helps pilots land at the airport. That system was out of service while the runway was expanded, and has since been restarted.

Interviews with the pilots who were in the cockpit indicated a nervous trainee captain, while the other two pilots recognized too late they were coming in too low and slow.

When asked if he was concerned about his ability to perform the visual approach, Lee said ''very concerned, yea.''

A former Boeing 777 foreign captain at Asiana told investigators he found it ''extremely difficult'' to get pilots to fly visual approaches, and that they usually wanted to take off rather than land. In clear weather, it's not unusual for pilots to make a visual approach, using the view through their windshield.

San Francisco Fire Department Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes is also scheduled to talk at the hearing about how a fire truck racing toward the burning plane ran over a survivor on the tarmac.

Footage taken after the crash showed a fire truck running over 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan while she was lying on the tarmac covered with fire-retardant foam. The San Mateo County coroner later ruled that she was killed by the truck.

Attorneys representing some of the more than 60 crash victims suing the airline and Boeing Co. plan to attend the hearing. Asiana Airlines is also offering $10,000 to each of the surviving passengers, a payout the airline says is not a settlement and does not prevent passengers from suing the airline.

The hearing was originally scheduled to run for two days, starting Tuesday, but it was postponed because of wintry weather in Washington, D.C. The crash was the first commercial airline crash in the U.S. since a crash near Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009.

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Ukraine

Protesters In Kiev's Maidan Celebrate Victory With Nary A Policeman In Sight

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:58

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

KIEV, Ukraine '-- They massed outside the square in the thousands in the dead of a freezing night, wielding batons and riot shields. They hacked away at barricades with chainsaws. They formed phalanxes across the square like an invading army.

Then, by noon, they were all gone.

Troops from Ukraine's elite riot police force, Berkut, or Golden Eagle, slinked away humiliated Wednesday morning after a failed attempt to clear protesters from Independence Square, which they have occupied for the last ten days in opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych's government. Thousands of protesters thronged the square, known as the Maidan, to restore their fortifications and celebrate victory.

Some chopped up the thick sheet of ice over the square.instagram.com

Others put up tents.Max Seddon / BuzzFeed

By midday Wednesday, the square had filled with people.Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

Riot police who attempted to clear Kiev's occupied City Hall were met with showers of cold water.Stringer / Reuters

''They won't try running through here again, and if they do, we'll fight back against them until the bitter end,'' Sergei, 20, an unemployed college graduate who declined to give his last name, said after staying up all night to defend City Hall. ''The only way for this to end is in Yanukovych's resignation.''

Police had been given orders to clear the streets surrounding the square, but not to clear the square itself or clash with protesters. Only 11 people were arrested during the evening's surreal clashes, which saw them use force. Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said police had been deployed in an attempt to clear up Kiev's traffic.

Western diplomats condemned the attempted crackdown in unusually strong terms, but insisted that the door was still open for Yanukovych to move towards Europe. Protests broke out in late November when Yanukovych reneged on a long-mooted deal with the EU in favor of better relations with Russia, and exploded after police violently removed a student tent city from the Maidan.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was in Kiev overnight after meeting with opposition leaders and spent her morning handing out cookies on the Maidan.Pool / Reuters

Later, after meeting with Yanukovych, Nuland told reporters she ''made it absolutely clear to him that what happened last night [was] absolutely impermissible in a European state and in a democratic state,'' but said it was ''still possible to save Ukraine's European future.''

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who had also been in Kiev overnight and visited the Maidan to a rapturous and surreal reception, met with Yanukovych Wednesday afternoon.

Government representatives had invited the opposition to a roundtable discussion Wednesday to find a way out of the political crisis, but dialogue looked increasingly untenable after the crackdown. Opposition leader and former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko said that Yanukovych was unprepared to move towards Europe or negotiate with protesters. ''He's getting ready to surrender Ukraine to Russia,'' he said.

Buses of protesters set out from several cities across the country for the Maidan, Ukrainian media reported. Lutsenko urged Ukrainians to come out Sunday for Kiev's biggest demonstration yet, which he said would be a ''Rubicon.''

''It is here, on EuroMaidan, that European integration is happening,'' Lutsenko said. ''It is here that Ukraine is being built as a nation.''

Ukraine gets $8bn investment from China '-- RT Business

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:03

Published time: December 05, 2013 13:44Edited time: December 05, 2013 15:09Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 5, 2013.(Reuters / Wang Zhao)

Ukrainian President Yanukovych left Kiev in search of foreign cash for his country's near bankrupt economy, and now he says he's secured $8 billion in investment from China.

The money has made a timely arrival in cash-strapped Ukraine's hands, as the economy teeters on default and faces debts over $15 billion. Yanukovych is on a three-day planned working trip to China.

"The documents signed today expand our economic cooperation. We have not yet calculated how much this will make up in terms of money, but we made some calculations earlier and saw that the matter is about some $8 billion in investments coming to the Ukrainian economy," Yanukovych said after signing a number of bilateral documents in Beijing on Thursday, quoted by Interfax.

More investment documents are in their final stages of preparation, and are expected to be signed soon, he said.

China has already given Ukraine $10 billion in loans, Reuters reported, citing Volodymyr Fesenko of Ukraine's Penta think-tank.

While Yanukovych signed papers in Beijing, a Ukrainian delegation met with Russian government officials in Moscow, including Prime Minister Medvedev to discuss trade issues such as customs clearance, Ukrainian chocolate, meat and dairy products, railways.

Protests broke out in Kiev over Yanukovych's last minute rejection of an EU trade deal in favor of restoring economic talks with Russia, Ukraine's top trading partner and energy supplier.

Ukraine hasn't made a decisive step East or West, and for now seems to be shopping around for the best economic deal to bring calm to markets, bond prices, and opposition movements, before committing to either the EU or Russia.

Deep in debtThe government faces $15.3 billion in maturing loans that will further deplete the Central Bank's currency reserves. As of October 31, Ukraine's international reserves dropped to $20.6 billion, according to Bloomberg data. The Central Bank intervening to repay debts will threaten the financial stability and the value of the hryvnia, Ukraine's currency.

Public debt is just a piece of the debt abyss. State-owned companies are also at high-risk of bankruptcy.

Naftogaz, the state-run oil and gas company, has a 15 percent chance of default in the next 12 months, according to Okan Akin, a strategist at asset management group AllianceBernstein, Reuters reports.

The local currency, the hryvnia, is depreciating so fast investors worry a money lock down similar to Cyprus could take place. Authorities would use capital controls to protect the currency, limiting movement across borders.

Although Russia has repeatedly warned Kiev it will end trade benefits if it signs an association deal with the EU, Ukraine remains caught between Russia and the EU. Ukraine will send delegations to both the EU and Moscow ''to restore economic trade relations,'' Prime Minister Azarov said Tuesday.

Ukraine still owes state-owned Gazprom $2 billion in unpaid bills, and there is no plan to settle the debt, Gazprom head Aleksey Miller said Wednesday. His comment contradicts Tuesday's statement by the head of Naftogaz that Gazprom has extended payment until the spring.

Gazprom, Russia's largest natural gas company, ships half of its European gas through Ukraine.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a natural hub for transporting Russian gas to European and Turkish markets, but Gazprom is building a maze of new pipelines to circumvent their western neighbor in transit logistics.

Next stop: RussiaThe next destination for President Viktor Yanukovych will be the country's closest ally, Russia, where the countries hope to normalize ''the roadmap of cooperation, which will imply normal trade and economic regime," Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov said.

Russia is Ukraine's main source of energy, loans and trade, with Russia importing nearly 25 percent of Ukraine's export goods.

Ukraine still owes state-owned Gazprom $2 billion in unpaid bills, and there is no plan to settle the debt, Gazprom head Aleksey Miller said Wednesday. His comment contradicts Tuesday's statement by Naftogaz head that said Gazprom has extended payment time until spring.

Gazprom, Russia's largest natural gas company, ships half of its European gas through Ukraine.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a natural hub for transporting Russian gas to European and Turkish markets, but Gazprom, Russia's state-owned gas giant, is building a maze of new pipelines to circumvent their western neighbor in transit logistics.

U.S. says Ukraine's 'European future' can be saved: Nuland | Reuters

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:59

KIEVWed Dec 11, 2013 7:34am EST

KIEV (Reuters) - The United States believes it is possible to save Ukraine's "European future" and President Viktor Yanukovich must lead the way, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.

After talks with Yanukovich that lasted more than two hours, she told reporters: "We also made clear that we believe there is a way out for Ukraine and it is still possible to save Ukraine's European future, and that's what we want to see the president lead, and that's going to require immediate security steps."

Nuland, who spoke to protesters in Kiev's central Independence Square earlier on Wednesday, also said she had complained to Yanukovich about police moves against protesters overnight.

Scores of riot police moved against demonstrators during the night, triggering fears among opposition leaders that they would crush a protest over Yanukovich's decision to spurn an EU trade deal and move Ukraine further into Russia's orbit.

"I made it absolutely clear to him that what happened last night ... is absolutely impermissible in a European state and in a democratic state," she said, describing talks with Yanukovich as "tough" but "realistic".

(Reporting by Richard Balmforth, writing by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Timothy Heritage)

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Science!

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals | Science | The Guardian

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 22:28

Randy Schekman, centre, at a Nobel prize ceremony in Stockholm. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum/Zuma Press/Corbis

Leading academic journals are distorting the scientific process and represent a "tyranny" that must be broken, according to a Nobel prize winner who has declared a boycott on the publications.

Randy Schekman, a US biologist who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine this year and receives his prize in Stockholm on Tuesday, said his lab would no longer send research papers to the top-tier journals, Nature, Cell and Science.

Schekman said pressure to publish in "luxury" journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash.

The prestige of appearing in the major journals has led the Chinese Academy of Sciences to pay successful authors the equivalent of $30,000 (£18,000). Some researchers made half of their income through such "bribes", Schekman said in an interview.

Writing in the Guardian, Schekman raises serious concerns over the journals' practices and calls on others in the scientific community to take action.

"I have published in the big brands, including papers that won me a Nobel prize. But no longer," he writes. "Just as Wall Street needs to break the hold of bonus culture, so science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals."

Schekman is the editor of eLife, an online journal set up by the Wellcome Trust. Articles submitted to the journal '' a competitor to Nature, Cell and Science '' are discussed by reviewers who are working scientists and accepted if all agree. The papers are free for anyone to read.

Schekman criticises Nature, Cell and Science for artificially restricting the number of papers they accept, a policy he says stokes demand "like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags." He also attacks a widespread metric called an "impact factor", used by many top-tier journals in their marketing.

A journal's impact factor is a measure of how often its papers are cited, and is used as a proxy for quality. But Schekman said it was "toxic influence" on science that "introduced a distortion". He writes: "A paper can become highly cited because it is good science - or because it is eye-catching, provocative, or wrong."

Daniel Sirkis, a postdoc in Schekman's lab, said many scientists wasted a lot of time trying to get their work into Cell, Science and Nature. "It's true I could have a harder time getting my foot in the door of certain elite institutions without papers in these journals during my postdoc, but I don't think I'd want to do science at a place that had this as one of their most important criteria for hiring anyway," he told the Guardian.

Sebastian Springer, a biochemist at Jacobs University in Bremen, who worked with Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley, said he agreed there were major problems in scientific publishing, but no better model yet existed. "The system is not meritocratic. You don't necessarily see the best papers published in those journals. The editors are not professional scientists, they are journalists which isn't necessarily the greatest problem, but they emphasise novelty over solid work," he said.

Springer said it was not enough for individual scientists to take a stand. Scientists are hired and awarded grants and fellowships on the basis of which journals they publish in. "The hiring committees all around the world need to acknowledge this issue," he said.

Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief at Nature, said the journal had worked with the scientific community for more than 140 years and the support it had from authors and reviewers was validation that it served their needs.

"We select research for publication in Nature on the basis of scientific significance. That in turn may lead to citation impact and media coverage, but Nature editors aren't driven by those considerations, and couldn't predict them even if they wished to do so," he said.

"The research community tends towards an over-reliance in assessing research by the journal in which it appears, or the impact factor of that journal. In a survey Nature Publishing Group conducted this year of over 20,000 scientists, the three most important factors in choosing a journal to submit to were: the reputation of the journal; the relevance of the journal content to their discipline; and the journal's impact factor. My colleagues and I have expressed concerns about over-reliance on impact factors many times over the years, both in the pages of Nature and elsewhere."

Monica Bradford, executive editor at Science, said: "We have a large circulation and printing additional papers has a real economic cost '... Our editorial staff is dedicated to ensuring a thorough and professional peer review upon which they determine which papers to select for inclusion in our journal. There is nothing artificial about the acceptance rate. It reflects the scope and mission of our journal."

Emilie Marcus, editor of Cell, said: "Since its launch nearly 40 years ago, Cell has focused on providing strong editorial vision, best-in-class author service with informed and responsive professional editors, rapid and rigorous peer-review from leading academic researchers, and sophisticated production quality. Cell's raison d'etre is to serve science and scientists and if we fail to offer value for both our authors and readers, the journal will not flourish; for us doing so is a founding principle, not a luxury."

' This article was amended on 10 December 2013 to include a response from Cell editor Emilie Marcus, which arrived after the initial publication deadline.

Shut Up Slave!

Neil Phillips quizzed for 8 HOURS by police after Nelson Mandela Twitter jokes | Mail Online

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 22:36

Neil Phillips from Rugeley, Staffordshire, was also finger-printedThe 44-year-old insisted he meant no harm saying there was 'no hatred'Local Councillor Tim Jones complained about the one-linersCPS said they would not be prosecuting because of insufficient evidenceBy Wills Robinson

PUBLISHED: 05:55 EST, 9 December 2013 | UPDATED: 07:29 EST, 9 December 2013

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Tasteless: Neil Phillips, 44, insists he meant 'no harm' when he posted the jokes online

A sandwich shop owner endured eight hours of questioning by police and had his computer seized for three weeks '' after making tasteless Nelson Mandela jokes on the internet.

Neil Phillips, who runs Crumbs in Rugeley, Staffordshire, says he was also finger-printed and DNA-swabbed after officers received complaints about what he insists were harmless gags.

In one online post, the 44-year-old wrote: 'My PC takes so long to shut down I've decided to call it Nelson Mandela.'

Mandela, the former South African leader, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, died on Thursday, aged 95.

Mr Phillips was arrested at his home on September 10 and was taken to a police station where he was quizzed about the postings on the Rugeley Soap Box website.

He said: 'It was an awful experience. I was fingerprinted, they took DNA and my computer.

'It was a couple of jokes, Bernard Manning type.

'There was no hatred.

'You can question the taste, but they're not hateful. I told the police they got plenty of "likes". What happened to freedom of speech?

'I think they over-reacted massively. Those jokes are "out there", anyway.

'When they took my computer, I thought, "what the hell are they looking for?" To be questioned would have been over the top, never mind arrested.'

Mr Phillips admitted to once being a member of the far-right BNP, but quit 25 years ago.

Death: The former South African leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner passed away on Thursday aged 95

Quizzed: Tom Christopher, 72, was also interviewed over claims he made threats online during a dispute over a proposed memorial

'They are jokes that I cut-and-pasted,' insisted Mr Phillips. 'I didn't make them up and I didn't put them on a public site.

'You have to sign-up and join. It's turning into the thought police '' you can't do this, you can't do that.

He was one of two men interviewed by police following a bitter, ill-tempered feud over plans for a mining memorial in the town centre has been ambushed by some members of the Far Right and used as a propaganda platform.

The other individual was pensioner and former miner Tom Christopher, 72, who was quizzed by police at his home in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, over claims he issued threats on the net.

The memorial dispute sank to new depths at a Rugeley Town Council meeting last week, when police ejected Mr Christopher.

He was enraged by public allegations that some of those involved in the miner's tribute were 'thugs and fascists'.

One council official admitted: 'It didn't come to fisticuffs, but it was close.'

Cllr Jones added that he was 'deeply disturbed' an unofficial Facebook poll over the memorial has allegedly been 'influenced' by the English Defence League.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Jones was so incensed by the one-liners, aired at a time when Mandela was critically ill, that he made an official complaint.

He commented under one tasteless joke: 'Attacking a 94-year-old man who is probably dying. Does the far right have an ounce of human decency?'

Forum: The comments were made on the Rugeley Bugle under the post The Soap Box

Outrage: Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Jones was so incensed by the comments he made an official complaint

'The dispute is about its location. Without the involvement of extremists, people could have sat down talked about their differences and had a good chance of reaching agreement, perhaps on a survey, which most people would have accepted as fair.

'The whole affair is very sad.'

He then sent the Sunday Mercury - a Birmingham-based newspaper - screen grabs.

One was of a shocking image of decapitation, another featuring a wheelchair-bound individual, both posted by Mr Phillips.

He said: 'They are vile and deeply offensive, anti-Muslim, anti-disabled.'

Staffordshire Police declined to go into detail about the nature of their interview with Mr Phillips. But a spokesman said: 'We can confirm a man was arrested in Rugeley on September 10.

'He was bailed pending further enquiries.

'When he answered bail on September 30, he was informed that there would be no further action based on CPS decision of there being insufficient evidence to support a prosecution.'

Memorial: Globe Island in Rugeley, Staffordshire, which is the proposed site for a miner's tribute

Probe: The pair were both interviewed by officers over online posts which are part of a dispute over a mining tribute in Rugeley town centre

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Texas Architects Will Soon Have to Be Fingerprinted - Mike Riggs - The Atlantic Cities

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:10

Starting January 1, 2014, architects who apply for an occupational license in Texas will have to share their fingerprints with the state. Texas House Bill 1717 [PDF], passed earlier this year, says that applicants seeking a license from the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners must submit "a complete and legible set of fingerprints, on a form prescribed by the board, to the board or to the Department of Public Safety for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information." The FBI would also have access to all those fingerprints.

The requirement applies not just to new applicants, but also to licensed architects seeking to have their registrations renewed. Violators face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in which they are not in compliance with the new law. Currently only one other state (Massachusetts) even runs criminal background checks on architects. Now Texas is upping the ante.

Every person seeking a licensed job in Texas has to join a database of potential criminal suspects.

''Sometime back, the legislature became convinced that if there was an individual licensed by the state who had access to someone's kids, to their house, to their money, or to drugs or explosives, then steps needed to be taken to do a more thorough background check,'' David Lancaster of the Texas Society of Architects told The Architect's Newspaper. Lancaster told the paper that his group believed fighting the legislation would be "futile."

Architects in the state aren't alone. The Texas Medical Board requires fingerprints for medical licenses and the Texas Nursing Board requires them for nursing licenses. Same goes for every job type governed by the Texas Racing Commission (ranging from assistant farrier to race announcer to jockey), as well as real estate agents, lawyers, and speech language pathologists.

But just because it's happening to almost everybody else in Texas doesn't mean it should be happening. "Please understand '-- and believe '-- that your TxA advocates did everything possible to suggest that architects are the professional that least needs to be fingerprinted '-- if they need to be fingerprinted at all," Lancaster wrote in an open letter to members. Lancaster's belief is shared by legislators outside Texas. In no other state in the country are architects submitted to fingerprinting.

For some professions, fingerprinting makes sense. In the 1990s and early 2000s, states began requiring public school teachers to submit to fingerprinting. Despite teacher resistance, this is now a common practice across the country, largely because the argument for it'--schools should do everything they can to keep sex offenders out of the classroom'--has been so persuasive. Fingerprinting people who work in the defense industry also makes sense.

But fingerprinting architects and other professionals essentially means every person seeking a licensed job in Texas has to join a database of potential criminal suspects. It could also allow the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners to discriminate against architects with criminal records.

So what happens if an architect in good professional standing is revealed to have a minor crime on his record due to being fingerprinted? Could he lose his license, despite the quality of his work? The TBAE absolutely reserves that right. "There are criteria that TBAE Enforcement staff consider in these reviews, and mitigating circumstances include how long ago the conviction was, whether it was related to the practice of the profession, and more."

Top image: shutterstock.com/auremar

War on LGBT Countries F-Russia

Gay sex illegal, says Supreme Court, sets aside high court order | NDTV.com

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:22

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said gay sex between consenting adults remains a criminal offence, dealing a severe blow to the largely closeted homosexual community in India.The top court today said that the Delhi High court's 2009 order decriminalising homosexuality is constitutionally unsustainable.

The Delhi High Court had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence, by overturning a colonial-era law, the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The high court order had been challenged by anti-gay rights activists, social and religious organisations .

Senior BJP leader BP Singhal, who died last year, had challenged the verdict calling it illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture. Religious organisations such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance also filed appeals against that verdict.

The Supreme Court had reserved its order in March last year, after day-to-day hearing in the case lasted an entire month. While hearing the appeal, the top court had pulled up the Centre for its "casual" approach in dealing with homosexuality and expressed concern over Parliament not discussing such issues and instead blaming the judiciary for its alleged overreach. During the arguments, the Centre told the top court that the anti-gay law in the country was a result of the British colonialism and that the Indian society was more tolerant towards homosexuality.

It was a complete U-turn by the Centre which had strongly opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality before the High Court, calling it "unnatural, immoral and reflection of a perverse mind."

Brooklyn declared 'lesbian capital' by boro president | New York Post

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:56

He's running out of superlatives, but Borough President Marty Markowitz managed to come up with one more Tuesday: Brooklyn is the ''lesbian capital'' of the Northeast.

The borough's bubbly chief cheerleader gave the unusual shout-out during a radio interview on WNYC.

''We remain the lesbian capital of New York City and the Northeast,'' Markowitz proclaimed.

''In other words, we have a much larger lesbian population in Brooklyn. New York City is fortunate to have a large LBGT community, but in Brooklyn in particular, the lesbian community, there's no question it's the capital of the Northeast.

''They've made unbelievable contributions to the quality of life in our city and our borough.''

He also mentioned the Chinese population, Manhattan ''refugees,'' and business opportunities in the borough.

A commenter named Jill praised the Beep on the station's Web site:

''Lesbians usually get lumped in with the gay community as a whole. It's so refreshing to hear someone recognize us as our own group, which has indeed impacted the economy and culture of Brooklyn. And he's right '-- Brooklyn is the lesbian mecca!''

Markowitz, like Mayor Bloomberg, is leaving his post on Jan. 1 after 12 years in office.

War on Crazy

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Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence '' Gun Law Information Experts

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:59

Few of us will ever forget December 14, 2012. It's been nearly a year since the massacre of 20 innocent children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That unbearable tragedy sent ripples of outrage and grief throughout our country and around the world '' and changed so much.

Please join us, alongside many other supporting organizations, as we gather in remembrance of the lives lost in Newtown one year ago as well as the 85 American lives lost to gunfire every day. This is also an opportunity for you to engage with a community of supporters, to help energize the efforts of the national movement, and for us all to look ahead as we demand real and lasting solutions to gun violence.

BEYOND NEWTOWN RALLYSaturday, December 14, 2013 at 2pmSan Francisco's UN Plaza

Speakers:U.S. Congresswoman Jackie SpeierCalifornia Senator Mark LenoCalifornia Senator Leland YeeRobyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun ViolenceMindy Finkelstein, Gun Violence Survivorand more'...

Partnering Organizations:

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun ViolenceBridges of HopeGlobal ExchangeHealing 4 our Families and Our NationLaw Center to Prevent Gun ViolenceMoveOn.Org

Organizing for ActionOr Shalom Jewish CommunitySF Committee to End Gun ViolenceSojourner Truth Foster Family Service AgencyThe Kitchen SFUnited Playaz

There is also a Youth March prior to the rally, which will begin at 12pm at the Gene Friend Recreation Center at 270 6th Street, and culminate at UN Plaza for the rally. A vigil will be held on Friday at 1 pm, on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence STATES

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:19

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with the Brady Campaign to release our 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter. This collaborative report empowers us all by putting the Law Center's in-depth research on America's gun laws into the hands of the advocates across the nation so they can continue to fight for effective gun policies in their communities.

Download the full 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter here.

Since Newtown, so much has changed. The slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School sent shockwaves through the nation and ignited a passionate call for our leaders to take steps to prevent gun violence. When Congress failed to pass any new gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, including the overwhelmingly popular legislation to expand background checks, state legislatures answered the call.

Starting last January, legislators in state houses across the country began introducing a record number of bills to strengthen gun laws. Even states with historically weak gun laws, like Florida, Missouri, and Texas, took action towards sensible gun legislation. In fact, twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence in their communities, with eight of these states passing major reforms'--far eclipsing the corporate gun lobby's limited success in state legislatures in 2013.

Click on each state's initials in the map below to see our analysis of the gun laws in that state.

The 2013 Law Center & Brady Campaign State Gun Laws Scorecard

To view a larger version of this map, click here.

Gun laws really do matter. State gun laws fill enormous gaps that exist in our nation's federal laws, and help to reduce gun violence and keep citizens safe. In part because these laws help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and aid law enforcement in solving gun crimes, many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates.

Because state laws differ widely, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have teamed up to evaluate and compare the laws of all fifty states, as they have both done in years past. Together, we have ranked all fifty states based on thirty policy approaches to regulating guns and ammunition, such as background checks on gun sales, reporting lost or stolen firearms, and prohibiting dangerous people from purchasing weapons. (Click on each state's initials in the map above to see our analysis of the gun laws in that state.)

States received points for having effective laws in each policy area, with stronger laws receiving more points. States lost points for irresponsible measures that increase the likelihood of gun violence, such as laws that allow individuals to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public without a permit. Ultimately, every state was awarded a letter grade indicating the overall strength or weakness of its gun laws. Because so many states enacted strong new laws in 2013, several states received a higher grade than in past rankings. Thanks to new laws enacted in 2013, six states' grades improved compared to the Law Center's 2012 publication Gun Laws Matter.

Strong gun laws are clearly associated with keeping citizens safe from gun violence.

Gun laws can make a real difference to public safety. Seven states with the highest grades also have the lowest gun death rates nationwide. Conversely, many states with the weakest gun laws have the highest gun death rates. While more research is needed to determine the precise relationship, it is clear that the data supports the conclusion that state gun laws and the rate of gun deaths are closely tied.

State laws fill some of the most critical gaps in federal law. One of the most dangerous gaps exists because the federal Brady Law only requires background checks for sales by a licensed gun dealer. Because of this, roughly 40% of all gun purchases do not require background checks, allowing dangerous people to skirt the law.

Strong background check laws help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Four additional states enacted background check laws in 2013 to protect their citizens from gun violence.

When Congress failed to finish the job and expand background checks to cover these other gun sales in April of 2013, many states passed life-saving legislation to protect their communities from gun violence.

Five states strengthened regulation of unlicensed firearms sales by requiring background checks on all gun sales or improved the purchase permit process;Four states added a requirement that owners report lost or stolen firearms to police;Three states enacted laws to strengthen record-keeping and/or background check requirements for ammunition sales;Four states strengthened existing restrictions on military-style assault weapons; andFive states added or strengthened existing restrictions on large capacity ammunition magazinesThese new laws are adding pressure to Congress to finish the job and expand background checks to cover all gun sales including online and at gun shows.

A state's gun laws also matter greatly to the safety of residents in neighboring states. The strength or weakness of a state's gun laws correlates to the number of crime guns trafficked across state lines. This means, for example, that guns purchased in a state with weak laws are often trafficked into states with stronger laws where they are found at crime scenes.

A report published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns examined a number of the state laws included in our ranking and found that states that had enacted one or more of the laws to curb gun trafficking exported fewer guns that later turned up at crime scenes in other states.

After Newtown, the nation demanded stronger gun laws. State legislators and governors have responded to the call. They understand that solutions to the epidemic of gun violence are in their hands and are acting to keep their communities safe. Americans must continue to make their voices heard and demand stronger gun laws to protect public safety. The research demonstrates that strong laws can'--and do'--help keep our communities safe from gun violence.

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Home - My Sandy Hook Family

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:27

Rachel Marie D'Avino had an unrelenting determination and a clear focus on helping adults and children with Autism. She attended University of Hartford, Post University and University of St. Joseph. On 12/12/12 she had just completed her final requirements to become a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst.

On that night Rachel wrote ''It is my dream that you know my name as a leader in Behavioral Analysis for children and adults with Autism; however I will be thrilled if I make a few people have an easier more enjoyable life''. Friends and family members are carrying on ''Rachel's dream''. Team Rachel and ''Rachel's Dream'' Team are walking and collecting for Autism Speaks.

At a Celebration of Rachel's Life at the University of Hartford, Russ Ken, Director of New England Autism Speaks, compared Rachel to ''The Giving Tree'' a book by Shell Silverstein. He also said that their mission statement could be summed up in three words, ''Be Like Rachel''. Rachel's other passions in life were karate, photography, cooking and baking. She was working with her Nona to create recipes for an Italian family cookbook. Over the years Rachel had quite a menagerie of animals. She was drawn to dogs, bunnies, birds'' anything with fur, scales, or feathers.

Rachel was a daughter to Mary (Carmody) D'Avino of Bethlehem and Ralph D'Avino of Waterbury. Rachel was an adoring big sister to Sarah and Hannah. She lived at home with her mom, sisters, and stepdad, Peter Paradis. Rachel's best friend and soon-to be-fiance Tony Cerritelli were to be engaged on Christmas Eve. He had just asked her parents' permission to marry her. We all miss her so much and will continue to keep her memory alive.

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3 Scientists To Guide Brain Research Spurred By Newtown Shooting - Hartford Courant

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:36

Three internationally recognized scientists will help guide research into the origins of violent behavior in the brain, an effort funded by a foundation named for a first-grader killed in the Newtown shooting.

The Avielle Foundation was formed by Dr. Jeremy Richman and Dr. Jennifer Hensel, the parents of Avielle Richman, one of 20 first-graders educators killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six educators were also killed.

Our Mission | The Avielle Foundation | Reducing violence in our communities through brain health initiatives and community development to support and protect vulnerable populations.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:37

Our Mission

The mission of The Avielle Foundation is to prevent violence by fostering brain health research, education, and policy; and community development, engagement, and responsibility. The foundation will do so by directing resources to support

Breakthrough research in brain health, bridging behavioral and biochemical sciencesCommunity-based initiatives and programs which: strengthen connectivity, empathy, and understanding; decrease the shame, secrecy, and stigma associated with brain illness; and ultimately facilitate appropriate early-identification and prevention/intervention methods to prevent violence.Our Vision

The Avielle Foundation aims to support and protect our vulnerable loved ones and to strengthen communities through brain health initiatives and community engagement.

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Bullying

Affluenza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 05:15

Affluenza, a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of consumerism. The book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic defines it as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more".[1]

Proponents of the term consider that the prizing of endless increases in material wealth may lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction rather than experiences of a 'better life', and that these symptoms may be usefully captured with the metaphor of a disease. They claim some or even many of those who become wealthy will find the economic success leaving them unfulfilled and hungry only for more wealth, finding that they are unable to get pleasure from the things they buy and that increasingly material things may come to dominate their time and thoughts to the detriment of personal relationships and to feelings of happiness.[2]

A potential criticism of the idea of affluenza is that it presents subjective social critique as an objective, inevitable and debilitating illness.

British psychologist Oliver James asserts that there is a correlation between the increasing nature of affluenza and the resulting increase in material inequality: the more unequal a society, the greater the unhappiness of its citizens.[3] Referring to Vance Packard's thesis The Hidden Persuaders on the manipulative methods used by the advertising industry, James relates the stimulation of artificial needs to the rise in affluenza. To highlight the spread of affluenza in societies with varied levels of inequality, James interviewed people in several cities including Sydney, Singapore, Auckland, Moscow, Shanghai, Copenhagen and New York.

James also believes that higher rates of mental disorders are the consequence of excessive wealth-seeking in consumerist nations.[4] In a graph created from multiple data sources, James plots "Prevalence of any emotional distress" and "Income inequality", attempting to show that English-speaking nations have nearly twice as much emotional distress as mainland Europe and Japan: 21.6 percent vs 11.5 percent.[5] James defines affluenza as 'placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances (physical and social) and fame', and this becomes the rationale behind the increasing mental illness in English-speaking societies. He explains the greater incidence of affluenza as the result of 'selfish capitalism', the market Liberal political governance found in English-speaking nations as compared to the less selfish capitalism pursued in mainland Europe. James asserts that societies can remove the negative consumerist effects by pursuing real needs over perceived wants, and by defining themselves as having value independent of their material possessions.

In Australia[edit]Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss' book, Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, poses the question: "If the economy has been doing so well, why are we not becoming happier?" (p vii). They argue that affluenza causes over-consumption, "luxury fever", consumer debt, overwork, waste, and harm to the environment. These pressures lead to "psychological disorders, alienation and distress" (p 179), causing people to "self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption" (p 180).

They note that a number of Australians have reacted by "downshifting" '-- they decided to "reduce their incomes and place family, friends and contentment above money in determining their life goals". Their critique leads them to identify the need for an "alternative political philosophy", and the book concludes with a "political manifesto for wellbeing".[6]

Criticism[edit]In one research study, the results "showed little evidence of the hypothesized level of affluenza in the American working population, with some limited impact of age, gender and education".[7] Meanwhile, writer Tim Cavanaugh points to the difficulty of implementing any sort of reform to the problem of Affluenza: "The genius of the simplicity movement was to shape a political argument (an extraordinarily broad and total critique of commercial exchange) into a spiritual koan (why am I so unfulfilled by my Big Macs and gadgets when simple Bushmen have all the soul nourishment they need?). A vision that broad, however, turns out to be difficult to follow to its logical conclusion. David Wann, president of the Sustainable Futures Society and one of De Graaf's two co-authors on Affluenza, describes the overstimulated economy of the post-Reagan era as a "completely toxic loaf," yet he also supports the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $500 billion economic stimulus component- both because more than $100 billion of that spending is targeted at environmental-ish initiatives and because "we don't want the whole ship to sink.[8] "

See also[edit]References[edit]^Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, John de Graaf, David Wann & Thomas H. Naylor, ISBN 1-57675-199-6^Zehnre, Ozzie (2012). Improving Consumption in Green IIIusions. U. Nebraska Press. pp. 235''238. ^James, Oliver (2007). Affluenza: How to Be Successful and Stay Sane. Vermilion. ISBN 978-0-09-190011-3. ^James, Oliver (2008). The Selfish Capitalist. Vermilion. ISBN 978-0-09-192381-5. ^James, Oliver (2007). "Appendix 2: Emotional Distress and Inequality: Selfish vs Unselfish Capitalist Nations". Affluenza: How to be Successful and Stay Sane. London: Vermilion. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-09-190010-6. "1. The mean prevalences of emotional distress for the six English-speaking nations combined is 21.6%. The mean for the other nations, mainland Western Europe plus Japan, is 11.5%." ^http://www.wellbeingmanifesto.net/^Lorenzi, Peter; Zhang, Jason Q.; Friedmann, Roberto (1 May 2010). "Looking for Sin in All the Wrong Places: An Empirical Investigation of the Affluenza Construct". Journal of Behavioral & Applied Management11 (3): 232''248. ^Cavanaugh, Tim (April 2009). "Stop the Great Chastisement, I'm Not Getting Off". Reason (Los Angeles) 40 (11): 62''63. Further reading[edit]External links[edit]

2TTH

Health director Loretta Fuddy dies in plane crash off Hawaii | Mail Online

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:09

Loretta Fuddy named as victim in light aircraft crashRescue crews alerted after second pilot spotted debris in the seaBy Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 02:06 EST, 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 05:36 EST, 12 December 2013

Victim: Health director Loretta Fuddy was named by government sources as the plane crash victim

Hawaii's health director has died after a light aircraft carrying nine people crashed in the sea off the island of Molokai on Wednesday.

Loretta Fuddy, who was on an annual visit to the the island, was named as the sole victim in the crash by state government sources.

One passenger was able to swim to shore and the others on board the Cessna Grand Caravan were rescued by helicopter and boat.

The Makani Kai Air plane, which was scheduled to fly to Honolulu at 3.15pm, went down at about 3.45pm, half a mile northwest of Kalaupapa peninsula, Maui Fire Department spokesman Lee Mainaga said.

Ms Fuddy had been booked on the flight along with the health department's deputy director Keith Yamamoto, a spokeswoman for the department said.

Two government sources later confirmed to Kitv that Ms Fuddy had died.

The 65-year-old, who had won awards for her work with children and social work, had been appointed as director in 2011.

Ms Fuddy and Mr Yamamoto had been on an annual visit to Kalaipapa, a former colony for leprosy sufferers.

The remote peninsula on the north side of Molokai still houses a settlement for patients with leprosy, which is run by the Health Department.

Three of the crash survivors were plucked from the sea by a Coast Guard helicopter and fire crews saved five others.

Crash: A Makani Kai Air plane was carrying nine people when it crashed in the sea

Remote: Radio and cell phone communications are poor in Molokai

No emergency calls were received from the pilot of the stricken aircraft, and the accident was called in by another pilot who had spotted debris in the sea, Khon 2 reported.

'Kalaupapa is a unique area and radio communication is kind of poor there, cell phone coverage, that kind of stuff. So right now, we have no information if any calls were made out,' Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Air, said.

The pilot who reported the crash continued to fly around the crash site and relayed information to authorities to help guide them to the wreckage.

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Loretta Fuddy Receives Subpoena to Produce Original "Typewritten" Obama Birth Certificate on June 27, 2011 (May 25, 2011)

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Loretta Fuddy Receives Subpoena to Produce Original "Typewritten"Obama Birth Certificate on June 27, 2011

From Ken Adachi, Editorhttp://educate-yourself.org/cn/lorettafuddysupoenatoappear24may11.shtmlMay 24, 2011

Loretta Fuddy Receives Subpoena to Produce Original "Typewritten" Obama Birth Certificate on June 27, 2011 (May 25, 2011)

After being denied by Hawaii's State Registrar and Chief Office of Health Status Monitoring, Alvin T Onaka, a May 9, 2011 UIPA request (see letter reproduced below) to examine the original, typewritten birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama II, Attorney Orly Taitz turned to the The United States District Court, District of Columbia and obtained a subpoena for Loretta Fuddy, Director of Hawaii Department of Health, to give a deposition at her office on June 27, 2011. The subpoena was issued by Judge Royce Lamberth in case number 11-cv-402, TAITZ V. ASTRUE and said:

"You are commanded to produce and permit inspection and copying of the following documents or objects at the place, date, and time specified below (list documents or objects)

Original 1961 typewritten birth certificate # 10541 for Barack Hussein Obama II, issued 08.08.1961, signed by Dr. David A. Sinclair, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama and registrar Lee, stored in the Health Department of the state of HI from 08.08.1961 until now

Place [of deposition]:

1250 Punchbowl St., Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813"

Undoubtedly, the Indonesian Usurper's Damage Control Team will now feverishly labor in league with the corrupt Hawaiian State Health Department officials and the equally corrupt Hawaii governor's office to do everything possible to prevent Loretta Fuddy from appearing for a deposition because there is no "original 1961 typewritten" Hawaiian birth certificate to examine and revealing that on June 27, 2011 would ultimately result in the indictments of Loretta Fuddy, the governor, and numerous other Hawaiian government officials for felony conspiracy to obstruct justice.

So I don't expect the deposition to take place, but this could be the 'beginning of the end' for the corrupt and complicit jackals who shame the people of Hawaii and disgrace the offices of the Hawaiian State Health Department and governor's office. It might also be the first domino to tip over in the long awaited denouement of the most ineligible and contemptible scoundrel to ever enter the pages of American history, Barry Soetoro, aka Barack Hussein Obama II.

It's hard to get over the hubris, arrogance, and criminality of these Hawaiian State Health Department officials. Do they not understand the meaning of the words "public record"? The reason that legislative bills, police records, real estate records, and vital statistic records-including birth records are all -under law- classified as "public record" is to allow any member of the public to examine them. The idea is that in a representative democracy, these records are available to the public to insure transparency and freedom from malfeasance through public scrutiny. The ludicrous defense presented of "protecting" the privacy of the record holders is untenable and contrary to established law.

Ken Adachi

P.S. While I do not know if she will give a deposition of June 27, I am quite certain, however, that Loretta will have no problem with "irregularity" for the next 30 days.

Letter from Alvin T Onaka, dated May 19, 2011, rejecting Orly Taitz's UIPA request to see Obama's orginal typewritten birth certificate:

***

Supoena issued by Judge Royce Lamberth to Loretta Fuddy commanding her to give deposition on June 27, 2011 at her office in Hawaii:

Copyright 2011 Educate-Yourself.org All Rights Reserved.

Robin Hoodlums

BBC News - Comic Relief money invested in arms and tobacco shares

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 12:08

10 December 2013Last updated at 05:23 ET By Declan LawnBBC PanoramaMillions of pounds donated to Comic Relief have been invested in funds with shares in tobacco, alcohol and arms firms, BBC Panorama has learned.

The BBC has also seen evidence which suggests Save the Children censored criticism of energy firms, to avoid upsetting corporate partners.

Comic Relief said it used its funds to "deliver the greatest benefits to the most vulnerable people".

Save the Children said its campaigns were unaffected by any partnerships.

Comic Relief

Comic Relief has raised nearly £1bn for worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad.

It pays out the money it receives to other charities, sometimes over several years.

That means Comic Relief holds tens of millions of pounds at any one time.

The charity uses a number of managed funds which invests that money on the charity's behalf, including in the stock market.

Panorama has learnt that between 2007 and 2009, some of these investments, amounting to millions of pounds, appear to contradict several of its core aims.

Despite its mission statement claiming it is committed to helping "people affected by conflict", in 2009 the charity had £630,000 invested in shares in weapons firm BAE Systems.

Comic Relief also had more than £300,000 invested in shares in the alcohol industry despite its mission statement saying it is "working to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise alcohol related harm".

The majority was invested in Diageo, which manufactures dozens of alcoholic drinks and was recently criticised by the Health Select Committee for exploiting weaknesses in the regulation of alcohol advertising.

Comic Relief also appeals for money to fight tuberculosis and has given over £300,000 to a charity called Target Tuberculosis.

Target TB believes that smoking may be responsible for over 20% of TB cases worldwide.

While raising funds in 2009, nearly £3m of Comic Relief money was invested in shares in tobacco companies.

'Risking their reputation'

During that time, entrepreneur and Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne was a full trustee of Comic Relief.

In 2008 he made a BBC documentary attacking a tobacco company for targeting African children.

He told Panorama he "wouldn't put donors' money into tobacco companies" and said charities should invest ethically.

Ethical fund manager Helen Wildsmith looks after the cash of thousands of charities.

She said she was surprised that a charity as high profile as Comic Relief would risk its reputation and future donations.

"If people who've been giving them money, after watching the television, next year think twice and don't give that money, because they're concerned about their investment policy, then that could be argued to be a breach of fiduciary duty."

Comic Relief has now changed the way it presents its accounts and it is currently impossible for the public to tell which funds the charity currently invests in.

It declined to comment on whether any money invested since 2009 is in shares in alcohol, arms, or tobacco companies.

Comic Relief said its approach is within regulatory guidelines.

"We put the money into large managed funds, as many other leading charities and pension funds do," they said.

"On balance, we believe this is the approach that will deliver the greatest benefits to the most vulnerable people."

Continue reading the main story Declan Lawn presents Panorama - All in a Good Cause BBC One, Tuesday 10 December at 22:35 BST And Comic Relief co-founder and former chair of trustees Peter Bennett-Jones told the Guardian the investments were made according to legal guidelines stating that they must yield the best possible financial return.

The Charity Commission, he said, made it clear that trustees "should only adopt an ethical investment approach with specific justification and not on the grounds of individual moral views".

Sam Younger, Charity Commission chief executive, said: "If a charity says 'we need to invest for the maximum financial return' that is right,"

"If they go on to say 'we therefore can't have an ethical investment policy', that's wrong," he said.

Save the Children

Panorama has also seen evidence to suggest that Save the Children censored its criticism of the energy industry to avoid upsetting potential and existing corporate partners.

Its 10 year relationship with British Gas ended in November 2012 having yielded £1.5m.

Dominic Nutt, its former head of news from 2007 to 2009, told the BBC that he was keen to campaign on the issue of rising energy prices when he worked at the charity but was stopped from doing so.

"Every year I would prepare a line on that, to go to the media, to criticise British Gas. Every year, it would be quashed," he said.

"It was a clear, 'We can't do that, because we take money from British Gas...' - that would have come down from on high."

Save the Children ran a fuel poverty campaign in January 2012 which criticised the Big Six Energy suppliers but it singled out British Gas as doing the most to help poorer families.

Justin Forsyth, current CEO of Save the Children, said: "We would never decide not to campaign on something because of a corporate partnership."

"And we're quite explicit when we go into these corporate partnerships that we won't muzzle our voice," he said.

Panorama has also seen internal emails from the Save the Children's Corporate Partnerships team, who were pitching to become EDF's charity partner - a deal which could have earned Save the Children £600,000 over three years.

The emails raised concerns about risking a potential partnership with EDF by running a fuel poverty campaign.

Justin Forsyth said: "With this specific case we were never going to launch a campaign on energy prices."

Ministry of Truth

Putin dissolves state news agency, tightens grip on Russia media | Reuters

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Archived Version

Mon, 09 Dec 2013 16:32

By Timothy Heritage

MOSCOWMon Dec 9, 2013 10:12am EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during his meeting with Armenian President Serge Sarksyan in Yerevan December 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia's media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow's image abroad.

The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin's hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule.

Most Russian media outlets are already loyal to Putin, and opponents get little air time, but the shake-up underlined their importance to Putin keeping power and the Kremlin's concern about the president's ratings and image.

The head of the new agency, to be built from the ashes of RIA Novosti, is a conservative news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov, who once caused outrage by saying the organs of homosexuals should not be used in transplants.

"The main focus of ... Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) is to highlight abroad the state policy and public life of the Russian Federation," said a decree signed by Putin.

Sergei Ivanov, the head of the presidential administration, told reporters that the changes were intended to save money and improve the state media.

But the new organization has strong similarities to APN, a Soviet-era news agency whose role included writing articles about "the social-economic and cultural life of the Soviet people and items reflecting Soviet society's point of view on important internal and international events".

RIA said in an English-language article about Putin's step: "The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia's news landscape which appear to point towards a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector."

Rossiya Segodnya's focus on building up Russia abroad could solidify Putin's grip on information by further limiting sources of news for Russians whose TV screens are dominated by state-controlled channels.

Putin's decree appeared to have little effect on the two other major Russian news agencies, state-run Itar-Tass and private Interfax, but it could benefit both by making RIA's replacement less of a competitor domestically.

Itar-Tass is the successor of the Soviet official Tass agency, while Interfax has more leeway as a private agency but is restricted by the Kremlin's dominance.

NEWS BOSS COURTS CONTROVERSY

A prominent member of parliament, Alexei Mitrofanov, described Kiselyov as a "powerful propagandist" but said this was a good thing and that he was suitable for the job.

In his third term, after weathering protests led by urban liberals, the 61-year-old Putin has often appealed to conservatives and championed the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral guide for society.

Kiselyov has proved a loyal Putin supporter as a television presenter, at times making provocative remarks. In 2010 he said homosexuals should be banned from donating blood or sperm and last year said they should also be banned from donating organs.

Putin has been Russia's dominant leader since he was first elected president in 2000. He began his third term in the Kremlin in May 2012 after stepping aside to serve for four years as prime minister because of constitutional limits.

The opposition staged big street protests against him for several months from December 2011, following a parliamentary election they said was rigged. The demonstrations have faded but Putin's popularity ratings have declined from their peak during his first two terms - from 2000 until 2008.

The Kremlin extended its grip over radio and television broadcasting on November 26 when the media arm of state-controlled Gazprom bought mining tycoon Vladimir Potanin's Profmedia.

Through the deal, the ex-Soviet gas ministry - now Russia's largest firm by revenue - will add TV and radio stations, cinemas and film production and distribution assets to a sprawling portfolio built up around commercial channel NTV.

The Kremlin already funds an English-language TV channel called RT which was initially known as Russia Today. It is not clear whether the two will operate separately and RT's head, Margarita Simonyan, said she had been unaware of the move.

The new organization will be created in RIA Novosti's headquarters in central Moscow. The fate of its journalists and other employees was not immediately clear.

RIA Novosti was created as the Soviet Information Bureau in 1941, after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and issues reports in Russian and foreign languages.

(This story has been refiled to delete extraneous word in 4th paragraph)

(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Alexei Kalmykov; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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New York High Court Dismisses Subpoena Issued Against Fox News Reporter Over Confidential Sources - Hit & Run : Reason.com

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:55

Fox NewsThe New York state court of appeals (the highest court in the state of New York) today reversed, in a 4-3 decision, the ruling of a lower court (called the Supreme Court) that had issued a subpoena for Fox News reporter Jana Winter to testify in Colorado about the identity of her confidential sources in the James Holmes case. Holmes' attorneys had gone after Winter, alleging her sources must have broken their own confidentiality agreements. After reviewing the applicable state journalist ''shield law,'' the state constitution, and previous case law, the court ruled (pdf) that:

It is therefore evident'... that a New York court could not compel Winter to reveal the identity of the sources that supplied information to her in relation to her online news article about Holmes' notebook. Holmes does not argue otherwise but relies on our decision in Matter of Codey (Capital Cities, Am. Broadcasting Corp.) (supra, 82 NY2d 521) for the proposition that, when New York functions as the "sending state" in relation to a CPL 640.10(2) application, issues concerning testimonial privilege -- including the applicability of the absolute privilege afforded by the Shield Law '' simply cannot be considered by a New York court.

The majority opinion dismissed Holmes' argument because the Codey case involved New Jersey, which has shield laws similar to New York's, while the Winter case involved Colorado, which has much weaker journalist protections. Winter faced jail time if she were to refuse, as she had planned, to testify in Colorado. The dissenting opinion focused on the perceived overreach of the majority's decision, claiming that it has extended the state's shield laws throughout the country and around the world, something other jurisdictions, the dissent argued, might not honor.

Judge Andrew Napolitano argued why concepts of federalism should protect Winter earlier last month.

UPDATE: Fox News provided the following comment to us from Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes: "Today's ruling is a major win for all journalists. The protection of Jana Winter's confidential sources was necessary for the survival of journalism and democracy as a whole. We are very grateful that the highest court in New York State agreed with our position."

CYBER!

How business can shed light on the 'dark net' - CNBC

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Mon, 09 Dec 2013 15:14

Law enforcement agencies around the world have been calling on the tech industry to help eradicate the so-called "dark net" '' the hidden, unregulated online marketplace for counterfeit goods, drugs, hitmen and child abuse.

Here is a look at why this vast hidden network is of such concern and how the fight to shut it down is going.

Sinister Marketplace

The "dark net" '' which is also called the "dark web" -- is found within the "deep web", a vast online space of databases and websites that are not indexed by traditional search engines like Google or Yahoo whose content makes up what the tech industry calls the "surface web."

Experts often use an iceberg analogy: While the "surface web" that most of us use contains around a billion individual documents is the tip of the iceberg, the "deep web" is the immense submerged part that we cannot see '' approximately 550 billion documents and web pages.

Much of this un-indexed content in the "deep web" is off-limits and can only be accessed via specific networks that claim to provide untraceable access to certain web content -- and anonymity for the websites within those networks.

The most famous of these networks is Tor, which stands for "The Onion Router." Tor claims to obfuscate the devices and locations of users by routing their requests through different servers across the world multiple times (hence the onion layer analogy). Other networks include Freenet and I2P ("Invisible Internet Project").

Anyone entering the "dark net" of anonymous websites through an anonymization network such as Tor could encounter openly a sinister marketplace of illegal activity. Those accessing the dark net can find Illegal drugs, counterfeit goods, websites purportedly offering hitmen for hire, the open trade of hacking tools and what one cybercrime expert described as "horrific child abuse and live streaming of rape."

While Tor's ability to offer anonymously hosted websites is not illegal, such veiled networks have allowed criminal organisations to flourish.

"Unfortunately, the anonymity these services [like Tor] create has been exploited by criminals of all kinds," Troels Oerting, head of Europol's (the European-wide law enforcement agency) Cybercrime Centre, told CNBC. "Organized criminals dealing in stolen goods, weapons, drugs and intellectual property rights have (mis)used the dark net to provide 'bullet proof' delivery of all kind of illicit commodity."

Apart from terrorists "enjoying the possibility of anonymity to communicate with cells around the world" and "contract killers" offer their services on the dark net, Oerting added that illegal activities also included the "crime as a service" sector '' such as the open selling of hacking tools such as malware.

Cyber fraudsters have expanded their efforts from individuals to the wider corporate world and the mass "harvesting" of private data and it has become common for them to deploy malicious software ''"malware" specifically designed to penetrate computers networks en masse.

All this poses an immense challenge for law enforcement agencies in their fight against cybercrime and they have approached cyber technology experts, software developers and internet security firms for advice and security software.

'A Game of Cat and Mouse'

Malware has given cyber-thieves an opportunity to infect and access the data on millions of computers, but it has also given rise to information security companies that provide "threat intelligence solutions" to companies, scanning the dark web's content and alerting companies to their online vulnerabilities or if their data is found circulating where it shouldn't be.

One such U.K.-based firm, Trustwave, hit the headlines in December when it's crack team of "ethical hackers" discovered two million stolen Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo passwords that were most likely collected by a cybercriminal gang using malware.

(Read more:Car hacking: The next global cybercrime?)

Managing to highlight the threat of cybercrime to the public -- while advertising Trustwave's services at the same time -- the company's experts believe the data was harvested by a "botnet" '' a tool used by criminals to distribute malware to infect a large network of computers that they can then access and control. Such malware is openly traded in the "dark net."

Leading cyber security expert Raj Samani, chief technology officer at computer security software firm McAfee, said that a "public-private partnership" had developed between software developers providing solutions against cybercrime and law enforcement agencies trying to tackle the "dark web."

For his part, Samani is an advisor to Europol's Cybercrime Centre within its "internet security" advisory group alongside global experts from Cisco, Verizon, Microsoft and Infineon. The experts alert agencies of technological and software advances '' both by developers and by cybercriminals -- that could help or hinder the fight against cybercrime.

Samani added that with the sale and accessibility of child abuse material online, "there has been a rise in the number of individuals storing such content on corporate resources, resulting in the adoption of technologies from companies like Netclean."

Netclean says it integrates "social responsibility and advanced technology" to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and its technology is used by multinational companies, government agencies, Internet service providers and law enforcement professionals.

(Read more:Copycat Silk Road drug site reopens after FBI raid)

Despite cybercrime-fighting software becoming a booming business in its own right which helps the private and public sector to tackle illicit networks and criminality, a large part of why law enforcement agencies around the world are perturbed by the "dark net" is its constantly innovating character.

McAfee's Samani likened attempts to catch criminals on the "dark web" to a game of cat and mouse. "Some dark web sites can be infiltrated and people do make mistakes but it's a cat-and-mouse game of criminals evolving their techniques to evade detection and society constantly having to adapt. There is this cycle of constant innovation," he said. "Now you have traditional criminals using technology to make crime more efficient."

Abuse of Privacy

For their part, governments are certainly aware of the problem but have been criticized for doing too little too late to tackle online illegality.

The U.K.'s Prime Minister David Cameron heralded a deal with the likes of Google and Yahoo in which the search engines agreed to outlaw thousands of search terms relating to child abuse. While a step in the right direction, analysts told CNBC that it was unlikely to tackle the illicit content within the "dark net", telling CNBC that most internet users searching such content would not use overt search engines anyway - they would go onto the "dark net."

(Read more: The threat from cybercrime? 'You ain't seen nothing yet')

While "doing nothing" is not an option for governments or law enforcement agencies either, there is also widespread reluctance to allow agencies a "catch-all" approach to internet surveillance. "All of us want privacy on the net but there is also the need of law enforcement agencies to know what's going on," Samani noted. "It's a balance between giving agencies access to data and privacy."

In fact, some cyber crime experts like Dr Tim Watson, Director of the Cyber Security Centre at the De Montfort university in the U.K, told CNBC that "not everything on the 'dark web' is bad and law enforcement agencies should concentrate on certain websites more than others'...these agencies can pick up traffic patterns and can then target their efforts."

Watson said the public should be as concerned about the "dark web's" illicit content as much as they are about potential abuses of privacy by governments, a view echoed by the scientific director of the Brussels-based European Privacy Association (EPA).

"Governments can go in two directions now. One direction is to use the budget for security on increased surveillance. That would be the easiest way [for them to go] but it would be the wrong way because it would be based on a presumption of unlawful conduct," Paolo Balboni told CNBC.

Cybercrime experts were also keen to stress that networks like Tor '' which was itself created by the U.S. Navy to protect government communications '' have many positive benefits such as protecting internet users from identity theft or the communication of political dissidents or journalists in repressive regimes.

For its part, Tor directed CNBC to its online statement on illegal use and "abuse" of its technology. "We take abuse seriously. Activists and law enforcement use Tor to investigate abuse and help support survivors. We work with them to help them understand how Tor can help their work."

It also insisted: "Criminals would still have access to botnets, stolen phones, hacked hosting accounts, the postal system, couriers, corrupt officials, and whatever technology emerges to trade content" whether Tor existed or not.

Assessments | ICS-CERT

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Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:23

OverviewThe Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET®) is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) product that assists organizations in protecting their key national cyber assets. It was developed under the direction of the DHS Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) by cybersecurity experts and with assistance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This tool provides users with a systematic and repeatable approach for assessing the security posture of their cyber systems and networks. It includes both high-level and detailed questions related to all industrial control and IT systems.

Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET) Fact Sheet

Onsite Consultation and Self-Evaluation Fact Sheet

PurposeCSET is a desktop software tool that guides users through a step-by-step process to assess their control system and information technology network security practices against recognized industry standards. The output from CSET is a prioritized list of recommendations for improving the cybersecurity posture of the organization's enterprise and industrial control cyber systems. The tool derives the recommendations from a database of cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and practices. Each recommendation is linked to a set of actions that can be applied to enhance cybersecurity controls.

CSET has been designed for easy installation and use on a stand-alone laptop or workstation. It incorporates a variety of available standards from organizations such as NIST, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and others. When the tool user selects one or more of the standards, CSET will open a set of questions to be answered. The answers to these questions will be compared against a selected security assurance level, and a detailed report will be generated to show areas for potential improvement. CSET provides an excellent means to perform a self-assessment of the security posture of your control system environment.

Key BenefitsCSET contributes to an organization's risk management and decision-making processRaises awareness and facilitates discussion on cybersecurity within the organizationHighlights vulnerabilities in the organization's systems and provides recommendations on ways to address the vulnerabilityIdentifies areas of strength and best practices being followed in the organizationProvides a method to systematically compare and monitor improvement in the cyber systemsProvides a common industry-wide tool for assessing cyber systemsHow to Obtain it CSETCSET is available for download at the following link:

Download CSET here

As an alternative to the downloadable version, a CSET CD is available from DHS ICS-CSERT. To request a copy, please send an email to: CSET@hq.dhs.gov. Please insert "CSET" in the subject line of the email and include your name, organization name, complete street address (no P.O. boxes), and phone number in your email request.

Alternatively, the Control Systems Security Program also offers onsite training and guidance to asset owners in using CSET during onsite assessments. These assessments are conducted at no cost to the asset owners. To assist an organization in planning and organizing an assessment using CSET, the following actions and items are recommended:

Identify the assessment team members and schedule a date.Become familiar with information about the organization's system and network by reviewing polices and procedures, network topology diagrams, inventory lists of critical assets and components, risk assessments, IT and ICS network policies/practices, and organizational roles and responsibilities.Select a meeting location to accommodate the assessment team during the question and answer portion of the assessment.Work with ICS-CERT for onsite or subject matter support.To request onsite assistance, please send mail to cset@dhs.gov.

Downloading and Installing CSET | ICS-CERT

Link to Article

Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:24

A set of video tutorials have been added to Version 5.1 of CSET. The DVD version includes both the regular videos and a full set of tutorials with closed captioning added. Because of size limitations, the full DVD content could not practically be downloaded from the Web. To address the size issue, two downloads are now available. The first is the application without videos, (similar to Version 5.0) and the second is the set of regular videos. To receive the closed captioning version you must request the DVD from DHS.

The two files are:

CSET51.iso (the application), and

CSETVideos.iso (the video tutorials).

Each ISO file includes the installation program. You can download, install and run the application without the videos, but you cannot run the videos without the application.

To install both the application and the videos, burn each iso file to either a physical or virtual DVD, then install the application first before the videos.

The CSET download is in a file format known as ''ISO''. This file is an ''image'' of the equivalent files within the CSET DVD. Because of this format, it is necessary to process the download using one of the following methods:

Mounting the File- this method loads the ISO file using utility software to make the file appear like a virtual drive with the original DVD loaded.Burning the file to DVD '' this method uses CD/DVD-burn software and the ISO file to burn the files onto your own DVD to create a physical disk identical to the CSET original.Either case requires a separate software utility. There are a variety of both free and purchased utility programs available through the Internet that will work with the ISO file format. As DHS does not recommend any specific application or vendor, it will be necessary for you to find a product that provides the necessary functionality. Step by step instructions for each method are provided below:

Mounting the FileCLICK the ''Download CSET'' link on this page to download the ISO file for the program software.CLICK the ''Download Video Tutorials'' link on this page to download the ISO file for the video tutorials.SAVE the file to your hard drive of choice (i.e., your computer hard drive or USB drive) maintaining the file name and extension (.iso.)RUN your ISO-specific utility program that is capable of mounting the file. (If you do not have an iso utility application you will need to find and install one before continuing with these instructions.) COMPLETE the instructions within the utility software to create a virtual drive using the ISO file.COMPLETE Installing the CSET Program instructions. Burning the file to CD or DVDCLICK the 'Download' button on this page to download the ISO file.SAVE the file to the hard drive on your computer.INSERT a blank, writeable DVD into the computer's CD/DVD drive.RUN your DVD-burn utility program. COMPLETE the instructions on your utility program to burn the ISO image to your DVD. (If you do not have an application that can do this, then you will need to find and install one before continuing with these instructions.)COMPLETE Installing the CSET Program instructions.Installing the CSET ProgramGO to the root directory of your new virtual drive or CD/DVD containing the CSET files.DOUBLE-CLICK the Setup.exe file to execute. This will initiate the installer program.COMPLETE the instructions in the installer wizard to install the CSET program.Repeat these steps if you are also installing the video tutorials. Remember to install the CSET program first.READ the material within the ReadMe document for a summary explanation of how to use the tool. Help is also available through the User Guide, screen guidance text, and general and screen specific video tutorials.System Requirements/TroubleshootingIn order to execute CSET, the following minimum system hardware and software is required:

Pentium dual core 2.2 GHz processor (Intel x86 compatible)DVD drive if creating a physical DVD4 GB free disk space3 GB of RAMMicrosoft Windows 7* or higherMicrosoft Office compatible (.doc or .docx) document reader and PDF readerMicrosoft Visio 2007 or 2010 is required if Visio is the preferred tool to create or revise the network diagramCSET 5.1 installs the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 Full Runtime if required.

*It is highly recommended that Windows be fully patched through Windows Update.

Download CSET

AFRIKA

Presidential Memorandum -- Central African Republic Drawdown

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:10

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 10, 2013

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Section 506(a)(1)

of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as Amended

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, to direct the drawdown of up to $60 million in defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense (DOD) and defense services of the DOD to provide assistance to France, the African Union, the Republic of the Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and other countries that contribute forces to the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

GAS/LNG

Shell: productie Noordpool vanaf 2025

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: VK: Home

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 14:18

Bewerkt door: redactie '' 11/12/13, 12:36 '' bron: ANP

(C) ANP. vertrekkend bestuursvoorzitter Peter Voser

Shell kan vanaf 2025 beginnen met de productie van olie en gas in het noordpoolgebied. Dat heeft vertrekkend bestuursvoorzitter Peter Voser gezegd in zijn afscheidsinterview op de website van het concern.

Volgens Voser heeft Shell de middelen om op een duurzame wijze te produceren op de Noordpool en worden voorbereidingen getroffen om in 2014 of 2015 proefboringen te doen. Vorig jaar werd de zoektocht van Shell naar olie en gas ten noorden van Alaska geplaagd door technische problemen en slecht weer. Dit jaar werd een pauze ingelast om de gang van zaken in 2012 te onderzoeken, aldus Voser.

De topman gaf verder aan dat schaliegas voor Shell op de lange termijn belangrijk is, ondanks tegenvallers in de Verenigde Staten. Hij ziet een toekomst voor schaliegas in Europa, maar denkt dat de ontwikkelingen wel langer zullen duren. Er is volgens hem gebrek aan regulering en beleid. De Europese bijdrage aan de schaliegasactiviteiten van Shell zal relatief gering zijn, denkt Voser.

Geen bedreigingDe vertrekkend topman ziet geen bedreiging in hernieuwbare energie voor de olie- en gasindustrie. Voser denkt dat op de lange termijn de energievraag sterk zal stijgen en dat de wereld alle energiebronnen nodig zal hebben. Het aandeel van fossiele brandstoffen bij de energiemix zal in 2050 nog altijd circa 60 procent zijn, denkt Voser.

Hij zei verder dat Shell niet te groot is geworden om nog goed bestuurlijk hanteerbaar te zijn en dat er geen reden is om het bedrijf op te breken. 'Het is duidelijk dat Shell goed gemanaged kan worden. We hebben sterke leiders en de juiste mensen.' Volgens de Zwitser is er al veel ondernomen om de complexiteit van het concern te verminderen, maar kan nog meer worden gedaan.

Voser kondigde in mei zijn vertrek aan bij Shell. Hij zal begin volgend jaar worden opgevolgd door de Nederlander Ben van Beurden.

Vaccine$

City to require flu shots for preschool | Capital New York

Link to Article

Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:22

The New York City board of health voted Wednesday morning to require all children between six months and five years old who attend a city-run day care or preschool program to receive a flu shot.

The regulation passed despite overwhelming opposition during the rule's public comment period, from parents, attorneys and activists who expressed concern to the board about the vaccine's alleged side effects.

But despite these protestations, the board of health was unanimous in its approval, citing the importance of vaccines and their benefits to children, who are particularly susceptible to the flu.

''We know it has had a tremendous role in reducing suffering,'' said board member Deepthiman Gowda. ''I think this is enormously important.''

MORE ON CAPITALADVERTISEMENTAlong with new efforts to regulate tanning salons, and a rule requiring hospitals to report to the Division of Mental Hygiene anyone who is admitted with a psychosis diagnosis, the flu vaccine mandate represents the last hurrah of an activist Bloomberg administration that frequently pushed controversial public health policies.

The flu vaccine is no exception. About 90 percent of all comments the health department received were against the proposals.

That did not sway board members, who repeatedly emphasized the safety and efficacy of flu vaccines.

''There is no doubt this will save lives,'' said board member Sandro Galea, a renowned epidemiologist.

New Jersey and Connecticut have similar requirements in place.

The city has made a concerted effort to have more children vaccinated. Last winter, about 61 percent of children between 6 months and 5-years were vaccinated a slight increase over the 2012 number.

The health department is targeting children because they are more vulnerable to the effects of the flu and more likely to spread the virus.

For that reason, questions of civil liberties must take a back seat to protecting the health of the community, said deputy health commissioner Jay Varma.

''These rights have limits when an infection can spread among many people,'' he said.

Varma stressed the vaccine was safe and that there are no known studie showing a correlation between the vaccine and autism, hyperactivity, eczema or epilepsy - all of which were suggested by opponents of the new rule.

''The most common side effects are those you experience with any immunization,'' Varma said, though he conceded there is some evidence linking the vaccine to Guillain-Barr(C) syndrome.

But even the link to Guillain-Barr(C) is tenuous. A12-year retrospective study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, found no link between the syndrome and the flu vaccine. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reached a similar conclusion.

MORE:Author: Dan Goldbergfollow this reporter

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Gates Foundation funds development of a better condom.

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Archived Version

Source: Psychology 350A

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 23:00

From the Verge:

Gates Foundation announces grants to start building a better condomBy Casey Newton

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund research into next-generation condomsthat people can use more effectively to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. The foundation said it will award a pair $100,000 grants to researchers working on improving condoms, two of 81 grants it announced this week improve global health and development.

One grant goes to Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom, who are building a male condom out of a new composite material ''that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability,'' the foundation said. The other grant goes to South Africa's Willem van Rensburg, who is building an applicator called the Rapidom designed to make it easier to put on condoms. The applicator is ''designed to be applied with one motion,'' according to the foundation, ''thereby minimizing interruption.''

The awards were given as part of the foundation's Global Challenges Explorations, which tackle health problems around the world. Grants were also given to projects focused on making research data easier to share, increasing the productivity of female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, and the control of tropical diseases, among others. A full list of the award winners can be found here.

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About Dr. Mallika - Dr. Mallika Marshall

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:47

Dr. Mallika MarshallPhysician, Medical Anchor, Wife and Mother

Dr. Mallika Marshall is the kind of medical doctor you want to consult when you are in need of health advice. Board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, she is on staff at Harvard Medical School and is a practicing physician who treats children and adults at the Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea Urgent Care Clinic.

Dr. Marshall has been a television correspondent for over a decade. She was recently named the Medical Contributor for ''Katie'', Katie Couric's new daytime talk show. Before that she served as a regular medical contributor for the CBS Early Show, CBS Newspath, and the CBS Evening News and as the HealthWatch reporter for the CBS affiliate in Boston, WBZ. She has made recent appearances on ABC News Now and Fox and Friends.

Dr. Marshall recently served as the Medical Director for Everyday Health, the Internet's most popular source of medical news and information for consumers. Dr. Marshall appeared frequently on ''Everyday Health'', the weekly television show on ABC stations, on which she helped provide viewers with a better understanding of a broad range of health issues, from childhood bullying to epilepsy to diabetes.

Dr. Marshall also served as the host of ''Dr. Mallika Marshall,'' a series of health news reports that was nationally syndicated and aired in more than 70 markets, including major cities such as San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Houston.

Dr. Marshall can currently be seen giving live expert medical advice on New England Cable News (NECN) in all six New England states.

A cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Marshall received her medical degree at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF), with honors. She completed her medical residency at Harvard in internal medicine and pediatrics. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Urgent Care Foundation and on the Board of Directors for Dress for Success Boston. In addition to numerous medical awards, she was also an associate editor of the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide and a contributing editor for the Harvard Medical School affiliated website, InteliHealth.

Dr. Marshall is writing a series of children's books that will deliver healthy messages in entertaining stories for school-age children. She is also a wife, a mother of three young children, and the daughter of former ABC News anchor, Carole Simpson.

VIDEOS

VIDEO- Blutige Sch¤tze Der Antikenhandel und der Terror Reportage ¼ber Antikenhandel Teil 2 - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:30

VIDEO- Jen Psaki on India Supreme Court ruling on homosexuality - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:27

VIDEO- Arsenio Hall Speaks On Kanye West Bringing Up His Name In Rant (Full Video) - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:22

VIDEO- Are YOU A News Junkie? New Study Shows Watching News Can Cause Acute Stress! - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:49

VIDEO-Just An Earth-Bound Misfit, I: The Weather Wimps of Southern California

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:42

Pussies. All of them.

VIDEO- FBI Creates Anti Terror Task Force To Combat Laser Pointing Incidents! - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:55

VIDEO- Sandy Hook Families Say They Want Their Privacy Back (Which Is Why They Go On TV Every Other Day) - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:28

VIDEO-Biden: One year after Newtown, $100 million to mental health services - NBC Politics

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:32

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden hosted a meeting with some of the families of those lost to gun violence, as he announced new funding for mental health care. NBC's Kate Snow reports.

By Carrie Dann, NBC News

As the one year anniversary of the Newtown school shooting approaches, Vice President Joe Biden announced $100 million towards improving access to mental health services and facilities.

In a statement, the White House said the funds would be made available to increase access to services and improve mental health facilities. The funding comes both from the new health care law and from the Department of Agriculture.

''The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable,'' Biden said. ''The President and I have made it a priority to do everything we can to make it easier to access mental health services, and today's announcements by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture build on that commitment.''

Biden was slated to make the announcement at the White House at a meeting with families of the Newtown victims.

VIDEO- EU set for more Cyprus-style bail-ins for troubled banks | StratRisks

Link to Article

Archived Version

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 21:37

Source: NBC

European finance ministers have reached the basis of an agreement to wind down failing banks and share the costs, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told CNBC following a 16-hour marathon negotiating session in Brussels.

The agreement is expected to begin with a Cyprus-style ''bail-in'' process in which major depositors in failing banks are tapped first in an effort to support the lender.

Then, if more cash is needed, national resolution funds would be used. And if further funds are needed, these would be pooled from across the region over the next five to 10 years, forming the basis of a common fund.

''We will have a European fund as far as I'm concerned, but there will be, especially in the first years, some national responsibility,'' said Dijsselbloem.\

''And if that causes a problem then we will have the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] according to the agreed rules. So, I think the outlines of how this will work are becoming more and more clear,'' he added.

In the wake of the global financial crisis, European finance ministers have been working on a plan on what do with failed banks in what is seen as a key part of a banking union. The banking union establishes new rules for bank supervision and dealing with bank failures to avoid government bailouts. It follows over three years of turmoil in the euro zone following bailouts for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

Jose Vinals, International Monetary Fund Financial Counsellor and Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department, told CNBC that it was very important that the euro zone governments ''move the financial domain in order to finish the clean-up of the banks that still have issues that need to be addressed and to advance towards the beginning of the banking union.''

While Vinals said that there was ''good news'' in that Europe seems to be turning a corner and that ''confidence is improving and capital is flowing back to the periphery,'' the economic recovery in the eurozone was still ''weak, it is not sufficiently solid and more still needs to be done in order to make it sustained.'' This included making the banking union happen, he added.

Analysts say the deal is a key step towards protecting the euro zone from another crisis.

But details of the plan have proved controversial, with countries such as Germany '' the euro zone's biggest economy and therefore the largest contributor to rescue efforts '' opposed to a system which would see failing banks tap a euro zone rescue fund.

Other countries such as France and Spain favor a clear outline for the common fund before a deal is agreed.

Djisselbloem said the ''architecture'' of a common rescue fund for European banks was to be discussed in further talks '-- expected to take place on Wednesday next week '-- and he was confident a solution could be found before Christmas.

It was important any single resolution fund agreed upon was ''credible,'' he added.

''I think we all want to make sure that it's credible, that the funds will be available if banks have to be resolved, but luckily we have firm bail-in rules put in place. They will take the first blow, they will deal with the first losses and then if there are more losses then we can go to the fund,'' he said.

Denying that the basis for the current deal failed to address the link between weak sovereigns and the banks, Dijsselbloem said that although ''there will be especially in the first years some national responsibility, if that causes a problem then we have the ESM [the European Stability Mechanism - a bailout fund for struggling euro zone countries] according to the agreed rules.''

VIDEO- Are Concerns About Vaccines Valid? - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:42

VIDEO- Senator Alexander's Chief Of Staff Arrested On Child Porn Charges! - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:34

VIDEO- NBC's "Today" Cheers Cross-Dressing Children's Book "My Princess Boy" - YouTube

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:44

LA Times - The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:30

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VIDEO- Teen avoids jail with 'affluenza' defense - YouTube

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 05:15

VIDEO-Climate Depot's Marc Morano Debates Climate Change on CNN | MRCTV

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Archived Version

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 04:20

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO- Ukrainian Protesters Smash Lenin Statue As Hundreds Of Thousands Protest In The Streets - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:57

VIDEO CNN: Edward Snowden Is A Double Agent That Was Working For The Russians All Along - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:53

VIDEO- Tech Giants Send Letter To Obama & Congress Demanding They Real In Big Brother Suveillance State - YouTube

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Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:45

VIDEO- UKIP Mr. Godfrey Bloom (Dutch NL subs) - YouTube

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:52

VIDEO- President Obama Speaks at a Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela - YouTube

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Wed, 11 Dec 2013 05:17

VIDEO- Les gens vont vous pendre et ils auront raison... (parlement europ(C)en, 21/11/2013) - YouTube

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Tue, 10 Dec 2013 20:06

VIDEO-The Hazards of Live..er..Taped'...er..Live TV?: #25,205 | Inside Cable News

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Archived Version

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 12:06

It's one thing to make a mistake on live TV. It's another thing to make a mistake in tape. And it's an entirely higher level of screw up when both happen at the same time as is the case here when CNN put out this prized piece of self-infliction by airing live a taped recording that has a huge screw up in it.

How bad is this? Well, it survived the edit bay so the editors should all be fired. And it survived to airtime which means the producers should all be fired.

Basically everyone except Brooke Baldwin and Jake Tapper should all be fired. What a disgrace. It was so bad I had to watch it again just to confirm that my eyes did indeed witness the train wreck my brain thought they witnessed. Total amateur hour time.

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